Flash Fiction Friday Number 7: Attack Of The Falcon

I’ve had pirates on the brain lately. In part, it’s because the theme of this year’s SoDakCon is Pirates vs. Ninjas. I, being a Pirate to the core, have been getting my costume together. This Flash Fiction Friday is an excerpt from a longer story I’ve been working on. I’m hoping to have it done and for sale by Con time. So without further ado…

pexels-photo-237781.jpeg

Attack Of The Falcon

As the enormous galleon appeared in his scope, the captain could see no one save the lookout high up in the crow’s nest. As the captain watched, the lookout’s own spyglass turned on the captain. Instantly a look of fear and recognition crossed the lookout’s face as he realized that he’d been sailing all night in the same waters as the infamous Captain Steele. The lookout immediately scurried down from the crosstrees to raise the alarms.

“Okay men, the battle is at hand. Hoist sails and strike those English colors. Run up our own.”

As the union jack descended one side of the halyard, a red deaths head flew up the other side. Captain Steele smiled as his crew saw to their weapons without the prompts necessary on most ships.

“Let’s give ‘em what for and teach ‘em what happens when they set sail with our gold.”

A cry of feigned outrage burst from the crew as they thought of the rich cargo held in the belly of the galleon just waiting to be spent on whores and stiff drink.

“Mister Trotter,” bellowed the Captain. Instantly the gunner stepped forward, ready for orders. “I think it’s high time we said hello. What say ye? Be careful mind ye, don’t sink her or there’ll be hell to pay.”

“Aye.” Trotter responded curtly, as if offended by the suggestion that he might miss.

The Captain smiled as Trotter saw to his work. Even with a battle close at hand, Steele couldn’t help but admire the artistry of his gunman as he lovingly loaded his cannon, his biceps rippling as he lifted the heavy steel ball into place. When all was made ready, the crew all but held it’s breath as Trotter lit the cannon’s fuse. The Captain once again raised his spyglass and saw his friend from the crow’s nest talking excitedly with a man that could only be the captain of the magnificent vessel. Steele lowered his spyglass and smiled as the fuse grew short. The quiet of the cool morning was rent asunder with an ear splitting “Boom” The crew watched in awe as the steel shot didn’t just cross the bow and splash harmlessly into the water but actually ripped the head from the figurehead mounted innocently on the bow. The gunner smiled to himself as the crew burst forth with a murderous cry. The blonde woman’s wooden head bobbed in the water, staring up in shock at her former body.

Once again the Captain lifted his spyglass, curious to see what effect his gunner’s marksmanship had on the crew of the other ship. They were close enough now that he could see the fear in the other captain’s eyes. He watched as his peer gave an order to the man standing at the halyard. The Falcon’s crew groaned in disappointment as a white pennant was run up the pole. Captain Steele knew what the other crew was in for at the hands of his men. The only thing they hated more than an enemy was a coward. Especially a coward in possession of their gold.

The Falcon was now within earshot of the other ship. “Do any of you men know what country flies a white flag?” The Captain asked with affected ignorance. He received no more than a couple of shrugged shoulders in response. “Very well then, prepare the grapnels.” A hearty laugh rose up from his crew as the grapnel throwers readied themselves.

As the Falcon drew up alongside of the galleon, Captain Steele gave the order. “Loose grapnels.” Instantly the three pronged hooks sailed through the air and caught hold of the other ship. The largest men of the crew grabbed hold of the ropes and slowly closed the distance between the ships. As the hulls crashed togetrher, the planks were laid down between the two decks and the men of the Falcon flooded the other ship with a murderous war cry. The majority of the other crew, still hoping for mercy, threw down their weapons. The ones that did fight did so only half-heartedly. Quickly losing any hope they might have had of victory as they watched their unarmed shipmates savagely cut down. The crew of the treasure galleon was quickly subdued and lined up on the deck of the massive ship. The wicked Captain paced in front of them.

“It is normally my practice to give defeated men a choice. Either sail with me and my men and reap an equal share, or learn to swim.” He turned to a young boy whose sea clothes were spattered with blood. “You.” The boy instantly grew pale. “You are the one who killed my man Johnson, aren’t you?” The boy bravely admitted that he was. “Very well, I shall need to find an adequate replacement for him. Do you feel up to it? I promise a full share when we divvy up.”

The boy smiled and saluted his new Captain “Aye sir.”

“Belay that, you are no longer a part of his majesty’s navy. Cap’n will do just fine.”

The boy promptly corrected himself “Aye Cap’n.”

Captain Steele turned to his crew “This boy wasn’t alone in his vain attempt to repel our advance, go through each man one by one. Each man that fought shall be given the opportunity to join us. Then, their first order is to throw the rest of these useless cowards in the drink.” That being said, the captain turned on his heel and proceeded to the hold to inspect his new found fortune.

 

And that’s that. I hope you enjoyed it. As I said, this is just a small part of a much longer story. I’m still not sure about the captain’s name. Steele is just kind of a placeholder right now. I’d love to know what you think.

Anyway, I’ll see you on Monday with another update on what I’m reading.

I’m still trying to reach 100 subscriptions on my YouTube channel. I only need three more to reach my goal. Please check it out and see what you think. If you like it, I’d really appreciate your sub.

Your questions and comments are always welcome. If there’s a topic you’d like to see me address in my blog or my vlog, send me a message at any of these sites.

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

Don’t forget, I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Monday’s are a rundown of what I’m reading. Wednesday’s are my general writing blog, and of course, there’s Flash Fiction Friday.

See you next time.

What’s Up Wednesday: The Unknown Soldier

Hey guys. This week has been a particularly weird one. I’ll be honest, I haven’t gotten a lot of writing done this past week. I made a little progress with Daughters of the Flame, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. As for my other projects, I’ve got nothing.

First, there’s the website fiasco. I tried to send a friend my website, only to find out that it had been taken down by my host. When I logged in to the site, it popped up a message saying that my site was in violation, and then listed a bunch of things that it “could be” but gave no specifics. It’s been almost a week and I still haven’t heard from them, nor have I ever received the e-mail they said they would be sending with more details. I couldn’t even access my control panel to try and assess and fix any problems. After hours of wasted time, I finally did what I should have done from the get go. I changed to a much more reputable, albeit pricier, host. I guess you get what you pay for.

So needless to say, I haven’t gotten a ton of writing done. What I have been doing is a lot of thinking.

Last Wednesday night at work, I had a run in with a guy in his late twenties/early thirties. I’ll spare you the details but things got a little heated. I said something I shouldn’t have, although I didn’t think it was a big deal until he went off the deep end and began screaming and slamming his fists on our counter. At this point, I probably should have called the police, but as it turns out, I’m glad I didn’t.

After his freakout, he broke down in tears and went outside to have a cigarette. I went out hoping I could talk him down. As it turns out, he was a combat veteran and our confrontation had triggered his PTSD. Over the next few hours, he told me about some of the horrific things he’d seen and done while deployed. He told me about having to grab a kid by the hair to drag him away from a teddy bear on the side of the road because it had a bomb in it. He told me about the children he couldn’t get to in time. He told me many other things that I won’t post here because I’m not sure all of my readers can stomach it.

He then told me about the hell he’d been through since returning home. He told me how the V.A. has given him no real help. He’s tried to get counseling for his PTSD, but they just give him more drugs. He told me that he hasn’t been able to hold down a job and is essentially homeless with a baby on the way. He told me how he’s now addicted to both the prescription drugs that the V.A. keeps giving him and illegal ones that he’s progressed to. The whole time he was telling me all this, he was drinking heavily from a bottle of vodka stashed in his pocket.

Then we came to the worst part of his story. He told me that on an almost weekly basis, he gets a call telling him yet another one of his comrades who made it home had survived all of that, but hadn’t been able to survive being home. He then told me that the week prior, he also had tried to kill himself by downing a bunch of morphine pills and hanging himself. Luckily a friend caught him and rushed him to the hospital. He had his stomach pumped and the next day, the V.A. sent him on his way with another handful of prescriptions.

Now, I don’t tell you all this to make you feel sorry for him. Nor am I trying to exploit his hardships for my personal gain. I’m telling you this because I fully believe that we, as a country, need to start doing better for our combat veterans. First and foremost, all returning soldiers should be entitled to as much psychological counselling as they need. If they need it for the rest of their lives, then so be it.

Bases should also have a separate barracks for vets who find themselves homeless. If it needs to be fenced off from the rest of the base, then so be it. But no soldier should have to live on the street.

Finally, there have got to be enough jobs within the military for veterans who can’t find work otherwise.

These are just my views on the matter. I admit that I don’t have all the answers, but this attitude from politicians that seems to say, “We got what we needed from you, now on your way.” has got to stop. Yes, doing these things won’t be cheap,  but we need to consider the continuing care of our soldiers part of the cost of war. It’s bad enough that these men, even the ones who do “make it”, just aren’t the same people as the ones who left. We owe it to them for giving up their youth.

And as Forrest Gump said, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

I’ll see you on Friday with another piece of flash fiction.

Until then, 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

 

Flash Fiction Friday Number 6: Buddy

Hey guys. It’s back! Flash Fiction Friday is here again. I’ve been a little stressed out the last couple of weeks, but I’m finally getting back in the flow. I’m posting it a little later in the day than I’d like, because last night, instead of writing this, I was trying desparately to get my website back up. I finally did, you can check it out at justinmkelly.com, but I didn’t get any writing done last night. So without further ado, let’s get into it. This is a little story I call…

pexels-photo-38904.jpeg

Buddy

“Come on, buddy. Don’t die on me.” The cop shouted over the siren and the sound of screeching tires.

“Technically, I can’t die.” His partner said serenely even as his vital fluids leaked onto the floorboards.

The cop paid no attention and pressed the accelerator harder even though it was already to the floor. The pain in his leg intensified. He willed himself not to pass out even as he could feel the bullet being pinched between his straining muscles.

“You called me buddy. I thought you hated me and my kind.” His partner said. Still in his calm, matter-of-fact way. As if he were watching the drama on holovision instead of living it first hand.

“Yeah. Well. A man taking a bullet for you and carrying you to safety changes your outlook on things. And you took what, a dozen for me?” The cop said, sliding the car around another corner.

“Seventeen, actually. But I’m not a man.”

“Bullshit. I don’t care what you’re made of. You’re a man in my book.”

“Thank you. I know you meant that as a compliment.”

The cop stole a sideways glance at his partner, not sure whether he was serious or not. His partner began to laugh at his expression. Despite the burning from the bullet lodged in his abdomen, the cop laughed too.

“Well, at least I taught you how to bust balls.”

The cop careened around the corner, almost colliding with a bread truck.

“So what the hell happened, anyway? I thought you guys were supposed to be, like, indestructible. I mean, ain’t that why they partnered us up?”

“I guess that’s what happens when you build a better mousetrap. Someone just builds a better mouse. Those bullets they were using. They were something new. Much more powerful than conventional ammunition.”

The cop made a right turn.

“Where are you going? The hospital is the other way.”

“I’m going. I just need to drop you off at the depot for repairs first.”

“No. Go to the hospital. You’re losing blood at an alarming rate.”

“Yeah. Well. You ain’t exactly holding your fluids in either buddy.”

“My body is replaceable. Yours is not. Besides, this one is beyond repair. They’ll just salvage what they can and send the rest to the scrapyard. Now I insist, turn around and go to the hospital.”

The cop did as he was instructed and spun the car in a perfect half-circle. His bullet wounds throbbed with the added Gs. Soon they were pulling up to the emergency doors of the hospital.

“Come on!” The cop yelled to his partner as he threw the door open.

“You go ahead. I can’t. Not enough hydraulic pressure.”

“Bullshit. You’re coming.” The cop said, running around to the passenger side and yanking the door open. He grabbed his partner around the shoulders and pulled, but it was no use.

“You can’t lift me. I am too heavy.”

“No kidding, buddy. You need to lay off the donuts.”

“You will have to leave me. Before you go, please do something for me.” His partner said, opening the maintenance port on his right temple. “This body is done for. Please take this.”

He didn’t have to specify what “this” was. He meant his CPU. The chip that made him who he was.

“You know, after all we’ve been through, I just realized I never even got your name.”

“My serial number is…”

“No, no, no. I mean your name. Jesus. Hasn’t anyone ever given you a name you can call yourself?”

“Just… one.” He said slowly, as if his batteries were running low. 

“Oh yeah? What’s that?”

“Buuuudddyyyyyyy…” He said, and then went still.

“Max.” The cop said to nobody. 

He gingerly pulled the chip from Buddy’s head, trying not to look as the blue lights faded from his eyes. He slipped the chip into his pocket as the sky began to darken. He didn’t even feel his head bouncing off the hood of the car as he fell.

.     .     .

When he woke up days later, his captain was sitting by his bed, reading a newspaper.

“Hey cap.” The cop croaked.

“‘Bout time your lazy ass woke up.” The captain said, looking over his newspaper. “Glad you’re back in the world. We’ve got work to do.”

“Work?”

“You weren’t the only cop that got attacked with those new bullets.”

“I wasn’t?”

“No. You were just the only survivor. We’ve got to get you back on your feet so you can help us track these scumbags down. I ordered you a new partner. He should be ready in a couple of days.”

“Bring me my stuff. It should be around here somewhere.”

The captain quickly returned with a small bag.

“Your clothes are in evidence, but this is the stuff you had in your pockets.”

Max dug around until he found what he was looking for. He blew the pocket lint off of it and handed it to the captain.

“What’s this?”

“You know damned well what it is. Put it in the new unit.”

“Your new partner will have a chip of its own.”

“I’m not training another goddamned rookie! Now get me my partner back!” He shouted before fainting against his pillow.

So that’s it for this week. I hope you liked it.
If you did, follow me and be sure to like this post.

I’m still trying to reach 100 subscriptions on my YouTube channel. I only need four more to reach my goal. Please check it out and see what you think. If you like it, I’d really appreciate your sub.

Your questions and comments are always welcome. If there’s a topic you’d like to see me address in my blog or my vlog, send me a message at any of these sites.

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

Don’t forget, I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Monday’s are a rundown of what I’m reading. Wednesday’s are my general writing blog, and of course, there’s Flash Fiction Friday.

See you next time. 

What’s Up Wednesday: Happy Belated Easter

Look. I’m not going to beat around the bush. This week’s Wednesday blog is going to be a short one. Why? To be honest, not a lot happened.

This past week has been odd. I just couldn’t motivate myself to do much of anything. I’m still not feeling wonderful, which is part of it. The worst part is, I can’t even put my finger on what’s wrong with me. I just feel like crap in general. I’ve been coughing and sneezing, but I really think that’s just allergies. I just haven’t had the energy to do anything. The house needs cleaning, I need to get in to the office to write, but I barely have the energy to get out of bed. With that lack of energy, you’d think I’d have at least caught up on my sleep, but not so much. The other day, I wasn’t cold on the outside, but I felt chilled in my core.

As you may have noticed, I didn’t post a FFF last Friday. Apologies. I just was feeling so crappy, I couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t have turned into several thousand words. I think I have a good one lined up for you to make up for it though.

The good news is, Daughter’s of the Flame, the second installment of the Children of Pyrelia series, is coming along nicely, albeit slowly.

I’ve been debating about what to do with the novel I’ve been working on. I really want to finish it, but the market has seemingly moved on from dystopian YA. I know there are still fans of the genre who can’t get enough, so part of me wants to push through and finish it and maybe self-publish it. Another part of me wants to move on to something else. Perhaps something a little more thought planned out to see if that makes writing go faster. What do you guys think?

I did order a new computer just for editing my videos, so hopefully it won’t take me so long to edit them. None of my computers could even run any of the awesome free video editors out there so I was stuck with Windows Movie Maker, which sucks. This one should have the power so I can do my editing more quickly. Now I just need topics to vlog about. If there’s anything you’d like to see me talk about on YouTube or to write about on here, send me a message on any of my social pages listed below.

cute-cuddly-toy-cartoon-costumeFinally, Sunday was Easter. Luckily, holidays in my family typically go pretty smoothly. Nobody comes with an attitude, and everyone stays relatively sober. The only family member who would occasionally cause drama is back in California, so that’s a plus. It was a great day to get together with my mom who I admittedly don’t see often enough. She made us a delicious meal of lamb, ham, mushrooms, potatoes, bread, etc. We then digested in the living room and played with our phones. Once we had room, we were treated to a delicious strawberry shortcake and coconut cake. I think I’m still stuffed.

And that was the week in a nutshell. Hopefully I’ll have more to talk about next Wednesday. If not, maybe I’ll come up with a writing topic to talk about. Again, let me know if there’s something in particular you want me to talk about.

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

What’s Up Wednesday: Where I Was Last Week.

So, some of you may have noticed, I didn’t post a blog last Wednesday or Friday. What’s that? You didn’t notice? That’s okay. I guess. Feel guilty yet?

logo_1802

Anyway. I was at the eighth annual Day of Excellence here in Rapid City. The day of excellence is an event where sponsors bring in four motivational speakers. I can tell you, I was in some serious need of motivation. Unfortunately, it being an all day event, I had to seriously screw up my sleeping schedule. I took the day before off so I wouldn’t be a zombie through the whole thing. Long story short, it just messed up my schedule so I wasn’t able to get much writing done, much less blogging. Still, it was a great event and I look forward to it every year. I like that they do it in the spring. It really helps with that fresh start feeling.

First up was Mack Dryden. Mack is a two time cancer survivor, a blackbelt in karate, and quite possibly the most flexible man of his age I’ve ever seen. He gave a great speech on achieving your goals and kept us all laughing the whole time, even if many of his jokes were straight from the internet. Still, his speech inspired me, as did his flexibility from re-earning his blackbelt at an age where most men have trouble tying their own shoes.

Next up was Matt Guthmiller. I hate to say this, but it seems that every year there’s one dud in the group. Nothing against the kid, He has an amazing story to tell, he just needs to learn how to tell it. At the age of nineteen, he became the youngest person to fly solo around the world. You’d think this would be an exciting story, but it kind of had the feel of a high-schooler giving a “What I did on my summer vacation report.” I don’t know if he’s just getting tired of telling the story or what, but it was mostly just a litany of where he went, how long it took to refuel, and getting back in the cockpit and how boring the flying part actually was. It was pretty much monotone the whole way through and I found myself nodding off. After talking to several other people, I found out I wasn’t the only one. Matt is a very smart kid. He’s currently attending MIT. I just hope he learns to tell his story with excitement and passion. It’s hard for us to be excited about what you’ve done when you’re not. I will say, even as the dud, he was better than last year’s dud who spent his entire hour trying to sell everyone on his paid seminar which cost several hundred dollars.

After the lunch break, Juli Burney took the stage. Juli was hilarious. I found myself grateful that I’d decided to skip lunch in favor of a more substantial meal afterwards. I’m afraid I wouldn’t have been able to handle the amount of laughter on a full stomach. Juli is a very positive person and her message of basically not worrying about the little things and trying to turn a crabby person around with humor was very inspiring. She told several stories where she could have taken offense at something, but instead chose to see the humor in the situation. By the end of her hour I felt truly inspired and more than a little guilty for how I handle things sometimes.

Finally came the headliner, Judson Laipply. What can I say? This is the star of one of the first viral videos. The evolution of dance. We even got a live rendition which was amazing. While that was cool, it was his speech that was truly inspiring. He spoke on evolving yourself. His message is that everything changes. You have to change with it. He also spent a good deal of time on evolving in the right ways. For instance, not letting things that don’t matter ruin your day. I have a big problem with this. As you may know, I currently work the night shift at the desk of a motel. This gives me all the writing time I need if I could just learn to use it more wisely. Unfortunately, it only takes one bad guest to completely throw me off for the night. If one person starts yelling at me, I spend the rest of the night brooding on the situation and get nothing done when the truth of the matter is, I’m probably never going to see this person again. So why do I let it ruin my night? I plan on keeping his advice in mind next time.

As I said, as motivating as the day was, it really threw off my sleep schedule for the whole week. Even worse, as a swap for the day I took off, I had to start this week a day early so I’ve been off by a day all week. In addition, I haven’t been feeling my best health wise. I think I’ve been fighting something for a while now. Or it could just be allergies. Let’s hope for that. Disrupting my sleep schedule didn’t help, but it was still completely worth it.

The good news is, the sequel to Blood Moon is well underway and should be out quite soon. I’m looking at hiring a professional cover designer to redo the cover for Blood Moon and to do one for Daughters of the Flame. Blood moon especially needs a new one since I’ve come up with a name for the overall series.

Anyway, that’s it for today. I’ll see you on Friday with a new piece of flash fiction.

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

 

Flash Fiction Friday Number 5: Jungleworld

It’s your favorite time of the week again. And not just because it’s almost the weekend. It’s also Flash Fiction Friday. Your weekly snippet of fiction from yours truly. I hope you’ve been looking forward to it all week. I know I have.

I like to call this one;

Jungleworld

He felt like the plants were watching him. They way they seemed to turn as he passed them gave him an uneasy feeling. The wind rustling their leaves sounded almost like some strange language he couldn’t possibly understand. Yet at the same time, it seemed they were whispering to him as much as to each other.

Up ahead, the path he was following through the thick jungle was coming to an end. Did he dare attempt to bushwhack through this strange foliage? Just when he thought he was going to have to make his own path whether he wanted to or not, the wind shifted and the path opened before him. To his exhausted brain, it looked almost as if the plants moved aside to let him through.

He had been flying past the planet scanning for signs of life. While there was plenty of plant life, he could find nothing with a heartbeat. He’d just marked the planet as possibly viable for colonization when he noticed an anomaly. While the planet was almost completely covered with vegetation, he’d spotted a barren patch roughly two square miles wide. Normally, this wouldn’t have bothered him, but from his vantage point, it appeared to be littered with dozens, maybe even hundreds of wrecked spacecraft. He’d just begun to make a note of it in his book when something struck his ship.

When he woke up, his ship was just another wreck in the graveyard. He was grateful that the abundance of plant life produced breathable air because the visor on his helmet was shattered. Luckily, other than for a few small scratches on his face from the broken plexiglass, he seemed to be uninjured.

He knew the smart thing to do would be to stay with his ship, but he felt an overwhelming compulsion to explore the jungle. Besides, all the strange wrecked vessels creeped him out. At least he hadn’t seen any remains of their pilots. Maybe rescue wasn’t out of the question.

It seemed he’d been walking for days. All he wanted to do was find a soft spot to stop and take a nap. Still, something told him he had to keep moving. That was the important thing. Just put one foot in front of the other and hope the plants would keep letting him pass. A vine reached out to him and wrapped around his wrist. He barely noticed as he kept moving through the thick foliage. The path before him shifted this way and that, as if the plants themselves were guiding him somewhere.

He found himself in a large clearing with a massive purple flower standing in the very center. The flower’s petals looked like purple velvet blankets surrounding a pillow of gold. He couldn’t see a path exiting the clearing. He turned around to go back the way he’d come, but that path had closed to him as well. The vines whipped back and forth almost menacingly. The air was suddenly thick with the sweet scent of the flower.

He felt a calm wash over him as he breathed in the perfume and felt silly for seeing the vines as menacing just a moment before.

I’m clearly exhausted, he thought to himself. I just need a little nap.

Without another thought, he climbed onto the humongous purple flower. The center of the flower was every bit as soft as it had looked. He laughed as puffs of pollen jetted into the air with his every movement. As he drifted off, he realized he could understand the whispering of the plants after all. It was just that there were so many voices, he could only understand them now that they were all saying the same thing.

“Join us.” The voices chanted in unison.

Soon he was slumbering deeply. He never even felt the petals enfold him as they began to digest his body.

.     .     .

Well. That turned out darker than I’d intended. I don’t know why so much of what I post here has such a dark ending. I honestly don’t plan these things. I just sit down and start writing whatever comes into my head. Maybe I need therapy.

Anyway, that’s it for this week.

If you like this, follow me and be sure to like this post.

I’m still trying to reach 100 subscriptions on my YouTube channel. I only need nine more to reach my goal. Please check it out and see what you think. If you like it, I’d really appreciate your sub.

Your questions and comments are always welcome. If there’s a topic you’d like to see me address in my blog or my vlog, send me a message at any of these sites.

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 on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

Don’t forget, I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Monday’s are a rundown of what I’m reading. Wednesday’s are my general writing blog, and of course, there’s Flash Fiction Friday.

Flash Fiction Friday Number Two: Stranded

It’s Flash Fiction Friday!!!

This week’s offering is a little sci-fi story I like to call,

Stranded

The lone astronaut cowered under the tall trees of the oasis as the alien ship came into view. As usual, he’d heard the hum of its engines long before he could see it. He knew hiding wouldn’t do him any good. Any minute now, the ship would begin bombarding the trees to drive him out.

“Please god. If you exist, just give me the strength to wait it out this time. Better yet, let one of the bombs hit me and end this once and for all.”

He knew the latter part of his prayer was pointless. More than once, he’d run directly into the path of one of the falling bombs, only to have it veer off suddenly and explode in another part of the small forest. In the years since he’d first woken up on this desolate little asteroid, he’d tried every way he could think of to escape one way or another. Every time, some sort of automated countermeasure had stopped him.

He covered his ears as the first of the explosives detonated behind him, but it did no good. The very air around him flexed with the force of the blast. Still he squeezed his eyes shut as the bombs fell all around him. Knowing that he was safe from the blasts did nothing to allay the terror he felt. Finally, his lizard brain kicked in and through no will of his own, he felt his legs pumping for all they were worth toward the safety of the open desert.

The moment he was in the open, he heard the telltale whirring of the protective doors that covered the glass belly of the ship. He could see the various odd silhouettes of the creatures inside for a moment before hundreds of flashes of light blinded him. He lay down in the cool sand, his eyes squeezed shut until he heard the doors close again.

Once again the engines began to hum and he stood up. As the ship began to glide forward, a huge metal cube slid silently from the back of the ship. His supplies. Enough to last him the months until the next tour group came by. It must weigh hundreds, maybe even thousands of pounds, he thought.

Sudden inspiration hit and he ran toward the falling cube. He skidded to a stop, and watched the shrinking lights of the ship’s afterburners as it hurried off to what he assumed was the next exhibit. He looked up, all he could see was the underside of the massive supply crate.

He closed his eyes.

“Please.” He prayed. “Please let this work.”

 

And that’s it for this week. If you want more of my writing, (I promise, it’s not all so dark) you can check me out in these places.

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 on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

My Trip To NYC For Thrillerfest/Pitchfest 2016 part 2

Let’s see. Where was I?

Oh yes, I had just arrived at Thrillerfest and was starstruck by all the famous authors I saw just standing around like normal people. Thanks to the help of Sandra Brannan, author of the Liv Bergen mystery series, and my personal friend, I got checked in, received my swag, and found myself free to mingle amongst the crowd. The crowd filled with bestselling writers.

I was timid at first, but before long, I was in amongst them and feeling like a fraud. Who was I to talk to these celebrities having had nothing published yet?

Surprisingly, they all turned out to be pretty normal people. Or at least, as normal as us artistic types can be. The point is, none of them seemed to think they were any better than me and were even willing to give as much advice as I could take. They all seemed to remember when they were at my level and honestly, didn’t seem to think they were that far ahead of me.

The highlight was when I approached R.L. Stine and timidly called him Mr. Stine and he told me to call him Bob. Here I was, on a first name basis with an author I had read for years. I’m not going to claim I read them as a kid, because the first one came out when I was a senior in high-school, but I read all of them I could get my hands on when they did come out. Luckily my girlfriend at the time had little brothers.

Anyway, not wanting to take up too much of his time, I just asked for a picture.

13620724_1307433525951840_5688670991778887777_n

I chatted with Bob for a few minutes before making room for his other fans and mingled in the crowd. I was sure to talk to as many famous authors as I could, but I also talked to several people like me who were still looking to break in and find an agent. It truly felt like a community. There wasn’t any of that competitive backstabbing you get in other professions.

I do have to confess one thing though. A couple of times, I found myself talking to someone, thinking  they were there to find an agent like I was, but when I looked at their badge, I realized they were very successful authors that I just didn’t recognize. I’m not going to say their names just in case they ever read this blog. To be fair, it’s hard to memorize a face when you’ve only seen it on the back of a book.

Anyway, when the mingling was done, everyone who was pitching a book was ushered downstairs for orientation. We were told we would stand in line to meet each agent and would have a limited time to pitch. I can’t remember what the official time was (I believe it was either one or two minutes) but we would be given that time to pitch, then the agent would either say they weren’t interested or if they were, would tell you what they wanted and how to get it to them, Of course the agents had discretion to either extend your time, or to cut you off if they could tell they weren’t interested. Both happened to me, although I’m happy to say the former happened way more often than the latter.

After orientation, we were paired with successful authors who gave us helpful advice for pitching. I was paired with Lissa Price, author of Starters and Enders. She was very sweet and helpful. I was sorry to say I hadn’t read her books, but both Shannon and her sister had and loved them. I’m currently reading Starters.

My heart sank when, after my practice pitch, in which I had referred to my book as Dystopian YA, she told me that dystopian had become somewhat of a bad word in the publishing business and to avoid using it at all costs. With her help, we came up with an alternative genre. I can’t at the moment remember what that was, but she said other than that one thing, my pitch was good and sounded interesting. I shook her hand and thanked her profusely before making my way back upstairs to pitch.

My first pitch went very well and she asked me for pages. My second, not so much. I got a few words into my pitch and my brain completely locked up. I couldn’t for the life of me string together a coherent sentence. I started to panic. My heart started to race and I couldn’t even think. Finally, I had to get up and walk away. Looking back, I think it was just that this particular agent clearly wasn’t interested from the get go and showed it. His glazed over eyes flustered me and things went downhill from there.

After that, things began to go more smoothly. Even though I don’t think my alternative genre fooled anyone, there was still quite a bit of interest. Once I had pitched to everyone on my list, there was still some time left. I didn’t expect much, but I didn’t see any point in standing there twiddling my thumbs when there were agents willing to talk to me. Surprisingly, this strategy was more successful than I expected and two asked for pages.

All told, six agents wanted to see partials, and two wanted the whole thing. Even better, there were also publishers there and  I got a yes from my dream publisher. Again, I’m not going to name names, because I don’t want to jinx it.

After the pitching was done, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. the hard part was done. Now I could enjoy the rest of the convention, starting with the Thrillerfest opening reception. There, while enjoying some delicious food and cocktails, I was able to talk to more authors of all levels.

I found myself seeking out other pitchfest attendees just to find out how they did. I was afraid my success was just normal and some of the agents were just being polite. As it turned out, this was definitely not the case. Many of my fellow attendees had only gotten a couple of yesses, while some hadn’t gotten any at all. I found myself becoming more and more embarrassed at my success.

Finally, Sandra Brannan found me and asked how I had done. When I told her, she first looked surprised, then gave me a huge hug. Apparently, my success was very unusual indeed.

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 on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

 

 

 

 

Announcing Flash Fiction Friday. This Week: Water’s Edge

So I will post more on my trip to NYC tomorrow, but today, I’m introducing a new weekly feature I like to call Flash Fiction Friday. These will be very short pieces just to give you guys a taste of my writing in hopes you’ll want more. Consider it an appetizer. Just a little something to whet your appetite for something more substantial.

Or for you more cynical types, consider it that free sample the drug dealer gives you to get you hooked so you start jonesing for more.

This week’s story is not for the kiddies. Or maybe it is. I happen to think kids can handle a lot more than adults give them credit for.

Anyway, this week’s offering is a nasty little story I call

Water’s Edge

She knelt down at the edge of the hidden lake, hoping to see her reflection in the crystal water so she might check her hair. Billy would be there soon and she wanted it to be perfect. She gazed deeply into her makeshift mirror and nearly screamed. Looking back at her was not the freckled, yet blemish-free face she had seen a million times in her bedroom mirror. Gone were the perfect button nose and brown eyes flecked with gold.

Instead she saw something green. Something scaly. Something with gills and row after row of razor teeth. It stared back at her with eyes like black holes. Before she could scream, a green hand, the fingers webbed together, shot out of the water and grabbed her by the throat. She could feel warm blood trickling down her neck as the claws at the end of its fingers dug into her perfect skin. There was a sharp crack as the immensely powerful fingers crushed her windpipe, silencing the scream that might have been as she was dragged beneath the water.

Moments later, Billy stepped out of the forest. He looked around, expecting to see her waiting for him, but was greeted with nothing more than the wind blowing through the tall pines and making ripples on the otherwise glassy surface of the lake. “Girls” he thought, as he stripped his clothes off. He stopped at his underwear for a moment, wondering if he should leave them on, but then decided it would just be the two of them. Besides, that would mean walking home with wet skivvies. He quickly shed them and ran as fast as he could toward the water. As the dirt of the forest floor turned to sand at the water’s edge, he leapt high into the air executing a perfect dive in hopes she might be watching from the trees. He barely made a splash as he broke the surface.

.   .   .

So there you have it. I don’t write a lot of horror, but this idea came to me as I was trying to fall asleep the other day. I grabbed my phone and typed most of it right there before the story could get away from me.

If you’d like more, check out my links below. There are more short stories on the way as well as a couple of novels. Check back here regularly for updates.

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 on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

Can Genre Fiction Also Be Literary?

When it comes to my writing, I’ve always had a bit of a dilemma.

Like a lot of writers, I have a fantasy in my head of being the modern era’s Hemingway or Faulkner. Perhaps sitting in a small cafe in Paris, dutifully punching out literary masterpieces that will be cherished throughout the ages. After all, isn’t that at least part of why people write? So that while we may pass from this earth, at least our thoughts and feelings might become immortal.

Still, while I do love reading the classics, I have to admit that my favorite books have always been in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror genres. Particularly fantasy. It probably won’t surprise most of you to find out that I’m a big nerd. I love nothing more than reading fantastic tales of swords and sorcery. Maybe I’ve always dreamed of being the valiant hero who saves the damsel in distress, (please forgive my chauvinism,) or maybe I just long for a time when courage and chivalry counted for something. Whatever the reason, I’ve always loved medieval history both factual and fictional. I still hold out hope that some day, an archaeologist will discover evidence of dragons. I’m such a fan of the genre, I’ve even taken up amateur blacksmithing as a hobby.

Because of this, I’m afraid I’ve developed a bit of a split personality when it comes to my writing. I switch from being the serious author who wants to immortalize his thoughts and feelings in print, to the writer who just wants to play and step into the shoes of his characters to live out the lives of people he will never be.

I’ve been doing some serious thinking about this recently and have come to a conclusion. Who says genre fiction can’t also be literary? Why can’t one piece of work be both entertaining and meaningful? Of course there are examples of books that, were they written today, would be pigeonholed into a specific genre but have still managed to become literary classics. Books such as The Three Musketeers, Treasure Island, and Robin Hood. The question is, Can it be done today?

I guess there’s only one way to find out.

So I suppose the point of this rather rambling post is this. I’m going to be true to myself and write what I enjoy. Hopefully my more literary personality will be able to reconcile with my other side and I can find some peace. Or at the very least, I’ll be able to finish a project without questioning whether it’s really what I want to be writing.

Of course, the fantasy bar has been set fairly high by certain contemporary writers, (I’m looking at you George Martin,) but I think I’m up to the task.

One other perk of being a successful fantasy writer, if I get popular enough, I might be invited to Comic Con.

What do you think? Can a work of fantasy, sci-fi, or horror also be literary?

Leave your answer here, or on Twitter @JustinMKelly1, or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jmkelly60. Also, please visit my website at http://justinmkelly.com/ (I have plans for a major overhaul but I’m concentrating on the writing itself right now.)

Image