Tag: published

Weekend Writing Warriors 3/23/14 #WeWriWa

Not My Thing coverThis week continues with the story from last week, “Not My Thing,” which will be released as a free short ebook by Evolved Publishing either later this month or early April.

When The Dancing Freemasons embark on their first major tour, Jeff’s dreams of being a rockstar have come true – until he can no longer connect with the music. One night after a show, he meets a woman who might be the one to get the music flowing again, but is the cost worth it?

Last week, he mentioned his band’s name and she responded, “Who?”

It’s getting cold, and the night air isn’t helping his headache, his missing sense of touring equilibrium. It’s time to go back in. Might as well end whatever this is before it gets much further. “Actually, I’m in the Dancing Freemasons.”

 

“I thought you looked kind of familiar,” the girl says as she finally turns to look at him. “I’ve never met a famous musician before.”

 

Jeff laughs. “Two seconds ago you said you’d never heard of my band, and now I’m famous?”

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

Weekend Writing Warriors 3/9/14 #WeWriWa

This week continues with the story from last week, “Not My Thing,” which will be released as a free short ebook by Evolved Publishing either later this month or early April.

Jeff is a drummer out on his first major tour, playing small clubs across the Midwest, but he’s come down with a bad case of writer’s (musician’s?) block and can’t get the songs to come out right.

Last week he met a girl in an alley after a show. It was a bit awkward.

A smile twitches across her lip. The vodka has begun flowing through Jeff’s veins, tamping his inhibitions; he feels encouraged to keep talking to her, but he can’t think of anything clever or funny to say, and he hates using the whole band thing as a pick-up line.

 

“So…” she says, hugging her arms around her body and shivering just a bit.

 

“Want my jacket?”

 

“I shouldn’t.”

 

“I don’t have cooties.” Who even says that anymore? She’s going to leave; he’s sure of it.

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

Weekend Writing Warriors 3/2/14 #WeWriWa

New month, new story. This time I’m pulling from a short story, “Not My Thing,” that’ll be released free from Evolved Publishing sometime in the near future.

Jeff is a drummer out on his first major tour, playing small clubs across the Midwest, but he’s come down with a bad case of writer’s (musician’s?) block and can’t get the songs to come out right.

In this excerpt, he’s just played a set and is in an alley outside the venue, where he meets a local woman.

He nods at her and says, “S’up.”
“Hey,” she says as she stares straight ahead, as if aware she shouldn’t be talking to strange guys in dark alleys.

 

“Want a light?”

 

Still staring ahead, she says, “I don’t smoke.”

 

“Me neither.”

 

She turns her head slightly, probably sizing him up. “But you offered me a light.”

 

“Then it’s a good thing you didn’t accept.”

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

Weekend Writing Warriors 2/23/14 #WeWriWa

Continuing with the love theme for February, and picking up where we left off last week, today’s excerpt is from “The Kindness of Strangers,” a short story I wrote for The Indiana Horror Anthology 2011.

In this story, Laura left her friend’s party after seeing her ex with another girl. It started raining as she was walking down the road, and a stranger offered her a ride and a chance to vent.  He then gave her a powder that would ensure no one bothered her ex again. Now she’s back at the party, looking for her ex.

She grabbed an abandoned cup of beer as she walked and dumped the packet’s contents into it. The beer fizzed, turned black, then amber again.

 
Laura walked into a bedroom and shut the door behind her. “Hi, Sam.”

 

Sam sat up and said, “Laura, how many times have I told you, we’re through!”

 

“You’re mine. You’ll always be mine.”

 

“I’m not yours, and I’ve told you to stay the hell away from me!”

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

Weekend Writing Warriors 2/16/14 #WeWriWa

Continuing with the love theme for February, and picking up where we left off last week, today’s excerpt is from “The Kindness of Strangers,” a short story I wrote for The Indiana Horror Anthology 2011.

In this story, Laura left her friend’s party after seeing her ex with another girl. It started raining as she was walking down the road, and Alec offered her a ride, and a chance to vent.  Last week he gave her a powder that would ensure no one bothered her ex again.

Alec gripped her wrist and said, “Give him the powder.”
Laura nodded.
Alec let go of her. She massaged her burning skin, and when she looked up, Alec and the car were gone; just Laura, standing on the edge of the road.
She turned, walked with deliberate steps back to the farmhouse. Inside the crowd had disappeared, only her friend Megan left sprawled on the couch.
“Laura, where have you been all night?” Megan asked as she sprung up from the couch.
Laura paused and said in a flat voice, “I’m going to get Sam back.”

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

Weekend Writing Warriors 2/9/14 #WeWriWa

Continuing with the love theme for February, and picking up where we left off last week, today’s excerpt is from “The Kindness of Strangers,” a short story I wrote for The Indiana Horror Anthology 2011.

In this story, Laura left her friend’s party after seeing her ex with another girl. It started raining as she was walking down the road, and Alec offered her a ride, and a chance to vent.

“If you can’t have him, no one should, right?”
“Exactly,” Laura agreed, still lost in Alec’s eyes.

 

“I have just what you need,” he said as he opened the glove box and pulled out a small paper packet. “Put this powder in his drink, and no one will ever bother him again.”

 

“It won’t hurt him, will it?”

 

Alec turned to her, stared into her eyes. Why had she thought his were black? His irises were yellow; a wolf’s eyes.

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

Weekend Writing Warriors 2/2/14 #WeWriWa

It’s apparently February. Already. How is it already February??

Okay, enough of that. Since February is the month of love, today’s excerpt is from “The Kindness of Strangers,” a short story I wrote for The Indiana Horror Anthology 2011. It features one of my few recurring characters, a guy named Alec who makes a brief uncredited cameo in “Tim and Sara” as well as several as-yet unpublished stories.

In this story, Laura left her friend’s party after seeing her ex with another girl. It started raining as she was walking down the road, and Alec offered her a ride.

Laura couldn’t tear her gaze away from Alec’s. She’d never seen eyes like his before, two black holes sucking her in. “He broke up with me, said I was too unstable for a relationship.”

 

“That hardly seems fair.”

 

Laura found herself pouring out the story: her devotion to Sam, their unexpected break-up, her attempts to get back together, his refusal to have anything to do with her, her anger at seeing him with other girls. “He’s doing it on purpose, in front of me, just to rub my nose in the fact that I can’t have him,” she concluded.

 

“And that makes you angry, right, because you deserve him and no one else does?” Alec’s eyes gleamed.

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website. And come back next week, because Alec has a plan for Laura.

Weekend Writing Warriors 1/26/14 #WeWriWa

ustogethercoverToday’s excerpt comes from a story I wrote awhile back, “Of Gods and Floods,” that’s included in my short story collection Us, Together. The story is about two kids living in southern Illinois and Missouri when a massive flood hits.

“Ritchie,” Granddaddy would say to me every year, “who created the world?”
“God did, Granddaddy.”

 

“And who floods it?”

 

“Well, my teacher said it ain’t nobody’s fault, just the snow melting up in Minnesota with no other place to go.”

 

“Your teacher’s an idjit.” He paused, sucked on his teeth, then said, “Mother Nature floods us in Cairo, and you know why?”

 

Of course I knew why, but I didn’t want to ruin his story, so I said, “No, why?”

 

“Cuz no matter if’n it be a woman on Earth or a woman in Heaven, she gonna do what she can to make her man look a fool!”

Read the rest of the story in the collection, just $.99 at Amazon, then post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

Author Interview: Jonathan Brookes

This week I chatted with Jonathan Brookes, author of the thriller novella Relic.

Warfare has entered a new era. The cold war is long over. Battleships, bombers, and tanks, the big iron of twentieth century military might, have taken a back seat to unmanned drones, IEDs, and suicide bombers. Fueled by cutting edge biotechnology, in a world where Dr. Strangelove politics and Jurassic Park science collide, the military embarks on a desperate project to seek out and destroy enemy combatants on their home turf.

Disturbingly close to the truth, Relic describes a world in which human soldiers are replaced with something much deadlier, and much more uncontrollable, with consequences that could spell the end of humanity as we know it.

reliccoverMe: Your book focuses a lot on genetic research. How plausible do you think your story is?

Jonathan: I believe it is plausible based on the research I’ve done. There are currently efforts in the scientific community to clone/resurrect wooly mammoths and perhaps other extinct species of animals. It’s not a stretch to clone a complex mammal like a human or Neanderthal.

Me: Do you think the government and private contractors are attempting it as we speak?

Jonathan: Perhaps not today, but in 10 years maybe. Certainly, cloning a mammal has been done before some years ago with Dolly the sheep. There’s a small team that was advertising for a volunteer surrogate to carry a Neanderthal to term. It’s a fringe group and most scientists don’t support the effort for moral ethical reasons. I can get you the specifics if you like.

Me: No, that’s okay. I’m not planning on cloning anything or anyone. And my readers can research it themselves.

Jonathan: Okay. I don’t know how much detail you need. Harvard geneticist George Church is the scientist who was trying to do this

Me: Let’s discuss your characters. It seems like none of them are completely good or completely bad; rather, they’re driven by a goal, and they’ll do anything to reach it. Is that something that was intentional, or did it just turn out that way?

Jonathan: Okay, the characters… Goal oriented characters was intentional — most real people are like that. There’s always some motivation that drives a person to do something. Even someone who believes they’re all good or all bad never really are like that all the time.

Me: I felt like I could identify with just about all your characters, even with how diverse they were. Have other readers voiced that?

Jonathan: I’m still waiting for a reader, any reader, to comment on the story. You’re the first, not including my editor.

Me: I definitely enjoyed it. While it had a lot of sciency stuff in it, it was really accessible for a layperson who doesn’t have a genetic or military background.

Jonathan: Yes, one of my goals was to make the science accessible. I dislike sci-fi that delves so deep into the science that I feel like I’m taking a college course. I want science to enable the story, not be the story.

Me: I think you captured that well.

Jonathan: Thank you.

Me: Next question: Jonathan Brooks is a character in your story. Why did you choose to write yourself in?

Jonathan: I’m thinking of sequels.  I wanted to have enough loose ends to go in a few different directions with the next books. Originally that wasn’t the plan, but as I wrote it made sense to me to have this rogue character who leaks the project info to another author. Now he’s on the run.

Me: One of my questions for you was going to be about sequels, because just about all the characters could have one. Are you currently working on one, or is it just something to look for in the general future?

Jonathan: I’m in the planning stage for the next sequel. I probably will start writing after the new year. Right now, I would like to write a book per year. It took me less than a year to write this first book. I think I should be able to pull it off. Of course, I may be optimistic.

Me: I think we all set optimistic schedules for ourselves, and then life gets in the way.

Jonathan: I tend to write in bursts. For example, this novel relic was mostly written over a two-month period.  Then lots and lots of editing after that. Yeah, life, mine is getting less complicated. My son is heading off to college next year so my wife and I will be empty nesters.

Me: So plenty of time to write.

Jonathan: I hope so.

Me: Will you be writing more political thrillers like Relic and its sequels, or do you plan to focus on another genre?

Jonathan: For now I plan to stay in this genre, but who knows, I may write something else. I didn’t originally plan to write in this genre; it just sort of happened. It feels comfortable for me.

Me: What did you initially want to write?

Jonathan: What did I originally want to write? …. hmmmm. Not sure how to answer that. I’ve spent many years writing technical documents, etc. I wanted to see if I could write something entertaining. I used to write when I was in college. I got my B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering and computer science, but I minored in theater arts. I really enjoyed theater but knew I couldn’t make a living at it. Now, thirty years later, I have the financial luxury of being able to slow down my career and do some writing.

Me: I had a college math professor who minored in creative writing, but felt the same way – he couldn’t make a living at it. It definitely made him a more rounded person, not focusing just on numbers.

Jonathan: Yeah, it’s like scientists and engineers who are also musicians.

Me: Have you kept up with the theater arts/creative side of yourself, or did you focus solely on technical stuff?

Jonathan: I happen to be an engineer who writes. For about ten years after I graduated college, I stayed active in theater by being involved in community theater. I was mostly involved in lighting design but also did scene construction.

Me: The technical parts.

Jonathan: I acted only once. I had the part of Steve in “Say Goodnight, Gracie” by Ralph Pape my senior year at Northeastern.

Me: Any plans for more acting, or will you stick to writing? And any desire to write scripts?

Jonathan: Screenplays perhaps. I had that in mind as I wrote Relic. There’s a lot of dialog

Me: Yeah, the story moves quickly.

Jonathan: I imagined the story sort of in movie form as I wrote.

Me: I could see it making a good film.

Jonathan: Got to find a studio, eh?

Me: Yeah, if only it were that easy.

Jonathan: Ha. When I first started writing I was much more descriptive. Lots of narration. The critiques shot it down, said I needed to do more showing and less telling, so I switched to dialog.

Me: I think for a thriller like Relic, more action and dialogue works better. Although introspection would’ve been interesting too, to see how the characters view their actions. But you could probably show a lot of that in sequels focusing more closely on various people.

Jonathan: Yeah, my editor wanted me to delve more deeply into the minds of the characters, wanted me to explore what made them tick. I thought that would make the story drag. It’s a balancing act.

Me: Definitely. Why did you go the self-publishing route?

Jonathan: Good question…Not sure if I have a good answer. I can get impatient

Me: It’s a personal decision, so whatever your answer, it’ll be a good one.

Jonathan: I wanted to write a quality book, but I didn’t want to shop it around for 5 years. Since it took me less than a year to write, I didn’t want it to sit on a shelf. I ‘m not in this for the money; It’s a personal endeavor. I’m doing it for my pleasure

Me: That’s a great reason to write.

Jonathan: If folks read it, then that’s good. In fact, I’d even be happy if folks hated the book; at least they read it.

Me: How easy did you find the process? Would you self-publish your next book?

Jonathan: The mechanics of self-pubbing is very easy, especially for ebooks, kindle. I focused on publishing as a paper book first. I went through CreateSpace because they have top-notch tools and support for creating the finished product. The process also slowed me down so that I would not “pull the trigger” prematurely and publish without first reading and rereading the text. It made me think. Going straight to kindle is too easy.

Me: Do you think you’ll have the same hesitation next time?

Jonathan:  Hesitation?

Me: Checking and rechecking.

Jonathan: That wasn’t hesitation. It was the right thing to do. I found a lot of mistakes by doing all that rereading.

Me: It paid off; I don’t think I caught any mistakes in the version I read.

Jonathan: There’s one grammatical error, very subtle.

Me: Shh, don’t tell me if I didn’t notice.

Jonathan: But I know it’s there. I had several other folks read the manuscript before pubbing. Beta readers. They found mistakes and stuff. Having several folks read it was good. Each person found different problems and had different opinions. However, none of them read the final version.

Me: They did a good job. Any final thoughts to offer about your book?

Jonathan:  One thing we didn’t touch upon in the interview was why I gave the book that title “Relic”. What do Neanderthal DNA and Morse code have in common? They’re both artifacts of bygone days that somehow still capture our attention and imagination.

All through the book there are references to historical artifacts: Morse code, Neanderthals, General Holbrooke’s personality, sailing ships, out-of-date warfare tactics and equipment, people who are past their prime but still exerting an influence. Artifacts like that are all around us in real life and still capture our attention and imagination. Artifacts that not only claim our attention but can alter our lives. There’s some mystical power that certain artifacts have. Some folks call it nostalgia. Whatever it is, these artifacts still exert some power over people.

Me: Okay, last question: what tips do you have for writers who want to publish?

Jonathan: Tips? Hmmmm. Make sure you have a quality product. Be proud of what you write, what you deliver.

Relic is available through Amazon as both an ebook and in print.

And the winners are…

I just finished up a big contest to celebrate launch week, giving away two signed print copies and 3 ebook copies of my novel, The Lone Wolf. The results are in:

Print winners: Naomi and Sarah

Ebook winners: Heather, Heidi, and Becky

Congrats to the winners! And thanks so much to everyone who participated – now that you’re connected to my updates somehow, you’ll have a competitive edge the next time a contest roles around. :)

If you’d like to get even more insight and prizes, consider joining the Evolved Publishing Street Team. In return for spreading the word about EP, you get sneak peaks on upcoming novels, special giveaways, and the ear of your favorite writers. Win-win all around!

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