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A Story of Adaptation


As I mentioned in my resolutions post, I’m focusing on short and micro-fiction so far this year. I’m also working on creating a daily writing habit, so 50 words per (week)day is my minimum. I’m quite enjoying it even though most of the daily words aren’t going anywhere, and others need to be fleshed out into longer short stories.

But I have written a few things that I really like as micro-stories, and those, I’m turning into exclusive bookmarks and cards for my new online shop. I wouldn’t sell them as just a single tiny story, of course, but packaged into a handy bookmark (I love the prototype I’ve been using) or a card to give to someone else? That seems like the perfect use for these bite-sized bits of fiction.

As a bonus, it allows me to explore my love of paper crafts and it’s starting to make me more excited about sharing my stories with the world again.

To start this endeavor, I used a little story I call “How it Ends/How it Ended” to create a batch of simple bookmarks with a cover, two pages, and a back cover bound by a grommet at the top that allows the pages to swing out for reading. It took a bit of finagling to get things formatted and positioned correctly, but I’m really quite pleased with how they turned out in the end, and I’ll be making more bookmarks with different micro-stories throughout the year.

While I was making those, I had an idea for a card to go with the story. I think we’ve all been in a position at one time or another of seeing or running into a person within our normal sphere of life that we never quite talk to or chat with, but it feels like we know…or should know them.

Well, “How it Ends” is one of those “missed connections” stories. So I’m creating cards that read “I Think We Should Meet” on the front, and then when you open the card, you’ll read that little story, and then under the story on the right side of the card, it simply says, “Hi”. A little gift to tell someone that they’re someone you’d like to know – or at least like to talk to once in your life.

I love this on several levels…it’s self-publishing at the smallest denominator, it allows me to create both a story and a physical, hand-crafted object, and it’s something I think some people might actually find both entertaining and useful. I’ll be playing with different types of bindings and formats over time, which will be a lot of fun.

It’s allowing me to write, finish, and publish on a micro-level, using the smaller bits of time and mental energy I have available after the intensity of the day job.

Adapt and change – that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? With my current day job, I simply don’t have the mental capacity to write and publish larger works on a regular basis (though I am still working on them when I do have more energy). By changing how I work and what I’m working on, I’m enabling myself to still do what I love, on a different scale, and when my circumstances change again (eventually I’ll be able to retire), I can change up my focus and processes again.

An important life-lesson for me to remember, as I tend to think that if I can’t do exactly what I want, how I want to do it, then I should just not do that thing.

I need to be more flexible, and this is a great step in the right direction, methinks.

Have you adapted a process in order to continue doing something when your circumstances changed, just in a different way? Share your story (here, on social media, or if you’re reading via email, feel free to hit “reply”)! I’d love to hear it!

Oh! And while we’re on the subject of change – the Brazen Snake Books site has a completely new look! I’m working on incorporating a store there, so there are several links that don’t work simply because I haven’t built the store out yet. But it’s coming! Check it out if you’d like, and let me know what you think (or if you run into anything that doesn’t seem to work).

That’s it for this week! If you have a favorite thing to share, or want to recommend a book, TV show, video or podcast, comment below, email me at jamie@jamiedebree.com, or catch up with me on Facebook or Instagram.


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The Fright Night Train to NaNoWriMo


Boo!
Happy Halloween! As you read this (if you read it Tuesday the 31st), I’ll be frantically scurrying around finishing up the prep for our Halloween yard haunt. Or handing out glowing bags of toxic waste (okay, candy, but the bags will be glowing) in our bright yellow hazmat suits (thank goodness they don’t breathe – it’ll be chilly out there this year). We’re doing a Radioactive theme, so UV lights and glowing slime are the main attractions. Just the thing to make our zombie baby crew happy. I’m not sure the skeletons are all that impressed, but the campers and banjo players seem content enough.


Fingers crossed the slime turns out. As I write this, it’s still not made, and I only have internet recipes and a bunch of ingredients waiting for that sweet, sweet chemical reaction. We shall see. I really should have bought more blacklights. And tonic water. Hmm.


I’m planning to create a scrapbook layout in my journal to commemorate the event with photos, so I’ll post a pic of that online once I have it done. This coming weekend, probably.


Next Stop: The Land of Writing Madness
Wednesday is the first day of November, which is also the first day of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or “NaNo” for short). If you’ve been reading here long, you’ve heard of it – I’ve participated on and off since 2004 – and I used to win (write 50,000 words in a month) regularly when I first started, though not so much the last few times I participated. Tempest and Desert Heat were both NaNo novels, as were several that were never published.


This year, I’m getting back to the keyboard with a fictional memoir/story prequel to the book I’m currently working on, in order to establish the backstory I need for my current novel draft already in progress (I know that might sound a bit convoluted, but it makes sense to me). If it turns out to be a decent draft, I’ll clean it up and publish it. If not, I’ll still end up with the backstory I need, and hopefully a much better daily writing habit than I currently have (and much faster than the 250 words a day I’m doing now).


Do I know what’s in the story yet? Um, no. That’s the whole point – Madeline Hunter needs to tell me her story, so I can tell her great, great granddaughter what she went through, so that Lauren and her daughter Maddie (named for Madeline) can make it through their own story. While I know some of the highlights (and low-lights) of Madeline’s story, I need all the juicy details that one can only get directly from the character as she’s moving through life while I watch and type.


I’ll be posting excerpts every Friday of my writing for that week throughout the month, so check back then (or watch your email/social media) for those posts if you’re interested in following along.


Will you be discovering someone’s story this month?


Recommendation(s)
Head over to the NaNoWriMo site at nanowrimo.org, and check it out! Even if you’re not normally a writer, you can be in November! My husband participates in NaNo whenever I do, and just deletes his drafts after…I don’t even get to see them. So, don’t be afraid, jump in and give it a try!


Already signed up for NaNo? My username is “outofwords” on the site (I don’t know if that profile link will work or not, but you can try it, if you’d like). Look me up – let’s connect!

That’s it for this week! If you have a favorite thing to share, or want to recommend a book, TV show, video or podcast, comment below, email me at jamie@jamiedebree.com, or catch up with me on Facebook or Instagram.


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The County Fair

The beginning of the end of summer in my hometown (and maybe yours too) is marked by the annual County Fair. Ours is a bit hoity-toity in that it’s called “MontanaFair”, rather than “Yellowstone County Fair”, which means people often are confused when they learn it’s not the actual state fair. I suspect the initial organizers probably had high aspirations for it, considering we are the largest county in Montana, though not home to the state capitol (which is Helena).

I also suspect they were trying to find something shorter than “Yellowstone County” to print on banners and tickets, which is understandable.

In any case, a great many of my childhood summers were partially spent not just attending the fair, but also preparing exhibits and occasionally animals to show. I was a 4H kid, so everything from my first dog to model rockets to baked goods to rabbits to sewing was “fair” game for contest entries. I spent many long nights before the entry deadlines finishing projects, sometimes not finishing until an hour or so before they had to be dropped off for judging.

It was challenging and fun, but also very…stressful a lot of the time, and while I’ve toyed with the idea of entering items in the fair as an adult, I’ve so far resisted the idea due to the inevitable late nights and stressful days required to finish projects in time to meet the deadline.

I mean, if I were organized and disciplined about it, it wouldn’t have to be a rush-rush thing. Alas, in all my years of fair entries, not once did I manage to learn that particular lesson.

But 4H entries weren’t the only reason to go to the fair. There was the carnival, and the games we knew we couldn’t win (but seriously, how could I resist throwing money away trying to win a Spuds McKenzie plush (I never did win)?! The rodeo and so many tight-jean-cowboys strutting in fancy boots & hats. And when I got older, the concerts and just walking the midway with my buddies to check out the boys.

I loved the lights and the action and the August night air, the smell of corn dogs and cotton candy, and the feeling that something different and magical and crazy might happen as we strolled under the midway lights and waved our hands in the air on rides.

Once, when I was in college, I even left a friend’s wedding in the state just south of us to come back to a night at the fair, and I brought a very handsome fellow-guest back with me. It was just after the reception, I was the maid of honor (though I had no idea what that was actually supposed to mean until years later – I never was much of a “wedding” girl), and she never spoke to me again, understandably so.

I was an old soul even then, and not normally prone to spontaneous acts, but the stupidity of youth and the intoxicating scent of certain men still caught me in their charms occasionally.

Needless to say, the fair was always the culmination of hard work and anticipation, as well as the promise that the heat of summer was on its way out and crinkly leaves would be floating on the breeze again soon. I loved it, and while we’ve skipped the last few years for practical reasons (okay, this year we’re skipping because we’re just so tired of the heat), I hope to make it back again eventually.

I think the ending and beginning nature of the annual fair is partially why I chose that scene as a starting point for Lauren in the draft I’m working on (I really need to figure out a working title for that). She’s ending one portion of her life and starting another, and the county fair is her marker for the intersection.

Is there a local fair where you live? Do you go? What’s your favorite part?


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Patches, Pins, Weddings & Work Clothes

Did you have a denim jacket customized with pins or patches or paint (or all of the above) when you were a teen? I did. I still do, actually. And I’m about to make another one, though this time it’ll be a black bomber jacket I’m embellishing.

Hubby wants to dress up as The Joker for the local art museum’s Halloween masquerade this year, so naturally I’m going as my favorite super-villainess, Harley Quinn. I was excited about the idea, but not about the whole suicide squad look (can you say “overdone”?), so I decided since it’s a masquerade party and a dressy one at that, I’d do a “she tried but didn’t quite make it” look that sort of bridges the traditional Harley and the newer-style Harley. Needless to say, there’s a ruffled skirt and combat boots involved, as well as a red sequin t-shirt and the aforementioned black bomber jacket.

It’s really just a great excuse to customize a light jacket for myself. I need a sort of “in between” jacket for spring/fall, and a light bomber will be perfect. But why stop there when I can put Harley, Joker and Poison Ivy patches and pins on it here and there to spruce it up a bit?

Now you might be thinking, “aren’t you a little old for that kind of thing?” And you would be…well, wrong. Because no one should ever be too old to celebrate things they love. And a fun Harley Quinn jacket is no different than a 40-something person wearing a sports-themed jacket of some sort. Actually, I’d argue the Harley will be far more fun than my Broncos or Boise State sweatshirts, and I like both of those (even though I don’t watch football anymore).

Why did I stop wearing my denim decorated jacket? Mostly because the fabric paint dinosaurs on the back weren’t/aren’t really “me” anymore (well, and I went through a “have to be a grown-up” phase that I think we all at least try to outgrow as we get older, because it’s boring). But I still love that jacket, and enjoy looking at all the buttons I collected back then. It was fun, and all of my friends thought it was pretty cool too.

So I spent a fair amount of time shopping for the Harley stuff this past weekend, and late Sunday night, the hubby and I remembered that we have to go to a wedding this coming weekend. A quick glance through my closet tells me I really don’t own anything “wedding-worthy” anymore (I have work, casual, and costume clothing). So it may just be colored jeans, a nice shirt and a professional jacket. Boring, but sometimes that’s not a bad thing. Or rather, that’s the appropriate thing. *sigh*

Speaking of boring, I’ve been wearing a lot of cardigans to work lately (keeps me warm, keeps the tattoos more or less covered when I want them to be), and I’m sick of them. I’m thinking maybe it’s time to break out the actual jackets with my jeans. Try something different. Look a little nicer, in a casual sort of way.

Heck, maybe I’ll even start wearing a necklace and/or dangly earrings here and there. Maybe it’s time to get a little crazy.

Or just…you know. Less boring.


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: I’ve been pretty good about getting to bed on time, but due to some vitamin changes, haven’t been sleeping well.
Hopefully everything will be balanced out again soon so I can sleep.
Goals check-up: No check-in (because I totally forgot), but I’ve been budgeting and overspending and acknowledging so I can re-budget, so semi-progress, anyways.

Writer’s notes for this week

Vacation Time – Installing Updates

About that missing post last week…yeah. My weekend got away from me and then before I knew it was happening, so did the rest of the week. It happens.

But this week…this week, I’m on vacation from the day job. And as I determined through a largely unscientific trial and error period, I do better with purposeful, scheduled vacations rather than the “anything goes” type. So I have a plan, and I’m excited to get started on it tomorrow. It’s gonna be a good week, methinks.

I really need to do some basic house upkeep, and I want to take a good chunk of time for writing, some for reading, and this time I even built in a short little afternoon out-of-town trip. Here’s the basic outline:

Monday: Write 1500 words and clean off the long counter in the kitchen (so I can find/use my crockpots again, and to make nightly maintenance/cleaning easier at the tea station). In the evening, crochet boot cuffs for a friend.

Tuesday: Write 1500 words and bake some goodies for Wednesday.  Watch some youtube videos on replacing bathtub faucet washers. Think I might watch Smurfs: The Lost Village too (been wanting to do that, and it’s on Netflix). And in the evening, crochet a small Christmas gift.

Wednesday: Write 1500 words and go visit my grandma for tea and goodies in the afternoon (Just shy of 100 miles away – road trip! Back in time for dinner.).

Thursday: Write 1500 words, clean out the basement bathroom (don’t ask) and replace the toilet innards so it’s usable again. For evening, start a small knitted gift.

Friday: Write 1500 words and take apart the upstairs tub faucet to replace washers or whatever I need to do to stop the damn thing from dripping night and day, day and night (I can hear it in my office and every time I pass that room. It’s been driving me *insane* for months now, literally – it *has* to stop!). Finish knitted gift in the evening.

So, if everything goes well, I should end the week with 7500 new words written, a reorganized and more usable/easily maintainable kitchen counter, a nice visit with my grandma, and two bathrooms that function as they should again (and cost way less in water and personal sanity). Not to mention several crochet projects done and ready to pass along or wrap up for gifts, some comics caught up on and at least one movie I want to see, watched.

It’s going to be very, very cool. And all very doable in the time allotted (should be time to spare with most of it, though plumbing issues often take longer than they should, unfortunately), leaving me bits and pieces of time for reading comics & watching movies.

I’ve also been working on revamping my morning and nightly routines a little, and I’ll keep working on that (I’ll keep to my normal sleep/wake routines pretty much all week, with the exception of *not* getting up early on Tuesday). And we’ve been tweaking our eating habits a bit too – refining portion sizes and ratios, so we’ll keep working on that as well. But I’d be doing those anyways, so they don’t really count as “vacation” projects, aside from being able to tweak my routines without repercussions if they set me back a little timewise while I’m figuring things out.

I know this doesn’t sound very “vacation-y”, but it’s all things I really, really want to do and can’t ever seem to find the time for. So this is stress relief for me – fixing little everyday things that drive me nutty on a daily or almost-daily basis. Plus visiting my grandma in her small, quiet town, where I can pretty much guarantee at least one rousing game of Scrabble will take place along with our tea, cookies & scones. I might even load up some podcasts to listen to on the way and back, if I can figure out how without too much trouble.

Oh…and Thursday or Friday I’m gonna go talk to my tattoo artist about my next tattoo (to be scheduled around my birthday in January). I have two ideas to give him, so we’ll see which one he finds more appealing to work on first, and go from there. Something a bit less serious and more comic-ish this time. A fun birthday gift to myself.

So. Anyone else doing anything fun, exciting, or just plain productive this week?

Housework, NaNo Update & Other Stuff

*yawn*

It’s Sunday night as I write this, and I am *tired*. I planned to put away Halloween yesterday, and just…didn’t. I mostly sat around and thought about doing stuff, with the exception of going grocery shopping and then out to dinner and a movie with my husband (Thor: Ragnorok – very fun, can’t wait for the next one!).

In any case, that meant today was the day to do “all the things”, including all my housework (which I was already behind on from last weekend) and putting as much Halloween away as I could, given the snow outside. But with the extra hour (I do love fall-back-to-standard-time), I got up earlier and subsequently finished earlier, which is nice because I’ll be able to get to bed on time (which almost never happens on Sunday nights).

Yes, I should have been writing. All weekend. My NaNo word count so far is a measly 1700 words…which is about what I should have for one entire day. But my house was a wreck from all the festivities last week, and there was no way I could focus without doing something about that.

Why is my word count so low, you ask? Well, I got a decent start on Wednesday, but not fast enough. Thursday I thought I was doing well, but I ended up starting my writing session late, and I’m just not willing to give up sleep this time around. So I went to bed. And Friday was a horrible Tuesday-clone all the way around, so I honestly just didn’t feel much like writing. Or anything else, for that matter.

I want to write this story…badly. And when I am working on it, it’s flowing really well – better than any other story I’ve written so far. I think it’s due to the fact that I know so much of the backstory. It really makes everything, including the character motivations, more clear in my head. I think this coming week the word count will go better, or I hope it will, anyways.

But this time, I’m not willing to give up sleep, or health, or my normal priorities just to make a specific daily/monthly word count happen. I’ve done it before, and while I could do that again, it’s just not worth it to me. I do have this coming Friday off work though (in observance of Veteran’s Day), which means I’ll be able to work on the story on and off all day (bliss!). And since I got most of the Halloween stuff put away today, I should be able to grab a few longer writing sessions next Saturday and Sunday as well.

So, way too early to give up on NaNo. Plenty of time and opportunities to raise the word count without compromising my health-related priorites.

Of course, there are some other things I’d like to do this month, like cleaning up that old sewing machine and getting it running, and starting some knit and crocheted Christmas gifts. Maybe this week will be the week I get my schedule together and figure out how to work on those at the same time I’m working on the NaNo novel. Wouldn’t that be cool?!

I live in hope.

Now, since I have everything all wrapped up early for once, and I have an hour until bedtime…maybe I can make that word count a little more respectable before I sleep. To everyone else out there “writing the good write”…many words to you!

 

Holidays, Book Inventory, Sleep, & Tattoos

Today is a federal holiday, which means I am not at work. Call it Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day as you like (or Thanksgiving in Canada – Happy Turkey Day, Canadian peeps!) – I’m happy enough to stay home either way.

I have some editing I want to get done…on paper, no less. So that will take up part of the day. I need to catch up on the food prep I didn’t get done this past weekend too. Breakfast burrioes, yogurt & dog treats all need to be made.

I also want to start inventorying the books in my office bookcases. I have three tall bookshelves at the moment, but my husband is building me a really nice wall unit that will have four bookcases on top of four sets of drawers below, and in the middle (two on each side) a charging station/small desk area where the new printer and all chargable devices will sit to juice up.

I’d like to put all of the books into an inventory program I bought for that specific purpose, and moving them to new shelves seems like a good time to reorganize and clean out the copies I don’t want any longer. It’ll take me longer than a day, so might as well get started while I have a little extra time. I need to clean off all the little knick-knacks that accumulate in front of the books too (just me? Really?), and find another place for my porcelain doll collection (currently on top of the old bookshelves). Some of that is on the agenda for today as well. I can’t sit all day, but I can’t be in constant motion, either, so having different tasks will satisfy that need for variety.

On sleeping: as it turns out, getting more sleep does leave me clearer-headed. Unfortunately, it does not make me want to move any faster late at night when I should be extricating myself from the couch/cuddling dogs to get the kitchen cleaned up and get to my office to write.

But, new habits and routines take time, so this week, I’ll just plug along trying to stick to the same routine. Hopefully it’ll click eventually if I just keep going. I did okay getting to sleep on time for the first few days, but by the end of the week, I was reading later and sleeping later and not hitting my targets, or feeling rested. It’s been hard to stay asleep too – I’ve been waking up earlier (at my “old normal” time), and then going back to sleep. Though this morning I woke up closer to the “new normal” time, so…progress?

At least I’m getting more sleep than I was, so hopefully it’ll turn into more deep sleep one of these days.

I did get some new words in on my novel drafts last week, and bought a new printer so I can edit on paper. This week’s writing update is over on the writing blog, if you’re interested in more details on that.

And I stopped at the tattoo shop this past Saturday to show my artist how the smoke-filler in my sleeve turned out, and he wants to add some more (I was hoping he would). So I have an appointment for Thursday at 1pm. Can’t wait to see how it looks after this next session! I think the extra filler will really make it look more “complete”.

After that heals, I’ll get a video/pictures of the whole thing. And then we can discuss the different pieces/parts, and how they ended up plotting the backstory of the novel I’ll be working on starting next month, for those who might be interested.

Now it’s time to make another cup of tea, throw open the blinds, wave my husband off to work and get going on the first editing session for today…

Serial Story: Don’t Look Away, Ch. 34 (Final)

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!


Don’t Look Away
Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1
Chapter 34 (Final)

The next morning Shelley woke to someone pounding on her front door. She groaned and just barely refrained from telling whoever it was to go away in rather colorful terms. She’d been up long past midnight shuttling her things in from the car and digging out necessities like blankets and the tea kettle, counting on the fact that she could set her own schedule now.

Or so she’d thought.

She sat up and shoved her feet into slippers, thankful she’d collapsed in her sweats and t-shirt so she didn’t have to try to find her robe. Whoever it was knocked again, and she stood up, yawned, and made her way to the front door, only stubbing her toe once on a box.

Pulling it open a crack, she peered out, squinting at the bright daylight. It took a few seconds to register the face peering back at her.

“Dillon?”

He smiled and held up both hands – a keyring with two keys on it in one, and a brown paper bag in the other. “I have gifts. Can I come in?”

Stepping back, she opened the door wide and wished like hell she’d taken a peek in the mirror. Or at least pulled her hair back. It was probably everywhere, and the thought of how she must look made her blush.

“Of course…please. I don’t have much furniture yet, but there’s a bench in the kitchen.”

She closed the door and followed as he zig-zagged through the boxes and piles until he found both the kitchen and the built-in breakfast nook. Sliding in on one side of the bench, he put the bag and keys on the table, then unzipped his jacket and pulled out two bottles of plain iced tea and set them out as well.

“Wow.” Shelley sat down on the bench opposite him. “Those are some big pockets to hold iced tea bottles. Thank you. I found the kettle last night, but haven’t unpacked the tea just yet.”

“I figured.” He opened the bag and pulled out two napkins, placing one in front of each of them, and then brought out two of the most delicious looking Danishes Shelley had ever seen. “Mom told me you stopped by yesterday, and said you’d bought this place. Said your car was full, but that you were alone. I thought I’d drop by and see if you needed help. And also give you these.” He pushed the keys toward her. “She told me what she said to you. I’m sorry. She shouldn’t have treated you like that, and I told her so. Those are for your new PO box. You can just leave the rent in the box, next time you go into town.”

“It’s okay – I understand.” Shelley took a bite of her Danish – possibly the best she’d ever tasted. “Dillon, I’m sorry–”

He shook his head, held up one hand while he finished his own bite. “No apologies necessary. Like I told Mom, you had a lot happen to you, and so did I, and you needed space to deal with that. It’s okay. I was angry at first, but I get it. I needed some space to work things out myself.”

“So you’re not mad?” Shelley didn’t know whether to believe him or not. He seemed fine, but it wasn’t a small thing she’d done. “I want to make things right between us. I…” She wasn’t sure how to say what she felt. “I mean, if you’re still–”

He reached across the table and took her hand. “I am. And I’m glad you are. But you didn’t have to move all the way out here – we could have figured something out if you wanted to stay in the city.” There was a teasing note in his voice, and she smiled, relieved on so many levels that she suddenly felt lighter than she had in weeks.

“I needed a change – a big one. I really didn’t like my old job, and I’m excited about freelancing and setting my own schedule. I was tired of all the people and bustle, and I’ve been wanting something quieter for awhile now. Tabitha moved back in with her mother for the time being, so she can finish her therapy, so she wasn’t coming back, and I figured this place would be as good as any to start a new life, so to speak.”

Dillon nodded, still holding her hand. “How is Tabitha? I take it she’s talking to you again?”

Shelley shrugged. “Sort of. She texts. Every week it gets a little longer, but she’s still cool. Maybe eventually we’ll be able to be friends again. She’s got a lot to deal with right now, and Jane still in her ear. But that seems to have less influence than it did at first, so there’s hope.”

“Good.” Dillon released her hand to pick up his danish, and Shelley missed his touch immediately. “Hope is good. You don’t deserve what Jane did to you. I hope Tabitha comes around eventually.” He finished off his danish and looked around, his gaze settling on a stack of boxes nearby. “So, what can I do to help?”

Shelley stood up and held a hand out to him, her heart pounding in her chest. “I can think of a few things,” she said as he took her hand and stood too. “But one thing first, if you don’t mind.”

He grinned as she moved closer and slid her hands up to circle his neck. Pulling her close, he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her forehead, her nose, her lips.

“I don’t mind at all,” he murmured before he claimed her lips again.

The End


Thanks for reading along with the first draft of this story! I’ve got quite a few revisions I want to make, so it’ll be different by the time it comes out, but I’ve enjoyed the journey of discovering this story, and I’m glad you came along for the ride. 

Stay tuned…starting next week, I’ll be serializing one of my earlier novels. Anyone want to revisit the campy fun and romance of Fantasy Ranch? I hope you’ll join me! 

Serial Story: Don’t Look Away, Ch. 33

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!


Don’t Look Away
Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1
Chapter 33

One month later…

The town looked different, Shelley thought as she turned off the backroad into Rattlesnake Falls. Creeping down the main street, she passed the gas station – which looked open this time – and the general store, several houses with children playing in the yards and finally pulled up in front of the tiny post office. Turning off the engine she sat back in her seat for a minute and took it all in.

So much had happened since she’d last sat in this very building, having dinner with Dillon’s mom and anticipating a fun week away in the wilderness. It felt like something that happened in another lifetime…and she guessed in many ways, that was true.

Grabbing her purse off the passenger seat of her new, packed-to-the-gills car, she got out and put her keys in her pocket, not bothering to lock the door. Ignoring the nerves dancing in her stomach, she pulled the post office door open and went inside, ringing the bell on the counter.

“I’ll be right there!” Diane Riley’s familiar voice made Shelley smile, and she was still smiling when the older woman came into view, leaning heavily on her walker.

The expression on Mrs. Riley’s face wasn’t so welcoming.

“Well, well,” she said, stopping before she reached the counter. “If it isn’t the woman who broke my son’s heart right after he lost his best friend. You should be ashamed to show your face around here, missy. You can just turn around and walk back out that door.”

Shelley’s smile faded. “I’m sorry Mrs. Riley. I didn’t mean to hurt your son, or anyone else for that matter. After everything that happened, I just needed some time to sort things out and get my head on straight.”

“And you couldn’t even pick up the phone to tell him that? Selfish girl. You’re not the only one who got hurt that week. But he tried to reach out to you. You couldn’t even give him the courtesy of a quick call. So why are you here then? What do you want? Trying to ease your conscience?”

Shelley sighed. Somehow she hadn’t thought it would be this hard, but in hindsight, she should have known. She did want to talk to Dillon, to try to explain why she’d needed so much space, but she felt like she should talk directly to him about that, not his mother.

“I actually need a post office box. I bought a house just outside of town, and the main post office web site says there’s no delivery out that way, but that there are plenty of boxes available here. I’d like to rent one, please.”

Dianne shook her head. “Nope. Nothing available, sorry. You’ll have to get one over at Meadowlark. It’s about an hour’s drive south, depending on how far out your new place is.” She looked at the clock. “Don’t think you’re gonna make it today – they close in twenty minutes.”

“So every single one of these boxes is rented.” Shelley looked pointedly at what must have been a hundred boxes lining the hall of the old lobby. “The web site says there are twenty available.”

Dianne shrugged. “Not for the likes of you. Now if you don’t mind, I’m closin’ up myself pretty soon, so you can see yourself out.”

Shelley nodded slowly. “Okay.” She pulled one of her new business cards out of her purse and slid it across the counter. “Here’s my new address, in case you or Dillon would like to stop by sometime. Obviously I didn’t handle things as well as I could have, but I can’t change that now. I am sorry for hurting both of you though, whether you believe it or not. I’d like to be friends someday, if that’s possible. If not, then cordial neighbors will have to do.”

Determined not to cry in front of Mrs. Riley, Shelley turned and quickly made her exit, managing to hold off the tears until she was seated in her car. Even then, she swiped angrily at her cheeks and pulled away from the building, knowing the propensity of small town people to snoop and gossip. It was time to check out her new home, and start getting settled in. Now that she was freelancing, time was money, and she needed a place to work.

And maybe someday she could convince Mrs. Riley to rent her a PO box. Baby steps.


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 34 – the final chapter!

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Credit Monitoring, Fingerless Gloves & Lottery

Do you monitor your credit? I haven’t for a long time, mostly because I know Experian has my file messed up, and they pretty much refused to fix it last time I contacted them about it. It’s incredibly frustrating because my maiden name is essentially the same as my dad’s name (James/Jamie), which means even when I contact creditors to have them tell Experian that a line of credit isn’t mine, they get confused too due to the name thing. The last two times I applied for a home loan, I had to write and collect a bunch of letters from my dad and to Experian in order to prove that the lines of credit that are his aren’t mine, and vice versa. It’s insanely annoying.

Enter the great Equifax hack of…well, last spring, I guess. No, I didn’t go look to see if I was affected…I mean, I think it’s safe to assume that my data is out there in the ether. I’m still a bit shocked that they cared so little about security as to ignore three warnings and also failed to update their system with prompt patching (mostly because I’m a database admin, and I am completely paranoid/anal about doing whatever’s necessary to keep the data I’m responsible for safe). But then I think about the customer “service” I’ve received from them in the past, and I’m not so shocked anymore.

In any case, the leading suggestion for keeping your data safe is to freeze your credit report accounts and keep them frozen until/unless you need to apply for credit. Which is something I can’t do, because of the mess with my dad’s records being mixed up with mine. Until/unless that gets fixed, freezing my account could freeze his, and vice versa, and getting it unfrozen could be…well, practically impossible. It’s not worth the risk, and that means no using companies like LifeLock, etc either (since that’s basically what they do for their “protection” services.

But, I have signed up for a free credit monitoring account with Credit Sesame (highly recommended, pulls from all three credit reporting companies, doesn’t lock credit accounts), and I’ll probably spring for one of the lowest monthly tiers for a monthly credit report from all three companies. Just to keep a better eye on things than I do now (which is pretty much ignoring it as much as possible).

Heck, maybe it’ll be good motivation to get some credit paid down. If nothing else just to have more money to pay for the credit monitoring. *sigh*

Aside from that, it was back to work last week, and predicatably my writing output took a bit of a header. But it’s all good, because I started using my very low-tech Alphasmart Neo for all of my late-night writing sessions, and I have to say, I wish I’d done that sooner. So much easier to focus – I started a new story, worked on a different short story, and I’m excited about what I might be able to get done using that method going forward. Focus is good. Focus is everything when it comes to writing.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about crochet/knitting lately, and how I’d love to get back to that on a regular basis. Last week the weather turned cold pretty suddenly as a cold front came through, and I took my fingerless gloves to work. They helped a little, but not a lot because they’re thin. And then I thought about the absolutely gorgeous, soft, fuzzy yarn I bought last weekend, and how warm and cozy that would be for fingerless gloves, and now I’m really wanting to make a pair (or several, in different colors) for the office when it’s cold (so, always).

So that’s a project I want to start this week. I should be able to work on those during the hour in the evenings I watch TV with hubby. As long as I use a somewhat simple pattern, anyways. Though I kind of want to try crochet cables, and that would be a nice, small project to learn them on.

I’ve been thinking about my stamp collection lately too, and my comic books, and my to-be-read pile.

Retirement is only…what…25 yrs away?

I should probably start buying lottery tickets again.