Novel Update: Inspiration from C.S. Harris

I haven’t been blogging too much the past couple weeks because….

I’ve been EDITING…(and hiking and such for the Memorial Day weekend) and writing the first few pages of the second novel. Much of the work I have been doing is building better flow, building better suspense, and building better characterization and descriptions. The Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery series by C.S. Harris has been the inspiration I need! If you haven’t heard of or read this series you are missing outImage! A basic description of the series characterizes the main character, Sebastian as a cross between Mr. Darcy and James Bond. He is pretty much a crime fighting, murder solving English gentleman.  And there is a little touch of romance…always makes a book good! C.S. Harris is amazing at creating plot twists and adds lots of surprises that kept me turning the pages. She also describes the many people or places in her book with simple sentences…and exactly the right words.Basically her books are a fabulous read. 

I went pouring through my novel cutting out unnecessary sentences and paragraphs and making sure my characters were REAL. The last thing I want in the world is to have cheesy characters and just a plain boring book.

What am I working on today? Re-write of the first 30 pages. Those 30 pages have been my downfall. I want to make them…gripping…yet give the necessary information that sets up the story and gives a picture of the characters. Wish me luck!

What book or books have been helpful/inspirational to your writing?

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life story

life story

I love this.

If you are like me…you get easily lost in your writing. That’s OK. Get lost. Write on…fervently, passionately, with all your heart!

BUT….

The real story isn’t on our laptops or pieces of paper; the real story out there….waiting to be lived. Each person is writing the story of their life every single day. It is the most important story and greatest story we can ever hope to write. Don’t forget to LIVE life; live it fully, passionately and with lots of dreaming big…and you will be amazed at the stories you will have to tell….and write about.

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” -Muhammad Ali

My dear friend Zac is as practical and down to earth as they come. He looked at himself as just another average guy: average height, average looking, average life experiences. To me and my group of friends he was that subtle hilarious person that says the perfect one-liner at the right moment and gave advice like a sage of old. He was always a willing listener and would go to any movie with anyone…even chick flicks. With a successful job and the heart that treats every girl like a princess Zac was an extraordinary catch….but he didn’t even know it.

He had two best friends Tim, a fellow Star Wars and Volley ball enthusiast; and Sarah, well Sarah was the girl of his dreams. He and Sarah had known each other since they were children playing with barbie dolls and ninga turtles and mud. Over the years they had become closer and closer through countless hours and talking and laughing and blog writing. Sarah was beautiful with glossy light brown hair that was always well-styled and that ran past her shoulders; her eyes were small sea-green ovals that seemed to twinkle when she thought something was humorous. From many trips abroad and a Nikon DSLR camera she seemed so cool and so cultured to Zac. Where had he been that was cool? I mean, even the Air force couldn’t seem to help that out; he hoped to be sent to Hawaii or Florida or Germany…they sent him to Alabama! All said…Sarah was out of his league. Zac was certain Sarah never thought twice about romance with him….actually he was certain she never even thought once about it!

~

“You like Sarah, don’t you?” I asked Zac while sitting down over a cup bolba tea and a bottled water for him.

“She would NEVER think of me that way!” Zac said totally not answering the question. He scrunched his thick light brown eyebrows together and then took a long swing of his bottled water. I could tell he was deep in thought. He slid his long fingers through his buzz-cut ashen blond hair and bit his lip.

“I bet you are wrong! You guys get along so well; you run together, you see movies, you hike, you talk all the time…” I said and then took a sip of the Vanilla-rose flavored tea. I cringed a little as I drank it, wishing I hadn’t been to adventurous on my choice of beverage. Roses are delicious to smell not eat…or drink!

Zac shook his head and then waved his hand through the air, “It’s no big deal either, it’s just not like that between us! We are just great friends!” He said with nonchalant conviction. He took another drink of his water before saying, “I just can’t stand how Sarah doesn’t see how incredible she is! She told me on the phone that she thought she wasn’t that pretty and wondered why it was taking forever to find the right guy…” he shook his head distressed, “That is CRAZY! She is so beautiful. Any guy would be lucky to have her! And I know the man she gets will be amazing.”

I agreed with him.

~

Sarah glanced at herself once last time in the mirror. She curled her hair with a wide barrel curling iron that created waves a Victoria Secret Model would be envious of. Her brand new shirt from Express accentuated her slim and athletic build. She hoped Zac would notice. She had liked him for such a long time but she was about it just give up. A guy from the office was interested…very interested in her. He was sweet and kind too, maybe even perfect boyfriend material, but he just wasn’t Zac.

~

Zac’s silver jeep was immaculately clean and even though it was a year old it still had that new car smell. Sarah giggled at the thought of Zac owning a jeep of all vehicles when he hated things getting dirty. They were parked outside the Tinseltown Movie Theater with a good half-hour to blow before the next showing of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. A few snowflakes swirled in the frosty air outside. Zac burst open the driver’s door carrying a brown paper bag and two cups of coffee, a caramel macchiato for Sarah, black with one packet of sugar in the raw for him. The cold from outside instantly sucked out at least twenty degrees of heat making the car feel like a refrigerator box.

“Burr!” Zac exclaimed through clacking teeth as he handed Sarah the coffee. “I got it with extra foam and caramel…just like you like; even double checked it to make sure it was perfect.”

“Thank you! You are the best!” Sarah said clutching the drink in her hand. “And thanks for paying…”

Zac waved his hand and shook his head, “That’s what friends do.”

Sarah sighed as he said the word “friend”. He never would notice her, would he?

“Also, guess what else I got? A blue berry scone!” He said his eyes lighting up at the look of delight on her face. She looked simply stunning he thought.

“Yay!” She squealed opening the brown sack and reaching in to the divine goodness.

“You should feel very privileged too…because I would never let anyone else eat that crumb-maker in my car.” He laughed as he said it.

Sarah laughed and rolled her eyes, “I do, for a matter-of-fact.” They chatted back and forth moving effortlessly from one topic to the next. Finally Sarah’s love life came up.

“How about that guy at work; haven’t you gone on what? Four dates with him?” Zac asked with enthusiasm thinking of how he must be the friend Sarah needed.

Sarah stared down at the half-eaten scone that rested on a napkin on her legs. “I just don’t know about him. He’s nice and very gentlemanly to me but…” her words trailed off. She knew exactly why she didn’t want to start something with Jerry. She instead said, “There’s really no spark.”

“Sarah that’s great! What have I told you about the “spark”…its a scam…just a big lie!” Zac said even though he felt like he was on-fire, all-out twitter-pated when he was with Sarah.

“I know-he actually asked if I would be his girlfriend,”

“Really?”

Sarah nodded trying to read his expression. It wasn’t what she was hoping for. “You think I should just say yes then?”

Zac, using his fingers quickly pointed out the pros and cons Sarah had mentioned about Jerry. “So, what I am saying is you ought to give it a shot. If it doesn’t work out at least you tried right? And you don’t wanna pass up on a great guy.” As Zac said it he felt his soul screaming at him, begging him to just say, “No you shouldn’t date him…because I’m in love with you.” 

Sarah looked out the window so Zac wouldn’t see her eyes fill with tears. He really did think of her just as a friend. She pulled in a deep breath and said a solemn, “O-ok.”

~

Sarah married Jerry in May 2013. Zac couldn’t bring himself to go to the wedding.

~

My sister and Sarah got together with a few other friends for a girl’s night out. Sarah was so happy and so in love with her new husband Jerry. Her face glowed. Somehow the conversation turned to guys the girls had liked but things never worked out. Andrea suddenly asked Sarah, “Just out of curiosity, did you ever like Zac?”

Sarah nodded, “Oh my goodness, I was crazy about him! I liked him so much, he just never had those feelings for me.I finally gave up one day and ended up falling for Jerry!”

~

This was a true story.

~

A poem by John Greenleaf Whittier titled, “Maud Mary” has this powerful line at the end: “For all sad words of tongue or of pen, the saddest are these: “It might have been!” What’s worse than rejection?There are very few things..but regret…regret is worse. Take chances. Even though risks are risky…dare to risk.

The White Peacock: A Tragedy

The White Peacock: A Tragedy

I thought I would share a tragic story from my days of working at the zoo.

The zoo I worked at (for far too long) was a small zoo at the base of a mountain. I actually have seen wild bears running around and probably showing off their freedom to the bears the zoo owns. Once I had a close encounter with a wild bear at the zoo: SCARY! I am not a bear fan…when I was little I watched that “Grizzly Man” documentary and I have terrified of bears since! I will have to share my bear encounter experience one of these days. That being said, I have had many INTERESTING…and sometimes terrifying experiences at this zoo (and not all of them involved animals…haha).

My story begins with my usual search for “the right picture” at my current job. I came across this picture of a stunning white peacock which are considerably rare. As I looked at the picture memories of the sad incident from the zoo involving a white peacock popped into my mind.

Every zoo I have been too has brightly colored and glamorous peacocks roaming freely about the park; we have all seen them nibbling on left-over food, showing off their metallic feathers or sounding off their haunting calls. I think they may even roam freely at night as well…at the restaurant I worked at there was always a fresh smelly present from the peacocks outside of the front door in the mornings. About five years ago the zoo acquired a rare white peacock. He was beautiful and the way he strutted around the park he knew it. He also was the zoo keepers’ pride and joy.

Every zoo has a lion…every zoo. After The Lion King I think it became a requirement to have “Simba” and “Mufasa” (and besides lions are awesome). During my lunch break one day I decided to stop by the lion habitat; it was right by the main restaurant so I visited it often. As I looked at the lion family lazily basking in the sun I caught a glimpse of a white object on the overhang to the lion’s habitat. It was the white peacock himself. He was sifting through the thick vines that covered the overhang (which was a near impossible thing to get on to). He was flirting with death. For the next few weeks I caught him up on the overhang several more times. It seemed this peacock liked to live life on the edge….literally.

After having a few days off I returned back to work to find that the zoo keepers couldn’t seem to smile.
A fellow co-worker and friend, Matt raced over to me with wide eyes, “You won’t believe what happened yesterday.”
“What?” I asked alarmed. I could feel the depression in the air.
Matt went on to tell me the story: He had been on his lunch break and walked past the Lion’s Habitat to find a frantic crowd of people with their faces pressed up against the glass and their hands covering their dropped jaws.
“What’s go’n on?” Matt wondered and fought through the crowd of on-lookers.
“He’s about to fall in!” A woman shrieked and covered her face with her hands.
“What?!” Matt cried out and just as he got a glimpse into the habitat the white peacock leaped off of the overhang right into a circle of four lions. All Matt could do was watch in horror as white feathers started to fly.
Suddenly an older women grabbed Matt’s maroon shirt that had “Cheyenne Mountain Zoo” inscribed on it. “You work here!” She yelled. Matt started to explain to her that he just worked food service which was a totally different and separate part of the zoo.
The lady screamed ignoring everything he had said, “Jump in there and save that peacock!”
She squeezed his arm tightly and her eyes were filled with threats.
Of course, Matt wasn’t going to leap into the Lion’s Habitat…who did this lady think he was… Tarzan? Spider man? Lion Tamer?
“I’m not gonna jump in there! Are you crazy?” Matt said trying to brush off the women’s hook-like fingers. He looked back into the cage to find there was nothing left to even save…except maybe about twenty feathers.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The poor white peacock in all of his glittering glory was gone. It took the zoo keepers weeks to recover and smile again; yet, they have never gotten another white peacock. The lesson I learned that day is…look before you leap.

Only a writer would have this dream

Only a writer would have this dream.

Image

What a freaky tornado! They are so scary!
photo credit: Google images

Last night I had a dream that involved a tornado. Having a tornado in my dreams is no new thing. I have probably about two dreams every month where I am either running from a tornado or chasing a tornado or in a cellar hiding from a tornado. Hopefully this isn’t a premonition of my future. Last night’s dream was different. Here’s how it went:

I am in some brick house that I have no memory of seeing before, but I know it belongs to me. The house is in the middle of a huge golden field with trees behind it. My boyfriend and a few family members are with me in the house when the sky turns ominous looking. You can hear the wind pick up and start to make the windows shake and the house creek. I run outside and look at the black and gray sky; the clouds right over our house start spinning and I announce to everyone, “There’s gonna be a twister!” By the time everyone believes me the funnel cloud has touched the ground and is seconds away from blowing down the house. Magically we all make it into the basement. Before I know it the house lifts off of us and we are pretty much outside. After the storm we get up to find where the house “blew” to. It landed partially on some guy’s house about a quarter mile away. The man is waving is arms, furious that we let our house land on his. Suddenly I grab my boyfriend’s arm and say, “My laptop! All of my book is on there! No no no!” I start to frantically search for my laptop knowing that my entire manuscript of 95,000 words might be lost. I am throwing aside splintered wood and bricks and broken chairs and tables…then I spot it! It’s my trusty black laptop case I got one Christmas from my Dad. (side note, my laptop is enormous; I actually hate how big it is because it is SO HEAVY. When you pick it up you feel like you are lugging around a few bricks. Note to self, next laptop will be a lot smaller!) Relieved, I dash over to the case only to find that it is empty. No giant laptop. No flash drive. No manuscript. Like in the movies I crumble to my knees, fling my head back towards the sky, raise my hands in the air and cry out in anguish, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

At the moment when all hope is lost I see my laptop a few feet away with practically a halo of light glowing around it. Triumphant music plays. I rush over to it, clasp it in my arms and jump for joy. I do not care that my entire house and all possessions are smashed and broken or just gone. My manuscript, my precious novel is still alive and that is all that matters.

Yup. Definitely a dream only a writer would have.

Has anyone else had a devastating dream that your manuscript was destroyed or lost?