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The Everyday Thoughts and Tidbits that catch my fancy - Look! A squirrel!

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Hello? Is anyone out there? I'm so sorry about the lapse in entries. I've been buried in my garden for the last two months! I can't believe how much produce I grew in that 20 x 40 plot! Getting it all put up was a real challenge this year. I hope I'm able to make my fall and winter as productive, but in the writing end of things.
Speaking of writing, I haven't penned a word in the last two months, either. In fact, I have over 1400 e-mails in my inbox, because I've been avoiding the computer in general. So I guess I'm back to goal making. Goal attaining would be nice, some day.
I've decided I'm going to start a writer's group. I'm going to talk to a local restaurant owner and aspiring writer and see if he'd be up to hosting it once a month in his business. Wish me luck!
Sometimes I try to tell myself I need others to make me accountable, but it doesn't always work. I've been negligent on my next big writer site account as well, even with others there asking for more. I just can't focus on more than one or two things at a time or I get flustered and sidetracked. Establishing good habits can be very difficult for me. I always thought that when I grew up, things like that would be easier. I also thought that grown ups knew everything. At 40, I still feel ripped-off.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Touching Base

Again I must apologize for my scant postings. I'm ready to trash this computer and my internet provider, I'm so frustrated with both. Don't get me started! I'm ready to go out and buy a laptop with it's own modem and pile this old thing in the basement.
I tried to post a chapter of Time Wardens, but for some reason it wont cut and paste. Another mark against this old clunker.
I have actually been doing tons of reviews for theNextbigWriter site, only I haven't been able to log them in! Yes, I'm still going on about it; I told you not to get me started.
I have a new story idea that I'm developing for Writers' Journal. I'll let you know how that develops. I need to have it mailed off before the end of November, so I still have time to work on it, as well as my Virtual Parenting story.
With all the running around we've had to do this summer for the kids' camps and such, a very productive garden, and grass that doesn't stop growing, I really haven't done a lot of reading. Maybe come fall...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Checking In

Look! I have another follower! Welcome Dave, to the exclusive group of Cinette's friends! I've been meaning to ask you about that writing group...
I've been working on submitting Time Wardens for review on the Next Big Writer online group, and when you type as slowly as I do, it takes awhile. The copy I have is poorly formatted. To print it off it's readable, but to transfer it to another format, it sucks. It looks sloppy and unprofessional. I wouldn't want them to know the truth, now, would I?
As I'm going through Time Wardens, I'm realizing just how bad the passive writing is. I'm going to have to brush up on fixing that. It's just so ingrained in my thinking, I'm afraid it will stifle the story if I worry about it right now. Once I finally finish the first draft, though, I'll attack it from that angle.
I just finished reading Kelley Armstrong's The Summoning and The Awakening. They're about a fifteen year old girl who can see and talk to ghosts. Sound Familiar? Crap. She does much better job with it than I do, of course. Kelley's my hero. But I'll finish Witches Don't Wear Socks for my own good! Not just to say I wrote a novel, but for the learning process. Chances of it ever selling are next to nil anyway, but that little bubble burst after reading Kelley's The Darkest Powers Series. I know, my story line is not even close, but...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Carrot

I entered another contest. Not that I have a snowball's chance, but it got me writing, and it was free to members of the Next Big Writer online writing group;-)
It's a short story called 'The Carrot', but of course, it has nothing to do with carrots. I'm sorry, but you're going to have to read it slowly, 'cause I'm a slow typist.

It had been a long time since a man looked at me like that. His eyes travelled slowly up my long, toned, leather-clad legs, followed by an appreciative, lingering study of my ample curves, and of course, the heated, almost leering type eye-lock, kept in check by the presence of the extra-large man at my back, entering the pub two steps behind me. He obviously didn't know who I was. His drinking buddy, on the other hand, recognized me, blanched and froze.
"Mr. Sabatino," I poured on the honey. "Fancy meeting you here. You're just the man I've been looking for." Which wasn't ever a good thing. I leaned forward, resting my palms on the table, giving the oblivious hormone factory an eyeful of cleavage. "I think you need to make a trip to the little boys' room while I have a word with Nicky."
Upon painfully pulling his gaze from my chest to my eyes, and then to the gorilla-sized man over my shoulder, I saw the exact moment it hit him that this was a business call of the second oldest profession, not the first. His chair scraped the floor as he pushed himself back from the table and turned tail. Poor Nicky still hadn't moved, frozen like a deer in the headlights, and likely just as doomed.
I pulled out a chair from a nearby table and made myself comfortable across from Nicky as Carlo, my escort, made himself comfortable at the bar, behind Nicky.
"So, Nicky, how are the wife and kids? Doing well, I hope. Or did Ria finally pack up the kids and move to her sister's?" I already knew she had left his sorry ass weeks ago.
Finally, his frozen expression broke. Or maybe it was just Nicky. His bloodshot eyes grew glassy with unshed tears and his face contorted into a blubbering mess. "I'll have the money for you by the weekend," he began to whine, "I swear on your mother's grave, Angel, I -," he nearly choked on his own spit and likely emptied his bladder when I reached across, grabbed the front of his shirt and yanked him onto the table. Carlo tensed and sent me a warning glare over Nicky's shoulder. Most people would think he was there for my protection, but my father gave him permission to haul me out of there by the scruff of my neck if I got out of line in public. Dad knew I was losing my patience with weak, sniveling losers, but Carlo was willing to give me some leash.
"You leave my mother out of this," I practically growled. "She had nothing to do with the likes of you when she was alive, and she sure isn't the patron saint of good-for-nothing losers."
No one in the near-empty pub acknowledged the ruckus I created. The bartender continued to polish the counter at the far end of the bar, and the few patrons just stared into their drinks. Apparently my short temper was common knowledge.
Nicky nodded vehemently, not daring to say anything else to set me off.
"Fifty thousand, Nicky," I whispered into his face. "You owe my dad fifty thousand dollars. Where do you plan to pick up that kind of cash, Nicky? You've tapped out Ria's inheritance, your kids' college funds, and even Larry the bookie has cut you off. No more betting on your 'sure things'. Just how stupid do you think I am? In case you weren't sure, I'm a true brunette."
The hand I had twisted in his shirt started shaking. For a second, I thought it was giving out on me, but then I realized Nicky was fighting back sobs. I shoved him back into his chair, not wanting to get blubbered on.
"You're right, Angel. I got nothing. No money, no family, no job-," he sucked back a sob, his head swinging back and forth as he stared at one callused hand, then the other as they rested on the table in front of him. His voice dropped to a barely audible decibel. "I deserve whatever whatever you have to dish out. I've been a lousy husband and father, letting the ponies come before my family. I robbed them of their security, counting on luck that wasn't there. They deserve a better life than I've given them." He snorted out a weak laugh. "At least I didn't cash out my life insurance policy."
I narrowed my eyes and leaned forward on the table. "Is it enough to cover your debt?"
"Only when I'm dead." His brain kicked in and his eyes grew wide. "You mean you'd go after Ria...?"
I leaned back and stretched my legs out under the table. "What other options do I have? You said yourself that you don't have a job. With no source of income, there's no chance of me getting paid, now is there? That's what we're here to discuss - basically - is my salary. If I don't get the money out of you, I don't get paid."
"I - I - I'll get a job, Angel. I swear on...my son's life." His voice strained at the mention of his infant child. "I'll pay your dad back. It might take some time, but every spare penny I make is yours. Please, please, I beg you, leave my family out of this." Nicky was stretched out across the table, his hands offered forward in supplication.
I stared into his face, trying to gauge his sincerity. He continued to whisper, "Please, please," as he held my gaze.
"Dad has a warehouse over on the docks just off of McLeod. You drive forklift, don't you? They could use a new operator down there. Your shift starts at six a.m. tomorrow," I stood up. "Don't be late."
A fog of confusion clouded his face. "So you...you aren't going to break my legs? Or kill me?"
"Who knows what might get broken if you don't show up at the warehouse and give it your all, twelve hours a day, until your debt is paid off. Your wages will be garnished, of course."
"But...I don't get it." Nicky shook his head. "Why?"
"Do the math, Nicky, do the math." I pushed the chair under the table. "Six a.m. at the warehouse. Let's hope this is the only break I have to give you."
As I turned and headed out the door, I felt Carlo's hand in the small of my back and his breath on my ear. "You enjoyed that way too much. Why not just give him your dad's offer straight out?"
I smiled to myself. "He had to want it, first."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another Tangent

I can't honestly say I've been working on my writing lately - like I said before, May and June are crazy around here. But I've been mulling over both novels, a short story and - you guessed it - a NEW novel idea. I hate to admit it, but I was pulling it together -in my head- sitting in the pew at a funeral this morning. (As an aside, I want to be like the guy we were there to mourn/celebrate; riding elephants inThailand at 70 years, para-gliding in Mexico at 82, planning another trip at 90.)

I can honestly say I want to be writing, but I'm putting it off for some reason. What's up with that? Is it because my to-do list is longer than my arm, and it pulls at me? Do I really believe I'm going to find numerous consecutive hours to write? Gimme a break. School's out. Not a chance.

Time to make another goal;-D. I know! how about 500 words a day? That's not too crazy, and it gives me a jumping off place. Even if I don't get it done every day, at least it's on my to-do list. So, there it is, another goal. Hit or miss, here I go!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

News Flash!

Here we go again, two posts in one day after a month-long dry spell. I just found out that the Surrey International Writer's Conference opened up registration last night. That's the conference I was hoping to attend ( already told hubby I was going) even though nothing is yet posted on it's home page except for the date (Oct. 22-25/09). Going through the past blog entries for it, I did find out that Robert J. Sawyer might be there, and I remember seeing Kelley Armstrong's name in the list of past attendees. Getting Excited!!!!

Coming Up for Air

May and June are radically crazy months for me. No, I haven't done any writing for weeks, and I find myself feeling detached from it. Time to get back at it, for sure.

I got my critique from the WOW contest I entered. Got into the top 100, but not the top 25. Oh well, not bad for the first time out.


To show you what a loser I am, I tried to copy and paste my entry story into my post, but I ended up deleting part of my toolbar - yes, I kid you not- and now I don't have the file, edit, view, insert, etc. part of my toolbar. Barb, I'll be hounding you to fix it for me before I feed you supper again tonight. I hate computers. (I whispered that so my desktop wouldn't hear.)

Don't know how my other entry, the first three chapters of Witches Don't Wear Socks is doing. Have to get back to you on that.
Funny thing, as busy as I've been, I still miraculously found time to read five books in five days last week. I'm caught up on Rachel Caine's Morganville series (a new one comes out this month!), and I threw in a cozy to switch up the pace. I honestly don't know how I did it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Special Announcement

It looks like I had a productive weekend. Not only did I make a number of new friends in the writing profession, I DOUBLED my blog followers! Yes! Doubled!
I found a new passtime to take the place of spider solitare when avoiding writing. Reviewing stories at The NEXTbigWriter.com (when my internet connection and crappy old computer will allow it). I'm actually getting quite a kick out of it. There are thousands of stories, chapters, articles and poems to choose from, so you don't have to review items that you haven't any experience or interest in. (ME, review poems? Get outta here!) So far, I've been sticking around the young adult genre, and have found a couple very well written novels to follow along. Anyway, I digress. The more reviews I make, the closer I get to being able to submit my own chapters. I've submitted the first two of Witches, and have have favorable reviews that pointed out a few of my bad habits in them that I couldn't even see anymore. I'm getting a rush off this stuff!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Another Baby Step

A new stunning report; Cinette has signed up to an online writing community, The NEXTbigWRITER, which just so happens to be having a contest involving the first three chapters of your novel. The deadline is May 16, so needless to say, I'll be polishing 'Witches' for the next week or so. My chances of winning? Slim to none, I'm sure, but the critiques alone will help me move it along to completion, I hope. Considering what a non-joiner I am, this is another big step for me. Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another Step Forward

I know it's kind of weird that I don't post for over a week at a time, then I post two or three times in a day, but I have a lousy Internet connection that never seems to allow me to finish a post. So here I go again.
Witches Don't Wear Socks is indeed coming along, albeit slowly. And I also have some shocking news. Well, shocking if you know what a non-joiner I am. I'm participating in a writing retreat that's being offered the first weekend of May, here in Lethbridge. It starts Friday, May 1st in the evening, goes through all of Saturday, and half of Sunday. The organizer is also planning to put together a Lethbridge-based writing group. I'm nervous, to say the least. What if they don't like me? What if they think my writing sucks? I feel like I'm back in junior high. Wish me luck. I'll keep you posted. If I don't chicken out.

ALERT! Next hot new YA Author Debut

I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan this weekend. Okay, Saturday. I don't usually have that kind of time to just sit and read all day, but I just couldn't put it down. I believe this is Carrie's debut YA novel, and she did an excellent job. The world she built around zombies (yes, zombies) was believable and heart-breaking, and her characters were flawed yet loveable. I'm not going to get into the story here because I'll end up spoiling it for anyone who wants to read it. And trust me, YOU WANT TO READ IT!
Carrie has the sequel coming out next year. If you want more details, you can check out her blog, called Carrie's Procrastiatory Outlet.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Whining

I'm finding myself in a quandary; I have tons of items on my to-do lists, but I'm not doing any of them. I seem to be overwhelmed, not knowing where to start. If I get going with my spring cleaning list, I don't get anywhere with my writing or my exercise regiment, let alone the garden and yard work, and absolutely no reading gets in either. If I focus on the exercise, my day is half shot after stretching and showers, or hubby says he needs my help for 'a minute or two' and there goes the rest of my day, etc.

Once I focus on something I roll with it, but then everything else is left to the wayside. I can't seem to fit a lot of things into my day, unless they're closely related. A focus issue? Not. A deciding issue? More likely. I feel I'm spread too thin with having to cover everyone else's issues before I can even get to mine. Yesterday, after my day was planned out, my husband came in the house and announced 'we' were branding cattle. Eight hours later, I collapsed on the couch with a slice of pizza, bagged and discouraged. Nothing from my list got done. Again. Is it too much to ask for, wanting to be a fit, healthy writer with a clean house and a presentable yard? I know, the 5 dogs, 4 growing kids and 1 needy husband tend to make these goals a challenge, but I can't seem to even get close on even one of the goals without dropping everything else. Will I ever get caught up, let alone get ahead?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Progress

Well, I've spent 5 hours on raking on the property so far, hosed down the outside of the sun room as well as some patio furniture, washed every window and window screen on the house, cleaned the renovation equipment out of the sun room and swept it out, and even hand-detailed my SUV. I've pulled out the tools I need to work up the garden and plant potatoes this weekend, and my husband wants to brand around sixty head of cattle yet this weekend as well.Oh. Wait. This is my WRITING blog, isn't it?
I did finish cleaning up chapter three and I'm halfway through chapter four. Of course, I want to go back to chapter one and alter a subplot, but I'm not going to let myself just yet.
I'm also rereading Plot by Ansen Dibell, underlining even more stuff than I did the first time I read it six or seven months ago. I also realized while reading it that my chapter one is going to end up as chapter two, and chapter -I don't know, probably chapter 17- will be chapter one in the final draft. Sometimes I wish I could just finish writing the story before I start adding to it and changing it.
I need to make time for more reading. By 8pm, I'm collapsing on the couch in front of the TV instead of the computer or with a book. Now that I've made the sun room livable, maybe I should close myself up in there with one of the stack of new YA titles I've picked up.
I think I need to relax more, anyway. The twitch on the right side of my face is back...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Chapter Two - Witches Don't Wear Socks

CHAPTER TWO

The halls of Buchanan High were crowded with retro greasers and playboy bunnies, at least on the senior high end of the school. I hoped the middle school end showed more imagination. Besides, when did Halloween turn from trying to scare the bejezus out of each other, to seeing who could be sexier than the next person?
“Yo, Alex, whasup?” Ryan was wearing a red bomber jacket and tight-legged jeans with his hair slicked back.
“Is that greaser for ‘good morning’?” I snarled.
He held his binder up between us. As if that would protect him. “In not so many words, yes. I see that you are bucking the trend, yet again, and staying true to your own…self expression.”
Before I could come up with a snide remark, Kayla popped in between us, dressed in a white flowing robe with huge silver wings and a halo attached to her head. “Did you hear? They moved the pep rally up to second period, since everyone pretty much ditches class anyway. And their expecting a big storm tonight, so the game’s been moved up to this afternoon.”
“What?”
“The football game. You know, that silly distraction ninety-nine percent of the students here live and breathe, in one form or another?”
“I meant the storm.” Just another marker for this red-letter day.
“A doozie coming in from the north. A severe storm warning was announced last night. Don’t you listen to the news? It’s not like you hang out at the diner or the drive-in with the rest of the school population.”
“As you so subtlety pointed out, my life is depressing enough, thank you, I don’t need to hear about the rest of the world’s problems.” I elbowed a freshman/escaped convict as he made his way past us down the hall. “Way to go, dude! Be a maverick!”
Considering the way his face lit up, you’d have thought I was the Pope and I had just blessed him. I looked down at my black sweater, leggings, flip-flops and black-painted toenails. Nope. No mistaking me for the pontiff. Go figure.
“Anyway, the morning classes are going to be cut short to fit in the pep rally in the gym, then after lunch, the classes are cancelled for the game! Today is going to be one big PAR-TAE!” Kayla let out a whoop and then headed down the hall to spread her message.
Ryan cleared his throat. As I turned back to him, I caught a whiff of his cologne. When did he start wearing cologne? Strangely enough, I think I liked it. I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath.
“Do you want any company during the festivities?”
Snap out of it, Alex. The boy is talking to you. “The festivities? Don’t tell me Mom is trying to throw me another surprise birthday party.” Come to think of it, she tried to throw me one last year to distract me from realizing Dad missed my birthday. I wasn’t liking this trend.
“Stay with me now, I was referring to the pep rally. But if you were looking for an escort for a more personal occasion…”
“There is no ‘personal occasion’. I don’t do birthdays.” I suddenly noticed that a guy dressed in seventies retro that was staring at me wasn’t actually retro. And the bullet hole in his temple was oozing.
“As I recall. That’s why I refrained from wishing you a ‘happy birthday’. But may I extend to you a ‘happy Halloween’?”
A girl in a prom gown came from around the corner. The rope tied around her neck made her eyes bulge out.
I sighed. “I only wish you could.”

Homeroom in the art room was a tumult of teen bodies, everyone –except me- in a buzz about the day’s activities. I sat at a table near Klassen’s desk, slumped down into my seat, wishing I had another cup of coffee and a ‘Lumberjack’s Special’ on the side as my stomach growled.
“Don’t get so excited, Alex. You’re disrupting the rest of the students.” Mr. Klassen sauntered up to his desk and tossed a stack of papers on it and started to take off his jacket.
“Can’t help myself. You know me, the life of the party, the hub of all things exciting.” I couldn’t get past a monotone delivery.
“I’ve been wondering if you were going to finish up you papier-mâché sculpture anytime soon.” He gestured to the corner table behind his desk, where a spread-winged eagle in mid take-off perched. “You haven’t touched it all week. What’s up?”
“Nothing’s up. I just haven’t had the time.” I hadn’t been able to focus on her with all the disturbing visions darkening my muse. “I should be able to make some progress during lunch break.”
Klassen took a step closer. His long, curly blond hair swung forward as he leaned over my table. “I’ve seen you looking rather distracted the last few days. Are there any problems at home?”
I snorted. “As compared to every other week? No, there’s nothing going on at home that’s out of the ordinary, at least for our family.”
“Boy problems, perhaps?” He smirked as he raised his eyebrows. “You haven’t broken out of your reclusive shell and joined the human race, have you?” Klassen was usually razzing me about being a tortured, hermit artist. He didn’t know the half off it.
I felt my face redden. What was up with that? “You do not want to go there. Nothing to see, nothing to do.” I tried for nonchalant. I’m not so sure I pulled it off.
He chuckled as he pushed himself off the table. “You mean you don’t want to go there.” He straightened and faced the rest of the class. “Okay people, its time for attendance. Keep it down to a dull roar.” He gave another self-satisfied chuckle as he sidled over behind his desk. I heard him mumble under his breath, “Alex has a boyfriend, Alex has a boyfriend…”
“I do not!” I hissed back at him.
“Thou doth protest too much.”
I shook my head as I slumped lower in my chair. I should have known better than to let him bait me. If I came away from this life having learned one thing, it was that I wasn’t Cassie. I couldn’t tell people what to think. They always just believed what they wanted to believe, truth or not.



“Come on everybody! Up on your feet! Do it with me people! Give me an R! Gimme an A! Now an M and an S! Who are we? The Rams!” The Compulsion Cassie was throwing out into the packed gym was even reaching me at the back of the bleachers. She really had a thing for school spirit. Of course, I had learned how to fend them off years ago.
“Are you positive that you and Cassie are truly siblings? I know your facial characteristics are strikingly similar, but personality-wise…”
“Ryan, believe me, some days I wish it weren’t true. Like today, with her jumping around and screaming at the top of her lungs in front of the whole school.”
“Why?” Kayla, like so many other girls in my class, idolized my older sister. “She’s an incredible motivator. It’s as if you believe you can do anything just because she says you can. Her energy and drive are contagious. She’s just so…”
“Compelling?”
Kayla tilted her curly blond head, almost bonking me with her halo. “I don’t know if that’s the word I would use.”
Ryan screwed up his face in thought, and then nodded. “Yes, I agree, that word fits her. She has an attractive and compelling personality.”
“You don’t know the half of it,” I mumbled under my breath.
“What was that?”
“Nothing. At least I can be hopeful she’ll be hoarse after this and won’t be able to nag me for a couple of days.”
A roar of the crowd that rivaled the rumblings of my gut brought my attention back to the middle of the gym, where the Rams football team came trotting in, one by one. Last, but not least –at least in his mind – came the swaggering Bobby Gentry, star quarterback. I often wondered what kind of a loser he would be in real life – I mean without the influences of his girlfriend, head cheerleader and class president, my peppy and overzealous sister.
Some people are more easily influenced than others. Bobby was a lump of clay and Cassie was the sculptor. If she ever entered politics, that girl would rule the world. And Mom thought she had her hands full with me.
My attention was snagged once again as the next player came wondering into the gym from the change rooms. He was in uniform, but it was different. It was the same red with black trim as the Rams’ away game uniforms, but the style was slightly different. The other players in the gym were wearing the white home game uniforms with the red and black trim. This guy carried his helmet in his hand. He looked at the crowd, bewildered. Behind him, more players, just as bewildered, filed in. Some of these players were covered in soot, others in blood with their uniforms tattered.
The rest of the gym’s occupants carried on with their fanatic football worship service, oblivious to the second team entering the room. All at the same moment, the team stopped and stared at me. I recognized some of them from the photo hung outside the change room doors. This gym had been built as a monument to the 1982 Rams football team that had all been killed in a bus crash.
Crap. Halloween was officially in full swing.


“Alex! Wait up!” Ryan was panting when he caught up to me in the hallway outside of the gym. An athlete he was not. “Why did you take off like that? Was it something I said? I’m not hot for your sister, if that’s what you thought.”
I stopped short. “Why aren’t you hot for her?” I studied his face to see his reaction. He looked shocked, period. Was I really looking for an answer, or was I trying to distract him from my seemingly irrational behavior? “Not only is she attractive and compelling, she’s one of the sweetest girls you’ll ever meet. Why wouldn’t you be hot for her?”
“So are you. I mean, well, I don’t know about the sweet thing…” the usually articulate Ryan was rattled. He cleared his throat. “What I mean to say is that Cassie may possess all those qualities, but you possess some rather compelling qualities as well.”
Now it was my turn to be rattled. I’m not self-delusional. Regardless of everyone wanting my attention, I wasn’t high on anyone’s popularity list, nor was it a goal of mine to be on said lists. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. And sweet in relation to me is how I like my coffee. “I’ve always considered myself more of a ‘repellent’ personality.”
The tattered and bloody football team had followed Ryan and I out of the gym and was catching up fast. One thing I could be thankful for is that lost spirits don’t ‘fly’ through the air and materialize at will, like Greta does. She knows she’s not of the living on this side of the veil, and her visits are monitored by the ‘powers that be’. Lost spirits don’t know they are dead, so they still follow the rules of gravity and physics, or so that’s what Greta says. So maybe the football team would follow the rules of etiquette they knew in life as well.
“As I may agree you tend to try and keep others at a distance, I sense a more ‘agreeable’ personae below your tough exterior.” Ryan’s soft brown eyes looked deep into mine.
How had I never noticed what long lashes he had? I started to feel a crack forming on my exoskeleton. With a crack in my voice, I muttered, “You sensed wrong.” I turned and dove into the girls’ washroom.
Talk about jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Standing in the middle of the washroom was Prom Girl with the noose around her neck.
I’m not going to catch a break today, am I?” I mumbled.
She was gazing around the room as if she were in a museum. “Everything looks so strange. It’s the same, yet different.” She turned to me, her bulging eyes searching mine.
It was difficult to hold her gaze. But I’d faced worse. I think the screaming drowned toddler at the local pool was the hardest to endure, and impossible to reason with. Mind you, I was only five at the time. The swim instructor thought I was terrified of the water. But Mom never tried to force me to go back. Maybe because I kept screaming, “Stop it! Just stop it! Leave me alone!”
Prom Girl continued on, breathlessly. “I don’t recognize anyone in the halls, not even most of the teachers. I tried to talk to Mr. Yamashita, but he ignored me. It’s like he couldn’t even see me there, standing right in front of him. But you can see me, can’t you? I feel like I know you, somehow. Have we met before?” She rattled off her spiel without taking a breath, as if she was worried she needed to get it all in quickly, before I took off on her.
As for Mr. Yamashita, he was going deaf and blind and he often didn’t see his living students, let alone the dead ones. I wish I could be so oblivious. As for the football team, I could hear them outside the door, talking among themselves. This was one bullet I was not going to be able to dodge. “Uh, I don’t believe we’ve met, but I’ve seen you around.”
“Why is it no one else seems to see me? I’ve tried to talk to other students and they walk right past me. Are they really all that rude?”
“No, they aren’t being rude. There’s a chance that they simply can’t see you – I’m sorry, what was – is - your name?”
“Oh, sorry, I didn’t introduce myself, did I? I was so excited about finding someone to listen to me I forgot my own manners.” She extended her hand toward me. “Pamela Saunders.”
I slowly reached out for her hand. This is where it got awkward. “I’m Alex. The reason I can see you and others can’t is because I’m a medium. I can see and talk to spirits.”
Her look of puzzlement was followed by shock as she reached out to grab my hand – and passed right through it. She gasped. “I’m…a ghost?”
I nodded. “I’m afraid so. But maybe I can help you find…”
“No! This can’t be! That would mean I’m…no!” She grew quite agitated. “I am not dead!”
“Pamela, listen to me for just a minute…”
“No!” Then she disappeared. Now, whether she liked it or not, she was dead. That made for a whole new ballgame.
“That went well.” I now had a whole ghostly football team following me around the school and a full-fledged specter that could now pop in and out at will. And all before the lunch break. Man, was I on a roll. I looked up at the window. Not a chance. High schools were built like prisons; they don’t want the inmates escaping. The window was too small and too high off the floor. I was going to have to face the football team. But hey, how many girls can honestly say they have the whole football team chasing after them?
I took a deep breath, then flung the door open. The players were lined up in two columns facing each other across the doorway, like they line up for their grand entrances on to the field. And they were all looking at me. Funny, none of them seemed to notice how out-of-sorts the other players looked. The team captain opened his mouth to speak, but I cut him short. “You’ll have to excuse me guys, I have a very busy schedule and I don’t have time to entertain you at the moment. If you wish to talk to me, we can talk after the game this afternoon.” As if I was sticking around for a stupid football game.
I stopped short once I got past the gauntlet. Two guys from my math class had been leaning up against the wall, chatting. Apparently, they thought I had been talking to them.
“After the game, then,” one of them said, smiling as he saluted me. The other just stood there, his eyes wide with surprise.
I closed my eyes and dropped my head in defeat. “Let it go,” I mumbled to myself. “I might not even live that long.”

The vacuum created by the snap of the barrier sucked the Collection free. Yet, the pull, the hold, was still strong. The Others were coming: escape was essential. The tear was beginning to mend. No! Most break through the barrier! Latch on to the Collection! Here’s a firm hold, a large mass together. Hang tight! Ah, freedom!
Must find an anchor, quickly. The Others are at the tear, pulling back. The Collection isn’t anchored yet. Quickly! Quickly! Ah, yes! A pawn! To be meat again! Let the games begin!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Witches Don't Wear Socks: Chapter One, Take II

See if you can spot the changes. They aren't just cosmetic, but some are fundamental. Tell me what you think. There is a teeny tiny comment icon on the bottom of the post for you to click on and make a comment for me. Make my day a give me my first comment!

CHAPTER ONE



“Witches don’t wear socks!” I heard Raz yell. I opened my bedroom door to find her standing at the top of the stairs with her hands on her hips and a wide-banded, pointy hat on her head.
“I could dig out a pair of Grandma Stella’s itchy black wool stockings for you, if you’d like,” Mom’s voice carried up the stairwell.
Raz gave a six year-old’s exaggerated huff. “I’ll find something else!” She turned from the stairs and spotted me in my doorway. “What are you being for Halloween?”
“Me. What are you supposed to be?” I was beyond slow first thing in the morning.
“A scary witch,” she cackled, raising her clawed hands next to her face.
“You don’t look very scary.”
“But YOU sure do,” she jabbed as she bolted for her room and slammed her door.
“OH! Burned by a six year-old! Slipping at your game, are you?” Cassie called from the bathroom across the landing. She was applying mascara, and, of course, was already dressed in her cheerleader uniform and her long, dark hair was styled into cascades of ringlets. I hated morning people.
I dragged myself over to her. “She’s just lucky I’m not awake yet.” How’s that for a sharp retort? I had had a lousy night’s sleep. That made for three nights in a row. I’d felt compelled to draw lately, which wasn’t weird in itself, but my drawings had been, well, dark. I wasn’t even sure myself what I was drawing, but I found them disturbing, and I tossed most of the night, trying to figure them out.
“Aren’t you going to dress up? The more people in your class in costume, the more points your class makes, the closer you are to earning a class pizza party.”
“Oh yeh. A pizza party. In class. With a bunch of morons. Next time, maybe.”
“What do you mean, ‘morons’?” Cassie was everybody’s best friend.
“Teenage boys. Need I say more?”
Cassie rolled her eyes, then continued with her mascara application. “Where is your school spirit? I can’t believe you don’t get involved in any school activities. What’s wrong with you?”
“I didn’t get that gene. Come to think about it, are we even related?” I squeezed around her into the bathroom.
“I’m guessing not.” She closed the mascara tube.
“Wait! What’s that over there?” I pointed across in front of her to my bedroom doorway.
“Where?” As she turned to look, I gave her a shove, and slammed the bathroom door.
“I wouldn’t have fallen for that.” I called through the closed door. Then again, in our household, you never know what, or who, could pop up out of nowhere.
If I were Cassie, I’d have convinced the door to melt if someone did that to me, but I’m sure the thought never crossed her mind. Another reason to wonder if we were really sisters.
“Alex is so mean.” I heard Raz comment outside the door.
“She’s just not a morning person, that’s all.” Ah, Cassie, forever the optimist. But optimism must come easy to those who live a charmed life.
“She’s not a day person, either.” Raz retorted.
That was quite true. I was a creature of the night. I spent most of my days numbered among the walking dead. I never seemed to have any energy until the sun went down.
“That was extremely rude, young lady. You should be treating your sisters better than that. They will always be there for you, after all.” I looked over my shoulder in the mirror to see my great grandmamma behind me, except she didn’t look like herself. Did I mention that you never know who’ll pop up out of nowhere?
“See? Even an old gal like myself can get into the Halloween spirit.” She twirled around to show off her flapper dress. And her flapper body. “I was a pretty hot chick in my younger days, don’t you think?” She looked to be in her mid-twenties, her hair short, dark and wavy, her skin smooth and rose, her eyes bright blue and sparkling.
I shivered and made a face. I hated it when people shifted around into different forms. I found it irritating. I suddenly had a visual flash of some of the drawings I had produced lately.
“Don’t make such unbecoming faces. It might freeze like that!” Suddenly, her great grandmamma face filled the entire mirror, every wrinkle and crevice amplified. “BOO!”
Like I said, I hated it when people did that.
“But on a more serious note, I have a warning for you,” the huge face in the mirror told me.
“Dress up for Halloween or I’ll be forced into a pizza party with my class?”
“Much more serious than that, I’m afraid.”
“What could be worse than that?”
“It’s Halloween, my sweet Alexandria, and the veil gets very thin on this day.”
“Tell me something I don’t know.”
“Enough with the attitude and quit interrupting. You are in danger, young lady.”
“Danger? What did I do now?”
She shook her head. “Just being who you are, I’m afraid.”
Enough said. Nothing good could ever come of being me.
“It’s also a new moon. That means the veil becomes even thinner. We will do what we can from this side, but not all Aspects are under our control. We have our own battles to wage over here.”
“What, exactly, are you saying?” People expected way to much of me before I was fully conscious.
“You, my sweet Alexandria, are a beacon in the dark to all that reside on this side of the veil. Good and evil spirits and beings are drawn to you. And chances are that some of those evil beings may make it through the extremely weak barrier that will result at sundown tonight.
“Like I said, we will do what we can to keep them back, but you need to be wary. Protect yourself, and ask your mother to perform some extra protection spells over you before sundown tonight. Oh, and before I forget, Happy, Birthday, My sweet Alexandria.” Suddenly, it was my own reflection in the mirror, puffy eyes and spiky short dark hair sticking out everywhere, and my ever-present silver Celtic cross necklace around my throat.
“Great. Another wonderful birthday to look forward to.”



After spiking my hair a little more and putting on my makeup, pulling a long black sweater over my head and some black leggings on, I gave Charlie, my gopher snake, a couple strokes under his chin, shoved my homework and my sketchpad in my backpack, then headed straight for the coffeemaker.
“Mom was rinsing her coffee cup in the sink as I dragged myself into the kitchen. “You’re running late; your sisters have already left.” She looked me up and down. “What are you supposed to be?”
“Doesn’t anyone in this household say ‘Good morning,’ anymore?” I don’t know why it even mattered to me, since I couldn’t manage good manners myself before lunch, let alone proper etiquette.
“Good morning, Alex,” cooed my mother snidely. “What are you supposed to be dressed as this morning?”
“A fairy princess. Where’s the sugar?”
“Thought so. The black lipstick was a dead giveaway. How many times do I have to tell you that that stuff stunts your growth?” She turned her back to the sink and leaned against the counter as she crossed her arms.
“The lipstick or the sugar?”
“The coffee. You can’t afford to lose out in that department.”
“I believe it’s referred to as a ‘failure to thrive’, or so I’m told.” After opening three cupboards, I found the sugar bowl and tipped it over my coffee cup.
“That’s a load of crap. You’re just petite. That doctor was just trying to find a way to blame me for your small size as a baby. You ate like a horse – that hasn’t changed –you just didn’t sleep more than two or three hours a day. Without rest, it’s hard for a growing body to…well, grow.”
“Don’t worry, I still blame you.”
Mom playfully smacked my shoulder with the back of her fingers.
“Hey! Hot stuff coming through. I want it on my insides, not my outsides. Is there any bread left? I smell burnet toast.”
“That’s it there on the table.” Next to a jar of raspberry jam and a pot of honey was a stack of almost burnt toast. Martha Stewart my mother wasn’t. Even though she was home all day, Mom wasn’t very domestic. She spent most of her time transcribing medical records for doctors in her home office.
“How does the cereal situation look?” I asked as I placed my coffee cup on the table.
“We’re out of milk. I need to pick up some groceries today.”
“Can you pick up some more frozen mice for Charlie? And I suppose eggs and bacon with a side of pancakes is out of the question?” I opened the refrigerator door and basked in the wave of cool air it emanated.
“Hello? Will you look at the clock? Time to get rolling, birthday girl.”
I cringed. “I don’t do birthdays.”
“You’re to young to be trying to dodge them already. You’ll regret skipping them, mark my words.”
“I only regret skipping meals. Birthdays –not so much.” Time to change the subject. “Where’s Dad?”
It was her turn to be uncomfortable. “I’m afraid he left early this morning. He had a flight to catch before sunrise.”
“But he just got home last week! And today’s…never mind.” I closed the fridge. How could he skip out on my birthday? This was the one day he and I ignored Halloween together.
“It’s the gypsy in his blood. And it’s his job, honey.” Then she quickly switched topics. “Did you talk to Greta this morning?”
“I believe that’s ‘Great Grandmamma’ to you…wait – to me. Just ‘Grandmamma’ to you.” So much for trying sassy so early in the day. “Will you let me finish my coffee?” I picked up my cup and took a slurp.
“Did she warn you?”
“Yeah, yeah, got the message. Big bad bogeymen out to get me. Got it. Next topic.” I plunked myself down at the table. “Better yet, no topic, just silence.”
“This isn’t a joke, Alex. How often do you get a visit from a dead relative?”
I gave her what I hoped was a persuasive deadpan stare.
“Okay, fine, I forgot for a minute who I was talking to. I mean how often do I get a visit from a dead relative.”
“She came to you, too?” Okay, I’m a little slow on the uptake before my caffeine infusion.
“She didn’t feel you would take her all that seriously.”
“I can take care of myself, Mom. I’ve been doing it for fourteen years, as of sundown.”
“Sure you have. Up and running from the womb. Your family is just a bunch of white noise, stuff you have to put up with to get through the day, is that it?”
I downed my coffee and got up from the table. “You didn’t even know it was spirits that wouldn’t let me sleep as a baby. I had to learn to deal with it all by myself. I’ll deal with whatever this world –or the next – has to throw at me, myself.” I stomped out of the kitchen.
“Is that what you’ve been doing?” A booming voice called from down the back hallway.
Crap. I had forgotten she was here. I had woken up Grandma Stella. She had arrived after dinner last night. She was less of a morning person than I was. Birthday or no birthday, I was in for it.
Her thin, tiny frame came from around the doorway of her room. If anyone looked like a scary witch in this house this morning, it was Stella. Her long gray hair was mused and matted, and wrinkles from her pillow still creased the left side of her face. “Don’t forget that it was I that found the reason for your lack of sleep. You didn’t ‘deal’ with that issue on your own, missy. Your parents’ concern for your situation brought me here to help you. And now you are of age to learn how to properly deal with your gift so you can do some good in this world. That’s why I’m here. It’s time to start your training.”
Training? Are you kidding me? I just wanted my curse to go away. I wanted a life where I didn't have to hide in my room to keep from being hassled by ghosts. I slipped on a pair of flip flops and grabbed my jacket off a hook by the back door. “Sorry Grams, I gotta get to school. I don’t want to be late for class. Catch you later, maybe.”
“It’s below freezing outside! Why aren’t you wearing socks?”
“I hear witches don’t wear socks.”
“What is wrong with kids in this day and age?” Grams threw up her arms and rolled her eyes.
“Alex, don’t forget your backpack.” Mom focused her attention on the bag, her arm extended toward it, as it lifted off the floor next to the kitchen doorway and floated through the air toward me.
“Show off.” I mumbled.
“Practice makes perfect.” She gave me a knowing look. Sometimes I wonder if she could read minds as well as move things with her mind. I didn’t like that prospect.
As I grabbed my backpack out of the air and turned to dash out the door Grams called out. “By the way, happy birthday, my little witch.”
************
It was almost time. The shifting of energies, the alignment of the planets and the tension of the atmosphere were pulling together. The vibrations were nearing a fevered pitch. The collection was anxious to escape their horror-ridden confinement, pushing and scrambling, stretching against the barrier. A thunderous crack resounds, and chaos has broken through. Yes!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Learning Experience

There seems to be a lot of surprises on this path of novel writing. I turned to Noah Lukeman (in his book form) The Plot Thickens, for some help as I struggle through this process of producing a reader-worthy novel. It's quite interesting to find out what I, as a reader, most often didn't notice the reasons I either put down or devoured a book. Yeah, there's the obvious ones, like I love or hate the character, but not caring about the character is deadly to the author, or if you aren't given a reason for the character to do what they do. Yes, I know the writer needs to know their characters well, but do we even know why we sometimes do the things we do?

I find I've been obsessing about Witches, but I'm not moving ahead on it just yet, still tinkering with what I've already written, finding I need it to be perfect before I move on, unlike all the advice I find in Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt and almost any other writing related book I've ever read. I can't seem to get over that neurotic tendency. Am I doomed to be one of those wannabes who polishes their first three chapters and never finishes the novel? (So I'm on chapter six, but still...)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

A friend sent me a similar list like this on facebook, and I found it a challenge to find 25 (honest) quirks of mine. I'm going to do one of these up for each of my characters!

1. I absolutely hate having my picture taken.

2. I have a book fetish. Don’t ask me to choose between sex and books, ‘cause honey, you’ll lose out.

3. I own one pair of jeans and only three good pairs of shoes. My daughters have threatened to put me on What Not To Wear, but found out they don't 'do' western Canada.

4. I despise shopping (re: #3) except in Chapters…( and the local liquor store.)

5. I am a lousy typist. My daughters find it down right painful to watch me type. (Mom! Pleeeaase let me do it!)

6. I’m consistently inconsistent in just about everything. Usually.

7. My jewellery collection fits in a ring box.

8. I’ve learned having four beautiful teenage daughters has it’s own set of problems. Mostly of the teen and college-aged male variety. Not so good when none of my babies even graduate for over another year.

9. I’m an information junkie. Books, magazines, newsletters, cereal boxes, tray liners from McDonald’s, you name it, I’ll read it.

10. My husband thinks I’m weird because I’m always studying license plates.

11. I’m probably one of those drivers that Noel’s always cursing at.

12. Give me my coffee and no one gets hurt.

13. My favorite comfort food is cheese, and I’m lactose intolerant.

14. I buy every exercise magazine I can find and still haven’t lost a pound or found my six-pack abs. (Aren’t they supposed to work by osmosis?)

15. I self-medicate my high anxiety with wine.

16. Even though we all swear it will never happen to us, I’m sounding – and looking –more like my mother every day. (Wait ‘til your father gets home!)

17. I make To-Do lists all the time, but rarely get any of them done.

18. I’ve been studying Buddhism and Wicca, but can’t seem to let go of all that Catholic guilt. Drinking wine isn’t a sin, though, so I drink my guilt away;-) It’s not gluttonous if it only takes two drinks to make you tipsy, right?

19. The older I get, the less surprised I am at the atrocities people commit toward one another. As a child, I always figured that once people grew up, they knew how to behave properly towards others. My biggest shock in life was learning that adults could be just as childish, selfish and petty as children, and ALOT of them still didn’t know how to play nice.

20. Bullies piss me off. You push me, I’ll send you flying, buddy. You mess with the little guy, you’re gonna have to deal with one crank bitch.

21. I miss taekwondo. I think about it every day, and keep telling myself I have to go back soon…

22. I keep a list of all the books I’ve read over the last three years. I hated to pick up a book and start reading, only to find I already knew what was going to happen. And when you read as many books as I have, it happens more often than you’d think. (So many books, so little time.)

23. I hope (no, Cinette, the word is ‘WILL’). I will finish writing at least one novel by November so that I can participate in NANOWRIMO that month. I have two novels in progress as I write this.

24. I know for a fact that parenting is the most difficult job out there. Some days I wish I were a crocodile wrangler rather than a mother of four. It would be less stressful and more productive.

25.I will NOT be one of those moms that suffers empty nest syndrome, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m an introvert and my kids are all extroverts that drain my battery on a daily basis. I enjoy my own company, even if others don’t!

Friday, March 6, 2009

I've been poking and prodding at Witches for over a week now and can't seem to get it moving. I have a vague outline, and I know what happens further on, but I'm struggling with the story. I think I need to backtrack and piece in another subplot. It's hard to disrupt the flow of the story and add something new, but I have a feeling it needs another obstacle in her plan just to get through the day.

In Walter Mosley's This Year You Write Your Novel, he says you need to stay with the story every day. Even if you just reread it, you need to work with it every day to stay with it or you lose momentum. Guess what I did? Slacked off, then lost my...momentum. Poo. I hate it when adults are right;-)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Disclaimer

Any resemblance of these characters (Witches Don't Wear Socks) to children living in my house is purely coincidental.

Witches Don't Wear Socks: A peek

CHAPTER ONE

“Witches don’t wear socks!” I heard Raz yell. I opened my bedroom door to find
her standing at the top of the stairs with her hands on her hips and a wide banded
pointy hat on her head.
“I could dig out a pair of Grandma Stella’s itchy black wool stockings for you, if
you’d like,” Mom’s voice carried up the stairwell.
Raz gave a six year-old’s exaggerated huff. “I’ll find something else!” She turned
from the stairs and spotted me in my doorway. “What are you being for Halloween?”
“Me. What are you supposed to be?”
“A scary witch,” she cackled, raising her clawed hands next to her face.
“You don’t look very scary.”
“But YOU sure do,” she jabbed as she bolted for her room.
“OH! Burned by a six year-old! Slipping at your game, are you?” Cassy called
from the bathroom across the landing. She was applying mascara, and, of course,
was already dressed in her cheerleader uniform, and her long, dark hair was styled
into a cascade of ringlets. I hate morning people.
I dragged myself over to her. “She’s just lucky I’m not awake yet.” How’s that for
a sharp retort?
“Aren’t you going to dress up? The more people in your class that are in costume,
the more points your class makes, the closer you are to earning a class pizza party.”
“Oh. Yeah. A pizza party. In class. With a bunch of morons. Next time, maybe.”
“Where is your school spirit? I can’t believe you don’t get involved in ANY
school activities. What’s wrong with you?”
“I didn’t get that gene. Come to think of it, are we even related?” I squeezed
around her.
“I’m guessing not.” She closed the mascara tube.
“Wait! What the is that over there?” I pointed across in front of her to my
bedroom door.
“Where?”
As she turned to look, I gave her a shove, and slammed the bathroom door. “I
wouldn’t have fallen for that.” Then again, in our household, you never know what, or
who, could pop up out of nowhere.
If I were Cassy, I’d have convinced the door to melt if someone did that to me,
but I’m sure the thought never crossed her mind. Another reason to wonder if we really
were sisters.
“Alex is so mean.” I heard Raz comment outside the door.
“She’s just not a morning person, that’s all.” Ah, Cassy, forever the optimist.
“She’s not a day person, either.” Raz retorted.
That was quite true. I was a creature of the night. I spent most of my days
numbered among the walking dead. I never seamed to have any energy until the sun went
down.
“That was extremely rude, young lady. You should be treating your sisters better
than that. They will always be there for you, after all.” I looked over my shoulder in the
mirror to see my great grandmamma behind me, except she didn’t quite look like herself.
Did I mention that you never know who’ll pop up out of nowhere?
“See? Even an old gal like myself can get into the Halloween spirit.” She twirled around
to show off her flapper dress. And her flapper body. “I was a pretty hot chick in my
younger days, don’t you think?” She looked to be in her mid-twenties, her hair short and
dark and wavy, her skin smooth and rosy, her eyes bright blue and sparkling.
I shivered and made a face. I hated it when people shifted around into different
forms. I found it irritating. Another thing I couldn’t do. Of course, I wasn’t dead
yet, so there was hope for me yet.
“Don’t make such unbecoming faces. It might freeze like that!” Suddenly, her
great grandmamma face filled the entire mirror, every wrinkle and crevice
amplified. “BOO!”
Like I said, I hated it when people did that.
“But on a more serious note, I have a warning for you,” the huge face in the
mirror told me.
“Dress up for Halloween or I’ll be forced into a pizza party with my class?”
“Much more serious than that, I’m afraid.”
“What could be worse than that?”
“It’s Halloween, my sweet Alexandria, and the veil gets very thin on this day.”
“Tell me something I don’t know.”
“Enough with the attitude and quit interrupting. You are in danger, young lady.”
“Danger? What did I do now?”
She shook her head.” Just being who you are, I’m afraid.”
Enough said. Nothing good could ever come of being me.
“It’s also a new moon. That means the veil becomes even thinner. We will do
what we can from this side, but not all Aspects are under our control. And we have our
own battles to wager over here.”
“What, exactly, are you saying?”
“You, my sweet Alexandria, are a beacon in the dark to all that reside on this side
of the veil. Good and evil spirits and beings are drawn to you. And chances are that some
of those evil beings may make it through the extremely weak barrier that will result at
sundown tonight.
“Like I said, we will do what we can to keep them back, but you need to be wary.
Protect yourself, and ask your mother to perform some extra protection spells over you
before sunset tonight. Oh, and before I forget, Happy Birthday, My Sweet Alexandria. ”
Suddenly, it was my own reflection in the mirror, puffy eyes and spiky short dark hair
sticking out everywhere.
“Great. Another wonderful day to look forward to.”



After spiking my hair a little more and putting on my make up, pulling a black
sweater over my head and some black tights on, I headed straight to the coffee maker.
“What are you supposed to be?”
“Doesn’t anyone in this household say ‘Good Morning’, anymore?” I don’t know
why it even mattered to me, since I couldn’t manage good manners myself before
lunch, let alone proper etiquette.
“Good Morning, Alex,” cooed my mother snidely. “What are you supposed to be
dressed as this morning?”
“A fairy princess. Where’s the sugar?”
“Thought so. The black lipstick was a dead giveaway. How many times do I have
to tell you that stuff stunts your growth?”
“The lipstick or the sugar?”
“The coffee. You can’t afford to lose out in that department.”
“I believe it’s referred to as a ‘failure to thrive’, or so I’m told.”
“That’s a load of crap. You’re just petite, that’s all. That doctor was just trying to
find a way to blame me for your small size as a baby. You ate like a horse, just didn’t
sleep more than two or three hours a day. Without rest, it’s hard for a growing body to…
well, grow.”
“Don’t worry, I still blame you.”
Mom smacked my shoulder with the back of her hand.
“Hey! Hot stuff coming through! I want it on my insides, not my outsides. Is there
any bread left? I smell burnt toast.”
“That’s it there on the table.” Next to a jar of raspberry jam and a pot of honey
was a stack of almost black toast. Martha Stewart my mother wasn’t.
“How does the cereal situation look?”
“We’re out of milk. I need to pick up some groceries today.”
“So I’m guessing eggs and bacon with a side of pancakes is out of the question?”
“Hello? Are you dreaming? Time to wake up, birthday girl.”
I cringed. “I don’t do birthdays.”
“You’re too young to be trying to dodge them all ready. You’ll regret skipping
them, mark my words.”
Time to change the subject. “Where’s Dad?”
It was her turn to be uncomfortable. “I’m afraid he left early this morning. He had
to catch a flight to Ireland.”
“Ireland? But he just got home last week! And today’s… never mind.” How could
he skip out on my birthday? This was the one day he and I ignored Halloween together.
“It’s the gypsy in his blood. And it’s his job, Honey.” Then she quickly switched
topics. “Did you talk to Greta this morning?”
“I believe that’s ‘Great Grandmamma’ to you…wait – to me. Just ‘Grandmamma’
to you.” So much for trying sassy so early in the day. “Will you let me finish my coffee?”
“Did she warn you?”
“Yeah, yeah, got the message. Big bad bogeymen out to get me. Got it. Next
topic.” I plunked myself down at the table. “Better yet, no topic, just silence.”
“This isn’t a joke, Alex. How often do you get a visit from a dead relative?”
I gave her what I hoped was a persuasive deadpan stare.
“Okay, fine, I forgot for a minute who I was talking to. I mean how often do I get
a visit from a dead relative.”
“She came to you, too?” Okay, I’m a little slow on the uptake before my caffeine
infusion.
“She didn’t feel you would take her all that seriously.”
“I can take care of myself, Mom. I’ve been doing it for fifteen years, as of
sundown.”
“Sure you have. Up and running right from the womb. Your family is just a bunch
of white noise, stuff you have to put up with to get through the day, is that it?”
I got up from the table and headed out of the kitchen. “You didn’t even know it
was spirits that wouldn’t let me sleep as a baby. I had to learn to deal with it all by
myself. I’ll deal with whatever this world – or the next – has to throw at me, myself.”
“Is that what you’ve been doing?” A booming voice called from down the back
hall.
Crap. I had forgotten she was here. I had woke up Grandma Stella. She was less
of a morning person than I was. Birthday or no birthday, I was in for it.
Her thin, tiny frame came around the doorway of her room. If anyone looked like
a witch in this house this morning, it was Stella. Her long gray hair was mused and
matted, and wrinkles from her pillow still creased the left side of her face. “Don’t forget
that it was I that found the reason for your lack of sleep. You didn’t ‘deal’ with that issue
on your own, missy. Your parents’ concern for your situation brought me here to help
you. And now you’re of age to learn how to deal with your gift so you can do some good
in this world. That’s why I’m here. It’s time to start your training.”
I slipped on a pair of flip flops, grabbed a jacket off a hook and headed for the
door. “Sorry Grams, I gotta get to school. I don’t want to be late for class. Catch you
later, maybe.”
“It’s below freezing, outside! Why aren’t you wearing socks?”
“I hear witches don’t wear socks.”
“What is wrong with kids in this day and age?” Grams threw up her arms and
rolled her eyes.
Mom called out to me as I dashed out the door. “By the way, Happy Birthday, my
little witch.”
**********************
It was almost time. The shifting of energies, the alignment of the planets, the tension in the atmosphere. The vibrations were nearing a fevered pitch. The Collection was anxious to escape their horror-ridden confinement, pushing and scrambling, stretching against the barrier. A thunderous crack resounds, and chaos has broken through. Yes!

Revelations

I've been cruising around blog sites of other writers, agents, and others involved in the writing profession, and I'm reminded of my first revelation when I started university and had to choose my course load. There were courses listed of things I had never even heard of at the time. My revelation? I had no idea - until then - just how much I didn't know. Then, my biggest problem was narrowing down my course list to five subjects. (If you've read my notes on Facebook -25 Random Things - you'll learn that I'm an information whore.) I have a whole lot to learn - not just about writing, but marketing, networking, publishing, etc. And blogging. Lots of interesting author blogs out there, and I could spend all day reading them. But then I don't get any writing done;-).

I had a nightmare the other night that my 4 girls and I plus my eldest daughter's boyfriend spent the night in a haunted house. They all disappeared on me, even though I told them NOT TO MOVE. I woke in a sweat, and decided I needed to write the dream out in short story form, if only to work on putting more feeling into my writing. I'm a cold, shallow person by choice. My four teen daughters provide more than enough drama in our household, so I've adapted the analytical, level-headed role, which doesn't involve getting too worked up about anything. Hence, my writing may be a little cold, as well. Exercises, execises! Back to the drawing board.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Proof of My Existence

I've been flipping back and forth from Time Wardens to Witches Don't wear Socks.

I even started on a more therapeutic jaunt into a 'maybe-someday' piece about a young woman meeting a stranger in her taekwondo class and beating him down because her gut told her he was a predator. She'd met enough of them in her past. Off the top of my head, she's going to get obsessive and turn vigilante to prove her gut right. A bit like the IFC movie Hard Candy, I guess. Yes, obviously it's been done. But so have witches and time travel.

Nothing much else to report. Such is my exciting life. WAIT! I have an actual, living, breathing FOLLOWER!!! And she's not even a relative! Thank you, Christy. I no longer question my existence.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Plunking Along

I've been obsessing over Time Wardens, fiddling and tinkering...you know that thing they call revision. I want to put more info on the setting, add a little more internal rantings or flashbacks. I find I can't move on with the next scene -even though I know what happens in it - until I fix everything in the previous chapters. I guess I'm one of those writers that revises as they go; I can't just crank out a first draft and then go from there.

(I had a feeling that was how I would do things. I can't just tidy the house before guests arrive; it has to be spotless - vacuum out the closets, defrost the freezer kind of spotless. Unless the guests are family, then they get to see dirty dishes in my sink! Alas, they also see my rough drafts, my inbetween drafts, and the stuff that will never make it to the cutting room floor.)

I've been playing with the idea of putting in a couple of 'characters' that I know personally, and having them thinly veiled. See if I can get myself sued before I even get published!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Plugging Along

I dabbled with a new short story last week, but didn't get far with it.

But I did do some revisions on Witches Don't Wear Socks, today. I wanted to inject more of a romantic subplot into it, and I even added a new character, Grandma Stella. Even though I fiddled and tinkered, I didn't seem to get the page count up much. I do need to bulk it up a little more, though. She (Alex) needs to show more internal conflict. I need to do more YA reading, get myself into the teen girls' mindset. I only remember constantly second-guessing myself.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Officially in the Game

I did it. I entered the contest I found at Women on Writing. They accepted my piece, so they still had room in the contest. Now all I can do is wait. OR, I could find another contest or magazine looking for submissions, and get it together.

I also submitted my last assignment in the Extended Novel Writing Workshop, but it wasn't up to the full word count, nor was it on time. January has been a chaotic month, to say the least. I didn't even know what week it was there for awhile, let alone what day. I actually misplaced a week, somehow.

While sitting in the hospital waiting room all day yesterday (hubby was in for some tests) I finished a novel by a newcomer, Jocelynn Drake. Nightwalker, The First Dark Days Novel, makes for a good read. I've read other vampire stories that are so dark that it gets difficult for me to read them. But Drake does an excellent job of adding a little levity and some very interesting characters. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Progress

First thing this morning I dug up on old practice piece of fiction and started carving it up to fit the guidelines for a contest I found online. I'm going to enter it first thing tomorrow. I keep you posted on whether it gets accepted or not. They have a limit of 300 entries. I can even get it critiqued for an extra ten spot. Why not?

I also added another thousand or so words to one of my novels-in-progress, Time Wardens. All in all, a productive day for me, considering I spent all of yesterday just trying to open ANY microsoft document on my computer. I might have to think about reformating this old girl (shiver) or getting a new one.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Another Writing-Related Goal

A couple of my writing-related goals have to do with reading. Go figure. One is to read a writing magazine at least once a week. I subscribe to Writers Digest, The Writer magazine and try to pick up The Writers' Journal whenever I can.
This week, I read The Writers' Journal for Jan/Feb 09. The articles on snazzy first lines,the elements of story and how to pitch your book were helpful. But the contest winning short stories came up short, in my opinion. I guess I'd better get to work and see if I can do any better. So, there is one contest (or more) that I can enter this year; The Writers' Journal sci-fi/fantasy contest, deadline Nov. 30. Also, they have a fiction contest deadline -oops- today, and a short story contest deadline March 30. Things to consider.
Another writing-related goal is to read a writing-based book at least once a month. This month, I read Writing is a Verb by Bill O'Hanlon. It's definately different from other writing books I've read. As a therapist/writer, O'Hanlon has a unique slant on his approach to the writing life. "Disregard your feelings." Forget about being in the mood. Just get on with it. O'Hanlon provides some exercises to help you find what's standing in your way and finding what works for you - not everyone else - to get the writing done. I liked his no-nonsense approach; Sit Down. Start Writing. No Excuses.
So, if you'll excuse me, I have some writing to do.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Off I Go

I hit the big 4-0 yesterday.
Now, I have a LIFE LIST of things I planned to do while on this particular earthbound trip, and a number of them were supposed to be completed by my 40th birthday. Like that Taekwondo blackbelt. I got halfway, but then couldn't find the time or energy to fit it in anymore.
... And that pesky business of becoming a published writer. That particular calling has kept me up many a night over the years. I even try to convince myself that I just loved books so much, I only thought I wanted to write them. Funny, I can usually convince myself of numerous fallicies, but that one didn't get off the ground. So I started taking online courses and tried a creative writing course at the college.
I now have two novels in-medias-res, and an assortment of short stories started. The next step-finishing SOMETHING, then submitting. I have that perfectionist streak in me that has me revising and revising and revising again, never sure if it's just right yet.
I've vowed to enter 4 contests in the next 6 months. That gives me time to revise to my heart's content, and still make some progress. Keep on me, keep me focused.