Question and Answer with J.J. Azar (#2)

Hello, lovely ladies and classy gents!

This is J.J. Azar serving you a hearty bowl of Q and A! Thanks once again for your questions and support. Here is the chowder which came of your efforts! Enjoy! (HD viewing is highly recommended).

As always, stay classy!

~J.J. Azar

Novel Excerpt #2: Campfires at Midnight

Hello, lovely ladies and classy gents!

Earlier this week, I presented two options as to which excerpt from my novel-in-the-works you would be interested in taking a gander at. The competition was close, as it was last time, but the majority of you fine individuals selected Choice #1, pulled from a chapter titled, “Campfires at Midnight.” Thanks to all who voted! The excerpt’s summary is as follows:

Clarence and Kairi settle down by firelight to unwind after a long day’s travel. But the night is prolonged when Kairi pulls out a bottle of uju…

I sincerely hope you enjoy it. Any thoughts on the passage would be greatly appreciated.

Without further ado, here it is!

(Word count: 1190)

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The flame ignited with a spectral moan.

Kairi’s pretty face appeared in the darkness and she lifted her eyes to look at Clarence. Her features glowed in the yellow firelight, blue eyes sultry as ever despite the faint circles that underlined them. The chill in the air was already melting away. The sight, the warmth, even the sound of the quiet crackling fire was a comfort to Clarence. And yet, he couldn’t help but pay mind to the tightness blooming in his chest like a thorny rose. He could be around fire with a sane mind; of that he was sure. He had spent countless nights beside campfires and countless days beside inn hearths since the accident without incident. Even still, the episode he suffered two nights ago instilled upon him new fear. A vision stroke, Bechamel had called it. Clarence hadn’t a reason to suspect that sitting beside a calm fire would trigger an inadvertent attack, but a caution lingered.

Kairi must have noticed, because she gasped a feminine gasp. Women had a habit of reading faces. “I forgot! Let me put it out.”

“I’m alright, I promise,” Clarence insisted with a raised hand. The heat felt nice pulsing against his skin.

Kairi tightened her brows at him. “Are you certain?” she asked, voice steady. “I do have the means of keeping you warm if we put it out.”

Clarence couldn’t help a wolfish grin from sprouting across his face. He raised a considering finger to his lips. “Do you?”

Kairi nodded, her rich blonde hair reflecting glints of gold radiating from the fire. Her grin was just as mischievous as his. Maybe moreso. The girl broke her crouch and settled her knees on the cavern floor so she could reach her bag which lay a couple of paces away. She grasped the sack and pulled it towards her, a feat that would have proven significantly more difficult had the bag been filled to its capacity as it was when the trio had departed two nights ago. Food went quicker than the wind, it seemed, but Kairi assured Clarence that there was plenty left. He had yet to lay eyes on the contents of the sack himself, of course. He didn’t believe that touching a woman’s bag was proper, really. That was just one of those rules about being a man.

The Gish stuck her hand into the leather bag and removed it after a short bout of clattering. Emerging in Kairi’s grasp was a green bottle large enough to sate a table’s thirst at dinner. Even through the green glass and the glare splayed upon the bottle by the steady fire, Clarence could determine with certainty that the liquid inside wasn’t soka. Soka sparkled like fireworks, and a proper Gish wouldn’t lift a bottle of soka for casual consumption. Not even a fiery spirit like Kairi. “What is it?” Clarence asked.

Kairi traced her finger around the bottle’s corked tip and, through a simmering smile, said, “Uju. Alcohol always makes me feel warm when I drink it.”

Clarence tsked. He pulled a knee to his chest, allowing his other leg to rest extended across the rocky ground. He smiled into Kairi’s face.

“Alcohol doesn’t do anything for me,” Clarence confessed.

“You mean you do not like it?” Kairi asked. The flesh around her eyes contracted ever so slightly. She still wore that melting smile, though. Was she challenging him?

“No,” Clarence replied. “I like it. I like Scotch, sometimes. I just…don’t believe in it.”

Kairi cocked her head sideways. Clarence cocked his head in turn. When had she moved so close to him? The warmth emanating from her skin was hotter than the heat fanning from the crackling fire. “You do not believe it is moral to drink alcohol?” she asked, digging into his eyes with her own.

Clarence hesitated. How could he explain this? Best to come right out and say it. It was midnight, after all. The moon softened hearts. Perhaps Kairi would be open to what he had to say. Fighting to keep his voice stoic, Clarence pronounced, “I don’t believe a man can get drunk the way everyone thinks.” Kairi only stared, her blue eyes locked onto his. Her smile filled her face to her forehead. “You are teasing me,” she determined.

“No!” Clarence resolved. “Think about it. How does a man seem when he drinks?”

“Stupid,” Kairi responded without pausing to find the thought.

“Exactly, he seems stupid. If you give a man an excuse to act stupid, he’ll seize the opportunity. That’s all alcohol is: an excuse. Does it touch the mind in a physical way? I don’t think so.”

Kairi studied him, searching his face for a tell. “You do not believe that.”

Clarence shook his head, expression stony. “I believe it.”

“Then you have never kissed a bottle.”

“I have,” Clarence assured her. “To no effect.”

“Are you drunk?” Kairi asked, black brows drawn down in a tight furrow. “This is how men talk when they are drunk. They speak boldly of things they know nothing about.”

He would show her bold. The green-eyed man released the knee he held to his chest and shifted himself so he was on his hands and knees, a wolf prowling. He leapt atop of Kairi, turning her from her side to her back. She laughed as he slipped his hands into hers. He held her pinned as she had held him, once. Looking down on the girl was a sight. The Gish’s golden hair lay splayed on the cave floor like a wave around her head. Her chest stirred up and down with her breath. Her blue eyes were fixed on his greens. Her smile touched her ears. Clarence leaned in so his nose was a touch away from hers and said, “Men speaking boldly of things they know nothing about? Kairi, you just described a sober man. You see? Alcohol doesn’t change a thing in your head.”

Kairi shrugged her mouth, good spirits pouring through the expression. “I have seen women drink themselves to where their minds tell them to climb atop men they have seldom spoken to. Is that not the work of alcohol?”

The girl’s breath smelled sweet. Like honey. Clarence cocked his head and scanned Kairi’s eyes without any apprehension about his exploration. Her smile told that she was open to being explored, and she seemed to be taking a good look at his eyes as well. Perhaps in a manner more brazen than bold, Clarence dared to say, “If I’m not mistaken, I think I remember a particular girl climbing on top of me with a perfectly sober mind.”

Kairi dropped her jaw. “I was subduing you, Clarence Cash! And it was you who played words with me. I did not make advances.”

Clarence allowed his green eyes to fill with gloating. He had the girl on the defensive, now.

Copyright 2017 J.J. Azar

Thank you for reading!

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

You Choose: Which Story Excerpt Should I Share? (#2)

Hello, lovely ladies and classy gents!

Long ago, I posted a poll presenting you fine people with a choice as to which passage of my story-in-the-works you would like to read a sample of. The competition was heated, but the result prompted me to share this excerpt. To my surprise, it was overwhelming well received. You guys humbled me, and I still appreciate that you dedicated a few minutes to read the brief extract. Given that the last time I shared a chunk of my story was in December, I figure it’s time to give it a go once again. After all, this is the place where I share every aspect of my writing journey. This time around, both excerpts are about 1400 words long. So, if you would be so kind, please take a gander at the options below and vote as to which you would be most interested in reading. Or don’t! Low voter turnout never hurt anybody!

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Choice #1, pulled from a chapter titled, “Campfires at Midnight”

Clarence and Kairi settle down by firelight to unwind after a long day’s travel. But the night is prolonged when Kairi pulls out a bottle of uju...

Choice #2, pulled from a chapter titled, “For Cash, For Coin”

After months of labor, Kal is finally prepared to unveil the weapons he painstakingly crafted for Clarence. But what Clarence gets is not what he expected…

Here is the poll!

If you’d like some assistance in making a choice, I can help you out in the comments!

Thanks for voting!

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

January Writing Update and My New Deadline

Hello, lovely ladies and classy gents!

At the end of December, I laid out a game plan after I failed to meet my self-imposed first-draft deadline. Since then, I’ve done my best to make the changes pinpointed in the post. Let’s see how I fared.

A Writing Environment. Done. Despite not raising enough money to build a writing barn, I’ve located two ideal writing spots in my home. Both are comfortable. Both have outlets within range. All is well. (Thank you to the anonymous donor who contributed 18 cents to my writing barn. Maybe next year).

A Set Writing Time. Done. I’ve determined that it would serve me best to write at night, after the day’s obligations have been fulfilled. Thus, I no longer open my writing document when I know I won’t be able to write anything. It sounds like common sense, but I was previously in a rut of clicking the doc, scrolling, and abandoning it because I didn’t have a window of time during which I could work on it. This makes the time when I do open the document more precious.

Exercise. Done. I’ve been going to the gym Monday through Thursday and working out at home over the weekends. I’m committed. It’s good stuff.

Focus on Demand. NOT done. Won’t be done. Impossible. Sounds too close to drugs. I don’t do drugs.

YouTube. Kind of done. I’ve chilled out with the YouTube. With everybody losing their minds over the state of politics here in the US, I’ve withdrawn for my own sanity, cutting down on YouTube significantly. So that’s good.

BioShock. Done. I haven’t touched the thing. I can’t wait to return to it though!

Snapchat. Highly controlled. It isn’t consuming as much of my time as it once was. Trust me, I’m good 🙂

Blogging (while writing)Highly controlled. Something’s clicked in my head and I’ve applied more focus into the novel-in-the-works when it comes time to write.

Not bad, eh? Now, about the writing…

The month of January thrust an array of new things into my lap virtually all at once: a challenging semester, a triumphant return to work, a classy lady, etc. With that, I’ve adopted a disciplined mindset to adjust to all of these things. It’s the writing I’m still trying to figure out. As it stands, I’m at a crucial moment in my novel. I’m about to introduce Carmengrove, a town which serves as a major setting in this story and will serve as a major setting in stories to come. I want to ensure that I understand the town’s workings and populace before I put a word to paper. I need Carmengrove to live and breathe. And so, every time I open up the document, I find myself taking notes and building up the setting. This preparation may be stalling the writing progress as it’s measured by page count, but it’s a necessary part of the process, so I’m entirely fine with it. That’s the deal with my writing. I’m sliding back into it, and I’m more excited than ever!

Finally, I’ve locked down the new deadline for the first draft of my novel-in-the-works. The date is…

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Drum roll please!

JUNE 15, 2017.

It’s nowhere near as dynamic as the previous deadline of January 1st, 2017, but it’s my deadline! Why June 15th? Frankly, June 15th is one month after I finish my Spring semester of college. I don’t want to cram the deadline into the school year (because it worked so well last time 😉 ). I figure this date gives me plenty of time to finish up this first draft! I am being patient with myself, and I hope you’ll be patient with me.

That’s the January Writing Update for ya, folks! I hope the first month of the year treated you well.

Thank you for reading.

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

Writers, Trust Your Readers

Hello, lovely ladies and classy gents!

Today, I want to dive into an issue which has been irking me for quite some time. The idea of trusting the audience is something that I once thought to be simple. As a young lad, my father and I went to the movies nearly every weekend. What I wanted was simple: I wanted for the director of whatever movie I was seeing to trust the audience. I did not want to be spoon fed, I wanted to figure things out for myself. I wanted to think. This is one of the reasons why Inception struck me so profoundly that I deemed it my favorite movie upon leaving the theater. It remains my favorite to this day even after over 20 viewings across the years (If you think DiCaprio was awake at the end, you are sorely mistaken and we can talk about that in the comments. Don’t worry, I’m a professional. It’ll be okay).

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Things have changed a bit for me. Now I’m in the creator’s position, except in my case, I’m writing a novel. The rules are different. When one commandeers a film, visual detail is obligatory. Shots must be framed and filled to portray moods and focus attentions. Yet when one wields a pen and tackles a blank page, the circumstances differ. Detail is no longer obligatory. The author must provide some detail, of course, enough to paint a living picture and a fluid understanding in the reader’s mind, but how much is too much? How little is not enough? This is what I’m wrestling with through the lens of trusting the reader. The issue is one of space: How much space should the author leave open for the reader to

1) create images?

2) unravel plots?

Let’s address the first point: When it comes to creating an image of a setting populated by characters, how much space should the author leave open for the reader to fill in himself/herself?

I have found that my writing is laden with an abundance of visual and sensory detail. (If you would like read a brief excerpt from my novel-in-the-works, you are welcome to do so here). Like any writer, I have a strong idea of what is populating my page at any given moment, and so I feel that, in order to convey the world to the reader, I have to write descriptively. Other writers prefer to write more concisely, offering key descriptions and leaving it at that. In many cases when I read, regardless of what the author describes a character as looking like, I tend to imagine whatever I want. So are my heavy descriptions futile? Perhaps for some readers. Nonetheless, I’m still seeking balance.

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In some cases, I will set a scene using extensive detail. In other cases, perhaps when the dialogue is meant to be quick or there is sudden action taking place, I’ll forego the details and cut to the chase. I figure this provides a cushion to the reader to piece together what is happening for himself/herself while it also serves as a pacing technique. I think Robert Jordan showcases the technique of forgoing detail expertly. Typically, Jordan describes everything in his world with hyperfocused detail. The exception? Swordfighting. Instead of describing movements of those engaged in combat, he attributes names to the moves exercised by blade-wielders, names like ‘Swan Rises Over the Lake’ and ‘Horse Trots Through the Field.’ Descriptions in that vein brilliantly entrust the writing to readers’ imaginations.

Ultimately, I want to approach trusting the reader with filling in visual blanks as follows: The first time I introduce a setting or character, I won’t restrain myself from describing what I feel needs to be described. Over time, the necessity of such description about the same characters/settings will become unnecessary. I will trust the readers, at the point, to understand the desert as it is portrayed in my story, as it is a frequent setting. I will trust the readers to understand the intonation of my characters’ speech and their novel expressions after a time. I will still describe the settings and expressions, but I will describe them for the sake of indicating them rather than re-explaining them.

Trust applies perhaps more readily to the story element of plot (point 2). My younger self demands that I not spoon-feed the plot to my readers-to-be, and I certainly don’t want to let the kid down. Linear, predictable plots are no fun, but writing Inception is no easy task. How can an author trust the reader to bear not knowing something? How can an author handle withholding information from the reader and trust that he or she won’t shut the book and stop reading? I think the answer is simple: give your reader bread crumbs with some peppered olive oil! So long as your reader is given morsels of delicious bread at every turn, they will stick around for the main course and leave full and happy. But if you throw a steak at your reader soon as they sit down and rush them out the door soon as they finish, they won’t be charmed, they’ll be annoyed and frankly unimpressed.

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Much the same, the bread will help you to make your dramatic reveals all the more impactful. “Oh, that was hinted at in Chapter 2! And in Chapter 5!” I learned this lesson after failing to leave bread for the reader.

Many months ago, I sent a very early draft of my novel-in-the-works’ first chapter to my cousin Alex Azar, author of Nightmare Noir. He gave me the following criticism about the passage below:

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“This carpet, where did you get it?” the stranger demanded. His silver-green eyes frantically tore across every inch of the carpet’s ornate design. The question wasn’t particularly directed to either of the couple, and so both hesitated, unable to comprehend why the man could possibly be interested in a soiled rug.

Lynn-Holly shook her head profusely as if to rid herself of her confusion. “A client gave it to me. It was a gift.”

What does she do that she has a client? If this does take place in the 1800’s she wouldn’t really have a job unless she’s a hooker and her client is a john. – Alex Azar

___

I got a good laugh out of his criticism, but after I laughed, I searched for the earlier bit where I explained that Lynn-Holly was a seamstress to show him that he must have skipped over that part. Alas, I couldn’t find the part because I hadn’t written it! I know that Lynn-Holly is a seamstress, it’s no secret, but I forgot to tell the audience! Thus, this passage made no sense. This instance provided me an important lesson that if I want something to be so within the pages of my novel, there must be breadcrumbs. There must be context. If you give your reader bread, and the bread is good, and you refill the bread basket frequently, you can rest easy knowing that they will probably enjoy their steak when it comes.

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So that’s all. What do you think? How do you go about trusting the reader? How do you balance detail with imagination? Mystery with reveal? Let’s talk!

Thank you for reading. As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

I Am Writing

The following is what I expect my WordPress experience to be every time I post something.

*walks on stage to a silent crowd*

“So…ah…”
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END

To my surprise, my expectations have been wildly exceeded. Thanks for that.

Since day one, I’ve made a conscious effort to keep from putting out any “throw away” posts. I understand the utility of such posts, but I’ve elected to keep things real so that when you lovely ladies and classy gents click on a post of mine, you can always expect something substantial (The Jesting Parables have not quite met my standard of substance, but they are remnants of me attempting to find my footing blog-wise. You won’t catch me posting another).

With that, I figure it’s perfectly fair to say I’m holding off on sharing another planned post in the interest of working on my novel. Given that this is my blog, everything is fair by definition, but you know how I feel about technicality (see last week’s hummus analogy in my post about Violence) [<—probably the last time I will ever use those words in that order].

My point is I’m writing. I’m writing hard. I wrote 5 hours on a plane yesterday. If I could have, I would have written 5 hours on a train too, and 5 hours more in Spain, and 5 more in the rain, and 5 more still in a crane (the construction device, not the bird. That would be weird). I’m enjoying myself immensely. It’s challenging, but it’s a joy. With the holidays here, I figure y’all are busy regardless. I’ll spare you a cerebral post and leave it at that: I am writing.

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

(‘featured image’ Magnificent Seven art by Renato Casaro)

Question and Answer with J.J. Azar (#1)

Boy, do I love referring to myself in the third person! (Honestly, it’s a struggle titling these blasted posts. This is the best I could come up with).

Anyways, you asked, I answered! In celebration of reaching 100 Followers(!), I gathered a bunch of your questions and answered them in video form. Thank God I didn’t answer them via text. The transcribed wiseassery would come across as far too pretentious without a goofy face attached to the words.

I did my best to keep the video as short as I could (5 quick minutes), well aware that you and I typically hop onto WordPress to read, not to watch videos. I had a blast making this though! If you have any thoughts about the video (or would like to compliment the fine candles behind me), drop a thought in the comments! I hope you enjoy. (No, really. I dressed up in a suit and everything. I went all out on this. LOVE IT, I TELL YOU!)

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

100 Followers! + Q/A Announcement!

HELLO, lovely ladies and classy gents! I woke up this morning to find a fat 100 plastered on the side of the blog. This can only mean one thing: 100 people accidentally subscribed to me. To those who tripped and fell onto their keyboards with enough ferocity to complete such a complex action, thank you!

In seriousness, I am deeply grateful for your follow, and it’s not for the number’s sake. Sure, it’s nice seeing my follower count climb (and make no mistake, 100 is a good-looking, classy number), but from the start, this endeavor of mine has been about supplementing my writing journey with interaction. I’m in this thing for the WordPress bell at the top-right of the interface. Since joining WordPress, I’ve found a whole bunch of impressive blogs full of substantial content. I’ve conversed with bloggers with diverse backgrounds, from diverse places, and with diverse interests. I’ve even exchanged some thoughts with readers who don’t blog. That’s cool too! I look forward to carrying on the dialogue. To all who have liked, commented, or otherwise exchanged a word with me, THANK YOU for making my blogging experience all the more satisfying.

Before I get to my Q/A announcement, I’d like to highlight what I consider to be my Top 5 favorite posts thus far in case you missed them. In no particular order and paired with complementary descriptions, here they are:

5 Books and the Lessons They Taught Me About Writing (like a refreshing Coca-Cola)

For Writers: 5 Reasons Why Consuming While Creating is Dangerous (like a bowl of nails without milk *shoutout to Spongebob*)

Mom, Thanks for Teaching Me How to Read (like hot chocolate)

November Writing Progress Update (like hot tea because tea is made with hot water)

A Brief Excerpt From My Novel-in-the-Works (like iced tea. Something refreshing)

SO!

Q/A. Question and answer. I’m having one. I know, I know, EVERYONE does Q/As. But I’m gonna make sure I put on a good one. Rumor has it that I may answer your questions in video form, but rumor is fleeting, so who really knows?…

Here’s the part where I pass the microphone to you. *passes microphone* Ask me some questions! Everything is fair game. About me, about the blog, about poultry…I’M OPEN TO ANYTHING! The less conventional the better! Of course, you can be vanilla if you’d like. That’s cool too. Whether it’s silly or not, if there’s anything you’d like to know, I’d be happy to tackle your questions. Drop them in the comments below and I will compile them to be answered in a post in the near future. I’m looking forward to seeing what whimsical questions you well-dressed people will cook up.

Ladies and gents, thank you once again. You truly are a classy bunch. Don’t ever forget it.

~J.J. Azar

A Brief Excerpt From My Novel-in-the-Works

Hello, lovely ladies and classy gents! Though the competition was close, I can confidently declare a winner following this week’s earlier poll. Based upon the results as of today, Choice #1, pulled from a chapter titled, “To Wrestle With a Starved Bull,” has emerged the victor. Thanks to all who voted! However you cast your vote, I hope you enjoy this brief look at what I’ve been working on. Do keep in mind that the novel is in its first draft, so plenty is subject to change. Regardless, I am proud of what I’ve done with this particular passage. If you have a thought about it, you are welcome to leave a comment. This marks the first time I have shared anything longer than a paragraph or two on the blog, and I am entirely comfortable doing so thanks to the positive interaction I’ve had with you ladies and gents over these last few months.

The only context I will provide for the excerpt is as follows: Clarence is 23. Kairi is about the same age, and she is a member of the Gish tribe.

Without further ado, here it is.

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Clarence saw nothing but lone rocks and tumbling weeds for leagues ahead. Perhaps now, a time free of distraction, was the proper time for he and Kairi to have a rest and talk the situation over. Arjuna had held her pace at a gallop for far too long besides. Intent on slowing the horse, Clarence prodded her with his bootheels, but the creature practically froze in her steps. “Woah!” Unprepared, Clarence was flung forward by the invisible hand of momentum. His legs reached to arc over his head. In the disorienting moment, a sinking sensation commanded his muscles to action. He reached for the leather sword belt around his waist and jerked it enough that it unraveled and fell away from him. Then, as his legs ascended in their damning arc, he reached for Arjuna’s neck and tugged tightly as he could. Gravity pulled him back down to the earth and his groin slammed against the horse’s back. Clarence spilled off of her side with a breathless grunt and toppled into the dirt with a thud.

Clarence pressed his palms against the pit of his belly where excruciating, hollow pain wrenched and twisted like a hot knife. He groaned despite knowing full well that Kairi was watching. Clarence hardly paid a care to the sounds of her scrambling off of the horse. He just lay in the dirt, face twisted in agony and burning scarlet as he rode the wave of pain that only a man could know. The bulging vein throbbing at his temple seemed ready to rupture on top of it all. Blast the horse! In the fiercest grunt he could muster, Clarence rasped, “Arjuna!” The exclamation attached to the name was more implied than anything. His attempt to scold the beast was pitiful.

Rolling in defeat, Clarence tossed from side to back to allow his air-deprived face to siphon what it could from the pink sky. He almost found calm in the view until Kairi’s face interrupted it. Couldn’t she let him suffer alone for a moment? But she was a woman, so she was bound to hover over him and bathe him in nurturing and light touches and assurances until she deemed his color healthy and fed him chicken soup to boot.

“Clarence Cash, you clodhopper! How do you manage to hurt yourself at every step like you are still a toddling child? Pick yourself up from the ground! Look, you are crying! I should have brought a boy from camp to guide the horse!”

The girl was right about the crying. There were tears tracing jagged trails down Clarence’s cheeks. But they were not tears of pain. Well, not all of them. Most were tears of delight. Kairi, the blue-eyed girl who had a presence like a crashing ocean wave, had taken that “chicken soup to boot,” stuffed it in the boot, and sent the shoe bobbing down a river. Why should he be surprised? A man could have better luck predicting the tides, the winds, and the clouds a particular day a year into the future than predicting what a woman might do in a minute.

“I’m not crying,” Clarence laughed as he brushed away tears with a dusty finger. He didn’t feel the slightest bit insulted by Kairi’s scolding. The rosy sky outlined her honey-blonde hair with a glow that dulled much of the edge which had sharpened her words. Surrounded by an easy aura projected by the sky, the girl seemed just that: a girl. And a pretty one, too.

Kairi gathered the space between her dark brows into a tight knot. She needn’t say a word for Clarence to know she demanded an explanation for his rude laughter. A flash of perception flickered in Kairi’s glass eyes and Clarence suddenly knew that he needn’t give an answer. She already knew he was laughing at her. “Clarence Cash, you are worse than a toddling child! You are an infant who needs his mother. Why are you laughing at my face?”

Clarence couldn’t help the laughter rolling from his belly. Perhaps the euphoric relief of recuperating from a knock to the testicles had roused something inside of him, though the thing roused couldn’t have been his brain. After all, any wise man would sooner wrestle with a starved bull than laugh in the face of an angry woman. But Kairi could not actually be angry. Could she?

Clarence sat himself up and wiped away a final tear. Dirt was smudged across his face, painting him filthier than he already was. He was long due for a bath. Long due. As for why he was laughing…“Don’t worry about it,” he assured Kairi through a boyish grin.

The Gish girl, perched at a squat, eyed him with her lips pressed in defiance. Clarence eyed her in turn, wearing his grin as a mask. The girl didn’t budge. She just stared with her vast eyes, stared as if the cool blue of her irises was an elemental force. But Clarence did not intend to sit there until he was buried under the avalanche. Or swallowed by the hurricane. Whichever happened to emerge from those formidable eyes, Clarence had no desire to be in its path. Not now, not ever. A starved bull before an angry woman any day.

Copyright 2016 J.J. Azar

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From there, things escalate, but as is implied by the nature of an excerpt, that’s all I have for you today 😉

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

You Choose: Which Story Excerpt Should I Share?

Ahoy, lovely ladies and classy gents! I hope all is well. If you’ve read my November Writing Update, you know that I’m working on my novel at full-capacity. Because I’m in story-writing mode, I figure there is no better time to share with you a piece of what I’m working on. On Friday, I will extend to you a short (2-3 page) excerpt from my novel-in-the-works so you could get a taste of what I’ve been up to! Here’s the catch! 

You (yes, you!) get to decide which excerpt I will feature. There is a poll below where you can vote for either snippet. Before you make your choice, you may want to take a gander at the info below, as it may help you to identify the excerpt you might be more interested in reading.

Choice #1, pulled from a chapter titled, “To Wrestle With a Starved Bull”

Clarence receives a knock to the family jewels due to his horse’s abrupt stop. Much to his dismay, Clarence can do nothing but writhe in pain in front of his new companion, Kairi. An exchange ensues.

Choice #2, pulled from a chapter titled, “For Cash, For Coin”

Kal, who was featured last week in a Character Tag, is caught in the middle of a lab accident. He is severely wounded. The description of his injury is graphic in nature, so this excerpt isn’t ideal for those who are squeamish.

Here’s the poll! 

(for WordPress users, you can vote without having to follow a link if you view this post outside of Reader).

If you voted, thanks for voting! If you didn’t…why didn’t you? It’s free. I’ll see you on Friday!

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar