Edward Owen – Author

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Ray Bradbury Challenge #10- Hat Trick

Running a little behind this week as I have been preparing for tonight’s Ebook presentation. Info here. I’m pretty stoked about making it to ten weeks. Given my schedule and my efforts to learn the Dvorak keyboard, it’s been rather challenging. This story went in a much darker direction than I originally planned. That’s one of the ‘perks’ of writing horror; it’s a bottomless pit of ideas that slither around in the inky blackness just waiting for some twisted mind like mine to haul them up into the daylight.

For an explanation of the Ray Bradbury Challenge, check out Arial Burnz’s Blog here.

 

Hat Trick

Top Hat

runescape.wikia.com

“Guess it’s going to be dead in here tonight,” Frank says. He laughs at his own joke like it’s the first time he’s ever heard it. He’s made that comment exactly four hundred and sixteen times if my calculations are correct. And they always are. It’s one of my ‘gifts’. Being able to remember everything is almost as annoying as Frank but they both come with the territory.

“Really milking that line aren’t you, Frank. I guess new material is too much for your feeble little brain. Sometimes I wonder how you manage to get dressed all by yourself. Oh, that’s right, you still live with your mother. Bet Mommy picks out your clothes, too.” I know which buttons to push.

“Screw you, Maloney!” That vein pulsing in Frank’s temple has aneurism written all over it. I’m sure his breath reeks of cheap beer, too. My condition spares me such indignities.

“That’s no way to be.” I keep my tone friendly, like I’m talking to a mean dog or a slow child. In Frank’s case, it’s a little of both. “What would Mommy say if she could see your behavior?” I pause just long enough to let him think I’m done. “Does she know about you and – what’s her name? – Melissa? She’s what, seventeen? Shame on you, Frank, taking advantage of a such a sweet young girl. Bet Mommy would kick you to the curb if she ever found out.”

His mouth drops open and snaps shut several times while his brain plays catch up.

“Go to hell! At least I ain’t no fucking ghost. You and yours taking jobs away from us living folks is a big load of bullshit. Somebody needs to burn fucking Necromancer Industries to the ground.”

Frank slams the door on his way out and it rattles in the frame. My clipboard and pencil float up and I put a check mark next to his name. Yep, that little brain hemorrhage will drop Frank Dugan dead as a doornail at exactly nine forty seven tonight. Unfortunately for her, Melissa Fredricks will be trapped under him and suffocate. When Agnes Dugan discovers them tomorrow morning, it will be the last straw for her feeble old heart. She won’t even make it up the stairs. I have jobs to fill and quotas to meet. Three more souls should just about do it for this month. I miss being able to whistle at times like this.

Interview with Author Ronald Edward Griffin

There is a knock at the door just as I pull a tray of chocolate chip cookies from the oven. It’s my Blog Hop guest, Ronald Edward Griffin. Coincidence? I think not. If there’s anything authors like as much as free promotion it’s warm, chocolate chip cookies. Good thing I made extra.

Armed with a plate of gooey goodness and two tall glasses of cold milk, we plop down at the kitchen table and begin.

 

blood stained lives cover

Blood Stained Lives Cover

Me: Is Ronald Edward Griffin your real name or a pen name?

REG: It’s my real name.

Me: (Good, he’s got nothing to hide. No black SUVs in my driveway today.)

Your latest book is titled Blood Stained Lives. What genre does it belong to?

REG: Paranormal fantasy. It’s the genre I write in most often.

Me: breathing a sigh of relief – if he would have said romance, I would have been screwed.

Tell me a little about it.

REG: Well it is a paranormal fantasy about this one man’s journey to become the hero he was born to be. He has many trials along the way that he must make it through.

Me: What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story?

REG: My Mom always had a passion for reading and we would always watch movies together as well. We would watch mostly fantasy movies like Legend, Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, Krull, and many other movies and I believe growing up with such movies sparked my imagination. I started writing short stories when I was in kindergarten but they were usually based on cartoons. In middle school I started writing my own superhero story. It wasn’t until highschool until I started writing supernatural stories. It was then that I started writing some of the elements of this particular novel. Over the years I wrote many short stories and always wanted to write a novel but certain life events caused me to post pone. I have kids now and decided that I want to leave behind something that they could be proud of.

Me: (What a cool mom. Wonder if she makes cookies?)

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

REG: The importance of friends and family. When you have them on your side anything can be done.

Me: What challenges have you faced in your writing career?

REG: Getting it started. I didn’t realize there was so much work in self promoting. I am just glad I have made some wonderful friends along the way.

Me: What does your workspace look like?

REG: My work place varies, sometimes I write from my bedroom, the dining room where I can look out the sliding glass doors, or the locations that are mentioned in my novel. Sometimes it is good to write from the actual locations.

Me: (Note to self – Great idea, except for that ‘Zombies From Hell’ novel I wanted to write.)

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

(Sane, sans the in-; and writer, used in the same sentence. That’s a first.)

REG: Take time for yourself every now and then. Do not let the writing consume you all the times because it can cause you lots of unnecessary stress and your story could suffer from it.

Me: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

REG: Don’t be afraid to ask friends for help if going at this alone.

Me: After this book, what is next?

REG: Writing a series of origin novellas building up to the release of the second novel for this series.

The cookie plate is empty and the milk glasses are dry.

(There’s more but he doesn’t know that)

Ron's pic 1

Ronald Edward Griffin

Ronald’s contact info is listed below in the event you would like to steal some cookies buy some books or just say hi. Until next week Dear Readers, scary dreams of self-publishing.

Your website? www.BloodStainedSaga.com

Your blog? http://ronaldgriffin.blogspot.com/

Other websites? www.facebook.com/BloodStainedSaga

 Where can your book be found? www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, www.smashwords.com

Ray Bradbury Challenge #9- Food of the Gods

Very short story this week as I am preparing a presentation on formatting and publishing ebooks for next Wednesday. If you’re interested, here’s the link. 

If you want more info on the Ray Bradbury Challenge, check out Arial Burnz blog here.

 

Food of the Gods

“You have angered them and now there is no food,” I say to Cassavettes. “The light is fading and it is past time to feed.”

“It has been late before,” he says. “Your worry is only the voice of your empty stomach. Besides, have we not been diligent in our dance? I even offered those two new flutter moves. If anyone is to blame, it is you, Jackman. Same moves every dance. You have no doubt bored them into forgetting the offering.”

I turn away from him. He is a dolt and hunger does not extend my patience. In the new light I will offer a dance the likes of which they have never witnessed.

******

We have now gone many light cycles without eating. Our dance is a ghost of its former beauty. Cassavettes is very unsteady; I fear he will not survive another cycle. A horrific thought fills my mind. I am determined to push it away but my hunger gives it new life. If I am to survive …

*****

Cassavettes is dead. His body is limp and lifeless, but it calls to me. His soft belly … My hunger drives me to do the unthinkable as I tear chunks of his flesh with my teeth, ill designed for such a task as they may be. As the light returns I am sickened by the sight of his remains and yet, if no other food comes I will not hesitate to eat every last morsel if it means living to see the light again.

******

“Dude! One of your fish is totally chowing down on the other one. Must be half piranha or something.”

Jerry endured Mike’s outbursts as one humors a slow child.

“Nope, just plain old goldfish. I just stopped feeding them. Happens every time. Jackman there is the new reigning champ. In a couple of days I’ll go get another one, give them a few weeks to get used to each other and see which one wins.”

“Cool. Hey, we better jam if we want to get in on the drop. They said there might not be any meat for the next couple months.”

“Don’t sweat it,” said Jerry, eyeing Mike’s belly, “I have a backup plan.”

Building Bridges

bridge

Writing is an odd occupation for far too many reasons to attempt to list them all here, but there are a number I would like to bring to your attention. Like most artistic pursuits, it is a labor of love. Very few writers make a living from their craft (we belong to the same club as painters, poets and actors). Most don’t even cover the cost of the ink and paper they use sending out query letters and manuscript submissions (there is a special place in Heaven for the person who invented electronic submissions) not to mention craft books, conferences and classes to help us improve our skills. On top of the time spent reading and attending classes, there are critique groups, social networking sites, book signings and festivals – oh, yeah – and the time we actually use to put the words on the page (I am currently camped out in the lunch room at work). If wealth is your goal, I would advise you to choose bank robbery over writing. Even with the jail time, it would be much more profitable.

One of the aspects of writing I find most interesting is the camaraderie found in the writing community. Most writers will go out of their way to help their fellows. Blog hop tours abound on the internet. If you’ve not witnessed this phenomenon, it works as follows; a number of authors give up their precious blog space to promote another author’s book. This is normally part of a book launch promotion. On the surface, it might seem like McDonald’s is promoting the Jumbo Jack or Chevy giving ad time to the Mustang, but nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s all about synergy and karma. First of all, books and the stories they contain are consumable at an astounding pace. Some readers can tear through several novels a week (my retired mother in law for example). That’s a lot of writing. Second, readers’ tastes are all over the map. One of my horror fans may see a blog hop for a historical romance novel (something she would never read herself) and recommend it to her sister. Most of us do not see other writers as competition, but as allies. Critique groups (on line and face to face) are invaluable to most of our writing processes. Beta readers are often writers themselves. We teach and learn from each other. Synergy in its purest form.

Here’s something I personally like about blog hops; they give me a day off without short changing my readers (all three of them). Someone else fills the empty space on my web site and I don’t even have to pay them to do it. Often, they do a better job than I do and I get an education to boot. And when my book is released, I’ll have friends helping me promote it.

Social networking is the fuel for our creative-community fire. Let’s face it, if we only communicated with writers we met in person, most of our circles wouldn’t surround a coffee cup. If not for the internet, critique groups would be few and far between and beta readers would reside with unicorns and bigfeet (bigfoots?). So get out there and build some bridges.

Yes, social networking is necessary. Unless you’ve hit the NYTBS list two or three times and even then it’s still a good idea. There are a lot a folks out there who know more about this than I do. WANA mentor and social networking goddess Kristen Lamb has a new book on that very subject. I have not made it that far down my reading list yet, but based on her blogs and reviews I feel it’s safe to give it two thumbs up. You can buy it here.

In the words of Harvey Mackay, dig your well before you’re thirsty. Build your platform. Make friends with other authors, editors (yes, they have friends, too) and beta readers. Help others out before you ask for their help. Here’s your hammer, the wood’s over there. Now get busy. Until next week, Dear Reader, scary construction dreams.

Ray Bradbury Challenge #8 – Jail Bait

It’s been nearly two months since I started this and I have to say that I’m really enjoying the weekly deadline. It’s forcing me to get things finished. For a full explanation of the challenge, check out my friend Arial Burnz’s blog here. Once again, huge kudos to Goldilocks for some great input on this story. More notes after the story.

 

Jail Bait

“Touch me again and all your daddy’s money won’t be able to fix what I’ll do to your face.”

Jennifer’s dark eyes, intensified by black liner and shadow, narrowed to slits as they focused on Amanda’s baby blues. The other girl’s face reflected the abject fear instilled by Jennifer’s hand clamped around her throat forcing her head against the locker.

“Let her go, Psycho,” one of the other cheerleaders said, her pleading tone belying her tough words.

Jennifer released her grip and stepped back, smirking at the streaks of mascara and the red marks marring Amanda’s otherwise pretty face. She and the rest of the cheer squad bolted from the locker room like spooked deer.

“That was freaking awesome!”

Jennifer spun around with a start. Standing behind her was the most pathetic excuse for a human being she had ever seen; well, under the age of thirty anyway. The girl’s scraggly brown hair hung in lifeless tangles over a pair of thick, horn-rimmed glasses. Her blouse was untucked on one side and both stockings were crumpled around her ankles.

“Either swear or don’t,” Jennifer said. “The word you’re looking for is ‘fucking’, as in ‘that was fucking awesome’.”

The mousey girl’s face blossomed into several shades of crimson as her attention was drawn to the tops of her shoes.

“I – Momma says swearin’s a sin and sinners go to hell.”

“Are you kidding me?” said Jennifer. “You must get your ass kicked every day. What’s your name?”

“Tiffany Maxwell,” said the girl. “Did you really kill your daddy, like everybody says?”

Jennifer sighed and rolled her eyes. “Sure I did. Hacked him to pieces and stuffed him in the trash can. That’s how I got in here. Hollingsworth Academy For Girls has educated some of the most notorious murderers in history, didn’t you know?”

Tiffany scraped her shoe across the floor. “You wanna get a latte or something after school?”

“Hell no.” Jennifer watched Tiffany’s shoulders slump forward. “Screw class, let’s go now.”

Jennifer grabbed Tiffany’s hand and dragged her out of the locker room.

*****

 

“I think this is a really bad idea,” Jennifer said as she watched Tiffany apply soft, pink lipstick.

“You’re just jealous. Besides, the faculty honors dinner is a Hollingsworth tradition.”

“Riding alone with a male teacher isn’t. Mr. Laramie could get fired.”

Tiffany fixed her gaze on Jennifer’s reflection. “Aren’t you the one who keeps telling me to get out and live a little? Well, this is me, taking your advice. What do you think?”

Tiffany spun around to show off the results.

Jennifer had to admit the transformation had been amazing. It was hard to believe that the confident beauty preening herself was the shy little geek in the locker room just three months ago.

I do good work. Maybe a little too good.

“Oh, I think I’ve created a monster,” Jennifer said. “You’re a hottie and a half. Just remember, he’s a teacher and a lot older than you.”

“You forgot incredibly sexy. And there are some things you can’t teach me,” Tiffany said with a wicked grin. “I’m outta here. Thanks for your help.”

“Behave and have a good time,” said Jennifer as Tiffany waltzed out the door.

After insuring that she was gone, Jennifer trotted into the basement, opened an old trunk and filled her backpack with a collection of items from its contents.

*****

“Wait … I don’t think …” Tiffany pulled away and removed her teacher’s hand from under her blouse. “It’s late, I should be getting home.”

 

Mike Laramie fixed his dark eyes on Tiffany as he ran his fingers down her neck and traced small designs between her young breasts.

“So soon? And just when we were having such a good time.”

Laramie slid his hands on either side of the girl’s head. His eyes turned black as his skin darkened. Tiffany squirmed, attempting to free herself from his grasp. She screamed and clawed at the hands that had become gnarled and stunk of sulfur. Small tendrils of smoke rose from the corners of Laramie’s mouth, his nose and his ears. Flames danced over his clothing until it dissolved into ash. Long, black nails sprouted from the ends of his fingers allowing him to make short work of Tiffany’s clothes. He stood, admiring the curves of her nubile form and running his fingers over her soft skin.

 

 

The front door exploded in a shower of splinters, several of which caught the demon/Laramie in the back. His roar was the voice of both pain and rage.

“Unauthorized soul stealing, Miklesh?” said Jennifer as she strode through the door. “And an innocent on top of it all? You should know better.”

“You will regret crossing me, witch!” he bellowed as flames erupted from his hands and shot towards Jennifer. She raised her hands and a white mist appeared absorbing the fire.

“Not happening, asshole. Your time is up and you’re going back. You know the rules.”

Jennifer pulled a pair of translucent rods from her belt and held them over her head.

“Majindum nos daemon. Shanno dereaus.”

Blue lighting erupted from the rods and engulfed Miklesh. He howled for a moment before vanishing in a cloud of smoke.

“Holy … fucking … shit!” Tiffany sat up on the couch oblivious to the fact she was buck naked.

“You wanna get dressed?” Jennifer pulled a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt from her backpack and tossed them to Tiffany.

“What the hell just happened? Who – or what – are you?” she said slipping on the clothes.

“Long story short; I just dispatched a demon back to hell. It’s what I do, sorta like a bounty hunter.”

“So you saved my life.”

“Don’t get all sentimental; you were the bait.”

 

I have some great ideas for this character and story line. I may very well have to expand this into a novel, with a nod to Buffy, the girls from Charmed and the guys from Supernatural. We’ll see. Thanks for hanging out and scary demon dreams, Dear Reader.

Blog Hop with Guest Author Jenn Nixon

As the Fall book release season gets under way, Blog Hopping is in full swing. Now here in California, the temperature is in triple digits but the calendar says Autumn is two weeks away. Mother Nature is quite the comedienne.

This week it is my pleasure to welcome my friend Jenn Nixon to my blog. Jenn is an internet buddy I met via Twitter. She’s from New Jersey, but apparently has never met Snooki nor did she ever date ‘The Situation’. I know, I was dumbfounded. Apparently Jenn doesn’t get out much choosing writing and self promotion over the East Coast social scene. This explains the glaring lack of paparazzi photos of Jenn humiliating herself in public. Maybe she’ll show up to a book signing tipsy and land in a stranger’s lap. Hope springs eternal, cell cams wait at the ready.

Jenn was kind enough to send all kinds of stuff over for me to post in exchange for letting me out of her basement for the Blog Hop. Looks exciting and I’m wishing her the best of luck. *rubs ligature marks on wrists* Girl ties some mean knots; must be a Jersey thing. Contact info and buy links down at the bottom: Yes, so you’ll read everything and no, you are not allowed to skip ahead. You’ll miss the secret brain washing message all the good stuff.

LgMind

MIND: The Beginning

 

Blurb

 

After Dina Ranger loses telepathic contact with her brother, she breaks into his apartment and stumbles onto a special government unit responsible for monitoring the psychic population. She’s offered a job where she can use her psionic gifts to help people.

Stranded on earth over a hundred years ago, Liam of Shria is searching for a metal needed to repair his ship when he finds Dina, a telepathic investigator, and narrowly saves her from an exploding alien pod. Together, they uncover a plot to rebuild an ancient weapon and discover the truth behind Dina’s abilities while unlocking dangerous secrets about the alien presence on earth.

Can they stop a powerful weapon meant to enslave the human race? Can their relationship survive the secrets of the past or will it tear them apart?

 

JennBW

Author Jenn Nixon

 Author Bio:

Jenn’s love of writing started the year she received her first diary and Nancy Drew novel. Throughout her teenage years, she kept a diary of her personal thoughts and feelings but graduated from Nancy Drew to other mystery suspense novels.

Jenn often adds a thriller and suspense element to anything she writes be it Romance, Science Fiction, or Fantasy. When not writing, she spends her time reading, observing pop culture, playing with her two dogs, and working on various charitable projects in her home state of New Jersey.

 

Excerpt from “MIND: The Beginning”

The woman’s phone rang for the second time in ten minutes. Someone really wanted to talk to her. Considering it was five in the morning, he assumed it was one of the two men she’d been with at the visitor’s center. Liam had an inkling she needed to answer the next call.

Going to have to wake her…” He crossed the motel room and shook Dina’s shoulder. She mumbled, rolled away, and stretched her legs down the bed. Come on, wake up.           

I’m awake, get out of my head. “And stop staring at my ass.”

Did that earlier when I put you to bed.”

Oh, ha, you’re a funny alien.” She blinked, the expression on her face changing slowly as she moved to the edge of the bed and sat up. “This is all real; it’s not some psi ability.”

Yes, ma’am.”

You…look human.”

Frankly, so does the vast majority of intelligent evolved life out there. We’re all made up of the same bits and pieces of the universe. Those shows you humans entertain yourselves with are so far off base.” Liam smirked, thinking of all the fantastically bizarre creatures science-fiction had turned out over the years.

We all look the same?”

Not the same, similar. Various differences, skin tone, hair and eyes, appendage length, shape—”

Powers? You were invisible, teleported, what else can you do?”

A lot. Most humanoids have psionic traits in their genetics, only some develop depending on their planetary conditions and evolution. I come from one of the older, more advanced planets in the universe.”

Okay, information overload, let’s take it down a notch.”

We’re going to be interrupted shortly anyway.”

Dina’s phone rang. Her eyes expanded wide. “You’re a precog too?”

No,” he replied with a chuckle. “Third phone call. That’s why I woke you. I figure it’s important.”

Contact Info

MIND: The Beginning Purchase Link: http://www.amazon.com/Mind-The-Beginning-Jenn-Nixon/dp/1939173434

Website: www.jennnixon.com

Facebook: facebook.com/JennNixonAuthor

Blog: www.jennafern.blogspot.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jennnixon

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Jenn-Nixon/e/B002BLNBBQ/

Past Release: Romantic Suspense, Lucky’s Charm

Ray Bradbury Challenge #7 – A Date With Destiny

For an explanation of The Ray Bradbury Challenge, read my friend Arial’s blog. A special thank you to Goldilocks for her help with this story; she added the heart.

 

The bridge loomed ahead as Matthew wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans, his pulse pounding in his ears. Five years was a long time to harbor such an irrational fear but that was over as of today. He closed his eyes and ran through the visualization exercise Dr. Anderson taught him.

“See yourself driving across the bridge; in control and rock steady. You’ll be on the other side in no time.”

It took him six months to stop reliving the accident. The first time Matthew tried visualization, his mind was filled with images of fire, smoke and shattered glass, along with Monica’s broken body, hurled through the windshield, lying bleeding on the asphalt. ‘The Accident’ had taken on a personality of its own; it was the single defining moment of his twenty-one year life. It was also the period, final chapter and end of Monica’s. It had only been their first date, but the memory of her face filled his mind as tears filled his eyes.

“You’re too chicken-shit. You won’t do it.”

Matthew’s knees slammed into the bottom of the dashboard at the sound of Monica’s voice.

“It’s just nerves. Shake it off,” Matthew said, his knuckles white against the black steering wheel.

“Just cuz you say it don’t make it true, butt head. At least have the decency to look at me.”

Matthew turned his head to the right and swallowed a hard lump in his throat. Sitting in the passenger seat was Monica wearing the same white skirt and green tank top she’d had on five years ago, her perfume wafting into his nose. A familiar pressure in his crotch seemed to both amplify and mock his fear. Monica ran her fingers over his bulge, squeezing it near the end.

“Nice to know I can still make you hot. Of course, you know you’re getting turned on by a CORPSE!”

The skin on Monica’s face cracked and sloughed off in ribbons exposing a weathered skull crawling with maggots. Her hand transformed into a bony claw clamping down on his member like a vice. The sickly sweet odor of rotted meat filled the car as Matthew screamed and stomped on the gas pedal. His car shot across the bridge like a rocket, careened off the guard rail and slammed into the concrete stanchion before bursting into flames. His skull was crushed against a steel beam, sparing him the agony of burning to death.

 

 

“You screamed like a little bitch,” said Monica.

“Screw you. Let me squeeze your tit in a vice. I bet you’d squeal like a pig. Especially if all my skin came off. You are such a bitch.” Matthew turned away from Monica and crossed his arms over his chest.

“Don’t be such a baby,” said Monica, sliding her hands around his stomach and down into his lap. “This could be the best second date ever.”

Pain of Change and August Dvorak

Day one of a four day weekend and I’m up at 5:30. Considering I’m usually up at 2:30, I did get to sleep in a few hours. Thought I’d share my latest experience with the three of you that read my blog. And thanks for your support.

In 1936, a man by the name of August Dvorak developed a keyboard layout as an alternative to the QWERTY style (the one most of us still use today). It was far more efficient and put less strain on the typist. Unfortunately, the typewriters of the time had mechanical arms that forced the type against the page. If two letters near each other were struck together, the arms would jam and the typist would have to stop and untangle them. The QWERTY layout was not designed to slow the typist down as is commonly believed, but to speed them up by preventing key jams.

Dvorak’s layout never caught on, not because it didn’t work but because the typewriters of his day were inferior. I learned to type almost forty years ago on a mechanical typewriter (yes, I’m that old despite my youthful appearance and immature childlike demeanor) that had no numbers or letters on the keys. Touch typing was the only option.

I had heard about Dvorak and two weeks ago decided to give it a try. Wow. Old dogs, new tricks, you do the math. I have both my work computer and my personal laptop changed over (most operating systems will allow you to do this). I used a label maker to change the keys. (See photo) Now the fun begins. And the pain. Change is hard, especially old habits. My fingers keep wanting to go back to their wicked old ways. I am nothing if not stubborn and I am committed to making this happen.

Keyboard

My modified Dvorak Keyboard

Blogging is another habit I am forcing myself to do. WANA Goddess Kristen Lamb talks at length about the importance of blogging. You can read her blog here. She’s more well known than I am and I’m assuming makes more money with her book sales than I do. So I shut up and listen. And blog. And learn to type all over again.

I read an article that said doing things differently (brushing your teeth with a different hand, etc.) helps keep your brain healthy… Imma be a fricken genius!

 There are a lot of good habits I would like to develop and more bad ones I would like to lose (you don’t want to know, it ain’t pretty) but change is a slow and painful process. Sometimes you have to take two steps back before you move forward. My current typing speed is a fraction of what it used to be and I still type every day. Fortunately all I use typing for at work is email and I’m in edit mode on my current WIP (Nightmares and Body Parts Vol. I),

NABP KC COVER Final lores

so the timing is pretty good. But I still have this weekly blog and my Ray Bradbury Challenge, so the slow typing is still having an impact on my life. No pain, no gain … but typing slow hurts my brain.

 I’m signing off early this week. Between Dvorak and the bus (and a dead skunk) … well, 4:30 a.m. is too early for a headache. Until next week, Dear Readers, painful life changing dreams.

Ray Bradbury Challenge #6- Hell On Wheels

Had to chop 250 words to make the limit. Couple of twists to keep you on your toes. For details on the challenge, read my friend Arial’s blog here.

Hell On Wheels – photo by TxPilot on Flikr

“Shit!” Red lights in the rearview. My tires crunch the gravel as I pull onto the shoulder. The all too familiar swagger makes my heart sink. O’Malley again? Double shit.

I hold my license out the window hoping to skip the lecture.

“Do you know why I stopped you?”

“Because of my stunning good looks and charming personality?”

“OK, Comedy Central reject, get your ass out here and assume the position.”

O’Malley’s in rare form today. This should be a hoot.

“I don’t kiss on the first date, just so you know,” I say as I climb out of the car.

“Save the lip, sweet cheeks. This is getting old. You best straighten up, ‘less you wanna be walking.”

Yeah, not so much.

“So give me a warning and let me go. No ticket for me, no paperwork for you. Sounds like a win-win in my book.”

I can feel the glare through O’Malley’s shades.

“Not this time. Boss has you on his radar.”

Triple shit!

“I don’t even know where to start. You did see the speed limit sign – and the stop sign, the red light and the pedestrians, did you not?”

“C’mon O’Malley. You tag me for all that I’ll be hoofin’ it for sure.” I’m pretty sure I’m screwed, but some little part of my brain won’t give up the fight.

“I don’t have much choice. Unless you wanna play nice.”

A shudder rips through me despite the heat. It’s not like she’s ugly or anything. Even for a demon O’Malley’s, well, gorgeous. And being with another woman – been there, done that, too. I just know what will happen if I give in. She’ll be on my ass – not in a good way. She’ll own me. My mind is racing. You might think being in Hell is as bad as it gets but Dante nailed it. Things can always get worse.

“I’ll spend a whole week at your place, anything goes. That should scratch that itch you can’t quite reach.” I know how good this sounds to her; I’ve been going around and around with this bitch for two decades.

“What’s the catch?” She saunters up close and runs her long black nail down the side of my neck. I clench my teeth and move back a step.

“You and I race. Winner take all.”

Flames pour from her eyes, nose and mouth.

“What’s a skinny little girl like you want in the very unlikely event you win?”

“Your car, Cherry Red.”

A wide smile creeps across O’Malley’s face.

“You must think a lot of that hot little ass of yours. I win, you’re mine every night for a year.”

I play like I’m shocked.

“Damn, O’Malley. It’s not like I saved somebody’s life. I stopped at one red light. Old habits die hard.” One year? I would have been willing to bet two.

“Take it or leave it. I’m not the one in trouble here.”

“You suck, O’Malley.”

She gets her face right in front of mine and licks my cheek with her long, black tongue.

“Sugar, you have no idea.”

I cringe and wipe her saliva off before it has a chance to arouse me. There’s a lot about demons they don’t teach you in Sunday school.

“Fine. Since it’s my challenge, I get first pick. Identical vehicles, no magic. You pick the course.”

“Hound’s Tooth Canyon.”

No surprise. I swear, demons outside the bedroom have no imagination. You don’t want to know how I know that.

“The car is my brother’s 1969 Camaro, baby blue with every single detail as I remember it. Unless you can’t handle that.”

“Don’t be insulting.”

No lightening, no smoke, just two copies of the car that killed my brother and landed me in Hell. I swallow a hard lump in my throat.

“We start at the top of the canyon, first one through the Gap is the winner. The Guardian will decide if it’s close. Seal it in blood.”

I pick up a piece of flint and rake it across my palm. O’Malley uses her finger nail. She bleeds, I don’t. I clasp my hand against hers and clench my teeth as her blood seeps into my flesh. Now neither one of us can welch on the bet.

“Leave the key, O’Malley, in case you don’t make it back.”

“Gettin’ kinda cocky, doncha think?” she says as she strolls back to her car. Cherry Red is the fastest thing on four wheels in all of Hell. Deep red paint; looks like it’s still wet and two inches thick. O’Malley sets a long black key on the hood.

I jump in one of the Camaros and crank the engine. It purrs just like I remember it. I take a moment to soak in the details. O’Malley’s good, it even smells like his car. I flip open the glove box and peek inside. I slam it shut as O’Malley pulls away.

I catch up as she comes to a stop at the black line marking the canyon entrance. A red light glows in the air; when it turns green, I punch the accelerator to the floor. The glove box opens as I expected. My brother never fixed the latch. On the first curve I cut in front of O’Malley making her swerve. Her scream echoes in my ears over the sound of the engine and I watch her car plummet over the side of the cliff. I cruise to the bottom of the canyon just to make it official. Before I get out, I reach over, pick the Bible up off the passenger’s seat and stuff it back into the glove box.

Back where I started, I grab the key off Cherry’s hood and slide into the driver’s seat. I crank the engine and it roars to life like something wild and pissed. My foot hits the gas and I leave a trail of dust, flames and smoke behind me. Not even the Devil himself can catch me now.

Time Warps and Weekend Warriors

Yes, I’m tardy. Blame it on the Time Warp.

 

I need to give you a little background info for this to make sense. My baby bear youngest son, now almost 19, has cerebral palsy and uses a power wheelchair. He goes to college on the city bus and is a very creative graphic design student. He is also as independent as his disability will allow. To further his quest for self reliance, Goldilocks asked if it might be possible to do some minor remodeling in the bear’s cave boy’s room. Her eye batting accompanied by Baby Bear (BB’s) grin of anticipation hardly left me any choice in the matter.

Her list of requests was, on the surface, not unreasonable. Relocate the TV to the opposite corner of the room and build a small platform to raise his mini fridge to a usable height. Given that I possess a general contractor’s license (thankfully inactive), it was assumed this project would proceed with the precision of a SEAL Team operation. As it turns out, circus seals would be a better analogy.

While I have been busy slaving away working, technology has gone berserk. Like cell phones, TVs have suddenly become ‘smart’. (The content they deliver leads me to believe this is yet another oxy-moron). Add to the mix a seven year old TiVo (DVR) and a cheap DVD player… The result is me looking up wiring directions on the internet. Oh, wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

For the TV to work, both the cable and the ethernet cord had to be relocated. (Remember when TVs only had one cord and it plugged into the electrical outlet?) Smart TV? Hmmm. Unlike the clowns technicians from the cable company, I do not tack cable to the wall in plain sight. (I have a theory this is the origin of the word tacky.) This requires that I climb into the attic. In August. Yes, it is nice and cool in the early morning. I’ve been in lots of attics. I know this. So I worked on several writing projects first and climbed into the attic at 11:30. Second degree burns did not make the job any easier and Goldilocks complained about the smell of burnt flesh. My visit to the Land of Deadly Insulation and Dust was brief. It was, however, long enough to produce sweat in areas of my body not prone to moisture emission. Another odor to share with my family. Because of my incredible planning skills, I was forced to cut the hole and pull the wires out of the wall behind the flat screen T.V. which was already mounted. Taking it down would been admitting to a lacking in my abilities. As if…

At some point there were numerous cables and wires (and bears… Oh my! None of whom offered to help me so I’m cutting them out of my will. They’ll just have to earn the extra $200 on their own.) At this point I have two problems. One, I can only get a picture on half a dozen channels (four Spanish, one Korean and a 24 hour infomercial station). Two, the remote  is not changing the cable menu. Goldilocks saunters in the room and casually inquires about the availability of HBO. I’m beginning to suspect a hidden agenda. After reviewing the results, a call is placed to our local cable provider who shall remain nameless as I refuse to promote them. A clown technician will arrive the next day. Fine.

The following day BB and I trek to the DIY Mecca known as Home Depot. These are my people. They love me there. Our quest is a shelf large and strong enough to support TiVo and the cable box. This requires buying a large eight foot board and having it cut down. Apparently I’m the only idiot customer who needs a shelf wider than twelve inches. BB and I waited so long to get help that we looked like Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top by the time we got home. Shelf, brackets and wall anchors in hand, I bravely forge onward. Everything proceeds smoothly until I try to mount the power strip to the wall. None of the screws I have are small enough. This gives a whole new meaning to the saying “Size matters”. I find some nails small enough and assuage my inner contractor with the assurance that the strip will be behind the TV and nails will be just fine. He’s not happy but he lets it pass.

I am now faced with a tangle of wires and cables that would confound an Agean sailor. Our cable guy has called to say he is on his way so I opt to leave it as is in case I have to change something. A knock at the door and we have two techs for the price of one. The younger of the two informs me he is a trainee. “Oh, that means you don’t get to touch anything,” I say. My demeanor and nervous laugh make it sound like I’m kidding. I’m not. I’m just relieved that his name isn’t Larry or Jim Carrey. The entertainment wouldn’t be worth the aggravation.

Older, experienced cable guy looks over the TV and the box, then presses the little button with “CBL” on it and magically everything works just fine. He probably doesn’t read my blog so he doesn’t know about the clown reference. I think about faking a stroke so he’ll forget what an idiot moron simpleton I am. I reject that idea as Goldilocks might be inclined to call 911 (I’m going with this theory, shaky as it is) or Middle Bear who is an EMT. I justify this by reminding myself that I probably won’t see Cable Guy again but I am most likely stuck with Goldilocks and the three bears and would hear about the fake stroke until such time as I have a real one. Given the project at hand, the odds of that occurring are better than average.

I notice that time is passing much faster than it does when I am at work. Apparently honey do lists invoke a special time warp that sucks the weekend dry in an eye blink. I make a note to call Steven Hawking about the phenomenon. There may be a book deal in this.

At this point I am faced with a flat screen television mounted to the wall (yes, to a stud. What kind of idiot do you take me for? Rhetorical question…requires no answer), a cable box, a TiVo unit and a DVD player. Too many shiny things in one place; I almost go into ADD shock. I do have the presence of mind to mark all the wires before I disconnect them and wrap them up. By some miracle – due no doubt to my sacrificing several small animals in my back yard – (What PETA doesn’t know won’t hurt them) the installation is complete and everything works. BB is happy, Goldilocks is happy and even makes me an ice cream sandwich with a strawberry Pop Tart and Butterfinger ice cream. Totally worth it. I suspect the entire scenario will be reenacted in the coming months as Goldilocks has confessed to a serious case of TV envy. (My paranoia about hidden agendas now justified.)  Just keep the ice cream sandwiches coming. Can I get chocolate chip cookies instead of Pop Tarts next time? Until next week Dear Readers, scary T.V. dreams.