AW October Blog Chain: Otherworldly

This month’s prompt: Otherworldly

Ghouls, ghost and things that go bump in the night. Old Hallows Eve, Dia de los Muertos and Halloween. October is the month where the veil between our world and the Other thins. So this month is about those things beyond our world, be they scary, funny or anything in between. Write wherever the prompt inspires you, fiction or non-fiction, prose or poetry. Do try and keep things at a PG-13 level, though.  Each post should be less than 1000 words if possible. 

In honor of Halloween and to get my creative juices flowing for NaNoWritMo, which starts in a few weeks, I decided to do a flash fiction piece for the prompt.  Please keep in mind that it hasn’t be professionally edited and I apologize if there are any stupid grammatical mistakes.  

It’s dark…the way I like it.  You have been warned.


Moisture by Lizzy Lessard

A moist breath wets the heavy lids of my eyes.  The room is dark, so dark that is only when a silver gleam catches my attention that I know my eyes have opened at all.  Oblong metal with writing embossed – a dog tag.  As my eyes focus, I notice its twin brother hanging an inch beneath from another ball chain.  My fingers itch for confirmation that the sight is real and I tell them to capture the dog tags from around his neck.  But, a tight rope or cloth halts their path only inches later.  I jerk my body back and forth, suddenly aware of the binds locking my limbs in place.

I cry out – a hand rushes to my lips.

The thumb, calloused and thick, catches my the underside of my chin and digs into my throat.  His hand tastes like soil and one finger slides between my teeth.

I suppress the urge to bite, aware that at anytime his thumb might press further into my windpipe and suffocate me.  My compliance must please him, as his hand drops from my lips moments later.  The fingertips, as reluctant to depart as lovers in an airport, hover over my lips.  It tingles, stirring the wrong emotions from my body.

He is in front of me no longer; the dog tags have disappeared.  My cheeks flush with heat.  I’m relieved that he cannot see my desires through the darkness.  But neither can I see him.  I feel my eyes open and close as my lashes tickle my skin with each blink.

A pinch in my neck makes me gasp.  It’s like a hundred mosquitoes drill into my skin on a brutal quest to strike blood.  My hands twitch, eager to smack the life from the bloodsuckers.  I bend my head down to the left and smack into something hard and hairy.  I hear a groan; his head is against my neck!  The pinching stops as his head moves away.  A wetness slithers into the folds of skin around my neck and down between my breasts.  I fear that it’s perspiration, but the smell is sweeter and my skin strangely cool.

A tickle in my throat causes me to cough.   It feels like a layer of dust has settled in my windpipe and I lick my cracked lips as I imagine a clear glass of liquid washing away the debris and quenching my thirst.

“Thirsty?”

The question erupts goose-bumps on my skin from head to toe in a domino fashion.  A mind reader?  The thought disturbs me, but the only alternative is that he sees me.  I think I much rather the mind invasion than for his vision to be like an owl’s.   I haven’t felt an inch of cloth rub against my skin since waking – minus what binds my hands and feet.

A drop of liquid hits my lips and I extend my tongue.  All care vanishes while I focus on this gift.  The liquid is tangy and foreign but my body quivers in excitement like it’s Happy Hour.  I feel something slimy touch my gums and bile threatens to up heave what little my stomach contains.  I move my tongue to discover what this invader is and I strike a tooth.  It is pointed but I deduce from its normal neighbors that it certainly is a tooth.  And that slimy thick object next to it must be a tongue.

I twist away in disgust.  I spit out every drop he has planted in my mouth.  Disgust fuels my courage and a dumb question slips out my lips.  “Who are you?”  Not a ‘who’ though.  I remember the strange tooth and the stinging on my neck.  The way he slips in and out of the darkness without a sound.  “What are you?”

“Master,” answers the man…the creature.  “Call me master.”


Please check out the other blogs participating:

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Writing Tip #2: What’s for dinner?

Reading a great book is an experience to remember.

Just like enjoying a meal at a restaurant with loved ones.  The process to get customers, wow them, and keep them is the same.

Another sign on the road:

 

First impressions of a restaurant often dictate whether or not you will eat there.  A lot of it begins even before you step in the door.  First off is sales.  More people will visit a restaurant if the parking lot is full rather than empty.  Likewise, if a book is on the Bestseller list more people will check out the book.  The way to get sales is to advertise.  For authors that means to promote your book on blogs, in giveaways, and through word of mouth.  I own City of Bones by Cassandra Claire because I saw it on my friend’s coffee table.  Likewise, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi is in my Amazon cart after reading great reviews on several blogs I visit.  I can’t even remember what it is about but I’m psyched to start reading it.

Price:

 

A free book or a 99 cent book gives your readers the expectation of dining at McDonalds.  A $2.99 or $3.99 book is like a dinner buffet.  A $9.99 book is a gourmet meal.  If you can’t live up to expectations of a high-end dinner, charge less.  If you’re not charging enough, than you’re losing profits and attracting the wrong crowd.

Atmosphere:

 

Once you get customers in the door, you need to keep them.  If the place is in disrepair or dingy, then people will walk back out.  A book cover needs to look professional.  Don’t skimp.  If it looks like it came straight from MS Paint, than people will assume you spent just as much effort on the inside.  Dirt and roaches can ruin the best restaurant.  Hire an exterminator.  If a customer sees even one bug crawl across the floor, he will not return.  In books, we know roaches as ‘grammatical errors’.  Spelling mistakes, typos, and comma misuse distracts from the story and makes even a well-plotted book appear amateur.  Hire an editor or someone fluent in the rules of grammar to revise your book before publishing.

Waiter/waitress:

This is your main character.  He will guide us through the entire book keeping our drinks full and our food coming.  Your waiter has to be likeable, but not perfect.  A Mary Sue waitress is one that hovers over you and won’t give you any breathing room.  You’re (hopefully) not the only customer and they have to give you less than 100% of their attention.  Your characters, likewise, can’t be without faults.  They need to fail at some point, reminding you that your main character is just another human being.  A great waiter can overcompensate for minor problems in the restaurant.  A horrible waiter makes you nitpick every detail.  The drinks you order at dinner are the minor characters.  A one-dimensional character is like a flat soda.  The reader will be repulsed by every sip/mention of this character.  The waiter also manages pacing: order, drinks, appetizer, dinner, and desert.  Too fast pacing would be having the appetizer and dinner out at the same time or too soon after.  The guests are overwhelmed.  Too slow and the guests starve and consider going somewhere else.

Food:

The food is your plot.  The guests know what sort of food you serve (genre) and they place an order based on a one or two line description and maybe a picture.  This is your first chapter.  This is the text that appears in the Click to LOOK INSIDE on Amazon.  You need this to be so appealing that your readers are drooling to taste the rest of your book.  The appetizer is your first quarter of the book, the beginning, where things start getting hairy for your main character.  Eating the dinner is the climax, but you need to build to it.  You can’t serve it too soon after the appetizer.  You need time to let the appetizer digest and the guest has the opportunity to converse with love ones and the waiter.  To get comfortable with the world you built.  You should drop hints of what is to come.  Let the guest see the delicious plates of food served to the other tables.  Make his mouth water in anticipation.  When the dinner finally arrives, make sure it lives up to expectations.  No burnt food.  Don’t over or under season.  If a guest wanted a well-done steak, make sure it isn’t bloody.  This is genre expectations.  Horror is suppose to horrify.  Romance is suppose to romance.  And erotica is suppose to – well, let’s keep this PG.

Dessert:

 

And this is your ending.  Make sure that you tie up most of the loose ends to your plot.  If you are planning a sequel, leave enough open so that your readers can guess the basic plot of the next book.  Don’t do cliffhangers.  That’s like saying we’re out of fudge sundaes.

Writing Tip #1: This is not a proper sentence.

Exact excerpt from the Kindle short story, I WISH SHE HADN’T COME BACK by Lee Hodkinson.  Current price is FREE.

Rachael would often think ‘I just want to go upstairs and listen to some music,hmm a bit of Two door cinema club would go down well right now or even stick a half decent movie on maybe P.S I love you or a bit of fast and furious anything but this shit’ but Rachael rarely ever did she felt a pang of guilt like she was abandoning her mother in this hour of need watching ‘shit’ she didn’t want to leave her mother on her own and she would eventually find herself commenting with her mother on the ‘crazy’ shit the Z-list celeb was about to partake in.

This is a perfect example of why self-published authors have a bad reputation.  A simple edit would have dramatically improved this story.

My edit (using context from surrounding sentences):

Rachael thought that she should go upstairs and listen to some music, perhaps a bit of Two Door Cinema Club.  No, she was more in the mood for a movie like P.S. I love you or Fast and the Furious.  Anything but this shit she watched now.  Yet the guilt of abandoning her mother caused her to stay on the couch with her mother night after night.  She found herself  commenting to her mother about the crazy shit the Z-list celebrities did on the show.

Be kind to your readers and respect your fellow authors.  Don’t self-publish without revising.  Don’t self-publish without having someone else revise.  Find both beta-readers and editors.  Repeat as many times as it takes to make YOUR book look as polished as one found on any library bookshelf.  If this is your first novel, readers will NOT consider your second.  Neither with publishers or anyone but your mother.

Book Review – The City of Lost Secrets by Katie McVay

The City of Lost Secrets by Katie McVay

Publisher: Self-published

Available in ebook or paperback.

I can’t expressed how pysched I was to receive this Goodreads giveaway in the mail.  The author was kind enough to include a handwritten note asking for a review about her debut book.  Just for that, I put aside all other books to devour into this thriller.  I wish I could say that I loved this book.  I tried to.  It’s not remotely as mysterious or thrilling as Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.  The author did herself a disfavor by comparing the two in the Amazon blurb.  If you are looking for a female version of Da Vinci Code, you will be dissapointed.

That said, this was not a failure of a book.  The protagonist, Mara Beltane is lovable and believable.  Mara recently divorced, because she’d rather focus on her writing career have the children her husband desires.  After writing five successful books, she begins to desire more.  Hence why she travels to Jerusalem to investigate the ossuary rumored to be Jesus’s.  Props to the author for embarking a non-religious character on a religious crusade.  Mara is able to retain her objectivity throughout the entire novel.

Once she arrives in Jerusalem, this is where a thriller novel would take the reader on a non-stop breath-taking escapade.  The City of Lost Secrets is not a thriller in this regard.

It’s about as fast paced as the movie Eat, Pray, Love (which I couldn’t finish).  This novel reads like a documentary off of the Travel Channel or National Geographic Channel.  Seriously.  Pretend that Mara has the British accent and you feel like she is your tour guide off one of those episodes.  I can tell that the author is very familiar with the subject matter and since I adore those documentaries, that part of the novel was interesting.

Of course, there ends up being a romance and I wish it was introduced gradually, rather than as an afterthought.  I didn’t know about this love interest until page 120, halfway through the novel, when Mara’s friend emailed her. Really?  That’s how the reader finds out?

As a thriller, I would have to rate this book very low.  As a chick lit, I would rate it much higher.  Depending on your taste in genre, you may or may not like this book.  Personally, I’m not a fan of chick lit.

Summary:

Scholars have written off the Talpiot tomb as an ancient Jewish burial cave, not the rumored lost tomb of Jesus. But even today, thirty years after its discovery in Jerusalem, the mystery remains unsolved. Now novelist Mara Beltane, desperate to reinvent her career and escape memories of a failed marriage, hopes to prove the rumor is true and turn it into a best-selling thriller.

While in Jerusalem, Mara’s research is thwarted by Israeli archeologists intent on protecting the tomb—and complicated by her feelings for Dr. Uri Nevon, a handsome professor and biblical scholar with a hidden past who aids her research. But Mara keeps digging, and soon enough—with Uri at her side—she finds evidence that could prove the tomb is indeed the final resting place of Jesus, a revelation that would rock Christianity to its core. As the stakes grow higher, and with authorities closing in on them, Mara must face the question that brought her to Jerusalem in the first place: Are the rewards of writing a best-seller worth the risks of revealing long-buried secrets—secrets that will jeopardize her career…and her life?

Characters 4/5

Concept 2/5

Pacing 3/5

Grammar 5/5

Ending 4/5

Grade: C

This book appeals to fans of Chick Literature.

If you’re interested in buying this book, check it out at AmazonBarnes & Noble, or Goodreads.

Book Review – The Man in the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal

The Man in the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal

Publisher: Plume

Available in ebook, paperback or hardcover.

Who is the Man in the Rockefeller Suit?

Although I do not read many non-fiction books, the blurb grabbed my attention.  I did not catch the news scandal in 2008 about the man who posed as Clark Rockefeller, but was actually a German immigrant named Christopher Gerhartsreiter, so this story was completely new to me.   The author, Mark Seal, unravels the mystery of  Christopher Gerhartsreiter’s journey from nothing to living a life of luxury, yet it is not a linear path.  The more the author reveals about this man, the more questions arise.

How does a man manage to become a prominent member of a community, convince people of lies after lies, and the people are not even able to clearly answer where Christopher Gerhartsreiter actually lived and worked?  He convinces employers to hire him without checking credentials.   Every person he befriends serves a purpose, whether for marriage, money, or to climb the social ladder.  He is the ultimate name dropper.

Christopher Gerhartsreiter sheds his identity multiple times, each time his story becomes more extravagant, until he eventually becomes Clark Rockefeller.

This story is accurately described as stranger than fiction.  The Man in the Rockefeller Suit portrays a man who broke all boundaries of class and wealth to reach the equivalent of royalty in America, only to have the truth catch him in the end.  I strongly recommend this story if you are a fan of this genre.  It is one of the most entertaining and original books I’ve read this year, and not surprisingly, it is on the New York Times Bestseller List.  However, this is not a book I would re-read.

As far as the writing, it is straight forward and I appreciate that the author weaves the story in ways that could imply certain characteristics and conclusions about Christopher Gerhartsreiter without force-feeding.  My only complaint is that this was not written by the man himself, and therefore, is still quite a bit of his life that is unknown.

Despite receiving this book as a giveaway, I was too eager to tell my mother about this book, and now she expects me to ship her my copy…so in the long run it did cost a little something.  Not that I mind the out of pocket expense for this gem.  Now, I must ship this book to my mother.

Summary:

The story of Clark Rockefeller is a stranger-than-fiction twist on the classic American success story. “The Man in the Rockefeller Suit” is a probing and cinematic exploration of an audacious imposter–and a man determined to live the American dream by any means necessary.

Characters 4/5

Concept 5/5

Pacing 2/5

Grammar 5/5

Ending 4/5

Grade:  B+

This book appeals to lovers of True Crime.

If you’re interested in buying this book, check it out at AmazonBarnes & Noble, or Goodreads.