I have been struggling for a couple of years on how best to use my blogs and social networking sites, and this has been an especially challenging puzzle because I have an enormously busy writing schedule and have vowed not to use my platforms for personal tirades that could offend, upturn or usurp my friends' and readers' personal, spiritual or political beliefs. I also choose not to foist my corporate writing, real estate sales, landlording or other professional experiences on everyone. Instead, I think I have finally determined how best to use this space for you:
First, I will be posting stories, ongoing novels, etc... in various stages of completion, and I will post them to the end. Yes, you can read my posted works for free, start to finish (with often segments of various pieces being posted in the same week) BUT once a new draft is ready to be posted or the publisher's final edits are back, I will have to erase the posts. In short, read whatever you like and please tell your friends to do the same. I'd love the opportunity to spread my efforts farther and farther afield. Here's a little secret I just learned recently, if you want to read these works on your ereader, you can go to Amazon and purchase a membership to the blog. It's like 99 cents a month, so would be a huge savings if you're following any of my series. Though, of course, you can come straight to the blog and read online as well. I'm also looking forward to hearing any feedback here or feel free to email me directly, Facebook message me, etc....
Second, I hereby invite ALL writers, artists-of-all-stripes and musical friends to post any how-to information that you would like to share. I'll create guest posts as often as the material warrants. Since I typically have thousands of readers each month and usually Tweet, Facebook and email 100,000 or more people with each post, it's a great chance for everyone to gain a new following. I'm really pleased to help anyone who would like to take me up on the offer. I do have two simple rules: information needs to be teen-friendly--not pure but not erotic or super-violent in nature (says the author of some pretty rough stuff...The Dislocated Man and Colonial Evil, for instance :-) ); you have to self-edit at least decently. As my other blog readers would happily attest, editing is not my forte. Thankfully, Focus House has a pretty good stable of editors who make me look a whole lot more polished than I am (except here on my personal blog). In short, you don't need to sweat it if you're not perfect but I also don't want to post something that looks like it was written by a third-grader. Let me know if you'd like a spot. It's quick, it's easy and it's FREE!
Third and finally, I have been swamped and have fallen way behind on my Tim Greaton Forum interviews. I'll soon be working on the backlog and will be posting interviews both here and there. More eyes, more notice and more publicity for all my friends :-) In short, as I mentioned a post or two ago, this little blog is about to get a lot busier. I hope you'll drop in whenever the mood strikes.
We're starting the ball rolling with "Deadly Weight Loss," an Angelica Raea/Tim Greaton sci-fi novella that is only a week or two from international release. Here's Part One of the unedited 4th draft:
Deadly Weight Loss
Angelica Raea & Tim Greaton
Tropical sunlight slanted through high skylights above Samantha Collins as she pounded through her twentieth exhausting lap on the resort's indoor track. She noted with satisfaction that she had lapped the tall Norwegian who usually gave her a good run for her money. He may have been relaxing, though, having achieved his contractual weight goal. He was planning on being aboard the mainland ferry that afternoon.
Samantha did her best to keep her jealousy in check. Only seven more pounds and she, too, would be signing out of Caribbean Weight Control’s torture camp forever. As far as she was concerned, CWeCo and its brutal staff could all go straight to hell. And she would happily have sent the head researcher, Doctor Scott Hanson, down the fiery chute first. A brief vision of his fat body being stuffed into a tiny metal shaft made her smile.
Screw you, Dr. Hands!
Dr. Hanson was known throughout the facility as a middle-aged letch, and the thinner his female patients became the more interest he seemed to take in their bodies. Most of the women nearing the ends of their contracts avoided the infirmary altogether, anything to escape his smug smile and wandering fingers. Samantha had already endured several of his examinations, and regardless of whether there was a nurse there or not, the next time his hands went anywhere near her breasts…well, it would take more than a leering, female assistant to save him.
She only wished she had done something the last time—
CWeCo’s thrice-daily cocktail of pills and thick shakes screwed up her thoughts and her reflexes, all in the name of developing new weight loss therapies. How could Samantha have imagined ten, five, even two years ago that she would have become a guinea pig for the likes of Doctor Hanson? And, bizarrely, she still couldn’t piece together exactly how it had happened. With school sports, it had always been so easy to keep the pounds from collecting. Then as a member of adult field hockey and basketball leagues as well as a daily swimmer, she had never counted a single calorie. Not even those hard partying years after her divorce had taken much of a toll. Sure a pound or two but nothing that would have warranted a place like this. It used to be so easy: just toss on a pair of running shoes and hit the streets two or three times a week; no fat, no problem.
It had to be shortly after Jack discovered the alien cylinder floating outside our bedroom window!
“You really are looking great, Sam,” came Eric’s thick Norwegian accent as he jogged off toward the men’s locker room. Tall and wide at the shoulders, but with skinny arms and legs, he really wasn’t her type. He had, however, proven to be a good friend over the last few months. She especially appreciated his stories about hiking throughout Asia and seeing hundreds of the floating alien pods that had appeared all throughout the world less than a year before. Where the metal pods had come from or why, no one knew.
Jack would have figured it out.
“Send a search party if you don’t get my email by the end of the month,” she told Eric with a wave. Sadly, she meant it. She had never wanted anything so much as to get away from CWeCo and its brutal staff. Even her short stint working as a counselor for troubled teens at the Saco River Youth Detention Center in Maine had been pleasant compared to the last three and a half months in Central America.
She got a stitch in her side and slowed to massage it.
“Collins, why are you stopping?” the morning trainer called out through his bullhorn. A short, fit man with blunt features and a fierce Spanish accent, he was probably Honduran and possibly ex-military. “You have four more laps. Pick up the pace!”
“Give me a Taser and a billy club,” she muttered, “and we’ll see how you like running ‘til you drop.”
“Good one,” a chunky man beside her wheezed as she passed him.
“What did you say to me, Collins?” the trainer barked.
“Nothing,” she breathed. She lengthened her strides.
After two more laps, her mind settled into the familiar Mobius strip of questions about how she could have wound up here. But no matter how many times she examined her past, she couldn’t make the pieces fit. Disjointed scenes from her life flitted through her mind, but none came with a recollection of eating habits cascading out of control or of getting fat. She brushed sweat from the bridge of her nose. A mild headache had started. Why couldn't she remember?
I remember everything up until Jack became obsessed with that pod.
“Collins, I’m not going to warn you again. Either speed it up or you’re getting five more laps.”
“I love you, too,” she called out and increased her tempo.
She continued to ponder, but her memories jumbled together like a grade school collage. She remembered being thin at college graduation, thin when arguing for her job as a guidance counselor at the Biddeford Middle School, and still thin when being called before the board of overseers at the youth detention center. She even remembered being thin when climbing atop one of the tables at her sister Becky’s wedding a month after getting fired for breaking a teenage boy’s nose at the youth center. So what did that leave?
Was it possible to drink yourself fat?
As expected, her headache had become a full-fledged, pounding migraine, but she ignored it and forced her thoughts to churn through the past. Somehow, inexplicably, she had packed on two hundred pounds in the few months from the time Jack got arrested to the time she had signed the Caribbean Weight Control contract. But that would have meant gaining twenty pounds a week! How much food could one person eat?
One donut for every dollar I spent trying to fight the government.
No! She had to be missing something. Maybe her weight gains had been more gradual and she just hadn’t noticed. But she clearly remembered fitting into her college blue jeans at Becky’s reception, right after she had fallen on the cake. It made no sense! She slammed her eyes shut and fought the urge to stop jogging and clamp her hands around her throbbing skull, which now felt like it was being slammed by a wrecking ball from inside. Who ever heard of getting headaches from thinking?
Every patient at CWeCo, that’s who.
Stubborn, she continued examining her memories. This was important!
Regardless of the when, she thought she understood the why. She remembered the incredible financial stress the attorney fees had put her under—first draining her savings then forcing her to take out two equity loans. She hadn’t fully understood how impossible the battle had become until she had hired her third attorney firm in as many months and until she had pulled cash advances on all three of their credit cards. All told, it had only taken four months to burn through nearly ninety-eight thousand dollars. By then, the U.S. government had moved Jack to a secret facility and had refused to reveal anything about its location or how long he would be there.
As her final attorney—a huge woman with graying hair like wire fibers—had explained, Homeland Security was a term the government used when it wanted to break its own laws. Though the woman did everything possible, they may as well have been living in a despotic, third world country. The courts refused to do anything. Though the FBI’s official letters had not actually accused Jack of being a terrorist, they referred to him as a dissident who had intentionally placed the entire U.S. population at risk. Those accusations might not have hurt so much if the exact opposite had not been true. It was Jack’s concern for everyone that drove him to ignore the certified notices that were delivered to every person within walking distance of the body-sized cylinders that hung motionless in the air as if dangling from invisible metal shafts. If the government could not open any of them, nor decipher the potential danger, then it had to be up to citizens to do it. Unfortunately, Jack few people agreed with him. Fear of alien repercussions drove most people to give the pods a wide berth.
Part Two posting really soon! (Maybe tomorrow :-)
Let me know if you have any thoughts. Your feedback might actually find its way into the published version :-)