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1. The Black Beast

La Bête Noire
(The Black Beast)

Firelight plays across your face. For a moment, maybe, there’s a gentleness I haven’t seen, not since long ago. Time and space have ceased for us. We lay entwined, your hands in my hair, my hand on your chest. And I weep. Such bitter tears of anguish fall from my eyes.

Your eyes are still hidden though. So deep. In the shadows. There was a time when I could see past it all. I could see eternity. But now… That darkness is never ending. It’s forever.
My finger to my lips, I lean forward.

“Shh,” I say. “Can you hear that? …It’s coming… It’s coming for me.”

A slight breeze brushes a strand of hair across my cheek. I push it back. I tuck it behind my ear.

You don’t understand. Not any of it.

You can’t hear what I hear.

A thousand times, I've said I’m sorry. A thousand more I’ll say it.

But it won’t matter. Not now.

It’s coming.

It’s coming for me.

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2. It just might be a good thing

When I was a kid anyone could hit me and I’d take it. I could get called hateful, mean things and I’d produce copious amounts of tears for their enjoyment. I had no defenses and I had no way of knowing how to even build a half-wall around myself. I took every hit, physically, emotionally. It didn’t matter. I learned to lay down early as that kept the pain to a minimum. That was who I was. And even though I walked in the shadows as much as possible, being this way always attracted those who were looking for easy targets. In the end, I paid a high price for my sin of being a doormat.

I was around 22 years old and it was somewhere around the birth of my second child that I learned to fight back. There were a lot of obstacles surrounding the pregnancy and birth. I was forced to make decisions I never imagined I’d have to make. In the end, a fighter was born. And that fighter was me.

If you hurt me, I’m gonna hurt you back. Punch me and I’m gonna slam my fist in your face. Knock me out and I’ll eventually come to, find you, and retaliate in equal form.

I don’t go out looking for fights or revenge. I don’t feel as though anyone that has hurt me deserves worse than what they gave me. My actions are spurred on by the knee-jerk reflex, the pump of my adrenaline, the “fight” option from the flight or fight response.

This is who I am today. And it isn’t a bad thing to be. It’s pushed me to be the woman I am. The writer I am. The mother I am. It’s enabled me to fight for my kids, my beliefs, my right to love my God, and my dreams.

So if you’re ever wondering if people really can change, this is your proof. We can and we should. We should grow in some way every day of our lives. If we don’t, we become stale and stagnant. We begin to reek of regret and confusion. We’re left behind because we refuse to move forward and the rules of the universe won’t allow our loved ones to carry us.

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3. You Can't Take It Back

You Can't Take It Back

Of all the souls to touch my life, I never imagined you’d be the one to shatter me.
But you did.
And you can’t take it back.
I shouldn’t keep you.
Into the darkness I run. Into my shadows.
I sit, my knees pulled to my chest.
My fingertips trail across my blade.
I want to die.
I want to end it all tonight.
My demon crouches low, breath putrid, teeth dripping acid, his claws coated crimson with my blood. He laughs, satisfied to have me all to himself once again.
“Such splendid carnage he’s made of you,” he says. “All mine now.”
I bury my head in my hands. My eyes weep betrayal. I breathe in deep. There’s no point to this. No end. I’d die to have you know every inch of me.
But it makes no difference.
When I bleed, I only bleed for me.
I can never kill the pain. Nothing stops the craving for my grave.
Confusion swarms my head while mayflies rip at my flesh.
I’ve been lost down this road for so long.
Exhausted.
Broken.
I’m jagged, little shards of my wrecked soul dropping with each step. Even those breadcrumbs won’t help me find my way home.
There’s a part of you I wish I could reach.
A part you think I shouldn’t know.
I tried to scrape together a shelter. Mud and clay. Pieces of bluegrass shot through. You tore it down, crept forward, your hand reaching for me. You made me believe. Made me think I could break free.
Now I lay here, stripped bare, shivering and cold. Your breath still fills the air. Your fingertips still hum across my skin. Fragments of what I could have been float above me. I close my eyes.
When did I become so unimportant, so insignificant?
I know you wish I could let go. In a moment, it will all fade. In a moment, I’ll struggle to speak. I’ll struggle to stand. Maybe someday you’ll forgive me. Maybe someday you’ll understand I’m loving you the only way I can.

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4. What I Aspire To

I'm sure I heard this prayer several times while growing up, but it wasn't until around 1 year or so ago that I read through it and felt like it spoke to me. Since then I've tried my best to work toward the goals in this prayer. In just working at it, it's changed my life for the better in more ways than I can count. It's made me smile more, laugh more, love easier and gain a personal confidence I didn't know was possible. I thought, "Why not share it?"



Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury,pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.



O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen



It seems if I recall my massive mind library of music right that Sarah McLachlan set this prayer to some beautiful music, on the off chance you wanted to know this. ;-)

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5. Lovers' Spats (Panthan's Abyss)

Today's excerpt is from my young adult paranormal Panthan's Abyss, which is a work in progress still.

*Spoiler Alert* 

If you're waiting for this book's release and don't want to read any possible spoilers then pass by this one, please.

Characters: Laura and Grayson

Past tense told in 3rd person from Laura's point of view for this scene.

 

The mouth let out a moan and she covered it with her palm.  The vessel was in pain.  She could stop pain.  She was supposed to stop pain.  Using her free hand, she wrapped its bare neck, releasing her endorphins to seep through its skin and into its bloodstream. 

No longer hurting, it fell silent.  She wrapped her legs around the waist and sucked in another mouthful.  And another.  It took five deep pulls before the legs gave way.  They tumbled to the dirt and she let out a chuckle.  From now on, she would take all her vessels standing because she’d liked the rush of the fall.  

This one was full of blood and she had been starving.  Her chest rested against its ribs.  Her heartbeat was rapid, the vessel’s faint.  Hot breath oozed across her hand, still covering its mouth.  Soon, though, the breath grew weak as well.  The heart sputtered to a stop, the steady stream of blood on her tongue flagging.  She sucked harder, trying to pull every ounce of the liquid velvet into her.

It was then she was yanked away, some unseen and unknown force snapping her from her kill.  She came up hissing, her claws slicing through empty air.  As she kicked, her feet found something solid so she had at it once more, whatever it was.  A grunt muddled through her foggy hearing.

 “No!” Gray yelled.  “No, you can’t!”

She was shoved against the wall, crumbles of dirt spewing in every direction.  She threw a hand up, ready to slash his face, but midair caught his growl as one of her own diamond blades stabbed the middle of her palm.  Fiery pain zapped across her hand and up her forearm.  She slammed her head back, tasting gritty soil as she let loose a high-pitched scream.

Using her only free hand, she twisted, yanked the dagger loose, and dropped it to the ground.  “My God, you’ll pay for that,” she gritted out between her front teeth.

Grayson snarled in return, ready to lunge, but she never gave him a chance.  With both hands, she attacked, picking him up and tossing him across the passageway.  He crashed into one of the wooden braces, knocking it in half, but took no notice as he rolled from the raining dirt and lunged for her again.

Prepared, she spread her legs for balance and waited.  As he neared, she threw out a punch.  It landed hard and sharp across his cheek.  He stumbled, but righted in seconds, swinging his leg around.  She ducked under the kick.  A stupid move on her part, because the instant she popped up, he clamped both her wrists and shoved her hard into the wall between two braces.  Like lightning, he drove a dagger into each palm, nailing her solidly against the wooden columns.

“No…No!” she cried.  “Don’t you understand?  You’re not real.  None of this is real.  And I am nothing.”  She laughed, twisting in her painful hold.  “Do you know what they used to say?  They used to say you were mutations.  A government experiment gone wrong.  Science.  There was no God in their equation.  No Satan.  And I believed them.  We all did.”

He stood before her, huffing, tears streaking down his filthy face.  “You fed from him.”  He leaned over, resting his opened palm against his thigh.  With his other hand, he pointed at her.  “You fed from him.  Took his lifebl

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6. Lovers' Spats (Pieces of Me)

Jealousy and the fear and pain of loss. Today's excerpt is from my young adult novel Pieces of Me, which is currently undergoing reconstruction.

Characters: Aspen and Jason

Past tense told in first person by Aspen

 

A dozen thoughts buzzed through my brain as I stared at her, beginning with an image of myself smashing one of those heavy vases over her auburn head.  Somewhere in the middle were the words, “He’s mine,” said with an animal like growl.  At the end, she had a bloody nose and a few missing teeth.

 Only problem was he’d ignored my texts all day.  In addition, Terry’s visitation was not the place to deal with these things.  I turned away, going to the guest book set up in the corner.

 Throughout the evening, I tried to catch Jason’s eye.  He refused to look at me.  When I finally built up enough courage to approach him, he replied to my condolences in a monotone consisting of two flat syllables, “Thank you.”

 India smirked at me with her eyes.  Until she did it I would’ve thought the action impossible, but I knew better now.  Besides, wasn’t there such a thing as laughing eyes?

 I was crushed, confused, and in tears by the time Dad and I left.

 Still, I wasn’t going to give up on Jason or my vow to make sure he knew I was there for him.  By eleven-thirty, I’d repeated my performance of the night before and arrived around the corner of Jason’s street.

 I flipped open my phone for the umpteenth time, but he hadn’t replied to me.  Is this where we ended?  Was she in there with him?  Had she convinced him he didn’t need me?  Had he ever even cared about me in the first place?

 With so many questions spinning in my head, I thought I’d go crazy.  My hands shaking, I dragged my hair back from my face, yanking hard at it, as if I could jerk all those insane thoughts right out of my head.

 But they weren’t insane, were they? 

 They had to be.  He couldn’t be telling me it was over.  I didn’t believe him.

 I yanked on my handle and hopped onto the sidewalk.  I shoved at the door, but then caught it with a quiet, “Oh,” as I remembered the time.  I wasn’t supposed to be here.

 I tiptoed down the sidewalk, up his driveway, and to his window.  Once again, I sent him a text.  I stood there, shivering, waiting, my phone open in my hand.

 It vibrated and lit up.

 
Jason: U need 2 go home

Aspen: No.  Let me in.

Jason: not 2nite

Aspen:  Y?

Jason: jus go home.  I’ll talk 2 u tmorow

Aspen: I’ll jus sleep out here then.  I’m not leaving.

Jason: fine.  U do that.

Aspen: I will!

 

I sank to my butt against the brick wall.  A few minutes later, I dug out my gloves and put them on.  I didn’t care what he said or thought.  No, I did.  He needed to remember that we were in this together.

 He also just had to come to the understanding that I was fighting for my fairytale ending here.  I wasn’t going to stand by and watch him fall.

 I pulled my phone from my pocket.

 Aspen: jus so u know, I’m still here.

 He didn’t answer.  I curled up on my side underneath his window.  It was freakin’ cold out.  My nose started running.  I rubbed my glove underneath it.

 It wasn’t below freezing.  I couldn’t die out here.  Besides, I was shaking all over and that was a good sign.

I checked my phone.  Thirty minutes had passed.

 

Aspen: still here

Jason:  I don

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7. Lovers' Spats (The Souls of the Fey)

I guess on the outside people always see something different than the true person who is inside. This is also true of couples. I get asked every once in awhile about arguments between my characters. "How do you write them? You and your husband seem to get along so well."

True, we do get along for the most part, but of course we argue. lol As all writers and artists know, inspiration comes from everywhere. I use past situations of my own or I'll catch an argument out in public and cast my own story with my own characters into the roles. Love scenes are awesome, but when I edit I find myself the most intrigued by the lovers' spats. So I thought I'd use the following week to post some of those on my blog each day, just for the entertainment value. Feel free to play along on your own blog if you'd like. I enjoy reading them!

My first scene is from The Souls of the Fey between my characters Sarah and Asku. The language is a little older than my YA novels and you'll probably find this book has more romance and heat in the scenes than my others. I guess I was just feeling the sharp claws of love when I wrote it. ;-)



He crooked a finger. "Come, let's have it out, and be done with it."

She turned away, but he yanked her around to face him. "You never did give a damn about me, did you?" she asked.

"Stop that."  He shook his head sadly. "Even now, to look at you feels wrong."

"Why? Because I'm not what you want."

"Wanting and needing are different things."

"I know that."

"Do you?" He raised his brow. "Tell me what you want of me and then tell me what you need of me."

She fell silent. Was there a difference in her mind between the two? She wanted him as much as she needed him, didn't she?

"The hate. Let's start there," he said softly.

With a jerk, she pulled from him. He caught every crumb of her emotions. "You take. And when you do, you take everything of me. I have nothing left so I go numb. No, I hate, for I don't want to feel anything. Then I start a fight because I need you to feel something. You've built walls all around you and I thought I could break through them, that I would be the one to pull down the gray, but it's not so. You're only cold and untouchable and not mine."

He took her arm again, squeezed. "I will always be yours. But until you can feel without a shove, I am untouchable. And you can hate me until hell freezes over if it makes you feel something."

"Hell has frozen over," she spat out. "It stands before me, rigid, and I'm the one shattered."

"I am not what you need, Sarah." He shook her arm, making her look at him. "I am not what you need. I will always be a part of that nightmare and when it ends, if I were to stand before you still, husband, lover, you would hate me far worse than you do now. And your hate would grow, a corrupt vine, choking any love I had for you."

He laid his hand gently on her cheek. "We are not meant to be. Not like that."

"Then how are we meant to be? What is there here for us?"

"Friendship," he said. "If I could take back what I did, I would, but only because it was wrong and selfish and very unmanly. I don't want to take it back though, for it was what I wanted. Yet certainly not what either one of us needed. Can you deny that? Can you tell me what passed between us does not link into the shame of that day? I am nothing more to you than the good side of death and violence. A memory you can look upon, for your husband's turns into a nightmare."

He flicked the ruffled lace at her throat. "This black? Who do you mourn for, Sarah? Your husband or yourself?"

&quo

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8. My letter to you (A Mother's Day Post)

In my mind, Mother’s Day celebrates not only moms, but also womanhood. I’d love to write a letter honoring all the moms across the globe, but I’m a YA author. My true heart will always be with my teens, and some of them will be moms one day. All will be women. So this is my letter to them.


To all my girls:

I used to be you, which is the very reason you can trust what I’m about to say.

I promise you with all that makes me who I am that everything you feel is very real and very important. The world ignores you. I know it does. You’re heartbroken. I feel it. Your love was real. How could anybody ever doubt your heart? Every day, your mirror proves your every flaw. This hurts so much. You’re angry. I get it. You don’t know why you yell. You don’t know why you do anything. You don't have to know why you're feeling anything. Always searching, so cold, so lonely, looking for someone to understand your pain. I know how unbearable it is sometimes. The teachers overlook you, accuse you, misunderstand you. I know they do.

You don’t want to go to school, don’t want to face the world. Nobody listens. You’re confused. Sometimes you want to hurt yourself. Sometimes you want to hurt your friends. You mess up everything you touch. You’re hated. Everybody stares. You’re too fat. Too thin. Eyes too small. Too big. You’re not smart enough, not good enough. You hide behind a smile, but at night when you’re all alone… you cry, and sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can’t make the tears stop.

I’ve wished so many times that I could take this nightmare world away for you.

You drop things, forget things. You trip. You’re laughed at. You want to be the best at something, but you’re an epic fail at everything. You keep getting told none of this is a big deal.

I’m telling you, they're completely wrong. It’s the biggest deal in the world. It was once my world and now it’s your world. It's a big deal. But you have a deeper layer, something I didn't have.

You’re numb. Heartache and death are common to you.

You’re being raised in a warzone. Our soldiers have always been across the oceans. Screaming matches erupt all around you, each person swearing their way is best. Your parents, news reporters, teachers, and church leaders all fight with one another. They fight over you. They fight over their war. They fight over their husbands, their wives. Anger and hatred flood your computer and TV screens right next to death and blood. You’ve lost fathers, moms, cousins and friends. You watch coffins come home, the funerals protested with more hate and anger as the families try to bury their loved ones. You want answers, but no one can give them. You crawl deeper within yourself, scared, so torn, wishing you had a safe place to hide.

I would give everything to take this nightmare world away for you.

But I can’t. I can promise you life won’t always be this bad. You’re only just beginning, though it’s a sad shame you’ve gone through so much already. Hold on for me, though. It’s a hard struggle. That’s the honest truth. But don’t let go. Give yourself some time. You’re going to figure this all out. I know you will. I also know this world is trying very hard, but don’t let it steal your passion or your will to fight for the woman you’re supposed to be. Stand up for yourself and your dreams. You’re completely worth it.

Now, here are a few secrets, girl to girl, to help you on your journey: Remember to always keep pieces of your little girl in your soul. Run barefoot through the creeks. Always climb a few trees. Plan your wedding with every cute guy you see. Be a daydreamer. Every day. Laugh at stupid things. Paint your bedroom a crazy color.

Shh. D

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9. If you haven't already noticed...

Okay. I am on an extended blog break. This was not intentional, but my life has taken some twisty turns this past month. (No tornado pun intended) And on that note, we are fine where I'm at. However, we're all a little worried about how much longer the levees can hold that mighty Mississippi back from us. It's breaching levees all up and down its path, some of the worst flooding being within 20 miles from us in two different directions. I have friends flooded out and friends who have lost their homes. But even before the massive storm damages things were really crazy around here.  I promise to return as soon as possible! xoxo

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10. Friday Five

1. I climbed in bed last night and turned on my TV. One of my favorite shows happened to be doing an arc where the mom dies of cancer. My heart couldn’t take it. I turned out the lights, my chest a silent night. All was calm in there. All was lost in there. Last week ended on a terribly sad note and this week began with the funeral. Death is like a thief in the night and it is the most depleting experience in the world.

Because of this I fell asleep thinking, “I can’t handle any more. So tired of death. So tired of destruction. ” I actually took the time to ponder why we can’t just quit on this part of life. Just lie down and say, “I’m not doing this one anymore. You go on and grieve without me this time. I’ll try to catch up later.”

As I fell asleep my subconscious plopped an ugly misshapen cherry on top of my weary mind. In my dreams I battled every enemy I ever had.

It’s no wonder when I woke and read the earthquake and tsunami news on my Yahoo page it took a few moments for me to understand I wasn’t still in the throes of my nightmare world.

2. I wish I’d had more time to blog this week. The only post I got up was one I wrote last weekend. I’m sorry.

3. But we finished the kitchen floor and most of our backsplash. We’re waiting on some more things that are on order before I take the final pics and post them. I <3 my new kitchen. It’s just amazing.

4. I’m going to try to sit my rear down this coming week and do some writing and reading. I’m doing a beta read for a friend right now and it is a wonderful story.

5. My heart and prayers go out to all in the path of this earthquake and tsunami.

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11. Confessions of An Almost Loser

My friend Dayvid said something to me a couple weeks ago. He didn’t say it in an endearing way, though if he had it probably wouldn’t have made the impression that it did. No, his tone was full of aggravation. This attitude coming from him and being directed at me is nothing new to my life. As strange as it sounds, the aggravation is endearing to me.
So what did he say?

“WTF? Stop saying all these people got you where you are. You did it.”

I hope I don’t give him a big head by saying this but he’s right. You have to understand, in that statement are the thoughts of a friend looking back through the years. It’s the addition of saying, “Didn’t we all try to pull you out of your hell? Didn’t we? Didn’t we?”

And they did. And they failed.

Usually when a person drags themselves into the gutter people look for their excuse. Abusive parents? Non-existent parents? A broken home? Some sort of childhood trauma that made them think they deserved this life?

I had none of this. My childhood was normal. I had parents that loved me, supported me, encouraged me. Yet one very insubstantial day in the world, but not my life, I stepped wrong. It was a tiny step, but way off my life map no matter what angle you looked at it. The thing about tip-toeing into this crap is that guilt is your murderer.

Maybe it was some sort of thrill at first, a normal thing for a teen to do and explore. A little later I thought, “I have to hide this version of me, make it go away.” But instead of turning around and running for my life, I jumped in head first.

Enter the abusive relationship, right on cue. Oh yeah. I knew it was all messed up, but I was weak. And no, at the time I didn’t see it for what it was. Do we ever? I’d convinced myself that if I could reach acceptable in his eyes then I was still worth something at least. Drugs, I soon discovered, not only took away the guilt and shame but they numbed all kinds of pain.

Any clear moments I had were glazed with guilt. I no longer thought of this as being a bad version of myself. To me, it was who I was. And I knew I sucked as a person because of it. At some point I became sure of one thing: I had screwed up royally and now I deserved the life fate punished me with.

After all, people said bad things about me. People looked at me like I was trash. Better to stay with the life I had than to fight my way back to something better. They were never going to let me back into a normal life again anyway.

Then out of the blue, one morning I woke, went to the mirror, and said to myself, “I hate you! I hate the things you think. I hate the things you do. I hate the way you look and I hate what you’ve done to the real me!”

In that same instant the “real me” woke up and kicked me hard in the ass. And kept kicking me. I stopped the drugs. I walked away from the abusive relationship. I paved a new path and I told myself that I didn’t care that the world thought me already ruined, what I thought of myself mattered the most. Every time I’d falter or look back or thought I deserved a crappy life, the “real me” would kick me again.

No, it wasn’t easy. Yes, I had a long, hard fight. And sadly, no matter what I accomplished I still had one feeling that I just couldn’t shake: “I did so many bad things that I just don’t deserve these accomplishments.”

If I’ve learned one truly important thing through all of this, it’s that we’re never finished. Right now in my journey, I’m thinking it’s okay to look at what I’ve done and believe with all my heart that I deserve this happiness. Whether this is my 3 wonderful kids, my husband’s eyes full of love, my amazing friends, or the books I’ve written, I fought long and hard to have it all.

And I’ll keep fighting. Because at this point winning this war against myself is everything to me.

XOXO to my friend, Dayvid

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12. In which I ramble about religion

I've been holding back a soap box regarding tons of outrage over the replaced words in one of the newer versions of the Bible. Put as simply as I can: I teach kids from a KJV because that's all I'm allowed to teach from. They get glazed eyes as I read and don't understand a word of what I'm saying. Lucky for me, my teaching book translates it all into a lesson using the same words the newer versions of the Bible use. Go figure. Then again, if a person didn't own a newer version they probably wouldn't know this. I've heard all the arguments many times.  But God gave me a brain that scored an almost perfect score on my reading comprehension section of my ACTs. I choose to read and research and form my own opinions.  It is my God-given right.  I also know the history of King James and wouldn't trust him to watch my goldfish much less to oversee the translation of a Bible.  I've also worked with Latin several times while writing and the language is difficult to translate. Greek is no better. 

Once I overheard a person in conversation say they heard that one of the newer versions referred to Jesus and Satan as the "Morning Star". Now because this person trusted the person who made this claim, they believed it to be true.  I happened to own the version that was accused of such a thing. I spent the night looking through it. The accusation was false.  Let me just add that referring to Lucifer as Satan is unjust and unfair. Lucifer was his name as an angel. Satan was the name God gave him later, after the fall.  One means "light bearer" and the other means "enemy".  Research does a body and mind good.  It also prevents us from falling into the same dark dungeon our ancestors were kept in before the Bible was translated into English the very first time. What was this dark dungeon?  It was trusting that what we were being told was all true, but not being able to read or find out ourselves. The point behind the first translation was to give every person, no matter their station or height of education a chance to learn God's Word.  History tells us many men, women and children lost their lives fighting to have this privilege. Their theory? If all men are created equal in God's eyes then every person should be able to understand the Bible. I feel they had it right on and would hate to see their deaths be in vain. 

Now if Shakespearean language is something a person has big trouble understanding then not only do I think it's perfectly acceptable but I encourage them to read a clearer version of the Bible. The men and women working to translate from the original texts are not dumber than the men who translated the texts all those years ago. Of course, back then the educated (as in those who knew Latin) of the world thought we should release bad humors in our bodies by slitting our skin and bleeding into a bowl.  

Today we call this "cutting" and it screams of a need for help regarding our mental state.

The first thing to maturity is understanding that every day we deal with people we don't agree with. We just have to agree to disagree and work together anyway.  So, yeah, maybe you don't agree with all these newer versions. And sure, you can voice your opinion, but that's all it is. Just an opinion. And that's all this is, just my opinion. Thank goodness we're not still living in the time that King James can burn me at the stake for disagreeing with the way he spoke English. Having an opinion NEVER gives a person the right to persecute those who think differently. It just doesn't.  I'm sorry.

And this is another example of why I don't write for the Christian market. Christians have argued over doctrines for ages.  Because of this, we have tons and tons of denominations. For my own sanity, I refuse to take a ride on that tailspin.

But I believe in God and I believe the KJV of the Bible is a beautiful piece of work.  But it's okay that the KJV

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13. Break time.

I missed [info]onegrapeshy 's Grapemo ending. :-( Sorry. I have a very valid excuse. We were installing our new cabinets and tiling our counter tops.  And of course I have pics. Because my mosaic blog needs remodeling pics.  You can tell I've been staring at tiles too much by the excessive use of mosaic, huh?  I bet it makes an entrance into PA as well. lol Right now it's being used to describe my many, varied subjects I blog about.  :-)

In the beginning and why it's taking so long to do everything:


The wood had to cure after being freshly milled.

Months later:


My husband measured, glued pieces together, measured, cut and used this length and that length of screw to put it all together.

This past week became "install the cabinets" week.  This took lots of patience and lots of time. Especially when my husband had measured wrong and built two corner cabinets that didn't fit in the kitchen layout. This meant I got to climb into each corner and use a scary thing called a drill to put in trim pieces.

Then came the tile for the counter, which took a little while to get to us.  And then time to install it, of course.



We still have the cabinet doors to build and hardware to put on.  Then the tile on the floor has to be laid and a back splash.  But I have a working kitchen with tons of counter and cabinet space. :-) Trust me, it's like I won the lottery.

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14. Ugh. I am so dragging butt this morning.

It's bad, bad, bad.  Sorta like some energy-stealing troll snuck in the house last night and carried it all off.  I was left a slimy slug and I had much bigger plans for my day.

Onward I trudge, and since I'm so tired you're getting the honest me today.  You know that person?  The one who lacks filters and blurts out things she really shouldn't blurt out in public?  Yep.  It's that me today. :-)  Enjoy!

I'm reading The Fire In Fiction by Donald Maass.  So far I like it much better than any other writerly instruction book.  Let me tell you why:  He uses examples of books that I like and that do exactly what he said they would do.  Most of the writer instruction books use crappy examples leaving me lost and thinking, "I don't see what you're saying here because this passage stinks and it's horribly overwritten."

Already, his ability to get in my head and make me understand what he wants has made Panthan's Abyss much, much better.

It's taken me several years to be able to read his work.  The problem was psychological.  I didn't have a thing against him at all. It was this writer chick I knew and she quoted him all the time.  See, she was an evil lady. Her writing was good, but as a person she was just... well, let me just say I've yet to meet a meaner person.  And no, this has nothing to do with her ripping my own work to shreds, because she didn't do that. She was just really nasty.

So it was about transference, which was completely unfair to our good Mr. Maass, but something I couldn't help.  Every time I would attempt to even think about him, she would pop up in my head and I'd get sick to my stomach.  Yeah. Really. She was that bad.  I have no idea if she's published now, don't care, but I felt it was time I attempt a Maass book once again.

It seems the smoke has cleared and I'm able to see him all on his own. :-) This makes me oh, so happy, because I want to keep growing with my writing and he seems like he'd be really good at helping me.  

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15. This week's teaser from "Panthan's Abyss"

The thing I like best about Arial is she lets me explore an old voice that is as deep as it is dark.  This taps into my love for purple prose, that I normally can't use in my YA fiction.  :-)  




Cast your eyes not on the vast ocean of this world,
but instead look to your feet and always… remember me.
You cannot begin to understand the power of my despair.
Take a deep breath, sister of mine. We are two miracles, unprecedented.
Yet I am the pieces of our wonder best kept hidden. Chained to my fate.
Look for me no longer. I’ll be lost again before the dawn.

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16. Friday Five

1. Lost in my fiction world and remodeling, I completely forgot to pay my internet bill.  Okay, actually, that's not true. I tried to pay it last week, but AT&T had major issues with their website so I couldn't get through.  Then I got busy writing and forgot.  So this morning I woke up to suspended email accounts. Oops. Before I even had my coffee down I fired up their pay-by-phone thing. I hate that system. I mean, like, despise it. I kept yelling "Pay my bill!" and it kept going back to the same menu option: "Please say, 'pay my bill.'"  Then I said, "Oh my God."  And it said, "I think you said,'Other'".  I wanted to pitch my phone across the room. But I didn't.  Instead I took a large gulp of my coffee and when I tried again my "smart" phone changed screens to tell me my email password was incorrect and it couldn't collect my emails. I had to slide that card off the screen and pull up my phone screen where AT&T had been put on hold. It took forever to pay that stinkin' bill and they still haven't reinstated my email accounts.  Word to the wise, don't let your husband sweet talk you into paying the bills while you're in the writing zone.

2. At around 9 o'clock this morning I became the proud owner of a workable kitchen sink again!  And a dishwasher!  Totally worth several loud and obnoxious SQUEES!  We have boards as counters though, because we're still waiting on our tile order to come in. 

3. Tornado warnings and severe thunderstorms completely ruined my Vampire Diaries viewing last night.  I watched it off Amazon this morning though and OHMYGOD!  2 episodes back I got a little irritated with the "protect" Elana story line that has gone on for waaaay too long.  But they twisted the whole thing once again in a very good way. So I'm happy!  What I'm not happy about is last week my husband caught the show before I did. Since he couldn't keep quiet about it he went on and on. As he reached the big twist I guessed what happened before he could tell me. He looked shocked at my psychic abilities and confused over my obvious disappointment regarding the whole thing.  I took him to my PA file and read that exact twist in my book that I had written two days before. :-( Bummer. Bummer. This morning while I was watching, another plot thing happened that I wrote yesterday in PA.  As I'm well aware that there is no new idea under the sun, it still doesn't stop me from being bummed when this sort of thing happens. It also reminds me of the anger I felt when some dummy made a remark about True Blood stealing things from Twilight.  Because as we all know, Charlaine was pounding out her vampire books long before Stephenie ever even dreamed her Twilight Saga.  But I digress.

4. My little man showed off his new toy to his daddy this morning.  It's a John Deere cotton picker.  As I helped him get loaded in the SUV, he told me about his friend who has a green bean picker. Hmm... Since I've never heard of a green bean picker I'm awfully curious about how it looks. 

5. I checked out my Yahoo news feed yesterday while taking a break from the "writing zone".  Bad idea. That thing is depressing.  Oil prices are going sky high and the housing prices are dropping.  Tiger Woods did something and got mad.  Lindsay Lohan got in trouble at her hearing and Charlie Sheen is being Charlie.  It appears, I didn't miss much in my week-long absence.  Same as always.  I then popped over to FB to say hi to everyone, read a few updates on my home page, and happily returned to my book world.

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17. Forward

Last night I had intentions to write another post about voice this morning-- a more in-depth post.   I'm not feeling it right now though.  Hopefully, I'll find the words for it later today.

Progress is the word of the day. :-)  I'm hoping the base for our kitchen counter will go down followed immediately by our sink and the dishwasher. I'm running thin on tolerance regarding the non-kitchen.

But my book?  Oh, my book!  The world crumbles around me, saws scream and screech through wood, and I keep writing. I've revamped so many scenes and finally have a good grip on my characters and their emotional strains for this story.  Until recently I'd spent most of my time fumbling around with no direction when it came to their emotions.  My oldest daughter stopped by to ask, "Do you think you're ever gonna finish that book?"

:D  Someday, dear.  Someday.

My FB and Twitter break have done miraculous wonders for me, however hard it's been for me not to check in and see what my friends are up to. 

Yesterday my husband stopped by the bedroom doorway to check on me.  I think he left feeling like he'd never understand the strangeness of my mind. See, I was stuck trying to understand a section of lyrics by Kate Voegele. I explained as best as I could to him that the song holds the key to Grayson's emotions and thoughts for a certain scene and unless I get a handle on the first stanza I'll stay confused over whether or not it really is the perfect fit.

I think I'm getting what she's trying to say.  In case you're curious here's the first stanza from "Wish you were here".

Gone away are the golden days
Just a page in my diary
So here I am a Utopian citizen
I'm still convinced
There's no such thing as idealism.


What first caught my eye about the song was the mention of Utopian and idealism, because I had just written a scene where Gray and Laura discussed these two things.  But the more I listened to the song the more I understood where it belonged in my list of inspirations and in my book.  I love it when I write something then find a song later that feeds the scene more and fits it so perfectly. But I had problems trying to hook the lines "I'm still convinced there's no such thing as idealism" into the rest of the lyrics. 

It took me a while to get it, but I do now, which means I can move on with my scene. :-)

Not being selfish, I've embedded the acoustic version of the song, which is a much, much more powerful version than the album version.


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18. A carefully concealed post about the craft of voice

I'm taking the poetry out of love one sad sentence at a time. :-) Yes, I have that goal. Because more often than not love is messy and nobody says the right thing at the most perfect moment.  And even if they did, the other side of the couple would stare at them like they'd lost their mind.  I mean who really goes around spouting pretty lines about love?

Okay, maybe I do, but I'm a writer and it's just something my brain is trained to do.  But not everyone writes as much as I do and not everyone spends their days looking for poetry in everything.  And even if I can come up with pretty phrases, it still sounds corny in my everyday life.

Love is messy. I said that already didn't I?  Right.  I'll give a little here.  Maybe, just maybe, not all love is messy.  However, for my current characters it is. Fairy tales are nice and all but what if we broke the mold? What if Prince Charming stops having a trained writer write for him?

Idealism versus realism, right?  How about if my poetic heart made some sort of truce with my rational brain?  Would we get something like this?

"It hadn’t mattered after all. He still brought every emotion she had to the surface of her skin. Then he took the sharpest blade he could find and slit her wide open. And there, on that butt-ugly carpet, it all fell out."

It's probably nothing so controversial as taking a stand against Prince Charming and his perfect little phrases so carefully thought out and written for him.  It's probably just an example of voice and how we need to stick to it for the sake of our characters and the sake of our audience.

It doesn't matter how many books I've written or how much more I've learned, I still think learning how to find a different voice for each of your characters is one of the most important parts of writing. And I still think an author's writing style and a character's voice are two different things entirely.

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19. When it comes to my blog I'm sorta MIA a lot anymore.

I know you're wondering where I disappeared to. I'm wondering the same thing. I think I probably just got lazy with the blogging again. I've been doing a lot of kick boxing. So much, in fact, that I killed my back muscles last week which left me whining and acting horribly for several days. I am writing. Sort of. Yesterday I struggled through 8 hours of hell to pound out 1200 words. The problem is I've been stuck in that everybody-thinks-I-suck stage for many, many months. I've been trying to put on a good show, but that only works for the public. My characters and my stories know the truth. And it shows. 

Of course I have lots of life stress, because life is like that. Stupid life. Some days I'm happy and full of energy and everything is just rainbows and chocolate bows. Yeah, I know. You get this out of life too.

So I stare at my screen and think I should blog.  But I don't have anything to say.  I do have a craft post coming soon. Surprise! I haven't done anything like that in ages.

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20. Okay. I give. Here's a kissing scene between Gray and Laura

Usually I get in lots of trouble for my steamy kissing scenes. But, I'll live on the edge today. ;-) It's obvious Laura and Gray need to explore their attraction, but don't get all excited thinking it's like romantic piddle. Because it's fueled by Grayson's anger and they have such a long way to go. If they ever make it in the first place.  It's also edited like most of my teasers so important (snort) story stuff doesn't show up.  I guess I'm just extra excited to see so much progress happening with Panthan's Abyss. I have another teaser up on [info]onegrapeshy's blog if you want to check it out. :-)


Panthan's Abyss

     “You made a big mistake.”
     “I just wanted to feel something real.”
     He came toward her, a big cat, sleek, full of menace. “Why don’t I tell you the truth and you tell me more lies.” Stopping only a foot from her, he slid his hand down her cheek. “Does that feel real?”
     Her head fell back, her breaths thinning. Before she could answer he went on, “How about this?” He grabbed a handful of her hair, tilting her to face him. His mouth barely brushed hers and he was gone again. “Is that real?” The question came out almost a growl. “Or maybe this—”
     He kissed her again, more urgent, but didn’t stay at her lips, instead trailing along her neck.
     Yes! Yes, this was all them and all real.
     His fingers hooked her shirt collar and yanked it past her shoulder. His lips followed immediately behind.
     One. Two. Breathe. His skin on her skin. No vibrations. No bloodlust. Just this desperate attraction.
     On his return path, he dropped his head in her neck, his shoulders lifting with a deep inhale. “You smell real. You’ve always smelled real.”
     The whole room was full of the most delicious and heady scents. Hers mingled with his. Passion. Hate. Need. Fear.
     He circled around her, his fingers snaking along her shoulder blades. She followed him as far as her head could turn then whipped it around to the other side as he made it to her shoulder. His gaze met hers. Fire shot out at her. Pain pleaded with her. She closed her eyes, unable to look at him.
     It didn’t matter. She could feel his heat as he leaned into her.
     “You can’t have me now. You know that don’t you?”
     She swallowed and nodded slowly.
     “Good,” he said.
     And left.
     The door slammed shut behind him.
     She stood in the middle of the floor with its swirly drunken designs and swayed, dizzy, crushed.

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21. Oh, God, my eyes! My eyes!

I don’t know how many blog posts I’ve read in the course of my writing life that talked about the “right” way to open a book. There isn’t a “right” way. Not really. But there are plenty of wrong ways. The worst one in my very humble and not-worth-much opinion is book openings with large group scenes.

Ask any screen writer and they’ll tell you they hate having to write scenes with a large cast being involved in one conversation. The directors don’t like having to arrange it or shoot it. But at least movies/shows have camera angles, different voices, and different faces for each line of dialogue.

A book is different. We get one chance to grab our reader’s imagination. Screw it up and we’re done.

Opening a book with large groups of people talking to each other is a bad, bad idea. The first problem is establishing just whose point of view the story is being told from. The second problem is lack of focus. The reader can’t settle on a voice or attach themselves to a character. And that’s what they want when they read: to grab the coattails of a character and ride.

More confusion ensues when the descriptions start up. One line of dialogue followed by a description of hair color and personality isn’t going to stick with a reader. Not in this setting. Hmm… my grandma, when looking at a very colorful shirt, had a saying for the feeling that sight invoked. “It’s too busy,” she’d say. “Hurts my eyes.”

That’s the effect a book opening will give a reader if too many characters are involved. Maybe the writer sees the characters clearly in his or her mind. Unfortunately, the writer’s mind isn’t the reader’s mind. It’s kind of like one of those ya-had-to-be-there moments. And sadly, a reader just can’t get there this way.

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22. Until then...

I'm taking an internet break from the "real" world aspects.  Like FB and Twitter. I don't know for how long, but I need to do it. I am not breaking from Livejournal.  LJ doesn't take me into another world. It simply encourages my crazy fictional worlds. Facebook and Twitter don't do this for me. They remind me daily that there is a real world out there with people in it. And these people are doing things like going to work to teach, doctor, nurse, manage offices, and wipe snotty noses.  Real people have real opinions and leave me feeling like a complete goob. 

I write paranormal fiction for teens. I don't write thought provoking literature. I'm sure I could if I wanted to, but I don't want to. When I walk in the real world I always end up feeling not good enough and these feelings spill over into every aspect of my life.  They seriously mess up my creativity.  Not that anyone is trying to make me feel this way, but I simply can't function in two worlds at the same time. So, yeah, it's me. It's not them.

I'm hoping all my friends will understand this. I know good and well my writer friends will. I've seen way too many of them forced to do the same thing.

xoxo

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23. Friday Five!

1.I spent my first day of no FB, Twitter, and book forums reading. I worked on my book a lot too. :-) It was fun. And since I talked so little I feel like my life is building a mystery around itself. :-)

2. As I was sitting in the living room I heard a plane flying low overhead. I don’t mean to think these things but ever since 9/1/1 I can’t help myself. I got scared we were gonna be bombed. Wanna know the worst of it? My thoughts turned to how pathetic I must be. I was clipping my finger nails for crap’s sake. Was that what I wanted to be doing when a bomb hit? I mean, surely, I should be doing something more productive than that. And then I told myself how very stupid I am. If a bomb hit no one would know what I’d been doing when it hit after it hit. Whew. Did anybody actually follow that last sentence? I think I got lost in it and I wrote it. Never mind. That’s a common problem for me.

3. Roo’s started a book of her own called “Homicidal”. She even has a mock cover made for it. It’s pretty cool. The cover that is. I have no idea what the book’s about. At first I was thinking the title was pretty self-explanatory, but the more I thought about my daughter the more I remembered things aren’t always what they seem.

4. Scanning over the ten day forecast it looks like the spring rains have hit around here. Seriously not complaining because I’ve had enough of the cold and snow.

5. My husband has been building us a set of custom cabinets from scratch most of the winter. They are almost finished. :-) You have no idea how excited I am about this. Today we're ordering counter tops and picking out the flooring for the TV room and hallway.

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24. Life without a kitchen:

Hmm... What can I say but it's a little hard.  I probably have tons of tile shopping drama I could fill this page with, but why bother? We found the tile, ordered it, and right now I don't have a kitchen.   Yeah. Really. It's having new sheet rock put on it behind where the old cabinets used to be. It's been wired for new outlets and the plumbing redone.   And that's pretty much been my life over our past 3 day weekend. Today I have 2 sick kids at home while the other has an eye appt. 

On the writing front I'm not sure I have much to report, which would probably be why I missed the updates for Grapemo. :-( And that's about all I have for today.  Have a great Tuesday, LJ-land!

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25. A Moment

My life’s littered with bad moments. Sometimes so many I can’t see through the grime.

Some mornings I wake up so sad and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s my dreams. How could I really know the horrors my subconscious puts me through? After all, my conscious thoughts torture me plenty during my day.

This doesn’t mean I never look for the sun. It also doesn’t mean I don’t have those occasions where I’m blinded by light. When those shining moments happen... I still. And every time, my actions remind me of my favorite passage from the Bible. “Be still and know that I am God.”

The comfort is in the simplicity, and the greatest impact always happens in the tinniest moments. Those seconds we could let pass us by if we’re not open to them. I’m not talking about finding religion. I’m talking about accepting a gentle voice that stills your inner storm with a whisper, “It will be okay. All manner of things will be okay.”

When I think of sadness and despair, I think of those incapable of finding these moments in their days. I think of those unable to treasure even the smallest beat of complete pleasure in life.

Last night I sat on my couch, the TV on, my husband working in the kitchen. My son was talking to him, asking questions in the way a seven-year-old will do. My husband pointed out the new outlets in the wall saying, “Now Mama will have plug-ins all around her counters.”

It was a simple conversation, and one that shouldn’t have mattered at all during my day. But it did. It caught me off guard. It made me smile. It made me think, “I am loved and I am loved well.”

Maybe it wasn’t a dozen roses or a diamond necklace, which I wouldn’t like that much anyway. Maybe he didn’t plan a big night. What he did do was use his hands and his mind and his talent to pull a simple smile from me. A big gesture for a small reward.

I felt safe. And in the moment of that thought, a soft whisper brushed against my cheek, “Be still and know that all manner of things will be all right.”

I’ve actually found this moment in the way the wind lifted the petals of a daisy. When I was around ten, I found the moment while watching the lavender leaves fall from a white ash one October. Whenever it happens, no matter the reason, my mind freezes the moment. A quiet memory that’s just for me.

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