Articles By Jamie DeBree

The Most Frustrating Thing

If you’ve been reading here long-term, you’ll know that a few years back, I burned out on most everything due to “stuff” going on that just made all the stuff I wanted and needed to do so overwhelming that I just sort of dropped everything unnecessary, including writing, and did the bare minimums to get by while life was all crazy-like. Part of it was changes happening rapidly and all at once, and part was a mid-life crisis that I’m only now really able to acknowledge for what it was (because no one wants to admit to something like that, really).

Thing is, I persevered, got through it without embarrassing myself too terribly much and without causing to much havoc, and now find myself in a much healthier state of mind (still very pensive and “what if?” centric, but that’s normal for me). And suddenly wanting to pick up where I left off, but with new priorities that keep me from just diving in head first (and also keep me physically/mentally healthier, so they need to stay).

There are so, so many things I want to do. My main source of frustration in life – the thing that beats me up more than anything else in this world, is that I simply cannot do everything I want to do, all at once. Not even a little at a time, because there are just too many “little at a time” things to schedule. It’s just not physically possible.

So I try to prioritize, and that sort of works, but there are still too many things on my “priority list”. And pretty soon I’m only doing one or two things, and fantasizing about doing the other things, and knowing that there just isn’t enough time or energy to fit it all in.

It’s damn depressing. And it’s also the ultimate unsolvable puzzle. Which makes my whole brain just cringe, because that’s what it *does* all day, every day, at work, at home, and everywhere else. I solve problems. I fix things. I find a way to make whatever needs to happen, happen.

But I can’t fix this.

I can’t fix the fact that I’m human. That time and space are limited. That I am interested in way too many things, and far too curious for my own mental health.

Even if I were willing to change my current priorities, I still couldn’t fit everything I want to do into my life. And even as it is now, with the few things I’m prioritizing, I don’t feel like I have enough time to give them. I want more writing time. More reading time. More workout time. More cooking time. More organizing and cleaning time.

But in order to do even that many things, I have to compromise, and give all of them less time than they really need just so they get “some” time.

There’s no happy ending to this, I’m afraid. No diagrams or schedules or 30-days-without-sleep cleanse that could solve this particular problem.

And that, for me, is the most frustrating thing about life.

Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 20

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. Missed a few chapters? Email me to catch up. 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 20

Unable to just sit in the silence while she waited, Shelley walked to the big picture window on the other side of the room and looked out over the parking lot. Dillon was down there, leaning with his back against the building and one foot propped up on the wall, James Dean style. Dean with longer hair and a beard, anyway.

Reluctantly, Shelley moved away, not wanting him to see her. She understood needing space all too well, and also what happened when she couldn’t get it. She couldn’t imagine how he was feeling.

Going to the back wall of the room, she paced slowly back and forth, back and forth, not really paying much attention to the TV. It felt like hours before she heard footsteps in the hall. Her watch confirmed that it had been just a little under nintey minutes since Dillon had walked out. She hoped it was him coming back.

“Shell-EY? Shelley-stein?”

She winced at the sound of that too-familiar voice and took a deep breath before the cloud of cheap perfume and bad manners hit.

“Shelley Frank, where the heck—there you are. Where’s my Tabby-cat? And why aren’t you in her room? Oh right. You leaving her alone is the whole reason she’s here. Be a doll and point me in the right direction, Steiny.”

Shelley moved toward the diminuative red-headed tornado,  masking her surprise at Aunt Jane’s lack of four-inch heels. Intensely self-conscious about her four-foot-five height, Jane never left the house without her stilts, at least not that Shelley had ever seen.

“She’s still in surgery, so she doesn’t have a room yet. I haven’t heard from the doctor yet either. It’s been…” Shelley checked the clock on the wall, “Wow. It’s been nearly four hours.”

“That’s just unacceptable,” Jane shook her head, digging around in the big leather purse she carried. “Where’s the nurse? You should have heard something by now. I’ll go ask. They won’t dare deny her mother information. I’ll bring the wrath of God down on this place.”

Shelley was relieved to see a doctor come into the waiting room behind Jane. He looked haggard and ready for a nap.

“Ms. Franks?” He waited for Shelley’s nod. She gestured in Jane’s direction.

“This is–”

Jane stepped forward, impatient. “I’m Jane Thomas,  Tabitha’s mother. So you can talk to me from now on.  How is she? Is she going to make it?”

“It’s still very touch and go, Ms. Thomas. Your daughter sustained extensive injuries to her leg, and in order to save her life, we had to amputate it. She’s still in critical condition, but if she does okay in the next twelve hours or so, then I think the prognosis is good. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Jane trembled, and Shelley pushed a chair behind her knees just before she fell.

“Oh my God. You cut my baby-girl’s leg off? Without even asking me? You monster — how could you?” She doubled over, putting her face in her hands and sobbing loud enough to wake the dead. If that was possible, Shelley thought wryly. Guess they’d find out.

“Thank you, Doctor,” Shelley said, trying to process the news that Tabby’s leg was gone. “Can we see her?”

“Not just yet,” he said. “She hasn’t quite woke up yet. But a nurse will come and get you just as soon as she’s awake.”

Shelley nodded. “Thank you. I know that was a lot of work, and we appreciate everything you’ve done to save Tabitha’s life.”

Jane looked up from Shelley to the doctor and back, her eyes wide.

“You’re thanking this guy for taking Tabby’s leg off? I knew you were desperate, Steiny, but hitting on your cousin’s doctor is a new low.”

“How about I just check on you later when Tabitha is awake? Then I can answer any questions you might have about her therapy and rehabilitation.” He gave Shelley a look of compassion before he left, and she was grateful.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Jane murmured, swiping tears off her face. “She’ll be ugly now, with a fake leg, and no man is gonna want someone who can’t take care of herself. “

Shelley reached out and gave her aunt’s shoulder a squeeze. “I’m sure she’ll be back to her old party-girl self soon enough.”

Jane looked at her as though she’d forgotten Shelley was there.

“Oh dear…you should go home. I’ll take care of Tabby, but you’ve done quite enough for her lately, don’t you think? You go get some rest. There’s no reason for you to be here anymore.”


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 21!

Like this post? Support your author:

Sleep With Me | MacKenzie Saves the World: A Comic Shop Romance | BeauTEAful Summer

Transplants, Notes, Tattoos, Robots & Grape Ice Cream Floats

I had a post half-written for this week about talking to people (strangers), getting to know them, working to understand their personal motivations and connecting on a deeper level through quick, “shallow” interactions. I was feeling all community-oriented after a few interesting/nice encounters with strangers on the street, and all pensive about what basic, daily interactions like that could do for us as a society.

And then, between the time I started the post, and this weekend when I planned to finish it, I watched several transplants from out-of-state chatting in different interactions on social media about us native Montanans with the typical dismissive cultural divide dialogue that goes something like: “They do things all wrong here and don’t act how we think they should, they hurt our feelings and they’re just not friendly. We have no idea why they’re so bitter toward us – what did we ever do to them?!”. Needless to say, my warm, fuzzy feelings for community blending/deeper connections cooled quite a bit. I could rant and address those oh-so-common-complaints, but we’d be here all day, and I’m still a bit too annoyed. Maybe some other day.

Quick ProTip: Moving into a culture different than your own and complaining that the way they are and the way they do things is “wrong” or offensive because it’s not “normal” *to you* is not a great way to endear yourself to the people who grew up & still live there. No matter where “there” is. 

No, not all transplants to our state are like that – as a matter of fact, there are several I’m rather fond of (mostly from the East Coast, oddly enough). And the good interactions I had last week were quite possibly with transplants or tourists too (one more than likely, the other…hard to say). Still, the negative tends to overpower the positive, and I need to let all that negative stuff go before I can finish the “mutual understanding can fix a world of ills” post. I’m sure you can see where the conflict is there.

So instead, some other positive things going on that have nothing to do with other people:

– I’ve been using handwritten lists on my Note (cell), with a lot better luck than using digital to-do lists. I still use digital calendars for appointment reminders and recurring events, but there is something about handwriting lists every morning that really make the items stick in my head, and then crossing them off throughout the day that is more satisfying than ticking a box. And with my Note, I’ve got the best of both worlds – digital notes, handwritten on the screen (so no paper to keep track of.

– I’ve also been using my Note 8 tablet for handwriting both prose and poetry, and I have to say, I’m kind of amazed at the difference between drafting on the computer and drafting by hand on the tablet. It’s weird, but again, satisfying. Maybe because I can’t write nearly as fast as I type, so I have to slow down and really pay attention to what I’m writing. It gets frustrating sometimes, but overall, I think it’s a good thing.

– I got another tattoo done last week, on my upper right arm. One or two more sessions, and that whole sleeve will be done. The journey of getting this whole arm tattooed, and the story developing along the way has been eye-opening to me in so many ways. Non-tattoo people are rolling their eyes right now, but I’m ignoring people for the moment, remember? Positive only, and this experience has given me not just pretty patterns in my skin, not just a whole “story behind a story”, but also several epiphanies about who I am as a person and a writer, and also what I need to focus on to make my fiction better. It’s about so much more than a bunch of images and pigment. More than anyone but me will ever understand – which is perfectly fine, because it’s not for anyone else, it’s for me. And I’m glad I didn’t pass up on the experience just due to social constraints/censure.

– Someone has invented a weed-killing robot, and I want them for all of my gardens. These people should get an award, because if those robots work half as well as they claim, they’re my new heroes. Seriously. I hate weeding. Hate it. This could solve my bindweed problem just by working all the time. I *need* at least one in my life, but they aren’t shipping until next May. *sigh*

This commercial made me laugh this weekend…enough that I ordered trial boxes of three of their products. I so hope the products work as well as the commercial is funny…

– We had grape soda ice cream floats Sunday night. Seriously. Yummy. Try it.

– We watched Trolls this past weekend. So adorable they about gave me a sweet tooth. I’m thinking gummy trolls with cotton candy hair. Who’s with me?

Until next week…

Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 19

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. Missed a few chapters? Email me to catch up. 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 19

Dillon had taken the pack off his back and was digging through his supplies. He tossed her a small package that looked like a rectangle of foil. An emergency heat blanket, the label said. When she looked back at him he was already opening one, and he spread it over Mike.

“We’ll treat for shock and hang tight for a bit. The guys have already radioed for medical personnel, and they’re on the way. We don’t want to do anything that might make any of these wounds worse.”

Shelley nodded and opened the packet, spreading the foil over Tabby’s still form. Dillon rolled up a towel next and put it under Mike’s feet, so she did the same for Tabby. Then they sat, for what seemed like hours until the medical team finally came over the rise. She checked her watch as she moved out of their way, surprised that it had only been 20 minutes. But they were pretty close to camp, relatively speaking.

The next few hours were a blur, as they followed the EMTs down the mountain, helping to carry the rescue litters. Tabitha and Mike were loaded into an ambulance and Shelley followed with Dillon in his truck. They finally settled into worn out hospital chairs with fresh cups of waiting-room-coffee and a sigh.

“The doctor didn’t look too hopeful.” Shelley took a small sip of the strong but watery brew. “He looked kind of green around the gills when he saw the maggots, actually.”

“Well, that’s what he has nurses for.” Dillon tossed his coffee down in one gulp. “I just hope we got to them in time. There’s only so much these folks can do. Only thing for us to do now is wait.”

Shelley nodded, and then fished her cell phone out of her purse. “I need to call Tabitha’s mom — I can’t believe I didn’t think about that before. She’ll want to drive over. Does anyone in Mike’s family need to know?”

Dillon shook his head. “He doesn’t have any — just me.” He didn’t seem interested in sharing further, so Shelley gave him a small nod and stood up.

“I’ll just be in the hall over there. I shouldn’t be long.”

When she got back, Dillon was standing with a doctor in scrubs, and her stomach roiled. Surely it was too soon for news…good news, anyway.

“Thank you,” Dillon said, slumping into his seat as Shelley walked over to them. The look on his face said everything, and she turned to the doctor.

“Tabitha or Mike?”

“Mr…uh, Mike didn’t make it, I’m afraid. I’m sorry.”

Shelley nodded and slipped down into the chair beside Dillon. He leaned forward, elbows on his thighs and head in his hands. His shoulders shook slightly, and she put an arm over them, lightly, not knowing what else to do.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered.

He sat there for another moment, and then abruptly stood, not looking at her.

“I need some air, and some space. I’ll be back later.”

Shelley nodded at his back as he stalked out of the waiting room. Leaning back in her chair, she closed her eyes and reflected on the harsh words Tabitha’s mother Jane had yelled into her ear just a few minutes ago.

This is all your fault, she’d said. You were supposed to be a calming influence for her. You were supposed to watch her, and keep her out of trouble. Where were you when all this happened? Why would you let her just go off with a strange guy into the mountains? Why? 

And now the ‘strange guy’ was dead, Tabby was fighting for her life, and none of it would have happened if she’d just said no to the whole trip and talked Tabby down. Or maybe if she hadn’t left the speed dating night so early. Maybe she shouldn’t have been so concerned with her own boredom, and stayed closer to Tabby instead…

Opening her eyes, she shook her head. None of that mattered right now. All that mattered was Tabby making it through this. As long as she survived, everything would be okay.

Somehow.


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 20!

Like this post? Support your author:

Sleep With Me | MacKenzie Saves the World: A Comic Shop Romance | BeauTEAful Summer

The Pensive Season

I don’t know what it is about summer, but warm, sunny weather always makes me pensive. I mean, I’m an over-thinker on a good day, but summer is when “what if” becomes almost a daily mantra. What if I choose this over that? What if I’d made a different choice 20 yrs ago? What would I do if this life-changing event happened tomorrow? Would my life turn out the same no matter what decisions I make, or do I actually have some control over fate/destiny/whatever you call it?

Yes, I know. Exhausting and in the end, pretty much pointless, but that’s how my brain works, and in the summer, it just seems to be worse. Not much I can do aside from indulging it for a little while, and then forcing myself into a different, more productive headspace.

I’ve always been a dreamer of sorts, which is kind of at odds with my otherwise very practical, logical nature. I remember very clearly laying on my waterbed in the basement as a teen, steno notebook and pen in hand, scribbling/lamenting about whatever guy I happened to be obsessing over at the time (bad habit of mine). I’d lay back, close my eyes, and lose track of time day-dreaming about different scenarios involving said guys and wishing I could just stay in that fantasy world forever.

Writing, of course, is a physical (digital?) manifestation of that sort of day-dreaming habit…when I write, I’m basically day-dreaming on paper, just not about myself anymore. Well, not always, anyway. 😉

And of course when I get in these ultra-pensive moods, I tend to slip back into “day-dream” mode more easily, and it makes me want to write more. Which is frustrating because I only have so much time to spend on that right now. Ideas/day-dreams keep piling up, waiting for me to exorcise them from my head by getting them down in book form.

The co-worker who backs me up when I’m out (and I do the same for him) is in and out of the office for the next month and a half. But after that, I do believe I’ll schedule a week off just for writing. Get some of these ideas out of my head and at least started on paper. Perhaps that will ease the pensiveness a bit.

Even if it doesn’t, it will be fun!

Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 18

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. Missed a few chapters? Email me to catch up. 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 18

“Tabitha!” Shelley pushed past the men, slapping their hands off as they tried to stop her. The grade was steeper than it looked, but she leaned back and kept going, zig-zagging down the hill to slow her momentum. Heavy footsteps pounded behind her and Dillon called her name. Why did he want her to stop? Why wasn’t he rushing down to help his friend too?

A distinct coppery smell wafted past her on the breeze, followed by the smell of rotting meat. She refused to believe Tabby was dead. She couldn’t be. Not after all they’d done together. All they still had left to do. She just…couldn’t be dead.

“Shelley, you have to stop! Look across the fire!”

Dillon’s voice finally penetrated and she looked up, seeing nothing across the firepit except another hill, that one covered in trees and shrouded in the dimness of a forest in daytime. Just a few more steps and she’d be right next to Tabby…

Just then, she saw the glowing eyes. Smelled the stench of rotten meat, and knew it wasn’t coming from either of their friends.

Bear-breath was much, much worse than she’d ever bothered to imagine. And those eyes were fixed straight ahead, locked onto her as a long tongue licked drool from black jowels.

A shot rang out from somewhere behind her and the eyes and muzzle went sideways. The animal grunted and the earth vibrated as his body hit the ground with a solid thud.

Shelley couldn’t take her eyes off the beast. It was bigger than she’d thought a black bear would be, and she imagined a breath, maybe two even though the shot had run right through the head. When a heavy hand fell on her shoulder, she nearly jumped out of her skin and gasped.

“Just me. The bear’s dead. Are you okay?”

She finally turned her head to see the concern in Dillon’s eyes. Swallowing hard past the lump in her throat, she nodded.

“Who shot it?”

Dillon pointed to John, now standing way too close to that carcass for comfort.

“He circled out the moment you started running — hit the hill full speed and didn’t stop until he found his mark. Thank God.”

A low groan from the bodies on the ground pulled them both back to the reason they were there in the first place, and Shelley whirled around, kneeling on the ground beside Tabitha while Dillon went to Mike.

“Tabby? Are you okay? Wake up — talk to me!” Shelley grabbed her shoulder and gently pulled Tabby from her stomach to her back, earning another groan in the process.

“Shelley?” Tabby blinked up at her, but didn’t seem to see her. “Is that really you? You’re like a mirage. All fuzzy or wavy or something…” Her head lolled to the side and Shelley gave the rest of Tabby’s body a quick glance, expecting the blood to be on her torso. But it wasn’t.

“Tabitha — wake up Tabby! What happened to your leg?” When she got no response, Shelley put two fingers to the side of Tabby’s neck and prayed.

Her heart was beating, but it seemed weak. Shelley moved to look at the wound on her leg, and that’s when she realized that the putrid smell she’d been trying to ignore wasn’t bear breath, but rather a long, obviously infected gash across Tabby’s thigh.

“Oh God,” she breathed, wondering how long the two had been laying in this spot. The wound was dirty, and…were those maggots?

Momentarily at a loss for what to do, she glanced over at Dillon and Mike, now on his back too. Mike’s wounds were considerably more substantial — long gashes across his chest, and apparently in worse shape than Tabby’s.

“What do we do?” she asked, looking helplessly at Dillon. “I don’t even know how to help.”


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 19!

Like this post? Support your author:

Sleep With Me | MacKenzie Saves the World: A Comic Shop Romance | BeauTEAful Summer

Visiting the Past, Sunscreen & Written Lists

Our local Renaissance Festival was this past Saturday, so my husband and I headed out to ZooMontana to partake in the festivities. It’s always fun to watch everyone wandering around in period dress, take in a jousting match, watch the sideshows and do a little shopping at the vendor booths. I’m not one who would really want to live in that time period – I’m quite happy with indoor plumbing and near-daily showers, thanks – but I love the celebration and romanticism that comes with a ren faire. And one of these days I’m going to splurge for something chain maille…

Anticipating this event, I actually bought sunscreen for the first time in years. Last year I burned, and this year I have nice tattoos that I wanted to protect. So I spent far too much time researching natural sunscreens and ended up with naturally bug repellent sunscreen on my legs, and a natural odorless sunscreen on my arms. I put makeup on, since my powder makeup is a physical sunblock like zinc oxide, and off we went.

When we got home, I had a nice, deep tan on my exposed skin…except for the back of my neck. Which was bright, deep red.

Oops.

We had some shopping to do, so I took the opportunity to get myself a big hat with a brim wide enough to shade both the back of my neck and my nose the next time I find myself at an outdoor summer event (so…next Saturday morning). I’ll also be able to use it for yard work, so a good investment. Kind of a fun look too, if I do say so myself.

Yes, one would think I could just remember to put sunscreen on the back of my neck, but I never have, not once. And I always end up burning it. But I also always wear hats on the weekend (because I’m far too lazy to do hair/makeup), so this is just a matter of remembering to grab the right hat. Challenge accepted!

In other news, I’ve been making use of the Action Memos feature on my cell, and handwriting things like my daily to-do lists, writing schedule, and whatever else I need to keep track of. I still use digital calendars for repeating reminders and appointments, but there really is something about writing things out by hand that makes such a difference, mentally speaking. It’s weird, but for me, it’s working.

Which makes me want one of these “reMarkable” devices even more…but they’re on pre-order only right now, and not due to start shipping until next fall. I got burned for…a larger sum than I want to admit to last summer on a crowd-funding thing, so I’m really not keen on pre-ordering anything at the moment until I know someone else has already gotten one (or more, preferably). Naturally the price will go up once they start shipping, and I probably won’t be able to afford one then, so we’ll have to just wait and see.

Still, I think it’s very cool technology this company is developing, and a great way to combine the best of analog and digital especially when it comes to going paperless both at home and at the office.

And about the time I get one, someone will hit us with an EMP and we’ll all have to go back to paper anyways, right?

Viva la Renaissance! 😉

Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 17

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. Missed a few chapters? Email me to catch up. 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 17

“Got something!”

Shelley and Dillon both turned as the man just above them appeared in the trees. He was waving at them, motioning them to join him. Dillon stood and offered Shelley a hand. When she took it, her eyes met his and he smiled. He may have pulled a little harder than necessary when he helped her up, but she didn’t complain when she stumbled against his chest.

Neither did he, she noticed.

The second guy came running from up below the trail and just kept running past. Shelley frowned.

“Come on.” Dillon took a step back, but still kept her hand in his. “Let’s go see what they found.”

Shelley followed him up through the underbrush and tried not to think about what they might find. It was almost anticlimatic when they reached the other two, and saw nothing out of the ordinary.

“What are we looking at, John?” Dillon asked. The man held out his hand, palm up, to reveal a heart-shaped locket Shelley had never seen before.

“That’s not Tabby’s,” she said, a glimmer of relief easing the tighteness in her chest. “It’s not hers. Someone else must have lost it.”

She glanced at Dillon, and saw the tightness in his jaw as he reached out to pick up the locket.

“It’s Mike’s. He keeps a picture of his mother and his daughter in there, and carries it in his pocket.” He put it in his own pocket. “He was definitely up here then. Any signs of where they might have blazed a trail?”

John nodded. “Broken branches and scuffed dirt all over the place. I hiked a little ways back and found blood, but it looks like they’re covering it as they go. Probably trying to confuse any prey animals who might be after a meal.”

“Would that work?” Shelley asked, earning three rather dubious stares.

“Probably not,” John answered. “But won’t hurt either. Just makes it a little harder to tell when the bleeding started and stops. But we’ll be able to follow the trail. Are you ready?”

Dillon looked at Shelley. “Are you sure you want to do this? I think we’re getting close, and no one would blame you if you wanted to wait back at camp….”

“I should smack you for that,” she replied, moving past him. “I’m going. Come on.”

John took the lead again and Dillon fell into step by Shelley. “I didn’t mean to insult you,” he said as they walked, watching the path appear almost magially as John cleared broken branches and dirt piles out of the way.

It wasn’t long before they saw the smoke. Practically running, they made it over the next rise just to see an impromptu campsite at the bottom and two people laying motionless beside a dying fire.


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 18!

Like this post? Support your author:

Sleep With Me | MacKenzie Saves the World: A Comic Shop Romance | BeauTEAful Summer

Memorial Day & Writing Schedules

Happy (?) Memorial Day. I’m never really sure if the proper salutation for such a somber occasion should be “happy”, but it works well enough, I suppose. I am happy to have the day off from work, so there’s that. And I’m grateful, of course, for those who have fought/died for this country.

In any case, yesterday was my brother-in-law’s birthday, so I went celebrating with the family instead of doing my Sunday chores. Which means today I am doing mundane tasks like laundry and vacuuming and meal prep and taking the garbage out. I am also writing blog posts (ahem) not only for this blog, but if I have time, for my two alter-ego blogs as well. My goal for the next few months (along with working on the drafts I have in progress) is to clean up a couple of stories – one for each alter – that are drafted and just need revisions/editing to get to a publishable state. When I burnt out/took a break from writing back in 2015, I’d just finished both of those drafts, but neither “worked” as I wanted them to and I just didn’t have the mental energy to even look at them again – until now. With my head in a much better space and writing at the forefront of my hobbies again, I’m ready to go back and make them what they need to be. Excited about it, even.

I’ve been trying to establish a daily/weekly writing routine that sort of runs with my natural mental “energy” depending on what day it is, and I’ve almost got it right. There’s so much experimentation that goes into creating a routine that will work for a long period of time, but I’ve found it’s generally worth the effort. At the moment, I have an hour, hour and a half Mon – Thurs from 11pm – 12/12:30am for writing, and sometimes half an hour after I walk the dogs between 8:30pm and 9pm. That early half-hour is a great time for poetry, or working on a flash fiction writing prompt, and then the latter hours have been breaking down like so:

Monday: Revise/edit old work
Tuesday: *Jury’s still out – trying to use for new words, but not working.*
Wednesday: Weekly serial story and typing in poem
Thursday: Serial story (finish)

Tuesdays are my “long day” at work…which is a misnomer since the hours are the same, just shifted, but I have to be there an hour earlier than normal for a weekly staff meeting, which means I have to get up earlier and move more quickly in the morning. Not being a morning person, it makes the day feel strained and rushed, but because I can leave around 5:30pm instead of 6 (yes, I could leave at 5pm, but traffic at 5 sucks, so I prefer to avoid it), I keep “rushing” myself after. I pick up tacos on the way home, rush through dinner with the dogs and hubby, and then head out to the archery range to shoot arrows and clear my head (it’s surprisingly therapeutic). After that, it’s time to hurry home and get back into my normal evening routine of walking the dogs, TV with hubby, and chores before my normal writing time.

Needless to say, considering all the social time and mental energy expended on Tuesday, I really should not be expecting any new creative work from myself that night. Monday would actually be better for new words, but the change from weekend to workday seems to be just enough that I find it easier to ease into the week with revisions than trying to draft new words.

By Wednesday, my head is used to the increased social demands of workdays again, so it’s much easier to be creative during those writing times, but by then I’m feeling the pressure of the Friday serial chapter weighing down, though not enough to actually power through and finish the whole thing. So I generally start it out of guilt/pressure, but don’t finish it until Thursday, spending two nights on what could easily be done in one. I really should just leave the whole serial chapter for Thursday and use Wednesday to work on the new novel I am *dying* to write, inspired largely by the tattoo sleeve I’m getting on my right arm. So inspired, in fact, that I have the entire subplot already worked out, a good chunk of the main plot (that relies very heavily on the subplot – story within a story type of thing), and I even know the ending, which is incredibly rare for a “pantser” like myself.

So this week, I think I’ll try something more like this:

Monday: Revisions for one alter
Tuesday: Revisions for the second alter
Wednesday: TMOMM (new book) draft
Thursday: Rattlesnake Falls draft (serial draft)

And then of course my poetry and prose prompt pieces will fit into the 30 minute chunks I have here and there in the early evenings. Would it be better to have more time for new words? Absolutely. But when you work full time, and a job that’s often mentally demanding at that, you do what you can while still staying mentally and physically healthy. I mean, sure…I could find more time to write, but it would mean giving up either time reading (aka “refilling the well”), or time being active, which isn’t healthy short or long term. Writing faster isn’t worth giving up either of those things from my perspective, so I do what I can do.

Once I get those two stories revised, I should have the Rattlesnake Falls draft done, and I can spend one night of revisions on that, and then possibly use the other night for more new words, if my head will cooperate.

And that is largely what I’m thinking about today and working on this week.

Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 16

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. Missed a few chapters? Email me to catch up. 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 16

The day was beautiful as Shelley trekked across the mountainside with Dillon and the others. Too pretty, really, she thought, her gaze drifting across tall grasses swaying around blooming flowers, tall trees rattling their leaves, and the occasional tiny woodland creature darting back into hiding. Didn’t nature know her friend was missing, and probably hurt? Why was everything so…normal?

She’d first caught the sound of running water fifteen minutes back, faint in the distance. It was getting louder now, and her tired steps quickened, anxious to reach the old ranger station. If Dillon was right, Tabby was close, and maybe they weren’t too late.

Though it seemed like a long way to travel from the bear carcass.

Lots of questions, and the only two people with the answers were out here somewhere, waiting for help.

“Hold up.” The man in front stopped, and Shelley about ran into Dillon’s back. Stepping to the side, she looked around him at the leader, and then just beyond.

Across the next clearing was a wooden shack — or the remains of one, anyway. The roof had collapsed and was partially in, partially out of what was left of the gray plank walls. The fallen structure wasn’t capable of providing shelter any longer. Firewood was about all it was good for now.

“This doesn’t make sense,” Shelley said. “If Mike knew about this place, then he would have known they were close to the trail when he killed the bear. They would have gone the other way, toward camp, not farther up the mountain.”

The three men all looked at her for a long moment.

“What about the sweatshirt? We found it first, closer to the camp…” Dillon’s voice trailed off as the words came out, and understanding widened his eyes. “She took the sweatshirt off after, maybe used it to try to stop the bleeding. Though we don’t know if she was the one injured or Mike.”

One of the other men frowned. “If they were headed back toward camp, they should have been there by now. Before we left, actually. What the hell happened to them?”

“Only way to find out is to find them.” Dillon breathed a heavy sigh. “And we’ve been looking in the wrong direction for over an hour. Let’s head back to where the sweatshirt was, and we’ll figure out how to proceed from there.”

When they finally reached the correct site, Shelley collapsed on a fallen log, almost as good as a favorite recliner after a hard day.

“I can’t imagine what they were feeling like when they stopped here,” she said, speaking slowly as she tried to catch her breath. “Actually, I can’t believe they made it all the way here, considering one of them is hurt. That’s quite a jaunt just from the attack site. Is that even possible with a bad injury?”

Dillon shrugged, taking a seat beside her. “You’d be surprised by what a good shot of adrenaline can do. But it is pretty amazing they made it this far. Shock would have been setting in for someone hurt and bleeding that badly. It is odd that we didn’t notice any bloodstains or drops between here and there though. There should be some sign of them passing through, and it’s like they were just picked up there and dropped here.”

Shelley sat up a little straighter. “Or, they didn’t use the trail. Maybe they were confused, or avoiding the trail for some reason.”

“I’ll check for some sort of sign above the trail,” one of the other men offered. He pointed to the fourth man. “Why don’t you check below the trail?” The other man nodded and they set out, leaving Dillon and Shelley to rest.

“Are those guys rambo or something?” Shelley was only half-kidding. “They don’t seem to ever get tired.”

Dillon’s lips turned up in a small smile. “They’ve probably had more sleep than us.” His smile faded, and he cocked his head to the side, giving her a searching look. “They weren’t in a car wreck just the other day either. How are you feeling? You must be in a lot of pain with all the walking…”

Shelley shrugged. “It hurts here and there, but nothing I can’t handle. It actually hurt less when we were moving. Mind over matter, I guess.” She looked away, her gaze drifting over the small clearing. “You’d think it would be easy to find someone these days, with all the technology at our disposal. But here we are, searching a mountain for two people who could be anywhere. You’d think there was a better way to do this.”

Dillon was quiet for a long moment, and she wasn’t sure he was even listening. Then he looked up, eyes wide and face flushed.

“Maybe there is,” he said, putting two fingers in his mouth and letting out a long, loud whistle. “We need to get back to the camp.”


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 17!

Like this post? Support your author:

Sleep With Me | MacKenzie Saves the World: A Comic Shop Romance | BeauTEAful Summer