One of My Biggest Literary Pet Peeves Done Right

Those of you who know me in person, or know me a little better than just reading my blog from time to time, know that I’m pretty picky. This goes for books too. For example, I really love mystery/suspense/thrillers, but I really HATE (with the flames of a thousand campfires) when the main character/investigator is a civilian/layperson without even the tiniest bit of tangential experience. I’m talking about major crimes and conspiracies that are solved by bike messengers and cab drivers and grocery store cashiers. And it’s not like the bike messengers and cab drivers and grocery store cashiers are taking evening or online classes in law or criminology. No, they go home and watch The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones like the rest of us.

So, to sum up, I hate those novels.

However…I just finished reading Sister by Rosamund Lupton. And it was amazing. It was definitely the second best book I’ve read this year and probably one of the best books I’ve ever read. Period. And guess what? The main character, Beatrice, “investigates” her sister’s disappearance/murder and she isn’t a detective, a lawyer, or even one of those plucky reporters. In fact, she worked for a business design company, creating logos and ad copy. Why didn’t throw my Kindle across the room and take a long walk to calm my rage? Well, for one the Kindle was a gift from Hubby-pants a few years ago, but I mostly didn’t rage out because I LOVED the way the book was written. It was Beatrice’s love for and intimate knowledge of her sister that propelled her and kept her from accepting the police’s version of events. The characterization was done so well that I never questioned her lack of experience. I mean, she suspected everyone in the whole book! She looked crazy in the process! She never gave up though. And that’s what made it believable. Add in the fact that it’s formatted as though Beatrice is writing a letter to her lost sister, recapping the events that led to her finding the killer, and there’s so much to love about this story. I highly recommend you give it a read. I stumbled across it when my local library suggested it because I’d enjoyed Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and they were spot on.

So, readers, do you have any literary pet peeves with exceptions? Any novels that, though they exhibit something you normally hate in a book, you ended up enjoying the novel anyway? I’d love to hear about them!

Jerks & Irks LXII: The Pros and Cons of a Writing Retreat

Well, folks, I’m back from the weekend writing retreat in Rehoboth Beach, DE. I am happy to say I was pretty productive. I regret to say I don’t know if I’ll do another one. What? I know. Crazy talk. But let’s break the experience down a bit, shall we?

PROS:

  • I was very productive. I wrote over 10,000 words between Friday night, when we checked in, and Saturday evening. It came out to be about fourteen ‘bare bones’ chapters. I wrote so much I had to stop early. While the other ladies were still typing away, I buried my face in my Kindle. Check out was early on Sunday morning and I left even earlier than that, without so much as cracking open my laptop. I had nothing else left in me.
  • It’s easy to write when everyone else around you is writing. I currently write full-time and aim for at least a thousand words a day when I write. But some days I don’t feel like it and some days Hubby-pants comes home early. Other days, there are shows clogging up the DVR that require my attention. But when there are five other people, arduously working, the television is off, etc., there’s really nothing to do but write or risk feeling like an ass. Even though I had nothing left to do by 9pm on Saturday, I still felt a little like an ass when I curled up on the couch with my Kindle.
  • The surroundings are inspirational. Not only was the cottage about twenty feet from the water, not only was there a beautiful view from the main window, not only was there a lovely gas fireplace, but the cottage itself was nice and clean. Why does that matter? It just created a sense of “not a care in the world.” When I’m home, even though I could strictly dedicate two full days to writing and vow not to turn on the TV or surf the internet, the environment isn’t always very appealing. The stains in the carpet. The cats in the hallway throwing up hairballs. The dishes in the sink. The cars driving by. My dumbass neighbor, Tool Time, clamoring away at some home project. These things aren’t inspirational, no matter how nicely my desk is set up.

CONS:

  • There was NO WiFi. My phone barely had enough reception to send texts to my husband. I’m sure there are other locales with WiFi available, but this past weekend, not having WiFi was a drag. Not because I missed scrolling through Facebook (okay, maybe I missed that a little bit), but because writing psychological/crime fiction takes a lot of research. When I arrived at the cottage, I had less than a thousand words written of the next book, Blood in the Paper. I had a general storyline, but I hadn’t done any research yet. I do research as I go, as questions arise. Without WiFi, I was forced to keep writing without knowing if my characters’ surroundings, circumstances, and decisions were even plausible. I ended up stopping on Saturday evening because I refused to go any further without knowing if I was on the right track, if my story was realistic. Before I picked up my Kindle, I read through what I had written so far and jotted down any questions that popped into my head. When all was said and done, I had SEVEN notebook pages of questions that needed answering! Now, do you see why I stopped? The worst case scenario is I have to scrap all the work I did over the weekend and start over and that really grinds my gears, guys.
  • I don’t write like everyone else. I already knew that I don’t fancy writing to music. Instead, I prefer writing with TV reruns on in the background as white noise. At the retreat, however, everyone was fine writing in silence. This drove me nuts. The sound of six people click-clacking away at their keyboards for hours on end was like an auditory form of torture that I think they should experiment with at Guantanamo. On Saturday afternoon, one of the women mentioned she was going for a walk on the beach and I couldn’t put my shoes on fast enough to join her, to hear gentle waves instead of incessant typing for just a few minutes. When we returned from the walk, I found the sound of typing even more jarring and had to sit outside for a little while so I didn’t overturn furniture in a rage of irritation. Why didn’t I just force myself to listen to music, you ask? Because I don’t have any songs stored on my phone or laptop; I love streaming too much. And without WiFi or proper cell phone reception, I couldn’t stream a damn thing.
  • I really did feel like an ass when I couldn’t write anymore. As inspirational as the surroundings and the company proved to be, I don’t like being judged for not writing. At home, there are no judgments. If I want to stop to watch an hour of TV, I can. If I want to catch some of the Final Four games, or watch the Yankees for a bit, I can. There, like I said above, you feel like an ass if you stop writing. I actually had to explain myself to someone when I picked up my Kindle in lieu of my laptop. Mind you, the person wasn’t accusatory when they asked if I was “done for the night” or whatever, but a small part of me resented being asked.
  • People have different sleep schedules. After the whole No WiFi thing, this probably bothered me the most. I slept in the living room, on an air mattress beside the fireplace. It was very cozy and I enjoyed not having to share a room with anyone else (I’m a very light sleeper, even with ear plugs). However, I did not enjoy having to wake up at 7am on both Saturday and Sunday. Not that I’m the type of person to sleep until noon, but I normally wake up at 8 or 9am. I think that’s respectable. Then, even though I was tired later in the day, I had to watch everyone else be able to retreat to their rooms to nap whereas I didn’t have any such option, being set up in the living room. At night, I felt like I was kicking people out when I began setting up my bed to go to sleep. I felt like they wanted to keep writing. Again, I felt judged for wanting to call it a day a little before midnight. Now, I understand that these complaints are probably the sole result of having been the one who slept in the living room, but had I shared a room with someone else, you would have seen that listed here under ‘cons’ instead. I would have been the one waking up whoever was in the living room, or the person sharing the room with me would have woken me up. I would have been the one who wanted everyone to be quiet while I was taking a nap. I would have been the one who felt put out when the living room sleeper set up their air mattress. So you see, there’s no winning when it comes to sleep schedules.

All in all, I’ll summarize the experience like this: My first weekend writing retreat was quite possibly very productive (only time and research will tell), but the arrangements themselves were a bit uncomfortable. Will I do it again? Not sure. Maybe when I start the last book in the Blood for Blood Series, I’ll venture out again to get a 10,000 word head start. But I will only go if there’s WiFi and I have my own room. 😉

 

Jerks & Irks LIX: E-Book Extras?

Last week, I posted several reasons for loving my Kindle. Were any of you wondering if there was anything I didn’t love about my Kindle? Because there’s one tiny thing. Well, I’m assuming it’s a tiny thing because I’ve never heard anyone else complain about it.

What am I rambling about? Allow me to paint a picture for you. I am about to start a new book. I pick one from the TBR list I keep on my phone. I search for the title in my Kindle’s library. I click on the novel I want to read and my Kindle opens to…the first page of the first chapter.

That just drives me batty, guys.

I wanna read the fore-matter, dammit!

I wanna see the cover art again! Especially if it was particularly eye-catching.

I wanna read the list of other books by the author! What if there’s something I’ve heard of, but hadn’t attributed to the author? What if I fall in love with the book and want to read more by the author? Wouldn’t it be helpful to think, “Oh, there’s that list at the front of the book that I can look over!”

I wanna see who the author deemed worthy enough to dedicate the book to! In our current society, where we can follow authors on Facebook and Twitter and get to know them intimately, why wouldn’t I want another peek into the author’s life? Why wouldn’t I want to know who inspires and drives their creativity?

I wanna see the Table of Contents! I want to know how many chapters I’m getting into and what’s waiting for me at the end of my read. An epilogue? A bio? What???

I wanna see any other extras the author decided to include. An introduction or an epigraph, perhaps. These things set the tone for the novel. Don’t deprive me of that!

Why are you robbing me of these things, Kindle? WHY?

Am I crazy? Does anyone else feel this way? Am I the only one who sees the first page of the first chapter pop up, sucks her teeth, and rapidly swipes backward to see everything I missed? Even the damn copyright page? Tell me I’m not alone, guys!

 

Why I Love My Kindle

I have seen dozens of articles and blog posts professing people’s love of print books. The smell of the binding, the feel of the pages, the general tangibility. But I haven’t really seen a whole lot of screaming from the mountaintops about e-readers, despite them being a growing phenomenon. Maybe it’s time I chime in.

USAToday

  • I read SO much more now that I have a Kindle. Before I received a Kindle Fire for Christmas two years ago, I read, but not really. I don’t have the space for print books. I don’t have the disposable income to buy them all, even if I did have the space. And the library? They don’t always have what I want to read. When they do acquire a hot bestseller, someone else has borrowed it and I have to conjure up every ounce of patience in my soul to wait for it to be my damn turn to read it. Meanwhile, the first year I had my Kindle I read 75 books. The next year I read 59. That just wouldn’t have been possible without my Kindle.
  • If I finish a book while I’m out I can just start another one. One of my readers commented on my post listing the titles I’m most looking forward to this year. She stated that when she’d read Maze Runner she’d been on vacation and couldn’t get a hold of the next book in the series. I then shared with her the time I sat for jury duty, waiting for hours to see if I would be called. I finished the book I was reading and then promptly started a new one. Time flew by for me. For those who’d finished their newspapers, magazines, and print books? Not so much.
  • I don’t have to travel with a crap-ton of heavy books. Have you read Under the Dome by Stephen King? That thing is well over a thousand pages. Imagine sacrificing space in your purse or suitcase for the print copy of that gigantic tome. Not fun. But when I read it on my Kindle, I could bring it everywhere, without messing up the alignment of my spine.
  • I don’t have to go seek out the books I want. Before my Kindle, if there was something I really wanted to read, I had to go to the bookstore and look for it. If that bookstore didn’t have it, I had to have it ordered so I could pick it up later or go to another location entirely. I could order it myself online, but then I’d have to wait for it to be shipped. What a pain, no? Now, if I read an article about a new release or someone recommends a title to me, I simply pick up my Kindle and search for the damn thing. I can have the whole thing or just the sample in minutes.
  • E-books are cheaper (for the most part). Paperback books are often $10 or so. Hardbacks are normally twice that. Like I said, I just don’t have that kind of money lying around to buy every book I’d want to read. Especially not when its first released. I mean, I just read Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code last year. Why? Because when it came out it was more expensive than I would have liked. Now, are some ebooks still $10 or more? Yes. Stupid traditional publishers still price them that high, despite the low-cost of production, because they have so much overhead to cover. However, since I can read so many other books for far less than $10, I feel fine splurging every now and then on a pricier book.

So, which camp are you in? Pro-print or All-hail-e-reader?

 

 

What I’m Looking Forward to Reading in 2014

I know, I know. Another list. I’m such a hypocrite.

I didn’t reach my Goodreads goal last year, but I’m determined to reach my more modest goal of 50 books this year. No, I’m not gonna list 50 specific books I plan on reading (I’m not that OCD, I promise), yet I do have several titles that have recently been bumped up on my eight-mile-long TBR list.

  • Night Film by Marisha Pessl – Okay, technically I started reading this at the tail end of 2013, but the library ruined my life (see failed Goodreads challenge above) and ended my lending period, ignoring my renewal request. Oh, and technically, I’ve already finished this novel this year (last week, to be precise). That just means I’m well on my way to completing this list!
  • Maze Runner by James Dashner – Yeah, um, technically, I’m reading this right now…and halfway done. But it’s on this list because the movie adaptation releases this year and I’m one of those annoying people who MUST read the book first so I can tell everyone who will listen, and even those that won’t, how much better the book was than the movie.
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – See above obnoxious reason for wanting to read Maze Runner because it applies here: Starz will debut its Outlander television adaptation this summer. Plus, my mother-in-law has recommended it about eleven times.
  • Cuckoo’s Calling by JK Rowling (under some dude pen name) – I didn’t read The Casual Vacancy because, though I respect JK tremendously, the genre just wasn’t my cuppa. But this crime fiction novel is right up my alley.
  • Allegiant by Veronica Roth – I started reading this during the Night Film library-thievery-fiasco of 2013. I got about 35% in before Night Film was returned to my Kindle. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember enough about the first two books to feel comfortable finishing Allegiant. (Plus, I really wanted to get back to the amazeballs Night Film.) So it looks like I’ll be reading Divergent and Insurgent all over again before I can dive back into the final installment. :-/
  • Sand (Omnibus) by Hugh Howey – If you guys don’t know by now, I developed a serious literary crush on Hugh Howey after reading Wool. He just released this bundle of 5 episodes and I downloaded it the same day. I’ve never downloaded a book on release day. Ever.
  • EVERYTHING BY HUGH HOWEY – In continuation of the fan-girl moment I’m having, I want to read everything else written by Howey. The Molly Fyde Series, Half Way Home, I, Zombie. All of it. Where can I get his high school essays? Gimme, gimme, gimme.
  • Yesterday’s Gone by Sean Platt – I’ve heard great things about this serialized post-apocalyptic novel and I wanna see what all the fuss is about. Especially since I’ve had the first season on my Kindle FOREVER.
  • The Bat et al in the Harry Hole Series by Jo Nesbo – Last year I read his standalone, Headhunters (because I hadn’t yet gotten my hands on the first Harry Hole novel) and loved it. I’m ready to jump two-feet-first into more of his writing.
  • Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight – Amazon keeps recommending this one to me. Amazon is a little scary. They’re gonna have drones soon. I’m gonna do what Amazon tells me…
  • Have You Seen Her by Rich Silvers – One of time times my own novella, Blood in the Past, did really well and jumped up the ranks of Amazon’s subcategories, specifically psychological fiction, Have You Seen Her was always one spot above me. Call this a recon read. I wanna check out the competition. 😉
  • The Shining by Stephen King – I know, this is an “oldie but goodie” in the book world. I may have read it as preteen (I started reading King when I was ten. That’s not creepy or anything, right?), but I’m sure I don’t remember enough of it to read…
  • Doctor Sleep by Stephen King – …so I’m gonna check out The Shining (again?) so I can enjoy Stephen King’s new release all proper like.
  • Identical by Scott Turow – I keep a journal of ideas for future novels and short stories. One of these said ideas was very similar to Identical…before Identical was released. Scott Turow and I aren’t bar buddies on the weekends or anything, so I’m curious to see just how similar his story is to mine and whether or not I have to rip out a page from my journal and set it on fire.
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton – This novel won the Man Booker Prize and Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award last year. As you can imagine, it received a bit of publicity, which sparked my interest. It’s supposed to be a thrilling historical novel, but it’s a bit of a long read. I should probably get on that soon…before I find myself rushing around to complete this year’s Goodreads Challenge.
  • The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty– This is another title Amazon keeps recommending. Have I mentioned I’m intimidated by them? (Amazon, if you’re reading this, I’m gonna read all your recommendations. Don’t send drones to my house unless I order something via Prime Shipping.)
  • N0S4A2 by Joe Hill – I read Horns last year. Why? Because there’s a movie coming out, of course. Anyway, I really enjoyed it. Hill has a much different writing style than his father (Stephen King), but you can tell by the crazy creepiness that he didn’t fall too far from the tree.
  • Room by Emma Donoghue – I’ve heard good things about this one, but have kept my distance because it’s written from the POV of a small child. I don’t really do kids, so you can understand my hesitation. However, I think I’m gonna suck it up and see what happens.
  • Lexicon by Maxx Barry – Hugh Howey posted a list books that changed his life on Facebook. This is one of them. It was already on my TBR list, but an endorsement from Howey shot it way up to the top. All hail Hugh Howey.
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – I’ve been curious about this Tim Burton-ish-sounding novel for a while now. And with a sequel out (and a movie adaptation on the way!), it’s about time I give it a whirl.

Wow, I just rattled off twenty books without breaking a sweat. Color me impressed with myself (I was only aiming for ten). Anyway, do you guys have any books you’re dying to read this year? New releases? Oldies but goodies? Tell me! I have thirty more spots to fill!

How Fast Do You Read?

Someone posted this fun little test on Facebook. According my results, I read 407 wpm, which is 63% better than the national average. Not bad, but apparently not as good as college students. I used to be a college student and I swear I read faster now, but oh well.

Try it and see where you measure up!

ereader test
Source: Staples eReader Department

Jerks & Irks LVIII: I Failed My 2013 Goodreads Challenge

2012 was The Year of the Kindle. Having received a Kindle Fire for Christmas 2011, I devoured books the following year, reading over 75 altogether. I realize that number is subjective: impressive to some, a drop in the bucket to even more voracious readers than myself. But I was excited to have so many books at my fingertips.

In 2013, I set my first Goodreads Challenge for 75 books. I figured since I had done it the year before, I could do it again, right? Wrong. I failed to realize how much more I’d be writing in 2013 than the previous year (3 books and a couple of short stories), or how many hours would be spent marketing and maintaining a presence on social media. December rolled around and, with the end of the year in sight, I was forced to cheat amend my Challenge total to 60 books. I had read 59 and was reading the 60th with more than enough time to spare. I even fantasized about reading a 61st book for good measure.

Then the library–the LIBRARY of all places–took me down, guys. You see, some of the traditional publishers still insist on charging $10 or more for an e-book, which is irksome in and of itself. Therefore, if I want to read one of these books, I usually see if my local library network has a digital copy first. Thus was my process when I downloaded Night Film, by Marisha Pessl (EXCELLENT book so far, by the way).

I was 57% through it when my lending period was about to expire. I renewed it, as I had done before with other borrowed books, but THE LIBRARY took it away anyway. Just electronically snatched it off my Kindle and placed me on a waiting list (1 of 1). I was devastated. I’m not the type of person who can read multiple books at once; I have the short-term memory of a pill bug. I whined a lot, trudging through short stories and trolling Facebook instead of reading myself awake in the morning and to sleep at night.

The new year came and went and I was stuck on 59 books. I failed my Goodreads Challenge.

The library sabotaged me. CURSES! *waves fist in the air*

How about you? How did you fare with your own Goodreads Challenges?

Does Your Significant Other Read Your Stuff?

That’s right, folks! I’m back from my mini-vacay and already it’s back to business as usual! Fresh in my inbox this morning was this interview with me by the lovely Elena Dillon. She is one of my peeps on Triberr and I contacted her for a review of Blood in the Past a while back. She happily obliged, and enjoyed my novella so much, she offered to interview me! Well, isn’t that sweet!

Here is her review:

“The author keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat. No slowing down for this story. I was interested in the character motivation. I found them complex and thought provoking. I immediately wanted to know what made them tick. I don’t want to give too much away but I’m looking forward to the next installment of the story so I can find out what happens next!”

And here is an excerpt from our interview:

Does your significant other read your stuff? He absolutely does! Which is amazing to me because he hates reading. I know, an author married to someone who hates to read. But yes, it’s true. He usually reads my WIP’s as I’m writing them, chapter by chapter. And he’s very astute and tells me when I miss something, which is often helpful. Although I released Blood in the Past, a prequel, first, I wrote it second. Therefore, Hubby-pants was able to read Blood in the Paint, the first full-length follow-up, first, then Blood in the Past. It was great to see his reaction at having read them in reverse, his appreciation of the way I had tied certain things together and left other things hidden. My favorite moment though, had to be when he read the cliffhanger ending to Blood in the Paint. He just stuttered for about five minutes. “Wait, but, I mean, what? Shouldn’t? Wouldn’t? Who? Wait! WHAT?” Hahahaha! Priceless. What do you do to unwind and relax? Writers unwind and relax? I can’t seem to get characters and plot twists out of my head. I must be doing something wrong…

Okay, so maybe I was able to relax a little bit the last few days while Hubby-pants and I were away for our anniversary mini-vacay. That’s not the point, but more on that tomorrow, with pictures and observations. Anyway, if you’d like to read more of my interview with Elena Dillon, please visit her blog.

Also, as of this writing, Blood in the Past is currently #5310 in all of the Kindle Paid store, #6 in Serial Killers, #63 in Psychological Fiction, and #86 in Psychological Thrillers. That’s not really related to anything, I just felt like bragging thanking all of you awesome, loyal fans. And if you haven’t read it yet, maybe you should. 🙂

BLOOD IN THE PAST Will Soon Be In Print!

That’s right! I’m about to kill some trees!

When I first published Blood in the Past back in mid-June, I based my decision to offer it only as an e-book on my own reading habits and the reading habits of those closest to me. I read from my Kindle and only from my Kindle. It’s the most convenient form for me. I can read anywhere, without having to lug heavy books around in my purse. I can read at night, without needing a lamp on. If I finish a book while away from home, I don’t have to twiddle my thumbs, I can select a new book from the hundreds already on my Kindle or hook up to Wi-Fi and buy another. Most of my internet peeps feel the same way. Hubby-pants and I even got my mother-in-law a Kindle Paper White for Christmas last year and she loves it.

But after I published and I was all excited and posting FIVE-STAR-REVIEW excerpts on Facebook, friends wanted to support me. (Thank you, friends!) But they hadn’t yet embraced the digital era of reading. They kept asking if they “could buy the actual book.” I felt dumb responding that if they didn’t have a Kindle, they could download the Kindle app to most devices. While true, they just weren’t of the ilk who felt comfortable reading a book from a screen, even a rather short novella.

But guys, I majored in Biology in college. Charles Darwin was my homeboy. If you don’t adapt, you die out. That being said, the lovely folks at LionheART Galleries have reformatted Blood in the Past for print and the incomparable Kit Foster has expanded the cover.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00009]

Blood in the Past will be available for purchase September 18th!

What’s even better? I can do signings and events! I already have THREE lined up for October! So…I’ll be adding an EVENTS tab to the top of this site pretty soon. Keep an eye out!

Now for the best part! I know, your minds reel that there could be more…

In honor of this announcement, you can get the Blood in the Past e-book for only $0.99 today through the end of August (8/28-8/31)!

Fire Sale!!! Well, Maybe Not Quite…

Fire Sale: Noun.

  1. A sale of goods remaining after the destruction of commercial premises by fire.
  2. As seen in the 2007 movie Live Free or Die Hard, an assault against the United States’ government, transportation, and economy by computer hackers.
  3. A sale of goods or assets at a very low price.

Okay, so, nobody panic. We didn’t have a house fire. And I can barely convert a Word document into PDF format, so back off Homeland Security! BUT, my Psychological Thriller novella, Blood in the Past, is on sale this weekend for only 99 cents! Isn’t that great news? (Hey, Homeland Security, if you’re still here, you should totally get in on this deal and grab a copy. Just saying.)

Blood in the Past

Here’s an excerpt:

Lyla eased her car to a stop a few blocks away from his house. A low-hanging branch scraped the roof. Lyla cringed at the sound, almost as if it were begging Lyla to return her foot to the gas pedal. But she did not. She parked, drew 10 ccs of succinylcholine into the syringe, and slithered out of the car into the wet night. She hurried to her destination in a half-crouch, trying to blend into the darkness of the asphalt.

She sneaked around the back of her father’s house through the shadows of the maple trees. They still clutched their leaves in denial of the approaching autumn. Every now and again, the rain would tear a leaf from its branch and the fluttering shadow would frighten Lyla. But instead of cursing the rain, she thanked it. It softened the ground, cushioned her footfalls, and tethered the neighbors to their couches. Few, if any, people would witness her arrival.

Searching for signs of life in his house and finding only the soft flickering of a TV in the living room, Lyla entered through the back door. Despite burying his wife hours earlier, her father had gone on a date that night. She’d overheard him bragging about it to a group of his colleagues at the funeral. A few were impressed by his gall, but most were repulsed.

However loathsome Lyla found it, she’d learned from her mother that, following a date night, her father would drunkenly pass out on the couch, which was good for Lyla, logistically. She imagined his stench: sex and a perfume so cheap the woman probably purchased it at the cosmetics counter of the nearest drug store. For a second, she marveled at how he at least had the decency not to bring the girls to the house where his wife—her mother, for God’s sake—had lost her life.

She knew the bristles of the doormat made a scritchscritch noise, so Lyla bent each leg and thoroughly and silently dried the soles of her sneakers on her pants’ legs. Without squeaking, wet shoes, she tiptoed down to the basement, pausing to grab a candle from the emergency kit at the top of the stairs. The old house’s circuit breakers were notoriously fickle, so she switched off the main breaker, drowning the house in complete darkness. Lyla paused in the spot where she’d overheard her aunt’s suspicions only days earlier. With her ear toward the ceiling, she strained to hear any indication of her father’s stirring over the din of rain pelting the house. She heard nothing, so she removed the hypodermic needle from her over-sized bag, almost piercing herself as she fumbled for it.

Here I come, Daddy,” she said in a singsong whisper, creeping back up the stairs.

Blood in the Past is Available on Amazon. Go, go, go!