December 2013 Blog-a-Thon: Get to Know April Luna!

April A. Luna

SMP:  Welcome, April! Please tell us a little bit about yourself, such as: your family, where you live, pets, favorite color, favorite film, favorite book, and favorite scent.

April:  On paper, one would find I am a 44 year old wife, friend, and mother of three, who resides in Texas. My spouse and I have been married for almost twenty-three years, which seems odd. -Especially, since I do not know where the time has gone.  It seems just yesterday we married, and our children were small.

Our children (boys 22 & 20, daughter 17) have grown before our eyes into young adults. Over the years, our household has grown to include three dogs (Little Bear, Delilah, and Max), two cats (Olive and Linus), and the occasional adventurous lizard that finds an entry point through our revolving front door.

My favorite four consist of:

Color: Green

Film: Flatliners (1st date with husband)

Book: The Door to December (Dean Koontz)

Scent: Anything vanilla and the way freshly plowed soil smells after a gentle rain.

Hope Herrington

SMP:  Please share your favorite holiday memory.

April:  Even now, when I close my eyes, I hear the rich baritone sound of my grandfather’s voice.  The warmth of his smile melts the coldest of hearts.  His robust laughter brightens the darkest of nights.  The solitary twinkle within his eye alludes to grand adventures waiting to be explored.

It is a warm day.  It is a holiday.  It is Independence Day.  The children are underfoot in the kitchen, which means, I am sent outside to play.  An overzealous child, I often let my curious eyes lead me onward into trouble, which is how I ended up perched atop a fifty-foot mulberry tree.

Quickly, I tuck my shirt into my white pants.   With a slight grin, I pluck the forbidden delectable fruit from the tree.  I fill my shirt, my pockets, and my socks to the brim.  Why, I even stuff my mouth full of the succulent morsels until my rosy cheeks pucker.  A noise, beneath the crown of the tree, wafts in the air.  I gasp and jump.

Peering down through the leaves, I spy a familiar face.  Our eyes lock.  Curling the corners of his lips, he smiles ear-to-ear.  His eyes brighten with merriment.  The man chuckles and slaps his knee.  With the sleight of a finger, he beckons my presence.  An ounce of coy washes across my face as a giggle escapes my lips.  I hide behind an array of branches.  He clears his throat.  I breathe a deep sigh and frown.  It’s time to climb down.

Back at the house, my Nana is livid. My clothing, hands, face, and body are stained bright purple with mulberry juice.  Grandfather raises a brow and winks.  I fill a large bowl with the bounty of my day’s work.  We rinse the fruit in cool water.  Laughing and talking, we reflect upon the day’s events.

In the end, everyone sits down around the table.  We eat the mouthwatering cobbler that we, my grandfather and I, put together.   The smell of the baked sweet treat, of that singular day, still lingers in my thoughts.  His laughter is forever burned into the recesses of my heart, memory, and soul.

SMP:  How long have you been writing? Have you always wanted to write?

April:  Well, my mother reminds me, every chance she gets, that I use to write on the walls and furniture when I was little, but somehow, I don’t think that counts.  As a teen, I use to write poetry, and then, I moved on to prose as a young adult.  I have always enjoyed writing and wanted to be an author when I grew up.  I guess one is never too old to fulfill a waking dream.

SMP:  Do you write in a single genre, or more than one? What do you find most compelling about your genre(s)?

April:  Funny you should ask that question.  I do not write in a single genre because writing is akin to painting.  It is so much more fun when one can explore the many shades and mediums available.  Writing science fiction, romance, thrillers, suspense, and fantasy allows me to create worlds with infinite possibilities, which are only limited by one’s imagination.

SMP:  Tell us a little about your writing journey.

April:  As I stated earlier, I wrote as a teen and young adult.  When I started a family, I incorporated storytelling into my day-to-day life.  It was fun to see stories unfold in the eyes of my children.

Four years ago, my daughter caught the writing bug.  She joined some writing groups and has since started her own.  Her love of writing rekindled a burning passion in my heart for the written word.   My daughter is my muse.  She is my inspiration for writing once again.

SMP:  Tell us about your process. Do you plot/make outlines for your WIPS, or are you a total pantser?

April:  I am creature of habit, and I do the majority of my writing well into the wee hours of the morning, when most people are asleep or should be, at least, in my household anyway.  It is during these sacred quiet hours that my mind is free to explore the phantasm world of imaginative play.  The possibilities are infinite.

What kind of writer am I?  Simply put, I am the who, what, when, where, and why writer. I am an outline-plot driven individual, who tends to chew on the idea, braining-storming in my head, before placing the content on paper.  When writing, it is important for me to know who the key players are, what they are doing, where they are, how they do what they are doing, and where they will end up.  Every little sensation, sight, smell, sound, and succulent taste has meaning.

SMP:  What has been your most significant inspiration on the road to publication?

April:  My daughter has been my most significant inspiration on the road to publication.

SMP:  What advice would you give an aspiring writer?

April:  The one piece of advice, I would share with an aspiring writer, is to write every day.  Find an area to make your own and establish a routine.  Most of all, aspiring writers should take the time to enjoy the writing process and all it has to offer.

SMP:  Tell us a little about your current or upcoming release: your inspiration, main characters, setting, etc. What was the most difficult process? The easiest?

Child of the Night is a science fiction – thriller, which was inspired by a short story I wrote one evening that took on a life of its own.  Currently, Child of the Night has a release date of Spring 2014.

Chase Pond is Sarah De Luz’s one true refuge; however, there are dark secrets hidden under the light of the moon in the deep waters of the pond.  A wealth of knowledge about man’s quest for longevity is waiting to be discovered, but the information comes with grave consequences.

The most difficult process I encounter when writing is finding an even balance between writing and downtime.  When I write, I tend to stay in the moment and do not come up of air until I am finished.  By far, the easiest process I encounter when writing is the ability to hibernate in my office as I write.  When focused, I tend to block out the world around me.

SMP:  Any final thoughts you’d like your readers to know about you or your books?

April:  I hope readers will enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Want to find April? Start here:

Twitter – @AprilALunaWrite: https://twitter.com/AprilALunaWrite

SMP Author site: http://smpauthors.wordpress.com/meet-april-a-luna/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/april.luna.545

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/531987774704502454/

Writer’s Blog: https://aprilaluna2013.wordpress.com

SMP:  April, thanks so much for visiting with us today!

April has included an excerpt from her upcoming Soul Mate Publishing release, Child of the Night, which has a release date of Spring 2014

–                   Rebellion without truth is like spring in a bleak, arid desert.

– Kahlil Gibran

Chapter 1

My name is Sarah De Luz, and I am a true child of the night.  No. I’m not a vampire or a werewolf; I’m not a supernatural being.  I’m different because I have xeroderma pigmentosum -XP for short.  Now, don’t run and grab your dictionary or search the Internet.  It’s just a fancy word for a sun allergy, an extreme sun allergy.

Sighing, I take in my mundane surroundings.  A large covered window spans the length of one of my plum-purple walls; it’s exactly seven steps from the side of my bed.  I know this because I’ve counted them numerous times before.  Seems a shame to cover up the beauty of the window’s architecture, but any exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet is forbidden; even minute amounts can cause irreparable damage to my skin.  So, the curtains stay closed during the daylight hours, only to be open under the cloak of darkness.

I roll over and gaze at the clock on the bedside table.  It’s eleven-fifteen.  I slide out from under the warm covers fully clothed.  Then, I pull open the curtains, exposing the bay window as moonlight bathes my room.  The darkness is comforting.  It offers a promise of life and a touch of adventure; for in the depths of the night, extraordinary beauty blooms, if one knows where to look.

Staci Mack, my three year-old half-sister, moans a complaint between pursed lips and rolls over, hiding her delicate face under the lavender comforter on my full size bed.  She’s afraid to sleep alone, especially in the dark, which is why she’s in my bed instead of hers most nights.  I guess you can say she’s a child of the light.

Sliding the latch on the window generates a muffled click as the lock springs open.  I turn my head toward the open bedroom door, listening for soft footsteps on the Spanish-tile floor; however, silence is all that fills the air.  With ease, I slide the window up just enough to slip through.

“Morph,” I say, softly, calling out his name.  A large ocelli and tear-stained marked head emerges from inside my dark room.  His golden-colored eyes reflect the moonlight as he chirps, barely above a whisper.

“Come on, boy.  We’re burning moonlight,” I murmur, which is code for it’s time to go.

Morph leaps out of the house with the grace of a stealthy cat, and I slide the window down.  Standing at a total of thirty inches long, from chest to rump, and weighing almost forty pounds, he’s on the large side of the Savannah cat family.

The metal trash cans, several feet away, rattle as Morph inspects the contents of each one. A cornucopia of odors wafts in the air.  I scrunch my nose.  I’m glad my dad, Anthony De Luz, and his wife, June are heavy sleepers because they don’t approve of my nightly outings.

I grab the handlebars of my bike. They’re leaning against the house.  I turn back toward the window.  From outside, I watch as the covers move rhythmically with each breath Staci takes.  She will sleep until dawn, never realizing I left.

The cool night air is still, void of any breeze, which is unusual for fall in Deadwater, Maine; however, the streets are empty, as usual, this time of night.  Not many people venture out into the dark, but there are a few exceptions, such as Mr. Jackson, who lives several houses down.  He has insomnia most nights; however, he’s pretty cool because he keeps my night excursions a secret.  I think he knows my dad would flip-out if he knew I was out most nights, especially since I’m supposed to be tucked snug in bed.

I hear the tell-tale sound of wood-on-wood and cock my head to the side and smile. “Evening, Mr. Jackson,” I say as I wave.  He’s sitting, bundled up in the dark on his front porch as he rocks back and forth in his wooden rocking chair.

“It’s a cold one tonight, Sarah,” Mr. Jackson yells out in a southern drawl, his voice rough and raspy from emphysema.  “Feels and smells like rain.  I can feel it deep down in my bones.  You be careful now. You hear?”

“I always am, Mr. Jackson,” I reply.  “Besides, I have my trusty bodyguard with me, Sir Morph.”

“Ahh…Sir Morph, I almost forgot about your gallant protector,” he says as his body is wracked with bronchial spasms.  “Enjoy the moonlight, but be weary of what may be spawning in the darkness, child.”

“Catch you on the way back, Mr. Jackson,” I say, peddling past his manicured lawn.

My dad told me we moved to Nowheresville because it’s a small community, a nice place to start a new life.  He thought it would be better for me, help me cope with my mom’s death; however, I think it was more for him than me.  So, we moved to a small dead-end town because that’s what he said would be good for us, but it doesn’t really matter where I am because the light will always confine me to the walls of my caged fortress.

I’ll never walk the grounds of a college campus under the sun’s rays or tour a city on a warm summer’s day.  Tubing on the river or visiting a theme park during daylight hours are things I can only experience when watching a movie or in a dream.  However, under the light of the moon, within the freedom of darkness, the light of my soul thrives and flourishes.  He doesn’t understand that I can’t live in the light as he does, but I wish he did.

I thirst for freedom from the walls that confine me because I know there’s a whole other world to be explored out there in the darkness.  My condition frightens him, and I understand why, but it’s all I’ve ever known, so it seems normal to me.  Why can’t he see that I need more out of life than four walls?  I can’t live in a bubble forever, sheltered from the world, not when I know there’s more to life than what I’ve experienced, thus far.

Sighing, I pull my brown cotton hoodie over my head as I round the corner of Holston Avenue and Pier Drive on my bike.  The only visible signs of life are a few bull bats flying around a handful of streetlights that still work.  I tilt my head downward to avoid direct contact with the artificial light.  Morph glances over his shoulder, making sure I‘m still behind him.  He picks up his pace because he knows we’re heading to Chase Pond, my one true refuge.

At the entrance of the pond, I pull my bike off the road.  I chain it to a metal rod that’s attached to the fence.  My lips turn downward into a frown.  The gate is locked, which is odd, but it won’t stop us.  Morph groans while crawling under the cold steel bars.  I laugh.  He looks at me through lofty golden eyes as if to say, “What did I do?”

“Ahh…Morph, you’re the best.”

Morph shifts his weight from paw-to-paw, waiting impatiently for me to climb over.  Once on the other side, we walk down to the water’s edge.  I stand and watch the rhythmic movement of the water lapping against the wooden legs of the dock.  The sounds of the pond come to life like a well-orchestrated movement of a symphony playing Mahler’s 5th. The corners of my lips turn upward as I close my eyes and breathe in the sounds of the night.  I take in a deep breath and sigh.  Why can’t all of life be this peaceful and free?

I hear a splash and open my eyes.  Morph is slinking along the bank chasing shadows in the dark.  He steps into the shallow water at the edge; his meow and chirping is buoyant and carefree. A shiver runs up my spine.  I shake it off.

“Come on boy.  It is way too cold for a swim,” I say, closing the distance between us as I scratch behind his alert ears.  He rubs his head against my leg and then nips the outside of my hand gently.

“Mirrp,” he chirps, and his head tilts sideways before he trots off sniffing the night air.

I strip off the outer layer of the clothing I’m wearing: jogging pants and a zipper hoodie. Exhaling, I see my breath.  It might be cold in my shorts and tee-shirt now; however, that won’t last long.  I turn on my MP3 player and scroll through the menu.  My lips curl upward into a smile when I find my jogging tunes.  I insert the blue and red ear buds and crank up the classical sounds of Telemann, Dvorak, and Beethoven.  Leaning over, I pick up my discarded clothing and put them down at the edge of the dock entrance and retie my shoes.

Telemann’s Fantasia in B flat major is crooning in my ears.  The violin piece is carefree and lighthearted and lifts my spirits.  Scanning the area, I find Morph and take off jogging the two mile trail.  He runs up beside me, pacing my steps.  It feels good to let go and extend my stride.  I feel the tension and stress of the day slowly melting away with each slap of my shoes on the solid ground.

My father doesn’t understand I can’t be his little girl forever.  I need to stretch my wings and see where the winds of time will take me.

As I make my way downhill, on the last leg of my run, a light mist falls.  I see the dock entrance at the end of the trail and grin.  The pounding of my heart begins to slow, and my breathing evens out as my body cools.  Walking up to my discarded clothing, I lean over to pick up my pants.  I pull them on over my shoes and turn off my MP3 player, slipping it into my pant pocket.  Then, I pull the hoodie on and zip it up.

I slide a small bottle of water out of my jacket, and my cell phone falls to the ground with a thud.  Picking it up, I check the time.  It is a few minutes after midnight.  My father won’t be up for another six hours.  I slip my phone back into my pocket.  Then, I twist the cap off of the plastic container.  The clear liquid is cool and quenches my thirst.  Morph stands on his hind legs, pawing at my arms.

“Okay.  Okay.  I know you’re thirsty too,” I laugh, tipping the bottle until a small stream emerges.  Morph laps the water mid-stream.  With all the water surrounding us, I’ve never figured out why he has to drink mine.  When he’s finished, I cap the bottle and step onto the dock.  Morph runs down to the end of the free-flowing platform.  His movements are silent and fluid.

The rubber soles of my shoes grip the coarse-wooden planks under foot.  Halfway down the dock, the hardwood groans under my weight.  The sound of the wood giving way is predictable; another few steps and it will happen again.  Deadwater is predictable.  So, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  Nothing ever happens in Deadwater, Maine; nothing of importance anyway.  I should know, especially since I’ve lived here for a portion of my childhood and on into my teen years, which is pretty good for someone with my condition, so I’m told.  I may be in a club shared by 1 out of 250,000 people, but I don’t dwell on the things I can’t change.  So, I live as a child of the night, exploring all the world has to offer when everyone else is sleeping or should be asleep.

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