In this week's news....actually, some of it is last week's news as well!
Many news things are in store for my site so keep checking back! I think you'll like the changes!
Every writer struggles with something. It can be deadlines, time to write, or the dreaded writer's block. These successful writers offer valuable lessons we all can use! Go forth and read! You'll be glad you did!
My latest work-in-progress is a young adult romance titled In Darkness She Shines. Here's a sneak peek from the first chapter!
“Hey, who’s that?” Amy captures my attention with a nudge.
I follow her line of sight to the house sitting on the corner, only a few steps from mine. With its sagging screen door and cracked, concrete steps, it doesn’t look much better than the one I call home.
A teenage boy crosses the brown grass, a bookbag slung over one shoulder. He climbs behind the wheel of a truck that’s blue and rust. Through the cracked glass window behind his head, I see brown curls and broad shoulders.
“Well?” Amy prompts me with another poke of her finger to my shoulder.
I shrug. “Don’t know. Never seen him before.”
“You’ve got to get your nose out of a book, Bailey. I mean, seriously, a hot guy moves in practically across the street from you, and you don’t even notice?”
“He probably won’t be here long. This isn’t exactly a buy and stay type of neighborhood. I still can’t believe your parents let you walk with me.”
Amy and I met in history class five years ago, just as things were starting to get especially nasty between my mom and dad. Her friendship had saved me, and now, every morning, her dad drops her off at the corner of my street so we can walk to school together.
The engine on the dilapidated truck coughs and sputters, and I can see my new neighbor patting the dashboard like he’s offering encouragement. After several fits of shaking and rattling, the truck settles into an asthmatic rhythm. Then the muffler belches a plume of smoke that has me and Amy waving the air in front of our faces.
“Geesh! Get that muffler fixed!” I yell before I think, which is usually how I end up getting in trouble when my mom’s sober.
Back-up lights illuminate, and the truck rolls out of the driveway. The driver glances over his shoulder, sees me and Amy, and stares for a second longer than necessary before shifting the truck into whatever gear it would accept. After a few weak attempts, it finally lunges down road.
“Well.” Amy stops and puts her finger underneath her nose. “He’s definitely someone we should get to know.”
I stare at her like her hair’s on fire. “What? Why? Because he’s cute?” I couldn’t see that much of him except for a strong jawline and the hair. So any assumptions I made about his looks were simply speculation.
Amy grins. “I was going to say because he has a truck, but whatever.”
“That’s not a truck; it’s an accident waiting to happen. And your dad drives a Jaguar. Why do you care about some guy you don’t know driving a beat-up old tank?”
“We do get rain here, remember? Who knows? He might be willing to give us a ride to school.”
“Again, your dad drives a Jag. Wouldn’t you rather show up at school in that?”
Her perfect eyebrows crease. “Ride to school with my dad? What have you been smoking?”
We dissolve into giggles and continue our trek to school, arriving five minutes after the bell rings which still keeps us out of the mandatory parent-notification zone. Not that my mom would answer the phone anyway.
I saw this blog question on a challenge list, and it really made me stop and think. Once upon a time, I had a full-time career as a paralegal, and writing was a creative outlet for me. I didn't get published until I was almost thirty-five. I enjoyed writing, but it wasn't a necessity to me. All that changed after publication and the book reviews started coming in followed by even more contracts. Then I got excited because I loved to write and realized I could do this for more than just the thrill of writing.
Now, if I couldn't write for whatever reason, I would have to find another way to express what I can say with written words. I don't know what that would be, possibly doing more public speaking. But it wouldn't erase my desire to write.
Honestly, i can't imagine not writing, but if I had no choice, I would adapt and find another way to love what I do which would undoubtedly be something just as creative. I don't see myself ever returning to the full-time grind of being a paralegal. I enjoy being my own boss too much. As I'm already the editor-in-chief of Vinspire Publishing, I imagine I would throw myself even more into helping writers achieve their dreams.
I'll admit that this question scares me because I don't want to imagine not writing. Even writing a blog post like this one fills a need in me, and I wonder if I would feel the same if I couldn't write.
This is a completed manuscript that I haven't sent out yet. Thought I'd share the first part of Chapter One with you
Chapter One (Part 1)
"A tornado warning is now in effect for Charleston County, Berkeley County, and parts of Dorchester County. At approximately 6:45 p.m...."
Nicole switched off the television and gathered her purse and coat from the top of her desk in the back room of her antique shop. She didn’t want to be alone here during a storm. It didn’t feel safe. Few places did. A twenty minute drive would take her home with its tall wrought-iron gates and solid brick structure.
Her cell phone rang. Probably Katya calling to check on her. Her best friend for the past eight years, the woman knew close to everything about her, including the phobias that rendered her semi-functional.
"Hi, Kat. I'm heading out now."
"It doesn't look too bad on this side of town. Want to come hang out there?" Happily married with two small children, Kat had opened her doors more than once to Nicole when one of her fears had kicked in.
"No, I think it'll pass." As she clicked the lock into place securing her antique shop, a chill ran down her spin. A sense of deja vu passed over her.
A severe storm had taken away her security nine years ago, giving her best friend's boyfriend the distraction he'd needed to get close to her. To trap her inside the small office building which held her law practice. And…
"Are you sure?" Worry coated Kat's voice. "Jim doesn't mind. He's draped over the sofa watching baseball. An occasional curse word gets thrown in when the satellite fades out from the wind."
"I thought you said it wasn't bad over there." Nicole made it to her car in record time, the swish of the palm trees rubbing her nerves. She climbed behind the wheel of her comfortable sedan with every bell and whistle she could get for security purposes and punched the ignition button. The doors locked automatically.
"I said it didn't look too bad, and I wasn't lying. A burst of wind every now and then isn't bad." Kat huffed out a breath. "Come on over. I've got stroganoff ready, and the little ones will be in bed within the hour. We could have a glass of wine, chat, and try to tune out Jim's salty language together."
Nicole smiled at the picture her friend painted. She did love spending time with Kat's family. They'd become her own, providing her that familial tie she didn't have through any blood relatives. Caving in, she turned her car in the opposite direction of home. "Okay, but once the storm dies down, I need to get home. I have to be at the shop early tomorrow to get ready for Saturday's sale."
"Sounds like a plan. I'll set out another plate."
Her hands white-knuckling the steering wheel, Nicole said goodbye to her friend and focused on the road. Overhead, the sky had darkened to an ominous gray with streaks of green. Palms slickened with sweat, she tried to remain focused on the road, to ignore the warning signs.
Heart thundering in her chest, she pressed the accelerator and, using her thumb, turned on the radio, expecting the soothing sounds of classical music. Instead, an ominous voice shared the unwelcome news that a funnel cloud had been spotted near Kat's neighborhood.
Panic threatening to choke her, Nicole punched another button to direct dial Kat from her car's Bluetooth. "Kat, a funnel cloud's just been spotted right around the corner from you."
"I know. The warning just interrupted the baseball game. We're taking precautions. Maybe it's best if you do go home and batten down the hatches. I'll call you as soon as this passes." Kat paused before adding in a firm tone. "And it will pass."
With her friend's reassurances ringing in her ears, Nicole took the first exit to backtrack toward home, her body shaking with each mile.
By the time she reached her house, tears coursed down her cheeks, and her hands shook so badly she could barely press the button on the garage opener.
"Get a hold of yourself, Nicole. Nothing is going to happen. You're safe."
The self-talk helped a little, but it was only when she was inside and had bolted all the locks in place that she managed to draw a deep breath. But she couldn't stop herself from turning on the TV to watch the path of the storm.
Storms paralyzed her. And years of therapy hadn't eased any of the crushing anxiety that overwhelmed her with each weather warning.
Hours later, after the storm had moved on, Nicole she pushed herself up off the couch and stumbled down the hallway to her bedroom, one hand covering the scar that bisected her abdominal cavity. Though the night had fallen quiet, she wouldn’t sleep. The bad weather could return, and she had to stay on guard even though her attacker had died nine years ago.
A really great friend of mine, who is also an author, prompted me last week to submit one of my books to Kindle Scout. I have been waiting to decide what to do with Outliving Her Past for a couple of months, and when she emailed me, I took it as a sign and entered!
The nomination period runs for thirty days and will end on May 12th, which, incidentally, is the day before my birthday! This is the kind of present I would love!
I was born in 1968 which, now, seems like a very long time ago. I have now lived 17, 841 days. Now it really seems like a long time.
In less than 56 days, I'll turn 49, and it's made me reflect on how different things are now than when I grew up in the seventies and eighties.
I lived in a time where technology was a telephone, a color television, and, if you were lucky, a microwave which we didn't have at all. I never had a microwave until I was in my twenties, and I didn't have cable TV until I was in my late twenties.
I still remember having to pay for long distance on a landline, stopping to use a payphone when I was on a long trip, needing cash to buy practically everything because you could only use your ATM card to extract cash .
When I was born, gas was $0.34 per gallon. Where I live now, gas is $2.04 a gallon. The average cost of a new car was less than $3,000. A new car in 2017 is easily over $14,000, most even higher than that. The hourly wage was $1.60 an hour, and when I was able to work when I was sixteen, the hourly wage was $3.35.
In 1968, you could buy a new house for less than $15,000. Where I live today, it's not easy to find a house for less than $80,000, and those usually aren't in the best neighborhoods.
I didn't get a car when I turned sixteen or even when I graduated from high school. My first car I bought myself when I was twenty. Before that, I took the bus, walked, or rode with friends, but then taking the bus and walking was a lot safer than it is now.
In my teens, everyone knew everyone in the neighborhood, and the neighbors had no problem with ratting you out to your parents if you skipped school. Ask me how I know. The parents all watched out for one another's kids. Most nights and even weekends, we were home because movies and going out to eat were luxuries that didn't happen very often.
We had to find free ways to entertain ourselves, and that's what drew me to reading. I could check the books out from the library and read a dozen in one weekend. I still miss having that kind of time.
What do you remember about your childhood? What do you miss?
I write about killers a lot. When you write suspense, that's not unusual. In my latest suspense release, Last Showing, I introduced you to Stefan Greenwald, a particularly nasty guy who liked killing because he could. I won't tell you what happened to Stefan in my book because I'd like for you to read more about him first.
I like killing. I know what that makes me sound like, but it’s who I am. There’s just something about watching the life drain out of someone’s eyes. It makes me feel powerful. I like to hear them beg me to spare them. If they looked close enough into my eyes, they’d see it wasn’t going to happen. I’m not the sparing kind.
I’ll bet you think I started killing people when my mama walked out on me and Luther. You’d be wrong. It didn’t have anything to do with her. I think I was born this way. All I know is I’ve had this desire inside of me since way before I can remember. And I ain’t interested in it going away.
Having the power to allow someone to live or die is exhilarating. Of course I never let them live. That'd be too merciful, and mercy ain't ever done anything for me. Besides that, I can't leave behind witnesses. I have enough trouble keeping up with my dumb brother who, by the way, is the reason I was caught and sent to prison the first time.
Do I think the cops will get me again? I never really think about it. If it happens, it happens. I’ve already been to prison. I can go back. I killed people in there, too, and I got away with it. It’s hard to prove who killed an inmate when no one’s talking. And no one talked about me in prison. They knew better.
I suppose this will all have to end some day, but until then, I’m going to keep having fun. And before you think you’re safe, I ain’t particular about the women I kill. I’ve even taken out a few guys. No one is safe when I’m in their town. So you’d better hope the cops catch me again.
I've been interviewed by Lisa Haselton's Reviews, and with it, I included a special excerpt from my latest release, Last Showing. You can't get this excerpt anywhere else so check it out here.
And please let me know your thoughts in the comments on Lisa's blog.
Writing isn't a hobby for me. It's my dream. My goal. I can't imagine doing anything else, and while I could still write without readers, it wouldn't be half as much fun. Well, not really even a quarter. That's why, when I saw this post on bookmarket.com, I wanted to share it here. 51 Ways to Help a Book Author You Love.
I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate my readers. Your support means everything to me and to every author who sits behind a keyboard every night.
My thoughts, experiences, challenges, and goals. Right here. At least once a week or so. Oh, and opinions, too. Those will definitely come in. Join me!