Friday, March 30, 2012

Chapter 2--Ghost Betweens

Click to read Chapter One

Chapter 2

Josh opened the front door and flung his backpack to the foot of the stairs. Mom would have bitched him out for that, but she'd be at work until eight. He needed to check out those photos, but since he was down here, he might as well see what was for dinner. He wasn't a great cook, but could heat up a mean meal in the microwave, if he did say so himself.

The pantry proved practically bare. There were some possibilities, but nothing exciting. Same with the fridge and freezer. Damn! Sometimes Mom left some money for grocery shopping, but not today. He thought about his wallet, but besides a few fast food receipts, it was empty. No Taco Town runs tonight. He grabbed a pen and paper and scrawled a quick note to Mom about the lack of groceries.

He stomped off to his room, leaving the backpack where it landed. He didn't want to think about homework. He usually took a crappy dinner in stride, but tonight the creepy feelings from the farm lingered. Hopefully the pictures would clear that up by proving nothing was there except his and Zach's overactive imaginations.

After booting up his computer and plugging in his phone, Josh opened the photo program. The images on the first few didn't hold much more detail than he'd seen on the small screen. Just an indistinguishable blob of something. It could have been a malfunction in the flash, a piece of dust on the lens, or maybe even a bug. If that was all the pictures picked up, he had nothing to worry about. His skepticism would live.

The next few pictures showed more of the same, but something was different. He couldn't pinpoint it. A little ball of dread lay in the pit of his stomach. Was the blob vaguely human shaped? Was that a face? He shook his head and glanced away from the monitor. No, he was being paranoid and silly again, just like at the farm. Good thing he was alone; Zach would have him convinced there were ghosts in every pixel.

The next bunch of snaps did little to extinguish the feeling in his gut. That wasn't a smudgy blob, but an honest to goodness face. His eyes were playing tricks on him, right? Each subsequent picture clearly showed a person--a see-through person, but a person nonetheless. No, this was too weird. Just a trick of the light. But it wasn't, even if he couldn't admit it. He cycled through the pictures, seeing strange figures in each, until he reached the last two, those of the barn. As soon as they were on screen, he gasped and turned the program off. It took all his willpower not to grab his phone and hurl it into the wall.

Though the final two images were no longer on the monitor, he couldn't get them out of his head. The first one had an old farmer, just as Zach had said, peering out from the top window. He was in the second photo, too, but this time a headless figure, just like he thought he saw when they had turned to run, stood in the shadows of the barn doorway. He shuddered and powered off the computer, as if the ghosts in the pictures would somehow haunt him if left running. He'd check his email and all that later.

He thought about calling Zach to see what he'd caught, but decided he didn't care to discuss it today. By tomorrow it'd all seem like a dream. He'd look again and see his imagination had gotten the best of him. He was sure Zach would think they hit the supernatural goldmine, but his pictures would be the same as Josh's. Yeah. The morning would cure everything. He took a deep breath and headed downstairs for an uninspired dinner.

Click to read Chapter Three

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Description for Ghost Betweens

This will be the description for Ghost Betweens when it goes to market. Let me know what you think!

The spooky farm in the middle of suburban Citrus Valley has long been rumored to be haunted. After taking pictures in the abandoned fields, Josh Hart and his buddy, Zach, find the stories to be true. They want to learn more, and are joined in their quest by Zach's girlfriend, Kendra, and the new girl in school, Whisper Douglas. Josh and Whisper find they're not only drawn to each other, but they also have superpowers when it comes to the supernatural. Their history teacher proves to have an unusual knowledge of their powers, and guides them to better utilize their newfound talents. And they need all the help they can get when Zach and Kendra are possessed by a powerful demon at the farm, who plans to use the teens to escape her prison and take over the world. Now Josh and Whisper, the newest Ghost Betweens, not only need to save their friends, but the entire planet, as well.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cover for Ghost Betweens

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Ghost Betweens Hub

Ghost Betweens is now available for purchase.

Click here to get the ebook for the Kindle

Click here to get it in paperback at Amazon

Click here to get it in paperback at CreateSpace

Click here to read an interview with me about Ghost Betweens and writing

If you'd lie to view a sample of the first ten chapters, they are presented below for your enjoyment. I hope you enjoy what you read, and by the time you get to chapter 10, I hope you'll want to buy a copy of the book for yourself. Feel free to share this link with your friends (real life and/or social media friends).

Large cover image of Ghost Betweens:
Cover Image

Link to the description of Ghost Betweens:

Links to the sample chapters:
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six Part One
Chapter Six Part Two
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight Part One
Chapter Eight Part Two
Chapter Nine Part One
Chapter Nine Part Two
Chapter Ten

If you'd rather read all ten chapters at once, here they are. If you'd like to download them for your ereader of choice, there is a download button at the bottom of the document, or you can follow this link: Click to get to the download screen

1st 10 Chapters

Chapter 1--Ghost Betweens

Chapter 1

Josh put the car in park and set the emergency brake. Not that it would roll anywhere, but it was a good habit to get into. His mom had drilled that into his head the moment she started giving him driving lessons last year.

"Did you see the sign?" Zach asked as they stepped out onto the deserted driveway of the abandoned farm.

"Yeah, who do you think changes it? There's nobody here."

"I don't know, dude. But 'Welcome, picture enthusiasts?' That's creepy. It's like they knew we were coming with our cell phone cameras."

Josh nodded. This place was weird. Just a few steps away from the main road and it looked as if they were in the middle of nowhere. You never would guess this was Citrus Valley, the heart of suburbia, population: too many. Heck, a few blocks down the street stood a huge shopping center with stores that catered to anything anyone could ever want. And all around, though not visible from here, were miles of houses filled with yuppie families who commuted to the major cities all around Orange County and Los Angeles.

"What do you make of it?" Zach asked.

"The sign? I don't know. Maybe there was a photography club here last weekend."

"No, the farm. Pretty creepy, huh? Maybe it really is haunted."

Josh nodded. Not at the haunted part--ghosts didn't exist--but at the creepy feelings. His neighbor, Mr. Brisco, had lived in Citrus Valley for thirty years, and he said this place had been abandoned even before he moved here. How could it look so clean? There was no litter, no graffiti, nor any other sort of vandalism. This would seem to be a primo party spot, but he never heard about any. Not that he and Zach ever went to parties, but the guys on the football team would have mentioned something. Maybe there was a private security force that chased people away. Or maybe the ghost stories did the job.

Zach rounded the corner to the main field first. "Whoa, it's like another world back here."

Josh caught up and gasped. It seemed like it went on forever. How had the city or whoever owned it not sold off this land? It had to be worth a fortune.

Zach had the same thought. "They could turn this into a football stadium and have plenty of room for parking."

They stared out at the dusty pastures filled with overgrown weeds. Dead trees, which he guessed once bore fruit, lined the various fields, though thriving giants ran the perimeter, keeping the property more private than any man-made wall could. Out in the middle of everything stood a decrepit red barn. Josh didn't know why, but he wanted nothing to do with that.

Zach motioned to the buildings that looked like old farmhouses Josh had seen in history books. "Do you suppose it's the house that's haunted?"

"I don't know. The whole place feels weird."

"I'm not getting that. I did at first when we couldn't see anything, but now it just looks ancient and empty." Zach chuckled. "I'm disappointed."

Something flashed in the corner of Josh's vision. He turned, but found nothing. "Maybe we should leave."

"What are you talking about?" Zach pulled out his phone. "We came to take some pictures, so let's do it. Remember, the ghost book says that sometimes we can't see the ghosts, but cameras can." Zach had found a ghost hunting book in the school library last week. He read it cover to cover in a couple of days, much quicker than he normally read anything. That was why they were here now.

"Okay. Let's get this over with." Josh pulled out his own phone.

Two flickers of light flashed to Josh's left, but he again didn't see any reason for them. "You didn't see that?" he asked Zach. "Out of the corner of your eye?"

"And here I thought you didn't believe in ghosts," Zach said with a snicker.

"I don't," Josh said with more conviction than he felt. "But maybe there are people around who could make trouble for us."

"You're being paranoid, dude. We're all alone."

They wandered into the closest field, and Zach clicked off a few shots. Josh followed suit. They reviewed each picture, but didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Zach readied his phone for more, while Josh erased his pictures. The book suggested they view their digital photos on a bigger screen, but while Zach's phone could hold hundreds of pictures, Josh's only had enough memory for a couple dozen. So as much as they wanted to keep them all, they decided earlier that Josh should erase any that looked ordinary.

The two took turns snapping pictures, and scrutinized each together. Though they got nothing in their first batch, Josh felt the air grew heavy. He could swear there was energy flickering through the air. He asked Zach about it, and was answered with a laugh and something that sounded like "scared."

They continued deeper into the farm towards the barn. Josh continued seeing flecks of light that danced just out of view. He didn't mention these.

"Wait, dude, look at this." Zach stopped and showed Josh his phone. A blurry ball of light floated in the bottom left of the screen. "What is it?"

Josh frowned and looked closer. With the tiny screen, it was hard to make out any sort of detail. It looked like a small ball of energy. "I don't know. Save that one so you can look at it on your computer later."

"Yeah. Make sure you're taking pictures, too, dude."

Josh nodded and snapped a couple. Both held exactly the same sort of thing as Zach's. They marveled at the screen, not sure what to make of it. If the camera was malfunctioning, why didn't any of the prior pictures have those anomalies? Neither had noticed any bugs flying around, and though there was plenty of dirt on the ground, the air didn't feel gritty. Josh remembered visiting a working farm on a field trip when he was in sixth grade. The thing that still stuck out most was the dust that got everywhere. He could still taste the dirty air if he thought hard enough.

They continued towards the red barn in the middle of the fields, but Josh only went because of Zach. Given a choice, he'd have dashed back to his car. The air felt dense out here, both to breathe and move through. He even passed through a few cold spots that reminded him of winter trips up to Big Bear Mountain. And as if those occurrences weren't strange enough, a low light kept flashing in the corner of his eye where he couldn't get a good look. The strange balls showed up in more and more pictures, though they were never there when the picture was snapped.

"Look at this one." Zach held his phone up for Josh to see. "Do you see it?"

A ghostly arm protruded out of a ball of light. That wasn't just some weird anomaly; that was really there. "This is getting spooky."

Zach nodded and smiled. "Yeah. And awesome. Dude, you can't say you don't believe in ghosts now."

Josh weighed the words for his reply, but before he had an answer, a shrill scream sounded from the barn. It had to be some sort of bird or animal, right? This wasn't happening.

They took more pictures, no longer checking the screen before taking the next. Zach charged ahead to the barn but pulled up short. He turned to Josh, his face pale.

"Did you see that? Someone's up there." He pointed up to one of the second story windows.

Josh scanned the barn, and the air swirled around inside of it, like colored mist and lasers. "Do you see those lights?"

"Lights? No, looks pretty dark in there. I saw a farmer. Or at least a guy who looked like a farmer. He was only there for half a second."

Josh snapped a few more pictures until his phone couldn't hold any more. He didn't bother to check them. There'd be plenty of time to do so at home. Besides, with his phone's memory full, maybe he could persuade Zach to leave. This whole place was a creep factory. Before he could announce that he couldn't take any more pictures, ear-piercing screams erupted from the barn. No way those came from an animal.

The boys both jumped, spun, and raced towards the car. Josh could have sworn he saw a headless figure wander out the barn door. Now he wished he still had some memory left in his phone.

As they reached the car, Josh gasped for breath, and it sounded like Zach was having a fit. A quick glance over showed him laughing. "That was intense. You have to admit it. After we see the pictures, even you'll believe in ghosts."

"Something weird is happening out there, that's for sure." He couldn't bring himself say more than that. Now that they were away from the fields, he'd have to see hard evidence on his computer monitor. Maybe they'd shared a hallucination. After all, it seemed like they both saw weird things, but not the same weird things. It could be the stories freaking them out.

Zach rattled the car door handle. "Hurry up and unlock the car, dude. I want to get home and check these out. Something's there and I want to know what."

Click to read Chapter Two

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Writing Prompt #98

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm labeling it as science fiction, but, as always, take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

If a top-secret government computer is shut down, the entire universe is shut down.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lucky Seven--Ghost Betweens

There's a blog hop meme going around on Facebook called Lucky Seven, and Helen Howell tagged me to contribute. It looks like fun, so who am I to say no? Anyway, here are the rules:

1. Go to page 77 in your current manuscript
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next seven lines as they are – no cheating
4. Tag 7 other authors (Done on Facebook)

Here is my Lucky Seven, from my soon to be released YA Paranormal, Ghost Betweens. Enjoy!

Having Whisper all to himself at lunch, though, helped ease the pain. After they finished eating, she even snuggled up against him a bit as they talked. It would have taken a lot to wipe the smile off of his face at that moment. What made it better was that he could swear he saw envious glances from some of the guys passing by.

When they got to Mr. Baxter's class after school, he was waiting for them by his computer. He hurried them over, and motioned for them to sit in the nearest desks.

"We have a lot to go over, and I don't want to keep you too late, so let's get started."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Premade Ebook Cover Art

If you only know my writing through this blog, then you haven't heard the news: I'll be releasing a new YA Paranormal Adventure sometime in the next month or so. It'll be available as an ebook and quite probably a paperback, as well. It's called Ghost Betweens, and I already have a cover for it.

I'll have more news, descriptions, and sample chapters in the near future, but that cover image is the reason for today's post. When I published Way Over the Line, I created my own cover. While I was happy enough with it to publish it, I feel it would have been a better product with a professional designer creating the cover. That's why I decided I needed to get a "real" cover for Ghost Betweens. The problem with this, though, is that professional designers want $100 or more (sometimes much more), for custom covers. I don't have that type of money to throw around. Sure, I hope my book will make that and more back, but I can't count on that (or even hope for it at this point in my writing career). So what was I to do?

I found the answer in premade ebook covers. In these, the artwork is already done, and when you buy the cover, the artist will add in your name and book title where the placement fonts are. These are a much more economical choice for authors on a budget (like me). I didn't exhaust my search, as I found the perfect cover fairly quickly, but on the half-dozen sites I checked, prices ranged from under $20 to around $70. Mine, by the way, was a deal at $25. A quick Google search (I used "premade ebook covers") will turn up a good number of sites for you to browse. I do want to give a shout-out to the site I used, since it had a great number of quality covers to choose from with lower-end prices: Book Graphics. I'm quite thrilled with the cover art I received.

Of course there can be drawbacks. The main one, of course, is that you might not find the perfect cover image for your novel. That will force you to decide if you want to open your wallet a little wider to get a custom cover, or if you want to simply go for the good enough approach and get a cover that isn't quite right, but workable. I lucked out in that the cover I found is practically the same as what I would have had custom designed. I don't expect everyone to be as lucky, so weigh your options carefully.

All in all, I highly recommend checking out premade ebook covers if you are going to put out your own ebook. With so many sites and covers to choose from, you're bound to find one that comes close to what you envisioned in the first place, and maybe you'll even be surprised and find something that exceeds your expectations. Give it a look!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Writing Prompt #97

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm not labeling it this week, so take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

There's intelligence in that stray dog's eyes. Too much intelligence.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Novel Descriptions

I've been picking up quite a few free books on Amazon for the Kindle lately, and my method has taught me something that should help me in my own writing career. And it could help you, as well. I'm talking about the description of the novel. This is basically all the readers have to go on when deciding whether to read your book or not. Yes, covers do sell books, as well, but in my view, a good description is a much bigger selling point.

I've found that if a description is too long or too short, I'm probably not going to go with the book. Yes, there are exceptions, of course, but these are few and far between. The sweet spot for me seems to be a single paragraph of about five or six sentences. Think about a cover blurb on the back of mass market paperback books (remember those?). There's not much room on there, so each sentence, each word, has to carry weight. Back cover blurbs are not overwritten; they get to the heart of the story and tell exactly why you should read that book. Even though Amazon lets authors create much longer descriptions, the best keep theirs short.

Your novel took many months, sometimes years, to complete, so don't sabotage it by not taking the time to craft an impressive description. Spend time crafting every word; don't just dash off a quick intro to the book and be done with it. You want to sell the thing, be it for money or for the advertisement of free so you get good word of mouth. Make it easy and worth their time, and readers will download your book. I know I'm going to follow this advice for my next venture into ebook marketing, and you might want to give it a try, as well. After all, I came up with this with my reader-hat on, not my writer-hat.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Writing Prompt #96

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm not labeling it this week, so take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

Your iPod plays a strange song you didn't load onto it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Hunger Games

I finished Mockingjay last night (the third and final book of the Hunger Games, and my mind immediately turned towards the Hunger Games movie coming out later this month. I enjoyed the heck out of this epic trilogy, and I can't wait to see how close the films follow the books. The official trailer gives me hope that it'll stick pretty close to the series, which would be excellent. I don't usually see movies in the theater, but I will be making an exception to that for this movie. If you haven't read the books, give them a try. Be warned, they are dark and quite violent, but if you can stomach stories like that, the trilogy should have something for you.

The movie comes out on March 23rd. Check out the official trailer:

You-Tube turned off the embedding, so click here to see the trailer

Monday, March 5, 2012

Writing Prompt #95

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm labeling it as horror, but take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

You turn on the shower and blood pours out of the faucet.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

#FridayFlash: Next Stop: Hell

Next Stop: Hell
by Eric J. Krause

Jeremiah stood at the bus stop, waiting for the 4:30 to Downtown. Public transportation sucked, but with his car in the shop and no money to get the mechanic to finish the repairs, this bus was his only way to work. He'd prefer to walk, but that was next to impossible, both because of the distance and the rising crime rate. People nowadays were as apt to kill you as look at you.

He rarely saw anyone this early, still a couple of hours from sunrise, but today proved more desolate than usual. Not a single passer-by or any car headlights in the distance. It was as if the world had forgotten to wake up. He wished he had that option. His boss was on the warpath recently, hurling reprimands left and right for the most minor of offenses. Jeremiah had received one last week for going back to work from break one minute late. Sure, he was in the wrong, but was a single minute worth putting him one step closer to unemployment? Not as far as he or anyone else not in management thought.

A bad feeling hung in the air around him as he waited. Today was the day something out of his control would blow up, and he'd take the full brunt of the blame. Then it would be out the door and to the unemployment office. He could feel it in his bones. The funny thing was, he usually proved to be a glass-half-full kind of guy, but he couldn't drag this burning ball of dread out of the pit of his stomach. It didn't help that the world seemed empty. Maybe that was all that was bothering him anyway, and his job would be fine. He could hope.

4:31. Great, the bus was late. He could usually spot it three stops down, but not this morning. So this was that thing he couldn't control. With a reprimand on his record, they wouldn't care if it was the bus line's fault. He'd be out on his ass before the first coffee break. No chance to get repair money for his car, and no real job prospects in this damn economy.

In his worrying, Jeremiah didn't notice the bus until it pulled up to the stop. No, that was impossible. His eyes had been glued down the street, willing it to show up. And now it was here. Maybe it had taken a different route, something not posted at this stop because it was unaffected. Yeah, that was the likely answer. But, really, whatever the explanation was, he didn't particularly care; he still had a chance at keeping his job.

The door swished open, and he stepped in, his temporary bus pass out for the driver to see. But there wasn't a driver. What in the world? He looked back to the passenger section to see if the driver was helping someone. There were never very many people riding this early, but there were always a few. Except today. Today he was alone.

Unnerved, Jeremiah turned to step back down to the curb. Why this made him so nervous, he didn't know, but he couldn't shake the feeling something was wrong. Before he could leave, the door slammed shut, and the bus shifted into gear. He let out a strained yell and jumped for the driver's seat. He couldn't let this thing get going out of control. Before he could make it, the bus lurched forward, sending him tumbling back into the passenger area.

Jeremiah screamed out for help, in case this was nothing but a big joke, and someone really was in control of the moving machine. Maybe he was being punked for some new Internet show. He'd look foolish, but that was fine, as long as he was safe. No one answered. He tried to see what was outside the windows, but even if he cupped his hands against the glass to fight the glare, he couldn't see anything but pure darkness. A quick glance up at the "Next Stop" board showed that it read "Hell."

Hysterical giggles erupted from him. Hell. Yeah, funny joke. He thrashed his head from side to side, ready for this elaborate prank to end. Hell. No way. He didn't deserve to end up there. Sure, maybe he pilfered occasional office supplies. Maybe he sometimes took lunches that didn't belong to him from the community fridge in the break room. Maybe he drank too much on the weekends and accidently cheated on his girlfriend. None of those were reasons for him to go to Hell. Were they?

Jeremiah couldn't help but notice the air in the bus grow gradually hotter.

My Goodreads Shelf

I spaced yesterday and forgot to put out a blog post. Teach me to not write out a "to-do" list for each day. Anyway, I finished Brad Meltzer's The Zero Game last night, and I gave my review on my Goodreads page. I try to review every book I read, so if you'd like to see my reviews, please visit my Goodreads shelf, and feel free to friend me, too. My reviews aren't usually very in depth in the story, as I don't want to spoil anything, but I always try to tell what struck me with the book, good or bad or both. Usually my reviews are pretty positive since if I'm not enjoying a book, chances are I'll put it down without finishing it. I did that twice this month, so my overall book count so far this year is pretty low. So if you're interested in being my friend on Goodreads, or you just want to peek at my shelf, please follow the link above. If you're not a member of Goodreads, follow that link, find the homepage, and sign up. It's a great site for book lovers! Have a great week everyone!