Lamar Giles
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Story Time

Story Starters: Leonardo U., 6th Grade

Hey there Dear Readers! Yet again, I had the privilege of attending the Virginia Children’s Book Festival at Longwood University, and play Story Starters with many awesome young writers. As is Story Starter tradition, when a writer finishes a version of the story we started, I publish here.

This year we have a very nice piece from Leonard U., 6th Grade, of Prince Edward County Middle School. Submitted for your approval…

The Story Of Myself, Brady And The Pursuing Executioners  by Leonardo U.

My name is Brady and i am running from the wicked executioners. They are hunting me because i accidentally pushed someone off of a cliff. I was captured but i managed to escape the prison. Now i must run towards the dock to sail to Las Vegas to escape the executioners. I am now on the boat hiding from potential executioners. Thankfully there are none of them on the boat. However, right before i get there, an iceberg hits the boat and it sinks. I frantically swim to the shore for my life. Eventually, i reach the coast of Las Vegas. I run to the nearest hotel and get a room. I decide that i should stay at the hotel for today. I do not know what i will do after today. However, i have finally escaped the executioners. For now that is the end of this story, goodbye.

Let’s give this Story Starter a hand, folks. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more from him soon!

Until next time!


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Shhhh…(kinda top secret)

Hey gang, just doing my usual drive-by posting. News and updates are going to be coming faster and furious(er?) since FAKE ID debuts in LESS THAN A YEAR!!! It’s been such a long journey that it’s hard to believe we’re so close now. HOWEVER, this post is not about my current project. It’s about my NEXT project.

Can’t give you details yet because it’s still in the classified phase (black bars and all), but here’s a glimpse at how things are progressing.

BTW – Everything’s not blacked out.

New Project_small

More soon…



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The Serpent & the Stallion – On Sale Now

The Epic Fantasy collaboration between myself and Becky Rodgers Boyette is now available in the Kindle Store (Nook version should be live later today). It’s a great book to load on those brand new eReaders that’ll be under the tree this holiday season.

The heirs to the horse kingdoms think an unwanted betrothal is the worst of their problems. Smug Simeon and fire-tempered Faryn have no wish to be wed, not even to unite the tribes. Raj, obsessed with his brother’s fiancé, would gladly take Simeon’s place. But when Faryn’s homeland is attacked by a gruesome army driven by an ancient evil, lovers’ quarrels become a fight for survival. Aided by their telepathic horses, the trio must pull together or perish as they embark on a quest for answers. In a world where friend becomes foe and prophecies read like riddles, the passion of one will determine the fate of all in the final battle between The Serpent & The Stallion…

Check out my interview over at Becky’s blog where we chat about how this project came to be…

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Go On Girl! Book of the Month – LIVE AGAIN

The Go On Girl! Book Club has selected LIVE AGAIN as their Book of the Month selection for July.

I spent time with the ladies of GoG! in May at their annual conference and it was incredible. Not only did they give me total red carpet treatment, but they honored and humbled me by showing so much love for my book.

Thanks Go On Girl! I hope you all enjoy reading Live Again as much as I enjoyed writing it.

If anyone out there cares to read along with the ladies of GoG! this month, you can purchase paperback copies of Live Again from Mahogany Books (GoG’s official bookseller), or you can get digital copies for you preferred eReader by following the links on this site.

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Winter is Coming

I passed the huge displays in my local Barnes and Noble. Skipped the ads in magazines. Zoned out when friends raved about this episode or that episode. Ultimately, I shrugged the whole thing off. Game of Thrones was like NASCAR to me. Popular for reasons I just didn’t understand. Plus, I didn’t have HBO anyway.


Due to automobile trouble, I found myself stuck in the house this past weekend. On a lark, I called up my local cable provider and had Home Box Office added to my package (really, just to catch up on Entourage…I still wasn’t sold on GoT).

What a difference 10 hours and OnDemand can make.

I can probably count on one hand the number of times a TV viewing experience has felt transcendent to me. After this weekend, another digit just popped up. I can’t stop thinking about it, and I’m really about to buy each of George R.R. Martin’s novels because I don’t think I can wait until spring to know what happens next.

That’s it. No anaylsis. No clever observations. I just feel like a kid again, back in the days when watching The Twilight Zone and Tales from the Darkside was just as important as getting three meals in. Hell, those shows were the meal.

I think I just added another helping.

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What book are you chasing?

First, I’m not going to give you suggestions on the best ways to follow a shot of top-shelf whiskey. For those who feel mislead, I’m sorry to disappoint. Moving on…

The title of this post is actually a reference to the 1997 film Chasing Amy written and directed by Kevin Smith. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a pretty funny indie film currently available through Netflix Instant Streaming. And you might want to view it before I reveal this little tidbit that explains the origin of the title when no one in the film is named Amy.

*spoiler alert*

Towards the end of the movie the Silent Bob character, who is played by the director himself, gives a poignant monologue about how he messed up a good relationship with a woman named Amy over something that, in the scheme of things, was stupid. Now, he spends his days trying to find the same level of fulfillment he experienced with her. He’s constantly “Chasing Amy”.

I can’t relate to Silent Bob’s relationship woes because I’m happily married, but I’m a bit of a book whore. It occurred to me that I spend a lot of time trying to find a book that gives me the same level of fulfillment as certain other titles I’ve read over the years. I’m not the only one, and publishers know this, which is why when a book or series is successful, you immediately see a thousand clones (painfully obvious in YA right now with every other book aiming to be this week’s Hunger Games). Thing is, the clones almost never live up to the original*, so, sadly, the longing is never fulfilled.

That’s neither here nor there. See, for me personally, I think there is ONE  book (MAYBE two) that moved me so much that I’m always trying to find a book that gives me the same level of enjoyment and satisfaction while disappointing me because I know it has to end. For me, it’s NIGHTWORLD by F. Paul Wilson (BLOOD BROTHERS by Steven Barnes is a close runner-up).

I read both books when I was 19 years old, and they CHANGED me, influencing my reading and writing habits ever since. Now, I spend everyday chasing Nightworld.

What about you? Any particular book that you can’t seem to get out of your system, no matter how many books you read? Please, let me know in the comments.

*If you know of a book that was an obvious clone of another, but somehow surpassed the original, please share. I’d be interested to check them out.

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SCREAM 4: Spoiler Free

My wife and I checked out SCREAM 4 (or SCRE4M if you prefer…I don’t, but you might) last Friday, and I can’t seem to get this film off my mind, so I decided to pass on this semi-obsession to you. You’re welcome.

First, just like my post on WOLVERINE: OLD MAN LOGAN, this is NOT a review per se. I liked the movie. I thought it was plenty of fun, and despite what some critics and the box office receipts indicate, I’m going to say it was the best installment since the 1996 original. With the exception of a very effective joke based on the movie-within-the-movie, STAB, I think you could easily view 1 and 4 back-to-back and enjoy a complete viewing experience without missing a beat. But, I digress.

I really want to talk about the experience of the movie itself, and how it wasn’t quite the nostalgic booster I thought it was going to be (and how maybe that’s a good thing).

When the original SCREAM premiered, I had no interest in seeing it. It looked stupid to me. I was 16, so a lot of stuff looked stupid to me in my infinite teenage wisdom. It was by my cousin’s recommendation (or maybe I should say abduction since she just about dragged me to the theater after seeing–and raving about–it the night before) that I made it to a Saturday showing. I won’t go into any big recap about Drew’s shocking death in the opening scene, or the crazy number of red herrings, or the big dual reveal. I’ll just say I was impressed (like the rest of Teen America), and by the time I made it to college and SCREAM 2 premiered, I needed no prodding.

What I remember most about the SCREAM craze of the 90’s was the rush of knockoffs, each one demonstrating the Principle of Diminishing Returns. I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER was the best riff (mostly due to Father SCREAM Kevin Williamson’s involvement), and URBAN LEGEND was the first–but certainly not the last–weak entry into the scrum. Despite the sense of “I’ve seen all this before” they were all event films. I’m talking fun, crowded theaters. Audience chatter that was enjoyable instead of annoying. Friday Night Premier of the new SCREAM-like film = Mandatory Date Night.

With the SCREAM franchise returning after more than a decade, my wife and I went to the Friday late-show (a practice we abandoned years ago after seeing a group of rowdy teens assault a guy who had the gall to ask them to stop talking) with hopes of the same frenzied excitement from our high school and college days. Well, you know the saying ‘you can’t go home again’…the same pathos felt appropriate when we arrived at the theater and found it less than 3/4 full. The waiting crowd was listless, almost irritated, as if they’d really wanted to see Rio, the current box-office champ, but found all showings sold out and settled for this obscure scary movie instead. In the dim theater, smart phones glowed like plutonium on THE SIMPSONS and I spotted more than a few games of ANGRY BIRDS in play through the previews.

As the film progressed, my wife and I laughed at jokes that few in the theater seemed to get and we silently communicated (because married people are telepathic) our guesses of who the killer was while many of teens in attendance seemed bored by the whodunit. Perhaps they were too enthralled with level 25-3 of ANGRY BIRDS…it is a toughie.

The movie ended to bland audience reaction, and I heard some teenager (probably an infinitely wise 16 year old) pronounce, “That was stupid”. At that moment, the oddness of it all hit me…along with my decision that SCREAM 4 was a fantastic and satisfying film. Because the subtext of the murder mystery bled (pun intended) beyond the confines of the silver screen. This movie was about the very thing me and my wife had just experienced in a disconnected theater of teens who couldn’t stop texting long enough to realize the filmmakers were painting a very unflattering portrait of them.

This movie is NOT for the latest  generation of teens and every frame was like a subliminal message out of THEY LIVE flashing that very sentiment. We got the inside joke, the one Wes Craven, Kevin Williamson, and Ehren Kruger threaded throughout the entire film so blatantly, and it was damned funny.

But sad, too.

Every year we age, we slowly slide up and out of the demographic that Hollywood targets, and SCREAM 4 was like an hour and forty minutes of a dying man deciding not to go quietly. In retrospect, the film played like a last hoo-rah for my generation of movie goers disguised as something else. Just like Ghostface it paraded around in the costume until the Final Act Reveal, then unmasked and showed its true identity. I dug that.

So, we didn’t get the nostalgia we were looking for, but I was happy to see that the filmmakers hadn’t forgotten about us. Money talks, and people are calling this movie a financial disappointment. I don’t know, though. I’m hoping word of mouth spreads, and more of those kids I used to bump into at the popcorn line back in the day will find babysitters, gas up the mini van, and get out to a show to let Wes, Ghostface, and company know that we appreciate the shout out. Even if it is the last.

I certainly hope it isn’t. Maybe in another 10 years we’ll get SCREAM 5 and the newest crop of teen starlets will see that no mid-life crisis or prostate exams can keep us down.

After all, there will always be some young hot blonde to slice up in the first reel, but the 90’s will never die.



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Wolverine: Old Man Logan

This is not a review. If you came looking for a review, what you’ve found is a gushing love fest for a story I just read. Sorry. You can avoid the lengthy monologue below if you’re not into comics. If you are into comics, all you really need to know is BUY THIS BOOK TODAY!! You’ve been warned…

My love of storytelling came from comic books. As a kid, I wanted to be a comic book artist. Teensy problem: I couldn’t draw. Seeing that as a huge hurdle on my path to art superstardom, I decided to focus on the other part of the medium, the writing.

But I never lost my affinity for the realm of 4 Colors. I’d spend weeks going hungry at school so I could take my accumulated lunch money to the local comic book store and give it to the social malcontents who ran it (another story for another time). Me and my friends would engage in serious bartering sessions to get rare, prized issues of this title or that title. You would’ve thought we were trading Fortune 500 stocks.

I still have boxes of those very same books that came into my possession during various 5th, 6th, and 7th grade lunchroom sessions. I admit, with no shame at all, that I was a comic book geek.

Sadly, as an adult, I have not been able to engage in the hobby like I used to. Mainly because of inflation (a single issue of any given book is now roughly equal to 1 gallon of gas). Also, what was groundbreaking and heartwrenching to a a kid in the 90’s, is cliche to an adult in 2011. (Captain America is dead?!? Oh, wait, he died in ’07, but he’s going to come back just in time for the release of the Captain America film this summer. Whaaatttt? Didn’t see that coming…)

Occasionally, I’ll peruse the Graphic Novels section of my local B&N, and I might run across a compilation of some particular storyline that I’ll pick up just for kics. Usually, I end up disappointed. It’s all stuff I’ve seen before.

Until I read Wolverine: Old Man Logan by Mark Millar with art by Steve McNiven.

Wow. I can’t give this book enough praise. No spoilers here, but I can honestly say it’s THE most satisfying superhero story I’ve read in the last decade (keep in mind, I haven’t necessarily been paying attention, so if you know of something as good or better than this book, please point me to it so I can spend some hard earned money).

Wolverine, the biggest badass in the Marvel Universe, is an old, pacifist farmer with a wife and two kids 50 years after the supervillains defeated the heroes and took over America. Strapped for cash, her reluctantly goes on a road trip with his old buddy Hawkeye (now blind, but still likes to drive), to get the rent money he owes his landlords, the Incredible Hulk’s Hillbilly (“Green” Neck) grandchildren.

I felt like crying tears of joy after I read the first page. And the 50th page. And the last page. A true masterpiece…

Storytelling like that makes me simultaneously thankful I have eyes and jealous that I may never, ever come up with a concept THAT good.

If you ever picked up a comic book in your life, I highly recommend this book.


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Clowns at Midnight

Nobody likes a clown at midnight” – Stephen King

How can such a simple statement sum up why that man is so good at what he does? But I digress, the I-LOVE-STEPHEN-KING post I’ll save for another night. For now, let’s talk about Clowns at Midnight…or, to really get to the heart of it, Mundane $&*# that’s scary as a #*@$…

In reality the creepy old house in your hometown is probably scary. It’s dirty, it’s got rats and roaches, and if you poke around the foundation long enough with a stick, you’ll find some crackhead’s discarded underwear (or maybe that’s just my hometown). The problem is there’s really nothing compelling about that kind of scary. It’s obvious. There’s literally yellow tape on the door that says KEEP OUT.

Sure, there are a thousand movies where teenagers (really 30 year olds) go into this exact environment and die deservingly horribly. They are dumber than us. That’s not scary. That’s Natural Selection.

What’s scary is the stuff there’s no warning for. The stuff you can’t reason your way around, or avoid. Or worse, the stuff you’re totally aware of, but someone more powerful than you drags you there anyway (like parents taking their kids to the circus to see those creepy guys in the white makeup and blood-red grins).

Stephen King built a career out of noticing when the stuff that’s not supposed to be scary is just about running someone out of the room. It’s not a bad observational skill to have, particularly in the wordsmith game, regardless of genre (I don’t care if you’re writing romance, comedies, or adventure tales…real people should exist in your stories, and real people have fears).

Here’s one of mine (my wife laughs and laughs at this): Wet Tissue.

(get your WTF moment out of the way)

I’m not really afraid of wet tissue paper. I just find it disgusting. It makes me cringe, with it slimy mushiness. By no means do I plan to write a novel about Evil Wet Tissue, but I can focus on the sensation it brings out in me. I can apply it to something else slimy (tentacles?), and I can make my character feel fear.

And maybe my readers, too.

Just something to think about. At midnight. While the clowns are surrounding you.

Do any of you have off the wall fears/deep dislikes? Let’s hear ’em




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Half price monkey paws (and other great not-so-great deals)

It’s no secret that “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs and “The Tragic History of Dr. Faustus” (think Faustian Deal)  are works that have fascinated me from childhood. They’ve directly influenced two of my own stories (LIVE AGAIN and “Wilson’s Pawn & Loan”) and continue to intrigue me to the point that, well, I’m writing about them right now…

There’s something in the idea of THE DEAL. The Ultimate Bargain. Get everything you ever wanted…for a small fee. Have all your dreams come true, even if you’ll have to trade them for nightmares much sooner than you think.

Stories like Paw and Faust are cautionary tales. Whether the writers intended them to be labeled as such (you’d be surprised how little writers–at least the ones I know–consider the possibility of their work having any lasting cultural/social appeal) we may never know, but there are definitely warnings there. Of course we know the obvious signs, but wouldn’t the Devil or the guy selling poisoned wishes adapt with the times?

Sure, we all have sense enough not to wish on that furry, badly preserved paw. And we all know better than to ever shake hands with that horned guy in the suit with the faint wisps of smoke rising off the shoulders. What about the loan officer telling you to get the dream home? What about your new boss who tells you to just ‘massage’ the numbers a little, because, hey, there might be a bonus in it for you?

The things these stories warned us about a century ago are still real threats. Which is why I love the power of such well told tales. They’re timeless. Not just because of the words on the page, but because of the idea behind them. They’ll always be bad deals, and suckers willing to give up everything for them.

That’s why it’s never hard to suspend disbelief when you read/hear/see such stories. We get our kicks out of believing the character is so much more naive/greedy/evil than us. We’d NEVER fall for such a trick. When really, we all have.

Don’t believe me? Fine, fine…you’re too smart for me.

Since I’ve got your attention, though, care to take a look at the items I’ve got right here in my trunk? I’m sure there’s something that will suit your needs.

And the prices are sooooo reasonable. 😉

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