Friday, September 23, 2016

Storming Love Volcano: Raiden & Shane

Out Now from MLR Press

Part of the Storming Love Collection from MLR Press.


Photojournalist, Raiden Collins is taking a forced vacation in Naples, Italy, using the time to rediscover his creativity and explore the ancient volcano and surrounding area. Nothing in the long list of experiences of his past prepares Raiden for a chance encounter on the summit of Mount Vesuvius with his ex-boyfriend, Army medic Staff Sergeant Shane Jefferson. Sparks fly and Raiden must decide if love is enough the second time around in the face of an erupting volcano.


Chapter 1
"Damn it Ed, I said no!" Raiden Collins shouted into the phone, unzipping his camera bag.

"I need you in London. Tonight," Edward Wootten said calmly.

Raiden could hear the clicking of the keyboard and knew his boss was sitting his in air-conditioned, Times Square office.

"No," Raiden ground out. "According to Facebook, both Shelly and Ken are in London right now. Together, apparently, by the looks of things. They were going to see Buckingham Palace, if they left the hotel room, because every detail must be posted on Facebook for the entire universe to know." Raiden carefully removed and inspected the camera body, exchanging the 35mm lens with his favorite zoom lens. It was his favorite digital camera, one that he took everywhere with him. His other favorite was an older film camera that was safely packed away.

"Your page is suspiciously quiet," the older man shot back.

"No, it's not. I don't generally post more than twice a month," Raiden replied, pulling his cleaning kit out of the camera backpack. His posting habits had been joked about more than once over the years.

"Afraid someone will break in and steal something while you're gone?"

Raiden laughed, brushing at the camera body. "Not likely. In case you've forgotten, I live out of a carry-on. I have taken nearly every assignment offered for the last three years. I have a bedroom that doubles as my office at my sister's house."

"Why Italy? And why Naples of all places?"

Raiden shrugged, replaced the camera, and picked up a lens. "Cheaper than flying back to the States." It was, but that wasn't the reason. His boss didn't need to know that. He had plenty of money to fly around the world or back to the US if he wanted. His sister never charged him rent.

"I can get you on a flight to London then back to the States afterward. It should only be a month or so."

"No," Raiden replied flatly. "Your month or so, has a bad habit of becoming three to six months."

"Never seems to bother you before."

"It's not about the time." Raiden set the lens down in its compartment and tossed the brush back into his bag. He would be the first to admit that he had no idea why he'd booked a flight to Naples after his boss had told him that he was taking a vacation whether he wanted to or not. It was a polite way of saying "take a leave of absence before I fire you."

Naples might have been on his bucket list of places to see along with the ruins at Pompeii and Herculaneum, but it wasn't high on the list. The cost difference between flying into Naples or flying into Edinburgh, which was at the top of his list, was negligible. Naples was entirely a spur of the moment decision.

"You're the best I have, Raiden," the older man said, interrupting Raiden's train of thought.

"Sorry, I'm on vacation. One you told me I had to take or risk my career. Or at least my job with you," Raiden said reminding his boss of the argument they'd had nearly a week ago. He shoved a hand thru his hair and contemplated cleaning another lens.

"Take the Syria angle then. There should be enough danger there for you."

Raiden jumped to his feet and began to pace his hotel room. This one was nicer than a lot of the places he'd stayed over the years.

"Ed," Raiden ground out, drawing out the other man's name. "I have worked nearly everyday for the last three years. You said I was burning out, that I am losing my edge, and that my work was beginning to look like everyone else's. Three weeks. Not the month that Chase asked for in order to get married or that Hannah asked for in order to hike the Grand Canyon. Definitely not the month and a half, six full weeks, that you gave Levi when his husband left him for someone else," Raiden replied, placing the lens back in his bag. "Hell, you even got Larsen and Ferguson to agree to give me the time off too."

"Raiden, I--"

"Find someone else. It's not my problem." Raiden ended the call and threw his phone down onto the bed. He crossed the room and stepped out onto the small balcony. Sunlight bounced off the Bay of Naples. The Mediterranean Sea was dotted with fishermen and pleasure craft. It looked like something he'd see on a postcard in a souvenir shop. Taking a deep breath, he let it out slowly. He would check out the bay another time. Raiden looked over at the camera bag lying on the center of the bed. He hadn't touched it in weeks. He hadn't felt the desire to open the bag. Looking back, he knew he'd missed some great shots, but at the time, he hadn't cared. Even now, there was no twinge of regret for missing a shot. Raiden blew out another breath and shoved a hand through his hair. He was looking forward to his hike up Mount Vesuvius today. He might not have cared that he missed earlier shots, but he knew he'd kick himself later if he didn't at least bring his camera with him. Hiking Vesuvius was not something he was likely to do again.

Maybe his boss was right. His sister had said nearly the same thing months earlier. Being willing to do whatever it took to get the shot wasn't the same thing as taking a good shot. Or one that wasn't like everyone else's. He had brushed off Annika's comment when she'd said it. He'd made excuses to explain away her thoughts. She wasn't a professional photographer after all. Raiden rolled his shoulders. But he subjected her to enough of his work over the years that she probably knew more than he gave her credit for. Snagging his phone off from the bed and walking back to the balcony, he sent a quick text to his sister. Sisters are annoying. Twin sisters -- doubly so. Especially when they were right. Raiden tossed the phone on the bed and turned back to the bay. He'd been to Italy before. There weren't many places he hadn't been over the years. Usually, they were in the middle of turmoil though, not predominantly peaceful without the looming threat of violence hanging overhead. Or tensions so high it reminded him of the cartoon fog in the Scooby-Doo cartoons he'd watched as a kid, the kind that was literally cut with a knife.

The alarm on his phone dinged, and Raiden crossed back over to the bed. Quickly, Raiden inspected his gear, making sure everything was in its place before zipping the bag closed, shoving a bottle of water into the side pocket. He hadn't felt the urge to unpack his camera after he'd left Spain. It had been left in his room while he'd explored Naples for the last couple of days. While he still wasn't sure he wanted to use it today, climbing Mount Vesuvius was a once in a lifetime event for anyone who didn't live near the volcano. He'd hired a guide to take him to the summit of the volcano away from the tourists. Annika had badgered him to arrange for a night hike and photo shoot the next night when the moon was the fullest. Shoving a hand through his hair, he blew out a breath. One of these days, he was going to stop letting his twin tell him what to do, even if her ideas were usually pretty good. Shrugging into the camera backpack, he slid his wallet, phone, and room key into the pocket of his cargo pants.

After leaving the hotel, Raiden walked through the city enjoying the juxtaposition of ancient and modern elements. There were faster ways to get to the volcano, but he hadn't wanted to go through the trouble of renting a car or dealing with Italian traffic. It was a vacation after all, even if it was one that was imposed on him. He caught the bus heading to Mount Vesuvius, squeezing between locals and tourists.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Random Research

Random Research -- 

 This always seems to pop up on the list of recurring topics I want to add to my blog.  This is simply going to be a spot to share whatever research topic has caught my interest.  My list of things to research keeps growing. Exponentially.  Pretty much every book or article I read sparks an idea that I want to research further.  My intention is to post the links and/or book/article titles with each post.  I've been a writer forever.  I know I was writing stories before 4th Grade, but that is the year my teacher really encouraged me to write more and let me miss class a couple of times to read what I wrote to younger grades.  Everything I'm interested finds it's way into my writing somehow.  Things I need to know for work or genealogy also make it into my writing. 

Things I'm researching now are:

Several Different Mythologies

My I Need to research this is incredibly long...needless to say, so is my To Be Read Pile. :) 


Monday, September 19, 2016

From the Writing Desk

belter furniture image | ... Belter grandfather clocks custom furniture unique furniture:
It’s interesting how some events have me leaving the writing world behind while others have me turning toward it and the hope that can be found there.  The types of events – of stressors may have a large part to do with it.  Stress from a lack of money or environmental/financial stability is more likely to have me leaving my computer and my writing, than one that reminds me that life is short. That this is the Final Run Through, not a dress rehearsal.  There are no do-overs.  The same opportunities may present themselves more than one, but you are never the same person the second or third time that you were the first time.

I have a writing plan, one that I developed using the techniques I learned from a Strategic Planning for Non-Profits class I took some years ago. It made sense to me.  Writing has two parts, a business side and the artistic side. The business side seems to be taking a bit longer to understand than the artistic side, which is completely natural for me. Strategic Planning for Non-Profits fit neatly with-in how I view the business side of writing. The first part of that though, the very first, very basic step is too write.

There are a couple of different schools of thought on that – one is to write every day, another says when the inspiration strikes, and a third basically states life is nuts, schedule it, but don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day.

Pinterest is the black hole of time, and I freely admit to spending way too much time there. But, I’m also a visual person, so I keep boards of stories and worlds I’m working on or ideas that come to me in the form of pictures instead of words.  Because, I suck as an artist and it’s easier to start a board than copy it down or print the pictures out, cut them out, and tape them into my writers journal – which I do. Probably more than I should.

I used to have a goal to write 2000 words a day. That’s fantastic, but not realistic for me at the moment. I have a teenager. They’re involved in band, and they are also dealing with some heavy crap right now. 500 words 3 to 5 times a week. If writing is also my self-care – fantastic, I get to do it. If it’s not, then it doesn’t get done. My goal is to write full-time and not have to work outside my home again.  Not because I don’t like my day job, I do. And I believe in my organization’s mission 110%. But, I would rather be writing. I want to not have leave my house in a snow storm. I want to be my own boss.

I can totally see the following conversation happening with any one of my editors:

Me – I’m taking a snow day, there’s a blizzard out.

Editor – You work from home. You never have to get dressed.  You can write.

Me – Yeah, but it’s snowing outside, and I want to take a snow day. I have the vacation time…

Editor – You don’t get vacation time. You have a deadline to meet.

Me – But there’s a blizzard…

Editor – Deadline…

I have the best editors and have a great relationship with them, so this wouldn’t be a bad thing.  But, knowing my goals, figuring out the steps, and working toward them is the only way to make a dream into a reality.

So, my current Writing Goals, which I’m tracking in my version of the Bullet Journal, which is something I have recently discovered and am in the process of figuring it out and what works for me, are:

Writing Goals - Tracked by Hours

Close-Up -- the numbers are how many hours I wrote that day.  The color of the box represents what I was working on.  I keep track of my word count and WIP in my journal as I write in 15 minute increments and like to know how I'm doing.  I didn't write anything in August.

My 2016 Writing To-Do List is on the opposite page, I pick a colored pencil to use for tracking at random, then keep it in my pencil/pen case.

Reading, exercise, and self care are also in there, but that is something different. For me, a word count works the best. I have started writing more and more in Scrivener, so the page count doesn't work as well, because there are no page numbers unless you take like 4 extra steps, and I have no desire to do that.

I have to figure out the best way to stay accountable here or over on Facebook....

Friday, September 16, 2016

Release Day!! Hope for Pulse Anthology

The HOPE FOR PULSE Anthology is out today from MLR Press!!!

ALL  of the proceeds go to benefit Equality Florida to benefit the victims of the Pulse Massacre.

My Contribution is called "Choices"

Holden Montgomery faces an unenviable choice, between everything he's ever wanted or everything he needs.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hope for Pulse Anthology

On June 12, 2016, 49 people were massacred at the Pulse Club, a gay club in Orlando, Florida.  On September 16, MLR Press releases the Hope for Pulse Anthology. All of the proceeds benefit Equality Florida for the Victims of that tragic event.