Sunday, January 29, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - Lilith

Alex’s entire body thrummed suddenly with a current of electricity that trilled through her gut and sliced off her words.  Her being pulsed with the throb of demon recognition.  She turned, knowing what had stepped into the room.  She still gasped when she saw him.
The demi-demon's sheer size stunned her.  The top of her head was level with his broad chest.

Now Under Contract, Release Date to be Determined

Friday, January 27, 2012

First Four Friday - Lilith

Chapter 5

“The mayor's nephew was found dead in his office last night,” Colwyn said as he drew close.  He stopped a few feet away from Alex.  “An autopsy revealed nothing, so they ruled it a heart attack.   He was only in his late twenties and in good physical condition.”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Terrified Toddler: My First Haunted House

Yes, I believe in ghosts.  I have good reason to, having lived in at least two haunted houses.  The first of these my family moved into when I was only two.

Having been so young, my memories of that converted garage rental in Newport, North Carolina, are spotty for the most part.  I remember the day the stove caught on fire and my mom carrying me out.  I remember there was a swingset in the back yard.  All the rest of my memories from that place are of the strange things I saw and the terror I felt living there.

I don’t recall telling my mother that witches were trying to get me.  She remembers it well though, and I was convincing enough in my fear to have her put a cross necklace around my neck.  She prayed fervently over me that God would keep me safe from whatever made me scream at night.  That what made me run from one room to another, searching for protection, would leave me alone.

What I do remember was my tiny bedroom after dark, lit by the cheerfully smiling face painted on my nightlight.  This bizarre room had a habit of changing size and proportions before my confused stare.  The corner of my room, only two feet away from the foot of my bed, would suddenly stretch several yards away.  My bedroom door was so far as to be unreachable should something pounce out of the shadows.  It was a funhouse effect that wasn’t fun to see at all. 

Most often were the shadows that wandered into our living room, shadows which belonged to no one.  I huddled as small as I could make myself in my father’s recliner as one, two, three shadows entered the room, came close to each other and gesticulated as if having conversation (though I heard nothing), then leaving again.   This occurred at least half a dozen times during the months we lived in that house.

The most frightening thing of all that happened, I remember as clearly as if it was yesterday.  I had gone to bed and was lying facing the wall it butted up against.  My pulse was loud in my ears, loud enough to nearly drown out the sound of my parents’ conversation in their room, which was right beside mine.  That steady whooshing of blood rushing through my veins bothered me for some reason.  As I lay there, the beating of my heart sped up as if to warn of impending danger.  I thought perhaps lying on my other side would make it go away.  I rolled over.

Looming over me was the dark figure of a headless man.  I saw him in glaring relief; his long, black coat belted at the waist, every fold and crease sharp in the nightlight’s glow.  Above its neckline – nothing.  It was tall and broadshouldered, much bigger than my father even without its head. 

The apparition simply stood there for the brief moment I beheld him.  If he ever moved to threaten me, I didn’t know it.  I was up and out of the bed in an instant, screaming as I bolted out of my room.  Of course when my parents went in, turning on the light to banish this ‘bogey man’, he was gone.

It could be that whatever roamed that house wasn’t looking to attack or even frighten a small child.  Perhaps the fact that I was the only one that could see them made one reach out to me for help.  Whatever the intent, I was too young and too frightened to encourage the experience.

Now I’m intrigued by the paranormal.  If I saw independent shadows on the wall, I’d be doing my best Ghost Hunters imitation, trying to record EVPs and inviting any unseen entity to knock ‘Shave and a Haircut’ back at me.  But my terrifying ordeal as a pre-schooler has left its mark.  To this day I hate the sound of my pulse  in my ears when I’m lying in my bed at night.  And I never turn my back to the room, as if keeping watch alone will ward off any ghost who wishes to creep up and surprise me.  Some scares you just never get over.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - The Willow and the Stone

     Leo’s stomach executed a slow somersault.  ‘Out’ was a death sentence.  The aliens might not find you for months, hell, years, but eventually they found you.  Leo caught a glimpse of Geraldine behind the men.  Her smile was one of cold satisfaction.
“Hold on, boys.”

Coming March 16 from New Concepts Publishing

Friday, January 20, 2012

First Four Friday -The Willow and the Stone

Chapter 2

Carli and Renee raced across the hilly land, intent on leaving behind the site of their near-capture.  Tall grass whipped against their thighs, slashing at them to punish their flight.  The dazzling moonlight glared, spotlighting their fugitive status for any searching hunters.  The night belonged to the aliens; it was their time to stalk human prey.

Coming from New Concepts Publishing in March

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Writing The Willow and the Stone

            Twenty-five years in the making, The Willow and the Stone is now less than two months from publication.  It all started with a dream … a really weird dream about vampires from outer space, of all things.  
            I’ve given up trying to analyze the bizarre things that show up in my nightmares.  Possibly fueled by my local bar’s free Friday night chicken wings and half-priced beer, I have a vague recollection of that wispy nocturnal fancy.  In this dream I was standing with a friend on a street corner when we caught sight of blue-skinned vampires heading our way.  I remember one sported a snow-white mohawk; apparently this was the punk rocker of the bunch.  He even had a black leather jacket. 
“It’s those aliens that landed,” my friend whispered to me.  “We’d better get out of here.”
            Pursued by these ridiculous yet terrible enemies, I found myself able to fly, or at least able to leap houses in a single bound.  It was this way that I escaped these creatures until I woke out of breath, desperate for coffee and Freud.
            That should have been the end of it.  This dream, admittedly stranger than most of what flits through my skull, should have been filed under the ‘I’m glad that’s over’ category and quickly forgotten.  But for some reason the idea of bloodsucking fiends from outer space preyed on my mind.  From that one little nugget sprouted the idea of enemy invaders who looked upon humans as cattle to feed upon.  The muse, a creature that nudged me lightly from time to time, pounced on me with merciless demand.  “Write it!” it growled, uncaring how ludicrous I found the premise.
            So I did.  And what I wrote was terrible.  No, actually ‘terrible’ would be a charitable description.  It was an abomination.
            But it was a start.  More importantly, it was the door I walked through that opened into the world of writing books and screenplays, which would become more of an obsession than a mere career choice. 
            Over the next nine years, my first real attempt to write a novel morphed into something that grew better with every re-write.  The humanoid vampire-esque aliens turned into insectile destroyers of worlds.  The two heroines, Carli and Renee, went from barely differentiated two-dimensional women to well-rounded and realized.  Renee became a badass chick, determined to survive.  Carli turned into a geeky telepath.  Other characters, helpful and villain alike, emerged from dim shadows to put their stamp on the story.
In 1996, I attended a writing conference and submitted The Willow and the Stone for critique and to compete in the Best Fiction and Best Overall Novel categories.  I doubted it would do anything in the competitions, and I cringed when I thought of the thorough bashing it would receive from the authors who would be weighing its merit.  I had the writing bug bad though, and I wanted to know once and for all if I was wasting my time or if it was worthwhile for me to pursue.
When I sat down with the published author who had been assigned to critique my story, I was a bundle of nerves.   But I smiled as friendly as I could, hoping for kindness.
She asked me, “Now which one are you?”
“Tamara Jock, ma’am.”
            Her slightly creased face grew more greatly creased with her smile.  “Oh, thank goodness.  I finally get to talk to someone who can write a decent story.”
            I could have screamed with joy.  I wasn’t the worst writer ever.
            There were problems in the novel to be worked out, of course.  She’d identified major lapses, technical flaws, and a serious issue with one of the main characters.  But she had a lot of good things to say, things that made me think I wasn’t on the wrong track at all.  Floating on her praise and eager to correct the mistakes I’d made in my manuscript, I left our meeting with a huge smile on my face.
            I attended the awards banquet, not so much hoping to win anything but simply to enjoy the camaraderie I’d discovered with my fellow aspiring authors.  We chatted and laughed.  A few people displayed nervous anticipation as the awards portion drew closer, praying their efforts had proven worthy of some acclamation.  
            I won’t bore you with anymore of that night except to tell you that The Willow and the Stone won prizes in both its categories.  I would have been over the moon to have received one Honorable Mention.  The night exceeded my hopes and proved to me that I was indeed a real writer.  I wasn’t wasting my time.
            In the subsequent 15 years since then, I’ve had to remind myself of that often.  I have lost count of the rejections from publishers that stated, “This is very good, but we’re going to pass on it for now.”  I’ve kept plugging along, polishing and re-writing Willow, writing other novels and screenplays that do well in contests, get accorded praise from professionals, but still never offered that elusive contract. 
At long last my firstborn, seeded by a bizarre dream that made no sense whatsoever, is finally going to be published.  I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that The Willow and the Stone will at last get its opportunity.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - Lilith

Another peek into the re-edited version, under consideration by my publisher:

"For heaven's sake, you're a member of the Segreto, the first and last line of defense against the demon race.”  He clenched his napkin, and Alex took perverse pleasure in his reaction.  “If you'd only give up the pagan rituals, I could get the Church to reconsider your excommunication.”
She put down her pizza, her pretense of an appetite dropped.  “I need every tool at my disposal, and I'm not giving any of it up.  I don't need the Church to use her rites.”

Friday, January 13, 2012

First Four Friday - Lilith

      This is from the horror novel I self-published ten years ago, which has been re-edited.  I've presented it to my publisher in the hopes they will release the new version.

Chapter 1
     The truck driver stared down at the nude woman splayed like cheap living art across the motel room bed.  He wondered what in God’s name he was doing three hundred and fifty miles from home the night before Thanksgiving.
     It had nothing to do with the woman lying before him like an offering to some lustful pagan god.  She was magnificent in her bold wantonness, a high priestess of men’s longing and sexual rage.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How to Get The Willow and the Stone

I’m going to tell you this up front:  my publisher’s main genre is erotica.  Yup.  Lots of lusty, sexy books.  It’s what New Concepts Publishing is known for.  A friend of mine who happens to work for NCP mentioned they were looking to start up a mainstream fiction line in addition to the heaving bosoms and chiseled chests of their usual offerings. 

So with an ‘in’ to this publisher, I sent in a query and my manuscript.  I’ve been trying to get publishers to give my book a chance for a very long time, and despite it winning awards and compliments from several published authors, it has always been rejected. 

Not this time.  Lo and behold, NCP accepted it and sent me a contract, which I lost no time in signing.  When you’ve been trying to get a book published for the last 25 years, you too will say, “Why the heck not?”  Besides, anyone who knows me realizes I'm no prude.  I'll hang out with the erotica bunch without a complaint.

I’m not quite clear if they’ll be offering several mainstream science fiction and horror books along with mine or if I’m their guinea pig to see if this is going to work.  But be warned, should you decide to buy The Willow and the Stone directly from New Concepts Publishing, you might see some jaw-dropping book covers on the site.  Consider yourselves cautioned.

So this is how it works:  the tentative release date for The Willow and the Stone is March 16.  At that time you can download an e-copy directly from the publisher that is compatible for the Kindle, Nook, and all those other e-readers.  You can even have it downloaded to your computer, though you might have to contact customer service to get the correct type of file for that.

Approximately eight weeks later, NCP will send the electronic version of my book to various distributors including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Fictionwise, and others.  So if you prefer to get it from your favorite bookseller that way, you’ll have a slightly longer wait.

If the e-book sells enough copies, it will be deemed an acceptable risk to be put into print.  NCP usually offers it directly as well as through distributors that way.  So if your preference is tree book to e-book, it could be an even longer wait.

Whew!  Did you get all that?  I hope so … and I hope with all my heart you enjoy The Willow and the Stone, especially since I’m writing a sequel to it. 

In a future post, I’ll tell you the story of how this book came to be.  It has undergone some huge changes since its humble beginnings, and the aliens I started with are nothing like the insectile ones who populate this tale now.  Space vampires, anyone? 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - The Willow and the Stone

     Two monstrous creatures glided into view, their elongated insectoid figures silhouetted in the bright moonlight.  They stalked up to the bridge that spanned the dry, dusty creek bed and joined the women in the darkness.  Carli and Renee melted behind a support beam.
Trapped, Carli's frantic mind whispered.  The monsters had them for sure this time.  She squeezed her eyes shut but couldn't block out the aliens' cricket speech.

Coming March 16

Friday, January 6, 2012

First Five Friday - The Willow and the Stone

Chapter 1:

     Renee slapped her hand over her companion’s mouth.  The brunette manhandled the smaller woman into the shadows beneath the stone bridge they‘d just emerged from.  Carli didn’t struggle against Renee’s grip, but she squealed a muffled cry of protest into the stagnant West Virginia night air.
     "Sssssshh!" Renee hissed, her grip tightening.  "Aliens!"

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hello All

     I have a book due to be published on March 16.  As most other authors I see out there have a blog, I suppose I should follow suit.
     I’ll start with a little overview of what it is I write, and then I’ll tell you a little about myself.  I write science fiction and horror along with screenplays.  It’s one of my sci-fi novels, The Willow and the Stone that will be darkening the electronic bookshelves soon.  You’ll hear more about this novel as I move along with this blog.        I also wrote and self-published the horror novel Lilith, which was released in 2002.  I have re-edited it and plan to submit it to the same publisher who is releasing The Willow and the Stone.  I have also written an award-winning screenplay which is currently being considered by a Hollywood producer, and I helped write a television pilot which will soon be available via YouTube as its creator (a television producer) tries to generate interest from the networks.
     As for me, I’m a sci-fi and horror geek through and through.  Now you won’t find me at Star Trek conventions or wearing a Princess Leia costume at Halloween, but I do love me some sci-fi, both campy and intelligent.  As for horror, I’m a diehard Stephen King fan and ghost story aficionado.  Having lived in a few haunted houses, I’ve got a taste for the macabre. 
     I have Asperger’s and I’m raising a brilliant autistic child with my musician husband.  We’re a quirky gang and take great delight in thumbing our noses at the ‘norms’ of this world.  My views are frequently a bit offbeat, and some may even find them offensive.  I am who I am and make no apologies for that.  Relax and take it this way:  if we all thought the same, the world would be pretty darned boring.
     What you’ll find in this blog in the weeks to come will be my thoughts on favorite sci-fi and horror shows, books, and theories.  I’ll also be highlighting my books and screenplays … hey, I’m about to be published and I have to promote this stuff, right?  We’ll see how it goes and call this blog a work-in-progress.  Most of all, I hope to entertain you with the things I love.   Right now, the plan is to give you random thoughts on Thursdays.  I’ll be copying a fellow writer friend of mine with First Four Friday, which consists of posting the first four sentences of different chapters from my upcoming books.  Six Sentence Sunday will showcase six random sentences from my upcoming books. 
     So come back Friday and get your first peek at the upcoming release The Willow and the Stone.  To whet your appetite, here’s a quick look at what the book is about:

On a future Earth overcome by predatory extraterrestrials, an unlikely pair of women hold the key to mankind’s salvation.

 Four years ago, insectile aliens arrived on Earth in great pyramid ships.  Now mankind is reduced to a few pockets of survivors, skulking in the shadows to elude the creatures that rule the planet.  Among those survivors are Carli Dixon and Renee Johnson, an ill-matched pair thrown together through chance.

Battling their extraterrestrial enemy and the betrayal of their own kind, Carli and Renee struggle against impossible odds to find safety.  Rescuing each other from certain death cements their friendship.  But to survive and save others like themselves, they must risk everything … including each other.