Thursday, November 7, 2019

Limited-Time Offer From Amazon

My dearests!

For a limited time, Amazon is holding a 3-books-for-the-price-of-2 sale, and I'm thrilled that STORMRISE is included!


I don't know when this offer will disappear, but as of this posting, it's still going on. A great time to do some early holiday shopping for the bookworms in your life!


And because you're a MSFV reader, I will send you 3 STORMRISE bookmarks if you take advantage of the Amazon deal to purchase STORMRISE and any other 2 books. Or, yanno, 3 copies of STORMRISE. Because DRAGONS and CHRISTMAS go together so well. ;) Simply forward your Amazon receipt (or send a screen shot) to me at jillian@jillianboehme.com.

As always, thanks for your love and support!



Monday, November 4, 2019

Talkin' Heads Critique Guidelines

Submissions were low this time, so we only have 8 entries to critique. This should translate as more critiques per entry, yes? Let's give our fellow writers some love today. :)

Guidelines for Critique on MSFV:
  • Please leave your critique for each entry in the comment box for that entry.
  • Please choose a screen name to sign your comments. The screen name DOES NOT have to be your real name; however, it needs to be an identifiable name.  ("Anonymous" is not a name.)
  • Critiques should be honest but kind, helpful but sensitive.
  • Critiques that attack the writer or are couched in unkind words will be deleted.*
  • Cheerleading IS NOT THE SAME as critiquing.  Please don't cheerlead.
  • Having said that, it is perfectly acceptable to say positive things about an entry that you feel is strong.  To make these positive comments more helpful, say why it's a strong entry.
  • ENTRANTS: As your way of "giving back", please critique a minimum of 5 other entries.

*I can't possibly read every comment.  If you ever see a comment that is truly snarky, please email me.  I count on your help.

Talkin Heads #8

TITLE: Blue Fang
GENRE: YA

Brothers, Will and Mikey, live together in an apartment. Will supplements his income by removing ‘marked’ electronics from select stores and selling them. This is younger Mikey’s first venture.

We're there!" Mikey hit the back of the seat.

Will shut off the car and turned to Mikey. He put his index finger over his lips. "Shhhh. From now on, until we're back home, no talking unless absolutely necessary. Understand?" Will whispered.

Mikey nodded and mimicked Will's finger.

Will continued in a hushed tone. “You only do what I say. When I say it’s time to leave, we leave. Don’t touch anything not marked with an ‘X’. You bring the smaller boxes near the front of the store to the back near the receiving window. Got all that?”

Mikey nodded and smiled. “I’ll be real good.”

Will put a black knit hat over Mikey's light brown hair. He pulled another over his hair, though his was a darker brown. "And keep your gloves on."

Will's blue eyes met Mikey's gray ones until Mikey's head bobbed again.

"Good. Let's go." Will mouthed the words, making no sound.

They exited the car, heading for the delivery window. On the way to the delivery window, Will stopped at the alarm box.

In front of the box holding the wiring to the alarm system, Will flexed his shoulders loosening his muscles under his leather jacket. He clasped his hands and thrust them out in front of him, fingers facing him, until the knuckles cracked. Satisfied, he took out his picks from an inner pocket in his jacket.

Opening the locked box in seconds with his picks, he cut all the wires.

Talkin' Heads #7

TITLE: In Jake's Shoes
GENRE: Adult contemporary southern

Jake and Mack: members of a Mortuary Affairs Unit in Afghanistan. They’re discussing the recent suicide of a member of their unit. Jake recalls a classmate’s suicide 10 years earlier.

I walk over to a desk and straighten an already evenly stacked set of DD forms. A coffee mug holds a handful of pens, so I pick one up, click it once, twice, then place it on top of the stack of forms.  
“I knew a guy who killed himself, Mack…when I was a kid.”

            “No s***. How old were you?

            “Eleven.”

“Jesus! How’d he, you know, how’d he do it?”

            “Drank some drain cleaner.”

            “That’s brutal, man.”

            “Yeah, well, it was a long time ago.”
          
Why’d he do it? Did he leave a note or anything?”

            “No. But he was really mixed-up, and his family was messed up. Old man on drugs. Beat him and his mom. I think he figured things would never change or get better.”

            “You sound like maybe you were tight with this guy.”

            “Yeah, I guess I was. He was in my fifth-grade class.” I reach down to smooth the black plastic on the body bag.

            Mack is quiet for a moment. I look up at him and then turn away.

            He reaches out and touches my shoulder.

“Climbing inside that thing is still nuts, Jake. You scare the shit outta me sometimes. Know what I mean?” Mack turns and walks over to a table where we all play cards in-between recoveries. He picks up a deck and starts thumbing through it.

            Suddenly, Sergeant Danbury sticks his head inside the tent flap.

            “Get the unit together, girls. And grab your gear. We got a recovery site.”

Talkin' Heads #6

TITLE: Cat and the Dog
GENRE: Adult Romance

Officially, Riley, the dog, belonged to Seth’s roommate, Brandon, but Seth was the one who loved her and took care of her. When Brandon moved out, he left Riley behind.

Seth opened the door to a young woman, dressed in jeans and a blue hoodie. Her dark hair was pulled back from her face, with a curly pony tail bobbing behind. His roommate search prospects suddenly looked brighter. Her sharp, dark eyes took him in and he felt analyzed and categorized on the spot. An engaging smile spread across her face and Seth couldn’t help but return it.

“Seth Woo? My name’s Catrina Gomez. I’m a friend of Brandon’s”

“Sorry, Brandon’s not here. He moved out a couple days ago. Can I help you?”

“Maybe.” She craned her neck slightly, as if to see into his apartment. Seth instinctively inched the door closed a bit more.

“What’s this about?”

“Brandon left a few things here and he said I could have them. That brown suede chair he’s always despised?” Seth nodded. He knew it. “And some dishes with moons and suns on them.  We bought them together at the LACMA gift shop. And, oh yeah, he said I could have his dog.”

Seth peered at the interloper. “What do you mean?”

“The dog. Riley. Brandon doesn’t want her so he gave her to me.”

The woman whistled and called the dog’s name, and the little traitor came running, whimpering and scratching at the door, until Seth had to let Benedict Riley out. The dog covered Catrina’s face in sloppy kisses and wagged her tail so hard, Seth was sure he’d have welts on his legs.

Obviously, these two knew each other.

“Ms. Gomez, you can send movers for the chair and I don’t give a damn about the dishes, but Riley is my dog. Brandon left her with me.”

Talkin' Heads #5

TITLE: Getting Away With It
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Karma and Kevin are two gifted 9th graders in special ed who desperately want to get into a high school program where they would flourish but who are waitlisted.
          
           She’s making me talk on the phone.

           Laying in my bed, I texted Karma about Witkowski. Apparently, I could not text fast enough for her liking. She made me phone her. Do people even talk on the phone anymore? I’m not sure I have observed this in anyone my age.

            “Hi Karma,” I said. “How are you?” Greeting technique courtesy of my old social group. Mastered that like a boss.

            “You know how I am, Kevin. So spill. Tell me what is happening!”

            I told her the story of Witkowski.

            Karma screamed in my ear. “Oh my God, Kevin. This is great!”

            I pulled the phone away and rubbed my ear. Loud sounds suck. Cautiously, I put the phone close to my ear again.

            “Please don’t yell in my ear.”

            “I’m sorry, Kevin. I’m just excited. I am number 6 now.”

            “And I am number 7.”

            “That’s true! What do you think the odds are of us getting in now?”

            I stopped and sipped a straw full of chocolate milk from my bedside table. “Probably the same as getting on the moon.” I wondered when a travel schedule to the moon would be a reality, the same way there are train schedules all over the U.S. That would be fun to memorize. Karma became very quiet. I needed to fill the quiet somehow. “You know, there’s a list of all the people who got in to D’Ascoyne and the first 10 on the waitlist. It’s posted on the Arrington Public School website. You never know. Maybe other people will move. Or die.”

Talkin' Heads #4

TITLE: Choices
GENRE: Adult Historical fiction

Liam, an Irish boxer, has asked Deirdre to marry him after being away for four years on a boxing tour. This is something she has dreamed about for years.

“I can’t marry you, or anyone, not now. Clare’s always wanted to be a doctor. Mom and Dad told her they couldn’t afford the tuition, so I promised Clare that I’d get a job. My wages could help send her to college, and then to medical school, where she is now. I can’t break that promise.”

“Is that all, love? I’ve a wee bit saved that I thought we could use to buy a house in Queens or Brooklyn, but we can always rent an apartment for a few years instead, and give those few coins to Clare. So, now that we’ve settled all that, when should we get married?”

“Oh, Liam, if only it was that easy.”

“It is, love.”

“You don’t know the worst of it yet. I didn’t either, until tonight. Tonight, I looked across the ring and saw my sister, Fanny. She was with a man. A married man!”

“And how would you know that, love?”

“I saw his wedding band. On the third finger of his left hand, that’s how, Liam O’Mara. Do you think I go around making crazy guesses like that? She’s brought disgrace to the whole family. Your mom would never allow you to marry someone whose sister is no better than a common woman, and Mr. Donovan wouldn’t want to hire someone who had a sister-in-law like that. Someone who could bring disgrace to the New York Athletic Club, would he? She’s always only cared about herself. I hate her!”

Talkin' Heads #3

TITLE: Untitled
GENRE: YA Sci-fi Romance

Cerine belongs to a genetically engineered species of sea women, living in post-apocalyptic times. She, her mother, and a young woman are conversing in their underwater village.

Cerene swam up behind her mother, listening to the murmured exchanges between the women.
    “No snook today?” Raissa, a silver-haired woman asked.

    Her mother shook her head. “Not today, chéri.”

    Now in her year of training, Cerine knew the snook were difficult to catch. They were ever cautious about approaching bait, much more so than many of the other fish species they hunted.

    “But I know you enjoy kelp,” Alyse said, handing the woman a large bundle. Alyse’s other hand rested on her protruding belly.

    “When will your baby join us?” Cerine asked the young woman.

    “Mid-October.” Alyse smiled in that way expectant mothers so often did when speaking of their unborn child. “Her name will be Mae.”

    “It’s a lovely name,” Cerine said. “And I’m sure she’ll have your beautiful golden hair.”

    Alyse’s smiled broadened. “I hope so. My firstborn was a red-head, but you probably know that.” She nodded toward a group of younger girls playing catch-the-conch in the distance. Waving locks of auburn framed the face of Alyse’s daughter. Cerine remembered the girl, though she couldn’t recall her name off-hand.  

    “Isn’t it wonderful she’s having two?” Cerine’s mother interjected, handing another sea woman two cod. “I wish I could have, but. . .”

    Thérèse didn’t finish, but Cerine knew the story. The second embryo hadn’t taken and Queen Genevieve didn’t allow additional chances. Embryos were as precious as diamonds had once been on land. Probably more so. Without them, the sea women would cease to exist. Their small community would dwindle into nothingness, becoming merely an insignificant blip in the history of the earth.

    “Just a few more years, and it will be your turn,” Alyse reminded Cerine.

    Cerine tried produce the appropriate pleased expression, but her face wouldn’t cooperate.

Talkin' Heads #2

TITLE: DESIGNING GHOSTS
GENRE: Adult Paranormal Mystery

Middle-aged single women Veronica and her BFF Roberta are discussing men, marriage, and the lack of good men to marry.

“Well, I wouldn’t say I was desperate,” Roberta said, “but at our age, the ocean is drying up. There’s not as many fish in the sea as there were ten years ago. Now all that’s left are the cranky old crabs and bottom feeders. You landed the last good catch.”

“I didn’t land him,” I said. “That sounds like I plotted to ‘get my man’, like in a Jane Austen novel or something. Riley and I just fell for each other; neither of us was even fishing. So you’re in a dating dry spell, no biggie. The next round of divorces should be clearing, and soon, your dating pond will be well stocked with good catches again.”

Roberta sighed. “I know, it’s just, well, forty-five is a hard age. I always thought I’d be married and have 2.5 kids by now...”

“You hate kids,” I said.

“...driving them to soccer in the minivan...” she continued.

“You hate minivans,” I said.

“...and at the point in my marriage where my husband and I are comfortable, even a bit bored, but content with life,” she finished.

“You hate being bored and really really hate boring sex. And you’ve been married. Twice. They didn’t work out. I think you enjoyed the weddings more than the marriages.”

“Of course I did,” she said, with a shake of her pretty red hair. “What woman doesn’t want to wear a fabulous dress and be the center of attention at a celebration just for her?”

Talkin' Heads #1

TITLE: The Alphabet From A to Zero
GENRE: Adult Caper/Thriller

Zed Argonne has sold his winery for $3M, brokered by attorney Arthur Spurrier. Argonne has phoned Spurrier to note the problem.

“The money for the winery.” Argonne came across as bemused. “You said it transferred this afternoon, right?”

“Right. I got a message around 3:00 that everything was set. That’s when I called you.”

“Just to be clear, by ‘all set’ you mean the money transferred from your escrow account to my investment account, correct?”

“Right. I got confirmation. I even viewed the account to triple-check, using the code you sent.”

“The code I sent.”

Spurrier felt the world tilt ever so slightly on its axis. “Two days ago. You said it was a one-time code that would allow me to confirm the balance in this account.”

“Ohhh, I forgot. How, exactly, did I send you this code?”

“In email. I even replied to the mail to tell you I received it.”

A long silence. Long enough for Spurrier to feel the jungle creeping back in. Tripwires on the trails. Safe as long as he didn’t move, didn’t breathe, didn’t disturb the night.

Argonne broke the peace, drawl gone. “May I presume, by your lack of response here, that you’re starting to comprehend the problem?”

Spurrier put his hand behind him, feeling for the solidity of the wall. “There must be some mistake.”

“Indeed. Whose, I wonder?”

“Um, I…. I….”

“I hear the sounds of a dining establishment seeping through what I’m sure is your latest iPhone. Are you out to dinner?”

“Yes, but I can—”

“With your wife, or someone you’re trying to get into bed?”

“My wife.” Spurrier snapped the answer at him.

“Well, then. Since you’re not going to get laid tonight, perhaps you might get a doggie bag, head back to the office, and….” He paused, one second, two. “And find my f***ing money.”