Tuesday, October 31, 2017

NaNoWriMo Time

It's that time of year again already! I'm participating in NaNoWriMo for sort of the third year in a row, but really it's only my second time. The idea is that you write a rough draft of a brand new novel in November. Last year I began the 2nd draft of Pieces, which I wrote during 2015 NaNo. This year I'll be doing another new one, an idea that only just came to me in August. Usually my ideas marinate in my head for several years before I put them to paper, so we'll see how this goes.

Here's what I'll be writing this year:

Speculative lgbtq romance that takes place over the course of 30+ years. 
25 yo Vera is a wild, free-spirited bisexual writer who is celebrating one year of sobriety. She just moved to Bloomington with her best friend, savior, and sponsor, Stuart, who is starting medical school. Estranged from her family due to tragedy, Stuart is all Vera has. She spends time on campus, working on her first novel. 
18 yo Ember is the daughter of a white man and a black woman. Plagued by the question "what are you?" her whole life, she feels like she doesn't belong. Add that to the fact that she is an artist living in a family of intellectuals, and a closet lesbian, she doesn't know who she is or where she fits.  She is attending IU Bloomington and majoring in business, though it isn't what she wants. She pursues her art and sticks to herself. 
Ember and Vera witness a horrifying and uncanny murder on campus. Both women are drawn to the scene of the crime. Vera is writing a horror novel: she likes the ambience. Vera also likes the place to go and think. Stuart has unexpectedly relapsed, and Vera doesn't know how to help him. Ember likes the quiet of the place: most of the other students stay away. The two women meet and bond, sharing their lives with one another and falling in love. The more they get to know one another, they begin to realize that things they thought were quirks, might be more than that. Vera starts to realize that something isn't right: about Stuart's relapse or about Ember. 
The women are forced to make a painful decision that may affect the future of their relationship, and Stuart's life. 
And here's a little collage I put together in order to stop myself from cheating and starting early. 

If you're also a NaNo person, find me on the site here: https://nanowrimo.org/participants/becky9637
Happy writing! 

Happy Halloween!

More Halloween Poetry


The line is moving too fast.
  How happy you would be to wait forever rather than
    Enter this fabled mansion of ghostly horrors.

              Moving forward, you take the step that leads you
            Over a threshold where spine-tingling terrors await.
          Not knowing what’s to come is half the fun.
        Sanguine lights glimmer and glow and
      Trepidation fills your heart as it unites itself with the beating drums of hell.
    Exploring halls that fork and twine, you search until you find a nook in which to hide.
  Resting inside, you chuckle at your own fear until your chortles are choked by
Skeletal hands around your throat.

Instinct brings you strength and you crush your boney captors into dust.
  No more skeletons in this closet. No more, no more.

    Trembling legs carry you forward.
  Hellbound you go, though you don’t want to know what else is in this show.
Empty holes and hollow spaces begin to fill with the devils of your nightmares.

Heaven might lie in front of you.
  Angry blood courses through your veins as your blind eyes smash you into solid wall.
    Uneven terrain stretches to the starless sky; swallowing you,
      Never to spit you out again.
        The cold damp walls open to your outstretched hands,
          Entreating you to come forward, so you
            Double your speed with an intense need to leave.

        Heavy footfalls reverberate behind you, but it’s the
      Open grave that causes you to lose your footing.
    Underneath you lies empty eye sockets and
  Shriveled skin. Screams escape you only to
Echo off the hollow walls of your oubliette.

Ashes cling to your hands and knees as you crawl,
  Reaching your way upwards to the top and you vow to
    End this night of lies and broken promises.

                          Moving in circles you search for the entrance.
                        At least you know what lies behind.
                      Nothing is worse than not knowing what is to come.
                    Infinite possibilities of perilous pain lie ahead.
                  Fear is what those who taunt you with their laughter came for, but
                Escape is all you
              Seek as you
            Tell yourself you should never have entered this cursed place.
          Alas, the pain of the past is better than
        The uncertainty of the future.
      Illusions. Only illusions, you tell yourself
    Of the unfamiliar shadows you traverse.
  Nothing looks quite the same, but
Surely you turned back; surely you are on the right path.

Over discarded bones of broken souls you step,
  Feet treading carefully in fear of falling once more.

      You grasp what is masked as a doorknob,
    Only in your hands rests a still beating heart that pumps blood
  Unto the floor, pooling at your feet,
Reigniting your desire for escape.

Obscenely, the heart continues to beat,
  Willing you to relive the breakage it’s suffered.
    Never again, you swear, and run towards fresh air.

          Doors pass you by, doors that lead to the triumphant light at the end, and
        Emptiness sinks into your heart as you come to the entrance and find yourself alone.
      Madness was on that path you say, madness and sadness and nothing but badness.
    Outside again, it doesn’t look as it once did.
  Never, you whisper with lips that tremble as the truth begins to break you apart:
Surrender to the unknown, or forever suffer this endless twisted spiral of suffering.                        



Sunday, October 29, 2017

It's finished!

This post is a wee bit late. I have finished the 3rd draft of Pieces. Yay!

This is super exciting. In case anyone missed the news, Pieces is a literary mystery with paranormal elements, and it's "the one." Some authors say you shouldn't bank on having "the one." But I have it. It's Pieces. For the 3rd draft, I took into account most of the feedback I got on the 2nd draft from my wonderful Writ & Art group. I have found 4 new beta readers, two of which are my experts: an Army vet and a psychotherapist.

I was hoping that I wouldn't have to do more than 3 drafts, but there will definitely need to be a polish/edit once I get their feedback. I'll probably name the file 4th draft, but I should be able to do it very quickly, unless I totally effed up the military stuff, in which case I'm screwed. But I don't think I did. My wonderful Writ & Art group will be reading the "4th and please for the love of god let it be the final" draft.

The thing I'm still worried about (of course) is the freaking word count. Word counts are the bane of my existence.

At 135k words, it's still way too long. I'm not sure what to do about this. I love all of it. I have already trimmed most of the fat, though there may still be some hidden fat to trim here and there. We'll see, but I don't want to compromise what it is to make it fit the standards of today's novel. Today's novel is short. I blame the internet and shortened attention spans.

I'm excited to hear what people have to say. And nervous. But it's also almost November, which means I'll have a wee bit of something to distract me from thinking about Pieces.

More updates later.

Psst! Like me on FB!

The Dragon's Lair

Continuing the horror stories and poetry up until Halloween! Enjoy!     

The Dragon's Lair

The Dragon’s Lair wasn’t a fitting name for a coffee house. A tattoo parlor maybe, or a strip club, but a coffee house? It just didn’t fit, but at least it was somewhere that James could get some writing done since his apartment was hostile territory. Lauren had seen to that.
     She’d ripped his heart out. Everything had been going fine. James had been thinking of proposing. At least he hadn’t bought the ring yet. The icing on the cake was that they still had six months on their lease and neither of them had the money to end it early, so they were forced to keep living together. It was hell. Even when Lauren was at work the apartment was suffocating; he could feel her presence everywhere. He couldn’t write in that environment.
     First he’d tried the library, but it was deader than a cemetery. He didn’t know how a man who loved books could hate a library, but he did. The place had a vampiric energy to it—it sucked the life out of him, and he didn’t have much life left to spare. After the library he’d tried Starbucks, but if the library was vampiric than the Starbucks was Stepford—he figured if he ordered too many coffees he might feel compelled to go out and get a nine to five job and buy a minivan.  
     If he hadn’t discovered the Dragon’s Lair he might’ve just given up on finishing his novel. He’d found it the previous day while driving around. An accident on the main road had forced him to turn into a shopping center. He’d driven around to the back, hoping to take a side road, and spotted it. James had never been anywhere like it. He’d gotten hours of writing done, and the owner—an intriguingly beautiful woman named Sari—had served as a bonus.  
     Entering The Dragon’s Lair was like stepping into—well, a dragon’s lair. The walls were painted a bright red; combined with the many windows it created a strange contrast of light and dark. As he walked to the counter he glanced at the table he already thought of as his favorite, disappointed to find it occupied. It was in the corner and provided the perfect view for people-watching—James’s default activity when he hit writer’s block.
     At the counter he smiled at Sari, who gave him a broad smile in return. Sari was as fitting a name for her as The Dragon’s lair was to a coffee shop. To James, a Sari should be petite and pixie-like. This woman was anything but. She was tall for a woman, hell she was tall for a man—she was at least a couple inches taller than James’s 6’1”.
     Sari’s large, muscular body was a canvas. Though James had spent plenty of time staring at her many tattoos the previous day, he found himself doing so again. Her hands and arms were covered, as was her chest up to her collarbone. They were all dragons. There must’ve been hundreds of them: large, small, detailed, simple . . . Some were woven into the wings and bodies of other dragons. Some were drawn into the fire coming out of the mouths of others. Finding them was like a puzzle, one that James waned to solve.
     “Didn’t you get a good enough look enough yesterday?” she asked.
     He leaned over the counter and gave her his special smile—the one that had gotten Lauren into bed on their second date. “Oh no, not nearly good enough.” A wave of guilt overcame him and he stepped back. A second later he reminded himself that he was single again; he was allowed to flirt.
     “What’ll it be?” she asked.
     “Coffee. Large.”
     “Is that all?”
     “Yeah. None of that fancy shit,” he said.
     That earned him another smile just before she turned to pour the coffee. He admired her tight jeans, this time ignoring the guilt. When she turned back she set the cup down with a wink and tossed her vivid hair over her shoulder. He blinked, waiting for the afterimages to pass. Staring at her hair was like dropping acid and looking at one of those posters with the swirls of color. Not that James had ever done that—well not since he was a teenager anyway. Sari’s hair, which was a mix of red, green, and purple made him feel as though he was on LSD. It wasn’t an unwelcome feeling.
     “I think I’m going to write you into my book,” he said.
     “Is that a compliment?”
     “For you? Yes.”
     “In that case, I’m intrigued,” she said, her black eyes sparkling with interest. For a moment he was lost in their depths; he felt like he was falling. Suddenly he was afraid, though of what he didn’t know. His heart pounded and he had the urge to turn and leave when someone behind him cleared her throat.
     “Hey, are you gonna pay for that? Some of us are waiting.”
     James glanced briefly at the woman behind him. “Sorry,” he said. He turned back to Sari, feeling stupid. The moment was broken; whatever he’d been afraid of had passed.
     Sari’s dark eyes drilled a hole in him, as if she knew what he was feeling. “That’ll be $2.45, and you get a free refill.”
     He handed her the money, watching her large hands as she did. He let his imagination wander to the things she could do with those long fingers. When she handed him his change her fingers brushed his; her skin was rougher than it looked, adding a note of realism to his fantasies. Rough hands meant they got a lot of use and he liked that idea.
     He gave her a tip that was larger than necessary for simply having poured a cup of coffee.
     “Thank you,” she said.
     “Anytime.” He flashed her that smile again before walking away. His earlier annoyance returned when he saw that his table was still occupied. He gave the table thief—an older man with a gray beard—a long hard glare before sitting down across from him, where he would be well positioned to continue to stare. Maybe he could intimidate the man into moving. James continued to stare at the man until he realized his efforts were completely futile. The guy was clearly a writer, which meant he possessed an uncanny ability to shut out the entire world.
     James sighed and turned around, resigning himself to dealing with a subpar table. Pulling his laptop out, he opened up the document and set to work. He was on the second draft of his first novel. There were only a few more chapters left to go, but since the breakup it felt like someone had poured tar in his brain. That someone was Lauren.
     He sipped his coffee, pushing Lauren from his head and focusing on the fantasy world he’d created. His fingers danced across the keyboard, but not nearly as fast as he would’ve liked. They were clumsy, not deft like they used to be. Still, something was better than nothing. He sipped and typed, glancing behind him every few minutes in the hopes that his table had freed up, but it hadn’t.
     He wrote a few more paragraphs, finished his coffee, and got up for a refill. Another round of flirting with Sari perked up his mood. When he returned he found that the corner table, his table, was empty. At first he was happy until a voice in the back of his mind whispered: wrong. His stomach churned and he was suddenly lightheaded. It was wrong, that empty table. Just before he’d gotten up, it had been occupied by a man who hadn’t looked he would be moving anytime soon. Now it was empty. James hadn’t seen the man get up. There you go again, letting your imagination run wild.
    Feeling stupid, he set his coffee on the corner table, gathered his laptop and backpack, and carried them over. Once he was settled his fingers flew over the keyboard, barely keeping up with the ideas that popped into his head. When he got up for his third cup of coffee he barely even paid attention to what Sari said. He drained his fourth cup just as he finished the epilogue. There was editing to be done—a lot of it—but he was finished. He felt like dancing.
     He should be tired, but he wasn’t. He might as well get started on the edits. Within minutes he was lost in his story again. It had been ages since he’d gotten so much done, and it felt good. Hell, it felt amazing. He was so lost in the world he’d created that he didn’t notice the table and chair were moving.
     “Another perfectionist. I should’ve known,” Sari said.
     “What?” he muttered. As much as James enjoyed flirting with Sari, he wasn’t in the mood anymore; he was in the zone.
     When she didn’t answer he looked up and gasped. He wasn’t in The Dragon’s Lair anymore. He was still sitting at his table—the precious table he’d wanted so badly—but the rest of the shop was gone. There was no other furniture in the room, no windows. There was nothing but red walls and gray cement floors. Sari stood in front of his table, towering above him.      
     “What the hell? Where am I?”
     Sari smiled, opening her mouth in a way she hadn’t before, revealing sharp, pointy teeth. “Welcome to my lair, James.”
     He felt like he was missing something, but he was suddenly too light-headed to think clearly. “What’s going on?”
     She took a step closer. “It’s okay. It’s only the basement, James. Your table’s an elevator.”
     “An elevator?” He couldn’t wrap his mind around it. Her image blurred in front of him. There were two of her and he struggled to focus, but his brain kept trying to think about his novel and the edits he’d been working on. Think, James!
     “I love a focused man,” Sari said, dreamily. “A war could’ve been going on outside and you wouldn’t have noticed.”
     “What did you do? What are you?” He couldn’t think straight. The walls, those horrible bright red walls were moving. No, the walls weren’t moving, but something on them was. The paint. The red paint. It was dripping, oozing, moving down.
     Sari’s smile widened, showing more of those perfectly pointed teeth. “You really haven’t figured that out yet?”
     “What kind of a sick joke is this?” It wasn’t a joke at all; she’d drugged him. That had to be it. He looked in the empty coffee cup, as if that would give him a clue. But the clue wasn’t in the cup—it was in that wild, rainbow hair. “Did you give me LSD?”
     She laughed. “Something like that. It’s my venom. It helps you focus and keeps you calm. Don’t worry, it’ll take the pain away.”
     She nodded. “Trust me. You’ll be thanking me.” She took a step back, pulled her tank top over her head, and tossed it on the floor. Okay, now he was definitely hallucinating, but wow, what a hallucination. Calm and casual as can be, she unzipped her jeans and slipped them off. “I always take them off first. Otherwise, they rip,” she said in answer to his puzzled look, though this really wasn’t an explanation at all.
     God help him, he was still attracted to her. He should be making a run for it, not that there was anywhere to run to. He didn’t see a door, and even if he did, he wouldn’t make it around Sari. She was too big. Had she gotten bigger? It seemed as though she had. She took up nearly every inch of space in the room.
     Crazy or not, she was captivating. He’d been right: she had more tattoos. Her stomach, chest, breasts, legs—pretty much every inch of her exposed skin was covered in ink. The ink depicted dragons. Dragons, he thought, understanding dawning on him
     “Venom. My god, you psycho, you think you’re a dragon,” he said with a laugh. It was a crazed laugh. It was the laugh of a man who knew he was doomed.
     “Oh, is that what I think?” She moved closer, her tail swishing behind her as she did. Wait—her tail? James tilted his head and looked and yes, she did indeed have a tail. It took up the entire length of the floor. It was covered in scales of greens, blues, and reds, all kinds of colors and if James were a dragon himself he would want to take Sari to bed. Or to the pile of gold. Did dragons do it on top of their treasure?
     He wasn’t thinking straight. That would be the LSD, which was making him see a tail, because surely this woman did not have a tail. She was not a dragon. Nor did she have scales, though that’s what her tattoos looked like: scales. Her body was covered in scales.
     Sari moved forward and reached with clawed hands for his laptop. “No!” He made to grab it, but he couldn’t move.
    “Did I mention that my venom is paralytic?” she asked. “But don’t worry, your story is safe.” With a delicacy he wouldn’t have thought possible with her huge hands (claws?) she lifted his laptop, closed it, and carried it to the far corner of the room where she gently laid it on the floor. “I can’t say the same about you,” she said, moving toward him again.
     Panicking, James shouted, “I’m not a virgin!”
     Sari laughed, a harsh sound that was like boulders falling down a mountain. Her body rumbled with it, shaking the entire room. Her hair—a wash of colors—swayed around her head. Since when did dragons have hair? As James watched her, he realized her hair continued to move and that it wasn’t hair at all—it was fire. The flames danced atop Sari’s head. The sight was magnificent. “I hate stereotypes. Not all dragons want virgins. My tastes are a little different.”
     He glanced at the man tied up on the floor, the truth dawning on him. “Y-you’re kidding. You have a taste for writers?”
     She nodded and came closer, shoving the table aside.
     “But I’m not any good,” he said in one last attempt to get her away from him.
     She pressed against him, on top of him now. Her large body should’ve crushed him, but it didn’t. “Yes, you are. Like some dragons can smell virgins, I can smell talent. I want yours.”
     “I don’t have any treasure. Trust me, you don’t want old that thing. It’s a relic,” he said, nodding in the direction of his laptop, though Sari’s large body—which was now entirely reptilian—was blocking it.
     “The laptop isn’t the treasure. It’s what’s on the laptop.” Sari’s voice was muffled, probably because her mouth was buried in his arm. She was right: her venom did take the pain away. Hell, it was pleasant. He almost didn’t know he was being eaten.
     “You—you’re a dragon with a taste for writers and your treasure is stories.” He leaned back and closed his eyes as she breathed a gust of fire on him—apparently she liked her meat cooked. The warmth was pleasant after the air-conditioned coffee shop.
     “Yes. You’re a talker, has anyone ever told you that? But it’s been awhile since I’ve had a chat over dinner. It’s nice,” she said, spraying bits of food as she spoke. She slurped up a mouthful of blood to wash down his flesh.
     “Good. What kind of a dragon name is Sari?” he asked, feeling sleepy.
     “It’s actually Sarikyvalixaxblskyginami. But you can keep calling me Sari, for as long you’ll be calling me anything.” She’d moved down to his stomach, and it was true that he wasn’t likely to be calling her anything for much longer.
     “Sari, this isn’t real,” he mumbled.
     “Isn’t it?” she asked.
     He didn’t know, and maybe he didn’t care. Her venom took care of the physical pain, but not the pain in his heart. That was still there. But hey, he’d finished his novel, and even better, someone wanted it. And just like he’d said, he’d written Sari into it. If only he’d been able to foresee the ending.