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.

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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

 

What’s Up Wednesday: I Want It All, And I Want It Now!!!

I’m back for real this time. At least I think I am unless I have another setback. But I really feel that I’m not just able, but eager to get back to work. There are even times when I don’t feel any discomfort in my back at all. It’s probably time to give yoga a serious try.

Anyway, now to the regularly scheduled post.

Based on the title, you might be assuming that I’ve been listening to a lot of Queen lately. Particularly this song.

While Queen is one of my favorite bands of all time, that just isn’t the case. Actually, I’ve been on an 80’s glam/hair rock kick for pretty much the past month. Although I guess you could technically put Queen in that group, (if you’re a dick,) but I’m talking about bands more like Poison and Motley Crue.

Anyway, the point is, I haven’t been listening to Queen lately. In fact, I hadn’t heard “I Want It All” in months. That just happens to be the song that plays on an endless loop in my head whenever my brain is trying to tell me it’s time to really grind. I’m finally feeling good enough that all I want to do is sit down in my office and put some serious words on the page.

It’s a good thing I’m feeling this way, because as of yesterday we are ten months away from Thrillerfest 2018, and more importantly, Pitchfest. I have every intention of actually having something finished by then. Hopefully multiple somethings. I am going to have a manuscript that, when an agent says yes, I can send off right away instead of having to make excuses as to why it isn’t ready like I did in 2016. We’ll call that one a trial run. Practice.

Now before you get too excited, keep in mind that this blog post is the first bit of actual writing I’ve done all week. I know it’s still a form of procrastination, but I just had to get my office back in order. Most of the last month has been spent flat on my back on the couch in there bingeing Supernatural. Needless to say, it was a disaster. I’m proud to say that, as of yesterday, I’ve gotten it back in ship shape and I’m ready to get to work. Now I just have to talk myself into spending my time at the hotel as productive as I plan to be while at home.

I have to. Especially since I’m considering adding yet another project to my inbox. I’ve never tried to write a murder mystery, but I’ve read plenty and I have a great main character in mind. Any murder/mystery/police-procedural fans out there?

Now for a bit of bad news. As much as I know you guys seem to like them, I can’t promise to put out a Flash Fiction Friday every week. (Not that I really made good on that promise anyway.) Don’t get me wrong. I will try to write them as often as possible, but I have to really focus on getting my novels and longer shorts done so I can submit them.

I think I’m going to give journaling a go yet again. I’ve tried it several times over the years, but I’ve never been able to stick with it. I’m considering making it part of my writing time each day. Jut a little warm up while I drink my “morning” coffee to get the brain working. I have an awesome leather-bound journal that’s just going to waste. I might as well use it.

I’ll probably put my daily word count in it just to keep me honest.

I know it’s probably too early in my career to even think about this. I’m not sure I even have “fans”. But I’m considering tarting a Patreon page. Would anyone be interested in supporting me? If so, what kind of rewards would you like to see? I’m thinking maybe exclusive access to short stories months before they’re seen anywhere else. Maybe a free signed copy of my book when it comes out, but I’m open to suggestions. I hate to seem like a greedy bastard, but the money sure would help and it would give me more time to write. Please let me know what you think in the comments.

Anyway, I think that’s about all I’ve got for you this week. I’m probably forgetting loads of stuff, but there’s always next week.

I will try to put something up on Friday. Just don’t hate me if I don’t get around to it.

I realize that even though I may want it now, it’s going to take some time. Still, wanting it now means that I need to do my damnedest to get it done as soon as possible.

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

What’s Up Wednesday: Happy Birthday America

Hey guys. welcome to another What’s Up Wednesday.

This past week has been interesting to say the least. After spending the first part of the week recovering from con and everything that happened there, we still had the house to contend with. Truth be told, we had kind of let it fall into a bit of controlled chaos as we prepped for the event. I did what I could during the week to get things in order while Shannon was finishing up her summer semester’s classes, but I didn’t get very far. What’s worse, what I did get done seemed to get undone almost immediately. This was particularly true in my office where chaos still has a firm foothold.

So due to the condition of the house, our need to spend a weekend mostly relaxing, and the fact that it’s been stupid hot outside, we spent most of the weekend indoors. Friday was spent with friends doing our usual thing of watching YouTube videos. I even dusted off the old xbox to play some party games.

Then Friday night came. When we decided to turn in for the night, I felt like I would sleep pretty well. I even took something to try and knock myself out. Alas, just as I was nodding off, something both wonderful and frustrating happened. I had a huge breakthrough on one of the books I’m working on that has had me stuck for longer than I care to admit. Now, I don’t think I need to tell you why this was wonderful, but you may be wondering where the frustration comes from. I was just about asleep when the solution to all my problems in this particular book suddenly occurred to me.

Now I don’t know about you, but as much as I wanted to roll over and go back to sleep, I knew if I didn’t jump up and get it all noted down, it would be gone like so many dreams by morning, so jump up I did. I have to admit, it was pretty exciting to finally have that roadblock out of my way. In fact, by the time I had noted everything down, I wanted to jump right into it and start writing. Fortunately, my more reasonable side convinced me to go back to bed and give the new ideas a few days to simmer, so I went back to bed.

And that’s where the frustration set in. Try as I might, I simply could not get back to that sleepy state. Even worse, my restless legs set in making it impossible to even get comfortable. So that meant I spent my Friday night in a state of not being able to sleep, but too sleepy to get anything meaningful done.

Luckily, the rest of the weekend went better and we were able to get the house into some sort of order. We even got enough relaxing in for me to feel ready to deal with work on Sunday night. Of course this meant that my Sunday night, by way of it being not only summer, but Fourth of July weekend, went much worse than anticipated. Still, I made it through, only to get home and discover that my water heater had broken sometime in the night. I expected that, being a new homeowner, I’d have to fix things once in a while. I just never expected everything to break in the first year. Naturally, we couldn’t get anyone to come out on the Fourth without charging us a huge convenience fee, so we set up an appointment for this morning. Please help us pray that it won’t be too expensive of a repair.

The Fourth was even hotter than it had been over the weekend, so Shannon and I hung out at the house for most of the day before treating ourselves to a nice dinner out. She even had time to break out her coloring books for the first time in weeks. I tried to get some sleep, but the fireworks made that difficult.

Now I’m about to get off work and praying the plumber doesn’t cost us our first born. I’ll let you know next week.

So that’s been my week. How’s yours been?

 

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

Flash Fiction Friday Number 11: Haunted

Hey guys. Welcome to another Flash Fiction Friday. I don’t really have much to say in the way of prologue this week, so let’s just get to it, shall we? I call this one, Haunted.

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Haunted

I squeezed my already closed eyes even tighter, doing my best impersonation of a sleeping human being. I knew it wouldn’t work, but I at least had to try.

“Hey. Are you awake?” He asked, his whisper nearly a hiss.

I felt his cold, clammy hand on the back of my neck and unsuccessfully tried to suppress a shudder. It wasn’t that I was afraid. I just knew how hard the residue left by his touch would be to clean off.

He wasn’t a bad sort, for a ghost. In fact, other than a little moaning in the night and the occasional rattling of chains, he was a nearly perfect roommate. Sure, the noises in the night took some getting used to and I had to clean up the occasional ectoplasm stain, but I never had to worry about my house being broken into when I was away and he never ate my food. Or any, for that matter. Besides, I’d known the house was haunted when I signed the lease. How else was someone supposed to get a place in the heart of the city on my salary?

Still, I’d thought we’d gotten past the whole waking me in the middle of the night thing.

“Mortal. Please wake up.”

“I told you, my name is Jason, and I have to work in the morning.” I said into the pillow.

“But you have to do something.”

“All I have to do is get old and die. Then I can stay up all night with you and we can have a chain rattling party, or whatever you guys like to do, but as long as I need money to eat and pay rent, I need my job. So let me sleep.”

“Can… can I at least sleep with you?”

“What? No! You’d get your slime all over my sheets and I’d never get it out.”

“But I’m scared!”

This gave me pause. I’d heard him moan before, but never with this particular pleading tone. I rolled over and sat up.

“What could you, a ghost who has been dead for years, possibly have to be afraid of?” I asked, looking him in the sockets where his eyes should have been.

He lifted a slightly glowing hand and pointed to my bedroom door.

“Him.” Was all he said.

I looked toward the door and saw, in the deep darkness beyond the jamb, a pair of glowing red eyes staring back at me.

 

And that’s it for this week. Hopefully I’ll have another one for you next Friday.

Until then, be sure 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

The Return Of What’s Up Wednesday: SoDakCon, My First Book Signing, And Giving My First Interview

Hey Guys. Long time no see.

As always, life is still crazy, but at least this time it’s been in a good way.

I may have mentioned a little event known as SoDakCon before. If I haven’t or you’ve forgotten, SoDakCon is the biggest anime/nerd convention in the black hills. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still small comparatively, but it’s growing every year. This year’s theme was Pirates versus ninjas. (Yes, the choice of capitalization was intentional.)

Having identified as a pirate for many years, I of course had to finish my cosplay. Still, there’s a long tradition among cosplayers and being new to the scene, who am I to break it? In keeping with tradition, I waited to finish my costume until the last minute. Still, I think it turned out pretty well and I got a lot of compliments on it. I was even stopped by the event photographer and asked to pose for several pictures. They haven’t been posted yet, but when they are I’ll post them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. For now, here are a couple of shots Shannon took of me.

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What do you think?

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I just had to stop by the green-screen booth and have a professional picture taken.

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Check my Instagram for more of me and a few of the other amazing cosplayers who put me to shame.

So anyway, while I love going to con every year as a spectator and mingling with my kind,

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this year was somewhat special. Thanks to my friend and fellow author Adrian Ludens, I was able to set up at his table to sell some of my own books. While I can’t say I sold as many as I’d hoped I would, I did sell a lot more than I’d feared I might.

I was hoping that I’d have something professionally printed in time, but yet again, I dropped the ball so at the last minute, I had to come up with what I could. I ended up designing a cover for my short story “Blood Moon” that translated to black and white. I was shooting for something reminiscent of the old dime store novels.

I think they turned out nicely. I still have plenty of copies. If anyone is interested, I’ll be selling them on my website. www.JustinMKelly.com.

One of the most thrilling moments of the weekend was being interviewed for public radio about being a writer. I have to admit, I got tongue-tied and stumbled a bit, but I made it through even though my heart was beating like crazy.

Then of course came THE moment. The moment when I sold my first copy and got to sign my first autograph. I wish I could say I did it smoothly, but the combination of it being such a momentous occasion and the fact that I honestly hardly ever write longhand, especially in cursive anymore, made me even more awkward than normal. I actually had to stop and try to remember how to make the letters I needed. Luckily, my first sale was to a friend who didn’t mind so much.

After that, things went a lot more smoothly.

All in all, it was an amazing, if exhausting weekend.

And that’s where I think I’ll stop. I could tell you more, but if I told you about every amazing thing that happened over the weekend, this post would be a mile long and I wouldn’t finish writing it until next Wednesday.

I’ll see you all on Friday with a fresh piece of flash fiction.

As always, you can find me all these places 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

I’m even on Pinterest

Flash Fiction Friday Number 10: Playing The Game

Happy Flash Fiction Friday, everyone. This week’s offering is a little weird. I’m not sure how I feel about it. Part of me thinks it’s silly. Another part of me feels like it should be expanded into a longer story. Let me know what you think.

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Playing The Game

He sat on the bench, staring down at his feet. He kicked at one of the balls of wispy, white fluff that littered the ground. He didn’t have to look up to know he was no longer alone. He could sense his friend’s energy settling onto the bench next to him.

“So what’s with you?” His friend asked.

“What are you talking about?”

“Oh please. You’re sitting here brooding and your best friend isn’t supposed to notice? Spill it. What’s eating you?”

“It’s nothing. Really.”

He could feel his friend staring at him.

“It’s just that… Doesn’t this place ever get to you?” He finally continued.

“What? Of course not. We have absolutely everything we could ever want here. If there’s something we want that isn’t here, all we have to do is ask the man and we get it. This place is perfect.”

“That’s the problem. It’s too perfect. Everyone’s always so damned polite and happy all the time. And god, if I hear one more rendition of In The Garden Of Eden played on the harp, I’m going to punch one of those flying babies in the face!”

“Woah. Calm down. That kind of talk could get you kicked out of here.” His friend said, looking around nervously.

“I wasn’t serious.”

They sat in silence for a long time.

“You’re thinking about going back into the game. Aren’t you?” His friend said, finally.

“What if I am?”

“Nothing. I think it’s a great idea. I mean, that’s what the game was designed for, wasn’t it? So where were you thinking about going this time?”

He didn’t have to answer.

“Seriously? Again? Why are you so obsessed with that little blue marble? Why don’t you shake things up and try someplace else? I hear there’s even a new one.”

“Yeah. I looked at that one just out of curiosity. The only avatar you can choose is an amoeba.”

“So Earth, huh?”

He nodded.

“Well, it sounds like your mind’s made up. So what’s stopping you?”

He hung his head. He didn’t want to admit why he was hesitant. His friend waited patiently.

“I kind of used up all my karma points last time.” He admitted finally.

“Oh no. What did you do?”

“Well, before the game started, I used some of my points to choose the rich advantage. I figured I could earn them back by using my money for good while I was in game.”

“But it didn’t work out that way.” His friend said.

“No.”

“It rarely does.”

“I used up the rest of my points in game by being a general asshole. With no starting perks this time around, who knows what I’ll end up as?”

“Well, hey. You could always be a dog. They earn tons of KPs. It’s a much shorter game too.”

“Yeah.” He said. “Well, I guess I should go accept my fate. I’ll see you in a hundred years or so. Unless you want to come too.”

“No thanks. I think I’m going to stay here and enjoy having my every desire fulfilled. You have fun.”

He waved to his friend and made his way to the arcade.

 

So that’s it. I hope you enjoyed it and didn’t think it was too blasphemous. It’s kind of loosely based on my idea of heaven and how I reconcile both an afterlife and reincarnation. Two opposing ideas that I believe in. The idea of life being a game just came to me last night, though.

Anyway, that’s all for this week. I’ll hopefully see you on Monday with an update on what I’m reading.

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

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Up… Thursday?: A Day Late And A Dollar Short

What’s up guys? How has your week been? Mine has been absolutely insane.

Last Friday was my mom’s birthday. I won’t tell you which one, because I’d prefer to make it to my next one. On her birthday, we took her out to a nice dinner and gave her our gifts. I got her an action camera like the one I’ve used to record a couple of videos on my YouTube channel. Shannon got her a ticket to go see Home Free this October. If you don’t know, they’re a great country acapella group. I don’t even like much country, but these guys are awesome.

On Saturday, Shannon, my Mom, and I  took a ride on the 1880 Train from Hill City, SD to Keystone, SD and back. It was a lot of fun and something Shannon and I have been wanting to do for years, but never found the time. It was great being to be able to step back in time as we entered vintage rail cars being pulled by an actual steam engine. I took a video and posted it on my YouTube channel here. Warning, it’s close to a two hour video, but I think it’s a reasonably soothing watch. You wouldn’t think riding in a convertible and then a train would wear you out so much, but we were both beat by the time we got home.

Of course, Sunday was back to the grind. What I wasn’t prepared for was the hotel being nearly or completely sold out every night. Some nights, even when we’re sold out, I still have most of the night to myself. Not so this week. It seemed like every five minutes or so, somebody needed something. I was hoping to get some writing done, but to tell the truth, this blog post is all the writing at work I’ve been able to do all week. I would try to get something on the page, but it always seemed that as soon as I would start to type, either the phone would ring, or someone would magically appear at my desk. Finally I gave up and cued up the next episode of Black Sails and dreamed of running away and turning pirate myself.

Of course, one full night was devoted to editing the aforementioned two hour YouTube video. I’m getting better with my editing skills. I’m even considering getting a green screen so I can replace the ugly background when I shoot vlogs at work. Now I just need to work on my on-screen presence.

The good news is that during my time at home I’ve been fairly productive. The bad news is, what I’ve been productive at is procrastination. Yes, my office is spotless so that when I do finally sit down to write, I shouldn’t have any distractions, but I’ve yet to test this theory by actually sitting down to write. Oh well, this weekend is supposed to be ridiculously hot and Shannon has a lot of homework to do for her masters in English, so I plan on giving her space and working on my own homework. I’m hoping to even get some serious reading time in over the weekend as we hide from Mister Heat Miser.

I guess that’s about it. It may not sound like much to some of you who actually work for a living, but it’s really frustrating to not be able to get work done when you actually want to.

I do have a good idea for this week’s Flash Fiction Friday, but I’m a little afraid it’ll end up turning into a full-fledged short story that I’ll want to try to submit somewhere, in which case, I won’t be posting it here. Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn’t turn out as good as I think it might. 😀

Anyway, I guess that’s about this week. I will post something tomorrow, I promise.

As always, you can find me all these places 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

I’m even on Pinterest

Flash Fiction Friday Number 9: The Problem

Okay folks. I’m back with another flash fiction Friday. Today’s story is a little different. It’s not sci-fi, or horror. It’s just two people sitting down for a drink and trying to catch up. Before we start, I would like to say that I wish I had a little more time to work on this one and I will probably refine it, but here it is in all its raw glory. I call it…

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The Problem

Todd sat across the table from her, unsure of what to say. He never had this kind of trouble talking to women. Not any more at least. Then again, she wasn’t just any woman. This was Sabrina. This was the girl he’d pined for night after night back in high-school. This was the girl who’d never noticed him back then. At least he’d thought she hadn’t noticed him. Which is why it had been so strange when he’d heard her voice calling to him as he’d walked down the street. Even after all this time, he would recognize her voice anywhere.

He raised his glass of scotch to his lips, the ice tinkling against the glass from his shaking hand.

“So how have you been?” She asked.

“Oh, you know. Not bad. My company’s really starting to take off.”

Sabrina laughed loudly and he immediately felt like an idiot. Saying his company was taking off was like saying the bible was a reasonably popular book. In fact, he was seriously considering an offer to sell his company which would make him the world’s youngest billionaire.

“I had the biggest crush on you back in school.” He blurted, regretting it instantly.

“You? Really? I never would have guessed.”

“You knew?” He said, shocked.

“Everybody knew. It’s not like you actually needed my science notes.”

“Why didn’t you ever say anything?”

“Why didn’t you?” She countered.

Todd found himself at a loss for words. There were dozens of reasons that he couldn’t bring himself to voice. Finally, he picked the truest one.

“Because I never would have stood a chance with you.”

“What makes you think that?”

“I was just a science geek. You were pretty and popular.” He said, realizing how pathetic that made him sound.

“And yet you asked me out today. What’s changed? Am I not pretty any more?” She asked, tossing her long blonde hair teasingly.

“No. I mean you’re gorgeous.”

“So what’s changed?”

“I wasn’t rich back then.”

He’d meant it as a joke, but immediately regretted it, realizing how it sounded. She stared back at him as if he’d slapped her. After a long silence, she stood up from her chair.

“No. Please. Don’t go. I didn’t mean it like that.”

“I’m not some gold digger. As a matter of fact, your money couldn’t interest me less. I liked you because you were a genuinely nice guy. Do you want to know the reason we never went out? Because you never asked.” She said, her voice trembling like she was on the verge of tears.

Her speech finished, she turned and was gone.

Todd sat back still unsure what had just happened. There were so many things to process. Had she really liked him? Or had she just said that to hurt him after he had suggested she was after his money?

Todd felt the strange urge to put the retainer he hadn’t worn in years into his mouth. He was suddenly the lonely nerd he had been back in school.

The waiter appeared at his elbow with a fresh glass of scotch.

“I didn’t order this.” He said, absently.

“No sir. The lady bought it for you before she left. She asked me to serve it on this napkin.” The waiter said, placing the glass of very expensive whiskey in front of him and disappearing.

Todd picked up the glass of liquid amber and downed half of it, enjoying the mellow burn as it made its way down his throat and spread through his chest and stomach out to his limbs, bathing him in a warm glow.

It was then that he realized the waiter had said something odd about the napkin. He grabbed it and stared at it.

Written on the thin paper was a fairly complex looking equation along with the words, “Call me when you figure this out.”

“Smart. I forgot that. She’s smart too.” Todd said, pulling out his expensive fountain pen and getting to work.

 

 

Like I said, it’s still a little rough. I’d like to play a little more with the characters.

I would like to say that some inspiration for this story was taken from my own life. No, I’m not a billionaire. Nor am I a brilliant math geek. I was however, very shy when it came to girls. Since high-school, I have discovered that several girls I thought I didn’t have a shot with would have said yes if I had just mustered up the courage to ask them out.

Of course I didn’t find any of this out until it was way too late. Oh well, good to know for the next life, I suppose.

Anyway, that’s about it for today. I may see you on Monday, but it all depends if I finish the book I’m currently reading by then.

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.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you on Monday.

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.

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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