Deadly Ever After

Archive for the month “September, 2013”

Ultraviolet Catastrophe by Jamie Grey

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Jamie Grey’s Ultraviolet Catastrophe released on September 24.  If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, here’s an excerpt:

I chewed my lip as Major Grant’s explanation started weaving through my brain. It all matched up with what Dad had hinted at. So far. “Branston was doing horrible experiments. To me, that’s a perfect reason Dad’d take me and run. Why hold a spot for me at the school?”

“That’s classified information. What I can say is that just because your dad wasn’t a good fit for Branston, doesn’t mean you aren’t.”

“Uh-uh. I need more answers than it’s classified.”

“Come with me, Lexie. Let me show you Branston firsthand. If you don’t like it, we’ll send you back to Quantum High, no hard feelings.” He smiled reassuringly.

I frowned. How stupid did he think I was?

“I’m sorry you think that, Lexie,” he said, like he was reading my mind. Grant pulled a syringe of clear liquid from his pocket. The Branston logo was etched into the glass vial. “This serum is something I created just for you. It will disable the tracking nanobots QT injected you with, so they won’t be able to find you or wipe you. You’ll be safe.”

I shook my head. “They weren’t tracking bots, and I don’t want anything to do with Branston. Or you.”

Grant frowned and sighed. “Poor Lexie. Lied to again. I’d hoped we could do this the easy way.” His hand shot out and grabbed my arm, and with his free hand, he flicked the cover off the syringe and jammed it into my bicep.

Fire exploded through my arm, and I let out a yelp, bucking and jerking against his grip. But his fingers felt like steel against my skin, and a moment later, everything went fuzzy.

He got to his feet, bringing me with him. “We’re going to take a little trip, Alexa. I think it’s time you experience Branston for yourself.” He slipped an arm around me, holding me firmly to his side.

My head swam from whatever drugs he’d injected, and my muscles felt rubbery. I could barely hold myself upright as he pulled me toward the front door.

“Lexie? Everything alright?” Coco asked, her eyes widening with concern.

Grant nodded as we passed. “She’s not feeling well. I’m taking her outside for some air.”

I tried to struggle against him, but it felt like too much work. “Let me go,” I yelled, but my voice was barely a whisper.

“Muscle weakness is a side effect of the drugs as they destroy the nanobots. You’ll feel fine in a few minutes.” Grant smiled down at me. “I wish you wouldn’t struggle. You’re going to love Branston.”

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Summer Shorts: PLASTIC PIECES

I can’t even with how incredible this idea is. Rob Kristoffersen has a singular mind, and misses nothing.

Alana Of Oz

PLASTIC PIECES

by Robert Kristoffersen

 

 

In a circle sat seven individuals, all here for healing.

All of them suffered from the traumatic nature of being a toy.

Where imagination was encouraged in the human race, these seven

were the means by which the children of the world experimented.

To them, it was utterly terrifying, but that was their purpose

and the being(s) that made them consciously aware, what kind of

sick joke was that?

“Before we begin this Toys Support Group meeting, we should

begin with the healing mantra. Let’s all say it together.”

A humanoid shaped – a plastic man headed up these meetings.

His reputation among the toy community was the same as his name

and his appearance: Clean. Height wise, he appeared to be godlike

to fellow toys. He towered over Barbie by a good six inches

or so. His white pants and shirt were…

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Lindsay Cummings Makes Me Giddy: A Review of RUNNING HOME

TODAY’S BREW: Tea. I need to calm down from all of my ridiculous giddiness.

By Julie

I adore Lindsay E. Cummings, formerly known as Lindsay Pate, and really admire her writing abilities. Go read the short story series. THE MECHANICAL HEART she wrote with Corey Seeley, and see what I mean: http://lpate85.blogspot.com/2013/01/mechanical-heart-part-1-by-corey-seeley.html?spref=tw
So when she gushed like THIS over my book, I was jumping for joy. Thank you, Lindsay. I couldn’t be prouder to have you in my corner.

The Splendor of “Running Home”

By: Lindsay Cummings

I will begin this entry by apologizing for my ridiculously long departure from my blog and everything social media. My excuse is my wedding. It had to be planned and perfected, requiring much attention and love. Now I am back and so is my voracious appetite for reading and writing.

Recently the ever amazing and brilliant Julie Hutchings released her debut novel, “Running Home”. I promptly downloaded it. Being a fan of hers and genuinely liking her as a person, it was a no-brainer for me to read her book. Low and behold the same day I downloaded her novel, another book I had pre-ordered revealed itself on my Kindle. Normally this would not deter me; however, I had been all but salivating over its arrival.

I ogled both titles, knowing I had a decision to make. The pre-ordered novel glistened and coaxed me to read it first. I regretfully put Julie’s novel aside…Just for one more week.

I read the pre-ordered book in a matter of two days. I was completely let down. An author, that will remain nameless, had released a new Paranormal Romance novel. Though this genre differed from her usual Contemporary Romance books, I had extremely high hopes. As I finished the last few words in the novel, I was utterly disenchanted.

I bitched and moaned to my husband that after all of my waiting and patience, the book was rushed and underdeveloped. A crime if you ask me.

Hoping to cheer up my despondent heart, I picked up Julie’s book. Not really knowing what to expect, my eyes immediately latched on to her words and did not let go. She had me hooked from page one until the end.

Honestly, I am a lover of all genres. I do believe that Paranormal Romance is probably one of the hardest to perfect and make distinctive. Julie achieved this and then some. She found a flow that crossed between Horror and Paranormal Romance. It provoked thoughts and feelings, while sending shivers down my spine. The novel kept me guessing at mostly every turn, and was so beautifully created that I sighed in relief.

Running_Home

This novel was what I had been looking for. Running Home is everything I had wanted to feel from the other book and then some. I was so proud of my dazzling friend for writing one of the most unique and well written books I have read all year. Her ideas were exceptional and so were her exquisitely developed characters. Just enough fear, lust and wonder to keep me hanging on every word.

The furtive Nicholas French and the distraught Eliza Morgan find themselves drawn together in a sea of inexplicable awareness and adoration for one another. The blending of modern day vampirism and ancient Japanese culture is imaginative and vivid.

*This may not be a traditional review, as I am not by any means a book reviewer. But as a reader and a writer, I had to give credit where credit is due. Thank you Mrs. Hutchings for renewing my faith in Vampires everywhere.

Please click the link to purchase Running Home on Amazon…NOW! : http://t.co/wXBPE87nMX

Flash Fiction Friday: BLOOD BORN by Chynna Blue Scott

TODAY’S BREW: Pumpkin Spice because cliches.

By Julie
poetic
You are familiar with our honorary third member of The Undead Duo, Chynna-Blue Scott. This young woman has writing chops like nobody’s business. Her words are sorta crack-like for me. Not butt crack, the other kind. I never did crack, but you know. In any case, this beautiful girl mentioned that she wanted me to read a novel she has finished, BLOOD BORN, and she tells me constantly how awful it is. Literally, my fingers could not move fast enough to tell her how much I wanted to read it. She is such a diamond of a thing, and I guarantee her book is, too. I am absolutely honored to give her my input on how to make it gleam and rise above anything else in the genre.

But still, she worries. So I am doing THIS. Here we have an excerpt from BLOOD BORN, the second she has released into the world, and since ignored. I’m posting it because she does amazingly well hearing what people think, and really takes criticism to heart in the right way. Please, leave your comments, and be honest. She wants this, and I know it will hearten her.

Soeth beginneth the excerpt…eth:

The blonde man came to face me, his gaze predatory. His eyes had taken on an ethereal shine, a deadly quality that made their grey seem like ice.
Bloodlust, my brain idly concluded. That was what was causing that sheen, that glow.
“Just a case of wrong place, wrong time, love,” He reached towards me, a cool finger tracing a line down my cheek, stopping at my chin – though his eyes wandered further. “I do hope you don’t hold it against me.”
Oh, no. I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of showing how afraid I was. Adrenaline made me reckless. I looked him in the eyes. “Bite me.”
Michael stopped, a look of incredulity spreading across his undeniably attractive features. “Well, would you listen to that! A bleeding invitation!” he laughed.
Jacob also chuckled, the first time that I had heard him make a sound since they had entered. “Interesting choice of words,” his gaze was fixed on me, a small smile playing about his lips.
Michael leaned forward until he was just inches away from my face, cool breath washing over my cheek. Then he smiled. His teeth were pearl-white – perfectly even, excepting two extended incisors that sharpened to glistening points. Darkness threatened to swallow me and I felt myself sway. My God, but he had fangs.
I barely had time to blink before Drew had spun me behind him, one hand holding me still, the other pressed lightly against Michael’s chest – lightly, but dangerously. The air around us grew heavy, as though it had been charged with electricity.
“Don’t even think about it, mate. This isn’t what you came for.”
Michael’s eyes went flat, his nostrils flaring. Right then, I wanted the knife more than anything. It must have flown from my grip when Drew moved me behind him. Then again, who knew what use it would be against a vampire? He might just laugh and then use it to pick me out of his teeth later.
“You want Jim to cooperate with you? Think he will if you bite her? Normally I wouldn’t object, but –” Drew cast a glance at me, “– you need him. And it will be a lot bloody easier to persuade him if you don’t make a meal out of his…waitress.”
I glanced at him, evaluating the pause – did he know Jim and I were related? It wasn’t a secret, but still, the thought made me feel cold inside.
“Christ on a bike, Drew, I wasn’t going to kill her. Hell, she’d probably enjoy it.” He grinned lecherously at me. Not on your life, I hissed mentally, disgusted. Outwardly I stayed silent.
“Even so. I’d rather Jim helped you willingly than unwillingly. It’s not worth the hassle just to satisfy your fancy.”
The two stared at each other, both evaluating the other, tension seeping into the atmosphere like so much testosterone. Then Michael’s gaze cleared, and an easy smile returned to his face. “Right you are then mate, if you feel that strongly about it. Can’t say I care for redheads, anyway. No offence, love.” He tipped me a wink. I blanched, which made him smile even wider.
Drew relaxed, taking his hand from Michael’s chest. They both turned to look at me. Michael’s expression was puzzled, Drew’s thoughtful.
“So, what do you want to do with her?” Michael wondered.
“Nothing. Jim will help you, if you offer him the right price. Let me deal with the girl.”
I followed the conversation with my eyes, oscillating between outrage and wanting to throw up on their nice leather shoes. My mind spun into dark and dangerous places on hearing those words. Let me deal with the girl.
“Don’t let me interrupt your evening then, mate.” Michael grinned at Drew. To me he said simply, “We’ll be back.” He turned to leave, whistling. Jacob was already holding the door open. He was grinning, joking about some club that they were going to later and the girls that would be there. It was evident it wasn’t just a hook-up they were looking for, but I could barely hear what they were saying, the blood roaring too loudly in my ears.
I turned to stare at the dark-haired vampire. How would he deal with me?
He looked at me apologetically. God, his eyes were pretty. “Sorry, love.” He sighed.
My chest gave one final, painful squeeze as I forgot how to breathe. Then everything went dark.

Follow Blue at @chynnablueink on Twitter, and love her blog http://t.co/lgf7zrdInN.

Book Love and Lipgloss

Today’s Brew:  Hot chocolate with buttershots in it. Oh yeah.

by Kristen

As I might have mentioned a time or two on this blog, Because The Night comes out in November. That means a few things.  Hurking, first and foremost.  A lot of that.  I should be really skinny by release day.  It also means blog tours.  Which means more hurking for me, but for you it means giveaways!

Karrie hard at work

Karrie hard at work

I couldn’t just do what everyone else does for giveaways.  I needed to do something fun and cool and…me.  My agent suggested doing something makeup related.  How does it get more me than that?  It just so happens that a friend and colleague of mine has her own makeup line.  Meet Karrie Welch of Fortunate Face Minerals.

Meet...Immortal Dilemma, Fire Dancer, and Soul Divider

Meet…Immortal Dilemma, Fire Dancer, and Soul Divider

Karrie formulates all her own colors for all of her natural products.  I approached her with my idea to formulate lip glosses based on the bands in the Night Songs series, and she thought it was a great idea.  This Monday, I went to her laboratory to mix the perfect colors for Immortal Dilemma (blood red), Fire Dancer (a warm orangey red) and Soul Divider (a sheer plum with dark pink shimmer).  ‘Who the hell is Soul Divider?’, I hear my street team roar.  You’ll mean them in Night Moves, the second book in the series.

Before the lip glosses were born, they were just minerals in jars.

Before the lip glosses were born, they were just minerals in jars.

So these aren’t just little pots of goo.  No sirree, Bob. These are tubes that you click up similar to a Stila lip gloss.  On the bottom of the tubes, they will have little stickers with the appropriate band name. Like lip gloss you buy in stores, kids. This is a real thing. I couldn’t be more excited, not only that my book is coming out, but as a makeup artist to have products I helped create it surreal. They are highly pigmented and have all natural ingredients like jojoba oil and orange oil.  Julie of course had to try it out as soon as she got there.  Her review:  “It felt good and tasted good.  It was light but had substance.”  So what I’m saying is, this is the good stuff.

Then they get all ground together in a magic bullet looking contraption

Then they get all ground together in a magic bullet looking contraption

Right now, I’m planning on using these as promotional items.  If there is interest, I can make them available for sale.  (They would be $10 each, and whatever shipping costs).

And lip glosses were born!

And lip glosses were born!

Check out the Fortunate Face website for more information on Karrie’s products!

FearNet reviews RUNNING HOME! Holy Hell!

By Julie
I’m a confusing sonofabitch. Known well enough for my horror flash fiction, and running with a lot of horror writers, not to mention being published by horror publisher, Books of the Dead Press, horror readers open up Running Home, and get…….not horror.
So when Fear Net, yeah THAT Fear Net reviewed Running Home, I died a little inside, but was overjoyed to see the reaction considering it is absolutely not the reviewer’s cup of tea. Excellent points, great insight into the themes of the book, and a wonderful compliment to me. I am ever grateful.

Book Review: ‘Running Home’ by Julie Hutchings

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 – 8:00pm
Full disclosure, right off the bat: I am so not the target audience for this book.
I like a lot of grit in my stories. Anything that’s too smooth, too polished – whether it’s the subject matter or the prose itself – tends to shut me down. I don’t want to read something that feels like it was written – I want to read something that feels like it was survived. 
I’m not big on vampires, I don’t read romance novels, and when I worked at a bookstore I leafed through a few pages of the then-all-the-rage series Twilight and quickly gathered that it was not for me.
Running_Home
Julie Hutchings’ Running Home is a polished piece of prose, a re-imagining of the vampire mythos with a heaping helping of romance thrown in. In other words, it’s everything I do not look for in a book. Kudos, then, to author Julie Hutchings, who was able to make me put aside my prejudices and finish a book I normally never would have picked up.
If that sounds like I’m damning the book with faint praise, that’s not my intent. For the right reader, Running Home is going to be a very good experience. It’s well-written, has interesting characters and an intriguing premise. Hutchings has a lot of new ideas about vampires, and it’s always refreshing to see someone take an old genre staple and push it in new directions. Her vampires need blood, yes, but there’s more at work than simple hunger; fate is the main theme running through the book, and it has as much to do with the victims as the vampires themselves.
Hutchings reveals her vampire rules slowly and deliberately, and I’m not going to steal her thunder here. What I can say is that you have a man, Nicholas, and a woman, Eliza, and it’s clear from the start that their futures are irrevocably entangled. What’s not immediately clear is the type of relationship they’re heading for: is it vampire and victim? Eternal lovers? Mortal enemies? Hutchings takes great delight in keeping readers guessing.
As I said from the top, this type of book is not normally in my wheelhouse, but the choices I perceive to be flaws may be welcome by other readers. I’m sure others will be fine with the overall slick, glossy feel to the book – it’s just a little too clean and tame for my taste. I’m sure there are readers who will enjoy the romantic overtones, and the seemingly endless references to Nicholas’s eyes (which are described at various points as being like caramel and/or mocha) and his scent (vanilla, cinnamon, and caramel again). These are mostly matters of taste and not technical issues (although maybe a couple of references to the mocha and caramel eyes could have been edited out), and as such won’t get a lot of criticism from me.
One thing I will be a bit critical of, however, is the pace of the book. There are big reveals, events and consequences discussed in this book, and discussed often. This is a book of many conversations, often held in the cozy confines of Nicholas’ cabin, which is bathed in warm light from within and dusted with gently falling snow outside. It’s a cozy book that keeps hinting at horror, but never quite gets there. The big events the book leads up to are all crammed into the final couple of chapters, giving that portion of the book a rushed feel. If Hutchings can work on her pace a bit, space out those dramatic moments and maybe ease off the cozy just a tiny bit, the result will be tighter stories in the future.
So, to recap: this is not my thing, but for younger readers looking for an entry into horror, or readers caught in that inexplicable Twilight spell, Running Home might be the perfect book. Hutchings is a solid writer with a bright future, an author with real raw talent, and I look forward to watching that talent take shape in the years to come.
Blu Gilliand is a freelance writer of fiction and nonfiction. He covers horror fiction at his blog, October Country, and contributes interviews to the Horror World website. Follow him on Twitter at @BluGilliand
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Writing The Book Was The Easy Part

Today’s Brew: Making coffee for tomorrow

by Kristen

It seems like forever since I’ve put any new words on paper. Yet, I feel like I’ve been working harder in the writing department than ever before. So what the hell have I been doing, anyway?

Sometimes preparing for release day feels like campaigning for office.

  • I completed the final edit of Because The Night. Thanks be to Jesus.
  • The cover for Because The Night was approved, debuted, and the Goodreads page was born all in about an hour of each other.  What a great, overwhelming day that was.
  • Right now I’m working on the final edit of Seasons In The Sun, Because The Night’s prequel. Because oh yeah, that’s coming out this fall as well.
  • Building a street team. You guys are the balls, by the way.
  • I’ve completed a preliminary edit on Night Moves, aka Book 2.  The plan is for that to come out in late March 2014.
  • Getting cover blurbs.
  • Today I worked on creating some super cool swag for giveaways when we do the Because The Night blog tour!! You’ll see it all on Thursday!
  • Speaking of blogs, I’ve been trying to get on every one in the universe. Even if it’s about beekeeping. Want me to guest post? Just ask. By the way, I know nothing about bees.
  • I need to get pictures taken!  The one I use everywhere is super cute but it 1. was taken in the bathroom of a dive bar and 2. is not high enough resolution to use anywhere serious.

All of this is just desserts, but it’s a lot of work.  I want the launch to go off as flawlessly as possible.  Even though everyone says there’s no longer a stigma about self publishing, let me tell you that there are still people who look down their nose at self published books, looking for warts. Which means I need to better than perfect. I believe that we’re all the same when we write the book and when it goes up for sale.  It’s the stuff that happens in the middle that’s different. Not better, just different.

When you write the book, you’re in control of the results.  When you bring it to the world, you lose all control.  I have no idea how people will react, if they even react at all.

Megan Paasch suggested I mention the Peanut Gallery when I blogged today. That means you. I’m so glad all of you are excited about this book coming out.  All of your support really means the world to me.  It wouldn’t be worth doing if no one cared.  If a book is released and no one reads it, is it still a book?

God, I hope I never have to find out.

Here’s What I Do & Maybe You Should Too Or Not: Starting Your Book

TODAY’S BREW: A lot. I’m writing almost around the clock

By Julie

I was crybabying a little bit about the writing process of Running Away recently, and that it was HAAAAAAARD. This is one step away for me from saying “my muse left the fucking building” or something. Books don’t happen; you make them. No muse required.

MY BOOK BELLYACHE: AN OUTDATED MIX OF OLD MATERIAL AND NEW IDEAS THAT DON’T MESH AND I HAVE TO MAKE THEM.

I can pussyfoot around it, or I can write a book. (hehe. pussyfoot. ) So, I buckled the hell down on what I need to do to get this book where I want it, when I want it. My characters work for me, not the other way around. But this is not a post about how badass I am. This is what I did to get my shit handled. Maybe it will work for you, too.

1. I DETERMINED HOW MANY WORDS I WANT THIS FIRST DRAFT TO BE.

Start at square one. I generally go with a 65,000 word first draft goal. This allows for plenty to be added later, and still space to cut as well. Use whatever number you like.

2.  I GAVE MYSELF A DAILY REQUIREMENT OF WORDS. NOT GOAL. REQUIREMENT.

Look. A “goal” that you give yourself implies that you might not achieve it. A requirement, on the other hand, allows no room for fault. DON’T GIVE YOURSELF AN OUT.  This is your dream, nobody else’s. 1000 words a day is good for me. A challenge, but achievable.

3. DO THE MATH.

That means I have 65 days to write this book, not counting what I have already written. That’s my buffer if I get sick, or whatever. But 1000 words a day, every day, until November 1st. Boom.

4.  ACCEPT THAT THE FIRST DRAFT IS GOING TO BE FAULTY.

There’s going to be more drafts. As many as you want.

5.  MAKE A LIST OF THE DRAFTS YOU WANT TO DO.

This is tough, but doesn’t have to be. There’s a million things you want for your novel, and there’s a level of complexity I want in mine, and it takes a few tries to get it there. I give this process the attention it deserves. This is a long one, so pay attention, bitches. This has now moved on to LETTERS.

A) Draft 1: OPERATION SPIT IT THE FUCK OUT.

Get the words out, all 1000 per day. You can make them go away later if they’re awful, but you have to start. You have to.

B) MAKE A LIST OF DRAFTS FOR ALL THE AWESOMENESS YOU WANT IN THE BOOK THAT YOU’LL HAVE TO REVISIT AND MAKE HAPPEN AFTER THE SHITTY FIRST DRAFT.

My list of drafts is as follows (and yeah, I’ll share it with you, word for word).

DRAFT 1: GET THE WORDS OUT. BAD AND GOOD. MINIMAL RESEARCH.

DRAFT 2: CLARIFY STORY. MORE RESEARCH. ASK WHY, OR IF THERE WAS ANY OTHER WAY. MAKE IT WORSE (for your MC).

DRAFT 3: THEMES….THICKEN IT (for me, death, crows, fate, fire…)

DRAFT 4: VAMPIRE STUFF

DRAFT 5: DIALOGE/VOICE. MAKE SURE THEY SOUND LIKE THEM. AND DIALOGUE IS CONVERSATIONAL.

DRAFT 6: GET RID OF THE FUCKING WORDS JUST, I FELT, I WAS. (your list of words that show up too often may be different. Chuck Wendig keeps his in a file in a drawer, and pulls it out during editing.) If you don’t know who Chuck Wendig is, start here. http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/02/26/how-to-karate-your-novel-and-edit-that-motherfucker-hard-a-no-foolin-fix-that-shit-editing-plan-to-finish-the-goddamn-job/  I’ll try not to judge you.

So, there you go! That’s how I write a book. Well, not all books, just this one, but man, I do feel good about it. And I’m off to a great start, which means I’ll have a great finish.

I leave you with this thought, and this is me tooting my own horn a little, because finishing a book is a big fucking deal. If it sits in a drawer and never sees the light of day, it’s a big deal. 30% of people who start writing books never finish those books.

I WILL FINISH THIS BOOK, AND EVEN MORE ON POINT, I WILL FINISH IT BY THE DEADLINE I SET FOR MYSELF. I always goddamn do. Because if I can’t remain true to what I want, what’s the point? If I don’t push myself hard enough to make it happen, how good can it be? Writing isn’t supposed to be easy and comfortable. It’s supposed to bleed your fucking soul a little. Revel in your own suffering and challenges. WRITE THE FUCKING BOOK.

Flash Fiction Friday: Touchstone by Darren Goldsmith

TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate Capuccino something or other.

By Julie

IT’S FLASH FICTION FRIDAY, BABIES! I’ve hand selected all of the Flash Fiction Friday writers, by the way, and one of the first on my list was today’s writer, Darren Goldsmith.

I found Darren on Twitter, of course (@DarrenGoldsmith), and instantly adored him. After reading his blog, http://t.co/QuPlnooeUb, I had reason to love him more. The refined honesty Darren gives us is simply beautiful, and I was overjoyed when he agreed to write for us. I demand you love him, too.

 

Touchstone

 

Every pebble is a lost soul, she used to say. A trillion pebbles. A trillion unremembered songs. She would pick a few up and kiss them. Hold them to her cheek. Place them carefully back. I would wrap both her hands in mine and look across the beach. Stone clack and surf hiss. Tumbled Atlantic caressing the cold gradient of backlit sky and low cloud.

I felt uneasy walking there. She looked through me. No, she looked beyond me. Seeing a finer reality I imagined. A strand of dark hair falling down from under her hat. A blink. Two blinks. Brushed away. Grey eyes and pale skin. Green sea and salt tears.

 

Every story starts somewhere. Ours was two years before, outside a bar in town. She stood framed by sleet, her boot heels reflected in the glimmering pavement. Broken neon playing the angles of her face in stutters, blue and green and back again. Shoulders hunched, hands drawn up inside jacket sleeves, two fingers scissoring a cigarette. The tip’s cherry glow. A momentary halo of smoke twisted away by the wind.

I walked over and mumbled something about it being too cold to be standing here. She offered me the cigarette. I declined. She blew some more halos while I pretended not to shiver and wondered how to get home. Then she finished, flicked it into the road. A tiny comet extinguished on contact with wet tarmac. She hooked my arm. Drew me inside. We spent an hour at a table, just sitting. Each time I opened my mouth to speak she smiled and shook her head. Smiled and took a drink.

Finally she said hello.

 

Her flat was Asian promise. And Celtic weave. And Bedouin chic. A dozen influences from around the globe. Boot sales and junk shop purchases.

‘I’ll visit one day,’ she said, tracing her finger around the rim of a small silver cup. ‘I want to walk the maps.’

‘I’ll go with you,’ I replied.

She lit candles. Undressed me in the soft flickering amber. Pulled me gently down to her bed.

 

 

She moved into my place. But kept her sanctuary. I didn’t mind. I understood it wasn’t about me. We slept there occasionally anyway, when we were in that part of town. When she wanted to share the cultures she intended some day to drink in.

We curled around each other, against the world. We traded privacy for intimacy. Beliefs and personal truths. Though I felt she held a part of herself back. Perhaps she feared more than I did. Perhaps she knew before I did. The end. An end to something good. Accepted it and locked that part away. There are those who are described as old heads on young shoulders. She was an old heart.

 

So we passed through this moment but forgot the seasons existed. All I knew was the honeyed grace of her limbs. The knowing delight in her face. As with all new loves every experience was fresh, like cut plant stems. Exposed nerves, wonderfully tart and acidic. Mulled wine for blood. Liquorice for bones.

 

My job tore me reluctantly away, overseas, to desert and dust. Actors, trailers and endless heat. The sharp scent of creosote bushes. I called each night and sent her panoramas of the upturned sky. A river of shimmering stars like smoke. We talked while the coyote sang, until the moon dipped and the Joshua trees became edged in gold. I wished the days away.

 

When I returned I found a lump. A small thing. It didn’t hurt. There were tests and a doctor who said it had been caught early. I had surgery and radiotherapy. Rotten cells bathed in high-energy rays. Poisoned to make me well. Weeks of pain and nausea. Of overwhelming lethargy.

Some months later I was fit enough to work again. But I knew I had lost a part of myself. Confidence, ignorance. Something not cut out by a surgeon. My mortality now exposed to the ether. It was a difficult time. She became distant. Or I withdrew, I’m not certain which.

Filming took me east after that. To blossom and snows. Temples, koi carp and salary men. I ate food I couldn’t pronounce and laughed along with jokes I didn’t understand. I sent her pictures of frozen ponds. Starlight captured in dark ice. We talked but it wasn’t the same alternating current of words.

From there I headed north. And then west again. A steel bird chasing the sun. I brought back souvenirs from each location and she would thank me and kiss my cheek but never display them.

Our orbits gently decayed. We disconnected. We stopped being us. I tried to delay the inevitable. But you can’t fight entropy. You can never return.

One night I turned up at her flat swaying from too many shots. A speech in my head, flowers behind my back and a small, velvet-lined box in my pocket. She didn’t answer the door.

 

I never saw her again.

All my friends told me that I was better off. Said she was selfish, crazy. I felt differently. I remembered the belief. The connection. A touchstone. I remembered the long days, her hand in mine, as we gazed upon a hundred landscapes and breathed the dust of other towns. The journeys on back roads, laughing when we became lost. I remembered the nights when she held me, so very tight, while I shook with pain and fear. While I sweated the unfairness.

I remembered her face, perfectly captured by nature and geometry alike. Held in time, like a single movie frame.

 

I would be lying if I said I ever understood. Why us. Why me. The fates. A roll of bones. The hand we were dealt by an expanding, cooling universe. All I know is the wind bites hard and the sea folds over and over, endlessly. I look across the beach. A trillion pebbles. A trillion lost souls. And I try to work out which one is hers and which one is mine.

YOU DON’T SCARE ME, NEW BOOK. A story told with Matrix images.

TODAY’S BREW: Caramel Apple Coffee because that is a real thing!

By Julie

I’m a bit of a writing jerk, I’ve realized. I never have had the dreaded writer’s block, and when the time hits that I feel like I have no new ideas, I get one just from being angry that I haven’t got one. They may not be the next Cathcher in the Rye, but when I settle down to write a book, I do it. The words come.

I began re-working my first draft of Running Away, the sequel to Running Home September 3rd. It’s a mix of new material, and a first draft that is so old at this point it’s like the grandmother of books. So, there’s WORK involved, and writing a sequel is HARD, yo, because you have to make sure you give enough basis that a newbie would understand the book if they hadn’t read the first one, but weave that information in seamlessly and in a storytelling fashion, that doesn’t take the reader out of the moment.

So, the whole thing has made me a little slow on the uptake with this book. I don’t like that. I have what the husband calls the ME FIRST attitude. I always go first, it’s sorta my thing. I don’t hesitate. You can’t hesitate in life, or you’ll miss it.

Right now I feel like this.

RUNNING AWAY IS SAYING “STOP TRYING TO HIT ME AND HIT ME!”

I am tired of pussyfooting (pardon my French) around this book. Time to write it and if it sucks, write it again and again. But it has to be dove into. This is the point in all those boxing matches when everyone starts yelling “HIT HIM ALREADY!”

Time to hit the book. Time to get whatever crappy words down I have, and then make them better, and better still. This is different from the way I usually work. I write sparsely, and make every word count, then go back and embellish. I leave a good 10-15,000 word opening at the end of a first draft, so that I can ADD instead of DELETING words that I labored over. I did the deleting thing with Running Home. No thank you, Writing. No thank you.

But every book I write has its own process. My process for Running Away is different, still. That’s cool. It means there’s a new thing to be learned, and a new challenge to master.

SO HELLS YEAH, I’M READY TO WRITE A BOOK. I’m ready for you all to meet the new characters, one of which I am in love with to the point that even Nicholas would be jealous. And I’m dying for you to see the way Eliza is transforming. How she plummets into her own despair, and what changes in her, for her.

And I am absolutely dying to see what these changes do to me.

Bring it on, Running Away. Bring it on.

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