Sunday, February 24, 2013

"Entry To The Unknown" Excerpt

Please be aware that ALL of this writing is copyright protected as my own creative content, and NO PART of any post/story may be reproduced, copied or used in 

Copyright Suto Norbert,

Entry To The Unknown
copyright 2013, Brandi Kennedy


I knew I shouldn't touch the door.

The simple act of walking up to the building had covered me in gooseflesh, had created a shiver that ran up and down my body repeatedly as I walked the length of the gravel driveway. The building was old, so old and broken down that there was no hint to what it had once been. A house maybe, or a church; I couldn't say. The windows were crusted over with something I couldn't name, the walls grown up with ivy and other green things. But I couldn't seem to stop myself from turning into the driveway and climbing the rotted stairs of the porch.

Approaching the door, I shivered again, the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. I wanted to turn and run, but this was the first place I'd seen for nearly a day; the walk from my wrecked car had been long, lonely, and hot. I was hungry, thirsty, and covered in the dust of the gravel road I shouldn't have turned on in the first place.

"Stupid journeys," I muttered. "You and your stupid random journeys." I had always had a tendency to take random drives; turning into random country lanes. My happy place was an ancient graveyard; I always felt the most peaceful in a place where I could walk in the quiet of the dead. Still, once I'd touched and read all the stones of one old cemetery, imagining the lives and events of the people under the ground, I'd move on and search for the next place.

This had been one such journey. I'd seen the grass growing wild along the road, the gravel spread thin and heavily marred with dips and ruts, and I'd been both terrified and thrilled; I'd had to turn. I'd had to explore.

The deer leaping into the road had blown my composure, I'd cursed and swerved, losing traction in the loose gravel. My car had circled crazily, sliding over and molding itself to the trunk of a tree. Thankfully, it hadn't been the driver's side that was crushed, I was able to leave my car and walk along in hopes of finding help.

And now, here I was, standing like a shivering toddler on the doorstep of the local haunt. I took a breath to fortify myself, pressed my fingers down on the door lever, and listened to the eerie creak of the old wooden door as it swung heavily away from me.

"Hello?" I called, walking in. "Hello? Is anyone here?"

There was no answer, so I walked on, blindly feeling my way in the semi-darkness. A disconnected light slipped in through the nearly-covered windows; dappled and broken by the crusted glass of the windows. Motes of dust fluttered in front of me, and my mouth went dry, my breath coming in quick, ragged gasps.

There was a rustling noise; I froze where I stood, tuning in, listening for what I hoped was simply a rat.

"I am here."

I turned, my eyes working to see in the darkness. He had appeared as if from nowhere and I gasped as I took him in; the gasp morphed into a desperately strangled moan. His skin was as hard and broken as the bark of a tree, his body massive and horrifying. He had rested one giant hand on the wall for balance; it was obvious to me that his size was breaking him down.

"Who ... what ... are you?" I whispered, my throat burning with the scream that I was struggling to hold back.

"I am the guardian," he answered. His voice was like gravel, and as he spoke, woody bits and crumbles fell away from his face and neck, raining down upon the floor like a spill of dried rice. "And you are?"

"I, I, um," I stuttered, unable to speak clearly. Somehow, I couldn't seem to remember who I was; this made him smile.

"You are my freedom," he whispered roughly.

"Freedom?" I asked.

"Yes," he answered, his voice smoother than before ... somewhat more like mine. As he'd spoken, I'd begun to feel paralyzed, frozen in place. Raising my hand curiously, I saw that it had become much like his. In fact, I had grown taller, larger, thicker. As the transformation completed itself, the knowledge of my fate dawned on me, just as his knowledge abandoned him.

He looked at me, looked out of the face that had once been mine. He shrieked once, turning for the door, and then he was gone, and I was alone.

There is no need for conversation or explanation, for the change has brought with it everything I need to know. Now, I am the guardian, the next watcher of the entryway to the unknown.

So many of us walk around daily, terrified of life itself, terrified of what's around the corner. We go to bed terrified of tomorrow, we wake up in the morning afraid of the afternoon. We don't live, because we're too afraid of what might be; we're afraid of the unknown. And we're afraid for good reason, because too much knowledge is a curse, not a blessing at all. This is why there must be a guardian, this is why I am here; to protect the hungry from taking more than they can handle, to prevent the discovery of the unknown.

For some, fear of the unknown causes them to freeze, too afraid to move forward. For others, the fear of the unknown is like an irresistible challenge that cannot be ignored.

For me, there is no fear at all now, for there is nothing unknown to me. I am the guardian now, and it is my face that crumbles away like the bark of a tree as I grow older behind the crust of the windows. And now it is I who waits for another hungry soul to come and free me, free me from the entry to the unknown.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"In The Chapel" Excerpt

Please be aware that ALL of this writing is copyright protected as my own creative content, and NO PART of any post or story may be reproduced, copied or used without my permission in ANY WAY, ANYWHERE, at ANY TIME. Links to (and comments on) this post are always welcome.

© Roman Milert

In The Chapel
copyright 2013, Brandi Kennedy


I really never thought this could happen.

Walking down the aisle, I watched my satin-covered toes peek out and then disappear again under my dress. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride, I thought again to myself. The groom was disreputably handsome as usual, dressed in the dark suit he'd worn to the rehearsal days ago. His cheeks were smoothly shaven; his high cheekbones made him look proud and elegant. His slanted blue eyes looked through me just as they always had, and he peered beneath a shock of jet-black hair to see beyond me.

For a second, I ignored my sense of insignificance. I allowed myself to pretend that I was wearing the poufy white gown that my parents had bought my sister, and not the floor-length cocktail dress that they'd chosen for me. I allowed myself to pretend that I was walking toward my groom, toward my lover. I allowed myself, just for the moment, to pretend that I wasn't the ugly sister, the one who failed at sports and couldn't walk a straight line without falling over. The lone sister, the abandoned one. I allowed myself to pretend that someone could want me just as I was, with wild curls and sprinkled freckles, with small breasts and narrow hips, with too much gangly height and not enough graceful balance. I allowed myself to pretend that if someone could want me, they’d be able to do it long enough to put me in a poufy white dress.

Standing there at the altar, I took in the audience in a desperate attempt to avoid looking at my sister's almost-husband; I watched my mother dry her tearful eyes with the monogrammed handkerchief that had been her wedding gift from my father so many years ago. The music changed, the classic wedding tune beginning to ring out, and the chapel filled with the music. Everyone in the pew turned to gaze in curious wonder at the door my sister would be coming through, and I began to feel as if some royal princess were about to enter the world, a fairy full of grace and charm, a delicate and long awaited flower that would only open her petals the one time. A chorus of excited whispers broke out; my palms dampened as it rippled through the church and died down.

She appeared at the door – my sister, dressed in her finery with her beautiful hair gathered neatly into an elegant twist. She shimmered with hair jewels and the faux diamonds that twinkled at her wrist and throat. The halter neckline of the beaded bodice dipped to reveal the faintest, almost-modest peek at her ample cleavage; the sleek, smooth satin dipped perfectly into the curve of her waist before swinging gracefully out to form the bell shape of ballroom skirt. It should have been me, I thought. I was the older one. I had fallen in love first.


UPDATE: In The Chapel has now been edited and revised, and has more than doubled in length. The above is only a small snippet of the 2200-word story, the whole of which is now available exclusively to my Patreon supporters. To view this story and others like it, please support my writing here. (September 2016)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Next Big Thing Blog Hop!

I was chatting recently with an author friend (Lauren Dawes), and she pointed me toward a little blog hop going on called The Next Big Thing. It sounded like fun, I made some connections, and here I am - introducing all of you to my first experience with a blog hop.

To begin, I'd like to give another shout out to Lauren Dawes (author of the Half Blood Trilogy), who pointed me toward Michelle Turner (author of Reviving Bloom), who ended up tagging me to bring me into the hop. But first, the rules:

  • The "hop" requires me to answer ten questions about my book.
  • I'm also supposed to tag other authors to answer the same questions about their newest book. 

The great thing about this is that I get to get the word out on my work, I get to meet and work with other authors, and I get to show you the way to other authors who want you to check them out! So, let's get on with it, shall we?

Ten Questions About Fat Chance

1. Was Fat Chance always the title of this book, even when it was a work in progress?
Fat Chance was the title of this book right from the second the concept occurred to me. The moment Cass Keaton's story entered my mind, the title appeared alongside her. Sort of a play on words, which leads to the next question.

2. Where did the idea for the book come from?
I grew up in a small town, with a somewhat small family. We didn't have a lot of money, and most of us spent a good deal of time sedentary. As an absolute book addict, I probably spent more time than most kids sitting still with my nose in one book or another. Because of this, I grew up a bit overweight, and once puberty and hormones kicked in, my weight got more and more out of control. As a young girl, that led to many instances of injured ego, ruptured pride, and simple lack of self-confidence.

I like to think that I've improved greatly in that, and I'm thankful to be able to say most days I can look in the mirror with a grin and a wink at the woman looking back at me. Giving life to Cass Keaton was easy, because so much of who she is comes from my personal experiences.

3. What genre is the book?
The book is what I like to think of as a "classic" contemporary romance, which is what I tend to read most often and therefore, it is the "place" I am most comfortable, most myself, and most authentic.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in the movie?
For Cass, I'd love to see Kaycee Stroh, who is very nearly a perfect match for the way I imagine Cass to look. Another possible is Brooke Elliott, the actress from Drop Dead Diva. She's beautiful, she's sassy, and she looks the part. My first thoughts - who didn't fit Cass's description but are still remarkably beautiful in spite of (or because of) their larger bodies - included Queen Latifah, who has always been sort of my "fat girl" hero. I have always always loved the way she owns her body and her look, and I have never seen her as anything other than absolutely GORGEOUS. I thought of Kirstie Alley too (circa 2005), who is lovely in her own right and stands up so proudly to public scrutiny, which gives her the right personal experience to be Cass. Too bad she has blue eyes, like Melissa McCarthy, who also came immediately to mind. McCarthy is most known (to me) for playing Suki on Gilmore Girls, and she is truly a beautiful woman, full of energy and spunk and sass - just like Cass.

As for Drew ... I'd actually love to see Jackson Hurst in the part of Andrew Kingsley. He plays Grayson on Drop Dead Diva, and he looks almost exactly the way I imagine Drew to look. Other suggestions from fans were Jesse Metcalfe, Jared Padaleki, and Rob Morrow - but I think Jesse and Jared both look too young, and Rob Morrow is just ... not quite right for me.

5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Fat Chance: one woman's journey to self-acceptance and love.

6. Is the book self-published, or represented by an agency?
At this point, all of my books are self-published and likely to stay that way. I'm open to the idea of an agent and a contract at some point if one comes my way, but in the moment, I'm enjoying the experience of sort of being my own agent. I like the freedom of knowing that I'm in charge, and the only person my career needs to please is myself. Probably, it'll stay that way - I'm sort of a control freak when it comes to my writing, so I don't anticipate liking the idea of having a "boss."

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I'm not sure, really. Fat Chance was an idea for a while, but the actual writing started sometime around the end of December 2012, just after Christmas. By the end of January, the book was out - and that includes editing time, etc. So definitely not long.

8. What other books would you compare your story to, within your genre?
Well I'm not sure. I haven't read many books like this one, honestly. And so much of it was really drawn from my personal experiences.

9. What inspired you to write this book?
My personal history - growing up as an obese teenager, subject to the cruel things kids can say and the unconscious ways that family/friends can damage the confidence and self-esteem of a "big girl". As a heavy woman, some of that has not changed, but I like to think that my outlook has - and that I have learned more self-acceptance that doesn't depend on feedback from others. I want to be healthy, and like many women I'd love to be thinner, but for the most part I can now look in the mirror smiling. I have come a long way, and I'm closer than ever before to remembering on a regular basis that I am not the number on my scale.

10. What else about your book might peak a reader's interest?
Well, I think of Fat Chance so much as a personal journey for Cass; she spends much of the story batting her inner demons, facing the way society looks at her, and learning to deal with the negative way that she's learned to look at herself. But twisted into that plot line is a love story with a hot guy who is sweet and incredibly sensitive. And who doesn't love a love story?

And Now, To Tag a Few Other Authors So They Can "Hop" Too!
First up, we have Aurelia B Rowl, who writes contemporary romance and also YA fiction. She is all over the web and can be found at the following sites!

Next up, Jacinta Maree is also a YA fiction author! Go check her out at any of the following links!

Edited to add: You can now download Fat Chance for FREE!! Find out how to download the book from your favorite e-book market here. (May 2018)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Fat Chance Character Interview With Cassaundra Keaton!

Today I'm taking a break from the writing of Prescription For Love (book two in the Kingsley Series) to hang out with an old pal, Cassaundra Keaton, the main sweetie from Fat Chance (Kingsley Series, book one).

She's agreed to take some time out of her wedding preparations to speak with me, but we'll try to keep this quick ... this bride is a busy woman with lots of planning to finish!

So without further ado ... Cassaundra Keaton!
who walks in with a shy smile, dressed in her trademark wrap tunic & jeans

Brandi; Well, let's just start this at the beginning, shall we? I know you had what you felt was a good start in life, Cass. What was it like for you, growing up and watching your family sort of disappear?

Cass; It was definitely a low point in my life. I mean, I had a small family to begin with; both my parents were only children, and I was an only child. But we were a close knit group, and I felt very loved. I was always with someone who doted on me, and as a child, of course I loved that. It made it pretty hard for me to lose them all, though, especially because I was still so young, and it was difficult to find myself alone in the world.

Brandi; I can only imagine. Was it very difficult for you to adjust to the foster home system?

Cass; Honestly, it wasn't all that bad. Don't get me wrong, there wasn't a lot that was fun about it, you know, but I didn't have the kinds of terrible experiences some kids have.

Brandi; Foster care is also how you met the Keaton family, right?

Cass; Yeah. Janet and Jim took me in like I had always been there, and the twins have been amazing. I could have done without all the drama with Rick, though. I'm glad to say that seems to be all settled, at least for now.

Brandi; I have noticed, as I'm sure others have noticed, that you carry the Keaton name, at least until your marriage. Were you ever officially adopted?

Cass; Not really. By the time I made to the Keaton house, I was in my later teen years, and an official adoption can take time. So we just waited until after I was eighteen and I had my name changed then. Janet and Jim paid for it; they seemed to feel like that made it more official, and I liked that I could do it much sooner that way.

Brandi; How did the others feel about that? Rick and the twins, I mean?

Cass; Well Rick did it too. And the twins - they were thrilled to welcome us into the family officially.

Brandi; What about the switch from when you were an only child, into the foster system where you probably had a lot of other children in the house? Did you like the idea of siblings?

Cass; Growing up as an only child, I never really wanted siblings, but having Renee and Chelsea take me in as a sister really meant a lot to me back then.

Brandi; That's right, they'll be servings as bridesmaids for your wedding in Prescription for Love, won't they? (at this point, Cass gets a little sneaky grin on her face, and a rather suspicious twinkle in her eyes)

Cass; Yes, they will both be there.

Brandi; Let me ask you this, just because I'm curious. I had noticed you developing a little crush on your therapist, Dr. Caswell in Fat Chance. With Drew being a patient there also, it makes the doctor a good part of the reason that you and Drew ended up meeting. Is he invited to the wedding?

Cass; Yes, he is. In fact, I can see him sticking around for a while, especially if I have anything to say about it. (shocked, my mouth falls open, which makes her grin mischievously)

Brandi; Cass, you're getting married!! Are you still interested in Dr. Caswell?!

Cass; No, of course not. I have better plans for him. (this grin is becoming very ... Chesire cat-like.)

Brandi; Well, I confess, now I'm very, very curious. Are you playing matchmaker?

Cass; I wouldn't call it that, no.

Brandi; What would you call it then?

Cass; Um ... creative introduction?

Brandi; I see. And since it's clear you aren't ready to share any details about that just yet, let's move on. How do you feel about getting married?

Cass; You know, I really didn't see myself getting married. I was so down on myself for so long, and when I couldn't love myself, I'm not sure I'd have even been receptive to romantic love from someone else. In itself, that sort of puts a stop to the typical girlish hopes for the wedding scenario, and even if I had been dreaming of a big wedding all along, I knew a big beautiful wedding wasn't something I could pull of really - financially speaking. I think I just never saw myself as a marriageable woman.

Brandi; And how do you see yourself now?

Cass; I'm a lot more confident now, actually.

Brandi; Does that mean Drew gets the lingerie he wanted you to buy? (Thanks for asking, Jessica Johnson!) I distinctly remember him enjoying your curves under satin and lace ...

Cass; Too bad I can't show you the current contents of my sexy drawer. (she says with a wink)

Brandi; I take it Drew is satisfied then. How do you keep your confidence up on days when it wants to drop off?

Cass; Music has helped me a lot, and I still keep my power playlist tuned in to all my electronic devices.

Brandi; Your power playlist?

Cass; You know, the bunch of songs I listen to when I'm feeling down, music that picks me up and gets my mind back on the confident track.

Brandi; What songs do you listen to?

Cass; Well, my favorites right now are "Soar" by Christina Aguilera, and "Video" by India Arie. I crank them up so loud my ears hurt.

Brandi; Imagine that - I do that too!! So, where you do see yourself going in life, now that you've got this fresh new outlook? Has the change in confidence and personal image had any effect on your plans for the future? (Thanks for asking, Jenny Lynn Weyer!)

Cass; You mean other than opening me up to the possibility of love? Sure! I've even moved up a bit at work. But ultimately, we'd like to have children someday soon. I'd like to finish having children before I'm thirty, and my twenties are breezing by so I hope we'll be, uh, working on that after the wedding.

Brandi; Do you think you'll keep your job after having children?

Cass; We haven't really decided that yet. I think it will be more clear to us once that time gets nearer.

Brandi; With the way your grandparents died, and also your mother, do you feel any specific concerns for your health? And if so, are you taking any early steps to watch for or prevent certain things? (Thanks for asking, Dana Fetters!)

Cass; I am definitely watching. I have regular mammograms, and I am part of a program at work that advocates for breast cancer awareness. I also have been trying hard to watch my weight and increase my fitness, so that I can count on good cardiovascular health.

Brandi; What works for you, as far as weight loss and fitness activity?

Cass; Well, my sister Renee is in the process of buying into the yoga studio we both take classes at, and I've been running for some time too, which has helped a lot. There isn't a lot you can do to prevent dementia though, so I take a ton of vitamins and freak out a little every time I lose my car in a parking lot.

Brandi; And does that happen often?

Cass; Oh, here and there ... In fact, I can't remember where I parked today, which is bad since you have a small parking lot outside your building. Thank goodness, I'll see the car at a glace and I can pretend I knew where it was all along.

Brandi; I definitely hope that's not a sign of dementia, because I do it myself, all the time. So tell me this - are you afraid to have children, knowing that some of the bigger health concerns can be genetic? (Thanks for asking, Dana Fetters!)

Cass; If there's one thing I've learned, it's that there's no point living life timidly. I'm planning to have my babies and love them while I'm here, for however long that is. And I hope I am able to teach them the same philosophy.

Brandi; Okay, folks, that's all the time we have for today, but thanks for stopping in to get another glimpse at Cassaundra Keaton, straight from the pages of Fat Chance, book one of the Kingsley Series! For a closer look at her personality, and for a good look at her personal love story, you can find the book available for Kindle here!

(Update: this book is now live on all major platforms - and better yet, it's FREE! Find out where to get your copy here.)