May is Short Story Month #FreeBook

May marks Short Story Month.

I had heard this for the past few years but didn’t know where it started. I mean there is a day or month out there for everything – Donut Day, Naked Gardening Day, Breast Cancer Awareness month, Autism Awareness month and so on.

According to Poets & Writers webpage, The Emerging Writers Network kicked off the Short Story month in 2007.

They felt we should showcase short stories – as in stories that could be read in one sitting. Now there isn’t an official number of words that constitutes a short story but the general consensus online is that a short story is between 1000 and 7,500 words.

Hmmm….this means the “short” story I published in 2012 is not really a short story by this definition. I wrote The Search as a prequel to my fantasy trilogy The Elemental. It is 12,200 words. According to the internet, my story is a novelette which is between 7,500 to 20,000 words. (To find out more about the length difference in a short story, a novella and a novel, click here.)

Of course, I have found sites out there that list a short story as anything between 1,000 and 20,000 words. So I guess I will go with this definition because when you compare The Search to my novels which are 81,000+ words, 12,000 is definitely short in my book. It is after all 15% of the length of a full length novel.

In honor of Short Story Month, let me share with you an excerpt of my “short” story The Search.

You can get The Search for FREE from Barnes & Noble, the Kobo StoreiTunes or Smashwords where it is available in all e-book formats.

You can also purchase it for 99 cents on Amazon.

Book Description

For over a thousand years, telepathic cats known as STACs have faithfully searched for those with power over the elements looking for the one foretold to save the Land. None have questioned their duty to fulfill this ancient task.

But when Tosh’s latest charge is murdered because of his Elemental powers, Tosh considers abandoning The Search. Will a glimpse of the future destruction be enough to change his mind?

Excerpt 

The horse’s hooves thundered across the ground. Tosh dug his claws into the saddle as his back legs threatened to slip off. A firm hand pressed against his side, pulling him closer toward the young man behind him. Feeling safer, Tosh leaned out to see the terrain up ahead. He blinked his eyes in disbelief at what he saw.

You can’t be serious.

“We can make it,” Nolan said, speaking directly into his mind.

Tosh looked up at him, but Nolan wasn’t looking at the ravine. He was looking over his shoulder at the three men on horseback chasing them. Tosh caught a glimpse of a hefty man with a red beard leaning forward, urging his mount to run faster. He clearly was gaining on them. Tosh looked at the ravine before them.

It is too far for her to jump.

“Ah come on, Tosh. She’ll do just fine.”

Tosh sighed. Nolan rarely listened to any advice he gave him unless it coincided with something that Nolan already wanted to do. Knowing there was no way and no time to change the young man’s mind, Tosh curled up against him. He dug his claws deeper into the saddle and wrapped his tail protectively around his body. He felt Nolan lean forward as the mare’s hooves left the ground. He closed his eyes, counting the seconds until he felt the mare land on the other side. She stumbled slightly, and Tosh opened his eyes to see a small section of ground at the ravine’s edge fall.

Nolan reined in the mare and turned to look back at the ravine and the approaching men. Tosh glanced up and saw the look of concentration on his face. Suddenly, the ground shook. The edge of the ravine crumbled. Rocks and dirt fell until the gorge was three feet wider than it had been moments earlier. The men pursuing them pulled their mounts to a halt at the edge of the gorge.

“You won’t get away from us,” the redhead yelled.

Nolan raised his hand and waved before urging the mare toward the forest. Tosh glanced back to see the men swearing as they eyed the ravine which now was clearly too wide for them to jump. As they entered the forest, Nolan slowed the mare to a walk.

“That was amazing,” he said with a chuckle.

You’re lucky the mare made it.

“Oh, Tosh, you worry too much,” he said ruffling Tosh’s fur.

Tosh turned to glare at him and then proceeded to lick the fur back into the correct direction. We wouldn’t have had to find out if she could make it if you just learn to control your temper.  

Tosh didn’t really expect Nolan ever to learn to do that. He had been trying to drill that lesson into him since he was a headstrong teenager but to no avail.

“I know. I know. And stop using my Elemental power in front of others,” Nolan said with a sigh. “Why shouldn’t I use it?”

I have never said you shouldn’t use it. You just need to decide when it is wise to do so.

“So using it to defend myself isn’t wise?”

Defending yourself is one thing. Picking fights is another. Tosh sighed. I guess this means we are moving again.

“But first we have to go pick up our belongings.”

They circled back toward the town. When they entered it an hour later, Tosh kept an eye out for the men, but the streets were nearly empty. No one paid them any attention as Nolan stopped before the boarding house where they had been staying. Tosh remained on the mare as Nolan ran upstairs to gather their things. Within minutes, the young man had returned, and they were on their way out of town.

The Busy Month of May

Seventeen school days left….I know kids and teachers are counting down the days. And I am sure there are some parents eagerly waiting for those carefree summer days.

I, on the other hand, usually end up dreading May as it just feels like there is so much going on – picnics, parties, breakfasts, birthdays, tournaments and who knows what else.

School

As the school year wraps up, the kids’ activities seem to increase. First off we have state-mandated testing. This is Lexie’s first year taking the test so she will be a little nervous.

Later in the month there will be a class picnic for Lexie. Since Jase is in fifth grade, he won’t get a picnic. Instead they have a pool party to celebrate him “graduating” from elementary school. And silly me, I volunteered to be in charge of the pool party so I am crazy busy throwing a party for 125 kids and their parents.

Last year in May Jase had a school field trip to Austin (an all-day endeavor that ended at 5 p.m.). It ended up being on his birthday. This year the field trips were in April but again on his birthday he will be taking a short trip over to the middle school to tour his soon-to-be new school.

Jase has one last big project. Fifth graders participate in a living theatre where the students research famous people and then become them in a sort of interactive exhibit. This of course means Jase needs to have a costume so he can become F. Scott Fitzgerald for the morning.

Extracurricular Activities

May also means the wrap of Jase’s soccer season. I don’t know if they have any end of the season events planned but sometimes there is a meal out where they get their medals.

On the last day of soccer, Jase also has a karate tournament. This is a requirement for his next belt test which also is at the end of the month. He is testing for his second-degree red belt which includes an essay and a kata (a series of moves that he has to create).

PTA

May brings the transition month for the PTA. We host our end of the year breakfast where current board members hand over their binders to the incoming board. It is usually a nice meal where we take time to appreciate each other’s hard work. As first VP, I set up the breakfast for the elementary PTA.

This year, I will have two of these meetings. Next school year I will be on the PTA board for the middle school so I will have their breakfast to go too.

On both PTAs, I will be an officer next year so each PTA will have an officer planning meeting this month.

Home

This month, Jase turns 12. We will celebrate at home with family on Mother’s Day (so really a joint celebration). And then Jase will celebrate with a few friends the following Sunday. Yes, it is low key but still takes some planning.

We are also going to the Alamo City Comic Con over Memorial Day weekend. Usually this event has been held in the fall but for some reason it got moved up to May this year. We need to finish our costumes. There are only two more weekends to go so we better get working.

Whew! I am exhausted just typing all this. With so much going on, I am sure this month is just going to fly by.

Today’s Featured Author – L.A. Lewis

Today, I welcome author L.A. Lewis to my blog. Her book, Double Down and Dirty, was released in October 2016. Check out an excerpt after the interview. You can purchase Double Down and Dirty on Amazon.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is L.A. Lewis. I’m a mother of two children and the wife on a very supportive husband. I’m also the proud author of three novels, two inspirational books, one daily devotional, and contributing author to three very successful anthologies. I’m also a new blogger and I’m currently working on a Youtube series based off of my blog series titled “Secrets From the Bayou.” I have a crazy life, but I’m enjoying every moment of it.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana, but I now call Baton Rouge home.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

My dream is to one day write full time, but my life’s not set up that way right now. I’m an Instructional Specialist at a local elementary school. Finding time to write is a big challenge because both of my children are very active in sports, so time is something I don’t have a lot of at the moment. I use what’s available. Sometimes I type on my iPhone while waiting on one of my children to finish practice, other times I’ll stay up late, not a morning person so rising early isn’t an option.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

The best advice I received was to read as much as I write. The worse advice I received came from a NYT bestselling author who let me know her advice isn’t free. She offered nothing.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

Life is my biggest fuel. Writing is an escape for me. Sometimes real life can become a bit too much, and I need an outlet, something I can somewhat control, I say somewhat because the characters are really in control.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

I get ideas from everywhere. Normally, it’s from a conversation or a real-life experience. I also get ideas from reading other books. Not that I’m stealing, but sometimes something will happen that will spark a “what if” in my mind.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I just start writing. For me, outlining stifles my creativity. I start typing and allow the characters to take over from there. I type as they speak.

Please tell us about your current release.

My current release is titled “Double Down and Dirty.” It explores the life of Jade Bordeaux who escaped her Southern Baptist family and moved to New York. Jade knew her family would never respect the choices she made or the secret she kept. The Big Apple and her new modeling career proved to be more adventurous than her life in Baton Rouge. Excitement flowed through everything ,especially in the form of handsome CEO Sean Wright. Dating him takes an unfortunate turn when his sister’s dance to the rhythm of revenge becomes a tune she’s hell-bent on sharing with her family and the people they love.

In a matter of weeks, Jade’s life takes an uncertain and dangerous turn. Nothing prepared her for the call which stirs emotions Jade thought she’d buried. The former Governor of Louisiana has denied her existence since birth and now makes a life-altering request that fills Jade with resentment. Jade built her success and happiness by making hard choices, even ones that cause heartbreak. Unfortunately, she never imagined that any of those choices could lead to the death of someone she loves.

Jade soon learns in the game of life, sometimes playing Double Down and Dirty is the only way to win.

What inspired you to write this book?

When I first started, this was not the story I intended to write. I was writing a story about two sisters, one moved to New York and the other one stayed in Baton Rouge. I was telling their story, but then I realized that storyline has been written to death, so I needed to come up with something different. I kept Jade, and started thinking of why she moved to New York and what’s her life like. The more I started thinking, the more the ideas started flowing.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I did a ton of research for this book. I’ve never been to New York so I had to talk with Facebook friends who live in New York and watch a bunch of Youtube videos. I also stayed on Mapquest to make sure my distance from one place to the other was accurate. Writing this book was much harder than the others that’s based here in Baton Rouge.

Which of your characters is your favorite?

Do you dislike any of them? Jade is my favorite character. I love that she’s feisty and determined. She fears nothing and goes after what she wants no matter what.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

I would definitely be Jade Bordeaux. Jade’s fearless, she’s determined, she says whatever’s on her mind. She’s the opposite of me in terms of speaking up for herself.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

I like to write with my laptop in my bed.

Excerpt

An electric kind of energy flashed throughout her body. That was certainly a concern.  She had learned when and how to play it safe.  And Sean was as dangerous as they came. Having been an employee of an upscale escort service, she knew the hard fact that those at the top of the food chain were equally as slimy as those who were willing to do whatever it took to get there.

Jade had shielded herself from unwanted advances—of which there were many.  But years of going without a human touch had built up something inside of her that needed to be extinguished. A man like Sean Wright would be a perfect choice, but there was no way she would go there. Being with a man like him came with too many problems.

She steadied her breathing and her voice. “Go ahead.”

“You care to tell me the real reason you don’t want to work with me?”

“Is that why we’re here?” Jade questioned, trying to keep her voice level. “I hope not because my time is valuable, and I don’t need to waste it by entertaining that question.”

“I believe in making the most of an opportunity. If I have a question, I ask. So, do you plan on providing an answer or should I just assume that you don’t have a reason at all?”

Her eyes met his. “I didn’t make it clear the first, second, and third time?”

“You don’t feel it’s the right job for you,” he smirked. “But we both know that’s not it at all.”

“Okay, then I’ll be honest,” she shot back. “I don’t like the way you do business. I don’t like that money means more to you than people. You’re not the type of person I’m interested in dealing with. Does the truth satisfy you?”

Sean was silent for a few spells, then, “And you came to this conclusion based on what? Because if I recall, you’ve never done business with me.” He closed the distance between them. “So cut the bullshit and tell me what is it about me that frightens you so much,” he snapped.

“Nothing frightens me,” she countered. “But I am wise, and wisdom tells me to steer clear of you.” She stepped back and didn’t realize how close she was to the wall.

“So that’s it.” He inched closer. “You’re not afraid of doing business with me. What scares you is the fact that we’re very much alike. Isn’t that right? We both know what we want and would risk it all to make it happen. What frightens you the most,” his mouth nearly touched hers, “is knowing what will happen if you let your guard down.” His lips lightly brushed against hers and she trembled with an anticipation so strong she almost reached up and pulled him to her.

Then he abruptly moved away, walked toward the circular staircase, but tossed over his shoulder, “I believe you said there was more for me to see.”

Author Bio 

L.A. Lewis, a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is the author of Dirty Little Secrets, Dirty Little Secrets II: Expect the Unexpected, and Double Down and Dirty. She’s a contributing author to Motherhood Diaries, a literary award-winning anthology. L.A. Lewis is a member of M-LAS, Macro Literary All-Stars, a writing support group formed by National Bestselling Author, Naleighna Kai. Together they’ve published a reference book for authors and aspiring authors titled, Baring it All: The Ins and Outs of Publishing.

You can find out more about L.A. on her website or her blog. You can purchase Double Down and Dirty on Amazon.

#AtoZChallenge Recap

In April, I participated in the A to Z challenge where each day (except Sundays) you post on a new topic following the letters of the alphabet. So April 1 was A, April 3 was B and so on.

This was my fourth year doing the challenge. The organizers of the challenge suggest you pick a theme for your writing. The first year I didn’t do a theme. The next year it was TV shows and then last year I did characters. This year I decided to write about antagonists.

Now I typically have certain days that I already have topics to write about so I decided to incorporate the theme of antagonists on those days too. So here was my posting schedule.

Monday – Parenting (with an antagonist twist – topics included bad boys, high school and the word NO)

Tuesday – Antagonist

Wednesday – Quote by an antagonist

Thursday – Writing (about antagonists – topics included evil, killers, witches and questions to ask your antagonist)

Friday – Antagonist AND my scheduled Featured Author (Any authors interested in being on my Friday Feature, contact me through the About Me section.)

Saturday – Antagonist

I know many people on the challenge write their posts throughout the month or even the day they are to post. But I picked my topic and planned out my posts beginning in February. I had them all done by the end of March. It was nice not to have to write any blogs in April, which is a very busy month for me.  If I left my writing to the day of (or day before), I would probably have ended by the letter F like many of the others who signed up to participate.

Part of the challenge is also to visit other blogs. You never know when you will find a new favorite blogger. In past years, I have done better at this but this really has been a busy month. I did make it to some blogs and even some that were very interesting.

As always, I enjoyed the challenge and look forward to doing it again next year.

For any of you who have missed out on my blogs from the A to Z challenge, here is a recap of what I covered.

A is for Apocalypse

B is for Bad Boys (parenting)

C is for Cruella de Vil

D is for Darth Vader (Quote)

D is for To Die for Cake (Recipe)

E is for Evil (Writing)

F is for Freddy Kruger

G is for Gollum

H is for High School (parenting)

I is for Iron Monger

J is for Jafar (Quote)

K is for Killers (Writing)

L is for Loki

M is for Maleficent

N is for No (parenting)

O is for Oggie Boogie

P is for Professor Moriarty (Quote)

Q is for Questions (Writing)

R is for the Riddler

S is for Sauron 

T is for Technology (parenting)

U is for Ursula

V is for Voldemort (Quote)

W is for Witches (writing)

X is for Xenomorph

Y is for Yondu

Z is for Zoom

Recipe of the Month – Peas, Onions and Mushrooms

Growing up, this was one of my favorite side dishes. Now that I have my own family, I am sad to say they don’t care for peas so I serve this at holiday dinners or make a smaller batch just for me. It also is sometimes referred to as “Company Peas.” The good thing about this recipe is you can easily adjust the ingredient amounts to your personal tastes.

Ingredients

2 T. butter

1 cup minced onions

1 8-oz. package of mushrooms, sliced

1 16-oz package of frozen peas

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

Directions

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasinally for 4 minutes. Stir in peas and cook until peas are tender (about 8 minutes). Stir in salt and pepper and serve. You can also add a dash of thyme.

Serves 6 to 8