In Which I Return to the Blogging World With a Book Blog Tour and Author Interview

BEYOND-THE-WAIL-front-webHey everyone, long time no blog. I kind of hit a dry spell for a while there, but Xchyler Publishing is helping me get back into the swing of things with a blog tour for their newest anthology release! Be patient with me, because this is the first ever blog tour I’ve participated in, and as usual I don’t know what I’m doing.

Okay, so I’m not biased at all, but I think Xchyler is pretty much the rock star on Amazon for steampunk, fantasy, and paranormal anthologies. Just in time for October is Beyond the Wail, a collection of ghost stories from some of Xchyler’s most celebrated authors.

What is it about fear and the unknown that pulls so passionately at the human heart? Perhaps we are drawn not to the darkness itself, but to the resolution, the overcoming of what we most deeply dread. After all, the more terrible the struggle, the greater the victory when it comes at last. Presented in this anthology are twelve remarkable stories of the darkness that overshadows us, and the resolution that may be found beyond them. They are stories of fear and oppression, but ultimately stories of hope, stories that will take you BEYOND THE WAIL.

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I have the pleasure of featuring Ginger C. Mann and her story, “The Poltergeist and Aunt Betty.” Aunt Betty is a delightfully, and sometimes a bit confusingly, eccentric widow with wild red hair and a penchant for dramatics, but you soon find out why. After the “bank people” take her house and most of her beloved possessions, she’s forced to move in with her niece and young family. Life soon turns upside down for poor Aunt Betty, but the poltergeist haunting her has a surprise. This story is equal parts haunting, sweet, and funny. Aunt Betty and her family are colorful, likable characters. Ginger flawlessly pulls off the difficult task of character-building in a short story.

Ginger-Mann_200x274An interview with Ginger C. Mann

About Ginger: Ginger C. Mann is a poet, musician, and digital security engineer. If you can’t find her doing those things, look for a woman chasing around her small children with a camera. A Texas artist, she enjoys writing for other Texans. Her song, “River Night,” premiered on October 12, 2013 in North Austin. During that same weekend, her first short story, “China Doll,” began selling on Amazon.com. She is also a key writer, and digital security adviser, for “Think Before You Click,” the Cyber-Safety campaign of legal counsel, Rick Mann. Ginger lives with her family in the Austin, Texas area.

How did you come up with the concept of your story?

There were multiple inspirations for me, but two of them stood out. First of all, I chanced to meet an adorable, brilliant, and quite eccentric woman with a giant head of flaming red hair. She stuck in my mind, and I could not get her out. My character, Betty, is kind of a reaction to her. I barely know the woman I met, but I knew I had to write a story with her image in it.

The character I came up with, I think I like even more than her original. This woman is probably a genius, but so completely “out there” that her gifts blend into the noise of her mental illness. Perhaps the point I’m making is that we dismiss people every day based on reasons that make sense to us, but should we? Just because a person is paranoid doesn’t mean something isn’t out to get her.

The second inspiration came from my own little boy. At the time, he was three years old. He had a habit of waking up in the wee hours of the morning, when he would wander silently into my bedroom suite. He materialized there at around the time that I was getting ready for work in the morning. Most of the time, I kept the lights low, to let my husband sleep. The little boy was patient, and willing to wait until I could give him attention. He would stand still in one spot and wait without moving a muscle. So having said all of that, it was not uncommon for me to stand in front of the dark mirror, begin to dry my hair, and then look down toward the counter to see a pair of eyes staring straight up at my face. It literally made me scream out loud a few times. Low light, sudden moves in the mirror, silent approach . . . yeah, a ghost would pull a stunt just like that.

At some point, I put both of those images together, and made the red-headed woman an eccentric great-aunt. No one ever listens to crazy people, especially not if they are crazy live-in relatives. Is there a better candidate for a haunting than this? Someone whose credibility is faulty to begin with.

Please provide some insight into or a secret or two about your story.

The best clue I can give – without spoilers – is that anybody can see a ghost. At least that is the case in my world. Some people are nuts, some people are sensible, some people are more sensitive; but no one is blind. It’s just a matter of what we choose to see, or not see.

In my world, as in so many other fantasy worlds, the earth is peopled with departed spirits who walk alongside us. What if those departed souls choose to stay for awhile, and share our space with us? Do they still love us? Could it be that they need someone who can help us to love them back? It is a common concept, but what if there were a person who could draw them out and connect them back to the living?

Now, make that person a homeless, red-haired, middle-aged, organ-playing Montessori teacher with a persecution complex and a nasty prescription drug habit. See where I’m going with this?

What was the hardest part of writing your story, and how did you overcome it?

The hardest part was the discussion of the ghost. Paranormal requires death, usually. I don’t like to kill anyone, especially not an innocent, but death is a part of life. It’s just that the way this person left earth was gut wrenching for me, personally. I had some trouble fleshing out that scene, I found I shied away from it. After awhile, I contained myself well enough to finish it, but I don’t think I toned it down. When I read it out loud to my husband, he wept openly.

Again, no spoilers, but there is a good reason that Aunt Betty is tormented by a ghost. At the end, I have to tell that story. It rips me apart even to remember it, but the best thing about inventing a tragedy is that I may also invent a resolution.

I am fond of my resolution.

What is your preferred writing genre?

To be honest, I wish to write science fiction or technical thrillers. I am a software engineer who is fond of space, and I think I have plenty of stories about science in me. However, I find that I am enjoying fantasy and paranormal more than I imagined I would. They require as much imagination, and a little more humanity.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I think I always have been a writer. I turned in a poem to my fourth grade teacher one day, and she put me on a stage for Veteran’s Day and made me read it. I had no idea whether it was any good, I just knew it was fun to make a story that rhymed. Then I wrote a song as a fifth grader. And then, it snowballed on me: before I knew it, my book reports became overnight sensations in my English classes. I have a distinct memory of a group of seventh grade desks, all clustered around in a pile, just so they could face me and listen to me read my story aloud.

I didn’t know what I was doing, I just thought I was having a little fun. My friends would say, “So when does your first book come out?” I used to roll my eyes and go practice my flute, instead. I did not go into complete OCD mode and try to publish by age 13, but the urge to write did not go away. I am compulsive about it, and I found that when I had no other outlet, I would write notes on paper kind of at random. That became a de facto journal, but took the form of a written conversation.

I loved the birth of the Internet, because I could suddenly talk with my fingers rather than my voice. I spent days and nights on listservs, exploring new ideas with other friends who liked to write, rather than voice, their thoughts. One day, I discovered a story in all of those ideas. Typical of my childhood writing, I wrote out two scenes, and then I kept it on a hard drive for fifteen years. It was only by random chance that a new, quite serious writer discovered it one day. He pushed me so hard that I actually finished the thing and submitted it.

And that was three stories ago. Now that I am in the habit again, it’s rather addictive. More stories keep filling my head, and I think I even see a novel in there. Wow.

Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment?

I don’t have unlimited resources, but I do have an ideal writing environment. My parents live on about 125 acres of land in East Texas. My dad is a talented environmental scientist and my mother is an equally talented landscaper. The two of them have transformed the place into a parklike setting. Whenever I need to implement a first draft, I take the family there. The kids run around for days, my husband fishes in the lake, and I sit in a little office with a computer, a bottle of water, and a view of paradise.

Of course, the office belongs to my dad, and while I’m in it, he has to work around me. Okay, fine, it’s my ideal, not his.

Where do you actually write?

This almost made me hork up the cold spaghetti I was chewing while answering it. Hmmm . . . I “actually write” where I am sitting now: In the home office, crammed with books, desks, printer supplies, and debris. My view is the front porch. Sometimes, my view is of the front porch and the neighbor’s cat, who will attach herself to my window screen if I keep the blinds open.

Name one entity that you feel supported your writing, outside of family members.

Certainly my friend, a fellow author who I won’t name here. There was one other friend back in the days of listservs, and he pushed me to complete that first story hardest. I almost wish I had done it back then, but considering the plotline, I did not have the emotional strength.

My family cannot be left out of this answer, though. My husband, children, and parents are kingpins in my drive to continue this. My father-in-law, though, has played a more direct role. I discovered that he likes my written voice. In fact, he likes it so well that he recently left me a giant stack of periodicals, with editor addresses circled. Think he’s trying to tell me something?

How does writing impact other parts of your life?

Sadly, writing sucks up a lot of my family’s time. So, I have made it a point to put off the major writing projects until a little later. However, even the writing I do now has gained me a society of friends that I did not expect. Also, I have to admit to a few extra “cool points” in the office. Software developers love scary stories, in particular.

What activities best give your brain a break? How do you unwind?

Professionally, I am three people: 1) Software Engineer 2) Music Director 3) Author. With all of that going on, my brain doesn’t get many breaks. But there is an extra minute on Saturday sometimes. I’m trying to remember what I did with the last one . . . seems like I was sleeping.

I particularly enjoy taking my flute, plus a few other instruments, and jamming with other musicians. I think that counts as true peace for me: anytime I can play, and make music with others. And what comes of that? Songwriting, of course!

What are some of your other published works?

I have written two other short stories in Xchyler Publishing anthologies.

China Doll, in Shades and Shadows, a Paranormal Anthology
Jilted River, in The Toll of Another Bell, a Fantasy Anthology

I have also written songs for local musicians here in the Austin area, and my poem, “The Chase” opens the newly revised novel, A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk. Other than that, I enjoy blogging at http://www.songsofmann.org.

What is your advice to writers?

Which writers? If they have something in the queue, my advice is to find me. I love to meet writers, and sometimes I want to swap notes with them — publically. If their book sweeps me away, I could devote days to exploring it with them, and I want to use all of that to their best advantage. Check my author pages at songsofmann.org, I don’t like to leave stones unturned.

If a writer is new, or if someone wants to write, my advice is to start writing and keep writing. At the risk of sounding like a bumper sticker: don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Your job is to write. Let someone else be the critic later — much later.

What’s up next for you?

Music, blogging, prayer services, blogging, computer programming, blogging, and . . . oh hang on, this: A fantasy tale came to my husband in a dream. A lovely one with two witches and a baby who loses her finger. The baby’s finger is restored by her protector, but at a very high price.

Well, that was the crux of the dream. The rest is up to me to write. Teaser coming on songsofmann.org. Watch for it.

If you had three wishes, what would they be?

More hours in a day
Two more rooms in my house
A magic wand that could heal any hurt

Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you?

Follow me on twitter @gingersnotes. Better follow close, or you’ll miss the duck.

Yes, duck. See you online, friends.

Find Ginger on the Interwebs Here:

http://www.songsofmann.org
https://twitter.com/gingersnotes
https://www.facebook.com/authorgingercmann
http://www.goodreads.com/gingersnotes
https://www.pinterest.com/gingercmann/
http://amazon.com/author/gingermann

Check out These Nifty Giveaways and Order the Book Here!

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Goodreads

Be sure to check out the rest of the amazing authors in this anthology by following the blog tour schedule:

BEYOND THE WAIL: 12 Grave Stories of Love and Loss

Book Release Blog Tour

Featured Author: Danielle E. Shipley

Danielle E. Shipley

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Are you Afraid of the Dark?

John’s Writing

Featured Author: Alex McGilvery

Alex McGilvery

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ash Krafton: Emotion Between the Lines

Scott E. Tarbet, Author

Writer’s Law of Motion

Featured Author: T.N. PAYNE

Nicole Payne

Monday, October 12, 2015

Author Sarah Hunter Hyatt

Notes from Author Ginger C. Mann

Featured Author: Ginger C. Mann

Ginger C. Mann

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

L.K. McIntosh

J S Brown

Fairies & Pirates

Featured Author: L.K. McIntosh

L.K. McIntosh

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Rampant Games

Scotty Watty Doodle All The Day

Terra Luft — View From the Crystal Ball

Featured Author: Jay Barnson

Jay Barnson

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Storyteller’s Journey

Creativity from Chaos

Christine Haggerty

Featured Author: A. F. Stewart

A. F. Stewart

Friday, October 16, 2015

Tales by Julie

Perpetual Chaos of a Wandering Mind

Featured Author: Amanda Banker

Amanda Banker

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sebastian Bendix

Alex Campbell

Semi Short chic

Featured Author: Julie Barnson

Julie Barnson

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Ink Caster

The Road to Nowhere

Featured Author: Sebastian Bendix

Sebastian Bendix

Monday, October 19, 2015

The J. Aurel Guay Archive

:DandiFluff…

Featured Author: Tirzah Duncan

Tirzah Duncan

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Alex McGilvery’s World

A.M.Harte

In The Spotlight

Featured Author: F.M. Longo

F.M. Longo

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ever On Word

The Cult of Me

Cobblestone Scribe

And finally, since I’m a total geek for Xchyler’s book trailers, here’s the one for Beyond the Wail:

Be sure to check in soon — I have more bloggy ideas up my sleeve, as well as upcoming news on Cobalt!

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About as good as it gets for free

yay
I didn’t know what else to put here.

Since apparently I can’t have a sleek new skinny body for 2015 (at least not overnight), I settled on the next best thing and gave my blog a makeover and even turned it into a website! It’s not exactly what I have in mind for a final draft, but until I can shell out some money for a really professional banner and background, this is what it’s gonna be.

And it’s not too shabby, IMHO. Although I was ready to hang it all up after a couple hours messing around with WordPress and go back to Blogger, but I finally figured out the basics. I thought I knew how to work with WordPress and all, having posted to blogs with my job, but actually setting one up is a whole new can of crazy.

Anyway, go have a look at my other pages and all, and feel free to offer some constructive feedback. I know it’s nothing special yet, but it’s just the change I think it needed, after a few years with the old blog.

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The Unveiling!

Okay y’all, I did promise to divulge Alyssa’s and my super-secret project today! We launched it a couple hours ago, and we couldn’t be more excited! So basically, you pretty much know by now that I won’t shut up about steampunk. I met Alyssa at an Abney Park concert, and a couple months ago she sent me an email along the lines of, “You write and have a cool blog. Wanna go in together and make a blog about steampunk music?” And then I did some kind of fangirl happy dance because the thing I freak out over the most, next to books, is music. Especially steampunk music!

So our plans for the blog are pretty simple: We interview musicians of the steampunk genre and put the podcasts up for our followers on Twitter (@BehindTheSteam). We’ll also post articles and reviews of music, cons, and other steampunk things we geek out over, and as we gain experience and learn new ways to make the blog shine, I think it’s just going to get better and better!

Our first podcast, a fun interview between just the two of us, is already up on Behind the Steam’s very first post! It’s available to everyone, not just Twitter followers. I have to apologize in advance for the audio on my end. I didn’t realize my laptop’s mike is so crappy. Half the time I’m bellowing, the other half my voice is just garbled. But it’s still a pretty cool interview, I think! I will be investing in a much better microphone before our next interview.

Something I think is really super geek-out-worthy is our opening music, written and recorded for us by none other than Nathaniel Johnstone! I love it; it’s kicky, fun, and goofy. (It’s also going to be my ringtone if I can figure out how to set ringtones on my phone.) And speaking of that guy who plays stringed instruments like some kind of weird, be-kilted angel, check back with our blog on Thursday, where we’ll unleash our interview with him upon the world! MUHAHAHAHAAA!!!

That’s right. This guy. Awesome, right?

So here is our site: Behind the Steam. Bookmark it. Share it with your friends who might be interested in steampunk music. Share it with your friends whom you’d like to scare with steampunk music. And heck, if you lose the bookmark, not to worry! Because I’ll freak out on this blog anytime we have something new coming up. There is no escape! (Unless, of course, you choose to un-follow me but please don’t do that!)

And there’s not much news on the writing front, other than that I’ve queried a few more small press publishers, and will probably stop my search after that and go indie if the answer’s no from all of them. I’ve been doing my research, I’ve looked at the covers from some of the best of these publishers, and I think, “I can do that.” I can also do the marketing and promoting on my own as well. I’m thinking this is shaping up to be a pretty exciting year, creatively!

Holy Crap! Awesome Stuff!

Oh dear, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. But I have a reason! Life got shaken up a bit this past week, like a snow globe, and it’s taken a few days for the flurries to settle back down. I have some okay news, and some super-awesome-exciting news, and a bit of random fandom silliness since I missed last Monday’s funny.

For the okay news: I’m now gainfully employed! I’m working at a nationally known craft store, but won’t name it in case I say something stupid online (highly likely) and they think I’m too much of a dork to work for them. :B Although it’s part-time, last week I worked almost 40 hours because we were having a visit from corporate and we had to get the store in shape. My two 18-year-old fellow hires and I (I call us the Noob Brigade) worked our booties off. Because we were so new and didn’t know anything about cashiering or the location of stuff on the floor, we spent most of the time cleaning, organizing, and stocking. It was harder than the Insanity Workout! I’ve had two days off and I’m still sore. But so far I like the job, and our manager is awesome.

But. I’ll probably squander my entire paycheck there anyway. They have a freaking steampunk section! Well, it’s more like a little kiosk stand, but. BUT. I got this stuff the other day, and I’m going to make something pretty out of it:

Now for the super-dee-duper announcement! My friend Alyssa (she’s an amazing poet so I linked to her blog) and I have been working on a secret project for the past couple of months, and we’re almost ready to go public with the news! On Tuesday, April 10th, we’ll launch our project, but until now you’ll just have to do with the following hints that you may or may not find in the pictures below. That’s Alyssa with my babies, when we all first met her!

Pay close attention to what she’s wearing and where we appear to be. These are hints as to things that will turn up in our super-secret project! And you can guess all you want, I’m still not saying anything else until Tuesday. So there! 😛

Okay, and this last bit you can skip over if you want, because it’s just me being fangirly again and not shutting up over something I never shut up about. If you’re my friend on Facebook, you’re probably rolling your eyes right about now. But you know me. I can’t help it! Actually, I’m just being really annoying about them because they also have tons of exciting stuff coming up, and they’re killing me with all their announcements on Facebook. They have a new DVD coming out and it looks like it’s going to be hysterical:

Oh, and on the writing front, I’m querying again. Small presses this time. So the waiting game has recommenced. Good luck vibes are appreciated!

Since you’ve stuck with this post for so long, here are a bunch of pictures of baby owls being freaking adorable. And don’t forget to check back here on Tuesday! I’ll be wigging out over our project then, and I’ll dig up some more funnies in the meantime. Maybe I’ll even get a bit of writing done over the weekend. I’m so close to being finished with Cobalt!

Happy Funny To Me!

Did I do Monday funnies the last week or two? I don’t think I did. Thanks a LOT, dead laptop! Well, guess what…

It’sss my birthday!

And I got a great present from God and Mother Nature. All winter long I’ve been complaining that we haven’t had enough snow, it’s been too warm, etc. etc. blah blah gripe. 1. I LOVE snow, and 2. When we have a dry winter, I worry that the upcoming summer is going to be hell on earth.

Anyway, it’s been snowing all day! Happy birthday to me!

Now, what I want most of all is a book deal, but since I’m not going to get that today – I haven’t been submitting to publishers because I need to print a hard copy of The Moongate for Shadow Mountain Publishing and I’ve been procrastinating on that out of fear – I think for today’s funny I’ll share the writing-related pics and stuff I’ve been collecting recently.

Or, for a slightly racier explanation of the Oxford comma that might get me in trouble. 😉

Ain’t that the truth!

I think you might need to click on this pic to read it (and a few others), but it’s so worth it.

Really? Really?? And agents didn’t want to touch The Moongate?

I was saying something like this, and then Lia sent the pic to me.

I should print this out and staple it to my face.

Oh my glarbl, can I do this?? Can I make this my front door, pleeease??!

Oh okay, and speaking of funny, Lia finally has a blog, here on Tumblr. I don’t get Tumblr, really. And she sticks up her nose at Blogger. Whatever, her page is funny anyway.

I know a while back I said I was going to do some kind of crazy fun thing for my 100th follower party, and I’m still going to! Just working out the difficulties that a dead laptop presents. And I’ve never done anything like this before, so I’m trying not to mess up. I have some ideas and stuff, so it’ll be sooooon

Now I guess I’m going to go do some housework and see if the kids catch on and make me get back on the computer! I’m not supposed to be doing any work today.

Multitasking Madness!

My laptop is still out of commission, so for the past couple of weeks I’ve had some serious computer withdrawals. I’ve been able to snag some time for Facebook now and then, but nothing that’ll really let me write, until today I saw my hubby’s laptop lying around and grabbed it! Thanks to the wonders of Dropbox (see my previous post on the subject), I’ve been able to catch up on some badly neglected writing. But, because I’m also a mom and a housekeeper, those little feelings of guilt over many other unfinished tasks start nagging at me anytime I sit down at the computer while the sun is still shining.

So this weekend I’ve been running around like a decapitated chicken, trying to get all the following tasks accomplished, among others I’m sure I’m forgetting but will remember around 2:00 am:

recipe

Homemade brownies! The girls had a few friends sleep over, so I made a quadruple-batch of these brownies, since Mother Hubbard’s cupboard is always bare and I didn’t want the poor girls to starve. (The recipe calls for ingredients that are already present in most pantries.) Then I sent the friends home all sugared up!

Gotta catch up with what my friends are doing! Always a top priority. 😉

These are not my dishes, although they could be. Except I obsessively pile the dirty dishes into categories before I wash them, and I wash them in a certain order. OCD kinda sucks sometimes. (So does having a broken dishwasher, because dirty dishes are a constant affliction!)

I love homemade bread! But last night I forgot to take it out of the bread machine, so this afternoon I discovered the wasted dough and I cried over it. Now I have to make some all over again. (I only use the machine to knead, because I don’t like the shape of bread machine loaves.)

Not having regular access to a computer is seriously affecting a major addiction of mine! I haven’t been able to read and comment on my friends’ blogs like I usually do. So I don’t know what a lot of you are up to right now, but I’m trying to catch up.

This isn’t quite a realistic portrayal of a basket of laundry, for me at least. I have 30 times that amount. (Not an exaggeration.) And my worst habit is washing it all at once, then dumping it in the family room and putting off the folding! At least I have all the clean laundry sorted…

These little weirdos are always demanding my attention as well. Can’t I just lock them in the closet with a board game and some snacks?

I don’t want to think about what I’m going to cook tonight. It’s 5:30 and I haven’t even started. I know I could at least make some chicken stock. We have leftovers, right?

Oh yeah, I almost forgot:

My 13-year-old saved up her money to get bunnies (a neighbor gave us her huge hutch), and we let them out in the living room a couple times a day to get some exercise. While I’ve been working on this post, the cute little piggies have been bouncing off the keyboard, fighting over a carrot, and pooping on the couch. And they’ve just figured out how to escape the living room barricade. *groan*
Also, a guilty pleasure. I watch very little TV since it takes away from writing time, so I’ll give myself a guilt trip if I watch more than I should. Last night we decided to watch The River, which had intrigued me from the first time I saw the trailer at a movie theater – and we ended up staying awake all night to catch up with the entire show! Huge addiction now. The show is seriously creepy and exciting! This season it looks like I’ll be glued to the TV whenever The River or The Walking Dead are on.

And finally…

I love how being a writer comes with these images of fancy pens, candles burning in an inspirational manner on a gleaming desk, and stacks of gorgeous leather-bound reference tomes. I’d rip holes in paper with pens like that! And my handwriting has so gone downhill over the last decade, I get writer’s cramp after just a paragraph…

Anyway, I’ve been writing today too, bouncing between Cobalt and a project I should’ve finished a couple weeks ago, just before my laptop went ptooie. It’s been a lot of fun, but also brain-melting. I think I’ll end with a snip from the latest scene I’ve been working on:

Kate’s fingers scrabbled for a knot in a plank or a bit of broken rail, but closed over nothing but wet air as the ship bucked in the wind. The deck vanished beneath her. Her stomach jammed itself in her throat as she hung in the air for an instant before gravity took over. She could still hear the distant sounds of the fighting crew, somewhere on the other end of the ship. Closer, the sound of a whip crack split the air above her. Or maybe it had been a clap of thunder. Something slapped painfully against her bruised upper arm, jerking her descent to a stop. Her lower body slammed into the ship’s aft end.

Kate shook soaking tendrils of hair out of her face and stared in horror at the rope that had saved her from falling into the Forest – which was not a rope at all but a cold, clinging tongue that wrapped around her arm at one end and disappeared into the wide open mouth of the monster glaring down at her from the broken window high above. Its rows of teeth glimmered white in a flash of lightning.
How often do you guys find yourselves muddling through days of multitasking insanity when you’d rather just sit and write?