Monday, October 16, 2017

From the Writer's Desk - Mid-October Check-In

A walnut Davenport desk with burl veneer. 19th century.

Hard to believe that it's mid-October already. Two weeks until Halloween and NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month - you can learn more about that here). This week is also GRL - GayRomLit, and while I wish I could be there, I know I'll get back there eventually and I have met some of the most amazing people there.

I plan on participating in NaNoWriMo, I hope to go to some of the write-ins, but I don't always make those, because there are days when it's hard to be around people or in confined/tight places. But, I enjoy writing with others. I miss the writers retreats I went on before I got super busy in the fall - R was in marching band in high school.

This past week, my goals were to spend 7 hours writing or on writing related tasks.

I spent 8 hours on writing related things - some writing, organizing, work on my website, and research. I spent 3 hours and 45 minutes writing. I spent another 10 hours on research and organization not related to writing. So, goal met, although, not nearly as much writing as I'd like to get done.

The second goal, was to tackle one declutter task a day. Sort of. I missed one day, but then I started a larger task and still haven't finished it. So, maybe not.

I finished "The Write Type" by Karen Peterson. It was pretty good. I learned some new things. Others were confirmed, and some of it didn't apply to me.

Goals this week are a lot like last week:

Spend 7 hours writing or on writing related tasks. - Aim for more writing than writing related tasks.

Tackle one declutter/purge task every day.

Blessings,
Simone. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Midsummer's Dreaming

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/midsummers-dreaming-simone-anderson/1107908052

Midsummer's Dreaming



Hayle St. James’ refusal to continue living a lie when he is confronted by his family about being gay finds him on the back of a motorcycle riding through a forest in the middle of the night. What he finds will either make everything worthwhile or break his heart.

Leife O’Neill has finally found the perfect man. A man who loves him for him. Hayle is everything he could want in a partner. Too many things stand in their way. On the night that Leife wants to declare Hayle is his, reality and responsibility collide with anger and jealousy and more than one heart is on the line.

Stopping in the middle of the forest to make love under a full moon seemed romantic, however, Hayle and Leife quickly learn that they are not alone and not everything is as it seems. One man watches and waits for the opportunity to confront the man he loves, while another is forced to face the consequences of his actions and fear. In the span of one night everything changes, no one is certain of anything anymore and everyone’s lives are changed.


Excerpt:



“Is it true?”

Hayle St. James blinked and looked across the dinner table at his father. Anger and hatred washed across his father’s normally stoic face. Hayle’s stomach bottomed out, dread weighing him down. Dread rushed through his veins as he processed his father’s question and hoped he was wrong. “Is what true?” Hayle asked, swallowing around the lump in his throat.

“Don’t play dumb with me boy!” Elliot St. James shouted, pounding his fist on the table. “You know what I’m talking about. You’re the same as the Royce’s oldest boy. An abomination!”

Fear settled in Hayle’s chest and made breathing difficult. “I’m not an abomination,” he replied, trying to keep the apprehension and pain from his voice.

“Are you one of those sex-craving deviants? An affront to God?” Elliot demanded. “Get down on your knees and swear you are not a homosexual—that the rumors I’ve heard are false.”

“Being gay isn’t wrong or evil,” Hayle answered, hedging his answer. He didn’t want to admit to his father what he’d known since practically the beginning of puberty, but hadn’t accepted himself until a couple of years ago. His father’s reaction was most of the reason
he’d never came out to his family. Why he’d never planned on coming out to his family. Why only a handful of people knew the truth about his sexuality.

“It is a sin against God and nature,” Elliot said. “Confess it and repent, or deny it, and we will forget about it.”

Hayle stared at his father then turned his attention to his mother and his younger brother and sister. How easy would it be to deny the truth? To remain hidden, to keep the love and affection he had from his family. What would it cost him? Hayle squeezed his eyes shut. His lover’s words came back to him. Never be ashamed of who you are, of who you love. Being gay isn’t evil or wrong. If anything it’s different, but not wrong. Leife O’Neill had captured his heart and had won his trust. Taking a deep breath, praying he was making the right choice, Hayle shook his head. “No.”

“No, you aren’t gay. Good then you can stay away from¾

“No, I’m not evil. I won’t confess to something that isn’t wrong.”

“You’re making no sense boy,” Elliot ground out, hatred and disgust evident.

Hayle took a deep breath and prayed for strength. “I’m gay, not evil.”

His mother gasped, his siblings broke down crying and his father’s face turned red with rage. “You¾how¾what¾” he sputtered.

“I’m gay. I’ve always been gay,” Hayle said quietly. “I’m not evil or sex-craving. I simply prefer men over women.”

“He can be fixed, can’t he?” Hayle’s ten-year-old sister Anya asked. “Can’t he, dad? You can fix him.”

“I’m not broken, Anya, I’m different,” Hayle replied.

“Don’t you speak to her! You’ll corrupt her. Turn her from the church and the family,” his father said before turning to his siblings.  “Anya, Kyle, go to your rooms. Now!” he ordered.

“God will fix you,” Kyle said with all of the belief and confidence of a twelve-year-old as the pair left the kitchen.

“You will renounce it this instance!” Elliot demanded.

“Renounce it?” Hayle asked incredulously. “This isn’t citizenship or religion. It’s biology. My beliefs haven’t changed. Nothing about me has changed. I’m still the same person I have always been.”

“You will renounce this abomination or you will get out of my house! I will not have a sin against God in my house!”

“I am not a sin. I’m a person. I’m not evil or an abomination,” Hayle exclaimed, standing. Why couldn’t his family accept him? It wasn’t like he was serial killer or child molester or did drugs or alcohol.

“Get out of my house!” Elliot St. James yelled, leaping up from his seat, the chair clattering to the floor behind him. “If you don’t straighten out and ask for forgiveness you’re no son of mine.”

“I haven’t done anything wrong,” Hayle protested.

Pain shattered his face, taking his vision out of focus. The force of the blow sent him stumbling back into the corner of the kitchen counter. Wood pierced his skin through his t-shirt. His dad stepped closer, trapping him. Blood trickled down his back as the countertop dug farther into his flesh.

“Elliot, stop!” his mother Laura screamed.

Hayle’s hand automatically covered his eye and cheekbone where his father had hit him. Hayle squeezed his eyes shut and slowly opened them. His world was crumbling around him. Hatred showed in his father’s eyes before he retreated to the living room.

“Give him a couple of hours to cool down. Pray about it, pray for God to rid you of this,” his mother said. “How could you do this to him? To me?” She looked from him to the direction his father had gone.

“To you? Do you honestly think this is a choice?” Hayle asked. “Do you think I wanted this? That I haven’t prayed to be straight? But I’m not. Nothing is going to change that. And I haven’t done anything to you. I didn’t renounce you, dad, the church, or anything else.”

“You have to leave. I can’t have him angry and hurt. And this,” she waved a hand over him “needs to remain clear of Anya and Kyle. Go see the pastor. He will know what to do,” Laura said, looking back to the living room.

“I’m not broken mom,” Hayle said quietly.

“You need to leave. This is his house.”
 
 

Monday, October 9, 2017

From the Writer's Desk - October Already!

I'm trying to wrap my head around the fact that not only is October already - an
d the 2nd week at that - but my kid, R, turns 19 today. S/he was born two days late during Typhoon Zeb and has become an amazing young adult. Compassionate, kind, spirited, resilient, strong, considerate, courageous, and beautiful.

S/he also shares, which means s/he gave me  her/his two-day cold.  That combined with some sort of office ick, tried very very hard to turn into bronchitis. I'm over the coughing for the most part - love antibiotics - but my lungs haven't completely recovered. So, I'll head back to the doctor this week to see what's going on.

My friends Brynn and Dakota ran the Pumpkin run this year, and while talking to Brynn later I committed to walking the Color Run next summer. The surgeon who replaced my torn ACL, said no running. But walking is good. So is the elliptical. And maybe as I lose weight, I can start running. If not, that's okay. I'll walk. So, I'm walking the Color Run in the summer, and next fall, R and I plan on walking the VA's Suicide Awareness 5K.

In addition to my weekly goals, which don't really seem to vary a whole lot right now, I decided to set some monthly goals. I really really want to finish Behind the Masque this month - I've been wanting to finish it for most of the year.  In an ideal world, I could get it done in a week if I write 8 hours a day, or 2 weeks if I write  4 hours a day - which is probably more realistic of the two options. However, I do have a day job, so, hopefully by the end of the month.





As long as I make some progress on Marked, I'll be happy. I write that long hand at lunch and on my breaks at work. The notebook stays in my bag and goes everywhere with me, so I can either write or read depending on where I am and what I'm doing/waiting for.

Last year, a friend of mine did what she called a "New Year Purge" as Samhain marks the beginning of the Pagan New Year. This year my goal is to tackle every room in my house and declutter and purge everything that I don't need or doesn't have a valid reason for remaining. It does a couple of different things for me - cuts ties with my past, frees me from stuff, and will make moving easier when that happens. Which, could be sooner rather than later as the park has started to tear down the trailers on my street.  Rumor has it's either to bring new trailers in or because the airport wants the property - but there is a freight rail line between us and the  airport without any sort of natural hill or valley, so probably not. Either way, eventually I want to move. Into a real house.

I'm reading The Write Type by Karen Peterson and Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. The first is the second writing craft book Ms. Peterson has written, and I have found it insightful. The second is dark fantasy, and very interesting.  I'm hoping to finish both of these this month.

So, my weekly goals this week are to spend  7 hours writing or on writing related tasks and tackle one decluttering task everyday.

Accountability --

The week of September 18th -- I wrote 5 1/2 hours and spent 4 hours on research and 1 on character development.

The week of September 25th -- I wrote 1 1/2 hours and spent 7 hours researching.

The week of October 3rd -- I wrote for 1 hour. -- I got sick on the 29th.

I have today - Federal Holiday. My city renamed it Indigenous American day - I'm good with that.

Blessings,
Simone.






Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Some Passing Thoughts on Life

Some days if I stare at a blank page and a flashing courser long enough, words come and the make sense. Today is not one of those days. So, I leave you with the words of other people.












I bookend my days in gratitude, things I keep to myself.  I am grateful for all of the wonderful people I've met over the years. Many who have shown that no matter how hard things get, it will get better.

Blessings, 
Simone.

Monday, September 18, 2017

From the Writer's Desk - Mid-September Check In

I can't believe how fast this year has gone by.  It's hard to believe that next week it will be officially fall, never mind that Pumpkin Spice, Carmel Apple, and Apple Cider everything are out and about.  Along with Halloween decorations. This is my favorite season.  I finished Write by Karen Peterson and am reading The Write Type by her.  I've adapted some of her exercises to my own use.  I may go back and follow the exercises exactly, but I'm not sure at this point.

I had hesitated to add dailies to my bullet journal, because I have a day job Monday through Friday with a schedule that doesn't change.  But, recently I started adding them along with my weeklies, so that I can keep track of my writing time better and any other tasks I want to get done.  I don't add a time line, because at the moment I don't see the need.

My weekly goal is to spend 7 hours on writing or writing related tasks.

The first week of September - 4th - 10th -- I wrote sentences for 2 hours, people watched for 1.5 hours, and worked on my website for 8 hours.

The 2nd week of September -- 11th -- 17th -- I wrote for 4 hours, researched a variety of things for 7 hours, and worked on my website for 8 hours.

So, for both weeks, I met my goal! Which makes me really happy.

I'm going to continue with my daily tracking, because I have to check in with myself daily on whether I made a goal or not. If not, what did I do and why.  There were a couple of days when nothing got done because I was either taking care of family or self-care was more important.


Every morning after I complete my Miracle Morning Routine, I set a goal for the day. Most of the time it is to write 1 hour on Behind the Masque, because I want it finished and I keep missing my self imposed deadlines.  I also write down my mood at that moment.  And a reward. Right now, I'm on a stitching kick, so that is my reward if I make my goal. Although, honestly, I may stitch even if I don't make my goal.  Then at night I write down what I actually did, my mood, and where I was. The section under that is what I read for the day.   You can see on this day, I did write, but not on what I wanted to, so I didn't make my goal, but it does count on my tracker.


My goal this week is to write 7 hours on either Marked or Behind the Masque.  I also want to read for 30 minutes a day and to go through one box stacked in my office.  My big goal is to have my house completely de-cluttered by Halloween.

What are your goals for the week? What do you want to accomplish this week? This Season?

Blessings,
Simone.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Happy Labor Day!!

Today is Labor Day, at least it is in the US. There is historical meaning behind the holiday. However, for most Americans it is a reason to hang out with friends and family and cook-out. In Michigan it also means that public schools and some Colleges and Universities start classes tomorrow. I'm blessed to be able to spend part of this weekend with R, R's boyfriend, and my family. We nearly lost my brother Friday to a burst appendix. He wanted to sleep, his fiancee took him to the hospital. They are getting married next weekend.

A friend of mine posted a list of places besides Houston that were hit the hardest when Hurricane Harvey hit.  Here is a link to a New York Times article on those places. Consider donating time, money, or supplies to those areas that are also affected by Hurricane Harvey. My post last Wednesday had several links to those willing to help those affected.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Helping the Victims of Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey has battered parts of coastal Texas and has set his sights on Louisiana.  While it is heart rending to see the damage and aftermath Harvey is leaving in his wake, it is heart warming to see people helping people. Something this world needs more of.

People are bringing in food, clothing, and other necessities. Some are bringing in food and kennels for animals. The Cajun Navy out of Louisiana brought in their boats and are helping to evacuate people.

Once the rain clears, the clean up and the healing can begin.

Money, food, and clothing are all being collected to help.  Several organizations are setting up blood drives.

You can find a Red Cross Blood Drive location here, just type in your zip code.

NPR published this story on helping the victims of Hurricane Harvey - Here - it contains links to several organizations that can help.

The New York Times has published this story. This article also contains links to charities that will help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

More on the Cajun Navy is here and here and a donation link is here.

I've also heard of the Texas Navy, organized a lot like the Cajun Navy, but I haven't been able to find any more information on them.  

The stars of Supernatural - Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, and Misha Collins have started a crowdraise to support help the victims of Hurricane Harvey. That can be found here.

There are issues that we as a country must still deal with, but if we can come together now, we can over come those issues too.

Blessings,
Simone.




Monday, August 28, 2017

From the Writer's Desk - Wrapping Up August

In about an hour I'm taking R to get her/his books for school. S/he starts college on the 5th. Where has the time gone? Not just summer, but the last 18, almost 19 years. Today also marks 12 years since my dad passed away.  One week ago R's father passed away. Time has a way of dulling the sharp edges of sorrow.

Last week, my goal was to write for 7 hours. Working on any type of writing or pre-writing task for a total of 7 hours during the week.
Great goal. I know I managed to write - actual in the seat, putting new sentences to story - writing for 2 hours.  The rest of it - I don't know, because I didn't track it. I didn't sit down at the end of the day and write down what I actually accomplished that day. So, poor planning on my part, means I have no way of knowing definitely if I made my goal or not. So, today I need to start tracking what I work on.

I also was going to read 30 minutes a day. This is in addition to the 10 minutes I read first thing in the morning as part of my Miracle Morning routine. I stitched this week more than I read. Again, that lack of tracking accurately is coming back to bite me. I didn't read every day. I need to.

So, my goals for this week are the same as last week.
Write 7 hours - equals 1 hour a day.
Read 30 minutes a day.
TRACK WHAT I WORK ON!!

I have a Bullet Journal, it's easy enough to create a log - maybe incorporate it into a weekly or daily spread - where I can track/log what I work on, what tasks, and what I read. I'll share what I come up with.

Blessings,
Simone.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Line of Fire

From Resplendence Publishing



Christian Williams has lived with his secret his whole life and he’s not ready to give it up, he’s especially not ready to face the consequences.
          
Consequences be damned, Hayden Medema is tired of living a lie. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is dead and gays are serving openly in the rest of the military, the Navy SEALs should be no different.

After coming face to face at a gay bar in a different city and a whirlwind weekend of sex, Christian and Hayden along with fourteen other SEALs are sent on what appears to be another routine mission, until someone learns their secret and everything goes horribly wrong. 

Excerpt:


Christian Williams pulled into the parking lot of Diversions, turned off his car and stretched. The hour drive from base to one of the city’s five gay bars had helped him relax. They were gearing up for several months of intense training and the scene here was just what he needed. He knew the gay bar close to the base was a hit with both the civilians and military guys. Still hadn’t told anyone other than his dive buddy, Jason Morganstern, that he’d preferred men to women for as long as he could remember, so going there wasn’t a possibility. SEALs weren’t gay, just ask anyone. He also had no desire to be a daddy, which he was certain many of the younger guys wanted. He’d been surprised to learn Jason was also gay. Jason was picky, he wanted a boy in the bedroom and a partner outside of it. Christian had no such desires. He wanted a partner who gave as good as he took and, more importantly, could deal with life in the Navy.

Withdrawing his driver’s license and sixty dollars, he tossed his wallet in the glove compartment. Keys in hand and several condoms and a small bottle of lube in the pocket of his jeans, Christian locked the door of his Jeep Grand Cherokee and made his way across the mostly full parking lot. After showing his ID to the bouncer and paying the cover charge, he strode through two sets of double doors and was immediately hit by the loud music. Surveying his surroundings, he automatically noted the exits, potential partners, problem areas and the people and places to avoid.
           
The dance floor and the bar were crowded. Men in snug tee shirts and even tighter jeans filled the room. This was one of his favorite places to play and hunt. There was little doubt in his mind that he’d find a partner or two tonight with the same needs. Tonight he wasn’t looking for a life partner, tonight was about no strings attached sex. A quick fuck. Hard. Fast. Sweaty. All male. The US military may finally be okay with gays serving openly, but several of his teammates were less than accepting. A couple of them had gone as far as making threats during several rounds of pool and more than a few beers at Hell’s Dune, the SEALs favorite bar. It was run by a grizzled former SEAL known only as Brick. Decent food and decent beer were great unless you were looking for bed companions. Those, he wouldn’t find at Hell’s Dune.

Taking a deep breath, he inhaled the scent of men and relaxed. He knew the bartenders and a couple of the bouncers by name, but no one knew he was the military, let alone that he was a SEAL, so he could be himself. Almost. Christian made his way to the bar and ordered a beer before he turned and watched the crowd. Most of the patrons tonight appeared to be college age, but he’d already seen one or two potential partners.

“Hey baby,” a tall, lithe twenty-something with big blue eyes and dark hair said, squeezing in next to him at the bar. “Has anyone told you that you give new meaning to the phrase tall, gorgeous and yummy?”

Christian rolled his eyes, praying the man hadn’t been talking to him.

“Let there be a God and tell me you’re not here with anyone,” the younger man purred, trailing his fingers over Christian’s arm.

His cock stirred at the promise the man wanted to deliver. It’d been too long since he’d fucked someone and even longer since he’d been in any sort of relationship where tender touches and caresses were normal. Looking down at the man, Christian shook his head.

“Sorry kid, I’m not interested.” He gave the guy points for approaching him, but the younger man wasn’t his type, and Christian wasn’t willing to act like he was. The man was cute, but Christian could probably snap him in half if he wanted. He needed to let loose, not worrying about whether his partner could handle it.

“Aw, don’t be like that. I’ll show you a real good time.” The man’s hand slid over his stomach and started working his shirt out.

“Back off,” Christian snarled, pushing past the other man and ignoring the whimper of protest. Stomping across the building, he looked for another vantage point.

Christian sighed. As though he’d needed any more proof on how long it had been since he’d been here. At one point in time, despite the low profile he preferred to keep, the young twenty-somethings, at least the regulars, kept their distance.

A firm ass clad in tight denim caught his attention. The other man danced at the edge of the dance-floor with a group of men. Taking a long drink from his beer, Christian set it on the table, knowing and not caring that it would be gone and the table taken over by others before he reached his quarry. He was two feet from his destination when the dancer turned and faced him. Christian stopped and stared.

“Medema! What the hell are you doing here?” Christian asked as the music was interrupted by the DJ announcing a slow song.

“Same thing you are, looking for a good time tonight,” Hayden replied and took a step forward.

Sparkling blue eyes peered out at him as Christian looked the man up and down as though he hadn’t seen him before, hadn’t seen him in little more than swim trunks. Short brown hair topped the long, lean frame. Hayden Medema matched him in height, but with more of a swimmer’s build, the man wasn’t nearly as wide. Still, Christian had seen him carry a fallen comrade fifty yards to safety. As long as he’d known the man, Christian had never guessed he was gay.

“I—” Christian began, at a loss for words. Dressed in snug blue jeans and a white-fitted polo-style shirt, the other man was gorgeous.

“I didn’t expect to see you in a gay bar.” Hayden smiled, stepping into Christian’s personal space. “I’m certainly glad you’re not in denial.”

Christian swallowed and shook his head, willing his blood to continue flowing to his brain. “Nope, not in denial. Just extremely cautious. It’s not like we have the most gay-friendly job or employer. Or even co-workers.”

“Agreed,” Hayden shrugged, “but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little bit of fun together now and then.” Hayden’s fingers trailed slowly up Christian’s abdomen and over his nipples. Gasping, Christian let out a full body shiver as the sensations went straight to his cock. It hardened and strained against his jeans. “Very nice,” Hayden said stepping closer and pressing into him. “Come home with me,” Hayden whispered, flicking his tongue across the sensitive part of Christian’s ear.

 Blessings,
Simone.
 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Writing and Quilting

I'm currently reading "Write" by Karen Peterson, and in it she uses what she calls a patchwork quilt method of writing. It's where you write a scene here and a scene there and at the end you piece it all together, like a patchwork quilt.

I can't write like that. I write chronologically, page 1 until the end. Ideas for dialogue or other scenes get stuck in a document called "Notes for Insert Book Title Here". 

But in the part I finished this morning she said basically, like with a patchwork quilt, writing a book doesn't happen in one sitting.  And that struck me. I'm a self taught quilter. It gives me an excuse to buy pretty fabric.

But also like quilting, the first book, the first draft isn't pretty.




 This is first quilt I ever made - it was a mystery quilt. I made it while I stationed in Okinawa (about 20 years ago).
 

And a close-up of one of the squares - the squares in the corners - are actually supposed to be squares, the points on the triangle should just touch the square in the middle.   R didn't care that it wasn't perfect s/he appropriated the quilt about ten years ago.  It's worn and frayed on the edges. S/he doesn't care. It's on the bed all winter long.


By comparison, these are the first four squares for an Underground Railroad quilt I started making two years ago.  The squares are actually square. The points are points and they meet up. It's a more complex pattern also. 





At this point, I consider myself a advanced beginner or intermediate quilter.  (Examples of quilts by master quilters can be found here at the National Quilt Museum).

Writing is like quilting in a way, when I think about it. The first draft or even the first novel can be like a first quilt, with plot points not adding up, questions not being answered, or a lack of consistency. But just as with quilting, or really anything, the more you practice (writing more books or stories or revising a story) and the more you learn (attending workshops, reading books on the craft of writing, listening to podcasts, etc.) the better your writing becomes.

It's a good reminder to have patience with myself, to not expect perfection, mistakes happen - they can be ripped out and re-done. It's okay to screw up occasionally. THAT is what the revision process is for. To fix the mistakes.

But also, it's a reminder to relax and enjoy the process.

I love to read. I love to write. I love to quilt. I enjoy both the finished product and the process.

Blessings,
Simone.


Monday, August 21, 2017

From the Writer's Desk - Solar Eclipse and Update

Hard to believe we are entering the last half of August. The summer and this year have really flown by. School will be starting in a couple of weeks and for the first time in four years I didn't have to worry about marching band, I can make plans without having to worry about a band conflict. I do need to write down the home games, because I still plan on attending the games and competitions that I can.  R will be starting college, but aside from helping here and there, I don't have a lot to do. Which is kind of nice. Very weird. I'll learn to live with it. :)  It does make me want to attend a writing retreat - I attended some fantastic ones in the past, but haven't in a few years.

The solar eclipse occurs today - I hope I can see at least part of it.

I have new glasses finally! It took a couple of days to get used to them, but I love them. I can sit at my computer for more than five minutes. I can do a lot of things now. I still like writing long hand and enjoyed reading more. I'm still battling with myself over sitting my butt down and writing, while giving myself permission to do non-writing things like read or research. Or if none of the non-writing writing related tasks work - a free day. Guilt free.

I've spent more days not writing this month than I have writing. However, I've managed to write about 2 hours this past week, so I'm feeling good about that. My goal for this week - Monday through next Sunday - is to write 7 hours. I like the time better than the numbers. Because some times I can write 1000+ words in an hour (15-minutes at a time) and others I struggle to get 250 in that same hour. But, if I'm there for an hour, I have the reward of trying without the guilt of failing to hit a word count. It definitely helps to go to Barnes and Noble for a couple of hours, especially since there is usually people - teenagers - R and R's friends- at my house.

I finished the special project my brother asked for:






Goals this week:
7 hours of writing as defined here
Read 30 minutes a day.

Blessings,
Simone.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Uniform Desires


Part of the Heart of a Hero series, available from Pride Publishing.



Home on leave, Cade Donovan isn’t looking for a hook-up, let alone love. Certainly not while he is out with his brothers. When Cade steps in to even the odds in a fight outside a bar, he is instantly drawn to the man being ganged up on. Acting on instinct, the Marine Corps sniper is drawn to the smaller man like a moth to a flame, refusing to give up until the man is his.

Being the younger brother of the school bully has made Jason Carlson’s life hell. When a man intervenes during yet another retaliatory fight, Jason knows his life and his luck have gone from bad to worse. Warned to stay away from his home, Jason accepts the invitation of his rescuer and soon realises that his life has been forever altered and he can have everything he desires, if he’s willing trust Cade with his heart.

When the reality of loving a man in uniform sets in, Jason must find the strength with in himself to believe and know that love is worth fighting for.


Patience and training have provided him with the tools he’ll need to fight for what he wants.


Excerpt:



“Stop…please!”

The plea—barely a whisper next to the loud music pouring from the Driftwood Bar and Grille—caught Cade Donovan’s attention. Senses flaring he listened again, weighing his options. His gut clenched and he turned to his brothers.

“Go on ahead, I’ll be right in.”

“Cade, where are you going?” his older brother Riley asked.

“Just need something I want to check out.”

“We’ll go with you,” his younger brother Christian said, nodding to his twin brother Riordan.

Cade smiled and shook his head. “Pretty sure I can take care of myself.”

It was rare for all of them to be home at the same time, but they’d managed it—everyone meeting at Parris Island for their sister Cheyenne’s graduation from Marine Corps boot camp three days ago. They had another two weeks before they all needed to be back to their respective bases. Earlier in the night, his sisters had gone to the movies, while their parents had gone to a couples-only party.

“Let us know if you need us to come rescue your ass.” Riordan laughed.

Cade nodded as his brothers headed into the bar. Aware of his surroundings, he made his way around the side of the building. Knowing the music would cover the sound of his boots on the pavement, he kept to the shadows as he scanned the area. At the far end of the parking lot, four men stood on the other side of a brown 1990 Cadillac Seville, kicking and shouting at an unseen person. He made his way along the side of the building and his heart dropped as his intuition was confirmed. Pulling out his cell phone, he sent a quick message to his brothers.

“Four on one. End of lot.”

Cade took a deep breath and hit send. Riley was with the SWAT team in the nearby city of Kalamazoo. Christian and Riordan were both Air Force Combat Controllers. It made sense to get their help, especially if any of the four men had weapons, but he had no intention of waiting for his brothers to show.

“Is there a problem?” Cade asked, striding over to the group then crossing his arms over his chest as he stopped.
“None of your concern, Marine,” said a man with dark hair and the beginnings of a beer belly that his faded University of Michigan T-shirt failed to hide.

“Please help me,” the boy on the ground sobbed out. “I didn’t do anything.”

“You’re breathing, Carlson, that’s enough,” a second dark-haired man sneered.

The four men looked to be around his age and seemed vaguely familiar but Cade couldn’t place them. They’d called the boy Carlson. As far as he knew, there was only one family of Carlsons—the family of the school bully Scott Carlson. Scott had been in his class, so that made the kid his younger brother or possibly a cousin.

“Leave the kid alone.” Cade stepped closer. Regardless of the kid’s relationship to Scott Carlson, four on one wasn’t remotely fair in these circumstances.

“Nobody asked you,” the first man said. “It’s none of your business.”

“Yeah, but seefour on one isn’t fair, unless the one is a Marine. What did he do besides breathing that warrants all four of you beating the shit out of him?”

“His brother made our lives hell growing up,” a third man replied.

“Pretty sure Scott Carlson made everybody’s life a living hell. That doesn’t mean you take it out on his brother. That could be suicidal,” Cade reasoned as the smaller man tried to pick himself up.

“Doubt it. Saw him using his brother as a punching bag a couple of weeks ago. Makes him fair game,” the second man said.

“Bullshit! Why don’t you grow a pair of balls and face Scott himself?” Cade exclaimed. “Stop taking it out on someone smaller than you. That makes you just as bad as Scott.”

Movement caught his attention. Cade turned and blocked the punch, before countering with one of his own, knocking the man to the ground. He stood his ground as the remaining three men stalked towards him. Turning slightly, he stepped forward with one foot and punched the solar plexus and the gut of the closest man. Shifting his weight and pivoting, he kicked a third man in the head, knocking him to the ground, before focusing his attention on the remaining man. The man had been silent during the whole exchange.

Cade returned to the modified fighting stance he preferred and waited for the smaller man to move. He stared into the other man’s eyes until the smaller man looked away and kicked out at him. Cade caught the heel of the man’s cowboy boot and lifted with all his strength, sending his opponent sprawling onto his back.

Ignoring the four downed men, he stepped into the circle of bodies and grabbed the kid’s hand. He spun around, pushing the kid behind him as the sound of footsteps approached.

“What the fuck?” Riley asked, dialling his cell phone.

Cade relaxed, stepped to the side and guided the younger man towards his brothers, positioning himself between the man and his attackers.

“You were supposed to wait for us,” Riordan whined.

“Be smart—stay on the ground,” Christian said, moving towards the four downed men.

“Go find your own fight. Four on one was unfair. Besides, you were too slow.” Cade shrugged.

“Quit your bitching, you three.” Riley pocketedthe device. “Police are on their way. What the hell happened?”

“The four of them were beating up on him for no good reason,” Cade explained.

“I…I need to go,” the smaller man stammered.

“No, you’re waiting for the police,” Cade said. “Well, the on-duty police. Riley is off-duty right now.”

The younger man shook his head and stared at the ground, kicking at a loose hunk of asphalt, holding one arm curled protectively around his abdomen. Cade’s instincts kicked in as he took a closer look at the battered man. Manoeuvring him towards the Cadillac, Cade used the nearby light to look for obvious injuries.

“How bad did they get you?” he asked.

“Just a few bruises.” The man shrugged.
“I’m Cade Donovan. These are my brothers Riley, Christian and Riordan.” Cade stuck out his hand to shake the other man’s instead of running it along his like his gut and cock were demanding.

“Jason Carlson.”



** This book also appeared in the anthology - His Hero, which is no longer available.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Changing Tides




Brett DeMarco is a First Lieutenant in Aelland’s Security Forces and hopes to become the head of intelligence someday. After the death of his fiancée, Brett threw himself into his work, dodging his father’s attempts to get him to marry the right woman, never doubting the career path he’d chosen.

Orion Hellman is the base commander’s personal assistant, has never spoken a word to anyone, and follows orders exactly, helping to ensure the base runs smoothly by any means the general deems necessary. Classified as a manual laborer with marriage out of the question, Orion has no intention of getting involved with anyone.

A chance meeting ignites Brett’s long dead desire and changes everything he knew and gives Orion everything he never thought he wanted.

* (Book 14 in the New Reality Series from Resplendence Publishing  - Books are connected by theme and can be read as stand alone books.)

Excerpt --


Tension eased in Lieutenant Brett DeMarco’s shoulders as he neared his base, Fort Tottenham. The lights from the city and surrounding businesses had faded away miles ago. Unlike his father’s base, Fort Landry, a Strategic Military Command base, the government required a ten-mile business and city free zone with a limited number of people allowed to live in all directions from any Tactical Command base or installation. Farmers were given permission to reside there so long as their property measured between five and two hundred and fifty acres. In exchange for inexpensive land and lower taxes, the owners agreed to abide by a curfew and lights out whenever the order came down from the base.



Light from the car’s headlights caught movement on the side of the narrow, two-lane road. Brett tapped the brakes, slowing the vehicle as a trio of deer stared at him. The way his week was going, hitting a deer would be the perfect way to end the one vacation he took each year.



His one full week of leave coincided with the anniversary of General Vanessa Landry’s accidence to the Presidency and the day celebrated as the date of rebirth of the country. He’d been spent it with his parents. The visit had started off with another fight with his father about who Brett should marry. He’d been reminded that the time to make his choices was coming up and they needed to be submitted in writing with his signature as approval. Brett had countered by stating he needed a sponsor but it didn’t have to be a parent. He could ask his boss or the base commander to sign off if he needed to. His father had threatened him and Brett had started to walk away until his mother had interceded.



The week had ended with his father trying to set him up with younger men he personally deemed appropriate. Brett did not. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off. After years of yelling at him to marry a woman instead of a man, his father had conceded too easily. It made him suspicious, even as his father began suggesting younger men to him. Those his father found acceptable were all good-looking men with the manners and intellect found in the children of officers and high-level public administrators. They’d all seemed stiff and emotionless next to Brett’s memories of Orion Hellman, and none had the golden-brown eyes and uncommonly long brown hair.



A figure stumbled out into the middle of the road pulling him from his thoughts. Brett slammed on his brakes, yanked the wheel and prayed he’d miss the person. The car skidded to a halt several feet beyond where the man stood. Brett looked in his rearview mirror and saw him fall. Throwing the car into park, Brett jumped out and ran over to them.



“Are you okay?” Brett asked, kneeling. The red from his taillights cast an eerie glow over the scene. The man wasn’t someone he recognized. While they were closer to the medical clinic on the base than to other facilities, it was reserved for military personnel only. The civilian medical center was about fifteen miles away, close to the center of town. Blood coated the man’s face and hair, and bruises were starting to form. “I’m going to call for help. I’ll be right back.” Brett started to stand.



The man grabbed his arm and pulled, shaking his head.



“You need help,” Brett replied.



The man shook his head again.



Brett stared down at the man. If he did nothing, the man would die. He wasn’t even sure if the civilian medical center would send a response team this far out. The military emergency personnel travelled off base only for military personnel or their dependents. The man’s shirt was bloodied and torn, exposing more of his battered body.



Brett squeezed his eyes shut, trying to prevent the familiar images of his deceased fiancée from pressing forward. The similarities were too close to be discounted, but left him no closer to knowing who was responsible. “I-I need to take you to the base.”



The man tried to push himself up.



“Stop, you’re going to make everything worse. You don’t want me to take you to the base, right?”



“No base,” the man said, his voice soft and cracking.



“I suppose I can take you to the clinic instead. You’re a civilian?”



“Yes.”



“All right, let’s get you into the car.” Brett helped the man up, trying not to dwell on the fact that he was probably breaking another rule or wonder why the man was so far from the residential areas. But the man needed help, and as a military officer, he was duty bound to help. More than that, he knew, was Taren’s influence. No one should suffer as his lover had.



The ride into the city’s center was quiet. Brett’s passenger refused to answer questions or talk until Brett tried to turn down the road leading to the medical center. The man adamantly refused to go to the large clinic, instead giving Brett directions to a different place, in an area of the city Brett had never been to. Nerves taut, he made his way through the winding streets until he came to an area of abandoned and crumbling buildings, most of which looked as if they might have been warehouses at one point. He stopped at the edge of an alley.



“Here?” Brett asked hesitantly, unable to hide his dismay.



The man nodded. “Thanks for the ride, but you should’ve left me where you found me.”



Brett turned and stared at the man, astounded at the first full sentence he’d said. “You need medical help, I can—”



“You’ve done enough. I don’t like medical centers.” It was eerily similar to what Orion had basically “told” him.



“How—”



“End of the road. Turn left. Two miles turn left again. First working light, turn right. You can find your way from there.”



Brett nodded and watched the man pull himself out of the car then disappear into the shadows. Had he helped an enemy of the state get away? Noise from the other side of the street caught his attention, reminding him why he didn’t want to wait around. He carefully followed the other man’s directions until he was familiar with the area then made his way back to base. Parking in his assigned spot in front of his building, he turned off the car and grabbed his bags. His heart was heavy with another secret he couldn’t tell.


Blessings, 
Simone.



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Defining Writing

Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines Writing as:

  1. :  the act or process of one who writes: such as
     a :  the act or art of forming visible letters or characters; specifically :  handwriting
    b :  the act or practice of literary or musical composition
  2. :  something written: such as 
    a :  letters or characters that serve as visible signs of ideas, words, or symbols 
    b :  a letter, note, or notice used to communicate or record 
    c :  a written compositiond :  inscription
  3. :  a style or form of composition
  4. :  the occupation of a writer; especially :  the profession of authorship
 The question is not how the dictionary defines writing, but how does a writer define writing. This has been a sticking point for me for a while. For the longest time when I said I needed to carve out writing time, I meant I needed to sit down at my keyboard and write. And that is what was meant or at least how I interpreted it when I heard that piece of advice.

Fantastic.

Except, there is more to writing than that. Regardless of what you write.

So, I made a list of writing related activities.

1. Working on the story - writing it
2. Characterization
3. Plot development (I'm a pantser, so this is not something I sit down and plan, but some do and it's a writing related activity)
4. Updating Series Bible or other Story Details sheets
5. Research (This is very NON inclusive list)
  a) Setting
  b) Careers
  c) Laws and Law enforcement
  d) Military
  e) Cultures 
  f)  History
  g) First Responders
  h) Medical
  i) Architecture
  j) Creation Myths
  k) Mythology
  m) News reports/articles
6. Setting Construction (what places are you going to use or are you part way through and decide you actually do need to know the layout of the apartment, office, fire house, bar, or whatever else is needed)
7. World Building - This is different than the locations where the story takes place - this might be the actual world, or just different cultures that need to be developed - and that isn't always an easy process because of how inter connected everything in a culture is.

Some decisions are made as you write, but sometimes you need to stop the writing to research something to go forward. For me, this is especially true any time I am developing a new culture or exploring a topic that I'm not as familiar with.

Regardless of when a task gets accomplished - maybe the goal is to finish all of the pre-writing - characterization, plotting, set construction, world building, or anything else - before sitting down to write the first word of the novel, it still falls under the topic of Writing. Therefore, writing time is not just for putting the words on the keyboard - that's important , if you don't do the actual writing of the story part - all the rest of it is wasted time and energy - but also for all of the pieces that make up the process of writing a book.

A book is a project in the sense that that there are dozens of pieces that need to be accomplished individually to create a final product. All of those pieces require time - time that needs to be carved from very busy days.

Why is this important?

Guilt.

Good old fashion guilt.

Guilt because I should be writing the story and not wasting time doing the research or working on characters or sketching apartment layouts or looking at pictures of mansions or even watching a documentary or three on a topic. But, there are no minor details in story telling. None. Because there is a reader who specializes in one of the things I write about - I don't know them, I can't ask them, but if I'm asking them to spend time in the story I'm telling, in the world I've created, then I owe it to them to create the most accurate and believable world I possibly can.

To me it's like someone saying an airman flies jets/airplanes. No, they don't. An airman is the lowest ranking enlisted person in the US Air Force, pilots fly jets and they are always officers. It's not a general term used in the service, it's a generalized term sometimes used outside the service by non-service personnel or for inter-service rivalry. It's a seemingly minor detail, but one that will pull me out of the story where I may not get back into it completely or may not finish it at all.

Guilt gets in the way of writing. For me, it's probably at least one of the reasons I put off writing, because I know that I'm going to be writing during that session but working on developing a culture or figuring out if I can make the bad guy who I want and if what I want to happen can actually happen.

Writing time is precious. It's carved out of a day filled with family, a day job, mental/physical health issues, and broken water heaters. So, writing time is for everything I need to do to make my story real, to make it as good as it can be.

Blessings,

Simone.


Monday, August 7, 2017

From The Writer's Desk - Seven Days In and No Writing Yet

Technically, we are 7 days into August, today. It's arguable that there have only been 6 days of writing/work so far, because it's early Monday morning. Except, I'm supposed to be getting up at 4. I haven't done that in a couple of weeks, and I haven't written anything story related since last Monday.

I know some of the issues.

I still don't have new glasses, but I haven't been writing by hand either. There is a lawn mower in my office area along with an assortment of boxes, because I don't have a shed to store them in. And I don't know when that is going to happen. There is a guest over every day. They are here when I get home and until 30 minutes before I'm supposed to be in bed. Until a few days ago there was also a smaller guest who thought they needed to be entertained by me all day/evening long.  Then there are a variety of doctors appointments for the last two weeks and the next two along with college orientation.  Then to add to the mix, my hot water heater died. It's under warranty. Shipping for the parts is not. The labor and service call. Also not under warranty. All of which means, I haven't felt like writing. I haven't felt like dealing with anything else.

But, I want the book done, so I have to figure something out. Because really, the guest will probably be around for a while. Although, school starts soon. Thankfully. There is a write-in tonight for the group that was formed during NaNoWriMo one year and continues to grow and adjust with new and leaving members. But, I may just go to Barnes and Noble, where I can have a whole table to myself.

It's interesting, the quirks you uncover as a writer. It sounds nit-picky. I need this and this and this. The book I'm reading put some reason to it. Some writers need absolutely no distractions, others need everything exactly so, and for some others we need to FEEL safe. That's where I fall. I need to feel safe, to feel in control of things. I have certain idiosyncrasies when it comes to writing - I need the book's playlist going in either iTunes or YouTube. A new project always needs a title before I can start writing it - no matter how developed the story and characters are - and place holders like Untitled Fantasy won't work. But, the other part is feeling like I have some control, some balance, some safety in my life.

So, I will probably take myself to Barnes and Noble for a while tonight and see if I can get rid of this stagnation and get back on track. I want the book finished by August 31st. It's doable.

My goal this week is to write 7 hours - at least one hour every day. Long hand or on the computer. But to write at least 1 hour every day.

I'm still reading Rebecca, but my brother asked me for a favor before his wedding next month, so I will be working on that for a while this week. It's stitching up fast, it's just a pain in the butt.

Blessings,

Simone.