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December 5, 2012 — 137 words

Above Ground Blog Tour Winners!

By Letitia Coyne

The time has come to draw the Above Ground blog tour to a close.

Firstly, thank you to everyone who followed along. You rock.

Secondly, yes, you finally get to know what the prizes are.

As part of the month-long tour, we ran a mystery raffle with 11 secret prizes up for grabs. Each prize was based off of the letters in the title “Above Ground”… and now, it's time to reveal what the prizes are.

The list of prizes and the list of winners are up now at AM

Come along and check to see if you are a winner and claim the prize of your choice.

Get in quick! First in, first served.


November 27, 2012 — 1,163 words

Above Ground Blog Tour:
3 Days Left To Win!

By 1889 Labs

As you may have seen, this past month our own A.M. Harte has been running a month-long blog tour to celebrate the release of her new novel Above Ground.

Only THREE DAYS remain to enter to win MYSTERY prizes which may or may not include a doomsday device (minus batteries). What are you waiting for?

Above Ground by A.M. Harte

The first glimpse of sun may be her last.

When Lilith Gray goes above ground for the first time, she hardly expects to stay there — much less be trapped on the surface with no way home.

Hunted by trackers and threatened by the infected, Lilith is on the run, desperate to return underground. Her only hope for survival lies with a taciturn werewolf with a dark agenda of his own.

Lilith’s old carefree life has been reduced to one choice:

Adapt. Or die trying.

Mystery Raffle

PRIZES! Glorious prizes! This blog tour's gone crazy and decided to change things up by hosting a mystery raffle with eleven awesome prizes for you to win- one for each letter of Above Ground! There are tons of ways to win, and more entries to gain every day of the tour just by commenting on each tour stop's blog post. You can win books! You can win art! You can win swag! You can win your own doomsday device*!

*Doomsday device does not include batteries and might not actually exist, but the rest of the prizes do!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Stops

Tuesday Serial AF Stewart Write Rewrite Read Banana Blog Loudquietgirl Feral Intensity Raining Ink Page Readers JC Hart Zoe Whitten Ellie Hall AMA on Reddit EJ Spurrell Eight Cuts Gallery 5 Rings Friday Flash TA Holtorf Raining Ink Ellie Hall Reviews The Amwriting Blog A Book A Day Catherine Mede Greg X Graves Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile The Bathroom Monologues Bookish Ardour Cheapass Fiction Opinions of a Wolf A Bit of Dash Graham Storrs

November 22, 2012 — 952 words

How to be Famous: Cameron Diaz

By Letitia Coyne

For the first time in weeks I had a whole blog post written and edited days before deadline. The trouble is it was very angry, negative, and whiney, so I decided to cut it and go with the main thrust of what I wanted to say without all the biiiaaatching.

The moral of my story was that people generally have short memories, but they will remember for as long as they live how you made them feel. Causing someone to feel worthless, or to feel they were an important asset in your life, can be done with as little as a few moments of your time, but it will form the impression of you they carry on with forever.

I hope that doesn’t sound too corny. It could. You’ll recall the climax of ‘There’s Something about Mary’, when Ted realizes that it isn’t something about Mary herself that is so extraordinary, it is how good she makes people ordinarily shunned by society feel about themselves. Then he cries a lot and snot runs down his face, but by then the point is made.

I thought: what a shame it is that we so often trade friendships for networks, these days.

From there I went on to think about other very basic and very true truisms, full of truthful truthiness. Since nothing positive is ever accomplished through negativity, I gathered some of my favourite literary truths, spoken by greats, and listed them here for you to consider. Some of these truths are contradictory, which is in the nature of truth itself.

Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.
C. S. Lewis
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
C. S. Lewis
The reason that fiction is more interesting than any other form of literature, to those who really like to study people, is that in fiction the author can really tell the truth without humiliating himself.
Jim Rohn
If literature isn't everything, it's not worth a single hour of someone's trouble.
Jean-Paul Sartre
Every man's memory is his private literature.
Aldous Huxley
The decline of literature indicates the decline of a nation.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
It is the nature of the artist to mind excessively what is said about him. Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.
Virginia Woolf
The atmosphere of orthodoxy is always damaging to prose, and above all it is completely ruinous to the novel, the most anarchical of all forms of literature.
George Orwell
Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.
Gilbert K. Chesterton
Literature transmits incontrovertible condensed experience... from generation to generation. In this way literature becomes the living memory of a nation.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The sole substitute for an experience which we have not ourselves lived through is art and literature.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The web, then, or the pattern, a web at once sensuous and logical, an elegant and pregnant texture: that is style, that is the foundation of the art of literature.
Robert Louis Stevenson
The force of the advertising word and image dwarfs the power of other literature in the 20th century.
Daniel J. Boorstin
Our American professors like their literature clear and cold and pure and very dead.
Sinclair Lewis
There is only one school of literature - that of talent.
Vladimir Nabokov
Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.
Barbara Tuchman
In literature as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others.
Andre Maurois
Be excellent to each other.
Bill and Ted

Last word: I am in the process of unpublishing. It is the new black this season; you’ll see it everywhere soon. I’ll tell you about it another time.

Cheers all,

P.S: Cameron Diaz might not actually have been consulted at all on any point regarding the nature of fame.

November 13, 2012 — 877 words

Interview With Horror Author Mike Kearby

By 1889 Labs

As part of author Mike Kearby's blog tour, he's stopping by 1889 Labs today for a little interview about his horror/thriller release Kavachi's Rise.

You can find the full blog tour schedule here if you're interested in following along.

In the meantime... Lights! Camera! Action!

Tell us about yourself. You’re a novelist, inventor, ex-English teacher, history enthusiast... but what aren’t you?

MK: I am most definitely not a follower and seem to have a genetic aversion toward humans that organize into groups.

You’ve written over ten novels. How does Kavachi’s Rise differ from your previous works?

MK: My early novels all have an overwhelming storyline based on real events in history. The Devouring contains a very brief historical set-up of the Romani Holocaust and prey mimicry. Other than that, the book is a story of pure fiction.

In a market that has seen many new vampire novels released, what makes the vampire protagonists in Kavachi’s Rise unique?

In my mind, the story would replace the undead vampire of lore with the idea that vampire are actually an evolved animal species with the ability to mimic their prey: Man. I wanted vampire that were very much alive and could move about in the daylight. The vampire in the story still take blood, but for a very different reason: to harvest a specific amino acid that fuels their molecular furnaces.

How much do you relate to your characters?

MK: I think as all writers do; I have a tendency to take acquaintances and parts of myself and fuse those together to form the main characters in each novel.

Many of your works have a historical context. What unusual facts did you have to research for this novel?

MK:  The first historical event I had to understand was the Romani Holocaust and the liberation of prisoners from German death camps. Of course the entire plotline was dependent on discovering whether or not some predators mimic their prey for hunting. The discovery that this does occur in nature made the plot (for me) believable in my writing the story.

Kavachi’s Rise is the first in The Devouring series. What can readers expect from the sequels?

MK: The first installment set-up was to transform the main characters, Kavachi and Tetanya, from domesticated vampyre into feral vampyre, then into government-controlled assassins. Future books will show the two fighting – and here’s a cliché – evil in the world.

Finally, what question should we have asked you, and why?

MK: The question: Will the Mayan prediction regarding the 13th Baktun come true on December 21st 2012 thus ending all life on the planet?

The why? I wanted to remind your readers to buy their copy of The Devouring well ahead of the planet’s end.

About Kavachi's Rise (The Devouring #1)

A Dark Secret. Thomas Morehart and his sister, Kara are vampyre, not the undead, but creatures evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to mimic their prey, man. Then - rescued from a Nazi Prison Camp, Thomas and Kara are brought to the U.S. and forced to work inside government-owned mortuaries. Now -betrayed by the government sixty-seven years later, Thomas and Kara are in a race against time to transform back to their feral states or risk Exsanguination by government sanctioned hit squads.

Purchase from Damnation Books | Amazon | B&N

About Mike Kearby

From Wikipedia: Mike Kearby (born 1952) is an American novelist and inventor. Since 2005, Kearby has published ten novels, one graphic novel, and written two screenplays: (2011) Boston Nightly, with fellow writer Paul Bright and (2012) The Devouring. Boston Nightly is scheduled for filming in the spring of 2013.

Kearby was born in Mineral Wells, Texas, and received a B.S. from North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) in 1972. He taught high school English and reading for 10 years and created ""The Collaborative Novella Project"" The project allows future authors to go through the novel writing process from idea to published work.

Find out more at his website, twitter or blog.

November 8, 2012 — 643 words

Still Water.

By Letitia Coyne

People whose conversation I enjoy have been talking a lot about life-changing times, lately. Decades that have marked crucial turning points in their lives. Realizations that have come, and with them an illumination which has changed the way they see the world, or more importantly, changed their artistic response to the world they live in.

That power of change, the response to an epiphany, has been something I have honoured for many years. One of the quotes prominent in my workspace is:

 “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903) "Maxims for Revolutionaries"

Being raised unhappily in a strictly paternal authoritarian household where bigotry and social one-up-manship seethed under a thin veil of cultured courtesy pounded into me first an unquestioning obedience, then a slow-burning anger, then a desire for anarchy that was ill-mannered and uncorsetted.

I tried to look through lists of music and films of the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, and 10s to find favourites and life-changers. There were too many. I have been too many different people through all those decades to find a place to say, ‘that is when I realized I was me’. I have trouble knowing who me is, even now.

What is common to other people’s discussions I’ve followed, though, and all those about planning for their success today, is passion. All the people who get together to discuss the things that precipitated a need to change - or to find a voice in the face of injustice, or to make the time in the life of a busy working wife and mother to write - speak about their passion.

Often they speak about the passion for reading at an early age. Some speak of keeping fading copies of stories they wrote as small children. Some speak of the anger that found a voice through art.

I don’t appear to have a passion. I get passionate about issues. Cruelty, any kind of enabled suffering, makes me angry and outspoken; injustice, bigotry, waste, literacy, education, health and mental health rights, all other human rights - just the typical lefty sort of ideologies, but generally I seem to be like water.

Water just finds a level and sits, or evaporates and then tumbles down again, or slowly erodes obstacles. Water only gets any grit about it when there is some external force causing a disturbance. That’s me. No passion. Water. Lucky water.

I haven’t had to struggle for any of the successes I’ve had; I’ve just been in the right place at the right time and known the right people. I’m not competitive at all. I cannot win a race. If someone is in a hurry to get past me I am as likely to step aside and offer them my skates to make their journey easier. That isn’t saintly – it’s just that I don’t care if someone gets where they’re going ahead of me.

I think that’s why I feel so lost in this new world.

I cannot compete. I cannot call out continually, ‘Mine is best’. And among those who have no need to succeed in terms of recognition, I have no passion to drive me on to make myself find my very best and put it out there for others. I need external stimuli, deadlines, causes. I need to have something important to say, that someone else hasn’t already said better.

The only thing I have in common with the world of other artists is this endless, circular, self-destructive, ego-driven fascination with myself and telling everyone else about it.

Cheers.  :)

November 3, 2012 — 1,198 words

Above Ground Blog Tour!

By 1889 Labs

We know just how much you love great fiction. That's why we're excited to announce that the lovely A.M. Harte, author of the much loved zombie romance anthology Hungry for You has released her new novel, Above Ground! Along with it, of course, comes a crazy month long blog tour and a MYSTERY PRIZE GIVEAWAY.

Above Ground by A.M. Harte

The first glimpse of sun may be her last.

When Lilith Gray goes above ground for the first time, she hardly expects to stay there — much less be trapped on the surface with no way home.

Hunted by trackers and threatened by the infected, Lilith is on the run, desperate to return underground. Her only hope for survival lies with a taciturn werewolf with a dark agenda of his own.

Lilith’s old carefree life has been reduced to one choice:

Adapt. Or die trying.

Mystery Raffle

PRIZES! Glorious prizes! This blog tour's gone crazy and decided to change things up by hosting a mystery raffle with eleven awesome prizes for you to win- one for each letter of Above Ground! There are tons of ways to win, and more entries to gain every day of the tour just by commenting on each tour stop's blog post. You can win books! You can win art! You can win swag! You can win your own doomsday device*!

*Doomsday device does not include batteries and might not actually exist, but the rest of the prizes do!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Stops

Tuesday Serial AF Stewart Write Rewrite Read Banana Blog Loudquietgirl Feral Intensity Raining Ink Page Readers JC Hart Zoe Whitten Ellie Hall AMA on Reddit EJ Spurrell Eight Cuts Gallery 5 Rings Friday Flash TA Holtorf Raining Ink Flashes in the Dark Ellie Hall Reviews The Amwriting Blog A Book A Day Catherine Mede Greg X Graves Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile The Bathroom Monologues Bookish Ardour Cheapass Fiction Opinions of a Wolf A Bit of Dash Graham Storrs

October 27, 2012 — 1,167 words

The Difference Between Inspiration and Motivation

By Guest Author

by EJ Spurrell

As writers, I’m sure we’ve all seen the ups and downs of the creative process. We receive inspiration oftentimes from the strangest of places. From books we’ve read, movies we’ve watches, series we’ve followed and music we get lost in, we’re almost constantly and consistently bombarded with inspiration.

But it’s not as easy as all that. The inspiration has to catch us. It has to take hold, and guide us through the process to the point where it can be seen through. Many of us with completed works remember the exact moment inspiration struck us. Before I wrote Children of the Halo, I had been struggling with exactly how I was going to approach the subject of an entire modern-day town being suddenly and mysteriously transported to an alternate dimension. A place where the laws of magic applied much more than the laws of physics. How would the characters, all eight thousand of them, react to such a strange event? How would the culture shock affect them?

So I did what any author would do. I asked people. I asked my friends. I asked business owners. I asked police, local politicians, engineers, fishermen, tradesmen and truck drivers. The floodgates opened, and inspiration flowed. I began to approach a completely speculative subject from a level of realism that wouldn’t have been available to me before.

Inspiration came at me from every direction. The characters were formed from my own experiences and the personality traits of myself and my closest friends. Music helped inspire moods. Social situations involving foreigners from the third world allowed me a glimpse into how the people of the Pactlands in Children of the Halo might react when faced with modern technology.

In short, it took me ninety days to finish the first draft of Children of the Halo. Less than a year later, I started releasing it online, and set to write the sequel.

Needless to say, that didn’t come so easily. I found that the same inspiration I had fallen back on for the first book were now traps. Dark, black holes that I had already tapped and could no longer count on. I knew where the book was going to go, but I didn’t know how I was going to get there.

And so back into research I went. I spoke to more people who originated from the third world who had made it to Canada in one piece and listened to their stories. Some of them were mundane. Others unbelievable. I heard stories from the darkest recesses of the human psyche, heard of people capable of things that any so-called civilized person would balk at. But this was their reality.

I spoke to more politicians. I spoke to more engineers, conspiracy theorists, tenured professors, athletes, hippies, famous actresses and musicians, positing them with the same what-if questions, and they gave me answers.

But I’d lost the spark that allowed me to write a quarter of a million words in ninety days. I felt that my inspiration had been replaced by lethargy. I started writing without purpose, without goal, and wrote a draft for Children of the Halo’s sequel over the course of a few months and ended up with a story that was out of place with the original intent with which I had started.

I was unimpressed.

So, tabula rasa. I wiped the slate clean and didn’t look at it again for two years. I believed the inspiration had been lost.

It wasn’t until this year that I discovered why I had lost the will to write. It wasn’t because of a lack of inspiration -- I’d always had that. By going out with friends and being social, I was inspired in character interaction. By listening to slam poetry and great music, I was inspired to convey emotion through my writing. By engaging my spirituality, I was able to think much more deeply about who my characters were. By watching movies I was turned on to the tropes that could very well apply to the story. The inspiration from these and other sources were more than what I needed to complete the next book.

But I was still lacking something. My will to write had been misplaced.

I had lost track of why I chose to write after my first book. And that is something that we, as writers, must never lose track of.

When I originally wrote Children of the Halo, it was purely because I wanted an avenue with which to invite others to play in my imagination. After monetizing my book, it had become about exposure. About being seen and gaining attention. It was no longer about what I could do for readers, but about what readers could do for me.

And it took a heated argument with a New-York Times bestselling fantasy author (whose identity may be discovered by one well-versed in the art of Google-Fu) to make me realize that if you lose track of why you write, inspiration matters very little.

And so, I invite all of you, published, unpublished or aspiring writers to always keep in mind why you write. Write it down and post it up where you’ll see it every day. Make a sticker and put it on your laptop, above your computer monitor or on the inside cover of your notebook. Motivation trumps inspiration every time.

Now, to this very day, there is a phrase posted on the wall in my writing room. It contains five very simple words, and serves as a constant reminder to who I am as a writer.

It says, “I write for the reader.”

About EJ Spurrell

Emmerson James Spurrell was born at the very tender age of zero. Despite his general lack of uniqueness when stacked up against the rest of the human race, he nonetheless strove to carve out his own path through life, resulting in events equally wondrous and disastrous. Then he started writing.

Thus far, he’s released Engines of Creation: Children of the Halo, the first installment of a fantasy epic mixing modern machinery and magic, and Persephone: Twenty Past Midnight, a post-apocalyptic jaunt through what used to be Vancouver, BC. As of October, 2012, he is also releasing the much-anticipated sequel to Children of the Halo, entitled The Liar’s Law as a web-serial. All three may be read through his website at, and a special print version of Children of the Halo will soon be available for purchase.

He currently resides in Victoria, British Columbia where he works his butt off for a living and spends copious amounts of time with hippies in Fernwood.

October 23, 2012 — 975 words

Do You Know Your Zombies?

By Guest Author

by Dina Rae

With the so-called zombie apocalypse approaching, one must be educated about the two different kinds of zombies before prepping for defense.

First, there is the most common and believable: the human that turns into a zombie because of mental collapse, disease, infection, and/or radiation. They stagger around dazed and confused and cause panic in others.

Second, there is the man-made monster kind, the kind that Hollywood and horror authors like me tend to capitalize on. It is this kind I want to talk about today.

Man-made zombies continue to fascinate the world. Jeffrey Dahmer drilled holes and poured acid into his victim’s heads in the hopes of creating his own zombies. His madness didn’t work.

But are these supernatural monsters even real?

According to Wade Davis, author of The Serpent of the Rainbow, zombies are real and are a product of the Voodoo religion.

Mr Davis was originally hired by a pharmaceutical company to find out about the drugs Voduists used in their death rituals. He believed that datura, also known as zombie’s cucumber, was a plant that could medically make one who ingested it appear to be dead for a certain length of time.

Sounds like the stuff Juliet used to fake her own death. Could Shakespeare have known about the magical zombie-making plant?

Datura -- or sometimes cimora, a close relative of datura’s -- eventually wears off, but leaves the victim in a state of confusion, highly susceptible to the art of persuasion.

Presto! A zombie slave is at the captor’s disposal.

Mr Davis didn’t just find his datura flower; he witnessed zombie phenomena as he immersed himself within the Haitian culture.

And I have followed in his footsteps with my release Bad Juju, a unique blend of horror, romance, and fantasy. Other than The Serpent and the Rainbow, I read volumes of other Voodoo material and watched hours of TV specials.

Some of the terms I learned can be found below:

  • Bokor: A wizard who practices black magic, a zombie maker.
  • Loa: deity/spirit
  • Ghede Family: A family of loas known as the spirits of the dead. Three barons rule the family: Baron Samedi is the loa of resurrection, Baron Kriminel is the most feared loa associated with cannibalism and souls, honored on The Day of the Dead, and Baron LaCroix is the loa of the dead and sexuality.
  • Poppet: Voodoo doll
  • Ti-bon-ange: Or “little good angel” -- the part of the soul that represents a person’s individuality.
  • Gros-bon-ange: Or “great good angel” -- the part of the soul that is collected into a reservoir of the Cosmos or spirit world.
  • Baka: Voodoo spirits in animal form.
  • Loup Garou: werewolf
  • Djab: a devil
  • Dessounin: Death ritual that separates the gros-bon-ange from the body.
  • Bizango Society: Secret society of Vodouists. They have Freemason-like qualities such as aprons, secret handshakes, oaths, hierarchy, and symbols. Legend states they change into animals at will. They are known for stealing black cats and boiling them to death for Voodoo services. They drink each other’s blood from a human skull chalice.

With the zombie apocalypse approaching, you need to be prepared. So if your knowledge of man-made zombies is lacking, Bad Juju is here to help.

About Bad Juju

Jake LaRue lives in Wisconsin, in foster care with his abusive uncle. His situation seems helpless until new neighbor Lucien Nazaire, a Haitian fleeing from his homeland, invites Jake into the world of Voodoo.

The power of Voodoo is addictive. Jake brings his classmate Henry Novak into the fold -- a boy with Asperger's Syndrome who fixates on historical events, most recently the 2010 Haitian earthquake. The boys grow passionate about the dark side of Voodoo, casting spells on those they hate and lust to dire consequences.

It couldn't get worse... until Henry convinces his family to volunteer in Haiti's reconstruction after the earthquake. Their mission turns into a nightmare when he mysteriously walks off of the campsite.

Purchase from Amazon for £2.99.

About Dina Rae

Dina lives with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs outside of Chicago.  She is a Christian, an avid tennis player, movie buff, and self-proclaimed expert on several conspiracy theories. She has been interviewed numerous times in e-zines, websites, blogs, newspapers, and radio programs. When she is not writing she is reading novels from her favorite authors: Dan Brown, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Brad Thor, George R.R. Martin, and Preston Childs. She also freelances for various entertainment blogs. You can find her on her website, blog, or twitter.


This guest post is part of the FMB Blog Tour, with prizes up for grabs!
Click here for the full tour schedule.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 18, 2012 — 1,477 words

To Be a Villain by Leigh Cameron


When I started out, I spent a long time saving things from trees.  When people tell the story, it's always a cat.  I think the whole practice started in the south.  Cats matter more; they're living things.  And people would say puppies if they could, but puppies don't often climb trees.

If you want big stories you have to do big story things.  There are only so many cat-and-tree incidents that a paper can write about.  But I guess if you do it for the paper, you're in the wrong business.

One time, I was sitting at the little corner bistro with those grilled million-cheese sandwiches, and the TV was switched to the news. They were showing videos of some crash, or explosion or something; whoever was piloting the helicopter didn't understand that he could get a better view if he was outside the column of smoke. I waited to read the halting closed captioning to catch up. While the anchors grinned at some cat video, and while I began to resent cats, the captioning read that...Well, I forget exactly. Train derailed? No, a house-fire. I don't know, but I'll tell you about the plane crash.

I sloshed the rest of my coffee down my throat before pocketing my sandwich. A million cheeses don't come out cheap and that day I decided I'd be damned if I waited in that kind of line to leave it all on the table. Let me tell you, a scalded esophagus makes it hard to believe it's any better than just eating the money itself. Though, I'm sure my intestines don't appreciate exact change as much as I do.

I flew down the highway, passing at least one cop. I think I went fast enough by him that he gave up the chase before it started. I respect his ability to prioritize. The smoke appeared to my left, but I had to give up on the confused British voice that served as my GPS because it refused to let me know where to go unless it was in the loop too. I know now that there was a more direct route, but making a U-turn would have put me in a sour mood.

When I got to the site, there were more cops so I played it cool. They don't really take kindly to non-cops. I could see the firefighters were making slow work of the wreckage. They were at that point of having to consider endangering their lives and making heavy decisions. Heroism stuff.

The plane had been split in two, lying a good distance apart, but close enough to be considered a single disaster area. One part had the majority of the passengers, and other was about to explode. One options weighed a lot more so I went for it. I hadn't gotten to eat my sandwich yet.

And it turned out that the other part did explode. The entire field shook and everyone dropped to their knees. I found myself clutching my pocket.

As I worked through the main part of the cabin I was thankful for that boost of caffeine, throat be damned. I like it when things work out.

My story was in the paper, but I didn't know it until the next day when I caught my name in print before it drained into the sewer.

I took a few weeks off after that. I tried some painting, ate some tacos, caught up on my cartoons. It was a good vacation, and I deserved it.

Eventually I found my way back to the bistro and read about a robbery in progress down the street. I was blessed with convenience. It was even a nice day so I drove with the windows down. The Brit took me to a bank where I rolled my eyes. I mean, haven't they figured out a better system for this? And by 'they' I mean either the burglars, who always get caught, or the banks, which always get robbed.

When I stepped out of the car, there was a guy. A guy in charge. And in costume. Just taking charge. So I approached him.

And he said to me, “Stop right there, Villain."

I did stop. I turned slowly to the gathering crowd, all looking to the other guy in expectation. All I got were nervous glances, like I was that spider crawling up the wall you can't help but keep an eye on.  If it gets any closer, suddenly it's filled with malicious intent.

And then it did fill me with malicious intent.  I balled a fist imagining the feeling of his trachea.  I imagined the shooting pain in my knuckles as they connected with his jaw.  He had a strong jaw; it would hurt like hell, but it would be worth it.

“Say what now?” That's what I said to him. I leaned over to see past him and watch two men in ski masks peer out of the bank. They're in luck; all eyes are on 'Hero' here in front of me. I thought to myself, maybe I am the villain he's lecturing about because at this moment, all I want is to see them drive off with the money while he harangues for the next few hours.

“I think you planned the whole thing.” He pointed a finger at me.

“The conspiracy route?” I nodded to myself. Could pique some interest.

That's when it hit me. I am in it for the papers. I mean, look at me now, here with you. Listing off my story.

Sorry, I don't mean to laugh, it just hit me now too that this is kind of a monologue. You know, a villain thing.

Anyway, he continues. “Trying to make yourself look like a hero. Have the city in the palm of your hand,” he accuses, I should say. Actually, that sounds more annoying than anything.

“Exploit people, manipulate them to get what you want.”

“Well, as long as no gets hurt...” I mean, is it totally immoral?

“It's an intricate plan. And subtle. A clever disguise.”

“You might even consider words like diabolical.” I remember thinking that I shouldn't joke. Story of my life.

“But you don't realize how many people you hurt.”

I'm trying to think, but I don't have any permits for weapons, and I'm pretty sure my only jail time was related to alcohol. I guess I have thought about hurting people. But very certain people. I squinted at him to really get my point across. “You've lost me.”

“It was months ago,” he inhaled a long breath.

He could definitely see the pain on my face.

“There was a fire uptown.” He looked off in the distance and I started thinking about how life stories might be my kryptonite.

“And you were there. Impossibly fast.”

I was squinting again. I'm pretty sure that was when my bistro was under construction. That stupid place uptown boasted it was better but it sure as hell never satisfied any cravings.

“And you jumped in like you'd been there a hundred times. Somehow you knew exactly what you were doing.”

Now I'm angry at that place. I wonder if it's out of business yet.

“That little house that I grew up in.”

And so thankful for my usual bistro. I'm having a vague craving for a sandwich. At that point I was hoping he wasn't asking me questions.

“And now they're dead.”

I had no answer for that. And still no chance of a sandwich anytime soon. “Listen, man, I\'m not who you think I am.” Thinking back, I wonder if that came out wrong? “Blaming me isn't going to bring your family back.” Yeah, still wrong. Maybe worse.

“It doesn't matter. I'm here to make sure no one suffers you the same way.”

I knew something was about to happen. Thank the stars, right? “Maybe I just like to climb ladders. Stand stoically on precarious ledges. Get in fights with jerks.” Or conversations.

“You think you're fearless.” I liked the look on his face as the thought resonated.

“Better yet, I’m feelingless,” I offered.

He stood there pondering the meaning of life for a while.

I couldn't take it anymore. I just went for it, you know? “Hey,” I suggested, “you need someone to chase, I need an adrenaline rush. We can help each other out.”

“What does that mean?” He could have been scratching his head, I don't know.

For the love o’—. “These folks need a show. You gonna avenge your family or what?”

*      *      *

Leigh Cameron recently earned a Literary Studies/Philosophy degree from Iowa State University. She's hoping to keep her accomplishments relevant with sporadic writing endeavors. Currently, she is finding out what it really takes to write a novel.

October 18, 2012 — 537 words

Best Before…

By Letitia Coyne

I’ve discovered that people have use by dates.

Well, maybe they are ‘best before…’.

People have a taste in music that was born in the years that they cared about words and beats and such. People like a particular style of clothes. Most of us can find something to wear prêt-à-porter, but it never quite gives us the feeling or the look we know was our best. Far too many of us get about with the hair style we chose in our golden years. It’s dated now and youngsters whisper, ‘Is the hair on purpose?’, but we carefully apply the heated rollers, firm hold gel, and gossamer steel hairspray each day before we leave the house.

There is a great deal of hard-edge painted on eyeliner gadding about. Often it is teamed with platinum blonde hair that is edging toward the purple-grey discount home bleaching kit shades and single-hair width eyebrows, but once it was THE look and we knew we had IT.

Once we were the cutting edge. Once we were the Avant-garde and we were shaking it with the best.

Even authors knew there was a way to put words on a page.

Once there were rules – but although they seemed to be set in stone, the overview of language shows it was actually always fluid. Even if teachers in the forties and fifties and sixties whacked our knuckles and berated us as fools when we misplaced a comma or couldn’t remember our Latin roots, they were really only commanding their own brief and glorious moment of literary certainty. A passing fashion. Not only have those rules all changed, the world does not want to have to recall them. Fashion, as Oscar so wisely pointed out in regard to clothes, is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months. Language buys us a little longer than six months, but it still passes and is just as despised.

It doesn’t matter if we wrote revolution in the 50s or beat in the 60s or psychedelics in the 70s or punk in the 80s or glorified capitalism in the 90s or apocalyptica in the 00s or Sparkly YA primers in the 10s, it is hard to shake the formula that made sense and spoke truths to the masses when we were flying ahead of the winds of change. We are creatures of habit. We repeat what we know. If it doesn’t seem to work, we do it again with even more determination.

Some very lucky people have an eye for the classics. They choose labels that do not date; their hair is simple elegance and their make-up barely there natural beauty. They loved the bands that lasted and they know their classical canon. Chanel No. 5 has never been out of style. They are widely read, and when it comes to writing they come like water and like wind they go. Wondrous superhuman creative paragons. All praise to them.

Most people shine briefly and then the world moves on.

People have use by dates.

I wish it wasn’t so.