Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WEP: BACK OF THE DRAWER




I haven't participated in Write..Edit..Publish (hosted by Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee) in a while. I've been busy off-line. Or, just busy with nothing important to anybody except me.

I had an idea in mind for WEP February post, love and mayhem of course, but then a song got stuck in my head, which probably went well with love and mayhem (You Don't Own Me) and oddly enough a feel-good song (Life In A Northern Town) uploaded on the u-Tube play list and I changed my mind about the WEP concept.  I should be writing a Valentines Day theme, but I'm a cynic, especially when it comes to romantic love.

Anyway, Here's my contribution to WEP; BACK OF THE DRAWER prompt; a 1000 word flash fiction titled TOWNIE. Click here for blogfest details and other participants.

TOWNIE

The whole town turned out to help pack up. Not literally the whole town; but everyone that anyone would know.

Jackie Downs who owned Towne Cafe, and her wife and two adopted children. Cindy Foster, head nurse at the ER; Jacob Mears, Cruz Santos and Jeremy Hollister from the volunteer fire department. And the Hostler sisters, Maris and Berdine, head of every social or charitable organization in Oxford County, or so it seemed.

There were so many people crowding the halls, rooms, garage and lawns that plain old Susan Gumms didn't know where in her parent’s house she could catch her breath. Or how to ask for two minutes with all the objects being boxed and carted to a 24 foot moving van.

"No, no," she commanded breathlessly, racing into the kitchen as she spotted Cindy Foster tugging noisily at the top drawer of a cabinet next to the sink. "That drawer contains things that aren't related to the kitchen. I'd like to go through it myself if you don't mind."

Cindy looked up and frowned, wisps of her brown hair artfully framing her perfectly painted face. "Its just a junk drawer Suz. Every house has one."

“Yes, I know. But I want to go through this one myself. Please."

Susan put two hands on the drawer as Cindy gave it another yank.

"But -"

"Ease up Cindy," said a deep male voice from behind Susan. "Let the girl have a say over one thing in her childhood home."

Susan turned to see a tall, muscular man in orange shirt and blue jeans leaning against the door frame between the kitchen and dining room.

"Peter Jennings, are you implying that -"

"Yes I am," Peter said, peeling himself off the door frame and legging his way to Susan's side. "Whatever it is you are implying, I'm saying."

"Well, I never."

"Sure you have." Peter cocked his head and gave a sly wink to Susan as Cindy tugged on her silk blouse and stalked out the back door.

To have a cigarette, Susan imagined. One of those secrets that the whole town knew about but pretended not to notice.

"Thank you," Susan said as she leaned over the half open drawer.

"For what?"

Susan tried to close it, but the drawer wouldn't budge. Tugging it open more didn't work either.

"Well, he-"

"Let me try," Peter said, laying his hands on hers. "I have experience with immovable objects."

Susan quickly moved away, but not before the warmth of his light touch ignited years of forgotten passion. She was a nerdy girl of fifteen, running from the taunts of the popular girls. Strands of her brown hair escaped the pigtails she'd bound her hair in. Rain obscured the well used path through the woods behind her home, and although not in danger of getting permanently lost in the copse of trees, she'd made the attempt to hide out in places even her twin brother hadn't discovered yet.

Peter knew the woods better than anyone except his father, a Forest Ranger and head of the local search and rescue. She had fallen, was covered in mud and shivering from cold and embarrassment. Peter had smiled, brushed the moss from her hair and wrapped her in his coat.

An annoyance before, she’d fallen instantly in love with the boy who rescued her. Her brother’s best friend, who always treated her like a sister. Even through college, where she never seemed to lose her geeky awkwardness, he’d come to her rescue t unexpected moments when her brother’s football teammates would get too fresh, or the sorority girls’ teasing became too cruel.

“Townies gotta stick together,” he say, usually with a soft kiss to her cheek or forehead.

Children’s screams from outside nearly drowned out his soft curse. “What the heck is in here Suz? Its stuck pretty tight.”

She bent over the drawer, nearly bumping heads with him as she reached a slender hand into the half open drawer.

“Careful,” he cautioned as she jerked her fingers out of the drawer.

“Uhm,” she mumbled, putting her bleeding index finger into her mouth.

She looked around guiltily, not wanting every medic in the house to come offer a band aid. She was grateful for all the help and concern, but it was becoming overwhelming. She worried they would all want to follow the moving van to her apartment in the city and try to unload it all. Maybe hang out and hear her father’s talk about the good old days on the force. And then they’d again offer condolences on her mother’s death, share hospital stories of their own.

Which naturally would lead to pity and further speculation regarding her brother’s tragic death in the fire two years ago. She didn’t have the heart for reminiscing and all that smothering concern.

“Let me see.”

She hesitated, and Peter gently tugged her finger out of her mouth.

“Pretty deep. Come here, lets rinse it off for a better look.” He led her to the sink, an arm around her waist as he held her hand in the air.

She winced when the cold water hit the cut. “Just a scratch.” She swooned a little, remembering how often she’d wished he would hold her close like this, like the first time she’d fallen for him. He looked up from her finger as a series of exaggerated grunts and groans mingled with a woman’s shouts to be careful.

“That sounds like my wife,” he said, a smile lighting his face. “In here Judith. Wait, go see if the bathroom medicine cabinet has been packed up yet. Should be some gauze and antiseptic in there.”

“Is it bad,” the blond woman said with a frown. She looked to be about seven months pregnant, the weight not slowing down her long strides at all.

“Hardly worth a band aid,” Susan assured the woman.

She pulled her hand out of Peter's and stepped out of his embrace. The magic of Peter’s touch had worn off with his wife’s appearance. He had never looked at Susan with such warmth, and in truth, she’d stopped chasing him during their sophomore year in college. She had let the tequila convince her to kiss him at an after game party, and it had felt like kissing her brother.

“I think there’s a first aid kit in that drawer.”

Judith went to the drawer, shook it when it wouldn’t budge, then gently pushed it closed. It slid out smoothly with her next try.

“This must be what cut you,” Judith said, removing a large, broken, plastic heart from the back of the drawer.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

IWSG: The Writing Reader

Hey Y'all

How's the year treating you so far? January went by so slowly for me, but it seems I never found the time to get back online after last month's IWSG. This may be a long post; never know when I'll post again, but I have several uncompleted blogging tasks from last month. Feel free to skim and read only what tweaks your interest.



This month's Insecure Writers Group question is: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader? That works perfectly with the incomplete tasks from last month because there were a couple book reviews I wanted to post. Lets see if I can make this concise yet informative.

Before I started taking my writing whims seriously (about 10 years ago), I think I was your average slow but voracious reader. I liked series books, mostly sci-fi/fantasy and horror/thriller, but a good adventure with likeable characters was all that was needed to keep my interest. Typo's have always bugged me, but I never cared if the story was believable (plausible), had any structure, was historically accurate, used cliche phrases. I never assessed a book for anything except pure entertainment value.

Would I love to have those happy book reading days back? Absolutely! Its so rare to just lose myself in a story - let alone stick out an entire series. I seem to be in constant critic mode, analyzing everything from POV, writing style, depth of character arcs, plausibility, factual accuracy (creative license only gets so much leeway), genre tropes. But most of all: originality.

I know, there is almost no original story concept to write about. When I wrote my first novel I thought it was unique because I'd never read any fiction like it. Turns out there is a whole genre of fiction dedicated to the concept, I'd just never read it. I've spent a few years reading in the women's fiction genre, and revising the book (now a trilogy) so that it meets the genre standards, but has some original scenes and twists. Its not easy.

Genre criteria is an area I pay close attention to now in books I read. Its an obsession; not always a good one. But it has allowed me to expand my reading into multiple genre's, just to see how other authors tackle the complex issues of being unique yet standard.

For instance, I've never been much of a romance reader - I was in my early teens (1980's) when I discovered ALL romance novels have the same themes. Men are drop dead gorgeous, rich jet setter play-boys (or spies); women are slightly ditzy yet beautiful, usually poor, swept off their feet by nothing more than a stunning smile and expensive gifts; and lots of long looks and life threatening rescues occur to seal the romance. Got boring quickly. I learned not to like HEA (happily ever after) endings.

Then I learned there were several categories of romance (and wouldn't you know, women's fiction nudges into that niche) and I kinda like some of them. A friend of mine gave me a Regency Romance book after learning I sometimes enjoy Historical and Regency's. The book was THE SUBSTITUTE BRIDEGROOM, written by Charlotte Louise Dolan.

I enjoyed the book; a light hearted, humorous, emotional, period romance that doesn't miss a single criteria beat. Yet, from the opening scenes, a curricle race between two English "gentlemen" that ends in a spectacular crash and the scarring of a beautiful society lady, I was drawn in by the authentic language (vernacular) and setting, the strength of the Hero's character, and the smooth and progressive flow of the story. Some of the secondary characters (the villains who strive to keep the two love interest from truly falling for each other) were too obviously written as props to provide character growth for the two main characters; but I did enjoy the banter and devious antics.

And of course, the chemistry between the Captain and his complacent bride when they actually had scenes together. There was just enough tragedy to keep the expected happy ending from being too cloying, and just enough humor to allow forgiveness for over-writing the selfishness of the villains. I recommend this book to true fans of classic romance.

I read several of the other reviews of this novel (after writing mine), and I was shocked at how many reviews stated that this was nothing new, same old same old for its genre. The oldest review was dated in 2011 after a re-release of her novels, but I believe the original publication date was (Signet) 1991. Most of the reviews were dated 2013 and later. I mention this only because it goes with my assertion that some publication criteria for genre's haven't changed over the last - what, maybe 30 years? Maybe more. And I wonder, if general public reviews were as easily submitted in 1991, if this novel would have gotten the same customer reviews?

I suppose this is why there are so many new genre's opening up. Readers and authors looking to expand on the "tried and true" with some new twists.

Another book I read that tweaked my reader/writer critic was PERSONAL, by Lee Child. Now I have to admit that I like Jack Reacher movies better than the novels (nope, don't care about Tom Cruise's politics or religion, he's a good actor and that's all that matters to me in a movie); but that's because I have a hard time following all the intrigues and techno writing in the books. I liked Lee Child's books NOTHING TO LOSE and WORTH DYING FOR, even though I thought they were just a tad over-written (wordy), so when I was looking for an audio book on CD, I at least knew I liked Lee Child so took a chance on PERSONAL.

The story hooked me right away, but it did not take long for the writing to become repetitive, and info dumpy. By half way through the novel, I felt as if the author was both dumbing down the writing for readers (like me) who have a hard time following complex plots with over explanations and repeats of plot points (investigation progress) so far. Then, it seems the author was pleased with himself regarding all the research that went into the bullet proof glass that was the main subject of the plot, and several times spent pages and pages explaining every aspect of the technology and its development.

Boring. Had I been reading an actual paper (or electronic) book, I would have been skipping pages. As a reader - and perhaps because I'm also a writer - I'm unreasonably offended by an author who feels they have to over-explain a story concept/plot for the reader to "get it."

Over the summer I beta-read a novel for a friend, and my biggest critique was the amount of info dump on every nuance/scene. Yet, here is a best selling author doing the same info dump and repetitive summations that I advised against for a novice author. As a reader (which influences me as an author) I want to get the gist of the concepts through context. As in, if the author can't give me a basic visual within a couple sentences, maybe a paragraph, then I'm pretty sure I'm not the target audience. What I liked about Ms Dolan's novels - although not totally my preferred genre - is that I could understand all the unfamiliar terminology within the context of the story. She trusted her reader, unlike Mr Child.

Did I get off topic? Sorry. This has taken me several days to write. I spent last weekend in Salt Lake City, and had the privilege of visiting with Michael Offutt, who unluckily purchased a gorgeous home that currently has no internet connection, so he has sadly been offline since November. Always a pleasure to hang with Mike, and of course the IWSG question of the month came up. His paraphrased opinion is essentially: how can it not affect your reading opinions?  We had a lively discussion over dinner at Olive Garden about whether ALL author's reading have been affected by their writer knowledge, or if some authors still read with the same enthusiasm and wonder for the written word as before..

So tell me: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

Please be sure to thank your IWSG host (by visiting the blog) Alex J Cavanaugh; and this months co-hosts Misha Gerrick, LK Hill, Juneta Key, Christy, and Joylene Butler.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG- Another new year

Bye bye 2016, Hello 2017

Over the last month I've heard a lot of complaints about how bad the year 2016 has been, and many predictions for a worse 2017. In the US, I imagine most of that has to do with the disappointments of The Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) and the election. And the escalating terrorism. These things disturb me also. But, since I'm not in a position affect any changes to these very large issues, I just accept them, and concentrate on my own life. Pacifist, I know.

I've had so many life changes over the last couple years, my priorities have drastically altered.

2016 wasn't such a bad year for me. Life has become steady, manageable. Even FUN. I'm enjoying my new career, I love the traveling. I'm reconnecting with family. And while I did not have any publications, I did more writing than in 2015. Hopefully, I'll write more in 2017, and perhaps have a publication or three. One can dream, lol.

Congratulations to everyone accepted into this year's IWSG Anthology. Well done.



As with any activity, writing comes with rules, and rule books. When I first started seriously writing about ten years ago I read a lot of books on writing. And a lot of blogs about writing rules. For a while, I tried to follow them all. The more rules I read, the more they became contradictory to each other. Eventually I discovered that there are very few rules that cover everything - every genre, writing style, or publishing media. I learned to research the "guidelines" specific to the genre of whatever story I'm writing, and where I hope to publish it.

This month's IWSG question is: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

Oh my, let me count them, lol. Actually, I've forgotten most. But there is one that pretty much applies to every form of writing and goes something like: Do not re-query an Agent/Agency with a work that they rejected. Unless the rejection came with an invitation to rewrite and resubmit.

My writing has come a long ways since I queried my first novel. I'd like to go back and resubmit the new version of that novel to a couple of the Literary Agencies that rejected it. Perhaps the rewrites would gain some interest. Its been ten years since that first round of queries. The novel (now a trilogy) like me as an author, is unrecognizable from its original version.

Rules were made to be broken; perhaps one day I'll break this one. What's one more rejection against the possibility of acceptance.

Even the Insecure Writers Support Group comes with rules.

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And to thank and link to your host Alex J Cavanaugh, and this month's co-hosts: Eva @ Lilicasplace, Crystal Collier, Sheena-kay Graham,Chemist Ken, LG Keltner, and Heather Gardner.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! See y'all around the blogs.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

RESCUE ME


I wasn't gonna post the rest of the year since Nov IWSG, but this incident just needed addressed.

Yesterday I was rescued by a very nice young man in Idaho. I ran out of gas on I-15/86 between Pocatello and Burley/Heyburn. If you've ever been through that stretch of interstate you know how far it is between gas stations. Yes, I was stupid for not filling up in Idaho Falls; 26 degrees, I was running late, and thought I could make it to Burley.

Less than 7 miles from my end destination (Loves Travel Stop, Burley) my car sputtered, and died on the interstate. Those advertisements for 50 miles on empty doesn't go as far at 80 mph as it does at 55. About 30 seconds (yes, less than a minute) into my walk up the I-86 a car pulls over and the driver asks me "do you need help?"

I gave him and his car a long assessment before I answered yes and asked if he would give me a lift to the nearest gas station.

"No problem," he said.

Mr Nice was named Jason and he was 21 years old. He was on his way to Boise to visit family and friends on his University break; he'd been back home in Idaho Falls for three months from a 2 year LDS mission in Mexico City. Friendly, talkative, enthusiastic about his religion and upcoming University semester (majoring in Denistry). He expounded on his personal and spiritual growth during his mission, and I was eager to hear his story. I have rarely met such a well rounded and grounded young person. His open personality intrigued me to listen to him. (I'm a social worker, remember? Curiosity comes natural to me.) I was sorry to see our time end.

He not only drove me to the nearest gas station, but also drove me back to my car with my 2 gallons of gas (to get five miles down the road) and figured out the gas nozzle thingy that environmentalists have installed to make emergency roadside gas fill ups - whatever! We spilled at least a quarter of the gas on ourselves and the ground in the learning process, but he finally figured out how to get it to work. After all that trouble, he refused all forms of payment I could offer.

A true hero who rescued an old lady on the side of the road simply because he could. My life has been enriched by the 40 minutes I spent with this marvelous individual. I would have liked to hear more of his Mission adventures, but we each had separate lives to attend to.

Thank you Jason. God bless you and keep you safe in your future journey. Because of your thoughtful intervention, I was able to complete my own business mission and move along in my journey home.


If you've read this far, maybe you'll read a bit further. . .

You see this post and maybe think, "sheesh, so he gave a ride to a fat old chick on the road. What's the risk in that? What makes this a 'moment' for him to brag about?"

Well, as a road traveler; I can tell you its a big risk to pick up anyone on the road, regardless of the circumstances. In today's world, you never know when your generosity, your faith in humanity, might get you shot. Or robbed or raped; murdered and drug off to be buried and never found again. You think I exaggerate?

I'm not against gun toting Americans. Sometimes, ya just gotta protect yourself and your loved ones. And maybe armed America is what literally keeps the bad guy countries from invading us. I don't carry a gun cuz I'd likely shoot myself, or get it taken away by a perpetrator and get shot with my own gun. Some people just aren't meant to carry weapons. We're meant to kiss ass to those that know what they're doing. I married a guy like that. I have friends like that. I am not ashamed of my lack of Annie Oakly skills. I'll befriend Carol, Maggie and Rosita on TWD if the world comes to that.

Some people are wimps; some people need to protect wimps. Just call me Eugene!

I worry about nice guys and weirdo's though in today's society. There are idiots out there who think the right to carry a gun gives them the right to shoot it at anybody who pisses them off or doesn't agree with their world views. The beautiful kid that rescued me took a big risk that I wasn't an idiot with a gun. Yes, I thank him, but also worry about him. Next time, he may be rewarded with a gun to his head. A good guy doing the right thing; being taken advantage of by a self absorbed criminal. The world can be insane like that.

I've rescued some people along the road myself. People standing next to their car, waving down help on the freeway/interstate. (I did not ask for help, I just walked and hoped for a police man.) I've traveled enough to know where cell phone and internet service is non-existent. I've made snap decisions to assist, and so far, its all been paying it forward to this day when I needed a trusting person to stop for me.

You may not get how momentous this rescue was for me, or for this young man. We both lived through it. I could have gotten into the car with a serial killer. He could have picked one up. Trust, faith, belief in humanity is most often rewarded with criminal activity or death in today's world. If you've ever considered stopping for someone stranded beside the road, and felt guilty when you did not, perhaps you'll have an insight of how difficult the decision to be a caring human being is these days.

Its a huge risk. There is no shame (in my opinion) in driving by. You just never know. Ask the two cops who got killed sitting in their squad car drinking coffee and shooting the breeze about nothing important to anybody but them.

Life can be dangerous and risky. But sometimes, its beautiful and fulfilling.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

IWSG: FAVORITE PART OF WRITING

Hey Everyone **waves** I'm on the road and forgot to schedule a post, so this will be really short and sorry about no links. Internet is crappy.


November already; time for turkey and family get-togethers. Yipeee!!! And NaNoWriMo. Wow, I'd forgotten about that one. I think this will be my last post for the year, just so much going on in life, and I'm hoping lots of people are also taking time off to spend with family and stuff. And writing, of course.

This month the IWSG asked what our favorite part of writing is. For me, its all about the research. I seem to need to research every little thing that comes up. Names, settings, genre's, the price of tea in Boston at the time of the Tea Party - although I've never had a need for this interesting tidbit. Sometimes I think I start a writing project so I have an excuse to sift through meaningless information. *sighs*

You can congratulate me on getting my story wrote and submitted for this year's Anthology. Yay me!! Got it done on the last possible day, mostly because I'm an expert procrastinator; and guess what tops my list of favorite procrastination activities? Yep, research. Had to find just the right Welsh names, some Tuatha De deities, the right location, scary little creatures, when the winter/spring solstice is. All kinds of stuff that, had I just written the story and cleaned it up with those minor details in the editing/revision phase, kept the story from just flowing.

I do enjoy writing, creating characters and situations for them to work through, and I think I'm better at the editing/revision stuff (fill in details and flesh out characters/plots); but really, I love the excuse to look up stuff on the internet.

Good luck to everyone who submitted an entry to the anthology. And also, happy writing to all those participating in NaNo this year.

Thank you to Alex Cavanaugh and his helpers for hosting this months Insecure Writers Support Group. I'll be visiting around as I can.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What its like when I'm writing

This is how I feel when I'm actually writing something for publication - not for blogger post. Which is why I've been internet/blogger silent the last few weeks.




Do you crawl in a cave when you're writing on a new idea?

Friday, October 21, 2016

IF I WERE A MOBSTER; 30 SECONDS BEFORE blogfest



30 SECONDS BEFORE BLURB:

Blake Herro is a cop in the Cleveland Police Force. Ever since he was a child he wanted to do right by the city he loved by cleaning up the streets and protecting its citizens. Red, a notorious mobster, has other plans.

On a bitter December night, ten police officers are drawn into a trap and killed by Red’s followers. Blake wants to bring down the Mob to avenge his fallen brothers and to prevent other cops from being murdered. Except the only way he can do that is by infiltrating the Mob.

Every minute he’s with these mobsters he’s in danger. Around every corner lies the threat of coming face to face with a gun. Will he make it out of the Mob alive or will he be their next victim?

BUY LINKS:



To celebrate, 30 Seconds, the follow up story, is on sale for 99 cents!


Sale Oct. 21st – Nov. 4th

SALE LINKS:



BIO:

Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series (Hurricane Crimes and Seismic Crimes), as well as these releases from The Wild Rose Press: 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter



Well, if I were a mobster, I'd probably be a pretty poor one. My lack of depth perception would keep me from being an assassin: can't hit a target even standing a few feet away, no matter how large it is. I was in the Air Force, and during basic training they have no clue where all the bullets went I fired. Although that was a lifetime ago, I've shot enough pool (billiards) and darts to know my aim is still lousy. And, I'm not a very good thief or liar. Lets face it, I've spent my career in the helping services for a reason.

However, for the sake of this blogfest, and diving completely into this fictional personae, let me come up with a semi-badass profile.

My Mobster Name:Veda. According to she knows baby names, people named Veda have a desire for stable family and community relationships; love working with others; are adventurous, flexible, rebellious, optimistic, intelligent, friendly, and energetic. And untidy (keep your mitts off my desk and out of my closets). Some of these traits already fit me - but this is mostly who I'd like to be.

My Rank: hmm, not "the boss" but high enough "the boss" relies on me and everyone below caters to my whims to garner favors.
Crime Zone: somewhere north-west - I like moderate to cold weather.

My Look/Disguise: mini skirts, stilletto's and a loooooong jacket. Red hair, tall, alluring


Weapon of Choice: Information. I'm chief of the spy ring and know everything about everyone. If that doesn't get the job done - poison. I may be environmentally untidy, but intellectually I hate loose ends.

Mobster Vehicle:1962 Shelby Cobra: sporty, sexy, spirited, fast . . .


What I’m Known For: Queen of knowledge, effective use of information. I can make or break your mobster/political/military career with a word in the right ear. I can smell a fraud from a third-world country away. I'm a collector of beautiful things - and beautiful people. I can't be bought, but I can be rented; except for a very few loyalties. "Family" is forever.

My Catch Phrase: Copy that!

The Name of my Mob Leader: "The Boss." Few know who this person actually is, and fewer have actually met - - Her.

I've always been drawn to the spy rings (guilds) in all my favorite fantasy adventures. Really, how does anything get done without effective use of information (gossip)? My mobster self is intelligent, resourceful, outgoing, connected, and oh so indispensable. With the right information leaks, you don't need a gun of any size to kill people.

So, who's your mobster self?

Now please hop around to the other participants: