Truth is Stranger than Fiction: The Talking ATM

No one can be trapped in an ATM, can they? (Image source: Pixabay)

No one can be trapped in an ATM, can they? (Image source: Pixabay)

When you write books, and weird stuff happens, people will sometimes say, this is too much. I can’t suspend my disbelief. Generally, as writers, we don’t want this to happen.

Oddly enough, the stuff that’s the weirdest, the stuff people call you out on, is often the stuff that actually happened and you thought would be fun to include in a fictional setting.

So, I thought I’d occasionally share an article where the truth sounds like fiction no one would believe. First up is the man trapped inside an ATM. Yes, ladies and gents, people trying to get money out of the ATM heard a faint voice begging for help, and got slipped a note saying, Help Me, please. I’m trapped. Naturally, assuming they were on Candid Camera or some type of show, they ignored it. Luckily, one person didn’t and our erstwhile ATM repairman (locked in while changing a lock), was rescued. You can read the full story in the Miami Herald.

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What good stories and good circuses have in common

Last weekend, I attended the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival, which focused on the ways of the people in circuses. It was very cool and I learned a lot.

One of the cool things was they set up a big top circus tent and had hour-long circus performances. The one that we saw was excellent. As I thought about it, the more I thought about how much a good circus was like a good book.

It started off really well, with a dazzling act involving a man twirling flames.  He was doing a traditional Samoan dance and dressed accordingly, twirling batons lit with flames. At certain points, he would transfer the flames to his body and then back to his baton. It was just amazing. The second act was also amazing. Not as fiery, but very cool. Two contortionists performing on the lyra (a contraption that looks like a hula hoop, but is sturdier and dangles several feet above the air from a cord). These ladies Luna & Storm were amazing. I couldn’t wait for the next act. Oddly enough, the next two acts were just OK. Not awful, but the pace slowed a bit, and I was getting a little restless. Well, the final act. That was wow. That was showstopper. That was everything good about storytelling and circus combined.

Why? Because it was the ultimate in storytelling and showmanship. It was a smaller than normal circus arena, because it had been erected temporarily on the National Mall. So there was only one ring, and in it wasn’t the most robust. The ringmaster starts by telling us this is a death-defying act, and it starts just by getting the apparatus in the ring. Immediately, I’m thinking, how hard can it be to put the apparatus in the ring, but then they wheel in this piece of equipment, a huge wheel at the bottom, a long shaft, and then another smaller pivot wheel. The thing, truly, barely fits in the arena. They’ve got tons of staff handling the thing, and trying to get it upright. Wires break loose and this pendulum wheel thing starts to rock back and forth on it’s own, and people are grabbing it to try to steady it, and looking relieved when they finally get hold of the thing, to get it in it’s right  position.

And this is all part of the showmanship, because as you watch all this, you’re thinking, that does look dangerous. Why would anyone get on this thing? The entire time they’re setting up the aparatus, they’re playing ominous creepy music, which just makes you think no one would be foolish enough to get on it.

Then, the gentleman who was going to get on this contraption comes out. And he’s, umm, not to be indelicate, but not a young flower. He’s at least 50, which is a great age to be athletic, and by no means old, but certainly an age that is mature enough and wise enough to not climb on this thing. Yet, this dude comes out with brass and swagger. He has an assistant who is a sturdy looking girl, and her job, appears to be to grab the thin wheel opposite the large wheel, and give it a big push so the thing spins around the pivot point.

The assistant stands beneath the wheel, as the daredevil stands inside it at the midpoint of its spin. Later he would stand atop the wheel as it spun around.

The assistant stands beneath the wheel, as the daredevil stands inside it at the midpoint of its spin. Later he would stand atop the wheel as it spun around.

Again, this is all great showmanship. He could’ve had your typical paper thin assistant, but that wasn’t the point. He needed someone who could deal with this enormous piece of machinery.

Next up, the guy gets on the inside of the metal mesh and the assitant sends the enitre thing spinning around. It was quite daring. Very cool. He’s running to keep from falling out of it, and you’re thinking, cool. But, next, the guy, goes on the outside of the metal ring, standing on top of it. She spins him around while he’s standing on top of the outside of this thing.  He was running to make sure he dind’t fall, and he always looked like he was one step from toppling to his death.

Then, the assistant throws him a jump rope. She spins him and he attempts to jump rope on top of the thing, while it’s spinning in a circle. I say attempts, because he stumbles on the rope, lurches forward and amazingly catches himself from falling but drops the jump rope. There were universal gasps. The assistant gasps, too. The man clutches his heart, and looks shaken. The wheel comes to a stop after a couple of spins. He looks down at the assistant. “Should I try it again?”

She nods.

Oh, yes, and that’s the best part of the showmanship. Someone in the crowd when we were leaving said the trip was staged. Whether it was or wasn’t. That’s story. Because there were calls of no, you don’t have to, and Yeah, try it again, you can do it. The audience was utterly invested in him. He had failed, but he was about to try it again. The assistant tossed him the rope. He caught it. He mouthed to himslef, I can do this. He jumped in place a moment, getting up his confidence. The assistant, looked up at him, asked if he was ready. He nodded. She gave the apparatus a push to send him spinning again. He was spinning and pulled out the jump rope. And this time, he did it. Three jumps over the rope on top of this wheel that was rotating 360 degrees and very fast.

Standing ovation. Huge cheers. He’d conquered the beast.

And it was an absolutely awesomely satisfying end to a show. I loved it.

It reminded me of the best elements of story telling.  Overall, like any good book, the circus started out strong, with really exciting, visually lovely acts that got me saying how glad I was I was there. And I admit, it flagged a little bit in the middle (and while this is not ideal in a book, the reader can be OK with it, if you’ve started out so strong), and then by the end, it was everything. The last act was the epitome of story. An underdog faces a huge obstacle, he succeeds at the simplest part, but as it gets harder, he flags (the jump rope). However, he doesn’t give up. He gives it another try. And this time we are so rooting for him. When he does it, when he executes it flawlessly, we give the standing ovation because we wanted it so bad for him.

Yes,  great storytelling at its best. And I was so glad I got to see it.

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Final Prophecy of Light book Available

Prophecy of Light - Fulfilled
Howdy folks. Hope everyone is enjoying their week so far. My kids are finally out of school and I’m trying to get a few things done with little people afoot daily. It’s not working so well. But, the little people and I are having fun, so it’s worthwhile, right?

Anyway, I just wanted to drop a quick note on the blog to let people know that the final book in the Prophecy of Light series is available. Fulfilled wraps up that four-book series. I sent a note to my newsletter subscribers last week, but got busy with some other things and forgot to alert the blog readers.

As such, the book was 99 cents for release week, and I was supposed to raise the price today. However, because I forgot to post it on the blog, I’ll leave the book 99 cents through the weekend, and up the price next Monday.

I hope everyone has had a great week so far. I’ll catch you all soon.

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Sci-Fi Anthology FREE today


The science fiction anthology I have a short story in is FREE today and tomorrow. If you like sci-fi and want to check out several authors with no risk, this is the anthology for you. Grab it today at Amazon.

Here’s the book’s description:

Lives submerged in cosmic war… civilizations standing on the brink of destruction…
Technologies that far surpass our own and ethereal beings of untold power…
Immerse yourself in The Expanding Universe.

Worlds collide as nineteen talented authors contribute their best short fiction to expand and explore the Science Fiction genre. Travel dystopian worlds and discover the possibilities that lie within the unknown. Experience the touch of metaphysical occurrences and enjoy the rush that comes from love deep enough to rattle the stars.

With contributions ranging from best-selling authors to debut works, you will fall in love with this exciting new anthology – The Expanding Universe!

Featuring a Foreword by Michael Anderle


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Cover for Fourth Prophecy of Light Book!

Prophecy of Light - FulfilledI just wanted to share with you the cover for the fourth and final book in the Prophecy of Light series.

Fulfilled will wrap up the adventures of Kady, the mage Zygam who’s been chasing her, and her friends Akilah, Jasper and Nigel.

I’ll be putting the book up for pre-order by the end of the month with a publication date in May.

I’ll post more details later, but that’s all I’ve got for now.  Have a great day the rest of the week.

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Lessons Remembered After Deaths

Image may contain: 9 people, people smiling, people standing, wedding and child

A family portrait ~ 1984. I’ve got the yellow flower in my hair and am seated in front of my grandmother, Rosetta. My aunt Tracy, who also passed, is two over, the first seated person on the right.

Oddly enough, I’ve thought a lot about death. The subject matter has haunted my books for whatever reason. In Scented, in particular, the main character, Bryan, has to deal with knowing people around him are about to die. And so to get into his head, and to really flesh out that story, I had to get used to thinking of death and what it means to varying people.

Though, I must admit, all my thoughts on death did not prepare me for March of this year, a month that saw my aunt (the youngest of my grandmother’s 10 children) die suddenly of a heart attack, followed only three weeks later by the death of my grandmother.  (We’ve decided that we Craytons will forevermore be wary of March, as my grandfather also died in March [back in 2012]. Not a good month for us.)

So, of course, issues of death, and of course, life, are heavily on my mind again. So I thought I’d share a few random thoughts on the subject.

Stop in and say hello. On many days, we’re busy and running around and we think we don’t have time to stop and say hello to a person we haven’t seen in a while. Yet, we really should. My dad, who was in town visiting his mother, stopped in to see his sister on Saturday, and she died that following Monday. And it was an unplanned visit, but it turned out to be so important in the end.

Fun Beyond Funerals. I actually had a wonderful time when I went to my grandmother’s funeral. Not because funerals are fun or because I was glad she was dead. But more because I got to see so many people I don’t normally see. Rarely are all my aunts and uncles in the same place, and they all know how to tell a story and how make you laugh. So, it was a real joy to spend time with them, as well as my own parents and siblings. But, it just reminded me that we should try to get together more often than at such somber occasions as funerals.

You only get one life. One of the folks who came to my grandmother’s funeral mentioned how he was retiring at 58, and another person there, said “Aren’t you worried about healthcare?” and his response was, “My mom died of pancreatic cancer, and she had stayed at her job longer than she wanted to because she wanted to save up and do all these things, and all she got to do was die. I promised her I wouldn’t do that.”  I found it somewhat refreshing. Of course, I’m not suggesting one throws out all practicality, but I do think sometimes in life we have to make choices that thrust us fully into living our lives in the moment, not putting off for some later time. I do think my grandmother was excellent at that. Though, with 10 kids, you had to be in the moment.  She was also really awesome in deciding what she wanted and going for it. She learned to drive at 50, and she loved to travel, going to Hong Kong and Jamaica. She was a lady who made her moments happen.

Well, that’s all for now. I’m off to write and enjoy life. I hope everyone has a great rest of this week.



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It’s Been Too Long


This post needed a picture and cherry blossoms are pretty. (Source: Pixabay)

I realized it’s been a while since I posted a blog. I thought I’d write a brief update of what’s been going on.

I had a wonderful time at the College Park Book Festival. I met some wonderful people, including a fellow whose children also attend my children’s school. So, a very small world.

I’ve also been trying to finish up the Prophecy of Light series. March was a challenging month for me personally, so I didn’t make as much progress on it was I would have liked, but I anticipate getting it out no later than May 15th. So, that’s the worst case scenario.

I also started working on a new dystopian novel, which I think will be interesting. I don’t want to say too much about it until I’ve gotten the ending figure out. It’s YA and I love my main character, Kenna, who has a lot of spirit. She’s a doer. I’m also liking Kenna’s friend Malina. I’ll share an excerpt from that novel in an upcoming newsletter.

That is about it for the moment. I hope everyone is having a good April and no one got duped too badly on April Fool’s Day. The one thing I like about Facebook nowadays is that they show you memories from previous years. Back when my son was five, he tried to trick me on April Fool’s Day by telling me my butt was on fire. I didn’t fall for it. 😉

Tata for now.

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College Park Book Festival Saturday!

The College Park Book Festival is tomorrow. The festival is a chance for people to meet authors who are local to the Washington, DC, area.

I’ll be there, as will several other authors. And I always have candy at my booth, hoping to lure unsuspecting readers and keep them with book talk.

Here’s an image of the flyer (as it looks good on a blog post):


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Thanks to the great reviewers out there!

Just a quick shout out to all of you who take time to write reviews of my books. I really adore you for sharing your thoughts. It really helps an author when someone says great things about their book. I’ve been sharing reviews on my Facebook page, just to give a shout out to those who have taken the time to leave them. But that’s a bit scattered and random. So, I thought today I’d just post some great reviews here in one spot that I’ve gotten over the past few weeks. If you haven’t checked out any of these books, be sure to.


Concealed_FC_BNG5 Stars – A Book Any Reader Would Enjoy “RJ Crayton writes an amazingly touching young adult book that takes in coming of age along with surviving in a strange, hostile world.”

5 Stars – Five Stars “Thoroughly enjoyed the story. Makes you want to keep reading.”

5 Stars – Good Read “The concept is good as well as the characters. I hope the secrets will come to light in the next book…exposed.”

5 Stars – Excellent Writing, I enjoyed this series of books “I really enjoyed this story a lot. The author had great timing, and knew how to keep the story moving to make you want to continue reading.”

4 Stars – Great start to a YA apocalyptic thriller! “Concealed keeps you guessing from the get go! The virus is a great twist on the genre. The story line pulls you in and whets your appetite!”

Life First

01_Life-First_darkjacketpants_reduced5 Stars  – Great Story “I thought this was a great start to a series…  I was anxious to see where the story went so got the other two in this trilogy as soon as I finished this one.”

5 Stars –  I enjoyed this Trilogy from start to finish “The characters were quite well developed by the end of the series, without any of their features feeling trite. I did not feel like this series was predictable, which made for a welcome adventure!”

5 Stars – Life First is a fast paced and exciting story. …  “A definite eye opener for what happens then a fanatical idea becomes the law of the land. I can’t wait to read Second Life”

4 Stars – Excellent – definitely worth reading!  “The setting of this story is terrifying – and especially so because it’s so darn believable. The author does an outstanding job of presenting her (VERY well thought out) dystopian future culture, where living organ donation is mandated by the state, and only the sociopathic criminal would dare to attempt to avoid their ‘obligation to society.'”

Prophecy of Light – Trapped

01prophecyoflighttrapped_2003005 Stars – A Delightful Story Appropriate for All Audiences “Her main characters live and breathe in color and movement, as does her scenery. This book contains no violence or sex. It’s a well-written, delightful story appropriate for all audiences.”

4 Stars – Magical story “This story is about the war between good and evil. This is the beginning of a story arc about a little girl and her magic.”

4 Stars – A great story with twists “A great story with twists, adventure and … wait for it … No Romance! As much as I love the romance in most stories, this one is actually better without it.”

Thanks again, to all the reviewers. I’ve so enjoyed reading the reviews!

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More than 130+ FREE books


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