Top Ten Reason I Haven’t Been Posting Lately

It’s obvious I haven’t been posting lately considering I only wrote one post in July. Here’s why, or maybe I should say, here are my excuses:

(10) I’m lazy.  No wait. Actually I’m not. That little voice in my head, the one that sounds like my mother, it says that I’m lazy. All the time. But it’s not true.

(9) I get easily distracted.

(8) I have needy friends. Okay, they’re not needy, but I need them which means I need to nurture those relationship. This one includes taking care of Ms. BlackBeary, my cat, who is eighteen years old, and a very demanding ol’ lady.

(7) I have a 9-to-5 job that requires my attention.

(6) I do need to eat and sleep. Contrary to that little voice, you know the one, I have to spend time on things besides blogging, things like eating, cleaning (myself and the condo), exercising. Sleeping.

(5) I’m in the middle of repainting my condo. Yes, and during a heat wave at that.

(4) Sometimes, I just don’t feel like sharing. Not today, obviously, but sometimes I’m just not in that place where I want to tell all to whomever is listening.

(3) I’ve been reading. Not only am I a member of a book club, but I read because I’m a writer. And because I enjoy it. Sometimes after everything else going on in my life, I need a refuge from the real world, a place to escape.

(2) I’ve been editing and re-editing, tweaking and wordsmithing a submission to a literary magazine. True by all accounts. I am a perfectionist, and so, even on the last read through, I was still changing things. It took me a  good three weeks to be sort’ov happy with a five thousand word submission. So you can imagine what my novel writing obsessions are like.  And yes, I finally let it out of my nit-picking little hands. I set it free. And I’m still having doubts about it.

(1) I’ve been writing, working on my current project.

Editing: An Easy Way to Check for Over-Used Words

I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I’m in first draft mode, which I am right now, I frequently end up using the same word over and over, and over again. And that’s bad, very very very bad.

I’m a visual person. So this method works for me, and it’s really easy if you’re using MS Word. Basically, I go to the Search (and Replace) function and use the advance features. This allows me to replace a word (or all the same words in the document) with a formatted word.

If you want to try it out, bring up the Find/Replace function, type the over-used word in the “Find what:” field. Type the same word in the “Replace with:” field.

Select More>> in the lower left corner of the default Replace window. In the picture I’ve provided, I’ve already selected More>> so it shows up as <<Less. Then go to Format and Font.

When you do the formatting part, make sure you’ve clicked in the “Replace with:” field so it’s selected, or this won’t work very well.

A picture is always worth a thousand words, at least for a visual person like me.

So voilà: editing

The Secret Way into the Cemetery

0903121607aUvi & Asbe, the story continues… (a bit of back story from my work in progress)

§

Father has taken the long way around, the correct way, the way that Grandfather and Grandmother Ward would take, Mommy takes them through the shortcut. Even so, in the squeaky, pinchy shoes, the walk feels forever. Each step makes Asbe want to wrench the shoes from her feet and throw them as far as she can.

“Don’t snag your clothes,” Mommy says as they sneak through the hole in the shrubs.

As Asbe follows Uvi through the secret passage, she keeps a close watch for the cat. One of Asbe’s favorite stories is how, on one of Mommy’s walks, while she was pregnant with Asbe and Uvi, she followed a cat hoping it would share its wisdom, and it did. The cat showed her the secret way into the cemetery.

The cat told her that the dead are always with us. To be wary, but not afraid.

Asbe likes coming here. Mommy lets her and Uvi run around, lets them play hide and seek or tag. Once Mommy even brought a picnic. She found a grassy spot with a view of the sound, and they spent the afternoon snacking and playing and telling stories.

And she always leaves a bit of food for the cat.

Of course, Father doesn’t know about those times. He wouldn’t approve.

 

2014 IU Flash Fiction Anthology is out…

The 2014 Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Anthology is not only available, it’s free [on Kindle] through May 25th.

AND in it, you’ll find one of my submissions, from the January 11, 2014 contest: Death for Sale.

Here’s the prompt:

Photo by K.S.Brooks ksbooks.com

          Photo by K.S.Brooks
                 ksbooks.com

The car was a 1954 Pontiac. Her first owner was Bill Keenan, a newspaper reporter for the Kansas City Star.

Bill drove the car home and his wife met him out on the front steps and shot him dead. She’d found out about Bill and his secretary.

Now, you can say that didn’t have anything to do with the car, and I guess you’d be right. Still, it seemed to have gotten the car off to a bad start. Over the years, she was owned by 13 people. Every one of those folks was murdered.

I don’t really consider myself to be superstitious, but I don’t see no reason to tempt fate, neither. That’s why I tried to talk Eric out of buying the car. It was useless, of course. He was in love with the thing.

~o~

It took me longer than I expected because I needed to do some research, but the research is a huge part of what I enjoy about putting together a story.  Anyway, below is what I wrote in response to the prompt.  I titled it Bit of a Poke.

This was my response:

“For Christ’s sake, Eric, as if this old heap isn’t bad enough, the steering wheel’s on the wrong side,” Fiona said. “What could possibly have possessed you to buy it?”

“The seller told me a great story.”  Eric smiled the smile, the one that, long ago, had beguiled her into marrying him. “Get this.  All thirteen owners died, uncannie like. Murdered.”

“And dunderheid that you be, you believed him. I dinnae ken what gets into you sometimes.”

“The original awner, a guy named Bill from Kansas, well, his wee wife shot him the day he brung it home. Apparently ol’ Bill was giving his secretary a bit of a poke on the side.”

Fiona felt her face burn.

“The seller swears a brollachan possesses this here motorcar. Swears it pops out every now and again and enters a human’s body. Poor awners always seem to get the warst of it.”

She clenched her fists, digging her nails into her palms. “Really?”

“The second awner, another damn American looking to live in the Highlands, brung it over and, get this, he ended up being kil’t by an axe murderer. In the garage. Right beside it. It’s wickit. A brollachan makes sense.” He smiled again, darker this time. “And the murderers either weren’t caught or convicted.”

“So why the f–  Why would you buy it, you eeejit?”  She watched Eric’s eyes go dark, then glow red.

“Did I forget to tell you, you unfaithful cow, I put the car in your name?”

Flash.Fiction: Snowman (and older entry)

Photo by K.S.Brooks ksbrooks.com

              Photo by K.S.Brooks
                    ksbrooks.com

This is one of my flash fiction entries, an older one, from the Indies Unlimited, February 1, 2014 contest.

The prompt was:

State Trooper Tom Dewitt pulled up on what he thought was a vehicle that had gotten stuck in the snow and abandoned by its occupants. The vehicle was no longer running and he couldn’t see anyone inside.

He didn’t want to stop, fearful that his own car might become stuck as well. He drove slowly by, and craned his neck to look into the other car.

The two occupants were slumped toward each other, and from the blood splattered on the headrests, Tom knew the serial killer they called the Snowman had returned. What Tom did not know was that the Snowman was still there…

And my response:

Tom enjoyed working with his partner Tommy. They seemed to share something, some deeper understanding he’d never had with other partners. Tommy, normally called Tom, went by Tommy on the job so it wouldn’t be so hard for the other officers to differentiate between them.

But even having Tommy in the car with him didn’t make what Tom was seeing any easier. Two bodies bathed in blood and frozen stiff, yet clasping each other as if seeking solace in their final moments, a sight gruesome enough to turn the most seasoned officer’s stomach. The Snowman, that bastard, had claimed two more.

“You okay?” Tommy said.

“Just makes me queasy. They’re the first ones I’ve had to report.”

“You want me to—”

“No. I got it. Thanks.”

Suppressing the urge to puke, Tom called it in. With the knee deep snow, they’d need a truck to haul the car to the station.

“What kind of person could do this, Tommy?”

“Dude, maybe it’s an illness. Like maybe the guy’s a schizophrenic or someth—”

“That’s no excuse. There’s a world of difference between being a psycho and being a monster.”

“I’m just saying. He could be sick, inside. Yet… Yet, look totally normal, like us, on the outside—”

“Give it a rest, alright.”

Tom turned the radio up, and the two waited in silence.

Forty-five intolerable minutes later, Jameson tapped on the window.

“Tom, you okay?”

Tom nodded.

“Man, it must have been creepy sitting here all by yourself.”

Flash.Fiction: The Sucker Punch

As soon as I read this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction challenge, I knew the story in my head. I just had to write it.

Photo Copyright K. S. Brooks

The prompt is:

Blaine slipped out the back of the wedding hall. He couldn’t believe Tiffany was marrying that no-good cowboy. Roy McCoy had slithered his way into Tiffany’s life while Blaine was in Iraq. It wasn’t right. He had emailed her every day and Skyped whenever he could. Why hadn’t that been enough? He wasn’t really gone that long. She should have waited for him.

He gazed upon the unprotected refreshments. His grip tightened around the bottle of ipecac. “Speak now or forever hold your peace,” wafted out from the hall. Blaine took a deep breath…

And my response (250 words):

The green punch, old Roy-Boy, his onetime best friend, would go for the green punch and add a hefty dose of JD to it while that lying little— while Tiffany wasn’t looking.

Blaine was pretty sure the ipecac wouldn’t hurt anyone, anyone abstaining that is. Besides, if he remembered correctly—and his memory was a bit hazy these days—Tiffany and all her friends were teetotalers. Something about the ipecac… The very bottle in his hand had been in the last “care” package she’d sent him. In his head, something flared like distant artillery.

Sure he had a problem. But barfing up what little they got to eat… Barfing in that heat wasn’t going to make Iraq a happier place. What made things better was a good dose of anti-reality, easily found in the rotgut liquor all too available in Iraq.

“—may kiss the bride.”

Too late. Blaine heard the crowd exploding as the happy couple walked down the aisle.  He pocketed the ipecac and stepped back into the shadows of the reception hall.

And who stopped right in front of the alcove in which he hid? The Bride and Groom, of course.

“Don’t cry, hon,” Rat-Roy said.

“You know I love you.” Two-Timing-Tiffany sniffed into a tissue. “But this, this isn’t what I pictured.”

“I loved him too, you know. I wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t—”

Something fired in Blaine’s memory.

“I’d already planned,” Roy said. “I’m going to make a memorial speech at the reception.”

~ o ~

NOTE: On Wednesday (January 21st) afternoon, IU opens voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

I’d really really — really —  love it if you’d vote for my entry. No login / user account creation is required to vote.

Dear NaNoWriMo – It’s not You. It’s Me.

So far, I’ve written almost 6K words this month.

In NaNo terms, I suck.  I should have at least 30K words written by now, but life has gotten in the way.

Not only did my laptop develop a nasty virus, but my beloved Miata, now my second car, thank goodness, died, literally. It emits not a single sound when I turn the key.

This week I have spent numerous hours with my new friend Norton in Safe Mode and have since conquered the nasty Powelik Trojan, but the Miata is still quiet. My car savvy friends–my engineering degree involved fluid dynamics, so I can tell you why it drives fast, but not why it won’t start–anyway, my car savvy friends think it could be a freaky battery problem or something as simple as a burnt fuse. I don’t know. I haven’t had time to figure it out because on top of car and laptop problems, work has been an absolute pain in the hiney.

The fact that I wrote nearly 200 words today, besides this blog post, is an accomplishment, at least in my world.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo NaNo, as much as you remind me of my ex-husband or maybe because you remind me of my ex-husband, I’m breaking up with you. I love you, and I absolutely hate you. I always thought you would be able to lift me up, but I know now that I was putting too much responsibility on you. I thought that every minute away from you would be an unbearable misery, but you know what? It’s not. Real life, for me, has to take precedence.

I’m okay being alone. Really.

And I know you’ll be better off without me. Without me bringing your numbers, your statistics down.

What can I say? It’s not you. It’s me.

(Actually, you can think whatever you like to feel better about yourself. I don’t care. What I’ve said isn’t a hundred percent true, but I’m okay with you making me the bad guy.)

And to be kind’ov honest, I never really loved you that much anyway.

NaNoWriMo: A Love/Hate Story

IMG_20140608_111859Today, I wrote almost 500 words.

But for NaNoWriMo, what with it’s snarky, guilt inducing charts readily displaying my stats, I’ve fallen behind. I’m a slacker. I suck. In eight days I’ve yet to write five thousand words, while I should have 13k+ words written by now.

And– and if I keep going at this rate, it’ll be January 23rd before I reach the 50k word goal.

You know what I say? I say, fuck that.

The words I wrote today are good words, words that I’d be willing to show anyone–in fact I just might post them here. I didn’t just sit and write a bunch of crap so that I could fill in a little box that says “Today you wrote 1667 words. You’re a superstar.” I wrote a decent piece of prose.

So why even participate? you ask. I participate because it helps motivate me to write everyday, to not let other get in the way. I use NaNo. Yes, I do. I use it and abuse it, and I absolutely won’t respect it in the morning.

I only wish other writers went into it with this spirit. Because what I hate most about NaNo is that it gives writers the hope that they can write a novel in a month. They can’t. If they are very, very–very–lucky, on November 30th they will have a shitty first draft. And even then, if the person just sat and wrote 1667 words each day, with no real though on style/structure/voice/quality, the 50k words they end up with might not even be good enough to re-work. It might be better to just start over and write the story again. From scratch.

So I love NaNo for motivating me, for nagging me even if it does get very condescending about my worth as a writer if I can’t produce 50k words in a month. Yes, I do tend to let others, including a snarky graph, define my self-worth, but then I suspect others besides me do as well.

And I hate NaNo for implying that quantity is more important than quality.

~ o ~

I’ll leave you with an alleged conversation held with James Joyce:

“I’ve been working hard on [Ulysses] all day,” said Joyce.

“Does that mean that you have written a great deal?” I said.

“Two sentences,” said Joyce.

I looked sideways but Joyce was not smiling. I thought of [French novelist Gustave] Flaubert. “You’ve been seeking the mot juste?” I said.

“No,” said Joyce. “I have the words already. What I am seeking is the perfect order of words in the sentence.”

 

 

Asbe & Uvi – The Story Begins

This is the first little bit of a sub-story that I’m writing as part of my Work-in-Progress. There’s much more. In fact I’m working on it today, much further into this story line, but I thought I’d share some of it with you.  It’s still in the first draft phase.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

§

Asbe pretends to be asleep as Uvi creeps toward her. Father won’t let them sleep in the same bed, says it’s not right. So, as soon as Uvi wakes, he sneaks into bed with her. Every day he tries to trick her. He tries so hard to be quiet, wanting to scare her or maybe surprise her, but he has all the grace of a baby bear.

With her eyes closed, she pictures him getting nearer, can hear each tip-toed step across their bedroom’s rugs, first his football rug and then her Winnie the Pooh rug. She can hear his soft intake of breath as his excitement builds, feels him climb up onto her bed. She pretends to roll over in her sleep facing him so that he doesn’t have to crawl over her. Last time, scrambling over her, his knee went into her belly making her nearly pee on herself.

She waits until he’s poised, kneeling on the bed beside her, waits until she feels his warm breath on her face. He has done this a thousand times, yet he is still surprised when she opens her eyes and whispers in their secret language, “<Caught you.>”

Uvi falls down on the bed beside her and laughs. She loves the sound of his laughter. So she reaches her hands out and tickles him until they are both wiggling and giggling, quietly.

After tickling is over, they snuggle together, Uvi wrapping his arms around her, both relishing the moment. Once Father is aware they’re awake, they will have to be separate. It feels unnatural to be separate, but even at age five they know to obey Father.

“<How old are we today?>” Uvi says.

Asbe holds up her hand showing five fingers. “<This many.>”

“<Nu-uh.>”

She hugs him close. “<Hu-huh, our birthday.>”

“<What we do today?>”

“<Don’t know.>”

Uvi pushes her away and clambers his way to his knees, sensing the air like a dog. “<I smell pancakes.>”

“<I hope they’re blueberry.>”

“<Me too. Birthday pancakes.>” Falling back onto the bed facing her, he laughs as if it’s the funniest joke he’s ever heard and then slaps his hand over his mouth.

Asbe puts a finger to his lips, reminding him to be quiet.

He nods.

She tugs the blanket over him. “<Maybe the park?>”

He smiles, his eyes closing. “<Maybe a party.>”

She pulls him closer, breathing in the scent of sleep sweat on his jammies and the Johnson’s Baby Shampoo that Mommy uses on both of them, and allows her eyes to close as well, allows herself to feel how natural it is to have Uvi beside her. Just for a couple of minutes.

Milestone: 1K Visits

Yay!!!  My first real post was published on June 1st of this year.  And in that three and a half months, I’ve now had 1000 visits to my page.

For some of you, that may not sound like a lot, but I’m building a presence and only posting about me and my writing. Plus, I suck at marketing myself, or anything. So it’s spectacular that I’ve had 1000 visits already.

Thank you all for visiting!!