Saturday, October 27, 2012

Flash Fiction My Way - The One

          Seeing the previews for Breaking Dawn 2 got me thinking. How funny would it be if a vampire showed up in some woman's bedroom and the tables were turned on him. Instead of instilling fear, the woman would welcome him, and try to turn him into the romantic hero vampires have become in modern paranormal romances. The scene I envisioned started out funny, but took an unexpected turn as I wrote it. I hope you enjoy The One.

          He breathed in deeply through his nose. The blood was intoxicating. A man and a woman. Who would he kill first? Maybe the man, so the woman's terror would make her blood sweet. A wicked smile spread across his face as he crept in through the bedroom window where he could hear the man snoring. 
          Before the human could react, the vampire pounced, sinking his fangs deep into the man's neck. Trying to shake off sleep fog, the man didn't react at first. As he realized he was being attacked, he started to fight in earnest; but he was no match for the vampire. The human weakened and eventually stopped struggling all together. The vampire smiled as he heard soft footsteps approaching - the woman. He stood up and struck a menacing pose, blood dripping from his extended fangs.
          She opened the door with more stealth than he expected, and tiptoed into the room as quietly as she could. He could see her in the soft back light from the hallway. She was fairly petite, but her silhouette was soft and round under her short, cotton nightgown. When she finally saw him, she froze. He was interested to see how she would react. Would she scream? Would she try to run away? Both excited him.

          What he was not prepared for was the huge smile that lit up her beautiful face. He tried to look more menacing thinking she didn't understand the predicament she was in.
          "I killed your husband," he said for added effect. Still no fear.
          "I can't believe you're really here," she said in awed whisper.
          "Wait...what?" he asked in confusion.
          Before he could figure out what the strange woman was talking about, she ran right at him. He took a step back before she grabbed him around his midsection and pressed her face to his chest.
          "I knew you'd come," she said burrowing into his chest while he stood stiff, staring down at her in shock with his arms straight out at his sides.
          "Uh...I'm here to kill you." He said trying to sound cold.
          "No you're not silly." She let go of him, and tweaked the tip of his nose with her finger and thumb.
          "I'm not?" He touched his nose in surprise. "Then what am I here for?"
          "I'm the one." When he looked confused, she continued. "You know, the one you have been looking for your whole life."
          At that, he laughed harder than he had in a long time. The smile lingered on his face. The woman was obviously in shock over the death of her husband. He leaned back against the wall, still amused.
          "How do you know this?" He asked.
          Undaunted, she walked over to her dresser and grabbed a bunch of paperback books that she brought back to him. He looked down and smiled at the half naked cover models on the romance books she was holding.
          "Vampires love human women. Their lives are sad and empty until they find that one woman who is different from all the others. Then they turn the human woman they love into a vampire and love each other forever."
          "Is that so?" He tried hard to hide his smile. Clearly, she had lost her mind.
          "Why else would you come here to save me?" She asked, her dark eyes growing wide.
          "Save you?" He wanted to laugh again, but the sound died in his throat when he noticed the discoloration under her eye.
          He pushed himself off the wall and approached her slowly. To her credit, she didn't even flinch. He cupped her delicate face and rubbed his thumb softly over the bruised flesh. She looked down and tried to pull away, but he wouldn't let go. He held her arms out seeing more damage. His lip curled up in distaste.
          "Did HE do this to you?" he asked angrily.
          Her silence told him everything he needed to know. Now he wished he had turned the asshole, so he could have killed him twice.
          "It's okay," she said stroking his face. "You saved me."
          He looked into her eyes as black as the night itself and felt a twinge in his dead heart. No one had looked at him like that in years. It reminded him of when he was human. When he had been an honorable man who would have come to the aid of a woman like her without a second thought. Now, he was no better than the man who had beat her. He had come to kill her. He was worse.
          He watched her as she skipped off gracefully into her closet. She came out a few minutes later dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. The smile she flashed him would have taken his breath away if he breathed. She really was beautiful. Her black eyes and hair shining in the moonlight. Her pale skin gleaming, marred only by the bruising that brought out his rage again until she came forward and kissed him softly on the lips. He hadn't meant to respond, but her kiss was so tender and innocent, he couldn't help himself.
          "I'm ready to go." She said breaking their kiss.
          "Go?" he asked still recovering from the intimate contact.
          "With you of course." She smiled. "You can't live without me."  
          He sighed. She was truly deluded. He smiled brushing the hair back from her face. If anyone needed protection, it was this tiny woman who believed that a vampire had stepped out of a romance novel to save her from her abusive asshole husband, so they could live happily ever after. The trauma she had faced had left more scars than he knew. His face softened. She looked at him with such hope and trust, two things he did not deserve and certainly couldn't live up to.
          After what she had suffered, she should have some happiness. What harm could there be in entertaining her for a few days? He could keep up the hero facade for her sake. She deserved to be treated like a queen. Then he would make sure she was in a safe place before erasing her memory. He could take away her pain and give her a chance to start over. The one thing he wished for and could never have - a clean slate.
          "Come, my love." He held his hand out, and she took it without hesitation.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mother of the Year Award

I have long admired those mothers who seem to have it all together. They are highly organized and always look good. Their kids are always clean, and they have fresh fruit cut-up into perfect bite sized pieces sealed in Tupperware in the refrigerator and antibacterial wipes everywhere. They cut their kids’ sandwiches into cute shapes and make sure their library books are never overdue. When they drop their kids off at school, and they happen to wear sweats; it’s a cute matching jogging suit complete with a color coordinating hair scrunchie on their perfect ponytails. They meet with the other cute, organized mothers to talk about PTA events and starting a book club. They make the costumes for the plays, and volunteer at all of the school events.

Me? I’m not even close. I’m not a morning person, so whoever thought it was a great idea to start school at the crack of dawn probably has a refrigerator full of cut-up fruit in sealed containers. At the time of this story, my kids were attending different schools, and I had about ten minutes in between to get them there on time. I would roll out of bed, throw on some sweats (not a matching jogging suit, real sweats and a t-shirt and baseball cap), and harass the kids until we ran out the door with seconds to spare. I would drop off my daughter and then drive like a maniac to get my son to his school on time.

On this particular morning, I saw a sign on my daughter’s school saying they were having an assembly that morning to celebrate Citizenship Awards. I asked her what it was, and she said “Oh yeah. I’m getting one of those. You have to come. I gave you the paper remember?” I didn’t remember, and I was fairly certain, that since she takes after me, the announcement paper was still somewhere in that black hole she called a backpack. I tried to tell her that by the time I took her brother to school, I wouldn’t have enough time to go home, change, and get back in time. She started to cry. I sighed and told her I would be there.

I scrambled to my son’s school while calling the grandfathers to make sure they would be there too. “Yes, I know it’s late notice. Thank you. Just be there.” I made sure my son made it into the gates before taking off again. I got to back to my daughter’s school and found a place to hide in the back of the cafeteria. My dad arrived and was dressed nice of course. He sat down next to me and smiled. When my step-father came in, he took one look at me and said, “Lookin’ good baby. I see you dressed up.” Hardy har har. “Shut up.” I hissed, cowering in the corner.

Normally, I’m not overly concerned about what other people think about my appearance, but I felt so self-conscious. All of the parents were well dressed and had video cameras and expensive looking Nikons, while I was desperately trying to figure out how to use the zoom on my dumbass camera phone. So they started calling out the names and the kids accepted their awards and went to the front of the stage. There was Megan, waving like a maniac. I waved back, along with the grandpas.

I was relieved. It was almost over, and I could duck out with my baseball cap pulled down hoping no one would recognize me. Just when I thought I was home free, the principal stood up to congratulate the kids and then asked the parents to join their children on stage for a group picture. I froze, hoping I misunderstood. When I heard my step-father’s hysterical laughter, I knew I had heard right.

I could see Megan’s happy face as she was waving me up on stage while I stood in the back vigorously shaking my head “NO!” All of the well dressed parents had already made their way to the stage when the principal saw Megan trying to wave me up, so she says over the microphone, “C’mon mom! C’mon up. You deserve some recognition too.” Recognition was the last thing I needed. Now everyone in the cafeteria turned around to see who she was talking to. There I was in my full “I don’t give a crap about my appearance this early in the morning” suit. I smiled and made my way to the stage followed by a million eyes and my step-father’s giggling. I joined Megan and tried to smile for the picture. Yeah, that’s me - mother of the year.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Next Big Thing: Where Will You Turn?

I recently read Sandcastles and Other Stories from the gifted mind of Justin Bog. I was blown away by this collection of short stories. It took me back to my college days; to my literature classes where I read creative tales penned by classic authors who challenged me to think outside the box. Yeah, it's that good. Of course I was interested in whatever he was going to write next. Imagine my surprise when he tagged me in his blog entitled "The Next Big Thing: Wake Me Up." I am truly honored. Thank you so much for thinking of me, Justin.

Since I recently published the second book in my urban fantasy/paranormal romance series, I was caught a little off guard with this blog. I have very little to go on for my third book, since I tend to be a "pantser." In the third installment of my Díon series; Raith and Mari are back to uncover the paranormal creatures behind the recent rash of human disappearances. Unfortunately, they suspect that corruption may not be limited to the human world. When the most powerful paranormal creatures sworn to protect humans become the hunters, where will you turn?

Here are the rules:

Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress)

Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them, and link back to my page. Be sure to check out Justin's blog about his next big thing: Wake Me Up.

1.   What is the working title of your book?

Right now I'm calling it Book 3. My friend suggested Where Will You Turn? I know it can be good to have some kind of continuity with titles in a series, but that might be overdoing it a bit. I'll have to give it some thought.

2.   Where did the idea come for the book?

This book will follow the direction the series has taken. As for the original idea that started the whole thing? Honestly, I'm not sure. When I get bored, I come up with stories to entertain myself based on something around me. It could be as simple as a song on the radio or a person walking by who interests me.

3.   What genre does your book fall under?

Initially, I thought it was a paranormal romance. After doing some research, I think it may fall more in the urban fantasy genre. The romance is actually more of a sub plot. It isn't the focus of the book.

4.   Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This was a tough one. I have been asked this question several times, so you'd think I would be The problem is that I see my characters so clearly in my head that it is hard to "cast" them as someone else. So, I asked some of my readers for suggestions, and they came up with some great ideas.



Raith – Taylor Kinney

Mari - Rebecca Romijn Stamos


Reinn – Chris Hemsworth
        Kylee – Emma Stone

Aileana – Charlize Theron
 Deacon – Gerard Butler
5.  What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? (Ok, so it's a gigantic sentence.) 
Raith, Mari and the rest of the team believe that the founding members the Díon, a group of paranormals sworn to protect people, may be behind a conspiracy to kidnap and sell humans to the creatures who feed on them; but can they stay alive long enough to prove it?

6.   Will your book be self published or represented by an agency?

Self published. I'm too much of a control freak.

7.   How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Since I haven't finished the first draft, I can't answer that one. Although I will say (based on the other books), I could probably write a book in about 3 months if I could write full time.

8.   What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?

I have been told by readers that my books remind them of the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris; The Night Huntress Series by Jeaniene Frost; The Immortals After Dark Series by Kresely Cole, and the Lords of the Underworld series by Gena Showalter among others. Since those are some of my favorite authors/books, I was incredibly honored.

9.   Who or What inspired you to write this book?

My sister, my best friend, and I love paranormal romance/urban fantasy books. We were all talking about some of our favorite authors one night when I shared some of my story ideas with them. They inspired me (translation: hounded me) to write "Where Will You Run?" and the series has continued from there.

10.       What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

In my books, I use the existing lore from different countries/regions to develop my paranormal creatures/characters. There is so much information out there about monsters. I research each character I want to create and use the historical stories from the area the creature comes from to develop that character's powers, strengths, weaknesses, and even physical traits. I try to stay as true to the lore as possible, but sometimes I have to get creative to fill in the blanks. Readers may learn something new about the monsters that haunt their nightmares.

Here are the five authors I have nominated (mostly because I'm curious about what they are up to). Click on the name to go to the author's blog and click on the title or “here” links to check out their books.

Thomas Amo – Thomas writes in many different genres. Check out his recently YA release, Forever Me and his other books here.

Christina McKnight Christina writes historical romance and urban fantasy. Check out her book on her Amazon author page Only in Her Dreams.

Ingrid Michaels – I’m a big fan of romance, so it’s no surprise I am curious to see what this romance author has in store next. Check out her books here and on her blog (plus awesome vegetarian recipes).

Dennis Sharpe - Dennis writes paranormal fiction, dark urban fantasy and poetry. Check out his books on his Amazon author page here.

Jean Booth – Jean is an awesome story teller. Check out her recently released novel Created and her other books on her blog.
Thank you for stopping by and happy writing!





Thursday, October 11, 2012

YA Novel: Forever Me by Thomas Amo - Author Interview

I am very excited to finally have my good friend and fellow author, Thomas Amo, here on my blog for an interview. Thomas is incredibly generous when it comes to helping other authors and has been very instrumental in my own writing career; so I'm happy to have the chance to help him for a change.

Thomas is a genre hopper and has written everything from horror to comedy (check out his other books here). He just released his first YA novel called Forever Me available on Amazon for Kindle and Barnes and Noble for Nook. I was given the honor of beta reading this book, and even though I have been out of high school for a long time, some things never change. Thomas's vivid descriptions brought it all back - the pressure to fit in, wearing the right clothes, being the right weight, wearing the right makeup, etc. and the pain of bullying. Readers of all ages will find it easy to identify with the characters in this book. Here are the details:

Hannah Richards isn't your typical 16 year-old at Wichita Falls High. Fashion, trends, cosmetics and style are unimportant to her. An avid reader, guitar player, and classic movie and television buff, Hannah marches to the beat of her own drum. Visible only to her father, the town sheriff, and her two best friends, Lauren and Haylee, Hannah lives a simple, un-pampered life as an "Eastie."
After coming to the aide of Taylor Monroe, a popular member of the "Stilettos" at school, after a series of misunderstanding with her friends, Hannah is forced to re-invent herself. She quickly gets caught up in a life much different than the one she knows, where status, glamour, makeup, appearance and acceptance become her masters.
Can Hannah survive the lies, deceit, jealousy, and rage that are now waiting for her around every corner? Will she succumb to the pressures of popularity? Or will she be crushed under the heels of the "Stilettos"?
And now, my interview with Thomas Amo:
Q: You give credit for the genesis of this story to a segment you saw on television about a group of high school girls from Texas who decided to go one day a week without wearing any kind of makeup to show that girls don’t need it to be beautiful. Why did that story make such an impact on you?

A. I was truly encouraged by their willingness to go against what most girls at that age would never consider in the first place. I think girls get taught from an early age, that if they want to be popular and attractive, then they have to be a certain body weight, look a certain way. Makeup is usually the first rung on the ladder of social acceptance. Followed by the designer label and hairstyle. What name brand clothes is she going to wear? What's the name on her purse and sunglasses? Because the fashion world has a huge impact on girls. If you don't believe me, ask any teen girl what she's wearing, and you will most likely get a name as an answer instead of jeans and a t-shirt.

Naturally, girls want to be considered pretty or attractive to others besides their families. Taking the step to remove the makeup and just be the girl they are is a bold and brave step for a teen girl today. So it got me thinking about how all of those impact girls during those crucial high school years.

Q: Your previous books have been in the adult genre. What made you decide to try your hand at a YA book?

A. As I mentioned, the segment with the girls on TV really spoke to me, and I thought it was such a good subject to write about. I really wanted to experience the YA genre. It actually began as a screenplay for a production company. I wrote a quick draft and called a friend of mine who is a film producer and told him that I had a script idea to pitch to him. We arranged a meeting and, fortunately for me, he really liked it. So he encouraged me to write the screenplay. I got about 50 pages in and hit a brick wall. Suddenly, it just didn't feel right. I left it for a week or so and came back to it, and decided it really needed to be a novel first. Which was terrible timing because I was in the middle of writing the second installment of a trilogy. But, I called my friend, and said I can't write it as a screenplay right now, it feels like a novel. He told me to go for it, and to call him as soon as the novel was finished. Here we are nearly two years later.

Q: After reading Forever Me, I found that I could identify with many of the characters in the book even though I hadn’t been in high school for awhile. It seems like people stay the same even though the times change. Do you agree?

A. I do agree 100%. The faces change but the players remain the same. There will always be popular kids which usually seem to always go hand in hand with sports. Usually jocks and cheerleaders seem to always be on the top rung of the social hierarchy. The you will always have your nerds, stoners (aka burnouts). There are the Drama students, music students, and, thanks to shows like Glee, now singing is more popular than ever. Of course always bullies. Bullies sadly can come from virtually any clique. Usually though, jocks will pick on everyone who isn't another jock. If a smart kid who's not athletic joins a shop class like welding, mechanics, electrical, etc., he's going to be surrounded by two groups: jocks or stoners. For the jocks, it's an easy grade. For the stoners, it's going to be a vocation. most likely he's going to end up getting picked on by both groups. The teachers remain the same too. There's always the cool teachers and the ones who never see anything happen like a referee in big time wrestling. There's the teachers who really want to teach and then there are those who just want to survive. sometimes school can feel more like preson than it can an educational institution.

Q: As an adult male, what challenges did you face writing from the perspective of a teenage girl?

A. Danger Will Robinson! This is that question that has to be answered carefully. At first, I didn't give it any thought. I just approached it as I would any novel or character I planned to write. Having been a playwright for a decade, I wrote roles for certain actresses, so that helped a lot. So much dialogue helps you learn how people speak, and that's a great way to get insight on how they might be as people/characters. There did come a point though where I thought is anyone going to accept a YA novel written by a man from the perspective of a teenage girl? My good friend and fellow author, Michelle Muto, quickly pointed out to me, "Stephen King did it with his novel, Carrie." That was all the encouragement I needed. Besides, I wasn't going to write a novel that focused on menstruation. Plus, I had my wife and daughter to keep me on track with the developments of the girls in my novel. I did work hard to make it feel real all the time. Even though it's fiction, it was important to me that I would want a teen girl to pick this book up and say, "YES! That's me! That happened to me, or that character is just like me." I think there's never a question when a woman author writes male characters because we readily accept that women are in tune with the universe so much more than men are...but there does seem to be a pause when you see it's a man writing from a woman's perspective. And, if I pass, hopefully the assumption isn't "Oh he was spot on...he must be gay." I have had a wonderful female role model in my life with my mother. She is the strongest woman I've ever known; and, because of her, I've always been quick to regard women with admiration and respect. Check  any of my previous work, whether it be in my novels or plays for the stage. My female characters are always strong women. I don't reduce them to bimbos or battle axe stereotypes.

Q: You mention in your acknowledgements that writing the ending was very emotional for you and during that writing process, you were interrupted. How did you deal with that?

A. My Barbara Walters question. I won't go into the actual details because it's too personal. However, I was in the middle of writing the climax of the book, and I had just written a line that caught my breath, and I actually began to cry. I'd never experienced that before as a writer. While I was basking in that moment of euphoria, my phone rang and life did one3 of its nice little screw you moments. And I was like NO!!!! I can't stop now! Any writer will tell you when you're in the moment, if you get disturbed too lose it and that feeling leaves you. It's very much a Jack Nicholson moment from The Shining, when he explains to his wife that when she interrupts him it breaks his concentration and then it will take him time to get back to where he was...of course this is described with four letter words and tearing of paper in a manic Jack style. If you've seen the film, you know what I'm talking about. So yeah, It kinda feels like that. (Thank you Jack and Stanley Kubrick.) Well, I was forced to leave my computer for over and houra nd a half...and I was filled with bitterness and anger because I knew I was close to the end. I came home and was so angry, I knew I would never get my muse back...I paced and actually said to myself "No, I'm not going to let circumstances take this away from me!" I forced myself to sit down and put my music on that I was writing the scene by and forced myself to let the anger go...which was NOT easy. And i was able to get back and finish, but it still hurt me deeply because I so loved writing this book, and I so wanted to know that bliss of how it might have been had I not been interrupted. But you can't go back, so I had to move on.

Q: High school can be so tough for kids. Besides being yourself, what other positive messages do you think YA readers will be able to get from you book?

A. I believe that people CAN change, for the better and for the worse. That while who your friends are can affect your life in so many ways, your friends, family, money, clothes, should never define who you are as a person! Also, I would hope that people get the message of bullying must never be tolerated! Bullying comes in so many forms. Even friends bully friends. If just is not even funny how some jocks will bully a weak kid (call it hazing), and that adults will shrug it off and same lame things like, "Hey, that's life." I remember a terrible incident where a mean kid bullied another until the other kid felt he had only one choice - either kill himself, or kill the bully. The school wouldn't help. The parent of the mean kid encouraged his son to be that way. So the victim shot and killed his tormentor. And sadly, everyone cried over the bully. The father actually had to the nerve to say, "Why couldn't this kid just take an ass beating? He didn't have to kill my son." There was the problem right there. The father believed it was fine for the other boy to be beaten and just take it. That mindset haunted me, and I just pray that students are able to find strength in numbers because sadly, all too often, adults thing ignoring it will make it go away. High school years, while only being four of them, can sometimes be no different than four years of prison.

A big thank you to Thomas Amo for stopping by! Connect with Thomas on Twitter @AuthorThomasAmo, Facebook, and check out his blog here!