Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fragile Bones excerpt

I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday last weekend. Going into New Year's weekend, here's a little excerpt for you:

“You would've killed me.”
I bit my lip. He said it so easily, but I thought I heard a whisper of guilt or maybe it was my imagination. “I don't want to see any more. I've had my fill of your past.”
“It's not our decision. But I agree. It's getting too dangerous. I'll be looking for you. In my past, after that moment, I constantly looked to the shadows, searching for you. I remember.”
I stood up. Sickness sank into my stomach like a hard knot that refused to pass. Things had gotten too strange. Everything I knew about Michael, everything I'd come to depend upon changed. I'd told him so many times I trusted him, but I couldn't help but wonder if that were completely true. The memory of the devil's face cast a shadow over the light.
“I don't know how I'm going to deal with this,” I admitted.
“I tried to tell you before.”
“I know, but imagination can't conjure the truth of experience.” I pushed through the door. “I can't breathe.”
I scuffed across the church and climbed the stairs to our room. Our room. Our bed. I wanted to puke. How many times had Michael warned me? Yet I didn't want to believe it. Not really. I sat on the edge of the bed and closed my eyes. I opened them again. Behind the darkness, a vision of those glowing eyes and blood, thick and black, dripping. I looked at my hands. The dried blood still on my fingertips seemed to flow down into my palm, pooled there, and continued to climb up my arms. I tried to wipe it off, but it leaped onto my other hand until the sticky gore painted both hands and arms.
It wasn't me.
But it was.
I curled in on myself and fell into the mattress.
One truth made the whole episode worse: I was jealous. Jealous of that pitiful young man in the alley. For a few minutes, he'd felt the raw, savage lust of the unchained monster. I fantasized what it might be like; wanted it more than anything. Michael cleaving away the unwanted parts of me. The part that raged. The part that cowered. The filthy parts, the fragile parts. Maybe then I could stand beside him worthy of that position. I wanted to partake with him.
Though he denied it, I knew that fear haunted him. How could he not be afraid? Years might have distanced him, but the memories lingered. Refreshed anew by our visits to those places. Images uncovered and once more open to the light of day. Questioning oneself is never comfortable. All the 'what ifs' overwhelming any sense of self. Though, I couldn't imagine Michael ever lost himself to such lines of thinking. He resisted.
Laughter boiled up and tangled in my throat; strangled me. It came out in coughing staccato beats.
The shock faded away and left me cold and empty. The murderous impulses threatened to fill that space. I clenched my hands until skin split under my nails. How easy it would be. Willingly enslaved by that singular pleasure. Those eyes, familiar, yet so alien, would forever chase me. I saw what I could become. That same look had probably graced my face when I murdered that man such a short time ago.
Oh, how sweet that power sang along my every nerve.
The warring feelings tore at my insides.
I wanted to feel myself again.
But who was that? The tender victim? The untamed killer? The young man who overcame both those things?
Whatever had fetched me away from my former life believed in me. Michael believed in me. Why couldn't I believe in myself? I was weak. I couldn't master even my simple impulses, how could I hope to conquer those greater things that gripped me?

You can get it here in paperback and for kindle:
or here on Smashwords: (use coupon code NB26F for 53% off.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Running Scared

"Prompt You or your MC has to do something physically vigorous. Take us through the reaction of their bodies and mind as they complete this task.

Just to make it a little more interesting, I would also like a little setting thrown in there.

Word count limit: 300 (it's a tight fit, but I'm betting you all can do it :) )"

Whew!! Talk about trimming! I shaved almost 200 words to get right at 300 exactly! Phone it in, it's a miracle. lol Kidding aside, these exercises really make you look at every single word to gauge its importance and impact to the story.

Night swaddled the sky in a gown of velvet darkness. Enfolded the streets in swirls and eddies of light and shadow. With it, the loud barks, croaks, and hoots of the wild echoed off the sides of hulking, bulky monsters - eyes lit with the inner fires of flickering fluorescents. Or incandescents. Silhouettes crossing LCDs playing fake realities.

Six blocks. Knees high, stride long; arms pumping. My sneakered feet hitting concrete with audible thumps. Eyes scanning ahead for cracks and buckles. I couldn't afford a fall. I wished for the moon, but it hid its face from my plight.

Sweat gathered on my brow. I went off my pace for a breath to wipe salt water away from my eyes.

Four more blocks. Breath stuck in my lungs, rattling. Refused more air. Like if old Jim, the really over-weight guy on the next block, sat on my chest and cinched a wide belt around my ribs. Air came and went in great huffing, panicked gasps.

Suffocating. No way I would make it.

Two blocks now. My joints screamed; long disused from sitting hours on the couch playing videos games or at my desk mesmerized by the web. Knees popped. Hips stuttered. Each pounding step, my ankles would surely shatter.

Vision pin holing. Steps faltering. Nothing but the slow motion huff, huff of rattling lungs and thump, thump of pounding feet.

Half a block. Almost there, I thought in the back of my mind - the detached part that watched in abstract third person. Labored breath, slipping joints, incinerated muscles - black, fear driven flight.

My house loomed. Gloomy creature with half lidded eyes.

I leaped with final desperation onto the porch; turned toward my pursuers, half crouching. But they were gone.

I stumbled, wheezing, but relieved, through the door to safety.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Six to Nine

"Today's prompt is going to focus on a random word generated Prompt-and-Share centering on plot. The rules will be a little more strict, please adhere to them, they are there for YOU to learn how to work your creativity within certain guidelines.

#1 -At least one character
#2 – A conflict AND a resolution
#3 – Give us a setting
#4 – Your story must include the 3 random words chosen
#5 – No more than 500 words please
#6 – Have fun with it! Today’s random words thanks to


Not sure if I adhered to the rules very strictly, but at past 1am, this is all I got. 386 words.

"Eddy said to observe the number six when it strikes midnight," Mel said.

"Whaddya suppose that means?" Sam scratched at the beginnings of a pubescent beard.

"I dunno, but doncha think that antique grandfather clock is kinda creepy?"

"Nah." The older boy refuted it, but he kept glancing sidelong at the distinctive piece that seemed to take up the entire room.

In fact, the imposing clock, brooding in the cheery front room, looked much like a stately gentleman overlooking, with pompous disapproval, the frequent comings and goings of the tight knit trio of long time friends.

"Is it supposed to be haunted or something?" Mel asked, hugging her arms tightly about her midsection.

"I guess so, but you know Eddy's constantly joking around. He's probably trying to scare you." Sam elbowed her arm. "Besides, it's hours til midnight"

Mel forced a laugh. "Yeah. You're probably right." She adjusted the wire framed glasses on her nose. "Where is he anyway? He should've been back by now."

"We should've went with him. You know if Casey's working, he'll loiter."

Mel rolled her eyes. "I think I saw her car on the way home from school."

Before Sam could say anything, Eddy's mom emerged from the hall, her footsteps drummed the wood floor in a quick staccato beat. "Hey kids."

"Hi, Mrs. Sellers," they both said in unison.

"Did Eddy hijack the car again?"

"Yeah, he went down to the corner store to get a two liter," Mel said. "But he's taking his time."


"Yep," Sam confirmed.

"Figures," Mrs. Sellers shook her head.

"I guess we should go ahead and leave," Mel said. "We'll catch him later."

"Before we go," Sam said. "What did Eddy mean about the clock?"

Mrs. Sellers laughed. "About the six?"

"Uh huh."

"I inherited it from my uncle recently. It’s pretty old, so some of the numbers are a little loose and I haven't gotten around to fixing them yet. When the old thing chimes, the reverberations jostle the numbers and the six will sometimes invert or fall off completely. Did he try to make it into a ghost story?"

"Sorta," Mel said.

"I won't tell him I told you." Mrs. Sellers winked then strode to the kitchen.

"We're so getting him back," Sam said.

Mel grinned, walking toward the door. "For once."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sage Advice

"We all know how important the first sentence is to any story, it grabs the reader and pulls them in. We've been taking the first sentence of famous novels and writing our own little stories with them. Today we are gonna steal from F Scott Fitzgerald's, The Great Gatsby .

In 500 words or less, write a short story/flash fiction starting with this as your opening line: In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since."

I don't really have much to say about this other than I feel I've written better. However, part of this exercise is in the process and practice of writing under specific conditions that will hopefully, over time, increase quality.

So with that in mind, 480 words:

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.

“Don’t bury a hatchet in a pile of shit.” I recollected his stern, serious face imparting his oft perplexing wisdom.

At 42 years old, I still couldn’t figure out what the hell he meant by those cryptic words any more than my 12 year old self. Wide eyed as if I’d received the secret to life itself, but too afraid to ask for what it meant other than the obvious.

I had my theories, of course. Dismissed them one by one as experience taught me all the really important life lessons. If you fall, get back up. You reap what you sow. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Those truisms that resonate throughout time and circumstance.

I glanced over at Dad. 83 years wore a body down. The man I knew from my youth faded into the skeletal figure hooked up to all the wonders of modern medicine. Wires and tubes sustaining him even against nature and the body’s will. The subtle, yet incessant beeping, a testament that his heart still beat. The soft buzz and whirl and breath of mechanized life creating a helpless cyborg of the person who I always thought invincible.

A marrow deep sorrow cloaked me in a blanket of melancholy so heavy I couldn’t even mourn the loss of such a great man. Tears and sadness could wait until later. I stood and went to the window. The view below offered nothing but the coarse, monochromatic gravel roof of a lower level. The sky above, however, nearly radiated with the purest azure I’d seen in a long time. Or maybe it’d been too long since I noticed.

I turned away from a day so perfect it seemed to mock my heavy heart. I returned to the uncomfortable wood and vinyl chair and reached for Dad’s frail hand.

“Dad,” I started. My eyes focused on the space of nothing between us. “I don’t know if you can hear me, but I my whole life…” I swallowed. Closed my eyes.

“Son?” A mere breath of a whisper I almost didn’t hear.

I half stood and bent forward, not believing he’d roused.

“What did you mean?” I asked urgently. “What did you mean by ‘don’t bury a hatchet in a pile of shit?’ I have to know.”

He wheezed and coughed, grimacing; his eyes pinched. I leaned in closer and realized he was laughing. I waited until he settled. I thought for a moment he’d fallen back asleep, but his cloudy eyes reopened.

“What it means…” He took a rattling breath. “…is don’t bury a hatchet in shit.”

“That’s it?”

Only the long steady beep of a flat line replied.

I shook my head in wonderment. Still the same, even at the very last.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


The prompt:
"Today we are going to work on a sense I learned from taking the free writers course on F2K. The sense of the unknown.
We are going to keep this one short, 300 word count. Focus on a conflict and a resolution, but give us a sense of the unknown. Like wondering what's behind that closed door, if your character doesn't know, neither should we. What lurks in the dark? Who is hiding in the closet? What will their husband do on their anniversary this year - provide a sense of the unknown!"

300 words doesn't leave any wiggle room; I'm normally fairly verbose... almost to the point of being purple. ;P All I had to start myself off with this was one word that popped into my head while I stared at the blank doc.  

The stagnant night air clung to sweating bodies milling in confusion at the sudden darkness. Outside, the inconstant wind ruffled the snapping canvas, weaving that fabric’s musty scent with too strong perfume, perspiration and something else that smelled off.

“Jamie!” I shouted above the loud swell of panic that jostled me from all sides.

My heart beat a fierce tempo. My stomach twisted in knots. On the other side of the huge vendor’s tent, a piercing scream cut through the rising chaos.

For a moment, dead silence. Not breath, nor movement. Nothing for that eternal instant.

Then hell happened.

A tsunami of flesh pushed against me. I stumbled, caught myself on a tangle of limbs and clawed my way back upright. A body went down. Another. Lost under a hundred trampling feet. A scream tore from my throat as I was carried forward.

I choked on air so thick I could almost swallow it. The press of slick skin crushed my bones and the heat held under the thick lid of canvas turned us all into the contents of a giant pressure cooker.

Then I was out. Spilling onto the ground as the ones behind spurted from the narrow, cut slit as I had. I crawled from under heavy bodies and stomping feet. Struggled until I somehow pulled myself away, off to the side.

Flat on my back, I stared up at the midnight sky so perfectly clear in the absence of light. Grim sounds of terror faded away into the distance. Breath stuttered as I drew it in. Tears flowed into my hair.

I learned later that Jamie went down with the first surge. It could’ve been me. Should’ve been.

They say a transformer blew. I’m not sure what I believe anymore. I still hear that scream on quiet nights when sleep eludes me.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Make a wish.

Today's Prompt:

"Everyone has a birthday right? Well, of course they do. So when is your character's birthday? Do their characteristics match their zodiac signs? Take your character through one of their birthday celebrations (Or tell a story about your own), whether it was last month or twenty years ago. 500 word count limit pretty please."

Since I'm working on The Winter of the Birds, (the sequel to The Summer of the Frogs), I decided to use Claire as a guinea pig for this prompt. :) 462 words.

The thing about birthdays is people use them to mark the passage of time. And time, for me, is irrelevant. It doesn’t flow in a straight line, but splits in a brilliant bursting of many singular possibilities creating infinite universes as each moment skips along.

Though this reality tied me to it most securely, if I closed my eyes, I could see everything. As one might look down into a pool. Or at a shattered mirror on the floor.

But I humored them. The ones that could see and the ones who couldn’t. Mom, Sebastian, Gerald, Tommy, Andy, Mara. All of them.

And me too.

Honestly? No way I was going to pass up a chance at cake. Not when two layers of chocolate-y goodness had my name all over it.


It said, “Happy Birthday, Claire!” in my favorite color of green across the top of rippling chocolate icing. The letters framed by a circle of ten white candles that flickered waiting for me to make a wish.

I laughed and smiled as they sang and I blew out tiny flames, then danced around the table, skipping like a child in our small eat-in kitchen while Mom cut the cake into neat triangles. Twirling between my brother and my beloved. Bouncing in figure eights with my friends as poles. They laughed along with me. Happy, I think, that this latest batch of drugs seemed to be working.

When the cake was eaten and everyone long gone, I lingered at the little square formica table. Hesitant to release the festive mood that filled our usually somber house.

My brother, Sebastian, touched my shoulder on his way by. “Good night, sis. Happy birthday,” he said again before trotting up the stairs to his room.

I smiled a crooked smile and heaved a sigh. Pushed away from the table and stood for a moment looking around for all the tiny pieces of evidence of my birthday party. The leftover cake under a tent of plastic sat on the counter. A bit of red and blue paper peeked out from the trash can. Plastic forks in the sink that Mom would later wash and put away.

My gaze landed finally on Tommy who stood patiently, as always, in the shadows waiting for me. I reached out a hand which he took.

“Happy birthday,” he said and kissed the back of my hand before releasing it.

“Thank you.” I said. “But do you have to go?”

“You know I do.”

I frowned and crossed my arms. Looked away so he wouldn’t see me scowling. I huffed and turned back to him once my face straightened out. He was already starting to fade away.

I swallowed hard and smiled bravely. “Next time?”

He nodded and was gone.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Just One Drink...

The lovely Nina Pelletier hosts a prompt and share flash fiction circle on Google+. I hope to participate more frequently this next year. For the prompt on Friday, Dec. 2nd:
"You or your Main Character went out the night before, they remember having one drink, and then nothing else. You or your MC wake up and need to piece together where they are and how they got there."

This was my contribution, (553 words):

I woke. Coughing, choked on the frothy phlegm that spewed up from raspy lungs. Bitter contents from my stomach swirled with it into a potently foul mixture. I folded over and gagged. Steam rose off my too hot skin and from the mucus-y puddle at my knees. A foaming crystal pond on a land of black asphalt. The angry glare of a red street light created rhodolite gems from the bubbles.

I closed my eyes. Leaned into the side of an unforgiving building. Bricks, course and biting, chewed into my bare skin. Chill air sucked the heat away; I shivered. To such a low place I'd arrived. But how? I hugged myself. Nails dug into my arms. Jaw clenched around another wave of futile nausea.

I groaned and squeezed myself more tightly. What the hell had happened? My brain, sluggish, refused to divulge anything. I squinted into the red lit darkness. Halos and strings jumped around dimly shaped objects. Nothing looked right. Where was I?

Panic like the creeping of an easy tide swelled under my skin. Clamped like brutal hands, finally, around my throat. I struggled to stand. Bits of my skin scraped between brick teeth as I clawed my way up to wobbly feet.

"Need help?"

I turned. A shadow monster offered an outstretched hand. I backed up. Nearly fell. The shadow stepped to the edge of the light. I blinked. Blinked again.

The light behind me soaked into eyes that reflected nothing. Soulless pits of endless night. I shook my head. I tried swallowing, but gagged again.

A grin split the shadow face. Gleaming teeth like a neat row of blades. Growing larger as the figure neared. I pissed down my leg. Too scared for humiliation.

"Let's get you home.” It grabbed my arm and pulled me further down the alley. "I can't believe you got so fucked up with just one shot." The creature from the deepest parts of hell, twisted and coalesced as we broke free from the dark. Transformed in an instant into a face I knew well.

I laughed. A hoarse cackling that bounced down the corridor of hungry teeth and hell-spawned shadows. Bursting out into the open where the open sky gathered sound and cast it back in echoes, mockingly.

Just one shot. "No," I sputtered. Slumping finally into a warm cavern of plastic and glass. My head lolled to the side. "Not just."

The familiar face boiled and melted away. Revealing again the demon beneath. I slipped further down as my numb limbs refused to submit to my commands.

"Shit," the demon spat. Venom dripped off dagger teeth. "Someone fucking drugged you! Son of a bitch!" Words like the ringing of metal on metal.

My heart wild in my chest. Beating. Beating. Becoming all I could hear. Fire scalded along every tiny vein. My skin sizzled. Air, shards of glass down my throat until there was nothing left to breath. My arms leaden; I could only clench my hands in a final desperate panic. True dark robbed my vision; I tried to see, but there was nothing. Just the unbearable heat of a thousand fires burning in my gasping lungs, in my swelling eyeballs and finally in the spectacular burst of an exploding sun in my brain.

Just one drink... and I was dead.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fragile Bones excerpt

At the halfway point reading through Fragile Bones hopefully for the final time, so I thought I'd post a little excerpt from where I'm at in the book. :)

The days bled together as they always did when there was nothing
to occupy my time. I paced the apartment when Michael was away. I
sometimes snuck down the fire escape to loiter in the alley. Worried
about whether I would become a victim again, yet hoping for a reason
to vent the insidious, burning rage.
“I need to do something,” I complained. “If I'm here to help people,
I need to be out there amongst them.”
“I've been thinking the same thing.”
My jaw dropped. I wasn't expecting him to agree with me.
“You can close your mouth,” he said with a smile. “We're going
out tonight.”
I grinned. “It's about time. I've been well enough for a while.”
“Don't look so eager. It's going to be hard on you. Whether or not
you think so. Don't you remember that first time?”
I looked away. I remembered. I remembered the sickness in body
and mind from the backlash. “I'm prepared for it this time.” I locked
eyes with him. “I didn't know what to expect last time; now I know.”
“I've inquired about an easier way and there is none. The only
thing I can do is try to bleed off some of the power after it's over.”
I cocked my eyebrow. “And what does that entail?” I tried to keep
my thoughts on a high ground, but they sank low and I smirked.
“They left it at my discretion.” He didn't look too pleased.
“I'm sure you'll think of something,” I said innocuously. If he
didn't, then I certainly could.
“I know what you're thinking. It's not going to happen.”
“So you keep saying.”
“At least let me know when you start to get sick. I can help you. Now that I also know what will happen, I can deal with my own backlash.”
That piqued my curiosity. “How does it affect you?”
“It's nothing I can't handle.”
“That only fuels my curiosity,” I told him.
“You just focus on what you need to do and I'll do what I can to
take the edge off.” He glared at me as if to make a point.
I shrugged my shoulders. “I'll do what I came here to do.” I looked
down at my hands and shook off the impression of black blood stains
splattered up to my elbows. “And if I dirty my hands, it's not as if I
haven't done worse.”
Michael put a hand on my shoulder. “It'll be okay. I'm here with
I would be okay. I planned on being more than okay. Part of me
pitied the first person that we came across that would benefit from our
particular attentions, but that was a very small part. Anyone who would
assault another deserved no mercy and they would get none from me.
Any compunction I might've had was long gone.


You can purchase Fragile Bones on Amazon in paper or for your Kindle here:
or in any other ebook format on Smashwords:
Use coupon code VD36L for 35% off good through Dec. 26, 2011 on Smashwords.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Real life conversation; fictional dialogue

For some reason a recent conversation popped in my head this morning. It's a bit of dialogue that would be great in a book. Since I don't write that genre, I decided to fictionalize it in miniature:

"Tom and Janet are getting a divorce." My husband sipped his coffee, peering at me over the rim of his over-sized mug.

I looked up from pouring my own cup of joe. "Really! What happened?"

"She said she wasn't happy."

"That's a stupid reason," I said, going back to pouring and dumping creamer and tearing sweetener packets. "No one's happy all the time. What does she expect?"

My spouse of 21 long years bit into his morning toast, trying to hide a smirk.

"I saw that." I fake glowered at him. "Anyway, just because she's not going around singing The Hills are Alive every day is no reason for a divorce."

"I don't know."

"God knows I'm not happy every day," I continued.

"That makes two of us."

I wrinkled my nose and stuck my tongue out.

It was always that way with us. No, we weren't happy all the time, but we had our snarky sense of humor towards life and each other to carry us forward. Perhaps somewhere along the line, Janet had lost her ability to poke fun and merely misnamed it happiness. Which seemed to me all the more tragic.

Names were changed, etc. :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Marketing - OSFA?

I think about the only time I don't like the fact I'm so backwards is when it comes to marketing my stuff... marketing myself.  I'm backwards and awkward and have issues from my deep past that keep my self-esteem lower than where I tread most days.  This serves me well when creating, but not so much for putting myself out there with all the enthusiasm of a courting peacock.

And it doesn't matter how many times I hear that I'm "brilliant" (biased husband), "compelling" or a "great story teller"; even if I believed it, none of that matters because I can't market myself.  And that's besides the fact that I'm not one of these super prolific writers that are always on top of their game.  (Even if they're not, it sure seems that way -- good marketing!! and constantly producing new content.)

I've thought for a long time that I'll have to die first in order to be recognized, probably not even then.  It's sad and pathetic, I know.  I'm nothing if not hyper-self-aware. 

So what can I do about my situation? 

I could "get over myself".  Sage advise, but sorely lacking in any help with how that's accomplished.  I could "buck up and do it anyway".  That's something I try to do, but afterwards I require half a bottle of ibuprofen and a shot of whiskey*.  I could Network.  I try that also, but it's difficult and painful at times for this socially awkward introvert.  I do love people, but it's very hard for me to truly open up which is exacerbated in crowds/groups.  Notice, however, I'm just fine talking to myself on blogs and SNS like twitter. heh

Thing is.  I don't have the answers.  Marketing, like writing... like art, can follow a formula, but sometimes the formula doesn't fit the individual.  Like those "one size fits all" pants that you know darn good and well don't fit everyone... I've never been able to squeeze my ample curves into a pair.  That's how I feel about marketing - trying to fit my overly womanly shape into a pair of OSFA pants.  Yet.  Yet, I keep trying because there doesn't seem to be any other garments available and it sure beats running around in your undies.  Though at times I feel like it sure would be liberating to do so!

What do you think?  How does marketing yourself and your art/writing jive with your style... do you do the squiggle dance to fit the clothes, do you rip the seams to make them fit you or do you flip off the system and go forward in undies?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

*a slight exaggeration... I don't really consume alcohol in any measurable quantity.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New cover... new life!

After hours of time, painful hand cramps, computer blurred eyes and a sore butt, I'm proud to present the new cover for The Summer of the Frogs:

Friday, July 22, 2011

More on Covers... the Concept

On talking about how important covers are, I've been wanting to redo the cover for The Summer of the Frogs for some time.  I believe the cover is affecting my sales or lackthereof.  It's a good story; it deserves a good cover that will draw people in.

After mentally going through several concepts, I went to sleep with an idea floating around in my head.  Upon waking, I still liked the idea, so went forward with nailing the concept down.

Right now, it's in the sketched concept stage with a generic font slapped on.

But before I go forward with the hours and hours of tedious coloring, I'd like to get some feedback.

Let me know what you think of this concept.  I'd deeply appreciate it!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The kajal project- almond kohl eyeliner

This post is inspired by a couple of amazing people over on the Possets perfume forum.  :)

 Here's what you'll need to start:

two pop cans filled about halfway with water for stability
an old pan lid
a meat fork
a barbeque lighter
aluminum foil
raw almonds
not shown - olive oil and metal spatula

Lightly coat the underside of your old pan lid with olive oil, set the lid across the pop cans.  Carefully stick two almonds on the meat fork prongs and light them with the bbq lighter.  It may take about a minute for the almonds to catch on fire.  When they do, hold the flaming almonds under the pan lid approximately 1inch to 2inches from the lid.  Hold until the almonds burn themselves out.  This may take any where from three to five minutes.

 After burning six almonds, your lid should look like this.

Use the spatula to scrape the soot.  After one scrape, you can see, there is a considerable amount of soot collected.

Continue scraping the soot, then tap it out onto a sheet of aluminum foil.

Pour the collected soot into a small container.  This is two batches of six almonds each batch.

The burnt remains of twelve almonds.  Those are going on our compost pile for the garden.  :)

To apply:  dip a rounded toothpick in olive, coconut or almond oil.  Then twirl the lightly oiled tip in the soot.  Tap off excess.  Use the side of the toothpick to line your eyes!

There is a learning curve to applying this amazingly black eyeliner, but a little practice is worth the effort.  Good luck!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Work Area

In response to Dawn Alexander's blog, Writer in Waiting, I'm posting a couple photos of my work area.

Situated between the family room and the kitchen is an area I term the "office".  It's not a room by itself, but the other half of the family room.  In it is three desks, three bookshelves and a chair.  It's an awkward sort of walk thru space, but it serves as the center hub.

I eat at my desk.  I draw at my desk.  I write here and of course I surf the internet.

The wall above holds a lot of my sketches, photos, stickers, pins, ribbons, postcards, my kids's drawings and general memorablia that is my life.  It changes over time, so I usually take a photo of my work area about once a year.  This was taken back in Feb. and there are already a couple changes. :)

A lot of writers I know have a faithful companion.  I have several, but Fox, a silver Egyptian Mau, is my special buddy.

Here, Fox is sporting a cuff bracelet of aluminum foil made by my youngest son.  Foxy kept it on for quite a long time before I took it off.

Thank you to Dawn for sharing her work space and four footed helper and inspiring others to share theirs!

In that spirit, leave a comment or post a link about your work space; I'd love to hear about/see where you get your best work done.  :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I'm spewing ideas I'm so full of them.... Not so much.

I was on the phone with my mom for a couple hours this afternoon. I hadn't talked to her in a little while so that was good. I wanted to go visit her tomorrow, but she had already made plans. :( We live a 1/2 hour apart, but that's still too much drive for me most days. ~sigh~

Anyway, I was telling her that I read a blog today where someone said (paraphrased) that a writer who doesn't have a butt ton of ideas or runs out of ideas wasn't a real writer. Wha-? I consider myself a "real" writer, an author even, and I can tell you that I'm not exploding with ideas.  In fact, I'm lucky to have one idea at any given time.  An idea, to me, means something that is worth the time to flesh out into a novel.

Sure, I might have fleeting thoughts that pass through my mind.  Some of them even grow into ideas over time.  As frustrating for me as that lack is, just because I'm not near bursting, and bemoaning having to choose from all these myriad of ideas, doesn't make me any less of an author than someone who can fill dozens of idea notebooks and churn out ten novels a year.

I tried not to be offended at such an egotistical, offhanded remark, but a part of me is still stewing.  And admittedly a little jealous.  However, I also realize we're all different.  We operate differently; from pantsers to plotters.  From prolific to sparse.  From short stories to massive epics.  You get my point.

We're all writers.  I hope we can remember that just because we do something differently doesn't make our method any more or less right.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Cover Conundrum

After talking about the cover of Fragile Bones with a friend, he confirmed that the cover I had designed a few months ago just didn't convey the feel of the story.  So when he suggested I put a drawing I had intended for the interior on the cover, I bulked a little.  I felt like my artwork wasn't up to the level I thought it should be for a cover.  I mean, the cover is a huge deal!  It's the first thing someone sees when they look at your novel.  It has to be unique, intriguing and suggest what the pages hold.  I knew that the first cover design didn't really do all those things, but I was at a place where that was my only option.  Only after listening and finally giving in to the idea that maybe... just maybe that sketch would work on the cover, did I go for it.

Since I already had the basic design that I wanted in place, it was only a matter of switching the pictures out and 'drawing' a back cover fill pattern with the same medium I used on the sketch. (that was my husband's idea)  Once it was all together, I knew that my friend was right.  This new cover is The One.

I'm very pleased to present the official cover for Fragile Bones:

Release date is coming soon; be on the look out and don't miss the chance to be one of the first to read this dark, gay fiction title!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Winter of the Birds excerpt

For those of you who've read The Summer of the Frogs, this excerpt might be of particular interest.  For those of you who haven't... get thee a copy and read it.  ;-)

I wasn't expecting Stian to show up in my room. Andy. Tommy. Miss Kitty. A random traveler who took the wrong doorway, sure. But not Stian.

I looked up at him expectantly.

What are you up to?” he asked.

Writing in my journal.”

May I sit?”

I waved over to my bed. I was too comfortable in my chair to get up. He sat awkwardly on the edge and looked around my room. I went back to writing. He fidgeted for a moment before he stood up again and wandered over to my book shelf. He picked up a piece of foam and chuckled.

I looked over my shoulder at what had caught his attention.

You still have this?” he asked.

Sure, why not?”

I remember the set this came from.”

I don't.”

Well, that's hardly surprising, even if you didn't have amnesia.” He put the foam back in its place on my shelf.

I get the feeling you aren't here to look at my stuff,” I said.

He exhaled. “No. No, I came here to talk to you about something.” He walked back around my chair to return to his tense perch on my bed.

You probably don't remember, but I told you about when I was in my coma?”

Stian." I shut my journal.  "I found my stuff. Things are starting to come back to me.”

I see.”

What I can't remember for myself, I know from reading my past journals.” I put my chin on my hand and looked at him pointedly. “Are things beginning to come back for you also?”

The dreams. The dreams I told you about before are becoming more vivid, more real. Some times I'll catch things out of the corner of my eye. I just thought if I talked to you....” He trailed off.

You want to make sure the crazy isn't contagious or something?” I frowned at him.

No! Of course not! But you know things. You were the one who found me, right? I thought you could tell me what really happened.”

I lifted my eyebrows and considered him for long moments. He was so tightly wound, I thought he'd pop a vein before long.

What are you prepared to believe?” I asked him.

What do you mean?”

Maybe you should just read about it. I'm surprised you haven't already.”

He bristled. “Don't insult me. Whatever you write down is your business.”

I backed down. “I think if you read it all from the beginning, you would have a better grasp on things. But only if you're ready to open yourself to possibilities. Otherwise, don't bother and don't ask me questions.”

You're serious, aren't you?”

Why wouldn't I be?”

Are you back on your meds?”

Stian, get out,” I sighed. I flipped my notebook back open to the page I was working on and went back to documenting my hum-drum life.

I heard my bed springs squeak.  I could feel his gaze as he stood there. I ignored him for a moment to finish a sentence.

I looked up at him. “I want to help you, Stian, but you have to be open to what I'll say. You have no idea what's out there.”

Okay” was all he said before he walked out.

I shook my head. I felt for my brother. I knew what he was going through. The paranoia, the insomnia, the itch that couldn't be scratched, the idea there really was something out there just outside our senses, yet teasing the edges of them. He'd be back when the shadows became shapes and the shapes moved about on their own right in front of him.

I set my pen down and stared at nothing. Why had they even taken Stian in the first place. And where? Had he been poisoned too? Didn't they know our frail human bodies weren't able to absorb and pass it? I rubbed my forehead. They wanted to be rid of me so badly, but they, in their short-sightedness, had created two of us. If they did inject him, which seemed to be the case, I hoped it was in very small doses. Unlike me who had taken an entire venom sack in one shot.

The Summer of the Frogs is a five star reviewed book on Amazon and you can get 39% off  over on Smashwords, just enter coupon code HW88S at checkout. Offer good thru July 13.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fragile Bones/The Summer of the Frogs crossover ficlet

While I wait for Fragile Bones to be betaed and for Claire to speak to me again so that I can finish The Winter of the Birds, I amused myself with this little crossover short.  Both those stories are in first person, but for this I switched to third limited.  I may continue with a couple/few more scenes of all four, but for now it is what it is.  :)


“The activity here is off the fucking charts.” Nathan lit a cigarette. He and Michael walked through the cloud of smoke like two devils emerging from hell.

“There's something or someone drawing them. If we can locate the reason for this cross road, that will make our job easier.”

“I don't give a shit why they're here, I'm just happy to take them out.”

“I know you like getting your hands dirty, but don't look so pleased with yourself.”

Nathan grinned. He couldn't help it. When the definition of their mission changed, it was as if a heavy burden lifted off his shoulders. It wasn't really murder if they killed non-humans, was it? So what if the blood wasn't red. The heat when it touched his skin was just as hot. Guilt-free killing. He licked his lips.

“Don't do that again.”

Nathan sucked in smoke and blew it back out in a huff. “Do what?” His eyes creased and a half-smile danced across his lips, though he tried to feign innocence.  A feat made more difficult when Michael turned his piercing gaze on him.

They patrolled the low rent side of town where most of the anomalies were localized. Row houses on one side of the street and businesses on the other. A sort of barrier between the derelict buildings and their ran down inhabitants and the more acceptable outer skirts of city limits.

Michael stopped.

“What is it?”

The older man pointed three houses down from where they stood. “See that?”

Nathan looked to where he was pointing. A girl with wildly frizzy auburn hair sat on the steps in front of a tidy three story. She stroked a calico cat perched on her lap while talking to a man sitting beside her.

Nathan looked harder. “Is that what I think it is?”

“It looks like it.”

“But the girl. Is she speaking to it or the cat?”

“Let's find out.” Michael started forward again. “Keep walking and don't look.”

Nathan nodded.

“And then the leaves danced and laughed as the wind sang a merry tune.” The girl chatted happily to either the cat or the thing at her side.

Michael met Nathan's eyes as they strolled by.

“So you stayed the entire afternoon in the woods without telling me where you were?”

“Tommy, you know I'm perfectly safe. They'll protect me. Isn't that right, Miss Kitty?”

The calico chirred in affirmation and the girl laughed. Nathan stopped at the sound. Her laugh a delightful tinkling of delicate glass wind chimes in the easy breeze of a late summer afternoon. Her brilliant smile sent a jolt into his heart. He stumbled at the unbidden memories.

Michael caught him easily before Nathan fell.

“Are you okay?” the girl asked.

“He'll be fine,” Michael said, supporting his partner.

“He looks tired. Would you like some water?”

“Claire, he said he was fine. Let them go on their way.”

Michael's eyes narrowed. “It's as he says.”

“You can see Tommy? Aren't you from this dimension?”

“What the hell kind of fucking question is that,” Nathan muttered, yanking his arm from Michael's grip.

“Watch your language, kid.” Tommy started to stand, but the girl placed her hand on his arm and he remained seated.

“It's okay, Tommy. It's not like Stian never said such things. Besides, even if they're not spoken aloud, I can still hear them.”

Michael glared at Tommy, while the dark man stared daggers at Nathan, who only had eyes for the soft spoken girl with fiery hair and unaffected smile.

Nathan broke the circular staring contest. “We're travelers. However, it looks like we'll be sticking around for some time on business.”

“I see,” Claire said. “I don't mean to, but I can see that your job is unpleasant. If I may make a request? Please go away.”

“That's impossible. We must carry out our purpose.”

The shadowy man leaned toward the girl and whispered. His pale face darkening with anger as she shook her head. Claire scowled at him in return and jabbed a finger at first Michael then Nathan. “They're here to kill you!” she accused. “Aren't you?”

“That thing you're talking to so has no right to be here. It must be exterminated.” Nathan flicked his cigarette away. “We were led here for that purpose and we will carry it out. Him and all his disgusting ilk.”

“Tommy isn't a thing. He's my friend. Don't you dare lay one finger on him.”

Nathan drew back at her passionate defense of the creature who looked ready to rend him limb from limb. Didn't she know how dangerous these monsters were?

“I'm well aware that some of them are very dangerous. But even nit wits like you should know that most of them aren't. You have no right to murder them.”

She had locked eyes with Nathan as she spoke. His knees gave way and he hit the cement hard enough to clack his teeth.

“Let him go, girl,” Michael demanded. He sat on his heels holding the younger man upright.

Claire turned her intense gaze on the older stranger and recoiled. “Who are you?” She cowered in the arms of the black haired demon beside her.

“The same could be asked of you.”

“I'm just a girl,” Claire said, peeking over Tommy's arm. “I'm nothing... no one important. Just leave us alone.”

Michael gave her a sharp look and helped Nathan stand. “Just stay out of our way,” Michael said as they walked past.


“Can you fucking believe those two? Who do they think they are anyway?” Nathan gulped down his fourth scotch and soda. The lingering feel of that girl stalking around his insides still made him edgy. It hadn't been a completely unpleasant sensation; more like being tickled on the underside of one's skin. It was the complete and utter exposure that made him sick. Bad enough Michael knew all his dark and dirty little secrets, but now so did some strange girl.

“That young woman is one of probably only two hundred people that can truly see. And the first of whom I've met that can traverse not only beyond, but into as well.”

“I still got the chills.” Nathan swirled the ice cubes in his glass. “She knows. She knows about me.”

“If I would've known of her abilities, I could've warned you not to make eye contact with her. I'm sorry.”

Nathan looked up at his partner across the wobbly table. The cheap hotel room smelled like sex, alcohol and stale cigarettes. Scents to which they added yet another layer. The yellow light from the twin wall lamps coated the interior with an almost slimy appearance, which didn't help the fact that Nathan could almost see the greasy dirt coating every surface. He wrinkled his nose in spite of the fact they'd stayed in far worse in the past.

“She gives me the creeps.” Nathan shuddered for the hundredth time. “She's all sweet and cheery, then she went all psycho. What's with her and that thing?”

“If I had to guess, I'd say they were lovers.”

“The creepy level just jumped ten notches.” Nathan crunched an ice cube. “You really think so? I thought all those monsters ate people.”

“Normally, his kind would drain the spiritual energy from his victims then leave. They usually never stay on this plane for very long as the noise is too loud for them.”

“So I wonder why he's any different.”

“That's what I want to know.”

Michael poured Nathan another drink while the younger man lit a cigarette. Slumped in the chair, Nathan watched the smoke hover in the stale, unmoving air. “Are we going out tonight?”

“Probably not.”

“Are you going to take care of me then?” Nathan squinted through the thick cloud.

Michael lifted an eyebrow, but remained silent.

Nathan took the drink pushed toward him. “You're trying to get me drunk, aren't you?”

“Are you complaining?”

Nathan grinned. “Not at all.”

Monday, May 30, 2011

When the monster comes...

Last week, depression reared its ugly head and grabbed me firmly by the throat.  Having no will to fight, I let it whisper in my ear those seductive words that the hidden parts of me believes.

"Your writing is for shit."
"You don't have any friends because you're unlikeable."
"Why do you even try, no one cares about what you're doing."
"Give up. No one is ever going to read your crap."

You get the idea.  It goes on and on like this.  And it's very easy to let it sink into your heart when you spend hours at the keyboard alone.  It's easy to to let it become a part of you when you really don't have any friends because you've isolated yourself so thoroughly in pursuit of your writing dream.

It's understandable.  I don't leave the house much.  I spend a lot of time doing the actual work involved with the act of writing (and editing) instead of trying to make friends or join peer groups.  It's a painful activity for me anyway -- being social.  So I've placed myself in that isolated prison of my own volition.

As for my writing being crap.  I figure every writer goes through this.  If they don't, they must have egos the size of Jupiter.  I think it's one of those pendulum swing things.  One time we all think our writing is awesome and we get feedback in support of those thoughts.  Most of the time we think we're pretty okay writers.  Then occasionally we think our writing is the worst thing ever put to paper.  Even though we have proof to the contrary.  We push through when the bad thoughts come.  We can't stop.  No matter what.

About no one ever reading our stuff.  I think that's the most difficult to fight off.  Especially for me.  I hate promoting.  I detest spamming.  A continuous stream of "buy my book!" "read my book!" gets on my nerves and I sure as hell am not going to submit others to it.  I don't mind 'talking' about my process and what I'm doing and every now and again mentioning that I have a book, (in case anyone forgot. heh).  I think I just haven't found that balance.  Promoting has always been, and probably will continue to be, my downfall.  Even back when I was an artist, pimping my work was sheer torture.  Yes, no one is ever going to read my book/s, because I don't promote to the nines.

However, I still refuse to give up.  So what if only 50 people ever read my work.  I should feel so lucky that perhaps, just maybe, I've enriched those 50 lives in some way.  And those 50 people got the rarest of opportunities to glimpse inside my soul.  For I do put my heart and soul into what I write.  Some stories more than others, but all have at least a kernel of me hidden in the words so brazenly printed across the pages.

It's funny that for someone so painfully shy, I'm willing to do that.  And I know in my heart, in spite of the depression monster that ever lurks in the shadows, that all the best writers do.  And we all press onward.  We cry ourselves out, believing, for a moment, all those insidious words, then we pick ourselves up and move forward.  Because we're writers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Excellence takes effort

Today, it's easy to publish a book.  All you have to do is pound out a few ten thousand words and slap it up on publishing sites like CreateSpace, Lulu or Smashwords and you're a published author.  Piece of cake!


The mechanics may be easy, (if you can call writing a 50 to 100k manuscript easy), but what many aspiring writers don't realize (or don't want to realize) is that writing is only the first step.  And what follows tests even the most dedicated writer's patience.

Cuts, edits and rewrites.

There are no shortcuts.  If you want to put out quality work, these are necessary.  No one's first draft is perfect; no matter what they think.  Ego must go.  Even the cleanest draft can be improved.  We're shooting for excellence here.  When I was in my early twenties, I heard a phrase that has really stuck with me through the years:

"Good isn't good enough if better is available."

My first novel, The Summer of the Frogs, was written during NaNoWriMo 2008.  I didn't publish it until 2010.  I let it rest for almost a year before I even looked at it again, then spent nearly a year polishing it up.  My husband can testify how I moaned and groaned about reading through it yet again.  I damn near could've spoken it verbatim.  By the time it was said and done, I was so sick of it, I wanted to tear it up and throw it in the trash.  And that was just my part.  I also had beta readers.  People who took their time to go through it, caught the errors I continually missed.  (It's funny how the eye slides right over what should be glaring mistakes.)  They questioned turns of phrase, plot points and character elements until my poor manuscript was mostly red ink.

And even after all that, I went over it three more times.  Start to finish.  Analyzing each sentence as if it might carry the plague.

Sure, writing and publishing a novel is easy... if you don't care enough to put in the hard work it takes to make it worth reading.  And if it's not worth reading, why even bother at all.  Excellence takes effort.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother, may I?

Yesterday was Mother's Day.  I didn't get a chance to visit my mom, who lives about 1/2 hour away, because I was 2 hours north retrieving most of my daughter's things from college.  She will follow with the rest of her stuff next Sunday.

I did call my mom when we got back home and we talked mostly of writing stuff.  She had went through and formatted The Summer of the Frogs for me to (hopefully) go through the Smashwords meat grinder for ebook distribution.  Since publishing has been her work for more years than I can remember, she is much more familiar with the lingo used in the Smashwords tutorial than I am.  Especially more difficult since I don't have Word.  Yet.  I really want to learn how to do these things for myself at some point.  I'm a big girl now, I can't keep leaning on Mom.

After I hung up with her, though, I was thinking about the week ahead and about what sorts of things I wanted to talk about for this blog and things got mushed up in my brain.

I got to thinking about the role of Mom in fiction.

In The Summer of the Frogs, the main character's mom plays an integral role in her life.  Since she lives at home with her mother, it's obvious Mom would be there.  Mom in TSotF does the best she can with her daughter who she perceives as being extremely mentally ill.  (whether she actually is or not is up to the reader.)  Oftentimes, she pulls back away from her daughter, because she is so overwhelmed.  The main character, wrapped up in her world, can't really understand where her mom is coming from and believes that she would be happier without her.  Toward the end and into the upcoming sequel (The Winter of the Birds) they have a little better relationship, even if they still can't really understand where the other is coming from.

In my other WIP, Fragile Bones, the main character doesn't have a family.  Both his parents died when he was very young, so he is lacking the support, love and nurturing of a mom.  And with his particular set of challenges, the loss of Mom is especially tragic.  Mom's influence on him is in her glaring absence.

Even though the Mom doesn't show herself personally in all my writing, she must always be there.  For all characters -- main, secondary and tertiary -- had mothers, even if just for their birth.  How must this influence their personality and character?  Whether a key player or not, Moms hold such a powerful influence over the lives of the characters we create.

What role does Mom play in your story?

Note:  my mom is a wonderful, beautiful person.  I am very fortunate to have such a mother.  She's supportive in everything I've every set my mind to, even if it's peculiar.  Any Mom I could ever write in a story would always pale in comparison to my mom, so I don't even try.  The Mom in my fiction is always a complete fabrication.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Five Senses

I had the good fortune to work with a fabulous editor during the prep period for my short homoerotic story, Half of Me (written under my pen name).  I'd never had that experience before and I gained so much insight from her years in the field.  You just can't buy that kind of learning; so I made sure she knew how deeply appreciative I was for her time investment in me.

One of the things she talked about was enriching a scene with the five senses.  We all know them:  sight, sound, taste, touch, smell.  I had only really thought about sight... what is my MC seeing?  Not really giving the other senses much page time.

Sound and smell are particularly easy to liven up drab blocks of text.  Are there birds chirping?  A garbage truck rumbling by?  The irritating creak of a shoddy ceiling fan?  Is the neighbor baking apple pies?  What about the nasty stench of the garbage truck that just went by?  The signature scent of an embraced lover?

Taste and touch aren't used as much unless the MC is constantly stuffing his/her face and/or has a tactile fetish, but they can definitely add that extra layer to the story.

How do you use the five senses to make your story come alive?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Novel Soundtrack

This morning, I tweeted that I had finished watching an anime on Netflix and how it moved me often to tears.  I felt for the characters very much.  However, I posited that perhaps the music played an integral part in my emotion reactions. 

Music has always had a profound affect on me, even as a child.  Once a month, in the small town where I was born and raised, they had community concerts.  Talented people would come in from all over the country, (sometimes even the world), to play or sing various instruments in a multitude of styles.  Mom bought season tickets every year, so once a month we would go watch and listen.  The heartbreaking sounds of stringed instruments especially brought me to tears.  I would grit my teeth and pinch my skin to stave off the sting in my eyes; it embarrassed me to be moved just by music.  No one I knew of cried from listening.

Even now, I feel it deeply.  Music seems to sink into my skin and yank on my heart and the tears spill.  And I'm still somewhat embarrassed by that.  I don't know of anyone else so affected by music; I've never asked.. it seems too personal a question.

What's this post have to do with writing?

Well.  It has everything to do with writing.  I lovely gal I met on Twitter replied to my tweet that she wished for a soundtrack, like a movie score, for her novel.  Wouldn't that be fantastic?  Like those cards that play music when you open them, only for books.  Each section of your book plays a soft, non-intrusive tune.  As the pages are turned the music shifts.  Or maybe there could be an app created for ebooks so that the music is played seamlessly into the ereader.  I think if someone savvy could invent something like that, it would be very cool.

Right now, though, we have no music to help carry the mood of the story or express the feelings of the characters.  All we have are our words.  The characters must sing; we must feel their pain, their happiness, their fears and their triumphs or else it's all just words on the page.

What would your novel's soundtrack sound like?

Monday, February 14, 2011

What about love?

Ah! Today is the day of L'Amour!  Everyone on the planet knows what it is to love, even if the expression of such varies.  Love is such a powerful emotion it's no wonder it finds its way, in one form or another, into most literature.  My own writing is no exception.

While I like to explore at times those darker places in the human experience, love always seems to sneak in.  Love is often the one thing that topples those last vestiges of the Monster that lives within.  Love breaks the bonds, tears down the walls, overcomes bleak night.  Love bridges the gap, cherishes the unlovable, repairs the broken.

Is it any wonder our fascination with that emotional connection between each other?  Even within the blackest heart dwells the speck that yearns to be loved, wishes to love in return; twisted as it becomes, it's there.  These ideas motivate a lot of my writing.  I enjoy exploring the journey between evil and goodness -- the way paved by a profound love.

Even in my erotic writing, though lust plays a major role, the foundation is love springing from a deep passion between the characters.  The one night stand is hot, but a blossoming, tumultuous relationship springing out of that encounter is hotter.  It lingers like the scent of a lover; it sinks into the skin.

How does love play a part in your writing?  What aspects of love do you like to explore?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Untitled vignette

I woke to a distant pounding that hammered a false tempo in my veins, throbbing painfully.  I grabbed my head and groaned deep in my chest.  Brian was there, smoothing my hair and cooing softly that it would be alright.  I lashed out, landing an open hand across his pale cheek.  He pulled back and cradled the red swatch growing across his face.  I glanced from the corner of my eye and felt nothing.  Even if I wanted to feel something, I couldn't.

I stood, taking no notice of my nudity, nor taking any steps to remedy that state.  I strode with surety of step across the expanse of our room to the bathroom.  Brian stirred, finally, from our bed and pulled on a pair of worn out blue jeans followed by a thin red tee shirt.  In the mirror, I noticed the singular beauty of his body as he moved with thoughtless grace around the bed to join me in the bathroom.  He blotted at the blood that dribbled from his nose; attempting to make himself as presentable as possible to my critical eyes.

I admired his sheer force of will to endure what hardships I burdened him.  Of anything that could draw my admiration, that was one.  Strength.  Mental strength.  Physical strength.  The display of such things, even in supplication.  Strength to endure.

I dressed.  I ate.  I glared at Brian and left.  Left him to rot in our home, to do whatever he pleased while I was gone.  Idly, I would plot what things I would do to him if work didn't slake my thirst for the brutal.  Good for Brian that it often did.

I courted the men that called to my office, luring them with my soulless smile, drawing them near with the subtle hint at power and then tore them, chewed them up and spit out the fatty remains.  The corpses that stumbled back out my door were dread to behold.  The pleasure of watching them filled me such that I could near burst with it.  The joy of destruction made my heart soft enough to beat restlessly in my chest.

Gorged on the gore of ambitious men, I would saunter back home and wish for those things that shifted and flowed in my memories, those things I could never have.  Never own.  Those fleeting lost emotions that flitted just out of my reach.  All that I had lost represented by that lingering ghost called Brian, who clung in spite of everything.

I smashed through the front door of my straightened home, Brian's handiwork, to find all laid before me.  Anything that might appeal to me.  Calm me after the fullness of the day had drained away and left me pulsing for more to fill the emptiness.

I ate.  I worked on what stuff that I brought home from the office, filling my eyes and head with numbers and words harsh on the too bright screen.  The work that I detested, yet needed doing.  The work that needed doing and filled me with rage upon completion.  I drank; filling my belly with the burn of alcohol until I felt stronger than Atlas.

Brian, like an apparition, constant in the back ground.  Not hovering, but always there.  If I turned my head just so, his shadow would stretch across the floor and flicker away before I could completed the turn.  He hid until I called for him.  And he would come.  Submissive.  Passive with those pitying eyes and hopeful gaze that would eat away at my flesh.  Not speaking with words.  A look.  A gesture.  A simple turning of his body, he spoke loudly to my soul.  Beckoning me to come and sleep next to him.  His warmth was my warmth.  I hated him if I could hate.  I loved him if I could love.  I savaged him brutally at any opportunity and he offered himself up to my appetites most taboo.

I, deaf to his pleading.  Was he crying out to me or because of me?  Could I rouse myself to care about either one?  I had lost myself many years ago.  And there Brian remained to remind me constantly.  Steadfast by my side, tethered there by some sort of guilt at my corruption.  Vain of him to think he was the cause of it and not some coincidental and innocent bystander in whatever course had placed us upon our path.  In the circle of never ending loathing and self-loathing and addiction to each other.

His need of punishment for self-imposed guilt.  My need to inflict punishment to ease my desire for what had become forever unattainable; my inability to understand what exactly it was I had lost.  The monster I had become, the empty skin of a man; dead and rotten on the inside.

Brian, once beloved.  Cherished beyond anything, dwindled to the shadow of a man.  Still beautiful; ethereal.  Like a horrible angel set to watch and note my further descent into hell.  The fall that had beckoned me, seducing me with the soft glow of a warm fire.  Willingly I had went.  Against Brian's sorrowful protestations.  He followed me.  And I gleefully damned us both.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The end - when to say when

For years now I've held this theory that any good series of novels should never go beyond five books.  As with any rule, there are always exceptions, but from my personal experience, the five book rule is a good guideline.

Think of it this way.  Have you ever fallen in love with a television series?  A classic might be Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  This popular show ran for seven seasons.  Like many, I watched every week.  For me, though, the show started it's slow decline after season five.  Do you get the connection?  Instead of ending and leaving watchers wanting more, the show fades away.  Now think of shows like Farscape or the original Star Trek.  Those shows had runs of four seasons, left people wanting more and have a significant cult following.

See what I mean?  Think of each novel in your series as a season of your favorite television serial.  Are you going to end on a high leaving your readers wishing for more?  Or are you going to milk your success for all it's worth until the plot and characters are so worn out that your readers don't even bother any more?  Remember, in an era of instant access, many people just don't have patience and become bored very quickly.

In junior high school, I found the Xanth series of books by Piers Anthony.  I thought they were the greatest thing ever.  I bought the next one and the next one and the next until book 12; I got bored and never bought another.  According to Wikipedia, he's working on the 36th.  Frankly, I'm amazed there are still enough readers to warrant continuing!

My mom likes to read murder mysteries.  Those tend to go on well past what is, in my opinion, their freshness date also.  I understand we get attached to characters, as both readers and writers, but there is something to be said about the thrill of finding a new love; saying a sweet goodbye to the old.

As I mentioned above, there will always be exceptions.  Series that are still fresh and exciting well past book (or season) five.  But I maintain that anything much past the five mark is running a risk of losing that spark and losing readers/viewers.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What "prompts" you?

Sometimes I sit down at my keyboard and wonder what the heck I'm going to write about.  This seems to happen to a lot of writers as there are a plethora of writing prompt sites across the internet.  Anything from plot and character prompts to three word prompts to photo prompts.  I've used prompt sites in the past when struggling during NaNoWriMo.  Desperate to use any tool to get that flow of words going again.  One year, I used song lyrics to prompt me on my month long journey.  A lot of times, as I mentioned previously, I use strong emotions to prompt a story.  Getting those feelings down on paper and developing a character out of those feelings along the way.  Very rarely, I'll remember a tidbit of a dream and those brief images prompt a story idea.

Writing prompts often serve to breathe new life into a story or get a new story idea off the ground.  What prompts you to write a story?  What tools do you use to get the story going again when you get stuck?  

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Writing a novel is answering the question:  What if?

My WIP novel, Fragile Bones, answers the questions of what if a person was born completely apathetic?  What would happen if, when that person died, they were opened up to feel the fullness of every emotion?  How would he work through the memories of his wretched life with this new awareness?  How will he answer his own questions about his purpose and the apparent meaninglessness of his life?  Will he rise above his personal tragedy or will he fall?

What questions does your novel answer?  It might seem obvious, but it's good to step back and think about the overarching point to your story.  It can be as simple as what if Jane lived on Taylor Street instead of Maple Street, but all good stories answer the first and simple question of "what if?"; otherwise, there's no point.  Even if this wasn't the initial reason for writing the story, it's still what drives the imagination of the writer to write it.

The premise is sometimes different from motivation and that's important to understand.  What may have motivated me to write a particular story is not necessarily the same as the questions the story answers.  These two things will sometimes overlap, but for me, I've found more often than not, they don't.

Usually what gets me going on a story is a particularly deep emotional reaction to something.  Sometimes a first line will just pop in my head or a bit of dialogue or a scene and I'll want to get it down.  This will often spur the question of "what if?" and I'll find the story writing itself from there in order to answer the questions.

Sometimes writing one chapter will spur more questions that feed the following chapters.  If something happens in chapter three, I'll often wonder how that is going to affect the character in chapter four?  Will chapter four's reaction come back to bite him in the ass in chapter 12?  What if something else happens in chapter seven that changes everything!?  Or why in the hell did character two say something like that?  How does that make the MC feel?

I find when I write, it becomes a series of questions and answers as I'm writing.  It's what gives me the sense of mystery and excitement as the story progresses.  That thrill is why I rarely plan out an entire story ahead of time.  I may know a few points I want to hit upon and how it all ends, (most of the time), but the middle parts are an exciting roller coaster ride for me.

Questions can lead to learning.  I find myself often researching medical issues for my writing.  Things like can a castrato get an erection?  Do they have a sex drive?  Or what are the effects of a coma on the brain?  How can it change a person's behavior or personality?  How long does it take for a certain bone to heal?

Questions can also help bust through that seemingly unbreakable wall called writer's block.  I'm way too familiar with this one.  In fact, I have a twenty foot wall to bust through right now!  To overcome that, I'll sit down and ask:  for this next chapter, "what if?".


What's ahead:
  • What "prompts" you?
  • Fragile Bones excerpt
  • Music as an emotional backdrop
  • Flash fiction