This week’s carnival is all about the playlists that make our books. It’s an easy post for me today because I just so happen to have them already lined up! Yeah, baby!! Enjoy, you guys! And let me know what you think of them. What you hate and what you don’t!
Welcome Rachel Coles, everyone! I’ve got today’s leg of her tour and she’s here to talk about her latest, Pazuzu’s Girl!
Thank you so much for having me on your blog today! I’m really excited to be here, and be able to talk about my new novel Pazuzu’s Girl. It was released from Journalstone Publishing on February 10th. A lot of times I know people write what they know, and I had a great time with the YA Indie Carnival’s Interview With A Villain post week. I think most of my favorite characters are the villains, or at least the characters who aren’t snowy pure.
So, I thought I’d talk for a second about how Pazuzu’s Girl evolved. I had never written a novel before, not an original one. I’d written a fan fiction novel of the Babylon 5 universe, my favorite sci-fi show. I mostly only wrote short stories. I never thought I’d have enough to say to fill up a novel. Then I joined the Denver Fiction Writers Critique Group, to learn more about editing. And I got caught up in National Novel Writing Month. It was intense. My favorite thing about NaNoWriMo is the motto ‘permission to suck’. I think that really freed me to barf out whatever was in my head onto the pages and just see where it went. Pazuzu’s Girl started with a couple ideas: the brief amusing thought of how a demon might handle regular people issues like raising a teenager, and that thought came from projecting into the future of what raising our future teenager will be like. Then as I did more research about the Mesopotamian gods, the Sumerian myths like the Enuma Elish and the Gilgamesh epic, the story got more complicated when I thought about how myth transformed in the mix of different cultures.
I didn’t write it in one month as is the goal for National Novel Writing Month, not even close, but I found having a crazy goal like 10,000 words a day really lights a fire under your butt. And so if I had a piece of advice for beginning writers, it’s take advantage of events like National Novel Writing Month, and don’t be afraid to put stuff down on the page, you can fix it later. But you can’t fix a blank page. I guess that makes me more of a ‘pantser’, someone who doesn’t have a complete outline to start with.
So here is an excerpt from Pazuzu’s Girl, I hope you like it!
* * *
Morpho shook out her brilliant blue hair in front of the mirror behind the door of her pink room. She threw on her torn leather jacket over a ruffled pink sock that passed for a mini-dress. She flounced down the stairs, grabbed her Tinker Bell backpack and the peanut butter toast her father’s servant had left, and plopped her skateboard on the tiles of the front porch. One of them dislodged as she jumped the board down the steps.
A loud chatter emerged from the thousands of grasshoppers that hid throughout the partially eaten lawn and manicured bushes. She heard them as though they spoke in English.
I know you’re mad at me, but was that really necessary? Lugal just fixed those. Are you angry with him as well? A couple of grasshoppers fluttered after her and hitched a bumpy ride on the strap of her pack before crawling up to her shoulder.
She rolled her eyes and did a rattling jump just for their benefit. “No, Dad. I’m not mad at him. And not everything I do is just to piss you off.” Her lips set in a grim line and she rode in silence.
The grasshoppers twittered and hung on as she took the curbs as hard as possible. Then to what do we owe your sunny mood?
She glowered. “I’m a freak. We are freaks.” She whirled her finger in a circle to include everyone around her in freak-dom.
You dyed your hair blue. That’s generally not what people do when they are trying to avoid attention, her dad gently reminded her.
“I’m laying my cards on the table. We have to replace the lawn and shrubs every couple days because you eat everything in the yard. And everyone thinks Lugal is your love slave. Our differences aren’t exactly ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’ By the way, we got another fine from the stupid housing association. They’re threatening to send pest control.”The grasshoppers chirped. “I’ll deal with them. And I thought you liked Lugal.”
“I do like him. But you might want to let him know everyone thinks he’s your boyfriend, partner…whatever.” She flipped her board up and stormed into the school hall, late for class, as the grasshoppers flitted away.
* * *
Thousands of grasshoppers emerged from nooks and crannies throughout the denuded sod in front of 248 Rowan Street, Ken Caryl, Colorado. As they flooded into the hallway of the house from the moist April breeze outside, the swarm of glittering wings and golden-brown bodies condensed into the figure of a tall thin man with golden eyes, black hair and slightly canine features around the mouth. Pazuzu, Demon of the Air and the Southwest Wind, stalked into his suburban home to deal with the four-hundredth letter from his homeowner’s association and ruminate on how to handle an angsty teenage daughter.
Lugal, an equally tall, sturdy man with dark features and a hawk’s nose, dropped to his knees and bowed his face to the floor as Pazuzu entered. His palms flattened on the ground in obeisance. His right hand was marred by rough white scar tissue across the palm and wrist. “Lord, what is your will?”
Pazuzu motioned the man to his feet. “I accept your loyalty,” he nodded, “but you have not bowed to me since the first time we met, except when you have done something you knew would displease me. What have you done?” He glowered.
Lugal raised a carefully-groomed eyebrow and his eyelid twitched for a moment. “I have not seen such a look on your face for many years. I thought you might benefit from an old formality.”
Pazuzu’s lips curled up in a smile that looked like a grimace. “Did you see Morpho’s attire? We are supposed to maintain a low profile!”
Lugal’s white teeth flashed and the other eyebrow rose. “Forgive my impudence, Lord, but have you seen some of the other children at the high school? She is fitting in.”
Pazuzu met the dark man’s eyes and they both burst into deep rolling laughter. Pazuzu sank down into the tasteful but nondescript kitchen chair and picked up the HOA letter. He took the content in at a glance and tossed it back on the table. “She told me about this.”
“What will you do?” Lugal brought pungent-smelling cardamom tea to the table.
“I will be the indignant homeowner at one of their silly meetings. They have been fining us since we arrived more than a year ago. It gives them something to do and makes them feel important, happy with their power. Happy neighbors are quiet neighbors.”
“But they have threatened to hire extermination services.” Lugal sipped his tea, watching Pazuzu warily.
Pazuzu leaned forward slightly, and his golden irises lit from within, then faded. “I will dissuade them.”
Lugal was silent for a moment. “Has there been any sign of her? OftheScourge? My spies have detected nothing yet.”
Agitation distorted Pazuzu’s lips into a snarl, making him look more canine than ever. “No. Not aside from the usual events in the news lately. The bombings, the shootings, in many of the nations near the old kingdom, near Uruk. I see nothing direct, only her influence.”
“She is subtle. That is how she gained her power before you left her. What will you do should she find Morpho?”
Pazuzu’s eyes flashed and a rasping breeze lifted in the room. Lugal quietly placed his scarred hand on the napkins to keep them from skittering off the table. Pazuzu’s voice was like the sound of a million furious, buzzing insects as he answered, “I will protect my child.”
* * *
Pazuzu’s Girl is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Journalstone website. It is available in both paperback and e-book. And as a special for Fisher’s site for her awesomeness in hosting me, we’re doing an e-book giveaway today. If you get the book for the giveaway it would be really terrific to hear what you think! Please review it on any of the above sites or Goodreads .
I am a fan of Fisher, and hope to host her soon on my website as well, at www.rachelcoles.wordpress.com to feature her engaging books, The Understorey and her most recent release Callum and Harper! So stay tuned!
Thank you so much for being here, Rachel! Brilliant excerpt!!! Can’t wait to read!
Rachel is also giving away a fabulous copy of Pazuzu’s Girl! First to comment wins a copy!!!!!!!!
Okay, so today’s Indie Carnival is all about kissing and telling. My characters kiss and then I tell you all about it. Well, I’ll let you see for yourself, really. Anyway, this little ditty comes courtesy of a little short story I’m in the middle of working on for an anthology I’m contributing to, put together by The Paranormal Plumes Society. Forgive how rough it is, it’s still a work in progress as I’m trying to juggle Thomas & January and my short story. Hope you guys enjoy!
She watched him disappear into the tree line toward Faroth and couldn’t stop herself from admiring him. Six-foot five, long, lean, muscular. His black hair a product of his human mother, his blue eyes a product of his father. Even as a perian, Pierce was a magnificent representative of the Maethor.
Bein looked down at her own figure. She was ‘fuller’ than most of the other girls and not quite as tall. She was a mere five-foot eleven, the shortest in her province’s training class, her boobs were bigger than her peers, making it hard to fight. She usually had to tape them down for a sparring match. Her hips and buttocks were rounder and curvier than the rest of the girls. Yes, she may have looked the most feminine and some called her the most beautiful of their province but she was not the best warrior because of her hourglass shape and she resented the other girls for that just as they resented her for ‘taking Pierce’, like she had a choice in the matter.
Bein may have constantly been approached by the basketball team at school, asked out on a daily basis, but that meant nothing to her. She was not truly a Maethor if she couldn’t fight like one and it seemed Pierce was constantly holding back. She could tell he found her weak, inferior and that infuriated her, making her hate him even more.
Bolstered by this resentment, Bein marched toward Pierce coming at a stop beside him as she came upon the group surrounding Faroth. He looked down at her blistering expression and rolled his eyes, incensing her further.
“…And I’ve set up a few blinds amongst the trees,” Faroth told the group surrounding him. “You’ll need to jump upwards of one hundred feet to find them though, so let that be a warning to most of you who will be stationed on the ground. You might not be able to smell your potential captors. Alright, any questions?”
When no one responded, Faroth sent them off to find their blinds.
“What were you doing back there?” Pierce asked, taking a sharp left into the Maethor training forest. “You missed Faroth’s instructions. Now I’m going to have to do all the work.”
“Oh, shut up, Pierce. I believe I can guess how this will all go. We sit in our tree blind, our ground peers will attempt to sneak past us, we attack. Simple.”
“Yeah, yeah. We’re blind thirty-two.”
When they found their blind, Pierce took three steps back, ran and jumped the entire distance to their blind, landing softly on the ledge. Bein began to panic, she looked at where Pierce landed and didn’t think she could make it. She took five steps back, breathed deeply, and attempted it but undershot her mark.
“Oh shit!” Bein whispered, as she tried to grapple for the edge of the blind but felt herself free falling backwards instead. Suddenly, she felt large hands encircle her waist. Pierce lifted Bein over the lip of the blind before bringing himself onto the ledge.
“Thank you,” Bein said quietly, her eyes starting to burn from the embarrassment. She felt as inferior as she imagined he thought her.
Pierce didn’t say anything, just sat with his legs hanging over the edge, his hands planted firmly on his knees, panting from the effort and the fear that she almost fell.
“Next time, just tell me you can’t do it,” he said after a moment’s silence.
Bein felt her cheeks heat and the tears begin to fall over. She tried desperately to wipe them away and cease the childish practice but couldn’t stop herself. Before she knew it, she choked back an audible sob. Pierce’s head whipped around quickly at the sound.
“What? What’s wrong?” He said desperately, bringing his body closer to hers. “Are you hurt? Did I- Did I hurt you?” He asked, his hands fluttering over her shoulders and arms, her waist, checking for injuries.
“No, you dope,” she said, wrenching her body from his grasp. “I’m not hurt. Not physically anyway. I’m just embarrassed. Stop fussing, we’re making too much noise. They’ll hear us.”
She swiped her tears dry and wiped her nose with a soft leaf from a nearby branch. Pierce watched her try to compose herself but it wasn’t helping Bein in the slightest.
“Stop,” she said, “you’re making it difficult for me to stop.”
Pierce studied Bein. “Why are you really crying, Bein?”
“I’m embarrassed,” she admitted. She fought to control her shaking voice.
“You embarrass easily, Bein, but that’s not the only reason you’re crying. You forget that I know you…unfortunately.” Bein rolled her eyes. “There’s something else. What’s going on?”
Bein sucked in a breath to choke back a threatening sob. She knew they were being too loud. The others would avoid their blind like the plague and they’d miss any chance at glory and further prove to everyone that she was a worthless warrior but if he wanted the truth she was going to give it to him.
“I’m a terrible Maethor.”
“I’m a terrible Maethor. I can’t jump or see as well as everybody else. I can’t hit a target unless it’s less than five miles away. I suck at sparring.” He shook his head back and forth. “I can tell, you know, that you hold back. If I have a talent, which I doubt I do, it hasn’t surfaced yet like everyone else’s. Maybe all the girls were right, I’m only good for breeding.”
“That’s utter bullshit, Bein. They only say that because they’re jealous of you. There’s something about you, Bein,” Pierce began softly but checked himself, clearing his throat. “And anyway, you’re only eighteen. We’re only Seedlings. You have to give yourself time for your aim and sight and leap to improve. And I haven’t gotten my gift yet either-I know I’m going to get one….I have to,” He whispered. “It’s just not our time yet,” he continued more boldly. “And-and I don’t hold back when I spar with you…”
“Yes, you do, Pierce, I…”
“Shhh,” Pierce said quickly, his head erect in alert. They’re here, he mouthed to her. She nodded slowly, their conversation forgotten. Neither Bein nor Pierce moved an inch, their breathing was so soft and steady, it was nearly undetectable by one another. Suddenly, their targets came within sight. Pierce grabbed Bein’s forearm and steadied them to leap as soon as their prey were within reach. It looked as if two of the teams had joined together. Safety in numbers. It impressed Pierce but they chose incorrectly. He had the advantage of knowing their prey well enough to realize that both he and Bein could take them. He pointed to Gillian and Doron to indicate those were her targets. He wanted Raw and Ernel for himself.
Bein nodded curtly once to let him know she approved of the plan. They only needed the teams to sweep the small clearing and they could make their move. Bein tried not to think how warm and strong Pierce’s hand felt on her forearm. Pierce attempted to ignore how soft and delicate Bein felt under his touch. He experimented touching Bein, couldn’t help himself if he tried, running the pad of his thumb softly underneath her forearm, causing her to suck in a small breath. The two teams’ heads snapped towards their blind, then sped off quickly the other direction.
“I’m sorry,” Bein whispered to Pierce.
“No, I’m sorry,” Pierce whispered back.
They stared at one another just as a warm thread of electricity seemed to slice through them both. Their heartbeats sped so perceptibly to one another it distracted them from their surrounding world. It beat so loudly, so incredibly loudly in each other’s heads it was almost deafening. Both their hands flew to their ears.
“Make it stop!” Bein begged Pierce.
“I can’t!” he gritted. “This can’t be. This wasn’t supposed to happen.”
“Stop talking. The noise!”
“Bein,” he said, grabbing her hands from her ears. “It’s the Binding.”
“No,” she said insisted, fighting the pull between them but she knew it was exactly as he’d said. She also knew the only thing that could heal the pain of a Binding call.
“Come,” Pierce ordered her. He wrapped himself around Bein, coddling her closely to his chest just as Bein gave in to the wretched tormenting call and cried out in agony.
The moment their skin touched, the torture alleviated almost instantly but Bein’s body was still slightly rigid with residual pain. Pierce set her on the deck of the blind and laid beside her, turning her body to face his. He studied her, unsure what to do. He’d talked to his father about what was necessary to alleviate the pain of a Binding call but didn’t know more than that they needed physical contact. Most Betrotheds had already committed the ceremony before the call ever came to them. He felt helpless and scared for Bein, wanted nothing more than to take it all away from her. He still felt the throbbing pain in the base of his neck but it was nothing in comparison to what he could sense Bein was feeling and he could literally sense everything. He began to feel desperate for her.
Searching her face and body, he did the only thing he could think of, he pressed his lips to her neck and throat, feverishly at first, kissing her over and over again, drawing back slightly to see if it was working then diving back in, always starting at the base of her throat and moving to her chin before starting the whole process over.
When Bein’s jaw finally became slack, he slowed his pace. Drawing back her jacket a bit, he lanquidly trailed his mouth from her shoulder to the base of her jaw and back down. Pierce could feel it was working, that the touch was relieving her misery and just as quickly, he was aware of the intimacy of their contact. He swallowed hard and looked at Bein’s closed eyes. They fluttered open.
“Better?” He asked lazily, drunk off their heated exchange.
“Yes, thank you,” she timidly replied. A heated blush painted her neck and face. “I’m so sorry you had to do that.”
Pierce swallowed hard, realizing it was not quite the chore she was implying. The pooled fire in his gut ignited to an uncomfortable level and he found himself desperate to distance himself from her body. He hated how attractive he found her.
He set Bein upright and scooted a few feet back, resting his forearms on his knees, avoiding eye contact. Bein felt abandoned by him but refused to let him see or feel it. She clamped her teeth hard.
“We’re Betrothed,” Pierce said quietly.
“Yes,” Bein said just as quietly, processing the information. “My mother’s premonition was correct.”
Oooh la la! Today’s Indie Carnival is all about the love, baby! So, here’s a little scene from my upcoming book, Thomas & January. It’s a spin off of Callum & Harper and quite…steamy. Enjoy, ladies…and gentlemen. Didn’t think I knew about ya’, did ya’?
We traveled in silence, all the way to our hotel, I still wrapped my arm around her shoulder and she didn’t shrug it off which made me think she just wanted to work through what was going on. I understood it. I was a confusing bastard. One minute, I’m a complete asshole, the next, I’m practically confessing an undying infatuation. Emotional whiplash.
The ride up the elevator stirred the heat I let go dormant at the memory of how her soft flesh felt pressed to mine. I glanced her direction and her eyes were as dark as mine with the same recollection.
“No,” I laughed. “Don’t look at me like that, January. This is hard enough without you looking like a bowl of ice cream.”
“I’ve a spoon, Tom.”
“Shut up. Seriously, I’m not joking. I need to get this off my chest. I need parameters.”
“Parameters? Attraction doesn’t have parameters.”
“No, attraction doesn’t but potential does.”
That shut her right up and I nearly laughed at her wide eyed expression. I let us into the room and we kind of roamed around, pretending to do things, avoiding the inevitable conversation. Finally, I sat on the edge of one of the beds and slid to the carpet below. She followed suit and sat opposite me on the floor, our legs touching. I fiddled with the zipper of my hoodie, afraid to look her way. Jeez, dude, grow a pair and talk to her. You’re acting like a little kid.
“January,” I began, looking directly in her eyes. “I’ve never regretted anything so much as the way I treated you the night we first kissed.” She was smiling at first but sucked in a breath at my proclamation. “I was, is, really, in a strange place. My chest ached perpetually and I unfairly and immaturely took that out on everyone I met, especially you.
“When we met, I was six months into a self-inflicted prison sentence.”
“What happened?” She asked.
I breathed deeply, leaning my head on the side of the bed. “There was a girl. Kelly. She’d been a part of our group for years and years. We were best friends but I never looked at her that way. I mean, sure, she was hot as hell but Kelly wasn’t someone I wanted to touch. She was Kelly. Get me?” I asked her.
She nodded quietly.
“I was in a band and that meant all that it implies. I dated hundreds of girls. Kissed thousands. Did…other things as well.” I ran my hands over my face at the confession. “I’m not proud of who I was. I was young and stupid.” I peered her direction, her face held only anticipation. “Not exactly the best excuse, I know, but I thought I was doing everything right, getting tested regularly, being careful, blah, blah, blah, but a year and a half ago, I couldn’t pretend anymore that it was at all fulfilling.” I ran my hand through my hair, tucking the strands behind my ears. “I was disgusted with myself, to be honest. I’d seen everything that world could offer and I was only twenty-two. Suddenly, it was like a switch flipped and I saw Kelly for the real woman she was and my God was I ever in love with her.”
January’s chest panted, her face flushed and her eyes glassed, making me feel terrible. I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable but she needed to know why I was the way I’d become…I wasn’t finished.
“Wait, January,” I told her, grabbing her hand.
“I’m listening,” she choked.
“But I was too late. She met and became engaged to someone else.”
“Oh dear,” January said, confusing me. I squeezed her hand to let me finish.
“And I hated every fiber of his being. He was wealthy, connected, educated, and, unfortunately, sincerely in love with her in return. It ate at me. At first, I’d indulged in women but that proved useless. My ache only got deeper. I was thoroughly ashamed of myself because I’d began to subtly infiltrate their relationship, demanding she see films and go to restaurants with me. I figured, hell, she wasn’t married yet, she was fair game, but even I knew how wrong that was. It was all under the pretense of friendship. I was being dishonest with her.
“When her fiance` called our little meetings off for us, that’s when I fled to Austin.”
“And that’s where you met me.”
“That’s when I met you.”
“I see now,” she said sadly.
“No, you don’t, January. You really don’t.”
“Tell me then.”
“I just wanted to forget Kelly, wanted her out of my mind and chest and I wanted no one to ever be able to get within five feet of me for reasons I think obvious. Dude, I thought I could never hurt so badly as I did when I realized that I could never have Kelly…but…”
“But?” She asked, unknowingly inching forward.
I spoke quietly, almost too quietly, afraid to admit it out loud. I closed my eyes tightly. “But that hurt was nothing in comparison to how badly I’d begun to feel when a stranger kissed me in a dusty lot just six months ago.”
“Jesus, I’m so sorry, Tom,” she exclaimed, her back falling against the side of her bed.
“What the hell for?”
“I shouldn’t have done what I did,” she said, her eyes glassing over.
“Yes, you should have, January.”
“No, I shouldn’t have.” She dropped her eyes to her lap and I could actually feel the sadness radiate from her.
I sat up on my knees and brought her up with me, bringing her face inches from mine. “Don’t ever say that, January. You revived me. You saved me. You did what I’m convinced no other person could have done and believe me they’d tried. As badly as I hurt for Kelly, it was nothing, nothing in comparison to how I felt when I didn’t do right by that total stranger. January, you eclipse Kelly! I’m ashamed to say it but this friend I was convinced I loved is nothing compared to you. I feel like a fool. I could have sworn when I lost Kelly that I lost my soul mate but I was so wrong. So, so wrong.”
She shook her head. She needed convincing? Fine.
“I didn’t know you from Adam, but God how I dreamt of you night after night after night. You were this ghost I carried along with me everywhere I went, overshadowing the hate I carried for what Kelly didn’t even really do to me. If Jason hadn’t called me to New York, I know I would have come searching you out. I was obsessed with you and I barely knew you.” I searched her face. “Doesn’t that scare you?”
“No,” she said calmly.
“Why the hell not?” I asked, bewildered. “This infatuation I have for you is borderline psychotic, even I recognize that.”
“Because,” she said, swallowing. “Because I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel it too. I feel desperate when it comes to you. Desperate and a little bit insane. All I can think about around you is what you taste like.”
“Don’t tell me things like that,” I begged her. I squeezed my eyes closed and rested my forehead with hers, fighting control with every grit of my teeth.
“Why? It’s only the truth.”
“But you don’t know me.”
“I know enough.”
With each word she’d spoken, the growing, bubbling tension spilled between us. Her eyes blew wide when she realized what was about to happen, how I was about to take out everything I’d ever kept inside for the past year on her small, beautiful face but she didn’t break away. No, she crept ever closer so I slammed my mouth to hers, breathing her in so deeply, I swear I could feel her heart beat on my tongue. My hands held her jaw and as softly as I could manage, I guided her to her feet, never breaking our kiss. I trailed my fingers down her neck, to her back side and lifted her. She wrapped her incredibly long legs around my waist and I fell to the bed behind me.
We sat there, trading sighs, trading wants, trading intentions. It seemed so incredibly inevitable to me then, how our lives were going to be forever entwined. I knew this was the last first kiss I was ever going to have, could feel it in my bones, and it was with January Mac Lochlainn, the most amazing girl I’d ever laid eyes on.
Was I in love with January Mac Lochlainn? No, I couldn’t say I was…but I was going to be. Make no mistake about that.
Thomas Eriksson was the last first kiss I was ever going to have. I don’t know how I knew it but I could feel it in my bones. A delicious symphony resounded through my head, swum down my body and back through, over and over. The soundtrack to what our life was to become played beautifully around us and I wasn’t afraid. And I could tell, neither was he.
We fit so incredibly well together, it was borderline painful.
Our makeout session wound down to a comfortably slow back and forth, our lips achingly raw but neither of us feeling the pain. His light stubble scratched at my chin and I reveled in that feeling. I was kissing a man. The idea made me stupidly giddy inside as if I had any real idea what that really meant. All I knew was I had moved on from a ‘never’ mentality to a very solid ‘please, please, please’ one. I held on to his hoodie tightly between both hands, too frightened to unclench them and draw down his zipper, all his zippers. Do it, January, I ordered myself.
But Tom drew away from me slowly, peppering my neck with soft kisses that made me melt from the inside out. My heart and guts were a soft, liquefied mess and I loved the sensation.
“It’s late,” he whispered hoarsely. The deeper octave sending shivers up my spine.
“So what,” I offered, drawing his lips back to mine.
“Not ‘so what’,” he said, chuckling against my mouth, making me laugh along with him. “Come on, love. Let’s sleep.”
“Sleep?” I asked in disbelief.
“Yes, I must save you from me. Another minute and you’d be in peril, Miss Mac Lochlainn.”
“I like a bit of danger, though,” I said sleepily, as he brought me to his chest.
I felt it shake beneath me. “I imagine you’d be quite the daredevil, actually.”
“I’ve a beautiful cape I could wear,” I teased.
“Shut up,” he snickered. “Sleep, January,” he said, a final kiss at my temple.
And I did, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I could have sworn he’d whispered, ‘You’re too beautiful to sully’.
At the time, twenty-one year old Fisher Amelie was but a mere bank teller for Wells Fargo Bank, though a veteran at that. Settled inside a local grocery store in Arlington, Texas, she was one of five college attendees, working toward their degree. Her branch was known as ‘The Barbie Branch’. Five nineteen to twenty-two year olds, all thin, all beautiful, all goofy as hell. These girls would do outrageous things and handle outrageous customers day to day but at the end of those days, they were but normal girls looking to date nice boys and build nice lives.
Tom Thumb, an upscale market that catered to a wealthier crowd, would have given anyone the impression that these young, beautiful girls would have the pick of the litter, so to speak, and, for the most part, this was true but these girls were deeper than most incorrectly assumed. And as each one fell into a genuine love, a year would pass and each would begin an engagement, trudging toward a path of families and homes. All except one.
Yes, she was a bit rougher around the edges than her Barbie-esque counterparts. She didn’t sport the blonde hair that most of her colleagues did, save for Sheria, the funniest, most beautiful African-American woman to grace her presence but that was okay. She fit in with everyone despite her Led Zepplin tees and black bracelets, her torn jeans, and scuffed Converse. She was Fisher Amelie, friend extraordinaire but also the girl who pined away for ‘Shaggy’.
The girls would tease and joke with Fisher about the stock boy who not only looked like Shaggy from Scooby Doo but walked like him as well, his arms swinging droopily with each hurried step he took. “Here comes Shaggy, Velma,” they’d josh, prodding her in the ribs. Fisher would go red in the face every single time he walked by with a two fingered salute toward the ladies she shared a teller line with but he seemed unaffected by her, too busy with his job to bother getting to know any of the girls better. To him, she assumed, they were but ‘the wave by’ sort, making her stomach drop at the mere thought.
As you can probably guess, working in a grocery store, the girls would take turns day to day getting amazing snacks to share across the teller lines. They were teenagers. They could eat cupcakes by the dozen and it wouldn’t even make a dent. Jerks.
One day, after months of ‘waves’ and a stinging face, Fisher headed toward Dairy. It was Yoplait Whips day and Fisher was the retriever. So, she grabbed her debit card and made way to the yogurt aisle.
But no! It can’t be! He’s there! Just there! Stocking the very yogurt she was assigned to purchase. Score! She thought.
Fisher stood a bit taller than her usual five foot eight. She straightened out her black skirt, combed her fingers through her black hair, and patted everything that had a possibility of being out of place back into it. She was ready.
“Hi,” she said cheerfully as she made her way to a stocking Shaggy. She smiled at him as she approached the section but he didn’t respond, just stared at his hands as they lifted tiny yogurt containers and placed them on shelves. She lingered by him a moment. He’ll look, she thought. Any second now, he’ll acknowledge her. He’ll look up in just a moment. But nothin’ doin’. Fisher felt a sting of hurt drop to her stomach. Rejected.
Surely, he’d heard her. There was no way he couldn’t have. He was choosing to ignore her! Fine, she thought. What a jerk! Fisher snatched her yogurts and made way for the check out lines. Mortified and too embarrassed to tell her girlfriends and teller-mates, Fisher pretended nothing happened. Weeks, months, passed and she was resigned in forgetting him. She needed to stop obsessing about the boy who couldn’t even bother saying hello. She knew he wasn’t mute, she’d seen him talking to a few of his own colleagues, that idiot.
On Friday and Saturday nights, as musician or aficionado, Fisher either played with the bands in Dallas’ Deep Ellum or listened to their shows. She lived and breathed local music.
Never in the practice of walking alone in a sketchy part of Dallas, if Fisher wasn’t riding with friends, she would ring a pal and they would meet her and walk her to whatever club she planned to attend. But one particular weekend, her cell phone had died and she was forced to walk from her parking spot alone without a friend to escort her. She’d decided that since it was the weekend of the biggest Dallas music festival that year, coupled with the sheer number of police presence, she’d be okay. She just had to get to the club. She’d also heard somewhere that when you walked with purpose, people tended to leave you be so that’s exactly what she did. She walked with naive fury to The Curtain Club and refused to stop for anyone.
“Hey!” He said but she didn’t hear. She was focused. “Hey!!” He said, louder, chasing after her a bit but Fisher only walked faster.
Doesn’t she know it’s dangerous to walk by yourself in this part of Deep Ellum? Shaggy thought, as he watched her make a beeline for Curtain. Don’t I know her? She looks so familiar.
Fisher made it to Curtain, met her girlfriends and walked over to the parking lot of Blind Lemon, where the festival’s main stage just happened to be.
“Hey,” she heard behind her. “Hey,” a guy said again, demanding her attention. She whipped her head around and saw the unmistakable form of Shaggy the Stocker. Tall, long, lean. Hello, jerk, she thought.
“Hey, I know you, right? You work at Wells Fargo?”
“Yeah, that’s me,” she said, barely struggling with the smile she was forcing.
“I work there, at Tom Thumb.”
“Yeah, I’ve seen you around,” she confessed.
“I saw you walking alone earlier. I tried to get your attention but you didn’t hear me, I guess. It’s dangerous out here, ya know.”
“Yeah, my phone is dead. Usually Brian would come get me.” Like he knew who Brian was.
“That’s cool,” he admitted. “Who are you here to see?”
“I’m here for The Feds. I used to date the bassist.”
“Oh, that’s cool. That’s my brother’s band on stage, the drummer,” he said, pointing toward what was now blindingly obvious was his brother. He opened his mouth, ready to ask her something but someone grabbed his shoulder. There was a guy, standing beside him, seemingly seven foot tall and uninterested in bothering with her. “Oh, this is my friend Nick,” Shaggy offered.
“You ready to go?” Nick asked, barely noticing her.
“Yeah,” Shaggy answered. “See you around?” He asked her.
“Sure,” she said, not being in the least bit honest.
“I’d offer my cell but since yours is dead…Anyway, if you need someone to walk you to your car, I’ll just be at Trees,” he said, pointing across the street. “Come find me.”
“Okay,” she said to appease him but she had no intention of doing so.
She wanted nothing to do with him. Yet something about him struck her as kind and down to earth. She didn’t want to think of him that way. She wanted to hold on to the fact that he snubbed her. She didn’t want to think that she might have been, probably was, a tad bit oversensitive and perhaps he hadn’t heard her after all in Dairy, just as she hadn’t heard him earlier that night.
Fisher didn’t think about him again…at all…that weekend. She didn’t obsess over his gentlemanly offer or the fact that he seemed too laid back to have truly snubbed her. In fact, she didn’t think about him that following Monday either when she discovered he wasn’t at work. Or that Tuesday, when he was missing as well.
But come Wednesday, she was done attempting to convince herself that she wasn’t thinking about him. She embraced her newly found obsession and handed over control to her heart. That’s the day he showed up with his two-finger salute. He was going to talk to her today, she just knew it. Two hours had passed, three, four, five and she was approaching the end of her shift yet he still hadn’t come over to say hi.
“Oh well,” she thought. “Time to come to terms with it.”
That weekend, she met her friends again in Deep Ellum, saw a few amazing bands and wouldn’t admit to anyone just how much she was shocked to see Shaggy in the streets yet again.
“Fancy meetin’ you here,” he joked.
“Hello,” she offered, her heart beating wildly in her chest. Traitorous heart.
“What are you doing right now?” He asked her.
“I’m going to Franzini’s with my friend Karen and a few others.” (Hilarious story but for another day)
“Oh, that’s cool. Well, if you want, we’ll all be at the Velvet Hookah, if you want to join us later.”
“Uh,” she said, taken aback, “That’s cool, maybe next time?”
“Yeah, see you around,” he said, squeezing her shoulder, sending an unbelievable warmth cascading down her arm.
And it was like that every time she ran in to him, he was always busy, always surrounded by friends, and always inviting her to tag along. She refused him repeatedly, got over her crush (kind of) and moved on (sort of).
Until one day…
“Fisher! Come with me! What are you doing right now?”
“I’m off to Trees.”
“No, you’re not! You’re coming with me. You always blow me off,” he joked. “It’s time you saw my brother’s band again, really see them.”
So she caved and joined him at The Curtain Club to see his brother play.
There, he introduced her to a girl with a tattooed chest plate that would rival Kat Von D and the girl made no effort to conceal how much she liked him but, surprisingly, he brushed her off like he’d done so many others so many times before. The next night, on the way to Blind Lemon, a girl jumped into his arms in greeting, sending Fisher walking toward their club without him. He said nothing of it.
That’s when she realized, she was Shaggy’s friend. Just his friend.
And that seemed to be okay with her. She was seemingly over her crush. She was Shaggy’s friend. Yeah, she was okay with that.
At the movies, there was no hand holding, no touching, just hilarious conversation. When he introduced her to his mom, it was ‘Mom, this is my friend Fisher’ and when she met his friends, the same, ‘Guys, meet Fisher’.
The Friday Night
Things were no different. Fisher and Shaggy would retreat to his room, his door left open because she wasn’t that kind of girl, *wink, wink*, something was blasting on the stereo, probably Staind, because their musical taste seemed lacking in retrospect, and they began their millionth conversation since their friendship began, one that would keep any one in stitches.
They were lounging on the floor, Fisher on her back, her ankle on her knee, twisting her hair in circles and Shaggy, flipping through one of his school books, complaining about one of his professors. It was business as usual in Shaggy’s room and Fisher was comfortable with where things were at…maybe, sort of, not really.
Fisher opened her mouth to offer Shaggy some sort of encouraging support regarding said professor or perhaps she had a question. She doesn’t remember but she does remember being forced to stop mid-sentence…when Shaggy’s lips met hers.
Surprised, she sat up and pushed Shaggy off. “What are you doing!” She asked, shocked.
“Kissing you?” He said, shrugging his shoulders, his face painted the brightest red. His hands sat beside him, unsure what to do.
“But I thought – I thought we were friends!” She stupidly blurted. Her heart pounded. Her mouth, dry.
“We are,” he offered coolly. avoiding eye contact. His fingers threaded the carpet beneath him. “But I’ve wanted more.” He told her, meeting her eyes again. “Since I first laid eyes on you, months ago.”
This couldn’t be, she thought. After all the heart ache, all this obsessing over whether or not he was into her, then deciding he wasn’t, then accepting his friendship. After all the confusing, let’s hang out but I won’t give you a clue as to how I really feel. After wanting so badly for this very moment…she was botching it up!!!!!!!
Everything she’d locked up those last few months came spilling out at her feet. All her true feelings came back in a rush. She grabbed his face and finished what he’d started.
She was in love with Shaggy and he was in love with her.
Later, Shaggy would tell her that he’d been biding his time. That he wanted her so badly he wasn’t willing to mess it up by moving too fast. He told her he thought her the most beautiful girl he’d ever met….that she still was.
Nine years later. A ring. A house. A dog. A fish…And one very, very beautiful little boy later. She sits here. Telling you a very small tip of her wonderful story.
To Shaggy. My hand fits perfectly in yours…because God put it there.
we’ve got time left to be lazy
All the kids have bloomed from babies into flowers in our eyes.
We’ve got 50 good years left to spend out in the garden
I don’t care to beg your pardon,
We should live until we die.
We were barely 18 when we’d crossed collective hearts.
It was cold, but it got warm when you’d barely crossed my eye.
and then you turned, put out your hand,
and you asked me to dance.
I knew nothing of romance, but it was love at second sight.
I swear when I grow up, I won’t just buy you a rose.
I will buy the flower shop, and you will never be lonely.
Even if the sun stops waking up over the fields
I will not leave, I will not leave ’til it’s our time.
So just take my hand, you know that I will never leave your side.
It was the winter of ’86, and all the fields had frozen over.
So we moved to Arizona to save our only son
and now he’s turning to a man, although he thinks just like his mother,
he believes we’re all just lovers he sees hope in everyone.
And even though she moved away,
we always get calls from our daughter.
She has eyes just like her father’s
they are blue when skies are grey.
And just like him, she never stops,
Never takes the day for granted,
works for everything that’s handed to her,
Never once complains.
You think that I nearly lost you
When the doctors tried to take you away.
But like the night you took my hand beside the fire
30 years ago to this day
You swore you’d be here ’til we decide that it’s our time
Well it’s not time, you’ve never quit in all your life.
So just take my hand, you know that I’ll never leave your side.
You’re the love of my life, you know that I’ll never leave your side.
You come home from work and you kiss me on the eye
You curse the dogs and say that I should never feed them what is ours
So we move out to the garden, look at everything we’ve grown
and the kids are coming home
I’ll set the table
You can make the fire.
So many first kisses…so little time. Visit these wonderful Plumes and hear their lovely stories.
Okay, so let’s just get this out right off the bat. I LOVE TRAILERS. Love them. Love. Not sure if it’s the unexplored filmmaker in me or what. I just can’t get enough of them. BUT! The question is: To trailer or not to trailer?
Alright, so, what’s the answer. I only wish it were that simple. In my opinion, trailers don’t sell books. They just don’t but if you looked at it from a purely sales point of view, than this post would stop right here because it would be pointless to continue. But let’s explore what trailers can offer.
An author is more than their work. I know that sounds ludicrous but their words are only ninety-five percent of who they really are. That trailing five percent can be distributed throughout their social networks, blogs, images and all around persona. We have to think of ourselves as a product…meaning, we have to market ourselves as if we were tangible. From tag lines, to personality, to websites, to…trailers, the idea of who we are as authors are represented by not only personal appearances but also our online presence.
Which brings me to my next point. As an author, I feel trailers are extremely important for my readers’ all around reading experience. Nowadays, kids need digital interaction. It’s why all my books have playlists, why all my books have trailers, and why you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads with a click of a button. They eat the stuff up. (I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I do as well.) Reading isn’t just about the words anymore for the youth, it’s about the experience.
From a marketing aspect, trailers are like little digital promos that help lift your books to the next level. People are going to remember you better when you add a killer cover, killer online persona, and killer trailer to your killer book. It’s a volatile mix and sets you apart from your competitors.
Right now, my current trailer for my recently released book, Callum & Harper, is in production. It’s a huge production, actually. More than I think is necessary but I know some people who know some people, etc. and it just happened to work out in my favor. I’ll post a link to my director’s stuff in a moment to let you in on the sheer talent behind this thing but what I really want to point out is that huge productions are totally and utterly unnecessary.
In fact, I think simplicity is best. Not everyone knows directors of award winning short films and not everyone has an eye for video production (Save for Abbi Glines. Tee hee.) Actually, I think it’s pretty rare to see a well done author trailer. I can’t lie. I’ve seen some pretty bad trailers…even by huge name authors. That’s why, when authors don’t have a lot of money for a trailer budget, they should spend it on just two things. Professional music and videos from stock sites. My trailer for The Understorey above cost me approximately fifty bucks but I own the rights to use the video and song and I will never be sought after for copyright infringement. (Piracy sucks, people. Sucks. Authors know a bit about this.) Plus, the songs and the videos are PROFESSIONALLY DONE.
There’s no reason to whip out the video camera and shakily record the neighbor boy and neighbor girl as they walk down the street holding hands. Unless you have a great camera, don’t bother because it’ll just look like you made it at home…and ya’ did! Plus, it’s more work! We don’t make money off our trailers so we might as well make it easy on ourselves, right? Right.
So! To trailer or not to trailer? My answer is: Trailer! With a few stipulations.
p.s. Here’s one of the amazing videos my director did recently.