20 Questions With..., Everything That Counts

20 Questions With…Melissa Algood

 

This is usually the time that I tell you how much I love the author that’s answering my 20 questions, or how we met, but this time I’m taking over.

I’ve throughly enjoyed reading my friends answers, because they all have done it so differently.  Honestly I didn’t expect them to put so much thought into their answers, or trying to figure out the ‘right’ answer, when in fact there is not right or wrong.  I intended for the author to interpret the questions however they wanted to, not for my ‘permission’ on how to answer.  Therefore I did cheat on pretty much all of the questions (if there is a way to cheat on questions that don’t lead to a grade).

So thank you to all of the authors that I’ve highlighted before, not only for being good sports, witty, and insightful, but for being my friend.

The first time I remember saying that I wanted to be an author was when I was about eleven or twelve.  I never imagined that people would really read my stuff, I mean at least not while I was alive.  Sylvia Plath has always been a favorite of mine, hence naming my publishing company Mad Girl’s Publishing after her poem ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’.

I am very happy to announce that I’ve publishing my first book-which will be officially released on August 24 at River Oaks Bookstore.  I hope that you’ll join me to celebrate the release of ‘Everything That Counts’ from 4-6 pm.

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I don’t really know what else to say-other than that writing isn’t something ‘fun’ for me-it’s a necessity due to the people that live out their lives in my head.  Thankfully at least some people like to join me on the journey – thank you for that.

So without further adieu I answer the infamous 20 questions

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Twenty Questions With…Melissa Algood

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?   ‘Watership Down’ by Richard Adams.  I remember reading the introduction (yes I’m such a dork I read the introduction to novels) in which he said that the story of Fiver and Hazel was originally something he told his daughters as he put them to bed and they begged him to write it down.  Also ‘Fool On A Hill’ by Matt Ruff-it throughly transported me and I wanted to take a ride like that as often as possible.
  2. How old where you when you started writing?  Young, maybe 11.  In middle school a tutor mentioned how detailed a piece I wrote for English was (I described a door creaking open as if a rat were being crushed in the frame).  I also wrote little short stories for my first boyfriends mother (a dramatized version of a woman crossing the street was my first).  In high school I pledged to write a poem a day which helped me the most overall, and I still read the poems if I want to go back in time.
  3. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with.  Richard Adams, Matt Ruff, Nicola Yoon, and Courtney Summers.
  4. What would you eat? Probably not rabbit…I’m picturing a sleep over environment which includes pizza and sodas.
  5. How do you plot out your work? I usually don’t.  I get a scene in my head, and I’ll play it over and over again until it is as clear as an Oscar winning film and then I write it.  Although this often causes a lot of work once I’m ‘done’ with the first draft so from now on I really need to do an outline first (but I did do that for ‘The Bakery Assistant’ which I have yet to complete and I lost the outline).  
  6. Do you write in the morning or evening? Whenever I can, but usually after I’ve had my coffee.  But I have written many a scene while a color client of mine has been processing (I’m a hairstylist in ‘real’ life)
  7. Is there music on? This is the most important part of the writing process for me-I will spend more time on a playlist then virtually any other planning of a piece.  It will get so intense that a song will forever be intertwined with a character or scene.  I have posted the playlists for ‘Blood On The Potomac’  and ‘Everything That Counts’ on this blog.
  8. What inspired your last story?  A client inspired ‘Everything That Counts’ but I’ve been working on a lot more short stories which seem to be inspired by the copious amount of true crime podcasts I listen to (My Favorite Murder, Up And Vanished, Serial, Undisclosed, True Crime Garage, Last Podcast On The Left)
  9. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them. ‘All The Rage’ by Country Summers and ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ by Jay Asher because both stories are so fucking important for everyone on Earth to read especially young adults.  ‘All The Rage’ is so poetically written although the content is something most people won’t read because it’s a difficult topic.  Similarly Asher’s novel does shine a light on many things that American society wants to put in the dark and he does it so intelligently that you’re enraptured.  ‘The Sky Is Everywhere’ by Jandy Nelson is achingly beautiful more like an epic poem, or a song, than a novel.  And I wish I could create another world like George R.R. Martin, but I can’t plan ahead that well.
  10. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well? ‘The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’, ‘House of Cards’, and ‘Master of None’ on Netflix.  I’m also the biggest fan of ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Sons of Anarchy’ (which I binge watched while writing ‘Everything That Counts’), and ‘The Sopranos’ and my all time favs ‘Daria’ and ‘My So-Called Life’ and ‘Lost’ (which I binged while writing ‘Blood On The Potomac’).  As far as films I love ‘Donnie Darko’ although I’m not really sure what happened, and anything by Wes Anderson.
  11. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece?  I kinda like Miles Teller for Blake, but I’m not sure if he’s tall/lanky enough…maybe he’s more of a Nat Wolff. Rachel Hurd-Wood or Daisy Lewis for Sophie, Britt Robertson for Zoe.  
  12. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write? I would say all of them, but for different reasons.  ‘The Bakery Assistant’ needs more research (so if you’re a lawyer on the east coast lemme know) ‘WinterGull Lane’ because it took me to such a dark place.
  13. Which was the easiest? Most of my short stories are quick as lightening, which might be why I write them so much more often.
  14. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it? ‘The End’ is a short story I won an award for about a young boy who grows up during the apocalypse.  I didn’t get hung up on how it all went down, but what it’s like to actually live after everyone else is dead.  At a book release the wife of another author told me that she loved that George still found it important to look at the artwork that still existed on the walls of the hotels in Las Vegas, because what’s the point of living if you don’t have the opportunity to enjoy art.
  15. What are you working on now? The novels that I mentioned before, and to write enough short stories to publish my collection called ‘Everyone Dies’.
  16. What story do you have to write before you die? All of them
  17. What’s your best fan story? When I sold an anthology to a teenage girl at a Comic Con in Houston and she shared with me her journal of poetry that she carries with her, then later that day came by to told me how much she loved my story.  Or when I read my piece ‘Thomas’ at the Spider Road Press award ceremony and one of my friends told me that it was the only piece that made her cry.
  18. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style? ‘We trudged onto the darkened stage covered in blood and glitter.’ from the story ‘Even Aliens Watch Reality T.V.’ my man’s favorite story that I’ve ever written.
  19. Have you ever based characters off of real people?  There are attributes that are based off real people, and I talk a lot so I listen to how people talk and infuse that into my work.  So yes, but not enough to have anyone worry.
  20. Who’s your favorite character?  I’m gonna cheat and say that I have a fav from each piece-Samantha Locke ‘Blood On The Potomac’, Blake Morgan ‘Everything That Coutns’, Claire Fisher ‘The Bakery Assistant’, and Stormy O’Dell ‘WinterGull Lane’

 

 

You can follow me on this blog, on TwitterFacebook, and you can buy all my work on Amazon

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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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novel, pictures, Signing Events

Where I’ll be, and what to do until then.

First off I’m very happy to announce that I along with a few dear author friends will have a booth at Comicpalooza in Houston, Texas from May 12-17, 2017.  I would love for all of you to attend as I’ll have copies of my work that you can check out and even get me to sign it.

I always have a great time at Comicpalooza where I can meet up with friends, other authors, and fans all while were dressed as their ‘alter-ego’.  Speaking of which I will be meeting Felicia Day (Charlie from Supernatural) so if you see me on Saturday I will be cosplaying as her!

I really hope to see you there!

 

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Next I’m happy to announce that a fellow award winning author/horror fan Kreepy Keelay narrated my story ‘Hair Dying’.  He did a phenomenal job (it’s almost as if he crawled into my head…) and I implore you to listen to a story that is far more horrifying than brassy highlights-click here for Scary Story Time ‘Hair Dying’.

 

Finally I’d like to tell you how much I throughly enjoyed the novel ’13 Reasons Why’ by Jay Asher, so much in fact that I was worried the story would be ruined when brought to the small screen.  I was wrong-although the story is different, the show brought to you by Netflix has more characters, it holds true the theme that Asher wanted the audience to understand once they were done with Hannah and Clay’s life.

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I had the pleasure of meeting New York Times Bestselling author Jay Asher when he spoke at the HWG Spring Conference-he even signed my copy of his books.  I throughly enjoyed ’13 Reasons Why’ and think that everyone should read it (not just Madame Bijou who’s pictured with the novel).  Asher’s work along with ‘All The Rage’ by Courtney Summers should be mandatory reading especially for young adults.

So after you listen to the narration of my story ‘Hair Dying’, but before you see me at Comicpalooza be sure to read then watch ’13 Reasons Why’-it’s a story that deserves to stick with you forever.

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20 Questions With..., pictures

20 Q’s with Dorothy Tinker

     For the longest time I believed that Dorothy Tinker and I wrote completely differently, evident by our differing genres.  Tinker includes magic, dragons, different languages, and species in her work all while creating her own world her characters reside  in.  I prefer to use a real place, and set my characters in a specific time-thus my research begins by looking at maps created by others, rather than creating my own.
     While I know that both of us use love as a central theme  it wasn’t until she came in for a haircut, prior to teaching a class about world building, that she informed me that we were two in the same.
     Although I use our own Earth’s timeline to form the background of my characters lives; and Dorothy starts one from scratch-we’re both creating a world in which our characters can thrive, prosper, or shrivel up in despair depending on where the story takes us.
     It’s strange how we’re all more alike and share some of the same experiences while living entirely different writing lives-that’s what Dorothy taught me.

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Now for her answers to my 20 Questions….

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

I wouldn’t say there was a specific book that made me want to be a writer. My decision to write came from the multitudes of stories that have always filled my head and the inspiring friendship of another young writer/artist when I was in middle school.

However, the books that inspired me to write about characters who don’t conform to society’s rules was Tamora Pierce’s Lioness series. A young noble girl wanted to be a knight, but only noble sons were trained as knights. So she traded places with her twin brother, who wanted to study magic instead of war, and pretended to be a boy. She continued the charade through the next few years, through being a page, being a squire, coming into her womanhood (her first monthly was terrifying), and being knighted.

The rest of Tamora Pierce’s series were just as inspiring.

  1. How old where you when you started writing?

I started writing at thirteen. I remember it easily because that was the year I met my friend who wrote poetry and fanfiction. She made me realize that the stories I told myself everyday could be written down and shared with others. I tried my hand at poetry and fanfiction, but the original, novel-length fantasy stories that I began that year (I had at least seven at the time) were my true dream.

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

I would love to have lunch with Tamora Pierce, Rick Riordan, Naomi Novik, and Eoin Colfer. All four are brilliant world-builders, to the point that they’ve all written multiple books within each of their worlds. I love Riordan’s use of mythology, and his ability to fit them all into one world. I love Novik’s dragons and her integration of them into history. And I love Colfer’s use of fairy and how he’s created a non-human world that coincides with our own but is much more technologically advanced, something that isn’t often considered when integrating fairy lore into stories.

  1. What would you eat?

This question makes me laugh. Since I’m a fantasy author (and I’d be eating with other fantasy authors, mind), I have to say we’d probably eat samples from each of our own worlds. Hell, we could break out the ambrosia and call it a day.

  1. How do you plot out your work?

Plotting is pretty much done only in my mind. The times I’ve tried outlining, it gets too drawn out, and I just give up and go back to the way I usually do things. I do have a couple of timelines jotted down, but that’s more to remember when I am than anything else.

Not far into my first book, I did begin a Word document just for a list of my characters. In a world as expansive as mine (it may focus in one country, but the first series alone will be four or five books, plus sequel and prequel series of about four books each, and a ton of side stories) the number of people who show up, especially when you consider very minor characters, is too much for me to remember.

The tentative plot for the book I want to do five or nine after the one I’m currently working on, sure, but names—not a chance.

Do you write in the morning or evening?

Ideally, evening is always the best for me to write because I have always been a night owl. However, with a full-time job that I work from about 5a-2p, I write when I can, especially now that my fourth book has been so long in the process with nowhere near the amount of progress I would prefer. These days, I try to write from the time I get home (after eating so I don’t fall asleep) to the point when either food or sleep becomes necessary.

7 Is there music on?

Sometimes I write in silence, but that is becoming rarer. As long as the music doesn’t have words and doesn’t put me to sleep, it’s good writing music for me. My current preference is Lindsey Stirling radio or 2cellos radio on Pandora.

8 What inspired your last story?

I’ve been working on a lot of short stories this year, with a heavy load of four this month. The one I just finished was actually a rewrite of a story I wrote for English class in high school. We were supposed to write a mystery, which is still a genre I don’t do well at writing. Anyway, suffice to say, my teacher thought it was a good story, but that it wasn’t really a mystery.

Fast forward to about a year ago, and I rewrote the story as a horror story (I have plans to eventually do an anthology called Dreams and Nightmares, some of which will actually be based on real dreams I’ve had). I thought, at the time, that that particular rewrite was good and put it aside.

I picked it back up this month because there was a call for submissions for a YA anthology themed “That Moment When…”, which focuses on stories with a moment of disillusionment. This particular story, which is now titled Perspective’s Cruelty, has a perfect “That Moment When…” at the end. Hopefully, I make it in and can recommend it to people to read.

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

Three books I wish I could claim as my own? For one, His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. Like I said before, her integration of dragons into history is amazing. Second would be First Test by Tamora Pierce (really, any of the Protector of the Small series). This one was about the first girl who was openly allowed to train as a knight, and the way she deals with the girl’s treatment by those around her is wonderful.

Third, I would have to say The Host by Stephanie Meyer. There’s so much controversy over Meyer’s Twilight series (either you love it or you hate it, it seems), but you don’t hear much conversation about this other great work of hers. Written from an alien’s point of view as she discovers the passions of the human race and finds herself becoming a part of the human family, it’s a moving story and an interesting look at humans from an outsider’s point of view.

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

I could probably name a lot, but here are some I enjoy: Once Upon a Time, Leverage, Now You See Me (I & II), White Collar, Castle…

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

Unfortunately, this is one question I don’t like. I don’t know enough about actors and such to say, “Yes, I want so-and-so to play my main character.” Although, I have had it happen once, but it was based on vocals rather than physical features. I have a Mage Healer who is the leader of one of my nomad clans. She has a very melodious voice, and I would cast Elizabeth Mitchell as her in a heartbeat.

12  Which of your pieces was the hardest to write?

The fourth book in the Peace of Evon series, Forgotten Goddess, which I am currently taking a break from, has to be the one to give me the most trouble so far. I’ve been working on it for about a year and a half, restarted it at least once, and am still stuck before the halfway point. I’ve also been fighting the realization that there will probably be a fifth book in this series. Peace of Evon began as an idea for a single book, and I really didn’t want to add a fifth to it, but I’m starting to accept that it might be necessary.

13  Which was the easiest?

I’m not sure I can name a specific story that has been the easiest, but I do know it would probably be one of the short stories I’ve written this year. If I have to choose a particular one, I’d have to say that it was probably Swelling Tides, one of my two fantasy romance shorts that got published in Houston Writer Guild’s Riding the Waves anthology. My mind had been chomping at the bit to write a piece about the two pirate captains that showed up briefly in my first book, and it was fun to write a man who could only communicate through his parrot. It threw an interesting dynamic into their relationship.

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

I’ve had several people express their love for the world I create in my Peace of Evon series. And I love talking with people about my world.

15  What are you working on now?

Currently, I am writing the second of an apocalyptic series set 2000 years before my published books. Written in first person, present tense, the trilogy follows a young elf who unconsciously turns his five friends into various creatures (two birds, a rodent, a vine, and a flame moth) in order to protect them from the Chaos that breaks out.

This second story is set ten years after the Chaos broke out, just after the Chaos has finally ended. He nearly gets eaten by a monster and then is saved by a motley group of a human, a dwarf, a naga, and a barghest. In the end, he will hopefully be able to turn his friends back into their elven selves, but I’m still figuring that part out.

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

Unfortunately, my brain says all of them. However, the one series I would love to be able to write eventually is the prequel series to my Peace of Evon series. The prequel series is mostly set in the country across the sea, where science rules instead of magic. I’m planning to do kind of a Japanese version of Steampunk, and my current thought is a science based around crystals and possibly trapping souls within them. However, I still have a lot of research to do for that one, so I don’t know when it will get written.

17  What’s your best fan story?

So when I first published, I came out with Peace of Evon: Missing Heir, which is now out of print since I have broken it up into Peace of Evon and Gift of War. Because of this, my first book was about 200,000 words long. Now, that first year I did a convention in Lafayette called Louisianime. There, someone bought my book on Saturday. On Sunday, the next day, she came back to my table and told me that she loved it and couldn’t wait to read the next one.

Turns out that she was a speed reader. My response: “I wish I could write as fast as you read.”

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

When three months empty stands the throne,” she intoned, her words ringing with otherworldly knowledge, “the reign of Chaos is all youll know.

I love world-building and using poetry (whether as prophecies, songs, or simply poems) in my prose.

19  Have you ever based characters off of real people?

Most of the time, if I consciously base my characters off anyone, it’s me. I have a novel-length story that I would eventually love to finish and publish that features seven main characters, each of whom is based off one of my “personalities”: a pair of twins (one male, one female), a vampire, an angel, a cat man, a dragon/human half-breed, and a woman from another land who brings them all together.

20  Who’s your favorite character?

Can I choose two? There’s Mama Dragon, a thousand-year-old dragon who is much more than she seems, and Mama Caler, a peppy old Seer whose family line holds a terrible secret. Both appear several times throughout my writing.

 

You can find out more about the author and the worlds she writes and purchase her work through her website, http://www.balanceofseven.com.

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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.

20 Questions With..., pictures, Uncategorized

20 Questions With…K.R. Thompson

Thank you for joining me for another edition of 20 Questions…this time with an author that I’ve never met (in real life at least).  K.R. Thompson and I have been corresponding via social media for at least a year, and both of us had books that were published around this same time.  Although each include a character named Jack, in my romantic thriller Blood On The Potomac he’s brutally murdered in the first chapter, while in Thompson’s Jack he becomes the only of the lost boys to grow up-then he falls for a mermaid.

Obviously we have very different styles but when I read Jack I was instantly drawn in by the sticky sweetness of the main character wanting to return home before he completely forgets his mother, only to meet a mermaid that makes him reconsider leaving Neverland.  You might think you’ve heard this story before, and in a way that’s true.  I have the strong belief that every story has already been told-it’s up to the author to make it their own.  Thompson exemplifies my belief in her writing; she’s truly a storyteller.

I hope that one day we can meet and grab a cup of coffee together because if she’s half as interesting as her stories then I’d be in for a treat.

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20 Questions with… K.R. Thompson

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

 

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Her characters literally jumped off the page when I read that book. They became so real that I felt I would know them if I passed them on the street.

 

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

 

I’m a late-blooming writer. I didn’t begin telling my own stories until about seven years ago. (And nope, I’m not going to tell you how I am. 🙂 )

 

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

 

Do they all have to be current writers? If not – Mark Twain, Diana Gabaldon, Mary Higgins Clark, and J.K. Rowling.

 

  1. What would you eat?

 

I don’t think I’d eat a single bite of anything if I were able to have lunch with any of them.

 

  1. How do you plot out your work?

 

I fly by the seat of my pants for the most part. I typically have an idea of the ending of my story and I know how it will begin. The middle is an adventure that works itself out as I go.

 

  1. Do you write in the morning or evening?

 

I am -not- a morning person. All of my writing happens at night when everyone goes to bed. (It’s also the reason that I look like a zombie when I go to work in the AM.)

 

  1. Is there music on?

 

Nope. Silence is golden.

 

  1. What inspired your last story?

 

My last story, “Jack,” was inspired by the Lost Boys in the original JM Barrie tale, “Peter and Wendy.”

 

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

Outlander, Harry Potter, and The Hunger Games.

 

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

 

The Hunger Games, though I think that could be because it is based on the amazing books.

 

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

 

I was lucky enough to have a model specifically for “Jack”s cover and I can’t imagine anyone else being him. (The model is Pirate Joe from the Real Mermaids.)

 

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

 

The second book in my Neverland series, “Hook.” My husband is a huge nautical fiction fan. Every scene that I wrote, he tore apart. I had to re-write so much in that book it wasn’t even funny. But, it made it a much better story and it became more realistic.

 

  1. Which was the easiest?

 

My first story, Hidden Moon, because I didn’t write it intending to show anyone when it was finished. I had written it solely for me, so it was easy to write.

 

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

 

Ironically, “Hook,” has been the one that people have “gotten.” Once they read the reason why he became the villain, they understood him.

 

  1. What are you working on now?

 

I’m currently working on the next book in my Keeper series and also a fairytale mash-up that has dragons and a princesses.

 

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

 

I pretty much write as the characters come into my head. None of them have given me a “dead”- line yet. 😉

 

  1. What’s your best fan story?

 

My best fan story is of one reader who took one of my books and read it to her mother before she passed away. That made it very special to me. You never know when your stories will touch someone or how far they will reach. This journey is a special one and we, as authors, are blessed to experience it.

 

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

 

“Ye’d have much better luck with rum, I should think,” the old man said as he stared into his own glass. “The ale’s watered down. Fit for a fish to drink, it isn’t.” (Hook: The Untold Stories of Neverland)

 

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

 

I do have one character who is based off of my daughter.

 

  1. Who’s your favorite character?

 

Ack. Just one? I can’t do it! How about two? Patches and Beetles, two of the Lost Boys in my Neverland series.

 

 

You can find out more about K.R. Thompson on her website http://www.krthompson.net and purchase her work from http://www.amazon.com/author/krthompson

Tic-Tock

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.

 

 

 

 

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, Signing Events, Uncategorized

Comicpalooza 2016

For some people it was father’s day, or a chance to see the Dynamo or Astro’s, but for me June 19 was the epic final day of Comicpalooza (and ended with a blood filled episode of Game of Thrones).

It’s always great to meet new readers-of which I met several-to share my work along with the other great stories from local authors.  They got a chance to meet my character Samantha Locke who I cosplayed as for the event (although I was much nicer than Samantha would have been to a group of strangers).  I hope that they all throughly enjoy my debut novel Blood On The Potomac, along with my three short stories in Eclectically Criminal, and my short story The End which can be found in Eclectically Vegas, Baby all from Inklings Publishing and available for purchase via Amazon.

I hope that everyone that took home one of my pieces gives me an honest review on Amazon and/or Goodreads after their finished.

 

And if you go to enough of these events then you do have a chance to see your friends that live far away-which is always a pleasure.  I got to meet author D.L. Young’s family (he’ll be taking over my blog on July 1 when he answers my 20 Questions…), had a chance to catch up with awesome local artist Johnnie Rosales Jr. (who’s artwork literally is in every room of my house you can check out his work on Instagram), and had an opportunity to meet Daryl Dixon himself because of the kindness of fellow author Patty Flathery Pagan (more on that at the end of the blog, but check out Spider Road Press a local publishing house that has awarded me another honor this time for my piece Blanquita).

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It’s always great to connect with friends and make new ones-including the Ariel’s in attendance who were nice enough to take a picture of me although my shirt directed Ariel about to be eaten by Jaws (you know Shark Week is coming up…).

Although I didn’t get to meet him fellow author Andrea Barbosa and I were standing about 20 ft. from Charlie Hunnam star of Sons of Anarchy.  And I must admit the pic I got of him is quite funny, and he’s so handsome even pixelated.

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Finally one of the highlights of my life was getting a chance to meet and have Norman Reedus himself sign a photo for me.  My friend Patty couldn’t wait in line anymore (she’d already waited over an hour and it was her husbands first father’s day) so she gave me her place in line so I’d have a chance to meet him and get my own signed photo with him.  If you notice on my pic (the one on the right) it’s slightly smudged from his thumb which I think is super awesome!

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Norman is easily the most famous person I’ve actually spoken to which made me nervous (his handler told me to take a few deep breaths and had me repeat my name three times just so I’d remember to tell him what it was) but he was so very sweet.  There was a line of easy 50 people waiting for his signature and he knew we were hungry so he brought us all pizza and had his security pass out the boxes which we then passed through the crowd like body surfing (although I didn’t eat a piece didn’t want to mess up my makeup before I spoke to Daryl).  He came over the table and hugged a couple of little girls that were dressed like the princesses from Frozen and spent time talking to everyone that stood in line.

A young girl was about six people ahead of me, and you weren’t aloud to have your phone out when you were actually at the table (although I did take some pics as I waited in line which was allowed) so she asked me to use her phone to record her giving him a piece of fan art.  She started crying, Norman told her it was beautiful, and had someone hang it up under the banner behind him.

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It took me forever to pick which picture on the table that I wanted him to sign, but I think I chose a good one, and once I finally was face to face with him I totally forgot how to speak (which if you know me is super weird).  Here’s how the conversation went:

Norman: (shakes my hand) Hey, how are you doing?

Me: (not letting go of his hand then something that sounds kind of like English comes out of my mouth) My name’s Melissa.  I’m nervous so I thought I’d forget, but it’s Melissa.

Norman: (starting to pull his hand away) Your name’s Alyssa?

Me:  (I finally let go) No, Melissa.  My name’s Melissa.  You know like Melissa McBride (Carol on The Walking Dead)

Norman: Okay (he starts signing my picture but then really looks at my shirt and starts to laugh)  Your shirt is really cool.  (nudges his security guy who had an awesome fade) Look at her shirt man.  (Security guard laughs at Jaws about to eat Ariel the little mermaid)

Me:  Thanks it’s like my favorite shirt now!  I wrote a book (hand him a postcard with my book info which his security guard instantly takes) I should have brought a copy, but I forgot because I’m really nervous.  My name is Melissa by the way.

Norman:  (slyly smiles) Great meeting you, Melissa.

Me:  (Comicpalooza worker starts to motion me to move because my 30 seconds is up) No it was really great meeting you.  Sorry I’m weird, I’m just really nervous.

Norman:  It’s okay, have a great Con.

Then maybe I said something else, and on my way back to the Inklings table I did bump into some people I knew, but I was on cloud nine.  I’d originally planned on not washing my right hand, but I ate some nachos so I had to.

Although I am contemplating framing the shirt I wore because Norman Reedus said he liked it…

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