Friday, December 28, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-December 28, 2018

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

We had a wonderful Christmas here. The kids loved their gifts, and we got to spend some good quality time with family. We had no snow on the ground for Christmas, which is unusual for where we live. I didn't mind, though. It made for safer driving conditions than we've had in the past, which was nice.

I had an ultrasound the day after Christmas, and I'm excited to announce that I'm having a baby girl! That means I'll have two boys and two girls. I'll have a full house in 2019, won't I?

As far as writing goes, I'm feeling pretty positive at the moment. Writers often have ups and downs. We may be surging in confidence one month, only to be plagued with doubt the next. Since I'm currently in a positive place, I plan to take advantage of that and get some good work done.

Lastly, I can't believe it's the last Friday of 2018! The year has flown by for me. I'm looking forward to 2019, though. I hope it'll be a good year.

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, December 21, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-December 21, 2018

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

I'm celebrating the fact that my son Lyle got student of the month for his class, and he got to be honored at a high school basketball game last night. Both he and Jude were excited to watch the game, and Zoe kept following the tiger mascot around the school so she could hug him. All in all, it was a good night.

Editing on my novel WIP is going slow, but I'm happy with the progress I've made so far. I plan to keep working on it as much as I can over the next week, though I'm certainly going to be busy with other things, too. We'll see how it goes.

To all of you out there who celebrate, I'd like to say Merry Christmas! My kids are definitely excited. I absolutely love watching them get out of bed on Christmas morning and rush to the tree to open their presents.

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, December 14, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-December 14, 2018

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

My boys had a school Christmas concert last night. They always enjoy being on stage. Jude's class was part of a short musical that made up the last half of the concert, and he had some lines to memorize. He worked so hard on them and was so excited about learning his part.

I finished writing and editing a short story this week. I submitted it on Wednesday. Whether it ends up being accepted or not, it always feels good to submit my work.

I also pulled out a novel draft that's mostly written. Right now it's sitting at about 88,000 words. The ending tripped me up, so I put it down for a little while. I plan to start reading through it, making some notes, and coming up with some idea of how to end it. Then I can hopefully start editing it!

Also, I'm excited to announce that my short story "A Meal for Dragons" has been published in the newly release Young Explorer's Adventure Guide, Volume 5. This was such a fun story to write! You can find the book for sale on Amazon. You can also add it on Goodreads!

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, December 7, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-December 7, 2018

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

I'd like to start this celebration by announcing that, as of yesterday, I have a new nephew! The kids are excited about having a new cousin in the family.

I'm also celebrating the fact that we're essentially done with Christmas shopping. We still have to pick up a few stocking stuffers, but the majority of the work is done. This is the earliest we've ever finished with our shopping, and I'm pretty happy about that. It makes life far less stressful.

I'm also nearly done with the rough draft of a short story. I plan to finish it in the next couple of days, then edit and submit it. Regardless of whether submission goes well, I'm always happy to have finished a story.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: December 2018

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and you know what that means! Let's convene another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group! Our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has gathered another bunch of co-hosting minions for this month: J.H. Moncrieff, Tonja Drecker, Patsy Collins, and Chrys Fey.

Don't forget to check out the IWSG website for great articles and resources!

The optional question for this month is: What are five objects we'd find in your writing space?

This is an excellent question. Every writer has their must-have writing items. Here are mine.

1. Laptop
     This is an indispensable item for obvious reasons. Without it, I can't type. I can also use my laptop to listen to music while I work, and this helps inspire and motivate me. Unfortunately, the internet access it offers often leads to distraction, but I can hardly blame the computer for that.

2. Coffee mug
     The mug is often filled with coffee, sometimes with tea. These beverages help me get into the zone in terms of writing. They're also delicious, so that certainly helps with their appeal.

3. Water bottle
     This is a must. Sometimes I need a good sip of water, and I don't want to get up in the middle of a scene if I can help it. Having this close at hand helps minimize distractions and keeps me working.
4. Stack of notebooks
     When I'm out and about, I can't always have my laptop handy. I try to always keep a notebook with me, though, because ideas don't care whether I'm near my laptop or not.
5. Lamp
     I need plenty of light to write by, especially since I do most of my writing at night after my kids have gone to bed. Without a good lamp, it would be a lot harder for me to get my work done.

What five things could we expect to find in your writing space?

Saturday, December 1, 2018

WEP/IWSG December Challenge-Ribbons and Candles

Is it December already? I honestly don't know where the year has gone. It's already time for another WEP/IWSG challenge! The theme for this month is Ribbons and Candles. There's so much room for interpretation with this one.

I intended to write a happier story than the one I ended up writing. I don't know why my mind tends to go dark with these prompts. Maybe that's just the kind of person that I am.

Now on to the story!

Tied With a Bow

Terra’s mother spent an hour meticulously brushing her long black hair and weaving silky red ribbons into her braids. Those patient hands finished the task by patting them gently into place and resting there for a long moment.

The dress Terra wore was the same shade of red as her ribbons and shone softly in the dim light of her bedroom. The candles on her bedside table cast flickering shadows on the walls. When she was little, she used to imagine those shadows were monsters creeping in the night. At age fifteen, she was too old for that kind of nonsense. There were monsters in the world, but they didn’t lurk in the shadows. They looked you right in the eye and told you how they intended to take your life away.

Now that the preparations were done, Terra’s mother sat in a chair in the corner of the room. Her face was entirely bathed in shadow, but her eyes reflected just enough of the light to remain visible. They remained fixed on her, gaze unwavering. Terra imagined her mother was trying to burn these last moments with her into her mind so she could remember every detail. Or perhaps her mother would end her life soon after the carriage left, and she wanted to have these last moments to reflect on her decision. She wouldn’t be the first parent to have taken this escape route from her grief, after all.

A soft sob came from the other end of the room. The twins Gabby and Danielle huddled together on the bottom bunk of the bed they shared. They too were wearing fine dresses, Gabby in emerald green and Danielle in powder blue. Their blond hair, however, showed a distinct lack of care, the ribbons not so painstakingly done. They were orphaned when they were five, so a woman named Dahlia had to do it for them. Unfortunately, there was much work to be done, so Dahlia didn’t have time to strive for perfection.

Terra lost her own father at the same time the twins lost their parents, and the memories of him grew fainter with each passing year. She sat on the edge of her bed, gathering her threadbare blanket in her hands for the final time, and wondered what he would think of all this. Would he have been horrified? Would he have understood the necessity of it all? Terra didn’t dare ask her mother. Even now, a decade after losing him, the very mention of her deceased husband brought her to tears. Terra preferred to fantasize that he’d have stepped in to stop it, that maybe he’d have gathered his family and led them to safety under the cover of night.

It was a silly fantasy, though. Disappearing into the night without a large group or weapons was far too dangerous. Only a crazy few attempted to go outside the bounds of established communities.

When the graves spilled forth their dead ten years prior, it seemed the entire world had ended. Death was an inescapable fact, and all would turn. Unlike fiction that existed prior to the apocalypse, destroying the brain wasn’t enough. Bodies had to be burned to ash to prevent the unholy resurrections from taking place. This made ridding the countryside of the lurching dead particularly difficult.

Safety and survival became the ultimate goal, and many were willing to pay any price to achieve that for themselves. The most violent of the survivors banded together and offered other communities their protection, but at a high cost. Of course, those in charge were never left to pick up the tab for that security. They fancied themselves too important for that. Terra imagined one of those creepy old decision-makers being forced to weave ribbons in their hair and be presented as gifts to their violent overlords. It would never happen, of course, but it made for a more pleasing fantasy than most.

A soft knock on the door interrupted Terra’s troubled thoughts. A moment later, Dahlia leaned inside and spoke. “The caravan has arrived. You need to come downstairs now.”

Terra’s mother let out a choked sob. She longed to comfort her, but she feared if she wrapped her arms around her mother’s frail frame, she’d never let go. Terra stepped forward, her chin held high. Gabby and Danielle fell into step behind her, though their tears continued to fall. Terra felt the urge to cry bubbling beneath the surface, but she forced it down. She refused to give anyone the satisfaction of seeing her break down.

Word Count: 974

Friday, November 30, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-November 30, 2018

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

I'm sorry I didn't post last week. I wish I could offer a good excuse, but I honestly just forgot. I had Thanksgiving and Zoe's birthday going on, and I had a doctor's appointment early Friday morning. With all that going on, posting on here slipped my mind. I'm sure all of you understand. We've all been there, haven't we?

Zoe had a good birthday. She got some presents that she absolutely loved, and she got to eat plenty of birthday cake. She was so messy after the cake portion of the evening, but she looked so adorable I didn't mind cleaning up the mess.

The doctor's appointment I had was a pre-natal appointment, and I'm happy to say that the baby is doing well so far. I'm sixteen weeks in with another twenty-four or so weeks left to go. I'm sure the time will fly by. It always does.

We're also excited because my sister-in-law will be having a baby next week. The kids are definitely excited to welcome a new nephew into the world.

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, November 16, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-November 16, 2018

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

Earlier this week, I was having serious computer problems. My computer suddenly started running so slow I could hardly get anything done on it. That certainly didn't help with this week's writing goals, but I can make up for that later. My husband, who knows a ton about computers, took a look at it and guessed I probably had a virus hidden away somewhere. I had to back everything up so he could reformat it for me. It was a pain, but my computer is running normally again, so I'm happy about that.

Zoe's birthday is next week. I can't believe she's turning two already! Her birthday falls on Thanksgiving this year, so that makes it an extra special day.

To all of my blogging friends in the United States, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, November 9, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-November 9, 2018

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

I just started writing a new short story this week. There's a part of me that feels guilty for not participating in NaNo, but I'm still writing and I'm excited about the story I'm telling. That's certainly worth celebrating.

I also started outlining an idea I had for a middle grade sci-fi novel. I'm not sure when or if I'll write it since the idea is in its beginning stages, but it's always exciting to have a new idea fresh in your head.

We actually got a lot of Christmas shopping done this past week. We're usually the type of people who wait until the last minute to get that stuff done, so I'm kind of proud that we're on the ball this time around.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: November 2018

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time for another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group! Our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has rounded up another group of fantastic co-hosts: Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Ann V. Friend, JQ Rose, and Elizabeth Seckman.

Be sure to visit the IWSG website!

The optional question for this month is: How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?

Being a creative person means learning to seek and embrace inspiration from all aspects of life. Painters, sculptors,  architects, musicians, writers, and people in countless other professions use their creativity every day. Their art evolves and changes over time as they navigate the world. They allow the world to shape and mold them and inspire their art, but their art also shapes and molds how they see their world.

I've always wanted to be a writer, so I've been exercising my creative muscles for a long time. The stories I wrote as a kid were simplistic and fun, mostly because that was the way I experienced life as a child. The older I get and the more I mature, the more experience I have to draw from when it comes to creating stories and characters. I learn more about how people think and feel from both interacting with them in real life and writing them on the page. My experiences in the world help me create more complex characters and explore the nuance in situations that I once thought were black and white.

Most importantly, though, my evolving creativity has allowed me to empathize with people who are different from me. Through my experiences in writing characters, I've learned to place myself in their shoes and attempt to understand how they see the world. This translates to daily life, and having the ability to empathize with others is something the world truly needs.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-November 2, 2018

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain. I am her co-host.

First of all, I'm celebrating the fact that I'm having a good writing week. That's always worthy of celebration. While I'm not participating in NaNo, I still want to get a lot of good work done this week if I can.

We did pumpkin carving this week, and I have photos of the results. I'd say they turned out pretty good overall.

The kids had a great time trick-or-treating, and the weather was great for it. We were able to stay out the entire two hours, and they enjoyed every minute of it. It's always fun seeing all the great costumes. Speaking of kids in costumes, here's a picture of mine all dressed up and ready to go.

I also have some pretty big news to announce, and I've been sitting on it for a little while. We're expecting a new baby in May. I'll admit that I'm a bit intimidated by the idea of having four kids to wrangle, but I'm sure I'll get the hang of it. The boys were over the moon when we told them the news. Zoe doesn't understand what's happening yet, but I have the feeling she'll make a wonderful big sister.

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-October 26, 2018

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

First of all, I'd like to say Happy Halloween to those of you who are planning to celebrate! We have decorations and costumes ready to go. The kids can't wait to go trick-or-treating.

It's been a bit of a crazy week. I'd never thought rock-paper-scissors could be a dangerous game, but my boys found a way to make it hazardous. They were leaning too close together, and Lyle accidentally scratched Jude's eye. He could barely open it for more than a day, and it still looks completely bloodshot. The good news is, he has eye drops to prevent infection, the pain has gone away at this point, and the doctor says it's healing. It shouldn't be too much longer before he's back to normal.

Zoe also had an accident this week, too. She was playing and ended up smacking her head on the corner of the table. She ended up with a big gash over her eye, and we ended up making a trip to the emergency room that kept all the kids up past their bedtime. The doctors got her patched up, and it doesn't seem to be bothering her. 

So yeah, I'm celebrating that my kids are healing from their injuries. I'm just hoping it's going to be awhile before something like this happens again. And after the stress of the week, my husband had a dozen roses and chocolates delivered to the house for me. That was a lovely and unexpected surprise!

And finally, the boys got their school pictures back, and I think they turned out quite handsome.

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, October 19, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-October 19, 2018

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

After a wave of downright bone-chilling weather and some snow, we've had a slight warm up. I know it won't last, but it's been kind of nice, and I'm going to take advantage of it. I'm hoping it hangs in there through at least part of the weekend so we can finish putting up some Halloween decorations and get some family time outside.

I've found some fresh writing inspiration this week, and I'm excited about that. Hopefully I'll be able to set aside some time to get this new story idea written in the next couple of days.

I'd also like to celebrate a great turnout for October's WEP Challenge and to thank everyone who participated. We had lots of fantastic entries this time around, though I can't say I'm surprised about that. There's a lot of talented writers out there.

What would you like to celebrate?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

WEP/IWSG October Challenge-A Matter of Principle

Hello everybody! I hope you're having a wonderfully spooky October. My boys sure are. My husband has been taking them out to haunted houses on the weekends, and they've been loving every minute of it!

Here's my entry for the joint WEP/IWSG Challenge, and I hope you enjoy it!

A Matter of Principle

The doll lay spread eagle on the oak, its plastic blue eyes reflecting the light from the golden swing arm lamp. It wasn’t the same kind of illumination one could expect from an operating room, but Hazel supposed it would have to do.

The porcelain face, made to look just like someone Hazel had once called her best friend, sent chills down her spine. The level of resemblance was uncanny. She didn’t know how the doll’s creator did it, and frankly, she didn’t care to find out. There were a lot of details surrounding the manufacturing process that both bewildered and terrified her. The price also came quite high. A year’s worth of salary, in fact. However, having spent so much money on this endeavor didn’t unsettle her quite so much as the sense that she’d also given away her soul in the exchange.

Hazel had a voodoo doll when she was a kid, though it looked nothing like this one. It came in a box of assorted items that her parents picked up at an auction. She tested it by swiping a piece of hair from her older sister’s hair brush and tying it around the doll’s neck. After she inserted a tiny sewing needle into the doll’s knee, a shriek tore through the house. The sudden pain had caused her sister to tumble down the stairs and tear a ligament. Surgery and months on crutches followed.

The power of that moment astonished her. She placed that voodoo doll on the shelf, and there it gathered dust. Years passed before she pulled it down again. A boy got too handsy at a party, leaving her to run out crying with a torn dress and a whirlwind of rumors to follow her remaining days of high school. That boy spent months going through physical therapy after an intense pain caused him to crash his car.

That doll helped her inflict suffering when needed, yes, but this time it wouldn’t have been enough. Not for what Hazel had in mind. The pain inflicted this time had to be deep and permanent to match the betrayal she felt. Friends didn’t go behind your back and steal your husband from you. They didn’t try to lay claim to the family you’d worked so hard to build. They didn’t smile, offer flaccid apologies, and flaunt your children around town as if they had birthed them instead of you.

No. Friends didn’t do things like that, and such traitors didn’t deserve any mercy.

“It’ll all be worth it,” Hazel whispered to herself as she took the X-Acto knife in hand. She brought the knife’s sharp point to rest against the doll’s chest. She took a deep breath before pushing it in. The soft material that composed the doll’s torso parted easily beneath the blade, revealing the stuffing within. It looked like the typical cottony substance that could be found inside many children’s toys, except this stuff had been dyed beet red. She continued the single deep incision, bringing it all the way down to the groin.

Hazel was shaking when the lifted the knife again. She hesitantly grasped some of the soft red stuffing and rubbed it absent-mindedly between her fingers. Would that be enough? It had to be, right?

She shook her head. There was no sense in coming this far to leave any room for uncertainty. One quick flick of her wrist cut the dolls neck. She jumped back when the head separated from the body entirely and landed with a soft thud on the brown rug.

*     *     *

The local news was awash with the horrifying details the next day. A woman was brutally disemboweled and decapitated. A frantic boyfriend woke to find her dead and called the police.

Hazel watched those news reports with rapt interest, though she ensured her daughters never saw them. Knowing that the woman who’d they’d affectionately called their Auntie Karen all their lives had died was traumatic enough. It got even worse for them when no fingerprints other than their father’s could be found at the scene. Though his story never changed, and no murder weapon was ever found, police concluded that he was the only one who could have possibly committed the crime.

Sure, Hazel hated to see her girls cry, but she couldn’t simply lie back and take it. It was a matter of principle. Her so-called friend had to pay for what she’d done, and her ex-husband would suffer in prison for what he’d put her through.

Hazel locked the doll away in her safe beside all her other most valued possessions, hoping she would never have need for such dark magic again.

Word Count: 781

Friday, October 12, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-October 12, 2018

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

My birthday was yesterday. I am now 33. While the day of my actual birthday was fairly normal, I did treat myself to lunch out. It wasn't anything fancy, but it was delicious.

My husband and I actually celebrated my big day on Wednesday by attending a Postmodern Jukebox concert. We had an amazing time. For those of you who don't know, they're known for performing modern songs in vintage music styles. The performers were brilliant and engaging, and the costumes were wonderful. There was also a tap dancing girl that really managed to wow the audience. I'm definitely glad we went.

I'm also celebrating the fact that the next WEP challenge is taking place next week. The theme is Deja Vu/Voodoo, which is suitably spooky  for the month of October. If you'd like to participate, head on over, sign up, and post your entry by October 17th.

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-October 5, 2018

It's Friday, and that means it's time to Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain. I am her co-host.

My birthday is this coming Thursday, but my kids and husband surprised me with some early birthday gifts. I got a candle, a comfy pair of new pajamas, a new coffee mug, and a beautiful necklace. That definitely made my day.

My husband and I are also going on a little outing on Wednesday. We're going to go out to eat and follow that up with a concert. We've been listening to Postmodern Jukebox for quite a while now, and when we found out they were performing in Des Moines the day before my birthday, we couldn't pass that up. It's going to be a much different experience than the Metallica concert we went to last year, but it should be a good time.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: October 2018

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time for another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. Our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has lined up another wonderful cohort of co-hosts: Dolorah @ Book Lover, Christopher D. Votey, Tanya Miranda, and Chemist Ken.

Be sure to check out the IWSG website!

The optional question for this month is: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

Truth be told, I think a large part of the reason I'm a writer in the first place comes from the fact that it helps me through hard times. I was a geeky, awkward kid, and making friends never came easily to me. I started writing stories at a young age, because it gave me a way to express my feelings. It gave me a way to escape when times were lonely or tough.

A little more than three years ago, I used writing to get me through a particularly hard time. I had a miscarriage, and the loss I felt was intense. I felt helpless. Writing was something active that I could do. It was a way I could channel my feelings and do something productive. I didn't feel out of control when I was putting words on the page.

How do significant life events impact your writing?

Friday, September 28, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-September 28, 2018

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

I don't have a lot to report this week as everything has been relatively uneventful. Not that there's anything wrong with this. I'd rather that than have everything going wrong.

Since I don't have much to say right now, I wanted to spend this post celebrating humor. We can all use a good laugh every now and again, right? That's why I thought I'd share a few things I find funny to help put a smile on your face.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-September 21, 2018

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

First of all, it was recently announced that I am the newest member of the WEP team. I was honored when Denise Covey asked me to come aboard, and I hope I can contribute to this wonderful group and help ensure its continued success.

It's been a crazy couple of weeks, and as such, I've gotten into a bit of a writing slump. However, I managed to resurrect some motivation as the week nears its end, so hopefully I can keep my momentum up through the weekend.

I've been trying to eat healthy this past week, and I'd like to keep it up. I filled my kitchen with fruits and vegetables, which I love to eat anyway. The problem is that it's so much easier to eat the quick foods that aren't all that good for you than it is to prepare something healthy, but I'm doing my best to resist temptation. Hopefully I can keep it up.

Finally, I'm celebrating the successful launch of the Kickstarter campaign for the middle grade science fiction anthology Young Explorer's Adventure Guide Volume 5

I was a part of the last anthology, and I'm proud to be a part of this one as well. Few stories have been as fun to write as the one I wrote for this, and I can't wait for people to read it. If any of you would be willing to help spread the word about the Kickstarter campaign, I would really appreciate it. I composed a tweet you can copy and paste to help make that easier.

Help support a #middlegrade #anthology of #scifi stories that will appeal to all ages. Check out the @Kickstarter campaign for the Young Explorer's Adventure Guide Volume 5.

What would you like to celebrate?