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.