The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I got my invitation from Robyn Bachar who’s talking about the next book in her Bad Witch series, Poison in the Blood.

What is your working title of your book?
Saint of Sinners

Where did the idea come from for the book?
It’s the 2nd in a trilogy. The idea for the series came from The Omen. The kid is the son of the devil, but does that mean he has to be evil? What if he didn’t want to be? That’s how I came up with Alex — he’s the Antichrist, but he wants to save the world. The first book Not My Apocalypse is out now.

What genre does your book fall under?
YA Fantasy

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
That’s a tough one. I’m bad at picking actors. I’d probably have to do one of those nation wide searches and make a big deal out of the casting. It could be lots of fun.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
After saving the world, the son of the devil goes to high school.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Self-published. I really love being my own publishing company.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Five months. Man, what a slacker! I’m about to start the second edit.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
My editor called the first book “Percy Jackson starring the badass son of Satan”. I’m totally rolling with that.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I wrote Not My Apocalypse for NaNoWriMo 2011, and two or three weeks in, I had an idea for a sequel where the main character goes to high school. Alex wants to be a normal kid and Saint of Sinners is about him trying his best to live a “normal” life. I wanted to explore how he would handle a world he’s only seen through a TV screen, and also how he deals with some of the strange things that pop up in his life (like inadvertently getting worshipers).

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Alex gets in a fight his first week at school because he protects a kid from bullies. That’s a theme that runs through the book: Alex standing up against bullies, defending the weak. He learns more about who he is as a person by facing both teenage problems and supernatural ones.

Oh, and his best friend is a talking cat named Mew-Mew.

The next stops are with E.P. Beaumont and Becca Patterson on January 2.

Halloween Flash Fiction Challenge

This is another challenge from Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds. A Halloween theme this time, how could I pass it up? My ingredients: Lovecraftian, Evil Awakens, High School, Stage Magic.

Almost as soon as I read those, I got an idea, and the title came along with it. So have a little pulpy horror goodness:

“Arkham High’s Last Talent Show”

Billy slumped in his seat and sighed. That weird Dwight kid was up next, doing magic tricks. Probably some lame card tricks and a big finale of pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Well, Billy supposed, it was better than being in class.

Dwight stepped out, obviously wearing his dad’s suit, since it was too big for his short, skinny frame. He grinned at the audience and a little chill went up Billy’s spine. Dwight had always been weird, but that crazy smile was just creepy.

“Ladies and gentleman, welcome to my show.” Dwight pushed his sleeves up. “I promise that you will remember what I am about to show you for the rest of your life.” He turned and motioned toward backstage. Two kids from the drama club pushed something out on stage.

Billy sat up. A flat board with shackles. Places for both arms and legs to be locked down. Was he planning to throw knives or something? The drama kids came back out, struggling to maneuver another board, this one larger and horizontal. The small wheels on each side were almost invisible. It looked like the board was floating, and a huge pentagram was drawn on it. All over the huge star and circle shape were weird symbols. Looking at them gave Billy a headache.

“Now, ladies and gentleman, I need a lovely volunteer from the audience.” Dwight still had that creepy grin. The crowd murmured. Finally, a few tentative hands went up.

Dwight scanned the crowd. “You, Miss Waldrup.” He pointed. “Please, come up here.”

Charlene Waldrup sashayed up to the stage. She could never resist being the center of attention. “What are you gonna do, saw me in half?” she asked. Her friends laughed.

“No, something quite different.” He pushed his foot against the wheels on the upright board. Locking them, Billy realized. “Please.” Dwight gestured for her to step against it.

He locked her down, one shackle at a time: snap, snap … snap, snap. “Kinky,” Charlene said. More laughter from her friends.

“Just wait there. I have a few more things to prepare.” Dwight walked around the board with the pentagram, bending down to lock all the wheels.

Billy glanced around at the other students. They weren’t bored anymore. Most of them looked curious. A few of them looked afraid.

When all the wheels were locked, Dwight pulled a piece of chalk from his pocket and drew one last symbol on the pentagram. It was just as strange as the others, except … it almost seemed to move.

“Are you ready to see some real magic?” Dwight looked out over the audience.

In the back, someone yelled, “Get on with it!”

Dwight’s grin got wider. “Alright.” He turned and held his arms out, over the symbols. Then he started to chant.

Billy shivered. Whatever language that kid was speaking, it wasn’t normal.

The pentagram rippled. The audience gasped and leaned forward. And then … something came out of the floor.

A tentacle slid right out of the center of the pentagram, reaching up and up. Billy wondered how he was doing it. Something under the floor? A projection? He squinted, tried to peer into the small gap between the board and the floor, but he couldn’t see the trick.

“Okay, this isn’t funny anymore. Let me out,” Charlene said. Her eyes were wide, fixed on the thing only a few feet away from her.

Dwight kept chanting, his voice rising to a scream, “C’thulhu fhtagn! C’thulhu fhtagn!”

More tentacles appeared, and Charlene screamed. The largest tentacle wrapped around her, squeezing. Everything erupted into panic. Students poured out of their seats, fleeing for the exits. In the screaming chaos, people were knocked down, trampled.

Billy jumped over seats, his breath coming in gasps as he tried to get away from that … that thing Dwight had called up. The chanting stopped and now he was laughing, the sound of it carrying over the screams.

Shoving his way into the crowd at the exit door, Billy heard another sound rising behind him. A roar or a scream, a horrible sound of triumph. Then a wet crunch. Then another. And another.

With a final squeeze, he made it through the door and out into the bright hall. But there was no safety here. The whole building shook, and from the auditorium came rumbling and cracking. The thing was still coming.

Running past other students, down the endless hall and finally to the far door. Billy burst out into the bright sunlight and stumbled down the steps. The immense crashing noises continued, and despite the terror, he turned.

A horror broke through the roof of the auditorium, and even from the other side of the school, Billy could see it. That was the worst thing of all: seeing, knowing.

In his last moments, Billy fell to his knees and prayed to the terrible monster Dwight had summoned. Prayed to die, because his mind couldn’t take it.

The Great Old One heard, and answered.

Flash Fiction Challenge from Terribleminds: A Game of Aspects

Over at Chuck Wendig’s blog Terribleminds, he’s running a flash fiction challenge. Writers pick one item each from three columns and write a 1000 word story about it. I used a random number generator and came up with these: dystopian, graveyard, man vs himself

And this is what I came up with:

The Job

It was easier, and cheaper, to do it in the graveyard. Charlie checked his gun one more time. Three bullets would do the job and then some, but he always wanted to have a full six. Three, the number of kids he had. Charlie shook off the thought and made his way to the open grave.

He didn’t always know who he was killing, or why, but this time he did. Bryant Staley had been in the news for several months, trying to organize a union in his office. The media had been all over it, painting him as greedy, lazy, ungrateful for his job. The corporate office had warned him on three separate occasions. There was no fourth warning.

Things always came in threes, Charlie mused.

He stood near the freshly dug pit in the ground and waited for the car to arrive. It was a beautiful late spring day, a few clouds skating across the blue sky. After this, he’d go home and puke his guts out, but maybe by late afternoon he’d have the energy to play with his boys and visit Gina in the hospital.

After a while, a black SUV pulled up behind his Toyota. Two men got out, dragging a third between them. Staley was blindfolded and gagged, his hands cuffed behind him. He was fighting, but the two men were built like tanks and it did no good. They brought him up the hill and forced him to his knees at the foot of the grave.

“Take off the gag,” Charlie said. But not the blindfold. He couldn’t stand to look in their eyes. “A man should be able to say a few last words.”

The first goon grumbled, but did as he was told.

“Please,” Staley said. “Please don’t kill me.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Staley, but you were warned. You understood the consequences if you continued your efforts to unionize.” At least Valiant Worldwide didn’t use the tactics some other corporations did. They didn’t go after people’s families. That was what Charlie told himself so he could sleep at night.

“I just wanted a better life for my family. I can barely survive on what I get paid. I just want what’s fair. The way they treat us … I couldn’t stand it anymore. I couldn’t.” He started to cry.

Charlie gave the two goons a nervous glance before saying, “I agree, Mr. Staley. It’s not fair, but it’s the law. We have to obey.” Maybe, if he didn’t have a family, he might try to do something about it. There were rumors out in California of an uprising. But then again, there’d been rumors like that for years.

“Please. I have a family. Kids.” Staley wasn’t much older than him, a touch of gray showing in the bright sunlight.

“So do I, Mr. Staley. Two boys and a little girl. My girl is sick. Leukemia. Valiant is paying for her treatment as long as I do this for them. It’s nothing personal. If it wasn’t me, it would be someone else.” That was another thing he told himself so he could sleep.

“Does she know what you do?”

Charlie swallowed hard, his stomach going cold. “No.” What would she say if she knew what daddy did to make her better? Would she find out when she was older? Would she hate him for it?

The second goon shifted his feet. “Hurry up.”

Charlie wondered why the goons didn’t take care of this. Or were they just as uncomfortable as he was?

“Any last words, Mr. Staley?”

“Tell my wife and kids I love them. Tell them I just wanted the best for them. I wanted to give them a better world.” Staley was crying again, tears dripping from beneath the blindfold.

For one insane moment, Charlie considered letting him go. Shooting the two goons, jumping into the car with Staley. They could grab their families, maybe make it to Canada. But there were ways for Valiant to find them. They had offices in Canada, and even if the laws there were relaxed, that didn’t mean they couldn’t drag them back to the US for punishment.

And what about Gina? She was too sick to travel, and even if they could make it across the border, the minute they took her to a hospital for treatment, Valiant would know where they were.

“We all want a better world, but this is the one we live in now. I’m very sorry, Mr. Staley.” Charlie lifted his gun. His arm shook a little, but he forced it to steady. The first bullet punched through Bryant’s head and his body slumped. Charlie stepped forward and put two more into his chest. Blood soaked into the green grass. Somewhere in the distance, a sparrow chirped.

“Make sure you give him a decent burial,” he told the goons. Charlie’s part was over. Valiant would put up a headstone, taking the money out of Bryant’s stock options. The rest of the money would go to his family.

That was something, at least. Bryant’s family wouldn’t be kicked out of their home or starve, at least for a year or so. Hopefully at least one of his kids was old enough to get a job and help support them. Even a ten year old could get work that at least put food on the table.

Charlie’s job not only paid for Gina’s treatment, it made sure his boys could stay in school, and it made sure his wife only had to work fifty hours a week. They could even hide a little money away for the future. Maybe Canada wasn’t out of the question. Once Gina got better (and Charlie always thought in those terms: When and never if) maybe they could make it there. Change their names, live out in the country.

Behind him, one of the goons took the first shovelful of dirt.

This is the last time, Charlie told himself. He said that every time.

Six Sentence Sunday, July 1 (Dinosaurs & Whiskey)

What happens when you mix alcohol and time travel? You get “Dinosaurs & Whiskey”:

“You brought back a freaking dinosaur?” The creature was obviously a baby, mottled green and brown with a tiny horn on its nose and a frill at the back of its head.

“It looked lonely, and I thought it was cute.”

Felix tore his gaze from the baby and gaped at his friend. “You can’t take things from the past, August. You could destroy the timeline.”

Check out other posts at Six Sentence Sunday.

Six Sentence Sunday, June 24 (Air Pirates)

Hello! I know I haven’t posted for a few weeks. I was busy finishing Saint of Sinners and writing a new short story. My six this week is from Emma and the Air Pirates, which should be out in August:

Emma told herself she wouldn’t scream. She clung to the bedpost as the airship lurched in the storm. The sound of it was so immense it was like the end of the world. Perhaps God is punishing me, she thought as a crack of thunder shook the craft. I’ll die in water instead of fire. Rain pounded against the window.