Welcome Martin Gibbs – Author of Following Yonder Star

Inline image 1Kings, Wise Men, or Magi?
Who were these mysterious men? Were they rulers, astronomers, philosophers, or something else?
Though fictional, Following Yonder Star is based on the Bible and ancient texts. It paints a vivid picture of the three kings as friends setting off into the desert to follow a star, and walking humbly into the spotlight of history.
This is an adventure, a spiritual trek, and an extended prayer. The story inspires us to find deeper meaning in the search for Truth.
Travel with the three kings as they journey across deserts, through a suffocating moor, over a towering mountain range, and into the chamber of Herod. Throughout, they are tested by the devil and themselves.
The three kings gave away everything to follow a star. Did they make the ultimate sacrifice?
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A2XQ9AU

Book you could have written so much better
The first book of the fantasy series, The Spaces Between. While it’s gotten some great reviews and has been through many rounds of editing, polishing, fixing, it’s the one where I look back and realize I may have pulled the trigger too early. Ah, the perils of self-publishing: It’s become too easy to hit “publish.” I feel that the more I read, and the more I write, the better the craft gets; but if I repackage the trilogy, the first book will get another treatment to make it shine.

Was there a scene that you didn’t add or you removed?
Prologues and epilogues. There was a scene that featured the so-called Hill of Vaws, where the three kings later built a chapel (according to the ancient text Historia Trium Regum.) While interesting, beta readers were confused by both of these scenes, and so I cut them. However, this hill will appear in the follow up to the story.
As a reader, I’m not always a big fan of prologues, but for some reason I’m tempted to write them into my books. If they are short enough (not the 100-page prologues of Robert Jordan!) and set up the book well, I think they can be effective. Although, as a writer, it is important to answer any questions from the epilogue, or provide details to whatever teaser you left there.

Do you already know what to write next?
The next projects include stories about Zacchaeus, perhaps tales from the shepherds’ point of view during the Nativity. I also have a series of silly fiction that revolve around the French philosopher Voltaire. There will be at least one more book planned in this world. However, I have so many ideas for short stories and poetry, that I am constantly working on something, and sending out to various online/print magazines.

What was the hardest part for you when working on your book?
It was hard to keep the book within a certain length. There is so much that could have been told about the wise men, so much more detail on the landscape (think of Zane Grey’s multiple-page narrative descriptions of terrain), and even more details about Jerusalem and Herod. However, I wanted to create a work that could be read during the Christmas/Advent season and not consume half a year.
Another “feature” was the text of the printed version. It is larger type face, which as has received the praises of many readers, and the disdain of others. For those who prefer smaller font, I understand the frustration, but this book is targeted to such a large general audience that I wanted to be fair to everyone.

Movie you would like to see remade?
I thoroughly enjoyed Gerard Depardieu in The Count of Monte Cristo (all 7 hours!), and it is by far the best adaptation. That said, I did not like the ending, since it did not match the book. Turning a 1300-page book into a movie is a monstrous task, if you want to be remotely true to the original story. However, I would to see the attempt made. I’d sit through 14 hours if the story could be thoughtfully retold on the screen. Since it is by far my favorite book of all time, it would be a thrill to see it fully fleshed out.

Are you an island unto yourself in your writing, or does the input of critique partners push you along?
I used to write in a vacuum and produced stuff that wasn’t that good, to be honest. Before it went to my editor, The Spaces Between was one of many stories that never saw another set of eyes. As much as I’d like to think that I can create masterpieces without critique or feedback, that isn’t reality. Now, especially with Following Yonder Starand its follow-up, The Legacy of the Fourth King, I share the first drafts with others; otherwise, there are so many little things (or major plot holes!) that are missed. And, as mentioned before, it’s too easy to hit “publish” these days, and send garbage out into the ether.

What was the best advice you were given…
“Don’t quit your day job!”

Welcome Martin Gibbs – Author of Following Yonder Star

Inline image 1Kings, Wise Men, or Magi?
Who were these mysterious men? Were they rulers, astronomers, philosophers, or something else?
Though fictional, Following Yonder Star is based on the Bible and ancient texts. It paints a vivid picture of the three kings as friends setting off into the desert to follow a star, and walking humbly into the spotlight of history.
This is an adventure, a spiritual trek, and an extended prayer. The story inspires us to find deeper meaning in the search for Truth.
Travel with the three kings as they journey across deserts, through a suffocating moor, over a towering mountain range, and into the chamber of Herod. Throughout, they are tested by the devil and themselves.
The three kings gave away everything to follow a star. Did they make the ultimate sacrifice?
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A2XQ9AU

Book you could have written so much better
The first book of the fantasy series, The Spaces Between. While it’s gotten some great reviews and has been through many rounds of editing, polishing, fixing, it’s the one where I look back and realize I may have pulled the trigger too early. Ah, the perils of self-publishing: It’s become too easy to hit “publish.” I feel that the more I read, and the more I write, the better the craft gets; but if I repackage the trilogy, the first book will get another treatment to make it shine.

Was there a scene that you didn’t add or you removed?
Prologues and epilogues. There was a scene that featured the so-called Hill of Vaws, where the three kings later built a chapel (according to the ancient text Historia Trium Regum.) While interesting, beta readers were confused by both of these scenes, and so I cut them. However, this hill will appear in the follow up to the story.
As a reader, I’m not always a big fan of prologues, but for some reason I’m tempted to write them into my books. If they are short enough (not the 100-page prologues of Robert Jordan!) and set up the book well, I think they can be effective. Although, as a writer, it is important to answer any questions from the epilogue, or provide details to whatever teaser you left there.

Do you already know what to write next?
The next projects include stories about Zacchaeus, perhaps tales from the shepherds’ point of view during the Nativity. I also have a series of silly fiction that revolve around the French philosopher Voltaire. There will be at least one more book planned in this world. However, I have so many ideas for short stories and poetry, that I am constantly working on something, and sending out to various online/print magazines.

What was the hardest part for you when working on your book?
It was hard to keep the book within a certain length. There is so much that could have been told about the wise men, so much more detail on the landscape (think of Zane Grey’s multiple-page narrative descriptions of terrain), and even more details about Jerusalem and Herod. However, I wanted to create a work that could be read during the Christmas/Advent season and not consume half a year.
Another “feature” was the text of the printed version. It is larger type face, which as has received the praises of many readers, and the disdain of others. For those who prefer smaller font, I understand the frustration, but this book is targeted to such a large general audience that I wanted to be fair to everyone.

Movie you would like to see remade?
I thoroughly enjoyed Gerard Depardieu in The Count of Monte Cristo (all 7 hours!), and it is by far the best adaptation. That said, I did not like the ending, since it did not match the book. Turning a 1300-page book into a movie is a monstrous task, if you want to be remotely true to the original story. However, I would to see the attempt made. I’d sit through 14 hours if the story could be thoughtfully retold on the screen. Since it is by far my favorite book of all time, it would be a thrill to see it fully fleshed out.

Are you an island unto yourself in your writing, or does the input of critique partners push you along?
I used to write in a vacuum and produced stuff that wasn’t that good, to be honest. Before it went to my editor, The Spaces Between was one of many stories that never saw another set of eyes. As much as I’d like to think that I can create masterpieces without critique or feedback, that isn’t reality. Now, especially with Following Yonder Starand its follow-up, The Legacy of the Fourth King, I share the first drafts with others; otherwise, there are so many little things (or major plot holes!) that are missed. And, as mentioned before, it’s too easy to hit “publish” these days, and send garbage out into the ether.

What was the best advice you were given…
“Don’t quit your day job!”

Welcome Genevieve Scholl – Author of Love Claus

The holiday theme continues this Tuesday with guest Genevieve Scholl author of Love Claus. First some questions for Genevieve and then an excerpt.

Did you always want to be an author? If not, what else would you have done?– Actually, no. I’ve gone through a lot of different ideas when it comes to my career- photography, law enforcement, etc- and up until last year I never felt particularly… right, I guess. I was never comfortable where I was, but then I switched my major (current student) to Paralegal. Now, I do three things that I absolutely love to do and will never stop doing; writing, photography, and will soon be a paralegal! I still do other things, like art, crafts, etc, but those are just for fun.
What is the most difficult for you to write: Characters, conflict, emotions?-Well, characters are always difficult, because like us in the real world they come with layers. However, I believe that my greatest weakness is conflict. I never know how to convey conflict, because I haven’t really experienced much in my life.
How likely are people you meet to end up in your next book?– As my readers, fans, and friends know I will likely write you into one of my books if you make a big influence in my life. However, if you anger me enough I might also write you in as the victim of a crime. There isn’t much that makes me THAT angry, but it has happened in the recent past.
What would be the last genre you’d ever consider writing in? – That’s easy… Science Fiction.
Tell us a little about your WIP– My current WIP, release date May 22nd, is called Catching a Cardinal (Birds of Paradise series).
BLURB:
The Birds of Paradise are an elite group of operatives who specialize in rescues. They are widely known and are even the go-to group for the FBI, but most importantly they are a family.

Elliot Brown is the Youngest in the group, but he’s also the brains of the operations. With a master’s degree in Science, he knows how to analyze anything.

Morgan Percy was set to marry the man her father had picked her for-even if he was thirty years her senior- but when she catches him using dark magic, she sends out an S.O.S for help and gets lifted into Elliot’s strong arms. Little does she know, Elliot has a strong connection with the man she was supposed to call husband.

What is on the horizon for you? Any interesting news or books we should know about?– In addition to Catching a Cardinal, I have two Christmas books coming out in November and December. They’re sequels to Love Claus and part of the Naughty North Pole Novels.
How do you feel about self-publishing?– Love it! Indie Authors Unite!
Where can we find more information about you and your books?
          Amazon links:
          Also, please feel free to follow me on Twitter: @SapphirePen
Do you have any last words?– Thank you so much for having me. I’d just like to take a moment to mention the fact that all of my books, along with In the Shadows by H.R Hyacinth (link below) and the upcoming novel Hunted by Meredith Pratwell, are part of my mission to donate as much as possible to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. 10% of all book proceeds, along with proceeds from our product store (http://www.cafepress.com/genevievescholldesigns ), will be donated to the foundation.
          In the Shadows by H.R Hyacinth (cover design by me)- http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BS34YQY/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_kSFprb0NX19F0

 Excerpt from Love Claus:

The sound of the doorbell woke her from a fantastic dream. Cindy grumbled as she stretched out her muscles and stood. The fire had died down and, even though the remnants of warmth still remained in the air, she grabbed the blanket off of the back of the couch and wrapped it around her shoulders. Bundled in the snowman throw and dressed in her snowflake pajamas, she shuffled her feet across the hardwood floor and went to answer the door. The clock blazed 11:45PM as she passed it on the way. Who could be ringing the bell at this hour?
Sudden panic set in. Was someone hurt? Did someone die? Forgetting her groggy legs, Cindy ran the rest of the distance to the front door; fear dragging her down. Her family didn’t understand her love of the holiday, but if something happened to any one of them, she would be devastated just the same. Please let everyone be okay, she thought to herself as she turned the gold door knob and swung open the heavy door.
Cindy’s panic vanished, to be replaced with confusion; quickly followed by annoyance. Her first thought when she laid eyes on the man dressed like Santa Claus was, what the hell? Why was there a man standing on her porch, at quarter to midnight, dressed like a Santa Claus? The whole thing was ridiculous! I must be dreaming, she thought as she rubbed a hand across her eyes.
“HO HO HO! Merry Christmas from a secret admirer,” he said as he handed her a small red box, wrapped in a silver bow. She stared at the little box in confusion and didn’t move to open it. The man just continued to smile at her as his hand held an evergreen tree upright. “Evening Ma’am,” he began in an accent she couldn’t place. “I’m here from Candy Cane Confectionery and these gifts were ordered for you and asked to be delivered at this specific time.” He held out the tree in one hand and a box of chocolate truffles in the other. “May I come in?”

Welcome Genevieve Scholl – Author of Love Claus

The holiday theme continues this Tuesday with guest Genevieve Scholl author of Love Claus. First some questions for Genevieve and then an excerpt.

Did you always want to be an author? If not, what else would you have done?– Actually, no. I’ve gone through a lot of different ideas when it comes to my career- photography, law enforcement, etc- and up until last year I never felt particularly… right, I guess. I was never comfortable where I was, but then I switched my major (current student) to Paralegal. Now, I do three things that I absolutely love to do and will never stop doing; writing, photography, and will soon be a paralegal! I still do other things, like art, crafts, etc, but those are just for fun.
What is the most difficult for you to write: Characters, conflict, emotions?-Well, characters are always difficult, because like us in the real world they come with layers. However, I believe that my greatest weakness is conflict. I never know how to convey conflict, because I haven’t really experienced much in my life.
How likely are people you meet to end up in your next book?– As my readers, fans, and friends know I will likely write you into one of my books if you make a big influence in my life. However, if you anger me enough I might also write you in as the victim of a crime. There isn’t much that makes me THAT angry, but it has happened in the recent past.
What would be the last genre you’d ever consider writing in? – That’s easy… Science Fiction.
Tell us a little about your WIP– My current WIP, release date May 22nd, is called Catching a Cardinal (Birds of Paradise series).
BLURB:
The Birds of Paradise are an elite group of operatives who specialize in rescues. They are widely known and are even the go-to group for the FBI, but most importantly they are a family.

Elliot Brown is the Youngest in the group, but he’s also the brains of the operations. With a master’s degree in Science, he knows how to analyze anything.

Morgan Percy was set to marry the man her father had picked her for-even if he was thirty years her senior- but when she catches him using dark magic, she sends out an S.O.S for help and gets lifted into Elliot’s strong arms. Little does she know, Elliot has a strong connection with the man she was supposed to call husband.

What is on the horizon for you? Any interesting news or books we should know about?– In addition to Catching a Cardinal, I have two Christmas books coming out in November and December. They’re sequels to Love Claus and part of the Naughty North Pole Novels.
How do you feel about self-publishing?– Love it! Indie Authors Unite!
Where can we find more information about you and your books?
          Amazon links:
          Also, please feel free to follow me on Twitter: @SapphirePen
Do you have any last words?– Thank you so much for having me. I’d just like to take a moment to mention the fact that all of my books, along with In the Shadows by H.R Hyacinth (link below) and the upcoming novel Hunted by Meredith Pratwell, are part of my mission to donate as much as possible to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. 10% of all book proceeds, along with proceeds from our product store (http://www.cafepress.com/genevievescholldesigns ), will be donated to the foundation.
          In the Shadows by H.R Hyacinth (cover design by me)- http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BS34YQY/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_kSFprb0NX19F0

 Excerpt from Love Claus:

The sound of the doorbell woke her from a fantastic dream. Cindy grumbled as she stretched out her muscles and stood. The fire had died down and, even though the remnants of warmth still remained in the air, she grabbed the blanket off of the back of the couch and wrapped it around her shoulders. Bundled in the snowman throw and dressed in her snowflake pajamas, she shuffled her feet across the hardwood floor and went to answer the door. The clock blazed 11:45PM as she passed it on the way. Who could be ringing the bell at this hour?
Sudden panic set in. Was someone hurt? Did someone die? Forgetting her groggy legs, Cindy ran the rest of the distance to the front door; fear dragging her down. Her family didn’t understand her love of the holiday, but if something happened to any one of them, she would be devastated just the same. Please let everyone be okay, she thought to herself as she turned the gold door knob and swung open the heavy door.
Cindy’s panic vanished, to be replaced with confusion; quickly followed by annoyance. Her first thought when she laid eyes on the man dressed like Santa Claus was, what the hell? Why was there a man standing on her porch, at quarter to midnight, dressed like a Santa Claus? The whole thing was ridiculous! I must be dreaming, she thought as she rubbed a hand across her eyes.
“HO HO HO! Merry Christmas from a secret admirer,” he said as he handed her a small red box, wrapped in a silver bow. She stared at the little box in confusion and didn’t move to open it. The man just continued to smile at her as his hand held an evergreen tree upright. “Evening Ma’am,” he began in an accent she couldn’t place. “I’m here from Candy Cane Confectionery and these gifts were ordered for you and asked to be delivered at this specific time.” He held out the tree in one hand and a box of chocolate truffles in the other. “May I come in?”

Seven Questions for Author Iyana Jenna

Thank you very much, Livia, for the chance to be featured on your blog.
Hi, my name is Iyana Jenna and I’m a writer of several short stories published by Silver Publishing, Prizm Books, Evernight Publishing, Alfie Dog Fiction, and Ether Books. They are mostly M/M stories for adults and young adults. You are welcome to check out my work on my blog HERE. I’m from Jakarta, Indonesia, and in real life I teach English to kids and adults.
Now I’m going to try to answer Livia’s questions. 🙂
1. Are you a reader? What are your favorite books?
Yes, I am a reader. I don’t know what I’d do in my spare time, aside from writing, that is. My favorite books include work by Paulo Coelho, Jeffrey Archer, John Grisham, Sandra Brown, Carla Neggers, and many more, with books such as The Fifth Mountains, A Prisoner of Birth, A Matter of Honor, etc.
2. What is your path to publication?
I like writing and I’ve been writing for more than ten years. At first I never planned to go to publication even if it irked my friend who saw how I did nothing about my stories. LOL. But then an online friend started to publish her stories and I thought how cool it was if I tried doing that with mine. I sent one short story last year to a publisher. They accepted it and it was released in March this year. That was my very first published story ever. Since then my days have changed totally.
3. How much time do you spend writing each day/week?
I try to write every day even if I can only write 500 words or less. I usually write into my cell phone on my way to the office and back so it’s not too much time.
4. How do you work? Are you an island unto yourself? Or part of a larger community?
In writing, I prefer to work alone. I’m usually lost in my head and I’m afraid to let others know about what I have until I’m finished with it. But I’ve been involved in larger communities when it comes to sharing and spreading word about our work, and I enjoy it.
5. What is your favorite thing about writing? Least favorite?
Well, what is my favorite thing? I just like doing it. It helps me go away from the problems in my daily life, including my work. I like thinking about the characters and what they do and say. My least favorite is the slowness in writing. I write so slowly while my muses keep chasing after me. I wish I could just pour everything onto paper/word pages once I thought about a story.
6. Are writers born, taught, or both?
I think they are born. Someone should be interested in writing to be a writer. If you don’t have any interest in writing, you just can’t make yourself sit and write. One can’t teach you. Yes, you can learn to be better writers, but it has to come from yourself.
7. What would you tell younger and less experienced you if you could?
Just go on and never stop. Keep writing and keep sending your work out there. Experience the process of writing and promoting. Connect to other writers. Help others and they will help you back. You are not alone but it has to be a take-and-give process.

Well, I hope I made sense of myself here. ^__^ Thank you again for having me, Livia.

Welcome Eric R. Johnston – Author of Children of Time

Interview with Eric R. Johnston
Can you tell us about yourself?
I am the author of five novels—Harvester: Ascension, An Inner Darkness, A Light in the Dark, 9111 Sharp Road, and most recently, Children of Time. I’ve been writing my whole life, but started seriously writing novels in 2009 when my friend, Andrew Utley, and I began writing Harvester: Ascension. I have a BA in History and English from The University of Michigan. When I’m not writing, I work as an editor and substitute teacher.
Tell us about your new release, Children of Time.
Children of Time is about a woman named Shawna who has recently survived an abusive relationship with a husband she was forced to kill in self-defense, only to find her life in utter chaos as everything she knows starts changing around her. When she goes to bed one night she has one child, a six-year-old daughter named Alexis. When she wakes up, she has two daughters, Tonya and Paris, 11 and 7, respectively, and she’s pregnant to the point of bursting with a child named Alexis, who can communicate with her telepathically and is as aware as the six-year-old she was the night before and is as confused as her mother. Oh, and her dead husband is still alive and will stop at nothing until she’s dead.
Children of Time is a novel that came about almost by complete accident. I was working on a science-fiction novel I was calling Temporal Winter that was about future humans developing technology that could alter the past with the purpose of improving the future by destroying the “mistakes” of the past. This technology, although interesting, led to some disastrous consequences. But there was something about the novel that didn’t work for me. I just wasn’t in love with it like I needed to be to finish it, so I put it aside and started work on a dark fantasy novel I called City of Evil. This novel dealt with some loose ends from my novel A Light in the Dark. But this story ended up being far too short to be a full-length novel, so that too was put aside.
Then it occurred to me to combine the two novels. The idea must have been in my subconscious the whole time because the novels fit together perfectly. Instead of misguided patriots from the future wreaking havoc on the timeline, it was the villain of City of Evil.  
Do you already know what to write next? Can you tell us?
My next novel is called All I Want in Life (Is to Be Happy). I anticipate releasing this one early next year. It deals with suicide, but like my other novels, it delves into the bizarre and strange. I don’t want to go into too much detail about it, but I want to say my decision in attacking such a powerful subject comes from someone very close to me recently confided in me about suicidal thoughts he’d been having. After talking the situation over, I think I made him realize there are other ways dealing with the problems in his life. But just the act of having this conversation affected me drastically, and one way I deal with things that bother me is to write about them.
Can you provide a link where someone can purchase Children of Time?
What is a link to your blog?
Excerpt
Prologue of Children of Time
Shawna let out a deep sigh as she walked into the lawyer’s office in North Branch, Michigan. THE LAW OFFICES OF DOOLITTLE, ANDERSON, WILLIAMS, AND LYNCH read the white writing on the glass door. A bell chimed overhead when the door opened, but it wasn’t needed. A young woman was sitting at a dark brown oak desk. Shawna was fifteen minutes early for a divorce consultation, but the paralegal was ready with a wide, obviously fake smile.
“Uh, hi,” Shawna said with an awkward smile. “I’m here to see, um….” She looked back at the door. “I guess I’m here to see Doolittle?”
“Yes,” the paralegal said, jumping up. She looked too excited, too happy, to be working in a divorce legal practice. “Mr. Doolittle will be here shortly, but there are a few things I can go over with you. I’m Sally, by the way.” She held out her hand to shake Shawna’s. “Now follow me to the back.” She motioned for Shawna to follow her down a long corridor.
Shawna noticed the carpeting, the walls, and the ceiling all looked very expensive. Intricate geometric patterns covered the soft carpet. The walls had matching patterns covering them, matted with a dark brown finish.
Her home, in contrast, was modest, with bland white carpet and matching white walls. Who knew how long she would even have that? She couldn’t stand being with Darren any longer, and if he refused to leave, she would have to live with her mother, a prospect she dreaded almost as much as the idea of staying married to that bastard.
Sally opened a door to another room that looked like an office one would only expect to see in a $500 million mansion. A chandelier covered with long pieces of crystal glowing with its own light hung from the ceiling above the intricately carved desk, and light poured in through a large window, covering the entire wall opposite the desk.
“Take a seat,” Sally said, gesturing toward a chair Shawna couldn’t imagine anyone but royalty would be allowed to sit in.
As nice as this place was, she would rather be sitting in an old, dilapidated building with a ceiling that was falling in from a combination of water and mold. Free consultation or not, there would be no way she could afford even the most basic of services here; no way…not in a law office this nice.
Her heart started pounding as Sally sat at the desk across from her. “Mr. Doolittle will be here shortly, but I can go over a few things with you. If you do choose to use his services, he will require a twenty-five hundred dollar retainer. That should cover all costs. In some cases, he has used the retainer before the case was resolved, but this is a rare circumstance.”
“Twenty-five hundred dollars?” Shawna couldn’t believe the staggering figure. She’d thought maybe it would be $100…maybe even as much as $500, which was the amount she had managed to get from the ATM after stealing Darren’s bank card. There was no way she’d be able to come up with $2,500, not with Darren having control of all the finances. Hell, she hadn’t even had a job since high school. She had no money of her own.
Just then, a man standing about six feet, two inches tall entered the room. He had a beard that resembled Abraham Lincoln’s—thick, but without a mustache. He wore a gray suit that appeared to be made of an expensive material that she couldn’t even begin to identify.
She stood as he entered and took his extended hand.
“I’m Vince Doolittle. Nice to meet you.”
“Hi.”
“You can sit down.”
She sat back down. Sally walked toward the doorway, then turned to Doolittle. “I explained to her a little about the retainer. She understands it’s twenty-five hundred dollars and should cover most expenses, if not all.”
“Good, good.”
As Sally left, Doolittle shut the door. “So, you’re seeking to divorce your husband?”
“Yes. His name is Darren. He, uh…he doesn’t know I’m here. He has no idea I’m trying to divorce him. I really have no money except for what I was able to swipe off his bank card on the way here. Honestly I don’t, but I can’t be with him anymore. But I don’t think—actually, I know I can’t afford the retainer. I mean, all I could get out of the ATM was five hundred dollars.”
“Assuming he’s willing to cooperate, I can serve as the lawyer for you both, working on what the best options are for both of you. I can work up the paperwork for the separation, for division of assets, etc. If you don’t anticipate a fight, there is no reason we can’t do this. Do you think he would be able to come up with the full amount of the retainer?”
“No…he could, but he won’t. I…I need out of this marriage. I really have nowhere to go, no one to turn to. And I’m terrified to even go back there. If he finds out I came here today, if he finds out I took his bank card…oh God, I just wish he would die.” She drew in a sharp breath and slapped a hand over her mouth. “I didn’t mean that,” she cried, even though she wanted nothing more than to be rid of him, no matter what it took. She hugged herself in a tight grip, either hand clutching a shoulder. She was immediately reminded of the latest beating as her fingers touched the tender skin. “I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t.” Tears welled in her eyes and began coursing down her cheeks.
A look of faux compassion that reminded her of Sam Bernstein in those attorney commercials crawled over his features. “I work with a lot of divorcing couples. Some can split amicably while others can’t, but we are here to help if you choose.”
“If I choose?”
“You have three options. You and your husband can both hire me, and he can pay the retainer; you can borrow the money from a friend or family member; or, I can refer you to a service for low-income residents to help you draw up the paperwork. I wouldn’t recommend that choice, however, because you would be serving as your own attorney; and if he fights you on anything, or if he gets a lawyer, there is a strong possibility you could be in a whole world of hurt.”
As if I’m not already there.
There really was no choice. She’d heard once that freedom of choice was a myth, an illusion; that access to money was equivalent to freedom of choice, and if you didn’t have money there were no choices to make. She would just have to put up with the beatings…maybe convince herself that she was still in love. Maybe that was all she needed.
“I can’t do any of those things,” she said. “I have no access to my own money.”
“You can’t borrow from your mother?”
“No, no…not for this. She would…just the thought of her daughter getting a divorce would kill her. Sometimes I think she’d rather see me beat to death by my husband than to divorce him. You know, the whole ‘death do us part’ line?”
He stood, impatience replacing his faux compassion, extending his hand. “It’s been nice talking with you, but until you have money, there is nothing I can do.”
“But I thought you did a free consultation?”
“And you’ve been consulted. But I don’t represent for free.”
He motioned her toward the door.
Even Darren’s constant beatings never made her feel as humiliated as she did at that moment. Maybe divorcing this bastard was not a choice she had. Maybe she could forgive the beatings, and convince herself they were done for love. Maybe…maybe….
****
Her trip home was a two-mile walk that afforded her time to think about everything in her life, in particular her loveless and childless marriage to Darren. They hadn’t had sexual relations in four of the five years they’d been married. Growing up, she’d wanted a loving husband, lots of kids, plenty of money to raise them, and a big house with a swimming pool. She had none of those things, but what hurt the most was the children. She was thirty-six years old, and had done nothing with her life. Where had it gone? She’d gotten with Darren in high school and they had dated for ten years, with him refusing to marry her until they turned thirty.
After their lackluster wedding (another childhood dream unfulfilled), the beatings began, and the drinking. She couldn’t remember if he’d drank more than socially before their wedding, but it intensified afterwards to the point where he could never be seen without a bottle in his hand.
She remembered how he had recently stumbled into the bathroom. She could hear him mumbling through the bathroom door. “No children, no children ever. Keep the children away. No, no. I don’t want to be a surrogate. Please, I can’t stand this anymore. All these iterations, they’re killing me.” He said this in the most terrified voice she’d ever heard, then cried out to someone named Falcon. Then she heard him speak a name: “Alexis.”
She had no idea who these people were…they certainly weren’t anybody she’d ever been introduced to. Part of her hoped Alexis was some other woman Darren had met, and that the affair would lead to the divorce she so desperately craved. But that had been nothing but speculation, and after leaving the bathroom, Darren had clearly been in no mood to discuss anything. As usual, he let his fists do the talking. That’s when she decided she couldn’t wait for him to leave her for some other woman. She needed a divorce now. But thanks to that money-hungry shyster Doolittle, that prospect seemed farther away than ever.
Her desperate thoughts bounced around in her head until she got home, half an hour later. She slipped in through the garage’s side door and grabbed a pair of gardening gloves and a spade. Then she went back outside to get her hands and knees dirty. If Darren had gotten wise to her absence, she could say she was just weeding the flower bed to plant the bulbs her mother had given her a few months before. By mid-July, this was long overdue, and the weeds were taking over her garden.
She peered through the large picture window into the living room. She could clearly see the back of Darren’s recliner, but he wasn’t in it. The TV was blaring at full volume, however, and several cans and bottles of beer were strewn about the room.
Without warning, her face was shoved into the glass, hard. Dazed, she fell backwards, landing on her butt. Darren was standing there wearing nothing but a white tank top and a pair of cloth shorts. A thought, perhaps inappropriate for the circumstance, came to her; why did he cut the hair on his head so short if he let his body hair grow so wild?
Blood ran from her nose.
“Where have you been?” he demanded, reaching for her hair.
“I’ve been out here weeding.” She said this softly, almost as if she was embarrassed that she was still going to use that lie considering no weeds were pulled, and he had probably seen her arrive home.
“Bullshit.” He grabbed a handful of her long brown hair and shoved her face into the dirt. “You’ve been weeding all this time and haven’t managed to pull a single weed? And what were you doing with this?” He let go of her head and reached into her back pocket, snatching the bank card. A part of it must have been sticking out of her pocket. “And this?” He reached around to her front pocket and pulled out the wad of cash. “What the fuck were you planning on doing? Hire someone to kill me?”
“No,” she said, looking down.
“No, you were going to steal all my money and leave. You’re not smart enough to hire a hit man.” He threw the cash in the air as if it were nothing to him. “And this isn’t enough to hire a lawyer. You plan on bleeding me dry, after all I’ve done for you?”
He pulled her head back and shoved it into the dirt again. “Eat the dirt, bitch. That’s all you’re good for. Eat it.”
He had both his hands on her head, pushing it down into the dirt. She remained calm while praying it would all be over soon. Just kill me, she thought. Please, just let it end. Then she remembered the spade just below her. Could she reach it? She stretched her hand underneath her, grabbing for it, but it wasn’t there.
“Looking for this?” Darren let go of her head briefly, just long enough to pick up the spade. “I could slit your throat if I wanted to. But you know I won’t. What would be the fun in that?”
He pushed her face into the dirt again, and then got off her and went into the house. She could see him through the window as he sat back down in the recliner, set the spade next to him, and cracked open a beer as if nothing had happened.
****
She cried in the bedroom for the rest of the day, just waiting for eight o’clock to come along. Darren fell asleep in the recliner at that time, like clockwork.
Eight o’clock came, and like always, he fell asleep. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, depending on one’s perspective, he didn’t stay asleep. As she lay in bed, he came into the room in a drunken stupor. He hadn’t showered or shaved in weeks, so his stench was intolerable as he bounded on her like she was his prey, ready for the taking.
“Get off me!” she screamed and pushed at him, but he was too heavy and tore at her clothes. She ripped at his white tank top, scratching his shoulders and face, but he kept on. He grabbed her breasts so hard she cried out in pain—it felt like he was trying to pull them off—and then he moved to her pants. It was clear where it was heading. Her foot connected with his groin, but that only seemed to encourage him, for he became more aggressive, tearing her pants off the rest of the way.
“You’re mine, bitch.”
And then he forced himself inside her.
She still bore the emotional and physical bruises and scars from previous beatings, but he had never raped her, and she’d never thought he would…until now.
“Help!” she tried to scream, but he silenced her with a punch to the mouth, breaking a tooth. Her cry for help turned into an uncontrollable sob.
The pain was enormous; she couldn’t breathe. Blood poured from her mouth and down her throat. She could also feel blood pouring from her vagina, soaking the bed. The tooth that had broken off lodged itself in her throat, causing her to choke. She tried to plead with him, tell him she couldn’t breathe, to slap at him, but he just held her arms down and fucked her. “You think you’re leaving me? I have a right to fuck my wife,” he said with a grin.
She managed to swallow the tooth, and as she lay there taking the abuse, she tried thinking of another place, somewhere else but there, but only nightmarish images filled her mind. She imagined herself dead on a blood-soaked mattress. That was how this was going to end, right? He was going to kill her—if not tonight, then sometime soon. If she survived this, it would only be the beginning of this horrible new act.
Darren wasn’t holding her left arm as securely as her right, which allowed some mobility. He seemed to be concentrating so much on his act that she didn’t think he would notice if she were to wiggle her arm completely free. She knew there was a gun in the nightstand next to the bed. If she could only reach it, she could end this.
He punched her in the nose, releasing that arm to do so. She’d been punched in the face many times before, but it always came as a surprise, even now. Blood gushed from her nose, but she somehow maintained the presence of mind to move her left arm. When he put his hand back down to support his weight, he didn’t seem to notice that he no longer held both her arms; he just continued thrusting away, seeming to take immense pleasure from his heinous deed.
“I have a right to fuck you, bitch,” he said, leaning in close, his face almost touching hers. His breath was hot and smelled like sewage. He licked the blood pouring from her nose and sucked it from her lips.
She managed to scoot toward the nightstand, twisting her arm backward to get to the drawer. The gun, she knew, was fully loaded. Darren had gotten it “for protection,” and always kept it loaded.
She concentrated on opening the drawer; it came open with surprising ease, and the gun was right on top. She twisted her wrist around and felt the weapon’s cold metallic grip. Darren continued to lick her face, enticed by all of the blood. Soon there would be more, and not hers.
Gun in hand, she tried to move so she could shoot him without shooting herself in the process. Because he was lying right on top of her, she just couldn’t turn the gun the way she needed to. Should she just shoot into the ceiling? That would certainly get him off of her, right? Maybe not…he might just punch her again, take away the gun, and then shoot her. She couldn’t take the risk. Any shot had to count.
“Darren,” she croaked. Her voice was thick and low. He didn’t hear her. “Darren,” she repeated, this time a little louder.
“Shut up, bitch,” he said and pushed his hips against hers. At that moment she realized she was going to have to fuck him back, to drive her hips against his. That way he might lift off her a bit, giving her a better angle to shoot him. The thought disgusted her, but was the only option she could think of.
“Oh, the bitch is getting a little feisty,” he said, and lifted himself off her just enough to give her a clear shot.
The explosion was the loudest thing she had ever heard. The bullet passed through his nose, destroying it completely. He collapsed on her, blood gushing from his face and into her mouth as he lay on top of her, dying. She didn’t notice it at the time, but she would conclude later, when the pregnancy test came up positive, that he was ejaculating as well.
****
The memory of that night lingered on. The nightmares grew worse as the pregnancy progressed. Darren’s death was ruled self-defense and no charges were filed, but a part of her hated the fact she’d killed him. He was a bastard and probably deserved what he’d gotten, but that did not change in any way the fact that she had taken another human life. Nothing could change that. And every night, the image of a noseless monster ravaging her haunted her sleep.
Shawna stayed in the house. Even after the horror, she couldn’t leave North Branch, Michigan, a small village north of Lapeer that had been her home all her life. But there was one unexpected benefit. As the surviving spouse, she gained full control of Darren’s bank account, an account that had sizable funds. She had no idea where he’d gotten all of his money, but she didn’t question it. She wasn’t going to have to worry about that ever again.
A part of her missed Darren. She had been miserable with him, but life as his wife was a life in which she didn’t have to make decisions or think for herself. It was a life of just existing, something that lent some comfort. But she knew when these thoughts came she was being silly; it was the mentality he had forced on her for all those years. Five years they’d been married, and not once had he treated her as an equal, as someone he loved.
As the months went by, things got a little easier. She even got her broken tooth fixed, thanks in no small part to her newly acquired “fortune.” She gave birth the following spring to a beautiful, seven pounds, thirteen ounces girl she named Alexis. She never looked at Alexis as anything other than her daughter. She never spoke of Darren, but he was always there in the back of her mind, haunting her dreams, coming to her again and again.
Was this normal?
After the incident, she started going to a local non-denominational church. Even though her parents had always been religious, she had never thought much about it. But as the years went on, as the ostensible message of love and acceptance became more clearly one of hate and division, Shawna stopped attending, causing a rift between her and her mother.
 “Mom, I’ll find meaning and forgiveness in my own way…without the baggage,” she explained. “I just don’t like the message…the attitude behind the sermons. Seems like Pastor Scott hates everyone and everything…I don’t like it.”

Her mother took this as a personal affront. “No matter the circumstances, you killed another human being, Shawna. You’re a murderer.”

Welcome Eric R. Johnston – Author of Children of Time

Interview with Eric R. Johnston
Can you tell us about yourself?
I am the author of five novels—Harvester: Ascension, An Inner Darkness, A Light in the Dark, 9111 Sharp Road, and most recently, Children of Time. I’ve been writing my whole life, but started seriously writing novels in 2009 when my friend, Andrew Utley, and I began writing Harvester: Ascension. I have a BA in History and English from The University of Michigan. When I’m not writing, I work as an editor and substitute teacher.
Tell us about your new release, Children of Time.
Children of Time is about a woman named Shawna who has recently survived an abusive relationship with a husband she was forced to kill in self-defense, only to find her life in utter chaos as everything she knows starts changing around her. When she goes to bed one night she has one child, a six-year-old daughter named Alexis. When she wakes up, she has two daughters, Tonya and Paris, 11 and 7, respectively, and she’s pregnant to the point of bursting with a child named Alexis, who can communicate with her telepathically and is as aware as the six-year-old she was the night before and is as confused as her mother. Oh, and her dead husband is still alive and will stop at nothing until she’s dead.
Children of Time is a novel that came about almost by complete accident. I was working on a science-fiction novel I was calling Temporal Winter that was about future humans developing technology that could alter the past with the purpose of improving the future by destroying the “mistakes” of the past. This technology, although interesting, led to some disastrous consequences. But there was something about the novel that didn’t work for me. I just wasn’t in love with it like I needed to be to finish it, so I put it aside and started work on a dark fantasy novel I called City of Evil. This novel dealt with some loose ends from my novel A Light in the Dark. But this story ended up being far too short to be a full-length novel, so that too was put aside.
Then it occurred to me to combine the two novels. The idea must have been in my subconscious the whole time because the novels fit together perfectly. Instead of misguided patriots from the future wreaking havoc on the timeline, it was the villain of City of Evil.  
Do you already know what to write next? Can you tell us?
My next novel is called All I Want in Life (Is to Be Happy). I anticipate releasing this one early next year. It deals with suicide, but like my other novels, it delves into the bizarre and strange. I don’t want to go into too much detail about it, but I want to say my decision in attacking such a powerful subject comes from someone very close to me recently confided in me about suicidal thoughts he’d been having. After talking the situation over, I think I made him realize there are other ways dealing with the problems in his life. But just the act of having this conversation affected me drastically, and one way I deal with things that bother me is to write about them.
Can you provide a link where someone can purchase Children of Time?
What is a link to your blog?
Excerpt
Prologue of Children of Time
Shawna let out a deep sigh as she walked into the lawyer’s office in North Branch, Michigan. THE LAW OFFICES OF DOOLITTLE, ANDERSON, WILLIAMS, AND LYNCH read the white writing on the glass door. A bell chimed overhead when the door opened, but it wasn’t needed. A young woman was sitting at a dark brown oak desk. Shawna was fifteen minutes early for a divorce consultation, but the paralegal was ready with a wide, obviously fake smile.
“Uh, hi,” Shawna said with an awkward smile. “I’m here to see, um….” She looked back at the door. “I guess I’m here to see Doolittle?”
“Yes,” the paralegal said, jumping up. She looked too excited, too happy, to be working in a divorce legal practice. “Mr. Doolittle will be here shortly, but there are a few things I can go over with you. I’m Sally, by the way.” She held out her hand to shake Shawna’s. “Now follow me to the back.” She motioned for Shawna to follow her down a long corridor.
Shawna noticed the carpeting, the walls, and the ceiling all looked very expensive. Intricate geometric patterns covered the soft carpet. The walls had matching patterns covering them, matted with a dark brown finish.
Her home, in contrast, was modest, with bland white carpet and matching white walls. Who knew how long she would even have that? She couldn’t stand being with Darren any longer, and if he refused to leave, she would have to live with her mother, a prospect she dreaded almost as much as the idea of staying married to that bastard.
Sally opened a door to another room that looked like an office one would only expect to see in a $500 million mansion. A chandelier covered with long pieces of crystal glowing with its own light hung from the ceiling above the intricately carved desk, and light poured in through a large window, covering the entire wall opposite the desk.
“Take a seat,” Sally said, gesturing toward a chair Shawna couldn’t imagine anyone but royalty would be allowed to sit in.
As nice as this place was, she would rather be sitting in an old, dilapidated building with a ceiling that was falling in from a combination of water and mold. Free consultation or not, there would be no way she could afford even the most basic of services here; no way…not in a law office this nice.
Her heart started pounding as Sally sat at the desk across from her. “Mr. Doolittle will be here shortly, but I can go over a few things with you. If you do choose to use his services, he will require a twenty-five hundred dollar retainer. That should cover all costs. In some cases, he has used the retainer before the case was resolved, but this is a rare circumstance.”
“Twenty-five hundred dollars?” Shawna couldn’t believe the staggering figure. She’d thought maybe it would be $100…maybe even as much as $500, which was the amount she had managed to get from the ATM after stealing Darren’s bank card. There was no way she’d be able to come up with $2,500, not with Darren having control of all the finances. Hell, she hadn’t even had a job since high school. She had no money of her own.
Just then, a man standing about six feet, two inches tall entered the room. He had a beard that resembled Abraham Lincoln’s—thick, but without a mustache. He wore a gray suit that appeared to be made of an expensive material that she couldn’t even begin to identify.
She stood as he entered and took his extended hand.
“I’m Vince Doolittle. Nice to meet you.”
“Hi.”
“You can sit down.”
She sat back down. Sally walked toward the doorway, then turned to Doolittle. “I explained to her a little about the retainer. She understands it’s twenty-five hundred dollars and should cover most expenses, if not all.”
“Good, good.”
As Sally left, Doolittle shut the door. “So, you’re seeking to divorce your husband?”
“Yes. His name is Darren. He, uh…he doesn’t know I’m here. He has no idea I’m trying to divorce him. I really have no money except for what I was able to swipe off his bank card on the way here. Honestly I don’t, but I can’t be with him anymore. But I don’t think—actually, I know I can’t afford the retainer. I mean, all I could get out of the ATM was five hundred dollars.”
“Assuming he’s willing to cooperate, I can serve as the lawyer for you both, working on what the best options are for both of you. I can work up the paperwork for the separation, for division of assets, etc. If you don’t anticipate a fight, there is no reason we can’t do this. Do you think he would be able to come up with the full amount of the retainer?”
“No…he could, but he won’t. I…I need out of this marriage. I really have nowhere to go, no one to turn to. And I’m terrified to even go back there. If he finds out I came here today, if he finds out I took his bank card…oh God, I just wish he would die.” She drew in a sharp breath and slapped a hand over her mouth. “I didn’t mean that,” she cried, even though she wanted nothing more than to be rid of him, no matter what it took. She hugged herself in a tight grip, either hand clutching a shoulder. She was immediately reminded of the latest beating as her fingers touched the tender skin. “I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t.” Tears welled in her eyes and began coursing down her cheeks.
A look of faux compassion that reminded her of Sam Bernstein in those attorney commercials crawled over his features. “I work with a lot of divorcing couples. Some can split amicably while others can’t, but we are here to help if you choose.”
“If I choose?”
“You have three options. You and your husband can both hire me, and he can pay the retainer; you can borrow the money from a friend or family member; or, I can refer you to a service for low-income residents to help you draw up the paperwork. I wouldn’t recommend that choice, however, because you would be serving as your own attorney; and if he fights you on anything, or if he gets a lawyer, there is a strong possibility you could be in a whole world of hurt.”
As if I’m not already there.
There really was no choice. She’d heard once that freedom of choice was a myth, an illusion; that access to money was equivalent to freedom of choice, and if you didn’t have money there were no choices to make. She would just have to put up with the beatings…maybe convince herself that she was still in love. Maybe that was all she needed.
“I can’t do any of those things,” she said. “I have no access to my own money.”
“You can’t borrow from your mother?”
“No, no…not for this. She would…just the thought of her daughter getting a divorce would kill her. Sometimes I think she’d rather see me beat to death by my husband than to divorce him. You know, the whole ‘death do us part’ line?”
He stood, impatience replacing his faux compassion, extending his hand. “It’s been nice talking with you, but until you have money, there is nothing I can do.”
“But I thought you did a free consultation?”
“And you’ve been consulted. But I don’t represent for free.”
He motioned her toward the door.
Even Darren’s constant beatings never made her feel as humiliated as she did at that moment. Maybe divorcing this bastard was not a choice she had. Maybe she could forgive the beatings, and convince herself they were done for love. Maybe…maybe….
****
Her trip home was a two-mile walk that afforded her time to think about everything in her life, in particular her loveless and childless marriage to Darren. They hadn’t had sexual relations in four of the five years they’d been married. Growing up, she’d wanted a loving husband, lots of kids, plenty of money to raise them, and a big house with a swimming pool. She had none of those things, but what hurt the most was the children. She was thirty-six years old, and had done nothing with her life. Where had it gone? She’d gotten with Darren in high school and they had dated for ten years, with him refusing to marry her until they turned thirty.
After their lackluster wedding (another childhood dream unfulfilled), the beatings began, and the drinking. She couldn’t remember if he’d drank more than socially before their wedding, but it intensified afterwards to the point where he could never be seen without a bottle in his hand.
She remembered how he had recently stumbled into the bathroom. She could hear him mumbling through the bathroom door. “No children, no children ever. Keep the children away. No, no. I don’t want to be a surrogate. Please, I can’t stand this anymore. All these iterations, they’re killing me.” He said this in the most terrified voice she’d ever heard, then cried out to someone named Falcon. Then she heard him speak a name: “Alexis.”
She had no idea who these people were…they certainly weren’t anybody she’d ever been introduced to. Part of her hoped Alexis was some other woman Darren had met, and that the affair would lead to the divorce she so desperately craved. But that had been nothing but speculation, and after leaving the bathroom, Darren had clearly been in no mood to discuss anything. As usual, he let his fists do the talking. That’s when she decided she couldn’t wait for him to leave her for some other woman. She needed a divorce now. But thanks to that money-hungry shyster Doolittle, that prospect seemed farther away than ever.
Her desperate thoughts bounced around in her head until she got home, half an hour later. She slipped in through the garage’s side door and grabbed a pair of gardening gloves and a spade. Then she went back outside to get her hands and knees dirty. If Darren had gotten wise to her absence, she could say she was just weeding the flower bed to plant the bulbs her mother had given her a few months before. By mid-July, this was long overdue, and the weeds were taking over her garden.
She peered through the large picture window into the living room. She could clearly see the back of Darren’s recliner, but he wasn’t in it. The TV was blaring at full volume, however, and several cans and bottles of beer were strewn about the room.
Without warning, her face was shoved into the glass, hard. Dazed, she fell backwards, landing on her butt. Darren was standing there wearing nothing but a white tank top and a pair of cloth shorts. A thought, perhaps inappropriate for the circumstance, came to her; why did he cut the hair on his head so short if he let his body hair grow so wild?
Blood ran from her nose.
“Where have you been?” he demanded, reaching for her hair.
“I’ve been out here weeding.” She said this softly, almost as if she was embarrassed that she was still going to use that lie considering no weeds were pulled, and he had probably seen her arrive home.
“Bullshit.” He grabbed a handful of her long brown hair and shoved her face into the dirt. “You’ve been weeding all this time and haven’t managed to pull a single weed? And what were you doing with this?” He let go of her head and reached into her back pocket, snatching the bank card. A part of it must have been sticking out of her pocket. “And this?” He reached around to her front pocket and pulled out the wad of cash. “What the fuck were you planning on doing? Hire someone to kill me?”
“No,” she said, looking down.
“No, you were going to steal all my money and leave. You’re not smart enough to hire a hit man.” He threw the cash in the air as if it were nothing to him. “And this isn’t enough to hire a lawyer. You plan on bleeding me dry, after all I’ve done for you?”
He pulled her head back and shoved it into the dirt again. “Eat the dirt, bitch. That’s all you’re good for. Eat it.”
He had both his hands on her head, pushing it down into the dirt. She remained calm while praying it would all be over soon. Just kill me, she thought. Please, just let it end. Then she remembered the spade just below her. Could she reach it? She stretched her hand underneath her, grabbing for it, but it wasn’t there.
“Looking for this?” Darren let go of her head briefly, just long enough to pick up the spade. “I could slit your throat if I wanted to. But you know I won’t. What would be the fun in that?”
He pushed her face into the dirt again, and then got off her and went into the house. She could see him through the window as he sat back down in the recliner, set the spade next to him, and cracked open a beer as if nothing had happened.
****
She cried in the bedroom for the rest of the day, just waiting for eight o’clock to come along. Darren fell asleep in the recliner at that time, like clockwork.
Eight o’clock came, and like always, he fell asleep. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, depending on one’s perspective, he didn’t stay asleep. As she lay in bed, he came into the room in a drunken stupor. He hadn’t showered or shaved in weeks, so his stench was intolerable as he bounded on her like she was his prey, ready for the taking.
“Get off me!” she screamed and pushed at him, but he was too heavy and tore at her clothes. She ripped at his white tank top, scratching his shoulders and face, but he kept on. He grabbed her breasts so hard she cried out in pain—it felt like he was trying to pull them off—and then he moved to her pants. It was clear where it was heading. Her foot connected with his groin, but that only seemed to encourage him, for he became more aggressive, tearing her pants off the rest of the way.
“You’re mine, bitch.”
And then he forced himself inside her.
She still bore the emotional and physical bruises and scars from previous beatings, but he had never raped her, and she’d never thought he would…until now.
“Help!” she tried to scream, but he silenced her with a punch to the mouth, breaking a tooth. Her cry for help turned into an uncontrollable sob.
The pain was enormous; she couldn’t breathe. Blood poured from her mouth and down her throat. She could also feel blood pouring from her vagina, soaking the bed. The tooth that had broken off lodged itself in her throat, causing her to choke. She tried to plead with him, tell him she couldn’t breathe, to slap at him, but he just held her arms down and fucked her. “You think you’re leaving me? I have a right to fuck my wife,” he said with a grin.
She managed to swallow the tooth, and as she lay there taking the abuse, she tried thinking of another place, somewhere else but there, but only nightmarish images filled her mind. She imagined herself dead on a blood-soaked mattress. That was how this was going to end, right? He was going to kill her—if not tonight, then sometime soon. If she survived this, it would only be the beginning of this horrible new act.
Darren wasn’t holding her left arm as securely as her right, which allowed some mobility. He seemed to be concentrating so much on his act that she didn’t think he would notice if she were to wiggle her arm completely free. She knew there was a gun in the nightstand next to the bed. If she could only reach it, she could end this.
He punched her in the nose, releasing that arm to do so. She’d been punched in the face many times before, but it always came as a surprise, even now. Blood gushed from her nose, but she somehow maintained the presence of mind to move her left arm. When he put his hand back down to support his weight, he didn’t seem to notice that he no longer held both her arms; he just continued thrusting away, seeming to take immense pleasure from his heinous deed.
“I have a right to fuck you, bitch,” he said, leaning in close, his face almost touching hers. His breath was hot and smelled like sewage. He licked the blood pouring from her nose and sucked it from her lips.
She managed to scoot toward the nightstand, twisting her arm backward to get to the drawer. The gun, she knew, was fully loaded. Darren had gotten it “for protection,” and always kept it loaded.
She concentrated on opening the drawer; it came open with surprising ease, and the gun was right on top. She twisted her wrist around and felt the weapon’s cold metallic grip. Darren continued to lick her face, enticed by all of the blood. Soon there would be more, and not hers.
Gun in hand, she tried to move so she could shoot him without shooting herself in the process. Because he was lying right on top of her, she just couldn’t turn the gun the way she needed to. Should she just shoot into the ceiling? That would certainly get him off of her, right? Maybe not…he might just punch her again, take away the gun, and then shoot her. She couldn’t take the risk. Any shot had to count.
“Darren,” she croaked. Her voice was thick and low. He didn’t hear her. “Darren,” she repeated, this time a little louder.
“Shut up, bitch,” he said and pushed his hips against hers. At that moment she realized she was going to have to fuck him back, to drive her hips against his. That way he might lift off her a bit, giving her a better angle to shoot him. The thought disgusted her, but was the only option she could think of.
“Oh, the bitch is getting a little feisty,” he said, and lifted himself off her just enough to give her a clear shot.
The explosion was the loudest thing she had ever heard. The bullet passed through his nose, destroying it completely. He collapsed on her, blood gushing from his face and into her mouth as he lay on top of her, dying. She didn’t notice it at the time, but she would conclude later, when the pregnancy test came up positive, that he was ejaculating as well.
****
The memory of that night lingered on. The nightmares grew worse as the pregnancy progressed. Darren’s death was ruled self-defense and no charges were filed, but a part of her hated the fact she’d killed him. He was a bastard and probably deserved what he’d gotten, but that did not change in any way the fact that she had taken another human life. Nothing could change that. And every night, the image of a noseless monster ravaging her haunted her sleep.
Shawna stayed in the house. Even after the horror, she couldn’t leave North Branch, Michigan, a small village north of Lapeer that had been her home all her life. But there was one unexpected benefit. As the surviving spouse, she gained full control of Darren’s bank account, an account that had sizable funds. She had no idea where he’d gotten all of his money, but she didn’t question it. She wasn’t going to have to worry about that ever again.
A part of her missed Darren. She had been miserable with him, but life as his wife was a life in which she didn’t have to make decisions or think for herself. It was a life of just existing, something that lent some comfort. But she knew when these thoughts came she was being silly; it was the mentality he had forced on her for all those years. Five years they’d been married, and not once had he treated her as an equal, as someone he loved.
As the months went by, things got a little easier. She even got her broken tooth fixed, thanks in no small part to her newly acquired “fortune.” She gave birth the following spring to a beautiful, seven pounds, thirteen ounces girl she named Alexis. She never looked at Alexis as anything other than her daughter. She never spoke of Darren, but he was always there in the back of her mind, haunting her dreams, coming to her again and again.
Was this normal?
After the incident, she started going to a local non-denominational church. Even though her parents had always been religious, she had never thought much about it. But as the years went on, as the ostensible message of love and acceptance became more clearly one of hate and division, Shawna stopped attending, causing a rift between her and her mother.
 “Mom, I’ll find meaning and forgiveness in my own way…without the baggage,” she explained. “I just don’t like the message…the attitude behind the sermons. Seems like Pastor Scott hates everyone and everything…I don’t like it.”

Her mother took this as a personal affront. “No matter the circumstances, you killed another human being, Shawna. You’re a murderer.”

Welcome Montrée Whiles – Author of A Voice from an Inner World

This week I’m turning the blog over to short story writer Montree Whiles. 

Livia, I appreciate being here today. Thanks for having me.

Hello and thanks for stopping in to my blog post. The book I discuss is a collection of short stories I’ve done over time, mostly from a contest or two I’d participated in online a few years back. Over the years, I’ve put my pen to a few things including contests, and school periodicals and miscellaneous literary doodling. Discovering the self-publishing frenzy at the end of 2011 was the motivation for me to take writing seriously as an option. So, I joined the fray. A Voice from an Inner Worldserved as a training tool as I navigated the learning curve which presented itself as an obstacle. It continues to serve as a sampler of my writing.

We live in an age where the average person (in the USA) is literate enough to compose a story and education doesn’t necessarily have a bearing on the quality or reception of that story. The former coupled with the arrival on the scene of the ereader, has already made tremendous changes in the publishing, writing and reading worlds. I suspect it will become more common for people to carry their reading (and writing) around with them to have a go at during those moments of idleness between tasks, while having a coffee alone or even taking a meal alone. For some, this may equate to loneliness, but we’ve all heard the adage about being lonely in a crowd. The greater value, I think, is in those moments spent in quality encounters with true friends rather than being able to count the numbers of people one has collected to take up space in one’s life.

As far back as high school, I can recall belonging to the school publication group as well as doing a bit of writing myself. Since then I’ve penned the occasional story here and there. My first publication, A Voice from An Outer World, is a collection of some of the short stories I’ve done over time. Of course, I have my favorites. The story in this collection that stands out as well loved by me is, “Fireworks.” I’m sure you’ll find your own favorites as you read the various stories.

Reading, oddly enough, doesn’t provide fodder for my stories. Many times a chance encounter will spark an idea for a story. Reading has become the teacher’s knee at which I learn to write. Though I still find I enjoy most of my reading selections, now I have the voice in my head pointing out spelling errors, grammatic and sentence structures to check in my reference book, and interesting turns of phrase and styles of writing to note. I enjoyed English classes and even more, language classes. I haven’t become a master yet of grammar, punctuation and spelling, but I’m moving in the right direction.

The support of friends is necessary, but there’s also a drive within to write. If that weren’t present, I’d not have motivation. One of the things that stokes the motivation to write are the characters I meet along the way. Bogga Fat Cat, from the selection below, is one of those characters that brings a smile to my face. He was written by the pen of Montrée Whiles. I write under several noms de plume. Where Montrée writes fiction across multiple genres, Satine Steele writes women-centered stories and books. Rabiyah Hamnach writes fiction for women and young girls which centers around strong Muslim females. Arachne Enterprises Publishing is the umbrella under which these authors write, are managed and ultimately self-published.

My ideas come from chance encounters, situations which arise on a day-to-day basis, and sometimes clear out of the blue in answer to “what if.” I enjoy seeing where an idea leads and comes to a stop. One thing that really does it for me also is the response I get in the form of feedback from readers. I want to know what worked for them, what didn’t; which story they really resonated with. I have several stories in work, one of which is Adrianna under the pen name Rabiyah Hamnach. Satine Steele has a story in work, The Mountain Wilds. Montrée’s next collection of short stories should be out hopefully this year, entitled, Of Black Holes and Universes.

Selection:
Bogga Fat Cat here. I’m just a big ol’ ball of Felinus Domesticus fur. Startin’ on my ninth life, I am. My ninth chance to do it up right. I’m just layin’ here on the porch contemplatin’ my life. Well actually watchin’ the field mice dodge back and forth thinkin’ they’re bein’ sly and all. Jus’ tryin’ to get up the urge to go get me a little Meece Tartare.

I’m thinkin’ it’s time to settle down. Ye know, pull up a nice fat pillow and kick back. Time to stop chasin’ them cute lil balls of fluff caterwaulin’ down at the Cat Nip N Cream. I have to say that last one I got my claws into yowled up a storm. I still have a bruise in the ol’ noggin where the bottle came flyin’ out the window and hit me in the head. I saw stars. All I can remember before passin’ out is the high-pitched squallin’ Willow Wild Cat was doin’ as I dug my claws in deeper in surprise. When I came to, I was paws up behind a trash barrel.

Don’t know how I got my tawdry tail home, but I did. Only I arrived to find my People had other ideas for me. I was stowed away in my car box and whisked off to that awful place where they pick and poke and I have to listen to the pathetic yowls, howls, groans, moans, whimpers, chirpin’s, and other noises comin’ from the assorted inmates subjected to the same or similar fate as I. All in all it could’ve been worse. Some of my runnin’ mates have been to the same place and I never saw ‘em again. I notice I been paddin’ around a little lighter on the hind paws since I got home.

Supposin’ I did take on the life of a true house cat? I guess I could get to like it. I mean regular ear scratchin’ and soft places to lay around in aren’t a bad trade off. Let’s face it. Meeces Tartare is a real acquired taste, if you get my meanin’. I could get used to a more palatable diet that’s easier on the stomach. Lazy days on the porch in Summer and warm evenings next to the fire in Winter have their appeal.

Yeah. I think I’ll grab on to this last chance; chance number nine. I’m sure I can even live with Little People tuggin’ at my fur and ears and pullin’ on my tail. But, maybe I had ought to give a holler to Ol’ Tom down at the CatNip and Cream and let him know where I am so he can send a few balls of fluff my way from time to time. I’m sure I can work up an interest in caterwaulin’ every now and again.

Giveaway:
I’ll give away a free electronic copy of the book I discuss above by drawing. Include your email in your comment below to be added to the drawing. For anyone else I will send bookmark if you’ll also include your email address as well.

Upcoming Events:
April’s Not For Fools Guest Blog: April 4 on Grinelda Markowitz’s blog:https://grineldamarkowitz.wordpress.com

Buy Links:
Create Space (for a hard copy): https://www.createspace.com/3993185

Contact Information:
Montrée Whiles Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/scribblingsbymontreewhiles

Welcome Montrée Whiles – Author of A Voice from an Inner World

This week I’m turning the blog over to short story writer Montree Whiles. 

Livia, I appreciate being here today. Thanks for having me.

Hello and thanks for stopping in to my blog post. The book I discuss is a collection of short stories I’ve done over time, mostly from a contest or two I’d participated in online a few years back. Over the years, I’ve put my pen to a few things including contests, and school periodicals and miscellaneous literary doodling. Discovering the self-publishing frenzy at the end of 2011 was the motivation for me to take writing seriously as an option. So, I joined the fray. A Voice from an Inner Worldserved as a training tool as I navigated the learning curve which presented itself as an obstacle. It continues to serve as a sampler of my writing.

We live in an age where the average person (in the USA) is literate enough to compose a story and education doesn’t necessarily have a bearing on the quality or reception of that story. The former coupled with the arrival on the scene of the ereader, has already made tremendous changes in the publishing, writing and reading worlds. I suspect it will become more common for people to carry their reading (and writing) around with them to have a go at during those moments of idleness between tasks, while having a coffee alone or even taking a meal alone. For some, this may equate to loneliness, but we’ve all heard the adage about being lonely in a crowd. The greater value, I think, is in those moments spent in quality encounters with true friends rather than being able to count the numbers of people one has collected to take up space in one’s life.

As far back as high school, I can recall belonging to the school publication group as well as doing a bit of writing myself. Since then I’ve penned the occasional story here and there. My first publication, A Voice from An Outer World, is a collection of some of the short stories I’ve done over time. Of course, I have my favorites. The story in this collection that stands out as well loved by me is, “Fireworks.” I’m sure you’ll find your own favorites as you read the various stories.

Reading, oddly enough, doesn’t provide fodder for my stories. Many times a chance encounter will spark an idea for a story. Reading has become the teacher’s knee at which I learn to write. Though I still find I enjoy most of my reading selections, now I have the voice in my head pointing out spelling errors, grammatic and sentence structures to check in my reference book, and interesting turns of phrase and styles of writing to note. I enjoyed English classes and even more, language classes. I haven’t become a master yet of grammar, punctuation and spelling, but I’m moving in the right direction.

The support of friends is necessary, but there’s also a drive within to write. If that weren’t present, I’d not have motivation. One of the things that stokes the motivation to write are the characters I meet along the way. Bogga Fat Cat, from the selection below, is one of those characters that brings a smile to my face. He was written by the pen of Montrée Whiles. I write under several noms de plume. Where Montrée writes fiction across multiple genres, Satine Steele writes women-centered stories and books. Rabiyah Hamnach writes fiction for women and young girls which centers around strong Muslim females. Arachne Enterprises Publishing is the umbrella under which these authors write, are managed and ultimately self-published.

My ideas come from chance encounters, situations which arise on a day-to-day basis, and sometimes clear out of the blue in answer to “what if.” I enjoy seeing where an idea leads and comes to a stop. One thing that really does it for me also is the response I get in the form of feedback from readers. I want to know what worked for them, what didn’t; which story they really resonated with. I have several stories in work, one of which is Adrianna under the pen name Rabiyah Hamnach. Satine Steele has a story in work, The Mountain Wilds. Montrée’s next collection of short stories should be out hopefully this year, entitled, Of Black Holes and Universes.

Selection:
Bogga Fat Cat here. I’m just a big ol’ ball of Felinus Domesticus fur. Startin’ on my ninth life, I am. My ninth chance to do it up right. I’m just layin’ here on the porch contemplatin’ my life. Well actually watchin’ the field mice dodge back and forth thinkin’ they’re bein’ sly and all. Jus’ tryin’ to get up the urge to go get me a little Meece Tartare.

I’m thinkin’ it’s time to settle down. Ye know, pull up a nice fat pillow and kick back. Time to stop chasin’ them cute lil balls of fluff caterwaulin’ down at the Cat Nip N Cream. I have to say that last one I got my claws into yowled up a storm. I still have a bruise in the ol’ noggin where the bottle came flyin’ out the window and hit me in the head. I saw stars. All I can remember before passin’ out is the high-pitched squallin’ Willow Wild Cat was doin’ as I dug my claws in deeper in surprise. When I came to, I was paws up behind a trash barrel.

Don’t know how I got my tawdry tail home, but I did. Only I arrived to find my People had other ideas for me. I was stowed away in my car box and whisked off to that awful place where they pick and poke and I have to listen to the pathetic yowls, howls, groans, moans, whimpers, chirpin’s, and other noises comin’ from the assorted inmates subjected to the same or similar fate as I. All in all it could’ve been worse. Some of my runnin’ mates have been to the same place and I never saw ‘em again. I notice I been paddin’ around a little lighter on the hind paws since I got home.

Supposin’ I did take on the life of a true house cat? I guess I could get to like it. I mean regular ear scratchin’ and soft places to lay around in aren’t a bad trade off. Let’s face it. Meeces Tartare is a real acquired taste, if you get my meanin’. I could get used to a more palatable diet that’s easier on the stomach. Lazy days on the porch in Summer and warm evenings next to the fire in Winter have their appeal.

Yeah. I think I’ll grab on to this last chance; chance number nine. I’m sure I can even live with Little People tuggin’ at my fur and ears and pullin’ on my tail. But, maybe I had ought to give a holler to Ol’ Tom down at the CatNip and Cream and let him know where I am so he can send a few balls of fluff my way from time to time. I’m sure I can work up an interest in caterwaulin’ every now and again.

Giveaway:
I’ll give away a free electronic copy of the book I discuss above by drawing. Include your email in your comment below to be added to the drawing. For anyone else I will send bookmark if you’ll also include your email address as well.

Upcoming Events:
April’s Not For Fools Guest Blog: April 4 on Grinelda Markowitz’s blog:https://grineldamarkowitz.wordpress.com

Buy Links:
Create Space (for a hard copy): https://www.createspace.com/3993185

Contact Information:
Montrée Whiles Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/scribblingsbymontreewhiles

Welcome JB Dinizo – Author of Without Harry Dean

While I was in school, I paid little or no attention during grammar and sentence structure lessons as I was busy looking out the classroom window or drawing in my notebook. So, obviously, I had no thoughts of becoming an author. However, I was an incessant reader, covering every writer from Bunyan to the Brontes and was a fixture after school in my smalltown local library. I eventually became the town librarian during my senior year of high school and went on for professional library training.
  As a librarian I was always around books and as the years went by, I began to form thoughts of stories that I might write. I began writing down notes on my lunch hours and over the years. those notes turned into stories and then into books. I love the Civil War era and my desire was to write of someone who lived back in those long ago times so my book, Diary Secrets,
began to come together. Living here at the New Jersey shore, I  loved the old Barnegat Bay homes where generations of a family lived out their lives and loves. Hence, my book, Bay House.  I listened to my father tell of his remarkable family and was fascinated by the stories of his older brother who was an air pilot in the early years of flying. So Without Harry Dean began to form as a story in my mind.
  I grew up in Arlington, Vermont in those golden years right after World War II. Yes, Arlington, Vermont was Norman Rockwell’s hometown back then. My parents used to square dance with him and my friends and I swam under the covered bridge that faced his home. He even spoke at my high school graduation which was one rare privilege!
  Why are my books listed under the name, J.B. DiNizo, and not Alice DiNizo? J.B. is my cat and I am private and write what I write. If someone telephones me and asks why a Tuskeegee airman is a central character in Imperfect Past or why I wrote of English criminals in Comings and Goings, I just respond, “Thanks so much for your inquiry but J.B. cannot come to the telephone(computer) at the moment.”
 
If you like, Without Harry Dean is listed on Amazon.com as www.amazon.com/Without-Harry-Dean-J-DiNizo/dp/1612045707
My website is www.jbdinizo.com.