Flash Fiction Friday Number 7: Attack Of The Falcon

I’ve had pirates on the brain lately. In part, it’s because the theme of this year’s SoDakCon is Pirates vs. Ninjas. I, being a Pirate to the core, have been getting my costume together. This Flash Fiction Friday is an excerpt from a longer story I’ve been working on. I’m hoping to have it done and for sale by Con time. So without further ado…

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Attack Of The Falcon

As the enormous galleon appeared in his scope, the captain could see no one save the lookout high up in the crow’s nest. As the captain watched, the lookout’s own spyglass turned on the captain. Instantly a look of fear and recognition crossed the lookout’s face as he realized that he’d been sailing all night in the same waters as the infamous Captain Steele. The lookout immediately scurried down from the crosstrees to raise the alarms.

“Okay men, the battle is at hand. Hoist sails and strike those English colors. Run up our own.”

As the union jack descended one side of the halyard, a red deaths head flew up the other side. Captain Steele smiled as his crew saw to their weapons without the prompts necessary on most ships.

“Let’s give ‘em what for and teach ‘em what happens when they set sail with our gold.”

A cry of feigned outrage burst from the crew as they thought of the rich cargo held in the belly of the galleon just waiting to be spent on whores and stiff drink.

“Mister Trotter,” bellowed the Captain. Instantly the gunner stepped forward, ready for orders. “I think it’s high time we said hello. What say ye? Be careful mind ye, don’t sink her or there’ll be hell to pay.”

“Aye.” Trotter responded curtly, as if offended by the suggestion that he might miss.

The Captain smiled as Trotter saw to his work. Even with a battle close at hand, Steele couldn’t help but admire the artistry of his gunman as he lovingly loaded his cannon, his biceps rippling as he lifted the heavy steel ball into place. When all was made ready, the crew all but held it’s breath as Trotter lit the cannon’s fuse. The Captain once again raised his spyglass and saw his friend from the crow’s nest talking excitedly with a man that could only be the captain of the magnificent vessel. Steele lowered his spyglass and smiled as the fuse grew short. The quiet of the cool morning was rent asunder with an ear splitting “Boom” The crew watched in awe as the steel shot didn’t just cross the bow and splash harmlessly into the water but actually ripped the head from the figurehead mounted innocently on the bow. The gunner smiled to himself as the crew burst forth with a murderous cry. The blonde woman’s wooden head bobbed in the water, staring up in shock at her former body.

Once again the Captain lifted his spyglass, curious to see what effect his gunner’s marksmanship had on the crew of the other ship. They were close enough now that he could see the fear in the other captain’s eyes. He watched as his peer gave an order to the man standing at the halyard. The Falcon’s crew groaned in disappointment as a white pennant was run up the pole. Captain Steele knew what the other crew was in for at the hands of his men. The only thing they hated more than an enemy was a coward. Especially a coward in possession of their gold.

The Falcon was now within earshot of the other ship. “Do any of you men know what country flies a white flag?” The Captain asked with affected ignorance. He received no more than a couple of shrugged shoulders in response. “Very well then, prepare the grapnels.” A hearty laugh rose up from his crew as the grapnel throwers readied themselves.

As the Falcon drew up alongside of the galleon, Captain Steele gave the order. “Loose grapnels.” Instantly the three pronged hooks sailed through the air and caught hold of the other ship. The largest men of the crew grabbed hold of the ropes and slowly closed the distance between the ships. As the hulls crashed togetrher, the planks were laid down between the two decks and the men of the Falcon flooded the other ship with a murderous war cry. The majority of the other crew, still hoping for mercy, threw down their weapons. The ones that did fight did so only half-heartedly. Quickly losing any hope they might have had of victory as they watched their unarmed shipmates savagely cut down. The crew of the treasure galleon was quickly subdued and lined up on the deck of the massive ship. The wicked Captain paced in front of them.

“It is normally my practice to give defeated men a choice. Either sail with me and my men and reap an equal share, or learn to swim.” He turned to a young boy whose sea clothes were spattered with blood. “You.” The boy instantly grew pale. “You are the one who killed my man Johnson, aren’t you?” The boy bravely admitted that he was. “Very well, I shall need to find an adequate replacement for him. Do you feel up to it? I promise a full share when we divvy up.”

The boy smiled and saluted his new Captain “Aye sir.”

“Belay that, you are no longer a part of his majesty’s navy. Cap’n will do just fine.”

The boy promptly corrected himself “Aye Cap’n.”

Captain Steele turned to his crew “This boy wasn’t alone in his vain attempt to repel our advance, go through each man one by one. Each man that fought shall be given the opportunity to join us. Then, their first order is to throw the rest of these useless cowards in the drink.” That being said, the captain turned on his heel and proceeded to the hold to inspect his new found fortune.

 

And that’s that. I hope you enjoyed it. As I said, this is just a small part of a much longer story. I’m still not sure about the captain’s name. Steele is just kind of a placeholder right now. I’d love to know what you think.

Anyway, I’ll see you on Monday with another update on what I’m reading.

I’m still trying to reach 100 subscriptions on my YouTube channel. I only need three 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

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.

See you next time.

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What’s Up Wednesday: The Unknown Soldier

Hey guys. This week has been a particularly weird one. I’ll be honest, I haven’t gotten a lot of writing done this past week. I made a little progress with Daughters of the Flame, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. As for my other projects, I’ve got nothing.

First, there’s the website fiasco. I tried to send a friend my website, only to find out that it had been taken down by my host. When I logged in to the site, it popped up a message saying that my site was in violation, and then listed a bunch of things that it “could be” but gave no specifics. It’s been almost a week and I still haven’t heard from them, nor have I ever received the e-mail they said they would be sending with more details. I couldn’t even access my control panel to try and assess and fix any problems. After hours of wasted time, I finally did what I should have done from the get go. I changed to a much more reputable, albeit pricier, host. I guess you get what you pay for.

So needless to say, I haven’t gotten a ton of writing done. What I have been doing is a lot of thinking.

Last Wednesday night at work, I had a run in with a guy in his late twenties/early thirties. I’ll spare you the details but things got a little heated. I said something I shouldn’t have, although I didn’t think it was a big deal until he went off the deep end and began screaming and slamming his fists on our counter. At this point, I probably should have called the police, but as it turns out, I’m glad I didn’t.

After his freakout, he broke down in tears and went outside to have a cigarette. I went out hoping I could talk him down. As it turns out, he was a combat veteran and our confrontation had triggered his PTSD. Over the next few hours, he told me about some of the horrific things he’d seen and done while deployed. He told me about having to grab a kid by the hair to drag him away from a teddy bear on the side of the road because it had a bomb in it. He told me about the children he couldn’t get to in time. He told me many other things that I won’t post here because I’m not sure all of my readers can stomach it.

He then told me about the hell he’d been through since returning home. He told me how the V.A. has given him no real help. He’s tried to get counseling for his PTSD, but they just give him more drugs. He told me that he hasn’t been able to hold down a job and is essentially homeless with a baby on the way. He told me how he’s now addicted to both the prescription drugs that the V.A. keeps giving him and illegal ones that he’s progressed to. The whole time he was telling me all this, he was drinking heavily from a bottle of vodka stashed in his pocket.

Then we came to the worst part of his story. He told me that on an almost weekly basis, he gets a call telling him yet another one of his comrades who made it home had survived all of that, but hadn’t been able to survive being home. He then told me that the week prior, he also had tried to kill himself by downing a bunch of morphine pills and hanging himself. Luckily a friend caught him and rushed him to the hospital. He had his stomach pumped and the next day, the V.A. sent him on his way with another handful of prescriptions.

Now, I don’t tell you all this to make you feel sorry for him. Nor am I trying to exploit his hardships for my personal gain. I’m telling you this because I fully believe that we, as a country, need to start doing better for our combat veterans. First and foremost, all returning soldiers should be entitled to as much psychological counselling as they need. If they need it for the rest of their lives, then so be it.

Bases should also have a separate barracks for vets who find themselves homeless. If it needs to be fenced off from the rest of the base, then so be it. But no soldier should have to live on the street.

Finally, there have got to be enough jobs within the military for veterans who can’t find work otherwise.

These are just my views on the matter. I admit that I don’t have all the answers, but this attitude from politicians that seems to say, “We got what we needed from you, now on your way.” has got to stop. Yes, doing these things won’t be cheap,  but we need to consider the continuing care of our soldiers part of the cost of war. It’s bad enough that these men, even the ones who do “make it”, just aren’t the same people as the ones who left. We owe it to them for giving up their youth.

And as Forrest Gump said, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

I’ll see you on Friday with another piece of flash fiction.

Until then, 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

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It’s Monday! Ink & Bone, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Writing a Kindle Book a Week

Look at that. I’m posting on time this week. I have to admit, I haven’t gotten as much reading done this week as I would have liked, but I got some done. I guess that counts for something. Anyway, on with the show.

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

615qD7ete4LI have a confession to make. I had intended to start reading this one on Wednesday of last week. Unfortunately, life got in the way as usual. I only started it yesterday and just got through the prologue. However, if the rest of the book is as gripping as what I’ve already read, I see myself devouring this one. Here’s the synopsis. When they refer to the Great Library, they’re referring to the legendary library of Alexandria, which in this world, never burned.

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn…

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

41ra3JnfuJL._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_I’m deliberately taking this one slow. It’s a great book so far. Not only does it provide a humorous approach to basic grammar, it makes me feel like less of an outcast. I’m learning that there are others that care a much about the preservation of the English language as I do.

As I’ve said before, I’m pretty good with spelling and grammar, but punctuation is my downfall. I thought I was alone in not remembering ever being taught about punctuation, but the author, although British, claims that she had the same experience.

I’m still no expert on punctuation, but like the author, I tend to take it as a personal affront when I see a glaring error. Particularly when it comes from someone who is supposedly a professional. My local paper is consistently full of errors. I would love to work for them as an editor, but they won’t hire anyone without a college degree.

I would recommend this book to anyone who needs to brush up on their punctuation even though the author herself admits it’s not an exhaustive resource. It still should provide enough information for most people to get by without the stuffiness of other style guides.

One caveat. The author is British and at times can be somewhat disparaging toward American grammar where it differs from British. Still, these jabs are mostly lighthearted. Just be aware that there are a few instances where she says something is wrong, but that’s only the case in British grammar.

Writing a Book a Week by Alex Foster

41KUd4VdXmLYou might have noticed I’ve been reading a few books like this lately. Rest assured, I don’t plan to start writing at this breakneck pace. I’m just trying to glean as much as I can on upping my output. To be quite honest, I feel like a lot of these books take a lot of the art out of the process. Still, they aren’t without value. There are some great pieces of advice. You just have to weed out the ideas that aren’t for you.

When the author says a book, he isn’t referring to a 100,000 word novel. He’s talking about a 30,000 word book at most. Still, even doing 30,000 quality words seems like a book-factory mentality. I’m sure I could make a lot of money doing things this way, but I wouldn’t be able to shake the feeling that I’m betraying my art.

I mainly chose this book for two reasons. First, it was free, so I had nothing to lose. Second, it was a quick read, which made it perfect to read while donating blood. To be honest, I was disappointed when it came to tips for upping my output. They were either ones I’ve heard a million times such as, “You have to have an outline.” I’m not debating that. I really do need to learn how to outline. It’s just that I’ve heard that one so many times before. Or they were tips I couldn’t really relate to such as writing four similar books under pseudonyms in the same month so as not to have to chance gears between books.

I’m not saying it was a bad book. I’m just saying I got my money’s worth.

I feel like I’m slamming this book, which is not my intent. It’s good for what it is, It’s just not for me. I may sound like a snob, but I feel like my readers deserve more than me just pumping something out for the sake of putting something out. Does that make sense?

 

That’s it for this week. I’ll see you again this What’s Up Wednesday.

I’m still eagerly awaiting your questions and comments.

Also, I now only need three more subscribers on my YouTube channel. I’d appreciate it greatly if you’d go check it out.

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

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Flash Fiction Friday Number 6: Buddy

Hey guys. It’s back! Flash Fiction Friday is here again. I’ve been a little stressed out the last couple of weeks, but I’m finally getting back in the flow. I’m posting it a little later in the day than I’d like, because last night, instead of writing this, I was trying desparately to get my website back up. I finally did, you can check it out at justinmkelly.com, but I didn’t get any writing done last night. So without further ado, let’s get into it. This is a little story I call…

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Buddy

“Come on, buddy. Don’t die on me.” The cop shouted over the siren and the sound of screeching tires.

“Technically, I can’t die.” His partner said serenely even as his vital fluids leaked onto the floorboards.

The cop paid no attention and pressed the accelerator harder even though it was already to the floor. The pain in his leg intensified. He willed himself not to pass out even as he could feel the bullet being pinched between his straining muscles.

“You called me buddy. I thought you hated me and my kind.” His partner said. Still in his calm, matter-of-fact way. As if he were watching the drama on holovision instead of living it first hand.

“Yeah. Well. A man taking a bullet for you and carrying you to safety changes your outlook on things. And you took what, a dozen for me?” The cop said, sliding the car around another corner.

“Seventeen, actually. But I’m not a man.”

“Bullshit. I don’t care what you’re made of. You’re a man in my book.”

“Thank you. I know you meant that as a compliment.”

The cop stole a sideways glance at his partner, not sure whether he was serious or not. His partner began to laugh at his expression. Despite the burning from the bullet lodged in his abdomen, the cop laughed too.

“Well, at least I taught you how to bust balls.”

The cop careened around the corner, almost colliding with a bread truck.

“So what the hell happened, anyway? I thought you guys were supposed to be, like, indestructible. I mean, ain’t that why they partnered us up?”

“I guess that’s what happens when you build a better mousetrap. Someone just builds a better mouse. Those bullets they were using. They were something new. Much more powerful than conventional ammunition.”

The cop made a right turn.

“Where are you going? The hospital is the other way.”

“I’m going. I just need to drop you off at the depot for repairs first.”

“No. Go to the hospital. You’re losing blood at an alarming rate.”

“Yeah. Well. You ain’t exactly holding your fluids in either buddy.”

“My body is replaceable. Yours is not. Besides, this one is beyond repair. They’ll just salvage what they can and send the rest to the scrapyard. Now I insist, turn around and go to the hospital.”

The cop did as he was instructed and spun the car in a perfect half-circle. His bullet wounds throbbed with the added Gs. Soon they were pulling up to the emergency doors of the hospital.

“Come on!” The cop yelled to his partner as he threw the door open.

“You go ahead. I can’t. Not enough hydraulic pressure.”

“Bullshit. You’re coming.” The cop said, running around to the passenger side and yanking the door open. He grabbed his partner around the shoulders and pulled, but it was no use.

“You can’t lift me. I am too heavy.”

“No kidding, buddy. You need to lay off the donuts.”

“You will have to leave me. Before you go, please do something for me.” His partner said, opening the maintenance port on his right temple. “This body is done for. Please take this.”

He didn’t have to specify what “this” was. He meant his CPU. The chip that made him who he was.

“You know, after all we’ve been through, I just realized I never even got your name.”

“My serial number is…”

“No, no, no. I mean your name. Jesus. Hasn’t anyone ever given you a name you can call yourself?”

“Just… one.” He said slowly, as if his batteries were running low. 

“Oh yeah? What’s that?”

“Buuuudddyyyyyyy…” He said, and then went still.

“Max.” The cop said to nobody. 

He gingerly pulled the chip from Buddy’s head, trying not to look as the blue lights faded from his eyes. He slipped the chip into his pocket as the sky began to darken. He didn’t even feel his head bouncing off the hood of the car as he fell.

.     .     .

When he woke up days later, his captain was sitting by his bed, reading a newspaper.

“Hey cap.” The cop croaked.

“‘Bout time your lazy ass woke up.” The captain said, looking over his newspaper. “Glad you’re back in the world. We’ve got work to do.”

“Work?”

“You weren’t the only cop that got attacked with those new bullets.”

“I wasn’t?”

“No. You were just the only survivor. We’ve got to get you back on your feet so you can help us track these scumbags down. I ordered you a new partner. He should be ready in a couple of days.”

“Bring me my stuff. It should be around here somewhere.”

The captain quickly returned with a small bag.

“Your clothes are in evidence, but this is the stuff you had in your pockets.”

Max dug around until he found what he was looking for. He blew the pocket lint off of it and handed it to the captain.

“What’s this?”

“You know damned well what it is. Put it in the new unit.”

“Your new partner will have a chip of its own.”

“I’m not training another goddamned rookie! Now get me my partner back!” He shouted before fainting against his pillow.

So that’s it for this week. I hope you liked it.
If you did, follow me and be sure to like this post.

I’m still trying to reach 100 subscriptions on my YouTube channel. I only need four 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

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.

See you next time. 

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Happy What’s Up Wednesday: Happy Belated Easter

Look. I’m not going to beat around the bush. This week’s Wednesday blog is going to be a short one. Why? To be honest, not a lot happened.

This past week has been odd. I just couldn’t motivate myself to do much of anything. I’m still not feeling wonderful, which is part of it. The worst part is, I can’t even put my finger on what’s wrong with me. I just feel like crap in general. I’ve been coughing and sneezing, but I really think that’s just allergies. I just haven’t had the energy to do anything. The house needs cleaning, I need to get in to the office to write, but I barely have the energy to get out of bed. With that lack of energy, you’d think I’d have at least caught up on my sleep, but not so much. The other day, I wasn’t cold on the outside, but I felt chilled in my core.

As you may have noticed, I didn’t post a FFF last Friday. Apologies. I just was feeling so crappy, I couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t have turned into several thousand words. I think I have a good one lined up for you to make up for it though.

The good news is, Daughter’s of the Flame, the second installment of the Children of Pyrelia series, is coming along nicely, albeit slowly.

I’ve been debating about what to do with the novel I’ve been working on. I really want to finish it, but the market has seemingly moved on from dystopian YA. I know there are still fans of the genre who can’t get enough, so part of me wants to push through and finish it and maybe self-publish it. Another part of me wants to move on to something else. Perhaps something a little more thought planned out to see if that makes writing go faster. What do you guys think?

I did order a new computer just for editing my videos, so hopefully it won’t take me so long to edit them. None of my computers could even run any of the awesome free video editors out there so I was stuck with Windows Movie Maker, which sucks. This one should have the power so I can do my editing more quickly. Now I just need topics to vlog about. If there’s anything you’d like to see me talk about on YouTube or to write about on here, send me a message on any of my social pages listed below.

cute-cuddly-toy-cartoon-costumeFinally, Sunday was Easter. Luckily, holidays in my family typically go pretty smoothly. Nobody comes with an attitude, and everyone stays relatively sober. The only family member who would occasionally cause drama is back in California, so that’s a plus. It was a great day to get together with my mom who I admittedly don’t see often enough. She made us a delicious meal of lamb, ham, mushrooms, potatoes, bread, etc. We then digested in the living room and played with our phones. Once we had room, we were treated to a delicious strawberry shortcake and coconut cake. I think I’m still stuffed.

And that was the week in a nutshell. Hopefully I’ll have more to talk about next Wednesday. If not, maybe I’ll come up with a writing topic to talk about. Again, let me know if there’s something in particular you want me to talk 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 YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

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It’s Not Monday! But Still… Eve: The Awakening, Eats, Shoots & Leaves

I know, I know. I’m a terrible human being because I’m late again. Can I play the “But I’m an artist.” card? No? Worth a try.

Actually, this time my tardiness this time is by design. You see, I was closing in on finishing the book and I really wanted to be able to give a full review instead of a partial one. Anyway here goes.

Eve: The Awakening by Jenna Moreci

415Vh64vDoL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_After much frustration at being constantly interrupted while I was trying to finish this book, I finally managed to get to the end. Overall, I loved it. The action scenes were very well written if you can get past a couple of realism issues I’ll get to in a minute. I thought that the main characters were very well written. Even the human antagonists, while being very stereotypical “mean girls” were believable to me as I’ve known plenty of girls (and guys) just like them. I particularly liked Percy. as he was great for breaking the tension with his humor. Maybe it’s because I spent my share of time as an outcast in my youth before I learned to embrace it, I really identified with Eve’s character.

Now for the bad.

First of all, and this is one thing that might bother me more than most. The book does an awful lot of “head hopping”. That is, changing point of view from one character to another without any sort of indication or warning. Sometimes, this POV change was fairly obvious, while other times, it took me several paragraphs to realize we were no longer in Eve’s head. I realize that sometimes this sort of thing is necessary, but it really makes things confusing and should at least have some indication that it’s happened.

As I said, the action scenes were great barring a few realism issues. But first, a spoiler warning. While I don’t feel like the spoilers I’m about to give are that huge, you still might want to look away if you’re sensitive to such things.

So here goes. First, there are the diamond bullets. While an interesting idea, the bullets, as I understand them in the book, are ones they’ve specially made out of unbreakable synthetic diamonds. As I read it, it sounded like the bullets were made of solid diamond. Apologies to the author if I misunderstood. Solid diamond bullets simply would not work in a firearm. The bullet needs a jacket of lead, copper, or some other soft metal to engage the rifling of the barrel which gives it the necessary spin to make it accurate. At best, a solid diamond bullet would tear up you barrel and tumble in every direction other than the one you want it to. At worst, it would jam in the barrel and your gun would explode on the next trigger pull.

Also, the book suffers from the old Hollywood unlimited ammo trope. When in the heat of battle, the characters seem to have a near inexhaustible supply of ammo even though it’s specifically mentioned when the bullets are revealed that there is a very finite supply of them. There is no real mention of them carrying extra ammo, but they always seem to have enough bullets, no matter how many enemies they face. It’s only toward the very end that there’s even a mention of a magazine change. Also, ammo is heavy. Even if the book had mentioned carrying extra, they would have needed a lot of extra ammo. More than they could realistically carry.

Finally, this is the one that had me screaming in my head at the book. In just about every fight scene with the interlopers, either the main character or her boyfriend find themselves somehow pinned to the floor or otherwise incapacitated with their weapon or some other important object just out of reach. Now I understand. This sort of thing raises tension, the problem is, both Eve and her boyfriend Jason are chimeras. This means they have the power of telekinesis. Neither of them thinks anything of using this power to pick up their enemies and slam them against the wall repeatedly, but not once does either of them use this gift to draw their weapon or object to their hand. I would call this the book’s most glaring problem, especially since that particular trope is used repeatedly.

Still, if you can get past those problems, I would highly recommend this book. I found it very entertaining, and I have nothing but respect for Jenna Moreci, the author. I watch her YouTube videos on writing religiously.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

41ra3JnfuJL._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_Not to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty damned good when it comes to spelling and general grammar. That being said, punctuation is my weakness. Obviously I know the basics, but even my comma placement is done more by feel than actual knowledge. I have a vague idea of what a semicolon is for, but beyond that, I’m lost. I have several editions of Strunk & White and other style guides, but quite frankly, they’re typically so dry that my mind wanders and I couldn’t tell you what I just read. Blame it on undiagnosed ADD. I’m hoping the humor in this book can help with that.

One caveat I’ve heard from other writers. The author is British, so there are a few things that may not be appropriate in America. Still, I’m just looking for a basic overview to point me in the right direction.

Anyway, that’s it for today. I should see you tomorrow with an on-time What’s Up Wednesday. I’ll see you then.

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

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What’s Up Wednesday: Where I Was Last Week.

So, some of you may have noticed, I didn’t post a blog last Wednesday or Friday. What’s that? You didn’t notice? That’s okay. I guess. Feel guilty yet?

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Anyway. I was at the eighth annual Day of Excellence here in Rapid City. The day of excellence is an event where sponsors bring in four motivational speakers. I can tell you, I was in some serious need of motivation. Unfortunately, it being an all day event, I had to seriously screw up my sleeping schedule. I took the day before off so I wouldn’t be a zombie through the whole thing. Long story short, it just messed up my schedule so I wasn’t able to get much writing done, much less blogging. Still, it was a great event and I look forward to it every year. I like that they do it in the spring. It really helps with that fresh start feeling.

First up was Mack Dryden. Mack is a two time cancer survivor, a blackbelt in karate, and quite possibly the most flexible man of his age I’ve ever seen. He gave a great speech on achieving your goals and kept us all laughing the whole time, even if many of his jokes were straight from the internet. Still, his speech inspired me, as did his flexibility from re-earning his blackbelt at an age where most men have trouble tying their own shoes.

Next up was Matt Guthmiller. I hate to say this, but it seems that every year there’s one dud in the group. Nothing against the kid, He has an amazing story to tell, he just needs to learn how to tell it. At the age of nineteen, he became the youngest person to fly solo around the world. You’d think this would be an exciting story, but it kind of had the feel of a high-schooler giving a “What I did on my summer vacation report.” I don’t know if he’s just getting tired of telling the story or what, but it was mostly just a litany of where he went, how long it took to refuel, and getting back in the cockpit and how boring the flying part actually was. It was pretty much monotone the whole way through and I found myself nodding off. After talking to several other people, I found out I wasn’t the only one. Matt is a very smart kid. He’s currently attending MIT. I just hope he learns to tell his story with excitement and passion. It’s hard for us to be excited about what you’ve done when you’re not. I will say, even as the dud, he was better than last year’s dud who spent his entire hour trying to sell everyone on his paid seminar which cost several hundred dollars.

After the lunch break, Juli Burney took the stage. Juli was hilarious. I found myself grateful that I’d decided to skip lunch in favor of a more substantial meal afterwards. I’m afraid I wouldn’t have been able to handle the amount of laughter on a full stomach. Juli is a very positive person and her message of basically not worrying about the little things and trying to turn a crabby person around with humor was very inspiring. She told several stories where she could have taken offense at something, but instead chose to see the humor in the situation. By the end of her hour I felt truly inspired and more than a little guilty for how I handle things sometimes.

Finally came the headliner, Judson Laipply. What can I say? This is the star of one of the first viral videos. The evolution of dance. We even got a live rendition which was amazing. While that was cool, it was his speech that was truly inspiring. He spoke on evolving yourself. His message is that everything changes. You have to change with it. He also spent a good deal of time on evolving in the right ways. For instance, not letting things that don’t matter ruin your day. I have a big problem with this. As you may know, I currently work the night shift at the desk of a motel. This gives me all the writing time I need if I could just learn to use it more wisely. Unfortunately, it only takes one bad guest to completely throw me off for the night. If one person starts yelling at me, I spend the rest of the night brooding on the situation and get nothing done when the truth of the matter is, I’m probably never going to see this person again. So why do I let it ruin my night? I plan on keeping his advice in mind next time.

As I said, as motivating as the day was, it really threw off my sleep schedule for the whole week. Even worse, as a swap for the day I took off, I had to start this week a day early so I’ve been off by a day all week. In addition, I haven’t been feeling my best health wise. I think I’ve been fighting something for a while now. Or it could just be allergies. Let’s hope for that. Disrupting my sleep schedule didn’t help, but it was still completely worth it.

The good news is, the sequel to Blood Moon is well underway and should be out quite soon. I’m looking at hiring a professional cover designer to redo the cover for Blood Moon and to do one for Daughters of the Flame. Blood moon especially needs a new one since I’ve come up with a name for the overall series.

Anyway, that’s it for today. I’ll see you on Friday with a new piece of flash fiction.

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

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I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

 

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It’s Monday! Eve: The Awakening

Okay guys, this is going to be a really short one. The reason is, Gasp, I’ve only been reading one book this past week. The truth is, it just hasn’t been a good reading week. Things have been crazy. I haven’t been feeling great and all I really want to do is sleep. I missed posting two blogs last week and didn’t shoot a video either. I wish I could say I’ve spent all the time I haven’t been doing those things writing, but that would be a lie. I’ll talk more about the week on Wednesday’s blog. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

Eve: The Awakening by Jenna Moreci

415Vh64vDoL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_First of all, make no mistake. The reason I haven’t done much reading this week has nothing to do with my enjoyment of it. So far I’m loving this book. I get frustrated every time I’m forced to put it down because I want to know what’s next. Unfortunately, as an adult, I can’t always just hide under the covers with a flashlight and read.

Without giving too much away, Eve, the heroine, is a humanovus. A new form of human. Human 2.0 if you will. They are better than normal humans in every way. Needless to say, they are hated and feared by normal humans who have dubbed them Chimeras. To make matters worse, the arrival of the chimeras has brought on another arrival. That of a  demonlike alien species known as the interlopers. The interlopers seem to have no interest in normal humans. They are after the chimeras.

Eve, having accidentally outed herself as a chimera when she was only eight years old, can’t try to blend in with humans like most chimeras do. She has longed to go away to college for the simple chance to be normal for once. Unfortunately, when she gets to her new school, things don’t go to plan. I won’t say any more. I already feel like I’ve given away too much.

As a side note, Jenna, the author, runs a great YouTube channel on writing. Her channel is, in part, what prompted me to start my own. Please check out both of our channels and subscribe.

Anyway, that’s it for now. As I said, I’ll fill you in on more details about why I’ve been MIA for the last week then.

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 YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

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It’s Monday! Enders, The Man In The High Castle, Eve: The Awakening, You Are A Writer

Enders, by Lissa Price

51J+favcB4L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_I loved both of the books in this series. They were very creative and entertaining. I must admit, through both of them I had a fear that the masked villain would turn out to be a certain character. It would have not only ruined the entire series, but it would have been incredibly cliche. Thankfully, the author chose not to go that direction. I really liked the way she wrapped up everything neatly by the end of the book but still left it open for a sequel. When I met her, she hinted that there might be at least one more on the way and I’m really hoping it’s true.

 

 

The Man In The High Castle, by Philip K. Dick2016-12-19-1482180717-9274817-themaninthehighcastlepaperback

I know I said I wouldn’t talk about this one until I’d finished it. Well, I finally forced myself to sit down and do just that and I have to say, the ending was just as underwhelming as the rest of the book.

Spoilers Below.

If you don’t already know, The Man in the High Castle takes place in a world where the axis powers won world war two. It basically chronicles the lives of several people living in this world. It deals with a lot of the politics of a German/Japanese occupied America. In this world, there is a book written by a reclusive author that describes a world in which America had won the war (How meta). One of the characters is on a quest to find this author so she can ask him questions about it. When she finally reaches him, he reveals that GASP America actually did win the war, Unfortunately, it’s just left at that. No explanation of how Germany convinced everyone that they had actually won or whether it’s actually a parallel dimension or what.

End of spoilers.

Again, I hate to disparage such a legendary sci-fi writer, but this one just didn’t do it for me. At least I can say I’ve read it.

Eve: The Awakening by Jenna Moreci

415Vh64vDoL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while. I follow Jenna on YouTube. She’s full of great advice on the writing craft and just living life as a writer. She’s one of the people who inspired me to start my own channel.

I’ve just started reading this one so I wish I could tell you more about it, bu I know this much. Eve lives in a futuristic California and is what’s known as a Chimera. Not like the greek myth, but a new stage in human evolution. From what I can see so far, she has the power of telekinesis. I can’t wait to get further into it. So far, it’s as amazing as its author,

 

 

 

You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins41Qa4s+C1LL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

What can I say? The title of this book speaks for itself. Full disclosure, I’ve read this one before, but I had to re-read it after a brief bout of self-doubt. Jeff’s book always makes me feel more confident in myself as a writer. I highly recommend it. Especially if you find yourself getting sidetracked with all the other little things that come with being a writer.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll see you all again on Wednesday.

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

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I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

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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.

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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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