short stories

Want to get your work published?

Last October my dear friend, and fellow author, Chantell Renee and I compiled a collection of 21 horror stories from seven authors.  It was a lot of hard work, but even more fun.  Many of the authors have been highlighted in my 20 Questions series, and you can check out pics from the release party here.

Now we’re working on our next anthology entitled Hair Raising Tales of Villainous Confessions-and we know that you’re interested in joining in on the fun and become a published author yourself.

I’m looking to publish early 2018-which means I’ll have to have your short story/poem/flash fiction by September 11, 2017 emailed to madgirlspublishing@gmail.com

Still interested?  Then read the rest of the info below-

Looking for authors that like to write about the dark side.

Submit your work to Mad Girl’s Publishing for the upcoming Hair Raising Tales of Villainous Confessions

1. All stories/flash fiction/poems must be from the perspective of a ‘villain’ They can be from a fairy tale, from another universe, or your old boss-as long as the story is told through a ‘villains’ perspective.

2. Feel free to choose if the villain is found in any way redeemable.

3. This short story (5000 words max)
/flash fiction (800 words max)/
poem (1200 words max) can be previously published or simultaneously published (as long as you also promote the anthology otherwise what’s the point).

4. You the author keep all rights to your work therefore it must be an original piece.

5. This is something I’m doing more for fun then for the $ therefore I don’t have any funds to pay you for the publication. But your piece will be professionally edited and as you know I love to promote my work and go to many events to sell such anthologies which will promote you and your work. (pretty much check out the first Hair Raising Tales and you can see that we proudly highlighted all of our authors).

6. This will only be an e-book. As I said I’m doing this for fun and I don’t have that much fun formatting therefore I’m only gonna do an e-book (but hey it will save a forest, right?)

7. Right now I’m shooting to release on Valentine’s Day.
Therefore I need all your pieces in by Monday September 11.
I’m going to approve all the pieces by Wednesday November 1 and expect any bio’s and pictures by Tuesday November 7.

So if that time frame doesn’t work out for you then you need to opt out now.

e-mail stories to madgirlspublishing@gmail.com by September 11, 2017

Scary Human Skull, Crying Blood
Scary human skull crying blood isolated on black background

 

20 Questions With..., pictures, short stories

20 Questions with Jas T. Ward

Maybe I’ve said it before, but I’m a real big fan of Jas T. Ward.  She is known for her romance but I love her shorter pieces.  A collection called ‘Bits and Pieces: Tales and Sonnets’ is by far my favorite, although Ward admits that some of the stories are ‘rejects’ I find them illuminating.

Ward has had literally and figuratively every punch thrown at her, and yet she comes back strong in her writing.  Her characters share her resilience, lust for life, and are truly unforgettable.  She has over eight titles available for you guys to check out, as well as a coloring book that lets you tap into your own artistic abilities.

Jas is a dear friend, and I’m proud to be one of her stalkers.  Now it’s time for you to hear from her….

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20 Questions with Jas T. Ward

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours? You may find this odd, but it was the children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit. Something about it pulls me in today. It has a low word count actually, but the emotions behind the words. Amazing. I wanted to do that. I wanted to put emotions behind the words, draw a picture without having to be artistic, and have people feel. With words.
  2. How old where you when you started writing? I wrote my first story when I was about 8 years old. Pictures and everything. I spent days gluing those notebook paper pages together. It was not a work of art. LOL. But I’ve always written and I don’t see that changing. Sure, the audience may change and the scope, but no. I’ll probably write my goodbye on my death bed.
  3. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with. Well, I’ve already met you and would love to have eats with you again. But four I haven’t met to share the meal. Hmmm… Amy Tan, Ken Follett, Penelope Reid and Colleen Hoover.
  4. What would you eat? Has to be a Chinese food with huge trays of food made for the masses. I think you can tell a lot about what choices creative people when it comes to a selection of food. For me? Sushi, dumplings and coconut shrimp. Oh, and spring rolls. 🙂
  5. How do you plot out your work? I don’t. I have tried to use all the tactics – outline, story boarding. But none of it worked. Or it just went unused. The only two things I do is know my beginning and my ending. Then, the challenge is to make them meet up with what ever flows in the middle. Otherwise, I just start writing without a clue how that’s going to happen.
  6. Do you write in the morning or evening? I am inconsistent as all get-out. Some days it’s one and other days it’s the other. I think it has to do with my brain just goes on overdrive without warning. It’s a curse and a blessing so I’m not complaining.
  7. Is there music on? Not usually. I do have a movie or TV playing as white noise for the side of my nature that balks at having to write. But every now and then there is a soundtrack needed and when there is, it’s usually Linkin Park.
  8. What inspired your last story? That’s a complicated question to answer. My upcoming book releasing 06/13 – Soul Bound: The Warrior was inspired by real life events of my own. Some dark tragedy and loss. I still can’t really talk about it personally, but I was able to tap into it to write this fictional story. I see that as progress and it actually brought about some closure. Though I’m not really sure I’ll ever completely have that. But it’s nice to know I can go there… if only a little bit.
  9. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them. Oh wow, that’s a toughie… hmm. Any of the Pillars of the Earth books by Ken Follett. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan and The Dark Tower by Stephen King.
  10. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well? I was just having this conversation with a author friend of mine. I don’t know if you or any of your followers remember a show called ‘The Red Shoe Diaries’, but that show was amazing in how it told a different story every week from the view of one man reflecting on love. Another one that I think is incredibly well written and produced is ‘The Story of Us’. Also, the limited series ‘Big Little Lies’ was AMAZING. It needs every award there is for acting, directing and story. Movies? I love big budget movies. Deadpool was genius. Different, a thrill ride, dark elements and sex. It remembered me of my books. 😀
  11. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece? My reader club had this discussion. They all saw a younger Gerard Butler when discussing Jace Camden from Soul Bound. Brooding and intense with a soul you wanted to know, but it wasn’t going to be easy.
  12. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write? Soul Bound, without a doubt. It was just so personal. And there’s some scenes in the book that are not fiction. They happened. I’ll leave it up to the readers to decide which.
  13. Which was the easiest? Partly because his foundation had already been solidified in the first books of the series but also because he was just so much fun to step into the skin of. I had a lot of fun writing that book even though it was a paranormal, thriler book. Jess Bailey is something else.
  14. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it? Madness, pretty much. The main character, Reno is so flawed. But he’s so good natured with a big heart. And mental special – he has a split personality and a much darker side. And he’s driven from forces beyond his control, literally and figuratively. I think the people that have gotten to know me, know I’m the same in a lot of ways.
  15. What are you working on now? Now that Soul Bound is at the formatting stage, I’m working on another ‘Romance – The Ward Way’ titled – ‘A Little Pill Called Love’. Which means it’s quirky, fun, has some love and intimacy but some series twists in it, but also takes on social issues in a background way. The reader goes in and realizes they learned something or found something in themselves without it being preached or lectured about within the pages. The characters took them there without even realizing it. This book will deal with severe bi-polar disorder and love.unnamed-2
  16. What story do you have to write before you die? My own. And considering how slow it is getting it out and on paper, I better live a LONG time. But I think I’m getting closer to being able to it. Soul Bound proved I could go there. I just hope it continues.
  17. What’s your best fan story? Ah, I have so many. The readers are amazing and how they have come to love the characters, many who have actual, interacting profiles on social media thanks to people who wanted to fan-fic/role play them, they love them even more. But I made the mistake of killing off Reno. And meant for it to be for good. Bad idea… They went ballistic! They sent me hate mail and inboxes of anger. They went on my wall and posted the meanest memes. Some they even created of “Bring Our Candyman Back!” And others threatened to boycott me and my books. Heck, there was a petition started with thousands of signatures. I was FLOORED. But, due to that love the Shadow-Keepers series was born and I am so grateful for that. I think that’s when I realized that not only are the voices of our characters rattling in our heads real to us in a way, they are also the same for our readers. It’s something we should always keep in mind. We want our readers to believe the escape we’re giving them—and the people that live there.
  18. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style? .. that’s a hard one and I would probably spend days in all my books to find the very best one. I think, if I have to have one sentence it would be – Don’t judge me or the world I’m showing you until the ride is over. Then, you’ll understand. If not, sorry, no refunds. 🙂
  19. Have you ever based characters off of real people? Not yet. But when I write my real story? Oh yeah, They’re in there.
  20. Who’s your favorite character? Easy and the fans would revolt if I didn’t say it – Reno Sundown. I love that character so much. My inner child given life. As a hot badass doesn’t hurt.

 

You can find out more about the author on their Facebook Author Page-Jas T Ward and purchase their work from Amazon.

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20 Questions With..., pictures, short stories, Uncategorized

20 Questions with Jessica Raney

I know a lot authors, but Jessica Raney was the first in which I was the published her work.  So keep in mind no matter how many rejections one might get, there will be someone who appreciates your work, and wants to give you the ability to share your voice.  It was my pleasure to be that springboard for Jessica.

 In the anthology ‘Hair Raising Tales of Horror’ compiled by myself and Chantell Renee we were excited in include Jessica’s pieces (including my favorite The Middle Part which although horrifying is perfect for Valentines Day).

She’s accomplished in her own right long before she met me, including BFE Podcast in which she, along with two friends, interview interesting people (including myself and Chantell during The Amazing Comic Con which you can listen to here.)

Jessica reading a section of her piece Cold Comfort from ‘Hair Raising Tales of Horror’

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And now for Twenty Questions With… Jessica Raney

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?

Hmm…well I feel like I’ve been writing and reading forever so it’s difficult to decide which book, but I probably have to go with “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell. I read it when I was in 4th grade, which is waaaay too young for that, but I was highly unsupervised as a child. The good news is it’s a pretty tame book. The bad news is it led me to read a follow-up book that I found in my mom’s closet that promised, “In the spirit of GWTW,” called “Sweet Savage Love” by Rosemary Rodgers. It was not so tame and yeah…that made me want to be a writer too. In addition, to find sweet, savage love with a scoundrel on a cattle drive across the American Frontier.

 

  1. How old where you when you started writing?

Really young. Probably 7 or 8. I wrote a short story called “King Bong and Rose” which is a delightful tale about a crappy king who taxes the hell out of his people until a girl named Rose uses magic to threaten him with harm unless he adopts a more sensible economic strategy. I also wrote a play called “The Passing of a Pork Rind King” about a dude who builds a pork rind empire and is murdered in a washing machine. Go figure.

 

  1. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with.

Neil Gaimen, Chuck Palahniuk, Margaret Atwood, and Beverly Cleary

 

  1. What would you eat?

Whatever Beverly Cleary wanted.

 

  1. How do you plot out your work?

Notebooks, diagrams, list upon lists upon lists. Then I toss them all and just write. I wish I were more organized about it but, meh.

 

  1. Do you write in the morning or evening?

Usually in the evening, but sometime all day if I have the time. One of my favorite tricks is to set a timer, write for 20 minutes, and then go do something like clean for 20 minutes. I get a good groove on and words just seem to flow better. Also, things get cleaned, like WHOAH.

 

  1. Is there music on?

Nope. I prefer silence.

 

  1. What inspired your last story?

I think the last one I wrote was “Moonlight Serenade.” I was on a trip to New Orleans and I saw a for rent sign in the French Quarter. It advertised that the apartment was haunted so the story is an answer to the question, who wants a haunted apartment?

 

  1. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (A master of character and dialogue), Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (one of the most unique and brilliant spec fic books I’ve ever read), and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (No reason needed)

 

  1. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well?

Game of Thrones is amazingly well written and produced. Anyone who can trim GRR Martin down into manageable TV is a great writer. Parks and Recreation was one of the most brilliant TV shows of all time. For movies, I think Stardust is amazing. It’s so good it makes me forget I always want to punch Claire Danes. For albums, I would say Rumors by Fleetwood Mac. Breakups and cocaine apparently make for genius songwriting.

 

  1. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece?

Most of my projects are short stories, but I am working on a zombie apocalypse novel. I don’t know whom I see as the main character, hopefully whoever replaces Jennifer Lawrence as badass/hottie/sensitive girl, but for the villain, I see Helen Mirren because I think Dame Helen Mirren with a machete would be quite something to behold.

 

  1. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write?

I have a short story called “To Stray From the Path” that is a take on a fairy tale that was hard to write. The first draft veered pretty far away from what I intended because I was caught up in sensory descriptions. As a result, I lost the point of the story. I fixed it but it was tough. Revising anything is always a pain.

 

  1. Which was the easiest?

“The Middle Part” just sort of plurpted out. I knew exactly what to write and how to mess up the order of events. I did have revision help from my loyal beta readers so that helped but I pretty much got it right the first time.

 

  1. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it?

I’ve had people tell me that “Cold Comfort” freaked them out and they were wigged when their cat jumped in bed with them, so I would call that one a success.

  1. What are you working on now?

I’m working on a vampire comedy about the least suave and debonair vampire of all time. I hope that by this time I also have a short story collection about various horrific love stories complete.

 

  1. What story do you have to write before you die?

I’m going to finish an epic vampire series before I die. And if I don’t, I’m going need a vampire to bite me and give me immortality so I can finish it. I hope that it’s a cool vampire. Not that gross Nosforatu dude or that sparkly douche from Twilight. Like Eric Northman or Pam. Yeah…Pam.

 

  1. What’s your best fan story?

Do I have fans? I don’t know about that but I can tell you that the first book you ever sign for someone is a trip.

 

  1. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style?

“You’re never going to finish that puzzle. Fat Larry ate the llama’s nose piece.”

 

  1. Have you ever based characters off real people?

Absolutely. However, I can’t go into details because I’m afraid they’ll want money.

 

  1. Who’s your favorite character?

Of mine? Hmm…probably the ghost in “Moonlight Serenade.” I admire tenacity and fabulous style.

 

 

You can find out more about the author on their blog Jessica Raney’s Blog and purchase her work ‘Hair Raising Tales of Horror’ from Amazon..

Scary Human Skull, Crying Blood
Scary human skull crying blood isolated on black background
pictures, short stories, Signing Events

‘Hair Raising Tales of Horror’ release party

In early August 2016 my dear friend Chantell Renee, a fellow hairstylist and award winning writer, decided to create an anthology of short stories that were truly terrifying.  That day over tacos at Torchy’s in the Heights we planned to have the collection ready in time for Halloween.  Considering I’d just taken a position at a new salon, Chantell was opening her own place to cut hair, and I would be out of town the first two weeks of September…we kicked some ass by getting this collection out.

We asked out friends who also write horror if they’d be interested in joining us.  Thankfully 5 authors agreed.  Even better their stories were amazing.  We held a party at the Wilde Collection in the Heights, which is an amazing venue, and friends gathered with us to celebrate our joint accomplishment.

All seven authors read a selection from their included work.  Chantell was having trouble reading hers, she says that’s what happens when you’re over 40, so I took over for her.

You can see the video of me reading my award winning piece ‘Hair Dying’ on my Facebook author page.

There were lots of dead things to take pictures with, including Jack Skellington.

I’d like to take this time to thank all the contributors, readers, friends, and of course Chantell Renee because without all of you this collection of 21 horrifying short stories from 7 local authors wouldn’t be available for purchase on Amazon or on my Amazon Author page.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy to ‘Hair Raising Tales of Horror’ and leave an honest review once you’re done!

 

novel, pictures, short stories, Signing Events

Amazing Comic Con 2016 Pictures

Let’s just say that the highlight of Amazing Houston Comic Con was that I did a podcast for bfe podcast.

Basically incredible because I got real for the interview.

Also terrifying because I got real for the interview.

It should drop on Monday September 12…so be sure to check out bfe podcast

 

 

It is always a joy when I meet someone that loves my work, therefore it’s awesome when I can find a new reader.

 

Without each of them I wouldn’t keep writing, much less get to do all the cool things I get to do on a regular basis.  Like meeting cool people…

It’s always a pleasure to do these events with good friends, like D. Marie Prokop and Chantell Renee, and by making new ones.

It was a pleasure meeting everyone!  Thanks to everyone that is so supportive of me-love to all of you.  This month has been a wild ride-later I plan on posting some pictures from my vacation back home on the east coast.

 Please remember to leave an honest review on Amazon and Goodreads of anything you ever read-especially my work.

pictures, short stories

‘The End’-short story

Yesterday at the salon I had the pleasure of meeting a middle school English teacher.  She told me that she spent most of her time reading books that were written for her students age group, but she found it difficult to find something that would enthrall them, yet every parent would find appropriate for their children.

I told her about my first YA short story, which coincidentally was my first take on sci-fi. I did remove a curse word, and a line about hookers before I sent it to her, but you can read the unaltered story in the anthology Eclectically Vegas, Baby from Inklings Publishing which you can find along with my other works here.

The email to the teacher, with some amazing blonde highlights, was just sent out.  But, if you don’t happen to be in her class you can read my story below.

 

 

The End

By Melissa Algood

I was ten when most of the human race was wiped from the planet. For a while it was just Dad and me. Then winter came, and never went away. We shared the last can of beef stew on my eleventh birthday, then left the southern shores of Washington.

Forever.

The frozen rain pounded our frail bodies, until we found an abandoned rust covered 2020 Chevy on the feeder of the highway. Dad said it would be good luck since it was made the same year I was born. He had me watch as he pulled some wires from under the steering wheel, twisted the red and yellow wires, and the truck started to roar. Dad smiled at me and headed south.   My voice turned into a howl as it was ravaged by the wind. Our powerful enemy, sleet, poured in through the window Dad broke.

“How much farther?”

Dad turned to me. Ice coated his auburn beard. “We’re heading to Mexico.”

“Yeah, but how far is that?”

“Didn’t you learn that in school?”

I recalled school. My buddies and I would sit in the back of class shooting spit balls at the teacher and have pizza eating contests at lunch. I didn’t remember what potato chips tasted like, much less what a map of Mexico looked like before everyone died. “Maybe?”

“Well, we’re in Oregon. So…” His gloved hands gripped the steering wheel of the truck we’d stolen. Maybe it wasn’t really stealing, since the owner had died. Dad cast his dark irises on the lonely road ahead of us. It was a look I’d never seen until it was only the two of us. I didn’t have a word to define his expression. The endless search for a way to describe the sadness in his eyes made me wish I’d paid more attention in language arts class.

A few weeks after the Chevy ran out of gas and we couldn’t find any more we started walking. According to Dad, we were atop Summer Lake when we met John who looked as haggard and worn as Dad’s cough. I couldn’t remember when Dad’s lungs started to expel a thick yellow substance with black dots intermingled with the phlem, but it had kept him from sleeping by the time we added to our family. As time went on I found out how important grown-ups jobs were before everything went away. John promised to get us across the mountains. After all he was a sports medicine major and avid rock climber. We should’ve made sure he meant both of us to Nevada alive.

Dad’s face had turned white as flour when we were halfway down. “How much longer, John?”

Our guide stopped and looked over his shoulder. “We’ll be there by nightfall, Hank.” His light eyes scanned Dad, “You need to take a break?”

“No. I can’t spend another night on this rock.”

John nodded and headed South East, but I held back with Dad. “You okay?”

“Don’t worry about me. It’ll all be over soon.”

The few beams of light that came from the sky were extinguished, and we still had a few more hours. “We gotta make camp,” John said.

“No, keep going.”

“But you can’t…”

Dad’s voice turned into a growl. “You have to keep going.” He turned to me. “Take this.” He unzipped his coat.

“No way, you need it.”

“No. I don’t.” He pulled what was once a bright yellow down coat over my own. “These too.” He opened up the knapsack that hung over his boney shoulder, and handed me three hardback novels that had been tied together with twine. They were all by George Orwell, my namesake. I could recall faintly my mother’s sing-song voice as she told me that only an English professor would name all his children after authors. I didn’t know what she meant. Maybe it’s because I never had the chance to read Ray Bradbury and Emily Brontë.

“Dad, you don’t have to…”

His index finger glided along the side of my face. It is still the coldest thing I’ve ever felt. A gust of wind filled the space between us and he clung to a rock on the side of the mountain. He buried his face in his hands. “George…”

“What?” I bent my knees so our faces were level. His empty eyes were glassy and half closed. “Dad?” I shook him by his shoulders. “Dad!” A thin line of red dripped from his nose.

“We need to go,” John said.

I shook my head. My brain shattered like glass. “We’ll go when he wakes up.”

John pulled me up by my arm, dark hair stuck to his forehead. “It’s what he wanted. You have to live, kid.”

Dad’s face was blue, or at least the color of the Pacific Ocean that I remembered as a kid. Maybe he could still hear me? I knew I’d never get to speak to him again, so I should take advantage of our last moments. I’d already said ‘goodbye’ to everyone I ever loved, I couldn’t do it again. My eyes were dry when I took the rope from my Dad’s hand. John unhooked him, and intertwined the rope with mine. John and I continued to repel down the mountain. We all knew it was the end.

John and I made it to Vegas three years later, shortly after I’d turned sixteen. At least, I thought I was sixteen. It had been impossible to gauge time since the sun had been blocked out by an endless haze all these years. Apparently Vegas used to be a pretty lively place. Now it was only the two of us.

John extended his left arm. His black leather-gloved hand pointed at a structure covered in snow, ice, and sludge. It had a square base and shot up into the gray sky like an arrow. “See that?”

“Yeah,” I muttered, not finding it entirely impressive.

He looked over at me and steam rushed out of his mouth with his words. “That’s as close as you’ll ever come to the Eiffel Tower.”

“What’s that?”

He threw his head back and laughed. “Seriously? You don’t know what that is, kid?”

“I was in the fourth grade…when it all…you know.”

More to the wind then to me, John said, “Forgot about that.”

“I didn’t get to graduate college like you.”

“Technically I was eighteen credits shy, but who’s counting anymore?”

“So, what was it anyway? The tower?”

“I don’t really know what it did, if anything, but that’s not even the real one. That’s a replica.”

I racked my limited vocabulary attempting to pinpoint the meaning of this new word. “What’s a replica?”

“It’s a copy of something. See the real Eiffel Tower is in Paris, but they built another one here. I guess it’s because only rich people come to Vegas or Paris.”

“Did you ever come here? Before?”

“When I was your age, with my parents, so I couldn’t have any fun.” He punched me in the arm which made me feel ten again. For a moment I was back with my friends, and I could feel the sun on my skin. “Maybe I was younger, I didn’t have a full beard like you, kid.”

I rubbed my own chin. My cotton gloves pulled on the coarse hairs that grew along my jaw. I wondered if it was the same color as my Dad’s. I had yet to find a mirror void of a thick film of ash and ice. It would be awkward to ask John. Besides Dad was pretty much dead already when they met, how could I ask him to compare us? “What do you mean you couldn’t have any fun?”

“It used to be a city built for adults, and all their vices.”

“Vices?”

He stopped in the middle of the road and rested his hands on my shoulders. “It’s like this, kid. We’re walking on something they called the strip. It had a bunch of casinos, and whatever else you wanted to help forget about the life you were living.”

My eyes crisscrossed the buildings blanketed in snow that had turned the same eerie color as the sky. They were so tall I didn’t know if we were still walking on the Earth, or if we were really dead, and walking in the atmosphere. My older sister once told me that hell was hot, but maybe she was wrong, and it was so cold that the blood in your body turned into icicles. If there was ever a time for escape, it was now. I would have given anything just to have another minute of life: belly full, showers in hot water, my parents kissing me goodnight. I couldn’t think of an instance when I would have chosen to avoid what I had, when all I could do now was hold on to the few memories left in my brain.

I’d do anything to see leaves rustling in the summer breeze above me. Instead I found myself surrounded by desolate gray, haunted by everything I’d never know, like love. All I’d ever know was death.

“Tell me what your girlfriend was like again.”

“Jessica….” He sighed and looked down at the ground before he turned his light eyes back to mine. “She was hilarious, and an amazing cook. She made like lasagna.” He licked his lips. “I promise you, right here, right now, I will find you a cute teenage girl if it’s the last thing I do.”

He’d made comments like this before. Yet in the years we’d traveled as a pair, we’d

never come across another soul. I’d lost hope that I’d never get another kiss from a girl like Jenna who snuck behind the gym with me. Her lips tasted better than strawberry ice cream and made my body feel like I was on a roller coaster. For some reason the lack of girls made me think of something my brother always said, ‘Ignorance is bliss.’ My gaze turned back to the buildings surrounding us. “Right now I’d be happy if I could get something to eat.”

John tilted his head to the nearest building with the least amount of ice covering the front. We each took the pick axes that hung from the sides of our packs and hammered the sheet of frozen water that encased our shelter. I don’t know if it took minutes, hours, or years; but I was exhausted once we broke through and hobbled inside.

The inside looked like every other building I’d broken into. Torn up. As I gazed about the still space I recalled when Mom would ask ‘Another tornado run through your room, George?’. I didn’t find it funny then- although it always made Dad laugh- I still didn’t. The only tornado I’d ever seen was the one in The Wizard of Oz. That had been so long ago I couldn’t tell you why she was walking down that yellow brick road, even if you offered me a bacon cheeseburger with French fries. But there was something in the room that made me forget all about Mom’s smile and fried food.

The ceiling.

John nudged me with his elbow and held up the kerosene lamp to cast more light above us. “Pretty cool, huh, kid?”

People covered the dome that my eyes scanned the ceiling above us. I assumed it was paint since I couldn’t touch it, but it had every color I remembered from before the sky clouded over forever. And more. Babies with rosy cheeks, wings, and harps. Women in pastel flowing robes, their long wavy hair floating behind them. Men with long beards that reminded me of Dad. The robins egg blue was a beautiful contrast against the puffy white clouds that resembled whip cream.

“It’s…it’s…” Again I couldn’t find the appropriate word, and just for a moment I felt a loosening in my chest. As if I’d been holding my breath ever since my family, along with everyone else I ever knew, had died.

John’s face sagged. It was like he’d aged twenty years since I’d met him.   “It’s nice to see, but I don’t even know if there’s a point anymore.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, that’s not gonna feed us.” He nodded his head up at the mural. “Or start a fire. I don’t even know who they’re supposed to be. Maybe they were once really famous people, but no one knows who they are anymore. So, what’s the point of even seeing it?”

I thought about the fact that John might die before me, and then I’d really be alone. As a kid I dreamed that I was the only person left and had the opportunity to eat all the candy I wanted, drive any car throughout the streets, and of course no school. Once John was gone I’d be living a nightmare. He never talked about his time alone before he met Dad and me, which made me believe that it wasn’t great. “We don’t know who they are, but it is still important. I’m glad I saw it.”

“Why?”

“It means we’re still alive.”

John shot a smile at me. “You know the girls aren’t gonna come to life when you’re asleep, kid.”

Maybe I blushed. I used to do that whenever I was embarrassed, but I hadn’t thawed yet. “I’ll take anything that will keep my mind off…all this.” I gazed about the wreckage of the hotel lobby.

“You know the drill, kid.”

I nodded. He started pulling all the wooden furniture to the center of the lobby and broke it down with his axe. I filled the pot that I retrieved from my backpack with snow, then took out my own axe, and helped John. The hotel bar took up a whole wall, to the left of a reception desk, which held a half dozen useless computers. Several dozen match books, which were akin to diamonds in the apocalypse, filled up a fishbowl atop the bar. But not a drop of alcohol.

“Agh!” John slammed his hand against a lever that once dispensed beer. “I guess he figured if he was going out, he’d go out wasted.” His boot kicked the lone skeleton with frayed rags clingling to its bones. They must have been the last person alive since it hadn’t been dragged to the edge of town and burned with the rest of the charred bodies.

“Maybe there’s some in one of those little fridges.”

“Little, what?”

“You know, the ones that are in each room, with all the really good candy in them?” Whenever my family went to a hotel us kids were expressly forbidden to open them, much less consume its contents. But the idea of dying without ever having a beer depressed me. I’d already missed so much of what many teenagers experienced; didn’t want to miss out on what adults did too.

“You’re smarter than you look, kid. Let’s eat first, though.”

After the snow came to a boil I held a cloth over our thermoses. John slowly poured the liquid, over the cloth, as we both attempted to keep our faces free from the steam. It felt great letting it surround your whole face, but steam could burn worse than boiling water. At least according to John. He took the thinnest rabbit in existence out of his pack, and I skinned it. We each took our share and let it cook in our thermos before we indulged in rabbit stew.

In my sixteen years it was the best thing I’d ever cooked.

After John gulped his last bit of rabbit he said, “You wanna check out the rooms now, kid?”

I nodded and threw my bag over my shoulders. I never left it alone. Not only because I might find something that I’d want to take with me, like food, but because it held the books Dad gave to me before he died. I had yet to untie them from the twine Dad had wrapped around them, but they never left my side.

“Where should we start, kid?”

“The bottom floors are probably already cleaned out.”

“Wanna try 27? Since that’s how old I am. I think.”

I nodded. Happy to know that I wasn’t the only man left on Earth who didn’t know what year it was anymore. “Then we gotta try 16 too.”

“Anything you want. Just stick by my side.”

“Yeah,” I laughed. At least that’s what it felt like even though the sound was deep and raw. “Don’t want to lose your only friend in the world.”

John’s large sea glass colored eyes faltered. He gazed at me, but then again his eyes were blank. It was as if he saw everyone that he’d lost in me, just like I saw everyone who died in him. “I’ll never lose you, George. Never.”

He’d only ever called me my real name a few times. When he said ‘George’ it took away all my pain and replaced it with something else I couldn’t name. I didn’t know how to answer, so I just nodded.

After tearing our lungs apart climbing up all those stairs, we were both pretty pissed when there wasn’t anything to drink on the twenty seventh floor. The sixteenth floor held more luck. The third room we came to had the wine.

John handed me a bottle the length of my hand. “Would have preferred vodka, but you know what they say about beggars, kid?”

I twisted it open, sniffed it, and threw my head back. It tasted thick, like syrup, but it didn’t taste sweet at all.

“Whoa, kid. Take it slow. You’re not used to the stuff.”

I swallowed the last drop from my bottle and shrugged.

“Want another?” I nodded and he handed me a bottle. “Let’s save the last couple, you think?”

“I bet we can find more.”

“I’ll take that bet.”

It was four more rooms before we cheered with joy again.

We returned downstairs to the lobby because we could build another fire, and we knew where the exit was. I leaned against my backpack and finished off another tiny bottle of wine. Head spun. Body numb. Like when I would go on a roller coaster with my brother. “I feel…weird…”

John laughed. “That’s called drunk, kid.”

“Feels pretty good.”

“Try and remember that tomorrow morning.”

“What happens tomorrow?”

The light from the fire brought a lively glow to John’s face. “You’ll see.”

It wasn’t long after that my eyelids became heavier than stone. With my backpack as a pillow I curled up and fell asleep. But I didn’t dream. I saw nothing but endless darkness whenever I closed my eyes.

That night I felt something on my hand though. It was warm and wet. The sensation made me slowly open my eyes. Its coat was jet black and shone against the light behind it. The light was bright, almost like the sun, and it nearly blinded me. When my eyes came into focus and saw the creature next to me I screamed. The animal’s eyes were black as coal, tongue pink like my sister’s ballet costume, and a tail that wagged quickly. I didn’t scream because it was scary, but because it had been so long since I’d seen one.

John bolted upright. He pulled me up off the floor with him as I screamed. He pulled me back against the reception desk we’d dismembered earlier, my leg caught on my bag, and scattered the contents in front of the dog. John stood in front of me and raised the kerosene lamp when he called out, “Are you alone?”

A woman’s voice came from one of the flashlight beams. “Are you?”

“Asked you first.”

I could hear the girl breathing. It was quick and harsh as if she’d just ran a mile. “Yes.”

“How long?” John asked.

“Few years. What about you?”

John’s hand gripped tighter around my shoulder before he said. “Been the two of us, for a while now.”

“What did you do with our dog?”

“Nothing, he’s here,” John said.

“I heard a scream.”

“Your dog woke us up. Call him if you don’t believe me.”

Another softer voice sang out from another flashlight, “Lucky!” The black lab turned back toward the girls and darted off toward them.

A few moments passed filled with girl-whispers before John asked. “How’d you get here?”

“Walked. Hoping it would be warmer. You?”

“Same, from Seattle.”

“We’re from Detroit.”

“So what’s your name?”

The older girl lowered her flashlight from our faces and cast the light on her own. Her dark hair hung past her shoulders. She wore a scarf and hat tucked into her parka and hood. Her lips were pale and matched the rest of her face, as if she’d been drained of life. When they parted she said, “Anne.”

He lowered the kerosene lamp to the side and said, “John.”

“Who’s your friend?”

John looked over at me and nodded. I turned to the first girl I’d seen in five years, “George.”

Anne had already maneuvered around the remains of our fire with Lucky on her heel. “This is my sister Brenda.”

Her long brown hair was in a single braid that lay on her right shoulder. The coat she wore was once red, it’s crimson glow still obvious underneath ash. She wasn’t close enough for me to be sure, but Brenda was just a few inches shorter than me. “How old are you, George?”

“Sixteen. You?”

“Fourteen.”

On our side John and Anne asked questions and answered in rapid succession. That’s how I found out that they were in a group, but their group had starved to death. Anne had just rushed a sorority when the Earth died along with the rest of her dreams. Lucky moved in circles around the four of us sniffing, and digging randomly at the floor.

Brenda’s gaze followed Lucky and stopped at my backpack. “Are those books?”

“Yeah.”

“Can you read them to me?” She gazed at me with eyes brighter than the Moon. “It’s been so long since anyone has.”

I turned to John who was telling Anne about his time in college. I figured if he felt safe, then I should too; I leaned against the wall and slid to the floor. Brenda handed the books to me. I took a deep breath and unwrapped the twine. “Which one did you want to read?”

“Which one is your favorite?”

I looked at the titles and not a single memory came forward. “I don’t…”

“How about this one?” She sat, legs crossed, on the other side of Lucky. “I always wanted to see a farm.”

I ran my finger along the skinny battered spine. “I’m pretty sure it doesn’t end happy. It’s just like everything else that’s left.”

“Well,” Brenda leaned in closer to me. “Let’s hope it does this time.”

The books weight in my hands calmed me. It reminded me of when Dad would read to me before I fell asleep. Brenda rested her head on my shoulder as I flipped past the title page and started from the beginning.

 

 

 

 

short stories, Signing Events, Uncategorized

Upcoming Selling Events

I apologize for not posting for so long, but I just started a new job thus have been working more at my salon than on my writing.

The good news is that my debut novel, the first in the Hale/Lock romantic thriller series  ‘Blood On The Potomac’ will be released May 21.  More details on the release party, the Facebook cover release party, and the publication of my latest short story ‘Even Aliens Watch Reality T.V.’ in the anthology ‘Eclectically Cosmic’ from Inklings Publishing will be upcoming.

But first I’d like to give you guys the details on my next two selling events.  I had the pleasure of attending Space City Comic Con last year, and I’m excited that not only will my novel ‘Blood On The Potomac’ be available there, but on Sunday May 29 I’ll be there in cosplay as Samantha Locke-the female protagonist of my novel.  It would be my pleasure to see you there and sign a copy of my book for you.

Space City Comic Con

                  NRG Convention Center

                  Houston TX

                  Friday noon to 8 pm

                  Saturday 10 am to 7 pm

                  Sunday 10 am to 6 pm

​              http://spacecitycomiccon.com/

 

It will be the first time I’m attending Comicpalooza, but I’m equally excited to have copies of my novel ‘Blood On The Potomac’ available.  On Sunday June 19 I’ll be there and it would be my amazing to see you there!

June 16 to 19  Comicpalooza

               George R Brown

               1001 Avenida de las Americas

               Houston TX

               Times to be announced

​               http://www.comicpalooza.com/

 

Both events are so much fun I encourage you to come out and see all the great local venders, along with a few superheros, at these events.

pictures, short stories, Uncategorized

Supernatural Convention

My first appearance of the year was amazing!  I attended the Supernatural Convention in Houston, Texas and had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful people.  Not only did I meet some people that were excited to meet the author me, but the character Charlie Bradbury that I cosplayed as.

Thank you to all the new readers I met, I hope that you enjoy reading the stories as much as I did writing them.  If you did buy a book then please write an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads.  You don’t know how much that means to an author.

 

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And for those of you that are fans of the television show ‘Supernatural’, especially those fans of Charlie then here are a few shots from the convention.  Including selfies from me when Jim Beaver (Bobby) and the famous Winchester brothers played by Jensen and Jared spoke on stage.

 

 

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short stories, Uncategorized

‘Reunion’ by Elizabeth Harris

This is a short story that I wrote under my pen name Elizabeth Harris, which is the name I use for my work that is less bloody.  Although it must be noted that ‘Reunion’ does include some violence and profanity thus it is not intended for readers younger than thirteen.

Elizabeth Harris’ poem ‘Darkness’ is published in the collection ‘IN THE QUESTIONS’ from Spider Road Press.  I highly recommend you check them out not only for their excellent publications, but because they donate a portion of their proceeds to charity.

‘Reunion’ is a story that I did submit for a contest, although I have yet to find out the results, I find it to be one of my favorites.  It’s the story of a woman who’s lost everything, and how she’s picked up the pieces since.  I hope you find it as heart wrenching, yet tender as I intended.  Enjoy-

 

Continue reading “‘Reunion’ by Elizabeth Harris”

short stories, Uncategorized

Reading makes writing easier

I read all sorts of books, from all sorts of genres, not just the one I’m writing in.  Any author should do the same.  That’s why I’m so excited that my short story ‘The Trail’ was shared on a writing website in order to help authors improve their craft.

In journalism school we were taught that the average American has an eighth grade reading competency.  Don’t be average-read more.

Start by checking out Readers & Writers United where you can check out my short story ‘The Trail’ and the other amazing posts.

Storytellers live for their work to be read.  So feed a writer: read a book, then write an honest review.