A Teaser Trailer For The Last Child

For those who have been following a story I’m writing, I created a teaser trailer for it:

 

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What Fuels the Muse?

Click on image for link to the DIY MFA Book!

 

A thought-provoking question!  For Gabriela Pereira, author of the DIY MFA Book, she doesn’t believe in waiting on your muse to inspire your writing.

“I firmly believe that creativity isn’t something random that may or may not happen to us. I don’t believe in an uncooperative muse. Instead, I believe inspiration is something we make happen. Yes, there is something magical about creativity, but it’s also something we can harness, channel, even manipulate.”

So, how do I usually jump-start my muse whenever I need her?

*Music

*Walking/Exercise

*Daydreaming

Sometimes, I even do all three at once!  If I’m looking for a particular mood, I’ll select the type of music (via You Tube or Pandora) that fits the bill.  When I’m “blocked,” music or some form of exercise almost always work for me.  Other times if none of the above are successful, I’d take a short break and binge-watch a TV show in the genre I’m attempting to write.

What about you?  What fuels your creativity?

 

Author Interview: Huck Krueger

Today I have a special guest with us-author of several Science Fiction novels, Huck Krueger!

If you were to introduce yourself to a group of strangers, what would you say? 
I’ve told people that I’m a pilot and a writer. But since I put my plane away and don’t know if I’ll ever fly it again, I might say, “Hi. I’m Huck. I’m a writer and a former pilot.” Or I might leave out the word, ‘former,’ for now.

 

Tell us what first drew you to writing. 
Like most kids, I had fantasies, and I enacted them in my play. In my teen years, I still had those fantasies, though I didn’t play any of them out with toys or action figures. I started drawing cartoons and comics. But I knew I didn’t have any special skill at it and never assumed I’d sell any of my comic stories. Many of those comic stories and booklets are sitting in a box in my basement.From sixth grade through junior high, I was fortunate enough to have teachers who were enthusiastic about writing, and they had taught me the concepts of English grammar and writing basics. Then I ‘saw’ the ‘window’ to write my fantasies out in stead of trying to draw inept comics.I’ve thought that if I ever publish a big-time seller, I’ll dedicated it (my first book anyway) to my junior high English teachers.

 

What do you write?
I’m interested in science, especially astrophysics and aerospace.  So I write Science Fiction mostly, though I’ve dabbled in romance, contemporary and wartime settings. My science fiction is most often involving space travel or life on other planets. I don’t care for the pure fantasy involving the supernatural or spirits, or worlds and creatures that likely wouldn’t exist.

I read a lot of history too, but I shy away from writing stories in that genre because I worry about being historically inaccurate. With sci-fi there’s usually more suspension of belief. I can be ‘way out there,’ and feel comfortable that no one will definitively prove that what I write can’t happen.

 

You’ve just released a book (or two) this year, correct?  Can you tell us some about it (them)? Where can we find your books? 
My latest novels are a series about four crew-members who fly an Astral Research Vessel, or ARV, throughout the galaxy to study stars and nebulae. The crew consists of two men and two women. My main character, Miles Wendel, is the pilot of their ship. Tana Vargas is their engineer and bio scientist. Li Keung is their astrophysicist who mans their science equipment. And Cassie Nystrom is their captain.

Their ship is ‘sustained’ by force fields and is often invisible. Only the objects and equipment they access or touch become visible. If someone wants privacy, say in his or her quarters, then the walls will appear, usually throughout the living compartment of their ship.

Their ship is capable of ‘bypassing the speed of light’ by what I’ve termed, ‘Hyper Sub-dimensional Transition (HST),’ which means they enter alternate dimensions of space/time and fly a ‘shorter’ distance to their destinations.

Of course, at their destinations, they encounter adverse situations. In each of the four stories I’ve conceived so far, they’ve encountered extraterrestrials as well as ‘external conditions’ which complicate their struggles.

I’ve published the first two books in this series which I call, Voyages of the Altair. I named their ship Altair after the star in the Aquila constellation. Its name means ‘Flying Eagle.’ I thought it was appropriate.  Each book has a main title, and so far, I’ve titled them after the star or nebula where the plot takes place.

The first book is WR104, which I published in June, 2017. On their maiden voyage we find them near the unstable blue star, identified by astronomers as WR104. The second book is M42, which I published in November, 2017. The crew is assigned to fly through and study the famous Orion Nebula (M42). I’ve finished the first draft of the third story, Eta Carina, and I’m currently writing the fourth, with a working title of, M54.

Information about these books and links to purchase them, along with my other books, can be found at my website, huckkruegerauthor.com. One can also find them via Amazon. Nook and Kindle versions are available.

 

What seems to be the recurring theme(s) in your stories? 
Space travel and extraterrestrials are what I write about most, because they give me so much ‘room’ to create and work out ideas. I like to note that most of my aliens are not evil aliens out to destroy humanity or Earth. They have their faults, but I often have them interact and cooperate with my human characters.

 

How do you get into the minds of your characters? How do you come up with various settings? 
I usually use the ‘closely attached’ third-person point of view, and usually choose one main character to do it in each story. To clarify, the story is shown through the view of one person–only things he/she knows is told. Though, I try to imagine what each character thinks, sees and feels, so I can have them interact in a believable fashion. Sometimes while writing, as an excuse to get up and move around, I’ll physically act out a scene to get the concept and figure out how characters would respond.

Many of my story ideas have come from a topic in science I happen to be studying at the time. I try to construct a story with that aspect of science involved.  I came up with one story after I read about Jupiter and its moons and the forces at play between them. In the story I explain the basics of Jupiter’s ‘plasma torus’ and how it affects the electromagnetic fields around the four moons. Then I ‘stretched’ the science and went beyond to create a plot for the main two characters.

Another idea came from combining two news stories. Back when the influenza virus was ravishing through the world, I had that story rolling through the back of my mind when I read about UFO abductions.  I combined the two into a plot of aliens abducting someone and mistakenly allowing their victim to contract one of their diseases. After they set him/her free, the disease spread rapidly. The result was a pandemic that wiped out hundreds of millions. I created a story about an astronaut woman whose family had died from the disease.

In my new series, Voyages of the Altair, I’ve been reading about dark matter and dark energy, and worked the plots around the idea of living beings made of dark matter and energy.

 

How valuable is being in a writing group for you? 
It turns out that the writing groups have been very valuable. Since the late 1990s, I had let my story writing go dormant. I had only dabbled with poetry and some articles and essays from that time until the local retired fire chief invited me to check out the local writers’ group in November, 2006. That group identifies itself as the Lake Region Writers’ Group. There was another group that met in Willow City, called the Prairie Rose Writers.

They ‘prompted’ me to rekindle my story writing. While I worked on an old story and wrote new ones, the Prairie Rose group, who had collaborated with our group on an anthology, ‘recruited’ me to assemble and publish the work.  After learning the processes of self-publishing, I decided to ‘join the ranks’ of the other two in our group who had self-published their own works. After learning about what I did to publish the anthology, one of the Prairie Rose writers has now self-published one or two books.

 

When you’re not writing, where would we usually find you?
Outside of my job, which is custodial and maintenance at the local college, I’m often at my computer studying a science or history subject, or communicating with someone, or just entertaining myself. Otherwise I might be working in my shop in the garage or doing some chores or repairs around the house, and in the summer times I often worked on or flew my ultralight plane.

 

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles facing writers today? 
Writers today still face the usual problems any writer has such as writer’s block or deciding how to compose an article or story. In the business realm of literary jobs and publishing one’s work, I don’t know how much competition one faced in the past. But now-a-days writers will find a lot of competition.  The major traditional book publishers and major magazines receive tens of thousands of submissions in a year. Getting noticed will often be through luck.

An ‘outlet’ for many writers has been via the internet, which includes blogs and self-publishing. Writers of blogs, ezine articles/stories, self-published books, or other digital compositions can get their ‘foot in the door,’ if their piece catches the eye of a major publisher. Publishers sometime notice when a piece gets thousands or millions of views or sales. They might approach the author(s) and offer a proposal.

 

Any additional comments or advice you’d like to add for our readers?
Off hand I can’t think of any advice or tips that haven’t already been mentioned or posted somewhere.

 

 

 


 

About the author…

Huck lives in Devils Lake, N.D. with his wife, Linnea. He graduated Cando High in 1982, and in 1989 received a B.A. with a major in English, a minor in Computer Science, and a concentration in German from MSU-Minot.  You can find his science fiction titles atKindle and Nook.

 

How I Became a Writer

 

***Would you like to join in this virtual Book Club?  Click here.

 

Becoming a writer (for me) didn’t happen overnight; but, the seeds were planted at an early age.  As a young kid, I felt different, acted different, and was treated different.  Why? Because of my inability to communicate with the world around me.  In fact, my Kindergarten teacher approached my parents to have me pulled from school as I was deemed as “unteachable.”

This all occurred during the mid-1970s in rural upstate New York.  My parents had just spent two years taking me to various specialists all across the state as well as Vermont; but, no one could definitively find what was wrong with me.  In the end, they told my parents that I had behavioral issues which should be directed at a psychiatrist.

Faced with one school unable to teach me, they decided to have an audiologist, Aubrey, to check me out as a second opinion.  She discovered that I had moderate hearing loss in both ears (over 65% loss) due to nerve damage.

After being fitted with hearing aids, I spent the next two years attending speech therapy in an effort to get me “caught up” as I was quite behind in speech development.   School was still a challenge not just in learning; but with having friends.  As a loner with maybe one or two good friends, I spent much of my free time with imaginary friends and creating various scenarios and settings for myself.   The only thing these tend to get me in trouble; one time it actually landed me in the ER!

In 5th grade, a classmate challenged a bunch of us to a contest to see who could write the scariest story.  I concocted one about a girl going into an old house and discovering a decapitated head in a fridge.   Everyone seemed truly unnerved by that one.  🙂

Just watching everyone’s reaction to my story made me feel good about myself for once; like I was actually good at something.  I also found that writing enabled me to bring the stuff I had in my head to life on a piece of paper.  Not to mention that it was much safer!

This one experience planted the seed within me to become the writer I am today.

 

What about you?  How did you become a writer?

 

Rom-Com Genre: Is It Dead? (Poll)

The Last Child (Part Four)

 

As soon as the toboggan halted, the front door swung wide

and out bounded an elder woman, her hair as white as the snow;

but it was the smile that warmed her the most

for it reminded her of a mother she once had.

 

“Land sakes, Micah!  Get that child inside before she freezes!” The woman said.

“Yes, Ma’am” He replied with a grin.

 

In moments, she found herself in a plush sofa before the roaring fire

and a bowl of hot soup in hand.

 

“You must be exhausted, child.” Mrs. Claus said as she sat beside her.

 

Her mouth full of broth and vegetables, she only nodded.

“We’ll have you in a cozy bed in a jiffy.  It’s Christmas Eve you know.  All the children must be asleep before he can arrive!” Her grey eyes sparkled.

She swallowed before asking, “there are other kids here?”

The woman’s smile softened as she reached out to push a stray strand of hair from the girl’s cheek, “Oh, yes! And you will be meeting them all tomorrow.”

 

“Everything’s all set, ma’am.” Micah’s voice drifted from somewhere.

“Thank you, Micah. I’m sure Nick will be by tomorrow to see you.”

“I look forward to it.  Good night, and Merry Christmas ladies.”

She turned around in time to see the door to the outside closing.

He was gone, and suddenly she felt sad.

 

“Don’t you worry, child. You will see him again soon.”

 

As promised, the woman had her tucked in a large fluffy bed a short time later.

“Drink up this hot cocoa, dearie. It will help you sleep.” Mrs. Claus handed her a tea-cup sized mug which she downed in one gulp.

“I don’t like to sleep.” She said as she laid her head on the pillow.  “Bad dreams.”

The woman caressed her forehead.  “You will have no such dreams tonight.”

 

True to her words, the first thing she saw once her eyes closed were flying reindeer with Micah leading them.

 


 

Interested in seeing this story in a video format?  Click here!

#IWSG Best Ways To Start a First Draft?

Click on the image to access this group’s official page

This month’s question: What steps have you taken to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

 

For the past few years I’ve managed to keep a schedule of some kind for blogging.  This year, since I desire to convert a screenplay into a novel, I feel I need to set up a schedule for that as well.  Just figuring out the how part.

I joined a Facebook group, Finish Your Novel, a project really that’s dedicated to doing just that-finishing a novel.  It’s my hope that this group will help keep me accountable and moving forward throughout the year with my book.   I’ve been a writer for a number of years with short works published;  I’m ready to take the next leap to being a published author.

I think about setting aside three days each week to devote solely to writing the first draft.  Will probably do it chapter by chapter.  The challenge will be how to best incorporate the flash-back scenes since they will take place throughout the novel.  Also to keep me going forward, I plan to set a daily (or maybe a weekly one instead) word count goal that I can track via Word as well as a spreadsheet.

Now, the next question is–should I start by planning out the book (character development, outlining the story line/subplots, etc.) or just jump right in and start rewriting the story from the screenplay?

Hmm…

 

 

Story Saturday: The Last Child (Part Three)

 

Thick fur blanket cradled her body

in the long wooden sled

as they silently sped along

in the deep snow.

 

Micah stood behind her on the edge of the runners

while he guided the half-dozen dogs in front

white flakes filled the air with the wind whistling in her ears

rugged mountains loomed on the sides

blocking her view of the sky.

 

“We’ll be in Nordpolen soon.” Micah said “Just keep looking ahead and you’ll see it.”

 

It felt like they were gliding through a dark tunnel

but as she peered ahead, speckles of light slowly appeared

and suddenly they broke out in to an expansive opening;

there lied a village nestled on the banks of the immense mountains

which ran along the shores of a mirrored lake,

the lights from the buildings shimmered on its surface;

the sight made her gasp out loud.

 

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Micah said.

“Oh, yes!” She replied.

“You’ll be staying at Saint Nick’s tonight.”

 

Instead of remaining on the main route, they veered off on a smaller trail

which took them through a dense forest;

for several moments, fear shook her body

as she watched moving shadows among the trees.

 

“You have nothing to fear.” He said.  “I won’t let anything harm you.”

She took deep breaths until her muscles relaxed, and heart slowed.

“Look, we’re here.” He said.

 

She glanced out and saw the wondrous sight;

stone walls cloaked by fresh snow, all lit up in white lights

revealed the way to a large rustic lodge

its front nothing but glass

in the center, an enormous decorated Christmas tree.

 

“Welcome to the Christmas Lodge.” Micah smiled.

 

 


 

Missed the previous two parts?  You can read them here!

Part One

Part Two

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Child (Part Two)

 

Nestled in the back of the sleigh, she heard

the jolly man called his reindeer by name

as they glided off the roof-top

and gave way to flight in the dark snowy sky.

 

Such a strange sensation

floating high in the air where peaceful quiet reign

leaving behind death and memories

of a life she once knew

now finished.

 

She sniffled but swore to not look back

in fear she’d break down in full-blown tears

and scare the good chap off

for sure.

 

“Look ahead, child.” The red cheeked man said. “A new life awaits you on the other side of the moon!”

 

Stare ahead she did at the bright orb with strange pot marks

’till its’ light completely immersed the sleigh

and in the next instance, she realized the moon

shifted from the forefront to their rear.

 

Once the sleigh touched ground

she saw a new landscape extend all about her

with snow-capped mountains and the glistening meadow

where a wooden toboggan waited.

 

“Micah will take you to my village, child.” The saintly fella said with a great smile.

 

With a wave, she watched as his sleigh flew away

feeling suddenly alone and naked

in a land strange and distant.

 

“Do not be afraid, child.”  a kind voice spoke.

 

She looked and saw a man with golden hair,

his gentle blue eyes met her brown ones

she gave a nod, and climbed in the sled

and off they started, on to her new life

what ever or wherever that may be.

 


 

 

To read Part One, click here.

Another Year Is Ending

 

In review…

Now that’s Christmas is over it’s time to focus on the New Year.   2017 was a fairly good year overall both personally and as a writer.

I saw a few of my writings published:

The Hungry Chimera Literary Journal (two poems)

Doll Hospital Journal  (essay)

Motionpoems, Inc (film credit/interviewed both poet & film-maker)

Piker Press (poem)

 

I took on a role as a moderator (in a team of four) for Tuesday Serial; as well as a moderator for the weekly THURSDAY TALK SHOP over at Facebook with We PAW Bloggers (of which I plan to step down to a lesser role for the coming year).  I’ve created and am trying to grow (hopefully to add a few volunteers to help) Serial Fiction Digest (Twitter, Facebook, blog).

Looking ahead…

2018 is looking to be a year of crossroads for me as a writer.  I plan to work on a romance (clean) novel as well as continue to plan out another.  In the past, I’ve focused mainly on flash fiction, poetry and serial fiction.  I will continue with these forms, but gradually shifting some of my attention/time to writing a book-length story.  My goal is to be not just a writer, but an author.

I will be taking on a role as a citizen journalist for The Crossover Alliance (a Christian publishing company) of which I am very excited about.

 

What about you?  How was 2017 for you as a writer?  Have any specific goals for the new year?

(for each comment, I will stop by and read your most recent blog post! 🙂 )

 

#WEPFF December Challenge: With Every End There Is A New Beginning

 

Below is my poem for #WEPFF December Challenge- The End is the Beginning

Enjoy!

 

 

 

The End…

for all things, there is a season

this we’ve been taught

though we rarely dwell on

until it’s standing

dauntingly, devastatingly

before us

 

 

To let go…

the hardest of all to do

of those we love, cherish

for the heart, the flesh,

pain is undeniably real

as the knife

 

 

Look…

to the horizon,

the sky ablaze with vibrant morn colors

and remember, that for every night

there is a dawn,

and a time for new beginning

 

 

All that’s required of us

is not giving up

for the night will end

as any season

and with a new day,

healing and hope

Story Saturday: Santa-Zombie Story

Nearly a year passed since the start of the undead plague

she’s been on her own since

in an empty house, in a not-so-empty neighborhood.

 

 

Christmas Eve

she decorated the dead tree with handmade ornaments

made from cereal boxes;

took the last can of Spam as her treat for the white bearded man

and placed the plate on a table beside the sofa.

 

 

With a bat in hand, and the sounds of death rattling at the front door,

she fell asleep on the dusty furniture

in front of the cold, stoned hearth.

 

 

Rustling sounds awoke her

with a great start,

as she swung the bat through air,

a voice sounded,

a voice so beautiful and warm

it caused her eyes to sprang open;

bewildered, stunned

she stared at the not-so-frightful sight.

 

 

A chubby man dressed in a red suit

stood before her;

she blinked and swinted

thinking she’d died already or just dreaming

but saw that this was no dream

Santa,

he was really real!

 

 

He held out his hand,

“Come, let me take you to a wonderful place.”

 

 

In a blink of an eye, she found herself

on the roof-top

where a sleigh and eight reindeer stood waiting.

 

 

Santa, beside her now, smiled;

a smile she’d thought never would form on her lips again,

she returned with glee.

 


 

Note: This story has been renamed to “The Last Child” and a video portion of this story can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s the Apocalypse! Contest Winner

 

Over at the WritersCafe.org, I recently ran a contest called, It’s the Apocalypse!

First placed winner had the option to see their story turned in to a video which she opted for.   I’m sharing her winning story in video format below:

The Silence is Temporary by Lyssa

 

 

 


 

 

I’m running one other contest over at WritersCafe.org where the winning item will have the option to see their story turned in to a video like above.  If you’re interested, just click in the image below!

Winter Tales

Deadline: December 31st

Writing: Would You Do Things Differently If You Could Go Back In Time?

Click on the image to access this group’s official page

 

This month IWSG question is: if you could backtrack and do things differently as a writer, would you? 

 

Wow, this is a loaded question.  One I have pondered on and wondered about from time to time.  Who hasn’t?  Especially now that I’m in my mid (ish) 40s, this question keeps popping up in my mind.

My first inclination is to say “Yes!”

I’d have attended SUNY Potsdam (only) majoring in Journalism instead of bouncing around at least six different colleges and ending up with a degree in Physical Education (which I barely used).

As a journalist, I would have traveled the world.  In this reality, I’ve only visited one other country…Canada.

Perhaps I’d even started my own magazine or newspaper company.  Or, maybe even branched off into the publishing industry and became an editor or something.

And just perhaps I’d ended up living in Boston (one of my fave cities) where I’d pen my first and break-through novel that landed me on the New York Times’ Bestselling List.

If I’d done all the above, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

As a writer.  As a poet.

A mother.

A wife.

Living on a small farmstead in eastern North Dakota of all places 🙂  Writing full-time at home.

I’m richly blessed.  I don’t think I would give this life up to relive it as a different person.  It’s nice to dream about it, but that’s it, just a dream.

I like this reality better.

What about you?  If you had the opportunity to go back and do anything differently as a writer, would you do it?

 

 

 

Writing: Short Story Writer = Better Novelist?

 

—————————————————————————————————————————-


The next chapter for the interactive story is coming soon!

 

I’m currently working on the next chapter, and hope to have it LIVE in the next few days!

 

Thankful Tuesday

 

Hard to believe that it’s nearly Thanksgiving (US).  Where has the year gone?  Since I may go “quiet” here for the next few days, I’d like to list some of the things I’m thankful for.

First, the usual:

*Family

*Faith

*Friends/Community

Without any of these, I would not be where I am today.

 

Next, the more contemplative ones 🙂

  1. I am so grateful to be living in the rural country now instead of the city.  Here, my anxiety level has dropped dramatically, and I feel that my life has been more enriched and healthier.  I love seeing my son reveling in the freedom to play outside and not worry about various dangers.
  2. Here I can immerse myself in nature and the seasons which all fertilize my imagination, and allow me to create more abundantly.  No booming rap music next door.  No noisy traffic outside our front door.  No fighting neighbors over POA regulations.  Just peace and quiet.

Also…

 

My struggles fuel my writing.   They enable me to be a more compassionate and empathetic person.  To be more thoughtful of others.  They also help in creating more realistic characters.

In other words,

 


 

The next chapter of the interactive story will post on Friday!

December 1st!

Here are the two previous chapters:

A Snowy Reunion  (chapter one)
A Catch-Up Affair  (chapter two)

 

Story Saturday: The Old Tumbleweed Ferris Wheel

 

The Old Tumbleweed Ferris Wheel

 

Ferris wheels I used to enjoy

until I met Tumbleweed

strapped in cages

spinning in all directions

while the wheel turned

clockwise

Then sudden it stopped

leaving my brother and I

hung upside down

at twelve o’ clock

The strap across my laps

had come undone

now literally dangling

 untethered

To ease our nerves

we sung

You lost that loving feeling

till the cage reached

six o’ clock

Needless to say

I never rode another

Ferris wheel

since that day

Thursday Thoughts: On Writing Life

 

Back when I worked full-time in the Banking industry, I used to complain how I never had enough time to write.  I’d get up each weekday morning by 4am to get myself ready first, and then get hubby and son up before hitting the road by 5:45am for over an hour’s drive (in 35 miles) into downtown Raleigh.  I’d work 7am till 6pm (most days).  By the time dinner and homework are done, it’s easily 9pm and by that point, I’m ready to crawl in bed.   Weekends were usually reserved for catch-ups, house chores, and errands.  I’d managed maybe an hour of writing time each week.

Now?

With being “retired’ from the work force (am only 46) due to disabilities, I have loads of free time on my hands.   I’ve discovered, though, I waste a lot of time doing pretty much “nothing.”

Nothing being spending way too much time on social media, and watching internet-stream tv shows and movies.  Well, these were what I was doing for the past year and a half before depression hit me hard.

Or, perhaps mid-life crisis?

I found myself looking back, and wondering what did I have to show for being here on this world?  I really didn’t find a career I enjoyed (long story) so ended up in the Banking industry for the last 15 years of my working life basically as a glorified paper-shuffler.

Family put aside, I had nothing tangible.

I wanted more.  I desired to leave a legacy.

At this point, I’ve published several short stories, essays, and poems; but 99.9% are online magazines.

I now want more.

Something solid, concrete.  Something I can hold in my hands.  And smell.

This means I need to get serious, and smart with my time management.  I figure a way to start doing that is by tracking every word I write.

Daily.

This means less time with social media and other forms of entertainment.

I value my writing gift, and feel I have at least one book within me, enough so that I need to start valuing my time more than I’ve done in the past.

So, this is where I’m at in my writing life.  At a cross-road, and I’ve decided on the path to take.  Now, let’s see where it takes me.

Got to love adventures, eh?  🙂

What about you?  Where are you at in your writing life?  Are you happy with it?  If not, what changes could you make?

 

A Catch-Up Affair (Interactive Story Continues)

 

Chapter Two

 

 

The four-some now seated in chairs around the large oval oak table as the waiter retrieves the menus.

“I will get your orders in.” And the short black man walks away.

Julie’s brown eyes carefully study the faces around the table as she slowly sips at her wine. “So, Brad,” and turns them solely to the man sitting to her right, “What on earth have you been up to since I last saw you?”

Brad grins as he leans back. “Nothing exciting.  Just work.”

“Doing what?”

“Integrated marketing.”

“Marketing, huh?” She purses her lips, “For whom?”

“Altvision Communications.” He replies as he bit into a breadstick.

“Wow, one of the four media giants.” Her smile widen as she fingers her glass.  “You must be one of the lowly assistants working his way up the career rung by now.”

He chuckles, “Hardly. Try the Director of the Marketing Department.”

“Di-rec-tor…my heavens, that’s a far cry from being a lab rat with Dalton Co-Op.”

“A lab rat?” Eddie’s hazel-green eyes sparkle as he stares at Brad across the table.

Brad lets out a laugh, “That’s Julie’s way of calling any desk clerk who worked for Dalton back in the day.”

“They were directly responsible for polluting all the lakes upstate which cost taxpayers well over a billion dollars.”

“And you don’t feel the least bit guilty for forcing them out of business and driving hundreds of people out of work?”  Brad asks, the smile now gone.

“What they were doing was criminal, and it was my job to expose them.” Julie’s eyes now slits.

“Yeah, well, the timing couldn’t have been worse.” Brad grabs another breadstick. “You could have at least waited until after Christmas to break the story.”

“Are you a reporter?” Eddie’s interest now piqued as he focuses on the curly red head between Brad and Laura.

Julie shrugs, “Yeah, a crime beat reporter,” and takes another sip of the red wine.

“You don’t sound very enthused.” He says.

“It’s a job.”

“Don’t let her fool you, Ed.” Brad points a half-eaten breadstick at his friend. “Journalism’s in her blood just like her father, and her grandfather.”

“I see.” Eddie drinks from a bottle of beer. “A generational legacy that you don’t seem to relish much of.”

“It comes natural, and it made sense at the time.” She says.

“Writing comes natural to Julie all right.  Did you know she’s also a published author?” Laura smiles at Julie who frowns back.

“Oh, really?” Brad says, “What do you write?”

“Guilty pleasure.  Let’s not make a big deal out of it.” Julie replies.

“She writes horror.” Laura answers for her friend.

“A crime beat reporter slash horror writer.  Wow, never saw that one coming.” Brad sneers.

“Whatever.” Julie flicks her long hair off her shoulders and turns to face Eddie. “What of you?  Let me guess, an international spy?” She asks in a leering tone.

“You’re not too far off the mark.” Eddie replies. “I’m a freelance Threat Analyst.”

“What the heck is that?” Julie’s nose crinkles at him.

“Mainly I hunt the web for any malicious activities, and put a stop to them.”

“That sounds–interesting I suppose.” Julie says.

It was Eddie’s turn to laugh as he drinks more of the beer. “Oh, it can get very interesting.”

“What about you, Laura?” Brad asks.

Laura leans forward as she studies the flickering candle at the table’s center which casts shadows across her fair face. “I’m currently doing my Forensic Pathology Residency at North Peak’s Regional Medical Center.”

“Fascinating.  We have a budding doctor with us.” Brad smiles at her.

“You did it.” Eddie says. “You’ve accomplished one of your dreams.” His warm smile causes Laura’s cheeks to color.

“It’s still a work in progress, but yeah, I’m getting there.” She returns his smile.

His expression then grows more somber. “I’m sorry I haven’t kept in touch. I never meant to leave like that.”

Laura shrugs, “You had a family emergency that required you to leave the country.  Besides, it was for the best.  For us, anyway.”

Eddie nods. “You’ve always been so understanding, Laurie.  You deserve someone to be equally so.”  His accent now more pronounced.

“Oh my, here’s our dinner!” Julie blurts out as the waiter came to their table with a tray full of food.  “I’m starving!”

 

End of Chapter Two

 

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