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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Flash: Eat Half



Image acquired from the Internet Hive Mind (multiple postings)

[Eat Half - flash story]

Joe stopped inside the living room. The house was clean. Not just picked up trash clean which was intimidating enough. Because between two small children, one of which was nursing, and a fairly full-time job as a real estate agent, Cheryl usually met "at least not smelling of garbage" standard until he had the weekend to bring everything into the healthy livable please-don't-call-social-services-on-us environment.

Today his son laid in his onesie in front of the television, wet hair slicked back from a recent bath, watching "Frozen" and not a toy was in sight. The determined dust bunnies and stains he had not been able to unseat had been murdered by a vacuum and ... he sniffed ... lavender-scented carpet foam. A sparkling white playpen, bleached clean of the thousand of teeth marks and grubby fingerprints, contained his daughter trying to pull her socks off. So far the infant was unsuccessful because the feet kept moving on her when she reached to grab them with her hands. She smiled and gurgled at the challenge.

He continued through the Stepford Wives perfection to the kitchen where his wife scrubbed the dishes he had left soaking the night before, her blond hair swept back into a bun without a hair out of place, her make-up perfect for house-showing, and her nearly re-tamed belly brushing the counter as she leaned over the sink for leverage. He didn't mind the paunch, two children stretch things, but she hated it and had the adults of the house on diets.

"My love," Joe bravely called her attention to his existence, "how was your day?"

Cheryl turned toward him, her eyes sparkling angrily, her hands scraping the scrub brush against the non-stick pan hard enough to remove the special surface and leave groves. Through gritted teeth, words emerged.

"Your son."

"Yes..."

"Lunch."

She nodded sharply to a plate and glass, beside a ruler and a water-soluble child's over-sized magic marker. The only dirty dishes in the room. Even the dusty wine glasses had been washed. While she could not drink alcohol, Joe abstained. He never was much of a drinker anyway. The last time she wasn't nursing or pregnant, they shared a bottle of champagne in belated celebration of their anniversary which likely lead to the baby in the crib now. That was the sum total of in-house consumption.

Walking over to the plate, he examined the offense. A hot dog had been chewed length-wise beside a half-a bun. A bit of ketchup, strangely not a blob, but with a portion wiped clean. Apple pieces broken in the center. A green mark had been made midway on a glass of milk, with the top of the milk aligned perfectly to the mark.

Joe closed his eyes a moment, trying to contain himself. Don't react, don't react. He thought to himself. She's still hasn't rebalanced hormonally from the postpartum. Life would be easier, maybe, if her balance shifted to the more typical to the depressive state instead of manic.

"So, my love, did you said he couldn't go outside and play until he ate half of what was on his plate."

"I blame you!"

Don't laugh. For the love of God man, don't laugh. Don't even say "But you agreed food was the perfect way to teach children fractions." She will hear it as "I told you so." The couch is not comfortable, far too short and some of the springs are broke from Scott bouncing on it. And don't forget she knows where all the knives in the house are. She just finished polishing them.

Staring at her a moment, considering all of his options, Joe's mind got distracted. She was beautiful. How did he end up with someone this special? Clever, brilliant, utterly gorgeous, driven. Shaking himself mentally from the fatigue of work and wonder of his wife, Joe returned to the temporary minefield of his house. "I'm sorry, my love. Truly. Could I help make it better by finishing the dishes before we eat?" And saving what is left of the non-stick surfaces, he added internally.

(680 words - first publication 2/28/2016)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Blog: Urban Fantasy

Image acquired from OrbitBooks - Link to original here

Bonus blog today. I figured since I waxed poetic, or at least ranted and pooled information from a lot of other bloggers and websites, about the uneven treatment of genders within genre, I should touch base on Urban Fantasy. This fantasy sub-genre focuses on fantastical activity (werewolves, psionists, vampires, elves, spellcasters, etc.) in a contemporary setting, usually in a big city like New York. Some sub-sub-genres include Historical Urban Fantasy (Thieftaker Chronicles series by D. B. Jackson starring a wizard set in revolutionary Boston) and Suburban Fantasy (Witch Way to the Mall (an anthology) edited by Esther Friesner). Closely related to Urban Fantasy is Near-Future Sci-Fi, where a story is set in nearly modern times but the fantastical elements have a scientific bent.

I love Urban Fantasy, but have found it to be very gender-divisive. While some series are "generic", for example the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher and Deadly Curiosities series by Gail Z. Martin, most are either clearly "female" or "male" sub-genres. The female subgenre has romance (or at least heavy sex), usually with two love interests, the woman kicks-ass, rarely needs help, and has magical powers of her own. Nearly all males of the story are defined by their relation to the main character, often portrayed sexy but needing the woman through some mystical link. (An example would be the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton.) The male version usually has one female love interest, but the true love is guns and explosives. The stories have lots of violence. The lead character is larger than life, but came from "every-man" beginnings like accounting before magic intrudes on his life. All women are defined in their relationship to the main character, and the first description is not about personal competence but what they look like...how sexy they are. (An example would be the Deacon Chalk Bounty Hunter series by James R, Tuck.)

Both versions have a lot of wish-fulfillment, feature loners, and are unrepentantly sexist. The male version read like old westerns or spy novels and the female versions read like supped-up bodice rippers and, again, traditional spy novels. And everything about them is a guilty pleasure.

Sometimes the authors take the sexism too far. When none of the women in the Male Urban Fantasy have agency (the ability to act on their own) and all exist as sex objects, and the story is basically glorified gun porn, plus the Alpha Male walks over everyone in the story because his mission/opinion is the only one that matters, nothing about the story is likable or identifiable. In the female version of bad Urban Fantasy, when all of the men are weak and let the female treat them like crap, the story is basically self-empowerment of one female who belittles or demeans even her female friends, and magic solves all issues, again the story becomes unreadable.

Am I going to stop reading "female" version Urban Fantasy? Not likely, but then I will also continue to read the "male" version and the "generic" version as well. I enjoy the strong agency of the females in Female Urban Fantasy and the exceptional fight scenes in the Male Urban Fantasy...and the cool magic all around. I do wish more authors could find a way to create a powerful main character without belittling the opposite sex - Ms. Martin and Mr. Butcher in their "generic" versions prove it can be done.

Any comments or thoughts on Urban Fantasy by gender split? Have you noticed the difference? Does it bother you on an emotional or intellectual level? If only one, why do you think it appeals to your emotions/intellect but bothers your emotions/intellect?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Other Cool Blogs: Women in Writing


The back-cover blurb to Margaret St. Clair’s Sign of the Labrys (1963)

As a woman genre writer covering the spectrum from science fiction to mystery, fantasy to (a very little bit of) horror, I have witnessed the different treatment of female and male writers. The covers change if the author is male or female (in 2013 there was a big discussion about Coverflipping - I highly recommend searching on that), major panelists at conventions are skewed to white male, Internet attacks are different - males are attacked for politics and females are attacked for ... well, being female. The list goes on. And if the author is of color, the differences in America are even stronger.

But the fact remains women have been major influences of all forms of genre writing from the start. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is generally considered the first work of science fiction. 


And yet female authors are quietly moved from the sci-fi and fantasy area to the romance area if a bit of romance appears in the story. This happens despite females making up the majority of the national readership; the number of female readership is at least partly because females make up the majority of the population. But if you look at book reviews and national reading lists published by major news outlets, females often don't even appear on the list. Only with the advent of blogs and online resources have book reviews of female authors have come to equal standing of male authors.

For my blog, I have tried to make an effort to cover both male and female authors in blogs, author spotlights, and book reviews. Not the easiest thing in the world. And I admit, I fail horribly at covering different ethnicities.

More on this topic can be found at the following blogs:
Juliet E. McKenna - Feb 15, 2016 - Brief thoughts on women being erased from SFF - again
Juliet E. McKenna - (date unknown) - Equality in SF&F - Collected Writing (this is a Wiki of blogs on the topic)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Writing Exercise: Paragraph Breaks

freedigitalphotos.net
[Exercise #1 - Writing Exercise]

The Power of Paragraph
So few people use the paragraph to their advantage. Yes, writing is about words and grammar and punctuation, but white space has power too.

Write a scene, 100 words or less and use normal paragraph rules. Take the same scene, but change the paragraph breaks to enhance the story.
******
The boy ran until he hit the crossroads. Looking right, he saw Matilda, the most beautiful girl in town. She would be going to the marriage festival in the city soon. He always meant to talk to her, tell her how he felt. But he was behind schedule, like always, and turned left, restarting his run. He never saw her again. (words 61)
*****
The boy ran until he hit the crossroads.

Looking right, he saw Matilda, the most beautiful girl in town. She would be going to the marriage festival in the city soon. He always meant to talk to her, tell her how he felt. But he was behind schedule, like always, and turned left, restarting his run.

He never saw her again.

(first published 01/23/2015; republished new blog format 2/23/2016)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Flash: Smells Like Teen Spirit

Image courtesy of bigjom at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
[Smells Like Teen Spirit - Flash Story]

The stench of sweaty male nearly overpowered the potpie cooking in the oven when LaVarr and Alijah started opening cupboards to set the table for dinner.

“Hold on a moment.” Melissa leaned over and did a quick sniff on both her boys. “LaVarr, figure out if it is you or your clothes and get whichever it is clean before we sit down.”

Looking smug, the younger brother declared, “Told you, you stink.”

LaVarr made to shove his brother but saw his mother cross her arms, so he just glowered instead. As a teenager, he was great at glowering and stomping; he proved the second by stomping to the shared bedroom.

Pulling out the juice and salad dressings, Melissa mentioned to her youngest. “You may want to figure out a better way to word things if you actually are trying to help.”

“But he does smell. How else can you say that?” He asked placing the glasses around their small kitchen table.

Melissa thought about it a moment before shrugging. “Better somehow.” She started speaking louder as the shower turned on elsewhere in their apartment. “Sometimes pointing out the consequences works.”

“Like what?”

“Like learning about mythology can help you write better video games. Carrot works better than a stick.”

Alijah nodded, clearly remembering the argument his mom had presented last week when he tried to blow off an English paper, “Okay. Yeah. So telling LaVarr if he wants to date Sherra, he needs to look sharp.”

“That might work.” Melissa agreed.

Since her declaration in September the boys were in charge of cleaning their own room, Alijah and LaVarr had been going head-to-head a bit more. Alijah was a neat freak, and LaVarr, to put it mildly, was not. Alijah learned to do laundry and took over that chore from her by Halloween; he liked getting clean sheets twice a week, as opposed to her once every other week schedule, and thought it stupid to do less than a full load. The school lessons on recycling and saving energy found a convert in him.

But as successful as the new situation was with Alijah, after a month of picking up after his brother, a family meeting was necessary which resulted in a line of electrical tape down the center of the boys' bedroom. Since the clear demarcation of territory, she wasn't sure if any of LaVarr's clothes had been washed. She had hoped he would have a sharper learning curve, but since turning fifteen his ability to be reasoned with seemed to have entirely disappeared.

LaVarr rejoined them in an entirely new outfit, one of the ones he never wears because it was beyond uncool, likely the only clean one in his closet that fit since his last growth spurt. He also had shaved the curly wisps from his chin. He glowered at them eating before dumping the rest of the salad on his plate, pouring on croutons and dressing, then stabbing into the tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and lettuce like serial killer.

“So since neither of you have sports tomorrow, Grandma Clark offered to pick you guys up from school.” Melissa inserted the words into the heavy atmosphere her oldest had brought to the table. “She and PopPop are thinking about taking you to that new cartoon you have been wanting to see.”

Alijah rolled his eyes before loading a second serving of potpie on his plate. “It's anime mom. Hayao Miyazaki is a wizard. You really need to see some of his stuff.”

“Sorry, but I got to work late.” Melissa pushed the last of her peas onto her fork. “Afterwards, they will be coming back here so we are going to do some house cleaning tonight.”

“Is Dad going to come?”

LaVarr growled at his brother. “Of course Dad isn't fucking going to come.”

“Watch your mouth LaVarr! I can have them leave you with the after-school program tomorrow.”

His mouth formed a grim line as he gritted out, “Sorry, mom.” Reaching across the table he grabbed the main dish, scouped out a double-sized serving, and started plowing his way through that. He clearly wanted to storm off, but the food was here and he was fifteen.

“Alijah, Grandma Clark had not mentioned anything about your father being there.”

Their father had managed to shirk his child support for the past six years, but just because their son ended up being a jerk, Melissa saw no reason to cut her children off from the Clarks. She had half grown up in their house and still loved and got along with everyone on that side of the family, aunts, uncles, and even second cousins met at the summer family reunions, everyone except for her ex-husband, whom had taken to dodging his entire clan because everyone was on her side.

“Oh, okay. Just wondering.” Her more sensitive son slouched in his chair.

“Well, I am done. Shall you and I start on the laundry? You were wanting to know how to do ironing.” Melissa took her plate over to the dishwasher.

Alijah shoved in the last three bites before bounding over with his dishes. Talking around his full mouth, he said. “Sure do, the orchestra tuxedo shirts look crummy unless ironed.” Glancing at his brother, he added, “Can't get the girls looking crummy.”

“Like you get girls in orchestra,” his brother sneered.

“Sure can, over half the orchestra is girls.”

“Nerd girls.”

Alijah smiled wide. “Yep, nerd girls who like video games.”

“Anyone in particular you might like to ask to go to the movies with you tomorrow?” Melissa asked.

Alijah's face lit up as they walked to the laundry alcove in the hallway. LaVarr would have gagged at the thought of having his grandparents be chaperons, but for Alijah getting to take a girl out would be a first. “Elaina, she plays in the violins, and loves sci-fi. We were discussing the mythology of Star Wars in class.”

“Do you know her phone number?” Melissa pulled down the ironing board and plugged in the iron.

“We are in the net-group for English, so I think I can get her.” Alijah frowned, considering.

Melissa nodded, “So it is possible to ask her and her parents tonight. Why don't you call Grandma Clark while the iron heats up to see if she is willing to take on another passenger?”

(words 1,058 - first publication 2/21/2016)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Other Cool Blogs: Magic Words February 18, 2016

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This week's other cool blogs postings from Magical Words returns to the incredible Tamsin Silver. (see other blog from her I commented on HERE)

This weeks blog is Hump-Day Help: Refill/Restore/Replenish. 

Very timely for me in the middle of tax season. I get an hour ... yes one hour ... of personal computer time per day right now. The other waking hours are one hour to get ready for work and the hour once home to pack for the next days work (lunch, layout clothes, shower, and the like) and an hour to wind down - not on the computer because that will not wind me down. On the weekends I get an extra hour each day, one for groceries and one for clothes. That is pretty much my life right now outside of work. Yes, I am working seven days a week and have been since January second.

Oh, and that one hour of computer time is devoted to keeping this blog running, keeping in touch with friends, dealing with bills, and the myriad of other obligations.

Any of it writing or creativity? Not really. And I am tired. Core-center through-and-through tired.

Ms. Silver hits it spot on. Take care of yourselves. It is necessary - as a writer, as an artist, as a human. Read the Magical Words blog - again the link is here. And go rest, refill, restore and replenish.

(And to all of you out there holding down two jobs AND raising kids - you people are amazing!)

WRITER'S & READING EXERCISE: Do one creative thing. Something that makes you smile with accomplishment once you are done.

(Addition from 2/25/2015 - Ms. Liana Brooks has an excellent addition to this discussion at http://lianabrooks.blogspot.com/2016/02/maslow-vs-deadline.html
I love Maslow's pyramid of needs and this makes sooo much sense for writer's block.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Author Spotlight: J. Matthew Saunders

Book Cover from Amazon

Author J. Matthew Saunders first full-length novel "Daughters of Shadow & Blood - Book I: Yasamin" is a delight of wordsmithing. Images of the Prologue alone are worth the price of admission to this book; Darin Kennedy of the Mussorgsky Riddle correctly describes as "Dracula meets The DaVinci Code, a contemporary thriller masterfully interwoven with historical dark fantasy." 

The weaving of four different main timelines and locations, plus a few side trips, produces a spell-binding story. Book 1: Yasamin captures the horrific beauty of the first bride of Dracula

J. Matthew Saunders lives in the greater Charlotte NC area and has published numerous published fantasy and horror short stories. He has degrees in history, journalism and law - and like most lawyers, in very elegant with his words. He is an unapologetic European history geek, which is woven throughout his first novel.

His author blog can be found at Write Wrote Written and centers on his passion of history and monsters. He put together a cool soundtrack of music related to Yasamin - link here. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Flash: The Amores

(Original picture no longer available as the blog it came from is no longer online)

Arms, warfare, violence – I was winding up to produce a
          Regular epic, with verse-form to match –
Hexameter, naturally. But Cupid (they say) with a snicker
          Lopped off one foot from each alternate line.
“Nasty young brat,” I told him, “whom made you Inspector of Metres?
          We poets come under the Muses, …. – Ovid (translated by Peter Green)

****

“we’re not your mob ...” The young beatnik continued urgently, never grokking when The Amores switched from high poetry to erotic love imagery.

Theodore looked at Nika. The young-looking brunette had put her hand over her mouth when the pretender had stepped up to the mike. A regular like themselves, they knew the boy never wrote his own poetry, and barely understood anyone else’s. Nika’s hand was now sideways so she could bite the fleshy part to keep from laughing. Or moaning in pain.

It would be rude to laugh. Moaning in pain would be worse.
“you can’t keep your arrows idle – They’re so hot.” Emotive angry rage shot the lines into the crowd.

Coffee snorted out of Theo’s nose. Wiping his greying beard with a napkin, he hid his moving lips behind the cloth. “Can it get any worse?”

Nika left off from gnawing her hand. “I’m waiting for ‘I’m no sexual circus rider’.”

“Zeus and Mercury, that is part of the first poem, isn’t it?”

A giggle-moan of confirmation escaped Nika as she went back to biting her olive-skinned hand.

Eventually the torture, or comedy routine, depending on one’s love of poetry and toleration of youth, came to an end.

Theodore had gone earlier in the evening with one of his limericks. The earnest creative writing crew from the local college never knew how to deal with them. The short poems were always clever, requiring a deeper understanding of English which the children treasured. But the rhymes, however good they were, were still limericks, an affront to their lofty art. Since he was a best-selling author who often spoke on campus, they silently drank their coffee and clapped politely when their professor nodded permission.

The two stayed through last call at the coffee house and the final poem. Two poets continued to show promise, one from the college who somehow was not being stifled by the esteemed professor, and a high schooler who was out way too late on a school night.

Poetry readings were Tuesday. The coffee house had various musicians come in over the weekend. The guitarist on Sunday was the best of that mediocre lot. Nika didn’t have a vested interest in them, so they rarely attended the performances.

Tossing a fifty onto the table to cover drinks and an inflated tip for the hard working waitress who would get nothing from the students, the two left.

“I think I should underwrite a book for Sindee and one for Hampus too.” Theodore commented as they walked hand-in-hand through the quiet parking lot to their truck.

Nika considered, her wide hips swaying to brush Theodore’s long legs. They had the money to spare. “Hampus, definitely, needs to be removed from the cutting machine before his creativity is crushed. … Sindee, hmmm, she’s local. I may be able to inspire her directly.”

Startled, Theo pointed out. “She is still a little young for that in this culture.”

“It’s no always about sex. … Although the child is a dark desire to drink.”

Theo leaned against his truck. He ran a finger across his lover’s lips.

Nika opened her mouth to let the finger enter. Closing her plump lips, she swirled her tongue around the finger. Theo slowly slipped the finger out, hissing as Nika lightly closed her teeth around the end just before he pulled out completely.

Groaning, Theo slipped his hands into the back pockets of Nika’s jeans and grounded his arousal into his personal inspiration. “But it is about sex between us at least, my love.”

“Always, my favorite wordshaper.”

Theodore drowned Nika in a kiss, before the female pulled away to whisper the closing lines of The Amores, Book 1 properly. Theodore knew it was coming. The Muse had to heal the affront to the poem she had nurtured in Ovid.

“ergo etiam cum me supremus adederit ignis, vivam, parsque mei multa superstes erig.” The words steamed between them, promising Theo an immortality unique among the mortals the Muses chose.

“So when the final flames have devoured my body, I shall survive, and my better part live on.”

(words 742 - Published as part of the Breathless Press Sunday Fun and on my blog on 9/1
7/2013; Republished 2/14/2016)

Passages of The Amores, Book 1 come from Ovid,the Erotic Poems: The Amores, The Art of Love, Cures for Love, On FacialTreatment for Ladies, translated with an introduction and notes by Peter Green. Published by Penguin Books in 1982. A copy can be purchased at Amazon, but clicking on book description.

Latin version from http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/ovid/ovid.amor1.shtml.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Other Cool Blogs: Pictures



Image acquired without permission from (multiple) Facebook postings
(but does have themetapicture.com in the image)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Editing Rant: Beginnings

Image acquired without permission from Castlegate Press 2014 posting

The image above is from a post by Suzanne Hartmann, one of the co-founders of Castlegate Press, for a July 6, 2014 posting entitiled "Where Does the Story Start?".

Starting a Story

One of the toughest parts of writing is figuring where your story starts. When initially writing, just write it out because often you don't know where the story will start until you know where it ends and what happens inbetween.

Then come back to the beginning. The common agreement in 2016 is the story should start when the main character's life begins to change. That rarely is when they are waking up or walking through a door - usually it is something like
"The front door no longer had a doornob." ...

Some famous opening lines include:

Lord of the Rings "When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton."

Pride and Prejudice "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

The Stranger " Mother died today."

Metamorphosis "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."


***

So a romance book I was editing started with three pages of exposition, describing the hero of the romance (the Point-of-View (POV)/narrator) leaving home, finding an apartment, finding a roomie, job hunting, and interviewing. Eventually we reach the point of the hero meeting his two possible love interests on a bus.

While his life was undergoing massive changes from the moment he left home until he got on the bus and met the love interests, none of that had anything to do with the plot. It was background. The job hunting, which took an entire page, ended with "I sat down, and he hired me." (Actually it was "I sat down, and hired me" ... but that is a different editing rant entirely.) The job is never mentioned again. The roomie is mentioned once, as a ride to the party and could have easily been included at the time of getting the ride. In fact two pages are dedicated to it when the ride is given because the roomie took his time getting ready. The parents are never mentioned except to leave home.

Half of the first chapter, close to 2,000 words, needed to be chopped. Nothing in those pages had ANY impact on the plot, romance, or character development. Maybe the job interview could have shown something about the hero's character, but it was only "I sat down, and he hired me." after the page of dead-end job hunting. At only 20,000 words this chop was a huge hit to the manuscript. (The first 10% of the length - this percentage is important so keep it in mind as we continue.)

And the manuscript should have never gotten to me in that form. One of content editing's job is to define where the story starts, not line editing. All of that should have been decided long before it hit my desk. I should note this book was PREVIOUSLY self-published and I was reading it in relation to a reprint. So this story was already out there in the sales world and the author was wondering why he was getting no sales when he contacted me.

The reason? The romance story did not start with the romance, but a long backstory reading like a coming-of-age story - readers reviewing the 10% sample on Amazon received a false impression. Chuck the first part of the manuscript and have the beginning of the romance at the beginning of the story and suddenly readers know they have an interesting story with two possible love interests. Who is our hero going to end up with and is the romance going to break the friendship between the women? Much more interesting than a dead-end apartment with a dead-end job after leaving home and taking a couple of classes at the community college to get ahead.

Remember the start of the story is what most readers are seeing when trying to decide to put out their hard-earned money. Start the story when life gets interesting for the character.

A couple genre examples: For quest fantasy, start with why the character is willing to go on a quest. For military sci-fi, why the character is going to join the military. What had made the character's life go off the rails so they are open to change?

Well, that is the editing rant about beginnings.

WRITING EXERCISE: For your WIP, review and see if the book would feel different if you add another chapter in front adding the day before to your story - then see what would happen if you just eliminate the first chapter. How would these changes impact your story?

READING EXERCISE: Have you ever read a book which seemed to start in the wrong place and you felt the first chapter or two were fillers? How about a book where you struggled through the first chapter not sure what is happening because not enough information was given i.e. the story started too late and you didn't get time to be introduced to the changes?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Flash: Provisionally


freedigitalphotos.net
[Provisionally – flash story]

“Honey, why are you home so early?” the words drifted through the house. The stairs creaked as she went upstairs. Opening a door, Cheryl stopped midway through having discovered Joe on the bed.

His upper torso was bare, and the lower half of his body neatly covered by a folded and tucked blanket. His arms were stretched above him. Scattered around him was rose petals.

“What on earth are you doing?” she asked.

“Apologizing” said the contrite man. Cheryl’s lips twitched.

“Really?” She dropped her purse on the dresser. “Having sex seems to be more a reward to you, not an apology to me.”

“You say I never let you have control.” He rattled the handcuffs attached to the scroll metal headboard. “You have it.”

“Oh, my.” She couldn’t keep a grin from spreading across her face. She was quite cross with him, but the combination of romance and humor was chipping away at the peeve. “And just where is the key?”

He nodded to the nightstand, out of his reach. Beside the key was a sweating bottle of champagne, carefully placed on a doily. Points for finding the doilies.

“So you can’t escape without my help.” A teasing warmth edged into her voice.

Fright flickered in his eyes a second. “Yes dear. …. I totally have trust in you.”

She started unbuttoning her shirt. “And you can’t get out of that bed at all.”

“No, you will have to do everything.” Joe’s eyes watched hungrily as Cheryl shimmied out of her slacks and department store underwear.

She climbed on the bed in a kneeling position and slowly knee-walked up his body, taking a little extra time to drag her clit over the tenting blanket. Settling herself over his penis, she reached behind her back and released her bra. Cheryl fell forward to land on her hands, with a nipple hovering inches away from Joe’s mouth. “Oh, I don’t plan to do much. You haven’t properly sucked my breasts since we started having sex. Start making up for lost time.”

Joe moved his head up and his tongue flicked over tip before him. The stimulus made her moan and lean further forward – placing the entire nipple within reach. He inhaled, drawing the areola fully into his mouth. He suckled and swirled his tongue around the sensitive area. Her hips started shifting back and forth, trying to get her pussy closer to his hardening cock.

Suddenly she reared back and panted a couple of seconds. His eyes watched her as she got herself under control. Joe bucked a couple of time to indicate what he would like to do next.

A self-assured smile took over the woman’s face as she ground down until the man stopped moving. “Other side.” She directed as she fell forward again, her generous right breast falling within reach.

He licked and suckled. Releasing the nipple, he blew cool air across the flesh then drew the tit back in. Back and forth between the two breasts he went, while the blanket separating the nether parts dampened with her arousal. Her grinding hips eventually moved the cloth below his cock.

“What the?” she asked looking down. A necklace had been draped loosely around his penis - now not as loose as when originally placed there. She wiggled down to rest her ass his knees to get a better look.

After rediscovering multi-syllable words, Joe explained “Your present. Thought you would unwrap it sooner.”

She unwound the gold chain until the butterfly charm made of gemstones rested in her palm. “It’s beautiful.”

She lifted her arms to hook the necklace behind her nape, displaying her aroused breasts proudly. Rubbing her weeping slit up his leg, she crawled until she was face to face with Joe. The necklace brushed his chin. Staring into his eyes, she reached behind, grabbing his dick, and slowly back down again until he was lodged within her channel. She pushed herself up; her slickness sliding her completely down so her asscheeks rested on his balls. Cheryl then raised herself up on her knees and lowered herself again.

Again and again, until her entire body was jiggling. A scream escaped Cheryl and she collapsed onto Joe’s chest. The random squeezes of her vagina kept Joe hard, but didn’t push him over the edge as Cheryl’s breathing returned to normal. Rolling over to one side, Cheryl’s hand started drifting over Joe’s chest and abs.

“So, presents, flowers, champagne and sex. When’s dinner?”

“Reservations at Andina’s tomorrow. Sorry but my mom couldn’t take the kids tonight.” Joe looked hopeful. “So I am forgiven for forgetting our anniversary was Tuesday?”

Turning to get the key from the nightstand, Cheryl answered “Provisionally.” She unlocked the handcuffs, but immediately closed them around his left wrist and the headboard again, leaving only his right hand free. “Let’s see how tomorrow goes.”

She put the key back in its place. “In the meantime, you need to kiss my ass some more.” Presenting the ass she wanted to be kissed. The maneuver crushed some of the rose petals, releasing a light perfume.

(words 848 - first publication 12/19/2012; republished in new format on 2/7/2016)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Other Cool Blogs: Magical Words January 26, 2016

This week's "other cool blogs" is another Magical Words author. You may know him as D.B. Jackson of the Thieftaker series (historical urban fantasy) or as David B. Coe  of Blood of the Southlands series. Either way the man writes some pretty amazing stuff, all character driven. And he obsesses about POV. Stories are viewed by the reader from the narrator's Point of View (POV); usually the POV character is the hero or heroine of the book in genre fiction.

The January 26, 2016 blog, The Power of Secrets, is about ... secrets (shhhh). Read the blog - link here: http://www.magicalwords.net/david-b-coe/quick-tip-tuesday-the-power-of-secrets/ 

WRITING EXERCISE: Create a secret for your present WIP.

For Honestly, Troy, the hero, has a lot of secrets. Some get revealed in the story, some get only partially revealed, and some never are shown but are driving him.

The most obvious of the revealed secrets is his amputee. Initially he hides everything under clothes and mannerisms. As he gets to know Kassandra, he shows more and more of this weakness.

The partially revealed secret is his present government work. He does translations. But for whom and why? ... and what is he translating?

A secret I never shared with the reader since the POV character, Kassandra, did not learn about it during the story is how Troy's mother died. Yet the secret drove him to quit school and join the military and even now drives several of his decisions. The reason he won't let the pain control him lies with what happened to his mother.

YOUR TURN
If you are a writer, what secret does your characters have and how does it shape them? Are you going to reveal this to your audience or keep it a secret.

If you are a reader, what is a secret in a recent story you read? How did it drive the plot?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Book Review: The Mussorgsky Riddle

Book Cover from Amazon

BOOK BLURB ON AMAZON

The Mussorgsky Riddle by Darin Kennedy

Psychic Mira Tejedor possesses unique talents that enable her to find anything and anyone, but now she must find a comatose boy wandering lost inside the labyrinth of his own mind. Thirteen-year-old Anthony Faircloth hasn’t spoken a word in almost a month and with each passing day, his near catatonic state worsens. No doctor, test, or scan can tell Anthony’s distraught mother what has happened to her already troubled son. In desperation, she turns to Mira for answers, hoping her unique abilities might succeed where science has failed. 

At their first encounter, Mira is pulled into Anthony’s mind and finds the child’s psyche shattered into the various movements of Modest Mussorgsky’s classical music suite, Pictures at an Exhibition. As she navigates this magical dreamscape drawn from Anthony’s twin loves of Russian composers and classical mythology, Mira must contend with gnomes, troubadours, and witches in her search for the truth behind Anthony’s mysterious malady. 

The real world, however, holds its own dangers. The onset of Anthony’s condition coincides with the disappearance of his older brother’s girlfriend, a missing persons case that threatens to tear the city apart. Mira discovers that in order to save Anthony, she will have to catch a murderer who will stop at nothing to keep the secrets contained in Anthony’s unique mind from ever seeing the light.


MY REVIEW
I am a worldbuilding whore. I want a world as layered as an orchestral movement, as nuanced as a master painting, one that twists and turns and takes you away from the here and now to another world. One you can touch, hear, smell, feel. The Mussorgsky Riddle is one of these books.

Falling into the imprecise category of Urban Fantasy or maybe Paranormal Suspense, the story follows a psychic as she journeys through the mind of a boy trying to find the identity of a killer. But is so much more than that. 
The complicated parallel Mr. Kennedy made between Pictures at an Exhibition, both the music and the original inspiring paintings is amazing. And this was just his Debut Novel; if his next is half as good, he has a reader for life.

He is presently in edits of the second book, this one centered around a ballet.