20 Questions With..., Uncategorized

20 Questions with…Pamela Fagan Hutchins

I refer to her as my mentor, and I tell everyone that she’s my Mom’s favorite author, but in actuality her most important role to me is friend.

Pamela Fagan Hutchins has numerable fiction and non-fiction titles, a multitude of awards, and can turn out books faster than you can say gluten-free brownies.  I met her in Houston where I attended her critique circle (the second I’d attended after going the Houston Writers Guild) and found that she could make her teenage child a meal, have a conversation with her husband, AND give all the authors valuable feedback that made me into the writer I am today.

I’ve also attended a conference in which she had her own breakout session.  Pamela spoke, nearly continuously, for five hours enriching the authors with her knowledge of the publishing industry while leaving us awestruck.

I’m thankful that she has been brought into my life, and anytime I need her she’s been there for me.  At this point I don’t know what else to say other than I’m so happy that she’s now moved to ‘Nowheresville’ where she can spend the days with her beloved animals including Feathers (on the left) and Kitty Katniss (on the right) who supported her as she wrote Bombshell which is out now.

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Twenty Questions With Pamela Fagan Hutchins

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

Oh, if it were only one. Cheaper by the Dozen, Where the Red Fern Grows, Lonesome Dove, The Great Santini, and a slew of female sleuth mysteries by Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Patricia Cornwell, and many, many others.

  1. How old where you when you started writing?

Third grade.

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

Pat Conroy, Larry McMurtry, Liliana Hart, Craig Johnson

  1. What would you eat?

Ribeye steak (medium rare), baked sweet potato, and roasted Brussel sprouts.

  1. How do you plot out your work?

I brainstorm and storyboard with my story partner (aka my smart, creative, cute husband), then I do a little research, a lot of thinking, and make some chapter notes those loosely resemble an outline. I write character-driven mysteries featuring amateur female sleuths with strong women’s fiction themes, so I try to come up with a new way for someone to die with a fresh villain and interesting motivation at the same time as pulling off a fast-paced contemporary slice of a woman’s life. Ultimately, I just start writing, though, and let the characters tell the story. I update my chapter notes as I go, and I revise comprehensively one time before I turn it over to my content editor for suggestions, then my copyeditor for perfectifying.

  1. Do you write in the morning or evening?

Both

  1. Is there music on?

Only during the final stages. I find it distracting, which becomes an excuse to procrastinate, and I have pretty aggressive deadlines, so I have to stay focused. Music can help me fine tune voice and tone, though, so I like it a lot during final stages.

  1. What inspired your last story?

My characters inspire my stories. Once I get to know them, it becomes clear that their paths will lead to good stories. Knockout is my third “Ava” mystery, and her journey from unknown to superstar to indie involves bright lights, big stages, and betrayal. I just have to put my butt in the chair and let her speak through me.

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

See #1.

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

Justified was really well written.

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

Ashanti is who I would cast in my Ava trilogy (Bombshell, Stunner, Knockout).

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

To date, my Michele novels have been the hardest (Going for Kona, Fighting for Anna, Searching for Dime Box), especially Fighting for Anna. It also won the Silver Falchion for Best Adult Mystery, so maybe being hard to write is a good thing.

  1. Which was the easiest?

My easiest novels so far have probably been my Emily mysteries (Heaven to Betsy, Earth to Emily, Hell to Pay). The protagonist Emily was based on a dear childhood friend and set in the town I grew up in, so it was a setting, culture, and characters that came to me more easily than some others have.

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

Women really seem to relate to my Katie mysteries (Saving Grace, Leaving Annalise, Finding Harmony). Katie is insecure, awkward, and her own worst enemy. I can certainly relate to that myself!

  1. What are you working on now?

I’m working on the Maggie Trilogy. She’s a modern hippie turned junker/salvage artiste who owns an antique store in the Hill Country of Texas. And, oh yeah, she was a rising star on the music scene until she burned all her bridges and ended up broke and in a last-chance rehab. She’s wild, crazy, and super interesting. She first appeared in my mystery Fighting for Anna as a supporting character, and I knew I had to give her trilogy of her own.

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

I have a story about “polarity” between two lovers. It’s a Serendipity­-­type story but with my own Pamela twist, based on my husband’s and my meeting. I don’t write romance…so we’ll have to see if this turns out as straight up romance, or something cross genre with suspense.

  1. What’s your best fan story?

When we moved from Houston to our little Nowheresville, we made friends with another couple who had also transplanted. One day, when I was taking a group of writers out to breakfast from a writers’ retreat I held at our house, I ran into those new friends. It turned out that his mother was with them, and “my biggest fan.” It was fun to have our new friends discover I was a writer through her eyes. She’s since become a friend, too.

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

Oh geez, I’ve written nineteen books! LOL, a sentence? Well, in lieu of that impossible task, here’s the intro to my 2nd Ava novel, Stunner:

 

They say be careful what you wish for, but they don’t know beef from bull foot. I jump out of the helicopter, which I rode over from Virgin Gorda for the sole purpose of making an entrance. Collin, my man, hustles forward. I clutch my floppy hat with one hand and take Collin’s fingers with the other as I concentrate on how to look graceful in a forty-mile-per-hour wind that creates a pelletized sand spout. On one side of us is crystal blue Caribbean Sea. On the other coconut palms bend nearly double behind a tiki hut with twinkling red and green Christmas lights. My eyes continue down the beach across the roofline of an enormous house and land on a thatched-roof pavilion with what looks like heavily loaded buffet tables.

 

All of this for the wrap party for my first album. Bombshell—that’s the name of the album—is memorialized on a giant banner across the top of the tiki hut: AVA BUTLER’S EXPLOSIVE DEBUT ALBUM, BOMBSHELL, FROM VENUS RECORDS. DECEMBER 15, EVERYWHERE. There’s a picture from the album artwork incorporated into the banner. In it, I’m a road-weary skank with eye makeup streaked down my cheeks and a ripped green lace top, but I’d do me.

 

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

Every one of my twelve novels features real people in fictional roles. Now your job is to guess who is real and who isn’t! I’ll tell you one for sure: Ava is based on my best friend from my years in the Virgin Islands.

  1. Who’s your favorite character?

Of mine, or of anyone’s? Woodrow and Gus from Lonesome Dove. Dan and Little Ann from Where the Red Fern Grows. Or my Katie J

 

You can find out more about Pamela Fagan Hutchins on her website at http://pamelafaganhutchins.com and purchase her work anywhere online, in ebook, paperback, hardback, or audio. Get free exclusives when you sign up for her newsletter at https://www.subscribepage.com/PFHSuperstars. Email  pamela at pamelafaganhutchins dot com if you’d like her to Skype with your book club or women’s group.

Be sure to pick up Knockout the third book in the Sexy Ava series out June 12.

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20 Questions With...

20 Questions with…T. Haven Morse

She wears so many hats that I don’t even know where to begin.

But I guess that explains her poetry since it too has a million different perspectives.  I suppose it’s because T. Haven Morse perfected the craft of performance before she delved into the art of the written word.

When she’s not enjoying time on her ranch with her husband and children, she’s the girl Friday for Spider Road Press.

I’m so glad to have her on my side, so without further adieu may I introduce you to T. Haven Morse.

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Twenty Questions With…T. Haven Morse

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

 

When I was eight, I took a small, thin book from my grandmother’s shelf: “Angel Unaware” by Dale Evans Rogers. The tale is written in first person, from the point of view of Dale’s sick daughter. Robin talks to God, sharing the story of her brief time on Earth. That was the first time a book brought me to tears. As Maya Angelou says—make them feel and they will remember. I’ve never forgotten.

 

  1. How old where you when you started writing?

 

In 1987, at the age of eleven, I published my first article for the Jones Gazette (our family newsletter). Titled “Grandparents Coming,” the piece was short but informative. My first paid gig was to write a script for a Six Flags Astroworld show in my early twenties. However, I didn’t actually go “pro” until my late thirties.

 

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

 

  1. Paulo Coelho—although we might need a translator
  2. Elizabeth Gilbert—she’s a writing idol of mine
  3. Maya Angelou—though we’d require a medium
  4. Holly Lyn Walrath—she’s local and we have lunch every Tuesday, so she’d be an easy one to arrange and I love talking writing-shop with her

 

  1. What would you eat?

 

Would it matter? No, but for the sake of this questionnaire and my longtime vegetarianism, let’s say veggie sushi and tempura with Boston Cream Pie for dessert (it’s my favorite).

 

  1. How do you plot out your work?

 

Each piece is different. Sometimes the story or poem just spills out like an uncontrollable gush of words, characters, and plot. Other times I actually outline the story with a set beginning, middle, end, theme, twists, and beats. However, even with those more structured creations, I always stay flexible for the unknown, alert to unexpected yet ever-present input from the characters or my muse.

 

  1. Do you write in the morning or evening?

 

Every day is my life is different. On certain days, I write first thing in the morning—before the sun is up. Other days, the writing happens in a hammock at high noon. And some days, words meet page after dinner or dark.

 

  1. Is there music on?

 

Almost always. Either the Hans Zimmer channel on Pandora or the DirectTV Movie Soundtrack channels usually. I’m not a fan of lyrics when I write but love emotion-filled music.

 

  1. What inspired your last story?

 

For the first time, I’m actually working with a Story Guide on a fantasy yarn based on a true experience in my life. My guide is the Amazing Alysia Seymour and the story is a metaphorical novelette about my daughter’s birth and the heart-wrenching trials of spending a week in the NICU. Leyna, my counterpart, deals with some nasty demons—inside and outside—as well as meets some extraordinary spirit guides along the way. It’s, by far, the most cathartic and honest work I’ve ever written.

 

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

 

  1. “By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept” by Paulo Coelho
  2. “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert
  3. “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio

 

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

 

There are many! Currently on TV, I’m loving “The Alchemist” and “The Good Doctor.” In films, one of my favorites that I can’t believe wasn’t a book first is “The Age of Adeline.” I’m pretty much a fan of any screenplay by Darren Aronofsky (my first love of his work was “The Fountain”—still a regular go-to film for me) and Guillermo Del Torro. As for music, having work with Houston Grand Opera for six seasons, I’m a huge opera fan—especially of Iain Bell’s work. He’s incredible, as a writer and a human being.

 

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

 

I have a number of pieces in progress at the moment, and at all times. Cressida, my romantic fantasy lead for book one of the Feathers of the Phoenix series, would be played by India Eisley or an undiscovered talent with dark-hair and green-eyes. Leyna, fantasy protag in my based-on-true-life novelette, would be played well by Natalie Dormer from Games of Thrones/Hunger Games. Finding the lead for my historical fantasy WIP, “Tales of Tuttleman” might be tougher—Tuttleman is a two hundred year old talking pug. Not sure how we’d manage that one on screen!?! If animation or not, Paul Bettany would do his voice. No question!

 

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

 

“Cressida”, book one of a romantic fantasy, has been the hardest because she and I started together before I had a clue what I was doing. She went from hardcore romance (verging on erotica) to straight fantasy and has now pendulumed back to somewhere in the middle. But once we’ve figured out the right balance of sexy and fantastical, she’ll be amazing—as will her offspring in the Feathers of the Phoenix series.

 

  1. Which was the easiest?

 

My first poetry collection published, “Flooded By”, simply poured out in about 45 days. That collection is way more muse than me. The persona poet in me took over and ran for the finish line, dragging me behind.

 

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

 

I just finished a flash piece called “More Than a Pigg” for a contest. With the exception of one beta reader, everyone else who has read her, has absolutely loved the story. They were engrossed, sad to see the end, and were still reeling days later. Hopefully, she’ll win the contest and be published later this year. If not, I will definitely shop her around more. People need to hear this story.

 

  1. What are you working on now?

 

Lots of things! See above. 🙂 In a nutshell, book one of a romantic fantasy series, a free-standing fantasy novelette based on a true event in my life, a novella about a two hundred year old talking pug (think Forrest Gump meets Frank from Men in Black), and a series of chapbooks based on writing prompts called “Splintered Musings.” No, I don’t sleep. And when I do, I dream in epic storylines!?!

 

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

 

All of them. I will write until my last day, I have no doubt. My muse is faithful and will guide me to the stories I need to share.

 

  1. What’s your best fan story?

 

One of the poems in “Flooded By” is a glimpse into the love between a ghost-woman named Melody and a Catholic priest. It’s pure and complicated and lovely. I’ve had many readers, including some esteemed writer colleagues, tell me how much they love that poem. I love it too.

 

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

 

This is hard for a multi-genre writer like me, whose style is all over the place. But let’s go with this one from “The Tales of Tuttleman”:

 

“Although we were about the same age when we first met, I matured much faster than he did and achieved an adult perspective while he was still foundering with pimples and discovering what to do with his Wee Willy Winky.”

 

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

 

Sure. In one of my current works-in-progress, there are three fantastical bird-women that are based loosely on my great-grandmothers (the three I knew). I’ve loved spending time with them while writing the story.

 

  1. Who’s your favorite character?

 

Wow! That’s a wide-open question!?! In my own work, I have a serious writer-crush on Tuttleman—the two hundred year old talking pug—right now. He’s funny and charming and British with a wealth of knowledge and life-experience. Plus, he’s introduced me to Mary Shelley, Jack the Ripper, Nina Simone, Nelson Mandela, and a number of other famous and infamous people from history.

 

As for characters that aren’t mine, I absolutely love Odd Thomas—created by Dean Koontz. He’s young but wise, funny but poignant, and laidback but polite. A well-rounded twenty-something who sees ghosts and helps solve murder mysteries. What’s not to like?

 

 

 

You can find out more about the author on their blog “The Bountiful Balcony Buzz” (https://www.bountifulbalconybooks.com/blog) and purchase their work from the Bountiful Balcony Bookstore (https://www.bountifulbalconybooks.com/bookstore) and Amazon.

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20 Questions With...

20 Questions with…Andrea Barbosa

I can’t say that I’ve met anyone ‘famous’ per se, but I have met a silver medal winning poet, which is as close as I might ever get.

And that’s totally okay with me.

Andrea Barbosa is a throughly talented author and I’m so very proud to have my own work included alongside hers.  We’ve even entered many of the same contests and the only way I’m able to accept the loss of first place, is because she won it.

 

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Jennifer Leeper, Andrea Barbosa, and Melissa Algood (me) accepting our awards for the Spider Road Press Flash Fiction Contest 2016

It’s  not only amazing that Andrea is award-winning poet and author; but English is her second language, and yet she strings together prose that is pure magic.  The Brazilian born, high powered business woman never lets anything get in the way of her beloved son; not even her fictional characters.  Every time I see her she tells me about the latest in his life, and is always an internal part of his life.

So yeah, she’s a great mom too.

I’m so happy to bring author Andrea Barbosa to you, and to have her answer my 20 questions.

 

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Twenty Questions With…Andrea Barbosa

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours? I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a child, so it’s hard to remember what book exactly incited that desire within me, for I loved all fairy tales. One tale that I particularly recall is Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose.
  2. How old were you when you started writing? 12, 13, maybe earlier.
  3. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with. Shakespeare, Hemingway, Henry Miller, Anais Nin. Of course, they’re all dead but it would be a fantastic gathering.
  4. What would you eat? Anything vegetarian.
  5. How do you plot out your work? The characters take control and I plot as we go, usually.
  6. Do you write in the morning or evening? Evening.
  7. Is there music on? It depends. I like the silence but sometimes I need the music for inspiration for a particular scene or for a particular mood.
  8. What inspired your last story? My love for Greece and Greek history.
  9. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them. The Colossus of Maroussi (Henry Miller), The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco), The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde).
  10. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well? One movie that comes to mind as being well written is Arrival, as it conveyed a poignant story.
  11. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece? To be Nikos, my Greek character in Olympian Passion, I always look at British model David Gandy. But since Gandy’s not an actor and wouldn’t have a Greek accent that Nikos needs to have, I’d choose Greek actor Apostolis Totsikas.
  12. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write? The romance novels are the hardest to write because I find the steamy scenes hard to describe.
  13. Which was the easiest? Poems are the easiest pieces that I write.
  14. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it? The romance novels usually. In the second novel in the Olympian Love trilogy, Olympian Heartbreak, I did a lot of research about Greece. Several readers wrote to me praising the way I described the country, one even daring to say she felt that Greece was like it’s own character in the book, that I did such a good job that she felt she was in Greece while reading the book.
  15. What are you working on now? The final and last book in the Olympian Love trilogy.
  16. What story do you have to write before you die? Haven’t thought about that… ideas come and go but the one I had to write was my psychological thriller Massive Black Hole and I’m glad I was able to have it published.
  17. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style? Since I write poetry, short stories, fiction, and romance novels, it’s hard to find a particular sentence for my style. So I’m giving you a verse that I really like from one of my poems: “and the images vanish like soft clouds up high, transforming the colors of my rainbow into the dark loneliness of my night.”
  18. Have you ever based characters off of real people? Not entirely but I believe there’s a little bit of people I know in every character.
  19. Who’s your favorite character? From the ones I’ve written, Nikos, the protagonist of the Olympian Love trilogy. I love writing him. He’s complex, enigmatic, a little mysterious, and of course, extremely handsome, a typical alpha male, and a Greek archaeologist.

 

Thank you!

 

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Chantell Renee, a wonderful reader, Myself, and Andrea Barbosa

You can find out more about the author on their blog http://massiveblackholenovel.blogspot.com/ , and purchase their work from Amazon. Andrya Bailey (romance): https://www.amazon.com/Andrya-Bailey/e/B01667R2D8.

Andrea Barbosa (fiction, short stories, poetry): https://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Barbosa/e/B00DGXPK6W

 

 

 

Mad Girl's Publishing, pictures, short stories

A sneak peak of ‘Hair Raising Tales of Villainous Confessions’

After a ton of hard work (not only by me and Chantell Renee but 4 other indie authors) the newest anthology from the Hair Raising Tales series, and the first collection from Mad Girl’s publishing is now available for pre-order!

‘Hair Raising Tales of Villainous Confessions’ will go live on Valentines Day (2/14/2018) and is perfect for the reader that you love, or even the horror reader within.

Inside you’ll b enraptured by thirteen stories from six indie authors that make you think beyond the fairy tale image of ‘evil’.

Tales ranging from murderous children to a mother’s never ending love, ‘Hair Raising Tales of Villainous Confessions’ will make you think of the wicked in a whole new light.

This collections includes words from award-winning authors like Jae Mazer, and emerging writers like Kyle D. Garrett.  Available for preorder NOW on Amazon.   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07969BKMF

 

To get a taste of what you’re in for I’ve posted the beginning of one of my pieces ‘The Orchard’ which is (at least right now) the darkest story I’ve ever written.  Please be aware the story contains MATURE CONTENT!

The Orchard

By Melissa Algood

“I got her.”

“Bullshit.”  A metallic click, a hiss, then I put the can of rock gut to my lips.

“I can show you.”  A plume of smoke followed his words.

“Show me what?”

“I kept her, so you could see.”

“You think I’m some kinda freak?”

For a second his eyes glazed over before his irises took hold of me.  “You think I’m a freak?”

“Nah, man.”  More beer oozed down my throat.  “I mean I know you’ve been talking about it, but talking ain’t doing.”

“I told you, I got her.”

“Fine.”  I threw the empty can into the trashcan.  “Show me.”

All the roads in our town were dirt, not a stoplight to speak of.  Everyone that lived out here knew where they were without street signs.  Which was good considering we only had a handful of those.  Jerry and I had lived together for a couple of years.  He’d never brought a girl home, as far as I could remember, but he paid his half of all the bills on time.  Up until now I didn’t mind hearing him talk about the women in town, one in particular, but I never thought that he’d really do anything about it.

“It was late, you know after the ball game, so she was out.  I got into the back window.  It was open just like you said…”

My jaw clenched. “I never said anything to you, Jerry.”

His hands were still on ten and two when he turned to me.  “Don’t you remember, Noah?  Back when we were looking at the yearbook a few months ago?”

Jerry’s words bounced around the inside of the Silverado.

“Shut the fuck up with that,” I said. The memory of the both of us drunk enough to admit our deepest desires, but sober enough to make a plan, boiled in my stomach.  “Don’t ever talk about that night again.  You got it?”

“Yeah.”

“Say it.”

“Say what?”

“Jerry you’re so fucking stupid.  Just keep your damn mouth shut.”

The out-of-towners that came to see the leaves change could never tell the difference between one tree and another, but I was born here so each piece of greenery was its own landmark.  I could smell the crisp apples in the air long before Jerry made the turn into the orchard.  The acres that spanned before us were more than a food source; teenagers used them as a local spot for parties.

The first time I came out to the orchard was in fifth grade when the word around school was that the Buckhill brothers were going to rage on each other over the head cheerleader of our town’s only high school.  I could still feel the rush when one brother knocked out the other’s front teeth.  Iron still lingered in the air, although this time I knew that Jerry was the cause.

 

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short stories

Molly – short story by Melissa Algood

I often try to have a meaning behind my stories, and in truth I wrote this one after wondering what other teenagers were doing when I was busy being a weirdo writing poetry on her jeans, but the aim is that you see the world through the eyes of someone who’s lost and desperately trying to feel something good.

Not that my short story ‘Molly’ full encompasses every teenager (much less all teenagers in Phoenix), but I know that for some of them this story is very real (or at least exists in my head).

I hope that ‘Molly’ is a whirlwind experience for you- MA 2017

 

 

 

 

Molly 
by Melissa Diane Algood

The neon-orange glow at the tip of the joint was all that existed.

“Get back in here, Jason!” Aaron yelled. “It's the best part of the movie! Ya know, where the baby is crawling on the ceiling!”

“You're a sick fuck. This isn't the best part of the movie.”

“This isn't film theory, Lizzie.” Aaron inhaled deeply, the fire on the tip of his fingers burned so bright she could see the outline of his chiseled jaw.  

He brushed his long blond hair out of his eyes, and passed the joint to Lizzie. As she came down, she didn't fall flat on her face, but drifted like a feather to the bottom of the valley.

“Ugh! We're out of beer!” Maya pulled away from Jason just long enough to call from the kitchen.

“Wanna go for a ride, baby?” Aaron arched an eyebrow at Lizzie, dark eyes shining.

Jason's dad had a black BMW, perfect for an evening jaunt; so they all loaded up and headed out. Lizzie didn't know anything about cars, but this one had heated leather seats and a badass speaker system. Every thump of the bass line hit her like a hammer. So she closed her eyes and let the night wash over her, as she smoked her cigarette attempting to avoid barfing. Needless to say, this car was a vast improvement over Aaron's junker. He'd wrapped that old tin can around a light pole last winter.

“Hey, aren't the Miller's in Sedona for the weekend?” Maya piped up from the backseat, like always tangled in Jason's grip.

Aaron made a sharp left toward the house, swerving onto the curb, and hit a stop sign. The pole skimmed the side of the car.  They all yelled at once, and then they giggled.  At last, they parked next to the brightly colored house.

Aaron used the bobby pin from Lizzie's hair to pop the lock. The four of them stumbled into the house. Maya danced around the entryway, spinning Lizzie with her. The boys went to the fridge in the garage, where they knew the beer would be.

“The - Miller's - Have - A - Pool!” Lizzie stressed every word to Maya. The girls stopped spinning and ran toward the backyard with squeals of glee.

They tumbled out of their clothing, leaving on only their bras and panties. Maya dove into the pool like an Olympian. Even faced out as she was, Maya still had the grace of a ballerina. When Lizzie dove, every molecule of water kissed her skin, every ripple felt as if she'd been taken out to sea. It seemed as if it took years for her to touch the bottom and pop back up laughing. Aaron and Jason rushed to the edge and began taking off their shoes, shirts, and pants.

“Mind if we join?” Jason asked the girls, right before cannon balling into the pool.

Drops of water shot up into the sky, a prism that glittered in the moonlight, enchanting Lizzie. The four of them floated on their backs, looking up to an unending ocean of stars.

“This water feels so...cooool,” Jason whispered.

“Yeah! Beautiful.” Lizzie heard her voice say, but couldn't feel her lips move.

Maya swam toward Jason. They melted into each other. Lizzie remembered the last time she was in this house. She paddled over to Aaron.

“Come on. I wanna show you something.”

Somehow she was able to coax him out of the water. Maybe he eagerly followed her upstairs because she sucked on his index finger. The room was exactly as she remembered from when Mr. Miller, her coach, brought her here after practice. Midnight black silk sheets, red walls, and the massive headboard.

Lizzie couldn't stop to analyze the last time she was there. Every nerve in her body ached for the safety of Aaron. All she knew was his tongue running along her collarbone, melting her like butter. He picked her up. She wrapped her legs around his toned frame and let herself fall into the feather bed. Every touch of his lips on her skin was like an explosion.

In her sixteen years, she had no better way to explain it other than, awesome. It felt like hours that they spent tangled in those sheets, which the housekeeper had so impeccably tucked into the king size bed. When Lizzie looked at the clock, it had only been ten minutes.

“Hey bitch!” Lizzie heard the roar. “Gabby just texted me about a rave! It's in an abandoned house on 4th.  Stop fucking and get down here!” Maya's voice echoed in the house.

Lizzie and Aaron redressed once they got back to the pool, where they had left their clothes. Before leaving, they raided the fridge, pantry, and medicine cabinet. Everyone hopped into the newly stolen Jaguar, and drove into the night, leaving behind the banged up Beemer.

Through the window, Lizzie saw neon flashing lights arrayed against a black canvas sky. That night, in the cold Arizona desert, there was house music, drugs, and a horde of teenagers crammed inside of a condemned-looking house.

Lizzie took another dose of medicine with the rest of them and sped up. If there was a door, none of them knocked on it. Each of them became an integral part of the mass. Even though it was chilly, Lizzie burned, as she ran her hands over Aaron's body. She didn't just feel the music; she became the drumbeat, bass line, and guitar chord. Every drop of perspiration, flicker of light, and body movement was absorbed by Lizzie and expelled back into the group through her dancing. When she opened her eyes, sweat dripped down Aaron's forehead. His eyes were dry and bloodshot.

“Hey, let's go to the chill-out room,” She suggested, pulling him close.

Lizzie directed Aaron down the hallway to the first door on the left, along with a few wayward youths. She did feel herself turn the door handle and gasp when she opened it. The entire room was soft, soundproofed, and blue.

It was long and narrow. The floor, covered in navy beanbag chairs, glowed under the black light. On the far side, across from Lizzie, Breaking Bad was projected onto the wall. Aaron and Lizzie weaved their way to a set of empty seats, each falling down into the most comfortable spot ever.

To her left was a couple making out. On her right another fucked against the wall. But most of the inhabitants were completely entranced with the moving images in front of them. Maya and Jason cuddled, closer to the screen.

No one acknowledged Aaron or Lizzie, even though they were hyper aware from the drugs. The tiny beads that they sat on, the padded walls, the shades of blue that bathed them, and the tenor of television all soaked into Lizzie’s consciousness. The space engulfed her senses. They were all so in tune, that right on cue, the whole gathering shouted along with Jesse Pinkman, “Magnets, Bitches!”

All the lights and sounds in the sapphire abyss were calm, until Jason's nose started bleeding.

“Damn, I feel weird,” Jason whispered.

His eyes rolled to the back of his head. Maya, along with the rest of the room, were oblivious as the black light magnified the lines of red dripping from his dark eyes. His gasps blended with vibrations emanating from throughout the building.

“Hey look! Jason's dancing!” A classmate pointed to Jason's jerking body, writhing on the floor.

The group pounded their feet and clapped their hands in time with his frantic movements; until he went still. His blank face covered in blood, held no interest for them, so they turned their gaze back to the closest sparkling object.

“I wanna dance!” Maya jumped up, spun, and pulled Lizzie up from her seat.

The boys stayed behind.

What was once a kitchen and dining room had been transformed by spray paint and black lights. The DJ mixed Lana Del Rey and M.I.A., which pleased Lizzie as she was absorbed into the faction. She and Maya mirrored each other’s movements. Their groins rocked, fists pumped, hips rotated, and they shook their heads so that their hair cascaded around them. The room screamed with glee.

Suddenly Maya pulled Lizzie close, brushed a lock of hair from her face, and kissed her. Maya was soft, and tasted like a lollipop; too sweet. Lizzie tried to pull away, but Maya's arms wrapped tight around her, like a vine. Lizzie felt Maya run her hands over her back, ass, and breasts.

Lizzie wanted to forget, get lost, so they became one in time with the bass. It might have been moments, or hours, until she felt the crowd shove her, finally breaking her from Maya. Lizzie didn't hear the sirens, or know where the boys were. All she knew was the bright bubblegum pink lips in front of her.

“Run!” Lizzie heard Aaron scream beside her.

Aaron's long slender tattooed arm yanked her out of the room, through a hallway, and into the still Arizona night. She blindly followed him, but Jason wasn't with them. For a moment, Lizzie remembered seeing his body go limp on that floor. Then half the basketball team rushed past them. Lizzie giggled as the teenagers ran away, like a hive that lost their queen. Every time her sneakers pounded the pavement she felt the reverberation throughout her body. It shot like sparks into the starry sky. They ran for blocks, or miles, for what seemed like forever.

They were free.

 

 

If you or anyone you know has a substance problem then may I recommend you visit Narcotics Anonymous