Category Archives: Creative Writing

Power Outage: Silver Lining

We live in an old home in an old neighborhood. I love it because it’s incredibly convenient and we have a big yard for our dogs. Oh, and the random-width pegged hardwood floors. The floors were the real selling point for me. People with newer houses visit and talk about what “character” our house has and how wonderful all the “mature trees” are. Character means there’s not a ninety-degree angle to be found in a single corner of this house, and that some long-dead owner thought he knew how to run plumbing and electrical lines. After twenty-four years we’re still finding weird crap. Mature trees are ones that will soon fall on your house, car, and garage or those of your neighbors.

It came up a bad cloud (as Lewis Grizzard would say) a week or so ago. We lost power. The next morning we found out we hadn’t just lost power, we’d lost trees. We’re still not sure of the exact count since they were all tangled up and we can’t move anything until the insurance adjuster takes a look since our coverage is ‘per tree’. New concept for me. Anyway, the biggest tree fell into a total of four yards, took out three fences, pulled up the foundation of our garage, and left us without power, cable, or internet. I missed the power because I needed ice packs for my neck and back. I didn’t miss cable since I don’t even know how to turn on our TV. Sadly, I did miss the internet.

But instead of reading books on my Kindle (no power) I read a couple of books I’d selected from my husband’s late aunt’s full-house library.  One was called Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo. It’s a very clever novel about a man who ends up taking his quirky sister’s guru with him on a cross-country road trip. It’s both entertaining and enlightening. Saying any more than that would be a spoiler. I’m planning on reading more from this author!

 

Next I read The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester. I’m not sure, but I think this is non-fiction with literary license taken. It’s about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. Boring, right? Oh, not even close! It’s a total page-turner for anyone who loves words. I was blown away early on by the simple fact that no English dictionary existed during Shakespeare’s time. He couldn’t just “look something up”. Crazy, right? Brilliant book.

Next time the power goes out (if you still have above-ground power lines as I do) pull a book off the shelf and read by candlelight. It’s addictive!

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

I hit my writing goal for July . . . LAST NIGHT! It’s been a long time since I’ve even attempted National Novel Writing Month, but I signed up for Camp NaNo this year and set a pretty high goal for myself. I can only write for about fifteen minutes at a time (a bit longer if I’ve just been to the chiropractor) so I’m excited to have hit my goal at all – let alone hit it early.  Here’s my prize:

No, I’m not kidding. I’m damn proud to be a validated winner and will be changing my personal FB profile pic momentarily! Also, I get 50% off any Scrivener product – I’ll be buying the Windows version since I’m addicted to the mechanical keyboard my sons gave me. So tell me, Scrivener users, what are your favorite components? Should I download a how-to book before I start using it or just dive in?

I’ve still got a few important scenes to get out of my head and into the MS, and one lingering awkward transition to figure out. Then I get to check the strength and placement of my hooks and do a read-through aloud. I haven’t done that before, but I’ve been told it’s a great way to find mistakes that would be missed otherwise.

And since I write erotica I’ll be reading when I’m the only one home and all windows are shut tight. Any erotica readers willing to be Beta readers when I get this ready?

#CampNaNoWinner2018

My Childhood Best Friend

This is the prompt I chose for Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop this week because it brings back many happy memories. I can’t say Rebel was my “neighborhood” best friend because when you live way out in the middle of nowhere “neighborhoods” don’t exist. Or they didn’t back then, anyway!

But I remember Rebel from the first day of First Grade! Our birthdays are close together, so I’m sure she started the day in Kindergarten and ended it as a first-grader, just like I did. I wish I could find a class picture or a picture of when she went camping with us, but I can’t. So this will have to do, and I totally stole if from her FB page!

By the date, she was 4 1/2 here, so we hadn’t quite met yet. The baby is her little sister, and the dog is one of the gorgeous St. Bernards her family bred. I suspect that’s where I got my love of BIG dogs. Big, slobbery, furry dogs are just the best!

You can see her gorgeous strawberry-blonde hair here, but not her sweet smile or the perfect scattering of freckles she had across her nose. Much like my beautiful daughter-in-law. I’m hoping for freckles on my grandkids, but their parents actually have to let them out in the sun for more than 30 seconds at a time without SPF 100 to see if that will happen. They may not get freckles until they are teens. But that’s OK, too. Healthy skin is a priority.

Rebel was the most amazing natural artist I’ve ever met. Her dad was quite creative and built custom storage-underneath bunks for Rebel and her sister (coolest bedroom ever!) and a treehouse.

I’m not talking spare pieces of wood nailed up as a ladder and an iffy platform here. I’m talking house with walls, roof, windows, door, table and chairs, and serious decor. Supported by huge pillars. Rebel herself designed and painted the exterior (huge, colorful flowers) and her treehouse was the envy of every girl in school!

We had sleepovers as often as our parents would let us, and were part of a close-knit group of friends at our little country elementary school. But then I had to move away for a year. Not far, just to the next county over. I hated that year, though. I made a couple of friends, but they weren’t like my since-day-one friends. And I was starting that gangly, awkward stage every kid hits at least briefly. Mine wasn’t brief, and I was pretty much tortured on the bus on the way to and from school. And when you live in the country (as we always did) bus rides are long and drivers are deaf.

So I was thrilled to find out we were moving back close to my original elementary school. But dynamics had changed during the year I’d been gone, and for whatever reason one of the girls saw me as a threat. I was a scrawny nerd in hand-me-downs with huge glasses and a home perm. A cardboard cutout would have been more threatening. But Christina decided to pull each and every girl aside (maybe all the boys, too – I was too shy to talk to boys) and told each of them I’d said something incredibly personally insulting about them. That was my first experience with bullying that wasn’t a bigger boy picking on a smaller boy at recess. I had no clue what was happening or why.

They joined hands and danced around me in a circle, chanting nasty things. No one would play with me at recess or speak to me at lunch. My self-esteem was completely crushed. I begged my mom not to make me go to my elementary school graduation, but she didn’t understand. I didn’t even have the words to explain it.

I was eleven, my parents had recently separated, and there was a sexual predator living next door. It was a bad time in my life.

 

Years later (in high school) Rebel finally told me what Christina had done and said. It was actually a relief. All those years I’d thought there was something I’d done to make all my friends not only hate me, but want to hurt me. We were never close again, never more than a smile or wave in the hallway, and I haven’t seen her since high school graduation. But we’re FB friends (I was terrified she’d ignore my request) and she’s obviously become even more beautiful and talented as the years have passed.

The innocence of childhood friendships is so incredibly precious. Those opportunities never come around again.

 

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