Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Wall

His back was up against the wall, literally and figuratively. The rain damp brick soaked through his shirt as he pressed against the rain damp brick to peek around the corner. 

Two men skidded around the corner beyond headed in his direction unconcealed weapons in their hands. 

The alley where he stood was a dead end. He let out a slow breath and checked the clip in his gun. Empty. He leaned against the wall, his lungs burned from the run, his heart pounding in his ears, as, the footfalls of his enemies moved closer. The only way out was the hard way. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Ten ways to squeeze out those creative juices

1. Eat Breakfast
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. You don’t have to have the full meal if that’s not your thing, but try to eat something protein in the morning. Try a breakfast drink like Carnation Instant Breakfast if you’re not a regular breakfast eater. They have a low amount of calories, high protein and the right kinds of sugars to boost your brain and get those creative juices ready to work.

2. Doodle
Sometimes the mind needs a bit of distraction. If you come across a block in your writing whip out a note pad and start doodling. Try some shapes or just draw a circle or pattern something non conforming works best to clear and relax your mind. A few 3-D boxes later and ideas will start to flow again.

3. Watch a movie
Pick a DVD from your collection that has some similarity to what you’re writing. It can only be one element a similar character, setting, or plot. Pop some corn and kick back. Don’t just veg out, use your writer’s brain to look for elements that might add an extra dimension to your work. If something clicks rewind and watch that element again. It’s amazing the little things we can pick up watching with our writer’s eye.

4. People Watch
Pack up your writing gear and head out to a public place, coffee shop, park, library, the mall. People watching can be very entertaining and educational for writers. What better way to study characters in real life. Try some more unusual places to sit and just watch for a while. A train station, find a corner with a stop light and watch people in their cars. Talk about entertainment!

5. Listen to Music
All music can be inspirational but soundtracks are the best. They’re made to set the tone for a scene. You can find exactly the right tone you need whether it be suspenseful, romantic, action/thriller, or saddened. Playing this while writing can help you stay focused on the scene.

6. Old Photos
Pull out some of the old family albums and take a stroll down memory lane. There are so many stories in pictures of any kind. What could be better inspiration that some of your own family tales and traditions.

7. Visit a Museum
Museums are some of my favorite places. There are stories and characters in every exhibit waiting to be told.

8. Writing Prompts
This is one you know, but it bears mentioning because it is tried and true. There are many online sources to grab a writing prompt. A short blurb to start you off or a photo prompt. Some great places to find good prompts are,, and

9. Writing Buddy
You don’t have to write with a partner to have a writing buddy. A writing buddy can be any fellow writer or willing victim friend that will toss ideas back and forth with you. Maybe even pick characters in your book and role-play the scene. Not only with the creative juices start flowing but it’s fun too!

10. Have a Uniform
Specify a special shirt or outfit that is your writing uniform such as a special tee shirt, your favorite bunny slippers, a special hat. When you put it on your brain automatically kicks into writing mode ready to work.

There you have it 10 ways to move the muse. What do you do to get those creative juices flowing? 

Friday, April 20, 2018


His blade sang as it cut through the air of the arena. The gladiator growled as its edge sank into the
flesh of his target. A soft spray of warm blood spattered his chest and arm as he turned to meet the next opponent.

 He could smell the fear of the Murmillo even though the opponent was the one to advance. His lip curled as he watched his fellow gladiator swing the trident in an effort to intimidate.

He easily stepped back from the sharp points. The trouble with pole arms and using them for their length is the time it takes to reset for the next blow. He took full advantage of the Murmillo’s position and stepped into the fighter as the gladiator’s blade came down upon the wrist holding the trident.

The Murmillo cried out in pain and tried to back away, but the gladiator wasn’t going to give his opponent the chance to get any footing. He grabbed the leather strap of the Murmillo’s arm guard and gathered his strength as he drew his other arm back. He drew in a deep breath of the Murmillio’s sweat and thrust his sword forward.

The Murmillo gasped as the blade sank into his fatted belly and thrust further up into his heart. The gladiator held the Murmillo close as he drove the blade as deep as the man’s body would take it.

The crowd stood on their feet and roared their approval. The gladiator was victorious, he had survived the match, he held back his elation until the Murmillo went limp in his arms.

He lay his fellow warrior upon the sands and said a prayer then stood to raise his sword high the blood glistening as it dripped from the edge. The mob in the stands erupted once more and he let their excitement fill him. The roar of his name echoing through the arena.

All at once the mob quieted and took their seats. The gladiator feared another opponent had been loosed, it was not uncommon. The wealthy in their boxes would often pay for another round if their bloodlust had not yet been satisfied by the games.

He turned and readied for the gate to open. Instead of an armored beast he was greeted with the sight of a senator and his wife.

He watched them still wary. Could it be a trick? Gladiators dressed to fit this part for the mob’s entertainment? No, he remembered the senator.

The senator was his master, his owner. He would come to the ludus and watch him train. He dropped to one knee and lowered his eyes.

It was the senator’s wife that stepped toward him, she rested her hand on his shoulder. The sweet perfume on her skin filled his senses. Her soft fingertips rested on his blood-spattered chin and raised his face to meet hers.

She wore a soft smile, her face glowing with pride. “You have made our house proud, your debts have been paid and it is time for you to walk Rome a freedman.”

He heard the words, but surely, it was some kind of hallucination from the heat and excitement of battle.

The senator stepped forward now and took him by the shoulders raising him to his feet. The woman was as lovely as her scent as she handed her husband a leather pouch. The senator thanked her and offered the pouch to the gladiator.

The mob seemed to understand before he did, they erupted once more. Cheers and chants began through
the arena. The gladiator opened the pouch and pulled the concealed object from it. A rudius. His freedom.

No longer forced to fight, it would be his choice to be Rudiarius. His hands curled around the inscribed wooden sword and prayers of thanks fell from his lips to both his gods and his masters. A new kind of victorious joy filled him as he raised the rudius high for all to see he was free.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Quitting is never an option for writers

When life gives us lemons, as often it does, don’t be content making lemonade. Throw those sour bastards back and demand chocolate!

Don’t give into the stress and pressures going on that make us say, “I can write later.” Put your boxing gloves on and fight through it. Duck life’s left hook and counter with a powerful uppercut by finishing off that next chapter or blog post. 

Quitting a current project or giving up even temporarily is not an option. When the writing gets tough the writer needs to kick ass. We change goals and pound out pages of words through writer’s block, character frustrations, plot holes, appointments, and real world tasks screaming to be done. Whatever is attempting to hold us back from our story we will fight back.

This week down that pot of coffee, eat the whole bag of peanut butter M&M’s, order take out, or duct tape the kids to the wall. Okay, maybe not that last one, though you have to admit some days it’s tempting. Just don’t lose heart, or give in to that urge to say, "well, I’ll make it next round." There is still plenty of time this round to make our goals. I’m ready, how about you?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


I bought a cheap watch from a crazy man, who stood in front of the five and dime with a box full of junk. Trinkets maybe, from his better days.

I tried to walk by and pretend I didn’t notice him, but something made me look up. Our eyes met, a shiver coursed down my spine. His eyes held the cold weight of some kind of dark knowledge. I didn’t want to know what he knew, yet I couldn’t turn away. I felt fate’s hand push me toward him.

“Is there something you like, miss?” His voice was older than his grizzled face. The old man tipped the box so I could see the contents closer.

I tried to look away, my eyes turned themselves to the box. I shook my head gently. “No, thank you. I don’t have time, I’m late.”

He reached out and grabbed my hand. “I have just the thing for seeing time.” He pulled a pocket watch from the box. Its age showed on the engraved metal. Rubbed smooth where it had been held and touched most often.

“That’s a lovely watch but….” The moment he placed it into my hand I felt a tingle of energy flow though my hand and up my arm. Suddenly the air around her felt charged, like before lightning strikes.

When I tried to pull my hand from his my fingers brushed the release. The case opened and my eyes fell to the face of the watch. The hands ticked on minutes and hours as the air thickened around me. It seemed like an ordinary thing, just a cheap watch on the outside but there was something else.

I could feel it becoming part of me. I tried to let go of it but my fingers curled tighter around the thing instead. I pulled five dollars from my pocket and placed it in his old withered hand. When I looked into his eyes this time, I saw relief.

I would soon find out what curse he had passed on to me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

One word in sixty seconds: Gears

She slathered more grease on the actuating arms and a few of the more rusted teeth of the gears.
"I'm not sure this is going to help. This piece of junk has sat far too long without any care."

She closed the cover of the mammoth war machine and stepped back. "Punch it Louis!"

He turned his cap backward and pumped diesel through the veins of this metal creature. When Louis pressed the ignition switch the gears and plates trembled before breaking their bond of rust and years of dirt.The armored suit took one step then another.

She let out a yell and raised her  grease smeared arms in victory.  If they can revive a few more of these beasts, the allies may yet have a chance. is a website for getting the muse warmed up. Each day you get one word and sixty seconds in which to write what it inspires.This is my entry for today's One Word. What's yours? For more of my past One Word entries, check out my One Word Profile EliseV.
Your turn, 60 seconds. Go!

Monday, April 16, 2018

New York Can Wait

Cynthea walked though the airport and sighs. He’s late, he wanted me to come to New York and he’s late.

Five more minutes she decided to give him before getting a taxi. Then she heard him call her name and wave as he hurried though the crowd. In his hand was a large bouquet of white roses. 

He rushed to her, his arms sliding around her as his lips pressed to hers in a passionate kiss. Cynthea sighed into the kiss hugged him back. Emotions and memories flooded though her.

His fingers curled into the back of her hair as the kiss deepened… and a small child plowed into them skating on his Heelys. 

The boy grabbed around their legs to keep from falling. Connor tried to keep his balance and hold onto Cynthea at the same time. The magic of the moment interrupted Connor peeled the boy from their legs.

The boy’s mother rushed over. “Bobby, Bobby honey, are you alright?”

Connor sighed a bit aggravated. He wanted the moment to be special, it had already been delayed by a traffic accident on the way. “We’re fine too, thank you for asking.” 

The mother gave him a look as though they shouldn’t have been in her son’s way. Cynthea nudged him and grinned. “You’re late.”

He laughed that wonderful staccato laugh and offered the flowers with a hand over his heart. “I’m sorry, there was an accident on the freeway and we were held up for miles.”

Cynthea took the roses inhaling their sweet scent as she watched him pick up her suitcase. She missed him, maybe they should give it another try. Maybe.

They settled in the back seat of the taxi. As they make their way though the streets Connor covered her hand with his and laced their fingers. “Have you missed something, in New York?”

She turned her from her view of the cityscape Cynthea nodded with a grin. “That pizza place on 8th. I could really go for a slice right now.” When Connor’s head tipped forward to hide his grin, she reached over and gently pulled her hand though his hair. “I kind of missed you too.”

His dark eyes looked up at her as he leaned forward. Their lips almost touching as the cabbie slammed on the breaks. The cab skidded forward on the pavement, Cynthea slipped off the seat into the floorboard and who knows what had been there before her.  “Arrgh… gross.”

Connor helped her up back to the seat and glared up at the cabbie. Not for the rough stop. He opened his back door and handed their fare to the driver. “You’ve got a suitcase with wheels don’t you?”

Cynthea stepped out and looked at him.” I didn’t pack that much, but yes.”

When she turned to step up on the sidewalk, he saw the back of her coat. Connor looked at her softly. “Um, sweetheart… “

She looked back and then tried to see what he’s pointing at. He helped her off with her coat and she grimaced seeing the back. “I don’t even want to know just toss it in the trunk. He can have it as a bonus.”

He pulled off his coat for her, he grined softly as he helps her roll the sleeves up. “This one is cuter on you anyway.”

She grinned and kissed his cheek. “It smells like your cologne.”

They laugh it off and start down the street hand in hand. After about two blocks, Connor slid his arm around her waist and walked with her against his side. She relaxed against him and everything felt right again.

They stopped at the corner across from his building. He reached over and pressed the crosswalk button. “We’re almost there.”

She grinned and stepped forward nuzzling his neck. “Finally.”

He looked down into her eyes; they were dark shimmering pools he could get lost in for hours. His fingertips caress her cheek as his lips brush over hers before….

A car sped around the corner and splashed them with water from the earlier rains. Cynthea squeaked in surprise then looked down. They were both drenched.

Connor swore, he couldn’t even get a kiss in edgewise. The light changed and they could walk across. He took hold of her hand and case hurrying to the center of the street.

Cynthea was thoroughly aggravated now. This was an omen that this whole trip was a bad idea. When he stopped half way across the street she wasn’t in the mood for anything else. “Connor…”

He stopped her speech when he turned and pulled her close. His lips pressed to hers gently then deeper until her arms wrapped around him. They kissed passionately in the middle of the street. Their hearts racing, cars honking, people yelling and whistling.

Cynthea didn’t hear any of it only the beat of his heart the feel of his kiss. This is why she fell in love with him. He made her feel as though there were nothing else in the world.

Everyone else wanted to interrupt their moment. He was going to take it right there and the rest of New York could wait.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Movies with the write character

Writers write stories but they make great characters too. Quite a few movies have been made with writers as the staring character. Here are a few of my favorites, and many of them started life as a book. :) 

Swimming Pool
Mystery Writer Sara Morton needs a change of view. Her publisher offers the use of his French villa for her to write and relax. (yes at this point I’m insanely jealous.)  The beautiful villa has a large swimming pool which becomes a common element between Sara and the young Julie claiming to be the publisher’s daughter shows up out of the blue, bringing chaos and intrigue into Sara’s well ordered world.

I enjoyed watching Sara go from being a strict well ordered woman to finding her self doing things far out side her comfort zone.

Secret Window 
Demented John Shooter accuses mystery writer Mort Rainey of stealing his story. Claiming he wrote it first. Shooter demands restitution and for Rainey to tell the world the truth.

Through out the film you’re never quite sure what the truth is. There are hints of it if you really know where to look. Johnny Depp portrays Rainey with is usual witty and entertaining way. With a conclusion with a twist that will tickle any mystery buff.

State of Play
This is the American adaptation of the British series. Of course there is no way to pack all the great stuff from the series into a 2 hour movie but I think we did a pretty good job representing the spirit of it with this version.

Russell Crowe (*sighs dreamily*) plays journalist Cal McCaffery. He’s assigned to a story which involves his old college buddy turned politician, played by Ben Affleck. The more Cal digs into the truth the more dangerous it becomes. For he and his side kick Della.

Of course it doesn’t help that Cal, had an affair back in the day with said buddy’s wife. You’ve got a powerful story of politics, cover ups, romance, and murder. Who done it, who’s still doing it, and who’s going to cover it up.

True Crime
Clint Eastwood plays the hard core, boozing, skirt chasing reporter Steve Everett. Everett is sent to San Quentin to interview a man on death row. The inmate claims to be innocent, the evidence against him was all circumstantial.

Something about the story rings in Everett’s ears. He sets out to find the truth, did the man awaiting execution in a matter of hours murder that woman or was it mistaken identity. Something else that appeals to me, this story is based on a real life event. It’s a thrilling tale not just about the inmate and his truth but the revelations Everett has about his own life.

There you have it four films to sink your writer’s teeth into. So pop some corn and heat up the DVD player for a night of great writing on screen.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Ladies Never Cheat

The rowdy noise of the saloon floor rose up to where Caroline and some of the girls leaned on the balcony rail. Caroline took a long breath as she gazed down at the floor.

Miners had started to fill the room, their pockets filled with gold nuggets and ready to spend their new found fortunes. Caroline was ready to relieve them of it. One man burst with laughter, her husband had laughed that way. May he rest in hell.

With that thought it was time to get to work. She checked her bodice and her gun hidden in her skirt, and then walked down the stairs. A young miner eager for company caught her hand at the landing. “How much for your time? “

She raised a brow was he referring to her as a … she tilted her head with a sassy grin. “Sorry, darlin’, you can’t afford me?”

Caroline paused at the bar to pick up a bottle. After a glance around, she sat near the poker table to watch the players for a few hands. After the fourth hand played one of the men folded, closed his cards and gathered what was left of his wealth.

When he vacated the table with the remainder of his cash to the bar, Caroline smiled as she takes the seat. “Evening boys, mind if I take some of your money?”

A few laughed heartily as she poured herself a drink and tossed her ante into the pot. The pot was well stocked with cash and gold bits. She would be able to move out of this stink hole and into the hotel for a few days on this kit.

The dealer began the ritualistic shuffle and toss of cards before he passed them round. Caroline waited until all five were dealt before she picked them up in her dainty gloved fingers.

The player to her left a well-to-do rancher leaned over with a grin. “Just match the numbers, honey.”

Caroline closed her cards and held them to breast, with an innocent expression. “Thank you, for your advice. I’m such a novice at the game.”

Three hours later….

The dealer called for the final time and Caroline laid a straight flush across the table top. Two of the men swore and sighed as they tossed their cards back to the dealer. The third shook his head. “You must have that beginners luck or somthin, Miss Watson.”

Caroline grinned and reached out to pull the large pot her way. “Thank you, gentlemen. It’s been a true pleasure meeting your acquaintance this evening.”

The rancher scoffed and grabbed her wrist. “You’re not taking my money. This was a con of some sort.” He jerked her sleeve up searching; the pearl buttons snapped off and tumbled into the cash.

Caroline tried to pull her arm back but his grip was too tight. “Sir, I assure you, my game has been honest. Or do you question my skill as to deflect attention from the real cheat?”

“Lady, I don’t know what your scheme is but I know a cheat when I see one.” He squeezed her wrist tighter just to make his point as the other men around the table started to question and protest.

Calmly she reached to his far vest pocket with her free hand. Caroline slipped the ace from her cuff. From the view of the other men around them, it appeared she pulled the card from his pocket. “So do I, sir. I think these gents do as well.”

One player grabbed the rancher, another swung, it didn’t take long before Caroline was forgotten. She plucked the rancher’s hat from the back of the chair and swept everything from the table with her arm into it. She’d sort chips and shot glasses from the take later.

Caroline hurried upstairs for her bag and an exit out the window. It was a new year and time to find another town, she’s been too naughty here.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Kiss: 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.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Judging a book by its cover

I admit I do. Many, many times I have picked up a book because the cover caught my eye.The cover for a book is like the model for a swimsuit.

The thin sexy beauty gets up there and struts her stuff across the stage. Clad in the designers swimwear. Sure we like the bikini, but what sells us on going to the store and trying it on is the model.

She shows us how good it makes her look and we think, “I would look so hot in that.”  At least until we get into the dressing room. Once we get our not so modelish form squeezed into the bits of spandex will we know for sure if we really like it.

The same goes for a book cover we look at it and say ooo that’s a great cover. Caught by color or image and reach out to “try it on.”

Opening the book becomes stepping into the dressing room. We read the synopsis, the first few pages. Maybe give it the old page 99 test. Then we know if it’s a keeper or makes our butt look too big.

But it was the cover that got us that far. The best covers are simple, to the point. Eye catching colors or a stark image that says, “I’m the perfect fit.”

As a designer myself it’s very important to find the perfect image to capture the feel or meaning of the book. I want the reader to know what kind of story their looking at. At the same time I want it to grab attention and say, “Pick me, pick me!”

Not an easy task. Having a good designer is as important as having a good editor. You want a designer that will choose materials to bring your work to life.

Readers judge books by their covers, just like we do clothing on a model. The perfect cover design is just like that swimsuit. It will make you look sleek and sexy for all to oogle on the beach… er the bookshelf.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Images: Why every blogger should use them

Every blogger should use at least one image in their blog post. Why? Well, the answer is simple. Images are powerful tools all by themselves.

A picture is worth 1000 words. The right image can grab a reader’s attention faster or sometimes more effectively than words when they’re scrolling through posts on Facebook, G+ or other social media site. Images can be bold and dramatic or even just silly. Whatever the impact you need to make the right photo can reel them in.

Shareablility! Yeah, I made that word up, but it’s true. People will share a snappy photo or a hilarious meme and often your link right a long with it. Not to mention getting pinned. Pintrest is out growing most other social media sites in popularity.

Snappy Susie pins the photo of a cat from your blog to her boards. Then Pinner Pam says “oooo” and pins it to her board and clicks on the link to see if there are any more cool things to pin from your website or blog. The cycle continues when people pin the photo from those to their own boards and so on. Before you know it you’re blog is all over the web and you’ve got new followers. All thanks to Snappy Susie taking a liking to the cute kitty you posted with your blog.

Searchablility. Yes, images can help you in your SEO. I have gained a few readers who mentioned they stumbled across my blog because they were searching for something and a photo from my blog popped up on their list. The blog title or something about the description made them hop over and check out not only the photo but my blog too.

There is a trick to it though. It is recommended that you place  your photo to the side of your text or under the first couple of lines so that the SEO bots don’t hit it first and skip over the important words that will help boost you in search engines.

Screencaps for easier explanation. If your post is something instructive, it may help to have some
screenshots showing exactly what you’re referencing.

Makes it more enjoyable to read. A lot of text can get hard on the eyes. A long post broken up with an image or two can make it more appealing and easier on the eyes.

All of that to say, photos can make a difference and even boost your blog. Here are a few sites to find some blogger friendly/ royalty free/ and cost free photos. Be sure to check the licensing before you use the photo, some require a type of attribution.


Monday, April 9, 2018


A deep rumble woke Ben. He sat up and looked around the loft of the stable thinking he’d been
caught by old man McKeen.

The rumble came again only louder. It wasn’t the old geezer tossing him out, it was Ben’s stomach. Four days, it was four days ago his mama had left him at the station.

She left him behind, telling him to sit and wait. She would be right back with the tickets. They’d go to Virginia to live with his aunt. Mama never came back from the ticket booth. Her carpetbag was gone. All Ben had was his small pack and the Bible she gave him.

Dawn was breaking. He needed to get out before the old man really did catch him. Quietly, Ben made his way to the street and around the backs of the buildings. Maybe he could find a scrap of something. Anything he was so hungry.

His insides felt like they were shriveling up as he stopped at the rain barrel by the inn. Cupping his hands he took a few long drinks to try and fill the void.

As he splashed water on his face a scent drifted down the alleyway. Ben’s stomach clenched with hunger as the scent filled his nostrils with one of his favorite things in the world.

Fresh baked bread was somewhere close, very close. He sniffed at the air and turned down the alley. He followed the smell, stomach growling loud enough to make the stray dog napping in the shade raise his head.

Ben stopped at the window there they were. Three fresh baked loaves of bread. The steam was still rising off the tops. His tongue licked along his bottom lip as he took a step forward to get a deeper breath of it.

Something hit him on the back. Mr. Grove the owner of the inn shook the broom he’d just walloped Ben with. “Get, you urchin. Take your filthy self back to the gutters.”

Didn’t he recognize him? His mama had done some work at the inn. “Mr. Grove, sir… “

Before Ben could finish the broom was raised again. He raised his little skinny arms and ran back down the alley.

The innkeeper satisfied the boy was gone went back to sweeping the stoop.

Ben sat behind a barrel and rubbed his lower back. He could still smell the bread. It made his mouth water. If he didn’t eat something soon he’d turn to dust and blow away.

He tried to drink some more water to fill his gut, but, that only made his stomach groan and ache worse. The bread smelled so good.

He could feel it in his hands warm with a crispy crust and soft fluffy inside. It would melt in his mouth as he took a bite. 

The sound of the inn’s back door closing made him open his eyes. Mr. Grove had gone back inside. There wasn’t anyone in the alley.

He crawled on his hands and knees to sit under the window so he could smell the bread. His belly ached to the point of tears now. Ben was so hungry. He could take it. There were two more loaves. They surely wouldn’t miss one.

No, he couldn’t take it. He didn’t have no money and stealing was a sin. Ben’s mama always told him to be good. Be a good boy and grow into a good man. He couldn’t do that if he stole. That would make him bad.

Lifting his face up, he could feel the warmth from the fresh loaves. If he didn’t eat soon he wouldn’t make it past the age of eight to become any kind of man.

Stomach tight with hunger Ben raised his arms up and grabbed the edge of the cheesecloth. Slowly he pulled it toward him.

Mrs. Grove called out to her husband startling Ben. He jerked his arms back and hugged his knees waiting for the innkeeper to come back with the broom. Nothing happened.  Mrs. Grove went back to humming.

Sitting there had become torture, he didn’t want to make his mama angry. What if she came back and found him with the stolen bread. She’d have his hide for sure.

Ben looked up at the loaf. It had been four days since he saw his mama last at the station. She wasn’t coming back, no one was going to help him. He had to help himself.

He stood stomach aching and growling as his breath panted with fear and excitement. Before he could change his mind again Ben reached out and grabbed a loaf of bread. He took off running as fast as he could behind the buildings.

Turning a corner he ran to the ladder of the livery loft and climbed up. Hiding behind a stack of hay bales he hugged the loaf to his chest. It was still warm and smelled so good. He was panting still from his run. Waiting for someone to catch him.

When there were no shouts he began to relax and looked down at the bread. Ben licked his lips as his fingers dug into the crust and it apart. Steam flowed out as he pulled a hunk of the soft white fluff into his mouth.

Tears rolled down his face as he ate. His belly hurt from not having anything this solid in so long then it started to feel full. That feeling was the best thing he’d ever felt. He wasn’t a good boy anymore. Maybe he wouldn’t be a good man but he wouldn’t be hungry again.

Part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge for the letter H 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Getting visible for authors and their books

The hardest part of being an author isn’t writing the novel or even publishing. The hardest part is getting visible. In the not really so distant past authors had to depend on road trips to different bookstores and venues to grab attention. If they were really lucky, someone would land a TV or radio spot. Possibly get reviews from newspapers and magazines.

Those venues are still there and can be successful in reaching readers, but they can also be expensive and possibly limited to local areas. In today’s digital age authors can reach not just one city but the entire globe. All from their computer and often in their pajamas.

Why yes, I am wearing my comfiest jams right now, complete with fuzzy slippers. So don’t judge. ;o) Now let’s get back on topic…

The problem with this global reach is… well, it’s global, global is huge. The ways to reach out and grab your audience in that vast sea of readers is huge too. So how does one author and their books become visible? Create your internet platform with two kinds of sites. Listings/Profiles and Social Media.

We all know about social media like G+, Facebook, Twitter, etc.… Those sites take constant checking and maintaining in order for them to work properly for the author. All that checking, posting and commenting can take a lot of time.

That’s where listing sites come in. There are many sites out there that allow you to sign in and list your profile and books then leave. You just have to come back every so often to make sure your page is updated and working properly.  Just dropping off a profile doesn’t sound very effective, but there are more of these sites than there are social media.

There are sites for every kind of genre, niche or just general book and author listings. People browse these
sites to find something new or interesting that goes with their interests, making it very easy to stumble upon your author page. Giving you the chance to snare a new reader, they may even share your page on their social sites brining more possible readers.

I know, I know your social media takes up so much time, how can you add one more place? The most time you’ll spend on a listing pages will be during the first time you sign up and create your profile. After that five minutes max every few months on on a need to do basis to update your page is worth the possibility of hooking more readers isn’t it?

Almost every niche you can think of has at least one listing site where you can put up a profile and gain more exposure. There’s another benefit to an author spreading themselves around the web, it adds more chances of the author’s name or book title being picked up by search engines. We all know that’s a plus.

Here are a few good listing sites to get started.

And many more, so go find your niche and get visible.

Do you use any other listing sites you would like to share?

For the A to Z Blog Challenge for the letter G

Friday, April 6, 2018

Farrier's Fate

The heavy scent of sulfur filled his nose when he walked into the barn. An icy chill slid down his spine as he raised his lantern. A figure stood in the center of the barn. The farrier moved toward it. “You sent for me, sir?”

The figure in black let out a breath from the stump of his neck. Once there was a head there surely. Now only gore and bone, the creature gave off an odor of decay mixed with rose petals. He raised his arm and extended a long finger toward a stall.

The farrier nodded with a half bow before moving to it. He never knew how to address the coachman. The thing must have some kind of supernatural sight to guide The Black Coach on its nightly collection of spirits.

The beast in the stall raised its head as the farrier stepped into its domain. Its muscles flexed under the onyx skin as a hoof stomped and scraped the wood floor.

He reached out a hand and stroked the nightmare's neck. It turned a blood red eye to meet his. The farrier looked away before it could see into his soul. Those eyes could make a man relive his deepest pain.

He set down the bag of tools and pulled on the thick heatproof gloves. They were cumbersome at times but better to deal with the discomfort and aggravation of the gloves than to have his hands burnt with the heat the beasts gave off.

Perhaps it was the heat of their bodies that caused the metal to twist and warp on their hooves.  Their manes and tails looked like hellfire dancing as they ferried the coach. Fables have said they were fallen souls such as him. Others guess they were created from hellfire in the great pit. Or perhaps it was better not to know. His soul knew too much of this place already.

He lifted the hoof between his thighs to examine the warped metal shoe. As he worked to reshoe the demon horse his mind recalled the night the coach came for him. Not to take him to the next life, that would have been a blessing.

He stood over the corpses, his hands dripped in blood and gore. The last victim had taken their final breath and he stood over the body, to watch the eyes fade as the soul left the body. It was then he heard the thunder of hoof beats.

He turned and ran down the alleyway, turned corner after corner until the sound faded. When his lungs started to burn he stopped and leaned against a trash bin to catch his breath. He was sure he’d escaped his fate. Until he felt the darkness around him move.

The farrier looked down the alley and there sitting at the end, waiting for him. The Black Coach, the nightmares stomped and shifted impatient to get on with their task.

The Coachman walked headless over the cobbled ground toward the farrier. What happened next was too much for his mind to bare remembering.

The Coachman’s cold fingers sunk into his body and tore out his coward’s spine.

 The dark creature now used it for his whip. The farrier was cursed to serve The Black Coach until his soul paid for his evil deeds.

He finished with the last tack and dropped the hoof with hands that trembled. He gathered his tools quickly to go back into his abyss until the next time he was needed. This would be his fate for a long time to come.

Part of the A to Z Blog Challenge for the letter F

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Eve of Battle

Ben rinsed his tin plate with the last sip of his coffee.  The ragged tent did little to keep out the winter winds. He longed for another hot cup of brew but his ration was low and the troop’s supplies had not yet made it through the fighting. What he had left would better serve him in the morning.

His breath fogged the air in front of him as he searched his pack for his last sheet of precious paper. He carefully set out his ink and pen before lighting the nub of a candle he had left.  In one hand, he held the pen, in the other his most prize possession a photograph of his wife and young son. He gazed at the images for a moment before he began to write.

He sighed softly as his thumb caressed the frame of the photo. That spot worn smooth by the times he’d sat and looked at them, and reminisced of home. It was where he longed to be, teaching his son to keep his heels down as he rode his pony. If he survived tomorrow, he will be another day closer to home.

It was going to be a long hard battle. He glanced back at the noise of his men playing poker for matchsticks. Money had become more precious that it was that night years ago. He was young, full of whiskey and spit when he almost lost all he had to a gambler. He’d been saved by pure luck that night.

Since joining the war near the middle of 61’, he’d become more adept at the game. There wasn’t much energy left the end of the day for more than a few hands of cards. It was a kind of escape for Ben, a moment of normality amongst hours of bloodshed or tedious march.

Ben had joined some of his men after supper, earlier that night. He had been quite fortunate, his stack of matches had doubled from the night before. Just as he was about to offer a friendly jib about his card sharp skills, he looked down. Lady luck had seen fit to remind him of that night long ago. 

He felt his gut knot as his eyes gazed upon a king, two aces and two eights. Dead man’s hand for the second time in a decade, omens were fickle. They would appear, but then wouldn’t tell you what they meant or who for.

He sighed deeply and closed the cards to hide the dark ones behind the smiling king. “I fold, gentlemen. I owe my wife a long overdue letter.”

Ben tossed the cards into the center of the table and quickly moved into his tent. Where he now sat at the small table with the photo in hand as he wrote. His eyes fell to the still discarded omen as it lay next to his pile of matches.

He admitted those cards unnerved him. With the morning looming closer, it felt as though a bill was about to be called due. Before battle breaks in the morning, perhaps he should see the good Reverend for one of those blessings he was so fond of dispensing.  

Part of the A to Z blogging Challenge for the letter E