Monthly Archives: March 2017

Flash Fiction Friday Number 5: Jungleworld

It’s your favorite time of the week again. And not just because it’s almost the weekend. It’s also Flash Fiction Friday. Your weekly snippet of fiction from yours truly. I hope you’ve been looking forward to it all week. I know I have.

I like to call this one;

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Jungleworld

He felt like the plants were watching him. They way they seemed to turn as he passed them gave him an uneasy feeling. The wind rustling their leaves sounded almost like some strange language he couldn’t possibly understand. Yet at the same time, it seemed they were whispering to him as much as to each other.

Up ahead, the path he was following through the thick jungle was coming to an end. Did he dare attempt to bushwhack through this strange foliage? Just when he thought he was going to have to make his own path whether he wanted to or not, the wind shifted and the path opened before him. To his exhausted brain, it looked almost as if the plants moved aside to let him through.

He had been flying past the planet scanning for signs of life. While there was plenty of plant life, he could find nothing with a heartbeat. He’d just marked the planet as possibly viable for colonization when he noticed an anomaly. While the planet was almost completely covered with vegetation, he’d spotted a barren patch roughly two square miles wide. Normally, this wouldn’t have bothered him, but from his vantage point, it appeared to be littered with dozens, maybe even hundreds of wrecked spacecraft. He’d just begun to make a note of it in his book when something struck his ship.

When he woke up, his ship was just another wreck in the graveyard. He was grateful that the abundance of plant life produced breathable air because the visor on his helmet was shattered. Luckily, other than for a few small scratches on his face from the broken plexiglass, he seemed to be uninjured.

He knew the smart thing to do would be to stay with his ship, but he felt an overwhelming compulsion to explore the jungle. Besides, all the strange wrecked vessels creeped him out. At least he hadn’t seen any remains of their pilots. Maybe rescue wasn’t out of the question.

It seemed he’d been walking for days. All he wanted to do was find a soft spot to stop and take a nap. Still, something told him he had to keep moving. That was the important thing. Just put one foot in front of the other and hope the plants would keep letting him pass. A vine reached out to him and wrapped around his wrist. He barely noticed as he kept moving through the thick foliage. The path before him shifted this way and that, as if the plants themselves were guiding him somewhere.

He found himself in a large clearing with a massive purple flower standing in the very center. The flower’s petals looked like purple velvet blankets surrounding a pillow of gold. He couldn’t see a path exiting the clearing. He turned around to go back the way he’d come, but that path had closed to him as well. The vines whipped back and forth almost menacingly. The air was suddenly thick with the sweet scent of the flower.

He felt a calm wash over him as he breathed in the perfume and felt silly for seeing the vines as menacing just a moment before.

I’m clearly exhausted, he thought to himself. I just need a little nap.

Without another thought, he climbed onto the humongous purple flower. The center of the flower was every bit as soft as it had looked. He laughed as puffs of pollen jetted into the air with his every movement. As he drifted off, he realized he could understand the whispering of the plants after all. It was just that there were so many voices, he could only understand them now that they were all saying the same thing.

“Join us.” The voices chanted in unison.

Soon he was slumbering deeply. He never even felt the petals enfold him as they began to digest his body.

.     .     .

Well. That turned out darker than I’d intended. I don’t know why so much of what I post here has such a dark ending. I honestly don’t plan these things. I just sit down and start writing whatever comes into my head. Maybe I need therapy.

Anyway, that’s it for this week.

If you like this, follow me and be sure to like this post.

I’m still trying to reach 100 subscriptions on my YouTube channel. I only need nine more to reach my goal. Please check it out and see what you think. If you like it, I’d really appreciate your sub.

Your questions and comments are always welcome. If there’s a topic you’d like to see me address in my blog or my vlog, send me a message at any of these sites.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

Don’t forget, I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Monday’s are a rundown of what I’m reading. Wednesday’s are my general writing blog, and of course, there’s Flash Fiction Friday.

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What I’ve Been Up To Since Returning From Pitchfest/Thrillerfest In NYC

So I bet you thought we were done with story time. You thought wrong. Hopefully I’ll be able to bring you up to present with this post, but buckle in. It’s going to be a long one.

First, I need to explain our living situation prior to my trip. Shannon and I were living in the basement apartment of a house my mom owned. Yes, I was living in my mom’s basement. She rented out the upper part of the house to people coming to the area on vacation. Now, before you start asking why people would come here on vacation, I’ll list a few nearby attractions. Mount Rushmore of course, Deadwood, The Black Hills, Custer State Park, Badlands National Park, and the big money maker, Sturgis. I helped manage the property and the grounds.

Now that you know the backstory, I’ll tell you what happened upon my return to South Dakota. Prior to my leaving, the stars aligned for us to buy the house we were living in. My mom wanted to get out of the vacation rental business so she could concentrate on her actual bed and breakfast and making gourmet breakfasts for her guests.

Please check out her website if you’re ever planning to make a trip to Rapid City or the surrounding area. https://www.amiestjeanbedandbreakfast.com/ It’s a wonderful little place for a couples retreat and it’s within walking distance to restaurants and nightlife.

Unfortunately, Shannon and I could never have afforded the house on our own. Then a friend of ours told us that her lease on the apartment she was renting was coming up, and she had been told her rent would be going up. We quickly hatched a plan. We would move out of our basement apartment into the upstairs and move our friend into the basement. Money would be tight, but with the rent we got from her, we would just be able to make it.

So the moment I returned from my trip, we frantically started packing. Unfortunately, she had renters through the Sturgis motorcycle rally, so we couldn’t start moving upstairs just yet. We had to content ourselves with getting as much packed up as we could so we would be ready as soon as the last renters left. Boxes quickly filled our living room. I dragged my feet when it came to packing up my office in hopes I would get a little time behind the keyboard. No such luck. We couldn’t believe how much stuff we had accumulated in the years we had lived down there. I wish I could say we threw a lot of it out, but we were in such a hurry, we just packed everything in hopes of sorting through it when we unpacked. More on that later.

The rest of June flew by and the rumble of motorcycle engines told us the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally had begun. I took a weekend off from packing to enjoy a couple of days at the rally.

sturgis

I had a great time, but by Monday it was back to the grind. Luckily, (not so much for my mom) my mom’s renters decided the pretty little house with hardwood floors and a huge bathroom with a shower and whirlpool bath wasn’t up to their standards and left early.

Now it was time to start the actual move. It would have been nice to unpack as we moved, but no such luck. Our friend had to be out of her apartment by the end of the month, so we ended up putting all the boxes in the room that was to become my new office. It went from this,

Empty

To this, in a matter of days.

full

The furniture was another story. Luckily by then we were able to place our furniture roughly where we wanted it. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my younger cousin and a friend though. I like to think of myself as strong, but I’m not the young buck I once was. I ended up overdoing it and throwing out my back which laid me up for several days.

Once we finally got everything out, it was time to make it ready for our friend. This involved thoroughly shampooing the carpet and doing everything else we could to remove any trace of cat hair for our allergic friend.

Once we got her moved in, we still had our mountain of stuff to contend with. As I said, we had planned to get rid of things we didn’t need as we unpacked. This didn’t happen. In short, we were tired of living in a war zone, so the easiest way to deal with anything we weren’t sure what to do with is throw it in the attic to be dealt with later. And there it still sits. I keep promising myself that I will start bringing it down one box at a time, to be sorted through.

Sadly, just when it seemed life was starting to get back to normal and we were down to our last dozen or so boxes, tragedy struck. A dear family member passed away unexpectedly in an accident. The grieving process was terrible. Once everyone had come to terms with the fact that she was gone, there was her estate to contend with. If we thought sorting through the stuff we’d collected over the course of our short time downstairs was difficult, we were in for a surprise. Imagine how much stuff you collect over the course of a lifetime.

I have to give thanks to Shannon’s uncle who took the reins as executor. Shannon and I were at a loss for where to even start. I still feel guilty that we weren’t more help.

As soon as I had everything out of the second bedroom, I got to work sorting out my office.The first things to go in were the couch and my grandfather’s old bookcase. I would have liked to have put a bed in instead of the couch, but there just wasn’t enough room.couch

Next came my grandfather’s reading lamp which had been in storage for years. I finally had a ceiling high enough to use it. Of course the small bookcase was barely big enough to house my writing reference books, so I needed something bigger. I was going to just buy a cheap one, but then inspiration struck. (Or maybe it was pinterest.) I started with ten wooden crates and stacked them to see how they would look.

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I liked the look, but they were too nice. I needed something more rustic, so I aged them and put an appropriate logo on them. I’m a pirate at heart, after all. Bonus points if you recognize the logo.

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With that done, I set my mind to finishing my writing space.

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And that brought us to Thanksgiving. We literally unpacked the last box the day before. I had volunteered to cook and host at our house. My mom has always done it in the past, but I thought that I could take some of the work off of her shoulders. Besides, I’m a pretty good cook if I say so myself.

Thanksgiving went off without a hitch. Everyone seemed to enjoy my food and we all had a good time. Luckily, we aren’t the type that has family drama that ruins holidays.

Of course, as soon as the turkey was eaten, it was time to get ready for Christmas. I spent way too much money, but it was worth it to see the smiles on everyone’s faces.

Following closely on Christmas’ heels was of course New Year’s Eve. For once, I had the night off. I’m sorry to report that Shannon and I stayed in and were yawning long before the ball dropped. When it did, we had our new year’s kiss and headed off to bed.

I blinked, and January was half over. Still, I decided to do what amounts to a resolutions vlog on my YouTube channel even if it was two weeks late. I won’t even go into what my resolutions were because I failed miserably on most counts.

Not long after that vlog, I had an incident at work involving a criminal who had come in off the street. When I ran him off, he threatened to come back with friends. I played brave, but I have to admit, I was a little scared, especially when he showed back up about a week later. I immediately called the police, even though he claimed to have been so high, he didn’t remember threatening me in the first place.

I gave him ample warning, but he was there when the police arrived. Upon searching him, they found enough drugs to arrest him on a class five felony. I was ordered to appear before a grand jury and give testimony in the case. Now, I suffer from anxiety on the best of days, but this sent me over the edge. I wasn’t so much concerned for myself, but a quick google search for my name made it clear how easy it was to find my address. I didn’t want him to come looking for me and find Shannon. I did everything I could to remove any personal information from the internet, but that took time. In the meantime, he posted bail.

Apparently, all my stressing was for naught. It seems the same day he got out, he was arrested for shoplifting and another felony drug offense. Needless to say, he was back in immediately without bail. Hopefully he goes away for a long time. At least long enough to forget about me. If he even remembers me at all with all the drugs.

Finally, just when it seemed I might be able to get some work done, I had a tooth blow up on me. It was luckily just a dull throb, but it was enough to keep me from concentrating for the two weeks it took me to get in to the dentist.

Once my tooth was fixed, it was time to celebrate my fortieth birthday in style. We went to the local speakeasy. I started with a glass of absinthe.

absinthe

I know there were more drinks after that, but I honestly can’t recall what they were. There was an option on the menu for three courses of the bartender’s choosing. I was told what they all were, but just don’t remember at this point. They were all tasty and very strong.

Starting at the beginning of March, I began blogging faithfully. I now post three times a week. Mondays, I recap what I’ve read/am currently reading. Wednesdays (today) is a general blog. This is where I’ll share what I’ve been up to writing wise or whatever else I feel like sharing. I’m also hoping to answer your questions and comments so message me on my social pages. I’ll post links below. Finally, Fridays are Flash Fiction Fridays. I post very short stories, just to give you an idea of my writing style and hopefully leave you wanting more.

I’m also starting to vlog on YouTube more often. I’m hoping to do at least one a week. I’m still trying to nail down a good day though. I tried Friday, but that didn’t work out. Maybe Wednesday. I also bought an action camera to post bonus videos of my motorcycle rides through the black hills.

I hate to admit this, but with my life in complete upheaval, I haven’t actually gotten much real writing done. That’s finally changing though. I’m working on a regular writing schedule and the words are flowing again. I’m experimenting with outlining once again. I’ve never had much luck with it, but I’m trying to approach it with a more open mind this time.

And that brings us up to the present. Needless to say it’s been a crazy year, but at least it’s given me things to blog about. Now to think of what I’m going to write about next week.

Anyway, I’ll see you on Friday.

As always, don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

 

 

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It’s Monday! Starters, Enders, The Man In The High Castle, 5000 Words Per Hour

Starters, By Lissa Price

13512021I finished this one just after my post last week and I have to say, this book was great. I’m a big fan of dystopian YA in the first place, but this put a very interesting spin on the genre. One of the big questions in any YA book is, “Why does the main character have to deal with this? Why doesn’t she go to a parent/police, etc.?” In this series, the world is divided into starters (the young) and Enders (the elderly). All the middles are dead. If you’re an unclaimed starter, you have basically no rights. Most enders see you as street trash. Starters aren’t allowed to have jobs to ensure Enders don’t get forced out of theirs. Basically, enders are seen as the enemy. I’ll stop there, but I highly recommend this book. Also, I know I’ve said this before, but Mrs. Price is an absolute sweetheart. I got to meet her last summer at Pitchfest/Thrillerfest and she was very helpful and supportive.

Enders, by Lissa Price

51J+favcB4L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ If you haven’t guessed already, this is the sequel to Starters. It continues the story of Callie and Michael, and adds a few new characters. Her, and a group of other metals, (starters with chips in their heads) are being rounded up by various factions looking to use them for their own nefarious purposes. I don’t want to give too much away, because I want you to read it for yourself. Also, because I’m only about three-quarters of the way through, and although I have some ideas, I don’t know for sure how it ends yet.

If I do have one criticism for the series, it’s this. I know Callie’s a teenage girl, but she seems to have a bad habit of developing feelings for every guy her age she spends any amount of time with. A bad idea in a world where it seems everyone is out to use her. Still, that’s a minor criticism and I have to admit that, though thankfully not every teenage girl is like that, it is a character trait I’ve seen in some. Just my two cents.

Still, I’ve loved both books so far, even though at times, you just want something to go right for her.

One last thing. The tagline for this book is “The end is about to begin”. However, Mrs. Price signed my book and gave me a possible secret message. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

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The Man In The High Castle, by Philip K. Dick

2016-12-19-1482180717-9274817-themaninthehighcastlepaperback I have made absolutely no progress on this one. It’s been relegated to a “bathroom book”. It’s there in the bathroom for me to read if I should forget my phone or the book I’m reading. I really need to just buckle down and finish it, but quite frankly, I’m bored with it at this point. Still, I’ve never been beaten by a book, so I will finish it. Maybe something extremely exciting will happen in the last few pages, but I’m not going to hold my breath. This is one of the rare cases where the movie (okay, t.v. series) is better than the book. I won’t post about this one again until I finish it.

5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter by Chris Fox

51gqAWVUU4L I finished this one fairly quickly. While it was a short read, it was very informational. As I expected, a lot of the speed in writing comes from extensive preparation. As I’ve stated before, I’m a pantser. I’ve tried outlining in the past and have had no luck with it. I find if I know too much about my story, I get bored and eventually lose interest. Still, this book makes me wonder if I should try it once more. I still don’t ever expect to get to five thousand words an hour (I’m just not that fast a typer.) Even if I can get to three thousand a day, I’d actually finish projects. I’m starting to think if I had a basic roadmap, I might not get lost so much. I’m going to try outlining in “Daughters of the Flame”, the sequel to my short-story Bloodmoon, and second in the Children of Pyrelia series.

So that’s it for today. I’ve included Amazon links to all of the books above just in case you want to check them out. Just click on the title, or the cover and it’ll take you there.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

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Flash Fiction Friday Number 4: Reymir’s Savior

Welcome to another Flash Fiction Friday. On a Saturday. Apologies. The time got away from me yesterday. So since we’re already running late, let’s get into it. Shall we?

What I have for you today is actually a prequel to my Children Of Pyrelia series. So far, Bloodmoon is the only published part, but it will soon be followed by Daughters of the Flame.

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Reymir’s Savior

Reymir wandered down the dirt road that ran through his village, dwelling on his misfortunes. There were almost too many to count. He had always been the fat kid. Other kids made fun of him mercilessly. Girls were out of the question. His father was an abusive addict, but nevertheless was a village elder, so nobody would speak out against him. And then there was Bearok.

“Hey fat boy. Do you have to take up the whole road?” A voice came from behind him.

“What?” He said, turning around. He had been so engrossed in his myriad miseries that the surprise of being torn from them made it come out sounding more angry than he had intended. As if summoned by Reymir’s mere thoughts, he found himself face to face with Bearok, his constant tormentor.

Bearok’s face registered surprise for a flash of a moment before returning to his default sneer as Reymir cowered before him.

“I said you’re in my way, fat ass.” Bearok said, pushing him to the ground.

Reymir curled into a ball on the ground, covering his head in anticipation of the beating to come. His years of experience with his father’s temper had trained him for this. He squeezed his eyes shut and prayed for his mother to come and rescue him. An odd thing for him to do since she had died giving birth to him. His father had implied on numerous occasions that it was his size, even then,  that had killed her.

Reymir waited for the first punch to land, but it never did. He felt a hand on his shoulder and flinched. The hand didn’t hurt. It gently squeezed his shoulder. He cautiously opened his eye, just in case it was some sort of trick.

It wasn’t Bearok at all. It was Terek, the son of the chieftain. He extended a hand to help Reymir up from the dirt. Reymir looked around and saw Bearok standing a few feet away, holding his nose and hate burning in his eyes. As Reymir watched, blood began to seep between his fingers.

Bearok mumbled something unintelligible but clearly threatening before running away. Terek helped Reymir to his feet.

“You okay?” Terek asked, genuine concern on his face.

“Yeah. He just pushed me.”

“Well if he ever touches you again, come get me. I’ll handle him.”

Reymir nodded and immediately made himself a promise. If Terek were ever in trouble, he’d make sure he was nearby to help. He owed his savior that much.

.     .     .

And that’s it. I wrote this story in part to satisfy a friend who wanted a little more backstory on Terek and Reymir. I hope you enjoyed it. As I said earlier, part two in the series is coming soon.

I’ll see you on Monday with an update on what I’m reading.

As always, be sure to stalk me online. Also, I hate to beg, but I’m really trying to reach 100 subscribers on my YouTube channel, so please check it out and, if you like what you see, subscribe.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

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Loose In The Big Apple

Before we get into it today, I just wanted to give you an update on me. I’ve been getting much more serious about my career as a writer. As you probably know, I’ve been blogging regularly, so that’s a major hurdle I’ve been struggling with for years.

I also just relaunched my YouTube channel. I’m still trying to reach the century mark so I can claim my custom URL, but I’m still a bit shy of the hundred subscribers I need. I would greatly appreciate it if you would go and subscribe.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxzUrv09aOM6JrnsZy5EyAw

I have been writing more regularly, although I’m not to the point of doing it every day just yet. Still, words are flowing again and I hope to have more published very soon. I probably would have gotten much more writing done this weekend, but we had some great weather and I just couldn’t resist jumping on my motorcycle and feeling the wind in my beard.

Now then, back to our regularly scheduled story.

Well kiddies, we’ve come to the end. I had just finished Thrillerfest and Pitchfest. I had a few well-deserved drinks and got some much-needed rest.

The next day, I was up bright and early and ready to roam free in NYC. I started by going online and booking tickets for a matinee. I spent longer than I should have deciding what I wanted to see. Of course, Hamilton was right out. Still, there were many other shows I would have liked to have seen. I could probably spend a month there and still not see everything I wanted to see. Besides, considering Shannon was a theater major her first time through college, she would have killed me if I had gone to see certain shows without her.

I finally settled on one that I’d always wanted to see but never had the opportunity. Les Miserables. Yes, I’d seen the movie, but there’s nothing like seeing a show on the stage. That decided, I quickly showered and made my way to the heart of Manhattan. Of course, I found myself with a few hours to kill, so I decided to treat myself to a nice lunch.

On a friend’s advice, I wandered in to Carmine’s. Unfortunately, my friend didn’t mention that on some days, they only serve food family style. Still, I had been saving for this trip for quite a while and had plenty of money to spend. I had planned on eating well the entire trip, but it just hadn’t worked out that way. So I decided to splurge and go for it even though I was by myself. I was expecting a lot of food, but i wasn’t expecting this.

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So that was my meal for the day. It was absolutely delicious and I have no regrets. When I was done, I realized I had to get to the theater. I didn’t want to throw away such excellent food, so I ended up taking it into the theater. Nobody stopped me, so I went with it.

As I entered the theater, I was happy with my choice of plays since the doors proclaimed that Les Mis. was in its final days on Broadway.

My tickets weren’t the best. I was up in the balcony, at the very end of the row.

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Still, the theater was well designed and I could see well enough. On the plus side, I was seated next to a gaggle of Russian models, which was nice.

From the moment the curtain went up, I was on the edge of my seat. I’m not ashamed to say, I cried at all the appropriate times. By the end of the show, I was in complete awe.

Once the show was over, I spent some time wandering around the theater district. I had to make a stop by the Majestic where I had seen The Phantom of the Opera back in middle school.

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I made sure to buy Shannon some souvenirs. Unfortunately, I was traveling light so I couldn’t buy too much. I’ll make it up to her someday by taking her there on a theater trip.

Once I was tired of walking around and sightseeing, I made my way back to The Jane where I finally ate the leftovers I’d been carrying around all day. I then went up to the rooftop bar for a nightcap before turning in for the night.

The next day, I had no real agenda. I’d done everything I really wanted to do. Sure, I could have done the touristy things like the statue of liberty and such, but I just decided to wander.

I went into several gift shops, looking for a souvenir for myself, but it seemed every shop had exactly the same inventory.

Then I found it. The perfect reminder of my trip to NYC. Still, I talked myself out of it. I wandered off, but it kept eating at me until I decided I just had to have it. Of course by then, I had completely forgotten which store held my prize. After revisiting several shops, I finally found it and wasted no time buying it.

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Yes, it’s the ducky tie from How I Met Your Mother. Well, it’s a little different. I’m guessing because of licensing issues, but it’s close enough.

My prize stored safely in my backpack, I decided I had to have a drink at The Algonquin. The place where the legen-wait for it-dary Algonquin Round Table once met.

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I took a seat in The Blue Bar and ordered. It may be cliche, but I had to try their signature drink. A Manhattan of course. It was delicious. I only had the one. I didn’t relish the thought of wandering the streets of New York drunk with no idea where I was.

I then had to check out Rockefeller Plaza. of course, there was no ice rink, but I had to go there anyway. After that, I somehow found myself sitting at a table across from the Met Life building when all of a sudden, there are black cars and SUVs all over the place with flashing blue and red lights.

A door of one of the SUVs opens and who should get out? None other than Bill Clinton. I have to tell you, he didn’t look good. Now this was right in the middle of his wife’s presidential campaign, so maybe he was just tired, but he looked like hell. Still, it was my only non-literary celebrity encounter of the trip so it had to be mentioned.

By now it was getting late, so I made my way to Times Square. Big mistake. I enjoyed the approach. Particularly the street performers. Some of them were from a strip club and I was amazed they were allowed to walk around topless. I didn’t complain though.

Finally I made it to Times Square, and immediately noped out.

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The sheer press of people was way too much for someone who spends the bulk of his time sitting along in his home office. I felt my lungs constricting as my claustrophobia triggered a panic attack. I quickly turned on my heel and retreated to the safety of the strippers.

Once I got my breathing under control, I found a restaurant. I don’t even remember what it was or what I had. I just needed some food and a place to chill for a moment. At this point, the introvert had had enough human interaction and I went back to my room and watched the Disney channel. Hey, it was the only thing on.

The next day, I was scheduled to leave, but my flight wasn’t until later so I spent some time in The Jane’s other bar. I honestly wish I’d discovered it existed earlier. The rooftop bar was cool, but this place was more my style.

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Finally, I decided that I should do something quick rather than stay in the hotel all day so I asked the front desk for advice. He recommended taking the subway all the way to the end of the line and going for a ride on the Staten Island Ferry. I thought it was silly, but I was glad I did.

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And that brings my adventures in New York to a close. Next week, I’ll catch you guys up on everything that’s been going on in my life since then. It still feels like, starting with that trip in early July of last year, I’ve barely had time to breathe with everything going on. But that’s a story for next week.

As always, don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

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It’s Monday: Starters, The Man In The High Castle, part 2

Okay. I’ve been slacking on my reading. The truth is, between regular blogging, relaunching my vlog, and all the other social media duties involved with getting my name out there, not to mention finding time to actually get words on the page, I have been really neglecting my reading. Funny how I’ve had time to watch several movies and binge-watch Hawaii Five o. I really need to get my priorities straight.

Anyway.

Starters, By Lissa Price

13512021 So far, I’m loving this book Every time I pick it up, I don’t want to put it down. Unfortunately, it seems something always forces me to. Without giving too much away, I just got to a pivotal scene and things are about to get real. I almost can’t wait to finish this one so I can devour the next one. Also, a little birdie hinted to me that there might be a third on the way.

The Man In The High Castle, by Philip K. Dick

2016-12-19-1482180717-9274817-themaninthehighcastlepaperback I have to admit, I’m still struggling with this one. As much as I want to like it because it was written by one of the masters of sci-fi, I’m just not getting into it. To its credit, it does seem that something is finally going to happen. Unfortunately, I’m over 80% through the book, so it had better happen fast. At this point, I refuse to give up, but I almost feel like I’m back in high-school and being forced to read a fairly dry textbook.

5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter by Chris Fox

51gqAWVUU4L After reading the first book in the series in the course of a night at work, I quickly moved on to this one. I’ve only begun reading it, but so far it’s filled with valuable information. For me personally, I don’t know if I’ll ever get to 5,000 words per hour because his method is rooted in diligent plotting and I get bored if I know too much about my story. Even if I can reach one or two thousand words an hour, I’d be a happy man. If you like to plot, I highly recommend this series. He also has a ton of informational videos on YouTube.

That’s it for today. Sorry for the short post, but with the exception of the nonfiction title, I said pretty much all I had to say last week. Hopefully next week I’ll be back on track and I’ll have new books to tell you about.

As always, don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

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Flash Fiction Friday Number 3: Excerpt from Shadows Of Influence

Happy Flash Fiction Friday.

In honor of the fact that it’s St. Paddy’s day, I’ve decided that it’s your lucky day. Today I’m going to change things up a bit and share a short, but pivotal scene from my work in progress;

Shadows of Influence

Stephanie felt the gel slipping from her face and she opened her eyes. This time there was no disorientation. She knew exactly where she was. She had just completed her test.

The past few days had just been part of the simulation. All the pain, the abject terror, the heartbreak, had been a lie. She should have felt anger, but she was too exhausted for that. Her muscles felt like jelly, but she willed herself not to fall.

Christopher looked at her impassively as he waited his turn. She craned her neck to see the large screen above the machine as it  printed out the words “Stephanie Williams: CLASSIFIED!”.

All lethargy left her  body as she began to panic. She had heard what happened to people  whose results came back as classified. They disappeared, never to be  seen again. She tried to bolt, but the guards were already there to  catch her and haul her toward the doors.

They didn’t take her through the large double doors. Instead, at the last second, they veered left. One of the guards placed his hand against the wall and a small, hidden door opened.  As they dragged her through it, she tried to struggle free, but one of  the guards pressed a small metal object against her neck and then everything went black.

 

Want to know what happens next? You’ll just have to wait and see. With any luck, the book should be out later this year.

I’ll see you on Monday with an update on what I’m reading.

As always, be sure to stalk me online. Also, I hate to beg, but I’m really trying to reach 100 subscribers on my YouTube channel, so please check it out and, if you like what you see, subscribe.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

 

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My Trip To NYC For Thrillerfest/Pitchfest 2016 part 3

Let’s see. I was still riding high on my success at Pitchfest. Now that the really stressful part of my trip was over, a weight had lifted off my shoulders. I was now free to enjoy myself and mingle with the other writers.
First, I took a little nap in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt as our hosts were setting up for the Thrillerfest opening reception. I was amazed at how tired I was. Apparently I hadn’t been aware of how stressed I was until the reason for the stress was past. I hope I didn’t drool too much.

They opened the doors promptly at 6:30 and I got my first real taste of what the life of a writer could be like. The room was filled with authors, agents, and publishers of all levels. To be honest, I think I did more networking there than I did at Pitchfest. Of course, those of us that did attend Pitchfest wasted no time and immediately sought each-other out to compare notes. I did my best not to boast about my success, but it wasn’t easy. Especially once I’d gotten a couple cocktails in me.

Again I was amazed at the openness of the writing community there. I got lots of valuable advice from my fellow writers about both self-publishing and traditional publishing. I was given great advice on how to find a great cover designer, how to plan a book tour, and lots of other things.

Again I must admit that there were a few times where I was talking to someone and for some reason, I couldn’t help but assume that they were  on a similar level to myself, only to look down and realize it was a name I recognized. Luckily, none of them seemed offended. The food that was served was amazing, if a bit difficult to eat while navigating a room full of people you’re trying to impress. I wish I could say exactly what was served, but it was much fancier than I’m used to.

By the time the reception ended at eight, I was thoroughly exhausted and grateful when my Uber dropped me off at the front of my hotel. I went straight to my room, laid on my bed intending to rest for a bit before exploring the rooftop bar, and promptly fell asleep.

Bright and early the next morning, I was up and showered while most of my fellow hotel guests slept. I was grateful for that. Did I mention it was a communal shower?

communial-bathrooms

I decided that, considering the heat wave, and the fact that I was going to be there all day so I wanted to be comfortable, I threw on a nice polo shirt, a pair of slacks, and was out the door. Immediately, I was hit in the face with a blast of hot air. In seconds, I felt like I was covered in sweat. I probably should have called for a ride, but I decided, since I was in NYC, to experience the subway.

It was at least a mile to the nearest station, but even in the heat, I didn’t mind the walk. As I went down the stairs to the platform, I was aware of two things. First, the heat was even worse down there. It was as if I was descending into the bowels of hell itself. The second thing I noticed was the rat the size of a thanksgiving turkey running across the platform in front of me.

Luckily, the system was easy to navigate, especially since my stop was the famous Grand Central Station.

I gladly traded the heat and humidity for the almost frigid comfort of the lobby of the Grand Hyatt. I only had a moment to acclimate however, since the first set of panels started promptly at eight.

I would have loved to have attended all of the panels, but I was forced to choose between four of them each hour. I started off the morning with CHARACTER, PLOT OR LANGUAGE? YA Thrillers In Today’s World, followed by CAFFEINE, CHOCOLATE OR WINE? Writers’ Tricks To Keep You Going. I believe it was during this panel that I won a prize.

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Unfortunately, this meant I had to carry it around the rest of the day. I’m not trying to sound ungrateful, but a bottle of wine gets heavy after a while. If I’d had a corkscrew, I probably would have popped it open and shared it with a few select people.

There was a short break. Then it was on to WEREWOLVES, VAMPIRES OR WITCHES? Thrillers On The Wild Side, led by Heather Graham. Next was PAST, PRESENT OR FUTURE? Mapping Out Your Five Year Plan.

Next, was the big ITW meeting. I’m not a member, so I slipped out for lunch at Grand Central Station. I had a great hot dog and asked for a Coke. The message on my bottle seemed fitting.

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I got back just in time for, ONE, THREE OR MANY? Standalone, Trilogy, and Series Thrillers, hosted by my friend, Sandra Brannan, then wrapped up the day with BUZZ, SHOUT, OR WHISPER? How To Buzz Your Book In An Overcrowded Market. Afterward, I went to the cocktail party that wrapped up the day.

By the time I got back to my hotel, I was once again, completely exhausted. I wearily asked the front desk if there were somewhere nearby where I could just get a quick sandwich and he directed me to a small convenience store/deli a block over.

I went back u to my room, enjoyed my sandwich and my bottle of wine (don’t judge) and passed out.

The next day, I was up bright and early, but I was so tired, I barely made it in time for ITW Presents THE DEBUT AUTHOR CLASS OF 2016: Introductions by Steve Berry. I’m glad I did make it though, as it included an amazing breakfast buffet. I probably had an entire pot of coffee trying to perk myself up for the rest of the day.

After the breakfast, it was time for more panels. I started with ELLROY, HIGHSMITH OR HAMMETT? Noir At The Bar, followed by CHILLS, THRILLS OR TEEN HEROES? Young Adult Thrillers, led by Lissa Price and featuring R.L. Stine.

Next was an interview with Gillian Flynn where I found out I’d been pronouncing her name wrong. It’s a hard G.

After that was a panel I really needed. PAIN, HEARTACHE OR ELATION? Don’t Murder Your Novel Before You Finish It. I’m really bad about this. It was comforting to hear how common it really is.

Next, I couldn’t miss this. SILVER BULLET AWARD RECIPIENT JOHN LESCROART INTERVIEWED BY R.L. STINE .

I then wrapped up my Thrillerfest experience with PLOTTER, PANTSER OR HYBRID? The Pros And Cons Of Outlining.

There was a banquet following all this, but I hadn’t been aware this required an extra ticket and to be perfectly honest, I was thoroughly worn out. I slipped out and went back to my hotel. After a little nap, I went and explored the meat packing district and treated myself to an amazing burger.

I spent a good portion of that evening at the rooftop bar of the Jane, looking out over the river and fantasizing about my new life as a professional writer.

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Next week, I’m let loose on the streets of NYC, completely unsupervised. Stay tuned and I’ll see you on Friday with another piece of Flash Fiction.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

 

 

 

 

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It’s Monday! The Man In The High Castle, Starters

Hey guys.

This is the first post of this type for me. On Mondays, I’ll fill you in on what I’ve been reading. My girlfriend turned me on to this and I’m hoping it’ll help keep my reading on track.

I’ll start with, The Man In The High Castle, by Philip K. Dick2016-12-19-1482180717-9274817-themaninthehighcastlepaperback

I know it’s blasphemy, but I’m having a really hard time getting through this one. I started reading it after watching the Amazon series of the same name. (I highly recommend watching it if you have an Amazon Prime account.) Unfortunately, the book isn’t nearly as exciting as the show that was adapted from it.

Like the show, the book is about what the world would have been like had the Nazi’s and Japan won the war. Unfortunately, save for a few characters, that’s about where the similarities end.  I’m over two thirds through it and to be perfectly honest, with the exception of one brief scene, I’m still waiting for something to happen. Maybe I got my hopes up too high after watching the show, but the book so far is just what it appears to be on the face. An alternate history of the United States. Other than that, there’s no real sci-fi element so far. I’m afraid if something big doesn’t happen soon, it’s not going to.

I’m also reading Starters, By Lissa Price.

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I’m not very far into this one yet, but so far it’s fascinating. A year after the war wiped out all adults, all that are left ate the young (starters) and the elderly (enders). The enders have taken all the wealth and left the starters with nothing. Callie is a starter looking out for her little brother. Since the laws don’t allow anyone under eighteen to take a job, she resorts to the only way people her age are able to make money. She rents out her body to enders looking to relive their youth. Now, I’m not talking about prostitution. She signs with a company that’s developed a way to let enders take control of her body and live as a young girl for a time. I don’t want to give too much away, but an elderly person borrowing her body is just the beginning of her problems.

As a side note, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Price in person at Pitchfest where she coached me before I pitched to actual agents and she was incredibly sweet and helpful. I ended up buying two copies of both Starters and Enders, the sequel for her to sign. One set for Shannon and I, and another for a friend of ours who had loved Starters.

Finally, for my nonfiction selection, I read Lifelong Writing Habit: The Secret To Writing Every Day by Chris Fox

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It’s been an invaluable resource for helping me get organized and write every day (okay, okay, not every day, but I’m getting there). I’m slowly becoming more productive too, although I don’t think I’ll ever get to the five thousand words a day he says I can. I have a feeling those kinds of numbers only come with meticulous outlining and I’m a dyed in the wool pantser. To be honest, the main reason I write is for my own entertainment and I lose that if I have more than a basic idea of what might happen in the story.

Still, a lot of his advice still has value for a stubborn old pantser like me. Thanks to Mr. Fox, hopefully you’ll soon start seeing lots of new work from me. I’m reading his 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter, next. Hopefully he can get me to at least three thousand words a day.

Well, that’s about it for today. Come back on Wednesday for the rest of my adventures at Thrillerfest and, if there’s time, loose in the city.

As always, check me out at…

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

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Flash Fiction Friday Number Two: Stranded

It’s Flash Fiction Friday!!!

This week’s offering is a little sci-fi story I like to call,

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Stranded

The lone astronaut cowered under the tall trees of the oasis as the alien ship came into view. As usual, he’d heard the hum of its engines long before he could see it. He knew hiding wouldn’t do him any good. Any minute now, the ship would begin bombarding the trees to drive him out.

“Please god. If you exist, just give me the strength to wait it out this time. Better yet, let one of the bombs hit me and end this once and for all.”

He knew the latter part of his prayer was pointless. More than once, he’d run directly into the path of one of the falling bombs, only to have it veer off suddenly and explode in another part of the small forest. In the years since he’d first woken up on this desolate little asteroid, he’d tried every way he could think of to escape one way or another. Every time, some sort of automated countermeasure had stopped him.

He covered his ears as the first of the explosives detonated behind him, but it did no good. The very air around him flexed with the force of the blast. Still he squeezed his eyes shut as the bombs fell all around him. Knowing that he was safe from the blasts did nothing to allay the terror he felt. Finally, his lizard brain kicked in and through no will of his own, he felt his legs pumping for all they were worth toward the safety of the open desert.

The moment he was in the open, he heard the telltale whirring of the protective doors that covered the glass belly of the ship. He could see the various odd silhouettes of the creatures inside for a moment before hundreds of flashes of light blinded him. He lay down in the cool sand, his eyes squeezed shut until he heard the doors close again.

Once again the engines began to hum and he stood up. As the ship began to glide forward, a huge metal cube slid silently from the back of the ship. His supplies. Enough to last him the months until the next tour group came by. It must weigh hundreds, maybe even thousands of pounds, he thought.

Sudden inspiration hit and he ran toward the falling cube. He skidded to a stop, and watched the shrinking lights of the ship’s afterburners as it hurried off to what he assumed was the next exhibit. He looked up, all he could see was the underside of the massive supply crate.

He closed his eyes.

“Please.” He prayed. “Please let this work.”

 

And that’s it for this week. If you want more of my writing, (I promise, it’s not all so dark) you can check me out in these places.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

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