Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Beast Before Thee

I am just 2 chapters away from finishing the first draft of A Beast Before Thee. Then, I will send it out to a bunch of beta readers, and the editing begins!
In the meantime, I put the first little bit of the novel into, and I learned that A Beast Before Thee is most similar to the writing of Kurt Vonnegut.
Intrigued? You should be. Stay tuned for more news on A Beast Before Thee, coming, maybe, soon.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Those were my 12 short story previews for the collection The First Year. as well as the most popular full stories. What did you think? Are you interested in reading anymore? Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks for your continued support!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Chapter 12: Promise (Preview)

          This story probably gave me the most grief. I wanted it to be the very last story, because I feel like it's filled with hope and promise for a marriage that has survived one of the hardest years, so it had to be really good. I wanted to leave me readers with a bang. 
          So, "Promise" probably went through more make-overs than any of my other eleven stories. My intent was to show that life keeps going after you get through the first year--you still have to work on things, new challenges and blessings will come up, and you have to keep up maintenance on your relationship. "Promise" is about the promises you made to each other, the promises you will make, and the promises of an exciting tomorrow. 
          This story isn't written from personal experience, so I had to rely heavily on the advice on others. I therefore don't really have anymore background information to share with you. So, here it is: The very last chapter of The First Year by Jillian Torassa. 
Chapter Twelve:
            12:55 PM, Thursday
I need to talk to you about something when you get home.
            Jason blinked at his phone. His brain quickly combed through the last couple of days, searching for something that he might have done to upset Rachel. Nothing came immediately to mind.
            Is something wrong? he texted back. Turning the key in the ignition, the car shuttered as the engine shut down. He glanced at his watch. He only had five more minutes left on his lunch break. He reached up and straightened his tie, waiting for his wife to text him back.
            His phone buzzed, and he clicked open the message.
            After work.
            He opened the door, stepped out of the car, and slipped his phone into his pocket, his stomach trying to wring his lunch out of him like water from a dirty dish rag. This was not turning out to be his day.
10:14 AM, Thursday
“Mr. Sullivan, do you have a minute?”
            Mr. Sullivan kept walking. “I never have a minute. Walk with me.”
            Jason ran to catch up with his boss. “Well, sir, I wondered if—”
            “Spit it out, man, I don’t have all day.”
            They had reached Sullivan’s office. He walked to his desk, and turned to look back at Jason, who stood in the doorway.
            “Can I come in and sit down, sir?”
            “Yes, yes, I suppose. Good God.”
            Jason closed the door behind him and sat stiffly at the edge of the chair that sat across from Sullivan’s desk. His boss looked at him expectantly, eyebrows raised, so he cleared his throat, and started. “Well, sir, my wife, Rachel, and I just bought a house, and—”
            “I don’t like where this is going, Murray. I’m not giving you a Christmas bonus in the middle of May. This is a business, not a soup kitchen.”
            “No, sir. I know, sir, but I know you are looking for someone to take over Hansen’s position, and I thought, maybe, you might consider me. For the job.”
            Sullivan stared at him with small grey eyes. “Why would I do that?”
            “I have always performed at a high level of professionalism in your company, and—”
            “You have had no experience in that department.”
            “No, but I have a decent sales record, and I’m a fast learner. I know I would be a good man for the job.”
            Sullivan cocked his head to the side. Jason sat up a little straighter. He felt like he might throw up, but there was no reason for Sullivan to see how nervous he was.
            “I’ll think about. It might be a more attractive option than hiring from the outside.”
            Jason closed his eyes and tried not to smile. “Thank you, sir.”
            “I’ll let you know by the end of the day whether I can even consider you for the position.”
            “Fair enough, sir.”
          “Now, get out of my office.”
          “Yes, sir.”
7:59 AM, Tuesday
          He looked up at his wife. She stood in front of the table, wearing an over-sized white t-shirt and hot pink knee socks. Her green eyes were narrowed.  
          “What, sweetheart?”
          “Why didn’t you unpack the bathroom box, like I asked you to?”
          He stared down at the bowl of cereal in front of him, trying desperately not to roll his eyes. “I forgot. I’m sorry.”
          She pulled out the chair in front of her and sat down. “I have a meeting with a potential client today, I spend all of my free time unpacking, and—”
          “I’m sorry. I’ll do it after work.”   
          “I have a lot on my plate right now, and it would make things a lot easier if the house weren’t in a complete state of chaos.”
            He reached across the table for her hand. “I’ll do it after work.”
            She bit her lip, her eyes still narrowed. “Fine.”
            “I’m going to be late. I’ve got to get going.”
            “I’ll even put my bowl in the dishwasher, before I leave.”
            A small smile cracked the left side of her face. “Thank you.”
            He went over to kiss her on the cheek, convinced that a crisis had been averted.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Chapter Eleven: Recreation (Preview)

I don't know what possessed me to write this story. It's kind of random. I wish I had more background information, but I don't. So without further adieu, here's the "Recreation"  preview: 
Chapter Eleven:
They were following me, so I had to get out of here. I’m sorry.
Take the money and the license. You know where to meet me.
Talk to no one. Burn this letter.
Be safe.
I love you.
          Lauren folded up the letter and kissed it. A big red lipstick mark and his name were all you could see on the outside. She put it on the table next to the bag of money, the bandana, the sunglasses, and the Hawaii driver’s license that said “Tualitan P. Monibags.” Brian had never taken her to Hawaii, and this was her chance to drop a hint that she’d like to go. Snickering at the awful picture of him—his brown hair all over the place, and his eyelids half closed in a blink over his dark blue eyes—she pulled her scarf over her thick red hair, and slid her dark glasses up the bridge of her nose. She glanced around the studio apartment one last time. It was time to go. 
          She flung her purse over her shoulder and headed for the door. It was quiet out in the hallway. She closed the door behind her and turned around to lock it. Click. The money would be safe in there. For now.
She glanced to her right and to her left. No one. She silently blessed the carpeted floor that muffled her footsteps as she headed for the elevator. No, maybe the stairs. No. The elevator would be less suspicious. She pushed the “Down” button that glowed yellow at her touch.
          Come on, come on, she thought.
          She glanced at her watch. Brian would be off soon. She didn’t have much time.
          Brian clasped his hands behind his head and stretched. Finally. It had taken him way too long to finish that stupid project. He looked at his watch. 5:30. He wondered if Lauren would have dinner ready for him by the time he got home, because he was starving. She only ever cooked him dinner when she had the day off, so the chances weren’t bad. 
          “G’night, Peter,” he said as he stood up from his desk.
          “See you later, man.”
          Brian grabbed his briefcase and headed for the door. He loosened his tie with his free hand as he waited for the elevator that would take him down to the parking garage.
          A handful of cars remained in the lot, but there weren’t any on either side of his. Parking garages always made him feel a bit claustrophobic. He could never shake the images of cement and concrete collapsing on top of all those cars during the San Fran quake of ’89.
          His chest tightened for a split second as he spotted the little piece of white paper under his wind shield wiper. Then he smiled. Lauren had been here. The sound of his shoes clicking on the concrete bounced off the walls as he reached his car and grabbed the note.
I know you’re hungry, so you’re going to need to grab something to eat before you head home.
Make it fast. We have things to do, people to see.
I’m waiting.
                        I love you.     
          He folded the note back up and slipped it in his pocket. He knew this was coming, and now it was time to get serious.
          He slid his key into the lock, opened the door, and ducked into the driver’s seat, wishing for the 500th time that Lauren would let him buy the big Chevy he had always dreamed of owning. The Fiero was a cool car, but he was just too tall for it. She, on the other hand, wouldn’t be able to lift her little 5’2 body up and into a big-ass truck either. Oh well. Big or little, a car wouldn’t be able to protect him from a collapsing parking garage. He jammed the keys into the ignition and started the engine.
          Taco Bell time. And then, to business.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chapter Ten: Spin (Preview)

          In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you read about children all over the world buying chocolate bars in order to get a golden ticket. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, an apostle for my church, made an amazing point: These children spend all there time looking for the golden ticket, but they don't take time to enjoy the chocolate bar.
          This train of though is where "Spin" came from. After I graduated, we moved back to Oregon and moved in with Josh's parents. It was easy to say, "We'll be happy when we have our own place, or two cars, or both of us are employed." It was harder to find joy in the our daily lives as stilly fairly-new-ly-weds, getting to spen all our time together.
          "Spin" is a story about enjoying your chocolate bar, while you search for your golden ticket. It's a story about deciding to find the good in a situation, rather than focusing on the bad. It's a story about looking for postives instead of negatives. And with that, here is the preview:

Chapter Ten:
           “Stupid cat!”
          The sound of Brownie’s claws skidding across the hard wood floor and Ainsleigh’s soft cursing, just loud enough for me to hear, reached the bedroom at the other end of my parents’ house where I sat, applying for jobs on the laptop.
          I rolled my eyes. “What happened?”  
          Ainsleigh was leaving the kitchen to come talk to me.
          “Are you alright?” I asked when she appeared in the doorway.
           Her pale cheeks had small patches of red on them. “Brownie jumped on my head when I was getting a glass of juice for breakfast. I’m sure she didn’t mean any harm. I probably just scared her, or something.”
           Ainsleigh’s short brown hair was, in fact, a mess.
          “Did you squirt her with the water bottle?”
          “Oh, Gid, you know I couldn’t do that.”
         “You have to train her, or else she’ll never know any better.”
          “I will next time.”
          I wasn’t sure that Ainsleigh would survive a “next time.” Her arms were already covered in scratches from the last time she got in a fight with my mom’s new kitten and lost, and the animal had a knack for surprise. Ainsleigh never saw her coming.
          She sat next to me on the bed. “Have you heard back from anyone yet?”
          I stared down at my hands on the laptop keyboard. “No.” 
          “Oh well.” She leaned over to plant a kiss on my cheek. “I’m sure you’ll get a call in no time. You’ve applied for what, twenty jobs? I’m sure someone will call you in for an interview.”
          Twenty-two jobs, actually. I kept track of them on an Excel sheet. Not a single call or email. I started to question the importance of the Masters in Finance I had received a week before we had gotten married.
          “When is your mom coming home from work?”
           I looked into her light brown eyes. There was a hint of fear in them. She and my mom didn’t get along terribly well. “She gets off at seven on Tuesdays, I think.”
          “Alright.” She tried to smile. “I’ll let you get back to the grind.” She got up off the bed and left.
          I looked back down at the computer screen: Please list any other skills that are relevant to this position. Well, for starters, I’m a genius? I’ve always been good at everything I’ve ever tried? I have a wife to support, so I’m extremely driven? Stupid people get jobs all the time, why can’t I? I started to lose confidence in my ability to I find a job, move out of my parents’ house, and get on with the rest of my life.
          Then, I felt a vibration on my leg. I looked down, and my heart started racing. There was an unknown number illuminated on the screen of my phone. Incoming call. I sat up a little straighter, cleared my throat, let it ring one more time, and answered.
          “Is this Gideon Simmons?”
          “Hi, Gideon, this is Martha from Chase Bank.”
          I closed my eyes and smiled. “Yes, hello. What can I do for you?”
         “Well, we wondered when you might be free to come in for an interview.”
          I pumped my fist in the air. “I am free anytime.”
          “Could we get you to come in tomorrow at eleven? We’ve already interviewed several people, but the branch manager asked me to contact you especially before we closed the bidding.”
          “Yes, that will be great.”
          “Alright, we will expect you tomorrow at eleven a.m. Have a good day.”
          “Thank you, you too.”
          I sat my phone back on the bed. “Ainsleigh, I got an interview!”

Monday, April 8, 2013

Chapter 9: Mountains (Preview)

          This is the part where I start to reveal how much of a nerd I really am. The particular argument featured in this short story actually happened. I changed the characters and moved the Renaissance fair across the country, but Josh and I really went to a Renaissance Fair, and we really got in a stupid argument because we carpooled with my family, and they were ready to leave before he was. 
          After a lot of yelling, tears, and unnecessary drama, we both realized how stupid the entire argument had been, but it did inspire me to write this story. "Mountains" is a story about making mountains out of mole-hills. You can't do that in marriage if either of you want to be happy. 
         I guess it's all about choosing your battles. There are always going to be things that get on your nerves; things that are annoying, unfair, weird, disgusting, or whatever else. But you have to ask yourself this: Does it really matter? Or can I learn to overlook it, so we can avoid an unnecessary fight that will lead us nowhere?

Chapter Nine:
          The stupid jester would not get out of my face. It was hot, I was tired, and I was sick of all the societal rejects that peppered the Spotsylavania Renaissance Faire with their overly-prominent bosoms, striped tights, and codpieces galore. But I had to be patient. We would leave soon enough. Why did Galen like this so much?
          Jordan, my 16-year-old sister, poked me in the arm. I turned to look at her.
          “How much longer do we have to stay here?”
          I bit my lip. This was important to Galen. His family loved this kind of thing, and they had frequented Renaissance faires, Civil War reenactments, and Scottish festivals every summer since he was very young. This was the first summer he wasn’t able to do it with them, and he desperately wanted to share it with my family instead. The problem was, he had also been working since we had gotten married to earn my dad’s respect, and watching my father stare at a foppish dandy with a bright doublet and feathery hat with disdain,
I would guess this whole experience would set Galen back a few points in Daddy’s book. People who enjoyed this sort of thing did not gain Daddy’s respect. Galen should’ve known that by now.
“Galen just wants to stay until after the joust,” I said.
          Jordan rolled her eyes. I couldn’t help but agree with her. Secretly, of course. I wanted Galen to think I was having a good time.
          “He’s not even here,” she said.
          “He went to get food. He’ll be back.”
          I leaned against the fence, wishing they had known about AC back in the renaissance. At least this faire had a lot more shade than the one he took me too last year, I thought, trying to find a silver lining. That was something. The tents filled with odd fairy trinkets, swords, and leather merchandise weren’t half as miserable when they were blocked from the sun by the big chestnut trees.
          Unfortunately, the joust, which we were now waiting for, was not in that area. It was in an open, dusty, very hot arena, surrounded by stinky honey buckets and sweaty men and women in five-thousand layers of velvet. We were leaning against a crude fence, and my mother had just been complaining about splinters when she wandered off to get some wine. I wondered if she knew it would probably be spiced.
          “M’Lady Alexandria!”
          I spun around and spotted Galen. I hoped Daddy hadn’t heard him call me that, because I was Alex. Not Alexia, not Alexandria. Alex. Daddy had given Jordan and me boys’ names so that we would each have a better chance of becoming a CEO of an important company, or president of the United States, or ruler of the world, or something like that. He would have been appalled if he had heard Galen calling me something so feminine.
          I tried to smile at Galen as he bounced toward me with a grin on his face. I hadn’t been able to talk him out of wearing his woolen kilt to the faire, but at least he wasn’t the only one dressed up. With his blonde hair slicked back and his white legs sticking out between the green and red fabric and the white socks pulled up to his knees, he was quite the specimen. Good or bad, I hadn’t decided yet. 
          “I bought us some haggis for the joust!”
          My eyebrows crinkled together as I watched him near me with an offensive pair of red and white-striped paper boats with what promised to be a greasy and probably disgusting lunch inside of them, even if it wasn’t actually sheep’s pluck encased in stomach. “Are you serious?”
          As he caught up to me, he swept my auburn hair off of my shoulder and kissed my cheek, laughing. “Nah. Just a couple of corn dogs I got from ye old concessions stand down yonder.”
          I tried not to cringe. “Great. But that isn’t terribly historically accurate. Are they even allowed to sell corndogs at these sorts of things?” Last year a little kid on a pony with a stick for a body yelled at me for like a minute because I wore tennis shoes instead of crackowes. It was especially irritating because crackowes had gone out of fashion by the time the English Renaissance had really gotten into full swing anyway. I wanted to yell at the kid to get a real horse and lay off my Nikes. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Being a Professional Writer

While I'm writing my newest novel and trying to get my collection of short stories published, I have to find some other way to supplement my income. Thus is the life of a writer, I suppose.

So, I've applied for a bunch of different writing jobs/gigs on Craig's List.

So far, I've been hired to be a professional blogger with BlogMutt, and I've applied to be a trivia writer for another company called Pub Quiz USA.

Wish me luck.

The sooner I get paid for my writing, the sooner I can call myself a professional writer!