JOE by Larry Brown… Tugs at the Heart Strings

JoeJoe by Larry Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

JOE is a perfect example of Southern Literature at its finest. The story begins with a boy and his family. They’re tired, dirty, and without a home. The boys father is an abusive drunk who refuses to help his family survive, and his son steps in to help out by asking for a job from Joe Ransom. Joe has problems of his own. He’s a stubborn, stoic man who doesn’t feel that he deserves happiness. His only ambition is to never go back to prison, but there are people out there who’d send him back in a heartbeat. The relationship that forms between Joe and Gary, the boy, will tug at your heart. They balance each other out and provide exactly what the other is looking for, even though they don’t realize it. You will become emotionally attached to these characters, and Larry Brown did an amazing job of making that happen.

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NEVER COME BACK by David Bell… Couldn’t Put It Down!!

Never Come BackNever Come Back by David J. Bell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

NEVER COME BACK by David Bell is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I literally couldn’t put it down. The suspense is masterfully done, and the characters are so easy to fall in love with. But I quickly learned that not all of them could be trusted. When Elizabeth’s mother dies, she is devastated, and she finds herself responsible for taking care of her brother who has Down’s syndrome. While she struggles to keep up with her Master’s program at school, take care of her brother, and cope with the loss of her mother, she learns that the police suspect foul play in her mother’s death, and it wasn’t a robbery. What could a sixty-something woman who keeps to herself possibly have been involved in that would have gotten her killed? Could her sweet brother have done this in a fit of rage? Or was it the new person who suddenly shows up and destroys everything Elizabeth had thought to be true? By the end of the story, I felt Elizabeth’s shock and betrayal as strongly as I could only imagine she felt herself. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves a great thriller and who doesn’t mind having uneasy thoughts like, “How do I know this isn’t true for me too?” Because the truth is, you may never really know…

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THE FORGOTTEN GIRL by David Bell… Amazing Read

The Forgotten GirlThe Forgotten Girl by David J. Bell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

THE FORGOTTEN GIRL by David Bell is an edge-of-your-seat thriller that will leave you wondering what the people closest to you are really capable of. The story begins when Jason’s sister, Hayden, shows up after being gone for years and then immediately disappears again. As the events unravel, you realize that no one is who they seem and some secrets are better left hidden. The character development and pacing in this novel are so artfully accomplished that just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, Bell surprises you with a crazy twist of an ending that will leave you speechless long after the last page is turned. I definitely recommend this novel, along with his other novels, CEMETERY GIRL and NEVER COME BACK, to anyone who loves a good mystery thriller and who isn’t afraid to lose a little sleep at night.

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How to Feel

In workshop today, the class critiqued my new short story, and the response was mostly positive. I got an A on the story, AND my professor wrote in my critique that the story reminded him of Dean Koontz’s writing. I could barely fit my head through the door of the classroom when it was over. 😀

To read an exerpt of the story, go here

Writing Challenge — The Reluctant “I”

The Challenge:

In 800 words and in under an hour, write a scene or a story from the first person point-of-view. However, you can only use the first person pronoun (I, me, or my) two times (excepting in another character’s dialogue), but the first person character must remain an important part of the story.

There were probably close to a thousand reasons not to be driving to Maxx’s house at two o’clock in the morning on a Tuesday. Nevertheless, I was nearing the halfway point along the fifty mile stretch of Route 84 that ran between Hunlee and Cedarville, Alabama. This particular fifty mile expanse of highway had been shunned and forgotten by civilization and offered passersby nothing to see but never-ending acres of open field and an occasional patch of forest.

The only attraction along the blank slate was the halfway point between Hunlee and Cedarville. Twenty-five miles from anything even resembling civilization, sat a small cluster of buildings. There were no intersecting roads, so there was no use for a stop light. The highway simply cut through the center of the group of buildings with nothing but a swinging caution light to acknowledge its existence. With no houses or side roads to lead anywhere in sight, the halfway spot seemed to have been built for no other reason than to provide weary travelers with something to look at other than a sea of green and a long stretch of pavement.

It was an unsettling place to be with a broken radio, an empty passenger seat, and no cell phone signal. Which is why it had taken Maxx twenty minutes to convince me to make the drive. Having not spoken to each other in over six weeks, his phone call was a surprise. His invitation an even bigger surprise. When a guy catches his fiancé cheating on him with his best friend three weeks before the planned wedding, the line of communication gets severed pretty quickly. After six weeks of not hearing from him, it had seemed like the line would remain severed.

It was impossible to imagine what he could want. He wouldn’t say over the phone. He’d just said that he’d had a really long day and didn’t feel like making the drive, but there were some things he wanted to talk about. There are certain bodily reactions that go on inside a person when they’re both emotionally hopeful and terrified at the same time. Butterflies in the stomach, heart in the throat, the inability to sit still. None of these things do anything to improve a fifty mile drive in the middle of the night.

The twin headlight beams seemed to pull the car along, bright against the blacktop. That along with a lack of sleep and the impenetrable walls of darkness along each side of the road coalesced to create an almost hypnotic feeling. It made it easy to imagine how people could fall asleep at the wheel. The only thing tough enough to battle the allure of sleep was not knowing what Maxx wanted to talk about. Could he forgive what had happened? Did he want to talk about it? Maybe try to work things out? The past six weeks had been spent in a constantly revolving state of excruciating pain and complete numbness, and it had provided plenty of time to regret and agonize over what had happened. Alcohol is an evil concoction, but it was too late for making excuses.

There was really no way to be prepared for the unknown, and somehow the fifty miles were already coming to an end. The glow of Cedarville was bright in the distance, like a light at the end of a tunnel. Ten minutes later, pulling into his driveway, it seemed like the excruciatingly long drive had taken no longer than five minutes. Definitely not a good time to puke, though it seemed like an amazing idea.

He came out onto the porch when he heard the car in the drive, and he was wearing nothing but a pair of running pants. His eyes squinted in the headlights until they clicked off with the ignition. There wasn’t a smile on his face, but he didn’t really look mad anymore either. Was that a spark of hope?

“Hey,” he said as he walked toward the driveway. His bare feet were cushioned by a thick carpet of grass. The moonlight reflected off the broad planes of his shoulders, but his face was hidden by shadows.


Silence and awkwardness followed.

“So, I’m glad you could come over. I know it’s late,” he finally said, looking at his watch. 3:35am.

“Oh no. It’s fine. Really.”

Finally he made eye contact and held it for what seemed like forever. The tears were automatic, and they stung.

He reached out his hand.

“So, I just wanted to say that I still fucking hate you for what you did, but I wanted to pay back the money your parents lent me when I had to have the transmission replaced in my car last year.” A check for $750 dollars lay in his palm.



Just a Piece of Paper

Just a Piece of Paper

There’s nothing more frightening than a blank piece of paper. It’s the unsurety of it all really. What begins as something seemingly simple, like 28 or 30-something impossibly straight, horizontal lines printed across a blank slate has potential. That’s the scary part.

A piece of paper’s life span can be reduced to the time it takes someone to write two or three sentences, read them over, and hastily scribble through them before the paper is wadded up and thrown away forever. Those two or three sentences could have moved mountains, but they cease to exist in that one frustrated moment following conception and rejection.

A piece of paper can be the backdrop for the scribblings of a 4 year old or the inpatient doodles of an important executive. Which is more powerful? The four-year-old might grow up and one day find his/her scribbles stashed away somewhere safe, among many other treasures that were saved out of love. Those incoherent scribbles could be worth more than the executive’s $15 million deal he/she was negotiating over the phone as they mindlessly doodled. Nobody saves those doodles.

A piece of paper can hold a love letter, a thank you note, an invitation, an apology. It can be used to form relationships, mend broken ones, and just as easily destroy seemingly healthy ones–a folded up phone number left in someone’s pants pocket, or a letter meant for one person that falls into the wrong hands.

A piece of paper can be powerful, insightful, and inspiring. It can hold knowledge and allow others to learn and share in the knowledge of someone long dead, across the world, or just down the street. This knowledge can encourage enlightenment and betterment, and it can ruin people. Knowledge is power. People abuse power every single day.

A piece of paper can form a religion. It can hold powerful words that people will worship and be willing to die for. The paper can encourage people to be good, humble beings, or it can demand assimilation. It can promote self-acceptance or it can promote genocide.

A piece of paper can hold the deepest secrets of a teenaged girl–who she has a crush on, how her parents just don’t understand, and the fact that she thinks she might be ready to have sex. Another piece of paper a little further along in the same notebook may be stained with tears and realizations that came too late.

A piece of paper can be the only conduit for someone who’s suffering. They can put their feelings on that paper and then they can say they’ve shared them. They can use the paper to reach out for help, or they can use it to lie to their families and say everything’s okay. Some might even use that paper to say their final goodbyes and “I love you”s before they leave the world that has always been a hell for them.

A piece of paper can begin an epic journey, a heart-wrenching love story, a deeply emotional poem, or a hilarious comedy. People live and die on these pieces of paper. They love and mourn. They exist.

A piece of paper has potential… The potential to begin, end, mend, destroy, teach, create, learn, get lost, find yourself or something that’s been missing, hold memories–good and bad, and record lives–real and imaginary.

A piece of paper has potential, and it’s magical.

Hurry! Last Chance for Free Books!

Your Last Chance to Enter The 7 Day Book Giveaway is Fast Approaching. There’s No Time to Waste.

Starting tomorrow (January 6) I will begin choosing the winners for my 7 Day Book Giveaway! 

The winner of Book 1 will be chosen on Jan 6, and the rest will be chosen one by one, each day after. Now is the time to enter the contest. All you have to do is visit the page for the book you’d like to win and leave a comment. Anything. You can enter for as many books as you’d like. The winners will be chosen at random.

Don’t miss an opportunity to win a great read for FREE! Below you’ll find the links to each day’s giveaway. As of today, there are still two books to be posted, but there are five amazing books already waiting for their second home. Don’t miss the opportunity to love them as much as I did.

If you don’t see anything you like, feel free to share this with all the book lovers you know

Book Giveaway Links

Day 1       Day 2      Day 3      Day 4      Day 5      Day 6      Day 7