WARNING:

The blog content here is not always family friendly. I OCCASIONALLY write/review in erotica, extreme violence, horror, foul language and otherwise questionable content. I will warn the readers when this content occurs.

WEP: APRIL FOOL

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Monday, April 21, 2014

While the origins of All Fools Day may not be precisely known, I'm a bit partial to the Wikipedia segment: . . that April is the time of the year, around Easter when the passion of Jesus took place and Jesus was sent back and forth from one official to another — from Annas to Caiaphas, from Caiaphas to Pilate, and from Pilate to Herod to be mocked and tormented, and that from this arose our present custom, "by which we send one place to another such persons as we think proper objects of our ridicule."




Below is my 998 word interpretation of the above theme for Denise Covey's Write . .Edit . .Publish monthly bloghop for April.


LILLI OF THE FOREST

Without doubt, Lukas was lost. The truth was obvious to everyone except Lukas Salmon.

“Dost thou yield Master Salmon?”

“Nay, I know precisely where we are Mistress Lillia. Mark my words, I’ll have you to Castle Roogan before the sun rises.”

The groomsmen snickered around the pre-dawn fire as the nobleman repositioned the map, bending close to catch the dancing light. Lady Lillia waved her silk fan in front of her unpainted face. She’d ordered the stop to warm her toes after her maids complained of the hours couped up in the coach with full bladders and empty wine flasks. Sadly, her maids had succumbed to the effects of the long ride and abundance of alcohol just moments before their intended host discovered a convenient copse to shelter in for a short spell.

“Seems your short-cuts have extended our journey and tired out the ladies you wished to make profit off my dear Sir.”

“Profit?” Lukas took a theatrical step away from the fire, his face flushed with false apoplexy and his right hand polishing the pommel of his poniard.

The Lady laughed, a tinkling sound like shattering glass that was only one of the reasons the escort
leapt away from the fire with drawn swords. Her tall white wig suddenly morphed into short, red hair. A turquoise, feathered comb exposed pointed doe ears. She stretched leather boots towards the hearth and exposed smooth nobbly knees where a flowing lavender gown once tantalized a glimpse of ankle.

“Your arrogance betrays you Sir,” the transformed Lady cooed, accepting a walnut from a bushy tailed squirrel. She winked at it, and the squirrel chattered excitedly and spun a little dance before racing up a nearby tree. For a moment she was distracted by the adventurous tale of giving he recited to his mate and two kittens.

“My Lady –”

“Lilliona,” she snapped.

For  a moment she wished she had not come to the rescue of these damsels in idiocy. At the end of every season, the Ton was rife with the gossip of missing maidens, lesser daughters of consequence, lists of lost heirs. Why Lillia bothered with this motley crew of ladies in waiting was a mystery even to herself. As a lesser Fae however, she was drawn to the plight of the cast off servants.  Not the typical route to elevate her status to a Banshee, but Lilllia wasn't sure she harbored aspirations that lofty.

Besides, it was great fun to toy with these Noblemen of ill repute.

“The fox you followed through the night was my familiar Theon. And Theon took instruction from the squirrels to find this faerie ringed rest spot. So you see Sir, I have been in charge of this merry chase since before you absconded with these innocent ladies.”

“Fox?” Lukas exclaimed, drawing closer to the fire.  “I follow no creature through these woods but my own experience. And, do not let these lady’s youth deceive you, Mistress –”

“Spare me the details of your innocence,” Lilliona interrupted.

She waved a long finger at two of the groomsmen, and in seconds they melted into large red foxes; one wearing the golden coat of the footman, the other adorned with the green plumed fedora of the coach master. They yipped and pranced in front of their mistress, showing off their colorful spoils.

“Yes my friends, go now to your dens. You deserve these riches, and the stories of glamour told to your mates and kits.”

The two foxes disappeared into the foliage, leaving no prints in the damp loam.

“Now, what to do with you, Young Sirs.”

Lukas’ protest – both verbal and the drawn threat of his poniard – fell limp from mouth and fingers as Lilliona rose and floated above the dying embers of the fire, gracefully landing beside the frozen henchman.

“You do not act alone, of this I am certain. You lack the cunning of my foxes.” She tapped Lukas’ forehead and smirked as his face shimmered with sweat. “But, you are loyal, and highly paid. Hmm, how can I discover your secrets?”

The distant sound of harness bells and heavy hooves announced a probable search party for the kidnapped ladies, and in her distraction the charm holding the three remaining groomsmen relaxed enough for them to dash into the forest.

“Silly me,” Lilliona exclaimed, tsking and pursing her lips into a pout. “Well, perhaps you have outfoxed me after all Young Master. Catch you later.”

As the copse exploded with the thunder of thoroughbreds and armed soldiers, Lilliona transformed into a woodpecker and flew into a tall pine tree.  She landed beside a snowy owl with the face of her brother.

“Giving up the game so soon? Its not like you to miscalculate a move.”

“Ca,” she laughed, staring down at Lukas, who was waving his arms and pointing and stammering the most outrageous tale of foul deeds perpetrated by his missing groomsmen.

She allowed her lips and throat to penetrate her disguise. “The game is just begun. He will have someone to answer to for his failure this night, and I shall be there on his window as His master tosses him over. And then –“

“Stop playing with these petty humans Lilliona. You disappoint Mother.”

“One can never please a storm cloud Nedhir. Stop trying so hard.”

“And who will rescue you,” he shouted at his sister as she launched into the rising sun.

For a while he watched the humans flounder through the forest. The magpies and chipmunks kept him informed of the progress of the search. His eyes grew heavy with boredom as the hours passed and the sun burned away his nocturnal vision. He hooted encouragement to himself as he tucked his feathery head beneath his wing.

He could afford to sleep out the day while his sister flitted about, laying strategies to catch a human prey. She wasn't nearly as clever as she thought, and he would beat her at her foolish game.

* * *

Did you play any fool's jokes on your friends, or frenemy's, during this month? Or perhaps you were the victim in a ruthless hoax? Do tell in the comments.

If you want to read more WEP April Fools submissions, or to add a submission of your own.

GOLDEN DAWN release and giveaway

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Congratulations to Aldrea Alien on her release of the second book in The Unborn Trilogy: Golden Dawn.


BLURB

Family and blood.

After 1100 years, these simple words mean everything to Herald. His life has been ruled by keeping his siblings safe, keeping them from becoming prey whilst feeding on the weaker. His failures have been many and measured by those he has lost. People like his twin brother.

There has always been an enemy to push back or defeat.

Just who the enemy is comes into question when Herald meets the dangerous, angelic creature he is to guard. Wondering where his true loyalties lie is a dangerous thought. No matter whether he chooses family over the heart, it will mean death.

Only the right choice will ensure the life taken is not his.


Purchasing links:
Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Smashwords
museitup publishing
bookstrand (this site has an excerpt to read for free)
OmniLit/All Romance (also has an excerpt)
Coffeetime Romance

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aldrea Alien lives in Porirua, New Zealand and writes fantasy, paranormal, science fiction, romance.  Born and raised in New Zealand. Aldrea lives on a small farm with her family, including a menagerie of animals. Since discovering a love of writing at the age of twelve, she hasn't found an ounce of peace from the characters plaguing her mind. Golden Dawn is the second book in her Unborn Trilogy.

Website     Blog     Facebook     Twitter     Goodreads


 a Rafflecopter giveaway

FLOGGING THE PRESENT TENSE

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MONDAY, APRIL 7, 2014


I'm not a fan of first person POV, or of writing in the present tense. Most of what I read lately seems to be in both perspectives however, and so I sometimes find myself attempting to write this way. It comes natural to a lot of writers, but for me, its work.

Brian Klems of Writers Digest has a list of pros and cons for writing in present tense that I found interesting. To summarize:

Pros
1.  has more immediacy than past tense; the reader is with the narrator every step of the way and makes the climax more immediate and intense
2.  contributes to characterization of the protagonist, who is "boxed in the present"
3.  reflects not only the character's nature, but the story's theme also; the past is present in memory and somewhere all those events are still happening
4.  simplifies our handling of tenses; most present-tense stories employ only four (tenses) —the simple present, the present progressive, and a smattering of the simple past and the simple future—and many consist almost entirely of the simple present tense.

Cons
1.  restricts ability to manipulate time; the narrator is speaking from and about a specific present
2.  more difficult to create complex characters; it’s more difficult to do so without natural access to the basic techniques that allow us to manipulate order and duration; techniques that allow us to convey our character’s subjective experience of time and thereby achieve more psychological depth and realism
3.  diminish suspense; because present-tense narrators do not know what is going to happen, they are unable to create the kind of suspense that arises from knowledge of upcoming events
4. encourages inclusion of trivial events simply because the events would naturally occur in the sequence of time.

How about you folks; ever write in present tense? Find it a natural fit for your style and story plots?

"Be" the FIRST FOLLOWER: IWSG

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

This is how the Insecure Writers Support Group (created by Alex J Cavanaugh) and the A-Z Challenge (brain child of Arlee Bird) got so H U G E  the movements now need helpers and assistants . . .




Just remember this when you're sitting in front of your computer, wondering if you should join a "movement" - either a blogfest, or a group, or even just contemplating something out of the ordinary for your own blog post.

Or, for that next story idea.

Good luck to all you A-Zers this year.

This months IWSG helpers are: Hart Johnson, Chemist Ken, CandiLynn Fite, Terri Rochenski, Clare Dugmore, Lilica Blake.

And today I'm guesting at The Writing Nut for Writer Wednesday. Hope you'll stop by for a glimpse of my writing journey.

Have a good week everyone.

RESULTS

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Friday, March 21, 2013

Wow, can't believe it is almost April. Time flies when work needs done!

At work this month of March is full of training, and unexpected court reports. I work Permanency Planing; why am I detaining and writing detention and dispo reports? I went into the office after hours to check up on a couple cases I expected reply emails and voice messages from; and got e-mails from dependency lawyers and our CSD lawyer advising me on court etiquette. Uck, do I feel stupid?! At least I know they got the essential info and were able to use it in my absence. My reward is a new court date, and a report due in three weeks. But not on the dates I sent that I'd be unavailable! Overall, the results of my lawyer e-mails were favorable.

I've been at social worker CORE I training most of this last week (3/18-3-20). Many of the social workers consistently answered work and personal cell phones to conduct work issues while they were temporarily out of office. This kid needs a visitation scheduled with mom, this mom needs a bed approved for residential treatment, this foster family needs a scheduled visit changed, this social worker has a court report due in a week. . .

I didn't stress over anything while I'm at training. The one court report I stressed over I put on my Sup's desk the day before I went to training (out of town for three days); I have meetings I scheduled for next week that I sent agenda's for a week ago and got the main problems worked out, and I signed my time card before leaving. I kinda feel inadequate in this tension-based environment because I expect my caseload to wait three days for me to return. And, I warned everyone about my pending absence every few days over the last month.  My voice mail says to contact my supervisor if you have an emergency, and Her voicemail says to contact Intake or 911 if you have an emergency, so I feel like my client's emergencies are handled while I am out of office. Result: I'm relaxed at training and learning something new while my cohorts are cussing out the training coordinator for screwing up their work lives.

I think training is important, especially for new workers. I mean, if you have training scheduled for something you don't know, I guess going to training is better than filing an inaccurate report that will send a kid into the same dangerous situation he/she was removed from. Anyway, that's how I view training.

Speaking of results, I guess you want to know who won the Battle of the Bands between Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix versions of ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER.

Posted votes in comments:
1 for original version of Bob Dylan at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YanjY9CsPDQ  (not the live version)
10 for Jimi Hendrix for various reasons
3 for other artists not showcased for BotB (Dave Mason; U2;  Mahagony Rush)

Final result for All Along The Watchtower:  Jimi Hendrix. But not cuz you all voted in favor. The final vote goes to Hendrix, even if it was not an overwhelming voter preference because: Dylan has described his reaction to hearing Hendrix's version: "It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn't think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day." How do you dispute an endorsement from the author" (source)

My final bit of "results" is personal. Many of you know I've struggled with a change of jobs in the last 4 months, a pay decrease, and several other challenges to taking a risk in career change. I moved myself out of my working comfort zone at great personal sacrifice. Well, the sacrifice has paid off with the purchase of my new home.




Yep, I closed escrow and got the keys to my home on 3/19, and am moving this weekend. Do I need to tell y'all  I've been sick for the last three days?  That having my dream of home ownership (as a single mom, in dept to her eyeballs, all on my own credit score) come true is more stressful than all the searching for the right mortgage company, the right type of loan, the perfect realtor?

Please don't shout out to the Universe that some excellent good has come my way. I'm pretty sure Karma has a reasoning behind my good fortune, but I'll refrain from questioning her. She may rethink my worthiness for this boon.  Life is good right now. With the good life comes some expected pitfalls; #1 being I'm moving, so my internet may not follow as quickly as the moving van travels such a short distance up the highway. And, I'll be a bit pre-occupied for a week or so with upacking and placing all the objects in my home. Don't worry Penny and Gary, I've already got my IWSG post scheduled, as I've anticipated some time management and technical problems associated with this FINAL move. (My kids don't believe home ownership will stop me from ever moving again.)

However, between now and April 2, I may be absent the blogsphere, so if you comment here and expect a response, I may be lax. Don't even talk to me about upping my data plan for the Tablets so my son doesn't run me out of internet 8 days into a 28 day cycle. He needs to learn self control!!!!!! But, internet access isn't my biggest concern at the moments, even if it is obtainable as a click of the mouse. If you hear screaming on the wind, that's just your pal Donna Hole working out some logistical frustrations.

I need to experience the empty nest syndrome. Really, it can't be that bad . . .

Anyway, see ya'll around April 2.

BATTLE OF THE BANDS: Watchtower

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Saturday, March 15, 2013



My pick for today's Battle of the Bands - hosted by Far Away Series and the Ferret Faced Fascist Stephen T. McCarthy) - is the 1967 apocalyptic song ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER. I had not heard this song before (or if I did I didn't remember it) but I choose it because of its intriguing writing and recording history.

Written by the rebel/social activist Bob Dylan during his 18 month recuperation at Woodstock following a mysterious motorcycle accident, it is the second song for his acoustics album John Wesley Harding (1967, Columbia Records). The finished track needed several takes and two overdubbings before Dylan considered the song acceptable, and has been remarked upon for its Biblical references. "Critics have described Dylan's version as a masterpiece of understatement." (source)

Since that original recording, Dylan has released four different versions of All Along The Watchtower, and performed the song over 3,000 times, both live and in studio.




Four months after Dylan released All Along The Watchtower, guitar-smashing, left-handed Jimi Hendrix was given a tape of Dylan's recording. A devoted fan of Dylan, Hendrix cut a large number of takes of "Watchtower" before leaving the studio that day.  As happened with Dylan, the song refused to conform to Jimi's unique style, causing the bass guitarist to walk out of the session, ultimately forcing Jimi to play the bass part himself. After several weeks of overdubbing, "The finished version was released on the album Electric Ladyland in September 1968. The single reached number five in the British charts, and number 20 on the Billboard chart, Hendrix's only top 20 entry there." (source)




ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER has been re-recorded by many different artists (The Grateful Dead has performed it 124 times), most using either of Jimi Hendrix's two versions, but it was also arranged for Battle Star Galactica's for season three final scene of episode Crossroads, Part II.

Well, which is your favorite version? Or do you have a preference by any of the other artists which have recorded their own versions? I'll let you know in a few days who the winner is; and also give one more secret vote that will astound you.



IWSG: DAY STRESS

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March 5, 2014

Today is the first Wednesday of the month, and time for the Insecure Writers Support Group hosted by CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm author and A-Z coHost Alex J Cavanaugh. This month's honorable co-hosts for IWSG are Tina Downey, Elsie Amata, Elizabeth Seckman, and Julie Flanders. Be sure to visit the IWSG linky to sign up or visit more IWSG posts.

I'd like to start with a bit of good news: my short story AN ARROW FOR CUPID was accepted by eFiction Magazines New Realms edition. I don't know when it will be published; this is a themed e-zine so they have to place it with other writings of its kind and it seems as though New Realms publishes only every 3-4 months. I've long been a fan of eFiction, well before it diversified, and I've participated in many of the work groups for critiquing and editing stories for publication, so I'm honored this story was accepted.

I have one other nearly finished story to submit to eFiction, but as usual, I've let life offer a natural procrastination excuse for not finishing or submitting.

You'd think after 3 months at the new job it wouldn't be so much the "new" job anymore. I'm in a different kind of unit than all my other training podmates, and I'm feeling sooo far behind. Nevermind the explanation, its so full of jargon you'd skip reading it anyways. As if changing county's, learning a completely alien job, and worrying over getting fired every time I open my sarcastic mouth wasn't enough, I decided to buy a house prior to passing the probationary period to add to my stress.

That is where my worst stress is right now. Its Homeland Security initiatives I'm most frustrated with. My ex-husband gave me some money to put towards escrow fees, and as happy as the lender is I have cushion in the bank, they want a copy of the cleared check, his bank statement proving the same processed check cleared, and a signed affidavit from him that he gave me the money with no strings attached. You know, the kind of strings in the form of a detonator charge that Achmed the Terrorist was savvy enough to get a home loan approved to blow up a residential neighborhood.

 I know, not funny, in the larger scheme of life.

 No, I'm not against Homeland Security; I believe they have a tough but necessary job to do. But come on, sometimes all those protections just keep average Americans from the dream of home ownership - or travel. No airport I've been to in the last few years stocks Diet Pepsi, and I'm not allowed to take the liquid past the security check point after purchasing it at the local 7-11.  A true terrorist has the foresight to keep/produce all that documentation without whining and moaning and doesn't care whether they sell Coke or Pepsi at the terminal. My addictions, and lack of organizational skills,  suffer for the good of the nation!

So yeah, I'm stressing. Its starting to feel normal. It should all settle one way or the other in less than a month. In the mean time (and I do mean MEAN), anybody got a hole they're not using so I can climb into it and pull the hole in after me while I wait to be fired, wait to close escrow, wait for the publication, wait for inspiration.

Anybody else freaking out over shit so mundane its almost not worth mentioning, but it consumes your every thought and reaction?

Don't forget to visit the IWSG linky and randomly make a stranger's day by visiting someone new.

FULL DARK and BREATHLESS

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Heellloooo out there!

I've been offline; reading, editing, traveling, and working. Well, I had this cross country work assignment that comprised my "traveling" - how often does a person get a three day paid vacation where the bathroom is always empty when you want to use it? - but I have been working and training for the day job. When I get home I think very little about getting on a computer - especially after spending a good part of the day reading reports, writing segments of reports, or reading how-to's about writing reports.

Yep, I'm starting to see why people who use a computer to think with all day don't want to go home and turn one on.

And . . . lately I've just wanted some privacy to think about things. One of those things being the direction of my writing . . hobby.

Not sure I can call this a "writing career" now that I rarely come up with anything new, but its still a hobby I'm not sure I want to give up so I'm still flogging that first women's fiction trilogy I wrote. Well, mostly just the first book. The others sit there untouched for editing/revision because I don't want to put energy into them if the first book never gets sold.

I've been struggling to rewrite the opening of the first chapter to make it fit the writing rules I've been reading on blogs (both agent/editor and published author), writing magazines and publishing sites, and a multitude of self help books written by experts. I'm pretty sure my writing problem isn't just that I'm so busy with my day job; its also an information overload.

I think I was better at putting my butt in chair to do the writing when I knew nothing about the craft. My trilogy is actually 4 books, written within a two year period spending every free moment I had towards its completion and some editing. I have a hard time believing I ever dedicated that much time to the act of writing. But, eventually I found my way to the blogs and LEARNED so much about the craft. And as I learned how many writing mistakes I made during my frenzy to get the story down, I lost the sheer enjoyment of just reading a story because I knew "how" it should be crafted.

TMI applies to more areas than just our personal lives.

Reading Stephen King's short story collection FULL DARK, NO STARS inspired me to take a second look at some of my own half finished short stories in a different light. It made me remember why I wanted to write short stories. Mr King is one of my favorite writers, even when he went through his slump period after his van accident. Full Dark reminded me of why I love short stories, and Mr King was my first introduction to the with his HALF PAST MIDNIGHT or NIGHT SHIFT collection. I forget which came first.

FULL DARK, NO STARS is more like Stephen King's Richard Bachman collection. These short stories are sometimes brutal, with no definitive right or wrong/good guy or bad guy personalities. They are truly "satisfactory" stories, depending on your own moral compass. The horror/thriller factor in the stories is that his main characters are everyday people in extraordinary situations: the middle aged cozy mystery writer who is raped and left for dead who has no special/secret skills as a marksman exacts revenge and gets away with it; a middle income business man who makes a wish his life-long, perfect friend suffers misfortune and he feels no regret as his own life improves; a husband that kills his wife over a hundred acres of land and loses everything, including his sanity, over the guilt; the good wife who kills her husband after a series of confessions too preposterous to believe, except upon serious reflection when the rose colored glasses are removed.

Mr King's afterword best describes the theme of the anthology: "The stories in this book are harsh. You may have found them hard to read in places. If so, be assured that I found them equally hard to write in places." I was glad to read that last line because the stories were sometimes hard to read - I had some moral/value biases that I needed to work through personally sometimes to continue reading. I like the way Mr King makes me think beyond a black and white world view. This has drawn me to his writings for the last 30 years. His characters and their psychological make up could be me, or my neighbor next door, or my intended spouse or best friend. Real people faced with a "what if" scenario that becomes a crisis.

 I've read really good short stories by other authors, some equally famous as my favorite and original love Stephen King, some by indi-authors I've met here in the blogs (Passing Time by Ellie Garratt ranks with Stephen King for favorite short story collections), but somehow this anthology happened at the right time for me in my self-debate about if a short story has to have a conclusive ending. and beginning, and whether it needed to end happily or just satisfactorily resolve a segment of life. And, I'm of the opinion that not everyone has the version of a "happy ending." If you read Big Driver in FULL DARK, NO STARS perhaps you'll understand what I mean about happy endings being subjective.

But where I really hope to earn my income (hobby or full time) is in novel writing. I have an off-line writer friend that encourages me to stick to my fantasy roots as my first reading love was fantasy, and I agree I write pretty well in fantasy for short stories; but my novel writing preference is in women's fiction, thriller and horror. That whole social worker nature thingy, ya know?

I need to read more Jodi Picoult, Sandra Brown and Tami Hoag; but I'm a long time fan of Dean Koontz also. I think I started reading Mr Koontz shortly after discovering Stephen King. After a couple years of steady reading though, Koontz novels started to feel . . predictable. The faces changed, the story lines were cookie cutter. I lost interest for a while.

Then came Odd Thomas series. I read the first four novels; but again lost interest. I think its more b/c I lost interest in series novels than the actual writing though. I have the same problem remaining interested in TV and movie series. Eventually, the themes all seem redundant.

My current read is Dean Koontz thriller BREATHLESS. I've a habit of reading the back-of-the-book blurb even on authors I'll read without knowing what the book is about simply to know what I'm supposed to "get" out of the novel. I bought this novel because it was on the cheap rack at the grocery store, and I already know I like the author.

BREATHLESS blurb let me know that I should expect a complex story with multiple main characters that eventually come together to resolve a magical/mystical event. Not all these MC are benevolent. Mr Koontz uses a third person omni POV that that allows the reader to experience a variety of perspectives in varying circumstances involving a singular "event." What draws me to the story and keeps me reading are the well written "voice's."

Each POV character has a voice and personality that is either benevolently serious, dangerously depressed, psychopathic, good natured and optimistic, heroically mischievous, or fatalistic. Or a combination of all. I equally laugh at the reasoning of the psychotic killer and the optimistic humor of the realist. I cried for the heroics of the Golden Retriever Rescuers and for the abusive intentions of world's leading scientists. This novel asks the hard question of "what if" the reader is faced with a miraculous event. What nature/nurture values will dictate your responses? Will your world view change for the better or worse? Will you approve of or accept who you become at the end of the experience?

Excellent questions to bring to a world that begs to see the unusual, but treats all unknowns as a threat. If you're not afraid to question your own inner values, you should read this novel with an open mind and be prepared for a magical journey into wonderment.

The writing  lesson I take from reading this novel is that not all MC need be introduced in the first chapter, and transitions do not need to be concrete. I'm reading each chapter as a mini-story in itself, and enjoying the anticipation of how all the dots connect. The plot building is a bit complex with all the multiple story lines, but the plot development is simple, with a easy to follow transitions from chapter to chapter and POV characters. When it comes to getting into multiple character's heads, Koontz is a master.

One of my problems with character development for my women's fiction is TMI in the first chapter. Seeing a master at work drawing me into the culture, the world, and the perspectives of his varying characters has helped me determine that my problems with the first chapter go beyond a lack of reader connection to the MC. Maybe I need to stop focusing on all the "rules" for what should be in that first all important first chapter, and just focus on my MC and what makes her different.

I know, that last line doesn't make sense when written down like that. But I know what I mean.

You ever read a complex story and not know why you get it? You ever contemplate or accomplish an entire re-write because of a writing article and/or novel reading that changed how you think about a story - even one not in your genre? You ever wonder why you try so hard to be different?

WEP: NEW FACE

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

This is a flash fiction in response to Denise Covey's WRITE . .EDIT . . PUBLISH monthly blogfest event.

TIME for the February challenge for WEP. The prompt is - What's in a face?

What comes to your mind - a ghost story? a treatise on the scientific dimensions of the face? a poignant poem? a photo that captures the face? artwork? Whatever strikes you as inspiration, go for it!

February 14 is Valentine's Day. You are welcome to incorporate this romantic day, but it is not mandatory! Just remember to keep your flash fiction or non-fiction to approx. 1,000 words.

This one was tricky for me to come up with a concept; I've got this mental block against posting anything in the standard romantic genre. So my couple is emotionally and sexually involved, but there is no romance between them. I'm a rebel, ya know. Uh, don't worry, there is no sex in this writing, and no foul language.

The excerpt is less than 900 words, and over researched. I'm hoping it flows well, but also that most of my readers are versed in enough Bible stories, fantasy, and general Roman mythology to recognize my characters. None of the referenced characters are my own creation; some may consider this fan fiction. The only help I will give towards terminology is that a "ward" is a magical lock on a door or mental capacity, and a Daemon/Daimon is a "benevolent or benign nature spirits, beings of the same nature as both mortals and gods, similar to ghosts, chthonic heroes, spirit guides, forces of nature or the gods themselves."





FACING THEOLOGY

Azazel tipped the flask to his lips and drank deeply of the never-ending draught. He ignored the incessant knocking at his cell door, knowing already the impatient being on the other side. He’d experienced the temerity of Lilith for ages, sometimes partaking of her sexuality between assignments or when despair drove him to seek the confidence of his dearest friend. Lilith had been indisposed on a secret mission when Azazel had failed with King Arthur, and an eon had passed Earth side as he contemplated his purpose in the universe.

“You cannot hide from me forever Azazel. I will sit here, singing your praises, until you admit me.”

“Spare me your false accolades,” Azazel replied in a drunken slur as he waved away the wards barring entrance to his sanctuary.

Lilith flounced through the entry in a slinky, backless dress as if she feared his good will would end before she could enter. Azazel smiled at her attempt to show respect by covering so much of her voluptuous skin. He'd spent so much of his time backing the morality of the gods that his friends now considered him a pious muse. An of course she could have blasted through his simplistic wards with barely a thought, especially since she was the one being he never seriously wanted to keep out.

Lilith was created by Samael to be a lover and guide for Adam when the youngling El determined to set himself up as the one God and changed his name to Yahweh. Such arrogance was unheard of in the Realms, and Azazel was as surprised as most that the Elder Gods did not intervene to stop the madness. Earth had proven itself to be an unpredictable environment, cosmically speaking, and many of the Gods had abandoned it soon after its surprise emergence.

The Daemon Chieftain Samael became the voice of opposition to Yahweh’s claim to sovereignship. Although he had not openly chosen sides in the debate, Azazel silently supported Samael’s campaign to dislodge the fledgling God.

“To what do I owe the pleasure of your company, Lilith. Last I heard you were influencing the Queen of Sheba to corrupt Solomon. How’s that going?”

“Yester year’s news Azzy, do try to keep up.” She conjured bread, cheese and fruit on a low table and situated it between them as she sank onto a velvet divan.

Azazel grunted as he floated a juicy papaya into his hand. In truth he knew all about Lilith’s disastrous exploits with the young female warrior Joan of Arc. Even in his withdrawal from the Universes, his mind refused to block out all telecommunications from Earth. It was rumored among the Daemons that Yahweh himself spoke to the child, leaving an imprint that even Lilith could not dissuade with all her considerable charms.

Azazel empathized with her failure with Joan. He knew well the weight of an untimely death of a promising prophet. He sank his teeth into the papaya and opened his mind to the world of Earth. Images filled his psyche, and he grimaced against the influx of emotion from all corners of the ethos. Empirical science had become the new face of theology, and even the existence of the One God Yahweh had become a much debated question.  It was this lack of faith that had sent Azazel into seclusion.

“What do you want of me?” Azazel asked.

Even in his sabbatical Azazel sensed Samael’s and Yahweh’s distress at the Renaissance phase of humanity. Every Daemon in the Cosmos had been alerted to the birth of Leonardo da Vinci, but as a resident of the 7th Realm of Heaven, only Azazel had known of the prodigy’s existence prior to his birth. He'd laid claim to the babe with little ambition to guide his potential.

Azazel had kept minimal connection to Leonardo, intervening only to place the boy in his father’s care at the age of six. Azazel sensed that Leonardo would impact the world without his constant attention, and opted to allow nature to descry the course of his life.

“My master wishes only for you to continue your neutrality in the Free Will debate between himself and Yahweh. They have agreed that certain scientists will remain ‘off limits’ to both, as long as you have acknowledged your mentorship of the scientific philosophies the individuals were born to invent.”

“What’s the catch?”

To his surprise, Lilith opened her mind to his insistent probing. As the first demon created by Samael, Lilith wielded considerable powers, in many ways rivaling Azazel’s. When she chose to mentally protect her secrets, she was extremely effective. She allowed him to witness the agreement between Samael and Yahweh; and he garnered acceptance from both entity’s.

He thought of the possibilities of infusing scientology to human beings. Minor nudgings against the concept of heaven and hell would be all that required. He could allow his natural inclinations to observe without interference draw him back into the Earthly Realm. After much consideration, he spread cheese on a slice of bread, and washed it down with a healthy swallow from his flask.

Lilith laughed around a hunk of pineapple as he tasted goats milk instead of mead in his never-ending flask.  Azazel didn't mind the change though; he was tired of the debauchery of inactivity. He was ready for the challenge he read in Lilith’s mind, and her suddenly amendable body language.

"Shall we seal your acceptance with original sin?"

* * *
Remember I am an agnostic, so my general comment to any religious debate in the comments is that "I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of any God" so please do not try to convert either me or any other viewers to your specific beliefs. However, feel free to expound upon your own beliefs as long as you are RESPECTFUL to all views.

Visit the linky at Write..Edit..Publish to add your own interpretation on this February challenge.

MOONLESS RELEASE AND BLOGHOP

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Today I'm helping Crystal Collier celebrate the release of her book Moonless



In the English society of 1768 where women are bred to marry, unattractive Alexia, just sixteen, believes she will end up alone. But on the county doorstep of a neighbor’s estate, she meets a man straight out of her nightmares, one whose blue eyes threaten to consume her whole world—especially when she discovers him standing over her murdered host in the middle of the night.

Her nightmares become reality: a dead baron, red-eyed wraiths, and forbidden love with a man hunted by these creatures. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with her beloved and risk becoming one of the Soulless.


So here's the question: If you lived in a society where arranged marriages were a la mode, who would you beg your parents to set you up with? Why? (Literary characters and celebrities welcomed.)

This is really hard to answer. I'm not much of a romance reader; but there are a couple fictional characters I might choose as an arranged marriage. Connor McLeod, The Highlander. According to the movie storyline, McLeod is: Immortal, a race of near-invulnerable and long-lived beings who wander the Earth concealing themselves from mortal humans; Immortals can sense each other through a form of extrasensory perception called “The Quickening” and can only permanently die if they are beheaded. As such, they participate in what they call “The Game”, an eternal contest between Immortals that will only end at the time of “The Gathering”, when the final Immortals are drawn together to battle each other until only one is left standing.
  Now tell me ladies: who wouldn't want to have a man around who remains gorgeous, and doting, for 50 years or so? I could put up with a few quirky drawbacks - he carries a sword, cuts off people's heads, is sterile - just to have something pretty to look at as I grow old.

What's your dream arranged marriage?

Find the rest of the hop below!


And while you're at it, enter to win one of these great prizes!

$2 coupon from the publisher (expires on 2/14)
  Coupon code: LQJM3F84



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