Articles By Jamie DeBree

A Really Good Day & Retirement Goals

I had some vacation time to either use or lose by the end of the month, so last Friday I played hooky from work. It was a fun and productive day, and I found myself wishing I could have more days like that, which is pretty odd for me with vacation days (I often end up wasting them).

I went to the archery range first, and…well, I didn’t do so well with the targets *and* ended up making my shoulder sore, which means my form was way, way off. I’m blaming it on the fact that it was morning, and I don’t generally do much of anything well in the mornings (aside from sleeping, anyway). It was still a lot of fun though, and nice not to have to worry too much about what time it was. In fact, I didn’t put my watch on once last Friday.

After that, I hit the tattoo shop (Ghosts of Grace Tattoo Collective), and while my tattoo artist wasn’t in yet, the new piercer was. I ordered some expensive but really high quality titanium bars for my industrial piercing (which will take four weeks to get in, so I’m glad I got them ordered now), which I’ve been wanting to do for awhile (I have rather small ears, so the shorter bars I need are hard to find online or off). Once those come in, Nicole can custom color them for me, which will be great fun, and I can get some matching sets of bars/hoops/curved bars for my various gauged piercings.

While I waited for Andrew to get in, I ran over to the grocery store to buy some frozen cut green beans for the dogs (I use them as treats, and we were out). It amused me to just buy the one bag of frozen veggies with cash. Apparently people don’t do that often, because the cashier looked at me a little strange. She could have asked, and I would have solved the mystery for her, but she didn’t, so she’ll just have to wonder…

Then back to the tattoo shop (we’re talking maybe three blocks away here, so not a long trip) to chat with Andrew and schedule my next session for late April. A reward for getting my taxes done (not that we ever get any money back to spend – we break even most years). He seemed excited to continue working up on my sort of Victorian skull cameo/lace arm, and I’m really excited to see what he comes up with for the upper half. It’s odd to think that in a few months, I’ll have a full tattoo sleeve (two to three more sessions). It’s an odd thing, to look at a blank piece of skin and know that soon, it will bear a piece of permanent artwork and will never be truly “bare” again. I absolutely want it, but it’s still sort of an odd thing to really wrap your brain around.

After that, I headed home, had lunch with my husband and walked the dogs. And then while the dogs napped, I sat down with my laptop in our nice quiet house (construction down the street notwithstanding), and worked on a short story until it was time to feed the dogs and make dinner. I really enjoyed writing that story. I was in the zone, and it was flowing, and while it needs some clean-up work, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. You can read the draft version (under  one of my pseudonyms) on the BSB blog, if you’d like.

It was a really good day.

This is something like what I imagine retirement to be like. Wake up slow, maybe run some errands (or work on some household stuff), have lunch, get out and walk the dogs, and then sit and write for a few hours before dinner. Glorious!

When I was in high school, I always wanted to be in college, and I took a lot of time for granted. When I got to college, I just wanted to get out because I was working three, sometimes four jobs to pay my way through and taking several classes every semester. I barely slept, ate on the run, and could not *wait* to have a normal, 9-5 job where I could just go home in the evenings and crash.

Now I have my 9-6 job, I have my evenings for dinner, hobbies, working out and even a little writing, but I’m greedy. I want more time to be “mine” again. And that won’t happen until I’ve paid my dues and finally reach the golden age of retirement.

It’s good to have long-term goals, don’t you think?

Until then, I’ll try to have as many of these “really good days” as possible. I mean, I like my job, don’t get me wrong. But finally being able to set my own schedule is my “Eleanor” (or unicorn, if you prefer).

Hand in hand with that, I need to remember that while having a stockpile of vacation days is good, it’s kind of like collecting nice dishes and then only using them on special occasions. If you have something, you may as well use and enjoy it, rather than waiting for some special event or date.

More random vacation days, perhaps?

Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 7

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….

Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 7

Not Dillon.

Shelley expelled the breath she’d taken in all at once, and she wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. She pulled the door open with a smile on her face just as Diane was turning away.

“I am awake – and that was so nice of you! You really didn’t have to go to the trouble, though. I could join you in the living room for tea, if you’ll have some too.” Shelley reached for the tray that the older woman held, wondering how she’d managed to carry it so far without dropping it.

Diane shook her head, a slight grin on her face. “Oh no. I have a cup in my room and a book waiting for me as well. So I’ll say goodnight, and sweet dreams.” She patted Shelley on the arm, and then made her way back down the hall with her careful, deliberate gait.

Shelley carried the tray to her bed and went back to shut the door, marveling at how competent her hostess was, even at her age. She wondered just how old Diane was, and made a mental note to ask Dillon the next time they were alone.

It was too cool to stay on top the covers, so she carefully moved the tray over and crawled between the sheets. The tea was a yellow-green color and smelled like mint, and there were two little lemon-yellow cookies sitting on the saucer. She smiled and shook her head. She’d never in her life met a woman who would serve a stranger tea and cookies before bed, much less make sure there was a book available to read. She honestly hadn’t thought people like that actually existed outside of books.

Her smile faded as she realized what kind of a role model Dillon had grown up with. And what he probably expected a woman to be like. Not that they had any kind of relationship of course, but…she was not the cook dinner every night and bake cookies on the weekend kind of girl. She could cook a little, of course, but she was much better with take-out menus. And baking…well, she hadn’t done that since she was a little girl.

Shelley fingered the quilt that Diane had loaned her. Handmade, of course. Her own mother hadn’t been crafty at all, and while Shelley always admired quilts and afghans and sweaters and rugs that people made, she’d never found herself with enough down time to even consider taking up any sort of hobby.

Leaning back against the simple, rustic wood headboard, she sipped her tea and wondered what it would have been like growing up in this environment, with this lifestyle. So different than the childhood she’d had in the city. Would she have been a good cook? Someone who could be fulfilled running the town post office, raising kids and making quilts?

She couldn’t imagine giving up her fast-paced life for such a small-town existence. Though the quiet of this little place was appealing, she had to admit. A little unsettling, perhaps, but definitely appealing.

It was at that very moment that a train rumbled by on the tracks that ran just outside the town. Her cup rattled against the saucer and she separated them, waiting for the bed to stop shimmying before she put them both back on the tray.

So much for peace and quiet.

She picked up the book and read the back, smiling as she realized it was a “sweet” romance from another era entirely by an author named Grace Livingston Hill. It was on the thinner side, and she leaned back and turned to the first page. One chapter, and then she’d go to sleep.

Maybe two.

The next thing she knew, someone was knocking on her door again, and sunlight was streaming in through a crack in the curtains.

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 8!

Like this post? Support your author (Amazon links):

Tempest | The Biker’s Wench (Fantasy Ranch Book 1) | MacKenzie Saves the World: A Comic Shop Romance

First Quarter Observations

Yes, this weekend I wrote & scheduled my first quarterly newsletter for BSB. I need to get my author newsletters going again too, but…babysteps. This year while I’ve been working to get back on track with the writing (with some success), I’ve also been working to get back on track with the business side of things. Stuff like updating the web site regularly, scheduling promotions, checking sales (my books actually sell better on iTunes than anywhere else – who knew? I do now!), keeping in touch with readers, posting writing samples on the site…and supposedly keeping my accounting up to date so I can get my taxes done (um…yeah. Babysteps, like I said.).

You know. Actually *running* the business, instead of just letting it limp along on its own until I need something from it. Novel (so to speak) idea, eh?

Time is an issue, as you’re aware, but the whole Friday late-night business hours thing is actually working really, really well. I kind of feel like Tim Ferriss (he’s the guy who wrote that 4-hour work week book, right?) would be proud. I start around 11pm, and work until around 3am, and that time is dedicated completely to taking care of business/BSB tasks. It’s not quite enough time, granted, because I still generally end up doing blog posts on Sunday night (just did that before hopping over here), and I don’t have a good workflow figured out yet, so I spend too much time deciding what to work on, instead of working. But that will come in time, and if I can eventually hook up with someone who’s marketing-graphics inclined, that will save me a bunch of time too (I currently make all of our marketing graphics – it’s very time-consuming). But…babysteps.

The cool thing is, stuff is getting done. Books are getting marketed (thanks to the marketing assistant working with me), updates are being done, things are moving forward.

And I’m writing regularly again too. Still need to work on priorities and time management, but Monday through Thursday nights, I am in my booth no later than 11pm, and working on a piece of fiction. I may get a few words in or a lot, but nearly always something. I will have at least one, and possibly two or three new books of my own to publish by the end of the year. That feels pretty darn good.

I’m also reading regularly again (at night, after I write and before sleep), and I’ve taken up archery (I did indeed buy a bow), and this past weekend we got a really good start at turning our backyard into a “lawn” again. It doesn’t sound like much, I know, but all of these things add up to good progress on the things that felt like they were just completely out of control and out of reach altogether just a few months ago (well, aside from the archery – that’s just a new hobby on a whim, but a good addition, methinks).

Things are good. Life is good. And I hope it will just keep the next curve ball to itself for a little while longer, because I’m really enjoying this little interlude from the conflict that tends to plague us all here and there.

Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 6

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….

Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 6

“You really don’t need to go to any trouble for me. I just appreciate you letting me stay.” Shelley followed her hostess down another narrow hall and took the quilt Diane handed her from a closet. It was thick and heavy, a patchwork of multi-colored squares sewn together and tied in the centers with yarn. How the woman even pulled it out of the closet would have been a mystery if Shelley hadn’t seen her take the roaster out of the oven earlier.

“My mother made that,” Diane said with a smile. She handed Dillon another quilt from the closet, and then motioned to a door on the right just a few steps past. “You can take that room, and Dillon will be right across the hall if you need anything. My room is just over there.” She pointed to a door they’d passed before reaching the closet. “Now, is there anything you want to get from your car? Dillon could fetch your bag, if you have one.”

Momentarily confused, Shelley blinked. Had she really forgotten that her car was still down the street at the gas station? It felt like a lifetime since she’d started walking through town, looking for signs of life. And a map. She’d been looking for a map. And now she had a human one. Standing right beside her, looking at her strangely, probably because she hadn’t answered Diane’s question yet.

“You really don’t have to,” she finally told Dillon. “I should bring my car over here anyway, so it’s ready to go in the morning. I can just walk down and get it.” She moved to go past him, but he stepped into her path, blocking the hall. He wasn’t that big, but he certainly had presence. She remembered how it had felt, that five seconds in his arms when he’d kept her from falling behind the bar…was it only twenty-four hours ago? Too soon to ask for a replay, she supposed.

“It’s really not a good idea for you to go out there in the dark. You could trip over something and get hurt, and that would make me look bad.” He leaned in, his cheek almost touching hers and his personal scent actually making her a bit light-headed. “Come on. Let me play hero for five minutes. The only person watching is my mom, and she loves it when I help a lady out. Makes her feel like she raised her son well.”

Considering how he affected her senses, Shelley could only think of two options at that exact moment. Choosing the safer one, she took a step back, pulled her keys out of her pocket and held them up between them for him to take.

“Well, I wouldn’t want to…uh…make you look bad,” she managed, the warmth of his fingers brushing hers as he took the keys sending yet another jolt of awareness skimming under her skin. Was he feeling this? Was she the only one apparently enthralled by this seemingly simple exchange?

He swallowed hard, and for a moment she thought he might pick the option she’d discarded and pull her in close for one of those amazing first kisses that really only happen in movies. Then he held his hand up and jingled her keys, looking just over Shelley’s shoulder.

At Diane, no doubt. For a few brief moments, Shelley had forgotten there was anyone else in the room. His mother! Thank goodness the hall was dim, so Diane couldn’t see the heat Shelley felt in her face.

“I’ll park your car out front. Which bag should I bring in and where is it?”

“Uh…the one right behind the driver’s seat, if you don’t mind. It’s…black. I think.” She frowned, looking away for a minute to regain focus because really…who could concentrate with this guy right in her field of vision? “Definitely black.”

He was grinning when she looked at him again. She looked at his mother, who also had a smile on her face.

“What? Did I say something weird?” Wouldn’t be the first time…

Diane patted her shoulder and stepped between them, pulling Shelley down the hall and out of the pheromone beam that emanated off Dillon. “Nothing at all, dear. Don’t you mind us. Let Dillon get your things and I’ll show you where the towels are so you can take a shower before bed if you’d like.”

Shelley made a point not to look back as she heard Dillon leave behind her. “Thank you – that sounds wonderful.”

Twenty minutes and a somewhat guilty conscience for the water usage later, she stood behind the bathroom door wrapped in a towel and wondering if it was safe to dash out and across the hall to her room. The thought of putting her clothes from the day back on was unappealing at best, but…what if Dillon saw her?

Because there’s no possible way he’s ever seen a woman in a towel before, right? Mentally rolling her eyes, she gathered up her clothes and made sure the towel was secure. She listened at the door for a few seconds, took a breath and opened it, then fast-walked across the hall to her temporary room. Once inside, she closed the door a tad bit harder than she should have.

Nothing happened. No one was in the hall, no one saw her, and she was alone in her room with the black bag she’d requested sitting on her bed next to the quilt Diane had loaned her.

It was kind of disappointing, really.

Opening her bag, she found the over-sized t-shirt she liked to sleep in, and pulled it on over her head. Setting the bag aside, she spread the quilt out over the bed, and drew back the covers just as there was a tentative knock at her door.

She froze, her heart beating a million times a minute. If that was him, and she opened the door, was there any hope of not throwing herself at him like a wanton of some sort? And since when had she become “that girl”, anyway? Good grief. Turning, she marched to the door and reached for the knob, taking a big breath and pasting a smile on her face.

“Shelley? Are you still awake dear? I brought you a book and a cup of tea.”

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 7!

Like this post? Support your author (Amazon links):

Tempest | The Biker’s Wench (Fantasy Ranch Book 1) | MacKenzie Saves the World: A Comic Shop Romance

Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 5

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….

Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 5

“Thank you, but I really can’t stay.” Shelley took a step toward the door. She wasn’t exactly sure why she shouldn’t stay, but it just didn’t feel right sharing a meal with this person she hardly knew. The mother of a guy she barely knew who’d invited her to his camp – which kind of made it even more…weird.

Then again, it also seemed impolite to decline. Small town people tended to get offended if you didn’t stay for supper. And she was hungry.

“Nonsense,” her would-be hostess said. “At least let me make you a sandwich for the trip. You’ve got a good drive ahead of you, and I can tell you from experience that the camp kitchen closes at six. I can also tell you that the guy who runs it is a scary fellow if he catches you raiding the food supplies after closing.”

“I take it you’ve had experience with that too.” Shelley laughed, moving back to the counter. “Maybe I will take you up on a plate. I’ve been eating junk food all day, and that roast smells divine. If you’re sure you’re up for company, that is. I don’t want to be a bother.” It didn’t seem polite to eat and run, especially given how difficult it clearly was for Mrs. Riley to get around. She checked her watch. Tabby and Mike should be at the camp by now – had probably been there for a few hours already. Hopefully everything was okay.

“I’m always up for company – we get so little way out here. Come around, dear – we’re not gonna eat standing up at the counter. And flip that closed sign on the door, will you? Then we’ll call the camp and make sure your friend is safe.”

Shelley flipped the sign over and locked the door, then went through the door at the end of the counter and followed her nose through a doorway near the back of the workroom, stepping into a warm, cozy living room with a galley kitchen at the far end where her hostess was opening the oven.

“Here Mrs. Riley. Let me help you with that. It looks heavy.” Dropping her purse on the couch, Shelley rushed over and grabbed a pair of potholders from a hook beside the stove.

The woman chuckled and shooed her off. “You can call me Diane. And I need to keep doing this for myself, or soon enough I won’t be able to. Gotta work these ol’ muscles to keep ‘em!”

Shelley smiled, trying not to worry too much as Diane lifted the roasting pot from the oven to the stove with little effort – no small feat with her back as hunched as it was.

“I see your point, but it’s okay to accept help sometimes. I’m Shelley, by the way. Shelley Franks.”

Diane closed the oven door and put the potholders aside. She wiped her hands on a towel and turned around with a smile.

“It’s nice to meet you, Shelley. Your parents were fans of the author, I take it?”

“Yes they were,” Shelley answered. “Not many people get the connection, but my mom loved reading Mary Shelley. And Frankenstein was my dad’s favorite. So when I was born, choosing a name was easy, or so my mom said.” She took the plate of steaming roast beef, vegetables and a baked potato gratefully. “Why did you make such a big meal for yourself? Isn’t that an awful lot of leftovers?”

“Of course!” Diane filled her own plate and joined Shelley at the good-sized table between the kitchen and living room. “That’s the whole point, dear. Some to share, some to save for another meal or three. If you’re going to go to the trouble of cooking when you live alone like I do, might as well make it worthwhile, I say.”

“Very smart. I should try that,” Shelley commented. “I’ve never liked to cook, so I do it as little as possible. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a home-cooked meal, so thank you.” She took a bite of roast and mashed potato, all too aware of Diane’s watchful gaze. Luckily it was good. Really, really good, and Shelley closed her eyes for a moment just to savor the flavor.

“Oh wow,” she said, opening her eyes to see a look of pleasure on her hostess’s face. “That is amazing! Where did you learn how to cook?”

Diane laughed. “Oh honey – when I was a girl, that was all we were allowed to do. Cook and clean and keep house. I learned from my mama and grandma just a few houses that-away.” She gestured in the direction of the gas station with one hand.

“Were you born here then? What was it like growing up in such a small town?” Shelley wasn’t sure why she was so fascinated with this woman’s life, but she was. Life out here in the foothills was so foreign to her. She’d driven through small towns before, but the thought that this woman had been living in this same small town all of her life was just…mind-boggling for some reason.

The bell on the front door rang, and Shelley jumped. “I know I locked that,” she said, just before a somewhat familiar voice called out from the front room.

“Mom! Did you see a short woman with long black hair come through town awhile back? Her cousin said she was coming out to the camp by herself and asked me…”

A man came through the living room and Shelley recognized him right away. His lips perked up in a grin when he saw her.

“…to find her. And I just did. I see you two have met.” He gave his mother a peck on the cheek and a squeeze around her shoulders before he got a plate and helped himself to dinner.

“Dillon!” Diane clasped her hand over her heart. “I’m so glad you’re here. We’d planned to call the camp and make sure Shelley’s cousin got there okay before she headed up there herself, but got a little sidetracked with dinner.”

“I guess we can assume the answer is yes,” Shelley said, returning his smile. His whole demeanor was different from what it had been at the bar – more relaxed and at ease. She wondered if it was his mom, or just the environment.

“I’m sorry they sent you to find me, though. I can’t be late, because I didn’t actually tell Tabitha what time I’d be there.”

Dillon shrugged, finishing the bite of food he’d been chewing. “They got to the camp pretty early today. Tabitha was just worried your car broke down or something. She wanted to call highway patrol, but I convinced her to let me drive down here and see if you’d made it this far, at least.”

Shelley rolled her eyes. “She can be rather dramatic at times. How’s she getting along with Mike?” Tabby wasn’t always the easiest person to deal with – she tended to be a steamroller and if you didn’t roll with her, you got rolled over.

Dillon picked up the handset of a phone hanging on the wall. It was one of the older landline styles, and there was even a rotary dial on the base.

“I think she’ll be fine once she knows you’re safe.” He dialed a number and waited. From across the table, Shelley could hear ringing on the other end of the line before a garbled male voice came on.

“Hey Mike,” Dillon said. “Yeah, she’s here. I found her with Mom, actually. Can you put—” Dillon yanked the phone away from his ear and winced. “You talk to her,” he said, passing the handset and its long cord across the table. “You might want ear plugs, though.”

Shelley grinned, holding the phone away from her ear as her cousin rambled on about how worried she’d been. Which they both knew wasn’t strictly true. She may have been somewhat concerned, sure. But Tabby was excellent at acting and she rarely missed an opportunity to make herself look good.

“Slow down, Tab. I’m fine, I just stopped to get my bearings and ended up running into Dillon’s mom. Totally random.”

“Everything happens for a reason, honey,” Dillon’s mom stage-whispered. Shelley smiled and nodded.

“Oh good. I was so worried,” Tabby said, her voice so low Shelley could barely hear. “When you didn’t show up, I thought maybe you weren’t coming…” A long, low rumble outside the post office provided the perfect ominous backdrop to her tone. Of course it would threaten to rain just when she was getting ready to leave.

“You worry too much,” Shelley said. “How’s the camp? Are you and Mike having fun?”

“Sort of.” Tabby sighed. “I mean, mostly. I’ve never actually talked to one guy for this long before. It’s weird. I might actually run out of things to say – and I never do that.”

“I really doubt you have to worry about that.” Shelley laughed as the thunder rolled again. It sounded closer. “Hey look – it’s thundering here, so I should let you go so we can get on the road, okay? But we can talk about it as soon as I—” Lightening cracked hard somewhere outside at the same time Shelley heard Tabby screech on the other end of the line. “Tabby? Tabitha – are you okay?”

Dillon took the phone from her and held it up to his ear. “Hello? Anyone there?” He hung it up and turned back to Shelley, his brow furrowed.

“I don’t like our odds of making it up that road tonight – especially if the camp lost power. That’s normally the second thing to go after the phones. Your friend will be fine with Mike tonight, but I think we should stay here in town. We can head up early tomorrow morning.”

Shelley nodded. “There’s no way to let Tabby know? She’ll be anxious enough with the storm – she hates them. But if I don’t show up, and she’s expecting us…”

“Mike will know I wouldn’t drive up in this. He’ll tell her not to look for us until morning.” He put a hand on Shelley’s shoulder and squeezed lightly, the warmth contagious. “She’ll be okay. Mike will take good care of her.”

“It’s settled then.” Diane got up from the table, a wide grin on her face. “I’ll get some heavier blankets out for you two. The spare rooms haven’t been heated in awhile, but that should keep you both warm until the registers catch up.”

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 6!

Like this post? Support your author (Amazon links):

Tempest | The Biker’s Wench (Fantasy Ranch Book 1) | MacKenzie Saves the World: A Comic Shop Romance

Post-Concert Late Night Musings

This will be quickish, because as the title says, it’s a late, post-concert (Adelita’s Way) Sunday night (nearly 1am), and this is the last thing I’m doing while drinking a cup of tea before bed.

It’s been a kind of chaotic/abnormal weekend, and I’m going to pay for it first thing tomorrow when I have to drag a laundry basket up from the basement so my husband has socks to wear to work. I still have another load of laundry in the washer that I’ll transfer to the dryer after work tomorrow night, and I need to take the garbage out too. The consequences of not getting household chores done over the weekend. *sigh*

I spent a good chunk of Saturday writing for the weekly BSB prompt story, and my little fairy tale turned out very well, methinks. Naturally, there are other things I should have been doing with that time (like the load of laundry I’ll have to dry tomorrow night), but it was fun to just sit and write most of the day.

Sunday I was just lazy…so I have no excuse. And we went to the concert tonight, which was okay, but the sound really wasn’t good. They really need to turn the volume down in smaller venues like the one we were at – it was so loud you can hear everything…including the feedback and monitor buzzing and all that, and it’s just a total assault on the ears so you can’t actually hear anything in the chaos. I’m glad we didn’t pay much for those tickets.

We did find a spot in the back to sit down briefly, and while people watching, I made a few observations:

  •  I still don’t have any clue why people want sparkly things on their butts. Nor do I think that would be comfortable to sit on.
  • Louis Vuitton looks awkward at a rock concert.
  • Youngsters don’t seem to care how the music sounds, as long as they can drink and dance
  • I’m not 20 anymore, and neither is my husband. We did okay, but between my still-kinked neck (pinched nerve) and his gout flare-up, we were quite the pair.

Now, it’s time to get some sleep…largely due to that last observation. You know. Adults, work, etc. Mundane, but pays the bills so I can do fun things like buy my first archery bow on Tuesday.

I hope your weekend was far more exciting (and less painful) than mine!

Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 4

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….

Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 4

Two hours later, Shelley tapped the location for ‘Rattlesnake Falls Lodge and Resort’ into the GPS in her car and watched the suggested route show up on the screen. Tabby gave her crap for not just using her cell phone like everyone else, but she liked the GPS unit. It was simple, didn’t drain her cell batteries, and it had been the last Christmas gift her dad had given her before he died. He’d loved to take road trips, and often told her she should get out more, so using the GPS on the rare occasions she went out of town made her feel like he was traveling with her.

After she checked the route for potential problems and road construction, she drove to the nearest convenience store to fill up the gas tank and stock up with a couple bottles of juice drinks and some trail mix packets. Cranking up the tunes and settling her sunglasses on the bridge of her nose, she merged onto the highway and headed for the hills.

Four hours later, she pulled into the tiniest, grungiest gas station she’d ever seen, cursing her GPS, lack of cell service and Tabby too, for not at least driving with her so they could share the pain of being hopelessly lost in rural Montana. A big Closed sign mocked her from the front door of the shop when she walked up, and so did the rack of Montana highway maps that sat near the lonely front counter. Why they were closed at four in the afternoon was anyone’s guess.

At least the pumps accepted credit cards, or she’d be lost and stranded with an empty tank.

Several small run-down houses dotted the landscape around the station – a town of sorts, though there hadn’t been a sign on the road. Hoping that it wasn’t completely abandoned, Shelley finished filling the gas tank and went across the road to knock on a door she wasn’t sure would hold up to the abuse. Something scuttled around inside, but no one answered. She tried another door, and a third before she finally noticed a house two buildings down from the gas station with a flag in the yard and a small, wood-burned sign that said “U.S. Postal Service” hanging by the door. There was a light on in the window, and Shelley hurried over and pulled the door open, thankful it was still unlocked.

The front counter was flanked on either side by a wall of mailboxes, and on the ceiling beam above the counter there was another painted sign that read, “US Postal Service, Rattlesnake Falls, MT.” Maybe she wasn’t as lost as she’d thought.

An elderly, hunched-over woman leaning heavily on a thick branch carved into a cane came out of a room in the back and ever-so-slowly moved toward the counter. Her gray hair was pinned in a loose bun on top of her head, but not a single strand seemed out of place.

“I was just getting supper on – don’t usually see anyone this late in the day,” she said, her voice surprisingly strong given her physical state. “You the one who bought the old Burnstead place? I suppose you’ll be wanting a room for the night if you did. Place is infested with all sorts of vermin, I hear. Maybe a ghost or two, too. My son wanted to buy it, but I told him not to bother. He’s got enough going on without a project like that to deal with.” She cackled, and Shelley had a hard time keeping a straight face because the sound was so very ‘quintessential witch’.

“No, I’m just passing through,” Shelley said with a smile. “I was wondering if you could give me some directions. The gas station is closed, and I’m afraid I got lost looking for a camp – The Rattlesnake Falls Lodge and Resort. Dillon Riley is one of the owners – do you know him?” Everyone tended to know everyone in these small communities, so she figured there was at least a chance.

“Well of course I do – Dillon is the son I talked out of buying the Burnstead place. I don’t know why he put such a hoity-toity name on that camp of his, but he claims it gets the city folk out and spendin’ money.” The old woman leaned heavily on the counter and looked Shelley up and down. “I suppose you’re one o’them, though, so I shouldn’t be spoutin’ off. That’s what Dillon always says.”

Shelley chuckled. Her dark jeans and tangerine fitted t-shirt did look at little too polished for the boondocks.

“I am from the city – Billings, to be exact. But I like to think I’m not too hoity-toity. Can you tell me how to find your son’s camp? Like I said, I’m a little lost.”

The woman looked out the window and frowned. “It’ll be gettin’ dark soon – sure you want to go driving out there so late? It’s still a good jaunt down the road, most of it gravel and some steep. Might be safer to stay here in town for the night.”

Considering what most of the buildings here in town looked like, Shelley figured she’d be camping either way.

“I really do need to get there tonight, if possible. A friend of mine is waiting – she drove up earlier with Dillon’s partner. So if you could just point me in the right direction…”

Shaking her head and clicking her tongue, the woman – Mrs. Riley, Shelley supposed – got a piece of paper from under the counter and held up a pen with a shaky hand.

“Follow the road through town past here and out about five miles. There’s a turn to the right – it’s just a gravel road, but you’ll see a big sign for the camp pointing up that road. Take that, and it’s about twenty miles back. There’s another big sign at the entrance, which will be on your left. You won’t see ‘nuthin else out there – can’t see the buildings or anything until you get back a ways on the property. Just keep goin’ until you see lights.” She drew a rudimentary map with the instructions on the paper, and slid it across the counter to Shelley.

“There ain’t no cell service out there, so if you get stuck, you’ll have ta walk either in or out, whichever is closer. So I hope you have good shoes and a coat. Follow the road and make noise so the bears don’t bother you.”

“Bears. Right. Are there a lot of them around?” Once again, Shelley was reminded of how long it had been since she left the city. Even longer since she’d been out in the wild. She glanced at the paper before slipping it in her purse.

“A few. Some black bears and a few grizzlies, though they tend to be better behaved in these parts than some farther north.” The woman smiled. “Don’t you worry, dear. There’s plenty of food this year, so unless you get between a mama and her cubs, they’re not gonna bother you.”

Shelley returned the smile, though she suspected the woman was just trying to make her feel better.

“I’d better get going, I guess. Thank you for all your help – I really appreciate it. I’ll let you get back to your dinner now.” She tried to ignore the smell of cooked beef wafting from somewhere in the back, but her stomach growled, traitor that it was.

“You should stay for dinner, dear. I’ve got more than I need, as usual. Let me just fix you up a plate.”

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 5!

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Mental Flotsam

Lots of things going on in my head lately – I’m still dealing with the mental “fallout” of that whole midlife crisis thing I’ve recently
crawled out of. I’m still not ready to do a full-blown blog on that, but I will say that it’s been a real roller coaster, and as enlightening and…liberating, I guess, as it’s been, I hope I don’t have to go through another one anytime soon. I go through self-assessment periods every decade or so, where I’m just not happy with…”whatever” in my life and need to make some adjustments, but this…this was different. This was more of a total re-examination of all the major life decisions I’ve ever made (and some of the minor ones too), which causes some major cognitive dissonance that has to be worked through before one can move forward. It’s unsettling and uncomfortable and now that I’m on the tail-end looking back, I can totally see how some people end up hitting the “reset” button completely during this time in life (which a rather large percentage of us go through whether we want to or not). Weird, wild, and wacky stuff.

In any case, there are other things on my mind these days too, including:

  • Archery – I *loved* my first time on the range last week, and will have to post more about it later. Suffice it to say, I liked it well enough that I’m going back to the shooting range this week, and hopefully once a week after that as well. I’m planning on buying a bow kit and arrows, and taking a few lessons. It’s been awhile since I’ve been that drawn to something out of the house!
  • Love Triangles – I was surfing TV channels Sunday night, and got sucked into an episode of “Victoria” on PBS Masterpiece Theater. Ended up watching two episodes, and the relationships therein really got me to thinking about love triangles in fiction and real life, and how there always is one, whether we’re aware or not. It’s fascinating and uncomfortable, and I’d like to explore that phenomenon more.
  • My neck – which is kinked up again. Stupid thing. Or stupid drivers who rear-ended me twice in as many years. I never had problems with my neck before those…
  • BSB Advertising/marketing, and how effective it is/isn’t. Also, getting the documents together for that to do my taxes. Ugh.
  • The ring in my rook piercing, which I want changed out for a bar that will be so much less of a pain to deal with, because it won’t stick out at all like the ring does.
  • The drones in Warhawk, the James Rollins book I’m reading. Yikes!
  • New crochet/knitting patterns I want to try out, now that I’ve finished the dog sweater I was working on.

Never a dull moment, eh?

What’s on your mind lately? Care to share?

Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 3

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….

Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 3

The next morning Shelley padded out to the kitchen in her robe with a smile on her face and a slight headache that she didn’t resent one bit. A hot bath, several glasses of wine and a romance novel with a hero that she’d imagined looked a lot like one Dillon Riley had kept her up far later than normal. It had totally been worth it though, for the dream she’d actually remembered when she woke up.

She was waiting by the coffee pot, mug in hand when the apartment door swung open and Tabby blew in like a breeze, looking far more rested than anyone who’d spent all night out on the town had a right to. Her hay-blond hair wasn’t even stringy, and Shelley resented that as she brushed one of her own dark and in-desperate-need-of-shampoo-locks out of her eyes.

“Pack your bags, Seashell! I got an invite from the hottest guy on the planet to visit his family’s camp, and there’s a rustic little cabin with our name on it waiting and reserved. You have the next two weeks off, right?” Tabby stopped in the hall and looked back at her and raised an eyebrow. “What are you waiting for? We need to pack!”

“Coffee.” Shelley held up her empty mug and chose to ignore the hated nickname for now. “You do know that ‘rustic’ means tiny and probably without heat, right?” The coffee pot finally spit the last bit of dark liquid into the carafe, and Shelley grabbed it, filling her mug. Tabby didn’t drink coffee. Probably because Tabby wasn’t entirely human.

Her cousin waved off her concerns with a flick of the wrist. “Whatever. It’s summer – we won’t freeze to death. And besides, we know there’s at least two hot guys up there to keep us warm by the big campfire at night too. Now get packed – that’s an order!” She winked and went down the hall, where Shelley heard her rummaging around in her room.

Against her better judgement, Shelley followed, mug in hand. “We don’t know anything,” she said, leaning on the door jamb of Tabby’s room. “Two hot guys, huh? Do you even know anything about these guys, aside from whatever they told you last night…or this morning? I mean, it could just be a ruse to lure us up into the woods and kill us. Or scam us out of all the money you like to make people think we have.”

Tabby stopped tossing things into a duffle bag and peered over her shoulder.

“You are seriously demented. I mean, how do you come up with these things? What if it’s just two guys who want to get to know us better and happen to own a guest camp up in the mountains? And the worst case scenario isn’t that we’ll die, but that it’ll rain the whole week, the guys will turn out to be jerks and we’ll come back and never see them again?”

Shelley shrugged. “Well, they want to get to know you, anyway. I’m just the wing-girl. Do you know anything at all about these guys? Where is this camp? What’s it called?”

Tabby pulled a card from the back pocket of her jeans and flipped it at Shelley. “I don’t remember – snake-something-or-other. I think you met one of the guys last night – he was your last speed-date, if I remember correctly. His partner was partying with me and said we should come up for the week.” She finished shoving what looked like random items of clothing into her bag and zipped the top. “So unless you’re sure the other guy is a serial killer, let’s go have some fun!”

“Rattlesnake Falls?” Shelley looked at the card that was almost identical to the one in her bag, this one with the name Mark Ellis on it. She wondered if Mark was as good looking as his partner. It was pretty safe to say he was probably more outgoing, since he’d been hanging out with Tabby’s crowd last night. She took another sip of coffee and handed the card back to Tabby.

“Well, I can’t let you go alone,” she said finally. “But you have to let me finish my coffee and get properly packed. A couple of hours, minimum.”

“But they’re leaving in forty-five minutes, and if we hurry, Mark said he’d drive us up there. Save some gas, save some wear-and-tear on the cars…it’s a no-brainer!”

Shelley shook her head. “No way. We are not going up into the mountains without our own way of leaving if we need to. That’s just stupid. And you’re right, I did meet Dillon last night, and he gave me instructions. So just let Mark know we’ll come up later today. Excitement is no reason for stupidity.”

Tabby rolled her eyes. “You’re worried about nothing, cuz. I tell you what – you bring the car later, and I’m going with Mark now. I trust him, and a long drive is a great way to get to know someone.” She held up a finger when Shelley tried to interrupt. “My life, my choice. Besides, he won’t dare do anything if he knows you’re following right behind us, right?” She grinned and slung the bag over her shoulder, pushing past Shelley into the hall and moving toward the door as Shelley followed.

“These are nice guys. Not everyone in the world is out to get us.Try to remember that, K?”

And just like that, she was out the door again. Shelley went back to the kitchen and refilled her mug, leaning against the counter as she sipped the hot elixir. What were the odds that out of all the guys in her entourage last night, Tabby would hook up with Dillon’s partner? And what the hell was she thinking, just running off on a road-trip like that with a guy she didn’t know?

Yawning wide, she set her mug down long enough to get a blueberry bagel out of a bag on the counter and took it, and the mug down the hall to her bedroom. She couldn’t let Tabby just disappear into the wild with some random guy, so she had no choice now but to go check out Dillon’s camp.

Maybe Tabitha was right. Maybe it would be fun.

This was definitely going to require more coffee. And a shower.

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 4!

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Archery & Eyestrain

Things have been a bit busy around here lately, what with getting a couple of new releases ready and promoted for BSB. Hence my missing last week’s normal discussion post here – I just sorta ran out of time. We have one more new release today (My buddy Carol’s new book – go check it out here!), but since today is also a federal holiday, I’m off work, which leaves a little more time for things like blog posts. And archery!

Yes, archery. I’m heading out to our local archery range late this afternoon to try my hand at a bow and arrow. From what I understand, they have simple compound bows for rental, so it won’t be all “medieval” like, but I think it will be a lot of fun, and I’ve been wanting to try it for awhile now. So I’m really looking forward to that, and who knows? Maybe it’ll inspire a new story or two. Possibly even a new hobby? We’ll see…I really don’t need another hobby, but something physical aside from dog-walking that gets me out of the house occasionally wouldn’t be a bad thing.

I did spend a little time this weekend watching beginner archery videos, and a video or two on the type of bows they rent. So I’ll still look like an idiot to start with, I’m sure, but at least I’ll know *why* I look like an idiot, and I know the basics of bow safety so I shouldn’t hurt myself (too badly) or anyone else. A perk of being an over-analytical INTJ personality type.

So that will be fun, methinks. So far this morning I’ve entertained the dogs, made yogurt, chatted on FB, and tried to write this blog post – a task that just keeps getting interrupted (mostly by the cabin-feverish dogs). I had to stay away from the screen for the most part this weekend, as I’ve neglected to take care of my eyes over the past week (too much screen time, too much wind), and they’re pretty strained. They felt better this morning, but I need to be careful – pushing them too hard will end me up on steroid drops and constant watering again, and I *do not* want that!

I used to have a “no computer in the living room” rule back when I lived alone. If I wanted to use the computer (I didn’t have a laptop back then), I had to go into my office deliberately. That limited my screen time because I like to watch TV in the evenings. Then I got a laptop, that rule went out the window, and now I have to be firm with myself and leave the laptop closed or in the office again at night while I watch TV and crochet or knit, rather than staring at both my laptop and the TV for the hour or so I have. Using my cell isn’t quite so bad, as long as I’m only on to check messages/emails or post photos. The keyboard is too small to do much else efficiently, so it’s self-limiting.

Last week I was working on graphics and other things for a book launch, so I did have reason to be online other than just gawking at social media feeds, but even that, I could and should plan better so I can stay away from computer screens between the time I leave work, and my writing time. That will give my eyes plenty of rest, and if I remember to use eyedrops after particularly windy or cold walks, those two things should keep them in good shape.

That, and remembering to stay hydrated. I don’t know why it’s so hard to remember to drink a glass of water between mugs of tea, but it is. And it makes a noticeable difference in my eye health when I remember to do that.

Good grief. It’s a lot of work to keep a body running properly…

Now, lunch. Then a dog walk, another blog post, and archery and some TV/crocheting, and then writing. If you have the day off, I hope you’re doing something fun! And if not, I hope your Monday is going quickly and quietly.