Fiction that explores the monsters and strangers among us.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How Do You Create Suspense in a 2,000-Year-Old Story?

Here's my commentary on the writing challenge of creating suspense in a story that most readers are familiar with.

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Launch into my new full-length novel
Mary is a teenage girl with a lot of moxie who's just a tad pregnant and has an ex-fiance who says, "Ain't no way that's my baby in there." What's a girl to do? What does she say to her dad? And how can she fight off Satan, the ultimate demon bent on killing her to keep the baby from being born? It's okay to read my scary story late at night with the rain pounding on your windows and thunder and lightning outside, but leave the light on. You’ll need it. Fulfillment makes a great stocking stuffer! Only $1.99 for your Amazon Kindle. Purchase by clicking here. You can obtain more information, read a sample of the book, and order the slightly higher priced PDF version or the whole lot more priced 288-page paperback version by clicking here.

Enjoy this blog post? Be sure to share it with your friends by clicking the social networking links below. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What Was the Inn Like in Jesus' Time?

This video describes the different types of inns at the time Jesus was born and how I chose to describe the inn at Bethlehem in my story.

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Launch into my new full-length novel
Mary is a teenage girl with a lot of moxie who's just a tad pregnant and has an ex-fiance who says, "Ain't no way that's my baby in there." What's a girl to do? What does she say to her dad? And how can she fight off Satan, the ultimate demon bent on killing her to keep the baby from being born? It's okay to read my scary story late at night with the rain pounding on your windows and thunder and lightning outside, but leave the light on. You’ll need it. Fulfillment makes a great stocking stuffer! Only $1.99 for your Amazon Kindle. Purchase by clicking here. You can obtain more information, read a sample of the book, and order the slightly higher priced PDF version or the whole lot more priced 288-page paperback version by clicking here.

Enjoy this blog video? Be sure to share it with your friends by clicking the social networking links below. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Did Mary and Joseph Live in Poverty?

Because Jesus was born in a stable, people sometimes assume Joseph and Mary must have been impoverished. But the Bible doesn't say they were poor people. Here's my take on this topic that formed the basis for my version of the first Christmas in my novel Fulfillment.

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Launch into my new full-length novel
Mary is a teenage girl with a lot of moxie who's just a tad pregnant and has an ex-fiance who says, "Ain't no way that's my baby in there." What's a girl to do? What does she say to her dad? And how can she fight off Satan, the ultimate demon bent on killing her to keep the baby from being born? It's okay to read my scary story late at night with the rain pounding on your windows and thunder and lightning outside, but leave the light on. You’ll need it. Fulfillment makes a great stocking stuffer! Only $1.99 for your Amazon Kindle. Purchase by clicking here. You can obtain more information, read a sample of the book, and order the slightly higher priced PDF version or the whole lot more priced 288-page paperback version by clicking here.

Enjoy this blog video? Be sure to share it with your friends by clicking the social networking links below. Thank you.

Monday, December 19, 2011

How Come Mary Can Read in Your Novel Set in the First Century?

Here's another video about Fulfillment, my novel of the first Christmas. One of the issues I had to deal with as an author researching the first century AD was determining if the characters were able to read.

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Launch into my new full-length novel
Mary is a teenage girl with a lot of moxie who's just a tad pregnant and has an ex-fiance who says, "Ain't no way that's my baby in there." What's a girl to do? What does she say to her dad? And how can she fight off Satan, the ultimate demon bent on killing her to keep the baby from being born? It's okay to read my scary story late at night with the rain pounding on your windows and thunder and lightning outside, but leave the light on. You’ll need it. Fulfillment makes a great stocking stuffer! Only $1.99 for your Amazon Kindle. Purchase by clicking here. You can obtain more information, read a sample of the book, and order the slightly higher priced PDF version or the whole lot more priced 288-page paperback version by clicking here.

Enjoy this blog video? Be sure to share it with your friends by clicking the social networking links below. Thank you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Superstition in Fulfillment

Here's a video on how I used superstition to help tell my suspense version of the Christmas story in my novel Fulfillment.

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Launch into my new full-length novel
Mary is a teenage girl with a lot of moxie who's just a tad pregnant and has an ex-fiance who says, "Ain't no way that's my baby in there." What's a girl to do? What does she say to her dad? And how can she fight off Satan, the ultimate demon bent on killing her to keep the baby from being born? It's okay to read my scary story late at night with the rain pounding on your windows and thunder and lightning outside, but leave the light on. You’ll need it. Fulfillment makes a great stocking stuffer! Only $1.99 for your Amazon Kindle. Purchase by clicking here. You can obtain more information, read a sample of the book, and order the slightly higher priced PDF version or the whole lot more priced 288-page paperback version by clicking here.

Enjoy this blog video? Be sure to share it with your friends by clicking the social networking links below. Thank you.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Why Did You Make Zechariah and Elizabeth So Old in Fulfillment?

As a writer, how do you set the age for a character? Too young and the audience has problems accepting the character's wisdom as beyond her years. Too old and the reader can't relate to his problems and challenges. But if the you set the age at the Goldilocks "just right" point, you risk boring the reader with a character who is predictable and not particularly interesting. In this video, I address the challenge for the characters of Zechariah and Elizabeth in my new novel Fulfillment.

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Launch into my new full-length novel
Mary is a teenage girl with a lot of moxie who's just a tad pregnant and has an ex-fiance who says, "Ain't no way that's my baby in there." What's a girl to do? What does she say to her dad? And how can she fight off Satan, the ultimate demon bent on killing her to keep the baby from being born? It's okay to read my scary story late at night with the rain pounding on your windows and thunder and lightning outside, but leave the light on. You’ll need it. Fulfillment makes a great stocking stuffer! Only $1.99 for your Amazon Kindle. Purchase by clicking here. You can obtain more information, read a sample of the book, and order the slightly higher priced PDF version or the whole lot more priced 288-page paperback version by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Revisiting Super 8

Back in July, I wrote a blog post about Super 8. The film is now available in video format so if you missed it in the theaters, put the DVD on your holiday gift wish list. Super 8 is the must see movie of the year. Here's the original post in which I focus on why Super 8 works as a story. I updated it to mention my novel Fulfillment, my must read  novel of the Christmas season.

Director J. J. Abrams and producer Steven Spielberg have created a masterpiece with Super 8. This creative film is right on so many levels, it could be the basis for a book on film making and storytelling. Let’s consider one aspect of the film – storytelling.

When I began writing fiction, my favorite authors were the classic writers like Charles Dickens and Mark Twain. My dream was to write “the great American novel” and to become the next Hemingway or Steinbeck. Funny thing happened along the way. Turns out I write suspense stories or speculative fiction, like my new novel Fulfillment. Suspense or thriller is the main focus of my work, just as Super 8 focuses mainly on horror but has elements of sci-fi and suspense.

A horror story is a type of suspense or thriller in that it seeks to put you on the edge of your seat by scaring you and making you ask "what's next?" Most thrillers divide the plot into two parts. Part one takes about one-third of the story and involves discovery. It’s about learning what kind of monster is on the loose. It answers the question: “What is it?” Or “What’s going on?”

The monster, once discovered, may be traditional such as a vampire, werewolf or space alien. (In Super 8, it’s a space alien.) The monster could be a demon or a demonic person such as a serial killer. It could be another kind of monster – a spy ring or terrorist organization bent on world domination or global destruction. This latter kind of thriller is the stuff of the spy or political thrillers. In the mystery thriller, the focus is on "what will happen next" as opposed to the traditional mystery story where the focus is on an action that happened in the past as the hero tries to figure out "whodunit?" Not knowing where the story is headed is the basis of the "thrill" or "suspense."

The second part of a thriller takes about two-thirds of the story. Call it the “Let’s kill it” section. Now that we know we are dealing with a vampire or serial killer or a space alien, as in Super 8, our heroes go about the business of destroying the monster.

Skip this paragraph if you haven’t seen the movie yet. Super 8 represents a variation of the story in which you don’t actually kill the monster. Instead, you set it free because, after all, it’s not really a monster. It only looks like a monster and acts like a monster. It’s a misunderstood, abused, innocent, child-killing space traveler (Super 8) or a 75-year-old "teenage" vampire with a wall full of high school diplomas (Twilight).

Children: Connecting the Super 8 Dots to Fulfillment
I started this blog post by saying that I began writing fiction with one intention and discovered I belonged somewhere else. Instead of writing “literary fiction” (whatever that is), I find my stories landing in the suspense or thriller genre. The other unintended thing about my storytelling that should resonate with Super 8 fans is I invariably end up with a child or teenage hero. There’s something about the monster story that works exceedingly well when viewed through the eyes of a child or teenager.

What literary types call a “willing suspension of disbelief” is much easier to achieve through the filter of an innocent mind. But if the story is only about the monster, than you can skip the child and view it through an adult lens. What the child brings to the story, in addition to the innocent filter, is the innocence-to-maturity theme. You cannot experience the monster and remain the same.

So in Super 8, the children are changed forever. One boy discovers love. One girl discovers love. Another boy discovers unrequited love. And one boy discovers that if you go around blowing things up, there are consequences. I’m simplifying here. Super 8 delivers more than a love story filled with teenage angst, albeit young teens. Watch the relationships of Joe (Joel Courtney) and Alice (Elle Fanning) with their fathers, for example. Nothing remains the same in the story.

Innocence to experience has been the main current in American literature from day one. And it works so well in Super 8 that we almost miss the monster until the creature leaps off the screen, grabs you by the throat, and makes you pay attention. “Hey, don’t forget about me,” the monster shouts.

Why does Super 8 Work?
From a storytelling standpoint, it stays true to its marketing niche, the horror genre, while mixing in elements of sci-fi and traditional thriller. It filters the story through the innocent eyes of youth. It plays the monster in the background of a larger innocence-to-maturity story that is the hallmark of American story telling whether it’s a novel like Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, or my novel Fulfillment, or a movie like Super 8.

As I said, it would take a book to dive into the vast onion layers of Super 8. If you haven’t seen it yet, get the video. Enjoy. And if you have time, check out Fulfillment for your Kindle.You can obtain more information and order the slightly higher priced PDF version or the whole lot more priced paperback version by clicking here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Suspend Your Disbelief

Here's another in my series of video interviews in which I discuss Fulfillment, my new novel about the first Christmas.

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What's a girl to do?
You're sure to enjoy reading Fulfillment, my 80,000-word suspense novel of the first Christmas. It's about a teenage girl with a lot of moxie who's just a tad pregnant and has an ex-fiance who says, "Ain't no way that's my baby in there." What's a girl to do? What does she say to her dad? And how can she fight off Satan, the ultimate demon who is bent on killing her to keep the baby from being born? It's okay to read my scary story late at night with the rain pounding on your windows and thunder and lightning outside, but leave the light on. You’ll need it. Makes a great stocking stuffer! Only $1.99 for your Amazon Kindle by clicking here . You can obtain more information and order the slightly higher priced PDF version or the whole lot more priced paperback version by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why I Made Joseph So Young in Fulfillment?

Do you ever wonder what Joseph and Mary were really like in the Christmas story? Throughout the ages, artists have portrayed them as plaster or marble statues frozen in positions of devout reverence. But in real life they moved around. Their lives were filled with the minutia of daily living. They grunted, groaned, complained, praised, sang, and pretty much lived the way you and I do. Joseph was a carpenter. He had to have smacked his thumb with his mallet on occasion. At these times, I'm sure he uttered the first century equivalent of our four-letter words. This video explores why I chose to write my character Joseph as a real person deeply in love with Mary.

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You're sure to enjoy reading Fulfillment, my 80,000-word suspense novel of the first Christmas. It's about a teenage girl with a lot of moxie who's just a tad pregnant and has an ex-fiance who says, "Ain't no way that's my baby in there." What's a girl to do? What does she say to her dad? And how can she fight off Satan, the ultimate demon who is bent on killing her to keep the baby from being born? It's okay to read my scary story late at night with the rain pounding on your windows and thunder and lightning outside, but leave the light on. You’ll need it. Makes a great stocking stuffer! Only $1.99 for your Amazon Kindle by clicking here . You can obtain more information and order the slightly higher priced PDF version or the whole lot more priced paperback version by clicking here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Not Just Any Ghost

Nancy Palomino from fourth grade visited me in my bedroom. Sister Immaculata Marie I could understand the haunting. She haunted us kids back in fourth grade at St. Agnes School, but Nancy Palomino? Nancy was pretty enough and nice enough in fourth grade. I mean who even notices things like that in fourth grade?

I only remember her because we used to walk home together after school. No, I didn’t carry her books or any of that mushy stuff. We lived in the same neighborhood. Since we left school at the same time, there we were walking side-by-side along the red brick sidewalks of West Chester. And me bumping into the big old horse chestnuts along the way.

I tried to ignore her as much as possible but that wasn't possible with Nancy. She was a first-rate chit-chatter and chit and chat she did. One day she chit chatted herself right in front of a blue Short Line bus while crossing Market Street. Not my fault, but there she was in my bedroom today, two hours before trick or treat even started. Dressed like a Catholic school kid run over by a bus. Yech! What do you say to a fourth-grade ghoul?

“Hey.”

“Hey back at you.”

We stared at each other for about an hour. Okay, maybe just a couple of minutes. Then she said, “Well, that was fun.”

She faded away before I could think of something else to say. I ran out to join the other fifth graders from my neighborhood. Nobody believed me, but it was the truth even if it wasn't the fulfillment of my dreams.

Speaking of Fulfillment - It's better than caffeine
It’s okay to read Fulfillment late at night with the rain pounding on your windows and thunder and lightning outside, but leave the light on. You’ll need it. And it makes a great stocking stuffer! You can order the Amazon Kindle version by clicking here. Or obtain more information and order the slightly higher priced PDF version or the whole lot more priced paperback by clicking here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Why Is Mary So Young at the Start of Fulfillment?

One of the readers of a pre-publication draft of Fulfillment pointed out that Mary comes across as too young at the start of the story. He thought she sounded like a little girl in the opening scene. But that's the whole idea. The video tells why I started the story with Mary so young. Enjoy.


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Read Fulfillment - It's better than caffeine
It’s okay to read Fulfillment late at night with the rain pounding on your windows and thunder and lightning outside, but leave the light on. You’ll need it. And it makes a great stocking stuffer! You can order the Amazon Kindle version by clicking here. Or obtain more information and order the slightly higher priced PDF version or the whole lot more priced paperback by clicking here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Was Mary of Nazareth Like?

My novel Fulfillment features Mary as the main character in a drama that pits God against Satan. God sends an angel to ask Mary to become the mother of his son, Jesus the Messiah. Mary accepts this honor. Okay, so now she's an unwed pregnant teenager at a time when the punishment was stoning to death. And Satan is out to kill Mary any way he can to keep Jesus from entering the world. Even worse, Mary has to figure out a way to tell her Dad. Learn more about Mary in the video. Buy Fulfillment at Amazon for a buck-ninety-nine.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Munger Road

Director: Nick Smith (Click here for Trib Local interview)
Actors: Bruce Davison, Brooke Peoples, Randall Batinkoff, Trevor Morgan, Lauren Storm, Art Fox, Maggie Henry, Bill J. Stevens, and Hallock Beals

Munger Road blends traditional horror with The Blair Witch Project low budget film techniques. The filming of St. Charles, Illinois is stunning, especially if you know the town. Who knew it could look so good? Same holds for the Hotel Baker. In its own way, the grainy, low budget stuff in the horror sequences work.

Munger Road is a film of contrasts and what ifs. Are the teenagers in it together to make a film and scare the town? Or is it just two guys trying to scare their girlfriends? Is it two boys trying to scare their girlfriends but the ghosts are real? Is it two guys trying to scare their girlfriends and the ghosts are real, and oh by the way, there’s a crazed serial killer on the loose? Is the crazed serial killer the local priest who escaped from the loony farm or another unknown crazed serial killer? Is one of the teenage boys the crazed serial killer who set the whole thing up to murder his friends? Or is the girl who appears to be the innocent sole survivor actually the mastermind behind this night of teenage fright? And is she the sole survivor or not? Is she pregnant or not? And what does that have to do with anything? There may be more what ifs and crazy contrasts but I didn't find them. Have fun counting them.

Most stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. Munger Road is not one those stories. It’s scary monster horror, a genre where the first part of the movie involves figuring out what’s going on and discovering it’s a monster of some kind.  The second part of the movie is the “let’s kill it” section where – you guessed it – the main characters go about the business of killing the beast.

Munger Road does an excellent job of the first part of the story up to the point where you are supposed to figure out who or what the beast is. But it stops just short of letting you in on the who or what. You can’t help feeling the movie ends about an hour short of a complete tale. There’s no “let’s kill it” section at all. And unless you pick up more clues than I did, you’re not going to know exactly what’s going on. However, that’s sort of the point, isn’t it?

Munger Road is the telling of an urban legend. With urban legends you never know for sure who or what the monster is. It’s all based on hearsay evidence. Is it some guy with a hook instead of a hand scratching on your car? Or is it a tree branch brushing up against the roof? You never know because it never really happens to you. You only know about it from the telling. And the story changes every time you hear it.

What you’re left with at the end of Munger Road is an urban legend told in the tradition of campfires and make out sessions in late night parked cars. Don’t expect a complete story, but do expect excellent direction and acting. Living near St. Charles, Illinois, I can assure you that town never looked better. And I can assure you of a good horror movie experience right up to the end, when you’ll go: “Huh? Is that it? But what happened?”

Not to worry. Munger Road is what urban legends are all about – the not really knowing that adds an extra measure of scared to the story. I’m looking forward to seeing Munger Road again to pick up any clues I missed the first time around that point to a more satisfying conclusion. It’s like a computer game where the more you play, the more you learn. Enjoy. But don't expect Fulfillment.

Fulfillment comes with a price: $1.99
Have you had a chance to download my new full-length novel, Fulfillment, from Amazon yet? It's the 80,000 word story of the first Christmas retold with Satan added into the mix.

About Fulfillment
In the drumbeat of a million raindrops comes a darkness marching to overpower the world where you and I live. We stand by without sensing the evil, never hearing the constant din of battle over our hearts, never feeling the bombardment upon our souls, never glimpsing the awesome power of our defenders. How can we live in this world and yet be so ignorant of the other?

In the roar of the beast and the hideous faces of the angry demons scampering across her bedroom floor, Mary became the central figure in a drama that changed the world. Her engagement to Joseph should have been joyful, but instead the secret concerning the baby in her womb attracted evil spirits, a king, soldiers and a would-be lover all bent on destroying her. Mary’s journey, while steeped with betrayal and the foul stench of the ultimate demon, is a setup for an even bigger story. She discovers a lost love found, the promise of a newborn king, and a wealth of new friends from a tiny man with the heart of a warrior to the young mother whose husband and children are murdered in a bloody massacre.

Fulfillment is suspense with a huge twist of horror when Satan discovers he isn’t messing with an ordinary teenage girl. This kid has moxie and connections in high places.

If the thought of Satan out to get you isn’t enough to keep you awake at night, how about reading Fulfillment? It will.

Better than caffeine
It’s okay to read Fulfillment late at night with the rain pounding on your windows and thunder and lightning outside, but leave the light on. You’ll need it. And it makes a great stocking stuffer! You can obtain more information and order the slightly higher priced PDF version or the whole lot more priced paperback version by clicking here.

Read Chapter One by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Conducting Research for Fulfillment

Today's video continues my interview series with a focus on the research I performed over a two-year period as part of writing Fulfillment. Capturing a sense of time and place in a story, especially one as distant from the present as the first century (C.E. or A.D. depending on how you count) is an essential part of the story-telling art.

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If you have a question for this series, let me know by commenting here or send an email. If you'd like to read Fulfillment, it's available on Amazon for the Kindle. Or visit my biz website to find a link where you can purchase the PDF ebook version or the paperback. It's a full-length 80,000 word novel (nearly 300 pages).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Why I Wrote Fulfillment

Okay, Mr. Suspense Writer, why did you write a thriller around the original Christmas story? I'm asked that question frequently, so I decided to answer it as the first question in my video interview series. Each video answers one question. Enjoy this first interview video.

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If you have a question for this series, let me know by commenting here or send an email. If you'd like to read Fulfillment, it's available on Amazon for the Kindle. Or visit my biz website to find a link where you can purchase the PDF ebook version or the paperback. It's a full-length 80,000 word novel (nearly 300 pages).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Miley Cyrus for President

Okay, this one requires an amendment to the constitution or a seventeen-year wait, but stay with me on this. You may be asking yourself why anyone would think a teenage music star is qualified to be President of the United States. Stop for a moment and think about the people running for President today.

I rest my case.

Actually I don’t. That only explains why we need another candidate in the race. Let’s take a look at Miley’s qualifications.

Follow the Money
The first rule in life, especially politics, is to follow the money. Miley is a self-made gazillionaire. How many other gazillionaire made their first gazillion by the time they were eighteen? You can count them on two fingers: The Olsen Twins.

Where did Miley obtain her gazillions? This is the crucial question that more than anything else qualifies Miley Cyrus to be our next President.

Miley’s money comes from her fan base of screaming teenagers. That’s right. Miley’s not owned by the mob, the fat cat politicos, lobbyists, the big corporate donors – none of those scumbags need apply. Miley is beholding to teenage America. People who can’t even vote. It’s not possible for a candidate to be more independent than Miley.

Okay, I hear you. What about Billy Ray Cyrus? Sure, he has some influence and so does her mom, but Miley brings in the bucks. Even Billy Ray has to follow the money.

Higher Intelligence
We expect our President to be a high IQ type. Miley Cyrus qualifies on several levels. Understand, she does not have to be a nuclear physicist to serve as President. She only needs to be more intelligent than the other candidates. As I said above, consider the other candidates in the race. How intelligent are those fine folks? Have you ever heard one of them speak? Have you listened to the debates? Have you heard one sentence that contains an indication of a higher intelligence at work?

Now, consider Miley. Becoming a gazillionaire while still a teenager certainly indicates she has the right stuff, including the smarts to serve and lead. She has a better sense of humor than any of the other candidates, which is a sure sign of intelligence.

Oh, and most important, she decided not to go to college. As a gazillionaire, she realizes that it doesn’t make economic sense to spend $150,000 for a four-year liberal arts degree that qualifies you as a hamburger flipper in today’s economy. How did she get smart enough to skip college? She avoided junior high and high school (unless you count Disney High but I don’t think anyone does).

Miley Cyrus is qualified to call the education emperor naked and lead the reform movement away from classrooms and into cyberspace where education belongs. And she is free to think what she chooses, including having a healthy understanding of what government should be about rather than what it is.

Speaking of Almost Naked
Miley Cyrus has that special quality that all great political leaders possess – the ability to stand on two opposing positions at the same time with no one really noticing or caring. Think Ronald Reagan here. Miley has successfully balanced her good Christian “wait until marriage” pledge with sexting. It’s a delicate balance, but she somehow pulls it off (pun intended).

Sexting – Solution to International Relations
I know you’re worried about how Miley Cyrus would handle the Chinese, the Arabs, the Israelis, and those pesky Canadians among others. Miley has something going for her that no other candidate can match with the possible exception of Sarah Palin – sexting. Imagine the first international crises of her administration. The whoevers are about to invade the what-the-hecks. Miley picks up the emergency hotline (giving it new meaning) and sends a sexting message to the dictator with the invasion force. What can the dictator do but assume the worst and back off. Otherwise they would have to deal with Miley in her undergarments.

Which brings us to Fulfillment
So far this conversation has nothing to do with the release of my new suspense thriller Fulfillment. But Miley Cyrus has achieved a great deal of success because of her moxie. My main character in Fulfillment also has a great deal of moxie and connections in high places. Her name is Mary. Satan gets the bright idea that if you can’t kill Jesus because he is God after all, then what better way to stop the salvation of the world then to kill the mother before he is born?

Fulfillment is the story of the first Christmas retold with Satan added into the mix. Think about it. What was Satan up to while God was going about the business of sending his son to save the world? It’s okay to read my scary novel late at night with the rain pounding on your windows and thunder and lightning outside, but leave the light on. You’ll need it.

Who says you can’t buy Fulfillment? It’s only a $1.99 on Amazon. And don’t forget to vote for Miley.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What is your butt telling you?

My mistake was buying the smart phone. It gets my email, gives me the weather report, provides a map to wherever I’m going, and I can even get ground positioning satellite service from this thing. Oh, and by the way, I can make a phone call with it.

The phone part is the problem. Why don’t they put a flip cover on the smart phones to shut them up?

If you don’t have a smart phone, let me explain. The face of the smart phone, the part that shows the movies, the games, and the websites, also shows you a bunch of buttons you can push when, let’s say, you want to make a phone call.

The problem happens when you slide the little thingy into your hip pocket after you finish your call. The screen touches your pants as it slides in where it belongs, and so buttons get pushed. You’re sitting there minding your own business when your butt starts talking to you.

I hear this soft tin voice coming from the posterior region. “Hello? Dad, is that you?”

Yes, it’s my daughter talking to me from my pocket. When you get past a certain age, you begin to worry when you hear voices speaking out of your butt. Especially voices you recognize. Talk about scary suspense! I didn’t even hear my butt ringing. Thank goodness I didn’t put it on vibrate.

I’ve known for years that sales people are always talking out of their butts, but now they’re talking out of mine. How can you buy anything from a little voice in your pocket?

My daughter works in IT and assures me I’m not the only victim of butt-talk. It's quite common among smart phone users. I'm just sorry the phone's not as smart as my butt.

Butt-talk… will you be next?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When Becky Florped

Here's another venture into the world of sci-fi suspense. At least I think it's sci-fi and suspense. Imagine living in an isolated space colony for about a hundred years or thereabouts. Your language evolves as your population lives in isolation. When Becky florped three three times, and Tom grabbed the glinknipper, the conversation went something like this...

“Ouch!” you left the tarnickle exposed again, Becky.
“Twarn’t me. I’ve been busy all day with morkmiter. Why do you think I just florped brinknackly three times.”
Oh, sorry about the pedinkle morkmiter. I was feeding the kerpolusion and forgot about it.
“No prinkmuster. But what about the tarnickle all over the bringbobber?”
“We could just call the pliminator.”
“Too much kerblank. We go through a lot of kerblank these daproms.
If we watch our perniskys, we should be oinkbonker.”
AQ. I can hankrinkle a few daproms without spending a lot of kerblank. I’ll stop eating wormglommers and pishunks.”
“And I’ll stay away from the binkmommer.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Landed Gentry

Their father was one of the landed gentry in a land without gentry. Without fertile land for that matter. What need of land on a rock being mined for its nickel and small quantities of precious metals? Food you import from the bases on the south side of the moon. Landed gentry, ha. First off, most of them were women and they were company men, or women, as the case may be. Mine supervisors. But we called them landed gentry because they landed first. And they got to take off first at the end of the three-year shift, which now has a mere 13 months, 3 weeks and two days to go. Zelda Gimplocker was of the landed gentry. She owned the land I mined with Zorkgrack, my botdrill. Of the two I preferred Zelda, but she was the bossier of the two. Zorkgrack was the better cook. But Zorkgrack in bed is just something I don’t want to think about, especially with Zelda leaning over my shoulder right now.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Vampire River

Another episode of  my scary suspense theater. Keep your eye on the vampires across the river. They're the ones that sneak up behind you in the movie theater and get you just as you're about to scream at the most frightening part of the film. That's why you'll find me in the last row of the balcony. Which reminds me, when was the last time you were in a movie theater that had a balcony? Let me know where it is.

video

Friday, July 22, 2011

Something Stirs – Christian Suspense by Thomas Smith

You know the drill. A family moves into the house on the hill. Everything is cool. Everyone is happy. Then Something Stirs. It’s creepy. Critters drop like flies. We’re talking dried-up-prunes type flies. Read Something Stirs late at night when you are alone.  If you dare. Something Stirs mixes suspense with spiritual warfare. It’s devil vs. God and you know who’s going to win that one, but the fun is in how you get there. This novel does a lovely slow waltz build up to a fast-paced, roller coaster ending.  Leave the light on, folks. Easier to read that way and a whole lot easier to stay in your skin. Christian suspense by Thomas Smith. Available in bookstores. Try Amazon.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why Super 8 Works

Director J. J. Abrams and producer Steven Spielberg have created a masterpiece with Super 8. This creative film is right on so many levels, it could be the basis for a book on film making and storytelling. Let’s consider one aspect of the film – storytelling.

When I began writing fiction, my favorite authors were the classic writers like Charles Dickens and Mark Twain. My dream was to write “the great American novel” and to become the next Hemingway or Steinbeck. Funny thing happened along the way. Turns out I write suspense stories or speculative fiction, like my short story Angel Thorns. I cross the bounds of mystery, suspense, sci-fi and horror. Suspense or thriller is the main focus of my work, just as Super 8 focuses mainly on horror but has elements of sci-fi and suspense.

A horror story is a type of suspense or thriller in that it seeks to put you on the edge of your seat by scaring you and making you ask "what's next?" Most thrillers divide the plot into two parts. Part one takes about one-third of the story and involves discovery. It’s about learning what kind of monster is on the loose. It answers the question: “What is it?” Or “What’s going on?”

The monster, once discovered, may be traditional such as a vampire, werewolf or space alien. (In Super 8, it’s a space alien.) The monster could be a demon or a demonic person such as a serial killer. It could be another kind of monster – a spy ring or terrorist organization bent on world domination or global destruction. This latter kind of thriller is the stuff of the spy or political thrillers. In the mystery thriller, the focus is on "what will happen next" as opposed to the traditional mystery story where the focus is on an action that happened in the past as the hero tries to figure out "whodunit?" Not knowing where the story is headed is the basis of the "thrill" or "suspense."

The second part of a thriller takes about two-thirds of the story. Call it the “Let’s kill it” section. Now that we know we are dealing with a vampire or serial killer or a space alien, as in Super 8, our heroes go about the business of destroying the monster. In my short story Angel Thorns, I play this section in an unusual way in that the people do not destroy the monster. Instead… well, I’ll just let you read it to find out. Point here is the good stories give you a little spin on the genre.

Skip this paragraph if you haven’t seen the movie yet. Super 8 represents a variation of the story in which you don’t actually kill the monster. Instead, you set it free because, after all, it’s not really a monster. It only looks like a monster and acts like a monster. It’s a misunderstood, abused, innocent, child-killing space traveler (Super 8) or a 75-year-old "teenage" vampire with a wall full of high school diplomas (Twilight).

Children: Connecting the Super 8 Dots to Angel Thorns
I started this blog post by saying that I began writing fiction with one intention and discovered I belonged somewhere else. Instead of writing “literary fiction” (whatever that is), I find my stories landing in the suspense or thriller genre. The other unintended thing about my storytelling that should resonate with Super 8 fans is I invariably end up with a child or teenage hero. There’s something about the monster story that works exceedingly well when viewed through the eyes of a child or teenager.

What literary types call a “willing suspension of disbelief” is much easier to achieve through the filter of an innocent mind. But if the story is only about the monster, than you can skip the child and view it through an adult lens. What the child brings to the story, in addition to the innocent filter, is the innocence-to-maturity theme. You cannot experience the monster and remain the same.

So in Super 8, the children are changed forever. One boy discovers love. One girl discovers love. Another boy discovers unrequited love. And one boy discovers that if you go around blowing things up, there are consequences. I’m simplifying here. Super 8 delivers more than a love story filled with teenage angst, albeit young teens. Watch the relationships of Joe and Alice with their fathers, for example. Nothing remains the same in the story.

Innocence to experience has been the main current in American literature from day one. And it works so well in Super 8 that we almost miss the monster until the creature leaps off the screen, grabs you by the throat, and makes you pay attention. “Hey, don’t forget about me,” the monster shouts.

Why does Super 8 Work?
From a storytelling standpoint, it stays true to its marketing niche, the horror genre, while mixing in elements of sci-fi and traditional thriller. It filters the story through the innocent eyes of youth. It plays the monster in the background of a larger innocence-to-maturity story that is the hallmark of American story telling whether it’s a novel like Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, a short story like my Angel Thorns, or a movie like Super 8.

As I said, it would take a book to dive into the vast onion layers of Super 8. If you haven’t seen it yet, go. Enjoy. And if you have time, check out my short story (4,700 words) Angel Thorns.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Irish Vampires

What happens when the wee people turn into vampires? Another Scary Suspense Theater presentation. Don't watch this at night or when you're alone. Keep the garlic handy.

video

Friday, June 24, 2011

What's in Your Package?

What could be in a box four feet on the sides and six feet high? What did I order and forget about? And how could I forget something that big?

Oh, of course, Hazel probably ordered something. She’s always ordering stuff we don’t need. Hey, maybe it’s that TV for the bedroom, the one with the six foot screen. Okay, maybe five foot screen. The box is only six feet and I have to allow for the packaging. But why so fat? Maybe two or three TVs? A TV and computer and… and… and… I don’t know. Electronics for the spare bedroom?

Where is Hazel anyway? She should have been home an hour ago. More importantly, where’s that box knife? Hunting knife will do. In the kitchen drawer. No, not in the drawer. Where did I leave my hunting knife? Wait, there’s a machete in the garage. Next to the tool box. Not here. On the shelf. No. In a drawer? No.

Okay, Will, where did you leave your sharp weapons? Oh, yeah, I worked on that brush clearing project this morning. Funny how I forgot about that already.

And where is Hazel?

The knives and machete… and oh yeah, the axe… they should be in the trunk of the car along with… with… something I can’t remember. Oh crap, I locked the door to the family room from the garage and the car is out in the driveway. I think I left it out there.

Not to worry. I have my trusty ol’ keys right here… Oh no, they’re in the bedroom. No, I think. Yes. I put them down when I unloaded… what was it I unloaded from the trunk out in the woods this morning? Bloody mess as I recall.

And where the blazes is Hazel?

How am I going to open the door to the family room? Oh. Duh. Maybe I’ll just push this button and open the outside garage door. Funny I didn’t think of that sooner.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bluejeans and Straw

No matter how much you dress the scarecrow, there’s still nothing to him. He has no brain, no matter how finely dressed. Who is in charge of your brain… and your heart? The tin woodsman, heartless and rusting away? Oz, the fake and powerless? Dorothy, the lost and helpless? The wicked witch, powerful until someone rains on her parade? The good witch, never around when you need her? The flying monkeys, loyal until someone else comes around? Or…

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dust, Ashes and Old Memories

Have you ever taken a sickle and cut a path through a dense undergrowth of tall weeds, thorn bushes and clinging vines? You can't do it without picking up a few scratches along with some mosquito and spider bites. You also can expect an occasional run in with a poisonous snake. I’ve been a swinger of sickles and it bears a striking resemblance to the work of a fiction writer.

The writer of fiction enjoys exploring the nature of relationships and creating characters out of the dust and ashes of old memories and finding paths through the tangled jungle of the inner self. Who knows where the path leads when we are the creators of the path? Who knows what characters lurk in the darkness waiting for the writer to shine the light of creativity upon them. Better dress for the occasion when you go delving into the secret places of the heart. This is such a place. Welcome!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Oh no! Another Writing Exercise

The first sentence was given. Write three minutes. What did you write? Share your results in the comments section. Or send it to me for posting later. My result…

Their father was one of the landed gentry in a land without gentry. Without fertile land for that matter. What need of land on a rock being mined for its nickel and small quantities of precious metals? Food you import from the bases on the south side of the moon. Landed gentry, hah. Most of them were women and they were company men, or women, as the case may be. Mine supervisors. But we called them landed gentry because they landed first. And they got to take off first at the end of the three-year shift, which now has a mere 13 months, 3 weeks and two days to go. Zelda Zilroy was of the landed gentry. She owned the land I mined with Zorkgrack, my botdrill. Of the two I preferred Zelda, but she was the bossier of the two. Zorkgrack was the better cook. But Zorkgrack in bed is just something I don’t want to think about, especially with Zelda leaning over my shoulder right now.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Road Ends

Who knows why the road ends here? And whatever happened to old Naperville? Folks in these parts know the answer but they'll never tell. Men in black suits come around and then folks go missing. But we're not afraid. This video tells all.

video

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rediscovering the Ring

The door popped open with a shove from Georgia. She pushed her nose through followed by her cheeks. The rest of her flew into the tiny home thanks to a giant shove from Donna. Donna, always the skinny, size four one, squished herself through the doorway and landed in the teeny hallway that led to a room beyond.

“I said it was a dollhouse.” Donna rubbed her nose.

“Too big. I’m thinking midgets.” Georgia managed to sit up without hitting the ceiling.

“Dwarfs?” Donna crawled into the room at the end of the hall which turned out to be a tiny living room.

“Height challenged.” Georgia plopped on the petite couch leaving no room for Donna to join her.

“Small size advantaged.” Donna sat on the floor and stretched her legs into the dinning room.

“Extinct whoever they were.” Georgia smiled at the row of tiny books on the shelf above Donna’s head.

Donna rubbed her fingers along the mantel. “It’s so eloquently carved.”

Georgia peeked over Donna’s shoulder. “What’s that funny looking ring? Is it gold?”

Donna picked it up and put it on her finger. Immediately she felt her mind blasted by an all pervading eyeball. "Looks harmless."

"Let me see." Georgia reached for the ring.

Donna slapped Georgia's hand away. "Isn't it precious? I think I'll keep it."

The End

Fulfillment is coming. Tell everyone!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Have a Dream

Memorial Day is a time to remember the sacrifice of those who have made our freedom possible. They had dreams once, those young men and women who died fighting for us. As did those not so young military personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.

Revisit the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Think about your own dreams. And then step back into an earlier time to visit the home front in 1967 during the Viet Nam era.

This is the beginning of the Fulfillment campaign. Watch this space for more Fulfillment and ...tell everyone.

Read a short story: Little Miss Forgotten available at Amazon for $0.99

About Little Miss Forgotten 
The time is summer 1967, and you’re soon to be drafted when you meet her. But what is she?

Little Miss Forgotten is a suspense thriller mixed with lively humor and teen angst. Add a twist of horror and mystery. Set in the midst of war and fear of war. Life on the home front during the Viet Nam era. Short Story. 3,000 words.

Story Preview
"Do you wanna dance?" Okay, it was the name of a top ten hit, and today's kids would sneer if they heard me, but in 1967 it worked.

She hesitated. She frowned. She stared for what seemed an eternity, (about three seconds). "Sure, why not?"

I don't remember the song. The band was on break, and the young kids who worked as house deejays were playing records. It was a fast one. You just didn't ask a girl to dance a slow one the first time. You had to dance a couple of fast ones first. At a nice suburban Catholic church hall like Holy Cross, a girl accepting a slow dance was giving you an invitation to climb all over her.

For your Kindle: Little Miss Forgotten available at Amazon for $0.99

Need another format? Send me a buck and I'll send you a PDF. Three bucks gets you the hard copy paper version. Email me to start the ball rolling.

 Fulfillment... Tell Everyone!