Monday, November 28, 2011

REGRETFULLY SO....Officially dropping out of NaNoWrimo

Ironically, the song currently playing on my iPod: "This Never Happened Before" by Paul Cartney.

Tried to play catch-up all weekend, staying up until after one o'clock this morning. My butt dragged all day at work and when I got home tonight I finally had to admit defeat.  36,537 is my final word count tonight. Do the math:  13,463 in two days means 6,732 words each day to break even at 50,000 words. I type fast, but not that fast. Plus there's the day job that pays me to write court pleadings, not romance stories. So, I am bowing out, but with good reason.

DESIGNER GENES is a finalist in OKRWA's Finally a Bride contest. This meant I had the opportunity to take advantage of the judge's score sheets from the first round, and fix the weak parts of my story before submitting to the final round. It also meant creating the dreaded synopsis, which I am also being judged on. Sounds like something the normal person would whip together in two or three days, right?
Wrong. First, I'm anything but normal, and since entering the contest, I wrote a completely new beginning. My luscious hero, Jordan, didn't make his formal appearance until Chapter Four. There were glimpses of him revealed, but his onstage entrance came too late, according to suggestions given to me by the last two agents I'd submitted a partial manuscript to. Thirty pages is all they request. Jordan doesn't sweep Marli off her feet until page forty-two. You get acquainted with my equally delicious antagonist, Jesse--Jordan's twin, but I felt that confused my readers. I didn't want them cheering for the bad guy before meeting my superhero. Therefore, Jordan steps into the limelight on page one with a bashful "Hi."

This created a dilemma regarding my contest entry. After consulting with my critique groups, several strangers, an online psychic, and a quick email to the Dalai Lama, I decided I had to keep the beginning on the contest entry. But I really like my new beginning, so I sprinkled bits of it through the thirty pages I resubmitted. In other words, major editing project. I won't even go into the synopsis. Consequently, this took almost two weeks and a huge chunk of my NaNo writing time. Then Turkey Day attacked. I spent so much time out of the story I created in NaNo that when I got back into writing it again, nothing flowed. Ideas had grown cold and the story took on a "deflated airbag" appearance. It's a good story and I don't want to mess it up further trying to meet a word count goal, which in all reality, I can't.
OKRWA's FAB contest and Designer Genes took priority and now I'm crossing fingers, toes, and eyes, my efforts will pay off. I'm also dipping in a deep curtsy and bidding farewell to NaNoWrimo 2011.  Next year, year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WACKY WEDNESDAY..."The Turkey Caper"

I'd just finished my dastardly task, when a knock came at the door. A police officer filled the doorway, a dark brooding scowl masking his face.

"Ma'am, we've had a report of an assault occurring from this location."

"An assault?"

"Yes, Ma'am. I'd like to ask you a few questions."

"You think I did it?"

"You're a person of interest in the purported crime."

Confused and slightly anxious, I led him into the living room. He perched on the edge of the sofa facing me directly, and flipped open his pad."

"Where were you this morning between the hours of 7:00 am and 10:00 am?"

"Considering it's barely after ten, I think it's safe to assume I was here. In my kitchen."

He peered over my shoulder at the stack of pots and pans near the sink. A few clumps of dressing still dotted the counter, and my rubber gloves lay in a wadded ball next to the carving knife.

"I can't assume anything. Is there anyone who could verify your alibi?"

"My alibi?" I thought of my husband who lay sleeping until almost nine, then sensing his help could possibly be used in the kitchen, managed to slip out of the house without my knowledge. I pictured him at the coffee shop, surrounded by other vanishing husbands, commiserating about the day's events about to unfold, filled with family drama and a clean-up project of epic proportions. Then there was the possibility they'd be expected to hang Christmas lights on a full stomach.

 "Well, my husband was here earlier, but he had to run an errand."

"Did you actually speak with him; make physical contact, so if I asked him he would say he definitely saw you?"

"What's this really about?"

"I told you, Ma'am. I received a report of foul play."

"From whom?"

"A Mr. Tom Turkey, Ma'am."

Well, that conniving feathered bastard! Fought me to the bitter end on getting inside that damn cooking bag! Thanksgiving traitor.

"There's no Tom Turkey here." As soon as I closed my declaration, the aroma of butter, herbs, and stuffing blending into a mouthwatering scent, wafted into the room.

The officer's keen sense of smell brought his nose into the air, wrinkling with a couple of loud sniffs. His gaze wandered back to the kitchen and I grimaced, knowing the butcher's knife, rubber gloves, and tall tale signs of cornbread stuffing scattered across the counter would seal my fate.

"Let's go over this morning's events," he demanded, licking the end of his lead pencil. "When was the last time you saw Mr. Turkey."

"This morning when I gave him a bath."

The officer's brows rose. "A bath," he repeated. "I presume no feathers covered his skin."

"Not a one." I wondered if I'd get a form-fitting orange jumpsuit.

"And after the so-called bath, what happened?"

"I rubbed him with oil." The raised eyebrows disappeared into the officer's hairline.

"And after you fondled Mr. Turkey--"

"I didn't fondle the turkey!" I protested.

"Okay, massaged Mr. Turkey, then. Is that when the assault occurred?"

"I told you, there was no assault."

"Ma'am, did you knowingly and willingly contemplate beforehand what action you would take on Tom Turkey once he'd been 'prepped' for the final attack?"

"Attack? So now I'm accused of attacking Tom Turkey?"

The officer leaned forward, brows knitted tightly. He snarled at me through a clenched jaw. "Ma'am, did you or did you not, shove your hand into certain private orifices and pull out internal organs and…" he swallowed hard, "…a neckbone belonging to the victim?"

I gasped, but before I could defend myself, he launched into more gruesome details…details that the evidence thereof, glared at me just a few feet away.

"And, Ma'am, after you sufficiently stripped all dignity from Mr. Turkey, did you or did you not, repeating push…" he looked away, apparently struggling, "…bread stuffing into the cavities you had previously hollowed out? And then, Ma'am," his tone now scathing, "can you deny the fact you tried to suffocate Mr. Turkey by placing him inside a plastic bag!"

"Hey, he nearly broke my wrist when his wings flipped out and blocked the opening!"

"It was self defense! He knew the orange coils glowing at him would be his final demise. Don't you think he could feel the heat rising, or had your heart turned to stone by then!" he accused.

The scenes he depicted played repeatedly in my head. I had no defense. I was guilty for each and every calculated action. The scent now filled the entire house, too strong to deny.

"Care to stay and help me consume the evidence?"

"Are you suggesting I partake in this crime?"

"If you pile potatoes, gravy, sweet potato pie, green beans, and a steaming homemade roll on top, no one will be the wiser."

"Cranberry sauce?"

"Made it myself."

He chewed his bottom lip, probably debating the consequences. I couldn't chance him changing his mind. Guests would be arriving shortly and I still had to set the table. Besides, how would it look if the hostess is being carted out shackled and half dressed? I didn't even have my make-up on and my hair was a mess. My mugshot would be a visual embarrassment to my family.

Desperate to save myself from such humiliation, I offered the ultimate…the one thing no man can resist. I licked my lips, curled my upper body his direction and batted my eyelashes shamelessly. "Pumpkin pie with real whipped cream topping?" I breathed in a husky voice.

He slammed his gun on the coffee table, his heavy breathing thrusting the silver star on his chest outward until it glistened under the overhead light. A bead of sweat formed on his upper lip and his eyes darkened to a deep bittersweet chocolate color. My heart pushed my ribs, the lump in my throat catching my breath. A shiver of excitement pebbled my skin when our eyes met and the hint of a smile tugged the corner of his mouth.

"When do we eat?"

Happy Thanksgiving! Here's me raising a wooden spoon in one hand and a turkey leg in the other in honor of all those who will knowingly and willingly assault a turkey. May your evidence be tender, juicy, and delicious!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Forever and Always...

Listening to:  "Made for You" courtesy of One Republic

He stood at the end of the aisle, hands folded behind his back, nervously shifting on his feet. His hazel eyes scanned the room, his jaw feverishly chomping on a piece of imaginary gum, which made me giggle. I'd watched his mother walk up to him and put her hand out, making him take it out a few minutes ago. He appeared nervous, uncertain...the same as me.

Smoothing my chiffon dress, I pulled the lace edge veil slightly over my shoulders. I didn't want it covering my face as tradition dictated. Several nightmarish scenarios played through my overactive imagination where the veil would catch on my dad's cuff link when he lifted it, or the headpiece would slip off during the orchestrated moment, ruining my hair. Or the fabric would tickle my nose and I'd sneeze...

The first step was the hardest. Remembering to smile, hoping no one noticed the slight trembling of my body or the bouquet shaking in my hand. I grasped my dad's arm so tight, I'm sure it felt numb by the third step. Ahead, a brilliant sunset slipped away on the western horizon, spreading golden fingers of light across the wall of windows I walked toward. The closer I got to the gorgeous heartthrob, still chomping, I noticed how the glow of the amber backdrop created a halo effect around his head, outlining each sandy curl. 

My angel--sent to me in a time of my life when I desperately needed a lifeline. Just didn't know my prayer would be answered in the form of a stranger who asked to borrow my binoculars at a Doobie Brother's concert. Four months later he returned the favor by dropping on one knee with a diamond ring and a promise to love me forever. Or at least try. 

I don't remember the ceremony, just the way we looked at each other, silly grins painfully pressing between our cheeks, and the kiss afterwards. A kiss filled with urgency, fear, excitement, and knowledge that we were embarking on a lifelong adventure, having no clue how to proceed...beyond the honeymoon (that we had figured out).  No instructions, or road map to follow. 

Marriage is truly based on blind love and guided by the heart. Each one is like a snowflake - original in design and equally fragile. There's no warranty, certainly no easy exchanges, nor a guarantee attached to that first kiss full of promise that you'll have a happy ending. You only have "hope" to rely on, besides each other. I'm one of the lucky ones who managed to give "hope" a good beating, but held tight to the belief everything would work out despite the obstacles that seemed to constantly bombard us. Every time we survived one, our relationship grew stronger, along with our respect for each other.

All these years later, after several buckets of tears have been shed through love, laughter, and heartbreak, he's still borrowing my binoculars. The sandy curls have turned turned gray and thinned, the deep "V" from broad shoulders to a "six-pack" waist has squared, and the gait a bit slower with less sway. But those hazel eyes still glitter, the playful smile deepening the crinkles at the corner of the eyes still hiding mischief, and the hands have remained strong...the arms comforting. When I snuggle into him at the end of the day, butterflies still flutter in my stomach and I giggle to myself as if I was twenty again...sleeping with my boyfriend.

Thirty-six years ago today, I married my best friend, with dreams of romance and endless possibilities for happiness. Thirty-six years later, I understand the meaning of true love...what real "romance" feels like, and the realization that "happiness" sometimes comes after paying a hefty price. I'm older, wiser, bolder, and still in love with my boyfriend.

I'm sharing a link to a darling video that makes me cry every time I watch - sweet and romantic...enjoy! (hope one or the other works!)

Friday, November 18, 2011


Just returned from the midnight showing and I will report that this Twihard fan came away stoked! Awesome. The best movie in the Twilight films and I can't wait for the next installment. Definitely worth the wait (arrived at 9:30 thinking early enough...oh no, loooong line and an hour wait outside before letting us inside. Very well done. No spoilers, (wedding dress is beautiful) but I will give you a tip...stay through the credits!

Nite all...or should I say, "good morning?"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WACKY WEDNESDAY - Why I'm a "Twihard"

Currently listening to:  "What I've Done" courtesy of Linkin Park

When this song starts, I picture the scene in the movie where Bella walks up the grassy slope behind the high school to the edge of the forest with Edward following close behind. She crosses the moss covered logs, stopping in a clearing where a shaft of light filters through the pines and rests on the forest floor. Edward moves behind her and we are aware that he's fighting his urges, struggling with the fear that he and his coven will be exposed...afraid he'll have to kill the one person he's cared about in over a century.

Talk about conflict! Take out the "sparkling vampire," the play-by-play instructions on meal preparation, and page long descriptions, and you have to admit, Twilight is an awesome story. Goal, motivation and conflict are clearly presented, the characters three dimensional, a setting that fits the dark premise of the story and the drama building (in fact, in the movie when they drive into Arizona, you have shield your eyes because the sunlight is so out of place), and touches of humorous real life antics, which put the reader inside the story with relatable characters. Then there's the sweet romance that pulls in the female gender at all ages. We remember our first love so vividly, and Stephenie Meyer did a great job of recreating all those feelings within Bella, but added a hunky immortal to our fantasy.

Tomorrow BREAKING DAWN- Part I opens and this author can't wait! I have tickets to the midnight premiere, My critique partner, who's also a close friend, and I will be there hours early, extra-large Starbucks coffee in one hand and Kindles in the other to pass the time while we wait. If you've never done a movie premiere, you need to. The excitement and energy make the experience as much fun as the movie. Yes, midnight is an ungodly hour to watch a film that in all likelihood will end close to 3 AM, and my eyelids will have to be taped open for work the next day, but it is so worth it! You're treated like a VIP (which I am "very important") and when you emerge from the theatre, you and the select few (OK hundreds) in attendance were treated to a glimpse of greatness others haven't seen yet. Even if the movie sucks, the experience is a blast.

Personally, of all the books in the Twilight saga, the fourth book, Breaking Dawn, was my least favorite. I know, possible bad karma for an author to criticize another colleague's creative work, but touting myself as a dedicated "Twihard" and viewing the final segment of the story from a reader's, not author's perspective, I came away disappointed. The characters who supported the hero and heroine all the way through their drama, adding color to the story along the way, were, in my personal opinion, "flat lined." In fact, most of them were barely given honorable mention and conveniently absent from what I felt, were crucial scenes.

Aside from the whole (**spoiler alert**) daddy chewing the baby from momma, while the boy who's had a crush on her and lost out, watches (and I do believe he sees her "body" for the first time as well, which was awkward to read [I'm not swearing by naked, because its been so long since I read it, but if a baby is being born you can bet there's more skin exposed than not] ) then have the boy whose painfully pined for the heroine "imprint" on her newborn daughter, cementing him in the heroine and hero's intimate life forever....well (taking large breath) just seems twisted! Okay personal rant over. For now.

So why am I going to watch this story (mind you I shut the book after that scene and didn't crack it for at least two weeks - I wasn't even sure I wanted to finish it, to be honest) on the mega screen if it bothered me so much in print? Because I have to! I'm a "Twihard." I have to see this through to the gruesome end. Like passing a bad car wreck, you don't want to, but you have to... look. Human nature? And again...for the experience!

No matter what my personal feelings as a reader were on the last book, as an author, I have to applaud Stephenie Meyers for her gift of being able to write such a wild, imaginative story. From this side of the fence, I view her as absolutely amazing. And, yes, I will proudly say I'm jealous as hell (professionally speaking, of course) of her imagination (and....the fact she sleeps on piles of money).

I also owe the Twilight saga for my writing career. Granted, I've always had the talent (I believe we're born with our gifts) but until I became passionate about reading, which this series definitely did for me, I didn't realize that deep down, I wanted to write the stories wandering in my imagination. I'm a hopeless romantic, believing love will survive against all odds, which is what I write. That's why Twilight worked for me. Isn't that the premise of the entire story....that love survived the odds?

Twilight fan or not, tomorrow marks the beginning of an ending. Like Harry Potter, Edward and Bella's story has come to an end, closing another chapter of literary genius. True, we still have Part II to look forward to, but when its over, there'll be a void, much the same as Harry Potter. Another fantasy will be popped by reality's needle and we'll be clamoring for the next one. Hello, Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games....I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it!

Thanks for stopping by and taking a moment from your NaNoWrimo frenzy to support me...or just rest your eyes. As always, I love your opinions, thoughts, and comments.  Oh hell, I'm just like that you're here! 

Thought for today: Today will be tomorrow's memory, so make it one you'll cherish...not regret.

NANOWRIMO - Day 15 - "Halfway there"

Current listen:  "When We Stand Together" a new tune from Nickelback and symbolic of this crazy world of writing.

Day 15, and we've hit the halfway point. Tonight's total word count: 28,656! I've also passed the halfway mark on my 50,000 goal, and 3,443 words into the "Lesli Challenge."

At this point, a lot of writers hit the wall--their creative muses suddenly go mute. Pep talks cover the NaNoWrimo site and write-ins are scheduled across the globe to kickstart the slump and rejuvenate the momentum you have to maintain to win this thing. It's amazing to see the support that rallies around writers through NaNoWrimo, and in my case, carries throughout the year from the various writing groups I belong to. Pose a question, give a cyber whistle or holler for help with a story, an agent, even a prayer when an author struggling on a personal level, and the support that pours out of these organizations is mind boggling. Most of us have never met in person, only through the "typed word," yet the relationships formed are every bit as binding. Amazing and somewhat intimidating talent is also prominent. Within this creative mayhem, I find personal joy, along with a few extra personalities taking up residency in my brain that I didn't know were there.

Sometimes, I am in the middle of creating a story, the words flowing effortlessly, the characters becoming more vivid and three dimensional with each chapter, when a muse suddenly cuts in front of me. I slam on my creative brakes and scratch my head, wondering what to do with the idea that's zipped from somewhere out in left field. Like today.

"Saving Grace," my current NaNo project is now two different stories, both fitting the title. One is not a spinoff of the other, but a whole new breed of animal, so to speak. I'm in the middle of an embarrassing "life moment" between current Grace and the colorful Tom Callahan when "new Grace" pops in behind my eyes, her voice clear and strong...telling a completely new story!

Here's her opening line, immediately catching my attention:

"Well, they definitely looked different taped to the outside of my locker. Wished I owned a pair of Victoria Secret panties, because the ones with the little yellow smiley faces, weren't going to do much for my reputation."

I spent the day delving into Sophie Mitchell's embarrassing first day as a sophomore in high school and the victim of senior prank. Another colorful somewhat dysfunctional family grew into the story, as well as the BFF who saves the day. Yep, the storyline remained strong until I finally shut it down. Now I'm writing two stories and hoping to get enough words out of both to meet the 50,000 mark. Then I'll split them into separate worlds. We'll see which one keeps the title, and who gets a new one.

Time to call it a day...or night. Later folks!

Monday, November 14, 2011


Falling asleep to "Heartbreak Warfare" lulled softly by John Mayer

My eyelids are currently winning the battle to close. I usually am up much later, but tonight, my spark has fizzled. Only a faint trail of smoke carrying a few words remains. Finally called it "quits" at 25,212 words. My "Lesli Challenge," which sounded good yesterday...but not so good today, is showing a dent of 2,476 against the 26,000 I signed on for. I am my own worst enemy.

Tomorrow I'm shopping for various sizes of body bags. My family thinks I can continue to be "on demand" and I've decided to take matters into control. Next one infringing upon my writing time, will be "measured."

Last night my father, bless his heart (that takes all the bad karma away), calls me at 9:30 pm, to ask me for help in running his new dishwasher. Seriously. I asked him if he read the owners manual. My father is a modern day "Archie Bunker." His reply is that whoever wrote the manual didn't know how to run a dishwasher either...code for I did not read the owners manual. Already feeling a tad snarky, (Sundays are a day of constant interruptions) I replied that's why they paid him the big bucks to write the book. I also informed him I was in my pajamas with no intention of getting dressed and driving 5 miles to his house to show him the "on" button. He threatened to go to his neighbors house and have them come over. Didn't work. I'm so past "the guilt trip" or "guilt trick." Finally, he described the instrument panel on front and I walked him through what buttons to push. I realized he knew what to do, just needed a little attention. Life seems to take up a lot of empty minutes and I don't check in often enough. I'm not looking forward to growing old(er). 

I want to do a "Pay it Forward" to some writer friends with new releases:
Ruth A. Casie's Knight of Runes released today. Check out her delicious cover and scone recipe on

Loretta Wheeler, my picture of what a "Southern Belle" would be, released her new short story, "Dark Pleasures." Check Loretta out on Facebook (her hubby designed the cover) and

Christina Wolfer's second book "Undercover" released last week. Check out Great cover!

Cindy Christiansen's "Braving the Blaze" is a sweet romance involving a firefighter, a labrador, and a woman who likes to strike a match.

I'd download covers, but hey, right now my left eye is twitching and my right one is spinning freely. Got to call it a night. The yawns are widening, cracking my jaw and holding my breath hostage long enough to be considered a health risk!  Later friends.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Current listen:  "Summer Girl" by Leighton Meester (from the soundtrack of the movie Country Strong)

Spent most of my writing time doing research today. I've picked the town of Sweet Home, Oregon, for my story setting. After locating the high school, I needed to find the library and get familiar with streets. In all my stories, water plays a big part in setting. Foster Dam proved to be just what I needed, sitting at the edge of Sweet Home and giving my characters a "play place."

So what happened to Tom's mom? In my last episode, she'd disappeared. I decided only one murder could be in this story (at least so far). Come to find out, according to Tom, when his stepfather and mom stopped for gas, she escaped.  Stepfather's character has ran out of storyline, so he does the honorable thing and turns him self over to police...or ???

Today's grand total is 23,790 words. A little less than I'd hoped for, meaning I'll have to do double time tomorrow. In a writing challenge with author friend and mentor, Lesli Lytle. 26,000 words by Sunday the 27th. That means 2,000 words per day. I can do it...I will do it...I have to do it! Lesli will never let me live it down if I don't! However, if I do, that will put me over 48,000 with three days left to write the final 2,000. Good way to push me, too.

Also sent off DESIGNER GENES to an agent this morning, so all in all...a very productive day. Later!


Crying to "Ghost" by We Were Kings
Lack of sleep makes me "weepy" as well as "sleepy." Wrote a traumatic scene today involving my colorful Tom Callahan. More so than a murder you ask? Sadly, yes. Child abuse is very real, and in my line of work, I've seen and heard too much. Being a young adult story, and me an author who doesn't really like to write vivid details of such things for the reason I just stated, I choose to put my readers in the spectator seat after the act has happened and let them watch how my characters deal with the aftermath. Tom told me his guarded secret tonight, but it was kind of hard to avoid. Telling the story in first person through Zoe's eyes, I saw the swollen face, the deep bruising around one eye, and a lip plumped three sizes too large. Tom stepped between a drunken stepfather and his mother who was about to be on the receiving end of temper tantrum, taking the beating for her. Boys are very protective of their mothers. Tom escapes to Zoe's house when his becomes too dangerous. His mom has disappeared, leaving Tom no choice but to contact his real father, exposing a seventeen year old secret with a scandal that promises to rock the community.

I just don't know if Tom's mother is dead or alive? If she's dead, the connection between Tom and Zoe could prove to be an interesting storyline, pushing the "planned" script sideways. If she's alive, the possibility of a positive turn of events could enhance the ending already plotted. Hmm. We'll see what shapes up.

Okay, I'm off to bed. It's past midnight, my left eye is twitching, and the dog just farted. I need to leave the room immediately! "Nite all." 

Final word count for day twelve:  22,236

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Rocking out to "The One That Got Away" by Katy Perry 
(picture the swivel desk chair swaying, the head bobbing, and a couple other loose body parts swinging to the music...or not)

That's because tonight when I shut down my NaNoWrimo project I'd hit 18,644 words! I'm pattin' my back (okay barely over my shoulder - damn when did my 'flexibility' vanish? I swear, this body needs a tune up!)

Mr. Callahan returned in all his glory. He sat in the bleachers watching volleyball tryouts. After someone went through the routine, he'd hold up a card with a number rating them from 1-10. You got it. The jiggle test! Zoe, however, only rated an 8, which disappointed her, surprising both of us. Tom said she cheated by wearing a sports bra. We also found out in tonight's chapter, that Tom has a side of his life he keeps hidden, until Zoe draws it out of him, forming a bond that will play a big part later. Here's Tom's revelation in tonight's excerpt:

Tom lowered his head, scraping at a fingernail. "We need the money, or did until he lost his job. Now he just sits in the house and drinks, waiting for his unemployment to run out. He's a mean bastard when he's drunk."

A squirmy feeling twisted in my stomach. My next question came out on a whisper. "Does he hurt you or…your mom?"

"Sometimes." Tom's voice cracked and I heard his hard swallow. "Me mostly. I let him take his anger out on me before Mom comes home. She doesn't deserve to be smacked around for nothing."

"Neither do you!" 

 "I can take it. He's a puncher. Stays away from my face most of the time. Sometimes he's so drunk he's passed out by the time I get home." 

Of course once his tough guy facade melts away, he pays Zoe the ultimate compliment, for him, anyway.
"Thanks, Zoe." Tom said softly. "By the way, you're anything but an '8'. You're off the charts."