Authors, DON’T Make This Mistake!

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I told myself to do it.  It was in the back of my mind, trying to claw its way forward and screaming for my attention.

I ignored it.

Today I had the pleasure of hearing an author speak at one of the local libraries.  I’d never been to one of these shindigs before, but I pretty much knew what to expect.  “Self,” I said, “chances are, you might have the opportunity to talk about your work with other authors or potential readers.  Print up some business cards, Self!  Go on!  Do it!”  I didn’t do it.  I figured since this was a first-time experience that I was going just to listen, not to network.  BAD FIGURING.

Every opportunity is an opportunity to network.  As an author, you have a business, self-published or traditional.  If you want people to read your work, you need to promote your work, online and in person.  Don’t be like me. Don’t miss an opportunity, because yes, I had two people ask me if I had a card.  That was two potential sales!  I felt like such a classic fool, stumbling over my words, cursing myself as I explained…no, I don’t have a card…b-b-but, I should!  Pfft.  Shoulda, coulda, woulda.  

Next time, I will.

Have you ever missed a great opportunity like this and kicked yourself later for it?  Tell me all about it in the comments below!

Welp. Yup. It’s Time, Folks.

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The unknown is frightening, so much so I decided to write a short story about it.  That was my task today, and I have a spectacular, shiny rough draft.  Sit it shall, for a few days, and tonight, well…I think it’s high time…

That I…

Got back to Belinda!!!  😀  That sassy little chick has been not-so-patiently waiting for me to get my act together and finish her first book.  So, after I finish this blog post, I’m going to fish out my Bel notebook (one of MANY Bel notebooks), a few good pens, a highlighter, and gosh darn it, I’m gonna figure out just why bits of the current plot/character arcs aren’t working.  That’s phase one. Phase two…manuscript!  I’ll write my little heart out, and I hope to dear goodness that what I produce will be IT.  I mean…IT, as in ready for more beta readers.  And after a few MINOR typographical edits…ready for agents.  Been working on this dang book for over two years.  It. Is.  TIME.   FLughhh!  ERfgh!    As for my stand-alone romance novel, that’s still cooling off.  It needs a little while before I will be able to hand it off to betas.  I tend to go back and forth between projects, BUT, I do finish them and have gotten great reviews, so…I know I must be doing something right!

…Wish me luck, loyal fans!   I can’t wait for you all to read “Belinda”!

Excerpt from “The Voiceless”, Part 2

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From “The Voiceless”:

Several hours pass, and I still have no fish.  I’m dripping with sweat and shaking with hunger.  Casting modesty aside, I plop down in the water and stare at my lap.  With a cautious lowering of her body, Susanti sits next to me.  “Susanti,” she says.  I smile, but it’s chased away and replaced with a look of timid fright as she reaches her hand out towards my cheek.  As she makes contact, my pulse hammers in my ear and for a moment I forget how to breathe.  Remembering myself, I scramble to reposition my legs.  She waits until I stop moving and touches my cheek again.  Her fingers trickle down to my throat. I clamp my eyes shut.  She withdraws her hand, and my eyelids part.  Her palm is pressed against her own cheek.  “Susanti,” she repeats.  Her hand returns to my cheek, and this time, I keep my eyes open.  Understanding reaches me.  I trudge ashore and point the fishing stick at the wet sand.  With jerky motions, I write my name in a jumbled scrawl.  It’s the only word I know how to write.   

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Thank you for reading this excerpt from “The Voiceless”.  Read another free excerpt here.  Buy it on Amazon here.

Excerpt from “Alienation”, Part 2

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From “Alienation”:

Ruby stared up at Amos from where she was seated, her brown eyes and mascara-coated lashes magnified to startling proportions through her coke-bottle glasses.  She fiddled her thumbs and stared at his waistline.  “H-hello, Amos,” she said, her voice a hairline less mild than that of a timid schoolgirl.  She sniffed, wiped her nose with her hand, and scrambled to her feet to pull his chair out for him.

Amos put up his hands in mild protest.  “Please,” he said, latching on to her hand to bring it to his lips. He planted a gentle kiss just above her first and second knuckles. It was all he could do to not let his tongue slip out for even a lick of her flesh.  “…Don’t get up, unless it’s to show me that…scrumptious body of yours.”  Ruby broke into a fit of snorts and giggles.

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Thank you for reading this excerpt from “Alienation”, from the horror short-story anthology “Compulse”, available here..  Read another free excerpt from “Alienation”.

Excerpt from “The Voiceless”

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From “The Voiceless”, available now on Amazon.

I flinch when I see movement.  I look up and see the spider one with the crazy hair curling his pointer and middle fingers together.  I watch his hand as he moves it in a succinct circle.  “Rii-rahm!” is his grunt-like noise.

“Ridram,” says the broad-chested one, as he makes the same movement and points at the grunter.  My eyes move in cautious sweeps down the length of the line as they all curl their fingers, make the same small circle, and repeat in sloppy unison, “Ridram”.   I get lost in the cacophony for a while, but return as the noise tapers.  They still their motions and let their hands drop to their sides.  I suffer under the weight of their eyes upon me and squirm as they thicken the air with anticipation.  Distant sporadic squawks and chirps intertwine with the tide’s crescendo.  The island, abundant with life, is begging me to join it.

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Thank you for reading this excerpt from “The Voiceless”, available now on Amazon.  Read another free excerpt here.

Excerpt from “The Watcher”

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From “The Watcher”

She is number eleven, bound and gagged like the last ten, and her peaches and cream cheeks are turning a deep shade of indigo.  I release the string and switch it out for a knife.  I press the blade and plunge it into her neck, and bask in relief as I let the blood seep onto my freezing hands.

I shove the shoestring back into the pocket of my hooded sweatshirt, and crawl in quick, jerky movements on my knees to her feet.  Her shoes are dirty, but her laces–a dazzling white.   With a panicked haste, I run to my truck and rummage in the backseat for a rag and a jug of water.  I couldn’t bear it if those beautiful laces got one drop of her blood on them.   My hand is on the jug’s handle when I feel someone’s eyes on me.  A quiet gasp shoots up into my nostrils, but I stay focused on my task.  Still, I can’t pretend to not be delighted that someone has taken an interest in my work.  Someone knows my secret and someone wants to be body number twelve.

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Thank you for reading this excerpt from “The Watcher”, from the “Compulse” short story anthology, available here. 

Excerpt from “Alienation”

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From “Alienation”

It was at first a single whisper, hot and quick, tickling my ear.   It grew into many whispers from sources unseen, their fervent voices hissing through the shadows.  I inclined my head to listen.  I knew the whispers were for my ears alone, because it was only I who had need for them.  The whisperers were joined by others innumerable, swelling into a cacophony of murmurs and shouts.  The shouts softened while the whispers engorged into a crescendo, harmonizing into a single tone, which buzzed like the pluck of a stringed instrument, sweet, crisp, and metallic.  The tone repeated, gaining volume with each passing interval, until I became aware of its purpose—to take formation inside my mind as two distinct thoughts.  They awakened every perception of self within me.  Survive.  Swim.

Without a tether, I would have no safeguard against drowning.  But the walls gave me little consternation, because though they were layered and substantial, they were also pliable, and would succumb with ease to the sickle-shaped claws curling out from my fingertips.  Yet my survival would not be guaranteed. And I must live, for without me, there would be nothing.  Mine is the only existence that has worth.

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Thank you for reading this excerpt from “Alienation”, from the “Compulse” short story anthology, available here.  Read another free excerpt from “Alienation”.

Excerpt from “A Sunflower for Daddy”

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From “A Sunflower for Daddy”

The smell of soiled bedding and rotting fruit wafted into the hall as Abigail approached Dottie’s room.   Her door was open, and the faint sound of a laugh track did its best to breathe life into the stale atmosphere.  Abigail paused as the memory of what happened washed over her mind.  Her nose wrinkled. She could almost still smell the bleach that permeated the bedroom air that day. Before it happened, it was Dottie who had made the sandwiches.  Before it happened, Abigail had still referred to Dottie as Mommy.

But the day Abigail had found Daddy in what was then Grandmother’s room, with his head in his hands, all that changed.  “Grandma was just so old and sick, Abigail,” Daddy said, his eyes glossed with tears, “and Mommy just couldn’t cope with it.  She’s…”  As Daddy spoke, Abigail’s eyes swiveled to a dark spot on the peeling paisley wallpaper.  “…Mommy’s in the hospital, Abigail,” Daddy said.

At the hospital, Abigail thought Mommy resembled a dead cat, with its eyes wide open and its body stiff like a rolled up rug.  After Daddy left to get a cup of coffee, Mommy grabbed Abigail’s arm. “Daddy’s done a terrible thing,” Mommy said, her eyes shining with dread.  “…Now it’s only a matter of time…don’t listen to them, Abby…..”  Silence befell her. The milky substance of an absent mind invaded her gaze.  Mommy never said another word again.

When Abigail had returned home that day, she spoke to the sunflowers.  “Daddy has a secret,” she whispered. She walked along the line of towering blossoms, reaching up to each one to stroke their petals.  Her toe hit an obstruction in the grass.  She looked down and saw the shears.   A thin smile formed on her face as she took the shears and pried open the blade.   She tilted her chin as she returned her gaze to the flowers.  The smile slipped from her face.   “But you won’t ever tell, will you?”

 

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Thank you for reading this excerpt from “A Sunflower for Daddy”, from the “Compulse” short story horror anthology, available here.

I’ve Written Horror, but I’m Not a Horror Author

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Oh, Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood!

This is something that has been a worry in the back of my mind ever since I wrote my three horror stories over a year ago.  I want to be known as a middle-grade fantasy author.  I have no aspirations to be the next Stephen King.  Well, I don’t want to be the next J.K. Rowling, either…I want to be the next S.E. Eaton, and slowly, she is being made, formed through her written words, unique in voice, branded as her very own person.   But, I digress.  Middle-grade and young adult are my true passions.  “Belinda”, however, does and will have a few darker themes, though similar to Harry Potter, the darkness is a light shade of gray-ish white, to start, and will darken as the series continues.

I don’t want any of my readers who loath horror to get turned off from my writing.  Belinda will be teeming with hope, light, and goodness, and although the darkness will have its place, as it does in any epic fantasy, it will not ultimately win….

or will it?  (…Can’t give you spoilers!)

Anyway, really, so far I’ve written in a variety of genres.  “The Voiceless” is sci-fi/dystopian, “The Bus” is literary fiction, “Roses and Weeds” is a dark fantasy/fable, and one of my current projects is a romance.  And “Belinda Starr”, of course, is middle-grade fantasy.  I’m stretching my writing muscles, seeing what y’all like best.  If “Compulse” does well, I may write more horror, or I may not.  But I will never write just horror.  I won’t let my career path venture off in that direction.

If you don’t like horror, consider giving one of my other stories a read.  Let me know what you think.  It would mean the world to me.  🙂

You Have No Other Choice

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A few thoughts, for a taste of what this soon-to-be-released horror story anthology is all about….

  Your stomach tightens. Rage fills your senses.  You can’t see straight, you scream, you wail, but no one hears you.   And so you grow numb.

But…

…Soon…

…you will take it back.  You will take it all back.  …Your power.   There’s a part of you, a minuscule voice, tinged by a quiet psychosis, dripping with apathy.  It was silenced in the past, but today…today you will listen.  And today, it will help you regain everything that was taken from you.

They’ve asked too much of you already.

You’ve had enough.   No one else is going to keep you alive. They don’t understand what you need.  They don’t understand you.  They call you sick, messed up, out of your MIND, but their labels don’t faze you.  Not anymore.    The voice is growing…louder…louder….  It’s who you are now.  You had no other choice.

You had no other choice.

Go on.  You know what you need to do.  The whispers are becoming screams.  Listen.  Listen.

Take it back.  It is your right.  You know what must be done. Take it back.

TAKE IT BACK.

Compulse.  Your beating heart has forced their hands.

 October, 2015.