Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sample Scene from REUNION

In honor of Twitter's #SampleSunday author promotion hash-tag thingy, I'm posting one of my favorite scenes from REUNION. I have already posted a link to the first two chapters in the previous post, so I wanted to add something different. Thanks for reading my #SampleSunday excerpt from REUNION.   

An Excerpt from REUNION
By me, Jeff Bennington, the dork in the profile pic!

.....David and his ramshackle vehicle were parked in the back of the school parking lot at 9:22 a.m. He stepped out of his car, walked toward the rear of the vehicle and carefully opened the dilapidated trunk. He lifted his duffle bag with a grunt and set it on the ground. After slamming the hatchback shut, he reached inside the car and pulled out his manifesto. Careful not to bend or disfigure the critical document, he painstakingly inserted the proclamation into a plastic zip-lock bag. With the paper securely in place, he fastened the bag to his shirt with four baby pins to protect the document from the spray and splatter of the massacre. He posted it on his chest to ensure that those who’d find him read the document.
Satisfied with his preparations, he pulled his black jacket over the holstered guns, threw the duffle bag strap over his shoulder and began to walk toward his destiny. Aware that he would be hated forever, he ignored the consequences. He looked straight ahead, took one last drag from his cigarette and flicked it to the ground.
As David walked across the pavement, a young mother led her son away from the school.
“Hurry up! We’re going to be late for the orthodontist,” she said as she pulled at his jacket.
The boy and the mother stared as David came closer. David sensed her distrust. That’s right, lady. Don’t trust the boy in black, he thought. He stared back at the woman and grinned a villainous smile.
As the mother and son approached him, David recalled a time when Sheila had taken him out of school for a court appearance when he was six. She had pulled and tugged at him too. The memory reminded him of how she grew desperate for stability and financial security, and eventually shacked up with John Ray. They married and he gave his name to David to serve as a reminder of his affection. Four years later, they divorced and Sheila pressed charges against John.
“Come on David! Hurry up!” Sheila had scolded her 6-year-old son, as she pulled him along.
“But I don’t wanna go. I hate him! I don’t ever want to see him again!”
“Listen baby; you gotta go. The court said you gotta be there and you gotta say what he done to you.”
“No!” he fired back. David pulled away from Sheila and ran into the playground. Sheila chased after him. She caught up with him at the jungle gym, grabbed his arm and yelled, “David! Stop it! Now listen to me. I done everything I could to take care of you. I done my best to find you a daddy and a father figure. I ain’t perfect! Ain’t no one perfect. But you gotta tell the judge everything, if you want John Ray to leave us alone. You gotta tell the judge where he touched you and what he done to you, and everything! I can’t do that for you, Baby!” Sheila wept and wiped her tears as she cried out, “I can’t help you this time! You gotta do it, boy.”
“But I’m scared, Mama.” David started to cry. “I’m scared he’s gonna get me again. I’m scared he’s gonna make me do those bad things or hurt you! What if they let him go, Mama? What if he kills me like he said he would? What if he comes back into my dreams again? What if—?” David collapsed into Sheila’s arms, crying as she held him tight. He trusted her. She kissed his little head.
Moments later, she pulled away, looking him square in the eye. David remembered her promise. “Listen, Davey. I love you more than anything in the whole world! You know that. And I ain’t ever gonna let anyone hurt you or me again, you hear me? You hear me, boy?” David nodded his head. “Ain’t nobody ever gonna do that to you again. If they try, they’re gonna have to kill me first, cause life just wouldn’t be worth livin’ knowin’ that someone touched you or hurt you again. Do you hear me, Davey?”
David heard her loud and clear. He told the whole truth and nothing but the truth that day in court. The jury convicted John Ray of several counts of child molestation, neglect and battery. Sadly, Sheila didn’t keep her promise to her son.
Returning to the moment, David stood in the parking lot, absent of all emotion, while the mother glared at him suspiciously. David looked at her and shrugged. “Better get the hell out of here, lady,” he said. “You and your boy.” 
She grabbed the boy’s hand and took off running toward her car. She don’t know shit, he mused. Probably thinks I’m gonna start a fight or something. He laughed and picked up his pace. He looked at his watch and thought, right on schedule. It was 9:28 a.m. He heard the woman’s car tear out of the parking lot, but kept looking straight ahead. By the time David stood in front of the glass entryway into the cafeteria, which also served as the school auditorium, he could hear sirens screaming in the distance. He grinned, growled and reached for the door.

REUNION By J. Benningto

Thanks for reading. REUNION will be available on May 1, 2011
            You can dowload it to your eReader on April 1st!   
             As always, I'd love to hear your comments! BOOM!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Final Cover design for REUNION.

Well, what do you think?

After all the votes came in, Cover #3 was the clear winner. I did, however, get lots of input, and made some changes. Here were some of your thoughts.
  • Loose the tagline - I did.
  • Try a different font - I did.
  • Add some color - I did.
  • Loose the "A Paranormal Thriller By..." - I did.
  • Many of you liked the school building - I kept it, but added my own non-royalty paying picture that I took of a school in Kokomo, IN.
  • Many of you liked a character that told you something about the story - I added one - my first born son. He modeled for me. He's not a killer. He's a very smart and creative young man and writes excellent fiction.
  • Many of you liked the light emiting from the school - I kept it.
  • Some of you told me to make sure the title and author name were clearly visible in a small thumbnail - I changed the font, put a space between each letter and got rid of the "The", which allowed more space for "R E U N I O N". I did the same with my name.

I listened to all of your input and came up with what I believe is a very good cover ( I know some people will not like it, but I can't please everybody). All I did was take a picture, upload it to and started playing around with the different toys they have there. Unfortunately, I do not know the "recipe" that I used. I had to make way too many adjustments to repeat the process. After I was satisfied with the general concept and all the votes were in, I upgraded ($19.95) to the premium account and used a few more available tools, including the font. I probably spent about 30+ hours crafting concepts and nailing down the final.

Here's the final draft, followed by a few of the concepts that led up to it. Thank you all so, so much for your input and advice and compliments. I really don't think I'd come up with this without your help.

Here were a few of the preliminaries... And as promised, here is the Link to the first 2 chapters of REUNION (available on May 1st). And if you missed the post where I gave the synopsis and reason for writing it, I'll give a quick tagline to sum it up...

"Troubled teen kills eight and summuns the survivors for a reunion twenty years later - at the school."

David Ray killed eight students and then turned the gun on himself. He thought the shooting and suicide would heal his pain. Instead, he changed Tanner Khan and the survivors forever. Twenty years later, Tanner and his fellow classmates agree to hold a class reunion. Although they all suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, they agree to reunite. When they get inside, they discover that Hell has come to collect a debt… and someone has to pay! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Whoooo Are You?

Who are you? Really?

I know many of you would say that you are a writer if I asked what you are. And I would tell you the same if you were to ask me. At the core of my being, I am a right brained, creative type, who loves writing more than I could have ever imagined. Unfortunately, most writers, myself included, have a day job. We wake up, shower the night stink off our flesh and brush the bacteria out of our teeth like every other working stiff. We go to work, obey the man, gulp down a 5 hour energy drink or cup of Joe just to lubricate our brain, and then diligently slave away until our literary dreams have come true.

And yet...we somehow find the time, motivation, and the creative energy to write our story - maybe many stories depending on our circumstance, shuffling family, life and American Idol (can't wait to see Steve Tyler) into our shrinking schedules. Why I ask? Why do we do it? Shouldn't we be content with the work we have already chosen? Are our lives so pathetic that we write each new chapter just to cope, or as a means of escape? Maybe. Sometimes, I think my writing is somewhat fantisorical, although as frightenening as my prose can be, I'm not sure I could handle everything I throw at my little darlings. Afterall, they're not real - I am. And I don't like to get too dirty and I scare easily! (Uh, nevermind that last comment)

What really interests me though, is the face behind the authors mask. I mean, didn't everyone want to know who the Lone Ranger really was? What about Zoro? Didn't all of Me-heco want to know who the brave swordsman was hiding behing the black cloak? I did! And I still feel that way. I am still drawn to the story behind the author. I want to know what makes them tick, what their life is/was like, where they came from and where they got all their material. Admittedly, I am a sucker for a true story, and I love hearing that Mr. Poetwritesalot really works for the trash company, or that up and coming Author-X, is really a legal secretary finishing up her third courtroom thriller!

Although I'm at the risk of losing all credibility, I'll admit to having a long and dirty career working as a maintenance man, pipefitter and HVAC installer. I've worked on an assembly line, and ate transmission fluid on a daily basis just to get a paycheck. And through it all, my wife and I have been raising 4 kids, which as it turns out, is the hardest job of them all. Having said that, I can look back on my life and history and experiences and know that I can add something to my writing that no one else can. For example: in my political thriller Killing the Giants, I basically blow up a couple buildings using buried natural gas lines by adding a tiny bit of injected oxygen - a very dangerous, yet real weapon known mostly to men and women in the pipefitting trade. See? That is my experience. And it makes for a very dramatic ending if I do say so myself.

Now please, I beg of you; Please, oh please comment and tell me what you do. I know you're a writer or maybe a reader, but please tell me what your day job is, even if you are a 100% full-time writer or a janitor who works nights. Share your story and what your life brings to your writing and how it makes your work unique.

And while I'm on the subject of careers, I'd like to bring your attention to the upper right corner of your screen. Do you see the Thrill of the Week? This week, it is The Butcher's Boy, a career that, by the looks of the cover, can be quite deadly! What's the thrill of the week, you ask? It is a free book highlight that I am offering on a weekly/bi-weekly basis to writers (indie or published) who write in and around the thriller genre (And yes, I'm flexable). Why? Because we all need to cross promote and I want to set an example. Email me via my web page with a link and a jpeg and I'll get you on the schedule. BOOM!

P.S. Thank you for all the wonderful and encouraging comments on my forthcoming book cover for The Reunion. Cover #3 won by a long shot. I will tweak the final according to your input. I appreciate all of your votes!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Book Cover Selection

Cover #1

I am so excited to announce that I have a few book cover ideas for my soon to be released paranormal thriller, The Reunion. But I need your help in deciding which cover to go with. I took two covers that made it into my family's personal favorites, and then jazzed them up a bit. So if you would be so kind, please make your vote in the comment section below. To assist you, I have written a short blurb about The Reunion, and explain why I wrote it. With your input, I'm hoping to have the best possible cover.

Here's what you get...
If you vote, I will send you a free preview of The Reunion to help you get excited about the book and to start spreading the word about it via, twitter, facebook, and your blog. And perhaps, if you are willing, the cover and preview will excite you enough to write a blog review or even have me as a guest blogger at the time of its release!?!
Cover #2

The Reunion (Synopsis):
David Ray killed eight students and then turned the gun on himself. After years of abuse and peer ridicule, his inner demons had provoked him to fix his world. He thought the shooting and suicide would heal his pain – he was wrong. In a flash, he changed Tanner Khan and the other survivors forever.

Twenty years later, Tanner and his fellow classmates agree to hold a class reunion at the old school, and discover that their alma mater has a new ghost in its closet. Although they suffer from emotional numbness, panic attacks and flashbacks, the survivors all reluctantly agree to the reunion, and to revisiting their past. They are unaware, however, that the police are investigating a rash of paranormal activity surrounding the school.
Cover #3

After a welcome home reception hosted by the locals, Tanner and his classmates enter the haunted school to courageously face their fears. Within minutes, the doors lock and they find that David’s spirit is caught in a horrifying limbo between life and death. A strange turn of events ends David’s hell on earth when his demons take matters into their own hands. Hell has come to collect a debt… will Tanner and his friends survive? 

Why would I write such a bone chilling novel?
Have you ever wondered what will become of the students who have been traumatized by a school shooter? Have you ever wondered what the long-term effects of that trauma will have on the victims? How will their lives change? What are the consequences? Who will make the most of their journey? Who will not? Who will lose faith? Who will find it? 

Cover #4
Will they ever be willing to face their demons and return to the place where they watched their friends and classmates suffer and die at the hand of a crazed and troubled teen? And finally, will the dead still be there, watching, waiting to finish what was started? These are the questions that swirled through my mind every time I’d hear of another school shooting. To the innocent lives that have been tragically snuffed out, long before their time, I offer this work of fiction in their honor. May you find peace in this broken world.

Thanks for visiting and voting. Please follow and comment rigorously. If you have any additional input or criticism, I am open to your ideas! BOOM! 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Readers advice to Writers.

My guest blogger, Molly Campbell is going to share some great advice in just a second!

First a note of gratitude. I want to thank all my new and old followers for your support. I have been overwhelmed with your encouraging comments and Tweets about my blog here.  In fact, I was given the Stylish Blogger Award by author and poet, Jemima Valentino. If you are new, please "Follow" and "Share" The Writing Bomb with your family, friends and internet peeps. Thank you.

Molly Campbell
Now, back to business. I want to introduce you to a blogging friend of mine, Molly Campbell. She is the author of the blog, Life with the Campbells and is also a guest on Moms who need wine. Molly is a writer and an avid reader and has some great advide for writers. So if you want to test your writing skills against a checklist of reader requirements, this post is a must read. If you're a writer, comment and leave a link to your book. If you're a reader, please affirm Molly's thoughts and/or add your own thoughts as well.

Welcome, Molly (deafening applause fills the room)!

What advice can you give writers?

I am most certainly not a famous writer, but a writer I am. As a result of blogging, I have begun to get a few questions about writers and and writing that I do feel qualified to answer. So here goes: advice to writers from a writer who is not famous, not published, not represented by a literary agent, and probably not destined for greatness. But in the “you can learn something from just about anybody” school of life, here are my writing tips for aspiring authors:
  • WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW. I know my husband better than anybody else. I can finish his sentences for him, and often do. I have spent forty years plumbing the depths of his wondrous mind, and I have discovered a writer’s gold mine there. I could no more write a treatise on the economy than win a Nobel prize, but I have found enough fodder in my husband to fuel blogs aplenty.
  • KEEP IT SHORT. The best writers get an idea, and then say it. Period. A few great ones can throw in adjectives and adverbs that make their writing sing, but the rest of us hang ourselves by adding too many modifiers. It truly is the thought that counts, not how uniquely you can say it.
  • MAKE IT COHESIVE. Get one good idea. Build a piece around IT. Too many ideas expressed in one place are confusing, confounding, and just plain muddy. Outlines are the greatest things since sliced bread! Figuring out what you want to say before you write makes writing flow. Or, as my small daughter said once, “I didn’t like that story. It didn’t have a skeleton.”
  • GET GRAMMAR. Man, oh man, if I had a dollar for every punctuation error, misplaced modifier, or misused apostrophe I see, I would have my own butler. Good writers are understandable. Grammar is what makes the written word understandable. James Joyce and a few others could ignore it, but I think that grammar is a writer’s best friend!
  • THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. If it is a beautiful day out there, you can be sure that there are hundreds of would-be writers writing about the breeze, the rays hitting the daffodils, or the beauty of their children as they tumble in the park. On beautiful days, I see all the dog poop in the yard, my husband coming at me with a power washer, and an opportunity to acquire four new pairs of Capri pants. Don’t write about the obvious.
  • PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. All good writers write a lot. I pride myself on a grocery list well done. It doesn’t matter whether it is a note to the teacher, a letter to the editor, or an email to a friend. If you are going to write something, do it as well as you can. Then do it over. Writers write. It doesn’t matter, really, what you write, as long as you are practicing.
  • EXPERIENCE MAKES THE WRITER. The layers of one’s life are what make a person interesting. Are you an adventurer? You are fortunate; you will have a lot to draw on as a writer. Are you housebound? No excuse; it didn’t stop Emily Dickinson. Are you just a kid? Well that is a whole world you can explore. I do feel that I have found my voice just recently as an older woman, but for me, life got in the way of my writing. Don’t let that happen to you.
  • LEARN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN FROM PEOPLE. My husband is a man of a million questions. If you have a story, he will drag it out of you. Over the years, he has become friends with waitresses, plumbers, every neighbor in a five mile radius, and much to my chagrin, the people in the rows in front of and behind us at every movie we have attended. But what he uncovers are human truths. And those truths are worth writing about.

My fifteen minutes of fame may never come, or I might just get five minutes. But I am a writer. I love words. I make myself laugh. I just keep on typing. And my advice to all of you out there who want to be writers? Write something. Wait. Revise it. Wait. Revise it once again. Think about your life. Then repeat the process.  - Molly Campbell

Thanks Molly! Great Advice!          

****** If you are a writer or reader and would like to contribute to The Writing Bombarooskie, please email me at or DM me at Twitter and tell me your topic idea (must have something to do with books, publishing, writing or reading. I am specifically interested in hearing from writers of suspense, thrillers, and the supernatural. BOOM!

Please comment vigorously and click on the "Follow" link!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What does it take to be a REAL Writer?

Are you a writer? A real writer?
Most scribes, both literary and poetic ask that very question of themselves and often come to the same conclusion. They say to themselves...
  • I'm a real writer if... I'm published by a real publisher. 
  • I'm a real writer if... I have an established platform. 
  • I'm a real writer if... I've written a bestseller.
  • I'm a real writer if... I'm a celebrity.
  • I'm a real writer if... I dress nice - professional attire. 
  • I'm a real writer if... JA Konrath mentions me in his blog. 
Do you believe that garbage? Are you trapped in a world of literary falsehoods and "real writer" misnomers that have defeated and squeezed the creative juices out of you? If you are, you're not alone. Writers everywhere have this false belief that something magical has to happen before they consider themself a real writer, one that ranks up there on cloud ninety-nine with Koontz and King or Rowling.

King and Koontz are exceptional at what they do, but that doesn't mean you're not a real writer!

I've written 4 novels, 1 short story, and another awesome work in progress. Yet on more than one occasion, I've asked myself if I have what it takes. Am I the real deal? And yes, at different stages of my writing journey, I thought all of the above statements were true. I have now come to believe something very different.

Here's what I think...
I think the expectations we've put on ourselves have come from a bunch of crusty old arrogant literary professionals who are more concerned about the almighty dollar and have forgotten what writing is all about. Therefore, like all things, the definition of a real writer is changing, and should change.

Here's my List of 10 Qualities That Define a Real Writer
  1. A real writer is someone who writes because he has a love for words. 
  2. A real writer has an innate appreciation for what it takes to create a story and put it down on paper.
  3. A real writer loves books. 
  4. A real writer loves creating with his right brain.
  5. A real writer enjoys constructing a new story that no one has ever read and then puts his mind to it and sees the project through. 
  6. A real writer sits quietly in his bed or chair or couch late at night or early in the morning or during his lunch hour penciling in the tedious details that breathe life into his or her story or poem. 
  7. A real writer writes because he loves it.  
  8. A real writer writes just to read his own words. 
  9. A real writer jots down silly phrases or jokes or poems in a notepad. 
  10. A real writer smiles when she hands her teacher or professor her paper, while the others walk away sad and gloomy, overcome by the intricacies of indenting and completing a full sentence
Without over spiritualizing, I further believe that a real writer writes because he was created to write and hears his calling. Sometimes a real writer hears the call when he or she is very young. Sometimes, a real writer doesn't hear the calling until he's older - like me. Sometimes, a real writer never paints with her #2 graphite brush, afraid of rejection. Sometimes a real writer never writes, because the message he or she hears is so unbearably oppressive, he believes that he does not have what it takes to be a real writer.

You see... real writers are the ones who love writing because they can't help it. If you don't love it - you will never be a real writer. You may have a lot to learn. You might improve with each effort, and never feel like your last work was your best. You might get bad reviews at first. But don't we all?

Writing is a journey, and in it, writers find themselves. They discover who they are and they tell the world what they know. Writers should not be judged by book sales, or who their agent or publisher is. They should be judged by their passion for the pen. And that passion, over time, will generate sweet sounding prose. Yet one does not have to be a master craftsmen to be a writer. He need only be an artful practitioner, who at the end of the day, looks at what he has created and smiles.

Do you know anyone struggling with their writorical self-image? Are you? Please comment vigorously, share your story, and share this post with all your reading and writing friends. They might appreciate the truth and learn to differentiate between real writers and those who are cherry picked by the Big 6. BOOM!