Tag Archives: YA

Toxic Ash #teasertuesday

 

 Toxic Ash

(book 2 of the Eldritch Elysium series)

 

Genre: Paranormal fantasy

“”I need to make things right with The Company. I need to know that I’m not in danger of having my services terminated.”

“Rin…”

“I know,” Ash sighed and put a hand to the bridge of her nose, feeling the seeds of a headache taking root behind her eyes.

“Do you really?” Buddy’s gaze gained an added pressure, a weight that she’d never felt before and drew the flutter of fear from deep within her gut. “You know that Jeb was from The Corporation? You know that because of this, relations between them and The Company have soured to the brink of all-out war? Do you know that you’ve been put on review?” The word “review” was like being slapped in the face with an iron gauntlet, Ash felt her legs turn to unexpected noodles and her bladder somehow grow full in an instant. “Now you want to talk to me about making things right? And exactly how does the soldier who fired the first shot put the bullet back in their gun?”

Jenkins was angry, a very rare sight indeed, even so he was forever conscious of the steady stream of passing tourists and his voice never rose to a shout. Instead it grew more and more quite, finally escaping his lips in a venomous hiss that made Ash wish she was facing a cobra instead of her former teacher. Being up for review meant the very real possibility that her worst fears were being realized already.

If the Company decided to terminate her contract—well, from the very beginning, Ash had always known that a contract with The Company could only be ended the same day as her life. Suddenly the organization that had nurtured, embraced and sheltered her was turning its decidedly wicked claws in her direction and she didn’t like it one bit—but, “I didn’t call you lightly Buddy, there’s no one else. Can you—will you—help me?”

 

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The Weird Part

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I am an introvert, through and through. I think that’s one reason I’m a writer. I’d rather communicate via email, letter, poem, story, or novel over actual personal interaction about 99% of the time. Because, well, PEOPLE. People wear me out. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a shy bone in my body. I am, however, very, very introverted.

What I’m noticing is that I’ve now reached the part of publishing a book where I have to go out and greet people. And talk about the book. And smile. And, oh lordy, these sillies want me to SIGN MY BOOK!. Me! That’s practically an autograph! It’s too much attention. I very much dislike being the center of attention, and it’s uncomfortable for me. I’d as soon the earth open up and just swallow me whole.

I had a lovely little author event last evening at my own personal public library, the West Wyandotte branch of the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library. I did some of the writing and researching for the book in that library, so when I thought about an author event, that’s where I wanted to go first. They loved the idea, and the YA librarians went out of their way to make it a good event. I had anticipated a schedule that involved a little talk on my part, a reading, and some Q&A, but folks seemed to be trickling in whenever they could make it, rather than showing up right at the start time.

I was okay with this because it meant I could be more the host of an open house event, and it would be more informal. I could spend more face-to-face time with those who had showed up. It was going great with the old friends who had dropped by. We were chatting, about life, about the book, about lots of things. And then it happened. Someone suggested that I do a read-aloud from the book. Even though I had initially been prepped mentally for it, I had already let it go and decided it was all going a different direction. I have no doubt that I had my best deer-in-the-headlights look on for a while. Then I sat down and read a bit.

It was fine, of course, but there was still that part of me that wanted to turn the spotlight OFF. How about I sit in an another room and read into a microphone? Or maybe phone it in? Anything just to get you to STOP LOOKING AT ME. And these were my friends there!

The thing is, a big part of indie and self-publishing is the promotion. Authors have to get out there and publicize themselves because there isn’t a high-powered, well-financed PR department doing it for them. I can get all that without relishing it particularly. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to do it without being embarrassed, though.

All in all, I’d just as soon be writing.

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Let the Orphan Lead

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Stacey speaks about the realities in her childhood:
After hearing about the Texas factory tragedy, I revamped a portion from my book donating it to a charitable book; I hope my excerpt in April Rains anthology helps people find the silver lining of hope. My goal is to show people the light at the end of their dark tunnel of suffering and losses. I hope my tale is a highlight during their cloudy mourning.

I lost two sets of parents before age 10 and went to live with my aunt. She inherited me and all my anger. Thank GOD that He sent her help including through a few rose petals. When a groundskeeper at a resort delivered those flowers, my aunt had a revelation of hope to share. In the April Rains anthology, when you read my anecdote from my childhood, you’ll understand the significance those flowers held; they helped me cope with my new life and family. I took that special delivery of roses as a sign from my deceased mother that life was still worth living.

Excerpt from Stacey’s Song & the S.H.E. Anthology
By: Stacey Meyers

Flower Child

Many people came to my rescue taking me on trips to the Bahamas, Minnesota, and other ports of call. However, joy eluded me. Grief caused enormous stress on my weary soul making me incapable of enjoying life. A rest at a tropical island paradise was my aunt’s solution to our anxiety. Even though I didn’t realize it, she really needed to escape to fantasy land. Thus, her husband, my Uncle Mike, booked my new family a room at South Seas Plantation on the west coast of Florida. Actually, this was our second beach vacation since I arrived because we visited Key West during our spring break about a year before.

We left for this trip in the middle of July while the usual rain clouds blanketed the eastern and the western sky. They collided borrowing their water from every ocean, sea, and lake in the vicinity. As the day wore on, the clouds sank so heavy with vapor that precipitation occurred. In Florida, the one thing you can count on is the afternoon showers. The rain comes at you from seemingly all sides so thickly that you can’t see past your extended hand. As we drove through this storm towards our vacation destination, it raged no more than an hour. That’s another fact about torrential rain.

As lightning surrounded us and electricity filled the air, my peers worried about the thunder that roared with the fury of all ages. Thunder always followed the bolts of light. Counting from the time we viewed each flash to the time the thunder sounded, we knew about how many miles away the worst of the storm prevailed. Each count equaled about a mile.

“One, two,” Julie whispered. “It’s getting closer,” She giggled out of fright.

“Will the lightning hurt us, mommy?” Jenny questioned.

“Only if it hits the ground,” I guaranteed her.

“Actually, the rubber in the tires won’t conduct the electricity so we are safer in the car,” Daddy explained as he pulled under a bridge for more protection.

“Lightning is the angels getting strikes at their bowling alleys. They flash the lights in celebration. The thunder is the sound of the ball knocking over the pins and the pins crashing to the floor,” Our mother spoke up to calm fears.

“Why do they only bowl when it rains?” Jenny inquired.

“Someone said that it rains because the angels left the water running in their showers, and it is overflowing to Earth,” Julie continued the conversation.

“Maybe, they were so excited about bowling that they just forgot the water was running,” I added.

“Does anyone ever see their guardian angel?” Jenny was inquisitive while her mom was probably glad that her mind was on Heavenly creatures instead of the real danger.

“I suppose they do,” She responded.

“Mom, you saw Jesus when Grandma died right?” Julie reminded us of that tale.

“Well, I didn’t see Him with my eyes but I felt Him in my heart,” She reminisced. “I knew in my mind’s eye that He was present.”

“But, you told me He was all light and shinny!” Julie argued.

“Actually, there was an extremely beautiful ray of light coming off the baby-blue sky at the moment that my mother left this world to her coma. It shimmered through the open draped window. I believe the Lord arrived on that elevator of light.” My aunt’s explanation continued.

Not amused and weary of the discussion, our dad continued the car trip as though the torrential downpour ended. He figured that the worst of it was over, and he acted eager to reach the west coast of Florida for his relaxation and vacation. Eventually, we out ran the showers but the talk of Heaven did not end as quickly as the rain did.

Our journey continued as my role as the lost sheep brought anger to my soul, again. It arrived as fresh as day one. I was still too young to understand why my parent’s died before I graduated high school. They wouldn’t be there when I married. All this talk of angels caused an abyss of silence between the rest of my family and me. My soul reluctantly fled to internal conversations.

Later, as we checked in to our resort and unpacked the car, I moped around instead of being helpful. Once in our room, I marched over to the couch, clicked on the television, and planted my feet on the coffee table. Meanwhile, my two cousins, Julie and Jenny, raced to pick out beds and changed into their bathing suits. One other fact about Florida summers is that after the rainbow you always get an almost cloud free sunset. They headed out to splash in the Gulf of Mexico before the night invaded this first day of our vacation.

“Don’t you want to swim, too?” Aunt Cindy prodded me.

“Nope!”

“Want to go look around?” Cindy held out the olive branch because she really needed me to join instead of disrupting her family. However, I enjoyed intimidating my peers. In these crowded quarters, my current behavior helped my aunt envision the worst.

“Nope!”

“What do you want to do?” She continued.

“Leave this place and go home!” My voice bellowed belligerently. “Why did you bring me on YOUR family vacation, anyway?”

My role in this family was that of the grouch. So, Cindy simply set about unpacking food into the refrigerator then exited to the balcony. Arriving just in time, she viewed three frolicking dolphins near the water’s edge. Then, my aunt spotted her two fish dancing on the beach. Their daddy snorkeled barely aware of the dolphins or his daughters. Eventually, he returned to shore with a handful of sand dollars and a big smile. His girls gathered around. Then, Julie pointed at the gulf in the direction the dolphins vanished. With excitement, Julie gets very busy behavior. My aunt knew from a distance that this environment enchanted her daughter because Julie pranced with the wind. Meanwhile, Jenny and her daddy sat on a towel counting the minutes to sundown. As for me, I remained well rooted in self pity complaining about the lack of cable in this expensive room.

The next day, Uncle Mike and I rode a jet ski in the Gulf of Mexico. Somehow, he and I interacted well while all his wife did with me was fight. Was she really the big bad step-mother? Or, was something else going on between us? The grief counselor she forced me to see told her that I probably resented our mother’s death refusing to buy into another mother figure. Meanwhile, my dad had been mentally ill and very cruel. Thus, I was most likely glad to finally find a father figure. Who cares why I went jet skiing willingly; I tagged along enjoying a great ride.

While we were off on our adventure, the girls and Cindy journeyed to the community pool. My new family spent time here before this summer. They always enjoyed Captiva Island and its sea. Today, the only thing enjoyable centered on breaking the calm Gulf of Mexico on a wave runner built for two.

At lunch time, my family visited a restaurant where casual clothes were required and frowns were not allowed. Fans cooled the atmosphere pushing the tropical ocean breezes among us. Although the sun sweltered, this shaded eatery remained balmy. However, shaded feelings and gloom still haunted my soul. One of the waiters attempted comedy. Even I smiled when he pretended to fall and shoot fake mustard at Uncle Mike. He entertained us. However, my mirth was short lived.

Walking back to our condominium, we decided to explore some resort shops. Julie pulled out a shirt with a boat full of manatees crashing into some helpless people. Checking the price, her mom offered to purchase it because my cousin’s environmental passion included saving that species. Jenny found a cute pair of sunglasses and matching hat, which fit Cindy’s pocket book as well. Looking for a den piece, my uncle found a turtle nesting sculpture. Meanwhile, a shopping spree enticed my interest. When I arrived to the cash register laden with a volume of self indulgences, the mean step-mother made me take back everything except a T-shirt. Turning abruptly, I stomped away taking forever to return to the front of the small quaint gift store.

“It must be hard to go from a situation where grandma and grandpa over compensated her with unbridled shopping sprees to living in our family that economizes,” Cindy tried to explain my attitude to her natural children. They witnessed my almost daily outbursts. “Stacey isn’t used to sharing with two other children. She doesn’t realize if she weren’t here you might have gotten more, too. All she sees is what she didn’t get to purchase. It’s the same sixty dollars but instead of getting thirty each you all get twenty. You’ve sacrificed too because your grandparents died but she is too young to understand anyone else’s suffering.” If I waited with them in line perhaps I might have seen the incredible suffering my aunt hid. She, too, lost her parents and tried to make me a part of her family. However, I made her job close to unbearable.

My uncle became tired of my temper tantrum. “It’s my siesta time!” He proudly announced. On vacations, nap time was a necessary activity; jet skiing competed for his most favorite part of the ocean resort. His morning full of wave riding, lunch, and shopping prompted his rhetorical question, “Can you tend to the children alone? I want to catch the trolley to our room and get some Zs.”

Nodding in the affirmative, my aunt finished browsing with us. I spent the rest of this time avoiding her while we explored the town’s fare. Eventually, we ended our walking tour and caught the next trolley. As we sat on a bench at the entrance to our resort, a gardener from the complex arrived in our midst. You could hear his lawn mower over the sounds of birds singing and children’s pleasure on the nearby beach. Then, his engine halted as he lunged in our direction. In his grasp were four roses that he handed to the girls, their mom, and me.

“Thank-you,” The three of them gestured and spoke simultaneously as my nose sniffed at the rose in my hand. He rode off too quickly to hear our murmuring.

“Look! We all got different colors,” Jenny pointed out.

“Wonder how that guy knew to bring exactly four roses?” Julie wondered aloud.

“Yeah, and they are all different colors!” Aunt Cindy added.

“Where are the four rose bushes where he picked these?” Julie questioned in amazement.

We looked everywhere but could find no bushes to match our flowers. Next, Cindy took charge of the explanation, “That man must have been sent by Heaven. Only God would know to tell him to pick exactly four flowers. He would guide the gardener to us. Then, He would control just who got each color.”

Julie began her excitement prance. Jenny’s eyes widened. My eyes made contact with my aunt from behind the rose still perched at my nose. Her explanation affected all of us. Suddenly, my soul was connecting with hers. I could feel her grief and her joy combined as it surrounded me.

“Look, Stacey got the yellow rose that signifies sunshine. Surely, the message is for her to leave her gloom behind and enjoy her new family as well as this vacation. She has the right to be sunny and warm. God is telling her to be happy and enjoy her new life. It’s time to live again, Stacey. Come out of your gloom of despair!” My aunt’s voice swelled like a wave on the shore.

Why is mine pink?” Jenny inquired.

You are girly, and pink equals that!”

Why is mine red?” Julie wondered.

“It is a strong color, and you are athletic,” He mom thought aloud.

She rambled more but her speech was interrupted by the trolley bell beckoning us to board.

When we looked back from the trolley car, the lawns were mowed, the gardening staff retreated, and the rose bushes evaded our view.

“That’s it!” As if a sudden revelation hit my soul, I interrupted the trolley’s bell. “This rose was sent by God and my mother. They want me to be happy.”

Meanwhile, my aunt’s three colored rose carried the message that we could merge into one beautiful whole. She anticipated the possibility of becoming one lovely flowering rose as a real family.

Later, on that very same vacation, all the girls in our family rode tandem bikes around the island. At first, I attempted to ride with the youngest, Jenny. However, that spelled disaster, so I partnered with Julie. As we rode ahead of Jenny and my new mom, our pace glided steadier and smoother until we blended into one unit. On this vacation, I learned cooperation and sharing as I adjusted to my new family situation.

When the bereavement counselor told my Aunt Cindy that it could take three to five years for me to work through my anger and finish my mourning, she bellowed, “Good grief, that’s forever!” On this vacation, I managed one step towards recovery, and a small flower inspired me to shift from solitude to community.

The END?

My story is twenty years in the making. Today, I’m a young woman with a husband and 2 children. Until age 10, I was raised by my maternal grandparents; they literally adopted me. My aunt, Cindy, inherited me after our mom died of breast cancer; and our dad committed suicide. My struggle to readjust to life is in my book Stacey’s Song. After the Sandy Hook Massacre, my full story or book was donated to the S.H.E Anthology to help mental health agencies specializing in children’s issues like I encountered due to my PTSD. Now, I’m sharing a part of that tale with you through this new anthology.
My author link is at http://mchanson714.weebly.com/the-girls.html

The blogger’s main author page is @ WEEBLY, you can find many nonfiction uplifting books there.
http://mchanson714.weebly.com/

AMAZON author site http://www.amazon.com/Mrs.-Cynthia-Meyers-Hanson/e/B00B28J7L2

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Let the Girls Lead

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In their book(s) ‘the S.H.E Anthology, ‘The Evans Terrace Girls’ give their account of what happened when 7 or more parents died within a year or 2 of each other in a small subdivision of about 110 homes. People started saying their land was CURSED. The children heard those rumors about their subdivision and were scared to death. Then, when a neighbor lost her dad to a blood clot after surgery, the kids felt the need to help. When one of the girls heard the rumor that the mourning family ran out of milk, she setup a traditional solution or proverbial lemonade stand. That day, other angels or young children arrived; many of those neighbor kids ran door to door selling half glasses of hot lemonade. They raised enough quarters to buy milk and other perishables. More importantly, they formed a group that became a club and led their neighborhood out of grief. A CHAPTER excerpt from their story follows.

Excerpt: ‘Tis The Season

The holidays seem to make shopping imperative. Being girls, we enjoyed that event just as much as the nursing home women did. However, sometimes, our allowances were needed for more important things than just a new outfit to add to the other twenty- five in our closets. Our club was about to happen on one of those causes.

Right before the holidays a year earlier, Joy found out that one of her friends had inherited two cousins. One of the boys was just two weeks old and the other was eighteen-month-old when their single mother died in her apartment of an epileptic seizure. These two miracles survived two days with their deceased mother before authorities found them. Their aunt’s family was not well to do but had inherited two cribs for the boys. However, just near Christmas, they needed real beds for these toddlers.

Our neighborhood parents have a cookie swaps once a year during the holidays. The mothers go and exchange sweets while discussing us. We always wanted to be able to attend. This year the club came up with a reason to be invited to this party. We wanted to raffle items using the proceeds to buy at least one bed for these two boys.

Nicole’s mother hosted and let us set up a table to sell tickets. There were donations of new jewelry and Christmas items to raffle. We charged a dollar a ticket. On our little table sat our flyer of community services completed and goals to finish this year.

As one guest read the document, she handed us a five-dollar bill whispering to my mother, “What is their goal?”

“At least one bed,” She responded.

“Well, good luck. They probably won’t even raise enough for a mattress,” this woman added.

“I’ve seen them sell one hundred and seventy one dollars’ worth of lemonade and still have over half the original gallon. I bet they can get this bed,” My mother defended.

“Good luck,” The guest reiterated.

“I believe in miracles,” Mom observed smugly. “ ‘Tis the season!”

The next morning as we recounted the cash, it was our turn to gloat. We had raised one hundred-forty dollars for our orphans. Nicole and I had come up with the raffle idea and our pride filled us with joy.

The telephone rang early; it was Laura, Nicole’s mother. “Hey, why don’t we go to estate sales, today? We could try to find a nice used bed for the girls to give this orphan,” She suggested to our only adult, permanent member to this club. Along with exhausting and futile searches, they checked the local paper. In the paper, there was an ad for twin beds. Laura made a call to the woman with this item. After hearing the story, the lady agreed to meet us and possibly sell us the bed for a bit less than the asking price of four hundred dollars.

Laura made to appointment and took the directions to the self-storage facility. Unfortunately, Nicole’s mother was new to the area and from Brazil originally. Sometimes, these facts lead to communication difficulties. Unaware that we didn’t really know where this storage facility was located, the club members entered Nicole’s and my mother’s van.

“Okay, I’ll follow you,” My mother yelled across to the other driver.

After a few turns and some meandering, my mother became anxious. We were headed towards the migrant farmer area of town and away from storage facilities. A few more blocks and we’d be past the agricultural area landing in the middle of alligator pods and wilderness. Realizing there was a problem, my mother began signaling with her lights for Laura to stop. The others in that van must have realized we were lost because it didn’t take long for both vehicles to pull off the road to discuss the situation.

“I don’t know. This facility should have been sooner,” Laura spoke in her heavy Brazilian accent.

“I think we got a turn or two the wrong direction,” My mother agreed.

“Well, she says turn right on Airport Road,” Laura read her scratch sheet of paper.

“What is the name of the storage place?”

“U-Store, I think.”

“Hmm, I think I know where we wanted to be. Follow me!”

Then without a clue to whether she was heading for the correct facility because this area was big enough for several storage places. Our main chaperone led on a wing and a prayer. She pulled our car into the location that seemed correct but it had the wrong name.

As Laura pulled into a parking slot nearby, our fearless leader jumped out of the car and ran over to her window, “This place has the wrong name but is the only one on this road. Are you sure you have the street name correct?”

“Here, I have a telephone number. Maybe, we can call the owner,” Laura offered just as confused.

My mom grabbed her cell phone from our car and dialed rapidly muttering, “She’s probably at the storage place and won’t even answer this call.” Then, someone answered and a conversation occurred, “I am at public storage facility on Airport Boulevard, am I at the right location?” After a few nods and frowns, our leader spoke aloud to us. “I think we are lost. The woman on the telephone was the mother of the seller. We’ll wait ten minutes before we give up. The lady says we are at the right spot, maybe.”

It seemed like an eternity, “Let’s go. This lady isn’t late! We are at the wrong place!” Joy’s impatience revealed itself, again.

Just as we all gave up hope, in came a car with a “Jesus is the magic” sticker. It was truly a miracle that we found one another because we arrived by reversing the scribbled directions, and she was held up in traffic. When she called home her mother told her we were at the wrong location. So, this Christian almost drove home but figured she’d drive by just in case her mother was incorrect.

After a good chuckle, we started to bid on the twin beds. They were gorgeous oak and in fine shape. However, we only had one hundred-forty dollars, and it was weeks until Christmas. Thus, our allowances were all assigned to various gifts for our family.

“I am sorry! I want to help your cause but these two beds that can be arranged as bunks are less than a year old. I paid a thousand dollars for them before I lost my job. The price of four hundred is already a sacrifice.”

“Couldn’t you sacrifice a bit more?” Laura’s mom commanded instead of questioning. “These beds are for some orphans not for some rich family.”

“They lost their mom to epilepsy and went to stay with their aunt who already had children to raise. She lost her job to care for her nephews,” Mom tugged on her heart.

“Excuse us,” Laura pulled my mother aside. “These beds are too nice, and she has her own sad story. I don’t think she’ll give them to us for less. What should we do keep looking?”

“Yes!” Then our leader noted, “The girls only have one hundred-forty. We can’t even meet her in the middle with a bid.”

Wandering back over, my mother explained it to us all. At that, the stranger stopped our movement back to our vehicles, “I’ll let you have both beds for two hundred dollars but only if you can pick them up by tomorrow.”

“Sold!” We all screamed as Laura and Mom flinched. The club was sixty dollars from reality. However, our leader knew that when we had a goal we’d usually surpass it so both adults remained silent or too stunned to speak. In either case, I called an emergency meeting to find sixty dollars in less than twenty-four hours.

As we sat at our kitchen table, Stacey, my cousin and current sibling, overheard the plight of the two orphans. She was five years older than I was, so this sister usually stayed away from my activities. However, this project hit home for her. A few years before this Christmas and a short time before Jane lost her dad, Stacey buried her mother due to cancer and her dad because of suicide. After these four horrible weeks, my cousin came to our house permanently and became our older sister. Thus, she could empathize with the plight of orphans.

Wandering back in sight, Stacey tossed ten dollars on the table. “Here, I want to help with my allowance.” She vanished as quickly as the money arrived to the table.

“We can use our allowance. If we all gave ten dollars it would be more than enough,” I stated.

The next day was rainy. Our leader had arranged for my dad to drive the beds to their new home using his pickup truck. She invited the recipients to meet us at the storage facility and guide us to their home. It poured and drenched all the earth around us as we loaded up the beds and covered them with traps, plastic, and raincoats. Then, we caravanned to their new location. In spite of the rain, the orphans received their Christmas gifts early.

Our main adult sponsor has a letter from Jesus that her mother left behind on the day of her death. It talks about talking problems over with Jesus and letting him be your friend or guide. One line in the note says that He feels our emotions with us, and his tears are in the rain. Today, they are droplets of joy; I am sure.

“Praise the Lord,” the new mother of the orphans, their Aunt Nora, gasped as she hugged each member in attendance and blew kisses to the rest. Then, she made her two toddler boys smooch each girl and with a loud voice say, “Thank-you!”

Before we left, my mother bent over to say good-bye to the boys. The oldest one leaped into her arms hugging her wildly. Our mentor threw her head back laughing. Then, she talked quietly into his ear, “You are so sweet.”

At his young age, he seemed brilliant as he told her loudly, “I see the angels! Right there!”

“Where?” My mother giggled not mockingly but just because she was taken off guard.

Nora chimed in, “This one is so special!” She grabbed his arm and said, “He sees the angels that took care of his brother and him. I believe him.” She gave the child a peck on the cheek.

Then, he made his eyes stay open by using his fingers saying, “When mommy was like this,” the unspoken word was dead, “the angels told me what to do for my brother.”

“The angels were with you,” Nora sang hugging the youngest child. “They helped you find food to feed your brother and yourself.”

“Yes, I found the cereal. I couldn’t do the diaper.”

“That’s okay because your brother was clean at the hospital.”

“Yes, the angels helped him.” This youngster jumped from my mother’s arms taking his brother by the hand. They ran off to jump on his newly installed bed. We followed except for Nora and our mentor.

“It took two days for the neighbors to realize something was wrong. My sister was dead just after coming home because the baby was still strapped in his car seat. My sister must have gone for her medicine but didn’t make it. The medicine was lying next to her.”

“Wow!” My mom listened as I lurked in earshot.

“When the neighbors realized that my sister had not been seen in days and the baby was crying too much, they went to her door. It was locked but that little boy,” Nora recounted the incident while pointing towards the bunk beds, “called out, ‘My mom is sleeping too long!’ ”

“Sad!” My mom tried to imagine the scene. I did, too.

“That boy was only eighteen months old, and he was really being instructed by his angels to know what to say. They put another older child through an open window. She went into my sister’s apartment unlocking the door for the police and her parents. They found the boys. The oldest was trying to wake his mom up to talk to them.” She mimicked him poking her face to wake her up. “Like that!”

“Awe, were they okay? I mean I know the boys lived but were they okay at that point? Was the little girl that opened the door traumatized?”

“All the children saw the angels according to her mother. That kept the girl okay,” Nora told her newest children’s story. “They took these guys to the hospital and not one diaper rash out of either of them. Not one bruise or harmful mark! No sign of dehydration or malnutrition! The oldest said it was because of the angels. I believe him.”

Goose bumps took over my skin as I believed this story, too. “It makes sense. To last two days unharmed, there must have been angels with them.”

“To this day, anyone that helps these boys is blessed. You all are very blessed,” Nora added.

“Yes, we were to get these beds for you!” My mom gloated.

“No, I mean you are blessed forever by these children’s angels.”

After that, the oldest boy emerged from his bedroom and leaped back up into my mother’s arms. “Thank-you!” He hugged her. “Did you see them? The angels are here!”

My mom nodded and smiled at him.

“This one is very leery of strangers, but he loves you,” Nora explained. “It is because you are close to his angels. All of you are! God bless you!”

The little boy’s sentences were so eloquent for his age that he captured our imagination. His new mother was so sure about the angels that none of us left doubting their miracle story.

To the neighbor that played doubting Tom, my mother’s heart winked as she said, “I believe in miracles!” However, sometimes, you have to help God accomplish them instead of just praying and then waiting.

A majority of the proceeds from the S.H.E. Anthology go to agencies that deal with children with PTSD. So, come on buy to be inspired and help grieving children.
It’s a WIN-WIN.

Blogger’s main author page is @ WEEBLY, you can find many nonfiction uplifting books there. http://mchanson714.weebly.com/

AMAZON author page: http://www.amazon.com/Mrs.-Cynthia-Meyers-Hanson/e/B00B28J7L2

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Let the Children Lead

the_S.H.E._Anthology_Cover_for_Kindle (495x640)

Many of my short stories are nonfiction and inspirational tales.  Therefore, I rarely submit pieces for anthologies announced online or through writer’s societies because their editors are usually looking for fictional short stories or poetry.  Recently, a random invite happened; someone offered to add one of my stories or essays to their anthology helping Newton, Connecticut.  I heard about the massacre in their elementary school and submitted a story that I coauthored.  However, the editors rejected my entry because they were compiling adult reading level stories about how it might feel to be a Newton resident.

I appreciated the editors’ candor.  However, I was amazed the compilers of that anthology didn’t realize what the children (and adults) of Sandy Hook Elementary might really need to go forward.  I thought that town might enjoy rhetoric from kindred spirits.  Due to fears and anxieties, I felt that those kids and folks might feel less alienated and alone if they were shown the light at the end of their tunnels.  I wanted to find a way to be empower those children while revealing to them a HOPE that things can and do get better. I felt bystanders including health care professionals might enjoy those types of stories, too. After pondering the anthology rejection, I woke up one day as God illuminated my next step.  Thinking of three books that I had partial copyrights to, I immediately had the title of an anthology in my mind.  I began compiling that book.

By the way, the S.H.E. Anthology is NOT a romance anthology but it was written by all females.  In this book, most of the girls recollect traumas, mostly related to death, that they faced while in elementary school.  Their stories reveal their path out of mourning along with many minor miracles that they encountered.  Their tales of hope and inspiration are true accounts from those children turned authors.

The abbreviation ‘S.H.E’ also refers to Sandy Hook Elementary.  Isn’t God the best at setting up coincidences?  This book is meant to empower Newton as well as others that read it.  Its writers hope that the anthology, also, sheds some new light on grief recovery in the minds of teachers, mental health professionals, and adults handling major life changes.

Speaking of a child in mourning, there’s great insight into being the victim of death and childhood loss.  In fact, Stacey’s saga is an intimate look at a ten year old girl’s personal story about the results of her mother’s cancer death.  She, also, deals with the aftermath that includes her dad going crazy and committing suicide.  Obviously, tragedies, such as the Sandy Hook Massacre, touch home with her.  In her book contained in the anthology, the young girl talks candidly and inspirationally about surmounting her PTSD.  Her honesty through writing is only surpassed by the miracles and guidance from those around her including God.  The book excerpt that follows reveals how God taps into this young girl’s anger and grief to show her hope and HIS love as HE answers her naïve, childhood prayer.

Hail, What’s Next?

Later in another conversation, Cindy told me, “There are a ton of reasons why you need to live.  First, you haven’t even seen all the world has to share with you.  There are some really beautiful places left to visit.”

“I get two weeks’ vacation in December.  We can drive into the mountains and find snow for the holidays.”

…                       

Jenny (Cindy’s child) was hospitalized after repeated infections.  Her tonsils needed to be removed, and the promised trip was postponed. 

“I wish it would snow here!” My response arrived.

 

“Get real!  It rarely snows in Central Florida.  If it does, it falls in January and never hits the ground.  It melts on the way.  It sometimes falls just north of us and stays a few hours but nothing close to snowman weather.  We can drive to see snow next winter, but we are not flying anywhere this vacation.”

 

“I’m going to pray for snow within driving distance of our house.  I am going to ask for it now,” My style less angry these days converted to belligerent.

 

“Pray away!  But, it isn’t possible,” She added as the other car passengers giggled.  At age seven and nine, they realized I could be unreasonable at times.

 

 

The next day, the front page of the local newspaper pictured the hail storm that happened just south of our home.  Hail stones piled into drifts so high that it appeared to have snowed in Florida….

 

Since Stacey didn’t see that version of snow in person, she kept praying for snow.  What happened next? You guessed right- more Florida snow in the form of hail and many more miraculous events as God honored the orphan. 

 

Also, in the anthology, the Evans Terrace girls give their account of what happened when 7 or more parents died within a year or 2 of each other in a small subdivision of about 110 homes.  People started saying their land was CURSED. The children heard those rumors about their subdivision and were scared to death.  Then, when a neighbor lost her dad to a blood clot after surgery, the kids felt the need to help.  When one of the girls heard the rumor that the mourning family ran out of milk, she setup a traditional solution or proverbial lemonade stand.  That day, other angels or young children arrived; many of those neighbor kids ran door to door selling half glasses of hot lemonade.  They raised enough quarters to buy milk and other perishables.

More importantly, they formed a group that became a club and led their neighborhood out of grief.  Find out how by reading their full story.  In the following except, the girls know no limits to miracles and continue their community service buying beds for two, orphaned toddlers that come to live with their aunt.

Tis The Season

One of the boys was just two weeks old and the other was eighteen-month-old when their single mother died in her apartment of an epileptic seizure.  These two miracles survived two days with their deceased mother before authorities found them.  Their aunt’s family was not well to do but had inherited two cribs for the boys.  However, just near Christmas, they needed real beds for these toddlers. 

There were donations of new jewelry and Christmas items to raffle.  We charged a dollar a ticket.  On our little table sat our flyer of community services completed and goals to finish this year.

 

As one guest read the document, she handed us a five-dollar bill whispering to my mother, “What is their goal?”

 

“At least one bed,” She responded.

 

“Well, good luck.  They probably won’t even raise enough for a mattress,” this woman added.

 

“I’ve seen them sell one hundred and seventy one dollars’ worth of lemonade and still have over half the original gallon.  I bet they can get this bed,” My mother defended.

 

“Good luck,” The guest reiterated.

 

“I believe in miracles,” Mom observed smugly.  “ ‘Tis the season!”

           

The stranger stopped our movement back to our vehicles, “I’ll let you have both beds for two hundred dollars but only if you can pick them up by tomorrow.”

 

“Sold!” We all screamed as Laura and Mom flinched.  The club was sixty dollars from reality.

Did the girls find the cash? Of course! What other minor miracles happened when these angels joined forces with others to make wishes come true?  The story gets even more fascinating when these human angles (the girls) meet the young boys that shared days with real angels before authorities found them in their apartment with their dead mother.

You should read more inspirational, side stories in the S.H.E. Anthology; it’s available as a book and eBook through AMAZON, Kindle, and SMASHWORDS. See my profile for more details on how to find books I write, co-author, produce, or compile.

By the way, the compilation’s royalties will help charities involved in grief counseling or with mental health issues- especially for children therapies for the types of traumas witnessing massacres produce.  For example, one local group ‘New Hope for Kids’ (Orlando) will get some of the profits from this compilation because the group that started this organization helped Stacey over 20 years ago.

This blogger’s main author page is @ WEEBLY, you can find many nonfiction uplifting books there.
http://mchanson714.weebly.com/

AMAZON author site http://www.amazon.com/Mrs.-Cynthia-Meyers-Hanson/e/B00B28J7L2

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The Fantastic and Fabulous Author Catherine Stovall: Reborn Blog Tour

Author Catherine Stovall

Author Catherine Stovall

Today is a special day because I’m interviewing Author Catherine Stovall. Not only is she a fantastic writer, she’s also a great friend of mine. I met Catherine over six months ago and we’ve spoken nearly every day since. She’s devilishly charismatic, exceedingly intelligent, wildly humorous, and vastly resourceful. I’ll never forget the conversation we were having when she mistakenly thought I was barely in my early twenties. The conversation was based on my own personal lack of action in the book publishing world. I was impressed at her success and all that she’d accomplished, and her words to me were, “You’re younger than I was when I got started.” Again, like I said, she’s very entertaining and I just can’t allow her to live that down. It’s always good for your ego when you are able to baffle a person as brilliant as she is, but it still sucks that I’m no spring chicken.

Catherine doesn’t like to be forced into a box, and she doesn’t like labels, therefore she writes in any genre that suits her fancy. Stolen and Reborn are considered many things including YA, Horror, Romance, and Occult. Fearful Day is General Fiction Horror. She’s currently working on a fantasy novel, a crime novel, and preparing to release a Drama Short Story.

Okay, enough dilly-dally. I could go on all night about how awesome Catherine Stovall is, but let’s get on with the interview and you can see for yourself why I so adore this woman.

You can enter to win a copy of Reborn from the Rafflecopter giveaway.

“I don’t want to make money, I just want to be wonderful.”
—Marilyn Monroe

Can you tell everyone a little bit about yourself?
I am an eclectic in all areas of life. I wear many hats and do many things. In my “normal” life, I am a full time office manager, a wife, and a mother of three children. In my “creative” life, I write, sketch, and do amateur photography. In my “crazy” life, I ride motorcycles, play with giant reptiles, and generally do anything for an adrenaline rush.

When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing very early on in my childhood. It was not until I was 30 that I decided to write a book. I finished and published it within that same year.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I started with poetry when I first learned to write and it became a true passion for me. Later in life, it became a necessity for me. On the face of a blank page, I found my outlet for all things.

Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up all over, born in Florida and later moving to multiple places through Missouri. I traveled extensively on the East Coast and lived in Alabama for a bit. We lived on farms and in small towns. I was the youngest of a large family and though times were hard and my parents were strict, I had a wonderful life full of hard-learned lessons.

Where do you live now and what’s it like?
I currently live in what I like to refer to as Sandland. It is a tiny town in Southeast Missouri with little life. It is a nice safe place to raise teens.

Do you have a day job? If so, tell us about it…
I am an Office Manager at a small loan company. I work with a crazy bunch of humans. They are always colorful and interesting. Sometimes they are plain insane.

If you could write a different genre, what would it be?
I am interested in writing Steampunk. I have tried my hand at it before but I don’t feel I have really captured the genre yet.

How much of the book is based on real life experience?
Many scenes in Stolen are based on true events in my life. When Jenda and Soborgne first meet the readers actually experience an embellished version of how I met my best friend of 20+ years.

What are your current projects?
I am working on ten separate projects right now, including Eternity: Requiem of Humanity: Book 3. There are several different genres to include YA Fantasy, Romance, General Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, and Thriller. You can check out the complete list and their descriptions on my webpage.

>>> Catherine Stovall’s Webpage <<<

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about a book and what would it be?
I would like to redo the beginning of Stolen. Many readers have found the start to be a little slow. Being inspired by the early greats, I have a huge love of backstory and today’s readers seem to prefer a more action packed beginning.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
A short paragraph from Arcana ~ I spent three years in the darkness with no sun. It seemed like an eternity without feeling its warmth on my skin. Sometimes, I dreamed about it. In these dreams, I was younger and the world was the way it was before the war. I was twelve when the war first broke and sixteen when it ended. I remember clearly, what life was like before the High Priestess’ Age of Magic.

Do you ever experience writer’s block and how do you get your inspiration back?
Writer’s block curses all writers at some point in their career. For me, it is best to separate myself completely from my writing for a few days. When I come back, I am similar to a starving man at a banquet table.

What do you do when you are not writing?
I read, spend time with my kids, and have adventures with my husband on our motorcycle.

How did you choose the genre you write in?
Horror has always been a fascination for me. Turning to the YA genre came from the desire to produce books I would want my children and little sister to read. I wanted to provide them with material that focused on true imagination and less sexual situations.

Where do you get your ideas?
My dreams are often nightmares and they provide plenty of inspiration. Other times I derive story ideas from everywhere around me. Music plays an enormous part for me as well.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I start with a general and very weak outline. I have learned not to focus too much on preconceptions because my characters never seem to cooperate and I end up veering way into left field.

How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I use social networking such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google +. I find photo contest are very effective online. I also do as much in-person promotion as possible. This summer, I held a pet food drive for my local No-Kill Shelter. I also pass out fangs with promo cards attached to them at Halloween while I take my own children trick or treating. Both were great promotion opportunities. We will be hosting a blood drive in the spring for the print release of Reborn as well.

Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
I recently finished a YA Fantasy novel titled Faire Eve. I believe that once the book has found the right home, my readers will love it as well. Faire Eve is currently being reviewed and hopefully will be joining the growing list of my novels available to the public.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Not very original but, “Don’t give up. You may receive a hundred rejections but it only takes one yes. Also, save up and get an editing program. It will change your life.

Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you. Without my readers and fans, I would not be able to do what I love and share it with the world.

The Hypothetical Hotspot™

with Author Catherine Stovall

What are you going to do when the Zombie Apocalypse hits?
Grab a chainsaw, a bunch of guns, lots of food and ammo, and my laptop before heading to the most unpopulated area possible.

Where do babies come from?
Oh, they crawl in under the door while you sleep. Just like cockroaches, they never seem to go away either.

Can you pick any product of your choice and write a catchphrase for it?
Turtle Lattes. It’s like crack in your coffee. 😀

Do you have Road Rage?
My biggest pet peeve is when people pull out in front of me just to slam on their brakes and turn. It sends me into a spree of cuss words that could make a sailor blush.

What are three of your worst habits?
Marlboro’s, Mountain Dew, and my filthy mouth.

What happens when you get ‘half scared to death’ twice?
Well, if you have recovery time between the two scares, I am assuming, you could end up one quarter to one-third dead. If no recovery time then, I will see you when you return on the wrong side of the Zombie Apocalypse.

If I got slobbering drunk, would you make me a sandwich?
As long as you promised to slobber on the sandwich and not me. I got a thing with spit. Ewww…yuck.

If you write a book about failure, and it doesn’t sell, is it called success?
If you start writing a book and you finish it, that is success in itself. So, yes.

If something “goes without saying,” why do people still say it?
Because people love to hear themselves talk.

Why do all the superheroes wear underpants on the outside?
I always assumed it was for more restriction in that area. I mean the man of steel must have a few issues if he gets excited. ~~ waggles eyebrows~~

What is another word for “thesaurus”?
I was really tempted to list the word in every different language I could find but… I’m lazy so I’m going to go with an attempt to be funny. It’s a writer’s cheat sheet.

What would happen if Batman gets bitten by a vampire?
He’d be a Vampire Batman or he’d ditch the suit and just be hot.

If chocolate comes from cocoa beans, and beans are a vegetable, why isn’t chocolate a vegetable?
Wait! Chocolate isn’t a vegetable. OMG… my whole life has been a lie.

When does it stop being partly cloudy and start being partly sunny?
At the same moment when the glass stops being half-empty and becomes half-full. To specify that would be when people become delusional or they take their happy pills.

If a stripper gets breast implants can she write it off on her taxes as a business expense?
Actually, yes. Other tax write offs include thongs as uniforms and latex as safety materials. Thanks to a strange lawsuit.

What does PU stand for (as in “PU, that stinks!”)?
Not to be boring and informational but it is a shortened version of the French term peur that means to stink.

What do people in China call their good plates?
Home Plate?

What type of animal is Snuffaluffagus?
I believe Snuffy was created in the image of wooly mammoth, minus the tusk, so he did not frighten children. Whatever he is, he cracks my shit up!

How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?
I have done a lot of research on how to kill people in cold blood (for the books I swear) and it is the general style and manner overall that determines a killing to be an assassination.

Stolen

Stolen

Stolen: Requiem of Humanity Series:
Book 1
Jenda and Soborgne are best friends and everything they do, they do together. Unfortunately, this time the girls may be joined at the hip in a far more horrible way: by death. The girls are kidnapped and held captive by Belle and Matteo, two vampires with a plan. Belle, a sociopath in life and death, is searching for an heir to her reign as the only vampire to hold the secret to surviving the sun. Matteo is a lost soul who would give anything to be loved and to see the light of day. As the four characters’ worlds collide, blood is spilled, lives are lost, and rules are broken. Disappointment in love and life bring out the worst in humans but, with vampires, it leads to a chilling tale of romance and terror.

Click the links for Stolen on E-Book and Paperback

Reborn

Reborn

Reborn: Requiem of Humanity: Book 2

After killing the only female vampire known to walk in the sun, Jenda and Soborgne travel with Matteo, Jenda’s true love and a major player in the girls’ human demise, to Budapest in search of protection and answers. Hunted by the Dracul for their crimes against the vampire Belle, their future is unsure and the danger is mounting. An ancient feud between God, Demons, and Vampires places Jenda and Soborgne at the center of a battle for their lives and a mysterious prophecy. The girls find themselves separated once again but this time, Soborgne has chosen to walk away. Feeling as if the world thinks she is the epitome of evil, she turns away from her friends and the light. Even the constant thirst and the rising darkness inside Jenda’s mind can’t stop her. To many coincidences and unanswered questions sends her back into the world of her mind and a visitor she thought long gone offers her the information she needs… for a price.
Click here to purchase Reborn.
You can also enter to win a copy at the Rafflecopter giveaway

Fearful Day

Fearful Day

Fearful Day (Short Story)

Sometimes, in the darkness, there are things waiting for the most innocent souls. Things that seek out the goodness in its victims because it is the most precious thing they can destroy. 

The author of Stolen: Requiem of Humanity: Book One brings you into the recesses of a twisted mind in this tale of demons, shadows, and prophecies fulfilled.
Click here to purchase Fearful Day.

Who designed the covers?
The incredibly talented Alaskan multi-medium artist Christy Weber, who also happens to be my sister, designed the covers for Stolen and Fearful Day. The Reborn Cover was designed by Mrs. Venus Botticelli, an equally talented artist who typically does not share her work with the world.

Before we go, did you enter a Rafflecopter giveaway? Did you join The Official Catherine Stovall Fan Page? Did you check out Requiem of Humanity Series on Facebook?

There’s much more to come on The Reborn Blog Tour. Stay tuned, she’ll be on the Writing Network tomorrow.

I adore you, Catherine Stovall. Thank you so much for dropping by. ♥

By Coey Cain

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Digging up Dirt with Author Jay Ellis.

An Author Interview

by Coey Cain

Author Jay Ellis

I had the great pleasure of getting the scoop on Author, Jay Ellis. Right from the start, I want to thank him for taking the time to tell us about himself, answer my batty questions, and I hope you have as much fun as I did getting his responses. So, thank you, Jay.  The pleasure was mine.

Jay Ellis writes primarily Fantasy, for teen readers. He’s been writing for about 17 years from Essex, UK.

… and I’m sorry, ladies, he’s engaged. He proposed to his fiance, Tammy, on Valentine’s Day. How romantic is that? He’s the proud father of three little boys under the age of seven and it’s a wonder he has time for anything else!

“Before you pick up the pen to write, make sure you realize how long you’ll carry it for and how heavy it will be” -Jay Ellis

I met Jay Ellis several months ago and he’s kept me entertained with his wit, humor and charm since day-one. Something about his English accent makes him even more interesting. He’s self-publishing, he designs his own book covers, and he’s always working on something new. He’s been an inspiration to me since I’ve known him, just don’t have the coffee vs. tea argument with this bloke. He’s English and very serious about his tea.

Let’s get to it, then. I asked, ‘Who is Jay Ellis?’ I want to know more than the basics but I did cover all the good stuff, as well.

Spotlight: Jay Ellis. 

Links to the Author

Here’s all the links you’ll need to find Jay.

Jason Ellis on Amazon
Jay Ellis’ Website
Author, Jay Ellis on Facebook
Jay Ellis, Author’s Blog

 

Let the Games Begin.

I wanted to have some fun. I asked Jay some questions just to see what he would come up with. As a writer, it’s our job to create. Day after day, we spend our lives exaggerating, embellishing, telling stories and doing the best we can to entertain those around us. I wanted to put him on the spot and test his ability to talk his way through some confounding questions. Also, I like to hear him talk… So, check it out. Jay Ellis tells us what he’s going to do in a Zombie Apocalypse, why Superheroes wear their underpants on the outside, and much more.

Hypothetical Hotspot with Jay Ellis.

“Jason Ellis – Wears a cap, he’s English and he drinks tea.  His books must be great!”

Jay has a plethora of books to choose from on Amazon.com, so, head on over there and check out the many titles he has to offer. Here’s some additional links to get you started.

Amelia Maylock, book one; The 12th Year AwakeningAmelia Maylock, book two; Hidden in the AmethystAmelia Maylock, book three; Ysmirao and the Pearl of TimeAmelia Maylock, book four; The Jade Treasure of Shadows – Amelia Maylock, 12th Year Awakening; book oneThe 12th Year Awakening; Amelia Maylock (Amelia Maylock books) – Banana Skins on the TableDecide Your FateThe ‘Footballing’ Week, book oneThe Mansly AffairTime Runs Uneven: Universal Secrets TrilogyThe Secret’s Out 

Shadows & Voices, by Jay Ellis

Shadows & Voices; A Holly Silverstone Adventure

by Jay Ellis

Thank you, again, Jay. As always, you’re fantastic and a load of fun. I thoroughly enjoyed this and I look forward to hounding you for an exclusive when your next book comes out.

To the readers and guests, please stay tuned to find out which Author will take a seat in the Hypothetical Hotspot.

Until next time, folks, remember to stay on your toes.

Coey Cain

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