Monday, January 30, 2012

Writing Update #4

Haven't done one of these in a while, so for those of you wondering what projects I'm working on lately...ta da!

First of all, I am very very excited to announce that a short story of mine has been accepted to run in the Bleeding Ink anthology. It was the first acceptance letter I've ever received for my writing and, I can tell you, if felt amazing. Not quite sure what the dates are yet for it to be released, but I will keep you posted!

I have a second project in the works to be submitted for the Day of Demons anthology, and it's currently in the process of thorough editing. Thorough editing. My first draft looked like it had been massacred. It felt pretty good, actually. This one is a short story I spent January writing and I'm proud of it - can't wait for you to read it.

Otherwise, I've been editing. A lot. Mostly not even on my own stuff, but projects and betas I've taken on to help others, which has been both satisfying and entertaining. I have, however, started reading over my first draft of Bitter Cold, and,'s not going great. I don't like my first chapter - great start, huh? But it's all right. I have a few theories on how to improve it, so February will start that whole process.

The downside of having all of this fix-up/read-through/editing to do is that any new writing has to sit on the back-burner. I have a hard time switching back and forth between analytical and creative thinking - trying to write during my "editing" phase usually leads me to jotting down dry, straightforward, emotionless garbage I normally wouldn't consider. It's a problem that reminds me (horrifyingly) of university, of trying to balance my novel with the masses of research papers *shudder*. Still, I have a few ideas I'm brainstorming, noting ideas for.

On The Raven's Quill, I've reached some awesome benchmarks as well. 4200 hits as of the end of January. It's incredible! I never thought it would reach so high, and I only have you to thank for it so...thanks!

"That's it for now," she said, taking a deep breath. I'm blown away that this is just January. 2012 has started out with a bang for this writer - can't wait to see where the rest of the year takes me!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wink, Wink; Nudge, Nudge

I'm having difficulty with another aspect of writing and I'm looking forward to hear your thoughts on: Finding a balance between what the reader ought to know, and what to hold back. Foreshadowing. Oh, for such a fun word to say, with such great literary purpose, it is most troublesome.

"Why is it so tricky?" one might ask. "All you're doing is giving a hint at what's to come. Just throw in a purposeful glance at the bad character, or a clever absent comment about the object that will destroy the world. It's easy."  To that person I say: :P

I've read some books where the foreshadowing was not handled well at all. A quarter of the way through I had figured out most of the plot, and not just because I'm clever -- they actually spelled it out with the thought they were being devious.

It's an understandable error, and one I fight with all the time. As a writer, you know how it's supposed to end. You know what all the little clues mean, and that the climax of the book comes when the MC discovers alien overlords have actually been hiding all these years in our breakfast cereal, plotting their rise to power. The reader, on the other hand, shouldn't know everything that's coming up, just that there's some connection between granola and aliens (I'm certain there is, by the way).

To keep the reader in the dark but moving in the right direction, it's necessary for the writer to throw breadcrumbs, but how much credit should we give our readers for picking up on them? Things that seem blatantly obvious to the writer ("Didn't you read the end? OBVIOUSLY, the almonds were the clue all along. Couldn't you tell when there were almonds in every bowl?"), don't necessarily mean anything to reader -- they read to escape, not to analyse every single line for meaning and symbolism. Or the writer falls on the other side and explains too much, worried that the reader won't pick up on the hint ("Ally stared deep into her bowl. There was something about the almonds, something that always seemed....sinister."). Every book has an element of mystery, as question of what's going to happen, and to give up the game with some in-your-face foreshadowing makes for a disappointing ending. Why bother to read the rest if you know what's coming?

So where is the middle ground?  I think it's something only practice can build, that ability to keep the subtlety, but create that epiphany at the end when the reader's mind is just blown that it was the almonds after all. Is there a rule of thumb? Do's and don'ts of foreshadowing? I've read suggestions online, in books, through four years of university, but I'm interested in hearing from readers - what do you like/not like? And from writers, any tricks you care to share?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Julie Campbell Q&A

Author Julie Campbell is doing the tour of the blogs to promote her novella of Doc Vampire-Hunting Dog, and I am very proud to host here. And, as a special two-in-one guest series, she's brought along the main character of her novella: the intelligent and wonderful Border Collie, Doc.
I have read all of the Doc short stories on her blog and they are charming, sweet and thoroughly entertaining. I can't wait to get my teeth into this novella.

Q&A - Julie Campbell

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. As a human being, a writer, an animal lover - all the good stuff.

You kind of covered it. I’m a writer and an animal lover and that pretty well dominates my life. I’m kind of a big geek too. I love fantasy, role-playing, sci fi, other worlds. Anything that sparks my imagination. I’m also an escapist… What better way to get out of the “real world” for a while then to dive into a great book, whether I’m reading or writing it. I’ve always loved animals and they’ve slowly made their way into my lives. I now live with three cats, my dog and my horse. Well, my horse is close to my house but not quite living with me. I love country music and rock and roll. The mountains are my home away from home and I spend as much time there in the summer as I can.

2)    Your series about Doc: The Vampire-Hunting Dog is precious - it's great that you've posted them from free on your blog. What gave you the idea?

The idea came about with Devin O’Branagan’s original round of flash contests. She wanted me to write something for one of them, but I had no idea what to write. I’m not awesome at short stories either – they all turn into novels eventually – so I told her I’d think about it. The theme of the contest was vampires of some sort or another and one day I was playing with my Border Collie and noticed (not for the first time) how intense her gaze was. Surely she could trap even a vampire with that Eye. And Doc was born.

3)  Is it challenging, writing from a dog’s point of view? You make it look easy.

Haha, thanks. It is challenging. The trick for me was to balance Doc’s intelligence with the reality that there are some things he won’t understand. Some of the more abstract concepts that humans have, unless they’ve been explained to him, he won’t get, for example Jake, one of my more human characters, says something about hoping that Kevin will snap out of his daze. Doc, in his mind, says he hopes Kevin will wake up soon, and snap out of his daze, whatever that is. He’s thinking this, not communicating telepathically. I also had to show enough of the world, through him overhearing dialog, and his observations, that readers could pick out the back story even though Doc isn’t concerned with many of the going-ons in the human world. I also had to decide how he would refer to things like vampires. To him they smell dead, so he calls them dead-things, but someone tells him they are called vampires, so he uses that sometimes as well.
Doc is, obviously, exceptional, and he becomes even more so as the series progresses. He’s a lot of fun to write.

4) Doc, how do you feeling letting a human tell your tale? Do you feel she’s doing a good job relaying your adventures?

*Grins* It makes me happy that I can give her a job to do. It’s the best thing in the world, to have a job. Especially one hunting vampires. Maybe if more dogs read my stories they can help their humans hunt too, then we can get rid of the dead-things. I think she is doing a good job telling my tale. *lowers voice* But she needs to write in more sheep, and Nelli.

5)  What can you or Julie tell us about your upcoming tale?

Doc: Well, in the one my author just published, I learn a lot about hunting vampires and we meet one that is very dangerous. She gets away, but I bet we’ll be fighting her again in my next novella. I’ve been promised sheep, too.

6)   Julie, I loved the characters in your Halloween 2011 short. Can you tell me a little about that series? And Doc, what was it liking working with Kat and Jin?

Julie: I discovered Doc in 2010 shortly before Halloween. I had a great time writing a Halloween story for him and this year I wanted to write another Halloween tale. I’d also just watched Deadliest Warriors Vampires vs Zombies episode and wanted to write my own vampires vs zombies story. I also wanted to write a Doc story and after some debate, and the realization that I didn’t really have time to write two stories, I decided what the heck and combined them all into one. I will likely write another Halloween story next year, but I don’t know what it will be yet. Kat is a rather old vampire who, atypically, really enjoys hunting other vampires. She’s actually a pretty reasonable sort if you happen to be human. She’s hell on other vampires that piss her off though. Jin is her adopted daughter. Long story short – she was friends with Jin’s parents, they died but before they did they asked Kat to take care of Jin and her brother because they knew she could protect them. Jin is becoming a bad ass vampire hunter in her own right too.

Doc: We got trapped in a hotel by rotting humans. It was supposed to be a vacation in the mountains. With sheep. Stupid rotting humans. The vampire and her human, Jin, showed up. I didn’t have the energy to attack her by the time she arrived and then she did something really strange. She brought us food. I decided that she couldn’t be all bad, if she was going to feed me. Jin was really nice. Even though I don’t like vampires, I’m glad they came. They saved me and Kevin. I suppose if I see her again I’ll be nice to her, as long as she has food.

7)   You write horror really well, as Halloween 2011 demonstrated. Have you played around with the genre very much before or since that story?

Thank you. I write fantasy mostly, but one of the things I love about fantasy is that it encompasses most other genres and I do tend to write darker stories. Especially when I dive into the Urban Fantasy realm. That lends really well to the vampires and zombies and such. So, even if I’m not specifically writing horror, you’ll probably see elements of it many of my stories.

8)  Fill us in a bit on your other projects. You are the author of Senior Year Bites, and I believe are currently working on a sequel?

The sequel is done and I’m currently working on edits from my beta readers. I should be able to submit it to my publisher at the end of the month. I’ve had some good comments on it so far, so I’m really excited to get it out to the world. I’m also working on a YA fantasy that should be out sometime this year. It’s called Arabian Dreams and about a girl who travels to other worlds on horseback. It is under contract, we’re just finishing up edits. I have a ton of other projects too, but I do have plans for another Doc novella soon.

9)  Finally the questions I ask all my writer guests - what is your “Writer must-have”? Setting, mug, music, favourite desktop? What do you need to write?

Hmm, good question. Ideally, I’m at my desk with my music and a mug of tea. Sometimes I’ll take my netbook and go outside, that’s really nice. All I truly need is a pad of paper and a pen. I’ve even written ideas while out riding my horse in the mountains.

10)  Do you have any advice for other writers out there?

It’s a crazy game, but don’t give up. Keep a regular writing schedule and write all the time.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Self-Publishing: The way to go?

The last few weeks I've been seriously considering self-publishing as the route to go for my work. The idea has always kind of hung around in the background, but the companies people recommended to me always seemed so...sketchy. I had this idea that I would throw out wads of cash to get 40 copies of a book that no one would ever get the chance to read. That view of things seems to have changed in the last few months.

Is it the ebooks that altered things? Because now an author isn't limited to a minimal bundle of copies to give to grandma and Aunt Mae in Calgary - now they're able to offer a wide-spread distribution in some form?

Is it because there are so many talented, capable and business-savvy writers have gone this route, that the stigma seems to have eased, creating a wider berth between self-publishing and vanity press?

I'm not really sure of the reason, but I know that a number of people I respect as authors and whose work I love have chosen the option of self-publishing and they seem more than satisfied with the results. I'm sitting back over the next couple of weeks to weigh the pros and cons, research my options, but considering my greatest reader base here (I'm thinking. Could be wrong. Apologies to those who aren't, if I am!) are the writerly/readerly sort, I'd really love to hear your thoughts. Recommendations? Suggestions? Warnings? I'm open to them all.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Somnium - Keri Lake: A review

A work assignment in Kittery, Maine should be routine for Allie Lynch; nothing more than to prove herself as a brilliant engineer. Instead she finds herself torn between two men: a gorgeous military guard, Colton Briggs, and her devilishly handsome colleague, Drew Costa. To resist temptation, Allie does the only thing she can: she throws herself into her work.

But fate has other plans for Allie. Women are going missing all around her, Allie is struck with a series of life-threatening mishaps, and she becomes the obsession of a local deranged psychopath.

Thrust into a dark world that she can hardly fathom, Allie must fight for her very survival, open her mind to new realities – and open her heart to the possibility of love. Because both of these men are trouble – but one is a greater danger than she could ever imagine …

I fell for this book. Hard. 

Maybe it's because of my own personal situation, maybe it was inevitable, I don't know and I do not care. I fell in love with this book the way a smoker inhales his first puff of the morning. Okay, so maybe it's more an addiction than true love, but the passion is the same. 

I was caught in the very first chapter by the suspense the author immediately works in. As the mystery built up, though, it was the emotions of the main character, Allie Lynch, that really kept me reading. For one thing, her reactions to her "real life" moments were hilarious, charming and adorable. You know, those situations that would totally happen to someone in the real world, but that authors sometimes avoid writing about because it detracts from the dignity of their main characters? Keri has no fear - she bandied those situations about like they were more excerpts from a personal diary than fiction, and it really worked to make the main character likable and down to earth. 

Even more than Allie's...I don't want to say goofiness, but shall we say "blush-inducingness", was her emotions to the two main men in her life. The way Keri describes the leading males, and the feelings that pop up in Allie whenever one of the two, or both, are around, that's what really got me. To the point where I would fight in hair-pulling, nail-scratching hand-to-hand combat with Allie to get one of their attention. Um...yum! Keri's descriptions were impeccable. Skin-crawling, oil-feeling-in-the-stomach at times, and then a jump to words infused with such desire I was amazed my Kindle didn't melt. 

Keri went with the decision to self-publish, and I strongly feel she has proven a very valuable lesson of writing. It's not the publisher that makes the book, but the passion of the writer. The cover art is beautiful, the story even more so, and it is with bated breath that I wait for Requiem to be ready. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lessons Learned

We're not even half-way through January, but I've already had a few wake-up calls when it comes to writing. Some were timely reminders, other sharp slaps in the face, but all of them worth sharing, I think, because I have a feeling I'm not the only one who's been here, done that.

1. Love what you write

This is not to say "Believe everything you write is perfect". If you did that you'd probably have a first draft riddled with typos, grammar errors, and major plot inconsistencies and think that it was oh so lovely and will you accept it? That would be a different kind of wake-up call. No, what I mean is be passionate about what you're writing. If you don't like where a plot is going, then maybe it's time to reconsider it. If you're not getting along with your characters then maybe it's time to figure out where you and them have split and try to find some common ground. A friend told me yesterday that generally "something you hate to write is something others won't want to read", and based on his reaction to my short story...that's very likely true

2. Write for yourself

A common rule, but one I felt I should share again because it turns out that sometimes it's very hard to follow. If you're writing for a deadline, or for a specific project that's fine - but don't get bogged down with the "when and for whom". As much work as it is, and as stressful as it can be, writing is fun. If you're not having fun, then it means that something is off and you need to sit back and look at your motivations.

3. Learn to say "No"

Colin F Barnes wrote an incredible post on this subject recently. I've taken on quite a few editing tasks in the last little while and it's giving me added stress that doesn't help my writing. On the other hand, it could eventually lead to a profitable little side-business, so I don't want to give it up entirely. The trick is to find balance. Between my day job and my writing, I'm always "on", always at work in some form or another, and the tasks for others just adds to that ever growing to-do list. It's been ages since I've been able to relax and read without feeling like I should be doing something else. Priorities need to be sorted, and the things lower on the list need to be dropped ASAP. No questions asked - it's for the sake of sanity.

4. Develop your thick skin!

I felt the exclamation mark was needed here. In my opinion - cancer crab that I am with the very soft, sensitive underbelly - this is the hardest part of writing. Not everyone is going to like what you have to offer, not everyone will read your work and think it's "ohmigod, like, totally the best thing over." You will get rejected, you will get not-so-great feedback,  but what's important to remember is NONE OF IT IS NEGATIVE. It may feel that way when you first get the news, but all it means is you've learned something new.

I know all of these have been written/suggested a million times before, but honestly this post is just for me. It's for myself to go back to when the days are rough and the rejection letters keep pouring in, or when something I've spent good time on can be used for nothing more than fire fodder.

Any other rules of thumb you live by to get you through?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Q&A - Jocelyn Fox

I've been wanting to get to know Joceyln A Fox ever since I read her incredible novel The Iron Sword, and recently got the chance to wrangle her into filling out my Q&A fact sheet while she was on leave. Please take a few to read what goes on behind the eyes of this (perhaps overly) caffeinated writer.

For my review of The Iron Sword click here

Q & A

Tell us about yourself.

I’m terrible at answering questions like this one…but here goes anyway. My day job includes sailing the high seas, hunting pirates, handling guns and consuming epic amounts of coffee on a daily basis. I frequently have crushes on fictional characters and I use inappropriately large words in normal conversation. I have to run at least every other day because otherwise I get restless. (That might have something to do with the coffee, come to think of it.) I love music—my favorite artists are Florence + the Machine, Adele and Lady Gaga. And I’m always up for an adventure, whether it’s surfing, rock-climbing, riding a camel or hunting for the perfect pair of red heels.

 The Iron Sword is your first published novel, but do you have anything else under your belt still sitting in journal somewhere.

Oh, I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil! In middle school and high school I’d buy those black-and-white marbled journals and just fill them with stories. I had a novel that I worked on for about two years in high school, and it filled four or five journals cover to cover. In hindsight, that first novel served a test-run to prove to myself that I had the endurance as a writer to stick with a long project and finish it. It taught me about pacing and characterization, and the importance of knowing the direction of the plot.  And of course I have snippets of stories that I write down just to get them on paper, scenes that come to me when I’m running or sleeping…or supposed to be doing something else, like paying attention in class! I’ve met a lot of characters and hopefully I’ll be able to tell all their stories. There’s always something new catching my eye and one of my goals this year is getting back into some short fiction. It’s been a few years since I’ve written short stories, and I think that’s a great way for a writer to hone her talents. It takes skill to encapsulate enough raw emotion and action to make a reader really care about a character and conflict in a shorter work. It makes you concentrate more as a writer, because every word counts. So I’ll be dredging up some old works and maybe drawing some inspiration from them.

 Considering your job, where do you find the time to write?

My career in the military definitely makes it difficult to keep any kind of steady writing schedule, but it’s taught me to be flexible. It depends on my unit’s schedule and mission. I’d get up early before watch or stay up a little longer than I normally would to squeeze in a few minutes of writing. The Iron Sword originated as an independent study creative writing project during my last semester at the U.S. Naval Academy, so I’ve always had to work around a packed schedule. But I’ve always been a writer, so to me writing is a necessity just like breathing and eating. I get cranky if I don’t write, just like I get restless if I don’t run. Luckily I work well under pressure and with little sleep. If I can do my routine of getting a latte at a local coffee shop and holing up in a comfy armchair for a few hours, great, but I’ve adapted so that as long as I have my trusty laptop I’m good to go!

 How much of your job/training do you use in your writing?

Since I write fantasy, my training influences my work in more oblique ways than if I was writing a contemporary thriller or something like that. I’ve taken boxing and martial arts and I served as a weapons coach for the M16-A service rifle, teaching our incoming freshmen how to shoot, so I have some experience with weapons and fight scenarios. Some of the training I’ve done involved “simunitions,” which is ammunition fired from real weapons but with a paintball-like tip, so you get the feel of firing the weapon and you get the adrenaline rush of someone else firing a weapon at you. And the rounds leave some impressive bruises! Rather than my experiences influencing my work literally, I’ve taken those emotions and those reactions and applied them to the action scenes in my novels. There’s a physical element to fight scenes and action sequences that needs to be present in the writing; without it, the reader ends up feeling uninvolved, and I use my experience with my “real job” to help me inject those scenes with the intensity needed to pull in the reader.
                Writing also requires discipline. That’s definitely something we know about in the military, so it’s had a positive impact on my work ethic and my determination to make a story as good as it can be. I also get to see some amazing places—over the past six months I’ve been to Albania, Montenegro, Dubai, Bahrain, the Seychelles and Portugal. It’s definitely a fast-paced life.

 I love your choice of language for the Sidhe, a very Celtic feel to it. How much research did you do into getting the language right?

I searched a lot of databases online as I was building the foundation of the Sidhe world. I wanted to familiarize myself with the sounds of the language, and I did use some words, with some liberal spelling. For example, talamh is the Gaelic word for “land,” so I used it in naming the mortal world (Doendhtalam) and the Fae world (Faeortalam). Just like I put my own twist on the legends of the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, I wanted to put a bit of creativity into their language. Language fascinates me, but I’m not a scholar of Gaelic/Irish, so I tried to make it feel authentic without overreaching.

 What first inspired you to write The Iron Sword? Which aspect/character came to you first?

I’ve always had an affinity for strong heroines, and I really love British and Celtic mythology. The legends of King Arthur, Excalibur and the Knights of the Round Table always fascinated me. At the beginning I knew I was going to have a strong female protagonist, and I experimented with a few different viewpoints before I settled on first person. Then I had to pick a place, and one of the most inspiring places I’ve ever been was the Texas Hill Country. My best friend’s family actually has a cabin there, and Tess and Molly’s experiences there are based on the spring break that I spent with my friend and her family. Once I settled on the Hill Country, it started flowing from there. I wanted to write a story that I would want to read myself, and I wanted to put my own spin on the Excalibur legend. I’ve always had this question in my head: What if the “knight in shining armor” was a woman? So I knew that Tess was going to be the main character, and she was going to become the “knight in shining armor” despite the fact that the Sidhe weren’t originally interested in her. And then of course there’s Finnead, the handsome and enigmatic Sidhe knight. Knights in shining armor need to have someone to rescue. Even though Finnead is a formidable Named Knight, Tess saves his life and that establishes the tone of their relationship, even though he’s a Sidhe and she’s a mortal.

 Are you a fantasy reader generally?

The answer to that question is a huge, resounding YES. The first books that really unlocked my imagination were C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. In elementary school I got in trouble in math class because I’d hide a book under the desk and read…I thought I was so clever and that the teacher wouldn’t catch on. Throughout middle school and into high school, I read J.R.R. Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey, Philip Pullman, J.K. Rowling, Tamora Pierce, Diana Wynne Jones, Mercedes Lackey and so many more.  I could go on for hours about books. Some of my recent favorites are the Hunger Games trilogy and the Dark Tower series. (I was a late bloomer in finding Stephen King.)

I know you’re working on the sequel to Tess’s story, but are there any other stories in your future you’re looking forward to telling?

There are a lot of stories that are at the edges of Tess’s story. For example, Vell was a character that I didn’t expect to meet. She just showed up and said, “Here I am. Now let’s get down to business.” She’s definitely a strong character who has a story of her own. But outside the Sidhe world, I’d love to do some historical fantasy with nautical elements. That’s something constantly on my mind when I’m out at sea, the “What if…” questions circulating in my head. There’s a lot of very rich lore involving the sea, and I’d like to add that to my own experiences. That could definitely be fun.

What is your “Writer must-have”?

Caffeine! If it were professional, I’d insert an emoticon smiley-face here. My preferred vehicle for caffeine involves coffee and chocolate combined in some diabolical way, which explains why I haunt coffee shops on my days off when I want to write.  Other than coffee, I’d say the Internet. I really like connecting with other writers and talking to them about their inspiration and their experiences.

Advice for writers?

Write a little bit every day, and don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself. It’s great to have goals but there’s that old proverb that says the hardest part of any journey is the first step. If you write a little bit every day, whether you think it’s good or bad, you’re working on technique and forming discipline. And it’s really easy to burn out and get discouraged if you expect yourself to become a bestselling author overnight, because you don’t see all the years of hard work and effort that those authors put into their books. So just have fun. Write because you love telling stories to the people who want to listen.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Devin O'Branagan's Glory - A review

Seventeen-year-old Glory Templeton's blood holds the cure for a deadly pandemic-plague and she embarks on a quest to save humanity. When evil forces conspire to stop her, three supernatural beings are assigned to be her guardians. Forbidden love, ancient secret societies, mysterious astronomical monuments, witches, angels, vampires, and demons all contribute to the high adventure that tests the character of this remarkable young woman.

The legend of Glory begins!

Glory - Devin O'Branagan

It’s been a long time since I’ve read YA fiction. Why? Well, mostly because I never really read much YA fiction. I jumped into the big-girl stuff from a pretty young age. Fortunately, you’re never too old to read a good book, because once again the mind of Devin O’Branagan has given me something to delight in.

There’s a lot of love about Glory – both the character and the novel. You’d think that being young adult fantasy, it would lack some of the depth and darkness that her novels Threshold and Witch hunt delved into - but you would be mistaken. It’s just a bit more subtle. Good vs. evil; hope or hate for humanity; whether a dog can really save the human race – it’s all there.

The characters in Glory are fun, that’s what kept bringing me back to it whenever life forced me to put it down. Each man, woman, anthropomorphically flexible being, and canine have his or her own species-specific dilemmas, their own complete stories going on as an undercurrent to the main narrative, and I wanted to know more about all of them.

Another perk is that, in a day where “Team Vampire vs. Team Werewolf” stories abound, O’Branagan takes an…angelic twist that I find refreshing and charming. This is one battle in which I wouldn’t be able to choose a side.

I have to say that my favourite characters appeared right at the end, the lovely Goth Girls: Jinx, Jade, Jasmine, and Jezebel. These ladies kick all kinds of ass and I want to be their friend. Please?

Fine, well even if I’m not given that opportunity, then I can at least look forward to their return in the sequel to Glory – which is currently being on worked by Ms O’Branagan (permission to hop up and down with excitement)?

For all official Glory info, including character bios and a novel trailer, click here!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Flash Fiction - December

Who says Christmas stories are now passe?

After my recent success of finishing my novel on time, I also just tied for first place in this month's flash fiction with this little number! Please read, enjoy, and leave your thoughts! I'm always anxious for feedback.

Yuletide Carole

The night Santa went crazy, the night Kris Kringle went nuts…” The kids screamed Weird Al from the backseat and Carole did her best to smile and bop her head along to the music with them.
It had been a long drive, but Gammy Muriel’s house was finally in sight and soon Carole would be able to deliver her sweet precious monsters to her parents and break open a bottle of wine.
The SUV slid into the immaculately shovelled laneway and Molly and Brad, ages six and ten, didn’t even wait until the engine shut off before jumping out and running to the front door.
“Gammy! Gammy!” they shouted, and barrelled against the welcoming legs of their grandmother who stood waiting for them in the doorway.
“Look at you both! You’re huge! Come on inside, there’s cookies and a big glass of milk waiting for you on the table.”
The kids whooped and disappeared in the warmth of the house while Carole unloaded suitcases from the trunk. Muriel stepped around the back to help her, her sweater wrapped close around her.
“Brr,” she shivered. “How was the drive?”
“Long,” Carole sighed and gave her mom a tight hug.
“And how are you?”
Carole shrugged and focused once more on unpacking the vehicle, piling backpacks and tote bags on her arms. Muriel grabbed the remaining Dora the Explorer and Spiderman suitcases and wheeled them to the front of the house.
“Well you’re not allowed to be depressed in my home. It’s been a year, it’s Christmas Eve, and you’re surrounded by people who love you. Think you can crack a smile for that?” Her mother’s words were harsh, but her eyes belied the lecture. Carole gave a pathetic attempt at a grin and Muriel rolled her eyes, pushing her inside.
“Go eat some cookies.”

That night around midnight, Carole woke up. She wasn’t sure what had woken her – there were no children to be seen or heard and she couldn’t remember any bad dreams. For a moment she lay in the darkness and felt tears trickle out the corners of her eyes. Every day since Tom left had been hard, but Christmas was proving even more so.
She heard a noise from downstairs, the sound of tree ornaments shaking. Is that what had pulled her out of her sleep? She frowned. It was probably Brad trying to sneak a peek at his presents. Hopefully he hadn’t corrupted Molly, too.
Carole pushed the covers off, pulled on her robe and went downstairs to the living room – to see a man in a red suit dancing with their tree.
“Excuse me?” she asked, fear struck in her heart. Was he trying to steal it? Some thief dressed as Santa?
“Huh?” the man turned around, staggering on unsteady feet. “Who’re you?”
Nope, just a drunk in the wrong house. “I think you may have gone through the wrong front door, buddy. This is Muriel and Kevin’s home.”
“Oh! Muriel, I like Muriel, she makes good cookies. Who’re you?” It was a trifle difficult to understand him through his slurry words.
“Carole,” Carole replied, her mouth a thin line. She wanted him to leave before he woke up the kids.
“Carole, hi, I’m Dan. Sing with me, Carole. Your sister can sing too, I like twins.” He grabbed her hand and spun her around in a stumbling waltz. Carole tried to push him away, but not too hard. Her goal was get him gone, not angry. “Rudorf the lead-nosed reindog,” he sang. “Tha’s not right, does that sound right to you?”
“Not exactly,” Carole agreed.
“Wait – who’re you? This isn’ my house. Oops.” He let go of her and scrubbed at his fake Santa beard. “You’re a good dancer and pretty.”
“Thank you,” Carole played along. “Now how about you go home and sleep this off?”
“Yeah, tha’s a good idea. Nice to meet you, Annie.”
He shuffled to the front door and out into the snow. Carole watched him leave with a shake of her head and shut the door behind him.

“I can’t believe it,” Muriel sputtered over her coffee the next morning. Molly was entertained by her new plastic ponies and Brad by his army men. Kevin sat reading yesterday’s paper and Carole sat with her mother at the kitchen table. “Dan Sutherland, our neighbour. He was playing Santa at the hospital charity party last night. Apparently he got so drunk he stepped on the fake presents, tripped on a child, kissed a nurse and walked all the way home from the hospital. It’s strange, he’s always been so polite – and chairman of the Board at the hospital!”
A laugh burst through Carole’s lips – a full, deep refreshing laugh at the reminder of last night’s visitor.
“Mom? What’s so funny?” Molly asked. She couldn’t remember seeing her mother laugh that way before.
“Nothing, honey,” Carole grinned. She leaned back in her chair and began to sing softly to herself, “The night Santa went crazy; the night Kris Kringle went nuts…