Thursday, June 5, 2014: Samples of My Work
Hello everyone! Welcome to the weekly blog. This week, I have decided to do something a little different. Valentine 2: The Patron Saint, was released on June 2, which means I have officially published 5 books! For those of you who are unfamiliar with my writing, I’d like to provide samples from all five of my books, along with a brief insight. At the end of this blog, you will find direct links to each book on Read Publishing’s website. Grab a chair; this blog is longer than usual. So, here we go:
Fortune’s Wing: Sample of Chapter One
The Prophecy of the Wings
Was it a dream or was it reality?
There he was, standing at the edge of a cliff, looking down at a cold, lifeless world. Buildings had crumbled and fallen. Vehicles lay upon their backs; their drivers nowhere to be seen. The streets were filled with debris. Thick black smoke blocked out the sun, and darkened a once clear blue sky. Everything was in ruins. It was so quiet, so still, as though death had waved his hand over everything in sight. Had there been an earthquake? A tornado? No, it looked like something else. Something unnatural…
Was it a dream or was it reality?
He suddenly awakened, covered in perspiration and surrounded by darkness. He reached over and switched on the small beige lamp that rested upon his night table. Looking around, he realized he was still in his bed, in his bedroom, on the second floor of his family’s house, on the same street he had lived on since he was a child.
He managed to climb out of the bed and walk over to his window. In the still of the night, he could see by the light of the street lamps, that the world he had known before he fell asleep had not changed. He breathed a sigh of relief, and flopped onto his bed. There was an unexpected knock at his bedroom door. “Yes?” he said.
The door slowly opened, and his younger sister stuck her head into the room. “Hey, Fortune,” she said as she attempted to suppress a yawn. “I was on my way to the kitchen when I noticed your light was on. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, Haverdy,” Fortune replied. He forced himself to smile; despite the fact
the images from his dream were still fresh in his mind.
Haverdy shook her head in disbelief. “You can’t lie to me, big brother,” she said. She clutched her robe and opened the door the rest of the way. “What’s up?”
“It was the dream again,” Fortune said with a heavy sigh.
“The one about the end of the world?” Haverdy asked.
“Yeah,” Fortune replied. “It’s always the same. Me, standing on a cliff, looking down at a world I couldn’t save.”
“You couldn’t save?” Haverdy asked as she sat on the end of her brother’s bed. “Do you think you’re supposed to save the world?”
Fortune laughed half-heartedly and looked up at the ceiling. “I don’t know,” he said. “Every time I have that dream I always have this strange guilty feeling. It’s like the world ended and it was all my fault. And now I have a feeling something big is about to happen to me.”
Fortune Oyama’s dream about a ruined world he couldn’t save, serves as a prelude to his journey: a mission to find and use power of The Wings. When I wrote the original Fortune’s Wing in 2001, the first thing that came to me was a phrase: He who possesses the wings shall control the fate of the world. I was working on another “apocalyptic drama” (the Enos series) at the time, and would later begin two more (Marude’s Red Streak and Degenerate R). In the other three series, the main characters are fighting to save the world from falling into the wrong hands, but Fortune’s Wing is different. In this series, the world is coming to an end. Fortune’s role, is to decide how it ends, and whether or not it will be reborn. I wrote four books in this series: Fortune’s Wing, Fortune’s Wing : Second Flight, Fortune’s Wing Flies Again, and Fortune’s Wing: After. While the first book introduces Fortune to his destiny, and brings all of the key characters into the story, the second book is where he begins to face his real challenges.
Fortune’s Wing: Second Flight: Sample from Chapter One
Fortune and Haverdy didn’t get home until later that evening. They came in through the front door, and casually called “hello” to their parents. They were about to head upstairs, when Mr. Oyama called to them from the living room.
“Kids?” he said. “Can you come in the living room, please? There’s—–there’s something we need to talk to you about.”
Fortune and Haverdy exchanged worried glances as they entered the living room. Their parents were sitting side by side on the couch, with stern looks on their faces. Haverdy looked down at the coffee table and gasped softly. She nudged her brother with her elbow. Fortune looked down, and noticed his and Haverdy’s swords, lying side by side.
“I found those in your rooms earlier today,” Mrs. Oyama said. She folded her arms. “I was about to do the laundry, and I was looking for dirty clothes. Those things were under your beds.”
“Where did they come from?” Mr. Oyama asked. “And why do you have them? Why do you have swords?”
Fortune gulped, and Haverdy looked away. He felt her hand slip into his, and squeeze it. Haverdy turned to Fortune; her green eyes wide with fear. He wondered how he could possibly explain the swords. How could he make his parents understand?
“Fortune Gregory Oyama?” Mr. Oyama said. “I want an answer.” He leaned forward a little. “Say something!”
Mrs. Oyama leaned forward, too. “Haverdy? Well?”
“Perhaps I can be of some assistance,” a voice said.
Both Fortune and Haverdy stepped aside, and a small figure entered the room. He was dressed in a dark brown suit, and his silver hair was neatly combed back. Fortune smiled thankfully. “Adam,” he said. Mr. and Mrs. Oyama sat back and stared at Adam. Mr. Oyama cocked his head to one side, and said, “Dad? Is that you?”
Adam slowly nodded his head, and uttered a single word: “Sleep.” Both Mr. and Mrs. Oyama closed their eyes, and their heads slumped forward. Adam turned to Fortune and Haverdy. “You needn’t worry about them,” he said. “They’re asleep. When they wake up, they won’t remember any of this.”
“Are you sure?” Haverdy asked.
“That was you I saw earlier, in the park, wasn’t it?” Fortune said.
“Yes, it was me,” Adam said. “I’m here, because it’s time for you to begin your Second Flight.”
“What?” Fortune said.
Adam smiled at him. “Your second journey,” he clarified. “The one which will determine the fate of the world. I trust your friends will accompany you?”
“Of course!” Haverdy declared. “When are we leaving?”
“Right now,” Adam replied. “Pack your belongings and grab your swords. We’ll go pick up your friends, and be on our way.”
Fortune nodded, then looked over at his parents. He wished he could tell them where he was going; what he was doing.
“I know what you’re thinking, Fortune,” Haverdy said. “But they wouldn’t get it. They barely understand me , so they definitely won’t understand the fact that you’re going to save the world.”
Fortune smiled at his sister. “You’re right,” he said. “Let’s go.”
Spoiler alert!: Fortune has both of the wings in this book. But, will he be able to keep them? And use their power? The second book takes Fortune and his friends on Fortune’s Second Flight, the journey in which he will meet his destiny. He’s heading towards a place known as The End of the Earth, where the fate of the world must be decided and the power of the Wings must be used. Along the way, he encounters other members of the notorious Winged Seven: the other people in the world who are part of the Prophecy of the Wings. Like Fortune, each of them was born with a single wing, and were determined to complete their set. Another important character is present in this arc of the story: Verdonna Onnashari, the Oracle of Light. She’s a powerful psychic, and the person who chose Fortune to become a bearer of a Left Wing.
So, how does the world end? What will be its’ fate? You’ll have to wait for book three….
Valentine: Sample from Chapter Three
Melinda watched Val take a sip of her soda, then opened her can and did the same. “Uh, Val? I saw a lady with a black eye downstairs. Do you think she could be in trouble?”
“Maybe,” Val said. She took another sip. “I don’t know”
“Shouldn’t we find out?” Melinda asked, innocently.
“Why?” Val asked. “It’s none of our business.”
“But maybe you can help her,” Melinda said.
Val shook her head. “We’re not getting involved,” she said. She stood up from the bed and walked over to the dresser. She turned and leaned against it. “We’re only here to rest, and get some sleep—-not be anyone’s hero.”
“But you were my hero at the train station,” Melinda insisted. “And you were
only there to rest.”
Val groaned and rolled her eyes. “Exactly what do you want me to do?” she asked.
“Just help me look for her,” Melinda said. “Just to see if she’s okay.” She stood up from the bed, and placed her soda on the dresser.
Val set her soda down as well. She grabbed her room key and shoved it into her pocket. “Fine,” she said. “I will help you look for her.” She walked over to her duffle bag, opened it, and pulled out one of her guns. She shoved the barrel into the back of her jeans, and concealed the handle by pulling her shirt over it. “Lead the way, Galahad.”
She followed Melinda downstairs to the vending machines.
“She was wearing a red hoodie,” Melinda said as she looked around for the stranger. “And jeans.” She wandered over to the front door, and went outside. Val followed. There, they found the woman leaning against the wall of the motel, smoking a cigarette. “Miss?” Melinda said. “Are you okay?”
The woman stared at Melinda in surprise, and dropped her cigarette at her side. “Uh, yeah,” she said, nervously. “I’m fine.” She sniffled, and nodded her head vigorously. “I’m okay.”
“What happened to your eye?” Melinda asked.
The woman looked back and forth between Melinda and Val. “It’s nothing,” she replied. “It was just a misunderstanding.”
“No,” Val said. “Bringing home two percent milk instead of skim is a misunderstanding. That looks like a black eye.”
The woman looked away, and took one last drag from her cigarette before tossing it away.
“Who did this to you?” Val asked.
The woman sighed, then looked at Val. “It was my ex-husband, Jared,” she said.
“What’s your name?” Val asked.
The woman hesitated for a moment, then replied, “Lucy.”
“Hi Lucy,” Val said. “Where’s Jared?”
“He’s on his way here,” Lucy said. “He wants to talk about getting back together. We got divorced because we had some problems, but he really wants to get back together.”
“He belongs in jail,” Val said.
Lucy shook her head. “I don’t want him to get hurt, or in trouble,” she said. “He just gets angry sometimes, that’s all.”
A gray vintage Mustang drove into the parking lot of the motel. Lucy watched the car park, and gasped softly. “Jared,” she whispered.
Val leaned back and looked into the entrance of the motel. She didn’t see any other guests, and there was no one behind the desk. She turned and looked around the parking lot. There were only four other cars besides hers and the gray Mustang, but no people. She watched Jared get out of his car, and walk towards the entrance of the motel. Val studied the gray Mustang, and thought, Its almost as pretty as mine. I’ll bet he really loves that car….probably more than he loves Lucy.
“Lucy!” Jared said. His fists were balled at his sides.
Val scowled at Jared. She turned to Lucy and said, “It’s decision time. What do you want?”
“I—I don’t know,” Lucy said, her voice trembling with fear.
“Just say you don’t want him to hurt you anymore,” Val said. “Just say you want him to go away.”
Jared was getting closer.
“I—I don’t know,” Lucy said.
Melinda looked into Lucy’s pale green eyes. “Lucy?”
“Say it, Lucy,” Val said.
Lucy’s eyes filled with tears. “I don’t want him to hit me anymore,” she said.
Val smiled. “That’s all I needed to hear,” she said. She stood between Lucy and Jared.
Jared looked at Lucy, then at Val. He tried to step around her, but Val stood in his path. “I need to talk to Lucy,” he snapped.
Val smiled slyly. “She doesn’t want to talk to you anymore,” she said. “So, I suggest to get back into your oh-so-cool car and drive away.”
Jared laughed half-heartedly. “I’m not leaving here without Lucy,” he said.
Val sucked her teeth with impatience. “Oh, I see,” she said. She casually walked around Jared and went over to his car. “Nice car. Beautiful—-really beautiful. Let me guess: a 1967? 1968? A great model. It would be a shame if something bad happened to it.” She pulled out her gun and fired a round into the left headlight, shattering it.
“Hey!” Jared yelled, running over to rescue his car.
“Oh, I’m not finished yet,” Val said. Jared stopped in his tracks. “I think I need to give this car a bullet for every time you’ve hit Lucy. Hey, Lucy! How many times has Jared hit you?”
“Please don’t,” Jared pleaded.
“Please don’t?” Val said. “I wonder if Lucy ever said that before you hit her? You’ll beat on a woman, but you’re afraid to let anything happen to your precious car.” She lowered her gun. “Leave Lucy alone. Don’t ever touch her, or come near her again. Do you understand, or do I need to keep using your car for target practice?”
Jared nodded his head quickly. “Yeah, I get it,” he said. “I’m going.”
“If I have to come back here, I’m gonna put a bullet in something other than your car,” Val declared. She watched Jared get into his car, back out of the parking space, and speed out of the lot.
Val returned to Lucy and Melinda. Lucy used the heel of her hands to wipe the tears away from her eyes. “Thank you,” she said. “I don’t know who you are or where you came from, but thank you.”
“Forget it,” Val said. “You just need to toughen up. Don’t let other people push you around. You’ll be a victim the rest of your life, if you allow other people to make you into one.”
Lucy stepped forward and embraced Val. She sniffled as she said, “Thank you.” She released Val, and hugged Melinda. “You too, honey.”
“You’re welcomed,” Melinda said. Then she and Val went back into the motel. On the way upstairs, Melinda nudged Val with her elbow and said, “You’re so cool.”
“Yeah,” Val said, tucking her gun away. “I know.”
I chose a sample from Chapter Three because I wanted my readers to gain a little insight as far as who Val is as a person. She doesn’t take any crap from anybody, and she certainly won’t tolerate men who beat on women. Val is, relatively anti-social, but she will come to the defense of a stranger when necessary. This first book (there will be at least four or five in the series by the time I’m finished) centers around Val going to California to rescue her father, Vincent, who works for a crime lord known as Rafferty. During her road trip, she meets an orphan named Melinda: a slightly naive but cheerful 14-year-old who sees Val as her hero. While Val’s purpose is simply to get to California, she ends up helping several strangers along the way. Val’s nickname is “Valentine”, which she believes stems from the way her name is spelled : Val Entienne, which sort of looks like Valentine. But, its her reputation that she doesn’t understand. People hear her name and tremble in fear. Is it because she’s a fearless 19-year-old who can handle a gun like a pro, or is there something dark from Val’s past? On to book two…
Valentine 2: The Patron Saint: Sample from Chapter One
A Rose Grows in Trenton
It was after midnight. The street was quiet. A streetlamp flickered for a few moments, before shutting off completely. There were several cars parked outside of four apartment buildings at the intersection of Froman Street and Gent Avenue, in Trenton, New Jersey. Every car was empty, except for one: a dark blue Ford Taurus. A man sat in the driver’s seat, staring up at a window on the fourth floor of one of the buildings. The window was dark, but he knew someone was up there, inside the apartment, watching him. It was a teenaged girl. She was crouching down, just below the window sill, peeking out at the man in the car. After a few minutes of watching one another in silence, the man finally started his car and drove away. The girl gave a sigh of relief, and stood up. She carefully made her way through the darkness, to the light switch on her wall, and flicked it on. The light mounted on the ceiling came on; the eco bulb made a soft humming sound. She walked over to her wooden dresser, and opened the top drawer. Inside, she found a tattered photograph of three people: a man, and two young women. They were standing in front of a brick wall, with the man in the center and the two women on either side of him. He had his arms around them, and all three of them were smiling. The girl smiled at the women in the picture. She had been told, they were her uncle, cousin, and sister. Obviously, the man in the picture was her uncle. But, as far as who was her cousin and who was her sister—that had never been made clear. One girl had long, fuchsia-tinted hair. The other, had short pink hair. The pink-haired girl, was the one she was the most curious about. She had heard fantastic stories about her; how people feared and respected her. The most recent stories, made the girl want to reach out to her. She protected women who had been abused by their husbands or boyfriends. She had driven across the country to save her father. She had even rescued and befriended a fourteen-year-old girl. People were calling her, “The Patron Saint of the Weak”. But her true nickname, was “Valentine”.
The girl looked up from the picture when she heard her mother call her from down the hallway. “Yeah, Mom?”
“Don’t you have school in the morning?”
Victoria groaned. “Yeah, Mom.”
“Then go to sleep, honey.”
Victoria sighed, and smiled at the picture again. She thought about the man in the Taurus, who had been staring up at her window, night after night. “Valentine,” she whispered. “I have to find you.”
So, we have a young girl, with a photograph of Valentine, Veronica and Vincent….things are about to get very complicated for the Entienne family. This book just became available, so I won’t spoil it too much for you. Val is going to have to face her past in this book. She did something incredible, and it gave her a reputation that made everyone fear her. I wish I could tell you what it is! But I won’t. You’ll have to read it for yourself. I will tell you this: I don’t think you’ll see it coming.
Our Lady Of Righteous Rage: Sample from Chapter Five
I sat on the stoop outside of Nick’s house one afternoon with David, waiting for Nick to come outside. After a few minutes, he appeared. His dark brown hair was slicked back, all shiny and neat. “Before you say anything,” he said, “I did this for my mother. She worries that I look like a delinquente.” David chuckled. Nick cocked an eyebrow at me. “What’s up? Why you look so down?”
“Nothing,” I muttered.
“She wants to learn how to play the guitar,” David explained. “You know, the one she got for her birthday?”
“Yes, but none of my so-called brothers will teach me,” I snapped.
“What do you mean?” Nick asked.
“My brothers won’t teach me,” I said. “David here won’t teach me, and my cheap-skate father won’t pay for lessons. Plus, I suck at teaching myself.”
Nick looked at David, then looked at me. “I’ll teach you.”
I blinked at him in surprise. “Wait—what?”
“I’ll teach you,” Nick repeated, simply. “It’s not that hard, and I know how smart you are, so you’ll pick it up quick. All you need is to learn a few chords.”
“You really mean it?” I asked. “You’ll teach me to play?”
Nick chuckled and patted me on my back. “Of course!” he said. “We’ll start this weekend, okay? You can learn on my guitar.”
I reached over and hugged him tight. “Oh, thank you Nick!” I exclaimed. “Thank you! I promise I’ll be a good student!”
That weekend David and I took the R train to Brooklyn to Aidan’s house. He and Nick had started a garage band with two other guys named Tony and Mick. They called themselves “Torch”. I didn’t know it at the time, but not only had Nick taught himself the guitar, he had also mastered the drums and a little piano as well. I told him he was becoming the Sicilian version of Prince (or, the Artist, or whatever he was calling himself at the time). In Torch, Nick was the drummer. Aidan was on bass, Tony was on guitar, and Mick was the lead singer. David and I got to listen to them rehearse a few of the songs Mick had written. One was about his latest ex-girlfriend, and it was called “Rosalie”. The song itself was good, and the guys played really well, but Mick’s voice wasn’t that impressive. When they had wrapped up for the day, I asked David why he wasn’t part of the band.
“I don’t feel like dragging all the way to Brooklyn every weekend,” he said. Which was a load of crap, because we both came to Brooklyn all the time. I assumed the real reason was something stupid, like he didn’t get along with Mick or Tony for some unknown “guy reason”. Guy reasons are always much simpler than girl reasons, and they tend to have more logic to them. Something like, “oh, we got into a fight a couple of years ago” or “he dated my sister and treated her like dirt”. With girls, it’s something stupid like “she showed up at a party wearing the same dress I was wearing” or “she asked that guy out even though she knew I had a crush on him”.
After Torch’s band practice, Nick gave me my first guitar lesson. He had already told me ahead of time to cut my nails short, especially the ones on my left hand. “That’s the hand you’re going to fret with,” he said. Four of us sat in the garage: me, David, Nick and Aidan. Mick and Tony had other plans. Nick handed me Jesse James.
“Are you sure about this?” I asked, as I accepted the guitar. Nick nodded his head.
“No one but Nick ever plays Jesse James,” David said.
Nick sort of scowled at him when he said that. “I trust her,” he said. “She can handle it.” Then he turned to me. “Okay: we’re going to start with some basic bar chords, like G, C, A, and D. Then we’ll move on to something a little more complicated.”
“Okay,” I said. I positioned my fingers around the neck of the guitar.
For two hours, Nick coached me, while Aidan chimed in with advice. He’d say things like, “Press your finger down a little harder when you play an A chord.” Nick taught me a few more chords, then called them out in random order to see if I could play them back. Then we tried a song. By the end of my first lesson, I could play the opening to Green Day’s When I Come Around.
I sat, completely stunned, mesmerized by the idea that I had actually managed to play part of a song. I could feel my eyes growing watery. I thought, oh, no. Don’t you dare cry in front of all these boys! I choked back my tears as I handed Jesse James back to Nick. “Thank you, Nick,” I said.
“You’re welcomed, Amy,” Nick said. “Next weekend, we’ll work on the rest of the song.”
“Okay,” I said.
The four of us stood up. “I may not be able to make it next weekend,” David said. “I may have to baby-sit Jon.”
Nick shrugged his shoulders. “No problem,” he said. “Amy’s a big girl. She knows how to ride the R train all by herself.”
“Or I can steal a car and come pick you up,” Aidan said. We all stared at him in surprise. “Christ, it was a joke!” he said.
Nick smiled and shook his head. “Delinquente.”
On the way down into the subway, David asked me an unusual question.
“Do you know Gina Corvetti?” he asked.
“Not really,” I said. “I mean, I’ve heard her name around the hallway at school once or twice, but I don’t really know her.”
“She’s a freshman.”
“Oh,” I said. “Still don’t know her.”
“I was thinking about asking her out,” David said.
I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Go for it.”
“I just wanted to know how you would feel about that,” David said. I looked over at him. He was looking down at his feet. “You, know, get the Amy Edwards seal of approval? So, it’s okay?”
“Of course its okay,” I said. “Ask her out, man.”
But was it okay? I had never had to think about these things before. David and I had always been friends. I looked at him the way I looked at Nick and Aidan: like big brothers. And I had always been one of the guys. Of course, I knew this wasn’t physically true, thanks to mother nature, and being born into a family with a history of busty women. We had always been this group of kids, going to record shops and movie theaters, just hanging out. Suddenly, we were teenagers. I had boobs. Nick, Aidan and David had signs of facial hair. We weren’t kids anymore.
And I had just given David permission to ask another girl out.
At the heart of this story, is a young girl who dreams of helping her friends start a band and a business, where they can share their artistic abilities with the world. I used characters I created when I first created W.E. in 1994. The roots of this story can be found in two stories I wrote in 2000 and 2004. 2000’s “From Here to There” follows lead character Amy Edwards and her friends during their senior year at Benjamin Cardozo High. 2004’s “Every Bitch Has Her Day” (catchy title) takes place a few years later, and centers around Nick’s courtship of Nyda. I wove both stories together, threw in some personal experiences, music, and ta-da! Our Lady of Righteous Rage is the title of a poem I wrote in 2006, and its also the name I would use, if I had a band of my own. Apart from the music, are the personal issues each character deals with in the story. There’s Amy’s non-caring father, Aidan’s feeling of being the black sheep in his family, David’s insecurity, etc. If you were a 90’s kid like me, there’s some things in this story you’ll remember (like Blockbuster Video). Each chapter is named after a character in the story, and that chapter is narrated by that particular character. The inspiration for this came from William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, which I read in high school. I thought the idea of telling the story from different points of view was brilliant. I had wanted to write Our Lady for several years before I actually sat down to work on the material, I just didn’t know what direction to take. I do have an idea for a sequel.
I hope this blog sparked your interest in my books, dear readers. All five a currently available on Read Publishing’s website, and the links are as follows:
Fortune’s Wing Second Flight
Valentine 2 The Patron Saint
Our Lady of Righteous Rage
Questions? Comments? You can always email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me on Face book, Twitter, and even Instagram (James Franco is following me, and I’m still stoked about that!). I have started posting on Tumblr and WordPress again. And, you can leave a comment or question on the Guestbook on this site. To everyone who is following me on any of my social media sites, I thank you.
I really appreciate your support. Until next week.