Wednesday, December 11, 2019

WEP December Challenge-Footprints

Hello everyone! It's time for the December WEP Challenge! I can't believe 2019 is almost over already. Where has the time gone?

If you'd like to join us in writing about FOOTPRINTS, check out the sign-up post for more details! And thank you to the IWSG's Tyrean Martinson for coming up with this lovely prompt!

Image by H. B. from Pixabay
Christmas Clues

Cami hugged her puffy green coat tight around her body. She would have zipped it, but her little fingers had yet to master that skill. She knew how to investigate things, though. Cami was an expert at finding clues. She knelt beside the ladder that led up to the roof. She couldn’t recall seeing it there yesterday while she played in the snow.
“Stupid Dylan,” she muttered under her breath as she shivered. She would be inside playing with her new toys if it weren’t for him. But no. He had to go and say something ridiculous, and now she had to prove him wrong. Big brothers could be so dumb sometimes.
She crouched low and studied the boot prints in the snow. They were huge! She held a mitten-clad hand above it and could only cover the heel. Then she poked gingerly at it, and when she pulled her finger away, the tip was covered with a light dusting of snow. The snow was fresh, then. It must have fallen in the night while she slept.
“These are new,” she said to herself. No doubt about it, then.
The first boot print had been made at the base of the ladder, which meant someone had been on the roof and climbed down. Cami straightened and followed the tracks. They wound their way around the house, coming close to the hedge that bordered the yard more than once. Cami hopped over the line of rocks that outlined the barren flower bed and onto the snow-dusted patio. The prints weren’t as deep here, of course, but they were distinct. She stopped there for a moment, following the tracks to their end point with her eyes.
“Yes!” Cami squealed, her cold cheeks aching from the size of her grin. She’d been right about Santa!
Cami used to worry about the fact that their house didn’t have a fireplace when she was younger. She even went to her mother with her concerns. “Mommy! How can Santa get into our house? We don’t have a chimney for him!”
Her mother smiled. “Santa doesn’t need a chimney, honey. Do we need a chimney to get into the house?”
Cami had blushed, feeling silly for her panic. “Okay.” She started to shuffle out of the room before another frantic thought flew into her brain. She spun around and rushed back to her mother’s side. “Don’t lock the door! He won’t be able to get in if you lock the door!”
“I promise I won’t,” her mother said with a little laugh.
She’d believed her mother, of course, but finding the evidence was better than taking her word for it! This was proof that Santa used the front door! A small smile crossed her face. Dylan was wrong. It was so mean of him to tell her Santa wasn’t real, especially when the truth was so obvious! She broke into a sprint. She needed to tell him what she’d seen! He’d surely see the boot prints and understand how mistaken he was.
She barreled through the door, kicking off her shoes as she went. She skidded through the entryway, stopping only when she ran into something wet and cold. “Eww,” she groaned as the dampness spread through the bottoms of her socks. She traced the puddle of water to her dad’s winter clothes that he’d tossed carelessly into the corner. Mommy would be so mad about the mess he'd made.
Oh well! Cami had more important things to worry about. She shucked off her soiled socks, leaving them behind as she ran off to find Dylan and tell him the good news.

Word Count: 607

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: December 2019

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time to convene the next meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group! Our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has assembled another great group of co-hosts: Tonja Drecker, Beverly Stowe McClure, Nicki Elson, and Tyrean Martinson.

Be sure to check out the IWSG website for great writerly resources!

Here's the optional question for this month: Let's play a game. Imagine. Role-play. How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream? Or if you are already there, what does it look and feel like? Tell the rest of us. What would you change or improve?

I've thought a lot about this. I think most writers have at one time or another. Living the dream would mean earning a decent living from my writing. I don't need to be rich. It would include seeing my books on shelves. It would mean taking the occasional trip to a writing conference and signing event. Maybe even a writing retreat here and there. That's it. Nothing crazy, but it sure sounds nice, doesn't it?

How do you picture your future as a writer?

Friday, November 22, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things-November 22, 2019

Hello everyone! It's Friday, and that means it's time to Celebrate the Small Things!

Sorry I haven't posted in a couple of weeks. It's been kind of a crazy busy month. Real life sure likes to get in the way of writing sometimes, doesn't it? It's a good thing I didn't decide to do NaNo this month. That wouldn't have worked out well for me. For those of you who are participating, though, I hope you're on track and making lots of progress!

The main thing I'm celebrating is that today is Zoe's birthday! She's three now. I can hardly believe it. Here are some selfies the birthday girl took earlier this week when she stole my phone.

Daisy is also six months old as of this past Monday. She's started eating solid foods, and she's loved everything she's tried so far.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: November 2019

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time to gather for another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group! Our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has assembled another wonderful bunch of co-hosts: Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie.

Don't forget to visit the IWSG website for great writerly resources!

First of all, this post is going up super late! I'm so sorry for that. I forgot it was IWSG day until just now. In my defense, a lot has been going on. We traveled out of state for a funeral over the weekend. Then I had an important appointment I had to go to today. Life happen, after all. I'm here now, though! Better late than never, right?

So here's the optional question for this month.

What's the strangest thing you've ever googled in researching a story?

I've googled a lot of strange things. One time I looked up how long it takes blood to coagulate. I needed that knowledge to help me describe a murder scene. I also researched how to make bone meal and blood meal. Those two things may not sound weird in and of themselves, but if you read the story I needed that knowledge for, you might be a tad disturbed. 

What's the strangest thing you looked up when researching for a story?

Friday, November 1, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things-November 1, 2019

It's Friday, and that means it's time to Celebrate the Small Things!

First of all, I have to start out on a somber note. My husband's grandfather passed away, so we'll be going out of state this weekend to attend the funeral. I'm hoping for good weather and safe travels.

On the positive side of things, on Wednesday attended a show. MST3K Live: The Great Cheesy Movie Circus Tour made a stop in my vicinity this past Wednesday, and of course I had to go. It was amazing seeing Joel and the bots performing in person and riffing on a the film Circus of Horrors. Here's a picture of me right before the show started.

My wonderful husband also fixed my broken laptop screen, so my computer is up and running again! Yay for that!

What would you like to celebrate?

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Trick-or-Treat Reads

Happy Halloween everyone! This is always such a fun time of year! There are costumes, candy, and ... free books? Yes, that's right. You can get free books for Halloween!

Thanks to Patricia Lynne for starting the Trick-or-Treat Reads tradition!

Here is a list of my free offerings!

Self-Help 101 or: How I Learned to Take Over the World Through Tolerating My Family

Genre: Holiday/Humor/YA
Word Count: 27,000

Book 1 in the Self-Help 101 series.

Dani Finklemeier has decided to write a self-help book about how to take over the world, but she’s not sure where to start. After all, she’s only seventeen and looking for a better way to make money than babysitting. She buys a self-help book that promises to teach her how to write a self-help book in the hope of getting the job done.

Not that it’ll be easy to get any work done this holiday season. Her family is staying at the house for Christmas, and fights break out almost immediately. Dani also has to deal with the fallout from an unexpected kiss with her best friend Seth and the feelings that go along with it. On edge around her family and unsure how to interact with the one person she’s trusted with everything in the past, she can only take what inspiration she can from the crazy circumstances surrounding her and see what happens.

One way or another, it should be an interesting holiday.

Download Links:

Self-Help 101 or: How to Survive a Bombardment With Minimal Injury

Genre: Holiday/Humor/YA
Word Count: 25,000

Book 2 in the Self-Help 101 series.

Dani Finklemeier has self-published her guide to taking over the world, but she still isn’t rich.  Now she’s eighteen, still babysitting for money, and looking forward to starting college in the fall.

Of course, she has to survive a 4th of July outing with her family first.  That’s a challenging prospect considering she has to be in close proximity with a group of cousins known as The Fallible Four.  As if that weren’t enough, she also has to deal with the fallout of her parents learning more about her relationship with her boyfriend Seth than she ever wanted them to know.

The good news is that, if she survives this holiday, she’ll have plenty of material for another self-help book.

Available from Smashwords.  You can find it HERE

Self-Help 101 or: How to Select a Costume to Help You  Deal With People

Genre: Holiday/Humor/YA
Word Count-29,000

Book 3 in the Self-Help 101 series.

Dani Finklemeier is adjusting to life in college and the realities of living away from home for the first time.  She’s also learning to deal with the criticism that stems from sharing her writing with the world.  Some of the online criticism is even spelled correctly, which somehow makes it worse.

Fortunately, she has a Halloween party, a group of friends, and a supportive boyfriend to distract her from the things that are bothering her.  Of course, a holiday celebration wouldn’t be complete without something going wrong.  Between an unpleasant confrontation with an infuriating classmate, some shocking costume choices, and a bizarre fraternity stunt, the evening will be anything but dull.

Dani’s detractors may not like it, but she’ll definitely have enough material for another book.

Available from Smashwords.  You can find it HERE

Adam's Apple and the Infinite Regress

Genre: Sci-Fi/Humor
Word Count: 17,000

Adam Evans has always felt like the universe was mocking him. That only gets worse when he's charged with murder under bizarre circumstances and exiled from existence. Facing a life of utter solitude, he seizes the opportunity to escape with a strange girl. He's determined to put his life back together, but he never could have guessed how crazy things were about to become.

Download Links:

A Silent Soliloquy

Genre: Sci-Fi/Dystopian
Word Count: 28,000

TIPPIE was created to be a weapon. By all appearances, she's an ordinary girl of 18, and she uses that to her advantage in her work for The Facility. What no one sees is that there's another girl buried deep inside. She can't speak or control the movements of the body she inhabits. As TIPPIE's silent passenger, she can only observe. She uses the details she learns from TIPPIE's work to reconstruct the stories of other people's lives. It helps her feel a little more connected to the world she can only watch.

When TIPPIE's work leads her to David, a young man with a haunted past and information that The Facility wants, TIPPIE uses her skills to earn his trust. The silent girl beneath the surface knows that TIPPIE is only going to hurt him, but she can't help but feel for him. Those feelings only grow, but she knows all too well that TIPPIE's work will soon come to an end.

Available from Smashwords.  You can find it HERE.

Cosmic Seasoning

Genre: Sci-Fi/Short Stories
Word Count: 16,000

This compilation of ten short science fiction stories is sure to add a little flavor to your day. You'll get to see what happens when a universal translator malfunctions during first contact, the repercussions of a maladjusted writer making a holographic duplicate of herself, the reunion of a couple of shapeshifters that have been exiled to Earth, and more.

Some stories are funny, and others are a bit darker, but they're all short enough to read in one sitting.

This book is always free, and you can get it from any of the following places.

Download Links:

What are you waiting for? You can use the linky below to visit all the other participants and collect your free books!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things-October 18, 2019

It's Friday, and that means it's time to Celebrate the Small Things!

I had a bit of a mishap with my laptop a few days ago. It took a tumble onto the floor and landed wrong. The screen shattered. Fortunately, the rest of the computer seems to be okay, and my husband says he can replace the screen. For now, while I wait for it to be repaired, I'm using an old laptop. This one occasionally overheats, but it works well enough to get me through for now. So I'll celebrate that.

We had parent-teacher conferences for both our boys this week, and they both received glowing reports. I'm so proud of both of them.

Lastly, I'm celebrating this month's WEP Challenge. The theme is Horrible Harvest, and today is the last day to enter. We have some great prizes available this time around, and the entries so far have been wonderful!

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

WEP October Challenge: Horrible Harvest

It's time for another WEP/IWSG Challenge! This is an exciting month as we have some great prizes! If you haven't joined us yet, you should seriously consider it! You have until October 18th to get in on the fun!

And now, here's my entry. The theme for this month is Horrible Harvest.

Life in the Aftermath

The rustle of brown corn leaves filled the air as a light breeze stirred. Reya stared into the distance to the clouds darkening the horizon. The wooden slats of the front porch groaned beneath her feet as she paced its length. An electric tingle permeated the atmosphere, and it sent a chill down her spine.

Harvest season lurked just around the corner, and the weight of it threatened to crush her. So many seasons came and went before this one, and they all went relatively smoothly. Tons of hours spent in the field with Claude, always at the mercy of the weather. The weather both determined the size of the harvest and the speed with which the work was done. Torrential rains created delays at times, and once, a freak early snow storm caused a mountain of stress.
What she wouldn’t give to tackle those issues all over again with Claude by her side.
She wiped her eyes. Weeping wouldn’t help her do what needed to be done.
Reya stepped off the porch, a wicker basket in hand. If this storm was coming, she needed to work quickly. Rounding the house, she approached the large garden that she and her husband first started more than two decades ago. They were young and optimistic then, imagining they would soon fill their home with the laughter of children. That dream wasn’t meant to be, but they still created a lot of great memories here, many of them in this very garden. How many vegetables had grown here over the years? How many had she canned and stored away to get through the winter? If only she had some of them left, but a couple years of drought severely diminished her stash.
She paused to scan the yard before proceeding. Her free hand moved to feel the reassuring shape of the handgun hidden beneath her flowing shirt. Fortunately, she saw nothing to alarm her.
Reya proceeded to the tomato plants first. Her bones ached as she leaned down to examine a tomato. It was small and green, but she plucked it from the vine anyway and stuffed it into her little basket. Claude always liked green tomatoes. They were good for frying.
A painful twinge in her chest stopped her in her tracks. So many things remind her of Claude. She should’ve been accustomed to the empty feeling by now.
Losing Claude would’ve been a big enough shock on its own, but the circumstances of his death were nothing short of Earth-shattering. Coordinated terrorist attacks across the county devastated multiple cities. Poor Claude had long been a country boy, but he chose the wrong day to go into the city. It was meant to be a brief trip to visit a friend. He never returned. Dozens of other people never made it home. The suicide bomber on the subway made certain of that.
Tensions escalated, and the first nuclear bomb was launched. More were to follow, and millions more perished in the immediate aftermath. It all escalated so quickly. Reya never imagined she would have to take a life, and the first time haunted her for days afterwards, but she did what she needed to do to protect herself. What else could she have done? The people who came wanted to take what little she had.
She shook her head, hoping to banish her dark thoughts, and moved on to the next tomato vine. This one had two tomatoes, but neither of them was larger than a golf ball. Within a few minutes, she had the basket filled a quarter of the way with tomatoes. She moved on to the onions, then the potatoes. Pickings were slimmer than she would have liked, but she gladly took everything she could find.
A sudden movement off to her left sent Reya’s heart pounding. The basket hit the ground as her hand flew to the gun. Before she could draw it, however, she caught sight of the culprit. A small ground squirrel. It stood still, its dark eyes fixed on her. She let out her breath in a sigh of relief. “You’d better take cover,” she said aloud. “It might storm soon.” She turned to look at the horizon again. The threatening clouds were indeed closer than before.
When she turned back, the ground squirrel was gone. She’d need to be gone soon, too.
Once she’d thoroughly combed through the garden, she dusted off her knees and carried her bounty back to the house. The scarcity of water meant she couldn’t waste it on cleaning her vegetables, so a scrubbing with her hands would have to suffice.
She settled on a rocking chair on her porch to watch the weather roll in. And roll in it did.
The distinctive pitter-patter of water droplets sounded on the porch roof came first Reya stepped forward and gazed at the withered chrysanthemums that bordered the house. They should have been flowering in brilliant oranges and reds, but a rough season left them brown and nearly dead. The rain hitting them now surely wouldn’t be enough to resurrect them.
A lump caught in her throat when she saw one of the rain drops clinging to a spindly branch. It was black. Tarnished with fallout. There was nothing nourishing about this rain.
She trudged back into the darkened house. She tried not to think about the leaks that would lead to pooling in the attic. She couldn’t fix it. Just like there was no way she could complete the harvest on her own. And even if she could . . .
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Claude was the lucky one. This thought came daily now. Late at night, she found herself wishing she’d traveled with him that day. Then none of this would matter. Not for her.
Early on, she lamented her lack of a radiation meter to keep track of things, but now she was glad of its absence. What good would it do to know the truth?

Word Count: 1000

Friday, October 11, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things-October 11, 2019

It's Friday! That means it's time to Celebrate the Small Things.

First of all, I'm celebrating my birthday today. The best part about that is the excuse to eat cake. Maybe ice cream, too. We'll see how the day goes.

I'm also celebrating the upcoming WEP Challenge. The theme is Horrible Harvest, and this is going to be a great challenge with fantastic prizes! If you've ever considered taking part but haven't yet done so, now is the time to give it a try. You can find the details here.

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, October 4, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things-October 4, 2019

It's Friday, and that means it's time to Celebrate the Small Things!

First of all, my kids all passed around a lovely little virus last weekend. They're all feeling much better now, though Daisy still has a lingering rash. Fortunately, it isn't itchy and she seems perfectly happy. Each day it's been looking a little bit better, so it should be gone in no time.

I'm also celebrating the approach of Halloween. This is such a fun time of year! We started putting up Halloween decorations, though we're only halfway through building our annual scarecrow. We make a scarecrow out of the kids' old clothes every Halloween. As a result, our scarecrow has been getting taller over the years.

Finally, my birthday is a week from today. I'm looking forward to the upcoming excuse to eat cake and ice cream.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Insecure Writer's Support Group-October 2019

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time to convene another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group! Our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has once again assembled some great co-hosts: Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Mary Aalgaard, Madeline Mora-Summonte, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor.

Don't forget to visit the IWSG website for great writing resources!

This post is going up a few hours later than planned. I've had a house full of sick kids, so that's kept me occupied. Kids don't like sharing toys, but they love sharing viruses. Good news is that they all seem to be on the mend.

Now on to this month's optional question!

It's been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing, if you don't enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?

This is a great question. I can understand how someone might be worried about being too influenced about other works they've read. The things we read are clearly going to shape who we are as writers. There's no way around that, but I don't think it's a bad thing, either.

It's been said there's nothing new under the sun. Is it even possible to have an entirely original idea that in no way resembles what someone else has done before? I'm not sure. Even if you never read, you're influenced by the world around you, as are other writers. Your ideas still may not be as original as you might think. I also know it's possible to take an idea that has been visited by others and put a new spin on it. The idea doesn't have to be the most unique in the world if the execution of that idea is good.

This is where the disadvantage of never reading might come into play. I'm not saying never reading means a person can't possibly write a compelling story, but it may be more difficult. Through reading, we see the methods other writers use to build atmosphere and convey ideas. We see how they build characters and complete satisfying character arcs. This can be an invaluable resource as we navigate the process of creating our own stories. Personally, I think I'm a better writer today because I'm a reader.

What do you think?

Friday, September 13, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things-September 13, 2019

It's Friday, and that means it's time to Celebrate the Small ThingsCelebrate the Small Things is a weekly bloghop dedicated to celebrating the little things in life. By highlighting those the little victories and happy moments, we hope to feel more grateful for all that we have.

If you'd like to join in, leave me a link to your blog in the comments and I'll add you to our list!

I have a few things to celebrate this week. First of all, our family took a trip to the zoo last weekend. The kids all enjoyed the animals. They got extra excited when one of the lions decided to roar.

Daisy is going to be four months old on Sunday. She also started rolling over from her back to her stomach this past week. Once she rolls, she'll grab onto the blanket and try to pull herself forward. She obviously can't do much more than that yet, but she's determined to move. Little ones grow quickly, don't they?

I'm also celebrating my writing. I had an idea for a new project, and I've started outlining it and writing a few scenes to get a feel for the world. It's been going well so far, and I'm looking forward to working more on it.

What would you like to celebrate?