Yearly Archives: 2010

A New Dark Journeys Tale From Ms. Hudock

This week my good friend Ms. Jennifer Hudock released another Dark Journeys short story. The newest installment, entitled Ahoy, Matey, is a perfect read for those who were once tormented during their high school years. (Like moi!)

Ms. Hudock was kind of enough to post the following excerpt on her official site:

Ahoy, Matey!

“It’s that damn reunion,” Todd said. “It’s all you’ve been able to think about for the last week.”

Sondra’s mind ebbed against the blank shore of memory. Had she been preoccupied about the reunion? She supposed she was a little. She hadn’t seen a single person she went to school with since graduation day. After high school she went to college in upstate New York. There she met Todd. They’d gotten married and settled in Buffalo, and she hadn’t gone back to that godforsaken Pennsylvania town since.

She was looking forward to showing them that she’d become something far greater than anyone ever expected, and she was no thing to be teased or tormented.

“Have I really been that bad?” she asked.

Todd squeezed her shoulder and shook his head, “Nah. I just don’t understand why you’re letting yourself get so stressed out over this whole thing. They’re just people, and I’m sure most of them are fatter than they should be, half-bald and not near as interesting as you once thought them.”

“I guess,” she shrugged. “I just really want to walk into that thing and wow them, you know? Show them that there is more to me than meets the eye.”

He leaned down and kissed her cheek, “Then be yourself.”

She leaked air through her teeth like a flattening bicycle tire and pressed her back against the sturdy frame of the chair. “I suppose,” she said, but she didn’t mention anything about the longing for revenge that continuously cropped up in her mind.

God how she hated them, every last one of them.

She shouldn’t even go to the damn reunion, she hated them all that much, but it was the drive to show them she was better than them now, that she had married well and her husband loved her just the way she was. She wanted to see, like Todd had suggested, how pathetic and uninteresting they all were now, and the worst part was that a part of her was so angry with herself for being petty about it all.

She wasn’t fifteen anymore, and the Pirate’s Treasure label hadn’t described her for more than a decade. She was Sondra McCabe: hip librarian, loving wife and she had a beautiful body thanks to plastic surgery.

But still… she wanted to crush them all. Smash their heads against the concrete and tear their brains…

Sondra shook off the hideous imagery of her own mind and pressed her back into her husband.

“I really wish you could come along,” she told him.

“Me too, Babe,” Todd squeezed her shoulder once before patting it with his hand and stepping away from the chair.

“I mean, it really makes it difficult for me to show off my stunning sex god of a husband without him by my side.”

“I tried to get someone to cover for me, but Dalton wasn’t having it. I’m his star man,” Todd’s curls rustled when he shook his head. “The only one who can get the job done.”

Sondra imagined tearing that self-righteous windbag Dobbins’s head clean from his shoulders and cracking it open on the sidewalk like a ripe summer melon filled with warm, oozing brains. As soon as she caught herself thinking about it, she stifled her gag reflex, and pinched her lips tight together.

“Why must you always be so goddamned reliable?” she distracted herself with the jest, elbowing the top of his thigh, which still rested behind her. “I suppose I’ll go it alone.”

“You’ll dazzle them, I swear it.”

She’d rather destroy them, she thought.Tear them all limb from limb with gnashing teeth. In her imagination she was a rabid animal, some wild, lycanthropic beast, only there was no full moon, and she felt wholly driven to devour their brains. Maybe she ought to just stay home, she thought. Maybe no one would even notice that she hadn’t shown up.

“I wish I felt as certain as you did.”

“Be the confident and beautiful girl I know you are,” Todd said, “and they will all fall hopelessly in love with you.”

Sondra bit her tongue to keep from admitting that she had no desire for them to fall in love with her. Or maybe she did. Maybe she wanted more than anything to be the center of their attention the same way she was in high school, only instead of the object of their mutual disdain, she would be the object of their desire. She wanted them to want her, to swallow hard against their disbelief when she walked into the room, but more than anything, she wanted to destroy them all.

Todd kissed her on the cheek before he slid out of the room to start dinner, and Sondra felt momentarily reassured by his comment and her own inner-dialogue.

She’d gone hundreds of places without him since they’d been married, made dozens of friends and acquaintances over the years. She was stronger and more confident than she had ever been as a teenager, so what did she have to worry about?

Sondra’s eyes scanned the reflection in the mirror, her own reflection. Her eyes flittered across the pronounced rigidity of her collarbone in contrast to the soft, firm mounds of flesh that hovered atop her chest. The bruise was still there, still hideous in its coloration, and a broken vein had veered off from it and crawled the length of her milky white shoulder. It was darker, almost black beneath the skin. Both disgusted and fascinated by it, Sondra wondered if something ruptured inside her, maybe one of her implants was leaking.

No. Denial leaped quick in response, as though something beyond her own mind triggered the impulse. It placated, rather than disturbed her.

“It’s just a vein,” she traced her finger along the river of it, toward her shoulder and into the loose tendrils of her hair. “Nothing to get excited about.”

Besides, no one would see it anyway. It wasn’t like she was planning on flashing the whole entire graduating class of 1997.

If you would like to read Ahoy, Matey in its entirety, you can purchase a copy through Smashwords or Amazon for less than a dollar. So head on over and get your copy now!

An Interview with "Dream Wanderers" Author, Paula Brown, Part 3

Thank you all for stopping by again today to read the final installment in the Paula Brown interview. If you haven’t read Part 1 or 2 yet, please make sure to do so. 

Q: What are your goals? What would you like to accomplish next? 

A: I want and need to finish my sequel. The story is done, I just need to find the time for one more look through it. I will probably have one more book in that series and there is another series that has been bugging me for a long time that I just haven’t done anything with. 

Q: What advice do you have for other writers?

A: Write for yourself. Don’t do it for others and don’t do it expecting to become the next famous author, because it won’t happen. If you write for yourself then you just may end up with something that you are proud of, like I did. 

Q: How do you feel about content mills? 

A: They have their place, I guess. I do work for them because it gives me a chance to write and get paid for it. What I don’t like about the content mills is that readers will assume that the author is an expert, which most of the time they aren’t. I wrote one “How To” type of article a while ago that I STILL have no idea of what I was talking about. I also wish that some of them had higher standards as far as grammar is concerned. 

Q: Are there any you’d recommend over others? 

A: I love Word Gigs! They treat their writers with respect and really listen to us. I have also have a love/hate relationship with Demand Studios. When things are going well with them they are fantastic but in my opinion they don’t have a good enough communication system set up.

Q: How you do you balance your writing with being a mom and wife?

A: I gave up sleep. Okay, kidding aside, I try to get a couple of hours of writing done in the morning when I have some time to myself. I also will work a couple of hours in the evening. The rest of the day I just try to grab a few minutes to write here and there.

One of the most important parts of my day is the daily walk that my daughter and I go on. We walk about five miles every day, rain or shine, no excuses. We have been in several 5, 8 and, 10K races, and we even did a half marathon. It’s become an important part of our lives and it’s been a real bonding experience. 

Q: Do you find it hard to fit in time to write? 

A: The hard part for me isn’t finding the time, it’s forcing myself to write when I have the time. It’s just too easy to make excuses.

Q: Do you feel a mother should be able to follow her dreams? And if yes, how should they go about balancing it all?

A: That’s a very interesting question because becoming a mother always was my biggest dream. The moment that my daughter was born I felt like a missing piece of me was suddenly there. Past that, though, following a dream is important and mothers should do it. It should just never be at the expense of her family. (The same goes for dads.)

I guess that the best way to balance it all is to schedule and to share responsibilities. A wife and mother does not have to do EVERYTHING, even though many of us feel like it is all up to us. Wives and mothers need to learn to delegate some of their responsibilities. The kids can help out, and Dad can too. If the dream is something that can be accomplished with the family then she should definitely go for it. If the dream is at the expense of the family, then that’s a different story. 

* Thank you all, again, for taking the time to read this 3-part interview. (Hopefully I’ll be able to post more like this in the future. If you’re interested in doing an interview, please feel free to contact me.) I also want to thank Paula for making this possible.

An Interview with "Dream Wanderers" Author, Paula Brown, Part 2

Here you go folks! This is the 2nd part to the Paula Brown interview. Part 1 was posted last night. 
Q: What successes have you had since? 
A: I’ve co-written a series of books on Walt Disney World. As I already mentioned, I have a novel called “Dream Wanderers”. The sequel is getting closer to completion. And I have written probably thousands of Internet articles for varies companies.
Q: Who would you say influenced your writing? Who do you look up to?

A: I have two major influences. My first one is A.A. Milne. I have loved Winnie the Pooh my entire life and some of my best childhood memories are sitting in my father’s lap and reading the books together.
My other major influence is my sister, Nancy Holzner. Nancy is a serious writer and makes a living full time at it, as does her husband. She has written several computer books under the name Nancy Conner, and she has had two novels recently published with well respected publishers. She has encouraged me and helped me out every step of the way. I never would have done any of this without her.
As far as looking up to someone it would be my parents, who always put their kids and grandchildren first (they still do), and my late grandparents…simple the most incredible people that I ever knew. 
Q: How did you find your publisher?

A: This is kind of a strange story. I am a huge fan of Walt Disney World and am a member of some fan sites. One day I received an email that there was a publisher who was looking for people to write reviews on various rides for a series of books on the parks. I wrote to him and asked if he needed someone to write about Star Tours. The next thing I knew I was writing ride reviews left and right, enough that I got my name on the covers of the books.
In talking with the publisher I mentioned that I had written a novel, and he asked if he could take a look at it. The next thing I knew he wanted to publish it. It’s a very small company, but he really believes in me and that has made a huge difference in my confidence level.
 Q: What part of the publishing process was the hardest?

Since it is a small company I was responsible for getting the manuscript print ready, and I kept having all these blank pages! That was hard for me to figure out; computers confuse me. The other part is the promotion of it. I’m not very good at self promotion, and it is really hard to get the name of a new book out there.
Q: Is there anything you would do differently in regards to getting published?

A: I don’t think so. I would rather have a small publisher that likes me than a large one who always tells me everything that I do is wrong.
Q: How do you get over submission nerves? How do you handle rejections? Any advice?

A: Since I didn’t exactly find my publisher by the normal route, I didn’t really have to deal with rejections there. Before I found him I was looking for an agent and ran across someone who was rather cold. I took a deep breath and just kept looking. The trick, I think, is to not take it personally, which is next to impossible because writers put a little bit of their soul into their work. 
*Please check back tomorrow for the final installment where Paula discusses future goals, writing for content mills and following your dreams.

An Interview with "Dream Wanderers" Author, Paula Brown, Part 1

As some of you know by now, I’ve been working from home for several years. Over the course of that time, I’ve met some truly amazing people who create works of art from their words alone. Paula Brown, the author of Dream Wanderers, is one such person. (You can purchase Paula’s novel through DriveThru SciFi.)

Recently, I asked Paula if she would be interested in answering some questions regarding writing and working from home. She said yes, and the answers below are the end result. We hope you enjoy!

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

A: Sure, I was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in Western Massachusetts and will always consider myself a New Englander, no matter where I live. (As I write this I live in Virginia, but we’re moving to Florida in June.)

I’ve always been into the arts. I’ve played the flute since I was 10, and I studied theater in college. I eventually became a disc jockey at a radio station in Western MA. I was offered a job with a station in VA and took it. I met my future husband in the station parking lot. (We will have been married for 21 years in September.) I left the station when my daughter was born in 1991 and never looked back.

Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to write for a living?

A: I never really realized that I COULD write for a living. I would write because I loved to write. I’ve always enjoyed making things up. Sometimes I would write them down and sometimes I would just play them out in my head. I never really thought about it as a career of any type until I found out about places like Demand Studios. 

Q: Have you always wanted to share your work with others?

A: No, pretty much the opposite. My fiction has always been very internal, and I was always scared to let anyone read it. When I wrote “Dream Wanderers”, though, something was different. I was happy with the way it came out, and I loved the ending so much that I wanted to share my work for the first time.

Q: Where do you get your ideas from? What inspires you?

A: They just kind of come to me. I’m a huge Star Wars” fan, and I have always loved the idea of creating an entirely new universe.

 Q: When did you publish your first piece of work?

A: The very first piece that I consider published was a poem that I wrote for the official website for the original “Battlestar Galactica”. I don’t write poetry and this was very much a tongue in cheek piece. I had included the words “A Very Bad Poem” in the title, but they removed that when they put it on the site. The site has changed drastically, though, and I don’t think it’s there anymore.

*This marks the end of part one. Please check back tomorrow to read more of the Paula Brown interview.

A Must Read From Jennifer Hudock

One of my goals in life is to help other’s find success and see their dreams realized. It’s important to me to pay good deeds forward, so that is one I’m doing today.
If you’ve never read a Jennifer Hudock story, you don’t know what you’re missing. She is one of the most talented and gifted people that I know, and I’ve been hooked on her writing since the first time I read one of her short stories. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a huge fan of hers and will do what I can to support her.
If you’re looking for something new and exciting to read, then here is your chance! Ms. Hudock just added Dark Journeys #6 ‘The Faerie’s Kiss’ to Amazon and Smashwords for $.99. If you purchase a copy of ‘The Faerie’s Kiss’ and take a snapshot of your receipt, she’ll even grant you access to the podcast version of the upcoming seventh installment in the Dark Journeys series.
If you would like more information on the Dark Journeys short story collection, please visit Ms. Hudock’s site where you’ll find links and information on the previous installments in the collection.

A Big Thanks to the Folks at The Creative Alliance

For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled to find a place to fit in — a place free of ridicule, where I can relax and not worry about what others are think about me.
I’ve struggled to find friends that understand me and accept me for who I am. Over the past 27 years, almost 28, I’ve been lucky to find a few people that I’ve been able to call true friends — kindred souls — but distance and circumstance have pulled us in opposite directions, which sucks, but that’s life. Some people are only meant to be in your life for a limited amount of time.
Over the past six months I’ve faced a lot of heartache and uncertainty, and I haven’t had a lot of people to talk to, lean on or encourage me to not give up on the things that I want from life. It’s been lonely and exhausting, and I often wished there was a place that I could go that would offer me a respite that I desperately needed — an escape from the chaos around me.
Things are finally changing, and for once, I don’t feel so alone or like I don’t matter. A friend, thanks to one of her many thought provoking blog posts, made me realize that I’ve been making excuses for why I can’t work on accomplishing my dreams. I was always too busy taking care of the kids, the house, etc. I never forced myself to take time for ME, which was wrong. I deserve attention too!
Shortly after my epiphany, I joined The Creative Alliance, which the above mentioned friend is a part of. TCA was the best thing that could have happened to me at this time. I finally think I’ve found a place where I can find friendship and the support that I need to forge on and chase my dreams down.
The Creative Alliance has given me extra motivation because I’m surrounded by like-minded individuals who are all trying to be successful and accomplish great things with their lives. Their successes make me realize that mine are attainable too, but I have to be willing to work hard and not give up. I need to take time for ME and focus on what I want.
I’ve never been a part of such a diverse group of people. All of the TCA folks are incredibly smart, funny and inspiring. And if you’re one of those folks, THANK YOU! You’ve made this mom realize it’s okay that I to want to chase after my dreams. It doesn’t make me a bad or neglectful mom. It does, however, make me a good role model because I’m teaching my children how to have ambition and fearlessness and that’s something every child should be taught.
I truly hope that TCA is around for a long time and helps other creative types see their dreams come into fruition.

Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

Over at The Creative Alliance site, there is a discussion going on about where creativity comes from. Many of us have contributed to the conversation, offering insight into the origins of our own ideas. The sources vary from person-to-person, and it’s always interesting to see what provokes creativity in others.

For me, inspiration comes from all around me. Sometimes an idea will come to me when I’m spending time with my children. In fact, my daughter inspired a series of children’s stories that are based on things she did as a toddler. I’d actually like to see them published one day, but as we all know, that’s easier said than done in these tough economic times when less books are being published.

Another source of inspiration for me is my dreams. There are nights when I go to bed, and I’ll dream about things that are so off the wall and crazy that they inspire short stories that often leave me questioning my own sanity or whether or not I’m receiving ideas from someone else.

I do sometimes feel as though my stories are not my own and that they come from someplace outside of me, like a muse, of sorts. It’s almost as though someone’s channeling ideas into my mind, down through my arms and into my fingertips where I release the idea onto paper or a computer screen. While that may sound a bit kooky to those who don’t write, to those who do, it makes perfect sense, at least for some of us.

I also find inspiration in my own personal teenage experiences. There were aspects of my teenage life that were hard to deal with. I often wondered if I’d make it to adulthood, and as you can see, I did, but not without my share of heartache.

I feel that many of my experiences would inspire younger generations, especially teenagers who are struggling to find themselves and where they fit into this world. So I look inward and find experiences that I’ve had that I could work into a story in some way while delivering a positive message about hope and perseverance.

Some additional ways that I gain inspiration are from observing others and from reading articles from various news outlets. In fact, the first novel I ever wrote was inspired by a murder of a young woman that took place in the town next to mine.

So in closing, my question for all of you is this, where do YOUR ideas come from? Feel free to post them here or you can head over to The Creative Alliance and share with everyone.

"The Lapsing Years"

Since someone posted and asked where “The Lapsing Years” was, I’m sharing it with all of you, but please don’t post it anywhere else unless given permission. Thanks!
The Lapsing Years

A little girl sitting on my lap,
Smiling, giggling and full of laughs.

Since then many years have passed,
Leaving us with many moments of silence that last.

With these years our interests have changed,
Resulting in times when we don’t know quite what to say.

With all the differences in our lives
Many things remain the same.

The love I feel for you grows everyday,
The need of your presence, or your own caring way.

Even though many days it doesn’t show,
I love you, just wanted you to know.

© Robert Normandeau

Dad, you should really consider working on those novels you’ve got tucked away. They are great and don’t deserve to be stuck on a dark shelf, collecting dust.

Where Would I Be Without My Parents?

Tonight, I was sorting through some old writing of mine, and I came across a poem that my dad wrote to me when I was 15, called “Lapsing Years.”
At that time, he and I were constantly at each other’s throats. More often than not, the words we said to each other were laced with anger, and on my part, sometimes hate. Rarely did I say “I love you.” I was so angry at the world and everyone in it, and there were parts of me that wanted to wound him — to make him feel the pain I was feeling and couldn’t express.

Despite all the crap I put my parents through, especially my dad, they loved me, even when they probably shouldn’t have. When I read what my dad wrote to me, I can feel the love hidden within his words — the love that never wavered.

As I sit here tonight, thinking about those turbulent teenage years, I’m more thankful than ever that they never gave up on me. They held me up and kept me going when I didn’t want to — when I wanted to curl up in a ball and let the darkness consume me. Had they not done that, I wouldn’t be here today.

I’m also thankful that my dad gave me the same love that he has for the written word. He’s one of the most talented writers I know, and I hope that I turn out as half as good at him. The one thing I wish is that he would share his writing with others, so they could experience what I already know.

In closing, here’s a special message for my mom and dad:

Mom and dad, if you read this, please know that I am grateful for everything that you have given me since you brought me into this world. You’ve sacrificed so much, and I feel like I’ve given so little in return. I’ve been difficult to deal with, and we don’t always see eye to eye. I know the past couple of years have been especially trying for me, and for you both, as well, but you’ve stuck by me, yet again, and have seen me through the rough times. Thank you and I love you both! ~Nikki

New Blog in the Works

It’s been a bit since I last updated, so I wanted to take a minute before I hit the hay for the night and post an update.

First, I’ve been working on an ending for a short story that I started a couple of months ago. It’s actually based on a dream that I had that scared the daylights out of me. The dream left a lasting impression that I thought I could turn into a really interesting story. So over the past two months I’ve been waiting for some sort of sign on how the story should end. I figured the answer would come to me in time, and it did. Of course, when the correct ending finally came to me, it sent shivers up my spine and kept me up half the night. I suppose that’s a good sign. Hopefully once the story’s finished, it will cause the same reaction in others.

Second, I’m currently editing a short story that I wrote last year. There’s a few parts to it that I would like to expand on, so that’s what I’m doing. I want the story to be just right since it has a strong message behind it.

Third, I’m currently working on a new blog that will hopefully help some of my fellow Maine residents. I plan on putting my writing skills to good use and hopefully change some people’s lives for the better. That’s always been a goal of mine, and I firmly believe that the new blog I’m working on will do just that. I’ve yet to see anything like it pertaining to Maine, so I think it stands a great chance at being successful. Time will tell though.

Well, that’s it for tonight. It’s been a busy day, and my bed is calling my name.