Category Archives: Recommended Reading

Book Excerpt: In Articulo Mortis [Draft]

Normally, I reserve excerpts from published works and rough drafts for my Patrons on my Patreon account. Being a patron grants readers access to behind the scenes interviews with my characters and notes about my process when writing fiction. However, today, in honor of me not feeling much like writing a blog post, I will share an excerpt from one of my drafts.

This excerpt is not from the final draft of the story nor is it a complete rough draft. I believe this is about the 3rd draft of this particular scene. The only two characters here are Theresa, the town mortician, and Overbey, a man who may or may not be who he says he is… The complete novel will be available for purchase on August 31st, 2018. Even though the excerpt is brief, I would love to hear any thoughts from all of you in the comments section below.

One of the things I’ve always struggled with as a writer is prose. The con of being a theater major is that we focus so much on dialogue and not at all on prose- because there is no prose in a play besides stage direction. If you’re reading Shakespeare, the only stage directions are [They enter.] [They exit.] and [They fight.]

I find that my prose is normally bland or entirely too wordy. I’ve been known to include too much detail in my rough drafts or ramble on about something unimportant. Again, this is not the final draft below. Instead, this is a look at the in between stage. If you’d like to see more things like this, please consider becoming a member on Patreon. I post some things for public viewing and some for patron eyes only about once a week.

Happy Reading!

-RB

Excerpt from In Articulo Mortis. Book 1.

“I see you’re a fan of Jack,” she pointed to the glass of whiskey he had poured in her absence.

He raised the glass towards her. “Didn’t think you’d mind.”

“I can see that. You’re aware it’s before noon?”

“Would you like some?”

Theresa shook her head. “The dry bar was left here by the previous owner. It collects dust.”

“Shame.” He circled around and took a seat in front of her desk.

“Aren’t you on duty?”

“I like to mix business with pleasure.”

“Well, to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?” She paused. “I suppose I should ask why you were following me this morning?”

“Following you?”

“I saw your car.”

“A lot of people drive cars like mine.”

“This is a small town, Agent Overbey. I know what everyone drives.”

He flashed a fake smile. “Why would anyone have reason to follow you, Ms. Fairholm?”

“You tell me.”

Sitting back in his chair, he took another swig of alcohol. The ice clinked against the glass. “This is a very nice office you have,” he said, opting for a change of course. “How long have you been a funeral director?”

“Several years now. The position used to belong to an older man named Michael Hallowell. When he passed, I applied for the job. But I’m sure you already knew that.”

“Sounds like a lucky break then,” he said, ignoring her last statement.

“Timing is everything.”

“Did you have anything to do with it?”

“What?”

“Mr. Hallowell’s death.”

“That’s absurd. How would I-”

“Answer the question, Ms. Fairholm. I can’t help but notice that you’re first instinct wasn’t to say ‘no.’”

“No,” she said firmly. “I had nothing to do with Michael Hallowell’s death. Are you trying to accuse me of killing someone to gain employment and then killing others to keep said employment? If I didn’t know any better, that’s sure what it sounds like.” Theresa stared him down, refusing to break eye contact or blink.

Overbey broke the silence as he broke into another fake smile. “Of course not. Why would someone go through that much trouble to get a job? Especially as a funeral director. Who would fight for such a grim job? It was simply mindless chatter,” he unsuccessfully reassured.

“Agent Overbey, I really hate mindless chatter. Could we cut to the chase?”

As he began to speak, her attention jerked towards the window. A shadow passed. Overbey sensed it and followed her gaze. “Are the shadows distracting you?”

Her worry faded. He could see it too. “No. The boys must be outside cutting the grass.”

“I don’t hear a lawn mower.”

“Maybe they’re picking up trash.” She threw her hands up in exasperation. “There are things to do outside besides tending to the lawn. I asked them to clean this morning.”

“They seem like nice boys.” Continuing to take a swig of his drink, he refused to break eye contact. “Where did you find them?”

“Locally. They both started as interns. They help with preparation for the services, arrangements with the church, taking care of medical documents at the hospital, and keeping the place clean. After all, a funeral home is, first and foremost, a business. But here we are off on a tangent again. I don’t think this is what you came here to talk to me about. Am I right?”

“Yes, Ms. Fairholm.” He pulled out the notepad from before and began scribbling notes before he asked her anything further. The shadow at the window passed again but Theresa heard the vacuum cleaner running in the lobby and footfalls from the attic storage. It couldn’t have been the boys. She glanced back at Overbey to see if he had noticed anything strange but his eyes were on her. “You had any strange occurrences lately in your home or around the workplace?”

“Define strange.”

He refused to comment as he wrote something else down.

“Am I under some sort of interrogation?” Her eyes darted to the window again as another shadow passed.

“You seem tense.” He followed her gaze again. “Is there something distracting you?”

“I’m sure you’ll write and say whatever you want about me. I don’t know who pissed in your cornflakes or why you came all the way from… Where did you come from, Agent Overbey?”

“Kansas. Wichita, Kansas.”

Theresa paled. “Right.”

“Do you miss home?”

“This is home.”

“Are you not from Wichita, Ms. Fairholm?”

She inhaled deeply, losing her patience. “You know the answer to that. Get to the point.”

“Starting on the day your brother died, there was a three day period of strange events in Wichita, ending with the disappearance of a young man named Abram Wallace. Does that name mean anything to you?” He set the empty whiskey glass on the corner of her desk.

“No. That was over twenty years ago. I was a kid. I don’t remember much.”

“You don’t remember hearing his name on the news?”

Her hands instinctively balled into fists. “Forgive me for being preoccupied with Sebastian’s death.” She shook her head. “This is ridiculous. You expect me to remember one missing person that disappeared in Kansas over twenty years ago and may or may not have been near me? People go missing all the time.”

“Not from death row!”

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

6 Ways to Find Creative Motivation

In a world full of distractions, it can be difficult to find motivation to write. If you’re like me, you have millions of creative ideas and you spend a great deal of your free time thinking about them but not actually putting the fingers to the keyboard or the pen to the paper. Maybe it’s the entitled millennial in me but sometimes I think that modern day creatives should receive awards for not allowing themselves to be distracted by their smart phones for long enough to record an album or write a book. The late, great writers of old had their own problems but they didn’t have Netflix, YouTube, smartphones, and in some cases, electricity!

Most times in order to get myself to write, I have to be bored. This is why when my friends suggest I get into this new show on Netflix, I frequently deny the invite. “But it’s so good. You’ll love it. The writers do a really good job…” I’m sure they do which is exactly why I don’t want to get sucked into it because it will distract me from my own endeavors!

I’ve written a few posts regarding productivity and finding motivation as a writer but somehow I feel that those posts still don’t cover everything. There is so much to say about the subjects of motivation and distractions. So I sat down and composed a list of my top 6 motivators for you. I hope they help you, fearless creative, to go after your own dreams!

1. Grant Faulker’s 52 Pep Talks for Writers

I love this book. In the author’s introduction he writes, “Stories remind us that we’re alive, and what being alive means.” An invaluable resource if you’re looking for motivation, Faulkner’s Pep Talks include, “Finding Your Muse,” “The Art of Boredom,” “Overcoming Creativity Wounds,” and “Pull Yourself Out of the Comparison Trap.” Seriously, picking out just four titles right now to share with you was a challenge because they are all so inspiring.

As the Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Faulkner has the right frame of mind to help encourage us to push forward as adventure seekers and write. I constantly read and re-read this book, picking specific articles to read depending on what I’m struggling with most. In doing so, you feel a bond to the author. Sometimes hearing or seeing what other authors have to say about this solitary craft, makes you feel like it’s not so solitary after all. Though many of us prefer the isolation, it’s nice to know we aren’t alone.

2. Be Held Accountable, Set Up a Patreon Account

It’s immensely difficult to hold yourself accountable to your own deadlines. It’s even easier to become discouraged when you don’t meet them. And again, if you’re anything like me you create impossible deadlines for yourself. I’m a huge culprit of this. However, things become so much easier when you break the work into smaller, more manageable chunks AND get other people to hold you accountable.

Not only has my partner promised me a trip to England when I publish my next novel (because he knows that I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go there), but having followers who are interested in your work will prompt and encourage you to write more.

I set up a Patreon account with this in mind. Even though at the moment of writing this post I only have two people as patrons, those are two more people who I didn’t have before. Two more people who are eager and interested to see my writing which is all I can really ask for. This relates a lot to the last item on this list. For now, let’s continue.


Recommended Reading: The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer. Also, check out her TedTalk here.


3. Struggle More

Sound strange? I’m a firm believer that struggle is helpful. It’s amazing what people can accomplish when they are fighting to survive. Unfortunately (and it makes me sound ungrateful to say this), I had a very normal childhood…overwhelmingly normal. I grew up in a middle-class working family and was spoiled. I never learned what true struggle is and so when I went out into the real world, I expected things to be handed to me. Lack of struggle taught me nothing.

After being out on my own for a while, I had racked up a substantial amount of debt. By now I’ve paid some of it off but not all and I’m using what is left to help me struggle more. How? I’m throwing every penny I can spare at that figure. We’ve cut back on vacations, fancy dinners and all of the other things I was allowing myself to be spoiled with. Even something as simple as cooking in 6 nights a week and only getting delivery once has been an adjustment. To some, this is their normal life but I had some learning to do.

It’s been a wake-up call. Telling myself no grocery shopping until everything in the freezer and pantry is gone has shown me just how much food is in the house! I’ve realized that we’re not starving here and that what I consider “struggle” is actually nothing close to. While struggle can mean different things to different people, consider where you are and where you want to be. Cutting back a little to gain big later on makes the “struggle” worth it. It’s very motivating that I know I won’t eat sushi if I don’t meet my goals for the week…

4. Weekly To-Do Lists

This is a big one. I’m a huge fan of to-do lists but for the longest time I was doing it all wrong. As stated in my previous post regarding productivity and the Right Way to Create Routine,  having too rigid of a schedule can hinder you. I used to make my to-do lists by the day. Now, I make them for the week. This way if I slip up one day or don’t feel well, I’m not automatically behind.

What’s on my to-do list this week? Here’s what it looks like.

-Write Monday and Thursday’s blog posts

-Finalize Mortis Book 1 Chapters 1-6 Final Drafts

-Create two public Patreon Posts

-Create two Patron-only Patreon Posts

It’s important not to overload yourself. Once I finish this post, everything on that list will be 50% complete and it’s only Sunday! But I have no idea how the rest of my week is going to pan out. Life happens. Leave room for it. You might have to work late one evening, or have a sick family member, or have to pick your kid up from his overnight stay in jail for an underage DUI…there’s no telling! You can always add more if you finish everything early. Keep it simple. Don’t hold yourself to doing a certain thing on Tuesday because let’s be honest, Tuesday might be shit.

5. Read In-Progress FanFiction.

This one might sound a little strange but I swear it works! I am not ashamed to admit that I’m a huge fan of FanFiction. And there is nothing more exciting than reading a work in-progress and seeing that “new chapter” notification show up in your email inbox. Recently, I’ve been reading a dark and graphic Harry Potter FanFiction called “Not the Same Girl” by Emmaficready.

The author does a good job of making things worse and worse for the main character in every chapter. So why is it motivating? The author also posts a new chapter about twice a week. Though the chapters are never long, they always progress the story. It’s a great way of seeing that sticking with a story, chapter by chapter, turns it into a novel-length tale. It helps remind me that I don’t have to create Rome in a day. I can work with smaller scenes to construct a larger story. So thank you to Emmaficready and other Fanfiction authors who update regularly!

6. Remember Your “Why”

Which brings me to my last point. As I mentioned earlier in the “Patreon” section above, at the moment of writing this post I have 518 blog subscribers and two patrons on my Patreon account. If you’re writing for the sole purpose of becoming rich and famous, you’re in the wrong business. Writers are in this for the story telling. Think about why you want to create. How are you adding value? Today’s society is saturated with advertisements that constantly tell people where and how they should spend their hard-earned money. What makes your work so special?

The truth is that no matter how bad the world gets, people need creatives. Whether you’re making music, painting, taking photos, writing books, you’re adding value to someone’s life. Artists provide a way for the world to escape its harsh realities. I believe it was Anne Lamott who once said, “A writer paradoxically seeks the truth and tells lies every step of the way. It’s a lie if you make something up. But you make it up in the name of the truth, and then you give your heart to expressing it clearly.”

As writers tell lies to speak truths, we also record history and capture moments with words instead of pictures. We evoke emotions, we create kingdoms and tear them to the ground. In a lot of ways, it’s playing the role of a god. We torture characters then we save them only to kill them in the end. Artists add value by providing a special place for people to get away from their lives… their soul-sucking jobs, their abusive and toxic relationships, their war-torn countries, etc. Writers create safe-havens. We send people on missions and adventures.

We are the silent leaders.

Lead away!

Happy Writing!

-RB

Blog Art created with Canva.

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

Book Excerpt: Laszlo

The following is an excerpt from my first publication, a novella titled Laszlo. Many authors claim that they hate their first publication. I wouldn’t say that I hate mine but I know that it’s not my favorite nor my best. However, it was my best at the time. I sat on this project for a long time and in the end, rushed to finish it. I was desperate to prove that I could do what others said I can’t.

For Laszlo, I spent long nights churning away in front of the screen. I used up all of my vacation from work and took even more days off that could have resulted in the loss of my job. Luckily, I was on the good side of the right people which kept me out of trouble quite a bit. I’m currently doing the same thing now as I finish up my first novel, In Articulo Mortis (minus the missing too much time from work because now I’ve been promoted to a position where I’m actually needed.)

Without further ado, I present to you the first two chapters of Laszlo.

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.”- C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
The Ravine

“This isn’t right. We should’ve been there by now,” said Noelle. She kept her left hand on the steering wheel and her right between her thighs. She reached over and turned the heat dial up a notch.  

“That nice old man said it would take a good hour and a half to get there,” Kim chimed from the backseat. Snuggled under a blanket, she flipped through the pages of a popular magazine and clicked her retainer on and off with her tongue. Ben turned around from the passenger seat and glared back at his friend. Kim smiled and stopped clicking.

“Thank you.” Ben returned to his previous occupation of staring out of the window.

“Can you check the radio again?” Kim looked up to see Noelle’s blue eyes in the rear view mirror.

“The signal isn’t strong enough.”

Ben reached over to switch on the radio but there was only static. The ghost of a voice passed but the signal struggled to reach through the mountains. “Are you sure you pulled the antennae out all the way?”

“Yes, for the last time. It’s a shitty car.”

“Just asking a question.”

“One that you’ve already asked twice.” Noelle switched the radio off and glanced towards Ben who was studying the darkness outside of the window. “What does the map say?”

He jerked his attention back to the map and fumbled with the flashlight. “The map says…we should have been there by now.”

“Maybe we should turn around.” Kim pulled a compact from her purse and reapplied her bright, Rockin’ Red lip gloss. “We could go back to Dunmore for the night.”

“No.” Noelle put more weight on the gas pedal. “We’re not turning back now. It can’t be much farther.” She looked at Kim through the rearview mirror. “I probably should have let you drive.”

Kim shrugged as she pulled her platinum hair up into a bun. “I wouldn’t be much good. Last time I saw my father was freshman year of college. That was six years ago. He wasn’t living out here at the time.”

“What’s this place called again?” Ben held the map closer to his face.  

“How are you reading that map if you don’t even know where we’re going?” Noelle asked.

“I know the general area.”

“Christ. You really are a waste of space.”

“Sitting right here, thanks.”

“If I didn’t want you to hear that I wouldn’t have said it.”  

“Can you guys not do this for ten minutes?” asked Kim.

Ben muttered an apology and went back to the map. “It’s not like it’s hard to find civilization on this thing. Whenever there’s a knot of roads, I know there is a city.”

“That’s fascinating but that doesn’t help us. We need to find civilization on this road.” Noelle saw Kim rummaging through the luggage in the mirror. “Snacks are in the cooler.”

“Music?”

“The player is in my bag. Front compartment.”

“Thanks.”

“We’ve been in the car for at least two hours without music and now you pull out the headphones?” asked Ben.

“It beats listening to my two best friends bicker.”

“We’re being good,” they argued simultaneously.

Kim smiled and shook her head. “Thank you guys for doing this.”

“You’re welcome,” said Noelle. Ben grunted in agreement.

Noelle waited and watched in the mirror while Kim inserted the headphones into her ears. The lights from the player’s LCD display coated her face in a soft blue hue. Her eyes, heavily lined with black makeup, were closed, and her lips moved to an unknown tune. There were numerous chains that hung around Kim’s neck baring different crosses and pendants. “She does have strong faith, I’ll give her that.”

Ben reached into the backpack at his feet and pulled out a thick woolen hat. “I’ll never understand it,” he said, stretching the cap over his bald, ebony scalp.

“Neither will I.”  

He glanced back at Kim before addressing Noelle again. “Do you think she suspects anything?”

Noelle shook her head. “No but if we don’t get to her dad’s house within the next hour, there won’t be anything to suspect.”

“Why couldn’t we have had the party on campus? I mean we’re grad students. We rule that place. We could’ve gotten whatever we asked for, I bet.”

“Too obvious. Trust me. She thinks she’s spending her birthday with her two best friends and her beloved father. She wouldn’t expect everyone else to drive all the way out here for spring break.”

“So what happens if we don’t find Elkins?”

“They’ll probably send out a search party if her dad is anything like the stories she tells.” Noelle turned the heat dial up another notch. “If we keep at this road we’re bound to find something. If it’s not Elkins then we’ll get better directions.”

Defeated, Ben turned the flashlight off and folded the map. He pinched the bridge of his nose and squeezed his eyes shut. “I think that old man in Dunmore was full of shit.”  

“In his defense, I’ve been driving below the posted speed limit. It’s unbelievable how dark it is out here. I expect a deer or something to dart across the road at any minute. And I can’t understand why we haven’t run into any village or passed another car. I know the Appalachians are more inhabited than this.”

“They probably don’t come out much once the sun goes down,” said Ben. “Nothing to do out here.”

“Yea, I’m not a huge fan of the cold either.”

“At least you don’t have to deal with shrinkage.”

Noelle laughed and looked back at Kim. The platinum bun on top of her head bobbed to the music. She was not paying any mind to their amiable behavior. Noelle turned her attention back to the road as the eyes of a large creature reflected the headlights. Noelle jammed her heel into the brake pedal and cut the wheel to the right. Ben dropped the flashlight and clutched onto anything he could find as the tires lost traction on the icy road, sending the car downhill.

The Decision

Noelle recuperated first. The pressure in her head escalated as the blood rushed towards her brain. She rubbed her eyes then reached towards her hip, exercising caution while unbuckling her seatbelt. She flipped herself right side up while bracing her weight on her elbows. The gentle hum of the engine had ceased. The scratching blare from Kim’s headphones had stopped. The creature was nowhere to be seen.

Her head throbbed as she sat on the inner roof of the car. Dizzy and lightheaded, she fought to regain composure. She closed her eyes, leaned her head back and tried to focus on her breathing.   After a moment, the throbbing alleviated. Someone groaned softly by her side. Her eyes shot open and she immediately turned her attention towards Ben.  

“Slowly,” she said as she reached towards him. “Slowly.” She helped him unbuckle his seatbelt and get back into an upright position. His long legs made it a challenge.   “That’s better. Anything broken?”

“I don’t think so,” he said.

Noelle held three fingers in front of Ben’s face. “You know the drill.”

His brown eyes focused hard on her fingers. “Three.” He looked past her hand and pointed towards her ear. “You’re bleeding.”  

A patch of warmth trickled from her temple down to her jaw line. She swiped her fingers along the moist skin and stared at the darkness that colored them. Ben’s breathing became quick and shallow. Noelle followed his gaze to the back of the car and saw Kim lying unconscious amongst the bags and luggage. Resting flat against what used to be the roof; one of her legs twisted at an odd angle. Noelle scooted towards her.  She reached in her back pocket and threw her cell phone at Ben. “Call.”

Ben fumbled with the tiny phone. He threw off one of his bulky gloves and flipped the mobile open, sliding his lithe fingers across the buttons. He held it up to his ear for a moment then thrust it back towards Noelle.

“It doesn’t work.”

She pushed Ben’s hand back. “Ben, I need you to calm down. Take a deep breath. Try again. We’re going to have to fight for a signal through these mountains.”

He nodded and dialed again.

Noelle pressed her fingers against Kim’s neck. “Her pulse is faint but it’s there.”

“I can’t be in here.” Ben pushed against Noelle and lunged for the driver’s side door as it was the only side free of snow. The door creaked open, its edge skimming the trunk of a tree. The scratch of fiberglass against bark was magnified in the silence of the snowy ravine. Ben crawled out, heaving in a lung full of crisp March air.

Noelle watched his feet pace back and forth in the still burning headlights. She removed the luggage that covered Kim and tried to wake her. Pulling a blanket from Ben’s bag, Noelle draped it over Kim’s limp form. Careful not to cause her pain, she tried to get a better look at her friend’s leg. Ben’s head popped back into the car. Noelle saw the tear trails that were left on his dark cheeks. He sniffled once then handed the phone back to Noelle.

“I can’t get a signal.” He was calmer than before. “I tried everything I could think of. We’re not high enough.”

She nodded and gestured for Ben to get out of her way. As she left the car, he crawled back inside. “Keep her warm.” Noelle dialed the emergency number and tilted the phone in all angles in hopes of catching a single bar. “Damn.” The phone’s LCD screen read 10:43 p.m. They had lost an hour. It had been two and a half hours since they left Dunmore and there was no sign of civilization. She walked uphill. Grabbing at the snow with her free hand as her feet slipped, she continued to hold the phone as high as possible. Struggling to climb, she made it back to the road and surveyed their options. Forward or back?  

Sliding back down the ravine, Noelle turned her phone off and crawled back into the car where she found Ben trying to console a waking Kim. She fumbled around for the flashlight and flipped one of the visors up from the floor. Gazing into the mirror, she turned the flashlight on and shined it into each eye. Her pupils contracted.

She sat up again and began searching through the tousled luggage for her bag. Reaching around Ben, she tugged at a familiar strap but it was held under his knee. She tugged again but he would not budge.

“As always,” she muttered. “Move please.”

“What is wrong with you?” Ben turned towards her, a line of snot trailing from one nostril. He picked up Noelle’s bag and heaved it towards her head, just between the seatbacks. She said nothing. Unzipping the larger compartment, she dumped the contents of the bag around her.

From the pile she plucked spare batteries, three bottles of water, some snacks from the cooler, the flashlight from the floor and the map. She stuffed her purse inside and looked up at Ben who was staring back at her, brow furrowed.

“We can’t stay here.”

“Bullshit. I’m not leaving her here.”

“Ben.”

“Don’t try to reason with me right now. I’m emotional.”

“Clearly. You’re acting like a twelve year old girl.” Noelle turned and began looking through more of the luggage.

“You’re acting like a cyborg. How can you be so calm?”

“What good will it do if I start acting like you?”

“Oh that’s nice. Suddenly it’s not okay to act human and show some emotion. Peter was right about you.” Noelle stilled her movement but did not give Ben the satisfaction of seeing her face. She went back to her search. “Aren’t you curious about what he said?”

“Not really.” She pulled a large flashlight from one of Kim’s bags. “Peter happened a year ago. I don’t care anymore. I wish you both the best.”

“Do you care about anything?”

“Only what matters.” She turned on the flashlight and shined it into Ben’s face. He raised his hands but she redirected the light and exited the vehicle.  

“Where are you going?”

“To find help.”

Ben crawled out of the car and reached out for her. “Wait! Stop! You can’t do this, Noelle.”

“Look, right now we’re lost—in the middle of the nowhere. Do you know what else is out here?”

“I’m not in the mood for this conversation. You’ll just make me feel dumb.”

“Wolves. Bears. And whatever that was we saw on the road.” The hair on the back of Noelle’s neck prickled and she looked over her shoulder feeling suddenly alert at the memory of the creature. What was it? Where had it gone?

“What are you talking about?”

“That thing! That thing on the road. Don’t tell me you didn’t see it.”

Ben shook his head. “I thought we slipped on ice and you lost control of the vehicle. You said it yourself. It was a shitty car.”

“You didn’t see it?”

“No and from the sound of your voice I’m glad I didn’t. What did it look like?”

Noelle looked away and tried to collect her thoughts. “I’m not sure how to describe it.”

Ben looked up towards the road, daring himself to catch a glimpse of something that had long vanished. All remained dark, still and silent. “Was it a bear? A wolf? What else would be out here and large enough to scare you?”

She shook her head. “It wasn’t an animal. It had skin, not fur or feathers; grey skin, like ash.”

“And?”

She closed her eyes and tried to see more but decided to shake the image from her head. “That’s all I remember for sure. It happened so fast. I saw its body, then its eyes reflecting the light from the car.”

Ben nodded absentmindedly, disbelieving her description. He chalked it up to fatigue and imagination. “Right. All the same, I don’t see anything now. Maybe we’ve been in the car too long, needed some fresh air. Either way, I think we should stay put.”

“I’m sure any wild life out here would love a nice warm meal. We can’t stay here. If we stay, we die. We have no transportation. It’s freezing outside and we have no means of communication to the outside world. We have to get Kim someplace warm so she can rest. At least until sunrise. Then we can figure something else out.”

“They say if you’re lost you should stay put if you want to be found.”

“So we should sit here and do nothing? Sorry. Going down without a fight cramps my style. Besides, who’s going to come, Ben? We’ve been driving out here for hours. Do you recall seeing any other signs of life other than the trees?”

“What if we leave and someone comes?”

“I don’t know. What if? What if? Do you live your life by ‘what ifs,’ Benjamin? Who’s going to see us down here anyway? How about this—what if someone does find us and they turn out to be some mass murdering psychopath? What if aliens beam us up into their spaceship?”

Ben frowned and rolled his brown eyes.

“Well, you never know,” she mocked, doing her best impression of his voice. “What if no one comes but you insist that we stay so we do and I freeze first because I’m the smaller one and you’re just left here with a dead body and a half-conscious person with what looks to be a broken leg. You’d just take your chances and wait for someone who might not ever come?”

“Stop antagonizing me.”

“I’m not antagonizing you I just want you to listen to yourself.”

“You’re being a pessimist. You’re overreacting.”

“I’m overreacting? I’m being realistic. Use your head, Benjamin. Here’s one—what if we walk farther up this road and get help? This road has to lead somewhere. Ever think of that? I’m going up the road. You can stay here in the dark or you can come with. However, if you stay I’m not sure whether that would double our chances of being found or make things worse. You decide your fate but I’m leaving.”

“What about Kim?” Ben asked, almost pleading. “We can’t just leave her in the car. She can’t walk on that leg. No way.”

Noelle softened. “Are you able to carry her? I can help you get her out from the car but-”

“-Yea. She’s light.”

“Okay.” Noelle set the bag down in the snow. She crawled back into the car as Ben opened the back door.

“Hey guys,” Kim said. She sounded sleepy. “What’s the plan? It sounded pretty intense out there with all the raised voices.” She tried to smile but it looked more like a grimace.

“We’re going to get you out of the car.” Ben brushed a stray lock of platinum hair out of Kim’s eyes. “Noelle says it isn’t wise to stay here like sitting ducks.”

“We’ll head farther up the road. It must lead somewhere. We could find a shelter for the night. Maybe a phone? Or at least a signal.”

Kim nodded. “Makes sense to me. You were always the sensible one.”

“Kimberley Oaks, ever the optimist,” said Ben with a smile. Noelle noticed that he seemed more relieved once Kim was onboard with the plan. “Don’t worry. We won’t make you walk. I’m going to carry you.”

“My hero.”  

“All right. How do we want to do this?” asked Noelle.

“I’ll support her upper body. Kim, let me know if you need to rest or if you’re uncomfortable.”

“I can’t be much more uncomfortable than I already am. The initial shock is wearing off.”

Noelle retrieved her bag from the snow and rummaged through it again. “There should be some Aleve in here somewhere. I know it isn’t much but it’s all we have for now.” She pulled out a rattling bottle and removed the plastic cap.

“Anything is better than nothing,” said Kim as Noelle dispensed a few pills into her gloved palm and handed them to her. Kim swallowed them dry. “Let’s get this over with.”

“Let me know if we need to stop or if Noelle can readjust your leg, okay?”

“Thanks, Ben.” She smiled through the pain. “Sometimes I think it’s such a shame that you don’t like women. You’d be a great catch.”

Within a few moments, they extracted Kim from the vehicle and she snuggled against Ben’s heavy coat as he lifted her into his arms. Noelle draped one of the blankets over her. “Anything is better than nothing,” Kim repeated, noticing Noelle’s frown.

Noelle tugged her hat down over her ears and secured the scarf more securely around her neck. Keeping the flashlight beam in front of her, she turned and began to tread uphill towards the road with their bag of supplies slung over her shoulder.

“Noelle, wait,” Ben hollered.

Noelle turned back and noticed that his attention was drawn towards the tree line in the distance. She looked up and saw a faint light hidden amongst the barren canopy along the mountainside. It was stationary yet too large and low to be a star.

“Do you see that?” he asked as he passed Noelle.

“Yea,” she said disbelievingly. She looked towards Kim but the young optimist had lost consciousness again. “Whatever it is we have to find it. She could have internal injuries. Should we allow her to fall asleep?”

“I’m not sure,” said Ben as they made their way back to the road, every step being one of caution in the heavy snow. “What do you think it is?”

Noelle shook her head. She was already out of breath from the steep incline. “A house? What else would be all the way out here?”

“There’s only one way to find out.”

Laszlo is available for purchase both digitally and physically through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many other e-readers including iBooks. For further reading, please check out a previous blog post about the novella here. If you do make a purchase from one of the links provided above, please be kind enough to leave an honest review and if not, please share it social media.

Happy Writing!

-R

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

7 Reasons You Should Be Reading Comics

In my previous post about where to find motivation as a fiction author, I mentioned the beauty and inspiration that can be found in comic books. I didn’t start reading comics until I was 30 years old. Like many people who don’t read them, I figured comics were all about Batman, Superman and other heroes that had become very mainstream and commercialized. I was so glad to be proven wrong.

It was my partner who got me into comics. He has been a fan for years. The first time he took me into a comic book store, I was overwhelmed by the variety of characters and genres. In many cases, I couldn’t see the works being made into novels because the artwork was so vivid and grand.

As a minimalist, comics were a struggle for me at first because I needed the physical copies. Each volume was like a story and an art book in one. Sorry avid e-reader fans but it’s very difficult to read them on Kindles and Nooks. I do suggest purchasing the physical copies. These gems are so worth it!

Clicking on any of the pictures below will lead you to the Amazon page for that volume, providing you with detailed descriptions of plot as well as reviews. These are currently my top seven reading recommendations and also the seven reasons you should be reading comics. Enjoy!

1. Low

This was the first comic series that I picked out for myself. I was looking for something based underwater to help inspire me on a piece I was working on titled The World Beneath (still a WIP). I did a little research and Low by Rick Remender was the only thing I could find and behold- it had outstanding reviews so I purchased volume 1.

Remender has been quoted as saying that he normally writes such dark characters and how odd it was for him to write one of the main characters in Low because she is so optimistic it’s almost annoying at times. But it pays off. Low takes you into a violent and imaginative world filled with the light of hope and the darkness of despair. Not recommended for children. Expect sex, nudity and violence. The links to each volume are in the pictures below.

2. Descender

I cannot tell you what first inspired me to pick up this story but it quickly became one of my favorites! Written by Jeff Lemire, Descender is the tale of a boy robot looking for his long-lost childhood companion and that childhood companion, now grown into a man, looking for his childhood robot – amidst a war where humans and robots don’t exactly see eye to eye… A strange twist of Romeo and Juliet? Perhaps.

While there is some violence and adult themes, this series is far more child friendly than the one previously mentioned. As with Low, I believe there is only one or two more volumes left in the series so join in on the fun! As before, the pictures below will send you to their Amazon page where you can view plot details and reviews.

3. Animosity

Animosity took me a while to find. It wasn’t readily available in our local comic shops at the time and shipped from overseas when I ordered from Amazon. Now that it’s more popular, it’s easier to to get your hands on. Personally, I’ve only gotten through the first volume but I absolutely loved it. I mean there is a talking hound named Sandor after the Game of Thrones character! Who doesn’t love that?

As with many of these more “adult” comics, there is violence to be expected but no nudity.

4. Heathen

I hope that this one volume isn’t the end of the series. I want this one to continue but haven’t laid eyes on a volume two. Dealing with Vikings and gods, this all female cast portrays some very strong female characters and talks about some of society’s more pressing issues today. If the authors or reading this – I beg of you – CONTINUE!

5. Saga

It took me a while to get into this one which was shocking because it’s extremely popular in comic circles and is considered one of the top best sellers. My partner is a big fan of the series so I borrowed his volumes and started reading.

As with many modern comics, there are strong female characters but Brian K. Vaughn has created a vast ensemble of diverse male and female characters (and robots and ghosts and a cat that can tell when you’re lying…) Part of the reason it took me so long to become attached to this story was because I hate the two main characters. I don’t care for them or their love story. But like with many other popular pieces of fiction (Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings) it’s not the main characters that everyone falls in love with. Instead, it’s the vast number of supporting characters who end up with just as big of a role as the series marches on.

Contains sex and violence but not as gory as Harrow County (mentioned below). Saga is extremely creative and like Heathen, touches on a lot of society’s hot button topics on a grander scale.

6. Reborn

I picked this one up on a whim because the back cover got me hook, line and sinker! As far as I can tell this is a stand-alone and won’t have future volumes – which is fine. The story is perfect the way it is and doesn’t leave room for much elaboration.

There were a lot of things in this single volume that I did not see coming. I love it for being so unpredictable as I can usually predict endings beforehand. Any author who can fool me deserves my thanks. The picture below will take you to the Amazon page with full plot descriptions and reviews.

7. Harrow County

I don’t know why I didn’t expect to like this story. After all, I love a good horror. Horror comics usually have their own section in the store but they are still not as great in number as Fantasy and Science Fiction. That doesn’t mean they aren’t as enjoyable!

Sometimes violent yet always imaginative, there is a sense of urgency throughout the series that I love. I find each volume hard to put down once I pick it up. Props to Cullen for writing such an engaging plot and lovable main character. Check out the links below for story details!

Keep an eye out for more recommended reading posts.

Happy Reading!
-R

Blog Art created with Canva

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.