Category Archives: Reading

Invisible Anna

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After the blinding light cleared, Anna tried to refocus.  Her head felt fuzzy, but despite being disoriented, she was able to regain her vision.  Directly in front of Anna was an ornate mirror hanging on the wall, with a wooden table and an arrangement of pink roses below it.

“This can’t be right,” she said, squinting to get a better look.

The reflection in the mirror was definitely Anna, only she looked as though she was in her thirties again.  She stepped closer to the mirror and touched her warm, soft cheek.  Stretching her hands out in front of her, she noted the smooth, slender fingers and glowing skin where age spots had been moments earlier.

Pulling at the neckline of her favorite t-shirt, she took a peek inside.  “Well hello girls, you’re looking perky,” she said, pleased that her body was back in place and not hurting anymore.

Anna’s daughter came into the foyer just then, her dark brows were pinched, lips set in a thin line, and her eyes had dark circles underneath.

“Allison, what’s happening?  How did I get here?” Anna asked.

Allison ignored her mother and disappeared through the double doors.  Anna followed behind pushing the door open, and the hinges protested with a creaky moan.  Anna’s three children and their families stood at the front of the room, turning to see what the sound was.

“There must be a draft,” Allison said.

“No, it’s just me,” Anna replied, but her family had already shifted their attention away from her.

Anna moved forward to get a better look at what everyone was gawking at.  Some of her family was crying, and everyone stood defeated, as though the weight of the world rested on each of their shoulders.  They were gathered around a casket.

“What am I missing?  Who died?” Anna asked, moving in for a closer look.

She clamped her hand to her mouth, stumbling back a few steps, swallowing the bile that was rising in her throat.  Tears filled her eyes as panic settled into every crack of her being.  It couldn’t be.

“Goodbye Mom,” Allison whispered into the coffin.

“I’m right here!”  Anna’s voice cracked, she shook her head trying to clear out the confusion.  “What the hell is going on?”

Anna backed up to put some distance between herself and the coffin.  She bumped into someone and, out of habit, turned to apologize.

“Man, I’ve missed you,” Jack’s familiar voice soothed her.

“Jack?”

Tears fell from Anna’s eyes as her late husband wrapped her up in a tight embrace.

“I knew I’d see you again, I knew it!”   She pulled back, stroked his middle-aged face, and squeezed his arms to be sure he was real.

“Is this a dream?” Anna asked him.

“I think you know it isn’t.”

“But I don’t feel dead.  I’m so confused.”

The funeral director began setting up a large picture on a stand next to the coffin.  Anna crept over to have a peek at her old, wrinkly body.  It was covered only by a clean, white sheet pulled up to her neck to conceal her nakedness.

“Just like I requested,” she noted.

The director gently closed the coffin as Anna examined the oversized picture of herself.  She looked at Jack with a sparkle in her eye, and the two of them burst into laughter.

“This is the one?  This is the best picture they could find of me?”

“At least they blurred out your middle finger,” Jack smiled.

“My gosh, I remember this!  I was drinking tequila.  Would you look at the hot pink lipstick on that shriveled up smile of mine?”

Jack winked at Anna.

“You’re eighty-five years old, get it together,” she yelled at the picture, smiling.

Her family slugged around the room, as guests began pouring in to say their goodbyes.

“This is depressing,” Anna said.

“Well what did you expect?  The world is a darker place without you in it, my love.”

Jack reached for Anna’s hand and held tight.

“Oh look!  There are Jenny and Mel.  I’m going to miss those girls.  Maybe I’ll haunt them sometime.”

More familiar faces piled in and a smile spread over Anna’s face.  “It’s good to know they cared,” she told Jack.

Anna’s youngest great-grandchild was Jill, a blonde hair, blue-eyed sweetie pie who just celebrated her first birthday.  She came toddling toward Anna on unsteady feet.

“Nana!” Jill babbled, pointing as drool hung from her lips.

“Nana’s in heaven with the angels now,” her mother soothed.  She swooped Jill up into her arms.

Jill’s chubby-cheeked smile flashed over her mother’s shoulder, as the toddler reached out to Anna.

Anna placed her thumbs against her temples and wiggled her fingers while blowing raspberries to Jill.  The sweet girl squealed and clapped.

Anna placed her hands over her heart.  “She can see me?”

“Sometimes they can,” Jack said.  “Especially when they’re little.”

Anna arched her brow as a new guest entered the room.

“And what is Ethel doing here?  She doesn’t even like me.”

Jack shrugged his shoulders.

“Look at her pretending to care.  Oh, I’m haunting this one for sure.  Books will be flying off shelves, and dishware will be levitating.  You can count on it,” Anna promised playfully.

Ethel made her way up to the casket, collapsing into tears and causing a scene.  Anna followed close.

“What a drama queen.  Would you look at this, Jack?  I don’t even think those tears are real!”

“Anna,” he said.

“What a fake…”

“Anna!” Jack interrupted.  He nodded in Allison’s direction.

She was huddled with her two brothers and clearly struggling with this event.  Anna floated over to her children, who were already wrinkled with age themselves.  She put her arms around them as best she could.

“Oh God, it’s like she’s still here, I can feel her,” Allison sobbed.

“Mom probably is still here,” Alan soothed.  “She’d never let anything keep her away from us.  Not even the Grim Reaper himself.”

“I can feel her too,” her oldest brother agreed. “Of course, it could just be gas.”

“Andrew!” Allison snorted at her brother’s weird humor.

Anna floated back to Jack’s side.  “I feel so helpless.  Is there anything I can do to comfort them?”

“Not that I know of.  This is their time to hurt and to heal.  It’s what life is all about.  They’ll be fine.”

Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” played softly over the speakers.

“They remembered!”  Anna clapped her hands together as a smile spread across her face.

“Don’t worry…about a thing…cause every little thing’s, gonna be alright…” Anna swayed to the music, memories flooding her soul.

Her family also smiled now, sharing their own memories of Anna.  Some memories were such a gift, and the most important ones never seemed to fade.

“I’m really going to miss the kids,” Anna sighed.

“We’ll stay close by.  They’ll be here with us all too soon.”

 ~*~

Anna and Jack stood side by side on the familiar grounds of their property.  In human terms, a week had passed, but time was different in this new reality.  For Anna, it had only felt like minutes.

Her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were gathered at the back of the property, just outside the tree line.  Allison and her husband had moved in to help take care of Anna during the final stages of her life, so Anna left the house to them.

It was a beautiful fall day.  The sun was shining, and the leaves were vibrant shades of orange, yellow, and red.  The smell of burning firewood blew in on the crisp breeze.  A small hole was freshly dug a short distance from the ten-year-old oak tree with Jack’s memorial plaque tacked to it.  Allison placed the bio urn, containing Anna’s ashes and an oak seed, into the hole.

“Rest in peace, Momma.  Hug Dad for us.”

Anna wrapped her arms around Jack.  “This is from the kids.”

He smiled and hugged her tight.

Allison furrowed her brows.  “Do you think that, somewhere out there, Mom and Dad still exist?”

“I don’t know.”  Alan put his arm around his sister.

The grandkids buried the urn, excited for the day they would have a picnic under their Nana’s living memorial.

That evening while Allison was in the shower, tears slid down her cheeks and she sobbed.  Thoughts of her own mortality, her mother, and the fresh empty void in her life consumed her.

“She’ll be okay, Anna.”

“There has to be some way I can comfort her.”

“Let her live, I promise she can handle this.  We’ll check on her in a little while, but right now, I have so much to show you.”

Anna started to follow Jack.  But then her eyes lit up and a smile played at the corners of her mouth.

“Wait, I’ve got an idea!”  She disappeared into the bathroom.

Seconds later she emerged, her features much more relaxed than before, and she took Jack’s hand.

Somewhere in the Universe, in a place so beautiful human language can’t describe it, Jack and Anna laughed and twirled in each other’s arms to a heavenly melody no human ear could comprehend.  Peace and love permeated every part of her soul.  She was home.

~*~

Allison stepped out of the shower and reached for her robe.  Her eyes widened, goosebumps tickled her skin, and her breath caught in her throat.  Then peace filled her heart, and she smiled.  She hadn’t heard anyone enter the bathroom, but in the fog on the mirror, in her mother’s familiar handwriting, were the words: WE STILL EXIST.

 

 

 

 

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What is The Facination With Vampires

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My latest novel, Vital Spark, is a vampire romance set in New Orleans.  I’ve been a fan of mythical vampires since long before Twilight oversaturated the market.  In all the novels I’ve read, I never really questioned what it was that made the vampires so appealing.

Obviously they are written as gorgeous, so there’s that.  Then there’s the idea of superhuman strength and speed, which creates a situation that would make anyone feel safe and protected, and that’s a nice feeling.  Some people are a sucker for a tortured soul, which could also explain some of the facination.  A lot of us can relate to having that “darker side” of ourselves.  We bury it and struggle to keep it contained, but we all have our inner demons.

Then I got to thinking, what is it that most people fear?  Death.  And also aging, because that seems to lead to death.  But with just a little bite, a vampire can give you the gift of immortality and eternal youth.  The older I get, the more I realize there isn’t much I wouldn’t do for eternal youth.  Maybe not botox though, I’ve seen some pictures. But I have to do something because it’s not going to be pretty you guys…

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A vampire can ease your biggest fears.  Can you imagine what you would do if you knew you couldn’t die?  I’d eat two pounds of bacon for breakfast every morning.  And a stick of butter covered in sugar.

I always say it would suck to live forever.  At some point, I’ll want to move on to the next realm so I can start haunting people or whatever.  But I can bet that on my deathbed, I’ll be screaming for Dracula.

What do you think?  Would immortality be a blessing or a curse?

Vital Spark: A FREE Peek Just For You!

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Happy book release day!!!  Vital Spark is now available for purchase on Amazon!

In honor of book release day, I’m sharing the first two chapters of the novel for free.  So, check out your free sample of Vital Spark and if you like what you read, you can buy my latest novel, Vital Spark right here!  It’s available in both the Kindle and paperback editions.

Thank you for your consideration!  Happy reading!

 

Blurbing it Up

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Elaura Maitland is searching for her missing sister in the deepest, darkest shadows of New Orleans when she unwittingly gets pulled into an underground war between the vampires of the French Quarter.

Max has been the most powerful vampire in New Orleans for decades, ensuring a peaceful coexistence with humans.  Now people are disappearing, which can only mean one thing: a vampire uprising.  If Max can help Elaura find out what happened to her sister, maybe he can discover who’s trying to wage a war against him.

As if he didn’t have enough on his plate, Max’s longtime enemy, a vampire hunter named Trevor, is back in town.  The mysterious hunter and the beautiful Elaura have developed a close relationship, which complicates things even further, as Max tries to fight his own growing affection for her.

Lost in a world she never could have dreamed existed, Elaura must find out what happened to her sister, before the entire city goes down in the flames of a war waged to destroy humanity.

 

Vital Spark.  Coming to you October 1st!

Thoughts?  Questions?  Comments?  Let me know!

Title Rejects

You know you're a writer when... you've spent more time brainstorming the title for your novel than writing.

To title a novel is a process.  Every successful author has one and I’m pretty sure my process -while fun- is flawed.  I don’t know.

It usually starts with a glass of wine, after I’ve had a shot or two.  I complain a little bit about my upcoming task to anyone who will listen…so, my dogs and the one cat who’s too lazy to run away.  Then I sit down at the computer and start typing any title that comes to mind that’s even loosely tied to the novel I’m working on.  Any words or phrases that pop in there.  This strategy works well because there are no rules, nothing is off the table in this moment.

I usually keep going until I find myself typing things like “You’ll Never Pick a Good Title” or “Just Give Up.” At that point, I’m just being negative and clearly a refill of wine is necessary.  But what I’m left with are some great ideas for a title that I get to choose from.

I mean, I haven’t actually chosen any titles that present themselves during these brainstorming sessions, but I figure, if I just keep with it, one day it’ll work.  Maybe.

Here are a few rejected titles from my upcoming novel.  It’s a vampire romance set in New Orleans.

Suck It ……………………………………….I like the blunt approach, but it seems a bit rude.

Bite Me (A Vampire Romance) …At least it’s to the point.

Eat. Drink. Prey. ……………………….Get it?  “Prey?”

Bae in the Bayou ………………………This is just dumb.

I Thought He Drank Wine ……….She made an honest mistake.

My Boyfriend Can Fly ………………Not really the point of the story.  At all.

Love Can Be Draining ………………Too pessimistic.

This Book Has No Title …………….Too honest.

Just Read This ……………………………Too bossy.

There should be a profession where people get paid to read a book and come up with a title for it.  I would pay good money for that service if I ever had any good money.

Things I Would Rather Do Than Title a Novel

My favorite part of writing a novel is creating the first draft.  With reckless abandon, I can type out anything I want, no matter how stupid it might be, because I know the first draft will never be seen by anyone but me.  I can unleash the creative monster in me and then reign in the insanity little by little with each rewrite.

I’m not a fan of editing.  Like, at all.  While I’m very particular about “your” and “you’re,” “there” and “their,” or “to and too,” everything else pretty much goes to hell in a handbasket.  I’m fairly decent at making crap up, but grammar and punctuation are not my strengths, and as an indie author, I don’t have thousands of dollars to pay a real actual editor.  (Which reminds me, how much are kidneys going for on the black market?  Asking for a friend…)

But figuring out a title for my novel is, by far, my least favorite part of being a writer.  Now, I’ve done some difficult things in my life.  I’ve squeezed some rather large-headed babies out of my teeny tiny girl-parts.  I’ve been through a divorce and I was a single mom for a bit.  I had to leave my newborn in intensive care for just over a month.  I’m a Marine Mom, I’ve had teeth pulled, and I survived Catholic school. I’ve even watched about thirty minutes of The Royal Tenenbaums, and believe me, that was extraordinarily difficult.  But every time I need to come up with a title that sums up a novel I’ve written, it’s just too hard.

So here is a list of five things I would rather do than title my novels.

  1. Vaginally deliver a giant, breech porcupine.
  2. Solve an algebra problem.  Sober.
  3. Lick a U.S. dollar bill.
  4. Get an enema.
  5. Get kicked in the face by a donkey wearing baseball cleats.

What do you hate most about your job?

The Search History of a Writer

I’ve always searched any topic without a second thought while writing my novels. Because who wouldn’t search “how long would it take to bleed out if your wrists were slit and you’re hanging upside down?” (A little odd for a romance author, sure, but I needed to know.)

It wasn’t until I searched “what kind of explosives would most effectively blow up a church” that I realized I might be red flagged by almost every U.S. federal agency. For the record, the church in my novel was abandoned, save for a vampire meeting that was taking place.

So I took a moment to review my search history. Here are a few things that might look bad if someone didn’t know I write fiction.

– Best blade to effectively decapitate a head

– Amount of explosives needed to blow up a brick building

– Where can you buy detonation cord (Quick shout out to the ATF- in case you’re watching!)

– Are feral pigs dangerous

– Can you ride an alligator (This one was just for my own curiosity.)

– How much blood can a person lose before they die

– Does a severed human arm float in water

– Can a vampire have babies with a human

It’s amazing, the things you learn while writing a story. I know a lot about airboats and how to drive them. I’m not sure what to do with that. I know what to do in the event of an alligator attack. I’m not sure why an alligator would be hanging around the Midwest, but you never know.

When I die, I’ll need someone to clear my search history for me. On second thought, leave it there. It’ll be more fun that way.

What’s the oddest thing in your search history that you’re willing to admit? Share in the comments!