The Visitor

This week, I decided to finally participate in Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge. I chose an easy one for my first attempt, a challenge called “Five Words, Plus One Vampire.”

I had to incorporate three of the following five words into the story:






I also had to include a vampire in the story. And keep the story at 1,000 words. For this challenge, I used characters from one of the novels I am currently working on. So this story doubles as a brainstorming/promotional piece.

It isn’t too late for you to participate in the challenge either. Stories for this challenge aren’t due until next Friday, October 21st. I would love to see what you can come up with.

Enough babbling. Here is the story:

Lyris was thinking about the two dead men laying in her bedroom. She tried to remember how she had left their bodies tangled together when she left that morning. Killian had been laying on his stomach, his white skin was startling against the black sheets, as it always was. On some mornings Lyris would sit up in bed and just observe him for hours, appreciating the glow that still remained on his cheekbones, even hours after sunrise. Often, his dead hands, stiff with rigor mortis, would still be clutching a half empty bottle of red wine–poured in the wee hours of the morning to toast the coming dawn.

Leon did not look dead. He looked like he was sleeping. She had left him curled up on his side, his chest remarkably still against the bed. His blonde hair had grown long and spilled out over his pillow. She would lay beside his dead body and the scent that he carried in life still hung near him. Sandalwood and juniper. Sandalwood was the incense he burned in his office during those evenings he preferred to be alone. Junipers lined the path leading up to their house. 

It had been a particularly long day at the Harrisburg County Community College, where she taught 20th century European history. Killian laughed when she chose to become a history major, and he reveled in the comments her professors had written on all her essays, telling her that she wrote about history with such accuracy and detail, it was as if she had actually lived it.

Lyris insisted on walking to campus, even though she lived a long ways off the main road, in the town of Lowest Heights, Vermont. The road that led to Lyris’s house was unpaved. Her feet crunched in the freshly spread pea gravel as she followed the river out of town towards Bennington. She was approaching a large stone bridge that arched over the river and led the road through the long meadow and up the hill upon which her house sat. 

The weather was turning dark and wet. Every step Lyris made was like walking through water. She quickened her pace towards the house.. A dark cloud followed her as she quickly crossed the bridge, barely noticing how the wooden planks rattled under her weight. She was looking down as she walked. She always did. She was watching the ground and so she didn’t notice the girl until she was nearly on top of her.

The girl was sitting on the ruins of a fountain that once decorated the entrance lawn leading up to Lyris’s house, back in the nineteenth century. 

The girl had jumped up when she saw Lyris’ face. “Professor Rousseau, what are you doing here?”

Lyris blinked and thought back to her classroom earlier that day, to the eager young girl sitting in the second row with glasses, freckles and red hair that was more copper in color than Lyris’s own. She had repeatedly asked Lyris questions about the World War II London Bombings, and Lyris couldn’t help but give the girl a descriptive, seemingly first hand account of the event. 

Lyris pointed to her large house, up on the hill. She looked at the road leading up to her front driveway. It was so much shorter now. She wondered if she could dash for it.

The girl, who Lyris believed was called Jennifer, looked up at the house and looked back at Lyris, confused.

“I live there.” Lyris whispered. She realized how rude she was being, she hadn’t even acknowledged that she knew the girl, or said hello.

The rain began to fall. She had already said too much. She had to get away from the girl now. 

“It was nice seeing you,” Lyris said. “I unfortunately have a dinner appointment I cannot miss and I am running late as it is…”

The rain heard Lyris. It released a violent rain down on both of them, instantly soaking the papers Lyris was carrying and ruining the cover of the book in Jennifer’s hand.  Lyris looked desperately at the young girl, hoping she would rush home in the rain, but Jennifer just inched closer to Lyris.

“Can I please…”

The rest of what Jennifer had to say was lost by the sound of rain hitting in the river. Lyris shook her head.

Jennifer waved at the house on top of the hill. Lyris’s house. Killian’s house. Leone’s house. A dark mass of fear descended on Lyris and closed tightly around her. She knew what allowing that girl over her threshold meant. 

She considered the easiest solution to her problem, and that was to turn away from the girl and run as fast as she could to her house, leaving Jennifer in the rain. That was the simple solution, but it wouldn’t stop the girl from coming back to see Lyris later with questions about an essay or an exam.

Lyris grabbed the girl roughly around the wrist and pulled her up towards the house. They both broke into a fast run as lightning split the sky behind them. The two of them bounded up the front steps. Jennifer stamped her feet on the wooden porch, which creaked under her weight, and shook the rain out of her hair. She was shivering from the cold.

Lyris had a key safely nestled in her front pocket, but she didn’t bother to dig it out. Instead, she turned towards a large, ornate box they kept in an alcove by the front door.

She opened it, and with a speed someone with only her powers could possess, pulled the Browning .99m from the box and fired three bullets straight into Jennifer’s heart. Jennifer never saw the gun, but her death mask still registered surprise as she lay back on the porch, the rain washing her blood down the front steps.

Lyris looked down at the body, satisfied. She had not allowed a visitor into the vampires’ home in one hundred and fifty years.

Serial Novels. The Future of Self Publishing?

This morning, I preordered the new Amazon Fire. This is a gigantic leap for me. Gigantic because I was always one of those people who preached their devotion to paper books and condemned the digital direction literature and publishing was taking. I cried when Borders closed, and despite my love for books and deals, I refused to partake in the close out sales. I went in there once during the first week when books were only 10% off and I witnessed a jungle frenzy of carnivores pouncing on their prey. Books were everywhere, people were swarming around with large baskets filled to the brim with literature. Why now? For the sake of saving ten percent, why suddenly give in to that carnal need to read?

Because literature is in tune with a carnal need, the hunger and thirst for knowledge. Even through fiction, we learn more about our past, our future, and our present than life can teach us. In real life, our knowledge is limited to our experiences. Books give us the freedom to see and experience worlds we would never have the opportunity to experience otherwise. It is for that reason that literature will never die. We will always need the stories. We will always need the knowledge. Our methods of consumption however, must change.

Readers who are just consumers of the knowledge do not worry about how the content reaches them, as long as it is within their reach. The Internet and technology has made sure that books are more accessible and affordable to readers then ever before. That is exciting. That should be celebrated. Our children will still learn to read, the only difference is they will learn to read on iPad’s and Kindles and not on paper. We have all seen Star Trek, we all knew this was the future.

The only people concerned with the future of publishers are the writers and publishers themselves. After all, how do you market digital information on a platform (the Internet) where so much content is free? The Internet has been both a blessing and a curse to writers. It gave writers the ability to self-publish, but it also made it more difficult for them to profit off of their work. The distress over digital publishing has gone so far as to distract writers from their actual goals, and that goal is to tell a good story. Now every blog and writing forum discusses how to profit from publishing a story online, and not on how to use the Internet to tell a good story.

None of my darlings are edited, killed and ready for public consumption…yet. But they will be soon. I have been debating on how I am going to share my stories with the world. The closing of Borders closed a door for me. As a young girl, I would spend long periods of time in Borders wandering through the young adult section. I could see my future novels on those shelves, featured among the “Staff Favorites” or perhaps even displayed with honor by the front door. But now, that dream will never happen. There are no shelves for my books to rest. I used to dream about what the book covers would look like, the type of material I would use for the hardcovers and the paperbacks. I came of age just at the moment that the world of the chain bookstore began to crumple up and descend into our memories. Yes, bookstores still exist, but the closing of Borders is a sign of the future. It is the catalyst. It is Anne Boleyn. It’s appearance will change the book religion. Soon writers and readers will no longer have to go through agents and editors and publishing houses (the priests, bishops and church) to reach publication. The mindset has changed. The book reformation has taken place. Martin Luther has nailed his thesis to the walls of the publishing world and we have realized that those channels are no longer necessary. We now have direct access to the written word. We now have direct access to God.

In order to move on to the future, we must look to the past. To Charles Dickens. Charles Dickens would release his novels as serials in local publications. One chapter at a time. Readers would pay whatever they had to pay for that particular issue of the magazine to learn whether Oliver Twist finds his future home or whether David Copperfield finds true love.

I believe that serial novels are the future. Each chapter of a new novel will be published digitally for 50 cents a chapter (or whatever you like). That way, a reader can choose to stop reading if the story no longer interests them, or they may be so eager to find out what happens next that they will pay anything for you to publish another chapter. Readers are paying for content, not book jackets. In the end, everyone wins.

I’m sure some self-published authors are already trying this method, I just haven’t seen it. If so, I would love to know who is doing it, how they are implementing it and how it is working for them. I think it is the method I will try whey I become ready to publish.

Sunday Inspiration: Never Stop Improving

This post is going to seem like a huge advertisement for my workplace, but let it be.

For those of you who do not know, I currently work as the Live Nursery Specialist at my local Lowe’s. Last week, Lowe’s announced a new brand positioning. Their new brand is something that I have tried to make the theme for my life.


Never stop learning new things, never stop expanding your mind, never turn away new experiences, because life is not a journey with an end.

The Map of Time


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I could, if I wished, write a massive and detailed 600 word book review to tell you why you should read “The Map of Time.” You may sit through it, you may not.

But knowing my readers, these few excerpts will be enough to convince you that this book is meant for you.

“A writer. It had a pleasant ring to it. And it was an occupation that he was not averse to, as ever since childhood it had been his second choice, after that of being a teacher. He had always wanted to stand on a podium and stir people’s consciences, but he could also do that from a shop window, and perhaps in a simpler and more far-reaching way.” Page 141

“…Wells wondered, as he sat beside his pile of typed folios, whether he had written the book he had meant to write. Was this novel destined to figure in his bibliography, or had it been engendered by accident. Was he responsible for writing one novel and not another, or was this also controlled by the fate that governed men’s lives? He was plagued by doubts, although one cause him particular distress: was there a novel lurking somewhere in his head that would allow him to express the whole of what was really inside him? The idea he might discover this too late tormented him: that was he lay on his deathbed, before his last gasp, the plot of an extraordinary novel he no longer had time to write would rise from the depths of his mind, like a piece of wreckage floating up to the sea’s surface. A novel that had always been there, awaiting him, calling out to him in vain amid the clamor, a novel that would die with him, for no one but he could write it, because it was like a suit made to measure just for him. He could think of nothing more terrifying, no worse fate.” Page 471

“And so, since an almost infinite number of different worlds existed, Wells reflected, everything that could happen did happen. Or, what amounted to the same thing: any world, civilization, creature it was possible to imagine already existed. And so, for example, there was a world dominated by a non mammalian species, another by bird men living in huge nests, another in which man used an alphabet to count the fingers on his hand, another in which sleep erased all memory and each day was a new life, another in which a detective called Sherlock Holmes really did exist, and his companion was a clever little rascal called Oliver Twist, and still another in which an inventor had built a time machine and discovered a nightmarish paradise in the 802, 701. And taking this to its limit, there was also somewhere a universe governed by laws different from those Newton had established, where there were fairies and unicorns and talking mermaids and plants, for in a universe where anything was possible, children’s stories were no longer inventions, but copies of worlds their authors, by some quirk of fate, had been able to glimpse.” Page 607


Inspiration does not come when I demand it. It comes in the moments of sleep, before the dreams begin. I am waiting every moment for the answer to all my questions to come to me. I want something to write about, blog about. I have a problem writing about my personal life. I don’t like to relive every day in words. It seems tedious to me. When I journal, I do not record. I know keeping a record of events is good for posterity. After all, the world as we know it may end very soon. We may have to start again, and then where is my contribution to our history? There are other records of the life we lived here, but my voice will not be among the cries of history.

Perhaps I should be content with lending my voice to our present and our future. Never look back. That is what they say. Never look back at the past, for it is gone, unchangeable, and it has already changed you for good.

Moving on. I find it hard to write everyday. I feel like a dying flame somedays. Other days I find it hard to breath, let alone write. It is as if my mind and my words are trapped in a safe and I can no longer remember the combination. Every sentence is an effort to write. Nothing comes out right. In the past few months, every time I try to write I feel like I’m swimming against the tide.

My life has changed so much in the past few months, and yet I don’t know how to even begin telling people anything that has happened. Whenever someone asks me, “What’s new with you?” I lie and tell them nothing. The truth is, my career may be changing drastically in the next six months. I have discovered a talent for business that I never knew I had. I nearly destroyed my relationship of six years because I had one brief moment of doubt, and at the moment I am trying to rebuild all that I destroyed. It’s hard to explain. I know that I am having a hard time writing down the thoughts that are in my mind because I am having a hard time understanding exactly what it is that I think. I am confused. For the past month, I have been repeating the words, “I don’t know what I want.”

And I don’t. I don’t know what I want in love. I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I have built a barrier in my mind, tunneling my vision towards the future, where I imagine some amazing event will occur where the fog in my life will clear and I will begin to truly live my life. I know I cannot wait for something to happen. I am the change. Still, for some things, waiting is all I have. For others, I must work to fix my mistakes and rebuild the foundations I have wrecked.

All I ever wanted is to become a popular writer. I want to know people. I want people to know me. I want to blog and have twenty comments. I want people to read my words and I want to establish relationships with my readers. I have done nothing to make that dream a reality. When people enter my life, I shut them out. I don’t maintain relationships. I close down from criticism. I go months without writing. I never finish a story.

Somedays I feel like I should give up. Somedays I convince myself that I am not meant to do this, but on some rare days I brush all that doubt aside and I write

Sunday Inspiration


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Every new week is an opportunity for me to find new inspiration, meet new characters, start a new story and write new poetry. Every week is an opportunity for me to meet new people and enjoy new experiences.

I am grateful for every new week.

Falling For Autumn


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It’s that time of year again! Autumn has always been a few short months of constant beauty and inspiration, followed by a long winter. This is my hiking season. I don’t have as much time as I’d like to go out and explore, but when I get an hour or two I’ll hit the woods in my designer jeans. Here are some pictures from a hike along Red Jacket Creek in Shortsville this morning.

Shortsville 15

Shortsville 10

Shortsville 9

Shortsville 4


Shortsville 2


Also, I opened a new Flickr account. Feel free to add me as a contact:

Panthera Tigris


The 1938 photo of a Javan Tiger, now extinct

Whisper the names of Bali, Javan, Caspian, Siberian–the cats that will never walk again.

The girl was like a tiger who could not scratch

Could not growl

Could not kill

She felt his heart beating in her head. She could think of nothing else. And yet, the war came closer and the ground kept shaking as the zombies shook the mud from their arms and faced the morning light.

The girl tiger was defenseless in her den. Chained to the boulders. Waiting for him to rise with them.

The war was coming.

Thump. Thump. Thump. She could feel love and life marching away, through the forest. The forest. The living, breathing forest. The forest left her behind. She whispered to it. Asked the Goddess to come to her.

It did not respond. She mewed softly and buried her face in the dirt to hide her stripes.

Sometimes her passion and anger thrashed out, and her sex tried to lure them closer. She wanted to dominate something. She wanted to be dominated by something. She sat chained–filled with hot, pulsating heat–filled with the pressure of desire. The longing for the release.

And the war kept coming.

She imagined a world with no stories to tell and no one to explain where they had gone. Someday it will end. Like the tigers, someday humans will be extinct. No one will stand alone to whisper the name of a place. A time. The war is coming.

The war is here.




The little girl went down by the water to escape

To escape from the smoothness of his lips

To escape from the harshness of his tongue

And the way he had become a shirt

that didn’t fit anymore.

She had tattooed him

in the shape of birds

over her body.

Before she had grown into her skin.

Now she waited for the threads

Between them to become

Long enough to break them.

For seven years she watched him in the mornings

As she wove poetry with her needles

and watched him dress. For seven years, seven

She was without her art.


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