Sunday, December 25, 2011

Fly By

It feels later than it actually is.  The past few days have been long, but not necessarily in a bad way.  I can't believe tomorrow is Sunday.  Yes, I've been texting Dillon throughout the day asking if he is packed to come to Texas.  He, of course, answers that he is not.  Knowing him, he won't pack until he gets up in the morning to catch his flight.  I'll never understand how guys can do that and get away with it.

Colt fixed the issues the BMW was having.  It's still weird to step out front and see the little car instead of my Jeep.  And it seems that every time I take it out, I see a swarm of Wranglers.  They're out to get me.  To add to it, it looks as if the dealer is still driving the Wrangler around.  I'm glad they're liking it.  I'll always miss it.

We had some company drop by today.  Colt's cousin from Dallas is in town.  She came with her husband and two adorable kids.  They're such a fun family.  There were a few awkward moments when I realized how un-child-safe my house is.  Even still, I managed to hold the six-month-old for the majority of their visit and survived.  She was starting to fall asleep when they had to leave in time to make their planned dinner with an uncle and his family.

I've spent the a good portion of today and yesterday reading.  Yes, I started the yard work, but it's less than fun to rake leaves in the rain, so I stopped.  We at least have a pathway for visitors.  I did manage to relocate most of the firewood before it rained.  That was good.  It's actually getting cold.  The fireplace is wonderful to sit beside and read a book.  I finished The Brave.  I loved it.  There were parts I didn't really care for, but the story as a whole was charming.  I'd say the moral was that secrets that are left untold and lies that are allowed to continue eventually lead to the corrosion of relationships.  I'd recommend it, but would have to mention a warning about the language and sex in several scenes.  But I can tell Evans included it to build a certain character.

So this evening has consisted of spartan loads of laundry and me kicking around my query letter.  I still hate it.  I think the feeling is mutual.  A work in progress.  But, there is one more publishing house I'd like to try for.  They cover contemporary fiction AND fantasy, so if they take me on, I wouldn't have to fish around for Shattered Remnants (hopefully).

Yes, I'm still in chicken mode.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Final Check-In for #Row80 2011 & Cars

Let's just say my "time off" came early.  This week was a mess from the very beginning.  It seemed that every time I sat down to write, something would come up.  There was a day in which I only reached five words.  Five!  That's pathetic!  Last night was the most productive.  I didn't get the word count, but it was in A&F.  It was a good scene to close with.  Now all I need to do is patch up two holes in the plot and I can say I'm finished with the first draft.  That's nice to look forward to.  I think I concentrate better once I pick it apart and begin to piece it back together for the second draft.

Monday was non-stop.  It started early.  My sister had an accident on her way to work before 6am.  She's good.  Thank goodness.  A semi forced her against a concrete retaining wall.  I'd take the wall over a semi any day.  The big truck never stopped.  So my sister limped her poor little mail-route ready, right hand side drive, Saturn wagon to the closest exit.  My dad met up with her a few hours later and drove her through her mail route.  I spent the day securing a car-hauler to make sure we had the car picked up before the gas station she parked it at could have it towed.  Two shredded tires.  Double bent rims.  Body damage.  Yet to hear about the suspension damage.  And it rained all day.  Yes, we need rain, but it isn't fun to deal with a battered Saturn during a thunderstorm.  It was a long ride home.  We still managed to have fun, but you could tell everyone was ready to call it a day.

In between phone calls, I was at the local car lot.  We decided to sell my Wrangler and get something used with a dinky payment.  I found a Subaru, but they sold it before I got there.  Our salesman (whom we've used many times before) gave me a list of all the used vehicles at all of their lots.  A two door Honda (I think Accord), a Corolla (which I loved), a VW Passat that looked really sharp, and I found a Mustang from another lot.  I only drove the Mustang.  Colt hated it.  He said he wouldn't stop me from getting it, but that he wanted me to keep looking.  The Honda just wasn't for me.  The Corolla had a few options I really hoped to avoid.  The Passat seemed to be a ticking time bomb for electrical issues.  Then, much to everyone's surprise, I spotted a BMW within our price range from the lot across town.  Our guy had it brought in and Colt took it for a spin (I was on the phone again).

It had some problems.  The dealership was equipped to fix it, but they didn't really bother.  Something was out with the AC system (FSU) and the driver seat motor has something goofy going on.  To be honest, I felt sorry for it.  It was surrounded by all these glowing, radiant, and expensive BMWs.  It had the same curb appeal, but was frowned on by all the other car shoppers because of its problems.  I couldn't blame them.  Who wants to buy that kind of car just to turn around and have to work on it?

Well, I guess we do.  Our sales guy dropped the price enough that we couldn't reasonably say no.  I was scared to death driving it off the lot.  We just bought a broken car.  A broken BMW.  And I don't have job.  We don't have loose change around the house that could repair a BMW.  Buyer's remorse within the first five minutes.

But we got it home and tinkered with it a bit.  It has more gadgets than I will ever use.  It's pretty clean inside and out.  Not a bad looking car at all.  Oh, and heated seats.  That's more than awesome.

Anywho, Colt looked around and found out what was wrong with the AC system.  He picked up a new FSU this morning.  We're hoping to put that in tonight.

So, yes, I bought a broken BMW.  I probably should have my head checked.  But the little cutie is less than what gas was costing me in the Wrangler.  That's saying something.  Colt has nearly memorized the repair manual.  He's like that.  He's taken apart and reassembled (properly) several of cars that had worse problems than this one.  One Porsche (yeah, that was an experience) and two Audi A4s.  I had a Jetta for a while, and he saved me from the VW garage many, many times.  Not to mention however many Jeeps he's had in the past.  I trust him with the car.  He seems to be having fun fixing it.  Ugh, and I can't imagine what the dealership would be charging us for all the stuff he's already done on it.  The parts aren't bad.  It's the labor.  Good thing I'm married to the guy.  He gets a big dinner tonight for getting so far with the AC.

And Dillon is coming home Sunday!  We are all very excited about that.  Lots and lots of dinners going on for the next week.  And he has already claimed a run in the Bimmer.  It doesn't handle exactly like his Mini, but I'm sure he'll still have fun with it.  I know he's been missing the Mini, so maybe this will get him back in the adorable little car.

But now I have to get back to the real world.  I've been putting off raking the yard for too long.  It's hard to distinguish where the yard meets the drive.  That means I have plenty of work to do.  I also need to relocate our firewood.  We have a hefty stack of it, so it might take me awhile.  Thus, writing will yet again be put off.  Still lots happening around here with working on the car and getting ready for Dillon's visit.  There's a big grocery run in there somewhere.  So, here's hoping to me getting all of this squared away before much longer so I can dive in at the start of the next round.

Have a great break!  Looking forward to the next round!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

#Row80 12/18

And it's Sunday.  Sunday evening at that.  I'm a bit behind.  I don't know how time has managed to sneak by yet again.  I'm not ready for Monday.  I haven't done any of the laundry.  There's probably three loads I need to do tonight.  The rest can wait.  I aimed to do it this morning, but it didn't happen.

In the writing world, little has happened in the typing department.  I'm scribbling in my notebook and looking through old ideas I've penned in the past.  I don't know where all of this comes from.  I don't remember much of it.  I guess it's good that I wrote it down in the first place.

Submission.  Eek.  Yeah, I'm still sitting on the nearly completed form.  It's for a small publishing house.  They're kind of a local indie publisher.  Well, local as in not too far away.  One of the questions, which I knew this was coming but still managed to goof, is asking what writings my book could be compared to.  The problem is I don't usually read general fiction.  I'm more of a fantasy kind of girl.  I've since picked up several general fiction books and have liked them, but I wouldn't say mine is similar to these.  Maybe The Brave by Nicholas Evans, but then again, not really.

Then there is an agent that is now accepting queries.  I've been following her for longer than I care to admit.  I haven't tried communicating with her in the past simply because I'm not confident I have anything she wants.  Yes, she takes my genre, but I'm still very new.  But if I could pick any agent out there, it would be her.  So now I don't know if I want to go ahead and submit to the publishing house or try her first.  Both have an estimated two week turn around and try to give some sort of a response whether or not they take it.  I need a push. 

The library here in town is officially carrying my book.  That made my day Friday when I found out.  They've asked me to come in and to a signing.  Maybe I'm being simple, but I think that's exciting.

15th- 302
17th- 480

I couldn't begin to have an idea of what I've added to the notebook.  I can't stay on one page.  I jump around way too much when I'm working with pen and paper.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

#Row80 Check-In 12/14

Easy check-in today.  Not good, but easy.  I haven't written since the last check-in.  Sunday was busy.  Monday was Monday.  Yesterday consisted of cleaning the house, rearranging the spare room, and cleaning out closets.  I now have the Grand Cherokee LOADED for a trip to Goodwill.  We could probably have a pretty good yard sale with all this stuff, but I'm being lazy.  I feel like I'm restocking the store.

Though writing has not happened, both A&F and SR have been running circles in my head.  SR more so.  I didn't realize we were so close to the end of the round.  Yikes!  I need to get on it and make some progress.

Maybe tonight.  I still have one more book shelf to empty, clean, and move.  Then I swap a few more pieces around and I think I'll be done rearranging.  One plus to all this, my office will have more room!  Downside: my back and wrist have had enough.  I feel like I've aged thirty years in the past 48 hours.

I do have a question I'd like to pose:
Do you agree with sharing your work for free?

I know I download the free books and novellas just to try them out.  I've found some of my favorite authors that way.  And the majority of my favorite authors are indie.  Since I've started sharing Shattered Remnants on the blog, I've gotten loads of emails about giving away my work, that I am cheapening it.  I don't exactly see it that way.

Anyone care to weigh in?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

#Row80 12/11 Check-In

This check-in will be boring.  You have been forewarned.  I'm back to beating my head against the keyboard.  A&F hates me.  I'm in the middle of one of the final scenes and I can't stand looking at it.  It has shriveled back into the dashboard and stares at me.  That's okay.  I expected that.  When you spend too much time with someone, they will eventually get on your nerves.  It will sit there awhile.  If I keep tinkering with it, I will drag it into the trash instead of dropbox.  I've been asked twice this weekend about its progress.  Both questioners were given the same answer.  Stagnant, but still existent.  I received grumbles of disappointment from both.  One was a little more colorful about it than the other.  So I won't abandon it.  Just need to take a break.  Where to Belong was the same way.  It's a bittersweet journey.

Shattered Remnants has stepped up.  The problem is that I am thinking on Book Two, yet writing Book One.  Yep, I'm trying to make it difficult.  I've been reading the draft from early last year.  I have to say it has done us both some good to take that much time apart.  I found some of the writing surprising.  Did I write that?  Hmm.  Other parts I've laughed out loud at my awkward attempts to reach for a certain emotion.  I'm still in love with the story.  I just have to figure out a better way to let it unravel.  The portions that have been posted on the blog are still in rough draft form.  I know that is frowned upon, but it's where I am at the moment.  It will be polished several times over before I send it out for its grand finale.

12/7 - 371
12/8 - 0 (boo)
12/9 - 653
12/10 - 1061 (finally gave into SR after staring at the screen for two hours)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Shattered Remnants Chapter Two: Reinforcement - Scene One

The early morning sky was darkened by a thick blanket of rainclouds.  Dea peered up at them as she stepped out of her tent.  They were a welcomed sight.  Perhaps they would stick around and provide some shade for the day's ride.

With her packs in hand, she slipped her staff into its sheath on her back.  It was with perfect timing.  A horn sounded from the center of the camp.  Alton was calling for his troops to gather for the company's assignment.

The lanes that were often moderately active quickly filled with a sea of Validius blue uniforms.  Dea fell in step with the flowing mass of her comrades.  Most appeared well readied for the announcement.  There was only a handful of those still working to button up their coats.

The common area was filling in a hurry as Dea made her way to her place.  She exchanged acknowledging glances with Zacairus after he settled in two rows ahead of her.  He gestured at her carried packs, earning a nod.  He gave a hearty smile and a wink in return.

Alton stood before the assembly in his deep blue captain's uniform.  The black and gold cords looped over his shoulders demanded notice.  His light brown eyes passed over the gathered troops before him.  The company went silent.

Dea stood in attention as the captain performed his routine assessment.  She admired his eternal calm.  The man never gave a hint as to what he was about to say.  No matter the pressure of the situation, he remained completely untroubled.  He was the embodiment of tranquility.

"We will be moving out within the hour," he began.  His soft spoken tone forced a stillness over the company.  Even the wind seemed to dissipate in accommodation of his low volume.  "We are to assist the western forces.  There has been a breach in Baldorah's defenses.  Bellfield and Herondale have fallen.  Moatterra is next.

"Pack only essentials.  We will not make camp.  We should reach Moatterra by midday.  We will return as soon as the area is recovered.

"Officers, report to me for your division's assignments."

With that, the company was dismissed.  No one delayed.  The common area came to life with Validius spurring into action.

Dea started for the stables.  All she needed was to ready her bay mare, Marus.  Depending on the horse's mood, it would not take long.  The biscuits in her pack would assure the mare's cooperation.

"How much of this did you already know?" Zacairus asked as he came beside Dea.

She shook her head.  "Only that we were getting an assignment.  Zeke would not tell me anything more."

He gave a doubtful chuckle.  "I thought you were going to start sharing your information."

She picked up their pace and fought back a grin.  "Zeke stopped by last night.  He said Alton will address the company in the morning about a mysterious assignment."

"I would not mind a little notice, Dea."  Zacairus shook his finger at her.  "Mysterious assignment, huh?"

"To be honest, he only said assignment.  I added the mysterious.  I thought you would like that."

"So it was a good thing for me to be packed in advance," he grumbled.

Dea let out a laugh.  She squeezed through a narrow alley between a row of white tents with Zacairus following her lead.  "When are you not packed?"

"I have caught on," he returned.  They stepped out into a less crowded lane and pressed on.  "Since you asked, I have learned to get a pack ready every time Zeke pays you a visit.  His coming is a precursor to new assignments."

The two slowed as they came to the side entrance of the stables.  Tall wooden gates and barricades spread out in a maze before them.  Validius of all ranks moved about with tack and gear in tow.

The small enclosure housed only a fraction of the company's mounts.  Most were kept in the adjoined field.  Since Dea and Zacairus had assignments that day, their horses were kept in the stables over the night.

The smell of wood, dust and straw tempered that of manure.  The dirt floor of the stables muted the steps of the Baldorians within the building.  Stamping hooves and clanking of hardware filled the air.

"They are over here," Zacairus spoke up.  He ushered Dea to the far side of the stables.  She was grateful he was tall enough to spy their horses' heads over the wooden walls.

They made their last turn and eased their pace.  Zeke stood waiting in front of Marus' stall.  He had both Dea's and Zacairus' tack out and ready for them.

"You are such a good man," Zacairus called out in praise.  "You knew we were coming."

Zeke bowed his head in greeting to Zacairus.  "I was right to assume you two travel as a team."

"Yes, sir," Zacairus said as he returned the greeting.  "I will always recruit one of your studies to watch my back."

Zeke's green eyes lightened with a smile.  He patted Zacairus' shoulder, then turned to Dea.  "Did you rest well?"

"Yes, sir."

"Are you ready for your journey?"

"Yes, sir."

"Should you have chosen a good-natured horse, I would have had it saddled and ready for you.  I did not care to fight with this nag today."

Dea smiled and nodded in understanding.  She reached into her pack and retrieved a biscuit.  Holding it up for her mentor to see, she offered it in her flattened hand to the waiting mare.  Marus' lips quickly claimed the treat.

"Ah."  Zeke followed her example and found a biscuit.  "Bribery is often successful."

Zacairus opened the stall that held his dark brown stallion.  "This guy is not difficult.  He would let you saddle him."  The sleek horse held still as he slipped the bit into place.

"I did not even attempt to try," Zeke said.  "I am wary of another man's horse.  It might be bonded or ornery."  He nodded to Marus as she nipped at him.  "Or both."

Dea stepped into the mare's stall.  Marus flattened her ears and tossed her head with a snort.  The mare calmed when Dea took the bridle in her hands.  She would not put up too much of a fight, but Dea knew it was not one of Marus' better days.  The bay's brown eyes flashed with annoyance.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

#Row80 Check-In 12/7

I've been a bad ROWer as of late.  Apologies.  Go figure, after the great month of writing, followed by several amazing adventures with friends, I go and bum myself out (went against my own advice and rented space).  I've been doing more reading than writing.  But I'm reading over old notebooks and attempted stories.  Looking for something familiar, I guess.  I think I'm coming to terms with my goof (but I still refuse to call it a goof), so mayhaps I'll get back to A&F here shortly.  SR has been my crutch these past few days though I haven't put any of it in writing.  Lots of quiet time.  But, hey, we all need that every now and again.

It has been wonderful to see how well everyone is doing this round.  The camaraderie has been brilliant.  I'm very happy to be a part of this group.  I'm already looking forward to next round.

12/4 - 0
12/5 - 391
12/6 - 426

Sunday, December 4, 2011

#Row80 Check-In 12/4

Almost missed another check-in.  Busy day.  Good busy.  But that does mean it's been less than great for writing.  I've hit the post-NaNo slump.  A&F is still going, but I lost my train of thought for a day or two.  Then Shattered Remnants came back with a vengeance.  I'm going to have to sit down and let that one roll for a time.  Top it all off with a whole new idea.  Yep.  Why not?  My head is going to explode.

I've only read one of the books I promised myself.  Loved it.  Will easily read it again.  Iron Knight and Inheritance are sitting on my book shelf giving me the evil eye.  Literally.  Have you seen the spine to Inheritance?  Creepy eye staring at me every time I walk by.

But lots of family and friend time as of late.  I was in dire need of that.  Now I'm in dire need of sleep.  And laundry is probably planning an assault some time soon.  I just want to sit down and write and write and write.  It'll happen.  Eventually.  Now it's back to the rat race.

11/30 - 1798
12/1 - 1701
12/2 - 168
12/3 - 599
12/4 - (as of yet) 0

And I'll leave you with an idea of only a part of my adventure from this weekend's excitement.
Ping pong in high heels.
Don't question it.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lessons

Fiction.  That is my usual genre of choice.  That is where my adventure as a writer began.  For whatever reason these characters come to life in my mind and I have to spill out their stories.  A conversation with a fellow writer reminded me of how close we are to these make-believe persons.  They are with you for however long it takes to fill the pages, and even linger on after.  The book might end, but their stories go on and on.  The fellow writer I spoke of lost a character in her most recent installment.  I didn't see it coming and admittedly cried like a baby.  We get attached to these figments of our imagination.  I still remember the first time I wrote a character's death.  I still get teary when I read back over the notes.  I've yet to release that series.  It's an ongoing project.

I have, however, dabbled in non-fiction.  It isn't much.  It's probably the shortest segment of my writing career.  I wrote it while muddling through a handful of hardships.  Then to add to it, I was at a part in a WIP where the MC experiences a tragedy.

I've since filed the work away and forgotten it.  I made it through the rough time.  I'd like to say all is better, but we all know how that goes.  Friends of mine have had such conflicts thrown into their lives.  Some willingly take what I know from the experience and put it to use.  Others wallow in the misfortune and let it drag them down.  I've seen couples who have been married longer than I've been alive call it quits.  I've seen couples who showed the most heartwarming and inspirational displays of affection for their spouse, then pack and leave in the middle of the night.  Then you have the ones who squabble and bicker and yet are the dearest couples I've ever seen.    There is no right or wrong way.  But there are lessons.

This is mine.

   
    A friend once told me that everyone falls in and out of love with their spouse throughout their marriage.  This is a normal thing.  Marriage is a perfect arrangement involving imperfect people.  It originated from a loving God, thus it is inevitably to be attacked by a jealous Devil.  Marriage can be a blessing, or it can be a curse.  It all depends on how hard you want to fight for it.  How long you want to work with it.  You have to remember to fall back in love.

    She never told me how intense the barrage of attacks would be.  Am I on the right side?  Am I fighting for, or against this relationship?  Is there a time when it's appropriate to surrender the battle.  How will I know?  I feel as though I've poured my life force into trying to save this bond.  It seems to merely be a bandage on a laceration.  It needs to heal from the inside before the hemorrhaging can be controlled. 

    How many times can a person be mentally and emotionally bludgeoned before they are rendered debilitated?  Is the effect always negative, or can one find a nourishing side to the raids?  If one is to look hard enough, they might possibly locate a point of return, a galvanized base to rebuild from. 

    My mother has always told me, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."  Strength is a good thing.  Endurance is better.  The desire to have both is hallowed.  The ability to is empowering.  A person who has the ability to be strong and to endure is untouchable as long as this one continues to put their power to use.  It demands constant awareness on this person's part.  Now, this being with the ability, they may be able to ensure their own survival, but they cannot aid just anyone they want to do the same.  Each person has to have the real desire to save themselves. 

    What does this have to do with marriage?   If one has the strength and endurance required to sustain a marriage, and their partner does not, it is futile and cruel to continue.  Both parties have to put a full and honest effort into the arrangement for there to be a chance of success.  There must be absolute faith in one another.  Unadulterated trust.  Not just the "fall back and I'll catch you" kind, but the "don't let go till we're through to the other side" kind.  The kind you never question, you never look back.  I experienced that once upon a time. 

    How do you get back to that?  How do you re-learn trust after repeated let downs and losses?  If trust is absent, love cannot be retained.  They are interlocking pieces.  Where does the trust start?  You trust persons you know well.  Friends.  It takes time and effort to build a friendship.  They don't happen overnight, not the real ones.  Friends may come and go.  True friends stay.  They are the ones you can be open around.  They don't judge you, but they will advise you if they feel you are making a poor decision.  True friends weather the test of time.  Best friends are of an elite group.  These are the ones you trust your life with, or would give your life for.  These not only weather the test of time, but flourish, become better, grow.  They are the ones who know you, your every look, your every thought, they can even predict what you might say.  They know how to make you laugh, and take the time to do it often.  They listen when you need to vent.  They know how to console you from the heart.  Best of all, you do all the same for them.  The only step up from this is a spouse. 

    A spouse is a completion of yourself.  Not a team, but one person, one flesh.  A spouse is your everything, your very breath.  For better, for worse, till death.  End of story.  Or at least, it should be.  What happens, where does it go bad?  Is it because this person is more or less than what you expected, what you wanted?  There was a vow, a promise.  That is the proof of trust, embodiment of faith.  You are to care for this person, shelter, treasure, protect.  There is nothing you wouldn't do for this being.  You would go to the ends of the earth, use all your strength, give your last breath, and never waiver in your belief this one would do the same for you.  That is what marriage is all about.  Loss of self respect is detrimental to this agreement.  Any lack of self worth will tear it apart.  On the other end, the slightest hint of selfishness will prove catastrophic.  You have to be everything to this other person, and yet be good to yourself.  For they wouldn't want you to be weakened in any way, even self induced frailty. 

    When you allow yourself to stumble, this hinders your spouse.  A strong spouse will quickly adjust to the new load, and become what is needed to correct the situation.  If the problem is not resolved, and is allowed to continue, the stronger one will begin to drain.  As a loving mate, you should first repair your own shortcomings.  This will give you the needed strength and understanding to support your spouse the way you did before the failing.  You will both become the foot-holding the other needs to climb into a reinforced marriage. 

    If your spouse begins to show signs of self doubt, try to get to the base of it before it festers.  Don't pry, but draw them out.  Let them know you are concerned.  Be gentle and kind.  If they don't respond right away, simply let them know you are there if and when they need you.  They may very well be capable to atone for their self.  Then simply move on.  If, on the other hand, it is not stabilized, you may have to dig a little deeper.  Is there an underlying problem?  Is something changed, or lost?  Quick action is imperative.