Friday, December 28, 2012

Past Favorite (Jenn)

All of the ladies of Fiction Femme Fatale know how to bring it. And I am much honored to be in their (online) presence. While it was tough to choose one to post, but FUN re-reading the past pieces, I have to say Krystalyn's story "The Scent of Water" hit me. Amy, Stefanie, and Krystalyn know their way with words and can build a world like no other leaving me inspired and excited about each post they create and their larger works. So, for me, it was a toss up between Krystalyn's fast-paced "Water" and her beautiful and emotionally raw story "Raw." Krystalyn's last lines hit you in the face and her prose lingers well after you've read it.

I hope you enjoy her, and Amy and Stefanie's, stories as much as I do.


I pump my legs, darting between the shattered houses and burnt human remains. The stench brings bile into my throat, but I can't stop to get sick when I know he's only a block away, scenting me. Even with his broad eyeless forehead and the large slits that serve as his nose, he looks more like a child than a Martian. But damn, he's fast.

I'm smarter though. It's what's kept me alive for the past six weeks.

The day they came, I was taking a history test, answering a question about Henry XIII. First, came the shrieking sound which made us all drop our pencils and run to the window. Just like in the movies, the clouds parted and hundreds of metallic disks appeared in the sky. Then came the explosions, followed by car alarms and emergency sirens and ringing in my ears that made me think I was going deaf.

Some of the kids started screaming. Some ducked under their desks as if a layer of particle board would keep them safe. I held my breath and wondered if I was going to die with my fingers in my ears and the names of Henry XIII's wives written on my hand.

The strikes, a cross between a lightning bolt and a laser beam, came in rapid succession from the center of the disks. I watched silently, wondering where the strikes were hitting, thinking surely, my home and my family was safe. But when the row of houses across the street was vaporized, I bolted from the room. No one stopped me.

I was one of six kids that found refuge in the girls' locker room. The earth shook for two days, but the walls stayed upright, and once the explosions stopped, we took a few tentative steps outside the locker room. Half the school was rubble, but at least the six of us were still alive. A week later, it was just me.

I weave my way through mountains of concrete and pipes and wires, and run straight into a fallen oak. There is no way around it, so I push myself over it. The alien is only a block behind me when my shirt catches on a branch. I curse loudly while I tug on the fabric. The branch snaps free, and as I tumble down into the grass, it impales itself in my gut, sharp as a dagger. Blood gushes and I howl in pain.

Injuries drove us out of the school, but it was my fault for suggesting it. Michael needed his insulin and Sammy had a broken arm. With both the cafeteria and nurse's office obliterated, I suggested we search for a hospital, not knowing if any still existed. No one argued.

The town greeted us with eerie silence. No people and no hospital. The metallic disks weren't visible, but my skin itched, telling me they were there, lurking behind the clouds.

We split up to scavenge what we could from the few remaining buildings, then meet back up at the school. Michael, Sammy, and I headed towards the grocery store, while Brooke and the others went to the Walmart. I never found out what happened to Brooke's group, but I do know what happened in the Winn Dixie parking lot.

The attack came from the left, a dozen little creatures appearing from beneath the abandoned cars, their faces held high in the air, nose slits opening and closing. Sniffing.

“Run!” Michael shouted.

The nose slits on one of the creatures opened into wide circles. It started shrieking, and the others joined in.

As we ran, lightening strikes dropped around us in rapid fire. Michael was ahead of me, and when he tripped, I veered toward him to help him back to his feet. As I reached out my head, the blast knocked me onto my back. My head flopped to the side just in time to watch his body explode into a thousand pieces.

Sammy had fallen behind us. The shrill alien's voice sounded right above me. The hair on my arms stood on end, and I knew the next strike was coming for me.

“Not today,” I promised myself. I flipped onto my hands and knees and took off at a dead run.

I lost Sammy somewhere in the maze of debris, but the aliens were still trailing me when I reached the river. With resignation in my bones, I dove in, clothes and all. They'd taken everyone else, my friends, my family. I'd be damned before I let them get me too. I wrapped my arms around my legs, blew out my breath, and sunk to the bottom.

And they didn't get me. They sniffed and searched, and when they were unable to find my scent, they gave up.

I set up camp near the river, not understanding how the whole water thing worked, and not caring. Maybe I should have cared more. Maybe I should have stayed closer to the river when searching for food.

I yank the branch out of my stomach and roll over onto my hands and knees. Yellow splotches pop in front of my eyes. In between them, I can see the community pool. It's less than ten feet away. I start to crawl.

Eight feet... Six feet... Three...

I hear him scrabble over the tree just as I drop into the pool. My stomach flares with pain. I let out too much air, but I stay submerged, looking up through the water. He's there, sniffing. Always sniffing.

A thick trail of blood floats to the surface.

He moves his nose to the pool's edge where my blood is smeared. His finger reaches out, groping until he touches the slick red stain.

I clutch my hand to my stomach, but it's stopped hurting, and I know that's very bad.

He sniffs his finger, then the cloudy red water.

My body shakes. My vision narrows.

He tilts his head to the sky. His nostrils flare open. The shrieking starts.

I want to pulverize the little bugger and silence him permanently, but what does it matter? More will come. It's too late anyway. I can sense the clouds parting above me, the ships preparing to fire. I am never getting out of this pool alive.

But neither is he.

Summoning my last bit of strength, I thrust my arm out of the water and yank his tiny body in with me.

And wait for the strike to come.
Story by Krystalyn
Photo by Bradley Mason

Friday, December 21, 2012

Amy's Pick

Today I have the distinct pleasure of choosing my favorite story written for this blog by Jennifer Baker. Jennifer is our newest member of the Fiction Femme Fatales and so there aren't as many stories to choose from, but even so it was hard to pick just one favorite. What I love about Jennifer's work on this blog is how she manages to inject a healthy does of hope and light into every story that she creates. I finally settled on the story below because it showed people pulling together in a crisis and after Super Storm Sandy. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I do.


The Story

This is a story with a happy ending.

It’s a story about a city on the brink, about a family waiting, watching the television screen and listening to talking heads spout warnings. It’s a tale of a family that lived in a split level house that, at the moment, looked as though it would actually split. It’s a countdown to a heavy storm, swirling faster and faster, winds increasing, branches tapping then smacking at windows, the noise increasing until the children being crushed in their mother’s arms wait for the bark to break through. It’s a father peeking through windows and murmuring assurances that they’ll be alright while hiding the tremble of his hands by gripping the curtain until his fingers pierce through the fabric.

This is what is happening to a once affluent family gone broke due to circumstances and brashness and pride. It’s the instance of a fifteen-year-old girl searching around the dankness of her home and is, for once, glad the poshness she was raised into is gone. A slight relief that the chandelier she used to dance under will not crash onto her family and instead the worst is a flickering lamp bookending the couch she and her siblings are huddled on.

This is the account of a sky that went from crystal to magenta to slate. A report of a storm bringing with it hail and torrents smacking water until it laps into the homes of everyone in town, seeping in under welcome mats and shoes discarded near doors in rushes and fits of cleanliness. Water that is not warm but cold enough to chill one to the bone and will cause a flicker before taking all the electricity out.

This is the revelation of the bravery of a ten-year-old boy who, seeing the rising water reach his front porch rushes tugging at his older sister who still daydreams of what was to help him to the electrical outlet. The running of sister and brother to the kitchen, sister holding a step ladder for the brother as he quickly cuts off the lights leaving his family in darkness just as the water trickles in.

This is the tale of running, seven pairs of feet smacking against wet and wood making it to the second floor of their home as water rises and does not stop. It’s the rush of bodies through doors before they are slammed and towels and sheets stuffed into crevices to slacken the flow.

This is the moment when mother and father having held onto so much anger cannot remember what they were so worried about when things are not what matter, the people around them are.

This is the reality of a family coming together for the first time since they moved from one district to another. This is the vision of a five-year-old girl looking out the window to roads no longer but a vast marsh with rooftops poking out from the brownish water. Of a girl muffling a scream and her older sister humming the music to The Nutcracker in her ear, forgetting when the last time was she danced to it.

This is the turmoil of feet on a bed as water soaks rugs and mattresses, shoes and socks, ankles then hips. Of children being told to stand on windowsills and parents making a shield to make sure they stay put.

This is a story where a family gasps taking in H2O along with lots of O, yet in the distance hear a buzzsaw sound, water being parted. From hundreds of feet away they see a motorboat slice through the dirty wet field covering the ground.

This is the story of a family that clasps hands under water and keeps each other up with force and sheer will because help is on the way.

Photo by Phoebe Rudomino (Thanks!)
Story by Jenn Baker 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Past Favorites by Stefanie

Heeeeeey guys! I've been a little AWOL on this blog lately and I apologize! I'm BACK though! I'm getting a little sentimental today, so beware.

 I was SO excited when Amy first asked Krystalyn and I if we wanted to start a short story blog with her. I'd always wanted to do something like this and I couldn't have chosen a better two (then THREE!) people to partner with. I am so lucky to know these three amazing writers, and I am very grateful to have them! I'm not sharing, so don't ask! :-)

Ok, sentimental moment over. Go ahead and wipe your tears because you need clear eyes to read my favorite story.

I'll wait.

Are you good? GREAT!

It was very hard for me to choose my favorite story of the year since, you know, Jenn, Amy, and Krystalyn are all fantastic writers. But since I DID have to choose, I'm taking it back to the beginning, to our very first month here.

I remember reading Amy's first story and thinking, "DANG IT. Girl can write a short story!" I am still sort of new to short story writing (which is why I was so excited about this blog), but Amy's got this thing down pat. (I'm crossing my fingers for a horror novel by her someday, because she can do creepy for sure! *hint hint*)

So here it is, my favorite story of the year!



Rebecca felt decidedly wicked that morning. She’d never broken any of the elder’s rules—at least not the big ones—and yet today she was planning on disobeying the most important one. Behind her, the village was still asleep, the main square deserted and quiet. She ran through the wet grass in her bare feet, her nightgown trailing out behind her white as the morning mist still blanketing the ground. She hurried to the large wall separating the village from the forbidden woods beyond and carefully scaled it under the cover of the large oak tree so that the town watchmen wouldn’t spot her.

No one had been in these woods since the elders constructed the wall a hundred years before. There was a reason it was forbidden and yet no one seemed entirely certain what it was anymore. The only thing they did recall was that a large lake sat at its center. Unlike the well water within the village, this water was out in the open, under the sky and sun, reflecting it all back as clearly as a mirror—grounds enough to avoid it. Seeing your reflection was strictly forbidden. The elders were convinced that if you looked at yourself in any reflected surface you might fall prey to vanity which would lead to any number of other sins. Vanity was the first foothold for evil and evil could ultimately destroy them all.

But the elder’s warnings had been repeated so long and so often, that Rebecca couldn’t muster the same fear that she’d once felt. Especially not now that Thomas had started calling on her, staring at her with his gray-green eyes, always filled with equal parts amusement and desire. He’d declared his interest in her the minute she’d turned sixteen—much to everyone else’s amazement. He was the handsomest boy in the village and she was most definitely not his equal—or so the other girls said. She had no idea since she’d never actually seen her own face. Now she needed to. She had to know if what the girls said was true. She had to see what it was that he saw in her. How could she trust his affections otherwise?

She found the lake without really searching, almost as if some part of her knew exactly where to go. When she burst through the trees along its banks, the birds gathered there lifted off all at once, scattering across the sky. They chattered what sounded like a reproach or a warning. Fear pushed its way into her gut and settled there, but she’d come too far to turn tail now.

Once the birds were gone, the world went quiet. She stared at the lake. The water was strangely transparent in the early morning light. Towards the middle you could see all the way to the bottom. Blanketing the lake bed were hundreds of mirrors, glinting like giant fish scales. She’d never actually seen one before, at least not outside the pictures in her old fairytale book. They must be the ones that the elders took out of the village when her great grandparents were young. They were still intact and amazingly free of algae. They were beautiful.

Her stomach tightened. She should go. This whole trip was foolish. No good could come of it, she thought. Still, her feet inched forward. Almost without meaning to, she stooped down and plucked the mirror closest to her from the water.

It was round and notched along the edges like a giant coin. She carried it over to the trees, carefully holding the reflective part away from her body, and gently set it against one of the tree trunks. She could see her feet, caked with mud and grass, pale as bone in the mirror. She wiggled her toes. Her reflection did the same. She crouched down, settling onto her knees beside it. Her eyes traveled towards its center and the face staring back at her. She’d always known that she had blond hair. She could see it in her peripheral vision, but she didn’t recognize the thin nosed girl staring back at her with eyes narrowed slightly at the corners and cheeks peppered with tiny freckles. Her lips were full and pink. She was pretty, as pretty as the girls who’d said she was nothing special. She smiled at her reflection and it smiled back at her. She brought one hand up and lightly touched her fingers to the glass. Was this really what she looked like?

                The moment that her fingers made contact with the glass, the mirror began to undulate, sucking her fingers into itself before she had time to react and pull back. She was caught in it as surely as if her fingers had been set in cement. The glass surged forward, liquid now and glistening, swallowing her hand and the rest of her arm as if it were a snake. She could feel her bones breaking as the glass crept past her shoulder and worked its way around her neck. She opened her mouth to scream, but it covered her head before she could make a sound. Then her body pitched forward and Alice-like, fell into the mirror. The glass rippled violently a few times and the mirror threatened to topple over before it finally settled and grew still.

                Several minutes passed before a pair of ghost-white hands emerged from inside the mirror and gripped its outer edges. They were followed by the rest of Rebecca’s body, exactly as it was before—except for the creature now residing inside her skin.

                That evening, when Thomas came to call, she took him out to the village wall, leaned up on tiptoe and kissed him—their first. Thomas had time to wonder why her mouth tasted of dirt and metal, but he was quickly distracted when she climbed the wall and dropped over it.

 “Come on, I need to show you something special,” she said.

And after a moment’s hesitation he did.

Story By: Amy

Photo By: Ksenia Klykova

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's the Possible End of the World!

It's the possible end of the world and we have exciting news!

 One of our own femme fatales, Amy Christine Parker, will reveal the cover of her upcoming book on December 21, 2012.

That's right, the Mayan's last recorded calendar day.

And you wanna know what's supremely perfect about this?

Amy's book is about an apocalyptic cult!!!

She couldn't have picked a more perfect day for her cover reveal if she tried (which she didn't, oddly enough, the date choice was purely chance, no one realized the significance of it until later--can you say weird and creepy and meant to be?).

You can get her take on things on her blog and we've put all the other pertinent information right here for you. You don't want to miss this cover. Amy LOVES it and we just know that we will too. So, assuming you're still here next Friday, go check out her shiny, new cover at ICEYBOOKS! She's planning a very cool giveaway you won't want to miss!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Past Favorites by Krystalyn

This month, we are taking time off to shop, catch up on work, and spend time with our families. But don't worry, we're not leaving you empty handed. We are each posting our favorite stories from this past year. My choice is Revelation by Stefanie. I love the images in this one as well as the journey the MC takes in such a short amount of words.

by Stefanie Jones

Just before I lost it all, the world turned to ice. I stare out at the lake that used to wrap around my bare ankles as the scalding sunshine freckled my shoulders. Now it just looks like a healing scar—like God dug his fingernails into the earth and ripped out a chunk that he was no longer proud of. I’m not even sure I believe in God in anymore.

“Syler?” my brother Fleet calls. His voice gets half-lost in a gust of wind that pierces my body like an explosion of glass shards. I pull my outer-most hood closer to my face and try to contain the shudders that are ripping through me. Even through nine layers of clothing, the air is so cold that it feels solid—a wall of icy crystals that are freezing me cell by cell.

“Syler!” Fleet calls again, this time more frantically.“Syler, what in bleeding Christ’s name are you doing out here?!”

I’m not sure if hebelieves in God anymore, either. Before the ice, Fleet would rather swallow a needle than take God’s name in vain. I’ve wanted to bring up his change in demeanor, but we don’t talk about things like that, my brother and I.

A thickly gloved hand wraps around my own and I’m yanked away from the scar-lake.

“What is wrong with you?” Fleet hisses as he slams the door of our tiny house behind me. Heat fills my mouth as I open it to answer him, but the warmth feels so nice that I get distracted and stand there with my jaw hanging open like I’m surprised.

Fleet shakes his head and tightly presses the mounds of blankets back around the cracks of the frozen door.

“I leave you for two seconds and I come back to find you trying to commit suicide. You want to leave me here alone? You want me to have to… To have to…”

He drops his head and lets his hair fall in front of his dark eyes. I know he’s trying to hide his grief over the loss of our parents, and I don’t know why.

“You don’t have to be strong all the time, you know,” I whisper. I reach out a mittened hand and wipe the hair away from his face.

“Obviously I do,” he says, flinching away from my touch. His voice is almost as harsh as the cold.

I turn away from him and start peeling off some of my layers of clothing. I leave on my sweater, jeans, long johns, one pair of gloves, a fleece jacket, and a sock hat that covers my ears. Not to mention the four pairs of socks I have on under my snow boots. It felt warm when I first came inside, but now that my body is starting to thaw, I can feel the slow sting of the cold air wafting down through the chimney. A fire still burns in the fireplace, but it won’t last for much longer.

What were you doing outside, Syler?” Fleet asks again.

“We’ve burned almost everything we have, and I was seeing if I could stand the cold long enough to run to the neighbor’s house and scavenge for wood. Or more books, or something.”

He sucks in a sharp breath. I know he was hoping that somehow I wouldn’t notice that he burned all my books last night, but I’m not an idiot. It’s okay. I’d rather livethan read, I guess…

My gaze shoots to corner shelf in the dining room where our mom kept her well-worn Bible. She used to read it every night before bed. I remember watching her finger the pages as she read, like she could rub all her worries and troubles into the scripture.

It’s still there.

A wave of relief goes through me and I briefly wonder if it’s because it’s the last remaining possession of my mother’s, or if I’m glad that I can still read it if I decide that I still believe in God.

“How long?” he says softly, like he doesn’t really want to know the answer.

“Seven seconds. Though I lost count when you called my name, so maybe a few seconds longer.”

“We can’t risk it, Syler. I won’t let you risk it.”

“But I’m fast! I can get in and out in less than a minute, I promise!”

“NO,” he says firmly. “I’ll figure something out. But you are not going back outside.”

I cross my arms and sink down in the corner near the fireplace, where my pallet is made. We burned the couch last week, and our beds the week before that. I can’t even imagine how cold it actually is outside since our thermometer burst after the first ice storm. Fleet settles down into his own pallet and throws the last little pile of books onto the fire. The flames lick around the paper spines like an animal that’s just been fed after weeks of starvation, but it only lasts for a few seconds. Paper burns too fast.

Since the ice came, the inside of my house is all I’ve seen of the world. I lied to Fleet when I told him I was trying to figure a way to get into our neighbor’s house—whose chimney smoke died out a week ago; I am certainly not ready to face what is waiting in there.

I really just wanted one last glimpse of what was left of our dead world.

I stand up from my pile of blankets and pad over to the dining room corner shelf. When Fleet realizes what I’ve grabbed, he shakes his head vehemently. But I walk past him, past the dying fire, and wiggle down into my blankets.

I don’t know if I believe in God anymore, but what do I have left but my brother and this Bible? I open to the very last page and rub my fingers into the red and black words, like maybe my worries and fears will leak from my body and transport themselves into the scripture, as the ice begins to crust around the edges of the fireplace.

Fleet joins me in my nest of blankets, covering us both with his blankets as well, and we read until we can’t keep our eyes open any longer.


Story by: Stefanie
Photo by: Octagon

Friday, November 23, 2012

Jenn's Book Recommendations

Happy post-Turkey day food coma, relaxation or standing on a crazy line Black Friday!

It's hard to narrow down a few books that you enjoy and think others will also, but dagnabbit I accept the challenge.

At year's end I discuss books I enjoyed on my blog and steadily keep a tally on Goodreads. So the ones chosen are plucked from my pile over the years.

Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor, illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo.

Anyone who knows me knows I sing Laini Taylor's praises every chance I get. Her National Book Award (NBA) nominated book was my introduction to her work. I had the pleasure of meeting Laini and Jim at the NBA reading and they are as pleasant as they are talented.

Laini's prose is lyrical, vivid, illustrative and takes you on a ride. Add in Jim's gorgeous detail for people and emotions of the scenes she wrote and you have a powerhouse in Lips Touch. Lips Touch contains three stories where kisses play a part, good or bad, and they are original and fantastical as well as emotional. I LOVED this book.

If you haven't read Laini's stuff or seen Jim's illos do so now! Laini's latest series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, does not skimp on the darkness but has a wonderful lightness and beauty to it as well.

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley.

John is another kind and talented author. His book got heaps of praise and deservedly so. Where Things Come Back is a contemporary novel that digs into the heart of a family breaking. There are two separate perspectives in this piece that end up tying together as the novel progresses. But the core story is with Cullen during the summer before senior year of high school when his brother disappears. You're with a family on the brink as they deal with hope and loss and a whole slew of emotions. Cullen deals with it by trying to block it out and imagine alternate scenarios. John delves into such emotion that you are chomping at the bit on every page. I purposely waited on the subway before my stop because I wanted to finish this.

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer. 

I'm a fan of anthologies and collections and multiple points of view in literature (if you couldn't already tell). So I wanted to add a collection I thoroughly enjoyed and ranges in terms of perspectives from young (Brownie troupe getting in all sorts of trouble) to older (a college student at odds with his dad as they try to get to the Million Man March).

Packer's debut was lauded all over the literary landscape and with good reason. It taps into so many things such as race and insecurity and family and passion that it's relatable on many levels no matter your age. There's a particularly poignant story about a young girl who goes out on her own and realizes she knows nothing about the world as she takes up with characters, who on the outside may be horrific, but end up helping her get back to a life she thought was bad.

Other recommendations I'll make are:

  • Room by Emma Donoghue: A heartbreaking tale of five-year-old Jack as he and his mother escape from being imprisoned. It's all told from the childlike POV of Jack so while you don't see the bad parts you know what is happening. It's a masterful novel to convey so much with so little.
  • Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx: I LOVE Annie Proulx and this is my favorite story collection that I have read, hands-down. Proulx says that short fiction is hard for her to write but she hits it out of the ball park in terms of visuals and people and situations. Brokeback Mountain is in this anthology and the succinct prose is captured in the film painting a painful love story crossing over a few decades.
  • The Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins: By now everyone and their mom (including mine) has read The Hunger Games. And deservedly so. This is the YA book that got me back into the genre. Collins manages to make an, at first, unlikable and hard-edged character someone we root for consistently. Katniss has heart and wants a life of simplicity but that all goes to pot after the Quarter Quell. The writing is well paced and dynamic putting you into every moment and Collins has a way with chapter endings, each one leaving you wanting more. 
Those are just some books I'd recommend reading in general because they rock and especially to explore alternate writing styles. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Books I Love

I've read a lot of books this year and these are just a few that stood out for me. My criteria? I read into the night or at every possible moment, ignoring everything around me including fighting children and new episodes of The Walking Dead (if you know me, then you'll know that these books would have to be pretty awesome for me to blow off Grimes and the rest of his posse). So here goes:

1. A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness, Inspired by Siobhan Dowd

The inside jacket flap says this: "The monster showed up after midnight. As they do. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming..."

People, there are no words for this book. NO WORDS. I loved it, loved it loved it. I was a pile of rubble, of mush, of tear-leaking ruin when I got done. SO well written, so well executed, so magical and powerful. If I can recommend one book with my whole heart this year, this is THE ONE. But be forewarned, it is not the book to read when you need to be up and jolly. This is a book to contemplate by the fireside, tea cup in hand, tissue box at the ready.

2. THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray

Inside jacket flap: "Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It's 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult..."

I'm going to geek out as a writer here and just say that there's a passage in the first chapter about the wind that I just think is beautiful, sweeping, and elegant. The kind of prose that has this writerly novice wringing my hands and pacing the floor because I want to write something close to it and have not managed as of yet. That said, as a reader, I loved the historical setting and the way Libba wove it into the story. I loved the generous cast and the way that chapters skipped from one character to the next. It fit the story so well--a story that to me is reminiscent of Stephen King's THE STAND in it's scope. At it's heart it's a story of good vs. evil, interspersed with witty lines and an effervescent main character who I can just see doing the Black Bottom in my head. And if Naughty John doesn't give you the heebie jeebies, you are a stronger reader than me. He is AWESOMELY evil.

3. I HUNT KILLERS by Barry Lyga

Okay, by now I'm sure that you're starting to see a pattern with my choices. I gravitate towards the darker stuff. I won't deny it, it's true. My list is not for you if you are rainbows and sunshine kind of reader.

Goodreads Summary: "What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?

Jasper "Jazz" Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal's point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?"

I thought that Barry did a brilliant job building the plot on this one. The characters were relatable and real and the killers were definitely creepy. The main character in particular is handled really well, especially since he's torn between wanting to do the right thing and having a scary urge sometimes....not to. This is a great thrill ride of a novel, a Criminal Minds mixed with Dexter for young adults that I read late into the night.

So there are my three, but it's almost not fair because there are really so many more that I could've added to this list, some I'm still reading now. So, because I routinely cheat on our stipulated word count and am apparently, at heart, a rebel with this type of thing, here's a list of some others I enjoyed a lot.

THE BLOOD KEEPER by Tessa Gratton
WHAT'S LEFT OF ME by Khat Zhang
11/22/63 by Stephen King
THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater

AND just to show you that I have a softer, side, I DO, I SWEAR! Here's my all time favorite reading list from when I was a wee bit of thing:

LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott--I wanted to BE Jo and marry Mr. Bear.
THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgeson Burnett

Friday, November 9, 2012

Stefanie's Favorite Books

We're supposed to post our favorite books this year? But... I just... I hate making decisions like this.
*sighs* This is a HARD post for me to do, because there has only been one book this year that I didn't enjoy, and I've read a LOT in the past eleven months. Okay, okay, I'll stop being difficult and just close my eyes and choose. 


*pokes finger into Nook library*

And the first winner iiiiiiiiiiiiiis......

LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins.

"Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit—more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket—a gifted inventor—steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door."

I absolutely ADORE this book. This was the first Stephanie Perkins book that I've ever read, and after finishing it, I immediately read ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS and am eagerly bouncing up and down, waiting for the next installment of this series. Lola is everything I've always wanted to be--independent, carefree, creative, and not afraid of what anyone thinks of her. And not mention the love interest, Cricket Bell, who is one of my fictional boyfriends. I love YA, and this is definitely a very "teenage" type book, but you should read it even if you are an adult. Because I said so. :-) 
(No one I know that's read it has disliked it). Lola is now one of my favorite female characters.

*spins the wheel of awesome 2012 books*

The next winner iiiiiiiiiis.........

TIMEPIECE by Myra McEntire

"Kaleb Ballard was never supposed to be able to see ripples--cracks in time. Are his powers expanding, or is something very wrong? Before he can find out, Jonathan Landers, the man who tried to murder his father, reappears. Why is he back, and what, or whom, does he want?

In the wake of Landers's return, the Hourglass organization is given an ultimatum by a mysterious man. Either they find Landers and the research he has stolen on people who might carry the time gene, or time will be altered--with devastating results for the people Kaleb loves most. Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their extraordinary powers to find Landers. But where do they even start? And when? Even if they succeed, just finding him may not be enough ..."

Let me just say that I adore everything about Myra McEntire. She is hilarious, adorable, and can write a heck of a time travel novel. She has also pinned down the teenage boy voice perfectly, and made me fall in love with a fictional dude (again. Yes, I know, I have a lot of fictional boyfriends. But Kaleb Ballard is seriously fighting for the top spot here. He's muscled AND tattooed AND smart. *fans self*) Timepiece is the second book in the Hourglass series, and unlike the first book I chose above, you need to read HOURGLASS before you read TIMEPIECE. You won't regret it, believe me. Of course, this is another YA (all my favorite books are), but this one is good for adults too. My mom loved it. Mrs. McEntire mixes the love and angst that we all crave with a good dose of time travel physics, so you never get bored. READ IT. 

Next on my list iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis...........

FOREVER by Maggie Stiefvater


When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their loved moved from curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives.


That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be kill in one final, spectacular hunt.


Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment - a moment of death or life, farewell or forever."

It's no secret that I worship Maggie Stiefvater. She's never written a story, book, blog post, or heck, even a grocery list that I didn't love. (Just kidding about the grocery list. I'm totally not a stalker. Maybe.) She just has SUCH A WAY WITH WORDS. Forever the is last installment of The Wolves of Mercy Falls series, and even though Maggie seems to have gotten a lot of flack about the ending, I loved it. I thought it was the perfect ending--or really, beginning, rather-- to Sam and Grace's tortured love story. I am usually not big on the last book of any series, but this one hit the nail on the head perfectly, in my opinion. Even though it's about werewolves, this series is not your typical werewolf story, and you won't feel burnt out if you read it. It's a love story more than anything. And as in everything she writes, Maggie's prose drips like honey off a biscuit (can you tell I'm writing this before lunch? Sorry.). READ IT NOW. 

Okay, I was just kidding about the closing my eyes and choosing thing. These were my three favorite books of 2012, but there were so many more that I enjoyed immensely. Because I can't do a "favorite books" post without mention the oldies but goodies, I have to throw out my favorite books that I will read over and over for the rest of my life. 

1.) PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen
3.) THE THIEF OF ALWAYS by Clive Barker
4.) HARRIET THE SPY by Louise Fitzhugh (this is book that made me want to be writer. I wanted to be just like Harriet when I was ten years old. Plus, a good tomato sandwich never gets old.)

I've bought seven new books this past week, so I can't wait to read them and maybe have some new favorites before the end of the year! This time of year is chock full of new releases. I LOVE IT. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

My Book Choices

by Krystalyn

For the month of November, we decided to share with you some of our favorite books. I have chosen two from my Goodreads list that I have read in the past year and one classic.

Code Name Verity

A Scottish agent gets captured and interrogated during World War II in Nazi occupied France.

I'm going along with most of the reviews of this book that say the less you know about Code Name Verity going in, the greater your experience will be. It's the kind of book that I thought about for days, kept it on my nightstand, and kept going back to read certain passages.

Anna and the French Kiss

Anna spends her senior year studying in Paris and meets Etienne St. Clair.

To balance out the heaviness of Verity, I chose something light and fluffy. If you like fun, happily ever after romance novels, then this book is for you. Anna and Etienne also make appearances in the companion novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door.

The Secret Garden

Orphaned Mary Lennox is sent to live with her reclusive uncle in Yorkshire.

This book has it all: Gothic mansion on the Yorkshire moors (always a selling point for me), personal demons that must be overcome, discoveries around every corner. I own at least three copies of this book and nearly every movie made of it. The Secret Garden was my first Broadway show. I own the soundtrack and the script. When I was younger, I could often be found acting out the entire show, costume changes and all.

To say this book made an impact on me is an understatement, but I found I wasn't the only one. When I taught first grade, I read this book to my students. Imagine my surprise once I read the last page and a little boy, who I thought had no interest in anything but worms and torturing the girls, came up to me. He loved it, and that made my heart sing.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Breaks, Books, and What Not

We need a little break.

It's a new month which usually means a new picture, right? Well...yes, but not this month...or next. My lovely crit partners and I are loaded down with work and family commitments (aren't we all this time of year) and have decided that there is just no possible way that we can keep them AND write our stories for this blog without gaining ten pounds from stress eating and developing a nervous tick. So we are taking a break. BUT we will not leave you completely in the lurch. This month on our assigned Fridays we will each post our recommended reading lists of books that we just couldn't put down  this year and next month we'll each pick a story written by one of the other femme fatales that is our favorite of theirs so far. Then come January, just in time for New Years, we'll post Jenn's photo inspiration pic and open the site up to submissions once again. So, enjoy your holidays and we will be back with new fiction very soon. In the meantime, stay tuned for Krystalyn's book list this Friday!

Friday, October 26, 2012

So We Wait...

So We Wait....

I lie in wait. As poetic, or creepy, as that sounds it’s true. She comes by on occasion, but she’s always here come Halloween. Giggling echoes around the canyon that surrounds these parts, separating me from the town, my former home.

She’s not alone. This time of year she’s not without the crowd of buff guys. They strut and puff like they’re ready to save her from a burning building or a shark attack or the Zombie apocalypse. They act like they have no fear. Whether they’re as thin as I wish I was, or as wide, whether muscles ripple at the slightest flex or if they have legs as thick as tree trunks. I try not to be jealous, I shouldn’t feel anything considering.

Every year I wait. The trees lose their leaves, become big sticks with smaller sticks jutting out. The crunch of frosted ground under feet. I sense animals around. Especially when they relieve themselves nearby and I wait. I wait for the day when she’ll come in costume with a group of others. You’d think after four years there’d be some suspicion, but in a town as small as ours (population 2000 and counting) it’s the only ‘exciting’ thing to do on All Hallow’s Eve.

She’s in front, leading the way with a flashlight. Her outfit is a flashflight. She has a sparkly tiara in her hair. Her dress is neon green with glitter around the edges and translucent, again glittery, wings. I wait for her smile and she does as she gets closer through the brush and vines growing outward, sticking me as they get longer and thornier, and more aggressive, feels like they tie me down. I couldn’t leave even if I wanted to.

There are four girls and four guys. All in costumes. The girls wear things too short and tight. The guys are superheroes (real original guys). Seeing her up close with glitter around her eyelids and in her lipstick, she shines. Everyone is dull next to her.

I want to touch her, hold her hand. We almost, once. Before. Creak. I try to get closer, creak. No use.

“Augh, this house is ugly,” one of the girls says. She sticks her tongue out my way. Wish I could do the same. The door opens and shuts startling them all. It’s the closest I can get. The girls, except for her, jump and the guys are quickly at their side.

She steps closer though. She smiles as she approaches and I wonder if she can see down to the core me. When we were kids, before everything happened she grinned at me not because her mom forced her to but because she wanted to. That’s what she told me. Before the accident. Before I got stuck and could only see her from afar.

“Babe, where you going?” Superdouche asks.

Over her shoulder she says, “I’m not your babe!” Snickers ensue and the guy swipes an arm at her as though she’s not worth anything anymore.

She comes up the path waving the flashlight.

She whistles. “The vines grew long.

Her hand lands on the front of the house, where the doorbell would be if anyone else cared to come by. Her touch against the wood is a warm print that spreads. Lights flicker on and I feel her light by the briefest of contact. Just like in the hospital. When she put her hand on my back and said “It’s okay.” As soon as I had her I lost her. That’s what hurts the most.

“They miss you,” she says petting the door frame.  

Are they the only ones? I wish I could say something, more. The most I can offer is a retraction of the shade but then it falls off the hinges.

“Creepy much?” the same girl calls from behind.

One of the guys wraps his arms around her and lifts her up. She giggles and screams, a flirty mix, for him to put her down.

She faces the group. “Come inside! See the haunted house for yourselves!” She crosses her eyes and wiggles her fingers in the air like she’s a puppeteer.

The door opens. The guys step up first. She steps to the side to let everyone in.

“You coming?” Superdouche asks.

“Be right in,” she purrs. He winks at her, punches the wall as if for good measure. Her face goes flat and she nods. My cue.

I seal it up like it’s Fort Knox.

“Hey!” Superdouche yells. He starts pounding on the door, another goes at the wall, one guy picks up one of the fallen lamps and hits the window. It’s like my insides are being blown out with each bit of force. The girls scream, their heels scrape the floor. I let loose. The lights flicker, the gas starts up, and soon everyone is very quiet.

She waits. So do I.

After a bit she asks, “Did it work this time?”

I try flexing arms but my reach doesn’t extend beyond the boards that creak and are weathered. I can feel termites burrowing in. Beyond the light fixtures and surges of electricity and the gas and those of them on the floor board. Beyond the vines sticking into the surface and creeping inside as well.

I wish I could tell her it worked. Another year and we’ll have to figure out a new way to get my life force out of this house and back into a human body.

She sighs. Leans her body against me. It’s always this point that I wish I had arms to hug her, to snake around her waist and feel her heartbeat against mine. I wanted to live longer and I wanted her. This is the cost.

“I’ll try harder. I swear, I’ll try harder.’” She starts down the pathway before rushing back. Kissing the window she leaves a glitter print of lips. I’ll hold onto that until the elements wash it away, until I’m finally free. 

Photo by: Elephi Pelephi
Story by: Jenn Baker 

Friday, October 19, 2012


Story by: Amy

I love this time of day. That one brief hour before. When the trees go gold across their tops, drenched in the last drops of sunlight. When I can feel the evening chill riding in on the coat tails of the shadows that slowly cover the hills and valleys of the land around me. For an hour I have nothing to do, but sit and wait. If I’m lucky, that’s all I do before They call me back inside, yanking at the vines that tie me to Them and this house and are somehow stronger than any iron chains.

I glance down at the two story monstrosity behind me, practically swallowed up by a sink hole the same day that They came, rotted and moldering and somehow still pretty in an awful broken down way. The perfect place for creatures like Them. Most people pass it by without a thought or downward glance anymore. Once in a while a group of teenagers decides it’s the perfect place for a séance or make out session, but they barely ever make it past the front steps and the guttural growls coming from somewhere inside. If they’re too slow, sometimes they never make it back off of those steps again before the door opens and they’re dragged inside, too quick for them to even muster up a scream.

I sit cross-legged in the grass and pick at the flowery weeds nearby. I pull at the petals and toss them one by one into the air. Make a wish on each in that brief moment when they’re hovering in space, before they flutter towards the earth.

Stay away today.

My wish sort of rhymes, which almost makes it feel ridiculous, but I say it anyway. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

“Hello there,” a pleasant voice says. A boy about my age, or at least the age I think I am, is standing just in front of me. I like his hands. They’re the first thing I look at, just a little rough and dotted with paint. I follow the paint drips like bread crumbs from his wrists to his arms, past his white t shirt sleeves and up to his face, all angles and hollows that seem perfect for tracing with my fingers. His eyes are green like the evergreens just beyond him.

This will be one of the times that my wishes don’t work. I can already tell. But still part of me keeps hoping. I cross my fingers on both hands and will them to anyway. Go away, I think at him.

 It doesn’t work and I sigh heavily before dropping the last of my weeds onto the grass. I brush my hands off on my dress. It’s a faded yellow now. The ribbon flowers lining the rounded collar are almost completely unraveled and hang like streamers down my front. And it’s also too small in the shoulders and much too short on my legs, the netting under the skirt that used to make it full that now hangs slightly lower than the dress itself which is the only thing keeping the world from seeing my underwear.

I push my hair back from my face. I know it must be knotted and wild, but there’s no way to fix it. Actually, even if I could I probably wouldn’t.   If I’m lucky, the combination of the dress and hair will scare people away, but I suppose it’s obvious by now that I am hardly ever lucky and so usually these things have the opposite effect and draw people closer, make them curious about me or sorry for me.

“Hello,” I say in a voice that’s neither friendly or unfriendly. It is a fine line that I walk. I know that They are listening and will pull at my vines if they hear me trying to scare people off. And They will do much, much worse later on when they pull me back inside. Those nights seem to go on forever and afterwards I’m way too black and blue to be their bait again for at least a week. Which is much too long for Them to go between feedings and They end up nibbling at me a bit instead. I don’t like to think about those times.

“I like your bracelet,” he says as he smiles again. His teeth are perfectly straight and so, so white.

I smile in spite of myself. Usually the first thing anyone does is ask if I’m okay and it always makes me want to smack them. Of course I’m not okay. Everything about me practically shouts this.

“It was my mom’s,” I say turning the bracelet around my wrist as I do. Saying the word mom immediately fills my head with memories from the night They snuck in. When the house sat level with the sidewalk and the street and was lemon yellow, not faded to the color of pee. My parents made us hide. But there’s nowhere you can go that They can’t find, sniff out. I didn’t see Them eat my parents and later on my sister, but I did hear the screams.

Every single one of them.

I shudder.

“What’s your name?” he asks.

I have to think about this. I used to know the answer, but that was a long time ago when this dress was so big that I had to safety pin the collar to keep it from slipping down. “Little Bit” is what my parents used to call me, but it wasn’t my name, not really. I frown, try to remember. “M-m-molly,” I say because it’s the only name that I can come up with, but I’m pretty sure that it’s not mine. I think it was the name of the girl I brought inside on the first night that They sent me out “fishing”.

“What are you doing out here?” he asks slowly. He hasn’t tried to come any closer to me. I think maybe he’s afraid he’ll scare me away which is so ridiculous that I start to laugh. I don’t like how hoarse and mad I sound when I do. I glance up at him and his eyes are wide, but he doesn’t back away.

He should.

“Hey, it’s getting dark soon. Do you live close by?”

I turn around, my gaze traveling down the sloping hill behind me where the black shingled roof of my house is visible. I can hear the vines rustling against each other as I move, but I don’t try to quiet them. He won’t hear them. He can’t even see them. They’re only visible to me and Them.

“You live down there?” the boy looks surprised. He takes a step closer to see the house better. I step into his path. I can’t tell him to stop, to run, because They’ll hear, but I can block his path.

“It’s okay, I just want to help you,” he says gently. I hate how kind his eyes are. Just looking at them makes my stomach hurt. Below me one of Them howls, high and soft enough for only me to hear. I look up. The stars are starting to come out. It’s almost time. I can feel Them urging me to do my job, to draw him in. Now. The vine around my right foot goes from slack to taut.

“Yeah, it’s actually pretty cool down there. Want to see?”

 I look over at the boy, at his hands in his pockets, at his faded blue jeans and paint splattered shirt. He grins, not yet aware of what I’m about to do. Of what’s about to happen to him. I open my hand, palm up and offer it to him. It’s dirty and rusty looking where blood has caked around the nail beds and in the lines of my palm. Part of me hopes he’ll see it and will somehow know what it is, but he doesn’t. He does hesitate for a fraction of a second before taking my hand though. His instincts are kicking in, warning him to stay away.


But then his hand lands in mine and I sigh once more before I close my fingers around it. Together we walk down the ivy covered slope and directly onto the roof. They can hear us and I can sense Them, scrabbling up the staircase that winds through the center of the house, jaws snapping.

“Ouch!” The boy pulls his hand from mine. I was gripping it too hard. He takes a step backward. And before I know what I’m doing I push him off of the roof and onto the hill just beyond.

“Run!” I yell and below me They howl furiously and yank at my vines so hard that I fall forward onto my stomach. My breath goes out of me in one painful rush and then I’m sliding across the roof. Roofing nails dig into my palms, shredding my skin and smearing my blood on the shingles. I don’t scream, but the boy turns and looks at me anyway. I can see him as I begin to drop over the side of the roof and into their waiting claws.

Photo by: Elephi Pelephi