Humping The Hump Day

Hear that?

It’s the sound of my self-inflicted deadline whooshing by. I missed it by three chapters — no excuses, just paying work has to take priority, gods rot it.

I’d set another goal, but I hate the sound of them as they collapse.

I don’t want to rush it because I don’t want to get sloppy just because I want to finish to make a deadline I set myself just to prove a point.

Still, I am a little upset with myself. Still, only three chapters to go, and I’ll get there.

****

That’s the deal. I’d write more, but if I don’t hump this hump day there won’t be a paycheck or worse — there won’t be a Friday Flash Fiction.

Horrors! 😉

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Long Time — Friday Flash Fiction

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This piece was inspiration for the WIP (now working on Chapter 22, can you say hallelujah?), but more for the “voice” than the actual story, although one of the characters does make an appearance, and their storyline is slated for one of the books in the series (did I just say “series”?? Someone call the men in the white jackets with the good drugs!). I take names and their meanings very seriously, if you want a clue.

This was also the result of a writer’s prompt — the cliched phrase that’s used as the opening. I know it’s generally frowned upon to start a story with dialog, but sometimes it just fits.

Titles are important in flash, and I think this one implies a lot more than the simplicity indicates.

Long Time

“Long time, no see,” she said.

Upon hearing that voice, my whole body stiffened, including Mr. Happy. What can I say? I’m a guy, and that’s what happens to guys when a beautiful Goddess sneaks up behind you and whispers something like that in your ear.

I didn’t turn, because I didn’t want her to see how she could still affect Mr. Happy that way. Although, I’m pretty sure she was more than aware.

“Lilith. Wouldn’t you know it. I knew this was going to be one of those days when I cut myself shaving.”

“Aw, Samuel,” she breathed in my ear. I could feel the heat of her body steaming. Christ, what did I do to deserve this? Okay, I should probably go to church every Sunday, but it’s not like I kick puppies or slap old ladies. “You’ve missed me, I can tell.” Her evil chuckle, for some reason, made Mr. Happy even more happy. Shit.

I resumed bussing the table and tried to speak as if all the blood in my body had not just pooled into my groin area. “Nope. Haven’t spared you a thought since…well, since the last time I saw you. Whatever you want, I’m not interested. See ya.” I wiped off the table and picked up the tub of dirty dishes and finally turned with the tub strategically placed for maximum coverage.

She looked exactly the same. The woman oozes sensuality like a fat man sweating in a sauna. It should be illegal, and I expect it is in many states. Including my state of confusion and arousal. “Go on. Leave me alone, I’m not interested. Once was enough.” I attempted to push by her, but she put her hand on my arm, stopping me dead in my tracks. What’s a guy to do, I ask you?

“Please. Just five minutes. Surely you have a break coming.” She batted her eyelashes, the green of her eyes sparkling like shards of glass. Then, she smiled. Oh, shit. I could feel the swelling of Mr. Happy becoming painful, and I almost dropped the tub of dishes. I didn’t even hear the clattering of the diners anymore, and I think I might have drooled. Just a little, though.

I never thought I’d say this, but thank the Gods my boss came walking up. “What’s goin’ on here? C’mon Sam, there’s three tables at station 12 that need…oh.” First time I’ve ever seen the old bastard derailed. It was kind of funny, actually. “Who’s this pretty lil’ girl?” Hah. If he only knew.

“Lilith, meet Bob. Bob, Lilith.” I took advantage of the distraction to ease around the two of them, leaving Bob to Lilith’s tender mercies. She never could resist an easy mark, as I knew all too well. I took off for the kitchen, tossed the tub of dishes in the sink and shed the crummy apron. On my way out the door for the last time, I saw Lilith draw Bob over to a quiet spot of the restaurant, and counted my blessings.

The bus station is just down the street. I’m on the very first one out of here, destination unknown and I don’t care. Oh, she’ll find me again. But, just because you have a Goddess hunting you down doesn’t mean you have to make it easy for her.

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Long Overdue Link Love

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a link love post, and my bookmarks are out of control. So much linky goodness out there, and I love to share.

Help And News For Writers

As a writer, at some point you’re going to need a Facebook Fan Page for your best-selling novel, right? How do you do that? This article gives you the basics, and it’s never too early to start. For the hardy souls who are thinking of attempting the madness that is NaNoWriMo this year (yes, I may be one of them, depending on circumstances) I found this article with helpful links and David Wilson seems very approachable if you have any questions that aren’t answered by his most excellent blog.

For my non-fiction friends, it helps to have more than one weapon in your arsenal, as we all know. Here is a simple guide to writing white papers that makes it look easy. Follow the steps, and it is.

Self publishing is a hot topic everywhere, it seems, and Editor Unleashed explores this topic and much more. There’s also information how to use Twitter to your best advantage, how to write a query letter, and tips on good blogging practices.

If you’re interested in the path to publication, visit Barry Lyga. In two parts, he lays it on the line and tells you how it is. Eye-opening and valuable information here you really need to know before you embark on that journey.

Rober Kahn reports in an interesting case about author Elaine Scott suing Scribd for copyright infringement. This could have huge repercussions on the digital publishing field, so it’s a case you might want to keep your eye on.

The Urban Muse, voted one of the best websites for writers by Writer’s Digest, is chock full of tips, tricks, and inspiration regarding writing copy and blogging. Even if you’re familiar with some of the material, there’s always something new, or an angle you may have missed in the information presented.

If you’re stuck for inspiration, visit the Schenectady Steeple and roll the bones.

The Odd And Teh Funny

I’m a redhead, so I have a soft spot for redheads. This particular Ranting Redhead cracks me up, especially when she goes off on panties. You have to read it, really. Hilarious.

Although I love cake, I would not be able to eat any of these cakes. Just sayin’.

This is another reason I’m glad I don’t work with other people anymore. Srsly. Although the last scenario made me laugh pretty hard. She was so worried about her hair!

Speaking of eating, this website made me laugh so freaking hard I couldn’t breathe. This guy is not only hysterically funny, he’s crazier than a shithouse rat. Lord have mercy.

Last but not least, the wookie’s got moves! Who knew?

Don’t forget to stop by Friday for #fridayflash for some flashing goodness. Next weekend I hope to be posting a very interesting interview with a musician who has found a unique way of channeling his storytelling abilities. He’s got some entertaining insights and some really great ideas about the leverage of social networking you might find helpful in your own writing endeavors.

Never a dull moment. Okay, maybe there’s a few. But thanks for reading and sticking with me anyway. :)

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A Dichotomy of Hearts – Flash Fiction Friday

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It’s #FridayFlash! Check out the link for even more flashy goodness and visit the House of Archives. Please visit these talented writers, and leave some comment love if you are so moved. This is a very talented bunch, and you’re sure to find something that speaks to you.

Enjoy the scenery.

****

I wrote this as an experiment in literary devices. Not that I’m literary, but it seemed like a fun idea to play around with some of the toys laying around that I normally don’t think of when I’m actually writing. This piece has gone through several edits, and I really struggled with a title. I’ll let you decide if I got it right.

****

She’s lonely and she doesn’t want to be lonely. You look at her and see a successful, sexy woman with a hard exterior and that’s all you see. You don’t see the little girl inside whose daddy didn’t think she was good enough, or whose mother was eternally disappointed and indifferent by turns. She hides the damage done by the nasty “uncles” that came and went and by the bad choices made for her and the ones she made for herself. You see the chip on her shoulder but not the huge wound in her heart. You don’t think she has a heart.

Why should you see it? She doesn’t see it herself, and she has been building the layers, one at a time since she can remember. The layer of sarcasm, of indifference, the layer of cruelty all building up until she can’t feel anything anymore.

The little girl cries inside, inconsolable and alone.

“I love you” is meaningless and there is no such thing as permanence.

#

He sees her from across the bar, a cigarette in one hand and a martini in the other. She looks provocative; he takes a chance, little knowing she eats his kind for breakfast. His pick-up line is neither original nor funny.

She takes his measure through slitted eyes and watches him squirm. She isn’t afraid he will walk away; to the contrary, she knows she’s even more of a challenge in his eyes and she yawns. She is so bored by it all, the same routine. They’re all alike.

His ego stung by the yawn, he blurts out the unforgivable:

“What has happened to make you so cruel?”

She freezes, her eyes locked on to his. The jukebox blares on, unheard by either of them. He looks deep, and she flinches. He sees too much; that too is unforgivable. She’s angry with herself for being caught off-guard. She tries to tell him to move on, but to her horror, the words are stuck in her throat and won’t come loose.

He asks her to dance.

They move to the dance floor as if in a dream. She breathes in his scent. It triggers a feeling that is unfamiliar and yet most familiar; she avoids categorizing it, sensing it’s dangerous to do so. The arms around her are warm and comforting.

He’s careful to make no threatening moves. It’s rather like holding a tiny sparrow in his hands, and he sees her heart beating in the hollow of her throat. He’s intrigued and curious; she’s frozen and bewildered.

The music envelops them and she closes her eyes. He holds a little tighter and she allows this. The swaying motion is soothing to her, and she decides to enjoy it this once, for the moment. She lets her head drop to his shoulder.

For some reason his heart thumps in answer. He’s touched and somehow knows how difficult this is for her. He wonders what life has done to her to make her so afraid and raw. He’s unsure if he wants to know. He feels if he gives his heart to this one, she’d shred it without thinking twice, instinctively, and may or may not be sorry later.

She’s hoping the only thing he is after is what’s between her legs, and not between her ears or in her heart. She’s hoping that this longing for something indefinable by her standards will pass with another martini, or two, or six. The music ends; they stand locked in their embrace for a few beats longer, then part. She avoids his gaze and walks slowly back to the bar, wondering what to do. She knows deep down what she is going to do, struggling with what deep down in her heart she wishes she could do.

He follows her back to the bar, watching her hips swaying and her hair moving gently across her shoulders. He’s remembering a girl he once knew, a girl who needed something at one time and couldn’t find it with him. This girl finally found what she needed in a bottle of pills and a quart of vodka. The young man of yesterday dreams of redemption. He’s thinking over what he should do, struggling with what he knows he could do.

They take their seats at the bar. He studies her face and she avoids his gaze. She looks at the bartender and gives a tiny nod of her head, and the bartender starts to make her another martini. The bartender glances at the man at her side, and he nods. They wait in silence. It hangs between them, pregnant with the promise of something. Hope? Redemption? Atonement?

Her face is impassive, but he can see in the planes of her face both pain and eternity. The bartender brings their drinks over; she swallows half of hers and finally looks back at her companion. Now, he sees defiance and the demon inside waiting to break free in defense of its territory. He says nothing; after all, he approached her.

She sees understanding in his eyes, and it scares her. She doesn’t want anyone to understand, it means they have gotten too close. Close means access, and access means revelation, which in turn means vulnerable. She feels the warmth of his gaze upon her, and drawing on some small reserve of strength, meets it head-on.

He is impressed.

The alcohol burns in her stomach but the acceptance in his eyes burns hotter. She’s at a loss and he sees this, and takes her hand. He speaks softly, but the words are loud and reverberate in her heart.

“I want to know you.”

Tears start in her eyes, and myriad emotions tear through her.

#

You see a man and a woman seated at a bar, smoke dense in the air and the music blaring. They are both well dressed and you assume they’ve just gotten out of work. You figure they are just another professional couple, ready to take off and do the dirty dance of anonymous sex. You don’t see the potential or the hope of the situation; you can’t see the little girl yearning for validation or the young man needing redemption.

They are lonely, but they don’t want to be lonely.

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Tuesday Meanderings

One of the quirks to not having a “normal” (and I use “normal” facetiously; as a dear friend once told me, “normal” is just a dryer setting) 9-5 job, sometimes the days run together and it’s hard to tell them apart. That’s why I think I’m such a fan of lists — it gives me some kind of idea where or when I am. I’ve taken to measuring the passage of time by past milestones, some good, some not so good. For instance:

It’s been 389 days since my momma passed away from terminal breast cancer.

My grandson (otherwise known as “Muffin”) is 369 days old.

It’s been 59 days since the Evil Gall Bladder was banished.

15 days until my self-imposed deadline for my Novel-In-Progress with four and a half chapters left to write. (MEEP!)

In 87 days I have written approximately 60,000 on said novel.

Interesting, no?

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I have fallen into the #fridayflash fiction hole and I’m loving every minute of it. For those of you who visit here and don’t know, #flashfriday is the brainchild of J.M. Strother with plenty of support by Laura Eno and 2mara Armstrong, among a host of others.

A group of flash fiction writers post on their own blogs a sample of their flash fiction on Fridays. The link to the story is then tweeted on Twitter (say that three times fast!) under the hashtag, #fridayflash, and the writers make the rounds of reading each other’s flash and leaving comments as they feel appropriate. Stories are then tweeted and re-tweeted to the unsuspecting public. Jon is the hardy soul who rounds up all the links and posts them in a list on his blog with some help from Ms. Margarita. (Heh!)

Did I say what a fabulous idea this is? Have I told you just how much I love reading all this flash? Can I say how I’m blown away by the amount of Flash Talent out there? Or what a fine, fine opportunity to improve your craft, network with other crazy writers, or start to build a “platform”? (Something that’s becoming quite the bone to chew upon by publishers.) It is Simply Fabulous, and if you’ve read me for any length of time or know me at all, you know what a flash ho I am.

I’m happier than a pig in poop, so I am.

This has given me an opportunity to drag out my own flash from the Vault (since I’m working on getting this novel done, I haven’t been able to write anything new lately) and prance it out there for all to see. It has whetted my appetite to write more (novel first, Netta! DAMMIT!)

I’m just loving it.

I encourage you to follow, visit, and PARTICIPATE! It is so much fun!

The only qualifications are that you have a blog, and that you post a flash piece on Friday. A Twitter account helps. On Friday, just Twitter a link to your story under the #fridayflash hashtag, then read and comment on other stories. You’ll love it, trust me.

And, if you’re not sure what flash fiction is, take a look here or here. Any questions, post them and I’ll answer to the best of my ability.

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Enough meandering. I need to write some chapters, and dive inside the Vault. I also have some paying work to do, and that trumps all, my lovelies.

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Wickedly Smooth — Friday Flash Fiction

I had to pull this out of the vault, because I’ve been buried in work this week. While this is a good thing, it meant I couldn’t devote time to fiction. *Sniffle*

This story was a result of a writer’s prompt. I love prompts — some of my best work has come from them. Don’t ask me where the rest of this came from, because I couldn’t tell you. All I can say is maybe I watch too much CSI. Heh.

Wickedly Smooth

Amy sits on the floor, her blonde hair falling in a curtain around her face. Her hands are busy, always busy at some invisible task. She rocks back and forth, sometimes in slow motion, sometimes so fast it’s a blur to the eyes.

I watch her. Every chance I get, I stop by the door and peer through the barred slit. My heart beats in time to her rocking.

****

Five years I’ve worked here. Amy arrived in my second week, so we’ve known each other a long time. In the beginning, she was feisty and irritated. Now she’s under control. Some may credit the medication, the therapy, or even her sessions with the shrink. Both she and I know the truth.

I saved her.

I’ll save more, but she’s my first. That makes her special.

****

Many nights I’ve pulled overtime. It’s an enormous undertaking — a calling, I guess you could say. Until I was hired here, it was difficult to fulfill that call.

It makes me feel good, to know I’m helping others less fortunate than myself. Since I started, the dreams of white, wicked teeth and rough passages have faded. As I slide in, I can feel the power of their insanity diffuse and dissipate. With each stroke, I release the demons within, and my seed sedates the evil that has possessed them.

Gender doesn’t matter. What matters is expelling the darkness. What matters is banishing what infects the helpless in order to facilitate their healing.

No one can do what I do.

****

I often wonder what task Amy is trying to accomplish. Her hands are constantly busy, but it’s the rocking that tips me off it’s almost time for another session. The faster she rocks, the more I know she’s in need. The invasion has begun again, and I feel her hunger.

****

I’ll nap before my shift. I’ll dress in my white uniform. I’ll check on Amy as she sits and rocks, gauging when the time is exactly right. I’ll secure her wrists to the bed with leather cuffs. Her face will be covered with the curtain of her silky hair, but it doesn’t matter. Each ankle will be restrained, her unholy transgressions totally exposed. I’ll gag her mouth with her panties, for Amy’s own safety. To cry the demon’s name aloud would be dangerous.

I could do this in the outside world. There are many who need my services.

But, the insane are so wickedly smooth.

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Shaking Up Production Time

My best writing hours used to be in the early morning. Ironically, this was when I held down a full-time first shift job. By the time I was done with eight hours (or more, many times it was much more) my brain resembled a bowl of mashed up bananas, and fitting in the writing was difficult. I couldn’t WAIT until I had early morning hours available for nothing but writing.

Since I went freelance, all the hours of the day opened up. I could choose anytime, any day, to sit and write, write write. And you know what I found out?

Early morning doesn’t really work for me, production-wise.

Oh, I’m up early. Most days by 6AM, or if I’m particularly slothful, sometimes as late at 7AM. Since I’m usually up until one or two, I’m traveling on an average of four to five hours of sleep a day. Trying to extrude words out of my weary brain at an early hour has become a lesson in futility. I’ve had to adjust the program.

I still sit down and try, because you never know, right? But I have come to realize my better production comes later in the day into the evening, after I’ve dealt with the errands and chores of the day and moved on after my second wind. So, early hours have morphed into household matters, widget and gadget wrestling, and other ‘net duties that are as never-ending as household chores.

Another eye-opener for me was the fact I work better in quiet for fiction, and with noise for non-fiction. It used to be the other way around. You’re looking at a chick who used to own (before the Tragedy of 2008, don’t ask) literally hundreds of CD’s, and had filled the hard drive of a computer and the memory of an iPod with hours upon hours (nay, days! Maybe weeks!) of music. It took two weeks of tweaking, but I really do work better at writing fiction with no distractions, and with non-fiction, the background noise helps. What a flip.

I guess the point is, if your word production has been suffering (and I’ve heard a lot of writers discussing how their word counts have dropped lately, maybe due to the change in seasons) you need to be open to the idea of flipping things around to see if something else will work for you.

Do you normally work with the music blaring? Turn it off.

Is the TV off? Turn it on. If it’s on, turn it off.

Do you work in your own office on a desk? Take it to the kitchen table. Or the cliched coffee shop. Work in the library for a couple of hours.

Is early morning really good for you? Try scheduling afternoon or evening hours for a while. See what happens.

It’s easy for people to get stuck in a rut, and it can be hard to blast your ass out of it. Once productivity starts to slip, panic can set it, and then it’s hard to think. Relax. Just because you’ve done it one way doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways.

At the very least, you’ll shake things up and if you return to your regularly scheduled programming, it might feel like slipping your feet into a comfy pair of shoes and a natural flow will emerge.

Shake it up, baby!

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Friday Flash – Since You're Gone

Fresh out of high school with a crappy fast-food job frying chicken, flipping burgers, and moonlighting as a giant dancing hamburger on Saturdays to entice children and their hapless parents to partake of Grease and Fat Wrapped In A Bun, life should have sucked, but somehow didn’t.

Although, all my giant hamburger costume did was scare kids into screaming fits of frightened hysteria, and my friends into screaming fits of laughing hysteria.

At eighteen, we are invincible and will live a thousand years.

Reeking of hot chicken grease, my friend Carla invited me to meet some friends of hers on a Saturday night. One special friend she had in mind – his name was Todd.

Living in a beautiful house, he had the basement to himself and his girl. Wood paneling, comfortable couches and an odor of…sadness. I remember the lights being dim and The Cars shaking it up and crying Since You’re Gone. They played on the stereo all night long.

Todd and Emily were high-school sweethearts since their freshman year. She was blond and petite; he was tall and frail. Tears filled her eyes every time she looked at him.

Carla was gentle with the introductions, and when I saw Todd’s bald head, bruised shadows, and skinny frame, I understood why. When I saw how Emily clung to him, anguish lurking deep in the cushions of the furniture, I understood why.

Leukemia. He was nineteen, and he never saw twenty.

Since you’re gone, moonlight ain’t so great.

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Writer's Appreciation Week

Honestly, I think a week is no where near long enough, but according to Nathan Bransford, literary agent, this week is Writer’s Appreciation Week and today, I’d like to add my thanks to writers who have been particularly instrumental in shaping my writing career.

I’m not going to detail every writer who has influenced me, or this would be the longest post in the history of this blog. I’ve been reading since I was three years old, so as you can imagine, there are a LOT of them. Writers who have touched me in one way or another, their books becoming my best friends and sometimes the only comfort and stability I had as a child. Writers who have shaped my sense of humor, my perspective on the world in general; writers who have stimulated my brain into thinking in ways that never would have happened otherwise. Hellfire, they stimulated me to actually think in the first place. Writers whose work literally saved my life and my sanity, more times than I can count. I can never thank these gifted people enough — and all I want to do with my life, is to produce a work that does that for one person. Whether it’s through entertainment, theme, or the stimulation of thought, that’s all I want to do.

Anyway.

Thank you to Louisa May Alcott, Charlotte Bronte, Madeline L’Engle. Thank you to Frank L. Baum, Shakespeare, and Eleanor Cameron. Carolyn Keene. Robin McKinley. Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Jack Chalker. Just to name a few, but there are so many.

Major thanks to the Master of All, Stephen King.

These writers had more than just an effect on me as a writer — they also had a profound effect on me as a person.

****

As far as my actual writing goes, my appreciation wouldn’t be complete without a shout-out to some very important people in my life.

My daughters — with whom I bounce ideas like bouncing red rubber balls off a wall. They are awesome, and understand how I think which helps me focus on story.

Stacy and Laurie — we met on a writing site almost a decade ago and are still close friends. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without their support, love, and encouragement. I can only hope that someday I’m half as talented as these two amazing women.

Dave and Tim — their thoughtful critiques and constant support, not to mention their own stellar writing talent, has constantly challenged and inspired me.

Peat, Joe, and Eric — my role models. These are three classy, successful, and talented guys who are generous with their time and advice to a wannabe.

Angie — Omg, this woman is DA BOMB. She has the work ethic of a Titan, and is a friend of the highest caliber. I’m so lucky to know her.

My Momma — who instilled a love of reading inside me at an early age, taught me the hard lessons of life, and how to appreciate all of it — the good, the bad, and the ugly. She was my biggest fan.

Thanks go out to all my peeps, and I think a tradition of Writer’s Appreciation Wednesday has just been born.

I like it. I like it a lot.

****

I’ve finished Chapter 18, and have moved into the next one. Things are ramping up, and I do believe I’ll make my deadline of September 30 for a finished first draft. I’m so excited!

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