Flash Fiction Friday Number 17: Spiders

Hey guys.

Well, it’s almost Halloween. That gives us time for one more scary story before I return to my regularly scheduled programming. This one is a bit long to be considered flash, but I like how it turned out.

Anyway, on to the story. I simply call this one…

Spiders

Jake’s eyes snapped open.

What a weird dream. Jake thought as he lay there in bed.

In his mind’s eye, he could still see the cave, the strange symbols on the stone floor, and the figures in black robes dancing around the room as they performed their ritual. He could even still hear their haunting chants.

Jake sat bolt-upright in bed as he realized that this wasn’t a dream. He could actually hear the chanting. It seemed as if it were coming from directly under his bed. After listening for a few more minutes, he was convinced that’s exactly where it was coming from. He jumped out of bed and pushed his worn mattress out of the way. The spot where the mattress had lain on the floor for so long was marked by an absence of the filth that littered the rest of the floor.

Jake’s hands began feeling around the hardwood floor, pressing here and there, looking for a loose board or something so he could see where the sound was coming from. He just wanted a peek, that was all. Then he would gather up his few possessions and leave the house for good. It had been a good house and he’d enjoyed his time there, especially since nobody bothered him, but he knew when it was time to move on.

Jake’s left hand jerked as if it had a mind of its own. When it came back down, the board it landed on gave just a little. Jake pressed harder and he heard a click. Suddenly, the panel of flooring beneath him began to rise. Jake jumped off and stood back as a section almost the size of his old twin mattress opened in the floor. The chanting grew louder as it did.

As Jake peered down into the black hole in the floor, he could see a set of wooden stairs leading down into the dark. They looked like basement stairs, but as far as Jake had been able to tell, the house didn’t have a basement.

“Don’t do it, Jake.” He said to himself even as his right foot touched the first step.

“Seriously. Who cares where the chanting is coming from?” He said as his left foot followed his right.

Jake continued to try to talk himself out of proceeding even as he went further down the stairs, but he couldn’t stop his feet.

“Come on, Jake.” He pleaded with himself. “You know this place is supposed to be haunted. That’s why nobody ever bothered us. Let’s just turn back and go find a new place to live.”

Still, Jake’s feet continued to take step after step down the rickety old staircase. He didn’t even realize how dark it was getting until he heard the click of the latch above his head as the hole in the floor closed behind him. He continued down, now navigating by feel. With the click of the latch, he’d stopped arguing with himself.

“The only way out is through.” Jake said to the darkness. Who had said that? He wondered, hoping to take his mind off the mortal peril he was now sure he was in. He couldn’t remember.

Jake felt a thick spiderweb on his face and panicked. It felt thick enough to bind the largest man. Jake’s panicked brain wondered if there were some sort of breed of giant spider that had learned to mimic chanting to lure unsuspecting humans into its web. He swatted at his face and grasped the tendril of web, jerking it as he tried to rip it off.

The light went on.

It was just the pull-cord for a bare bulb. Jake thought with a sigh of relief.

As Jake stood there on the stairs, trying to calm his racing heart, he looked around and found that he was indeed in a large basement filled with all the usual suspects. Broken furniture, moldering cardboard boxes leaking decades old clothing, rotted books, discarded toys, and the like.

The only thing was, the basement was impossibly huge. He estimated that he’d already descended about ten feet and was only halfway to the bottom and in the dim light of the single bare bulb, Jake couldn’t even see the far wall. He looked back up at the top of the stairs, hoping against hope that he would see some sort of latch to reopen the hole in the floor, but it looked like the underside of any other floor. He wanted to look for some way to reopen it, but his feet were still moving down the stairs.

When he reached the dirt floor of the basement, his feet continued on even faster, as if guided by the chants echoing through the basement chamber. He easily navigated through the labyrinth of detritus in the basement. Or, more accurately, the chamber made to look like a basement, as he was now sure this room was.

Finally, he found himself facing another hole in the floor. Instead of being dark, the hole flickered with candlelight. The stairs were cut into the bedrock itself. Jake didn’t even try to argue as his right foot took the first step, followed by the left. The chanting was deafening now. Jake felt the fear and panic oozing out of his body. He felt fascinated by the intricate carvings adorning the walls. He felt, if he’d had enough time, he might have been able to actually read some of the strange writing, but still his feet pressed on.

Finally, the stairwell opened up onto a familiar cavern. It was exactly as he’d dream’t it, right down to the drawings on the floor and the black-robed figures. Except they weren’t dancing now. They were staring directly at him. The chanting stopped, and he felt control of his body return to him. Something deep down told him to run, but he still felt logy.

Probably from being woken out of a dead sleep, now that the adrenaline has worn off. He thought.

“Welcome, Jake.” The one who appeared to be the leader said.

“Welcome, Jake.” The rest of them repeated.

“Who are you?” Jake asked.

“I am Tarquin, and this is my flock.” the leader said, removing his cowl. “Please, there’s no reason to stand in the doorway. Come. Join us.”

Jake didn’t know what he’d expected to see under the hood, but found himself looking at a man. Perhaps a bit gaunt and pale, but a man nonetheless. Not wanting to appear rude, he did as Tarquin asked and walked toward him. As he did so, the others moved silently around the room.

As his head began to clear, Jake felt the first tendrils of fear creeping back into his brain. Even though he was smiling, there was something about that smile that Jake didn’t like. He just couldn’t put his finger on it.

“Why are you guys living under my house?” Jake asked.

“Your house?” Tarquin smiled. “I believe you’re mistaken. That house belongs to me and my flock. We call it our little web.”

Jake chuckled at the comparison. “Your web? That would make you…”

He looked at Tarquin, who was now grinning broadly, revealing an oversized set of dagger-like canine teeth.

“Spiders.” Tarquin finished for him, and began to laugh.

Jake looked around. The rest of the spiders had formed a circle around the two of them and it was quickly shrinking.

Jake tried to run, but was quickly caught in the powerful clutches of one of the vampires. Jake tensed, expecting to feel fangs pierce his skin. Instead, the vampire dragged him back to Tarquin, grabbing his hair and exposing his neck.

“Thank you Octavius.” Tarquin said. “Tell me something, Jake. Are you afraid?”

Jake did his best to nod while at the same time feeling a slight surge of relief. Could this have been some elaborate hidden-camera prank all along?

“Good. Fear gives the blood so much more flavor.” Tarquin said as he plunged his fangs into Jake’s carotid artery.

Even as he felt his life draining out of his neck, he felt pinpricks all over his body as the rest of the spiders took their share.

.     .     .

So that’s it for this year’s Hallowen stories. I hope you liked it.

I’m going to try to post every week in November, but I’m also going to be doing NaNoWriMo to try to finish one of my novels which means I have to write at least 1667 words every day of the month just for that so I’m not sure I’ll also be able to do a piece of flash every week on top of it, but I’ll do my best.

As always, don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

 

Flash Fiction Friday Number 16: A Portrait In Red

Hey guys. It’s that time of the week again. This week’s offering comes with a warning. Parts of this story are somewhat gruesome. So if you’re the squeamish type, particularly when it comes to blood, you might want to look away. For the rest of you, I present…

A Portrait In Red

An out of breath Anton looked around at his now trashed studio and smiled angrily. Broken paintings lay everywhere. The entire room was spattered with a galaxy of color radiating out from a sun of smashed paint tubes.

“There. Much more fitting for a trash artist like me.” He said to nobody in particular.

Anton turned to the one survivor. A blank canvas supported by his trusty easel. The easel he’d bought in a junk shop eons ago. He’d tried all sorts of fancy new easels, but always came back to this one. Sometimes he thought that maybe the easel was the true source of his talent.

“What talent?” He said to the trashed room.

The critics had hated his work. One had described him as another piece of street trash pretending to be an artist. Another had simply called his work forgettable.

Anton looked down at his right hand which still clutched the large kitchen knife he’d used to slash his paintings. He approached the blank canvas.

“I’ll show them. I’ll give them something to remember.”

He drew the knife up his left wrist, severing the artery. The first gout of blood spattered the pristine white canvas and he laughed maniacally. Knowing his time was limited, he snatched up the first brush to hand, dipped it in the freely flowing blood and got to work.

He painted frantically. Only pausing for a moment at a time to glance at the mirror before attacking the canvas once again.

Finally it was done. He stumbled back from his painting to admire his work. The vibrant red was already fading to a dull brown, but it remained an almost perfect self-portrait. Then the painting began to blur, finally becoming completely black along with the rest of his studio.

When Anton awoke, he was staring at his still trashed studio, although the angle was a bit funny. He couldn’t tell if he’d been out for minutes, hours, or days. He tried to look at his watch, but found he couldn’t move.

“Great, idiot. You didn’t kill yourself, you just somehow managed to paralyze yourself.” Anton thought to himself once he discovered his lips wouldn’t move.

Then he saw it. Laying on the floor was a large lump that vaguely resembled him. He realized he was looking at his own dead body. Was he a ghost? Why couldn’t he move?

Just then, the door to the studio flew open and his agent, Kathy, breezed in, followed by her weaselly assistant, Kyle.

“Anton? Are you home? I do hope you’re not still sulking over a few bad reviews.”

Kathy paused, taking in the carnage.

“Ugh. What’s that smell?” Kyle asked.

Kathy strolled over to the lump on the floor, surveying his dead body.

“Oh, Andy. What have you done?”

“Who?” Kyle asked.

“Anton. Andy was his real name. He thought Anton sounded more artistic.”

“I’m over here.” Anton tried to say, thinking it as hard as he could.

Karen turned, as if she’d heard him, and walked over, staring him right in the face. Kyle followed.

“Ugh. What the hell is that?” Kyle asked, wrinkling his nose.

“His last statement. One final middle finger to the art world.”

It was then that Anton realized what had happened. He was trapped  in his own self-portrait.

“Should we get rid of it?”

“Are you crazy? Call the gallery. Let them know we need the space for another auction as soon as possible.”

“For one painting? What are we going to fill with?”

“Look around.” Karen said. “This room’s filled with paintings.”

“Destroyed paintings that nobody liked a week ago. Should I at least have them repaired?”

“Oh heavens no. Leave them as they are. Those art snobs may not have liked them before, but now they’re filled with the artist’s dying rage. They eat that crap up. And this monstrosity will be the jewel in the crown. Thank you Andy. You’ve just made me a very rich woman.” Karen said, laughing.

Anton was forced to watch as the cops came and the coroner loaded up his body. As his landlord sneaked in and raided his private possessions. And finally, as his paintings were repaired with strips of duct tape and loaded up before he was finally snatched up and put in the crate with the rest of them.

The auction went well. Anton watched in an amazed sort of rage as people paid thousands of dollars for paintings he hadn’t been able to get five for just a few weeks before.

Anton was bought for an ungodly amount and hung on the bedroom wall of an elderly art collector who liked to wander his house naked.

.     .     .

So that’s it for this week. I know some of you might not find the ending very scary, but I can’t think of many things more scary than that. Anyway, I hope you liked it. I’ll see you next week with another Flash Fiction Friday.

Remember to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

 

Flash Fiction Friday The Thirteenth Number 15: The Family Estate

Hey guys. I’m finally back with another Flash Fiction Friday. What with it being October and a Friday the Thirteenth, I just had to post something a little scary. Admittedly, I would have liked to have spent more time on this one, but I don’t think it’s too bad.

The Family Estate

Elizabeth’s head reeled as the car bounced along the dirt road that led to the enormous castle.

It had all happened so fast. She’d been working as a waitress in a greasy little diner and on the verge of being evicted from her tiny apartment when he walked through the door and swept her off her feet just like in one of those fairy tales.

She’d just been Lizzy then, but he’d insisted on calling her Elizabeth and it had grown on her, especially considering her new, nearly royal, lifestyle.

It had been a whirlwind courtship followed by a small ceremony. Neither of them had any family to speak of and the only friends she had were her former coworkers from the diner. When he’d approached her with his desire to move back to Romania and into his family estate, she hadn’t even needed to think about it before she’d said yes. He hadn’t told her it was an actual castle until they’d turned onto the unpaved road that led to it.

As they pulled up to the massive wooden doors, she made to grab the small suitcase that contained everything she cared about.

“Leave that.” Gregory said. “Cromwell will get it.”

“Who?”

“Him.” Gregory said, pointing out the car window at a skeleton of a man who had appeared as if out of nowhere.

“Oh, there’s no way…” She began, before Gregory shushed her.

“That’s what he’s here for. It’s okay, he’s much stronger than he looks.”

Elizabeth felt doubtful, but didn’t argue.

Gregory stepped out of the car and took her hand.

“Now, allow me to show you to your room.”

“You mean we won’t be living together?”

“Oh, you’ll be seeing more of me than you could ever want.”

She followed him into the castle and up a flight of stairs which led to a long hallway lined with dozens of portraits of women. Their clothing progressed through the ages as she made her way down the hall.

“Who are these women?” She asked.

“Those who are no longer with us.” Gregory said with a hint of sadness in his voice.

Finally, they reached a thick oak door, and Gregory opened it with an antique key. Beyond the door was a huge room decked out in the finest silks and velvets. The bed alone was as big as her old apartment.

“Of course, you’re welcome to redecorate as you see fit. Just let Cromwell know and he will get you anything you wish.”

“How?” She asked, looking around for a telephone or something.

“Just ring this bell.” He said, pulling a thick velvet rope. She heard a bell ring in the next room. “His room adjoins yours. He’s here to attend to your every need.”

As if on cue, Cromwell appeared from his room with her suitcase in hand.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some things to attend to, my love. I will see you again for dinner.” Gregory said, taking her hand and kissing it. As he did, Elizabeth could have sworn she saw a flash of teeth. But they couldn’t be teeth. Nobody had teeth that long.

Gregory slipped out through the oak door, closing it behind him. She heard the distinct sound of an iron key turning into an iron lock. She felt something drip onto her foot and looked down. Her hand was bleeding where he had kissed it. Small red drops stained the white carpet.

Elizabeth turned to Cromwell, still not understanding.

Cromwell stood before an easel with a blank canvas propped on it.

“Now then. Shall we get started on your portrait?” Cromwell asked, smiling. His fangs clearly visible.

.     .     .

So that’s it for this week. Hopefully I’ll have another one for you before the thirty-first. Until then, be sure to check out all the places I can be found online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

 

 

What’s Up Wednesday: A Breakdown, Home Free, & Bookapalooza

Hey guys. I guess it’s that time again where I tell you about my week.

To be honest, the few days between my last post and the weekend were relatively uneventful. I worked, I tried unsuccessfully to get the house clean, and I worked again.

Then on Saturday, we started the day by haunting our house for Halloween. Due to a death in the family a year ago, we didn’t do much to celebrate our favorite holiday, so I was determined to be prepared for it this year. We hung up all of our decorations, including several decals which were meant to stick to the wall, but are already peeling off. Still, we got the house relatively spooky.

After that, it being possibly one of the last truly gorgeous days of the year, I jumped on the new bike to take it for a good test ride. Since my old bike just wasn’t good at keeping up, I jumped on the freeway and really let her rip. Since Shannon and my mom read this blog, I won’t say how fast I got it up to, but I chickened out before coming anywhere near its top speed.

Once I got into Sturgis, I took it to the parts shop both to show it off and look at accessories. It’s nice having a bike made within the past twenty years. You can actually still get parts for it.

After spending time at the parts shop, I decided to take the long way home via Vanocker Canyon, a beautiful ride through the black hills.

As I was leaving Sturgis, my speedometer stopped working. Now if I had been smart, I would have taken it to a friend’s house and left it there until I could arrange a trailer to take it home, but I wasn’t about to let a little mechanical trouble ruin my day, so on up the canyon I went. (Yes, I’m stupid sometimes.) I was absolutely loving the way the new bike took the turns. I felt much braver on this one than on my old bike because it sits lower and has a heavier, more stable base.

Then, about ten miles in, the engine started to sputter. Again, I should have turned around and nursed it back to town, but I didn’t. I hoped it was just a hiccup that would even out, but it didn’t. After about another mile, it died completely. I coasted as far as I could and then sat there on the side of the road for a few minutes, begging it to start, but I was getting absolutely nothing at all from the starter switch. I called Shannon to ask her to get ahold of a friend of ours who could rescue me with his trailer. Luckily I had just enough signal to make the call. I was told it would be about forty-five minutes. Luckily he was available to come to the rescue at all.

As I waited, I got a brilliant idea. I would turn around and push it back up the hill I had just coasted down. Beyond that hill was a ten percent grade for a good couple of miles. I figured if I could get it rolling fast enough, I might just be able to pop-start it. It took me what seemed like forever, but I finally crested the hill pushing my beast and jumped on. After catching my breath, I let go of the brake and began to coast. I started going faster and faster. I still had no speedometer, but I felt like I must be going at least the posted speed. I popped it into gear and let go of the clutch. The engine felt like it revved to life. I squeezed the clutch lever back in, hoping to heat the engine running, but nothing. Again and again I tried, but no luck. My new baby was well and truly dead.

Finally, the ten-percent grade leveled out and once again I found myself on the side of the road. Unfortunately, while I was a little closer to town, I didn’t have any shade in my new location. I probably should have just stayed put. I did have several people stop and ask if I needed help, but I told them I was good. Sitting there waiting, I came to the conclusion that since I knew for a fact the battery had a full charge when I left the house, there must be something wrong with the charging system.

At least I got a little laugh while I waited when a big bad biker passed me on his Harley blasting the new T-Swift song.

Not too long after, the cavalry arrived. I still can’t thank him enough. I’m not sure what I would have done otherwise. We got the bike loaded up fairly quickly considering how heavy it is, and he drove me home.

With the bike stored safely in the garage for another day, I quickly bathed and dressed to go see Home Free.

They were absolutely amazing to watch, even if our typically choice seats were ruined due to the venue adding extra folding chairs right in front of us.

Still, it was an amazing show.

After the show, we went to the dinner we were forced to miss due to my mechanical mishap.

On Sunday, it was time for one of my favorite days of the year. The day which we’ve come to call bookapalooza. It’s the day that Shannon, my librarian girlfriend, has to spend her yearly budget. It’s so much fun to walk into a bookstore and buy several hundred dollars worth of books. I had meant to get a picture of them all, but I forgot. Unfortunately, my brilliant idea to push my bike the day before got my back hurting again. Luckily it’s not as bad as it was.

And really, that’s about been my week. I’m still trying to get into a regular writing schedule, but it seems there’s always something I need to do. Thankfully, the hotel is starting to calm down so I can start getting some writing done there at least. I’m almost looking forward to winter because then people won’t expect me to leave the house so much. I said ALMOST, nature. Don’t make with the snow just yet.

Oh yes, one more exciting thing. My brother has decided to take me to Ireland for my birthday in February, so I’m thrilled at the thought of seeing the motherland. Hopefully it doesn’t take too long for my passport renewal to go through.

Well, that’s about it. I’m still working on that Halloween story for you guys. It’s jut not coming out quite the way I want it so far. Hopefully it’ll be out before the 31st. But hey, if it’s not, I can just say I’m imitating the Simpsons.

I’ll see you guys soon.

Stalk me online

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

 

 

What’s Up Wednesday: Finally Healed & A New Set Of Wheels

Hey guys. I know I’ve promised this before, but I think I’m actually back this time. You see, something amazing has happened this week. I’ve experienced the first couple of pain-free days I’ve had in months. Sure, the back will twinge a little if I move wrong or try to pick up something I shouldn’t, but over all, I’m feeling pretty much back to normal.

As usual, the South Dakota Festival Of Books was a blast. First of all, I think Deadwood is one of the prettiest towns in the Black Hills. Not to mention the fact that it’s always fun to get together with fellow book lovers and authors. Not only did I get to see friends like Sandra Brannan, Anne Charles and Adrian Ludens, I got to meet many more new friends and some potential connections for book cover artists. We added a few volumes to our autographed copies shelf. Hopefully I’ll have a book to sell myself the next time it comes around.

I’ve been submitting more short stories for publication, but no bites so far. To be fair, I’m doing things a little backward and starting at the top of the list and working my way down. No sense selling a story for peanuts when one of the big names might want to actually pay for it. Besides, I’m getting a little old for that starting at the bottom stuff. I’m looking forward to the day I can report my first sale to you. I’m confident my writing is up to par, it’s just that competition is so fierce for even the non-paying markets.

I do have to confess that work on the novels isn’t going as smoothly as I had hoped it would. I would give excuses as to why, but they all come down to the same evil word that has plagued artists from the dawn of time. PROCRASTINATION. I can’t help but look at the amount of work involved in even finishing a first draft and think, “I just don’t have it in me tonight/today. I’ll do it tomorrow.” Then I sit around and binge Netflix.

The good news is, I’m almost caught up on Supernatural. Of course, the new season starts this month.

The bad news is July and Thrillerfest/Pitchfest will be here before I know it. I don’t want to go empty handed again.

In personal news, I finally got myself a new bike and it’s a monster straight from the gates of hell. Of course I mean that in the best possible way.

I went from this rather anemic ’83 vt500.

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To this beastly ’02 VTX 1800.

vtx1800 medium

It’s hard to tell from a picture, but this thing is a beast. If you don’t believe me, there are plenty of videos on YouTube of them eating Harleys alive. I actually have to be careful about how hard I twist the throttle, because the torque makes me feel like I’m going to slide off the back. I love it. It’s also much more comfortable than my little 500. My legs are out in front of me instead of tucked under like they are on the 500.

That’s not to say I’m not going to still ride the 500. The 1800 obviously doesn’t get nearly the gas mileage the 500 does, so I’m probably going to use the 500 for running around town and to work and back during the summer. Except for during Sturgis. I can’t wait to show this monster off to all the Harley guys.

Unfortunately, last night was the first freeze, so riding season is just about over. Still, I wouldn’t have gotten such a great deal otherwise.

That’s about it for this week. I’ll hopefully be back next week with another update. I’m also working on something spooky to post for a FFF sometime in the month of October, so keep an eye out for that.

Remember to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

 

It’s Monday! Ink & Bone, Paper & Fire

So as you may have noticed, I’ve been away for the last couple of weeks. While I’ll go into it more on Wednesday, I feel like I should give you the short version. I was sick with a nasty cold and just had no energy to do anything. I’m still recovering, but I’m back to work. At least I was able to take some time to get some reading done. Speaking of which…

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

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I really liked this book. It was filled with great characters and truly action packed. Without giving too much away, in this world, the legendary library of Alexandria never burned. While I wish I could say this was a good thing, in the book, it’s definitely not. While religion and governments still exist, the real power in the world has become the library. Remember what they say about absolute power corrupting absolutely? The library controls all knowledge. People aren’t allowed to own physical books. Instead, they have “blanks” which are magically filled with the contents of the reader’s desired book via a magical transference process. Of course, some books are strictly off-limits. Even worse, anything that threatens the library’s power is immediately gotten rid of, along with its inventor. Let’s say things didn’t go well for Gutenberg when he invented the printing press.

The library’s stranglehold on books has of course given rise to a black market for books, which is where our main character, Jess Brightwell, comes in. His family supplies books to those who are willing to pay the price for them. It’s when Jess’ father arranges for him to take a position at the library that the story really gets interesting.

And that’s all I can say without giving too much of the plot away.

Overall, this was a very entertaining book. My biggest complaint is that just when I felt like we were getting to the real meat of the story, the book ends. Luckily, I had the sequel waiting on deck for me. I would have been upset if I hadn’t been able to jump right into it.

I will say one thing though. It seems that the author doesn’t think much of e-books. The “blanks” in the story are seen as completely inferior to “real books”. It feels like this echoes what many people say about e-books. Personally, I like books in any form. Anyway, on to the next book.

Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

I honestly don’t have much to say about this one 61hGjWdO2sL._SY346_just yet as I haven’t gotten very far into it. All I will say is this, not everything you read in the first book is as it seems.

Also, every time I see the title, I get that John Cougar Mellencamp sing stuck in my head.

 

 

It’s Monday! Ink & Bone, Eats Shoots & Leaves part 2

Okay. I wish I could say I’d gotten a ton of reading done this week, but the fact of the matter is, I haven’t. Sometimes being an adult sucks. I love reading. It’s one of my favorite things to do, but sometimes carving out time to do it isn’t the easiest. Especially when you work a full time job, are trying to write several different things, and are trying to take care of your house like a responsible adult. Okay, enough of the excuses. I just need to add yet another thing into my already packed schedule. And no, I can’t cut down on T.V. I barely watch any as it is. Anyway…

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

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The little progress I’ve made in this book has been great. Yet again, I feel myself getting frustrated when I’m just getting into it and life intrudes on my fantasy. Here’s a synopsis of what I know so far. The legendary Library of Alexandria never burned down. It’s now THE power in the world. From what I can tell, books can be borrowed from the library by anyone in the world, but owning them is illegal.

That’s where Jess comes in. Jess’ father is a book dealer and thus, a criminal. Jess spent his childhood smuggling books for his father. Now that he’s grown, the business was supposed to pass to him. Unfortunately, he loves books too much, so he asks his father to leave the business to his twin brother.

His father agrees, on the condition that Jess take a job at the library. Normally this would be Jess’ dream job, if it weren’t for the fact that his father expects him to steal books from the library to supply the family business.

And that’s where I’m at on this one. I can’t wait to find out what happens next. Hopefully I’ll get some serious reading time in the coming week.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

41ra3JnfuJL._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_I’m afraid I haven’t touched this one n the past week. I need to pick this one up whenever I need a quick laugh.

I never thought I’d say that about a book on punctuation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I’m afraid that’s really it for the week. I feel so ashamed. Looking at my schedule, I think I see three different places where I might be able to carve out an hour or so.

If you have any book recommendations, I’d love to hear them.

 

It’s Monday! Ink & Bone, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Writing a Kindle Book a Week

Look at that. I’m posting on time this week. I have to admit, I haven’t gotten as much reading done this week as I would have liked, but I got some done. I guess that counts for something. Anyway, on with the show.

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

615qD7ete4LI have a confession to make. I had intended to start reading this one on Wednesday of last week. Unfortunately, life got in the way as usual. I only started it yesterday and just got through the prologue. However, if the rest of the book is as gripping as what I’ve already read, I see myself devouring this one. Here’s the synopsis. When they refer to the Great Library, they’re referring to the legendary library of Alexandria, which in this world, never burned.

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn…

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

41ra3JnfuJL._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_I’m deliberately taking this one slow. It’s a great book so far. Not only does it provide a humorous approach to basic grammar, it makes me feel like less of an outcast. I’m learning that there are others that care a much about the preservation of the English language as I do.

As I’ve said before, I’m pretty good with spelling and grammar, but punctuation is my downfall. I thought I was alone in not remembering ever being taught about punctuation, but the author, although British, claims that she had the same experience.

I’m still no expert on punctuation, but like the author, I tend to take it as a personal affront when I see a glaring error. Particularly when it comes from someone who is supposedly a professional. My local paper is consistently full of errors. I would love to work for them as an editor, but they won’t hire anyone without a college degree.

I would recommend this book to anyone who needs to brush up on their punctuation even though the author herself admits it’s not an exhaustive resource. It still should provide enough information for most people to get by without the stuffiness of other style guides.

One caveat. The author is British and at times can be somewhat disparaging toward American grammar where it differs from British. Still, these jabs are mostly lighthearted. Just be aware that there are a few instances where she says something is wrong, but that’s only the case in British grammar.

Writing a Book a Week by Alex Foster

41KUd4VdXmLYou might have noticed I’ve been reading a few books like this lately. Rest assured, I don’t plan to start writing at this breakneck pace. I’m just trying to glean as much as I can on upping my output. To be quite honest, I feel like a lot of these books take a lot of the art out of the process. Still, they aren’t without value. There are some great pieces of advice. You just have to weed out the ideas that aren’t for you.

When the author says a book, he isn’t referring to a 100,000 word novel. He’s talking about a 30,000 word book at most. Still, even doing 30,000 quality words seems like a book-factory mentality. I’m sure I could make a lot of money doing things this way, but I wouldn’t be able to shake the feeling that I’m betraying my art.

I mainly chose this book for two reasons. First, it was free, so I had nothing to lose. Second, it was a quick read, which made it perfect to read while donating blood. To be honest, I was disappointed when it came to tips for upping my output. They were either ones I’ve heard a million times such as, “You have to have an outline.” I’m not debating that. I really do need to learn how to outline. It’s just that I’ve heard that one so many times before. Or they were tips I couldn’t really relate to such as writing four similar books under pseudonyms in the same month so as not to have to chance gears between books.

I’m not saying it was a bad book. I’m just saying I got my money’s worth.

I feel like I’m slamming this book, which is not my intent. It’s good for what it is, It’s just not for me. I may sound like a snob, but I feel like my readers deserve more than me just pumping something out for the sake of putting something out. Does that make sense?

 

That’s it for this week. I’ll see you again this What’s Up Wednesday.

I’m still eagerly awaiting your questions and comments.

Also, I now only need three more subscribers on my YouTube channel. I’d appreciate it greatly if you’d go check it out.

As always, don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

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I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

It’s Not Monday! But Still… Eve: The Awakening, Eats, Shoots & Leaves

I know, I know. I’m a terrible human being because I’m late again. Can I play the “But I’m an artist.” card? No? Worth a try.

Actually, this time my tardiness this time is by design. You see, I was closing in on finishing the book and I really wanted to be able to give a full review instead of a partial one. Anyway here goes.

Eve: The Awakening by Jenna Moreci

415Vh64vDoL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_After much frustration at being constantly interrupted while I was trying to finish this book, I finally managed to get to the end. Overall, I loved it. The action scenes were very well written if you can get past a couple of realism issues I’ll get to in a minute. I thought that the main characters were very well written. Even the human antagonists, while being very stereotypical “mean girls” were believable to me as I’ve known plenty of girls (and guys) just like them. I particularly liked Percy. as he was great for breaking the tension with his humor. Maybe it’s because I spent my share of time as an outcast in my youth before I learned to embrace it, I really identified with Eve’s character.

Now for the bad.

First of all, and this is one thing that might bother me more than most. The book does an awful lot of “head hopping”. That is, changing point of view from one character to another without any sort of indication or warning. Sometimes, this POV change was fairly obvious, while other times, it took me several paragraphs to realize we were no longer in Eve’s head. I realize that sometimes this sort of thing is necessary, but it really makes things confusing and should at least have some indication that it’s happened.

As I said, the action scenes were great barring a few realism issues. But first, a spoiler warning. While I don’t feel like the spoilers I’m about to give are that huge, you still might want to look away if you’re sensitive to such things.

So here goes. First, there are the diamond bullets. While an interesting idea, the bullets, as I understand them in the book, are ones they’ve specially made out of unbreakable synthetic diamonds. As I read it, it sounded like the bullets were made of solid diamond. Apologies to the author if I misunderstood. Solid diamond bullets simply would not work in a firearm. The bullet needs a jacket of lead, copper, or some other soft metal to engage the rifling of the barrel which gives it the necessary spin to make it accurate. At best, a solid diamond bullet would tear up you barrel and tumble in every direction other than the one you want it to. At worst, it would jam in the barrel and your gun would explode on the next trigger pull.

Also, the book suffers from the old Hollywood unlimited ammo trope. When in the heat of battle, the characters seem to have a near inexhaustible supply of ammo even though it’s specifically mentioned when the bullets are revealed that there is a very finite supply of them. There is no real mention of them carrying extra ammo, but they always seem to have enough bullets, no matter how many enemies they face. It’s only toward the very end that there’s even a mention of a magazine change. Also, ammo is heavy. Even if the book had mentioned carrying extra, they would have needed a lot of extra ammo. More than they could realistically carry.

Finally, this is the one that had me screaming in my head at the book. In just about every fight scene with the interlopers, either the main character or her boyfriend find themselves somehow pinned to the floor or otherwise incapacitated with their weapon or some other important object just out of reach. Now I understand. This sort of thing raises tension, the problem is, both Eve and her boyfriend Jason are chimeras. This means they have the power of telekinesis. Neither of them thinks anything of using this power to pick up their enemies and slam them against the wall repeatedly, but not once does either of them use this gift to draw their weapon or object to their hand. I would call this the book’s most glaring problem, especially since that particular trope is used repeatedly.

Still, if you can get past those problems, I would highly recommend this book. I found it very entertaining, and I have nothing but respect for Jenna Moreci, the author. I watch her YouTube videos on writing religiously.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

41ra3JnfuJL._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_Not to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty damned good when it comes to spelling and general grammar. That being said, punctuation is my weakness. Obviously I know the basics, but even my comma placement is done more by feel than actual knowledge. I have a vague idea of what a semicolon is for, but beyond that, I’m lost. I have several editions of Strunk & White and other style guides, but quite frankly, they’re typically so dry that my mind wanders and I couldn’t tell you what I just read. Blame it on undiagnosed ADD. I’m hoping the humor in this book can help with that.

One caveat I’ve heard from other writers. The author is British, so there are a few things that may not be appropriate in America. Still, I’m just looking for a basic overview to point me in the right direction.

Anyway, that’s it for today. I should see you tomorrow with an on-time What’s Up Wednesday. I’ll see you then.

As always, don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

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I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

It’s Monday! Eve: The Awakening

Okay guys, this is going to be a really short one. The reason is, Gasp, I’ve only been reading one book this past week. The truth is, it just hasn’t been a good reading week. Things have been crazy. I haven’t been feeling great and all I really want to do is sleep. I missed posting two blogs last week and didn’t shoot a video either. I wish I could say I’ve spent all the time I haven’t been doing those things writing, but that would be a lie. I’ll talk more about the week on Wednesday’s blog. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

Eve: The Awakening by Jenna Moreci

415Vh64vDoL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_First of all, make no mistake. The reason I haven’t done much reading this week has nothing to do with my enjoyment of it. So far I’m loving this book. I get frustrated every time I’m forced to put it down because I want to know what’s next. Unfortunately, as an adult, I can’t always just hide under the covers with a flashlight and read.

Without giving too much away, Eve, the heroine, is a humanovus. A new form of human. Human 2.0 if you will. They are better than normal humans in every way. Needless to say, they are hated and feared by normal humans who have dubbed them Chimeras. To make matters worse, the arrival of the chimeras has brought on another arrival. That of a  demonlike alien species known as the interlopers. The interlopers seem to have no interest in normal humans. They are after the chimeras.

Eve, having accidentally outed herself as a chimera when she was only eight years old, can’t try to blend in with humans like most chimeras do. She has longed to go away to college for the simple chance to be normal for once. Unfortunately, when she gets to her new school, things don’t go to plan. I won’t say any more. I already feel like I’ve given away too much.

As a side note, Jenna, the author, runs a great YouTube channel on writing. Her channel is, in part, what prompted me to start my own. Please check out both of our channels and subscribe.

Anyway, that’s it for now. As I said, I’ll fill you in on more details about why I’ve been MIA for the last week then.

As always, don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr