Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Defining Life

I wrote this after Papa passed away. His pacemaker feigned human life. =/

How does one go about defining life? There are no black and white lines in said subject. The outcome is never as simple as yes, or no. These lines are a muddled grey, marred by tears in some places and worn by time in others. Is one alive if blood is coursing through their veins? What if this was not the result of their biology, but of a machine? A machine meant to save lives that thereafter, feigns life. Would this person be considered living, or deceased? Retaining body heat and  pumping blood are vital aspects of our existence ,but can such processes really define life? If we were to define life by amending the person must be cognizant, we would then automatically be forced to rule out comas and other vegetative states; and unless we are counting on resurrections when coming out of a coma, would they not be considered living? Though without the aid of machines the person will pass on in both cases. Perhaps the distinction between life and death is one of life’s most universal holons. Is it possible to be alive and dead simultaneously? Part of you functioning while the rest of you slowly fades away? Before one begins contemplating the meaning of life, it is vital to outline the parameters, to construct your own definition for what it means to be living…

Jason E Maurer

 This interview is for one of my very best friends Jason E. Maurer. 

Glad to have you on my blog Jason, tell everyone a bit about yourself.  
I never know what to say about myself :-/

Has writing always been a passion of yours, or did you discover it at a later age?
 I've been writing since I was probably about 11 or 12.  It just sort of happened, one day I picked up a laptop and started this ridiculous fantasy.  It has evolved from there.

Do you outline or write as you go?  
In my opinion it's easier to write as I go, create the characters and evolve the story as needed.

What inspires you?  
Everything has the potential for inspiration.  Family, friends, stories you hear from others, dreams, etc.

Do you get inspired by a certain element(Water. Fire. Air. Etc)?  
That's a great question! I've found that if I'm in the middle of a forest, in beautiful Mother Nature, I can write and write and write. I have this secret spot where I can go for ultimate seclusion, near a small waterfall.  It always inspires me and gets my creative juices flowing.  Unfortunately, it's a bit of a distance away, so my visits there are seldom.

Do you listen to music or multitask while writing? 
 For certain stories, I've used music as inspiration.  One of my darker stories revolves around the emotions I've felt from one of my favorite songs.  I've found that playing classical music [Mozart's "Moonlight Sonata" for example] helps the creative process immensely.  If I'm seriously writing, as opposed to just adding random bits and pieces to a work in progress, I usually turn off everything except my music because I don't like distractions.

What is your favorite genre, and least favorite? 
 I enjoy anything, if it's a good read.  I've written a variety of genres, as well.  It all depends upon my mood at the moment.

Who are among your favorite authors?  There are so many amazing authors out there, but my ultimate favorite is Dean Koontz.  His novels never fail to make me think about the world in which we live.  I also like Anne Rice, and of course J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter. I'll read anything if the synopsis sounds good. And of course T.R. Stoddard! [I snuck that one in there, but he actually said it was true. What a great friend!]

What is your favorite piece you’ve written, and what is it about?  
I would have to say my most recent, "Haunted Mind, Confused Heart", because it was a direction I've been leary of going.  It's about a psychotic killer who thinks he will one day rule the world, and the horrors he unleashes on the women he thought of as "girlfriends".

Let’s change things up:

What is a hidden talent of yours? 
 I can tie a cherry stem with my tongue, does that count?

Do you have any animals?  
I used to have a Pug [jack russel/pug mix] but I gave him to a friend because I couldn't keep him after I moved to a smaller place.


TV shows  NCIS, Fringe, The Closer, The Middle, Drop Dead Diva, Glee, Rizzoli & Isles, House.

Movies  I would have to say "Titanic", because I've seen it well over 100 times.

Books  There are several that come to mind: Anything by the authors I previously mentioned, as well as "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver, "The Dogs of Babel" by Carolyn Parkhurst, "The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams, among many, many others.

Animal  Panda, koala, white tigers.

Color  Burgundy

And last but not least, tell us all about your upcoming novel.  
That's difficult to say.  There are several stories I've had in the works, off and on for several years.  You'll just have to wait and see! ;-) 

Contact information

Author Interview: Shelli Johnson

Glad to have you on my blog, tell everyone a bit about yourself.

I'm glad to be here. Thanks so much, Theresa, for having me. I used to be journalist and an editor (well, still am free-lance), but what I mainly write now is novels.

Has writing always been a passion of yours, or did you discover it at a later age?

I've always loved writing. The earliest memory I have of it is writing a story in the first grade & having it be selected by the teacher to be read to the Kindergarten class. I don't even remember what it was about. But I do remember thinking that writing was all I wanted to do.

Do you outline or write as you go?

Write as I go. Outlines don't work for me. What I love most about writing is getting surprised by the story, having it veer off in a direction I never anticipated, never planned for, & so I'm just as shocked as a reader would be about what happened. Anyway, I find that outlining doesn't allow for that in my case. I know too much about what's going to happen, or worse, I don't let the story do what it wants because I'm trying to stick to the outline.

What inspires you?

Music. Certain songs get stuck in my head when I'm working & then they feel like part of the story. When I was writing my novel, SMALL AS A MUSTARD SEED, Tim McGraw's Red Rag Top was playing all the time on the radio and so that song set a kind of tone for the writing in that book. Strange how that happened, but it did. I also love running, which some people think is an oxymoron ~ lol. But after a few miles, it clears my head right out so I can think of ideas and hear the characters instead of my own mind chatter.

Do you get inspired by a certain element(Water. Fire. Air. Etc)? 

I love water. Love it. If I could live in it, I would. I've noticed that when I'm near water, I have an easier time writing. But there's something to be said for fire, too. Nothing like a few blue-tipped flames and some logs turning to ash and caving in on themselves to bring out a story.

Do you listen to music or multitask while writing?

I don't actually. Songs get stuck in my head so I'll be thinking of them while I'm writing, but I don't actually have a radio on. I can't multitask and write. It just doesn't work for me. I have to go in a room and close the email program and ignore the phone/internet/kids/husband/etc. Otherwise, I just get too easily distracted. Wish it weren't that way, but it is. :)

What is your favorite genre, and least favorite?

I'll read just about anything. Favorite is probably horror. I am a zombie fan. But I love literary stuff and fantasy. Anything beautifully written <-- that would be my favorite, some gorgeous language to go along with a great plot. Least favorite is romance, I think. I don't read a lot of it. Although, I did get on a Sidney Sheldon kick for a while one summer and read everything he wrote.

Who are among your favorite authors?

I've been a Stephen King junkie since I was 12. I just read Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell, which is a phenomenal book. I'm currently reading Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, which I have to put down and step away from because it's so well-written that it feels real & the subject matter, suicide, is hard to take. So that's three guys. So women: I love Geneen Roth, who actually writes non-fiction, but she's fabulous. Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird is probably the best book on writing that I've ever read. Okay, fiction ~ anything by Toni Morrison. Poems by Mary Oliver. Jeanette Walls (The Glass Castle ~ memoir) is fantastic.

What is your favorite piece you’ve written, and what is it about?

It's a scene from my second novel. One of the main characters, Helena, is held prisoner in a concentration camp brothel during World War II. Her husband, Oskar, is also in the same camp, but as a prisoner in the barracks on the other end of the compound. That scene is about when they finally see each other after nearly a year apart and Helena realizes her husband is being starved to death and Oskar realizes that his wife is being forced into sexual slavery and they both realize there's little they can do to change any of it. It's a sad scene & I was okay writing it, but it just about broke my heart to read it afterward. Although, as a writer, that always makes me glad: to make somebody feel something so intensely that it sticks with them long after they've closed the book.

Let’s change things up:

What is a hidden talent of yours?

I can swear in French. Comes in handy sometimes. Nobody knows what I'm saying & the words sound really pretty.

Do you have any animals?

Not at the moment, unless you count the occasional snake, lightning bugs, water spiders, frogs, and other assorted things my little boys bring into the house. We had an outdoor cat, but sadly she went missing a while back.


TV shows

Damages ~ love Glenn Close; The Daily Show because Jon Stewart doesn't try to BS anybody; Supernatural because, let's face it, those boys are easy on the eyes; The Walking Dead because it has zombies.


Ocean's Eleven (great acting & a great plot); The Shawshank Redemption (best movie ever, I think ~ about a prison break and based on a Stephen King novella); Blue Valentine (just saw it & thought the story-telling was tremendous); Life is Beautiful (will shatter your heart); Monster's Inc. (yes, a kid's movie but one of the best endings ever); Thelma & Louise (ditto on the ending).


Other than the ones above, here's just a few: Martha Beck (who does motivational stuff, she's hilarious); Terry Brooks (Sword of Shannara series); Clive Barker (horror master); Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games trilogy)


Other than the ones above, here's just a few: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson; Push by Sapphire (excellent, excellent book); East of Eden by John Steinbeck; Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh; The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton





And last but not least, tell us all about your upcoming novel.

Well, it's out now as an eBook. 
PRICE: $2.99
As a child in 1960′s rural Ohio, Ann Marie Adler finds herself caught between her father, Frank, a veteran who survived the war in Korea but with devastating post-traumatic stress, and her mother, Adele, who is blindsided by the mental illness that accompanied him home. In a series of escalating dangerous episodes, Frank confuses reality with soul-searing memories, believing he’s still a soldier fighting for his life in battle-torn Korea. During the delusions, Ann Marie and her younger sister, Jolene, become the enemy, which leaves them fearing for their lives. Unable to fully protect her daughters, Adele scrambles to keep order while her husband’s threatening and unpredictable outbursts slowly tear the family apart.
Contact information.

Author Interview: Devyn Dawson

Glad to have you on my blog, tell everyone a bit about yourself. -- I’m a ninja writer that poses as a mother and wife. My cape is invisible and I don’t announce my mind reading superpower or my lightening fast cat like reflexes. I’m entering my rock star stage of life since I quit my day job to write full time. I no longer have to be main-stream so I wear feathers in my hair and opt for jeans and t-shirt over business suit and stuffy bosses.

Has writing always been a passion of yours, or did you discover it at a later age? Writing has always been a passion but so is my family. I’ve always started books and lost steam at some point and would scrap the story. I’m facing empty nest and have decided to follow my dream… I wouldn’t consider myself later age.

Do you outline or write as you go? I outline my stories now. It helps to stay focused and to know how the story will end. I’m also open to changing the story midstream if I believe it will enhance the end outcome.

What inspires you? When I’m outside, either on the motorcycle or walking my dog(s) I come up with scenes that I may have been stuck on.

Do you get inspired by a certain element(Water. Fire. Air. Etc)? The moon - I love seeing the moon through my treetops. There is usually an owl sitting in a tree and bats flying around - I find it nice and spooky. It is rumored there is a bear that lives behind my property line and has been seen walking in my cul-de-sac and cutting between my house and the neighbor’s house.

Do you listen to music or multitask while writing? I’m extremely A..D.D. - I find it easier to write when no one else is in the house. I like silence and my cat sits with me through every word.

What are your favorite genre, and least favorite? I love young adult and paranormal books. I’ve never read a western but I’m guessing I wouldn’t appreciate it that much.

Who are among your favorite authors? Edgar Allen Poe, J.K. Rowling (I get teary eyed every time I see an interview with her), Richelle Mead, Stephenie Meyer, Kelley Armstrong and Deborah & James Howe (I adored Bunnicula)

What is your favorite piece you’ve written, and what is it about? I’ve written a lot of poetry about my mother’s death - I’ll never share it with the world but it has been very therapeutic.

Let’s change things up:

What is a hidden talent of yours? I can turn a marshmallow inside out.

Do you have any animals? I have 8 pets = 4 dogs two of them have a form of muscular dystrophy and are very handicapped (they are black labs)… 2 birds…. 2 cats.. one of them have a Facebook account Nosey Chattercat… he is snarky and despises the dogs.


TV shows - I watch every vampire show (True Blood, Being Human, Vampire Diaries, Teen Wolf) I also adore American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance.

Movies - Harry Potter movies & anything with Bruce Willis or Will Smith

Books - Anything young adult or paranormal

Color Purple

And last but not least, tell us all about your upcoming novel. I just released ‘The Legacy of Kilkenny’ in June, you can find it on Barnes and Noble, Amazon or Smashwords.
After an incredibly boring summer, Abel Casey was looking forward to his junior year at Piedsville High School in his little town outside of Oklahoma City. But once he sees Pru Phelan, the gorgeous girl with the shiny red hair and piercing grey eyes he knows he is in for trouble. Abel’s boring little life is about to come to an end if Pru has her way. The stunning Pru has a secret to share with Abe, one that will change his life forever. Up until recently werewolf packs have been looking for the Great Wolf, a wolf of legend handed down over hundreds of years from Kilkenny Ireland. Her secret is she is a werewolf, and her secret is now his too. Abel learns that all the tales of werewolves and vampires is real and he is the wolf they have been searching for. To protect his destiny and his family the pack begins training him for his first shift, without a hold on to his humanity can cause him to shift to a werewolf and never return to his human form.

Abel is torn between the family he has grown up with and the pack that claims he is the one of Celtic lore. Pru’s mentor and bodyguard Oakley is the one that her heart craves but she fears he has feelings for her friend Josie. Pru’s father the alpha wants her to stay focused on her assignment and forbids the two from becoming lovers and he threatens to remove Oakley from the pack if Pru can’t stay focused. Everything is going as planned until Abel’s sassy and moody sister Allie starts hanging out with an aggravating vampire Arien. Arien knows the pack’s secret and plans to expose them if he doesn’t get his way. This story of friendship, family, love and betrayal will leave the reader breathless and someone dead.

The Legacy of Kilkenny an incredible journey for these young adults. The reader will be drawn into this romantic yet invigorating story of friends and lovers. The prophecy has been stated, now it will be lived.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


This is something I wrote a few years back. Considering going someplace with it. Let me know what you think.

Birds singing, sun shining, and alarm clock ringing awoke me this morning. It seemed
like any other day, but in the pit of my stomach I knew today would be the day that would change
my life forever. My morning started out like any other. Got out of bed. Went to the bathroom.
Showered. Made  breakfast. Brushed my teeth. When I finished my morning routine there was
just enough time to catch the bus.

Once on the bus, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I wondered why today felt like it
would be a significant one. Johnny, my best friend for as long as I can remember, was there to lend an ear as I  told him of my strange inkling. After the uneventful bus ride I arrived at school. I walked through the halls expecting wonder and excitement to jump out at me from every corner… anticipating some momentous meeting with someone or something. However, this was not the case. I spent the entire day waiting for something special to transpire, even though this meant not paying attention in any of my classes. To my frustration, school was just as uneventful as the ride to school had been.

I boarded the bus with a certain eagerness about me, yearning to experience some sort of
life-altering event that my intuition whispered was on my horizon. After a lackluster ride home, I
was starting to question whether or not my gut feeling from this morning had any veracity to it.
Focusing on homework was proving to be quite the task as my mind was racing fast enough to be
in a marathon. Trying to clear my thoughts I picked up my guitar to play something, restlessly fingered the strings and put it away. Nothing seemed to get my mind of that surreal feeling from
this morning.

Mom and Dad got home late today, so our dinner consisted of food trying to pass itself
off as pizza. At dinner I said little because it felt silly to bring up my feelings from this morning,
not to mention how disappointed I was that nothing of importance had occurred. Luckily, Dad’s
presentation at work had gone quite well and he was talking a mile a minute. Mom had a normal,
but busy day at work. Between bites of the poor excuse for pizza she congratulated him.

Sighing inwardly at my let-down of a day I cleared the table and started on my other
chores. Thus far taking out the trash had been the most exciting aspect of my day. Mom asked me
to check the mail, and little did I know what was in store for me once I did. While at the mailbox
I went through the mail as I normally do. Bill. Bill. Junk. Bill. Junk. Then an envelope without a
postmark caught my eye. On the outside in fancy print it was addressed to me. I slid it in the
pocket of my tripp pants and gave the remainder of the mail to my parents.

It was a rare occasion for me to get mail except around the holidays, so I was excited to
see a letter addressed just to me. After running up the stairs I went to my room and opened the
letter. This is what it said…

Dearest Tarek,

What you will read in this letter will be hard to swallow at first…but in time you will understand why it had to be this way. I am writing you to tell you a little about your past in turn changing your future. Your parents were sworn to secrecy when they adopted you. I’m quite positive they have wanted to tell you for so long. I am your Mother. This has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I’ve wanted to make contact with you for years. You come from the beautiful country of Alzagnia. Not only is that where you were born, you are Alzagnian royalty. Your Father has recently passed away and you are the only male heir eligible for the throne. Let me explain why we had to give you up. Alzagnia was being attacked by Calzatta, a neighboring nation. Every time a potential heir was born they found a way to kill them. We had you in secrecy and hidden with a nice respectable family. I know this is short notice, Tarek. Your country needs you…I need you. Within this envelope is everything you need. Including the plane ticket…so pack your things and explain only to your closest friends and family. The arrangements will have already been made by the time this letter reaches you. This isn‘t goodbye. You will be seeing your friends and family. You are going to be king. They can surely come to your coronation. See you soon. I will explain everything else and answer all of your questions in person.


Once I read the letter I was hit by wave after wave of conflicting emotions. Amazement.
Anger. Fury. Excitement. Happiness. Depression. Anxiousness. The list could go on forever. I
held the plane ticket in my hand and stared at it for quite some time, waiting for it all to sink in.
I had so many questions. Why me? What made me so special? Why were my parents sworn to
secrecy? How would I rule a country? How could I be a king? What would Johnny think? I tried
once again to clear my mind.

In the bathroom I splashed cold water on my face to try and wake from this dream-like
state. Either this was a dream within a dream or it was the real thing, because when I looked at
my bed the letter and plane ticket were exactly where I had left them. I spent quite some time just
staring in the mirror. Pale skin. Tall. Dull grey eyes. Wiry brown hair. Skinny. Tight shirt. Tripp
pants. Chains. Gauged ears. Converse. I didn’t exactly scream royalty or king material. I’m just a
normal eighteen year old boy, I had thought to myself. I’m not even popular in my high school. How am I going to get the respect of an entire country? I guess this was the cause of my gut feeling from this morning.

I moodily stormed into the family room and confronted my parents. With a knowing
look they had shaken there heads and apologized for the secrecy, assuring me that it was for
“my own good”. I told them the news and they took it well, we had a family embrace and then
they urged me to go pack. I told them I loved them even though they’ve been lying to me for
the past eighteen years of my life and went upstairs to pack my things.

The problem was I didn’t know what to bring and what not to bring. What would a king
need? I was sure that my wants and needs would be well taken care of in “Alzagnia”. So I
decided to only pack personal items, a few clothes and some other sentimental things. While I
was packing I called Johnny and attempted to explain to him what was going on. I said my other
necessary goodbyes and finished packing.

This journal is helping me to collect my thoughts as well as to record them. I was surely
correct this morning when I felt something important was going to go down. Little did I know
it meant I was going to be a KING. Its like I don’t even have a say in the matter. I don’t want
to leave, but my country needs me. My plane leaves tomorrow. I need to sleep now…

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Raven and the Writing Desk

The Raven and the Writing Desk

   A short story by T. R. Stoddard

One seemingly bleak December Adam found a fallen tree in the Aves Forest, the prize tree for carving; trees like this were special, far and few between. He spied the fallen cherry oak and went back to his home at the edge of the Aves Forest to fetch his trusty axe. When he returned, axe in hand, the tree couldn’t be seen because it was covered entirely by a flock of ravens. He tried to shoo the birds away with a feigned sweep of his axe, but they didn’t so much as ruffle a feather. Once more he brought his axe up and made a dramatic sweeping motion in the air, closer yet to the ravens. But nothing, they didn’t make a move. He lowered his axe and approached the birds, reaching his hand out to see if they’d budge this time. Nothing still. He reached out and stroked the Raven with the back of his hand, but the flock remained seemingly paralyzed. He gingerly plucked a tail feather from the raven he touched and withdrew his hand with particular speed. However, the flock and the plucked bird did nothing.

Today was obviously not his day to retrieve his prized wood; there was always tomorrow, or the next day, or the next. Living on the edge of the forest had its advantages, sooner or later, that tree would be his. He would finally have the last piece in his furniture set—a writing desk. He retreated from the army of ravens, feeling slightly defeated but also determined. He stashed the feather in his pocket and walked the 200-something yards to his house. When he entered his cozy abode, he took off his heavy coats and sat by his fireplace. He looked and dressed similarly to a lumberjack, but he would never consider such a violent profession. They robbed the forest of its trees; Adam had never done that in his life. He’d simply gone in and cleaned up after fallen trees. His work was good, and it was pure. Not like those tree hungry lumberjacks that he’d had the misfortune of running into more times than he’d care to remember.
Although he cared not to remember he did exactly the opposite:

It had been years ago, he was just a boy at the time when he had first run across those dastardly lumberjacks. He had been in the forest a few acres away from his childhood home, gathering good sticks to whittle, these were his pre wood working days. His family had been wood-workers for as long as there was written record of them, and before that stories were passed down from one O’Brian to the next. Adam had gathered a decent sized bundle of whittle-worthy sticks when he heard the cacophonous whir and grind of a chainsaw for the first time. And then he saw them: big, burly, hairy, chainsaw toting men. A few women were among them but they blended in with the men flawlessly.
Adam had always heard stories of these people, coming into forests and wreaking havoc with their power tools, but he never dreamt he’d encounter them in person. They came to defile the forest and to destroy Mother Nature. Adam had always been taught never to kill a living thing unless it was in defense or for survival. He cringed as he heard the astringent sound of screeching metal on wood and watched in horror as the Jacks made quick work of the once beautiful forest. He wanted to say something, to stop them—but lumberjacks weren’t renowned for their kindness or understanding. He stayed quiet, silently strengthening his vow never to ruin nature in such an indifferent, careless manner.
He watched as each tree went speeding toward the ground, impacting with a resonating thud. Breaking branches, crunching leaves and thud after thud could be heard with each impact. They were approaching, one fallen natural monument at a time. He saw a nest next to one of the newly fallen trees and feared the worst for the inhabitants of it, if there were any. Not caring about the lumberjacks, Adam made his way to the nest. There was more bad news than good, but at least there was some good. A family of birds had occupied it. Two large black birds and one baby black bird were dead, but there was a smaller black bird that made it. They appeared to be ravens; he put his sticks down and picked up the nest, carefully placing the baby bird back in it. The lumberjacks noticed him doing this and they all turned their saws off and crowded around him.

One of the women (if you can call them that) sneered and said “Ohh did we kill some precious little birdies? That’s too bad.” She rudely laughed as she said it. One of the men said “It’s a shame we didn’t get them all, better luck next time, eh fellas?” They all joined in with a sort of grunt that he guessed meant that they agreed. The wind whispered a gentle thanks before it began to roar with a vengeance at the merciless lumberjacks. Adam took his coat off and sheltered the baby bird as the wind joined with the rain, thunder, and lightning to deliver Karma at its finest. Not a foot away from the lumberjacks lightning intensely cracked and set a dead log aflame. When they heard the sound, they all jumped, and one of the men’s clothes was alight.

The fire made quick work of his garments and he was left freezing and unclothed in the unforgiving conditions. Adam should have hurried home, but he sat and watched in delight as Karma was dealt out. At that every last one of them dropped their chainsaws and ran off from the site of the lightning strike, and as soon as they left the weather turned beautiful again. Normally, Adam would have never dreamed of stealing or destroying someone else’s property, but these people made his young blood boil. He would be back to fetch these chainsaws after he saw to it that the raven was properly taken care of.

He made the short trek to his home and brought the baby bird inside with him, determined to care for it until it was old enough to care for itself. He debated showing his mother, but he figured she would know best how to take care of it. Even if she didn’t want the bird in the house, he knew she wouldn’t have the heart to leave the orphaned bird in the cold, alone and uncared for. “Ma, I’m home, I brought a baby bird with me. The lumberjacks cut the tree down and this little guy is the only one who survived. Can we keep him? Without us he will surely die.” He pleaded to his Mom at the kitchen table.
“I’m so proud to have a boy like you, you know right from wrong. Let me see the bird, Adam.” 

He gently handed his mother the nest with the baby bird in it, concern radiating from his chocolate brown eyes. Unkempt ash hair swept over his forehead and freckles kissed his cheeks. He was normally a happy kid, his soft pink lips always smiling, but at the moment they were creased with worry. “Is he going to be okay, Ma?” he asked timidly. “Yes dear, he’s lucky you came along. Those lumberjacks will get what they have coming to them.” He couldn’t help but laugh when his mother said this and his face brightened up with the smile that normally calls his face home.

"What’s so funny, Adam?” “The lumberjacks did get what was coming to them. I had my coat over the baby bird and it started raining and then a log got hit by lightning! Then one of the lumberjacks caught on fire and it burned all his clothes off! They were all so scared they all ran away!” He laughed again, recalling the incident. “Are you okay?” she asked sounding worried. “Yes Ma, I’m fine.” Knowing that her son was fine, she allowed herself some laughter over the fate of the lumberjacks. “Why don’t you go outside and look for some bugs and worms that we can grind up for him so he can get something to eat.” “Okay Ma.”

Adam remembered the chainsaws and ran back in to ask his mother if his father could help him get the chainsaws so the lumberjacks couldn’t get them. “Normally I would say no, stealing is wrong after all, but what they did is worse than that. They deserve to have to work even harder to do their disservice to nature. When Dad gets home I’m sure he’ll help you get them.” He was slightly shocked by his mother’s answer and said “Thanks Ma.” and went back outside to find food for his bird. He went to the side of the house and found a particularly moist patch of dirt that looked like a worm haven. He began digging and hit the jackpot. He found three worms and various bugs and he’d only been out there a few minutes. He ran back in as fast as he could so that the baby bird could eat.
“Adam, will you watch the bird while I go get a syringe for it to drink from?”
“Sure thing Ma, where do you want the bugs and worms?”
“Just set them in the bowl on the counter sweetie.”

He went back to sitting at the kitchen table with his bird. “I need to name you something. Something special, because you’re special. How about Lightning?” The baby bird made a noise. “Lightning it is. I can tell we’re going to be best friends, Lightning. Mom is looking for something for you to drink, and we have your food. You’re going to like it here.” The bird made another chirping sound like he agreed.
His mother came down the stairs holding a syringe full of water. “Look, Ma got you some water.”
“His name is Lightning, Ma. When will his worms be ready?”
“I just need to mash them up.” 

She went to work mashing bugs and worms, not the most glamorous job, but it was vital to Lightning’s survival. “Come here and watch me so you know what you’re doing, he’s going to be your responsibility.” He made sure Lightning couldn’t fall out of the nest and then went over to the counter to watch his mother. “Ew, gross.” he exclaimed as he looked at the bowl of mush. “What did you expect, strawberry pie?”
“I guess not. Lightning will probably like it as much as I like strawberry pie though.”
“Probably. Here, watch what I do.”
She went over to lightning and offered him the syringe. Instinctively he stretched his head up and opened his mouth wide. She squirted a bit of water in and waited before giving him anything to eat. She grimaced slightly and grabbed a finger full of worm goo. Lightning eagerly took the goo like it was the best thing in the world, and to him, it probably was.
“Do you think you can do it, Adam? Were you watching?” He was watching his mother the entire time. “Yes Ma, I was watching. Should I give him some more water or just more food?” 
“Try giving him some food first, and then go for the water.”

He grabbed a small glop of worm goo and was disgusted by how it felt, but it was worth it to help Lightning, who ate it with no problem and eagerly drank some of the water from the syringe. “I think you’re going to fit in here just fine Lightning!” He carefully picked up the nest with Lightning in it and asked his mother if lightning could sleep in his room. “Sure. Just make sure he’s in the middle of your dresser. We don’t want him falling off.” He carefully climbed the stairs, making sure the baby bird was securely in the nest. He set him in the middle of his dresser and was glad he was able to help the bird.

“Adam, your father’s home. You should go ask him about those chainsaws before it gets too late.” Adam told Lightning he’d be back soon and trampled down the stairs to go meet his father. “Dad! Will you help me get the chainsaws? Some lumberjacks were ruining the whole forest and the birds fell out of the tree but Lightning survived and the lumberjack caught on fire and then they all ran and they left their chainsaws.”
“Easy now, kiddo, breathe. Does your mother know?” The furrow between his eyebrows grew deeper with suspicion. “Yes, she told me to ask you. She’s okay with it. She said normally she wouldn’t be but they’re bad people and deserve what they get. This way they can’t cut down the forest as soon.”

“Okay, okay. Tell you what. Let me get a glass of lemonade and then we can go get their chainsaws. What exactly do you want to do with them, Adam? I’m not exactly comfortable with my seven year old playing with chainsaws.”
“No, no Dad. I don’t want them for me. I don’t care what we do with them as long as those mean lumberjacks don’t have them. I’ll be waiting for you.” Adam sat on the wrap-around porch while his father poured himself a cool glass of lemonade.
His father came back out and said “On second thought, son. That’s a man’s job. How about your Uncle Shaw and I go and do that and you go play with your bird.”
“Okay Dad, as long as the lumberjacks don’t get them I don’t care what happens.”
“I’ll be up to see your bird when I’m done. I can’t wait to see him.”

Adam rushed back to his room to be with his bird, which was still safely in the nest in the middle of his dresser. Before long his Dad made his way up to see the bird. “Now what have we here?” his father approached Lightning. “His name is Lightning, Dad.”
“That’s a strange name for a bird, why lightning?”
“Because of the lightning we saw hit the ground. He liked the name.”
Lightning gave another chirp of approval and his father looked amused. “Lightning is welcome to stay as long as he wants, he’s part of the family. But he might want to leave us when he’s old enough to fly, birds generally leave their nest pretty early, and this might not be an exception. “I know, Dad. I’m just glad I saved him.”
“What a trooper. I’m glad to have you as my son, Adam.” And with that he walked out of the room leaving the boy and his bird.

The pair of them grew up together, day after day, Lightning growing more rapidly than Adam. He stuck around longer than birds typically do in the wild, and the pair was inseparable. The two of them had a special bond. This went on until the O’Brians had to move: with all the commotion from moving, Lightning flew off and didn’t show back up in time for the move. Adam was absolutely devastated and tried desperately to put his beloved friend and companion out of his mind completely.

He stared at the crackling fire. That’d been the first time in many, many years that Adam had thought about Lighting. He missed that bird; the move was the worst thing that had ever happened to him. He continued to stare aimlessly into the fire when it hit him. Lightning was a raven, and the flocks of birds in the forest were ravens too. Could they possibly be connected? It was all too strange. Just then his bloodhound, Storm, pulled him from his thoughts with a soulful howl. “Alright buddy, I’ll feed you.” He made his way to the pantry and scooped some dry food for his canine companion. “Here ya go. I’m going to head back out. I’ll be back.” He put his coats back on and headed back outside to take another look at the tree.

When he made it to the site of the tree only a single Raven remained and a pile of perfect feathers were spread around the tree. 
“Lightning!? It can’t be. It simply can’t. Do ravens even live this long?”
“You saved me many years ago, all of the ravens in this forest feel a strong connection to you. I am here to answer a question that has alluded so many for quite some time. It has remained a secret between the trees of the forest and all of raven-kind. By saving me all those year ago you have been renowned by all of the ravens that I have had the opportunity to tell of your heroics. You are sort of a hero in the raven community. “
“Lightning. You’re talking to me. How can you possibly be talking to me? You’re a…you’re a…well…a bird.”

“We can all talk, Adam. We are just selective as to who we reveal our secrets to. You can never be too careful who you tell. Most humans would reveal our secrets and make carnival acts out of us.”
“I would never…that’s something someone like a lumberjack would do.” He sounded outraged that people among his species would sell someone, or some bird out like that so quickly.
“We know that, Adam, and that’s why I am going to tell you the answer to the age old question. You may pass the knowledge and a finding off as your own, it is the least we could do to repay your valiant efforts in the forest that day.”
“I wasn’t expecting anything for doing it. I’m just glad I could save you, I wish I could have saved the others.” his face was full of remorse.
“At least you saved me. And you took the chainsaws away from those lumberjacks. You are a good human, Adam.”
“Thanks Lightning. I’d do all of this again in a heartbeat if I could.”
“Now let me get started and I will tell you why a raven is like a writing desk:”

            Trees and ravens have had a symbiotic relationship ever since they began occupying the same forests. The mighty tree has always provided the raven with shelter and in turn the ravens help take care of the tree. Ravens often warded off dangerous plants, animals, and humans—keeping the tree safe. This pairing has proved to be beneficial for both parties. This is the story of the pact made by the first of the ravens and the first of the trees.

            The time of the story isn't entirely known. It happened well before the written word, and stories evolve. According to the trees and the ravens, the time itself doesn't matter. It is all about the lesson one takes from it. Somewhere around the beginning of forest life as we know it there was Arthur the Oak Tree and Remington the Raven. The forest was still new and it was prime time to form alliances, and none of the forest creatures were wasting any time. They all hoped they'd never have to depend on their alliances for back-up; but Grayson, the groundhog prophet spoke of a day where their home would be invaded. They would all have to work together to remain safe in case the legendary "human" monster was actually real.
          Arthur and Remington were the best of friends- they spent nearly all their time together except for when Remington was off getting food. As soon as he finished hunting, he brought it back to keep Arthur company. His roots ran deep, so he could never leave the spot he'd sprouted in. Remington wasn't the only raven making friends with the trees, it had been sanctioned by the tribes that they all pair up. Many others paired up, but no bond as strong as that between a tree and the raven or ravens that kept it company.
          In exchange for the company, the trees would provide the ravens with shelter. The ravens would ward off any unwanted animal, mineral, or vegetable. It was the perfect pairing. Remington and the other ravens his age began to die off, but the trees were left behind to thrive. Remington's family were all loyal to Arthur, and they kept him company, and thus each raven family had a tree it always returned to. Birds of a feather flock together, and all go back to their family tree. The two are fated to always be together in one form or another.
            "Wow." Adam said, half-amazed and completely honored that they would share their secrets
with him.
      "I'm glad you liked it, Adam. That wasn't just a story. We sadly just lost Arthur, he's been a part of my family since the beginning of everything." Lightning said, proud and somber at the same time.
"You mean, that's...Arthur?" he said dumb-founded.
          "Yes. There were only a few descendants of Remington left, myself  being one of them. You helped me carry on the family. We were destined to be with Arthur until the end."
            "Wow. I'm so sorry..." Adam said, sadness sweeping over him.
            "Don't be, you made it so that the Remington family could be with him until the end, like we wanted to be, and don't fret. Arthur too has descendants, a sapling not far from where he sprouted," the raven said with hope.
            And then he was gone.
            Adam woke up in his bed, unsure if what he had experienced was a dream or reality. He couldn't recall getting to his bed. The sun shone brightly through the window, he'd obviously slept off the rest of the afternoon and the evening. He got up, fed Storm, and went back out to see the fallen cherry oak once more.
          The dream had felt so vivid, if it was a dream. He still had his doubts, but it didn't make any sense. Talking birds? Legendary trees and forest animals and groundhogs named Grayson? It was all too strange, but somehow it felt real. Shockingly real. This feeling was confirmed when he approached the tree and saw the mass of feathers around the fallen oak. The descendants of Arthur, they were protecting him--even in death. They had all flocked around and wouldn't budge for anything. The story seemed more and more real by the second. It made sense that they would protect someone, or some tree that had been part of their lives (and their descendants’ lives) for so long.

            By saving Lightning, he had earned the right to incorporate Arthur into his own life and the life of his family by  making a table out of Arthur. What better way to honor the life of such a great tree than to make something out of him, something that would unite him with his family. It was far better than letting him sit in the forest and rot. He went back to his house, grabbed his ax, and began turning Arthur into the perfect writing desk.

           It took Adam a lot of time and hard work to fashion an amazing writing desk out of Arthur. After the last bit of polishing he set a handful of feathers into a cup and set it on the writing desk. Now, whenever anyone would ask why a raven is like a writing desk, he would know. Not only would he know, but he would be a part of the magic.

           And he would never tell anyone, and instead keep it as his own: an untainted, unspoiled, unbelievable secret.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Special Birthday Author Interview: R. P. Steeves

It is R. P. Steeves birthday today! So everyone wish him well by leaving a comment on his awesome interview!

Glad to have you on my blog, tell everyone a bit about yourself.
R. P. STEEVES has been writing in just about every format imaginable since he was a child. He's written short stories,
newspaper columns, stage plays and even a radio drama. Now he has written his first urban fantasy novel about an
adventurous, sarcastic and mysterious woman known only as Misty Johnson, whose mission in life is to uncover the truth
that hides in the supernatural underbelly of Washington DC.

Rich was born and raised in Connecticut, has a Master's degree in education, and taught middle school for nine years. He
enjoys solving puzzles, rollerblading, watching movies and has recently taken up archery. He looks forward to chronicling the
further adventures of Misty Johnson and her band of supernatural misfits.

Has writing always been a passion of yours, or did you discover it at a later age?
I have been writing since elementary school. I can remember filling notebooks with ideas for comic books (even including some truly awful sketches to demonstrate some ideas. I am not much of a visual artist). I’ve been writing for fun throughout my life, but decided to get serious about getting my work published a few years ago.

Do you outline or write as you go?
A little of both. I have an overall outline for the entire work, with story beats laid out and character arcs plotted, but I like to give my characters a chance to surprise me, or give myself an opportunity to follow an unexpected plot twist that might grow out of a particular scene. I think of it as having a song planned out, with a few places for improv solos when the opportunity arises.

What inspires you?

I find that creativity inspires creativity. When I see or hear something really interesting or different, whether a painting or song or anything, it spurs me on. I also love to people watch. I observe people and collect mannerisms or speech patterns or styles of dress and look for ways to incorporate that into my writing.

Do you get inspired by a certain element(Water. Fire. Air. Etc)? 

In my latest work, I think the element of Earth has had the most influence on me, as you can see in the character of the golems, who I researched.
But in the second book in the Misty Johnson series, water definitely has a prominent role in the story, and will going forward, so I am kind of locked in to that element right now.

Do you listen to music or multitask while writing?
I don’t usually listen to music while writing, but sometimes I have the television on. Game shows keep my company and (mostly) sane.

What is your favorite genre, and least favorite? 
I love science fiction the most (though fantasy and mystery are close). My least favorite is probably Romance, but perhaps only because I haven’t been exposed to a lot of quality work in the genre.

Who are among your favorite authors?
A long list, but some favorites are: Agatha Christie, George R. R. Martin, Michael Connolly, Jasper Fforde, Christopher Moore, Anton Strout, Jim Butcher, Jodi Picoult, Peter David and Carrie Vaughn.

What is your favorite piece you’ve written, and what is it about?
My favorite work has to be the radio drama I created, wrote, directed produced and once (reluctantly) acted in when I was in college. It was called College Daze, and was about a group of students who attended the fictional James K. Polk University and also starred in a Peter Engel-style show within a show Alma Matters. It lasted for two seasons and was tremendous fun to work on.

Let’s change things up:

What is a hidden talent of yours?
I am able to balance soda cans on a jaunty angle without spilling a drop.

Do you have any animals?
I have a pet sun conure (Parrot) named Zoe!

TV shows:

I love TV, so I have a lot of favorites here. Among them are: The Muppet Show, Seinfeld, Cheers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, LOST, Angel, Alias, Veronica Mars, Survivor, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire…

Again, lots of choices here! The Muppet Movie, Empire Strikes Back, Rope, Memento, Raiders of the Lost Ark, North by Norhtwest, Princess Bride, Shawshank Redemption, Rear Window, Casablanca

A long list, but some favorites are: Agatha Christie, George R. R. Martin, Michael Connolly, Jasper Fforde, Christopher Moore, Anton Strout, Jim Butcher, Jodi Picoult, Peter David and Carrie Vaughn.


Again, a long list but: And then There were None, The Poet, The Things They Carried, Dubliners, The Wild Cards Series, Nineteen Minutes, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, A Year of Living Biblically, The Eyre Affair, Bloodsucking Fiends.


Pacific Teal

And last but not least, tell us all about your upcoming novel.

Coming soon is the second installment of the Misty Johnson Series, subtitled… The National Maul. Picking up from the events of Capitol Hell, Misty must deal with the ramifications of the mystical forces at work in the federal government while the new member of her staff investigates the mystery of Misty herself. Meanwhile, zombies and werewolves are fighting for control of the supernatural underworld and seemingly everyone in Washington DC is after the one magical item that will give its owner control over both time and space. Plus, Misty must contend with a haunted movie theater, vampire puberty, a heist at the Air and Space Museum, a lazy landlord and some serious issues with her toilet….

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Author Interview: Brea Essex

Glad to have you on my blog, tell everyone a bit about yourself.

My name is Brea Essex. I’m 29, married, and I live in California. I’m a former Medical Assistant and I’m currently back in school studying English.

Has writing always been a passion of yours, or did you discover it at a later age?

I’ve been saying that I’ve been writing since I was ten. However, my mother recently reminded me that I was making up stories with my spelling words when I was eight. So, I suppose that’s when the writing bug bit me.

Do you outline or write as you go?

I do a little of both. I write a basic outline and then have at it. My first drafts are always quite messy. I tend to write out of order and then tie things together.

What inspires you?

Lots of things: music, movies, nature, friends . . . the list goes on.

Do you get inspired by a certain element (Water. Fire. Air. Etc)?

I’d have to say water. I love going to the ocean. In fact, one of my series is set in a coastal town that I used to live in.

Do you listen to music or multitask while writing?

I absolutely multitask! I listen to music a lot of the time when I write. I have a playlist for each book/series I work on.

What is your favorite genre, and least favorite?

My favorite genre is epic fantasy, and has been since I was thirteen. I also really love YA paranormal, which is what I mainly write. Least favorite? I’d have to say horror, but only because scary book/movies give me horrible nightmares.

Who are among your favorite authors?

David Eddings is my all-time favorite author. I also love Jennifer Roberson, CS Lewis, Kelley Armstrong, Richelle Mead . . . this is another list that could go on forever!

What is your favorite piece you’ve written, and what is it about?

I actually really like everything I’ve written, even though my character might send me into fits while I’m writing! My current favorite is my WIP, OUROBOROS. It’s a YA urban fantasy about a necromancer and a demon hunter.
Let’s change things up:

What is a hidden talent of yours?

I love anything artistic. I like to sew, crochet, make jewelry, etc.

Do you have any animals?

Yes. I have three cats and a dog.


TV shows

I love Friends and Gilmore Girls. Currently airing favorites include The Vampire Diaries, Being Human, Being Erica (a Canadian show) and Merlin (a British show). I also love anime, especially Sailor Moon and Avatar: The Last Airbender.


The Prestige, Easy A, Legally Blonde, Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Pride and Prejudice, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and pretty much anything with Hugh Jackman!


The Belgariad and The Mallorean series by David Eddings, The Chronicles of the Cheysuli by Jennifer Roberson, The Darkest Powers series by Kelley Armstrong, the Apprentice Adept series by Piers Anthony, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.


Cats. Always cats. If we’re talking fantasy creatures here, I’d say dragons.


Teal and emerald green.

And last but not least, tell us all about your upcoming novel.

I’m currently working on two series, The Shadow Imperium series and the Zayin Chronicles. Here are the blurbs for the first novels of each series:

FORESHADOW (Book One of The Shadow Imperium):
Imagine discovering that your boyfriend was out to kill you—and that the annoying boy from school was your guardian angel.

Rae Davenport has already lost her mother.  The only thing keeping her sane is her new boyfriend, Andrei—that is, until she finds out that he wants to kill her.  Andrei is a devil, and he wants to use Rae as a sacrifice to get back into Heaven.  The only one who can save her is Logan, her guardian angel.  He’s only annoyed her in the past, but now he will be her savior.

OUROBOROS (Book One of The Zayin Chronicles):
Imagine waking up in the hospital to find someone in your room that only you could see.
When seventeen-year-old Rhiannon wakes from a coma after a rock-climbing accident, she finds a strange guy in her room.  He seems to be invisible to everyone—and he needs her help.
Zac is a Zayin, one of an elite fighting team.  The problem is:  he’s dead.  He needs Rhiannon’s help to find his body so he can stop the self-proclaimed Prince of Death—The Necrovorst. Can they stop The Necrovorst before he unleashes his demons and destroys the world?

Contact information:

Twitter: @BreaEssex

 Also, Brea has just informed me that her novel Foreshadow was picked up last week by Astraea Press!

Author Interview: Dorothy Stacy

 Glad to have you on my blog Dorothy, tell everyone a bit about yourself.
.--- “My mission is to present history to children in a fun and interesting way.”~Dorothy Stacy
   was born and brought up in Utica, New York . I now live in Sauquoit in a 200-year-old house on 4 acres of land. I hane 8 grown children and 21 grandchildren. I was an elementary school teacher  for 13 years before I retired in 2006. I have a Masters Degree in Reading and Elementary Education from Cortland College. This is my seventh career. I started out as a mail clerk,  a Bank Teller, made and sold quilted items, was a mother, an elementary school teacher, and now an Author, Illustrator,  and Publisher. I sold articles to a magazine in past. These are my first novels. I published ERIE CANAL COUSINS in 2007, THREE WEEKS IN UTICA in 2008, ALBANY HOMECOMING in 2009, CANAL TOWN CHRISTMAS in 2010, There will be one more book in the Series.
    My business is Blackberry Hill Press, publisher of my books. I also did the illustrations in the books, some patterned after my children and grandchildren. Some of my books have traveled as far as California, Florida, Oregon, Maine, New Hampshire, Minnesota, North Carolina, Washington, Canada, and England.

Has writing always been a passion of yours, or did you discover it at a later age?
---I have been writing since I was 7 years old. I always loved to write. But hesitated to spend too much time doing it as the chances were so slim of getting published. I wrote little stories in a notebook based on my experiences called, The Adventures of Rosemary, when I was that age. I wrote soap operas when I was in grade school during class and never got caught.

Do you outline or write as you go?
---I actually do both.  I outline the chapters slightly, but it’s  much more fun to  write as I go. Sometimes the characters change parts of the story on me or tell me where it’s all going.
What inspires you?  ---My husband when he was alive. He sort of pushed me into self-publishing my first book and encouraged me all the way. He patiently listened to all my chapters as I wrote them and even went out and sold a lot of my books for me. Now, talking to other authors and my friends at SparkPeople are my inspiration.

Do you get inspired by a certain element(Water. Fire. Air. Etc)?
Water since most of my stories take place on the Erie Canal

Do you listen to music or multitask while writing?
---No never. I am totally absorbed in writing when I write. Hours can go by and I’ll never notice it when I am writing.

What is your favorite genre, and least favorite?
--- Most favorite- romantic fiction with a good story behind it. I also like young adult fiction, and some non-fiction books Least Favorite-Westerns, very violent books with unsavory language.

Who are among your favorite authors?
---I like Danielle Steele., Debbie Macomber, Beth Wiseman, James Patterson, Elizabeth Berg,

What is your favorite piece you’ve written, and what is it about?
-----I’ve been writing my Erie Canal Cousins  Series for the last 5 years so I guess it would be one of my books, Three Weeks in Utica- Book 2 It is historical fiction about a 13 year old girl who stays with her Aunt Jenny in Utica for 3 weeks in the summer of 1840 to help her with her 4 young children. She goes to a frolic at a mansion , makes a friend who lives next door who has a brother that she likes. She also learns how to make butter, quilt, and such things.

Let’s change things up:
What is a hidden talent of yours?
 Quilting, Crocheting

Do you have any animals? No. I’m very allergic to cats and a little to dogs

TV shows
--- Days of our Lives, Young and the Restless

Movies---I don’t go much.

Authors--- Danielle Steele., Debbie Macomber, Beth Wiseman, James Patterson, Elizabeth Berg 

Books---Daughters of Promise Series,  Dear America Series

Animal---don't have one

Color--- RED

And last but not least, tell us all about your upcoming novel.
My newest book is STARS OVER BUFFALO-Book 5 in my Erie Canal Cousins Series. This is historical fiction for middle readers up to adults and it will come out in November of 2011. In it, Rose Steward travels on the Erie Canal to Buffalo with her Cousins and sees such sights as Niagara Falls, the Genesee Aqueduct. Lockport. They have many adventures on the boat.