Monday, December 28, 2009

Alex's Interview with Officer Mandel

'Alex' coming March, 2010
part 5

Brad settled back against his desk when the chief abruptly cleared his throat, flicking him an irritated glance as he reached over and put a hand on Alex’s shoulder.

“Sean Elson found you in the basement.” He waited until Alex looked at him, then gave him an encouraging nod. “I also read the report, but can you tell us what happened in your own words?”

Alex rubbed his hands on his jeans, then clasped them together to hold them still. “I’ll try.”

Brad watched Alex’s tapping foot, wishing there was a way to make things easier on the boy. He glanced up and met the young man’s eyes.

Alex dropped his gaze to the floor, breathing hard. “I don’t remember very much,” he confessed grudgingly. “Mama had me down there a long time. I hadn’t eaten anything, and when I said I was thirsty she made me drink out of her bottle. It made her angry when I threw it back up.”

He continued with a small laugh, “Anyway, the noise from the fire confused me. I didn’t know what it was, and it was a while before I smelled the smoke. It scared me and I rolled off the mattress and squirmed towards the hall. That’s when a fireman came rushing down the stairs.”

“That was Sean?” Ben asked.

“Yes, sir.” Alex shrugged and moved in his chair, uncomfortable. He glanced at Brad then quickly away. “He scared me worse than the fire. You see, I hadn’t met very many people, and he was in full gear…”

“That would have scared the crap out of me,” Brad murmured.

Alex gave him a grateful look. He sat up and squared his shoulders. “I was fourteen, but in most ways I was younger than that. Mr. Elson carried me upstairs and through the fire…the heat and stench and noise…God.”

He brushed the sweat from his forehead with a shaking hand. Brad handed him bottled water and they waited while he composed himself.

He carefully screwed the cap back on the bottle, intent on the task. “It was worse outside. I was given to the medics, who poked at me and asked questions I couldn’t answer. I felt confused and scared and the neighbors stared at me.” A shudder ran through him. “I hated the pity in their eyes.”

Brad shifted his gaze across the room, noting the bright sunshine outside the window. He absently watched a bird hop across the sill as Alex continued his narrative.

“I was terrified when they put me in their truck and drove away from home. I didn’t know where I was going or what would happen to me. I spent a month at the hospital, frightened and alone. Every day people would come and ask me questions. I felt like a monkey on display. That’s when Mr. Elson rescued me and took me to his house.” Alex drew a hard breath. “In a way, that was worse.”

“For heaven’s sake, why?” Brad looked at the young man’s bent head.

Alex shrugged. “Jane was there.”

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Alex's Interview with Officer Mandel

part 4

“You’re mother died in a house fire. Do you want to start there?” Haden prompted when Alex remained silent.

Alex nervously chewed a corner of his lip. “What do you want to know, exactly?”

Brad exchanged a look with the police chief. “You said something about a dirty mattress. Is that what caught fire?”

Alex’s lips thinned in anger. “You read the report, Brad. You know as well as I do that she passed out on the couch and dropped her cigarette.” He folded his arms across his chest. “God, you must really think I’m a fool.”

“I don’t. But damn it, Alex, you’re not being overly cooperative, are you?”

Alex shrugged ruefully. “I guess not, it’s just very hard to talk about. I thought I’d left it all behind me when I moved out of that house.” He absently rubbed the ragged scars at his wrists. “I’ll never escape, will I?”

Haden shifted impatiently in his chair. “If you mean your past, then no, none of us can do that. But we can help with your future.”

Alex straightened in his chair. “Thank you.”

Brad met his glance when he turned to him, ready to stop the narrative if it grew too painful for the young man. He wasn’t out to torture the boy.

Alex swallowed. “It wasn’t the mattress that caught fire, though it easily could have been. Mama smoked all the time we were down there, and after she’d spilled her bottle on the mattress I thought she’d burn us both alive. I think she went upstairs that last time to get another bottle of something.”

“Why were you down there?” Brad asked, then swore, disgusted with himself. “I’m sorry. Don’t answer that question.”

Alex gave him a fleeting smile. “It’s all right. I don’t remember what I’d done that particular time. Something to make her furious. I was a clumsy child. She liked the basement. It was more comfortable than the garage.”

“Anyway,” he picked up the story, leaving Brad as much in the dark as before. “I tried to sleep while she was gone. She never let me sleep very much, down there. I remember wondering where she was, and dreading the answer. Her surprises were terrible.”

His voice dropped to a husky whisper, drawing Brad closer. “That’s when I smelled the smoke. I tried to reach her, I swear! But my feet were taped, you see…” His face twisted with pain. “I hear her screaming in my dreams. She’s calling my name but I can’t help her.”

At his desperate words Brad rose to his feet and jabbed a finger at the open file on his desk. “It’s not true, Alex. The coroner stated that she died of smoke inhalation. She was dead long before the fire reached her.”

“I don’t know that for sure.”

“You can’t blame yourself,” Brad said, incredulous.

Alex covered his eyes. “If I’d been a better child we wouldn’t have been in the basement. I could have helped her.”

“Alex! It’s not your fault your mother drank till she passed out with a lit cigarette in her hand. Alex?”

Brad slammed a fist on the desktop when he didn’t answer.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Alex's Interview with Officer Mandel

part 3

Brad stepped quickly from behind his desk as the chief entered the room, slightly ashamed of his relief to move away from Alex.

Haden glanced from him to where Alex sat hunched in his chair. “What’s going on?”

Brad shrugged. “I’m sorry, Chief. I’m just not good with him when he gets like this.”

Ben Haden let out a discouraged breath. “I thought he was doing better.” He crossed the room and pulled a chair closer to Alex. A fringe of black hair hid the boy’s eyes and most of his face. He seemed asleep. Ben frowned. “What were you discussing?”

Brad sat on the edge of his desk. “We were talking about his mother.”

Ben snorted. “That would do it.” He put a hand on Alex’s shoulder, shaking him a little. “Alex?”

Alex moaned low in his throat and Brad clenched a hand, forcing himself to sit still though his body had tensed at the sound.

Haden shook Alex again. “What’s going on?”

Alex gave a ragged, desperate laugh. “She has me in the basement again. I hate it down here. The mattress smells.” His voice turned vague. “I smell smoke…”

He drew a sudden sharp breath and scrambled upright in his chair, coming fully awake. He looked at them in confusion, then reddened at their scrutiny. “Sorry about that,” he muttered, breathing hard. He looked at the police chief. “I feel like an idiot. How long have you been here?”

“Not that long. What was that about?”

Alex rubbed the sleepiness from his face. “Nothing. Just a bad memory.”

Brad cleared his throat. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Alex flicked him a look. “Why?”

Brad threw up his hands but Haden stopped his outburst with a quick shake of his head.

“We want to help you,” Ben said forcefully, “But I think the only way to do that is to understand your ‘gift’. Anything you can tell us may be useful.”

Alex raised a doubtful brow. “If you think so,” he said after a moment. He carefully folded his hands and Brad glanced away as his expression turned bleak.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Alex's Interview with Officer Mandel (a chapter cut in the final edits)

part 2

The officer closed the file cover with a disgusted snort. “You’re right. There’s nothing here to help…”

“Help what, Brad?” Alex interrupted, his blue eyes dark with emotion. “You mean it wouldn’t help for people to know that my mother was a schizo that my father married one drunken night, and abandoned as soon as she was pregnant? How wouldn’t that help my case?”

“Alex!” Brad rose to his feet in dismay but Alex flung from his chair and paced the office, distraught. He stopped by the open window and Brad saw a shiver pass through his spare frame.
Alex covered his face with shaking hands. “God, this is intolerable.”

“Damn it,” Brad muttered and hit a button on the phone at his desk.


“Chief, can you come in here a minute?”

“What’s the problem?”

“It’s the interview. I’m screwing it up.”

There was a brief pause on the line, then Haden cleared his throat. “I’ll be there in a moment.”

Brad stared at the red light on the phone until it winked off, then glanced at Alex. The young man still looked out the window and Brad ran a hand through his crisp hair, slightly irritated. Nothing ever went smoothly when it involved the boy.

“Alex, please resume your seat,” he said more sharply than he’d intended. Startled, Alex turned to him and Brad regretted the panic on his face.

He motioned to the chair opposite the desk. “Please, just sit down. The Chief will be here in a minute.”

“Okay.” Alex sat in the chair, his gaze on the tips of his shoes.

Brad coughed softly to get his attention. “I’m not your enemy.”

The boy had grown still and Brad darted an anxious glance at the door. “Alex?”

The young man stirred and raised his face and his unfocused gaze filled Brad with dread.

“Alex?” he repeated, and looked again at the closed door, wishing to God that Haden would arrive.

Alex remained silent, shivering, his fear easy to read. Brad leaned closer, searching the bewildered eyes across from him.

“What is it?” he asked, not sure he wanted the answer. “Alex, what do you see?”

“I don’t know,” Alex said, his voice slurred.

Brad jumped when the door to the office suddenly opened…

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Up in Arms for 'was'!

I keep hearing how 'was' is a bad word in writing. Yet if you pick up any book published within the last year, and I'm talking respected authors!, you'll find the word used over and over again. What gives? Who started this misleading rumour? Sure, any word can be over-used, but in reality, using 'was' often keeps the tempo flowing in a paragragh and saves it from sounding stilted. So I say, three cheers to the word 'was'!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Alex's interview with Officer Mandel (a chapter cut in the final edits)

part 1

Brad impatiently tapped the open file on his desk. “You have to give me something here, Alex. Kramer’s just dying to implicate you.”

He scowled as the young man kept his eyes lowered to his clasped hands, the knuckles showing white as he fought some strong emotion.

Brad leaned across his desk. “Tell me,” he urged. He referred to the top sheet of the file. “It says here that Maggie Jonsan grew up in an isolated farmhouse outside of Oakton, Colorado. She was an intelligent enough child, but given to violent emotions and psychotic episodes. Her parents were able to keep this hidden for years by home-schooling her and limiting her exposure to other children.”

The officer glanced at Alex’s averted face. “Is this true? Is this the same Maggie Jonsan who was your mother?”

Alex finally looked at him, clearly rattled. “What does it matter? What does she have to do with any of this?”

“If we can show undue stress…” his voice trailed off as Alex sat back in his chair, shocked. Brad turned to the paper in his hand, discomfited. His expression darkened as he read the next line in the file...

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Great writing tip from a friend. 'Was' is a weak word. Use it sparingly!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mountainland Publishing

WooHoo!! My friend Jennifer Nicole Cox just had her book '500 Things That Make Dogs Happy' released by Mountainland Publishing, Inc. Congratulations Jennifer!! Looks like that perfect stocking-stuffer for all our animal-loving friends. You can buy her book and and other fantastic stories at and through
Way to go, girl!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Writing Excitement

I know I'm on the right track when the book I'm writing is more exciting to me than the book I'm reading by a favorite author.
I usually come home for lunch anticipating a good half-hour to read, but the last few days I've been coming home thinking, yeah! I can finish up the scene with Russal at the graveside of his family. Bittersweet, but gives us insight into his motivations.
I absolutely love writing.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Quality vs. Quantity

Sometimes, one well written page that moves a story forward is better than thousands of words that have to be edited out later. (In defense of those who have to snatch minutes here and there to do their writing.)

Thursday, November 5, 2009


'You should be very excited for your book. We are in the review stages with it and will be sending you some edits shortly.'


Michael Combe
Managing Editor
Mountainland Publishing, Inc.

Yeah!! It's not just a dream.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

addicted to queries

I know that sounds strange after all the years of rejection letters. But! That excited, happy feeling of having someone request an entire manuscript, and then to have that story accepted... It's a joy that cannot be denied. ('Alex', out in print March, 2010 from Mountainland Publishing. )
I want that feeling again! I'm pushing myself to finish my fantasy story just to feel that excitement of sending out queries, waiting for replies, wondering if this publishing house will be the one...
Sure, rejections are heartbreaking, but that only makes acceptance that much sweeter. So keep sending out those queries!
Bye for now.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Once again I have to give a big Thank You!! to May Bestall at Wolf-Pirate Publishing for helping me through their Workshop Workbook.
I was recently looking over a workshop offered by Writer's Digest KellysPick102709&utm_campaign= KellysPick102709

and realized May had gone over with me everything that was being offered. Creating character complexity, plausibility, and likeability. Finding your character’s motivation. Appearance versus interiority. Discovering your character’s objective. Deepening conflict. Letting your leads lead... Etc.!
May, you're a wonderful editor and person and anyone who goes through your workshop should feel privileged.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

5 year plan

I just came up with a five year writing plan (give or take a year!) First, I'll take some or all of the money I make from the publication of 'Alex' this march, and invest in a really good editor for my fantasy book. When that sells (smile), I'll have the second book- yes, it's a trilogy, big surprise- edited and published. After that... hopefully I'll have the third written, edited, published... You get the picture. Oh, and there's another paranormal story rattling around in my head as well. Hopefully, this plan will keep me busy and focused and published! Bye.

Friday, October 23, 2009


So, I'm working away at my fantasy story (except for right this instant) and realized I'll never get it published without an editor reading it over for me. I contacted an editor, but has he replied? No! So okay, its only been two days, but I'm impatient. I guess I'll just have to plug away on my own until I hear something, or I try someone else. Oh, the trials of a wanna-be author...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Hey Everyone!

Mountainland Publishing has some very exciting books coming out this month. Check out their blog: I'm so happy for these authors, but on the other hand, it leaves me anxious and jealous. March is still so far away. I want 'Alex' published already! I'm sure every author who's ever had to wait knows exaclty what I'm feeling. I'll just keep good thoughts in my head, and distract myself by working extra-hard on my fantasy novel.
Bye for now.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I just joined a new writer's site.
Visit me there!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Writer's Market

I was just invited by the Writer's Market to write my Success Story about 'Alex'. It would be so fun to see my name on their websight or even in a newsletter. This having a story published is too cool! I'm going to have to get busy writing my next book so I can have this feeling all over again.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Query letter

Here's a great blog for anyone struggling with a query letter. Good luck!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hey there,
Nothing new to write about 'Alex'. March is so far away! I've started editing my fantasy story, and though I've reached chapter 6, I'm having a hard time concentrating on it. It's like I have to push away all my excitement about having a book published in order to write the next one. Mission Impossible? Let's hope not. I think I know how gamblers feel. I got such a rush when Mountainland accepted 'Alex' that I want to feel that again. Hopefully with this next story!

Monday, September 28, 2009


I just received the copy of my book 'Alex' from Wolf Pirate Publishing. It's so incredible to see a story I've written printed between the covers of a book. I've spent the last hour skimming through the pages, reading bits here and there. Can't wait until March, when its published for real!! This must be the thrill all writers work for...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Trust with a Razor

Just finished reading 'Trust with a Razor' by Michael Combe. Good book! At first I wasn't sure I'd like it. Depression Era books are usually, well, depressing. But this one is well written and makes you care about the characters. I found myself rooting for the good guys, and sad when Louis falls short. Give it a try. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, September 14, 2009


You can now read the first chapter of my book 'Alex' at It's still hard to believe this isn't all just a dream...

Saturday, September 12, 2009


For anyone who's found me through 'Wolf-Pirate', Welcome! For everyone else, Welcome back! As you can see, I've just finished with the 'Workshop Workbook.' at Wolf-Pirate. They've given me my own Author's Page! Incredible. You don't know how satisfying and affirming it is to see my name on the cover of a book. If you have a manuscript, I urge you to find a good editor or join a workshop, or just a writing group, one at home or on the internet. The work and time definately pays off!
Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Just got my PDF file of 'Alex' from Wolf-Pirate Publishing to go over. It's fun to read the story in book form. This is still from the 'Workshop Workbook' offered at their websight that I've been involved with for the past year. My editor there, May Bestall, has done such a wonderful job with the story, pushing me to do my best writing, and not letting me get lazy. As a result, the book will be released in March, 2010, from Mountainland Publishing. A dream come true.

Sunday, August 30, 2009




Well, well. My first blog. Be kind, if you're reading this. Foremost on my mind is the fact that I've just signed a contract to have my book 'Alex' published. Very scary and exciting all at once. This is my first go at this. Let's hope I don't let the publisher nor my readers down. I'll let you know how things go once I start working with the editor.

Bye for now,