Wilde's Fire

The exciting first book of the Darkness Falls series!

Wilde's Army

The second installment of Darkness Falls.

Wilde's Meadow

The conclusion of Katriona and Arland's story.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I'm A Fighter

Three huge mounds of vanilla ice cream sat in my bowl, covered with thick, zig-zagging lines of chocolate syrup, waiting for me to devour them. I plopped onto the couch and stared at the wonderful goodness waiting to greet my stomach.

“Bet ya five bucks you can’t eat all that,” my big brother Kenny said, cheshire grin stretching up his face.

I spooned a heaping bite into my mouth, savoring the rich flavors. “You’re on.”

Kenny laughed and chatted quietly with my parents while I dug into my evening treat, full of excitement.

Bite after yummy bite slid down my throat, filling my seven-year-old stomach with more calories and sugar than any human should dare consume. Ignoring the growing ache, I continued eating. I was not one to back away from a challenge, not one to give up on five dollars. That was a lot of money.

“You doin’ okay over there?” Kenny asked, rubbing his chin.

Was he nervous? Giving up on that money was not in the cards for me; I hoped he knew it.

“I’m okay,” I said, holding up a dripping spoonful and eyeing it with disdain.

My oldest brother got up and stood behind me, then squeezed my shoulders. “You don’t have to eat it all.”

I took the bite, then another, and another, until all that was left was one last liquidy spoonful. My stomach gurgled, ice cream swimming all through it.

“I can’t believe she’s going to do it,” Mom whispered, leaning close to Dad.

“She’s stubborn,” he said.

Satisfaction rifled through me. I was stubborn, and I didn’t think there was anything wrong with that. I took the last bite and carried my bowl to the kitchen sink. When I returned to our cozy family room, I stood next to my brother, held out my hand, palm facing up, and said, “Where’s my five dollars?”

He reached into his pocket, took a crisp five-dollar bill from his wallet and passed it to me. “I didn’t think you’d finish that. I’m impressed.” Kenny laughed.

“Thank you,” I said in a singsong voice, then rushed to my room. Curling up in a ball on my bed, I cradled my churning tummy and closed my eyes. For the rest of the night I imagined what I’d do with that money, what I’d buy the next time my family made a shopping trip. I jittered as the sugar worked its way through my system, fidgeted with the hem of my lavender bedspread, tossed the blankets and sheets from me when I started to sweat, but it was all worth it because I won. I proved to my brother I wouldn’t give up.

I’m not sure what I did with that money, but I learned something about myself that day: I’m a fighter, always have been, always will be.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Wonderful Holiday

All the stress that goes into Christmas (shopping, wrapping, packing and shipping, shopping, shopping, and more shopping) sometime seem like a waste of time, but somewhere between when the family arrives, the exchanging of hugs, eating the food, and opening the presents, a weight lifts from my shoulders. I look around and see all the smiles. Laughter echoes off the walls, drowning out my exhausted thoughts with happiness. I don't mind that my feet and back ache from cooking and cleaning. I don't care about the pile of trash sitting in the garage because Waste Management decided not to pick up our garbage on Friday. In this moment of realization I’m not sure anything bad bothers me.

This is what Christmas is about: time spent together as a family.

My children will remember these holidays for the rest of their lives. They will tell their children stories of riding Kid #3’s Step 2 Coaster through my living room until they wore wheel prints in the carpet. Kid #2 will remember stealing so many cookies from the table before dinner that we didn’t even try to force her to eat her meal. Kid #1 will probably be working on his Lego Mindstorm robot for the rest of his life, so this Christmas will be forever engrained in his memory, too.

While you’re busy feeling like this image of Santa, just reflect on all the special memories made this year. That’s what I’ll be doing. Hope everyone had a great holiday. Would LOVE to hear your stories.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Time's Running Out

“Mommy, is tomorrow Christmas Eve?” Kid #2 asked, batting her lashes over her big, brown eyes.

Kid #1 ran into the kitchen and slid across the floor like Tom Cruise in Risky Business--but with his pants on. “Tomorrow is Christmas Eve Eve.”

“Huh?” She tilted her head to the side and scowled at Kid #1 like he was out of his mind.

I laughed and made another cup of coffee. The countdown had begun, and I needed more caffeine if I planned to survive.


Two days until Christmas and I have yet to buy groceries, vacuum, wrap, sign cards, or . . . gosh I’m sure there’s something else I’m forgetting. Oh well, it’ll come to me.

So many times today while I pulled out my hair organized and prepared for the festivities, I paused and asked myself if I should just tell everyone I'm sick why we stress over something so simple, so wonderful, as getting ready for a family visit.

Will they care if dust bunnies roll across the floor when they enter our home? Will they mind if there’s a fine layer of white dust covering all my furniture? They probably don’t mind, but I’m not going to give them the opportunity to notice any of those things.


I’m such a clean freak.

Tape! That's what I forgot. Tape. Well, I have to run out in the pouring rain now.

Make sure you take time to relax during this crazy holiday season, and make sure you enjoy the time with your family. That's all that matters. Smiling and laughing with the people you love.

Merry Christmas Eve Eve Eve. :-)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Well if last week's countdown didn't freak you out, this one will. There are SEVEN days until Christmas. Eeep. I hope you've all completed your shopping by now. I haven't...despite my efforts. Sigh.

I appreciate you stopping by and leaving comments...every Sunday is like Christmas with the Six Sunday visitors!


~He kneels until we’re eye level, holding me with his gaze. "Have you had waking dreams before?"

"Y-yes. The first time was a couple days before we arrived here."

He wraps his powerful arms around me, trying to make me feel better, but the tears continue to flow. "We are not going to die."~

To read other Six Sunday greatness, click here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Christmas Punishment

For months I’d seen commercials exhibiting her beauty: cream colored skin with all the right make-up and a snow-white dress with fur wrapped hems and glittering undergarments. I had to have the Holiday Barbie, and in a bad way.

Every Christmas list I wrote included her name. Every daydream involved stellar weddings between her and my most handsome Ken doll. I outfitted him with a tux well ahead of their meeting so when the special day came he’d be ready.

My anticipation grew as the fateful day of her arrival drew near, sending my mind in whirling directions. What if Mom and Dad couldn’t afford Holiday Barbie? What if they didn’t think I deserved her? Did I tell them she’s all I wanted, all I cared about?

Walking home from school, I gathered my coat in under my chin to block out the cold breeze.

“Holiday Barbie’s fur would be so warm . . . .” A light bulb flashed in my head. Christmas was only a week away. Mom and Dad’s shopping would be complete. “What if . . . she’s already in the house!”

I ran the rest of the way home, pulling the key from under my shirt along the way. Being home alone for an hour or two before my parents arrived had advantages. I fumbled with the lock then dropped my book bag as soon as I stepped inside.

“Where would they hide presents?” Looking around, I realized they wouldn’t be in the open. Closets . . . that’s where I hid everything.

I rushed to the end of the hall and burst through the door into my parent’s room. Pushing their wooden chest toward the closet, I considered the trouble I’d get in if they found me, and ignored it.

“Blankets. Pillows. Shoe boxes. Nothing.” Disappointment rifled through me. Ready to give up, I stepped down from the make-shift ladder and accidentally brought one of the blankets down, too. There, behind the remaining blankets and pillows, was Holiday Barbie. Her white box with pink writing, the metallic-red foil backdrop behind her brilliant-white dress, and her curly hair were like magic to my eyes.


My parents remembered. They’d paid attention!

Hands shaking, I resisted the urge to take her out of the box and replaced the blanket to its rightful spot. Once the room was back to normal and I was satisfied, I left to do my homework.

But something else crept into my thoughts as I added and subtracted ridiculously small numbers: Guilt. How would I hide the fact I knew what they bought me? My reaction to unwrapping Holiday Barbie needed to be huge or else they’d be upset after all the nagging I did. How could I do that? Why did I do that?

This feeling refused to leave me, refused to let me force it into the recess of my mind. Frustration and anxiety coursed through me all the way to Christmas morning, and when I opened the gift I wasn’t as excited as I should have been.

I cried, then proceeded to tell them what I’d done.

Mom and Dad didn’t take her away from me, and they didn’t yell or scream at me for hours. I’m pretty sure they knew the guilt and regret I felt was punishment enough.

And it was.

I swore never to go snooping again.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesday Teaser with a Tune

How’s that title for alliteration? So I thought I’d try something a little different this week (and maybe in weeks to come). On Sundays I post six lines from my first novel (soon to be published, visit my site for more details), but I’m thinking maybe I can make Tuesdays a day to share from my current novel. Yes, they are from the same series, but I won’t post anything that spoils all the fun . . . just tidbits I feel confident and happy with . . . and the inspiration for that segment.

Oh dear, I said inspiration.

I once guest blogged with Derek Flynn about how Music is My Muse. When I’m writing deep, dark scenes—or light, fun ones—you can be sure I’m listening to music.

There’s a horrific battle scene in Wilde’s Meadow that I am still tweaking, but am insanely happy with. The music I listened to (on repeat) while writing this is by Great Northern. The song is Numbers. Enjoy . . . and I hope you enjoy the tidbit.

~The creature [hound] lunges at Perth and lands just shy of taking a bite out of his ankle. Arland drives his sword into the beast, yanks out the bloody iron, then spins around on his heel and slices the head off a coscartha. The daemon’s dead, hollow eyes stare at me. Blood covers the sleeve of Brit’s left arm, but I can’t tell if it’s hers or another creature's. Flanna stands with her back to my sister, eyes flitting in all directions, breathing heavily, then releases an arrow into a tairb. The four of them are trapped in the center of thousands of daemons. Our allies are stuck on the outside, fighting desperately to get to my family. We need to use magic, and we need to use it fast.

"Look at them, Katriona." Dughbal's hot breath burns my ear. "They will all die because of you."

My mouth fills with the salty fluids always preceding throw up. I swallow, praying I don't lose control now. "No, if they die, they die because of you."

He wraps his hands around my throat and squeezes, but not enough to strangle me, just enough to make me strain for air, to make me wish his hands would catch fire. "I could kill you now, but the boy’s soul yearns for your safety. He knows not of your betrayal...."

Well, I can't share the rest of that line with you or I'll give way too much away. So, hope you enjoyed Tuesday's Teaser with a Tune. :-)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Can you believe it's Sunday again? And there are . . . hang on let me count . . . fourteen (14) days until Christmas. Have you done your shopping yet? That's where I am today, so if I don't respond to your comments, please know I love you and appreciate the time you take to visit me. :-)

Now without further annoying commentary by me, I give you my six.


~“W-what i-if she’s a shifter?”

He peels my fingers from his forearm and takes me by the hand. “She is not a shifter.”

“But how do you know? You said—”

“I know what I said, and we also know how to tell if our animals have been infected.~

To read more Six Sunday greatness, click here!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Funny

Kid #3 faked me out Wednesday. She wailed and screamed and wouldn't walk. So I did what any good mother would do and ignored her rushed her to the hospital. It was POURING out. The roads were flooded and my ears were ringing from her high-pitched cries, but I pressed on. The triage nurse took all Kid #3's vital signs then said our wait could be a few hours. CRAP! But the baby was sick, so there I sat.

After about an hour in the waiting room, her wails turned to laughter. She wanted to get up and run around. She sang her favorite song, Hello (if you've never heard it, I suggest checking it out...FUN), she squealed and smiled . . . and I thought "What the heck?!"

So we signed her out and went home. She's been fine since.

Little trickster!

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Divorce Court

In the evenings my husband and I watch a string of courtroom television. I’m not sure whether our enjoyment of the nightly trash is to make ourselves feel better or worse. Half of me can’t believe people like that exist. You know what I’m talking about, the kind of people who destroy others’ property and act like it’s no big deal, the kind that beats each other and fights over petty amounts of money.

The cringe-worthy experience is good for the children too. We get to explain why one person is right or wrong and what not to do as a grown human being. Sometimes the topics go way over their heads, driving the kids to boredom and eventually to their toys. I don’t mind those times either.

We were sitting around the dinner table last night when Kid #1 peeled off a piece of his bread and held it in his fingers, ready to pop the yummy goodness in his mouth, then turned and looked at me. “Mommy, when people are married and don’t want to be married anymore, why do they have to go to a judge?”

Crap. Explanation time. Think quick, Krystal, think quick. “Well . . . .” Do I really want to tell him because people are immature and stupid and can’t agree on anything? “Well, because you are married by law. So the law has to unmarry you.”

He nodded then went back to eating.

That was easy.

Kid #1 stopped before taking another bite. “Why do they fight about it though?”

Not as easy as I thought. “When you’re married you buy things together. You share money. You have kids. These things don’t change because two people don’t want to live together anymore. People have a hard time making choices, so a judge has to help decide who gets what.”

Kid #2, looking for any excuse she could find not to eat, perked up, brown eyes wide and a smile on her face. “Who will I marry?”

No one! “That’s a discussion for when you’re thirty, Abby.”

She smiled, melting my heart with her innocence. “Will I marry Ethan?”

“Eww! No!” Kid #1 piped in.

“You don’t marry your brothers, sisters, parents, cousins, or anything like that.”

Kid #2 bounced in her chair. “Will I marry Jaden?”

Not if I have anything to say about it. That little boy has a major crush on my daughter. Might have to have a discussion with his wonderful parents. “Probably not, but it’s possible . . . when you’re thirty.”

She giggled and Kid #1 cringed. It’s funny how boys and girls view marriage differently. Kid #2’s question sidetracked the original intent of the conversation—thank God—and we finished our meals in peace.

So does anyone else have any nightly rituals that spark funny conversations with your kids? I’d love to hear about them.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Every week I find it's harder and harder to make a decision on what to share with you all. I hope you'll enjoy today's snippet. I feel it will "reveal" some fantasy aspects of my soon-to-be-published novel.


~“We are here.”

“Where?” He must be joking. We haven’t even gone through the base and there’s nothing in front of us but trees and Darkness.

“Nochtann,” Arland whispers, waving his hand in front of him.

Two large wooden doors appear before us, adorned by intricate carvings of ivy with jasmine flowers blooming all over.~

To read other awesome authors who participate in the Six, click here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Funny--Or Weird

Every week I review the search terms people used to land on my blog. Most of the time people use my name, or a post title, but this week there was a special search: Delete K R Y S T A L. Frankly I was appalled. Who would want to delete me? And what did I ever do to them? Geesh! A quick google of the exact same search terms revealed I was seventh in the list of delete K R Y S T A L's. I couldn't find anything standing out I thought this person was searching for.

So should I be upset? Was someone looking for a way to off me? Did I infuriate a blog reader?

I guess I'll never know, but it will go down in history as the strangest blog hit ever.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

When I See You . . .

When I see you, my car is warm, comfortable, full of music and life.

When I see you, I’m waiting at the last red light before arriving at work.

When I see you stand on the corner of 2nd and E, arms wrapped around your frail frame, I imagine how cold or hot you must be.

When I see you, some days your clothes are tattered and ill fitting and others you appear to have been first in line at Goodwill hand outs.

When I see you, I tell myself to be a better person, to bring you lunch, to have a conversation with you . . . to help.

Then the light turns green, and I forget.

When I see you again, my eyes fill with tears, my heart squeezes in my chest. I forgot about you yesterday, forgot to bring you a sandwich, forgot to offer you a short story . . . forgot to be a good person.

When I see you, I imagine the life you must have lived, how you came to stake claim on this small corner right outside the shelter in Washington, D.C.

When I see you, I wonder if you have family, friends, or anything to “return” to.

Then the light turns green, and I forget.

I saw you this morning, you were smiling, hugging two women, talking. I cried. I forgot about you again. Someone else was the good person I should have been, someone else asked you about your life, someone else worried about your well being while I only worried about getting to work on time.

When I see you, I’m going to give you this letter.

When I see you, I hope God blesses you and provides you comfort.

When I see you, I hope to be witness to your smile.

It’s beautiful . . . just like you.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What Was I Thinking?

Christmas lights were tested and more were purchased. We had a sitter for Kid #3, and kid #2 was ready to help decorate the house for holidays. I ventured into our garage, past my car and the set of four-wheelers, and grabbed the tallest ladder I could find.

For whatever reason, all the aluminum death traps leaned against the wall in front of my Jetta. I took my time and maneuvered between my baby and my son’s four-wheeler—I’m sure he considers that his baby, too—so not to scratch any paint. When the top of the ladder bumped into the garage door, I realized I had to lay the stupid thing horizontally to get outside.

Turning the corner, I carried the ladder up the sidewalk, proud I’d done this myself—really, it’s the least someone with an insane fear of heights can do for her husband. After depositing the tool by the porch, I went through the garage and inside the house to let him know I was ready to support him, but he was nowhere to be found.

Sunlight beamed through the big window in the top story of our foyer as I entered. Through the narrow windows on either side of our front door, I saw him and his mother outside with another ladder.

I joined them on our porch and looked around, excited at the prospect of a beautifully lit house.

“You ready to go up?” my husband asked, holding a string of white and blue Christmas lights.

Is he nuts? When my husband and I discussed decorating, I didn’t think he wanted me to go on the roof with him. I cringe when the kids ask to go on a Ferris-Wheel. I plaster myself to the inside wall of imitation Eiffel Towers at theme parks. My hands sweat just thinking about climbing a tree. He knows I’m afraid of heights; we’ve known each other for over ten years.

“You want me up there with you?” I asked, trying to hide the fear in my tone; kid #2 was watching with big, I-will-act-however-you-act-Mom eyes.

He nodded.

“Okay,” I said, wishing like hell I could call one of his buddies and have them come over to help.

At our old house I never had to assist with decorations. It wasn’t nearly as tall, wasn’t nearly the large project our new home is. Before I had time to talk myself out of it, I was following my dear husband up the ladder, cold aluminum chilling my hands. Each rung climbed was another step closer to death—or at least some severely injured organs or broken bones.

Once I was on the first roof, I didn’t feel so bad . . . until I looked up and understood he had to climb yet another ladder to reach the highest peaks. I put some plastic hooks in my pocket, supported the additional ladder with all my body weight, gripping the damned thing for dear life. If he fell, I’d fall. And if he fell, he’d go all the way down. We’d both die. The kids would be orphans. What would happen to the dogs? Do we have a living will?

I pushed harder and harder, avoiding any eye contact with what he was doing above me, avoiding a glance at the ground, avoiding taking a breath. My fear must have rolled off me in waves and whimpers because my fearless husband kept giving me instructions in case he fell. He hollered for kid #2 to stay away from the portion of the roof we were on. Was he scared too?

“Got it,” he said, relief flooding his voice. “I’m coming down.”

I moved to the side, keeping my shoe propped against the foot of the ladder, and took a deep breath when he was safe on the first roof with me. Hands sweating profusely, my body shook with fear. There was no way I would be able to crawl down to the ground.

Whipping my cell phone out of my back pocket, I called my mother-in-law.


I sighed. “Can you open Clarissa’s window? I can’t go down a ladder right now.”

She laughed and said she’d be right there.

When that window opened, I practically ran to it.

“Don’t run on the roof,” my husband yelled.

Too late, I was already inside . . . on level, carpeted, safe flooring—yet only half the house was finished. Luckily the next part could be done from a ladder propped on the dirt. We managed to string up the lights in a matter of minutes, and I have to admit, they’re beautiful.

But next time he’s going to have to find someone else to help him.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Choosing this week's six was not easy, but with a little help from a friend (you know who you are) the decision has been made.


~What am I supposed to do here? This world may be where I came from, but it doesn’t feel like my own. Somehow I’m supposed to fight Darkness for these people and I’ve never so much as punched a person. I miss Brit. If she were here I’m sure she would love the opportunity to save the world. Scratch that, I’m glad she isn’t here.~

To discover other great authors who participate in Six Sunday, click here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Dress

I spotted my prize casually draped over an all-too-perfect-mannequin in the store window. My heart fluttered and my hands chilled. The dress with the scooped-neck had to be mine. I recognized the relentless desire the second we walked past NY&CO. Like the black and pink striped fabric was tethered to my soul. An all too familiar feeling I get when I see the one.

My husband spotted me staring as though the cutest puppy in the world was inside that store. “Go ahead. I’ll take the girls to the playground.”

Attempting to hide my enthusiasm, I bit my bottom lip and forced myself to walk—not run—through the doors. My mother-in-law trailed behind and browsed the racks, trying to find things I might not pick up on my own.

I refused to grab the dress just yet, refused to try it on. Consolation prizes must be picked out first; otherwise disappointment would be the only thing I left the store with. A pair of khaki slacks, a gray t-shirt, a purple blouse, a shrug—these are a few of the things I loaded my arms with, and then I ventured over to the dress. It looked so perfect on the mannequin, so me. Sifting through the hangars, I spotted one my size and ran back to the dressing room.

The slacks were nice, the shrug, the blouse . . . together they made a great ensemble.


Standing in the cold stall with the white tile floors and white walls, I removed the dress from the hangar then slid the silky material over my head.

It. Was. Horrible. Like I wouldn’t even come out of the dressing room horrible. Ugh. The one turned out to be a nightmare. Just like always. Shaking my head and feeling like I must have the worst body shape out of any woman in the world, I redressed and stomped out toward my mother-in-law.

“It didn’t fit, but the other outfit was nice,” I said, feeling as if someone cut my heartstrings.

She gave me a knowing smile, eyes radiating with kindness, and held up a tan little number with a v-neck and a professional, classy air to it. “What about this one?”

My shoulders slumped. “It’s . . . it’s just not . . . .”

“Just try it on. It would be a really nice dress for any author events you may have.” She pushed the dress into my arms and snagged the ill-fitted one from me.

Her faith in my writing career is unbelievable! “Okay.”

Back in the cold stall, I dropped my purse on the white corner bench and stared at myself in the mirror. This dress had no color, no vibrant hues expressing my happy interior. Actually the fabric matched my current state of mind perfectly. I wiggled out of my jeans and shirt then slipped the dress over my head.

A perfect fit. The tan accentuated the warm, chocolate and caramel hues in my hair. Made my brown eyes stand out against the paleness of my skin. It really made me stand out, rather than hide behind a bunch of bright colors.

But I didn’t have any author-y events. Didn’t have a need for a dress like this. No matter how beautiful it was. I took it off, replaced it on the hangar, adorned myself in my own plain clothes and ventured toward the rack.

“You didn’t like it?” my MIL asked.

“I loved it, but I don’t have author events. And this isn’t a dress I can wear all the time. I have kids to chase. Bending over to pick up a baby is not exactly something I can do while in something this short.” The metal hangar screeched as I returned it to the rack. “And it’s too much money to spend on something I’ll never wear.”

She sighed. “You know it’s not about the money. You will have author events, and this will be the perfect outfit for you. I’ll buy it.”

I stopped walking toward the register with my consolation prizes. “I can’t let you do that.”

“You deserve the dress. You like the dress. Something will come up someday soon where you’ll be able to wear it.”

Smiling and feeling like the luckiest girl alive, I said, “Thank you.”

I walked from the store, bag in hand, hoping she was right about someday soon, and hoping to God it was for author-y stuff.

~ As many of you know, my book was accepted by a publisher. Sunday I had professional head shots taken by my photographer friend, and that little tan number was one of my outfits. Thank God for wonderful mother-in-laws who never lose faith. ~

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Last week was a hit with Kate's honest expression of her feelings, but this week I wanted to share something with you all that shows a different side of her story. Pain.

I don't usually set-up my six, but this needs it. Kate has been told people recreate painful scenes from their lives on the walls . . . Enjoy.

~I walk over to the walls—running my hands across them as I did inside—inspecting some of the distressed art. One in particular stands out more than the others. A woman is impaled in her chest by a stake driven into the ground, a child with a sword in his hand curled at her feet. A dead monster lies next to them both. My hands shake. The person who experienced his mother’s tragic death in such a dreadful way is the one who must have drawn this.~

To see other contributors to the wonderful weekend reading site that is Six Sunday, click here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Funny

As many of you are aware it's been a happy week in my household. My book was accepted by the publisher, I created a new website (For those who missed the update . . . www.krystal-wade.com), there have been lots of other happy things, but those are the only ones you should be interseted in. That's right, folks, Wilde's Fire is going to be available for you to READ!

Now since I have so much FREE time on my hands (HA! HA, HA, HA!) I created this strip to commemorate my exciting moment in the spotlight. I hope you'll all help me make this book a best-seller! And I hope you'll all be drooling for Wilde's Army!

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Snakes and Lakes

My best friend Michelle lived in a lakeside community where winding roads were made from white gravel. Tires kicked up dust as cars sped down the precarious lanes. Trees were sparse, anything green sparser. The grass was covered in a fine layer of gray, remnants of weeks worth of travelers. Only when the rains came did everything gleam anew.

And falling H2O was not present this day.

Michelle and I walked down these roads, passing boarded up homes, barking dogs, drunken neighbors, and the occasional dead animal. Blue skies stretched endless across the Texas sky. Our conversation ranged from simple schoolgirl gossip to more serious issues like our parents and siblings. We shared everything. We laughed. And then we met up with some friends.

“Who wants to go for a swim?” her boyfriend Chad asked, grin stretching ear to ear.

My partner in all things looked at me and winked. “We do!”

Chad glanced from Michelle to me to his buddy Randy. “Meet us at the boat ramp in half an hour.”

Randy was a cute kid with dark blond hair, dimples and a boyish look that made him appear off limits. He was a year younger than us, and when you’re twelve, one year makes a huge difference.

Locking arms with Michelle, we bounced back to her house and changed then ran for the boat ramp. We dropped our towels on the weathered brick seawall and stripped down to our bathing suits. The boys were already in the water, laughing and splashing about, and we wanted in on the fun.

Lake Tawakoni’s murky, rust colored waves lapped against the concrete ramp. Michelle and I ran into the water, ignoring the pain from the sharp rocks under our bare feet, and launched into a game of Marco Polo. We lost repeatedly to Chad and Randy who swore they weren’t peeking, but it was fun either way.

I climbed on Randy’s sun-kissed shoulders and Michelle climbed on Chad’s, then my best friend and I tried knocking each other down. We grabbed each other’s wrists and pushed and pulled . . . and both ended up in the water.

I stood up, laughing and gasping for air.

Randy flashed his cute little smile at me then looked at Michelle and Chad. “Time for a break?”

Everyone nodded in agreement and I just stood there for awhile, staring out toward the horizon, where the water appeared to meet the sky, skimming my fingers over the surface of the lake.

Nature has always amazed me.

Randy swam closer to where I waded, making my heart-that-knew-better-than-to-rush do just that. He was cute, but . . . .

My stomach jolted by the touch of something sliding around me. I looked down into the dark water and saw a snake wrapping itself around my waist. My heart stopped rushing, and skidded to an abrupt halt. I gasped and, without thinking, reached for the slithering creature, grabbed it, received a nice bite on my lower back, and flung it away from myself.

Screaming, I abandoned the water in search of safe, dry land. When I turned around to check for the others, I saw Chad flinging the snake away from Michelle—some friend I was, sending the snake right at her—then the two of them ran out of the lake as well.

She was mad, but her scowl faded when she reached me. “You’re bleeding.”

I sucked in a sharp breath, afraid to look, afraid to see just how much blood was on me. “Is it bad?” I asked, imagining a long ride to the hospital.

Randy knelt behind me and pressed his hand against my stinging flesh. “Not bad.”

Looking over my shoulder, I saw the spot on my back with two holes in it, saw the blood mixed with bacteria riddled water seeping down my body, and felt woozy. “W-Was it p-p-poisonous?”

Before anyone had a chance to respond, the world around me faded in and out, my head spun, my legs felt disconnected from the rest of me and I blacked out.

“Krystal? Oh my God, Krystal! Wake up.” Michelle shook my arms, repeating my name over and over.

Opening my eyes, I stared up into Michelle’s angelic face. “I’m okay.”

Really I felt fine. My heart was still beating. There wasn’t any pain coursing through me. My bite could be compared to a brush burn. The biggest problem I faced was embarrassment. I passed out from fear. Who could live that down?

Randy took my hand and helped me up. “We’ll walk you guys home.”

Michelle smiled and laced fingers with Chad, and I kept my head down while Randy kept my towel pressed to my back, and we all walked to Michelle’s house.

The boys departed once we got to her door, then my friend turned to me, wearing a huge grin. “He likes you.”

Embarrassment heated my face, chest, arms and legs, and I thought I’d pass out for the second time that day, but I took a deep breath, smiled then said, “I know.”

We plopped down on her couch, and I wondered if the guys would tell everyone at school about what happened or if they’d keep it a secret. Michelle spent hours trying to convince me age didn’t matter, but at the end of the day I was just me. A simple girl having a good time with her best friend, confused about boys, embarrassed about snakes and boys, and wondering if it all mattered.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

For those who ventured over here last week and found I hadn't updated anything, I'm sorry. I was out of town, but now I'm back and hopefully have provided you with some amazing six sentence content.

This isn't a continuation from the exact place we left off, but it is in the same chapter.


~“What did we do in these dreams?”

I stare at my hands, afraid to meet his eyes again—afraid he’ll laugh me out of the room, but I might as well lay it all on the line. If this is a dream it won’t matter, but if it’s real, well, he’ll know what he’s done to me. “We’ve fought side-by-side, worried for one another, laid in bed together for days, kissed passionately and loved each other deeper than could ever be true in reality. I’ve also seen you die dozens of different ways and found myself alone and broken each and every time. You are the only man I’ve ever loved with my whole heart.”~

To visit other Six Sunday participants, click here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Guest Blog: Kelly Gamble

Twitter should be considered an author's match making service. Not for dates (although I'm sure they occur, too), but for friendship with like minded people. Kelly and I met through the 140 character limit social networking site, and her friendship and writing expertise has helped me greatly. Hopefully she feels the same way about me. I asked Kelly to write a guest post and gave her creative freedom, and she wrote this, saying this is what my blog makes her think about. So enough about me, I give you Kelly....

'Home' is a Small Town in Kansas

Living in Las Vegas, where most of the people are 'imports' from somewhere else, a question that comes up a lot is 'Where are you from?' This has always been a difficult question for me, because I have lived in a lot of different places. I attended twenty-two different schools before I graduated from high school, and if I include college, I am currently enrolled in school number twenty-nine. Yes, it is amazing I have learned anything at all.

Moving so much as a child did have its advantages. When you are always the 'new kid' you have two choices: either live in a cocoon or learn to make friends quickly. My brothers and I were not much for cocoons, so we tended to follow the second path. As adults, we often joke that we can walk in a crowded room and between us, know everyone in a matter of minutes.

I'm not complaining about my childhood--it was what it was. But the thing I feel was most missing was that sense of 'home' we all develop. That sense of being 'from' a place in this world. The idea we 'belong' to a piece of land, or a community, and no matter how far we travel, there is always that place called Home.

I was born in a small town--Baxter Springs, Kansas. It sits in the southeast corner of the state, on the historic Route 66, just miles from the Missouri and Oklahoma state line. There is a large sign, just as you cross the Spring River leading into town that boasts 'the First Cowtown in Kansas'. I lived there until I was three and after moving, spent summers there at my grandparents house. I returned when I was twelve for three more years. It's quite a bit different from the other places I had lived as a child, being mostly a 'city' girl. And, as an adult, I have lived, again, in nothing but large cities. But it is this small town that I call home.


It is in this town that I lived the memories that most make me smile--and the ones that most haunt me. It is there I met friends that I have managed to keep my entire life--my 'childhood' friends. It is there I first swam in a creek, had my first crush and first learned to ride an old horse named 'Tex'. Although I am far from a country girl, I was comfortable there. It became 'my' place--the people, the schools, the river. And although I don't visit very often, I know it is the one place in this world I could go, cross that bridge and be welcomed.

I think in defining home, it isn't a matter of where you were born, or where you have lived the longest. I think it is the idea of where your mind goes when you are feeling sad--that comfort place. Where you are when you have a pleasant memory, where you have cried and laughed, loved and lost, made good choices and bad. It is where you have most lived, not based on time, but on experience. It is that place that may make you crazy at times, but you still know you can find your way to the Street Car Bridge and still know you can always find a friend.

So when someone I meet asks me 'Where are you from?', I have a standard response. I've been in Las Vegas for seventeen years, so I guess this is where I am now from. But 'home' is a small town in southeast Kansas.

Kelly Stone Gamble is a freelance writer and author of Ragtown, a historical novel set during the building of the Hoover Dam. Visit her blog or on twitter @KellySGamble

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What's That Smell?

I wanted to roll down the windows, spray Lysol, or better yet, kick the slug out of my car. (For information on what a slug is, click here.) My stomach is made of figurative steel. My gag reflex is almost non-existent. But body odor-coughing-bad breath scented with Halls-newspaper reading-cell phone ringing constantly-moaning when he fell asleep GUY nearly caused me to lose my lunch while driving down I-95 yesterday evening.

Compassion is one of my better qualities. I understand we all have bad days. Sometimes we wake up late and there’s no time for a shower. We can’t help getting sick. Bad breath is a disease some of us can’t control. Snoring or moaning while we sleep is involuntary. And for crying out loud, we all like to read and play with our cell phones. But somehow with all these things combined, the man had to know he was annoying.

I considered the window and the fresh cool air being wasted outside my car, but decided this overweight-dressed-in-sweats man might take offense. Scrunching my nose, I beared it—without the grin—dropped the car to fourth gear and punched the gas.

Getting home quickly was of the utmost importance.

Turning up the music, I tried drowning out my woes with thoughts of my novels, with images that usually have a calming effect on me. But another annoyance greeted my ears and the music faded away, the beautiful scenes of my book’s characters disappeared.

A sound much like someone rubbing their arms when they’re cold grew louder and more fervent.

Was there a bug? Was my jacket hanging from the bottom of the car door, dragging on the ground? Was someone listening to some crazy music on their iPod way too loud?

Sure the sound was coming from the back seat, I glanced over my shoulder. A well dressed, middle aged man was shaking his leg in the most anxious of ways. I have a feeling he must have been struggling to maintain composure.

I was struggling to maintain composure.

Front seat monster was now talking on his cell phone.

My partner in misery and I shared a look, a look that said we were in this together till the end and if we ever saw chubby again, he wasn’t getting a ride with either of us.

Clicking my volume control on the steering wheel, I said screw the slugging etiquette. No one else seemed to care.

Approaching the end of the HOV lanes, I cringed. There’s a dump just off the highway, and lately it’s smelled of rotting eggs. Honestly I’d like to know if the trash has gone toxic, but I figured it couldn’t be any worse than the man next to me.

Wrong. I was wrong. All the scents combined had my stomach turning in on itself. Worse yet, traffic stopped.

I turned the music up louder, legs shaking as rapidly as the man’s in the back seat, tried holding my breath, tried to think of home and the new Yankee candle plug-in I bought, tried to imagine my future rise to fame. Hah! None of that worked, but still, my stomach held its contents.

We inched along I-95. The sun was well below the horizon, leaving only a faint blue light at the edge of earth. The time change sucks, and this ride sucked more. Occasional whimpering moans had me staring at my slug and making funny faces at him. A couple times the man in the back snickered, but his finding humor didn’t work for me.

My attempt to quickly get home failed.

Another thirty minutes passed as we crawled the last five miles to our exit. Thirty miserable, breathless, uneasy minutes.

A bright-green rectangle outlined in white with Exit 143B marked on it relaxed my nerves. Almost there. We took the exit and managed to hit every light leading to the commuter lot, but once I pulled up to the drop off point and unlocked the doors, I didn’t care any more.

“Thanks,” they both muttered, opening their doors and stepping out of my insanely stank filled vehicle.

“Have a good one,” I said, rolling down the windows.

I drove off breathing non-toxic air for the first time in an hour and a half. The slugging system makes getting to and from work easier, faster paced, more bearable. But for just this once, I think I would have preferred being alone.

Faster is not always better.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Catching Up

We set out on our journey at five in the morning. The stars poked through the night sky so bright it was as though no darkness existed above. Our breath floated in white clouds around us until the truck warmed.

My three beautiful children closed their eyes and returned to sleep, leaving my husband and me with quiet time. A rare occasion. We chatted a bit about the drive, about where we’d like to stop, and what we’d like to do for fun before venturing onto the second part of our trip.

Then we passed through our favorite part of Virginia, a place which earns a scene or two in my book, a place that captured my attention even before the sun came up: Albermarle. A two-lane road winds through the rolling hills of the horse farms. Towering trees line the shoulders. Black and white estate fencing borders the countless acres of green pastures. Occasional white street lights provided the only clue of the Blue Ridge Mountains' existence in the background.

I daydreamed about the characters from my book and where their story is going, then I fell asleep, too.

I love my husband. Sometimes his endurance amazes me—okay, all the time he amazes me—and he chauffeured us all the way to Nashville, Tennessee without batting an eyelash. He grumbled a bit at the billion bathroom stops for the girls, at the recklessness of other drivers, at the fact I read three books while he drove, at our perpetual napping, and definitely at the fighting children in the backseat . . . but he got us there.


(So, honey, if you’re reading this. I love you. Thank you. And thank you again for doing the same thing the following day and for the two-legs of the trip on the way back. You don’t get enough credit. Today my blog is dedicated to you.)

Our time in Mt. Magazine, Arkansas was wonderful. We were surrounded by family and friends. My children spent some much needed time with their aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins, and I spent some time with the same people—they just have different names for me. Mom. Dad. Brother. Sister. Nephews….

Mt. Magazine is gorgeous. The highest point in the state overlooks valleys full of farm lands and lakes. The sun created a mirror out of the water and made the cow pastures and corn fields look like something only an artist could have painted. The sistering mountains added texture to the natural landscape, hazy-blue against a pale-blue sky, and as usual when I’m in the tall, rugged terrain, I felt at home.

The lodge was warm and cozy. Fires burned in many of the sitting rooms, leaving our clothes tainted with a light scent of the outdoors. My husband took two of our children hiking down the cliff and captured many breathtaking photos—thank God one of us isn’t afraid of heights—and afterward we hung out in the hot tub with my siblings and their families.

Kris’ wedding came and went and it was beautiful. He gained a wife, I gained a sister-in-law, and my children gained an aunt. She’s a fantastic woman, full of life, laughter, and happiness. She’s made my brother smile. Made him a better man than he already was, and for all those things I’m grateful.

We’re home now—again, thanks to my husband—and life is slowly returning to normal. Kids have to go to bed at reasonable hours. Homework must be made-up. Laundry . . . I hate laundry.

The scenery is gone, but the memories will live on forever, and I promise to get back to blogging, critiquing, tweeting, facebooking, and all that other social stuff I’m involved in as a writer.

Are you ready?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Who's There?

On a night like any other, Mom and I sat on our dingy, paisley couch covered with a mustard-yellow blanket and watched tv. The big window behind us was propped open wide, allowing the cool breeze to graze our necks. Cuddling was something I liked to do with my mom often, and I don’t believe she minded either. I snuggled into her arms, wrapping myself around her like a leech.

Crickets chirped, singing their evening tune, a song never changing no matter where I’ve lived, then something else chirped, too. A pager.

Behind us.


Mom startled. “Did you hear that?” she asked, hands shaking.

My heart raced. Blood thrummed in my temples. “Yes.”

Turning around, we saw nothing but darkness. Footsteps pounded the earth as whoever was looking in on us ran away.

Tears streamed down my face. I was already afraid of living in the middle of nowhere, and this just added to the mounting torment Lone Oak, Texas offered me.

Dad wasn’t home and neither was Kris, but the spy didn’t come back. Mom and I locked ourselves in tight, slept together for the evening, and wondered just who was out there.

But we never found out.

Happy Halloween everyone. Hope you enjoyed my very true but short story today. The pumpkins below were carved yesterday by my family. :-)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

For those of you who didn't participate in Six Sentence Sunday last week, you can see what you missed here.

This will be my last continuation about "HE" (Yes, I'm evil and NO, you still won't fully understand who HE is. Muahahahaha!) Enjoy!

~He laughs, joining me on the floor. “No, Kate, this is not a dream.”

“Well, you have been in almost every one of my dreams since I was fourteen,” I say, not meeting his eyes. Do concussions cause hallucinations? I rub the back of my head. The swelling from my meeting with the rocks on Goat Ridge has gone away.~

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Funny

So I had a whole blog planned for today. I was going to recap my week, talk about carving pumpkins with the kids while sipping on apple cider, complain about the crazy amount of dance practices my daughter has tomorrow for the upcoming Nutcracker (YAY, go Kid #2), let you all know I'll be on the road next week because my brother is marrying the most wonderful girl in the world (and I'll go crazy with Kids #1-3 in the car), and tell you I appreciate every single one of you.

Instead of doing that (snickers), I'm going to share the comic strip @RedTashBooks designed for me based on this week's experiences.

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Jail Bait

One day after school, my neighbor ventured across the pastures to play. Like so many other times, we watched tv, tossed the frisbee around for our dog Sam, climbed the wooden walls to the hay storage areas in the barn—very dangerous—and ventured behind the pond to see what we could discover in the run-off.

We jumped into piles of hay from heights that could break something if we hadn’t landed just right. We collected tadpoles from the stream and laughed as they wriggled in our hands.

We were kids, and fun was the only thing that mattered.

As the sun was setting and the tall grasses radiated with a golden hue, it was time for my friend to go home. Mom and Dad would return from work soon, which meant dinner and whatever else they had planned. Probably bathing and bedtime.

My friend and I ducked between the barbed wire fence and exchanged confused looks when her dogs started barking hysterically.

“Don’t they know it’s just us?” I asked ready to bolt for my house. No way was I getting bit by a dog.

She called out for the mangy mutts to shut up, but they continued on as if they didn’t even know we were coming.

Gripping the cold metal wire, I held the fence open enough for my friend to slip through, but we both stopped dead in our tracks.

Living in a trailer without plywood secured to the bottom of it, like ours, gave my friend and I a vantage point neither of us could have imagined. Someone jumped from her back deck, clad in black boots and dark-blue pants, and took off running, jingling all the while.


She looked at me, eyes-wide with panic. “No one’s home but me.”

“Run!” I screamed, trembling while holding the fence open for her to come back through.

We locked hands and ran all the way back to my house, jumping through the fence so fast we didn’t take the time to worry about the wounds the barbed wire inflicted.

Mom and Dad weren’t home yet. There was no one we could call. The police wouldn’t make it to the middle of nowhere fast enough. We were defenseless. I thought about my dad’s gun, then remembered what happened the last time I shot it.

“Don’t you have a knife or something? Anything? We can’t just sit here and wait for whoever that was to kill us.” My friend gasped for air, skin as pale as the cotton in the field next to us. Her hands were frozen and grasped permanently around my arm. “What about your dad’s machete?”

The fools we were, we grabbed my dad’s machete and instead of locking ourselves in the trailer with it, calling the cops anyway, or waiting for Mom and Dad to get home, we ventured back to her property.

I swung the gigantic, rusted knife through the grasses without chopping any of them down. The blade was dull. Just like our plan. My friend’s dogs weren’t barking anymore, there wasn’t any jingling, and we certainly didn’t spot a murderer waiting for us, but what we did see once we reached her fence was our courage run away.

We walked back to my house and waited for the adults to swoop in to rescue us. While we were daydreaming of all the ways we were going to die, I turned on the tv and saw a news report that had my blood running cold for weeks.

Breaking News: Convict escaped local jail and is on the loose in the Lone Oak area. If you see a man . . . .

I didn’t hear any more, didn’t see any more, past those words. I just knew whoever the escaped convict was, that’s who was in my friend’s house, running away in his black boots and dark-blue pants.

When she finally made it home, the only thing missing was money. Isn’t that what a recently escaped criminal would need?

That’s what I thought.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

By popular request, I'm picking up where we left off last week. So if you missed out, go read HERE, then come back...don't worry, we'll still be here when you get back.

~“Y-yes. I came to find someone to talk to and saw all of the food and couldn’t help myself. I’m sorry I’ve made such a mess.” I kneel to gather pieces of plate, chicken and potatoes from the floor. “This is all just a dream, it’s just a dream, and everything is going to be okay,” I whisper to myself.

“A dream?”~

There is no official Six Sentence link this week, but make sure you check back next week for more authors involved in the Six.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Orange pumpkins lined our neighbor’s porches. Carved and downright scary, the most wasted food on the planet illuminated all the decorations people had so intricately put on their homes for the spookiest day of the year.

Walking home from school I envied these families, envied the kids living in those homes who would don their Halloween best and romp around the neighborhood collecting candy later that evening. For free.

My parents didn’t allow us to celebrate Halloween, said it was the devil’s day, it was evil and . . . I’m not even positive what the full excuse was because I didn’t understand it.

I was mad.



Why did I have to stay home when all my friends were out running around? Why did we lock ourselves up? Why didn’t I get to dress up like a witch or fairy or princess?

Pushing through the front door, I dropped my book bag then went for my room where I remained the rest of the afternoon.

Mom and Dad came home from work and dragged me out to spend time with them, but something was different. They had plastic bags full of things they were talking in hushed whispers over.

Could it be? Had they changed their minds? Would I get to go out this year?

I couldn’t contain my excitement. A smile stretched across my face and I ran up to them and tugged on Mom’s hand. “What’s in the bag?”


“Tracks? Like railroad tracks?” I asked, leaning in to get a good look inside the bag.

Dad laughed. “No, like religious tracts. Instead of handing out candy or pretending like we’re not home, we’re going to pass these out.” He dug one out and gave it to me. “This is going to be great.”

No. No this was not going to be great. I may have only been in second grade, but I knew without a doubt how this would go over. We were going to be known as the family who didn’t just hide on Halloween, we were going to become the family who refused to give out candy on Halloween.


“You can help pass them out.” Dad placed the bag on the entryway table and went about his business for the rest of the evening.

I cried on the inside. Opening that door would give me a glimpse into a world I’d never experience. A pure, simple fun I’d never know. Did they realize how bad this hurt? Did they know they were subjecting me to ridicule at school? Did they care?

The first knock came just as the sun was setting, and I had the pleasure of answering the barrier between me and a fun filled night.

“Trick-or-treat,” cried the eager kids dressed as kittens, ghosts and oh so many things I wanted to be.

Dad opened the bag full tracts then handed them to me, and I frowned while dropping them into the cute little buckets and bed sheets the kids had hoards of candy in.

The kids and their parents scowled.

My heart sank to my stomach.

Slinking back into the house, I allowed my dad to deal with whatever people had to say to him then I sat on the couch and didn’t move the rest of the night. I refused. I wouldn’t ever open the door on Halloween again.


I don’t think any of the kids even remembered what we passed out—they were too busy comparing candy counts. And I was too busy hating my life to notice if anyone at school ridiculed me.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Another week has flown by! Can you believe it? I feel like Sunday comes faster and faster all the time. Sigh. Well, I didn't want to give too much creepy away this week. Figured I'd save some for the grand finale. We're going to go for more of a What? response this week. :-) Enjoy.

~I put so much food on the plate it heaps with potatoes and chicken. Turning to take the treasures back to Brad’s room, I bump into someone standing right behind me. My eyes work their way up a man’s chest, neck and face and finally rest on eyes so familiar, my hands tremble and all the blood in my body runs cold.

It’s him.

The dish falls to the floor, breaking and splattering food all over the place.

“You must be Kate,” he says, frowning at me.~

To read more awesome Six Sunday entries, make sure you click here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

First Love

Jason was a pimply-faced kid who lived with his grandmother, and everyone always told me to stay away from him. We were young, innocent, and had ideas for the future grander than anyone around us could imagine.

Before Jason, I dreaded Sundays, but after we met, the epic day of rest became my favorite day of the week.

Mom and Dad tried to find excuses for me not to sit with him at church, tried to tell me I should be with them, with family. Jason and I moved pews. We sat in the back, or behind them. So long as they couldn’t see us, we didn’t care.

As time wore on, Jason's hand held mine with more confidence, less sweat, more thumb grazing over my knuckles. He’d lean into my ear and whisper a whole lot of nothing, making me giggle at all the wrong times. He’d tuck my long, brown, stringy hair behind my ear and tell me I was beautiful, and that I shined like the stars.

My heart learned gymnastics when we were together.

But at some point something changed; Jason missed church two weeks in a row. His grandmother was there, but he was not.

Had I done something wrong? Did I make him not want to see me ever again? Did he find someone else?

After church I rushed up to his grandmother; she was clad in her Sunday finest and wore her dark gray hair in a loosely tied bun. I took her wrinkled hand into mine; she was cold, her skin thin from age, but she was firm in her grip. “Please, tell me where he is."

“I can’t, dear. But I can give you this.” Jason’s grandmother reached into her faux leather handbag, pulled out a crinkled piece of lined paper then handed it to me.

“What’s this?” I asked, heart pounding, chest constricting.

“I didn’t read it. Jason asked me to give it to you,” she said, then turned and walked away.

Tears welled in my eyes. My fingers trembled as I unfolded the piece of paper holding the future of my heart’s status. He was going to break up with me. That’s why he gave the letter to his grandma, because he couldn’t face me himself. I just knew it. Why would anyone like me? My family was poor. We didn’t have anything. I wasn’t special.

I held my breath, unfolding the last bit of our relationship.

I’m sorry. I miss you. Call me.

Underneath his scrawled words he’d written his phone number and drawn a big heart.

I couldn’t wait to get home.

“Is everything okay?” Mom asked.

I didn’t realize she was standing next to me. Looking up into her eyes, I knew she knew something. “Yes. Can we go home now?”

I held the paper in the palm of my hand all day. He’d touched it. He’d written it. He’d wanted me to have it. When it was late, when I was sure my parents wouldn’t care what I was doing, I grabbed the cordless phone, a pillow, and a blanket and went outside. I spread the blanket on the deck just outside the back door, laid down on my stomach and propped the pillow under my elbows. Unfolding the paper, I read the numbers then punched them into the phone.

Ring, ring, ring.

“Hello?” His voice, it was warm—albeit, maybe a little high-pitched—and it was him.

I turned over, resting my head on the pillow so I could stare at the bright starry sky. “Hi.”

Krystal . . . .” Jason whispered. “I’m sorry.”

I really didn’t want to hear he was sorry. I wanted to know why I hadn’t seen him. “Where have you been?”

“I’m moving.”

I gasped. “What? Where?”

“To Louisiana.”

There was a long, awkward pause. I took the time to compose myself, to carefully choose my next words, to wipe tears from my eyes. “Why?”

“Grandma can’t afford to keep me here. I’m moving with my uncle, tomorrow. They wouldn’t let me come to church because I had to pack, and because they were afraid we would do something stupid if I told you.” He sighed.

I sobbed.

“Krystal, don’t cry. Listen, go outside.”

“I’m already outside,” I said, sniffling.

“Me too. Look up at the stars.”

The black Texas sky was dotted with millions of twinkling stars. The Milky Way was white and cloudy, stretching across the dark blanket of space with all its glory.

“Are you looking up?”


“You see that little constellation right in the middle of the sky? It looks like a baseball diamond, a very tiny baseball diamond.”

I scanned the stars, desperate to look at the same thing as him. When I discovered the little diamond in the sky, I sucked in a sharp breath. “I see it.”

“Good. Every time you think of me, every time you miss me, look up and know I’ll be thinking of you, too. I’ll miss you, too. That will be our constellation.” He paused.

“Won’t we talk?” I asked, forgetting about the stars.

“Long distance . . . .”

And that was it, the end of my first honest relationship. The end of our hopes and dreams together. Occasionally I’d look at the baseball constellation and think of him, but it hurt. The first person ever really interested in me, torn away. We spent the rest of the night talking about the stars, talking about what we would do when we saw each other again, but that day never came. I was twelve; I doubt we were in it for the long haul anyway.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

It's Halloween Season, so I thought I'd take us over to the Dark Side (insert evil cackle) this week.


~He leans in, closes his eyes—

The sun disappears. The sky turns black. Emerging from the forest, gray beasts with hollow eyes surround and watch us. Before Arland can turn and fight, a mangled creature rushes forward and stabs him through the heart with a long, dagger-like claw.

My screams fill the darkness.~

Thanks for visiting. Make sure you head over to Six Sunday and check out other participating authors!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Family Ties

My eyes opened, but I couldn’t move. Someone was watching me. Someone was in my room. I tried to bring the blanket over my head, but didn’t want to draw attention. I took a shallow breath, afraid to be heard.

Afraid I’d be killed.

I glanced through my fuchsia blinds, expecting to see someone standing outside my window. No man with a gun or knife waited to murder me. I turned my head slowly toward the door. No one was there, but I felt a presence. Felt the gaze of a hate filled person boring into me, but where? Where was this person? Fear pricked up my arms, pins and needles poked at my chest. My head spun. I needed to breathe. I needed to get to my mom.

If I slinked out of bed, the intruder would think I was asleep. He wouldn’t charge me if I was asleep, would he? I inched to the left, waited, breathed, then inched more. I was still alive. Still breathing. No one had killed me.

Not yet.

Hanging over the edge of the bed, I kept my flowery blanket up to my chin. Whoever was with me wouldn’t realize I was trying to escape, wouldn’t realize I knew he was there.

I fell to the floor with a thud.

My heart stopped.

Deep breath.

Muscles tensed.


I jumped up and ran through the door so fast there’s no way anyone could have caught me. Barreling toward my mom’s room, I screamed, “Someone’s in the house.”

Mom and Kris were both asleep, and neither came to my aid. I hurtled myself in bed with my mom.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, bolting up.

“There’s someone in the house, in my room. Someone was watching me . . . .”

Mom threw the covers off. “I’ll go check it out.”

I grabbed her arm. “You can’t. No! What if he kills you? Please, don’t leave me.”

She looked down at me with those oh-you-silly-child eyes, removed my hand, and left the room.

Sweat ran down my cheek. My feet were freezing. My mind raced through possible scenarios for my mother’s horrible death, but it didn’t come.

She opened her bedroom door and smiled. “Nothing there. You can go back to sleep.”

“Can I stay with you?”

“Of course.”

Mom sat me down on the dingy couch covered in an equally dingy mustard yellow blanket—to make it look nicer—and placed her hand over mine. “There’s something I need to tell you.”

Anytime Mom took on a serious tone, and sat me down, I knew I’d either done something wrong, or someone had died. “W-What?”

“I didn’t want to tell you this. I figured it would scare you—that’s why I’ve waited so long—but I think you need to know.” She rambled on and on as if actually talking about whatever it was she needed to say scared her.

I raised my eyebrow. “Mom?”

“You remember that night a long time ago when you thought someone was in your room?”

“How could I forget?”

“Well, the next day I talked to your father. Remember he was working in the prison at the time? He used to sleep there. He was there that night.”

“I remember.” I hated my dad being so far away from us. We missed him.

“At the same time you woke up afraid someone was in your room, he woke up too. But someone was in his room. He was robbed.” Mom squeezed my hand.

“So, what are you trying to say?” Was I connected to my father? Did I somehow sense his fear a hundred miles away? What was it that woke me up? I’d reduced it down to a bad dream, but what did it mean for me to experience the same emotions as my father when something bad was actually happening to him?

“I don’t know. I just thought you should know.” She returned to facing the tv.

And I’ve been wondering about that night ever since.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blog Award Time

I’ve received a few blog awards lately and have been so busy I haven’t acknowledged them yet. I do appreciate everyone thinking of me when they receive these, and hope you'll forgive me for being so late with a response.

I received the Liebster Award from Derek Flynn and Diana Murdock. They are both wonderful bloggers and writers. (Derek’s also a musician . . . a good one, too!)

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks [blogs with fewer than 200 followers] and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all – have bloggity-blog fun!
6. Don't feel obligated to re-post the awards.

Here are my picks:

1. Sarah Ballance - She's an excellent romantic suspense writer and also a friend. Her publisher loves her right now as she's pushing out lots of titillating (yes, I used that on purpose) novels.

2. 120Socks - This woman is a downright awesome blogger. She writes novels, poetry, blogs, and she's an amazing tweep. Follow her and she'll knock your socks off. (Bad puns all around.)

3. Amberr Meadows - She travels, she writes about travels and she makes us all wish we were there.

4. Johanna K. Pitcairn - There's an element of pain in all her posts, and she uses it to her benefit. Sometimes she scares me, sometimes she makes me laugh, but mostly I enjoy watching her journey to make amends with life.

5. Michelle Moloney - She's a teacher. A good one. Her blogs are thoughtful and insightful, and she's always there to help us grow.

The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award

Ashley Nixon and I recently met via Twitter, and she wowed me with a conversation between she and one of her characters. I loved it. And I'm pretty sure I'm going to love her book too. She awarded me with the aforementioned umm . . . award and I am honored.

I'm supposed to supply you with seven things you don't know about me. I can think of seven million things you don't know about me, but compacting it all down to seven?? This is difficult . . . .

1. I played the french horn.
I may not be able to hold a note with my voice, but in middle school I learned to make music with the french horn. There are many days I miss this beautiful brass, but there isn't any time in my life to pick it up again.

2. My favorite color is purple.
My husband often jokes the best way to get me to buy something is to paint it purple. If he wants a jetski or motorcylce, he tries to find matching ones in purple . . . for me of course. I've caught on to his game, and it only works on occasion now.

3. I like things in 3's (appropriate for number 3)
I have three children, three dogs, three cats and I live on three acres.

4. My dream car is a '72 Super Beetle
Yes, that's right. If I could have any car in the world, it would an old VW PURPLE Bug. My hubby and I have been on the look-out for my baby, but have yet to find the right buy.

5. If I hit the book writing lottery (that is, if I become famous), I won't be able to stop working
Why? Well for one, my hubby and son's dream cars are expensive and for two, most of my creativity hits me on my fifty-mile commute to work.

6. I can never decide where my "fantasy rich home" would be.
I love the mountains, I love the ocean, I love the forests, I love NATURE. So when people ask me where I'd live if I were rich . . . I usually don't have an answer.

7. I wanted to become a wedding planner
Yeah, that's right. Laugh all you want, but that's what I wanted to be. I love weddings and I love planning things. I discovered my love for this profession when I was nailing down the details for my own wedding to my wonderful husband. Unfortunately, it's not a business you can easily jump into. I put my creativity to use in other ways, and I think I've finally found my niche . . . writing.

Now, enough about me. Here are my blog picks:

1. Kellianne Sweene - Always fun, always positive.

2. Al Boudreau - Cause he's father twitter for writers and one of my besties!

3. Kelly S. Gamble - She's supportive and fun.

Before I go, I'd like to thank Amberr Meadows and David Beem for assigning awards for my blog as well. Without all the wonderful bloggers, tweeps, and fellow supporters, writing wouldn't be as much fun.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Little Shop of Horrors

Today my family and I went to the grocery store. We like to make an event out of shopping—or shopping makes an event out of us. I’m not sure. Whatever the case, we enjoy going together. My husband and I stick the girls in the race car cart, sip on Starbucks and pick out meals for the week.

But this morning Kid #2 decided she didn’t want to ride in the cart; she wanted to drive the fluorescent-green mini shopping buggy. I shook my head, but daddy couldn’t resist the cheesy smile kid #2 flashed him . . . and so we were off: Kid #3 in the race car cart, Kid #2 pushing the mini-buggy, and Kid #1 bored out of his mind trailing behind.

Everything was fantastic. Kid #2 helped me bag apples and load them in her cart while a few older couples smiled and told me how adorable she was. Who could resist a four-year old in a Hello Kitty snow hat?

I sipped on my caramel macchiato and moved on to the meat section. But Kid #2’s cart was full, and she was getting bored. She jumped in the race car, exciting her one-year old sister so much she bounced up and down. The metal of our cart echoed throughout the store.

Clarissa! Stop.”

Kid #3 peeked through the “rear window” and showed me every tooth in her mouth.

My heart melted.

A young couple passed by, glaring at my lovely kids. I remember being that young, thinking of the future and what I would not be like as a parent. I probably would have glared at my kids, too. I smiled at the obviously child-free couple and kept moving.

My husband had to detour to the bathroom, leaving me alone with all three monsters . . . er, I mean sweethearts.

Kid #3 finished damaging everyone’s eardrums with her buggy bouncing technique, and Kid #2 was following close behind. Too close. She ran over my ankle.


Kid #2 put down her hot chocolate. “Sorry, Mommy.”

“It’s okay. Stay behind me, there are lots of people here,” I said, maneuvering around three women shoppers—all giving me the you’re brave look. Yeah, don’t worry, my husband’s here . . . somewhere.

Doubling-back to the meat section, I grabbed another pack of chicken.

Kid #2 ran over my ankle again.


She looked at me with her hot chocolate mustache. “I didn’t mean to.”

“I know, but you need to be more careful. Where’s your father?” I glanced all around, wondering where the heck he’d gotten off to. “Ethan, watch your sister. Make sure she doesn’t run into me again.”

We returned to walking up and down the aisles, browsing for items on our list. Kid #1 took the “watch your sister” comment to the extreme and the two began fighting.

I met eyes with another woman my age, she shook her head.

“Guys, stop it!”

Kid #2 lost her balance; she and the cart tipped over.

“Where is Daddy???” I stamped my foot, acting similar to my three children.

Truthfully he’d only been gone a couple minutes, but hell broke loose in those two minutes. Kid #2 picked up the contents of her buggy, Kid #3 bounced up and down again, and Kid #1 maintained a smug I hate my life kind of look.

If he only knew, this would be his life one day.

When Daddy finally graced the aisle with his presence, I sighed. The remainder of our trip was uneventful aside from an occasional comment about how beautiful our children are by passerby’s.

On our way out of the store I made a decision: I was never going shopping alone with my kids. I love them dearly, but boy do they know how to push my buttons.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

By request, I'm picking up close to where we left off last week. Brit pulled a very old--and dirty--bottle of rum from behind her back and looked excited enough to drink it.

~ Appalled, I eye the nasty bottle. “You aren’t honestly going to drink that, are you?”

“Not just me. You, me and Brad!” Brit says, pointing to each of us.

I sigh. “Let’s get to the next camp site before we do anything illegal.”~

Thanks for visiting. If you'd like to see other amazing authors who participate in Six Sunday, click here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

9 Lives

Cats are supposed to have nine lives, and my cat Doc knew how to use them. When we moved from the city, he was just as lost as the rest of us. My parents insisted on sending the cuddly feline out into the unknown, only allowing him to enter when he was hungry. We couldn’t leave his food out, or the mouths would multiply.

Doc was all white with the tiniest patch of black on top of his head, right between his ears. He earned his name because he reminded us of a doctor in a lab coat. Okay, I’m not sure if that’s true, but it’s the story I’m sticking with.

At night he’d jump on my window, claws sticking through the screen. He’d cry and scratch, and I’d let him in. Over time the two of us formed a bond so strong, I’d call to him as soon as the bus dropped me off after school and Doc would bound down the rock-lined driveway, tail sticking straight up, and rub figure eights around my ankles.

One day, he didn’t greet me and immediately I knew something was wrong.

“Where do you think he could be?” I asked Kris.

“I’m sure he’s just eating a mouse or something.”

Mouse carcasses were common things to find on our back porch. “Yeah, you’re probably right,” I said, frowning.

But when we reached the house Doc still wasn’t anywhere to be found. I looked under beds, under cars, in the barn, under the porch—anywhere I thought he might hide, I searched.

My legs bounced. My heart raced. Somewhere deep inside I knew he was hurt, but I had no proof.

Mom and Dad arrived home, and I was sick with worry. Dinner wouldn’t go down. Tv wasn’t interesting. I went out back and called for him over and over but received no response.

No little meows. No soft affections. No nothing.

The sun lowered, disappearing below the Texas horizon. Dad grabbed a flashlight and together we went outside.

“Kitty, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty,” I called.

The crickets responded with constant chirping, but Doc remained wherever he was.

Me—chirp, chirp—ow.

“Did you hear that?” Dad asked.

I ran toward the trailer then stuck my ear to the plywood dad nailed along the bottom, listening for signs of life. Faint meows met my ears.

Dad ran up the stairs and into the house then returned with a hammer.

We pried the plywood back and found Doc lying on the ground. He was swollen and from the way he slowly moved his head toward us, we could tell he was stiff.

Dad slid on his stomach, reaching for the cat, and after what seemed like an eternity, he pulled my little friend out.

Puss and blood oozed from a wound at the base of his tail.

Tears streamed down my face. “W-What’s wrong with him?” I fell to the ground and rubbed my hand over his soft head.

“Looks like a snake bite . . . .”

We brought Doc in the house and made him comfortable for the night. It was too late to take him to the vet, but my dad promised we’d go in the morning. When the morning came, Doc was still with us. We put him in a box with some blankets and drove to the nearest vet clinic. They confirmed he’d been bitten by a non-venomous snake, and they needed to clean him up.

“She should wait outside,” the actual doc said, glancing at me.

Mom and Dad took me into the waiting room. I couldn’t understand why everyone wanted me away. Doc was my kitty, he needed me, I’d like to think he wanted me. But as the vets worked on him, Doc cried ear-piercing, mind-numbing cries of agony. My head pounded. My heart ached. Listening to him howl was awful, and it was the reason I decided to change my mind about becoming a veterinarian.

A couple hours later, the doctors brought a sedated and bandaged little kitty out to me and sent us home—my parents with a hefty bill and me with my best friend. After that experience he never had to scratch my window screen to get in; I refused to let him out of my sight.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Is it Sunday already? Wow! Where does the time go? I've picked six (sounds like the lottery, doesn't it?) fresh lines for your reading pleasure. I've frightened you, I've given you sweet . . . now it's time for FUN.

~“You remember that time we brought Uncle John and his girlfriend Cindy out here with us?” Brit asks.

I nod.

She pulls a dirt-encrusted bottle out from behind her back. “Well, I stole this bottle of rum from them and buried it . . . with a little help from a stick.” She’s proud of herself—I haven’t seen her look this giddy in months.

“You didn’t?!” ~

Thanks for visiting. If you'd like to see other amazing authors who participate in Six Sunday, click here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Climbing Trees

A huge Oak tree grew along our farm’s property line. Lush, green grasses sprouted under expansive shade the tree provided. The area was like a secret meadow intended for only my brother and I.

On windy days I’d venture away from the house and spin in circles in the meadow, allowing the tall grasses to tickle at my legs. My hair whipped my face, but I’d smile—this was heaven.

One afternoon Dad nailed boards into the trunk of the Oak, so Kris and I could climb up and imagine worlds far beyond the one we lived in. We discussed imaginary wars and how we wanted to design our military base high up in the branches.

We could see for miles. Rows and rows of cotton made up the landscape to our right, and grazing cattle filled the fields to our left. Every white bud on the plants was an enemy; each cow was something we had to protect.

Mom called for dinner.

“We’ll discuss storming the alien ship tomorrow,” Kris said, climbing down the tree. He waited for me at the bottom. “You coming?”

Suddenly the ground appeared far away. My hands sweat and I imagined falling on my back with the wind knocked out of me. Shaking my head, I said, “How do I get down?”

Kris arched his eyebrow. “The same way you got up.”

“It’s not the same way.” I leaned forward, everything inside me screaming to cling to a branch for dear life. The first board was further away than I’d remembered. How was I supposed to get my scrawny legs to it? My face flashed hot; my stomach turned. “Can you get Dad?”

“Just come down,” he said. “You got up, you can get down.”

“Please . . . .”

Kris propped his hands on his hips and shook his head.

Mom called for us again.

“We’re going to get in trouble if you don’t hurry.”

His voice teased at my fears. What was worse, falling and dying or having Mom and Dad mad at me?

“Please go get Dad?”

Kris narrowed his eyes. “You’re acting like a baby. Just lie on your stomach, hold onto a branch and slide your feet over the side.”

“What if my feet miss?”

“I’ll tell you which way to go.”

Getting on my stomach, I followed Kris’ instructions to the letter, but my feet found nothing but stairless bark. I lost my resolve and scrambled back to the top. “I can’t do it.”

I turned around, but Kris was gone. I was alone, standing in a tall tree in what used to be my favorite meadow. How could he leave me? Where did he go? How was I going to get down?

So not to lose my balance and fall, I sat down and folded my legs over each other. Twenty minutes later, I started screaming for my brother or dad or mom—whoever would come, but no one did.

Five or six more times I attempted to climb down, but couldn’t find the stairs. I wound up paralyzed by fear, dangling on the trunk.

Then I heard my dad whistling. The normally agitating sound was sweet relief to my nerves.

“Dad,” I screamed.

He carried a ladder and headed straight for me.

Struggling to maintain my grip, I sighed when the I felt the metals steps beneath my feet. I climbed down and hugged my dad. “Why did Kris leave me?”

“He thought you’d find your way down eventually. Guess I’ll have to add another step for you.”

My hands stung; my heart raced, but I was down and alive. On solid ground. I swore never to go up that tree again, and to punch my brother as soon as I got in the house.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Guest Blog: Jason McIntyre

Today I'd like to welcome a good Twitter-bud and amazing writer, Jason McIntyre. I've had the pleasure of reading some of his work and let me just say, I wasn't disappointed. I have BLED and can't wait to devour it. Okay, I'll be quiet and let Jason do the rest of the talking . . . make sure to leave him a comment!

Hot Blood: My new book ‘Bled’ turns up the heat

What is it about scary stories in the summer?

I’ve written my share of books and shorts that take place in the icy vastness
of a desolate winter but if we think back on our childhoods of watching movies and reading books, so many of the suspenseful and horrific ones take place on a hot summer’s night. Or out at the lake, in the woods, even in an inner city neighborhood during a heat wave.

I wonder if it goes back to the idea that we often step out of our routine -- and thus our comfort zone -- during summer holidays from school and work. We try new things, go new places. It’s a time for escape, but also for being confronted with some unusual things -- strangers or ideas or locations that might be totally new for us.

Bled takes place across the span of a hot summer in a beach town called Dovetail Cove. It starts on the May long weekend and rattles its way to conclusion in the blazing heat of an un-air-conditioned downtown cafe. A young woman named Teeny McLeod is a working class gal trying to make ends meet for her family. For Teeny, there won’t be many days in the hot sun improving her tan. She won’t be drinking at the pubs with friends. She’ll be fending of the advances of lazy office workers who come in to stare at her legs and make cracks about how they take their coffee.

Does the heat add to the tension? Or to the confusion? Does the lazy lolling waves of cigarette smoke hanging in the air make the tale a tighter squeeze on the reader?

I hope so. Really I do. And I hope you’ll consider giving the story a read to discover whether it does or not, too. Remember, I love feedback from my readers. I hope you’ll get in on Bled!

Bled: About the Novella

She only wanted to leave. But he took that option from her. Now she wants it back.

Set on the same island as the reader favorite Shed, the latest literary suspense novella from bestselling author Jason McIntyre picks up the Dovetail Cove saga with this story of one lonely woman...trapped.

Tina McLeod is on the cusp of a new life. Extraordinary change is rare in her world but this newsflash means she can finally leave her small island town for good. No more pouring coffee for townsfolk in Main Street’s greasy spoon, no more living under the weight of her born-again mother. That is, until Frank Moort comes in for his usual lunch and dessert on an ordinary Friday in May.

Bled sees things turn backwards and upside down for each of them. Their encounter is prolonged and grotesque, the sort of thing splashing the covers of big city newspapers. Both are changed. And neither will come out clean on the other side.

A story about taking what’s not yours, Bled explores pushing back when you’ve been pushed too far. It paints in red the horrors from our most commonplace of surroundings: right out in the open where nothing can hide behind closed doors and shut mouths.

Bled: Teaser Trailer

Click HERE to view the trailer.

About the Author

Jason McIntyre has lived and worked in varied places across the globe. His writing also meanders from the pastoral to the garish, from the fantastical to the morbid. Vibrant characters and vivid surroundings stay with him and coalesce into novels and stories. Before his time as an editor, writer and communications professional, he spent several years as a graphic designer and commercial artist.

McIntyre's writing has been called darkly noir and sophisticated, styled after the likes of Chuck Palahniuk but with the pacing and mass appeal of Stephen King. The books tackle the family life subject matter of Jonathan Franzen but also eerie discoveries one might find in a Ray Bradbury story or those of Rod Serling.

Jason McIntyre’s books include the #1 Kindle Suspense,
The Night Walk Men, Bestsellers On The Gathering Storm and Shed, plus the multi-layered coming-of-age literary suspense Thalo Blue.

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