Friday, August 6, 2010


You may or may not have noticed that I completely forgot to post on Wednesday. It’s the first time I’ve missed posting since I began this blog, and I’m thinking it might be a sign. I’ve been massively distracted by a number of things for a while now, but this summer it’s been so much so that I’ve not been able to write a word or prepare anything I normally do for the start of the new school year.

Because of this, I’m feeling really pressured to get things done, so I’ll be taking a hiatus from blogging for the rest of the month. Hopefully I can wrestle real life into some semblance of control and find the time to make the rounds of my blogging friends for something good to read and comment on. I’ve missed doing that and hope you don’t think too badly of me for not keeping up with you.

Anyway, enjoy the rest of your summer, and I’ll see you in September.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Celebrate Monday

Happy Monday everybody. Sorry to be so late. I hope you all had a great weekend. It’s time once again as we start a new week to celebrate ourselves. Tell us about something good that happened to you. Something that made you happy. Something that you did that made you feel good.

It doesn’t have to be big news or anything earth shattering. Small is good, too.

So in that vein, what I want to celebrate some quality weekend time with my daughter as we went to see Inception. Such beautiful people. Such beautiful suits. And a really great story that reminded me of the value of layering. I love learning something cool about story telling sitting in a cool theatre with popcorn and pop, my daughter, and a very cool, well told story.

So what’s going on with you? What’s making you happy and/or going well in your life? Share it with us and celebrate yourselves.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Welcome to the final weekend in July. This officially kicks off my massive and continuing panic attacks about the beginning of school and how little I've prepared for it. It also reminds me of how few days I have left to wake up at a reasonable time, linger over multiple cups of coffee while listening to the quiet and the chirping of birds while I sit on my patio and enjoy the morning. I've always hated the end of summer. It feels a little bit like death to me. I haven't met any of the goals I had set for myself this summer. Haven't even come close. I'm hoping my state of paralysis changes for the better soon, and that as I get into the start and swing of the year, I can once again string together coherent sentences and write.

How about you? How do you feel about the impending end of summer?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What summer?

Where has the summer gone? As a teacher, I have always approached August with little less than a panic attack. There’s so much to do. Lesson plans, opening your classroom, in-service days, professional training, slideshows to make, teacher pages and blackboard classes to update, direction sheets and work sheets to be created and copied. The list is never-ending. And teachers operate on a different calendar than others. This is the beginning of our year, and so much rides on it. If I’ve prepped and worked all summer, I can start the year more easily, and it unfolds much less stressfully. If I haven’t had the time or the chance to do all that prep, the year gets off to a rocky start and goes downhill quickly from there. I’m hoping to get it all together during August, so we’ll see.

Is writing for you the same? Tons of prep and then a fairly easy delivery of your writing? Or do you do it the other way? Less prep, more pantsing? I’ve been working on transitioning to some hybrid approach that I’m still not sure is a good thing. How about you?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Celebrate Monday

Happy Monday everybody. I hope you all had a great weekend. It’s time once again as we start a new week to celebrate ourselves. Tell us about something good that happened to you. Something that made you happy. Something that you did that made you feel good.

It doesn’t have to be big news or anything earth shattering. Small is good, too.

So in that vein, what I want to celebrate this Monday is some great advice I read over the weekend. Given the roller coaster ride not only of real life, but of the writing process and the journey to publication, it should come as no surprise to anyone that some pretty negative emotions can surface along the way. James Scott Bell over at The Kill Zone has a great post here about envy and what writers can do to mitigate its devastating effects. Check it out and tell me: Does envy make you miserable? How do you cope with it?

And on a happier note, what is going on with you? What’s making you happy and/or going well in your life? Share it with us and celebrate yourselves.

Friday, July 23, 2010


TGIF! Sorry to be so late, but it’s been a long, difficult week. All told, it’s been a brutal few months, and I’m feeling more than a bit distracted. But I did find this really interesting post over at Plot Whisperer in celebration of pantsers. Click here to check out the role of cause and effect as a really great strategy for writers of all kinds and tell me: Do you write this way?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Decisions, decisions

If you’re like me, you periodically undergo a conscience of crisis. Well, at least one at a time, if they’re well-behaved. The one I’m talking about is the question of writing the story that is in you burning bright and wanting to get out, and writing the story for the market, the one you know will find an agent, audience, and sell. I have two novel WIPs stalled in progress because I can’t even figure out what genre they would fit into and I’m convinced no one will want to read them. On the other hand, I know I could write something in a genre I have no real interest in and have that move.

Elizabeth Spann Craig from Mystery Writing is Murder has a guest post about this very thing over at Alan Orloff’s A Million Blogging Monkeys. Check it out here and tell me: Do you write for the market or yourself?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Celebrate Monday

Happy Monday everybody. Once again, I’m sorry I'm late. I hope you all had a great weekend. It’s time once again as we start a new week to celebrate ourselves. Tell us about something good that happened to you. Something that made you happy. Something that you did that made you feel good.

It doesn’t have to be big news or anything earth shattering. Small is good, too.

This weekend I participated in Tessa’s Blogfest of Death. Scroll down to Sunday’s post to read my entry and for the links to catch the other wonderful writers who participated. I also even managed to make some headway on my crit group reading.

What about you? What’s making you happy and/or going well in your life? Share it with us and celebrate yourselves.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blogfest of Death

Today is the day that Tessa over at Tessa’s Blurb is hosting her Blogfest of Death. There are a whole bunch of fantastic writers signed up, so after you finish here click here and go check them out. My entry is the scene immediately following the one I did for Mary McDonald’s Terror Tuesday Blogfest about a month ago. You can click here if you want to read that scene. If not, just read below.

He staggers out of the barracks into the first cold, grey light of dawn, bumping off bodies skeletal and empty-eyed stumbling into strained lines in the center of the yard.

Eyes tearing with cold lock forward. Face still, he stands and stares, watches a dull sun arc along a thin, tight horizon.

Nothing moves across the raw, barren, black terrain beyond the watchtowers; scorched earth, all that’s left of a long ago burn.

Down the line, somewhere to his right, someone’s hacking up the latest plague. Spine straight, head unbowed, his fingers curl into white-knuckled fists at his sides.

The wind shifts; carries the smell of burning from the remains of a wild fire dancing along the serrated slopes just past the dead fields.

The sound of the shot explodes in his head. All-too-familiar rage and fear and shame churn in his gut; tighten his chest.

Wet, grey flakes of snow and ash fall through the raw, cold daylight; filter through the dead trees, the charred, lifeless trunks still standing sightless watch on the other side of the fence line.

Ash and ice, cold and wind stretch and move across the waste like a living thing, breathe harsh and jagged along the grey, serpentine river that snakes past the camp, cleaving the cauterized landscape.

He doesn’t think he’ll survive another winter.

The jolt from the stun stick slides down his spine; buckles his knees. Hard hands shove; send him staggering across the yard.

He doesn’t look at the body or the spreading spill of bright crimson against grey on his way to the pit.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I Write Like

I’ve seen this site I Write Like several places around the blogosphere and thought I’d give it a try. Click on the link, copy and paste a section of your writing into the special box and some techno-magic analyzes your words and tells you who you write like. I copied and pasted three different samples of stuff I’ve written and came up with the following responses: I write like James Joyce in one of them, like Chuck Palahniuk in another one, and Margaret Atwood in the last one. I think that’s pretty interesting company.

Go ahead and give it a try. Who do you write like?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Road Map

James Scott Bell over at The Kill Zone has a great post here on what you need to do with your manuscript to make it the best it can be before you submit. They’re good, straightforward suggestions from somebody who knows what he’s talking about, and I was pretty pleased to see that most of the suggestions are ones I follow. You’d think I’d be a whole lot happier with my work.

Anyway, check it out and tell me: What do you think of the suggestions? Which ones do you regularly follow? Do you have any other suggestions?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Celebrate Monday

Happy Monday everybody, sorry I'm late. I hope you all had a great weekend. It’s time once again as we start a new week to celebrate ourselves. Tell us about something good that happened to you. Something that made you happy. Something that you did that made you feel good.

It doesn’t have to be big news or anything earth shattering. Small is good, too.

Lately just getting through a weekend is celebration enough for me on a Monday. I cleaned house like a mad woman, between watching World Cup games, so now I get to sit and enjoy the fruits of my labor as I continue to work on the WIP. It’s growing and who knows? It might make novel status. I’m even trying to make headway on my crit group reading.

What about you? What’s making you happy and/or going well in your life? Share it with us and celebrate yourselves.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Do you recycle?

Writers write. A lot. And a lot of those words don’t end up getting used in final scenes. They’re locked up in stories and scenes and first drafts that never see the light of day. They’re cut or put away and forgotten. And a while ago Copyblogger had an interesting post on recycling creative content that made me think.

Over the period of about the last ten years, I’ve written a lot of stories set in the same universe about the same characters. Short things, middle length things, long things. And I never noticed that with some connective tissue put in between them and some minor changes in POV and such, a lot of those things could be reworked into a larger piece like maybe a novella/novel.

Have you ever done that? Reworked your own work into something else?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Short v. Long

As I wrestle with the novella/maybe/wannabe novel, I’ve been thinking a lot about writing style. I’ve said before how long and how hard I’ve worked to cut down on my verbiage, to pare down my writing to the essential words and to make those words work in a very spare writing garden. But I also find that I like reading lush description when that’s done right and well and isn’t simply the result of spraying words for filler.

That carries over to first drafts as well. Write It Sideways has an interesting post on the pros and cons of writing short v. long first drafts here. Check it out and tell me: How do you write your first drafts? Short or long? And is that style reflected in your final draft? Or are you a universe away from where you started after rounds of revisions?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Celebrate Monday and a question or two

Happy Monday everybody. I hope you all had a great weekend. It’s time once again as we start a new week to celebrate ourselves. Tell us about something good that happened to you. Something that made you happy. Something that you did that made you feel good.

It doesn’t have to be big news or anything earth shattering. Small is good, too.

I’m about one scene from completing a 35,000 word novella. I thought about trying to work it up to 80-85,000 words and novel status, but I think I kind of like it just the way it is.

I’m not very familiar with the novella as a form. I know some of my favorite books are novellas, but beyond that, nada. My questions to you are:

Are any of you familiar with or have written novellas? Is there a market for them? Is the submission process the same as for novels? Anything anyone has to offer will be greatly appreciated.

Enough about me. What about you? What’s making you happy and/or going well in your life? Share it with us and celebrate yourselves.

Friday, July 2, 2010

TGIF! and a Contest

Just a couple of things before I wish everyone a Happy Holiday Weekend. Abby Annis is having a 200 followers celebration and contest. Go here to check it out for the chance to win some very cool swag.

My current WIP, which apparently is also my once and future WIP is chugging away. I am, however, in dire need of naming help. My male lead needs a name, so if you are so inclined, please leave me your suggestions in a comment.

That’s it folks. Short and sweet. If you are traveling this fine weekend, have a safe trip. If not, I hope you enjoy the fun and frivolity of BBQ and fireworks at home. Happy Fourth and I’ll see you on Monday.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer escape

Recently, when Aubrie over at Flutey Words asked if anyone wanted to review Jester’s Folly, the latest in her Carnival of Illusions series, I happily volunteered and ended up not only having the pleasure of reviewing that story, but also the first two entries in the series Seer’s Destiny and Chameleon’s Colors.

The series is a bright, breezy read that I enjoyed very much, a tour through a vibrant world where young women like Vira, Kaylee, and Mina, young women tormented and blessed by their unique circumstances confront issues of choice/decisions and their costs/consequences. Aubrie creates likeable characters in these young women, and asks the question: Is fate inevitable or can these young women face their fears and their mistakes to create their own fate?

The first two entries in the series have more of a fantasy element; Jester’s Choice a more straightforward tale of a young woman tormented by a mistake in her past. All three entries are tied together by the strong description and vivid imagery and relationships of the Masquerade Carnival, the world Aubrie brings to life.

If you get a chance to visit, I think you’ll enjoy the journey.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Celebrate Monday

Happy Monday everybody. I hope you all had a great weekend. It’s time once again as we start a new week to celebrate ourselves. Tell us about something good that happened to you. Something that made you happy. Something that you did that made you feel good.

It doesn’t have to be big news or anything earth shattering. Small is good, too.

I'm thankful beyond belief that the weekend is over. I've never felt more grateful or celebratory to see a Monday. I hope this brings the start of a better time. I'm still adding words to my WIP with a modicum of enthusiasm, so I hope that continues too.

What about you? What’s making you happy and/or going well in your life? Share it with us and celebrate yourselves.

Friday, June 25, 2010


This week I was gifted with the very lovely award above by both Callie over at Chimera Critiques and Julie Dao at Silver Lining. I have to share seven things and pass it on to fifteen others. Here goes:

1. This summer for me, change is the theme. We'll see how that works out.
2. I'm writing two online courses as well as working on the WIP.
3. I'm the only Leo I know that doesn't like the sun, the heat and the beach.
4. I love chocolate.
5. I love cooking and Food Network.
6. I spend endless hours watching HGTV.
7. I'm addicted to caffeine.

And now for the lucky fifteen recipients:

Summer over at ...and this time, concentrate!
Bossy Betty
Christine over at Christine's Journey
DL over at Cruising Altitude
Donna Hole
Aubrie at Flutey Words
Laurel over at Laurel's Leaves
Lois at Lotus Rising
Hannah over at Musings of a

Mia over at My Literary Jam and Toast
Patrick Tillett
Portia Sisco
Lola at Sharp Pen/Dull Sword
Courtney over at Southern Princess
Talli Roland

And that's all folks. Check out these versitile bloggers and have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A little something

Mea culpa. My bad. I couldn't decide last night what to post today, and so I ended up not scheduling anything. So today I decided that since I haven't posted anything snippety lately, that I would put up a snippet of something old that may become something new. Here it is.


My lips curve and the smile is only a little sad with memory as she climbs into my lap, sharp elbows and knees as she maneuvers her way to comfort.

I smooth an unruly spill of dark chocolate curls beneath my chin as I rest my cheek on the top of her head and slide my spine more comfortably against the cool wall.

Arms and legs and boneless bodies pillow and cocoon and I remember chocolate as I bring my knees up to cradle my daughter as the others press close, claiming their spots.

I know this is how it goes, how it has always gone. Frightened children find each other’s warmth as they banish demons and monsters with stories shared in the dark.

Large, liquid eyes glow in the semi-light of the small fire in this cavern that has become this site of ritual, this place of sharing.

Cycles ago, I stopped wondering how this came to be.

“What do you want to hear?”

I never thought I had much imagination and while it took me a long, long time, I understand now that children grow into their stories. I think maybe I grew out of mine.

Or maybe I never had them, but I’d read them on Earth.

I can’t quite remember.

But long ago someone had shared them with me, fairy tales and myths, pointing to pictures and teaching me words, sharing simple, fundamental ones I could learn.

I’d never known whether it was because she knew I was pregnant or because she was just being kind.

“Tell us how we came to be.”

I’ve never had her way with words and I still wonder how this has fallen to me. I am not a story teller and I’ve never thought I was very good.

I don’t believe in monsters or bears or witches or children in forests or any of the other things I’d read about the last time I’d been on Earth.

“Once upon a time…”

“Why do stories always start that way?”

“Because that’s the proper way for a story to begin.”

Someone had explained that to me another lifetime ago. I’ve never had any reason to disagree.

“A long time ago, a very brave but very frightened…”

“How can someone be brave but frightened?”

I can create my own story now, my own fairy tale, even if it isn’t pretty or well done; even if I can’t tell how it will end.

Because I know now that even the end is never really the end.

“Courage isn’t the lack of fear. It’s how you handle the fear that makes you brave.”

I’ve always seen the end. It’s always terrified me.

“I’m not afraid.”

But I’ve long since decided that I’ll write my own ending.

I lift my eyes, watch wisps of smoke from the small fire in the center of the chamber curl up the chimney, seeking the freedom of the night sky, the pinprick of stars that have always seemed just out of reach.

I know it’s nothing more than the cave breathing, the movement into and out of this chamber due to changes in atmospheric pressure or temperature on the surface.

These are things I understand.

If I close my eyes though, it could be the soft sound of night cycle on board Kai; the gentle thrum of the great ship’s life around me, the re-circulating air that was the sound of soft breathing.

The flickering shadows could be the gold of her warm, welcoming walls.

I’d taken them for granted.

My chest is tight as I wrap my arms around my daughter and push quiet words that have risen from the ashes into the stillness.

“That’s because there’s nothing to fear here.”

Monday, June 21, 2010

Celebrate Monday

Happy Monday everybody. I missed you all and am thrilled to be back. And it’s time once again to celebrate ourselves. Tell us about something good that happened to you. Something that made you happy. Something that you did that made you feel good.

It doesn’t have to be big news or anything earth shattering. Small is good, too.

I’ll go first. My foot is healing and I’m up walking around. And with the time I’ve had to myself even with the surgery and the kids all home, I’ve managed to find the time to work on a novel I started writing bits and pieces of ten years ago. As of now, I have almost 18,000 words for it now, and pretty much everything laid out in my head. I’m hoping to have it ready for my crit group by the end of July so that I can take a look at edits while I’m getting ready for next year during August. It’s different than the novel I thought I’d be working on. I guess it’s genre, but I’m not too sure about these things. So we’ll see.

And speaking of time, given that I was pretty productive with it, I think I’m going to follow a lot of my fellow bloggers in our little corner of the blogosphere, and go to a Monday-Wednesday-Friday posting schedule. But I'll still try to get around to your blogs regularly. We’ll see how that works.

But enough about me. What about you? What’s making you happy and/or going well in your life? Share it with us and celebrate yourselves.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Celebrate Monday

Happy Monday everybody. It’s time once again to celebrate ourselves. Tell us about something good that happened to you. Something that made you happy. Something that you did that made you feel good.

It doesn’t have to be big news or anything earth shattering. Small is good, too.

I’ll go first. School is finished. And so is my surgery. It went pretty well, according to the doctor, but it’s been a pretty rough weekend and I’m thinking this is the perfect time for me to unplug and take a week to get myself together. So I’m going to do that and I will see you all next Monday.

But before I go, what about you? What’s making you happy and/or going well in your life? Share it with us and celebrate yourselves.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A word of caution

If you’re a writer and you want to be published and pay any attention at all to the state of publishing today, you’ve heard all about the pros and the cons, the benefits and the dangers of self-publishing and e-publishing. For those of you interested, James Scott Bell over at The Kill Zone has a word of caution for you. Check it out.

Are any of you thinking of self-publishing? E-publishing? Got any words of wisdom or warning?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The really big question

Sometimes they come to me in a dream. Sometimes I wonder what if? Sometimes I see something on TV, or at the movies, or online, or on the street. The voices in my head tell me. If you’re a writer, these are all perfectly acceptable answers to the BIG question: Where do you get your ideas?

Roz over at Nail Your Novel has a great post here about getting story ideas for free. Check it out and tell me: Where do you get your ideas?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tell me true.

I love dialogue. I love writing it. I love reading it. I love listening to it whether it’s in my classroom, the hallway, on TV, or walking down the streets of NYC. I love the words, the slang, the phrases, the rhythm, the cadence, the whole hidden conversations in our conversations.

I love the variety of purposes dialogue can serve from exploring characterization to describing scenes and characters to giving us information to further the story. And when I write, I always write the dialogue first. If I can’t hear the dialogue in a scene, I can’t write anything else until I can.

Roz over at Nail Your Novel has a great post here on dialogue. Check it out and tell me: How do you feel about dialogue as an element of your story? How do you use it? Do you eavesdrop on people around you? Is it easy for you to hear when you write?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Terror Tuesday Blogfest

Mary over at Mary McDonald Has the Write Stuff is hosting the Terror Tuesday Blogfest today. Click here to go read the other wonderful entries. My entry is part of a short story I wrote a while ago. Another section of that story will be posted next month for Tessa’s Blogfest of Death. You still have plenty of time to sign up for that one. Go ahead. You know you want to.

When he wakes, he opens his eyes to nothing. It’s cold and dark. The pitch black gives way to a dull, gun-metal grey at the edges of his peripheral vision.

He curls in tighter to himself; pulls the filthy, threadbare blanket closer and listens to the harsh exhale of his breath. There’s a weight against his back, heavy, pressing close.

Brain still slow with sleep, scrambled from the remains of the dream, he throws back an elbow, rolls, and shoves hard against the stiff, formless shape. His hand falls, palm down, onto a sharp-boned, unmoving chest.

He rolls out of the blanket, rolls to his knees. Bright, dead eyes lock him in their line of sight.

He quits breathing; listens hard in the silence and the dark. There’s nothing beyond the sound of his own pulse pounding in his ears.

Fingers thick with cold and clumsy in the dark search blindly for a sign of heartbeat or breath.

There’s nothing. The body is cold and hard and silent.

He shifts on his knees, grabs the bottom of the thin, torn shirt, wrestles it up and off its unresisting owner and over his head.

Ignoring the stench that makes his stomach roll, he drives his arms quickly through the sleeves, pulls it down.

He slides down the body, yanks off worn boots; shoves bare feet into the rotting leather and freezes.

Still as stone, he flicks his eyes around the dark.

It’s quiet.

He moves again; pulls rancid pants two sizes too big off the corpse, rolls them up in the blanket.

He buries the rank bundle in the bag that’s filled with everything else in his life; crawls into the corner.

He huddles there, wrapped up in himself, listening for the sound of boot steps. As the stillness and dark congeal over him, he slips into faded memory from a long ago sometime that floats like ash on a cold wind.

He dreams in grey.

When he was small and hurt she would hold him. Soft, cool hands, satin-smooth and small, would cradle and caress him, and she would sing to him.

His eyes snap open, his head snaps up.

He can remember everything about her; the feel of her hands, the scent of her hair, the sound of her voice. Everything except her face.

Shrouded in the blanket and the rags he still feels the cold coming up off the stone, sees two burning eyes staring at him in the dark. A leaden cold that has nothing to do with hunger claws at the hollow in his gut.

It’s been a long time since she’s come to him.

He can’t remember how long.

He’d thought he’d stopped dreaming.

He should remember.

He pulls his bag and the blanket closer, his knees up to his chest, wonders if he’ll see her again.

He tries to pull breath deep into his lungs; can’t find any to spare.

The corpse watches him from the shadows. Once he took pity on the dead; now he wishes they would take pity on him.

He wraps his arms around his knees and waits.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Celebrate Monday

Happy Monday everybody. It’s time once again to celebrate ourselves. Tell us about something good that happened to you. Something that made you happy. Something that you did that made you feel good.

It doesn’t have to be big news or anything earth shattering. Small is good, too.

I’ll go first. This is it. My last week of school. Three days of finals. Getting my room closed up. And then I am out the door. Yes, I’ll be writing curriculum again this summer, no matter how much I say I won’t, but I’ll be writing other things, too.

What about you? What’s making you happy and/or going well in your life? Share it with us and celebrate yourselves.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Happy Saturday and a Blogfest

So I’ve got this rare Saturday post up courtesy of the lovely Rachel Bateman and her Beach Scene Blogfest. Click here to read the other beach entries by some really great writers.

But before reading mine, I have to remind you that I suck at naming characters. So in the interest of saving my own sanity, I simply picked some names. These names have in no way any relation to anyone living or dead. Anyway, that’s my story and here’s my entry.

A Night at the Beach

“Hey, guys.” Jack dropped another armload of wood next to the campfire. “A little help?”

“No, tanks.” Donnie V plunked the just shuffled deck down on the blanket in front of Sam. “We’re good.”

“Yeah.” Sam tapped the knuckles of his loosely curled fist on top of it. “We’re good.”

“No.” Carefully feeding branches into the fire, Jack glared at the group on the blanket. “I mean I could use a little help.”

Joe rearranged his chips. “We’re busy.”

“You’re playing cards.”

Fanning her cards out, Lola began reordering her hand. “Strip poker, baby.”

“Hey.” Jack threw up his hands, palms out. “There’ll be no stripping. My wife is here. And so’s my kid.”

“Ah, no worries, mate.” Em wagged her eyebrows at him. “I’m sure it’s nothing Annie’s never seen before.”

“And TJ?” Shannon waved a hand in the general direction of over there as she fished in the ice chest for another beer. “He’s over there poking Ray.”

Jack’s head snapped to the right. “Yo, TJ. Stop poking the nice man.”

Snagging the beer from Shannon, Annie slid up to Jack’s side. “For god’s sake Jack, give it a rest.”

“But babe, it’s already dark and time’s wasting.”

“Fine. We’re all here.” Dropping gracefully on the blanket, she folded herself comfortably, knees pulled up to her chest, arms wrapped around them. “Go ahead.”

Jack dropped down next to her. “It was a dark and stormy night...”

Nanse pulled her marshmallow out of the fire. “Why is it always a dark and stormy night?”

“Who’s telling the story here?”

“She’s right you know.” Courtney speared a marshmallow and poked it carefully into the flame. “All your stories start out like that.”

Jack dragged a hand down his face. “That’s because spooky campfire stories are supposed to start like that.” Chewing on his thumb, he ran his eyes around the group. “I suppose you think you can do better?”

Tara snorted. “Well, duh.”

“Fine. Go ahead. You tell the story.”

DL stepped out of the shadows. “Anybody seen my S’Mores?”

Annie lifted a hip and slid a cautious hand underneath it. “I think I found it.”

“That’s all right, you can have it.” DL waved a magnanimous hand before rummaging in the marshmallow bag. “I don’t want it anymore.”

Jack’s arms shot out and banded around her as he breathed low and harsh in her ear. “Not now, babe. Too many witnesses.”

She stilled in his grasp and settled for leveling a double-barreled glare at DL who was already happily toasting another marshmallow in the fire.

“I’ll start.” JP knocked back the last of his beer and tossed the can onto the pile at the edge of the blanket. “Many years ago, two warriors from rival villages got into a terrible fight. Knives pulled, they battled back and forth with the ferocity of hungry hounds, each tearing at the other with their knives…”

“Knives?” Reaching over, Tara thwapped DL in the head as he tried to steal her beer. “Please.”

DL made a sound somewhere between a croak and a quack as his head snapped. “What?”

“They always say knife in these things when it’s really not.” Tara held up a thumb and forefinger spaced closely together. “And then it’s some little bitty Swiss Army knife.”

She snagged a marshmallow from the bag, flicked her matte black Tanto open with one hand. “Now this?” She skewered her marshmallow. “This is a knife.”

“Who are you?” Em asked. “Crocodile Dundee?”

“Now that’s what I’m talking ’bout.” Tara held her hands up, about shoulder width apart. “He had a knife.”

“TJ.” Annie’s sharp voice split the air as she flowed to her feet in one fluid motion. “Quit poking Ray. He’s…sleeping.”

Standing and stretching, JP reached over, plucked the stick out of TJ’s tiny hands, and poked at the body with it. “I think he’s dead.”

Annie pulled the stick out of his hand and pointed to the mountain of beer cans just off to the side of the body. “He. Is. Not. Dead.”

“I’m just sayin’.” JP’s words floated back as he turned and wandered off toward the cooler.

Annie poked at the body again. Picking TJ up, she settled him on her hip, looked at Jack and shrugged her free shoulder.

Jack blew out his breath through clenched teeth. “Could we get back to the story, please?”

“Ooh. Ooh.” Courtney’s hand shot up. “I’ve got one.”

JP glared. “But I wasn’t finished.”

Courtney patted him on the back. “That’s ok.”

Jack threw up his hands in disgust as Annie settled back down next to him.

Putting her finger to her lips, Courtney shushed the group and started her story. “She lived deep in the forest in a tiny cottage and sold herbal remedies for a living.”

“Sounds like Nanse,” Portia mumbled around the marshmallow in her mouth.

Annie’s head snapped around to target Jack in her line-of-sight. Jack bumped his forehead repeatedly into her shoulder.

“Did she have a third eye?” DL asked.

Courtney’s voice rose with her eyebrows. “How do I know?”

Upending her bottle, Portia drained the last of her beer. “You’re telling the story.”

“It’s not Nanse.” Courtney threw up her hands, palms out. “Anyway, folks in the nearby town called her Bloody Mary and said she was a witch.”

“See?” Portia nodded. “Coulda been Nanse.”

“Amateurs.” Lola shook her finger around the circle on the blanket. “You’re all amateurs. Sit back and let a professional handle this.”

“But I wasn’t finished.”

“Yes, you were.” Lola flipped the flashlight up and held it just under her chin, giving her face an eerie glow. “The reports had been on the news all day, though she hadn’t been paying attention to them. Something about a crazy man who’d escaped from an upstate asylum. They were calling him Hook Man since he’d lost his right arm and had it replaced with a hook.”

“Ooh, ooh.” Summer bounced up and down on the blanket. “I know this one. I’ve seen the movie.”

Tara threw the bag of marshmallows at her. “We’ve all seen the movie. We’ve all seen all the movies.”

Shannon grabbed another beer. “Hey. I like those movies.”

“Could we get a little focus here people?” Jack leaned over and rested his head on Annie’s shoulders, lips close to her ear. “Tell me again why I thought this would be a good idea?”

“Because you always think your ideas are good ideas?” She bounced TJ on her knee.

“You’re a rock, babe.”

“I love you, too. Now hand me a beer.”

“Hand me one, too.” DL held out his hand. “I’m still shaking sand out…”

“…of your ass?” Annie snickered as she tossed him a beer.

“Very funny.” DL caught it one handed. “Why anyone would play in this sandbox...”

“Hey.” Susan thwapped him upside his head. “We play in the sandbox all the time.”

“What?” Jack’s head came off Annie’s shoulder.

“Sarahjayne and me.” Susan’s finger wagged back and forth. “You know our blog? The Sandbox Challenges.” She pointed a forefinger. “You must have heard of it. We write stories.”

“Hell, yeah.” Sarahjayne stabbed a marshmallow and waved it at Jack. “She writes romance. I’m literary angst.” She jabbed it into the fire. “Except when she’s literary angst and I’m romance.”

“Literary?” Annie rolled her eyes. “Angst?”

“I do not do angst.” Susan glared at Sarahjayne. “And I do not do dark.”

“Dude, you killed blind Jack’s dog.”

“I was blind?” Jack looked at Annie.

Annie looked at Jack. “We have a dog?”

“I was in pain.” Susan shook her finger at Sarahjayne. “You kill babies.”

“Well, duh.” Sarahjayne knocked back her beer. “And planets and…”

A huge smile split Susan’s face. “I love our sandbox.”

“I do too.” A low-rolling evil laugh erupted from Sarahjayne. “What are we gonna do next?”

“Listen to the next story?” Lola’s voice floated between them, an order not a suggestion. “Has anyone checked on Ray?”

Summer popped her marshmallow in her mouth and then reached over to poke the body. “He’s still dead.”

“He. Is.” Annie handed her squirming son to her husband and reached for another beer. “Not. Dead.”

Summer just shrugged. “Whatever.”

Shannon raised her hand. “I’ve got one.”

Sarahjayne reached for another beer. “Does it have a dead dog?”

Susan threw a stick at her sandbox partner in crime.

Shannon began her story in a voice low and slow. “A young woman lay suffering on her deathbed, her still born baby lying against her chest.

Sarahjayne jabbed Susan with the stick. “Dead baby.”

Susan rolled her eyes.

Shannon ignored them. “Her young husband crouched close, stricken with grief as his beautiful wife hummed a lullaby to her dead baby, her voice getting fainter as her own death drew near.”

“Ooh, ooh.” Summer bounced up and down where she sat. “Romance and angst.”

Jack and Annie looked at each other and scooted back a little further on the blanket.

Portia’s scream split the air as a shadow fell over the group.

“I don’t feel so good.” With those words to remember, Ray planted his face in the blanket.

TJ poked him with a stick.

“For god’s sake, Jack.” Annie grabbed her child and disarmed him.

“This is the last time I am ever doing this.” Jack winced, raised both hands and rubbed hard against his temples. “Why can’t it ever be easy?”

Friday, June 4, 2010

TGIF! and a Blogfest

The lovely Amalia T. is hosting her Dream Sequence Blogfest today. Click here to read the other wonderful entries by some really great writers. As for mine? It's part of a bigger something written a while ago. Anyway, happy Friday. Enjoy the blogfest and your weekend.

Your hand wraps the gearshift and your foot flexes against the accelerator as you slip through the sleeping city.

“John, John, John…”

Green lights stretch out in front of you, beacons in the pitch black that presses in on you. Dark, dull buildings stand silent sentry, and a line of parking meters and naked trees mark your passing.

“What’s the matter Harve? You don’t like the ride?”

“On the contrary, John, I love the ride and I love riding shotgun.” A long arm reaches out and a forefinger stabs random buttons, surfing late night FM stations again. “It’s such a beautiful night.” He settles back against the leather seat and sighs. “The sky is as black as Zoë’s hair. You should really…”

“No, no, no, no, no.” You force your fingers to relax, give up their death grip on the steering wheel. “You do not get to talk to me about Zoë.”

His slow, Southern drawl hangs in the space between you. “She walks in beauty like the night…”

“Give it up, freak.” You bank your irritation, let it ride. “You have no idea…”

“Which way, John? Right or left?”


“There’s a fork in the road up ahead.” Harvey waves a dismissive hand. “Which way? Right or left?

You pull the car gently to the right as he opens the glovebox and begins going through the contents.

“Someone has to make you see.”

“Let me guess.” You keep your eyes on the road, your voice flat. “That someone would be you?”

“You really should pay more attention to her, John. And to what you’re doing.” He shifts in his seat, cocks a thumb and forefinger at you. “I’m not your enemy.”

“Tell me the truth, Harve.” You slide a sideways glance at him. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“You know I’m only here to protect you.” Mirror-flat eyes lock you in their line of sight. “Among other things.”

“Don’t worry about me, Harve.” You flick your eyes forward and stare hard, navigating by the spill of light from streetlamps. “I’ve got it covered.”

“Right or left, John?”


“Right or left?”

Another turn off and the car drifts to the left. Suddenly you’re on the parkway.

“All roads lead to Zoë.”

“I’ve told you before.” You turn and give him your best double-barreled glare. “You do not get to talk to me about Zoë.”

“Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right…” He drums a back beat on the dashboard. “And there she is, stuck in the middle with you.”

“I know what you’re doing.” The cold in the pit of your stomach claws its way up and out, sets up camp in your chest. “It’s not going to work.”

“You know that I’m only trying to protect you.” He jabs a long, strong finger into your shoulder. “Among other things.”

“Haven’t you learned? You…are mistaken.” You roll tight shoulders, crack your neck, and blow out a harsh, jagged breath. “I don’t need your protection. Or your help.”

“Yes, John. I do learn from my mistakes.” The unpleasant smile curving his lips doesn’t reach his eyes. “Unlike you.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“So much you misunderstand about me.” The observation is friendly, almost. “As if I didn’t know what Zoë is to you. If I wanted to…”

“You stay away from her, you freakazoid son-of-a-bitch.” You think the growl you hear is you, your self-control slipping.

“Right or left?” Harvey points forward at the orange barrels almost immediately in front of you.

“Shit.” The sibilant hiss hangs in the sudden silence as you pull the car hard to the right, pissed because the freak next to you is settled comfortably riding shotgun while you’re sweating bullets and lost on an endless looping freeway.

“Champagne dreams, John. Reality escapes you.”

“I’m sorry you’re so disappointed.” You dig deep and find some control again. “What did you expect of me?”

“You to see reason. To be reasonable and to see the truth.”

“What truth would that be?”

“You can’t protect her, you know. You can’t be her savior.”

You wait a beat, try to breathe. “Fuck you.”

“Right or left?” Harvey shrugs and points again, forcing your attention forward.

The concrete divider is coming up fast.

The car veers sharply to the left and suddenly your heart is in your throat and your stomach is in knots as you hear and feel the sickening crunch of the body meeting the front end.

You see it launch in the headlights and come to rest as your foot tries to go through the floorboard on top of the brake and your arms lock in a wrestling match with the steering wheel.

The car fishtails and spins wildly to a halt at the side of the road and you are out of it and moving before conscious thought has returned.

“Oh god, oh god, oh god.”

You skid to your knees at the side of the mangled body, unaware of the blood pooling beneath it and staining your pants. Shaking with adrenaline and fear, brushing the long twisted hair from the join of neck and shoulders you reach out gently place two fingers at what should be the pulse point.

There is nothing.

Oh god, oh god, oh god. The refrain runs like a freight train through your head.

“John, John, John.” Harvey’s voice cuts through the white noise and screaming in your head. “You only see the curve, not the road ahead.”


“You can’t protect her. You can’t be her savior.”

Your gut is sending a message your brain won’t accept as you reach trembling hands out to gather the broken and bloody body to you. Cradling the twisted and bent form against your chest, you reach up to gently brush the eerily familiar hair from an obscured face.

You wake drenched in sweat, cold and clammy, pulse roaring in your ears as you jackknife to a sitting position.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Six months

Given all the end-of-the-year whining and worrying I seem to have become mired in due to the heat, the humidity, the mad push toward final exams and closing up the classroom, the lack of progress on my WIP, as well as all kinds of other things, I thought I’d take a break from it.

I read somewhere around the blogosphere that most blogs fail within the first six months. In my current state, I missed celebrating the fact that I started this blog on January 1st and that June 1st was my six month anniversary. That I’ve made it here is in no small part due to the warm, kind, generous welcome and interaction all of you have shared with me. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support as we all take our writing journey together. I really do look forward to continuing that journey together.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

No more words.

There are times, an increasing number of times it seems, when at the end of the day, after talking, and talking, and talking some more to students, parents, administrators, husband, kids, that I have no words left. No voice to speak, no brain cells to rub together for thought, nothing to put fingers to keyboard to write or blog. You're just empty, empty, empty. Burn out, balance, call it what you will, it seems an occupational hazard for bloggers and writers. And it seems to be running rampant through the blogosphere.

Copyblogger has a great post about what you can do when you run out of content, words, knowledge. Check it out and tell me: Has this ever happened to you? Where do you get your inspiration, knowledge, words, content, ideas, whatever you call it, to write and/or blog? What do you do when they don’t come?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Summer presents unique opportunities and stresses for me. Every summer I tell myself I’ll take the time to write. And I do. I write curriculum. I design online courses. I attend seminars, take courses, create documents I’ll need for classes along with all the normal running around with loved ones that is normal for this time of year. We all have these kinds of obligations that take precious time. And we all make decisions about how to parcel our time out. I’m in the process of trying to figure out how I’ll find the time and the energy and the brain power to finish my WIP this summer.

And if you look around the blogosphere you’ll see a whole host of others who are trying to deal with the whole time management strain balancing blogging, writing, real life, and the very real issue that the more followers one has the less time one has to comment and maintain the online relationships one had when starting to blog in the first place. Faced with all that and burnout, bloggers are starting to unplug more regularly, for longer periods of time, or in some cases closing their blogs all together. I’m thinking myself of how I’m going to schedule my blogging this summer as well.

Write It Sideways has an interesting post here about the reasons writers should blog. Check it out and then tell me: What are your blogging plans for this summer? In general? What stressors help you decide? Does where you are in your writing journey play a role in your decision? Or are other considerations more important?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Celebrate Monday

Happy Monday, everybody. Today we celebrate the memory of all those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. I hope you’ve had a great weekend and are enjoying the day.

I’d also like to celebrate a very special award. Christine over at Christine’s Journey gifted me with this last week. We can never have too much support on any of our journeys, and if I’ve been that to anyone, I am deeply honored. So many of you have become much needed support on mine, so I’d like to pass this award along to some of you right now.

Tara over at Feel of Something New
Courtney over at Southern Princess
Nymeria over at Nym’s Corner
Lola over at Sharp Pen/Dull Sword
Donna Hole
VR Barkowski

I can’t possibly mention all of you who’ve been there for me, so please know that I appreciate you all for all that you do. And again, please celebrate yourselves and this wonderful holiday.

Friday, May 28, 2010

TGIF! and an award

I don’t know about you, but I am ever so grateful that this week is over. It’s been a forever kind of week, the kind that’s hot and brutal, makes everyone beyond cranky, and seems like it will never end. I’m so thankful for the three day weekend it seems a little pathetic.

To start the weekend right, I want to share an award that were given to me a while ago. Tessa over at Tessa’s Blurb gave me the Beautiful Blogger Award. My thanks to her, and if you get a chance go over and sign up for her Blogfest of Death.

And I’d like to pass this on to some of the most beautiful bloggers I know. Seriously, go visit them and bask in the gloriousness.

Betty over at Bossy Betty
Lois over at Lotus Rising
Aubrie over at Flutey Words
Shelley at Stories in the Ordinary
Lola over at Sharp Pen/Dull Sword
Theresa at Substitute Teacher’s Saga

That's all for me now. Have a great Friday and a great weekend. I hope you all enjoy your Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Happy together

I’m going to share something with you. For all the years that I have been writing, I’ve never before belonged to a crit group. I’ve had beta readers for years, people I trust to help me make my writing better. And for a long time, that was enough. But I’ve been lucky enough recently to find a home with an online crit group. When I was asked to join, I was just so blown away.

And more than a tad bit worried. I’d never done formal critiques before, am not an English major, and, well, doubted my ability to bring anything worthwhile to the table. And I really didn’t know what to expect or how things worked. I’m happy to say my group members have been incredible. And I’ve learned a lot already just from my time with time.

Write it Sideways has a great post here about the joys and benefits of an online crit group. Check it out and tell me: Do you belong to a crit group? On line or in person? How did you find your group? Is it everything you hoped/wanted it to be?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Soul searching

Poet and critic Rainer Maria Rilke once said: “In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write. And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself: ‘Must I write?’”

This is one of my favorite quotes about writing. What great quotes about writing (or just great quotes in general) stick with/inspire you?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Is it hot in here?

I have to admit that when I looked at this post/title I thought to myself how could you not love this? I mean, writing like sex? How cool is that? And then I read it and realized I really did love it. What a great way of looking at writing and the process and there are how-to tips included. What could be better than that?

So tell me: Is this what writing feels like for you? Have you tried any of the how-to tips? Do they work for you or do you have better suggestions you’d like to share?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Celebrate Monday

Happy Monday everybody. It’s time once again to celebrate ourselves. Tell us about something good that happened to you. Something that made you happy. Something that you did that made you feel good.

It doesn’t have to be big news or anything earth shattering. Small is good, too.

I’ll go first. This weekend I read not one, but two novels a friend of mine had given me to read months ago. Granted, they were novels about WWII Poland and Poland during the Napoleonic era, but they were novels all the same. I don’t read nearly enough. I mean, I read all kinds of student work and professional stuff, but I rarely get to spend time just reading for pleasure. I’ve decided I’m going to do that a lot this summer. Starting with hush, hush, the signed copy I won from the lovely Shannon in her contest so long ago.

Anyway, what about you? What’s making you happy and/or going well in your life? Share it with us and celebrate yourselves.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Happy Friday. My brain is fried and I don’t think I’ve had a coherent thought in days. That’s a bad thing for anyone, but for a writer it’s catastrophic. Writers are story tellers and story tellers are creative. What happens when the creativity dries up and there’s no inspiration to be found?

Write to Done has a great post on how to have ideas. Check out their seven steps to creativity and tell me: How do you inspire creativity?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I'm supposed to do what?

I’m not there yet, and I may never be there, but at some point I dream of getting to the query stage of my writer’s journey. Heaven knows we’ve all heard a lot about platforms and building them and why they’re necessary. And we’ve all seen the posts about all of this.

Wylie-Merrick Literary Agency has an interesting post about this, including the value of blogs in building a writer’s platform, as well as other really good ideas about how and why we need to do this. The flip side is posted by Rebecca over at Criminal Minds. Go check them out and while you’re doing that I’ll be checking out my Facebook and Twitter accounts again, trying to figure out how to make them useful and not just a time suck. Or maybe I’ll see if I can find a blogfest to sign up for.

And then maybe I’ll go to the library.

How about you? Building your platform? How are you doing it? Or are you ignoring it all and hoping it just goes away?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Decisions, decisions, decisions

We all know the pain, frustration, and fear of failure from our own particular writing sins. I can freely admit that I think my biggest writing weakness is plot and story structure. I’ve struggled and worked on these and still am not happy with myself. And in my current WIP, I’m beyond worried that the choices I’ve made doom the novel and like a beached whale, the cumulative effect of those choices and my weaknesses as a writer will crush the story under its own weight.

Write It Sideways has an interesting post on six fiction writing weaknesses and their quick fixes.

Does anyone else feel like this? What do you consider to be your own writing weaknesses? What do you do/have you done to help fix them?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What were you thinking?

Rejection is a part of life, possibly more for writers than some others. It's part and parcel of the process. But for everyone currently being overwhelmed by revisions and queries and critiques and anything else that carries the sting/possible sting of rejection, Jill Corcoran has an interesting post on famous authors and their famous/rude rejections.

How do you handle rejection/the fear of rejection?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Celebrate Monday

Happy Monday everybody. It’s time once again to celebrate ourselves. Tell us about something good that happened to you. Something that made you happy. Something that you did that made you feel good.

It doesn’t have to be big news or anything earth shattering. Small is good, too.

Today I want to celebrate the impending end of the year. Three weeks of class (15 classes), and three days of Finals and I am finished. I have to get all of my stuff boxed up/put away, but my classes are right on schedule to cover what we need to, (and four chapters ahead of most everyone else) so I am going to take a moment to celebrate. Given the huge suck of a year that it’s been, I have to have something, right?

Anyway, what about you? What’s happy and/or good going on in your life? Share it with us and celebrate yourselves.

Friday, May 14, 2010

TGIF! and a Tag

A while ago Raquel Byrnes, Lilah Pierce, and Anne over at Piedmont Writer tagged me with the 5 questions/answers meme. For a "Tag" you answer 5 questions 5 times to share a bit about yourself. So here goes!

Question 1 - Where were you five years ago?
1. Same town, same house.
2. Helping my daughter begin her freshman year at U of M.
3. Helping my youngest begin his freshman year in high school.
4. Doing a lot of writing.
5. Hoping that writing might actually get to the point of being published.

Question 2 - Where would you like to be in five years?
1. In a different house.
2. On a book tour.
3. Watching all of my kids settled into the life of their choice.
4. Working on my Ph.D.
5. Traveling to all the places around the world I’ve always wanted to visit.

Question 3 - What is on your to-do list today?
1. Make it through the last day of the week in my classroom.
2. Finalize the Pacing Guide for my Human Rights and Genocide course.
3. Work on critting at least one chapter for my crit group.
4. Think about a theme for my blog posts next week.
5. Pack and leave for a quick trip to Chicago to pick up my oldest.

Question 4 - What snacks do you enjoy?
1. Potato chips.
2. Any kind of chocolate.
3. Strawberry shortcake.
4. Hot fudge sundae.
5. Rice pudding.

Question 5 - What five things would you do if you were a billionare?
1. Pay all of my bills.
2. Establish trust funds for my kids and their children.
3. Buy each of my kids a house.
4. Start a foundation that grants scholarships to underprivileged kids going to college.
5. Donate to causes/institutions doing work to benefit women and children.

The rules are that I get to pass the Tag along to 5 Bloggers I admire....

Aubrie at Flutey Words
Tara at Feel of Something New
Bossy Betty
Crystal at write because you must
B. Miller

And that's all folks. I'm out. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I’ve done a fair number of blogfests lately, and I have to admit that I’m beginning to wonder. I thought for sure after this last one I was pretty much blogfested out. But, no. I found not one, not two, but three other upcoming blogfests I’ll probably enter. Seriously, I might be addicted. And that’s not counting the short story contest I still plan on entering if I can get myself together.

Now I like blogfests and contests because they force me to write. Maybe not write in my WIP, but write something. And that’s taking more than a little bit of effort lately. Plot Whisperer has a great post here about your relationship with your writing.

Do you participate in blogfests? Think they are good for you and your skills? Or not? And how’s your relationship with your writing?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blog fests, blog fests everywhere

It’s apparently time once again for me to indulge myself and revisit my experiment with second person. The Alliterative Allomorph is hosting the Internal Conflict Blog Fest, and this seems to be what called to me. Don’t forget to check out the other entries for some great midweek reading.

You know it’s your fault. You know it when you look at her. When you watch her, knowing that she doesn’t know you’re there.

You remember kissing her, promising her things that you couldn’t possibly ever give her.

Life. Love. Hope. Happiness.

A promise that everything would be all right.

You lied.

You remember kissing her, the familiar tingle of electricity shooting from the tips of your hair straight down your spine to curl your toes.


You remember holding her on your lap, pressed tightly to you, arms and legs and lips tangled. Feeling her under your hand as her body collapsed against yours.

It’s been five years.

Life went on.

You remember promising her love, kissing her with all the passion, hope, truth you still had left to offer her to seal your covenant, putting your mother’s ring on her finger.

Love endured.

She is yours and you are hers. Finally. Always. It’s as simple and as honest as that.

But there are ghosts here. Her. You. Your unborn child who lingers in the walls, whispers in the silence and the shadows, echoes in the heartbeat you listen to every night.

You step into your room. Not quietly like you used to, when she used to hear you. You don’t have to be quiet anymore.

She doesn’t hear you.

You wonder what she thinks. What she sees when she searches that blank void with dead eyes.

Can she see him? There in the cobweb of memory? Your eyes, her hair, your wits, her skills?

Everything that isn’t. Wasn’t. Wouldn’t ever be.

You see untold stories, a fairy tale with a happily ever after, and laughter.

You remember laughter. With her.

You don’t think she does.

You come to stand behind her, rest your hands on her shoulders and she shifts away, tries to hide something.

You know what it is. A possibility. Taken a life time ago. The image black and white and grainy. A small thing, really. No bigger than your thumbprint.

Something beautiful you both still remember.

You take the picture from her gently; lay it reverently on the table next to her brush.

You turn her in your arms, skim your fingertips lightly down her arms, and entwine your hands.

She’d loved you, given you your future, and a happiness you’d only dreamed of.

You let your fingers move to circle her waist, brushing lightly against satin skin as you lift the hem of her shirt. She puts her arms up obediently and you slide it off, toss it into the corner.

You’ll get it tomorrow.

You broke her. You’d tried to fix her, but she was never the same. She’s your dead girl walking.

But you’d grinned your half-assed grin at her, pressed your lips to her scars, and watched her paint on her porcelain smile, shroud her bruised eyes.

And then you broke her some more.

It’s what you did.

What you couldn’t fix, you broke. And every day with you, you watched her die a little more, killing yourself.

Tears like rain, flowing like wine, like the sky bleeding.

Your fingertips slide down the silky trail of her spine, under the waistband of her pants and around. You undo the fastener and zipper as you gently kiss her mouth, rest your forehead against hers, and breathe the same air.

You slide the pants over her hips to pool on the floor at her feet; take her hands again as she steps out of them. Long, pale legs and still graceful, she stands before you. You still think she is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen.

The more you wanted to fix her, the more you broke her.

It’s what you were good at.

She’s the only thing you’ve ever been afraid of losing. You’re here. She’s here. You’ll go down with your ship.

You sit her down in the chair and begin your nightly ritual.

You breathe deep as you run the brush through the waterfall of ebony that cascades down her back. You’ve always loved running your fingers through that river of silk, the scent and feel of it.

She hasn’t brushed her own hair in five years.

It’s all kinds of wrong, on all kinds of levels. But it’s everything you always wanted. Everything you’d ever dreamed.

Your perfect circle.

You want to live with her. Want to give her what she needs. You want her to know that.

Touch. Warmth. Strength. Connection.

You’ll never let anything ever come between you again.

You put the brush down, pull her up close and wrap her in your arms. She nuzzles at your chest. It’s almost like she’s searching for your heart, where it should be but isn’t.

She’d taken that the first time you’d laid eyes on her.

Beautiful. It’s what she is. What she’s always been. What she always will be to you.

You lead her to bed, lay yourself down beside her. She nestles in your arms, scoots herself back. You spoon yourself around her, hand tangled in her hair, her back to your chest, your legs tangled in hers.

“We’re gonna be okay.”


It’s not a lie, just a necessary untruth. She believes you because she trusts you fully.


You whisper a kiss into her hair and close your eyes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Standing on formality

I have a confession to make. I have no real, formal training in writing aside from high school English classes and the required Comp class in college. I’m not an English or Creative Writing major and my degrees are not in the Humanities.

I’ve always written on and off, but didn’t begin to write fiction regularly until about ten years ago. And my friends, both of whom have English degrees, did beta and critique. And I’ve been wondering off and on if/how that affects me as a writer. I mean, I'm not always very technical in my analysis and craft. Does that make me a fraud?

So, I’m thinking of taking a writing class. And I wanted to know: How did you come to writing? Through a program, degree, or classes? Some other way? If you took them, in college or on your own, did you find classes on writing helpful? Or did you find books on writing equally or more helpful?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Celebrate Monday

Happy Monday everybody. It’s time once again to celebrate ourselves. Tell us about something good that happened to you. Something that made you happy. Something that you did that made you feel good.

It doesn’t have to be big news or anything earth shattering. Small is good, too.

Today I want to celebrate my weekend. I may have spent most of my waking hours this weekend in a car crisscrossing four states a couple of times and done nothing at all productive, but for the first time in a long time all four of my kids were home at the same time. Yeah, their friends were all here as usual, but I found I was strangely nostalgic for that.

Mother’s Day was nice with dinner and cards and presents. And yes, I did get chocolate.

I hope you all had a great weekend and that all the moms out there had a wonderful day.

And yes, I'd like to celebrate and thank all my new followers. If you've recently started following and I haven't returned the honor, it's because your profile doesn't show up and I can't find you. Drop me a comment and I'll be happy to follow you, too.

Now what about you? What’s happy and/or good going on in your life? Share it with us and celebrate yourselves.

Friday, May 7, 2010

TGIF! and a Blogfest

Today after school I'm headed back to Chicago for a quick weekend trip. But I'm leaving you with a little something. Andrew over at The WriteRunner is hosting a Bad Girl Blogfest. So here's my entry. I'll see you all on Monday, and I hope you have a great weekend.

She’s been here a week, stalking her prey, before she finally decides on the killing ground. She knows the when, the how, and now the where.

She also knows the why; she just doesn’t care.


She’s trailed him four times now, marked his route. He’s always in early and out late; straight shot, no stops. And he always uses the stairs to enter and exit the skyway that connects the parking garage with the high-rise tower that houses his small, low-level government office.


At this point of convergence, she times it perfectly.

She knows the lower levels are empty, and smiles up at the shriveled little man hurrying down as she climbs.

The landing is narrow where they meet, and she nods as he angles slightly to give her room to pass. She steps and pivots as her right hand pulls up her pistol and fires into the back of the little man’s head from a distance of less than six inches.

The suppressor is more than worth its cost. There isn’t a sound except the snick of the trigger as the man’s thin hair puffs out in a sudden splash of pale pink and crimson.

The body crumples and begins to fall. She follows it down, fires a second shot into the head as legs and arms splay on the ground.


Stepping over and away from the body, she heads back down the stairs and out into the quiet of a dark, empty street.

In less than an hour the sun will rise and she will be gone.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

In the beginning

Among the myriad other issues and problems I’m currently wrestling with, I’m having serious problems with deciding where and when to start my WIP. I’ve got a number or possible starting points, but I cannot for the life of me make any of them work for me in the long run. Anyway, Pub Rants had a really great post about this here that you should check out.

How do you know you’ve got the right beginning? Do you use back story? Think it’s a good thing? How much description is too much? How do you know?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

One Hundred Posts and the Primal Scream Blogfest

On New Year’s Day I began this blog as part of a resolution. Today I am posting my one hundredth post. I’d like to thank all of you who have welcomed me and made this possible.

And what better way to celebrate the big one hundred than with a blogfest entry? This one is for Raquel Byrnes’ Primal Scream Blogfest.

They met no resistance as the swarm of black copters entered hostile air space. Following a tight vector, they moved fast and low over the breakers between a littered, white sand beach and the sunlit blue vista of ocean and sky.

Curled into his seat, long legs pulled up close against his chest, O’Neill felt the anxious anticipation that seemed to have become a part of him simmer just beneath his skin. Felt that edginess and tension spark between the others like an electrical current arcing within the confines of the ship.

The pilot’s voice sounded in his ear. “Two minutes.”

He pushed to his feet and watched the squad do their weapons check. Fifty pounds of gear and ammo. Grenades and grenade launchers. Shaped explosive charges. M-16s all around.

“Hang on.” The warning came harsh over the comms as the pilot wrestled with the controls and the helicopter bucked hard in the turbulence of a sky that was on fire.

O’Neill braced and watched Afram and Diallo go through their silent personal rituals of preparation and last minute mental checklists.

The ship slowed just as he finished his own brief final run through.

Hit the ground. Find the hatch. Blow the hatch. Cover their asses.

Pulling on his gloves, he flexed his fingers, triple checked his weapon, and rehearsed his choreographed moves.

Hit the ventilation ducts. Cover their asses.

“One minute.”

Find the elevator. Hit the down button. Cover their asses.

He stood and moved carefully with the rest of the team to stand next to the door as the ship moved down over the city and approached their target site.

Search the tiers. Cover their asses.

He braced again against the sudden change in pitch as the helicopter hovered over the brown storm of swirling dust kicked up by the rotating blades.

Find Zoë. Cover her ass.

Under his flack jacket, his heart pounded in his chest and over the sound of the rotor and engines, his pulse roared in his ears.

Out the way you came in.

“Fifty seconds.”

Don’t fuck this up.

Everything sharpened into vivid relief. Looking around, he saw Afram tap his helmet with two fingers. O’Neill reached up and lowered his faceplate as the copter hovered and silently began counting down.

Going to get Zoë. Gonna bring her home.

Then they were through the worst of it and pilot flared the ship, settled it gracefully, and screamed his final instructions over the comms as the hatch dropped open.

“Go. Go. Go.”

O’Neill followed Diallo out the door, in position, weapon ready. He barely registered the hazy heat shimmering like a wave, the trails of smoke that hung in the heavy air, or the plumes of ash rising in the burning orange distance as he scanned for targets and threats.

Afram took point, moving quickly toward the ventilation shaft. Reaching the hatch that led inside, he put a shaped charge in place before retreating a safe distance. When it blew, they followed the blast, diving inside.

Ninety seconds later, moving in formation, they had worked their way to a grille. Afram braced and kicked it out. Diallo tossed a high velocity shaped charge down the hole. The blast came almost immediately and then they were moving forward, dropping down through the hole and firing on guards as they landed in the main control center.

Weapons fire lit up the room as O’Neill rolled to cover under a console, counted, then came up to spray continuous fire in his target window.

“Elevator,” Diallo hissed over the comms when it was over.

Afram stood and pointed to the far wall. Stepping over bodies, the tall male commando led the way to the door and hit the call control as they flattened themselves against the wall and waited.

It was empty when the doors opened and the ride down wasn’t long.

Coming out, Afram was back on point and they were moving in formation down the tunnel, scanning for resistance in their target windows. Fifteen seconds later, an explosion and shots from a side tunnel indicated they had finally found it.

Gun fire jumped across the junction. As he hunkered down against the wall, a second explosion came from O’Neill’s left.


He rolled across the junction, popped up to lay down suppression fire as Afram and Diallo took up position and began firing at their targets. Two explosions in quick succession had his ears ringing, but even so he could still hear the sound of someone screaming instructions.

He looked across at Afram, who nodded and snugged his rifle to his shoulder and began laying down cover fire that lit its way down the tunnel as O’Neill pulled a grenade.

Squeeze. Throw. Dive.

The shock of the wave sent him into the wall and O’Neill heard more missiles go off as he rolled again and took out one guard in his target window. Shots to his right alerted him to a missed target. He popped up from cover and squeezed off five shots. In his peripheral vision he saw Diallo off to his right, taking out another guard while scanning for other threats.

The next explosion, when it came, deafened them all.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How do you read?

Like most of you, I like to read. A lot. And I have very fond memories of doing just that as a child and growing up. Reading all kinds of things in all kinds of places from curled up in bed or on a couch to reading in diners and coffee shops.

I read all kinds of things now. Newspaper and professional articles, student work, lesson plans, blogs of all kinds, and tons and tons of online articles in the name of research for either my writer or teacher personas.

I’m currently reading historical fiction about Germany and Russia’s invasion of Poland that kick starts WWII. I like the book a lot, but it points up to me again how very little reading I do anymore for pleasure. And how much being a writer influences the way I read.

Criminal Minds has two really interesting posts here (don’t read the second half of the post about Goldman-Sachs if that’s not your thing) and here.

So tell me. What are you reading now? More or less than before? Does being a writer influence how/what you read? Your enjoyment of it?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Celebrate Monday and Giveaway Winners

Here we are again at Monday and it’s time to celebrate ourselves. Tell us something good that happened to you. Something that made you happy. Something that you did that made you feel good.

It doesn’t have to be big news or anything earth shattering. Small is good, too.

Today I want to celebrate the winners in my 150 followers contest. There were a ton of entries and my husband did the honors of picking the winners. So here they are.

The winner of the first prize of a $20 gift card is VR Barkowski. The two winners of the $15 gift cards are Justine Dell and Summer from …and this time, concentrate.

Congratulations to all three of you. Click on my email in the sidebar if you would please, and shoot me an email with your email address and your choice of gift card, and I’ll get that out to you as soon as I can.

So that takes care of that. What about you? What’s happy and/or good going on in your life? Share it with us and celebrate yourselves.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Last Lines Blogfest

These are the last lines of a roughly 7000 word short story where I played with switching POVs. It's my entry in Lilah's Last Lines Blogfest. Go here to check out the other entries and have a happy weekend.

You stretch and shift and reach for her in the dark. Your eyes snap open; the sheets are cool beneath your hand. Pushing up on an elbow, you listen hard in the silence.

You leverage yourself upright, swing your legs around. Your feet hit the floor and you push off the bed; long strides march you across the room to the crib.

It’s empty.

Glacial cold crawls out of your gut, climbs up and into in your chest; makes it hard to breathe.

Two silenced clicks split the stillness, and you’re moving before the muted sound of two quick thumps in succession, snagging the Berretta as you edge out of the room and into the hallway.

You almost trip over the first body and your hands come up, palms out as the pistol swings to target you.

“Where’s the baby?” Raw words tear at your throat, explode in the silence.

“Down the hall.” Her voice is low and harsh; a fierce whisper as she drops her weapon, reaches over to check for a pulse on the other body.

You stand in the dark and the silence and look at the woman you love.

And you hope.

“We have to go.”

She looks up at you through the tops of bright, brittle eyes set deep in the shadows of her perfect, pale face.

Biting down on her lip as she flows to her feet and stands, she doesn’t say a word as she pushes past you into the bedroom.


You shrug the flight bag higher on your shoulder as you bounce on the balls of your feet, sharp eyes scanning the length of the dim hallway.

In less than an hour the first red-orange brush strokes of the sun will be rising over the foothills, waking the city, and you want to be gone.

The door snicks open beside you and she slips out, baby on her hip, shadowed figure behind her.

She steps to your side and the old woman’s eyes slide over you as gnarled fingers come up to cup her face.

“Be safe.”

She smiles and turns, shifts the baby more comfortably on her hip as she walks down the hall.

The door snicks closed behind you as you follow, catch up to her.

You slide your arm over her shoulders and she doesn’t pull away.

Friday, April 30, 2010


Just a reminder that you only have until 6 PM tonight to enter my 150 followers giveaway. Click on the link in my sidebar if you haven’t already signed up for your chance to win a gift card. I’ll announce the winners of my giveaway on Monday.

On the award front, Kelly over at Just Write gifted me with this very cool award sometime forever ago, and now I’d like to pass it on to people who lift me up with their comments.

Jen over at unedited
Theresa at Substitute Teacher’s Saga
Wendy at W.M. Morrell’s Musings From Down Under
Shannon over at Book Dreaming
Tara at Feel of Something New

All of these blogs are great and if you haven’t been over to check them out, you should go over and say hi. Enjoy the weekend and don’t forget to check out the Last Line Blogfest posts going up tomorrow.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A very fine line

I’ve been thinking about how much of myself as a writer finds its way into my words. We’re told write with courage, write with respect for our readers, ourselves, our words, and our story. We’re told to write what we know and to write with and from our passions. We’re told to write (and do) from our lived biographical experiences.

Larry Brooks at storyfix has a great cautionary post here about the awareness that writer’s must have regarding the unavoidable bleed-through between who and what they are and what their MC/hero/protagonist is on the page. Check it out.

How much of you is in your stories? How/where do you draw the line? Are you worried about possible consequences and/or repercussions?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How do you do it?

I’ll admit it. I can be a little slow. Even so, it took me a while to realize just what an act of courage writing is. Good writers/writing evokes feeling on a visceral level from readers. We craft and shape our words to draw our readers in and make them part of the story being told.

But in so doing we have to open ourselves up, reach deep inside ourselves, and spill our deepest innermost fears and sorrows and joys onto the page with our words. And the risk of failure is great, the learning curve steep as we hone our craft and open ourselves up to others’ judgment. Writing is at once an act of affirmation and of courage as well as an act of defiance. Failure will not prevent us from trying as long as we feel we have something to say

Alan Rinzler over at The Book Deal had an interesting post on how writers build courage.

So how do you do it?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


If I haven’t been commenting much or eloquently lately, my apologies. I haven’t been around much. And while I don’t normally talk much about personal things, I’m going to take this post to do just that.

You might remember my taking off for a weekend wedding in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. That trip was also a journey home to see my father-in-law. Not very long ago, he was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent chemo and radiation and when all was said and done, the doctors said he was cancer free.

That didn’t last long. When he got sick again, he was told that the cancer had spread and he was Stage 4. His timeline was 6-9 months. As it turns out, that was optimistic. About a month ago, my husband went with his mother and father to Mexico, where they had retired ten years ago, to sell their home and set their affairs in order.

My father-in-law got so sick down there my husband had to stay three extra days just to get him well enough to fly home. They took him to the hospital and were told his kidneys were failing. The weekend I went back for the wedding, I took my kids back to say good-bye to their grandfather.

I went from sitting in the oppressive grief of a house waiting for death to a wedding in Holy Name Cathedral, a majestic building, to an elegant restaurant overlooking the lake and sailboats back to sitting in a room listening to my father-in-law laboring to breathe.

We came back late on Sunday. Early on Tuesday, he died, and last weekend we went back for the funeral.

In the 27 years since my in-laws embraced me as part of their family, they’ve treated me as one of their own. They love my children and have been generous, warm, and kind. I couldn’t have asked for better in-laws.

At the reception I met a friend’s brand new, month old baby. I remember the experience as surreal, the juxtaposition of life and death and the full circle of it all. And I thought about writing and how the experience of the last couple of weeks would shape me and my words.

We take what we know and through the alchemy of writing we create stories. Experience shapes us as people and writers. I am not the same in either capacity as I was last week. And while I grieve with my mother-in-law, I miss my father-in-law.

Rest in peace, David.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Celebrate Monday

Here we are again at Monday and it’s time to celebrate ourselves. Tell us something good that happened to you. Something that made you happy. Something that you did that made you feel good.

It doesn’t have to be big news or anything earth shattering. Small is good, too.

I’m thrilled that I got up this morning at home in my own bed today. It was another quick trip to Chicago this weekend, and while I love the city and the chance to bond with family, the trip does mean hours in travel time and a change in time zones.

More about my weekend tomorrow, but for now I’m happy to be home and am celebrating the fact that I have the day off from work.

What about you? Share something happy and/or good in your life with us and celebrate yourselves.

Friday, April 23, 2010

TGIF! and a Contest

Being the slacker you all know I am, I completely missed celebrating my 100 followers when I hit that milestone. And I promised myself that I would not miss celebrating at 150 followers because I never cease to be amazed at your kind, generous, warm response to me and my words.

Anyway, I was gifted with that monumental milestone of 150 on 4/19 and now it’s time to celebrate. I wish I could offer critiques or a fiction contest, but real life is not being kind and my brain is dead.

So to celebrate, we’ll have nice old-fashioned giveaway. Up for grabs are three gift cards. One for $20 and two for $15 from either Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Borders, winners choice.

So how does this work?

The rules are simple. You get one entry for each of the things listed below that you do. Since I’m a low-tech kinda girl, I’m keeping this simple. Each entry you get goes into a hat. At the end of the contest, I’ll pull out a winner.

What do you have to do?

1. Comment here to enter. Your comment gets you (+1) entry. Include any of the following information you have to get more entries.
2. You must be a follower of my blog. New followers get (+1) entry, current followers get (+2) entries.
3. Blog about this contest. That will get you (+2) entries. Leave the link here in your comment.
4. Put this contest in your sidebar. That will get you (+2) entries. Leave the link here in your comment.
5. Send followers my way. Each follower you send me that mention you by name gets you (+1) entry.

That’s it. Easy peasy. Make sure you leave your comments. This contest ends next Friday, 4/30 at 6:00 PM EST, and I’ll announce the winners by the following Monday.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

In the end

All around the blogosphere the talk has been about balance and burnout, slowing down, pushing through, stepping up, stepping back, going dark and unplugging, and all the various points of passage on our journey through real life as well as writers. Not spoken of as much as these points of place, is that almost mythological point in the journey known affectionately as the end. So in the spirit of Lilah’s Last Lines Blogfest coming up, I thought I’d share a post by Joe Moore over at The Kill Zone about endings. Check it out and let me know how you feel about endings.

What are your favorite kind? What do you hate? As a reader? As a writer? How do you feel when you get to the end of the piece you’re writing? Elated? Sad? Scared? Thinking of revision or the next project?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The long and winding road

We’ve been talking about burnout; blogging, writing, and otherwise lately. And sometimes about how non-writers don’t quite get what could possibly be so hard or draining about sitting down and writing. Plot Whisperer has a great post here about the stamina a writer needs for their journey. Check it out and tell me: What part of the process is most draining for you? What is the most difficult part, mentally or physically, of your writer’s journey? Is there a point where you know that if you’ve gotten that far, you’re going to make it to the end?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Feeling groovy

Anybody remember that song? The one that went Slow down, you move too fast? Ah, well, I'm old and that's not the point of this post. The point is that there’s no end of demand on our time. Jobs that pay the bills, loved ones who well, love us, school, writing, blogging all demand time and attention. And it’s all a balancing act. A lot of us were conditioned to believe that if we just ran faster, worked harder, smarter, better, we could have it all. Do it all. Be it all.

And when we’ve run flat out for far too long, the inevitable happens. We crash and burn. We see plenty of evidence of that around, too. Plot This had a really interesting post here that I thought was really good advice. Check it out and tell me what you think.

Do you rush? Do you freak out and compare yourself to others? Do you think you can slow down? Do you think slowing down will help your writing?