Author Confessions, Day Six

What word do you use way too much?

Haha, well, if you ask my kids this (and I have) they will say the S  or the F word. I guess that wins me no Father of the Year award. 🙂

In writing, I don’t know if I have a single overused word, that might be a question for my editor. I have recently been told that the word ‘tomfoolery’ frequents my writing…



Author Confessions, Day Five

Describe your main character in three words.

Wendy is the main character in Only the Dead Go Free. She is both the protagonist and the narrator of the story. If I had to describe her in three words, they would be:

Broken, Mother, Fierce

WHOOPS, released this one a little too early. This is tomorrow’s post. Oh well 🙂




Author Confessions, Day Four

How did you choose your genre?

In general, I don’t have a genre – I enjoy reading and writing in most, although I do tend to gravitate more to the unusual in both cases. That can mean Horror, Adventure, SciFi, or Fantasy – the four cornerstones of what I see my future writing as being.

For my upcoming horror short, Only the Dead Go Free, it seemed the right way to go. The anthology I wrote it for had a requirement that there had to be a ghost in it, but no genre requirement. In fact, the publisher said they wanted to see all other genres – comedy, romance, etc. Back in April 2016, when I chose this story (based on a song of the same name), it was because I hadn’t written a horror story yet, and felt this anthology was the place to start. Horror is one of my four cornerstones, after all 🙂




Author Confessions, Day Three

How many WIPs (Works in Progress) do you have?

Too many – fifteen, to be exact.

Here they are in the order I expect them to be finished by (all titles and wording subject to change):

Only The Dead Go Free – Horror Short – A woman confronts the horror that has tormented her most of her life for one last time. Again.
The hiss of the shower behind me competes with the roar of the fire raging down the hall. Breathless and without thought, I stare with lifeless eyes into the bathroom mirror. This gore-drenched nightmare of a witch is no longer recognizable as me. What have I done? What was the lesson here? I never wanted this. The questions bubble up like water-borne carcasses until I hear his final words thunder in my head. “Only the dead go free” he had said, right before he –

The Snow Bride – Fantasy Short – Ajir was only looking for creature comforts when he stopped by the Tsas Ber Tavern after months of working in the mines. He found much more than that.
The icy wind outside screeched and wailed like a banshee seeking to devour children’s souls. Frosted windows rattled in their frames so hard the glass threatened to shatter. The camels and horses tied to the posts in front of the Tsas Ber Tavern whickered and spit their displeasure at being left exposed in such inhospitable weather.

Waves – Historical Military Short – A young woman witnesses a major tragedy first hand and eventually helps return the favor.
Marcia was walking to McKinley High School, lost in thoughts of boys when the planes roared overhead. At first, they barely registered. Her father Jack was an Aviation Mechanic at the nearby Naval Base, and there always seemed to be planes around. Something was different this time, though, these engines sounded off somehow. She shaded her eyes from the morning sun and squinted up at the planes flying towards the base. Textbooks tumbled from her hand and into the dirt when she recognized the large red dots encircled by white on the green wings and fuselage.

Thankful – Dramedy Short – A young man experiences a string of unfortunate events while working at a retail establishment late on Thanksgiving night.
I’m thankful that I haven’t lost my mind. This obese woman with the fatally aromatic halitosis is screeching in my face about the price being off by a bank-breaking fifty cents. Her vile spittle mists my glasses. The vapid lady behind her is chattering away in some foreign language at a thousand miles an hour on her smart phone. Her snot-nosed brat pilfers candy from the shelf, putting half-eaten chocolates back before grabbing more. The snakish line of mindless sheeple is reminiscent of the cars in line for gas back in the seventies. This, on the day we are to express thanks for our loved ones and the possessions we already have, these lobotomized lemmings practically eviscerate each other to get the latest, shiniest must-have at a reduced price. It isn’t Friday quite yet, but the Blackness is already here.

The Letter – Historical Military Romance Short – After purchasing a file cabinet at an estate sale, a man finds a letter the previous (and deceased) owner had written but never sent to his estranged lover, and discovers his most sinister secret as well.
I’ve written you more times than I can count, every letter crumpled and tossed in the general direction of the wastebasket in the corner. There’s no point in sending them when they all boil down to “I’m sorry, I miss you.” If reading those words gouged holes in your heart anywhere near as deep as the wounds writing them ripped into mine, sending these letters would be just another selfish act on my part. I think you’ve had enough of those.

Phil – Low Fantasy Novella – Melissa Brown’s struggling beauty salon has a string of unusual incidents after acquiring a new plant from a mysterious stranger.
The seagulls were too busy squabbling with each other over the dead and dying caterpillars that littered the parking lot to notice the coppery eyes in the bushes watching them. As silent as a shadow, the red fox took slow, slinky steps out of the shrubbery and towards the feasting birds, ears forward, tail straight out, eyes never leaving his prey.

The Cleansing – Horror Short – Sometimes the worst monsters are human.
Technically speaking, the first time I took someone’s life I was eleven. I don’t count that as part of my Cleansing, though, as it wasn’t intentional, not really. Sure I pushed her on the tracks, but if she hadn’t gone back for her bag, the train wouldn’t have gotten her. Still, I’m glad that it did. That bitch had it coming. She was mine. All that talk about not liking me that way was just her fear of being different. She sure didn’t stop me the first time I kissed her.

Piecing Myself Together – Nonfiction Biography Short (cowriter)- After a devastating accident which cost his friend his life and almost took away his own, a man must figure out how to put all the pieces back together again, in almost every sense of the phrase.

Awakenings – YA Low Fantasy Novella – Middle-school children in a small town begin to develop unusual abilities – but not the ones they want, and at a cost. Developing with my eldest daughter.

Delectable – Horror Novella – Nobody noticed when the homeless began to disappear off of the Las Vegas streets. They did notice the new celebrity chef in town, serving up his Michelin-rated dishes with flare.

The River Sticks – Paranormal Drama Short – An elderly man awakens in the middle of the night to find his long-dead poker buddies have returned to play one last high-stakes game.

Roar – Historical Horror Novella – When the Carnival comes to town in 1920’s New Orleans, a dancer sees her chance to leave the Carnival for something better. Unfortunately, Peanut – the oversized and long-abused lion that is one of the Carnival’s main attractions also breaks free and seeks his revenge on the puny humans that have tormented him for so long

Pillbug! – Horror Comedy Novella – After an evening of unspeakable debauchery, the aged plumbing of a frat house breaks, leaking unspeakable things onto an innocent pillbug. When the insect grows to gigantic proportions, the entire world quakes in fear!

Ursa Major – Science Fiction Novel – A middle-aged man searches for answers to a mystery from his childhood, and uncovers much more than he ever bargained for.

Destiny Reborn – Fantasy Adventure Novel Series – A small band of villagers sets off on a global journey to find the answer to what ends up being the biggest question of all time.




Only The Dead Go Free – Early Reviews

I’ve yet to turn over Only the Dead Go Free to my Beta readers (finalizing revisions), but early reviews from my Alpha readers are in:

Omg. It’s really good. I think I held my breath through most of it. – LG

I liked it … Solid … reminds me of a Tarantino remake of The Others. – MC

Terrific opening scene! I liked it. This definitely did NOT put me to sleep. Well done!! – BS

I love your writing, and your voice. I was surprised with the ending… Very, very well-written and kept me reading. Your descriptions are vivid and terrifying. The sounds and smells and images you provoke … are astounding. – MW




Author Confessions, Day Two

What is your biggest Writing Challenge?

Having enough time to write. Working full time at 60+ hours a week, while trying to raise 2 young girls makes having the time to write quite difficult. I sneak in an hour after work, a few hours over the weekend to inch my stories forward. There are other challenges, too – I am still fairly new at this, so sometimes the rules of writing catch me off guard. Luckily I have a great Copy Editor who has helped coach me into better habits. It just takes time (see the first answer).

Since this is Friday, I am going to nominate my first author to start her own Author Confessions – Jacklynn Desmond. I have read two short stories and one novella by Jacklynn, and I cannot state strongly enough how excellent of a writer she is. One of my favorites. Please check her page out and start following her journey towards stardom.



Author Confessions, Day One

G.L. Dearman nominated me to partake in Author Confessions. The way this works is that every day for the next 31 days I am going to post an answer to the question of that day about my current work in progress, Only the Dead Go Free – although some questions are about the author. Every Friday, I am going to nominate another author whom I strongly believe in to do the same with their works in progress.

Today’s question:  Who is your favorite character in Only the Dead Go Free?

Not a hard question for this piece – Fiona. She is the only major character in the story that is neither outright evil or so flawed and broken that they no longer function – and that includes the narrator of the story. Fiona has a good heart, and despite the hardships she has faced throughout her life, gives all she has to protect her family. There are some likable minor characters, too.



A snippet from Only the Dead Go Free

Here is a snippet from Only the Dead Go Free, a short horror story that is going through final revisions now. Are you ready to be scared?

I pull off the dirt road and swing wide into the driveway a little more than two hours later, no longer burdened by the shackles of sobriety. The car cruises in at an odd angle, and hits the Harley Davidson parked there just hard enough to knock over and onto the brown lawn.           

Breathing seems impossible, and my belly aches as if jabbed. The bitter taste of stomach acid replaces the heavenly juniper flavor of the gin I had been guzzling a few minutes before.

That’s Earl’s Harley.



Fresh stories on the way

Last week I submitted fifteen stories for publication in a magazine, each in a different genre. Before you get too impressed, these were micro-fiction stories of fifteen words each, per the publisher’s specification.


I’ve just completed the rough draft of a horror short called Only the Dead Go Free. I will be spending the next 6 weeks revising it, before submitting it for publication in an anthology. Here is the opening paragraph:

Breathless and without thought, I stare with lifeless eyes into the bathroom mirror. The hiss of the shower behind me competes with the roar of the fire raging down the hall. This gore-drenched nightmare of a witch is no longer recognizable as me. What on Earth have I done? What was the lesson here? I never wanted this. The questions bubble up like water-borne carcasses until I hear his final words thunder in my head. “Only the dead go free” he had said, right before he –


After that, I’ve another fantasy short I will be wrapping up called The Snow Bride. This will be submitted for publication in a different anthology, roughly a month after Only The Dead Go Free. Here is the opening paragraph:

The icy wind outside screeched and wailed like a banshee seeking to devour children’s souls. Frosted windows rattled in their frames so hard that the glass threatened to shatter. Camels and horses were tied to posts in front of the Tsas Ber Tavern. They whickered and spit their displeasure at being left in such inhospitable weather.


Stay tuned for updates on publication details, as well as other shorts that are in the works.

– J.M. Ames