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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!

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! 😉

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.


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Back to “Normal”

What did I learn on my summer vacation? A few things:

1. Just don’t. I’m really not a “summer vacation” kinda girl. I don’t like traveling in the summer due to the crowds of people, and there’s too much stuff to do outside that makes me feel guilty for not getting it done. A day or two here and there for a single project? Sure. A whole unplanned week to be home by myself? Nope. Bad idea. Works way better in the winter for me.

2. I do best with planned vacations if I’m staying home and just taking a break from work. Vacation to write? Sure. Vacation to clean out my closet or read non-stop for several days in a row? Nice. Vacation with no plans and a conscious effort not to plan anything at all? Major fail. I mostly just stress about not doing anything – not even the fun stuff I want to do. “Aimless” is not a good thing for me…I need a plan, even if it’s just to relax (in a structured way). Just my personality.

That said, I did get a few things done, including starting a new blog for the dogs at LeashCandy.dog. It needs a lot of work yet, and that will probably have to wait until the weather gets colder, but it’s up, and that’s where you’ll find the Friday posts from Mica and Murphy now. I still need to move the subscriptions over there for those who are only subscribed to those posts, and put a subscription form on that site for those who want to keep following their posts, but I’ll have all that done by the end of this week.

I also reworked my morning routine to give me some time to write before work four days a week. It’s not a huge amount of time, but even if it’s just a paragraph or two, it gets the story I’m working on for the day sort of “primed” in my head, so my subconscious can work on it while I’m doing other things throughout the day. I’m hoping this will translate to an easier writing time late at night when I have time to get back at it before bed. We shall see.

I spent some time watching workshop videos by Dean Wesley Smith, and I really need to make time for a few of these a week. I’m going to work it into my schedule – possibly on the weekends, and I think it’s going to help immensely not just with the writing itself, but with my confidence and motivation as well. It already is, truthfully, and I feel more motivated than I have in a long time to get some books finished and out there. Hooray for *that*!

All in all, it wasn’t a bad week. I did a lot of reflecting, and a lot of thinking, and a lot of learning, and it may not have been the most pleasant week in the world, but it was mentally very productive. Now I’m going back to work with a clearer head and better focus, which is going to be very important with some big changes happening there over the next few months (starting this coming week).

So…back to “normal” I go. A very comforting thought after a very non-routine week.

Just Saying No…to a List-Driven Vacation

In four more days, I’ll be “on vacation” for a week. My vacations are often spent at home – I don’t travel much because I’m mostly a homebody (though I do enjoy myself on the rare occasions I leave the city – but I hate the prep it entails, and need a fair amount of recovery time when I get back). My husband will be out of town on his own vacation (playing pool in Vegas), so the dogs and I will be left to our own devices for seven whole days.

It’s gonna be great. 🙂

Normally when I take these vacations, I get excited about all the stuff I can get done. Household projects we never seem to get to, “resets” on things that have just gotten out of hand, or stuff I’ve been working on, but never seem to make any headway with. I make a huge list, and plan every day out to the hour, and by the time the week is done, I’ve gotten quite a bit done, but never as much as I thought I would, and I’m just as tired and in need of “recovery” as I would be if I’d traveled.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been doing the very same thing. I need to get to “this” – but I’ll wait and do it during my vacation. I really should do that, but since I have vacation coming up, might as well do it then. Need to make this and this and this appointment – I should just make them for that week I’m already off work. You get my drift. And see the problem too, I bet.

This weekend I was really gearing up, and sat down to make a list, and…that’s when it hit me. My vacation week does not have to be “pre-loaded”. And it’ll certainly be way more fun and relaxing if it isn’t!

When my husband and I travel, we don’t make big plans for what to do once we are wherever we’re going. Unlike a lot of people, we might have an idea of things we’d like to do, but we pretty much just play it by ear – do what we feel like on any given day, depending on how energetic or tired we feel, we sleep in, and stay out late, and generally have a great, relaxing time. It’s draining for both of us to be around a lot of people for any length of time and my husband loves to just be spontaneous, so we leave the routines behind and just “go feral” for the time we’re gone.

It occurred to me that my “stay-cations” would be far better if I did exactly that. Treated them like an “away” vacation, where I just do what I happen to feel like doing on any given day, and don’t set a strict agenda or force myself to try to get a bunch of things done. If I get stuff done that would normally have to wait, that’s great. If I don’t, well, no big deal – if it’s important, we’ll find time to get it done eventually, and if not…then it’s not important enough for me to bust my butt getting done on vacation time.

If I feel like spending an entire day reading a book (not that the dogs would let me, but just go with it), I do not have to feel guilty in the least for doing so. If I wake up one day and decide I want to clean and reorganize the bathroom, I can do that too – but not because I feel obligated to work on my “list of things that never get done that need to get done while I have time off”. If I wake up and decide to watch three more episodes of Game of Thrones, and then decide I’m tired of sitting so I may as well clean out the shed on the patio – no problem. Maybe I’ll decide an hour later that sitting was way more fun, open a draft in progress, and write until the dogs remind me I need to feed them, and should probably feed myself while I’m at it.

I’m a planner by nature (obviously), and very routine-driven, and the idea of not planning out every second of my vacation for maximum gain strikes me as somewhat irresponsible…maybe even wasteful. So it’s uncomfortable for me to adopt this “just go with the flow” attitude. But I know I’ll be glad I did when my vacation is actually restful and stress-free, rather than busy and packed full of expectations that I can’t possibly meet, ensuring a heavy dose of guilt at the end before I go back to work.

I’m just saying “no” to a list-driven vacation. Which means I should probably think about working the stuff I’ve been “saving up” to do during said vacation into the confines of my normal routines, eh? No reason/excuse to procrastinate now…

Gone to the Dogs: Life’s Little Pleasures

MurphAndHedgeHog

Murphy sez: Hey Mica, that new hedgehog we got is as big as my head. Do you think I should chew his nose off first, or his toes?

Mica sez: I don’t know about you, but I’m going for the stomach. That’s where those weird chattery sounds come from. Not quite a squirrel, but not like a squeak either. What is that, anyways? And are hedgehogs normally that big? I can barely get my mouth around it…

Murphy sez: It sure is fun getting mail, isn’t it? I had that giraffe’s ears and tail off quicker than J could eat dinner. Though she’s slow, so that doesn’t mean much. But still. Got a hole in him already too. I don’t get why J doesn’t want me to eat the stuffing though. Isn’t that what it’s there for?

Mica sez: Yeah, I don’t think so. I don’t know how you can eat that stuff anyways – it’s pretty dry. I just leave it on the floor. Like dry, warm snow. My stomach had enough problems this week, but it’s all J’s fault. Not sure why she thought she could get away without making treats last weekend, but all that freeze-dried meat is kinda rough on the digestive system after awhile. We didn’t even get to walk on Wednesday night ‘cause I was sick! Geez.

Murphy sez: I don’t know why you have such a sensitive tummy, Mica. I can eat anything just fine. Even those bones I found in the street on Tuesday night. It was kind of embarrassing when J pulled them right back out of my throat when we got back on the sidewalk. Sheesh. I was just cleaning up a little. Didn’t even get enough of a taste to tell if it was rabbit or chicken. Huh.

PupJoy_June16

Mica sez: You know you’re not supposed to just eat stuff off the street, Murph. We’re not that desperate, and you never know what you might catch. J says we’re not supposed to eat anything without her permission. But somehow I doubt you’ll remember that the next time a stranger tries to give you treats…

Murphy sez: Stranger, schmanger. If those little girls riding their bikes by last night and callin’ us cute wanted to give me treats, that’s fine by me. I’ll risk it. I’m tough. And so is my tummy!

Hey, what do you think J meant when she held up that bottle out of our Pupjoy box, and said she was gonna take us out on the patio this weekend and make us smell like u-calypt-us and lav-en-dar? Was that cologne? ‘Cause I don’t think I need cologne…

Mica sez: I think she might have been talkin’ about baths, Murph. Honest to goodness baths with water and everything. Which means she’s lost her mind, and we’re gonna have to fight for our lives. Maybe she’ll forget. Or get too busy. I hope she gets too busy.

Murphy sez: Hey – we still don’t really have many pictures for the post this week – and they’re mostly me. What gives? I thought we talked to J about that?

MurphStretch

Mica sez: I think she’s workin’ on it. There’s this thing called Pawscam coming out – it’s new. Cameras for our collars, Murph. She’s gonna order them next week (they go on sale July 5th), and they should be here in September. Then we’ll get to take the pictures – even on our walks! Fun, right?

Murphy sez: But September’s a long ways away – she just needs to get her butt into gear and take more pictures. Or we’ll give *her* a bath. Sheesh.

Mica sez: Yeah, yeah…you’re right. I guess I could cooperate a little more. I don’t really like that flashy thing pointed at my face, but…

Murphy sez: Our fans need us, Mica. Ya gotta cooperate.

Mica sez: Shush, you whipper-snapper. Just ‘cause you got another link added to your prong collar for walks, and you get to leave your legging off for longer times now doesn’t mean you’re all that. Just you wait until I start getting video of you rolling around on the floor like a total weirdo. Then these guys will know what you’re really like.

Murphy sez: A cute and funny cuddle-bug, you mean? Nothin’ wrong with that, Mica. Maybe they’ll give me more treats…

Mica_Murphy


Tune in next week for more Murphy & Mica! Or subscribe to get us in your inbox – use the subscription link in the right sidebar and pick “Gone to the Dogs”. Like these posts? Consider a donation to our favorite charities – the shelters that helped us when we needed it most! 

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Gone to the Dogs: Dog Days of Summer

MicaAhhWeeds

Murphy sez: Sure has been kinda quiet around here lately, hasn’t it Mica? Aside from the squirrels, I mean. They’ve been kinda active. It’s been hot though, and aside from sleepin’ in the sun when J will let me and doin’ our nightly neighborhood patrols, there’s not much to do except chew on bones and sleep. I like bones though, and I like sleep…

Mica sez: But not crickets or ravens, eh Murph? That cricket in the back garden is sure a loud little thing. And you won’t even go out while he’s chirpin’! Then again, you don’t like the dark either, so maybe the cricket just makes it worse. He really is loud. When the back door’s open, you can hear that little fellow anywhere in the house.

Murphy sez: I’m not sure what he looks like, but I don’t want to get anywhere near that cricket. I think if I see him, I’ll eat him. That oughta shut him up. If J would let me catch those pesky squirrels and the mourning doves that seem to be everywhere, she wouldn’t hardly have to feed me. Win-win, right Mica?

Mica sez: Yeah…I feel the same way about ducks. But J must have her reasons. She’s probably afraid you’ll catch something from those wild animals. I notice you didn’t mention the crows though. Then again, we don’t normally see crows on our walks, so maybe you forgot about ‘em?

Murphy sez: Hard to forget about those big black birds, but no, I don’t see those outside. J decided to watch Game of Thrones, and they use ravens (of all things) to communicate! Can you imagine? They sound horrible, and I really don’t like them at all. But I don’t really like the sound of people yelling and swords clashing either. Don’t know what she sees in that show, but we’re only on the first season. At least she watches some on her laptop with her headphones. I think she should do that more often.

Murphy_Tongue

Mica sez: You know they’re planning to watch a movie with a lot of explosions in it on the fourth of July, right? It’s to cover up the ‘splosions here in town, but it’s still gonna be kind of loud. Or really loud. But no ravens, I don’t think. And no swords either. So you might get lucky with that one.

Murphy sez: Game of NOISE, they should call it. Sheesh. Kinda like all the car doors that will be slamming outside with the neighbor’s garage sale this weekend. I suppose you’ll be barking at that, like you did with the kid who wasn’t tall enough to read the “Please do not knock” sign on the door earlier this week. That one gave B a good scare, ‘cause J wasn’t home yet, and I had ta make sure you behaved myself. That was a little tense, but I’m glad you decided not to fight me on it this time.

Mica sez: Yeah, yeah. I backed down and let you have all the fun so B could safely open the door. The kid still had to wait for J to get his ball out of the backyard later, ‘cause B was a bit frazzled and annoyed by that point, but no one got hurt, so that’s the important part.

Murphy sez: You think J will take that sign off the door now? I mean, we did the right thing, and didn’t kill each other…

Mica sez: Somehow I don’t think that sign’s coming down for awhile. J says it’s actually kind of handy to keep the riff-raff away. Except it would be nice for the mail man to be able to knock again. On account of he’s bringing our new Pupjoy delivery sometime this week…

Murphy sez: Yay for new toys! I saw they brought some home from Costco last night too. Wonder when we’ll get those? This weekend? I just tossed another dragon behind B’s chair. Do you think we’ll get bully sticks Saturday morning too? Or bones this week? Saturday mornings are so fun. I can’t wait!

Mica sez: It is pretty fun getting something new to chew on, isn’t it Murph?

Murphy sez: Hey Mica – where are the pictures we’re supposed to put in this post? I think we’re about done, but I don’t see any ill-u-stra-shuns to add.

Mica sez: J was totally slacking this week, so we’ll have to throw in a few old ones. But she’s working on a way we might be able to take our own pictures and videos, so that would be cool, right? Maybe in a few weeks. We’ll just have to remind her next week. We need new pics for the blog, J!

Murphy sez: Oh man…I am all over that. Just gimme a camera!

DogBacks


Tune in next week for more Murphy & Mica! Or subscribe to get us in your inbox – use the subscription link in the right sidebar and pick “Gone to the Dogs”. Like these posts? Consider a donation to our favorite charities – the shelters that helped us when we needed it most! 

Murphy’s shelter: Donate to The Rimrock Humane Society
Mica’s shelter: Donate to Help for Homeless Pets

Walk for HHP or your local shelter with the Walk for a Dog app!

On Beautiful Things

I took some pictures late last week to illustrate today’s post, and then decided at the last minute (12:12am, to be exact), not to use them. The fact is, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, and the things I think are beautiful, you may or may not, and if you do, it may well be for an entirely different reason than mine.

I started thinking about things I consider “beautiful” and why when I was admiring some pottery at our local renaissance fair a week ago or so. I was thinking about how the different artist’s work affected me differently, and some “spoke” to me more or less than others. I have some theories that still need to percolate before I try to express them, but the overreaching truth is, it matters who handles the clay. And that’s not to say any of it is better or worse than any other piece, but merely to say that what makes a piece of pottery beautiful to me personally is more than anything I could actually describe satisfactorily.

I have been trying for days to put words to what called me to the tiny little brown pot/vase that now sits on my desk at work. I could tell you that it’s the lines of the piece, the gentle curve that leads gracefully up to a longish neck, or the glaze that somehow came out in the subtlest of pinstripes that give the piece dimension and movement. I could even tell you it’s the imperfections, the little mistakes that maybe happened during firing or when something was jarred in transit and marred the glaze.

The fact is though, it’s all and none of those things all at once that I find attractive about that tiny little pot. There is a quality about it that maybe wouldn’t draw the attention of anyone else, but every time I look at it, it’s almost mesmerizing to me. Does it have that effect on other people? Probably. But certainly not all.

This past Saturday, my mom and I were perusing the local Strawberry Festival vendors, and there was an older lady there selling her tole painting pieces. Most of it was stuff that…looked to me like most other chairs and tables and platters and such, but then on our second pass through, I saw a wooden box that for whatever reason, I found incredibly, undeniably attractive. There’s really nothing special about the pattern or painting, but I find it soothing and restful to look at, and it puts me in a calm, relaxed state of mind just to see it. I bought it, of course, and my mom brought up the fact that sometimes, we just have to surround ourselves with things we find beautiful, even if we have no other practical use for them (like my tiny pot – I’ll use the wooden box for stamps).

I don’t really have a point to all this, but it did make me think about what we perceive as “beautiful” or “attractive” vs what other people see. The filters we all bring to the table with us are so incredibly complex that it’s amazing any of us ever agree on anything as far as beautiful and/or attractive.

In any case, I’ll be writing a book this fall where beauty and what it is is the central theme, and I can’t help but wonder whether my character and I will agree on what is beautiful and what is…not. It should be a very interesting and intense journey we take together…


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Excerpt Day: Sleep With Me

Today’s excerpt takes place at a tropical resort, where the weather is exactly the opposite of our weather here in Montana today (18 inches of snow on the ground and cold, thank you very much). Enjoy!


SWM_400

Sleep With Me (excerpt)

“Wine me, dine me, shag me…then leave. That’s the deal.”

Katherine knew she should smile or maybe flip her hair and bat her eyes, but the man she’d approached at the bar looked experienced enough to know what she was asking for. Voices murmured around them as she waited for the answer.

“Shag you?” he repeated, the corners of his lips curving up. “Does anyone actually say that anymore?”

She rolled her eyes. “It’s better than the alternative. Are you in or not? Because I have a prescription to fill and I need to find a guy to fill it by tomorrow.”

The man chuckled. “You have a prescription for sex? And any guy will do? Then why me?”

“Well…I find you physically attractive,” Katherine said with a shrug. “And you also look like the kind of guy who doesn’t mind a one-night stand, which is basically what we’re discussing. I don’t want an attachment, I don’t need to find true love, and I don’t need a guy who wants my number. I just want drinks, dinner and sex. Then we go our separate ways. But apparently I misjudged you, so I apologize for interrupting your evening.”

She turned away, scanning the room for any other potentially suitable candidates. Who would have thought this assignment would be so difficult? Candace was so going to pay when she got home. Take a vacation, she’d said. Get laid. Nothing like a good orgasm to take care of that whole not-sleeping issue.

Right. Katherine wondered when her friend-slash-therapist had tried to get laid last. After being mistaken for a call girl twice and now turned down for…well, she wasn’t exactly sure why she’d been rejected this last time…she was about ready to go back to her little bungalow on the beach and stay there for the rest of the week.

A jolt of awareness shot up her arm as warm fingers closed around her left wrist. Instinctively she pulled away, but her captor wouldn’t let go. She looked down into her most recent target’s amused emerald eyes.

“Hang on a sec,” he said, finally releasing her wrist. “I didn’t say I wouldn’t do it, I just wanted to know why me. When were you thinking this little date would occur? And why drinking and dinner first, if all you want is sex?”

Katherine was all too aware that it had gotten quiet in the bar. Apparently their little conversation was garnering a lot of attention – something she really didn’t want.

“You know what?” She moved a step back from the bar, keeping her wrists out of reach. “Forget it. It was a stupid idea. I’ll…um…see you around. Or not. A girl can hope.” She walked as quickly as she could while maintaining a cool facade to the front door and pushed out into the humid island evening. Slipping her shoes off, she hooked the straps with a finger and set off towards the beach.

She’d barely begun to feel the sand between her toes when her mystery man ran up beside her.

“Giving up so easily?” he asked, keeping pace as she kept walking. “Or just looking for a new pool to choose from?”

She rolled her eyes, doing her best to ignore the distinctly male scent that was far too enticing. “Why do you care? You made it pretty clear you were more amused than interested, so just forget I said anything. I withdraw the proposal. Leave me alone.”

He chuckled, the warm sound sending an unwelcome tingle up her spine. “But then I wouldn’t get to see the guy who finally agrees to…ah…fill your prescription. Who’s your doctor, anyways? I think I could use a prescription like that.”

Katherine stopped, letting out a long sigh as she watched the huge sun slip far too quickly below the horizon. She turned to the man beside her and frowned.

“What is your name?” she asked, irritated that she didn’t already know.

He grinned, holding out his hand. “David Patton. And you are?”

“Katherine Gibson. Nice to meet you,” she said automatically, reaching out to grasp his palm. She barely suppressing a gasp of awareness when her skin contacted his, and yanked her hand back before she could stop herself. The lights from the waterfront bars cast a dark orange glow over everything, but she could still see his amusement in the dim light.

“Listen David. You’ve had your fun, I’ve embarrassed myself and I don’t know about you, but I’m tired. So I’m going back to my hut now. Alone. You have a good evening.”

She brushed by him and continued on her way, hoping her burning cheeks had been mostly shadowed. Half-expecting him to show up at her side again, she was inexplicably annoyed when he didn’t.

“Hey Kat!”

She cringed at the nickname she’d hated since grade school and kept walking.

“Meet me here tomorrow night at six,” David called out. It was a statement, not a question, but that didn’t surprise her from a guy like that. She considered it for a second before she yelled over her shoulder to him.

“Sorry, I’m busy. Thanks anyways though.” With a small, hopefully dismissive wave she continued on down the beach to the hut she’d rented.

Once inside, she flopped down on the bed and wished she hadn’t paid up front. The whole vacation had been Candace’s idea, and her friend had pushed for the non-refundable advance payment option. Probably because she knew Katherine would be ready to leave after the first night.

Rolling over, she picked up the phone and dialed room service, ordering dinner for delivery. Maybe tomorrow she could find a tour to take or something interesting.

Something that didn’t involve men.


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On Brain Drain, Craft vs. Art, & Mountains

If you saw the post-that-was-not-a-post I put up yesterday, then you know that while I was off work for the holiday, I was finishing up one of the three outstanding drafts I want to get done before NaNoWriMo starts on November first (now two, thankyouverymuch). I was especially motivated to get this particular draft done for my horror/suspense alter-ego because it’s scheduled for release on Halloween, and with time for editing and formatting, etc, I’m cutting it pretty close. I was supposed to have it done last weekend, but decided to add another plot twist to the end that required extra words/writing time. And then even this weekend as I was writing, I twisted it yet again. Such is the way a pantser works – my plotting often happens right in the middle of scenes, which is a fun way to work, but not necessarily the most efficient.

It’s hard to describe what my brain feels like for the rest of the day when I finish a draft. It’s difficult to really do much thinking about anything, because there’s this…void in my head that makes me feel like every thought is sucked into a black hole as soon as it’s formed, and I can’t quite hang onto it long enough to actually process or dwell on it. Just writing this post is an exercise in extreme determination. I tried several times earlier tonight (it’s around 12:30am on Tues as I’m writing this), but my mind just couldn’t handle the focus required (and it’s still fighting me – crazy).

Once I sleep, I’ll be fine. It’s like my brain just needs a hard reset before it can fully recover from that intense “zone” I get into when I’m nearly at the end of a draft. I feel fortunate that I’m only down for the rest of the day, and not weeks like some writers are.

In any case, as I was finishing that draft this weekend (and surfing social media on breaks), I came to some realizations about the craft of writing vs. the art of stories, and which might be the weaker link(s) for me and how to fix it/them. My brain being the swiss cheese that it is, I’m not coherent enough to discuss it now, but I think there’s probably enough material there for a weekly discussion feature, either here, or over at The Drafting Desk. Your thoughts? Any opinions?

Finally, as I was writing I was thinking about some different discussion topics for Alex’s blog about certain parts of the story – like setting. And thinking about the setting for that story got me thinking about my settings for other stories, which made me realize that I haven’t been up in the mountains for awhile. Like, years. I was born here in Montana, and escaping the heat of the city by heading up into the mountains was just what we did in the summer. Aside from church camp up on the Boulder River every summer when I was a kid, my parents used to take us hiking and backpacking for family vacations. I remember one backpacking trip particularly well – I couldn’t tell  you where we were, but I can still see the multi-colored shale cliffs towering over an impossibly blue river and a dead elk on the trail with bear tracks nearby. I even had my own backpack that trip – not just a knapsack like you toss over one shoulder in college, but a big, bonafide, steel-framed pack I was pretty proud of that year. No, I don’t remember the year, or how old I was at the time. I’ve never been good at keeping memories on a timeline.

And then came adulthood and responsibilities and laptops and yes, laziness.

Long story short (because I need to sleep), I realized that I miss the mountains. I miss hiking on rough trails, hearing the wind in the trees, and the insects buzzing. The sound of a natural waterfall and the river it flows into.  But apparently I’ve become a city-slicker…it’s been years since I’ve been anywhere even remotely wild.

I think next summer I’ll have to fix that. I’m more than happy to skip tent camping, as sleeping on the ground has never been something I liked even as a child, but there are gorgeous mountains just 20-30 minutes from where I live, and plenty of good hiking trails. I should probably warn my husband, so we can both start getting in shape now…but next summer, there will be hiking.

Sometimes, a girl’s just gotta reconnect with her roots. Doesn’t hurt a writer to get a refresher course on how things look and smell and feel and taste either.


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