Friday, December 30, 2011

Flash Fiction Challenge: Message in a Bottle

Welcome to the fifth weekly flash fiction challenge of December (Even though half the week is really January...  You know what I mean!)!  You have one week to submit yours if you want to be included in the runnings for "my favorite" of the week.  I'm going to offer a copy of either my short story, Nothing Lasts Forever, or a copy of my giant book of poetry, Bony Fingered Limbs, to the winner.  Just let me know which you'd prefer, should you be chosen!  :)  It will come to you via email as a PDF file, DRM-free, so you can send it to whatever e-book-reader-device you may prefer.

If you happen to win enough times to run out of choices, I will offer my services in editing a work of yours, up to 3000 words.  

Get me your submissions by Midnight next Friday morning, 1-06-12, Mountain Standard Time.  Link us your story in the comment area!  Put it up on your own blog, or on a public note on Facebook or in a Google Document file.  Somewhere so we can all see it.  Make sure you link your story!  Just  to be sure it's not passed over by accident, missed, or not included in the contest!  Thanks!

Your challenge for this week is something I am calling Message in a Bottle.  Your word cap this week is 1000 words, so it's a little shorter this time!  That makes it a bit harder, but I think you can do it!

Let's see what you've got!


Congrats Frank and Josie!  Let me know which copy you'd like and where to send it!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Those who cannot edit .... sulk.

The kids are still home for their Christmas break at school.  Yeah, they actually call it that, at this school.  Color me shocked.  I don't mind either way, really.  They do a play with Santa too.  They also color pictures of menorahs and learn about Hanukkah, so it's not exclusive by any means.  But anyway, regardless of the reason, they are still home.  Still making noise.  Still being distracting.

I have this lovely first draft I'd really like to work on.  I can't concentrate long enough to think clearly with them home.  Sigh.  So I sit here with my cup of coffee, pretend the boy's room really is picked up enough for the visiting grandparents to stay in there tomorrow (it isn't, I guarantee it)...  and try and ignore the noises.

But I don't really even try to edit, because I'll just get more frustrated if I do.  Because I won't be able to.  This is the time of day I usually get work done.  The hubby who works late is still sleeping, and the kids are usually in school.  Sigh sigh sigh.

I really need to find a way to work while kids are home.  >.<

Friday, December 23, 2011

Flash Fiction Challenge: The Woman in my Coffee

Welcome to the fourth weekly flash fiction challenge of December!  You have one week to submit yours if you want to be included in the runnings for "my favorite" of the week.  I'm going to offer a copy of either my short story, 
Nothing Lasts Forever, or a copy of my giant book of poetry, Bony Fingered Limbs, to the winner.  Just let me know which you'd prefer, should you be chosen!  :)  It will come to you via email as a PDF file, DRM-free, so you can send it to whatever e-book-reader-device you may prefer. 

Get me your submissions by Midnight next Friday morning, 12-30-11, Mountain Standard Time.  Link us your story in the comment area!  Put it up on your own blog, or on a public note on Facebook or in a Google Document file.  Somewhere so we can all see it.  Make sure you link your story!  Just  to be sure it's not passed over by accident, missed, or not included in the contest!  Thanks!

The photo at the top of the page is your inspiration this week.  I call it The Woman in my Coffee.  Let the photo speak to you and guide you in your quest for words.  Your word cap for this week is 1500 words.  It can be less than 1500, certainly, but not more.

Happy writing!  Let me see what you've got!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Snowed Up ~ Snow Cabin story

I wrote this one for my Snow Cabin challenge.  Enjoy!

Snowed Up

The snow was beautiful that night, the way the moonlight reflected, allowing one to see fairly well in the dark of the woods. For that, Dustin was grateful. He and two friends were on the third day of their five day hike up Pike's Peak when the snow took them by surprise. That was four days ago, but they were no closer to the base of the mountain now than they were then.
They had checked the weather warnings before they lef, and all reports had been clear, but they always knew there was a chance of snow regardless. Mountain snow storms arrived suddenly that time of year, but they decided it was worth the risk and went anyway. One last hike before the heavy snows for the season.
It grew difficult to see the path as the snow fell heavier and heavier, and now they were lost as well as running out of food. There had been no sign of rescue searches, but there was the assumption someone noticed they hadn't come back yet. Surely someone was looking for them. But the longer they were out there, the hope ran thinner that they might reach the Jeep or find signal while they had battery on their phones.
The snow kept falling and filling in the holes their feet made, which made it difficult to track them. They resorted to making snow shoes for themselves when they realized the snow was drifting rather high in some places, but it hadn't been before Tina's leg poked through to the hip and she twisted her ankle horribly.
The mock snow shoes were really just fir branches they tied to their feet with a ripped up flannel shirt, and they worked well enough until it came time to go downhill with Tina's twisted ankle. Dustin and Eric braced her between them, but she simply couldn't manage the sideways stepping that was required to go downhill, and they couldn't support her weight between them while walking downward either. So the three of them were stuck on the mountain, watching the skies for search and rescue helicopters, and wandering, looking for a warm place to wait it out.
So there they were, alone and lost, no sign of rescue, and the two guys were trying to keep their friend in good spirits, which grew progressively harder as the days passed. Her ankle was badly sprained, and hurt terribly, so they tried to distract her from the pain. They played a woodland version of the alphabet game, spotting items that began with letters of the alphabet rather than finding written letters, but they got stuck on q and Tina wouldn't allow them to use the word “quick” to move the game along, so it died there. The three of them talked about movies they watched together, played games telling stories where they took turns making up sentences to add to the narrative, but after so long out there in the cold, they were running out of ideas for things to do to pass the time.
“It sure is pretty out here, at least,” Tina said as they walked and she hobbled, looking for a place to rest for the night. “We could set up the tent and build a fire in that clearing over there. We'd be visible from the air, if they're out looking for us at night,” she suggested, pointing with a nod to a flat area just ahead of them.
“Works for me,” Eric said and shared a glance with Dustin. She needed to rest, and would want more Ibuprophen, but they gave her the last of it already. They took enough pain meds along just in case something happened, of course, but not so much to weigh down their packs.
After backpacking for the past ten years together, the three of them knew not to take chances, but also knew every ounce was weight they had to carry with them, and they were careful not to pack too heavily. But at times like this, it was hard to know there was nothing you could do for your hurting friend. Dustin had studied medicinal herbs just in case, but they couldn't very well see any wild plants through the snow, so they were simply out of luck.
The three of them struggled up the hill, Tina putting no weight on her hurt foot, which worried the other two, but they said nothing. They rounded the wall of trees that blocked their view, stopped and stared. There, before them, stood a good sized cabin, lights on, chimney roaring.
“Is it a mirage?” Eric asked breathlessly.
“Are there even mirages in the snow?” Tina laughed. “I think not!”
“I sure hope not,” Dustin grinned widely, and the three of them set off toward the cabin with renewed strength.
They knocked on the door and were permitted entry by the young woman who lived there. Her name was Alice and she turned out to be one of the rangers who worked the mountain and it was her month to stay in the cabin full time. She seemed surprised to see the three of them, but she didn't seem to immediately recognize their faces, which made them a little confused.
Everyone knew they were gone, they explained. How was it nobody had sent someone to look for them? Alice inspected Tina's ankle by the fire and she avoided answering. Eric was in the kitchen, by Alice's suggestion, and was warming a kettle on the stove and he saw her walkie-talkie charging station. Not one of them was on. He turned toward the woman who was helping them and demanded to know what was going on.
As it turned out, two days into their trip, an outbreak of some hemorrhagic fever, not sure which virus started it, had begun in a major hospital down in Colorado Springs. The reports had started off telling people to simply stay inside, but whatever caused it was a long-incubating virus that was transmittable well before people realized they had been exposed, and the entire city was affected before anyone knew what it was or what to do about it. Everyone seemed to know someone who was sick within two days of the outbreak being announced on the news.
The CDC had arrived and was working on bringing in a cure, but they had to figure out which virus was responsible first, and patient zero had been cremated by a scared doctor to prevent the further spread of the disease. The head virologist on the project had not been amused, and it delayed progress severely.
It also seemed that the aggression increased in those affected, and there were reports of reanimation, but nobody seemed to know what that meant exactly. The reports came shortly before the news stations were abandoned, and Alice only turned on the radios every few hours since then, waiting to see if there had been a change. There hadn't been.
The three of them sat shocked and Dustin just shook his head, “Reanimation? Dead things coming to life? Zombies are real? Is that what that means?”
It could be,” Tina nodded slowly. She enjoyed reading medical thrillers and seemed to know exactly what Alice was talking about. “Hemorrhagic fevers attack the body and the blood stream, it could be this virus attacks the brain too. Reanimation is a new one, of course, but if zombies do exist, I suppose them coming back and eating brains or flesh or whatever could be an attempt to fix the balance in their own bodies.
I bet they think they're feeling better and are just hungry with weird cravings. If they quarantined the city, food would run short and people might resort to cannibalism,” she trailed off. “They never explain the brain eating part in movies,” she added when Eric gave her an odd look.
Alice nodded, “I was told not to come back down until they gave the all-clear. I'm just glad I have plenty of food and firewood and can ride it out a little. You're safe now, though. Why don't you try and get some rest? I'll keep watch. You must be tired.”
The three hikers agreed and passed out from exhaustion quickly, despite the bad news. In the morning when a truck drove up to the cabin, they were all surprised. A ranger had arrived to take them home.
As it turned out, Alice had a strange sense of humor. She saw them walking up with their strange tree branch snowshoes, recognized their faces, called the base camp that she'd found the missing backpackers, and arranged a ride for them. But she decided to mess with them before they went home, turned off her radios, and spun an apocalypse story. She apologized sheepishly, they all had a good hearty laugh, and the three hikers returned home to their families, who happily, were not zombies at all.

I'm dreaming of a white Thursday...

The snow has been falling all week this week, here in the lovely mountains of Colorado!  It snowed all night from Monday into Tuesday, and all night last night.  It's still coming down.

Now, those of you who are not familiar with the mountains in a desert area are probably thinking, "Duh, crazy lady, of course the snow is falling.  You're in the  MOUNTAINS."  Well, you'd think we get a lot of snow.  We really don't.  And not usually this time of year either.

It might come down slightly during the winter, but our snows are usually heaviest in the spring. We get spring snows rather than spring rains.  It makes it seem like the mountains have only three seasons:  A very long fall where everything is brown and it gets cold sometimes, a short winter with lots of snow, in the wrong time of year, and summer when it's just too hot during the day but the nights make up for it.

We've gathered up probably 10 inches of snow this week alone, and it hasn't melted.  THAT is the weird thing here.  See, where I'm from, in Nebraska, the snow falls like this and sticks around because it stays cold.  Here, we usually have it melting off in the bright sun the day after it falls.  It makes it hard for the kids to find time to sled, and means we don't really have snowplows roaming the side streets.  Usually the plows just spread sand or salt or a mixture of the two to melt what's on the roads.  There's not usually enough to push off the sides.

We get these lovely snow-steam effects in the streets and you can SEE the snow evaporating away.  It's really rather interesting!  I'd never seen anything like it before I moved here.  It's all because we're living at about 6000 feet above sea level, and the sun is closer, and the rays feel hotter here, humidity being equal...  It melts things off faster and keeps overall temps higher.

Snow evaporating video:


So days like this are strange.  Back to back snows, for one thing.  But the previous snow had not melted at all is another.  It's not going to accumulate much more before the afternoon, I can tell that from the way the storm has changed from real snow to flurries...

But for now, I enjoy the view with my coffee, the kids are having fun running from outside to inside.  They're taking turns shoveling, sledding down the hill in our backyard, and drinking hot cocoa to warm back up again.  I have to work later, but today is a good day.  I wonder if it will be busy at work because it's just before Christmas, or if it will be quiet because of the snow.  It could be we were slammed at work yesterday because people knew the snow was coming and freaked out quite a bit.  Could be.

Anyway.  I need to go write my snowy cabin story now.  I got an idea for it yesterday finally.  It's hard to make things not what they'd seem sometimes!  Off I go then!  And if you're in a snowy spot today like I am, take a moment to enjoy the view, even if you know it will mean shoveling and scraping off cars later.

And remember!  It's only 3 days until Christmas!  Hang out and stare at your tree, or enjoy the lights outside at the neighbors' if you don't celebrate yourself.  It's pretty out there.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Just a Sunday...

I hang out here listening to Christmas music and my kids downstairs, who should be cleaning rooms but probably are not, drinking my coffee and gearing up to play around in Scrivener a bit.

It's hard to believe Christmas is only a week away!  How did that happen!?  I really hope my packages I sent off to family get where they're going in time.  I should make phone calls and let people know things are on their way, even if they don't arrive in time.  :)

I made fudge and monster cookies to share, and sent cousin gifts off.  I was a little slow making the cookies, because I got sick, and a little slow getting them in the mail as a result...  but they're on their way.  So if you're one of my brothers or their wives, boxes are on their way!

I don't usually send cookies to all three of them... but my mother's got it in her head that Fair Trade chocolate is the only way to go.  And that's fine and good and all most of the time...  but it kinda ruins the cookies that are supposed to have M&Ms in them.  I know she made Monster Cookies too, but trust me. They're not the same without the candy coated goodness.

Anyway, I'll share the recipe with you all, because I love these cookies.  We make them every Christmas.  They're amazing and perfect cookies.  Assuming you don't have a peanut allergy.  The original recipe called for things by the POUND, and I fixed it up so this is a much more normal sized cookie recipe.  Should make 2-4 dozen.  Depends how small you make them.

Monster Cookies


1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 & 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Add & mix in:

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 large eggs

Add and mix in gently:

3.5 cups rolled oats (longer cooking oats, not quick oats)
1 cup all purpose flour

Fold in:

4-8 oz M&Ms (christmas colors are my favorite!)
4-8 oz Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350*F, ball up 2 tablespoons batter per cookie (eyeball is fine, but don't make them too big!).  Cook 8-12 minutes.  They will not look cooked but they will finish cooking outside the oven.  Let cool on the cookie sheet 5 minutes, then move to wax paper to cool fully.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Flash Fiction Challenge: Snow Cabin

Welcome to the third weekly flash fiction challenge of December!  You have one week to submit yours if you want to be included in the runnings for "my favorite" of the week.  I'm going to offer a copy of either my short story, Nothing Lasts Forever, or a copy of my giant book of poetry, Bony Fingered Limbs, to the winner.  Just let me know which you'd prefer, should you be chosen!  :)  It will come to you via email as a PDF file, DRM-free, so you can send it to whatever e-book-reader-device you may prefer. 

Get me your submissions by Midnight next Friday morning, 12-23-11, Mountain Standard Time.  Link us your story in the comment area!  If you don't have a blog to post it on, you can use the notes on your facebook page.  Just be sure it is marked "public" so we can all see it!  And if you don't have a blog, you could start one up pretty fast and easy, here at blogger!

Make sure you link your story!  Both last week and this week, I pulled links that were given elsewhere for the submissions.  That worked this last couple times, but I might not see it next time! So you're not forgotten or missed, just be sure to put your links in the comments area below!  Thanks!

OKAY, down to it!  This week's challenge is going to be a lovely picture that feels like Christmas, because it's just around the corner.  :)  I call it Snow Cabin.  Click on it to see the larger picture if you can't see it well enough.

1500 words or less, full story!  You know the drill!  WOW us!  Good luck everyone!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Harold & Genevieve ; Shoe Tree

I did this for my Shoe Tree Challenge!  Cutting it a little close, but it's done on time!  Enjoy!  This picture is my new favorite shoe tree pic.  This one, below, is located in Nevada.  Well, was located in Nevada.  Someone chopped it down.  Mean people.  Anyway!  Makes for good inspiration!

“But I don't know what to wear! If you would give me a clue,” Genevieve grumbled at her husband, but he didn't give in. He was an obstinate man. She huffed and grabbed the thick brown shawl she'd knitted recently, and pulled it around her shoulders, then turned toward the door, “Honestly, Harold, I don't know what you think you're doing dragging me out of the house at this hour! And without a decent breakfast too. You know I can't function properly without my egg in the morning,” she shook her head but followed him out the door.
“Just get in the car, Dear,” he said and he held the door open for her. She got in, muttering, and he closed the door after her before locking the door to the cozy little yellow home the two had shared since they married fifty-four years ago. He chuckled to himself as he climbed in the car and started it.
The sun peeked over the horizon, but not by much, and Harold turned the car to the west once they hit the highway. “Isn't it lovely this morning?” He smiled over at his wife and reached out to squeeze her hand.
She couldn't help but smile and squeeze his hand back as she looked out over the frosted desert brush that ran on for miles and miles. A dusted mountain range in the horizon glinted in the morning sun, and she nodded, “Yes, it is.” She cocked her head at him slyly. “It would be even lovelier if I knew where we were going,” She hinted.
Harold laughed outright, “Give it a rest, woman, I told you it's a surprise!”
She sulked and pulled her hand back from him, and he turned on a holiday CD to fill the silence.
After half an hour of driving, Genevieve smiled a little, recognizing a landmark. “Are we going to visit Bonny?”
Harold reached out and patted her leg and smiled, “You'll see,” in a tone that told Genevieve she was wrong. He smiled to himself at his cleverness, and she turned toward the window, barely hiding her own smirk.
She knew his antics better than he thought. He thought he was being so sneaky. He thought she hadn't overheard his conversation when he had his friends Fred and George over just the other day. But the new hearing aide she picked up at PriceCo a few months back had some very handy settings on them to help her out with things like that. The television setting was fantastic for eaves dropping.
She knew where he was taking her, but knew how much he wanted it to be a surprise, so she played the silly old wife, irritated and cold in the car because he wanted the heat down. She recognized the drive, even if he hadn't told Fred where he was taking her for their anniversary. Not their wedding anniversary, the anniversary of the day they met. She had told the story one thousand times, sometimes longer versions than others, but she knew the words by heart.
It was December 30th, 1956 and she was 17, home for the holidays during her first year at a lady's college to brush up on her social skills before settling down. Genevieve was not one to just do what others told her, though, and she bucked at the idea, however quietly. She had bigger plans than that. She would attend college as her mother wanted, but she had no intentions of ever settling down.
Genevieve was going to brush up on her art history, take some classes to fine-tune her technique, paint in her free time, and sell her paintings in a small local gallery. She would sell her art, get her own apartment in the city, and live happily on her own with a little short haired dog. She could see it all clearly in her mind as she drove to visit a friend who was also home for the holidays.
When steam began to pour from the hood of her Daddy's sky blue Cadillac convertible, she puttered to the side of the road and put up the hood, waving the steam from her face. Genevieve knew nobody would drive by and it was useless to wait, so she locked up the broken car and set off down the road. There was a gas station a few miles down and she could use the telephone to call her father.
Genevieve walked and walked, blisters forming from her beautiful black and white saddle shoes. They weren't made for that kind of walking. They were going to be ruined if she kept on too much longer, she knew, but she couldn't take them off and go barefoot on the side of the road. She trudged on, only stopping once for a few minutes in the shade of a cottonwood tree on the side of the road. Its deeply grooved trunk was rounded just right for her back, and she leaned back, listening to the creaking of the branches as the wind blew past.
It took her over an hour to reach the gas station, and when she arrived, she found a chair, sat down, pulled her shoes off, and gingerly rubbed her feet. It was then that Harold walked in, covered in grease, grey coveralls with his name sewn on the breast. He was wiping his hands on an old towel and talking mechanical jargon with the man at the register when Harold spotted the stranded girl.
Harold was kind enough to offer her the store's telephone, she made a phone call her her Daddy. He would have Harold's shop fix the car up, and he would be by to get Genevieve after work.
Harold drove the tow truck and Genevieve thanked him for driving her back, as her feet hurt something awful. He commented that woman's footwear should be more comfortable, even if it meant losing prettiness. The idea sprouted as they passed the cottonwood, and grew in her mind. They hitched the car up and were passing the lone Cottonwood on the side of the road, when she said suddenly, “Stop!” and he hit the brakes.
She jumped out and ran across the wide field and over to the tree that had sheltered her. She hugged its trunk and whispered to it, thanking it for its warmth, and sat down where she'd rested earlier.
“Please, let's go! I'll get in trouble. They'll think I'm driving slow because you're pretty,” Harold begged, but she just smiled. She stood wiggling bare toes in the dirt, grinning, swinging her shoes around. She let them go and they both just stood and stared as the shoes looped over a branch easily with the first try.
Genevieve grinned wide and said, “Cute shoes, but they kill my feet! The tree can have them. It's my gift for its hospitality!”
Harold fell in love with her on the spot, and spent the next few months wooing her. He wrote every day she was away, and spent every day of her visits home with her. They married the following summer, he opened his own mechanic shop, she sold her artwork from the walls in the waiting room, and they ran the place together until Harold retired and left the business to their son Tommy.
“Oh no,” Harold's voice snapped her out of her reverie, and to her surprise, the tree that seemed to spawn more and more shoes over the years was not there any longer. It lay on its side, shoes sprawled everywhere, sawdust and snow mingled on the ground. “Someone cut it down,” he said sadly.
It was her turn to squeeze his hand, and they walked up to the tree together, hand in hand. “Who would do such a thing?” she asked quietly.
“Vandals,” he shook his head.
“We should have a memorial. One of those website things Jenna keeps showing us with videos and things. People could tell their stories of the tree, and keep it alive just a bit longer,” she smiled at him. “You'll see. It may not stand any longer, but it won't ever be forgotten,” She kissed him right there, where she'd kissed him for the first time. There, where he'd proposed to her. There, where she'd told him they were going to have a baby. “I know I could never forget.”
“Neither could I.” He cupped her chin in his hand and he smiled down at her, “You, my dear, are more beautiful just now than you were that day fifty-five years ago. Happy Anniversary.”
“Happy Anniversary,” she echoed back at him, holding his hands and gazing into his eyes.
The two didn't see the police arrive, horrified, or notice the accusing looks they both got. They were too preoccupied.   

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How to Plan your Novel... beginner tips!

You want to write something.  You've tried flying by the seat of your pants before, and it works in its own way, but you keep hearing people tell you to PLAN and PLOT ahead of time.  But it's hard to know where to start if you've never done it before!

Some of this you've probably done already.  Some of it you may have thought about doing but didn't do it or didn't know how to go about doing it...  so here is my really simplistic view on it all.  I figure we all need somewhere to start, and this can work from short stories to novels to epic trilogies.  Heck, you could plan out a whole trilogy, plot-wise, before writing it!  Wouldn't you be awesome with your interwoven plot themes and all that?  Yeah you would!!!

OK, so here we go!

First off, figure out who your main character is, and anyone else who is important to them.  If you don't know, off the bat, who the "bad guy"(antagonist) is, that's OK!  It will come to you.

Write it down.  Names.  How do they look?  How old?  Interests?  Dislikes?  Pet peeves?  How do they dress?  How do they act?  What kinds of people are they friends with?

Do this for every person you create.  If you come up with a new person in the middle of your book, when it's a natural stopping point, take a minute to write them one of these character sketches too.

Where does your story take place?  If it is a fictional world entirely, are there any rules you need to tell us about?  Magic,  (how does it work?) creatures (tell yourself about them!), space-time continuum stuff needs to be explained, at least to yourself.  YOU need to know the rules so the audience knows there ARE rules.  This is easier to do if you make them up ahead of time!  Really!

Once you're done with your character and world sketches, get started on your outline.  This doesn't have to be a big drawn out thing up front.  Start small.

Figure out the basics:  Beginning, middle, end.  Write down the big points.  Then expand on it.

What happens in the beginning, maybe 3 points you want to hit on. 
What happens in the middle, maybe 3 points you want to hit on.
What happens in the end, maybe 3 more points. 

Then go in and add transition points. What happens between beginning and middle to GET you to the middle? Middle to end?

It doesn't have to be super long or drawn out, but basics. Start slow for your outline and grow it from there.

You are allowed to change your mind, of course.  And you're allowed to bend the rules or the order, etc, but this will help you along if you get stuck while you're writing.  You get stuck?  You look at your outline.  What comes next?  Write toward it.  

Just try it! See how it works for you! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holy sickness, Batman!

WOW, that was a fun last 48 hours.  Woke up feeling awful and made it to the bathroom before getting to visit with my lovely dinner from the night before.  Yay.  I have no idea how long I was in there.  It felt like ages.  Made it to the kitchen once I was sure I was all done with the pukey fun, and grabbed a bowl to have by my bed, just in case.  Fell back asleep.  Woke again 2 hours later, feeling the same way.  Great.  So much for work.  Crap.  I'm one of two closers and it's one of the busiest days of the week.  Better call fast so they can shuffle things around and cover the shift...  Tried calling twice, no answer either time.  It was in the cards for me to not call, but sitting up was too much effort...  so I called again.

I always hate calling out of work.  It's not that I super duper love my day job, because all jobs have their moments (both good and bad), but it's a small department, and we depend on every single person being there on time every day and staying for their full shifts.  Sometimes coming in early or staying late to help out.  I'd actually offered, day before, to come in early if they needed me.  And here I was calling out sick.

That being said, I never ever ever call out of work unless I have no other choice.  I'm in bed sick and cannot move.  That's about it.  And I don't get sick like that very often.  Once or twice a year, give or take.  It's really not bad at all, when you add it all up.  But I always feel bad calling out, regardless.  Calling in, calling out...  I always felt "calling out" was a more appropriate term since you're calling to get OUT of work.  Anyway.

So I got to spend the day in bed, achy, awful, rolling over constantly, trying to get comfortable....  but of course, nothing is comfortable.  But in bed I stayed.  Watched Dr. Who as my husband (who called off work to babysit me and make sure kids were taken care of...  I was in no state to be the only parent in charge) pressed the "play" button for me on the computer.  Thank goodness for Netflix!  When we got bored with the Doctor, we switched to Eureka.  I slept most of the day away.  I think I was awake for 5 or 6 hours the whole day?  Texted with the boss lady later that night, still had a fever and could barely sit up still, so even if my fever was gone in the morning, there was no way I was going to make it in and be at all helpful.

Called out again this morning, officially, even though she'd known 12 hours in advance (tried to give time to find a replacement opener for my shift today)...  and fell back asleep.  Kids got ready for school, I managed enough energy to make their lunches and send them off with "in case I fall asleep when it's time for you to get out of school" instructions, and managed enough more energy to make myself a bowl of oatmeal and a little pot of tea.  No, coffee, not today.  I'll see you again tomorrow.  Maybe.  If you're lucky.

Anyway.  Being sick sucks.  I had such big plans for my morning off yesterday, finishing up my Scrivener stuff (which is ultra awesome!) and moving a project or three into the lovely program to adjust and fix up and all that...  But no.  No.  I was stuck in bed, barely enough energy or desire to play Trainyard on the iPad (2) or hop on facebook on my phone.  I did hop on long enough to say being sick sucks.  And later I said hopefully that I would someday leave my bed again.  LOL

Mostly a random post.  Bemoaning being ill and the lack of productivity it causes.  Boo, being sick.  'Tis the season!  I still am not sure if it was a flu that's going around at work or if it was food poisoning from the baked potato I got from a restaurant the night before...  but whatever it was, it can go right to hell.

That is all.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Formatting for Kindle 101: Keeping Your Paragraph Indents

This is pretty basic info, mostly for keeping your indents and making sure your text is formatted properly.  These directions should work for Microsoft Word programs, or if you are using Open Office to format your text.

Save as .doc.  I like to save as a totally new file name so if I mess things up to the point where I don't know how to start over, I have my original at least.

Highlight the entire thing (edit, select all is the easiest and fastest way to do this) and switch it to "text body" in the drop down menu at the top left of the program. WHILE IT IS STILL HIGHLIGHTED go into "paragraph" and change the indent to .5 or 1", whichever you want, and click "automatic." Also, while you're at it, make sure it's in the font you want and at the size you want.

You may need to go through and backspace twice (to merge with previous paragraph), then enter at the beginning of every. single. paragraph. This is tedious. And boring. And frustrating. But it is the best way to get the indents properly aligned. That I've figured out anyway.

Then go through and highlight each chapter heading and save as header 1. You can use this to create a chapter list in the front, which we will touch on later.  :)

If you do it in this order, it SHOULD retain all text body paragraph indent changes you did. (You can try it with just a couple paragraphs to test, before you spent the time on it all, only to have to do it again.)

Worst case, go through and do every chapter header, then do every chapter individually.

This is the worst stuff. It sucks. It doesn't always work, but do all of that and save as .doc. That's what's worked for me. You can look at the preview of one of my things and see how it worked: Nothing Lasts Forever

It is this reason I am VERY glad I started publishing on kindle with shorter works.  I learned this stuff with the shorter things.  Now that I know them, it makes life a little easier.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


So, I used my lovely winner's coupon (50% off!) and bought myself a copy of this program called Scrivener.  First of all, I did this late at night and I was not exactly thinking straight.  I got it all set up and installed and started the tutorial, which I like to do with a brand new program like this that can do SO MUCH.

I will admit to being a bit intimidated by the 1-2 HOURS they expect it to take you to do the tutorial.  There's a lot to learn, though, and I'd rather take the time and get it right.  It's much better than just trying to muddle through and being angry because this thing cost me money and "it's not working right!"

If you "won" at NaNo this year, this is where you can find your 50% off code!    And if you don't want to chuck out $20 before trying, it offers a 30 day trial before you buy.  And if you "won", your code will be good for almost a year.  Just don't forget about it!!  Anyway!

The idea is that you can write in scenes, sections, chapters, however you like, rearrange them easily, keep track of all your character notes and plot notes and make having separate documents for everything obsolete.  You SHOULD be able to keep your chapters, make notes on them, add keywords so you can track which character is in it or is the protagonist of the chapter, etc.  It's really versatile.  You should also be able to make your outlines with the program, and make it unnecessary to have spreadsheets to keep track of everything.

This sounds like such a great idea, and I'm running through the walk-through and am liking what I see.  But goodness, it's taking me forever to get through the walk through!  I have all these distractions, am tired, or have people around ALL THE TIME.  I can't think straight.

SO FAR, I see all kinds of great things with this program.  If you won NaNo and have $20 to spare, or want to just go download and look at the trial version...  You can try before you buy, but I'm not sure how much, because I paid right away.  But anyway, take a look at it, if you are writer in whatever form (it has stuff to keep track of screenplays and PART of the screenplay without you having to indent a lot or whatever)...

I'll have to come back and say more about this once I've actually finished the tutorial and given it a try.  I have great plans for trying it out.  I just hope I can get it all figured out and make it do what I want.  It's a lot to remember...


Because it's always more fun to say "postscript" than "PS"...
I found the video walk through that shows the basics of the Scrivener program.  The one on their site is a download and it wouldn't let me post it again here.  So here's the same thing, on youtube:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Flash Fiction Challenge: Shoe Tree

Welcome to the second weekly flash fiction challenge of December!  You have one week to submit yours if you want to be included in the runnings for "my favorite" of the week.  I'm going to offer a copy of either my short story, Nothing Lasts Forever, or a copy of my giant book of poetry, Bony Fingered Limbs, to the winner.  Just let me know which you'd prefer, should you be chosen!  :)  It will come to you via email as a PDF file, DRM-free, so you can send it to whatever e-book-reader-device you may prefer. 

Get me your submissions by Midnight next Friday morning, 12-16-11, Mountain Standard Time.  Link us your story in the comment area!  If you don't have a blog to post it on, you can use the notes on your facebook page.  Just be sure it is marked "public" so we can all see it!  And if you don't have a blog, you could start one up pretty fast and easy, here at blogger!  

This week's challenge will be using the picture above.  You can click on it to make it bigger if you want to see it better.

I call it Shoe Tree.  Tell me your story inspired by this picture in 1500 words or less.  You have one week!  Go!  Write!  The universe demands it!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Old Typewriter Challenge: Food Court Front

This was written for my challenge, Old Typewriter.  Enjoy!  

Food Court Front

Tori woke with a start, his alarm blaring, and he rubbed his eyes after hitting the alarm clock soundly to shut it up. Work again. Early again. Too early, but there was nothing for it. He got ready quickly and ran out the door, sun just beginning to rise in the sky.
He got to work, clocked on, and began setting up the food court as he did every morning when he opened. He filled the hot dog wells, put out the white cutting boards, and checked to be sure the people closed properly the night before. He found a mistake, and wrote a note about it quickly before grabbing his shopping list and heading out to the floor.
Tori gathered up all the supplies the list said the department needed for the day, and pushed the full pallet to the front of the store to pay for it on the company dime. As usual, he was done quickly and had time to set up the lobby before the cashier supervisor arrived. He moved the tables quickly, paid for the pallet of supplies, and started the prep-work.
Becca arrived on time, and the two chatted aimlessly as they got everything set up and ready to go for the day. Salads made, sauce mixed, pizza dough warmed up, pressed out, and made into pizzas with all three flavors on them, hot dogs warmed, buns and sauerkraut added to the steamer, thermometers calibrated, temps taken, and cash registers counted in... Before they knew it, everything was ready to go, the store's doors opened, and they had a slow trickle of people coming in.
The morning passed quickly, Tara, the department manager, arrived at 11am, and as the day picked up, production did too. Pizza flavors sold out suddenly, and they tried to beat the clock and not run out of anything. They knew if they did, John, the store manager, would wander up and ask for a slice of whatever was missing.
As it happened, he didn't have need to stop by that morning, and Tori was relieved. Whenever John came by and asked, “Can I get a slice of pep?” in a certain tone, Tori knew he had another message waiting for him in a gym locker. It was the code they used, but nobody else seemed to know, and for that, Tori was grateful. He hadn't wanted his other job, he hadn't wanted to move across the country and relocate with the man, but he'd had no choice. It was that or prison, and he wasn't about to go there.
John's real name was Giovonni “Johnny the Plumber” Rizzo. He'd had a run-in with his Family Boss back in New York, squealed, and been relocated through Witness Protection. He dyed his usually dark hair white, grown a thick mustache, which he also colored, and allowed himself a little weight gain to add to his disguise.
It was deeply unlikely anyone from his old family would follow him to California, and it was equally unlikely any of them would set foot inside a PriceCo store, where he found work. He'd taken his young nephew Tori, otherwise known as “Nate the Wrench,” with him. The boy had a knack for that life, and John couldn't bear to leave him behind to be snatched up in the raids that followed his talks with the FBI.
John had always been in a middle position of power, as his mob-ties went, and he didn't like too many people telling him what to do, so when the position opened up to move up in the company, and in the process he could move from California to Colorado, he jumped at the chance. And he'd taken Tori with him, setting him up in an apartment with a roommate.
The two of them acted like they didn't know one another, and Tori even found himself working other jobs for a while, to keep the distance there. But after a few months of living in the new city, Tori grew tired of his fast food job and left a message for John in their usual drop box. “I can't do this anymore. I need a better job, or I'm going to lose it.” He printed the simple message out on his computer, and followed it up by filling out an application online to get into the PriceCo family. John pulled strings, and Tori found himself in a new position within the week. It wasn't much of a change from the fast food place he'd been at, but the pay and benefits were better.
It was only three months after his new job started that a familiar face walked in the store. John lost it, disappeared for the day, and left a note for Tori to find in the locker at the gym the two used. And as usual, John had typed his note on an old typewriter, as he refused to join the modern age and get a computer already. He insisted it was harder to track what was written on the typewriters, but Tori was sure he just didn't know how to cover his tracks electronically.
The note said simply, “Venetucci was here. Get rid of him,” and Tori knew his time had come. John had been grooming him to be his personal hit man before everything went down between John's daughter, Maria, and the boss' nephew, Tony. Maria had come home with a black eye, and Tori wondered if the boss ever knew his progeny's temper and lack of self control was the reason the whole Family went down. Probably not.
It didn't take much time to find Venetucci, break into his house while he slept, and smother him with his own pillow. The man was old, there were no signs of a break in, and the stupid Colorado Springs police didn't even do an autopsy to determine it was a “natural causes” death. Apparently the man had sleep apnea and refused to wear his oxygen mask, so it was only a matter of time, according to his doctor.
That had been the first of many jobs John had given him, and he had been passed a note saying pizza was the code for new work. Whenever John wandered up to the counter and hollered into the back, asking if he could have a slice, Tori knew a new order was waiting for him. He stopped wondering what the people might have done to John, and just went with it, after a while. The pharmacist who asked too many questions, the Italian delivery truck driver in April, one of the managers who was always butting heads with John from a business standpoint...
Tori's mind wandered that afternoon while he scrubbed dishes clean. He wondered if John asked for slices of pizza when he wasn't there, just to throw the trail off, even though nobody seemed to notice anything. Tara joked about it, but there were days when they were perpetually out of pepperoni when her worry over it all shined through. Tori finished the dishes and smiled at the clock. His shift was almost over.
It was then that John suddenly walked up and asked if he could have a chicken bake, which were sold out for the first time that day. Eric, the mild-mannered kid's eyes went wide and he fell over himself in a panic, unable to answer the question. Becca, who just finished putting her apron back on after taking a break, peeked into the oven and answered, “They're almost out. One more minute!” John nodded, looked Tori in the eye, and smiled a knowing smile. Tori nodded, grinned back, and John walked away.
That night, when Tori found time to go to the locker in the gym, nothing was there. He stood there, almost confused until he heard footsteps approach him from behind. He saw the shadow on the wall creep in, wire wrapped around both hands, and Tori waited for him to come closer. Tori ducked suddenly, swept the legs out from under his assailant, whose eyes changed from dangerous to panicked and Tori threw back his head and laughed. He was hardly even surprised it was Eric who had come after him.
Eric's head hit the bench between the lockers, Tori jumped up quickly, and pressed the middle of his shoe against the boy's throat. He didn't wait for answers before ending him. He didn't need to ask who sent him. He knew. The boy kicked, only a little, and gurgled a bit before the fight left him and he lay still.
When he left the gym, he didn't go home. He had work to do. So John wanted him out of the way, did he? Tori wasn't one to be pushed around, and he couldn't wait to see the look of surprise on John's face when he realized what was happening: Tori would be the last person he ever saw.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Kids playing Monopoly are hilarious!

The kids are sitting at the table, I'm waiting for our soup to thicken and cool and melt some cheese, and I'm listening to their banter.  *snicker*

"This one is only 1.5 million, I have plenty.  I'm going to buy it."  Girl punches buttons.

Boy takes turn, "Mom, do I want to buy an airport?"

"Yes, buddy, you want to buy everything you can in that game."  He buys it.

"I'm going to buy this one too.  I'm going to put houses on them so you know they're mine."  She says, fishing in the box for houses.

"No," I say, stirring.  "You need to own everything of one color before you can buy any houses for them."

"Oh," she says, and puts it back.  Boy takes turn, quiet as ever.  Sister says, "This is 3 million.  Do you want to buy or mortgage it?"

"Um...  what's mortgage?"

"It's when the bank gives YOU money!"

"Wait, guys," I laugh.  "You have to buy the property first, then if you need money you can mortgage it.  But you don't want to do that unless you have to.  If you don't pay it back, the bank can take it away."  Neither of them replies, I walk out of the room, stirring done for the moment.

"So, do you want to buy or mortgage it?" She asks.

"Mortgage!  I want MONEY MONEY MONEY!   hahahhahhaha!"  Boy does Dr. Porkchop impression.

These two...  they slay me!

Friday, December 2, 2011

I write like...

Because I'm bored and having fun this morning, and now I'm waiting for my coffee to brew so I have permission to get to work...  (editing, not work-work.  That's later tonight, silly!)

I write like
Chuck Palahniuk
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

I think this is the third time I've seen this, and I'm wondering how accurate it is.  And if it's good or bad.  I admit I don't read a lot and I'm still unsure about who he is!  :P  Shhhhh, don't tell!

OOOOH!  I just looked him up.  Writer of Fight Club!  That book is sitting right here.  I knew the name was familiar-ish but didn't know from where.  I am now officially happy with my designation.  :)  Off I go then!

Flash Fiction Challenge: Old Typewriter

Welcome to the first weekly flash fiction challenge of December!  You have one week to submit yours if you want to be included in the runnings for "my favorite" of the week.  I'm going to offer a copy of either my short story, Nothing Lasts Forever, or a copy of my giant book of poetry, Bony Fingered Limbs, to the winner.  Just let me know which you'd prefer, should you be chosen!  :)  It will come to you via email as a PDF file, DRM-free, so you can send it to whatever e-book-reader-device you may prefer.

 Get me your submissions by Midnight next Friday morning, 12-9-11, Mountain Standard Time..  Link us your story in the comment area!

Anyway!  Let's get down to it!  Your challenge this week is to give me a short story, 1500 words or less, using the photo below as inspiration.  I call it Old Typewriter.  Decided to go with a writing theme, for a farewell to NaNoWriMo.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Standing there, looking back at what you've done...

You get this empty feeling because it's all over now.  You did so well!  Or maybe you don't feel like you did well, but you certainly did better than you thought you would...  NaNoWriMo is over now, and now what?  I keep seeing the question asked all over the place.

I won't pretend to be quite as awesome as Chuck Wendig in his post-NaNo blog posting..  but I cannot stress this enough:

You are allowed to write today.  You are allowed to write whenever you want.  You do not need the permission of November to accomplish something big.  Something real.

If you aren't done yet, press on!  Push yourself!  Still see if you can aim for that 1667 word goal every day.  Or maybe for you, it's 500.  Maybe for you, it's 1000.  Maybe it's 3000 or 5000.  However, I'll be the first to say 5000 every day may not be a reasonable goal to expect yourself to hold up forever.  I'd say set the bar to a reasonable but difficult level.  1000 is not so hard when you get in the habit of it.

My personal goal is 1000-3000 when I'm actively writing something.  I go in spurts of writing and editing, since I have kids and a job I have to work with/around.  If you can write full time, you should absolutely be writing and editing some, every day.

Not the same project, sorry if that was confusing.  Write one project in the morning, take a break, and edit another project in the afternoon.  Some people can't do this, can't work on multiple things at the same time, and if that's you, that's OK.  Do what you can, but do SOMETHING every day.

If you want to keep going with word sprints, you can roll with them by yourself by setting a timer or watching the clock just like you did in NaNo.  You can also see if you can find a community of people who are interested in doing the same thing.  I'm currently in all of these, because, let's face it, some of them are bound to fizzle out.  I can hang out and stick with them all, and whichever of them wins out, I'll be there.  So I share my links with you!  Use them wisely.
If my links don't work or something, you can always bug me for them again, here, or my FB page: bekajoi (this is the name I use most places if you're continuing this weird stalking thing of yours!  LOL)

Also, if you know of good places, please let us know!  I'll add them to my link list.  :)

Don't stand there staring behind you at what could have been.  Make it happen.  It's in your hands.  Do with it what you will.  You know you can.  I know you can.  So do it already!  :)