My Earliest Memory #MFRWAuthor

Welcome to the second week of the 52 Week Challenge – My Earliest Memory.

My earliest memories are like a series of old movie clips that occasionally play in my mind but without sound or a connection to other moments, they are a little disjointed and hard to say how much is a true memory and how much is my imagination filling in the gaps.

At the time, my parents lived in a trailer park in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. Being 3 or 4 years old, everything felt big to me even though logically now I know space was likely cramped. I remember my bedroom and my bunkbed. I slept on the top bunk and from there, I felt like the ground was miles away.

My dad worked second turn as a truck mechanic so my days I spent with my mom and our little terrier named Flea. But occasionally, my dad would take to the woods behind our trailer where we would sit on a huge hill drinking chocolate pop and watching the trains pass by in the valley below. I was fascinated with trains and of course, I loved special time with my dad. I remember one afternoon, however, I must have sat in an anthill and there were dozens crawling all over the place. I didn’t want to sit down.

Then, another flash of memory. Nighttime. I was standing at the screen door in awe because on the street outside our trailer a car had caught fire. I remember my parents being panicked, rushing. I remember being taken down the road to my aunt and uncle’s trailer for the time being. But to this day, I always wonder how that car caught fire and whether or not the driver was okay. In my memory, I see him in the car but I don’t know if this was the case.

I remember kids who lived in our trailer park. Next door, I think? They seemed so much older than me even though probably the oldest was around 10. I remember one time they kept telling me to calm down and stop crying because they knew if my parents saw me they would get in trouble but I don’t remember why I was crying. I just kept wondering if the older one was a girl or a boy.

I remember my parents bringing home my baby brother, wrapped up in so many layers. And then, not long after, they bought a house and I remember running around the empty living room the day it became ours. I remember being in the car as we pulled up to the trailer for the last time and thinking that it wouldn’t be my home anymore. I felt a little sad but I was eating a McDonalds Happy Meal with a milkshake so – not too sad. 🙂

Thanks for reading my post on the 52 Week Challenge Blog Hop. Click the link to read memories from other authors participating in this challenge.

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The Price of Immortality – A Short Story Based on a Prompt #amwriting #asmsg

Happy Hump Day! For today’s post, I have decided to play with a story prompt. I have chosen the first one from an article on the blog Hobby Lark, in a post contributed by Moe Wood.

My little story is quick and rough but I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on it so please share! Who knows, perhaps with your suggestions, I could turn it into a longer story?

**Doug stuck his hand in the box and immediately pulled it out. “Ow,” he said. He licked the side of his index finger as if it had honey on it…**

After nearly a decade of searching, he never expected his treasure would be quite like this. The box was smaller than he’d hoped but didn’t Cora always say the best gifts come in small packages? His frown deepened at the memory. She had said it just before he disappointed her with a box of chocolates for Christmas when she’d been hinting at an engagement ring.

He shrugged off the memory, rubbed his finger against his thigh, and carefully replaced the lid on the box. He’d made so many sacrifices to reach this goal. He knew it would be part of the price he’d pay so there was no sense in getting all sentimental over lost love. Besides, once he returned to Cora with the good news of his victory, she would surely forgive him. She, of all people, understood what was at stake which was precisely why he’d been so baffled by her reaction.

A single drop of water dripped from the roof of the cave. Doug watched it splash next to the ground, transfixed by its delicate beauty in the candlelight. He felt as if in his haste, he’d missed some important piece of the puzzle but he couldn’t imagine what? Perhaps it was the hollowness he felt at knowing Cora should be at his side sharing this moment?

With trembling arms, he picked up the box and began carrying it down the dimly lit corridor. Fatigue filled his body but he wasn’t in any hurry. Not any longer.

Now, in his hands, he possessed the secret ingredient to grant him eternal life. He’d slain dragons to obtain it. The only thing that remained was to deliver his prize intact to the witch in order to convert its energy to his gift.

Suddenly, a foul stench filled his nostrils and his belly threatened to empty. He sensed the presence of the demon before he saw it and he knew it was too late to shrink into the shadows unseen. The figure emerged from the darkness, its glowing red eyes the only hint at its inhumanity.

“What do you have in the box?” the demon said in a deep voice which bounced off the cave walls. Doug took a careful step back.

“Nothing.”

“Nothing?” He raised an eyebrow. “Such careful attention for nothing.”

“My… girlfriend requested this token, a symbol of my devotion…” Doug choked. Cora had always teased him for being a terrible liar so why did he believe he had any hope of fooling a demon? His chances were better of defeating the vile thing by more physical means except he couldn’t seem to muster the energy.

“Your girlfriend doesn’t seek immortality.”

Doug felt as if his body temperature dropped. His hands trembled so fiercely he could barely hold the box. Was it his imagination or had it become much heavier since his unwelcome companion approached? He considered the path ahead and wondered if he dared such a bold move, could he outrun the demon? Even though the entity appeared passive, almost bored, Doug wasn’t fooled.

The demon moved closer and Doug held his ground as he clutched the treasure close to his racing heart. With a long, lazy finger the demon stroked the edge of the lid in thoughtful contemplation.

“A mortal must work exceedingly hard to uncover the secrets we bury deep in the caves of the Cartid Mountains. The fact that you have managed such a feat gives me a reason to reflect on your worthiness of such a prize.”

“I… believe I am… worthy.”

The demon held up a hand and it was as if Doug’s legs lost the ability to hold him. He fell with a thud to the ground and watched in horror as the box toppled from his grasp, falling end over end until it finally settled at the demon’s feet.

He’d worked too hard and had come too far to give up now. He closed his eyes, gritted his teeth, and attempted to summon the power within him to block the dark magic but it was no use. His hands quivered in exhaustion and dropped in defeat. Instead, he reached out to grab the box but the demon was already one step ahead of him and he planted a large black boot on his hand, mashing it into the floor of the cave. Doug sucked in his breath as the bones crunched under the demon’s weight.

“Writhing, sniveling snake in the mud,” the demon taunted, “Have you no brains in that head of yours? You cannot overpower me.”

“What do you want?” As soon as the weight lifted from his hand, he clutched it to his chest and fought to hold back tears. Immortality would bring the absence of pain. Until then, he must remain strong and resilient.

“What do I want?” The demon considered this as if it hadn’t occurred to him before that he should want anything at all. “What are you prepared to offer?”

“Anything…”

“Even the one thing you hold dearest to your heart?”

Doug didn’t answer. His breath came out in hollow rasps. He was fighting a losing battle. White spots filled his vision and with his good hand, he swiped at beads of sweat on his brow.

His life he’d lived simply with just one goal – uncover the secrets to gain eternal life. Because of this, he prided himself on a detachment to material possessions. Truly anything he owned, even of value, he could do without. This must be some trick. The dark figure loomed over him, waiting for a response.

“Anything in my possession to give you, it is yours. Take all of it,” Doug said. It was a fair trade for this precious gift of life when he’d have a dozen lifetimes to secure whatever he needed. He’d already paid his greatest price.

The demon snickered. “Very well then.” He kicked the box carelessly toward Doug who scooped it delicately into his arms, no longer concerned with his broken hand.

Spreading his arms wide, the demon muttered an incantation and vanished.

For a full five minutes, Doug did not dare to move. When he was finally sure the demon would not return, disappointed that Doug had nothing of value to trade, he mustered the strength to pull himself to his feet and complete his journey.

**

Doug could barely believe his fortune. By the next full moon, he’d secured his goal with the help of the witch and could barely contain his excitement in sharing his prize with his beloved. In haste, he journeyed to the old village he once called home and rapped eagerly at her door, impatient for an answer. In his pocket, he carried a small, velvet box containing the ring he’d carefully selected for this occasion.

No matter how many demons or dragons he’d faced, nothing prepared him for this moment and the agony he would endure in anticipation of Cora’s response. In order not to prolong the suffering, he fell to one knee the moment the door slowly opened. Except, he didn’t realize until he looked up that it wasn’t Cora who had answered. An elderly woman stood staring at him with wide, curious eyes. Sadness darkened her features and Doug wondered if he should remember the old woman from his past.

“Is Cora here?” He got up and brushed off his slacks, feeling a little embarrassed for rushing into his proposal.

“Cora? She no longer lives here.”

“Oh…” He felt it then. The heat surrounding him, the scratching at the back of his mind. If he listened closely, did he hear the demon’s laughter? “Where might I find her?”

“She’s gone,” the old woman said sadly.

Doug felt his throat begin to close, his heart racing. This couldn’t be true.

“Gone where?”

The old woman shrugged. “Simply vanished one day into thin air.”

He had so many questions but the old woman wasn’t interested in answering them. She closed the door and left him standing, broken and beaten.

Gone.

To his left, he caught a glimpse of movement. A dark figure disappeared from view just as he turned to face it.

The demon had taken her, he was certain of it. Anger raged inside him. Cora wasn’t a possession. He wasn’t free to trade her life for the box. The deal was unfair and Doug refused to accept it.

“Damn you,” he said raising a fist to the air, “I will find you and you will pay!”

Again, he heard the faintest of laughter in the distance. Taking to his horse in a hurry, he set off in the direction of its sound determined to free his beloved.

**

My Favorite Thing I’ve Written #MFRWAuthor

Happy Friday and Welcome to my first post in the 52 Week Challenge! This week’s topic asks what is my favorite thing I’ve written… and why?

This is a tough one for me and looking back, it’s almost impossible to pick one story over the other because when it comes down to it, the short answer to this question is that the story I am writing *right now* is my favorite.

And no, I don’t mean that my current WIP is the best. Actually, I mean that when I sit down and throw myself into a new project, that project is all-consuming and I consider it the best and most exciting thing I’ve ever written. That enthusiasm is what keeps me writing even when the newfound love sours and the current project loses its luster.

Just like in a relationship, sometimes you have to keep looking for ways to recreate the magic. Doting on stories past won’t do it. I think if I spent too much time telling myself a story I’d already finished was my favorite then I might not be as motivated to keep going on the new one.

But of course, I do have stories that carry a special place in my heart. The Between World is the first book I published and I’ll never forget the feeling of holding the paperback in my hands and knowing it was my own creation. Priceless! Even though it isn’t the best thing I’ve written, it was my first and so it will always share space on the “favorites” list.

Then there is the short story I wrote for a competition in 2016 called Port of Entry. Not only did that story surprise me as I wrote it but it surprised me again when it was chosen out of many to propel me into the second round of the competition. I needed that boost of confidence.

And of course, there is the story I have attempted to write on and off for about twenty years. It’s taken various shapes and forms but because I’ve never been truly satisfied with the effort, it still only lives in my imagination. One of these days it will find its way out into the world, I’m sure of it. When that happens, who knows, it may be my favorite!

Or perhaps my favorite will be one I’ve not even conceived yet. I’m hoping I have many years of writing left ahead of me and I’m excited about all the possibilities I can explore with each new project I delve into.

So for the time being, I shall return to my current favorite project – the work-in-progress going on at the keyboard right now as we speak about a girl destined to save the world from an alien invasion. Stay tuned. 😉

Want to learn what other authors are saying about their favorites? Check out the MFRW 52 Challenge Blog for the linky list of participating authors.

New Year, New Goals

If you aren’t tired of hearing it already then allow me to be the next to wish you a Happy New Year!  I hope it brings you health and happiness.

Where did 2017 go? I had so many plans to be more productive writing and to publish more books and yet, somehow, all those plans managed to slip through the cracks. I’m a little disappointed in myself. While I did manage to write at least three full first drafts, I haven’t made much progress in rewriting those drafts and bringing them any closer to publication.

Remember Waking Fire? It’s one of my favorites. Somewhere around the middle, the whole story muddled and fell apart though and I’m still trying to figure out how to fix it. This is becoming a typical scenario for me, one which I hope to rectify. With a bit of luck, I’ll solve the problem and get this book into the hands of readers soon.

But either way, I’m still here. I’m still writing and creating. I’m still reading and learning. I like to think I may even be improving along the way. As December came to a close, I finished up a very detailed outline of my current WIP. I will be using that outline to finish another first draft this month. (Follow my progress on Twitter as I join in the #WIPjoy fun.) I like to think I’ve worked out the problems before committing too much story to paper and I will, therefore, avoid the issues I face with Waking Fire.

One of the things I enjoyed in 2017 was sharing the work of fellow authors. I plan to do more of that this year, however,  I’ll keep it to a minimum since promotion isn’t what this blog is about. Look for those features on Mondays.

Wednesdays and Fridays, I’ll reserve for posts of a more personal nature. I’m not quite sure what Wednesdays will bring but Fridays I am participating in the 2018 blog challenge so that should yield some fun posts. I hope. 🙂

I have a mailing list. You can sign up HERE. I’ll be putting this to better use in 2018 as well. If you have an interest in receiving free Advanced Reader Copies of my books or discounts on new releases, then you should certainly sign up. I’m expecting to send out a newsletter about once per month, more only if I have something so exciting I can’t wait to share.

Above all else, I want to wish you all the best the new year has to offer and I hope that you’ll stick with me on this crazy journey as we begin yet again…