And then I wrote some romance

Every so often I like to share what I’m currently working on.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m working on the manuscript for a story tentatively titled, ‘Clarice’.   I’ve got around 42,000 words so far.  While story development is slow, because I’m pulled in so many different directions, the story itself is coming along very nicely.

The characters are speaking to me during the day and whispering to me at night.  The width and breadth of action is increasingly expansive, the themes deep and meaningful, and the science—the physics—works to ground the story in realm of believability.

So here is a short extract from what I’ve most recently written.  I look forward to your comments and criticisms.

56

To say that Danny awoke would be a misnomer.  More correctly, Danny was awake.  Fully awake.  More awake than he had been in a very long time—however that might be determined—and that was good.  He wanted to be awake.  The smell of the leaves and the cool, crisp autumn air invigorated him.  For this moment, life was an enviable state to be in, and he wished he could make it last forever.  He was young and healthy and in love, with the entire universe waiting for him to achieve his destiny.

He was standing at the corner of Fifth and Main, with traffic humming by without a break.  And that was just so normal—people bustling down the sidewalks, cars honking, children laughing.  He was waiting for her, for Clarice.  This is where they met every evening after work.  She worked uptown, he worked downtown, and they met in the middle, just a few blocks from their apartment.

Danny paced at the corner.  He watched for her, straining to get his first glimpse of her.  That first glimpse would almost bring him to his knees, it made him so weak with love and wanting her.  He waited, afraid to look away—even at his watch—for fear that he might miss her, and that by missing her he might be lost to her forever.

Like a good soldier he stood his ground and kept his watch.  Then, from the crowd, as one might appear from a mist, there she was.  Tall, thin, and radiant, her long hair tucked under a knit cap.  She not so much walked as gracefully floated over the pavement.  At least to his eyes, there was no fault in her stride, there was only perfection in her walk.

As she approached, and his anticipation grew, he tried to remember when he first loved her, but he found it impossible.  It was like trying to remember his first breath or his first tear.  It just always was.  It was part of his being, and without it there was nothing.

When she arrived at the curb, traffic stopped.  He was sure it was for her that the traffic had stopped, that her stride be unimpaired, that her life be uninterrupted.

© Copyright 2017 by Kevin Fraleigh

Any Tomorrow Complete Lives!

My first series, compiled in a single e-volume, Any Tomorrow Complete, is selling again!  That makes me feel good.  It might not make me a millionaire (and from what I’ve seen of millionaires I’m not sure I’d even want to go there), but I’m stoked that a few valiant souls have decided to commit to the adventure.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, I’m sure you’ll understand that writing a first novel is something akin to riding a wildcat on crack.  To see your characters come alive in a form that you can share with others is both exhilarating and exhausting, and never to be taken lightly.  The genesis of every word, every situation, every birth, and every death is the author’s own experience.  And despite what the author may say or how far fetched it may seem in the context of the story line, everything written is revelatory.

So to those intrepid souls who have purchased Any Tomorrow Complete, thank you.  And to those looking for a good story for their summer reading, look no further than Any Tomorrow Complete.
© Copyright 2017 by Kevin Fraleigh.

From the diary of Ray Travis

“I’m not a writer,” he said, “not a real one.  If I were a real writer I could pour whiskey in one end and shit novels out the other.”  From the diary of Ray Travis.


© Copyright 2016 by Kevin Fraleigh.

Finally! Any Tomorrow Complete

I’ve been considering this move since the Any Tomorrow Trilogy was first published.  For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, you may remember that the decision about how to best publish my 300K-plus word novel caused quite a dilemma for me.  One book or three?  Which would provide the best reading experience?  Oh, yeah, and there was some thought about which strategy might actually result in a sale or two.  I finally decided to go with three volumes, but I was never really comfortable with the decision.

So now I have the best of both worlds. The trilogy is still available through most leading eBook sellers as three eBooks, while Any Tomorrow Complete is, at least for now, available only from Amazon.  Hopefully I’ll have it out on Smashwords within the next few weeks so you’ll be able to find it at a variety of eBook sellers and in multiple formats.

Any Tomorrow Complete includes some revised content and a bonus story called 1933, which I hope will provide you with a better value and a more consistent reading experience.

Take a look, have a read, and let me know what you think of the new format, contents, and cover!

web-size
© Copyright 2014 by Kevin Fraleigh.

What Would You Do With The Hanging Man?

I thought of this the other day and can’t seem to get it out of my head.

Imagine writing a scene where a character intends to commit suicide.

He is emotionally at the end of his rope.

He sees no other way out.

So he makes his way to a rooftop.

Gathering all his resolve, he takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, and runs at full speed towards the edge.

But―

As he is about to plunge into nothingness, a piece of rebar along the broken edge snags his pants leg. He swings in a graceless arc and hits the side of the building, hard. The leg snagged by the rebar is painfully twisted. The opposite leg and hip, taking the full impact with the wall, are shattered.

Now he hangs, almost stationary, like an awkward chrysalis. Racked with pain, helpless, terrified, his resolve for suicide crumbles, but too late. When he hears the fabric tear, he screams for help from an unhearing world.

So what happens next?

Does he get saved somehow? Does a roving gang use him for target practice? Does he cut his losses, jerk himself loose, and fall to his death? Does he fall, but not die? And if he does survive, why?

A man literally hanging by a thread is a great inspiration for a story, wouldn’t you think? This, after all, is the essence of horror. It’s the reader’s understanding that at any moment something terrible is going to happen. And secretly, deep down inside, you want it to.

The hanging man might be a main character, a secondary character, or someone alluded to by one of the other characters. No matter what, he must have a back story. He must have had some circumstances that drove him over the edge.

And there must be something that follows.

When I wrote Any Tomorrow, I started out with the simple idea of a man trapped underground when the world comes to an end. That simple idea grew into thousands of words and a story that spans the globe over the course of a thousand years. More importantly, the character I originally envisioned as the focus was subsumed by another character who grew to dominate the story.

So what would you do with the hanging man?

How would you explain his circumstances?

What would you do with his story?

Why don’t you drop me a line and let me know.  I’d love to hear from you.
© Copyright 2014 by Kevin Fraleigh.

Writing Holiday, Sort Of

This will be quick.  I have approximately 39 hours to convert two steno pads of notes into my novel, B-24. I already have 25 typed pages―single-spaced, no brakes. So, I figure that between what I have already, plus my notes and some elaboration, I should finish with a respectable page count.

But I have only 39 hours to finish.  Why only 39 hours? Because I am cats/housesitting while my son and his wife are away and on Sunday morning I have to be back at my house. So my weekend of writing will be over. Of course, within that 39 hours I have to fit in some time to sleep and take care of other necessaries, like the cats. Even in the best of situations there will be interruptions.

But enough of that. No more time to waste. From where I left off―

When spring did finally come and recovery teams were able to access the wreckage, they were horrified to discover the mangled remains of the three truckers―Shamus James, Tommy Dodds, and Rhune Evans―as well as Oswald the cook. Only partial remains were recovered for Lilly the waitress and two as yet unidentified men. DNA would no doubt reveal their identities, said the sheriff. And that was pretty much it. It was a terrible, terrible accident resulting from unseasonably bad weather.  No, the coroner couldn’t explain how they all died or ended up torn open and mutilated. But they had no reason to suspect foul play, none at all.

Pique your interest? Mine, too.

*************** Sunday night update.  ********************************

The weekend is over. I didn’t quite finish what I wanted to accomplish, but that’s okay. B-24 now stands at a respectable 22,800 words with a good deal left to add.  Here’s another teaser, where I left off for this round―

Maybe it was a shark and maybe not. Maybe it doesn’t matter because whatever it was swam away. Maybe it was scared away. Maybe something else was out there that even sharks were afraid of.

I hope your weekend was just as productive.
© Copyright 2014 by Kevin Fraleigh.

Starting Out Right

Whether it be a novel or a short story, the opening paragraph is often the deal breaker. If the first paragraph, and especially the first sentence, doesn’t grab the reader’s imagination, no matter how wonderful the rest of the story is, chances are that the reader won’t be there to find out.

What I have for you today are five opening paragraphs from short stories and novels I’ve written. I wonder, do each of them fill the bill for a good opening paragraph? Do they grab your attention, spark your imagination and leave you wanting more? Or to they fall flat and make you want to move on to something else?  Leave a comment and let me know.

  1. From Cartersville:

The Cartersville Pioneer Days Festival was a reflection of a happier, simpler time in the history of the small town.  Main Street was blocked off and Memorial Park was filled with small booths and displays celebrating the town’s Florida Cracker heritage.  Despite the large crowds, Sheriff Matt Green was relaxed, trouble during the festival was rare.  The afternoon was clear and hot, the town band played soft melodies on the park gazebo.  It was a day for laughter and ice cream, sunshine and warm breezes. Matt stood in the center of it all, his crisply creased tan uniform valiantly holding its own against the humidity.  It was a perfect day made all the better by the sight of his wife, June, and son, Tommy, walking towards him from the playground.  Tommy was wearing his new Cartersville Pioneer Days Festival―Celebrate Your Cracker Heritage With Us―ball cap and tee shirt.

2.  From 1933:

The boy barely made it, he had to go so bad.  He dropped his overalls to the floor of the outhouse, quickly planted himself, and let it go.  Having survived the initial release, he grabbed for the copy of Weird Tales magazine his father had left there.  By lantern light, he paged through the twice read stories and was suddenly possessed by the thought that in his rush for relief he had forgotten the ritual of checking for spiders. Black widows are native to central Florida and fond of the moist darkness of the outhouse.  It was not until he finished though that he felt it.  He was about to stand, to wipe, and head back for the house when he felt a strange, terrifying tickling around the cheeks of his ass.  He tensed and propelled himself upwards, all the while expecting that inevitable, painful pinch.  The pinch never came.  He simultaneously swatted at his backside with one hand and thrust his other hand outward towards the latch that held the door shut, but could not find it.  His momentum unchecked, he fell forward, stumbling on the overalls around his ankles.

3. From: Any Tomorrow: The Calling:

From the oppressive heat of the South Carolina summer stepped a man, old, unnaturally old by his own reckoning, but not bent with age. His hair was a disarray of unruly tangles and his clothes looked like he had slept in them more than one night. He had. It had been a long trip from Princeton and he was more tired than he had ever been. His tiredness, however, was only partially to blame for his exhaustion. The true source of his exhaustion was the burden he carried with him, a dark secret even he did not fully comprehend.

4. From B-24:

It was in the summer before I first experienced stinky finger with Pretty Patty Precious, the prematurely large breasted daughter of the farmer who lived next door. It was the same summer we traded twisting our G.I. Joes and Barbies into ineffective pseudo-coitus for awkward, frantic, heavy petting. It was the summer everything changed. It was the summer I discovered the shimmering.

5. From The Last Pope of Antioch:

The red convertible flew down the dusty, empty road like flame seeking something to ignite.  The driver concentrated on his task.  Seeing far beyond his horizon, far past his destination, he stared out through the waves of heat reflected from the road surface, sunglasses wrapped around his face seeming to form themselves to the contour of it.  His face was angular, giving the impression of sharpness.  Although it had been days since he had shaved, his pockmarked skin, possibly an artifact of the ravages of youth, showed no sign of stubble.  The truth of it was that he had never developed a beard, so common in other men, and he counted himself lucky to be spared the razor, that dragging of sharp steel across unprotected flesh.

© Copyright 2014 by Kevin Fraleigh.

I Need Your Opinion

I’m working on a new intro for my eBook, Any Tomorrow: The Calling.  Would this make you want to know more about the story?

Could the world end without you knowing? Could the dead surpass the living without you being aware? Could the desolation overtake the earth without you being affected?

It   depends.

Which world? Which earth? The one before or after that odd déjà vu? The one that moved you to that so similar, but not quite the same, place? Or the one that took you to a place so radically different that your mind refused to believe it was real?

But it was real.

You know it was real and you know that you were brought to that place for a purpose. But was it to save the world or to destroy it?

And did it matter anyway?

Had he the presence of mind, Gerhardt Linder might have considered this, but he had no time as the SS-men in the black uniforms jackbooted their way towards his door. All he knew, all he would remember, was the slight distortion in the sunlight streaming through his apartment window. It was oh so slight a shimmer and, in so many other ways, unremarkable. But it was remarkable, because once he passed through it the SS-men were gone and everything he had thought to be true and real had changed forever.

From that moment onward he knew that any tomorrow he might be compelled to a different where and when by a fate over which he had no control or claim, a fate that was beyond him to refuse, a fate that would determine everything.

Leave a comment and let me know.  Thanks.
© Copyright 2013 by Kevin Fraleigh.

A Review of “Fire Angels” by Joseph Richardson

A few weeks ago a friend passed me a copy of “Fire Angels”, a self-published novel by Joseph Richardson. Fire Angels is the story of David and Sara Cooper, and their son Noble, set in Walako, Florida during the period of 1915-1925. In this story Richardson attempts to weave a complex narrative into which he draws xenophobic anti-German sentiment, racial hatred, and class conflict. But he tries too hard. By doing this he fails to delve into the emotions and psychological depth that would have made this story come alive. For instance, following America’s entry into World War I, David and his best friend, Robert Love, are sent to France. Following their first big battle, Robert is killed by a sniper. Following the war, David comes home and attempts to find catharsis in plowing a field. In that act David is overcome by the memory of Robert’s death and all the horrors of war Richardson did not include in the short description of David’s experience in France. The problem is that there is too much story, so nothing gets the depth necessary to draw the reader into the historical and emotional context. I wanted to be drawn into this story. I wanted to feel what David felt and really understand what life was like in early Twentieth Century small-town Florida. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

And there is something else by way of technical criticism. This novel, like many self-published efforts, could have benefited from a good, thorough professional editing. Numerous errors in the text detracted from the reading experience. For instance, I found inexplicably underlined or italicized words, dropped words, sentences all in caps, and other problems with formatting. These are not issues with style. These are basic errors I would expect to find in a draft novel, not a finished product.
© Copyright 2012 by Kevin Fraleigh.