Author Archives: Jo Ann Schneider

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11-Jan-2019

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Still haven’t come up with Flash Fiction plan for 2019, so you get this random bit of I-May-Have-Watched-Too-Much-Supernatural-Last-Year.

The smell of must and old hung in the air. An ancient floor board creaked as Molly stepped on it. A chill ran down my spine as her shadow—dark compared to the beam of my flashlight—crawled along the floor.

“Are you sure we should be here?” I asked.

Molly didn’t bother to look over her shoulder. “Do you want to stop these attacks or not, Brian?”

Of course I wanted the attacks to stop. Three people had died and six more lay unresponsive save for eternal screaming in the psych ward of the hospital.

“Why do they always pick these old houses?” I grumbled.

“Because they feel comfortable in broken places.”

Molly had a point.

“Now be quiet,” she said.

I sighed and tightened my grip on the flashlight.

I never should have told Molly that I could see them.

Another creak sounded from the floor. Then the whisper of a breeze went past my ear.

My hand shot and grabbed Molly’s shoulder.

She looked back, a scowl on her face. I pointed to the room on my right. When she saw that her lips formed on ‘O.’

Like all of the others, a cracked wooden door barred our way. The lock had been ripped out years before, yet the door stood closed.

Sweat broke out on my forehead and I licked my lips.

Molly hefted her pistol—full of salt and silver—and jerked her head at the room.

The door bowed out ever so slightly, as if the room were breathing. I lowered my eye to the hole where the lock used to be and gazed inside.

A broken bed sat along one wall, and the remains of a dresser stood opposite. Five translucent people huddled in the far corner of the room—two women, one man and two children. They looked human, but the aura around them spiked black and red.

I glanced back at Molly, who stroked the trigger of her gun, and held up five fingers.

She nodded and motioned for me to get back.

The cold from the room beyond started to seep into the hall, and I pressed myself against the opposite wall.

Molly raised a foot and slammed the bottom against the door. A burst of silver exploded from where she hit, and the door flung open.

“Beyond the bed,” I said.

The ghosts’ eyes narrowed as they looked past Molly to me.

I glared right back and covered my ears.

Molly shot, and a spray of the salt and silver peppered the corner of the room.

The sound of the gun hammered against my brain, and I hated myself for forgetting ear protection. Again.

The man and one of the children got thrown against the wall, where the little pieces of silver kept them from moving or disappearing. Their forms shifted between human and monster, complete with dripping fangs, glowing red eyes and scaly hides.

The other woman surged forward, right into Molly’s second volley of shots.

“Watch the floor,” I yelled.

Molly pulled her other pistol and aimed at the floor in front of her feet. She hit the child.

“One left!” I shouted.

Instead of attacking, the last woman hissed, revealing to rows of teeth, and sunk through the floor.

The four pinned specters flickered in and out of reality, clinging on to their home here in the earth. Molly moved forward with a steel cross.

The little boy on the floor, trying to tug his arm free, wailed as the steel touched his skin. The sound turned into a shriek as she drove the cross into his eye.

Then, like blowing on ash, he disappeared.

“One of them went down.” I pointed.

Molly quickly finished the others, who tried to gnash and bite her, before turning back to me. Her green eyes bore into mine. “Find it.”

I nodded and moved back out into the hall. The cold air bit at my lungs, and all of the hair on my body stood on end. I froze.

Molly walked right into me. “What is it?”

“They’re here,” I whispered. At least ten pairs of glowing red eyes regarded me with hate.

“Here?” Molly asked.

The largest of the bunch, standing just a few feet away, growled.

Molly let out a gasp. “I can see them.”

My hand dropped to my waist, where I’d tucked a crowbar. “We need to get out.”

“Down the back stairs. Follow me.”

Before she could move, the specters flickered, and then turned back into human form.

Humans I knew.

Humans who had been attacked.

A young girl gazed up at me with fear in her eyes. “Why are you killing us, brother?”

“She’s not real,” Molly said through gritted teeth. I felt her shoulder bump mine as we ended up back to back.

The girl stepped forward. “Join us.”

I shook my head.

A voice sounded from behind me. A woman. My friend. My lover. My life. “Kill her and join us.”

“They’re not real,” Molly said again.

I blinked to clear my vision, and a tear ran down my cheek. “I brought her, like you asked.”

“What did you do?” Molly asked.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

Molly yelled and fired.

I fell to my knees.

The little girl’s aura brushed mine. “Thank you, brother.”

I shivered as cold gripped me. Molly continued to fight, but I followed the cold.

 

 


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The Mermaid is on Preorder

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Finally!

The Mermaid is on Preorder for just $0.99

My novella, The Mermaid, was meant to be a stand-alone story. Thanks to several readers who loved it and wanted more about the world, it is now the first of eight novellas in my Fairy Tale Academy series!

Today I thought I would share a few insights about the story itself.

When I wrote The Mermaid, I took the time to read the original fairy tale. If you haven’t read it, I should warn you, that it’s grim. No Disney happily ever after here. The princess is kind of hopeless and the prince isn’t much of a knight in shining armor.

I incorporated a few things from the original tale into my story.

The first is the fact that all of the sisters before Ri have gotten to go to the surface, and in my case, the Academy. After a while they think it’s “meh,” but Ri is so excited she can hardly contain herself.

The fourth sister is timid. I framed Marianne—one of Ri’s sisters who is at the Academy—like this as well. Although she’s no pushover and is full of surprises.

In the original, because their mother is dead, the little mermaid’s grandmother keeps house for them. In my story, Ri’s grandmother makes an appearance at the beginning and offers her some advice. I used this to show what Ri’s life is like before the Academy. Let’s be honest, she’s a bit impatient as well as selfish. Yet her excitement is contagious.

Here’s the first half of chapter one.

Stay tuned for the second half next week!

Chapter 1

Ri’s eyes slid past her father’s palace and beyond the forest of seaweed. Above, a school of fish turned in unison and shot toward the top of the ocean. Sunlight sparkled and twisted on the surface, waning as it descended until it crested the coral palace’s top spires.

“Are you even listening to me?”

Ri blinked, returning her attention to her grandmother. “Uh, yes?”

The older mermaid shook her head, her long gray hair slowly following the motion through the water. “It’s like you’ve already got your land legs.”

“Grandmother.” Ri flicked her tail, moving closer. She reached a slender hand out to touch her mother’s, mother’s shoulder. “I’m ready for this. You’ve been preparing me for months.” Ri lowered her voice, speaking in a familiar cadence. “‘Pay attention in class.’ ‘Don’t commit to anything on the first day.’ ‘Keep your options open.’ ‘Try not to provoke the orcs, watch out for the faerie folk, and be nice to your roommate.’ ‘Don’t flaunt your beauty, because your sisters won’t like it.’” Ri threw her most dazzling smile. “See, I listen.”

“Child, you are going to be the death of me,” Ri’s grandmother muttered.

Ri opened her mouth to retort, but spotted her father and his foreign diplomatic advisor—Ri’s oldest sister’s husband—over her grandmother’s shoulder.

Her father, Triton, swam straight and tall. His shoulders reached an impressive spread for a merman his age. A golden crown sat atop his brow, and streaks of white shot from his temples and through his mane of hair.

People always said that Ri’s hair was an even more beautiful shade of red.

Triton’s tail shimmered as he approached, catching the light from above and sending a rainbow of colors off his scales. Even the oysters attached to his caudal fin shimmered. Ri knew he’d trained himself to reflect the light while he swam. It had taken her a year to master it.

Next to Triton, her sister’s husband looked scrawny. Instead of wide, he was tall. He cut a fine figure, but in a slender way. He’d drawn his dark hair into a piece of seaweed at the base of his neck. The scales on his tail reflected a dark red. Unusual, and very fashionable right now.

The two mermen inclined their heads together, talking.

Ri leaned around her grandmother, willing her ears to catch their conversation.

“The humans have always been reluctant to meet with us,” Karel said to the king.

“I must speak with their king,” Ri’s father said.

“I have asked multiple times, but they either do not respond, or they tell me their king is out of the capital.”

Triton snorted. “We know where he’s been.”

Karel held up a finger. “We think we know where he’s been.” He leaned closer. “Perhaps one of your daughters could speak with the prince at the school.”

“They don’t like him,” Triton said. “You know that.”

Ri’s eyes narrowed. The human prince? He was a student at the Academy? Neither of her sisters had said a word about him.

A peal of laughter sounded behind the two mermen, and a tiny, red-tailed mermaid shot between them, leaving a trail of bubbles leading right to Ri.

“Auntie Ri!” The young blonde-haired, blue-eyed mermaid approached with her arms out. The blue eyes went wide when she discovered she was headed for Grandmother.

Ri smiled, moving to catch her niece. The little mermaid’s hands closed around Ri’s neck, and Ri turned in a circle to slow her down.

Karel sighed.

Triton grinned.

Ri held her niece out where she could see her. “What are you doing, Gail?”

Gail’s entire round face pouted. “You’re leaving.”

“Just for a little while.”

“For a long while.”

Ri patted Gail on the shoulder. “I’m going to school. Just like you have classes.”

“But they’re on land.” Gail scrunched her nose. “It smells funny up there.”

Ri laughed. “Yes it does, but if I want to be a real princess then I need to know as much as I can.” She looked hard at Gail. “You know you’re going to be a princess too, right?”

Gail nodded.

“Well then, you’d better keep track of things down here for me.”

The blue eyes went wide. “Really?”

Ri leaned in. “Someone has to watch out for Grandpa, Great-Grandma, and your parents. You know how adults are—they get too serious.”

Gail’s head bobbed up and down.

“Don’t let that happen.” Ri poked Gail in the stomach, which drew a giggle.

“Gail,” Karel said in a stern voice, “you’re supposed to be with your mother.”

“I was,” Gail said, “but I escaped.”

“That’s my girl,” Triton said with a wink. Then he turned his eyes on Ri.

Preorder on Kindle for $0.99

The price will go up on January 23rd when the book officially launches.


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4-Jan-2019

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I haven’t made new lists for Flash Fiction in 2019 yet, so you get this little ditty I thought up today!

2019 sneered down at the wrinkled man. “You ready to give up the ghost?”

2018 stared at him with steady eyes. “I have a few more hours.”

“Just give up already,” 2019 said. “What more can you do?”

“More?” 2108 chuckled. “You have no idea what you’re capable of yet. Of what you can accomplish in just a matter of hours, or even a few seconds.”

2019 shoved his thumb at his chest. “I know exactly what I can accomplish.” He leaned in, lording over the dying year. “I’m going to change everything.”

“Yes, you will.”

The serene yet determined look on the old year’s face brought a frown to 2019. “What does that mean?”

“You’ll find out. Soon.”

2019 turned away. “I’m ready. Just get out of my way.”

“Can’t do that until the clock tolls twelve.”

“Tolls? You even use old words.”

2108 chuckled. “I didn’t used to. It’s amazing how much a year can change you.”

“I ain’t changing.” 2019 turned back. “I am who I am.”

“Yes, you are.”

The smug tone in the old year’s voice made 2019 flex his hands into fists. “You got something to say to me?”

It took a few seconds before the dying year answered. “A year ago I stood where you are. Anxious. Ready to change the world. Ready to be the best year that had ever been.”

2019 narrowed his eyes.

“The way 2017 looked at me made me want to punch him in the mouth. Like he knew so much more than I did.” 2018 coughed—a juicy sound that rattled his lungs.

“Yeah, so?”

“Then he told me what I’ll tell you now. Not only am I going to change the world in the next few hours, but I’ll change everything in the next ten seconds.” He shifted, and somehow his grey hair thinned as 2019 watched. “Forty two babies will be born. Thirty six will live. Of those, five will have serious health issues. Two of them won’t last the week. Some parents will rejoice while others mourn. Families will break apart while others will bond together stronger than before. These births and deaths will affect thousands of people in the next year. Your year.”

2019 swallowed. “And?”

“And you may want to change the world as a whole, but by the time you’re sitting here talking to 2020, you’ll know the power of a single breath, and a war.”

“You’re talking in riddles.”

“I remember how it sounds, and like the year before me, I can’t explain it any better. You’ll have to experience it. Love. Hate. War. Peace. Joy. Despair. You will feel them all, and when your end is here, you will be glad.”

“You’re happy to be dying?”

2018 managed a small smile. “Yes.”

2019 let out a pfft. “Whatever, old guy. As soon as you’re gone, I’ll take over.” He glared. “And I won’t quit at the end.”

“I’m not quitting, but you won’t understand for a while yet. When you do, you’ll know.”

“Uh-hu.” 2019 glanced at the clock. Over an hour left. He sighed. It was going to feel like eternity.


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New Year, New Series

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Just thought I would pop on and share the cover of the first book in my Fairy Tale Academy Series!

This story has been out in a Little Mermaid collection called Fractured Sea since September. However, in a few weeks I’m going to break it out on its own and re-publish it with just a few simple changes.

The Mermaid marks the first of eight novellas in my Fairy Tale Academy series. This one should be on pre-order by early next week, then comes out January 23rd. There will be a new release every-other week after that until May 1st!

Stay tuned for more Academy news!


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