Thursday, January 29, 2009

What's Your Secret Talent?

My secret talent is that I can load a pack of Pez into the Pez dispenser in one fell swoop. All the Pez go in at one time.



C'mon and play along. You know you want to! What's your secret talent?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Big Unedited Excerpt

This is something of a big ole mess, but here's some more of Brass In Pocket. Unedited and out there. Foolish? Brave? Idiotic move? Trying something new.

Chapter 7

Sheridan lay on the uncomfortable cot with her old cowboy hat tilted over her face and her boots crossed at the ankles. One on top of the other, her hands rested on her stomach as she waited for Ethan to make an appearance.
“He’d better have a hell of a breakfast ready for me,” she grumbled under her breath.
The rustle of clean starched sheets seemed loud to her ears in the silent space as she wriggled her shoulders trying to get more comfortable. Ethan had returned with them and a pillow a few minutes after he’d locked her in last night. He wouldn’t open the cell and help her with them even though her left hand was pretty much useless from the way she’d gotten it jammed last night. Smart man. She had been madder than hell and probably would have done him physical harm if he had gotten within striking distance. She’d struggled and done her best to cover the dingy mattress with what he’d brought, cursing him only as a good Texas girl could the entire time.
There had been a lot of time/hours to think last night as she lay on the cot, once she’d calmed down some. Normally when she’d return to the motel after her Friday night hustle, she would’ve gotten her trusty map out and seen where she’d be going next. It was always better to know beforehand where you were headed just in case you had to make a hasty getaway. Old Jim Walker had taught her that.
“Girl, you can gamble on human nature, and play the odds, but you can’t come to rely on them. People nine times out of ten will do it the same way, but sometimes it falls to pieces around your ears. You always gots to have a way out.” She could still hear his gravelly voice that had been ravaged by years of smoking his filterless cigarettes echoing in her head.
But last night she hadn’t had the option to plan. All she’d had was a lot of endless hours in her head. Time to think about her life and where it was or was not going. Not something that she could usually afford to take the time to do. Not really something she cared all that much about doing.
She was always too busy out thinking and out maneuvering, staying one step ahead of her opponents. Constantly calculating and measuring just how far she could go, just how much she could lose, just how much she could go without and still stay alive. It’s what she’d done her entire life. The effort and strain of day to day living with no real thoughts for the future and no one to turn to for help had worn her down like a nubbly old pencil that had been sharpened too many times.
But last night she couldn’t help but consider her options. She forced herself to be honest. To take a good long hard look at her life, and she didn’t like what she saw. She was running scared from her own life. She could call it other things, put a different spin on it like “traveling” or “seeing America”, but the cold hard facts of it were that she had no formal education, no friends, no family, no savings, and no hope. Just existence day to day. Running from what she had long ago labeled girlish fantasies.
Sheridan worked hard to squelch all thoughts of finding someone to love who would actually love her back. Ruthlessly crushing ideas of starting a family of her own. She figured life would be easier if she did, but she could never fully destroy those secret dreams she so desperately desired. Deep down she craved for love and marriage and children. Children who she could show what it was supposed to be like. What she’d never had. Parents who loved them, who would never leave them, who would always stick by them and who would support them with whatever they wanted to do.
Sheridan had also examined the two half-hearted attempts she’d made in the past to attain those childish dreams. The two men she had started to let in past her walls had clumsily battered her fragile heart, and she’d never bothered to try again.
But Ethan. He had walked right through her defenses as if they weren’t even there. Her walls crumbled around her, and she felt naked and exposed and completely unsure of herself. Not a good position to be in in her line of work. All night she had tentatively shored up her walls so she didn’t feel so vulnerable, but all the while that faint glimmer of hope that refused to be stamped out of her soul quietly asked very annoying questions in the back of her mind as she prepared herself to close Ethan out. What if he truly does care like he said he did? Why would he say he wanted to protect you if he really didn’t? Why did he kiss you so long and hard?
Oh, her mind had some very bitter answers to that little voice that wanted her heart to be put in jeopardy again. Who has ever cared for you in your entire life? It’s his job to protect people. Oh, I don’t know, maybe because he just wants to get into your pants? He is a man after all.
But the last question that annoying little ray of sunshine brought up that she had no smart comeback for disturbed her the most. But why did he tell you about his father being killed?
Sheridan had no answer for that and it niggled and niggled in her brain like a worm on a hook until she couldn’t think straight anymore and had finally succumbed to exhaustion.
Now she waited, with her wobbly walls of protection back up around her heart and a swollen wrist that would keep her from working for at least a few days. She sighed again as she waited for the man who was rapidly becoming important to her to show his lousy face. Snorting at her bad humor, she readjusted her hat to cover her face more fully and went back to bolstering the defenses that had worked so well in the past to keep her heart intact.

*

Sitting forward in his chair, Ethan studied her intently on the black and white surveillance monitor as he had done for most of the night and all of the early morning hours.
“Never took you for a coward before, Ethan. You gonna sit there and stare at her all day, or are ya gonna take in the breakfast you got for her before it turns stone cold?”
He turned his disgruntled gaze on Henry as the grey haired officer chuckled, knowing his barb had hit the mark. The old man had been his father’s best friend and deputy for more years than Ethan had been alive. He was as close to an uncle as he’d ever had, and in the past two years he had been more like a surrogate father for which Ethan was very grateful.
“Though I don’t know if you’re being a coward or a wise man. She did lay out Earl Rantlett, for cripes sake. Whooo-eee, I wish Ida seen that!” The grizzled older man slapped his thigh and continued to chuckle.
Ethan rose and scowled down at Henry who leaned back casually with his feet propped up on the desk in the chair Sheridan had sat in last night. The memory of kissing her flooded over Ethan for the hundredth time since he’d locked her in the holding cell. He forced back the spike of lust that shot through him and averted his eyes from the far wall as he remembered how good she’d felt pressed against him and how much he’d wanted to haul her up against it and sink himself into her wet heat again and again until he lost himself in her.
He shook his head to dislodge the thoughts entrenching themselves in his mind and raked his fingers through his hair. Grabbing the take out container of food from the local diner he’d picked up and a file folder full of papers, Ethan made his way around his desk to head back to Sheridan. Time to face the music.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Are They Duldrums . . .

Or are they something else?

I can come up with conspiracy theories for most anything.

Recently, lots of writers I know have been expressing that they feel lethargic in their writing. I'm definitely there. I still want to start about six other WIP's instead of finishing the ones I've already begun. I don't have the drive to finish Shifting for the contest deadline. I haven't specifically found it in writing, but in the rules and explanations of the contest, it's strongly implied that the manuscript should be finished. I have about three or four more chapters of middle to insert, edit and polish, plus go through the ending and tweak what will then be out of alignment and have it ready by the second week of February.

Ain't gonna happen, I can tell you that much.

So why are suddenly many authors I know (including myself) not excited or impassioned about their writing right now? My first thought was aliens. Have you ever seen They Live? It was a cheap sci fi flick from the eighties starring Rowdy Roddy Piper, a professional wrestler of the day. What do you mean you must have missed that one? It is classic cinema at its best! The premise of the movie is that aliens are among us, hidden within our ranks. They are using TV and advertising to unwittingly drug us into submission while they take all the high power, high paying jobs. "Go to sleep." "Watch TV." "Relax." The subliminal propaganda works over time, until the hero uncovers some sunglasses that allow him to see the messages and the real disgusting faces of the alien interlopers. The best line is when Piper yells, "I'm here to kick ass and chew bubble gum! And I just ran out of bubble gum!" Classic writing if ever I heard any.

So I believe this is happening now. This is the real reason I'd rather surf the net than sit and apply myself. Definitely not my own fault. It's aliens come to Earth bent on world domination through couch potato-ism. And I'm more than happy to oblige them at this point.

On a totally separate note, why do some men look really good in a kilt? (mmmm men in kilts) Now there's a new idea to explore. Here comes my thirty seventh WIP that I'm going to pursue. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Annual Haircut and Tattoo Ramblings

So I know you've all been waiting with bated breath to hear the news. Last Saturday I finally got the annual haircut. Dant da da naaaaaaaa! It took an hour of my time all said and done, and I got a very nice stylist. Terry was talkative and chirpy and told me she thought I was twenty-eight or twenty-nine (which immediately tripled her tip.) She is thirty-three, which is close to my age, so it wasn't like she was some little twenty-something who doesn't know what's heading down the road towards her like a jailhouse on wheels. Which made the compliment all the better. She seemed very sincere. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

Terry had several tattoos in some interesting places. I love tattoos. I just always think myself out of getting one. Terry had an intricate weave encircling her left ring finger, shooting stars on her neck, and one in her ear. I noticed the neck one first, and asked how painful it was. She admitted it was considerably painful on that sensitive area, but not as bad as the one in her ear. I wasn't brave enough to ask her to see it, but I couldn't imagine the pain of having that done. As we talked, I told her about the delicate tribal tattoo I saw on the internet around a woman's thigh like a garter. It was extremely sexy. I plan on one of my future heroines to have one like it.

In college I designed a tattoo and considered getting it done, but again, I talked myself out of it. I took a friend of mine, back then to get one for her birthday and paid for part of it as her present. Now that is really the gift that keeps on giving.

So here I am. Thirty-six, and again contemplating getting a tattoo. I'm sure I'll talk myself out of it. I always do. I know several people with them, including my brother, but I'm not so sure that ink is for me. Though it would cement my biker chick persona. Maybe I could get a full sleeve, and go around wearing a strappy tee shirt that reads, "Home grown not silicone" if I wanted to be a true Harley Mama. Just joking. (Natalie will be all up in arms if she thinks that's really how I view tattoos!)

I always go back to thinking I don't want to be an old grandma sitting around the nursing home with a wrinkled tattoo. But with the amount of people who have them, it could be a topic of conversation and pride in the rec room. "Look how well mine's held up!" "If I pull my skin like this, the wolf looks like a carny sideshow act!" "Check out how big my bicep used to be. Measure the barbed wire tattoo that goes around. Here, let me hold out the extra skin that hangs down so you can get an accurate measurement with the tape measure." Alright, that was a little gross, but you can see where my mind goes and why I usually talk myself out of getting one.

Maybe this year is the year. Maybe I'll act spontaneously and forget to think about wrinkles and nursing homes. Maybe I'll look for a cool tat and narrow down where I'll put it on my body. Maybe I'll find a reputable tattoo artist and get it done.

Maybe.

Friday, January 16, 2009

My Muse

My muse is a lot like Crazy Harry from the Muppet Show right now. (I look like him right about now too, but that's a post for a different day.) If you don't remember who Crazy Harry was, here's a quick clip.



My muse wants me to run around in different stories and randomly destroy everything. I have been adding an expanded middle to Shifting Her World, and reading a book on plot at the same time. I've learned just enough to doubt everything I planned to write. The same deal for Brass in Pocket. I'm ready to throw everything out the window and just do some research into how to write because apparently I don't know how to do it. Here I was, just blithely writing away, ignorantly blissful and then BAM! I go and read something on the topic of writing, and it's brought home again that I know nothing.

Now, I'm the first to tell you that I know very little about writing. I am a hunch playing, gut following, write by the seat of my pants, slap it down and see if it works, kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out, run it up the flagpole and see who salutes, kinda gal. I don't really believe that anything I write will ever get published, but I keep plugging away.

Well, this brought me to a grinding halt. I've been having a difficult time disciplining myself to sit and work recently as it is. I need a task master standing over me with a whip. (If there are any volunteers for the job, please leave your name, contact info, qualifications, and a picture of you in a strappy, revealing leather outfit.) A person left an email on our writer's loop that she's been feeling similarly, and my gut reaction was that she needed a cheerleader. Someone to read her work and blow sunshine up her skirt, and then I realized, no, that's what you secretly want. And then I got my wish!

PRISCILLA!!! My very good friend from California (what she refers to as the cereal state - where all the fruits, flakes and nuts live) called and did just that. She is awesome! She reads all my stuff and asks for more. She left me a message, saying she reread the prologue and chapter one of Shifting Her World and couldn't wait to read the rest of it. (I sent her the first six completed chapters.) She'd read the original, short version and enjoyed it. Now I'm resending it with the revisions and new middle parts as I finish. She's just what I needed today. Hopefully I'll be able to start riding the wave of her enthusiasm. She's my one and only fan right now, and I'm so grateful for her! She's helping to reinvent my muse from Crazy Harry to something more manageable.

And I'm ready to pay the favor forward. So, if you want some positive feedback right now, send me something and bend over. I'll blow so much sunshine up your skirt it'll erupt out of your ears!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Define It and You Own It?

Avoidance - the act or practice of keeping away from or withdrawing from something (usually) undesirable.

Distraction - that which distracts, divides the attention, or prevents concentration.

Procrastination - to put off till another day or time; defer; delay.

Unenthusiastic - not enthusiastic; lacking excitement or ardor.

Hmmmm. Don't think that helped.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Could I or Couldn't I?

I don't know if I could make myself go to a male strip revue or the like. My personality is one of those where I leave the room or cover my head when an embarrassing situation comes on tv. I just can't take it. I'm not saying that the men at these shows should be embarrassed, I just don't think I'd survive a show because of how uncomfortable and embarrassed for others I'd be, whether for the men on stage or for some of the women in the crowd. I know I sound all holier than thou, but that's not it, really. Just watching this clip makes me completely uncomfortable. I can feel the blush trying to take over my cheeks, and that's in the privacy of my own home.

But here's the thing. The man in front has a body that shouldn't be allowed. He is chiseled beyond belief. It should be illegal. So I share it with you, ladies. I know most of you have been to see the Chippendales. So you'll have to let me know how the Playgirl men compare.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's My Turn To Chase

My brain has decided to chase the shiny new germs of ideas that keep churning around in my head, abandoning the wips that I've been diligently trying to complete for the past year. I need a relief pitcher or a closer to come in and finish my manuscripts. The sad part is I basically know how I want them to go, but can't force myself to sit down and begin the arduous task of all the little nuances of putting them on paper well.

So my brain decides to wander, which is nothing new. Here's some places it's decided to go. Remember this is first draft writings that I just jotted down in my idea file. Be gentle with me.

“Can I buy you a drink?”
A somewhat maniacal laugh escaped her before she could stop it.
She turned to the devastatingly handsome man, and looked him up and down. “I don’t think so, but thanks anyway,” she answered before turning back to the glass of wine she’d been nursing.
“May I ask why?” His smooth voice played down her spine as she gave him her attention yet again. His face was quizzical and slightly amused.
“Because I don’t box out of my class.” She turned back to her drink once again.
“Wait. What? What do you mean by that?” He placed a large hand on her shoulder and gently turned her back to face him, obviously not used to being turned down.
“I meant what I said. I don’t box outside of my weight class.” When his questioning stare didn’t waver, she waved her hand in an all encompassing gesture up and down his body. “Look at you. You’re extremely handsome, well-dressed, you come across educated and cultured. In other words, a heavy weight. Me? I’m a light weight, maybe a middle weight on a good day when my hair doesn’t frizz out and my socks are free of holes and my hips decide to fit into my favorite pair of jeans.” She stared at his amused eyes and tried not to get caught up in them. She took a deep breath and hurried on. “What I’m telling you is that I’m not equipped to handle you. You’d tear me to shreds, whether you’d mean to or not.”
“It sounds like you’re talking from experience.”
“Not particularly, just a solid knowledge base of how the world works.” She tried to return to her drink, but he inserted his knee between both of hers before she could swivel back around on the barstool.
She rolled her eyes at him. “Look, you need one of those high maintenance girls who moisturizes every day and gets facials. And who would never go to work in two different colored shoes because it was dark and she was late. I mean yeah, some days I can pass for cute, and sometimes I have little moments of adorable, but that’s really not what you’re looking for.” She took a breath from her ramblings and saw the interested spark smoldering in his blue eyes.
“Oh no. Stop. Stop looking at me that way. I didn’t mean to pique your interest. It’s not what I wanted to do at all. I’m trying to be honest. I’m not prepared to handle someone like you. I don’t do casual sex. And if I ever got started with you, I don’t know how I would. . . survive.” Her voice quieted and trailed off. “And then when you got tired/sick of cute and quirky and moved on to sexy and gorgeous, how would my fragile ego be able to handle that?” she whispered.

Or how about this?

He looked down at her picture as the silence of the empty house drowned him. God, she was beautiful. When was the last time he told her? He couldn’t remember. The smooth burn of the scotch did nothing to dull the tight ache high in his throat, the relentless squeeze of a cold vise in his chest. He hurt. How could he hurt so bad when he felt hollow inside? As if when she left she took everything that was in him with her.

Here's one more.

Sunlight tried to break through the barrier of his eyelids, so he squeezed them tighter against the offending assault. His mouth felt like a dirty ashtray ground into an old motel carpet. With a grimace, he peeked open an eye to take in his surroundings. His bleary gaze traveled over the area as he recognized his own patio in the back yard. At least he was somewhere he recognized. Not like last week where he couldn’t even find his damn truck for the first hour and a half. His best friend, Jerry, had to come pick him up and drive him around town till he found it.
He sat up, his stomach lurching with the effort as his head spun in eight different directions at once. A low groan made its way around the sickening knot in his stomach. He looked back at the bare straps of the folding recliner he'd just peeled himself from and wished the cushion had been on it as he stretched his stiff limbs. But that was a detail that Sandy would have thought of. Which reminded him that she wasn’t here any more.
“I need a beer.”
He scanned the bricks, and kicked the empties out of the way as he gingerly brought his feet to the side. Elbows on his knees, he held his throbbing head in his hands and prayed for the world to stop spinning.
A slamming truck door made him wince in pain. As every crunching footstep headed his way, tension and annoyance zigzagged down his spine.
“Mornin’, sunshine!”
“Fuck you,” he muttered. “You gotta be so loud? Can’t you tell when a man’s nursin’ a hangover?”
“When ain’t you nursin’ a hangover these days?” Jerry asked.
Steve flipped him off and regretted the quick move immediately as his stomach gave a sick lurch.
“So, you gonna sit out here all day, or you gonna go call off work again?”
Damn. Work.
“Or do you remember Scott tellin’ you that if you came in one more time worthless he was gonna can your ass?”
“Fuck. I need a beer.” He searched again half-heartedly on the ground around him.
“It’s nine-thirty in the fuckin’ morning, Steve.”
“Best cure for a hangover. More beer.”
“How much longer is this gonna go on, man? When are you going to decide to pick yourself up and figure out what to do?”

Does it make me a bad person that I want to run away from home for a few days? Run away from bottles and diapers and potty training and teething and sick husbands and housework and dogs that crap on the floor and dogs that are so needy that they follow you everywhere including the bathroom whose latch is broken so it can nose its way in with no problem and in-laws and laundry and clingy changeling children and bills and no Supernatural.

The retreat can't come fast enough right now.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year - Old Stuff (but some that's new, too)

Happy new year, a little late. That's not new for me. I always seem to be a day late and a dollar short. This too shall pass (there's a couple of my many old cliches that I live by.) So I guess I'll start with the old.

I'm hoping to get my annual haircut soon. (see my first post from last Sept. for the answer to your question.) It will be a little earlier than usual because I splurged and got my hair highlighted last year. My hair is currently resembling straw at the ends, so it's definitely time. The Man was good and got me a gift certificate to my hair place, so I will probably do a biannual hair cutting this year! I can hear your ooohhs and aahhhs of excitement.

I'm still working on the same old WIPs I was last year. Sigh. I don't feel like I've made much progress, but I've only been seriously writing for about a year and a half. I know I have so much to learn, and I need to contemplate what Vicki so eloquently put into words (here), because she summed up my problem exactly. Stresses of life and the sea monkeys are wearing me down. My goals are to have (Brass In Pocket) finished and a little bit polished by July, and to finish the rewrite additions to the middle of (Shifting Her World) by March - which leads to the new.

I'm planning on entering Shifting Her World into a contest. I don't believe that it will win, but I think the experience will be beneficial, but most of all, it will give me a deadline. I'm an A-1 procrastinator, but if given a deadline, I will meet it or die trying. That's why I was able to finish the first shorter version of Shifting so quickly. I wrote the 26k manuscript in about two months, which is very quick for me, to submit it for a specific call from Samhain. So I'm going to try and employ the deadline technique by requiring myself to have the entire ms done by or right after submission. Then when the agent calls me at home begging me to give her the rest of the story, I'll be prepared. (Remember the name of the blog, guys? Here's one of those moments :)!)

I'm also thinking seriously about going to National this year. It probably won't happen due to the fact that I would have to go late, and that's a big waste of enrollment fee. Plus the cost of the entire endeavor will most likely be out of reach this year.

Another new happening is that I decided to step out of my comfort zone by offering to be a speaker at the local chapter. My talk will give the basics of self defense/karate practices so writers can insert realism into kick-ass heroines. The last time I spoke like this in front of a group of peers, I broke out into hives right after it was done. We'll see how it goes. I have until September to stew.

So there's something old and something new. I won't bother with the borrowed and blue. Been there. Done that. Anything new on the horizon for you? Or any traditions to start the new year off with? Let's hear it!

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