31 October 2011

Time for NaNoWriMo

For those of you who don't know what NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It starts tomorrow. It takes place every year during the month of November. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel and have it finished by the end of the month. This isn't the time to take an already existing novel and finish it. You are to start and finish a novel in one month. If you want to write a perfect novel, don't think you will get it here. If you want to actually say that you have completed a novel then you might enjoy this. It means late nights because you have to average over 1,500 words a day, but it is a great experience.

I participated for the first time last year and really enjoyed it. I can't say that my novel was the most complete of novels but it made me get the story down on paper. For more information on NaNoWriMo you can always check out the website http://www.nanowrimo.org/. It starts tomorrow so you have just enough time to sign up on the website. Have a happy Halloween.

30 October 2011


Last year when I went to World Fantasy Con I went to a panel on horror. It doesn't matter what people say their fear is, during the day. At night, they are thinking about the noise they just heard on the stairs. Someone also made a comment that it is more difficult to write ghost stories in a technologically advanced society. I think they were wrong.

Justin kicked his shoes into the closet and took a deep breath. The air smelled stale, but it was clean. The oxygen tanks had been refilled that morning. By tomorrow it would be back to smelling like a rainy afternoon air freshener, or what rain used to smell like. Here rain smelt like the sewage that ran under the streets.

He ran his fingers across the control panel on the wall.


A boy, five feet tall, poked his head around the corner. Green light from his eyes colored his white skin. Alim was the latest automated live-in maid.

"When's dinner?" Justin asked as he flopped down on the couch.

"It will be right out."

The smell of pre-packaged meatballs overran the stale one. His stomach turned.

"Dinner will be ready in five minutes," Alim called from the closet where the kitchen appliances were kept.

An ear bud and control panel rested on the table. He scooped up the bud and shoved it into his ear before picking up the controller and settling back down on the couch.

"Welcome, Justin." The voice seemed to be directly in his brain. "Resume playback?"

He nodded, the altimeter in the earpiece picking up the movement. Loud music filled his brain and he slumped further down on the couch. His fingers skimmed across the control panel and a screen shimmered in front of him, using the earpiece as a reference point. The projector lenses located along every side of the controller briefly illuminated his skin as he navigated through the various options. No matter how the projector was turned or where it was located, so long as he could see any part of it, the screen always covered his field of vision. Screens were used in every aspect of life and it was his job to help program them. His current project at work was integrating the projectors into walls and ceilings.

"Dinner." Alim walked in.

Justin scooted to a more sitting position and raised the controller so the bot could put a tray on his lap. He glanced at the metal tin on top of the tray, the sickly smell even stronger. Alim opened the container. Black, inch long bugs scuttled out, covering the tray in seconds. Justin flailed, throwing the tray to the floor. Some of the spindly legged creatures fell onto his trousers and scurried up the fabric. He brushed at his legs only to have the bugs move from his trousers to his arms and the controller.

"Get them off!"

"Justin?" Alim took a step back.

More of the bugs, their black shells iridescent in the light, swarmed up the couch. Hissing filled the air and Justin pushed himself away from the insect. He climbed over the edge and backed up to the wall.

"Justin?" Alim moved to stand next to him. "Are you alright?"

"The bugs—" he drifted off as he pointed to the couch. Meatballs covered the cloth and the control pad lay on the ground where he had dropped it. No bugs. He turned towards Alim. "Did you see the bugs?"

"I only saw the meatballs."

Justin retrieved the control panel, if only to have something to hold on to, and remained on the floor, staring at the couch. Alim cleaned up the meatballs and started another meal. Justin closed his eyes and fingered the control panel.

"Resume playback?"

He dropped his chin to his chest and closed his eyes as the music filled his brain. The smell of the preprocessed meatloaf filled his next breath. A hand tapped his shoulder


He opened his eyes and reached forward to take the tray he knew was proffered. His hand froze. Maggots crawled over a festering piece of meat. He snatched his hand back and stared up at Alim.

"Is something wrong?"

A knock sounded on the door. Alim dropped the tray and turned to answer it. Justin nearly clambered up the wall trying to get away from the maggots and other insects. He hopped over the fallen tray and hurried towards Alim who was opening the door. A hissing noise caught his attention and he turned to look back at the wall. The maggots were gone. He turned back to the door. A figure in a black robe and scythe walked through the door. He fell to his knees. The controller clattered out of his hand.

A high pitched whirring filled his ears as the scythe swung towards him. Pain flared in his head and he fell to the ground, twitching. Blood pooled out in front of his eyes and everything went dark.

Noises filled his mind. Saws. Bugs. Screams. Most often were the screams.

The black faded and he stared up at a ceiling. A light flashed across his eyes and he closed his eyes against the bright lights. He cracked his eyes open again. A man's head appeared, a worried frown creased his face.

"Justin, can you hear me? Blink three times."

Justin nodded, or tried to. His head remained fixed in place. The rest of his body also was locked down.

"No. Don't move, just blink."

He pulled at the restraints again.

"Let me go. What's going on?"

"Justin, please remain calm."

A scream sounded in his head and he thrashed as it increased. The straps bit into his arms and legs. He raised his head but a strap across his neck blocked his airway. The sound died down and he lay on the table, panting. The man's face appeared again.

"You have to listen to me."

A hissing noise sounded behind the words of the man, sounding like the bugs he'd first seen. He twitched. "Where are the bugs? I can hear them."

"The ear bud has embedded itself in your ear cannel. For the past three months we've tried to get it out but all of our surgeries have failed. We would let you out but it links with every screen. You'll have to stay here, in a contained area, away from anything that can cause these hallucinations. Justin? Stay with me—"

A voice sounded in his ear. "Resume playback."

28 October 2011

The Maze Runner Trilogy

by James Dashner

The Maze Runner
I read THE MAZE RUNNER shortly after it came out. It reminded me a lot of THE HUNGER GAMES, but gives me more hope in the future. The story follows the Gladers: a bunch of teenage boys, and a single girl, who live in a giant maze. None of them have their memories and there is no escaping the maze. No one knows exactly how long this has been going on but some of the boys have been there for two years. Every day they send out runners to map the maze, and every night they are locked in the glade where all the buildings are. Monsters roam the maze stinging those who come too close. Once they are stung they aren't ever the same again. Now all Thomas has to do is figure out how to get everyone out of the maze, and learn what part he has in all of it.

The main character is a boy named Thomas. He has a connection with the girl, Teresa, and makes a few other friends while he is there. I really liked Thomas. He is a decent character who treats everyone well. I liked how he was realistic. He doubts. He has fears. He wants to believe in others. He is just a good guy. All of the characters are flushed out, unique, and believable. You have Teresa Minho, Newt, Chuck, and Gally. You really cheer them on and want them to succeed and when things go horribly wrong, you feel betrayed by them.

THE MAZE RUNNER is intense at times but it never crossed the line for me. I don't have any qualms recommending this book to young adults and adults alike. I loved the visual image of the maze and the depth of the story, how everything fits together so smoothly.

The Scorch Trials
THE SORCH TRIALS is the second installment in THE MAZE RUNNER trilogy. The Gladers have escaped from the maze and are learning about Earth. They still don't have their memories back, though Thomas keeps having flashes that lead him to believe he and Teresa have a lot more to do with this than he wants to admit.

The Gladers reel from what WICKED, the organization who created the maze, is telling them. Earth has been damaged by sun flares and not only that but a strange disease called the Flare, is wrecking havoc on the human population. Flare destroys the mind, turning people feral, zombie-esque. Thomas and the other Gladers are told that if they can complete the Scorch Trials they will get the cure. If they thought the maze was bad, they had no idea what to expect from this new test.

This story puts a lot of strain on Thomas and through the whole thing I still liked him. At times it felt like there were a lot of similarities between this book and THE MAZE RUNNER, but I really liked the character development. I think that Dashner does an excellent job of putting his characters in situations where you feel so betrayed. This book really made me question what I thought I knew. Though there are some instances that took me by complete surprise I thought they were done amazingly well because none of the characters acted out of character.

When this book ended I was a little frustrated that I had to wait a whole year for the conclusion. It grabbed my attention and I would find myself thinking about it on occasion and just wondering what could be going on, because "WICKED is good."

The Death Cure
I pretty much counted down the days until THE DEATH CURE came out. And I was not disappointed. I was actually thrilled with how the story progressed and then ended. I feel at times that authors don't want to give their readers hope. Instead they want to see how much punishment they can give their characters. There have been plenty of books lately where it ended and I just wondered what the point was because it wasn't like anything had actually changed. THE DEATH CURE made me fear for the characters, I had no idea who was going to survive, and there are plenty of people who die, but I was completely satisfied with the end.

The Gladers are still at the mercy of WICKED, only this time they are promised that it is over. They have a chip implemented in their heads that map their brainwaves and gives WICKED control over their actions, which explains some of the events in previous books. The Gladers are given a choice, have the chip removed and receive all of their memories back, or keep the chip, have the controlling bit disabled remotely, and not receive any of their memories. This divides the Gladers into two groups which kind of sets the tone for the rest of the book. I liked how we see the change in Thomas. He becomes a harder person but it isn't unrealistic. This book was the most violent of the three but it wasn't explicit.

I was worried that this was going to be similar to the others but it wasn't. This book was refreshing and unique. I had a very difficult time putting it down and there were times that I teared up at what happened. I will be rereading this series in the coming years and I will continue to recommend it to people.

26 October 2011

Choosing Between Two Good Things

This last weekend my husband and I attended an anime convention. It is the only one we go to, since it is the only local one. This is the third year we've been and we decided that we wanted to help volunteer. The experience was great and it turned out to be the best year yet. The panels we made it to were great (I got some great sewing tips and saw some cool videos), our costumes worked out (people actually knew who we were supposed to be), and we met some neat people. We have plans for making next year even better.

While we were helping out, I made mention of the fact that I was a technical writer. One of the fellows was thrilled and explained that I could probably be even more involved, on staff and not just a registration volunteer. As he told me about it, I got really excited. I took his business card with every intention of emailing samples of my technical writing as soon as I could. I mean, what an awesome opportunity.

As we drove home Saturday night I was talking about it with my husband and reality set in. This con happens in October every year. I currently hold another volunteer position which has its big shindig in September, every year. I nearly lost my mind this year trying to get everything done for my current volunteer position if I were to add another one, even bigger, a month later, I really would go crazy. Even though I really want to do both, I realized that I had to make a choice. Since I have already pledged my time, I sent an email explaining the situation as politely as I could. I know I may never get this opportunity again, but I would rather enjoy both experiences than drive myself and my husband insane.

24 October 2011

You Like It, Now What

This is along the same lines as what I talked about for giving critiques but for today I am only going to talk about how to give feedback when you really liked the piece. As an author, I love to hear when people really liked my story, but if I am trying to get it published then I want more than just "I liked it." What I really want to know is why. I don't mind when people have nothing negative to say, but it is better if you can explain exactly why the piece was good. Whether it is character development, plot twist, descriptions, or imagery, if you can give reasons for why you like something, not just why you don't, it is more helpful.

23 October 2011


Intro: This is a story about a haunted house that has an unusual employee.

Mary rocked on her feet, her hands in her pockets. She hated haunted houses but it was the only job that she could get.

"Welcome to the Devil's Playground," Dave said to the people huddling in the entryway. A family: mom, dad, two kids, both early teens. Mary guessed thirteen and fifteen. "I am the necromancer Davidson Matlock. If you don't mind, Mary will be joining your group." The family looked around for minute before turning their attention back to Dave. Mary grimaced. "See you on the other side, if you can make it." He let out a blood curdling laugh as the door to the haunted house opened.

She trailed after the family and Dave held out a hand, stopping her.

"Make it worth their while."

She nodded and hurried to catch up. The door closed sealing her with the family in the house. They could always ask to be escorted out, but that wasn't exactly what she was there for. Helping them out wasn't first in her job description. The first room was black save for dots spaced irregularly on the walls. Employees dressed in black also covered in dots were scattered around the room. The wife clutched at her husband's arm as they inched their way through. Mary lagged behind, her hands still stuffed in her pockets. Whenever one of the dotted men moved, the family let out shrieks and gasps.

The next room consisted of walls of masks. The mother stepped close to one and jumped back in surprise when it screamed. More masks moved, seeming to morph from inanimate to feral. The family scurried on their screams mixing with the others. In what was termed as the psycho ward, Mary clutched at the mother's arm and hand. The mother gathered strength from the touch until she looked at her husband then back at Mary's hand on her flesh. She pulled away rubbing at the spot. Mary frowned but continued following them. In the slaughter room Mary screamed when the dummy had its head cut off and everyone jumped. She whimpered and the teenagers looked around before turning back to huddle closer to their parents. In strobe light, she moved up to the father muttering to herself and continually bumping into him. When the family ran through the last room and Mary stomped after them screaming. They burst through the door and hurried through the entry passing Dave who waved.

Mary hovered by the door and Dave turned back to her.

"You were great."

Mary just humphed.

"Don't you like working here?"

"When you called my spirit back from the dead, I didn't think it would be working at a third rate haunted house."

"Do you want me to be honest? You are the reason this haunted house is actually going anywhere. At this rate I'm going to have to raise another ghost."

She rolled her eyes. "I feel loved."

Dave smiled and shrugged. When the next group came in he swept them a bow. "Welcome to the Devil's Playground. I am the necromancer Davidson Matlock."

One of the new comers looked around. His face scrunched up in thought. "I heard you had a ghost here. Is that true?"

Dave laughed. "If you are lucky maybe you'll meet Mary."

21 October 2011

The Harper Hall Trilogy

by Anne McCaffrey

I don’t think it is possible to be a lover of fantasy and not dream of owning a pet dragon. I think it just runs in our blood. DRAGONSONG fueled my love of dragons as a child. The main character, Menolly, lives in a fishing village of sorts and loves music. Though it isn’t entirely proper the local musician teaches her. When the fellow dies, her chance of her doing anything with her musical abilities diminishes. An injury restricts her even further and she comes to accept the fact that she is destined to gut fish for the rest of her life until she happens to meet fire lizards, miniature dragons of sorts. Not only does Menolly have a memorable character but the fire lizards are unique in their own way as well.

When I first read DRAGONSONG, the idea of fire lizards drew me in. The adventure Menolly has throughout this book isn’t groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination. It is the story of a talented artist denied their dream because they are the wrong something, in this case, because she is female. Now that I am older I find new depth to her strong willed character who is also obedient. I am not one who thinks everyone should roll over and never fight for what they want to do, but I enjoy reading books where the character does what is necessary of them at the time but still manages to find a way to live their dream if the opportunity arises. This book, though the main character is female, is a great read for anyone who loves the fantasy genre, especially someone who loves dragons.

This is the second installment in THE HARPER HALL TRILOGY by Anne McCaffrey. My mother introduced me to DRAGONSINGER when I was young and it still remains one of my favorite novels. In some ways I actually like this book more than the first, DRAGONSONG. The story starts with Menolly arriving at Harper Hall to be the first female apprentice to Masterharper Robinton. There are other females at the hall and because Menolly is personally apprentices to the Masterharper, a lot of people are displeased with her and jealous of her position. Not to mention the fact that she has a brood of fire dragons following her around. These complications and her own fears show more development in her character.

Menolly is a character who is unaware of her own amazingness. She never thinks she does well enough and is always pushing herself to do more and be better. I love that about her and the fact that she is not a whiney character who is always lamenting her situation. She doesn’t take anything for granted; in fact there are times you wonder why she doesn’t notice more about what is going on in her life. You want her to be proud of herself. The other characters in the book are also so lively and lovable. Menolly’s friend Piemur is a good guy who is always looking out for her and is trying to teach her the ropes. He has quite a few opportunities to take advantage of her but is the faithful friend I wish I had growing up.

This is the final book in THE HARPER HALL TRILOGY. It is told from Piemur's point of view. In DRAGONDRUMS Piemur has a problem, his voice is changing and can no longer sing in the choir until it stops cracking. He doesn't want to leave Harper Hall and decides to make himself useful in other ways. He learned how to send messages using the drums. He is then taken on under Masterharper Robinton to act as an apprentice, of sorts. As he is traveling around Pern he picks up on various information and running errands.

When I first started reading DRAGONDRUMS I was concerned because I wasn't sure how much I was going to like it because it wasn't Menolly. Piemur seemed more flighty to me and not as grounded. Through the book he makes some decisions that I don't necessarily approve of, neither do some of the other characters, but I really did grow attached to him. I also liked the fact that I got to learn more about some of the other characters through their interaction with Piemur. By the end of the book I was as attached to Piemur as I was to Menooly but it is something to keep in mind when you read it.

The HARPER HALL TRIOLOGY will always be some of my favorite books. I hope that anyone who loves music and dragons has the opportunity to read this book. It made me wish I was more musically inclined, not to mention the fact that I wanted half a dozen fire lizards of my own.

19 October 2011

Marching Band

This weekend my husband and I went to watch my little sister's marching band competition. Though they didn't take first, they did a great job and I loved the show. It brought back a lot of memories. Both my husband and I participated in marching band in high school. We went to different schools and had different experiences. His school had some amazing shows; I watched them when I went to my older sister's competition. He made fun of our uniforms. On Saturday we sat shocked at his band's amateur performance, and admired the new uniforms of my band. What a good relationship we have.

At the competition we sat next to some parents of a first year band member. They asked us what it was about band that enticed the kids. They said they would wake their son for early morning practice and he wouldn't ever complain and it wasn't only their kid. They couldn't believe that something like marching band could be so exciting to a bunch of teenagers. I don't think there is a way to explain how marching band really is without experiencing it. It hurt like the dickens some days, but I am so glad I was able to be part of something so amazing. Though we both had some unpleasant experiences, we don't regret participating in band.

17 October 2011

How to Diagnose your Characters

This Friday one of my friends promoted my blog, so I thought that I would promote his blog, because it is awesome. My friend, Josh, is a psychology major and his blog is devoted to getting you to look at your character in complex ways. He covers everything from methods of parenting to schemas to development. I have found his insights to be very useful for making my characters more realistic.

The Blog That Helps You Diagnose Your Characters

16 October 2011


Intro: I have watched a lot of cop shows where someone accidentally kills someone else and then tries to hide it. So that is how the story started. I am not sure I really like this ends up, but I think there is some potential for it. I need to come up with better story ideas.

Felicia dropped her keys on the coffee table and kicked her shoes into a corner. The restaurant had been filled with lousy tippers and she wanted to scream. A breeze drifted in through the window and she moved over and resisted the urge to slam it down. Once the window was closed, she untied the apron and lowered it to the table, next to her keys. The change clinked reminding her of how many bills she hadn't gotten. There were some nights she could pull in nearly a thousand dollars in tips. Her rent counted on long nights like that. Now she wasn't sure how to come up for the money in three days. She sat down on the couch and kicked her feet up listening to the noises outside. A car honked. Other tenants moved up and down the stairs outside. Her apartment building was busier at two in the morning than at two in the afternoon.

She nudged the money with her toe and sighed before climbing off the couch and heading for the kitchen. With a kettle on the stove she went to her bedroom to get her stuff to organize the pittance she had made. The rest of the money from the week was already organized and tomorrow was her weekly trip to the bank. She thumbed through the bills with a sigh.

The whistling kettle drew her back to the kitchen. The room seemed even colder than it had before and she was glad for the mug of tea. A small breeze brushed across her face and she stared at the curtain for a moment confused.

Coins jingled.

She dropped the mug of tea. The hot liquid seared through her trousers as it splashed everywhere. The man standing at her coffee table looked up and then at the small zipper money bag clutched in her hand.

He raised his hand and pointed his gun at her. She stumbled back. A car honked in the parking lot and he turned at the noise. She fled, running through the kitchen and out onto the back porch heading for the stairs. Footsteps pounded after her. Something grabbed her shoulder and she turned, staring at the man. She took a step back and her heel found nothing but air.


Felicia turned on the light and double checked all of the windows. All of the locks were engaged and only opened two inches. She glanced around the apartment and breathed a sigh of relief. Nothing was out of place. With her check already deposited in the bank she set her purse down on the end table and headed into the kitchen. Her knee brace clicked with every step and her continual headache had gotten worse. All she wanted was a cup of tea.

A man sat at her kitchen table, gun in his hand. She covered her mouth.

"If it weren't for you, my brother would still be alive."

"This can't be happening." She backed away towards the door.

He stood and motioned towards a chair with his gun. She shook her head. The bullet tore into the wall next to her head. She let out a little shriek and her knee gave way when she tried to run.

"I can't believe that you weren't even charged." He crouched down in front of her, waving the gun.

"It was an accident. We fell down the stairs."

"I think you pushed him."

"No. Please. I didn't mean—"

The gun barrel slammed against her head and all pain from the headache was forgotten.

"You should have been the one who died, not him."

He grabbed her hair and pulled her across the floor.

"That judge should have put you away. You got off easy with the court system."

Tears streamed down her face as he opened up the back door. This new apartment also had a porch which is why she never went out there. She often heard her neighbors out there and stood at the door watching them. But she never could get the night out of her mind.

Any staircase reminded her of the fall that night. The man's weight on her while she screamed for help. The intruder had snapped his neck in the fall. The judge had ruled that she was not at fault. She didn't remember much of the case recovering from her own injuries, a tore ACL and a fractured skull being only part of it.

The man continued to scream and yell, dragging her over the wooden planks to the railing. She reached up and clawed at his hand.

"Let me go."

The man kicked her side and she bit her tongue, blood filling her mouth. He hauled her up and shoved her towards the railing. Her stomach slammed into the wood and she whimpered. She clutched at the support as the man continued to shove her.

The force against her back disappeared and she threw herself backwards, collapsing at the base of the railing. The man lay pinned to the ground. One of her neighbors knelt on the attacker's back and looked up.

"Don't worry. Everything is going to be alright."

Another neighbor helped her to her couch where she remained, holding a glass of water until the police showed up. As an officer led the man away he laughed as he saw her. She climbed to her feet, balancing on her good leg. The man stopped and she gritted her teeth. Her hand made a pleasing slapping sound against his face.

"Feel better?" the neighbor asked.

"No," she sank back down on the couch. "I think it is time to move again. This time, no stairs."

14 October 2011

The Picture of Dorian Gray

by Oscar Wilde

I wanted to do a creepy story since it is October. I have often heard about the THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY and knew the basic of the story, but didn't know the exact details of the story. The only story I knew from Oscar Wilde was the play THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST and let me just say that there is little in common between these two stories.

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY is about a man who suffers no consequences from evil acts. There are consequences with all of his actions; he just never has to deal with them. What most people know of this story is that the man's picture changes when he doesn't. This story really delves into how a man's actions change his appearance. I mean these aren't just changes like scars and old age; these delve deeper into facial expressions and more of how the body reacts to the different environments unconsciously.

This book was a lot different than what I expected but I loved it. I recommend reading it just so you can learn about who Dorian Gray really is.

I know the book image doesn't match the title. It is actually a Polish cover done by Maciej Ratajski. I just thought it looked awesome.

12 October 2011

Weekend Hike

My husband and I drove up to Mirror Lake last week. The leaves on the aspen were so pretty. By the time we actually got up to Mirror Lake darkness fell and we only walked around for a few minutes since we weren't dressed for the cold or have any flashlights with us. We decided to head up this last weekend and actually go hiking.

This last week it snowed. Friday night we debated as to whether we wanted to still go on our hike or not. We figured the snow wasn't going to lessen as the year continued so we might as well. Saturday morning we bundled up, threw spare clothes in our car, and headed up the canyon. The scenery was beautiful. The snow covered all of the trees but we could still see some of the color of the leaves. As we continued up towards the summit, the snow on the road got worse and soon we were driving on ice. We turned around and went back down to a picnic area. There we got out of the car and went for a short hike through the snow.

I never would have imaged I would live anywhere that got snow this early in the year. Strangely, though I have never really participated in snow sports, except for sledding as a child, I love the snow and winter. But then again I live in a place that has four seasons.

10 October 2011

Study Up

It never hurts to get a few writing books and study up on what you feel is a weak point. There are plenty of good books out there that cover everything from grammar and usage to plot and character development. If you don't want to actually purchase the book, look into getting them from the library. By reading books about writing, and not just books in your genre, you can improve your writing technique and spend more time adding details and less time worrying about comma placement.

09 October 2011

*Uncollected Souls

Intro:This is my attempt at a zombie story. My idea is that zombies are what happens when the grim reapers get backed up with work. If the souls isn't collected at death, then it stays with the decaying body.

Lindsey nodded hello to the new security guard as she headed to her office.

"Doctor," he said getting to his feet and holding out his hand. "Take this."

He dropped a folding knife into her up turned palm.

"What is this for?"

"Sometimes it takes awhile to collect souls."

Collect souls?

"Um—thanks." She glanced down at his name tag Richard Grimm. "Mr. Grimm." She stuffed the knife into her pocket and pushed her way through the swinging doors towards her office.

"Let me get that," Bryce, her assistant said. He moved past her and pushed open the door to the office. The cold brought goose bumps through her coat. Bryce flipped the switch and the silence was broken by the sound of florescent bulbs humming into life. The metal surfaces seemed even more sterile than usual as she looked at the bag on the table. Small hatches lined one wall where dozens of other bodies were kept until the police could find time to pick them up.

"Head or feet?" Bryce asked picking up the clipboard and flipping through the papers. "Heart attack, poor fellow. Only fifty-five."

"Why are we doing an autopsy?"

"Guy was rich and had a large life insurance payout. The cops just want to make sure there was no funny business." He tossed the clipboard side and grabbed the zipper.

"Hold on, just a second." She walked over to the sink and pumped some soap into her hands.

That security guard's got me all jumpy.

"Lins?" Bryce said and she heard him fiddling with the body bag.

"I'll be there in a moment to help. Don't try and do it on your own."

The warm water did little to ease the cold still clinging to her. She grabbed a clean towel and dried off. The faucet dripped and she made a mental note to tell maintenance so they could repair it. She turned and tossed it into the basket with the other ones. Her gaze fixated on the table. Bryce lay on top of the body bag, his hands folded on his chest. Blood flowed from his throat to drip on the ground. A gentleman stood next to the table, his grey skin sagging and blood coating his hands.

What happened to Bryce?

"Wha?" the man patted Bryce's hands and pressed at his neck as if trying to push the blood back in. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry." He looked up at her, his eyes wide. "It was an accident. I thought he was trying to kill me, you have to believe me."

She pulled the knife out of her pocket, flicking the blade open. Against the man in front of her it seemed very little. The man raised his hands and sobbed.

"Put your hands down. Keep them away from your face, sir," She said. Her voice cracked.

He rubbed his face and the sobbing petered off. He looked up at her. Pink irises examined her.

"And if I don't want to keep my hands away from my face, what then?" A gray purple tongue snaked out of his mouth and licked the blood from his fingers. With each taste, his irises darkened until she stared at blood red eyes. He touched Bryce's throat again, his fingers coming away with more blood.

"Don't touch him."

"But I'm hungry."The man turned his attention back on Bryce. She edged around the room trying not to listen or see what the man was doing. He looked up as she pushed open the door. She slipped through the door before slamming it shut.

No lock. There's no lock on the door. There's no lock!


The door hit her back and she stumbled forward a step before throwing her weight against it. The pounding continued. She braced her feet against the ground as best she could as the door slammed into her back.

"Let me out." His voice wasn't loud or even threatening. It was even and reminded her of her father's voice. "Lindsey, that's your name, right? Let me out of here."

The metal door by her head buckled and she jerked to the side. Another pound pushed her across the tile floor almost a foot. She scrambled back leaning against the door. A gray hand clawed at her side between the doors. She pushed her weight against it but the hand remained squeezed between the doors.

"Help! Please! Someone, help me!"

A sob tore at her as she continually threw her weight against the door. With the knife gripped in both hands, she slashed at it. The blade cut into the flesh and came away bloody. No blood dripped from the wound but oozed, congealed and thick.

What is going on?


"Enough of this," the man said. The door smashed into her and she skidded across the floor to collide with the wall across the way. She kept the knife in her hand and pushed herself up. The man scuttled towards her, his knees bent and blood crusted fingers resting on the ground. She swiped out with the knife trying to crawl backwards down the hall.

A gunshot echoed down the hall, then a second, and a third. The man fell back. Lindsey risked a glance over her shoulder. The security guard walked down the hall, his boots clicking on floor.

"Are you alright?" He reached down and pulled her to her feet. "I'll take care of it from here."

She stumbled away from him, knife still in her hand.

"I'll just collect his soul and Bryce's and be on my way."

Collect their souls?

The security guard paused by the man a yellow light illuminating his face for a moment. Then he turned on his heel and walked through the door.

Through. He didn't even open it. Who is he?

When she ran back into the office the man crouched by Bryce next to a freezer. One of the doors lay open a body half falling out. The security guard stood up and ushered her out of the office and down the hall.

"Who are you?"

He just smiled and walked back to his desk.

07 October 2011

Tuesdays at the Castle

by Jessica Day George

When I heard that Jessica Day George was coming out with another book I was thrilled. I love all of her books and was curious to see what TUESDAYS AT THE CASTLE was like. When I won an ARC from a contest I nearly squealed in delight. I read the book in a day and can't wait for more to come out with the same characters. This book is intended for younger audiences. The main character, Celie, is eleven.

The castle isn't normal and if you aren't paying attention you may end up in a room you never knew you existed (which reminded me of the Enchanted Forest in Patricia C. Wrede's books). Celie is the youngest child of the King and Queen of Glower and she has made it her mission to map the ever changing castle. I love the fact that she gets along with her older siblings and that instead of constant bickering, they enjoy spending time with each other and helping each other. When the Kind and Queen are presumed, and declared dead, Celie does everything she can to protect the castle and her family.

This book is such a cute read and my only complaint is I wanted to know more about some of the characters, but since this is the start of a new series I have the feeling that I will get to know them in later books. I look forward to reading this book with my children and it will always have a treasured place on my bookshelf next to DEALING WITH DRAGONS and THE ORDINARY PRINCESS.

05 October 2011

Contests For Books

Recently my husband and I have come to an agreement that I need to limit how many books I purchase. I live close to a good library and need to get the majority of my reading from there or borrow them from my family. I have also started entering contests to try and win books. I have won almost a dozen books at this point. Granted not all of them are the ones I really wanted but I have learned an important secret. If I am going to win, I have to enter the contests. If I never enter any contests then I am never going to win.

03 October 2011


It never seems to fail that when I am editing someone's novel that I find myself drawing a picture during some point. A lot of my friends kind of chuckle at them, but it gets them thinking about the situation they are talking about. I even find myself drawing pictures for my own story. Drawing a picture, even stick figures, can help you work through a difficult scene or description. The other trick you can do is just give someone your description and see if they can draw a picture from it. This is a great way to make sure information such as seals, insignias, icons, fight sequences, or even character descriptions are clear.

You can also go the other way. I know some people, and I have done this on occasion, to cast their characters. You don't have to take the personality but if you want to find people who look like your characters it can sometimes be easier to describe them as necessary. Go through magazines, movies, or the internet to find the perfect person to play your character.

02 October 2011


Intro: It is October and time for me to practice my hand at scary stories. Or at least more scary and unnatural than I normally write.

Nathan paused outside the room looking into all of the dark corners the light from his candle didn't reach. At home he'd enjoyed the dark, spending time outdoors staring up at the sky. His parents didn't like finding him sitting in the dark just staring at the shadows from a single candle flame. The dark here at the boarding school was different.


Something answered.

"Come on, Nathan. You can't avoid me forever." The voice was soft and he took a step back.

The other children pushed past him, hurrying to their beds. The bell tolled and all of the boys climbed under their blankets until only Nathan stood at the door, his candle wavering with each breath. The headmaster's footsteps thudded down the hall.

"Boy, what are you still doing out of bed?"

He willed himself to step forward but the shadows danced and he turned to face the headmaster. The candle fell to the floor and sputtered out as the large man grabbed his arm. He didn't even protest as he was dragged down to the office. He took his shirt off rubbing his arms against the cold. As the headmaster removed his belt, Nathan bent over, gripping the back of a chair. Each blow across his back brought a cry to his lips.

"Nine. Ten. Eleven. Twelve."

Nathan sagged to his knees and sobbed.

"Off to your bed, boy. Tomorrow get in on time. Don't make it twelve. We would hate to have to call your parents about this."

He shook his head. Adoptive parents. His older brother never let him forget that they shared no blood. He was a charity case taken in because his parents had been guilted into it.


He staggered back to his room and leaned against the wall. Bodies filled the beds and for a moment, Nathan watched a shadow steal from one to another.

"Come out, come out, wherever you are." This voice came from the shadow. No other sound came from the room.

He slid down against, the pain across his back warming him from the chill he felt. When he leaned back the pain flared up and he gasped.

"Found you," the voice said and the shadow moved closer. Nathan scrambled away on his hands. The shadow lunged and Nathan let out a small yell. He fell, his back slammed into the cold floor and he lost his breath. The shadow let out a howl or rage as it slammed against an invisible barrier.

"Nathan!" None of the boys heard the cry. Nathan rolled to his stomach and lay there all night, staring at the creature pacing in the dark room.

"Wake up, boy." The professor rapped his pointed against the desk and Nathan sat up rubbing his eyes. He leaned back against his chair and let out a cry as the pain engulfed him.

"You two, help him back to his room. He will stay there for the rest of the day. If he is too tired to stay awake in my class, he is too tired for food."

"No, please. I'm sorry. I'll stay awake. Please." Nathan leaned forward, his hands clasped before him on his desk.

Two boys supported him on either side and carried him from the room.

"No. Not the room. Please. Not the room."

They remained silent, but Nathan could see pity on their faces, or maybe it was scorn. For the past three weeks, Nathan had refused to enter the room. At first it was only five whips a night after two weeks the headmaster had been adding a stroke for every time he broke curfew. The boys who shared the room with him found him asleep on the floor in the hall in the morning. He pulled but they held him tight.

"No. No. No."

They shoved him through the open door. A shadow stood to the side the white teeth gleaming against the grey skin. The two boys remained in the hall, oblivious to the monster not three feet away.

"See you later," one said. They both turned and left.

Nathan remained fixed in place as the shadow shut the door.

"I found you," it said and moved closer.

"Leave me alone," Nathan backed up.

"I don't think you understand. I'm not here to kill you. I'm here to show you the way."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Nathan, Nathan. We never intended for you to be left alone for so long."

He fell back on his bed and let out a cry.

"Aren't you tired of this?" The shadow waved a hand taking in the surroundings and sat down on the bed near his feet. "Come with me. We were never meant for the light. We are creatures of darkness. Why do you think as the sun sets you feel more alive? Why do you stay indoors during the day, but at night you roam through the darkness without a care?"

His breath came in gasps and he shut his eyes. "No. It's not the same. The shadows here are different."

"Of course we are. We are restless. I have been trapped in this room for nearly a hundred years by a ward someone set up. Imagine my surprise when someone showed up who could release me."

The shadow placed a hand on his leg. The pain lacing his back dissipated with a pleasant chill.

"Close your eyes and relax."

Nathan leaned back closing his tired eyes. The voice drifted in his thoughts.

"We are of the shadows. We are the shadows. The shadows are in us. And now we begin our training. We are the bogeymen. We are the shivers they feel down their spines."

That night after the headmaster walked through the rooms and made sure all of the boys were in bed, Nathan slipped out into the shadows. He watched the headmaster climb into bed. And for the first time at school, he smiled.

"Come out, come out, wherever you are."