Only Asking Because of Desperation

I’ve only got two things on today’s agenda:

I need BETA readers (In The Moment During)

I need ARC readers (A Royal Pairing in Perish)

I need Chris Pratt (figured I’d slip this one in there too…)

Only asking because of desperation. That’s all 😊

(Since my newsletter is out today with all the other updates…)

~ LC

P.S. Hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day. Batman and I had sandwiches and relaxed on the couch. Only way to celebrate.

I Need Your Help (again)

Well, we’re Covid-free again.

The plan was to return to work last Wednesday from our failed attempt at vacationing. Except, due to excessive coughing, Batman tore a muscle in his lower back as I was on my way to work, and we ended up rushing him to the emergency room instead.

Fun times.

The fun continued at home when the pain meds (which helped in the hospital) ended up causing waves of nausea, and plummeting Batman into the dark ages of pain, annoyance, irritability, and discomfort. He tried a second pain reliever from the hospital with the same results. Dizziness and nausea. Batman just wasn’t feeling it for the last two weeks, and I got to say – I feel bad for the guy. We’re not in our twenties anymore (sadly) and things just aren’t bouncing back as quickly as they used to. I knew we’d get to a point in our lives where we might have to frequent hospitals, but I didn’t think it’d be in our thirties. (This is after a few back surgeries for Batman, other issues, and now this). I think Annie Potts said it best in Pretty in Pink – “Why can’t we start old and get young?”

Things are going pretty well. Except for the last two weeks of illness, life has been lovely. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot accomplished on my writing/publishing schedule with updating my bio (take a look if you if you care to), updating my back matter (new release info) on my current works, and I’ve even started working on the second book in my companion novella series. WHAT. I know. Already? Yep. This isn’t set to release until June 2023, but it’s always good to have the project started, am I right?

This is where I need your help on two fronts:

  1. Need Character name assistance
  2. Need BETA readers

For the first request, I’m in need of asshole names again. This time – four males. I have placeholder names that can definitely work, but I’m throwing it out in the universe. Did some prick wrong you in the past, and you want to immortalize them as an asshole in my book? Let’s do it. Send me your names and I’ll pick four of them (two main and two supporting) to use in In The Moment Before.

For the second request, who wants to BETA read for me?? (insert personalized compliment just for you).

Book details:

Title: In the Moment Before

Word count: 37,000

Genre/Trope: contemporary romance, enemies to lovers, forced proximity, hidden romance, bullying

Working Blurb:

Robin Drake hates Grayson Knight with a passion. After an embarrassing childhood prank, she’s kept him in the mortal-enemy category, avoiding the troublemaker and his bullying friends whenever possible. As the daughter of a police sergeant in a crime-ridden city, Robin knows she needs to set an example, so when an argument escalates, landing Robin and Grayson in detention, she’s forced to endure not only disappointment from her father, but two weeks with the boy she detests the most.

Assigned to assist the Homecoming Committee, Robin wants to get through her punishment as quickly as possible. But after an interaction with a sleazy basketball player—and an immediate rescue by Grayson—she sees the boy she’s always hated with new eyes. If things weren’t stressful enough, a secret, shared kiss sends everything scrambling, leaving Robin and Grayson to confront feelings that neither expected—or are prepared for.

If this sounds interesting or something you’d like to read, please let me know! I’m aiming to get this to the editor at the beginning of October, so I would need feedback mid September or so. 😊

How is life going with you? Any illnesses? Any upcoming vacations? Any people you want to immortalize in my characters? I’m curious to know all the things.

~ Lady Caitlin

Too Excited To Be Scared

I’ve been keeping a giant Tupperware container in the fridge at work for over a week and I’m afraid to take it home. They’ll know it was me. That I’ve been taking up all the space (during the holiday week…) when it could’ve been used for all the other goodies. But I keep forgetting it’s there. Every day I leave, and every morning when I put my new lunch in there, I see the giant plastic bin of grossness with food and I think eww.

I think I’m just going to throw it away. It’s been in there for over a week and I really don’t want to smell it. I just don’t want to be seen throwing it away because they’ll FOR SURE know it was me and I’m still trying to make friends. Also, it’s the last of the original Tupperwares, so it’s probably time to toss the thing. Just can’t be caught when it goes down…

How was your holiday? Enjoyable? Stressful? Somewhere in the middle? Mine was great! Batman won Christmas this year because look at this:

Like, seriously. The candle alone proves he won. He could’ve gotten me this one thing and he still would’ve come out the victor. I’d never tell him this because then I’d literally only get the candle every year, and since he stopped reading this *amazing* blog years ago, he’ll never know. BWHAHAHA.

Writing News:

In my journey to actually do something with my writing, I applied for and got accepted to Radish – woot! What is Radish besides some small red vegetable? (Or is it a fruit? I don’t know…) Radish is a serialized platform that caters mostly to the romance genre, and readers pay per chapter. Kind of like sampling the book little by little instead of reading the whole thing. You can stop at any point and not continue…or you can keep going to the end. Some writers release a chapter a day, some every few days, and apparently, serialized platforms are *very* popular right now, so, I threw my name in the hat and actually got accepted. What?!  Seriously?!?


I applied with my Better Than This Series, and the first chapter of the first book goes up today. Double woot! You can check it out, or check out Radish in general: here.

Other big news: beta reader copies are being distributed next week. NEXT WEEK GUYS. OMG. People—besides me and my laptop—are going to be aware of the story I’ve been writing for well over a year. I started May 2020 and here we are December 2021 with a *completely* different story, but one I love 1000 times more. I’m stoked, guys. I really am. All the nerves and terror are there (and I don’t think they’ll ever leave) but I’m pushing through. I’m too excited to be scared this time.

Next thing to work on is my newsletter because I’m realllllllly going to make it work this year. I need to. And I want to. It’s all about cultivating a fan base, right? Because if you have one of those, it helps to sell more books (which is the end game, folks.)

So, we’ve got Radish, beta readers, and a newsletter I will be Frankenstein-ing back to life. All the things, people. I’m doing all the things.

Well, this is our last chat in 2021. I hope you stick around for all the excitement in 2022, and I hope you have a fabulous time bringing in the new year!

~ Lady Caitlin

P.S. I finally threw the Tupperware out. There was no other way

Doing This At My Pace

It’s getting serious. It has to, right?

I could write and write and keep everything all to myself and my laptop (which I should name since I name most things and we’ve been through a lot together) and it could be a secret between only us. Pretty much what I’ve been doing with every other book I’ve published. It’s been me, the nameless laptop, and a handful of people (to whom I’ve mentioned its release) who know the story and that’s it. Hence zero sales. Hence limited *cough* no *cough* success.


I’ve officially booked a date in early January for beta readers. This is through a service, and I feel better about letting them connect me with willing beta readers rather than politely tap on a friend’s shoulder and sorta kinda maybe see if they’d *possibly* be interested in reading this 110K book I wrote which could be complete garbage and is, by the way, super long. Course, if you’re out there in cyberspace and do want to beta read for me (and I know you in some way/know you won’t steal my work) then let me know. I’d love more feedback.


*mind exploding*

What does that mean and why is my mind exploding? Great questions. Well, basically, (sort of officially) it cements the fact that I’ll be publishing TCATC next year (woot!) because I’m asking people (again, through a service) to be an Advanced Reader and supplying them with a Copy of my book before it’s officially published. Basically, I’m asking people to review my book prior to its publication date, so it has reviews and isn’t sitting out there all lonely and cold and lame. Based on the ARC date that I selected, I’m publishing a week later which means, ladies and gentlemen, we’re looking at June 27th 2022 for this gal’s release of The Coyote and The Claw – A Royal Pairing in Perish.

*Tosses confetti*

*Carefully pops champagne bottle*

*Does adorable but very awkward dance moves*

Yes, I am still leaps and bounds behind where I should be (authors are advertising their second book in the backmatter of their first and I haven’t even written the second book…) but it’s all good. I’m doing this at my pace, and want to put out quality work so, I’m not rushing. But, it’s been the fear of doing it wrong that’s kept me from even trying. To quote a great woman despite the nonsensicalness I’ve seen around the interwebs lately:

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case, you fail by default.” ~ JK Rowling

Microphone drop.

Gotta do what I can, in the best way I can. And right now, that means releasing the first book in my next series in June, and hoping to have the second book out by the end of the year if not early 2023. Seems like a reasonable and attainable goal, and I am on board for both of those things.

Hoping you are having a fabulous week (and month and year and life cycle…) and that you’ve murdered zero people in response to any holiday stress. Go you!

Until our next date,

~ Lady Caitlin

Calling All BETAS – Assistance Needed

Guys. I still don’t have a working title. Still. This has never happened.

I have titles for books I haven’t written yet, and I’ve been working on this monster since May so…where the heck is it? Why hasn’t it come to me? GUYS.

This is all very strange. Like my blog, the title usually comes from a sentence in the post, and it’s usually the same with my books. I’ll literally write it out and be like, aha! There it is! Title achieved, bitches. But I’ve gone through like 4 drafts of this thing, and it still hasn’t hit me. Like, at all. Which wouldn’t be disconcerting to me except IT’S ACTUALLY REALLY DISCONCERTING TO ME.

Titles typically correspond to the central character or plot or place, and I’ve gone over their names and the conflict and setting a bunch of times and nothing fits. Nothing even comes close to sounding right. They all sound dopey and forced and I don’t even have working titles to throw together a poll and get some feedback. I literally have nothing.


What does this mean? Do I not truly know what my book is about? That can’t be it. I’m calling on the Gods of writing to assist in this weird new obstacle. How do I overcome it? Do I let Betas make suggestions? Do I keep it (kind of) boring to just the lead character names? What?

That’s the other thing. Although I have—and let me re-emphasize—no working title, I’m nearly ready for other people to look at it. This, by the way, is the scariest part, so just know I’m inwardly hyperventilating as I throw this request into the void-o-sphere. I am now accepting any readers interested who want to take a look at what I’ve got and let me know how to make it better. Help me find plot holes and anything I might’ve missed. Maybe I overuse a term? I do that. Just looking for some feedback, so if you’re not in the market to steal my work, and this sounds like something you want to read, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Also, maybe you can tell me what my title is? That would be great.

No Working Title includes: alpha male, enemies to lovers, mobsters & vigilantes

Quick blurb: Desperate to leave her crime-ridden hometown, Lilah ends up contacting a local vigilante organization after a friend’s mom is put in the hospital. But when Nik, one of its members, continues to recruit Lilah for assignments, her interest in leaving sways.

This is a high-heat, romantic suspense clocking in at 122K words. Yeah. It’s huge. (That’s what she said.)

Anyway, if this sounds like something you’re interested in, send me an email ( and we’ll go from there. Yay!

Well, that’s all I’ve got this week. I’m still working on that honeymoon post and will have it up probably sometime in the future. Until then – enjoy your week however you are celebrating it! Happy holidays!

~ Lady Caitlin signing off

So…What’s Next?

(The short answer is: I have no idea. Making this up one day at a time.)

The LONG answer is that I didn’t really think about what came next until last Saturday when my silly brain was like, ‘you don’t have to think about the next book until late July. It’s not set to release until mid-August.’ Then the wine was gone and the rational, smart part of my brain came back. In addition to, you know, FINISHING the book, I have to get it edited, get a book cover done and do some possible advertising (maybe even a blog tour? Or some ARCs this time??) Yeah, I don’t know how I thought I’d be taking it easy for the next month and a half when I set this schedule for myself—unbeknownst to myself (by myself 😉)

When I say I have to ‘finish’ the book, I mean it’s pretty much done but I’m combing through it until there’s nothing left that I want to change. Then I’ll contact my BETAs and once I get the green light from them, it’s off to the editor. The thing about this series is: they’re shorter books, each clocking in at around 65K words, so they’re quick reads…and quick writes. I thought I was being stupid when I decided to release them three months apart, but I think it works for this series. It’s pretty much one giant story broken into three segments and I don’t want to make (potential) readers wait too long. Hell, I didn’t wait. I jumped into book three because I NEEDED to know what happened once I was done with a solid draft of book two. Why should I hoard the story if it’s ready to be shared (after proper editing, of course)? That’s why I have the last two installments coming out later this year—there seemed no point holding onto them if they’re ready to go.


I’m going to try really, really, REALLY hard to understand Google Docs and make a signup sheet, but in the off-chance reality sets in and my stupidity gets a hold of me, you can always shoot me an email or leave a comment if you’re interested in getting an ARC (advanced reader copy) of Better Than Now. One of these days, I’m going to get me some advanced readers and it’s going to be GLORIOUS. Absolutely glorious. 🙂

Until then, I’m off to create some shit and do some work. And clean out my wine rack.

It’s going to be a good summer 🙂

Goals and Things

First off, let me start by wishing you a Merry Christmas! /Happy Hanukah! /Happy Festivus! /Merry Kwanza! /Happy Holidays! (Did I cover everyone? I hope so.)

How were the holidays for you? I hope you didn’t kill anybody and that you had plenty of excuses to escape from your relatives. I won the lottery by catching the plague a day before my four-day break, so it’s been lots of drugs, coughing all night, a full body ache and a constant battle with an evil sea-bitch to use my voice. (I totally won, but it hurt like a mother every time). Other than that, I had a marvelous time 😊 I hope you had a good time with your family or friends or whomever you chose to share your holiday with, even if it was just yourself. 😊

Okay, so apparently 2018 is already knocking which is good because Januarys are typically a great time for new beginnings (although October also seems to work) and I’d like to make some changes. Some of them are health wise: not be such an Oreo fatty and be more active with Appa. Like, actually exercise with him and Batman instead of watching Appa exercise while Batman and I eat junk-food. So, big one right there. Other things I want to change include my bank account and the email Bank of America sends me every week to make sure—in case I somehow missed it—that I’m pretty much broke from Sunday to Thursday. But, I’d also like to take positive strives in my writing.

So, here we go, 2018 writing thing I’d like to change:

Main Goal:

  • Maybe not be so terrible at marketing

That’s right. ‘Not Be So Terrible At Marketing’ shall be the numero uno goal of 2018. I’m fully expecting to still suck at it, but I’m hoping to have more failures under my belt which means more things I’ve tried which is more than I’m doing now (which is nothing.) Aiming for *slightly* more ripples than the still water I’m standing in. Goals!

How do I do that?

Realistic (and more specific) Goals:

  • Keep up with the Wednesday posts. Seems reasonable.
  • Maybe put up a video once or twice a month. Not sure what the content would consist of other than me being my wonderful fabulous self and talking about writing and life and things (oh, and promoting my new series—obvi) That could work. I hear people like vlogs and I’m not totally Quasimoding-it, so maybe I’ll try that.
  • Start a newsletter. I probably should’ve had one of these for a while now, but I haven’t. I have no excuse other than I just haven’t. Like the vlog, I’m not sure what I would say other than talk about the series, my work and maybe something to do with the craft of writing. I’m just weird with commitments, but I guess by this point, I’m pretty committed (but shouldn’t be committed. Big difference.)
  • Make friends with/support other Indies. I’ve kind of backed off a bit for no other reason than that I’m using the time to write. Or to not be on my phone. But I did enjoy meeting other indie authors (shout out to BookBorn and IWSG!) and I need to get back into it. It’s mutually beneficial and there’s so much to learn from each other.

There are other things I could/should probably list here, but I’m being realistic with myself. If I pack too much on, it’ll seem unattainable and scary and I’ll look the other way and grab Oreos and cry. Because that’s what I do. So. Yeah. Small steps equate to large steps equate to things actually happening.

P.S. I sent BTT to a few BETAs! Yay! Would you like to BETA read my latest YA contemporary romance featuring a musician (the answer is yes)? If so, please reach out to me! I’d love to get a few more opinions 🙂

P. P. S. My books are free on Smashwords until January 1st. This is another me doing something. Telling you I enrolled in a giveaway. So, if you’re at all curious about my books but can’t afford the monetary risk (which hey—I get! Ms. Betty Broke over here) you can check them out for totally free (use coupon EY100. And there are *bunches* of other good books to discover as well!

P.P. P. S. I have to share some pictures of Appa because I don’t think people realize the CUTENESS level of my baby 😊 And I haven’t posted lots of pictures of him recently… so here you go.

Loves the window down car ride.

Who’s handsome?

I’m a sexy bitch.

My view from the computer.


P.P.P.P.S. Reasons I love Batman: he knows things like what P.S. stands for so I know which letter to multiply. (Does that make me stupid that I didn’t know that? I don’t care. I love that he’s so smart.)

Beta-Read: Choice

Clearly I’m on a path of new adventures in trying things with this blog. New reading segments and author interviews and the such. Here is the third cool new thing I’m doing. Actually, you’re doing, should you choose to accept the mission (and it’s totally fine if you don’t. We all have busy lives. I get it.) From time to time, I’ll be putting up a short story that I’ll need to have beta-read, since contest entries need to be at least somewhat legit. So if you’re looking for something to read (and possibly critique) and have any suggestions or notice any plot-holes or obvious grammar issues that you simply *must* bring to my attention before I press submit, it’ll be your chance to do so (and I greatly, greatly appreciate it!)

Today’s story: Choice

Contest deadline: Dec 1st

Theme: Roadtrip (Creepyish)



“Try it, kid. I’m giving you a good deal.”

Chris hesitated, but eyed the small capsule with curiosity. Maybe it would help. He was bored out of his mind with the entire family packed in the 90’s minivan and the vacation had only started. He’d need something if he was going to survive the next few days.

“Look, kid, I’ve got other customers. You want it or not?”

Chris couldn’t take much more the arguing. Or the snoring. Or the why this-why that questions from his four-year old sister. If this thing worked half as well as it was said to, then he needed it. He’d need it for the next solid week. Just one long block out. Then he’d never touch the stuff.

Chris slid the man a folded hundred-dollar bill. He secured his purchase in the back pocket of his jeans and stepped back. This was the last thing he thought he’d be doing when his dad pulled them into the rest stop for some gas and snacks. Chris had merely wanted to bum a cigarette off the guy. He’d looked decent enough—choppy black hair with a too-big tee-shirt and cargo shorts—and was leaning against the far side of the building which was where Chris needed to be if he was going to light up. The last time his dad caught him smoking, he thought he’d never hear the end of it. Cigarettes kill. Tobacco kills. It’s all he ever heard, all damn day long. But this wasn’t a cigarette. This was something else. Something different. Something stronger.

Chris started to turn when a hand landed on his shoulder.

“Remember, it’s called Choice for a reason. You can give into it or not,” the guy threw his hands into his pockets and shrugged. He started to back away, caution in his eyes. “Whatever you want, kid. It’s whatever you want.”

The man was gone before Chris could respond. It wasn’t like he had a ton more to say to the dealer, but his last few words left a familiar warning in his ears. Chris had heard people talk about the drug, about the hallucinations it causes and how real it can all seem. He’d even heard about some people going all the way over—trapping themselves in the visions, believing everything they saw and felt and heard. They were called the Lost. But Chris didn’t need to trap himself there; he just needed to escape the present for a bit. And besides, there was always the choice: deny the hallucinations or accept them. If anything got too real or too ugly, he could decide to remain in reality. It was all up to the customer.

Chris brushed his brown locks from his forehead. He looked up, spotted the green minivan and suppressed a groan. Four hours and counting. Four hours into a week long road-trip to see their cousins in Iowa—cousins Chris hadn’t seen since he was in diapers. Did he even remember what they looked like? He had no idea why his dad had the sudden desire to squeeze the entire family into the twenty-year-old vehicle and drag them halfway across the county to begin with. To make matters worse, he’d slapped the vacation label on it. This was so not a vacation.

For the four hours Chris had been in the car, he’d listened to his mom go on and on about some woman from work who’d been using her trashcan. His father agreed automatically at every pause, offering a shallow sigh with each supportive phrase: Yes, dear. You’re right, dear. She should know better, dear. Their one-sided conversation carried over his grandparents’ obnoxious snoring, which started almost immediately into the trip. For about a half hour, Chris debated which one was worse. His grandmother’s snores were nasal and consistent, like an ongoing whistle, but his grandfather breathed deep through his chest, rumbling like some snarling animal. He would quiet and there would be a moment of peace before he started up again, like an engine rearing to life. The sound irritated Chris beyond reason and eventually, he decided the old man was worse.

When he wasn’t ignoring his mother’s rants or debating over a pair of eighty-year olds sleeping, Lila, Chris’s four-year old sister, would poke him with a question every few seconds. “Why don’t our cousins live closer? Why don’t we always go visit them? Why don’t you live with them? Why don’t I live with them?” Chris couldn’t take much more. He was only sixteen for crying out loud. He shouldn’t be on a road-trip with a family who talks too much or sleeps like coma patients. He should be at home, playing XBOX and chatting it up with his online buddies. What a crappy way to spend one whole week of the summer.

His mom waved him over.

Damn. Guess they were ready to leave. Chris scanned the parking lot with a sigh. He really didn’t want to get back in that van again, unless it was to go home. And that wasn’t happening for another six days, about as long as Choice stays in a person’s system. Chris hadn’t planned on trying the new drug that had everyone talking. He only wanted a cigarette from the guy—just a quick nicotine fix and he’d be on his way. But then the dealer mentioned the one word on everyone’s lips lately: Choice.

It was like fate.

And even if it wasn’t, the deal was done and now he had it, right there in his back pocket, ready to be swallowed. But it was a dumb idea right? Taking drugs around your family. They’d probably know instantly, unless he decided to deny the hallucinations when someone was talking to him. That’s what made it so awesome.

Chris reached into his pocket. He eyed the small purple tablet in the center of his palm.

What’s the worst that could happen?

In one swift move, Chris threw the pill into his mouth, swallowed and exhaled. There. He’d done it. The next six days would be up to him now: reality or fantasy?

“Chris,” his mother waved her arms. “Did you want to stand there all day or did you want to get in the damn van so we can get out of here already?”

Rolling his eyes, Chris dragged himself from the gas station wall. He wasn’t sure how the whole thing worked but assumed he’d figure it out along the way. When he climbed into the minivan he wasn’t surprised to find his grandparents still asleep, their heads back and their mouths open, spittle dripping down their matching plaid sweaters. Gross. Lila was already bouncing back and forth, her dark ponytail swinging across her back. She moved her hand from the window to her grandfather’s balding head and back again.

“Is someone going to buckle this child in?”

“You’re her older brother,” his mother climbed into the front passenger seat. “Try taking on some responsibility for a change.”

Chris muttered a curse and something about not being involved in her conception. He reached for the seatbelt and laying a hand against Lila’s stomach, he forced his sister to sit. The four-year old let out a sharp wail of discomfort. She started to protest but Chris buckled her in, pulling the strap extra tight. Lila cried out.

“Don’t hurt your sister!” his mother snapped around.

“I’m not! I’m buckling her in!” Chris scoffed. “Jesus.”

The girl wailed louder.


“What do you want me to do?” He threw his hands up. “She’s already buckled in. That’s what you wanted. I can’t stop her crying.”

“Don’t be so aggressive. She’s only four and you’re sixteen! You should know better.”

“God,” Chris slammed himself back into the seat. “I can’t do anything right. I can’t buckle her in right. I don’t play with her enough at home. I don’t—”

“Is it too much to expect a little help? Really? I thought by now you’d be a little more mature in handling—”

“I am ma—”

“—what comes along with being a big brother. No one’s asking a lot from you. But you don’t offer any—”

“She’s not my kid!”

Lila sobbed louder, matching the volume of the old people sleeping in front of them. His mother raised her voice, fighting for attention over the rest of the chaos. “She’s your sister and—”

“She’s YOUR daughter!”

“Everyone SHUT UP!” His dad roared with finality.

Lila instantly fell quiet, his mother turned around and Chris looked out the window. If anyone could silence the car, it was his old man. Normally, the retired cop was quiet. Complacent. Amenable. He’d go along with anything if, Chris believed, he was left alone. But sometimes, when things got too heated—and they had been since the retirement—his dad would snap and loose his cool. Like just then, coming in like a tidal wave of instant fury.

Chris had only seen his dad so angry one other time, and it was when he’d caught Chris smoking in the garage. Man, had he gotten a lecture about that. Cigarettes kill. Tobacco kills. At one point, Chris even thought his old man might hit him. Right across the face. He’d prepared himself for it, but the impact never came. Instead, a warning and a tirade about what the dangers of inhaling a dangerous substance can do. Apparently, his dad had lost a friend to lung cancer and he’d been anti-nicotine since. That’s why Chris took extra care to hide the habit from his old man.

Besides his grandparents snoring, the car ride was quiet.

Content with the situation, Chris had almost drifted to sleep when five words startled him back into consciousness.

“You want to strangle me.”

He wasn’t sure he heard it. But he must’ve. No one had spoken for nearly an hour—thank God—so the words were crisp. Articulated. Solid. He played it again in his head. It sounded like his sister’s voice, but also like someone else’s—a man’s. It was as if the two were fused together to form one low and high pitch that synced perfectly.

Chris turned to Lila. She stared at him, her bright eyes unblinking. He waited for her to say something—maybe to repeat it—but she simply stared, waiting for him to respond. When he was about to give up, she spoke again.

“You want to strangle me.”

“What?” He sat up. “No I don’t.”

“You want to kill all of us,” Lila said, the voice both belonging to her and someone else. It was light and dark, innocent and evil. “You think about it a lot. Strangling me,” Lila looked up the van to their parents, “strangling them.” She focused on the grandparents. “Smothering them with a pillow.”

Chris glanced to the front of the van, ready to defend himself. But no one had heard. No one was even looking. Other than his dad who was driving, the others were asleep. Chris turned back to his sister and lowered his voice.

“Shut up.”

“It’d be real easy to strangle me. Probably easier than you imagine. And them,” her eyes flickered to the sleeping couple, “you could probably do it at the next rest stop. No one would even know.”

“What the fuck are you talking about? I don’t want to kill anybody.”

“You do. You just won’t admit to it.”

“Whatever,” he crossed his arms. His head rolled to the window again and he stared out at the passing trees, trying to count them as they flashed by. But he could feel her watching him. What was wrong with Lila? Why the hell was a four-year old talking about murdering people? And how’d she know that he’d fantasized about the pillow thing with his grandparents? It’s not that he hated them but… geez… the fucking snoring already. That had to go. They slept all the time anyway. And what was death? Eternal sleep, right? They’d probably thank him.

And his mom—God. What he wouldn’t give for some peace and quiet there. Always nagging, always complaining about one thing or another. The room wasn’t clean enough. The garbage wasn’t taken out as soon as she’d wanted. Shit. With his mom dead, he’d get a lot more done. Like surfing the web or playing XBOX with his buddies.

“And I wouldn’t call you down for something stupid like laundry,” she turned around to look at him. Chris blinked, looking for the catch but there was none. She was serious. “It really would be better if I was dead.”

“See?” Lila confirmed. “You kill people all day on your video games. But when it comes to real life, you hesitate.”

“Yeah,” he scoffed. “That’s because it’s real life.”

“And doesn’t that make it more meaningful?”

Chris considered this. He’d killed countless players online. So many, he couldn’t start to add them all up if he wanted to. And with each death, nothing happened. Nothing changed or got better for him. Their deaths were completely unimportant to his overall happiness.

“And that’s why you need to kill us. It’ll solve your problems,” Lila said in her girl-man voice. “No one would bother you. No one would berate you. You wouldn’t have to listen to me or to them,” she glanced at the sleeping couple, “or rearrange your life for anyone else. You would be free.”


The one thing Chris yearned for. Freedom and quiet. And he’d have both if he did in life what he did everyday online. Five deaths. That’s it. Five deaths and it’d be over. And what was five deaths anyway? The start of the round, that’s what. The more and more Chris thought about it, the more and more it made sense. Lila was right. He’d been hesitating. And it seemed so silly to have taken this long to realize that was what he was doing. The answer had been right in front of him.

There was no point in waiting any more.


Chris awoke with a start.

Man, he’d been tired. Dead tired. His dad hadn’t pulled into the off-road motel until eleven thirty because his mom kept chirping that the less they slept, they better time they’d make. Of course, she’d taken naps in the car. During them, all Chris could think about was how and when he’d put his plan into motion. That night at the motel? After they got back from their “vacation?” Lila had kept him up with questions the entire drive so when they’d reached the cheap accommodations, Chris was ready to shelve the question for the following day’s drive.

He’d practically fallen into bed, his dad having carried everyone’s suitcases up the two flights of stairs. Chris already had half his body under the covers when his dad finally set the bags down with a groan. Chris couldn’t get to sleep fast enough. Lila was throwing a temper tantrum about the lack of a bedtime story since their mother had claimed the bathroom—and hot water—with a nice, long shower and his grandparents, having been situated in the adjourning room, were already asleep.

Damn, it’d been a long day. Snoring, yelling, quiet and questions—all squished into a decades-old minivan that Chris loathed. And the next day wouldn’t be any better either. But it’d be okay. He now had a plan to make everything better, a solution so simple he felt silly for not thinking of it sooner.

Heavy with exhaustion, the last thing Chris remembered was the look on his father’s face when his mother said she’d be in the bathroom for a while. That’s when his eyes closed.

And now, he was awake again.

But it wasn’t morning.

Something rustled in the bed across the nightstand. Rubbing his eye, Chris tried to clear the sleep that blocked the movement. The sheets flapped together and then the blanket fell to the floor. When his vision cleared, Chris squinted at the scene, trying to make sense of it. But he couldn’t. Why would his dad be straddling his mom like that? He and Lila were in the room for crying out loud. Gross.

Chris glanced from the movement to the floor. It’d been clear the night before, but now there was a lump blocking the way to the door. Chris squinted. Two lumps. Panic rose in his throat as he listened to the alarming quiet. No snoring. He waited, hoping to hear the sound he detested. But there was nothing. He looked to his immediate right. Lila lay still beside him. He poked her arm but she didn’t move. She didn’t so much as stir.

“Lila?” he leaned in with a whisper.

It was then that he saw the marks. A trail of light bruises running the length of her neck.

He gulped and focused on his dad again.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he said, his large, bear hands wrapped around her throat. His mother kicked her legs, flailing beneath him. She caught the nightstand lamp and it fell to the floor with a crash. But his father held on. “You said it would be better this way. You said it would be better.”


‘***And for any other writers out there who want to enter it: Horror Tree – Bump in the Road Contest

And Why Shouldn’t I?

One of the things I learned at the greatest events this year—the Writer’s Digest Conference—was to immerse myself more in the community. You. The readers. The writers. This is not something I’m good at, as I like to sit down, write a tad, close up shop and join Batman on the couch to end the day in someone else’s creativity. The Big Bang is always a favorite of mine. I’ve recently started watching Kevin from Work and—if I’m to be honest—binge watching The Walking Dead to get ready for tomorrows premier of Fear the Walking Dead.

*giggles in excitement*

Anyway, out of all the amazing things I took away from the conference, the biggest was to join the community more. To be more of a… presence online. Like, you know, posting more than once a month. And actually communicating with other writers, which I thought I was doing, but apparently I’m not. SO I’m trying to get out of this introverted cage I’ve lived in and actually –gasp!—talk to other people. I’m glad to say I’ve done my first beta-read. Yup. That’s right. Only one. I’ve been writing all this time and have only recently completed a first full-length beta read by a very talented writer who in my opinion, is ready for bookshelves. For all you non-writers, beta-reading is exactly what it sounds like—a sort of test or ‘pre-read’ for books so readers can identify plot holes, weak character development, anything that might need a fix before the book goes out to a wider audience. Have I had my books beta-read this whole time? Of course not. That would require me to do things in the logical, correct format and that never seems to be my strong suit. (Breaking a window to get into the house before using a neighbor’s phone? You get the point.)

But I’m trying. Making the effort. Really jumping outside this circle of safety that has kept me secure, but bored these last 29 years. I’ve also asked people to beta-read my work—double gasp. Because, then people would, like, actually read it and stuff. But I’m doing it! Drink in hand, by God I’m doing it! So hurray for little achievements and big achievements and achievements of all sizes and colors and shapes and smells and all that good stuff.

Lastly—and I think this is the most exciting part—I’m excited about the whole writing thing in general and where I’ve decided to take it. Which is everywhere. For those of you who know about the three books in my planned five-book series, Arizal Wars, (and have possibly read them) you’ll notice the hiatus I’ve taken as I said I’d have the fourth one out this year. It may still happen… may not. All depends if the money fairy makes a visit. And that bitch has been on a long holiday. But (and please be advised, I am still working on it) I’m also experimenting a little more. Trying my hand at horror and YA and paranormal and pretty much everything I can think of. Even fanfic. And believe me, no one thought this was more out of the realm of possibility than I did. Because, why write scenes from other people’s stories when you can write your own? But it’s apparently a big thing now and since I’m in the mindset of ‘and why shouldn’t I?’ I’m giving it a go. It’s Peter Pan fanfic and I’m putting it on wattpad like my other stuff. If it gets no bites, so be it. I think this is more for me than for you, but if you like it and want to read it, go for it. I won’t stop you 🙂

So, with all that said in this long-ass blog, any writers out there looking for beta swaps, I’m all in. For the rest of you, happy Saturday, enjoy today and I love you. Not in a ‘remember that time we were so wasted—thanks for holding my hair,’ kind of way. But in a person to person way. I love you. Believe in yourself. Love yourself. And the rest will follow.


***P.S. I’m going to start reviewing books. There are just *so* many good (and bad) ones out there and I can’t help but think I’m not doing my part in singing their praises. You want a great book to read and that author deserves recognition. It’s a win-win.

Stay tuned.