Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Paperback pretties!


If you are looking for some pretty new books to put in your hands, check out these two new print releases that just hit the shelves today! Clean Teen Publishing presents the release of A LONG WAY HOME by Becky Doughty and LIGHTNING SEALED by Lila Felix.

A LIGHT IN THE DARK by Becky Doughty

Book Two in The Fallout Series. Grab book one for free in e-book format.


Ebook - A Light in the Dark


Book Two in The Lucent Series. Grab book one for free in e-book format.



Monday, April 11, 2016

Manic Monday.

Manic Monday!!!

This one's title was/is Between the Folds.

*warning: this one contains domestic violence*

“Where in the hell have you been,” he spat in my face.
Most people got a ‘welcome home, honey’ or at least a smile of some sort.  My mom used to drop everything and kiss my dad as soon as he got home from work.  I got Rot Mouth in my face, daily accusing me of something—everything.
It was when I wasn’t greeted like this that I knew something was up.
Because when he was nice to me—that’s when you knew things were about to get bad.
A clump of his greasy hair broke out across his brow and I shut my mouth just in case a stray piece of dandruff decided to flutter my mouth’s direction.
“I went to work, Brent—you know that.  You always do this.” I tried to shrug him off by rolling my eyes and moving around him.  His enormous hand slammed into the wall beside me—I flinched.  As it passed my face I felt the wind of its motion and my eyes burned with the beginnings of unshed tears.
“You’re deflecting little girl.” I somehow managed to subdue the gag that pulsed in my gorge.  He always called me little girl and sometimes asked me to call him Daddy—it was vomit inducing.
How in the hell did it come to this?
And why did I put up with it?
I couldn’t even claim that he’d once been sweet.  He hadn’t.  He was stacked, muscles head to toe, but that’s because he spent all day in the garage pumping iron.  And I could shallowly admit that his, built like a mutha, body was what I fell for.  That’s where the attraction and interest ended.  But I’d apparently read too many bad boy books where the guy is rude in the beginning until the girl breaks him and then he’s Romeo in tight jeans with a motorcycle.
Because I couldn’t break this motherfucker to save my life.
Maybe I just didn’t have a big enough wrecking ball.
Or maybe his head was made of marble.
Or maybe I’d confused fiction with bullshit psychology and now I was sitting in a heaping, steaming pile of it.
“Brent, please.  I worked all day on my feet.  I’m exhausted and the house still needs to be cleaned and I have to make dinner.”
His lip curled as he processed his options, “Fine.  But don’t think I won’t know later.  A man can feel when his woman is—not the same—when she’s been with someone else.”
He was off his rocker.  I worked twelve hour shifts at a shady gas station that sold smoking paraphernalia and lubricants in the display counter.  My feet ached and I always looked like crap. 
Who would even want someone like me?
And let’s just be real here—I could give a rat’s ass about extracurricular activities when I was this tired with Brent or anyone else.
Forget a bird.  God, please make me a sledgehammer so I can bust his paranoid balls.
“You know I wouldn’t do that.  What do you want for dinner?”
He shrugged and moved back to his carved in place in the corner of our secondhand couch.
“Shit if I care.  But make it quick, I’m starving.”
“Yeah, of course.”

I hung my purse on the hook by the door and dumped the empty Ziploc bags into the sink from my lunch’s sandwich.  That was how poor we were—I had wash out the damned Ziploc bag that I used for my cheapest bologna sandwich on cardboard white bread. The sink was full.  Brent ate tons of eggs.  So he fried the eggs, which I didn’t understand since I thought all that butter was counterproductive, ate them in a clean plate, and then allowed the yolk to congeal, matting it to the plastic surface.  We didn’t have real plates; we had the ones that the local superstore put out for summer.  We had red, yellow and orange—all bought for one dollar for a five pack on the summer clearance aisle—‘cause we were just that high class.
Washing dishes gave me time to wrestle with myself. Brent had his dj looking headphones on, playing Xbox Live, while I washed, so it always gave me ample time to rewind and reflect on things.
Like who in the fuck had I become?
Like I was a detriment to the female species.
Like a little arsenic on his cookies would make them pretty and slowly make the giant fall.

I had become a professional at making spaghetti in thirty minutes.  And spaghetti was cheap.  I’d dropped out of school at seventeen for Brent Baxter, the part time crabber—I didn’t even like crab.  And when I told people what he did, you could see the judgment written all over their face—um, yeah, he catches crabs—the crustacean, not the STD.  My mother warned me, my friends warned me, but did I listen? 

Well, take a look around big girl, no, you didn’t listen.

I guess I’d been attracted to his lawlessness—his rebellion.  He didn’t need to work that clock in clock out mundane job for the man.  No, he was above that.  I convinced myself we could live on love.  I figured out that was a crock of shit after I started my period one day and didn’t have a dime to my name to buy tampons.  Love doesn’t really cover feminine hygiene—and mother nature doesn’t take credit.

“Oh God, spaghetti again?  Shit, woman, can’t you cook anything else?” He spits a little on my bare shoulder and I can envision the amoebas crawling into my pores.
I wanted to spray myself down with hydrogen peroxide.
“It’s all we have until payday tomorrow, Brent.  I’m sorry.”
See?  It’s when those kinds of pathetic words spew from my mouth that I wonder if my uterus is marching downtown with a picket sign that reads, “Dismantle Patriarchy!’

I dished up two plates, mine in a salad plate.  He closely monitored what I ate.  He said he didn’t want me to become a fat slob.  This was coming from the man who created golden splatters on our white plastic trailer walls and left masterpieces of skid marks in his white briefs.
I ate quickly, knowing that a houseful of work had its finger in its ears, singing ‘Na na na boo boo.”

“Get everything cleaned up by eight.  My boys are coming over.  And go grab some beer while you’re at it.  We’re gonna have an Assassin’s Creed all nighter.”
I couldn’t help but secretly laugh at a stray centimeter of pasta that was stuck in his sideburn.
Seventeen year old me somehow found those chops appealing.
How does one get a noodle all the way over there?
I nodded and took his plate and put it in the sink.
“Great, another night of no sleep,”
I didn’t acknowledge the motion until I was slammed against the refrigerator, but he’d used my ponytail as a handle. 
“What did you just say?”
I instantly crumpled into the pitiful, apologetic girl whose voice and demeanor sometimes got herself out of a beating—sometimes.
“Nothing Brent, I’m just really tired.”
“Why do you do this?  You and your effing comments.   Always with the comments.  Do I care what you think about what I do?  You think you’re better than me?”
Even after a full plate of spaghetti, all I could smell was sewage breath and that noodle hanging from his born and bred redneck side-hair.
“No, no, you and your friends just get loud sometimes—especially when you drink.  I have to get up at four to work.  That’s all.  I’m sorry.”
He slammed my head back one more time against the cold metal of the fridge.  A riptide of terror weaseled down through my skeleton knowing what was in store for me.
“Why do you do this?  You always do this.  Why?  Why can’t you just shut up?  That mouth should be used for one thing and one thing only.  When are you gonna get it?
“Never,” I knew when I said it that I’d handed him the ticket and he was the carnie that would throw this deranged ride into gear.
It had been a full month since he’d beaten on me—he was right on schedule.
If he didn’t explode like this once a month, he couldn’t function properly. 
Like it was his menstruation cycle or something.

His hand closed in on my neck, and my eyes felt like cartoon caricatures, bulging, ready to burst from the sockets.  The skin on my face reddened—I could feel the blood scrambling to my cheeks, warning me of the impending impact.  My hands fumbled desperately for something to make it stop, his shirt, a spatula, something.  My feet hung down, his hand holding me inches from the floor.  The other hand made a fist and it cracked into my mouth—the split of my lip grew a bloody cloud and then let it go.  He was still yelling but now I couldn’t make out the words.  I saw his mouth moving and I could spot a concave black hole in the back right of his mouth—the man never went to a dentist.  And his lips, they were always chapped and peeling. I focused on a sliver of skin as he ground his methodologies into me—I didn’t hear a one of them, but I knew them all by heart.
He did this a lot.  I had a plethora of infinity scarves and cover up to prove it.  People who worked with me thought I was trying to dress like a celebrity or something.
He waved a little in my face and rolled his eyes like I’d disappointed him by caving so fast.
I felt my left leg twitch once— feeling unattached to my hip.  I called it the twitch of death and I welcomed it because I knew it wouldn’t be long now before I blacked out completely.  It was the only way he’d leave me alone.
Warm urine pooled in my bladder and then released the flow down the un-twitching leg.
And then the world went cold.

Hours or minutes later, I didn’t know which, my knee jumped, spasmed.  I could feel the musty smelling air push against my face. 
Was the heater on?
I opened up my eyes, only a splice to get a hold on my situation.  Black folds of rippled plastic puffed out another wave of hot air in my face.  I still didn’t know where I was.  My hair was wet.  It was plastered to the side of my face and it stunk—ammonia?  Pee—it was pee. I heard one sound and I smirked a little at the sound of the clunky, cranky compressor—refrigerator, I was horizontal in front of the refrigerator.  Then it all came back to me.  I didn’t move yet.  I had to assess the situation.  I could hear the familiar clicks and toggles of the Xbox controllers.  I flexed different muscles, still sprawled on the floor, testing out my ability to walk before I even lifted my head from the floor.  All limbs seemed present and accounted for, but my neck was frozen in a vice of pain and as I realized my injury, the pain reared its head and made sure I knew it was there.

I used my arms to prop up my torso first.  I was wet from head to toe—pee.  And though the stinging pain in my neck almost blinded me, I kept my mouth shut.  There was still a chance I could get to the shower and to bed without another incident—especially with his friends here.  Yes, he choked me and left me on the floor while he and his friends went Xbox wild.  It didn’t surprise me—there was the real sadness.

I slid first through the puddle and then crawled down the narrow, wood panel walled hallway until I reached the bathroom.  There was no use in stopping to look at myself in the mirror.  Give me some purple, black and blue crayons and I could draw it for you better than DaVinci himself.  I lay flat on my back and pushed my hips upward, peeling my jeans from my legs and kicking them off as quietly as possible.  Then I finagled the buttons on my shirt, and flailed around until I was naked.  The side of the bathtub acts as my crutch so I can bend over it and start the hot water.  I mounted the rim of the bathtub like getting on the saddle of a horse and then threw the other one over until I’m prostrate under the cleansing spray.  I wash my hair with bar soap since I was still scared to stand and my shampoo was lazing in a plastic hammock hanging by the neck of the sprayer. 
“You suck, shampoo,” I garbled at it.

I lathered everything that I can reach in that posture and managed to wrestle myself back out of the tub.  I didn’t even bother the hamper with my nasty clothes; I just let the trashcan take care of the mess instead.  My clenched hand and a sturdy vanity finally allowed me to stand and bundle myself in a towel.  I cracked the door open just enough to reassess the dunderhead situation and hear more of the same ticking and grunting.  My toes whispered down the rest of the hall to our bedroom and I slipped on an old pair of pajama pants and a tank top, downed some aspirin, and gently lowered myself into bed.

But there was something triggered in this attack.  Some sense of ‘survival of the fittest’ attitude sprung from the rest of the complacent nature and kept me wide awake. 
I’d had enough.
Homelessness was even better than this.
Death was better than this—at least it would afford me sleep.
Never ending sleep would be my heaven, met at the gates by a warm blanket and given the tour by a feather pillow.

I laid on the edge of the bed; bugs flew around the yellow light outside, right above the trailer next to us.  A gold halo surrounded it—my mind swirled with more thoughts of the pearly gates and a fear lodged itself in my throat—I’d probably never get in.
I was losing it quickly.
I had around twenty seven dollars in my pocket.  I didn’t have very many clothes, so I could grab those easy as pie.  I had a few pieces of my grandmother’s jewelry in a deposit box at the bank, but I’d rather starve than to sell those. 

An hour or so later, the trailer shook with his skunk-ape footprints coming down the hall and I commanded my body to act relaxed and play possum—or at least sleep.

He slammed into the door frame and I somehow kept the startle within me—he was drunk.  He cursed the doorway to hell and then fell into the bed, mumbling still.  I knew his breathing by heart—not the cutesy way some women know their men sound as they deepen in sleep.  No, I had to know for my sanity.  I was only free when he was jailed in slumber. 

Shallow nose breathing turned into a chortling snore and I turned over to look at the beast and test the waters.  I watched him, muscled and chiseled, such a Trojan Horse if I’d ever seen one.  I lifted one of his hands and then let go and it flopped down on the bed, not disturbing its owner.  This was my chance.
I got out of the bed, grabbed one of my discount store fake gym bags and stuffed jeans, shirts, underwear, socks, and the only two bras I owned into it.  I grabbed my flip flops and carried them, afraid of the noise they’d cause.  In hindsight, I should’ve done something horrible to him like superglued his balls to his thigh, but I didn’t have the will. 

I only had the will to leave. 

I couldn’t take the car.  It was his, in his name, the insurance was in his name, the whole shebang.  But I had two legs.  I got to the main road outside of the trailer park and to my right was the city where I knew I could get somewhere with my twenty some odd dollars.  And to my left was my mother’s house, at least a three hour drive and I had no car.  But she’d kicked me out when I dropped out of school and then I married Brent because he claimed not to believe in sleeping with someone before marriage.  It was all horse shit, of course, because I later found out I was one of many. 

But he married the dumb one who would stick around and not defend herself. 

So I went right that time, instead of wrong. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Manic Monday

Once upon a time there was an almost-book titled: You Little Thief.

This is as far as I got. 

Happy Manic Monday.

*as always, not edited*

Her eyes fluttered back and forth surveying the perimeters of the tiny jewelry store with the cottage-like feel.  It would be so easy—they’d made it too damned easy.  Yes, it was a relatively small city and the people were mostly honest—but for those who had the slightest sticky fingers—it was a cake walk. 
She broke down the place in pieces.  The most blatant offense was the cashier behind the register.  She was sixteen, maybe seventeen, macerating her gum and clicking furiously on her pink sequin adorned iPhone like it was paying her salary instead of the proprietor.  She could care less about anything going on around her.  She was oblivious. 
The second foul were the three exits—three damned exits.  Five seconds would be all it took to claim there was a hurt kid or a screaming woman outside.  The pubescent cashier would be out the door to witness the drama and the merchandise could be in her bag and out the door before the teen queen could pop another bubble.
But bless their hearts they tried—a pitiful, miniscule attempt at security in the form of an archeaic video camera perched in the corner which swiveled at such a snail pace, it gave her the blind spot she would need to make her move and slip out through exit number two. 
Her fingers twitched for the feeling again—no matter how wrong it was.  Blood vessels raged beneath her skin begging for the cold, undeniable knowledge that what she held didn’t belong to her—but she’d taken it anyway.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tuesday Teaser from Hip Whip

Hip Whip is coming soon! 

That’s when Angel stood up, crossing her arms over her chest and stared me down like the Rock training me for combat. “Look. I love you but I’m tired of this bullshit. You are a damned derby bad ass woman. Where are your balls?”

Angel needed to learn the definition of ironic.

Although, she had a point.

“Okay, okay. I get it. I’ll say yes next time he asks me to lunch.”

Her head shook so hard that I thought a migraine would hit her any minute.

“Nope. That ship has sailed. Call him—like now.”

I stood up in protest, not, for once, giving a damn about who was around me and whether or not they were gawking. They were not going to make me call him—no way.
Blood rose from Angel’s neck all the way to her face and I was afraid that hot lava would burst from her ears if she wasn’t careful.
But I was most scared because when she opened her mouth to speak, her voice was flat and unnervingly stable. “You will call him and ask him out or I will tell the entire team to go to his dorm room and serenade him—while you are duct-taped in the hallway. You—think—I’m—kidding. And before you drop in with ‘You don’t know where he lives’, remember that I work at the Bursar’s office—I have my ways.”

Dealing with Angel when she was on a mission was like climbing a ladder near Damien on a tricycle. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Manic Monday

By now you know the drill, right?

This one is from a book I titled: Chrysalis

*not edited*

Give me a shout if you like it. 

        I was dismissed.  Her mom, rosy faced with great purple crescents under her eyes, stood in front of her room in that cold hospital hallway and told me it was best if I left—per her wishes.  And as they cowardly snuck back into her room, stark white and sterilized, I caught a glance of her.  She was clad in that thin diamond patterned patient gown with way too many ties and loops—refusing to look at me.  And too many bandages—and more tears than I’ve seen her shed in our whole lives.  And I felt like I was on the cusp of collapse.
        I took the few steps to the other side of the hallway and let myself slip down it until my butt hit the cold, bleach smelling floors.  My feet sprawled out in front of me, a hazard to those who passed me, on trails to visit those who would actually accept their presence.  My presence in her room was negated.  But it felt like my presence in her life was in the real state of limbo.  Doors opened and closed around me, family and friends, flowers and balloons entered and exited with promises of the next time.  But her door stayed sealed. 
        I heard a familiar rhythm of footsteps and looked up for the first time since facing her parents.  My father sat beside me in silence.  And I knew he would remain silent as long as I needed. 
        “She won’t—she won’t let me see her.  She won’t even talk to me.”
        He heaved a heavy breath through his mouth and banged his head against the boring khaki wall behind him. He wiped his hands on his business suit slacks hoping they’d help him with a fatherly response.
        “Give her some time.  She’s been through a lot.  But you two have been through so much together.  She’ll come around.  Don’t give up on her.  Posey needs you more than ever right now, whether she admits it or not.”
        “Please don’t make me leave Dad.  Tomorrow is Sunday.  I don’t have school.  Don’t make me leave her yet.”   I was ready to get on my  knees and beg if I had to.
        “I’ll make you a deal.  I promised your mother that I would at least make sure you ate something.  So don’t make a liar out of me.  Let’s go downstairs, get something in your stomach and then I’ll leave you here.”
        I didn’t answer immediately and he knew that as my silent protest.  I never talked back to my parents, I just stayed quiet.
        “Bridge, she’s gonna need to lean on your strength to help her get through this.  If you’re not taking care of yourself, then you won’t be any use to anyone.  You’ve been here since ten Friday night and I bet you haven’t eaten since dinner Friday night.  Am I right?”
        I shrugged, too stubborn to admit how correct he was.  It was now seven on Saturday night.  But how could I eat when she couldn’t.  Hell, I had a hard time sitting here talking, because she couldn’t talk to anyone for more than a few seconds.
        “I’m not really asking, Bridge.” He got up and waited.  My stomach betrayed me by growling in agreement with him. 
        “Fine, but can I get it to go?  I need to be here, Dad.  I can’t be gone if they come out, or if something happens to her.  What if she needs me?”
        He put his arm around my shoulders and squeezed.  “Son, she’s on so much pain medication.  She barely has minutes of lucidity, much less time to miss you.”
        I pushed away from him. “Don’t tell me that.  Somewhere in that burned body she’s there.  She doesn’t like to be alone.  She hates the dark.  Don’t tell me she’s not missing me. She’s my best friend and I…”
        “I’m sorry.  You’re probably right.  Come on, I promised your mother I’d make you eat.”
        As we passed the rooms, some doors wide open, some ajar, the nausea peaked and then subsided, waves of health and sickness.  She was worse than any patient that I’d laid eyes on in the whole burn unit. And the burn unit here in Minton, Kansas was the only one in the state. So I knew all the bad cases had been sent here.  I’d paced the halls for nearly six hours the night before, waiting for someone to tell me something, waiting for some word of hope.  And then Posey’s mom came out and told me she was in bad shape but she’d recover, simple, cold words, all the while carrying a face that told me she didn’t think me worthy of an update, much less an explanation of said update.  It wasn’t me, per se, it was her.  They were beside themselves with worry and it animated itself through icy words.
        We got in line with the nurses and doctors, all pretending to be the experts on health while they filled their trays with cheeseburgers, chili fries and pie.  My dad slapped a tri-slotted plate on my tray.  It was filled with fish sticks, peas and mashed potatoes that looked like they’d been brought forward in time from a 1970’s TV dinner. 
        He grabbed an orange juice from the standing refrigerator and put it on my tray. 
        “Don’t.  Just don’t.  I know you’ve only drunk your precious Dr. Pepper all night.  You’re probably wired as all get out.”  He was right.  I’d even had to bum a dollar from an old man for the last one.  All I had was a debit card.
        “Ok.”  We brought our trays to sit down at a table and suddenly I realized I’d been hood winked.  I’d wanted to get the meal to go.  But here I was; real silverware in hand, no Styrofoam plate in sight.
        I stuffed the food in my mouth and went through the motions of chewing.  But it all tasted the same to me.  It tasted like time wasted.  It felt like missed opportunity.  Halfway through the peas, I realized I didn’t even eat peas.  I chugged the orange juice in one pull and slammed it down, contest won.
        “Just calm down, Son.  Let me eat and then you can go back up.”
        I loved my dad, I did.  He was always there for me.  He took off work for my swim meets and my water polo matches, even the out of town ones.  He paid attention when I was down and when I was up.  He was what most people wished for in a father.  But right now he was royally pissing me off.
        “I ate.  The deal was—eat and then back to her.  We made a deal.”
        “Ok,” he relented.   “Let me give you some cash in case you need it.  And tomorrow, early, I want you home.  You have to go to school.  I won’t compromise on school.”
        “I promise I will Dad.  Thanks.”  I hugged him quick and got back upstairs to my girl or her room, since they wouldn’t let me in.  But I didn’t believe for one flat second that she’d wished me away.  It just wasn’t possible.
        I sat.  I paced.  I crossed and uncrossed my legs.  The nurses spoke to me.  I spoke back.  I watched trays of food go in for her parents and empty trays come out.  Her Dad came out and looked at me with pity. 
        “Bridger, I thought we asked you to go home.  She doesn’t want you here.”
        I stood up to defend myself, “Sir, she’s my best friend.  Please.”
        His next few words were spoken without any emotion and his eyes stared at some fleck on my shoulder, some crease in my collar.  They were shifty and uncertain. 
        “Bridger, go home.  I’m gonna go use the restroom and get something to drink.” He wrangled with his collar before continuing, “If you’re here when I get back, I’m calling security.”
        I stared after him as he stomped away from me.  I touched her name on the placard outside the room and told the raised plastic letters goodbye and that I loved her.  It was all I could do. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Supernatural Chronicles on SALE!

The Supernatural Chronicles: New Orleans is on SALE!

99 cents for 10 novellas from 10 bestselling authors (including me)!

What are you waiting for? One-click now!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tuesday Teaser. Hip Whip

A tiny teaser from Hip Whip (Coming Soon).

"Standing outside my Sociology class, holding the door open for countless people, I stared at the text like a fool.

Cause that’s what I was for Scout Black, a girl who didn’t give me the time of day, a damned fool."