Articles

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

Catchin’ Up

Well then. I kinda got behind on this whole blogging thing, didn’t I? I’m sure the few of you reading along out there were probably busy enough with your own Halloween celebrations (or hidey-hole stocking, for those who don’t participate) that you didn’t even notice I was gone. I should probably do something about that…you know, something to make my posts so charming, so poignant, so completely engrossing that people wait with bated breath until the next missive comes out, but…that just sounds like work.

Save it for fiction, I say. Not that my fiction is especially stunning just yet, but I like to think it’s improving.

On the costumes, hubby and I went to the party as Bob Ross and a Happy Little Tree. It went over very well, thank you very much. The party was a blast…really fun seeing what everyone else came up with. Can’t wait to go again next year!

bobntree

The yard haunt went really well too, though I haven’t had a chance to transfer the pics from my cell yet. But they’re all over Instagram & Facebook, if you’re so inclined to follow/friend me on either of those. Not many trick-or-treaters, but lots of friends dropped by to chat, which is always fun.

In any case, Halloween is over, the bodies are back in the basement (well, most of ’em), and we spent most of this weekend taking the yard haunt down and just cleaning house in general. I may have even had a brief dalliance with a dust rag…but I don’t think that particular relationship is going anywhere long-term.

My neighbors seem to be a little confused as to the season – most of ’em took down their Halloween stuff and put out Christmas wreaths and flowers and things. I put out a nice autumn leafy-wreath on the door, some faux leaves and squashes in the door basket-decor-thingy by the steps, and another leafy wreath and some fall-leaf garland in the front window. Because as far as I know, Thanksgiving still comes before Christmas, right? And it’s still fall, not winter…

This weekend was also “fall back” to Standard Time, and I love that. I wish we could just stay in standard time year-round, but I like the dark, and I have no problem at all with it getting dark early in the evening. Judging from my facebook feed, I’m in the minority on that one, but at least people are whining about something other than politics for a change.skullcameoroseandlace

I got the second part of my right forearm (outside) tattooed last week too – a bit of lace and a big rose that ties directly in with my skeleton cameo (inside forearm). It turned out just amazing. Once it heals, I’ll try to get a quick video of the full forearm piece. That’s the last tattoo for this year – I need to pay some bills and do some budgeting work, and I also need a break from the itchy-healing process. It’s a really nice one to end the year with though. And the last one that’s really visible on a daily basis, at least until I get a few smaller bees/moths on my other arm to sort of fill in little open spaces.

I have a couple of goals I need to meet before I can get my next tattoo…I’ve decided tattoos are an excellent incentive/reward for completing goals. For the next one, I need to pay off one line of credit (completely) and lose (and keep off) the 5lbs I’ve put on over the last month or so due to bad eating habits and blowing off yoga in the mornings (ironically, part of that was due to healing tattoos, but still…).

I think I can accomplish both of those by next February, so hopefully I’ll be getting my next tattoo then. We shall see…

In the meantime, my husband decided to do NaNoWriMo this year (National Novel Writing Month), and I couldn’t very well let him do it by himself, so I decided to jump in again too. I’m woefully behind on word count already, but I have three days off this next week (Tues and Fri are holidays, Weds I’m taking a vacation day), so hopefully I can make up some wordage during that time.

As to the story I’m writing – I got the idea from my skeleton cameo tattoo. About three days after I got her done, she started talking to me, telling me a story involving a woman on the run, a voodoo priestess, a guardian talisman and a mystery waiting to be solved. Incidentally, her name is Misty. So I’m writing the Mystery of Misty for NaNo this month, as well as trying to get The Time Stone (Book One of The Stone Scavengers – a young/middle-grade story) edited and formatted for release in December. Busy busy!

So then…I think we’re all caught up now. Next time, remind me to tell you about a very cool stamp app the USPS just released this summer. Hopefully by next week I’ll be caught up with my postcard exchange as well, which has been on hold (along with everything else) due to Halloween madness.


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

Thoughts on Costumes

It’s so easy to decide what you want to be for Halloween when you’re a kid. Your favorite super hero or cartoon character. Whatever you want to be when you grow up. Whatever bright outfit that catches your eye and is cheap enough for mom to say “yes” too…or a lion, tiger or bear – oh my!

Then you grow up, and you start attaching way too much meaning to the whole concept of “dressing up” as someone other than yourself. Because as an adult, you actually *have* a sense of self, and that sense is naturally kind of weirded out by the fact that you want to be someone else for a night (or maybe that’s just me).

Plus, there are contests. Prizes to win. Other people to impress. It’s a thing. So much more than just school parties and trick-or-treating…and (again, this might just be me), when you get to a certain age, the “slutty-anything-you-can-think-of” costume no longer works with the not-so-beach-body you’re sporting. Besides, low-cut shirts and high-cut skirts are just cold and a pain in the butt, IMO. So basically, my lazy streak is showing again.

If you haven’t guessed by now, my husband and I are dressing up this year. Not for Halloween night – it’s too much to set up the yard haunt and get ourselves dressed in something other than jeans and haunt-watching clothes, normally. But we’re going to a masquerade party at one of our local art museums next Saturday night, and have been sort of agonizing over costumes ever since. There are prizes, of course – and prizes, and we’re totally overthinking it and probably won’t have our costumes sorted until next Friday.

Next Saturday before we go, we need to raise the walls on the infrastructure of our yard haunt, so…yeah. We’ve got this procrastination thing down to a science.

In any case, here are some of the ideas we’ve kicked around:

Alice & the Rabbit (or Mad Hatter)
Little Red Riding Hood & The Big Bad Wolf
American Gothic (the painting)
A Cloud & the Rain

Nothing is quite “gelling” just yet, but we’ll keep looking. It’s been several years since we had a party, and we always dressed up for those. We just need to figure out a personal “theme” of some sort. I lean towards movies and books, he’s leaning towards paintings.

Anyone got any ideas for us? Feel free to jump in…or better yet, tell me what you’re going to dress up as (or what you dressed up as the last time you wore a costume)!

Mood Management & Skin-Tight Capris

I’m pretty sure Keith Richards’ lost love was at MontanaFair this weekend.

Let me back up a bit, and I’ll explain.

I was in a pretty serious funk on Sunday…later I figured out it was probably because hubby and I went out for dinner Saturday night, tried to go see the comedian who was here for the fair, got there too late to find parking and went back home, completely forgetting to take the supplements we normally take with dinner. Yes, I realize supplements are controversial, and it was quite some time before I even talked myself into taking a multi-vitamin. But after experimenting a lot on myself, and helping my husband experiment as well, it’s pretty unmistakable that the ones we take do have a very positive effect on our daily lives, and our moods as well.

It’s actually kind of disconcerting, but without my Super B complex and fish oil, I’m an anxiety-ridden mess who can’t focus to save her life. Scary, but true. Skip one day, and I’m merely a grump. I know this because I’ve run out before, and had to go without for various periods of time. Disconcerting, as I said – in an apocalypse situation, I’d be a much less pleasant person to be around in just a week due to the lack of supplements readily available.

So, there I am on Sunday afternoon, limping through the day on less supplementation and less sleep than I should, walking the fairgrounds with my hubby before the concert starts, thankful the crowds weren’t that bad.

That’s when we saw her.

A character so perfect that if I wrote her, no one would find her even remotely believable. And yet, there she was, in the pasty-white wrinkled flesh.

She had to be at least 70 (I’m guessing older), all skin and tiny bones with long, wavy white hair and a thickly-lined expression that said she didn’t care, and she never had cared what anyone thought of her or her choices. Two long, bony fingers held a smoking cigarette that hung down at her side, but it was her choice of clothing that really said more than anything else.

At an age when most people would give up on zippers and anything remotely snug, this lady was wearing skin-tight shiny black capris with white rock-n-roll style crosses on the front of each thigh. And up top, a black tank with more rock-n-roll motifs. I didn’t notice any tattoos, but they certainly wouldn’t have been out of place. And if it hadn’t been rude, I’d have looked closer and snapped a pic, because she is everything I want to be, as far as attitude goes.

Seeing her made my whole day and snapped me right out of my funk – because *that* is how we should all approach life. She was rocking those rock-n-roll groupie clothes, and she clearly didn’t care what anyone else thought about it either. She didn’t let age hold her back, and she is who she is, even after all these years.

And if she’s single, and Keith Richards is looking, I doubt he’ll find a better match…though I dare say she’s probably not always that easy to handle.

In any case, we got some fair food, got confused as to what happened to the main exhibits we normally see (some of which we never even saw), and enjoyed the Theory of a Deadman/3 Doors Down concert even though the sound sucked where we were sitting. Murphy did fine in his cone for the extra time we needed him too (poor thing), and I got home in time to finish the laundry and get this post written/posted before bed.

All in all, not a bad weekend, if it was a little chaotic. I tell you what though – seeing that lady at the fair made everything that led up to us being at that exact spot on that exact day and time was totally and completely worth it. It was one of those pivotal moments in life that sticks with you forever…in the best possible way.


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

Elwood & The Art of Naming Things

Elwood the Horned Lizard <br>(still a bit swollen)

        Elwood the Horned Lizard               

Saturday was a pretty fun day (which was nice, considering last week felt like it was never gonna end). Hubby and I dropped in at a retirement party, and then I went straight from there to an appointment with the guy who does my tattoos, where “Elwood” was “born”. He’s a horned-lizard, colloquially called a “horny toad” (I’ve no idea why – they look nothing like toads), and like Charlie, the rattlesnake just opposite him on that wrist, his species is native to Montana.

Yes, I name my animal tattoos. Well, the ones that don’t already have names, anyways. I mean, my skunk isn’t just any skunk, he’s Pepe le Pew. But the snake on my ankle (the BSB logo snake) is named Erwin, the one on my shoulder is George, and the one on my wrist is Charlie.

Erwin

                 Erwin

I kept looking at my new lizard all weekend and thinking he was just so adorably plump (ahem), and the name Elwood just jumped out at me and stuck. Which is way better, in my opinion, than my buddy Carol’s idea of Sam. As in, Yosemite. Sheesh. No. Just no.

I have another appointment on the 27th to get a grasshopper and a barn spider on that same forearm (workin’ my way around), and those two already have names. But I’m not telling yet, because I might do a “guess the name” contest when they are done. I’m still trying to work out what to give away for that. I kind of think I need to come up with a tattoo story (yes, I already have several ideas – ideas are never in short supply around here).

In any case, Elwood, Erwin & Charlie are not named after or for anyone. Those particular names just seemed to fit the images in some way or another. I thought Erwin sounded somewhat “old school literary”, which is a great thing for the Brazen Snake Books mascot, eh? Charlie…well, Charlie is beautiful but deadly, and the name seems to portray that in a sort of “harmless-until-provoked” sort of thing for me.

Charlie

                  Charlie

Elwood…well, it just feels kind of antique and a little bit sneaky but mostly harmless and easy-going, as long as his daily routine isn’t interrupted. Which reminds me of someone, but not an Elwood. Who could that possibly be, I wonder? 😉

George is named for my husband, and I think he was a bit tickled by it, actually. I’d post a pic, but he’s on my shoulder blade and I don’t have the energy to try to bendy-twisty enough to get a decent photo. Maybe next time.

And no, I have no names actually tattooed in my skin, nor will I ever do that. Not my thing.

It’s funny, because I was thinking about names and naming things and characters after Elwood’s name came to me, and it’s odd how much perception can be skewed or manipulated merely by choosing one name over the other. Names tend to evoke a sort of emotional, pre-loaded response to the person on the other end for many of us, which is probably why some people have such a hard time naming babies and pets. Naming (or re-naming, as I usually do) a dog is no small feat. It requires days, sometimes weeks of thought, and about a dozen side-eyed looks at the husband for tossing out absolutely absurd options (as men generally do).

One of the few things that really gives me pause at the start of writing any story is…character names. Because the reader is going to have all these built-in perceptions of a person depending on what their name is, which makes it a vital early piece of information. But it’s not just for the reader – it’s for me too. Because I also have a whole bunch of perceptions attached to any number of names, not even based on who I may have met before, but also on how the name sounds and “feels” when I speak or hear it. And since I don’t consciously “write” my characters…I more just watch them live and transcribe that, the name gives me a whole bunch of information about the character too. Even better if that information turns out to be wrong later in the story…character twist!

Names are important, and have long-term implications. Isn’t that the oddest thing? But if you think about it, it really is true.

Now…about that redhead named Sam in a cowboy hat. I wonder if she’d be the tattooer, or the client? I think I might write her story and find out. Thanks a lot, Carol. There’s another book in my to-be-written queue… *sigh*

 

Captain America, Miniatures, & Personal Libraries

My Geek Fuel box came on Saturday, and nestled among all the other geeky goodness was a sticker of Captain America’s shield. There was also a civil war (Avengers, not actual history) t-shirt (very cool, incidentally), which made me pause before I put the sticker on my laptop (yes, I’ve become one of “those” people).

I mean, I haven’t actually seen Civil War yet, so how do I know I’d be on Captain America’s side instead of Iron Man’s side? Then again, Captain America *is* Captain America after all, which is like…the ultimate boy scout, so of *course* I’m going to side with him over the hothead genius, right? Well…um…uh…

I finally did put the sticker on my laptop, but I kind of feel the need to balance it out with an Iron Man sticker now. Because while patriotic boy scouts are hot, I have to admit a definite affinity for hothead geniuses too. Call me fickle. Or maybe just well-rounded…

In other news, I had some time to kill between mailing stuff and getting my hair cut on Saturday, so I stopped into a place I’ve always wanted to visit that’s conveniently right around the corner from the post office. It’s called On a Smaller Scale, and it’s a miniatures & dollhouse store! I didn’t find what I was looking for (some stone-like lotuses for a book I’ll be working on very soon), but I did find a gift for someone, and by the time I left, my mind was swimming with ideas. Also, now I really want one of those big, cool dollhouses to decorate… *sigh*

So many adorably tiny little things, and tiny furniture and food and garden stuff and…well, I could have spent all afternoon there, easily. As it is, I’ve been trying to rearrange my office in my head to accommodate both a Victorian-style dollhouse, and a re-purposed aquarium turned on its side and divided into “rooms” for a “plot box” to use with miniatures when I’m plotting out certain scenes in my books. Wouldn’t that be fun?

I’ll be going back soon, that’s for sure. I want to create some scenes for displaying my Smurfs, and a lot of the smaller dollhouse stuff will work perfectly for that. It was a fun half hour or so, browsing the store and chatting with the owner.

Naturally, when I started trying to figure out where I’d fit more stuff, I started thinking about stuff I could get rid of. I have so many books, and I always think that I should offload the ones I haven’t touched in forever, but I just…can’t. I mean, what if someday down the road my tastes swing back to those sweet romances? Or what if something does happen to civilization as we know it? Would those seriously outdated World Book Encyclopedias come in handy? I’m certainly not getting rid of my antique books. but there are so very many I haven’t looked at in well over ten years, and probably won’t look at in the next ten either, but…I just cannot bring myself to get rid of books. I mean…they’re books. I need them. Collectively, they contain the world (even fiction), and how can I possibly just get rid of that?

Yes, I realize I have a slight problem in this regard. It’s just stuff, everything’s digital now, and odds aren’t that great on the grid blowing up anytime soon. Sure, there are certainly books on my shelves I could live without, but taking the time to weed through just seems…well, like a waste, when I could be doing other things. It’s gonna have to happen some time, because we keep buying new books and our space isn’t unlimited. But not just yet.

Speaking of which, I think I need to make a trip to Hastings soon…

On Short Weeks, “This City”, & Wet Socks…

Monday was a holiday here in the states for many of us, or a day of remembering, in any case. There were still plenty of people who had to work, but I was off, thus my laziness in getting this post up and out.

I actually don’t care much for four-day work weeks, to be honest. Everything just seems that much more…immediate, which means the whole week feels hectic and strained. If they were the “norm”, then I’m sure we’d all adjust and having three days off every week would be really nice (though with IT, there’s always a chance of having to work – nature of the 24/7 beast). But since our current norm is a 5-day week, the shortened ones just feel to crammed with stuff. To me, anyways.

Tomorrow will be a short day for me too, because I have two hours in the dentist chair to look forward to at the end of the day. I need to leave work by 3:30pm, and then I’ll be in the chair from 4-6pm while the dentist preps two of my teeth for crowns. I know, I know. The excitement just never stops with my teeth…

Good winter TV finally ran out, and we’ve been watching Daredevil on Netflix – actually, we just finished the first season. It was good…dark and bloody, but exactly the kind of hero I like who’s constantly wrestling with that line between good and evil, and occasionally stepping over it out of necessity. I like Arrow for the same reason, and The Flash for different reasons entirely, but there’s one thing that absolutely drives me *nuts* about these shows, and it’s kind of a trademark thing.

The phrase “this city” just bugs the crap out of me every time I hear a hero or villain utter it (and yes, all three of the aforementioned shows are guilty).

I think it’s because it’s overused. It’s such a constant thing that I just get tired of hearing it. It sounds cheesy and limiting and just…too narrow-minded for a person with such weighty philosophical concerns and that requisite hero…uh…complex.

Or it could just be that it’s horribly overused and I get tired of hearing it spoken in what seems like every other line. I feel like I’m getting beaten over the head with the mantra…it’s wearisome.

In other news, I finished my first knitted sock this week, and I’m pretty proud of it. I need to figure out how to make the ribbing tighter, and I could use a little work with the closing, but other than that, I’m very happy with how it turned out, and looking forward to making a second to match.

And then I need to remember to take my nice, hand-knitted socks off when I venture out into the kitchen. My dogs cannot seem to keep the water in their bowls contained to either the bowl or their mouths. It’s crazy how much of a swimming pool the kitchen floor is near their bowls, and that happens to be the main thoroughfare to the back door and into the rest of the kitchen. Since I often wear socks in the house (it has to be incredibly warm for me not to), this means I generally have damp socks on my feet throughout the evening.

I changed socks twice tonight just because I was sick of them being wet, and then one of the dogs needed out again not five minutes after the first change.

Yes, I should get some good slippers, which would solve that problem. One of these days, I might even actually do that…

Here’s hoping the short week treats you well…or at least somewhat gently!


Enjoy this post? Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | All Romance eBooks | Smashwords
Audible | iTunes

On Leather, SNL, & Innocent Attraction…

Happy Monday/President’s Day! Happy because due to the fact it’s a federal holiday, I’m off work and at home. A very good thing, considering how far behind I am on my writing schedule. I’m hoping to get a lot of words written today…

This past Saturday (Valentine’s Day, though I’m not big on celebrating Hallmark holidays), hubby and I took advantage of a special dinner deal one of our local wine shops was having. A four course dinner with four wines/drinks to match by a local chef. Hubby and I both agreed that the salad and main courses were the best (and neither of us cared much for the cold potato soup – though it was a rather pretty purple color), and interestingly enough, the first and third drinks were also the best (though I think I liked the third wine better than he did). The first was a Spicy Beet Cider to go with a beet and walnut salad. That cider was absolutely stunning, and reminded me of the stock art photo I found for a book my horror alter-ego will be writing later this year. I think I might actually incorporate the flavors and textures into that book, somehow. It really was stellar.

The wine that was served with the main course (beef & mushroom pasta) was Cascina Ca’Rossa Langhe Nebbiolo 2010, and I was utterly fascinated and intrigued by it. It tasted and smelled of leather and smoke, which sounds weird, I know, but from the very first sip it reminded me of an old study or library, with a fire roaring in a big stone fireplace, the walls lined with built-in bookshelves filled with old leather-bound tomes, and big wing-back chairs where one might sit and read and smoke a cigar, if that’s your thing (not mine, but that’s the general environment). The color was even reminiscent of leather, clear dark burgundy-brown that flashed lighter as it swirled in the glass.

It wasn’t just another wine, it was a sensory experience, and I really must find a bottle of that to have for my very own. Or two, perhaps – one to drink, and one to just admire and remember…

Interestingly, my husband bought new leather shoes earlier that day as well. When I came home from grocery shopping on Sunday morning, I smelled the new leather, and immediately thought of that wine. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Sunday night, I watched the Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary special. That show is as old as I am, and I’ve seen a lot of it. When I really was old enough to start watching it in the late 80’s/early 90’s, I remember so many people complaining about how bad it had gotten. And I watched old episodes, and I watched new episodes, and some I liked, and some I didn’t, and there were years when I didn’t watch at all and then I’d pick it back up again…but it’s always been there, part of the soundtrack of my life, as it were. Isn’t it odd how one TV show can be so ever-present, and watching the clips last night made me realize just how big of an impact it’s had on society as well as my own perspective on things. So many catch-phrases and things that have become all pervasive, and some I didn’t even realize had come from SNL in the beginning…

You’d think watching something like that would make me feel old, especially seeing some of the older actors now, but it really didn’t. It was just a really pleasant trip down memory lane, both personally, and in a cultural sense too.

Which brings us to today, and the draft I’m working on at the moment. I’ve mentioned before that I’m working on a kid’s novel for a brand new small press, and I’m pretty sure I mentioned my misgivings about it too. It really gave me some serious cognitive dissonance at the start, because it’s so far out of the realm I normally like to work in that I felt very…constrained in what I could and couldn’t do with it. But I kept forging ahead, largely because I’d committed to finishing it, and as I’ve pressed on, a few things have really started to make this a much more enjoyable endeavor.

The first was the happy coincidence that one of the TV stations decided to play the Harry Potter movies over the last few weeks. I’ve watched a couple now (re-watched, I guess), and while my plot and characters aren’t even remotely similar to the Potter series, I’ve really gained a lot of insight into character development as it pertains to children through those stories. I don’t have kids, and haven’t worked around them in nearly 20 years, so that helped a lot just to see how someone else did it, and to realize where I was going wrong in terms of “kid culture” (because even as a child, I never really was one, if that makes sense – I’ve never identified with my own age group, and also never been part of the “crowd”, so to speak). Once I figured that out, my storyline started working a lot better.

And the second happy coincidence was the Charlie Brown Valentine’s Day Special on TV. We only watched a little bit of it, but it reminded me that there’s a very innocent side of romance that kids experience even when they’re young (not *that* young…my heroine is 11), and while I’d thought about that, I was afraid to really “go there” with my young cast of characters. But Charlie Brown and the Little Red-Haired Girl and Peppermint Patty and Lucy and Linus and the whole gang reminded me of that sweeter, innocent side of attraction, and just how completely adorable it is, and I went ahead and took my young characters there. Not only does it work, it’s going to really set up the next few stories in the series, as my characters grow together. And since romance is a predominant part of what I write in my other genres (it even has a place in my horror…attraction is all pervasive in human society, and I find it fascinating no matter what light you put it in), I suddenly felt more comfortable with my “kid lit”, and the story just started to take off after that.

This is part of why I write…to explore new perspectives on life, to see how others view the world, and to explore the various decisions that might be made, and how they affect us as we see them through.

With that said, I’m going to post this, grab another cup of tea and a snack, and see where my characters will take me today…


Enjoy this post? Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | All Romance eBooks | Smashwords
Audible | iTunes


On Fishkeeping, Movies & Community…

New26gal

This post brought to you by the letter “W”, which for some reason, I keep typing right after the word “movies”. I don’t know why. It doesn’t fit there. There’s nothing with a “w” that I need to type at the end. And yet, it persists. Annoyingly, I might add.

Anyways…to the topics at hand! If you read last week’s post, you know that I decided, against better standard fishkeeping practices, to get a second fancy goldfish to keep mine company. Because goldies are social creatures, and mine has been a bit depressed/lethargic lately, despite my best efforts to perk the little thing up.

My conscience still prickled though for not providing at least a minimum standard environment for them. Goldfish are big and messy, and thus require a more generous environment than a lot of other fish just to stay healthy and happy. My tank was 20 gallons, the recommended minimum for one goldfish. Each goldie after that should have another 10 gallons – so 30 gallons for two goldfish.

Yes, I know that people keep goldfish in small tanks all the time. That doesn’t make it right.

In any case, long-story slightly shorter, I did my research, found out that a 30 gal. high tank has the same width/depth as my 20 gal., went to Petsmart and couldn’t find a 30 high, but bought a 26 gal. bowfront aquarium instead. It’s still not ideal, but it’s got quite a lot more swimming space especially with the bowed-out front, and it came with a filter too, which gave me a second filter to run on the same tank and provide a bigger bio-system to deal with the extra waste.

So I spent a good couple hours on Sunday taking all the stuff out of the 20 gal. tank (including the goldies) and setting up the new 26 gallon tank, which is shown above. I’m happy to say that the goldies seem to like it (and each other), and I think they have plenty of room now to cohabitat successfully, even though it’s still a bit shy of the standard. I even saw them napping on the bottom together tonight, side-by-side like they’d always been friends. Which makes me feel good about my decision to get the second one.

Unfortunately, I was also reminded that the universe is kind of a stickler about balance when my betta died this past Sunday (I believe it was a blocked intestine). I didn’t notice quickly enough that he was ill, and he was dead pretty soon after. My bad in two ways – one, not noticing in time to do something about it, and two, not feeding him the varied diet he (and all animals, really) needed to lower the odds of it happening at all.

This made me take a good hard look at my feeding practices, of course, and after a few hours spent scouring the internet, I’ve about come up with new feeding schedules and menus for all of my fish, plus the new betta I’ll bring home next weekend. Perhaps the next time I have a little extra time, I’ll put a page on my site about them…

In other news, Saturday night I was trying to get caught up on some writing (was horribly behind last week), and Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone was on TV. I watched, writing on commercials. Sunday I was just beat from swapping the aquariums out, and The Hunger Games was on – all about needing others just to survive. Somewhere along the way it hit me – in the children’s draft I’m working on, there’s not enough community. By which I mean, my heroine is doing too much on her own, and she needs to learn that she can rely on her friends to help. That’s part of coming-of-age for most kids…I just forget, because I sort of skipped that part of being a kid.

So…good insight into my story, and my weekend has really had an all-pervasive theme of “community”, when you think about it. My goldie got a new BFF, and he seems happier about it. Harry Potter & Catniss Everdeen (?) both gave me insight into my own stories. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Now, for sleep. It’s been one of those weekends where I got everything done except for the stuff I need to do, which kind of sucks, but when it’s all you can manage, nothing to be done about it.

In any case…have a great week! Anyone got any fun Valentine’s plans you’d like to share?


Enjoy this post? Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | All Romance eBooks | Smashwords
Audible | iTunes


Excerpt Day: Shelter

I wrote this for one of the Rattles flash fiction anthologies I put together back in February of 2012.  Enjoy!


The_Old_Sofa_P3_web

Shelter

Her fingers shaking, the girl worked at the back door lock until it finally gave. Pushing the door open, she carefully peered around the corner, listening for any signs of life. Hearing nothing save the occasional whistle as the wind howled through tiny fissures, she crossed the threshold and closed the door, relieved to be out of the elements.

The kitchen looked strangely like any normal kitchen, a table and chairs that should have been stolen long ago still standing sentry, waiting for the family to return. She took a chair and braced it under the door knob then checked the cupboards, relieved to find some expired canned goods. Better those than some of the leftovers she’d eaten from dumpsters – probably safer too. Finding a can opener in a drawer, she made a meal of cold soup concentrate and put the spam in her bag for later.

There was still plenty of time before dark so she gave herself a tour. As if the family had just disappeared into thin air, the furnishings were still largely intact and she fought a growing sense of unease as she moved through the rooms. The house had been vacant a long time, according to the barely readable foreclosure note on the front window – why hadn’t it been looted like all the others?

The staircase leading to the upper level continued higher, and after she’d inspected all of the rooms she followed it up, the door at the top opening with a loud creak. In stark contrast to the rest of the house, the attic was empty save an old rotting sofa against the far wall. Clearly from a different era entirely, it spoke to her. Called to her, really, and as she moved closer, images of elegant ball gowns and long, silky gloves flashed through her mind. Two women sitting with drinks in hand and ice around their necks, gossiping with heads bent close together. A couple, her hand held reverently in his as he asked her a very important question. Two neatly pressed children sitting on either side of their nanny as she reads them a story.

Running a hand over the antique fabric, she wondered what it would have been like. Would she have made the same decisions? Angered the same type of man? Given up her life for the freedom to continue breathing?

Dropping her bag on the floor, she sunk onto the now-lumpy seat and watched out the lone window as the sun went down, taking the light with it. Yawning, she pulled her coats tighter around her shoulders and lay down, her back curving perfectly into the sofa’s embrace as she drifted off to sleep.

***

She woke to warmth on her face and birds chattering merrily outside the window. Unwilling to open her eyes just yet, she rubbed her cheek on the soft, slippery fabric and marveled at how lovely it still felt even in poor condition. Then she heard voices approaching – human voices – and her eyes flew open. Someone was in the house. And she was not supposed to be. Sitting up and reaching for her bag, she was across the room before the realization hit her.

This wasn’t the same house. Either that, or she’d been delirious the night before.

Glancing back over her shoulder, she took in the old sofa, no longer old, but beautifully restored as if someone had only just acquired it. Dark walnut bookshelves lined the walls, filled with what appeared to be expensive hardbound volumes. Looking forward, she was faced with an imposing desk made of thick wood that matched the shelves.

The door opened and she held her breath, inwardly cringing at the thought of going to jail – or worse. The man who peered around the door frame was tall and although not exactly classically handsome, attractive enough to catch her attention. She waited for the yelling to begin, but he only studied her with concern.

“We’ve been looking for you, darling. Is everything okay?”

Confused, she hesitated. Darling? She looked closer at his face, worried that there was no spark of recognition firing.

“I…I fell asleep,” she said, lowering her eyes.

That’s when she noticed her shoes. Not the warm, thick and decidedly unattractive boots she’d stolen from an ex-military hobo, but delicate flats that hugged her feet gently without adding any weight. Holding her arms out, she felt faint as she took in the full skirt and light cotton shirt that had somehow replaced her torn jeans and the layers above it.

“You look pale, my dear. Perhaps you should go lie down for awhile. I can see our guests out.”
Lifting her head, she stared at him, wondering if he’d done this to her while she slept. He’d given her a way to escape, but she felt an overwhelming urge to stay by his side. He would take care of her. She wasn’t sure how she knew, but she did. Shaking her head, she forced a smile.

“No, that’s all right. I can come with you.”

He smiled, nodded, took her hand. She followed him into another room, where beautiful women and sharp men danced and laughed and danced some more, just like she’d envisioned earlier. The attic seemed far away, and every second she spent twirling in his arms was bliss. Never had she been so happy.

That night, she lay beside him, tucked against his body after he’d given her more pleasure than she’d known in a long time. As she drifted off, she thought about that poor homeless girl who fell asleep on her couch. It must have all been a horrible dream.

***

Voices were murmuring above her head, and she shivered, the cold burrowing deep into her bones.

“Will she make it?”

“There’s nothing we can do.”

The voices faded away, and she smiled, snuggling into the warm darkness as he pulled her closer.


The Old Sofa is available in digital formats from these online retailers:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords