Thursday, August 14, 2014

Southern Gothic Fiction - Cover Reveal and Excerpt

To be released Thursday, 9/4

I’m excited to announce my first collection of horror and southern gothic fiction short stories, Then Death Spoke, will be released on Amazon Thursday, 9/4.

These are NOT dark stories with “feel good,” happy endings, folks. These are your sick and twisted, double-up-on-the-Prozac stories. True escapism for the gothic *heart.*

To "lure" you in, I've included here an excerpt from one of my southern gothic pieces. The voice is a young teenage girl, battling feelings for a much older man from a very dark past.

Excerpt from, “I Never Met a Soldier I Didn’t Like” by LB Shaw

It was six months later when the unbelievable happened. I was at church and I had to go to the bathroom, but the upstairs bathrooms were full. I ran downstairs to the ones that hardly anyone ever used.

When I came out, low and behold if Eddie himself wasn’t standing there in the hallway, all alone, decked out in his Army uniform and everything. I almost fainted on the spot. Lord knows I had changed a lot since he last saw me, blooming in all the right ways as my best friend’s cousin had once said. When Eddie saw me, he looked at me like he was seeing me for the first time.

“Jolene, I… look at you. My, you’ve grown.” His eyes wandered right down to where they shouldn’t have but where I wanted them to, and I thought if he stared at me forever I’d never get tired of looking at his perfect face.

“Hi, Mr. Winthrop,” I sort of whispered and sort of blurted, still holding on to the formality of respecting my elders, even though in my head, I’d always called him Eddie. “How are you?” My palms were sweating up a storm and I thought my heart would bust right through the lace on my dress and splat all over the church floor.

“Going through a rough time, but I’m hanging on as best I can. How’s life treating you, darlin’?”

Eddie rubbed his hands together as he talked.

“Pretty good, I guess.” I searched his face for some clue that… well, I don’t know what sort of clue I was looking for. He just smiled softly, and I asked him what rough thing he was going through.

“You didn’t hear?” he asked. I shook my head.

“Oh, well don’t you worry your pretty little head about it. It’s all grown up stuff anyways.” He jerked his head around to peer down the dark hallway. “Say, I can’t stick around, but you wouldn’t want to do an old man a favor, would you?”

“Me?” I would have done just about anything for Eddie.

He laughed and asked me to meet him at his car after church, that he had something he wanted to give me.

“It’s something I brought back from Tennessee. It’s nothing bad, but I know your mama doesn’t approve of me giving you gifts.”

I told him I would be there or be square, and all through the sermon I could hardly wait to get out the doors. I looked around for Eddie, but I didn’t see him anywhere. He wasn’t kidding when he said he couldn’t stick around. I wondered what he was doing there to begin with, and why he didn’t just bring the gift inside to give me before he had to leave.

Since Mom and Dad usually went to the fellowship hall after Sunday sermon, I didn’t tell them a thing, just ran straight out to the overflow parking lot across the street where Eddie said he’d be waiting. When I saw his black Dodge, I got so nervous I almost turned back around. I think my heart couldn’t take how bad I wanted him.

I saw him sitting there in the driver’s seat as I came up to the car. His head was hanging down, and for a minute I thought he was asleep. When he saw me, he leaned over and opened the passenger door. I sat down next to him, and he started the car up to run the heat. It was so dad-burned cold. We sat there without saying a word for a good while. It felt so nice, just being near him again, that I didn’t mind the silence.

“I want to be a good man, you know,” he said.

“You are, Mr. Winthrop.”

“I wish you’d call me Eddie.”

“Okay. Eddie.”

He took a deep breath and looked over at the church, like what he needed to say was written on the steeple.

“When I was a little boy, my papa would beat my ass if I breathed wrong. I always said when I grew up, I’d make sure I never hurt no one. Especially someone I love. I really don’t understand how some men’s minds work.”

I looked at Eddie, trying to figure out what he was talking about, but really just having a hard time believing that he was back. I thought about everyone inside the church, and me, just having gotten done worshipping the Lord, sitting out here in the car, in the real world, discussing real adult stuff, my hormones trying to rage me right through the teenage years and into womanhood.

I watched his profile while his stare loomed ahead in the distance, maybe somewhere he wanted to be. I wanted to be there too. Eddie closed his eyes and put his hands on the steering wheel, gripping it so tight it squeaked. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

I Ain't Disappeared Y'all - Southern Gothic Fiction TBR

I'm ashamed I've been MIA for so long. I have been writing a lot, but I've had to work on my freelance jobs in order to play catch up.

Hey, I've been watching y'all, though. I swear I have!

I'm currently working on pulling my head out of my ass and publishing a collection of southern gothic fiction short stories on Amazon Kindle. Right now, as we speak, I'm going through all the stories that I've been writing for the last 7 months and picking out the best ones to include. I should have at least a dozen pieces in the book, maybe more.

EDIT: not quite a dozen stories, but I'm currently at just over 21K words.

I'm also working on a short story called "A Ribbon Around Never." It's a paranormal dark fiction "anti-love" story about a young woman who gets rid of her "never."

What is her "never," you ask? You'll have to read it to find out.

So if you enjoy the dark and depressing, stay tuned. I will let everyone know when the southern gothic flash fiction collection is live.

Leave me a comment, ask me a question. Anything! Please! I'm so lonely...

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Southern Gothic, Post-Apocalyptic, Sick Little Excerpt For You Sickos

After steadily working on my southern gothic, post-apocalyptic story, I've chosen another excerpt to post. The MC is sick, so this entry is special, because... duh duh duh... I actually wrote it while I was sick last week! It's amazing how creative I can be when I'm running a fever and blowing snot rockets out my nose, but y'all don't want to hear about that, I'm sure. *snort*

Anyway, enjoy the following uber depressing journal entry from the main character who shall remain nameless for now and maybe forever. 

* * * * * * * *

I have no strength. I have no will. I’m sitting in front of the fire, cold to my bones and scared out of my mind. The last time I remember being this sick was a few years before the impact. I was about seventeen, and I knew I didn’t feel good when I woke up, but mom told me I had to at least try and go to school. I threw up all over the hallway between classes and everyone backed away from me like I had the plague. The laughter was the worst part of it. I was so humiliated. Thank God Kelly was there. She wrapped her arms around me and walked me to the bathroom, then went to the office to let them know what happened so they could call my parents.

I ended up having the flu and missed six days of school. Every night my mom made me drink this nasty crap, some concoction that grandmother had come up with that supposedly was an instant cure, probably got it from one of the Sunday School ladies. They were always swapping secret recipes, and I swear one of those women had this twitch in her eye that used to drive me crazy. I was convinced that she was possessed by the devil and that the demons were trying to escape through her eyeballs the moment she entered the church.

Anyway, that disgusting drink didn’t instantly cure me, but it did make me feel a hell of a lot better. I think mom spiked it with some cheap whiskey, but she swore it was mostly tea, ginger, lemon, and honey. It pretty much knocked me out cold, so she either put liquor in it or crushed up some of her Xanax and loaded me up. That’s probably a more likely scenario. Mom was always trying to get me to take her pills when I wasn’t “feeling good.” She never had a shortage of pills to pop, and to this day, I wonder if she wasn’t running some sort of drug ring out of the house. She had more pill bottles than the Sweet Serenity Retirement Home in Lexington. What I wouldn’t give for one of those nasty drinks right now.

Being really, really sick does suck a ten-foot pole, big time. I had this girl I went to church with. Her name was Roberta, and she had Hodgkin’s disease. She had to go through chemo, and all the meds they put her on made her look bloated all the time. Even her face looked like a puffer fish. She wasn’t very pretty to begin with, so you can imagine the after effects. Nobody wanted anything to do with her, like she was contagious or something. I think it’s shitty how some people won’t have anything to do with someone who has cancer. If this world gets rebuilt, I will hug all the cancer patients and make sure they know I’m not afraid of catching their disease.

Anyway, Roberta stayed off and on sick for as long as I can remember. She had said she wanted three things before she died: to graduate from high school, to go to the prom with a boy, and I can’t remember what the third thing was. So my friend’s brother (who was half Mexican AND his name happened to be Robert, imagine that!) took her to her senior prom.

Everyone just thought that Robert was some sort of hero. And to be honest, everyone looked at Roberta a little differently, too, like maybe she wasn’t contagious after all. Rumors started floating that Robert and Roberta might be a couple, and even made jokes about what they would name their kids if they got married. I think it was Robertini for a boy and Robertina if it was a girl or something stupid like that. Anyway, they didn’t become a couple.

I remember my mom going to her house one afternoon to talk to her mom about some Meals on Wheels stuff, and I asked Roberta if she had a boyfriend or anything. She told me that she didn’t and then this really sad look came over her puffy face. Then all of a sudden she looked at me, smiled, and said, “I’m glad I’m single, though.”

I asked her why, and she said that it would be easier to leave this earth if she didn’t have someone special she was leaving behind. I didn’t respond. What could you say to that? There’s really nothing you could say.

She died a few weeks later. One of her last requests was to have the youth choir sing at her funeral, and I couldn’t do it. I stood up there with the rest of the choir and I moved my lips, but I couldn’t make any sounds come out. I think I was on the verge of hyperventilating. I kept thinking, “I wonder if it was easy for her to die?” Isn’t that weird? I don’t know why I was so obsessed with that.

I know what she meant, though. I love Jake, with everything in me. I don’t want to leave him behind. I wonder if it would be easier to die if he wasn’t with me.

* * * * * * * *

Friday, April 25, 2014

Post-Apocalyptic Southern Gothic Fiction-Does This Work?

A couple months ago, I wrote a flash fiction piece titled, "Then Death Spoke and I Listened." This particular post received more traffic than any other post to date. I have since pulled it off of my blog for a couple of reasons, one of which is I plan to continue the story. 

If you didn't read it, I'll catch you up. It's a post-apocalyptic story about a young girl who finds her boyfriend, Jake, dead in a field, some time after an asteroid has hit the earth. She is forced to come to terms with her own mortality, which one would presume she has already done since "the impact" that she refers to. However, there is some psychology at play here, at least in the MC's mind. Since she survived the impact, she thinks that she is untouchable, and we see her struggle with this continually.

I made the decision to further "Then Death Spoke and I Listened" in a journalistic style, and will weave elements of southern gothic into the work. So basically, it will be a post-apocalyptic southern gothic collection of flash fiction. Has this ever been done before? I have no idea. Am I going to do it anyway? You betcha! The following is an excerpt from the MC's journal:

They say time heals all wounds, but time isn’t the healer. It’s circumstance. Many suns can rise and fall, but if your circumstances remain the same, you will never heal.

For us, time has lost all meaning. Time was for when you had something to measure it against, for the days of setting alarm clocks to get up for work and for knowing when to cook dinners of fried chicken and potato salad and when the best time to leave the gym is so you can beat rush hour traffic and for sending out birthday party invitations early enough so people have time to RSVP.

Time is shit.

Years ago, Jake had taken me to this place way up in Stokes county. It was part of the Yadkin Valley trail, and there was this seemingly endless gravel drive you had to navigate just to get to the parking lot that was big enough for about two compact cars. He took me by the hand, leading me through the woods, and we walked along the river, following the train tracks for about forever. Every once in a while, the trail would take us deep into the brush where the water was completely out of sight and the tree canopies hid the sunlight so much that it looked like night in the middle of the day. Complete mind trickery. You almost felt like you were lost.

As I stepped over a tree stump, Jake had grabbed me from behind and pushed me to the ground. Laughter exploded from both of us before he fell on top of me and swallowed me whole with one of his kisses. Out of the hundreds of times Jake kissed me, that one is sealed in my memory. I remember how his tongue searched for mine, like he was kissing me for the first time, discovering me like a first date, and falling in love with me like a stranger. I didn’t care that there could be spiders in my pants or that snakes could be dangling from the branches above waiting to fall on us. I didn’t care that it looked like night in the middle of the day. I didn’t care about anything, really.

His hand slipped down my pants and grabbed my crotch that was sticky with sweat--squeezing it like he had a point to prove--and the look he gave me at that moment stopped my world. He was claiming me. He knew it and I knew it. Within seconds, my pants were down around my ankles and Jake was inside of me, moving in and out, making me his. His ownership swept over me like a warm blanket over a child coming in from a storm.

Every time we made love after that was different. Letting him take me in the woods on top of the sticks and over fallen trees changed things for me, for us. I looked up to him in a way I never had. Before that, he was my equal. After that… well, I sent him the message he could have me anywhere and anytime he wanted.

We made our way back to the car, covered in dirt and sweat and lost in love for each other. I felt safer with him then. I felt like nothing could ever hurt me. And for a while, it couldn’t. But not for long enough.

I wish I could go back to that day and relive just one minute of his penetration. I wish I could freeze that frame, hold it steady, and just watch it until my eyes bleed. I wish I could go back and tell him I love him over and over and over…

I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you….

Yeah, there is no such thing as time anymore. And my circumstances today are the same fucked up circumstances as yesterday’s. The Yadkin Valley trail day is gone, and so is today for that matter, and I don’t know if tomorrow will even come.

Fuck you, time.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I Wanna Be a Webcam Model

Yep, I want to be a webcam model, but first, a little background. There have been a lot of changes in my life over the past month. My husband and I agreed to separate and he moved out rather fast. I really couldn't blame him, what with the whole we're-broken-up-but-still-living-together awkwardness that exists when you're broken up... but still living together. Plus, just look at me. Who can tolerate that?

Since I have spent the past few years as a full-time writer and stay-at-home mom, I'm now busting my butt to find a regular paying job. It sucks. I wish I could say that I make enough money with my writing to support myself and my daughter, but the reality is, indie publishing has become a fiercely competitive business. I'm not giving up, but I am being realistic for the interim.

I have been searching through available jobs in my area, and today while touching up the roots in my hair, I got to thinking - maybe I can find something to do from home and still make enough to pay the bills. The best thing I could come up with is webcam model. Did you know that some of them make several thousand dollars per week?

It occurred to me: I kind of have an edge. I'm pretty goofy and we all know there are lots of guys who like goofballs, right? I can also play the part of MILF. I can put ponytails in and be the little innocent girl who just needs a ride to cheerleading practice, Daddy! I can imitate people, do phony accents, cry like a baby, make a piggy face, and some of us know just how beautiful my morning face is pre-coffee. I can "play" the part of dumb blonde bimbo and in an instant throw my glasses on and be a scientist. Or a librarian. I'm versatile and shit. There's just one problemo:

I could never take my clothes off for a stranger. Do you think that would be a hindrance to my career? Could I get on camera like this while completing the simple act of bleaching my hair completely clothed and still make thousands of dollars weekly? C'mon!! Who wants to hire me? I'm loads of fun! Just call 1-800-LB-Shaw! Yo!

P.S. Don't call that number. It's not real and I'm not either. In fact, this entire post was written by a bot.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Not-So Reluctant Parent (that's me)

In the process of job hunting, I came across this webpage. Don't ask me how. One job led to another which led to another which led to some photographer who would be taking nude photographs of women and Ba-da-Bing-Ba-da-Boom!!! Here I stumbled upon the site of this amazing photographer. It made me think. And it made me cry. Doesn't take much these days...

From the time I was 17 and my brother was born, I knew I wanted to be a mom. The moment my daughter emerged from within me and out into the world, my whole life took a gravitational shift. Not one thing and not one person is more important to me than my girl. I've had people come in and out of my life and hers, for good, including her father. Yet here I stand right beside her as a testament to the fact that no matter how tough it seems or how hard it is, some people will never, ever abandon you.

If you are a new father, a veteran mom or dad, a soon to be parent, or don't have kids at all and absolutely abhor or adore them, this article (with beautiful accompanying pictures) is for you:

The Reluctant Father

P.S. Bring tissues.

Monday, March 24, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

I have had the pleasure of forming some great relationships with others via social networking, some of them indies and some of them just plain crazies like me. Ha! I suppose all of us indies are a little crazy in our own special way.

Recently, I was invited to participate in a writing process blog tour. I believe it's making the rounds quite heavily amongst indie authors, and Suzy Ayers was gracious enough to include me.

Suzy writes in the erotica, erotic romance, and fantasy genre. She is extremely prolific with her stories and publications. I would love it if you would take a look at her blog by clicking here and show her some support.

Suzy asked me to answer the following questions:

1. What are you working on?

Most of my regular followers probably know that I am no longer writing erotica. Several months ago, I began exploring dark fiction and immediately knew that it was the right genre for me. I AM finishing up a time-travel romance infused with a D/s (Domination-submission) spice that I hope to have published during the Spring. I'm also in the midst of a paranormal gothic fiction short story, a horror micro-story with elements of implied incest, and I plan to crank out another micro or flash fiction piece to submit to a writing contest for Glimmer Train magazine this week. As usual, I have my hands full with more than I should.

2. How does your work differ from others in its genre?

All gothic fiction writers have their own pain they bring to their stories, and mine are no exception. I write from the heart, from deep inside that cavernous, dark place, and I draw not only from personal experience, but from the pain of not knowing, from the regret of what could have been, and from the fear of the unknown.

I also like to inject something of a spin off to the anti-hero in my fiction, the character who goes against the anti-hero, AKA, the villain hero... that really sick and sinister bad guy who has one redeeming quality that makes him likable, lovable, whatever. You forget he's a really sick fuck because of that one thing he does to make him a hero of sorts. He's not always the main villain, but he IS demented and is ultimately a source of conflict. In the end, he saves the day. Think of someone like Dexter, but darker, more dangerous. He is the Dexter who kills the good guy for the thrill, but comes home to violently protect his wife and daughter. You won't know that he's the villain until the end when he saves the day. By then, the reader has fallen hopelessly in love with him, and this will cause a split amongst readership. Some will be furious that he's the bad guy and immediately reject him, and others will support him and every ounce of his mad but sexy vileness.

3. Why do you write what you do?

I can't imagine not being able to write gothic and horror. I have been drawn to dark, creepy, and psychologically twisted things for as long as I can remember. Since I am a masochist, I enjoy writing deeply painful stories that don't always have a happy ending. Life is full of pain and hardship, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. Pain and hardship bring about personal growth and can lead to new opportunities.

Many of my stories involve death, but often this organic death is symbolic of other things: the death of a relationship, death of a job, a major life change, etc. Every day, we experience death in some way, even something as seemingly insignificant as the death of the day, when we close our eyes at night and go to sleep assuming that tomorrow will come.

4. How does your writing process work?

I typically come up with a story idea from a single line. This line will start the piece. From there, I simply begin writing and the story tells itself as I move along. I rarely plan each scene from start to finish. I'll have an idea of the basic plot, but the characters reveal themselves and their actions to me as I write.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read. And now, this girl has work to do!