Posts filed under fiction

#amwriting

At the end of March, on a day I met a friend at the airport and had coffee and looked her in the eye as she said "just write the book, Elora. I know you have it in you," I started the next piece of Stephanie's story.

I couldn't tell you how it happened. At first I just processed verbally and worked the kinks of plot out with friends who know and love and understand these characters. I held it all loosely in my hands because who needs a deadline?

And then I realized—oh yeah. Right. Me.  

I built a playlist and rallied the women in Story Sessions to make me write—no really—make me write. And I sat down in my seat and shut my closet door and wrote the first line. 

I've heard it said once that every human is a story with skin.

I'm 30,000 words into the manuscript now, and I have beta readers and people who call me out in public to make sure I'm writing those words. I have a title (that I'm kinda sorta in love with) and a cover release date and an editor in waiting and new characters that make me giggle while writing (totally healthy). 

On September 18, a little over a year since Every Shattered Thing went live, the next chapter of the Shattered Things series will be released.

I'm learning this time around that writing doesn't have to be done in isolation. Often, the words themselves won't come to you without quiet and contemplation. It's nearly impossible for me to write fiction with music in my ears unless I know explicitly what will happen in the scene and I need it for the mood. I wrote much of the first draft of Every Shattered Thing in complete silence on the couch in my living room. No one even read it until I was almost finished and I thought why not? It's not like I'm going to publish it or anything...

But this book? It's being written in the midst of community and that's perfect, really. Because the community forming within the pages is breathtaking and redemptive. Despite the broken pieces still offering jagged edges that can break through skin and bone, these characters are learning the power of second chances and new beginnings and how the past will always come back to haunt you—it's what you do with that haunting that counts.

And sometimes, you know, that includes new friendships that remind us of the beauty of life.

Posted on April 17, 2014 and filed under writing, soft, fiction.

elora reads :: GREED

book_covers_round2.jpg

Back in August, my friend Kelly sent me a text saying "you need to read Vain."  

Being the amazing-publicist-that-she-is, I knew I could take her word for it and one-clicked the book on the spot. 

I loved it and then got super-excited-and-fangirly because it was going to be a series. And not just any type of series. It would be focused on the seven deadly sins. 

Brilliant. Sold. 

I waited for Greed (not-so) patiently and when I finally got a review copy, I read it all in a day. I'm so excited to tell you about it.

The Blurb >>  

Gather ‘round, love, because I want you. I want what you have, I want what you don’t have, I want more of what I already have. I want. But if you so much as ask for something in return, go ahead and walk away. Know if you want to play in my world, it’s every man for themselves and the weak become mine. Leeches will be obliterated because I make it my job to destroy them. I protect what’s mine and I take what’s yours...because that’s what I do. I want.

My story will not endear me to you and, frankly, I could care less if it does because I’m in this for the money and nothing else. There’s nothing redeeming about me. I’m a corrupt, money hungry, immoral asshole from Los Angeles. I’m every man’s worst nightmare and every girl’s fantasy.

I’m Spencer Blackwell...And this is the story about how I went from the world’s most coveted guy to the guy no one wanted around and why I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

The author >>  

Fisher Amelie is the author of The Leaving Series, Callum & Harper and Thomas & January. She began her writing career as a copywriter for an internet marketing company wherein one of their client's said, 'Hey! You're funny. You should write books'. Which in turn she said, 'Hey, get out of here! This is the lady's restroom.' While washing her hands and the embarrassment from her face, she thought they may have had a valid point. So, she took the thousands of hours of writing stories growing up, tucked them into her pocket and began writing and writing and writing.

 What I liked >> 

Amelie can write, y'all. This is more than just your typical YA. It's gritty. It deals with some heavy stuff.  The main character isn't without his faults and she portrays this artistically. I liked the tension between Cricket and Spencer, the realistic setting, the shades of grey in a black and white world. I also appreciated Amelie's personification of Greed. The ghosts of Spencer Blackwell's past were articulate and haunting.

What I loved >>  

I approached Greed much like I approached Vain. Even though I knew a bit of Spencer's backstory (what we hear in the previous book) I loved how she plucked him out of comfort and placed him in a ranch. I loved Spencer's fight for Cricket and the out of left field plot twists (I honestly didn't see them coming—which is refreshing). Most of all, I loved the development of characters. Outside of those needing to remain static, no character was out of place. 

What you should know >>  

This is the second book to a series but each one reads as a stand-alone. I would still suggest reading Vain first if you haven't yet, only because Spencer is introduced and you'll get a sense of his character before jumping into the story.

There aren't many books that can capture an essence of something and portray it artistically. Amelie does that. Her writing is approachable and fun but her stories are so much more than entertainment. There's a depth to these stories that you can miss if you aren't careful.

Bottom line? Purchase GREED on Amazon  You'll love it. Promise.

 

Posted on October 29, 2013 and filed under books, fiction.

of darkness & light.

Sarah breathed in the night air and glanced around her. 

Nothing. 

It was here, in the woods behind her home, she felt most true. She positioned herself against the mossy undergrowth and sank her fingers deep into the damp soil. When she was little, her mom used to take her on walks through the mountains in Idaho. She hated those walks. Hated the heat, hated the crickets coating the trees, hated the coyotes howling at the moon. She always counted the seconds before she would be able to go back to camp - a one room cabin where she’d stay the summer with her family. 

During one walk, her mother stopped in the middle of a gathering of tall sycamore trees, towering over her and swaying in the breeze. 

“Do you hear that?” her mother whispered.

Sarah looked around and widened her eyes, indignant. “Are you serious right now?” She’d cocked her teenage hip and snorted with disgust. “Mom, you are so weird.”

Her mom opened her eyes and looked at Sarah with no judgment, only sadness. “One day soon you will hear it. The voices will start calling to you on the wind and you won’t be able to ignore. You’ll know.” She walked over to her then, cupping her face with her hands and planting a kiss on her forehead. “Go on back to camp if you’d like. I’m going to stay out here and rest a bit.” And she’d turned away from Sarah, walking into the trees with a gait so graceful she sat and watched her until she disappeared.

She smiled at the memory, her fingers growing cold. Staring at the stars, she found the big dipper and traced the line to Orion. 

Her mom always was more of a mystic than anyone wanted to believe.

I hear it now, mom. She thought. I know what you were saying. About nature speaking of the deep? About the wind against the leaves, whispering secrets of darkness and light...

A tear escaped her then, rolling down her cheek before she had a chance to wipe it away. 

She needed to understand. Needed to know how to grab hold of the mystery her mother possessed. 

Her hands went to her belly, feeling the growing bulge and the fear of what comes next. She wasn’t ready to be a mother. She failed as a daughter and was a horrible sister. She barely knew what it meant to be a wife. 

No, she wasn’t ready. But that didn’t stop the love. It pressed against her ribs at times, almost threatening to take her heart out with its force. In those moments, she’d just sit and lean into the pain, closing her eyes and thinking of the joy to come.

“Tell me your secrets” she whispered to the wind, “tell me what it means to hold the world in my hands.”

She pressed her hands against her eyes and shook her head. Certifiable. That’s what she was - absolutely crazy. She could see into the future - could see her own daughter cocking her hip and looking at her incredulously through insect ridden fields and hikes through mountains. Wasn’t there another way? She sat there for awhile, breathing steady, the crickets echoing her own cadence. If she concentrated hard enough, she could feel herself fall deeper into the soil around her.

What was that phrase from childhood? Ashes to ashes, dust to dust? She knew a little more of what that meant now. Life went by so quickly. 

When she opened her eyes she gasped. Light illuminated the sky, falling like tiny pieces of glass. Star after star, exploding in on itself, falling in waves around her. She spread her arms and laughed, the musky air filling her lungs. All this time, she thought she knew. All this time, she thought she understood the secrets whispered on the wind. 

And she had no idea. 

The twinkling show continued, and she knew what was happening. What always happens when something experiences a rebirth - a crashing, a shattering, a piecing back together. 

Because in those moments, Sarah knew her mother was sending her a message. 

What’s whispered on the wind isn’t the secrets of the deep. It isn’t the knowledge of darkness and light and how to hold the world in your hands.

It’s the women who’ve gone before - who’ve experienced the shattering and know the joy. It’s their tears raining down on us and it’s their lullabies we hear in the melody of wind against leaf. 

Breathing life once more into those who need it most. Mothering. Comforting. Holding. Whispering.


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Posted on April 5, 2013 and filed under fiction.

manuscript monday - come alive (pt. 4)

So, I'm working on some side projects right now and instead of leaving this space forgotten, I thought I'd share a little from Come Alive. I won't always have pieces up on Mondays, but for the next few weeks, I will. Hope you enjoy. I see him before he sees me. He’s sitting on the bleachers - my favorite spot - talking to someone on his cell phone. This has been our meeting place for a few weeks now, kind of our way of starting the day together. This morning, he’s wearing his typical uniform of letter jacket and jeans. I think of his scent - the way it lingers on my clothes after he holds me - and I smile, the butterflies coming to life inside. His hair falls across his forehead and he reaches up to brush it away. I stop for a few minutes and just watch him. I imagine he’s talking to his mom - who else would be up this early? Not wanting to interrupt him, I wait for awhile longer. I didn’t know if he would be here this morning because I wasn’t able to answer his phone call last night.

Last night.

Memories come flooding back and I try and push them away. I glance again at the sky and remind myself today is a new day with new possibilities and hope. My eyes wander back to Kevin - he looks tired. He’s off the phone now, his eyes focusing on the clouds in the distance. His head rests in his hands and every once in awhile his left foot starts to involuntarily bounce. His nervous twitch. I smile to myself and make my way over to the bleachers. He hears my approach and lifts his head. Smiling, he reaches for my hand to help me up the stairs.

“You started early this morning.”

He tilts his head and his grin grows across his face, "What do you mean?”

I point to his phone still sticking out of his pocket and he nods his head in understanding.

“Oh. Yeah. That was uh...my mom.” He scratches his head sheepishly, as if he wonders whether or not he should divulge information, and shrugs, “She just likes to know I made it to school okay.”

I raise an eyebrow and position myself close to him - away from the chill of the morning air. He wraps his arm around me and pulls me closer still.

“Good morning, beautiful.”

I smile and blush at his greeting and lean forward to kiss his cheek. “Mornin''” My voice is a lot deeper than normal - I cough to clear the frog out of my throat and silently curse the evening spent outside on the frozen grass. I glance out of the corner of my eye as I sit gingerly next to him - my legs still incredibly sore from the night before. I pull my hair down across my face and attempt to make my bangs fall below my blackened eye. I feel his gaze inspecting me - noticing my wincing, my sharp intake of breath, my purposeful positioning of hair across my face...

“Your dad get a hold of you again?”

I sigh.

He always knows.

“Yeah.” I sniff to avoid the fresh wave of tears threatening escape, but he beats me to the punch. He doesn’t even say anything at first. He just grabs my hand and squeezes it.

“Steph...”

“Don’t Kevin...please. Not now. I can’t handle it.” I look at him through my tears and will him to understand - to not go to those places - the ones where people ask me to leave my home or to say something against the only family I’ve ever known. They don’t understand. They won’t ever understand. It’s so much more complicated than walking out the door.

He glances down at our fingers - now interlocked. He looks at me and gives me the crooked smile that would make me go cockeyed for the rest of the day. “Why’d you come out here this morning?” He asked.

“To remember.”

“Remember what?”

“Hope.”

He touches the bruise on my cheek, black against the paleness of my skin, and purses his lips. “I hate that you have to live like this, Steph. No one should have to experience what you do on a daily basis. How do you do it? How have you not gone crazy? I think about my own parents and...I don’t know...it’s just so hard for me to fathom someone not experiencing the safety of a family.” He takes a strand of my hair and places it behind my ear and looks at me, waiting for a reply.

I have to hand it to him - his approach is different. Instead of asking me to leave, he asks why I stay. He tries to understand. I squeeze his hand as I fight for the words.

I look away and focus on the sun’s rays bathing the trees in its morning glow. “I don’t know, Kevin. I just...do. I have no choice but to survive. My brother helps - knowing there’s someone younger than me in the house pushes me to stay. I couldn’t ever leave Pacey knowing what happens when my dad gets angry. It’s just the cards I’ve been dealt, I guess.” I shrug my shoulders complacently and look at him out of the corner of my eye, “The only thing I can do is hang on to the constants in my life - writing. Protecting Pacey. The hope of a sunrise.” I glance down at our hands and whisper, “You.”

He takes my face gently into his hands and kisses me lightly on this lips - briefly touching the scar from the night before - and the birds begin to sing, echoing across the field against the backdrop of clouds that look like fire and mirror my heart - alive and bursting with a new day.

He pulls back and looks me in the eyes, “I’m going to find a way to keep you safe, Steph. I promise.”

Seeing the intensity in his gaze, I know without a doubt he’s telling the truth. I think about my father - his anger and what he would do if he knew I was talking with Kevin, and my blood runs cold. I look away for a second to collect my thoughts. I’m not used to this feeling - this knowing I need protection but not wanting it for fear of retaliation.

“Kevin...my dad is dangerous. Please don’t get involved - I don’t want you hurt.”

He studies me and shrugs his shoulders, “It’s too late, Steph. I’m already involved. I was involved the second I saw a bruise on your skin. Nothing will change that - and I promise I’ll be careful. Your dad doesn’t scare me.”

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly.

That’s the problem, I think to myself.

I feel the fear rising - the fixation and compulsiveness - and silently will them away. Closing my eyes, I rest my head in my hands and wonder how long it will be until Kevin realizes the extent of my dad’s power.

Want to keep reading? Check out Come Alive on Amazon - available on kindle as well! 

Posted on November 18, 2012 and filed under fiction.

manuscript monday - come alive (pt.3)

So, I'm working on some side projects right now and instead of leaving this space forgotten, I thought I'd share a little from Come Alive. I won't always have pieces up on Mondays, but for the next few weeks, I will. Hope you enjoy. “You did this, you dirty little whore. You’re nothing. Nothing!”

His hands find places to grip and slap and poke that no one would ever see. There will be bruises. There is already blood. My mother weakly argues with my father, begging him to stop simply because the carpet has enough stains.

I barely register that she mentions nothing about him hitting her daughter.

I finally manage to break free and push my way past mom and Mr. I-don’t-have-a-voice. I really don’t know where I’m headed; I just know I need to get out. My cheek still burns in the shape of a fist. Gingerly, I reach up and touch the bruise forming. It’s tender. Swollen. I turn back around to see if anyone is following and trip over my little brother’s toy truck. Falling against the wall, I jam my fingers. I don’t have time to think about it though, because I can hear the rage building in my room. The man-without-a-voice is suddenly yelling back obscenities at my father. It will only take a few minutes before my dad realizes me gone.  As I run out the door, I hear my mom in the background, crying.

I can’t help but wonder if she’s crying because she was caught or because I’m leaving. My chest heaves with remorse and pain, and I fight the bile forcing itself up my throat. I will not let him win. My head turns reflexively as I shoot a furtive glance back to my house, sitting eerily silent in contrast to the raging argument heard for miles just seconds before. I give up and crumple to the grass in defeat. My body flinches against the icy green blades, but I simply wipe my cheek and pull my hoodie over my head to protect my skin from the burning sensation of frozen water against the most recent scrapes and bruises. My face crinkles in disgust. It happened again. How could anyone ever want me? How could anyone ever find me attractive? I close my eyes as the tears start to fall freely, melting the ice around me.

Maybe my dad was right. Maybe I am nothing. The inner record player rewinds the events of the last hour and I start to wonder. How was my mother’s mistake my fault? Why did my father choose to take his anger out on me? I try to push the thoughts out making me think I am nothing more than a human punching bag and reach for positive memories. The last time Kevin kissed me. Laughing with my friends at lunch. Getting my English paper back and noting the “brilliant!” scrawled across the top by Mrs. Peabody. I keep this up until my doubts are replaced with my shaky self-confidence. I am worth something. People do want me. Staring at tiny blades of grass glistening with night frost I force the mantra back and forth through my head.

Just breathe, I tell myself. Just breathe. 

I stay there for about thirty minutes. A bit longer than normal, but my father doesn’t disappoint - I know the routine: anger, remorse, forced forgiveness and guilt. Compulsiveness at its finest. I hear his footsteps before I smell the residue of his latest bottled conquest. I take a deep breath and pray for strength. I close my eyes and for a brief second pretend I’m someone else entirely.

“Stephanie?” His whisper sounds strained – like he’s fighting back tears I know will come. I motion to him with my hand, not really wanting to get up and feel the tender spots continuing to let me know their existence. His face breaks through the bushes and registers my shivering frame. His shoulders collapse and for a brief second, he buries his face in his hands.

“Oh sweetie. Oh Stephanie. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry. I promised, I know. But I couldn’t help it. Please don’t leave me. Please.” His earnest words weren’t new to my ears; I knew his learned drunken behavior warranted this scene. It always did.  I hate this part more than any other - even the fists against skin. How can you not help it? How can you not help hitting your own flesh and blood? I don’t get it. His arms reach to lift me off the grass and I shrug away - pain shooting up my ribs and radiating off of my knee.

“Leave me alone.” I say it without thinking. My heart stops and I hold my breath. Stupid, stupid,  stupid I think to myself - waiting for the inevitable backlash. In my haste and anger, I allowed my voice to be heard. It was the exact opposite of what my dad expects from us. Reconciliation is nothing to him - we reunite on his terms. If I don’t feel like it, well...I have to at least act like I want to forgive and forget.

His response to my mistake is immediate.

A switch flips and my dad’s face blanches in anger. He stands up straight - his hands on his hips and his eyes wide with disbelief. You would have thought I physically slapped him. A sneer crawls across his face slowly and he laughs.

“What? You want me to leave you alone?” The change in behavior comes suddenly, but not unexpectedly. My father could be the poster child for borderline personality disorder triggered by alcoholic stupor. His eyes darken and I grimace against the melting ice. He turns around and starts walking back to the house, grumbling the whole way there about my lack of appreciation for what I had been given. “You want me to leave you alone?” he says over his shoulder, “I’ll leave you alone. Find somewhere else to sleep tonight you waste of space.”

I stare at his retreating figure for a half second before I realize what just happened. Without thinking, I jump up and run after him, crying the whole way.

“Daddy, daddy – no wait….please! I…I didn’t meant it.” My voice starts shaking with hysteria. I trip on a dip in the road, landing hard on my knee. Blood immediately starts forming tiny rivers down my jeans. “Please….” I whisper, broken.

He turns around and walks towards me, a smirk of satisfaction on his face. Taking the hand he offers, I wince at the force he uses to yank me to a standing position. He brings his face within inches of my own, his breath nearly knocking me over. He reaches out and grabs my arms with such brute force, tears threaten to spill out against my will. I bite my lip, fighting to keep them under control. He wrinkles his lips in disgust. “I regret the day you were born. You mean nothing to me. Nothing. You’re the worst mistake of my life.”

His words cut to the deepest places I hide from everyone. Within seconds, my father manages to reach inside and rip open every single wound from every single harsh word ever spoken to me. His retreating figure broke my heart before. Now? I am shattered.  Without saying a word, I wriggle from his grasp and turn and walk into the house, ignoring the apparent absence of my mother. I make my way to my room, welcoming the haze starting to form around my brain.

I am nothing. I mean nothing. Closing my eyes, I let the darkness sweep over me as the tears finally gain the freedom to take over. My body, exhausted from the night’s events, begs for rest, but my mind wants nothing of it. I spend the rest of the night in a comatose state and it’s not until the first light starts peeking through the corner window that I wake. With an urgency that can only be explained as lunacy, I shower and change clothes in record time.

The sunrise. I need to see it. I need to remember.

I leave the house with minutes to spare and am instantly rewarded by one of the most stunning displays of color I have yet to see. I lock the door behind me, stuff my hands in the pockets of my jacket, and begin the long walk to school, eyes glued to oranges and reds and pinks, fighting for a piece of the sky.

 

Want to keep reading? Check out Come Alive on Amazon - available on kindle as well! 

Posted on November 11, 2012 and filed under fiction.