Sunday, December 14, 2014

Prologue, Jeremy Chikalto and Leviathan Island (Book II)


The prologue to my second book can stand alone, so I thought I'd post it to my blog for all to see. Enjoy! :)

Prologue


Mark Johnson didn’t expect death to feel like a change in temperature. He set his briefcase down on the mahogany desk in his spacious office, took one final swig of his pumpkin-spice double latte, and opened up his executive-sized window. Mark was a senior partner at Johnson, Smith & Jones, L.L.P., and though he pulled in over $500,000 annually, he had pushed away his late wife, Linda. Long days at the office and longer nights at Gilt on Madison Ave. had put too much stress on their marriage. She’d left Mark for a chemistry professor named Arnold. For God's sake, the man didn't know a cufflink from a tie clip, and wore a tie with short sleeves.
The divorce was decreed. Even his kids divorced themselves from his surname, as if the whole corporation had dissolved.
Tonight Mark meant to dissolve too. Both his parents had expired long ago in Floridan opulence, after all, and he had no educations of nieces or nephews to fund, no siblings to rival. His children and ex-wife wouldn’t touch his assets, and he hadn’t a need for them, really. What an emptiness I have accumulated, thought Mark as he climbed up on his window’s ledge.
Mark wanted to think wild thoughts and have some profound connection to his time and place of death. He’d chosen 11pm sharp, but he had no real reason for doing so. He’d chosen his office window and the city sidewalk below for his body’s final breath. Why? He didn’t know. It was sad, he thought, that there was no poetry in his life.
As Mark Johnson leaned into the wind, trying to elongate the cusp of his life, he glimpsed his destination, and was disgusted. How had he missed this detail? Below, a wooden awning stretched out across several storefronts. Large, striped pedestrian crosswalk signs directed foot traffic through the narrow tunnel. His place of death was a construction site. Mark tried to back out of the deal, but had no leverage, and fell. His adrenal gland surged, and he was horribly excited. The Earth rushing towards him was magnificent, and nothing had ever felt as real as the air he now penetrated. Tenth floor, ninth floor, eighth floor, he was almost one with the ground. Fourth floor, third floor, second floor, and he merged with the plywood of the construction site, shards of wood impaling him as he liquefied on impact.
Mark felt a temperature change. He knew from the ski trips he used to take with his family that a frigid January sometimes felt like a sweltering July. It was all very confusing, especially the fact that Mark was still thinking. He opened his eyes.
Mark had entered the Haze. A buzzing bright white light was soon replaced with humming purple rays. Mark looked down at his blob of a body from an impossible angle, and shrieked when he realized that his head wasn’t attached. It bobbed up and down in space. He floated aimlessly for a time, watching the shadows and lights shift in the distance, and then a strange suction pulled him along. There was a glowing thread emanating from his solar plexus, and a cat-like creature was tugging on it. His head, though severed from his body, followed the cat as though it were bonded to his flesh. Mark cried out and jiggled his arm, which was still attached to his body. The cat turned around, meowed, and pointed a paw above her.
Mark looked up and felt some part of his being rise and separate from the bulk of his consciousness. The part that had risen felt light and whimsical, like the first flurries of the season. He remembered holding his newborn boys, crying and laughing at once. The bottom part, though, was dark and heavy, slush trampled by too many shoes. He was in a back room, screwing an escort, stomach acid and rum sloshing up in his mouth. The cat was pulling him down, down. And then there was an explosion of noise—the hiss of a cat, the shriek of a wild boar, and then a two-toned voice, saying, “Jeremy Chikalto! Apollyon’s animus!”
Mark Johnson swiveled his mushy head and saw the cat hissing and backing away, whipping its gray and white tail. The nearby shadows began to morph, and a large black shape loomed towards him, polluting the Haze above it with swirls of oil. Mark remembered all the times he had been afraid, and the memories coalesced into a feeling of the deepest dread. His glowing cord was drawn into the creature's terrible gravity, and Mark was being reeled in. Mark howled as he entered the demon’s mouth, and was incinerated in its throat. Everything was charred black. This time, there was no mistaking the temperature.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Labyrinth Wall, by Emilyann Girdner (Book Review)




Genre: Dystopian Fantasy Adventure, Young Adult / New Adult
Rating: 4.5 / 5


The Labyrinth Wall, by Emilyann Girdner, is a fast-paced dystopian fantasy. Girdner's first novel of the Obsidian series took off running and the action never stopped. Araina—a strong, independent young woman—is keeping to her loner routine within the dangerous walls of the labyrinth, when suddenly her sense of place and purpose is forever changed after witnessing a mysterious man emerge from one of the labyrinth's walls.

The labyrinth is a dangerous, fantastical place full of unique creatures and gruesome death. Its inhabitants are all starved and must compete for resources. While I easily adapted to the setting, the rapid introduction of new characters disoriented me early on in my reading. I never did get a strong sense of Simul, the main villain. There was also some confusion about the age of the male characters, namely Darith and Korun. However, once I recognized that the characters were all roughly the same age, I was impressed with how Girdner managed to juggle such a large cast of characters, all the while keeping each voice unique. Araina and Blue's relationship was especially sweet and refreshing.

I also liked how there are so many romantic coupling possibilities for Araina—will she eventually find love with Darith, Korun, Soll, or will she be perfectly content with platonic relationships with all of her new companions—something altogether new and rewarding for her.

I look forward to the second installment in the Obsidian series and am eager to see Araina grow and flourish in her expanding worldview.



Also, I heart labyrinths and mazes.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Jeremy Chikalto and the Demon Trace Cover Reveal!

I am thrilled to present to you the Jeremy Chikalto and the Demon Trace front and back covers! This is the third and final book in The Hazy Souls series.

Jeremy Chikalto and the Demon Trace front cover, young adult paranormal fantasy

Jeremy Chikalto and the Demon Trace back cover, young adult paranormal fantasy

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jeremy Chikalto and Leviathan Island E-book FREE

Hey everyone! The e-book version of Jeremy Chikalto and Leviathan Island is now available for free in anticipation of the release of the third and final book in the series, Jeremy Chikalto and the Demon Trace!

I've only just made the change, so expect it to start appearing on major distributors' websites like Barnes and Nobles, Amazon, Apple, Sony, and Kobo within the next week.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Faline's 19 Month Milestones

At 19 months old, Faline is doing great! Her personality is shaping up to be a bit different from Mirabelle's, but they are starting to look more similar. Faline loves to climb and has always taken great pleasure in mastering physical challenges. This summer, she enjoyed climbing ladders--which is absolutely terrifying to watch--but she does surprisingly well! She's pretty short for her age, which makes it look even more dramatic. (Don't worry, I stood behind her with both hands ready!) So I suppose you could say that was more of a 15 month milestone, but it's been a while since I've written about her interests and developments. Now that it's getting colder, she has to take her love of physical challenges indoors, so we play ball a lot in the living room and she enjoys climbing the furniture.

Faline loves books and shoves them into my hands, saying, "Go!" Her current favorites are "Pete the Cat Plays Ball," "Clifford's Big Dictionary," and "Goodnight Moon." She gets really into a particular book for a couple of weeks and then switches it up if a book goes "missing," i.e., mommy tucks it away so that I can read another book to her because I'm getting sick of the same five books. She's always delighted when a prized book returns back into circulation. Faline's a bit more adaptable though than Mira was and you can switch up a routine on her without any issues. She has a knack for going with the flow. That being said, she does have her moments of separation anxiety, but her adjustment periods are pretty short and she falls back into a good social rhythm pretty easily.

Faline also loves to sing songs. Her favorite songs are "Old McDonald Had A Farm," "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," "Baby Beluga," and "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." She especially likes singing these songs in her crib at night.

I would estimate Faline's word count to be about 100 words, probably more as she's getting to the point where she just repeats words back and then puts them in her arsenal for later use. She's shy about using many words in front of people other than me and Jace, but I suppose that's how it goes. She's only just starting to put two words together and she uses some phrases regularly, like "happy baby," "pick up," "eat food," and "nap time," though I think that's just one concept. I'll list some words she uses often:


mama
dada
cup
cheese
cracker
cookie
apple
cat
dog
hop
up / pick up
yes
book
Blue's (for Blue's Clues)
Pirates (for Jake and the Neverland Pirates)
ball
car
nana (banana)
row, row, row your boat lyrics
twinkle twinkle little star lyrics
pineapple
duck
heart
bink
bear
owl
poop
socks
got it
go
star
heart
crayon
soup
pig
mouse
home
house
comb
Bob (for Spongebob)
juice
girl
bus
boat
truck
nap time
thank you
happy
baby
lego
blocks
crab
hug
pop pop
food
- - -
animal noises include:
baa         (what does a sheep say?)
hiss        (what does a snake say?)
meow    (what does a cat say?)
haa-haa-haa / panting sound        (what does a dog say?)
moo       (what does a cow say?)
bzzzz      (what does a bee say?)
roar        (what does a lion say / bear say?)
neigh      (what does a horse say?)
oo-oo-aa-aa      (what does a monkey say?)
hoo hoo      (what does an old say?)
aahooooo!      (what does a wolf say?)
cocka doodle doo     (what does a rooster say?)
hee haw      (what does a donkey say?)
mmmm!     (kiss sound for a kiss)


Faline and her big sister get along very well and love to chase each other around. They love to play The Three Little Pigs with me, where they hide in a tent in the living room and I come and try to blow the tent down like the wolf. They escape the tent and run amuck until I chase them back into the tent. Eventually, Mira will inform me that the tent is made of bricks, so I can't blow it down. Fun times. :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Collingswood Book Festival 2013

This past weekend I had a booth at the Collingswood Book Festival. It was a great experience! Thank you to everyone who stopped by and purchased Jeremy Chikalto and the Hazy Souls and Jeremy Chikalto and Leviathan Island. The book festival also took place on my birthday, so you can only imagine how thrilled I was to meet new readers. :) Quite the birthday present. Below are some pictures of the booth.

Viral Cat Press Book Booth, Collingswood Book Festival

Lyrna the Fizdruft and Ghost

Set Up

I featured Jeremy Chikalto and the Hazy Souls and Jeremy Chikalto and Leviathan Island. Also represented at the Viral Cat Booth were the Fall 2013 Issue of Viral Cat, Steep Stony Road by Daniel Picker, Lawrence and the Machine by Jesse Blair, and Mirabelle the Duck and Faline the Swan by Judith DeBrosse.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Faline's 14 Month Milestones

Quick update on my second little girl's milestones...! This is where she's at at the end of her 14th month.

Her word count is between 12-15 words, and that includes animal noises. She's almost to the point of repeating things back to me so that it sounds like she's saying a lot more words, so I'm having a hard time knowing which words are words that she's using with purpose. Anyway, I've recorded the words that she says a lot. Fae is also pretty reluctant to share her skillz within earshot of others. Here's her list!

mama

dada

car

cat

dog

da             (for some reason, this is how she now refers to banana... she used to say nana, but yeah, it's sort of devolved to da, haha. anyway, I'm counting it because she's consistent.)

ooh-ooh-aah-ahh     (in response to: what does a monkey say?)

quack quack         (in response to: what does a duck say?)

haa-haa             (panting noise in response to: what does a dog say?)

got it              (whenever she gets her blue ball)

baba         (for her bottle)

cheese

caca        (cookie or cracker)


 - - - -
Sign language: Faline can sign for milk and finished. She used to sign a lot more for milk, but now she's especially fond of signing for finished.


- - - -
Comprehension: Faline's comprehension is pretty good and she get an object for you of a specified color.

- - - -
Hobbies and Interests: Faline loves to stack legos and snuggle with her owl blanket. She also loves physical play and enjoys chasing and throwing her blue ball. Faline is a great little dancer and also is freakishly good at jumping on a trampoline. I need to get video footage of this. Her coordination is spot on. Faline is also a shorty, as in, she's in the 3rd percentile for height, so her being coordinated is pretty adorable and a lot of people are freaked out because she looks like a seven month old doing all these advanced physical maneuvers. Faline and Mirabelle like to play hide and seek at Grandpa and Meme's house and like to dance and play sharks in my living room.