novel, pictures, Signing Events

Comicpalooza Part 1

As usual I had the best time at Comicpalooza, and not just because I met Felicia Day (that will be another blog post all together) but because I got to see old friends, dress up, and meet new readers.

I love meeting readers and I hope that they love reading my work as much as I loved creating it-be sure to leave a review on Amazon, and THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH for supporting local/indie authors.

I also had the pleasure of picking up some reading material for myself including D.L. Young’s newest book ‘Indigo Dark Republic Book Two’  ‘Chrysalis and Clan’ by Jae Mazer (who I had the pleasure of sharing a table along with Chantell Renee and Jessica Raney) and ‘Soul Chambers’ by Paul Vader and Dominic Dames.

IMG_0969IMG_0947It was the most wonderful time of the year when I had the chance to go to Comicpalooza-I look forward to seeing you next year (I’m going to join a panel which I’ll talk more about later) until then here are some more pics of the amazing cosplay at Houston Comicpalooza 2017

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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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Contests, Flash Fiction, pictures, Signing Events

We can’t do it alone (women writers unite)

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As Women’s History Month is upon us I couldn’t help but think of all the women who’ve helped me through my writing career.

I’ll highlight some of them, but this by no means includes all of the powerful women that I’ve come across since I’ve joined the writing community.  They know who they are, even if I do carelessly forget to mention them, they will forever be a part of my life, and I’ll forever be grateful for you.

I’ll begin with ‘the dream team’ as we often call ourselves which includes Andrea BarbosaChantell Renee, and myself.  We’re all award winning authors, and have sometimes placed in the same contest thus giving us another opportunity to be together.  Throughout the years we’ve worked on anthologies together including ‘Hair Raising Tales of Horror’ that Chantell and I published together.

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Next of course would be Fern Brady who’s not only my publisher Inklings Publishing, sometime writing partner, but a dear friend.  Without her my debut romantic thriller Blood On The Potomac wouldn’t exist.  She helped shape me into the writer that has a fan page.

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Next is the amazingly talented Patricia Flaherty Pagan who founded Spider Road Press which has published work from all the before mentioned authors.  She’s a fantastic author in her own right, highly intelligent, and a highly dedicated mom.  Patty is not just a strong female writer, she’s a life goal achiever.

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Finally I’d like to highlight, Rebecca Nolan, an author I was a fan of before we worked together on my upcoming YA novel ‘Everything That Counts’.  She’s been an amazing mentor to me and has given me the drive to work harder than I ever have before.

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Thank you to all the female authors I know and love including Gay YellenPamela Fagan HutchinsCourtney Summers, and Taylor Stevens (only two of which I’ve had the pleasure of actually meeting.

Women everywhere need to stand together-that’s the only way we’ll make it in the end-if we support each other.  Let’s work on making this world better for the women of the future.

Don’t miss a chance to read these amazing women’s work-simply click on their name to check out some stories that will stay with you long after you put the book down.

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20 Questions With..., Uncategorized

20 Q’s with Judy Penz Sheluk

Most of the time I’m jaded, at the very least internally jaded (thank God for kitten videos).  I feel as if we life in a society in which we don’t look out for each other.  Women specifically.  Thankfully this woman proves me wrong.

Judy Penz Sheluk has a weekly blog on Monday’s in which she spotlights a new or emerging author’s release.  She also has ‘author talks’ in which our peers share their experiences in the hopes that we’ll learn from them.

If you’re looking for a mystery look no further than one of the many titles from Judy Penz Sheluk including ‘The Hanged Man’s Noose’ which made her an International Amazon Best Selling Author.

 

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And now Judy Pens Sheluk answers my 20 Questions…

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

There are two: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I read it when I was very young (about grade 4…resulted in me getting “accelerated to grade 6—thankfully schools don’t do that any longer) and thought…WOW, that’s how you paint a picture with words. Around the same time, I read the much-more age appropriate Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery (author of the Anne of Green Gables series). Emily was an aspiring journalist/writer in a time when women didn’t think of such things.

 

  1. How old where you when you started writing?

I’ve always written “in my head,” meaning as a kid I would walk to school and keep a story going in my head, and just keep adding to it every day. I thought everyone did that! Professionally, since 2003, which is when I left my day job as a Sales & Marketing Coordinator to become a freelance journalist. I started writing my first novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose on Christmas Eve 2011, but I’d had a hundred or more magazine articles and a handful of short stories published by then.

 

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

John Sandford, the absolute king of pacing. Stephen King, because, well…he’s Stephen King! Sue Grafton: I love her Kinsey Millhone series and have read every novel, A to X, plus her collection of short stories. Tana French, an Irish mystery writer who is just brilliant. I thought about inviting Truman Capote, but he’d get all sulky if it wasn’t all about him, and it couldn’t be, could it? Not with that cast of writers.

 

  1. What would you eat?

Pizza. My favorite food. It’s good for breakfast (cold), lunch or dinner. And everyone can get whatever toppings they’d want. I’d go straight cheese, no toppings.

 

  1. How do you plot out your work?

Plot out? What’s that? Seriously…I’m a complete panster. I come up with a basic premise, and then “what if” my way to the end.

 

  1. Do you write in the morning or evening?

Mornings are best, but I do jot down notes on paper in the evening or whenever the ideas come to me (I even have an LED pen that lights up so I don’t have to turn the bedside lamp on…). But, I still have a couple of editing day jobs, so sometimes the deadlines for those take precedence over my writing preferred time. But I do try to write every day.

  1. Is there music on?

If I’m writing the answers to this, yes. Either Country or Classic Rock or 80’s/90’s type “oldies” depending on my mood. But if I’m writing fiction, it has to be talk radio. Maybe it’s a holdover from when I worked in a noisy office and snuck writing time in whenever I could without getting caught!

 

  1. What inspired your last story?

I was in my lawyer’s office with my husband. We were there to update our wills, and he’d been delayed in court. I thought…what if I was hear to inherit …what if there were conditions to that inheritance…what if…and Skeletons was born.

 

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

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Need any more titles???? I have lots of book envy!

 

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

TV

American Crime, a network series, is very clever, though I preferred Season 1 to Season 2.

Breaking Bad. Better Call Saul. What can I say? Vince Gilligan. Can I invite him for pizza too? Please?

The Gilmore Girls. I’ve seen every episode a dozen times. Love Lauren Graham.

Parenthood. Never got the recognition it deserved. Did I mention that I love Lauren Graham? But the entire ensemble cast was terrific, and the writing was beautifully layered.

Movies

Too many to mention, though I recently saw Brooklyn and really enjoyed it. My all-time favorite is Primal Fear. Brilliant.

Albums

Anything by Blue Rodeo or Jim Cuddy. Listen to the words to Bulletproof. Listen to Cuddy (who is also the lead singer in Blue Rodeo) and tell me you didn’t shed a tear.

 

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

Whatever actor Hollywood says would be a good fit works for me! But when I think of Callie Barnstable from Skeletons, I think of someone like Jennifer Lawrence. Strong, but with a mix of naïve and jaded. Alexis Bledel would make a great Emily Garland (from The Hanged Man’s Noose).

 

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

I find short stories incredibly difficult to write. You’d think they’d be easier than a novel, but not for me. I started “Saturday with Bronwyn,” which is in The Whole She-Bang-3 (Sisters in Crime Toronto, Nov. 2016), about five years ago. After many stops and starts, I finally got it to gel. The fact that She-Bang was blind judged gave me hope…maybe some of my other stops and starts have a chance, too.

 

  1. Which was the easiest?

Another short story, “Live Free or Die.” It was “inspired” by an event (or should I say a man) that happened to me when I was 21. When I finally sat down to write that story, the words just flowed.

 

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

I’m hoping they get all of my stories…I actually don’t hear from a lot of readers. But Skeletons in the Attic seems to really resonate with folks. That said, some wish the ending were “tidier.” I deliberately left loose ends, not because I wanted to leave them for a sequel, but because life has loose ends.

 

  1. What are you working on now?

The sequel to The Hanged Man’s Noose. The sequel to Skeletons in the Attic. A short story…I’m usually working on more than one thing at a time. That way, if I get distracted or bored, I have another project to go to. It beats color-separating my paper clips or other diversionary tactics.

 

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

My mom died recently, and in her belongings were her and my father’s immigration papers from Nottingham, England to Canada. They came separately, arrived at different ports (Halifax and Quebec City), and married in Toronto. I want to write their love story. I’m not a romance writer, but I feel that Anneliese and Anton have a story to tell. I wish my mom had told me more…my dad died of cancer when I was quite young…but maybe it’s better this way.

 

  1. What’s your best fan story?

I met a couple of women at Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh. They had met Louise Penny when she was starting out. They told me they thought I’d be the next Louise Penny. A girl can dream…

 

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

Authenticity matters. (Arabella Carpenter, The Hanged Man’s Noose)

 

  1. Have you ever based characters off of real people?

Every character has elements of people I have known and/or observed, but there are always detours along the way. I’m a people-watcher…if you have a habit of pulling your earlobe when you’re nervous, that might get folded into a story one day. If you take the meringue off your lemon meringue pie and eat it last, that might make it in. I’m always looking for believable quirks.

 

  1. Who’s your favorite character?

Arabella Carpenter. She’s the sidekick in Noose, and has a small role in Skeletons. She’s the protagonist in the sequel to Noose that I’m working on now. She’s feisty, flawed, passionate, and loves cognac, chardonnay and cookies. She’s probably the most like me of any of my characters. But I also really like Callie Barnstable in Skeletons. Honestly, it’s hard to pick a favorite.

 

 

You can find out more about the author on her blog http://www.judypenzsheluk.com and purchase her work from all the usual suspects, including Amazon: http://getbook.at/SkeletonsintheAttic. You can also find Judy on Facebook (https/www.facebook.com/JudyPenzSheluk) and Twitter (@JudyPenzSheluk).

 

 

 

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An Amazon International Bestselling Author, Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose (Barking Rain Press), was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic (Imajin Books), the first book in her Marketville Mystery Series, was published in August 2016. Judy’s short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime, The Whole She-Bang 2, The Whole She-Bang 3, Flash and Bang and Live Free or Tri. Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

 

 

 

Everything That Counts, novel, pictures

A treat from ‘The Bakery Assistant’

A few days ago a friend came into the salon (I’m a hairstylist in ‘real’ life) and we were both discussing our works in progress.

I’ve been spending a lot of time with the latest undertaking ‘Wintergull Lane‘ which I’ve been pecking away at for NaNoWritMo (you can check out my progress here).  But she reminded me of another piece which I call my albatross.  ‘The Bakery Assistant’ is the story of the tragically broken Claire Fischer who is doomed to be a perpetual teenager until she meets someone that shows her that living life is worth it.  That’s the elevator pitch, but in actuality I’m projecting there to be a book two, ‘The Fighter’, which will conclude Claire Fischer’s story as far as I can tell…

Either way now that I’m doing the finishing touches for ‘Everything That Counts’ (take a peek at the novel here) so ‘The Bakery Assistant‘ will be on deck.  Until then here’s a morsel from chapter two of

 

        After I pulled the fresh loaves and rolls from the ovens, and passed them off to the day shift, we trekked three blocks to a corner diner that had been a destination appreciated by locals who loved ‘kitsch’. The waitress set a glossy menu in front of me, and Aaron. The booth only had room for two, but apparently not for two people that each hovered around six feet tall. As we situated ourselves like acrobats in the booth his knee hit mine.

“Sorry,” Aaron mumbled.

“It’s okay.”

His lone dimple winked at me. “Are you blushing?”

“No!”

He chuckled. “Well if you weren’t before then you are now.”

I concentrated on the paisley pattern on the bench Aaron sat on in the hopes it would cause the blood to evacuate from my cheeks.

“I’m starving,” he flipped open the picture laden menu.

“I thought it was just coffee.”

“You don’t mind do you? I’ll pay for you if you want.”

I shook my head and pressed my hands into my lap. “I’d prefer to pay for myself.”

“Okay.” His curly black hair, strong Roman God-like features including a jaw carved from marble, and delicious looking lips hid behind the menu again. I tilted my head down, reading the options, but continued to hold my posture as if I were attending a luncheon for beauty queens.   Before I could get past the first page of artery clogging items, Aaron sighed, and set his menu back down. “So what do I have to do to take you out on a real date, Claire?”

Apparently I didn’t need to eat anything before my heart stopped pumping blood.

“I’m serious.” He leaned back into the booth upholstered in retro paisley fabrics. The dozen booths were either bright orange, or avocado green, and each had a jukebox that you could feed and hear your song of choice. He’d picked ‘I Fall to Pieces’ the second we sat down, but it had only begun to play now. It made me wonder how long he’d planned this dinner.

“Should I get formal stationery, and mail you my official wish to take you on a date?” He took off his flannel lined, corduroy jacket, squeezed it between him and the rust colored wall the booth bench was anchored to. Then he folded his hands together underneath his chin.

Instead of answering I stared at the edge of a rosebush tattooed from mid-forearm to above the elbow. I couldn’t see his shoulder through his t-shirt, but I assumed it was decorated in the same pattern of permanent ink. Each red petal was outlined in black, while each individual rose was the size of the coffee cup in front of me that the waitress filled before she hurried to the next table. I knew there had to be a story behind the blossoming flowers bound together with dark green vines and thorns that adorned his perfectly tanned olive skin, but it didn’t feel right to ask. He dressed like a hipster with dark jeans, a gray shirt with the word ‘RIOT’ printed in bold black along his chest. A knit beanie that matched the ebony color of his hair so perfectly it was hard to tell where the material began and his curls ended.

Aaron tilted his head to the side. “Maybe you could give me your father’s number and I can ask him?”

“That would be difficult.” I hadn’t realized I’d spoken until the words had already escaped my mouth.

He leaned forward, and furrowed his brow. “Why?”

I don’t know why I told him the truth, considering only Edie and Mario knew exactly what happened. For the remainder of the meal it was as if I watched us interact from above, or in a movie. But there wasn’t an actress willing to play the most boring woman in D.C., and Dylan O’Brien refused to take the part of her love interest because he was too homely to impersonate Aaron. Thankfully I didn’t go into explicit detail during my out of body experience when I confessed.

“My father’s dead.”

 

From ‘The Bakery Assistant’ by Melissa Algood 

20 Questions With..., Uncategorized

20 Q’s with Jennifer Leeper

     Many authors surround me; although each of us does have different personalities (I mean we do hear voices but we’re completely normal people-swear it). I’m often surprised by how close we become after only meeting in person for a brief time.
     Jennifer Leeper is one of those authors. Both of us were privileged enough to be awarded for our pieces by Spider Road Press for their 2016 Flash Fiction Contest
     Our pieces might have been different, but I could see the glow coming through her as she spoke to me at the ceremony. It’s always amazing to see passion in another author’s eyes, the only thing better is seeing that look in a reader’s eyes.
     Her novella, along with my flash fiction piece ‘Thomas’, will be released in mid November in the collection Approaching Footsteps from Spider Road Press. The collection will also feature pieces by other award winning authors like Andrea Barbosa and Holly Walrath be sure to check out the latest from http://spiderroadpress.com

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20 Questions With…Jennifer Leeper

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?Wow, that’s a hard question to answer because I admire so many writers and so many authors have influenced my writing career, but I’ll narrow it down to Jack London for this interview. London was a constant seeker in his life and his art and I think this perpetual curiosity really shaped his writing. As an outdoor adventure junkie, I relate to him as a person, but as a writer still struggling to find my place in the literary universe, he is a strong touchstone for me.
  2. How old where you when you started writing? I started writing poetry around the age of 11 or 12. Fiction writing came later in high school.
  3. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with. Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, Tony Hillerman, and, of course, Jack London.
  4. What would you eat? In honor of Hemingway, we would drink Mojitos. For London, I would request Hawaiian Salad. Hemingway was a big fisherman, so maybe some trout to go with the salad and for Lewis, a Chocolate Water Cake.
  5. How do you plot out your work? Very roughly in my head and then I flesh it out on the page.
  6. Do you write in the morning or evening? I’m definitely a night owl so after dark seems to be my most productive time.
  7. Is there music on? No music, but definitely television. It’s my go-to source for white noise.
  8. What inspired your last story? A lot of my stories are born in my imagination and my last one was no different, but typically some experience subconsciously originates these stories, and much of the time I can see these experiences threaded through my pieces once they are finished. I adopted my son, and my last short story focused on adoption and my protagonist finding his “whole self” by finding his biological brother.
  9. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them. Elmer Gantry, The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and East of Eden
  10. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well? TV shows: Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire, Gilmore Girls, Parenthood, Felicity, Justified Movies: The Godfather, The Best Years of Our Lives, Dances with Wolves, The Revenant, The Deer Hunter, It Happened One Night; Taxi Driver Albums: Keane: Under the Iron Sea; Johnny Cash: At Folsom Prison; Kris Kristofferson: The Silver-Tongued Devil and I
  11. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece? Graham Greene
  12. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write? It’s always the one I’m currently writing. 😉
  13. Which was the easiest? The last one I finished. As a writer, it seems like everything looks easier in the rear view.
  14. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it? It’s funny because for me this is kind of a trick question as my readers always seems to have a different take on my works than I do. I’m still hoping for that “get” from a reader. 😉
  15. What are you working on now? I’m developing a crime/mystery novel that takes place on and off a Tohono O’odham reservation in southern Arizona.
  16. What story do you have to write before you die? I know a lot of writers shy away from writing about friends and family for fear of controversy, but I’ve always written about the foreign and exotic as it relates to my life, so for once I’d love to write about what and who I know intimately.
  17. What’s your best fan story? Probably my first longer work of fiction, Padre: The Narrowing Path. It seems to be the piece that engages fans the most.
  18. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style? This is more than one sentence, but for me as a writer, it’s one fluid thought that happens to be separated by punctuation, so here goes: He shook his head as he walked back toward the cave entrance. Maybe he wouldn’t let anyone else touch the body. It wouldn’t be right. He had killed the boy. He was a beat-up, old sicario, but he would move the body and bury the young man as he had always handled his bodies himself. (From The Reiger File)
  19. Have you ever based characters off of real people? Probably all of my characters are shaded with a degree of reality of the family and friends in my life, but in particular, I based a minor character in Padre: The Narrowing Path on a Catholic priest I know.
  20. Who’s your favorite character? That’s It’s like choosing a favorite among your children or pets. I’m really enjoying writing and getting to know Frank Acuna, the reservation detective’s character in The Poison of War, my in-progress project.

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You can find out more about the author on their website at  __Jennifer Leeper’s website on Twitter  purchase her work from Amazon, Barking Rain Press and coming on 11/18 to Spider Road Press.

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!

 

20 Questions With..., pictures

20 Q-Patricia Flaherty Pagan

She isn’t the first author in the Houston Writers Guild that I met, but she is arguably the most influential in my career.  I’ve been in three different critique circles with Patricia Flaherty Pagan, so she’s read my first stab at a novel, to giving me the idea to entirely re-write the chapter called ‘Truth or Truth’ in my debut romantic thriller Blood On The Potomac.  

Patty isn’t only an award winning author, she’s the founder of Spider Road Press a local feminist driven publishing house in Houston.  This fall my piece Thomas (which came in fourth place last year in the Spider Road Press Flash Fiction Contest) will be included in their collection Approaching Footsteps.  My poems ‘Darkness’ and ‘Snowfall’ (under the pen name Elizabeth Harris) are included in the collection In The Questions.   For video of me reading Thomas click here to view it on my Facebook author page.

 

As far as Spider Road Press I’m happy to announce that my flash fiction piece Blanquita was awarded third place in their 2016 Flash Fiction Contest.  The award ceremony, along with the Press’s birthday celebration will take place on August 18 in the arts district in Houston.  I’d love for you to join us for the readings, cake, and a little bubbly.

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Without Patricia I would have never written a flash fiction piece to begin with, but with her guidance and support it turns out I’m pretty good at it.  Although I’m no match for her visceral and visual pieces.  Thanks you for everything, Patty.

And now award winning author, amazing Mom, and kind leader Patricia Flaherty Pagan answers my 20 Questions…

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20 Questions with…

Patricia Flaherty Pagan

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

    The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is the book that awoke my imagination, and still one of my favorites of all time. But the book that made me think I could be a writer, and see myself doing it, is a book that I also read in fourth grade-The Diamond in the Window by Jane Langton. It was also magical, and fun, but took place in Concord, Mass, just three towns over from where I grew up. If she could write a good story about my area, then being a writer was a real job, that smart, real people could do.

  2. 2. How old where you when you started writing?

    Ten. But before that, I used to draw streets with several houses on them and imagine all the stories of the people who lived inside. My poor older sister Maryellen-she got to hear all the stories.

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

    We’d have to have lunch in writer’s heaven-which would surely have a good bar. Flannery O’Connor and Truman Capote, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Shirley Jackson. Do I have to stop there? If Edgar Allen Poe and Dorothy Parker could drop by for a “digestif,” that would be ideal. Because what’s a dinner party without Dorothy Parker?

  4. What would you eat?

    We would start with baked Brie and warm French bread, because all good things start with good cheese. Steak salad, strawberries and champagne.

  5. How do you plot out your work?

    I make notes and then a rough outline, but really I’m a midwife for my characters. They know the route. My characters tell me what they want to happen, and it never fits the outline.

  6. Do you write in the morning or evening?

    Writing in the morning is my preference, but with a toddler you write whenever the baby sleeps.

  7. Is there music on?

    Yes. I often play the same jazz and classic rock albums, in fact. Writing music should be interesting, but not too interesting, as then it could distract you.

  8. What inspired your last story?

    I am interested in voice and setting as a character; my stories often grow out of an interesting story and her “voice,” or a unique place I have visited. Recently I have been working on a story about quarantines on Roosevelt Island in New York and the characters and plot flow flowed from there. Roosevelt Island has a fascinating history of housing the “other” of New York and New Jersey-people struggling with mental illness, prisoners, and sick people. Yet Manhattan glitters right across the tram. And now parts of it are becoming trendy housing-right over where the other was held.

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

    Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Alison, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, In The Woods by Irish suspense writer Tana French, and all the short fiction collections by Joyce Carol Oates. She’s one of the best living American writers.

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

  10. Netflix’s Bloodline is an excellent TV thriller. Clever Man, a new Australian show with an unlikely Aboriginal hero and available on Sundance TV and iTunes, is fantastic-in all the senses of the word. And of course the brilliant The Wire, and Gilmore Girls, which a classic for rapid-fire dialogue. Regarding films: Thelma and Louise, Rear Window, In the Bedroom, Strangers on a Train, any Jane Campion film. I could go on… How much time do you have?
  11. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece?

    Tatianna Maslany from Orphan Black. She can play anyone with compassion and humor.

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

    I love mysteries-but they require an extra level of focus because all the clues have to tie together well at the end. No scene can be kept just because it has pretty words in it.

  13. Which was the easiest?

    “Blood-Red Geraniums” my tense little piece in Waves of Suspense, a fun read featuring work by several Houston authors. It’s won an award, but it was inspired by a summer job I had many years ago and an article I read about migrant workers in Texas, so it flowed.

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

    “Bargaining,” My award winning story about baby brokers and a desperate woman from my collection Trail Ways Pilgrims. Women have responded to the desperate woman’s moral, legal, and emotional dilemmas.

  15. What are you working on now?

    The Roosevelt Island piece, and a historical mystery short story set in Revolutionary Lexington and Concord.

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

    I am working on a story about a woman with mental illness and her neighbor, a flawed mother, who witness a murder and no one quite believes them. Because in American culture, how much weight do we give flawed women and women with medical problems?

  17. What’s your best fan story?

    A reader mentioned reading Trail Ways Pilgrims four times. That’s wonderful and humbling.

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

    “I neither missed nor carried” or “I redact.” They are both from my flash piece, “Rays Of Someday Almost.” It’s been published in The Pitkin Review and Trail Ways Pilgrims. I love short sentences with zing.

  19. Have you ever based characters off of real people?

    “Perhaps. But I’d never admit that here,” she said with a raised eyebrow and a grin.

  20. Who’s your favorite character?

    Meredith from my novel, Bleed She’s driven and sarcastic as hell, but tries to bring the truth to light.

 

 

You can find out more about the author on her website, http://patriciaflahertypagan.com. You can purchase her work from http://spiderroadpress.com/book-store/ and check out her work on Amazon author page, http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Flaherty-Pagan/e/B00LZY4VB4

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pictures

My reading of ‘Thomas’

I love all of my stories, but this one is pretty high up on my list.

‘Thomas’ was the first piece of flash fiction that I’ve written, and I was pleased when it won an honorable mention from Spider Road Press Flash Fiction Contest 2015.  Check out more of their great work-including my poem ‘Darkness’ here.

Four winning writers read their pieces, Kate read two of hers!
Four winning writers read their pieces, Kate read two of hers!

My piece ‘Thomas’ will be published by Spider Road Press in 2016, but you can watch the video of my reading here -it was my man’s first time filming via iPhone, so it is a little shaky.

Uncategorized

‘Thomas’-my first flash fiction piece

                                                          Thomas
Sometimes I dream of my hypothetical son.

Heʼll jump on the bed, wake his Dad and me proclaiming itʼs his sixth birthday. Iʼll brush his dark brown hair from his forehead, kiss his cheeks with skin that turns a perfect caramel color when heʼs out in the sun too long, and thank him for reminding me.

He will miraculously appear that very morning.

Iʼll make him a chocolate cake, from scratch, then pipe ʻThomasʼ in robinʼs egg blue icing. As it cools, my son and his Dad will play a game of catch in the backyard. Afterwards our son will run his sweaty finger along the side of the bright white mixing bowl, and heʼll giggle as he licks it clean.

Weʼll take him bowling, where heʼll score a 300, and the whole alley will sing ʻHappy Birthdayʼ to my son right before he blows out the candles on his cake.
There will be water balloon fights, which his Dad will win, then my son and I will turn the garden hose on him. My son will gaze in wonderment as a rainbow stretches across the yard. Heʼll run through the rush of lukewarm water in an attempt to catch it, and refuse to come inside until the sun goes down. When we tuck him in to sleep Iʼll stay and read to him, about the greatest wizard in all of England.
“Is there really magic, Mommy?” Heʼll ask.
Iʼll grin, and whisper to him, making it a secret between us. “Yes, Thomas. Thatʼs how you got here.

When he gets the flu, Iʼll sleep with him every night in the hopes the virus will use me as itʼs host, and not my beloved.

Heʼll hold my hand when weʼre out in public, and ask me to hold on tighter if we come across a snake. The cold, slimy, slithering reptiles will be his only fear.

Then one day he wonʼt intertwine my fingers with his. He wonʼt ask me to kiss his scraped knees from climbing every tree he on the block. His body will stretch, as if made of taffy, and not every wish I ever had. There will be no time for enunciation, only mumbling. My sonʼs clothing wonʼt be neon colored and mismatched anymore, but dark and oversize. Heʼll only want to talk to me if he needs money, or advice about a girl.
Iʼll gaze at my son, the most perfect creature to grace planet Earth. Although Iʼll know that no girl will be worthy to breathe the same air, Iʼll say, “Treat her with respect, ask her questions, and make sure to meet her parents before you take her out.”
Heʼll grunt at me, and Iʼll throw an arm around him for one last embrace before heʼs completely lost to me. Heʼll reciprocate, if only for a moment, and Iʼll savor every millisecond of it. Then before he leaves the room Iʼll call out to his slouched frame, “And for Godʼs sake use a condom, Tom.”

Iʼll blink.

And when I open my eyes, I will be at his wedding. Sheʼll claim to love him forever and a day. Iʼll scoff because no one will love him more than I-the woman that created him with her thoughts alone.

Then, heʼll really be gone.

My son will call and tell me that heʼs graduated law school, and medical school. Heʼll travel the world with his wife and twin girls, which will help him brush up on the five languages heʼs fluent in.

Heʼll return when my eyes are milky, skin tattered as crumpled wet newsprint, and a mind that has dulled like the crayons he used to draw with. Iʼll beg him to let me die in my own bed, like his Dad did years prior. This time heʼll be the one sleeping next to me, wrapping his long muscular arms around a shrunken, shivering woman that had once been so strong. Heʼll remind me of the wizardʼs mentor who said we shouldnʼt fear death. Heʼll tell me that I did everything right, and he only became the man he is because of me.

My ashes will be spread in the Atlantic Ocean, but no one will miss me. There will only be tears for Thomas, the greatest man who will ever live. The man who mysteriously faded into nothingness, because he existed only in my dreams.