Posts Tagged ‘#writing’

 

 

 

For those of you that loved “Not only the Dead“, a new tale of emotional terror is coming to you very soon care of your friendly neighborhood ‘serial thriller’.

As a writer, I enjoy delving into the realms of the human condition that people can relate to. In my lighter works, such as the first installment of my coming of age  ‘things taken’ series, Whispers of the Wakinyan, our heroes are pitted against monsters.

In Not only the Dead and its upcoming predecessor, The Artist and the Carpenter, our protagonists would beg to fight a monster or be given any opportunity to gain closure, because their battles originate from places unseen.

The dark.

The unimaginable.

The deeply personal.

Enjoy this “flash teaser”.

                                  Not a chapter, not a paragraph, but only a glimpse…

My mind apparently brushes over something unsettling, because about half way into the drive, the hair on my arms begins to stand on end and coldness begins to spread from somewhere deep inside my gut. Like many emotions that I hadn’t understood at the time:

I push the feelings away.

                    Knowing that one day,

                                        I will have to face them all,

                                                    Like a collection of unwanted children,

                                                                   Who as broken adults,

                                                                               Demand to know

                                                                                            Why they were not embraced.

 

COMING IN DECEMBER 2017

Greetings,

As we all prepare for Halloween, media seems to focus on tales of the dark and the macabre. Hollywood puts out its best nail biters and inevitably one of the bigger names in horror fiction releases a new book or maybe an anthology.

To remain consistant with the Halloween spirit I am posting “What if he Comes Back,” a 2000 word piece of (semi) flash fiction for your enjoyment.

If you do enjoy it, please share and repost to your heart’s content.

If you REALLY enjoy it, please check out my other books on amazon.

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What if He Comes Back?

by Jim T. Gammill

Susan could not walk to the end of her upstairs hallway. She tried to brave the walk at least once a day, but every time her feet would grow heavy, the weight of emotions and regret holding her in place like an anchor made of steel and rusted in tears. The room had belonged to her son, Michael. She called him her son now because the boy’s father, David, had left three months after Michael had gone missing.

“I can’t stand to be here. To be reminded,” David had told her, “maybe we should move.”

“What if he comes back?” Susan had replied.

Susan still remembered the conversation like it was yesterday. It was in the kitchen and she was making coffee, David was getting ready for the day; programmed and mindless like lemmings or hollow robots. She remembered the look on David’s face when she had said the words, a twisted expression that conveyed disgust, disbelief, and pity.

Susan had made the decision in that moment. She would not be silently reprimanded for having hope.

“You can’t be serious,” David said.

“I am,” Susan replied, “and if you don’t think he will, maybe you should leave.”

David did leave. He didn’t even take his things, just the clothes on his back, his cell phone, and the spare car, a ‘94 Honda. The couple hadn’t spoken since, their only correspondence through legal documents and certified mail. Some for separation and some for divorce.

The house was empty now. Save for memories and ghosts. The son that left, but never died and the man that died inside and then left. Susan wondered sometimes if Michael had died and if they had found a body if it would have made a difference. The finality it would have given them. The closure. It had been nearly two years now and the wounds on Susan’s heart weren’t necessarily fresh, but open and festering.

Susan awoke one morning and was nearly convinced that she could hear Michael and David talking downstairs. She closed her eyes and wished that it could be true. That her family could be home. Be real. She knew today wouldn’t be any different, she would hear the voices until the first landing on the stairs and then the voices would muffle, quiet, and then disappear altogether.

Day after day Susan would wander through the emptiness, work at the virtual office on her computer, and make the occasional phone call. She had taken a job as a transaction coordinator for a local real estate firm. She liked the job for the obvious reason, it allowed her to work from home, but also it made her feel good to help people get into their new homes. She would think often of how many of the transactions she processed were for newly-weds, young lovebirds, or expectant parents. She thought of how many women had been carried over the thresholds by their husbands and how many kids got to ride their bicycles into quiet suburban cul-de-sacs, simultaneously enjoying the safety of the less trafficked streets and proclaiming their presence to all the other kids in the neighborhood.

Michael used to love to ride his bike. He was getting pretty good at it too. A group of some older kids had made a wooden ramp and Susan would watch Michael from the window as he would make pass after pass down the sidewalk. She always wondered if he was trying to build up the courage to talk to the other kids or if he was just waiting for an invitation. After about a week he had gotten one and he did it. He made the jump flawlessly and one of the older boys had cheered, ran up, and gave him a high-five. Susan could see the smile on her son’s face from the window that day and to this day she could see it again anytime she closed her eyes.

After Michael went missing, the neighborhood seemed to have withered and died the same way her marriage had. For the first couple of days after his disappearance the neighborhood kids would still play in sporadic bursts, but after a week or two, the neighborhood was a ghost town when it came to anyone under 20. No bicycles. No playing. No high fives.

Susan found that the best way to adapt to her new solitude was routine. After the end of her virtual work day at 6pm, she would make herself a frozen dinner. She had loved to cook, but that joy had left her long ago, shortly preceded by her son and then her husband. She would eat her dinner with something mundane playing on the television. Sometimes a game show, a matchmaking show, and occasionally just the news. She would look at the television as she ate and become more and more disconnected. Trying not to remember what it had been like when they had all eaten together at the table.

One Tuesday night she finished her dinner and instead of moving to the next phase of her routine, which entailed reading a book in bed until she fell asleep, she decided to continue watching television. The Bachelor was on and Susan found herself enthralled by the drama. The desperate people whose worlds seemed to spin in turmoil based on the whim or affection of a stranger.

She watched in fascination at first, but soon found herself lost in thought. Was this what pain was supposed to look like? Desperate and disconnected. Happening to someone else? An avatar of a person on a soundstage? Her eyes had grown heavy and just as the desperate female suitors were called in for judgment, consciousness left her.

“You have been chosen,” Susan heard the television drone from somewhere simultaneously inside of her head and far far away.

She slept comfortably on the couch until a noise woke her.

Knocking.

Susan searched the cushions of the couch and found the remote. She turned off the television and groggily wondered how she had been able to sleep in the first place with the thing turned up so loud.

Knocking.

Susan gasped despite herself and looked nervously around the darkness of her living room. She tried to make sense of what the noise could be. Where it could be coming from.

Knocking.

She turned her head toward the front door and could almost see the vibration of the last knock as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. She stood up and could feel her knees shaking as she rounded the corner of the sofa and approached the door. She stood for a moment, her toes teetering on the threshold like a diver ready to leap for a high dive.

Knocking.

Susan jumped. A scream fought to escape, but instead sat immobile and heavy in her chest.

She looked through the peephole and saw a small shadow.

A woman?

A small man?

No.

A child.

“Who is it?” Susan forced herself to ask.

Through the peephole, she could see the visitor perk up at the sound of her voice. The child moved its head closer to the door.

“May I come in?” The visitor said.

Susan started to unlock the door but thought better of it. She looked across her living room and saw that the digital clock on the cable box read 3:33.

“Where are your parents?”

The visitor cringed at the question, “gone. Just invite me in.”

Susan squinted through the peephole, desperate to see more of her late night visitor. She wanted to help, but something about the child at the door didn’t feel right. A sense of dread grew inside of her. Something dark. Something primal.

She watched the thing and noticed that is displayed no signs of desperation. No anticipation of her opening the door. Her eye still pressed to the peephole, she reached over to the light switch and flicked the porch light on.

The visitor recoiled. For an instant, it looked straight at Susan through the tiny peephole. She gasped when she saw the things face. It was a child, but its skin was pale and where its eyes should have been there were two large and glassy black orbs. Before Susan could react, the thing hissed like a vampire from an old movie and dove onto the sidewalk. She watched in disbelief as the child-thing scurried into the darkness on all fours, its knee and elbow joints jutting away from its body unnatural angles.

Susan gasped for air and when she felt a cold wetness on her cheek, she realized that she was crying. She felt as if something terrible had just happened to her. Some type of trespass. She tried to control her body, or at least to stop shaking. She walked up the stairs almost mechanically, moving not under the control of her mind, but of pure reflex or memory. She reached the top of the stairs and was shocked when she turned toward the room at the end of the hall that she would not enter. She approached the door to Michael’s room and opened it.

The space was just as he had left it months ago, maybe even a year now. She had felt so hollow since he had gone missing and found little import in the idea of time. She walked to his bed and laid down on it.

“What am I doing?” She pondered aloud, “am I losing my mind?”

She pulled the pillow to her nose and wept when she smelled the familiar scent of her son. Unconsciously, she curled into a ball and squeezed the pillow tight into her chest. The sorrow and the helplessness were too much. The remnants of her sanity leaked from her as freely as the tears on the cartoon pillowcase. Between her sobs, she heard something.

Knocking.

Susan got up and began to walk back to the front door, uncertain what she would do if the face of the child-thing was there to greet her through the peephole. As she neared the threshold of Michael’s room, she heard something else.

Knocking.

Not from the door, but from the bedroom window.

She paused and felt a rage growing inside. The thing could trespass against her house, but not here. Not Michael’s room; it was all she had left of him. She stomped across her son’s room and threw open the curtains.

Michael stared back at her through large black eyes. Everything about him looked the same save for the eyes.

“Michael!” Susan screamed.

“Invite me in, Mom,” Michael asked in the low sweet voice that she had come to miss so much.

The feeling of wrongness was back again, but she pushed through it. She reached for the window’s thumb-lock and slid the window open. She stepped back a few steps into the center of the room to allow her son room to drop down from the ledge.

He did and when his feet hit the ground, he rushed her. She could feel his arms embrace her as she wept tears of joy and fear.

“Come in!” Michael yelled.

From over her son’s shoulder, she could see others pouring through the open window, one with long hair, one with a hooded sweatshirt, and then the original visitor from the front door. She could feel the embrace growing stronger as each of the children approached her and Michael and wrapped their arms around them as well. She fell to her knees and then even further.

The embrace had gone quickly from comforting to crushing.

She struggled a little but then gave into it.

Susan found that she could not draw in another breath. She could feel the darkness closing in on her mind and managed to squirm enough to take one last deep breath. It wasn’t for air, but to breath in the scent of her missing son. Her Michael.

She looked into the black eyes of the thing that had been her son and smiled.

“I knew you would come back.”

Some of you out there may have noticed a new addition to my amazon author page. Whispers of the Wakinyan, the first installment in the ‘Things That Follow’ series, is LIVE in kindle format and will be available in print VERY SOON. By that, I mean that by the end of the week copies may be available for order from amazon.com and this website.

The original release date for Whispers of the Wakinyan was exactly one month ago today. As you may imagine, the publishing process is not all sunshine and roses. In fact, it is some-what arduous. That for me, at least, resulted in some late nights and last-minute frustrations. I found that Murphy’s Law was in full effect and that anything that could go wrong usually did. Even some of the things that initially went right turned out to be wrong later!

First, I want to touch on the importance of document formatting. In my opinion, if there is any chance that you think you may publish your work, please do yourself a favor and download a word template that has margins set to your desired print size. These may be downloaded for free from many writing sites out there (I got mine from createspace).

I had my 30 chapter 93,000 word tome primed and ready to go in a standard word format.

I uploaded.

I watched.

I cringed.

For my binding size I chose 6”x9”, which is a very popular size for main-stream trade fiction.

I am sure that you all know where this is going…

I would liken it to pouring a gallon of a milk into a pint glass and then watching helplessly as the milk continues to gush over the sides and run all over the counter. Knowing the whole time that your wife will be so mad at you when she has to clean it up.

Sorry, I couldn’t help that last part.

And to my wife: just kidding.

All of my main and sub-chapter breaks were sprinkled throughout the document and each time one was put into place another was pushed into chaos!  Maybe, I am being a little dramatic, but still, if I had worked with the intended margin size from the get-go this could have certainly been avoided.

Second, and this also pertains to the subject of planning a binding size, know how many pages the finished document will be with title pages, table of contents, blank pages in the front, etc… BEFORE starting cover creation. It may seem like a no-brainer, but format changes like mentioned before can drastically change your binding size, which will in turn affect the bleed area (this is the small area on the outer edges of the cover, where text or images may be distorted by the bleeding of printer ink) and overall dimensions.

How do I know about all this?

You guessed it. This was another delay that I encountered in bringing Whispers of the Wakinyan to print.

However, the end result is something that I am very pleased with and I am sure that you will all be as well.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this post and please like or comment if my pain and suffering has or may have saved you some grief in creating your own project!

Please keep an eye out for the official release date. It is looking like it may be Friday, April 7th!

Product Details

If you haven’t already, please follow my amazon author page:

RIGHT HERE!!

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I was fortunate enough to be part of an author meet and greet/book signing on Sunday, March 5th in my home town of Menifee, California. The turn-out was great and the level of support from the community was fantastic!

This is one of many photos provided by my good friend Michael Perez, a top-notch inland empire photographer behind fotohaus studios.

Check out fotohaus at http://www.fotohausco.com

He took some great photos of the event, which I will be sharing with you all as soon as they become available.

I would also like to offer a very special thanks to the handful of attendees that signed up to be beta-readers for the sequel to Whispers of the Wakinyan, the work is untitled as of now, but will be the second installment of the ‘The Things that Follow’ series.

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Things have been pretty crazy at the desk of Jim Gammill!

First off, my poem-novella, Not only the Dead is now offered both in print and as a kindle edition on amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/author/jimgammill).

Second, my novel, Whispers of the Wakinyan is in the final stages of editing and should be released in print and ebook formats this month! More announcements will be coming soon, and as a thank you for my loyal followers, I will be posting portions of the first couple of chapters here as a sneak peak of what’s to come.

The journey to see both of these books in print has been an interesting one to say the least and will certainly be the subject of upcoming blog posts.

For now, I would like to share an unfinished portion of the front cover and the back cover synopsis of Whispers of the Wakinyan with the subscribers of jimtgammill.com; I hope that you all like it and as always, thank you for reading!

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  Whispers of the Wakinyan

The Gordons are an ordinary family from Riverside, California. Hank, the family patriarch, is a level-headed accountant that has realized the American dream by marrying his high school sweet heart, Theresa, and happily raising their two children, Joey and Addie. Their lives were soon to be forever changed after witnessing a freak accident during a tour of The Grand Canyon. Upon return from their ill-fated vacation, the family finds itself the target of a malicious Native American spirit.

A haunting chain of events calls in a cast of unlikely allies for the family, all of whom must be ready if anyone is to survive the dark forces that stand against them.

But, as in all things: where there is darkness, there is light.

 

“Things Taken” is a feature length screenplay in which an award winning journalist and rape-survivor struggles to regain her sense of identity in the years following her attack. When a series of home-invasions becomes too bizarre for her detective boyfriend to handle on his own, she decides to assist in solving the case. As the two get closer to unraveling the mystery they are terrified to learn that the perpetrator may not be of this world.

Fear of woman victim of domestic violence and abuse (Shutterstock)

Fear of woman victim of domestic violence and abuse (Shutterstock)

Things Taken” is written in a lean and visceral style that allows the reader/viewer to be transported to both familiar and alien landscapes. The script also offers a unique perspective on what exactly may lie beyond the grasp of human consciousness while staying true to the basest human desires.

A green energy expert claims humans and aliens have made hybrids

The protagonist to “Things Taken” is a woman named SARAH who is searching for more than the outer story arc of the script suggests; she is determined to regain the strength and dignity that was taken from her by the murderous rapist that left her for dead. The abduction of her friend, MELINDA is the inciting incident that demands she face her inner demons in order to keep others from suffering her own hollowing fate. Her inner journey depicts a broken woman’s reclamation of life’s most important elements: feelings of safety, self-respect, and personal beauty.

It would make sense that the process of editing and finalizing would be the most drawn out and pain-staking to a group of individuals (writers and other creatives) that are traditionally self-critical and border-line paranoid about how their work may be received.

Yet, despite this unfortunate reality, editing and proofing is not only the best way to make a work stand out, but also for an author to transcend from amateur to professional. Many literary powerhouses have passed on their wisdom about the editing process and regardless of what they say or how they say it, the end result is generally the same:

Writing down your ideas is only the beginning!

or the ever-popular euphemism,

Real writing begins AFTER the first draft is complete.

For me, the thought of editing is no different. I feel the urge to tell another story the second I wrap up the one that I am working on. But, how fair would that be to the characters that inhabit the pages, the meters within the stanzas, or the themes shrouded beneath the webs of prose that we, as writers labor so hard to create?

The answer:

Not at all.

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Editing takes determination and patience, but the resulting drafts are far more rewarding than half-finished or open-ended manuscripts that are not just unsuitable for the market place, but questionable for even sharing with a friend or family member!

As some of my more regular readers probably know, I have just completed a close-to-final edit on my upcoming full length novel, The Legend of Thunderbird, Coyote, and Joey Gordon. The time spent in editing that beast could have allowed me to create a couple of smaller sized works from concept to print (or kindle), but like the ideas outlined above:

The end product was totally worth it!

To effectively end this post, I would like to leave you with a couple of my favorite editing quotes:

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

-Stephen King-

“I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.”

-Truman Capote-

HAPPY EDITING EVERYONE!