I'm pleased to welcome Alberta Ross to my blog today to talk about her series, the Sefuty Chronicles. I'm fascinated by the theme of her books. This series is definitely on my TBR (to be read) list!
Please tell me a little about the setting of your books. Climate? Overcrowding? Food shortages?
Alberta Ross (AR): The world of my books is Earth after extreme climate change has changed life as we know it today. 2160 is the culmination of many frequent wars over natural resources such as water, fertile land and fossil fuels. The result of the climate changes is that whole populations try and find homes further north. The peoples of the north try to keep them out. The last Great War more than decimated the world’s population. The survivors split, most flee to ready-made cities and the others either live rough or allow the army to surround their towns with land mines to keep them safe until hostilities die down.
This is one of the two points where the story starts; the world is now the complete opposite of overcrowding, human populations are in free fall. The climate is still adversely affecting the world and outside the cities food is a major preoccupation because without any recourse to modern farming methods or aids the people are at the mercy of the weather, insects and disease. The spectre of famine haunts and a bad season can mean the difference between surviving the winter or not.
In the cities food has, over the decades, become tailor-made pastilles, designed to deliver the correct dose of all the nutrients required.
What kind of research did you do before writing this story? Did you already know about predictions of global environmental change?
AR: I had been following the climate change debate since the 1980s in the science journals and in books such as The Greenhouse Effect by Stewart Boyle & John Ardeill, so I held my own opinion on this issue. However then I had to do some serious thinking about what all the knock on effects would be if, for instance, fossil fuel was taken out of the equation, or if land became infertile due to the rising sea levels.
I researched many different farming methods to find out how my population could have survived; I also had to look at traditional handicrafts and food preservation. Remember foodstuffs such as sugar might suddenly vanish if you did not know how to process beet, vinegar can be made but some individual in each community would need to have the knowhow, so although many of us have the skills to preserve food we might not have ready ingredients to do so.
There were many other instances, far too many to list here, they will crop up I’m sure in other posts but suffice to say I had a wonderful time researching them all. I love wandering down all those trails.
I read that your novel delves into genetic manipulation. My YA novel touches on the topic as well, so you can see I’m also very interested. Are there any recent events that triggered your interest in genetic manipulation?
AR: I have been interested in genetic manipulation ever since I first heard the term. (I am quite old they didn’t have it when I was at school, although of course farmers and animal breeders have been manipulating gene stock since forever!) I followed the ramifications of the Genome Project and listened to all the ethical debates. Mankind has learnt how to carry the manipulations of the genetic code of crops and animal life forms to an amazing level; ethics keep the debates going and brakes on progress in this field but the fact remains the knowledge of how to manipulate genes is now in our society. A matter of time maybe before those that can, do.
GM crops have divided the world already but they continue to advance around the world. Fears over genetically enhanced babies are voiced but those with money are queuing up to be among the first to benefit when laws are relaxed. A small scale therapy used on patients with extreme immune deficiency was largely successful however it had to be stopped as two out of ten developed leukaemia. This kind of gene therapy is, of course, only changing an individual’s DNA so the ethical considerations are less urgent. However, gene therapy to enable sterile women, with genetic defects in their mitochondria, to have children has resulted in a programme where the offspring effectively have two mothers’ genes in their DNA with the potential to be passed on down through the generations. The human DNA as we know it has begun to change.
How difficult was the world building for a novel that takes place in the future?
AR: It was an interesting exercise trying to project myself forward. I considered the kind of changes I had seen in my lifetime and I was born immediately after WW2. The changes have been immense not just political and material things but social norms and language as well has been evolving in those decades. Then it was a matter of trying to imagine great changes forward, based on the past and the now.
How much would social life change when extreme survival for everyone is everyday? Do we hang on to the niceties or is civilisation only skin deep? Do we have to rethink who lives or dies? Will it be a society of individuals or would we need to go back to very tight small communities and blow the brotherhood of man?
AR: There has to a logic behind any world building to be believable. I think I was lucky in that the history, lore and language of my world are set. Some world builders have to begin at the very basics of their world and build up inventing geography as well as history.
As a reader what will be the biggest surprise in what you have created in this futuristic world?
AR: My editor feels it is the extent of the genetic manipulation, I imagine. I tell her I have invented nothing; the knowledge and expertise to eventually do everything I have written about is here with us already. Other readers have commented on the total crash of resources.
We do not, I think, realise just how much of our life now is dependent of fossil fuel. Forget transport and think about everything to do with food, manufacturing, communications and medicine. If your readers have the inclination they could try listing what we would have to live without if, as some predict, we run out of fuel!
I’d like to hear about the main characters in your novel and if you indentify with anyone in particular?
AR: I have four main characters over the series; in the first book Ellen’s Tale the two main characters are Ellen Welfitt and Bix Sefune. She is very beautiful, innocent and a model citizen, from the City and he is very charming and experienced, a feral soldier – genetically altered as a child. They meet, fall in love and then have to work out a way to be together. Standard romance! A secondary character is Bix’s friend Jack.
In the second book, The Storyteller’s Tale,Jack meets Keria Baha in one of land-mined villages and this is the story of how she, the mad, bad girl condemned to die, comes to join the small group. She is an uncomfortable companion but Jack manages to help her. Of course they fall in love.
The third, out this month, Jack’s Tale,speaks for itself.
Ellen is too good for me; she is very forgiving, understanding and kind. Never angry and always willing to take the blame. I confess I get along better with Keria with her bad-tempered sulks and storms!
What's in the future for the Sefuty Chronicles and for your other projects?
AR: At the moment there are two more books planned for the series; after that, who knows? I have entered the NaNoWrMo challenge this year and am going to attempt a modern day novel, and I also want to work on a second collection of short stories.
I spent the first part of my adult life travelling the world, the middle years studying and now have settled down to write. From the first part I have endless photographs, memories and friends. From the second I have a BSc Hons, an MA and friends. Now in this part everything comes together.
Over the years my interests have expanded, as has my book and music collection. A short list would include reading (almost anything) science, opera, folk, gardening, philosophy, crazy patchwork, freeform crochet, ethics, social history, cooking (and eating of course) gardening, anthropology, climate change and sustainability.
My parents gave me, apart from a love of reading and music, an interest and curiosity in everything which in itself has become a total inability to be bored and for this I am always grateful.
I'm still participating in the Third Annual Platform-Building Campaign. Rachel Harrie has released the second challenge. If you choose to vote for me, I'm #73 at THIS LINK.
The Challenge is:
Write a blog post in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should:
A FLUID IMAGO (200 words)
The tide grasps my tail with greedy fingers, but I swim until I can see the shoreline cutting across in a harsh, black line. The iridescent surface shimmers in a deceptive myriad of rainbow colors. Struggling to escape the miasma that surrounds me, I dive to the ocean floor. My eyes and skin burn from the chemical coating. I pray to Nature to punish those whose lacuna amnesia has allowed this desecration. As I lie to sleep on a limestone rock ledge, I listen to the storm charging toward me.
I roll over on the sandy surface beneath me. Coolness laps against my body in undulating pulses as I open one eye. The human stands a few feet from my outstretched palm. Fear stammers my heart and freezes my mind. My mouth mirrors the human's as we scream in synchronicity.
I close my mouth and open the other eye for a better look. The human is a giant until he bends to crouch. His eyes focus on my lower body.
“I’m not believing this,” he says while extending a hand in my direction.
I jerk and the skin on my tail rips down my body as I oscitate in fear.
This post is a continuing series for those of us trying to find best practices for Twitter. I don't claim to be an expert. I don't even play one on TV or the internet. If you want to visit an expert, follow @KristenLambTX . I take all the advice I can get, and she's very knowledgeable about social media. As for me, I have three previous Twitter Jar Tip posts here if you missed reading those. Here we proceed to Tip #4!
I do believe it is the quality and not the quantity of your Twitter numbers. A person can have 10,000 Twitter followers, but it's useless if you don't cultivate any relationships. If you have been on Twitter long enough to follow very many, you may feel overwhelmed by the constant stream of chatter. Solution? You should make Twitter lists.
The Twitter list allows you to filter according to certain categories. Think of it as similar to making folders for your email inbox. You give the list a name and then you add Twitter people into the list. I have several Twitter lists. There's a category for writers, publishers and agents, friends, and I even have one called "fun". Okay now...don't check my "fun" list for your name. My "fun" list actually contains some celebrities and rock stars who may never know I exist, but I follow them because they make me laugh.
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When you have a Twitter list, you can easily click on it to see ONLY the tweets from the people on the list. Now, instead of trying to hold conversations with a room of a thousand people, you've narrowed it down. I might have anywhere from 10 -- 100 people on my lists. Circulate...visit...and interact by replying to the tweets and holding conversations.
The list in the image to the left contains BOOK SAVVY PEOPLE. Click on it to see a larger image. You can see the number of people I am following on the list. Sometimes, people like my list and follow it. See the smaller green box to the right.
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This isn't a ploy to cut out the interactions with all the people you follow. It's merely a way to make a large follow list manageable. Sometimes I place a person on a list the minute I begin following them. Other times, I get to know a person on Twitter and then add them to a list.
Let's go straight to the directions on how-to. These directions are for the desktop version of Twitter.
First, log in to your Twitter account. Go to the List Menu heading and click. You will see a link to "Create a list." Click on it to begin.
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A dialogue box will open with a place for the list title, a description, and if you want the list to be public or private. If private, you'll be the only one with access to names on the list.
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Once you SAVE the list you've created, Twitter immediately takes you to a screen where you can add some Twitter users to it.
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Or you may want to browse through your Twitter friends and click on their picture/profile. Here you will see the drop-down list of options that allows you to "Add to list" and you will see all your lists with checkboxes available. You can add a person to more than one list.
I've added @IsisRushdan to my FRIENDS and WRITING-SAVVY-PEOPLE lists. Isis is popular; she's a member of 80 lists.
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Here's a list of my peeps from the #writingcampaign I'm engaged in with the Platform-Building Campaigners. Anytime I want to see what these writers are tweeting, I click on my list to see only their tweets as opposed to the 700+ I follow in my Timeline view that opens when I log in.
Angela Scott, aka as @whimsywriting, is on my list and you can see that she's also been added to quite a few lists. Quality tweeting will do that for you. I hope this post has helped you to see the value in creating a list for use in the Twitterverse. It's a big place out there, but a list can organize your tweeting experience.
You may have guessed by now that I love hosting my fellow authors on the blog. It's very interesting for me to learn about that person's path to publication. Additionally, I get to introduce you to new books! To add a little fun to the interview, you'll have a chance to win a prize at the end. I'll tell you about that later! Here is DL's book cover and blurb:
Angels may not reveal themselves to mortals.
But when the mortal Rachael’s watching over is hurting, how can she stay hidden in the shadows?
Guardian angel Rachael becomes trapped with the mortal she’s been assigned to watch over. Unable to watch him suffer, she decides the only way to free him of his inner demons is to break the rules about becoming involved, revealing her true identity, and applying divine intervention. But what choice does she have? Without her help, his soul will be trapped forever. Then a stranger appears, giving Rachael reason to wonder if his is the only soul in need of saving...
Links: AMAZON AMAZON UK ETOPIA PRESS BARNES & NOBLE
Chat with DL:
The Bird With the Broken Wing released Sept. 16th. What is the most exciting part about getting your book published?
DL: The validation from knowing I have been on the right path, even though it’s been a long walk getting to this point. Only a few weeks before getting the email from Etopia Press that they wanted to publish The Bird With the Broken Wing, I was jokingly telling friends that I couldn’t get a ransom note published so I might as well create my own e-books to give away for free. What a relief that I didn’t really mean it about giving up.
What's the most difficult part of the process?
DL: Finding the time to write because I also work full time. I feel stretched beyond safety limits trying to be a wife, a friend, a cook, an author, a cleaner, a family member, staying fit, maintaining a web and blog….
Please give us one sentence that summarizes what this story is about.
DL: Rachael is a guardian angel who is surprised to find out she hasn’t been doing such a great job of looking after her mortals as she thought.
Have you been writing for long? Has it always been young adult fiction?
DL: I began writing 15 years ago as a hobby. The internet wasn’t around back then so avenues for publishing were known only to those with degrees in English or journalism, and I didn’t have either. So everything I wrote got filed away in a box. When I began going out with Ian, who’s now my husband, he encouraged me to get back into my writing. I wrote two women’s fiction novels that never got published but I did get very encouraging rejection letters. I switched to writing young adult simply because the word count was less. Not that the writing itself is easier, but at least I could spend six months writing a book as opposed to two, even three years. I became hooked on young adult fiction and I have so many ideas for stories. It’s a genre I’ll be working on for some time yet.
I know you're also a reader. Do you have any favorite books you've read lately?
DL: I re-read The Hobbit recently and loved it as much as I did the first two times. I’m making my way through the Harry Potter books. While editing The Bird with the Broken Wing, I read a Dean Koontz novel and Stephen’s King’s On Writing.
In The Bird With the Broken Wing, Rachael is a guardian angel. What do you admire most about Rachael? Does she have any weaknesses?
DL: Rachael’s main weakness is her inability to look beyond what she sees in front of her. She lives in her own little world and thinks it’s as it should be. But she’s fiercely loyal and never gives up helping the mortals she’s been assigned to watch over.
I'd like to get to know Rachael a little better. If you had a chance to hang out with Rachael this weekend, what would you guys do? (concert? movies? restaurant?)
DL: What could we do that Rachael hasn’t already seen in her role as guardian angel? Would she be impressed if I took her to the local zoo which began as a refuge for rescued animals? Would she be bored eating fish and chips on the beach while we watched my dog chase seagulls? Would she enjoy wandering around the antique shops and home wares stores till our feet grew so tired that we had to rest them over coffee and cake? Would she like to finish the day off with gelato and a walk on the promenade? I sound like an advertisement for my home town, but I’m a real home body and I love living on the coast.
Let's get to know you better. What are your preferences for this list: coffee or tea, steak or pizza, motorcycle or bicycle, roses or candy, rock music or classical music?
DL: I wish I could write to music but I simply can’t. I find it too distracting. Music makes me want to sing. I need to write in total silence.
Are you working on your next novel now?
DL: Yes. I’m working on another YA novel, which is more speculative fiction than paranormal. First draft is done and now the fun of editing begins.
D L Richardson was born in Ireland and came to Australia with her parents as a baby. She went to a public school in Sydney's western suburbs and the books she read were given to her or borrowed from the library. However, it was music that first captured her creative interest. She joined the school choir at age eight and got her first acoustic guitar at age ten, although she really wanted a piano. In high school, she took up lead vocals after the girl she was to sing a duet with failed to show up. After that, she told her stage fright to get lost and took up singing with the school band where she performed in many concerts. When she left school, she helped form her own rock band where she sang lead vocals, played bass guitar, and wrote all the lyrics. At age 26, she realized she wanted to write novels for the rest of her life or die trying so she sold her equipment, quit pursuing a music career and began writing instead. Since then she has had four short stories published in Australia, the US and the UK. She currently lives in Australia on the NSW South Coast with her husband and dog. When she's not writing or reading, she can be found practicing her piano, playing the guitar or walking the dog.
Find DL Richardson online:
WEBSITE TWITTER FACEBOOK BLOG
Want to win? Follow DL on one of the social medias listed above. Leave a comment here stating which one you did for a chance to win the prize. You could even leave her a comment about a fact in her interview or her book, and you'll still get a chance to win. As a tribute to DL's rock-n-roll roots, I'm giving away a couple of guitar string bracelets. Two winners will be drawn on Saturday.
Isis Rushdan awarded me with this award. THANKS, ISIS!
The rules are:
1. Thank and link to the person who nominates you
2. Share seven random facts about you
3. Pass this award to five new blogging friends
4. Contact and congratulate the awarded bloggers
I'm going to try and make this one a little more difficult since I've posted quite a few random facts lately.
Seven random facts from my life as a reader and a writer:
1. I railed at the injustice of it all when Stephen King was hit by a car and The Dark Tower series was not finished. It was extremely selfish, but I was so glad when he recovered.
2. I listen to audiobooks for two hours daily during my commute. Narrators make a big difference. What are my favorites from this year? The Help had multiple narrators and was wonderful; Octavia Spencer played Minnie in the movie and also read the part in the audiobook. Before I Fall and Delirium were both read by Sarah Drew and were also great. She's an actress, and you can tell. Some narrators are terrible and ruin the book for me.
3. I belong to Goodreads.com where I collect a list of TBR (to-be-read) books. It's a nice place to keep a list.
4. I write on some weeknights, but I do most writing on the weekends. I do my best work between 4:00 am and noon on Saturdays.
5. You will always find one dog at my feet while I write.
6. In commercial fiction, I read fantasy, YA, and paranormal. I still read some romance, but it's not my preference at the moment. I will read non-fiction science and history. I never read autobiographies or political pieces.
7. I enjoy reading vampire books, but I don't think I'll ever write one. I have one book on my shelf that I'd love to read and don't have time. It's a hefty size book called The Passage by Justin Cronin.
8. I sometimes listen to music while writing. Pandora is my favorite music app on my iPad.
9. I have an ancient copy of Edith Hamilton's Mythology that I refer to for ideas.
10. I merit Stephenie Meyer with getting me interested in young adult fiction. Although I enjoyed The Twilight series, I think her book The Host is her best work. It's more of a sci-fi book, but I like that.
5 New Blogging Friends To Receive This Award:
*Please note that your facts do not have to be limited to reading and writing.
Chris from The Kelworth files
Ellen from Word Larceny
Jessica from Jessica Love Writes
Melissa Sarno of This Too
Melanie Jacobson, Author of Not My Type
The 7 X 7 Link Award was handed to me earlier last week from Miranda Hardy. Ah, thanks, Miranda!
1. Check out the Queen of Steampunk, Suzanne Lazear
2. Live To Write...Edit When Necessary - Angie Cothran makes me laugh
3. Giles Hash tells about his path to publication
4. Jessica Love, who is a rockin great YA author/teacher
5. Melissa Sarno of This Too, who writes all day for a toy company
6. The East Coaster, who is on fire in completing publishing goals
7. Melanie Jacobsen, who is keeping it real
I'm so pleased that Sarah agreed to drop in for a visit here at my place. Sarah Ballance is a talented author who amazes me. She juggles a husband, six children, and a writing career while maintaining a killer sense of humor. I read her novella HAWTHORNE last weekend and loved it. Something about it reminded me of Wuthering Heights and all the reasons why I fell in love with romance as a teenager.
So, I'd like for you to meet Sarah Ballance.
"When I finished it, honestly, all I could do was sit there - a little awestruck. These characters and this story will stay with you long after you have turned the last page." Laura, Kick Back & Review
Brinda: Sarah, I'd love to know about Hawthorne and how you ended up doing it for charity.
Sarah: It's probably not in a person's best interest to go around making public confessions about things which cast them in an unfavorable light, but I'm a bit of an nonconformist, so why the heck not? Besides, I like the looks of you people. (Well, most of you. I've got my feet on the coffee table and I just used all the creamer in my coffee, which might explain that look on Brinda's face. But I digress.)
Back to my confession. Truth is, I really didn't want to write HAWTHORNE. And by really, I mean really. But my pal Elaina Lee—who just so happened to be my cover artist—just kind of stared at me. I blinked first. She won. I was in it for charity.
Sort of. Because while I knew the proceeds from the sale of whatever-the-heck-I-was-gonna-write would benefit Japan earthquake and tsunami victims, I had no earthy idea what I was doing. I'd written precisely two works of fiction in my adult life (I'm 16 years out of high school) and neither of them were short. So what, you say? Shorter equals easier? Nuh-uh. Writing a novella, it turns out, just reeks of what-was-I-thinking.
You see, in the space of a 10k novella, I needed to create characters readers with whom readers would connect. I needed a plot with substance, but not so much that it couldn't reach a satisfactory conclusion in just forty pages. I needed … a drink. And over said drink, I discussed my plot woes with my husband. "Make it a ghost story," he says. Freaking brilliant. I've only been writing for a couple of years, but I've always been fascinated with ghosts (they, at times, equally fascinated with me.) That idea led to another, and pretty soon the two of us had the entire plot hammered down.
It was a thing of beauty, y'all. The words that would become HAWTHORNE flew, and I managed to sub just hours before the deadline. It was Memorial Day, in fact, and exactly ten hours and eight minutes after sending off my submission, I had a contract.
The feeling lingering with those first moments of acceptance and accomplishment have yet to wear off. The praise for HAWTHORNE keeps coming, and darn if I didn't make up to #51 in paid Kindle ghost stories on Amazon, besting the original Frankenstein for a few precious hours. (Thanks to the power of a screenshot, this moment has been preserved for all eternity.)
Now I feel like a heel for resisting this good deed with such might, but I hope you guys will be an easier "sell." Proceeds from HAWTHORNE will be forwarded directly to the publisher to benefit disaster relief, so in light of that bit of news I do hope you'll consider grabbing a copy of your own. I hear the story is a good one (*grin*) but here's what's important: Your dollar will go to someone who really needs it. The story is just the gravy.
And don't look now, but I think I just spilled some on Brinda's couch.
HAWTHORNE is a sweet romance / mystery with content suitable for most audiences.
After a terrifying encounter with the unexplained, it took ten years and the news of her grandmother’s passing for Emma Grace Hawthorne to return to her childhood home. She sought peace in saying a proper goodbye, but what she found was an old love, a sordid family history, and a wrong only she could right.
Living in the shadow of Hawthorne Manor, Noah Garrett never forgot about Emma Grace. In a house full of secrets, his search for missing documents revealed a truth that could cost him everything. What he found gave Emma the freedom to walk away from the mansion, her heart free and clear, but at what price to Noah?
BUY LINK KINDLE NOOK
The car slowed to a stop and a decade's worth of memories tumbled onto the sun-blanched asphalt.
The hand-painted sign hadn't changed in years. In the thick, damp air filling the Louisiana landscape, the wood display remain inexplicably unaffected. There it sat—every meticulously scripted letter as crisp and clean as the stark white walls of the manor it lauded, oblivious to the passage of time.
Emma Hawthorne tensed in the seat of the Mustang convertible, staring at her past with ice sluicing her spine Anywhere else, the view would have been gorgeous. The drive, lined on both sides with live oak laden with Spanish moss, was the South personified. At the end, Hawthorne Manor held court. Pristine, proud, the boastful antebellum home beamed, lording over its acreage.
But it harbored the unspeakable. No amount of time could erase what happened to her on the other side of the expanse of green lawn. Nothing could change what she'd seen there. Some might say she was crazy—that she'd imagined or invented the whole ordeal—but her scars were all the proof she needed. Whether the shadows lurking behind the façade of the picturesque plantation were real or born of an overactive imagination, there was no way she was going back into that house.
Especially not for a dead woman.
Sparing a glance in the rearview, Emma steeled herself against a trembling in her hands that threatened to overtake her body. She released a pent-up breath, her heart settling into a less acrobatic rhythm at the thought of leaving. She didn't have to stay here.
Let the South win this one. She was going home.
A split second after she decided to go, something caught her eye. She blinked, trying to see through the swaying canopy of leaves and moss, certain a figure stood atop the widow's walk straddling the roofline of the house. But no one--
Something brushed the car, rocking it. Swallowing panic, Emma tried to tear her focus from Hawthorne Manor, but fear kept her from looking anywhere else. Time and distance hadn't done her any favors; she was a fool for coming anywhere near this place, much less with the ragtop down.
The car rocked harder. The something refused to be ignored.
Fighting the grip of panic tightening her throat—fighting the ghosts of her past—Emma forced herself to look away from the house, toward the intrusion over her left shoulder.
The first thing she saw was an aged set of gnarled fingers resting on the door, blue automotive paint showing through an ugly translucence.
The second was the face—withered, centurion, and expressionless. Haunting.
**** It couldn't be her.
Noah Garrett tore down the drive, slapping through a muggy afternoon haze comprised of mosquitoes and humidity. He couldn't know that scream, but he felt the connection the moment the sound of her fear pierced the thick air.
The one reason he allowed himself to stagnate on the old plantation, long after life and reason moved on without him. Long after she had.
A blue Mustang sat at the end of the driveway. He wondered if it could be hers—even as he knew it impossible—but she was nowhere in sight.
He slowed to a trot. The sprint left him drenched with sweat and not entirely disappointed his imagination had gotten away from him. His dream of one more chance to see Emma Grace had never included himself as a dripping mess. He wiped the moisture from his brow, fast concluding the car must belong to a tourist. They often parked at the end of the drive and took pictures of the condescending mansion most thought beautiful. He assumed the intrusion seemed small to their frequent guests, but the constant ding of the hidden bell announcing a visitor could drive a man to the edge.
As if losing Emma Grace hadn't already accomplished that.
Noah closed in on the convertible, giving the nearby grounds a cursory look. The lawn was meticulous, the beds overflowing with sprays of purple garden phlox which trailed around the bend in the road and disappeared. A riot of white and rust-red irises backed the smaller purple flowers, their leaves deep green and glossy. Overhead, Spanish moss swayed only occasionally atop a maze of live oak, more likely a result of a passing swarm of insects than an actual air current. The land was still. If there were tourists snapping photos of the historic plantation—or doing anything else—he didn't see them. But someone had been there, the seemingly familiar scream so real.
Wasn't it always?
Resigned to another night alone with his memories, Noah pivoted.
And found himself nose to nose with Emma Grace.
Astounded, he opened his mouth, then closed it. He wanted to reach for her, but his arms refused the notion; they hung uselessly by his sides, the effort futile. His mouth wasn't much on cooperation, either. Finally, he found his tongue. "Em—"
Her expression cut him off. Green eyes wide, skin pale, her small frame shaking, she spoke. "I saw her, Noah. She's back." The words, nearly soundless, seemed to catch in the thick air. Lingering. Threatening.
And ripping the heart from his chest.
Saturday, I made a favicon for my website. What is a favicon you ask? It's the 16 X 16 pixel icon displayed on the browser tab. In Internet Explorer, you'll see it in the URL bar next to the address. You know...Facebook has the blue "f", Twitter has the lower case "t", and now brindaberry.com has the cover of The Waiting Booth. Don't get eye strain looking at it. Trust me. It's there.
I'm going to send you to two websites for this quick lesson. First, I went here: http://www.favicon.cc/ . This site allows you to upload an image and make a favicon in seconds. You can then download it onto your computer for free. After I made my favicon in seconds, it took me a while to get it onto my site.
Later, I found this site: http://www.faviconhowto.com/ . The programmer, Kevin Cooper, does a very nice video that explains how to use his tools to make the favicon and also how to upload it to your webpage in the correct spot in the html coding. He'll also guide you to place it in the root folder. If you use the site in the previous paragraph to make your favicon, you can skip to around minute 6:00 in his 13:09 minute video.
If you have your own website, you'll love doing this quick and easy task. Blogger has the favicon edit available in the Design Tab. I'm not sure about the location in WordPress. So, go out there and make a favicon. It's easy!
**Update on 9/15/11 Here is the link to the Wordpress explanation and video: http://en.support.wordpress.com/avatars/blavatars/
I have been "tagged" by Isis Rushdan and will be listing ten random facts about moi. Let's see how random I can be as my mind skitters along on this Saturday morning.
1. I currently own two small dogs. Other pets I've owned when I was younger: fish, hamster, parakeets, and a mouse. The parakeets were named Romeo and Juliet. I'm fairly sure that Juliet killed Romeo within a year. She was one mean broad. Then she went on to live another three years. I am deathly afraid of birds, and the parakeets were a gift from my parents.
2. I once found a strange man sleeping in my car inside my garage. He was seated in the passenger seat. I was getting in to go to work. He was heavily scarred on his face. You can't make this stuff up.
3. I have a terrific sense of smell. If something has gone bad, I'll smell it. I could be a bloodhound. Maybe it makes up for the fact that I think I have hearing loss caused by dancing too close to a band's speakers.
4. Planning a vacation is as much fun to me as actually GOING on the vacation.
5. I love party games like Pictionary, Scattergories and Guesstures. I also like playing spades. I'm not good at poker.
6. Certain horror movies will forever haunt me. I still randomly think about the satanic pig in Amityville Horror (original movie), the clown from It, and of course, Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street. You notice these are old movies. I can't watch horror movies anymore.
7. One of my favorite keepsakes from my teen years is a collection of booklets made by Lora B. She would paste in pictures from magazines about our teenage lives with funny, crazy things we did. I still have all of them.
8. I also still have all the letters my husband ever wrote to me. There are 30+ letters. I don't keep cards.
9. I HATE the show The Family Guy. That talking dog and baby drive me to madness.
10. I once won a local taekwondo sparring competition against all male opponents. I was the only adult female competing. Officials asked me if I wanted to go into the teenage group for the competition. I declined and requested to be put with the adult males. I'll never forget how good that felt.
Well, that was mighty random. Now it's my turn to tag five campaigners! Your turn- Jessica Love, Shelley Koon, Angela Scott, Lauren E Morrill, Danyelle Leafty . These are authors from the #writecampaign experience led by Rachael Harrie. Later, you should visit their pages to see how random they are.
We break into your normal Friday blog programming for some vitally important discussion.
Today begins the first challenge from the Writers' Platform-Building Campaign. Here is my challenge:
"Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.
If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count) For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!"
If you would like to read other authors' submissions, travel to this link. It's also the webpage where you can vote for mine! I'm #115 with a picture of some penguins dancing.
Here goes my very first piece of flash fiction of 200 words exactly.
The door swung open. A thud echoed through the room when the heavy wood hit the dirt at his feet. The stench of unwashed bodies, vinegar, and mold drifted up from the ink-black regions below. The whisper-thin man covered his mouth with a handkerchief pulled from his Bib overalls pocket.
"Ernest. Answer me, son."
Harvey rubbed the handkerchief across his face before turning to spit a stream of tobacco juice to his right. He used the cloth to wipe the spittle from his chin.
He balanced his boot on the rotting threshold and bent with one hand on the frame of the storm cellar.
"Did you hear me?" he yelled into the blackness. Turning, he carefully positioned his right foot, his good one, on the top rung of the step ladder. He grabbed the other side of the doorframe and dropped his left foot to the second rung.
He peered in the direction of the scuffling sound.
"I always knew bad blood would out. Your poor mama don't need this aggravation. That's why I had to put you down here."
The old man lost his grip on the wood when two hands jerked at his ankles.
The door slammed shut.