Writers Never Say Die

"Write without pay until somebody offers to pay you. If nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for." -Mark Twain. 

I'd like you to re-read that quote. Back? Okay. Now tell me if it pisses you off or not.

No? Then you're a traditionally published author, a hybrid author, a successful self-published author, or ultimately contented with your work and don't care whether you're paid or not for the words you put down.

If it does upset you, you haven't made much money from your writing, you've queried agents until your fingers bled, or you're like me who thinks Mr. Samuel Clemens was either being facetious, or truly believed that's what an author should do.

Either way I think the quote is a load of complete horse shit.

How many great authors would we have if the writing world was some sort of dystopian society and after three years of toiling in the word mines a person was required to hang up their shovel and go sell Orange Julius. FOREVER.

Orange Julius is pretty good...

But still! How many fantastic books would we miss out on if a person limited themselves to a timeframe for success? Becoming a successful author is not a four-year graduate degree. There is no guarantee that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. There is no healthcare. There is no retirement plan. No promise of anything that will come to you.

You know what else there isn't?

There's no pedigree.

No writer, NONE, has sat down and created a masterpiece without toiling away, without chipping out the words that sometimes are moored in the subconscious marble. No writer opens a vein and bleeds a great novel onto the page without looking where the hell they're going.

Guess what writing is?

It's renewable wonder. It's perspective. It's magic and joy and torment and horror and love and pain and driving without headlights down a highway studded with hazards and pitfalls.

And you know what else it is?

It's sawing wood.

Everyday you sit down and type or scribble with a pen or pencil and you put the words down. If you really love it you put the words down and know someday, someone will appreciate what you've written. You read, you learn, you strive to be better because no one is ever as good as they can be, they always have the potential to be better.

There is no 'given' in writing. There is no sky for a limit. There is only the words to create and string together into a chain that leads you somewhere. If you're an author you might write a year before getting paid for your work, you might write a decade.

But if you're truly in love with the written word, with being a storyteller- if you are a writer in the very catacombs of your heart, you don't follow another's roadmap for your career.

You fucking draw your own.

And you never say die.

Read More

Dream Come True

So this is the year for really cool things to happen to me!

On top of Thomas & Mercer picking up my thriller, The River Is Dark, I'm now allowed to tell you guys about a blurb it just got from one of my most favorite authors of all time. The one and only, Blake Crouch!

Here's what Blake had to say about River:

“Hart approaches every sentence with a precision and care that armors the entire piece with a welcome sturdiness. More than anyone else, Hart’s delicate touch with landscape and character reminds me of the great James Lee Burke...If you love stories that get your pulse racing and dump adrenaline into your bloodstream, there is so much to love within these pages.” —Blake Crouch, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Wayward Pines Trilogy

Holy God, I'm just going to sit here for a minute if that's okay with you? 

Okay, I'm back. If you're an author and have received kind words from one of your literary heroes about something you've written, then you know the kind of elation I'm feeling right now. 

I've been reading Blake's work for years now and have always admired his style, the blistering pace of his stories, and his incredible imagination. The first book I read by him was his thriller RUN. If you guys haven't read it, quit reading this and go buy it, I'll wait. 

Okay, back? Good. Also his Wayward Pines series is by far the most exciting and viscerally written trilogy I've ever read, you should really check it out if you haven't done so already. 

So there it is. Unbelievably happy right now and can't wait for River to be re-released. Thanks goes out to Blake for taking the time from his busy schedule to read the book and to Jacque at Thomas & Mercer for putting it on his radar, appreciate both of you very much!    

Meet My Character Blog Tour

So the very talented Steven Montano tagged me for a blog tour. Normally I don't do these but since Steven's an awesome guy and a great writer, I thought I'd make an exception. Go check out Steven's work here.

So without further ado, let's get to it!

1) What is the name of your character, is he/she a historical or fictional person?

My character's name is MacArthur Gray from my newest novel, Widow Town. He is fictional.

2) When and where is the story set?

The when is 100 years in the future. The where is southern Minnesota. The easiest way to give everyone the rundown would be to post the synopsis:

In the future there is no such thing as a serial killer. 

A breakthrough research project has detected an active gene present in all known psychopaths and developed a vaccine to make it completely dormant. People are inoculated at birth. Society has rejoiced the extinction of the sociopathic mind. 

There hasn't been a serial killing in America in over forty years.

Sheriff MacArthur Gray resides in the future but lives in the past. His world views have chased him from a large metropolis to his home town, but there is no sanctuary to be found after he arrives. 

Because people are dying and only he can see the truth. 

A sociopath has somehow survived and is thriving in the new world. Soon Gray is thrust into a nightmarish race against the killer where no one is safe, and everyone is a suspect. 

3) What should we know about him/her?

Gray is a complex character because he's so guarded. He's suffered a major personal loss and has a view of the world that isn't widely accepted. He's tough as nails but has a soft side for those less fortunate.

4) What is the main conflict, what messes up his/her life?

Gray is the sheriff of his hometown. He's not convinced that the vaccine that ensures against serial killers is foolproof, especially when people begin to die in his county. Besides a well meaning, but rookie deputy, he has no allies in his quest to prove the impossible.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

Gray wants his life back in order, but he also wants the truth, and he has a very hard time gaining both. His theory about the vaccine not working is not well received and his central purpose is to stop those responsible, but to do that he's got to convince others of the extraordinary.

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and where can we read more about it?

The novel is Widow Town, and you can find out more information or purchase it here.

Thanks Steven for tagging me! And now I'm happy to pass the tour on to a great author by the name of Dylan Morgan, who writes excellent dark novels and short stories. He happens to have a new novel coming out tomorrow, August 1st. It's called The Dead Lands, and I had the honor of reading an advance copy a short time ago. This book is a fantastic journey through a post apocalyptic wasteland filled with so much danger and horror, you'll be frightened to turn the page to see what happens next! When it is released, don't hesitate to pick up a copy.

DarkFuse Publication

I'm totally thrilled to announce that DarkFuse will be publishing Leave The Living, a novella I wrote earlier this year!

I've been admiring DarkFuse and their excellent offerings for quite some time now and when I wrote Leave The Living, I thought that they would be a perfect match for the story. Fortunately they thought so too!

If all goes according to plan, the novella should be out late next summer. In the coming weeks I'll have more info about the release that I'll share with everyone. I'm really excited and can't wait for you all to read it!

Thanks goes out to my family as well as Dave Thomas and Shane Staley at DarkFuse!

Sneak Peek Of Widow Town

My latest novel is coming out next week with a scheduled date of Tuesday the 17th! Really excited about this book since it's very different than anything I've ever written. It's more of straight-up thriller set a hundred years in the future where there is no such thing as a serial killer. I really hope you all will check it out when it's released but for now here's a sample of the first couple chapters. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Widow Town

Text copyright

©

2014 by Joe Hart

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission from the author.

This is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

To Mr. Brown, wherever you are. Thanks for the guidance and inspiration and for believing in me when I was just a kid with ideas. Sorry I didn’t stop to see you that last time. I didn’t know it was the last time.

Chapter 1

A scream woke him, cut off before it could reach its crescendo.

Ryan came to laying on a hardwood floor, tasting blood in his mouth, his blood. He tried to sit up and found he could. He was in a house, a hallway. Its walls were familiar but not home. He blinked and let the memories outside the door of his mind flood inward. A whoop came from nearby and Darrin walked through a doorway to the left carrying his big knife, the one that gleamed even in the dark. Darrin’s dark eyes caught and pinned him to the floor.

“Whatcha doin’ down there little brother?”

“Passed out, I think.”

“You think? I’m pretty sure you did, so’s that cooze you were supposed to be watching when she knocked you over. You cracked your head on the floor.”

Ryan put a hand to the back of his skull, ran his fingers over a growing knob there, a golf ball half buried under his scalp.

“What’d you do to her?” Ryan asked.

Darrin knelt close to him, a reek of cigarettes, sweat, and something else coming off his skin. “What do you think I did, little brother?”

Adam clunked toward them through the hall, his big boots like hammers on the wood floor. A crooked grin hung off the side of his mouth, his right canine peeking out. He held the steel contraption in one hand. Darrin pivoted without standing.

“Done?”

“Done,” Adam said, the smile getting wider.

“You didn’t leave anything?”

“Nope.”

“You’re sure? Because one fucking drop of saliva and you’re going to prison, my friend.”

Adam seemed to consider it, the wheels turning, slow but sure. “Nope.”

“Good.” Darrin turned his attention back to Ryan. “Get up, your mouth’s bleeding.”

Ryan nodded, wiping at his teeth with his jacket sleeve. He pushed himself onto his feet and rubbed the back of his head again, the lump there feeling larger through the gloves he wore.

“We good?” Darrin asked, panning from Adam to Ryan and back again.

“Yep.”

“Yeah,” Ryan answered.

“Then let’s go.”

Outside the frogs harped from a slue somewhere in the dark. A swarm of gnats gathered around them as soon as their feet hit the ground and Ryan only had a moment to look up and see the half moon soaring overhead before he heard Darrin emptying out his little container on the front porch. There was a whoosh of the gas igniting and then orange light bloomed across the house, throwing their shadows into long shapes on the lawn. Ryan glanced at Darrin, his eyes alight with the dancing flames and with some internal burning.

He’s on fire inside

, Ryan thought as Adam walked past him toward the van parked near the edge of the vegetable garden. Darrin followed him and made his eyebrows jump once as he passed Ryan, his eyes dark again.

“We go, little brother, we go.”

They piled into the Ford. Darrin behind the wheel and Ryan in the middle. Adam rolled down his window, the sideways grin back on his face as Darrin rounded the van on the gravel drive, and pulled away from the burning farmhouse.

Chapter 2

“When did they start pissing in the coffee around here?”

MacArthur Gray lowered his own cup, tasting the bitter tang and gave his deputy a look.

“Joseph, how many times are you going to say that?”

“I suppose until they quit doing it over at the diner.”

“I would say that’s an awful rude assumption you’re making.”

“What? That they urinate in the coffee?”

“Yep, I find the flavor to be closer to cigarette butts and toilet bowl cleaner. Piss has a different taste entirely.”

Deputy Ruthers gave the sheriff a glance and burst out laughing, slopping a little coffee onto his pants and the car seat.

“Now damn it, Joseph, look what you’ve done.”

“Sorry, Sheriff, apologies.”

Gray focused on the dirt road and the sun seeming to rise directly from its end. A field to the left rose and fell with head-high cornstalks for acres beyond measure, their green color standing out against everything else dead or dying. Dust plumed behind the cruiser in a cloud, the sky already a mocking blue. No rain in weeks.

“They sure it was a house fire? Could be Jacobs is just burning a brush pile or something?” Ruthers said.

“They didn’t say, but any and all smoke has to be looked into right now, there’s a burning ban and Jacobs knows better than most what a spark could do around here.”

Gray saw Ruthers shoot him a look and then glance back at the road. “What do you really think, Sheriff?”

“I don’t know.”

“What’s your gut tell you?”

“That I didn’t eat enough this morning.”

Gray piloted the cruiser around a sharp bend, a flock of blackbirds bursting from the roadside in a flay of wings and beaded eyes. A finger of smoke rose above the trees to the right and Gray turned the car into the long dirt drive, past a pitted mailbox, the letters worn away to almost nothing. When the house came into view Ruthers inhaled and set his coffee in the center console.

“Well shit,” Gray said.

The front of the Jacobses’ house was a blackened mess. The covered porch was gone and soot ran in vertical streams up the siding. The windows, trimmed with white decorative shutters before, were blackened, their glass shattered or cracked. The shingles were curled up in a greeting and a bit of rubble that might’ve been a glider swing still smoked.

Ruthers started speaking into the radio, calling back to Mary Jo, telling her they would need the fire truck from Wheaton. Gray parked a dozen yards from the smoking structure and stepped out into the morning air that smelled of cooked paint and char.

“Get that hose going off the side of the house there will you, Joseph?”

“Yes sir.”

Gray picked his way toward the front porch, seeing the screen door gone, the brass knob blackened like a nub of coal. With long strides, he made his way around the side of the farmhouse, seeing that the rest of the structure looked untouched by the flames. The buzzing of flies sizzled to his left and he looked at the doghouse near the edge of the woods, the dead dog lying at its entrance. Its throat was slit, a red gap ringed by clotted fur gone from gold to burgundy like a sunset.

Gray drew his weapon.

The Colt 1911 Long Slide came out of the holster in a seamless glide of pitch-black steel. Gray made sure the safety was off before moving around to the back of the house. The backdoor was unlocked and opened without a sound into a small mudroom. Work boots stood in pairs beside brightly colored sandals. A wooden sitting-bench lined one wall and a low freezer stood against the opposite.

Gray waited, listening to the quiet. Except for the hush of Ruthers squirting water against the smoldering front porch, there was nothing. No sounds of life, no dishes banging or footsteps coming to investigate his presence. After another minute Ruthers approached from outside and stepped in behind him.

“Sheriff—”

“Get that fancy pistol out of your holster, Joseph, there’s something wrong here.”

Ruthers struggled with the nylon straps holding his Deacon .7 Striker and finally released it, touching the digital thumbprint reader on its handle twice in quick succession. The weapon issued a short click.

“What is it?”

Gray didn’t answer for a long time, still listening, hoping. “The smell.”

“I don’t smell anything,” Ruthers whispered, his eyes looking past the sheriff’s wide back.

“You will.”

They moved through the house, Ruthers pointing his gun into each doorway as they went, Gray holding his at the floor, his dark eyes watching. The kitchen stood empty, late August sunshine filling the space up with orange light so thick it looked solid. Pans sat on the counter, a layer of grease coating one, another half cleaned in the sink. The faucet dripped once, breaking the silence. Gray walked into the dining room, his boots clicking against the hardwood floor. A vase set with flowers lay on its side on the dinner table. Water pooled on the floor in Rorschach patterns, yellow petals became miniature boats on their surfaces.

The smell got stronger and Gray stopped, glancing to his right at a stairway that ran up into relative darkness. Ahead the front entry and living room were empty, the TV blank except for an elongated reflection of his movement. A white door to the right stood closed, its paint clean and fresh as if applied the day before. A collage of pressed flowers against a blue paper background hung from its middle. Gray moved to the door, his breathing steady, still listening, waiting. He gripped the doorknob, pointing the long barreled Colt straight up. Ruthers moved in to his other side, the Deacon at shoulder level, its barrel flashing a small red light every three seconds. Gray nodded once and waited until Ruthers returned the signal. Gray flung the door open, readjusting his position, bending his knees, his finger tightening on the trigger.

The smell was awful and only the sight was worse.

“My God in heaven,” Ruthers managed before he covered his mouth with one hand and stepped back. Gray stood in the doorway looking into the pink-walled bedroom and finally dropped his gaze to the splattered floor before closing his eyes to a sight he knew he’d never forget. 

Godzilla Review

So there's no words to tell you how much I was looking forward to see this movie. I watched the trailer fifty times over the last few months. I read updates on the film. I read early reviews (without spoilers) and tried not to hold my hopes too high.

But after seeing it last night I have to say the movie is...off.

I'll try to do a spoiler free portion here articulating the elements of the film and then below I'll do a more in depth pro and con list that will contain spoilers.

The film's overall sense was one that didn't hold true with traditional giant monster movies. I liked the director's other monster movie- Monsters- since it held overtones of menace for the main characters. Super 8 had a scary, coming-of-age sense that spoke to my early self in the idea of discovering something truly terrifying that grownups were either unaware of or turning a blind eye to. One of my favorite monster movies in recent years would have to be Cloverfield. Since the creature in that movie is so utterly alien and threatening, it was not only shocking to behold, but also horrifying.

Godzilla did not bring this sort of dread or similar awe that I was expecting. The monsters were cool, very cool in fact. The acting was good for the most part. But I think what held me back was the story itself got lost in the tale not knowing what it wanted to be. Is the movie a monster film? A disaster flick? A familial bond tale? A metaphor for our arrogance as humankind and our affect on the environment?

I think it tried to be all of these and fell short in each of them. There was too much emphasis put on the human side of things and not enough on the monsters themselves. Which is THE reason everyone will be going to see Godzilla in the coming weeks.

Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the movie and will definitely see it again but there were not enough awe inspiring scenes to bring the film up to the expectations brought about by the excellent trailers. I would encourage everyone to go see it and decide whether or not they enjoy it for themselves but for me it fell a bit short.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

Now a quick pro and con list that sums up how I felt.

Pros:

  • Acting- All of the cast did okay but Bryan Cranston was by far the most talented. 
  • CGI- Excellent and in some places pure brilliant. 
  • Setting- All of the settings were very well done, great color and backdrop, especially the train scene.
  • Godzilla's presence- When he's there, he's really there. The fire breathing was epic and the final fight scene was excellent.  

Cons:

  • Bryan Cranston dies within a few scenes of him being reintroduced to the current story. Extremely important character who fades away before being fully realized. I think this is the biggest mistake the movie made. Cranston could have added so much more to the plot and balanced the sullen and almost annoying, downtrodden Ken Watanabe. Not hacking on Watanabe, he's an excellent actor and played his part very well, though his emotions were too muted to really call him a character. Like I said in the pros, the acting was okay but everyone seemed to be going through the motions. Not a character driven story really at all, which is what I think the director was going for. 
  • Story problems- The children in the bus trapped on the bridge. Why in the world would there be police blockading the evacuation route out of the city? Very off-putting and not an effective tension device. Elizabeth Olsen's character puts her son on a bus but stays behind because her husband says he's coming for her. The definition of a strong character is someone who makes their own decisions. She should have went with her son and tried to escape the city or at least sheltered somewhere relatively safe with him. Instead they split up and she remains in the beast's path. Very weak character, could've been much stronger. And lastly, why wasn't the city evacuated as soon as the military was sure where the monsters would converge? 
  • Monster fights- I'm all for delaying the appearance of the creatures to build tension, but after they're revealed and their first two clashes are cut off in mid-scene, I became angry. I was ready to hate the movie but the final fights between Godzilla and the Mutos redeemed it. 

Overall, go see the movie and form your own opinions. I'll be watching it again to see if I can glean a bit more appreciation for it but as of right now I'm a little disappointed in what could've been an epic film.  

    Officially A Hybrid Author

    I'm ecstatic. 

    I've been sitting on this news for a while but got the go ahead yesterday to make the announcement. 
    My thriller, The River Is Dark, has been acquired by Amazon's mystery and thriller imprint, Thomas & Mercer, to be republished this fall! 
    I can't say how happy this makes me! Thomas & Mercer was my absolute first choice for a publisher to work with and it was a dream come true when I received an email from the wonderful Kjersti Egerdahl who reached out to me about River. She was really taken with the book and asked me if I was interested in forming a partnership with Thomas & Mercer. 
    That was when I basically did a happy dance. For a long time.  
    I love self-publishing, I really do. It offers so many opportunities and freedoms, one of which is that I was able to become a full-time writer in the first place. But being traditionally published has a ton of benefits also such as a broader reach for readers and being able to work with many other talented people in the publishing industry. Having options is what this business is all about and being able to self-publish along with partnering with a publishing house is a fantastic way to go. 
    This is a whole new world for me as an author and I'm learning as I go. Kjersti has been excellent to work with and extremely accommodating, and I know River is in great hands going forward with all the outstanding people at Thomas & Mercer.
    All in all I'm simply thrilled. Getting a publishing contract has been a goal for me for some time and now that it's here I'd like to thank several people who helped me along the way: 
    Thanks to my beautiful wife who never gives up on me and always has a kind word, I appreciate you more than you know. Thanks to Kealan Patrick Burke who is not only an extremely gifted author but also the absolute best cover designer in the business as far as I'm concerned. Thanks to Neal Hock, my editor. I appreciate your insight and skill that has helped me up my game. To Griffin Hayes, Craig McGray, Dylan Morgan, Julie Hutchings, and Keith C. Blackmore who are some of my favorite people on Twitter. You guys make me laugh, inspire, and drive me to become better, thank you. Thanks to Kjersti Egerdahl for making this all happen. Thanks to all the readers who make my day with feedback and reviews, you guys rock! Thanks to all my friends and family who have supported and encouraged me throughout the years. 
    Without the people around me, I wouldn't be where I am today. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.      
    Now, more happy dance! Whee! 
      

    How Important Are Your Dreams?

    So I caught myself daydreaming the other day while I should've been editing a recent novella I wrote. I was pacing around the house thinking of ideas for an upcoming novel, how the scenes would play out, what the main character would have to endure, and how readers might react. Then I went on to think about how my novella might be received. Of course as writers we all hope that our work will be applauded and widely read but our doubts about our own abilities and imaginations keep us in check.

    As I realized I wasn't working I chided myself and went back to the computer to sit down, but then realized I was being a bit harsh. I was stifling my daydreaming because of a self-imposed deadline. Normally I'd applaud myself for staying on task but this time I stopped and allowed myself to continue daydreaming because I realized that if you focus your dreams they become something else.

    Visualization.

    Visualization becomes planning. Planning gives birth to doing. Doing results in progress. Progress breeds momentum. Momentum feeds into accomplishments.

    Accomplishments become realized dreams.

    So the next time you find yourself daydreaming about something, don't cut yourself short. Allow your mind to wander. Visualize yourself receiving an award, getting that publishing contract, or simply finding readers that love your work.

    Then connect the dots. With a little luck and persistence your daydreams will become your reality.

    The endgame always starts somewhere.

    Don't forget to see the forest beyond the trees.

    The Face Of A Hero

    What does your main character look like?

    Is she tall? Does she have dark hair? Is he ugly beyond belief or does he turn heads when he enters a room? Is she a child no older than 10?

    In the end, it doesn't truly matter. Your character's physical traits can have an impact on how the reader interprets or reacts to your MC, but all in all it's really what's inside that counts.

    I know, I know, that's really lame but hear me out.

    I'll try to break down what a great MC has that makes him memorable and someone the reader can cheer on. In short, what does it take to make your MC a hero? Not necessarily in the traditional sense of the word, but in the overall feeling that your character exudes. We all love great villains but in the end most of us want the good guy to triumph. So what are some elements that create someone we can root for?

    • Relatable 

    Your MC has to be a mirror. Not entirely, he or she can be a shard or a sliver, but they must reflect a little of the reader to be compelling. Now don't mistake relatable for likable, those are two different things. There has been some very memorable and interesting MCs that you want to see win the day that haven't been all that nice. Sometimes they're called the anti-hero and can be used in that way to great affect. Having a relatable MC is crucial to capturing a reader's attention. Pour a little pathos into their words and actions and you'll be doing just fine.

    • Challenged

    Some of the best MCs have the greatest challenges facing them throughout the story, and I don't necessarily mean outside threats or problems that they encounter during the plot. I'm talking about internal conflicts. These usually fall into a sub story or sub text. Does your MC have a chronic disease that she struggles with day in and day out? Does he have a broken past marred by a hideous mistake? Is he damaged in some way that keeps him from what he wants? These are the internal challenges that make a character live and breath.

    • Mistakes
    Even though you don't want them to, great MCs make mistakes. They go into the dark room after hearing a noise, they pursue the killer though they know it's dangerous, they go out on a limb for those they love even though they know if may be their undoing. Mistakes are sometimes critical to a story since they tie into a MC being relatable. No one's perfect and if you paint your MC as being so, readers may get turned off to the fact. 
    • Goals
    This one's obvious but I thought I'd put it down here. Your MC must have an end goal that drives her. She must want something so bad all other interest are put aside until she gets it or dies trying. Is your MC a scientist working on a cure? Is he a detective that is charged with finding a serial killer that is uncatchable? Is she a single mother determined to better her and her son's lives by finding her place in life? Find out what your character wants more than anything else and then see if you can cause him some grief before he gets it.
    So those are just a few traits that I thought of off the top of my head. What are some others that you guys can think of? Feel free to chime in in the comments. 

    Grain Of Salt Writing Advice

    I have to get this out of my system.

    Not that I'm going to whine and complain to you, I won't do that, not really.

    Today I want to talk about writing advice. First off-

    It's everywhere.

    You can't turn around without running into an article on the latest way to "trim your manuscript" or "write a killer first chapter". There are hundreds of books out there just on the craft of writing. Some are very excellent, some are tosh. The problem is there is so much advice out there, it's like walking through a field of land mines.

    DON'T, FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, PUT AN ADVERB IN YOUR BOOK! ANYWHERE! THEY'RE THE DEVIL'S HERPES AND YOUR MANUSCRIPT WILL SHRIVEL AND PUS UNTIL IT'S NOTHING BUT A STINKING CARCASS OF WHAT MIGHT'VE ONCE BEEN A STORY!

    I just picked up a traditionally published book by one of the big five that recently got optioned for film. Guess what I saw within the first page? An adverb. Yep, on the very first page. Did you see I mentioned traditionally published and optioned for film? Okay, good.

    PASSIVE VOICE WILL MAKE THE READER FALL INTO AN APOCALYPTIC SLUMBER THAT OF WHICH HASN'T BEEN SEEN SINCE RIP VAN WINKLE! DO NOT USE "WAS", DO NOT USE PAST TENSE! EVERYTHING MUST BE PRESENT, FIRST PERSON!

    Blech. I mentioned this in a post I did a while back, you can read it here, but it's worth saying again. Know who uses passive voice so much, "was" makes up half the manuscript? J.K. Rowling. 'Nuff said? Okay.

    SHOW, DON'T TELL! THERE WILL BE NO CHARACTER FEELINGS OR INSIGHT INTO THE PLOT OTHER THAN WHAT THE CHARACTERS DO AND SAY! NO THOUGHTS! NO FEELINGS! JUST DIALOGUE AND ACTION!

    Three words for you- King, Leonard, McMurtry.

    My point here is this: writing advice should be taken with a grain of salt. And here's where I'm going to get all hypocritical and give you some writing advice but pa pa ta ta sh sh shhhhh, just be quiet. Let me tell you what I think is above all this other nit-picky advice:

    Story and voice.

    You heard me. Your story is your baseline from which everything else grows. It is the very first rung of the ladder you climb toward the roof that is publishing. Your story must have fantastic plot twists, great characters, and it must be told confidently and boldly, which brings me to voice.

    Voice is how you tell the story. How you push the reader along with the words you choose. It's how you construct your sentences and describe your characters. Voice is close to style, but not quite. If style is the clothes you wear, voice is the body you keep beneath them.

    Story and voice, voice and story. These two things above all else are the most important to me. I can overlook adverbs and passive writing if the story is rip-roaring and the author's voice is hypnotic. That's what I focus on the most in my own writing. Beyond that you can fix things. You can hunt adverbs down and skewer them on a delete-key lance. In the second draft you can take out "was'" that don't need to be there and speed up the pace. These things can be tinkered with.

    But story and voice are your bedrock. Start there and move up.

    And don't listen to every little piece of writing advice you hear.

    Ah pa pa ta ta sh shhhhhh. Quiet.

    ;-)

    Pooling Editing Tactics

    So I did a blog post a long time back on editing, and you can read it here, but since things always change and style along with methods evolve as you go, I wanted to do another post about this topic.

    In the other post I called editing writing's ugly cousin. It is. It's the necessary monster that's awaiting all of us at the end of every project. I said it before and I'll say it again-

    YOU MUST EDIT YOUR BOOK. 

    Now when I say this, I don't mean read through it once to make sure the punctuation's correct. Editing is not a read through, it is a completely different evolutionary step in your book's life. Think of editing as taking your work to another plane of existence both in creativity as well as correction. So here are some tips that have helped me along the way so far in my career.

    Most authors, myself included, say to take a break after finishing your first draft. This is good advice because you are too close to the story to make good decisions concerning any changes you'd like to make. With this said, I personally do a quick read through directly after finishing BUT, this is only to spot any obvious errors before I send it off to my editor. Secondly, my work goes through several passes and the time span between those passes allows for some perspective.

    On the topic of professional editing I will say this: If you were going skydiving, would you want a professional dive instructor packing your chute for you before you left the ground, or would you trust someone who's done it once or twice? Or would you try to do it yourself? I know I would want a pro taking care of me if my life were at stake. The life of your book is no different. You want someone qualified to help you polish it and make it shine. You do not want to send your book out into the world with so many glaring errors that any reader that picks it up will put it down immediately. In my opinion professional editing is crucial.

    Now, if your editor is good he or she will do a concept as well as a copy editing pass through your manuscript. Concept editing deals with the overall story- plot structure, character arc/development, and scene organization are just a few aspects of this portion. This is where you and your editor take a look at your book from a reader's point of view. Does the story make sense? Do the characters live and breathe? Do you need to lose a scene, gain one? This is where you put your book in the water and see if it floats. Copyediting deals with things like punctuation, sentence structure, POV consistency, tense agreement and whatnot. This is swabbing the deck and checking the rigging of your book after you see that it floats.

    Another tactic that I've recently begun doing is using the search feature prior to beginning an overall edit. What that sometimes consists of is seeking out overused words.We all have our favorite words but at times they can become overbearing and distracting to the reader if used too much. Here is a list of overused words that I look for:

    Just
    Began
    Started
    Glanced
    Looked
    Watched
    Noticed

    These words can sometimes be removed from a sentence completely or merely changed into another similar word that isn't used as much.

    Glanced, looked, watched, and noticed are all words used as a segway into some sort of description (at least that's how I use them) such as Winston stopped and glanced around. The walls in the castle courtyard were high and topped with turrets made of rough-hewn stone. Now this isn't terrible and I think can be done from time to time, but really it sounds and works better to just change the segway like this: Winston stopped in the doorway. The walls in the castle courtyard were high and topped with turrets made of rough-hewn stone. Now you've taken out a needless character action and smoothed the transition over into a description. For me this reads better but YMMV.

    Another thing to watch out for is needless dialogue tags. These are he/she said, or (insert your character's name) said. My rule on tags is if you can infer who is speaking in an exchange, don't put anything after the dialogue, it merely slows the reader down. Good dialogue flows and at times is like machine-gun fire. Adding the she/he said after every line is a great way to bog down the story. 

    After you've done a final edit on the book and everything looks good, read it out loud. Many authors do this and there's a reason why. You get to hear the cadence of the sentences, how dialogue actually sounds, whether it flows or if it's like a jerky ride in a rickety wagon. You'll be able to comb out more unnecessary words reading aloud and this is always a good thing.

    So just for an example of my editing process, here it is-

     

    1. Quick read through to snag major errors.
    2. Concept editing pass by qualified editor.
    3. Beta reader input on overall story and plot.
    4. Make changes for overall story and plot.
    5. Copyediting pass by editor.
    6. Accept or deny final changes.
    7. Read aloud.

    Now this works for me and it may not for you. Editing is writing's ugly cousin but they are related in that you'll have your own method. Overall, editing is a painful and needed aspect of writing. Do not shy away from it because it will always make your work stronger.

    What I would like is for this post to be a reference point for editing as well as a pooling of ideas on how to edit better. If you've got a different set of problem words or way that you go about editing, please share them in the comments below and help grow a knowledge base that everyone can use.

    Sneak Peek Of The Waiting

    The-Waiting-EBOOK

    So I have a new novel coming out this week, and as always, I'm very excited. For those of you who enjoyed my first novel, Lineage, The Waiting will be right up your alley. In fact, I think it might be the creepiest thing I've ever written. Anyhow, the release date is scheduled for Tuesday the 19th, and then you can be the judge. But for the meantime here's a sample from the beginning of the book. Hope you enjoy it!

    Text copyright

    ©

    2013 by Joe Hart

    All rights reserved.

    No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission from the author.

    This is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

    To the ghosts inside us all. You are our treasures and curses. Never go away.

    Prologue

    It’s coming.

    The words chanted inside his head as he ran, his arthritic joints exploding with each painful step. Blood dripped from his fingertips, smeared on the screen door as he pushed through it into the warm night air. Stars hung above the lake, their cascade of pinpricks joined to one another like a dot-to-dot in the sky, their portrait reflected in the calm face of water beyond the shore. A soft breeze spoke in the pines and nudged Maggie’s chime into life. The jangle of the hollow steel spurred him on as his lungs began to burn.

    He felt a twinge in his shoulder, and it lanced down the inside of his biceps and stabbed a shot of fire into the left side of his chest. Heart attack, finally. He knew it would take him one day, just like it took his grandfather, father, and son. He welcomed it, hoped it would drop him on the dewy grass. But the pain relented and vanished, a phantom of the nerves that came and went with his age.

    He ran.

    His socks were already soaked when he hit the water, but the chill that set into the lake each night still made him grimace. What did he care now, with Maggie gone? His insides shrunk with the renewed epiphany: he would never see his wife again. Unless ...

    He stopped in the waist-deep water, the liquid darkness rippling with his movements. Tears rolled down his face, catching in the lines of his years. His family flitted through his mind’s eye—births, graduations, anniversaries.

    His reverie was broken by a splash behind him, like something diving into the lake. His eyes widened as he craned his neck around, looking for movement but knowing it didn’t matter. He was done.

    Curiosity killed the cat, and nothing in the world can bring him back.

    He cried, tears dropping from his face like the blood from his fingers. Knowing it was his fault would be the last thought he would take with him.

    He doubled over, his face inches from the water, and saw his blackened reflection. He was only shadow, an outline. Nothing more. He took a last breath, savoring the sweet taste of it on his tongue before exhaling as much as he could; he would need a lungful to do it right.

    He made to push his face into the water, but two hands shot up from the depths, their fingers fish-belly white, and found the back of his neck.

    A garbled scream of pure terror fell from his mouth and was cut off the moment his head slammed into the lake. His feet surfaced, two pale, thrashing things as he kicked, and then they were gone as well.

    Concentric waves rolled away in ever-increasing circles, and soon they flattened, leaving the water unbroken and smooth like the silence of the night.

    1

    “Evan, we’re going to have to let you go.”

    Evan Tormer raised his face from his hand and let the words reverberate inside him. He stared across the corner office, the office that should have been his, at Christy Weathers sitting behind the desk. Her hair perched in a gravity-defying jumble of curls on top of her head, her mascaraed eyes watching him, cold, unblinking.

    “Christy, look, we can talk about this, please.”

    The man leaning against a desk near the panoramic window made a sound like a cough that could’ve been a laugh. Evan glared at him. Calling him a man was pushing it. Colt was a kid, at least seven years his junior. Evan took in his trendily hipster clothes—the too tight slacks, the vibrant clashing dress shirt, the oversized black-framed glasses—along with the sneering mouth beneath a poor attempt at a mustache.

    “I’m sorry, Evan, there’s no wiggle room here, and you know it. Mr. Tillins is already aware of this, and the best I’ve been able to do is convince him not to press charges,” Christy said.

    Evan swallowed. His throat was as dry as a streambed in a drought. Tears stung his eyes, and he forced them back down. He would not cry in front of these people.

    “I paid everything back, every cent.” He searched Christy’s face for a semblance of compassion, a smile, something of the person he had worked with for four years before her

    promotion

    .

    When she didn’t move a muscle, he continued: “Look, I was desperate, Elle was so sick and the treatments were more than we could handle.”

    “Nontraditional treatments, is what I heard,” Colt said, taking his glasses off to polish them while gazing out at the afternoon sweep of Minneapolis.

    Evan stared at the younger man until Colt returned his gaze. “What does that have to do with anything?” A cold flame lit in the bottom of his stomach.

    Christy waved the question away like a buzzing fly. “Listen, Evan, I don’t want this any more than you do, you’re a vital part of the company. You do good work, you’re a team player, and your recent setbacks—”

    “My wife died, that’s not really what I’d call a setback,” Evan said.

    The tears were back, and they weren’t heeding his efforts. One slipped over the rim of his eyelid and traced down his cheek to his chin. Christy stiffened, her jaw tightening.

    “Evan, we’re all very sorry about Elle, but the fact is, you took fifty thousand dollars from the company, and that can’t be overlooked.”

    Christy paused and tipped her head to one side, a bundle of curls catching light from the setting sun. Evan wanted to tell her that her hair looked nice. In fact, he wanted to say he remembered the first time he saw her wear it like that, at the company Christmas party a year ago. He could still see that mop of blond curls bobbing at Tillins’s crotch while the man reclined in his office chair, oblivious to Evan retreating, the page of marketing reports still in his hand, and closing the CEO’s door without a sound.

    Instead, he prepared to beg. “Christy, please, I won’t be able to afford Shaun’s medical bills without the health care.”

    “My thoughts are, you should have contemplated that before stealing from the company, Evan,” Colt said, moving to the side of Christy’s desk.

    Evan ignored him, focused on Christy. “Please, let me speak to Mr. Tillins, I’m sure he’ll understand.”

    The curls shook. “No, Evan, this is final. Please pack your desk up. We’ll have your last check delivered to your house. Your health care will continue for the next two months, until the quarter ends.”

    Evan’s jaw worked as though more pleas wanted to come out, but there was nothing left. The aching worry that had begun early in the morning with Christy’s email asking him for a meeting became a sour explosion of reality. They’d found out. He’d lost his job.

    Colt come closer, and he stood, staring down at the kid’s snarky face. What kind of name was Colt anyway?  

    “If you have any further questions, direct them at the HR department,” Christy said, now looking at a stack of papers that her fingers shuffled through.

    Evan turned toward the thick double doors and began to walk, hearing Colt’s footsteps a few inches behind his own.

    “Well, on the bright side, now you have some extra time to spend with your retard,” Colt said, just above a whisper.

    Evan moved without thought, oblivious to the static charge in his limbs as he spun. His elbow came up in a short arc and connected with Colt’s face. A sound like an aluminum can being crushed filled the office, and then there was blood—a lot of it.

    The kid’s hands cupped his shattered nose as his broken glasses slid, now in two pieces, off his head. Colt stumbled back, clutching at his face with delicate piano-player fingers.

    Christy sat stock-still in her chair, her eyes saucer plates dabbed with blue at their centers. 

    “Uhhh! Uhhh! He fucking hit me!” Colt yelled.

    He tripped over a chair and fell to his ass, the impact jolting a fresh gout of blood through his shaking fingers.

    Evan stared, his jaw loosened. So much blood. The sound of the phone on Christy’s desk being picked up pulled his eyes from the bleeding office worker.

    “Don’t!” Evan said, pointing at Christy, her finger hovering over the button that would bring the two security guards from the lobby rushing toward the office. “Or I’ll call Tillins’s wife.”

    Christy’s mouth formed words that died in her throat. She set the phone back into the cradle.

    “Get out.”

    Evan looked one last time at Colt and wondered if the hipster would bleed to death right there on the floor, then turned and hurried through the double doors.

    Evan walked as calmly as he could down the hallway, saying hello to several people who passed him by. His legs moved on their own accord, propelling him forward as his slamming heart threatened to burst from his chest. He rounded a corner and saw the sign for the bathroom. In a few seconds he was inside the farthest stall, with barely a pause to see if anyone else was present. He fell to his knees and vomited into the toilet, the light salad he’d had for lunch an unrecognizable mess before him. Evan clutched the handicap bar to his left and heaved again, and again.

    He was unemployed. He’d broken Colt’s nose, threatened Christy with blackmail. What the hell was he doing? And more importantly, what the hell was he going to do? The stall spun, and he closed his eyes, spitting acid into the water.  

    When he managed to make it to the sink—the bathroom still blessedly empty—his reflection met him, but he avoided it entirely. He didn’t care to see what waited there for him. Instead, he bent and splashed cold water over his face until his skin stung.

    He left the bathroom and walked to a set of doors at the far end of the corridor, opting to take the stairs rather than risk bumping into someone in the elevator who might ask a question he didn’t want to answer. After six flights of steps, he swung a door open, stepped out on the ground floor, and made his way to his office at the rear of the building.

    Office. It wasn’t more than a glorified broom closet, just wide enough for a small desk, no window, and two file cabinets. He’d attempted to make it nicer several years before everything fell apart, by hanging photos of Elle and Shaun on the walls. He removed them, pausing to take in his wife’s and son’s features.

    They both had a fair complexion and light, wispy hair. Elle’s smile radiated from the picture and struck a bell in the center of Evan, as it had when she was alive. Shaun’s arms were wrapped around his mother’s neck, his face partially buried in her hair. The white scar on the side of his small head was all but invisible in the picture unless you knew what you were looking for, and Evan couldn’t help seeing it each time he gazed at the photo.

    He swallowed and turned in a slow circle to survey his office, searching for anything else to take, but other than a warm can of Coke inside his desk drawer, his favorite pen, and his jacket, there was nothing.

    He stood in the doorway to the office in which he’d toiled for eight years writing promotions, ads, and marketing strategies. He remembered all the time spent in the little room, away from his family. And what did it mean now? All his effort culminated at this point—alone, with nothing but his pictures beneath his arm to show for it. He snapped the light off and shut the door behind him, listening to the hollow

    thunk

    as it closed. The end of his career.

    Before he could take a step, his cell phone sprang to life in his pocket, trilling and vibrating against his thigh. When he saw the name and number on the display, he almost hit the ignore button, but the thought of having to call his best friend later and tell him what had happened wasn’t appealing either. He answered the phone as he walked toward the lobby, slinging his jacket around his shoulders as he went.

    “Hey, man.”

    “Wow, you sound like complete shit. Do me a favor next time I call and don’t answer if you’re having a bad day,” Jason said.

    Evan sighed. “I almost didn’t.”

    “Well fuck you too.”

    Evan heard the tap of a keyboard in the background. “Yeah.”

    A long pause from Jason’s end. “Ev, what’s wrong?”

    Evan nodded to a security guard near the front desk in the lobby, marveling that it was the last time he would do so, and pushed into the crisp spring air of the city.

    “I don’t want to get into it on the phone.”

    “Shit. Okay. Meet me at Aran’s after work.”

    A light mist fell as he strode across the parking lot, the mid-afternoon sounds of traffic and smells of wet concrete invading his senses.

    “I’m leaving work now.”

    Another pause. “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

    “Jason, no, I’m going home—”

    “Aran’s, ten.”

    The call ended, and Evan stared at the screen as he stood beside his minivan. “Shit,” he said to the deserted parking lot, and climbed inside the vehicle.

    31 Days Of Flash Fiction - Day 31

    Woo! Hoo! Happy Halloween! Or would Boo! Hoo! be more appropriate? No, that sounds like I'm crying. Whatever.

    Anyways, today's the last day of my month long flash fiction journey. It's been super fun and I've gotten great feedback and kind words from a lot of people about the stories. Thanks to everyone who stopped by or helped me promote the posts.

    Since today's special I decided to pull out the stops and wrote a longer flash fiction piece. All the others were around a hundred words. This one's closer to a thousand.

    Hope you enjoy it!

     

    Chrysalis

    “Look at my new friend, mommy, he’s funny.”

    Janet stopped weeding the row of strawberries she was working on to look at her daughter who thrust out her chubby palm, holding it only inches from the tip of her mother’s nose. A large, violently green and black caterpillar sat in middle of Lana’s hand. The black markings striped its puffy body in swathes like miniature, grinning mouths. Its head (if that’s what she was looking at) had one of the stripes running across its front so that it appeared to be smiling.

    “Whoa, well he’s very colorful,” Janet said, guiding Lana’s hand to a comfortable distance. “Where’d you find him?”

    “Over there in the bushes,” Lana said, pointing to the edge of their spacious yard where the grass grew higher, giving way to a thicket which became the forest of pine trees that surrounded their home.

    “Hmm, he’s different isn’t he?” Janet said.

    “Yeah! He’s my friend, I heard him calling and when I picked him up he said we could be best friends.”

    “He did?”

    “Yep, and I asked him if he was going to be a beautiful butterfly and he said he was going to be something even better.”

    “Well, that’s nice, honey.”

    “Can I keep him?”

    “Sure, just be careful not to squish him,” Janet said, returning to her work. “He looks like he’s full of goo.”

    “Mo’om!”

    “I’m just saying,” Janet laughed.

    “I’ll be careful. He’s my friend.”

    “Did you brush your teeth, young lady?” Janet called up the stairs as she wiped her hands dry on the towel near the sink.

    “Not yet!”

    “Well do it, it’s time for bed!” Janet said, walking past the dark living room windows to the cartoon that played without an audience on the TV. She snapped the set off and then made her way up the wooden steps to Lana’s room.

    She found Lana kneeling beside her bed, gazing into the small, plastic cage filled with grass clippings and wilting leaves that sat on her bedside table. Even from across the room, Janet could see the trundling movement of the fluorescent caterpillar as it climbed the side of its plastic prison.

    “Okay, let’s get going, it’s past bedtime and we still need to read a story.”

    Lana stared at the cage and didn’t move.

    “Lana, did you hear me?”

    Lana turned, her eyes glazed. “What?”

    “I said, go brush your teeth.”

    “Okay. I was just talking to him. He’s saying funny things.” Lana moved past Janet, her small feet padding down the hall in little steps before turning into the bathroom. Janet watched her go.

    “Kid’s asleep on her feet.” Janet said to herself as she picked up a discarded gum wrapper and a rumpled t-shirt from the floor. The water ran in the bathroom and the sound of Lana singing something in muted tones floated down the hall. Janet threw the wrapper in the wastebasket near the closet and was about to put the t-shirt in the laundry bin when she heard a short hiss.

    She stopped, mid-stride and turned, her brow drawn down as she came closer to Lana’s bed. The clock-radio blinked the red numeral 12 over and over, not having been reset from last night’s power outage. Janet bent over and began to fumble with the clock, sure that the hiss had come from the un-tuned radio. Movement drew her eyes to the right where the caterpillar waved, hanging by its back legs on the side of the cage.

    Janet leaned closer to the plastic box and caught a whiff of something foul, there and gone like the breath of a corpse. The caterpillar stopped waving and curled toward her, its head seeming to peer out through the transparent wall.

    “You might be what’s stinking,” Janet said. “I’ll have to get rid of you when Lana’s not around.

    The black stripe on its head split, revealing a glimmer of needled ivory teeth.

    Janet sat back, blinking, her hand coming to her mouth.

    “Mama?”

    Janet pressed her palm hard to her lips, stifling the scream that wanted to spill out. Lana stood in the doorway, her pink nightshirt hanging just below her knees. When she looked back at the caterpillar it was working its way back down the cage’s side, its movement familiar, perfectly normal.

    “Yeah honey?” Janet said, trying to shake away what she’d seen. What she thought she’d seen.

    “Are you making friends with him?”

    Janet smiled, her heart settling back into a normal rhythm. “Sure am, honey, now get in bed.”

    “Mama!”

    Janet woke all at once, flying up from the depths of sleep to break its surface, a high diver in reverse.

    “Mama!” Lana’s voice shrill, coming from down the hall.

    “Coming!” Janet called, and swung her feet out of bed, not bothering with the fluffy slippers waiting on the floor.

    When she entered Lana’s room, her daughter was sitting on the edge of her bed, tears streaming down her face.

    “What’s wrong, honey?”

    “I’m sick and my friend’s gone.”

    Janet crossed the room and sat on the bed beside her daughter, putting an arm around her shoulders. “What do you mean, you’re sick?”

    “My tummy hurts.”

    “Oh, do you need to go potty?”

    “No, I woke up and it hurt.”

    “Let’s lie down again, okay?” Janet said, glancing at the plastic cage on the table.

    Its lid was open a fraction of an inch, the caterpillar nowhere in sight.

    “He got out somehow,” Lana said, clutching her blankets tight over her chest. “My friend ran away.”

    “I’m sure we’ll find him, honey. He’s got really short legs, he couldn’t have gotten far,” Janet said, silently thankful Lana hadn’t been careful with locking the lid the night before. Now she wouldn’t have to dispose of the worm herself.

    Lana smiled and a little giggle escaped her mouth. “You’re right, he’s probably close by.”

    “That’s right. Okay, you rest a little bit and you’ll feel better. I’ll go get you a glass of water.”

    Janet made it to the door before Lana’s voice stopped her again.

    “Mom, can I be a butterfly when I grow up?”

    Janet smiled. “Sure honey, you can be whatever you want.”     

    31 Days Of Flash Fiction - Day 30

    Almost to the end, people. Almost.

    :-)

    Enjoy.

    Donation
    “Just a little more.”
    The technician smiles at me as more red runs from my arm into the ballooning bag. He’s a nice young man with kind eyes and a smile that reassures. Someone the organization will lose once he gets another job offer.
    But for now he’s mine, coaxing just a little more from my vein.
    “It’s very rare,” he says again. “Your blood type. I’ve only seen one other in all the years.”
    I nod, wondering why someone who looks no older than a high-schooler would say it that way. All the years.
    The bag is full and he attaches another. I try to say something, to complain that that is enough. I’m old and don’t make the red stuff as fast as I used to.
    But he pushes me back into my seat and smiles again, his teeth whiter now.
    Sharper.

    “Just a little more,” he says, and grins.

    31 Days Of Flash Fiction - Day 29

    Only a couple more days before Halloween, and I've got a little extra something planned for everyone on the big day...

    Won't say more than that.

    Enjoy.

    One Of Two
    Only one of us can live, I tell him.
    Not through words but through the language of touch, the brushing of skin.
    He tries to pull away but I hold him close. And really, where could he go? I’m his sister, his one true companion, the only he’s ever known.
    The dawn is coming. Soon. And our lives have yet to begin.
    But only one of us can live.
    So though he struggles and thrashes, I draw him closer.

    And wind my umbilical cord tight around his throat.

    31 Days Of Flash Fiction - Day 28

    Hanging Tree

    It stands out in the yard beneath an autumnal light glowing gold like its leaves.

    That’s its camouflage and its attraction.

    What child is able to resist the swaying seat of the swing hanging from its drooping branches? What child would not want to feel the air rush past their face, the exhilaration of the glide before plummeting back to Earth only to arc up again?

    But they don’t know it’s alive in a way that other trees aren’t.

    It doesn’t seek rain, but something else. Something more savage.

    Many have come to the tree and none have left its embrace.

    For the bristling leaves and reaching branches are its arms.

    And the swing is its wagging tongue.  

    31 Days Of Flash Fiction - Day 27

    True Love
    “I’ll always love you,” she whispered as she leaned in close to him.
    The little smile on his face was completely his, sexy in such a sublime way. The very first thing that drew her to him. She could stare at it for hours and it still gave her butterflies.
    He sighed in his sleep.
    “I forgive you for everything. You know I can’t stay mad,” she said. “She didn’t mean anything to you and I’m just glad it’s over.”
    She laid awake for a few more minutes staring at the ceiling. As she drifted off she laced her fingers in his.
    “Just don’t ever do it again because I’m running out of places to bury them.” 

    31 Days Of Flash Fiction - Day 25

    Hey everyone! Just a quick note- a writer friend of mine (and social media roommate) Julie Hutchings asked me to write a flash fiction piece for her site and she posted it today! So hop on over to Deadly Ever After and check it out!

    Okay, onward and forward. This one's a little more sentimental but I like it. Hope you do too.

    Wrought Life
    This house, it’s all I have anymore.
    We bought it together, the day we were married. I fashioned a wrought iron arch over the garden and we planted our vegetables together.
    The swing on the front porch rocks sometimes and I can still see her, sitting, sipping tea. Her hair is wisps of white dandelions, floating away now.
    She’s gone. Has been for years.
    My children come and see me here and they tell me that this place isn’t my house and that I didn’t plant the garden outside.
    That the wrought iron arch isn’t there.
    But I can see it. I can see it all as well as I can see her.
    Sitting here beside me.