The Darkest of Lore

Blog of Author/ Editor Lori Titus

Archive for About Fiction

Connor Titus: The End is Now and The Guardians of Man

About a year ago, Crystal Connor and I teamed up for a project that we thought would produce one novel. What we ended up with was two co-authored books revolving around a small town after a worldwide catastrophe.  What starts out as a blackout turns into a much worse situation, with paranormal forces at work and a battle for mankind in the balance. I asked Crystal what it was like to work as part of a team for The End is Now and The Guardians of Man.

 

 

1) How did you come up with the idea for the story?

Dude I totally cheated. When you sent the writing prompts, every single one of them fit perfectly with a short story I wrote and published a year earlier call The Parish. It’s the 2nd story in my anthology …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! I wanted to expand that story so I sent you the same disaster from The Parish set in a different town.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have ever imagined that the story would end up as large as it did requiring two books and two author’s to tell it.

2) Of all the characters, who was the most surprising to you?
Oh my gosh I am going to have to pick two! The first would have to be Khrystle. When she introduced herself to me I didn’t like her and I was already planning her death from those early chapters. But after you read them, added to it, then sent it back you made it impossible for me to kill her which made me despise her even more. It’s silly I know but it felt if she pitted us against each other and I resented her for that. But then… Oh but then. Much later in the story you developed her character in such a way that she broke my heart and made me cry. I couldn’t believe it. I still don’t believe it. I think that Khrystle is the character in our books that is basically the Y in the fork in our road to Mt. Empyreal. Going off the copy that we worked on together and what I wrote alone she is the one who pulls our books apart changing them from simply from In the Foothills of Mt. Empyreal and turning them into The End is Now and The Guardians of Man.

The second character that totally blindsided me is Marradith from your Hunting in Closed Spaces series. I was reading that series last summer but once we started I stopped. For some reason I cannot read and write at the same time. There was a scene I wrote and when you sent it back you mentioned HICS and from there she sorta just showed up in my version of the story. I had to go back and research her because I really didn’t know that much about her back story and family history because I started reading the series in the middle. I had to change her to fit into the narrative of my version of events but I’m sure I did her justice and that you’ll be pleased with my interpretation of her.

3) Was there anything about working with a co-author that was easier or harder than you expected?
Actually, it was way easier than I expected. All the horror stories you hear about the perils of co-authoring a book, the ego issues, which author will be the lead narrator, scraping one idea in favor of another never happened. Working with you really has been too good to be true. I mean I still pinch myself that we actually pulled this off. I was a little worried that one of us wouldn’t be 100% happy with the way the books turned out but that solved it own problem fairly early one.
The one thing that was hard, and I need to back up a bit because I’m not sure if everyone knows this but at first we meant to co-write just one book. But when we decided to use the part we wrote together as the foundation for our own individual books that we would write independently without sharing information, that part was really hard for me. We had been talking about it and working together every day for almost four months. To go from that to complete radio silence as not to influence each other, even though that was my idea, it was surprisingly tough.
I was like “ok now what?” It was almost like a break up, I mean we weren’t even talking to each other on Facebook. And then I went through a real break up, you got another job and thru that we kinda found our way back to each other. Once you got settled in and I stopped eating my own weight in ice-cream we were able to talk to each other about our books without revealing any information. Coming up w/bench mark deadlines and reporting weekly word counts really helped get things back on track.
Another thing that was really hard was keeping this project secrete for an entire year. For those who are reading this, we’ve never seen or heard of two authors co-writing two books with the same catastrophe, told in the same town with all the same characters but told two different ways. Because it’s such an original idea we treated it like a trade secret. Being so excited about something that you can’t take about is surely a form of torture.

4) With the new books out, what are you planning to work on next?
I am going to be spending sometime in The Realm of Nine, which is the next series I have simmering in the back burner while at the same time working on another stand alone novel called The Family.

5) What do you find easier–writing about a lot of characters, or just a few?
Okay, see what had  happened was… lol. I tend to have a lot of characters in my stories, I don’t know how that happens, it makes things a bit hard because I end up with a lot of people who become hard to ‘control and keep track of’ once the story gets to the point where as an author I am no longer in the driver’s seat.

6) Do you plan to write epic stories, or does it just work out that way?
It just turns out that way, even my short stories have a way of turning out epic, just on a smaller scale.

7) What do you think has changed in your writing the most over the last two years?
I am more comfortable of doing things my own way, of going against the grain. Due to the sheer size and plot complexity of the Spectrum Trilogy made it such a great learning experience, that just having it done plus the positive feedback, has catapulted my self-confidence as a writer straight thru the stratosphere …

8) What kind of stories do you like to watch or read when time allows?
I like horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. I also love the high impact over the topic action sequences that are a staple in really good Korean action and sometimes drama films.

9) How have your family or friends reacted to your new project?
My mom is super excited, ever since The Darkness my mom has always read the very first print ARC copy. She loves it. At the time of this interview the Mt. Empyreal project was still secret so they don’t know about these books yet. They will find out a month before they go on sale by way of a cover reveal.

10) How would you spend a day if you were not allowed to write or work for 24 hours?
By sleeping and watching movies!

 

____________________________

©2014 Lori Titus

 

 

EYE CANDY

This article caught my attention, and it’s a good conversation starter. How much is just the fantasy of wanting to see attractive heroines in fiction, and where does it cross the line into being degrading? And from a man’s perspective:

http://hikikomoiegaku.com/2012/08/01/feminist-writings-women-in-media-vs-the-male-gaze/

Transformation

While FlashesintheDark.com gets an upgrade from my friend and technical/marketing/editing guru, Tony Smith, many other things are brewing …

First off, on the internet radio side: Tonia Brown and I are host to author Rebecca Hamilton of The Forever Girl Series very soon.

We also will have an interview with another author, and I’ll tell you who she is when we solidify a date.  Paranormal fans,want a hint? How about the word: Dulcie?

Also, Victorya and I should have a new episode of That’s F*cked Up. We took a breather to get some things sorted. Not to worry, we have plenty to talk about!

Marradith #2 has been driving me to distraction, and guess what happened? Up pops up the prologue for the third installment. I may have to write out of order for a bit. Hmmmmm.

And speaking of writing, I am writing a lot, but on different things.  At this rate I’m surprised the characters are not bleeding into my dreams, but I’m glad to get them on paper and out of my head.

Along with Rebecca’s novel,  The Forever Girl which you can find here: http://tinyurl.com/bqkdsfx  ,  I am also reading Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone: http://tinyurl.com/cz2trbe .

What are you guys reading this summer? And for my writer friends, what are you working on?

Talk that Talk

Hello, it has been a while….!

There are updates all around.

Flashes in the Dark Radio (with Tonia Brown and I) has a new website.  Our new home will not only feature our author interview show, but a second show that focuses on current events with an irreverent spin called That’s F*cked Up with co-host Victorya Chase.

You can find the new site here:

http://flashesinthedarkradio.blogspot.com/

Now, for Flashes in the Dark Ezine! We’re a little slower than usual with our turn around times, but we’re still happy to take submissions. Over the next few weeks I will be clearing up our backlog.

Want some quick reads? Check in here:

http://flashesinthedark.com/

I have four writing projects on the burner.  There are two of these that are with another author, and for now I have been sworn to secrecy about them. Of course, there is Marradith.  And another story that was just started off this weekend. So my proverbial plate is full.

Thank you so much for continuing to support both the ezine and the interview shows.  And here’s to producing great new things to add to your e-reader or bookshelf!

 

 

The Bells of Chrysalis

While I am working on editing Marradith #2, and some other projects, I thought it would be fun to give you a taste of my ghost story. It’s about two sisters, Jenna and Diana Bell, who have a complicated relationship, made more so by their respective pasts and the ghosts that haunt them .  Set in the fictional town of Chrysalis, South Carolina, it’s all about family drama but with a twist of the paranormal.  The story takes place in the present day, but the preface below takes a look back into the 1950′s, when the women’s father, Travis, was a young man.

Enjoy…. 

Preface

Summer, 1953

 

Willow Branom was promised to Travis Bell’s bother, Jeremiah.

Travis couldn’t be sure, but he thought that may have been the first thing that attracted him to the woman. And she was beautiful. Chocolate skin and amber eyes, with black hair that flowed down her back. Jeremiah bragged about her. How smart she was. How beautiful. He’d met her in Charleston, where she had a position as a teacher at the local Colored school. When he brought her home they were already engaged. The plan was that she would live on the property in the back house, until he came home from a job he was taking down in Florida. One last construction gig out of town to bring home some money. A little bit more to buy his woman the kind of wedding dress she deserved.

If Jeremiah had known what was good for him, he would have wed her at the Justice of Peace before heading out of  town. He’d have made love with his new wife and made her pregnant before he went away.

Jeremiah was a braggart, always so sure of himself and all that belonged to him. So he left the girl alone with an engagement ring. Alone in the little house by the creek where they would live together once they were man and wife.

Travis watched her.

It was hard to disguise his interest. There was something about her. Some ache beneath the surface that Travis wanted to quench.

She had to be lonely.

She had come up to the front house one afternoon, looking for Mother Kamila, offering to help with Sunday dinner. Travis told her to come in. He said that Mother asked that she peel some potatoes, and that she had gone to the store for some last minute things.

Standing in front of the window, he watched as she stared out at the trees, wearing her little pink dress, so sweet against her dark skin. He sat at the kitchen table, drinking his coffee. Not caring that she felt his gaze at her body. She was the perfect hourglass.

“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” she said over her shoulder.

“Do what?” he feigned innocence.

“Stare.”

“Oh. That.” He said.

He stood up, and with a gentle touch, cupped her bottom in his hands. “Should I do this instead?”

She turned, and he pressed himself hard against her, so that she was pinned between him and the sink. He made sure that he placed his pelvis just where she could feel his erection. There was something like fear in her eyes, but he smiled down at her. He kissed her mouth deeply, and to his delight, she kissed him back.

Dinner that night was an uncomfortable affair. Willow kept her eyes on her plate, pretending to be shy. When Kamila asked why she hadn’t spoken much, she said that she was feeling weary and wanted to go lay down.

Travis bidded his time, not wanting it to be obvious. He waited a half hour before leaving out the back door.

As he guessed, she was waiting for him amongst the trees at the very back of the property, where they were shielded from view of either house.

“How did you know?” she asked breathlessly, once he reached her.

Travis smiled. His body was hot, burning from his loins and through his blood.

“Where else would you be?” he whispered.

He kissed her hard, holding her again. When his tongue stroked her neck, he heard her sigh, and he laughed with the pleasure of knowing she wanted him.

His hand traveled down, beneath her dress, and into the smooth skin between her legs.

She stiffened. He felt her sense of fear, as deeply as if she somehow pressed it into his body.

“Oh, hush baby,” he whispered, though she made no sound. And he began to move his hand up and down. He pressed, pushing up until he felt her virgin body break beneath the pressure of his hand.

Her sigh was deeper this time, animal. Her knees gave way, and she would have fallen if he had not been holding her. Somehow, she managed to untangle herself.

“I…. I shouldn’t..” she stuttered.

“It doesn’t matter,” Travis grinned. “You’re my woman now.”

She ran from the clearing.

Travis looked down at his hand, feeling wetness.

Willow’s blood.

**

A week passed, and Travis wondered if she would tell anyone. As he guessed, she did not. When he told her that he would meet her again, under the trees, she gave him a look of trepidation.

But at the appointed time, she was there.

**

He kissed and touched her again over the course of several nights, before she finally left the door of her house open for him.

Travis waited past midnight before making the short journey to Willow’s house. She gave him all that he wanted, seemed ready to try any dirty thing that he asked. They never spoke of Jeremiah or what would happen if anyone found out, but Travis preferred it that way. He had no real intentions to be with her, but the sex was incredible.

**

It ended one morning, as suddenly as it all began.

Travis went downstairs for breakfast one morning. He could hear his Mother’s voice from the kitchen, smell eggs and sausage cooking on the stove. The soft voice that replied to hers was Willow’s. Travis smiled as he rounded the hallway into the kitchen.

His brother Jeremiah sat at the table, with a newspaper in front of him, legs crossed, a cup of coffee in his left hand.

“Well good morning to you too, Travis,” Kamila said sternly. “Aren’t you going to welcome your brother home?”

 Jeremiah looked up from his paper and nodded dismissively. “Yeah, I’m used to it, Mother.”

Travis looked at Willow. She stood at the counter, beside the coffee pot. There was a cup in front of her, but it looked like she hadn’t drank any. He didn’t miss the discomfort in her posture, the way she had pressed her back against the kitchen wall, making herself as small as possible.

Kamila stood at the stove, and her eyes, dark and knowing, settled on Travis like a hawk.

“Foods done, Travis. Get yourself a plate.”

He opened the cabinet, reaching past Willow for a cup and a plate. She didn’t flinch, but it took effort. He could tell by the way she bit her lip.

“Are you back to stay?” Travis asked his brother.

 Jeremiah took his time folding up his newspaper, making noise and avoiding eye contact while he did. “Well, sort of.”

“What’s that mean? Either you’re here or you aren’t.”

Willow moved. She went and sat next to Jeremiah. He put his hand on her thigh, patted her knee.

“We’ve been talking, and we’re going to put down on a house of her own. There is a place my buddy’s family has been trying to sell, and they are willing to give it to me for a song. It’s a fixer upper, but it will be nice once I can get some work done on it.”

Travis found the sugar bowl and spooned some into his coffee. “Really? What made you come to that decision?”

“I was trying to explain,” Kamila interrupted, “that if they stay here for at least a few months after the wedding, they can save for a better place. Somewhere closer.”

Jeremiah shrugged. Ignoring his mother’s comment, he answered Travis’ instead.

“Well, you wouldn’t understand what it’s like to have responsibilities, Travis. Maybe you’ll be engaged one day, and then you’ll understand.”

“Really?”

Travis’ voice was low, but both the women in the room looked up at him. Only Jeremiah seemed unaffected by the tension in the air.

“Yes.” Jeremiah said. He grinned at his younger brother.

“Before you go making all these grand plans, you might want to make sure that your fiancée is actually the marrying type.”

 “Travis…!” Willow choked.

 “What are you talking about?”

“Oh, you mean she didn’t tell you?” Travis said, his lips spreading in a grin. “It’s really sweet, you know, how she moans when she gives it up. But maybe you don’t bring that out in her.”

Travis saw his brother’s eyes widen, felt the movement of air as Jeremiah lunged at him. The first punch caught him unprepared, but then they were in the thralls of it. Jeremiah was rock hard, and taller, but Travis held his own, until he was knocked onto the floor.

Jeremiah straddled him, and was beating him to a pulp.

Travis tried to fight back, but couldn’t get any air.

Jeremiah screamed.

**

Kamila had done the only thing she could think of to keep her sons from killing each other. She poured a skillet of hot oil down Jeremiah’s back.

He went to the hospital, and Kamila with him. Before she left, she took one look back at her destroyed kitchen, and Willow, who stood there in shock.

“Have that woman out of my house before I get back,” she hissed at Travis. And then she was gone, with a superior tilt of her head.

Before he could even turn, Willow was out the back door, running across the yard to her house. Travis followed.

“Willow. Wait.”

She turned on her heel, and punched him. But her blow was nothing compared to Jeremiah’s and he laughed.

“I can’t feel shit on that side of my face anyway.”

“Why did you tell him? How can you laugh? Don’t you understand what you’ve done?”

“Were you really going to leave here with him?”

“Yes.”

“Then I don’t care what you do. You heard my Mother. She wants you gone.”

They were standing at the top of the stone steps that separated the from the back. With her hands on her hips, Willow faced him with anger he’d never seen in her eyes before.

“You really are a sad excuse for a man, aren’t you? You didn’t really want me, you just didn’t want Jeremiah to have anyone.”

“So what? You wanted it. You couldn’t get enough of it.”

He turned away from her then. He heard Willow’s heels click against the stone as she rushed down towards the guest house.

There was no scream, only a mutter. But he heard the impact of her fall.

**

When Travis reached her, she was dead.

She’d fallen down the steps, halfway tumbling onto a jagged stone.

Her neck was snapped.

**

The trees shielded him from eyes that might have seen his dirty work.

There was rope in a shed out back, and a ladder. It took longer than he would have liked. Travis tried to place her in as graceful way as he could. Over and over he whispered apologies. Her body grew ever colder to his touch. Tears came to his eyes, but he hastily wiped them away. Around him the morning was deadly silent. No bird call, no wind. Only the screams that wanted to escape from his mouth, but found no release.

The police wouldn’t much care about the passing of a Negro girl, especially one that had been unfaithful to her man. Was it so hard to believe that she would take her own life? Her reputation was ruined. A suicide under these conditions would draw less attention than an accident.

It was Kamila who found the body the next day. Willow hung from the tree that shaded the spot where Travis first touched her. She looked like a lovely sleeping angel, her dark hair shading her face, her lips puckered, pink, and as innocent as the day he met her.

————————————–

©2012 Lori Titus 

DON’T PET THE SWEATY THINGS….!

Channie Greenberg is offering a discount to readers of Flashes in the Dark Ezine:

I would like to offer your readership a 10% discount off of the cover price of Don’t Pet the Sweaty Things. When they buy from Createspace, they go to the link at https://www.createspace.com/3772404 andselect “Add to cart.” On the following page, there is a spot that says ” if you have a discount code, enter it here.” Plug in “WLJS8U8.” To negotiate a 15% discount for your readers, please communicate directly with Bards & Sages’ Julie Ann Dawson, jdawson@bardsandsages.com

Marradith Ryder Hits #1 On Muse’s Success

Muse’s Success is a listing of online web novels. They catalog, rate, and list reviews for serialized fiction online. Their goal is to help readers find quality reading material online without having to use search engines to do it.

Marradith Ryder has been listed with them for quite a while, but it wasn’t until recently that I found out the series is rated number one in both horror and suspense.

You can have a look at all the stories listed here:  http://muses-success.info/browse/listing/1/Horror/all

The NaNo Challenge

I have never done NanoWriMo before.

This yearly contest challenges writers, newbies and experienced, to try their hand at pumping out one whole novel in thirty days. There’s no money involved, it’s for the experience.

Now, for me, this is a departure from how I usually do things.  I can work on a deadline, and I have done it before. But a whole novel. In one month?

One of my friends is doing it this year, and after he talked about it, I thought it might be a good idea to join, too. I have an idea that has been in my head for a few weeks now, but I have the feeling it’s going to have to be laid out in an unconventional way. So what better way to start than attacking the page and doing the clean up later?

The thing that’s funny is you grow so accustomed to self editing every few paragraphs (and sometimes, every few words). It’s going to be hard to turn that off. But I am hoping it will also be liberating.

In the meantime, I will try to post here more often, and keep ahead a few episodes on the Marradith series.

And speaking of Marradith, I received the final edit of the novel this week. So now it’s a matter of getting together a book cover and formatting. Exciting stuff!

For any of you who are writers, are you signing up for this year? And if so, are you doing it for fun, or do you think you’ll make something of the manuscript when it’s done?

GRAEME REYNOLDS ON FLASHES IN THE DARK RADIO

Graeme Reynolds is one of my all time favorite indie authors. He’s got a flair all his own. No one else can give you stories about people frozen statue still with terror, evil priests, vicious werechickens, and a dead wife with a vendetta like Graeme can.

He’s finishing up the final touches on his first novel, HIGH MOOR, and Tonia and I had him on the show this weekend to talk about the proccess behind his writing.

Listen to the show here:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/flashes-in-the-dark-radio/2011/09/18/graeme-reynolds-high-moor

Keep up with Graeme’s updates on his novel, short stories and other projects here:

http://www.graemereynolds.com/

 

Haunted Mansions, Evil Creatures, and Ferocious Bears!

Tonia Brown invited me over for a friendly jaunt at her blog. You can read the results here:

http://thebackseatwriter.blogspot.com/2011/09/lickable-lori.html?zx=48fb9c4053f15962

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