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Want to be scared?

I’m excited to announce my new novel, Something New, is now available. It’s my first horror novel, a ghost story, about a mysterious gift and the past held within it. Inspired by my niece’s love of estate sales and my own strange experiences at home, this novel was a semi-finalist for the Dante Rossetti YA Fiction Award and the CIBA Paranormal Fiction Award. If you love a good scare, you’ll enjoy this one!

Buy it now on Amazon!

Ria thought it was only a necklace, a gift from a stranger.Turns out she was wrong. Now, Ria must break her connection to a vengeful spirit or suffer the same fate.

Seventeen-year-old Ria Gabriel always maintains control. Her life is predictable and organized, just the way she likes it, but receiving a gift from a mysterious stranger  turns her life into a living nightmare. Her once orderly days plunge into chaos when she begins to see haunting blue eyes in her mirror and hear a voice pleading for her help. Ria is haunted by visions of a girl, begging for release from her tormented past, but the more she sees, the more she questions the spirit’s real motivation as the vengeful apparition reaches into Ria’s very reality. As her life of order explodes, she doesn’t know how to appease the spirit, and the more she denies the ghostly girl, the more the girl’s torture becomes Ria’s own. 

Ria must unravel the mystery of her spirit girl’s tainted past before Ria herself joins her. 

Blog Post: I am the Pumpkin King!

Ah Halloween, the only time grown women are allowed to dress as a slutty pirate, and it’s supposed to be okay. A time for eating as much chocolate as possible and watching scary movies till you actually consider leaving your bedside lamp on.

We dress up our children and then authorize their begging for food. We even chaperone said begging by walking them around the neighborhood until their plastic pumpkins are full or they start crying, whichever comes first. What is it about All Hallows’ Eve that makes Americans spend over $8 billion a year?

I’ve got to admit, Halloween has never been my favorite. When I was a kid, it scared the hooey out of me. I hated scary anything–much less an entire holiday around it! I never went as anything remotely frightening, opting for hobos and princesses instead, and when I became double-digits, I stopped trick-or-treating altogether. Having grown up during the “razor blades in candy” time, I was always a little leary of the whole candy thing anyway, and after having my own children, I REALLY didn’t want to indulge in Halloween at all. But fear of warping them forever by denying that age-old tradition forced me to buy costumes and to do the whole shabang.

I’d like to say sharing in the excitement of Halloween with my kids gave me a new appreciation of it. I’d like to say that, but eh, not so much. I mean, who in their right mind wants to be scared? Who wants to fear the things that go bump in the night?

The answer: everyone! In the last couple of  years or so, I’ve experimented with the whole horror thing in preparation for a manuscript I was working on. I had a story to tell, and it just so happened to be a ghost story. So, I did what any good researcher would do, I watched nearly every scary movie on Netflix and recorded every paranormal witness/survivor/ghost-hunting show on tv. And over the course of it, I’ve finally realized why people like that stuff.

We want to be scared. We want that spike of adrenaline of watching the psycho chase the stupid sorority girl instead of actually experiencing it ourselves. We need that catharsis of the credits rolling at the end when we realize WE are still safe unlike the poor schmucks who just drove off before they realized the werewolf was still alive and writing down their license plate (not the worst plot I saw in all those B movies, trust me).

After I’d watched till I was becoming numb to the fear, I started my novel, telling my protagonist’s story with more experience in the scared to death field. I even managed to work in some of the creepy-creepy I’ve experienced in my own possibly haunted house. When last October 31 rolled around, I sort of looked forward to it even though I still stayed away from the scary costume, but who knows? Maybe this year I’ll have fangs and claws–and then I’ll buy a costume. 😉






Guest Blog Post: My Little Boogeyman by Kelly Hess

Halloween is by far my son’s favorite holiday, beating out even the gift-giving extravaganza of Christmas. I can still remember his joy the first time we took him to one of the Halloween stores in town when he was maybe four. He’s always been a creative kid, and I could see the wheels turning in his head as he walked through the store seeking the most frightening item that would scare the pants off the neighborhood kids.

Over the years, we’ve accumulated a garage full of creepy costumes, decorations, and battery-operated scare gadgets that we drag out every October, transforming our porch or garage into a spooktacular haunt for treat-or-treaters.

While he was young, my wife and I would have to hold him back a bit as his imagination would devise terrifying methods of scaring other kids.

“No, we aren’t going to fire up a chainsaw whenever someone rings the bell.”

“No, we can’t build a brutal axe-murder scene on the lawn.”

Once, being the sarcastic father I am, I jokingly suggested that we get a quantity of pig’s blood and pour it on people as they arrived. To my horror, he loved the idea. Stephen King, make room.

Even now that he’s a teenager, and we’ve turned over the keys to the spook house, so to speak, we still demand a thorough inspection of whatever he comes up with, just to make sure the local children won’t require therapy when he’s finished with them.

Ah well,  like any holiday, sharing the joy of it with our kids is really what it’s all about, and I’ve had nothing but fun with my little Boogeyman.


Kelly Hess is an author of YA fantasy and science fiction and all things unreal. His childhood love of reading and gaming inspired him to write as an adult. Imagining new worlds and new creatures is one of his great joys as a writer.

Kelly began his writing career after a catastrophic brain aneurysm left him unable to work at the age of thirty-eight. Since then, he’s written five novels for young adults; all of which were typed with his right hand, due to the lack of dexterity on his affected left side.

Kelly currently lives in Northern California with his wife and son, where he is busily working on his next adventure.

Blog Post: It’s not fair!

“The world isn’t fair, Calvin.”

“I know, Dad, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?”

―Bill Watterson, The Essential Calvin and Hobbes

Think back to when you were eight years old, and all you wanted was that $3 plastic wonder you just found in the toy aisle. You’re a good kid; you follow the rules, do your homework, hardly ever sass your mom, but when you show her this magnificent marvel of toyland, she says no. So, you take the walk of shame back to where you found it to put it up. But when you get there, a kid from your class is looking at the same toy. He’s not like you. He’s a slacker, always last to finish work, doesn’t follow the rules–in other words, the exact opposite of you. His mom caves quickly and gives him the thumbs up on the toy YOU wanted, the toy you DESERVED. And when you tell your mom this, she gives you the age old, “Life’s not fair,”  followed quickly by “you better get used to it”.

I always hated when an adult told me that–as though being told that injustice exists should somehow excuse it and make it completely acceptable. That little statement used to have the exact opposite effect on my child’s mind and make me more determined to make things equal, which usually ended in my utter disappointment with the whole world.

As an adult, I’d like to say I’ve accepted the lack of justice in my world and learned to somehow grow from the unfairness of life. I’d also like to say I weigh 120 pounds and have no gray hair, but that isn’t true either! Nothing gets to me faster than injustice. Maybe it’s all those years of trying to make things right, make sense of the senseless. Maybe it’s the anger and resentment inequality creates in the heart of humankind. Maybe it’s just how dang mad I get when someone gets something for nothing while the rest of us wallow in the mire of hard work and effort! Whatever the reason, I’ve never been able to, in the words of Elsa, “Let it go.” And I’ve often wondered why I should have to. I mean, wrong is wrong, and right is right. Why should we be okay with a situation just because life’s not fair? Why should we shake our heads at the unfairness and with a shoulder shrug, move on?

I’m an educator. I’ve worked with kids for over twenty years, and possibly nowhere in the world is injustice more noticeable than in that setting. I like to think I help alleviate those instances, but come on, you remember junior high. You’ve left behind the cocoon of elementary school and been thrown head-first into what feels like the most injustice-laden world ever, a place unfortunately often defined by the haves and have nots or the popular and the forgotten. The disparagement becomes so obvious it’s painful even for those of us not technically part of the crowd, the well-intentioned observers who try to balance the scales for that fifty minutes we have you in our rooms. But what the kids don’t realize is that the injustice doesn’t stop at the lockers.

Adults see it every day in the workplace. You work your tail off–late nights, early mornings, get there so early you have to turn on the lights in the hallway or stay so late the janitor shuts OFF the lights on you. And you look around at the dark rooms of those people who walk out, empty-handed mind you, as soon as it’s quittin’ time. Then at the end of the year (or quarter, or whatever you have at your job), your diligence is lumped in with their laziness so that no matter how hard you work, you still can’t make up for their ineptitude, but somehow they keep sliding by while we pretend they aren’t the cause of the problem. And you’re supposed to fall back on “life’s not fair, deal with it”? Cue the blood pressure spike.

I’ve seen this so many times that I should be used to it, but I just can’t accept that unfairness is okay. Last spring, I posted an informal survey on social media, asking whether or not people speak out against unfairness, and the overwhelming answer was it depends on the situation. But should it? Should it depend on the situation if right is right? Shouldn’t we who uphold justice ALWAYS speak up for fairness? Will it do any good? Maybe. Maybe not. But at least I can sleep at night knowing I tried.

While I may still tell my own kids that life’s not fair, I will no longer tell them to get used to it. I will, instead, ask them what they intend to do about it.

Blog Post: Meltdown

When my daughter, Liv, was around five, my niece and I took her to a “meet the princess” event at a local Chick-fil-A. We dressed her in her favorite powder-blue Cinderella dress, her sparkly tiara, and her clear-plastic, glass slippers, and I think we were more excited than her. After all, when I was her age, I would have been over the moon to see real-live princesses, have a butterfly painted on my cheek, and take home an 8 x 10 photo to commemorate the epic day, but alas, I forgot this was MY fairytale, not hers.

The July sunshine beat down on a parking lot transformed into a princess paradise! Colorful tented areas and brightly clothed little girls all looking like mini Belles, Cinderellas, and Ariels created a picturesque scene where pink glitter was only overshadowed by the brilliant smiles on those faces. Despite the face-of-the-sun heat, we got out of the car and started toward the crafts, face-painting, hair-doing, and nail-painting area. My daughter’s death grip on my hand should have been my first indication of a problem bubbling like a wicked witch’s curse, but my mind was too enamored by the pleasant possibilities ahead and the photo ops that I could savor for years to come.

Now, Liv has always been a contemplative little thing. From her earliest days in diapers, my strange bird has been thoughtful, not the “are you okay” thoughtful but more like the true definition as in “full of thoughts,” so I’d become accustomed to drawn brows above her big gray eyes, but I  should’ve been more thoughtful (in the former sense) that Saturday. If I had been, I might’ve predicted the explosion that was about to demolish my picture-perfect day.

My niece, Katie, is one of the kindest people I know, and she’s fantastic with kids. In fact, she’s a better mom to my kids than I am. She immediately took Liv’s other hand and squatted down to eye level with her to ask what she wanted to do first. Did she want to make a cute craft? Did she want her cheek painted? Did she want flowers braided into her hair? And while all of these other girls ran laughingly around us, Liv stood stock still, shaking her head at each suggestion and moving so close to me that she became another appendage. After exchanging a glance with Katie, I suggested we go inside to eat, thinking she might just be peckish or that she would get excited once she saw the princesses set up inside. Clue number two of approaching danger should’ve been when my child with her normally healthy appetite refused to eat her nuggets and stared, wide-eyed the whole time at the princesses. After begging and promising, we finally convinced her to pose with a princess. Not even the photographer with his endless bag of “happy” props could coax a smile, but with the picture snapped, we went back outside to wait our hour until it was ready. We made it as far as the first curb before Liv’s class five meltdown.

When I was a kid, I’d watched some cheesy movie about a nuclear power plant disaster, no doubt created in the wake of the Chernobyl. I remember clearly the female robotic voice warning of the impending doom and how the characters had raced to escape the red-lit plant as the countdown commenced. And when my pretty princess sat down on that curb in the Chick-fil-A parking lot, that scene flashed into my head, red lights, sirens blasting, and all! My calm, little miss had a full-on, meltdown in her Cinderella dress and plastic shoes. All I could do was stand, mouth open, and listen to her scream. Her eyes were wild as her cheeks turned a neon pink that would’ve given that flashing red light a run for its money, and her sweaty hair curled crazily around her lopsided tiara. It was my first experience with a true tantrum, but child had had enough. She wasn’t about to enjoy herself, and she was tired of me trying to make her.

Liv taught me an important lesson that day. What we want isn’t always what our kids want. I SO wanted her to have a day she’d love, but I’d given her a day I would love, not her. I’d tried to force my aspirations on her instead of asking what she would like. We all want our kids to be something. No mom sees her child for the first time and thinks, “Gee, I hope my kid grows up to be a loser.” We all want–more, more than we did, more acclaim, more joy, more success. But our idea of acclaim, joy, and success may not be the same our child’s. I’d tried to force her into my mold, and it had resulted in an embarrassing, ugly tantrum where she made it clear this wasn’t her thing, and I hadn’t bothered to ask her.

Did she get in trouble for her little explosion? Yes, because she can’t go through life thinking screaming on the curb is appropriate. Did I get my perfect princess photo to love forever and ever? Nope, we left immediately.  But the lesson of that day has stayed with me. I’ve seen a few more meltdowns in both my kids since then, but none as memorable and beneficial as that day. Teach your kids to respect you, but remember to respect them sometimes, too, and remember, your little princess may be a screaming banshee inside. 😉

Wanna be scared?

It’s fall y’all, and to celebrate, I’m sharing a spooky chapter of my newest novel, Something New, the cautionary tale of what happens when you open a supernatural door and something slips in beside you. But be warned, I’m not responsible if you can’t sleep tonight. 😉

I saved my AP history paper on Mary Todd Lincoln and closed my laptop before leaning back and rubbing my forehead. Picking up my phone, I glanced at the time–– 10:22, well past dark. Jake hadn’t texted, but that was expected. I hadn’t bothered to text either him or Rachel. I’d told Mom I’d apologize when they came home, and technically they weren’t home yet. I was going to use the loophole as my excuse. She was right. I needed to apologize, but that wouldn’t make it any easier to swallow my pride and admit I was a jerk.

I sighed loudly, dreading the chore of bringing Cain inside. Cain and I had a relationship based solely on ignoring each other. After our last encounter when I thought he’d take my head off, I’d avoided him as much as possible. I doubted a whole bag of treats would coax him inside, but I had to try. And honestly, as much as I hated the hassle of bringing him in, my practical side wouldn’t let me forget I did feel safer with him here and Mom and Dad gone.

I slid on my slippers and trudged downstairs to the kitchen, not bothering to flip on any lights. Mom always kept a small lamp on the counter which she’d rigged to a timer and set to come on before dark. Along the tops of the cabinets among the antique bottles and canisters, Mom had strung white Christmas lights that came on at night also, so I knew there’d be enough light to bring Cain inside. The lights reflected in the huge mirror hanging above the breakfast table.

I unlocked the French doors and stepped out onto the patio, rubbing my arms against the chill air. I tucked the hair that had slipped from my ponytail behind my ear as Cain trotted up, the tags on his collar ring jingling.

“Come on, Cain.” But Cain plopped down on his haunches. “No, up, inside,” I commanded. Cain tilted his head, the light from the patio reflecting in his chocolate-brown eyes. He shook his head as though he were answering and laid down on his front paws. I sighed again. “You aren’t going to make this easy, are you?” I shifted toward him, and he jerked to a half-crouch, the way he did when he played keep away with Jake.

“No, Cain, I don’t wanna play. Let’s go in.” The wind blew beneath the hem of my shirt, and I shivered. “Cain,” I whined, “please, I’ll give you a treat.” At the promise of a treat, he jumped up. When we got back inside, I tossed him a beef strip from the treat bag and locked the door behind us. I started across the kitchen, but Cain sat in front of the French doors.

“Let’s go.” I swept my arm forward, but Cain whimpered. “What’s your deal?” I took another step toward the oversized doorway leading to the family room. Cain whimpered again and turned toward the patio, bumping his nose against the glass as though he wanted to go back out.

“No, it’s time to be inside.” But Cain turned in a circle, his pitiful whimper growing. Great, he must need to go. “Ugh! Why didn’t you do your business when you were outside?” I stomped back to the door. Mom would kill me if he stained a rug, and I sure wasn’t dying to clean up after him. “Now I’ll have to wait while you go.” Cain jumped up, leaving marks in the cream paint beside the door. “Down! What’s wrong with you?” I had to use my knee to shove him away from the doorknob. Cain hadn’t jumped at the door like that since he was a puppy, and Dad had broken his jumping with a vibrating collar. He nearly knocked me down as he barreled out onto the patio. I expected him to make a beeline for the corner of the yard where he usually left his little gifts, but he stopped at the edge of the rock patio and turned back to me. He growled, the “I wanna kill something” growl he normally reserved for delivery men. I pointed my finger.

“Don’t you growl at me again, stupid dog. Go. Do your thing so we can go back inside.” I shooed him with a flick of my hand, but he only growled louder, the hair on his withers standing up. The last time I saw him this upset was when another dog had snapped at Jake in the park last year. Goosebumps broke out on my arms that had nothing to do with the open door. I turned around quickly, but the kitchen looked exactly as it had a minute ago. I turned back to Cain, whose growl grew louder as he lowered his head.

“You’re freakin’ me out. Stop it.” But Cain continued to growl. I mentally ran through my lockup checklist. I’d locked the deadbolt on the front door when my parents left, and I knew Mom would never leave a window unlocked. The patio door had been locked when I came down. I either had to get the dog inside and let him search the house, or I had to go out with him. When Cain’s growl turned to a bark, I jumped and dashed out the door. I immediately thought of the last time he’d barked at me, the day I’d gotten the necklace, and my hand found the pendant beneath the collar of my t-shirt.

Cain immediately came to me and continued growling toward the kitchen door. My heart was pounding as sweat broke out along my back. He wasn’t growling at me this time. Whatever had him upset was inside the house.

My eyes searched the semi-darkened doorway, but with the patio light glaring above me, I couldn’t make out a thing. I had to get a grip. I pressed my hand against chest, brushing my fingers across the clover pendant. I fiddled with the pendant, sliding it along the chain and breathing deeply in an attempt to calm my racing pulse.

Suddenly, Cain stopped growling and bumped his nose against my hand. “Are you completely mental?” I asked, wondering if I might be the mental one. I knelt beside him, and he tried to lick my face as I massaged behind his ear. “Do we go in now?” I stood and walked back to the door, but Cain stopped at the threshold. “Not again.”

Despite the fear I had of going back inside, we couldn’t stay out here all night, but I wasn’t about to go in without him. I’d have to lure him in. I grabbed a treat from the bag, but Cain didn’t move. “Come on, boy.” I shook the treat, but he stayed as though commanded.

I sniffed the beef strip and crinkled my nose. “Wouldn’t work on me either.” I’d need something a little more tempting. I walked slowly across the kitchen, scanning from side to side. My heart nearly jumped right out of my chest as I caught my reflection in the big mirror above the table. I had to stop myself from running back outside.

This was ridiculous. I huffed out a breath and clutched at my chest again. I was letting my imagination get the better of me. I pulled open the fridge and dug around in the bottom drawer where Mom kept the lunch meat. A slice of ham ought to do it. I glanced over my shoulder where Cain had backed all the way to the edge of the patio again. Better make it two slices. I grabbed another slice and shut the fridge.

“Alright, Cain.” I held the slices by my fingertips and shook them. “I’ve got a special treat.” But Cain’s hackles went up as a low rumble broke from his raised lips. “Cain! Now stop it!” The hair along my neck and arms stood up as a cold air rushed toward me. Whatever he didn’t like was between us.

I stepped toward him, and he stepped toward me, barking uncontrollably. Spit flew from his mouth. The lamp and string lights flickered. I jerked my head toward the counter on my right. A gush of air to my left had me whipping in that direction where my eyes caught my reflection. The stone in the center of my pendant flashed in the light as another image materialized in the mirror.

The shape was vague at first and slowly materialized into the shape of a woman or girl. The girl was more of a gray outline than a solid image, colorless except for the eyes. Her crystal-blue eyes drew mine in the mirror, but when I jerked my head toward the kitchen, no one was there. I looked back at the mirror as a bead of sweat trailed down the center of my back. I couldn’t clearly make out her face. It seemed to swirl and change constantly. She reached toward me, her mouth moving but no sound escaping. I stepped back and bumped into the counter, the ham slices falling from my hand. I glanced to Cain who’d stepped within the doorway, where he still barked fiercely.

The girl’s image moved toward mine in the mirror. I held out my hand and screamed, “No!” The image swept from the mirror and materialized before me, except it was no longer just an image. Her body was more solid and less than a foot from me. I couldn’t see through her though she remained that colorless gray. “No!” I tried to step to the side, but my slippers caused me to stumble, and my backside hit the kitchen tile hard. She leaned toward me, her hand reaching again as her eyes shifted from that mesmerizing blue to black. My eyes squeezed closed of their own accord. “Cain!”

I heard a flurry of claws across the tile and a scrap of something sharp against my stomach, and when I forced my eyes open, Cain was standing over me, hackles lowered and his big tongue hanging out in a pant. I scooted from under him and sat leaning back against the counter. We were alone.

Want to read more? Go to Swoon Reads and read for FREE!

Guest Blog Post: How to Write a Book by Kelly Hess

My name is Kelly Hess and I am an addict. My addiction? Reading those How-To-Write-A-Book books.

If you are a new and aspiring author, no doubt you will seek as much information as possible on the craft of writing. The good news is that there are dozens, hundreds, billions of books out there that will tell you how to write brilliant scenes, well-rounded characters, engaging stories, all with plots that twist and turn. Then other books will tell you how to publish your work and become a best-selling author and earn a million dollars.

But be warned. What they won’t tell you; the epidemic you won’t hear about on the evening news, are the dangers of using these books. I’ll tell you: It’s a pathway to addiction. I’m living the nightmare.

I don’t know why I’m so enamored with these books. They aren’t particularly exciting. Some of them are downright bad. But I keep going back to the well. One more hit. One more fix. It’s a vicious cycle.

Before my sickness, when I wrote my first novel, I jumped in blind, writing it just to have something to read to my son. He was five at the time, and I’d read to him every night since the day he was born. We were between books and I thought to myself – I used to like writing in school. I know what he likes. Well, before I knew it, I ‘d written a book. It wasn’t great. No first drafts are…ever. So I went out and bought a stack of  How-To-Write-A-Book books. And I read. That’s all it took.

With this new knowledge, I revised my manuscript which became my first novel, Eyes of the Enemy. Before writing my second book, I dove back into the pool and got a few more writing books. One was about writing a series. Soon, my first book became the first book in a trilogy, BlackMyst.

Now they’re all I read. And I have to ask myself: Am I trying to become a better writer? Or do I really just love reading How-To-Write-A-Book books?  Most likely, I’ve been searching for that mythical golden nugget of information that somebody out there must have. I’m seeking that invaluable tidbit that will tell me once and for all, how to write that best-seller.

Listen, I’m going to save you a fortune in book costs. The secret to writing is to write. Write whenever, however you can. Just like golf, sex, and video games, improvement comes with practice.

I’m not saying that these books can’t be useful. They can! Just be careful. And if you find yourself huddled under your covers late at night with your finger hovering shakily over the BUY button on your Kindle, preparing to purchase your thirty-fifth writing book, it’s time to admit you have a problem.

Go write! Then write some more.

Me? I’m going to check the mailbox. My new How-To-Write-A-Book book may have arrived. Just one more fix. I can quit any time I want.


Kelly Hess is an author of YA fantasy and science fiction and all things unreal. His childhood love of reading and gaming inspired him to write as an adult. Imagining new worlds and new creatures is one of his great joys as a writer.

Kelly began his writing career after a catastrophic brain aneurysm left him unable to work at the age of thirty-eight. Since then, he’s written five novels for young adults; all of which were typed with his right hand, due to the lack of dexterity on his affected left side.

Kelly currently lives in Northern California with his wife and son, where he is busily working on his next adventure.

Guest Blog Post: Physical Character Attributes in Fantasy by Melody Steiner

I tend to create characters with unique physical attributes. That’s because the reality is, when it comes to genetics, there’s still a lot we don’t understand. Yes, it is possible for a person to have hair growing all over their body including their face. Yes, it’s possible to have bark-like skin. It’s possible to be dark skinned and have blue eyes. It’s possible to be born of dark skinned people and have light skin. It’s possible to have red eyes. How? Don’t feel like explaining the science of it all. But a lot of things are possible outside of our norms.

I happen to be a person with dark skin and light eyes (hazel). And I routinely get singled out because of it. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Comment #1: some form of compliment.

Me: Thank you!

Comment #2: “Are they real or contacts?”

Me: Nope, they’re real.

Comment #3: some type of how did this happen question.

Me: attempt an explanation about dad with blue eyes and mom with brown that still doesn’t even really make sense to me, scientifically speaking.

I’m not especially sensitive about this, because I’m aware enough to know that people have a tendency to single out what looks different. But this is my ongoing experience, and a part of my normal interaction with society. Fundamentally, I suppose I am drawn to characters with unusual physical characteristics because I can, in a very small way, relate.

But you won’t see a character who’s in my novel’s inner circle ever singling someone out for looking different. You’ll see a lot of peripheral characters pointing and staring. My main cast is generally pretty accepting though. They may ask questions once they know someone and it is relevant to the plot. In different ways, every one of my main characters has experienced looks and stares for their own oddities, though, so they are aware enough to know what it feels like to always have to be explaining why they look the way they do.

For me, the goal is to write relatable characters that are fundamentally human–with all the flaws, quirks, and genetic perfections that entails.


Author Bio:

Melody Steiner is a novelist, librarian, warrior woman, and a mother. She grew up in a home where science fiction and fantasy were staples of the imagination. Her earliest novels were written in elementary school and involved rocket ships to the moon, alien life, and gumdrop kingdoms at war with other invading candy nations.

Over the years, she found herself drawn to fantasy stories that empower female characters and particularly women of color. Currently, she’s based near Columbus, Ohio, along with her husband and the wild things they call “children.”

Her recent work, Slither, is a traditional fantasy about a young woman who is enslaved by a herd of dragons. You can find her at or on her author facebook page:


Social Media Links:


Looking for Something New?

I’ve been working on this manuscript for a year, and it is FINALLY finished! I have to say, I really love this one. It’s completely different from anything I’ve written before. It’s a ghost story, some of which is based on experiences in my own home! Feel free to share this post or tag someone who might want to read it.

Want to read it for FREE? Check out Swoon Reads. If you do read it, please leave a rating.

The Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Ria Gabriel always maintains control. Her life is predictable and organized, just the way she likes it, but receiving a gift from a mysterious stranger turns her life into a living nightmare.

Her once orderly days plunge into chaos when she begins to see haunting blue eyes in her mirror and hear a voice pleading for her help. Ria is hunted by visions of a girl, begging for release from her tormented past, but the more she sees, the more she questions the spirit’s real motivation as the vengeful apparition reaches into Ria’s very reality.

As her life explodes, she doesn’t know how to appease the spirit, and the more she denies the ghostly girl, the more the girl’s torture becomes Ria’s own.

Ria must unravel the mystery of her spirit girl’s tainted past before Ria herself joins her.



The Silent Majority: A Very Short Story

american-flag-graduation-cap-4I solemnly swear that the story you will read is 100% true. If you don’t believe me, ask my classmates, those who are still alive and not incarcerated that is.

A long, LONG time ago (circa 90ish), I was a senior. Aside from the small number of students in my class, my teeny-tiny school was no different from any other. Being a senior was the most important event of my thus-far uninspired existence.  To be a senior meant  . . . well, everything! There were so many plans to be made, outfits to buy, and hair to be teased. We’d all worked hard to get to that point, and we took our decision-making seriously, outrageously so.

In fact, a handful of us–literally like five–decided we would make all of the choices for our senior class, our motto, our song, and the color of our graduation gowns. The Fab Five had struggled for years through all of the tough classes. We would be the honor students, and we thought we far outclassed our fellow seniors because those who make the top grades are naturally the ones who should make the choices, right? See when you begin to think of yourself as the “cream of the crop” a funny thing happens; you  forget others have opinions, too, opinions that don’t always match your own. But none of that matters when you have the control. You see others as too diminutive to care or even matter.

So, we rolled through senior year, choosing homecoming skits and posters, class favorites, officers, yada yada yada, until the day came to choose the really important stuff, the stuff that differentiates you as a class, the “forever” stuff (incidentally, the stuff you forget about five years after graduating). We gathered in our sponsor’s room, armed with our list of demands, no longer even choices in our minds, more substantial like cement. Then our story takes a turn. Unbeknownst to our protagonists, a cabal had formed–a coup the likes of which we’d never imagined. A treacherous fraternity had plotted to overthrow the Fab Five! Our silent majority had united behind a singular plan, take away the power of the Fab Five. Our world plan toppled. We got exactly what we deserved–absolutely nothing.

The thing is, as bitter as I was about wearing a bright purple gown, I see now how wrong we were. We tried to impose our ideas on a group that had their own ideas. AND WE WERE SHOCKED THAT IT DIDN’T WORK! It took five years, but finally our silent majority stood up to us and said, “No.” They weren’t any happier about looking like a bunch of grapes on that stage than we were, but they’d made their point in the loudest voice possible. We took for granted that we always knew best, and we didn’t.

All day post-election, I’ve thought about this memory. I realize before you Facebook scream at me that it’s not exactly the same. But you have to admit, it fits the situation.