Coming this spring to a bookstore near you!
Hey everyone! Long time no speak. 🙂 I hope your New Year is already fantastic.
The beginning of a new year brings the promise of dumping the old and starting the new. I rarely make resolutions. If I do, I don’t often write them down. This year I have a major goal. It isn’t writing a certain number of words a week or books a year. It’s continuing some of the things I’ve been working on for several years. At the end of the year, though, I did see some things crystal clear.
One. Make sure I stay on the course of positivity in my professional and personal life.
Two. Continue to write whatever blows my skirt up. Right now that is mostly horror. Sometimes it’ll be romance.
Three. Continue my exciting new ventures with two professionals and friends in the television and movie world, including becoming…drum roll…a producer at a brand new production company. Yep, you heard it here. More on this when I have bigger details to share.
In slightly different news, one of my publishers is going out of business and will be done by January 13. My story Comeuppance (featured in the Nightmares and Echoes III anthology) will be in limbo after that date until I fold it into my own horror anthology. Eclipse and Hostility will go back up on Amazon and other outlets probably by the end of the month. Many thanks to Jennifer Tover and Josh Hilden of Gorillas With Scissors Press for being honest, hard-working, and stand up people. Best of luck to them in all their future adventures.
Okay all! That’s it for today. Until next time, live, love and dream.
Gratitude is sometimes hard to cultivate, especially if you’re rolling with the punches, whatever those punches might be. I’ve been busy, busy the last few weeks, but it’s all pretty much been good stuff. Even though I have a million things to be grateful for, I’m like everyone else. Sometimes need to remind myself to do a check in and say, “Hey idiot, look at the amazing things you’ve got in your life!” Having an incredible writing career is very much one of the top spots in that gratitude list.
Like every writer at some point in time, I’ve had to jump through hoops and adapt. One of my more recent adaptations is creating more straight horror stories whether they are short stories or full-fledged novels. I’ve always enjoyed writing paranormal romance, but I realized that horror writing had grabbed me by the throat (pun intended) and was begging me to get more involved. (I recently joined Horror Writers Association as an example). Rather than strangling that desire, I am jumping in with both feet. I can tell that my creativity needs it.
So where am I going with this?
A writer, in order to survive the publishing world, has to be willing to adapt.
Over the last several months I’ve seen many authors say they’re quitting writing. Everyone has different reasons. For some it’s been as simple as transitioning into a new career they prefer or feel drawn to at this point in time. They may have been writing thirty years or twenty years and they feel there are other things they’d rather do now. If they can leave the writing career with absolutely no regrets, with a sense of “this is right” in their gut, I say more power to them. Some, though, aren’t feeling it is right in their guts. They aren’t relieved, calmed or settled. They’re profoundly sad and torn up.
Some are quitting because they are discouraged. They might be burned out and blocked. For those individuals they may need some time away from writing to recharge, reassess, and discover through self-analysis what is required to reboot their creativity. These people often come back to writing with a whole new energy, even if it is months later. Many have worked with me in my capacity as a creativity coach. I love helping them discover their way back to writing.
Then there are people who have stopped writing because at the end of the day, if they can’t get accolades, money, and significant recognition for their writing…well that’s the end game. They’re unhappy because they’ve been writing five years or ten years or even twenty and they haven’t become a NY Times best seller and they aren’t making much money. Or maybe they were a NY Times bestseller and they used to make money hand over fist. Just like anyone who used to make money in a career and no longer is, it is understandable they might feel disappointed and discouraged. Some of these writers will stop writing for a while and realize at some point they really were writing for more than money. But if you truly can’t and don’t want to write unless the bucks are rolling in, there is no shame in quitting.
I’d encourage you, though, to consider the fact that making a lot of cash in the writing world has never been guaranteed and has never been particularly easy. Learning to deal with that reality so that you can either move on to another career or to find a brand new way to keep writing in your life…that is paramount. Keep asking yourself why you started writing in the first place. If it was purely for fame and fortune so be it. If it is for the amazing love and satisfaction that can come from creating, and if that creation brings you a high, then maybe money isn’t your honest reason for doing this writing thing. Maybe it’s time to explore adaptation and discovering how to reboot that creativity and keep writing in your life.
Think about that.
Please welcome NY Times best seller Allison Brennan to my blog today as she talks about fear in small bites! Welcome Allison!
I’ve always loved short stories.
One of the first adult short stories I remember reading was And He Built a Crooked House by Robert Heinlein. I was probably 11 or 12, and I was fascinated by the concept of the tesseract collapsing into four dimensions. It was a bit freaky, but not wholly scary because they all survived. The same summer I read The Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury, about hunters in the future traveling back in time to kill a T-Rex dinosaur. The hunters are warned that they must stay on the path—one small change in the past can have cataclysmic changes in the future.
You might think because my earlier reading preferences that I would have written science fiction. While I have a desire to write a futuristic dystopian series that borders on SF, I still love my mysteries and suspense.
I also loved all the short stories I was “forced” to read in junior and high school. Flowers for Algernon? Loved. The Scarlet Letter? Wow. The Cask of Amontillado? Freaky! The Lottery? Terrifying!
A few years after glomming on SF shorts and reading for school, I read Stephen King’s THE STAND, his longest book at that point in his career. I fell in love with the master of horror, and read everything I could get my hands on … particularly his short stories.
For King, “short” can be anything from a few pages to a meaty novella. The Langoliers, for example—one of my favorites of his shorter works—is probably close to 70,000 words, a short novel. Others, like another fave of mine Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut might be 5,000 words, but just as delicious to devour.
Though I love King’s books, I have a particular affinity for his short stories. Not many authors write short stories anymore—at least not with regularity. There are still a few mystery magazines around (Ellery Queen, for example) and the digital age has resurrected novellas into cheaper, stand-alone stories. But the Golden Age of the short story passed before I even started writing.
For me, the short story is a bite-size tidbit that I can read in one sitting and be completely satisfied. If it’s a mystery, I want a puzzle to solve while watching my daughter’s soccer practice. If it’s science fiction, I want to think about the future and how what we do now might impact it. If it’s horror, I want to be scared. While this is true in full-length novels, it’s doubly important in a short story because the intensity level needs to start high and stay there for the duration.
Still, there are some genres that continue to thrive with truly short stories (under 15,000 words.) Mysteries, of course, as well as horror and science fiction. This is good for me, the reader. And challenging for me, the writer.
Writing short isn’t easy—at least not for me. While some writers find it hard to pen a 100,000 word novel, I find it hard to write a novel under 100,000 words!
The first short story I wrote was for an anthology edited by Lee Child, KILLER YEAR. It was supposed to be under 5,000 words. Mine clocked in at 6,200 – and that was edited down from over 8,000! When I had to write my first novella, my editor said 30,000 words … it ended up being just under 40,000.
But I forced myself to learn to write lean—and it’s helped with my books. Between full-length novels, I try to find the time – even if just a couple days – to write a short story. It sort of purges my palette, so I can go from one world to the next.
Her Lucky Day was just that kind of story. I wrote it for the Horror Writers Association anthology, BLOOD LITE II, and it was supposed to be “light” horror under 5,000 words. Guess what? Mine was 4,200! I actually came in under the maximum word count … a first for me.
I also have a novella coming out on October 27th! It had first been published in 2011, but hasn’t been available for the last two years. “Ghostly Justice” is part my Seven Deadly Sins series, book 2.5, and is my take on vampires. Trust me – there are no nice vampires in this story!
What about you? Do you enjoy short stories and novellas? What’s your favorite short story you read while in school? Recently?
If you’re interested in reading more about my Seven Deadly Sins series, I posted an SDS short ghost story on my blog.
BIO: Allison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen thrillers and numerous short stories. She lives in Northern California with her husband and five kids. Visit her website at http://allisonbrennan.com
Hey everyone. My bad! I said this would be up on Saturday and totally forgot I said I’d put it up. 🙂 Here’s the next part of Trapped.
She careened into the right turn lane and down the long off ramp that led to the gas station. Benson Hardy’s Gas Station and Convenience Store had been here fifty years, even though Benson Hardy had been dead the last thirty of them. Successive owners never changed the name. They’d tinkered with the building, made changes like adding a big trucker’s style bathroom and shower area. She screeched up next to a pump. Only one other pump was occupied by a nondescript black SUV with tinted windows. No one was at the pump with the vehicle. She jumped out and hurried toward the station with her purse slung over her shoulder. She had cash, a lot of it, and didn’t plan to pay with a credit card. That meant she had to go inside. She glanced back at the massive glow of red and yellow mixed with gray boiling along the top of the mountain as it devoured dead Spruce trees. She hated the trees being blackened and destroyed. She really hated that.
She pushed through the double glass doors. A man stood at the counter, back turned to her. Old Mick Bufford, current owner of the gas station, was helping the patron. She took in a few details about the customer. He was way taller than her five foot eight, and had dark hair cut military short. His ripped arms and broad back were well displayed by a form-fitting navy t-shirt. Trim-waisted, the man wore jeans that were tight enough to show off a nice rear, but certainly not enough to look as if he was purposefully displaying the facts. The cash register beeped as Bufford scanned a large bag of nuts and two bottles of water. The customer’s arms flexed as he reached into his back pocket for his wallet, and she noticed a tattoo inked onto his left bicep that looked Celtic.
“Damn fire is a bit close. You from town?” Bufford asked the man.
“Yeah.” The man’s voice had low, rumbling quality.
Bufford looked like he was examining the guy’s T-shirt. “Hey, Creed Hot Shots. You a firefighter?”
“Yeah, but maybe not much longer.”
The guy’s voice was liquid and deep. The type of voice that could get a girl into trouble if she was looking for it. Which she wasn’t. No, not for a long, long time after this mess. If ever again.
“Not much longer?” Bufford looked up at the man.
“They sent me packing.”
“Oh.” Bufford’s eyebrows went up, but he didn’t ask the man any more questions. Bufford smiled when he saw her. “Hey Arlie.”
She tossed him a weak smile, eager to just pay and leave. “Hey.”
The customer didn’t look around as he paid for his purchases. Bufford grabbed a plastic bag from under the counter and loaded it with the nuts, water, and a receipt. Before the man turned around, the sound of screeching tires made her look out the windows. Junior’s squad car had come to a crooked halt near the doors. Her body froze to the spot. Shit, shit, shit.
“What the hell?” Bufford said.
“It’s Junior Douglas.” Her tongue felt thick and as dry as cardboard. “Mr. Bufford…look I have a problem. I just left Junior back at my old place, and he wasn’t too happy.”
Instinctively she backed toward the counter, her heart slamming in her chest and her breath coming faster as fear spiked.
“Why’s that?” Bufford asked, surprise clear in his tone.
“It’s a long story,” Arlie said.
Junior’s enormous frame exited the squad car. The only thing she had going for her was witnesses. What could he do to her? He could arrest her, take her somewhere in the woods where no one would see him execute her. A wave of pure terror made her move back again, and she bumped right into a tall, hard body. The customer. His hands clamped on her upper shoulders.
Part 3 coming up Thursday.
Part 2 of Closure for your enjoyment!
She approached with caution, and as she stepped through the open gate, a breeze rattled aspen leaves. Pine needles rustled in the wind, and created a sound almost like a woman’s sigh. She stopped and glanced around. She was alone, just as she wanted. Pippa walked as near as she dared. Like Jason had said, the place was dangerous. But maybe it wasn’t just the hulking ruins that harbored danger; maybe it was the phantoms that lived here. She knew they lived here.
The sound of an engine startled her, and she swung around. A sheriff’s car pulled into the area and stopped next to her SUV. Great. She recognized Jason as he exited the vehicle and walked toward her. His face was a mask of disapproval. She’d be lucky if he didn’t write her a citation for trespassing, but she didn’t care.
When the deputy reached her, he planted his hands on his hips again. Tall, hot, and totally masculine, he embodied a true alpha male. Yet she didn’t fear him. Instead his presence eased her mind.
“What do you think you’re doing?” he asked. “Did you break the lock?”
“Of course not. I planned to stand outside the fence, but when I got here it was open.”
“It’s not safe up here.”
“So you said before.”
A gentle smile touched his mouth. “You in the habit of disobeying orders from law enforcement?”
She returned his grin. “No. I’ve never even had a speeding ticket Sgt. Hawkes.”
He hadn’t asked her to call him by his first name that night a year ago, but since she’d thought of him this way all along, she certainly didn’t have trouble calling him by his first name. “Jason. I suppose you’re going to ask me to leave now.”
A breeze rattled the chain link fence.
“No. I understand about PTSD. My father had a bad case of it after Operation Desert Storm. He had a lot of symptoms. Nightmares. Bad temper. The works. So I guess you could say I understand what it’s about even though I’ve never had it myself.”
Relief made her say, “Everyone responds a little bit differently to trauma.”
His brow furrowed. “What you experienced … it was bad. A nasty situation.”
She shook her head, and she rubbed her arms once more trying to banish the cold. The temperatures hovered around the upper forties, and with the cloud cover increasing, it would probably snow later tonight. She imagined the blackened, crumbled building with snow crusting the stonework.
She closed her eyes. “The fire did it to me. I never realized how afraid of it I was until it happened.”
She remembered rushing from the building with the other members of the team, horrified after they’d discovered a fellow paranormal investigator dead. The fire hissed, snapped, crackled in her ears even now, the heat building so fast. So fast. He touched her shoulder, and her eyes flew open as she gasped.
“Easy.” His voice rumbled softly as he cupped her shoulder and rubbed gently. “You all right?”
Next week, the end of Closure
Hey guys, here’s the first part of CLOSURE which is the last short story connected to my Asylum Trilogy. This story takes place in present day and has some spoilers in it since it takes place after the last book, Asylum III: Shadows Fall. Still, this is just a tiny romance and I hope you like it and pick up the whole trilogy!
One year after the tragic events at Tranquil View Condominiums, PTSD still holds paranormal investigator Pippa Collingwood in its grip. Perhaps with the help of sheriff’s deputy Jason Hawkes, she can find closure.
“I’m interested in the Tranquil View site,” Pippa Collingswood said to the receptionist at the front desk of the sheriff’s department offices. “I need to go there.”
The tall, older woman looked up at Pippa with skepticism written on her round face. “No one goes there.”
“Because it’s condemned and the corporation that owns it hasn’t done anything to the site.” The woman’s rough-edged voice held pure contempt for the idea. “Damn place is dangerous if you ask me. They’ve put a fence around it, but the teenagers keep getting in there trying to make some crazy Blair Witch type movies.
Pippa glanced at the woman’s nametag. “Connie, all I want to do is see the place. I’m hoping …” She drew in a deep breath. “I’m hoping it brings me some closure.”
Connie tossed her pen aside. A patient expression eased over her face. “Did you live there?”
Apprehension rose inside Pippa. She didn’t want to explain to a stranger, but what choice did she have if she wanted to visit Tranquil View? “No. I was on the paranormal investigation team that was up there when the place burned down last year.”
Connie’s eyebrows went up, and she tilted her head to the side. “Really?”
Connie’s attention went toward the office door, and Pippa followed the woman’s gaze. A tall, muscular man dressed in a sheriff’s department uniform stood in the entry. Jason Hawkes.
The khaki, long-sleeved shirt couldn’t hide the width of his shoulders, and Pippa knew all too well the power in his arms. Heat flooded her as his dark eyes caught and held hers. Recognition blossomed in the deputy’s expression. Pippa wondered if he remembered the night of the fire as well as she did, and the sparks that ignited between them.
“I wouldn’t advise anyone go up there for any reason,” the deputy said.
“I understand. I’m not one of the teenagers, and I don’t have any intentions of doing an investigation or a movie about the place. I just need to see the place.”
“Closure?” he asked as he moved into the room and stood near Pippa.
Didn’t the man have a sense of personal space? He stood too close, or maybe her body reacted too easily to memories of how it felt to have his arms around her.
“Deputy Hawkes, I don’t want to break the law. That’s why I came here to see what the proper procedure is to visit the place.”
“I do a check of the place now and again to make sure the fence is secure and some idiot kid hasn’t fallen into the ruins and hurt themselves,” he said. “But Steele Company doesn’t like people snooping around. The county also doesn’t want lawsuits.”
Frustration rose inside her. A cold sensation filled her center, and she buttoned up her long wool coat and tugged her sock hat down over her ears. “I’m not going to sue anyone.”
“Why are you back in Simple?” he asked.
What could she say without sounding like an idiot? She gave herself a moment and took in Jason’s disturbing presence—disturbing because her mind didn’t seem to want to work properly around him. Since he’d taken care of her the night of the fire, she hadn’t forgotten him and the compassion he’d shown her. Even if the deputy wasn’t the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen, Pippa couldn’t ignore the law enforcement command in his husky voice or the way he planted his hands on his hips. She dared meet his deep brown eyes, and her breath caught.
“I’m dealing with PTSD,” she said.
Although PTSD was better understood since the return of soldiers in recent years, people often reacted as if she’d grown a second head when she explained that she had PTSD. Jason’s gaze warmed, his rugged features softening. He pushed one hand through his short hair, but he didn’t say anything and the silence lengthened.
Pippa’s temper shortened, and she tried a deep breath to bring back her perspective. “Look, what if there was someone with me? I’ll head back to Denver and return with a friend. I won’t be alone.”
Connie chuckled. “Wouldn’t do that, either. The weather is supposed to go to hell in the next few hours.”
Pippa had seen the weather report. “I know. I’m staying at the Burns Inn in town. I figured I’d stay a few days, do a little shopping and relaxation.”
Jason crossed his arms over his chest. His gaze had returned to sharp and speculative, and she mourned the understanding and compassion she’d seen in his eyes moments before.
“As I said before, I advise against a visit up there,” he said.
Enough was enough. She wouldn’t get a satisfactory answer here. But she also wouldn’t give up. “All right. Sorry to have bothered both of you. Thank you for your help.”
Pippa hurried past the deputy, tears filling her eyes as emotions threatened to swamp her. She hated feeling this way, this out of control. She’d never been like this … until the fire. She understood her low threshold for frustration might have something to do with PTSD, and she’d talked with a therapist more than once. He’d suggested she return to Simple at some point and face her proverbial demons. She could face the monsters in her memories and her dreams if she saw the place that haunted her every day and every night.
Determination fueled her as she left the parking lot and headed back up Main Street. She didn’t take in much about the town as she drove toward Tranquil View. Simple had gone through an uproar after the condos had burned down. All she wanted was to learn how to clear her mind once and for all of the weird events of that night. Maybe she could even forget how it felt to be held in Jason’s arms. She shivered, but not in cold. She turned down the heat and pulled the sock hat off her hair. She pushed her fingers through her short blond curls. She felt out of sorts and edgy, and not only because she headed toward Tranquil View. Because she couldn’t afford to forget that night. Sure, she could banish memories of the fire, but then she’d also have to forget the comfort and the attraction she’d felt growing between her and Jason.
Forget it. He probably has.
Then again, maybe not. She could have sworn she saw memories in his eyes, as if he’d recalled the night with vivid clarity, and not just because of the tragedy. She shrugged it off. She’d visit Tranquil View, exorcise the demons in her head then go back to town for some shopping and relaxation. She had two days left on her vacation before it was back to her work as a legal assistant in Denver.
As she drove up the long road toward Tranquil View, her muscles tightened. She concentrated on taking one slow breath after another. Her iPod was plugged into the radio and played a podcast she listened to on a regular basis. The discussion on paranormal investigation distracted her. Whenever she drove anyplace these days she listened to a podcast and the PTSD symptoms lessened. Her heart beat in a slow and regular rhythm. Her breathing stayed smooth and slow. All is well.
When the long driveway up to Tranquil View appeared, she slowed the vehicle to make the turn and stopped. She inhaled another deep breath and another. Steady. You can do this. She forced her foot down on the gas pedal and continued up the tree lined hill until she reached chain link fencing. The huge fence circled the front of the property. Pippa parked and turned off the car. She stared at the burned out ruins of Tranquil View Condominiums. Hair on the back of her neck prickled as she looked through her windshield at the huge acreage of blackened buildings. She rubbed her arms and this time when she shivered, cold was a factor. She pulled on her sock hat and got out of the car. As she walked, she realized the gate on the fence hung wide open. What was the chance of that?
Part 2 coming up this weekend!