Enraptured–An Excerpt

So, I’m almost a full month into my grad school experience and I’m quickly coming to the conclusion that this whole thing is horribly overrated.  I’m hoping it gets better once I’m able to start my workshops, but until then, I’m stuck reading more 18th century Gothic romance than I ever wanted to read (which isn’t hard seeing as I don’t want to read any of it).  Not that it’s (all) bad, mind you.  It’s just not my thing.  If I have to study literature, and it appears that I do, I’d rather study post-colonial world literature.

It won’t come as a shock, then, to learn that I haven’t done much in the way of creative writing.  I do a lot of writing for the blog, and for my classes, but nothing much on Enraptured.  Here’s a small excerpt from the book.  Maybe if enough people yell at me to finish it, I’ll get excited about it again the way I was when I started.

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The church was full and every light blazed through the windows as the town gathered for service that night.  Tiffany and David, her husband, sat in the front pew in places of honor next to Mrs. Harold.  There was an electric buzz through the crowd, even though everyone, save for Jeanne, was present and accounted for.  The prayer tree had been activated after Tiffany called the pastor earlier that afternoon and by church time everyone knew there would be an announcement made.  There was no music tonight, no opening prayer.  The crowd hushed as Pastor Harold walked onto the stage and took his place behind the podium.  He sat his Bible down unopened and looked out over the faces staring back at him.  For a long moment, he said nothing.  Here and there a person would fidget in the uncomfortable silence, but mostly people quietly stared back at him and waited for the important announcement they knew was coming.  Pastor Harold placed his hand on the Bible’s cover as if to open it.  It was an old book, older than most of the people in town.  His wife nagged him to purchase a new one, one that wasn’t binding-cracked with dog-eared coffee stains, but his Bible was his ally.  He wouldn’t abandon it just for showing signs of aging.  It loomed on the podium like a proud combat veteran, a lone survivor in an ancient war knowing another battle was inevitable.  Pastor Harold removed his glasses with his other hand, and raised his hand from the Bible, rubbing his eyes.  He replaced his glasses and then spoke.

“Brothers and sisters, it is with a heavy heart but also a resounding joy that I’ve called you all here tonight.  The joyful news is that little Jeanne Montgomery has been called to our Heavenly Father through Rapture.  We’ve all had a hand in taking care of Jeanne at one time or another, so it is a credit to us that she was pure and strong enough in her child-like faith to be honored this way.  But we should not be proud!  The joy of this news makes my heart break because she was the only one.  I see you all here tonight because you were not called.  Sin crept in and kept you from being righteous enough to be worthy of God’s call.  I’m here to talk to you tonight because I, too, am flawed.  I’m unworthy to be in the presence of God.  Yet, only God is perfect.  We can mourn our shortcomings but we cannot forget that we are here to do God’s will.  We are not worthy enough to sit at his feet, but we are all still his children and we still have work to do.”

When he finished speaking, he pocketed his glasses and walked off the stage to where his wife was sitting.  Silently, she gave him her hand and he pulled her to her feet.  They walked together to the front door of the church, signaling to the congregation that the service was over.

Paying The Bills

One of the goals I have is being able to support myself and my children with writing.  Now, I’m not going to lie.  When I originally thought this whole thing out, I was picking out who I wanted to play what roles in the movie version of my books.  Just so you know, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

However, I am earning money with my writing, so I will consider this a step in the write direction.  (You see what I did there?)  I’m writing SEO copy for a local business.  It’s very different from the writing I’m accustomed to doing, but it isn’t horrible.  Like anything, it’s going to take me a minute to get into the swing of things, but I’m optimistic.  Of course, there’s still Celia.  I mean, I’m just throwing that out there.  I’m also expecting a round of feedback about Enraptured, so in the next week or so I’ll be back to working on that.  In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the book trailer for Celia.  This SEO copy isn’t writing itself, you know.

More Fundraising For AWP

Most of you know that I am the webmistress for the Indiana University-South Bend Creative Writing Club.  If you’ve not heard, we are trying to raise funds so we can attend the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference in late February 2014.  The conference changes cities every year, and this conference will be held in Seattle, Washington.

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AWP is a lot like the fortress in Krull. It’s constantly changing locations.

The money we raise will be to help us cover travel expenses and lodging.  We  held a fireworks fundraiser for the 4th of July holiday, but as anyone who lives in Northern Indiana can tell you, the weather refused to cooperate.  Now we’re starting a new fundraising event and you don’t have to live in Northern Indiana to help up out.

Brandy Bohm, Vice-President of the CWC, is holding a Perfectly Posh event from July 22nd until July 28th.  Perfectly Posh is a line of spa and pampering products that are not tested on animals.  Brandy is donating 100% of the proceeds to the AWP fund for the club.  There is a Facebook event page if you would like more information and you can go the the Perfectly Posh website to see their catalogue of products.  They make excellent gifts, as well.  If you are not local, Brandy will ship your orders to you.  This is a one week only event and every penny counts, so please consider pampering yourself or someone you love (or yourself and someone you love) and help this great group of writers attend this professional conference.  After the event closes, we will randomly select one person to receive an autographed copy of my book Celia from Rainstorm Press.  We will choose two other names to receive 3 Celia bookmarks.  They’re high quality and very shiny.  You’ll like them.  Celia has a 4.8 star rating on Amazon.

We appreciate all of your help.  And as a little added incentive, if we reach our goal as a result of this event, I will randomly select one person to be a character in my current work-in-progress, Enraptured.

Recommend It Monday–Author Interview with Nate D. Burleigh

Only a few more weeks until graduation!  That means that RIM can get back to its regularly scheduled program.  In the meantime, though, author Nate D. Burleigh decided to come keep me company.

E: Hello, Nate.  Welcome to Erindipity.  I bought some new refreshments to avoid any…unpleasantness.  Would you care for some?

N: Sure, smells delish.

E: Your book is Sustenance.  What inspired you to write it and when did it come out?

N: I’ll answer you in reverse. Rainstorm Press published Sustenance for the second time on March 31st 2012. So, been out over a year now. It was originally published in the UK by a now defunct publishing company. Prior to about 5 years ago, I’ve never really written anything or even thought I could be a writer. It wasn’t until I was coaxed into writing down a story I was telling my kids one night that I actually realized I might be good at it. The story went on to be my first published work and enticed me to pull out and dust off an old autobiographical journal I started about 13 years prior while working as a tech support specialist. That journal warped into Sustenance.

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E: Can you tell us a little something about it?

N: Sustenance is a supernatural thriller set in the late 80s which follows 17-year old Coert as he battles the most notorious Succubus of all time, Lilith.  Coert awakens a dormant gene during a fight with another student which leads to a visit from the shadows.  This entity begins training Coert on how to gain sustenance by draining the energy of others to feed his insatiable hunger.  While resistant to the change, Coert begins to realize that his teacher is also his savior and only chance to defeat Lilith.  Sustenance draws in readers of every genre, satisfying their need, while offering a dynamic story of love, sacrifice and a twisted rite of passage.

E: What are you currently working on?

N: I’ve just finished my second novel Progeny‘s final edit and am waiting on the Art Work. While I’m waiting on that, I’ve been polishing up the manuscript for my third novel, The First. Both are supernatural thrillers. Progeny has a Sci-Fi component to it and The First is Horror. Also beginning to work on my Young Adult series, Elfen.

E: Who are your biggest influences?

N: The usual suspects, Double K’s (King, Koontze), Ann Rice, Laurel K. Hamilton, Tolkien.

E: Are you strictly a horror writer, or have you written in other genres?

N: I consider myself a Speculative Fiction Author who specializes in horror. My passion is the supernatural creatures. Not so much ghosts.

E: If any of your stories could be made into a film, which one would it be and who would you cast as the leads?

N: That’s a tough one. I’d like all of them to become movies, but Progeny has the big Summer blockbuster action. I’d cast Angelina Jolie as the mother and have to find a bunch of young unknowns for some of the kids. Would love the evil brothers to be played by some well known character actors. Maybe Ed Lauter, Tim Curry, and James Cromwell.   

E: Any parting advice for people who are just starting out?

N: Keep to it. Remember, writing almost always has an audience. But you won’t find that audience unless you get your stuff out there for others to read. I recommend writing communities like FanStory.com. They are a great way to get your work critiqued. 

Nate can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and on his website.

Awards Ceremonies and College Football

You probably don’t know this, but my boyfriend is obsessed with the University of Michigan football program.  It’s so bad that I would have to name my only daughter, should I ever choose to have one (and I don’t, so there’s that) Maisey Blue after their school colors.  My dog was moments away from being named Victor because their fight song is “Hail to the Victors.”  It’s bad.  I mention this obsession because today is the U of M Spring Game and he wanted to be in Ann Arbor, Michigan to see it.  The problem, because of course there is one, is that today is also my awards ceremony for “Blood and Rain.”  It’s going to be cold in Ann Arbor.  He should be thanking me.

Dr. Amina Gautier was this year’s guest judge for the writing awards.  Her short fiction collection At Risk won the Flannery O’Connor award for short fiction so you can imagine how excited I am that she chose my story to win.  She’ll be at IU-South Bend for a Q&A at 4 pm in 1001 Wiekamp Hall if anyone is local and would like to attend.  It’s open to the public and it’s free.  The awards ceremony itself will be at 7 pm in the same location.  I will get my award for my story and Dr. Gautier will read from her award-winning collection as well.  The Analecta, the journal my story appears in, will be released after the ceremony.  Those are also free to the public, so if you want one, you should pop on by and grab one.

Recommend It Monday–Interview with Author Brent Kelley

Today I was lucky enough to chat with author Brent Kelley when he popped in for cookies.

This is Brent.

This is Brent.

E: So, Brent.  Welcome to Erindipity.  Lori Michelle ate all my cookies when she was here last week.  Can I offer you a half-eaten donut instead?

B: No cookies? I was told cookies. I don’t know if this is going to work out. All right, fine. Let’s see the half-eaten donut. Ooh, it looks like a jelly! Wait a second. The jelly’s been sucked out of this half! I’m outta here. Whoa, take it easy! You don’t need that… Look, I’m sitting down. See? Just put down the crossbow.

E: Your book is called Chuggie and the Desecration of Stagwater. Where did you get the idea for your book and what was your writing process like?  Did you have a rough outline of what you thought would happen, or did you decide to see where it took you?

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B: Years back, when I was still in college, I beseeched the cosmos to send me a muse. I was hoping for a pretty lady in skimpy clothes, but I got Chuggie. I was an art major at UW-Stout, so I spent more time drawing him than writing about him. I started scribbling tiny scenes with Chuggie, but I didn’t have any direction. After college, I realized I was working on a book. My girlfriend Keri (who is now my wife) lived about 3 hours from me. Driving to see her on the weekends, I always traveled with my voice recorder (whose name is Booster). So Booster and I would cross through the Wisconsin countryside, and I’d tell him about Chuggie. Eventually, a real story unfolded, but I’d never written a book before. Chuggie and the Desecration of Stagwater took around a decade. No outline, just me jabbering into a voice recorder along Highway 64. I didn’t know how to write good back then, though. Critiques and workshops! Now I can write a little good. And the second book took far less time.

E: You have a blurb from Piers Anthony on your Amazon page. How did that come about?

B: I contacted Piers through his web page, and his staff gave him my message. I got very lucky with the timing, and he was able to fit Chuggie into his reading stack. He reminded me that he wasn’t guaranteeing a positive blurb, just his honest thoughts on my book. I was driving with my wife one night when my pocket started to vibrate. I pulled out my phone and handed it to Keri. She says “It’s from Piers Anthony.” So I says, “Read it! … No! Don’t read it!” In the end, Piers liked Chuggie’s first adventure, and we got some great quotes for the back cover. Piers Anthony is such a cool guy!

E: The book is from Omnium Gatherum Media.  What has your experience with them been like?

B: Don’t tell anyone I told you this, but my experience with Omnium Gatherum has been a nightmare. And by “nightmare”, I mean Super Action Happy Fun Time! As with the Piers Anthony blurb, I feel pretty lucky to have gotten in with Omnium Gatherum. Chief Editor Kate Jonez is wonderful to work with. Her editing has really helped me elevate my craft. She’s got a great eye for talent, too, so OG has a whole cavalcade of kickass books. Publishing alongside the other OG authors is really an honor. Someday we’re all going to unite for an Omnium Gatherum Gathering. When we last discussed it, we agreed it should take place at a haunted insane asylum. I just worry that fellow OG authors Ennis Drake and Dean Harrison are going to get me into trouble at the Gathering. I’ll have to bring my A-game, that’s for damn sure.

E: If I understand correctly, this is the first book in a series.  Can you tell us when the next book will be available?

B: Yes, Chuggie and the Desecration of Stagwater is book #1 of a bunch. It was published in November of 2011. It follows the perpetually-intoxicated embodiment of drought, aka Chuggie. Ol’ Chuggers is a loose-talkin’, junk sellin’ drifter, and he stumbles upon the remote city of Stagwater. There he gets stuck between various vile forces vying for control of the town. The next book, Chuggie and the Bleeding Gateways, is due for release in May of 2013.

E: What can you tell us about it?

B: I can tell you it’s going to be GLORIOUS! It picks up with Chuggie just a few days after the events in Desecration of Stagwater. Chuggie’s got some work to do and people to find. His recently acquired bone dagger, the Bleeding Jaws of Glughu, has some secrets to reveal. The Steel Jacks are becoming increasingly interested in Chuggie’s activities. If you don’t know, Steel Jacks are these energy creatures that live in 8’ metal suits. They came from another world through a rift, and they’re stuck on Mag Mell (Chuggie’s world). There’ll be monsters aplenty in Bleeding Gateways. There’ll be booze, babes, mayhem. All the good stuff. And plenty of Chuggie’s drunken ranting about people he knew or events that may or may not have actually taken place.

E: What authors have you been influenced by?

B: In a lot of ways, Chuggie is a response to Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. Other authors who influence me are folks like Frank Herbert, Hunter S. Thompson, Terence McKenna, Douglas Adams, and Robert E. Howard. I’m a fan of Warhammer 40k. Of course, Mr. Piers Anthony is another. There’s a graphic novel series called Requiem: Vampire Knight that blows me away – done by Pat Mills and Oliver LeDroit. So, from that list, you can get an idea where I’m taking Chuggie. His stories are meant to be nightmarish, gruesome, and profane… but also funny, whimsical, and reverent. All with cosmic resonance. The biggest influence of all, when it comes to Chuggie, is the musical artist known as Tom Waits. In his live shows, he’ll stop between songs and tell these wild stories in his gravel voice. You can find that on YouTube. If they ever make it into a movie, I’d want Tom Waits to play Chuggie.

E: Before you go, what one piece of advice can you give aspiring writers that you wish someone had given you?

B: I wish someone would have told me to shave my head and grow a beard as early as 2004. I was good looking back then, sure. Nobody’s denying that. But I’m GREAT looking now, and I owe it all to shaving my head and growing a beard! As far as writing goes, I’m no expert, but I know a little bit. I advise aspiring writers to get involved with other writers. Try one or more of these: workshops, critique groups, writing forums. Make friends with other writers of all levels. We all have a lot to learn from each other, and you never know how important those connections will end up being.

Thanks a lot for stopping by, Brent.  Oh, and there’s no hard feelings about the crossbow, right?  Brent’s on Facebook, Twitter, and on the web.

New Book Trailer and Website

I’ve talked about my multimedia writing class before.  For part of the class, I had to design and build an online multimedia portfolio.  It’s still in progress, you it’s live so you can check it out.  It has a couple of short stories of mine, so if you’ve ever been tempted to read my fiction instead of the poetry I’ve posted, it’s there.  I plan on adding a couple more stories, but there are two up now.  The coolest feature is the trailer I just made for my book, Celia.

I’m pretty thrilled about the way it turned out.