Fiction that explores the monsters and strangers among us.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Little Miss Forgotten


My writing style has evolved over time as has reader tastes. Novels I write today begin with a strong hook. For example, my new novel Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters, begins with this line:

From where she stood at the foot of my bed, fifteen-year-old Jennifer Hawkins couldn’t miss, but would this sweet girl shoot me?

The idea of the opening hook is to entice you into wanting to know what happens next. Will Jennifer Hawkins pull the trigger? There was a time when a story about a teenage girl and a gun would end up with the girl not firing. But this is a 21st century girl who has been raised in an era of high violence, often meaningless, involving teen-on-teen crime.

So does Jennifer pull the trigger? The odds are very high that she does, but I’ll let you find out for yourself when you read the free portion by clicking the book cover on Amazon. Click here to visit Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters on Amazon. BTW, Snpgrdxz is pronounced as if spelled Snip-grid-ix. It’s all explained in the novel.

This brings us back to Little Miss Forgotten, a strong female character who appears in my short story of the same name. This is an older story of mine, and it features a more languid opening style of stories written decades ago when readers preferred a little more setup before the action blazed hot.

Here is the opening:

"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.

We danced that first one, and then a few more fast dances. They were the usual Mashed Potato, Watusi and Stomp. Then a slow one came on, my all-time favorite: "Angel Baby" by Rosie and the Originals. (High falsetto, andante: "It's just like heav-en, be-ing here with yo-oo, 'cause you're like an an-gel, too good to be true-oo, but after-ah-all, I love you, I do-oo, An-gel Ba-by, my An-gel Ba-by," etc.) These lyrics won’t mean much to you unless you already know the song, but trust me, the tune was great for slow dancing.


***

Set during the Vietnam war era, the rest of this short horror fiction is yours free for your Kindle by clicking here today. Beware the kiss of death and as always, stay away from those pretty little blondes.

Okay, you don’t have to avoid the blondes, but you still have to watch out for that one kiss from Little Miss Forgotten that will change your life forever. Click here for the free download.

Today’s nostalgia blog post is from May 22, 2009. Click here for a sweet yarn on yet another strong young lady and my take on wisdom.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Celebrating the Fifth


I’m celebrating the fifth year of this blog with a series of special offers beginning this week with my short story Little Miss Forgotten, which is a free download all this week on Amazon. Usually my short stories sell for $0.99 so this represents a stupendous savings of nearly a buck.

I’ll tell you more about Little Miss Forgotten as the week goes on. In the meantime, you can download your free copy by clicking here.

Other special offers to look for include the Kindle version of Book 1 of my new Snpgrdxz (say “Snip-grid-ix” series) which you can purchase for only $0.99 next week, marked down from the usual $2.99 on Kindle. If you can’t wait, you may purchase it now by clicking here

I’ll be giving away more short stories in the coming months. And look for some of my novels at a discount. I’ll also launch two more novels in the Snpgrdxz series in time for the holidays.

Enjoy. Don’t forget to click here for your free download of Little Miss Forgotten for your Kindle.

Today’s Nostalgia Post: As part of this week’s celebration of five years of blogging, I’ll link you to some of my favorite oldie but goodie posts. My first blog post appeared on April 17, 2009. In that one, I ask “Am I There Yet?” which is a lighthearted look at the art of blog posting and my entry into the realm.  You can read post number one by clicking here.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Strong Women Make Great Lovers


Penny Durkin is the most complex female character I’ve created to date. She starts as a conniving teenager bent on seducing a younger teen only to discover that she falls in love with him in a reversal of the Romeo and Juliet story where Romeo is the older one of the couple. Steel Pennies has a plot that leads Penny to become a suspect as well as a potential next victim. Her strength of character comes across in the climatic final chapters of the story. She loves Tommy McConnell while attempting to protect her younger brother from an abusive father and older brother. She deals with her own pregnancy resulting from a previous relationship with a victim of a serial killer. Penny also deals with her mother’s rejection and the racial tension that flares in her mixed community. Steel Pennies has a blockbuster ending with Penny in the middle of the action.

Another strong female character in Steel Pennies is Chiamaka, which translates as “God is beautiful.” Chiamaka is a 13-year-old proto Angela Davis-type character. She has no problem telling you what she thinks and how she feels.

Steel Pennies is a story of the human monsters that haunt our world. The story could have been ripped from today’s headlines, but is set in an earlier era when the monsters were us as well as the crazies who brought down death and worse upon their innocent victims.

You can read a large chunk of Steel Pennies free by clicking on the book cover on Amazon.

If you’re ready to check out the free portion of my latest novel, Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters, click here for the book on Amazon.

Both stories are laced with the humor that characterizes my treatment of the madness of life.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Strong Women Make Strong Monsters


Peevy O’Malley in Hags plays a minor role compared to my other female characters. She was the teenage girlfriend of Micah before he spent fifteen years in prison. Upon his return at the start of the story, she rejects him. Micah finds love where he can, but through it all, Peevy remains strong willed so that in the end… well, you’ll have to read this story for yourself. The other women in Hags may be hags, but they are strong hags. They do not hesitate to display their feminine wiles or their hag witchcraft powers. Perfect for Halloween.

The popular horror stories today emphasize the romantic notion that there are good monsters and bad monsters. Just because Stefan is a twinkling day walker vampire doesn’t necessarily make him evil, does it? He rarely drinks human blood anymore. And Carl the werewolf is just a misunderstood teenager bent on a few hairy adventures whenever the moon is full. Okay, so a few people may get hurt or killed along the way, but really, these monsters just want to love their human girlfriends and live their lives unhindered by their evil fellow monsters or the local sheriff or vampire killer. Is that asking too much?

Yes, it is. In my stories, you will recognize the monsters for what they really are – evil demonic presences bent on the destruction of humankind. My monsters cling to the darkness in fear of the light. My female monsters in stories like Hags may be strong women, but they are evil just the same. Demons, whether in the shape of hellish feigns or twinkling vampires, always have the same ambition to destroy God’s creation, especially by leading humans to join them in hell.

So if you enjoy a story where monsters truly are the bad guys and humans are the good guys, then you’ll enjoy my stories. And the strong characters in Hags.

You can read a large chunk of Hags free by clicking on the book cover on Amazon. Click here for the book page.

If you’re ready to check out the free portion of my latest novel, Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters, click here for the book on Amazon.

Both novels offer a humorous look at the horror genre, but the characters are genuine and crafted for a serious take on the struggle between good and evil in a world caught up in the midst of spiritual warfare where the battles are often fought just beyond our ability to experience them through our five senses.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Strong Women Make Strong Stories


In Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters, Bryan Ganarski kisses Jennifer Hawkins in front of the entire sophomore class. The next thing you know, Bryan is flat on his back on the floor.

Jennifer has slugged him on the jaw.

Women don’t have to bash a guy to prove they are strong, but it helps. More often in fiction a strong woman grows out of a scared young lady facing danger beyond her comprehension. The strong woman has the strength to face her circumstances, no matter what. And she grows by her experiences.

With four novels under my belt, I can see a trend of strong female characters. These include Mary of Nazareth in Fulfillment, Peevy O’Malley in Hags, Penny Durkin in Steel Pennies and Jennifer Hawkins in my latest novel Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters. They each display strength of character and a will to survive that serves them well in their stories.

Fulfillment: Mary
In Fulfillment I try to bring the Christmas story to life for modern readers. The real story of Mary is one of the most fascinating plot lines in history as she travels from innocence to the experience of motherhood while retaining her virgin status.

As the main character of Fulfillment, Mary of Nazareth faces down Satan while pregnant with the future Messiah. Mary starts as a very young girl with no experience dealing with evil, but evil shows up just the same. From the novel’s opening scene onward, demons seek to destroy the woman who would mother a savior. Mary matures in strength and character as she accepts an angel’s invitation to become the mother of Jesus. She deals with an initial rejection when her parents learn that she is pregnant by someone other than her fiancĂ©. Her fiancĂ© rejects her only to change his mind later. By standing her ground against the evil that attacks her, she brings an odd assortment of characters to her side as her defenders.

I’ll write more about my female characters in future posts. For now, you can read a large chunk of Fulfillment for free by clicking on the book cover on Amazon. Click here.

If you’re ready to check out the free portion of my latest novel, Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters, click here for the book on Amazon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Words That Bite


Did you know that robots scour the Internet with nothing better to do than seek out and copy words and reveal those words to their mad scientist bosses? These mechanical beasts look like tiny metal spiders bearing little resemblance to the spider bots in Minority Report, the eye-popping film featuring Tom Cruise.

Here is one of the words you must avoid: “at” or as it is more popularly known online “@.”

You would think “at” would be a simple enough word as to be innocuous, but innocuous is too big of a word to describe a little word. Matters become worse if you happen to forget to leave spaces between your words like the automatic random space skipping feature built into Windows 8.

For example, if you type a simple sentence like eat@joes.com, you not only will lose your spaces, but you also will flunk that English test you’re taking at this moment for using “@” instead of “at.” While checking out the "@,"you’re bound to notice the dot (also known as a period or end stop depending on whether you are writing in English or American). You may be wondering about the reason I asked you to notice the dot in the first place in the previous sentence. No reason except I want you to notice it. Dot itself is a transliteration from the original Geek and just goes to show what can happen if you don’t have any English majors on your team. Always hire an English major if only to keep your words honest.

And never place words ending in “por” next to the word “no” as in “Bob came home last night in a drunken stupor. No!” The bots, being horny little devils, will inevitably fix your grammar, spelling and punctuation as they assume you typed your stuff in Windows 8 and hadn’t got around to the editing yet. As a result, the bots will translate your simple story bit into “Drunken Stu’s porno.” You’ll notice most of the letters match, but the spacing and such have all gone different. And of course Bob changed his name to Stu.

Putting this advice together in a more or less typical story line, we read “Don’t eat at Joes or dot calm girls because someone may mistake you for a porno star named Stu of Bob." BTW, the bots, I’m quite sure, have rendered “more or less” as “moralless” by now, which is not an actual word, but that has never stopped people from using it as in “Helen is a moralless bioche for running off with that dude (dewd) from Troy.” The other possibility is the bots will interpret “more or less” as “moralist” as in “That Helen is some moralist. Did you see the way she fought off that dude (dewd?) from Troy?”

How do you fix those pesky bots invading your online presence? Here I do not mean “repair” when I write “fix.” I am, of course, referring to the concept of total destruction of the bots. It’s the only way.

How do you fix the dreaded Internet spider bots, you ask? Give them something they can’t read, but you can like…

Snpgrdxz

and the Time Monsters


Click here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Where is Snpgrdxz?


My new novel was supposed to be launched the other day, but one of my characters hi-jacked my blog when I wasn’t looking. Claiming to be my nephew, which he’s not, this young character told you more than you should know about Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters and most of it may or may not have been true.

By focusing on his own adventures, Bryan Ganarski neglected to introduce you to Snpgrdxz, the space alien teenage space shifter. Bryan pretty much does this in my novel also. He’s supposed to be Boswell to Snpgrdxz’s Samuel Johnson. But instead he spends way too much time telling you about Jennifer Hawkins, the sophomore he has this huge crush on.

With Bryan you learn more about Jennifer than you want to know, like the location of that birthmark she’d prefer to keep to herself and the multiple versions of herself. That was supposed to be kept secret. Wait until the NSA hears about that one. They don’t believe in time travel in Washington. If they did, they’d figure out how to balance the budget, but that’s another story.

According to my outline, Snpgrdxz is supposed to be the story of an alien shape shifter stuck on earth for decades. His big problem is the U.S. government which wants to capture him so they can slice, dice and dissect him. Bryan Ganarski is supposed to run away with Snpgrdxz and record his adventures while narrowly escaping the men in black.

But that’s not what happened.

Teenagers.

Who knew there was a time portal hidden under Lincoln High School in downtown Wheaton, Illinois? Well, actually the trolls knew about it.

And Maria Gonzalez obviously when the trolls kidnapped her.

And Mr. Romano, the art teacher, must have known about it because he’s the one who led the gang to the Wheaton When Portal in the first place. But none of this has anything to do with running away from those pesky guys in the black suits.

Oh well. That’s what you get when you leave a kid in charge of your story.

Go ahead and read this sci/fi time journey adventure romance thing. I have to admit the love story is romantic, except for the parts where people get shot at… and hit by real bullets. And attacked by monsters. But hey… no wait. You know too much already.

Just read the darn thing and you can let me know how you liked it later. Meanwhile, I’ll see what I can do to bring back that part about the feds chasing Snpgrdxz in a future novel in this series.

Click here.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Snpgrdxz Has Landed


Jennifer Hawkins crept into my room last night and plopped on my bed. We talked after midnight on a school night. In her jammies. Bare legs hanging out. That Jennifer Hawkins. The one with the long, straight brunette hair and fat ruby lips and high cheek bones. A bit on the skinny side but tall. Principal Hawkins’ daughter. Old Mrs. Hawkins, the choir director at First Pres’s, daughter.

I know this stuff is hard to believe, but I swear I'm not making it up. My name is Bryan Ganarski, BTW, and I don't make stuff up unless my old man asks me a question.

You’re reading this because my Uncle Paul said I could use his blog account. There’s no way I’d post this where Jennifer Hawkins could see it. Or her mom or dad. Or any of her girlfriends. Or the guys. Well, I guess it's okay if the guys know.

I don’t even know why I’m telling you my story except Uncle Paul said everybody would figure it was just part of that new novel he wrote.

Right.

Like you can write a novel on a blog.

So there I was with Jennifer Hawkins, the prettiest sophomore at Lincoln High, getting mighty friendly at one-thirty in the morning. She grabbed my face in her hands and made me look up into her big, brown bedroom eyes. That’s what Uncle Paul calls girls with big eyes. Bedroom eyes. Especially if they’re all drooping and wet like you better hurry up and kiss me or something lame like that.

Uncles.

Anyway, Jennifer stared me eyeball-to-eyeball as I melted. “Hi, Bryan. Guess you’re wondering what I’m doing in your bedroom in the middle of the night, huh?”

“Kinda.”

“Yeah, well, I guess I like you.”

If you’re expecting a major make out session, you’d be right except this was all a freaking dream. The real story began when I opened my eyes, like I said in the middle of the night, except Jennifer Hawkins wasn’t making kissy face with me. 

In the real world, the teenage girl you have a crush on wakes you up late at night because she wants to blow your head off with the Glock she’s pointing your way.

Welcome to my world.

Yes, she pulls the trigger, but I’m not about to tell you anymore here because I’ve already used up my allotment of words for this blog post so you’ll just have to read it for yourself.

Who knows? Maybe Jennifer will love me tomorrow night.

Snpgrdxz.

And the Time Monsters.

Click here.

Friday, September 5, 2014

News Flash: Bad Decisions


Guest Post by Susan Price

Who doesn't enjoy complaining about Fools responding to Crises with Bad Decisions? News Flash: Bad Decisions, a party game currently under development by Diamond Dust Dreams, encourages you to enjoy doing that. This card game involves combining news-lead or headline sentence “teleprompt” cards with cards listing generic categories of famous (or infamous) people as the fools, crises ranging from mundane to outrageous, and flagrantly Bad Decisions for you to combine into amusing mini-stories.

News Flash: Bad Decisions plays like a cross between Apples to Apples® and Mad Libs®, with each prompt card playing differently every time because the News Anchor (judge) gets to set up every story. The finished game will have 200 cards each in the Fool, Crisis and Bad Decision decks - and 60 teleprompter cards. With a PG13 approach for selecting crises and bad decisions (from actual news stories), Diamond Dust Dreams expects its newest game will give the much racier Cards Against Humanity strong competition as the next must-have party game.

Diamond Dust Dreams is still in its startup phase. With substantial capital already tied up in printing its first game, Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools, the company has turned to Kickstarter to get News Flash: Bad Decisions off the ground. By contributing as little as $10 to the Kickstarter project, you’ll qualify for reward levels with direct input into the creation of additional Fool, Crisis, Bad Decision and Teleprompter cards. All supporters giving $10 or more may suggest topics for future Bad Decisions games, such as: horror movies (“went into the woods alone - at night”), thriller/scifi (“pressed the red button”), modern European history (“invaded Russia in winter”), and biotech (“cloned what?”).

The Kickstarter goal is $20,000, enough to cover the down-payment on a full production print run, so News Flash: Bad Decisions can go on press as soon as the team finishes proofing the final prompt and play decks, including cards suggested by Kickstarter supporters. Game stores are already expressing interest in News Flash: Bad Decisions, although even with the Kickstarter, the company cannot guarantee the game being delivered by Christmas 2014. That said, it could be printed in time to become the hot new Valentine’s Day gift in 2015.

Join our supporters and learn more by checking out the Kickstarter for News Flash: Bad Decisions. This Kickstarter ends September 21, 2014 so please click now. Send comments to Susan Price

***

About the Guest Author
Susan Price is a long-time editor and writer. She has edited both fiction and nonfiction books, including Brian Basilico’s book, It’s Not About You, It’s about Bacon, which was named the 2014 Small Business Book Awards Community Choice Winner in the category of Social Media. Her own fiction and poetry is as yet unpublished, although she did win a short story contest run through the Bloomingdale Public Library in 2000. Most of her writing and editing skills now focus on developing and promoting games for Diamond Dust Dreams Inc.


Snpgrdxz
Meanwhile, for a timely return to my world, Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters is ready to read. Visit Amazon and enjoy.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cover Reveal -- Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters


It's time to unveil the cover or my new novel,  Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters. It's the first book in my new Snpgrdxz Series. The first three books in the series will be available in Kindle format right away with the paperback version available by next week. Here's a brief description of Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters...

From where she stood at the foot of my bed, fifteen-year-old Jennifer Hawkins couldn’t miss, but would this sweet girl shoot me?

What if one night that teenage girl you have a crush on appears at the foot of your bed, pistol in hand, and threatens to shoot you? But your best friend and a terrorist burst into your bedroom and kill her in the nick of time? But the next night this same girl shows up in your bed again? This time she’s ready for love. When did your dead crush become your girlfriend? Wild dreams? Since when did your nightmares leave actual bullet holes, dead bodies and blood stains behind?

Join the crazy journey of Bryan Ganarski, Jennifer Hawkins, Gilbert Armstrong, and of course, Snpgrdxz, the teenaged space alien shape shifter who can be either a boy or girl depending on his or her mood. Hormones fly, earther and other, in this madcap misadventure. Is Bryan totally insane or is there a part of him that can still fall in love with one of the many versions of his time-traveling girlfriend? And will Bryan work up the gumption to kiss Jennifer in front of the whole sophomore class like she asked him to? She did ask him, didn’t she?

This love-crazed tale of time travel features a group of friends who become stuck between the wrong time on earth and a troll world filled with monsters far worse than those pesky tiny bridge trolls and the really tall, hairy mountain trolls. An evil daemon, werewolves, nosferatu, and a few ghosts are among the many monsters waiting for you in Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters.


My new novel should be ready for purchase by the time you read this. Visit my author's page on Amazon to buy it. UPDATE: YOU MAY PURCHASE SNPGRDXZ AND THE TIME MONSTERS BY CLICKING HERE.

In the meantime, here's the cover: