Collaborative Duo Share their First Experience

Waterfront Writers

First times hold a special place in any writers’ heart. The first time they finish a novel, the first time they see it in print, first five-star review, first fan letter—first royalty check. Writers tend to remember these firsts, and more, with great reverence.

As most of you know the Waterfront Writers’ duo was invited back in February to present at the 2015 Mid-Atlantic Fiction Writers Institute. Over the course of the months that followed, they developed a collaborative writing workshop based on their experience writing Two Weeks to Rites, a web series featured here, as well as other pieces. Sandra R. Campbell and Desiree Smith-Daughety have been on several author panels, at numerous conferences, but what you might not know is that this was their first time developing a full-length workshop and presenting as a team.

The MAFWI conference was this past August, and luckily our beloved…

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Honoring World Read Aloud Day!

world-read-aloud-day 2015Today is World Read Aloud Day! A day of  literacy awareness celebrated all around the world. A day to motivate children, teens and adults and celebrate the power of words, especially those shared from one person to another.  Which is why I am offering one of my stories for parents to read to their children! I do hope you enjoy it. ~ SR Campbell

LITTLE BUDDY BLUE

Little Buddy Blue loves to play and has lots of toys, but he wants even more because they give him great joy. Little Buddy Blue pleads for a new toy every time his momma leaves for the store, and he begs for presents when his papa goes on business trips.

Christmas is Little Buddy Blue’s favorite holiday because of all the toys Santa brings, second only to his birthday, when all the brightly wrapped gifts are JUST FOR HIM!

The trouble, you see, is that Little Buddy Blue has so many toys he has no place to put any more. His toy box is overflowing, his closets are crammed full, and the dust bunnies had to move away because he even has mounds of toys under his bed.

dust-bunnies-2Finally, when there is not an inch of space left in his room and toys burst out the door and spill down the stairs. His momma says, “Enough is enough. Little Buddy Blue, it’s time to get rid of some of your stuff.”

Little Buddy Blue can’t bear the thought of parting with any toy. He loves his toys and his toys love him. Each holds a special memory of fun and gives him feelings of joy.

He hopes, if he explains, that his momma will understand. “My toys are my friends and they will be sad without me. Look, this one is already crying.”

“Your toy is not crying. You left it outside in the rain and water is trapped inside.”

“What about this one? It’s falling apart over having to leave.”

“That one you left downstairs on the couch and it broke when your papa sat down.”

“Well, what about this one, Momma? All the pieces are trying to hide.”

“The pieces are gone, that is true, but they’re not hiding in hopes of staying in your room. You forgot to shut your door and Daisy Dog got in,” his momma says with a frown.

“Oh, Daisy ate them?”

When his momma nods, Little Buddy Blue suddenly understands. He loves getting gifts and playing with toys, but he has so many he can’t take care of them all.

Little Buddy Blue and his momma spend hours placing all his excess toys in boxes and bags. By the time they’re finished, his toy box and closets close easily, and there is plenty of space under his bed for the dust bunnies to return.

But as the boxes and bags are being hauled away, Little Buddy Blue begins to cry. “Momma, I didn’t take good care of my toys and now I’m throwing them away. My toys are so mad at me.”

Little Buddy Blue’s momma answers with a smile, “Your toys love you because now you are taking care of them, donating them to loving children who have none. That shows your toys how much you care.”

Little Buddy Blue smiles too. And now he would like to ask, “If your toys could talk, what would they say about YOU?”

*THE END*

© Sandra R. Campbell

Reluctant Cassandra – Southern Fiction Debut

Ellen Smith’s debut novel, Reluctant Cassandra, is not to be missed. The story is told with an ease and grace that makes it hard to put down, even though the subject matter tears at the heart strings. There cannot be anything more painful than losing a family member to a disease that takes their mind, but not their body. Not to mention, the added struggle of dealing with a community that feels they have been wronged.

Check out the tidbit below and be sure to add this title to your summer reading list!

Coming June 2015

Reluctant Cassandra Small

Nothing much changes in historic Eagle Valley, Virginia. That’s a good thing for Arden McCrae. It’s easier to manage her visions of the future when there isn’t much to see. Arden would rather stay buried in the cool certainty that comes with stories of the past. Fortunately, running the local antique store and keeping up with the Eagle Valley Historical Society gives her plenty of history to hide behind.

 

When her aging parents are forced to sell their farm to pay for medical care, Arden sees big changes ahead. The sale threatens the historic status of Eagle Valley, and Arden’s own store is in peril. Meanwhile, her father’s rapidly advancing Alzheimer’s keeps him locked in a heartbreaking past. The rest of the McCrae family is left to make difficult decisions for the days to come.

The future that nobody wants is descending fast, and Arden must face the visions she’s always avoided. Soon, her town is divided over their historic status and her family is shattered by her father’s declining health. Arden will have to choose whether to fight to preserve the past or learn to embrace the future.

About the Author:

EllenSmithAuthor PhotoEllen Smith is a freelance writer and editor, forging ahead into the world of fiction writing. When she isn’t fiddling with sentence structure or analyzing plot devices, she can be found reading, sewing, or avoiding housework. She lives with her family near Washington, D.C.

And a little more…

What inspired you to write this novel?

In some of my favorite parts of Virginia, the landscape is slowly changing from “mostly farms” to “mostly houses.” A few of the stories I’ve heard over the years left me very sympathetic to the family that had to sell, and also sympathetic to the surrounding area that would be drastically impacted by the change. The idea for Reluctant Cassandra was inspired by this conflict.

What particular rules of thumb do you follow when it comes to writing?

My day job is writing and editing education materials, so when I switch gears to work on fiction, I try to have a totally different outlook. In my nonfiction work, I’m very structured and analytical. When I’m working on a story, I want to have fun and see where my imagination takes me.

 

The Dead Days Journal – Coming Soon!

TDDJ

The daughter of a radical doomsday prepper, Leo Marrok spent her entire life preparing for the end. A skilled fighter and perfect marksman, Leo is her father’s second-in-command when Armageddon comes to pass. Together, they lead a group of survivors to a secure bunker deep in the Appalachian Mountains.

Vincent Marrok is willing to take extreme measures to repopulate their broken world. Leo’s refusal marks her as a traitor. With father and daughter at odds for the first time, their frail community is thrust into turmoil. Until the unthinkable happens, a blood-thirsty horde arrives. The impending attack will destroy all that they have worked for.

To protect her home and everything she believes in, Leo puts her faith in the arms of the enemy—a creature only rumored to exist—the one she calls Halloween. An alliance born out of necessity evolves into feelings Leo is ill-equipped to handle.

The Dead Days Journal is a post-apocalyptic story of love and family told through Leo Marrok’s first-hand account and the pages of Vincent’s personal journal, giving two very different perspectives on what it takes to survive.

Note: Bloggers and avid readers can go to Xpresso Book Tours for a chance to pre-review The Dead Days Journal

A Not So Super, Super Bowl XLIX

Climbing on my football soapbox, for just a moment…

I’d like to know if anyone else is dismayed over the results of yesterday’s NFL Playoffs?

The same Seattle team and players will return for the second year in a row. Do we really want to see more turnovers and crybaby action from Wilson? I know athletes carry strong emotions and adrenaline levels run high on big game days, but can’t they at least try to keep it together while the cameras roll? Save the tears for family and teammates. As a fan I’d like to see solid, coherent commentary after a big win—not belligerent rants and girlie sobs.

There’s no denying Brady’s talent as a quarterback, though not personally a fan. However, another BIG win sparks more reports of cheating. Really, deflate the game balls? Is Luck, a relatively young player, that much of a threat to New England? Nope, but maybe all the ESPN hype was. If the accusations turn out to be true, how can fans root for a team that continues to cheat—and get caught?

Last year I cheered for a Seattle win. This year I will be tuning in for the commercials and nothing more.

SUPERBOWL

 

Revisiting the past…

The following is an excerpt from Butterfly Harvest, my first published novel. butterfly blog post

SEPARATION

 My grandfather was never known for much. A coal miner by trade, in the sticks of the Appalachian mountain range, he found little glory in life. Viewed as the black sheep among the family of six he helped create, the man received little praise and even less respect. Just the mention of a family function and anchors would attach to the corners of his mouth. Charan Raines would escort my demanding grandmother on the five hour drive to Maryland, but he never said a word to anyone. Sitting alone, staring blindly into the TV, he ignored the trivial chatter of his supposed loved ones, before making an unnoticed escape to the outdoors.

It was during one of these family gatherings, my second to be exact, that I refused to let my grandmother hold me. According to my mom, I never liked being coddled and screamed bloody murder until my grandmother put me down. Then I crawled over to my grandfather and raised my arms high. Mom said it was the only time she recalled seeing him smile. And so it went; for years, he’d sit down, away from everyone, saying nothing, only to have me scramble up and attach myself to a leg or an arm, whatever I could reach at the time.

It wasn’t long before I joined my grandfather on his little escapes. He’d hold my hand to keep me from falling over loose rocks and twisted roots while trudging through the woods. I never minded our lack of conversation, I was just happy to be with him. But then I reached that inquisitive age. I started pointing to plants, to animals, asking question after question. My grandfather happily answered every one, he had all the answers. He knew everything there was to know about everything. When I ran out of things to point to, he told me stories of the Cherokee people, a heritage I didn’t know I was a part of until then.

Each story started the same way. We’d sit down under a tree, or by the river, clearing his throat he’d quietly say, “My Little Raven, with sapphire eyes, listen closely to the tales I tell.”

The first stories he shared with me were old legends, such as How the Red Bird got his Color and Why the Possum’s Tail is Bare. From there he went to myths about The First Fire and The Daughter of the Sun. He taught me the colors associated with each season, and the important celebrations and rituals they practiced in their daily lives. For a man who hardly spoke, storytelling was my grandfather’s specialty. It fascinated me, the way his eyes sparkled, and the faraway sound of his voice, how his body came alive in those moments, acting out dances, singing chants. I looked forward to those special days with him. No one but us and the woods we adored.

Late one Sunday morning, after a heavy rain, my grandfather showed up at our door unannounced and alone. Bypassing a typical greeting, my grandfather simply asked to take me for a walk. My father regarded us with a raised brow and a shake of his head as I darted across the room. Pushing my father aside I flew into my grandfather’s open arms.

“Just make sure she’s back by two. She’s got homework to do.” My father said, before taking a swig from his Sunday observance beer.

“Sure.” My grandfather grumbled before taking my hand in his. “I’ve got a new story for you.” The corner of his mouth twitched as his dark eyes fixed on the dirt trail leading into Fischer Woods.

The quiet hadn’t bothered me as we walked down the damp trail. It was the menacing shadows around his eyes. “Everything okay Grandpa?”

“Everything’s fine. I’m tired Little Raven, and you’re growing up so fast.”

“I’ll be thirteen in February.”

“Almost a teenager.” He said, looking down with a half grin.

“Almost.”

He released my hand as I hopped on a fallen log, and stood back to watch me successfully teeter across it. “Don’t let the world change you, Seanna.” My grandfather rarely referred to me by name. His voice sounded strange. Spinning around I caught my toe on the edge of a broken branch, sending me butt first to the wet ground.

Instead of helping me up, my grandfather plopped down next to me in the mud. “This is as good a place as any. Now my Little Raven, with sapphire eyes, listen carefully to the tale I’m going to tell.”

Snapping off the end of a stick, he hummed while sketching the outline of a butterfly in the mud. I watched anxiously, waiting for the story to begin.

“I know you have dreams, big dreams. As long as you are true, Little Raven, true to yourself and are willing to protect and care for Mother Earth, as she has protected and cared for you, the Great Spirit will make all your dreams come true.”

“How?”

“Well, in order for a wish to be granted, you must first capture a butterfly and whisper your wish upon its wings. When you release the butterfly, it is so happy to be free again that the butterfly flies to the heavens, carrying your wish to the Great Spirit, who grants your secret desire.”

“Really?” I quickly scanned the grass for any signs of life. “If I had a butterfly now, I’d wish for more days out here with you.”

When I turned back to my grandfather his eyes were closed, his jaw, quivering. I pressed my hand to his shoulder and moved to kneel in front of him, waiting for him to see me. His jaw stilled but he kept his eyes shut. “No, I’m an old man,” he said with the shake of his head. “Save your wishes for important things. Never waste them.”

“If I want to wish for more time, than I will.” Getting to my feet I marched off in search of anything with wings. “It’s my wish.”

I left my grandfather sitting in the mud, while I wandered around the woods. He’s mad that I want to spend more time with him. How can he not want to spend more time with me? The only time he laughs is with me, it’s the only time he smiles. Even Mom says so. Why doesn’t he want to smile anymore?

After an hour or more of searching I finally gave up hope that my grandfather would come looking for me. He must be furious.

I made my way back to the fallen log. Only my grandfather wasn’t there.

While waiting for him to return, I picked at a piece of bark with a rust colored smear, until I heard my father yelling my name.

butterfly blog post

Interested in reading more? Click HERE for additional chapters or to purchase a copy for yourself. Thanks for reading!

large BH special edition

 

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye

Maxxoctober2

There is nothing worse than saying goodbye to a dear friend. In this case, it’s a ten year relationship with the coolest fur-buddy I have ever known. Several months ago I awoke to deep purrs and a wet nose in my face and came up with the idea to write a short story from a cat’s point-of-view. Maxx will be missed like no other!

Here’s the story he inspired…

 

DEATH: THROUGH A CAT’S EYE

Hours ago they attempted to pull me away, but she said she liked the feel of my weight against her side. So, that’s where I stay until the very end.

My eyes can’t release the tears the others cry, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less crushed. I love her, too.

The sobs continue as I move from her side to rest my head on her chest. This is a familiar spot. Almost every night of my life I slept here, listening to the beat of her heart and the soft puffs of air move in and out of her lungs. But everything is quiet beneath my ear.

Where will I sleep now?

“You need to get Sax, in order for them to move her body,” the girl that slipped me peanut butter says to him.

I dig my claws into the blanket.

He knuckles a falling tear before leaning over with arms open. There’s a warning in my eyes, but he’s not paying attention. The hands reaching for me never touch fur.

“Ouch!” He pulls away with a curse and inspects the bloody scratch marks. He turns to me. This time when he looks, he sees. He understands.

“Oh God, she’s left us both, hasn’t she.” He crumples beside the bed and lifts her limp hand to his cheek. “What are we going to do, Sax?”

I can’t answer the way he does, so I clean the mixture of blood and tears that’s drips down his arm to hers. The corners of his mouth lift as he gives my head a quick rub.

A clatter of metal and plod of heavy boots alert me to the people who are about to enter the house. I crouch, pressing my body closer to hers. They’re here for her. I hate change, and her leaving will be the worst kind–permanent.

Towering strangers with blank expressions stand in the doorway. They smell funny. There’s a loud clank as a hard case drops with a startling boom. Raised voices, urgent cries…there’s so much noise. I want to stand my ground, I don’t want to leave her, but the commotion’s too much. I’m frightened.

I see him stand up to address the strangers, and before I realize what happening, I’m in his arms and he’s walking out of the room.

The strangers are going to take her away.

I twist and howl until he loses his grip, and then I run and take cover from the chaos. The one I love most is about to disappear forever. She’s the only one who truly cares for me. He has rules, rules that she has broken for me. Now he’ll insist that I stay off the furniture and ban me from sleeping on the bed. Will he even remember to feed me with her gone?

Hours, maybe days pass before I finally venture out of my hiding spot. There’s old food in my bowl, dried-out and crusty. At least he left something. It stinks, bad. The whole house smells different, her scent lingers, but it’s not here. Not really.

I hear a soft whimper and move from the kitchen to the living room. It’s dark. He’s sitting on the couch with his head in his hands. He hurts too. I don’t want to go to him, but I do, because I think she would have wanted me to.

At first he doesn’t notice me sniffing his toes or the press of my head against his leg. So, I force a single purr.

“Hey, there you are. Guess you’re pretty hungry.” He stands and almost trips over me as he stumbles toward the kitchen. I follow. Despite my sorrow, I want food. He scrapes the dish but doesn’t clean it. The water in my bowl is stale, it’s been there awhile, and he doesn’t bother to replace it. But the fresh food makes my mouth water and I dig in as soon as the dish touches the floor.

He leans against the counter watching me eat. Is he deciding what to do with me? Will he throw me out? I eat faster. This could be my last easy meal. No, wait… I should eat slower, bide my time. When I glance up from my dinner, his eyes are closed. I doubt he’s sleeping but I seize the opportunity. He can’t get rid of what he can’t see. I hear him call my name as I make my way back to my secret hiding place. I ignore him and curl into myself, warm but alone.

When I emerge the next day, stacks of brown squares line the hallway. Through the dense particles of cardboard I smell her. Inside are her things. I attack the box; pouncing, scratching and biting. I create a pile of scraps but make no progress freeing her belongings.

I creep through the bedroom door, her scent is stronger in here. I watch as he dumps a drawer full of her clothing on the bed. The stack is too tall and some items topple over the side to the floor.

He turns around when I yell at him to stop. “Sax, you want to help?” he says as he replaces the empty drawer, and pulls another out. I leap on the bed, climb the teetering pile, and sit boldly on top.

At first I say nothing, just watch as he swings the drawer around, ready to pour its contents over my head. A fuzzy sock tumbles from the partially up-turned drawer before he realizes I’m sitting here. “Hey, what are you doing up there?”

We stare at each other for a moment. Finally I tilt my head still trying to translate his meaning. Did ‘up there’ imply to my being on the bed or on the pile of clothes he’s too easily discarding. I don’t wait to find out. Grabbing the sock in my mouth, I flee the scene. My new mission–save whatever I can of hers.

On my fourth trip into the bedroom the squint of his eyes tells me he’s getting suspicious. He stops what he’s doing and watches as I casually clean my paws. It’s almost as if he’s daring me to steal something else. I do.

I grab the closest garment and hightail it out of the room. He chases me until we reach the basement stairs. He pauses, fumbling for the light switch. By the time he finds it I’ve already disappeared. His descent down the stairs is slow and methodical as he clicks his tongue and calls ‘kitty, kitty’. This is a special call that she mastered long ago, but he never did. I ignore his attempt to get me out into the open and wait for him to leave my territory.

I sit very still as he moves closer to my hiding spot. He’s talking to himself, something about a tail. He’s an idiot. Any time now he’s going to give up and go back upstairs.

A loud screech echoes, then a shadow falls over me. I scan the area for the cover that once was… He moved the couch! I’m totally exposed. I dart to the right and skitter around the corner before he can get his hands on me. For a long second it’s quiet. Then I hear my name… “Sax, Oh come on. Kitty, kitty.”

Since he’s begging I return, but keep my distance in case he tries anything funny. “Hey cat, what are you doing with her stuff?” He’ll never understand. There’s no point in hanging around, so I race up the stairs and quickly search for a new hiding place.

The next day I’m drawn out by the smell of fresh tuna. Before the idea of a trap registers I’m in the kitchen gulping down the delectable meat. I know he’s there. He’s watching me again. It’s too late to run, so I eat more. He lets me finish the plate before he scoops me up and carries me into the living room.

Next to the fireplace is a small wooden enclosure. Inside are her pillow, fuzzy socks and a soft tee-shirt. He’s made this… kept her things… just for me.

He places me inside the handmade box and smiles before kneeling down. His hands gently stroke my fur from my head to my tail. He wants to soothe me, thinks this offering will make everything better. What’s to keep him from tossing the box, with me in it, right out the front door? Nothing, that’s what!

On the third rub of his hand I hiss. Claws fully extended I lash out at his hand and flee back into the basement. I miss his skin on purpose. It’s a warning, not an attack. We’re not friends. Not yet anyway.

I won’t be fooled that easily, he has to earn my trust. He has to love me unconditionally, the same way she did.

© Sandra R. Campbell

Attention Readers & Writers!

On Friday, October 10, 2014 I will be speaking on two author panels at the Creatures, Crimes and Creativity Conference in Hunt Valley, MD.

2:00 pm – Writing romantic suspense

3:00 pm – Using the 5 senses to engage readers

For those unfamiliar with the #C3Conference, this is where fans and writers of mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal rub elbows. Three days of various panels, workshops and mix and mingles that are of interest to both reader and writer.

Don’t miss out on the spine-tingling fun! Sign up HERE!

You can also follow me on Twitter @Dead_Sassy. I’ll be live-tweeting throughout the event to give you a behind-the-scenes peek.

In preparation and celebration of the upcoming event, Butterfly Harvest and Dark Migration will discounted at Amazon.com. Grab your copies today!

BUTTERFLY HARVEST (BOOK 1)

Normally $2.99, now only $.99. Limited time offer.

Butterfly Harvest

Seanna Raines only wish is to escape her miserable, barely-functioning family. Samuel is an ancient being, bored and alone, his only desire is to create another immortal – successfully. When Samuel rescues Seanna from an altercation with her alcoholic father, Seanna believes he is the perfect man. Just the scent of him has her head swimming in a beautiful fog. But when she accepts his first gift, a delicate black butterfly, her life is irreversibly changed.

 

DARK MIGRATION (BOOK 2)

Normally $3.99, now only $1.99. Limited time offer.

Dark Migration

Seanna Raines is on a journey of self-discovery. Only her search does not include college applications or finding a cool summer job. After killing Samuel Bolvayne, the ‘man’ she fears and loves, Seanna is not looking for who she is, but rather what she will become. To survive, she needs to find out what her transformation means: super strength, the ability to smell human emotions, and an ever-increasing need to devour human souls. Seanna travels to Samuel’s earthly homeland, along the coast of South Africa, in search of answers. Here, she encounters several of his failed experiments, who claim to know the truth. These abominations lead her into a sinister world of chaos and destruction, where the birthplace of evil is revealed.

 

 

Editorial Review for Dark Migration!

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Dark Migration (Butterfly Harvest #2)Dark Migration by Sandra R. Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Editorial Review courtesy of TBR – topbookreviewers.com

Are you afraid of the dark? Dark Migration starts out with Seanna Raines reliving her memories of a fresh killing. The story begins with a twist and keeps you on your toes the whole time. Seanna is not your average girl. She was created by Samuel whom she killed by sucking out his soul and then gained the souls of everyone he in turn killed. The question is, did she kill in self defense and will she kill again? Unfortunately, her body is starting to crave souls with greater intensity. Her guilt about the metamorphosis she is going through and killing her “maker” create conflicting emotions. She is not sure whether she loved Samuel in the true sense of the word and her fears drive her on a journey to find out more about her own creation and Samuel’s past. Her Dark Migration is fascinating and Sandra R. Campbell, the author, leads the reader into this adventure with ease.

Campbell forms visuals with words effortlessly and weaves a storyline that is scary. She creates a tension with her unique characters that immediately captures interest. The plot is a dark fantasy lover’s dream come true. The humor, budding sexual awareness, experimentation, and growth that Seanna experiences engages the reader more and more throughout the novel. The introduction of secondary characters is seamless.

Seanna’s struggles take her to South Africa where she uncovers more of Samuel’s history. It is dark and, as she meets more of his creations, she realizes there are no easy answers to her confusing emotions. Not just emotions, but something is changing deep inside her through this journey. Not only does she discover that Samuel has made more than one creation, but meeting them and trying to survive leave her with a terrifying choice.

As Seanna continues her migration into darkness, she struggles with her humanity and realizes that there are people she cares deeply about. Will she retain that humanity or will her natural instincts turn her? You will have to read this treat to find out. This is an author that needs to hit the reading radar in a big way. Dark Migration is a fabulous novel and I am anxiously awaiting the sequel to find out what happens next! – TBR topbookreviewers.com

View all my reviews

DEATH: THROUGH A CAT’S EYE

So, I took a writing hiatus and ended up with this short story. It happened when I woke up one morning wondering how my husband and cat would get along without me. Enjoy!!

Waterfront Writers

cateyes

DEATH: THROUGH A CAT’S EYE

Written by Sandra R. Campbell

Hours ago they attempted to pull me away, but she said she liked the feel of my weight against her side. So, that’s where I stay until the very end.

My eyes can’t release the tears the others cry, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less crushed. I love her, too.

The sobs continue as I move from her side to rest my head on her chest. This is a familiar spot. Almost every night of my life I slept here, listening to the beat of her heart and the soft puffs of air move in and out of her lungs. But everything is quiet beneath my ear.

Where will I sleep now?

“You need to get Sax, in order for them to move her body,” the girl that slipped me peanut butter says to him.

I dig my claws…

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