Blood Relations is out and doing well!
Take a listen to my interview with Sapphire J Blue right here! She asked me some great questions about the nitty gritty of the story:
And in case you’re curious, the book is on Amazon:
Blood Relations is out and doing well!
Take a listen to my interview with Sapphire J Blue right here! She asked me some great questions about the nitty gritty of the story:
And in case you’re curious, the book is on Amazon:
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
About a year ago Crystal Connor and I talked about our own writing projects and possibly working together. She asked me for some writing prompts and I sent her a few words: candlelight, book, snow.
What she sent me back was the beginning of an awesome story, one in which inhabitants of a small town were trapped inside their homes because of toxic snowfall.
Trading our story back and forth, I wrote bits, she did, we discussed the story, and things got rolling. We only set out to write one book, and somehow ended up writing two co-authored books, each with our own take on the events of a town in the mountains called Fate’s Keep. As of the date that I am writing this, neither Crystal or I have read each other’s copies. Silence is killer! We’re dying to read each other’s book, and we hope that you will be too!
Jaidis Shaw will be doing the cover reveal for our books on April 18th. Follow the link for more information for the blog tour Crystal and I will start shortly: http://junipergrovebooksolutions.com/cover-reveal-connor-titus/
What a long time away!
Since it has been a while since I posted, I’ll tell you that I have several things in the works, but since some of the projects include other busy bees, I can’t tell you too much about them yet.
But… I do always have what I call side projects, and this may be quickly turning into one. And not the usual fare, either. It’s an untitled story so far, and I hope you’ll enjoy it.
Leaves circled the yard in mini hurricanes of red and yellow. Despite her coat, Cassidy shivered, pushing her hands as far as they’d go into the shallow pockets of her worn coat.
The trailer sat near the edge of town. A beaten white pickup sat behind it, and almost obscured bt the treeline, an old Toyota with a cracked windshield, missing the front two tires.
The truck – an old service vehicle that could have been any make was still usable. Cassidy had good memories of it, as she’d used the pickup to get her first license. The Toyota was a complete loss. It hadn’t been used for anything but storage for years.
Cassidy told herself that she needed a plan, some sort of idea about what she should take and what she would leave. It had been four years since she’d been inside the trailer, and she wasn’t sure what might be in there that she would want. But she wasn’t comfortable with the idea of having everything scrapped, either.
The one time she’d entered her Mother’s home, and was old enough to remember it, she was unpleasantly surprised with the way she was living.
Twenty years old, and this place still reduced Cassidy to the sixteen year old girl she had been at that visit.
The smell of cedar, the woods, the wind were comforting. It was the closed, cylindrical space of the trailer that frightened her. Too much like a prison cell.
Or a tomb.
Cassidy’s fear of small spaces was not something that she remembered from childhood. Her father said that the first panic attacks and bouts of claustrophobia came about in her teen years, sometime after that day in the trailer with her Mother.
“We tried to get you to tell us what happened,” Father said, “but you never would.”
Worse than facing her father was dealing with her stepmother, Nancy, with her crow-like eyes and pinched mouth. “What really happened to you out there, Cass?”
“Whatever it was that happened, is between me and my Mother,” Cassidy said. If she could remember what, maybe she would sound more convincing.
Nancy had raised Cassidy as far back as she could remember.
Cassidy always knew that her biological mother, her father’s ex-wife, existed, but she might have well been a myth for all that she knew of the woman. Nancy was up with her in the morning, cooking breakfast, nursing her when she was sick, attending parent-teacher conferences. She bandaged scraped knees, told stories, gave out hugs without prompting and called her endearments in Spanish. Cassidy knew the meanings behind the lilting words long before they were explained beause of the look in Nancy’s eyes when she spoke them. Nancy read her stories at night, and she would listen breathlessly to Where the Wild Things Are and Harry Potter.
Cassidy felt loved.
It wasn’t until later, after years of asking questions that she never got complete answers to, that she began to wonder about where her mother was and why it was forbidden to talk about her, that Cassidy began to doubt Nancy’s place in her life, or that she had a right to be in it at all.
What she did get from her parents was as condensed as a child’s version of a classic book, so far away from the real events, void of the sex, blood and pain that made the story anything resembling the original version. It wasn’t until she was able to do her own research that the pieces came together, and Cassidy finally demanded to meet her real mother.
Cassidy wasn’t even the name she was born with.
Finding out that part of her history, sitting in front of a computer in the local library made her feel lost in a way that she couldn’t name.
Cassidy was the maiden name of her Father’s mother. She was born Pamela Ann in a small town in central California, a stopping spot between the end of one interstate and an unfinished highway, that she had never heard of before.
At the time of her birth, Cassidy’s parents had been married five years. But not long after, things began to fall apart. There was a record of domestic disputes.
That wasn’t a surprise. Cassidy suspected that her parent’s marriage had met an unhappy, messy end.
What surprised her was the mention of Nancy Palmero, her stepmother, in a news story about an attempted assault.
©2013 Lori Titus
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:
A new short story on Flashes in the Dark:
That whole summer felt like a dream.
The air hung so thick that you could taste it; trees and dirt and humidity so dense that breathing felt like drowning. I have lived here all my life, and I never knew anything quite like it. Everything was drenched in shades of green: the trees standing sentinel in the encroaching woods, the sky with its sickly hurricane tinge. And the water, calm and still, reflected both.
It was all about waiting, which is something I have never been good at. My husband was away at war, and he wouldn’t be back for several more weeks. I tried to imagine what that would be like. Would he come back whole? Would he have scars? Would the skin around his eyes and forehead show new creases of worry?
This was his second tour, and I remember well how it was the first time he got back.
I remember tracing the lines with my fingers, amazed at the man he’d become. The boy had been stamped out of him. I felt shy and at odds around him, like someone had dropped a stranger off at my doorstep. Love him, care for him, and just ignore that this new man wears the old one’s skin.
Not that loving presented a problem. I got pregnant shortly after he returned.
I very much wanted the child, but hated the process. The backaches, tears for no reason, and morning sickness that lasted all day. My breasts ached when the breeze blew. Some nights I just sat in a warm bath, enjoying the feeling of weightlessness that water gave me. I missed my lean body and the ability to jump up at anytime.
Along with that came other things. The feeling that I’d become part of something more important than just me. I paid attention to small things I had not noticed before—other people’s emotions, sometimes the meaning behind their words. I slipped easily into the idea of becoming a plural being, and no longer singular.
Comforting, I suppose, because without my husband there, I felt very much alone.
Our house is way out by the river. No one even comes up here unless they come to fish. I always liked that. When he proposed, I remember that he said we could “live together up on the lake, Vivian, and we can have our lives without being bothered by anyone else.”
I knew that I loved him, but those words sealed it for me.
I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but after my husband’s second deployment, Lola started showing up at my doorstep.
Lola is John’s mother. She is one of those women that everyone calls Mother. Probably as old as dirt, but with a round brown face that barely showed a wrinkle. She was active, a spry little thing: church mother, babysitter, unapologetic counselor, aggressively friendly, yet coolly dismissive. Apparently John was not the apple that fell from the tree, but the one that was picked up and thrown into another field entirely.
Lola would come in and walk through the house, quietly inspecting as she did. I would make a pot of tea and ask how things were going for her. Talk always slid back towards the baby, and John, and how it didn’t look like I was eating right. There were times when she brought me casseroles and chicken, and once, a whole pot of greens. I accepted all but kindly reminded her that I was having a baby, not a whale.
This made her laugh. I was too skinny.
Which made me laugh as well.
“You must take care of yourself,” she sobered me with a hand on my shoulder. “This is a very tenuous time. You must come out of it the right way.” There was a glimmer in her eye. Something that I did not understand.
She meant well, I imagined, but I didn’t like her. I wanted space. And I didn’t want to be measured. No matter how Lola did the math, I was missing something.
I laid down one afternoon after one of Lola’s impromptu visits. That was the first time that I remember having the dream.
Is there something wrong about not dreaming of your lover?
Before we married, I never dreamed about making love with John. Maybe back then, there was no need. We were always together. There had been men before John, for me, but nothing serious. He was really the first man I ever ached for, who made me crave him. The deepest of all my experiences came from his hands, his body, and being in his arms.
So that afternoon I dreamed of him, and my heart began to race.
He was stood at the shore of the lake. And he smiled at me. I could feel him watching. He turned and went out into the water until he stood waist deep. The skies darkened overhead.
“There’s a storm coming.” I told him. “ We should go inside.”
“The water is warm,” he said, ignoring my discomfort. “Come on.” His voice dropped lower, teasing. “Come in with me.”
He held out a hand to me.
Something changed. The expression. He was serious. I felt a warm drop of rain hit my eyelid. The wind picked my hair up and blew it around.
“Vivian. Baby.” he said.
I woke in a sweat.
It was raining outside, a flurry of warm rain that would soon expire. The fan rotated above the bed, circulating the hot air like a dog chasing its own tail. The clock by my bed showed that two hours had passed since I laid down. Good, I thought. Lola had made it home before the rain.
I turned on the television, and the weatherman was complaining about a surprise storm sweeping up the coast. It had already landed in Greenville, and was moving fast. No kidding, I thought dryly. The picture faded in and out, expanding and contracting for a moment before the screen went black.
The lights went out, with a sickening pop.
It was still light enough outside that I could see, but that wouldn’t to last long. The storm brought twilight with it, pushing out the last traces of sun.
I kept a transistor radio on top the refrigerator. After fumbling with a pack of batteries I was able to load it and get it working.
I wanted the noise, to hear someone’s voice, to not feel so alone. The tinge of panic in the weatherman’s voice was catching.
Hurricanes were not uncommon during that time of year. But the announcer would not admit that it was a hurricane.
“Come on, you coward,” I said to the radio. “Go ahead and say how bad it really is.”
My voice echoed loudly through the emptiness.
More than anything, I didn’t like the idea of going down into the dark basement by myself—exactly what I’d have to do if they forecasted gale force winds.
I gathered all the candles I could find and brought them downstairs with me. Sitting in the kitchen, I lit all the candles and lined them up on the countertop. I kept the radio on the table in front of me. They had paused for a moment in their storm coverage to talk about local news, and I felt my mind begin to drift.
And then, it happened.
A pain ripped through me, like a knife cutting through the core of my body. I couldn’t scream. My eyes filled with tears. I clutched my middle. Falling from the chair, the cold linoleum met my body. I reached my hand out, and felt something.
I saw a black shoe.
“Vivian,” John said, his voice filled with concern. He bent down and touched my shoulders.
The next pain came like a wave, and the world went black.
The rest, I remember in flashes—because of the pain, and because I shut my eyes against it.
John picked me up and carried me into our room. I was crying. I remember screaming at him, but I don’t know what I said. His face was a calm mask, but I saw the fear in his eyes.
He told me I would be alright.
He said the baby wasn’t coming just yet.
“How do you know?” I spat angrily.
I felt the bed move as he stretched out beside me.
“I said, he’s not coming yet,” he replied firmly. “It’s okay. I’m here.”
I could hear the rain outside. Clutching his hand, I sighed. It felt like the first breath I’d had in minutes, like a swimmer emerging after having nearly drowned.
“Rest,” John said. “I’m home now.”
When I woke again, the pain had subsided. I felt pressure, but not the searing pain I had before. Uncomfortable, but bearable. I thought maybe it was a dream, but John still lay beside me.
It was his presence that roused me first. The sweet smell of soap mixed with his aftershave, the warm saltiness of his skin. This was my man. He turned towards me and I smiled.
“How did you get home early?” I asked. “ The storm’s coming…”
“I have a very pregnant wife. They took pity and let me come home early.”
“I thought I was going to deliver here all by myself,” I said, tears springing into my eyes. “I have to get to a hospital.”
Something moved in those dark eyes of his. “Viv. The roads are washed out. We’re going to have to ride this out.”
“How…?” questions were swirling through my head.
“I called your doctor. He thinks you’re having false labor.”
“Well… How?” I wanted to know how on earth he had been able to call anyone when the lights were still out. Then again, maybe he’d used his cell.
“The contractions are too far apart. You were asleep for almost thirty minutes.”
“One man, asking another man about my contractions,” I said. “That’s just great.”
“I am a trained medic. I can handle it.”
“Well, I might not be able to. I need drugs.”
I wanted to turn on my side, but was afraid that any shift might cause another surge of pain.
John seemed to know. He gently turned my body so that I was facing the wall. He moved close, so that my back was against his chest. “You’ll be just fine,” he said.
“No I’m not. I hate you.”
This made him chuckle, which only made me more angry. His voice was soft, his breath warm in my ear. “Yeah right. I know better.”
I wasn’t feeling contractions anymore, but I was afraid. He rubbed my back, and for a long time we were both silent.
The wind started to roar outside.
John’s lips were against my ear when he spoke again. “Remember when we were kids, and we used to hide under Mama’s stairs? All the times we’d make out in the closet?”
Oh, I did remember. His scent and his body pushed up against me in the darkness. His breath hot against my face, and his hands moving across my body. I lowered my voice to a whisper. “What made you bring that up?”
“Cause we’re in the dark,” he said.
There was a clap of thunder . When lightning struck, everything looked silver.
John put his hand against my stomach. His face was shadowy in that light, a fine outline against the darkness.
Maybe it was mention of Lola’s name that made her appear in my dream.
We stood at the edge of the lake together. The sky was a deep, hot green, and the water reflected that color back. I smelled the coming of the storm in the air: dust, water, heat, ozone.
“Did you know,” Lola said, “that when John was a little boy, I used to sing him a lullaby?”
I looked at her, and stumbled backwards. Her eyes had gone completely green, like the water, only white where clouds moved.
“Water,” she said, “is life.”
The sound of the shingles coming off the roof awakened me.
I sat up in bed. “John!” I screamed.
Where was he? I stumbled out of the bed and into that hall. He came from the stairway and ran towards me. He tackled me, and shoved me back into a closet. He held me tight, pressing himself so hard against me that it was almost painful. The stubble on his cheek pressed against my face.
“I love you,” he said, “tell Joshua that I love him.”
Those were the last words I heard before the hurricane swallowed everything.
In the hospital, Lola watched over me like a weary ghost.
Her tear-rimmed eyes were filled with emotion. The first thing out of my mouth was to ask about the baby. Joshua had been born one day ago, not long after the ambulance brought me to the hospital. He was well and healthy, seven pounds, three ounces. The nurses would bring him around now that I was awake, so that I could hold him.
One of my arms was broken, and with all the pain and the trauma, the doctors had decided to sedate me after the baby was delivered.
Once I was assured that Joshua was fine, then there was only one other question.
Only one other grief could cause Lola so much pain.
I knew the answer, somewhere inside myself. I felt the moment that John’s body was ripped away from me. I’d heard snatches of conversation between the nurses as I dived in and out of consciousness. Our house had been destroyed. They said that all that remained was a broken fireplace. And the closet where I’d ridden out the storm.
My eyes filled with tears as I asked, “Where is my husband?”
She barely could say the words. It seemed to take her breath out of her. I had never before felt so sorry for her. What she said shocked me.
Two men had come to the hospital yesterday, dressed in formal uniforms. When she saw them, she knew their intent. One of the men was a commander, and he repeatedly apologized that it had taken so long for them to arrive with word about John.
With the storm, and all the chaos that followed, no one had been able to reach to family with the sad news..
John had been killed overseas five days before his son was born.
Copyright 2010 Lori Titus