Monday, April 30, 2012

Stella Vance, non-fiction, Dancing with Duality: Confessions of a Free Spirit

AUTHOR: Stella Vance
BOOK TITLE: Dancing with Duality: Confessions of a Free Spirit
PUBLISHER: Create Space

Tell me a little about your book and give a short synopsis.
 Dancing with Duality: Confessions of a Free Spirit is about the 30 tumultuous years of my life from 1970 (age 14) till 2000 mostly – though there is a bit after that, mostly of some of the characters’ deaths. My life included whirlwind relationships, world travels, and many adventures. But the book also details the confusion as well as excitement we women experienced while pioneering the sexual revolution, the pain of abortions and date rape, eating disorders, sexual harassment, and more. The tone, however, is one of adventure, healing, humor and discovering that life is a game to be enjoyed, with the ups and downs of a roller coaster. As I am in my 30s I discover more of who I am, thanks to spiritual teachers. Having parted ways with religious dogma, I finally discover a spiritual philosophy I can live with and thrive on.  But this happens after being involved in a cult! The story has a very happy ending, however, with an optimistic view of freedom for humanity. The theme of the entire book is FREEDOM, but my view of freedom evolves from “freedom to indulge in pleasures” to “freedom from the mind with all its worries, fears, and judgments.”

What gave you the idea for this particular book?
I read Eat, Pray, Love---and though I enjoyed it, I thought, “You know, I could write a better spiritual/travel adventure book than that!” I had traveled to 20 countries as a single woman. I have also been on a spiritual path since age 15.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I write and market my book full time now, working in the mornings every day. I love it!

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
 I began writing at age 14, inspired by Anne Frank’s diary. Then a very traumatic event occurred at age 21, and I stopped writing for over a decade, just when I should have been journaling the most! I devote an entire chapter to this event.

What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I hope everyone gets inspired to feel and crave freedom—freedom is the theme of the book!

What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
 You have to write, and the first draft will take you around three months. But you have to rewrite, rewrite, rewrite! Then when you are satisfied with the book, you have to proof it at least five times for typos, etc. When you are finally done (and it could be years, depending on the topic and your time put in it) you feel like the world owes you to be a bestselling author.
But that was the easy part…. Now comes the marketing!

What draws you to non-fiction writing?
I love nonfiction READING—since I do not read fiction (except maybe one book every ten years!) I would have no idea how to write it.

What kind of research did you do for this type of book?
For my reflective essays, I quote some of the spiritual and inspirational books I have read over the past few decades.

What about your book makes it special?
It incorporates how we women (Baby Boomers) felt as pioneers of the sexual revolution. It also contains a lot of philosophy of forgiveness, gratitude, life being a game, and more. It has an upbeat attitude in the midst of date rape, addiction, betrayal and all the ups and downs of life.

What is your marketing plan?
Write, blog, interview, and get reviews! Get the buzz going! Do radio shows whenever possible!

Where can people learn more about you and your work?
On Amazon—I don’t have a blog…yet.

What are your views on self-publishing versus traditional publishing?
 Don’t be afraid to self publish. Sure, it is more prestigious to get a big name publisher backing your book. But that’s like winning the lottery, especially in today’s economy. Self-publishing is inexpensive with print-on-demand. And either way, you will have to do the marketing—so why not earn 30 to 70% of the profits instead of just a dollar a book? You will need to spend a few thousand dollars on getting the book edited, formatted, uploaded, as well as having a professional cover. But you will keep the copyright and the lion’s share of the profits.

Do you have an agent and do you feel an agent is necessary for non-fiction?
I didn’t even look for one! See above.

Any tips for new writers hoping to write non-fiction?
Just write! The more you write, the easier it comes. Keep a journal. Keep quotes and summaries of books you read by writing Amazon reviews for them. (This will also get you free books!) My advice to writers starting out is to save everything you write—it may be decades later that you will find you can use some of that material in a book! Also, you can’t force inspiration. Just let it come to you. While you are waiting for inspiration for a book, keep a journal, create articles, and post a blog. Just staying in the flow of writing will increase your proficiency. Always have a pen and paper with you, even if you are walking on the beach or on a hike. You never know when the inspiration for a catchy phrase or paragraph will hit!

Also, be an avid reader. Because I have read thousands of books all my life, I know what readers want! You should also learn the formula for the genre of books you write. Readers expect certain things, and the book won’t sell if it doesn’t fit the prescribed format. Superstar bestselling authors may be able to break the rules—but not the novice author.

Free to Explore

I made a decision. Since I couldn’t marry my first love, I would have lovers from all over the world! I would have fun. Not only was I set free from the dogma of having to be a virgin on my wedding day, but I was deprogrammed from that idea much much later than my peers. So now I had this feeling that I had to “catch up” with my friends, when it came to men. In the end, I ended up surpassing them by far.

In a way, I related to superstar Michael Jackson, who seemed to have gotten stuck in childhood, having missed out on it, fronting the Jackson 5 and supporting a solo career for so long. So he had to make up for it with Neverland and had many, many more years of childhood fun than those of us who had a normal childhood that ended with adulthood. As it turned out, my need to make up for those lost dating years lasted for two decades; I didn’t really settle down till my 40s.

We women of the ’60s and ’70s were the pioneers of the Boomer sexual revolution. We had to tread where no women had preceded us. Sure, there had been eras with sexual liberties to some degree. But never before had there been a birth control boasting 99% success, safe and legal abortions, and single motherhood without stigma. We were wild horses set free to explore the terrain. We had to find out what our emotional, psychic, and physical limitations were. No guidebooks, such as Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus or What Men Really Want had been written. Consequently, many women often had casual sex, hoping for good fun, but finding only emptiness. But for other women, casual sex was fun. The point is: We all had to explore and see for ourselves how things felt.

Even then, there was still a hangover of double-standard thinking that women who were promiscuous or casual with sex were sluts, whereas men who took advantage of every sexual opportunity available were quite healthy and normal—even considered studs. I love the movie Chasing Amy because it delves into the “slut” woman’s view in great depth. Every man who judges women for being loose should see this movie. The male character is threatened by the fact that his new girlfriend has had more sexual experiences than he has. She makes no apologies, explaining, “Some decisions were stupid, some were love. But I don’t regret any … They didn’t use me; I used them! I was an experimental girl.”

The fact is, many women have desires just as strong as men’s. The Muslims know this, which is why they keep a tight leash on their women. Women who have casual sex or numerous partners are no more emotionally imbalanced or trying to escape than men who do the same. Ironically, I wound up following Burkard’s lead where monogamy was concerned, believing that it’s normal for either sex just to want to have fun and enjoy the moment. The woman who wants to have sex only in secure steady relationships is a stereotype.

And the great thing about being a young woman is that you can get sex more easily than men can. Why? Because a lot more men want it than women. In fact, a lot of women don’t want it. They’re imprinted by sexual abuse. They’re low in testosterone. They’re afraid of pregnancy. They have a hard time achieving an orgasm. They have intimacy issues. They just don’t like it. So for a young woman, especially a half-decent-looking one, it’s easy to find a lover. There simply isn’t (or at least at that time, wasn’t) much competition from other women willing to have sex outside a committed relationship.

In the ’70s, casual sex was common, especially at universities. These were the pre-AIDS days. We didn’t even use condoms. Mostly, we were fine with the way things were then, though on occasion extreme things did occur. My sister Stephanie, for example, had a friend who met a man in an elevator, had sex right then and there, and got pregnant! Stephanie drove her to Indianapolis for an abortion.
After Burkhard, my first few casual sexual encounters were when I was drunk. But it didn’t take long for me to start looking at an attractive man and wonder what it would be like to have sex with him, then determine to find out! Then, just like a man, usually after a one-night stand, I had no interest in the guy—taking another page out of the men’s playbook. Still, men never thought of me as a “bad girl” or a “slut,” because I always waited for them to make the first move.

Oh, once in a while a guy rocked my world. I remember a one-night tryst with a charming Aussie bloke who managed to rattle my cage a bit. We had an extremely passionate encounter and this time I wanted more more more. But he admitted that he actually had a girlfriend and could no longer see me. That one took awhile to get over. At least I could chalk up another continent with my repertoire of international lovers.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Kathryn Meyer Griffith, The Story Behind Vampire Blood

The Story of Vampire Blood
Author’s Revised Edition by Kathryn Meyer Griffith
A rerelease of my 1991 Zebra paperback romantic vampire novel

In 1990 or so I’d just got done releasing my first three paperback novels with Leisure Books, a romantic historical (The Heart of the Rose 1985) and two romantic horror books (Evil Stalks the Night, 1984 and Blood Forge, 1989), and because I wasn’t making much money on them, was looking, as most so-called restless young authors were doing, to move up in the publishing industry.

So I wrote snail mail letters to three established authors of the day – Dean Koontz, Stephen King and Peter Straub – asking for a little advice and a little help. What do I do next? I want to be one of the big dogs running in the big races. I want to make the big bucks. Be famous like you. (Ha, ha. I was so naïve in those days!) 

Well, Stephen King and Peter Straub never answered my letters but one rainy fall night I got a phone call from Gerda Koontz (Dean Koontz’s wife) and she said Dean had gotten my letter and wanted me to have a name of a brand new agent who I should call or write to and say I was recommended by him. If I thought it strange that Dean Koontz himself wasn’t actually talking to me I was told by Gerda that he was a shy man and had had a particularly hard couple of months because of family problems (I think it had something to do with his father in a nursing home or something, but can’t exactly recall now) and he’d asked her to call me. She often did that for him, as well as helping him with the business side of his writing career. He (through her…and I got the impression that he was actually nearby telling her what to say the whole time) said I had to have an agent (I didn’t have one) and then he gave me the name of an ambitious one, Lori Perkins, just starting out and his advice on what I should do to advance as a writer.

I do remember being incredibly touched that he, a famous busy novelist that I admired – I loved his Twilight Eyes – would take the time to talk to me, even through his wife. They were both so sweet and we talked for nearly an hour all about writing, books and everything.

I took their advice and contacted that agent and she agreed immediately to represent me on my fourth book, Vampire Blood, no doubt, because I said Dean Koontz had recommended her to me. Name dropper! But Vampire Blood was the reason I’d contacted those famous authors in the first place. I thought it was the best book I’d done so far and wanted it to go to (what I thought at the time) would be a better publisher than Leisure Books, which contracted and hog-tied their writers with a horrible ‘potboiler’ one-size-fits-all ten year contract with low advances and 4% royalties. Yes, I got a whole whopping 14 cents a book in those days, but, I must confess, they did print thousands of paperbacks each run and had a huge distribution area.  I thought I could do a lot better. Anyway, Lori Perkins wanted me to send her the book and she did like it and eventually sold it, and then three others zip-zip-zip right after, to Zebra Books (now known more as Kensington Publishing) at 6% royalties and double the advances I was used to getting. They slapped a sexy blond vampire with a low dress on the cover and a hazy theater behind her. Lovely colors. I thought it was an eye-catching cover. I was so happy. I thought I’d made it! Again, so naïve.

Vampire Blood. A little story about a family of vicious killing vampires who settle in a small Florida town called Summer Haven and end up buying and fixing up an old theater palace to run, and pluck their victims from, and a divorced, down-on-her-luck ex-novelist and her worn-out father, who along with friends, help thwart them.

Now to how and why I wrote it.

My husband and I lived in this small Illinois town, Cahokia, at the time and there was the neatest little hole-in-the-wall theater in a nearby shopping center we used to go to all the time…run by a family of a sweet man, Terry, and his wife, Ann, and sometimes their three children, two teenage boys and a girl named Irene.  Such a friendly, but odd couple. The run-down theater was their whole world it seemed. The kids helped take in the tickets, pop the popcorn and sell the candy snacks.

Now the minute Terry and Ann found out, in one of our earliest conversations, that I was a published novelist they were my greatest fans. Terry went right out and bought all three of my books and they all read them. Terry always thought they’d make great movies. Next time my husband and I went to the little theater Terry and Ann greeted us like old friends, so delighted to see us, and refused to take a dime from us for anything. We got in free whenever we went from then on. Now in those days my husband, my son, James, and I were pretty broke. I worked as a graphic designer at a big brokerage firm in downtown St. Louis (across the Poplar Bridge from our Illinois town) but my husband was in between jobs. We lived on a shoestring. Hard times. So I always was so tickled that we could get into the local movies for free. We went a lot, too, as we loved movies, especially science fiction and horror films.

One night I was watching Terry and Ann and their joy in running that little theater, with the kids bustling around doing their jobs, and I got the idea for Vampire Blood. Just like that! Use them and the theater as a backdrop for a vampire novel. Hey, wouldn’t it be neat, I off-handedly mentioned to Terry one night, if I wrote a book about a family of vampires that was trying to pass as a real human family, the man and woman wanting so badly to fit in and lead a normal life for a while, renovating and then running a theater together…but the kids are wild and, as kids always do, make trouble for them in the town…killing people? Terry loved the idea and I asked him if it’d be all right to use him and his family as a template for the vampires. He was thrilled to be part of anything to do with my books and said yes. So…I wrote this book about them (sort of), the theater (making it much grander than it was, of course), a small town terrorized by cruel, powerful vampires who can change into wolves at will….and a saddened lonely woman, her brother, and her ex-husband (who she still loves and ultimately ends up with again after he saves her life) who finds herself again, but loses a lot, as well, fighting these vampires. Vampires she doesn’t believe in at first.

I was very happy with the book when it was done and dedicated it to Terry and Ann when it came out in 1991. Terry and Ann were thrilled, too.

So Vampire Blood came out and did very well for me, second only to my Zebra 1993 Witches. As the years went by it went out of print and when, twenty years later, Kim Richards at Damnation Books contracted my 13th and 14th novels, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons and The Woman in Crimson, she asked if I’d like to rerelease (with new covers and rewritten, of course) my 7 out-of-print Leisure and Zebra paperbacks – and I said a resounding yes!

So…here it is…Vampire Blood…twenty years later, alive again and better, I believe,  than the original because my writing then was done on an electric typewriter, with gobs of White-Out and carbon paper (I couldn’t afford copies), using snail mail; all of which didn’t lend itself to much rewriting. And in those days, editors told an author what to change and then the writer only saw the manuscript once to final proof it. Who knew what those sneaky editors were slipping in inbetween and before the final book was in an author’s greedy little hands. Hey, and I was working full time, raising a son, living a life and caring for my big extended family in one way or another, too. Busy, exciting, loving, happy and sad times.

For this new version, Damnation Book’s cover artist Dawné Dominique made me an astonishingly intriguing cover of a lovely vampire (Irene the youngest vampire who turns out to be the most brutal and ancient in the end)…but, thank goodness, without the low sexy top. And my DB editor, April Duncan, helped me make it a better novel.

A lot has happened to me and my family in these twenty years, as well. Both my parents, and my beloved maternal grandmother, the storyteller of her generation, have since passed away. Many people we used to know have. Old boyfriends, old friends and relatives. I miss them all! I no longer have that agent; she went on to bigger advances and bigger writers.  I lost my good job at the brokerage firm, bumped around in lesser jobs for years, always writing in my spare time, and now, at long last, write full time while my husband works way too hard in a machine shop to support us.

Rewriting the book brought back so many good memories…and tears over those no longer here. The theater closed sixteen years ago, the owner believing it’d served its purpose and used up its time. Terry and Ann, heartbroken, were never the same. They had other jobs, none they truly cared about.  Ann is still with us, but Terry died a few years ago, I heard from someone. We lost contact once they stopped running the theater and we moved from Cahokia to a nicer town miles away.

But I’ll never forget those early days and the stories that came with them. Days of high hopes and far distance future dreams…some of which have come true and some which haven’t. I’ve never made the big bucks, never gotten truly famous, but now, at long last and to my great delight, all twelve of my older books, from Leisure, Zebra, and The Wild Rose Press are being rewritten and reissued from Damnation Books and Eternal Press between June 2010 and July 2012. Better than ever after I’d rewritten them. I have plans to write more books and short stories, too, when they’re done. Most importantly, I’m living a good life with a husband I adore and brothers and sisters I love. Writing the stories I was born to write and happy I am. I have my memories. All in all, I’m a lucky, lucky woman.

So, all you writers out there…never give up and never stop writing!
Thank you!


Kathryn Meyer Griffith has been writing for nearly forty years and has published 14 novels and 7 short stories since 1984 with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press in the horror, romantic paranormal, suspense and murder mystery genres… and all 12 of her old books, see below, (and two new ones) are being brought out again between June 2010 and July 2012 from DAMNATION BOOKS and ETERNAL PRESS again in print – and all in  e-books for the first time ever! Learn more about her at or or or and!/profile.php?id=1019954486 .
Here’s a list of all my published novels and short stories:
Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure,1984; Damnation Books, July 2012)
The Heart of the Rose (Leisure,1985)
Blood Forge (Leisure,1989; Damnation Books, February 2012)
Vampire Blood (Zebra, 1991; Damnation Books, July 2011)
The Last Vampire (Zebra, 1992; Damnation Books, October 2010)
Witches (Zebra, 1993; Damnation Books, April 2011)
The Nameless One (short story in 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions;
  Damnation Books, February 2011)
The Calling (Zebra, 1994; Damnation Books, October 2011)
Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2003)
All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2006)
Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007...out again from Eternal Press in
  August 2011)
Winter's Journey (The Wild Rose Press, 2008...out again from Eternal Press in
  September 2011)
The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press, 2008...out again from Eternal Press in November 2011)
Don't Look Back short story (2008...out again from Eternal Press in 2011)
In This House (short story 2008...out again from Eternal Press in 2011)
BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (2010)
The Woman in Crimson (2010) ***

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

L. F. Crawford, Born in Blood

AUTHOR: L.F. Crawford
PUBLISHER: New Concepts Publishing

Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?

I write primarily suspense these days, but I started out writing dark fantasy, then romance, then fantasy romance, then contemporary, humorous romance, then mysteries and suspense/thrillers.  So you’ll find suspense by L.F. Crawford, fantasies by L. Crawford or Louise Crawford, and romantic suspense or contemporary romance by Louise Crawford and Ramona Butler.

Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.

I’m currently promoting BORN IN BLOOD by L.F. Crawford, my first book in a new series about Jane Doe AKA Jane Blackwood, a female stunt helicopter pilot who hooks up with her foster brother, Nelson Blackwood, again after she nearly crashes in a Hollywood stunt because her memories are returning (she can’t remember the first 12 years of her life).  What she doesn’t know is that he’s an freelance assassin and currently killing off drug dealers in Sacramento.  So on her return to Sacramento, she finds out her brother has two detectives trying to nail him for murder.

How long have you been writing? 
For about 20 years.
What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?
I read a lot of spy novels, like Ludlum, and a friend of mine wanted to try writing one together.  That got me started.  Then my first agent wanted me to rewrite my dark fantasy into a romance and after that I started writing romance.
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?

My initial process is to have a basic idea of the plot, the beginning, middle, and possibly the end, then work on characters with problems that will make the problem-solving around the plot more difficult. Once I work on characters, they often change the ending because of who they are, so I’m not too wedded to my initial ideas. For Jane, not having her memories has life-and-death consequences in the second book, MEMORIES IN BLOOD, when someone from her past finds out she’s alive.

What comes first: the plot or the characters? 
Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?

Right now I love Nelson Blackwood’s character most because he’s a sociopath and it’s interesting to write his point of view and contrast it to Jane’s and also to the detectives.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
All the rewrites after the first draft and the final proof before publication.  By the time I read the proof, it’s been usually 2 or 3 years since the contract and I’m in the middle of some other book.  It’s hard to go back and proof something I’m no longer entrenched in--but it’s also fun to read it and think, “Wow, I wrote that!”
Did your book require a lot of research?

Depends on what you mean by a lot.  I did quite a bit of research on helicopters, flew in one, talked to a female pilot at Silver State Aviation, talked to a mechanic about the best way to sabotage one, etc.  I often buy manuals on the subject so I can highlight information that I might need.

How long does it take to write a book for you?

Usually about a year.  I’ve found I might write 2-3 books over the year, but switch from one to another when I get stuck.  I like having more time to think about problems and what my characters would do.

What are some of the challenges in your writing process?

Getting past the blank white page. Fear! Letting go of the outcome and just writing.

Describe your writing space.  
I have an official desk near a window, but often sit on my couch with my dog and my laptop.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I have a day job and I like it.  I also enjoy walking my dog for exercise!

Brief excerpt from BORN IN BLOOD by L.F. Crawford

The airport had grown quiet, nighttime had fallen, and the only noise I could hear was the blasts of the video game’s helicopter laser guns.  Nelson had cranked up the sound.  I watched him maneuver the joystick he’d plugged into my PC, his dark eyes intent on the screen.

The 3-D imagery of the game looked so darn real it seemed like I was flying down the Nile and between pyramids, using them for cover, then firing on green alien invaders.  Feeling uneasy, I found myself wishing that the problems in my life, since Nelson’s arrival on my doorstep, could be as easily resolved.  I’d returned to Sacramento to get away from that hallucination or memory or whatever it was, away from the near crash, and away from Nick’s marriage proposal.  It seemed I couldn’t escape them here either.

When I heard the phone ring, the blocked Caller ID, I figured it was Detective MacCaffrey and let it go to voice mail.  I didn’t want to talk to him with Nelson listening.  Better to wait until tomorrow, after the charter.

“You’re not going to answer that?” Nelson asked, his gaze fixed on the screen.

I could tell he was going to ask why, so I gestured at the screen.  “How does Neal get a message from this?”

Nelson shut off the game, dropping us into silence.  He straightened, his gaze on the door.

My gut screamed a warning, then the hangar door burst open, banging against the wall.  

Three men in loose black clothing, carrying pistols surged inside, spreading out.  I flattened myself between the end of the credenza and the wall.

Nelson leaped over the counter at the white-haired thug nearest the door.

Blam.  Blam.  Blam.

White Hair went down, Nelson on top.  I couldn’t see if he’d been hit, couldn’t see who was shooting, couldn’t see shit.

The middle thug, black guy with a ski cap, dashed around the counter toward me, then saw Nelson on top of White Hair, and made the mistake of turning his gun on Nelson.

I grabbed the hot coffee carafe, still three-quarters full, and threw it.

It hit Ski Cap’s shoulder, coffee splattering his neck and clothes.  He yelped, then cursed, his shot going wild.

The third thug, guy with a buzzcut, had bee-lined toward the bathroom as though he suspected someone could be hiding in there.  Next thing I knew he was shooting at me.

The hangar exploded with noise, gunfire echoing within the metal walls like canon blasts.  I dove behind my desk.

Nelson yelled something, but my ears were ringing and I couldn’t make out the words.

I lifted my head to take a peek over the top of my desk.  Couldn’t see Nelson or anything on the other side of the counter.  But glimpsed Buzzcut peering from behind my five-foot Craftsman tool chest which he’d managed to drag away from the wall.  And he saw me.

Bullets plowed into my computer and peppered the wall behind me.  I covered my ears and hunkered down, but I knew I couldn’t stay there—a sitting duck.

I heard Nelson yell, “Jane!” heard more gunshots, popped my head out in time to see Buzzcut shoving the tool chest toward the middle of the hangar, using it as a shield.  It weighed over four-hundred pounds and moved awkwardly, but it was effective as a tank.

Nelson had clasped White Hair’s bullet-riddled body in front of him for protection, blood everywhere.  But what made my stomach curl was White Hair’s slashed neck, the glimmer of Nelson’s hunting knife and furious satisfaction on my brother’s face.

It was one of those moments where everything froze, and then everything started up again with renewed frenzy.

Nelson, gun in his other hand, shouted at me and fired repeatedly.  At his cue to move, I crab-crawled to the side of my desk nearest the hangar wall.

It got quiet.

Then I heard the scrape of the tool chest’s wheels.  Buzzcut was on the move.

I shoved upward to get a look over the counter.

Ski Cap was pressed behind the counter in the space between it and the guest chairs in front of my desk.

His gaze narrowed on me
I ducked.  “Nelson!” I needed another volley of gunfire.
No answer.

I heard a whump and realized Ski Cap had thrown one of the chairs over the counter.  I didn’t stop to think, just scuttled around my desk chair and along the front of the credenza, then grabbed my phone and my keys.

From the direction of the big Craftsman, bullets plowed into the credenza.  The coffeemaker shattered, along with my answering machine.

I squeezed down under my desk.  Either I was damn lucky, or they wanted me alive.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Social Punk Blog Tour with Giveaway

Check out the contest info at the end of the blog post. The contest takes place from April 3rd - April 30th in conjunction with the Socialpunk blog tour.


After playing God for six years with the world he created, he couldn’t control any of his subjects, none at all. Over the years, he had watched them evolve and become the sum of their own choices rather than the sum of his; and for that, he regretted ever giving them life.
A small, blinking red light from just inside his eyelid reminded him of the news they sent him earlier that morning. The company had cancelled his funding and would shut down his project within three months. According to them, the project cost too much and took up too much space, and the inconclusive results couldn’t be published reputably, now or in the future.
Six years of his work, tens of thousands of lives at stake—and he could do nothing to save any of it. He bowed his head, letting his chin rest on the rim of his breakfast smoothie. The smoothie reeked of powder—crushed pills—but he supposed he had better get used to it. He wouldn’t be able to afford the luxury of real food after they canned him.
He closed his eyes and called up the camera view of one of his favorites, number 3281. She fascinated him; he couldn’t deny it. When he had designed her, her pre-teen rebelliousness lit fire in her eyes. A survivor, he’d thought. He’d meant for her to have it all—to grow up, to get married to the love of her life, and to have a beautiful family of her own someday.
But he had only given her sadness so far. Instead of creating a strict father, he had given her an abusive one. Instead of creating a loving boyfriend, he had given her a friend who could never love her. And instead of creating a strong, proud mother, he had given her a meek one, who watched the whole thing unfold and did nothing about it.
He looked at his last and final creation sitting in the chair across from him—his own son, not awakened yet. The law forbade him to have any children of his own, so this boy would substitute.
But he had done the unthinkable with this creation—he had bestowed on it his own thoughts, emotions, and decision-making processes. He’d given the boy his own mind, his own physical characteristics, his own wants and desires.
He had never done so with any of the others because of the dangers of investing too heavily in any one of his subjects. But who could he kid? He had not stayed objective thus far, watching some of his subjects more closely than others, wishing for the happiness of some at the expense of others. He had become an abomination, a monster of his own doing, who had created subjects only to watch them suffer.
He couldn’t forgive himself; not now, not ever. His eyes lingered on the vial that sat next to his breakfast smoothie, that he’d stowed away for the day when they destroyed all his work, his entire world. He would save it, tuck it away for now, for as long as he could protect them. When things spun out of his control, he would drink it and end himself the way he had ended them.
In the ancient stories, gods frequently gave their sons as gifts. Now, he would give his son as a gift to her, number 3281. So she could be happy in her last months on earth, before they destroyed her with the rest of them.


Ima would give anything to escape The Dome and learn what’s beyond its barriers, but the Chicago government has kept all its citizens on lockdown ever since the Scorched Years left most of the world a desert wasteland. When a mysterious group of hooded figures enters the city unexpectedly, Ima uncovers a plot to destroy The Dome and is given the choice between escaping to a new, dangerous city or staying behind and fighting a battle she can never win.

Monica Leonelle is a well-known digital media strategist and the author of three novels. She blogs at Prose on Fire ( and shares her writing and social media knowledge with other bloggers and authors through her Free Writer Toolkit (

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