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Taking on a Life of Their Own

I’m writing again and not just this blog and tweets hurled at the current occupant of the White House (Secret Service hasn’t been by to visit). In order to have new material, I have to sit down and actually create it (no chip in my head to translate to the Internet for your viewing pleasure. It’s a crazy, scary, jumbled mess up there anyway with calculations, mortgage guidelines, cat videos/memes/memories, and visualization of myself with the winning Powerball ticket. And stories, fragments, and “what ifs.” If my brain was a TV show, it would be an episode of “Hoarders” subtitled “The Craziest Pile of Shit We’ve Found Yet.”)

Looks about right

Looks about right

But I digress.

So, I’ve started work on a short story (whopping 802 words over 3 nights. Woo). I start out with pen and notebook (leopard print) writing narrative. It’s like jump-starting a standard transmission; hold in the clutch, get your friends to push it, when you get to around 10 MPH, pop it in first. My throwing it into first is moving the words from ink and paper to pixels on a screen.

And, that’s where the craziness happens.

Ask any author (and any author who reads this blog is invited to comment): At some point, your characters stop obeying your wishes and start doing things on their own. For instance, my current story (it’s a short story, so if I post spoilers, there won’t be anything left for you to read). I had an idea for what I wanted Patti and Ed to do. Their own words started coming out of their mouths. And then they started moving and doing “stuff” faster than I could keep up.

Time to turn off the motor, i.e., go back to the pen and paper to take notes.  (Please note: that is the proper use of i.e. Merriam-Webster wouldn’t lie)

This is really my notebook

This is really my notebook

So, I started scribbling. (I’m afraid to try to read my own handwriting) Dialogue fragments, questions to myself about the direction, various storylines (my initial one wasn’t necessarily going to remain). I almost wish I smoked (Never have). Just seems like a cigarette would be a useful prop for thinking. Cross-outs, margin notes, more questions…

All because two imaginary people decided to take on a life of their own.

My goal is to have this story complete (edited, printed, bound) in time for Book Obsessed Babes 2017 in Jacksonville on April 8 (Should my local friends read this, bring back a bagel and coffee from Einstein’s for me on Sunday, please).

After I finish writing this post, finding amusing photos to insert (or half naked men. They can be amusing, too), I will see where Patti and Ed lead me.

Half naked

Half naked

 

OFFICIAL Online Book Club Review

[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of “These Foolish Things” by Susan Thatcher.]

Despite Tyler Hadley giving Liz Gardner a shiner their first meeting, the sparks are definitely flying off. Liz has been burned one too many times before and Ty does not look like the type to look for a serious relationship. It seems like their road to a happily ever after is paved in hesitancy and difficulties but with the help of one loony judge and an escape artist cat, will these two make their relationship work?

These Foolish Things by Susan Thatcher is a contemporary romance set in the mid to late 1990s in Boston. Although it was set when I was still in elementary school and I don’t live in the Boston area, the author was able to describe the time and place well that I pictured the setting easily. 

I liked the characters better in this book because they weren’t young and perfect. Ty especially wasn’t perfect, there were many times that he was a jerk but he redeemed himself every time. Liz was okay; she had some issues growing up and had hang ups causing her to almost give up on relationships. The supporting characters were also interesting especially Judge McCafferty and Beanie the cat. Liz’s gang also made the book more colorful.

What I liked best about this book is the way the hero and the heroine met. They collided while playing softball which resulted in Liz getting a black eye. Although they started a little violently, there were no domestic violence and abuse between the main characters; at least I don’t think so. I also liked the circumstances in which they started dating, it certainly was unusual. I don’t know how, but the love and romance between them was apparent and didn’t feel forced which is another thing that I liked.

What I did not like about the book was that there were too many conflicts that arose during the course of the whole story. Because of this, the climax for this book wasn’t too powerful. Nonetheless, I am still giving this book a 3 out of 4 star rating because I like it enough to recommend that other people read it.

***
Buy “These Foolish Things” on Amazon

“Baldie Chronicles” Sample

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING CAREFULLY: THIS IS A RAW SAMPLE FROM A WORK IN PROGRESS CALLED “THE BALDIE CHRONICLES.” IT IS NOT YET PUBLISHED. IT IS NOT YET FINISHED. (PROTECTED, THOUGH) THE COVER IS SOMETHING THAT I THREW TOGETHER ABOUT 5 MINUTES AGO. I AM ASKING FOR COMMENTS, THOUGHTS, OPINIONS, WHETHER OR NOT YOU ARE INTERESTED. IF YOU READ, PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT. THANK YOU.

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Why me?

Elizabeth Gardner was sitting in Dr. Keiller’s office wondering what it was that had brought her to an oncologist.
The mammogram tech had muttered something about “calcifications” and taken extra views of Liz’s left breast. Dr. Chevalier, the radiologist had said something about a “definite mass” and referred her to Dr. Keiller for a biopsy.
“Mother?”
Liz started a bit. “Excuse me?”
Dr. Keiller smiled. “It’s okay,” she said. “A lot of patients have a hard time focusing once they’re in here. Tell me about your mother.”
“Um, she died six months ago. Lung cancer.”
“Smoker?”
Liz nodded. “Pack a day. Marlboro Reds.”
Dr. Keiller made a note. “Did she quit?”
“Not even with an oxygen tank.”
“Father?”
“Gone 5 years. Car accident.”
“And you?”
“Me? I’m still here.” Liz joked. The doctor barely smiled. Okay, not time for humor. “I’ve never smoked. Up until a couple of years ago, my co-workers were allowed to smoke at their desks, but I never did.” Sensing the next questions. “Look, I’m not much of a drinker and I don’t do drugs.” She gestured at her rounded body. “My thing is food.”
“How about your grandmothers? Aunts?”
“No. No breast cancer there.” Bitterness and spite that went to the bone, perhaps, but not cancer. “One grandmother died of kidney failure and the other one had heart trouble.” Like no heart, Liz thought.
“You brought up food. High fat diet? There are studies linking it to cancer.”
“Doctor, truthfully, there may be studies that link too many orgasms to cancer. I eat a lot. Probably more junk than I should.” Liz was having a hard time holding onto her cool. “If this IS cancer, is dieting going to reverse it?”
“Probably not. The studies aren’t complete.”
“So, where do we stand?” Where do I stand?
Dr. Keiller flipped a page in her appointment book. “Next Tuesday, I have an opening at 1 PM.”
“I’ll take it.” The doctor wrote out a card with the information. Liz shook her hand and left.
As she walked back to her car, Liz’s brain kept circling back to the conversation. Breast cancer. Maybe yes, maybe no, but…
Crap.
I don’t need this; I really don’t, thought Liz as she climbed into her car. She tried to focus on navigating the twisting streets of the North Shore, but part of her mind was replaying the last 6 months in her head.
First, her mom had died after a long bout with lung cancer. Liz remembered the oxygen tank, the endless drifts of used Kleenex (some spattered with blood), the pills. She remembered pulling her mother off the kitchen floor one night because Delia had been sneaking out to the garage for a smoke and was too weak to make it. The first home health aide had stolen money and a credit card. Liz had found out the second one used to go out to meet her boyfriend in the middle of her shift. After that, Liz had pulled strings to get Delia checked into the local hospice. They’d made a point of telling Liz what a difficult patient she’d been while talking about the generous donations the families of other patients, nicer patients had made.
About 2 months after her mother’s death, Liz’s old faithful orange cat, Brubeck, had died. He’d seen her through high school, college, law school at night, heartbreak and been a huggable furry rock in her life. Millie Wentworth had offered to get her a kitten right away, but Liz had refused. You can’t replace such a good friend; Brube deserved to be missed and mourned.
Liz also found out she’d flunked the bar exam for the second time. By one point. One lousy, rotten, stinking point. And Brubeck wasn’t there to let her cry into his fur.
Now this.
With any luck, the mass would be a cyst. And she’d promise her doctor that she’d cut down out coffee, chocolate, anything with caffeine. And she’d promise to lose weight and exercise at the same time.
At a stoplight, Liz thought, with any luck, it would be a cyst but luck hadn’t been part of her life for a while.
She pulled into her driveway, turned off the engine and sat for a minute. In hindsight, she was glad that she’d decided to pass on her third attempt at the bar for now. She would have really waffled it.
As she unlocked her back door and entered the kitchen, Liz noticed the dirty dishes in the sink and a loaf of bread left open on the counter.
“Morgan?”
No answer. Liz could hear muffled music. Morgan was probably in her room with the TV on. Before heading upstairs, she loaded the dishwasher, put away the bread and wiped down the counters. Morgan was not very conscientious.
As Liz walked through the living room, she noticed the phone was off the hook. That meant one thing: Sean was here. Ducky.
Liz was just about to knock on Morgan’s door when the music paused and she heard Morgan moan loudly and a man’s rhythmic grunting. She also caught a faint whiff of pot smoke coming from under the door. Lovely. Well, that explained the mess in the kitchen. Morgan’s boyfriend was a moocher, a stoner and spoiled rotten by his well-to-do parents. He always seemed to turn up after Liz had gone grocery shopping. Morgan never had any real food of her own; she seemed to live on boxed macaroni and cheese, takeout pizza (with leftovers staying in the fridge until Liz threw them out) and Diet Coke. Despite Liz carefully explaining that she wasn’t shopping for the entire household, a lot of food disappeared each week. And it had become necessary for Liz to hide the liquor.
The music stopped and was replaced by muffled conversation. Liz crossed her arms and leaned on the wall. She had a pretty good idea of what was coming next.
The door opened a crack and the talk became clearer. “C’mon, Baby, just cook up that beautiful steak. You always make me work up a sweat, you bad girl.” Liz heard what sounded like a slap, probably on Morgan’s ass. “She won’t miss it. It’s not like she’s going to starve anytime soon.”
As they emerged from the room, Morgan was saying, “We’ve gotta get rid of the pot smell because…”
“She doesn’t allow it in the house,” finished Liz. Morgan and Sean stopped dead in their tracks. “It’s in your lease. No illegal drugs.” She had meant to talk about her upcoming biopsy with Morgan, but this wasn’t the moment.
There was silence for a minute. Liz stared calmly at the pair who began to fidget.
Sean spoke first, “Look, it’s just some pot.”
Liz didn’t move. “I don’t care. It’s illegal. I don’t want it in my house.”
Morgan got defensive. “You have booze.”
“I don’t get to hold onto it very long, do I, Sean?” Liz answered sharply. He looked uncomfortable. She continued, “If this was 1930, I wouldn’t have booze in the house.” Liz was exasperated. “Morgan, this isn’t the first time we’ve had this discussion.”
Morgan shifted on her feet. “I know and we weren’t gonna smoke, but Sean was telling me about this new strain and it’s primo bud and, well, he was showing me and the next thing you know…” she shrugged, caught Sean’s eye and giggled. He pinched her ass which made her giggle even more.
“I don’t care if it’s smoked, raw, rolled in cornflakes, dipped in chocolate or the Breakfast of Champions…”
“Oh hey, this one is called ‘Breakfast of Champions,” James interjected.
Liz gave him a look and he shut up. “Do not bring it into my house in any form.” Liz looked at both of them. “Is that clear?” Morgan looked sulky.
“And Sean?” He looked at Liz.
“That ‘beautiful steak’ is earmarked for something else. You have a job. Buy your own damned food; I’m sick of feeding you. Starting right now, unless you buy it, you don’t eat it. And since Morgan hasn’t gone grocery shopping, I guess you two are leaving to find something to eat.”
Sean looked shame-faced and mumbled something about being broke from buying weed. Liz made a mock sympathetic face. “And…what a surprise…here you are with the munchies. How could you have known?” She turned to Morgan, “So it’s going to be a bag of Cheetos from Cumbie’s. Sounds perfect.” As she turned towards her own room, Morgan took a last shot.
“God, why are you such an uptight bitch?”
Liz turned and looked at her. “It’s an ugly job, but someone’s gotta do it.” She walked away from the pair and shut the door behind her. She thought she heard, “Hippo” come from the other side of the door.
Liz pulled on her favorite old sweats and padded downstairs. She needed Millie. And she needed nachos. As the chips and cheese bubbled away in the microwave, Liz dialed Millie’s number. Millie answered as the microwave dinged its end signal.
“Hey, what’s up?” Millie asked.
Liz dumped salsa on the plateful. No mystery why she wasn’t a slender reed. She dug in. “Might have a problem.”
“Only one?” Liz could hear the sound of Millie struggling with a zipper on her end. “I could make out a list for you.”
“Starting with my lousy taste in friends. Har dee har har. No, this is serious. Focus.”
“I can’t stop for too long. Getting ready for a date.” Millie was breathing heavily.
“Oh, yeah? Do I know him?”
“I doubt it. His name is John; he’s in the DA’s office. We got each other’s coffee at Dunks the other day and there was an argument and he said he thought I was cute and…”
Liz snorted. “Really? Are you sure it wasn’t more like he got your coffee and you clobbered him with your briefcase? I’ve seen you before you’ve had your morning coffee. It’s not pleasant.” She crunched on a loaded chip. “Thank God I don’t have to do that nonsense anymore.”
She heard Millie mutter, “Yeah, right.” Millie was not a fan of Brad, Liz’s boyfriend.
“Stop crunching in my ear. We’re going out. What’s the problem?”
Liz told her about the mammogram and upcoming biopsy. She heard Millie’s activity stop.
“Liz, what do you think?”
“I don’t know what to think. Biopsy’s not until next week and I have to keep going until then.”
“Do you want me to cancel and come over there?” She would have.
“No. You go bamboozle this guy into thinking you’re wonderful and tell me what lies I’ll need to swear to later.” Liz hung up the phone and finished her nachos. As she rinsed off the plate and loaded it into the dishwasher, Liz thought about her life and where she stood.
35 years old, parents gone, no siblings, cousins she didn’t see often (and didn’t really want to, either) and she had people calling her “Hippo” behind her back. People who were living under her roof mostly because she didn’t want to be alone.
Liz made her way to her living room and sofa. She hugged a pillow to her chest. It wasn’t warm and purring like Brubeck had been, but it would have to do. She drew herself into a ball around the pillow and closed her eyes.
35 years old and never really lived, she thought. I’ve existed.
She buried her face in the pillow for a minute, trying to pretend it could purr.

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Tooting My Own Horn

I may be thinking like the six year old version of me, but it believe I have written a story (and continue to write, I swear) that is a potential international best seller, even if I did publish it myself (Although the odds are long, it could happen. I have taken the first big step: publication).

I mean, I’m getting reviews like this:

“I am not one for staying up all night reading a book, but I did for this one.”

And…

“The ups and downs that Liz and Ty go through are so real life for so many mature couples these days. “

Or…

“enjoyed every moment of this novel not once but twice! Thanks for a well thought out, well written story!”

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I even made a video!

Promo video!

And until August 31, use the coupon code for 50% off at Smashwords.

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