Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Murphy's Law

Due to unforeseen circumstances, I have no choice but to delay the release of Until My Soul Gets It Right and remove it from amazon and BN.com.

I will announce the new release date as soon as I know more.

In the meantime, please come back on Friday for Flash Fiction Fridays and Camille LaGuire's interesting take on the story of "Jack and the Beanstalk."

Monday, May 28, 2012

In Memoriam

On this Memorial Day in the US, I am thinking of the men and women who have protected us when our country needed it the most, and, especially about their families, who suffered a great many sacrifices.

Thank you.





Friday, May 25, 2012

Flash Fiction Fridays: Meet Clara


Clara
By Karen Wojcik Berner


When Clara Elbert peeled potatoes, she did so with a vengeance, tearing off every little piece of skin, wishing someone would invent a machine for it, like that apple-peeler-corer thingamajig she had seen it in a catalog once. Now that would be useful. Too bad it was just for apples. How many pies could you make anyhow? ’Cept for Peter, who would eat a bushel a day if he could, no one much liked apples in this family.

She dug at an abnormally large eye, a mixture of water and starch dripping through her fingers. Wonder if Hank could rig something up? He was good that way, gadgety, always makin’ things run smoother.

The amount of food consumed on this farm in one day could feed one of them African villages for a week. Three huge meals, plus some snack like cookies or brownies just to get them through the day. Seven days a week. Three hundred and sixty-five days a year. More on holidays.

But that’s my job, she thought, so she got to it, sprinkling salt, pepper and a dash of garlic powder over the red chunk of beef in the black, speckled oval pan. Roast beef, mashed potatoes and homemade gravy, not from a jar, or worse, from a packet, corn, defrosted from last year’s harvest, and biscuits. Maybe tear up some lettuce, grab a tomato or two, and put together some salad with ranch dressing.




Right from the get-go, Catherine was different. At first, Clara thought it was because it was a girl baby, and she was used to raising boys. But, no, it was just Catherine. She’d gurgle out her little “feed me” cry, Clara would run to tend to her, then Catherine would spit up all over her.

Russell and Peter, well, they would let Clara cuddle them, rock them, tussle with them. Their sister? Gave her a pacifier, and she threw it across the room, screamin' her fool heart out. The way that child yelled!

In the fall, a change of address card with a picture of some lighthouse on it came in the mail, like they were nothing more than names in her address book. No call to say she arrived safely. Who knows what she’s livin’ in? Clara supposed that was what praying was for. Every Sunday, she asked God to watch over her fool daughter and keep her safe.

Clara reached in the cabinet for the dinner plates and began setting the table. The men would be in soon.



Clara Elbert is a character from my upcoming novel, Until My Soul Gets It Right, which will be released on May 30th. For more information about The Bibliophiles series, please visit my website

Monday, May 21, 2012

Are You a Bibliophile?


As you probably know, my series, The Bibliophiles, is about the members of an American suburban classics book club. Each novel spotlights one or two Bibliophiles and tells the story of their lives up until joining.

For example, A Whisper to a Scream is about Sarah, an overwhelmed, stay-at-home mom, and Annie, a P.R. executive dealing with fertility issues. Until My Soul Gets It Right follows Catherine Elbert as she bounces from coast to coast in search of her true self.

They might be completely different people, but all of the characters share a love of reading and discussing the classics.

Do you have what it takes to join Edwina Hipplewhite and her Bibliophiles for their monthly meetings?

Take this quick quiz and find out.

1. Whenever you walk into a bookstore you…

  • head straight for the fiction stacks?
  • get sidetracked by the magazines?
  • I don’t go to bookstores.

2. On your bookshelves, whether they are physical or on your e-reader device, are there…

  • so many books, you can’t help yourself?
  • games?
  • Bookshelves? I thought those things in my house were for family photos.

3. When relaxing on the beach, your favorite thing to do is…

  • READ!
  • play beach volleyball and spike it at my sibling’s face?
  • drink beverages with tiny, colorful umbrellas in them while napping intermittently?

4. Do you carry a book or e-reader with you wherever you go?

  • Of course! One never knows when there might be time to read a few pages.
  • Only if I can remember it.
  • Oh, heck no.

5. When you ponder a world without books, which answer is closest to your reaction?

  • What? A world without books? It is unfathomable.
  • Wait, what will all the movies be based on now?
  • Who cares? There is still television.

Scoring

If you answered mostly As, welcome, kindred spirit. The Bibliophiles would greet you with open arms.

If you answered a mixture of As and Bs, you have potential. Just stay away from the readers at the beach.

If you answered all Cs, I guess it doesn’t matter, because you are probably not even reading this blog.

So, how did you do?


Friday, May 18, 2012

Flash Fiction Fridays: Undecided




The End of the Line
By Mary Langer Thompson


When the bus arrived in San Diego at 10:00 p.m., Matt and Melissa were exhausted from the five-hour ride. Matt tried to give a tip to the bus driver for his skillful driving through the fog, but the driver said, “Keep it, son. I have a feeling you might need it.”

Melissa peered inside the station. No place to sit. Matt said, “Let me check my phone outside here. I didn’t check it on the bus. I didn’t want anyone to look over my shoulder and guess what we’re doing.”

“But I’m so tired,” Melissa said. “I couldn’t sleep on that bus. Too nervous.”

“Let me check where we are so we can call Jack and Susan and give them directions to pick us up. Check again and see if there’s an empty seat. I saw a couple come out.”

Melissa started to walk into the station. Then she turned back to Matt. “First call your folks and tell them we’re okay and got to church camp safely. I’ll call mine later.”




“I hate lying,” Matt said.

“They won’t like the truth,” Melissa said. “Besides, we’re eighteen.”

Inside, Melissa found a bench, sat down, and plopped her denim backpack next to her. She patted it, then leaned over and put her head on top of it. Soon she was fast asleep.

Matt’s voice woke her. “Melissa, Jack and Sue aren’t home. There’s a Motel 6 across the street. I saved up for this weekend, so why don’t we just go check in there so you can get some real sleep?”

“Okay,” Melissa said. “Did you get your parents?”

“Yes. Did you call yours?”

“I fell asleep. Let me do it now.”

**********

On the walk to the motel, Melissa and Matt met a couple with a little boy walking the opposite way. The man asked Matt for directions to the zoo. Matt offered to look up the directions on his phone, but the man said he wasn’t going until morning, so not to worry.

Walking on, Melissa said, “What a sweet family. That kid was well behaved. And cute.
Notice how soft and smooth his skin was.”

“Yeah, maybe someday. . . .”

“Maybe, but no more than one or two for me.”

“Really?  I’m an only, so I wouldn’t mind three or four.”

“I hope they’re all as well-mannered as that little kid,” Melissa said.

**********

At the desk, Matt asked for two rooms.

“We have one left,” said the woman. “It’s a three-day weekend. You’re lucky we have any.” She added, “It has two queen-sized beds.”

“We’ll take it,” Melissa said quickly. Then she looked at Matt. “I’m pooped, and that egg sandwich on the bus…well, I don’t feel so hot.”

**********

Once in the room, Matt watched Melissa toss her backpack on the floor.

“Yikes, put that on your bed,” he warned.

“Why?”

“Bedbugs.” You’re less likely to pick up bedbugs if you don’t put your stuff on the floor. I read it.”

Melissa crawled into her bed.

“I wonder where Jack and Sue are?” Matt said. When he looked at Melissa, she was sound asleep.

**********

The next morning, Melissa was awakened by a call from Sue.

“We’re in the Motel 6 across the street from the bus station,” said Melissa. “You were there at 10:30? You just missed us. Why didn’t you call? Okay. It’s right across the street.”

“They forgot their cell phone at home,” Melissa told the newly awakened Matt. “Do you mind if I shower first? They’ll be here in about an hour, Sue said, and then we can go over the list of names at breakfast and choose one. Sue and Jack’s guy is no longer in business, so we’ll have to go by any name that sounds good.”

**********

Melissa put up her hand before the waitress poured the coffee. “I still don’t feel that great after last night,” she announced.

“Order anything on the menu,” said Jack. “After missing you guys last night and the money you’re going to have to pay, because it isn’t cheap, this is our treat.”

“I hope you’re not scared about the procedure,” said Sue. “It doesn’t hurt, and you’ll look great afterwards.”

“Yeah, Sue’s face looked a little pale afterwards,” said Jack. “But isn’t she beautiful
now?”

“You have great color,” said Melissa to Sue, “and we’re lucky you’re here with us for support.”

“We both feel the decision was the best for us,” said Jack. “Sue kept her job; there were no problems.  We’re happy, and we’d both do it again.”

“Yeah, but you guys are married and don’t live with parents you had to lie to,” said Matt.

“Parents are usually cooler than you think,” said Jack. “At least we’re going to be cool parents when we finally decide to have kids. Right, honey?” He looked at Sue.

A couple came up and stood by their table.

“Hi, you two,” the woman said, looking from Jack to Sue.

The list of names sat by Melissa’s plate.

Before Jack or Sue could make introductions, the woman, pointing to the paper, asked, “Are you taking them to one of these guys?”

“Yes,” Sue said. “As soon as they pick a name they’re comfortable with.”

The woman put her finger on one of the names.“This one is mine, and he has a great reputation. I’d do it all again. You’ll be so happy when it’s over.”

The man interjected, “Yeah, well I’m not ecstatic. I think it was a stupid decision. We almost split up, and now I have to live with what she’s done every day.”

Matt and Melissa looked at the woman again, and then at each other. Matt, quickly lifted his backpack, got up, and grabbed Melissa by the hand.

“Oh, come on, you’ll be fine…” Jack said.

Before he could finish, Matt and Melissa were gone, leaving the list of tattoo artists sitting on the table.



Mary Langer Thompson's articles, short stories, and poems have been in numerous anthologies and journals. She has an essay in Women on Poetry (McFarland). She lives in Apple Valley, California, with her husband, Dave, and is a proud member of the High Desert branch of the California Writer's Club. To learn more about Mary, visit her website.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Attention Nook Owners

Big news! You all know that my second novel, Until My Soul Gets It Right (The Bibliophiles: Book Two) is coming out in two weeks, right?

Well, if you own a Nook, you have a chance for a sneak peek today!


I am running a promotion in conjunction with that fantastic Nook books site, The-Cheap.net, exclusively for Nook customers to pick up Until My Soul Gets It Right (The Bibliophiles: Book Two) before its official May 30th release. And I am giving away ten copies to celebrate.

Just stop by The-Cheap.net for your chance to win and tell us why you love contemporary women's fiction in the comment section.

The-Cheap.net is a great source for reasonably prices Nook books. Check it out today!


On another note...


Today is National Flash Fiction Day in the UK. Check out their blog for all of the latest flash fiction news, including The Flash Flood Journal pouring out stories all day, an Internet Write-In, and Flash Tag flash mobbing in Manchester throughout the day. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Wish I was there. Of course, I wish I was in the UK every day for various reasons, but that is another story for another time. Here is your chance to read some great pieces of flash.



Monday, May 14, 2012

Editing for Grammarphobes: Possessives


Today's Editing for Grammarphobes comes to us courtesy of that fun little grammar book, The Bugaboo Review, by Sue Sommer.

Possessive nouns have apostrophes.

the Jones'
children's
parents'
teams'
George's


Possessive pronouns do not have apostrophes.

hers
his
ours
its
theirs
yours



Friday, May 11, 2012

Flash Fiction Fridays: The Chase




Parallax the Rogue
By Michael Robb Mathias Jr.

His name was Parallax, and he was a rogue. The horses behind him didn't have a chance. They all still had riders. This wasn't a track race anymore though. This was Parallax's great escape. The men chasing after him were doing so for his own good. He had jumped the fence again, and after crossing the creek on the back forty, he was heading for the blacktop. The other horses had been chasing him for a long time, but they were losing their wind and falling away now.

The one thin cattle fence between the dangerous two lane highway and the pasture was coming up and Parallax was galloping like the wind toward it. They had to stop him or something terrible could happen; and not just to the animal. A sedan full of teenagers or a family minivan could end up a memory if there was a collision.

The distance was closing; a hundred yards, now fifty. The sound of a big truck blasted like a foghorn over the screeching of tires, and the low gurgle of air brakes. The attentive driver had seen the horse, and even with his lightning quick reaction, he doubted he had been fast enough.

Parallax didn't see the careening semi. He was too intent on leaving the others behind. He started into his leap, a leap that would land him on the other side of the fence, right in the middle of the road.

As the truck sounded out its warning, Parallax jumped, but he never had a chance to leave the ground. An eager gray shot across his path, the rider hollering and waving his hat around crazily. Parallax balked and skidded into the barbed wire in a cloud of red dust, not because he had been startled, but because another horse on the grounds had caught up to him. Ignoring the cuts the fence had left in his flank, he gathered his step and charged after the other animal curiously.

Her name was Scoundrella, and she was fast. The trainer was cursing because Parallax needed stitches and was supposed to race the next day at the state track. The assistant riding Scoundrella suggested letting her run in the upcoming event in his stead, and since she had managed to run down the rogue, the trainer agreed.





It was an exciting race and the gray mare won handily, even breaking Parallax's record time on the turf. Rumors began to spread about her. Word was getting around. Soon the talk of the track and stables was all about which of them would win in the upcoming Derby. Parallax didn't seem concerned. He strutted like the champion he was, and as his cuts healed, he seemed to understand the challenge before him. He ran the training oval with alarming enthusiasm, and he pushed himself relentlessly.

Scoundrella trained well too. She took to the turf track like a gambler to a bet. Amazingly, she continued to improve her gait and soon she was posting times that only Parallax was capable of matching in a race. Wagers were placed, some very large. Important people were coming in from far and near to watch the spectacle. Parallax was the favorite of the fans and bettors, and the trainer agreed that he was the faster of the two. But he secretly placed all his money on the gray mare.

The day of the race the grandstands were packed with excited screaming people. The anticipation was so thick that you could put a handful of it your pocket and take it home if you wanted to. At the post parade, Parallax pranced proudly. He had been there before and had won. He knew the cheers were for him. Scoundrella was nervous which caused more people to put money on the rogue, and thus made her payout odds go higher. The trainer gave the mare a nervous glance, but decided that he had made the right choice. When it was time to go to the starting gate, he had to let them go with their jockeys. This left him uneasy, as he watched with his bet ticket clenched tightly in his hand.

There were other horses in the race too, but no one seemed to pay them any mind. Soon the animals were all in the gates. The bell went off and the horses all burst free, each trying to charge in front of the other. Parallax let the gray lead him and just held his pace steady. It was a long way around the track, and he knew that if he pressed her, he might tire her, and then gain the advantage at the end. Leaving the first turn they were neck in neck, and three lengths ahead of the pack. Parallax felt as if he could run forever. He felt Scoundrella lagging and knew he could win the race, the problem was, he could see the open pasture beyond the chain link fence at the far end of the course.

With a snort of triumph, he scoffed at the gray, and lowered his head. He bolted down the straight away with an unimaginable burst of speed. As Scoundrella started into the second turn, Parallax kept going forward. He was going to make a run for it. The six foot tall fence didn't intimidate him in the least. Beyond it was freedom, open field as far as the eye could see.

The crowd groaned as Parallax threw his rider and left the track. The trainer yelled and cheered, but only for an instant. As Parallax leapt for the great height of the fence, another horse leapt beside him. Scoundrella was making a break for it too. She wasn't about to let her stallion get away from her.

His name was Parallax, and he was a rogue.


©2010 Michael Robb Mathias Jr.


M.R. Mathias is the author of the best-selling Wardstone Trilogy and the Dragoneer Saga. To learn more about Michael, please visit his website.


Photo courtesy of www.composing nows.com.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Edit, Proofread, Repeat


Good Monday to you, dear readers.

Outside my window, it is gray with spotty rain showers—the perfect writing day. However, today is all about proofing. I have the second round of corrections for the e-book version of Until My Soul Gets It Right (available May 30) to look over, followed by the first round from the paperback designers. Exciting, but intense.

Recently, I redesigned my website. Click here to see the new version. It is more focused on The Bibliophiles as a series, as opposed to just A Whisper to a Scream as a stand-alone novel.




I also started a new Facebook page, again to focus more on all of my work instead of just Whisper. I hope you will stop by and click LIKE for all of the latest Bibliophiles news.

What are you working on today?

Here's to a productive week for us all!



Friday, May 4, 2012

Flash Fiction Fridays: Warm Nights



September in Medford
By Wesley Jacques

The summer was getting away, so we ran to the roof with tequila and a six-pack of PBR to chase it, holding on dearly for another night. Shane strummed a chord or two on an out-of-tune guitar while sitting on a milk crate. I sat on the ground and hummed and air-drummed. There was a song we had in mind, not the same song, but it didn't seem to matter much as neither of us had yet grasped a full melody.

We met somewhere between Willie Nelson and Jeff Buckley, and I was fine with that.

Shane apparently wasn't. He jumped up, dropped the guitar and startled the sun into setting a minute or two sooner than it would have—I swear it. Then, he angrily proclaimed ownership over the night. He did so every three days or so—with a toast or a shot or a strange little dance where he churned invisible butter with both his hands, following through with his hips.




This time, he yelled three stories down to a girl on the sidewalk and accidentally spilled some Pabst half a yard behind her.

The top of her head was pretty, he told me when he sat back down on the milk crate.

"What the fuck, creep!" she screamed up at me when I leaned over to look, a beer in one hand, one-third of a bottle of tequila in the other, a stupid grin on my mug.

"It's our night!" I yelled back, meekly echoing Shane's corny sentiment. "Come up!"

Shane laughed. The smell of booze on his breath sailed the warm night air as he cackled for nearly twenty-minutes. He smelled like the sort of bum that would tell you jokes in Harvard Square for loose change. He smelled and looked like a madman. End-of-summer madness.

The girl never came. We'd mostly forgotten about her soon enough.

But later on, there was another girl at a bar on Highland that Shane swore had the same head. She didn't understand the compliment but it was said with the confidence that a lot of girls find attractive when last call creeps close. So Shane crept closer and sniffed the top of her head. She cooed.

They left the bar together. I left alone soon after, taking the long way home with a sloppy strut.

I hadn't been a schoolboy for several years and like many grownups, had work tomorrow and the day after just as I had work earlier today and the day before—but somehow, I'd caught the first day jitters.

I'd felt it in my throat on the roof earlier, and I'd felt it in the bar. Now I was sick.

I faked eleven tummy aches in my whole life. I counted them while I vomited on a tree outside my apartment. The first four times, four separate first days from second grade to fifth, were the most believable I think. My mom coddled me for the day, and I ate soup in my briefs and watched daytime talk shows until cartoons came on.

The seventh time, or maybe the eighth, I escaped a spelling quiz with "facetious" on it.

The last time was just to convince Shane his meatloaf sucked. It was actually pretty good. That was three days ago. I could still taste it.

I threw up again. Then I could see it. It sort of looked like autumn.



Wesley Jacques has been writing short fiction for twenty years, not to be discredited by the fact that he’s only twenty-three. Born in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York, to Haitian immigrant parents, he was raised within the web of group homes, foster homes and other non-homes. He has an MA in English Literature and is currently working on a novel, tentatively titled A Native Sun. He writes the television review and culture blog Ears of a Rabbit.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Countdown Begins

Here is a sneak peek at the cover of my new novel, Until My Soul Gets It Right, which will be released in paperback and e-versions on May 30. Feel free to click on the picture for a better look.