Thursday, May 29, 2014

Memory Lane

Hey loves!

Hope everyone has been having a lovely time in my absence. I've just been mooching around, trying to refill my artistic battery so I can get to work on the MT sequel (hello X-men: Days of Future Past). Have to say, there is another little plot bunny in the works, as of now tentatively titled Gods' Hollow. Right now I'd maybe pitch it as a Supernatural Romance, but it keeps morphing on me and wanting to change into something with decidedly more plot. We will see what happens with it. I love playing with different mythologies and while the Time Archivist series is, as of now, set in a more Greco-Roman world, I think GH would give me some more room to play.

Anyway, I found a post on tumblr the other day. Thought I would share.

Original post here.
It gets me thinking about how much time I have really wasted trying to convince myself to do something I don't love to do. And how unhappy, over the years, that it has made me. I'm not saying there is something wrong with a little fiscal responsibility: Obviously if you are going to be a writer, you won't make money overnight. But there is something freeing about the idea of really pursuing a dream.

If you really want something, than make the sacrifices to make it work. And I finally feel like this is advice I can give. There is little glamor in being a waitress with a law degree; every one looks at you like you're  a little bit crazy. But I'm starting to care less and less. There is nothing wrong with being a waitress, it has me paying the bills. And if it gives me the time to write and pursue this crazy little dream of mine, then I'm all for it. So I'll ask you a question: Would you like a refill on your soda? ;)

To end on a less serious note, although the video itself is a little serious, I thought I would share with you a fan video I put together right after college. I'm still inordinately pleased with it, even now. I think it's because it's a product of one of those times when I just let myself be who I am. The artistic, imaginative, and yes, a little silly, girl who just wants to tell her stories to the world.

Loves, JD.

Friday, May 23, 2014

And Another One Bites the Dust

Hey y'all!

Just a quick little update for those of you who have been following my progress in the ABNA contest. Welp... you ain't gotta follow it any longer?

Good book and movie, by the by.
Okay, really. No tears. I'm doing alright. A little sad initially when I read my Publisher's Weekly review, but I'm ready to move on. After entering the contest, I did do quite a bit more editing on the manuscript before I published it. So maybe that's why it is so easy for me to move on? Although I'm still searching that review to find the positive bits ...

Haha! I found one. The initial concept holds promise. THAT'S IT. Reading no further. Honestly, it was such a treat to get this far in the contest. There are a number of amazing writers who entered this year, and I plan to keep updated on the contest to see if any of my favorites win.

And really, I've already been so blessed by ABNA, it would be a little selfish for me to ask for anything else. When I walk away with all I've learned, all the wonderful friends I've made ... and the best darned writing group a girl could ask for, I'm definitely not a loser.

So I'm sorry I don't have more exciting news for you. But with out the Sword of ABNA-Damocles hanging over my head, I can get working on that sequel. And prove those Publisher Weekly guys wrong. 

Love you all! And to leave you with something funny, enjoy, Drunk Sherlock and Watson!

**P.s. Edited to include "The Review." Mostly I just wish I could remember what state the original manuscript was in. Of all the things I thought I'd get dinged on ... Oh well. Chocolate is remarkably restorative in these moments. ;)
  • As anticipated from the title, mirrors predictably serve as portals in this novel of time travel. Gwen, a recent college graduate, defers her acceptance to law school (despite enviable LSAT scores) and applies for a seemingly drab job filing legal documents in the Archives. Pleased to be hired on the spot, her boss Alistair cryptically warns of occasions when “an Archivist is expected to perform in a matter that may be outside the job description.” A child of divorce but raised by her loving aunt Margaret, Gwen finds a kindred spirit and flirting partner in Rafe, a mischievous time-traveling, reality-evading thief and a regular at the Archives. In this mystery novel rife with haunted mirrors, time travel, sleepwalking, the secrets of the Archives, and the Guardians who protect the time threads, the story still never succeeds in picking up steam. Everybody comes with baggage and trust issues and an unlikely trio forms between the main characters. Their development, however, is shallow, even with plentiful dialogue, making it difficult to care about the outcome of their mission. Although the initial concept holds promise, the bond of the characters just doesn't work.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Sunny Rays, Lazy Days

Hey guys. A bit of an embarrassed wave from me, as I feel like I've been neglected this blog a teeny, tiny bit. But I promise I've been productive.

As you know, I'm lucky enough to be part of a wickedly talented group of writers, The WorldWiseWriters group. We decided to make it official and have just launched our new blog here! I greedily took over all the introductions, and I'm having such a fantastic time introducing these wonderful writers to ... THE WORLD (dramatic echo)! It's pretty flipping exciting!

The blog is still in it's baby stages, but I promise it's going to quickly become a happening place. We've got lots of great ideas to make it a super fun read. And with me there, I promise things will always be silly.

In other news, I'm really working on forcing myself to start Fractured Time. I'm a little terrified that the magic is somehow gone. As if whatever made me able to write the first book, has now abandoned me. But the only way to see if my Muse has stuck around, is to try my hand at writing again. So off I go. Open new Word document, save as FracturedTime.doc. And away I go.

Okay ... away I will go ... eventually ...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

JD's Tips on How NOT to Publish a Novel

Hey Loves!

To save you all the trouble (and hopefully amuse you non-writers out there), I've decided to share with you my list of things NOT TO DO when you decide to publish a novel. Because I'm sweet and helpful like that.

#1 Write Only ONE Book

One Book to rule them all, One Book to find them, One Book to bring them all, and in the Darkness bind them.
JD's Thought: I'll obsess over this one book for months and months, because the most IMPORTANT thing is to publish this for all my adoring fans my mom.

Real Tip: Always, always keep writing. I don't care if it is your sequel, a short story, a secret diary post, a haiku or a blog post. Just keep writing. It's super difficult not to get caught up in the daily drudgery of editing and the excitement of getting your first novel into print. But the best way to become a successful writer: Have things people can read. And I mean thingssssssss. One book is great, and a terrific start. But the more little links you have next to your name, the more people can read, and the better of a chance you have of people falling in love with your writing style.

#2 Read One TERRIBLE Article on Formatting

No, Buster. No one would ever do that.

JD's Thought: Hey, this article seems like it knows what it is talking about. And the internet is always truthful! I'll follow this Joe-Schmoe's advice!

Real Tip: Get advice. And lots of it. Find a community of writers, email any one you know, ask questions on Facebook. Whatever you do, talk to someone who has done this before. And get real, honest advice, before you spend all your time formatting a book incorrectly. Because believe me, having to go back and fix all the mistakes you made the first time is time consuming and will make you crazy. (Helpful formatting book here. Thanks Hannah!)

#3 Expect Things to Happen Quickly

JD's Thought: 12 hour review periods? Pah! I spit on your bourgeois ideas of waiting. As soon as I hit the publishing button, my work will magically appear on the internet!

Real Tip: Always factor in extra time. For writing, for editing, for publishing. When CreateSpace and KDP tell you there will be a 12-24 hour review period, they may be exaggerating. But they also MAY be telling the truth. Especially that first review period: It will take the longest. So the real tip: Pick a release date for your book, and then tell everyone your book will be out 2-3 days AFTER that date. Because something will go wrong. (Probably ... maybe it's just me?)

#4 Wait for your Success, You deserve it!

I'm pretty fetch.

JD's Thought: My book is super awesome. I'm kind of a big deal. Everyone is obviously going to buy my book. I mean look at that "INSERT BOOK HERE" series. It isn't even THAT good. I'll be famous. :sits back and watches her sales:

Real Tip: Independent publishing is scary, hard, and success isn't going to come from it overnight. I'm sorry. It upsets me too. You will have to research ways to get your book noticed, work really hard ... and even then, success isn't guaranteed. It sucks big time. But if you are doing this for the money, then maybe think of a different profession. Do I want to be successful enough at this so I can do it full time? HELL YES! Have a quit my day job? Sadly no. As much as overnight success would be amazing, 99.99% of the time, it isn't going to happen.

So, to come full circle: Back to the first tip.

Write, and then write more. And when you 100% can't write anymore, go outside. Talk to people. Step away from your computer/notebook/paper and pen, until it no longer looks like a prison. And when the words start coming, run back and ... you guessed it: Write more.

We all have stories inside of us that we desperately want to tell. And as much as we want people to read them, our job is to write them, do our best to get them out there so people can find them ... and then write the next story.

This isn't an easy job, being a writer. And sometimes, even though I love it always, it's not so fun. And it can be discouraging. But if you truly love it, you'll be able to 'keep on swimming.'

Those stories inside of us? They deserve to be told.

Love you all, you can do it!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Amazons, Greek Goddesses and Magic Rings, oh my!

Hey hotties,

How y'all doing? Okay, I have something share with you. Because you know what?

It's true!
Therefore, I care very much about your mental health. And I have to say, reading books is good for you.
Okay, maybe not reading this book.
But I do have an EXCELLENT series of books for you to read: They are good for your health and fantastically amazing!

Maybe the book series?
Introducing: Andrea Domanski's The Omega Group series. And right now there is not one, but TWO books in the series to read: Crossfire and Greco.

Crossfire introduces us to Mirissa, a seemingly normal teenage girl. Well, that is until she finds out she is an Amazon warrior and everyone is counting on her to save the world. No big deal, right?  Greco follows the story line: A delicious little teaser (until we get Rogue) that gives us more back story into Mirissa's deliciously hot trainer, Greco.

Domanski's characters are the right mix of serious, witty and spunky. They could fit in with Buffy's gang and not miss a bit. I love when a character can deal with life-threatening danger, then turn around and deliver a biting, hilarious one-liner. Domanski excels: Mirissa is just the heroine modern readers are looking for. She's funny, smart, and an amazing warrior. But most importantly, she is someone the reader can relate to and care for. The author's ability to mix action, humor and drama means the Omega Group series is a seriously fun read. I'm impatiently waiting for the next book. Come on, MORE PLEASE?

So take a look at this beautiful covers (designed by the talented Rebecca K. Sterling, who also created my fabulous cover). And then click on the links to go buy. And remember: comment. We self-published authors really need your comments and feed back- it opens a whole new world of promotional services to us. Plus, it makes us just love you even more!

Buy Crossfire here. And Greco here. Want to learn more about the fabulous author? Visit her site here.

Love you all! Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 9, 2014

An Update

Hiiiii (Imagine it said in the solemn voice of Ross from Friends),

Just kidding. That was me yesterday. After a day battling evil internet goblins, trying to figure out how text went missing from my manuscript and trying to make 12 hour review periods go faster ... well, I was having a bit of a rough spot.

I mean I kept it pretty cool. You know ... waiting. 
Okay, maybe I was a tiny bit more impatient. Because I just wanted my book released. Maybe it was more like this.
FINE! You're right. I wasn't patient in the LEAST!!

That's probably way more accurate.

The truth is, I am definitely being taught a lesson in patience. And probably failing miserably. But I so want MIRRORED TIME to be out there, and I so want you all to enjoy it: It just broke my heart to think that A) I didn't live up to my promise of when it would be released and B) somehow a product got out there that wasn't 100% perfect.

Honestly? I need to learn something important, something I really should have grasped. I'm not perfect, I will never be perfect, and I should stop trying to be perfect. The said can be said for MT: I have put my heart and soul into this book, and I love the story. But perfect? Nooope. Although that's okay, because I can learn from my mistakes, and create even better novels in the future.

So where's the update? Right here. TL DR: I'm not going to post any links, or make any announcements about MT until I'm certain both the print and kindle copy are available and in as good as shape as I can make them. I'm fighting the urge to give you a date, but I don't want to make promises. Hopefully, early next week.

This is the part where I forgive myself for the mistake, promise next time I will be smarter with the book release, and move on. And I'm trying. I just love y'all too much and am way to excited to know what you think.

But I'll chill. Until then, stay tuned for some exciting book reviews of the lovely WWW ladies. First the Omega Series, and then Death Wishes. I promise I'll let you know when MT is ready to go.

Love you all!

For those of you who have already bought it: Chapter 5 may have some missing text (the bad version ends chapter five- "running down a narrow..."). If you have the bad kindle version this is your steps:

1) Ask to return it (Amazon gives you a 2 week period to return kindle books) and you will get a refund. Then, you can repurchase when the copy is fixed.
2) Email me at and I will send you the full chapter 5.
3) I am working with Amazon to update the kindle versions already bought to the new one (you just have to convince them, so it will take a while). When that happens, they will send out an email saying I've updated the content, or I will let you know.
4) ... throw a shoe at me?? (Please don't!)

Ok... this is where I let it go now. ;)


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

That moment you eat an entire loaf of bread ...

Hey loves!

I hope you had a quite marvelously frabjous day!

So, if you don't know me very well, let me tell you something about myself. I stress. A lot. Literally about everything. I'm that type of girl that stares at her ceiling at night, trying to sleep, but really obsessing about everything that happened during the day. "Why didn't I say that? That would have been so cute and funny. And ew ... did I really have spinach in my teeth all day? Omg, no one will ever love me!"

You think I'm joking. Which is sweet. Thanks for thinking I'm a nice, sane, normal person. But honestly, I've been known to stress about things that happened YEARS AGO. Like that "One Time," when I wore white pants on a field day in elementary school. Goal: Kick the football. Setting: muddy field. Outcome: Do I even need to say it? Man... I called my mom, on her way to a job interview, and cajoled and pleaded until she brought me new pants. So yeah, calm acceptance of life? Really not my thing.

Which is why this book release is killing me. Like ... "buying a Costco size batch of antacids and eating massive amounts of bread" killing me. Mostly because I so, so, SOOOOO want you all to love my book. And I really hope you do.

But here's the point: In my obsessive searching on Amazon to see if they've secretly released my book without telling me, one item keeps coming up. It's not my book. It has nothing to do with my book. Like... nothing to do with my book. 

Just the same, there it is.

A little elephant toy. And maybe it's silly, and you'll roll your eyes, but it helped me. My grandpa's favorite animal was an elephant and God knows, I wish I could have him here right now.

But maybe he's not as far away as I think. And that silly little woobly elephant somehow is calming my heartbeat, and letting me push that loaf of bread away. And letting me breath again.

So thanks, Amazon. For whatever silly search engine glitch that got me that little elephant. And thanks readers, for taking the time to scan my silly little blog post.

Love you all. And I promise I'll share my bread buy you a new loaf because this one's all gone.

Monday, May 5, 2014

"My Writing Process" Blog Tour

Hey loves,

So ... this is where I pretend I'm a mature adult and talk to you about my 'writing process.' Let's just pretend I'm not a little girl acting grown up, mmmkay?

Oh my, important edit. I forgot to thank the lovely Lisa for inviting me to participate in this blog tour. Thanks bunches, Lisa, you're a star! Find out more about her, and read all about her writing process, here:

What am I working on? 

Um ... Not going crazy? No, seriously, folks. If you haven't had to deal with the hell that is Window/Orphan control in a Word.doc, then God bless you. MIRRORED TIME, hope upon hope, will be released this very week. Obviously, I'm going a bit insane trying to make sure the formatting doesn't reveal me as a total rookie.

Or as Howard and Leonard would say: total n00b

As for projects: FRACTURED TIME is still banging around in my head, working itself out. I like basing my stories, very loosely, on myths. MT: Pandora. Spoilers for Fractured Time: Perseus and Andromeda's wedding AND Ragnarok. It should be fun. :evil grin:

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think my work is a product of the types of books I read. Hint?

I definitely don't start out writing something with the idea it's going to fit in with a certain genre. Not sure I think you can really write that way. If you have a story to tell, you just have to tell it. If it turns into a mishy-mashy hodgepodge of different genres: Pick one and then market the heck out of it.

Did I answer the question? Oops. Answer: MT is what would be considered Urban Fantasy, but it also has a lot of sci-fi and maybe even a little bit of horror. Not sure if it fits in with it's brothers and sisters in it's genre, but it's not a crazy uncomfortable fit.

But as I said above: Genre, to me, isn't very important. Especially in the days of self-publishing. As self-pub authors, I think we have a little more freedom. We don't have an agent/publisher who HAS to fit our work into a tidy little box. Although sure, this comes with it's dangers too. Your book has to have some focus. Just don't give up your imagination in order to fit in with the crowd. Which comes to the next question ...

Why do I write what I do?

I'm serious, guys. I really have very little choice in what I'm writing. Stephen King (in On Writing) said it a heck of a lot more eloquent than I can. But here's the point: You will have two random little thoughts floating around in your mind, and then comes a point when they bump together and BAM! MT was basically me wondering what my 'perfect job interview' would be ... plus the, you now, completely normal thought that it would be pretty awesome if I could control time.

When I'm writing, I really do feel like the characters are in control. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn't. There are a couple scenes I've rewritten five times, just because the characters won't behave. Other days it's like, the little mental movie that plays when I write, just doesn't exist at all. Maybe the projector is down for that day? 

Who knows? All I know is that for me, writing isn't something I do by choice. It's just something I have to do. The scene jumps in my head, and won't go away until I write it down.

How does your writing process work?

Uh-oh, I kind of answered this above. My actual process? Hm..
Butthole...heh heh
 I've been writing stories, or telling them, probably since I could talk. But MT is the first one I ever finished (big kudos to NaNoWriMo and what it's about). When I write, I just let the story take me where it wants to go. First draft: I have a general idea what is going to happen, but I try not to limit myself too much. Otherwise you can lose some really interesting twists if you are simply trying to get from point A to point B.

It's also important for me not to think out the plot too much. A lot of my earlier trouble with writing came from simple boredom. Once I had the story completely figured out, I got bored with it and moved on. So with MT, in basically a month period, I just wrote and learned the story as I went. I did take lots of plot notes, and even wrote out timelines. But when it came to actual writing, those were hidden away. And the final story I came up with, was actually a lot, LOT, different from those timelines.

Well, confession. Except for one very important piece. My ending. I wrote that about six months BEFORE I started writing the body of the novel. And honestly, the last scene of FRACTURED TIME is so clear in my mind, I could tell you the colors of the characters' shirts. So that is probably how I keep somewhat of a comprehensible storyline. I know where I'm starting and I know where I am going. The rest of it? Well, I'm totally cool with just enjoying the ride.

Okay ... Wasn't that exciting?

Well, I did try, Sherlock. Thanks.

Anyway, you know what IS exciting? The fantastic authors who I'm passing the baton to for next week. I love them all so much: I just know you will too. Before then, why don't you check out their totally killer websites??

Hannah Sullivan (

Hannah Sullivan, born in California, currently lives in Idaho with her husband and children. An avid reader and runner, she decided to try her hand at writing when her daughter asked for a more "grown-up" version of the family Thunder stories. So, doing what any mother would do, she said, "Yes, why not?" And started to write. With some fantastic help and new friendships, a novel was born! "Thunder: The Shadows are Stirring" is her first book.

S.M. Freedman (

S.M. Freedman is the author of The Faithful and a member of the WorldWiseWriters group. She lives in Vancouver with her husband, two children and a giant orange cat. She's currently writing her next novel.

K. Kazul Wolf (

 K. Kazul Wolf (most often referred to as Bacon) is slowly coming out as her secret identity, the Grandma of the Internet. Meanwhile, her main occupation is being a dragon. The neighbors may try to convince her that she is not, in fact, a dragon, but that never stops her from kidnapping doggies and kitties in distress. Her free time consists of attempts to conquer the world through her pastry arts at a four-diamond restaurant, her writing as a fantasy author, and work as a director at a video game studio.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Like Christmas, My Birthday & All the Delicious Cookies

Hey loves,

I just had to share. Today I got the final copy of my cover and I couldn't be more ecstatic. There have been times during this whole process, where I didn't think 'Mirrored Time' would ever actually make it to print.

After getting my beautiful cover: I'm all kinds of happy.

A thousand thanks to Rebecca for designing me the perfect cover. I really couldn't be happier. For all you writers out there, I would recommend her in a heartbeat. She is fantastic, patient and incredibly talented. You can find her here:

Finally, before the big reveal, I have to thank fellow WWW member, Andrea ( Thanks so much for telling me about Rebecca. I appreciate your recommendation for me to check out her designs so much. Hugs!

And now....

I LOVE IT!!! And I hope you do too. <3 <3

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Brought to you by the BBC....

Oh my God, guys. Guys... NO SERIOUSLY! Guys???

Listen.... LISTEN!! I have very important things to share. :clears throat:


And this:

But mostly, this:

So... um... How frick-frackity excited are you for the new X-men MOVIE?!?!?!

Oh my...

Just in case you've been living in a box.

Shut up. I'm NOT crying. That would be :sniffle: really weird...

I'm just going to go ... :sniffle: I got a hair in my eye or something ...

Friday, May 2, 2014

Step Inside the Fantastical World...

L'Incroyable Fantomatique Cirque

To me there is no picture so beautiful as smiling, bright-eyed, happy children; no music so sweet as their clear and ringing laughter.
                P.T. Barnum

                My reflection winks at me. I can barely raise my head to smile back. The mirrored copy of me trembles, distorting and elongating so the marks on my cheeks look like strips. I wince. It’s not Specs fault, he’s just trying to make me feel better.
                As if he hears my thoughts, my reflection multiplies to thousands in the surrounding mirrors, dancing and cavorting in, what should be, an amusing parody of delight. But Specs can only do so much. Whether fat or thin, straight or wavy, each of the echoed reflections shares my grim expression.
                I reach up with a pale hand and stroke the cool glass. “I’m sorry, Specs. Not today.” The lights dim and the walls rattle as if their breathing. He can’t speak, but Specs has other ways of getting his emotions across. And right now he is upset, wondering why I refuse to play our usual game. “He’s putting Durga…” My voice breaks and I clear my throat.
                In an instant, the room shudders to darkness. The air is warm and comforting around me in the dark space. It smells faintly of candy and butter popcorn, memories made scents. It’s Specs’ version of a hug. “Thanks.” I tip my head in a silent goodbye and glide through the dark. I know the twist and turns of the house of mirrors so well, that I don’t need light to make my way to leave.
                Kai is waiting for me at the exit. The sight of his broad shoulders sends a ripple through my body, ending somewhere in the pit of my stomach. His inky eyes focus on my clavicle as I step hesitantly up to him. When I’m close enough to feel the heat radiating from his skin, as hot as the fire in his act, his gaze slides up to the tip of my chin.
                “I didn’t expect to see you today.” My voice is gravely and strange, just as it was the first day Father brought me home.
                “Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind.” His face and voice are emotionless when he speaks, although his words spark a warmth behind my breastbone. Kai never says anything he doesn’t mean. Pathologically unable to lie. Still, I wonder how much he understands the sentiment. It sounds more like something Father would have tried to teach him.
                “Do you mean that?”
                His depthless eyes met mine for one too-quick second, before they skitter away again. Like a shadow fleeing the sun. Or is it the sun fleeing the shadow? “Durga dies today.”
                The warmth turns to ice. There are many things I love about Kai, but his inability to soften the blow of his words is not one of them. “It wasn’t her fault.”
                He tilts his head before walking away, with that particular gangly gait of his. It should be awkward, but there is a truth to the way he walks. It is not normal, or even beautiful. But it is his. “Someone died, Dema.” He says to my right shoe.
                I scurry to catch up to him. Dust rises from the ground from the shuffling of my feet. “It was an accident. She didn’t mean it.”
                The carnival is practically deserted. Hot dog wrappers and old raffle tickets litter the ground around us; forgotten relics of happier times. Up ahead, the sleeping form of one of our tightrope walkers breaks up the feeling of isolation. Kai pauses next to Arturo, the man’s snores adding a strange note of humor to the cloud hanging over my head.
                Kai taps the tight-rope walker on the foot impatiently, his uncomfortableness touching another live human obvious.
                Arturo’s snores don’t stop, but are punctuated with muttered nonsense. “My milkshake …” Snore. “… doesn’t bring any boys to the yard.”
                I frown as Kai kicks Arturo’s foot harder, the air around Kai’s body shimmering with heat.
                Arturo blinks owlishly, looking up at Kai in confusion. “Is it time for my act?”
                I drop my gaze, embarrassed. When a wrong step in an act brought him crashing to the ground, Arturo’s tightrope walking days ended. Perhaps a clown act with a narcoleptic tightrope walker would be funny. But since Father doesn’t believe in nets, it would likely be a onetime deal. Arturo has tried to get Father to hire him for another act. But the man’s only so-called redeeming skill is the ability to eat strange concoctions of greasy food. He still doesn’t understand why Father refuses to create a new act around his … talent. The only reason he is still around is that the Accident has caused a delay in the carnival’s movements. As soon as Father takes care of Durga, we will move again. I don’t know what will happen to Arturo when we leave. I don’t think I care.
                “It’s time. Father would want you to be here.” Kai starts walking again, his shoulders tight.
                Arturo watches him go, before turning to me, rubbing his belly. His crooked teeth are stained yellow from nicotine, just as the tips of his dirty fingers. “There at least has to be time for me to eat. I’m dying of hunger.” He belches into his closed fist. “Are there any corn dogs left? Wrapped in a bit of cotton candy: That would do me quite nicely.”
                I scowl at him, letting every ounce of my disdain show in my ice blue eyes. “I don’t care what Father says. I don’t want you there.”
                He blanches, and behind his garish stage makeup, his face is green. “La llorona.” He crossed himself.
                Because I’m feeling raw, I make the sign of the devil at him. But there is little satisfaction when he skitters away. Fear is such a common reaction, it makes no impact on me anymore.
                I hurry to catch up with Kai. He’s waiting for me by the elephants, eyes focused intently on the massive gray creatures. He’s always been more comfortable with animals. I’ve tried asking Father why he never let Kai be the Menagerie Man. Kai was horrible in my Father’s band of orphan pickpockets. Too clumsy, so the marks almost always felt his awkward fumbling.
                Usually such a failure would have meant banishment. My Father is not known for his philanthropic heart. I can only imagine how angry he would have been when he found out the quiet boy he had brought all the way from Hawaii, was a useless thief. But maybe the fire act was punishment. Kai hid it well, but he hated the fire. He feared it, as much as he needed it. I once asked him why he still stayed? Why he was still willing to swallow the fire? Surely at twenty-three, my Father no longer held so much power over him.
                Kai told me he stayed because the fire made him feel alive. From another person, I would have taken this as a sly insult. But from Kai … From Kai, it was so very difficult to tell.
                Sighing, I step up to the elephants, inhaling their earthy smell. Unlike Durga, they are terrified of me. They bellow and huff, shifting in their chains to try to get away from me.
                The sound of voices grows behind us. They are coming.
                Kai turns, staring intently at the scar on my left cheek. “I’m … sorry.”
                He doesn’t mean it. Well, at least he doesn’t mean it in the way most people do. His willingness to apologize, when he doesn’t understand the fundamental meaning of the act, speaks of his feelings towards me. But as I often do, I wonder if the feelings are still the same.
                A relationship between the ringleader’s daughter and the unusual fire-swallower was one that was destined to fail. Father had always been controlling about my life. After the Accident, he only became more so. I can’t really complain. I literally owe him my life; I don’t even know if I would still have one if I tried to leave. But sometimes, the idea of running away and not looking back is so strong I can taste it. Like honey and the taste of the air after it rains. I wonder if Kai would come with me.
                I close my eyes and reach out to him, absorbing the heat of his presence. Whatever the problems the two of us have, and believe me, we both have our fair share: For better or worse, this is the man I love. But what kind of future can I offer him? Would it be better to just set him free?
                Touching his arm, the softest brush of butterfly wings, I smile when his gaze meets mine for a moment. And in his eyes, I see so much love that it takes my breath away. But with the love, there is just as much pain. I open my mouth to speak but it’s too late. Everyone has arrived.
                My Father looks majestic. The velvet of his coat shines like some exotic animal’s pelt in the midday sun. Surrounded by his familiar group of orphan acolytes, he reminds me of some pagan god. On these grounds, he is certainly treated as one.
                Cassandra stands at his side, her hand gripped tightly on his forearm. She is still beautiful: Inky black hair and pale skin. She stands straight and proud, the red of her crushed silk dress highlighting the bloody color of her lips. But in the face of her beauty, the destruction of her eyes stands out as even more terrible. She’d been my Father’s best illusionist. He’d had to find ways to make her acts seem more like tricks. In a few of the smaller towns we visited, people had started accusing the woman of witchcraft. If only they knew. But so good had Cassandra’s illusions been, even she lost her grip on reality. My Father was able to grab hold of the dagger before it was used on her wrists. But her eyes were another story.
                Her face turns unerringly towards me, and I feel Kai tense at my side. “Fair that the victim should be present.” Her voice is quiet, but with everyone desperate to hear her, it rings out across the grounds. “Perhaps she should be the one who takes the life?”
                “No!” The word is torn from my lips. I regret it as soon as I say it. It is dangerous to show such weakness in front of this crowd.
                Father’s eyes narrow, but he doesn’t speak.
                “It was an accident. It wasn’t Durga’s fault.” I hate how I sound like a broken record. I used to be so eloquent. I had been the crowd’s favorite; the act everyone was dying to see. Durga was so wild when Father first purchased her from another carnival, that Father grew to regret his investment. But when I first saw her, I knew. She was mine. And I was hers. Part of the same soul.
                Everything was perfect when I was on that stage with her. We didn’t need language to speak to each other and unlike other animal taming acts, I needed no whip to force her into submission. It was always flawless.
                Until the Accident.
                When I meet Father’s eyes, I am forced back into the memory of the day. It really was an accident. A perfect chain of unconnected events that led to a nightmare. Father’s pickpockets were up to their usual tricks, lightening the pockets of a few of the more luxuriously dressed marks. But a newly joined thief made a mistake. It wasn’t until later, when he pulled the nuts and bolts from his pocket, that the link was made.
                The man hired to repair the Ferris wheel didn’t look like a mark, but the new boy was too fresh to make the distinction. The repairman had been in a hurry; with the carnival set to open in a few moments and people clamoring at the gates for my act, he’d overlooked the missing pieces.
                And it was his one moment of inattention that had the Ferris wheel grinding to a shuddering halt in the middle of my act. The sudden force of inertia sent a carriage, thankfully empty, crashing to the ground. People screamed and ran. It was chaos.
                They flooded the stage like rats deserting a sinking ship. All they knew was sound and fear, and they brought their rushing wave of terror with them.
                I’m brought back to the moment with a snap, my body rigid and shaking. I reach up to touch the wetness on my cheeks, feeling the jagged scars underneath. “Is it any wonder she reacted as she did?” I hear a screaming off in the distance. It matches the feelings inside me so much, I tremble. “If anyone is to blame, it is the people who rushed the stage. In the chaos they created, she reacted. She was scared. It was an accident.”
                My Father’s icy disapproval chills me. “Adeline…”
                “Don’t call me that!” I hiss at him. “It’s Dema.”
                His jaw clenches but he tips his head. “Durga has killed. She can no longer be allowed to live.”
                “But the balance is restored.” I press my hand to my beating heart. “How can she be punished for something that has been fixed?”
                But my words fall on deaf ears and I watch as Solomon, the stooped and ancient caretaker, pulls the struggling Durga into view. It was her screams that I heard earlier. She is so strong that Solomon can barely pull her into the circle of people, but when Durga sees me, she drops to her belly, panting in the dust. I drop to my knees with her, our eyes locked.
                I hear Kai whisper a plea in my ears, but I can’t answer. The dual pounding of Durga and my heart beats loudly in my ears. She is so beautiful my breath catches in my throat. Her existence in this horrible place is beneath her, she deserves to be free. An idea glimmers in the back of my mind; forbidden, marvelous.
                Cassandra screams behind me, and someone grabs me roughly by the shoulders. But it is all so distant. The only thing I see is Durga’s black eyes. They hold the same pain as Kai’s: A wild animal, just desperate to be free. I wasn’t sure it would work, but as our hearts slow to the same beat, I calm.
                It was a power I never had before. But thanks to Cassandra and Father, I can feel it coursing through my veins. The illusionist’s screams grow higher and more frantic. As Father shakes me cruelly, from the corner of my eye I see Cassandra tearing at her hair. Whatever I’m doing, it most somehow be hurting her. She is the link that brought me back into this world. And now I’m shredding that link. If it hurts her, so be it. I never asked for this.
                Father curses and roughly grabs my chin. “Don’t do this, Adeline. I can’t lose you.”
                But you already did.
                My head rolls to the side and my eyes met Kai’s. In the state I’m in, I swear I can see flames licking over his body. I smile at him and I see him relax.
                I love you. I imagine the chains that have bound him to this place breaking. He is free. He swallows once, but then nods. Like Durga, we’ve never needed words to communicate. He understands.
                Once again I turn my eyes to the beautiful creature in front of me. Like it did on stage, my world constricts until it is just her and I. She makes a soft huffing sound, and the brightness of her soul fills me. She knows what is happening. She understands too.
                In the last moments, before we are whisked away, it’s like I am looking down on the scene. A twisted tableau of a mourning family. Two still bodies lay side by side.
                A beast and her victim.
                A man-eating tiger and the living dead girl.

                Shouldering my bag, I look back behind me. Without the bright lights and garish music, the tents and structures of the carnival seem haunted. Like the abandoned bones of some ancient giant.
                The night is freezing, but I am never cold. The heat of the fire is always with me. A part of me now. I used to think it was a curse. Something the Ringleader had done to me. But instead, I think it is something else.
                Dema may have left me. But she gave me something of herself before she went. A piece of a soul. So I can recognize her in the next place.
                I step away from the gates of the carnival, my feet not faltering. I’m not sure what life holds for me now, but I am not afraid. I am free now, and that can only be good.
                The road in front of me is long and unknown, but I keep walking.  As I leave the place that has been my home for the last eighteen years, a band of pressure releases from my chest and I smile. Perhaps the first real smile I’ve ever had.
                 Behind me there is laughter, and at the edges of my vision I can see something.
                The ghostly figures of a girl and her tiger. Dancing in the moonlight.

***Based on The Prompt Challenge (***           

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Bacon and Carnivals

Hey lovelies,

Anyone have a new keyboard? I've been banging my head over and over into mine. Seems to have made it a bit spazzy. But this is what happens when I try to format a book for Createspace. Word is Satan, true story. Not sure what is up with the Header/Footer rules. Pretty sure you need an advanced degree in computer sciences to figure it out.

Anyway... I've been lucky enough to met the fabulous K. Kazul Wolf (or Bacon, if you prefer [who doesn't?]). She invited me to try out her weekly writing prompt challenge. My first reaction when I saw the tricky collection of prompts?

The rules are that her lovely followers give her prompts over the weekend, based around a certain theme (this week: Carnivals). She, and any fellow writers brave enough to try, gets until Friday to finish the lovely story, and up on the interwebs it goes.

What are this week's prompts? You might inquire.

◦    Man eating tiger - alaskapenn
◦    A fire-eater who’s afraid of fire. A narcoleptic tight-rope walker. - Joy Smith
◦    Flaming sword-swallower with Asperger’s syndrome. - Kelly Wolf
◦    ”Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind.” and sentient carnival rides. - mjutini
◦    Eating corn dogs with unusual toppings and a house of mirrors with some kind of sentience of its own. - whymywriteriscrying
◦    A circus performer with a very mundane act who can’t figure out why no one will hire him for their circus. - Rosiee
◦    Ferris wheel accident. - primaryfeather
◦    My milkshake doesn’t bring any boys to the yard - queencoeurl
◦    An illusionist. A master illusionist who is so good at their job that they begin to fool themselves, and become increasingly afraid that reality is just another illusion. |  Orphan pickpockets (who work for the ringleader) and accidentally (indirectly) cause a death. - capriquarius18
◦    A high wire act goes wrong -circus elephants - everqueen12
◦    Candy, and Nicotine by P!atD - seastarved
◦ - telari
◦    Dancing under moonlight - lupanaoflaminar

Oh my...
Wish me luck, guys. With my failed successful day of formatting, I'm a bit behind. But hopefully Miss Wolf will forgive me. Pretty please?

You can find her awesome-fantastic stories for past weeks here. And her generally super entertaining website yonder and afar.

Love you all!!