Tag Archives: writers

Fresh Ink Group Offers Half-Price on Video Book Trailers!

 

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Multi-media indie publisher Fresh Ink Group is running a half-price sale on their video book trailers. Regularly $198, get yours now for just $99. Fresh Ink Group can customize a video to your specifications and needs. Voice overs, music, live action video, and animation! Fresh Ink Group does it all.

Stop by and see what Fresh Ink Group can do for you!

PublishNow.FreshInkGroup.com

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Fun Read: My Review of Girl Wears Those Shoes.

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Book Blurb:

Aspiring young Chinese immigrant Gigi O survives by working as a stripper, but she strives for true success in the U.S. real-estate industry. Navigating this highly competitive business is tough, especially when her only support comes from the deeply flawed man she loves and her old cohorts from the strip club. Issues of betrayal and trust, loyalty and commitment complicate her goals even as one lesbian friend adds new dimensions to her understanding of love versus desire. Then the market crashes and financial turmoil threatens to rob Gigi O of all she has achieved. Can she find new ways to chase her dreams—and still manage to keep her clothes on? Or might she find a better reason to take them off? Girl Wears Those Shoes is a tale of love and power, the story of one woman who wants to make the world her own—if only she can figure out how.

My Review:

Rating: ★★★★★

Girl Wears Those Shoes tells the story of Gigi O, a young Chinese American woman at a crossroads in her life. She’s barely getting the bills paid while dancing in a strip club. Sure, Gigi may be a popular girl at the club, but she wants more out of life than her current circumstances can afford. Like most humans, she craves love and success and stability. When Gigi enters the world of real estate, her prospects begin to brighten.

Author Jenny Wang has crafted a story that reads like a memoir, even though it is fiction. Her characters offer a variety of personalities and subplots. Romance and lost love share the same spaces in this story set in Houston, Texas. This is Jenny Wang’s first story. It will be interesting to see where she takes these characters, should she choose to write a sequel. A fun read indeed.

About the Author:

Rp2z7B8S_400x400After two decades in the real-estate industry, Jenny Wang has established her brand, “Jenny Wang Houston,” with JWang Properties, a boutique agency with a personal touch, and JWang Media, a custom-video production team for promotion and marketing. An active community booster, Jenny is the past president of the Women’s Council of Realtors, Houston Network. An Ambassador of the Houston Ballet, she holds a lifetime membership in the University of Houston Alumni Association. Author of her debut novel, Girl Wears Those Shoes, Jenny Wang is proud to live her principles even as she pursues her own unique vision.

Where to Buy:

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Last Words of the Famous

Everybody dies at the end. Even the stars—unless you believe in reincarnation, then there’s a potential chance for a sequel. It’s just the way life in this world is set up. In the famous words of Jim Morrison, “No one here gets out alive.” Famous words, sure enough. But those were not his last.

gettyimages-55653323-copyWhat exactly were Morrison’s last uttered words? Well, if his girlfriend Pamela Courson is to be believed, Jim’s final words were, allegedly, “Are you there, Pam? Pam, are you there?” She found him dead in the bathtub a short while later.

Final words, as heard by those who claim to have been there at the end, can be humorous or sad or startling or even eye-opening. They may give comfort to loved ones left behind or pause for thought to fans who never knew the deceased as anything other than a star.

Here is a selection of last words uttered by famous people as they slipped the surly bonds of earth.

gettyimages-515986080James Dean, actor, two-time Oscar nominee, as he drove a silver Porsche Spyder on his way to a race in Salinas, California: “That guy’s gotta stop . . . He’ll see us.” Unfortunately, the guy in question, a 23-year-old student named Donald Turnupseed, did not see the car in time and turned directly into its path. According to Dean’s passenger, mechanic Rolf Wutherich, Dean survived for about twenty minutes following the wreck, screaming in agony.

Legendary actress Joan Crawford left this world an angry and bitter soul. As Crawford’s life drew to its conclusion, her housekeeper began to pray aloud for the woman’s soul. Before breathing her last, Crawford is reported to have snapped, “Dammit . . . Don’t you dare ask God to help me.”

Actor, comedian, and musician Dudley Moore’s final words seem to suggest an experience of sorts. As companion Rena Fruchter held his hand, Moore allegedly said aloud, “I can hear the music all around me.”

Hollywood legend John Wayne spent his last days drifting in and out of consciousness. His daughter, Aissa Wayne, tending a bedside vigil, held his hand and asked if he knew who she was. The Duke responded, saying, “Of course I know who you are. You’re my girl. I love you.”

In the humorous category, author Oscar Wilde, lying on his deathbed in a fleabag hotel in Paris, is reported to have uttered, “This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do.”

Family members at the bedside of Apple founder Steve Jobs say his dying words were, “Oh, wow. Oh, wow. Oh, wow.” Simple words, really, for such a momentous occasion.

Frank Sinatra passed away after saying, “I’m losing it.”

American rhythm and blues singer Johnny Ace, while playing with a pistol, utter these final words: “I’ll show you that it won’t shoot.”

Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, passed away at the age of 71 while working in his garden. He turned to his wife and said, “You are wonderful,” then clutched his chest and died.

MV5BMzEyNjQzOTQ5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNzY5MjI2._V1_UX178_CR0,0,178,264_AL_Michael Landon, the beloved star of such classic television shows like Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie, passed away in 1991 after a much-publicized battle with cancer. As the end drew near, Landon’s family gathered around the actor’s bed. His son said it was time to move on. Landon said, “You’re right. It’s time. I love you all.”

Percy Grainger, the Australian composer, with his dying breath, told his wife Ella, “You’re the only one I like.”

Ernest Hemingway, before committing suicide with his favorite shotgun, told his wife Mary, “Goodnight, my kitten.” Hemingway took his life in the front foyer of his home in Ketchum, Idaho.

Basketball great “Pistol” Pete Maravich collapsed and died during a pickup game. Moments before his death, Maravich proclaimed, “I feel great.”

Singer/guitarist Bo Diddley died while listening to the song “Walk Around Heaven.” His last word was a simple “Wow.”

Sir Winston Churchill announced, “I’m bored with it all,” before drawing his last breath.

Emily Dickinson, at her moment of death, told those in the room with her, “I must go in, for the fog is rising.”

Author Truman Capote, as he lay dying of liver disease, phlebitis, and multiple drug intoxication, repeated, “Mama— Mama— Mama.”

James Brown, the hardest working man in show business, as his life dwindled down to mere seconds, said, “I’m going away tonight.”

Perhaps the most thought-provoking final word comes from the surgeon Joseph Henry Green. Upon checking his own pulse as he lay upon his death bed, simply said, “Stopped.”

Whether we’re famous or anonymous, we can’t know what our last words in this world might be. That moment may come along while we’re busy preparing for tomorrow. The Bible tells us to never let the sun go down on your anger. Wise words, those. As for my own last words? Whatever they may be, I just hope they convey a message of love, of gratitude, of forgiveness.

Kindness Versus the Truth: Which One Wins?

Just a little observation.

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Kindness versus the truth: Which one wins? It’s a simple enough question—though it may take a heated debate to smooth away all the various rough edges. Some will say you cannot have one without the other. I disagree.

The truth is often brutal in its honesty. If an individual on the receiving end isn’t prepared to hear the unvarnished facts, they will, no doubt, view the messenger as unkind—maybe even evil. This is a prevailing symptom of an all-too-common disease plaguing the world today. And just what is this new plague? It’s the idea that we can no longer offer opinions without some individual on social media becoming offended, hurt, or angered, as if by merely stating an opinion, you have personally attacked another by virtue of their having stumbled upon your tweet or blog or Facebook post.

Okay. Let me explain. On a recent Friday night, I came across a Tweet from an author asking a credible question:

Do you ever feel like the characters are writing the story for you?

Simple enough. And it’s a legitimate inquiry. Many authors tweeted their response. Most of them said, yes, they often feel their characters are writing their stories.

I weighed in with my own opinion. I tweeted:

I am the author, the creator. My characters do not exist without me. They do not have the ability to act independent of me. If they write for me, I am not the author. Those who claim the characters write for them are either short-changing themselves or they aren’t real writers.

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Again, this is simply my opinion in answering the question posed. Well, my opinion earned scorn and derision from a pair of writers who took my words as an attack on them personally. Offended, they were. How dare I “crap” all over another writer’s “process!” Well, no. Claiming your characters are the ones writing your story isn’t a “process.” I do understand the mindset. I get where these people are coming from. You get lost in the creative elements and it feels as if the story is unfolding on its own.

But it isn’t. You, as the writer, are constructing every character, every line of dialogue, building every scene. You did all the leg work in plotting and planning. We all do—regardless of whether we outline our story or write it by the seat of our pants. Even those so-called pantsers usually have some idea where the story will go before they set pen to paper—or tap those keys. When I hear somebody claim the characters are doing the writing, I get the feeling this person might be making it all up as they go along—not a clue as to where it’s going or how they’ll get there.

This brings me back to the title question: Kindness versus truth: Which one wins? You can express kindness in telling an athlete they lack the skills to play organized football, but it’s still going to hurt. You’ve just crushed a dream.

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Over the last two decades, I have watched many seasons of the television show American Idol. The program has been a springboard for some incredibly gifted singers and musicians. We’ve become familiar with their songs, their voices, their names. However, for every Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood, there are dozens of individuals who did not make it beyond the audition stage. I recall many alleged singers who were just plain awful. You can find some of those bad auditions on YouTube, should you need a reference point.

Anyway, when the judges dismissed these performers, telling them that they didn’t have what it takes to move on to the next round, many of the rejected contestants responded by hurling angry insults at those who have built successful careers in the music business.

“How dare you say I can’t sing! My mother says I’m as good as Lady Gaga.”

As writers, most of us have cultivated thick skins. We need it in this line of creativity. Our work is ultimately sent out into the world to be read, judged, criticized, and dissected. For all the positive reviews our work may garner, there will be those who view it in a negative light.

They didn’t connect with your protagonist.

They couldn’t follow the plot.

They just didn’t believe the dialogue rang true.

It happens to the best of us.

Now, to my point in this observation. If you’re a writer, don’t take the little things so personally. If a bad review comes your way, read it, search for those criticisms you might use, then move on. Don’t linger. Don’t replay the negative remarks over and over inside your head. The same goes for opinions—especially those shared in a tweet. They really shouldn’t matter to the writer. Opinions are often little more than the observations of others. If you believe your characters are writing your story, then so be it. Who am I to say otherwise? Just write, create, have fun, and the opinions of others be damned.

And work on that thick skin.

If you offer your work to the world, you’re going to need it.

 

My #Review of No Such Luck by @StaciTroilo

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Book Blurb:

Piper Seidel has one thing going for her—a red carnation given to her by Tommy Burnett in the tenth grade. It might have dried over the years, but it’s still her good luck charm. Losing it sets her life in a downward spiral, forcing her to return to her hometown where she comes face to face with her high school crush.

The years have been kind to Tommy, who looks better than ever. Unfortunately, Piper is at her worst, continually embarrassing herself whenever he’s around. The only plus? Her long-time friend, Jack Rhodes, still lives in town. Since she last saw him, his legs have grown longer, his biceps thicker, and his shoulders broader. He was always the brother she never had, but now she can’t help noticing him in an unsisterly way. Jack is every bit as caring as he’s ever been—until her bad luck drives him away, maybe forever.

Piper needs a new good luck charm, and fast, before she loses her final chance at happiness.

My Review:

Rating: ★★★★★

Piper Seidel needs a break in life. After her petulance get her fired from another job, she loses a trusted good luck charm. Convinced life will be an uphill battle from that point on, Piper packs up the car and heads for her childhood home in snowy Pennsylvania.

Here, she reconnects with her father and stepmother, runs into her high school boyfriend, and discovers new feelings for another boy (now grown man) who’d once been her best friend.

The story unfolds with an air of a light romance. There’s a sweetness here that lures the reader into the tale. Troilo’s well-formed characters are believable and likeable. Her dialogue carries a realism that sometimes has readers feeling as if we’re eavesdropping on the conversations of others.

No Such Luck is a romance. And being a novella, it is also a quick read. If you’re into good, solid storytelling, this one is for you.

About the Author:

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Staci Troilo grew up in Western Pennsylvania writing stories and poetry in her free time, so it was no surprise that she studied writing in college. After receiving creative and professional writing degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, she went on to get her Master’s Degree in Professional Writing, and she worked in corporate communications until she had her children. When they had grown, she went on to become a writing professor, and now she is a freelance writer and editor.

Staci is a multi-genre author. Her fiction is character-driven, and despite their protests, she loves to put them in all kinds of compromising or dangerous situations.

You can find out more about her on her website stacitroilo.com.

Where to Buy:

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Masterful #ShortStories by @MaeClair1

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Book Blurb:

A man keeping King Arthur’s dream of Camelot alive.
A Robin Hood battling in a drastically different Sherwood.
A young man facing eternity in the desert.
A genteel southern lady besting a powerful order of genies.
A woman meeting her father decades after his death.

These are but a few of the intriguing tales waiting to be discovered in Things Old and Forgotten. Prepare to be transported to realms of folklore and legend, where magic and wonder linger around every corner, and fantastic possibilities are limited only by imagination.

My Review:

Rating: ★★★★★

Things Old and Forgotten is a brilliantly crafted collection of some of the best short stories I’ve been fortunate enough to discover. Author Mae Clair proves she is more than a simple writer of tales. What she possesses is an impressive ability to sculpt scenes and characters that are both vivid and brimming with life.

Clair’s narrative voices reveal their stories in poetic tones. Each tale contains a balanced texture of dark and light embedded within. What you think might happen, often doesn’t. And that’s the genius of so many of these short works.

Remembering Sadie is perhaps my favorite of the collection. This piece tells the story of a man left behind to grieve the loss of a loved one. The twist at the end is a wonderful reminder that love comes from the heart—regardless of the recipient.

Another standout is the dark tone of Desert White. A man attempts to take his own life in the desert, only to be met by a stranger. But is this stranger man or angel? Redemption versus forgiveness in the underlying theme here.

Kin-Slayer runs a close second as my favorite. This one is a bit dark with fantasy, folklore, and dystopian elements. There’s only one way to appease the beastly Leviathan, and that is with three of the choicest First Daughters in a quaint fishing village. But not all is as it seems—especially where Leviathan is concerned.

No matter the genre, Mae Clair excels as a master artist of short fiction. Each story remains with the reader—even after you’ve moved on to the next one. If you’re a fan of fully formed short fiction, Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair is a collection that belongs on your Kindle.    

About the Author: 

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A member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers, Mae Clair is also a founding member and contributor to the award-winning writing blog, Story Empire. She has achieved bestseller status on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, with several of her novels chosen as book club selections.

Mae writes primarily in the mystery/suspense genre, flavoring her plots with elements of urban legend and folklore. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail, and cats.

Discover more about Mae on her website and blog at MaeClair.com

Where to Buy:

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Staci Troilo’s No Such Luck! A #NewRelease

I am excited to host the talented Staci Troilo on The Indie Spot today! She has a new release available! Take it away, Staci . . .

Thanks for having me here today, Beem. Hi, everyone. I am grateful that you’re giving me a few minutes so I can tell you about my new release, No Such Luck. It’s a short and sweet romance just in time for Christmas.

Piper Seidel has run home to her father with her tail between her legs. She’s lost her job, and she feels lost. Compounding her humiliation, she constantly embarrasses herself in front of her high school crush—a man she’d love a second chance to make a first impression on. This excerpt shows Piper’s moment of clarity, when things start going her way and she has the epiphany that will (hopefully) make all the difference.

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She leaned over to hug him. “Good night, Tom.”

“Night.”

After she climbed out of his cab, he sat in the driveway, truck idling. Finally, he rolled down the window. “What are you doing?”

“I was going to watch you drive away.”

“I’m waiting for you to go in the house. It’s the considerate thing to do.”

She chuckled. Touché. “You’re right. Good night.” And with a final wave, she ran to the mudroom door.

But she didn’t go inside. After Tommy left, she headed for her car.

It was time she took her own advice.

Life wasn’t about being cool. It was about being considerate.

No wonder she’d lost her last job. She’d been a raging pain in the butt.

But she could find another job. Pittsburgh had a bunch of online magazines that might need writers. And a great newspaper. If worse came to worse, the small-town local newspaper was an option. The editor tried to convince her to work for him every time he saw her during a visit.

The thing that scared her was that she almost lost the most wonderful thing in her life because she hadn’t been considerate.

Worse, she’d been blind. For years.

Piper had been living in the past for too long. She finally stepped into the present. Hopefully her epiphany wasn’t too late to change her fortune.

I hope you enjoyed that quick sneak peek. No Such Luck, the first installment of the Keystone Couples series, is available now on Amazon.

No Such Luck

Blurb:

Seeds of luck usually wither. The rare one grows and blooms.

Piper Seidel has one thing going for her—a red carnation given to her by Tommy Burnett in the tenth grade. It might have dried over the years, but it’s still her good luck charm. Losing it sets her life in a downward spiral, forcing her to return to her hometown where she comes face to face with her high school crush.

The years have been kind to Tommy, who looks better than ever. Unfortunately, Piper is at her worst, continually embarrassing herself whenever he’s around. The only plus? Her long-time friend, Jack Rhodes, still lives in town. Since she last saw him, his legs have grown longer, his biceps thicker, and his shoulders broader. He was always the brother she never had, but now she can’t help noticing him in an unsisterly way. Jack is every bit as caring as he’s ever been—until her bad luck drives him away, maybe forever.

Piper needs a new good luck charm, and fast, before she loses her final chance at happiness.

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09J31935Z?

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Author C. S. Boyack Offers Freebies!

Author C. S. Boyack will be pushing his Hat stories during the month of October. These stories have a Halloween vibe, which fits well with the month. He will be doing a volume per week, and two of them will have free days.

THE HAT

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BLURB:

Lizzie St. Laurent is dealing with many of the struggles of young life. She lost her grandmother, and her living arrangements. Her new roommate abandoned her, and she’s working multiple jobs just to keep her head above water.

She inherits an old hat from her grandmother’s estate, but it belonged to her grandfather. This is no ordinary hat, but a being from an alternate dimension. One with special powers.

Lizzie and the hat don’t exactly hit it off right away, but when her best friend’s newborn is kidnapped by a ring of baby traffickers, Lizzie turns to the hat for help. This leads her deep into her family history and a world she’s never known.

Lizzie gives up everything to rescue the babies. She loses her jobs, and may wind up in jail before it’s over. Along the way, she and the hat may have a new way of making ends meet.

Humorous and fun, The Hat is novella length. Wonderful escapism for an afternoon.

The Hat will be FREE from October 5 – 7.

THE BALLAD OF MRS. MOLONY

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BLURB:

Lizzie and the hat are back, and this time they’re chasing vampires across a subculture of America. A pair of rodeo cowboys are holding a woman captive to use like a milk cow since they joined the undead.

The person who put them onto the trail is also a vampire, but he has to be the worst vampire in history. Is he really that pitiful, or is he setting a trap for our heroes? Does the woman even exists? Can Lizzie and the hat find her before she also takes up blood sucking?

Follow Lizzie and the hat as they use their cover band to stalk vamps across the country music scene.

The Ballad of Mrs. Molony will be FREE from October 19 – 21.

The entire push will involve a Tuesday and Thursday blog tour, with a push of the free volumes by Fussy Librarian

Rave On (A Short Story)

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Ten minutes till.

The clock beside my mattress flings every spent second into my lap, nudging me so much closer to whatever is about to happen. Mom can’t be bothered with it; she’s passed out in the next room, oblivious to my escape into night. And even though I’m certain I’ll be home long before sunlight splits the dark, my body still bristles with something akin to static electricity, a tight anxiety over knowing I’ll surely be found out. And it really doesn’t matter; I’ve been caught before.

Shadows engorged with blackness lurk like thugs in the corners of our backyard; delicate dew blankets the grass like the blood of others foolish enough to go before me.

Blood.

That’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it?

Life?

My mind sports with competing scenarios of what I hope might happen and what I pray will not—Lord knows I don’t need any more lectures regarding proper behavior for a young lady.

Five minutes till.

What if they don’t show? Suppose this is all just a well-played joke, with me as its shiny white butt?

But this is Molly we’re talking about—faithful Molly.

Mom’s old sneakers swallow my feet in a comforting fit. The back door whines protest against my departure. Nobody steps forward to quash my moment. I’m all alone.

A lustful breeze plays peekaboo with my nightshirt and soothes my heat. I’m bare underneath. That’s the part that excites me most: knowing the only thing standing between me and the real world is a thin scrap of white cotton.

The street out front offers neither light nor sound, as if nothing decent dares occupy such a miserable piece of earth but Donnington Trailer Park and the white-trash misfits it spawns. That’s what kids at school call me: white trash. That, and Icky Nicky.

My given name is Nicole—Nicole Lynn Robishawl. I can’t quite peg the origins of a name like Robishawl, but I’d bet a hundred bucks its roots lie buried someplace in Europe—the far northern part. I own a headful of blond tangles and uncomplicated blue eyes to prove that theory. And there’s another of those curious little oddities assholes around here like to whisper about when they’re certain I’m not listening: Mom and Dad are both dark-haired and dark-eyed.

Two minutes till.

I reach the crumbling sidewalk and crouch low beside a naked mess of annuals meant to spruce up the front of our trailer. A word like hatred doesn’t begin to tell of my feelings for a shithole like Donnington. We aren’t even supposed to be here, Mom and me. Dad promised to take us in, giving me back my old room, if only there’d be no more drinking. But mom prefers vodka to a husband.

Lightning spatters a silvery web across the sky right above Lincoln High School, and my silent prayer for a direct hit goes unanswered. Dull rumbles chase the flashes, but even thunder can’t match the wicked growl of Tommy Mizvinski’s engine.

He’s early!

A full sixty seconds early!

My frantic dash launches me recklessly toward the corner at the end of my street. Tommy won’t wait. If I’m not there under that lonely streetlight, forget about it. No rave for me.

I’m there before he is, though, quick enough to spy that single headlight slicing open the night—our night. Sweat jogs the course of my spine. My heart swears an oath to knock a hole through my middle. I’ve waited all month to have this moment.

Tommy’s door yawns wide; his lanky body leans forward, offering me the back seat. “Get in, Sped,” he huffs. “They won’t wait around if we’re late.”

Sped. That’s short for special ed. Tommy’s the only one who calls me that—even though I’ve never ridden the short bus.

The lure of this moment sucks me in, puts me close to Molly. Our bodies bump in the darkened back seat, tossing up loose sparks of anxiety. Nervous giggles supply our greetings.

I’m the one who suggested we go to this thing. Faithful Molly, she even tried to talk me out of it. And truth be told, I’d have laid odds on her just staying home. But here she sits, dressed like me—only her nightshirt is pink. I hate pink.

Dale Harvitz rides shotgun. That lazy eye of his gets all hung up on me the entire trip—as if I’d even consider the likes of him. Dale is the true sped in this car, not me. But he’s also Tommy’s best friend, which makes him more welcome on this ride than me, so I won’t call him a sped to his zit-covered face.

Still, I’m the one who set this up. “Where are your pajamas?” I ask.

Jeans and T-shirts, that’s what both boys are sporting.

Dale’s the defensive one. “Fuck that noise,” he spits. “I’m not wearing pajamas to a rave.”

I produce the flier, wave it in his pizza face. “That’s the theme. It says so right here.”

“They won’t turn us away, Nicole,” Dale argues. “They hold raves to make money. I’ve got my twenty bucks.”

Tommy has his say, lays down his own law. It’s me and Molly that has him spooked—our ages, that is. “Just don’t go acting like a pair of babies,” he tells us, “and they’ll probably let you two inside.”

Dale lights a Marlboro and eyes Moll and me like he’s starving and we’re medium-rare fresh-off-the-grill. You can just tell his mind is stuck in the muck and sinking fast. “Got twenty bucks says they’re both still bald,” he wagers.

Call it a natural reflex, that way my knees squeeze together. He’ll never know what’s what where those sorts of things are concerned.

Tommy, though—he finds me in the rearview, holds my gaze the way I wish he’d hold my hand, before returning to the road ahead. “Thing like that doesn’t concern me,” is all he says of the matter.

But then he finds me again and goes back to his law. “Either of you girls get pinched,” he orders, “don’t you dare mention my name. Cops raid these things all the time. If they snatch you, tell ’em you snuck out on your own, let ’em take you home.”

I have no intention of getting caught. I’ve waited too long for a night like this one. If we are among the chosen, well, then it’s meant to be; it’s already been tossed up to fate. That’s called providence or something. Anyway, Tommy’s been to half a dozen raves, and none of those were ever raided.

Tommy’s one-eyed Cutlass angles hard onto the shoulder, finds that service road leading away from Summitt Highway. You never drive directly to a rave; there’s a proper etiquette involved. Besides, they won’t let you in if you just show up. Not even for a hundred dollars.

The designated pickup point calls to mind a crop circle at the center of Hatcher Field. A lonely pair of white minivans promise travel to other worlds.

It’s the swirling crowd that yanks at my attention, puts me up on the little secret nobody else in the car has deciphered just yet.

“Let us out,” I demand, kicking at the back of Tommy’s seat. It’s mostly guys doing all that swirling, which means girls are the priority to board those vans. And if Tommy catches on, none of us are going.

Pizza-face Dale pops his door open.

Moll and I spill into the night like twist-cap wine from an overturned Dixie cup. We bolt toward the closest van and ignore Tommy’s orders to wait for him and Dale. But they’re not coming along with us—at least not on this trip. Any fool with eyes can read a scene like the one we’ve tumbled into. Moll and I—we’ll be welcomed on this go-round. And a ride home, well, what did that matter at this moment?

A black guy spies us, waves us over; he lures me and Moll into a void between those white minivans. I recognize him from school, though I doubt if I could come up with a name to match his face if given a dozen guesses.

Dark eyes roll over Molly first, then me. A grin parts his lips, shows off teeth like fine white porcelain. “Freshmen, huh?” he asks.

Neither Moll nor I acknowledge his question; we both offer him our twenty dollars instead.

“Awful eager, ain’t you?” he asks, drifting between us like lazy smoke. “Suppose it ain’t money gonna get you on one of them rides? How bad you wanna go?”

I hear Molly’s voice before words have a chance to form on my own tongue. “Whatever it takes,” she promises.

That’s not the Molly I know.

The Molly I know is far too shy to undress even in front of her own shadow.

That dark gaze of his attaches itself to me. “How about you, Robishawl?” he wonders. “How far are you willing to go?”

Hesitation nearly steals my words—but only for a moment. “I’m with Molly,” I inform him. Just leave it open, let him interpret the meaning.

His grin softens into a familiar thing—almost friendly. “Go on and get in line for communion,” he says.

Communion?

I’m not even Catholic.

And neither is Molly.

The black guy snatches our money, straps red bracelets around our right wrists, and warns against us taking them off for any reason at all. “That’s the only thing gonna get you inside once you get there.”

This is the part I love most about raves: all that secrecy, the feeling of being someone special, a chosen one.

Moll and I join a small congregation behind those vans, out of sight of Tommy and Dale and every other guy getting left back tonight.

“Kneel for the rites,” orders a skinny white guy sporting stringy black hair down to his shoulders.

The grass, wet with dew, is cool beneath my knees. My head tips back, my mouth falls open, awaiting the chemical sacraments about to be administered.

“Ecstasy,” says our high priest, placing a tablet on my tongue.

I swallow before I can chicken out.

Moll swallows too.

Midnight’s moon splits the clouds just for a moment; it’s large and swollen, shiny as a new dime.

Molly’s lips brush against my ear. “Are you gonna, you know . . . ?” she whispers. Bubblegum-sweetened breath warms my neck.

“I have to do it,” I assure her. “I’m gone past due.”

“We can’t have that,” she says, snatching hold on my hand, yanking me into the van.

*      *      *

The pull of freedom lures us an hour south of town, out where the old Piven Industrial Park crouches low among tangled weeds and ancient willows long past weeping, forgotten by all but a few hundred ravers.

The van door slides a wide yawn and, like an overfed bulimic, vomits us in front of the warehouse. Familiarity like a scent fills my head. I know some of them, these other girls; upper-class types, mostly; the very sort who’d normally call me Icky Nicky.

But not tonight.

Tonight, everybody’s equal.

Molly’s the eager one. Those small hands of hers clasp my shoulders from behind; she gives me a push inside the oversized building, into a swirl of underdressed boys and girls bumping and rubbing against a thumping beat intent on recalibrating my heart’s natural rhythm.

Lights of yellow and red, blue and green, flash from above like stalking nymphs bent on finding us out.

I pull Molly closer. “Find the water station,” I yell over the din. “Keep hydrated.”

That smile of hers—that’s what makes her Molly. “You picked one already?” she hollers, her small body becoming entangled with that steady beat.

A nod bobbles my head; I leave her there at the edge of a makeshift dance floor alive with hope and boys.

Molly likes boys.

A nameless guy hovers near the door, blue eyes clouded over with that familiar euphoria only a thing like Ecstasy can conjure.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” I tell him, mixing promise with potential.

His fingers find his chest, a gesture meant to convey a Who, me? tone. But words fail the boy’s lips; he’s too far along for conversation.

My hand fits snugly into his. It falls to me to find a private place for us to get through what has to be done. Fine by me; I’ve been this way before, done this sort of thing innumerable times. But there’s never much chase, not like there was when it first started. Back then, well, it was usually the older ones, the perverts, that went for the chase.

“There’s a place around back,” I tell him, pulling the guy into night.

“I wanna touch your hair,” he says, stumbling behind me like a freak on a leash.

Overhead, the spring sky opens wide, clouds flee, leaving us to our shared intimacy.

Beneath the loading docks is where I take the boy, in full view of a witches’ moon—if you’re so inclined to believe in such things.

My lips find his; a sneaky gesture meant only to settle any loose nerves.

Clammy, clumsy hands grope me beneath my nightshirt, finding my body bare and eager—maybe even hungry for such a touch. Had this one been in the car with us to take the bet, he’d have easily taken twenty bucks off Dale.

But tonight isn’t his night.

A quick nip with my incisors opens the skin just below his jaw, exposing the plump jugular. Barely a flinch, is all he offers. Ecstasy makes our moment easy; there’s no room for a fuss.

It’s instinctual, that urge pushing me to rip into that purple vein. His salty rush fills my mouth, stirs a familiar frenzy inside my soul. The boy’s struggles come cheap, a thing most fraudulent. I hold his body tight against the crumbling concrete, draw long and deep on his life until there’s nothing left to take.

They’re beautiful when they fade, so pale and blue, like a years-old rose pressed between the pages of a lost lover’s book of poems.

*      *      *

Molly is bare beneath her nightshirt. I can tell by the way the pink fabric clings to her sweat-dampened body.

That smile of hers ignites a heated rush through my blood no drug could ever challenge.

“Did you drink any water?” I holler, stepping between her and the Asian kid she’s dancing with.

That’s the thing with Ecstasy: it’ll keep a person moving for hours, without a thought toward maintaining hydration.

And Moll, she won’t stop dancing—not even for necessity. “You’ve fed already?” she yells, keeping pace with that relentless beat.

To tell the truth, I hate dancing. But it’s Molly’s urging that has me folding myself in with her and the Asian boy.

Moll’s hand finds mine, yanks me closer. “Can we take him home with us?” she asks, hopeful in this bold change of plans.

He’s not bad to look at, I suppose—if you’re into that sort of thing.

My head tips a subtle nod. “Gonna have to be quiet, though; can’t wake my mom.”

Yeah, Molly likes boys.

And so do I, I guess.

Just in a different sort of way.

© 2012 Beem Weeks

This story, along with 19 others, is available in Slivers of Life: A Collection of Short Stories. Find it at all online booksellers.

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My First (and Only) Tropical Storm

I’m a Michigander, born and raised. I’m used to cold winter months where the temperatures dip well below zero and the snow piles up by the foot. Summers in these northern climes can reach one-hundred degrees—though that’s not often. The point is, I’m used to weather extremes. But nothing the Great Lakes state has to offer could prepare me for my Florida experience.

I relocated to Ft. Myers back in June of 1988. I’d needed a change of scenery, a new beginning, whatever you want to call it. A girl broke my heart—or I broke hers—and so the long trek from mid-Michigan to south Florida seemed the best remedy to soothe lost love.Hurricane-Hermine-Anclote-River-832x400

I had family there. My father, step-mother, and younger brother had made the move a year earlier. The journey made perfect sense to my 21-year-old mind.

Finding employment came easy. My father, having retired from General Motors, held a supervisor’s position in a concrete pipe factory. Ft. Myers in the late 1980s was transitioning from cow town to booming metropolis. This expansion called for lots of concrete pipes for sewer systems and water drainage. I operated a forklift, taking pipes off the production line, loading them onto big rig trucks to be shipped to destinations all across south Florida.

Flood Damaged HomeThe differences between Florida and Michigan are stark and immediate. Where Michigan is gray, cold, and snowy at Christmas, Ft. Myers offered 75 degrees and sunshine. In Michigan, we’ll see rain a few days each month. Grass and vegetation will often die and turn a brittle brown under the dry summer heat. But Ft. Myers sees rain pretty much every day—sometimes several times a day—which keeps the scenery green and lush. There were even moments where the sun would be shining and the rain would be falling at the same time. We don’t get that too often in Michigan.

Another thing we don’t get in Michigan is the tropical storm. These massive storm systems are the precursor to hurricanes. In late 1988, I experienced my first—and only—tropical storm. Called Keith, this storm system dumped rain upon southwest Florida in amounts I’m sure Noah himself could certainly appreciate. Powerful winds whipped through the area, ripping roofs off many structures.

I remember working in the factory yard that day beneath a light but steady rain. Yellow rubber rain slicks covered me from head to toe—and still I found myself soaked to the bone. Late in the day the rain picked up strength, pelting me in the face, causing me to put on safety glasses to protect my eyes. I worked until ten o’clock that night, doing a job that normally had me clocking out around six o’clock. It would be past midnight by the time I arrived home.

Keith_1988_rainfallAll through the night the wind howled its threats against our house, promising to remove roof and siding with barely a thought. Rain spilled from thick, dark clouds that swirled across the sky like menacing gods. The power abandoned us sometime during the night, leaving us to candlelight and a battery-operated radio.

By first light the following morning the worst of the storm had passed. We were expected to report to work, just like any other day. Seems unless it’s a full-fledged hurricane, it doesn’t count for much with the boss man. But our entire neighborhood was under water. In our backyard, we had a boat canal. Across the street flowed the Caloosahatchee River. These two entities rose together, flooding the area, leaving houses—ours included—stranded like dozens of islands. And still, we were ordered to work—though the boss man had given us a few hours to make the thirty minute drive.

We survived. We even made it into work just before noon. Nobody else at the plant lived on the river, so flooding didn’t hinder their travels, which made me and my father the only ones who were late that morning.

I’ve since moved back to Michigan. I missed those familiar sights and the people with whom I grew up. But I still have a head full of memories of the nearly two years I called Ft. Myers home. I intend to one day return to south Florida—if only for a visit—just to see the changes that thirty-odd years can lay on a city and its sights. And every year, right during hurricane season, when the storms begin their march toward dry land, I break out my story of Keith and the night I survived my first—and only—tropical storm.