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AJ Maguire
Writing Mayhem
Writing Mayhem
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I got to meet the lovely +Lisa Cohen for lunch today! I had a great time eating some wonderful sandwiches at a local joint and then... I totally met her puppies. It was so awesome I forgot to ask about the whole tick prevention thing she warned me about, lol
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Dear New England,

We are now 22 days past the Spring Equinox and you chose to snow again today. In the kindest terms ever; what gives?

Yours Sincerely,
A New Arrival

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Finally getting back into the swing of things! Working on the fantasy novel for this week's #saturdayscenes and I altered the beginning a ton.

---


The first time the lake tried to take him he’d been six. Kevin couldn’t remember all of it, just the sensation of being pulled under and the chill of water as he submerged. His mother used to tell the story of it, how this swan had seemed to lure him deeper and deeper. Every time she’d called his name he would stop and look at her, give a baby-faced grin and take a step back. But for every step back, he’d taken two steps forward, chasing the swan.

And then finally, hip deep in the shallows, the silty bottom gave way and six-year-old Kevin Campbell went plunging down.

Were it not for his mother, it would have taken him then.

In fact, his mother stopped the second happening as well.

Kevin snagged a pebble from the dirt and turned it in his fingers. Flicking his wrist, he sent the stone soaring, watching as it skipped over the water twice before sinking. The first of the snow had come. It rimmed the wide, black lake with a blanket of white and clung to the evergreens that crowded its banks. Frost glistened at the shallows and each fat flake of snow made the surface of the water shiver, sending ripples toward the shore.

Granite Peak towered off to the right, its flat face cutting against a gray sky. Kevin frowned up at it, so frustrated he wanted to scream. But shouting at a mountain wasn’t going to fix anything, so he took a breath instead. Behind him, footsteps crunched through fallen leaves and twigs. He didn’t have to turn to know who it would be, only one person in the world knew his hiding place.

“I didn’t know he was coming, Kev,” Josh said.

Kevin reached for another pebble, letting the cool rock chill his palm as he debated what to say. His mother always said it was better to be quiet than to be sorry.

An ache pulsed in the center of his chest, one word repeating with every pounding beat; Mom, Mom, Mom.

It wasn’t like the novels he’d read, where the heroes were able to picture lost friends and family members in their normal places. He’d thought it would be. He’d thought he would see his mother everywhere, and there was part of him that still expected her to come sauntering up the hillside, chastising him for being so close to the water.

But that part was swiftly silenced. Because Meredith Campbell was seven streets to the west and six feet underground.

He turned the rock in his fingers. It was warm now, the heat of his skin soaking into the thing until the winter frost was banished.

No, it was nothing like the novels he’d read. There were no haunting echoes of his mother’s laughter in their home, no visages of her cooking in the kitchen. There was only a dying lawn and a silent dinner table, and a raw stillness that seemed to infiltrate every corner of the house.

“Kev,” Josh said.

He could hear the plea in his stepfather’s voice and exhaled. Because he wasn’t ready to face him yet, Kevin nodded, gazing out at the lake. “It’s all right,” he said. “I should have known he’d come knocking after…”

His voice trailed, unable to reach that one throbbing word; Mom.

“Yeah, me too,” Josh said.

“I suppose he wants to know if there was anything left in her will.”

He wasn’t sure why, but he held his breath, waiting for Josh to answer. It was amazing that after ten years of silence, Kevin still had a sliver of hope that his father would be coming to make sure he was all right. He tried to deny it, but it was there and in the middle of his grief he couldn’t quite let it go.

“He might have mentioned something about the will,” Josh said after a moment.

His stepfather’s reluctance hurt more than the actual words. No doubt the man was afraid of losing another member of their family. Not that they acted much like a family these days. They never ate at the dinner table. It stood vacant in the dining room with its walnut veneer and matching chairs, but it no longer held the inviting feel it used to.

The bond that had held them all together was gone and they both knew it.

Kevin sent the stone skipping across the lake. “Well, what does he want?”

“He says he wants to talk to you.”

“What about?”

“Come on, Kev. What do you think?”

He turned to face Josh then, fighting back a scowl. If the idea of Kevin’s biological father trying to insert himself in their lives bothered the man, it didn’t show on his face. Josh stood with his arms crossed, auto grease staining his shirt, wearing the same stony expression he’d worn since the funeral.

Snow settled in his hair and beard, clinging there and making the blonde look several shades darker than normal. His hazel eyes remained fastened on Kevin, watching and waiting. Kevin wasn’t a master at reading faces, especially when it came to Josh, but he had a feeling that his stepfather was worried.

“I don’t want to talk to him,” Kevin said.

Josh’s shoulders relaxed a fraction. Silence took them, but neither moved. They stood gazing at each other, calculating and measuring like they always did. When Josh had married Kevin’s mother, the man had explained that he wanted to be a part of Kevin’s life as well. Kevin had been seven at the time, young enough for a new father figure but old enough to remember his real Dad.

They’d walked a tightrope those first few years but after a while Kevin had come to understand that parenthood had little to do with blood relations and everything to do with choice. Josh chose to stay, to encourage and support and get to know who Kevin was as a person, while Mason Hamilton remained a distant memory.

“I can tell him that for you,” Josh said. “But I think we need to prepare for him to get more insistent.”

A cold knot settled in Kevin’s stomach. “You don’t think he’d try to take me away, do you?”

Josh shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“Well, you don’t think he could win in court, do you? I mean, he gave up that right when he let me take your name, didn’t he?”

“Honestly, I’m not sure,” Josh said. “He didn’t fight the name change at the time, but that was ten years ago. And he didn’t sign away all his parental rights, just the name. So it’s anyone’s guess what he does next.”

Kevin rubbed the back of his neck, fighting back the desire to scream again. Everything was so unfair. Why was Mason doing this? Didn’t he know they were going through enough right now? The last thing he needed was a custody battle. And it wasn’t like Mason would have him for long, he was seventeen. In a year he would be able to make those decisions on his own, and he certainly wouldn’t be choosing Mason Can’t-Be-Bothered-To-Write Hamilton.

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So there I was, happily working away on my current writing project when I overhear my son talking to his Minecraft friends. I will never understand the appeal of Minecraft but, hey, he’s building things and I suppose there are worse games he could love.…
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Ooh, these are good books. Signal boost!
FYI - the 1st book of my Changeling's Choice series is on sale for $0.99 this week.

This is not Shakespeare's Oberon and Titania. And Lydia has no desire to be their chosen one. Welcome to the subtle war between overt and covert magic, where every choice has consequences. THE BETWEEN, Changeling's Choice book 1: a modern take on the myths of Faerie.

ljcohen.net/TheBetween.html
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Characters are a bit like the writer’s pox. Instead of itchy red dots all over our skin, we have itchy personalities peppering our minds. Some are louder than others and we end up scratching those first because no matter how many times we’re told we…
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That's right, I'm horrible with the whole marketing thing. I completely forgot that Persona was going to be FREE for KINDLE this week.

If you enjoy historical romance (sweet romance) then you might be interested in this WWII novel that follows Megan Shepherd, an American woman caught in the middle of Nazi Germany.

https://www.amazon.com/Persona-J-Maguire-ebook/dp/B06Y5XX9BW/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me=
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Well, look at me heading into #saturdayscenes before it's the end of the day. I feel accomplished or something. I am wrestling with beginnings at the moment, so the snippet for today is likely going to change between now and next week. But, hey, that's what revision is for.

---

They never ate at the table. It stood vacant in the dining room with its warm walnut veneer and matching chairs, but it no longer held the inviting feel it used to. Kevin suspected his stepfather felt the same whenever he glanced into the room, but Joshua Campbell had never been a man of many words and there was even less conversation between them now.

Still, the fact that they both avoided the room, choosing to take their meals out on the deck, seemed to suggest a mutual understanding that the table was significant. Or at least Kevin imagined there was. He supposed the truth would come out when winter stole the deck from them.

Leaning back in his white plastic chair, Kevin pushed a chili bean around with his spoon and frowned at their dying lawn. Dandelions peppered the once green square of land and a neglected sprinkler lay at the side of the house, an equally forgotten hose nearby. On the west side, sectioned out by rough cut logs, the garden was choked by weeds and growth.

Mom would never have let it get this bad, he thought and scowled at his chili.

An ache pulsed in the center of his chest, a repeated word searing into him with every beat; Mom, Mom, Mom.

It wasn’t like in the novels he read, where the heroes were able to picture lost friends and family members in their normal places. He’d thought it would be. He’d thought he would see his mother everywhere, and there was a part of him that still expected her to come bouncing out of the house to chastise them over the state of the lawn.

But that part was swiftly silenced.

Because Meredith Campbell was seven streets to the west and six feet underground.

He put his spoon down, letting it clatter against the bowl.

No, it was nothing like the novels he’d read. There were no haunting echoes of his mother’s laughter in the hallways, no visages of her working in the kitchen. There was only a dying lawn and a silent table, and an aching stillness that seemed to infiltrate every corner of the house.

He sat there staring at the tangled mess of vines and leaves for so long he lost track of time. It wasn’t until his stepfather shifted in his seat, leaning forward to set his empty bowl on the porch railing, that Kevin remembered where he was.

“I talked to Mason today,” Josh said.

Startled, Kevin glanced at him. “Mason?”

Josh grimaced and wouldn’t look at him. “Sorry, I mean your father.”

A cold sliver of fear snaked its way into Kevin’s gut. Why was his father calling? He hadn’t spoken to the man in ten years, not since he’d moved out of state and his mother remarried. As far as Kevin was concerned, Josh was his father now.

“What did he want?” Kevin asked.

Josh heaved a sigh and rubbed his face with one hand. “He wants to talk to you.”

“What about?”

“What do you think?”

Kevin scowled. What he thought was that his father heard about Mom and was trying to ride in and see if there were any provisions left in her will for him. But that was the cynic in him talking. The realist said that Mason Hamilton had never given up his full parental rights, and that Kevin was still nine months shy of eighteen years old, making him a minor.

Frowning at Josh, who had been his father for ten years, Kevin tried to gauge the man’s reaction. But if the idea of Kevin’s biological father trying to insert himself into their lives bothered the man, he couldn’t tell. Josh remained slouched in his seat, auto grease staining his shirt, wearing the same defeated expression he’d worn since the funeral.

He looked like the dogs in those humane society commercials, huddled in the corner of a cage, just waiting for the next cruel thing life would throw at them.

“Well, I don’t want to see him,” Kevin said.

Josh lifted his head to gaze at him, dark eyes clear for a moment, like he was finally seeing Kevin.

Don’t send me away, Kevin thought. Please don’t send me away.

The idea of living anywhere other than this house left a yawning hole in his gut and he held his breath, waiting for Josh to speak.
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A few years ago I would have said that editing was the hardest part of writing. Today, however, editing is one of my favorite parts of the process because I’ve learned how to accept that a rough draft is crappy no matter what. Accepting that fact has…
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Usurper has made its way to virtual shelves! You can find it on Amazon in both eBook and paperback. This is the third installment in the Sedition series that follows Trenna Dyngannon and her husband Nelek as they struggle to find peace between humankind…
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