Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Mental Ward - Men with Guns (28)

     "It's Mr. Carlysle!" The murmur rose up from a number of people as Andrew strode into the midst of the miniature base set up outside the asylum.
      The blank stares of the policemen reminded him that no one knew his daughter was there, that no one even knew his daughter was alive.  He needed to find the matron who knew where his daughter was.
      Before he could voice his request, a tap came on his arm from a middle-aged woman with a somewhat military bearing.  "Mr. Carlysle?"
     "Yes."  He looked her up and down.  "I'm looking for the matron of the children's ward."
     She nodded briskly, pursing her lips like the bearer of bad news.  "Come with me and I will tell you what you need to know."
     Moments later, she had him seated in a tiny cubicle of a room in a building across the street.  He twisted his hat in his hands.  The matron eyed him patiently, as if waiting for him to show her where to begin.
      "Where is she?" he asked, his voice sounding weak.
      "Somewhere in the building -- we're not sure exactly -- probably on the fifth floor -- her floor."
      "Is she okay?" A tremor crept into the words.
      The matron's lips twisted wryly as if she saw some morbid humor in his question.  "Probably the only one we can be relatively certain of at the moment."
     "Good.  Good."  So she had been specially cared for and protected.  He was glad of that.  At least his wealth and power had ensured the best treatment, even if he himself had been absent.  "She's safe."  He rubbed his hands through his hair, feeling relief from those words.  All of the terrors that had rushed through his head on his way down here were for naught.  He suddenly felt irritated at the asylum for stirring up his fears.  There was some neglect on their part.  In fact, everything would have been peaceful as usual if they hadn't been so careless with their dangerous inmates.  He squared his shoulders at the matron.  "What kind of haphazard behavior puts a murderous lunatic on the loose in the building with my daughter in the first place?"
      The matron recoiled.  "With your daughter?!  Sir, the murderous lunatic IS your daughter!  Surely you knew that!"
     It took a moment for the words to sink in, and even then Andrew didn't want to believe them.  The world seemed to screech to a halt, and he felt the rise and fall of his own chest in slow motion.
      The matron's lips continued to move.  Andrew stared at them, hating their motion and curves.  But he did not hear a word.  Instead, the words "murderous lunatic" echoed around in his head.  His daughter.  The lunatic.  Little Beth.  It couldn't be.  What had gone wrong?  How had it come to this?  And what was he to do now?
       Snatches of words dashed through his ears, making no sense.  Police.  A force moving in.  A girl on the inside was opening doors one by one.  They were armed.  Take whatever measures necessary.  Neutralize the danger.
      Andrew sagged against the back of his chair.  He must be dreaming.  This could not be real.
     Lola could never know.  It would kill her.
     Just like it was killing him.
     Suddenly he lurched forward, dropping his head into his hands, and a sob wrenched through his body.  His shoulders shook with suppressed emotion.  Outside, men with guns were rushing into an asylum.  And it was his daughter they were after.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday Book Sale!

 It’s that time of year. The time for buying presents, making wish lists, and planning New Year’s Resolutions. If any of those activities involve books for you, Indie Christian Authors has a perfect event for you. From Nov 27 (that’s today!) through Nov 30th, more than 70 independent Christian books are on sale. You can find free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals, and more! And if your budget is depleted from Christmas shopping, they’ve got you covered with some freebies Think 70 books is overwhelming? Narrow it down and find the perfect books for you or someone on your Christmas list by using this quiz to generate a customized book list.> What awesome reads of 2015 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2016?
A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as “Sold Out.” This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good for her work organizing this sale, Gloria Repp for completing the time consuming job of uploading book info to the sale website, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Mental Ward - Have You Heard, Sir? (27)

     Andrew thumbed through the pages of his notebook.  Why was it so wretchedly hard to concentrate tonight?  He silently cursed the swimming letters that refused to organize themselves coherantly on the page.
     A light knock sounded on the oaken door of his study.  Andrew nearly leaped to his feet in relief.  Anything to fill the silence of the evening!
     "Come in."
     Antrin, his faithful servant for the past ten years, entered the room, closing the door behind him. A gust of wind entered with him, filling the room with a dark, suspenseful air.  Antrin looked about him as if afraid of being caught by something.
      "What is it, man?" Andrew demanded, but softly, for he suddenly felt as uneasy as Antrin.
      "Perhaps you've heard about the uproar in town?" Antrin folded his hands behind his back and spoke in a secretive tone.  "The entire police force is preparing to storm the asylum there."
     Andrew pressed his eyes closed and shook his head. He had reasons for not wanting to hear about any asylum.  His thoughts whispered that this surely had nothing to do with his Beth.  Surely Beth was safe in a beautiful asylum in the country somewhere.
     "It seemed that one of their most dangerous lunatics escaped and murdered half the staff." Antrin's hands refused to stay behind his back. They reappeared and plucked at the buttons on the front of his coat.
     Andrew shook his notebook impatiently and pretended to immerse himself in its pages.  "Why are you telling me this, Antrin?"
      "Well, I wouldn't have bothered you, sir, but I just received a message from a woman at the asylum...the matron of the children's ward, as a matter of fact."
      Andrew's throat tightened.
      "She said you wouldn't know her, sir, but that she once received a package from a mutual acquaintance.  And that she was to notify you if...if...Sir?  Are you well, sir?"  Antrin started forward with concern.
      Andrew flung his book aside and leaped to his feet.  "Get my coat, Antrin!  Quick! Oh, God, let her still be alive!"

Monday, November 23, 2015

He Done Told Us

     It was dark when the men carried Stony to his cabin.  Dinah held the wooden door open and pressed her hand to her mouth, trying to stop the tears as she heard his groans.  Someone lit a candle and the pale yellow light flickered over the bloodstained bandage that wrapped her beloved's back.  
     One of the men clapped his big, meaty hand on Dinah's shoulder.  "Do you need anything, Miss Dinah?" His voice was deep and rumbly and oddly strengthening.  Dinah lowered her hand and shook her head.
     The men filed out the door, heading for their own beds.  The day would start early tomorrow and no one wanted to risk his ability to work hard by staying up all night.  Dinah was left alone with Stony.
     "Dinah." Stony's voice was a whisper.  "I'm so happy, Dinah."
     Dinah looked over his battered form and choked back tears.  "Happy, Stony?"
     He moved his head so he could see her, and pain washed over his face.  He closed his eyes, taking deep heavy breaths.  Then he opened them again and smiled reassuringly.  "The doctor came.  He sent everybody away whilst he wrapped my back."
     "The doctor?  But they've never sent for a doctor before."
     "The overseer beat me...pretty bad." A groan escaped his lips.  "And the master's sister was visiting.  She has a soft heart, I think.  She insisted...on the doctor."
      Dinah knelt beside him and fingered the edge of the bandage.  What horrors did it conceal?  What had they done to her Stony?
      "I'm going to be alright, Dinah.  The doctor - he says I be as strong as they come.  I'll be as good as new -- you'll see."  Stony stopped, breathing rapidly for a moment before continuing.  "That's not all the doctor said."
      Stony painstakingly moved his arm, bringing it around until his hand reached Dinah's.  His fingers closed about hers and squeezed.  "The doctor has been trying to get word to this plantation for weeks.  It's here, Dinah.  Freedom.  God sent us our very own Moses.  The doctor told me everything.  Dinah...we're getting out."
       "Out?"  Dinah shook her head doubtfully.  "Freedom?"
      "In two weeks..." Stony slowly nodded his head. " will be riding the underground railroad, my girl."
      Dinah leaned forward until her cheek rested against Stony's.  He kissed her and then his breathing settled into the steady rhythm of sleep.  Dinah stayed there, even though her leg went numb, unwilling to disturb his sleep.  But the whole time she wondered: could it really be true?  Was freedom just a fortnight away?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Mental Ward - The Invasion Begins (26)

     The control box was heavier than Emery expected.  She grunted as she lifted it in her arms and hurried into the hallway toward the elevator.
     Beth trotted beside her.  "Where are we going, Emery?"
     "We're getting you out of here."  She stopped in front of the elevator, setting the box on the floor and flipping a couple switches.
     "You're letting them in?" Beth asked.
     "Yes.  They can get in the lobby now. And we can use the elevator." Emery pushed the button in the wall and the elevator came to life.  As the doors slide open, she shoved the control box inside.  "Are you coming, Beth?"
      Beth ducked into the elevator and eyed Emery.  "You're not going to give me to them?"
     "Of course not.  I told you I would get you out of here."
     "Why?" Beth wrinkled her nose.
     Emery counted the floors as the elevator dinged passed each one.  "If one of my sisters were here, I couldn't leave her -- not with those kinds of people after her."  Emery reached out, brushing Beth's short hair away from her eyes.  "You're kind of like one of my sisters."
     "You're brave."
     Emery shook her head.  "No, I'm not."
     The elevator reached the top floor.  Emery stooped to the box and opened the stairwell door on the ground level.  "Come on, we have to hurry."

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Mental Ward - We're Ready (25)

     "Hello?" Emery held the intercom button.  "Anyone there?"
      "Hi, Miss Clayton, we're here.  Have you found the control box?" A voice crackled through the intercom.
     Emery glanced down at the sheet under the desk.  "Yes, I've got it."
     "Okay."  There was a scrambling noise and then a new voice came on the line.  "Miss Clayton, the first thing is to get you out of there.  Use the box to open the necessary doors and bring the box to us."
     Beth chewed a finger, looking worriedly at Emery.
     Emery shook her head at Beth.  "No.  I think you should come to us.  And one of the staff here needs a doctor.  I'll open the doors for you."
     The intercom went silent for a moment.  Then a voice spoke.  "Miss Clayton, can you tell us exactly where Beastly is?"
     "That's okay, Miss Clayton.  Don't worry about it.  We are ready."
     A voice in the background echoed, "That's right!  We're ready!"
     "Okay." Emery took a deep breath.  "On the count of twelve, I'm opening the front doors."  She pushed away from the wall and ran to pick up the control box.  "Come on, Beth," she whispered.  "We've got to move fast."

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My Deepest Apologies...and a Tiny Excuse

Hi, guys...

     I am making an appearance today to request your pardons.

     I may seem to be a bad blog host.  I promised you a story episode on Saturday, and I did not deliver.

     It's true.

     And I'm sorry.

     I offer as an excuse the fact that our internet went down -- unexpectedly, unexplainedly, and irrevocably for several days.

     I will make it up to you somehow.  And, if our internet behaves itself, I will be posting regularly again now.

      Thank you for your grace and forgiveness.

Yours Truly,


Behind the Scenes Writing Tag

Is there a certain snack you like to eat while writing?
Not particularly. If I'm hungry, I nibble on whatever we have in the house. But typically food is not on my brain while I'm writing.

When do you normally write? Night, afternoon, or morning?
Whenever I get the chance. This may be early in the morning...or sometime in the afternoon...or late after everyone else has gone to bed.

Where do you write?
Most of my writing is done at the computer in a corner separated from the kitchen by a thin wall. Which means that writing just before or after a meal is difficult due to the lively conversations right next to my ear.

How often do you write a new novel?
Thanks to Rooglewood, I write at least one new short story every year. My full-length novels take longer, and I haven't been doing this long enough to give you a good estimate on time.

Do you listen to music while you write?
Not usually. It's a rare thing. Theoretically, listening to music sounds like a great idea. But when I'm doing creative writing, the mood of my writing changes with the scenes and the characters. If I spend time to find the right music for the scene (which seems like a waste of time), then the song is either too short or too long. And then I have to find another song for the next scene. <exasperated sigh>
Music moves me. Writing moves me. And if they aren't moving in the same direction at the same time, then I feel torn.
So, no, I don't usually listen to music while I write.

What do you write on? Laptop or paper?
Mostly computer. My brain moves too fast for my pencil to keep up, which I find frustrating. But sometimes I write on paper -- when I can convince my brain to slow down a little.  
For the record, though, my private journal is on paper.

Is there a special ritual you have before or after you write?
Stretching, maybe? Lol.
I don't have any planned rituals, but sometimes things happen. Like kinks from hunching over a computer.

What do you do to get into the mood to write?
Do you need to be in a particular mood? I think I could always write, no matter what frame of mind I am in. Writing is the way I think, sometimes.
That being said, there are sometimes certain moods you are going for in the story. There are a couple writers who write in styles completely different from my own, but they write with excellence. I read them to inspire myself to greatness.
Pinterest sparks new stories for me. I see a picture and a potential story attacks my brain. Don't laugh -- it probably happens to you, too. ;)
And pretending to be a character, turning myself into them before I start writing, sometimes helps me bring the right flavor to a scene.

What is always near the place you write?
My faithful, loyal companions (my dogs -- their idea, not mine).

Do you have a reward system for your word count?
Making a blog post about it. That feels rewarding to me.

Is there anything about your writing process that others might not know about?
I have a callous on my finger, and the other day I was trying to figure out where it came from. Lo, and behold, I have discovered that I bite my finger when I'm deep in thought. I didn't even realize I was doing it. But, thanks to SPINDLE (who was being very difficult for a while there), I now have a nice callous.
So, is there something about my writing process that others might not know about? Yes - I didn't even know about it. But, apparently, biting my finger is an integral part of plot development for me.

Thank you, Emily Putzke, for the tag!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

I Done Told You

      The hot sun prickled on Dinah's face and neck, and sweat dripped from every pore.  She straightened up, trying to stretch the ache out of her back.  The rows of tobacco spread out endlessly in every direction, dotted with dark-skinned workers.
       The woman nearest Dinah stood up and wiped the sweat from her face with a kerchief.  "'Bout time for dinner, ain't it?  Is Stony eat'n at his house or yours?"
     Dinah flushed at the mention of the handsome young man.  "He said he eat w' us today."
     The woman grinned and shook her head.  "When you and that boy gwine t' jump the broom?"
     Dinah bent over, burying her face among the tobacco.  She ignored the strain in her back and legs.  "When he akses me."
       The woman reached down again, pulling a handful of nasty tobacco worms from the undersides of the leaves and crushing them under her bare feet.  "Stony's a fine boy.  He'll make you a good husband."
     The clanging sound of the dinner triangle drifted into the field, as welcome as a breeze.  The energy picked up as workers finished their rows and headed toward the cabins that they called home.
       Dinah helped her mother dish out the porridge and ham biscuits.  Stony's little sister, Chloe, popped into their cabin and managed to get as much underfoot as possible for a 5-year-old girl.
     "Chloe!  Quit jumpin' around, chile!" Dinah fussed.  "What you doing at my house?  Why ain't you at your own?"
     Chloe hopped from one foot to the other.  "Cause Stony ain't there."
     "Where is Stony? When is he gwine to get here?" Dinah dipped a finger in the porridge and tasted it.  She grimaced.  It needed more salt or sugar or something.  She turned away from the table and rummaged in the food bin.
      Crash!  Clatter!  Dinah spun just in time to see both Chloe and the bowl of porridge land on the dirt floor.
      "Chloe!  I done tol' you to quit jumpin'!"  Dinah ran to help Chloe to her feet.  Then she knelt over the bowl.  Half of it had spilled on the ground.  Dinah surveyed the amount left in the bowl.  It wouldn't be enough.  With a sigh, she scooped some of the porridge from the ground, trying to gather from the top of the heap where it hadn't gotten gritty with dirt.  "Why don't you run see where your brother is and stay out o' my kitchen till I'm ready?"
       Chloe agreed and ran out the door, her little bare legs kicking up spurts of dust as she went.  Dinah watched her go with a rueful expression.
     "Maybe it's not a good day for Stony to sample my cookin'."  Dinah tilted the porridge bowl up to the light with a dismal expression.
     "You think his mama ain't never scraped porridge of'n the floor?" Dinah's mother laughed.
      A reluctant smile crept across Dinah's face.  "If our floor was made of sugar, then this porridge would be perfect now."
     Her mother set the last ham biscuit on a plate.  "Where your beau?  He should be here by now."
     A shout went up outside.  And somebody yelled, "Dinah!  Come quick!"
     Dinah charged through the doorway into the full sunlight.  A wagon was rattling up the road to the right of the cabins.
     Stony was tied to the back of it.
     Dinah ran toward the road.  "Stony!"
     Stony trotted to keep his balance as the wagon lurched along, but he twisted to see Dinah's face.
     The look of fear and concern in his eyes froze Dinah where she stood.  For a second, the world went silent.
      Stony's voice broke through her fog.  "Get Chloe!" he shouted.  "Don't let her see..."
      It was then that Dinah saw the 5-year-old struggling to keep up with the wagon.  Chloe ran as fast as her little legs could carry her up the road after her brother.
     Dinah raced forward, her long legs eating up the ground and overtaking the little girl.  She caught her and wrapped her arms around her.  Chloe struggled against her.
     "Stony!  Stoooonnyyyy!  Where are they taking my brother?!" she hollered.
     Tears blurred Dinah's eyes as the wagon disappeared up the road.  She stood up to catch one last glimpse of her beloved before the wagon turned downhill and out of sight.  She had seen the overseer in the wagon, whip in hand.  Her stomach revolted at the knowledge of what was surely going to happen over the hill.
      Chloe turned to hide against Dinah, grasping her skirt with chubby fingers.  "I'm skeered, Dinah," she whimpered.
     Dinah patted the little girl's back as she stared down the empty road.  "There's no need to be scared, chile."  Her voice sounded far away, as if it belonged to someone else.  "I done tol' you that God is good."
     A tear ran down Dinah's cheek.  "I done tol' you that He is merciful.  And powerful.  And that He loves us."
     Far away, shouts from an angry man rang out.  Dinah winced, knowing that a lash would follow that sound.
     "I done tol' you about the children of Israel -- God's people -- when they were slaves in Egypt.  God sent a man named Moses to set them all free."  Her hand found Chloe's hair and stroked it calmly, but on the inside her heart was breaking.  "He's gwine to do that for us, too, chile...He's gwine to do that for us...someday."
      Dinah bowed her head and closed her eyes.  More tears spilled over, dropping onto Chloe's hair.  Dinah tried to make her voice strong again, but it would only whisper.
     "I done tol' you."

Snippet: Path of Death

     He placed his foot on the first step and his skin prickled with the knowledge that an hundred arrows could be released into his flesh with the flick of a finger.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Mental Ward - Missing Egypt (24)

     Emery was halfway down the hall before she realized Beth hadn't followed her.  The white-clad little girl stood stolidly where Emery had left her.
      "Come on, Beth!" Emery called.
     Beth didn't move.  "They're not going to let me leave."
     A pang hit Emery's heart.  "I know."
     "They're going to come at me with their tubes and their needles."  Beth's voice rose.  "They're going to put me back in the Box."  She grasped her hair with both fists.  "I don't want to go back in the Box!"
      Emery ran back and grabbed Beth's shoulders.  "Don't panic, Beth.  It's going to be okay.  I'll get you out of here.  Don't forget what's already happened -- remember?  You are already freer than you have been in a long time."
      Beth whimpered.  "I need IT.  IT was the only way I was strong enough to fight them."
     Emery shook Beth's shoulders.  "No, you don't need IT.  Look where IT put you.  You need the One who is stronger than it.  Remember?  You are as forgetful as the children of Israel!"
     Beth peeked up at Emery.  "As who?"
     "Never mind.  I'll tell you that story later.  Come on -- let's get out of here."  Emery led the way down the hall and this time Beth followed.
     "But what if we can't get out?" Beth murmured.
     "Hush.  We'll get out.  I have a plan."  Emery hurried into the office, dropped to the floor in front of the desk, and pulled aside the sheet.  Hidden underneath was the control box.  "With this box, we can open and close doors, lock and unlock elevators."
      Beth dropped beside her.  "I know." She pointed at a switch.  "That's the Box."
      Quickly, Emery looked over the control panel box, making a path in her mind as she surveyed the switches and knobs.
      "Okay, Beth, I need you to be very quiet for a minute.  I'm going to make a call..."

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Beautiful Books -- November

This month, I am only taking a few questions out of the ten offered.  Some of them are too much of a spoiler at this particular time, or they don't seem to apply, or I have recently answered them elsewhere.  So, in its abbreviated form, here it goes:

1.Is your books turning out like you thought it would be or is is defying your expectations?
      A little bit of both, honestly.  Some of it turned out perfectly as planned.  Other bits turned out better than I imagined -- rather catching me off-guard with a turn of a phrase or a plot twist.  And some parts turned out much, much harder to write than I expected.

5. What do you look for in a name?  Do you have themes and where do you find your names?
     I look for the sound of it -- how does it roll off my tongue?
     Sometimes I look for the definition of a name -- sometimes I will start with a meaning and find a fitting name that means what I want it to.  Sometimes I will even put a word into Google Translate and make a name out of the translation.
     Sometimes I look for a nationality -- either because of the setting of my story or for other reasons.  For example, in one of my Sleeping Beauty stories, I intentionally went for German names in honor of Dornröschen.
      And sometimes I make them up.  Or modify them for my story.

6. What is your favorite to write: beginning, middle, or end...and why?
      I think my favorite is the beginning because there is so much promise with those first pages.  At that point, the story could go a million different ways and they all look wonderful.

7c. What is the weirdest thing you have researched for this novel?
     Please don't be freaked out, but I was researching lizard skeletons.
     And if that is not bad enough, the purpose for this research was to  figure out how to best stab them with a spear.
     And if you want to know why on earth my characters wanted to stab lizards with spears (please don't misunderstand me -- I really truly like lizards), then you'll have to read The Caver's Kiss someday.

And that's it, folks!  Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you have a wonderful month of writing!

Monday, November 9, 2015

ROOGLEWOOD announcement

Attention, those of you participating in the Rooglewood contest, please check out an important announcement on the Rooglewood page:!writing-contest/c22i6
The guidelines haven't changed for us -- we still have the same deadlines. But there is a window of time wherein any submitted forms will have to sit patiently in an inbox for a while. In other words, if you submit your application tomorrow, you can count on not getting your "please-send-your-story" email until December 20th.
Applications must still be postmarked by December 16, and stories must still be submitted by the end of December.
So really, nothing has changed for us, except now we are prepared to be patient. I don't know about you, but I'm actually glad to know I have that long for edits without feeling like THEY are waiting on ME.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Mental Ward - Beth's Hope (23)

     "Precious was your cat?" Emery shook her head incredulously.  "My father came home from work with that story and told me when I was just a little girl."
     Beth opened her mouth and shut it again.  She chewed her lip.  "Can I...?"  Her eyes flickered over Emery's face and then dropped to the ground.  "Can I go home now?"
     Emery's eyes watered.  "Yes."  She reached out, cupping her hand under Beth's chin.  "Yes, I think so."  She dropped her hand and hurried down the hallway ahead of her young charge.  "I just need to figure a way to get you out of here alive."

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Snippet: Strong Enough to Wake the Dead

     “Don’t worry.  This won’t hurt you,” the little girl said majestically.  She wiped the leaf on his lips.

       Detlef sucked in a breath as his eyes started to water.  “Won’t hurt?  It burns like pepper on an open wound.”

     She scrunched her face and peered up at him hopefully.  “Won’t hurt…much?”

     He laughed.  “Whoo-eee.”  And blinked the tears away.  "I'll be reluctant to try your cooking when you grow up."

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Mental Ward - The Other Side (22)

      Andrew Carlysle pushed open the door to his wife's dressing room.  She sat at the far end, disconsolantly, by a window.  Her hair hung loose over her neck, and her nightgown was black.
     Andrew waved a maid into the room.  "Set the box on the table."
     The maid carried a box in and did as he directed.  Then she curtsied and left.
     Andrew crossed the floor to the table and fingered the silver bow on the box in silence.  Her silence.
     "I brought you a dress -- dark blue."  His voice sounded loud in the quiet room.  "I thought it might be time to try a little color.  Nothing too drastic, but..."
     "Black is the color for me." Her voice was calm and cultured, but it carried the undertone of some deep emotion.
     A puff of exasperated air escaped Andrew's lips.  "It's been 7 years.  People don't wear black for 7 years. A week.  A month maybe.  Not 7 years."
     She turned her head and looked at him for the first time since he entered the room.  "That's for a case in which the loved one died."
     "She is dead, Lola."
     "No.  She's not.  She's dying."  She lifted her chin but her eyes swam with tears.  "Every.  Day.  She died today."  Her voice rose in pitch until she was almost screaming.  "She died yesterday.  She died a year ago.  She died 7 years ago.  Maybe she did and maybe she didn't.  We'll never know, will we?  Maybe she's still alive right now.  And that's worse!  My baby girl!"  She stood up from her chair and flung herself headlong on the bed, drowning in a torrent of tears.
     Andrew hurried to her side and bent over his wife's form, holding her shoulders in his own strong hands.  "Lola."
     She sobbed into a pillow.
     "We did what we had to do.  Beth wasn't happy here.  You know that." Andrew eased onto the bed until he was sitting beside his wife.  "And we couldn't keep her locked up in a room forever.  We just weren't equipped to handle her illness in this setting.  She is better off in a facility devoted to her care."
      "Then why..." Lola hiccuped around her tears.  "...did we  tell people she had died?  Why didn't we keep contact with the people who took her?  We don't even know where she is now."  She tilted to one side, looking up at her husband with grief-stricken eyes.  "I can't help but think we gave more care to the family name than to our own daughter."
      "Calm yourself, Lola."  Andrew patted her back.  "You're acting like a lunatic."
     She shook his hand off.  "Are you going to send me away, too?  Have strangers carry me away in the night?"
     "Of course not.  Lola."
     "Do you remember playing with her?  All those toys you got for her?  Tucking her in at night?"
     Tears stung Andrew's eyes.  "Of course I do."
     Lola threw her face into her pillow and screamed.  "We gave our baby girl away, Andrew!  Why!  Why!"
     Andrew turned, stretching out beside her, and pressed his damp cheek against hers.  Their tears ran together.  And when he spoke, his voice was hoarse.
     "I don't know."

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

One Lovely Blog Award - from Clara

       Clara Stone, from The Golden Dusk, nominated me for the "One Lovely Blog Award."  Therefore, I shall follow two of these three rules:
Rule 1) Link back to the blogger who nominated you (that's Clara, of course)
Rule 2) Post seven facts about yourself
Rule 3) Nominate 15 other bloggers to participate
      The last rule, I'm going to modify a little bit because I'm not sure I can come up with 15 names on the spot.

      Now for the seven facts:

1. I can scratch out a simple tune on almost any woodwind, string, or percussion instrument.  Brass instruments are still rather hit or miss for me.  And I am not terribly skilled at any one instrument because I don't consistently practice.  :/

2. I can't really read sheet music.  My reading level is like first grade:!  r-r-r-r-r--a-a-a-a-a--n-n-n-n-n-n...  I am well-versed in music theory and I can transpose a chord sheet in my head while playing a song without skipping a beat.  But sheet music is not something I've been trained to.  Someday maybe...

3. I like fall colors (dark greens, browns, mahogany, rust, oranges, deep reds, etc) and spring colors (pinks, green, purple, blue, rose red, etc) best, although I occasionally wear black to look cool like my brother.

4.  I've been hiking in the mountains twice this year.

5. I have 2 dogs who are my constant companions when I'm home.

6. I don't drink coffee.  I rarely drink tea.  I like water.  Or water with a tiny bit of juice in it.

7. So far, I have seen the Atlantic Ocean, the Bering Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico.

       How about you?  I nominate the following to tell me about themselves (and you are welcome to leave a link to your response in my comments below): Chloe Linn, Olivia Fisher, Erudessa, Jessica, Emileigh, Jack, Jessy, Kathryn, Kiri, Anna, Ana, and anyone else who thinks this looks fun.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Rooglewood Contest -- Challenges as the Deadline Approaches

     Greetings, fellow writers and readers!  I decided it was time for an update on our contest entries.  Can you believe it is November already???

Deadline to turn in submission forms: 6 weeks 2 days
Deadline for submission of stories: 8 weeks 3 days
Announcement of winners: 17 weeks 1 day

     Are you getting excited yet?  We still have a little bit of time left, but the end is in sight!
     I am still working on mine, and these final few weeks bring up a few new challenges.

1) The "Oh, no, this is a mess" challenge
     The deadline is approaching and your story is only halfway done.  Or it's completely written but has major plot holes.  The challenge here is NOT TO PANIC.  
     This is where SPINDLE was a week ago.  And it was not cooperating.  In all honesty, I wrote and rewrote a dozen times.  It was like pulling hens' teeth and I couldn't seem to get anywhere.  And then suddenly it just all smoothed out again.  I have absolutely no tricks to share because I'm not even sure what happened.  The only moral I can hand out is to keep working and praying, and don't panic.

2) The "I hate editing" challenge
     Your story is beautiful, and now it needs to be edited.  But which part?  How do you cut away the inferior without damaging the good?  I have two pieces of advice for this:
     One, save copies.  This contributed to my level of sanity during the editing process and occasionally came in very handy.  I save my completed draft as is.  Then I open a copy of it to chop away on.  This way I don't feel scared to make changes because I can always go back to the previous copy if this round of edits isn't working.
     Two, get some feedback.  Find a friend or a writing buddy who will read your story and tell you what they think of it.  I have a couple writing buddies who will read my story in exchange for me reading theirs, which is less expensive than a professional editor.  But it really helps to have someone outside your own head who can see the story with fresh eyes.  Sometimes their feedback acts as a confirmation, too, perhaps letting you know that the scene where Geraldine bakes a cake is just as beautiful as you thought it was. ;)

3) The "How do I know I'm ready" challenge
     I know very few people who do not struggle with this one.  You've poured weeks into your story, but the thought of letting it take wing is a scary one.  Once you click "send", you can't make any more changes before it is judged.  It's got to stand on its own merits.
     Some of you will be able to step back and judge objectively.  Your story is the best you can make it.  Or, at the very least, your story is the best you can make it in the time allotted.
     For some of us, we might have to settle on a deadline.  "I will make improvements to my story until _______ (fill in date) and then I will send it in."
     And really, for most of us, it will be a balance between making continuing improvements and settling on a deadline.
      And then you just have to trust.  And submit your story.  And trust some more.

4) The "How am I going to survive until March" challenge
     You've already sent your story in.  And it's been 5 whole hours.
     Yep.  I haven't submitted my story yet this year, but this is where I was last year.  I was counting down the days until the Announcement Day.  I wondered if anyone had read my story yet...and what they thought...and countless other things.
       How do you wait so long while your baby is on its own?
       Anne Elisabeth Stengl's posts were like lifelines.  While she never gave specifics about my story, she talked in general about the contest.  And it made me feel connected.
     Speaking of connected, interacting with other entrants makes a difference, too.  It's fun for me to think of my story sitting in a judge's inbox along with yours.
      And you'll settle into the wait.  Time goes very slow and then it goes quickly again...Until just before the contest is announced.  Then it goes slow again.
     Enjoy the ride. ;)
     Now I want to hear about your progress!!!  Where are you in your story writing?  Did you finish your first draft?  How is editing going? Have you sent your submission form yet or submitted your story?  Do you have any tips to share with the rest of us?  I am so grateful for friends who are writing in the same contest as I am!!!