Category Archives: Published Works

A Call to Action: Free Stories for Reviews

Hello readers! Today’s post will be short and sweet. As a writer, I both have confidence in my ability to write but also think my work is crappy at the same time. As odd and contradictory as that sounds, it seems to be pretty common among writers. In past years I have confidently published short reads to Amazon, only to lose faith quickly and take them down a month later. Luckily, Amazon allowed me the freedom to do that.

Though taking them down may have hindered me more than helped me. Instead of keeping my neck out there, I pulled it back like a turtle, to protect myself. After all, when creating anything and showing it to the public, it’s sort of like baring your soul to the world. It can be embarrassing. It can be unnerving. No one likes to be judged. Yet, that’s what we long for. We long for opinions of our readers to drive us forward, to tell us where we could improve or to tell us they loved it. We even long for them to tell us they hated it as long as they tell us why.

But the world is not always so kind.

A very small percentage of readers actually leave reviews. And many negative reviews can be written in such a way that it keeps the creator from trying to ever create anything every again. In a recent tumblr post I came across, I saw one of the best things I’ve ever read about writing reviews. Here is the screenshot:

As a writer, I have definitely experienced this in the past. I think we all have. Those kinds of reviews give us what I’ve heard referred to as “art scars” or “creativity scars.” However, that is not what I’ve come here to talk to you about today.

A Call to Action

In the past few days I have revisited and revised my dusty GoodReads account. I noticed that two of the short reads that I had published and then unpublished had received ratings. Positive ratings. It was only one or two but it was enough of a push in the right direction to prompt me to re-publish them. I thought, “We are often our own worst critics. I may not think it’s my best work and it probably isn’t…but someone liked it. Someone got value or entertainment from it and that is all that matters.”

Dear readers, I ask of you a favor. This weekend I have three of my short stories taking part in a free book promo with Amazon Kindle which means that they are free to download and read. Two of them will be free from today until Tuesday of next week.

The other will be free from tomorrow (Saturday) until Wednesday of next week. I ask that should you wish to download them for free, that you please leave a review. After all, reviews help writers sell more books and stories.

I will also be publishing a 100% new, never before published short story this weekend. So please be on the lookout for it! You will be able to see it as soon as it’s published from my Author Central Page. Thank you for being readers!

Happy Reading!

-RB

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: 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.

Current Writing Projects for 2018

Dear readers, I thought I would take a moment to discuss my current writing projects for 2018. It may seem like I’m taking on quite a lot but keep in mind that I do not plan to publish all of these this year. Instead, I plan to release two this year and at least two next year. I would love to hear feedback on any thoughts you may have. Please comment below to reach me.

In Articulo Mortis

Available in August 2018

Yes, I’ve finally set a deadline and release date for my precious Mortis. I first got the idea for this debut novel when I was in college. It has changed and morphed in so many ways that it barely resembles the original concept. This cover art has also already been tweaked so what you’re seeing isn’t the final product.

The story takes place in the 1990’s when a small town mortician is recruited by the Grim Reaper to help collect souls. Complications arise when there are others after those same souls as well as the mortician herself. She must decide whether or not to sacrifice her own soul in order to help the Grim Reaper in his mission – which he does not fully disclose.

The first book in the Mortis series will be available exclusively at Amazon for the first six months. After that, it will be available at Barnes and Noble and on other digital platforms such as Kobo, iBooks, scribd, and the NOOK.

The World Beneath

Available in December

I don’t remember how to idea for this story came about. I’m being rather bold in setting a deadline and release date for myself as the middle and end of this story is very hazy. The beginning, however, is very clear to me. The story is about a teenage boy from a broken family who has just relocated to a new school. During a casual weekend hockey game with other local kids, he falls through the ice of a large lake. As his friends and neighbors scramble above the surface to rescue him, he falls into an underwater world that is war-torn.

As I continue to work on this story, more ideas are coming out of the woodwork, or out of the water, so to speak. I’m not sure who my audience is for this one – whether it’s young adult or mainstream science-fiction/horror. It seems odd to not know this far along in the story. Something is missing but it won’t be come December.

The Crutch

Available in December

The Crutch was originally a short story idea that turned into a novella. It is loosely based off of a dream I had in which a magically- inclined  student has their magic taken away as punishment for relying on it too heavily – for using magic as a crutch. The student must then learn how to defend themselves and rely on the good of other people to not only survive, but also to stop a string of criminal activity on campus. Does it sound lame? Let me know in the comments below. The story line is not fully developed yet.

The Alchemist’s Advocate (Title subject to change)

Coming 20??

The Alchemist’s Advocate started out as the single story of a slave who earned favor with the Lieutenant of her capture’s army. It was more of a “coming of age” story with a slow burn romance developing halfway through. However, I realized that I had several half-developed fantasy ideas that could easily be intertwined with one another for a Game of Thrones- esque story. Though I could never be as fantastic as Mr. Martin, it presented me with the opportunity to take several smaller ideas and turn them into something far more grand. The story has since been merged with previous WIPs currently titled, “Eleven,” “The Book of Manal,” “The Faust Reformatory,” “The War project,” and, “The Great Conjunction.” I’ve even thought of turning it from fantasy to science-fiction. Thoughts?

ELM12

Available 2019

ELM12 was an idea that came from one of my electrical theory classes. I had a teacher who refused to believe in ghosts but was a full-time believer in aliens. He said that when people like air force pilots and police officers commented on seeing things while on duty, he had to believe them. So I was compelled to write about a U.S. Navy Pilot who had seen something.

This story is largely developed and the first third of it has already been written as a rough draft. I am not satisfied with the cover art on this one though so that will be changing.

If you’d like to hear more about these projects and stay up to date on my progress, please become a patron on My Patreon Page. Patrons will receive exclusive access to excerpts not seen anywhere else as well as progress updates.

Happy Writing.

-RB

 

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.

Laszlo: The Seven Year Novella

When I first sat down to write Laszlo’s story, I had no idea it would take me seven years to complete and publish it. However, during the long process, I learned a lot about myself and my writing. Here are some of the most common questions that friends and fans have asked me about the process.

Where did the original idea come from?

The original idea for Laszlo came from a show I was watching on the Sci-Fi (Syfy) channel back in 2008 called “The Estate of Panic.” I was a fan of the host, Steve Valentine, and somehow intrigued by this idea of coming to a large estate with a tall, dark and handsome host- A host that you weren’t sure whether you could trust or not. That’s where the story started.

Originally, there were only two characters- Laszlo and Noelle. I’m not sure if that is normal or not for writers. (As if ‘writer’ and ‘normal’ are often used in the same sentence together.) Often, my ideas start out with one to two characters. The rest step in later. As the story evolved and fleshed out, characters like Ben, Dalca, and Kim emerged. I’m so glad they did…otherwise, it would have been a really boring tale.

Why did it take seven years to finish?

I was under the impression that while I should be writing every day if I didn’t feel the muse, I shouldn’t. I later realized my mistake. A writer writes every day no matter how they feel. The muse won’t always be there.

I’m also a perfectionist and that goes against writing in a very big way, especially when it comes to fiction. I spent a lot of time editing as I went and constantly tweaking and changing things before the story was completely written. That can slow someone down big time.

What did you struggle with the most during this project?

Pinning down the plot was a struggle. I had a clear beginning and a clear ending in mind when I first sat down to write. The middle was a mess- the dreaded drag of the middle- but it ended up working. The ending evolved and ultimately, I like that I opened it up to continue Noelle’s journey because, for a time, it was going to end in that chapel. Dalca’s character changed too and he ended up becoming much more than I had anticipated. I grew to like the guy more than Laszlo. That’s why their roles tango the way they do.

What did you learn after publishing for the first time?

I learned two of the most important lessons when it comes to writing. 1) Don’t wait for a muse and 2) Have a plan for the sagging middle.

I’m halfway between a ‘pantser’ and a ‘plotter.’ I believe in the building of a skeleton and my skeleton wasn’t complete when I started Laszlo. Now, my skeletons are complete when I start the first draft of a project. It makes writing so much easier. I still edit a little as I go. That’s not a rule that I’m against, though a lot of writers are. It makes the editing process at the end a lot shorter if I’m constantly going back and fixing grammar and spelling mistakes off the bat.

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Laszlo is currently available here.

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.