Someone Like Bill

Critique. It’s not everyone’s favorite thing, right? But as a writer, critique groups are necessary for me, a good hurt. Of course, not every circle of writers is a good mix or a constructive influence. I don’t know the secret formula for finding the perfect critique group. Somehow I’ve been super lucky. I attend three amazing groups that suit my location, my genres, my commitment, and my skill level. They accept my writing for what it is, yet challenge me to do better without insulting my ineptitude. Sure, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. Critique hurts sometimes, no matter what. And we still debate the common trivialities: the Oxford comma, clichés, and the ever-popular-bad-apple, adverbs.

Today a writer in my critique group lost his battle with cancer.

William Barnes wrote historical fiction. His latest work-in-progress dealt with the sordid history of the Texas Rangers. Before I continue, I must confess—I’m a Yankee. When we arrived at the “Western Expansion” portion of our U.S. History books in high school, our teacher skipped it, claiming this part of U.S. history wasn’t important, as it contained dubious facts and silly folktales. In contrast, my children took two Texas history classes before graduating from elementary school, which I considered suspiciously xenophobic. Bill read his work-in-progress at critique group and shot bullets through my prejudice. In his native Texan drawl, he read his excerpt aloud, a complex tale with Rangers hunting down Mexican-heritage citizens while those in Congress debated boundaries and laws. Conflict, complexity, humor, and action surrounded the historical facts of his story and I was surprisingly intrigued. Funny how a brilliantly scripted “silly folktale” can change minds, huh?   

But I gained more than a new respect for Texas history from Bill. That same night, I shared my piece with the group, a flash fiction horror story. Bill liked it so much he emailed me later and volunteered to beta-read anything I had. I sent him a YA fantasy short story. He sincerely loved it and detailed the reasons. When I lack confidence in my writing abilities, it helps to recall Bill’s words. A Texas grandfather and longtime-writer of historical fiction went out of his way to encourage me, a YA speculative fiction writer.

Though cancer stole Bill from the world, his encouraging words live on. They lend me confidence on days of doubt. Before he passed, I had the precious opportunity to thank Bill for his encouragement. I imagine him riding into heaven on a wild mustang.

Critique is important. Facing tough criticism molds us into better writers. But there’s a flip side. Encouragement also makes us better. If there’s someone like Bill in your critique group, thank them today.

 


It is all for the bright!

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People For Lunch


  Alyssa doesn’t eat lunch.  Instead, she uses the time to show off her latest shopping spree finds or text voraciously.  One text by Alyssa could ruin you socially for the rest of your high school career—and maybe your life.  You could say Alyssa ate people for lunch.

On The Outward Appearance by D. Marie Prokop

 


It is all for the bright!

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Work-In-Progress: The Good Shepherd

When Leona lifted her face to thank him, she couldn’t speak. She froze all over again as soon as she viewed his icy blue eyes. For years, eyes like Luke’s appeared in her dreams. She obsessed over them, though not in a romantic sense. It was an obsession much less pleasant.

-The Good Shepherd, future YA speculative fiction novel by D. Marie Prokop

Stay tuned. Leona’s story is coming…


It is all for the bright!

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The Good Shepherd- Nanowrimo 2016

“Thank you for letting me borrow this beautiful bonnet, Mrs. Wickersham,” Leona said, her thin fingers caressing the black velvet lining.

Mrs. Wickersham grabbed Leona’s gray, moth-eaten bonnet from the dresser and threw it in the bin. She pressed her lips taunt. “Black is the appropriate color for a funeral. At least you have a black bonnet now. I should have ordered a black dress for you to have on hand for such ominous occasions, but one never expects death. Attending two funerals so close together is quite unusual, don’t you agree?”

“Yes, Mrs. Wickersham,” the girl replied.

-“The Good Shepherd”, my work-in-progress for NaNo 2016

Budding and blooming authors, check out the National Novel Writing Month challenge! (At least look at this year’s T-shirt!)


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Phidlestix

One of my author pals wrote a fabulous story for Halloween to share with the world. What a treat! I mean, what’s scarier than clowns, right? I love the quote at the beginning. (I’m a quote junkie and I don’t want cured, thank you very much.)

This evil in your eyes is this evil in disguise.
– Legacy of the Grave

Cool, huh? Yeah, and it just gets better. Read it for yourself and follow Ethan A. Cooper on Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon!
Here’s another blog post on Ethan’s work.

Content Advisory: Silliness, Violence, Clown

Phidlestix


 

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Pale Barn Ghosts – “3×8”

Happy Halloween!

My short story, “Going Home” is set in small-town Pennsylvania, where I grew up. A place of twisty roads, old farmhouses, and Revolutionary War-era graveyards. I’m not exactly a horror story writer. (Well, I guess I am NOW…) But I do like a good twist and gobs of mystery. Honestly, “Going Home” was really fun to write!

The band, Pale Barn Ghosts, seemed an appropriate choice to showcase on my Soundtrack To The Book Friday before Halloween for many reasons.

#1. Spooky band name. They label their style as “Cemetery Folk” music. Oh yeah.

#2. The guys are from my hometown! They live in Gettysburg now, but the lead singer, Thomas (Tommy!) sat behind me in homeroom for four years. I still remember his cover of Nirvana at the high school talent show. It SO beat my rendition of “I Will Always Love You.” But, whatever.

#3. It’s a great song! I think it’s about death…(spoiler: it’s totally about death.)

Going Home” is included in the anthology, Hair Raising Tales of Horror (21 tales by 7 authors) and is available now! (Read my other contribution, “Anonymous,” too!)

Buy your copy of Hair Raising Tales at the Houston Zombie Walk for charity!

hair-raising-tales-of-horror-cover_3653


Support Indie Music! Listen to more Pale Barn Ghosts!

 


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You Can Never Go Home Again

Pop had two settings—gentle and high-heat. A beacon of patience until pushed too far, the former boxing champ inside my mild-mannered father could emerge without warning. I feared facing the fighter inside if I lost Pop’s dog.

  When first I arrived at my father’s doorstep two days ago, Pop didn’t ask any questions. Never loquacious, this time his silence echoed the emptiness in my soul. I had failed—at life, at love, at everything—and had decided to leave the city and return to my childhood home, where I had felt safest.

Eventually, words began to drop out of Pop’s mouth, such as, “Morning,” and “G’night.”

Going Home by D. Marie Prokop, Hair Raising Tales of Horror


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The Singer Wore A Mask…

The Singer wore a mask. Turquoise feathers and midnight-blue fabric disguised her face. She unpacked an acoustic guitar and set up a microphone stand in a cleared-out section of the dark coffee shop.

The Writer strolled through the front door. He grinned like a hungry wolf as he sauntered up to the coffee bar.

 “The usual?” I asked.

“Why change now?”

“Why, indeed.”                                                                                                                     


-“Anonymous,” Hair Raising Tales of Horror

invitation-promo

The Singer will be reading my story, “Anonymous” and singing when required. Come one, come all! If you dare!


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