Nano Day 2

Kate said, “Well, it was dark.  I couldn’t see anything.  Much.  Well.”

Lynn said, a smirk on her face, “I think if someone was chasing after me with a black duster on, I would have remembered what he looked like.”

“Did I say he had a black duster?”

“You did.”

She looked at her cereal in her bowl, contemplating.  Now she didn’t remember saying that.  She didn’t remember what he looked like – was she even being chased?  She stopped at a coffee shop on the way home, but why?  Was there a man?

Lynn was examining her, like a nurse examining a patient for any signs of deterioration.  Finally Kate said quietly, “Maybe I imagined the whole thing.  It seems so surreal.”

“Surreal,” laughed Lynn.  “Maybe you were spooked by someone and just panicked.  Happens all the time in the big city.”  Lynn nodded to the bowl of cereal.  “You going to eat that?”

“Oh, yeah.”  Kate poured milk onto the cereal, watching it flow over the shredded wheats, covering the brown with a thin film of white.  She took up her spoon and started to eat, as Lynn went back into the living room.

Ana was watching TV, spread out on the couch as if she owned it.  Well, she did, technically, having bought it from a yard sale the weekend after she moved in.  None of the girls had boyfriends, or any male friends, so manhandling it up to the third floor took a lot of work on their part.  They decided that after they were done the year, they were just going to leave the damn thing behind and eat the security deposit.

The couch was a soft brown, with some wear on the armrests, but didn’t look too shabby and didn’t have any hidden friends.  That was the one and only thing that scared Kate to no end – bugs.  Bugs of any type.  Spiders, roaches, ants…she hated them all, and would scream like a terrified girl at the sight of them.  It probably had something to do with her uncle’s farm.

Kate carried the bowl to the doorway between the kitchen and the living room.  “Whatcha watching?”

“More zombies,” said Ana.  “Can’t get enough of this stuff.”

Lynn gave a long-suffering look and beckoned Kate over.  She shook her head – her mother taught her to never eat while watching TV.  “You’ll get fat,” she told her.  Well, it was probably too late now, but old habits die hard.

Kate watched some zombies get blown up, and she’d had enough when Ana sat there and laughed.  She went back to the kitchen and leaned against the counter, eating her cereal.  Again, she plugged the earplugs back in to drown out the noise from the living room, and her teacher droned on about Ezra Pound.  Her mother had said nothing about eating and listening to her professors’ lectures, so she did not feel guilty about that.

She finished her cereal, then turned to wash out the bowl.  She saw the light go off behind her in the living room; this meant that they were going to pack it in for the night.  Ana had her own TV, but she had wireless headphones so could listen to what she wanted.  Lynn had her computer like the rest of the girls.  Kate had an old Mac laptop that her father had gotten her; it was too old to run some of the fancier things, but it still had Microsoft Office 2008 on it.  She could at least run presentations under Powerpoint and do her reports on Word.  Those programs she was familiar with in high school.

She washed out the bowl, drying it, still listening to the professor, now who was taking questions.  She couldn’t quite hear the questions being asked, but she understood the answers.  American Literature was not her major, and she didn’t know why she had to take these extra classes.  Her father didn’t think it was right, either, and had complained to the admissions officer there about it.  It didn’t matter; it was a time-honored tradition to have a well-rounded education, blah, blah, blah.  Her father would have none of it.  Kate was embarrassed, but said nothing.  It was her father, after all.

Kate headed to her room, which was the second one off the kitchen, Nita’s being the first because she was the last person who rented.  Kate shut off the iPhone and looked at it, this time as a phone.  It was ten-thirty here; it would be nine-thirty back home.  Too late to call St. Paul.  She hadn’t called them in about a week; she would call them on Sunday night, after football.

Her room was bigger than her room back home, big enough for a full-size bed and a wardrobe, and a desk for her computer.  She had plenty of room to move around.  The room was kept clean, as she thought of her mother every time she dropped clothes on the floor, as she did right now, getting undressed to get in her pajamas – which were actually a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.  Her roommates couldn’t believe that she wore shorts in October, but this weather was balmy compared to Nebraska, where sometimes there was snow for Halloween.

Kate slipped on her clothes, then grabbed her shower kit and headed to the bathroom, just off the living room.  She picked through the half-dark room, lit only by the street lamp outside, giving the room a faint blue tinge to it.  She got to the bathroom to find it occupied.  She put her ear to the door and could hear the water running in the sink, which was a different sound than the water running in the bathroom.  She went back to the couch and leaned on the armrest, waiting.

Soon enough, the door opened and light spilled out into the living room, silhouetting a small, thin person.  “Ah!” she cried, “You scared me!”  Her accent was thick, pronouncing each syllable with a small lilt to her voice.

Kate smiled, though it was probably not seen in the dark.  “Sorry, Nita.  I was just going to take a shower.”

“It is all right.  How was your class?”

“Boring as ever.  Don’t take any classes with Professor Thompson.”

“It is only a general requirement.  I could stand that for a semester.”

“But I don’t care about American 20th century writers.  I care about computers.”

“You will learn computers.  You must have a base to build your learning.”

Kate snorted, but smiled anyway.  Nita was so nice about the hoops that the school was making her jump through.  She must be happy just to be here, Kate thought.  “Yeah, I guess.”

Nita held the door open for her.  “Enjoy your shower.”

“Thanks.”  Kate stepped inside, closed the door and locked it.  Although they were all female, she had the habit of locking the bathroom door whenever she was there, due to her large family, such as her brothers walking in on her.  Ana never locked the door and didn’t care who saw; Lynn didn’t either, but had the modesty to hide.  Nita usually locked hers.

Kate stepped into the shower and turned the water on hot, so it would get warm faster.  At least that’s how it worked back home, and, really, old habits do die hard.  She undressed again, testing the water with her hand.  It was too hot, so she turned it down, testing it again.  A little hot, but better, and she took the plunge into the shower.

She washed her hair first, and then her body, frowning at the curves.  Why couldn’t she be thin like Nita or Lynn? Ana was taller and had gotten a little heavier over the past month, but her height helped make her look not as heavy.  No, Kate had more curves than she should, she believed.  She wouldn’t get a boyfriend the way she looked, or the way she dressed.

Not that she was looking for a boyfriend, really.  Her father told her, kiddingly, that she wasn’t allowed to have boyfriends until she was thirty-two.  She wanted to concentrate on her computer science degree first.  She wasn’t using college as a boy hunting-ground, like her other high-school friends were doing.  This was why she didn’t go to the University of Nebraska, like nearly everyone else of her class had done, at least the ones that were heading to college.  Not all were going to college, either.  Some of them, and she remembered them in particular, she was quite fond of, but they were going to end their lives as they had began them; working on their father’s farm.  She could do more, be more than just some farmer’s wife.

When she told her family she wanted to go to Boston, her eldest brother, Kevin thought it was the dumbest idea ever.  Going into computers was stupid to him, too.  But then, Kevin’s crowning achievement was pitching a bale of hay fifty yards.  He was all brawn, no brains.

Kate also wanted to show her sister, Dawn, what could happen to her if she applied her mind to things.  Dawn was the cheerleader and didn’t seem to think it would be a bad thing being a farmer’s wife.  She thought there was money in farming.  She was going to be a golddigger, Kate knew it.

Her younger two brothers, Alex and Johnathan, were going to be their father’s son, though Jon – and he liked to have his name spelled without the “H” – looked like he wanted to go into the Army.  He was fifteen, and he definitely was not in the frame of mind to be a member of a farmer’s family.

Her parents, at first, thought it was nearly the dumbest idea ever.  She wanted to go to MIT, but her scores weren’t high enough.  Boston University was going to give her a good scholarship for the first two years, and her last two years would be covered by school loans and Pell Grants.  She had the option of going abroad one of those last two years, which thrilled her to no end, making her imagine that she would go to Greece, or Italy, or maybe even England as an exchange student.

((Total WC 3431))

NaNo Day 1

Kate picked her way warily through the crowd on the bus, looking for an empty seat.   The bus had already started moving. She had her earplug headphones on, the noise loud enough to hear the music but not loud enough to drown out the noise around her.  Luckily there wasn’t much noise in the area.

She was making sure that she didn’t touch the people next to her, didn’t make eye contact.  The bus was moving so erratically that she couldn’t really keep her feet, and plopped down into the first empty seat she saw.  It was too close for comfort to the people on either side of her.  As soon as a seat opened up a little ways down, she got up and negotiated her way down the shifting, moving aisle and dropped into it.  Again, there wasn’t very much noise here.

This was one of the last busses from campus heading due east, heading toward her apartment on Back Street.  She had to take this bus on Commonwealth which ran every fifteen minutes, more or less, from the campus to the corner of Back Street, then she could get off right at the Back Street corner and walk the five doors down to the apartment she shared with three other students.  Those five blocks were rough in the daytime; at night, they were downright harrowing.

In between two of the buildings, across the street from her apartment, was a small convenience store, a bastion of light on a street of four-bedroom apartments that were rented out to students at Boston University – students just like her.  Just like her, they rented one room out of the four bedrooms as their own, with a common living room and a common kitchen.  Earbuds became her best friend, having them perpetually in her ears morning, noon and night, except when she was on campus.

She heard a rustle behind her and instinctively glanced back.  A young man in a black duster sat in the seat behind her.  She immediately assessed him as whether or not he was a threat.  He was maybe a bit taller than her, but the duster hid his bulk, if he had any.  He has short brown hair, shorter than her own which was probably about five or so centimeters longer.  He had a triangular face, long and broad at the forehead, tapering down to a pointy chin.  His eyes were blue, dark sapphire blue, almost to the edge of navy.  But then, the inside of the bus was lit only by the light above the signs advertising different TV shows or movies.

“Hello,” he said, as a voice from one of her lectures on Greek War droned on in her ears.

“Hello,” she replied, and went to turn back to face the front of the bus.

“You’re Kate.”

She whipped her head around to face him.  “How do you know me?”

He chuckled, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

That’s such a stupid pick-up line, she thought.  But it was still mysterious.  She didn’t want this man to have the upper hand on her.  She looked beyond him, outside the window.  They were still on Commonwealth Ave, where the stores were still open and it was bright.  She pulled on the wire to signal the driver to stop at the next stop, then she got up quickly, hoisting her backpack over her shoulder.

“Wait, I’m sorry –“

She was already down the moving bus’ aisle, hanging onto the bars as she walked, still not used to public transit.  The bus stopped, and she hung on, swinging forward a little.  The young man had gotten up and followed her.  She panicked, and jumped off the bus.

The building in front of her was lit up and she ran into it, not caring if what the place was.  With her luck, it would be a nightclub or a strip joint.

Instead it was a coffee house, loud even through her headphones.  There were corners where people were sitting, taking advantage of the free wi-fi or ambiance to write their great American novels.  She hurried through, glancing back.

The young man didn’t follow, but stayed outside.  She stayed inside, buying a very expensive cup of House Blend, and leaning against a corner, watching the window and the door.  She sipped her coffee and seemed to shrink in on herself whenever someone walked by.

As she sipped, she went through her mind thinking of people she had gone to school with, people who knew people, who knew others who might be in Boston.  As far as she knew, and it was advertised through her “award” of “Going The Furthest Away To College”, no one else was coming to Boston.  That didn’t mean that someone wasn’t already here.

But who would describe her to someone, describe her enough to be able to pick her out of a crowd on a bus?  Maybe it was a fluke.  She looked like someone named Kate.  She looked like any Kate.  No, probably not.  Whenever she thought of a Kate, she thought of some girl from Western movies, not a part-German, part-Welsh, and a wee smidgen of Irish stocky girl, with brown hair and eyes, looking pretty   plain for all to see.

She glanced at the clock.  The absolutely, positively last bus for Commonwealth Avenue was just after two a.m., and the time right now was just a little after ten.  The mother hen of the girls at the apartment, Lynn, was probably wondering where she was.  She decided to take a chance, and finish her cup of coffee, then step back outside.

No one was there, thank goodness.  She swallowed her heart that had moved its way to her throat.  She moved to the bus stop.  She didn’t have to wait long for the bus to take her to the darker recesses of Back Street, where she got off and took a deep breath to walk the gauntlet of shadow to her apartment building.

The first couple of buildings were inhabited by other college students, mostly boys.  A matron who lived on the bottom floor of the second building screamed an awful lot to tell people to shut up.  One of the boys in that building was already scraping up the money to get out of there.

The third building was boarded up, and a crack house.  She never knew, having seen no one enter and no one leave, but it was a pool of shadow for Lord knew what to come out and get her.  She found herself walking through that quickly.  The house next door to hers was not brightly lit, as it did not have a porch light, but the street light bathed the area in some semblance of light.

Then there was her apartment, which had a walk up on the side that led to a porch.  Across the porch came a doorway, well-lit, and always locked.  She already had her keys in her hand as soon as she came upon the porch.   She stuck the key in and it turned easily, many others doing the same thing every day and night.

She walked past the fire alarm notification panel, then headed up the stairs.  As she did, the air got thicker – she knew the people downstairs smoked in their rooms, which was against the rules, and she knew they didn’t smoke tobacco.  She got to the third floor, where it was warmer, even on this early October night.

This door was usually locked too, though she tried it.  It certainly was locked, Lynn would have made sure of it.  All these locked doors were so strange to her, from where she was from, people would think nothing of leaving their doors unlocked at night, or even while they go to work.  There were always neighbors looking out for neighbors day and night.  Here, she found out quickly, one did not go searching about to talk to neighbors, and it was best to leave people alone.

The door opened, not creaking on its hinges, well taken-care-of.  It was a sturdy wooden door, meant to outlast the house.  One thing about these colonials, she thought, they certainly seemed built to last.

She could see the TV on through the kitchen, a dull blue glow against the darkness.  Ana liked to watch TV in the dark, and got the other girls to agree most of the time.  Nivedita didn’t watch TV, having come to this country to work hard.  She was already married to a boy from India, having been betrothed when she was five.

Kate didn’t ask Niva about her world, but Ana did.  Ana was a poli-sci major, planning on going into the State Department.  Niva was taking pre-med, and Lynn was on her last year of special education.

“And where were you?” came a voice from the living room.  Kate shut the door and unhitched her back from her shoulder.

“Some weird guy on the bus freaked me out,” Kate said, walking through the kitchen to the fridge.

Lynn’s voice was closer – she had moved into the kitchen.  “Weird how?”

“He knew my name.”

Lynn examined Kate closely, then went to her backpack and examined that.  “Maybe he’s from one of your classes?  One of the big general ed lectures?”

“I would have remembered that black duster,” Kate said, finding her half-gallon of two-percent milk.  All of them bought their own food and labeled it, something Lynn had instilled in them from day one.  Any theft of food was not tolerated.  So far, over the last month, none had been taken, or reported taken.

“Not everyone wears the same jacket,” Lynn said.

Kate found a box of cereal and took it down.  She also found a clean bowl and took that down.  Another house rule was to wash dishes as soon as you were done with them.  They had a relatively empty kitchen sink.  Kate didn’t think that rule would last very long.

“What did he look like?” Lynn asked.

Kate turned to her and opened her mouth to start to describe him, but as she did, she realized she didn’t remember.  She knew the look she gave Lynn meant that she was confused, because Lynn said, “You can’t remember?”


The valiant attempt at writing a 50K word novel in 30 days is possible, but daunting, especially now when my day job requires me to work overtime over the next two months, and the game that I’m playing is going to disappear at the end of the month.

What are the chances, right?

I’ll be typing until my fingers fall off.  1600 words a day.  I can barely get out 500, 800, never mind that much.  But I’m going to try.  I have the seed of a story in mind, but I don’t think it’ll get me into 50K words.  And I’m going to try something new: a female protagonist that’s more than just a duh chick.

I’m a writer; this is just my day job

Wow.  Life really can take a hold of you, can’t it?  Okay, maybe a weekly post was a bad idea.

My day job has been intruding way too much into my writing life.  By the time I get home from my 8-5 job, all I want to do is veg (or actually, smash shit up on City of Heroes).  There’s a simple reason why.

My nature is an introvert, like most writers.  I get power and strength from being alone, and doing things alone.  Writing is lonely work, and I love doing it.

Well, at my job, I got promoted, yay me.  Not so yay.  This means that 1) I’m the go-to person whenever someone has a question and 2) I’m wanted by my bosses to do special projects, 3) I have to run meetings in their stead, 4) Did I mention I was a mentor to the department?

This means I have to be friendly (gasp), open, and available for people if they have questions or need help.  This is totally against my nature, which is the type of person who likes to be handed work and left to her own devices.

So, needless to say, I was totally drained by the time I got home, and all I could think of was “Tank/brute, smash!”

Then I went to my story site and saw I hadn’t written AT ALL in the month of June.  Nothing.  A dead zone.

I felt so guilty.  Did my muse abandon me because I didn’t pay attention to her?  It was then that I realized that work was killing me.

So I started “listening” to my iPhone (yes, I got the iPhone).  I would plug in the headphones, and sometimes listen to music, but most times not.  This deterred everyone but the most determined people to ask me questions.  I set limits.  Now, yay me.

However, it’s famine time here, and I’ve been reading stuff on the kindle for the computer.  Whatever you do, go out and buy the Iron Druid Chronicles.  This series is awesome.  However, I’m out of money for the third book, so I’ll have to wait for payday to get it.  I read book 1 (Hounded) in one sitting, and book 2 (Hexed) in two sittings.  The author is Kevin Hearne.  When I grow up, I want to be just like him.

Also read Joe Ambercrombie’s “The First Law” series.  Again, out of money for book 3.  This one was a little more slow-going.  However, I want to be just like him, too.  He writes really good manly fiction, the kind of stuff I love to read.

Meanwhile, the revision for Grim 2 is slow.  I pulled Grim 1 off the market, because it really looked to me like a manuscript and not a book.  (I didn’t even have a dedication.  I’m not sure who to dedicate it to.)  I read through it once, and winced at a few spots.  I’m going to revise that one as well.

As a dare, I tried writing a paranormal romance, but it’s been bogged down in the weeds.  I have a reader for it, but she said it was slow going, and she found the scene where the vampire feeds of an elderly person as “weird”.  It is slow, as I have to establish the characters, and I have a hard time establishing female characters as more than just bitches and hoes.  You’d think being female I could write good female characters.  Maybe I’m too close to the subject.

Okay, I’m going to try and get back on track with a weekly posting.  However, most of the comments here have been spam.  I suppose I need to put myself out there more.

But it’s so scary!

Pain and the Writer

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.
Red Smith

In the most recent episode of Mad Men (the only TV show I watch), “Signal 30”, Roger Sterling calls Ken Cosgrove into his office and tells him that he can’t write anymore because it divides his attention from work.

Immediately, I felt a stab in my heart.  I understand in the ‘60’s this was probably par for the course for managers to tell people how to spend their off hours (the early version of “work-life balance”?), but to tell a writer to stop writing?  Might as well tell a pious person to stop praying.

Yet in the last scene, we see Ken working on his next story.  Stick it to ‘em, Ken!

This partially segues into what I’m going to talk about next.

A writer writes because that is what they do.  Yet, in some cases, it’s painful.

I found out when talking to someone yesterday that one of the reasons I create worry and anxiety for myself is because I’m looking for story ideas.  There is always the “what if”.  What if I do this wrong?  Ever see the commercials for Direct TV, where it starts off that you can’t find anything on the TV and the guy ends up homeless?  This is my worry spiral.

Yet, in there, is a story.

It’s often a good story.  I can know the feelings, the emotions, of someone who is on the edge of a cliff and can describe it.  I can sense the near-end of something, and how that feels.  I can wallow in it.  Sit on it, ruminate over it, and see the story in there.

Of course this isn’t good for my psyche!

It hurts sometimes when I don’t write.  There’s a story there, just at the edge of the mists, and I can see it, but it’s jumbled.  I can’t write down summaries of stories; I need to have a story in relatively full cloth, or at least know where I’m going with it.  One-sentence ideas are not stories – they’re teasers.

I wonder how many writers cause themselves pain and torture when they even live throughout the day?

No wonder Hemmingway and so many other great writers drank.

I can do better than that!

I have just finished listening to a book, and if it wasn’t on Audible I would have thrown it across the room.  It was horrible!  When I finished, I knew that I could write better than this guy.  And I actually have written a better novel than this one, set in the same time period with the same idea…but I know I did it a lot better.

Many times, that is my inspiration: the knowledge that I could do better than the published author.  It really is more luck than skill these days.  I could write a perfect 25 pages, stupendous cover letter, believable characters and story and everything grammatically correct – except it hits the wrong editor, time after time after time.

I’ve sent Grim out to four agents thus far, and gotten rejections.  I’m assuming I’m hitting the wrong agent.

I am tempted to pull Grim off Kindle, change it to a more adult-oriented story (not gay EroRom) and sell it to that group instead of making it a YA coming-of-age story.  It does need a good reader, and I do need someone to read it through once and get feedback.

I believe I will take the piece I started writing on Literotica and create an EroRom book for it.  The muse has given me many ideas for Tamerlane and Roger, how they work together to solve oddball crimes.  However not every scene has hot and heavy sex in it.

In the meantime, I am working on the first draft of Grim 3, the last in the trilogy, though debating on whether or not to have a happy ending.  I am also still revising Book 2; my date to have it out is September 9, 2012.

Opening a Writer’s Toolbox

I like technology, though I wait until initial fervor dies down before purchasing some big ticket item, like an iPad or an iPhone.  I still haven’t gotten the iPhone.

I also know the biggest tool of the trade is known as “butt in chair”.  But there are a few things that I find indispensable to my daily writing grind, and thought I would share some of them here.

Music.  iTunes, Pandora, Rhapsody.  I listened to Napster before it became Rhapsody.  Heck, I listened to Napster before it became the pay-to-play and was one of the original people who downloaded music from Napster when it first came out.  (To show my age, I had AOL when it first came out and used it on my IBM PS3.)

I can write without music, but music is helpful, especially music with good cadence; that is, music that sounds like it would come off of an action soundtrack.  Pandora is good for that, as I tell it the music I like, and it creates a radio station based off of my preferences.  If I hear something I like, I’ll search for it on iTunes and buy it for the iPod.  Then listen to it over, and over, and over, and over…

Word processing program.  Word, Pages, Googledocs.  I will be honest, Googledocs is the best thing that came along since…Google.  I can go to any computer anywhere and work on my novel.  I can do some work at home and then do some work at work (shhh).

The Internet, specifically: google, wikipedia, youtube.  Google to find things; wikipedia to find information; youtube to find that song that’s been running through your head for hours.

Scrivener.  I’m writing the second book on this using it as both a word processor and for a novel-writing format.  It’s one of the best organizers out there for novelists.  If you’re going to write, buy it – after you buy my book.  My book is cheaper.

Peripherals: iPad, iPod, Mac (I have a Windows computer right now).

Now, contact information:

You can contact me here on this website by  I answer all emails.  I probably won’t be able to read your novel or give you editing tips.  If you really want my opinion, I’ll give it to you…though I might not be too diplomatic about it.  And I’m not an editor, nor do I work in the editorial world.


I hope to write a blog every week, for Saturday or Monday consumption, about what I think about writing, the writing life, or even, very simply, a writing prompt or an opinion on what are important items every writer should have.

This week I was away for vacation, and amazingly enough, the muses were quiet.  No story ideas.  No need to write anything.  Because I was in a place that stimulated me constantly, and did not let up.  In fact, this place gave me no chance, no room to breathe.

I was fed, constantly, with creativity, creative minds, so called Imagineers (now you know where I went) – and I was overwhelmed.  My muses were overwhelmed as well.

This made me realize that I write best when I’m bored.  When I have little to no stimulation, my mind goes wild, and stories just happen.  The most creative things I did was photography and updates on my status page on my personal page on Facebook.

When do you write best?  When you’re stimulated visually or when you’re bored – or when you’re poked and prodded?

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog, which will discuss writing, and what I’m reading and writing (or listening to) in the process of writing.  You may find book reviews here, or articles on how I feel about writing, or articles about where I might be for book signings.  You can use this blog to contact me if you want to.  I’m always open to talking about writing and how it fits in one’s life with anyone.


Also, this is a place for fans of my books that are being sold through Kindle.  I hope you’ve picked up my book, Grimaulkin: Demon, and I especially hope you enjoyed it.  Even if you didn’t, drop me a line.


What I am working on now is the deep revision of Grimaulkin: Mage, part two of this trilogy.  It should be out in the summer of 2012.