Friday, December 16, 2016

You try to be a good and thoughtful mom...

When I was pregnant with my first child I decided to write a journal with the intent to note all the excitement about the coming birth, our family, our house, the fun things we do together, daily stuff as he grew, and current events as they related to us. This seemed the perfect way to capture all the things that I wished I had access too both as a person as I got older, memories of childhood that we easily forget, better understanding your parents while they did their parenting thing, and what they really thought about me when I was a kid.

See, I don't have those things. My father worked a lot when I was a kid - as in my main memory of him is him falling asleep at the dinner table. He wasn't home for the majority of the daily stuff, school, friends, etc. And though I remember some random snippets here and there, it's the kinds of memories and thoughts a mother has that I wished I still could enjoy. However, my mother died unexpectedly when I was nineteen. I do have the traditional baby book with dates of milestones, but its the personal touches that I miss most. With that in mind, and the perpetual paranoia that I, too, might drop out of existence before my children we ready to hear what knowledge of their childhoods I might remember - twenty-some years after the fact when they were done with their total focus on high school, video games, friends - I set out to write a journal for each of them.

My intentions were good. I made pages of each family member, parents, grand parents, great grandparents, our house where they would grow up (that we no longer live in), the history of the special cradle that has been handed down for generations that they first slept in. I tried to write every few days, often propping my eyes open for a few more moments during pregnancy and the early years that are filled with exhaustion.

I'd already filled one journal for my son when my daughter came along. Now I had two journals to write in. That was harder. It doesn't seem like a paragraph or two every couple days would be a big deal...until you're keeping up with two kids and working full time, and that whole lack of sleep thing. But I plodded onward.

Sad to say, my hands aren't what they once were in terms of handwriting and my job puts a lot of strain on them. Had I started with typing the journals, this project probably would have lasted longer, but alas, that wasn't the case, and I had to (for my sanity) set it aside in 2009. By that point my daughter was seven.

I tucked the journals away in a fire safe for a magical time when they were old enough to appreciate all my efforts on their behalf.

That time came a few weeks ago when I was shuffling through the safe looking for some papers. My son is now eighteen. I thought about saving them for when he moved out, or got married, or was going to have a kid of his own, but who knows when any of that will happen. So 'In college' became the milestone. And then, as I was getting his two journals out, I figured what the hell, I might as well give my fourteen year old daughter hers as well and check that project off my mom list.

I handed each of them their journal(s) and explained what they were and why I'd created them. They both said thanks and went back to his video games (not sure he'll ever grow out of that phase) and whatever she was painting (this child is my mini-me as a teen).

As there were no immediate reactions, I gave them each a few days before asking if they'd taken some time to read a little of their journals. Son: no. Daughter: yes. While I was disappointed that my son hadn't touched them (they were, in fact, sitting right where I'd left them on his desk), I was somewhat heartened to hear my daughter had at least read some of it.

"Great. So what did you think?"

"I can't believe I liked squash!"

"Crazy, but true. So how much did you read?"

"The whole thing."

"And that's the one thing that stuck out?"

"Yeah. I hate squash. I can't believe I liked it."

Yep. That was her entire take away of seven years of staying awake and pushing through hand pain to share my thoughts of her early childhood.

I have hopes they will both (again / eventually) read their journals when they are at whichever more appropriate milestone in their lives that  appreciate what I have left for them. Then again, perhaps it is the fact that I'm still right here, that they don't. And if that's the case, I'll be happy to be here as long as I'm able and those journals can keep gathering dust.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

IWSG December and NaNo Blog Hop

Welcome fellow NaNoWriMo participants. It was a tough year for many of us, but we made it though November - hopefully with a pile of words that we're still adding to or starting to edit. I'm still adding and have a long way to go. I'm also editing, because I had multiple projects. High fives to all you NaNo rebels out there.

Having done NaNo for eleven years, and 'won' ten of those, I like to keep things interesting each November. I know (as long as I'm not building a house) that I can pound out 50K in thirty days or less. That means I need to further challenge myself. Sometimes that means writing a different genre, changing up my usual method of POV, experimenting with plot or structure, or just going outside the box with short stories or a combo of any of the above. If you've done NaNo for a few years, what do you do to keep yourself challenged? 

And we're back to the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post.

This month's question: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

I would like to have at least five more books out there, some self-published and some with my current publisher. I'd like to aim for one a year to keep some forward momentum. Currently, the first three books of The Narvan series are under contract, so there's three of my five taken care of - barring any unforeseen publishing issues. Which means, I have two other novels out of the pile of languishing WIPs on my computer to finish, edit, polish and publish. Oh, the choices!

As to why I'd like to continue the self-published/published route, I like not having all my projects tied up in one place. I like the freedom to market in both directions - my efforts and theirs. A good deal of my writing doesn't fit in simple genre categories either, which makes self-publishing a good option for those odd projects.

My plan to get there? Well, that involves spending my mornings in this chair, a lot of typing, probably a large amount of chocolate consumption and hours of frowning at what I've written along with a lot of hours of editing and rewriting. But I'll get there.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

November in the blink of an eye

I woke up this morning and took a long shower to wash the NaNo off. Wow, I got lost in November, and boom, its suddenly December!

We held an early TGIO party for our region so my NaNo obligations are over a week earlier than ever before. It feels really weird, but it's a good kind of weird. I'm not as burnt out as usual, so that early party thing? We're definitely doing that again. Though, hopefully without pulling a muscle in my back next time, because that was NOT good. Thankfully, it's nearly recovered now after a week of taking it easy.

NaNoWriMo 2016 yielded one short that's already out in submission, a proposed epilogue and prologue for A Broken Race that readers have ben asking for, a little progress on Interface - which was supposed to be my main project, and a third of the first draft for The Last God, a sci-fi novel that I've been toying with in my head for the past six months or so. All those words got my to my tenth 50K 'win'.

I also read five books because I managed to catch a nasty cold and was good for nothing than blowing my nose and coughing up lungs...and curling up under a blanket with a book (or five). All were by Sherrilyn Kenyon, each in a day, because they're quick, easy reads for my tired brain. I also watched the entire second season of Dark Matter - a must watch for sci-fi fans if you haven't already, and Glitch - an Australian paranormal series that may live to see a second season. If you liked Resurrection, give it a try.

December is looking like editing and revision as well as catching up on all my blog visits month.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016 Progress

I set out this month with every intention of buckling down and finishing the initial draft of Interface. I'd spent well over a month going over what I had so far from last year's effort when my attention went awry. I'd made notes. I was all set to go. Aaaand about 5k in I decided to take a morning to write a short story for a submission window that closes at the end of the month. That poured out pretty quickly and was done by the end of the day. Then it was back to Interface. For a whole day. Oh look another sparkly short story idea to play with. A couple days later, I wrapped that up. Ok, ok, back to Interface. But then there was this sci-fi story idea I've been kicking around for a few months. Somehow a new document opened and words started to pour out. It was the weirdest thing, I swear. This story is racing right along so I'm going to run with it and see where it goes and how long it takes to get there. Not sure if this is more of a novella or a full novel yet. We'll have to wait and see. Yes, Interface is still open in my document list. It's cursor is blinking angrily at me. I haven't told my daughter yet that I've veered off from finishing the novel she wants me to be working on. Shhhh. It's NaNo. I go where the words are flowing. While I'm busy writing, it's also a busy month for interviews. Here's one I did with Motown Writers.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

November IWSG

It's day two of NaNoWriMo, which means I'm busy writing and probably not wandering around blogs very much. Sorry about that. I have words that need to be written! It's also the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post.

What am I working so madly on this November? Several things, which will (hopefully) add up to 50K. My primary project is wrapping up Interface, a YA Sci-fi story that has plagued me for several years now. Or maybe it's the annoyed look by my daughter that has plagued me...because I haven't finished the book she wants to read. In addition (or if that project goes sideways yet again), I have a proposed possible epilogue for A Broken Race that I might toy with, a short story that's due by the end of the month and possibly the beginning of book 4 of The Narvan. Projects are not something I lack. Motivation and time are my enemies. Thank goodness have an entire region of guilt monkeys to keep me on track during NaNo.

So this months ISWG question is: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?
Getting lost in my own world. Not during the first draft, because really, I'm figuring out that world as I spew words onto the page. I mean during edits, when I start fleshing things out, connecting the dots, and really digging into my characters. The hard part of figuring out what the story is is behind me and at that point I can sink into the subplots and make things deeper, darker and more meaningful. At this point the story is for me, and that is my favorite part.

Monday, October 31, 2016

NaNo Eve

On the eve of NaNoWriMo, known as Halloween to some, it seems quite appropriate that on Authors Answer, we share the best writing advice we've received. And that sentence really felt like it should rhyme, but it's early and my brain isn't up for that task just yet. All of this advice seems to directly relate to the challenges of NaNo, so if you're participating, do take a look and be fortified for the task set before you.

Still on the fence about writing a novel in a month? If you haven't given it a try, why not this year? Writing starts tomorrow. There's plenty of time to sign up. 50,000 words in 30 days. It's totally doable. NaNoWriMo, go on, try it.

I'm looking forward to diving headfirst into of writing a pile of new words. It's my writing guilt-free month. People know I'm writing and I'll be in and out in the coming weeks, rushing dinners before write-ins and sitting there distracted while I'm plotting the next scene in my head.

And today is my last day of planning, so I guess I better get back to doing that. Tomorrow, I write.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

On Being Thankful

If I were looking to jinx myself, I would do a post I've been contemplating for a while about being thankful. But I wouldn't do that, because I know how the universe works.

I wouldn't want to dwell on the fact that I'm vastly enjoying life in my new house with plenty of room for everyone. Or that my writing room has in fact remained a writing space, free of clutter, or other encroaching household items seeking storage space.

If I were foolish, I would curse myself by talking about how comfortable and inviting my writing chair is, or my new warm, furry lap blanket, or the horde of chocolate I have stashed away for NaNo writing sessions. I surely wouldn't want to mention that I suddenly have more story ideas than I will have time for this November.

Speaking of work going well enough to support two people, or at least well enough to pay the bills, would surely prod the powers that be to bring about some costly misfortune that would sideline my intention to be credit card debit free (creative financing for unexpected projects when we built our house two years ago) by spring of next year. 

I wouldn't want to invite an onslaught of poor reviews by saying that Sahmara has been well received or talk about the nice comments on the cover art from people at the author fair I attended last week.

No, doing any of these things would be just asking for trouble, and I certainly don't need that. So, instead, I'll just leave the whole topic of being generally healthy and happy with where I am in life out of this post and get back to planning my NaNo project, because, thankful or not, I can't seem to focus on that no matter how hard I try.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

IWSG October 2016

Welcome to this month's Insecure Writer's Group post. The question this month is:  When do you know your story is ready?

My stories are written in a flurry of words. They're messy and ugly. After one or ten edits, they go to my crit group where they point out all the ugly bits I overlooked. Around this time a story might be ready. It might not.

So how to know when? It's a feeling. And sometimes that feeling is wrong (like when multiple editors point out the same reasons for rejection). But, for the most part, it isn't.

It's a point where you can read the story and not have any doubts over a line or a paragraph, scene or chapter. When the story makes you smile and feels complete. When you've reached the point where you're fussing over a word choice and realize you're just screwing around rather than bucking up and putting it out in submissions.

The stage when you're sick of your story and don't ever want to see it again...unless you're holding a printed copy in your hand with your favorite signing pen in the other.

When you've run out of ideas of how to make it any better than the version in front of you. That's when it's time to either shelve it or pat it on the head, smile at it one last time and sent it off into the world to see what becomes of it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Back to Writing

With Sahmara released out into the world, I've been busy prepping for November and NaNoWriMo. That means brushing up on my annual Municipal Liaison list of things to do. This being my eighth year as an ML I rather have a system down so preparing everything for my region isn't near as stressful as it used to be.

Setting up the big events, getting the regional forum seeded with posts, starting to fill the calendar with scheduled events, it's all happening. I've got sixty goody bags ready to go, activities planned for the Kick off Party and our big mid-month write-in. Auction items are set aside and prizes are bagged and awaiting the fun to begin.

Now I have time to do some prep work on the novel I hope to finish this November. For the third year, though not consecutively, I will be working on Interface, a YA science fiction novel. Interface began as a short story in 2010 when I did 50K worth of short stories, which was an interesting exercise that resulted in a couple stories I was able to polish and publish and several others that haven't been touched in six years. Last year, I hauled Interface out and got it rolling as a novel. I dove into NaNo intending to finish it. Aaaaand then the niggling idea to write the third book of the Narvan hit me hard and I ended up writing that from beginning to end instead. So this year, darn it. I'm finishing Interface. Three NaNo years. It's time. So that means I'm reformatting my scattered efforts to a unified and non-distracting layout, taking notes and jotting down ideas for the path to resolution. With just over a month to go, I better quit with the distractions (like writing blog posts) and get on with the planning.

Friday, September 9, 2016

New Release: Sahmara

I'm happy to announce that Sahmara is live and ready for your reading enjoyment. This fantasy novel is available in both ebook and print and is currently free through Kindle Unlimited.

Back in 2006, I heard about this thing called NaNoWriMo and thought I'd give it a try. I'd just wrapped up my first full draft of Trust and wanted to see if I could really write a novel in a month rather than far too many years than I care to admit. As it turns out, I could! But it was short and unfinished and really rough.

Sahmara sat on my hard drive for many years before I got the itch to work on it again. Why? Other projects and life. Those things happen. But it's the getting back to and finishing of that matters.

This novel features my first foray into writing fantasy after much focus on soft science fiction as well as a bisexual main character. I like to try new things. In writing - just to be clear. In life I like to try new beers, that's my version of wild and crazy, otherwise I'm happy in my writing chair.

After ten long years of waiting patiently, I present you with: Sahmara.

Many prosperous decades of peace have made the people of Revochek apathetic toward their gods. Without fervent worship, the twin gods Mother and Hasi have grown weak. Unable to protect their worldly territory their cruel uncle, Ephius, and his devoted followers run rampant. Towns are plundered and the stench of death taints the air. Those that weren't killed or hiding are slaves. Without warriors to channel their powers, the Mother and Hasi are defenseless. If all of Revochek falls, the balance of the gods will be broken, paving the way for Ephius to plunge the entire world into war.

 Deep in the enemy country of Atheria, one young woman escapes her captors only to find herself alone, unarmed, and starving. Torn from her life of privilege and the arms of her ma’hasi lover, Sahmara is unfit for life on the run, and running is the only thing she knows to do in order to get home. The well-being of her family is unknown, and if Zane hadn’t been killed, he is a slave. No one is coming to save her.

Desperate, Sahmara prays for help. She does not expect her prayer to be answered by an ancient woman with a thirst for blood or that her single desperate plea might be the one that rescues them all.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Sahmara and September IWSG

I'm happy to say that August was a productive month. After ten years, I can finally say that Sahmara, my first fantasy novel, is done. I will be publishing the ebook soon and print copies shortly after to take to upcoming author events I'm attending.

Many prosperous decades of peace have made the people of Revochek apathetic toward their gods. Without fervent worship, the twin gods Mother and Hasi have grown weak. Unable to protect their worldly territory their cruel uncle, Ephius, and his devoted followers run rampant. Towns are plundered and the stench of death taints the air. Those that weren't killed or hiding are slaves. Without warriors to channel their powers, the Mother and Hasi are defenseless. If all of Revochek falls, the balance of the gods will be broken, paving the way for Ephius to plunge the entire world into war.

 Deep in the enemy country of Atheria, one young woman escapes her captors only to find herself alone, unarmed, and starving. Torn from her life of privilege and the arms of her ma’hasi lover, Sahmara is unfit for life on the run, and running is the only thing she knows to do in order to get home. The well-being of her family is unknown, and if Zane hadn’t been killed, he is a slave. No one is coming to save her.

Desperate, Sahmara prays for help. She does not expect her prayer to be answered by an ancient woman with a thirst for blood or that her single desperate plea might be the one that rescues them all.

More about Sahmara soon, but for now, its time for the monthly Insecure Writer's Group post.

This month's question: How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

I find it's easiest to write first thing in the morning before my mind is overwhelmed with the tasks I have to accomplish. I'm not ready to talk to real people, and it's a calm way to ease into my day while doing something productive.

This is also the time of day I do things I don't like to do when I'm fully awake, like clean toilets and shower drains. I can open up a document and not be bothered by sentences or entire paragraphs that might be as bad as that rotting hair glob slimy with weeks of conditioner and body wash. I can edit through my wordy glob of suck or I can simply overlook it and plow onward depending on where I am in the process. Mornings are a time for getting things done without dwelling on them.

If I had one of those magical plot breakthrough thoughts before I went to sleep or during the night, I can get that written while the words are fresh. I'd rather be writing than getting ready for work. It's the only time of day that I actually procrastinate by writing.

If the planets are aligned and the juices are flowing, I can usually get a thousand words or so down in the sixty to ninety minutes I have in the morning. On those days, if the ideas are still churning or I have the next scene to ponder, I can sneak back to my document on breaks and get those down in few minutes before getting back to work.

When I'm in major writing mode, I'll also take an hour before bed to crank out a little more, but for the most part, I'm a morning writer. Unless I'm cleaning toilets.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

This is a test of the Emergency Snark Harnessing System

There are days in working e-commerce that sorely test my Emergency Snark Harnessing System. Those days make up about 250 days out of the year.

Please, for the love of all that's holy, people, I know the internet is full of shiny, but read the description before you take the time to hunt down contact information and ask questions. I'd love to say there are no stupid questions, but yes, yes there are. A lot of them. And almost all of them can be answered in the privacy of your own home and head by just reading the description of the item you're looking to purchase.

The fact about these that amazes me most is that people take the time to find the contact button and type a question, but can't take the time to read the few lines of information that are right there below the item photo. See photo, want thing, but all these...words. Bah. I'll just ask.

Let's say I'm selling a 8" x 12" poster of a pink flower in a white setting that is described as printed on a self-adhesive paper so no frame, putty, or pins are required. It is shown applied on a blue wall in a bedroom.

Some of my recent favorites from the trying-my-patience file and the responses the ESHS did not allow me to send:

I really like this poster. Is it self adhesive?

Does this poster glow in the dark?
Does it say it does? Is it shown glowing in the dark? Umm no. So why would you think it might?

Is this a poster?

What size is the bed in this room? I have a queen bed and am wondering how the poster would look in relation to that.
Do you not own a measuring device of any kind? Did you not consider that this would be so much easier to hold up to YOUR wall in the room with YOUR bed?

I have a green wall, do you think the poster will look good on that?
I am not in your house. I do not know what your wall or room looks like, and I'll hazard a guess my design tastes are different than yours. Do YOU think it will look good? I'm going to say yes because I want to pay my bills.

Will this poster work in a kitchen?
No, the adhesive is specially formulated to only adhere to bedroom walls.

How big is the poster?
Come on. You're not even trying. They are the only numbers in the entire three sentence description.

Will this poster dent my wall?
Does paper normally dent your wall? What are your walls made of that this is even a question?

How would I apply this poster to my wall? Does it require adhesive or pins?
Do you require reading glasses?

I have a frame that I picked up at a garage sale. It was gold but I didn't like it, so I painted it black. It turned out really nice. Last weekend I hung it on my living room wall, but it needs something. I think this poster is just the thing I'm looking for. Will it fit in my frame?
While I might enjoy reading about projects regarding refinishing and repurposing, I get my fix on blogs focusing on this stuff in my free time. Also, look around. Am I standing beside you with a tape measure? No. Have you provided measurements of the frame, which would answer your own question? No. Did you read the measurements of the poster that I clearly provided in the description? Again, no.

I would like a quote on a custom poster using the poem I have provided. I don't know how big I want it yet, but how much would it be?
Well, somewhere between $2 and $4,000. Get back to me when you look at your space and get an idea of how big you want it.

I want to order the poster you have listed. Please make it custom for me.
*crickets*  I'm supposed to know what you want customized, how?

I would like to order this poster, but I want it with the pink flower that is shown. How do I order that?
Uhhh, click the buy button? I don't know where you've shopped before, but we typically don't  randomly change the items from what is shown and then ship them out for giggles.

Can I order this poster with a different background instead of the blue one?
That is a wall. On that wall is the poster that is being sold. Think about it for two more seconds and the answer will become clear.

(On a customer note on an already purchased pink flower poster order waiting to be fulfilled): Please make this poster 16 x 24 and of a photo of a golden retriever playing in the grass. Thanks.
Sooo, you purchased an item and paid for it, but it's not at all what you actually want, and I'm supposed to provide art I don't have and double the size for no additional charge. Does this tactic work anywhere else? No? Amazing. It doesn't work here either.

Reading: It's important. Except for that last one. That was just amazingly assumptive and fully deserving of snark.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Gone in a Flash

Time for another ISWG post. I just got back from a lovely massage and am all nice and relaxed...except for the continuous need for a box of Kleenex thanks to allergy season. But, rather than dwell on my dripping nose, how about I grump about my apparent inability to write flash.

For years I have tried to be succinct, to cover a story from beginning to end in under a thousand words, to work in details and make it feel whole. Yet, my most recent attempt has returned to me with several rejections with lovely comments (all comments truly are lovely and very much appreciated even when I might grump about them here) to the tune of: I like the idea/characters/plot, but it feels like it needs more story.

If it needs more story, then its no longer in the flash category then is it?

So either I need to resign myself to the fact that I'm meant to stick with the short story lengths I'm good at, or I need to keep banging my head on the keyboard until I can make this work. Perhaps I should just accept that I don't write stories where no one dies, everyone gets their happily ever after or flash fiction. It's good to know one's limits, right? 

Friday, July 29, 2016

July Eye Report

July has been a whirlwind of evening and weekend activities. I started the month off by participating in a close by author event with thirty-some other authors, most local and some from distant shores.

Other than that one day, I took the month off from all things writing in favor of relaxing and showing our young Spanish guest around town. We spent a long weekend up around Mackinac Island, did a lot of biking, and ate a lot of pizza and ice cream. We did a lot of local sightseeing as well, visiting beaches, nature parks, malls, museums, and a large assortment of restaurants, shops and tourist attractions.

Now that she's gone, its back to cooking dinner, cleaning the house, hanging out with the chickens, gardening and, of course, writing. The first round of edits are in on Trust so I'll be hitting those hard and then waiting on round two and working on edits of Sahmara. Ah the joys of edits. I do actually enjoy them for the most part.
Speaking of chickens, two of the girls have finally started earning
their keep. We got our first eggs this week! I'm pretty sure these two are discussing the finer points of egg laying. Once all six get going, we should have enough eggs for all the friends, family and neighbors who have been inquiring about getting on the receiving end of our eggs.

While I've been taking a break from writing, I've been enjoying a great deal of reading and watching...

Top of my reading list, the first three books of the Outlander series. These 800 to 1000 page tomes have been good company to relax with out on the porch while the chickens roam about the yard. (We have a lot of predators around so they only get to roam while under supervision.) Now if only I could figure out how to turn off the Scottish accent that has invaded my head. Only a pile more of these giant books to go, I'm have a feeling I won't be hearing the last of that accent for a good long while.

On the watching front, we sped through The Shannara Chronicles now that all of the first season is available on Netflix. Our teen Spanish guest and our daughter enjoyed this. My husband and I mocked the incredible amount of angsty open mouth and round-eyed looks, guessing the predicable dialogue before it was spoken and counting the cliches as they flew by. But we did see the season out and would probably watch more if for nothing else than it's a fantasy series we can watch with our teenager. While there was some implied sex, it didn't venture into uncomfortable to watch together territory. I haven't read any of the books, though I hazard to assume they must be better than that show, and may attempt reading one in the future. I guess in that regard, the tv series did work.

We've also been working our way through the second season of Wayward Pines. I'm liking this season more than the first because of the exploration of the world rather than focusing on the reveal-centric themes of the first season. However, they've managed to kill off the majority of the main cast so it feels like either the writers are doing a lot of house cleaning or the series is going to hell fast. Time will tell if there is a third season.

My horrible sleep cycle (sleep sound for 3 or 4 hours, wake up for 1 or 2 and then sleep good again for 1 or 2 more), has allowed for a lot of early hour viewing with earbuds in my comfy chair where the light of my laptop doesn't bother anyone else. How badly have I been sleeping? Let's just say I've worked my way through ten seasons of Supernatural.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Heat is Here

Summer has finally hit Michigan in full force, bringing hot humid weather that some hate, and I generally enjoy. Yes, it can be miserable, but I prefer to appreciate the heat while it's here, knowing we'll be back to ice and snow soon enough.

The tomatoes are growing. Blueberry season is beginning and I've discovered this hybrid melon that tastes like a golden delicious apple. It is in fact, delicious.

July brought a halt to writing with the arrival of our student from Spain, who is spending the month here in Michigan. We had a great time with the student we hosted last year so we're doing it again. While our guest is quiet, on a level that rivals my daughter, we're managing to take some time each day to go do something fun, even it's just taking a walk to the dog park. Next weekend will bring a short road trip, but until then it's little adventures here and there.

In the midst of forth of July celebrations, I totally overlooked this months ISWG post last week. Oops! I shall make up for it next month.

For now, I'm off to enjoy the weather and an outdoor concert this evening. Next month I will have edits on Trust to dive into. I hope you're enjoying your summer too!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Time For A Garden

It's been a while since my last blog post. Either April burned me out far more than I'd realized or its one of those life got in the way things. More specifically work, but either way, my writing and blogging time has been relegated to the backseat for the past few weeks. I like to think it's sitting back there, making notes for when I allow it back into the passenger seat - hopefully not notes on how to do get back at me for making it sit in the back seat for so long. Because knowing the types of characters that I write, that's exactly what they are doing.

In the last post where I shared my garden, Andrea asked how to make time for yard work. Well, that's what we're going to chat about today.

As a mother who spent a lot of time on her flower beds from before kids onward into having teenagers, the first rule is: Plan to be interrupted at any given moment and work accordingly. This means, pick a small section, a corner, around a tree, the side of the house, whatever area doesn't feel entirely overwhelming. Acknowledge upfront that it won't get done in a day, or even maybe in a week. 

Get your tools together and check on the kids, whether they are in the house with someone else or running hilly nilly through the yard, and then get to work. If I'm going to be planting a new flowerbed, I'll spend the first round of time marking the area and then clearing the grass (or weeds). Then I'll dispose of whatever I just cleared - ideally in the mulch pile that I keep in the back of my yard. At this point, I could be done for the day, or if everyone is behaving, break up the dirt and make a plan for what I want to plant there. Again, I could be done for the day.

If all is well, I'll begin planting. This is a point where I really try to keep things picked up as I go along because if I've made it this far into a day, it's very likely I'll get pulled away by someone. If, by some miracle, I manage to get everything planted, its time to break out the hose, give it all a drink and then toss a bag or two of mulch around everything. The mulch is an important step and should be done as soon as possible after the dirt is broken up because weeds will pop up very quickly in that nice loose soil. Mulch will keep them to a minimum. Mulch is your friend.

Eventually one little area spreads into another and another and before you know it, or years later, depending on your level of interruptions and ambition, you'll have a lovely garden to show for your efforts.

Things to keep in mind:

Gardens take perpetual upkeep. Even with my gardens established, cleaned up and mulched, I spend around ten to twenty minutes a day walking through and plucking out weeds while appreciating whatever is flowering that day. Only make the garden as big as you feel you have the time to maintain.

Mulch has to be replaced every year if its not put on thick enough, and every two years to keep it freshed up and make up for decomposition. I used around 9 yards of mulch the first year and only 5 the second to fill in the thin areas and then make it all uniform in color. Around here, 5 yards of mulch is about $150. Another thing to keep in the budget.

Flowers will need to be thinned or replaced depending on how well they do.

Roses are pretty, but can be finicky and need pruning. I enjoy them in other people's gardens.

Avoid shrubs that need yearly pruning. Unless you have time for that sort of thing. I thought I did at my old house. I was wrong. I'm opting for less time and stress in this garden.

A curved bed is more visually interesting than a straight edged one. Lay out out a hose to get a feel for the edge line does work nicely. If you have a riding lawn mower, be aware of the types of curves it can and can't mow in one easy swoop. You don't want to have to break out the weed whip every time you mow because you made the curves too severe.

Beds with a border are easier to maintain. Bricks and edging blocks cost around $1 each and make a great border that can be mowed right over. At the current house, I opted for the cheap black plastic edging that get's half buried in the ground. Seems like it was $20 for 50 ft or thereabouts. Make sure to keep enough above to hold 3-4 inches of mulch back from your grass. Rocks can make a natual border, but you'll need that weed whip to keep things looking neat, and it doesn't do a spectuacular job of keeping your grass and flowers seperated wherever the rocks meet.

Perennials are awesome. They come back year after year, will spread, and can be divided. Check when they flower and try to mix them so something is always flowering in each bed. Generally, once established, perennials take a less watering than annuals. 

Ornamental grasses, dwarf trees and shrubs add interest beyond the usual flowers.

Ask friends and family for pieces of plants you like from their gardens. Free plants! I've lost track of how many people I've given plants to over the years. I have plants from both my grandmothers that I moved from the old house to this one. It's a great way to remember people once they are gone and, even better, you can continue to pass them on to others.

Watch the clearance racks at your local nursery or home improvement stores. 95% of everything I buy is clearance or on super sale. Sure, it won't look great the first year, but next the year, it will. Just make sure to avoid anything that has mildew, or anything that looks like a disease. The majority of clearance plants are there because they're done flowering or the season is winding down and the nursery just wants to clear out all this stuff that's totally root bound. July is a great time to snag plant deals.

Don't worry about it being small the first year. Plants grow. A $1 perennial will look like the $9 pot of the same thing next year.

You can put perennials in your pots, or mix them with annuals for more summer color. When fall rolls around, transplant the perennials from your pots into a new flower bed and you'll have a head start on next year's gardening project. Or, if its a fairly large pot, keep them in the pot and move the pot to a protected area by the house to minimize damage from freezing.

Rocks add interest to flower beds. Stack them, spread them out, use them as a border, throw one here and there. I happened across someone wanting two cargo van loads of rocks out of the backyard of a house they'd recently purchased. It didn't cost me anything more than a lot of sweat and the gas to drive across town.

Gardening is an excellent workout but don't forget to wear sunscreen, because unlike the gym, the sun will get you while you sweat.

How long does it take to make a flowerbed the size of mine? That totally depends on how much time you have. At my old house, I had a lot (a whole lot) of smaller bed areas that equaled the size if my now one giant bed. I created those small beds, as dealing with my infant to teenage kids allowed, over 18 years. At the new house, with self-sufficient teens, I created the bed in two and half months. It was a long and sweaty, exhausting two and half months, but well worth it to have the whole thing done.

Spending time out in the flowers is a wonderful place to go while pondering plots or when your characters stop talking to you.

Happy gardening!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


This year seems to be flying by and by the end of each day, I wonder where the time has gone. Things have been super busy with the oldest graduating last week, getting his Eagle Scout rank this week and finishing up on the financial paperwork for college. All things both stressful and exciting. The youngest is wrapping up her last few weeks of school, which means I get to play chaperone on a school trip to Chicago this weekend, along with an orchestra concert and honors ceremony also this week. I guess that sort of explains where time is going lately.

It certainly hasn't been going toward writing.

One of my giant flower pots.

Stepping stones my daughter and
I made years ago and moved to
our new house to create a path
down the hill
After signing the contract on The Narvan last month and diving in to edits on a couple short stories, I was brimming with energy. Then, overnight, I crashed hard. And so, sitting at the bottom of the enthusiasm well, I decided to step away from the laptop and get outside and enjoy what good weather Michigan has to offer.

We get about six awesome days a year. No, seriously. We went from dead of winter to summer, then back to a couple days of spring, back to winter, and back to summer. Bodies should not have to go from winter coats to shorts in a matter of two days, and back and forth. In between all that was a lot of rain, which turned everything into a swampy mess. It's currently summer but the mosquitos haven't yet gotten the memo, so it's enjoyable to be outside.

The front of the house walkway flower garden.
We found this old plow on the property when we purchased it.
Though it's broken, it makes a good garden decoration.
The garden I started last summer needed a lot of weeding and five yards of mulch to cover all the thin spots from last year's application. And all of that was up hill. It was a good workout and I managed to get my first sunburn of the year in May.

I'm amazed how well everything is coming in already. 98% of what I bought and planted last year was on clearance. Meaning it was either half-dead, mostly dead, root-bound to or the extreme. Yet, all but five plants have come up and gone crazy. The pansies from the one pot I had on the porch last year seem to have seeded themselves all over my garden. Which is awesome.  Free plants! I prefer not to buy annuals other than to fill my pots. Everything in the garden is perennial. In fact, most of what I put in the pots is too. I just pull it out in the fall and put it in open places in the garden.

These were all rocks we either found on the property, that
we transported over from our previous house, or hauled out
of a backyard for a guy we found on Craigslist in the middle
of the hottest part of  last summer. Let's just say there's a lot
of sweat involved with these rocks.
The plants are coming in so well that I will have to split several of them already after only one year. They really love this soil! Plants in the garden at my previous home didn't look this good after ten years. It's pretty neat to see plants actually grow like they do in the pictures in flower catalogs.

The ground cover I planted last year was honestly just a few little sprigs and now those pathetic little bits are lush mounds that have spread all through the rocks. As rain washed over the rocks and broke tiny pieces off, depositing them down the hill, they've spread all over. At this rate, I won't need much mulch in a few years.

Next year's project is putting in a pond with a couple waterfalls, but for now, the rocks are in place to fill that area. Now that the hard gardening work is done for the year, I can sit back and enjoy watching things grow. And, of course, get back to writing...right after I stain the deck.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

April and May Eye Report

It's been awhile since I've done a report post so it feels like there's a lot to say. Sorry for the long post.

Before I get started, if you're in the market for book cover artwork, my writing buddy Marion Sipe is having a 25% off sale. Check out her Facebook page to see some of her work.

And while we're on writing, after the last post regarding my project pile, I decided to dive into editing short stories. Violets, written from your V word suggestions during April, has been polished up and sent out into submissions. I'm currently mulling how to fix Tickle, a sci-fi short that's been sitting in my editing pile for a couple years now after some editorial feedback. Aaaand, pondering cover art for Sahmara, the fantasy novel I intend to self publish at some point this summer. I'm also having my first meeting tomorrow with the editor I'll be working with on The Narvan series.

Now then, back April and most of May and all the things my eyeballs read and watched.

On the watching front:
Helix: As much as I wanted to stay awake for the CDC and Immortals duking it out, Billy Campbell's whispery raspy voice puts me to sleep. When I was able to stay awake, I found this show creepy, disturbing (particularly the second season), and outfitted with just enough twists to keep things interesting. I was disappointed to find out there wouldn't be a third season.

The White Queen: I stumbled across this by chance and thought, 'hey, this sounds like a familiar title'. Well yeah, the book has been sitting on top of one of my TBR piles for about a year now. Duh. I knew I was in for goodness because: Phillipa Gregory. Again, I was disappointed the series didn't continue, but the show did a wonderful job of making history interesting. If only history was written as fictionalized romance in school, I would have paid a lot more attention. Now I guess I better get on reading the book. Oh, but there are so many books in my stacks.

Daredevil: We danced around whether to give this a try or not so soon after Jessica Jones, which we did like, but never quite fell in love with. And well, this seemed very similar as far a setting and superhero and plot. Loved the first season, with all the action, and trying to balance the day job with late night crime fighting and you know, being blind. The second season, while still pretty good, got really predictable. As in there would always be that one bad guy that survived just long enough for DD to ask him who had done this to him (because it was him). Always. To the point we started placing bets on which guy would be in the brink of death but still helpfully talking. But, for a superhero series, it had decent character depth and I'll be waiting for the third season. Punisher, meh. Every time I saw him, I kept saying to myself, hey, it's Shane, still being an asshole just like on Walking Dead. And Electra, also not a huge fan. While I did like that she wanted to be good, but was evil...but was good... and I lost track, her character generally lacked the depth I was looking for.

The Ranch: Totally going off what I normally sit down to, my husband suggested we give something funny a try. I hate laugh tracks. Just throwing that out there. But I like funny, and the show slowly grew on me. While a lot of the humor felt like Ashton Kutcher & Danny Masterson rehashing their roles on That '70s Show, but all grown up and as the sons of a cattle rancher, I did enjoy the relationship with their father and his odd relationship with their mother. A couple scenes where even touching.  

Not to mention Game of Thrones! So far I feel quite good about where this season is going. In fact, I'm downright happy with it. Which means someone is probably going to die and piss me off again.

I'm also watching Fear the Walking Dead, but I'm not sure why anymore. At this point in the series, I'm over the interest I had in seeing out the zombie outbreak occurred and how civilization broke down. I'm mostly hoping that the entire cast gets eaten and the show ends. Other than Salazar and Strand, they're all so busy being stupid, it's amazing they haven't become a main course yet. I take back everything I've ever said about TWD's Carl wandering off like a idiot. These kids, they're morons. And they're older. There's no excuse for any of them to act as irresponsibly as they are in these situations. I want to support the Walking Dead universe, I do, but my tolerance for stupid has been reached.

I started my reading rush with Sherrilyn Kenyon, because it gets my eyes warmed up and my brain in reading mode. After pouring through Fantasy Lover and The Guardian, I was ready to branch out into something beyond paranormal romance.

Next up was Hunter by Mercedes Lackey. I've read, well, a shelf worth of her books, though it's been a long, long time. So when this turned up on the top of my daughter's stack of books she brought home from her book club, I grabbed it out of curiosity. Would I still enjoy her writing? Tons of world building here and an interesting point of view in the girl main character that goes a smidge too third wall for my taste, yet it was an enjoyable foray into YA fantasy, and I'm looking forward to the next book.

Then I tried to get into a cyberpunk novel, but after a couple days of attempting to get to a point where the story grabbed me, there came a point where I had to admit that it just wasn't working for me, despite that I've enjoyed other novels by this author before. I may hang on to it and try again in a few months when I'm in a different mindset.

Next on my stack was Karen Marie Moning's The Highlander's Touch. I spent an enjoyable day of reading your typical portal romance and delivered reliably the quality experience I've come to expect from this author when I'm in the mood for a little highlander flavor. And while I was at it, a couple weeks later, discovered I had another book from the same series so I flew through Spell of the Highlander as well. I do enjoy her plucky heroines and their humor. And now I find myself thinking in the Scottish tone she uses in her books. Guess I better read something else to wash the Scot away.

Ever have one of those nights when you should go to sleep, but instead grab a book, and then realize you've read it before, but you stay up half the night and read it again anyway? Yeah, I did that. I think I've gone through all the Sherrilyn Kenyon in all my stacks now. Maybe. I haven't checked my writing room stack and I probably shouldn't. Devil May Cry was just as enjoyable the second time around.

Next up was Christine Feehan's Dark Storm. Which wasn't in any of my stacks, but was at the book store on sale while I was there doing a job. Damn you sale racks. I need to get out of my paranormal romance rut. But I did appreciate that this book, while one of the Carpathian Novels, was a bit different than her usual formula. I like different.

Okay so the next book I read will not be paranormal romance. Really. And I need to stay out of the bookstore.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

So Many Projects

With the frenzy of April behind me, I've had time to get all three novel drafts for the The Narvan sent off to my publisher and do a fairly major overhaul of Sipper, a long sci-fi short story. Today's plan is to get that off into submissions. But then that leaves at a crossroads of far too many choices.

Sahmara, a fantasy novel, is on the radar for self publishing - which means I'll need to devote time to editing and formatting and cover art. It's had time to rest after a heavy round of critiques and edits so my eyes will be fresh again, however...

Interface has been haunting me through my daughter's disapproving looks every time I mention that I'm working on something other than the YA sci-fi that I dove into last November and then set aside on in favor of writing Bound in Blue (The Narvan: Book 3). Oops. Sorry.

I'd love to get back to Not Another Bard's Tale, which I left hanging without a middle in 2009. Working on a silly fantasy novel would be a good pick me up for this very random spring we're having. It's the middle of may and it's currently in the low 40s. It actually snowed nearby last night. In May. The weekend before it was nicely in the 70s. Michigan weather is known for being random, but this is a little too over the top.

And then there are a host of short stories that need work. My submission pile is dry and needs refilling.

So many projects... Which to work on while I await the first round of edits on Trust?

Monday, May 9, 2016

A to Z Reflections 2016

Another April A to Z has come to a close. (Thank goodness)
I picked the least graphic photo.
You're welcome. And yes,
it really did hurt like hell,
but I turn into a comedian
when bad things happen. Don't
sit next to me at funerals.

April brought all sorts of interruptions to my intended writing productiveness. The first of which, on the eve of A to Z, was accidentally slicing off the tip of my index finger while making dinner. Not the best thing to do with a month of off the cuff blogging ahead of me. Mashing the keys with my giant gauze-wrapped finger didn't go so well and, for the first week or so, put be behind as far as visiting other blogs because it was just frustrating and painful to type.

While that was healing, the machine that is one of my primary income sources for my business decided to act up and behave like a two year old being force-fed an all vegetable dinner. For three long days I was covered in blue ink - no, seriously, my hands and arms looked like I'd violently murdered every single smurf that may have ever existed - while I played equipment tech and finally tracked down the faulty part and replaced it.

Which put me three full days behind on production, meaning I was working a lot of overtime trying to catch back up during one of our busiest months. One the whole, the work aspect of April was incredibly stressful and didn't allow me the time and energy I'd hoped for as far as spending time writing story starts. I still managed to do them all, just not as in depth or on time as I had wanted to.

On the more exciting side of things that distracted me from A to Z this year, was emailing back and forth to discuss a deal with my publisher that resulted in a three book contract for my space opera series, The Narvan.

But I made it through and wrote 26 short story starts, one of which became a full story. I visited blogs, made blog friends, and had a lot of laughs while reading some hilarious posts in a month that I really needed some stress relief.

What would I do differently next year? Write half the posts in advance. Having done posts both ways, each for two years, I'm ready to go with a combination and give myself a little slack. I'd love to continue with the short stories based on words visitors provide, but I'd also probably do some posts on random things to break them up, maybe every other day.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to stop by, some of you each and every day, and for all the words you so generously offered to inspire me. I hope you'll continue to hang around.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Guest Post by Author Susan A Royal

Today I welcome, Susan A Royal, author of the newly released, Xander's Tangled Web.

I've read Susan's Not Long Ago, and greatly enjoyed her time travel tale. I hope you'll enjoy her books too.

                                                  ~ • ~
When Princess Mena vanishes without a trace, Xander must deal with gypsies, love potions and half-truths before unraveling the mystery.
                                                  ~ • ~

After a late night visit to Battington’s marketplace, Princess Mena vanishes without a trace. Merchants are frantic, because King Leander has called for a curfew and postponed the Spring Festival
until further notice. Certain his former constable is the man for the job, the mayor hires Xander to investigate, hoping he can solve the mystery in a hurry so things can go back to normal. But Xander’s not so sure that’s possible, because there’s romance involved, and he knows when that happens folks who are normally very sensible seem to lose all reason. In addition to sorting out truths, half-truths and outright lies, he must deal with gypsies, love potions and an illegal moonshine operation before he gets to the bottom of things.

Find more about Susan and her books:
Xander’s Tangled Web (fantasy, mystery)

In My Own Shadow (fantasy, adventure, romance)

Not Long Ago (time travel, adventure, romance)
Not Long Ago book trailer

All books available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads
And you can find more about Susan at her website or her blog.

Born in west Texas and raised in south Texas, Susan makes her home in a 100-year-old farmhouse in a small east Texas town. She shares it with a ghost who likes to harmonize with her son when he plays guitar.
She is married and the mother of six (she counts her children’s spouses as her own) and five grandchildren who are all unique and very special. Her family is rich with characters, both past and present. Her grandmother shared stories of living on a farm in Oklahoma Territory with three sisters and three brothers and working as a telephone
operator in the early 20 th century. Her father told her about growing up in San Antonio in the depression, and she experienced being a teenager during WWII through her mother’s eyes.

When she isn’t writing, she works as a secretary in education and does her best to keep up with her grandchildren. Music and painting are two of her passions. She is a firm believer in getting what you want without breaking the bank. She loves to bargain shop anywhere there’s a sale and began repurposing long before it was popular. She paints,
crafts and sews. Her office/craft/sewing room is littered with her latest projects.

Susan loves to take her readers through all kinds of adventures with liberal doses of
romance. So far, she’s written two books in her It’s About Time series, Not Long Ago and
From Now On. They are time travel adventures with romance about two people who fall
in love despite the fact they come from very different worlds. In My Own Shadow is a
Fantasy adventure/romance. Out this fall is her YA fantasy, Xander’s Tangled Web.
Look for her books at MuseItUp/Amazon/B&N. You can also find Odin’s Spear, one of
her short stories featured in a Quests, Curses, and Vengeance anthology, Martinus
Publishing, available on Amazon.

Want to know more? Visit or
for a peek inside this writer’s mind and see what she’s up to. You never know what new
world she’s going to visit next.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May IWSG and a Happy Annoucement

Is it really the first Wednesday of the month again? Where did April go? Oh yes, it was a blur of A to Z blogging.

Which would typically bring me to A Story a Day in May, my annual attempt to refill my short story file with rough drafts. However, after a month of exchanging emails with my publisher, the contract I'd been waiting for finally arrived in my inbox. What contract you might ask?

I'm happy to announce that the first three books in my space opera series, The Narvan, will be published with Caffeinated Press.

I don't have a publishing schedule yet, but I will share that information when it becomes available. First up will be Trust, which has had a very long journey. I'm excited to finally share this story with a wider audience than my critique group.

So what happened to my short story effort? Well, I'm busy learning Markdown, which is what my publisher is now using for edits. What better way to learn it than my doing a quick revision of the drafts of the second and third books? The formatting is pretty straightforward and things are plugging right along. Which means I should soon be back to revising Sipper - which is a short story, albeit a long short story, for an end of the month anthology submission deadline. Once that's out of the way, I'm hoping to get back into the spirit of things and either churn out some new drafts or revisit some of the many drafts I have in my folder from the past two years that I still haven't gotten to.

While I revise and celebrate, I invite you to stop back on the 6th for an interview with author
Susan Royal about her newest book.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A to Z: The final story start

After a long two days at a science tournament with my daughter, I'm finally back with the final entry for the A to Z short story beginning.

I spent a good portion of our school bus ride full of young science kids with my partner in snark and fellow team mom, Debra. We passed the miles by chatting while the kids and other parents did their best not to annoy the slightly retentive bus driver, who while a sweet woman, may have benefited from a valium before we set out across the state. One of conversations we had was about names and the perils of autocorrect. What follows is a partially true story.

Z story:
Debra finished the last two sentences of her scathing resignation letter, signed it and hit send. She'd been the victim of one of many of her bosses zingers. He thought they were the funniest things on earth, just the byproduct of his zany humor, but no one in the office found being the butt of his jokes funny. Especially not her, and yesterday's comment about her zipper in front of the entire office was the last straw.
If that guy was a zombie, she'd be first in line to knife him in the eye, but good references were hard to come by so she had to do this the right way, and he wasn't undead, and the police frowned upon stabbing co-workers. Maybe she'd finish up her two weeks and go work at her sister's zip-line business. Strapping in tourists willing to drop a hundred bucks for half an hour of treetop thrills didn't sound so bad. Sure beat sitting at a desk all day, checking email and generating reports.
Her inbox chimed. She opened the speedy reply to her letter only to find a row of laughing emoticons. Confused she skimmed her email only to have her stomach drop when she reached the bottom. For a moment she seriously considered crawling under her desk. In haste to send off her letter, she hadn't noticed her name being autocorrected. Who on earth was going to anything Zebra Jones said seriously? No one. All the pent up frustration she'd channeled into her letter had been wasted, and now she'd never live down a barrage of zebra memes sure to come her way any second.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

A to Z: Short Beginnings Z

2016 THEME: Short Stories - at least the beginnings thereof.
YOUR PART: Throw out names, themes, random words or situations using the letter of the day and I'll pick some of them to include in the opening paragraphs of a short story.
WHY: I'm most inspired when there's a challenge involved. Usually that means an opening line or a theme. This month: your words.

My creative blender awaits your Z word suggestions in the comments section. Stop by tomorrow's post to read the story you inspired.

Looking for more great blogs? Check out the massive list of A to Z Challenge participants.

And thank you all who stopped by throughout the month. Z story will be posted tomorrow and don't forget to stop by during May to check in on my short story month progress and, of course, the A to Z wrap up post.

Y Story:
The first rays of light shown over the desert, revealing that Yvonne really was still in the middle of nowhere. She groaned, holding her hand over the gash in her side and again cursed the sign she'd missed about the hairpin turn, she'd also missed. The light of the morning did nothing to improve the sight of her crumpled car. Or the blood, both dried and fresh, on her shirt.
Nothing but empty road, yuccas and prickly bushes bearing yellow flowers in all directions. She wanted to scream, but it would probably just attract those yucky vultures. Instead, she stuffed the bottle of water she'd picked up the night before at a gas station into her purse along with the flashlight and lighter she kept in her glove box and struck out along the road the way she'd come.

Friday, April 29, 2016

A to Z: Short Beginnings Y

2016 THEME: Short Stories - at least the beginnings thereof.
YOUR PART: Throw out names, themes, random words or situations using the letter of the day and I'll pick some of them to include in the opening paragraphs of a short story.
WHY: I'm most inspired when there's a challenge involved. Usually that means an opening line or a theme. This month: your words.

My creative blender awaits your Y word suggestions in the comments section. Stop by tomorrow's post to read the story you inspired.

Looking for more great blogs? Check out the massive list of A to Z Challenge participants.

X story: (ugh, X was hard! Thank you for all the suggestions so I could find a few that worked together.)
Ximena cranked up her music, glad the others in the lab had gone home so they couldn't see her singing her favorite Abba song, Xanadu into her microscope. She was just about to belt out the second verse when she caught what sounded like the door closing. Spinning around, she came face to face with Xenophon, her perpetually crotchety boss. Not that she blamed him, if her parents had named her for some ancient Greek historian that everyone had a hard time pronouncing, she'd have a chip on her shoulder too.
His eyes narrowed and his lips drew into a scowl. "What exactly are you doing, Ms. Fischer?"
She scrambled to close her music player on her laptop and return the screen to the chart she was working on. "Sorry, sir, it won't happen again."
"How is the study of the xanthium samples coming along?"
"Quite well." She zoomed in the chart, pointing at the x-axis. "See, I've isolated the genes that cause the burrs. We'll be able to pass them along to Dr. Washington for the trials tomorrow."
Ximena chewed her lip. Her stomach twisted and the muscles in her neck tensed. The few moments of relief from the music gone. "Are we doing the right thing here? I mean, what if the mutated crops get out of control? Starving our enemies is one thing, but we could be talking about an end to farming over the entire world."

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A to Z: Short Beginnings X

2016 THEME: Short Stories - at least the beginnings thereof.
YOUR PART: Throw out names, themes, random words or situations using the letter of the day and I'll pick some of them to include in the opening paragraphs of a short story.
WHY: I'm most inspired when there's a challenge involved. Usually that means an opening line or a theme. This month: your words.

My creative blender awaits your X word suggestions in the comments section. Stop by tomorrow's post to read the story you inspired.

Looking for more great blogs? Check out the massive list of A to Z Challenge participants.

W story:
Water lapped against the body washing against the beach, never quite finding purchase on the pebbled shore. Nearby, two joggers whispered. Winnie made a note to talk to them after she was done examining the body.
She peered over the windswept sand, hoping for more witnesses, but other than the wake of a speedboat that was quickly disappearing into the distance, and her partner, Pat Wiley, the joggers seemed her best hope for answers.
"Don't let them leave," she said to Pat. The sand worked its way into her shoes and ground against her knees as she bent over the dead willowy girl.
He winked. "Will do."
Winnie gritted her teeth, her new partner was far more interested flirting with her than following orders. She swore he only heard half of what she said every time she opened her mouth. "No, don't. Let. Them. Leave."
"Right." He grinned.
She swore he checked out her ass before he headed up the beach. That he'd made it through the academy was a wonder.
The girl's wooden limbs were a good indication of her time of death. Gauging by the rigor mortis and lack of bloating, she'd died overnight. The bullet hole in her chest seemed to scream that murder was involved. Winnie sighed and pulled out her phone to call for the forensics team, but the wireless signal was nonexistent out here. This was normally such a quiet town, but now she had a true whodunit on her hands.