Monday, September 26, 2016

Stand up for Your Right To Read!

Happy Banned Books Week 2016! One of my favorite weeks of the year. It's like a license to be bad reading all those books that have been banned, challenged, and protested through the year and all of literary history.

The theme the American Library Association has chosen this year is Stand Up for Your Right to Read. The theme encourages you to express your first amendment rights regarding reading and writing about whatever you want. It is a freedom that we often take for granted, something we don't
think about every day.

By challenging a book's right to be shelved in a school, library, or even a bookstore that person or group is challenging the First Amendment which gives us the right free speech. That doesn't mean we have to agree with or even like every item in our local library's catalog.

There may be something in there that offends you deeply but there are other items that you check out over and over again. As the saying goes "a great library will have something in it that offends everyone."

If every book challenged had successfully been banned the loss of great literature would be staggering. Your children would never grow up sharing the adventures of a stuffed bear and his piglet pal, never chase after a white rabbit or explore the wonders of Middle Earth. You wouldn't find out if that guy really had ties in 50 shades of grey or what happens to the young lovers Romeo and Juliet.

These stories and more are in our libraries today because someone stood up for their right to read them. This week reminds us that we can make a difference every day by showing support for the stories we love and are important to our lives.

Here are 5 ways you can celebrate Banned Books Week and Stand Up for Your Right to Read
1. Go to download the banners and social media avatars, then plaster your profiles with them.
2. Check out the lists of books that have been banned/challenged last year and share it with a friend.
3. Visit your local library or bookstore and check out the displays for Banned Books Week.
4. Check out /Buy a banned book and read it this week.
5. Read ande banned and challenged books all year long.

This week I'm reading Blood and Chocolate by annette Curtis Klause and The Immortal Life of Henretta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

How are you going to celebrate Banned Books Week?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Review: Project Kid: Crafts That Go!

This is a wonderful book for librarians, teachers, moms, and caretakers. All of the projects in Project Kid: Crafts That Go! come with a complete list of tools and materials. Most of the tools and materials will be used for each of the crafts, which can save time and money when planning a series of crafts for a class or story time. Each craft can also be adjusted for the age/skill level of the crafter/s.

Directions for each project are simple to follow with photos to illustrate the steps.  The book is well organized and full of colorful photos that make it enjoyable to work with.

Definitely a book for every librarian, teachers or parent’s shelf for project fun. Caesar gives Project Kid; Crafts that Go! a thumbs up in the Gladiator's Pen arena. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ketching up with K-U for Blogging from A to Z with One Word/60 Seconds

This is going to be a multi-letter post starting with K for Ketching up. I know I know it's not
supposed to be spelled like that but hey, making up words worked for Shakespeare. :)

The following Ketching-up entries will be from my One Word/60 Second list. What's One Word you ask? Well, it's actually a fantastic site You are given a single word with a 60-second timer. You are to write as fast as you can what that one word inspires. It's a great way to warm up your muse or even shake a bit of writer's block. Maybe even get a good story starter or prompt to save for later. Okay, now I'm going to Ketch-up, I hope you enjoy the following OneWord/60 Second entries. 

Instead of staking out the local chop shop he could be out with Gina, or Lola. Oh yeah, Lola. He popped the lid off his coffee and tossed it onto the dash with the rest of the night's collection. Maybe this one wouldn't taste like used oil.

After seven hours of crap coffee and no action, he watched the sleek sedan pull up to the garage door. The detective took a tentative sip and sighed as a big man stepped out of the car and straightened his coat, the hood he’d been looking for. He regretfully tossed the first decent cup of java all night out the window and flipped on the flashing lights. At least his wasn't the only date night to get ruined. 

M- Mystery 
The clatter of a coffee cup being set on the desk brought his attention from the files long enough to grunt thanks. This was one hell of a mystery, he had no idea where to start the search for this dame's sister. She was like smoke in fog, and he was one puzzled gumshoe.

The gun trembled slightly in his hand, this was his first day in uniform on patrol. The leather of his new holster still shiny. He was supposed to be sitting in the coffee shop eating donuts not in the middle of a face-off with a gang punk and an AK pointed at his head.

Have some optimism, there’s a silver lining to every dark cloud. That’s what my mother would say when we were frightened of the creatures in the dark. She couldn’t see them so she didn’t think they existed. Even now as I cower under the covers, a grown woman I find myself whispering those words. Could there really be a silver lining to the dark shadow looming over my bed?

Looking down he saw a wooden panel loose on the desk. The jutting corner begging for discovery. Gently he pried at it with the tip of a pin. The panel fell to the floor revealing a compartment. Reaching inside he pulled out a diary, the first line read…. “My God,what have I done?”

The room was quiet but for the sound of water dripping from the corner. It was dark and damp, smelled like dirt, a basement maybe. She twisted and pulled at the ropes on her wrists. A sound from the corner made her pause. Scratch.. scratch...the rustle of paper or maybe cloth then a large rat ran across her feet. She gasped and wiggled her feet as much as the ropes would let her. There wasn't much time left, she worked harder and managed to loosen the knots just enough. Her hands trembled and pulled furiously on the other bonds until the door creaked and a sliver of light crept toward her. He was back.

A routine day in the shop was all I wanted. Just a normal unbothered day of customers, dusting antiques, and inventory. Until the crate arrived, until I opened it. The contents would change everything I knew. No more routine days in the shop.

This part of the jogging path was secluded from the park. Usually, she enjoyed her run in the quiet of the night, but something about the thick copse of trees on each side made her feet move just a bit faster. She felt eyes bore into her back as she broke out into a full run. Her breath panted harder as footsteps began to echo hers from behind. They were getting faster, closer. She didn't dare glance back. Run just run, she told her feet, and they might make it out alive.

The door slammed shut, he could hear the bolt slide into place. "Damn." There was always a reason those mysterious notes say come alone. It was a trap, his gut was right instinct had been right but he came anyway. Now he had two options, wait for his captor to kill him or search for escape.

U- Unplanned  
He stepped back and gazed at the blood spattered on the wall. The victim had been removed but evidence of his violent death was painted dark red across the wall like a high gloss white canvas. The pattern of spray and dots seemed geometric, a kind of unplanned art. Or was it? Maybe the killer fancied himself Monet or Van Gogh. Maybe Dali, the bastard was definitely mad. 

There we go all Kaught up. Oh, you really didn't think I'd stop with Ketch did ya? :D Now it's your turn to try a muse wake up with One Word. Pick one of these words above and time yourself writing for 60 seconds. What did you get? 

Jailbreak: an excerpt from Outlaw Born

Ben growled and pulled at his bonds. He wouldn’t hang here, on some ranch in the corner of Arizona. It was a jail, a nicer furnished one but a jail the same. Ben Mason was a decorated soldier of the Union Army. A man with more honor than Hammond and his Pinkertons could muster in a finger. The fact Ben was now wanted for robbery and murder aside.

 The wooden chair creaked with his efforts, it wasn’t a stout chair. Ben rocked forward onto his feet and fell back to the legs of the chair. He took a breath and rocked again, this time catching his balance. 

Ben stood stooped tied to the chair. “Well, this is effort rewarded, now what?” He raised his head as far as he could as he looked for something to free him. Nothing useful came to sight and his time was close to run out.

Standing like this he could see through the window and the horizon as it began to show color.

With a sigh, he shifted the chair on his back and pushes off the floor falling backwards hard. The old chair split apart, without the structure the ropes fell loose around his body.

Ben groaned and rubbed his scarred shoulder, which took the brunt of the fall. It took a moment for him to untangle his body from the mess. A moment too long, the door creaked open and one of the Pinkertons stepped in.

“What the hell?” He opened his coat and started to draw his weapon.

Ben grabbed a broken leg of the chair and swung at the man’s gun hand. The half-drawn weapon clattered to the floor. Ben swung the wooden leg back as the Pink tried to dive for it.

The wood connected knocking the other man unconscious. Ben watched the Pink collapse on the floor as he picked up the gun. He peered out the window to see four other Pinkertons busy with preparations for his hanging.

Ben moved into the bedroom and looked out the window for any others. It was clear. “One thing you can count on is a Pink being over confident.”

He quietly jumped out of the window, crouched and made his way to the corner of the house. Ben searched any sign of his men. He eased closer along the side of the house.

Charlie and Dawson were tied up next to what was left of the barn. The bastards had burnt it down for entertainment. Smoke and embers were all that remained of the building now. Ben used the smoke as cover to get to the men.

Charlie spun his head at the sound of burnt wood cracking under foot. He relaxed at the sight his friend. “Ben, they’ll be back soon. They’ve got plans…”

Ben nodded as he examined the knots; he needed to cut them free. “They’re busy craftin my noose.”

Dawson glanced out to keep watch as Ben worked. The men felt the ropes give way. Charlie grinned as he rubbed his forearms. “Let’s get the hell out of here, boss.”

Ben nodded to him. “You know where to go.”  He checked the chamber of the Pinkerton’s revolver. Six bullets, there would be no room to miss. Ben could feel Charlie and Dawson at his back as he started to move toward his goal.

He waited a long time to get Hammond in his sight. He wasn’t about to spoil the only shot he may get at the man. “Go, Charlie, get Dawson out of here, I’ve unfinished business.” 

Outlaw Born is a novel in progress this is a little taste of the tale. You can read the first chapters on Watpad. 
About Outlaw Born
The war forced Ben Mason into long separations from family and set him on the battlefield against brothers. His luck left him more often than it came to him. He fought through it all to rid himself of the tarnished name given to him by his father and return home safe to his family. 

What he finds forces him to realize his battle has only just begun. When the law fails to offer justice, Ben embraces the legacy he had fought so hard to escape. Blood is the only path when you're Outlaw Born.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ides of March

It was dark in the alley, the perfect cover to watch for him. The club across the street was alive with music, lights and people. Maybe she should go in… no,  he would come out. She just had to wait.

It was damp and cold after the evening rains, but, nothing she couldn’t stand. There had been too much planning done already to waste the moment. It had to be done tonight. Suffering a bit of cold would be worth it in the end.

Loud music flooded the street when the club’s doors were flung open. There he was, that was him. He walked out alone, no tramp hanging off of him like so many others who had left before him.

He walked into the parking lot next to the club, paid no attention to the rest of the world around him. 

When he paused to light a cigarette she grinned. It was him, he was perfect. She walked over to the lot and smiled at him.

He smiled back. “Good evening.”

She didn’t reply, mustn’t seem so anxious. She walked over to her car she let go of a frustrated sigh as she gazed at her rear tire. “Damn it, not now…”

She sat her purse on the roof before she moved to the back of the car and opened the trunk.  She leaned inside and pulled out the jack and walked around to the flat tire.

He walked over and grinned. “Have a flat, can I give you a hand? No sense in a beautiful woman getting all greasy.”

She laughed and smiled back. “Thanks, I really appreciate it. I’m a serious girl with this stuff.”

He grinned and slid the jack under the edge of the car. “I’ll say you forgot a part. Do you mind if I look in your trunk for the tire iron?”

“No, go ahead. See I told you I have no idea what I’m doing there.”  She grinned then shifted to accentuate her ample form for him.

He smiled and walked around to the trunk. He pulled his eyes from hers and looked in. The iron was way in the back. He had to bend half into the trunk to reach it.

She watched and waited until both his hands were inside the trunk. Quickly, she moved to him and sank a needle into the back of his neck. Her thumb pushed the plunger as she glanced around, to make sure there were no other eyes on them.

In  seconds, he slumped, collapsed half into the trunk. She grinned as she tossed the needle inside then hefted the rest of him. 

For just a moment she paused and looked down at her victim. The rest of the night would be spent in blood as she has done since the betrayal. None leave her now. He will be hers tonight and in the morning, she will bury him near the others. “Beware the Ides of March.” 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Half Excerpt

About HALF
Guarding CEO Alex Blazen during a charity gala was an easy job for Valeska Gorstef...until all hell breaks loose...literally. Forced to face her own darkness, Valeska may lose her only chance to live a human life. Two sides of her soul will be at war. Which HALF will win?
Purchase links:

Valeska stood within the darkness of the room and felt it breathe. The dark was a living creature part of what she was. Her darkness, her vampire, and she hated it. A bit of dust and the stain was all that was left of her father. Once she had thought killing him would free her to live a normal life, but that was just a pretty lie.

After all this time, she still had to exist in the twilight between two worlds. Trapped. She was lost in the past when she heard footsteps and smelled Alex’s cologne before he reached the room. Good. He’ll see the darkness and run. It would be that easy to stop this before I want any more than I can have.

Alex didn’t run. Instead, he walked over, embracing her and kissing her blood covered mouth. All he cared about was showing her it didn’t matter. That he loved her human or not. Plying her lips with his tongue, he gently pushed into her mouth and met sharp fangs.

She tasted fresh blood and pushed him away roughly. “Alex stop! I haven’t fed enough.”

He gazed at her and the concern she saw there was more than she could bear. “I couldn’t. I couldn’t take an unwilling victim, not even a four-legged one.”

He looked beneath the splatters of blood to the pain her eyes held. What horrors she must have endured to survive over six hundred years of life.

She wanted to push him far away. “Don’t you see me? This is Valeska Gorstef. Alex, I can’t change what I am. I can smell the sweet copper scent of blood in your mouth. I can hear your heart pumping more through your veins and I want it. I want to taste you in ways that have nothing to do with passion.”

The video flashed in his mind. “I see the beautiful woman who walked into my office three days ago. I see the dark desire in your eyes. Blood isn’t all you want.”

She shook her head. “Alex, you don’t know what you’re asking.” Valeska felt her control starting to slip.

“No, I don’t.” Alex unbuttoned her shirt, peeled the blood soaked fabric from her shoulders. He pulled off his own shirt and tossed it in the pile. She was dizzy from bloodlust and need. Need to give in, need to love him.

She stood stiff as he embraced her and kissing, caressing first one lip then the other. He was more careful exploring the warmth of her mouth. He licked her fangs tasting the sweet copper in her mouth.

Weakening with the scent of his body so close, she kissed him back him feeling his warm clean skin. They fell to the floor, she rolled over him. “We can’t do this. I have to feed.”

He grabbed her face as he kissed her again. “Then feed.”

Part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this April. Be sure to stop by the linky list to discover more awesome blogs . 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Grave Dancer

It was dark in the chapel, a new moon shed no light in the old abandoned building He sat on a pew moved under a window he watched and waited. Tonight he was prepared with camera, recorder, extra batteries, and a thermos of hot coffee to combat the chill of the night.

His hands wrapped around the tin cup absorbing the heat as he took a long sip. It was almost time, almost. He was afraid they wouldn’t come, he wouldn’t see her again. That it had been all a figment of his drunken mind.

Every night since that first one he had waited to see her again. He glanced back out the window he saw a glow fill the ancient graveyard. 

The glow was a soft bluish green like the ocean. The air felt damp heavy as he tossed aside the half full cup to get up on his knees for a better view out the broken window. His camera was in hand as he searched the worn headstones for her. 

The earth below a few of the stones shifted as a mist formed above them, taking shape. Arms stretched toward the sky as feet touched the ground. The figures yawned and moved as if waking from slumber.

He watched from his perch in the window holding up his camera to get the proof he wasn’t mad. They were real. The women there were like wisps of wind, ethereal. He could see them clearly in their ivory burial gowns, their skin fair as fine porcelain. But there was a touch of dream about them as they moved. Shifts in the misty glow would show them transparent.

His interest focused on one as she turned her skirt swirling the brittle leaves over her grave. She seemed to dance to some silent tune, perhaps only her kind could hear. Suddenly she stopped and walked back to her tombstone.

A cream colored rose lay on the aged marble. A soft smile of wonder slowly spread across  her pinked lips. She touched the petals gently as if it would fade away. When it didn’t she picked it up and brushed her cheek against the silken petals before she inhaled the sweet scent. 
A few of the other spirits began to gather to see the flower. Some searched their own stones. She smiled and held it out for them to sniff and touch lightly it had been so very long since anything but decay grew here.

The wind blew leaves around them, though their delicate forms. One jealous spiteful spirit marched over. Around her, the mist seemed darker, and aura of her cruel days in flesh perhaps.

Her hand closed over the petals and crushed the flower leaving only the stem in the sweet spirits hands.

The others began to walk away to play on their night of freedom.  The dark soul raised her chin and moved as far from them as her existence would allow. 

He watched wanting in that moment to run out and tell her not to be sad. The expression of loss on her sweet face was almost too much for his own heart to bare. How was he to know something as simple as a rose would cause so much.

Out the window, he saw her chest rise and fall in a ghostly sigh. The spirit knelt on the dead grass and picked up every petal, caressing it lightly in her hand. When they were all gathered she sat on a cracked marble bench and marveled.

She could still smell the sweet fragrance; the petals were still soft like her favorite velvet gown. She held them to her face and smiled. A petal escaped, slipped through her fingers to float into her lap.

She stood and watched it float gently to the worn earth. Suddenly she raised her hands and spun around tossing the petals in the air. As they fell around her catching on her hair and dress she danced in them.

When they had all fallen she gathered them to dance again in the glow of the mist. Her gown flowed around her, arms gracefully moved through the air, her dark hair flowed free around her shoulders lifting as she turned.

There was no sound but a soft rustle of leaves but he could imagine her joyous laughter. Something made her pause and look up. She brushed a strand of hair from her face and sighed. She gathered up her petals and carried them lovingly back to her grave.

She held her hands over it then slowly turned her palms letting petals fall like soft rain over her stone. With a gentle smile, she yawned and stretched as the mist appeared to grow thicker. Soon the others were in their places as well the mist began to fade until a glimpse of the sun could be spotted over the trees.

There was no more dancing the only evidence of the night being the cream-colored rose petals strewn over the darkened marble stone.

Part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge for the letter G. Be sure to visit the linky list on the site by clicking on the badge below for more great blogs to follow and read all through April!