Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sinful South Series Book Three Excerpt

Sinful Southern Rider

A Sinful South Novel

by S.J. Drum

Chapter 1

Phoenix looked up at the sound, turning her attention away from her computer, a laptop so old it could be considered vintage. She cocked her head to the side, eyes narrowed on the tiny window above the kitchen sink. The last rays of evening sunlight struggled to shine through glass that held tight to its dingy, dull appearance no matter how many times she gave it a thorough cleaning.
The sound, high pitched and whiny, grew louder. Dirt bike. An image of a dusty yellow, dented metal death trap flashed through her mind. The image of the dirt bike her father had rode during Phoenix's childhood. Her father had been an idiot on that bike, attempting to ride it over shoddily constructed jumps in daredevil fashion. The drunker he was, the more dangerous the stunts.
She was certain, though she couldn't say how she knew, that the unknown dirt bike now throttling down in front of her trailer carried an idiot just as worthless as her father had been.
Phoenix snapped the over-large lid closed on the geriatric laptop, wincing as it emitted a cracking noise as if in protest to the rough treatment. She glanced over her shoulder, finding her two young children tangled together on her tattered sofa, their attention fixed on whatever cartoon they'd been able to find through the static on the TV.
With a sigh, she pushed herself up and headed to the door. Her ex--or soon to be ex--was back, she just knew it. She was convinced the sole reason the bastard had yet to sign the divorce papers he'd been served was so he could continue feeling like he retained the right to show up randomly and beg for money...or sex.
Those days are long gone, asshole. Just like you should be.
Phoenix slipped through the normally squeaky front door in silence. Thankful the Trailer Park Gods chose this moment to be merciful, she latched the door shut behind her with a gentle click. The kids did not need to know their father had dropped by. Sure as shit the man hadn't dropped by to see them. As far as Phee-o knew, Jasper had decided years ago to forget about the existence of their two children.
She ignored the jackass now lounging on the potentially stolen, definitely ready for the junkyard bike, and focused instead on her '98 Honda. As her long-legged strides carried her forward, she withdrew a set of keys from the front pocket of her jeans.
Calm. Phoenix was going to stay calm, no matter how easily she'd been riled by Jasper in the past. She slid the key into the slot on the trunk, giving it a little jiggle when it threatened to stick. Nope, I will not be riled. With a screech the trunk popped open about an inch at the same moment she heard Jasper's whiskey-rough voice call her name.
"Phee-ee-oh," he singsonged.
Calm. I will remain calm no matter how his voice grates on my nerves. And shredded the remnants of her heart.
Jasper moved on to the part of his speech meant to cajole her into doing whatever it was he'd come 'round for, a speech which mainly consisted of a lot of "Now, baby...".
She shoved the keys back into her pocket, used one hand to lift the trunk lid and the other to grasp what she thought of as her "calm insurance".
Gravel crunched behind her, signaling he'd given up trying to draw her near with his hillbilly siren song and bike-show-model like posing. He'd try to soothe her with his hands next, if she allowed him close enough to reach her.
Her fingers wrapped around the smooth shaft concealed in the darkness of the trunk and her heart rate slowed a bit.
See? Calm insurance. It was already working. A grim smile twisted her lips as she caressed the cool metal before lifting the substantial bulk free of the trunk.
One hand on the barrel, the other on the grip, she turned to face her soon-to-be-ex with a shotgun held snug against her torso, braced across her body diagonal from shoulder to hip.
Jasper noted the gun with a rounding of his bloodshot eyes and took a few cautionary steps backward, his grime coated hands held up in front of him as if that alone would keep Phee-o from shooting his sorry ass. "Now, baby, what's with the shotgun? You got some varmint around here causing trouble? Them 'coons and squirrels always were a pain in the ass 'round here, gettin' into places they shouldn't." His eyes shifted from the gun to her face and back while he tried to laugh it off but only managed a nervous chuckle.
Phoenix studied the man she used to love so deeply it hurt. Eventually the love had fled along with the man he used to be, leaving only the hurt behind. Now...now she looked at Jasper and the only thing she felt was pity for her children having such a shitty father and pity for Jasper because he'd let his life come to this.
Jasper had been handsome, oh, boy, had he been handsome. In high school, he'd had a panty-stealing grin, mussed blond hair, the kind of rock hard abs only teenage boys can manage to cultivate, and a nice big dick. His panty-stealing grin had introduced Phoenix to his noteworthy undercarriage and that'd been all it took to have a teenage Phee-o halfway to the alter in her mind. Every time she'd looked into Jasper's baby blue's, dreams of children and a real house with a picket fence and holidays where no one got arrested took over her otherwise practical brain.
Unfortunately, she'd never gotten the nice house far away from a trailer park and she'd never gotten to experience a normal holiday celebration. At least she had the children.
Ten years after the fact, Jasper's hair was thinning and rarely washed, his stomach had grown a paunch from too much liquor and not enough hard work, and his drinkin' had taken the fun out of his big dick. Turns out, an XL dick isn't of much use if the owner drinks so much he can't get it up, keep it up, or concentrate long enough to use it with any amount of skill.
Phoenix took a step toward Jasper, her hold on the shotgun steady. "What do you want, Jasper?"
He rubbed the back of his dirty neck and toed at the sparse gravel with one booted foot. "Well, I thought I'd come home for a bit." When Phee-o shifted her hold on the rifle, he amended, "Not for a bit. For a while. Forever."
Uh huh, right. "Why?"
His eyes narrowed on her face, a bit of mean sneaking in around the edges. The stupid shit seemed to be forgetting about the gun. "I miss you. I want to see my kids. Ain't that reason enough?" His tone was no longer cajoling but as hard and unforgiving as the back of his hand the sole time he'd been drunk and mean enough to strike Phee-o.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Contracts and Illness Updates

    I've renegotiated one of my publishing contracts and am still writing despite the lack of new releases.

    For those of you who don't know, I developed serious health problems related to my endocrine system in 2013. Over the past two years this has required frequent trips to the Cleveland Clinic, weekly doctors appointments, monthly (sometimes weekly) blood work and ten prescription medications twice a day.

    Tomorrow I'm going in for my 3rd major, invasive surgery since February of this year. Hopefully it'll be the last one for a good long while and I can get some progress made on new books.

    Fans of my Sinful Southern Ink series, the Caged in Myth serial written under J.T. Fairfield, and A Life Beyond Yesterday written under Clara LaVeaux...Thank you for your continued support. I hope to have a new release ready in the spring.


Monday, January 5, 2015


     I head back to the Cleveland Clinic on January 23rd to have my thyroid surgically removed. At this point they strongly suspect thyroid cancer. As long as it hasn't spread to my lymph nodes the treatment is removal of the thyroid and replacement hormone therapy, which I'm doing anyway. I won't need chemo unless it has spread to my lymph nodes. They've been swollen for about a year, all over my body but more so in my neck, but it could just be from the overproduction of antibodies in response to my thyroid. I won't know until after the surgery. 

     During the operation they may decide to leave all my nodes intact, take a few for biopsy, or remove the entire network from my neck. Sooo, waking up from surgery will be like having a macabre surprise party. "Surprise! Guess what body parts have been removed!" 

     But seriously, I'm happy just to be moving forward. I'm determined to feel better. Whatever it takes. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Inked in the Bayou Book Reviews: Unique Christmas Gift Ideas for Readers and Writer...

Inked in the Bayou Book Reviews: Unique Christmas Gift Ideas for Readers and Writers...: Need a gift idea for an author or avid reader? Unless you want to get them a gift card for new books or have a few hundred to drop on an e-reader buying a gift for writers and readers can be daunting. Below you'll find some Christmas gift ideas I've cultivated that will please all the literati in your life.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Health, Hair and Happiness

For those of you who don't know, I've been travelling back and forth to the Cleveland Clinic for the past six months trying to get a handle on some serious health issues and have been diagnosed with Graves Disease and Atypical Hyperthyroidism.

I found two bald spots on my head recently. I know things could be worse and I have a good life but I hated finding yet another reminder that I'm not physically well. I knew it could happen, just like my recent hip injury caused by muscle weakness, but I was hoping it wouldn't. In addition to the seemingly endless list of symptoms I have to deal with, the hormone fluctuations from my thyroid cause my hair to grow where it didn't before and fall out where I want it to grow on my head. I was told months ago I may develop bald spots or patches of thick and thin hair. Like I don't already feel gross enough wearing 40 extra pounds, limping like I'm 65 and sleeping all damn day.

When I found these balding spots I was understandably upset. I've been looking at pictures of women with short hair and trying to psych myself into it while telling myself it would be trendy and cool for the past few weeks, knowing this was a possibility. After finding the thinning spots, I finally cut my hair. The first picture is just after I cut it and you can see where it's balding in a line from the part down and toward the front. The hair on that entire side of my head is also considerably thinner than the left.

I had a good cry, then I decided to stop feeling sad about it, put on some make up, and just rock the hair I have left. There are a lot of things worth crying over but my hair isn't one of them.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Elliot Rodger and Our Sense of Entitlement

I don't normally post opinions on social topics, news, politics... But this most recent shooting rampage has me thinking about cause and effect. It has me thinking about the entitlement complex we've been instilling in our children for the past few generations and how it's changing our world. 

Elliot Rodger, an individual who obviously had untended mental health issues, was tipped over the edge because of his overblown sense of entitlement. He felt entitled to receive the attentions of the most attractive women on campus and after numerous rejections he went batshit crazy. Instead of taking the normal route and maybe, say, reevaluating his approach and mannerisms or simply lowering his standards a few notches, he persisted time and again in the same way never understanding why on earth these women weren't tearing their panties off for him. Never comprehending it might be because there was something unsatisfactory about himself or his ability to choose whose affections to court.

What happens when we give every child a trophy instead of just the winners? When every child gets a medal just for rolling out of bed and showing up? They feel entitled to a trophy. Without putting in extra hours training to be faster, practicing skills to become exemplary, they're still told that they're awesome and special when in reality they are simply average. Don't get me wrong, average is absolutely fine. I'm average. Hell, I was shitty at most sports but I knew it because I didn't get a trophy just for showing up on the field. 

When every kid is handed a trophy for doing nothing they learn they don't have to make adjustments, try harder, do better, change their behavior, because there is no need to acknowledge their faults. 

I still shudder thinking back on dodge-ball in elementary school. Dodge-ball was cruel and unusual punishment but being smacked in the face by a ball thrown by a classmate prepared me for being smacked in the face by life when I grew up. 

We force this sense of entitlement down our kids' throats and then when they get to high school or college or the real world they are completely unprepared for the reality that most of them won't get whatever they want simply for wanting it. They won't be the best or attain the best in most areas of their lives even if they're dedicated and hard working. 

I participated in competitive cheerleader until reaching high school and my team lost more than won. It was devastating, it was humiliating, it was heartbreaking. It was also motivation. We didn't come home with a trophy or a ribbon or a medal if we hadn't won or placed. We came home with a hunger to work harder and do better the next time. When we won and finally placed our hands on a coveted plastic monstrosity of a trophy it was like an out of body, euphoric experience. 

I competed in rodeos and barrel racing events all over the tri-state area for close to ten years. I rarely won or placed but when I did it was magic. The other girls were prettier, their horses bigger or more expensive or professionally trained. Sure, I begrudged them their success at times and, though I wanted to be in their league,3 I knew the chance of that happening was nil no matter how hard I trained. 

I'm not saying this tendency to shield our children from life's struggles and protect them from the heartbreak of walking away from a challenge empty handed is at fault for all the bastards out there shooting up our schools and workplaces and malls. There is something inside those people not wired correctly from the start. However, there's also a reason so many people feel entitled to this type of revenge. It's a combination of multiple factors throughout a lifetime, surely. 

Are we making things worse by being so overprotective of our children? 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Little Art Theatre, Yellow Springs

Whenever I discover an extravagant treat so close to home I feel equal parts disappointment and awe. Disappointment because I've lived so near something awesome and never taken advantage of it and awed because I now know of what seems like my town's best kept secret.

When my family decided to take in a movie at the Little Art Theatre in Yellow Springs on Saturday night I was expecting musty smelling, dirty seats in that state of disrepair most small town movie theaters built more than five years ago quickly attain. I expected sticky floors and a bathroom just north of disgusting. What I found was something entirely different.

*Picture from cinematreasures.org*
*Picture from cinematreasures.org*
The Little Art Theatre has undergone an amazing renovation. Instead of stale and dilapidated the lobby was at once both reminiscent of Old Hollywood and modern zen. A theater where you can get bulk candy AND beer on tap? Yes! 

*Picture from cinematreasures.org*
The staff was happy and helpful despite our two small children who were so excited for their first movie experience they were behaving like they'd recently consumed five pounds of candy and had never before set foot inside a public establishment. 

*Picture from cedars.cedarville.edu*
The theater seats, instead of being worn, smelly, nubby feeling cloth were supple, smooth and clean. They were wide enough for extra comfort and the movable armrests with cup holders are great. About halfway through the movie my kids raised their armrests and turned the entire row into a giant comfy sofa perfect for watching the Lego Movie as a family. 

*Avaleigh Drum*
The restroom was incredible. The popcorn and specialty soda, delicious. The price was comparable to any big chain theater but the ambiance screamed "exclusive". If you haven't been to the renovated Little Art Theatre in Yellow Springs, do yourself a favor and make plans to take in a movie there.