Wednesday, October 31, 2012

L stands for Lincoln

Posted by JM Darhower Wednesday, October 31, 2012, under | 2 comments

AKA The 16th President
NOT the Car
Although, okay, the car is pretty badass, and one does make a cameo in #TheUnnamedSequel, but this is definitely about the president.

I'm a political junkie. I admit it. Politics are my drug of choice. I'm a die-hard liberal, probably about as far left on the political spectrum as you can get. Those little online quizzes often tell me I'm more liberal than our president, who gets heat for being 'crazy liberal', but I digress. That's just me. It's what I believe. I'm a staunch Obama supporter. I adored Bill Clinton and still do. I even like Jimmy Carter and admire his charitable work. I'll tell anyone who listens. I align myself with the Democratic Party and disagree probably 99% of the time with the current elected Republicans.

But my favorite president of all time is a Republican. Yep. Abraham Lincoln. If I could meet any person, dead or alive, and have just a simple conversation with them, it would be him. He absolutely fascinates me. He came from a poor background and ran a store. He was sensitive (hated hurting animals, even for food, and had a bunch of pets) and suffered from depression. He used to store his things in his big hat instead of in his pockets. He wasn't religious, didn't go to church, but he was spiritual--they supposedly used to hold seances in the White House to talk to their passed on loved ones.

Also? He kinda maybe sorta had a psychic side. Seriously. He used to tell his wife that he'd sometimes see two reflections in the mirror, a double reflection of himself, one clear and one blurry. He mused that he thought it might mean he survived his first term but wouldn't survive his second. in 1865 he told a group of friends about a dream he'd had, that he was laying in bed and heard crying in the White House, so he searched and searched until he made it to the East Room. In the room he saw a coffin guarded by soldiers and a bunch of mourners. He asked who died, and one of the soldiers replied "The President. He was killed by an assassin." Less than a week after telling that story, Lincoln was assassinated.

Freaky, right?

So, yeah, this humble, kinda depressed, non-religious, maybe psychic Republican fascinates me. Not only because of personal things, but the political ones, too. I won't bore you by going into details, but of course, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment top the list.

It's strange, seeing how much politics have changed the past century and a half, the political parties unrecognizable from their former selves.

There's a Lincoln movie coming out soon (a little over two weeks from today... November 16th). Go see that bitch. I know I will.

Or, really, go buy a Lincoln Continental. Whatever. Both are quite awesome lol.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

K stands for Kindness

Posted by JM Darhower Tuesday, October 23, 2012, under | 3 comments

AKA Kill Them With It

Kill them. All of them. Every single one. No questions asked. KAH-BOOM.

Okay, okay... not literally.  I'm totally kidding.  I, in no way, shape, or form, condone murder. I'm probably one of the most sensitive and peaceful people you'll ever meet, despite the fact that I often spend hours researching murder and crime (KEY WORD: RESEARCH. FOR MY WRITING. NOT FOR SERIOUS).

Yeah, I should probably shut up while I'm ahead here and end up on some kinda lists...

To my point: Kindness. Spending hours on the internet every week, it sometimes feels like kindness is a rare quality to find in people. Negativity is rampant online, judgement and hatred everywhere you turn, leading to cyber-bullying that quite honestly ruins lives. It's a sad reality, one I wish weren't so, but it is... I'm sure the anonymity has a lot to do with it, the fact that we can express our opinions online without fear of facing ridicule because they aren't attached to us in real life, but it's gone to the extreme. People use it as a platform to hurt others without having to own up to it, thinking it's harmless, thinking it's okay, but it's not. I, for one, can tell you that nameless, faceless insults are just as hurtful as ones said to your face, maybe even more so. At least when someone insults you to your face, you have a chance to truly defend yourself.

I've been targeted before, as I'm sure most of you reading this have. I've seen the lies, the hatred, the flames. I've watched posts on message boards turn from discussing a story to ridiculing the author, critique turning into straight up name-calling. I've seen people spread gossip like it's gospel without regard for how the defamation hurts the parties involved. I've seen the threats that have, more than once, legitimately frightened me. And it used to truly hurt me to the point that I cried, that I didn't want to get out of bed. There were times I had to respond, that I had to post to defend myself, but it only made it worse. It only fueled their anger. It only spread the hate. At the end of the day, those people still don't like me for whatever reason, and they never will, but that's okay. The bullying is NOT okay, the personal threats and slander is NOT okay, but their opinion? They're entitled to it. They can think what they want about it. That's on them and I can't control it.

What I CAN control, though, is myself. I can control my actions and my thoughts. I can't control how it all makes me feel, but I can control how I react to it.

I've learned to avoid--I don't go on message boards much anymore, I avoid certain websites, I tread lightly when on social media. It's easier, not inviting the negativity in, not seeking it out.

But as far as the people involved, the trolls and even the ones who have no qualms signing their name to the flame--I hold no ill will toward them. I wish them luck. I still read their work, admire their talent, hope they aim for the stars. If I passed them on the street, I'd make a point to say hello. Not to be bitchy, not to call them out, but because it's draining being angry. It's exhausting being negative. It's frankly not worth it to hold a grudge. I'd say hello because they're people, they're human, and we all could use a 'hello' sometimes.

Kill them with kindness. It doesn't always work--some people will frankly always spread negativity no matter what--but kindness never hurts. Never. And it feels good, being positive, not carrying that baggage, no trudging through life holding a million grudges. It's like the old saying goes--forgive, but don't forget. I may never be friends with certain people, but I also don't hate them. I can't. Hatred only truly drags down the person who feels it.

I'm a true believer that the world would be a much better place if we all took the time every day for some kindness. Smile at people, say hello, compliment them. It takes all of thirty seconds, but I promise--I fucking PROMISE--it'll make your day much, much better. Focus on the positive, not the negative, no matter what route they choose to take. Don't stoop to their level and never ever ever let them define you. Be you, the beautiful goddamn kind, smart, funny person you are, and not the person others try to make you out to be.

Having said that, now I will retreat back into my writing hole where I kill more people, but not with kindness. With GUNS. AND KNIVES. AND THE MENACING STARE OF A HITMAN NAMED CORRADO MORETTI. MUHAHAHAHA.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

J stands for Justice

Posted by JM Darhower Wednesday, October 03, 2012, under | 2 comments

AKA Free Sara Kruzan

So, okay, I know my blogs recently have been more on the 'serious business' side, and I promise to post something lighthearted soon, but this is something important that, in my opinion, just can't be ignored.

I'm all the time venting (and raging) about injustice in our justice system. It's one reason I'm personally against the death penalty--any system that potentially punishes innocent people by killing them is just something I can't support (if we could find a way to make it infallible, sure, but humans are prone to error, and it worries me... a lot). My heart hurt when Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in Texas, and again when Troy Davis was executed in Georgia, when both cases relied heavily on flawed evidence and unreliable witnesses (and recanted heavily testimony) to convict. Could they be guilty? Sure. But to execute a man when there's so much doubt just doesn't sit right with me.

This brings me to Sara Kruzan. She grew up with a drug addicted mother and suffered from severe depression since she was 9. At the age of 11, she met a 31-year-old man who treated her like a daughter (the father she never had, as she'd only met her real father three times) and he slowly started grooming her for prostitution. By 13, he was selling her for sex. At the age of 16, after years of abuse, she murdered him, took his money and car, and fled. She was arrested, tried for murder, and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. Life, at the age of 16, with absolutely no opportunity for release. She says she did it because another pimp said he'd kill her and her mother if she didn't. The prosecution said Kruzan was "no longer employed" by the pimp when she murdered him.

Employed. She was a child prostitute. She wasn't a fucking employee. She was a victim.

We can all agree that what Sara did was wrong. Murder is never the answer, and vigilante justice isn't something we can support. Even Sara understands that. She has spent the last 18 years in prison for killing the man who preyed on her as a child, who sold her, who abused her. She was a minor at the time, and the jury essentially told her she couldn't be redeemed. She wasn't worth trying to reform or save. They condemned her to die behind bars.

In 2011, Governor Schwarzenegger commuted her sentence to 25 years with the possibility of parole.  It's a start, certainly, but Sara still sits behind bars today, and could very well be there for many years to come. She's a human trafficking victim, a SURVIVOR, yet that wasn't taken into account.

She's 34 years old now and still fighting for a new trial. There's expected to be a ruling sometime this month as to whether or not she gets that new trial, where she can finally use the "battered partner" defense.

Watch the video, if you have a few minutes, and meet the girl behind the case. Hear the story in her own words. Then decide if your heart tells you she's "not redeemable".

Friday, September 21, 2012

Book Giveaway

Posted by JM Darhower Friday, September 21, 2012, under | 52 comments

I have an extra copy of my novel "Sempre (Forever)" that I really don't need on my bookshelf. So instead of getting bored and cutting it up and making something random out of it, like book flowers or paper cranes or a hidden flask compartment (lol, I'm actually tempted), I'll give it away to one of you lovely folks.

Winner receives a signed copy of the book and swag (button, bookmark, sticker, whatever else I may have on hand at the moment)

To enter, just leave a comment on this blog and tell me why I should give it to you. That's it. I'll pick an entry number via a random online generator (your comment # is your entry #) to give the book away, so it's an even playing field.

To make it fun, I'll throw in a second signed copy of the book to whoever leaves the most creative comment. So make me laugh, inspire me, tell me a story, tell me something about yourself, whatever you want to say, and I'll personally pick one of you.

I'll ship them anywhere, so it's open internationally. One entry per person, please.

Giveaway is open for 48 hours, until Sunday, September 23rd, 2012 at 11:00 pm eastern daylight time.

Monday, September 17, 2012

I Stands For Inspiration

Posted by JM Darhower Monday, September 17, 2012, under | 1 comment

AKA we are what we eat

Inspiration is everywhere, it's all around us... it's in music, and movies, and books, and people. Every minute of every day brings us another moment of potential inspiration, another moment of possible greatness. We are what we eat, figuratively speaking. Everything we consume becomes a part of us.

It reminds me of this quote from one of my favorite authors, Chuck Palahniuk, from his novel "Invisible Monsters":

(Nothing of me is original. I am a combined effort of everyone I've ever known.)

Everything we see, everything we watch, everything we read, everything we do... it stays with us. It becomes a part of us. We take it in and it alters us, it helps us form opinions and reaffirms our beliefs, and it gives us ideas. It inspires us. Everyone we meet affects us in the same way, too. We're always learning, whether we realize it or not... just by waking up in the morning, just by breathing, we're growing. And because of that, we're constantly creating, recycling old ideas and making them new by combining different things we've picked up along the way.

French movie director Jean-Luc Godard said "It's not where you take things from--it's where you take things to." Everything inside of us we've picked up along the way from somewhere else, but what truly counts is what we do with what we've learned, with what we've been gifted from others. It's how we embrace it, and change it, and make it our own that truly defines us at the end of the day. There's really no such thing as originality... everything has been done before, everything has been written, everything has been created... but it's possible to recreate things in a fresh, enlightening way.

People ask me often about what inspired me when writing Sempre, and I can list dozens (maybe hundreds) of things, some obvious while others extremely subtle. Of course I can site other writers, like Stephanie Meyer and Mario Puzo, for giving me the courage to write, and I can name songs that ignited feelings within me, like 18th Floor Balcony and Outcry, and I can even name people whose lives affected me, like Annalisa Durante and Al Capone. I can credit my high school English teacher, or my student club adviser who first told me about human trafficking. I can even name my parents, my family, and my friends, but it wouldn't be enough, because it was more than just all of them. It was more than that. It was everything.

So what inspires me? Life. Love. You. Every single one of you, whether you know it or not... fuck, whether I know it or not. The world inspires me, inspires all of us. It's truly a beautiful thing.

Monday, July 30, 2012

H stands for Human Trafficking

Posted by JM Darhower Monday, July 30, 2012, under | No comments

aka Modern-Day Slavery

Aly Diabate, at almost twelve years old, was promised $150 a year and a bicycle if he agreed to work in the cocoa fields in Mali. Instead, he was locked away and forced to work long hours, beaten daily with a bicycle chain whenever he faltered. 43% of the worlds cocoa still comes from these small farms on the Ivory Coast.

Somaly Mam was born in Cambodia, although she isn't exactly sure when since there's no record of her birth. As a teen, she was sold into prostitution and forced to marry a stranger. Whenever she disobeyed, she was tortured and raped. After watching her best friend being murdered, she finally made her escape.

Shaniya Davis, five years old, was sold by her mother to pay off a drug debt. After a six day search, she was found dead alongside a rural North Carolina highway. Her mother was charged with human trafficking, while the drug dealer has been charged with the little girl's rape and murder. Neither party has been on trial yet.

If you know anything about me, chances are you know speaking out about human trafficking is something I'm passionate about. I'm a firm believer that knowledge is power, and just spreading the word that this travesty still exists today helps save lives. They are people. They're brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends, lovers, neighbors. They're children. They're parents. They aren't criminals, as many are made out to be. They're victims. It could happen to any of us. We can't afford to keep our mouths shut and eyes closed anymore.

The statistics are frightening. Human trafficking is one of the largest criminal enterprises, second only to the drug trade. Approximately 3 million children run away from home in America every year, and within 48 hours a third of them are lured into prostitution or pornography. The average age of entry into the sex industry is only twelve years old. A victim is considered "used up" and "old" by the time they reach 17. The National Center of Missing and Exploited Children views over 10 million child pornography images and videos every year in an attempt to identify the victims.

A good question someone asked me recently: How can you tell when someone is a victim of trafficking? I feel like it's always better to be safe than sorry, and if you even remotely suspect something is wrong call the hotline and report it (or 911, in an emergency), but there are some signs that point to possible trafficking:

  • Not free to come and go as they please/has to ask permission from someone who isn't their guardian/usually chaperoned when out in public
  • Under 18 and in the sex trade (BIG red flag)
  • Is unpaid/underpaid/only works somewhere for tips
  • Not allowed to take breaks/works excessively long hours
  • Owes a massive debt to someone without the means of paying it off
  • Unusually extreme security at their work or home (barbed wire, boarded up windows, cameras, etc)
  • They appear to constantly be fearful, tense, submissive, anxious, and depressed
  • Flinches, avoids eye contact, doesn't speak
  • Lacks healthcare, possibly malnourished, and very hesitant to accept any help from anyone
  • Shows signs of physical abuse (bruises/broken bones)
  • Has few personal possessions (especially no pictures and nothing of monetary value)
  • Has no control over money, no bank account in their name, no credit cards
  • They carry no ID or passport
  • Someone else usually speaks for them
  • Says they're "just visiting" when asked, unable to clarify where they "live"
  • Knows very little about their surroundings
  • Loss of sense of time (doesn't know the date, isn't knowledgeable about current affairs or pop culture)
  • Inconsistencies in their life story

If you suspect human trafficking, call the hotline at 1-888-3737-888 in the US (if in another country, there's a link on my website to find your hotline). Put the number in your cell phone. Do it for Aly, and Somaly, and Shaniya, and for all the other survivors and victims, past, present, and future. Be a hero. You never know when you can save a life.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

G stands for Guilty Pleasures

Posted by JM Darhower Tuesday, June 19, 2012, under | 5 comments

aka I probably shouldn't admit to liking this, but...

Guilty pleasures -- things we secretly enjoy that we never breathe a word about publicly, because let's be real... it can be embarrassing... but I'm one that just doesn't care. Really. I don't. Judge me if you want. I'm not going to stop being who I am. I'm not going to stop liking what I like. This is me. Deal with it.

First and foremost, I'm a reality TV junkie. If it's "reality" and it's on TV, chances are I'm all over it.
Real Housewives, X-Factor, Bachelor, Bachelorette, Amazing Race, America's Next Top Model, Jersey Shore... the list goes on and on. My favorite by far has to be Big Brother.

(I love the hell out of Jordan... and Jeff)

My summers are totally consumed by the Big Brother house. And then there are these crazy ladies:

Which I think is no surprise to anyone, given my fascination with organized crime. In fact, one of the very first reality shows I started watching revolved around a Mafia family.

And the there's music... ahhhh, music. I love all music, but I have a weak spot for cheesy pop (can we say Britney Spears?). Closest to my cheesy pop music loving heart, though, are guys like these:
(I still know how to do this dance)

Yes, I love boy bands. It started when I was 14 and it'll probably continue until I'm 104. Their music is catchy... you're lying if you say you don't know at least one song by one of these groups.

And finally, there's my love of the YA genre. I love Twilight. I love Harry Potter. Nothing anyone says will ever change my mind. The books, the movies, the entire communities surrounding them... LOVE IT.

I can't think of anything else. What are your guilty pleasures?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

F stands for Fanfiction

Posted by JM Darhower Thursday, May 03, 2012, under | 3 comments

AKA the real dirty 'F' word

It's only fitting that when I reached the F in the alphabet I blog about fanfiction. It's a controversial topic, a dirty word, something used mockingly by people who just don't "get it".  It's used in such a manner so often that most people who partake in fic, either writing or reading, are too ashamed to admit it for fear of how they'll be judged. I get it... I really do... but I won't hide my feelings. I love fanfiction--always have and always will.

I got introduced to fic at around 14-years-old, back in the late '90s, when boy bands were popular. I wrote a short story titled 'Crypt Keeper' that was a crossover between Tales from the Crypt and the band Nsync (I know, I know, 'real-person fic'... even more controversial. But I was 14, so cut me some slack). It was a horror story mixed with a little humor that won a fic contest (pretty sure I got a t-shirt and a CD out of the deal). After that, there was no turning back for me... I found somewhere where I could interact with people who enjoyed the same things I did while doing the thing I loved most: writing. What's better than that? And the talent in the fic communities is truly amazing. Some of my favorite "authors" have never published a book (and many never will).

I won't get into any of the controversy surrounding fic, because it's been analyzed by many people on many blogs and it never gets anyone anywhere... we all walk away feeling the same as before... but I will say I understand both sides. Pouring blood, sweat, and tears into words, spending countless hours working on stories, makes people protective. I'd never begrudge anti-fic'ers... we're all entitled to our own opinions... but I personally fall on the side that loves fanfiction--writing and reading.

I'll stop babbling now, but I just wanted to share some of my favorites:

 Dusty by YellowBella (Twilight)
She loves him. He loves her crazy. She's a hopeless romantic. He's just hopeless. She's afraid to let go. He won't let her. A story about a silly girl in love with a foolish boy. Here, forever is a lie. TeamBella23 - the realist and YellowGlue - the poet

 These Violent Delights by Magnolia822 (Twilight/Harry Potter)
Draco Malfoy appears in the midst of Edward Cullen's self-imposed exile and turns his world upside down. Both of them have dangerous secrets and everything to lose. HP/Twi Crossover, M for mature content, SLASH

Highway to Hell by BellasExecutinor (Twilight/Supernatural)
Lesson one: Family is everything. Lesson two: Never leave your gun in the car. Lesson three: Sometimes lesson two is the more important one to remember.

Collab relay-fic by DiamondHeart78 and primarycolors. Bella sees him every day but has a hard time gathering up the nerve to make a move. Every delivery is a special delivery. UPSward/Gamerward! E/B AH Rated M for Bella checkin' out Edward's package.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

E stands for Editing

Posted by JM Darhower Wednesday, May 02, 2012, under | 10 comments

AKA I couldn't think of another 'E' word

Editing. Revising. Rewriting... these, my friends, are the dirtiest of dirty words.

I used to love 'editing'. I think some of my best lines and banter came about during the editing process. I'd be reading through a chapter and something would just hit me, and I'd end up adding an entire extra scene. And that's part of the problem... during editing, I'd somehow gain words instead of losing them.

We all know I'm wordy. There's no doubt about it. I can easily crank out hundreds of thousands of words, but taking those words and condensing and narrowing them down to be clear and concise is a struggle for me. I grow attached to every single syllable. And that's why, until recently, I guess I never seriously 'edited'.

Enter: Sempre. Taking a million words worth of material and completely rewriting the plot into a small fraction of that was a big feat for me, but I learned a lot during the process. I learned that adverbs are usually evil. I learned that dialogue tags are usually unnecessary. I learned that a lot of adjectives are useless. And I learned that I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever write another first person story with alternating point of views (holy repetition, batman!)

I'm writing a sequel to Sempre right now, which means a lot more editing in my future... real editing, where I have to make srs bsns decisions about what to cut and where to condense and if a scene is REALLY necessary (*struggles to accept it's not ALL necessary*).

Editing. Revising. Rewriting... I hate those fucking words.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

D stands for Donate

Posted by JM Darhower Tuesday, April 17, 2012, under | No comments

AKA some of my favorite charities

One of my most cherished memories is after I completed my story, when there was an outpouring of people who contacted me about donating to charity to say thanks. Quite a few did just that, and I still have the emails (printed out and in a binder) from the charities about the donations. To know that I touched people so much, that I inspired them to donate their time or money, is a feeling unlike any other. Reviews are awesome. Having people enjoy your work is amazing. But opening eyes and helping to save lives? There are no words for how that feels.

People ask me often what my favorite charity is, and it's hard for me to choose... Sure, I have a soft spot for Love146 (I've personally been donating to them recently), but there are so many others that do spectacular things. So here's a list of some of my favorites... please consider donating to the cause. It doesn't have to be money... just educating yourself, sharing the links with others and spreading knowledge helps saves lives.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

C stands for Corrado

Posted by JM Darhower Thursday, April 12, 2012, under | 6 comments

AKA what else could C possibly stand for?

 Raoul Bova... who I envision when writing Corrado

Corrado Moretti, fictional hitman for Cosa Nostra. He's without a doubt one of my favorite characters to write. I could rattle on all day and night about why, analyzing him to death, but it would be senseless.

Instead, I'll share a piece I wrote, an outtake of Corrado. It pre-dates Sempre... Corrado just turned 18.


Winter had come early to Chicago. A frosty wind whipped through the neighborhood, violently shaking the tall maple trees that surrounded the brick mansion on Felton Drive. Thick wet flakes were starting to fall from the sky, sporadically sticking wherever they landed, while a thin layer of ice coated everything around. It was slick and glistening, like a fresh top coat of paint.

Antonio DeMarco, the Don of the Chicago syndicate of Cosa Nostra, stood on his back deck, surrounded by some of the most dangerous men in the country. Salvatore Capozzi, the underboss of the organization, stood statuesque on Antonio’s right. He was hefty with a high-pitched voice, like an Italian Porky Pig without the incessant stutter. On Antonio’s left was Sonny Evola, his consigliere. Sonny was tall, six-and-a-half feet, but walked slumped over because of scoliosis. Also present were the organization’s highest producing Capos, each one steadfast in their dedication to la famiglia—Carlo Fatico, Vito Moretti, and Luigi Capozzi.

They were hardcore, sometimes so much so that they caused Antonio’s hair to stand on end in warning. He’d never admit it, nor would he show his fear, but he knew each one was capable of very horrifying things.

They’d brought along some of their strongest soldiers at his request, some of the most callous men in the city, but Antonio didn’t care to know their names. Chances were they wouldn’t last long enough for him to have reason to learn them. Some of them were peculiar, men in other circumstances he’d never want within a hundred feet of the home, and a few were uglier than the syphilis-ridden addicts on the south side, but Antonio had faith in their abilities to do what needed to be done. The men in front of him had yet to let him down, and he was counting on them now more than ever.

It was a matter of life or death… his life or death, specifically.

“What we gon’ do, Boss?” Luigi asked. “This is gettin’ out of control.”

“I know it is,” Antonio said. “Why do you think I called you here? It needs handled. Now.”

“I’ll do it,” someone chimed in from the center of the crowd, the voice self-assured. “Whatever it is. Let me do it.”

Antonio looked at the man who spoke. He was built like a linebacker with a cocky smirk and piercing eyes. Blue, not brown. His wife, Gia, told him never to trust a man with blue eyes—they’re the first to curse you while you sleep. While he knew most people thought she was crazy with her superstitions, his wife’s warnings had never steered him wrong before.

He scanned the others, trying to gauge the best way to go about it. He could send the whole group and maybe half of them would come back, or he could send two or three and hope for the best. If he sent just the soldiers, it wouldn’t be a big loss if none survived, but the others would certainly be a pity to lose. He’d already lost enough over this. He needed it settled with as little damage as possible.

Antonio’s gaze shifted from man-to-man, surveying and calculating, when he came upon the young guy standing off by himself in the back.  He was clean-shaven and baby-faced, the fluffy white snowflakes sticking to the curls of his dark hair. He stood silently, his gloved hands clutching his black coat tightly around him. His teeth were chattering as a shiver ripped through him. He seemed disinterested in what was going on, impatiently rocking on his heels like he had something better to do. Who the hell does this fool think he is?

“Are you cold?” Antonio asked him, annoyed he seemed to be barely paying attention. His life was on the line, and the kid had the audacity to look fuckin’ bored stiff.

“No, sir.”

“Really?” Antonio asked, raising an eyebrow. “You shivered.”


 “Your teeth were chattering.”


Antonio’s eyes narrowed at the detached tone in his voice. Was the kid lying or intentionally being sarcastic? Either way, it didn’t sit well with him. Antonio wasn't easily impressed, nor did he care for many people, and he made it no secret to them how he felt. If someone wanted his approval, they had to do something drastic to earn it. They had to prove themselves to him. They had to show themselves worthy of his time and attention.

And disrupting a Cosa Nostra meeting with a flippant attitude and chattering teeth certainly wasn't the way to do that.

“Since you seem to be so eager, I have a job for you,” Antonio said, deciding to teach the boy a lesson. You don’t give a DeMarco man attitude and not expect him to give it right back. “Do you know who Luca Esponzio is?"

There was a sharp intake of breath from the men surrounding them. Everyone in the godforsaken country knew the name Luca Esponzio. The FBI had him linked to no less than fourteen ghastly deaths. He’d really slaughtered damn near a hundred men, most at the order of Antonio himself, but those bodies had never been recovered. Luca had a knack for disintegrating the evidence in barrels of acid before flushing it all away into the city’s sewer system.

He’d been Cosa Nostra’s most reliable hitman until recently, but he was gunning for Antonio now and they all knew it. They all knew he wanted the Don dead.

“Yes, I’ve heard of him,” the kid said. “The murderer.”

“Right,” Antonio said, glancing around at the others again. He could see the fear in most of their eyes—even the cocky blue-eyed bastard that was so eager to take the job just moments before looked terrified. It was so subtle Antonio wouldn’t catch it if he weren’t trained to, but he detected none in the young guy’s. His expression was completely vacant as if he were just discussing the weather.

Yeah, the snow’s fuckin’ falling, and I have no problem visiting a paranoid serial killer for you, Boss. Hey, say, you think it’ll snow tomorrow, too?

Antonio shook his head. Crazy bastards. “You see, he’s being a thorn in my side,” he continued, “and I need it removed right away. You get what I’m saying?”

The kid nodded. “You want him taken care of.”

“Exactly. You think you can do that for me? You think you can get rid of my little problem?”

Antonio waited for him to say no. He waited for the spark of fear, waited for the backtracking and excuses he was used to hearing when he brought up a tough job that could easily land you in a body bag, but none of it came. The boy simply remained stoic as he nodded once. “Yes, sir.”

Antonio dismissed him with the casual wave of a hand. “Do it, then.”

“How will you know I did it?”

The question threw Antonio off. Why would he fuckin’ care as long as the guy was dead? “Uh, he wears a ring, left middle finger. It’s covered in diamonds, a big L in the center of it. Bring it to me.”

The boy disappeared into the night without another word. The Don watched him go, believing he’d never see the kid again. He hadn’t earned his button, he hadn’t made his bones. He was no match against the most prolific killer in the country. He’d be dead before he even knew what hit him.

Stupid Young Turk. He’d just gone on a suicide mission.

Shaking his head, the Don turned back to the others. He didn’t care what happened to that boy, but he cared what happened to himself. He still had a situation that needed resolved. “I need the Chinatown and Elmwood crews to try to hit Luca at his house. Melrose Park and Grand Avenue crews can try to take him by the docks where he roams. No excuses. I need it done—no if, ands, or buts. If he’s still alive at the end of the weekend, I’ll fuckin’ kill you all myself.”

No one objected. Antonio turned around and went back inside his house while the men wandered off down Felton Drive, a few of them certainly heading straight to their death. It was the third time Antonio had sent a team after Luca, and none of the previous ones had been heard from again. They were probably deep within the sewer system or being eaten by wildlife in the woods somewhere.

The night in the DeMarco house passed in its usual tedious fashion. Antonio had dinner with his family--wife Gia and children Celia and Vincenzo. Celia was the apple of his eye, his beautiful baby girl that had grown and flourished into a young woman. She was nearing her eighteenth birthday, and although she’d soon be legally an adult, Antonio was nowhere near ready to let her out of his grasp. He was protective and guarded her like she was the crown jewels. No one touched his baby girl. No one came near her without his approval. If someone tried, he’d personally saw off their balls with a dull pocket knife.

His relationship with his son was different. Vincenzo, going on fifteen, had a stubbornness and rebellion streak that rubbed Antonio the wrong way. If he told the boy to go left, he’d fight with everything in him to go right. He was a hothead, and Antonio worried about his safety. The DeMarco name naturally came with a certain amount of attention, and adding more to it with childish, dangerous antics wasn’t wise for anyone… especially the boss’s son. He was trying to toughen the kid up and set him on the path to take over the family dynasty once he was gone, but it wasn’t easy. Vincenzo despised Antonio’s lifestyle. Would rather feed the fuckin’ poor than feed himself, the selfless little shit.

A day passed with no word, and then two. Antonio grew more and more on edge, imagining his whole organization dismembered at the hands of a psychopath determined to bring him down. They’d just vanish into thin air, never to be seen again, and Antonio would be next.

But not just him. No. Luca would take out his whole family in front of him, rape his wife and behead his kids. No thirst is as potent as the thirst for revenge, and Luca was fuckin’ thirsty. There was no doubt about that. He wanted blood.

It was the evening of the third day, the weekend coming to a close, and Antonio sat in his office on the first floor of his house, attempting to count money from the previous week’s takes. His eyes kept drifting from the stacks of cash to the clock on the wall, then down to the bulky gray beeper sitting on his desk. His Capos knew how these things went… once it was handled it, once the mark was dead, they’d page him the number of a payphone.  He’d then go out and walk around the block to the 24-hour market on the corner and use one of their phones to place a call.

No beep came. Nothing. No word at all.

He counted and recounted, trying to distract himself, but continually lost his place and had to start over. It was well after midnight when he’d reached the end of his patience, unable to focus any longer. He shoved the cash aside and leaned back in the chair, rubbing his tired eyes.

Antonio didn’t see or hear anything, but he could suddenly sense the change in the air. A feeling wafted across his skin, a chill creeping through him. He knew it then as his hair stood on end… he wasn’t alone.

His eyes snapped open, and he instantly reached into his desk drawer. He pulled out the .22 with ferocious speed, aiming it directly at the person stepping into the doorway.

Antonio’s heart beat frantically, adrenaline scorching his veins. He’d expected to see Luca, expected it to be the end, but instead he stared down a faintly familiar baby-faced kid. The boy stood calmly, his stance once again nonchalant. No fear, no sense of urgency. It was like he was there to just fuckin’ chit-chat.

The fact that he was still alive startled Antonio.

“How’d you get in here?” the Boss asked, something feeling off. Was he working with the enemy? Was that how he’d survived? Was he a fuckin’ plant? A rat? Antonio nearly pulled the trigger at the thought alone.

“Your son let me in,” the boy said. “He told me where to find you.”

Antonio cursed under his breath. How many times had he told Vincenzo never to let people into the house? You couldn’t trust anyone, no matter who they were. Sometimes he wondered if his son did it on purpose, if Vincenzo was trying to get them all killed.

“What are you doing here?” Antonio spat, losing his temper. “You had an order! Did you think I was fuckin’ around?”

The boy said nothing as he slowly reached into his coat. Antonio watched apprehensively, his finger still on the trigger of his gun. The fact that he’d snuck up on him was unnerving. No one had ever done it before. Antonio could sense people a mile away.

The boy pulled something out of his pocket, concealing it in the palm of his hand as he took two steps forward. Antonio kept the gun trained on him as the boy placed something on the desk in front of him before taking those same two steps back. It was calculated, careful, but he still sensed no fear at all from him.

Glancing down, Antonio balked and nearly dropped his gun. A human finger lay in front of him, bloody and still fresh, with a familiar ring attached to it. Antonio stared at the ‘L’ on the ring, absolutely dumbfounded. The kid had done it. He’d brought him Luca’s ring.

He hadn’t expected the fuckin’ finger to still be attached to it, though.

“How…?” Antonio started, trying to get his thoughts in order as he looked back up at the kid. “You? How the hell did you do it?”

He shrugged. Nonchalant. Flippant. “I watched him for two days, studied him, until I could predict his next move. Then I just stayed one step ahead of him. Simple as that.”

The boy turned to leave. Antonio was so stunned that he didn’t even reprimand him for not waiting to be dismissed. He made it to the doorway when Antonio cleared his throat. “Hey, kid.”

He turned back around. “Yes?”

“What’s your name?” Antonio asked, breaking his own rule. Never learn their names, because they won’t be around for long. But this one was different. Antonio knew it.

“Corrado,” he replied. “Corrado Moretti.”

Vito’s son, he realized. Antonio had heard about him. He’d moved to Chicago just a few weeks ago.  “Nice job, Corrado.”

Corrado shook his head. “A job is a job, sir. If you’re doing it right, there’s nothing nice about it.”

He walked away, not awaiting a response from the Boss. Antonio’s eyes shifted from the now vacant doorway back to the bloody finger, a chill shooting down his spine as the hair on the back of his neck stood up.

Corrado Moretti—a name Antonio was certain would be heard time and again.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

B stands for Books

Posted by JM Darhower Tuesday, April 10, 2012, under | 6 comments

AKA the shit I like to read

It's no secret that I *love* books. They're my passion. I spend countless hours every month scouring stores and blowing money on books I don't need. I have way too many to count, but I just can't seem to stop. If I find a book I like, I have to buy it. No if, ands, or buts about it.

 Having said that, I have to make a confession: I don't do a hell of a lot of reading. Okay, okay, I know... that's fucking ridiculous. Stephen King once said, "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." And I totally agree--to an extent--which is why I start every book I buy... I just rarely finish one. There are a few reasons, usually because I either get annoyed by something going on or I stop at a place and feel 'complete' and I'm not compelled to go on, but it's true.

I also judge a book by its cover. I think we all do, whether we admit it or not. I can't help it. If I see a book with a gorgeous cover, I absolutely have to have it on my shelf. My favorite covers? The MATCHED series by Ally Condie.

Anyway, yeah, so while I'm a chronic flouncer, there are some books that I couldn't get enough of... books that I devoured in one sitting, books I still can't stop thinking about, books I could read again and again. Here's a list of a few of them ;)

1. The Harry Potter books. I think they go without saying. If you haven't read them, I'm afraid we can't be friends. Get on that shit.
2. Twilight saga. Okay, okay... the writing itself isn't the best, and I'm still trying to come to a point where I can accept that we weren't getting PUNK'D with the last book, but they remain near the top of my list.
3. The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I know, it's a huge undertaking, but totally worth it to read all 7 books (8, if you count the one coming out this month). The ending is one of the best in history, IMO.
4. The Demonica series by Larissa Ione. I could never get past the first BDB book, but these I can't get enough of. Sex demons with a hint of humor minus the shit like "blooming cores"... what more could you need?
5. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. I was obsessed with the Japanese culture for months afterward.
6. Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. I know, I know... not everyone's cup of tea. It's long and educational, focusing on the history of philosophy (I actually read it for a history class), but it remains one of my favorite books. Pretty mind-blowing.
7. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. I had to stop a few times while reading and digest lines because they were so damn beautiful. It's just the first in a series. I cannot wait for the others.
8. Forbidden by Tabitha Sazuma. I know people shy away from this because of the subject matter, it's controversial with the incest theme, but this book absolutely blew me away. I've never cried so hard reading a book before... someday I want to meet the author and thank her for reminding me that the world isn't always so black and white.
9. The Godfather series (basically every book Mario Puzo ever wrote). Come one, are you even surprised? His words are golden.  I also admittedly like Mark Winegardner's "Godfather's Revenge" and "Godfather Returns" (in case you don't know, Winegardner essentially 'fanficed' the Godfather and made a best seller).
10. Room by Emma Donoghue. I know so many people hate this book because it's written from the POV of a child, but I'm still amazed and affected by it a year after reading.

So there you go... there are dozens more that I could talk about, but I'll stop at ten. If you haven't read them, get on that shit. You'll thank me later (or else hate me, whatever lol)

Monday, April 9, 2012

A stands for Alphabet

Posted by JM Darhower Monday, April 09, 2012, under | 8 comments

AKA I'm going to blog the fucking alphabet

Okay, so, my blog has been sitting here unused for like a year, and I feel kinda lame about that. I've tried to think of something interesting to blog about, something worthwhile, but I've been coming up blank. Frankly, I think I'm boring, but whatever. It's my blog, so who gives a shit if I bore myself, right? RIGHT? *waits for the world to agree*

So I'm just going to blog the alphabet. I have no idea what the rest of the entries will look like, but expect 25 more blogs about nonsense, with too many curse words and photos that have absolutely nothing to do with what I'm writing about. Like this:

(I started dieting... again... and I would probably cut a bitch for some unhealthy food right now)

and this:

(The people on Twitter alerted me that it's her birthday, so a Kristen GIF seemed appropriate)

So, yeah. A stands for Alphabet... bored yet?