Great first week!

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who made this first week of Hawthorne’s release great. I appreciate everyone who requested autograph copies and bought the book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

I’m currently putting together a video book trailer. It’s looking pretty good and will appear soon.

Please remember, if you enjoyed the book, post a review where you bought it. Reviews mean a lot to my future as an author!

Thanks again!

Hawthorne availability

Hawthorne is available now for pre-order on Amazon.com. It will be available on October 31st as an ebook on both Barnes and Noble and Amazon. A trade paper version will also be available through Createspace.com on the same day! I hope you enjoy reading it! If you would like an autographed copy, please go to the tab on this page marked Autograph Copies.

Rowan

I’ve started writing the sequel to Hawthorne. The working title is Rowan. The new story begins where the last one finished. This time, some of the characters will be heading to Scotland!

Hired an editor today!

I’m excited to announce that HAWTHORNE is finally going into the editorial phase. I’ve hired Lorin Oberweger from Free Expressions literarary services. She is a highly sought-after independent book editor and ghostwriter with almost twenty-five years experience in publishing.

Lorin’s students and clients have millions of books in print and have been published by imprints of HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, and other mainstream and independent presses. They have also gained representation with some of the industry’s leading literary agents.

An award-winning author, Lorin’s work has appeared in well over one-hundred periodicals, including THE MONTSERRAT REVIEW, STORYQUARTERLY, and the bestselling regional anthology FRENCH QUARTER FICTION.

Along with New York Times bestselling author Veronica Rossi, Lorin is the author of the upcoming New Adult series, BOOMERANG, published by Harper/William Morrow and debuting on July 15, 2015.

She will have her first developmental edit to me by Halloween!

Wolves Chapter One

Hi everyone,

I’m sorry its been so long since I posted anything. I’ve been busy working on a new book entitled Wolves. It’s still very much a work in progress but I wanted to share an early draft of the first chapter to see what you think, so here it is.  Happy reading and please let me know what you think of it so far!

 

Wolves

I could remember what really happened when I was nine if I wanted to. It would not be the story I told everyone else or even more importantly the story I told myself of how we came to move from that house on Villa road.  I know there was something about wolves, that’s all I can let in. Do I dare try to remember?

Images come to me more and more now and I try to not notice them.  To tell myself that it is just daydreams, nothing more, but they are becoming more insistent, like there is something I must remember, though I dread the consequences. The memories come to me and finally I allow them in.

For as long as I could remember I had had the room at the top of the stairs.  My bedroom was away from the rest of the house and away from my parents.  I was alone at night and maybe it all started because I was scared to be alone but maybe it was because there were things to be afraid of in the dark.

In my room there was a door into the attic. This door had no handle just a hole.  Not a nice cheery hole, but a hole from which things looked at me.

There is a place between dreams and imagination where all sorts of things live.  You look with your normal eyes and then with the eye of imagination and you can see things overlapping.  It doesn’t mean they aren’t real, its just that they live in the In Between and that is where I first saw them.

I spent many hours looking at the yellow eyes that would stare at me from the dark, first one eye and then the other, then I realized there probably were more than one of whatever creatures lived there.

When I had dragged my parents to my room, they did not see the eyes looking at me.  Adults, for all their power, seem to be powerless against things of the In Between. They tried to console me and put me back to bed.

Nighttime was terror time.  I was alone waiting to see when the creatures would come for me.  Night after night I waited and sometimes I slept and I wondered why they didn’t come for me.  I decided that they just weren’t that hungry yet.

Some nights I dared to turn my back on them and look out my window at the house next door.  Seeing the lights on and watching the neighbors walking back and forth passed the windows held my fears at bay. I could wonder what show they were watching on TV or imagine what they were talking about.  I doubt they knew how the most trivial aspects of their lives helped a young boy through many dark nights. That was until the night they came out.

I had awoken alone in the middle of the night on the couch in the living room. Why I was left to sleep on the couch beside the dying fire, I don’t know.  I wondered why hadn’t my father swept me up and take me to bed like he had on every other night when I had fallen asleep in a place that wasn’t my bed?  So many times I remember lying in the back sear of the car and looking up through the rear glass window, watching the sky and the trees.  Over arching oaks, with arms entwined told me when we were close to home.  I would feel the familiar bump as we entered the driveway and I would close my eyes and lay still, wanting nothing more than for my father to carry me to bed in his strong arms.  He smelled faintly of Marlboro cigarettes and shaving cream.  He always carried me, but not tonight.

I got up and walked to the kitchen to get a drink, before going up to bed. At the end of the small galley kitchen was the stairs to the basement; a place that I dreaded with a deep dread and for no good reason I could think of other than in my friends basement, one block over, a girl had fallen and split her head open, or at least that’s what the adults said.  I couldn’t imagine what that would be like or how you could survive such a thing.  I pictured a red bloody skull underneath the flesh, somehow split apart but the girl had lived somehow.  Maybe that was why I feared the basement, because that was where the bad things happened.

I filled my glass and as the water poured in, I heard a scrape and a stomp coming from the stairs.  I raised my eyes and then I saw it.  A wolf head taller than me rounded the stairs and its yellow eyes narrowed as its jaws opened baring fangs.  Then came the claws, all black, one after the other until it stood full in front of me.  Water poured over my hand from the full glass as I stood frozen to the spot.  Its eyes stared into mine and it seemed to say, we will tear you apart.  Then another wolf came behind the second one and then another and another.

I didn’t wait a moment longer. I ran. I ran like every other victim of wolves, hoping to escape.  I felt the hot breath on my legs and I rushed into my parents’ room and jumped into bed with them.  They didn’t stir and neither did I.  I listened like my ears had grown three sizes and every sound was a trumpet.  At least if they came for me, my parents would know I wasn’t just being a scared kid after all, that what I was afraid of could eat them too.  The ringing in my ears grew until I fell asleep.

Somehow they slept through it all and when I tried to tell them in the morning what had happened they looked at me like I’d been reading too many comics. They couldn’t see what I could see and it made me a loner in my own family. Even when they surrounded me, I was on my own.

That was when the Bear came. In our suburban backyard there were small patches of wildness.  Not places that had been undisturbed for ages, those places were far far away, but places that had grown wild enough.  There was a tree here and a tree there on the fringe with a shrub that had been neglected by the shears and a bit of long grass.  It wasn’t much, but it was enough of a toehold for her to come through.

Saturday morning was my favorite time.  I would sit at the back of the house where an addition had been built.  It was our den, where we spend many hours watching football games on the 13” Sony Color T.V. and we thought we were really living on the cutting edge of technology – and we were.  On the morning the bear came, I had gotten a bowl of Capt. N Crunch and sat in front of the T.V. watching Scooby Doo.  Mom and Dad slept in and I was on my own.

I got up during a commercial to refill my bowl in the kitchen and when I walked back into the den and looked out into the yard towards the giant oak tree, I saw a shadow move.  It was only a shadow inside of other shadows, but I saw it.  No one else would have.  I stood still with my cereal turning soggy and watched. Then it came out.

It was a great black bear.  I dropped down to the floor, praying it didn’t see me and slopped sugar-saturated milk all over my Detroit Lions P.J’s. Milk pooled on the floor beneath me but I didn’t care about the mess.  I cared that I was seeing things in broad daylight and that it was coming for me.

My sleeping parents were only a shout away, but what could they do? They wouldn’t even see it, I was sure.  After my breathing slowed a little, I decided to slowly stand up and look to see if it was still there.  I looked and saw the yard was green and empty; no bear, just the oak tree and the garage.  I breathed a deep sigh of relief, but it was too soon.  Two houses over I saw the bear sniffing around our neighbor’s old camper.  I watched it.  It was a huge bear and it seemed not the least bit concerned about strolling through our neighborhood.  It was obvious it was looking for something.  It stood up and sniffed the air and then dropped back down and lumbered straight back towards me. I decided it must have caught my scent or at least the scent of sugary milk.  I stood transfixed as it walked across our patio and came to the side door of the addition where I stood frozen.

The door was open and only the silver screen door stood between the bear and me. The bear stood and sniffed again and looked through the door right at me.

“Come out here,” the bear growled. “You are in danger.”

Yeah, I was in danger from a giant bear in my backyard.  There was no way I was going to open that door, of course it wouldn’t stop it from coming in if it wanted to. I stood still, stunned by the talking bear.

“It’s about the wolves.  We need to talk.  I can help you,” the bear said.

“About the…wolves…” I managed to stammer.

“Yes.  Come out here and quit being a trembling leaf. You are stronger than that.

The bear’s voice was deep and somehow I felt reassured by its words.  Just a moment ago I wouldn’t have opened that door for anything and now I walked to the door and opened it.  I walked down the two concrete steps to the cracked concrete of the driveway.

“Follow me,” said the Bear.  “We can’t talk properly on this manstone.  Come over under the tree.”

I guessed by manstone, it meant the cement.  I was still scared but somehow my feet were still moving.  When we stepped onto the grass of the lawn, I could suddenly see the bear clearer, though I hadn’t noticed that it was vague before and when we got under the tree, the bear glowed.

“You’ve got a serious problem,” the bear said.  “You are surrounded by vicious wolves and you don’t even know who or what you are.”

“What do you mean I don’t know what I am?  I’m a boy.”

“Well yes, now you are boy, but in your past life you were powerful and made many enemies, and some of them have followed you to this life in order to have their revenge, while you don’t remember who you are or have your power.  Its safe for them to torment you and when they are sure they have worn you down enough, they will take you and eat you.”

Did she say eat me? What could I have done to deserve being eaten?

“Can you help me?” I asked. “No one else can see them and I’m just a boy.”

“You are young now, but you weren’t always so.  I’m here because you were my friend before and I think you will be again, but first we have to take care of these wolves.”

“How can I get rid of them?” I asked.

“That I can’t help you with.”

“What? I thought you were here to help me?”

“I am, but all I can do is help you remember.”

“Remember? Remember what?”

“Let me tell you a story and see if it helps.”

“There was a boy who lived in a deep dark forest.  His father was a wood cutter and he was very strong and the boy wanted to be just like him.  He followed his father wherever he was allowed to go, but there was one place he was never allowed to go.”

The Bear looked at me expectantly and said, “Remember anything yet?”

I shook my head no, feeling frustrated with all of this.

“Okay.  I’ll tell you a little more.  One day the father didn’t come home and the boy grew very afraid and wondered what could have happened.  The boy was not strong but he was brave and he decided he would go look for his father.  He thought to himself that maybe a big tree had fallen on him or maybe he had fallen in the well.  Everywhere he looked, the boy could not find his father.  Then there was only one place he had not looked.  It was the one place he was forbidden to go, but he couldn’t just let his father disappear without checking every place he could, so without asking permission, he snuck off through the forest until he found the cave.

By now it was getting dark and the boy was very frightened but he remembered how much he loved his father and drew on his courage and tried to be strong like he knew his father would be and he walked right up to the cave.”

“Do you remember this story yet?” asked the Bear.

I stood still and started to say, “no,” but then I closed my mouth.  Something was familiar about this story.

“Go on please,” I said.

The Bear looked at me and seemed to smile and then continued.

“The boy walked bravely up the hill stepping on crunchy bones and knew something lived here that had been eating many creatures.  His fear made his legs rubbery but he kept going, knowing how important it was.  He came to the top of the hill and peered inside the cave.  At first he couldn’t see anything, it was too dark, but then as his eyes adjusted he saw a bit of red cloth and then a shirt and then his father sitting on the floor of the cave.  The boy took a step forward with a smile of relief on his face, but that was when he saw what was surrounding his father.

A tribe of bears sat all around his father and they seemed to be talking to him.  The boy stood transfixed.  His thoughts raced and all he could of was why his father was here and why was he talking to all these bears, and why hadn’t they just eaten him up? But his father did not seem worried and he even laughed and slapped his thigh like he did when the boy said something funny.  Finally one of the bears saw the boy standing at the mouth of the cave and told the man.  His father turned and saw the boy and then stood up.  The boy was afraid that his father would be angry but he didn’t worry long as his father picked him up and hugged him. Then he set him down and his father crouched so he could look the boy in the eye and said, “I was waiting to introduce you to the bear clan until you were older, but now you see my secret is found out.  Come and stand next to me for all to see and let me introduce you.”

The bear stopped and just looked at me and in the depths of her dark eyes, I remembered.  I remembered that I had lived before and the story was about me.  I felt suddenly sick. It was like a wave of memory sweep over me, threatening to drown me in images of long ago.

“Your name is Arta right?” I said resisting the urge to run or vomit or both.

“Yes, it is and so you remember now?”

I nodded, feeling both unwilling and unable to speak.

“The shock will pass and you will be stronger for it.”

I stood in shock and watched Arta as she walked away. I don’t know how long I stood there, swimming in memories, but eventually I made it inside and sat in front of the tv.  In the flickering light of the cartoons I prayed it was all just a bad dream, but knowing it wasn’t, and trying to understand what it all meant.  Because when I remembered, I remembered it all, that whole life and I remembered why the wolves had come for me and what I had done and what I needed to do and as I sat there, I felt such regret and I prayed for forgetfulness and wished that I had never remembered.

Stay at Home Dad #2 Doctors’ Visit

November 2011 – Age 4 months
We put our boy to bed at 7pm. He was up again at 9pm and then 1am and then 3am and then 5am. I think. I’m not sure because in the groggy hours of the night it’s hard to keep track. I just knew that it was a lot. Some nights he sleeps for six hours at a stretch and others it’s up every couple of hours. I’m trying to take more of the shifts because I know soon I will be doing it when Naomi has to work the next day. But while I’m still working it is hard. I hope that I will get into a groove with our boy and find a way to get some sleep during the day when he’s napping.
This morning I’m asleep in bed when Naomi brings me our boy with a bottle, since she is heading out to work. I think to myself, this how it’s going to be for a while, Dad taking the baby. At first I think it’s a hardship to wake up. But then when he is cuddled in next to me and happily eating his bottle, I think that it’s not so bad.
“So, I’ll see you at the doctors appoint at 10:20,” said Naomi.
“That’s today? I’ll have to get my act together and get us on our way by 9:50”
“That should work, 9:50,” said Naomi.
Its only 7am so that should be no problem. Naomi leaves the house and I’m in Dad mode. The first priority for a successful Stay At Home Dad is getting a tall mug of hot coffee, maybe two. I grab the boy after he finishes his bottle and I go to make mine. I curse when I reach the kitchen and realize I left the pound of coffee that I bought at work, but fortunately I have an incredible wife and she has bought a pound of whole bean organic coffee. I sniff the beans and wonder how it will compare to Starbucks. I can’t do the grind thing with Alex in my left arm so I put him on the floor under his Neptune play mobile. The clanking he makes as his little fists knock the starfish is drowned out by the happy sound of grinding coffee beans. I glance over to make sure he is okay then measure out five scoops and fill the gold coffee filter. It smells great, like Colombia or some exotic Jungle locale.
Coffee at the ready, I pick up Alex from under his killer whale and blue octopus and get ready for our morning story time. I like to read him two or three books in the happy hours of the morning. It’s still exciting as a new Dad to read the books that I’ve always seen but never actually read, like Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar. It’s a great book! And so is Good Night Gorilla and Snuggle Puppy. These books are for the kids but they are clearly for the parents too, who think their child is the most amazing miracle in the world. And he is. Don’t tell me otherwise.
After story time I like to play some music for our boy. I play mostly artists that I normally listen to. I probably should throw in some classical but I don’t have any in my iPhone. This morning, on a whim, I put on Signals by Rush. Alex seems to like it much better than the John Denver I played for him a few days ago. He likes it so much that he falls asleep in my arms. I don’t dare move him for fear of waking him, so I let the whole album play and just sit with him and enjoy the tunes. About this time the planner in me starts to worry. He is still asleep and it’s nearing 9:30. I know I need to get him up and ready for the doctor. As if on cue he starts to fuss. Everything would be alright except now he’s hungry and needs a change and is still in his PJ and so is his Dad. How am I going to get us all ready in twenty minutes? I’m not sure either. First priority is getting him fed. I grab a bottle and sit on the edge of the chair ready to leap up the second he is done. Since he can’t hold his own bottle and I haven’t mastered the one-armed carry and feed trick, it’s going to be at least fifteen to twenty minutes. I look around the room to see if there is anything within reach or view that will help me get ready faster. I spot some clean Alex clothes with the pile of laundry on the couch and decide it’s going to be jeans and a blue and white striped shirt for him. I try to not look at the clock as Alex works on the bottle. I know I probably shouldn’t be stressing. It’s just a doctors’ appointment right? Wrong. I want to show Naomi (and myself) that I can handle this Stay At Home Dad business – a failure on the day after I’ve given notice would be a bad sign. So perhaps I’m stressing myself out more than I should, but I want to be good at this Stay At Home Dad business.
He finally finishes his 4oz bottle and I’m off to the races. I change his diaper, get his clothes on, make up a traveling bottle, put on my own clothes. Tick Tock, Tick Tock. I can’t find the travel bottle holder. I know I’ve seen it somewhere. It’s now 9:58. I’m late and I can’t find the bottle bag. I strap Buddy into his car portable seat and he looks at me with the biggest blue eyes and smiles. I sure love him. I grab a gallon zip lock bag and I’m about to get some ice cubes for my make shift bottle carrier, when I see the bottle bag lying on the floor. I grab it and stock it with ice pack, bottle and a binky — can’t forget the binky when we are going for shots. I throw the bottle bag into the diaper bag and pray that it is stocked with everything I need because I don’t have time to check. It’s now 10:00. I have 20 minutes to make the appointment. I lock the car seat into its base and pull out of the driveway. I call Naomi and tell her my plight.
She sounds unconcerned about my big drama. I try unsuccessfully to not speed. The roads are clear and the speed limits seem ridiculously low. This is the very route that I drove the night that Alex was born and maybe the Xterra just thinks it needs to go fast when on the way to the Avista Medical Center. Talk about trying to rationalize away my need to not be late.
I pull into the parking lot moments ahead of Naomi and get a good parking spot up front. The day is cold and I have Buddy covered with two blankets to keep him warm. I go into the office ahead of Naomi and get us signed in. It feels odd to be the one checking him in, since usually it’s both of us doing it, not just me. Andrea, the receptionist, has seen us through the pregnancy and now the baby’s well appointments and she is always happy to see our little one. Naomi walks up as I’m confirming the insurance information.
We take our paperwork to the pediatrician’s desk and tell them we’ve arrived. I try to sit in the sick waiting area and Naomi quickly gets us to move. I feel like such a novice with all this. It makes sense that there is a well waiting area and it is the place we always sit in, but I never realized why before. In just a few minutes we are called back. Naomi has taken Alex out of his car seat and I bring up the rear with the diaper bag, car seat and blankets. The nurse races ahead and I call out, “hey, wait for the pack animal.”It’s a joke but sometimes I feel that dads are third class citizens when it comes to the pediatric world. It’s probably true, but that doesn’t mean I like it.
Inside the room we undress our boy and then take him to the scale. They take his weight and height. He comes in at almost sixteen pounds and his height is 25.5 inches. They measure his height again because they can’t believe he has grown so much. The second measurement confirms he’s grown 3 inches in two months! He is now in the 80 percentile for height. I can just imagine my boy someday looking down on me and I will be so proud. But he could be 4 foot and I’d still love him as much. That’s the thing I’m learning about being a parent. You just love your kid and want them to be happy and healthy. It’s such a wonderful thing.
The Doctor arrives and we learn some exciting stuff. We can now start feeding him some solid food! Well, pureed apples and carrots isn’t really “solid” food, but it’s moving away from the all formula diet and I’m excited. We talk about sleep too which is probably the biggest challenge in our life right now. He is still getting up many times in the night. Dr. Booth tells us he should be able to go from 8:30pm to 6:00am without being fed. It would be great if we could make that happen. She suggests adding some rice cereal to his formula. I’d heard this before and now I can’t wait to try it. If he gets more food in him he should sleep longer. That is the theory anyway.
Next comes the hard part, the shots. My job is to hold him on my lap facing out with one of his thighs between my legs. That way the nurse can stick him without his leg moving. I feel bad having to do this but I know it is necessary so he doesn’t get sick. Naomi may have the harder job because Alex looks at her while the long needles go in. He goes from cooing and smiling to a beet red face and screaming so hard he doesn’t seem to be able to take a breath.
I know the worst is yet to come. The afternoon and evening will be filled with a fussy unhappy boy. Naomi has to go back to work and I wish again that I could just stay home, but I have to go into work too in a couple of hours. I decide to drive home and try to throw together something for lunch, which ends up being a box of mac and cheese. Alex is asleep through most of the hour when I’m home. The Tylenol must be doing its job. The quiet time gives me a chance to write and get ready for work. He wakes up fifteen minutes before its time to go. So I feed him a bottle and get him back in the car seat. He doesn’t complain at all on the drive and I’m afraid the day care girls are going to have their hands full until 5:00 when Naomi comes to pick him up.
I drop him off and it feels so wrong to leave him. I know the day care is a good place but it just don’t like leaving my boy there. I feel an ache in my gut. On the way to the truck, I stop by the office and write the check for November. Naomi has told them that Alex will be staying home with me but they don’t say anything as I give them the check. It’s more than a mortgage payment! But that’s just one reason why I’m staying home. I can give him one on one attention and plus, because I’m his parent, I know I will have his very best interests in mind. The day care team does a good job but they have other kids to watch. It seems like they try pretty hard to get him to sleep so they can do other things. They do a good job but I will do better.