Wednesday, May 30, 2012

WoW: Highlighting Traitor and NA Alley

I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend! If it wasn't a holiday weekend where you live, then I hope you still had time to spend with friends and family. It was a nice one here in Southern California, not too hot, not too cold, just right for walking to the park near my home with the little one. What about you?

Highlighting other Writers

I found Rachel Morgan over the long weekend and saw that she had released the third installment in her Creepy Hollow novelette series, Traitor.
Violet and Nate may have escaped the labyrinth, but only one of them came out unscathed. Nate is now the bearer of a mysterious eye-shaped tattoo, a mark he has no memory of receiving. While Vi is intent on discovering the meaning of the tattoo, Nate seems less interested. His experience in the labyrinth has caused recurring nightmares, and he’d prefer to pretend none of it ever happened. But Vi has never been one to let a mystery go unsolved, and she’ll do whatever she can to discover who’s behind the tattoo—even if it means leaving Nate out of her plan.
                                                                                 - Amazon Description

If you're like me, since I'm new to Rachel's writing, you may have to start from the beginning, but I don't think she'll mind. Check it out for yourself and pay Rachel a visit on her blog!

The other blog I found highly interesting over the weekend was NA Alley. It is run by seven bloggers spreading the awareness of a genre still in its infancy called NA, or New Adult, fitting between YA and Adult. I had never heard of it before, but it makes sense. The college years usually just get lumped into adult fiction, but NA gives them a place all their own. It's fascinating and I'm thrilled to have found it. Pay NA Alley a visit, don't fret about the pickpockets, and join the discussion!

Provex City News

Have you heard of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge? It's a blogfest challenge to read 12 YA or MG books that have been published (or self-published) this year by debut authors and review them on your blog and Goodreads.

Hey, I'm a debut author with a YA book available! I can be a participant and a promoter. *devious grin* So I'm working on getting Provex City promoted in the challenge. I added it to the official Goodreads list--though I'm not really sure if I was supposed to do that myself. I emailed the moderator, but haven't yet gotten a reply. Hopefully, this challenge can help Provex City get a few more reviews!

Any interesting Memorial Day weekend stories? Have you checked out Traitor or at least visited Rachel's blog? How about NA Alley--ready to join the charge? Are you up for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge? There just so happens to be one more day to sign up!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day is a Great Day to Say Thank You

I had a blast participating in Cherie Reich's 2nd Annual Flash Fiction Blogfest and I'd just like to thank Cherie again for hosting it! She announced the six finalists on Friday, an eclectic collection of stories, all of which are great reads (certainly something for everyone). You can check them out right here:

I want to thank Ninja Captain Alex again for visiting my blog on Friday and sharing some thoughts on his humble beginnings. He is a writing and blogging inspiration to me, and by reading the comments on his posts every few days, I know there are many other writers/bloggers who feel similarly. I just hope my post did him and his first novel, CassaStar, justice.

From these two events, I've received comments from a number of new bloggers and I'd like to formally welcome you all. I appreciate you stopping by and I hope we can talk more.

Something I've come across time and again as I've been working my way though new blogs over the weekend is the cover release of Ciara Knight's novella, Weighted, which is set for an August release. I'd like to show my support as well and display the cover here. It looks freakin' awesome!  

Here's the blurb: The Great War of 2185 is over, but my nightmare has just begun. I am being held captive in the Queen’s ship awaiting interrogation. My only possible ally is the princess, but I’m unsure if she is really my friend or a trap set by the Queen to fool me into sharing the secret of my gift. A gift I keep hidden even from myself.  It swirls inside my body begging for release, but it is the one thing the Queen can never discover. Will I have the strength to keep the secret? I’ll know the answer soon. If the stories are true about the interrogators, I’ll either be dead or a traitor to my people by morning.

Are you a fan of Silversun Pickups? Their third album, Neck of the Woods, came out a few weeks ago and I've been listening to it exhaustively. I don't think it's better than Swoon; it feels more like a continuation than a progression of their sound. I hear more eighty's new wave influences in this album,  which I enjoy matched with Brian's raspy vocals.  

It is Memorial Day, so let's all take a moment of silence for those who have given their lives for the United States. And if you see a member of the US Armed Forces while you're out, please take a moment to say "thank you."

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Flash Review: CassaStar

This is a brand new Friday Flash - my first Friday Flash Review! And I'm starting right at the top with Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh's first book, CassaStar. And I was lucky enough to have Alex stop by and share a few thoughts, which you'll find below my review, so please keep reading.

Goodreads Description of CassaStar...

Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the Moon base of Guaard. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.

My Humble Opinion...

Alex wrote a sci-fi novel that will appeal to more than sci-fi readers. CassaStar is a character driven story delivered to the reader through a sci-fi universe. It is not bogged down with the world building detail that sci-fi and fantasy books typically have, but paints enough of a picture and lets the reader fill in the rest. Alex has written a streamlined story that propels the plot forward at an enjoyable pace from beginning to end.

CassaStar primarily focuses on the relationship between the rookie, maverick pilot, Byron, and his experienced and highly decorated instructor/navigator, Bassa. From the beginning, Bassa sees Byron as his late younger brother and takes a special interest in him. Byron enters the flight training program as a cocky loner and an extremely gifted pilot with the rare gift of “jumping” (teleporting). Preparing for battle against an alien race called the Vindicarn, the men are dependent on each other for survival. Pilots and navigators communicate through telepathy, allowing unfiltered access to the other’s suppressed thoughts, memories, and fears. Trust is essential. But trust has to be earned, which is how the relationship between the two men is tested and strengthened throughout the story.

As much as I enjoyed CassaStar, I would like to know more about the Vindicarn. The closest we, the readers, come to them is from a spaceship away in battle, never up close. They are a faceless villain. But that would just add description, not change the story. CassaStar is a powerful story of friendship and trust, honor and self-sacrifice. Alex takes a familiar and universal storyline and builds a powerful and unique story. The second book in the trilogy, CassaFire, is currently available, and I’m looking forward to continuing the journey.  

A few minutes with Alex...

Thanks so much for joining me today! You are a giant in the blogging world, with an impressive list of loyal followers, and starting your third book, CassaStorm. So I very much appreciate you taking a few minutes out of your busy day to talk with me.

What were your biggest influences and inspiration for CassaStar?
The biggest influences were science fiction movies and shows such as Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, and Buck Rogers. I liked the idea of adventure in space. Galactica probably influenced me the most, as I really liked the Vipers and battle sequences. There’s also a bit of Star Trek in there as well, because the human element is the most important.

Looking back to when you just started your blog, two short years ago, how did you go about attacking the blogging world? What was your experience like just starting out?
I had no idea what I was doing! I started my blog on November 9, 2009 with a post that basically said “Hi, I’m Alex.”  I found a couple nice bloggers who helped me out and I started following other bloggers. In the beginning, I followed a lot of science fiction bloggers, but for some reason wasn’t connecting. After six months, I had a little over thirty followers. (Sounds depressing, doesn’t it?)

Finding Arlee Bird and joining the first A to Z Challenge changed everything. I finished April with over eighty followers and finally found my groove. I realized the easiest thing for me to talk about was my passions, so rather than focus on the fact I was a writer soon to be an author, I started blogging about movies, music, tech stuff, and other geeky pursuits. I held my first blogfest, the Movie Dirty Dozen, and it all snowballed from that point.

 Where did the “Ninja Captain” come from?
That title came from my followers almost two years ago. I guess because I write science fiction, someone dubbed me the Captain. (Old Kitty, perhaps?) The Ninja came from my ability to get in and comment fast. (At least, that’s what I remember!) I’ve been given many other titles since then, but those two stuck. And now I really am the Ninja Captain of an army of followers. Just blows me away!

Thank you again, Alex! It has been a real pleasure sharing a post with you. Below are links to Alex's blog and Twitter, and information on CassaStar and the second installment, CassaFire. Be sure to check them both out. Thank you for reading. Thank you to Alex. I'll do my best to stop by your blogs this weekend, and I'll be right back here first thing on Monday. Have a wonderful holiday weekend, everyone!

Alex J. Cavanaugh

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh
6x9 Trade paperback, 246 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction - space opera/adventure
Print ISBN 978-0-9816210-6-7 $15.95
EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-3-8 $2.99

“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh
6x9 Trade paperback, 240 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction - space opera/adventure
Print ISBN 978-0-9827139-4-5 $15.95
EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-6-9 $4.99
Book Trailer -

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

WoW: Your/You're in for a Treat

 Writing Tip: You're vs. Your

I didn't want to screw up my new schedule on the second week in, but I entered the 2nd Annual Flash Fiction Blogfest on Monday and want extra time to check out all the blogs participating. I definitely recommend you checking out the link, or blogs on the linky in my previous post.

So I'll keep this brief. I ran across this video on Monday and found it interesting: it's of a white rapper, Mac Lethal (I don't listen to much rap and hadn't heard of him until stumbling upon this video), explaining the difference between you're and your, which is one of many common mistaking in writing. I must admit his rapping is hilarious, informative, and impressive. ***Advisory: if you're offended by swearing, don't watch this video.***

Provex City News

Julie at What Else is Possible? mentioned Provex City in her post last Friday, which is awesome and I can't thank her enough!
A few comments from last week advised me to do a blog tour for my book, which sounds great, so I'll have to look into what I need to do to make that happen.

The other thing I really want to take advantage of is utilizing Goodreads. I still haven't done much with it, but I know there are a lot of authors and readers on that site and it's a great place to meet more people and promote. Wish me luck! Friend me, if you haven't already. :)
Work in Progress

Well, I've written about 1000 words in Book 2 over the past week, which is not something to brag about. But at least I did 2 new flash fiction pieces, which I am proud of. My writing routine at work has been disrupted as of late and hopefully I can get my time back real soon because I'm so close! I've just delivered Oliver into a huge heap of danger and need to find a way to get him out of it. The funny thing is that I don't know how he's going to escape yet, and if everyone he's with will escape with him, but I'll think of something.

Do you place your characters into situations where you don't know how you'll get them out until they're already in the middle of it? Did I use you're vs. your right each time in this post? Don't answer that one.

On Friday, I'll post my very first review, and it is of Alex J. Cavanaugh's CassaStar. The Ninja Captain himself may even stop by and share a few'll have to check back to find out!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lightning Flashed!

I found this Flash Fiction Blogfest yesterday and was really excited to participate. Thank you to Cherie Reich for hosting it!

Here are the rules:
  1. Entries must begin with the two words: Lightning flashed.
  2. Entries must be 300 words or less.
  3. Entries must be posted on your blog between May 21 - 23.
  4. You must sign up in the linky to have your entry counted.
My flash fiction clocks in at exactly 300 words (including the title)! I hope you enjoy it, and the links to the other awesome bloggers participating is posted below, so be sure to check them out!

Facing the Pane

Lightning flashed, and I wished I hadn’t been looking out the window when it did. For a split second, I saw her standing on the sidewalk facing my house, her carmine dress and stringy blond hair drenched and dripping from the rising storm. Then she was gone again, swallowed by the unforgiving darkness as thunder tolled ominously overhead.
I didn’t know her well, but I was there. Everyone at school knew what had happened, but only a few of us knew the truth. She had visited all the others in the group and now she was visiting me. I couldn’t peel myself away from the window, from her still silhouette.
When lightning flashed again, she appeared halfway up my front yard, her body deathly still, her eyes fixed on me. My hand shook as I clutched the curtain with white knuckles, but I couldn’t let it fall. I couldn’t let her out of my sight—even if all I could see was her spectral shadow standing slightly more than a striking distance away.
The next thunderclap shook the house. The storm was directly overhead. She was right here in front of me, shrouded, but I could still picture her clearly. I could still hear her screaming. I could still—
My muscles tensed involuntarily and sweat trickled down my face as I awaited the next flash. And when it came, where she had been stationed was once again empty. I leaned in closer, placed my free hand against the frosted pane, and scanned the yard. That was when I saw her statuesque figure slowly ascending my two front steps.
I waited for the lightning’s better half, but it didn’t come, only the fierce rapping of my final visitor at the front door.
Lightning flashed; the door swung open.

Lucky 7 - Round Two!

I was tagged for the Lucky 7 MeMe by a truly wonderful and exciting blogger, Mina Burrows. If you're not a follower, then you damn well should be. :)

I participated in this MeMe about two months ago, so I'll place a link to my answers HERE. They may not be new, but their still good...and true. I hope you enjoy. Thanks again, Mina!

I'm a Kreativ Blogger...Who Knew?

Two bloggers I love to visit regularly, Candilynn: Writer for Young People and Gina: Diary of a Writer in Progress nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award. Thank you, Candilynn and Gina, and if you haven't checked out their blogs yet, it’s time you did!!

Here's how the award works:
  1. Thank and link back to the person who presented you with the award.
  2. Answer the ten questions below. 
  3.  Share ten random facts/thoughts about yourself.   
  4. Nominate seven worthy blogs for the Kreativ Blogger Award.
What is your favorite song?
A song I recently found that I can’t stop listening to (I heard it on the season finale of Shameless and had to download it immediately after) is Winter by Joshua Radin.

What is your favorite dessert?
Strawberry cheesecake

What ticks you off?
People who always have to be on their phones. I just heard that Virgin Airlines may soon start allowing people to talk on their cell phones during flights. That sounds like a terrible idea!

When you're upset, what do you d--
Go for a drink…then usually stop and take a Gatorade.

Which is/was your favorite pet?
 I can’t choose between my Chiweenies, Bugsy and Violet, though most people who have met them both would choose Violet.  

Which do you prefer, black or white?
Black. Black is slimming. Haha.

What is your biggest fear?
Not getting to see my little one grow up.

What is your attitude mostly?
I try to remain positive and hopefully, and as long as I keep telling myself that, then it will be or become true.

What is perfection?
Whenever I hear the word “perfection” I think of Friends when Chandler was stuck in a bank vestibule with Jill Goodacre:
Chandler: You know, on second thought, gum would be perfection. (Thinking) Gum would be perfection? Gum would be perfection. Could have said, gum would be nice, or, I'll have a stick, but no. For me, gum is perfection. I loathe myself.

What is your guilty pleasure?
The Bachelor and Bachelorette.

Ten random things about me...
  1. I was born in New Hampshire.
  2. I am related to one of the most forgettable American presidents (it’s an easy guess).
  3. I can never drink peppermint schnapps again.
  4. I am a Sigma Nu.
  5. I met my wife online (my true match).
  6. I’ve never been stung by a bee.
  7. I have a mugshot, hopefully not circulating. I’ve never seen it, but I’m sure it’s bad.
  8. I love concerts, but hate large groups of people. It’s a dilemma.
  9. I have no tattoos, but there are several I’d like to one day get (including the Lorne initiation tattoo).
  10. I get queasy around needles (a trait I hope my daughter doesn’t get from me).
Since this award seems to be circulating quite a bit and most of the bloggers I’d give it to already have been nominated, I’m only going to choose three more. I don’t want to give it to anyone just to fill a list out of obligation. I want to give it to bloggers I talk to and I feel really exemplify Kreativity! Thank you again!

 (Don't feel obligated to participate, especially if you've done it before. It's just for fun and an extra thank you for being awesome.)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Flash Fiction: The Man in the Hawaiian Shirt

Jimmy awoke with his head pounding, which was not a new occurrence. The familiar pressure behind his eyes and sour remnants in the back of his throat were a small price to pay from a previous night of exuberant drinking. But when he awoke, he always awoke safely in his bed—until today.
His eyes had to adjust to the unusually bright room. It didn’t take him long to recognize he was in a hospital bed, positioned between the door and a curtain pulled halfway across the room.
In a chair across from him sat a man in a Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts, and penny loafers without socks. He sat casually with his legs crossed and an open newspaper that covered his face.
“Hello?” Jimmy said, just trying to get the man’s attention.
The newspaper lowered and the man behind it smiled. His hair couldn’t seem to reach the top of his head and his circular lenses magnified his blue eyes.
“Jimmy, you’re awake,” he said. “I thought I’d be waiting here longer. How do you feel?”
Jimmy was more than a little confused. He tried to recall the events of the night before and if this man somehow surfaced into those memories—but the memories were not there.
“I don’t know.” Jimmy brought a hand to his face and felt a bandage over his nose. His left arm was in a cast. “I’m still in one piece. Do I know you? I’m sorry if I met you last night and don’t remember.”
“No, it’s nothing like that—but there isn’t much time. Do you remember anything?”
The pounding in Jimmy’s head made it next to impossible for him to think clearly. He tried to recall. He was at a bar with friends. Some girls joined the group. There were shots between beers. He had intermittent smokes in the alley. After last call, he got into his car alone…
“Why isn’t there much time?” Jimmy asked hoarsely.
“You were in an accident.”
Jimmy bit his lip as flashes of the accident returned like a broken movie reel.
“Did I cause it?”
The man in the Hawaiian shirt nodded. “The lady you hit is on the other side of that curtain.”
Jimmy couldn’t believe his ears. He was always cautious behind the wheel after drinking, on the lookout for cops along his route home. He would never be so careless—and this man was making it sound like he was there.
“Who are you?” Jimmy’s voice trembled.
“The husband of the poor lady is sitting at her bedside. She doesn’t have long, and when she goes, that man in a fit of anguish and rage will come and kill you.”
“So you have to decide—I can take you now, put you to sleep peacefully or you can stay here and wait for him to come for you.”
“You’re insane!” Jimmy exclaimed.
“I understand how you must feel. This is probably unsettling. I’m just advising you of what’s to come—giving you the facts. He will kill you and won’t even try to get away.” The man in the Hawaiian shirt folded his paper and set it on a chair to his left. “So which will it be?”
“I don’t understand what’s happening here! Are you going to kill me, too?” Jimmy reached for the remote control device on his bed and pressed the button for nurse assistance.
“Your button is defective. I’m sorry.”
Jimmy pressed it again, hoping a nurse would get the call. If one didn’t come soon, Jimmy was prepared to scream.
 “It’s almost time,” the man said, tapping on his wrist with his forefinger.
 “No,” Jimmy simply said, lying back and looking up at the ceiling, praying a nurse was just about to turn in.
Then the high pitched hum of a flatlining heart monitor consumed the room like everything else had gone silent.
“Olivia!” a male voice cried.
Seconds later, several nurses and doctors rushed into the room to perform emergency procedures on the lady slipping behind the curtain. Jimmy couldn’t see what was happening, but he could see that the man in the Hawaiian shirt no longer sat in the chair across the room. The man was gone.
An orderly rolled a smaller bed into the room and, seconds later, the lady was rolled away with great urgency. Jimmy could only assume the man following the gang of hospital staff out of the room was the husband. He looked over at Jimmy before exiting with a morose expression beaten into his face.
Jimmy let out a long breath with the relief of finally being alone. Now he could recollect the broken memories of the night before in peace and hopefully everything would be ok.
         Not five minutes later, the husband reemerged in the doorway with the same sullen expression as before. The two men stared at each other for a long moment without sharing a word. Then the husband stepped into the room and closed the door. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

WoW: First Wednesday on Writing!

 Writing Tip: Less is More.

Ernest Hemingway believed that through omission you could strengthen your story. The reader then must fill in those gaps with their own feelings and emotions. His Iceberg Theory states:
If a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing.
                                               - Ernest Hemingway in Death in the Afternoon

When Stephen King was in high school, submitting short stories to magazines, he received a rejection letter with a critique that he has used throughout his admirable career.
"Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft - 10%. Good luck."
                                                                           - Stephen King in On Writing

Both of these quotes speak to not over writing. Get to the point. Get to the action. Describe selectively and focus on things pertinent to the story, driving it forward. Let the reader fill in the gaps. Take out the fluff. The leaner story should be more clear and flow more gracefully. There is an elegance to simplicity. Less is more.

Provex City News

Have you checked out the Provex City review from Allison at Geek Banter? If not, then I've got just the link for you! CLICK HERE. Geek Banter is also a great blog to follow, so don't be shy.

I've been so focused on this blog that I haven't really gotten out and campaigned Provex City around the web. I'm looking into utilizing Goodreads and the Kindle Forums more. I think that's a good place to start, but do you have any other suggestions?

I have to make a decision soon as to whether I'll remain exclusive to Amazon to keep Provex City on the Kindle Lending Library or take the opportunity to put it up on Smashwords, which will distribute the ebook to other sites like Barnes&Noble and iBookstore.

I'm up to 16 reviews on Amazon, which is a great start. Now, how can I make it 100?

Work in Progress

Currently, my WIP is the second book in the Lorne Family Vault Series. For now, I'll just refer to it as Book 2. I've promised myself not to start using the title until I finish with my first draft, and as you can see from my left sidebar, I'm at 82,000 words with an estimated 110,000 for completion. It may only end up being 100,000, it's hard to tell, but I don't want to rush the climax. My writing has slowed as of late due to competing priorities, so my goal of finishing in a month's time is sliding back. Now, my goal is two months, and to hopefully have the book available by Halloween. Now that I've given myself some public deadlines (or estimated times of completion), I can't wait to see how I do.

How is your WIP going? Have you set goals for yourself? Do you have rewards planned for when you reach your goals? How much do you typically cut from a manuscript? Have you read a book by a fellow blogger that you'd like to recommend (I just finished CassaStar currently reading Slipstream, and just downloaded The Backworlds)?

Monday, May 14, 2012

First Loves Blogfest

This is a one day blogging event created by Captain Ninja Alex, and I'm thrilled to be participating. This blogfest is focused around four first loves: first song/band, first movie, first book, and first person. I will keep this short and sweet so you can hopefully hit a bunch of blogs in the event today. And so shall I after the little is put to bed this evening. Enjoy!

Music: The self titled Skid Row album took me from listening to Michael Jackson into hard rock. I was in elementary school when the album came out and it was the catalyst that changed my taste in music and made me want to learn to play guitar. The song "18 and Life" instantly became my favorite song and still remains one of my favorites to this day.

Movie: I saw National Lampoon's Animal House earlier than I probably should have and obviously didn't get a lot of the adult humor, but I still found it funny. It was a movie my father loved, which for some reason stuck with me. It's got some all-time classic movie lines and speeches: "Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!" I got to appreciate it even more with my few years of fraternity living. But mainly this movie is nostalgic for me, taking me back to those times as a kid watching it with my father.

Book: In the summer between 5th and 6th grade I read my first Stephen King book, Pet Sematary. It scared the crap out of me, but influenced me into wanting to become a horror writer. For the next few years I didn't want to read anything but Stephen King. Lucky, I've grown up and broadened my reading list, but this book will always take me back to that summer when I thought I was too old to read kid books anymore. It's funny how things change.

Person: My wife, Marion, really is my first true love. I met her when I was a young 27 and we just seemed to click from the beginning. Before her I hadn't been in a relationship that lasted for more than three months. I made a lot of mistakes with girls through my teens and early twenties, but all those mistakes just led me to her. She is such a beautiful, smart, loving, friendly, passionate woman, who in many ways saved my life. I feel so lucky and blessed to have her as my wife and look forward to each new day with her and our beautiful new addition, Gwendolyn. I'm looking forward to many wonderful years together.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Flash Fiction: The Blind Man's Trumpet

Gabriel watched a haggard looking man, known as Harry to the other transients in this section of the city, stumble into the crosswalk with the rest of the pedestrian traffic. He clutched an old trumpet in his left hand and a blind man’s cane in his right. Professionals of the Financial District gave him a wide berth as he tapped his way to the opposite sidewalk. The locals called him Dirty Harry.
Upon reaching the sidewalk, Harry stopped amidst the flow of people like a boulder in a river, lifted his trumpet to his chapped lips, and began to blow. He didn’t attempt a tune like a street performer, he just belted out a monotone scream that cut through the morning air like a sonic boom.
People in Harry’s vicinity fled the street corner. Others standing nearby kept their distance. The crowd grew as more people from surrounding buildings exited by the dozens at the trumpet’s emergency calling.
Gabriel observed as Harry’s trumpet screams caused a restless commotion to ripple through the gathered crowd. Passing cars slowed to see what was happening. Observers began to yell for Harry to stop, but he continued his warning undisturbed.
Finally, one man stepped out from the crowd and approached the lonely messenger. The man placed a cautious hand just past the bell of the trumpet and gave it a tug.
Harry screamed in a wild fit of flailing arms and ripped his trumpet from the stranger’s grip. Yelling in gabbling tongues, Harry stumbled back a step, swinging his cane until he found the man’s ankle. Now out of reach, Harry blew into his trumpet again with an even greater intensity.
The man looked around at the infuriated crowd and decided to reach for the trumpet again, this time pulling it with enough force to peel Harry’s lips from the mouthpiece. But Harry refused to give up his instrument, now in a bitter game of tug-of-war. His cane fell to the ground as he latched on with both hands to pull his endangered friend to freedom. The stranger refused to give up in front of all the spectators and held on tight.
Three more men leapt from the crowd and grabbed Harry, each by an arm, yanking the trumpet from his frantic hands in seconds. They tried their best to restrain him, but Harry refused to be restrained. He screamed incoherently, and kicked and spat at his aggressors. His bony arms were flexed and sweaty hands balled into fists as he thrashed his weight around in a desperate attempt to break free.
The man now holding the trumpet backed away as the other three men took over the fight. With a man securing each arm, the third man bent down to pick up Harry’s cane. Unable to anticipate what was coming, Harry was dropped to his knees by a swift jab to the stomach with the marshmallow tip of his cane. And his arms were suddenly freed, but they just fell limply to his side. A second man punched Harry in the nose, sending him reeling backwards onto the cement. All three spat on his bleeding body and marched off. No one in the surrounding crowd moved. Without the scream of the trumpet, the sounds of the city had quieted to a murmur.
With the fight over, Gabriel crossed the street, broke through the crowd, and took a knee next to his friend. He removed a handkerchief from his breast pocket and wiped the spit and blood from Harry’s chin, and then held it to his swollen nose.
“Gabriel, is that you?” Harry asked.
“I’m here, Jeremiel.”
“Were you here, did you hear; did you see what I did?”
“I heard.”
“But I lost my trumpet.” Jeremiel coughed and cringed, clutching his chest.
“Not to worry. I’ll get it back.”
“I broke the final seal.”
“That you did, my friend,” Gabriel said with just the hint of a smile. “Can you stand?” He looked around as Jeremiel slowly got to his feet, bracing himself on Gabriel’s arm. The crowd had fully dispersed. The only sign left that something had happened on this corner was the spattering of blood on the sidewalk. “You have called forth the beginning of the end. And these people today were all witnesses. No more Dirty Harry.”  


Also, I'm thrilled to announce that Allison from Geek Banter wrote a wonderful review of Provex City! She is also a member of the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG for those in the know) and a great blog to follow. Please check out the review HERE.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

WoW: Silly Hats & Caps Goes to Provex City

This is my first Wednesday on Writing post, and I'd like to start off posting about Provex City's exciting opportunity to participate in charity events! Allow me to introduce you to a wonderful group that I recently had the privilege of being introduced to myself: Silly Hats & Caps.

Silly Hats & Caps is a group of advocates for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, focused on increasing awareness of Type 1 Diabetes and raising money for increased research on finding a cure. They organize a few charity events a year in the Orange County, CA area.

The Silly Hats & Caps Mission:
We are trying to make a difference while having fun. Chatting, laughing and finding a cure for Diabetes!
I was approached and met with two of their members, Jan and Bob, and talked over coffee. They told me about their group, the increasing instances of juvenile diabetes, and the events they organize to raise money for additional research. Jan also expressed her excitement for my novel, Provex City, and wondered if I'd be interesting in donating copies for prizes in their events.

I absolutely want to help, and I'd like to bring increased awareness to their group for all the good they're doing. You can find out more information on them plus updates on their events at their Facebook page (and if you like what you see, don't be afraid to hit the Like Button!):
Thank you, Jan & Bob and to the rest of the Silly Hats & Caps clan for using Provex City in your upcoming events. Keep up the great work! My hat is off to you.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

My A to Z April Challenge Reflections

This was my first A to Z Challenge and it was intense to say the least, but a great intense. First off, I'd like to thank all of the co-hosts for their hard work put into this challenge. It felt great to be a part of it!

I met some awesome people during this challenge. I wish I'd had the time to explore more blogs. Most of my nights consisted of writing the post for the next day and visiting 10 to 15 blogs. Since I couldn't really start working until my three-month-old went to bed, between 8:30pm - 9pm, I was sometimes up until midnight trying to keep up--which I paid for the next day at work.

I consider myself a novice blogger and each new group or challenge I find is an adventure. My biggest takeaways are planning better and having a theme. I loved the themes of blogs I visited. With this being my first year, I wanted to give myself every opportunity and not have to write within the constraints of a theme. But next year I know I'm up for the added challenge. My plan at the beginning of the month was to write the week's posts each weekend so I could focus my weekday nights on commenting. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. I started out behind and never caught up. Next year I will plan for that in advance--not the weekend before the challenge starts.

I also learned from the challenge about the importance of having a blogging schedule. I'm seeing that post schedule-wise, it's good to be predictable, so I'm planning to do that moving forward. I think having a guaranteed three posts a week will be a good start: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. That will also leave me ample time to comment and explore.

Thank you to all of my new followers! And thank you for all the wonderful comments. I've felt like a real blogger this past month. It's been great talking with you throughout April and I hope we can continue to do so. I'm sorry I wasn't able to get to more blogs, but I'll be using the lists for this and the IWSG to branch out and meet new people as I continue down this blogging journey.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Lighthouse

Staring at the lighthouse on the IWSG's official picture, made me think of the framed lighthouse picture on the wall of my study. It's a white lighthouse perched atop New England bluffs, casting its spotlight out into the dark ocean. The caption below the picture reads:
Vision: The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.
Whenever I'm stuck on my writing or debating an idea, I look at that picture. It helps me find my focus--focus on what I'm trying to achieve and not "why are my thoughts so muddled?" If I focus on "what am I trying to achieve," then I will eventually find the answer I'm looking for. If I focus on "why are my thoughts so muddled," I will be supplied with an answer to that question, too, which will not help my writing whatsoever.

I look at that picture and dream big. All big dreams started with a vision, nothing more. The man who built Starbucks into the behemoth it is today, Howard Schultz, had a vision of bringing the European coffeehouse experience to America and for it to become the world's leading coffee authority. At the time, he worked for the owners of Starbucks in one of their few Seattle stores. The owners didn't share in his expansive vision, but Howard didn't let that deter him. He started his own coffee shop, grew the locations, and came back and bought Starbucks out. And that was just the beginning. Fast forward twenty years, whether you like coffee or not, I'm pretty confident this isn't your first time hearing about Starbucks. That is the power of vision.

Vision alone will not build your dreams for you, but you need a vision to decide what you want to build. Is your vision clear? What is the lighthouse shining on for you?
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