Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Excerpt 4 - Leonidas

Although I really introduced Leonidas in the last scene, this scene is where one might begin to get some insight into his personality. Yes, he is a snotty young, self-righteous, spoiled ass but everyone must begin somewhere.

Please enjoy and tell me what you think in the comments section.

Leonidas burst through the double doors of his father's bedroom. He did not bother to knock first, and ran in already yelling about the self-righteous brat, Alexis; but his father, sick and in bed, barely moved.
"That Califan girl is an indignant prude." Leo flailed his arms as if attempting flight as he spoke. "I just reminded her of our arranged mating and she nearly choked me to death, and ran off."
His father slowly raised his hand in an attempt to stop the rant. "My guess is that you were doing more than just reminding her of the arrangement." His father stopped to catch his breath before continuing. "If you cannot grow up and learn some humility, you will never be the true alpha in this pack."
"I'm grown up plenty, father. And, have I not proven my strength to you?"
"A strong will does not make a good leader, Leonidas. You must have some amount of compassion for those you rule over." His father, exhausted, slumped back into his bed, but shook his head at Leo.
Leo couldn't believe that his father, on his deathbed, still spoke of humility. Leo feared a challenger to his rightful position more than he feared hatred by the peons in the pack.
"Compassion and humility are too easily mistaken for weakness," Leonidas spat his disagreement, as he turned to leave.
"Leonidas!" his father's voice, while weak and hoarse, still resounded off the walls of the room. "If you cannot learn that a leader's strength is shown through compassion, I cannot, in good conscience, have you succeed me."
Leo stopped dead in his tracks and turned around, ready to remind his father that he had only one son, but his father raised a finger and continued.
"All through your life I waited, hoping you would grow up and become the leader this pack needs." His father stopped to catch his breath. "But it simply did not happen. I'm afraid I will have to renounce the succession and let the pack choose a leader through challenge."
Leo cringed at the thought. His succession was all he had. He knew there were stronger men in the pack than him. Worst of all, many of them were ferals—bastardized versions of werewolves not born into the life, but made by others through careless contact, or failed kills. He couldn't let that happen, He would simply have to appease his father until he became the rightful pack Alpha. He turned to his father and put on the most humble face he could muster.
"What should you have me do, Father? How can I prove my growth to you? How can I show compassion and humility?" Leo looked at the floor as he spoke, afraid that if he looked him in the eye, his lack of true compassion would be revealed.
"What you should do is go find Alexis Califan, apologize profusely to her for your childish, self-centered actions, and beg her to come back."
"Will you bless our mating upon her return?"
"No! You've done enough damage in the Califan family." His father's short outburst caused him to go into a coughing and wheezing fit. It took a moment for him to get his breath back before he could continue. “Leonidas,” his father’s voice was suddenly very clear and somber. “Paul Califan is the only doctor I know of that is one of our kind.” Would you have us lose our community doctor over your desire for his daughter?” His father did not wait for a response before continuing. “You mustn’t let your selfish needs get in the way of your judgment as a leader. There are other natural females, if not in our own pack, then from the pack in Montana or even Alaska. You must learn to place the purity of our bloodline over your childish desires.”
Even as the words left his father's mouth in weak sputters and abbreviated stops, Leo's mind burned with the thought that even his own father did not approve of his position as alpha. Before he could think of a proper response to the harsh words, his father broke in again.
"You will not be mated to Alexis. I've arranged a mating with a female from the pack in Montana. She's a natural with a pure bloodline dating back generations. Her family has good standing among our kind, and she's obedient."
"But, I don't want to be mated to some stranger," Leo pleaded with his father. "I want Alexis as a mate—"
Well, you can't have her," his father interrupted. "She doesn't want you, and she will defy your dominance and your leadership and set the Califan family in opposition to ours." Leo's father sat up in the bed, his face turning red, sweat beading on his forehead. "You will leave immediately to find Alexis. You will beg her to return, and you will accept the mate I've chosen for you. If you cannot muster the intestinal fortitude to do this, I will denounce your succession as alpha."
"Yes, father." Leo turned and stomped out of the room before his heated face and watery eyes defied the strong demeanor he was trying to present. Truth was, he loved and respected his father, but found him oppressive and overbearing at the same time. He would do as his father told him, and find Alexis. But, if she just happened to find her demise before he could bring her back, the blame would not be on him. Finding her would be easy. Getting her back to Ellijay, willingly or not, was another matter entirely.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Ground-Floor Opportunity

No, this is not some kind of sales pitch where I try to convince you that if you purchase a tremendous inventory of daly-wags you will soon be rich beyond your wildest dreams. Of course, before your dream of riches comes to fruition, you will have to convince twelve other people to buy the same useless inventory and have them convince twelve people each to do the same. Then you will become rich -- or broke. I guarantee at least one of those things will happen.

Wait. Where was I going with this.

No, really. I'm not here to sell you anything. Well, although that could be debated, I would like to present you with the opportunity to help a good friend and new author.

A friend of mine recently entered the author foray and has published his first book. It is a mystery story and, though I've had the opportunity to read some of his draft editions, I wanted to provide links for his website and works for those of you just itching to read something new.

The Author's name is Web Weber and his novel is (I assume) the first in a series to come. The story is called The Yellow Slide Mysteries: A Mikey Simmons Novel.

Here's a link to the book on Amazon:

Yellow Slide Mysteries

For those that like to get to know their authors, here's a link to his website. Lots of interesting stuff on there about his travels and history:

Web Weber-writer

Of course, I will be purchasing his novel and providing a review. Might you consider doing the same?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Excerpt 3 - Introduction of Leonidas

In today's excerpt, a new character is introduced: Leonidas.

Leonidas is the son of the Caesar, the current leader within the community. Unfortunately, he is a stubborn, stupid, and self-righteous young man who causes more trouble than good. I hope you absolutely hate this character. Furthermore, I hope that, as the story progresses, you'll come to understand him-maybe even pity him-although that's entirely up to you.

Alexis barely heard the creaking wooden door over her sobs. She turned to the sound but remained crouching in the dark corner behind stacks of apple crates. A shadow moved across the ground and she knew it was Leonidas before he came into view. As he cornered the row of apple crates, she jumped up to a standing position. She attempted to quickly brush her hands across her face and hide evidence of her sobbing.
"I was walking by and heard someone inside, so I decided to check it out," A smirk formed on his mouth, creasing the edges in single sinister lines.
"Bullshit Leo. You knew my parents were breaking the news to me, and you wanted to see my reaction."
"Breaking the news?" Leo asked, as if his question was more rhetorical and snide, then honest. "Come on, you had to have known about your family's plans since we were children."
"I never really thought they were serious. Besides, you should be mating up with one of the girls clamoring over you instead of hoping for something that will never happen."
"Oh, it is going to happen." Leo stepped forward, his six foot frame filling the small space between the high stacks of apple crates, and blocking her only exit. "Whether it is official or unofficial, now or later, we will be together."
Alexis tensed and scowled at him. "You only think you can get away with anything you want because of your daddy. If it weren't for him, you would've been put down years ago for your poor—"
Leonidas stepped forward and backhanded Alexis, sending her sideways against a stack of crates.
"Bitch, you leave my father out of this." He moved to her as he spoke, pushing her to the dirt floor. He was on top of her before she could react, ripping at her blouse, and cursing in her ear.
"You want to play tough? We can play tough." He pulled at her sleeve until she heard the threads ripping free. "I think we will be mated sooner rather than later."
He pinned her down with one hand to her throat while he busied his other hand grabbing at her breast. Alexis was stunned, in a sudden state of shock, her body starting to go numb, preparing to give in to what was happening. Then, as he squeezed her breast to the point of pain, something snapped inside her. Fear and resignation gave way to anger, and prompted her to shift—not completely, but at some mid-point between human and wolf. In the next instant, more through instinct then conscious thought, she swatted him away and rolled over on top of him. His shift came nearly as quick, but now she had him by the throat, and she squeezed until his breathing turned to gurgling sounds. He batted violently at her but she continued to squeeze his throat with all her strength, kneeling with her knees against his shoulders, until his eyes rolled back and he became motionless beneath her.
He shifted back to human form, his black hair already slick with sweat. Alexis slowly released her grip around his neck and checked to make sure he still had a pulse. She heard him breathing low, rough, and raspy, and he had a pulse. That is when the real fear struck her. Leonidas was still alive. He would likely recover soon and run to tell his father what happened. Of course, he would leave out the part of him attacking her, trying to force himself on her. His father and everyone else, to include her own parents, would take his side and she would still be given to Leonidas in the end, as if she were some kind of object to be traded or sold at someone else’s will. A flood of emotions rose within her as she considered what to do next. She couldn’t allow herself to be given to Leo. She couldn’t continue to live in this small town under the oppression of Leo and his father and certainly, she couldn’t continue along this defiant path without the support of her friends, her family, and especially, her grandfather.
Alexis ran. She stormed through the wooden door of the storage warehouse, racking it so hard against the outside wall that it broke off its hinges, falling flat on the ground behind her. She was not sure where she was running to, or even why she was running; she just needed to get away. Tears blurred her vision and cooled her cheeks as she ran out of the orchard with her purse, flapping behind her like a kite on a string. Surprised the straps were still intact around her shoulders, she stretched her legs and found firm purchase on the asphalt-covered street, increasing her speed. In what seemed mere moments, she was in the town circle looking at the a line of antique shops.
Her only thought was to get out of town, away from Leonidas, and someplace safe and familiar. She’d hardly been outside of Ellijay her entire life, except for her recent time in college. She spent two years at Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta.  Her first two years were spent at Dalton State College’s Ellijay extension where she received an associate degree in general studies. She made the short trek South on River Street to an ATM and withdrew as much cash as the machine would allow. A taxi sat alone along the curb. She stopped, opened the back passenger door, and got in.
"Where to?" The cab driver turned in his seat, an expectant look on his face.
"How can I get to Atlanta?" Alexis asked. Atlanta seemed as good a place as any to go.
"There's a Greyhound that goes there from the station south of Dalton twice a week."
"Then take me to the Greyhound station."
The driver sat there looking at her with that same expectant look on his face until she pulled her wallet out of her purse, flashing her credit card. Then he turned back around and made a radio call before gunning the throttle, pushing her into the seat as they rocketed back toward the town circle. After a quick turn around the circle, the driver pointed the car south on main street and out of Ellijay.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Excerpt 2

This week I introduce you to the first main character of the story. One might feel a little of her personality right from the beginning, Yes, she is strong-willed but is still young. This excerpt also provides some insight into the kind of community she lives in, their social hierarchy, and customs.

Enjoy, and please comment below with thoughts and criticisms if you desire to do so.

"I just will not do it, and there is not a soul on this earth that can make me.” Alexis stood up straight and stared her parents down for the first time in her life. "And that includes the two of you." She immediately shrank back into the kitchen chair, tears welling up in her eyes despite her best efforts.
"We know you don't understand now, Lexi," her mother reached out to stroke her dark hair. "But, in time you'll realize that marrying Leonidas will be the best thing for our family, and our entire community."
"What about what I want?" Alexis asked as she swatted at her mother's hand. "Why did you let me go to college if you planned all along to enslave me to that self-centered weasel?"
Alexis' father stepped in, pointing a finger at her. "That self-centered weasel, as you call him, is going to be the leader of our entire community—probably sooner rather than later, given his father's condition—and since we didn't have a son to challenge him, we must offer a daughter to better our place among those of us who were born into this." Alexis’ father stopped and looked at the ceiling, shaking his head. After a moment, he stared back at her, his pointed finger still hanging in front of him. “We must preserve our place among the royal line, Lexi.”
Alexis tried to put up a defiant front but even as she narrowed her eyes at her father, she felt the tears burning down her cheeks. She knew her father was gruff, but he basically just told her that he wished he had a son instead of a daughter. Her skin tingled and she felt her blood coursing hot and angry through her veins; each beat of her heart sending a thump to her ears and a mix of fury and sadness coursing through her entire body.
"I can take care of myself," Alexis said. "Maybe I'll challenge him myself, and then our family will be the leaders in this community—in this royal pack of wolves."
"Don't be ridiculous," her father waved his hand as if swatting at a fly. "Keeping our secrets through childhood and four years of college is not the same as fighting another to the death. Besides, there has never been a female alpha in any pack that I know of."
"Well, maybe ours will be the first." She planted her feet hard on the floor at her bold statement. She remembered back to all the times Leo picked on her when they were children. She thought about those times he threw rocks at her, or tried to stick his hand up her dress. She'd always hated him for that, even though she never did anything about it, all the way up to when they attended Gilmer County high school together. His actions served as motivation for her to make good grades so she could get into college, and get away from Ellijay, Georgia. She remembered fighting him off almost daily when she started developing into a woman. He apparently thought she was his for the taking, and she wasn’t afraid to put him down if he went too far.
But Alexis knew it would never come to this. She would not have to challenge Leonidas for the top spot in their pack. She also knew that her parent’s plan to betroth her to him would fail. She would never be married to him—never be mated to him. That is, if her dreams were real. That is if she wasn’t as crazy as her parents, and the psychologist they sent her to since childhood must have thought. Now was the time to let them know what her friend had really been telling her through all those years.
“Well,” she said, staring at her mother and father with a conviction she hoped would not result in their laughter, “I’ve been told I will never be mated to Leonidas.”
“By who?” The look in her mother’s eyes changed from anger to something else, something more like … disappointment. “Did this prophecy come from your imaginary friend?”
“Yes,” Alexis squeaked, “and Tatianna is not imaginary. She is real, and comes to me in my dreams.” As soon as the words left her mouth, she realized how crazy it all sounded. She knew she couldn’t explain how her friend was real, even if she was the only one to see her, and her parents simply would not understand without some kind of physical proof.
“If she is real,” her mother’s disappointment showing in her voice now, “why did she remain a child as you grew into a young adult?”
“I don’t know,” Alexis said, hoping her short response would put an end to the conversation.
“I thought we’d gotten through this,” her mother said as she shook her head. “I mean, it was fine when you were a child, but to cling to this still? You’ve been to counseling, and I thought you said you had not talked to her since before college. Why bring it back up now?”
Alexis frowned and shrugged her shoulders. The truth was that Tatianna came to her a month before her college graduation. That is when Tatianna told her about the arranged marriage and that it would not happen, or that she could not let it happen, she couldn’t remember precisely. But she was not going to subject herself to more of her parent’s disparaging looks, and more counseling by telling them of her last visitation.
Then, her mother crushed her spirit completely. "Lexi, this has been planned since you were both children. You know there's just not that many naturals of our kind left. You have a chance to keep our bloodline clean and true."
Alexis had nothing to say in response to her mother. She knew she was losing and needed someone to agree with her. She looked over to see her Grandfather sitting in an armchair, listening to the whole conversation. He started shaking his head in a "no" fashion but it was too late. She was going to bring him into this argument as her only ally.
"What about you, Grandpa?" Alexis asked, feeling more positive at the possibility of his agreement. "Don't you think I should have the right to make my own decisions? Don't you think—"
"Alexis," her Grandfather cut her off mid-sentence. "I believe that you should understand that your parents are only trying to do what's best for you. They are doing what is best for the pack by preserving the purity of our bloodline."
"Screw you." Alexis said, stomping her feet for emphasis. It was all she could think of to say. Without her Grandfather's support, she was alone and defeated. Tears dripped off her cheeks wetting the fabric of her dress, and her heart sank into the pit of her stomach. She tried to appear strong, but as she opened her mouth, a wailing sound escaped, exposing her defeat. She ran out of the house, slowing only long enough to snatch her purse off the hook by the door, and continued through the apple orchards, swearing and wailing all the way to the storage barn. She ran inside and found her dark corner behind stacks of apple crates. It was a place she had gone many times before. It was a place she considered safe when she felt defeated. She vowed to herself, in that dark corner, she would never allow Leonidas to have her. She would take him out or leave the pack before she would allow him, or anyone else to make decisions that were hers alone to make.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Day with Zombies

I suppose I should not be calling them "zombies" but "walkers" instead. I mean, that's what they're called on AMC's The Walking Dead.

As the title implies, I was fortunate enough to recently tour various filming sights around Senoia, Georgia for the previously mentioned show. We decided this year that, instead of spending money on expensive gifts that might be forgotten by the new year, we would invest in an experience that we could share. So, shortly after Christmas, we dropped family off at the Atlanta airport and pointed our car South to Senoia.

Overall, the experience was great. This was a bus tour and we were given these nifty bracelets to distinguish us among the masses as the geeky movie tourists we were.

The tour guide was a self-described professional walker. Yes, he was an actor for the show and had been a walker on numerous occasions. His claim to fame is that he'd been killed by nearly every cast member in many different ways. It was very entertaining that the tour provided us with video clips pointing out our hero walker in various scenes looking all dead and being made deader by cast members. Upon returning from our tour, we sat ourselves down in front of the television for about four straight days to watch the Walking Dead marathon. Now, we're all caught up and ready for the next season.

The only downside to this little excursion is that others suffered in our absence. Upon returning to my office for some catch-up writing, I found my motivational (sacrificial) plant suffering.

The poor thing was in desperate need of water. I ended up soaking the whole thing in the sink and am currently giving it plenty of sunshine and affirmation to speed its recovery.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday Excerpt 1

I'm about to throw out some freebies!

Thought I would try something new for this year and beyond. I'm hoping this might foster new readership and afford current and future readers a look into the magical dark wretched world of writing and story creation.

Henceforth and hitherto I will post an excerpt (a scene or two) each Sunday from a current work in progress. I will welcome your thoughts, criticisms, critiques, or simple comments as the work progresses. Those of you who follow my pen name writing might soon recognize the first work I will post. This story was previously published under said pen name but has since been pulled from publication to incorporate rewrites, re-titling and, eventually, republication. I've been wanting desperately to work on other projects but this proposed series (for reasons beyond my comprehension) will not allow it. I currently have three or fours novels under this story line jogging around in my head and it simply will not go away until I complete the series no matter how terrible it may be.

So, I will post this first scene, which is really a kind of introduction or prologue, for your perusal. Please feel free to comment with your thoughts and feelings. Tell me where you think this is leading, what might give it more impact for you, or how you feel about the character. It is very possible this work will be finished and published before I finish posting all the excerpts, nonetheless, I will continue to post all scenes in this story. I may not include every scene in future stories but will provide enough for you to get the gist of the entire work.

Mist rises among the trees deep in the Rich Mountain Wilderness of Northern Georgia. The cool pre-dawn woods are dead quiet except for the sound of a bird scratching through the leaves for a meal. A distant sound startles the bird sending it running for the cover of the thick underbrush. The bird freezes, becoming nearly invisible as the source of the sound comes nearer, revealing itself as footfall from a four-legged creature. As a wolf runs past the small pile of underbrush, the bird, overcome with fear, chirps and flies away.
The wolf runs at top speed through the forest, slowing only occasionally to sniff the air. Its tongue hangs from its mouth and its flew curls upwards, exposing sharp canines. It continues to run until reaching the very top of Rich Mountain, meeting the sun just as it ascends over the horizon. The beast sits and does not move again until the sun is over the tall pines. Now in full light, the wolf takes off again, running down the mountain with the same speed and freedom as before.
 At the bottom of the mountain, the wolf slows to a brisk walk before stopping at the front of a truck parked on an old logging road. The wolf then stands on its hind legs as if it were perfectly natural to do so and begins a slow transformation. Skin and bone reshape, hair recedes into skin, powerful jaws and razor-sharp teeth form into softer features of a human. Fully formed, a woman now stands naked in front of the old truck. The driver door creaks as she opens it to retrieve her clothes. She takes one last look around the forest, breathing in the cool morning air before getting into the truck to drive home. She sighs and says to the bird just landing in a nearby tree, “I guess I’ve avoided this long enough. It’s time to face my parents … and my fate.”

Friday, January 8, 2016

New Year-New Hopes

Blog? What's that?

Yes, the blog suffered gross neglect through most of last year as its owner suffered writer's block, mid-life crisis, lack of motivation, preoccupation, or any other stupid worthless excuse one might contrive.

After finishing our gazebo in June, I became engrossed in moving my aquaponic garden and getting it set up in its new location. I completed the conversion of an an old canvas storage structure into a greenhouse a few months later and was immediately hit with the insurmountable task of keeping the greenhouse cool in the Southeast Alabama Mid-Summer heat. Many of my new plants bolted as soon as they grew past the seedling stage.

I also built a large enclosure for our two ducks, Cheese and Quackers. They now enjoy a space larger than the chickens are afforded with their own little house and kiddy pool pond. Construction of a new larger pond will commense soon as I now acquired most of the material needed for the project.

The dominating issue I faced for most of last year was that I began watching too much news. The state of affairs of my home town, the country, and the world placed a weight on my soul that hampered my ability to dream, to create new exciting worlds and place characters in dire situations. I found myself trying to get my financial affairs in order and prepare for the possibility of future hardship. Gathering and storage of materials, food, water, ammo increased ten-fold. Well, now all that's at a manageable level and I'm ready to live more in the moment.

There have been no new additions to my antique typewriter collection as space has become limited by function. In other words, I've decided I do not want to fill my office with typewriters to the point that it hinders the original purpose of the space-writing.

And, on the writing front...

As some of you may know, some of my writing is under a pen name. I've written several short stories and a couple of novels under this name and also maintain a website (that has been equally neglected) for this more adult writing.

Anyway, I've pulled the two novels (one of them was very risque') and am in the process of writing both of them for future release with another one or two novels to complete the series. I basically edited and expanded the second novel, which will now become the first to be re-published. I am considering posting excerpts of the novels pre-publication for the few viewers of my blog to paruse and comment on. What do you think about that? Lately, I've struggled to find time and energy to pursue large writing projects but all my small writing projects seems to expand to enormous levels without my express consent.

Well, this being my first post in a long time I need the support of feedback and comments.  The best to all of you for this new year.