Would you like a free copy of Questmaster?
Would you like a free copy of Questmaster?
Would you like a free copy of Questmaster?
And those are just the prizes I'll be giving away! Sam's giving away some 3D glasses (b/c he's awesome like that), and he'll be announcing a special surprise that I've sworn to keep secret. I've never heard of anyone else doing this, though, so I'm really excited to see how it turns out.
Swing by the Facebook event on October 30th. I'll be on at 9:30 p.m. (Central Time), but come by any time to check out all the prizes!
Here's what I'll be giving away:
From USA Today Best-Selling Author Pavarti K. Tyler and Speculative Fiction Author Jessica West, comes a Dark Urban Fantasy novel about evil and the next step in its evolution.
I found her in a ditch at a stop sign, playing with a deflated basketball. She was only a few weeks old, a puppy most likely abandoned by her stray mother. I brought her home, and she eased the loneliness of my empty nest.
Harvey, Irma, Maria… These hurricanes have hit hard, leaving massive damage in their wakes. Here’s how you can help:
1. Write a piece of flash fiction in 50 words or less with the theme: Help
(This can be any sort of assistance, support, encouragement, or a story of someone or something that needs help. You do not need to use the prompt word. Be creative! It can be 50 words, 15 words…even a six-word story. Anything goes provided it is prose up to 50 words. It doesn’t have to be sunshine and rainbows but keep it PG and friendly.)
2. Add a new post on your blog with your flash fiction and the hashtag #Flash4Storms in the title
3. Link to this post (follow the external link to the original blog post)
4. Leave a comment at the original post with a link to your post so I know you’ve participated
5. Help spread the word on social media with the hashtags:
I will donate $1 to hurricane relief for every flash that is posted (up to $50).
The challenge is open until October 15th, 2017.
He always went to bed at precisely 10 p.m. and sent her to her own room across the hall twenty minutes later. Every night, she left her door open so she could hear his snores.
He always fell asleep before midnight.
She never actually slept, only napped for a few hours in the early morning.
Most nights, she simply curled up on a chaise lounge in the sitting room, bundling up under a heavy throw. The chaise was a gift from her husband, as were the countless blankets she’d acquired over the last year. Perhaps it meant he loved her; that he noticed her obsession with blankets, of all things, and set about buying the most luxurious throws he could find. If not for that one kindness, she might believe otherwise.
Not that her father had mismatched her. Neville was a good husband in every meaning of the word. Her wants, it seemed, were as important to him as her needs. He never raised his voice or spoke a cross word to her, not after that first week. But that wasn’t his fault.
Neville thrived on order. Consistency. The arrival of his new bride had thrown him for quite a loop. But Emma was a patient sort and learned to fit into his rhythm rather than try to blend it with her own.
Emma was spontaneous, too, but she quickly learned to stifle her flighty nature, at least in her husband’s presence. She enjoyed harmless, quiet acts of rebellion instead of impromptu shopping trips. It kept them both content.
Tonight, at the sound of his snores, she walked right past the familiar chaise and into the kitchen. Ice cream was perfect for such a warm night. She was tempted to use a fork to scoop it out, but that’d leave marks in the carton. Neville would probably never see them, but just to be safe, she used the correct utensil.
The bowl, on the other hand… Well, a porcelain pinch bowl wasn’t exactly what one was supposed to use to serve ice cream. No one would be the wiser once she was done.
It was perfect.
With the small, rapidly cooling bowl cupped in her palm, Emma made her way out of the glass house—as she’d come to think of it. One wrong step and she’d shatter their peaceful existence.
Outside, Emma stepped off of the pavers as soon as possible, preferring the feel of dew-kissed grass on her bare feet. She set the bowl on the bistro table under the massive oak tree in the center of the back yard.
A shaft of moonlight entranced her. The way it shone down through the thick branches, it almost seemed as though an angel was shining a heavenly light down through the clouds and canopy and fog. In the light of a full moon, even though most of it remained hidden from where she stood, the large hole in the base of the oak caught her eye.
Neville had insisted the tree remain, even though everyone told him it was dangerous. “One day,” they’d said, “that tree’s gone topple right over.” But her husband refused to have it chopped down. That, more than anything else, had endeared him to her.
She sat in one of the wrought iron chairs, the damp cushion wetting her backside, and studied the tree’s gaping wound.
In this light, the inside of the tree appeared impossibly soft. Not like the chenille blankets Neville had gotten her. Not like the down pillows and comforter for her bed, either. Not like its silk sheets.
Soft like carved wood that had been sanded. The bark, if that was bark within the hole, had no pattern.
Ice cream forgotten, Emma crawled over to the hole for a closer look. She placed one hand on the ground in front of her to keep from toppling into the opening, but where she expected to meet grass or soft earth, her palm touched cool metal.
Emma’s hands trembled with excitement as she searched for some sort of ring or notch. Finding nothing but a smooth, flat surface, she scooted on her bottom into the tree’s hole and felt the wood surrounding her.
It was exactly as soft as she’d thought it’d be. Someone had to have carved this opening into the tree. They must have stained it so that no one would notice. Or maybe the scar had simply darkened over time.
She went over every inch of the inside of that tree, to no avail. No lever. No button or switch. Nothing.
Emma crawled around the circumference of the trunk, which was quite a way around. She didn’t doubt Neville made the right choice to leave the tree standing. The hole, big as it was, hadn’t even eaten into an eighth of the tree’s massive girth. She encircled the tree twice: once to check the ground around it and again to check the tree itself, as high as she could reach. Then, for good measure, she made two more rounds.
Blue tits sounded out with their tap, tap, tap, announcing the arrival of an ungodly early hour.
Emma fled the yard, gathering her pinch bowl of ice cream and spoon on the way. She hurriedly washed the dishes, then herself. Neville would awaken within the next three hours. While that did leave her with plenty of time to avoid getting caught, she needed to try to get some sleep tonight.
Tomorrow night, she’d plan better. For now, she’d be content to fantasize. She imagined herself walking through a garden, her hand on Neville’s arm. Emma drifted off to dreams of a secret passage to a midnight garden filled with light orange Ranunculuses and deep pink Roses, all showy and vibrant and lush.
Just pounded out something right quick to get the juices flowing again. It’s been a long time since I’ve played the flash fiction game. 🙂
By Jessica West
“You really should do something with your hair, Donna. You could actually be kinda pretty if you tried to. Look at mine. This style might look hard, but it’s really not. I could show you…”
Donna forced a placid smile and waited for her ‘friend’ to finish speaking. Then she remembered Kathy never actually finished speaking. Why on Earth was Kathy spending so much time at her house? Sure, her husband had left her and having a supportive friend was nice…to a point. But she was there every single day. How much longer would she have to endure this?
The digital clock on her microwave read 2:14. Thank God!
“…and then just put some bobby pins—”
“Kathy, I’m sorry to interrupt, but the kids will be home from school soon—”
“Oh! What time is it?” She glanced at her cell phone.
Of course she couldn’t just take Donna’s word for it. It wasn’t like Donna knew how to read a clock or anything. She rolled her eyes so hard, an ache immediately speared her temples. Maybe she was being a bit harsh on her best friend. They were spending way too much time together, and it was really starting to wear on her. She opened her mouth to apologize, but Kathy had already started toward the door, still running off at the mouth.
She swallowed her apology and followed Kathy to the door.
“Listen to me,” Kathy put a sympathetic arm on Donna’s shoulder. “I know you’re upset Bryan left you. But even you have to admit, you let yourself go after that miscarriage. You have two healthy kids, Donna. You should be grateful for that.” She had the gall to pat Donna’s shoulder like she’d just said something kind. Not for the first time, she wondered if Kathy wasn’t intentionally tormenting her. No wonder she was ready to strangle her. If she had to spend one more day with her…
She forced another smile. “I’m just going through a rough patch. I’ll get through this. Maybe I’ll go get my hair done tomorrow, after I drop the kids off with Bryan.”
Kathy’s smile faltered. “Oh, I didn’t know they were going to Bryan’s this weekend.”
What was that all about? She seemed…disappointed.
Kathy quickly recovered her usual enthusiasm, though it seemed a bit forced now. “See you tomorrow morning. Thank God it’s Friday!”
No, she wouldn’t see her tomorrow morning, but Kathy didn’t know that. The special drink Donna had made for her sat on the counter by the door.
“Here, Kathy, don’t forget this.”
“Oh yeah! I swear, I’d forget my head if it wasn’t attached. Thanks again!”
She watched as Kathy made the trek through Donna’s back yard and into her own, sipping her drink all the way. She had warned her it was one of those sweet, fruity concoctions you had to drink slowly because it crept up on you. Ground cherry pits, bitter almonds, and cassava shavings—the secret ingredients—would ensure tomorrow would be a Friday to truly be thankful for. Even if it didn’t kill her, Kathy definitely wouldn’t show up on Donna’s doorstep yet again. She started visiting every day during the week since Bryan left, for “moral support,” she’d claimed.
Whatever. Donna would treat herself to a full makeover tomorrow, sans Kathy. Maybe even a whole new wardrobe to celebrate her ‘day off’.
UPDATE September 9, 2017: Now scheduling for November and December.
Novels: Two slots available in November, Three in December
Short Works: Please Query
Each editing pass will require anywhere from 3-7 business days for me to complete, depending on the word count, the type of editing I’m performing, and how extensive the edits are.
As of this posting (July 28, 2017), August is nearly completely booked. This is typical for me. By the end of each calendar month, I usually have the following month’s schedule planned out. You’ll probably need to schedule your first pass at least 2-4 weeks ahead of time. I don’t usually accept rush orders unless you are a recurring client. If I’m not overbooked, I may consider a rush order for an additional fee.
Every coin has two sides. One side is the side you show everyone. On the other side: secrets you’ll never freely admit to, some of which you won’t even acknowledge to yourself.
On the public facing side, ridges and curves make up that image people perceive when they see you, hear your voice, or even think of you. Your angry reactions. Your happy reactions. Your sad reactions. Predictable as the changing of the seasons, with little variation.
I am not a coin.
I’m a 20-sided dice. You’ll see all of me at some point or other, and not all of it is pretty. In fact, very little of it is. My anger. My happy. My sad. It’s all a roll of the dice.
Screaming and crying. Beating fists. Red-faced, jaw clenched. Narrow-eyed calm. Roll the dice.
Smiling sedately. Grinning like a fool. A frenzy of activity. Roll the dice.
A solemn mask. Silent, still. Broken and bawling and shaking. Roll the dice.
Words surface. Depression. Anxiety. Insomnia. Then more words I can’t quite pronounce or spell without looking at the bottle.
Still, I’m not a coin.
I’m better, but I’ll never be a coin. With help, though, I can be a ball. A small, gray, smooth, soft, calm, predictable ball.