Branching out

Okay, so I’ve done poetry, flash fiction, short stories, novels, and now novellas–so now what?

Well, I guess I’ll work on photo edits and graphics. Oh, and marketing (still), and content generation, and and and…

There’s a lot more to being a writer than just writing the things. I have to know what to do with the things once I’ve written them, and I guess know how to make the things pretty, and who to show the things to, and so forth and so on.

I am by no means a master. Mistress. Whatever. Point being, I still have a lot to learn, but I am willing to learn and grow and expand my wheelhouse.

Despite my growing repertoire, I’m still–now and forever, it seems–stuck on Book 3. I had been hoping that diverting myself to the two novellas would give my old noggin a rest and let me regroup, but sadly that’s not much the case. I still get stuck, and I still don’t quite know where I’m going with this any more than I did when I set it aside.

There’s some good news to it, though; I have a mockup of a cover design for one of the novellas. Observe what some stock photos and photo editing apps can do:

Will that be the final design? I don’t know, but I like what I have so far, and I’m kind of proud of getting there on my own.

I guess I’ve procrastinated enough, though. Book 3 is still waiting for me to add some words and get the story moving. Onward and upward–in word count, that is.


It’s the weekend. I’m home alone until Sunday afternoon, so I have all the time in the world–or at least thirty-six hours of it–to get shit done.

So why am I rooted to the couch, laptop in hand, working on a rough draft, when I could be sewing, doing laundry, or cleaning up–all the things I don’t have time for during the week?

I guess I’m just prodraftinating. It’s a thing now, I’ve decided. Basically, I’m avoiding all the work I need to do by working on the rough draft of my romance WIP. I’m at 12,600 words out of a minimum 15,000, and the story’s close to wrapping up, but I’m still far from “done.” My story has trapped me, and I have to see it through.

I’m loving my new characters, and it’s nice to take a break from the Abnormalverse (as I’ve dubbed it) for a contemporary story. No magic, no supernatural happenings, so evolutionary powers, no politics–just a story about a girl and a guy and a little happily ever after.

Once it’s drafted, though, I’ll have to dive back into the Abnormalverse for a couple of WIPs: my current 3rd installment of the primary Abnormal series, plus a new WIP that fell into my lap yesterday that takes place in the Abnormalverse but only features a cameo of my MCs from Abnormal.

The writing has taken a sudden leap in volume and prolificity (which, spell check says, is not a word, but I’m already making up words today so whatever). I’ve gone from working on one piece exclusively, with maybe a couple short stories or poems sprinkled between primary writing sessions, to having–let’s see–three active works-in-progress. It’s kind of cool. I feel like a “real” author. Lol

I do have to do some “real” work today, though; my co-host and I have two interviews to record for our podcast, so I’ll have to stop the writing for those at least. What I’ll do after is up in the air, because that just might be the pause button I need to get up and to other things. But those are almost six hours away, so maybe I’ll finish my draft first. Who knows. Ideally, I’d like to finish the first draft within my word count limit, but I might have to go back and revise to fill it in more.

My newest project should be interesting, and even though I’m toiling away at the contemporary romance story, the back of my mind is plotting and devising a strategy for this new WIP. I’m hoping I don’t completely stall out on the 3rd Abnormal book while all this other stuff is going on, but I was needing a break from it anyway. Maybe these other Abnormalverse stories will spark some new ideas for the primary Abnormal story line. Maybe. Who knows.

I guess I’m off to finish my draft now. My characters are standing next to me, arms crossed over their chests, tapping their feet as they wait for me to hurry the fuck up.

Y’all just calm the fuck down. I’m getting to you–just be patient. 😉

Diamonds in the Rust

It’s hotter than Satan’s balls out today. I’ve got my hair tied up off the back of my neck, but a few scraggly strands fell out and are plastered to my damp skin. They’re itchy, but not as annoying as the swarms of flies buzzing in my ears.

Why am I trudging through the thick, muggy air in this old junkyard, risking tetanus, injury, and heat stroke? Well, I found something the other day. Something strange that could change my life for the better–if I can just find what I’m looking for.

You see, I’m not the most well-off person. I don’t make a lot of money, but I’ve been smart enough to keep my credit score looking decent. Decent enough to get the deed to a run-down old farmhouse at the police auction last month.

It’s not the nicest place, but overall it’s cheaper than anything I could find for rent in town. I started cleaning it up about a week ago, and after umpteen heart attacks when I brushed an occupied spider web out of my hair, it’s finally starting to look livable. Livable by a human being, that is. The spiders are gone now. Mostly. I hope.

Anyway, the farmhouse had a wonky floorboard that was driving me bonkers every time I stepped on it. Since the house was an as-is package, I had to fix it myself. I’m not much of a handyman–er, handywoman, I guess–but I own a crowbar and a hammer, and I can find a slab of wood somewhere to fill in where the creaky board used to be.

No, I’m not in the junkyard to find a slab of wood. Let me finish.

Underneath that creaky board was a brittle, yellowed old envelope. The sticky stuff on the seal was all dissolved, so I didn’t technically open someone else’s stuff… the letter just kinda fell out. And came unfolded when it landed. And it’s not my fault it landed right side up. I couldn’t help but read it.

I didn’t know much about the history of the farmhouse until I did some research after reading that letter. Turns out it was owned by a pretty sketchy dude. I mean, assault-robbery-murder kind of sketchy. The robbery part is where the letter comes in.

The guy’s name was William “Switchblade Bill” Halder. Good ol’ Switchblade Bill knocked off a few jewelry stores a while back. He was caught and locked up, but he got shanked in a prison fight before the cops could find out what he did with the jewels. Not just any jewels: diamonds.

The cops must’ve been pretty dumb to auction off the house before checking any hiding spots, because the letter was from Switchblade Bill. I can’t read who it was addressed to–once the envelope came open, it pretty much disintegrated–but Bill went and wrote a letter to someone detailing what he did with the diamonds.

It’s been thirty years. The car was an old clunker even then, but no one has used this junkyard in over a decade. And I haven’t found any news reports about forty grand worth of diamonds being discovered there. So there’s a chance. A chance for things to go my way for once.

Just as I’m about to give up, when I’m on my last sip of the water I brought, I see it. A nineteen sixty-two Studebaker. It’s looking more shit-brown than the cherry-red it used to be, but I googled that car enough in the past week to recognize its corpse behind that old refrigerator.

I look down at the el cheapo lockpick set I ordered online. Just in case the glove box is locked. Not that I know how to pick a lock, but there’s enough of a cell signal out here that I’m sure I can find some kind of a tutorial online. It can’t be that hard, right? I mean, it always looks easy enough on TV.

My first real obstacle comes when I pull the handle and the door is jammed. It wiggles a bit, but it won’t come open. A nearby hunk of metal takes care of the dirty window, and I’m able to shimmy inside.

My clothes are drenched in sweat, and I’m not sure it’s entirely from the heat. This is it. This is where I get my life out of the fucking gutter. This is where I come out on top.

The lock turns out to be a bigger pain in the ass than I thought it would be. It’s beyond rusty, and the tumblers won’t budge. In the end, I have to climb out of the car window, find my hunk of metal, and climb back in.

It takes a few whacks to break the lock. My palm is sliced to shit from the rusty piece of metal. I’ll need to get a tetanus shot when I get back to town. Maybe a couple of stitches. It’ll be worth it, though.

I take a deep breath before I pull open the glove box. My heart is pounding, and I feel kind of faint. I reach out, and–

–and at first I think the sudden chest pain is from nerves. It takes me a second to look down at the growing red stain on my shirt.

That’s not supposed to be there. I know I’ve been crawling around a rust bucket for the last hour, but the stain shouldn’t be growing.

I hear laughing coming from outside the car, and now I’m really confused. I thought I was the only one here. Who’s laughing at my rust-stained shirt?

I turn my head and see a huge guy standing about twenty feet away. He’s smoking a cigar I think–there’s smoke of some kind coming from his hand, anyway.

I blink, and for some reason it’s a super slow blink. Slo-mo. Like someone is messing with the remote control for my life. The big guy isn’t affected, though, because in the span of that blink he’s right next to me.

It’s not a cigar he’s got in his hand. It’s a gun with a funny looking barrel, like the kind you see assassins using in movies. One of those things to make the gun quiet. What are those things called? I can’t think of the word…

“Thanks for finding my partner’s stash for me,” he says. “Saved me a buttload of trouble.”

Partner? I’m so confused.

I open my mouth to talk, but all that comes out is a wheeze.

The guy leans in the window and shoves me into the driver’s side seat. I flop over like a limp… something. Why can’t I think of words? And hell, why is everything still moving so slow?

I hear the clatter of something small and hard falling onto the floor beneath the glove box. I want to object to this guy’s thievery, but as my eyelids start to sag I smile a little at the irony. Here I was, shiny new lockpick set in hand, ready to rob a dead man, and now I’m getting robbed before I can do the robbing.

The car seat underneath me has a bright red stain too. Huh. Wonder where that came from.

The Train on the Right

This morning I was given a writing prompt by a fellow Twitter insomniac: Thriller, a train, and a notebook. Here’s what I came up with 🙂

A chill breeze blows through the open platform, and I’m glad I wore a coat. I come here often to people-watch, but today there are few travelers.

The sound of trains running by is drowned out by the music blaring in my headphones. I may want to watch the people, but I prefer not to interact with them. Observe and report, that’s my motto. Some of my best stories have come from being a fly on the platform, my hundred little eyes catching every little detail.

The breeze picks up, and I feel something brushing against my foot. I look down, and there’s a beat-up old spiral notebook under the bench, blown open by the fall winds. I don’t remember seeing a notebook there when I sat down, and no one had really walked by since to have dropped it. Curiosity wins over, and I pick it up.

It’s open to a page with two words scrawled in red: “Stand up.”

I grin and decide to play along. Someone has planned a romantic surprise for their significant other, perhaps, and left this notebook for them to find. Well, I think to myself, the SO is a no-show, so I’ll play the part for now. I stand and turn the page.

“Face north.”

Okay. North it is.

A train sits to either side of me, doors open for the passengers that come and go. No one’s really coming or going, and I find it odd that the doors have been open this long.

The next page has a ticket paper-clipped to it. Underneath the ticket are the words “Take the train on the right.”

Yes, sir. Or ma’am. The handwriting’s slanted, jagged, hurried. I decide the person orchestrating this is a male, based on nothing more than writerly instinct and what little I’ve learned about handwriting from bad investigative documentaries. Into the train on the right I go, ticket in hand.

The train is empty, save for a vagrant in the far corner, slumped against the wall, asleep. He’d be an interesting subject for a story, so I keep half an eye on him as I turn the page. “Sit in the last row, left-hand side, aisle seat.”

As soon as I’m seated the doors hiss shut, and the train jerks into motion. The vagrant’s sleep remains undisturbed despite the bumpy ride. I watch his head bob with the train’s movements over the tracks for a few moments, then I return to the notebook.

“Wait three stops.”

Boring, but I’m committed to the game by now, so I settle in and watch the vagrant. The train’s overhead speakers blare out the name of the next stop, but he snoozes right through. I’m impressed by his ability to sleep through the sounds and bumps and starts and stops. Never once does he jerk or twitch. So entranced am I that I almost miss my page turn.

“Stay seated. Wait for the doors to close again.”

This Romeo isn’t a very creative fellow. Where’s the purple prose, the poetry, the promises of wining and dining and true love? No wonder she didn’t show up.

The doors shut, and I flip the page. “Reach under your seat.”

What will it be? Flowers? Candy? A diamond ring? I’m intrigued, so I do as told.

I’m not prepared for my fingers to wrap around the handle of a knife taped under the seat.

The tape breaks as soon as I apply pressure on the handle, and I clench my hand to avoid dropping the knife and waking the vagrant. He’s a sound sleeper, but I don’t want him to wake up to a stranger brandishing a knife.

With a shaking hand, I turn the page. “Do not let go. Wait for the next stop.”

A thin sheen of sweat breaks out on my forehead, and the hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention. I am no longer under the impression that this is some romantic game to win the favor of an unrequited love, and with a knife in my hand and nowhere to go but another train car, I don’t quite know what to do. I’m afraid to pull the knife all the way out, afraid to look at it.

A sharp turn catches me by surprise, and I grip the seat to keep from losing my balance. The vagrant isn’t so lucky, and he falls to the floor with a sick thud.

He doesn’t wake up.

I get up and creep down the aisle, knife in hand temporarily forgotten. Why didn’t that fall wake him up?

I have to grab onto a rail as the train’s momentum slows, and the vagrant’s body slides a bit forward. I notice a bright red streak underneath him.

A couple more steps and I’m there. I squat down and reach for him, and the knife comes into view.

The knife is covered in blood.

Before I can think, the train’s doors slide open and a cadre of transit officers swarms the car, guns drawn and pointed at me.

I’m trying to stay calm, but I can’t stop shaking. I raise my arms over my head, bloody knife still in hand, and slowly gesture towards the back of the car. “It was the notebook,” I say. “I was just following the directions in the notebook.”

One officer in the back takes a few steps backward down the aisle, gun still trained on me. He takes his eyes off of me for a moment to search under the seats, then straightens and glares. “There’s no notebook here, pal. What kind of game are you playing with us?”

I look away from the barrels of the guns to peer down the aisle.

The floor of the train car is empty of trash, debris…and notebooks.

Testing 1, 2, 3

It started with a plan. Well, part of a plan. Thirty percent of a plan.

You see, it was early in the morning–pre-dawn early–and I was bored. I didn’t want to work on embroidery and I didn’t want to transcribe what I’d handwritten at Estrella into the computer. So I did the next logical creative thing I could think of: I asked Twitter for a prompt.

I didn’t want just any prompt. I didn’t want to go to Pinterest and pick one, or Google “writing prompts” and see what came up. I didn’t want to pick and choose what I used to spread my creative wings; I wanted something 100% unexpected.

Twitter did not disappoint. Within the hour, I had an interesting prompt that sparked a full flash fiction piece, and the results were amazing. My Twitter impressions went from their usual couple hundred per active hour to over a thousand. I gained a few new followers, and I wrote something that people enjoyed. Win-win.

I got bored again this morning, and once again I asked the Twitterverse for a prompt. Again I received one, and again I wrote a story that was well-received.

I’m going to try it again soon–maybe not tomorrow, maybe not the next day, but soon, and I’ll maybe make it a weekly or semi-weekly thing. I like that I’m totally at the mercy of the #WritingCommunity followers on Twitter, and I have no clue what prompt will come my way. Will it be something that inspires horror? Action? Suspense? Romance? Who knows! That’s the fun!

My Editor-in-Chief slash mentor loves the idea, and she loves that I managed to get some new traction going on my own accord. Now I have to keep that momentum going. But will the third time be a charm, or will it flop?

Only time will tell. I can’t write every genre well. There are going to be times when people say “Meh.” But I can try, and I can do my best. That’s what matters in this test of my writing skills: what I can do with a first draft based off a prompt from a random stranger.

Split decisions

My book, our book, my book, our book…which one should I work on more?

Ideally, I’d have enough inspiration for both books. However, right now Book 3 is eluding me, so I have to get my writing fixes in whenever my co-author sends me her latest chapter. Unfortunately, I have so much inspiration for the collaboration book that it takes me at most a day to write and send back my chapter. Then I’m left for days trying to think up how to progress the story on Book 3.

Splitting my creative energy between two books has proven difficult for me. I don’t know how some authors can work on a multitude of projects at once. I can throw in a short story or poem or flash piece while I’m working on a novel-length project, but multiple novels at once? I guess I’m not that talented. Lol

I’m going to try to get at least a few paragraphs written in Book 3 this morning. I’ve gotta regain momentum on that project, because Book 2 is in edits at the moment, and if I don’t write I’ll go nuts.

My problem is this: I have tons of ideas for further on in the book, but the point I’m at now is stalled. I have to write in order, for the most part. Sure, I can go back in revisions and add a chapter here or there out of order, then change things to make it fit, but writing the story out of order in the first draft? That would just be wrong.

Maybe I’ll retcon some of what I’ve already written and restart that part. I could be moving the plot too quickly, and maybe that’s why things don’t feel “right.” And who knows? Maybe I’ll find my groove again if I just go back and start over from the beginning of Chapter 2. (Yes, I’m that badly stalled.) Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. Back up and restart in a different direction.

Time to get some more coffee and get typing. 🙂

Stir crazy

It’s not even 24 hours since I got back from urgent care–hell, not even 12 hours–and I’m already going mad puttering around the house.

The first few hours were okay. I sat in the dark and coughed until my throat was raw. Then I coughed some more. I stayed up until my friend came to pick up the car to take to my husband in Tucson (he’d gotten a ride up there, and until the doc-in-the-box diagnosed me with the bronchitis I already knew I had, I was going to be his ride home), and then I slept for a few hours. Woke up at my usual nothing-in-the-morning, and surprisingly felt a lot better. Cough isn’t as prolific. Sinuses aren’t draining. I can breathe better. It’s amazing what a little antibiotic pill will do, given time to work.

Speaking of work, the next couple of months are going to suck. I’ve got to use all my PTO to fill up as much of the past two weeks as I can, so when Estrella War comes I won’t have as much available to use. It’s gonna be tight money-wise until I catch up from this mess. I missed two and a half days this week from sickness, and a full day from the holiday. Add in the fact that I had very few hours last week because of the holidays, and it equals a crap paycheck.

Even though I kind of feel a bit better now, I don’t want to risk making things worse by doing too much. There’s a lot of cleaning to do around the house, but I have to remind myself that I am still sick and I shouldn’t be overdoing things. Still, I’ll try to get the house straightened up as well as I can before my husband comes home.

I’d say that this is good for my writing, but I can’t focus very long at a time to be able to compose things. I’ve got a bit of attention deficit right now, whether brought on by the NyQuil or the sickness or who knows what. I’ll embroider for like twenty minutes, write for twenty or thirty, stare at the screen daydreaming for an hour, and repeat the cycle. Now I’m cruising Netflix in search of mindless fluff to watch. The first show I picked–Diabolo–was too full of cheese. I couldn’t finish even one episode, let alone binge a season. So I’m on to Coraline now. Never seen that one through to the end, and a movie’s easier on the attention span. Don’t have to remember what happened in the last episode.

I feel bad that I’m missing my husband’s second time being feast steward for an SCA event. I wanted to be there to support him, but I need this time at home to recoup.

Maybe later today I’ll have a story to give you. I might drudge up some prompt or other, either a stock photo or a Pinterest prompt to get the creative juices flowing.

Pan’s Labyrinth! That’s the ticket. I can listen to the Spanish while I do other stuff and let the visuals seep into my subconscious. Then, when I’m in the proper mindset, I can drum up some new writing.


I’m happy to announce that a piece of flash fiction that I wrote will be featured on soon!
If you’re interested in the opportunity to have a piece of flash or a poem published on the website, check out Rhetoric Askew on Facebook and follow them to see the weekly Social Media challenge. It’s pretty cool, and here’s the scoop: once a week they post a photo, and all you have to do is use that photo as inspiration for the work. The other authors and followers vote by likes, and the piece with the most likes wins a feature on the site.
So there’s my happy news and my plug for the day. 😉 I’m still working on Book 2, but I’ve gotten to the point where I need to go back and read through what I’ve already written to see where I need to flesh things out or rework things. Y’know, make sure I haven’t written any huge holes in there.
Well, off to work before it’s my turn to drive. We get back home today, and tomorrow it’s back to mundane life yet again.

There but not there

He sat in silence, tail twitching, ears turned towards his target.

Pulling my legs up onto the couch (theoretically a place safe from whatever it was that he was hunting), I peeked over the edge, trying to spy what he stalked. I saw nothing, and for some reason an icy chill crawled up my spine. Was it a harmless bug? Was it–*gasp*–a spider? I didn’t know if I could handle a spider on my own. Eight-legged demons, they are.

Without warning he pounced, and I felt myself jump despite my determination to remain calm. Did he get it?

No, it seemed he didn’t. When he stood back to observe his handiwork, there was nothing on the floor. I relaxed for a moment until his body went rigid again…save for that twitching tail.

Dare I get off the couch to see what it was? If I put my feet down, would The Thing Beneath bite me? I swallowed back a lump of fear and ever-so-slowly began to get up, keeping the cat between me and whatever it was he was determined to murder. Inch by inch, I got down on my knees and bent over, looking under the couch, praying it was a ball of lint or long-lost cat toy.

Nothing. There was nothing.

The cat still stalked this nothing for several minutes before following me into the other room, the nothing-that-he-thought-was-something apparently forgotten.

Shaking my head, I chuckled to myself as I turned out the lights and snuggled next to my sleeping husband. It was just my imagination, I thought, or perhaps the cat’s. Nothing more.

Then I heard a door open and close.

We have no roommates.


The winter wind cut through her like a knife, and she pulled her threadbare coat closed. Her fingers were a sickly shade of blue, matching her lips, and her tears turned to icicles before they could escape her lashes.

Miranda had been wandering through the streets like this for days. Food and shelter were scarce despite the large population. Who was going to give a meal to a nobody like her? Who would let someone like her live under their roof for the night? Nobody would. Those things were denied to people like Miranda.

Then she saw him: the man who would be her savior. He had clean clothes, a healthy glow to his skin, and, perhaps most importantly, kind eyes. Gullible eyes. The sort of eyes that would see Miranda’s tattered clothes and unkempt hair and immediately want to take her in and take care of her.

Their eyes met, and he granted her a dazzling smile. The first person to smile at her in a week. This was going to be too easy.

“Evening, miss. Looks like you need to get out of this cold. Would you like to come with me somewhere warm with plenty of hot food?”

Trying to force some of the frigid blood in her veins to make its way to her cheeks, Miranda found that she didn’t even have the energy to blush. She needed to get warm and fed, soon as possible. She managed a wan smile in return and nodded thanks.

Taking her hand in his, the handsome stranger introduced himself as Rick. Rick’s gloved hands took her bare ones and rubbed them until the feeling started to come back. Then, with a warm arm around her shoulder, he led her a few blocks until they came upon a two-story brick house.

The house was Rick personified: warm, comforting, inviting. Miranda especially liked the inviting part.

Rick led her across the threshold, arm still around her, and shut the door behind them.

Miranda could hardly contain herself. She could smell her dinner, and it made her mouth water. Turning to face Rick, she grabbed his shouldes and opened her mouth wide, ready to–


Rick stared at the vagrant woman’s head as it bounced on the floor like a bloody basketball. That one had been too close. Damn vamps were getting bolder. Approaching strangers on the street? Whatever happened to the days when vampires were classy and seductive? This one looked like death itself as she walked through town.

Shaking his head, Rick dropped his blade and got to work scrubbing the floorboards. Where there was one of these things, there were usually more.

He had a long night ahead of him.