November 30, 2009

The Inspiration to Write: Author Djuanna Brockington

The Writer

Djuanna Brockington has been writing fiction and creative non-fiction for four years. These days she's either writing, thinking about writing, reading books and blogs about writing, or beating herself up for not writing.

Her short fiction can be found on her website Diva Fiction Bytes. She has also written an e-book entitled "Home Alone: When Your Office Doubles as Your Guest Room," and she is working on a series of novellas for e-publishing in the very near future.

You can learn more about Djuanna by checking her out on Twitter and Facebook.


What inspires you to write?
Initially, it was hard for me to pin down what inspires me to write. I turned the concept over in my mind for days and came up with nothing. That was because I was looking for the pat answer-the thing that would sound all lofty and scholarly. And since that is so not me, I hit a mental wall. When I got real with myself, I realized that I’m inspired by the desire to create funny stories with smart characters that lead interesting lives, and yet are highly relatable. Like my unnamed main character in The Date-my very first short story. She’s self-employed, a catch in her own right, exhausted from finishing up a three week project, and yet she goes on a blind date at the insistence of her best friend. Bad date ensues. Just like millions of women around the world.

Where do you find inspiration to create your stories?
I most frequently get inspired by the antics of my family and friends. Things that happen to other people always seem way more interesting than the stuff happening in my life. I’m always asking myself the question: “What if things had gone this way or that, instead of the way they’ve actually played out?” I’m sort of never satisfied with what is. I’ve got to make it into something else. Which is good, because by the time I’m done with a story, the original subject can’t recognize him/herself. You keep your friends that way.

When I’m not pilfering from the life happenings of folks I know, I’m wondering about the “back story” of famous folks. You know, the road they traveled to their particular version of success, some of their trials and tribulations, and of course, triumphs. Not in a paparazzi/stalkerish kind of way, but more like an objective observer. Who is probably going to use an obscure incident and create an entire story around it.

Probably the biggest inspiration for me is emotion. When I’m happy, I start thinking about happy storylines that I can write. When I’m in pain, I wondering how I can use that as well. Besides telling a good story, I’ve always believed that part of a writer’s job is to evoke emotion (whether it’s for a character’s circumstance or because of a character’s behavior). The challenge is to write in a way that genuine and not a trivialization of emotion. Sometimes it can be hard to do, but damn awesome when I pull it off. My flash fiction A Little Help From My Friends was all about the emotion.

Most of all, though, I am inspired to write because leaving my stories untold just feels wrong.

A Taste of Fiction

Brockington's A Little Help from My Friends...

Friends often swear that they will always be there for one another, that the bonds of friendship will last through thick and through thin. In Jenna’s case, it was actually sick and sin. She was about to put her friendships to the ultimate test. She was sick, and she needed them to help her commit a sin.

“I want you both to help me commit suicide.” She slowly looked up from her penne pasta and Italian sausage. What she saw was shock on the faces of the two women who meant the most to her in the world.

Alice put her fork down and absorbed the silence while Rita audibly gasped.

“My cancer is back. And it’s spreading like a motherfucka. I can’t do the chemo and the radiation again. It was horrible. Besides, the cancer’s so bad, it would probably be of little use. I’ve decided it’s time for me to call it quits. I want you guys to help me. Correction. I NEED you guys to help me. I’m afraid I’ll back out at the last minute. And this is truly what I want.”

Seconds stretched into minutes. Rita finally found her voice, and though she spoke in a quiet tone, the anger was unmistakable. “You bring us to this posh restaurant to tell us that you want us to help you kill yourself. Did you think we would behave ourselves? No scenes, right? Because Jenna The Control Freak can’t stand scenes. I can’t believe this. You did not just ask me to help you die!”

“Rita, please. I didn’t know how else to tell you. I found out last week at my annual check up. Remission was nice while it lasted, but it’s over for me. The results are pretty clear.”

Alice remained silent, yet tears streamed down her face. She twisted the napkin in her hands, which caused her knuckles to whiten.

Rita’s eyes were dry, but her face was contorted. The pain was evident. “What does your husband have to say about this? Why didn’t you ask him to kill you?” Her voice catches in her throat as reality sunk in on a physical level.

“Alex doesn’t know. And he would never agree to it anyway. He’s not strong enough to let me go on his own. I’m all he has left. We don’t have children. His parents are gone. He has no sisters or brothers to see him through this. There is no way in hell he will agree to help me. You guys are it. And I need you now, more than ever. Besides, we talked about this the first time I got sick, and you both agreed that you would do whatever it takes to see me through this. Well, it’s going to take you helping me commit suicide.”

Jenna’s facade of strength started to slip away. She looked like she was about to collapse in on herself. It was then that her friends can see her frailty. She was sick, and had been for some time.

“I’ll help you.” Alice’s voice was small but determined. She repeated herself. “I’ll help you, Jenna. And so will Rita.” She reached across the table and grabbed a hand from each friend. Time slowed enough for them to absorb one another’s strength and determination, and to start to say “goodbye” in silence.

November 23, 2009

The Inspiration to Write: Author L. J. Sellers

The Writer

L.J. Sellers is an award-winning journalist, editor, novelist, and occasional standup comic based in Eugene, Oregon. She writes the Detective Wade Jackson mystery series. Two are in print, The Sex Club and Secrets to Die For, and two more are in the works. Thrilled to Death will be released next August, and a standalone thriller, The Baby Thief, will be released in 2010. When not plotting murders, L.J. enjoys cycling, gardening, social networking, attending conferences, hanging out with her family, and editing fiction manuscripts.

Come learn more about Sellers at the following cyber-outlets:

The Book

A social worker visits the home of a young boy she has been assigned to and is brutally murdered shortly after. To Detective Jackson, it looks like an open-and-shut case against the ex-con father of the young boy. Complications develop when new evidence points to a serial rapist whose violence is escalating. Meanwhile, the murder victim’s lover knows something about the rape victims but has secrets of her own that she’s afraid to reveal. Soon she is kidnapped and held captive, and Jackson must uncover the truth in time to save her.

Click on cover to purchase your copy of Secrets to Die For today!

Check out the trailer to Seller's debut novel in the Detective Wade Jackson series: The Sex Club!


What inspires you to write?
Even as a young student, I was one of those nerds who liked to write reports. Pouring through encyclopedias and library books was a pleasure. Then pulling the information together in my own words was an enjoyable task. So it made sense when I started college to enroll in the journalism school. Why not get paid to do something I enjoyed? I loved reading fiction even more than encyclopedias. The occasional short story assignment in high school and college was fun too, but it was harder for me than nonfiction. I struggled to come up with short creative narratives. I never thought I could write a novel until I was almost thirty. One day I was reading a book that was so bad, I threw it down in disgust and thought, I could write a better story than that. Then I decided to see if I really could craft a whole novel. I’d certainly read my share and thought I understood story structure well enough to give it a try.

Jeffrey Dahmer was in the news then and I was raising three little boys, so I wrote about what I feared most: pedophile killers. Crafting the story was therapeutic…and addictive. I loved plotting and creating characters and writing from the POV of the antagonist. As soon as I finished the first story, I started brainstorming the next. And it’s been like that since. What inspires me to write is the joy I experience in telling stories, crime stories in particular. But I’ve also written five screenplays, three of which are comedies based on amusing things in my life (quitting smoking, obsessing about shoes, and traveling with adolescent boys).

I’m a storyteller now, and I’m not truly happy unless I have a work in progress. I also believe writing novels is about control and having the ability to make things turn out the way I want them to, at least on paper for awhile. Writing is also a great way to work through my fears and to process the unpleasant things that happen in life.

Where do you find inspiration to create your stories?
The inspiration for my crime novels comes mostly from news stories that surprise or confuse me or stick in my brain for some other reason. I’m fascinated with people who on the surface seem normal to their friends and neighbors, but then they commit some heinous crime, often for some minor reason. I start thinking about how they got to that point, and from that, a story will develop.

I’m also inspired by passion. People who are fired up and committed to their causes—even the misguided ones—fascinate me. They make great characters. For example, my first novel, The Sex Club, was inspired by the Bush administration’s decisions about access to birth control and abstinence-only sex education. (And yes, I consider the Bush era to be an unpleasant thing that happened in my life.) I worried about the consequences for young people. A news story about a group of promiscuous middle school kids was also on my mind. Throw in a passionate, but misguided anti-abortionist, and it all came together in a complex, action-packed story.
The novel I’m working on now is inspired by the economic downturn and how devastating it is for many families. I’m usually writing, on some level, about whatever social issue weighs most heavily on my mind.


From novel, Secrets to Die For...

Chapter 1

Wednesday, February 13

Raina shut off the motor and glanced up at the puke-green doublewide with a chunk of plywood over the front window. The near dusk couldn’t hide the broken dreams of the trailer’s occupants, Bruce and Cindy Gorman. Raina wasn’t here to see them. She was here for Josh, their eight-year-old son.

As a children’s support advocate, Raina had been assigned to monitor Josh six months ago, when the state of Oregon had taken temporary custody and placed the boy in foster care. Her primary responsibility was to stay in touch with Josh and to ensure the system did not fail him. During that time, the Gormans had danced all the right steps–anger management for him, parenting classes for her, and a rehab program for both. So now Josh was back in their care, and this was Raina’s last official contact…for now.

Her heart was flip-flopping, just like it did on her last day of high school. She was happy for Josh, but she despised Bruce and would be glad to never see him again, even though she knew it was petty to feel that way. Raina wished she were more mature, more objective, like the other CSA volunteers. At twenty, she and Jamie were the youngest in the group. Raina had become quite fond of Josh and would miss him terribly. She loved their long walk-and-talks along the river path, with Josh pointing out every bug he saw. It had been like having a little brother. Her counselor had been right when she’d advised Raina to do some volunteer work. Giving was the best way of receiving.

Raina stepped out of the Volvo and pulled in a quick breath of frigid February air. The smell of dog shit assaulted her senses. So much for her lofty ideals. She hurried to the door, hoping the dog, a Boxer named Brat, was either locked in the bathroom or deep in the woods behind the trailer. Raina shivered in the cold foul silence. The house was at least a half mile from the nearest neighbor.

Bruce pulled the door open a few inches before she could knock. “Josh is in bed, so come back tomorrow.” His voice was raspy from a lifetime of cigarettes, and his hairline had gone north on both sides. Bruce should have been a big man, but years of slouching took inches off his height and an old meth habit left him scrawny in a way that rehab couldn’t fix.

“I just need a few minutes with him, so I can make some final notes.”

“I told you, he’s not feeling well,” Bruce said through clenched teeth.

“Then all the more reason I should see him.”

“Not now.” Bruce started to close the door.

Raina stood her ground. “The custody order isn’t final yet. They’re waiting for my report. And it’s not convenient for me to come back tomorrow. I have classes.” She sounded braver than she felt.

“Don’t threaten me, you snot-nosed little–”

Cindy’s voice boomed from the kitchen. “Let her in, Bruce. Might as well get it over with.”

Raina wasn’t sure she still wanted to enter the trailer. She needed to know that Josh was okay, that the boy hadn’t changed his mind about going home to his parents. He had been quite excited on Sunday when she and Josh’s caseworker had picked him up to bring him here. The image of him standing on the ramshackle porch with his faded duffle bag, looking uncertain, haunted her. Raina had not slept well since.

“Josh, come out here for a minute!” Cindy yelled down the hallway. Raina cringed. Her mother had been a screamer too.

Bruce kept the door blocked. He turned his head and hollered, “Stay in bed!” Then to Cindy, he yelled, “Goddammit, woman. Don’t contradict me. That little bitch is not coming in, and Josh is not coming out.” Bruce turned back to Raina and growled through the partially open door. “You better forget you came out here tonight. And this conversation better not end up in the file.”

Then it hit Raina. The paranoia, the anger, the need to dominate. She knew all the signs. She had witnessed them plenty as a child. Bruce was using again. He was high on meth right now. Oh dear God.

Raina took a step back. Every muscle in her body wanted to run for the car. It had always been her instinct as a child too. It was a mistake. Meth dopers often had predatory responses. If you ran, they attacked. Raina still had the scars. Her mother had been quite quick on her feet.

Raina coached herself to stay calm. Just nod and move away slowly. Don’t make eye contact. Get to the car and lock the doors.

She took a step back. What about Josh? Was he okay? Panic pushed out of her stomach and into her throat. Had they already abused him? Is that why Bruce didn’t want her to see the boy?

Without thinking, she called out, “Josh, are you okay?”

Oh shit. Why had she done that?

“Fuck you.” Bruce leaned out the door, no longer caring that she could see his hugely dilated pupils. “You don’t know a fucking thing. Get the fuck out of here and keep your fucking mouth shut.” Spit flew from his mouth with every f. “If we lose Josh again, I’ll fucking kill you.”

Raina inched back, a half step at a time, feeling for the edge of the porch with her toes.

“Move, you little bitch.” Bruce lunged through the door.

Raina turned and ran.

It was only thirty feet to her car, but every step on the dirt path felt sticky and treacherous in the near dark. Heart pounding, she reached the Volvo, yanked open the door, and jumped in. Her knee slammed into the steering wheel, but she didn’t have time to process the pain. Eyes watering, Raina hit the automatic door lock and started the engine. Only then did she look up. Bruce was barreling toward her, about ten feet from the car. Raina shoved the gearshift into reverse and hit the gas. As she cranked the wheel left, aiming for the gravel turnaround tucked into the trees, Bruce slipped and went down hard. Raina let out her breath, jammed the transmission into drive, and sped down the gravel road, bouncing through every pothole instead of taking the time to go around. For a fleeting second, she wished she had run over Bruce while he was down.

Raina cursed herself for coming out here. She had been advised to see Josh only in neutral settings. She cursed herself for handling the situation so badly. Drug addicts! Disease or not, sometimes she hated all of them. Dead mother included.

Raina checked her rear view mirror for headlights but didn’t see anyone coming behind her. Maybe Bruce had hurt himself when he fell. Or perhaps he’d decided to take out his anger on Cindy because she was closer and easier. Raina desperately hoped he would leave Josh alone.

She decided to go straight to the police. She couldn’t prove that Josh was in immediate danger, but Bruce had threatened to kill her. That had to be against the law. The bastard. He’d better not hurt Josh. As soon as she was on the main road, she would call Mariah Martin, Josh’s caseworker at Child Welfare Services. Mariah would get a court order and get Josh out of that hellhole by tomorrow.

Distracted by her scattered thoughts, Raina almost missed the single curve in the quarter-mile driveway. She braked and pulled hard on the steering wheel, barely keeping the car from smacking into a giant Douglas fir. It was dark now, and she was anxious to get back into the bright lights and safety of Eugene city streets. She didn’t want to die in one of those mysterious single-car accidents, so she kept her speed reasonable. Raina checked the rearview mirror again. No car lights behind directly her. With Pine Grove Road only a hundred yards ahead, she started to relax.

Out of nowhere came a loud popping sound. Not quite like a gunshot, but loud enough to jumpstart her heart into frantic mode. Instinctively, Raina pressed the gas pedal, but the car didn’t respond well. It pulled to the left and made a grinding sound. Oh no. She’d blown a tire and was riding on the rim. She had probably run over something sharp. Shit, shit, shit! Of all times.

Raina tried to keep driving, thinking it would be better to reach the road, but the grinding was unbearable, so she coasted to a stop. Now what? She knew how to change a flat tire; her grandmother had made sure of that. Yet the sliver of moonlight wasn’t enough, and crazy Bruce was still back there somewhere. Be smart, she told herself. Call for help.

Raina reached into her purse for her cell phone, thinking she would call Jamie first. Jamie would bring her dad. Mr. Conner would have a spotlight in the back of his truck and make short work of changing the tire.

The call wouldn’t go through. Damn! Seven miles out of town, and she couldn’t pick up a tower. She tried again. Dead air. Raina decided to step out of the Volvo just long enough to try the call again. After a quick glance back down the road, she unlocked the door and pressed speed-dial #2. As she reached for the handle, the door flew open and a powerful force yanked her from the car.

Raina started to cry out, but her head smacked against the hard metal at the top of the door opening. Searing pain paralyzed her voice, and all that came out was a pathetic mewing sound. A calloused hand with an odd metal smell clamped over her mouth. Raina struggled, but a big arm squeezed her like a python holding its next meal. Fingers plunged into her hair, then slammed her head against the side of the car.

More searing pain. Oh God, he was going to kill her.

Bam! Her head smashed into the car again. As she passed out, Raina’s last thought was, I love you, Jamie.

Chapter Two
Thursday, February 14

Kera was talking, but Jackson wasn’t listening. He couldn’t stop thinking about sex. After two years of near celibacy at the end of an angry marriage, he had met this incredible woman and now he was obsessed. He was sharing Valentine’s Day and a plate of tasty beef tournedos with a gorgeous intelligent woman–and all he could think about was getting to her house and getting naked.

“I’m sorry, this isn’t interesting to you.” Kera looked concerned for a moment, then laughed. “But you really should try to hide it better.” Her green eyes twinkled with amusement. In the short time he’d known her, Jackson had been surprised again and again by how resilient this woman was.

November 16, 2009

The Inspiration to Write: Author Anjuelle Floyd, Part One

The Writer

Anjuelle Floyd is the author of Keeper of Secrets…Translations of an Incident, a collection of interconnected short stories, and a novel, The House, due for publication in Fall 2009.

A wife of twenty-seven years, mother of three, she is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in mother-daughter relations and dream work. Anjuelle graduated Duke University, and earned a MA in Counseling Psychology from The California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, and a MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, Port Townsend, Washington.

She has also attended the Dominican Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley, California. Anjuelle has received certificates of participation from The Hurston-Wright Writers’ Week and The Voices of Our Nations Writing Workshops.

Anjuelle is a writing instructor at Perelandra College.

A student of Process Painting for the last decade, Anjuelle has participated in The Art of Living Black Exhibitions 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 held at the Richmond Art Center, Richmond, California.

Anjuelle facilitates writing groups and provides individual consultation of fiction projects.

She also hosts the weekly blog talk radio show, Book Talk, Creativity and Family Matters.

Read Anjuelle’s blog @!

The Books

One truth begets
another as a tale of passionate
confrontation in a restaurant travels from
eyewitnesses to others present.

Memories of the Hindu icon of dancing Siva compel wife and mother, Raven Clarke, to intervene in the attack of one restaurant patron on another.

Watching from a distant table, Lahni Irete finds herself driven back to the violence of her childhood and adolescence. She shares her account of the happening with psychiatrist, Reynard Williams, who embraces the tale in efforts to confront the pain that has left him sexually and spiritually impotent.

Williams seeks consultation from Sahel Denning, an injured psychologist no longer practicing psychotherapy.

The restaurant incident offers engineer, Michael Banks, a map to recalling the events of the morning before he fell from scaffolding on the Richmond Bridge.

Rumor and innuendo cloud Ariane Gadsen's acquaintance with the story that propels her towards reconciling her childhood loss.

The restaurant scene stirred regret and despair within Trey Williamson, a widower on his first date since the death of his wife.

Newly discharged Captain Darryl Sharpton receives safety and redemption from his most dark and intimate truth in the restaurant where the incident took place.

What would you do if you learned the person you were divorcing is dying?

On receiving the very thing she wants, a divorce and the power to sell their house, Anna Manning learns that Edward, her soon-to-be ex-husband, is dying. A faithful wife for over three decades, Anna endured Edward's constant absences while traveling on business for his international real estate firm, and his extra-marital affairs.

Anna takes Edward to live out his last six, possibly three, months in the house she fought so vigorously to sell. But letting go of someone who has caused so much pain does not come easily.

Edward has changed.

As their children return home, and say their farewells Anna confronts the challenges that Edward's impending death delivers each of them. Then there is Inman who loves Anna, and provides the one thing Edward denied their marriage—passion and intimacy.

Anna must also face the hopes and dreams she abandoned as an art history major turned wife, and mother out of college. In requesting the divorce she had planned to use her proceeds from the sale of the house to move to France. She would study the great art works of Europe, perhaps work as a docent in a Paris museum.

News of Edward’s terminal illness provokes Anna to understand the present rooted in the wellspring of the past, and pouring into a future without him. The House shows what happens when we adopt the belief that, All hold regret, and are seeking forgiveness. Our salvation rests in the hands of others—most particularly the ones whom we love most, and who have treated us wrongly.

Click on the covers above to learn more about each work!


What inspires you to write?

Conflict that results from life's dilemmas and problems, both mine, and the ones with which I witness others struggle.

On a deeper level I seek to answer the perennial question, "Why?"

"Why did she do this? Why did he do that?"

These questions usually center on why an individual acted in a manner that left another person or persons feeling hurt. Why would person A say that to Person B when Person B is crying, doubling over with pain, their eyes full of tears, their hands shaking. And these are not instances where Person B has acted in a way to deserve the response they are getting.

In short, my stories seek to answer the question Why does Person A hurt Person B, whom other characters in story and you the reader can see is, while not a person, has done nothing for Person A to treat them this way.

Since my stories involve families and center on family conflicts, they see to answer the question, why did she treat her family member that way?

I'm particularly taken with why parents treat their children as they do.

Yet the focus of my stories usually begins with a conflict affecting and/or separating spouses.

Interestingly, and quite different from what pop psychology teaches, I have found in the experience of my work as a psychotherapist that our same-sex parent and the relationship with that parent heavily influences our intimate relationships with spouses and significant others.

How a father treats his son sets the stage for the nature in which that son will or will not relate to women and/or his adult partners. The same goes for women and their significant others and spouses.

The relationship we have with our same-sex parent is what we call twinning. By the nature that we share the same gender, the activities and things we do with our mothers, if we are daughters, and with our fathers if we are sons, directly shapes how we view ourselves. How we view ourselves shapes the way we perceive and interact with the world.

While parents are our first teachers, our spouses and significant others serve as our last teachers. Those to whom we bid farewell when leaving this life. And in various cases, hope to encounter during the next.

Whether we are agnostic, atheist or a believer, the psychological essence of our marriage contracts in the West that are based on Christian teachings that emphasize the act of leaving our parents who have raised us and cleaving to our spouse and partner. Yet, what we achieve psychologically, spiritually and materially rests upon what has or has not taken place during the first 15-18 years of life with or without our parents.

Orphans and children of foster care have difficulty trusting. Children of the wealthy often struggle with separating material ownership and achievement from love. Those whose parents have given them what some consider a charmed life, and in that no life contains perfection, often find it a challenge to develop patience with those persons who see their life as charmed.

"All I have to offer is my difference."---an existentialist quote.

And yet we live in a culture bound ironing out differences and creating homogeneity.

But is those who are so vastly different from us that provide the backdrop, if not the very fuel that boosts us into awareness of the far reaching aspects of our own personalities, the galaxies that lie within us. Astrology teaches that we can certain dimensions of our character are accessible to us only through interaction with another.
The psychology of Christianity teaches that our spouse is ideally that person who brings us into contact with these other aspects of our personality, that wife is to husband and husband is to wife, that special Other who brings us into relationship with The Other that lives within us.

The union of that which we know of ourselves, and our Other is termed the inner marriage. Thus the external marriage in which we live as husband wife, mirrors the internal married of heart and mind, soul and body.

Theses various dimensions of interaction with self and spouse create the stepping-stones and foundation for encountering God.

Hinduism states, "Blessed is the householder."

Our interactions with various members of our family mother, father, wife, husband, brother, sister, grandmother and grandfather bring us into consciousness of who we are and what we are becoming as deemed by our the desires of our hearts working in tandem with universal divinings.

I am. You are. And thus, We become.

My stories depict who we are, you and I, and show when working together, who we can truly become.

Part Two of Anjuelle's feature is LIVE at ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING!


"Dancing Siva" - from Keeper of Secrets...Translations of an Incident

Raven stifled a yawn as she stared at the wooden icon of Siva. Another night had passed with her being awakened by the wails of her four-month-old daughter, Kaarin. Raven had gone to Kaarin’s bed, taken her from the crib, and cradling the infant, lay down in the bed of the guest room. It had been this way nearly every night since Kaarin’s birth. Kaarin never cried during the day.

Raven contemplated the mahogany carving of Siva dancing within the ring of fire. Its eyes, mere slits, appeared to widen. The icon’s four arms seemed to reach out, beckoning her. Raven’s soul was thirsty, parched from Kaarin’s nightly screams.

Absylom’s father had carved the statue now standing on the bookcase by Raven’s bed.

Absylom had given it to her. Two months after marrying Drew, Raven aborted Absylom’s child. The fetus had been four months. Now after sixteen years as Drew’s wife, and mother to their three daughters, Raven stood searching Siva’s face, wondering, as on every night when Kaarin cried, about the life she aborted. Drew exited the bathroom while buttoning his shirt, and approached Raven. “It’s last minute, but I’m meeting a client for dinner tonight. His wife is coming.” Drew began arranging his tie. “I’d like you there.”

“Why?” Raven turned from the bookcase. “It’ll make him feel safer.”

“That’s your job.” Catching one last glimpse of the wooden deity, Raven began making her side of the bed. “Besides, my braids need to be redone. I don’t know if I can get Nilini to sit.” Raven resented the way Drew sought to make comfortable and defended the guilty. He inserted the second cuff link into the holes of his French cuffs, and walked to her, lifted her chin. “You look fine.”

“My presence won’t wipe out your client’s sins.” “But it can help his wife.” “And, why should I help her?” “Because I’m your husband.” Drew let go of Raven’s chin, then in the low, attorney-like tone used when addressing clients in public places, “We can’t keep going like this. Kaarin’s crying, this lack of sleep—it’s making you cranky.”

“I’m fine.” Raven turned back to the bed and bolstered her pillow.

“You’re not. How could you be? You haven’t gotten a decent night’s sleep since she was born.”

Raven went around Drew and began straightening the covers on his side of the bed. “She’ll be fine.”

Drew followed her. “Let Kaarin sleep with us.” “She needs to learn to sleep in her bed.” “Like that’s happening now? That’s not what you said about Anisha or Emily. They slept with us for at least a year.”

“Kaarin’s different.” Raven patted Drew’s pillow.

“How is that? She looks just like you.” Drew captured Raven’s hand. She snatched it back, threw down his pillow.

As if knowing what lay hallowed and untouched between them for sixteen years, Drew slapped Raven with a stare of his own. His neck, the color of Georgia clay against his white collar, called to her. Raven searched Drew’s brown eyes, inhaled the scent of his cologne, a mixture of eucalyptus and herbs. She imagined burying her lips in his neck above the mauve tie, and resting her head on his chest. She sighed heavily. “I don’t want to go with you tonight.”

Raven wondered if her eyes were flickering green, as Drew said they did when she was angry. Absylom had said the same. She lowered her head.

“I miss you,” Drew sighed. “I want you beside me at night.” He leaned forward, kissed her forehead and caressed her shoulders. “The reservation’s at eight.”
Raven exhaled. Drew then whispered, “I’ll be home at six-thirty to shower and change.” He pulled away as he added, “--if you care to come.”

November 9, 2009

The Inspiration to Write: Author Christin Haws

The Writer

Christin Haws is a writer without a day job currently living in a small town in the middle of a cornfield. Her short story "Such a Pretty Face" won 10th place in the genre category of Writer Digest's 77th Annual Story Contest. Two more of her short stories are currently available. "My Winter with Stanley" can be found on and "Hillibilly Hunt" is featured in the Pill Hill Press anthology Middle of Nowhere: Horror in Rural America. Her short story "Customer Service" will be available in an upcoming issue of Ruthless Peoples Magazine. She's currently working on several more short stories, is in the process of writing her fifth novel, and looks forward to the day she finally gets her first one published. Christin is easily stalkable via Livejournal [link] and Twitter [link].


What inspires you to write?

I've never really thought about what inspires me to write because I've just always done it. I wrote my first word at three and my first story at six and have yet to stop. It's just what I do. Growing up, I wrote dozens of plays, notebooks full of stories that were never finished, and pages of poetry. Writing has always been my preferred outlet and method of communication. I've always liked putting pen to paper. Even if I hadn't recently decided to try to make a career of writing, even if my life had taken a completely different path, I know I'd still be writing. I guess I'm not so much inspired to write as I'm wired to write.

Where do you find inspiration to create your stories?

You always hear about people getting their brilliant ideas in the shower. Mine come to me while I'm doing laundry. Our washer is in the basement and we don't have a dryer, so that means the clothes are either hung on the outside line if it's nice or, in the winter, slung over the line that's strung up downstairs. I've gotten several story ideas while pulling wet clothes out of a washer that was made sometime before I was born. I not only got the original idea for "Such a Pretty Face" while doing laundry, but it was also while I was doing that chore that I got the idea that saved the story from the trash can after more than a year of revisions and rewrites on it. I don't know what about doing laundry in that chilly, concrete room that inspires my creative process. Maybe it's because my short stories are all horror stories and my basement looks like it could easily be a set in a horror film.

I'm not only inspired by domestic tasks, but also by life in general. "Customer Service" started out as a retail revenge fantasy, an inevitability as far as I was concerned after spending several years in the business dealing with every kind of rudeness available (don't get me wrong, there were good ones, too, but it's the rude ones that still haunt me); an inevitability that best occurred fictionally. However, as it sometimes goes with revising and rewriting, it turned into something with a little more body and heart and a little less vengeance, but still very satisfying to a former retailer with a few rude ghosts lingering around.

"Hillbilly Hunt" was the product of several different little sparks of inspiration being put together to create a whole story. That happens to me quite a bit. I keep a little notebook just for those little sparks. Scenes, snippets of conversation, a line of dialogue, a comeback, an insult, odd thoughts, striking details, random facts. Sometimes these little sparks are enough to start and sustain a whole story. Sometimes, like with "Hillbilly Hunt", it takes two or three. "Hillbilly Hunt" started as my desire to do a different take on a common horror trope. The opening scene of the story and the twist I needed both came from my notebook.

Any little thing can be the catalyst for the creative process so I try to keep my eyes open. I don't want to miss an opportunity, even if I don't know how I'm going to use it or when I'm going to use it. Inspiration really is everywhere, I think.

Even in the laundry.


From My Winter with Stanley

My name is Maisie Day and people will tell me anything.

My mother calls it "the gift of openness". Anyone, whether I know them or not, will tell me any truth about themselves, whether I ask them or not. And I rarely ask. This sort of thing is fine with family and close friends, awkward and uncomfortable with acquaintances and coworkers, and down right terrifying and boggling with strangers. It’s a bus, not a confessional.

My mother calls it a gift; I call it a pain in the ass. Mom has repeatedly lectured me on using my power for good. I think she meant that I should become a therapist or a journalist or an interrogator. Expose the truth, catch bad guys, help people.

I don’t think she meant for me to become a writer and use what people freely tell me as fodder for stories. I think she’d call that exploitation. I call it my fee, the price someone pays for assaulting me with their life against my will. It’s not like I’m getting rich off of it; just making a living.

Some people may argue that it’s not very creative, that it’s lazy writing. Believe me, it takes a lot of creativity and work to make reality believable enough for fiction.

There’s a place I go when the idea pit is running dry or I’m in need of some stimulation. It’s an out of the way, yet busy café buried in LA, not too far from my apartment. I take a notebook, get a tea, grab a table, and just soak myself in the human experience.

One particularly busy day, I found myself setting my tea down on the last available table, one outside with a green and white umbrella to shield me from the winter glare. I doodled and scribbled, catching bits of conversation, interesting fashion choices, appalling social rituals.

I was just finishing an amazingly childish drawing of an ice cream cone when someone cleared their throat to my left. I looked up at the most eye piercing Hawaiian shirt I’d ever seen, bright green with big red parrots everywhere. I looked up to the owner of the monstrosity and found a stick figure with a vulture’s nose, Buddy Holly glasses, and black straw that was supposed to be hair.

"Can I help you?" I asked, knowing he was really beyond my help.

A plastic surgeon and a fashion guru couldn’t fix that mess.

"Would you mind if I sat with you?" the stickman asked. "There’s no tables left. I promise, I won’t bother you."

He held up a book and an iced coffee.

I shrugged. "Sure."

Stickman sat down across from me, setting his drink on the glorified patio table.

"My name’s Stanley," he said. "Stanley Ivanov. There, I’ve identified myself. No worries that I’ll be attacking you later."

I snorted. "Thanks for that.

Read the rest of "My Winter with Stanley" at

November 4, 2009

The Inspiration to Write: Author, Poet Chamsil

The Writer

CHAMSIL (pronounced "shahm-sill") is a Kalamazoo, Michigan-bred/Orlando, Florida-based writer, poet, spoken word artist, spoken word radio show host and author of five books/stories that have been released via the web which include Of This Analverse (An Erotiq Comedy), The Exploitation of Innocence (A Story), The Khaos of Kai, eThugs R Us, and Ten Thirty-Eight. He can be reached directly at

Chamsil is all over the internet; check him out at...

MySpace: (Main Writer Page)
MySpace: (Entertainment Page)
MySpace: (Spoken Word Show Page)

The Books

Cincinnati, Ohio. 21st Century.

Kommandhoe and Boogieman claim to be the hardest, toughest, and most hardcore thugs wreaking complete havoc and sheer intimidation in their urban wasteland...which happens to

be the information superhighway.

However, when their threats befall the 'wrong' individual, the anty is upped, the stakes are raised and they become the targets...literally.

Time is not on their side...

They just don't know it yet...

Detroit, Michigan. 21st Century.

Jacorri Isaacs is a young man simply trying to make it. By sixteen, he had seen his parents split up and endured the struggle of coming up in a single-parent household, but he's remained resilient through it all.

When faced with a proposition that could catapult him into manhood, he is forced to decide whether or not to succumb to forces that not only will test him from an emotional perspective, but primarily from a physical one.

This is the simply...The crazy life & times of Jacorri Isaacs.

Both eThugs R Us and Ten Thirty-Eight are downloadable for FREE via Chamsil's MySpace page.


What inspires you to write?

My greatest inspiration to write comes from just having a creative soul. I experience great excitement by being able to come up with a captivating book, story, poem, and/or characters that resonate with readers so profoundly, that they can totally see themselves in the things that I write. I am greatly inspired by the things that I see around me, as well. It is also people who give me inspiration to write. In 2008, I wrote a novel, that was solely intended to be distributed via the internet, titled "Of This Analverse" (An Erotiq Comedy). The book was well-received by the hundred-plus people who downloaded and read it and I was very happy with both the results and responses. One of my friends, that I network with, was so captivated by one of the characters in the book, that she insisted that I should write something with that same character being the focal point in a proposed new book idea. The end result: "The Khaos of Kai" was another hit on the web. I was also, very pleased with the reception and feedback. Also, my keen visual sense, enables triggers in my brain to expand something, initially small, into something so powerful and poignant that sometimes my finished product sends chills up my own spine. It's kind of scary. I just love creating. I'll keep creating for as long as God gives me life and the ability to do so.

Where do you find inspiration to create your stories?

I get inspired by a wide variety of things. I'm always online, so it could be something that I read or see that may motivate me to write. It could be people that I talk to, that are going through the motions of life, that may prompt me to craft something. It could be something that I'm going through, in my own personal life, that could prompt a story to be written. Then also, it could just be my crazy mind that goes into overdrive and begin crafting with that trigger. A perfect example of that is a literary piece that I wrote titled, "Cleodis" (The Bedroom Gangsta). This character is no way, shape or form, a reflection of who I am, but I went crazy when I wrote this character and how he handles himself in an "intimate" encounter with the fairer sex. I really enjoyed writing that. The bad thing about it is, my mind seems to always be thinking of new things to write, even when I really would prefer to relax. I think this is a clear indication that I need to be writing full-time. I strongly believe that writing is my calling. I have so many ideas and concepts that are sitting on my mental shelf, that NEED to be taken off and read. They need to be displayed for the whole world to see. I'm on my way. It is just going to take a little time, that's all. But, I am patient.


From eThugs R Us

DATE: 03/26/2009
TIME: 03:37 AM EST

(Kerry Hicks)

I wake up
Drenching from fucked up dream
Definition of a nightmare
Oh such a stream
Open my refrigerator
Almost empty
Because I ain't got paid yet
Rubbing my stomach
Like I'm a starvation patient
It is what it is
Got saltines up top
A Two-Liter Sprite within
I got a full day tomorrow
So it won't be wise
To spike with Gin
I stride within
The confines of my pad
But there's no way I'll return to slumber
My computer is calling me
She definitely has learned my number
I answer
Sit down and get comfortable
Totally glued to the news
That she has just begun to show
An innocent woman left dead
Off top
Somebody really blew her mind
Punch keys
Electrodes magnetize
I have great balance on my board
Ride the wave
Like I'm the raddest guy
I inadvertently notice the banner
For a networking site
Called Crew Flame
Never seen this before
So to me
This is a new name
I enter it
Look around
Observe the members
Plenty fine women
About nine gremlins
I'm all in them
But definitely not the men
What's this?
A Chat button
Entry denied
Signed up
As Chad Butler
Walked in the room
And there was mad cussing
Everything fathomable
I observed
The perfect avenue
To strike a nerve
Spark beef
Like hamburger
On a charcoal grill
I can already picture
How many fuckers
That I'm gonna kill
I've suffered enough
Now I'm in charge
Get at my buddy Alvin
See what he thinks
We'll chop it up tomorrow
At Hooters
Order about three drinks
Or more...

From Ten Thirty-Eight

Hello there. My name is Jacorri Isaacs. I am a sixteen year old, who hails from the Motor City of Detroit, Michigan. East Side, baby! Or more specifically, the land of East Side Hoes And Money, as the legendary rapper, Esham, so eloquently put it many, many years ago, after the release of his debut album, Boomin’ Words from Hell. Ever heard it before? Probably not. That album was very, very underground and came out in the year nineteen hundred and eighty-nine, which was four years before I even came into existence on this fucking planet.

I’m a young dude, but my older cousins, Marcus and Nitto, got me hip to all the old-school music, which makes me feel as if I grew up in the exact same period in which the music actually was pumping out of the various whips that navigated down Jefferson, Woodward, Gratiot or any other popular Detroit throughway. I got much love for my city, regardless of what any newspaper, news station, local or national, has to say about it. What do I say in response to the hate? Simply...“FUCK THEM!” But, it’s not about them. It’s all about me and what I want to share with you, at this moment.

I am an only child, who lives with my father, Walter Lee, a construction worker who has struggled most of my life to keep a roof over both of our damn heads. But, my father has done everything within his power to keep us maintained. Even if that meant that he wasn’t able to spend as much time with me. But, I totally understood. No matter what the situation was or how strenuous things became, I’ve always known that my father loved me. I, in return, loved and still love him with all of my heart.

We’re all we got...

Both eThugs R Us and Ten Thirty-Eight are downloadable for FREE via Chamsil's MySpace page.