Posted in Friday Reads

Friday Feature: Vengeance Is Mine Series Is Complete!

vim-seriesIt’s done! It’s finished! It’s here! Three of my books have been revised, re-edited, and released. They are better than ever with great new scenes, and more thrills and chills than ever before.

Good morning!

The series started in May with On His Watch.

On His WatchYou can’t outrun the past.
On leave from the FBI, Special Agent Jason Spark is enjoying some welcome peace and quiet when he’s called on to help the local sheriff’s department check out a 911 call. Expecting a prank or misdial, he unwittingly steps into a horrifying bloodbath straight out of a Hollywood slasher movie, complete with clues scrawled on the wall.
Nikki Hart’s husband and son are killed, but she survives, badly beaten and barely clinging to life in a coma. When she awakens, she doesn’t know her name, recognize her face, or remember anything about herself and her past. Terrified, and unsure of whom to trust, she clings to the memory of the angel who comforted her in her darkest moments.
The investigation turns up a prime suspect: The Butcher, an elusive hired assassin for the Sicilian mob. As the news of Nikki’s recovery spreads, putting her in this ruthless killer’s sights again, Jason will do whatever it takes to protect the woman he’s learning to love.
Nikki’s beginning to believe Jason might be the angel who protected her in her dreams. But when she learns about the secret role he played in the worst day of her life, can she ever forgive him?

It continued in June with Fire Angel.

Fire AngelEverything happens for a reason.
Criminal profiler Jake McKenzie returned from Afghanistan minus a leg, determined never to let anyone get close enough to hurt him again. When his old friend asks him to help with a serial arsonist case, he jumps at the chance to prove his worth, but as the bodies pile up, he realizes he needs help. He convinces the chief to bring in a fire investigator, stunned to discover that the woman is none other than the girl who vanished from his life twenty years ago.
Alexis Michaels fled Paradise and an abusive uncle only to almost die in a fire that left her scarred not only on the outside, but on the inside, leaving her with psychic abilities. With that gift, she’s climbed to the top of her profession. Her abilities may be the only thing that can find and stop the Fire Angel, a pyromaniac turned revenge arsonist serial killer who’s slowly turning a peaceful town into Hell on Earth. The problem is, to do the job, she has to return to the one place where she swore she would never set foot again.
Faced with confusing emotions and a killer who’s made it clear he wants her to stay out of his business, Alexis must deal with the past before she can move on. But things may get too hot even for her as the Fire Angel moves toward the final act in his revenge drama.

And now, in July, it ends with In Plain Sight

In Plain SightThere’s a price to pay for everything you do.

Widowed, her dream of starring on Broadway in ashes at her feet, Misty Starr yearns for a happy, healthy, normal life for herself and her four-year-old daughter, Debbie. Settled in Pine Falls, New York, a sleepy little town filled with friendly people, she believes she’s found it and feels safe enough to sing in an amateur theater revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. She’ll do anything to keep this life even if it is built on lies, because revealing her secret is impossible. When Nick Anthony joins the cast as music director, Misty is attracted to the man who stirs up feelings she thought long dead, but can love grow on a bed of deceit?

A former concert pianist and secret CIA courier, Nick lives in darkness ever since the accident that killed his wife. The doctors say there’s nothing wrong with his vision, so why can’t he see? Hiding from his former life, he reluctantly agrees to help with the musical and is drawn to the young singer with the voice of an angel. When a mysterious fire destroys her home, Nick vows to keep her and her daughter safe. After one suspicious event leads to another, Nick is determined to protect them from an unknown assassin, but in order to do that, he needs to know her secrets. With his money and connections, he’ll do whatever it takes to save the woman he loves, but does she love him enough to reveal the truth?

Here’s a sneak peek at the opening scene from In Plain Sight.

“What the hell’s taking so long?” Ryan Spencer mumbled, shivering in the front seat of the limo. November was one of those months when either Lady Autumn was in charge or Old Man Winter flexed his muscles. Today was the latter, and his joints reminded him that while he was no Methuselah, he was no longer a spring chicken either. At least it hadn’t snowed yet, something for which he was grateful.

The diamond motif streetlights came on, and he clenched his teeth. How long before that police cruiser he’d seen fifteen minutes ago made another pass? If it did, they were bound to stop and ask questions. He glanced at the glove compartment knowing the gun inside it would be a problem if someone got nosy. It wasn’t his, but would that matter?

He’d been Kerry Doherty’s driver for more than twenty-five years, taking the old man and now his son—and whoever else he was told to—wherever they wanted to go, waiting patiently in the vehicle until he was needed to drive away again. He knew some of those activities, like today’s, were illegal, but he was well-paid to keep his head down and his mouth shut. He also knew when something wasn’t going according to plan.

At the moment, the acid in his stomach burned a hole in his gut. He needed a cigarette in the worst way, but since the old man had been diagnosed with lung cancer, smoking inside the vehicle was strictly forbidden. He should quit—he’d tried, but…

Flexing his cold fingers, he waited, afraid to run the engine. He kept his head down low, trying not to attract attention, but a car double parked on Diamond and Jewelry Way at six o’clock on a Friday evening—even if it was a chauffeur-driven Rolls—was bound to be noticed.

Money flowed down this street like a damn river of gold, but not everyone got their fair share, and that included Samuel Hershel, the disgruntled nephew of Abraham Hershel, the richest of the diamond merchants, and the one responsible for making him freeze his ass off here watching and waiting. As the youngest nephew, Samuel got the leavings, the dregs of his great uncle’s attention and business, the lion’s share going to Isaac, his eldest brother, something he didn’t think was fair.

Hand shaking, Ryan popped a piece of nicotine gum into his mouth, hoping it might assuage the gnawing inside him, knowing it probably wouldn’t. What kind of idiot had invented leather gloves that didn’t even attempt to keep your hands warm?

Damn kids with their sense of entitlement. Liam, the boss’s son, was the same. No brains, no patience. Get rich quick and be done with it. He didn’t give a damn about how he did it, or who might get hurt in the process. No, he needed to make his own mark on the bloody world, just like his new friend who’d dragged them into this mess.

After working for peanuts for years, Samuel had looked for other opportunities to make money, hanging out at O’Toole’s in Hell’s Kitchen and getting cozy with Liam Doherty, heir-apparent to the Green Shamrocks, currently the most powerful of the Irish mobs in the United States. Six weeks ago, he’d presented baby-boss with what he’d claimed would be the perfect robbery. Ryan had tried to talk him out of it, suggesting he wait until the old man got back, but Kevin O’Hara, Liam’s right-hand man and Kerry’s golden boy, had put him in his place, reminding him that he wasn’t indispensable.

“You’re not the only man who can drive this, boy-o. You can easily be replaced.”

He’d shut his mouth.

Kerry Doherty was back in Ireland visiting Kay, something he’d been doing more often these last few months. Few people knew Liam was a twin, but just after the babies were born, Siobhan Howard, Doherty’s wife, always a fragile woman, had left him, taking the girl with her and leaving him the son. She’d died within the year, but Kerry had honored her wishes, leaving the girl with maternal grandparents who’d taken over her care, raising her away from the Green Shamrocks and the mob. Kerry had stayed away until their deaths five years ago. Since then, he’d worked hard to reestablish himself in his daughter’s life, something Liam hated. Now that he was sick, he wanted to reunite his family, but Liam was dead set against it. With this heist, the boy hoped to prove to the old man that he could handle things on his own.

Ryan had met the girl when he’d accompanied Kerry to Ireland last year. She managed McHale Shipping, a legitimate business with ties all over the world. Her only weakness was that asshole Kevin O’Hara. Kerry had brought him back to the states with him and set him up as Liam’s right-hand man—no doubt to learn the ins and outs in case he decided Liam couldn’t handle things on his own. Why the old man thought that hot-head would keep Liam in line was a mystery. The man had a bellyful of secrets, and when they came out, it would be a sight to behold. He would give anything to be a fly on the wall when Kevin explained about the little wife and the bun in the oven. The man would be lucky to walk away with his balls intact.

Glancing at his watch, Ryan frowned. He’d been here more than twenty-five minutes. Had that schmuck Samuel screwed up in some way? If he had, the 30 percent he was supposed to net from this would be zero in no time, and he’d be lucky to stay out of the East River. It was none of his business—he was just a driver as Kevin kept reminding him—but he had a really bad feeling about this. Now that he looked around, he realized the street was too quiet for a mid-November evening. Where were the early Christmas shoppers? Even the patrol car should’ve been back by now.

Nerves frayed, unable to stand the craving a second longer, he spat the gum into the ashtray and got out of the car, leaning against the vehicle, his breath teasing him with smoke-like puffs, as his frozen fingers fought to pull a cigarette from the pack.

Where was everyone? For days, he, Kevin, and Liam had cased the building, driving along 47th Street, walking the block-long sidewalk, checking out the storefronts, rubbing elbows with youths in yarmulkes, older bearded men in black suits and black hats, women, heads covered, dressed as if it was still the fifties and not the twenty-first century, and of course, the Hasidic Jews with their long curls, the pe’ah of the Bible, the injunction against shaving the corners of their heads, hanging proudly beneath their round, fur shtreimels.

Samuel had chosen the date and time to coincide with Shabbat. Abraham and Isaac never missed Temple and had started leaving him in charge of the skeleton staff at work about two months ago, after the store’s longtime manager had retired—not the promotion he’d wanted—a definite step down from assistant diamond merchant to glorified clerk, and the insult that tipped the scale. He would get what was rightfully his, one way or another. The old man might not even report it. Hell, according to Samuel, half the damn stones were of questionable origin anyway. You didn’t get as rich as Midas by playing by the rules.

Kevin, with Samuel and Liam’s help, had worked out the supposedly perfect plan. Liam had gone into the store, dressed to the nines, with his “bodyguards” standing beside him as if he had need of protection, to look at diamonds. Samuel had assured them that Abraham might be torn by the sight of the rich foreigner with money to spend, but as was his custom, he would leave him to see to this new customer after the traditional mazel and brucha handshake promising to deal with him personally next time.

Samuel should’ve unlocked the vault as soon as the men left, removed the tray of stones, and Liam would’ve pulled the gun on him, forcing him back to the vault where he, Sean, and Kevin would’ve cleaned it out before pistol whipping the ungrateful little bastard and locking him inside along with his clerks. When Samuel didn’t make it home, someone would come looking for him.

The little schmuck would be all over himself apologizing, and if he fooled his uncle into thinking he had nothing to do with it, things would go well indeed. Who wouldn’t want a diamond merchant in his pocket? And as Ryan had heard Kevin and Liam discuss, if anything were to happen to Isaac or Abraham—Liam could be looking at the goose who’d laid the golden egg.

Ryan had just finished his cigarette when the sound of gunfire erupted from the building.

“Son of a bitch,” he cursed, tossing the butt on the ground.

Get your copy for 99 cents USD or read it free with KU. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07F413TJH

 

The Vengeance Is Mine Series is available along with all of my other books on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B00DJCKRP4

Have a wonderful weekend. Summer is here!

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Posted in Friday Reads

Friday Feature: Book Release Day for Fire Angel, Book Two, Vengeance Is Mine Series

vim-series

Happy Rebirth Day to my very first novel. Have you ever wished you could go back and redo something? I have. When I originally published Fire Angel, I had one vision for the book but the publisher had something different in mind, so I shelved my original idea and rewrote the book the way they wanted it. This book was a great success for me, the book that essentially launched my career, but when Simon ans Schuster closed the imprint this year, I got an unexpected opportunity.

With a dramatic new cover created by Melinda De Ross, it was exciting to revise and edit the book to fit the vision I had for it so long ago. While aspects of the basic skeleton and plot remain still the same, the story has changed, becoming grittier, darker, and definitely disturbing with the addition of Fire Angel’s POV, many new scenes, and a new ending, one I feel readers will enjoy. I examined the reviews for the original book, and painstakingly worked to improve the story.  As with On His Watch, Book One of the series, this is a romantic thriller, heavy on the suspense with just enough romance to keep it interesting.

The third book in the series, In Plain Sight, will be re-released in late June, early July.

Available today, through Amazon and KU, I invite you to read Fire Angel.

Blurb:

Fire AngelThere’s a reason for everything that happens.

Criminal profiler Jake McKenzie returned from Afghanistan minus a leg, determined never to let anyone get close enough to hurt him again. When his old friend asks him to help with a serial arsonist case, he jumps at the chance to prove his worth, but as the bodies pile up, he realizes he needs help. He convinces the chief to bring in a fire investigator, stunned to discover that the woman is none other than the girl who vanished from his life twenty years ago.

Alexis Michaels fled Paradise and an abusive uncle only to almost die in a fire that left her scarred not only on the outside, but on the inside, leaving her with psychic abilities. With that gift, she’s climbed to the top of her profession. Her abilities may be the only thing that can find and stop the Fire Angel, a pyromaniac turned revenge arsonist serial killer who’s slowly turning a peaceful town into Hell on Earth. The problem is, to do the job, she has to return to the one place where she swore she would never set foot again.

Faced with confusing emotions and a killer who’s made it clear he wants her to stay out of his business, Alexis must deal with the past before she can move on. But things may get too hot even for her as the Fire Angel moves toward the final act in his revenge drama.

Let me introduce you to Fire Angel in this excerpt:

Chapter One

“Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. Well, not tonight, Buddy,” he said, knowing no one could hear him, but loving the sound of his words. “It’s my turn to mete out justice.”

Never had he felt so strong, so powerful, so alive. He’d been trapped inside a chrysalis, waiting to become what he’d always been meant to be. Each of his senses was more attuned than it had ever been. He could hear the wings of the owl flapping as he chased his prey, see the chipmunk scurrying to get out of the clearing before the predator found it, even smell the tiny animal’s fear. His taste buds feasted on the heady, grass-like flavor of the joint, the smoke filling his lungs. Rubbing his chin, the tips of his fingers recognized the sandpaper grit on his cheeks from the five o’clock shadow there.

It had taken months to plot his revenge and weeks to decide on his methodology. He’d tested it when he had to, but for the most part, he’d hidden his true nature behind the façade society had given him. Now it was time to reveal himself.

He’d chosen his victims carefully. Each and every one of them had offended him in some way, and they would pay and pay dearly, none more so than the man who’d hit his dog and had driven off. He’d recognized the car. The son of a bitch hadn’t bothered to get the bumper fixed.

That night, with the merciless rain bearing down on him, he’d fallen to his knees and wept, until the sky had cleared, and the light of the full moon had turned him into living silver. He’d picked up the broken body of the only one left who’d loved him and under that silvered glow, he’d evolved, drawing strength from heaven itself. Vengeance was his for the taking, and take it he would. But he needed to do it right. Each and every death had to be planned and executed carefully.

No one had used this shack since old man Simmons had died in a supposed hunting accident four months ago. It appeared he’d shot himself when he tripped near a trapped raccoon. Who’d stunk the most? The dead man or the animal beside him? The scavengers must’ve had a field day. There was a lot of money to be made trapping animals and selling the pelts. That old man had no business criticizing others with his “holier than thou attitude” about humane methods and snapping traps before the animals could step in them. If he wanted to listen to a damn lecture, he would go back to school. It was amazing no one had killed the old bastard months earlier and saved him the trouble.

The place belonged to Simmons’s grandson now, and the man had put it up for sale last month forcing his hand, but the time was right. Everything was ready inside. He’d dropped off the supplies earlier, driven home, and then hiked back late this afternoon to set things in motion.

“Perfect night to die,” he mumbled, waiting for his prey to arrive.

Tonight, the blue moon, the second full moon in a month, the source of his power and energy, had risen right on time, refueling him. The sky was still clear and not a single leaf trembled, but dark clouds crowded the horizon. It would be at least a couple of hours before the rain came.

The sound of an engine in the distance told him the play was about to start. Tossing the butt next to the large rock where he’d been sitting, he ground the remnant into the earth with the heel of his boot and waited, watching the vehicle approach. The van stopped, and the driver got out.

“You must be Mack,” he said. “Nice to finally meet you. Why did you pick this place for a delivery? I damn near didn’t find it, and my boss would’ve been pissed. He’s got a thing about extending credit—prefers to be paid up front, you know?” He got out of the van.

“Bandit, relax. I’m good for it. This won’t take long. I told you. It’s nice and private. We don’t want anyone stumbling in on our deal.” He indicated the right bumper. “Have a run in with something?” he asked.

The young punk chuckled, sealing his fate.

“Hit something over on River Road last year. Could’ve been a dog or a cat. Stupid thing was sitting there just asking for it.” He shook his head. “Been meaning to have it fixed. It’s drivable, so I guess it doesn’t matter.” He shrugged. “Speaking of money, you got mine? I’m on the clock here. I’ve got half a dozen deliveries to make tonight, and if I’m not back with the cash by ten, my ass is grass and my boss is the lawnmower. Get it?”

He chuckled. “Oh yes. I know exactly what you mean, pun and all. Come on inside. The place isn’t much, but I’ve got your money in there. Got time for a beer?”

The young man snorted and patted his large beer belly. “No, but I can always make time for what’s important. But I can only have one.”

He chortled. “One’s all it’ll take,” he muttered, his heart pounding with anticipation.

Entering the cabin, he cracked open two bottles of beer, emptied the small vial into one of them, and handed it to the dealer.

“To your health,” he toasted, clanking his bottle against Bandit’s.

“Millhouse Organic. I’ve never tried that,” the dealer said, guzzling half the bottle in one gulp. “Not bad. You must be richer than I thought. Should’ve charged you more.” He tossed the paper bag he’d carried in on the table. “Here’s your stuff. Where’s my money?” He raised the bottle to his lips once more.

“Right over here.”

Before he could take a step, Bandit dropped like a stone.

Stepping over to the fallen man, he kicked him in the ribs as hard as he could.

“That’s for killing my dog,” he said.

Striking the match on the cover, he lit the small angel-shaped candle—there were only six left in the box his wife had purchased for the birthday party that never happened—settled it onto the Styrofoam plate in the center of the tinder he’d placed in the old fireplace, the sulfur filling his nostrils, and dropped the rest of the book of matches on the pile of sticks on the floor in front of it. Like the image on that poster his mother had kept in her room, he was the avenging archangel, his sword aflame, ridding this world of unnecessary vermin.

The candle burned quickly and soon the paper under it caught and then the tinder. The rest of the matches in the book ignited as one. Glancing over his shoulder, he saluted the body on the bed, and moved over to the safe spot he’d created near the door. He wanted to watch the action as long as he could.

“Don’t worry, asshole, you won’t find it cold in here tonight.” He laughed at his own joke. “And your boss won’t lay a hand on you either.”

Wrapping him in the turpentine-soaked blanket and pulling him up onto the bed had been a chore. Would anyone even see the poetic justice of it? A drug dealer, wrapped in a drug-soaked cloth, set alight?

The crackling of the growing blaze filled his ears as the infant fire moved through its tinder. As the flames and smoke increased, it didn’t take long before he heard the sizzle, crackle, and pop from the blaze—music to his ears. The only thing better was the whoosh as the conflagration grabbed the accelerant and lit him up like a torch. It wouldn’t take long before he would be able to hear the boiling of the sap inside the pine logs he’d brought in to help the blaze, but he would have to be outside by then.

It wasn’t only the killing and the sound of the fire that appealed to him. He enjoyed the various scents and aromas from the caustic ones created by the chemicals released as it burned man-made items, to the unmistakable, unforgettable perfume of burning hair and flesh, and finally to the familiar, friendly, nostalgic aroma of apple wood or pine. Each was an aphrodisiac in its own right, but it was the second odor that had him almost creaming his jeans—so much better than animal fur. Man, that bastard’s hair had been long, and he was close enough to get a good whiff of the pungent perfume before it was just a memory.

“Made you nice and comfortable for your trip to hell,” he muttered. “No one’s going to miss your sorry ass. Time for me to go.”

Carrying the beer bottles—he’d poured out what was left of Bandit’s on the floor—he exited the building and walked around it to make sure everything was good. Tonight, he would be the only witness, but soon others could enjoy his handiwork, too.

He pulled a joint out of the paper bag, flicked his Bic to set it alight, and took a deep satisfying pull. He was going to miss this shit when it ran out, but who knew how long that would take? There were several packages of the stuff in the back of Bandit’s vehicle, all of it his for the taking now. There would be some antsy customers and furious suppliers out there, but they weren’t his problem. Let them search for the elusive Mack Holden. They wouldn’t locate him—after all, he didn’t exist anymore—had barely existed back then, but he’d finally come in useful. Finding more of the date rape drug in the stash had been an unexpected bonus. He’d been afraid he would have to drive to Ottawa to score more, and finding a source had been a pain in the ass the last time he’d done it.

Leaning against the hood of the van, left hand tucked into his pants’ pocket, he let the joint dangle from his right as he watched the cabin burn.

The fire raged, and it was hungry. The more it ate, the more it wanted. Too bad Bandit hadn’t felt the bite of the flames as they devoured him. Maybe next time, he would use less of the drug and see what happened.

The roof collapsed as the blaze consumed the shack and its unholy contents. He smiled before taking another deep drag, holding the drug in his lungs as long as possible before exhaling. The blaze mesmerized him with the constant shifting of its multifaceted flames. He appreciated that color and temperature were codependent and knew just how hot things had to get to suit his purposes.

Fire fascinated him. He’d been burned a time or two, but wasn’t that the way with pets? Didn’t they always bite until they were firmly under control? Over the years, after that initial blaze, he’d learned to release its energy in a variety of ways—slowly like a serpent slithering and coiling itself around a branch, waiting for its unsuspecting victim to come within range before crushing the life from it, or quickly, striking like a cobra and claiming its prey swiftly and smoothly. Each method brought its own level of satisfaction. His creation, the essence of what he’d become, of what they’d forced him to become, molded in the image he chose—no rules, no overseers, nothing to hinder him in any way.

Fire was his mistress, a beautiful dancer writhing and gyrating just for him. Every single day, he went through the motions at work waiting until he could be alone with his one true love. She had a mind and personality of her own. Depending on her mood, she could be kind and helpful. At other times, she offered companionship and security, but when unleashed like tonight, she sterilized and destroyed at his command.

He dropped the end of the joint on the ground and reached up to rub the muscles at the back of his neck no longer as tense as they’d been earlier. While he’d like another, he would wait until he got home. He still had work to do. He had to get rid of the vehicle before any one saw it. The bog was the perfect place.

He pulled out his pack of cigarettes and took out another cancer stick as his mother had called them. What the hell did she know? She’d bitched his father into an early grave and blamed him for it, just as she’d blamed Mack’s accident on him, before she’d complained herself into a grave of her own. Too bad he hadn’t been able to build a pyre like this for her. Instead, after a little slicing and dicing, he’d placed her in a trash bag in the ground, under her precious petunias, flowers he made sure he “watered” regularly. Knowing the insects would ravage her was satisfaction enough. She’d always been Polly Perfect, complaining about this and that, threatening to tell people about what she called his illness. Let her go ahead. The worms and beetles wouldn’t listen to her either.

Cracking open a third bottle of beer, he sipped it, alternating with drags on the cigarette, letting the smoke fill his lungs and the nicotine and alcohol add to the calming effects of the drug he’d taken. His two-pack a day habit was becoming problematic, especially with all the laws against smoking in public places. Hell, soon a man would have nowhere to smoke … not even in his own damn house. The worst taste in the universe—even worse than his mother’s cooking—had to be that nicotine gum he was forced to chew at work to keep his cravings in check.

As the fire burned, the tension within him slowly seeped away. Exhausted, he finished his beer and placed the empty in the back seat with the other two. Taking one last look at what was left of the cabin, he noted the fire beginning to shrink in on itself now that there was nothing new to consume. It would burn a while longer, but he was sated. Drops of rain splattered on the hood of the van. Right on time.

“Soon, darling, soon,” he spoke to the dying flames. “I’ll let you out to play again.”

Putting on his rubber gloves once more, he pulled the cellphone he’d used to set up the buy out of his jacket pocket along with Bandit’s, tossed them on the floor of the jerk’s van, then got in and started the engine. The smoke hung like fog in the darkness. It clung to his hair and to his clothes. He would dump the vehicle, go home, shave, shower, and do a load of laundry. He had to be at work early tomorrow.

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Posted in Friday Reads, Uncategorized

Friday’s Featured Authors: Young Writers Attempt Flash Fiction

Hello! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything different. I’ve had an exciting summer and an incredible fall, full of unique experiences I hope to share with you over the coming months.

cda_imageWelcome to Friday’s Featured Author. This week, I have a surprise for you. One of the best parts of being a teacher is seeing the results that happen when you’ve done your job well. Tracy Champagne, a teacher at Char-Lan District High School and one of my former students, invited me to visit her grade 7 and grade 8 English classes to talk about writing. I decided that while talking is great, doing leaves a lasting impression, and as every aspiring writer knows, publishing is best.  Basically my own variation on Give a man a fish versus teach a man to fish.

So, I promised those aspiring writers, and those who weren’t, that I would publish their creations on my blog and here they are. Some showed more promise than others, but it’s our differences as Canadians that make us great. While we need writers, we need mathematicians and scientists, too. To all of the students I say, job well done!

Flash Fiction was the topic for the day. While you or I can crank out more than 5,000 words a day, I figured a bit less was a better fit for these twelve and thirteen-year-olds.

What is Flash Fiction? Essentially, it’s fiction that is short—anywhere from a few words to 1,000—and is complete. It doesn’t have to resolve the issues in it, but it has to leave you with something.

After making sure that the students understood the difference between fact and fiction, I began my ‘lesson’ with the drabble, an extremely short example of Flash Fiction. This one is credited to Ernest Hemingway:

baby shoesFor sale: Baby shoes, never worn.

What a wealth of meaning can be conveyed in six words. We talked about the piece and what it meant. I must say, I was surprised to see that most of the kids had positive reasons why the shoes might not have been worn—wrong size, wrong color, didn’t fit right, etc.

Then I gave them the opportunity to write their own Flash Fiction—not with six words, since that would be way too hard, but using 50 to 100 words—some gave me far more than that. Since we all know young people get bogged down in the details and need more direction, I gave both word and picture prompts. For the words, the first five of which I’ve underlined in each selection, they had to choose one for each of the six categories:

  1. A color
  2. A time of the year
  3. A word related to weather
  4. The name of a person
  5. A day of the week
  6. Any other word they’d like

 

HelloAgain-ebook-smallAnd here is the picture I gave them. That’s right, the cover from Hello Again. After all, I was there as a writer. They needed to see I’d published something.

The students were divided into groups and told they had 25 minutes. Here’s what they accomplished. Please note, they love cliffhangers! I would love to see what these stories would look like is they were continued. Lots of imagination  and creativity here as well as a little Hollywood Magic—The work has been edited slightly. I’ve categorized them and given titles to those that had none.

To the students, apologies if I misread your words because of spelling or penmanship.

Please note: for reasons of privacy, there are no names on the work. Examples come from both grades in no particular order.

# 1 The Close Call. (Adventure)

Jason, get up! It’s Tuesday, and you know what that means!” Ann shouted up the stairs

“I know, Ann. The big meeting at work,” Jason growled.

“It looks pretty cloudy outside today,” Ann said, sounding quite concerned.

“That’s because it’s spring, honey,” Jason said, coming down the stairs.

They jumped into the car and pulled out of their laneway.

“Can we turn on the radio? I’m getting nervous,” Ann asked.

“Weather Alert! Tornado warning! Tornado warning!” the radio blared.

The winds picked up instantly. Now that she looked out the window, Ann could see the faint outline of a black tornado forming.

“Step on it, Jason!” Ann screamed, panicking.

The tornado zoomed by, but Ann and Jason made it to safety in time.

“That was a close call,” Jason said, relieved.

# 2 Spaghetti Squash (Paranormal)

It rained a lot that fall, especially that Tuesday. I’ll never forget that day. I was wearing my new, blue dress, because I was going out to a spaghetti squash dinner with my friend Berrycloth. Spaghetti squash is our favorite.

But wait! There was a noise. We looked out the window and saw a tornado. No! … Wait! It was a wolf-nado, a tornado of wolves coming right at us.

I turned to Berrycloth and screamed, “What the heck is going on?”

“There’s something I haven’t told you,” Berrycloth answered. “I’ve been cursed by the wolves and now they’re coming after us, but I know how to stop it. Grab the spaghetti squash and follow me.”

I snatched the squash and we darted out of the building, and that’s where our story really began…

# 3 Texas Storm. (Adventure)

It was a special Saturday for the boys that Easter weekend, and they were partying in Texas. Harrison wore his lucky orange shirt, but he wasn’t lucky this time. On his way home, he turned on the radio in time to hear the alert. He was heading into a hurricane. The weather got worse and he started to panic. Suddenly, he swerved and went off the road…

# 4 Icicles and Accidents: (Horror)

One dark and snowy Friday the 13, 1998, during the winter, the cars were frozen solid, their sides white with salt. It was so cold, Terry was crying, and an icicle formed in his nose. He was attacked by Jason who pulled the icicle out of his nose, stumbling back onto the road where he stepped in a hole and was knocked over by a car. Terry ran off but fell going down the stairs.

# 5 The Jumper Zombie (Horror)

In a helicopter, there was a man in a black shirt and a girl in a gray shirt. It was Tuesday, October 11th, 2080 a stormy day, a day to avoid the Zombie Apocalypse. Jimmy had to save her. There was a jumper zombie with a twelve-gauge shotgun on the hilltop. He fired and the helicopter went down. The zombie died from the recoil from the gun and the debris from the helicopter. …

# 6 The Tylers (Adventure)

It was a black, stormy Friday during the summer. Two people, both named Tyler, were chasing a tornado with their wolf named Tyler, too. The woman Tyler was sad for some reason, while the man Tyler was happy-go-lucky. The car got caught in the tornado, and landed on spikes, which blew out the tires and the car fell into the water. Now the woman was happy and the man was sad because the tornado had destroyed his car.

# 7 All About Me (Adventure)

One dark, stormy Friday in the middle of fall, Susanne Matthews was taking out the garbage when she spotted a tornado. It was very gray and was coming closer. Susanne ran inside into her basement and found the safest place to hide while she waited for the tornado to pass…

# 8 Coloured Rain (Fantasy)

One day, there was a boy named Paul whose best friend was Helen. When Helen saw Paul, she said, “Hello Paul, did you hear that it’s going to rain on Wednesday, March 11th?

“What colour will the rain be?” Paul asked.

Blue, of course,” Helen answered…

# 9 Raccoon Snipers (Sci-fi with a touch of Groot and the Guardians of the Galaxy)

It was January second. The New Year’s activities were over. I sat in my purple chair by the window on this snowy Wednesday afternoon. Now that my beloved husband had left, I was alone with my plant, Roderick. My husband had gone to fight in the annual raccoon war. The raccoons had taken over this winter and now I sat inside with only a plant for company. Suddenly, I heard a noise at the window. Raccoon snipers!

“Be brave, Roderick,” I whispered.

I ran and ran while my glorious Roderick battled the raccoons. I never saw him again. R.I.P Roderick.

And that is where my journey began…

# 10 KFC Supper (Romance/Fantasy)

On Friday, September 15, Jeff and Olivia were at KFC having a romantic supper, looking down at the blue chicken It was a very windy day. Later that night, their dog started barking at the window. Jeff and Olivia went to the window and saw a tornado coming at them. They ran to their basement and heard loud noises. Once the sounds stopped, they went up the stairs. Their house was the only one left standing. They were lucky.

# 11 The Last Man on Earth (Sci-Fi)

It is the year 4055 and I am the last person on Earth, with only my pet Roxy for company. I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Edwin Fugerison.

It all started on a cloudy summer day. The radio was announcing that there was going to be a massive storm, but I didn’t think it would get that bad. The sky was light brown, the wind strong and then, all of a sudden, there was a tornado. I ran to shelter and waited twelve hours. When I got out of the shelter, I knew from the destruction around that I was the only one left, I searched anyway.

On Saturday, I met Vironica who thought she was alone, too.  We got together and had a kid named Jim.

That leads us back to today…

# 12 A Scary Pitch-Black Night (Horror)

 On one scary Halloween night, a stormy night, a man named Michael Myers went insane because of a past tragedy. Some of his family died. A few years later, on a Wednesday, he hunted down the rest of his family. He was caught and put in prison, but he escaped and went after the rest of his family. He still roams around, looking for and chasing his little sister every Halloween night to this very day.

# 13 The Last Thing I Saw (Paranormal)

“Help,” I cried out on Friday the Thirteenth. “I’m tied to a tree while a big tornado was going on behind me with lightning crashing into the water.

Oh no. Someone’s approaching me! Good. It’s my best friend.

“Help,” I cried out again.

She ran up to me. “I have to leave before it’s too late.”

“No! Help me first.”

I looked back and saw a giant wolf. She walked over to me, and the last thing I saw blackness…

# 14 Tornado Warning (Romance/Adventure)

One Sunday, driving along in our faded gray car, coming back from our vacation, my fiancé Blake decided to turn on the radio. As he did, the radio warned of an approaching tornado. We acted quickly and hurried through the cold darkness to a gas station bathroom. We waited in there for a couple of hours, then decided to check outside. We realized the tornado had passed, and when we went to our car, we saw that it hadn’t been destroyed. We got in and headed home.

# 15 Halloween Night Walk (Romance/Paranormal)

On Tuesday, Halloween night, Becky and John went for a walk in the woods. While they were walking, all of a sudden, they heard a big bang. The wind started to pick up. When they saw the tornado, they started running imagining they saw a wolf’s head in the tornado. When they got back home, they were so tired, they collapsed to the ground…

# 16 Baby Shoes (Adventure)

One day, in April of 1966, a kid named Glenn went with is parents to a garage sale. They saw a blue pair of baby shoes. They had never been worn. While they were looking at them, it got really windy, which didn’t really surprise them since it was Friday the Thirteenth. Eventually, it got so windy and warm, a tornado formed. They had to run back home quickly because they didn’t want to be pulled away. Glenn ran back for the baby shoes and when he got to them, he saw a wolf standing nearby. Everyone was scared, but the wolf was nice. They took the wolf home and survived the tragedy. They’ve been together ever since. Later on in Glenn’s life, the wolf would save him again.

# 17 The Couple Stuck in the Typhoon (Adventure/Romance)

One day, while we were in Germany, my husband and I went on a hike. All of a sudden, the sky turned dark gray and the wind picked up. It was a Friday evening and the weather had been nice before it changed on us. My husband, Joe, thought it was just cloudy, but suddenly typhoon-like weather struck. I thought this shouldn’t be happening here in December when it was about to snow, but it did. Sadly, Joe and I were separated during the storm. I later learned he’d died. My life will never be the same after that day.

# 18 Cult (Horror)

On a Wednesday night, with a storm blaring outside, Susan was chained to a table. Her eyes fluttered open and she saw some strange people wearing red robes with symbols on them. They probably meant something to the people, but nothing to her.

Then one figure came forward and pulled off his mask. AS he moved toward her, a low chant started. The face behind the mask belonged to her brother, Eddie!

“Hello Susan.”

Before she could answer, pain spread through her starting at her ears and she screamed…

 

There you have it. From the wild imagination of young teens and preteens. Maybe one of them will be an author one day.

Posted in Friday Reads, Uncategorized

Feel Good Friday Reads: A Taste of Forever and Always

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Good morning. It’s a beautiful sunny, if frigid, Friday morning, despite the fact the calendar says it’s March. If my mother-in-law were still alive today, she’d be 100. Since she was a great supporter of my wring talent back when it was in its infancy, before I actually chose to try my hand at writing and was still playing around with poetry, I thought I’d start something different today in here honor.

I blog here every Tuesday in Tuesday Tales, Wednesday in the Midweek Tease, and occasionally on Sunday when I have a Review by Sue. The rest of the week is hit or miss. Once in a while, I’ll have a Throwback Thursday, or host a promo for a fellow author, but I haven’t really used my blog for me or to promote and share my work. So I thought I’d start Feel Good Friday Reads and give myself an opportunity to tell you something behind one of my published works and give you a taste of it.

Since this is my first Feel Good Friday Reads post, I’m going to share my latest release with you.

photo-1446476012059-4f9c278d54d5Forever and Always grew out of a Christmas story I wrote for my blog last year. Originally entitled, Where There’s a Will, it was published as part of the Adventures in Love anthology. I’ve always loved the idea of being a ballerina, even when my father told me I had all the grace and talent of a baby hippo, but like so many other things in my life, I never acted on my desire to learn to dance. As a mother, I made sure my daughter did, spending countless Saturday  mornings at ballet and jazz dance classes, and was thrilled when she qualified for the program of the arts dance courses in high school, but she was an athlete first, and a dancer second, putting all her energy into basketball and perfecting her three-point shots–six of them in her women’s league baksetball game last night! Still,  I’ll never forget that final dance review when she came out on stage in a pink tutu and red basketball shoes.

But my fscination with the dance didn’t end there. I’ve always admired the commitment it took to perfect an ability like that. I know the countless hours that go into writing a book, but dancing like that, forcing the body to move in unnatural ways in point shoes–now that’s dedication.

On Wednesday, Forever and Always was released as a stand-alone book. The 18,000 word novella is perfect for someone with an hour to spare who wants to read a story from start to finish. If you commute by train, subway, or bus, this might be the ideal quick read for you.

When I was contemplating writing a Valentine’s Day story this year, I kept being drawn back to that 3,000 word Christmas story that felt unfinished. There was so much more to Jarrett and Brandi’s story, and I needed to tell it. That fundraiser might’ve brought them together, but we all know  true love is never that easy.

I got to thinking of Brandi and her situation. I’m a sucker for tragic heroines, and  happily ever afters. There’d be very little room in a professional dancer’s life for anything but the dance, but what if that were taken away from her suddenly, leaving her bereft? How would she cope with losing the only thing that ever mattered to her, the ability to dance. Recently, the ability to do what she loves best was taken unfairly from a friend of mine, and I think that’s behind my recent penchant for stories where heroines have suffered tragic loss.

I considered all the ramifications of life as a prima ballerina–hours of rehersals, sacrifices for the art, crazed fans, and the story took on more flesh. A loss that substantial would inevitably be followed by the stages of grieving–denial, anger, depression, and in the end, acceptance, but what if the man who truly cared for her got caught in the grieving process? What if a jealous person stirred the pot and made things worse? And what if something kept him form coming to her as soon as he should have?

So many questions to answer!

When I hurt, I tend to hide myself away. My heroines often do, too. Where would Brandi hide, and if she did, how would Jarrett ever find her?

forever&always-001(1)The blurb:

Ballet is the only thing Brandi Alexandra Jameson has ever known. When an accident leaves her dance partner dead and herself unable to dance again, she tries to accept the situation, but some pain goes too deep to be set aside so easily. Lost, alone, frightened, all she wants to do is hide away, but her family has a different idea.

Jarrett Sullivan has been in love with Brandi from the first day he saw her and blackened a kid’s eye for calling her names. Shy, unsure of himself, he stayed in the background, looking out for her, but before he could make his move, she left Victoria for the stage in Toronto. Now that she’s back, he’ll do whatever it takes to win her heart. After badgering her sister, he earns the right to escort the woman he’s always wanted to the event of the year.

When Brandi discovers Jarrett paid an exorbitant amount for an Alexandra Jameson poster, she assumes he’s lied to her and is nothing but another crazed fan. Her heart broken she flees Victoria and ends up in Geneva where she hopes to learn to cope with what’s happened to her.

Can Jarrett find her and explain what happened or will a spiteful woman’s half-truths keep them apart forever?

Forever and Always is an Amazon exclusive available from all Amazon sites: 

Now, here is a taste of Forever and Always, this week’s Feel Good Friday Reads.

Moving into the kitchen area, Brandi reached for the kettle, almost dropping it when the familiar strains of The William Tell Overture announced her sister’s call. The thought of letting it go to voice mail briefly surfaced, but that would only bring Jane racing across town expecting the worst. Reluctantly, sitting on one of the wooden chairs surrounding the butcher block table, she picked up the phone, dreading the conversation to follow. She’d rehearsed her words declining the invitation to tonight’s charity Christmas party. Jane meant well but she was like a dog with a bone, so insistent at times it felt more like bullying than a loving sister’s concern. She pressed the call answer button on the fifth ring.

 

“Hey, Jane, what’s up?”

“What took you so long?” Jane asked, her voice filled with a mixture of suspicion, annoyance, and concern, but Brandi was certain annoyance would win out in the end.

“I just came inside. I was decorating outside.”

“What? Are you crazy? You know you’re not supposed to exert yourself.”

Brandi laughed. “Obviously, you’ve never seen one of Adrianne’s sessions.”

“Adrienne is a trained physiotherapist. You, on the other hand….”

“I feel fine.” The white lie slipped off her tongue effortlessly. “I suppose you called about the Christmas party tonight. I’ve thought about it, and decided I can’t make it after all.”

“You just said you were fine,” her sister challenged suspiciously. “You promised you’d come,” Jane continued, playing the hurt card that inevitably got her what she wanted.

“I promised I’d think about it. I have, and after careful consideration, I’ve decided I can’t. If it were any other night… I know you’re trying to do what you think is best,” Brandi said. “But I’m not ready to face strangers.”

If she were a turtle, she’d crawl inside her shell and wait until she was, but would that day ever come?

“Brandi, for heaven’s sake.” Her sister’s voice was filled with frustration, the hurt momentarily forgotten. “At this rate, you’re never going to be ready. There won’t be a single person here tonight you haven’t met before. My God, you performed in front of thousands. There’s no way I’ll let you shovel any bullshit about stage fright. You didn’t die in that accident, and there’s no reason to act as if you did.”

“I’m not comfortable driving the car in the dark yet,” Brandi continued with the speech she’d planned, knowing damn well she had nothing to be afraid of. It was sixty degrees outside. There’d be no freezing rain tonight to ruin her life like there had been a year ago.

“Not a problem. Tom’s cousin Jarrett offered to pick you up. You’re on his way. You must remember him. He was one of the ushers at our wedding. I think you two actually went to school together.”

If she didn’t want to go before, Brandi was definitely dead-set against it now.

She remembered Jarrett Sullivan all too well—him and the gorgeous blonde who’d clung to him like Velcro at the wedding and had shot invisible daggers at her from behind venom-filled eyes. But that memory wasn’t the one she cherished deep in her heart.

Jarrett, a grade ahead of her, had been her hero. She’d never forget the boy who’d carried her books home when she’d had her hands full, the one who’d stood up to the bullies who teased her about her hair color and her small stature; the only one who’d asked her to dance at the sixth grade graduation dance, firmly entrenching himself in her heart. But, three years later when she’d moved from middle school and entered high school, the captain of the football team had changed. He still spoke to her, asked her how things were going, but he teased her, calling her names, not realizing how much the loss of his caring concern and friendship had hurt—Hey, Scotch; Saw you dance last night, Bourbon; Looking good, Gin; Did you finish that math assignment, Vodka?; and of course his painful, off-key rendition of The Four Season’s Sherry—he’d called her by the name of every alcoholic beverage but her own, except at the wedding when they’d danced for the second time in eleven years.

You’ve grown into a beautiful woman, Brandi. His words echoed in her head, but then Pavel had claimed her and the blonde bombshell had whisked him away. Now, Pavel was dead as was her career as a ballerina. Her last performance had been as the Sugarplum Fairy. She’d never even finished the run—the freezing rain had seen to that.

“I don’t know. I get nervous in any car, and it’s just worse at night….”

“Brandi Alexandra Jameson, I just knew you’d pull a stunt like this, and I won’t let you ruin this party for me.”

Yeah, it’s all about you, Jane. What about me? What about my pain?

“It’s three o’clock, now,” her sister continued. “He’ll be there to pick you up at five. I suggest you get your ass in gear. He’s got orders to carry you out kicking and screaming if he has to.”

“He wouldn’t dare. I’m not ten anymore. You’re not the boss of me, your majesty, even if you think you are,” she cried, defiantly, tears welling up in her eyes. “You’re not being fair.”

“Fair has nothing to do with this. You may not be ten, but you’re acting like a child, and I for one am fed up with your little pity party. You need to put this behind you before you drown in your own sorrows. It’s for your own good, and Mom and Dad agree, so unless you want to end up here in your pajamas, or worse, get dressed.”

She winced as Jane ended the call with a satisfactory slam of the phone, something impossible to do with a cellphone, and stuck out her tongue, the childish gesture of defiance making her feel better momentarily but, knowing Jane, she’d make good on her threat.

“Damn! I should’ve stayed in Toronto,” she said, aloud, her voice echoing in the empty house.

That’s it. Have a great weekend!