Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fa La La La La and lots of snow

We're here in Utah and the kids are in decompression mode after a long day yesterday of travelling that included a blown radiator hose. (The husband wanted to fix it with a sodapop can and zip ties ala Macgyver, but logic prevailed and he settled for putting in a new radiator hose. The husband can be uber geeky at times--it's part of his charm. It's also annoying at times.)

It's snowy and cold here--really cold. Brrrr. I did like a monologue to how much I hate being cold and the snow in Di's journal so I'll just settle for saying I intend to remain snuggly inside as much as possible.

Anyway, I'm here. I'm here. Yay.

My mother-in-law has a tiny dog that keeps following me so closely that I feel like I'm kicking up a little dog with each step. She also jumps up on my lap if I so much as shift my laptop slightly. It's hilarious. I've never seen such a needy little dog--and she's still a hyper puppy.

I'll be in and out and around. I did a little typing on Without Honor on the drive and this morning. Hopefully, I'll be able to concentrate on other things while here, but we'll see what my brain allows.

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 21, 2009

This Holiday Season

I know I was saying I was unplugged after that kissing post, but I just received a news feed for an online medical journal that I subscribe to. This is something that ripped my heart out and I needed to say something. The CDC is stating that the prevalence of Autism is now at 1%. One percent of our children may need a diagnosis and help before it's too late. With Autism, your clock is ticking. The only thing proven to help a child with Autism is immediate and early intervention. (Most insurance companies drop neuro-developmental therapy at seven years old for a reason. It's too late for a substantial impact. The neural pathways are set.) If we hadn't recognized B's symptoms early on--our lives would be vastly different. T's Asperger's, while still on the Spectrum, is much milder--and we wouldn't have recognized it if not for B's history.

If you or someone you know thinks their child might have Autism, we're beyond the point of ignorance in regards to Autism. Don't "wait and see" and don't tell yourself that "my child can't have that." I've been the one to send five or six children to see developmental pediatricians. It absolutely sucks to tell a friend that they need to have their children seen--and I've worried I'd lose a friend over it. I've lost sleep over so many children that aren't mine. Telling someone to see a specialist--that something isn't "right" with their child--it's not easy. Every time--I've been right. The symptoms are there. My familiarity with Autism is way too close. Yes, it sucks having to change everything you've ever known because your child has Autism. Until you're there, watching your life shatter--you'll never now, but it just is and you can't change that. Unfortunately, you just need to buck up and seek help. The clock is ticking. As a parent, I can tell you that I've never met a parent that felt sorry they had their child seen by a specialist. I've met more than my share of heartbroken parents saying that they wished they'd recognized it sooner.

The clock is ticking and, at 1%, someone you love or know has an Autistic child. If you have any questions regarding Autism or OCD, I can be reached at bug@sparrow.us . There are also a multitude of really good sites online detailing symptoms. This holiday season--give a child a chance at true joy.

Okay, back to your scheduled holiday activities. Public service announcement over.

Under the Mistletoe-with Parallel Lives

Okay, it took me forever to figure out which book I was stealing a kissing scene from for the Official Kissing Day post. This is the beginning section of Parallel Lives. I kept looking at Stories and Magic, but it would require too much exposition. Anyway, this is pretty long, but I couldn't decide what to cut. She sees a murder across the way from her darkened office and she's about to leave when someone comes in (to save her because she'd screamed) and he turns on the light.

I was nearly to the front office door when he opened it, and turned on the light. He was in his mid-thirties, lanky, with short, curly brown hair—brown eyes looked tired as if he'd put in a long day. He'd rolled up a light blue pin-striped dress shirt to his elbows, and his matching, solid-blue tie was loosened but still on.

He was surprised to see me right next to the door. Frowning perplexed, he paused, looking at me. I could tell he was on the verge of saying something, but I didn't give him the chance. I put my hands on either side of his face and apologized, saying, "I'm sorry, but I have to do this."

He was even more surprised when I winced and then started kissing him like a newlywed. At first, he even resisted as I dragged him deeper into the office by his neck while still lip-locked. I pushed him up against my desk and tipped my head slightly just a little so I could peek beyond him. Oh yes indeed. We had an audience. It was time to really apply myself. I might never be able to look this man in the eye again.

I pulled back long enough to say, "Just go with me on this, okay?"

He looked a little startled, but at least he started working with me. I think he might have even picked up the reason for this Prom Date flashback because he applied himself to kissing my neck too which allowed me a chance to open my eyes just enough to see what the audience thought.

They still looked dissatisfied.

A thought suddenly startled me, and I pulled back enough to say, "Please tell me you're not married."

"I'm not married. You?"

"No—not dating either.”

"Me neither," he said breathlessly and returned to kissing me.

His hands pulled the pearl clasps out of my hair without even tugging a strand. He was a pro. This wasn't his first time on the stage. He slid his fingers through my hair, and even though I knew this was an act, it felt real. It felt really good. It probably looked like a Hollywood romance too. The old-fashioned version—where it was mostly chastely portrayed, but hinted at much bolder moves.

"You're really good at this," I said at the next breath.

He smiled and said, "Thanks," before going back to kissing my face and neck.

I chanced another peek. Crap. What did a person have to do to sell this thing? I worked on getting his tie off. He paused for just a second, and then seemed to decide his next course of action. For a moment, I'd wondered if he was going to prude out on me. Then, he buried his hands in my hair, twisted it around his fingers and pulled my mouth deeper against his. It was really hard to concentrate on his tie.

Whoa. Hang on just a second… our audience couldn't see what was happening inside our mouths, but it was kind of nice. It was very nice. For some reason, though, that particular style of kissing always made me close my eyes. It was sort of counter-productive to my tie removal. I finally got the tie loose and threw it on the floor.

When I pulled back this time, and they were still watching, I requested, "Wilder—or we'll be here forever."

He paused for a moment as if this statement was odd, but apparently he was just gathering strength. Oh it was wilder. I pulled his shirt loose and started unbuttoning it. My fingers felt clumsy on the buttons. Apparently, he didn't love the shirt, because he took over by just yanking it off and throwing it on the ground. Buttons flew in all directions. I heard them bounce off of my desk and the floor.

"Wow. You really know what you're doing." Seriously—this guy was really invested in this.

Another peek. Seriously, they needed expanded cable or something, although, I will admit that the bare skin my hands were now up against might have drawn me in as an audience. "It's not enough," I whispered against his mouth.

"No," he agreed. He was even keeping his eyes closed. I was impressed. I was very impressed actually. My hands were on some serious muscles.

"Help me get my sweater off. I have a shirt underneath."

I was thankful I'd thrown on a leotard top underneath the sweater. He helped me get the sweater over my head, and it joined the rest of the clothing on the floor. Okay…. This skin to skin touching thing was no good. This was beginning to feel real, and my natural inclination to panic, should this have been real, was kicking in. I was breathing heavy, and my heart was pounding. I could barely think of my name let alone remember that this was just for show. Plus, apparently our audience was willing to watch it out to the end. What was wrong with the morals of society?

I grabbed his shoulders to steady myself—for show. I was pretty sure all the rest of these weird symptoms were just from lack of oxygen. Once I wasn't breathing so heavy—for show—I'd be fine—in theory.

He murmured something that sounded like "beautiful," but I couldn't tell if he was saying it sarcastically like "sheesh… beautiful… how long is this going to take?" or if it was a compliment.

"Okay, in just a second, I'm going to drag you to the ground," I warned him, and he smiled.

"I can go along with that," he said.

Then, I thought—should I count? That sounded tacky.

Apparently, he wasn't as conflicted and took care of that. I was lying on my back on the floor trying to catch my breath, and I put out a hand to stop him from putting too much weight on my chest. I just wasn't getting enough time to breathe. I was curious if this was a problem for people in real life too.

He tipped us onto our sides, I still had a hand between us, and I looked down at the bottom of the desk and up at the top of it before looking at our feet. He had his eyebrows raised when my gaze returned to his face.

"Okay, I don't think anyone can see us here," I reassured him.

"Umm. Okay," he said.

"What are you doing in my office?" I asked, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A bad day at work video

The husband sent me this. No one was injured.

Your characters don't exist and other lies they tell you...

So, I have this shirt that I bought several years ago. It has a vampire-fanged mouth on it with the words "Bite Me" on it. When I started writing my Honor series, it was one of the first things to go into the book--both as her favorite retort and she wears my shirt. (It's okay, though, I borrow it back to wear it. Reeve washes it for her--we're good.) So, I wore the shirt one day and wound up working on the Creche stuff. (It's exactly perfect to wear at church when you're working on setting up nativities--or I forgot I was wearing it.) I pulled off my coat and Katie, who has read Honor, said, "You have an Honor shirt!" (Cue embarrassment.) Yes. Yes, I do. Then, she asked, "Do you wear it when you write?" Yes. Yes, I do. Actually...it's more resounding than that. Heck yeah, I do! I love that shirt. I always wear it to the dentist's office too, but they don't "get me" like my fictional characters do. In fact, typically, they just look confused--my dentist's office, I mean--not my characters. My characters know exactly what I'm thinking.

So, per my adult female prerogative, I just bought myself Christmas gifts. Merry Christmas, Wendy! You're so thoughtful. It's like you knew exactly what I wanted. I bought myself two new articles of clothing that say "Bite me!" (I've been secretly worried that something would happen to my shirt--so it's time to have back-ups.) I was trying to explain this strange behavior and excitement over my purchases to my son and it struck me as slightly neurotic.

It's not the first time, though, that there has been spillage across fictional lines for me. Either I put things from my life into the stories, or I get interested in things from their lives. I'm highly susceptible to their food choices as they are to mine.

(For those that have read the Honor series, Canadian donuts ARE really that good. It's something in the metric conversion, I swear. Also, both the son and I spray whipped cream straight into our mouths.)

Anyone else blur the lines with their characters?

So, Monday is official Kissing Day on the blogosphere.

It'll probably be my last official post for the year. We're hoping to leave Monday night for Utah in order to get ahead of the weather. (No, the car isn't magically better. Le sigh. We're taking our Expedition--which will involve so much money spent on gas--it's disturbing.) I'm hoping we'll be able to drive at night--so that my much beloved six year old will survive. Last night at the church party, they started singing "Twelve Days of Christmas" and several of my friends who've been listening to my ranting this week--snickered. (It's nice that your friends know you well enough to poke fun at an open wound.)

Right in the middle of all my buying self-love, my son managed to turn off my laptop's cursor. He was sent from the room grumbling about how he wanted to buy a shirt too. I spent twenty minutes cursing my lost cursor--and trying to figure out where it was by watching for items to be highlighted. (T has killed my cursor before--I don't know what magic thing he pushes.) Finally, I couldn't handle it anymore--so I called up the husband--who reminded me I have a touchscreen. (This is why I must buy myself stuff--only I understand the strange wonder that is me. Also, I have really good taste.)

Anyway, it's five a.m. and I've been awake since four--when B woke me up. I can't get back to sleep.

I should do my Christmas cards which have been pushed back in favor of other things nearly every day.


Have a good Saturday, everyone!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Angst Free Post

I know... I know... it feels wrong to post something that isn't filled with car-related drama, or whining about how awful the querying process is, or monologues on death, or T driving me nuts.

I got sleep last night. It apparently helps to restore equilibrium in this crazy little world of mine. Depression always makes me sleepy. It's pretty intense. It's a lousy survival mechanism in my opinion. "Things suck. Okay, well, lets sleep on it because that always fixes things." On the other hand, it's not drinking or smoking or swearing, so my mom can't get after me for it. That's always nice.

So, today is a half-day for the kids. I need to run to the bank. I need to pretty-please a friend into printing out a phrase for the bottom of a bizarre etched snowman scene I did on glass yesterday. I still haven't tackled Christmas cards really. Partridge--pear tree. Actually, as T would say, "A cartridge in a pair of trees." Twelve days of Christmas can be both humorous and awful in his tiny, genius hands. Tonight is our church's Christmas party. I should figure out something to bring. I wasn't sure if we'd be in town still, so I didn't sign up for anything. I'm thinking of something chocolatey--which would be easy, but create the quandary of not being able to eat it.

First things first, I need a shower so people don't think I've crawled out from under a rock. I haven't written anything at Flashy Fiction this week either. I'm a writing slacker. I might still mosey that way and punch out some things later, though.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

When all else fails--there is zombie humor

funny graphs and charts
see more Funny Graphs

Discouraged is a funny word

Well, it is. It's so close to courage and would seem to be the "opposite" as if it meant "cowardly" but it doesn't. It means "to deprive of confidence, hope, or spirit."

This whole querying process is discouraging. I think this is just backlash from too much stress this week and a rejection, but it's feeling less worth it to continue to send out queries. It's not fun--really. Not at all. I know the odds are against us. I know that most agents receive around a hundred or more queries a week and rarely ask for more than one partial or full. It makes sense. They have a limited number of clients and a limited amount of time.

It just sucks to know the odds are against you. I've also noticed that several people have gotten agents this week from the quick looks I've taken at blogs I follow. It should make me feel good to see people beat the odds but, let's be honest, if you were sitting in Vegas at the slot machine next to the person that won the jackpot after you'd been sitting there investing your paycheck.... I don't think your first reaction would be to jump up and down and cheer for them. If it was someone you know--yes wahoo. Random stranger--hit head against slot machine before going home.

Anyway, it's probably just stress. I might come back post-Christmas and be ready and excited to query again. Maybe.

Yesterday took a lot out of me. My discussion with the neighbor was about twenty minutes long and heart-wrenching. I don't handle death well. I never have. So, there was several times that she looked like she wanted to give me a hug because I was so upset. I didn't mention this, but our previous neighbors died. It was part of the reason we moved. Their house's sadness just seemed to be smothering ours. It was all I could feel when I was home. I don't know why I can sense sadness like I can, but... I can. It's strange and slightly paranormal, but anyway.... Our previous neighbors--he committed suicide in his garage because his wife was dying and he couldn't live without her. He was a wonderful guy--he'd come over to our house dressed as Santa and give our kids gifts. His wife just meant everything to him. He'd "set" me up to discover his body, but luckily I was busy with the kids. He'd told me they were going on a trip--which they weren't--and to watch for lights on in the house or garage. I think discovering your neighbor's body--well, I don't even like to think about it. I have an extreme fear of corpses. So, having another neighbor die--reminds me of that. There are things that just never leave you.

Anyway, I'll be better soon--probably. It's just hard to plug away at writing when you know everything is stacked against you. It's not like I can stop writing, but writing and revising and obsessing for naught--isn't the most cheery thought.

Okay, seriously, it's probably just stress. T has been so strung-out on over-stimulation due to loose teeth and his funky sensory system. It's really, really, really bad. There are no words to describe how crazy he is. I wish I could get him in for some emergency appointments with the therapists. He is in such bad shape. Maybe I'll call and see if they had any cancellations today. It's THAT serious of an emergency. I might have to go spend a few hours in our therapy room with him. (Our house has a therapy room with swings and lycra hammocks and a ball pit. With two kids with Autism--it became vital.) T had a headache today. (He already gets them--our genes basically suck.) He wanted to stay home. There was no way. I'd be forced to lock myself in my room. I need a few hours of T-free life while I can get it. Tomorrow is a half-day and then they're off for Winter break. The thought fills me with dread. It's not T's fault. Hair cuts, dentist appointments, shots, ear infection--and now loose teeth--really make him nuts--like banging and kicking and screaming and shoving and punching and throwing kind of nuts. He keeps it together just fine at school. His teacher said she's been teaching for a while but she's never had a student with such drastic snaps of behavior. He's THAT good at school--and sometimes THAT bad at home.

Okay--end of rant.

I will be fine. I will survive... just like the song says. This morning I have a Christmas craft project to finish. It should be nice and fun. I need that.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'm dreaming of a white... room with padded walls.

I'm so tired. I was barely home at all yesterday, and I spent an hour and a half stuck in the car with just the kids due to traffic. (My kids enjoy being repetitive. They enjoy being repetitive. They repeat things. See how annoying it is?) Then, I didn't sleep well last night because I skipped my arthritis meds. When I gave up early this morning and took them, it conked me out for hours--making the kids late to school.

I have so much to do but I really desperately need silence--like complete and total silence. I'm dying from too much sensory input and stress over the car.

Maybe doing the Christmas cards this morning (after Yoga) will be quiet enough. It's really not quite the writing experience I was hoping for.

BTW, I've so thoroughly embraced technology that my hand will cramp about one Christmas card in, and I'll think "WHY? WHY? Why do people still like handwritten notes? It's a cold cruel world filled with handwritten notes and glitter... I hate glitter. It gets everywhere." Glitter is just slightly below spit and snot on my empirical list of hated things. Do you know what else is on there? Wasps. No, that was totally random, but I like to think you're learning about me one random thing at a time.

Okay, it's go time--for yoga. Maybe I'll squeak out some writing time when I get back. Will I work on Honor Seven--or this new idea that is plaguing me? Hmm. It remains to be seen.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Judging Books by their Covers

Okay, so I have a bone to pick with the publishing world. This book I read last night, "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society," has the lamest back blurb I've ever seen. It has two sentences and then the rest is filled with critic reviews. That was part of the reason I stopped reading it. I had no idea what it was about, whether it was something I'd like, and where it was going. I actually had no idea that Dawsey was a man--so it really confused me when she addressed him as Mr. Dawsey or something like that. It's fairly pathetic when you think the MC's love interest is female for the first bunch of pages.

Let me just say this: I don't care enough about reviews that they can substitute for a summary. I don't know the people at "Newsday" or "The Guardian." Why should I care what they think? I don't. That was the problem. I felt a great "so what" after reading their reviews--especially since their reviews were all gushy and said nothing about the plot either.

So, here is the back blurb in its entirity:

"January 1946: Writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name."

Yeah. That's it. Lame, huh?

Here is my back blurb for it:

The war has left its mark on Europe and upon the souls of those who live there. Writer and socialite Juliet Ashton is searching for something more meaningful to write about than the cheery "Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War." A copy of a Charles Lamb book she once owned inspires a man, a pig farmer, on the island of Guernsey to write to her. Dawsey Adams is one of the founding members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Drawn in by his stories and the society's unusual name, Juliet begs for letters from those in Guernsey who'd been completely shut off from the world during the German occupation.

As letters pour in from Guernsey, Juliet finds her passion for living and writing again in their stories. Despite a marriage proposal from a wealthy American, she goes to Guernsey to meet those she's corresponded with. Along with the horror of what they suffered she finds they share a simple joy for life and a love for her. As she falls in love with an orphaned child and the pig farmer who'd originally written to her, she can't help but wonder if perhaps this was what she's been searching for her whole life.

Anyway, that would have interested me a lot more than their lame blurb.

Speaking of books and covers, I made the cover for several books of mine for Lulu yesterday. (Yes, you can use their generic covers, but it's just not in me to do it.) These are just hardcopies for betas, so they won't ever see the light of the publishing world. It seems a little strange to spend so much time on them, but I don't care. I like how Scorched turned out--for being a free image that was blown up and manipulated by various programs. Honor Within is a "Paint" image. I miss Photoshop, but it would really bog down my laptop anyway.

Here are the covers for Scorched and Honor Within:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Brain sluggish--not even good enough for a zombie snack

Any zombies reading this--move along--this isn't the brain you're looking for.

So, about ten minutes after I posted yesterday, I got a rejection letter for one of the two queries I have out right now. (I'm waiting until January for Honor Among Thieves.) I've tried to convince myself that this agent was just watching my blog and trying to sneak in a rejection while I was in a good mood--and not that fate is out to kill my Christmas spirit. (Speaking of fate, I had the most amazing idea for a story come to me in a dream. I've got too much to do this week, so I'm trying to ignore it--though I did write it down. Thus far, it's plaguing me still. It took me over an hour to get to sleep because of it.)

So, both Honor Within and Scorched made it to Lulu to be printed. Woo woo! That was today's project. I'm tuckered. Yesterday, I worked on photo books for grandparents and photos for Christmas cards. My lap top is a little hot from all this stuff.

Today, the car officially kicked the husband's tail. His motorcycle had already done that too. He wrecked and slid on ice this morning. (Yeah. Good times.) We drove the car to a local mechanic to see if they can drill out the drill bit--which is stuck inside the bolt--which is in the side of the engine block--which wasn't broken a week ago. (I don't know why she swallowed the fly--perhaps she'll die.) By drive, I mean I tugged it behind my SUV while the husband made sure it didn't crunch into the back of the car. I firmly believe such situations take years off your life. I think I just lost one year of my life. It was probably going to suck anyway, though. Let's face it--once you get beyond a hundred--the years aren't as kind.

So, tonight, I have a book club book to read. I've been putting it off. The Guernsey Potato Peel Pie Society or something like that--was never on my "books to read" list, but I picked it up--read for a bit--got bored--put it down. It's time to bite the bullet. My friend says that if I stick it out for forty pages, it gets better. She likes my books--so she must have good taste. :) I might resort to skim-reading if it doesn't really pick up by then. I read really fast, but so far--this isn't a page turner for me. Anyway, that's my goal for tonight. I couldn't make it through Pride and Prejudice either--and I've heard people compare this to that. That's bad news. It's rare for me to put down a book.

Okay, see you folks tomorrow.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Thoughtful Expressions

It's not often that I write anything truly inspirational in my opinion. I write to entertain. I write to cheer. I write to amuse. I write to vent. I write for any number of reasons, but I don't seek to inspire others or write regarding inspirational topics.

We're struggling in my little family. The car continues to plague our lives. T is wired and out of control. The strain of everything on B is making her cry frequently at the littlest set-back. The husband is worried about his job. I feel rejected and frustrated as a writer. I just really feel like keeping our heads above water is becoming difficult. This year, I understand why people become depressed around Christmas time. There are so many reasons why you feel like the holidays are just trying to crush you--like seriously crush you. There is no money for a trip--but we still want to make it. There is no money for presents--so we'll just card some things and pretend the bills will never come due. The car--sigh-the car. It's difficult to make a nine hundred mile trip without a car.

Still--we go on. It's what we do. We get by. My parents had given us money to help with the car when all this first happened--and that helped us keep our heads above water. Then, the car's problem continued.

Two things happened this week to really inspire me. One of the husband's relatives sent us a substantial amount of money--actually a staggering amount of money to help with our car repairs.

Then, we'd arrived home from church just now and the husband went out to get the mail from yesterday. He handed me an envelope with no return address on it, but my name written on it.

He handed it to me, and I commented: "Hopefully, this isn't something that will make me cry." I assumed it was from a collection agency for some medical bill we hadn't caught--or maybe another "anonymous" note from someone complaining about our dog's barking. I opened it with so much pessimism that it was already hurting my stomach. It was something that made me cry. It was a money order for several hundred dollars from "Santa." I have no idea who sent it. I'm shocked at the anonymous generosity of someone.

There are those with greater need than us--I know it. The husband has a job. We don't "need" to make this trip. We don't "need" to get the kids what they asked for. In the grand scheme of needs versus wants, we're fine. We have food. We have one running car. We have medical insurance. We have our house, and we're paying our utility bills.

I'm grateful today. We've been doubly blessed in ways that you can't measure in amounts. The spirit behind both these gifts greatly surpasses any type of measurements.

Yesterday, the husband and I did Christmas shopping. Instead of feeling happy by the end of it--I was just so stressed out. I felt guilty spending money when we need to fix that car. Then, something else went wrong with the car. So, my pessimism was swamping my Christmas spirit. I had difficulty sleeping last night due to stress. I was already stressed out. Yesterday, I went next door and spoke with our neighbors about Nanaimo's barking. (They'd left a note on our door documenting our dog's barking along with the ordinance discussing "barking." ) I explained about the kid's Special Needs, and that we need a dog that barks at strangers or when the kids are crying. I thought that would help me sleep at nights again--now that I wasn't worried we'd be receiving a call from animal control. It went well, after all. Still, it seems like there is always something waiting to take a worry's place. I was trying to be all "Christmasy" and cheerful--really.

Today, I have a lot of Christmas spirit--and an overwhelming belief in the kindness of others working as angels on earth. Joy is more than the meeting of needs, and I'm grateful to those that brought me joy and happiness this week both due to their financial help and the spirit in which it was given.

Anyway, I've got plans for working on Christmas stuff today. :)

Hopefully, everyone else is having a good weekend.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday Flash Fiction--on a Saturday.

Okay, so yesterday I was distracted and busy. (Should be pronounced bis-SAY.) The husband and I had a good anniversary yesterday, by the way. (wink wink nod nod Know what I mean?) Note to all: My mom discovered yesterday that if you ask me what I did for my anniversary--I will tell you. I'm all about full disclosure. To say that she was shocked, would be understating it. The day was celebrated--that is all. :) Thoroughly. Very thoroughly.

I didn't really do a lot of flash fiction at Flashy Fiction, but I did some.

Here is this week's contributions.


"Hey, isn't that your brother coming out of the Pleasure Chest?"

Filling up the tank at the gas station next to the town's only strip club was never a choice--it was a "running on fumes" necessity.

Jon had run me out of gas again. So, you'd think he'd man up and put down that stupid book and pump my gas. Maybe he didn't think I knew what all of these "trips" out of town entailed, but I knew.

"Hey, isn't that your brother coming out of the Pleasure Chest?" Jon asked, rolling down his window to tell me. He probably thought his new mustache was something other than what it was. It was a pornstache. A thin wriggle of hair across his flaccid thick upper lip. It reminded me of the nasty tent worms we got every seven years, and we killed with a propane torch.

I glanced over at the strip club and shrugged. "He's the town sheriff, Jon. He probably had to break up a fight or something."

"Shouldn't he be in uniform or something?" Jon asked. There was an accompanying snicker, barely muffled.

Always with the questions. Always. Jon was the most worthless human being on the planet. Somewhere there was a squid that was maybe, possibly less useful to the greater plan for the universe. That might just be a rumor, though, much like the existence of Jon's brain.

I'd seen a few charges on the credit card statements that I'd found after Jon had left. Jon was intimately familiar with that strip club and he'd spent our money--my money at that place. At least my brother was single. Jon fit this self-righteous attitude just as well as he might a cheap green polyester suit from the big and tall clearance rack.

"Maybe he was on his way home and stopped."

Jon heaved a huge sigh, and it shimmied down my nerves like one of the Pleasure Chest's dancers on a pole made of sandpaper.

He'd left me. Jon had left me. Now he was back--like it was some huge favor to me. It wasn't. I was doing fine with him gone. I was doing freaking fantastic. I'd even met someone. I was anxiously awaiting the divorce papers. Then, he came back--like a bad case of fungus.

"I don't think he was in there breaking up a fight," Jon said, and the smugness was so thick you could practically see it. "You know how your family is. I won't call them white trash, but...."

Yes. That's right, Mr. Holier-than-thou. You were perfect. You were so perfect that you were too good for me--as you've reminded me a dozen times in various ways since you've returned. It was a sack of lies that stunk like roadkill baking on the pavement at noon.

The night was dark. The town was small enough that the gas station was closed though the pay at the pump was still working. I'd used Jon's card--and gasoline could wipe the prints off of everything. All of this flashed through my mind just before I pulled the handle from the gas tank and aimed it at my stupid, stupid, stupid husband. Gas splashed all over the inside of the car as he yelled about it getting in his eyes. I threw the match into the car and walked away.

Sliding into the car beside my brother, I tried to feel remorse for what I'd just done. I couldn't, and it wasn't the first time our family had resolved a sticky problem thus. My brother was filling out a police report but spared a look in his rearview mirror.

"Never liked Jon," my brother said.

"Yeah--neither did I," I said.

"He was a little like a rabid mutt--mean and begging to be put down."

"Yeah, well, I'd call him put down," I said, watching the fire engulf the car like the swamp mud swallowing a rock--a big, dumb, stupid rock.


Why is my toothbrush wet?

Oh! Oh! True story! It's not often I get to tell a true story.

Adam and I were in a battle for total domination. Well, not total--just king for the day really. It was unofficial. A snarky little skirmish between just us. We didn't know when it had started, and there was no way to end it.

Such is the relationship between a super intelligent older sibling and a middle-child sister forced to hear: "OH! You're Adam's sister." From teachers: "I had Adam in my class already. Are you as intelligent as your brother?"

No, I'm dumb as rocks. That's why I'm in your advanced classes. Yeah--and bite me.

Green as grass jealousy defined my tricks just as amused retaliation had become his instinct. Once he tied up my arms in too long sweatshirt sleeves and hung me from a doorknob. I was stuck in my own sweatshirt. Stuck.

The toothbrush was my epiphany of passive aggressive genius. When I first conceived its simplicity, I laughed out loud. Perfect. He would doubt his very frame of mind. His high I.Q. wouldn't be able to wrap itself around the quandary. Brilliant. He thought he was so smart.

The first week, I just got it wet--each morning. His puzzled reaction was hard to ignore.

The second week, I smuggled both lemon juice and salt into the bathroom. I alternated. I tried to hide smug smiles. It was difficult.

The third week, he switched toothbrushes--and I picked up my toothbrush to find it wet one day.

Well played, Adam. Well played.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The hand that takes my hand is the one that rocks my world.

Okay, that sounded less crass in my mind. Point being: Today is my twelfth anniversary. Yay!

It means that I'm still cleaning and cleaning until the husband gets home. That's significantly less yay. That's more of a "BOO. Rubbish. Filthy. Slime. Muck!"

It's freakishly cold here again today. There are rumors of snow. Snow! I saw them spraying salt water on the roads. Yesterday it got up above freezing though--by two degrees. Pathetic. Sooo cold. Too cold.

I've been busy writing Honor Seven when I'm not cleaning. Okay, so--having this be the one before they get married and from Reeve's point of view--uhh--it's steamy. There aren't any actual words that I couldn't say in front of my mother, but--on the whole--and due to duration of such scenes. Yeah. Steamy. I think I really need to get something out of my system--the husband will appreciate that. I'm not sure I can pass this along to my teenage beta reader, but I don't know. There is absolutely no graphic language. Still, there is much kissing and wanting--lots of hot-blooded, carnal, sweet need. Lust. Lust on a stick to be enjoyed. Mmm. It's yummy, and I suspect that's bad--but it's hard to say. They're still waiting until they're married, but it's definitely getting more difficult. It reminds me a little of being engaged to the husband. Hot, carnal, sweet need, baby. Lots of it. Mmm.

Okay, yeah, I have so stuff to get out of my system. Thankfully, my sister is coming to pick up the kids and take them back to her house for the night. Sisters are so wonderful that way. Husbands are so wonderful for hot, carnal, sweet loving. I should go eat some Frosting and get to cleaning.

Anyone care to weigh in on how much steam without action is allowed in your mind for a fourteen year old?

Okay, you get an excerpt. This is from Without Honor. For those that have never read any of it, Reeve made a pledge to do whatever Honor asks, and they can't change that. He's a vampire and she's a Shadow Hunter. My version of vampire is closer to a guardian role. They rarely drink blood and it's not for sustenance or pleasure. So, here is an excerpt from a longer scene--yes, a scene that is similar in heat. Did I go too far? Opinions. I'm going to send along the full scene to Jaime for an opinion on the heat level. I like it--but I'm starting to wonder if I just really need "action"--especially since I keep adding to it. Mmm... action... yummy.

“Reeve.” She pulled me on top of her. We both moaned as my weight settled on top of hers, and our bodies just seemed to match—like a puzzle piece sliding into place. Her hands pulled at my back, kneading, tugging, and tightening. ‘Closer,’ she whispered in my head.

I tried. I really tried.

‘We shouldn’t,’ I said, while my hand slid underneath her to try to get her closer. It wasn’t just the pledge enforcing a want. By the winds, I wanted, needed, and intended to make her mine in every sense of the word. Mine. I’d never wanted to possess anything as much as I wanted to possess Honor. It was making me a jealous fool at times.

‘I want…,’ Honor said, moaning as kissed her neck. She couldn’t finish that sentence. My muscles stiffened at the word—the pledge was much, much stronger than any will I had to resist on this subject.

‘The blood bond,’ I reminded her.

‘Mmm. I love you, Reeve,’ she said. Her words almost incited the same response as the pledge would have.

Control. I needed to regain control of myself.

‘I love your hair,’ she said, sliding her hands into it. ‘Shiny. I love shiny silver.’

‘It’s the same color as Tuck,’ I said, covering her mouth with mine.

‘I love you more than Tuck.’

‘I love you more than anything,’ I replied, and I was grateful for the mental bond that allowed me to say such true but emotionally motivated words in our heads. I could just imagine the mimicry of the other Brethren we’d be hearing otherwise.

Her hands slid down my back, leaving tingling warmth in their trail.

‘Your body is yummy,’ she said.

The imagery of oral interest juxtaposed with my body was too much. My control was slipping—dissolving in desire. My skin felt hyper aware of the slim, beautiful curves beneath me. Throbbing heat flushed every point of intersection of our skin.
No. Control. I needed control. Too fast. Too soon. Too much.

I rolled her back on top. I was having a hard time remembering why we wanted to wait, and what was wrong with the floor after all.

A moment later, Thor stood at the top of the stairs and said, “Reeve, send Honor and her nimble little fingers up here.” I was grateful that three hundred feet of stairs and a closed door prevented Honor from hearing that—and the raucous laughter that followed.

They would all be tripped before the day was over.

I needed to stop. We needed to stop. This shouldn’t happen on the floor anyway. I intended for it to happen far away from the prying ears of the Brethren. Honor’s heartbeat gave away my desire as much as her own. It was pounding—and the sound stroked the ego I hadn’t known I possessed.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

Have I mentioned yet how much I hate cleaning? It sucks. It sucks big rocks.

I'll be cleaning today. Blech. Yuck. Awful.

I just wish I could clean and have it stay clean. It never does, and it never ends. NEVER.

I need a cleaning fairy.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Them days--they move.

Wow. I have so much to get done before my kids get out of school for winter break--and they only have seven days left of school. Yikes. Super yikes!

So, Honor Among Thieves--there is no way I'll get to much of the revisions needed before the holidays. Ugh. I'm going to get thrown in with the January New Year's resolution crowd.

On Honor Six--I finished but my sister, Heidi, wants me to add action into the first 30 pages. (The muse says no. She says she is done with Honor Six. The muse has spoken.)

On Honor Seven-- Why? Why must new ideas swamp my brain so soon after old ideas have left? It's a cruel sort of victory of obsession over control. It happens every time. I keep thinking that I'll be able to catch up on my life--but no.

Chosen Changeling-- The one my sister wants me to finish next. This would be a stand-alone book on the currently popular subject of fairies. The muse is completely silent. NOTHING. I got nothing. I read through what I had--thinking that I'd be able to jump back into it. Nothing.

I didn't try my Dystopian because Honor Seven plot started swamping me.

The muse is cruel and twisted and just soooo wrong. Wrong, I tell you! Wrong!

Yes, it's a beautiful and wonderful gift to be able to write so fast. Yes, it's an awful curse to be able to write so fast that there are always new things that skip into my mind and demand my attention if I want to get any sleep--ever.

This Friday is the husband and my anniversary. I'm hoping to have the house clean for our anniversary. Yes, it's sad that this is so significant and would be an actual "gift" to him. Sickness and writing have taken precedence. The muse is cruel to the husband also. My sister suggested he take the day off and we sit around naked and watch movies. I must be old and married because that just sounded breezy and uncomfortable instead of sexy. Plus, having naked butts on the sofa--weirdness--lots of weirdness. Nakedness is less exciting than it's made out to be in my opinion. Skin gets all uncomfortable pressed up against other skin. It's like sitting on vinyl in a short skirt in summer. I firmly believe if the Garden of Eden hadn't been perfect weather--Adam and Eve would have discovered clothing long before Lucifer came along.

Okay. That's possibly too much information.

Anyway, so I've got to get busy cleaning. So, unplugged may continue.

I did have to say something super special happened today. It was the cutest thing ever.

B has Classic Autism (this isn't the cute part) and when she was diagnosed six years ago, I asked the doctor if she'd ever get married and have a family. He was silent for a moment before he said, "If she does, she might marry another Autistic person. I have high hopes that she might be able to hold down a job some day." The world crashed down on us during that appointment. B has exceeded the expectations of most everyone. Today, I dropped her off at her school and got out to go walk the kids to the crosswalk. This boy from her class comes running over, shouting her name. He walked beside her and waited at the crosswalk when she got a little behind--all while talking to her and saying her name over and over and trying to make eye contact to get her attention on him. He was walking close enough to bump shoulders with her and his focus was all on her. At eight years old, B is into the segregation of sexes phase of schooling due to cooties--the exception being, of course, when a boy likes a girl. B has a boyfriend--only she has no idea--which made it cuter. She tends not to notice things like that--at all. The more she seemed oblivious--the harder he tried to get her to smile at him. I couldn't stop smiling after that. How full of sweet is that? It was adorable.

Okay, well, I might sneak in a few minutes of writing before tackling my house. Ugh. Blech. Yuck. I hate cleaning. I'd rather have dental surgery than clean. Seriously. At least, then, they give you the good drugs to make it go by faster.

Le sigh.

Have a good Wednesday everyone!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Revision Unplugginess

I need to concentrate on my so-called life and on revising Honor Six. As some of you may have noticed, Honor Seven has made an appearance on my WIPs. The muse--she is cruel. I no sooner had finished Honor Six--when Honor Seven crept into my mind. GRRR! Really? I tried to ignore Reeve's dialogue in my head for hours while trying to sleep but, eventually, it's write or insomnia. So, the honeymoon was over on a head free of needed writing. Without Honor (Book Seven) is written from Reeve's perspective so I think it'll take much longer. As those familiar with the series know, Reeve is a lot more complicated of a voice.

Okay, so I'm going to get to work on revising everything in preparation for a massive Lulu hardcopy order. Hopefully, they'll magically have a beautiful and perfect sale.

Have a good Tuesday, everyone. Unplugged today.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Inspired by the Season Two

Here are some of the pictures that didn't make the first group because I didn't want to overwhelm everyone if they didn't find nativities as interesting as I do.

These are handmade:

The ones in the foreground are from Africa and the picture doesn't really do them justice.

Here is another panoramic shot of it:

Snowmen nativities don't photograph well--for the record. They're too white.

Joy to the world:

The foreground one is made of copper and much cooler than it appears.

Here is a closer shot of the silhouettes I did.

A nativity in a seed pod.

A bunch of the glass nativities:

In front is an edible nativity--but I don't see that as a thing you generally want to eat. Maybe that's just me, though.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Inspired by the Season

I'm not sure whether I've stated this, but I'm LDS aka Mormon. It's rare that I'll bring up a religious topic, but I mentioned my involvement with the recent nativity display. Our church set up hundreds of nativities in a room the size of a full basketball court. I did the silhouettes of the city you'll see in the background of some of these pictures. It worked out to be just a little over 100 ft of silhouettes sketched. I also helped set up seating areas and a section dedicated to pictures. Anyway, the nativities are amazing. There is a huge range of what is present, and it's all on loan from various people. It's a free event that draws in groups from all over--whether they're members of our church or not. Here are some of my favorite nativities.

Here is just an idea of how big it is--this is just a section of it--perhaps one-fifth of the entire display is visible:

I liked this one made from a log.

Here you can see the silhouettes I did:

The sign states this is from the 1930s:

This is made using nails:

This is my favorite:

The nativity in the foreground is made entirely of newspaper:

This nativity is made of husks, nuts, cobs, and other natural elements.

Penguins--gotta love penguins.

This is made of stone and from Ireland. This was probably my second favorite.

There were several made from olive trees. The husband and the husband's father are big fans of wood nativities.

I liked this glass one:

This was a wonderful experience. From a spiritual and artistic standpoint--it's unparalleled. If you ever get the chance to attend such an event, I recommend you move heaven and earth to be there. It's amazing. Anyway, it's meant long hours the last two years for me since they found out that I'm an artist that can free-hand and paint. (Last year, I did a stable for a live nativity--with painted animals on the back.) When it's all said and done, the hours are worth it. It's just for two days. In fact, it was completely gone today for church. There are few things that take that many hours that are worth two days worth of use. This is one of those things.

I hope everyone is having a good Sunday. I'll be back to writing-centric posts tomorrow.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sometimes--we're laughing both at and with ourselves

From the chart site to the side:

funny graphs and charts
see more Funny Graphs

Doctor, I believe we've discovered a normality.

So, I've been so busy this week that I didn't do any flash fiction.


I know. It's not right. There should always be time set aside for flashing.

Today, I tried to accomplish:

1. Getting package mailed = done
2. Getting car tabs updated = closed on Fridays
3. Buying Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for friend's birthday--last week = sold out
4. Working on Honor Six = just got back to the house after having been gone for eight hours
5. Cleaning house --seriously, I was = see excuse--I mean--reason above
6. Worked in T's classroom = Yay! Did it.

I did accomplish several things not on the list. I went to the bakery and got a small cake for my friend and met up with Heidi and went to the Nativity thing and out to lunch.

Still, the one thing I was going to accomplish IF IT KILLED ME--was getting my tabs updated. What kind of licensing place is closed on Fridays? Wrong! So wrong! Grumble grumble. The sad irony will involve me getting pulled over for expired tabs before Monday arrives. (It's the car we rarely drive, but with our main vehicle out of commission. Le sigh.)

Anyway, I had a wicked migraine take me down last night, but the wonderful, stupendous, super husband took the kids out of the house and returned with Taco Bell food. It was so nice.

So, these is a boring post, huh? I did have nightmares last night about getting pulled over before I got my tabs renewed. Then, I also had a dream that someone was trying to notify me that someone close to me named "Mary" had just been killed in a car accident. I know like five or six Marys in real life, so I kept trying to get them to clarify and they kept saying, "It was Mary, you know--Mary." Awful. I was screaming by the end of it, yelling, "GIVE me more information." They said, "Okay. Okay. It was Mary..." and I woke up.


Well, it's time for me to go pick up the kidlets at the bus stop. This is, of course, when any attempts to accomplish things will be null and void and reversed.

Such is life....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tag--you're it!

I was tagged by Tina, so this is a two post day. I'm supposed to answer these uber personal questions and tag two other people. (What were the odds that I wouldn't tag Diana?) Diana--you're it! Hah! Girl with One Eye--you're also it. Neeners.

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?
The last thing I wrote is Honor Six. I won a bunch of contests in creative writing in high school, so they were published in school-wide stuff. That the first "real" writing I did. This question is so vague. When I was young, my favorite first word I learned how to write was "pin." I don't know why, but I just liked the way it looked.
2. Write poetry?
Yes, some. I'm not a poet, though.
3. Angsty poetry?
4. Favorite genre of writing?
Paranormal Urban Fantasy--both to read and write.
5. Most annoying character you've ever created?
I once wrote a story about a knight who went up against another and refused to joust because he was an affirmed coward. The council of wizards kept trying to get him to do it, but he just kept refusing before walking off the field. He was boldly cowardly--and there was just something so annoying and charming about him.
6. Best Plot you've ever created?
Umm, I really like the Honor book's plotline, but Scorched is pretty good too. I don't know--this might be a better question for people that have read my books.
7. Coolest Plot twist you've ever created?
I think the plot twist in the first Sarah book is still the best one I've come up with. I had my two protagonists stuck, safely hiding, in their apartment, and it was a challenge to get them out--when it wasn't logical at all. My villain managed a twist so cunning that I still rub my hands together a little when I read it. BAWAHAHA!
8. How often do you get writer's block?
Twice a month at least for twenty-four hours each time when my mind is fuzzy from girly hormones. It's a total black-out, and it terrifies me each time--I feel like I've lost any talent I might have. I've been struggling with writer's frustration with several of my stories, but I think it's because I had too many WIPs.
9. Write fan fiction?
No. I just find it weirder than weird myself.
10. Do you type or write by hand?
LOL. Type. My hands cramp up with even a little bit of writing. I've become a huge sissy. Plus, I'm dependent on spell-check and all the other wonderful things that come with technology.
11. Do you save everything you write?
Sure. Why not. My OCD would freak out if I threw anything out.
12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?
I never leave a good idea behind.
13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written?
Umm, tough one. I really like "Stories and Magic" because it's first person written from the perspective of an agoraphobic person who never leaves her apartment. It was a challenge, and I liked it.
14. What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written?
No idea. You'd have to ask them.
15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
Abso-freaking-lutely. I love me some angst. Scorched--full of lovely angst. No straight romances, though--not in my opinion.
16. What's your favorite setting for your characters?
I set a bunch of stuff in either Vegas or Seattle. I've spent so much time in both places that I know them well. Scorched is in Vegas. Honor is in Seattle--but she's been all over. This may seem weird, but I keep track of the weather in the locations I use in stories. I don't know why, but it feels like I'm keeping track of my characters' lives that way. I'm fairly certain it's psychotic actually. So, I'm currently watching the weather in Miama, Houston, Seattle, Vegas, and L.A. No, I know. It makes no sense.
17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?
I have three I consider to be WIPs (listed at the bottom), but I have the Company of Him eleven and a book called Tables Turned that are there and waiting should I come up with enthusiasm for them.
18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?
In high school. Actually, like Tina, I just got passed over on a contest. Thanks for making it burn like a paper cut with lemon juice in it.
19. What are your five favorite words?
For right now: "Can I be your agent?" :) I'm so clever.
20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?
This may or may not shock the crap out of people that have read all my books. Johnna--without a doubt. Her voice is the closest to mine and it was easiest to write her dialogue.
21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?
I have no idea. I've heard both Stephanie Meyer and J.K. Rowling say that their characters seem to walk into their minds fully-formed (or something like that.) That's how it is for me. They seem as real to me as other people I meet. Jake seems particularly real for some reason.
22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Yep. My dystopian is based on a dream.
23. Do you favor happy endings?
I favor good endings that are happy. I don't like things tied up--nice and tidy. I like real endings where things are good and right. I don't like sad endings--at all. NO WAY. If something has a sad ending, I won't watch it or read it. It's my policy. Sometimes, I read the end of literary novels just to check. (That seems to be a common trend among literary novels.)
24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Yes. Yes. Yes. I'm obsessed with it. I double-check and triple-check. It's why my sister gets so excited about "Beta Easter Eggs" when she finds my typos.
25. Does music help you write?
Sometimes. Sometimes I need total and complete silence--which is why I write at night so much. Right now, our saltwater fish tank is way too loud for my comfort level, so I'm going to have to move to another room. (I have strong auditory aversions.)
26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head.
"I think I might be able to drive with you on my lap." Reeve--Honor Within It makes me laugh every time I read it.