Marching into March

Hello Foxes!

 

So it may seem like I completely disappeared, but I promise I haven’t. February turned out to be a really tough month for a multitude of reasons. It really seemed like there wasn’t enough time to do ANYTHING. I apologize for the lack of posts in that time frame, but I’m going to keep us moving forward.

 

For the wonderful month of March (Yay! St. Patrick’s day!) I’m going to be taking a look at plots, plotting and all the fun trappings around that. First up I’m going to cover the two things I see most, either that someone has too many ideas or too few.

A Chance Meeting

“Can I buy you a drink?

New voice, same slick southern drawl. Charlie looked up from her soda, finding herself staring into a pair of pretty blue eyes. The rest of the man was just as good looking, although not in a pretty way. But regardless, Charlie couldn’t ignore that he was the fifth man with this same line. And just like the others he neglected to pay much attention.

Raising the full glass of soda, Charlie smiled. “Cute cowboy, but you forgot to call me darlin.”

“Damn, does that mean you’re not impressed?” Rather then being dejected, the man returned her smile, even taking the seat next to her. “Or maybe it just means I’m not feeding you a line.”

“And yet it’s so similar to the lines your buddies gave me.”

The man turned to look at the group Charlie pointed to. Far from being ashamed at being caught staring, the group of men waved with big smiles on their faces. Three of the men had been guilty of approaching Charlie with the line. But they had been and still seemed friendly, so Charlie waved back at them. With a laugh the man next to her waved as well before turning back to her.

“Aw, the boys don’t mean no harm darlin.” The man said, “And neither do I.”

“How do I know that? You’re a total stranger to me.”

Extending his hand, the man smiled again, revealing a dimple. “Where are my manners? Flint Montgomery ma’am.”

Charlie paused, looking down at the hand outstretched toward her. She felt torn. It was nice to talk to a good looking man, and in any normal situation she would enjoy a bit of flirting. But her sister’s constant nagging rang in her head. They were supposed to keep a low profile while staying with their mother. They needed to set a good example for Teresa and Tara. Even coming to the small town’s bar had sent Violet into an angry tantrum.

Yet Charlie was finally free. For once since she was sixteen years old, she didn’t have to look over her shoulder to see who was watching. And it had been Tara and Teresa that had convince her to get away for awhile. She was always taking care of everyone, they said, that she should spend the night out. Enjoy herself.

“Sweetheart?”

Looking back up to those blue eyes, Charlie put a hand on her stomach. The small bump, like so many parts of her life, reminded her of why she was in the small town to begin with. She wanted her life back. She was going to take her life back. No more listening to everyone else tell her how to live. Starting now.

“I’m Charlie.” She replied shaking his hand.

“Charlie huh? Odd name for a pretty lady.”

“Just means my mom knew I was gonna be a tough tomboy.”

Flint laughed. “ I bet you are darlin. You new in town?”

“What makes you think that?” Charlie asked, then took a sip of her coke.

“Darlin, I was born and raised in this town. It’d be pretty impossible for me to not know your pretty self unless you’re new.”

“Still trying out those smooth lines Flint?” Charlie snorted, still sipping on her coke as Flint watched her. While she enjoyed his company, it was time to stop teasing him. Likely he was looking to take her to bed, and that wasn’t happening. “You really can stop. They don’t work.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah, I’m tired of smooth talkin’ men.”

Flint clicked his tongue, taking a drink from his beer. “That’s a damn shame darlin. I’m a smooth talker by nature, but I’ll try to tone it down for you.”

Charlie blinked a few times and took a long sip of her soda, stopping only when there was nothing left. She didn’t expect him to stay around when she squashed his flirting. “You still want to talk with me?”

“Well yeah.” Flint said with a shrug. “As long as you don’t mind the company.”

Who was this guy? Charlie couldn’t recall ever meeting a man so laid back after being shot down. Was this how men acted outside the Community? At least in this little town it seemed like it. Which made her sad. This was what she’d been missing for so long. This was the kind of thing she’d been robbed of, among so many other parts.

Shaking her head to clear those thoughts, Charlie gave Flint a small smile “You know, I’d really like the company.”

Returning her smile, Flint pointed to her glass which was now empty. “Why don’t you let me get ya new one?”

“Alright.”

“Ok, whatcha want?” Flint asked as he picked up her glass, his gaze dropping to the small bump in her stomach.

Charlie rested her hand again on her stomach. “Just a coke, please.”

With a nod, Flint walked over to the bar. Along the way he was stopped by several people and spoke for a few moments. Men and women alike called out to him. It made her question why he was putting so much so much time and energy into her. Sure, she was new,someone he didn’t know. But she wasn’t the prettiest woman in here, and she wasn’t the only one who obviously thought he was good looking. They didn’t have the problems she did and would probably be more receptive to his attention. Yet he kept talking to her, and it was baffling.When a glass landed in front of her Charlie nearly jumped.

“Must be some pretty heavy thought to make you frown like that.” Flint said, taking his seat once more.

“Just thinking about the past.” Charlie replied, drinking some of the coke. Smiling to distract him she changed topics. “What were you gonna do if I asked for liquor?”

“Now darlin, it ain’t my place to judge…”

“But you would’ve.” Charlie finished. At least he had the decency to look slightly guilty.

Soon enough, he lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “Don’t tell my mama, cuz she’d kill me for jumpin’ to conclusions. But you’re a petite thing and that bump is already a bit obvious.”

“Fair enough.” Charlie agreed, pausing for a bit. “I’m pregnant. And I wouldn’t ask for liquor.”

“Good to know darlin.”

Flint stood suddenly, extending his hand to Charlie again as a new song came over the speakers. It was obvious when he pointed to the dance floor what he expected. But Charlie hesitated. Even as other couples moved to the small dance floor, Charlie just kept looking between it and Flint’s hand.

“Calm down darlin, it’s just a dance.”

Just a dance. It was just a dance. It didn’t have to mean anything. But that wasn’t what made her hesitate. Taking a deep breath Charlie again thought about taking back her life, and then took his hand and stood. Together they moved to the dance floor and began a quick two step. It had to become abundantly clear why she hesitated the moment she began to flounder. She couldn’t dance worth a crap. As they fell out of step several times, Charlie felt heat bloom across her cheeks. But when she tried to pull away Flint’s grip tightened.

“Where ya goin darlin?” Flint asked, keeping her with him.
“Isn’t it obvious? Come on Flint I don’t want to make an ass of myself.”

“You ain’t makin’ an ass of yourself.” When Charlie’s face remained scrunched up Flint gave her a reassuring smile. “ Have you ever done a two step?”

“I don’t even know what that is.”

When they danced close to an attractive, middle aged couple, Flint called out. “Hey Lou, how’s Charlie doin’ for her first two step?”

The older man with a thick mustache smiled wide at Charlie. “You’re doin’ great kiddo.”

The woman in his arms also smiled. “You’re doin’ better than I did honey. I fell right on my face the first time Lou took me dancin’.”

Charlie gave a small smile and nodded. This town had to be nicest place she’d ever lived. Certainly more welcoming than the Community had ever been. Flint continued to twirl with her around the floor, making no comment the many times she stepped on his foot or fell out of step. After a few more turns Charlie found herself relaxing. She wasn’t improving but that didn’t seem to bother Flint. He even began to sing a little off key along with the song Charlie couldn’t help but laugh.

Honestly, Charlie couldn’t remember the last time she had had such a good time. The previous few months seemed to melt away the more she danced. Instead of the worry and caution that hung over her, Charlie felt freedom. Not long after this all began Charlie started to feel a bit light headed. She pulled away from Flint, returning to the table and sitting down, laughing the entire time.

When Flint followed her Charlie held up her hands. “You’ve gotta give me a minute!”

“Alright, but just a minute.” Flint agreed, taking his seat again and a long sip of his beer. “Admit it you’re havin’ fun darlin’.”

“Yeah Flint, I’m having fun.”

“See? I’m a good friend to have around.”

“You are. And that’s sure something I need.” Charlie said, watching him carefully as she thought about the past, the dance, and the laughter.

“What’s that darlin?” Flint asked, distracted from looking back at the dance floor.

Smiling and feeling her confidence boosted, Charlie leaned her elbows on the table. “Flint, will you be my friend?”

That got Flint’s attention. The man turned to look at her directly, remaining quiet for the first time since they began talking. Charlie waited, the smile still on her face. His blue eyes flicked over her, the silence growing. Finally he closed his eyes and inhaled deeply.

When he opened his eyes again, another bright smile graced his face. “I’d love to be your friend Charlie.”

“Why thank you Flint.” She replied, putting on an exaggerated twang.

“Stop teasin me darlin’.” Flint laughed, standing up once more. “And come dance again.”

Taking out her phone, Charlie groaned. It was well past when she’d told her family to expect her home. Knowing her mother she was probably terrified something had happened to Charlie. The seven voicemails between her mother and sister confirmed this. Charlie understood the concern, but she could’ve lived without it as well. God knew Violet was likely going to be angry with Charlie as well.

“I need to go.” Charlie told Flint, feeling bad about the frown on his face. “I told my family I was only going to be out for a few hours.”

Flint nodded, smiling again. “Real shame darlin’, you were gettin’ good at dancin’. But at least let me drop you off.”

“Thanks but I took our only car.” Charlie said, standing up and grabbing her coat.

Flint helped her into it and then grabbed his own. “At least let me walk you to your car.”

It wasn’t a question, so Charlie gave no answer. Instead she merely turned and walked back out of the little bar, waving at the people who called out goodbyes. Charlie didn’t know a single one of them, and it struck her once more how different this town was from her previous home. Rather than the icy stares the Community gave outsiders, Meadowood seemed to only curiously stare. A few made not so subtle glances at her stomach, but that was about it. As she continued on she felt Flint’s hand come to rest on her lower back. Instead of feeling uncomfortable, like she normally did, Charlie just felt…relaxed.

Astonishing. Charlie hadn’t felt relaxed since she became pregnant. A few hours with this man and Charlie already liked his presence. Maybe she had been right to sneak away for a bit. Sadly, her mother’s car parked directly outside the bar signaled the end of her little adventure. When they stood beside the car they both remained silent, letting a few more minutes pass. Finally, Charlie knew she really had to go.

Turning around to face Flint, Charlie gave him a small smile. “Thanks for the drinks, and for the company.”

“Anytime Darlin.” Flint replied and although she couldn’t really see him in the darkness, she knew he was smiling back. “You gonna make it home ok this late at night.”

“Yeah, I’ll be alright.”

“You sure?”

Charlie couldn’t hold back her snort. “Yes I’m sure, I’ve only drank coke all night remember?”

“Some of these roads can be dangerous even when you’re sober Charlie.”

“Yeah? Ok, how about I take your number and I’ll call you when I get home?”

Flint took a step closer, close enough for Charlie to see his smile grow. “That would make me feel a lot better. After all I don’t want my new…friend to get hurt.”

“Ok, give me your phone.”

When Flint handed it over Charlie put in her name nad number. Then she made a quick call to her own phone so she had his number as well. She handed the phone back and looked at Flint. He stood there with his arms folded over his chest, his phone tucked back into his pocket. Charlie wished she could stick around, continue dancing and talking with him. But she knew the hell she was already going to face, and prolonging it was only going to make it worse.

“Bye Flint.” Charlie said as she got into the car.

“Bye Charlie, drive safely.”

As Charlie started the car and pulled back from the curb she couldn’t keep the smile off her face. Through the old paved roads that eventually gave way to gravel, the smile never left her face. For the first time since she arrived nearly two weeks ago, it felt like it was worth it. Fleeing, working with the police, and trying to settle her family down had left her doubting every decision she made. But tonight had erased that feeling. At least for a few hours. Hell, she’d even enjoyed dancing, as bad as she’d been at it. Above all, she had enjoyed meeting Flint. Even as she pulled into the driveway to her mother’s house, that smile couldn’t be wiped away.

Walking up to the door after parking the car, Charlie could see a light on in the kitchen. She tried to open the door as quietly as possible. Although she doubted she was going to be lucky enough to only face her mother, Tara, Teresa and Teresa’s son Henry were likely to be asleep. Her mother Laurie would maybe scold her a little, but it was going to be nothing compared to Charlie’s older sister Violet. Should she be up as well, Violet would let that shrill voice ring in Charlie’s ears.

“Where have you been Charlotte?”

Well, so much for hoping Violet was asleep. Continuing into the kitchen Charlie found both her sister and mother gathered around the dining table. Charlie ignored Violet. Instead she walked to their mother and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Laurie took her daughter’s hands in her aged ones.

“We were getting worried. You didn’t answer your phone.”

“I’m sorry mom, I didn’t men to worry you.” Charlie said, guilt eating at her from her mother’s worried expression. “I went to the Tumbleweed.”

“That bar? Are you out of your mind Charlotte?” Violet continued to shrill, her eagle eyes locked on Charlie.

“I just had some soda Violet, relax. I just wanted to enjoy some time outside the house.”

Violet slapped her palm on the table, eliciting a shush motion from their mother. “You are a married, pregnant woman. You shouldn’t go to such places.”

Charlie felt all those relaxed vibes slipping away. “Shut up Violet.”

“How dare yo-…”

“I said shut up!” Charlie yelled, mentalling cursing as she looked over to the hallway. When no noise came from the direction of the girl’s room, Charlie continued in a lower voice. “I am pregnant. But I am NOT married. Not according to the law, which says it’s illegal to do what he did, and not according to me. We left to get away from that.”

“We left because Asher was being cruel and made some bad decisions. We’re here for a break not to leave him.”

“You may be here for a break. You may be his wife. But that is not my reason, that is not Tara’s reason, and that is not Teresa’s reason. We’re here because we are finally free.” Charlie replied, releasing her mother’s hand.

“Charlotte you’re such a dumb bitc-..”

“Stop.” Laurie cut in, holding up her hands. “We’re not about to start saying hateful things. You girls are family and that ain’t what family does. Now it’s late, and those kids are asleep and since we’re home now it’s time to go to bed.”

Regardless of the their age, both girls stopped at their mother’s request. Laurie was a wisp of a woman, but she was a little general. Charlie moved first, kissing her mother’s cheek and bidding them goodnight. Without pausing Charlie walked down the hallway from the kitchen to her room. Briefly, she opened the door to the twins room, finding both girls asleep. In a bassinet close to Teresa’s bed was Henry, sound asleep and oblivious to any of the turmoil. After shutting their door Charlie continued down the hall to her own room.

When the door was shut Charlie collapsed to the ground against it. Damn it, Violet managed to suck every bit of happiness from her. In minutes her sister made Charlie as tense as the night they’d first arrived in town. She smacked her head against the door as her phone began to chime. Pulling it from her pocket, she looked at the name.

Pushing the accept button, Charlie brought the phone against her ear. “Hey Flint.”

“Hey darlin’.” His voice sounded scratchy, yet there were no other sounds in the background. “I wasn’t sure if you’d made it home yet, but I figured I’d check.”

“Yeah, I’m sorry, I got home a few minutes ago but I started talking to my family.”

“It’s fine darlin’, I’m glad you got home ok.”

Charlie pushed herself off the door to walk over to her dresser and get her night shirt. “Did you make it home ok?”

She heard his laugh through the line. “Yeah, I left shortly after you.”

“I’m surprised Flint.” Charlie said as she pulled out her oversized shirt.

“Why’s that?”

Charlie snorted as she began to undress. “Come on, I figured you’d stay with your buddies, maybe teach another girl how to dance.”

“No one there was as much fun as you Charlie.”

That made a fluttering feeling start in her stomach. Charlie was going to chalk it up as the baby moving since anything else was not an appropriate feeling to have toward a friend. Charlie attempted to wiggle out of her shirt without dislodging the phone. She failed when the phone dropped onto a the floor. Throwing the shirt off and changing into her night shirt Charlie reached down.

When she had the phone back up she could hear Flint calling her name twice. “ Sorry, sorry, the phone fell while I was changing.”

“Gettin’ ready for bed?”

“Yeah, I’m beat and I’ve got work in the morning.” Charlie said climbing into her bed.

“Mmm.” Flint grumbled, followed by what Charlie could only assume was a chuckle. “So, whatcha wearing?”

Charlie let loose a loud laugh, covering her mouth to prevent her family from hearing. “Not even going there friend.”

“Aw come on, it’s a friendly question.”

“Good night Flint.”

“Ugh, spoil sport.” Flint replied with good humor. “Goodnight Charlie, I’m glad we met.”

“Me too.” With that, Charlie hit the end button.

Putting the Pieces Together: A Writer’s Support Network

Alright, so I promise I haven’t fallen off the side of the earth! This past few weeks have been absolute rollercoaster weeks. The highs have included getting to see friends I haven’t seen in a long time and going to see my favorite band in concert, which was AMAZING! But I’ve also had some real lows with struggling in classes, a family member in the hospital, and my own ER visit. Thank god, everyone is ok and I’ve been able to push through.

But through all that I knew what I wanted my first post in the month of love to be. It’s a tough one for me, because it’s a personal one. I needed to get in a right headspace in order to be able to talk to y’all about it. So this week I wanted to talk to all my foxes about a writer’s support system. In the grand scheme of writing I think this topic gets overlooked because a lot of people look at writing as a solitary activity. Sure, it certainly can be. Yet, having a support system can make a huge difference in a writer’s life. It did in my life.

I’ve always loved to write, but I started writing longer stories when I was in the last few years of high school. I wrote non stop, at home, at school, anywhere. Oooh, my teachers hated it, because i looked like I was paying attention and taking notes, but I had NO clue what was actually going on. If you follow me on Facebook you probably saw my recent post where i found over forty-five stories from back in the day. Many of these came from when I was a teen. Now, I can’t pretend that all of them are very good (I went through a phase where I was pretentious as hell. I was so sure I was going to be the next F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway) but they were still the stories I loved.

During that time I was far more open to talking and showing my work than I was later on. For me, there were two people I wanted to show my work to the most. Both women were incredibly important to me and were big time readers. In my head, I just assumed they would want to read my work. So when neither of them took an interest in my writing, I was crushed. I didn’t know how to handle the rejection, and made the unfortunate decision that if they didn’t want to read it, all of my work had to be crap.

I had never felt so low in my life. I went through stretches of time when I would rip up my work, or throw it away. I hated that I couldn’t stop writing, because I didn’t feel like what I was writing was worth it. But I didn’t stop, because I couldn’t. At the time I hated that I kept writing, but now I thank my lucky stars that I didn’t stop. Should I have realized their refusal had more to do with my age rather than my actual writing? Probably. But I was an emotional teen, small things became mountains. And unfortunately, as I grew into adulthood, my anxiety set in and only fueled my harsh negativity toward my writing. I continued to be critical of everything I wrote, and I absolutely refused to share my work anymore.

It took me years to come out of this dark place. Years, and thankfully having some great people come into my life. They helped me realize that I needed a good support system to grow. And eventually my confidence in my work returned. Once I had a few people that were my support system, I stopped hiding my work, and I stopped refusing to say that I was a writer. I learned how to deal with rejection, and how to find my way. One of those people was someone who had been in my life the whole time. My grandmother began to listen to me talk through outlines, character sketches, plot twists, etc. Not only did she listen, but she began to ask questions, critique, and encourage me. With her support I began to write more, and began to talk to others about my writing.

Once that happened I caught the attention of a friend, who also happened to be a writer. God bless this woman! Because not only does she read my work, she critiques my actual writing skills. She looks at sentence structure, grammar, along with the actual content. As a writing partner she challenges me to improve my writing skills, as well as giving me a chance to improve my critique skills. That’s not a skill set that I’ve had the chance to improve before.

Finally, I’ve got another friend who literally reads EVERY bit of my writing. Little snippets of scenes, chapters, short stories and outlines. Before anyone else even sees my writing, this gal looks at the rough, rough, ROUGH drafts. And then she gives me the best encouragement. She challenges me not to give up, to keep writing, and to push through.

Now, most of these people fell into my life. They were friends who saw me writing and asked to see, or family that started asking questions. Hopefully, you’ll have some of these types of people around naturally. But if you don’t, there are a few ways I’ve found this type of support myself.

One of the best ways to connect with people all over the world is social media. Personally, I’ve joined several Facebook groups that are for writers and have found them to be wonderful. I enjoy that if I have a question I can pose it, and tend to get a wide range of support and answers from writers at all stages of the writing process. I’ve made writing friends through those groups, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. A simple search of ‘writer’ in the facebook search bar can bring up dozens of groups, which I would encourage you to look through and find some that work for you.

Another place I found support in, is my local community. Now I live out in the country, about 45 minutes from the nearest big city, but there are a couple of small towns around me. The nearest one actually has a group that meets twice a month of local writers. I was completely surprised by this, but have found it to be a nice group to get together with. If my little town has that, most bigger cities and towns should to. I challenge you to take a look at your local community and I bet you find some type of support group. Try going to a meeting. You never know if it will work for you until you try it out.

Finally, of course, if you feel you need support but can’t find it or aren’t getting it, reach out to me. I created the Fox Den not only to share my experiences and thoughts, but because I wanted to create a community. I know exactly what it feels like to be in the middle of a storm of doubt and lack of support. I don’t want others to go through that. No matter what, I want my foxes to know that they have me in their corner. Through email, Facebook, comments, etc. I’m here to provide support as much as entertain.

So for this week, that’s what I wanted to share! I hope this shows y’all why it’s important to have a support system, and some ideas on where to find it. Next week is back to some fun with romantic cliches I absolutely hate!

As always, I’d love to hear from my readers! How have you found support in your life? Do you have some more ways or ideas on how a writer can find support? Or do you have a different opinion on support systems?

 

Hugs and Loves my foxes!

The Month of Love

Whew! January is officially over, and it’s been a busy month around my house. I went back to school full time, my job started again after the break, and I’ve been working on the blog and my novel. I hope y’all had a great first month in 2018!

But now it’s time to move into the month of love. Yes, I’m totally gonna take advantage of the easy theme. Valentine’s day is a day that seems to split people into three camps. You love it, you hate it, or you completely ignore it. I fall into the last camp. I prefer to do little things throughout the year for my husband rather than fight the crowds to do something big on this day. But no matter what you feel about the holiday, it provides the perfect backdrop to start talking about love in your writing.

While I will have two posts that deal specifically with romantic relationships between partners, I also want to take the time to talk about something else. This week I’ll be taking a look at a writers support system. This can include friends, family, critique and writing buddies, etc. I’ll also have a fun little list of all the romantic cliches I detest, and how I’ve found ways to spin them into something better.

So let’s jump into the month of love! Stay tuned for this weeks post looking at the importance of the writer’s support network. 

Out of Control

The chalk scrapped across the blackboard as Ms. Thompson continued to write the historical dates out. A glance at the clock as she wrote the final date told her she needed to wrap things up.“Alright class, it’s almost time to go. Are there any questions?”

For a moment, the room remained quiet, twenty-four pairs of eyes merely watching her. Right when she was going to turn around, a hand in the back rose tentatively. The hand belonged to her newest student, Lauryn Finn. A new transfer student the girl rarely spoke up in her class, but when she did she asked the oddest questions. Last week when they had been covering the lead up to the Civil war the girl had been curious in the typical times civilians retired to bed. Certainly she kept Ms. Thompson on her toes.

“Yes Lauren?”

“Did soldiers report seeing people in bizarre clothing? Ya know, like the JFK conspiracy about a man in modern clothing?” The pale brunette asked.

Not the typical question a high schooler had. Ms. Thompson smiled anyway. “Well there were a few reports of bizarre incidents. Although I don’t know of any where they reported out of place clothing. Why do you ask?”

“Just wondering.”

Just wondering. Lauryn always seemed to be just wondering. But it never seemed to be the typical things Ms. Thompson’s other student’s wondered. Obscure things popped up now and then, but this was getting into the weeds. The bell overhead rang, and many of the students stood up. The mass exodus for the day had begun, and Ms. Thompson bid them farewell. She had planned to hold Lauryn back for a few minutes to dig further into these odd questions. But when she looked to the back of the room she noticed Lauryn was gone. Ms. Thompson was left to assume she’d escaped through the back entrance.

“What an odd girl.”

 

Lauryn walked along the leave strewn sidewalk in silence. Cursing herself the entire way from her school, Lauryn barely heard the other kids around her. It was stupid to ask those random questions in class. She knew that without a doubt. How long had she dealt with the strange looks in her previous schools? The other students would just assume that she was a nerd, looking too deeply into history when she should just be worried about passing. It was the teachers that were the problems. Again and again Lauryn had been pulled aside, told to stay after school, or worst of all, call her parents in. Teachers had grown concerned when they learned about her home life, and some even thought her obsession was due to that. Little did they know that her obsession was fueled by the most basic of concepts. Survival.

While all of the people around her were safe in their own time, Lauryn was cursed. She could never be sure when it would happen, but at any time she may be ripped out of this era and shoved back in time. It wasn’t even the cool kind of time traveling like in the movies, jumping back and forth. No, Lauryn was ripped away, thrust into a random era that she may or may not know anything about. Which was why her survival hinged on knowing the smallest details.

Turning up the walkway to her house, Lauryn was drawn from her thoughts. The two story white house looked nice enough, better than their old house. But no matter how nice it was to look at, it hid some pretty messy secrets. Thankfully, only her father’s car was in the driveway right now. As she opened the front door Lauryn could only hope that her mother worked late again tonight.

Inside, the house was quiet, but a distant muted sound of a TV told Lauryn where her father was. Kicking off her shoes off she continued through the house until she stood at the foot of the stairs next to her father’s office. She debated rushing up the stairs and completely avoiding her father but at the last minute she knocked on the door.

“Who is it?” Came the quiet voice.

“Dad? It’s me.”

The sound of shuffling feet came just before the door was open. There the thin form of her father stood. He attempted to smile, but the massive bruise on his cheek likely made that hard. “Hey there sugar plum.”

“Hey dad.” Lauryn replied, trying her best to keep her gaze off the bruise. That hadn’t been there when she came home yesterday.

“How was school today?”

So he was going to keep up the facade that nothing was wrong. Cool, so could she. “ Good, fine. I like it.”

“Alright sugar plum. I’m glad.” He said, his gaze looking past her. “Why don’t you go up and get some homework done? I’ll call you when dinner is ready.”

“Is mom joining us?”

“…I don’t know.”

Great, maybe she’d come down to just her dad and they could have a nice dinner. Or she’d come down to chaos. Leaning in to give her father a kiss on the cheek, Lauryn then turned and headed upstairs. It wasn’t until she heard the garage door slam that she realized hours had passed. When she looked at the clock she saw it was already past 6 o’clock. Worse, she could hear her mother’s voice from below.

“What the hell are you doing Robert? I don’t want that shit for dinner.”

Lauryn couldn’t hear her father’s quiet reply, but she could imagine it. Like most other nights that her mother was home, he’d try to make her happy. It wouldn’t work, likely at least partially to do with the smell of vodka on her mother’s breath. Soon enough Lauryn would start hearing things break against the wall as her mother threw anything she could find at her father. And finally, tomorrow there would be a new bruise on her father and a very apologetic mom. Rinse and repeat.

Sure enough, only a few minutes later Lauryn heard her mother’s shriek and the sounds of glass breaking. It had begun. Laying her head on her desk Lauryn covered her ears. All she could do was pray this would stop. She didn’t dare interject because even Lauryn wasn’t safe from her mother’s anger. And if Cynthia turned on Lauryn, her father would have to get physical to get Cynthia off of her. So instead she sat at her desk, praying that everything would stop. Tears pricked her closed eyes as the sounds increased, welcoming the darkness she found. If only she could stay in the dark and ignore the world around her.

 

The shatter of wood just across from her ripped a scream from Lauryn’s already torn throat. But it was drowned out by the sounds of war. She fell to her knees, clutching her ears and trying to block everything out. She’d never accidentally ended up in the middle of a battle before. Damn it!

Of all the times she let her emotions get the better of her, this was the worst. Close by she heard the pained screams of dying men. But if Lauryn hoped to get home she was going to have to open her eyes again. Bad enough she could still hear the sounds of war and death even with her ears covered, she was going to have to see it now too. Counting down from ten Lauren attempted to bolster her nerves. At one she finally opened her blue eyes, looking around her at the horror.

Not three feet from her a downed horse lay motionless, his rider having been thrown several feet away. The man lay still, honestly Lauryn thought he was dead until he gave a grown and moved. His dark blue uniform was stained even darker around a small hole just below his shoulders. The deafening sound of gunfire intermixed with the sounds of death left Lauryn feeling dazed. It was hard to tell if the fog that surrounded her was all in her head or from the smoke of a distant fire. Only when her knees began to go numb did Lauryn realize she needed to get up, the scratching grass reminding her that she was still alive. If she wanted to stay that way she needed to get up, and get back to her own time.

As she stood, the smell finally hit her, making her gag. She’d never smelled death this close before but today it lay like the fog surrounding her. Stumbling through the blood stained grass Lauryn did her best to not trip over the bodies or, god help her, the body parts. She wanted to go home and in order to do that she needed to focus. If she could concentrate enough maybe she could control this curse for once and jump back to her own time. Continuing through the battlefield she attempted to concentrate. She thought about her hard mattress, the freezing room, and the warmth of her old, beat up comforter. Which was the last thought she had before she tripped.

“Ow shit.” She cursed, pushing herself up. Lauryn froze suddenly as she realized that whatever she was on top of was not grass.

Looking down at the ground Lauryn’s throat closed, making her gasp for breath. Her hand lay atop a torso clothed in grey. The gray was stained to black and torn apart where obviously a large cannon had hit. But worst of all, the torso was missing part of it’s head and arm. Screaming in horror Lauryn scrambled away from the destroyed body. She thrust to her feet and took off in a sprint, barely looking around her as she raced to the treeline. Finally, after what felt like miles, Lauren reached the first tree and collapsed against it.

Tears streamed down her face as she sucked in big gulps of air. When she saw the blood staining her hands she wiped her hands against the grass. Again, and again, and again she wiped them feeling as her hands began to be cut by her desperation. After a time she stopped trying to erase the evidence from her hands. She tucked herself up against the tree, her arms wrapped around her bare knees. The tears still feel as she gasps began to slow, her breathing returning to normal. Beyond the trees the battle continued, but it began to sound further and further away. Left in its wake was the louder sound of silence.

Yet the silence was worse. Lauryn couldn’t shift through her mind enough to concentrate in this madness. Even her eyesight began to fog up, making her surroundings impossible to make out. Was she losing consciousness? No, no she couldn’t do that. She was as good as dead if she let herself remain here. Surely someone would notice a girl with pajama shorts and a tank top in the middle of a battlefield. They might let her live, or they could kill her on sight.

The tears began to turn from fear into sadness. Lauryn knew she was losing control but she couldn’t stop. Home wasn’t great, but it was better than here. What if she couldn’t get herself home? What if she was stuck here? She’d never get to see her mom and dad again. Her little sister Sophie would grow up and not remember her. She hated this.

Damn whatever curse had given her this ability. Why was she the only one cursed with the traveling ability. Yeah, ok, she loved history, but not this much. She didn’t want to live in another time. She wanted her own time, her own home. Lauryn ducked her head, resting her forehead on her knees.

A crunch to her left startled Lauryn. She hiccuped as she attempted to get her sobbing under control as another crunching sound reached her. Someone was coming this way. Lauryn didn’t have the strength to get up and make a run for it. The best she could do was shuffle to the side of the tree as a figure appeared from the treeline. She held her breath as the white clad figure continued to walk toward where she was hidden. Lauryn kept her gaze on the figure as it became clear it was a woman, a woman who looked strangely like…

“Ms. Thompson?” Lauryn asked, her voice hoarse.

The figure turned to her, coming closer until it was undoubtedly Ms. Thompson. She came to kneel beside Lauryn, a sad smile on her face. “Hello Lauryn.”

“What the hell are you doing here?”

“Because I’m like you Lauryn.” Ms. Thompson said, looking over Lauryn for injuries. “Are you hurt?”

“No, no I’m fine.” Lauryn said, taking Ms. Thompson’s outstretched hand. “But how did you know I’d be here.”

“ Lucky guess. We’ve been studying the Civil war, and that seemed like a likely place for you to end up.”

It couldn’t be that simple, could it? As Ms. Thompson helped Lauryn stand Lauryn wasn’t so sure she believed her teacher. There were literally hundreds of times and places she could’ve gone during this time. How did Ms. Thompson know this was the place she’d been. Hell, how did the blonde teacher know that she would even have travelled tonight? Unable to keep from asking, Lauryn tilted her head.

“How’d you know I would or even could travel?” Ms. Thompson glanced at her, but began to walk Lauryn deeper into the woods, keeping her arm wrapped around Lauryn’s mid section. The support was the only reason Lauryn could make this trek.

“You ask a lot of questions I did when I was young.” Ms. Thompson replied.

“That doesn’t answer my other question.”

“Maybe now isn’t the time for questions. We need to get away so we can get back.”

To that, at least, Lauryn could agree. “ When we get back, I want to know everything. How you found me, who you are, everything.”

Ms. Thompson didn’t respond immediately. At first she just looked at Lauryn, continuing down the path. Finally she nodded her head and Lauryn felt the first burst of relief since getting here. She could worry about everything else later. For now, Ms. Thompson was just going to get her home. With a deep sigh the two women continued into the forest, for the first time allied. It would not be the last time.

Welcome to the Library!

If I was ever to have an addiction, it would be books. My husband likes to tease me that I could give Barnes and Noble a run for their money. I like to think of myself as a personal library for all my loved ones. I’ve got a wide range of both fiction and non-fiction books that cover from true crime to history, romance to classics. Thus for the final post of the month I’ve decided to throw open my library doors and talk about some of my favorite books.

Not all of them will be about writing. At least one will be, but I wanted to do something beyond just improving your craft through how-to books. One of the simplest ways to improve your craft is by reading. When you read as a writer, you start to look at the mechanics of the story. Where the character’s well developed? Did the author throw way too much backstory? A whole new side of reading opens up to a writer. So I’m also going to cover books that I found expanded my craft through these avenues. So let’s begin!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Boy that title is a mouthful. Regardless, this book snuck up on me. I found it through the recommendation section on Goodreads. After reading the blurb I went in expecting to find a light read set in old Hollywood. Maybe a few twists here and there, nothing too big. Instead I was sucked into an emotional roller coaster right alongside the characters. I even teared up a bit at the end, it was that good!

I’ll give you a quick overview. Although normally elusive with the press, Evelyn Hugo agrees to tell it all, but only to Monique Grant. From the moment Monique is told this by her editor, she and the reader have one burning question: Why? As the interviews begins Evelyn keeps Monique on her toes, challenging and yet encouraging her at the same time. The two women are connected by something buried in Evelyn’s past and when it is all laid bare Monique will find herself at a crossroads.

That’s all I’m going to give away for the plot, because everything else you need to experience while it is happening. This book is so good, so powerful that I found myself tearing up at the end of it. And most of that is down to the fact that author Taylor Jenkins Reid does an incredible job making these characters feel like real people. As you read you feel for the characters because they feel like real choices and emotions that people go through. It was easy I could imagine Evelyn Hugo waltzing through old Hollywood. Easily I could imagine seeing her on movie posters or magazines. Monique Grant felt like a normal journalist, trying to balance the demands of work with her personal life. Even the side characters, particularly those from Evelyn’s past, ring a note of truth that blends into what we know of old Hollywood.

As a writer I saw many wonderful character development as I read through the books. There is a lot of debate about how much backstory to include and when. Not only is this book created a great way to get Evelyn’s back story, in obvious memoir style, but treats Monique just as well. Through her reactions to the things she learns from Evelyn we learn about what has brought Monique to her current situation.

This book also reveals an interesting story style. Similar to The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the title character is not the main protagonist. Much like Nick Carraway, Monique Grant begins the story in a position of naive bliss that is challenged by the introduction of the tragic title character. They both find their world views challenged and have choices to make in order to move forward. I highly recommend check the book out, as it was definitely a favorite of mine!

Here is the link to Amazon and Barnes and Noble

 
My Sweet Angel by John Glatt

Switching from fiction to nonfiction, I just finished this book. By the way, My Sweet Angel is the shortened title. The actual title is My Sweet Angel: The True Story of Lacey Spears, the Seemingly Perfect Mother Who Murdered Her Child in Cold Blood. Yeah, that’s another mouthful, so forgive me but I’m going to only refer to it by the shortened title.

The book covers Lacey Spears, a mother diagnosed with Munchausen by Proxy syndrome (MSBP), who ended up killing her son. It is a true crime novel that looks deeply into Lacey Spears from a young age all the way through her trial and conviction. It even includes an interview with Lacey Spears from jail. I would definitely say this falls into the category of “hindsight is 20/20”. As I listened to the audiobook I could see dozens of examples of red flags in this woman’s life from an early stage.

The one thing that I love about this story, is its commitment to telling the whole story, but also being grounded in being enthralling. A lot of people have problems with nonfiction, because even when it tries to keep reader’s attention, it can become dry and difficult to read. My Sweet Angel not only informs but it is an easy read that keeps the reader turning the page just like a good fiction story.

Beyond that I love learning about new topics. As a writer I don’t always know when a story is going to pop into my head. So when it does I have to sit and piece together different things, such as an understanding of a character’s back story. Maybe I’ll have a protagonist who suffered a terrible childhood because of their mother. Learning about MSBP and how it affects those involved gives me a new avenue. While My Sweet Angel only briefly covers it in relation to Lacey Spears, it still made me aware of it for the first time. Like many of my fellow writers, my curiosity is peaked and I’ll find more books or articles on the subject. If you like true crime I would recommend checking this book out.

 Here is the link to Amazon and Barnes and Noble

 

Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

If you’ve checked out my post on outlining, you’ve heard me talk about K.M. Weiland. This woman is one of my writing heroes. This book, which Weiland uses to explain her own outlining style, changed the way I write. She takes you through step-by-step, all the while offering encouragement and a personal narrative. This is no mere how-to book, but rather a published author taking the time to explain how she applied this to her own novels. In addition at the end of each chapter is a short interview with different authors opinions of outlining.

This book caused a revolution in my pre-novel writing style. When I was younger I never outlined, and hated the idea in general. But I didn’t realize that this could be why I burned out on my stories when I was faced with obstacles. Now I use a personalized version that works best for me, and I’ve seen my writing capabilities grow.

This book, above all the others, I cannot recommend highly enough for writers. You may not use every part of the process, but most can find at least one part to help you with story planning. Even if it is only the scene list, or the what if question, it is still something that will help.

Here is the link to Amazon and Barnes and Noble and her website

 

I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith

Taking a turn back into fiction, I Am Livia is a historical fiction set in ancient Rome. Specifically during the fall of the republic after Julius Caesar’s death and the rise of the empire under Augustus. This is one of my favorite time periods of history. And this book only adds to my love.

The book follows Livia, future wife of Augustus, starting in her early life through her marriage to Augustus. Although historically not much is known about Livia Smith breathes life into the character. As the book goes on you feel Livia’s need to survive and her ups and downs trying to do so. Her course is set, her loyalties tested, and Livia is thrown from the background into the spotlight during one of the most tumultuous times in Roman history.

This is one of my favorite historical fiction novels. The way the everyday life is shown in the time of the Romans, it is so seamlessly woven in that you feel like you’re following the characters through the city. If you’re a fan of historical fiction you know that one of the biggest parts of these type of novels, is setting everything up right. Nothing is worse than reading a novel set in 14th century France and having a woman demand that her husband make her coffee. Bleh! No! I plan to cover historical fiction in more detail later in the year but for now let’s just leave it at that.

Now some may think that it can be difficult to create a strong female character in these time periods. However, I think I Am Livia crushes that idea. In reality, what we do know about Livia, she was a strong and intelligent woman. Smith shows us throughout the book that Livia uses this strength and intelligence to work within her society’s expectations of women, but still influence the men around her. She works hard to keep her family safe, without drawing unnecessary attention. Just because she works behind the scenes does not mean that she is not a powerful woman. It is a great book that I highly recommend you check out!

Here is the link to Amazon and Barnes and Noble

 

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

This is my all time favorite author. Mariana Zapata is a bad ass indie author whose slow burn romances are to die for! Seriously, there is not a single book of hers that I don’t love. The Wall of Winnipeg and Me is hands down the best of the novels so far. Mariana gives us two great characters in Aiden Graves and Vanessa Mazur. The story is simple, yet provides ample amounts of tension and the building of their relationship.

After years of putting up with professional footballer Aiden’s attitude, Vanessa finally quits. But not long after Aiden approaches Vanessa with an offer she can’t refuse: Marry him so he can keep his green card for enough money to make her debt free.

The way Mariana Zapata uses the slow burn type romance and deep POV to plunge the reader into the story is masterful! It was through her books that I learned both of these techniques. This book is a big page turner, I read it in one sitting simply because I couldn’t put it down. If you’re interested in understanding how to build a good slow burn romance between characters that still sizzles throughout the book, this is definitely one to check out. I cannot recommend her highly enough. She has a new book coming out in February, along with enough books to keep you coming back for more!

Here is the link to Amazon and Barnes and Noble

 

Bonus Tv show!

I can’t apologize enough that this post was not up on Friday! My daughter and I caught a flu bug in the beginning of the week, so Tuesday and Wednesday were spent either helping her through it or in bed. After that I had two jam packed days of work and school. None of that is an excuse but it’s what ended up happening, which pushed my blogging back. So as a little bonus round as an apology, I’m going to share about a TV show I highly recommend because I’m HOOKED on it.

 

9-1-1

This new show on Fox focusing on first responders. I wasn’t sure on this one at first, because this isn’t my type of show typically. The closest I like would be Criminal Minds. But man, was I wrong! From the first episode I couldn’t turn away from the show. The characters are enthralling, complex, and moving. I found myself wanting to know what happens, and it is almost painful to wait for each weeks new episode! I keep wanting more, and more, and more! But the good news is, every week so far, the show has delivered. The show keeps proving week after week that it is going to keep my attention. If you have not checked this out I recommend that you do. It’s a great look at how to balance character development and tense story line.

Here is the link to Amazon

 

Alright ya’ll, the library is officially closed for the week! Next week is jam packed with lots of stuff for the Fox den my foxes! Up first will be the short story based on your votes on Facebook! You voted, so the story will be about a character whose emotions control time. After that will be the February announcement, followed up by the first post of the new month! Stay tuned my foxes, the den will be more like a hive next week!

The library may be closed, but that just means it’s time for some discussion! I’d love to hear if any of you have read these books or seen the show, and how did you feel about them? Or let me know about a book you’ve read or a show you’ve seen lately! Until next week!

4 Outlines That Will Save Your Life

Dare I dive into such a sticky topic? Outlines seem to be an area of writing that famously divides many writers. Those that dislike outlines defend their spots ferociously. They’ll tell you that outlines suck out the creativity and joy of discovery from writing. On the other side, outliners will defend their side as fierce. They’ll tell you there’s no way to write a novel without an outline.

When you’re new to writing, coming into this age old battle can feel overwhelming. How do you know which side is right? In the end, the choice depends on you. While I could not imagine writing a novel without an outline, I don’t think it’s impossible. There are plenty of authors who have been capable of this, and if that’s your style, wonderful! But, for those who want or need to give outlining a try, I’ve broken down four methods. These methods are ones that I have found success with in my personal writing. So I encourage you to explore these options, try some new ones out, and figure out a method that works for you!
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2018 goal setting

Alright now that we’ve figured how to make time to write, it’s time to figure out what goals to set and how to get them accomplished. January is the time almost everyone makes goals for the new year. But the problem is when you set goals on the bigger scale, it can be easy to forget to set the smaller steps needed to reach them. For example, it’s great to say you’ll get in shape in the new year. But if you don’t set the small steps of working out twice a week or begin cooking healthier meals, that big goal will stay just that. The same goes for writing.

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5 Ways to Make Time for Writing

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As a writer one barrier that many of us face is finding the time to write. We get the plot figured out, or need time to develop it. Then there are those characters we’ve fallen in love with that need a story. Or  we need to find that time to brainstorm ideas. No matter what stage you’re in, there’s one common issue present:

We need time to write.

So then, the question is how to make that time?
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Dust off your writing pens!

So how many folks have found themselves in this situation?

 

It’s New Years Eve, the countdown has begun! As friends and family gather around to toast to a new year, you’ve already got your list of New Year’s resolutions made. You’ll have things like getting healthy, saving money, or taking that big trip. But one item sticks out for you as a writer, and it seems like a simple one.

 

Get serious about writing more.

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