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“Angelica, You Have Chosen Well” Part One- Chapter Three

A New Design (1)

 

Chapter Three

 

“A Night of Death”

“My nursemaid, who I saw regularly, became a good friend of mine growing up.  At each visit, she taught me how to cook, clean, and sew.  She was very kind to me and possessed a hidden beauty unseen on the outside.  She was tender and loving as if I was one of her children.  My nursemaid arrived the night after Mary and Joseph departed the following day.  After trading a horse of ours, belonging to my mother with their donkey, they left to find suitable lodgings.  Joseph had said his donkey was a bit on the stubborn side.

“One particular night, when my nurse maid had come, there was a loud bang on the door.  One my father would never forget.  One night would shake him for many years.”

 

~~~

 

*Knock, knock, knock.*

“Sir, shall I get the door?  Your baby is almost finished eating,” The nursemaid calls out from the bedroom.

“No thank you, Deborah.  I shall get it.  Let Angelica finish.”

Phillip opens the door to three heavily armed soldiers standing on his doorstep in battle array.  Their eyes darken with hatred, which bleeds through their metal helmets.

“In the name of King Herod, we are instructed to find any baby boys in this house!”  A soldier proclaims authoritatively. Phillip pauses and noticeably trembles, his body freezes with fear.

“Do you have a baby in the house?”

“Uh, yes I do but…but, it is a girl.  Sir, she is nursing,” Phillip hesitates.

“Stand aside!”

The soldiers parade themselves through the front door, and violently shove Phillip aside demanding to see the baby.  They march in perfect order through the bedroom door. Deborah sits nursing the baby, and suddenly startles by the unwelcome guests.

“In the name of King Herod, we are ordered to find any baby boys in Bethlehem!  Now, give me the child!”

Deborah protectively places her hand over the baby; as the other two soldiers stand behind with hands on their swords preparing to draw them out.

“But, sir, it is a girl!  And she is nursing!”  Deborah covers herself with a blanket.

“Give me the baby!”  The soldier demands a second time growing impatient.

He seizes the infant, and carelessly unravels the blanket wrapped around her.  Ripping off the cloth, which covers her bosom, he then cruelly hands the screaming baby back to Deborah.

“Let us go!  It is as they have said!”

The three soldiers stomp out the front door, mount their horses, and ride off.  They leave a trail of dust blowing down the streets of Bethlehem as they hasten to do evil in the name of the king.

“What do you suppose is happening, sir?”  Deborah asks quieting the baby.

“I do not know, but I have a feeling it has to do with the people who were here before.  They had a Babe…a Son…and now they are gone.  I packed food and water for them as they went on their way.  I traded Beth’s horse for their donkey, and they blessed me for showing them kindness as they departed.  I cannot imagine how a stable is showing kindness to them?  I wish I could have done more.”

“But, sir, you did.  You provided them a place to have their Babe, in safety, and you gave them food and drink.  You did more than I have seen many do here in Bethlehem,” Deborah says.  “And Beth would have given them her horse as well.”

“I guess you are right,” Deborah hands Angelica to her father.  She is fast asleep.

Screams of terror and the wailings of women and children in the distance shake Bethlehem’s peaceful night, and Phillip’s inn nearby.  Babies scream as if being torn away from their mothers.  Phillip embraces Angelica tightly in his arms and close to his face.  He thanks God she is alive, but still fears the possible return of the soldiers.  Just what would they intend to do upon finding a male child?

“It sounds as if death is in the air, sir.  What if they come back?”  Deborah places her hand to her chest.

“Well, they are not looking for girls, only boys.  But, rest assured, you will not be here.  Please, take Angelica home with you and bring her back when she is weaned.  I shall visit daily and bring you your wages.”

Feeling her heart beat faster, Deborah adheres to the observation of Phillip.  “Of course, sir, I would be glad to care for her…did you say they are only in search for boys?  Oh my Lord!  What about Benjamin?  My husband Zebedee is watching him now!  Phillip, I must run home!  He is only six months old!”  Deborah cries.

“Then go, Deborah!  Go!”

Phillip’s heart hammers in terror and alarm as he opens his front door.  Deborah bolts in a state of panic into the darkness of the night.  Dreading…

Soldiers swiftly parade through the streets of Bethlehem on their horses. They carry torches to light their deadly mission:  A mission for one purpose and one purpose alone.

One particular soldier rides upon the King’s chariot.  He oversees the soldiers as they fulfill their duty.  Head of the Praetorian, he is crude and lifeless as if looking into dead, black eyes.  His name is Judasis, but the soldiers who know him call him Death due to his talent for killing. Fearlessly, he stands twice the size of a normal man.  His full dressed armor is the best of all the soldiers.  Judasis is infamous throughout the region where prisoners also know, and fear his name.

Just as Phillip closes the door, horror strikes seeing Death leap from his chariot excitedly. Storming into a nearby home across the street, he snatches a baby boy from his mother’s grasp.  Drawing his sword from his sheath, he swings slicing the screaming infant across the neck, killing him instantly. The mother screams in wretched agony.

Phillip’s knees shake dreadfully buckling beneath him.  He swiftly kicks the door closed.  Blowing out the lantern, he jumps up and scurries to his bedroom hiding himself and Angelica under the bed.  I know who that man is.  I have heard rumors, all the way from Jerusalem, of his evil.  What if he comes for my Angelica?  Phillip scrutinizes. We must stay hidden!

Phillip remains awake all night listening to the continuous, agonizing cries, wailings, and shrieks throughout Bethlehem.

Finally, daybreak, and the sound of horse hooves fade into the distance.  Taking with them, are the lives of dozens of baby boys including Deborah’s precious, infant son, Benjamin.

After the burial of Benjamin, Phillip hands his only daughter, his most precious gift over to Deborah.  She will care for Angelica until the age of two when she is fully weaned.

 

~~~

 

“I grew up knowing that the Son of God, Jesus, was born in our stable.  Father did the best he could raising me without a mother.  I could not have asked for a better father. He taught me many things like; the care of our animals, and counting, and collecting the money from the inn.  I was very happy with my father.  But, when I turned the age of twenty-nine, I began to feel as if something was missing from my life.  I was not married nor did I have that desire.  Instead, I took care of father and enjoyed working in the inn, which is unusual for a woman unless she has a husband.

“At that time, rumors spread throughout Jerusalem of a man who I desperately wanted to meet.  A man I thought, for a brief moment, could be Jesus.  But as it turned out, he pointed the way to Him instead.

“Father wished for me to settle down and marry, which is customary for a woman to do.  But, I desired something more for my life.  I longed to make a difference yearning more than anything in this world to see Jesus. I had only heard stories about Him since I was a child from my father.  I did not want to leave Bethlehem, but the more I heard of Jesus, and the man called John the Baptist, the more my heart longed to find them and hear the things taught.  Jesus was to arrive according to the teachings of John the Baptist.  This was the same Jesus born in Bethlehem on the same night I was born.  I knew I had to find Him.”

 

~~~

 

“Angelica, there is a handsome, young man who lives in the city.  He has asked for your hand in marriage.  I told him I would ponder his request as is customary.  However, I still wanted to ask my beloved daughter,” Phillip says folding a pile of clean, white linens in hopes Angelica may have a change of heart.

Resting her chin on the handle of the broom, Angelica ceases from the day’s chores.  Far from the thoughts of marriage, she daydreams of her heart’s aspirations.

“Father, you know I would do anything to please you,” She gently answers.

“And I would do anything for you as well, Angelica.  But, I do not want to force you into something you do not want to do. Although…I would love to have grandchildren, I see in your eyes it is not something your heart desires.”  Philip chuckles.  “I believe I have always known you had no desire to marry.  Even as a child, while girls pretended to marry, you were still playing in mud holes and kicking the boys in their legs.  I see that you love to be here in Bethlehem, and yet your heart seems so far from this place, is it not?” Angelica smirks. “So, what is it you want my daughter?  I will get it for you,” Phillip sincerely asks pausing just a moment as Angelica bites the side of her lip.

“Father, I have heard some people in the city speaking of a man called John the Baptist.  He is down at the River Jordan baptizing and preaching repentance from sin and the coming of the Lord. Each time I hear the story of the night Jesus and I were born, I remember what you said the physician had told you.  He said, that the shepherd had declared, ‘It is Christ the Lord!’  No one has ever called anyone Lord, until now!  I want to wait for Jesus.  And I want to go and wait with John the Baptist, and hear all he has to teach!”  Angelica passionately exclaims.

Sad by his daughter’s words, Phillip stands to his feet, and places the folded linen on the table. He would give his own life to please her.

“Then daughter, Angelica, that is what you shall have!  Now, we must not delay.  I will pack some clothes for you, with a moneybag.  I want you to make haste and go to the River Jordan.  But, one thing I ask that you must promise me,” He wiggles his index finger at her.  She lifts her head in unexpected amazement her father’s sudden agreement and his change of heart excite her.

“What, Father? Anything!”  She flings her arms to her side and spins around a single time.

“I want you to promise me, that you will write often.  Tell me all that happens and what John the Baptist says about this Jesus.”

Dropping the broom onto the floor, she runs over to her father.  She falls lovingly into Phillip’s outstretched arms.  Resting his head upon her shoulder, he caresses her long, curly hair and cries already missing her.

“Angelica, your mother would be proud of you this day, just as I am proud of you.  You are following your dreams.  She did just that.  Her dream of course, was to have a family. Not just me, Angelica, but you.”

“Oh, Father,” Angelica weeps on his neck as they tenderly hold onto one another.

“Now, you shall leave in the morning,” He grabs her shoulders. “Tonight, I will make preparations, but for today, let us finish our work.”

“Yes, sir, Father!”

Angelica picks up the broom and continues sweeping cheerfully like never before.  Her heart suddenly misses Bethlehem knowing tomorrow she will be gone.

 

~~~

 

“The next day was sunny and hot, for that time of year.  Father packed a few garments of clothing, along with a new pair of brown sandals, a head covering, and a moneybag for me.  He taught me to tie the bag on the inside of my sash, to keep from robbers.  Father put a lot of money in my moneybag and instructed me to write to him if I needed more.  He would send the stable boy, who was now grown to my aide.  Kissing my head and holding me tightly, he cried as if he did not want to let go.  I left that morning.  I looked back at my father standing in front of the inn. He was waving his hand through the air.  With tears in his eyes calling out, “I love you, Angelica!  I love you angel!  Don’t forget to write, my daughter!”

“I left on foot, even though Father wished I took his old and unbridled donkey.  The River Jordan was a day or mores journey away.  On the roadside, I met several people who surprisingly were also traveling to the River Jordan.  So we decided to travel side by side in one accord.

“I stopped and ate when I needed to eat, and stopped when the sun went down and slept.  The friends I made on the road were some of the best I have ever known.

“I chose to make my bed a good distance from the road side, in case of robbers by night while I slept.  I trusted God to keep me safe.  I often fell asleep staring at the many stars in the sky.  How beautiful they all were.  It was at those times I would think of my father, and miss him dearly.

“Since I traveled with only a few people, we would talk about the rumors heard at the River Jordan.  All of us could not wait until we arrived; it was like a new season.  People left their homes from afar bringing their wives and children to see and hear John the Baptist.”

 

~~~

 

Finally, the day comes when Angelica arrives at the River Jordan in Nazareth.  The fragrance of burnt wood and fish fill the air following the sound of rushing water.  A man’s voice echoes off the water up into the many hundreds standing and sitting around as she steps through the thickets of grass.

There is much shade along the River Jordan, many flowers and round rocks which some choose to sit upon.  Along the edge of the water, there is a wide river bend where many gather together eating and breaking bread in peace and harmony.  Their laughter is without a shred of falsity.  Others anxiously stand in the water, with a very pleasant man whose face has a distinctive glow.  Up to his waist in the water, he has a brown beard, which is a bit straggly: his body is thin yet something about him seems strong and powerful.  He wears garments made of camel hair with a leather belt strapping around his waist.  Lovingly, he smiles at everyone by the river.  One woman is in the water beside him.  The man holds onto the woman’s hand while his other supports the back of her neck.  He dips her backwards into the water. His voice carries across the ripples of rushing water to all who gather. They also have that same joyous glow upon their faces.

“In the name of the Father, I baptize you!”

Immersing the woman in water, she emerges. The crowd rejoices praising God and clapping their hands.  The sight brings tears to Angelica’s eyes.

Setting the bag down by her traveling companions, Angelica makes her way through the thick, green grass towards the edge of the river.  She sits down and listens to him speak while warming her hands on a nearby fire.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

“I listened to him and for a brief moment I thought, Could this be Jesus?   Until he spoke again, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loosen.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Through the afternoon, Angelica hears his message and believes in the Messiah even more than the stories she heard from her father in Bethlehem. It is then she decides, and purposes in her heart with all that she is, to follow the Lord for the rest of her life and continue with Him as long as she is physically able.  She knows she must wait with John, for Jesus will come.  In the meantime, she abides by the river alongside hundreds camping in the beds of the grass.

The next day, people from around the river begin lining up near the water with a deep desire of baptism.  Angelica’s desire rises within her heart as was the decision to come to the Jordan, and she eagerly waits for her turn to come.

Finally, John the Baptist reaches his hand for her from the water’s edge.  The cool breeze of the day blows passed the trees.  Angelica reaches her hand out to his, and as she touches his hand, she feels a strange sensation warming her.  Then, she steps into the cool River Jordan.  Carefully, she steps across the smooth stones at the river’s bottom a few paces.  She trembles with joy.  This is the most important decision she has made thus far.

“Do you give your life to the Lord?  Do you want to serve Him all the days of your life, and do you repent from your sins?”

Tenderly she cries out. “I do!”  Tears flow off her eyelashes.

Kindheartedly, he grips her hand tightly.  She feels a strong pulling within her stomach, which she does not understand, but welcomes.  Raising his voice to all the others nearby, she feels a power coming from him, a somewhat emanating power.

“I hereby baptize you in the name of the Lord!  Praise to God in the Highest!”

He submerges her backwards into the water.  For a brief moment, Angelica sees her life flash before her eyes.  She emerges.  Everything she knew she desired in Bethlehem has finally been found in the precious, pure words he has spoken.  The water is cold, but inside her heart tingles like a warm embrace.

Angelica steps out of the River Jordan, dripping wet as others gather around applauding and glorifying God.  The moment she steps onto dry land, dozens of men and women hug and welcome her to the Lord.  Children hang onto her drenched garments and smile up into her blue eyes endearingly. One child, no older than two years hands her a dry tunic.

Continuing on with John the Baptist and the others a great length of days, the date of Angelica’s birth passes.  She is now at the age of 30 as is Jesus who shares the same prophetic day.

During her time, at the River Jordan, she carefully notices many tax collectors and soldiers coming near the riverbank to hear the message John is teaching.  She can see by the look in their eyes, they are out for blood and try to trick him by the questions they ask.  Skeptically, she keeps her eye on them and prays for her friend John the Baptist whom she has come to know.

Rumors spread how John had rebuked King Herod for taking a bride that belongs to his brother.  Her name is Herodias.  Thereafter, she secretly despises him searching for a clever way to demolish the man of God.

Many ponder if perhaps John the Baptist is in fact Jesus the Christ.  But, even in the middle of their idle chit chat, he keeps pointing them to One who is sure to arrive.

 

~~~

 

Loud, quick footsteps, trail down the stony, staircase, accompanied with the angry voices of evil men.  Soldiers approach the cell stopping Angelica from her story.

“Pardon me, sir, but I just follow my instructions.”

The jailer begs forgiveness, from two heavily armed soldiers.  One of them…is Death.  As the soldiers walk passed the other prisoners waiting, they tremble at the sight of this ominous soldier. The soldiers stand angrily in front of Stephen’s cell.

“This one, Stephen, was not even supposed to be jailed!  The counsel is furious he is not up in the synagogue speaking with them.  An hour has past and your orders were to take the other man down to the jail.  Not this man!”  Death raises his gruff voice as he repulsively gazes around the bleak prison.

“It is just disgusting…the stench down here!  It is almost unbearable!  I should not have to come down here to correct your mistakes!”  Death roars as he crosses his thick arms glaring at the puny, miniscule existence of the jailer.

“I am sorry, sir.  If it pleases the counsel, Judasis, I-I could explain how it was my-”

“NO!  No need to do that.  Down here you call me DEATH!  You are lucky you are escaping with your life, and the lives of your family with an error such as this!  I should throw you in a cell of your own!  Or should I just crucify you here?”  Death draws his sword and presses it slightly against the jailer’s neck.  The jailer feels the sharp, cold blade to his skin.  Terror grows in the heart of the jailer as Death places the sword over his Adam’s apple, with sinister thoughts of gutting it out of him.

“No, Death, please, sir!”  The jailer pleads looking up at the mammoth man staring down at him desiring to trample him under foot.

“Open the cell!”  The wicked soldier interrupts.

The loud, locked chamber clicks as the quivering jailer opens the cell, and moves aside.  The other soldier stomps inside, and stares at Stephen who glances up with the parchments in his hands.

Angelica shutters. She stares at the larger soldier in remembrance and familiarity.  I remember stories my father told me of this man.  She thinks. He is surely a wicked fiend.

“We must put these chains back on him!”  The soldier bellows.

Stephen stands to his weary feet perceiving his time has now come, and he shall speak as the Holy Spirit gives him utterance.

Death ducks his head and stomps inside the cell.  He places a set of chains around Stephen’s feet weighing him down, yet he remains strong standing upright.  He is brave, but not without fear.  Stephen slides the pages of the parchments through the metal bars back to Angelica.

“You see, all for God’s glory?  Listen, when they prepare to destroy your life, pray to the Lord.  Pray to Him for strength,” He sternly glares into Angelica’s blue eyes, as she discerns the urgency from Stephen.

Angelica reaches out, but the angry soldier grabs Stephen’s hands.  Once again, the parchments fall to the grimy floor as the soldiers quickly chain Stephen’s hands together.

“Pray to the Lord, huh?  Well, we shall see what will be done with you after the counsel hears you speak.  If I were you, I would worry about your own life and not the life of this woman!”  Death sternly states, with an evil undertone.

The soldiers stand on the left and right leading Stephen out of the cell.  Locking the cell behind them, Angelica stands to her feet and walks toward the door of her cell.  She watches Stephen as he slowly shuffles his feet an inch at a time yieldingly bound and chained.  But, this will be the last time he is ever bound as he is.  And it is a moment he welcomes with all his heart.

Glancing over at her, he speaks one final time.  “Remember what I said.  Your life has made a difference.  Only do not lock it away…share it with anyone who will hear!  Tell your father the same.  I will see you soon, Angelica.  I will see you soon!”  He states while they hard-press and shove him passed the prisoner’s cells by Death’s strong arms.  The weight upon Stephen is heavy, but he is ready.

The soldiers lead Stephen up the staircase as some in the jail clap and rejoice.  Others weep with sadness of heart knowing his most certain fate.  Death is only ending his life here on earth.

Angelica rests her forehead against the metal bars, wrapping a few of her dirt-embedded fingers around them.  Closing her eyes, she begins to pray.

“O my Lord, whom I serve.  Give me strength and my friend, Stephen.  That You may show him a revelation where he will be with You if he is to be put to death today.  Let his words pierce the hearts of all who hear him.”

Tears run off her face and ripple to the cell floor.  John lay on his back staring over at Angelica.  He presses his lips together. It disturbs him to see the young radical crying.  Then, he glances at the cloth Stephen left for him.

“Angelica, please do not cry.  At least you know where you will spend eternity: which is more than I can say about myself,” He crosses his bony arms.

Immediately, she dries the tears with the back of her filthy hand and takes a few steps toward the bars.  She feels a tugging in her heart to speak.

“It is not that I know, but do you?  John, do you really know where you will go when they sentence you to death?  Where you will spend eternity?”

John slowly pulls himself up towards the interesting girl.  He feels weak and sick; his illness clings to him like the skin on his frail frame.

“I am not a good man.  I have been a thief my whole life.  Now, you tell me how is it, that a God as you say, can possibly love someone like me?  And how can He accept him into His heavenly home?  Why will He, a person such as myself?”

“John, I want you to listen to me.  I am going to tell you more about Him; now, just sit back and hear me.  It may help you with the answers you seek.”

Just then, sounds from above boom like a stirring, which shakes the walls and very foundation of the prison.  Dirt falls from the ceiling as some in the prison cough.  People scream and yell troubling the prison.  Finally, a man’s voice authoritative and wise with power quiets the angry mob.  In her heart, Angelica knows Stephen is speaking that very moment to a violent and hateful crowd in the synagogue.

Minutes seem as hours passing when suddenly the crowd becomes irate and wrathful louder than before.  Footsteps clatter from the ceiling rushing across from one side to the next then fade into the distance.  Angelica shuts her eyes tightly as tears fall down her dirty cheeks once more.

“I will see you soon, dear brother.  I will see you soon,” She softly vows.

The crowd seizes Stephen, tosses him outside the city, and mercilessly stones him.  He looks up to the sky at the parting heavens, and sees Jesus. Then he lies down and falls asleep.

The jailer victoriously stomps down the steps and stands in front of a cell door, five cells from where they hold John.  A soldier joins him.  They yank a man out of his cell bound and chained for immediate execution.

“Ah the crowd is relentless today!  More blood to shed!”  One of the soldiers mocks with sarcasm.

“It seems there are four more people now, before I am to be taken,” John says putting his head down by his soon coming fate.  “Can you honestly tell me this is all worth it?  How old are you, Angelica?”

“I am thirty-four years old.  And yes, I can say it is all worth it.  Once you hear what I have seen, and how being near Jesus, and by His side has been worth everything, I can endure it now.  I would never trade one moment spent with Him.”

“Okay then, Angelica.  Go on with your story.  I am listening.”

Leaning his back against the wall, John gazes at the cloth Stephen had given him still sitting between the bars.

Angelica reaches for her parchments and pen, and places them on her lap.  She begins vigilantly writing again.  The words pour forth like sweet honey as she remembers every moment with Jesus.

 

 

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Free Chapters of “The Gateway” Part One of the Gateway Series

TheGatewaykindlecover

The 1st two chapters of “The Gateway” Part One of the Gateway Series- a supernatural, scifi, and urban fantasy read!

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

“Hello! SOMEONE HELP ME! I need help!” Grace sways back and forth, on the floor, of her kitchen.  She’s pale and trembling with a broken phone tightly pressing against her ear, with a white knuckled grip.  There’s a sense of hopelessness and terror. “I need help!” Her voice trails off.

Ten minutes earlier.

Grace leans over and picks up a toy train from the carpet of her New York apartment. A severe storm is blowing into the city.  The wind fiercely whistles as the raindrops violently beat against the windows like loud pops of pebbles, as surely as if a teenage boy was getting his girlfriend’s attention. That’s when one of the woman’s children calls for her from the back bedroom.

The mother of four sighs while tying her robe around her waist. She tiredly drags her body towards the back room, where her children lively giggle getting ready for bedtime. Grace was hoping they wouldn’t need her, and she can retire for the evening, but with small children, it’s inevitable. But, she was still hopeful.

It’s a chilly and damp night. Grace checks the thermostat then steps into the room for Manny who is still calling her.  The four-year-old jumps into her tired arms.  She sighs, his hugs warm her.

“Momma! I can’t put my shirt on.  It’s stuck.” His voice slightly muffles from being tangled in his shirt. Grace lovingly grabs Manny by the shoulders and sits him on the bed.

“You’re old enough to put this on yourself, aren’t you? Come on buddy?”

Manny shakes his head. She sighs, grabs the wrinkled up pajama shirt, which is over half his head and one arm, and fixes it for the black, curly haired cutie. He smiles clinching onto his mom while she embraces him and lays him into his nice, warm Superman covers.

“Did you brush your teeth?”

“Yes mom.”  They all answer.

Emilio, her eight-year-old son jumps up and down landing on his butt on the top bunk bed.  While José, her six-year-old, snuggles underneath the covers in his own bed near the door. Smiling proudly, she endearingly watches her children settle in for the night. Grace tucks each one in and gives a special kiss on their innocent foreheads.  You definitely have a full load here, Grace.  But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Just then, the sound upon the windows grows – deafeningly loud.

“What is that, mommy?”

Manny glances toward the window at the startling noises. “Honey, it’s only raindrops. There’s a storm coming.”  Grace brushes her long, black, curly hair off her shoulders and flicks off the bedroom light.  She turns on the hallway light knowing her children need it for comfort, especially during a storm.  Manny looks at her with a disconcerting glare, their bedroom lights up from the lightning outside.

“It’s alright.  Just ignore the storm, honey.  If you watch the lightning, it’s very peaceful. God watches over us.  Remember, I told you the last time that God makes the storms?”

“Yeah, loser!” Emilio heckles his nervy brother. Manny twists his lips shooting Emilio a weird look.

“That’s your brother!” Grace is already irritated from the lack of sleep the night before. She eyes Manny whose countenance drops at the hurtful words of his big brother. Then she eyes Emilio.

“I’ve told you once, I’ve told you twice.  He will always be your brother. Don’t make fun of him. Now, please apologize.” She crosses her arms.

Emilio covers his head with a pillow and muffles, “I’m sorry, Manny.”

“It’s okay, Emilio.  I love you,” Little Manny brightly smiles.

Emilio wrinkles his nose at the very thought of his brother always saying he loves him and the others.

“That was sweet of you, Emilio.  Alright, boys. Go to sleep.  I love you. I’ll make some waffles in the morning.  Night.”

The noise of the storm rises over the chime of the mobile, dimly playing above her eight-month-old son Chico, asleep in a crib in her bedroom. Chills creep up her arms. She thinks nothing of it and quickly checks the thermostat again.  Maybe it’s broken. It’s awfully cold in here.  Grace crosses her arms.  I was hoping this wouldn’t happen in a new place.

About two months ago, Grace Rodriguez moved into a two-bedroom apartment in a large New York complex.  It is located on a pleasant street surrounded by tall trees. This is a night like any other, for Grace as a single mother, putting her children to sleep and cleaning up their toys. Yet something about this night is fairly off track in the atmosphere.  Sure it’s raining, but since when does the rain beat so hard against the windows that it sounds like the glass may shatter at any given moment?

Grace rubs the silver cross necklace around her neck, with her middle finger and thumb, and then continues picking up the rest of the toys scattered across the living room.  She quietly places them in a toy box in the corner. The children’s matching short, black locks of curly hair sprawl across their pillows. They lie silent, their eyes slowly closing from the busy day they’ve had.  Only small slits can be seen. Grace yawns and stretches a moment. She heads back down the hall, and peeks in on her kids. She cracks a smile at her children with love and affection. With a sigh, she scans the usual mess of scattered toys. It is just a typical boy’s room which she will have to clean sooner or later.

Grace heads to her room yawning, in the dimly lit hallway, when the children’s eyes open wide, glancing toward the darkened living room at the sound of a loud *clang*.

The long hallway holds the feeling of imminent danger brewing. Grace pauses, and hesitantly calls out while slowly spinning around.

“He-hello?”  Her voice crackles as a cold breeze climbs up her legs then moves through the air chilling her to the bone.

“Momma, what was that noise?” One of her children groggily speaks up.

“Oh nothing, honey,” Her shaky voice is noticeable. “You remember last month when that alley cat jumped onto our stairs outside? And he knocked down mommy’s plants in the window sill?” Grace clears her throat and nervously grins.

The boys laugh, now appearing to be awake due to the noises they hear and the fear consuming them.

“Yeah that was funny, mommy. He jumped all the way up here. And we’re a hundred floors up!”  Manny giggles.

“No we aren’t butthole.  We’re on the fourth floor,” Emilio pokes again.

“Don’t call him that!” Grace faces their room and points her finger now clearly upset. “You are brothers. You should stop all the fighting and name-calling or you’re going to get spanked!  Now I mean it, say you’re so-”

More sounds clank around in the kitchen stopping her from finishing the threats to the arguing children. Grace’s big, brown eyes bulge as she fearfully tip toes backwards against the bedroom door.  It suddenly dawns on her the baby is asleep in the crib, in her room. I can’t leave him alone. What if it’s a burglar? She ponders.

“Boys, I need to get Chico.  He’s in my room. None of you move a muscle, alright? I mean it not one of you,” She whispers to her wide-eyed kids.

Biting the corner of her lip, her face turns flushed.  Her body uncontrollably trembles while trying to remain calm, cool and collected. Jose and Emilio sit up. Manny clutches his blanket close to his chest for comfort and a shield, from the fear he feels.  Jose tosses his covers off, hops out of his bed, and jumps into the bottom bunk snuggling under the covers next to his brother Manny.  Emilio remains on the top bunk, with a sick surge in his stomach.  Being the oldest, he knows something is gravely wrong.

“Okay boys, now sit still and don’t move.  I’m going to get Chico,” She whispers.  Emilio nods.

Grace slowly tiptoes down the hall towards her bedroom. Her stomach akin to riding the elevator up a tall building, making her nerves shoot up in terror from the continuing clanks and bangs in the kitchen. Abruptly, the sounds veer into the living room.  Her heart sinks in her chest, but she can’t see a thing in the living room from where she stands. Grace reaches for the doorknob, her fingers shake. Her pulse races, she may faint. Her forehead is glossy with sweat. She clinches her eyes together a moment and breathes in deeply.  Quickly, she flings open the bedroom door smacking it against the wall and clamors inside.

The noise escalates and all of a sudden stops, as quickly as it began. Putting a pacifier in the baby’s mouth, Grace scoops him out of the crib and cuddles him close in her trembling arms. A dark shadow quickly passes through the hallway, like a ghostly, eerie presence. Then it disappears unnoticed to her.  The necklace hanging around her neck glows with a light, auburn aura. Grabbing the telephone on the nightstand, she hustles back into the boys’ room. Relief hits. The glow of the necklace fades away as she closes the door and locks it while trying to quiet the baby who’s awake, from all the movement.  Grace gasps in a deep breath, thankful she’s back with all her children, but ponders what to do about the intruder. I think there may be a baseball bat in the boys’ closet. If he comes back here, I’ll let him have it!

“Okay boys, alright…isn’t this fun?  Everything’s okay,” Grace gathers another deep breath, and bounces the baby slightly soothing him to sleep.

Grace tries making everything seem like a fun game, as she often does, so her children will not be afraid.  Suddenly, her heart sinks in her chest at the empty top bunk. Emilio is nowhere in sight.  Remnants of a giant, animal, paw print on the sheets is Grace’s only indication something is gravely wrong.

“My God, what’s that smell?” Hesitantly, she touches the print and rubs it within her fingertips. “This is sick!  What is this?” Grace yanks the covers off Manny’s bed.

“Ah! Don’t hurt me!” Jose screams.  Manny tucks his little body in a ball squeezing his eyes shut.

Hurt you?  Where’s Emilio?” Grace waits for an answer. “Look at me!” She grabs his chin forcing him to look at her. “Answer me…where….is Emilio?”

Jose grabs the blankets and throws them back over him and his brother unable to stop his body from quivering.  He’s on the verge of soiling his pajama pants.

Grace places the phone down and lays the fussy baby on the bed. Maybe he’s hiding.  She wonders.

She opens the boys’ closet speedily flinging shoes and toys around the floor, shoving aside clothes and hangers searching for Emilio.  Kneeling on the floor, she keenly glares under the bed, but he is nowhere in the room.  Her heart pounds faster and loudly resonates in her ears. She feels faint again and an urge to sit down, but she can’t! Where is Emilio?

“Emilio?  Oh my God!  Emilio! Boys where did your brother go?  Boys come out from under there! Where did he go?” The worried mother frantically questions again.  Horrified, the children will not move a muscle or come out of hiding. Their quivering bodies are evident to the human eye.

“Alright, listen. Hold Chico with you, and hide him under the covers.” She carefully covers the baby with the blanket, alongside her remaining kids. “I’ll be right back.  Don’t you move!” Grace panics, twiddling her fingers as she thinks what to do.  Chico whimpers then closes his eyes falling back to sleep suckling on his pacifier. Grace grips the phone and dials 9-1-1 as she bites the corner of her lip.

Dreading, she slightly cracks open the squeaky door then jumps. Easy there, Grace.  Don’t make your kids more scared than they already are.

Hesitantly, she closes her children’s bedroom door and heads back into the hallway to find her missing son.

“Hello, what is your emergency?” The emergency responder answers.

Slowly, Grace moves down her dark hallway, keeping a watchful eye on the living room while deliriously creeping back into her bedroom.  How is it he’s gone after those noises? How?

After a short search, she creeps back into the hallway.  Grace wipes her glossy face and attempts to calm down, but her heavy breathing seems to be getting the best of her.  Thoughts of panic prick her mind.  Where did Emilio go in just a short amount of time? I was gone for only a moment.

Carefully, she tiptoes one foot in front of the other, her bare feet quietly press into the beige carpet. She opens the bathroom door. Sneaking up to the bathtub, she’s light headed, dizzy cradling horrible thoughts of what may have happened to her son. Grace quickly flings the shower curtain aside then wipes a tear from her small, pug nose. Taking a sigh, Emilio is not there and the search ensues. Examining the closet in the hall, she flinches, swinging her fists around grabbing into thin air at a small cobweb.  She rummages through the children’s coats and shoes remembering, Emilio likes to hide in the closet while playing hide and seek with his brothers.

Just then, Grace hears muffles. Holding up her hand, she recalls the 9-1-1 call.

“HELLO WHAT IS YOUR EMERGENCY?” The emergency responder repeats.

A very frightened Grace presses the phone to her ear as she glides her fingertips along the wall.  She gasps and heaves in a deep breath, panic rising.

“Uh, yes, um…I heard a noise in my house and-and it could be a burglar and my boys are here, but,” She continues whispering softly, maneuvering down the hallway into the living room; her legs nearly buckle giving way to her trembling.

“But, what?  Ma’am, are you there?”

Grace sets her eyes on the living room. A dim night light barely illuminates the room in disarray.  Her furniture is upside down blocking her pathway to the kitchen.  There’s a clear sign of a struggle.  The beautiful flower pictures, which hang over the couch, are lopsided.  It is dark, but still her son is nowhere in the room.

“Emilio!” Grace whispers.

Surprised by the state of her home, she carefully straddles over the couch, pushing the coffee table out of the way.  A few strands of curls brush against her flush cheeks.  Her mind continues racing.

“Your boys are what?  Ma’am?  Okay ma’am we have your location and we’re sending police assistance.  Do you see a person in your house?  Is someone in the house with you?  Is there an intruder in the home?” Dispatch continues probing the frightened woman to keep her talking prying for more information.

Suddenly, the feeling Emilio has been kidnapped hits Grace like a punch in the gut.  “Okay, please hurry!  My house is a mess like someone was looking for something!  My furniture is all over the place and I still can’t find my son!”

“Okay ma’am so…your son is missing?  We are sending someone right now for you.  Don’t move, okay?  Ma’am?”

Grace pulls the phone away from her ear when something creaks in the house, again.  It’s coming from the kitchen, like footsteps moving around.  Did he get out of bed to check on the noise?

Cautiously and bravely, she pokes her head around the corner expecting to see a prowler. The kitchen appears as she left things. The faint street lights partially stream into her kitchen. Alarmingly, she eyes the room searching for Emilio.  The table, near the window, and stools seem in place. It appears to be the only tidy room in the apartment. Carefully, she steps into the kitchen. She hugs the side of the wall with her rickety body, then out of the blue trips on something in the middle of the floor.  The phone flies out of her hand, and breaks into pieces as the battery pops out and slides across the floor.

“Un!” She falls forward, landing hard onto her stomach nearly smacking her face on the tiled floor.

Propping up on her side, she moans in some pain, but soon realizes the very thing hindering her steps, is her child Emilio.  He lays face-up on the floor in his pajamas unconscious.  Patting the sides of his face, she desperately tries reviving him, but something is not right.  There is an unsafe ambiance cautioning her that something is still amiss in the home.  Grace clenches the child’s pajamas and yanks him onto her lap.

“Oh God!  Emilio…oh Emilio!  Wake up! Come on!  What happened, baby? What happened?”

A cold chill still resonates throughout the apartment.  Is someone here? Who did this to him? I’ll kill him!  She tells herself.

Something warm and wet underneath Emilio startles her. As she lifts her hands, she spots large animal footprints. The prints strangely encircle where her son had been lying.  The very sight of it sends chills up her spine.  The hair on her arms stands erect.  Something is present and near, she detects it.  It’s nearby and it’s utterly palpable.  This is the same thing I saw on their bed. What is this?

Goo sticks to her hands. She frowns and curiously puts it to her nose wondering what it could be.  This light pinkish hue sticks all around her fingers embedding underneath her long fingernails. She continues patting Emilio’s cheeks to wake him regardless.

Suddenly before her, a colossal creature appears standing on all fours like a lion guarding his newly caught prey.  Its appearance is like a beast, a tall tower.  Some of its body almost human-like is scalded head to foot. Wearing tattered pants and a long, red cape draping its burly back sweeping the ground, its powerfully built body is black as ash. Smoke simmers off its skin.  It all seems like a bad dream to Grace. She closes her eyes tightly. Her heart hammers.  Sweat drips off the sides of her face.  She panics, but holds her son tightly. The stench of the intruder is putrid like sulfur.  It is one of the dead which walks, only a much stronger aroma consumes the place. Her eyes rest upon the creature’s bear like feet and razor sharp claws.

Terror hits. Grace alarmingly screams at the top of her lungs. The intruder picks up the unconscious child in his simmering arms. Grace clutches the leg of Emilio’s pajamas, yet the creature gives an earth-shattering growl and wrenches the child from her grasp.  Its cape drapes over Emilio like a blanket.  Its muscles pulsate and its back arches until it stands to its feet like a man.  He growls again at Grace.  The creature towers larger than any human being.  Weakness and fear consumes Grace, she’s unable to make it to her quivering legs almost paralyzed at his presence.

Just then, a blue light flickers as thousands of small molecules gathers behind the creature. It entombs the kitchen like a whirling swimming pool, hovering in mid-air.  A gateway.  Grace’s eyes veer and fixate, mesmerized by the bright blue light illuminating and levitating. The glow and iridescent color is magnificent. The hole swirls and brightly glistens.

The creature jumps into the giant gateway, which vanishes like a flint, along with Emilio who’s still unconscious and unable to fight off his kidnapper.

“Oh God. Oh God!” Grace blinks her eyes. *Sniff, sniff.*

Grace scrapes up one of the broken phone pieces, near her leg. The hysterical woman screams in a blank daze. She’s completely delirious the phone is destroyed and stained with the same, unknown substance. Grace presses it against her ear.

“Hello…please!  Help there is someone here!  There is someone here, and he took Emilio!  Help! Help!  Someone help me! I need help! I need help!”

Grace remains on the floor rocking back and forth white faced, scratching her fingernails on the tiled floor. The baby screams from the bedroom. There’s the faint sound of a police siren in the distance. Grace cries in agony into the telephone while gasping for breath. But no one is on the other end.  Not even a busy tone echoing in the kitchen bouncing off the walls to shout at the distraught woman, No one can hear your cries!

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

At the heart of downtown New York, there are buildings that appear as if they touch the sky.  Lined on every street and corner, lawyers, stock traders, associates and the like, have their offices.  In one of those tall buildings with windows overlooking Manhattan square, is the office of the popular newspaper ‘The Daylight News’.

The leading newspaper columnist in New York is a man named Aiden Jenson. Aiden is an abrupt man, clean-shaven, almost six feet tall, talkative and has little patience for the harangue of people, especially fellow journalists or reporters. He’s a lanky man with deep blue eyes and bleach blonde hair which makes him appear like the “All American” boy.  A sweet, yet calculating man, Aiden’s experience over the years, has perfected his ability interviewing victims. Not being much of a cook, except throwing bread into the toaster, he usually eats cereal for dinner while watching a baseball or football game at night.  He remains a bachelor, living alone in New York, and is disinterested in any advances of a female-most of the time-as he is married to his job, and set in his ways like a turtle in his shell.  Curious and investigative, he is one of the leading journalists cracking stories on violent crimes. The stories, which made a name for him, involve men in prison cells and few on death row, with claims of their innocence. Aiden’s learned over the years, to follow his instincts and the hunches in his gut.  It’s helped him uncover that some of these inmates were in fact doing time for crimes they indeed did not commit. Aiden has cracked open many cases causing reinvestigations in record number, for convicted prisoners. Families of the victims however, do not always share his success.

Lately, however, he is becoming bored with his usual stories about convicts. Aiden is noticing a woman he knows well, Saline Davis, who is part of ‘The New York Chronicle’, is following in his tracks, hot on his tail more than she’s ever been.  Saline Davis is also a popular journalist, but in addition has landed a small slot with Channel 9 Late Breaking News.  Though they work with different newspapers, they’re always competing with one another. It’s been that way since college.  In fact, their newspapers are often toe to toe when it comes to front page stories and sales, only ‘The Daylight News’ remains ahead by a hair due to Aiden Jenson.  Aiden has a well-earned reputation in New York as one who listens to the people and most readers love him in return.  Little does Grace know, her life and Aiden Jenson’s life are about to collide in one of the biggest paranormal adventures New York has ever read.

The boss hollers at Aiden, from his office, for one of his private talks, which usually means he wants to know what the next story is or how the new story is going. Basically, just being a bothersome, nagging boss, picking at him for details of the story before the deadline.  Typical, only Aiden has adjusted to his boss’s tactics and brash personality, developing a way with him, which others wish they possess.  People often fear entering the boss’s office for one reason.  Hearing the words, “You’re fired!” is a tough break for those working in the newspaper business.  In New York, a fired journalist spreads like wild fire.  You either write a great story or get canned for not producing a well-grounded one. What his boss dislikes most is recanting a story; which of course is immediate grounds for dismissal with this line of work in such a competitive field of “he” said “she” said.  Aiden however can care less.  He knows and is proud he’s on top. If he is ever fired, he could have a job by the end of that working day. And his boss knows it only too well.

Aiden saunters through the hubbub of cubicles and journalists on their phones and the clacking of fingers sweeping across the computer keys.  Aiden pauses outside the glass door, of his boss’s office.  The maple desk positioned near the entrance is where the boss’s secretary sits each day, a headset attached to her ears.  She’s a normal gal, not much to look at.  She’s mousy of sorts, with straight brown hair, no make-up on her pale face, and wears thick, bronze framed glasses.  Usually, her passé pantsuits or long plaid dresses are an eye sore making a terrific bull’s eye for others in the office to snicker behind her back.  Even though she’s not blind to the gossip, she’s shy and smitten by Aiden’s good looks and boyish charm. Her name is Elise Reming.

“Oh hi, Aiden. How are you today?”  Elise smiles revealing her shiny, metal braces splayed across her big teeth in a flirtatious, yet shy manner. She is hoping he will take a glance, in her direction.  Nervously, she tugs on her horrendous, royal blue, plaid dress.

“I’m good, Ms. Reming, thanks.” Aiden scratches his strong nose avoiding eye contact with her.  His mind is solely on this meeting with his boss and nothing more.  He opens the door and treks into the office where his boss is impatiently waiting at his desk.

His boss’s name is Kip Carlisle, and he’s typically surrounded by a cloud of smoke, from a cigar clenched in his two front teeth. It’s a soothing calm when in deep thought. Sometimes it’s a little difficult to hear him speak past the stogie.

Aiden slightly coughs, from the smoke in Carlisle’s office, which makes him feel a bit queasy and turn green.  He’s never liked the smell of cigars.

Now Aiden’s boss is also a tall man, clean-shaven, with deep frown lines casting a shadow, between his eyes, accompanied by obvious crow’s feet.  He is an exceedingly headstrong, determined man, in his late forties, with a boxy jaw.  His wardrobe consists of expensive grey suits, without the jacket, and a tie he leaves dangling loosely around his neck.  People in his office think this is a bit peculiar, but they never ridicule the boss.  His athletic build, red hair, and big, auburn eyes are intimidating.  Fast-talking, Kip Carlisle’s known for making swift yet accurate decisions in his deep, raspy voice.  He hates when anyone yells or raises their voice around him, unless he is the one doing the yelling.  Abruptly, he slams down the phone when he sees Aiden pop in.  Finally, he’s here.  Carlisle thinks, having waited only a few minutes.

Carlisle eyes his best journalist. “Okay Aiden, listen you are the best journalist I’ve ever had, maybe ever known in my lifetime. You can be cool, cunning and calculating.  But, strange happenings in New York City? Paranormal? You understand, when you told me this last week, I said we’d discuss it.  But the Ghostbusters thing has already been done!  By the way this isn’t bothering you, is it?”  He points at his cigar, sitting in a glass ashtray, then quickly remarks, “Good,” And swiftly cradles it between his front, squared teeth with a sly grin.

Aiden eases back in the tan chair, in front of his boss’s desk, getting comfortable for what is going to be the beginning of a long debate or lecture. But, he’s fully prepped for a terrific argument.  Aiden has been at this paper long enough to know how to handle the long talks.  He has his ways, well manipulations. He scratches his cleanly shaven, baby face, and fixes the wrinkles in the seams of his pants.

“Listen, I know it’s not what I usually write about, but it’s something I really want to do.  Once you read about it, you’ll be a believer.  I promise you!”  Aiden rubs his sweaty palms on his suit pants, crinkling them up again.  He has an impending urge to fix the wrinkles, a somewhat OCD habit of his.

Carlisle rolls the thick, cigar around his mouth, and stews adjacent from Aiden, in his high back, black chair, which swooshes as he clunks down.  He plops his feet on the corner of his desk and impatiently drums his fingers on a thick stack of papers.  Taking a huge puff of his cigar, he blows circles of smoke into the air then glares at the finest Cuban cigar he can afford cradled between his fingers.

“Alright…I’m listening,” Carlisle waits surrounded by fresh smoke. There’s a cool, odd silence in the office then finally, Aiden contemplates his ice breaker.

“Sir, with all due respect, these criminal articles are washed up! They’re yesterday’s newsAnd the people out there are searching for more than just another presumed killer exonerated!  And to be quite honest, I can’t handle anymore hate mail from the victims’ families, threatening me!” Aiden shakes his head.  “Even in light of new evidence, they think I’m aiding and helping a killer go free.  They place a great deal of blame on this paper too!  Yesterday, an elderly woman on the street confronted me.  She was still convinced one of the convicts set free, who was clearly innocent by the way of DNA evidence, is guilty.  Something about her son being a good boy, and before I could rebut, she slapped me!”

“She slapped you?” Carlisle snickers, with wide eyes, unsympathetic to what his journalists may go through with the public.  As long as the stories in his paper remain number one, it’s all that matters and the heck with anything else!

“Yes, sir.  Right across the face!  I can still feel the sting,” He rubs his cheek.  “I want a new route.  A change of pace!”

Aiden continues shouting, determined to go a different direction.  He flings his hands and arms back and forth.  Looking out of the glass windows, some of his colleagues are peeking over their cubicles wondering what the racket is all about: perhaps wondering if Aiden was just fired.  That certainly would be big news!  Ms. Reming eyeballs him over the newspaper she’s reading, also curious as to what all the hubbub is about.

Carlisle abruptly stands with a stern glare, and strolls over to the chestnut bookshelf behind him.  Grabbing a silver picture frame off one of the shelves, he wipes the glass, with the sleeve of his white shirt, and then places it back.  He quietly sighs under his breath at the pompous, hoity-toity reporter.  Aiden lowers his voice, realizing he’s doing something his boss cannot stand. This of course, is not the first time Aiden’s been jazzed up with his emotions. Definitely not the first time he’s been slapped or cursed at either.  I hate his yelling. But, changing my best journalist from a lead crime writer to a paranormal researcher? Na.  He thinks.

Carlisle squeezes his cigar between two fingers, attempting to keep his calm demeanor.

“I’m receiving letters about the strange and paranormal.  Things people have always questioned beyond death and murder, ‘Is there life on another planet, and are there really ghosts, spirits that are not at rest?’  They…our public, our readers, are asking why I don’t write about this, sir.”

Before he can finish his plea, Carlisle prematurely shakes his head disagreeing with this new, passionate direction Aiden desires to take.  “I don’t think so, Jenson. You dig your heels into rapists and killers in jail. ‘Why fix what’s not broken’, my father used to say?”  He points his cigar at the journalist.

“And regardless the public may hate what we print, the bottom line is, they’re reading it.” Carlisle smugly utters and grins placing the stogie back in his teeth. “And the phone lines light up.  Complaints sure, but again, they’re reading.  You probably despise that small group of haters out there in that popularity of yours.”

Aiden uses that impish grin, while mulling over another way to convince his stubborn boss.

“Well…I suppose Saline Davis will succeed in grabbing these stories…I truly tried.” Aiden’s sad, passive tone carries an underlying mischievous plan as he shrugs his shoulders.  His dazzling blue eyes somewhat dwindles.

Carlisle promptly takes the cigar out of his mouth in shock, and sits up on the edge of his chair. “Davis?” Carlisle twists his lips. “The one at the Chronicle? That woman is a bull.  She’s been competing against you for years.  What does Davis have to do with all of this?”  He squints his right eye at Aiden. “Late Breaking Channel 9 News too, right?  She’ll never become a permanent news anchor the way she works.  Lies, lies, lies.  Didn’t you go to school with that woman?”

Aiden nods. “I did.  Well, sir, it’s true she has been following in my footsteps for years as you know.  Always trying to write a better article about a similar case, or tailing me on every story, with that fat tub of lard of a cameraman…and she knows,” He purposefully eggs on. “She will take whatever she knows on the air, to get the job she wants. No matter the underhanded things she does to make it happen for her.  Being a journalist for the paper, is just a means to her plan.  She can care less about readers, sir.  She only cares about one thing, being a permanent anchor. But, this right here, I’m certain she knows.”

“Knows what?  For crying out loud, Jenson, spit it out!” Carlisle pleads, and knocks a fist on the desk, his maroon tie hanging loosely from his collar.

“She knows what the public is looking for, and I’m sure she’s receiving letters too.  Do you really believe a shrewd woman like that is going to pass up an opportunity to bury me, in the dust?  Or bury this…our newspaper in the dust perhaps?” Aiden raises his voice again. He knows it’s getting under his boss’s skin.  Just a little more push and I have himAiden thinks.

He speaks with unbridled passion, knowing it will make it appear that he’s in it for the newspaper, when in fact he’s only in it for himself.

Carlisle calmly leans back into his leather chair twirling the cigar around in his fingers. Tilting back, he glances around the office chewing over what the arrogant journalist has laid on his plate.  Well, Saline Davis, if she gets her hands on something like this, we just might become number two in our little newspaper battles. I don’t think I can let that happen.  Carlisle calmly figures.  Or, Aiden may just want to leave the paper. I can’t fire him.  He’s too much of an asset regardless of the new talent walking, through these doors.

“Alright, Jenson…tell me more.”

Aiden shoots a sly grin. “Sir, I still listen to my police scanner, and there was one lead six days ago, Thursday.  Last week.  A woman said something came into her home and took her eldest son.  Kidnapped!”

Carlisle kicks his feet up on the edge of his desk clearly interested. “Oh the kidnapping I heard on the news!” Excitedly, and without notice, he bangs a fist on the desk again.  The ashtray jumps then lands akin to the sound of glass breaking. “Well that’s big news, and that’s great! That a boy, Jenson!  Did you follow up on that lead?”

“Yes, sir, but it’s quite an unusual kidnapping.  I took a little stroll to the apartment where the call came from. I uh,” Aiden gives a proud chuckle. “Convinced a police officer outside to speak with me.  They weren’t allowing anyone in that building.  Now, he said the doors were bolted and the chain was locked from the inside.  They had to break it down.  The woman claims some creature took her eldest child.  Now that’s news!  Imagine the headlines,” He holds both palms up imagining a billboard in the sky, bringing his boss on the wild ride of his imagination. “And we would be the only paper in this city…a city full of millions of readers, who possesses the story.  Not even Saline can get her filthy, little, conniving hands on this one!”  His enthusiasm causes Carlisle to sneer thinking of all the sales. “Sir, give me a shot writing this. Give me four weeks.” He holds up four fingers. “If you don’t have a kick butt story, and I mean kick butt, then I’ll hang my head, raise the white flag, and peacefully return to writing about convicts. You have my word on that.  My word is my bond.  You know that.”

Carlisle huffs. “So, you’ll be prepared to go back to one thing you now detest, huh? The one thing that’s made a name for you in this foul talking city?” He tests him with one eye squinting.

Aiden nods. “I will, sir.”

Carlisle insensitively blows circles of smoke into the air while oddly grinning. The smoke permeates strangely releasing that calming effect for the overworked boss.

“Those police officers always talk. They say they can’t disclose anything but most of them sing like a canary,” Carlisle arrogantly raises his brow and boastfully whistles in a sarcastic bird-tone. “Are they still keeping people from the building?”

Aiden shakes his head no. “They sent all units home today, sir. It’s an open sepulcher over there.”

“Heard that on your scanner too, didn’t you?”

Aiden fires that all-American grin again. Carlisle snickers.

“Alright, Jenson. You’ve got your shot.” Aiden sits up straight. “But just four weeks!  It would be sincerely foolish not to allow my best journalist to follow his hunches, which has made himself,” he clears his throat, “and this newspaper number one.  So, Jenson, you’ve got it!  Now, I want something good.  If this is a paranormal instance you want to capture, I don’t want just strange where this woman who lost her kid needs to be institutionalized. They rarely spoke of the details on the news, now that I recall.  And I want that Davis person, well, you just grab the bull by the horns. Understand?  And I swear, Jenson, if you screw this up, it’s back to convicts, crank calls, curses and slaps!  Now get out of here, Jenson, and get to work!” He rants.

Aiden gets up, shakes his boss’s hand and strolls towards the office door. Smiling, he’s pleased his manipulation and bull crap has convinced his boss to change his obstinate mind.

“Uh, just one more thing, Jenson?” Aiden turns around and faces Carlisle. “Did you follow up on the woman? Was she institutionalized for all of this, and does she have other children?”

“Sir, from what the officer said, she has four children and now three. He explained the detective on the case didn’t think her rambling warranted a call to the psychiatric facility. They’re exhausting all leads including an absent father. There was uh, some strange things found in her apartment that made the story, to me, seem all the more horrifying and believable.”

The phone rings, Carlisle curses lewdly snatching up the phone. “This is Carlisle! What do you want that couldn’t wait till I was out of a meeting?” He waves with his hand, motioning for Aiden to leave his office.

“I was just going to call you. What’s going on?” Carlisle gruffly speaks with the stogie hanging out the side of his mouth, holding it in between his back teeth. Covering the telephone, he yells one last repeated order.

“Jenson, remember just four weeks!” He places the phone back up to his ear and raves on. “Well, you better print it by tomorrow or you’re fired!”

Imitating a gun with his fingers, Aiden points at Carlisle to let him know he understands the directions and all that’s on the line for him and the newspaper. Carlisle may keep his word, and force Aiden to continue writing about convicts if this doesn’t pan out, but Aiden knows better. He is certain he’d be fired first.

Elise peeks around the newspaper beaming at Aiden again, longing for him to take just one look in her direction.  Just one simple glance to let her know he knows she’s alive.  Perhaps a smile?  It would surely make her day.

“Bye, Ms. Reming.” Aiden strolls off with long strides swiftly thinking only of the case at hand, and ways to get the story.

She raises her brows watching him pay careful attention to his job and surely not for the unattractive Elise.  Does he even know how rude he’s being? I’m sure he’s just got a lot on his mind, Elise. Just hang in there.  She reasons to herself.

Elise sighs sinking into her chair and frowns as he leaves. She rolls her eyes and plants her nose back into the newspaper. Others in the office, carrying stacks of papers and files, gape at Elise. They jeer and ridicule another hideous dress she has worn to work. They appear stylish and up to date in fashion.  Of course, they think they’re much better than Elise who by her wardrobe, and drab exterior, is an easy target for humiliation even though she’s a terrific secretary.

Elise stands to her feet. Yawning and stretching her arms overhead, she arches her back then places her headset on the desk. She heads into the employee lounge for a cup of coffee to awaken her senses.

One of the mockers puckishly strolls behind Elise carrying something small, within her grip. She’s beautiful styling a light grey, pin striped skirt-suit.  Her delicate blonde hair is pinned up away from her face, bringing focus to her lovely blue eyes.  Every hair is perfectly positioned with Bobby pins.  She has a well-known reputation as the office flirt, dating a list of men and discarding one when another comes along.  She is also known as an average writer, sneaking by solely by her looks, and salacious charms-definitely not by her talent.

Elise pours a cup of hot coffee when she hears heels clacking on the tiled floor, as the office woman approaches. Others quietly sit around some of the oval tables reading, texting and on their cell phones with business calls while on break. They pay little attention to the “plain Jane” woman.

The office woman scans the break room making sure no one is watching. Slyly, she removes the small sugar packets and quickly begins pouring herself a cup of coffee.  She politely clears her throat.

“Hi, Elise. Nice to see you today.”

Elise is somewhat surprised by the welcome of this woman who has never spoken to her before today.  She shyly lifts her eyes at the woman who is grinning in a warm yet calculating manner.  Elise isn’t accustomed to make heads or tails of the woman. Is this perhaps her friendly demeanor?  Normally, she teases her.  Perhaps those days are over.  Is this the beginning of a conversation that will help Elise be accepted and finally have a friend? She’s hopeful.

“Hi, Heather. N-Nice to see you today too.”

Why is she talking to me?  She’s never spoken to me before.  Elise ponders.  “Uh oh,” Elise searches all around the counter. “I guess we’re out of sugar. Oh well, black it is today.”

“Well here, Elise. I have a packet of sugar left. Why don’t you have it? I opened it because I thought I needed it. But, I think my coffee is sweet enough. Go ahead! You take it.”  Heather craftily opens her hand, revealing the opened sugar packet.

“Thank you, Heather,” Elise takes the packet without a thought or concern.

“Have a nice day, Elise.”

“Uh, you too, Heather,” Elise instantly warms at the pleasantries.

Heather smirks at the side of her face as she leaves the lounge, happily sipping her hot coffee.  She purposefully swings her hips from side to side, catching the eye of on looking men.

Elise pours the packet into her coffee slowly, stirring the spoon against the rim.  She heads to her desk, places her headset back on, and plops down. Blowing the steam rising at the top of her coffee, she slurps a sip, but something is terribly wrong. She holds the coffee in her mouth utterly appalled. It is bitter and flat making her sick. She looks to the garbage can, but it’s full. She can’t hold it in anymore. She sprays the coffee all over her desk. Tears gather when she realizes, she soiled the top of important papers she has just finished preparing for Carlisle.  Now, she will have to copy the documents all over again.  Inspecting the leftover granules, on the rim of her cup, she can clearly see it’s not sugar. It’s salt.

Confusion hits as to why the coffee is so awful.  Sounds of laughter ring from down the hall. Elise scoots forward, in her chair, and notices Heather with another office woman chortling like chipmunks, at her expense, from the horrible prank they’ve played.

Elise scurries off into the ladies room in her beige pumps, crying and hiding in one of the stalls.  She doesn’t understand why the women enjoy being so cruel to her.  She stands on top of the toilet seat so she won’t be seen.  Weeping into the palm of her hands she wonders, Why are they at me like this? What have I ever done to them?

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Thank you for reading! You can find this novel and others at http://www.amazon.com/author/aimeebejarano

 

Follow along for new author interviews coming soon!

New Interview With the Fantastic Traci Sanders!

I am thrilled to have with us again, the lovely and talented Traci Sanders. Traci Sanders is a multi-genre, multi-award-winning author of ten published titles, with contributions to three anthologies. An avid blogger and supporter of Indie authors, she writes parenting, children’s, romance, and nonfiction guides.

Her ultimate goal is to provide great stories and quality content for dedicated readers, whether through her own writing or editing works by other authors.

Today, we’ll be talking about her newest novels which aids the author in the editing process. But! Are also encouraging and helpful to the aspiring author.

Traci, we’re so glad you’re here again. There’s a lot of questions I’d like to ask you, so let’s get started!

1. There is so much to know and learn about editing. How long did it take you to write these novels regarding editing?
This entire book series is based on a year-long blog segment where I offered tips on all aspects of the writing and publishing industry. So, you could say it took me a year to conduct the research and write these books. 😊

2. How important is it for writers to get that editor?
Professional editing is a crucial aspect of producing a high quality book. I would even say it’s more important than formatting or cover design, in some cases. Many readers judge a book by its cover, but some just want what’s inside.

3. What are some mistakes editors make?
It’s important to realize that NO editor is perfect. They all miss things, usually small things like an extra space, or a common word like “quite” being mistaken for “quiet”. That’s one of my faux pas, anyway. As humans, we are fallible and we miss common things that we’re used to hearing all the time. Our brains don’t always register the difference when we’re reading or editing. That’s why it’s crucial that you, as the author, read over your editor’s comments carefully, and be proactive. Try to catch anything he or she misses. You both have the same goal in mind: to produce the best story possible. As long as you learn something, you’re always becoming better at your craft.

4. What awards have you won?
My romance novella Unsevered won Best Second Chance Romance from Bottles and Books Readers’ Favorite Awards and Bronze from eLit Awards. My debut novella When Darkness Breaks won Best Romance Novella from Bottles and Book Readers’ Favorite Awards. They were both nominated for other awards, but didn’t place. I haven’t taken the time to enter any of my other titles in competitions.

5. Tell us if you can, how can an author identify a true writing contest among the false, on the internet?
First, it’s important to know that writing contests and award contests cost money. There is always a fee.
In my opinion, the ones that are quality are those such as Readers’ Favorite and local awards’ programs and contests, especially the ones that offer true feedback on your stories, not just prizes.

6. Okay, since you are an author and an editor, I’ve always wondered, do you edit in your mind while reading a book?
Oh my gosh, yes! And it’s a blessing and a curse. Every book I read, I want to send the author a note to let them know what tiny errors I found in their books, not to insult them or make them feel bad, but because I would want to know about my errors. I want my work to be as close to perfect as possible. Most authors appreciate that I do this. Now that I’ve learned all the editing tricks that I’ve acquired so far, I find it extremely difficult to take off my editor hat and simply enjoy a story. Like I said, a blessing and a curse.

7. Is it a desire to see writers succeed and improve in their craft?
I’ve been a people pleaser, and an advocate for the underdog, for my entire life. So, yes, I’m always willing to help others succeed, even to the detriment of my own success. It’s just the way I was raised. It brings me great joy to help others.

8. In your opinion, what percentage of writers can actually edit their own work?
Most writers can PRE-edit their work, and should, but every author is usually too close to his or her own work to edit objectively. An extra set of “trained” eyes always makes a difference. I even hire professional editors for my books.

9. As an editor, what do you typically notice a writer has problems with? i.e. Spelling, tense, dialogue, sentence structure…
The biggest two issues I see involve tense change and sentence structure. Spelling and grammar issues are easy to fix, and most experienced writers have learned the basic grammar rules. But, things like hanging modifiers and overwriting are not as easy to recognize for some.

10. How many novels do you typically edit within a month?
I just started editing full-time this year, but I’d say I can get at least three edits done per month.

11. Will we be seeing another editing book collection in the future?
Probably not. I covered a plethora of topics in this series, that go above and beyond what most will find on their own, without searching a multitude of sources, which is quite time consuming. Unless the grammar rules change dramatically, this is THE go-to set that every author can use to improve his or her writing dramatically.

12. What education have you had to aid in your editing?
I’m self-taught, but I’ve trained under some extremely talented editors, who’ve shown me the ropes. Plus, I’ve always had a firm grasp on grammar and a love of word play, so this feels like a natural progression in my career.

13. If someone has a desire to edit, what sort of tips can you relay to them?
Read, read, read. Books, blog posts, and tutorial guides. Learn the mechanics of writing, then practice them. Do reworks of your own writing. Pay attention to pauses in writing and structure of dialogue.

14. In your book, “Beyond the Book”, what are a few marketing details readers can expect to learn?
Oh my goodness. There aren’t a few. It’s over 300 pages of out-of-the-box ideas for marketing your books, networking with other authors to build your brand, and tips on producing high quality books. It’s truly a great resource. Even I refer back to my tips!

15. “Before You Publish” is a wonderful tool-since I’ve read about half of it- I see it’s a great aid for those who are aspiring authors. What are a few tips readers may learn in this helpful book?
This is more of a “let me look this up” type of reference book, rather than a “read cover to cover” title. I incorporate a ton of grammar topics – common spelling errors and word-usage errors, and even creative-writing tips. Basically, this book covers all aspects of the writing portion of publishing.

16. In “Living the Write Life”, what are a few tips authors can learn from this book?
Even though this is my shortest book, I’m probably most proud of this one because it’s a guide for life as an author. It includes answers and suggestions for things like: how to be inspired to write, 7 stretches for writers, and how to respond to the dreaded question – “How much do you make with your books?”

17. I love to play a fun game on my blog so readers and fellow authors can learn more about you, and what sorts of things you enjoy and love. So, let’s begin! Writing or editing??
Writing is more fun, for sure. But, editing makes me feel more accomplished.

18. Coffee or espresso?
Coffee

19. Reading in the morning, afternoon or evening?
Evening

20. Playing with your kids, or taking a nap?-no we won’t hold it against you if you pick a nap! HA!
I don’t take naps.

21. Beta reading or editing?
Editing

22. Writing or marketing?
Writing

23. Lake or the ocean?
Ocean

24. Swimming or sun bathing?
Sun bathing

25. Thunderstorms or snow storm?
Thunderstorms

26. Spring or summer?
Spring. I hate sweating.

27. Texting or talking on the phone?
Texting, unless I have a good bit of time to spare. I do love hearing people’s voices.

28. What’s your favorite color?
Purple

29. What is your favorite comfort food?
Strawberry short cake, which isn’t easy to find around here, so if I want it, I have to make it. My mama used to make me one every year on my birthday.

30. Chocolate or white chocolate?
Chocolate

31. How many kids do you have?

Three – 19, 17, and 11

32. Tell your readers one of the funniest things your kids have done?
Wasn’t funny at the time, but, my boys painted my entire house with chocolate syrup while I was working at home one day. They were two and four … and hungry, apparently. This story actually turned into a children’s book for me.

33. I’m excited to hear of your blog tour and we wish you only the best. Give us the details of where you will be heading so readers may join you and snatch one or ALL of these books?
You can always check my blog http://www.awordwithtraci.com. I’ll be announcing each stop there each day.

34. Where can we find a list of all of your novels, including these three “new” releases-which I’m dying to own in paperback?
My Amazon page:
https://www.amazon.com/Traci-M.-Sanders/e/B00BA9VUUY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1490804598&sr=8-1

35. Is there anything you’d love to relay to your readers, before we say goodbye?
My ultimate advice would be DON’T SETTLE FOR STATUS QUO. Sure, you can produce a so-so book and maybe get a few 3-4-star reviews, OR, you can take the time learn the rules of grammar and mechanics, and produce an outstanding story that readers won’t be able to forget.

Even though I wrote short romance novellas, and some of the reviews from my readers mentioned that fact, NONE of them really said they felt cheated, because I offered a compelling story. You won’t be remembered for your book’s page count, but you will be remembered for the emotions you brought about for that reader who “needed” that book at that very moment, even if this person didn’t know it.

This has been a fun and one of the most helpful interviews I’ve had. I’m so thankful you stopped by Traci! I and everyone else congratulate you on these new releases and I’m so grateful you’ve written them. I’ll be purchasing all in paperback!

Guys, this has been another AMAZING interview with a wonderful and talented author. Stay tuned for more interviews and give this blog a follow to stay connected.

This Week We Have the Wonderful Author/Illustrator Victoria Woten!

Victoria

I’m so blessed this week we have author/illustrator Victoria Woten with us for our author interview!

Victoria, or Aunty as I call her lol, I’m so glad I finally am able to interview you. You have published your first children’s book and I’ve got so many fun and exciting questions for you, so let’s get started!

What made you want to be a writer?

I never thought about it at first. Sometimes I would journal or write little songs or snippets for personal use. I wrote a little piece on housekeeping and baking and another on some Bible verses, all unpublished. Then I decided to give it a try.

What genre’s do you write or delve into?

Currently for children but, possibly adults.

Tell us about your children’s book and how it’s available. (Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, paperback etc.)
Mrs. Wonderland is the main character. She comes down from Heaven to help children, spreading love and happiness, and making dreams come true. She loves children. She’s a bit like a fairy godmother, nanny, angel all rolled in one. I also add my own recipe in every book. The first recipe is Mrs. Wonderland’s Chocolate Fudge Delights.

My book is available at Amazon Kindle and paperback, bookstores, and online retailers.

How important is it to read books when you want to be an author and then become an author?

Reading is so good for you! Of course it’s educational. Reading opens your mind and unlocks the keys to creativity and imagination.

What made you want to write stories for kids?

I enjoyed making up stories to tell my granddaughter when she was young.

What message do you want to send to the children who read your book?

I want to show good character traits. I wish to inspire children to love one another, always have hope, believe in themselves and build confidence, to show kindness, sharing, friendship, and beauty within. I also want to show them God’s love without telling them so that anyone may read it.

How long did it take you to illustrate your book?

6-9 months working daily in my spare time.

Where did the inspiration for Mrs. Wonderland, the actual character, come from?

Through prayer and meditation she came to me one day. Her lovely world opened up in my imagination and from there I could see her in many examples and stories. Later I told a bedtime story to my granddaughter then wrote it down. I kept it and pondered for a long time until I decided to try writing a book. This is the first of the series.

Which part of the publishing process do you detest most?

The publishing process is exciting but very stressful, meeting the time table and everything coming together how you would like.

Tell us how the atmosphere needs to be for you to be able to write. Example, music on or quiet etc.

Quiet at home or driving.

Do you need special treats or goodies to help you write?

A cup of tea or coffee is nice

What is the worst thing you’ve had to overcome before publishing your novel?

Fear of rejection. When you write and illustrate, it feels very personal coming from your heart.

When you need some extra encouragement who do you turn to?

Family, God, friends.

How do you market your book?

Online through Amazon and a Face Book Page, plus word of mouth.

Who do you trust to read your finished books before publication?

Family and friends

Tell us all about your very first book signing. Take us there with your description of people, place, food, décor etc.

Very small, mostly just family.

What sorts of things do you enjoy when Victoria isn’t writing?

My favorite hobby is porcelain doll making. I enjoy making up characters and stories and design their costumes. I also like baking and spending time with family, friends, and God/Bible study.

Tell your readers what your favorite food and color is. I know this may seem silly but allow your readers to know more about you.

Chocolate and I like a rainbow of colors

What was your favorite children’s book growing up?

My favorite book was a fairy tale book my mom use to read to us.

Now a fun game I’ll ask what your preference. Let your readers know what you enjoy.

Peanut M & M’s or Plain M & M’s?

Both

Christmas or Thanksgiving?

Christmas

Spring, Summer, or Winter?

Winter and spring

Spaghettios or Raviolis?

Raviolis

Romance movie or Disney movie?

Disney

Zoo or a Theme Park?

Disneyland

Morning, Afternoon or Night?

Morning and night

Kool-aid or Gatoraide?

neither

Coke or Pepsi?

neither

Is there any mistakes you made with your first book?

I made plenty of mistakes. My book was too long and a bit boring especially for younger children. My illustrations were all hand drawn but I should of used digital help to make them more professional looking.

What kind of advice can you give to other either aspiring authors or published authors?

Never give up. Always have hope. Follow your heart and your dreams. If you want to do something then keep persevering even if you don’t think you are good at it. It’s very hard to accomplish good things in life and, you will probably fail a few times but, the end results will be worth the fight to get there and the rewards so great!

When in doubt, who helps you out?

Family

When is the release of your next novel? Name genre or if it’s part of a series. If your book is part of a series tell the readers about the others that are out for sale.

I am working on a second book in the Mrs. Wonderland series which I hope to finish for Christmas.

Where can we find your author page of your work to follow you and purchase your awesome book?

http://www.amazon.com/Victoria-Woten/e/B016PNCLQ6/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

https://www.facebook.com/victoria.woten.mrswonderland/

Mrs. Wonderland Cover (Updated Drawing-ol)
Thanks so much for joining us this week, Victoria I mean Aunty lol. Everyone, you must grab a copy of Mrs. Wonderland. If you have children that love dolls, you can see the unique drawings of where her inspiration derives. They will positively love this little character. And I don’t know about you, but I’m eager to see the next installment of Mrs. Wonderland in December. But you don’t have to wait for the first one! Grab it now and follow Victoria Woten to get updates on her upcoming children’s books. We wish her blessings.

Everyone, so glad you joined us as well this week. Please follow this blog for next week’s author interview! You never know who will surprise us!

Welcome Author Erika M. Szabo

ErikaMSzabo

Welcome the beautiful and talented author in the spotlight this week, Author Erika M. Szabo! Hooray! If you haven’t heard the name then you are missing out on this wonderful author! Erika thanks for interviewing here. Let’s get to the knitty-gritty lol.

Thank you for having me on your blog. I had fun answering your questions, I hope your readers will enjoy reading your interview.

What genre’s do you write or delve into?

I write children’s book, magical realism, fantasy novels and educational books related to Alternative Medicine.

Tell us about your children’s book and if how it’s available. (Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, paperback etc.)

You can find the links on my website page: http://www.authorerikamszabo.com/childrens-books.html

How important is it to read books when you want to be an author and then become an author?

Nothing makes a better writer than reading

What made you want to write stories for kids?

Readers kept telling me that I have a talent of “showing” and not “telling” when they read my fantasy series. Telling a story and especially preaching the moral of the story is a huge turnoff for kids. They like to learn the morals and they get the message through the character they like and they can relate to.

What impact are you hoping the children will have by reading your book?

The main message in my children’s book is acceptance and respect, and that bullying smaller, weaker people is unacceptable.

Which part of the publishing process do you detest most?

Writing the synopsis for my books. I find it close to impossible to put a 300 page story into 300 words.

Tell us how the atmosphere needs to be for you to be able to write. Example, music on or quiet etc.

Nothing special, I can tune out any noise or distraction easily, and I can write anywhere.

Do you need special treats or goodies to help you write?

Chocolate. Definitely chocolate. A bowl of chocolate ice cream gives my brain a better boost than any other food.

Which do you prefer the most, traditional or self-publishing and why?

I prefer self-publishing because I like to be in full control of my books. I tried a traditional publisher with my first book and I broke the contract because I felt like I was kept in the dark and I had no control over how the book was edited, formatted, and how it looked. For example, they gave me only two book cover choices. Needless to say, I didn’t like either, but they refused to change it. When I do the publishing from start to finish, it gives me a lot of freedom.

What inspired you to write this children’s book in Spanish and English?

Although I don’t speak Spanish, I have many Spanish speaking friends. I always loved their dynamic, expressive, and melodious language, and I wanted to show the beauty of the Spanish language to English speaking children. My goal was to put together a fun story and write one page in English and the opposite page in Spanish, so kids could compare the words and sentences. When I was working on the books with Carmen, I learned a lot of Spanish words and phrases, too. I’m not even close to understanding or speaking Spanish, but now, instead of understanding every hundredth words when I hear Spanish, I can understand every fiftieth word.

Who translated the book for you?

Carmen G. Monterde

Who is the first person who reads your finished manuscripts?

My editor

What sorts of things do you enjoy when Erika isn’t writing?

Reading and hiking.

Tell your readers what your favorite food and color is. I know this may seem silly but allow your readers to know more about you.

My favorite food is stuffed cabbage Hungarian style, and my favorite color is teal blue.

What was your favorite children’s book growing up?

Spiffy Goose Gedeon by a Hungarian author, Magda Szabo (no relation)

Now a fun game I’ll ask what your preference. Let your readers know what you enjoy.

Peas or pea soup?

Peas to hunt down with a fork one by one (the child in me still likes to pay with her food)

Chocolate milk or strawberry milk?

Chocolate, definitely chocolate!

Crayons or markers?

Crayons

Cats or dogs?

I love them both. I love cats for their independent, stubborn nature, and I love dogs for their loyalty and ability
to love unconditionally.

Nap time or play time?

Very hard to choose. Can I have a little of both?

Lunchable or a sandwich?

Sandwich

Freeze tag or swings?

Swings

Preschool-1st grade OR 2nd grade- 4th grade?

4th grade. I like to have conversations with children, I don’t do baby talk

What are some mistakes you see children’s book author’s make?

They preach instead of show and engage

Were there any mistakes you made with your first book?

Oh, yes. Many, but my friend’s ten-year-old straightened me out. She read a few sentences and asked, “What were you thinking? Kids don’t say that, only old people do.” What she meant was, old people like sixteen-year-old people talk like the way I wrote it.

What kind of advice can you give to other either aspiring authors or published authors?

Keep writing

When in doubt, who helps you out?

I stopped asking advice a long time ago because I always get 50-50 answers, it never seem to fail. When I’m in doubt, I put the project aside for a few days and let it develop in my mind before I go back and continue.

When is the release of your next novel? Name genre or if it’s part of a series. If your book is part of a series tell the readers about the others that are out for sale.

My next children’s book will be the second book of the BFF adventures series, coming in August.
I’m also working on a mystery/suspense story, it is about half way done.

Where can we find your author page of your work to follow you and purchase your awesome book?
Website:
http://www.authorerikamszabo.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html
AMAZON
http://www.amazon.com/Erika-M-Szabo/e/B004S0OV12/
TWITTER:
https://twitter.com/ErikaMSzabo
Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/Erika.M.Szabo.ND.Author/

I’m so thankful you could stop in this week and share with us. I can say I’ve certainly learned a lot and giggled a few times through this interview. We have to do this again! Everyone, follow along for next week’s author in the spotlight AND follow Erika and check out her wonderful novels and children’s books. Get one of her books with away! Learn more about Pico the silly parrot! Any child would love it!

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