R.J. Meets Rebecca in new Meta-Fiction

Book blogger and good friend Jess of Jess Resides Here graciously agreed to host a new flash fiction story in which I consider what might happen if I ever come face to face with my character Rebecca Burton! Check it out–you might find a special announcement hidden within.

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I’m pleased to share an original story by author Rj Sullivan who is a mega awesome guy. This was meant to be featured on The Cabin Goddess’s blog but she is taking a well deserved break, I’m sure Rj will be hanging out in the cabin at some point in the future. Stay tuned! I’ve read a couple of Rj’s books and must say I particularly love how his focus is on strong female characters. Rj is very in touch with his feminine side and I say the Little Mermaid Mug is to thank for that. So read and enjoy. Also leave some feedback. I’m sure Rj would love it.

A funny thing happened while killing time in Broad Ripple…

Those that don’t live in Indy won’t care about the details, but suffice it to say, several of my long-time friends live north and east of Indianapolis. I am the only one of that clan to live south and west of downtown. One of my friends still lives in Broad Ripple, a place I used to visit frequently in my teens and twenties and now visit only a couple times a year.

Art by Nell Williams.
Art by Nell Williams.

Yes, that Broad Ripple. Fiona “Blue” Shaefer’s hangout prior to moving to the scary small town of Perionne, as referenced in Haunting Blue. Though an older, well-established suburb with many historical buildings, the presence of Butler University injects the area constantly with liberal youth often at odds with its long-term residents.

I took a trip north to meet up with my friends, and in a rare instance, we decided to group up in Broad Ripple. In a not-so-rare instance, being self-employed, I arrived in town a couple hours prior to my friends who all have to punch a clock. I thought I’d take advantage of the atmosphere to bring along the laptop (I really needed to replace that thing with some sort of pad–someday soon, I hope), find a coffee shop or restaurant, take in the local atmosphere, and see how it affects my muse.

Art Bonnie Wasson
Art Bonnie Wasson

Not many people know that the coffee shop Café Expresso as mentioned in Haunting Blue and Haunting Obsession really existed–past tense. It was a favorite hangout during my college years, a place for the more artistic type to meet during the day and, looking back, feel a bit insufferable about ourselves. Unfortunately, the little shop closed down around 1990 and so its legacy continued only in the pages of my stories, my little homage to a very cool place.

Or so I thought.

I barely had the presence of mind not to drive up onto the sidewalk when I saw the awning over a historical building in downtown Broad Ripple that declared itself to be the Café Expresso. I managed to pull over before embarrassing myself, and sat there for many seconds staring at the little shop and its ironic name. Dare I say…I felt like I’d seen a ghost.

Click here to go to Jess Resides Here and finish the story.

Haunting Writing Exercise

Haunting Obsession Lo RezHere, re-posted for your consideration, is a writing exercise I composed this morning in one of my writer’s groups. A bit of metafiction whimsey and proof that while Haunting Obsession has been out for several months, Maxine isn’t done haunting me yet. (Yes, at the  mentioned moment, two men stood just outside our open conference room door and proceeded to have a conversation.)

I stared at the laptop screen; the blank white surface stared back, screaming intimidation.

I glanced at the clock, mulling over the exercise, thinking, Wow, Steve, that’s a bit of a tall order. An evocative scene, using all five senses, simple words, and you want us to read it at the end of the hour? Really?

582152_10151060950622591_1149631412_nBehind me, I felt her lean against my shoulders, her breathy whisper in my ear sending a responsive shiver down my spine. “So, what’cha doing R.J.?”

I turned and looked behind me. There was Maxine Marie, the glamorous Hollywood ghost, the late great shapely gorgeous blonde, grinning for me and only me.

Still, I didn’t appreciate the timing. “Maxine, what are you doing here…now?”

Her bottom lip protruded, and she looked down at her feet. “Oh, look at Mister Serious Author, turning all grumpy-puss. As if I have any control over when I enter your mind.”

Art by Nell Williams.
Art by Nell Williams.

She turned and sat on the table, seated on her shapely bottom between myself and the new woman. Her body phased right through the chair, as ghosts tend to do.

It was fine, I could still see through her to the end of the room. A hint of vanilla lavender perfume drifted toward me. (Vanilla lavender? Sure, why not.)

“So,” said Maxine into the air, her nails tap-tap-tapping a quick rhythm on the tabletop. “You’re supposed to write to the five senses. What can we write about?”

I glared down, her nails, still ticking out their rapid tempo, the rhythm rapidly ratcheting on my last nerve. “Would you stop doing that please?”

She looked down, flashed an abashed grin, and folded her hands in her lap. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

2012, with RJ and "Maxine Marie" from Haunting Obsession.
2012, with RJ and “Maxine Marie” from Haunting Obsession.

“So how many have we covered?” she asked. I started looking over my draft. “Not sure. I wish those two guys out in the hallway would stop talking so we would concentrate on the assignment.”

Maxine nodded. “No kidding. Hey!” She offered a mischievous grin. “Want me to go out and scare them?”

I considered. I knew I should be filled with alarm, the very idea jolting my body so I could describe all sorts of abnormal sensations for this writing exercise, but my heart just wasn’t in it.

Truthfully, the thought of her walking through the wall, appearing between them while donning thick black glasses, hissing a librarian-like “shhhhh……” and then vanishing into thin air gave me the giggles.

Art by Bonnie Wasson.
Art by Bonnie Wasson.

But…I shook my head. “No, better not.”

“Oh, poo. You’re no fun.”

I reached for my blue travel coffee mug and took a sip, the tepid liquid, two hours past its prime, left a bitter aftertaste.

Maxine nodded. “Nicely done, sneaking in the sense of taste.”

I smiled at the compliment. “Thanks!”

I drummed my fingers lightly across the black keys in a repetitive motion, trying to think where else to take this scene.

“Hey, Mister,” she chastised. “Now who’s being annoying?”

I stopped. “Sorry.”

Maxine’s gaze lifted, settling on the clock, which showed quarter ’til.

Lily Monstermeat as Maxine Marie.
Lily Monstermeat as Maxine Marie.

“Think you have enough?”

“Sure. Thanks, Maxine.”

“Don’t mention it. Talk to you soon, RJ.” And she vanished.

Learn more about Maxine Marie and Haunting Obsession at this link.