Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway The Black Parade by Kyoko M.


One bullet is all it took to transform eighteen-year-old New Yorker Jordan Amador into the last hope for souls of the dead. However, it also transformed her into a cantankerous asocial waitress with a drinking problem.

Jordan accidentally shot and killed a Seer: a person who can communicate with ghosts, angels, and demons. Worse still, she did so on the eve of her own awakening, making her the last Seer on Earth with no one to guide her. As penance, God gives her two years to help one hundred souls with unfinished business cross over from Earth to the afterlife or she will go to Hell. Just as she approaches the deadline, Jordan finds her hundredth soul: a smart-mouthed poltergeist named Michael whose ability to physically touch things makes him distinct from her usual encounters with the dead. However, the deeper she delves solving his sudden death, the more she realizes something sinister is on the horizon.

With time running short, Jordan stumbles across a plot that may unravel the fragile balance among Heaven, Hell, and Earth. Her life is plunged into chaos as she is hunted by demons that want to use her valuable Seer blood to bring about the end of the world and discovers that these creatures have a frightening connection to her family bloodline. Plus, the budding romance between Jordan and Michael makes it harder for them to let go of each other so he can become part of the eternal black parade.

Finding the perfect ending

Finding the perfect ending, to me, is sort of like dumpster diving. That sounds horrible, but allow me to elaborate. Whether you’re writing the ending to a short story, a novella, a novel, or a series of novels, there is always a huge pile of different endings to choose from. You can go in a billion different directions, and sometimes that can be too intimidating for words. It’s like sifting through a landfill—endless amounts of things, some garbage, some precious objects, some a little of both. You could spend an eternity going around dusting things off and sticking them in your pocket. But, unfortunately, as an author, you’re not allowed to do that. You have to determine what fits the story.

So far, my endings have always come to me at the inception of the novel. I don’t always know every fine detail, but I usually have a general gist of whether the ending will be happy, bittersweet, or a bit of a downer. I also usually have an idea of where the characters should be by the conclusion of their journeys. When I come up against a fork in the road, though, I lean towards some advice I heard a while back that said, “Write the story you’d want to read.” I dig deep and think about all the things I love about fiction and all the things that make me want to punch a book out of sheer rage. I consider the ramifications of making certain decisions with characters. I weigh the overall effect of the ending against the rest of the story and see how much ties together. Not everything has to be neat and pretty, but there is nothing worse than an ending that is a jumbled mass of threads where nothing is resolved or answered. I consider that to only be appropriate for a long running television series or a long novel series, but nothing that is a novel trilogy or shorter. After all of this thought, I pick whatever feels right for the characters and what would feel most satisfactory if I were reading the story instead of writing it. 

I don’t think there is a “perfect” ending, though. Writing is and always has been subjective. Some people will hate the way The Black Parade ends. Some will love it. Some will think it’s okay. All I know is what my gut tells me works for those fictional folks traipsing around in my head. 

My advice to the writers out there is to let it come to you. Don’t force it. Your readers can always tell if you’re fishing for something or if your ending is inorganic. For instance, remember the ending to the 2007 version of I Am Legend? (Spoiler alert, by the way.) I remember loving that movie to pieces until I saw that rushed, unsatisfying ending where Neville sacrifices himself to save the girl and the little boy. Then after the movie came out on DVD, I found out that there was an alternate ending that the studio changed last minute because the test audience didn’t feel it was a “big enough” climax. I watched the original ending and it made so much more sense that I got a little angry at the writers for changing it. The reason the original ending, to me, was better is because it addressed seeds that were planted earlier in the film whereas the theatrical ending was nothing but a gut-wrenching cop out. It taught me not to worry about having an action-packed conclusion. The story needs balance more than to have a big finish. I think that’s how great endings are found.


My head throbbed. It felt like my brain was trying to hammer its way through my skull and into the outside world. A pained groan crawled out of my throat and escaped my dry lips. As I regained consciousness, I realized I was lying on a bed of some kind. The mattress had way too many springs in it so they poked my spine like needles. My eyelids fluttered for a second and a wave of nausea hit. I pressed my palm to my forehead as if it would help. That was when I realized the necklace around my wrist was gone.
“Sleep well?”
I heard a purring baritone voice from the corner of the white room. My eyes shot open. Ignoring the nausea and dizziness, I frantically pushed myself up to a sitting position. There stood the longhaired man who came to unlock Jacob’s files. He leaned his lanky frame against the far wall, smoking a cigarette. The black suit stood out stark against the pristine paint behind him.
I swallowed hard and tried to get a bearing on where I was. No windows. The door didn’t have a knob, either. From what I could tell, this was either an operating room or somewhere they put the patients who were a threat to themselves or the hospital staff. It was also rather small—no more than an eight by eight foot room, not much bigger than the bathroom in my apartment.
The man continued to watch me with a cool expression. The eerie patience on his face made me realize I hadn’t replied to his comment. As if I really knew what to say to the man who had just kidnapped me. I went for the casual approach.
“You’re not allowed to smoke in hospitals.”
He chuckled deeply enough to shake his broad shoulders. I took a moment to analyze his weight and strength. Could I take him? Most likely, no. Would I try it anyway? Hell yeah.
“You’re right, I suppose. Still, I can’t help loving these things.” He flicked the cancer stick to the linoleum floor and stomped it out.
“Humans come up with the most wonderful things to destroy themselves with.”
A red flag popped up in my mind. Please God, no. “Pardon?”
The man walked towards me and fear wormed its way up my stomach, settling in my chest. He had a heavy presence about him that confirmed my suspicion.
“I’m hurt, Jordan. You don’t recognize me?”
My whole body tensed. He leaned over the bed until our faces were level, placing his arms on either side of me. I had to ball my hands into fists to keep them from trembling. I looked into his eyes. They were a chillingly blue hue with reptilian pupils. I’d seen them before.
He tilted his head to the side, and a sheet of that fine black hair slid across the side of his face. It brushed my cheek and made me flinch. “Did you miss me?”
“Not particularly.” I hated how afraid my voice sounded.
The demon smiled in a way I imagine a snake would at a mouse. “I suppose not. There’s no need for you to be scared of me this time. If I was going to kill you, I’d have done it while you slept.”
I licked my lips, mind racing to think rationally. “Like I believe that. Killing me while I was unconscious wouldn’t be any fun. You’d want to do it while I was awake and screaming, right?”
His sadistic smile widened. “My, my. We are getting to know each other, aren’t we?”
“If you’re not going to kill me, then would you mind getting the hell out of my personal space?”
“Why? Am I making you uncomfortable?” He tilted his head so that our lips were almost touching.
I took a deep breath, preparing to deck him if he dared kiss me. “No, I just hate that cologne you’re wearing. My ex-boyfriend used to wear it.”
Belial’s eyes widened like I’d surprised him. He stood to his full height, letting out another one of those creepy chuckles. “You really are an interesting girl.”
Now that I had my personal space back, the tension slid out of my rigid spine. I rested my feet on the floor. Whatever happened, I needed to be off this bed. It was clear that the demon had designs on my soul, but my body was a whole different issue. Better to play it safe. Or as safe as I could with a creature from Hell that wanted me to be his pet for all eternity.
“I aim to please,” I said. “Now get to the point. If you’re not going to kill me, what do you want?”
The smile remained intact, unnerving the hell out of me. He could give the Joker a run for his money with that thing. “The same thing I wanted before, my dear. Your soul.”
I glanced around the bare room. “I don’t see another spear lying around. How are you going to pull that off?”
“Persuasion.” To my surprise, he began unbuttoning his suit jacket, revealing a cobalt blue dress shirt beneath it.
I lifted an eyebrow. “No offense, but nudity is not going to win me over.”
Belial let out an amused snort after he tossed the jacket aside, rolling up the sleeves to the shirt. “As appealing as that sounds, that’s not what I’m going to do. I thought I’d give you a fair chance to fight for your soul. If you win, I’ll let you go. If I win, you agree to go through a ceremony that will bind us together for all eternity.”
There it was. He had a trap, a plan, and I’d played right into it by coming to this hospital.
I stood and crossed my arms underneath my chest. “Do you honestly expect me to believe a demon would keep his word? What makes you think I’d agree to something like this?”

“Because, dear Jordan, you are running out of time.”

About the author:
Kyoko M is an author, a fangirl, and an avid book reader. 

Her debut novel, The Black Parade, made it through the first round of Amazon's 2013 Breakthrough Novel Contest. She participated and completed the 2011 National Novel Writing Month competition. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Lit degree from the University of Georgia, which gave her every valid excuse to devour book after book with a concentration in Greek mythology and Christian mythology. 

When not working feverishly on a manuscript (or two), she can be found buried under her Dashboard on Tumblr, or chatting with fellow nerds on Twitter, or curled up with a good Harry Dresden novel on a warm central Florida night. Like any author, she wants nothing more than to contribute something great to the best profession in the world, no matter how small.

Author's Giveaway
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1 comment:

horade said...

Thanks for this giveaway!