Flash Fiction Friday: The Gray-Eyed Boy

Happy weekend, everyone! Today I’m embarking on a new plan to post a short story every week and I’m calling it Flash Fiction Friday. Hopefully, I’ll have the discipline to keep it up. I have been working on some background stories for the secondary characters in my current novel-in-progress, so I thought I’d bring one of those stories to you today.

The Gray-Eyed Boy

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He knew not where they were taking him and the others. Cages stacked five high, four wide, and sixteen deep on the truck, the boy was lucky enough to be on the perimeter. At least there he could breath the fresh air, escape the stench of feces and urine, feel the wind rush through his hair. If only he could stretch his legs.

Had he still had his teeth they would have been rattling along with the eighteen-wheeler that carried him and the other boys. But they had been removed when he was a toddler as soon as they came in—gripped with a pair of pliers and yanked free in a tortuous bloody mess. He was now five years old and could feel the ridges of a permanent tooth growing in when his tongue slid along the gums in the front of his mouth. He feared he wouldn’t live long enough to see it fully emerge.

A boy in his cage kicked him. He returned the gesture with an elbow jab to the chest. He heard a crack and the other boy bellowed. It meant nothing to him. There was no love lost between him and the other five boys he was caged with. He had no concept of love. They all knew. Nobody was ever willing to mess with the gray-eyed boy. Not intentionally anyway.

The truck jerked and the boy’s cage jolted. The bracket that held it to the frame had loosened. The boy gazed down at the blurred road, five cages down, as it rushed out from beneath the truck, like an out of control conveyer belt set to maximum speed. Feverish wind, spattered with eye-burning dust, slapped his shaggy bronze hair against his face and he held it back with one hand as he slipped the fingers of his other between the wires, grasped the bracket and tugged. The cage jostled again as the truck hit another bump in the road. The boy watched the gap in the bracket widen.

Both hands on the cage, the boy pushed and pulled. He got on both feet and though the cage was far too small for him to stand upright, he used his body weight to rattle the cage. Back and forth. Side to side. Again and again. All he needed was one more good pothole in the road and—

With the next jolt, the cage wrenched free from the upper corner of the truck. The boy watched in merciless anticipation as the rushing road rose to greet him. He pulled his hand back to cover his face and curled his body into a ball as the cage crashed into the pavement, rolling and clattering until it came to a stop on the double yellow line. The impact tore the cage open on one corner and the boy escaped with a few bruises and red-speckled road burn on his left thigh. Two of the boys in the cage lay motionless. Two cried at their wounds, while the other looked around in confusion, blood dripping from an oozing gash on his hairline.

The gray-eyed boy was not about to wait around for the next truck of hungry creatures to come by and snatch him up. He shot into the undergrowth of the forest by the side of the road. The leaves crunched and twigs cracked under his hardened bare feet. In the background an engine roared. The boy ignored the screams of the boys as the car engine died and doors slammed. And he ignored the resulting silence when the boys had undoubtedly been drained of every ounce of liquid life from their plump bodies. He just kept running.

He kept to the woods for two days and three nights, keeping shelter by a tiny freshwater stream that he nearly drank dry the first night. The truck had collected him and the others over three hours before the fall and they’d been denied food and water since the day before. The numbered tags that hung from both ears—the boy’s only identifying mark, #6192—scratched his neck and for two days he’d tried to detach them unsuccessfully. His earlobes were red and swollen from the effort.

The impetus that finally drew him out of the woods was his clenching hunger. He’d been born and raised in the captivity of industrialized food production, not in the wild. He had no concept of where food came from, having been fed slop from a trough throughout his short life. Though he knew nothing of the world surrounding him, something told him that the wooden rail fence he encountered was not a natural phenomenon. But in the distance beyond the fence were a grove of trees dotted with red.

Something about the red dots made the boy salivate like ravenous bloodhound. He slid under the fence and stumbled toward the trees, his energy quickly waning. He lost count the number of times he’d fallen, his determination strong enough to will him forward again and again. When he reached the closest tree, he collapsed from both exhaustion and relief. He’d have to rest a bit before he could climb high enough to reach the delectable crimson orb that called out to him.

His head fell against the column of bark and he gazed up at the cerulean sky and watched a series of feathered clouds drift by. For the first time in his life, he felt peace. He was free. It was foreign to him, disconcerting. But with that feeling came something he desperately needed. Deep sleep.

It was dark when he woke, but even in the bitter moonlight he could make out the staunch silhouette of an enormous man looming above him. But something was wrong. The boy felt as if someone had gripped him by the throat, prepared to squeeze until the life emptied from him. Self-preservation instincts kicked in. He clawed desperately at the corded collar that now circled his neck and yanked the attached leash ferociously.

“It’s okay, boy. You’ll be safe with me,” the man said, tightening his grip on the leash. Rabid panic boiled within the boy when the man grinned, flashing a set of razor sharp canines. The boy’s heart thumped violently, sending a pulsating cadence to his ears that seemed to scream rhythmically, “Run! Run! Run!” But there was nowhere to go. His freedom gone in a flash, the boy would never again sleep in peace.

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Author Spotlight: Vanessa Kings

This week’s featured author is Vanessa Kings.

Chronicles of the Nocturnal Forest

Melanie is living an ordinary, boring life when one night she is transported in her dreams to the Kingdom of Astebeth. Night after night, the fairy of her dreams will tell her the stories of the inhabitants of the Kingdom, its town, and the magical Nocturnal Forest nearby. A forest full of magical creatures where the impossible can happen. Soon, she comes to suspect that her dreams may not only be dreams after all. Follow her on her incredible journeys that will take her to magical places and beyond Earth itself to discover the magical secret of the Nocturnal Forest in the first part of The Fairy of my Dreams trilogy.

About the author:

I was born on March 14th of 1985, in Rosario, Argentina. At the age of 10 I wrote my first fairy tale as a way to deal with a very painful earache. I found writing comforting and distracting. After that day, I continued writing every time I felt the need of leaving realty behind.
By the age of 18 I had around 120 pieces written, between fairy tales, poems, life’s reflections and other stories. I always wanted to publish my stories but never had the confidence to do it. After my son was born, my husband and my best friend gave me the confidence that I needed to start writing my first book.
I decided to start translating and eventually publish one of my favorite stories, hoping to bring the fantasy and imagination back to all those kids and young readers that would adventure themselves into its pages. That’s how Chronicles of the Nocturnal Forest was born.

Blog: https://vanessakingsbooks.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tfomd

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KingsVanessa

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Vanessa-Kings/e…

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kingstfomd/

G+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+VanessaK…

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Author Spotlight: Steve Downes

This week’s featured author is Steve Downes.

Cosmogonic Marbles

Part 1 of the Botolf Chronicles

In the endless Cosmoses that exist in the Multi-verse (with equally endless possibilities) the adventures of two brothers, on an Earth where all myths are real and on our own dull magicless Earth, don’t amount to a hill of beans (except in the Cosmoses where they do amount to hills of beans …but that’s another novel).

In this story Philip Philips, a failed businessman, and his twin brother James, are unwilling participants in a battle of Good versus Evil when a mysterious gateway is opened by a minor God from a Dark-Age twin Earth.
It should have been James Philips who was found by the Dark Stranger and transported by an inter-dimensional being in the guise of a Womble to the Dark-Age Earth filled with every magical creature imaginable. But, as Fate would have it, it’s Philip, the useless one, who ends up leading a group of misfits across Medieval England to mount rescues, battle Hobgoblins and generally save the World(s).
James Philips meanwhile is stuck on dull, magicless, Earth in his old college, Botolf-almost-Oxford, which he discovers is staffed solely by men dedicated to the protection of our Earth from the paranormal. His old mentor, now living in a video recording, introduces him to an array of strange allies, as London, England and the World face an ‘alien’ invasion of swords and sorcery.

Others are caught up in the events of the inter-cosmic connection between two Earths; Vortigern the King has been bred for conquest and now his eyes are on our world. He brings with his armies many wizards, who themselves have gained an eye for the throne.

Sam, a young boy from West London has been sent through the gateway to the dark world of magic where he meets Snodrod and the children of an enslaved village, their only wish to get back to their homes; but they face enormous challenges … not least, Dragon-shaped ones.
The story, as told here in the first Chronicle of Botolf, takes place simultaneously in both Earths, where the connection between worlds has a strange echoing effect on every character.

Will the world be saved? Can the Wrong man do the job? Is this a rhetorical question?
All will be answered in this comedy/fantasy/mock-u-history tale.

p.s. There’s also a sarcastic Oak Tree in there somewhere.

About the Author:

Steve Downes is an Irish contemporary poet, playwright and novelist, currently living and working in Ireland. Born in Drogheda, Country Louth in 1973

Early Work:

1995: Plays and Poetry, Steve’s first play produced was ‘Until Morning’ in 1995 by the Calipo Theatre Company and was written and performed for the charity AIDS Alliance, scenes from the play were also performed by the Nation Youth Theatre later that year.
From 1991 to 1997 Steve’s poetry was being featured in Poetry Magazines in both Ireland and the UK, included Britain’s best known publication for poem Envoi. Steve was also gaining a reputation for experimental poetry performance and in 1993 travelled across Ireland with a group of young poets performing in a range of venues.
1996: Steve’s second play ‘Voices’ was performed at the Droichead Arts Centre as part of a showcase of new Irish Talent.
His first major publication was ‘The Pagan Field’, a collection of poems inspired by the Irish historic landscape; the book’s striking artwork was created by the late Artist Teddy Doyle.
1997: Steve third play, ‘For God and Country’, won a Kenny-Naughton award, the play was a harrowing single scene of the interrogation of a freedom fighter by a policeman who represented a Totalitarian Religion-based government.

In 1998 Steve attended NUI Maynooth University and read Classical History, History and Anthropology. In 2001 he received a B.A. Degree in Classics and Anthropology and in 2003 he received a Masters in Cultural Anthropology.

Mid-term Work:

In 2000, Steve wrote a collection of poems entitled ‘Ghosts’ which was featured in the book Celtic Echoes and launched in the City Arts Centre, Dublin, the book was sold in Ireland, the UK and the US and individual poems by Steve were used by Academic institutions in the US and Thailand as part of their English Literature Courses.

In 2005 Steve was shortlisted for playwright in Ireland and the US for his play ‘The Creator’, a surreal black comedy which sees God as a failing scientist creating and re-creating the world and its inhabitants.
Also in 2005 Steve and the English poet, novelist and filmmaker Roger Hudson launched ‘Side Angles’, two twin collections of poems published back-to-back. This experimental book sold over 2,500 copies and was highly acclaimed by critics.
2005-10 Steve’s poems were featured in two anthologies, both published in Ireland, many of his poems began to appear on on-line poetry forums around this time.

Modern Work:

In 2010 Steve worked with Photographer Duirmuid Jones and Web-designer Jamie Stanton to produce his forth collection of poems, the on-line collection ‘Urbania’ http://www.stevedownesurbania.com/ind…, which has received thousands of views and much critical acclaim.

In 2013 Steve’s first novel, Cosmogonic Marbles (part 1 of 3 in a series) came on sale on Amazon. The book is a Comedy fantasy written in the style of Steve’s literary hero Douglas Adams.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cosmogonic-Ma…

Current Work:

Steve latest novel is part two of the Botolf Chronicles: Temporal Tome
http://www.amazon.com/Temporal-Tribal…

Steve’s websites are http://stevedownesauthor.webs.com/ and follow on twitter @writer_s_downes

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Author Spotlight: Linda Andrews

This week’s featured author is Linda Andrews.

Redaction

Six months after an Influenza Pandemic swept across the globe, the world is starting to emerge from quarantine. But Pestilence Free Day is short-lived. For an unseen enemy has just been unleashed.

Five people. Seven days.

A brilliant scientist with an apocalyptic forecast.

A soldier that needs an enemy to fight.

A college student venturing into a changed world.

An insurance salesman who exploits every opportunity.

A juvenile delinquent desperate to leave his past behind.

Redaction: Humanity is about to be erased from the Book of Life.

About the author

Linda Andrews lives with her husband and three children in Phoenix, Arizona. When she announced to her family that her paranormal romance was to be published, her sister pronounce: “What else would she write? She’s never been normal.”

All kidding aside, writing has become a surprising passion. So just how did a scientist start to write paranormal romances? What other option is there when you’re married to romantic man and live in a haunted house?

If you’ve enjoyed her stories or want to share your own paranormal experience feel free to email the author at lindaandrews@lindaandrews.net She’d love to hear from you.

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What has Daelynn Quinn been up to?

So I’ve been taking a break from blogging over the past couple months. I just posted my first Author Spotlight of the new year yesterday, so go check it out. What else have I been up to?

Check out my new writing desk!

Check out my new writing desk!

This month I bought myself a new writing desk. It’s called a FitDesk and apart from my sore bum, I love it! I’m sure most writers can sympathize, but I spend too many hours of the day sitting and needed a way to get in some extra activity. With this I can merge my writing time with working out. While I don’t do all of my work here, it’s a nice change of scenery.

Currently, I’m about 35k in to my  novel. Yes, this is the same novel I worked on (or didn’t work on) during NaNoWriMo. It’s a slow process, but I’m extremely happy with what I have so far. The first act is completed, and going into the second act I feel that the pace is just right. It was going slow for a while and I think that is because the book starts out with some very intense and action-packed first chapters before slowing down for some character development. I’m predicting the final word count to be somewhere around 80-90k, but we’ll see.

Also, I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do with this novel when I’m finished. At my mother’s suggestion, I’m considering going the traditional route and submitting to agents/publishers. I like self-publishing, but traditional publishing will actually get my book in front of more readers, so it’s worth a try. This also means having to shell out for a good, professional editor. Now, I’ll admit that in all but one of my previous novels I committed the cardinal sin of editing my own books (gasp!). Yes, yes, I know. Go ahead and throw the stones. But apart from a few minor typos, I don’t think I did too badly. And to be honest I simply couldn’t afford a good editor, or an amateur editor for that matter. So I’m going to start saving up now. Maybe I should start a Kickstarter campaign?

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Author Spotlight: N. J. Paige

This week’s featured author is N. J. Paige.

Rise of the Nephilim: Fire and Blood

“Soon they will all be dead. And it will be because I have failed them.”

Before she was Nephilim, a progeny of the Fallen, she was just a girl from Brewster, New York.
A freak of nature.
The strange.
The different.
The other.
But then she received the calling to find her true home and take her rightful place in the subterranean world of Babylon.
There she would learn that she was the last hope for the survival of Humanity. And she would be forced to choose between the world where she found nothing but pain and rejection, and the world where she was accepted and revered.

About the author:

NJ Paige is the author of Rise of The Nephilim.
She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.
And her motto is: Life is but a journey. And must be taken one step at a time.

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My New Year’s Resolutions

Happy 2015!

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business.

I’m back. And I’m ready to rock.

Last year I saw a similar lack of motivation during the season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. It’s a tough time, given the mass commercialism and celebrations going on around us. So I put my work aside, blog included, to be more present with my family and other responsibilities. But in the next week, I’m getting back to work—on my novel and on my life. So today’s post is going to document my New Year’s resolutions.

Resolution #1 – Write two novels

Considering I wrote the entire Fall of Venus trilogy in one year, this is not an impossible feat. But I’ve slacked off quite a bit in the past year and it’s going to take a lot of self-discipline to get myself back on track. Please note that I will write two novels, not necessarily publish them. That’s because I’ve been considering going the traditional route with this series rather than self-publishing. Yes, I feel that confident about it already. Actually, knowing myself I totally lack the patience to go traditional. But either way, I would like to have the second, and possibly third, novels completed before publishing the first. I know my readers would prefer that as well.

Resolution #2 – Write/illustrate at least one children’s book

This has been on my “to-do” list for several years, but I’ve been putting it off for some vague reason. There are several really cool ideas floating around in my mind and I’m bound and determined to get at least one of them down in print.

Resolution #3 – Feed my family a healthy whole foods diet

Yeah, I know. This has absolutely nothing to do with writing, but it needs to be done. When my eldest was born I was a “no-french-fry” mom. Not even a major catastrophic event would make take him near a fast food restaurant or feed him macaroni and cheese. But by the time my second was born, life happened and cooking from scratch was a novelty I could no longer afford due to time constraints. And over the last few years I’ve been reduced to feeding them a crappy standard American diet filled with potato chips, Oreos, and chicken nuggets. No more. I no longer have the excuse of too little time to prepare food. So starting today, I feed my kids real food. They won’t like it. My oldest has already threatened to starve himself. But I have to put their health first.

Resolution #4 – Reduce material possessions

I have too much crap and I need to get rid of it. Having stuff just means more cleaning and organizing—things I don’t have time for if I’m going to focus on writing. But I’m keeping my books. Totally keeping all my books. 😉

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Slow and Steady

Hey! Long time no see . . . er . . . write.

So last month I failed miserably at NaNoWriMo, finishing at only about 15k words. To be honest, I pretty much gave up halfway through the month. I knew way before I began that the chances of me reaching 50k were nil. There was simply too much going on in my life, between a 10-year anniversary weekend getaway to a family Thanksgiving gathering, not to mention my kids having an entire week off school for the holiday. I simply didn’t have the time.

I probably could have gotten more done than I did, but I chose not to push myself. I notice that when I force myself to do anything that I am unmotivated to do, the result is always poor. And this novel is my baby, not a racehorse. I want to nurture it and allow it to grow and flourish. That means taking my time and doing it right. The story is at a down point right now, with more character development than action, so it’s important that I spend more time cultivating my ideas so I don’t resort to the dreaded “info dumps.”

That’s all for now. The holiday week is over and I finally have real time to write, so I will take advantage of it while it lasts!

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Fall of Venus on Kindle Unlimited

Fall of Venus - Daelynn Quinn

I made a difficult decision last night. When I initially published Fall of Venus back in July 2013 I had enrolled it in the Kindle Select program. About a month into that I had regretted that decision, wishing those with other devices such as Nook, could have the opportunity to read it. So when the first three months, the minimum amount of time Kindle Select allows, I took it off Kindle Select and published it on Smashwords, which distributed my book to many different retailers, including Barnes and Noble, Apple, and Scribd. Unfortunately, I wasn’t seeing a lot of downloads on any of those sites. There were a few and they came sporadically. But that’s not good enough for me. I want my book to be read, not just sit on a server gathering virtual dust.

When I published Neverland Academy over a month ago, I decided to take a chance and enroll it in Kindle Select. I did this because I was curious about the Kindle Unlimited program. Well, I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far. I’m in no way hitting bestseller status with it, but there is definitely some consistency when it comes to members downloading the book. As for the monetary return, I have no idea what I’ve earned and, to be honest, I don’t care. I just want to see it being read. So after mulling it over for a couple of weeks, I took Fall of Venus off Smashwords and re-enrolled it in Kindle Select. Apologies to those who do not own a Kindle device, but I hope to get more people reading it through Kindle Unlimited. And if it does not do as well as I hope, well, I can always return it to Smashwords in three months.

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NaNoWriMo Update

This is the temporary cover I whipped up for additional inspiration.

This is the temporary cover I whipped up for additional inspiration.

How’s NaNoWriMo going for everybody?

I’m sure you are all aware, but in the off-chance you don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The general goal of those participating is to write a novel (or 50k words) in the month of November.

I had high ambitions for this month, having started a new novel and series, but I’m moving at a snail’s pace. Well, no, not a snail’s pace. More like a calcium-clogged water faucet, spewing out words here and there, but not up to speed with the rest of the writing world. I’m hanging at about 8,000 words. In my defense, the first three chapters are intense. Like, really intense. I’m so happy with the pace so far, jumping right into the action, but sometimes it drains me and I just need to take a break.

One issue I’ve run into is POV. I had decided to write in first person present, as I did with Fall of Venus, but now I’m thinking about changing to third person limited. The problem is my main character’s viewpoint of the world. In the crazy world I’ve created most humans are born and bred (more like manufactured) in factory farms. Being treated as animals, they are isolated and have no education so, although my main character, #13509 (later named Audrey),  has learned language through listening to the factory workers, she has no concept of things such as trees and sky, much lest cars and household electronics. I wonder if it would be easier to write in third person. But I’m not going to change it just yet. I’m going to continue to write the remainder of the novel in first person, then I’ll decide whether it works or not.

So how is your writing going? What kind of challenges are you facing?

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