Wednesday, June 21, 2017

WEP: Bridges




Hello;

I have three separate story starts labeled WEP BRIDGES in My Documents. At the last moment (well, over the last few days of looming deadline) these two little boys nudged their story into my wandering attention as I listened to a book I lost interest in during a looooong drive. I kept telling the kids I already had a story start for this challenge, but when I opened the story I decided to finish and post - this is what actually/eventually got written. You know how demanding children can be sometimes? If not, you know how demanding ignored characters can be?

Its been through three days worth (intermittently) of editing, deletions and revisions; to the point I'm not sure I even see it anymore. All that for a thousand word flash!?! I should be this dedicated to my novel writing, lol.

(Mutant ninja space monkey's are winging their way to Denise and Yolanda to shower them with crappy ideas for 20 minutes to extract retribution.)

Ok, onward. . .

Below is my 996 word contribution to Write..Edit..Publish BRIDGES challenge. Click here for details on the challenge, links to other participants, and to meet and greet the WEP hosts.

full critique acceptable

AARON

Jack and Carl huddled together in Carl’s bedroom closet. Jack cradled his six year old brother as their father’s tirade beat through the downstairs rooms. Their mother screamed and cried. Carl whimpered with each crash and curse.

“Shhh,” Jack whispered urgently. “He’ll forget us if we’re quiet.”

“Not this time,” Carl said between hiccups. “Aaron said so.”

Jack cursed and hugged his brother tighter.

Aaron wanted to say something, encourage Carl to get out. He’d shown Carl where he would be safe. But Carl couldn’t hear Aaron when anyone else was around.

Their mother’s screams abruptly ended. Jack’s whimpers rivaled Carl’s in the sudden silence.

Aaron tried again to contact Carl. He advanced through the bunched clothing and knelt among the mismatched shoes. He merged one hand with Carl’s, and in desperation and fear, laid a hand on Jack’s shoulder.

“Run. You know where to go Carl.”

“Run where?” Jack asked, leaning back in surprise.

Aaron couldn’t believe Jack had heard him. “Come to me Carl. I can save you.”

“And Jack?” Carl removed his hands from his head and looked directly at Aaron.

Aaron nodded. “It seems so. He heard me just now.”

Carl hugged Jack, pulling their heads closer. “I know where he can't find us.”

“Jack? Where are you Son?”

“Shit,” Jack said. “Your Dad only calls me ‘son’ when he wants to hurt me.”

The door to Jack’s bedroom crashed against the wall of Carl’s closet and both boys screeched in terror.

“You have to go now Carl.”

Carl nodded and untangled himself from Jack as furniture crashed in the other room. He stood and tugged his brother’s shoulders. “Come on. Aaron says we have to hurry.”

Jack stood as his step father called his name again. “Aaron? Your imaginary friend? Go where?”

“I'll show you.”

They could hear their father still searching Jack’s room. Carl stepped over Jack and pushed open the closet door. He grabbed Jack’s arm and tried to get him on his feet. Aaron was at the bedroom window beckoning them to hurry.

Jack jumped to his feet and looked to the locked bedroom door. “Dad’s in my room. We can sneak down the stairs, find Mom, and call 911.”

“No!” Aaron and Carl said together.

Aaron relocated to Jack and again placed his hands on Jack’s shoulders. “She's dead. You and Carl will be too if you don’t come now. Please Jack.”

“Please Jack,” Carl echoed from the window.

“Jack!” Their father called from the hallway.

"That deadbolt won't hold for long," Aaron warned.

“Help me Carl,” Jack said as he ran to the dresser.

Carl raced silently across the carpet in his bare feet and helped Jack teeter-push the four foot tall dresser towards the door. Then the banging sounded, the door almost caved in, and Jack ran around to Carl’s end. He bent down and tried to lift the dresser. Seeing what Jack intended, Carl also bent down and added his weight to the lift. The dresser toppled and they shoved it in front of the door just as another crash nearly buckled the door off its hinges.

“Hurry,” Aaron yelled from outside the window.

Jack lifted the lamp off the nightstand and aimed it at the window. His window was nailed shut; but Carl rushed to the window and unlocked the latch.

“Open this door NOW,” their Dad yelled.

Jack dropped the lamp as a fist sized hole burst through the door. He ran to the window as Carl scrambled out onto the roof of the porch.

“We have to hurry Carl,” Aaron advised. “I can’t hold the portal long.”

“I won’t go without Jack,” Carl yelled.

“I’m coming,” Jack said as he slid on the slate roof. He stopped himself just short of sliding off the edge. It was eight feet to the ground. “How we gonna –“

“Like this,” Carl said. He hung onto the gutter, then swung his legs over and disappeared.

Jack leaned over the edge, scared his brother had fallen. But Carl was shimmying down the post and was nearly to the ground.

“Hurry,” Aaron called from the fence. “You can both make it.”

Jack saw the flash of blue and red Spider Man pj’s as his brother disappeared through a missing slat in the wood fence. He looked back as his step father crashed through the bedroom door. Carl was safe for now, but he might still be able to save their mother if he could get to a phone. Jack swung easily over the edge and wrapped his legs around the pole.

"Little creep, stop right there," his step father yelled, leaning over the gutter.

Jack screamed and slid down the pole, his hands and forearms stinging from splinters. He let go and let himself drop half way down. He heard more cursing and crashing of furniture as his father thudded back into the bedroom. It wouldn't take him long to get down the stairs.

Jack ran to the front door and twisted the knob. It was locked. He shook the handle and banged on the door but it wouldn't budge. Giving up, he turned and sprinted for the hole in the fence. He ran down the wooded path towards the ancient oak tree, barely noticing the sharp rocks digging into his bare feet. He and his friends had traded stories about this area, but Jack had never seen anything weird. Seeing his brother’s imaginary friend made him rethink the impossible.

Ahead, he could hear Carl calling his name. Rainbow lights filtered through the leaves, and the sound of music and laughter. He burst through the trees and shaded his eyes against the brightness.

Carl was in the center of the rainbow, smiling. He waved at Jack as he slowly disappeared into the lights.

"Run Jack," Aaron called.

Jack hesitated, torn between rescuing his mother or following his brother. He glanced behind him, then turned back to tell Carl to wait.

Aaron and the magic had disappeared also.

* * * *

If this writing inspired you to undertake some prompt writing of your own, please visit the WEP Upcoming Challenges page to plan your future participation.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

IWSG: ARE YOU A QUITTER?

Hello

Guess this is as good a day as any to remember to blog. With the warmer weather its hard to be sitting inside on the computer while everyone is out swimming, hiking, or generally soaking up the sun.

Not me though. I'm a white girl! And I don't mean that just racially (sorry if you are offended); my well developed summer tan looks like most people's winter pale. My skin will burn to the point of blisters if I leave my shade too long. To the dismay of most of my family, I quit sunbathing for the sake of social acceptance a very long time ago.

I do allow myself to pink-up for walks in the park or woods, small amounts of yard work, and the occasional swim in a back yard pool. Everybody needs a bit of summer fun - even me.

So how is the writing going for you this time of year? Do you have to modify your writing time to catch early morning or early evening coolness? Or to work around kids, partners, or other's vacations? Or do you simply QUIT writing for the summer and save yourself the frustration?



This month's IWSG question: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

  Well yes, I have said "I QUIT!" and meant it. Like a smoker (or any other addiction), I did quit writing - well, quit writing on my books and short stories. For about three years, or less. I was writing blog posts, and comments, and even started a SOP at the day job.I wrote emails - like really long ones - and critiques for writing partners, and quite a lot of book reviews. Even wrote some story starts.

So I have quit writing. And came back. And quit again. Repeat.

One of the things that bring me back to writing is a thought provoking question that has surfaced several times over my blogging/writing career and goes something like: if I'm not actively writing, can I still call myself a writer (author)?

The question terrorized my guilt for a few months, which is probably when a good many of those story starts smeared a word document. I did not agonize over it for long however. I realized that many famous celebrities are not "actively" participating in their professions either. Athletes, actors, singers, musicians, models. And even some writers.

When I took the pressure off myself to produce non-stop, I again found my enjoyment in the craft of creating stories. Of spending time letting the voices in my head out onto the page. I would still be a writer even if I was never published. I will still be a writer even if all I ever produce is flash fiction for blogfest prompts.

Having my short stories published occasionally is AWESOME as incentive to continue to write. And I still pull out my story starts and the trilogy and do some serious writing/editing. I do hope one day to be a famous author and have my books sitting there next to Stephen King, Joy Fielding, Jodi Piccoult. But writing is a hobby, and I doubt I will ever QUIT forever. I enjoy it too much. Even when I hate it.

If you are new to the Insecure Writers Support Group click here for the details on this once monthly blog hop. You can visit other participants and sign up on the list if interested in participating yourself. Be sure to thank our host Alex Cavanaugh, and June's co-hosts JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Gwen Gardner.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

WEP Winner




Sweet; I won first prize in the WEP: Peace and Love challenge. I won a $10 Amazon gift card and a guest spot on Write..Edit..Publish blog.

So do me a favor and click here to read my guest post on BRIDGES. Perhaps you'll be encouraged or inspired to write your own vision and join us in June.



Water under the bridge? Or interpret this prompt as a setting, or as an overture after a breach, or just the word inserted somewhere into your writing/images.

Thoughts:

Literally--

Prisoners of war building a bridge, thinking of loved ones, inspiration to survive...

Explorers building a bridge to an unexplored site…

Engineers building a bridge that collapses...

Metaphorically--

Building bridges after a feud

Water under the bridge--let bygones be bygones . . .

Visit the WEP: 2017 Upcoming challenges page for details on all the challenges.



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

IWSG: THE RABBIT HOLE OF RESEARCH

Happy May Day all.

When I think of May Day, I think of may pole dances, picnics, family gatherings at the park.

Although after reading Stephen T McCarthy's Battle of the Bands post on the less harmonious aspect of International Workers Day, I'm not so inclined to celebrate. But as happens with so many things that intrigue me, I decided not to let one reference get me down. I opened a new tab and entered MAY DAY into Google search.

The CNN link said a lot the same as Saint Mac's Wikipidia, and I got a lot more interesting info by clicking on The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) article. Of course I did not stop there - but you don't want all those links, lol. Suffice it to say, this rabbit hole about, basically, Labor Unions,
which brings to mind gang violence . . Hey, did y'all see GANGS OF NEW YORK? Great movie, which I did not have time to look up on NetFlix last night because it led me back to my own research on gang violence for my novel. Which let me pretend those distracting hours were "research" for, ya know, revision ideas. Or perhaps another story start . . .

This month's IWSG question of the month is: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you've ever had to research for your story?

As you can see from my opening paragraphs, I'm not sure I can succinctly answer this question. I find just about everything I research fascinating. I've found cool and weird in places I did not expect to see by following link, or changing my mind about what to research.

Thanks everyone for stopping by. Now that A-Z is over the IWSG sign-up list must seem pretty small, huh?

Thanks to Alex for the creating this monthly group, and to his co-hosts Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan, Lisbet, Michelle Wallace and Feather Stone, for taking the time to visit as many of us as possible.



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

WEP: Peace and Love

Today's post is brought to you by the letter P in W E "P" (Write..Edit..Publish) April presentation of their quarterly blogfest. And also by that minor event called the A-Z blogfest. Not like anyone is Participating in that nonsense . . .

Well, not me. I'm a consistent non-Participant, and haven't even read any posts from my friends list. Sorry guys. I have literally tons of handy excuses. I shall not bore you with that pretentiousness though.

You're welcome :)

Anyhooo, I've protruded from hibernation just long enough to participate in WEP (hosted by Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee - and various minions) April challenge titled "PEACE AND LOVE." And that sigh of relief heard at WEP linky page was me when I read: just because April is poetry month, it doesn’t mean you have to post poetry. I think that sigh has been felt everywhere with the freaky weather this month in the form of high winds, tornadoes and hurricanes. Again - sorry, my bad.

Our hosts have prompted us authors with this sage advice: Create an artistic interpretation: a poem, a flash fiction piece of 1000 words or less, a non-fiction piece detailing your personal experience or someone else's experience, write a script, draw your dreams, or post a photograph or a photo essay. The genre is up to you. The artistic choice is yours.

Naturally I chose the fiction path. I had way to many ideas percolating in my witless pate over the past month about the meaning of Peace and Love to myself, and how to integrate it into A-Z. Words like peace officer and purgatory immediately sprang to mind. Almost too serious.

Eventually something whimsical plastered itself on a blank word document, and ever so slowly (meaning finished and polished last minute) paragraphs began to form into a consistent story. It weights in at 819 words, and I'm hoping its not too whimsical, too serious, or too abstract.

GOING HOME

“Please pay the Piper at the end of the pier.”

“The –“ I looked around, not seeing pier or Piper.

“Piper at the end of the pier,” he repeated, pointing a thumb behind himself.

I looked behind him, into the distance. There was nothing. Nothing at all. No darkness, or white fog, or dim light. Impossibly, nothing. I blinked away the visage, then returned my questioning gaze to the man behind the podium. His long face had grown longer, his gaunt jowls and hinged lips sinking lower towards his tuxedo’d chest.

My mouth and thoughts stuttered over an appropriate response. Or question. He looked to be a shorter, more squat version of Herman Munster. Or the door knob in Walt Disney’s cartoon Alice In Wonderland that guarded the entrance to Wonderland.

“You are a prolific ponderer, aren’t you?” The door-faced clerk intoned. “You can produce the required payment?”

I recalled an old faerie tale that had nothing to do with a piper. “Two coins for the ferryman?”

His chin sank lower into his chest. “Follow the path as it presents itself. Pay the Piper at the end of the pier.  Now push-off you procrastinator, you’re preventing the line from progressing.”

A brief glance confirmed there was nobody behind. I turned back to protest, and again found myself alone.

“Curiouser and curiouser,” I mumbled to myself as I started forward.

The creak of water-logged planks was immediately recognizable beneath my slippers. And familiar. My pace quickened, memories of my childhood home flooded my senses. The fishy smell of the freshwater pond we drew our plumbing from, the occasional cry of lonely gulls, the pier on the other side of the levy where the river rushed towards the mountain loch. And another sound, comfortable and haunting, just below the surface of hearing.

Panting and giddy, my old joints picked up the sea swagger of afternoons spent out fishing with Grandpappy Paeter. Peter Piper, the neighbors taunted him, as he puffed a single, long note that called the children in for supper. Late afternoon in the fall, early evening in the summer. The vale set its pace by Grandpappy’s pipes.

“Bag pipes,” I pronounced to the pier, the nearly inaudible hum putting a smile on my lips.

It seemed years since I last smiled. Free of the constricting needles and tubes, my arms rose in delight, my gnarled fingers nimbly pantomiming the complex placement as Grandpappy taught me. I could see the piper now, shrouded in a hooded poncho. He was short and looked gracefully quick despite the hump beneath the poncho.

The music lingered in my head, a song of morning celebration, and I pranced forward to see my old Grandpappy.  But the Piper’s palm was empty, stretching between us from an impossible distance. And this wasn’t my Grandpappy. The ferryman’s face and hands were inked with indistinct designs in shades of indigo and blood, his eyes glowed orange.  There was no mistaking the pipes poking out the poncho and parting his long dark hair.

This was indeed the Piper at the end of the pier.

Perplexed and feeling slightly childish, I poked my hands into my pockets. And was amazed to find each held a round metallic object.

A recollection 70 years in my past pasted a grin back on my face.

“Six-pence for the ferryman,” Grandpappy had teased on the last truly happy day of my life.

He’d given me the quarters prior to my first date with Patsy Cullen. He was to be our chaperone, fancied himself more of a Paladin. He’d pledged to play a funeral dirge for the date, to mourn the loss of  his paramour’s carefree days of bachelorhood. I suspected he’d agreed to accompany us just to see the talkie version of Alice in Wonderland.

I passed the coins to the Piper, and jumped into the weather beaten rowboat. The years seemed to melt away as I rowed into a clear, warm day. White puffy clouds dotted an azure sky. A cool breeze lifted a tangle of dark hair from my forehead and ears. The sun was warm enough to slide the straps of my overalls off my shoulders and pull off my t-shirt.

I remembered this day.

Just ahead, Round Mound poked its greenery at the sky. Gulls swooped and dived for fish. The clouds floated just out of reach, and they all looked like Patsy Cullen with purple ribbons in her plaited hair. Tomorrow I would take her to a talkie, and then to ice cream. And perhaps she would reward me with a kiss.

But today was warm, the rocking boat put me in mind for a nap. I stretched out on the bench, bare toes tempting the fish just out of nibble range.  Grandpappy played “Going Home” on his bagpipes. It was not a lonely sound to me, as it was to others.

I was at peace in mind, body and soul.




If you'd like to see how other participants interpreted the theme PEACE AND LOVE, click here for the linky list and blogfest details.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

THIS IS NOT A POST

Oops! I forgot what day this is . . . and I have no post for IWSG or otherwise.

Good luck A-Z participants. I will return on Letter P day to participate in Write..Edit..Publish (WEP) prompt/blogfest PEACE AND LOVE.  Details here.



See y'all later.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

IWSG old stories and BATTLE OF THE BANDS

If you are only here for the BATTLE OF THE BANDS keep scrolling until you see the BotB logo. If you are only here for the IWSG, read until you see the BOTB badge.

Rachel Platten Fight Song




I suppose you are wondering why I'm posting a song video first before the Insecure Writers Support Group logo?  Well, FIGHT SONG is my IWSG post for this month. I hope you listen as you read, or just listen. This song is about self confidence, and is both my encouragement and insecurity.

I am a firm believer that you have to believe in yourself first before anyone else can believe in you.No matter what you want to be or do with your life, you have to have self confidence to achieve it. Some people equate this self confidence with arrogance, or a false sense of self worth. I struggle with this distinction constantly.

When I was in kindergarten or grade school I read a children's book called THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD. Silly to be with me all these years, I know. But way back then (like, 50 years ago) my parents were told I was mentally retarded (in today's educational vernacular I'd likely be considered Attention Deficit Disorder). I THINK I CAN became my motto for life. That little engine believed in himself despite the doubts of everyone else, and so I believed in myself. (Most of the time) Over the years there have been other stories and songs that have encouraged me to believe in myself, but when I'm at my lowest point, I THINK I CAN, has always been my fall back mantra.

Until Rachel Platten sang: I don't really care what anyone else believes, cuz I still got a lot of faith left in me.. .. I might only have one match, but I can make an explosion.

As an author, I have to believe in my ability to write a good story before I ever set pen to paper (or open a word program and touch the keyboard). I believe every artist - painters, writers, actors, musicians, singers, comics, athletes, designers . . politicians) need to have that faith in themselves first before they can convince anyone else to believe in their talents. In my opinion, this is not arrogance or false hope; its ambition. The more you believe in yourself, the harder you will work to achieve your potential. That potential is easier reached when others also believe in and encourage you; but you have to continue to believe in yourself despite obstacles and failures. For authors, obstacles and failures equates to rejections, and self doubt that keeps projects locked away from public scrutiny.




This month's IWSG question is: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Some authors have been writers since the first day they learned to write their ABC's into coherent sentences. I've always been good at writing stories, everybody has told me so since grade school. But I was around 15 when I wrote my first serious novel- and yes, its still in the "drawer" because it is so bad I can't read it long enough to figure out how to revise it, But its my first ever writing project that wasn't an assignment in school, so I keep it as a memento.

I was about 40 when I wrote a novel I seriously wanted to publish. I did sub it out soon after it was completed, and I learned many writing lessons from those original rejected submissions and the subsequent signing with a vanity publisher. As I learn more about writing techniques, I pull this novel out, along with its three sequels, and edit it. One of the writing rules I've learned is that you can never publish your first novel.

Technically, this isn't my "first novel." LOL. Stephen King's DARK TOWER series was in a drawer for over twenty years, always in the back of his mind, before he pulled it out and seriously started work on it for publication. J.R.R. Tolkien told THE HOBBIT to his children as bed time stories, and worked on THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy for over 40 years before publication. I keep these minor facts in mind as inspiration.

But sometimes, it just doesn't happen that you can pull that project out again later, revise and edit it into saleable product. Sometimes we have to say goodbye entirely to a well loved concept. Sometimes an agent/publisher picks it up, but the final published version feels so far from the original project it is unrecognizable to the author. We cry for these "deleted darlings." We mourn the loss or our original ideas, the characters and plots that have been deemed useless by writing partners, or editors. Sometimes we have the vague hope that the characters, concepts, phrases and snappy dialogue, can be salvaged and integrated into other projects. And sometimes, we have ceremonies as we relegate them into a virtual recycle bin (or actual trash if the project is in paper notebooks).

"WE'VE COME A LONG WAY FROM WHERE WE BEGAN . . .THAT BOND WILL NEVER BE BROKEN . . . THE LOVE WILL NEVER BE LOST"




What is your "fight song" writing project? Is it still floating in your Documents, occasionally opened and edited? Or have you published it somehow: integrated into another project, rewritten according to editor requirements, revamped for short story anthologies, self published?

Please thank your IWSG host Alex Cavanaugh, and his helpers Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, M.J. Field, and Nichole Christopherson by visiting their blogs. Click here for the IWSG sign up list.

And thank you for reading this ramble.



Because today is the first, and Battle of the Bands posts on the first and fifteenth of each month, I also wanted to participate in BotB to show my support for my buddy Saint Mac, aka Stephen T McCarthy. Obviously I'm not finding any covers for Rachel Platten's Fight Song (or at least none worth posting for a battle), and given the nature of this month's IWSG question, I decided to find something with a similar courageous sentiment. And of course, I wanted to make this choice difficult because, as writers, all the decisions about a WiP are difficult. In today's vernacular, it comes with angst.

My song choices today are not pitting the same song against an opposing artist. Its about who accomplished the overall sentiment of the song "concept." Because publication, in any form of writing from books, movies, theater, poetry, songs; is based on reader/viewer/listener connection with the message.

I am also not posting any IMBD or Wickipedia write ups about these two songs. I've read it all, but I have these songs on CD, with artist insights of the song meanings; and have loved and followed the artists for more years than most of the BotB participants have been alive (excluding Arlee Bird and Saint Mac himself of course; they are older than me by a few months if not a few years).

Both these songs are about a son, following and lamenting their heroic fathers death. Bosephus was always considered his father's shadow, a mini Hank; and David Gilmour never came to terms with his father's death as a soldier, though he was expected to carry on the family military tradition.

I'm hoping you do not judge these songs by whether or not you like Hank Jr, or Pink Floyd, or country or pop or heavy metal. I think the song message of each artist transcends musical genre; but what do I know, I'm an eclectic listener.

To me, both songs display visceral writing. It is unfortunate that the Pink Floyd video includes such evocative imagery; I'd suggest you close your eyes while listening, but in truth I do not want you to miss the explicit tragedy of war. I first heard the Tigers song off The Final Cut CD, and cried through the entire short song. Well, I cried for Hank Jr also. I'm sentimental that way.

Both are stories the artists felt compelled to tell. As authors, isn't our first true writing the story we feel needs to be told, whether it be fact or fiction? If you are a musician as well as author, do you feel the same passion for writing/playing music as you do for story writing?

Bosephus (Hank Williams Jr) SHADOW FACE



David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)  When the Tigers Broke Free





Please vote for which song you feel best evokes an emotional response in you as a listener. Listen to the actual words. And if you feel nothing for either song, vote for which one you dislike least.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WEP: BACK OF THE DRAWER




I haven't participated in Write..Edit..Publish (hosted by Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee) in a while. I've been busy off-line. Or, just busy with nothing important to anybody except me.

I had an idea in mind for WEP February post, love and mayhem of course, but then a song got stuck in my head, which probably went well with love and mayhem (You Don't Own Me) and oddly enough a feel-good song (Life In A Northern Town) uploaded on the u-Tube play list and I changed my mind about the WEP concept.  I should be writing a Valentines Day theme, but I'm a cynic, especially when it comes to romantic love.

Anyway, Here's my contribution to WEP; BACK OF THE DRAWER prompt; a 1000 word flash fiction titled TOWNIE. Click here for blogfest details and other participants.

TOWNIE

The whole town turned out to help pack up. Not literally the whole town; but everyone that anyone would know.

Jackie Downs who owned Towne Cafe, and her wife and two adopted children. Cindy Foster, head nurse at the ER; Jacob Mears, Cruz Santos and Jeremy Hollister from the volunteer fire department. And the Hostler sisters, Maris and Berdine, head of every social or charitable organization in Oxford County, or so it seemed.

There were so many people crowding the halls, rooms, garage and lawns that plain old Susan Gumms didn't know where in her parent’s house she could catch her breath. Or how to ask for two minutes with all the objects being boxed and carted to a 24 foot moving van.

"No, no," she commanded breathlessly, racing into the kitchen as she spotted Cindy Foster tugging noisily at the top drawer of a cabinet next to the sink. "That drawer contains things that aren't related to the kitchen. I'd like to go through it myself if you don't mind."

Cindy looked up and frowned, wisps of her brown hair artfully framing her perfectly painted face. "Its just a junk drawer Suz. Every house has one."

“Yes, I know. But I want to go through this one myself. Please."

Susan put two hands on the drawer as Cindy gave it another yank.

"But -"

"Ease up Cindy," said a deep male voice from behind Susan. "Let the girl have a say over one thing in her childhood home."

Susan turned to see a tall, muscular man in orange shirt and blue jeans leaning against the door frame between the kitchen and dining room.

"Peter Jennings, are you implying that -"

"Yes I am," Peter said, peeling himself off the door frame and legging his way to Susan's side. "Whatever it is you are implying, I'm saying."

"Well, I never."

"Sure you have." Peter cocked his head and gave a sly wink to Susan as Cindy tugged on her silk blouse and stalked out the back door.

To have a cigarette, Susan imagined. One of those secrets that the whole town knew about but pretended not to notice.

"Thank you," Susan said as she leaned over the half open drawer.

"For what?"

Susan tried to close it, but the drawer wouldn't budge. Tugging it open more didn't work either.

"Well, he-"

"Let me try," Peter said, laying his hands on hers. "I have experience with immovable objects."

Susan quickly moved away, but not before the warmth of his light touch ignited years of forgotten passion. She was a nerdy girl of fifteen, running from the taunts of the popular girls. Strands of her brown hair escaped the pigtails she'd bound her hair in. Rain obscured the well used path through the woods behind her home, and although not in danger of getting permanently lost in the copse of trees, she'd made the attempt to hide out in places even her twin brother hadn't discovered yet.

Peter knew the woods better than anyone except his father, a Forest Ranger and head of the local search and rescue. She had fallen, was covered in mud and shivering from cold and embarrassment. Peter had smiled, brushed the moss from her hair and wrapped her in his coat.

An annoyance before, she’d fallen instantly in love with the boy who rescued her. Her brother’s best friend, who always treated her like a sister. Even through college, where she never seemed to lose her geeky awkwardness, he’d come to her rescue t unexpected moments when her brother’s football teammates would get too fresh, or the sorority girls’ teasing became too cruel.

“Townies gotta stick together,” he say, usually with a soft kiss to her cheek or forehead.

Children’s screams from outside nearly drowned out his soft curse. “What the heck is in here Suz? Its stuck pretty tight.”

She bent over the drawer, nearly bumping heads with him as she reached a slender hand into the half open drawer.

“Careful,” he cautioned as she jerked her fingers out of the drawer.

“Uhm,” she mumbled, putting her bleeding index finger into her mouth.

She looked around guiltily, not wanting every medic in the house to come offer a band aid. She was grateful for all the help and concern, but it was becoming overwhelming. She worried they would all want to follow the moving van to her apartment in the city and try to unload it all. Maybe hang out and hear her father’s talk about the good old days on the force. And then they’d again offer condolences on her mother’s death, share hospital stories of their own.

Which naturally would lead to pity and further speculation regarding her brother’s tragic death in the fire two years ago. She didn’t have the heart for reminiscing and all that smothering concern.

“Let me see.”

She hesitated, and Peter gently tugged her finger out of her mouth.

“Pretty deep. Come here, lets rinse it off for a better look.” He led her to the sink, an arm around her waist as he held her hand in the air.

She winced when the cold water hit the cut. “Just a scratch.” She swooned a little, remembering how often she’d wished he would hold her close like this, like the first time she’d fallen for him. He looked up from her finger as a series of exaggerated grunts and groans mingled with a woman’s shouts to be careful.

“That sounds like my wife,” he said, a smile lighting his face. “In here Judith. Wait, go see if the bathroom medicine cabinet has been packed up yet. Should be some gauze and antiseptic in there.”

“Is it bad,” the blond woman said with a frown. She looked to be about seven months pregnant, the weight not slowing down her long strides at all.

“Hardly worth a band aid,” Susan assured the woman.

She pulled her hand out of Peter's and stepped out of his embrace. The magic of Peter’s touch had worn off with his wife’s appearance. He had never looked at Susan with such warmth, and in truth, she’d stopped chasing him during their sophomore year in college. She had let the tequila convince her to kiss him at an after game party, and it had felt like kissing her brother.

“I think there’s a first aid kit in that drawer.”

Judith went to the drawer, shook it when it wouldn’t budge, then gently pushed it closed. It slid out smoothly with her next try.

“This must be what cut you,” Judith said, removing a large, broken, plastic heart from the back of the drawer.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

IWSG: The Writing Reader

Hey Y'all

How's the year treating you so far? January went by so slowly for me, but it seems I never found the time to get back online after last month's IWSG. This may be a long post; never know when I'll post again, but I have several uncompleted blogging tasks from last month. Feel free to skim and read only what tweaks your interest.



This month's Insecure Writers Group question is: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader? That works perfectly with the incomplete tasks from last month because there were a couple book reviews I wanted to post. Lets see if I can make this concise yet informative.

Before I started taking my writing whims seriously (about 10 years ago), I think I was your average slow but voracious reader. I liked series books, mostly sci-fi/fantasy and horror/thriller, but a good adventure with likeable characters was all that was needed to keep my interest. Typo's have always bugged me, but I never cared if the story was believable (plausible), had any structure, was historically accurate, used cliche phrases. I never assessed a book for anything except pure entertainment value.

Would I love to have those happy book reading days back? Absolutely! Its so rare to just lose myself in a story - let alone stick out an entire series. I seem to be in constant critic mode, analyzing everything from POV, writing style, depth of character arcs, plausibility, factual accuracy (creative license only gets so much leeway), genre tropes. But most of all: originality.

I know, there is almost no original story concept to write about. When I wrote my first novel I thought it was unique because I'd never read any fiction like it. Turns out there is a whole genre of fiction dedicated to the concept, I'd just never read it. I've spent a few years reading in the women's fiction genre, and revising the book (now a trilogy) so that it meets the genre standards, but has some original scenes and twists. Its not easy.

Genre criteria is an area I pay close attention to now in books I read. Its an obsession; not always a good one. But it has allowed me to expand my reading into multiple genre's, just to see how other authors tackle the complex issues of being unique yet standard.

For instance, I've never been much of a romance reader - I was in my early teens (1980's) when I discovered ALL romance novels have the same themes. Men are drop dead gorgeous, rich jet setter play-boys (or spies); women are slightly ditzy yet beautiful, usually poor, swept off their feet by nothing more than a stunning smile and expensive gifts; and lots of long looks and life threatening rescues occur to seal the romance. Got boring quickly. I learned not to like HEA (happily ever after) endings.

Then I learned there were several categories of romance (and wouldn't you know, women's fiction nudges into that niche) and I kinda like some of them. A friend of mine gave me a Regency Romance book after learning I sometimes enjoy Historical and Regency's. The book was THE SUBSTITUTE BRIDEGROOM, written by Charlotte Louise Dolan.

I enjoyed the book; a light hearted, humorous, emotional, period romance that doesn't miss a single criteria beat. Yet, from the opening scenes, a curricle race between two English "gentlemen" that ends in a spectacular crash and the scarring of a beautiful society lady, I was drawn in by the authentic language (vernacular) and setting, the strength of the Hero's character, and the smooth and progressive flow of the story. Some of the secondary characters (the villains who strive to keep the two love interest from truly falling for each other) were too obviously written as props to provide character growth for the two main characters; but I did enjoy the banter and devious antics.

And of course, the chemistry between the Captain and his complacent bride when they actually had scenes together. There was just enough tragedy to keep the expected happy ending from being too cloying, and just enough humor to allow forgiveness for over-writing the selfishness of the villains. I recommend this book to true fans of classic romance.

I read several of the other reviews of this novel (after writing mine), and I was shocked at how many reviews stated that this was nothing new, same old same old for its genre. The oldest review was dated in 2011 after a re-release of her novels, but I believe the original publication date was (Signet) 1991. Most of the reviews were dated 2013 and later. I mention this only because it goes with my assertion that some publication criteria for genre's haven't changed over the last - what, maybe 30 years? Maybe more. And I wonder, if general public reviews were as easily submitted in 1991, if this novel would have gotten the same customer reviews?

I suppose this is why there are so many new genre's opening up. Readers and authors looking to expand on the "tried and true" with some new twists.

Another book I read that tweaked my reader/writer critic was PERSONAL, by Lee Child. Now I have to admit that I like Jack Reacher movies better than the novels (nope, don't care about Tom Cruise's politics or religion, he's a good actor and that's all that matters to me in a movie); but that's because I have a hard time following all the intrigues and techno writing in the books. I liked Lee Child's books NOTHING TO LOSE and WORTH DYING FOR, even though I thought they were just a tad over-written (wordy), so when I was looking for an audio book on CD, I at least knew I liked Lee Child so took a chance on PERSONAL.

The story hooked me right away, but it did not take long for the writing to become repetitive, and info dumpy. By half way through the novel, I felt as if the author was both dumbing down the writing for readers (like me) who have a hard time following complex plots with over explanations and repeats of plot points (investigation progress) so far. Then, it seems the author was pleased with himself regarding all the research that went into the bullet proof glass that was the main subject of the plot, and several times spent pages and pages explaining every aspect of the technology and its development.

Boring. Had I been reading an actual paper (or electronic) book, I would have been skipping pages. As a reader - and perhaps because I'm also a writer - I'm unreasonably offended by an author who feels they have to over-explain a story concept/plot for the reader to "get it."

Over the summer I beta-read a novel for a friend, and my biggest critique was the amount of info dump on every nuance/scene. Yet, here is a best selling author doing the same info dump and repetitive summations that I advised against for a novice author. As a reader (which influences me as an author) I want to get the gist of the concepts through context. As in, if the author can't give me a basic visual within a couple sentences, maybe a paragraph, then I'm pretty sure I'm not the target audience. What I liked about Ms Dolan's novels - although not totally my preferred genre - is that I could understand all the unfamiliar terminology within the context of the story. She trusted her reader, unlike Mr Child.

Did I get off topic? Sorry. This has taken me several days to write. I spent last weekend in Salt Lake City, and had the privilege of visiting with Michael Offutt, who unluckily purchased a gorgeous home that currently has no internet connection, so he has sadly been offline since November. Always a pleasure to hang with Mike, and of course the IWSG question of the month came up. His paraphrased opinion is essentially: how can it not affect your reading opinions?  We had a lively discussion over dinner at Olive Garden about whether ALL author's reading have been affected by their writer knowledge, or if some authors still read with the same enthusiasm and wonder for the written word as before..

So tell me: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

Please be sure to thank your IWSG host (by visiting the blog) Alex J Cavanaugh; and this months co-hosts Misha Gerrick, LK Hill, Juneta Key, Christy, and Joylene Butler.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG- Another new year

Bye bye 2016, Hello 2017

Over the last month I've heard a lot of complaints about how bad the year 2016 has been, and many predictions for a worse 2017. In the US, I imagine most of that has to do with the disappointments of The Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) and the election. And the escalating terrorism. These things disturb me also. But, since I'm not in a position affect any changes to these very large issues, I just accept them, and concentrate on my own life. Pacifist, I know.

I've had so many life changes over the last couple years, my priorities have drastically altered.

2016 wasn't such a bad year for me. Life has become steady, manageable. Even FUN. I'm enjoying my new career, I love the traveling. I'm reconnecting with family. And while I did not have any publications, I did more writing than in 2015. Hopefully, I'll write more in 2017, and perhaps have a publication or three. One can dream, lol.

Congratulations to everyone accepted into this year's IWSG Anthology. Well done.



As with any activity, writing comes with rules, and rule books. When I first started seriously writing about ten years ago I read a lot of books on writing. And a lot of blogs about writing rules. For a while, I tried to follow them all. The more rules I read, the more they became contradictory to each other. Eventually I discovered that there are very few rules that cover everything - every genre, writing style, or publishing media. I learned to research the "guidelines" specific to the genre of whatever story I'm writing, and where I hope to publish it.

This month's IWSG question is: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

Oh my, let me count them, lol. Actually, I've forgotten most. But there is one that pretty much applies to every form of writing and goes something like: Do not re-query an Agent/Agency with a work that they rejected. Unless the rejection came with an invitation to rewrite and resubmit.

My writing has come a long ways since I queried my first novel. I'd like to go back and resubmit the new version of that novel to a couple of the Literary Agencies that rejected it. Perhaps the rewrites would gain some interest. Its been ten years since that first round of queries. The novel (now a trilogy) like me as an author, is unrecognizable from its original version.

Rules were made to be broken; perhaps one day I'll break this one. What's one more rejection against the possibility of acceptance.

Even the Insecure Writers Support Group comes with rules.

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And to thank and link to your host Alex J Cavanaugh, and this month's co-hosts: Eva @ Lilicasplace, Crystal Collier, Sheena-kay Graham,Chemist Ken, LG Keltner, and Heather Gardner.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! See y'all around the blogs.