Wednesday, September 17, 2014

ACX News and "The Missing Year" Update

Great news! Fatal Reaction  is now available in audiobook format. Narrated by the talented Julia Farmer, voice of The Walking Dead's "Sarita", the story has really come to life.

There are a couple of ways to get it, one being to buy it as a download and the other is to get it as your FREE book when signing up for an ACX trial membership (which may be cancelled at any time).

I promise, it's worth it. Julia and the Cerny/American Creative folks did an amazing job!

In other news, the opening chapter of Fatal Intention, the follow-up to Fatal Reaction is now out of my head. I had wanted to finish The Missing Year edits, but I missed Ana, Mike, Jared, and crew, and I was feeling a little destructive after a rough week. I figured what better way to cope than to light Dorian Carmichael's former office on fire? The question is, whose body did Anthony Dowling drag out of the flames? One chapter, one body. And so it begins.

The Missing Year is 1/3 edited. As the most uncooperative story I've ever written, it's taken me longer than expected to pound these words into shape. Someone once said that hard writing made for easy reading. If that's true, this story should be the easiest read ever. It is also my expectation to have it available to you by November, at the latest. My indirect romance has taken a turn for the mysterious! I'm starting to think I'm a mystery writer after all.

I will continue to work on Fatal Intention  in the meantime. I am planning a tentative April 2015 release for that one.

After that, who knows? I've been kicking around the Strandville dilemma, having found many new readers with the series. Folks are calling for MORE ZOMBIES! Maybe I'll write them. 

Too soon to know for sure.

In other Strandville news, Julia Farmer has signed on to narrate Cure. I am beyond pleased with what she and Cerny have done with my writing and am contracting with them almost exclusively to produce my work. Both Cure  and Afterbirth will be available by Christmas.

Listen to the Fatal Reaction sample if you're interested. You'll hear how multifaceted Julia is and I'm betting you'll be as drawn in as I was.

Until next time, I'm off to edit.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Life Experience: Euthanasia and the Loss of a Beloved Pet

Meet Ripley, my companion for the last decade who crossed the Rainbow Bridge early yesterday morning.

About a week earlier, a mysterious malady, which could have been anything from a tumor to spinal stenosis, caused my sweet boy to no longer be able to walk. His fighting spirit had him attempting a few steps to the food bowl, but that was because Ripley loved food. By the end of the week we had begun bringing food and water to his bed, which try as he might, he could not get out of.

We took him to the vet on a Tuesday, the day after the nefarious onset of symptoms. She examined him, immediately taking to spinal stenosis or ruptured disk as likely causes. On top of his current condition, Ripley had a lot of health problems. Throughout his life he and his sister (we have his littermate) suffered from seasonal allergies that left them balding, flaking, and with skin infections. We tried everything from elimination diets to medication, but several times a year, the environment got the best of them. We treated them with steroids and antibiotics and they rallied, but steroids caused them both to be overweight. Each of our pair have had several surgeries for growths, which turned out to be fatty cysts, but we had removed out of fear of something worse. Ripley had an ongoing lameness in his front leg, which, coupled with his sudden hind leg weakness, had him unable to move. It broke my heart that he would still perk up at food or the mention of Frisbee. It hurt worse that as whatever this was progressed, I couldn't even give him his daily brushing (he loved being brushed!) without causing him pain.

We had a very difficult decision to make: go down a diagnostic path, or relieve his suffering. We believed, as did the vet, that Ripley was not a candidate for neurosurgery. His weight, his limb weakness, and his age worked against him. We opted to try the only medical treatment for his condition and brought him home for six days on medication. It was clear by day three that he was only getting worse.

The hardest thing to do was to make that phone call scheduling his passing. Ripley was my first pet as an adult and though I knew this was inevitable, I pushed the thought of it off to a distant someday. That day came much sooner than expected. I suspect had he lived to fifteen I still wouldn't have been "ready". 

People say there is no comfort to be taken from strangers, and I learned this past week that is absolutely untrue. I spent my days and nights trying to figure out how to "fix" this, how to hold on to Ripley a bit longer. My fight or flight had me wanting to steal him away, but there's no cheating death. If there was, I'd have run with him. I cried all day and night, forsaking sleep because I was determined their had to be another way. I researched every possible medical alternative, settling on the fact that he wasn't strong enough for any of them. I belong to a Sheltie group on Facebook and posted my dilemma, hoping someone had an answer. What they had, instead, was understanding. This apparently isn't so uncommon with the breed and many had sent their beloved pups on for similar reasons. I grieved. I went through all the stages and back again, but came to the conclusion that euthanasia was the best gift I could give him.

We carried him outside to go to the bathroom, gave him a week of as many of his favorite things as he could handle, and in the end, we gave him peace at the expense of our grief. It seems to me the most unfair and unkind thing a human can do to prolong their pet's suffering for their own selfish reasons. As Ripley's passing was inevitable, so was the fact that I must accept it.

I sought information from those who have made this difficult decision. Was he going to feel anything? Would he be scared? How do I help his sister cope with the loss? How do I cope? The resounding answer was that a properly administered medical death was painless.

I wanted to believe that. Now that I've had my first experience with it, I am envious that his was such a peaceful passing. 

We entered the vet's office and were set up in a room with a towel on the examination table. There was also a box of tissues. The vet extended her condolences and we believed them. She was sincerely empathetic, having treated our dogs their whole lives. She explained what she was going to do each step of the way, giving us almost complete alone time with Ripley as the sedative she injected lulled him into a deep sleep. Ripley had never been a fan of the vet, but that this one time he didn't fight her told me he was ready. He put his head on the crook of my arm and "held on" to me in the way that he could. I hugged him, my husband worked in a way to hold his paw, and eventually, we knew he was completely unaware of what was happening. Ripley's tongue fell out of his mouth and he soaked both my arm and my husband's pant leg in drool. He breathed the deep, snoring breaths I listened to every day as I wrote with him sitting at my feet. I miss him so much with that space empty now. Dakota, his sister, isn't nearly as attached to me. When it was time, when the vet was sure he was completely sedated, she shaved a little patch of his hind leg and inserted the butterfly (IV). As she pushed the lethal pink injection into him, he had only one tiny second-long spasm and was gone in my arms.

Afterward, he had an emptiness about him that neither I nor my husband could bear. He was limp, lifeless, and without control of his posture, he looked tragically gone. My husband fetched Dakota from the truck (as we didn't want her in with us until the passing had happened) and we allowed her to say goodbye as seemed to be the recommendation of other multiple dog owners and even the veterinarian. She gave him a couple of sniffs and was ready to go. I held Ripley in a more natural posture so that he appeared sleeping, for Dakota's benefit and ours.

There will be so much to miss, but ten years of great memories to look back on once I'm through this mourning. You might wonder why I feel the need to share this, and I'll explain. Writing this is for the same reason I write everything: to share the human experience. Everyone does things differently and I don't feel there's a "right" way. The night before Ripley's appointment, I read everything I could find on what to expect and even watched a YouTube video that was tastefully done for those having never experienced this tragedy. I needed to be prepared. It's how I cope. I'm hoping someone in my situation (making this decision for the first time) might find comfort in reading this post. The procedure itself was painless, almost beautiful in its efficiency, leaving my loving boy to unknowingly pass in the arms of those who loved him. I'm envious of his peaceful end, left to wonder why we're more compassionate to our animals than other humans. 

To those who have been there before me, I'm sorry for your loss. To those who follow, take comfort in knowing your beloved pet will not suffer. To Ripley, my sweet boy, I hope to see you again one day, running like you did when you were a puppy. I love you, buddy. Always.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Life Imitating Art Imitating Life: On Writing from Experience


The fine details make our work as authors resonate and are key to creating an emotional connection with our readers. To that end, experience is the best teacher.

Sadly, September has never been a very good month for me. While writing Cure and Afterbirth, I was dealing with my grandfather's terminal illness. He passed away two years ago yesterday, but not a day goes by that I don't think of him. The pain I felt, the fear of cancer and of losing him, are infused in those two novels in a way that not only created a genuine plight for my sick character, Allison, but authentic feelings of helplessness for her husband, Zach, who went to all ends to save her life.

Again, I find myself in the unique situation of writing something that mirrors my life after the fact. Cure had already begun when my grandfather was diagnosed, just as The Missing Year was a completed rough draft before I faced similar circumstances to my main character, Lila.

Thirty-four-year-old Blake Wheeler was everything Lila had ever wanted. A rising-star surgeon with his whole life ahead of him, Blake gave Lila ten perfect years of marriage before plunging her into the hardest year of their lives.

When a late night shooting leaves Blake in a coma, Lila is faced with a difficult decision: continue life support or let him go. Choosing death has those around her questioning her motives. 

One year later, Lila remains unwilling to speak, in a private mental health facility where she refuses to move on.

Dr. Ross Reeves knows firsthand about loss, having spent the better part of five years burying himself in his work. Tasked with the challenge of breaking Lila's silence, Ross investigates her past and her husband's death, finding more than a botched convenience store robbery at the center of it. A series of mysterious coincidences has Ross wondering if Lila is acting out of grief ... or guilt.

While my decision isn't quite as dramatic, I have the misfortune of having to decide my beloved dog, Ripley's, fate. Pet owners and lovers will understand that these constant companions are as much people to us as well, people. I love my dog. I've cried for days straight, forsaking sleep, and doing what I can to give him the best final days I can before I send him over the Rainbow Bridge on Monday. I almost can't work on my revisions for The Missing Year because the emotions are too similar to what I'm going through. When someone's life is in your hands and you have to decide to keep them for selfish reasons or spare them suffering, there is, for me, only one right answer. 

I understand my characters on an even more intimate level that I'm comfortable with right now, and can't help feeling maybe I should write happier stories. Cure and Afterbirth have resonated with readers because the characters were written from the place of fear and sadness most don't care to explore. The Missing Year will undoubtedly reflect my current inner conflict, of all but being forced to choose a humane passing for my dear companion. It's not my style to shy away from opening a vein. This time will be no different.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

As Above, So Below: A Horror Film Review

"When a team of explorers ventures into the catacombs that lie beneath the streets of Paris, they uncover the dark secret that lies within this city of the dead." -IMDB

IMDB rating: 6.2
My rating: 7.5

It's called "The Philosopher's Stone". In alchemy, it's a stone known to transform base metals into gold. In lore, it has immense healing properties and could be the key to immortality. 

Scarlett's father died chasing the stone and she's carried the torch in his absence. A girl obsessed with mysticism, Scarlett risks life and limb to seek out the truth.

Laced with and occult history, As Above, So Below chronicles Scarlett's journey into an uncharted territory of the catacombs beneath Paris. Unfortunately, things get turned around in the dark depths and the only way out is through. Several members of Scarlett's team will have to face their personal demons to survive.

I went into this movie with an expectation of The Descent meets Event Horizon. The idea of travelling through Hell isn't a new one, but the way this movie was filmed makes it different and effective. The catacombs are a perfect backdrop and the story (unlike SO MANY HORROR FILMS) is smart.

There's some talk about the picture being "jumpy" and "motion sickness inspiring", but as someone who has had that problem (Rec being unwatchable), I didn't experience that at all with this one. There are a couple of "rough spots", but this movie would not have been the same without the handheld realism. Mounted cameras give some of the scenes the feeling that you, too, are trapped. When one of the group gets stuck while crawling through a cramped space full of bones, I literally held my breath. 

The ending is a "love it" or "hate it" one, I think, as the movie does sort of just end. I get the concept, but I'm not sure it was successful. That being said, it was one of my few complaints about the movie.

Overall, there are great scares, a good story, and decent acting. If you liked The Descent, you'll probably also like As Above, So Below. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Let's Be Cops: A Film Review

"Two struggling pals dress as police officers for a costume party and become neighborhood sensations. But when these newly-minted "heroes" get tangled in a real life web of mobsters and dirty detectives, they must put their fake badges on the line." -IMDB

IMDB rating: 6.8 stars
My rating: 6

Ryan and Justin are two roomates who haven't quite "made it" yet. One is a struggling actor whose claim to fame was a herpes commercial and the other is a video game designer who can't get his game developed.

When Ryan confuses a "masquerade" party for a "costume" party, the two use what's on hand to dress up: video game designer Justin's "Patrolman" props. The party is an embarrassment, but the aftermath has them feeling the pride of respect for the first time in their lives. People really believe they're cops.

Ryan takes it to the next level when he picks up a patrol car on Ebay and uses Kinkos to make decals that have it looking authentic. He's high on the rush of being a police officer, staking out criminals and solving crimes.

Justin reluctantly tags along. 

He and Ryan have fooled everyone, including other police men, but their hoax turns dangerous when the two offer to help Justin's would-be girlfriend with a problem. Her family restaurant is in trouble. Its location has it as the end stop of a secret tunnel for some mob types. The mob, of course, becomes the antagonists of the movie. 

Let's Be Cops is one of those unfortunate movies where all the funny parts are spoiled in the trailers. Some of them are still funny in context, but you know what's coming. The story has a good hook, but the execution is somewhat implausible and flawed. I'd have overlooked it if it were funnier, but sadly, it didn't live up to my expectations. The ending is telegraphed from the beginning. The characters aren't that compelling and had it not been for Ryan, the movie might have fallen completely flat.

I recommend this one for a DVD rental at best. It's just entertaining enough to keep you in the theater, but the overwhelming feeling afterward is "Meh". Could've been better. Could've been worse.

Friday, September 5, 2014


Fatal Reaction gets rave reviews from one of my favorite readers! Many thanks, Blaze, for your support over the years. It's amazing how books can tie people together.

Blaze McRob's Tales Of Horror: FATAL REACTION - BY BELINDA FRISCH - IS A MUST REA...: Anything Belinda Frisch writes is sure to knock your socks off! Fatal Reaction is her latest novel....

Monday, August 25, 2014

Early Review: "Funeral with a View"

When Ricky Franchitti, father and husband, finds himself on the receiving end of a beer truck, life takes a turn for the … afterlife.

Tethered to his body, Ricky is forced to relive the years up to his death, from first love with his wife, Cat, to the birth of their daughter. Told in retrospect, this modern take on It’s a Wonderful Life is as thought-provoking as it is entertaining. Many pop culture references will have fans of 80’s and 90’s comedies smiling. The banter between the main characters immediately endears them. Funeral with a View is a poignant look at Ricky’s journey to discover what “unfinished business” is keeping him from moving on.

To say more about the story would give away too much.

In the tradition of Matt Schiariti’s debut novel Ghosts of Demons Past, Funeral with a View has the wit and charm his readers have come to expect with newfound heart. Unconventionally romantic with its fair share of twists, this funeral will inspire more than tears. It’ll restore your faith in true love.

FOUR enthusiastic stars!

While this is an early review, Funeral with a View will be coming soon. Add it to your Goodreads TBR by clicking HERE.

"Better Left Buried" Excerpt (YA/NA Mystery)




Harmony rolled onto her side and draped her leg over Adam’s. Sweat plastered her long brown hair to her face as she turned her head back and forth against her pillow, trying to block out the heavy footfall she heard in her sleep. Work boots. She couldn’t see them, but the clip-clop sound was unmistakable. A porch swing creaked. A door slammed. The smell of smoke filled her nose, transporting her to the dark place that, a year earlier, had pushed her over the line toward suicide. Had her mother not found her, she would’ve been dead. Drifting further into the dream, the irony of the situation wasn’t lost on her.

“There’s my girl.” A gruff voice breaks through the haze and Harmony turns on her heel. A smiling man crushes out his cigarette in an ashtray on the arm of the porch swing and reaches for her. He has a gentle way about him, but he is blurry. Her memory does its best to recreate something long-forgotten, but she is seeing him as if looking through someone else’s much-too-strong prescription glasses.
She runs toward him, her pigtails catching the wind and flapping behind her. He feels like safety and she rushes up the few porch steps to fling herself at him. He catches her. He always catches her, and this time is no different. He pulls her close and blows raspberries on her cheek, the stale beer on his breath familiar and strangely comforting. She throws back her head and laughs, but her giggling is cut short by the storm clouds gathering in the sky above them. Before she can ask what’s happening, she is ripped from his arms and dragged through time to a ruined version of the same scene where the house is dark and the porch swing sways empty.
A raging bonfire dies to a shower of dancing embers that rains down on her like volcanic ash. The cold night air burns her throat and she coughs as the tendrils of smoke work their way into her lungs. She walks toward the boarded-up house wearing only a band tee and a pair of black underwear. She’s no longer a little girl. Dread tightens every muscle.
An icy breeze cuts through the thin cotton, making her shiver.
No one answers.
The front door is locked.
She wiggles the handle and pounds the heel of her hand against the jamb. The cold makes it hurt but she keeps at it, listening to the scuffle of feet inside.  There’s a struggle. Someone she loves is in trouble.  She runs around the side of the house, past the tire swing in the tree and the fire pit, to the back screen door and screams to be let in. She beats her fist against the wooden crossbeam, noticing red droplets leeching through the tiny gray squares.
A crimson slick coats her hand, bringing her back to the night she tried to end her life.
Panic sets in, the fear of being back on the bathroom floor of her mother’s shitty trailer, bleeding and in pain.
 “Help. Someone, please help me.”
She claws at the screen, her fingertips searching for a weak spot or tear, but it’s impenetrable. There is no help. Only when she works up the courage to wipe her forearms clean does she realize the blood isn’t hers.

“Harmony, wake up!” Adam’s voice drew her back. She inhaled like a drowning victim breaking water, grappling to get a hold on him. “It’s all right. I’ve got you.” He rocked her against his tattooed chest, stroking her hair. She could scarcely catch her breath. “It’s only a bad dream,” he whispered.
But even three-quarters asleep, she knew it was more than that.

-Copyright 2014 Belinda Frisch All Rights Reserved

Friday, August 22, 2014

"Fatal Reaction" Giveaway

For those of you who haven't heard the news, Fatal Reaction is on its way. My voice actress is the very talented Julia Farmer, who, among other things, provides the voice for "Sarita" in The Walking Dead video game. Check out her website (via the link). I was very fortunate that Cerny/American Creative took an interest in Fatal Reaction. Listening to it now, Julia nailed it!

In honor of a job well done, I offer up five signed copies of Fatal Reaction for U.S. residents only (sorry folks, international shipping is killer). Enter the rafflecopter below to win!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

In the Home Stretch with ACX

The audiobook version of "Fatal Reaction" is IN THE BAG! I have one task to complete tomorrow before I embark on the 8.5 hour "proof-listening" of said book, but I can't wait. Cerny has been impressive so far and I'm confident they've put together a top-notch recording. Once I approve the final files, ACX will review and Fatal Reaction will be available for purchase.

What this also means (and I'm being prophetic here) is that listening to Fatal Reaction is going to push me to start writing Fatal Intention, which I plan to release in spring 2015. There may be some serious outlining going on while I listen to this book come to life.

The Missing Year is on the road to recovery. I'm not hopeful that the intended October release date is going to hold up, but I am still shooting for it. Once I get through the tough revising, the editing/proofing should be relatively easy. We'll see what I can pull off. In the meantime, back at it. I have a lot on my plate this week between Matt Schiariti's Funeral with a View, the audiobook of Fatal Reaction,  and trying to work on The Missing Year.

I had better get back to it.

Until next time,