Sunday, November 28, 2010
I'm sorry I didn't get to say that to you earlier, but I was on a last-minute trip to Denver for Thanksgiving with my son and a big job interview.
It was one of those trips.
You know how when things happen at the last minute they tend to have little glitches? (At least they do for me.) Well, boy did I get glitched. Left and right, front and back, fore and aft. Glitched, glitched, glitched. But because of the help of many people (some of whom I have no names for) things worked out fine. So, let me take a moment for a little belated Thanksgiving:
Thanks to the airline folks who caught the mechanical trouble and got our planes changed out. Thanks to the airport folks who got me a different connecting flight after my first flight was delayed due to mechanical difficulties. Thanks to the airport folks who found my lost luggage and got it to me before my interview. Thanks to the vet for taking care of my sick cat, and to his staff for putting up with my MANY MANY calls to see how he was doing. BIG MUCHO THANKS to Cathy for house and pet sitting. BIG MUCHO THANKS to Tonya for taking care of Lucky the Wonder Dog. BIGGER EVEN MORE MUCHO THANKS to Cathy for coming in for the save when my laptop was damaged and I had to call her and have her do rescue information research for me on the fly long distance. BIG MUCHO THANKS to the receptionist and the lovely woman from the Personnel Department at the Greeley Public Schools for their kindness, consideration, and timely intervention. Thanks to my boss in Brady for letting me take the time off. And of course, thanks to my son, for letting me stay with him and providing me with a true Thanksgiving Feast. I love you kiddo.
Whew. I probably missed somebody. But that gives you a clue as to the kind of wild nuttiness that went on.
BUT the keys to what success I have had in this life have mostly been: persistence, hard work, persistence, flexibility, oh, and did I mention . . . PERSISTENCE. So it worked out. I would like to think the interview went well. I'm terribly nervous in interviews, and I never really KNOW how I do. But I'm going to try to think positive.
In the meantime. Hope you had a wonderful holiday. Be happy and take care. I plan to.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
It's been quite a while since I have popped by either blog. Life has intervened. Not in a bad way. Just has. Part of it is that the body has had to adjust to sleeping more thanks to the new meds. Part of it has been simple busy-ness. And part of it has been that there really hasn't been a lot to say. Boring, but true.
But, I do believe boring may be over. I am looking on the bright side. Things are starting to happen. Some of them are pretty darned terrific too.
I have also popped back in the motivational cds. So if I sound like a cheerleader shaking her pom poms, bear with me. I need that energy to get all of the half-done projects to completion, the body back in shape, and the move from the stalled in quicksand stage to completion.
And I want to be happy.
I have LOTS to be grateful for. I am living my dream of being a writer. I have people and pets that I love and who (really somewhat surprisingly) love me. I have food on the table and a roof over my head. I get to do things like read most of the Janet Evanovich/Stephanie Plum novels in order if I want. (I went from Butcher to Harris to Evanovich. LOTS of reading lately.)
Mainly, what I've been doing in my absence from posting is trying to pull my head together. I've been very scattered and somewhat burnt out. (Oh hell, who am I kidding, there was no somewhat to it.) I couldn't focus enough to decide what I wanted, let alone go for it. Don't get me wrong, I had a general goal. But you have to know specifics if you want things to actually HAPPEN.
So, today is a day for specifics. I still have to do some householdy stuff (the laundry fairies have apparently decided not to put me on their list darn it. Same for the housekeeping gnomes). But I have a whole weekend, and I know how to use it.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I am now over being sore and stiff. This is also good.
One of the minions (bless her heart) is replacing the Simon Green books for me. :)
I am still putting together minion packets for those LOYAL AS A LABRADOR folks. :) Since I've broken through the exhaustion and am writing again, it may be a couple weeks. I will try to make it worth the wait.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Well, it was a REALLY rough day at work, and I opened the door from the house into the garage and saw . . . disaster. TOTAL disaster.
Apparently the water heater sprang a leak and drained into the garage, so that all of the boxes on the bottom level were soaked. When they got soaked, they gave out, and all of the boxes on top tipped over, falling everywhere into a total wreck.
Today I got to clear out the garage, repack what could be saved, pitch what couldn't, while the landlord fixed the water heater.
I mostly lost books. Because, of course I have a Gazillion books and they're the heaviest, so they were on the bottom level. Gone is my complete collection of Agatha Christie; all but 2 of my Simon Green books, several of my Dick Francis mysteries, almost all of my writing reference books, one entire file cabinet worth of writing research, all of the bound and unbound original draft manuscript pages, old disks (which is no huge loss because they won't work in any of the computers I have now anyway but which I always kept for proof of the original origination of the various series); One or two of my idea notebooks; all of the certificates for the various awards my son won throughout his school career. (The trophies survived though.) Going through it was depressing, frustrating, and exhausting. But there you go. It could've been much, MUCH worse. So I am grateful. And now things are re-boxed nicely, labeled, re-taped, and in much better shape. So it's probably for the best. But I am going to take a LONG hot bath, (now that the water heater is working again) and go to bed.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I have FINALLY found the address book with your e-mail addresses. (It was in a small notebook that was in with some tax stuff. Since I was passive-aggressively avoiding going through it for my accountant . . . well, you get the gist.)
Since I have NOT done anything for the lackeys and minions for simply ages I find myself wondering if I even still HAVE any lackeys and minions. YIKES. How can I be a not-so-evil overlord without underlings? I can't. It's that simple.
SO, I'm going to send out an e-mail in the next few days and post here and on MySpace and Facebook. (Probably not Twitter. They don't like me on Twitter. I don't know why, but POO on them!)
Those loyal lackeys and minions who respond will receive a special gift. New lackeys and minions will receive something suitable, but not nearly so nice. (Rank has its privileges after all.)
And for those of you who wondered about the calendars last year.
They didn't turn out well. They looked like crapola. So I couldn't bring myself to mail them to you. Spent the money, but -- there you go. Quality control and all that.
As for the writing. I have been on an enforced hiatus. My body insisted on more sleep due to stress from the day job and the fact that I caught the flu. The flu is now gone. SO, I'm hoping to be able to write again. Of course the first bits are always crap. You get out of shape and practice in writing just as you do in an exercise program. Which I also need to do.
ANYWAY, be well, be happy, and if you are a lackey or minion and want to support your overlord, e-mail me at email@example.com with I AM LOYAL LIKE A LABRADOR in the Re.
Cie/C.T. Adams/1/2 of Cat Adams/Yes Ma'am your NSEO Ma'am
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Lovie's mama had never really believed in her talent. When, as a small child she'd run to her mother, looking for sympathy, she'd been met with a swat on the behind and told to "shut your lyin' mouth."
So she'd stopped telling. She kept it a secret from everyone. Everyone except Jewel Johnson, her very best friend in the whole world. Jewel knew. Jewel understood. Which was good. Because when things got very bad Lovie had someone to run to, someone to tell.
Like the night when mama's pimp decided to "teach her a lesson" use her as an example to keep the other ho's in line. Lovie woke in a cold sweat, lying in the bed next to Jewel, and she knew. Her mama was alone, afraid, and dying; bleeding her life away under a pile of garbage next to a dumpster in the alley between Second and Jefferson streets.
Crawling out of bed she tiptoed into the Johnson's kitchen where Geneva, Jewel's mama, had her cell phone on the charger. With trembling fingers she took the phone and dialed 9-1-1, praying that the person on the line would believe her.
That had been almost years ago. Mama never spoke of it. Grandma had picked Lovie up from school, driven her to get mama from the hospital, and just kept driving. All the way to Chicago. Now mama lived down the street from Grandma and Uncle Leroy and worked as a checker at the Quicki Mart. Lovie was the first one in the family to go to college. She lived in the dorm with a roommate who was never there, worked part time at the campus bookstore, and drove an old beater of a Toyota out to church and to visit the family pretty much every Sunday.
On the outside her life looked pretty ordinary. She worked hard to keep it that way. In spite of her talent.
Sunday night rolled around again. It had been a good day, in spite of the weather. It had been a cold day for spring, just this side of freezing, so that the mist-laden wind off the lake cut through you like a sharpened knife. Now that the sun was going down the moisture on the roads was starting to freeze forming black ice that was practically invisible and dangerous as hell. She closed the door to the dorm room behind her, tossing her purse and keys onto the battered old desk against the wall. Shrugging out of her jacket, she kicked off her shoes. She was glad to be home. Glad to be off the roads. The drive had really taken it out of her. And while she should probably study, she was too exhausted for it to do her any good. So she stripped off her clothes, pulled on the oversized tee-shirt she wore to bed most nights, and crawled beneath the covers. She figured she was too tired to dream.
She was wrong.
Okay guys. I'm out of gas. End of part one, draft one.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
All of us, whether we like to admit it or not, secretly believe that we're special, unique, and gifted. And maybe we are.
But we're not always gifted in the direction we want to be. And sometimes, even if we are, the timing is wrong, or life intervenes, and we suddenly look up and realize . . .
It isn't going to happen.
For whatever reason, there's no longer the chance of it coming true.
In that moment a part of you dies. Not even a little part. And the pain is incredible. Some people can't cope. They end it all because they're not willing to "settle." Others become bitter and angry, lashing out at everyone, but most particularly at those "lucky ones" who have succeeded in achieving the dream.
But I admire the others. The ones who look at the dream the way you look at a lost lover, with regret, some sadness, but an appreciation for something special that's time has ended. These are the people who find themselves another dream, a different one, one they can still achieve: the athletes in the paraplegic games, the wheelchair racers, the seventy year old who takes up painting for the first time.
And sometimes, surprisingly, the second dream becomes just as passionate, just as important, just as fulfilling. Maybe even more so. Yes, there will always be the bittersweet memory of what could have been. But the joy of what IS is enough to compensate for it.
There are other joys as well---smaller in scope, but no less important. The strength of a small child's hug when Grandma comes to visit. The awe-inspiring sight of meteors streaking across a midnight sky. Achievement is not everything. It is possible to be so goal oriented that you miss the journey--and the joy of living. What's the old joke -- "nobody on their deathbed ever says 'I wish I spent more time at work.'"
When the dream of a lifetime isn't achievable it's easy to believe that you're NOT important, NOT special, NOT worthwhile.
But it isn't true.
Just my thoughts. For what it's worth.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
The second, a trip to visit my parents in Illinois was absolutely spectacular in the warm family way. I'd missed them horribly and am SOOOOOO glad I got to visit.
Also in there were the edits, and attempts at helping Cathy on the current manuscript, and the launch of Siren Song, etc. All of these are good and happy things.
But I am now freaking exhausted. Sleep tonight will be absolutely glorious.
I realized just HOW badly the lack of sleep was affecting me when I did not in the slightest remember the contests I'd put in a couple of blogs launching Siren Song. Didn't have a clue what the entrants were talking about. Told Cathy it must have been one of the ones she sponsored. She denied it vehemently. So I wrote the publicist and a couple other people asking them if they knew about it. Imagine my embarassment when, after I'd been driving an hour to the nearest city to deal with bill paying and business shopping emergencies I realized that I was the one who'd done it. At like 4:00 or 4:30 in the morning. So maybe I get a bye on the whole not remembering it thing. I'm REALLY not at my best in the early early morning.
One good thing about the travel. I started having some wonderful ideas for short stories and sticky plot points in the novels, which is quite cool.
I also am doing some things that are meant to help others (like the woman who needs to get her dog trained as an assistance animal and needs autographed quilt pieces which she will then use in the quilt she is putting up for auction to raise money. And other things for other people as well.
But for now, and the nonce, I am going to snug the puppydog and go to BED, where I will indulge in glorious sleep.
Monday, September 27, 2010
I love the writing gig. But it is exhausting. And exhilerating. Must never, ever forget exhilerating. Because all my life I wanted to be able to say things like: "TOMORROW'S THE RELEASE DATE FOR THE NEXT BOOK." Which it is.
Which is freaking cool come to think on it. Not only was there one book. There have been MANY books. Enough that I can refer to the NEXT one knowing there were not only several preceding it, but are several more scheduled to follow. HOW COOL IS THAT?
Seriously, from the time I picked up my first picture book I wanted to be an author.
And I am.
So, no matter how much I whine about deadlines, (Which should really be called something else if you're not supposed to whine. I mean, really, DEADlines just BEGS for whining.) I love what I do. I love the blogs (like this one) that have no point, but are meant to keep me in touch with the folks who actually read the books, or the ones at places like BITTEN BY BOOKS where I get lots of new folks commenting on my supposedly intelligent post (you will note the qualifier. On days like today I'm really not sure how intelligent the post actually is.) and competing for a prize.
But now I am tired. Tomorrow the edits are due on Demon Song. Tomorrow is the release day for the NEXT BOOK Siren Song. This is my career and I am proud of it, and happy and honored that people enjoy playing in my imaginary worlds.
Joy to you all.
On another note (C#) I am back from the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Convention in Denver. It was a WONDERFUL event, and I met lots of great book people. Book people are the best! Of course the travel wore me out. It always does. So I spent most of Sunday sacked out. I got up for church and to eat. That's about it. Oh, I did take a short walk in the evening to get the groceries so I COULD eat. But I think in the last 48 hours I've slept something like 30 of them. And I am now feeling MUCH better.
I got a migraine in the airport in Denver. It was bad enough that I needed to hurl. But I couldn't hurl for fear that my head would explode---and I'd survive it.
For those of you who think a migraine is just a "headache" let me give you a couple of comparisons: (End each with "as headache is to migraine")
Hill is to Everest . . .
Cup of water is to the Pacific Ocean . . .
$.01 is to the national deficit . . .
You get the idea.
Fortunately, I took something and after an hour or so I was reasonably functional---at least enough to get home. Thank God for medicine. Seriously.
Okay, I'm off.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Thrilled that I found out I am actually in an anthology with Neil Gaiman. How cool is that?
HAVE to get moving on some of the stuff on my plate. But this morning I AM WRITING.
Sometimes in the press of all of the other happy horseshit involved in "being a writer" I lose the time for actually doing the freaking job. But if there is no copy, there IS no job.
SO, I'm off to write. And just thinking that makes me smile. I'm beginning to wonder if that wasn't the source of the grumpies I was having. Too much time working on the business without enough time working on the creative. HMNNN. Something to think about.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Or, in the alternative, I need to gather receipts and enter them into Quicken on the new computer for taxes.
AND, I REPEAT.
I DON'T WANNA.
I have discovered that it has now been long enough since I had fun (as opposed to a nice time, which while, well, nice, is not FUN) that I may have forgotten how. THIS is a problem that requires attention. But apparently NOT today as I have to find my freakin' skirt before I do the upcoming appearance, and I really DID promise to find the freakin' magazine as well.
Friday, September 17, 2010
So I will probably do most of my marketing to Facebook. I mean, I had a contest for a signed copy of Siren Song to folks to responded and I am STILL getting entries the next day while I did not get a SINGLE RESPONSE on Twitter. Not one. (Listen to the sound of crickets.)
I will also try to do better about blogging so that maybe the folks here and on Myspace will come back. But that's trickier. Because while it is mostly stream of consciousness stuff, my consciousness has been pretty damn dammed lately. (Robust family of beavers moved in or something. I believe their last name is "EXHAUSTION")
And look, it's time for the day job again.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
I have just under ten minutes before the day job officially starts. I am in a good mood. For a Monday that is darned near miraculous so we should all look up and say "THANKS".
And now we return to our regularly scheduled programming.
I have been writing for a while now. Okay, let me rephrase that. I have been writing since I started learning to read. I have been being published regularly for a while now. Like a lot of writers I can't always tell you where inspiration comes from. But I do have "touchstones." When I'm writing a book it helps to have sensory input that puts me in the book reality instead of the office. And over the past few years I've collected one or two things per book.
So far the collection consists of (in no particular order, just how I remember them).
Framed prints of the covers of our books.
WIP -- A dragon pocketwatch with a blood red stone, ordered from e-bay, arriving soon; and a dragon ear-wrap earring, ditto and a set of Chinese dragon bells.
Timeless Moon -- A porcelain doll that I swear is exactly the way I saw Liselle/Amber in my head in her past.
Howling Moon -- A stuffed jaguar that Cathy gave me.
Blood Song - the photo that inspired the whole series for me and a bunch of music that speaks to me of the various characters.
Magic's Design - a statue of the tree of life. (Bonsai)
There's more, but I'm running out of time. But it is fun/cool being able to look at my shelves and see my touchstones, reliving the process of creating those worlds.
Friday, September 10, 2010
SO, while yesterday at work sucked big-scum-covered-pond-rocks with a Hoover, and I am just about as empty-headed as a human being can possibly be, I am not going to blog any longer. I am going to fess up to my procrastination and kick it in the nu..... teeth. Kick it in the TEETH.
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Day job has been shorthanded and balls-to-the-wall busy and stressful, and since it's summer there have been vacations to work around (including my time off to go to Colorado and look at the house).
There have been the negotiations on said house. We have hit snags, but I think it will work out.
There have been the financial arrangements to try to get said house (time consuming and a pain in the patoot since most banks aren't thrilled when most of your income is through self-employment).
My computer died (after ten years of hard use) and I had to shop, find one I wanted, buy it, install it, load the modem software, load all of the other software, unload the stuff that won't work with Windows 7, swear, find other software to replace that stuff (YES it was old, but it did what I wanted the way I wanted darn it).
Because of the paragraph above I got behind on oh, you know, that whole WRITING thing.
And things still aren't slowing down.
SO, I can officially say that until mid-November, I will probably be visiting only sporadically.
BUT I MISS YOU.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
If all goes well I will be moving at the tail end of October/beginning of November and will be settled in my new home by Thanksgiving.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
But while I can ignore the alarm clock (or sleep through it, despite the fact it's on full volume and in my awake moments makes me cringe with its resemblance to one of those civil alert sirens), I cannot ignore the cat.
Tibbs is the spokescat for the animals in the household and he has an entire repertoire of moves to get me out of the bed. (Think "Simon's Cat" without the ball bat.)
I am very excited about househunting this weekend in Colorado. I really believe I may have found the place. NOW I need to find the employment, etc.
Wish me very good luck.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
First -- my computer is now heading toward retirement. It's been limping along for a while, but the last windows update has finally done it in. Windows now takes ALL of my memory on the C drive so that I can't run anything. Of course the timing sucketh. But doesn't it always? I mean, for a writer there is never a good time to have computer problems. But, there you go. I will keep you advised. Unfortunately, this has put me behind on EVERYTHING because the day job has heated up, so I can't do my personal things during the day, and I can't do things at night, which translates to nothing getting done.
Second -- my plumbing is giving me fits. So I am waiting for a decent hour to call the landlady to get the plumber in. NOT the way I had envisioned spending my Saturday, but again, there you go.
Third -- I MAY HAVE FOUND MY HOUSE. As y'all know, I've been trying to move back to Colorado for a LOOOOOOOOOOONG time. And between one thing and another it just hasn't worked out. BUT, I think I may have found a house I can love AND afford. I will be going to look at it next week and will keep you advised. WOOOO HOOO!
Fourth -- still haven't adjusted to the meds. Sleeping a LOT. Of course, part of that could be the heat. The body does not love the triple digits. It just doesn't.
"There once was a girl from Nantucket . . ."
"Stop. Stop right there. Whatever you're about to say, just don't." I raised my hands to ward off what was most likely going to be an obscene limerick. I mean, really Nantucket? It just BEGS for a certain rhyme.
"Aw come on Nan, you said you needed a good laugh." Kevin gave me puppydog eyes. He's good at it. He's got the biggest, chocolate brown eyes you've ever seen, with lashes that most women would kill for. Of course he knows it, and uses it to his advantage every chance he gets. He's not a player, or an ass, but a flirt? Oh hell yes. He has been trying, unsuccessfully, to get into my pants for most all of the two years I've known him. I don't think he's really that interested in me personally. If it was, I might take him up on it. But it's the challenge that interests him. So I won't. "What's the matter anyway? You haven't been yourself for a couple of weeks." He leaned up against the counter, his uniform vest falling open to give me a good look at a very nice polo shirt worn over an even nicer chest.
What was the matter with me? Other than a bout of serious sexual frustration, the usual lack of money, and an ongoing argument with my soon-to-be-former-if-she-didn't-pay-up roommate? I was bored. Stupid, I know. I mean, yeah, my job isn't great. But it's a job. In this economy I'm glad to have it. Terry, the guy I've been dating off-and-on, is nice enough. A bit dull, predictable. No. No, dependable. I need to start thinking positive. I can absolutely depend on Terry to . . . be dull as dishwater.
I turned to Kevin. Looking him straight in those big brown eyes I told him the absolute truth. "I'm bored. Every day of my life is just like every other day. Just once I'd like a little adventure, some excitement."
Be careful what you ask for.
Sometimes you get it.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
ANYWAY, it's called Lady Lazarus it will be coming out from Tor. It was good, but I find I'm having a hard time coming up with a pithy quote for it.
I'm also having a hard time getting anything done--including posting (as you may have noticed). It has to do with having my prescriptions changed and starting exercising. Instead of having insomnia I am now sleeping like a dead thing for hours. This is good for my body. It is not so good for my productivity. And oddly, it's not that I'm taking sleeping pills. I'm not. But my body is having the sleep as a side-effect to the prescription for another minor medical thing. SO, I'm doing better physically, but my life feels like it's getting away from me.
Alas, the heat has also been baking any semblance of ambition out of me. There are people who are okay with long spells in the triple digits. I am not one of them. Nor am I good in the negative temperatures. I know, fuss, fuss, fuss.
I have been having trouble again with packages not getting where I need them to be. Sigh. One of my projects is to track down everybody who has won something to ask them if they got it.
Now, off I go, hi ho hi ho.
Monday, August 09, 2010
This is a good thing. It gives us hope. Because no matter how much you may have screwed up in the past, you get to move forward and can change things. But no matter how successful you are, you need to be careful, because you can't coast.
Habits are hard to change, but they CAN be changed.
I have several times declared a "do over" here on the blog. Mostly my life is very good. But like everyone else I screw up. And because I tend to take risks I can screw up pretty spectacularly. And since I believe we are responsible for our actions, inactions, and the results of our actions and inactions, it can sometimes take quite a while for me to regroup after some of the more intense screwups. And that's okay too. Because we learn from our mistakes if we're willing.
I have been wrestling with myself for a bit now trying to figure out the big questions.
What do I want?
What am I willing to do to get it?
What am I NOT willing to do?
Will it be attainable if I do what I'm willing to do, or do I need to let it go?
I read a historical paranormal (they're looking for a quote, which I don't usually do.) It was quite good. The two big questions in it were:
Who do you love?
Are you working for the light or the dark?
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Just watched Bowling for Soup's "1985". Still bopping around grinning. Is it a bad thing that I recognize every one of the videos they're spoofing? I do miss my hair metal. Truly. And I can SOOOOOO relate to the lyrics. I mean, seriously, MTV stood for MUSIC television. Been a LONG time since they could say that hunh. And "The Real World" just freakin scares me. Of course, for the most part I really am not a fan of reality television. Those shows SO aren't my reality. Of course my reality would bore the socks off of everybody. (Not the pants. That would be too interesting. Nope, the SOCKS.)
Next week I'll come up with the new serial. But for today, know that I'm bebopping around singing:
Way before Nirvana
U2 and Blondie
and music still on MTV
her two kids
in high school
They tell her that she's uncool.
'Cause she's still preoccupied
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
But I don't usually read them.
1. Because it's too late. The book is on the shelves. It's finished the editing process. For good or bad, I can't go back and change it.
2. Because if the reviews are great I get a swelled head. Praise is a wonderful thing. Getting cocky isn't. And yes, I try not to. But sometimes it's wonderful to have the old ego get a good stroking.
ON THE OTHER HAND
3. Because if the reviews are horrible I get seriously down in the dumps, wonder if I'm really any good at this, etc. One bad review has more power than 50 good ones. Seriously.
So, write your review. Post your review. I thank you for the time and effort. I appreciate you letting other readers know what you think so that they will (hopefully) read the books. But know that I probably won't read the review.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Oh, and I colored my hair. Reddish brown. Highlights to follow. I also (GASP) trimmed the ends and bangs myself. This means that they may be crooked and I will get scolded harshly by the hairdresser when, eventually, I go out of town to get it officially cut. But I literally COULD NOT STAND IT ANOTHER MINUTE!!! And even crooked (I'm guessing here, since I can't see the back and cut it by bending over and combing it down first. I did check using two mirrors after though and it didn't look too bad.) would be better than it was, which was hideous.
Alas, I am also losing quite a lot of hair. This, of course, is due to the thyroid and pituitary crap. Since I'm really not feeling bad I must only be off a bit. I have an appointment with the doctor soon. But honestly, if the worst that happens is my hair gets thinner, I will live with it. Actually, I'll have to live with it anyway, probably. But while I would not particularly like to go bald, I still have quite a lot of hair left.
Oh, and I've been exercising. Which means that I will be sore for a day or two. But they swear it is good for me and I DO feel better once I'm a week or two into it. Also, losing weight seems to help with the thyroid meds. (Don't ask me why. Just seems to. Maybe less mass=more effective.) Of course the thyroid/pituitary crap does making losing weight considerably harder. But HEY, I like a challenge, right?
Okay, day job calls. Gotta go.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Ryan smiled at the sound of Carrie's gasp. It was the nastiest smile I'd ever seen. It promised trouble of the worst kind. He drew the gun and used it to gesture that the girls should go ahead of him into Jen's room. As they passed I saw that Jen had a knife palmed and held against her thigh. That terrified me. Because a knife would be no match for a gun and, smart as she was, she might just try something stupid if he made her desperate enough.
"A computer. Well, well, aren't we coming up in the world."
"I bought it at the junk shop. It's too old for you to pawn."
He looked me over carefully. While he did I sent an urgent e-mail to everyone on the girls mailing lists: "HELP! RYAN BROKE IN. HE HAS A GUN!!! CALL THE COPS!!" All caps, LOTS of exclamation points. Everybody in the girl's circle knew Ryan was bad news. Hopefully one of them would be online and would do something.
"You're probably right." He finally admitted. He ordered the girls to sit on the bed and began throwing things around, rummaging through Jen's meager belongings, deliberately making as much mess as he could. It was obvious he was enjoying the tight-lipped fury she couldn't hide. While he was ransacking the place, I did a little hacking, managing to get control of the traffic camera attached to the stoplight a block over. I rotated it until it was aimed directly through the bedroom window.
Try as I might, I couldn't think of much else I could do. Not with him standing so far away.
"Nothing. Not a fuckin' thing. You are so pathetic." He shook his head. Grabbing the lamp from the makeshift desk with his left hand he swung it in a vicious arc, stepping towards me as he did. Jen and Carrie shrieked as the metal base smashed into my monitor with the sound of breaking glass and the crack of shattering plastic.
PAIN, hideous pain shot through me. He was off-balance from the blow. He was in reach. This was my only possible chance. I wrapped my cords around his ankles without him noticing. When he lunged to grab my base unit the cords tripped him, sending him crashing to the ground.
Everything seemed to happen at once. The gun went off, the shot shattering the window. Ryan's head hit the corner of one of the cinderblocks forming the bookshelves, breaking open his skull. Pulled off-balance I felt myself crashing downward onto his inert form.
I woke on a workbench. A fancy new monitor had been attached to me. I was in a new case. I felt . . . great. Really great.
Taking a look around I saw Carrie and Jen counting money out to the skinny man with glasses standing in front of the workbench.
"I still think you guys are nuts. I mean, yeah, the guts of it were still okay, but it's old. I could get you a much newer model for less than you're spending "
"No." Carrie said firmly.
"Absolutely not!" Jen gave him a horrified look. "We'll pay. But we want Ed. He's special to us."
Glad they thought so. The two of them were pretty special to me, too.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Life is incredibly busy. I only have a couple minutes until I have to start in at the day job. I'm looking forward to posting the finale of "Ed" for the breakfast serial tomorrow, and I have a pretty cool idea for the next one brewing in the back of my mind.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Oh, and before I forget, I am excited to announce that I am now represented by Lucienne Diver of The Knight Agency. :) Merrilee Heifetz, my previous agent, is a wonderful person and a tremendously skilled agent, but we had a different vision for my individual future (aside from the joint projects with Cathy). So with no animus, or onus on either party, a change has been made.
NOW ON TO THE SERIAL:
You expect that if bad things are going to happen, they'll happen at night. The burglar, or rapist will sneak in through the bedroom window in the wee hours between bedtime and sunrise. It isn't always so. Sometimes the bad things happen in broad daylight.
I don't know how Ryan found out the girls were doing well. Maybe he heard it from one of the patrons from the bar, or around the neighborhood. Maybe he noticed the curtains and decided to investigate. I suppose it doesn't matter. But disaster struck on Saturday afternoon. The girls came back from the store, arms laden with groceries. Carrie hooked a foot around the edge of the door to kick it closed and followed Jen into the kitchen. She would've locked it after she set down the bags in her arms. She always did.
She never got the chance.
They were chattering and laughing in the kitchen as, very quietly, Ryan opened the door and stepped into the living room. He pulled it quietly closed behind him, flipping the lock.
"Well, well, well. Would you look at this. You two sure seem to be doing well."
"Get out." Carrie's voice was cold. In less than a second, her cheerful expression had hardened like stone. Slowly, carefully, Jen moved her body so that she faced Ryan. Hand behind her back, she very quietly reached into the silverware drawer and pulled out a steak knife.
"Now is that any way to talk to the love of your life?" He scolded. He sounded almost obscenely cheerful.
"Get out." She repeated. She was furious, but I could hear a tiny thread of fear in her voice. Apparently Ryan could too. He smiled.
"Oh, I don't think so. Not without what I came for."
"What do you want?" Jen asked. She held the knife in a white-knuckled grip behind her back, blade ready for an upward thrust. Clever girl. It's too easy to block a downward strike.
"You always did get right to the point." The fake cheer faded from his face. "What do you think I want?"
"Money." Jen answered. "That's what you always want isn't it?"
"Got that right. And you two seem to have more than enough to spare."
"I've got twenty bucks." Carrie said. She was still angry, but there was a sense of tired hope in her voice. An almost audible thought that, if she gave him her cash, maybe he'd just go. "I spent the rest at the store."
He shook his head in mock sorrow. "Ladies, ladies, I just know you can do better than that. LOOK at this place." He smiled dangerously. "Jen, why don't we just check in that bedroom you used to keep locked up so tight. I just bet there's something worth pawning in there."
He turned toward the bedroom door, and the light jacket he wore unzipped moved slightly, showing the gun tucked into the waistband of his jeans.Carrie gasped, her eyes widening in fear.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
I have friends who are a couple who had two children. They are a loving couple, great, doting parents, who are adventurous, really involved . . . great. And a little over a year ago they lost one of their daughters. It was sudden, unexpected, and horrifying. And there is absolutely nothing I can do to ease their pain.
I really wish there was.
Monday, July 12, 2010
First, we take it absolutely for granted. It's like the air we breathe, the ground we walk on, gravity. Unless something goes wrong ("Oh CRAP, I'm LATE") we pay it no attention, or even wish it away. ("I can't wait for the weekend." "WHEN will this meeting END?") Very seldom do we actualy live in the moment, appreciating it for what it is: a truly fleeting thing. The next moment is never promised for us. We could end. But time will keep flowing on.
People can live in the future. "Someday baby, we'll have enough money to take that vacation you've always dreamed of." Or they can live in the past, "When I was a kid . . .."
But mostly we just exist in it without ever paying attention to it at all. Then suddenly we look up and a huge chunk of it has passed and we kind of blink and go "WHOA how did THAT happen?"
And while I am sorry about it, you CAN'T appreciate every moment. I mean, get real, who's going to appreciate getting reamed by their boss, or broken up with, or (oooo baby) having the flu? To paraphrase from The Incredibles, if every moment is special, none of them are.
So here's to time. For the next hour or so of it I am going to try to stay off of the internet (which eats big whomping chunks) and try to write something.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Ryan left that night. Things were tense the first few days, wondering when he'd come back. But when days stretched into weeks, the tension eased and things slowly began to improve.
Carrie got a job waiting tables at the local bar. It wasn't a lot of money. But it was steady, and it was enough. The sheets that had been hung over the windows with tacks were replaced with curtains---cheap, but cheerful and pretty. Ramen noodles gave way to Hamburger Helper and vegetables.
After some discussion the girls decided to chip in and get basic cable with internet. Now it was my turn to shine. I made sure both girls got plenty of coupons in their e-mail boxes, but screened the spam and scams. When Jen began writing seriously I surreptitiously collected writing contests for her inbox, screening out the ones that weren't reputable, and flat out failing to post the ads and solicitations by folks listed on sites like Writing Predators, and Predators and Editors. Her word processing program had a red button marked "ED" at the top that I'd installed. She thought it was a standard editing feature for the software installed on the machine. It wasn't. But I wasn't going to tell her different. She'd hit ED and I'd make editorial comments and suggestions. Both girls began calling me "Ed." It pleased me to no end. I'd never had a name before.
She worked hard and her writing, and her life, began to steadily improve. So it was no surprise to me when after about six months she placed in a short story contest and won a little money. The girls celebrated with steak and a bottle of wine, toasting each other, me, the future. It was a spectacular night, the best of my life.
I should've known it was too good to last.
Friday, July 09, 2010
Got my fact checking back. I hadn't done too horribly considering I was using internet sources, which tend to be limited and not always reliable. (Yes, there are good ones. But there are also bad ones, and it's hard to tell which are which sometimes.) I got to include some specific details I hadn't known, which helped me to beef up the word count. It's still a little short, but I sent it off to the editor. We'll see what she says.
I have to get moving. I'm the only staff member in the office this week, and it's a ZOO.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
As soon as my friend gets back on my fact checking, I'll finish editing it and send it off.
It's a romance. In fact, it's one of the most romancy things I've ever written.
We'll just have to see whether or not I've pulled it off properly.
Saturday, July 03, 2010
BAM, BAM, BAM.
The pounding not only shook the doorframe, it shook the wall. I could feel my cord shudder in its plug.
"Open the f***ing door!" A male voice, slurred with drink and drugs. I was guessing it belonged to Ryan. Such a charmer, waking the entire building at 2:30 in morning.
"Yeah, like that's gonna happen." Jen muttered.
"You're gonna give me the f***ing rent money, and you're doin' it now."
I watched as she sat up in bed, glanced at the clock and winced. Someone on the floor below was pounding on the ceiling with a broomstick in a non-verbal complaint about the racket Ryan was making. The sound was unmistakeable.
"I gave it to the landlord yesterday." The word asshole was implied, but not stated.
"You what?" He was stunned, and outraged.
"I ran into him in the hall." She took a deep breath. "He demanded the money and he told me that if we didn't catch up on last month in the next week he was throwing us out."
There was a pregnant pause. I could hear Carrie in the background. "Last month? Ryan, last month was when I . . . you had me . . . I mean, that's the only reason I . . ." She sounded like she was starting to cry and I had a feeling I didn't want to know what Ryan had had her do to earn their part of the rent.
Ryan's voice was gruff. "He's a lying bastard. I gave him that money."
Even I could tell he was lying, and it's not like I came with polygraph software.
"Look," Jen said with more calm and patience than I would've been able to muster, "I paid him for this month. I don't have any more money. I have to go to work in the morning and I need some sleep. Good night." She flopped down onto her mattress, pulling the blankets up over her head. It took a while for her to fall asleep though. No surprise. Hard to relax when you can clearly hear the sound of your roommate's heartbroken sobs through the closed door.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Okay, yes, it's been a few days. Maybe even a week or so. (I'm not sure. I didn't look.) You probably wonder what I've been up to. (Then again, maybe not. But we'll pretend you do so I have something to write about besides ENJOY THE 4th!!)
I am a workaholic.
I don't think about that too often. And I usually don't think of myself that way. But my son has accused me of it more than once, and, looking at the evidence, he's probably right. I have the day job. I have the writing. And when I'm not at one, I'm generally doing the other. I have had 1 vacation in my adult life that wasn't work or family related. Since I am a (ahem) mature adult, that's pretty freaking pathetic.
So I took 3 days off. Totally off. Laid around and READ. As you probably guessed, most writers are avid readers. But what no one tells you is that, once you start writing professionally the grueling deadlines make it VERY difficult to find time to read. Particularly so if you have a day job (which most of us do for the first several years).
I read 5½ books in 3 days. I blasted through the 2nd to most recent Vladamir Tod (Excellent YA Heather, by the way. Congrats!) And I went through 4 of the Sookie Stackhouse books. I was starting to re-read a particularly good section and wound up getting so caught up in it that I read to the end again. A sign of an excellent book. BIG kudos to Charlaine Harris (who doesn't need mine, she's got plenty more important ones stacked up. But she deserves every one.)
Alas, I am now back at the day job and must get to work.
Good news on the horizon. I'll keep you posted.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
She carried me up three flights of stairs before she reached her goal, a paper-thin door with peeling pale-green paint the worn metal numbers reading 302. She kicked gently at the bottom of the door and shouted "Carrie, let me in. My arms are full."
There was some grumbling from inside and the door was jerked open by a rumpled looking female, her eyes half-lidded from sleep.
"Jen? You got a computer?!" Her eyes came fully open, her voice ringing out loud and clear.
"SHHHHHH! You don't need to shout it out to the neighborhood. Do you want us to get robbed?" My new owner shoved past her irritably, making her way to the kitchen. She set my box on the table and rummaged a set of keys out of her pocked. She selected the newest, still bright and shiny, and slid it into an equally new deadbolt installed in the first door in the hall outside the kitchen. "Is Ryan still out of town?" She opened the door, revealing a clean, but spartan bedroom. Propping the door open with the nearest book (there were a lot of them) she came back to retrieve me.
"He's back. He went to the liquor store. I should probably warn you, he's pissed about the deadbolt. Said, 'What? She thinks we're going to steal her goddamned books? Like that's gonna happen.'"
She leaned against the doorframe, watching as Jen began unloading my component parts and setting them up on the desk she'd created using an old wooden door and some cinderblocks. She'd cleverly filled the knob hole with a plastic drinking glass to use as a pencil cup. More bricks and boards had created the shelves that lined one whole wall---shelves filled with worn books and magazines from the classics to tabloids. It was all neat. All organized, and completely alien to the rest of the apartment.
"It's not the books." Jen answered tersely. Her expression was closed off, her eyes dark and angry.
Carrie sighed. "I can't believe you're still pissed about that. Nothing happened. He was high as a kite." There was a long pause. "He even apologized." She made that sound like a miracle. Apparently Ryan never apologized for anything. And he hated books. Maybe I was being judgmental, but I was beginning to really dislike the guy, and I hadn't even met him.
"Don't tell him about the computer." Jen said seriously. "I got it at the junk shop. It's old. He wouldn't be able to get any money for it. But he'd give me shit about it. You know he would."
Carrie pulled away from the doorframe and shambled toward the sofa without answering.
"I mean it Carrie. Promise me you won't tell. It'll just cause trouble."
Carrie sank onto the couch, curling up under a bunch of none-too-clean looking blankets. I heard her mumble something unintelligible, but I was betting it wasn't a promise.
Friday, June 18, 2010
I am in a very small and VERY conservative community. So I feel constrained. Maybe they're not constraining me (or not deliberately) but I feel it nonetheless. Thus, I have lost my coolness. Because of how I feel, not because of other people's perceptions.
Does that make sense?
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I only have a couple minutes before I have to start the day job, but I thought I'd drop a line before I did.
First, I have forwarded the beginnings of the proposal I was working on this weekend to be reviewed. I am hoping it passes muster. One of my worries was that the teenagers would sound like they were thirty. I am not a youngster. My son is an adult. It's not like I hear "teen" around me much. Still, I think it went better in third person than in first. I apparently can sound like a teen better than I can THINK like one. (For which I think we should all now pause and be grateful. LOL I was, admittedly, a bit of a handful as a teen. And I DEFINITELY had a mind of my own.)
ANYWAY, I hope to get input before I go much farther down the road into the book because, well, I want to get input. If it is dreadful, I'd rather they ripped off the bandage in one agonizing pull than have it linger, wasting my energy and time for months.
I am in the midst of a short story that isn't exactly late (because it didn't exactly have a deadline) but REALLY should've been done weeks ago, except I stopped to do the proposal, and go through tax documents (still not done, but at least 1/3 through now, making headway), and do all that life and businessy stuff.
I have also come to the conclusion that I am not cool. This is somewhat alarming. I was the cool aunt. I was a reasonably cool mom. (I was a SERIOUSLY uncool teen, but a lot of the most interesting people I know were). But I've somewhere along the way lost "much of my muchness." I can be funny. Clever even. But passing into middle age I lost my "cool factor." I think perhaps part of it is that I have been unhappy and in a small town, where indulging my basic nature would probably get me at least reprimanded at work and whispered and gossipped about around town.
I miss cool. I miss wearing hats when I want, and my leather biker jacket. I MISS PLAYING POOL, and hanging out in diners, playing video games and going places where the Muzak is Muzak rather than a country station that plays stuff that puts my teeth on edge. (I am positive there is good country music. It just doesn't seem to get much play where I am.)
Ah, time to work. Toodles.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Inkspot the Infamous is determined, DETERMINED that I will not type another word until he has been appropriately appreciated, loved, petted on and generally indulged. Working around a large black furball with claws is NOT easy.
[LONG PAUSE--INSERT PURRING AND NUDGING]
Okay, MAYBE I can type a little more. [NOPE]
Now, I have been working hard on re-working a proposal that was originally going to be a graphic novel, but now probably isn't. It's very exciting, but it has a completely and totally different voice, tone, and well . . . everything from the Saturday AM Breakfast Serial that is running now. Since I HAVE to get that done I am going to do it this morning, and reward myself with serial after dinner. So, please tune back in either tonight or tomorrow a.m. for our latest adventure with Ed.
My apologies for any inconvenience, but my brain isn't as young as it used to be, nor is it as flexible.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
For example. The going away party started late, so by the time we got to the non-Mexican-food restaurant it was too full for a party of seven. We could not eat on the patio because someone had parked a cattle truck somewhere nearby and we all were agreed that the smell was somewhat less than appetizing. Besides, there's just something wrong about me ordering a steak and eating it under the eyes of a future steak. Yeah, they don't know. But STILL.
ANYWAY, we ended up going to one of the Mexican food restaurants. (NOT the one that gave me ohmigawdImayjustdie food poisoning, but Mexican food nonetheless. I sat at the far end of the table, in the farthest corner of the room away from the kitchen and ordered plain old American food. I did my very best not to look at or get downwind of my co-workers Mexican food. Thus I did not end up tossing my cookies during the meal and effectively ruining the going-away party. WOO HOO.
Example two is the launch of BLOOD SONG.
I am very freakin' proud of that book. We worked our asses off on it. As primary I am particularly assless (NOT--it grew back almost instantly, dammit). And in less than 24 hours after release there were pirate sites offering it.
In the morning there was only one that Cathy found. At 12:00 when Cathy checked, still only one (although the attorneys at the publisher were about to pounce on that). At 1:00 there were 15 new ones.
In one hour 15 more had put it up.
Okay, I could scream and rant like a lot of folks, because it's stealing, and it's stealing from me and DAMMIT I WORKED HARD ON THAT BOOK. BUT, I am determined to look on the bright side. So after deciding that it wasn't really feasible to try to hunt down each of the perpetrators and kick them in the N... (SHINS, I was going to say SHINS.) I decided to look at it this way. They liked the book well enough, and thought it was good enough, that they got right out there and moved in on it. In a perverse way it shows interest, and appreciation. Right? RIGHT? At least that's how I intend to take it -- all the while turning them over to the legal types who will kick them in the N. . . SHINS metaphorically.
SO, the book is out. It is being appreciated (hopefully mostly by those folks who pay for it legally and/or check it out of their local library). This is a good thing.
Now let me say for the record, IF a book isn't available in e-format and you are a die-hard e type, I'm willing to look the other way. But this is a brand-new release and the publisher was kind enough to make sure it was put out in every conceivable format they could come up with. SO, that's no excuse. And I don't go for the whole "test drive" theory either. You don't get to test-drive a movie by going to the theater and watching it then coming out and saying "Nah, didn't like it. Gimme my money back." Entertainment is inexpensive enough that you don't get to treat it like buying a freakin' car.
So you will have to pardon me a bit. For while I will insist on being flattered that they like it well enough to steal it. I will also be more than a little ticked that they're freakin' STEALING MY BOOK.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Today is the official release date for Blood Song. I am seriously excited. The reviews have ben stellar, the buzz is good. My only worry is that there may not be copies on the shelves. SO, if you don't see it ASK FOR IT. Order it. Tell people about it. Because if people don't see it they may not know it's out there. And with the smaller trade paperback prints run and good preorders it's really possible you/they won't see it.
(Cie is now climbing off of her soap box).
Had a really good launch event at Bitten By Books (bittenbybooks.com) Lots of good questions and discussion.
Not much else to say. I've been working hard.
Today is the last day at work for a friend of mine. She got a terrific new job, but I will certainly miss her. The trick is we're taking her out to lunch today and most of the resaurants in town are Mexican restaurants. After my severe bout of food poisoning recently I can't even think about dealing with Mexican food. If I have to I'll go and just have nachos--chips and cheese only with no additions. But I hope we do something else. Because even the smell makes me nauseous now.
Saturday, June 05, 2010
They dickered. The kid wasn't bad at it, but she was up against a pro. Still, I'd been sitting around the shop for a while, and the type of folks who frequented this store weren't exactly my, ahem, type. (Pardon the pun.) So in the end agreement was reached, and in a completely unexpected (and I do mean completely unexpected) burst of generosity Ethel tossed in the printer and the books. Of course I didn't have anything to do with that. No. Absolutely not. I mean, Ethel is just a naturally generous type.
Unh hunh. You betcha. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
In no time I was boxed up and lugged out to an ancient but serviceable blue VW Beetle.
If I'd had lungs, I would've cheered as the shop became a distant speck in the rear-view mirror.
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
I'm really excited about this book. I like the character a lot. Like the world. And I'm generally having a really good time. Cathy's had a lot of fun with her turn at primary in book 3. I can't wait for my turn to come again. That's always a good sign.
Finger is nearly normal again. I say nearly because it still looks like a Frankenfinger (scars now not stitches) but there's this one little spot that, if I poke it on something does the whole "hot bolt of lightning, ohshitdamnhell that hurts" thing. Which I, of course, do by accident about every-other-day. Sigh.
Okay, have to let the dog in, get ready for work, maybe exercise, clean up the house a bit and so forth. In other words, the day is already starting to get ahead of me.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Happy holiday weekend all.
Ed – A Love Story
You probably know somebody who loves their car. Really loves it. Gave it a name; washes it once a week; waxes it by hand every sunny Saturday afternoon; and never misses a chance to make sure it is running perfectly. Yes, you probably know somebody who loves their car, or their stereo, or some other inanimate object.
You probably thought they were pathetic, an idiot.
And magic doesn’t exist.
# # #
The bell rang, and I saw a small human female enter the shop. Petite and blonde, she was probably about sixteen, with milk-white skin and silver-gray eyes heavily outlined in black. She should have looked fragile, but the set to her jaw spoke of determination, and the tattoos and piercings hinted at a streak of defiance. Her low-cut jeans were a little loose, but it wasn’t a fashion statement. She’d missed a few meals. No surprise then, that she was shopping at a thrift store. This was the one. I knew it. A little electric surge rushed through my cables, making the screen flicker just a little.
The lighting here was bad, and every inch of the place was crammed full to bursting. Some of the stuff was valuable. Most of it was just junk. The last time any of it had been dusted was sometime during the Eisenhower era, and there was not enough room in the aisles to run a vacuum. Not good for me, of course, but Ethel, the owner didn’t care. What she knew about technology could be written on the head of a pin with room to spare for dancing angels. BUT Ethel knew people. Knew them well enough that she could tell you within a dime how much money was in their pockets and whether they’d be willing to part with it. She was almost never wrong. I saw her dark, button eyes narrow as she assessed the newcomer. Hefting her bulk from the stool behind the counter she lumbered forward, shoving her way through the overstuffed racks of clothing to approach the newcomer.
"How can I help you dear? Some vintage clothing maybe? A little jewelry? I have a couple of nice pins—"
"No thank you." The visitor looked around. "I was hoping you might have some books."
"Books?" Ethel stared at the girl as if she’d grown horns and a tail. I wanted to cheer. Books. The girl liked to read. Hallelujah! There might be hope for me yet.
"Yes, books. One of my friends said you had some books on writing." She sounded dubious. I couldn’t exactly blame her. But I knew the books existed. They’d come in at the same time I had, purchased wholesale from the estate sale of the crotchety old man who’d supplemented his meager retirement by writing articles on vacation destinations he’d never actually seen. Ralph had been a lonely man, quiet and reserved. A dreamer with a real joy for living. He loved animals, but was allergic to fur, dander, dust. So he lived alone with only a goldfish for company, talking to himself, to me, and to Goldie. The day after she went belly-up in her bowl, he went belly-up in his bath. Poor old man. I miss him.
"So you’re a writer." Ethel smiled, showing the sharp little white teeth behind lips painted a garish orange that clashed badly with her dark red dye job. She gave the girl a deceptively innocent glance. "I suppose you already have a computer."
The girl’s eyes narrowed, and her gaze followed Ethel’s gesture to where I sat.
If I had lungs, I’d have held my breath.
Friday, May 28, 2010
The police arrived, with an ambulance. When the door opened instinct drove me to drag my feline form down the hall to hide behind boxes in the laundry room and die.
But I didn’t.
Instead, I woke hours later, naked and in agony. One side of my face felt bruised and swolen, and there was wicked bruising over my ribs.
It was hard pulling on the sweat pants and tee shirt I stole from the box of lost laundry on the shelf. I was sweating and swearing before I managed it. I had to rest before I could stagger upstairs.
A stranger let me use his cell phone to make a call. Not much later, I was headed to the hospital, then home.
# # #
The people at work keep whispering. I’ve overheard them talking about how much I’ve changed; checking out the bruises and bandages, then speculating as to just what happened to me on my vacation. The consensus is that I had a near-death experience that turned me into a better man. Which is pretty close to the truth when you come right down to it.
I make a point of calling and checking in with Bonnie’s parents about once a week. The doctor committed her to a psychiatric institution. Her father was understandably distressed, reluctantly confiding in me that she had some “unhealthy obsessions and delusions. Something to do with you . . . and a cat.” I hope they can help her. A part of me hates her for what she did to me. But if she hadn’t, I’d never have met Amber.
I see Amber nearly every day at the store where she works. We chat about pretty much anything and everything. She’s commiserated with me about my injuries. I’ve consoled her on the loss of her cat. It took a few weeks, but I eventually worked up the courage to ask her out.
Tomorrow night Amber and have our first date. I’m taking her out for sushi. For some reason I’ve been craving raw fish. Go figure.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Saturday was her day off. The snow had built up to a truly alarming level (from my point of view. Six inches of the white stuff may mean nothing to a human. In my new form it was a freakin’ blizzard.) Shuddering, I shunned the frost coated windows and curled up close to the space heater and watched her putter around the apartment before settling down on the bed with yarn and knitting needles. I swear I was tempted to go after that yarn. Instincts. Gotta love ‘em. But I controlled myself. She needed the scarf and mittens she was making. Her hands were chapped to the point of cracking.
She had almost finished the scarf by bedtime. Setting the needles and yarn onto the nightstand, she patted the bed beside her. I forced myself to be a gentleman, to wait until she’d snuggled beneath the covers before following. It wasn’t easy. I might be a cat physically. But my mind was human, and that mind wanted to see her naked, to run my hands over each and every one of those lush curves.
Dammit. Again with the no opposable thumbs.
I woke abruptly and totally. In the time I’d been living here I’d learned the sounds and smells native to my new home. I knew the scent and footfall of every resident of the building, from the frail old woman in 2A with her walker and her stinking, nasty-tempered little lapdog to the spoiled brat from 3B who entertained herself by running up and down the halls screaming at the top of her lungs.
No one from the building moved with such deliberate stealth. No one who belonged here smelled of whiskey and sour milk overlain with a heavy dose of cigarette smoke. He, because it was a he, stopped just outside the front door and I heard the delicate click of metal on metal.
I yowled, jumping onto Amber’s inert form, waking her rudely and totally. She yelped in shock and pain, I heard the front door of the apartment open, and quickly shut, the bolt of the lock snicking to.
Call 9-1-1. I wanted to shout, but all that emerged was a fierce feline yowl. Still, she got the message. Amber was grabbing for the phone on her nightstand when he burst through the bedroom door and knocked the phone from her hand before delivering a roundhouse punch to her jaw, knocking her back on the bed, and damned near knocking her unconscious.
I launched myself onto his back as he started to climb on top of her, clawing at his face, trying for his eyes. I bit hard at the bit of skin showing above his collar hot blood tasting copper in my mouth.
Shouting in pain, he grabbed for me, but I clung on with everything I had, digging claws in. He pried me off, tearing chunks of his flesh loose as he did and flung me against the wall with as much force as he had.
It hurt. God how it hurt. I tumbled to the floor. I knew my ribs were broken, it hurt to breathe. My head felt wrong. My ears were ringing; my vision was off, balance shot. I tasted my own blood But I dragged myself to my feet. He pinned her to the bed with one hand, his other pulling at the zipper of his jeans.
It took all my strength to drag the useless lower half of my body to where the phone had fallen to the floor. I couldn’t save her. Not in this form. There was only one hope. With the last of my strength I pressed 9-1-1 and send with my paw.
“9-1-1, what is the nature of your emergency?”
Opening my mouth I prayed, prayed that I’d be able to help her, be able to save the woman I’d come to love. “Help, there’s an intruder. He’s raping her. I can’t stop . . .”
I’d expected it to come out a feline yowl, but it didn’t. Words. Real words. I wanted to sob with relief.
“What the hell?!” A male bellow, and a size twelve work boot swung at my gut. I twisted, the movement hideously painful and bit at him, my teeth sinking uselessly into the thick denim of his jeans. My body was spasming, cramping. I couldn’t fight him. All I could do was scream.
But the distraction bought us time. Help was on the way. Amber was coming to herself. Grabbing a knitting needle from the bedside she screamed in rage and defiance, as she thrust it into the intruder’s back with all of her strength.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I learned a lot over the next few days.
Life is hard for animals. Opposable thumbs are important. With opposable thumbs you can open doors and windows, cans of food. You can cook, turn on things like the water faucet. Without them, you’re pretty damned helpless. Unless you can catch rats and mice.
I couldn’t. Even if I had been able to figure out how to catch them I wasn’t positive I’d be able to eat it, no matter how hungry I was. And I was hungry. Famished. And cold. The first night I’d managed to get back in to my house through the open window. But when the cleaning lady came in on Thursday she closed and locked it. I was out in the elements when the weather turned, fighting wild animals for any sort of shelter that could be found. Fighting—and losing badly.
Kids threw rocks at me. Most adults were no better.
Freezing to death was a real possibility as the temperature plummeted and snow blanketed the city. I might have human intelligence on my side. But I didn’t have the instincts and the survival skills of the wild dogs and alley cats.
I wound up in a rough neighborhood. By pure luck I managed to find a basement window that had been taped over with cardboard. With a combination of claws and brute strength I managed to tear enough of an opening to worm my way through. Exhausted from the effort and lack of food I collapsed atop the clothes dryer, sleeping to the sound of clothes tumbling and the comforting smell of fabric softener.
“And just what do you think you’re doing in here?”
A warm feminine voice woke me with a start and I panicked, diving for cover, backing into the space between the back of the clothes dryer and the wall.
“Easy buddy. Easy. I’m not going to hurt you.” The woman squatted down a little ways away, giving me room, but staying close enough to get a good look at me. Which gave me a chance to look her over as well.
She was pretty. Not beautiful. Her features were a little to harsh, her nose a bit to large for traditional beauty, her lips just a little too big for her heart-shaped face. And she weighed a bit more than is considered acceptable. But her skin was like porcelain, white and flawless, and her hair was so dark it was nearly as black as my fur. It fell in waves almost to her waist. Her eyes were midnight blue. Those eyes stared at me in sympathy.
“You look as if you’ve been through the wringer bud.”
You have no idea.
She laughed. “I swear, it’s almost as if you understand me.” She rose to her feet in a single, graceful movement. “Stay here. I’ll see if I can’t scrounge you up something to eat.” I stared after her, watching the soft sway of her hips in her faded jeans as she walked down the hall to the door of her basement apartment.
You are an angel.
I’ve never been a big fan of tuna, but I swear to you no steak or lobster I’ve ever eaten tasted better. I devoured every bite, licked the plate, and begged for more by giving her wide, pathetic eyes. It made her laugh, a warm, musical sound that dragged a purr from my throat before I even knew what I was doing.
That first night my bed was a bath towel still warm from the dryer. I slept, safe and warm, and dreamt of an angel with midnight blue eyes.
Day two I got lucky. Very lucky. The woman had just enough money on hand to buy a litter box, cat food, and to get me my shots. She did not have enough money to have me neutered. Halle-fricking-lujah. When that appointment date came around I was sooooooo not planning on being home. The name she gave the vet was “Mister,” after the cat in her favorite books.
Day three was Saturday. The first week of my vacation was gone, and there was no sign of my getting my old life back. I fretted, wondering what if. What if I never got my life back. What if I was stuck like this forever? Would anyone miss me? Elaine, my cleaning lady, would miss her checks. The folks at the office would bitch about the extra work. But would they miss me?
I didn’t know.
Which was pretty freaking sad.
I paced the apartment while my benefactress was off at her job, cashiering at the local food mart. With her hair pulled back, in her unflattering uniform she looked plain, ordinary. I realized with a start that she’d probably waited on me a dozen times or more and I’d never even noticed her.
The apartment was tiny, but clean. The furniture was worn, but well tended. Everything was in order. The bills were stacked neatly on top of a small, roll-top desk that was scarred from years of use. There were a lot of them, some of them with the tell-tale pink and red color that universally denotes past-due. Her name was Amber Scott, and her pay stub told me that she was barely making enough to survive. Barely enough, but she’d been willing to take in a starving stray, share her food and get him to the vet. Foolish, but good-hearted, and more appreciated than she could possibly know. I felt a rush of warmth for her, and wished there was something, anything, I could do. But of course, there wasn’t.
I hate feeling helpless; hated the humiliation of using a litter box; having to clean myself with my tongue. In fact, there was only one thing I didn’t hate about the situation: Amber.
Ironic, a woman I’d never have noticed in a million years in my previous life was now the center of my existence. Every evening I waited inside the main door, watching through the frosted window next to the door as she trudged home from the bus stop, hands jammed in her pockets, body hunched against the frigid wind that cut through her thin coat. Even from the distance I could tell she was weary from a hard day’s work.
I was at my usual post Thursday night when I saw him.
I told myself it was nothing; he wasn’t following her; wasn’t stalking her. But something about the way he hid himself in the shadows, his body language as he watched her, made my blood run cold. I yowled, scratching at the window. She looked up, smiled, and hurried her steps.
He didn’t follow.
But he watched.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
It was taking me a long time to fall asleep. I felt rotten. Really guilty and a little bit angry. I hadn’t wanted to break up with Bonnie. But what had started out as a fun, light-hearted romp had changed. She wanted more. Commitment—with a capital “C”. I couldn’t. Because while I liked her, enjoyed her company, she wasn’t the one.
It wasn’t that there was anything obviously wrong with her. She was intelligent, good-looking, from a good family. If I could’ve made myself love her I would’ve. But I couldn’t; and didn’t.
I lay on my back, staring at a crack in the ceiling, a soft autumn breeze blowing through the open bedroom window remembering the ugly expression on her face and the bitterness in her voice when she said:
You’ll pay for this. You don’t know what love is. Pure, unselfish love. All you care about is yourself. Well, you’ll pay until you learn. And if you don’t . . . well, then you’ll just pay.
Okay, that was creepy. Seriously, scary. Because she hadn’t looked even a little bit sane when she’d said it.
At times like this I wished I wasn’t such a movie buff. Visions of Glenn Close and cooked rabbit came unwillingly to mind.
To think it all started because I didn’t want to visit her folks on my vacation.
My hard-earned vacation. Two weeks, taken to recover from fifty weeks of overtime, stress, and office hell. The past two months had been particularly bad. I’d almost forgotten what my house and my bed looked like. I was seriously sleep deprived and in no mood to spend my time off doing anything I didn’t want. And I didn’t want to meet her relatives in person for the first time. That spoke of commitment. A commitment I wasn’t ready to make to Bonnie.
All I wanted was to do nothing, and do it vigorously. I’d warned my co-workers not to even try to reach me. I wouldn’t be checking e-mails; I was turning off the cell. Maybe I’d go to the beach. Maybe I’d just be a couch potato, lying prone and watching classic movies and only getting up to eat and go to the toilet.
If that’s selfish then, yeah. I guess I am. So sue me.
I rolled over, punched the pillow a couple of times and tried to settle in deeper into the mattress. I needed sleep damn it.
Rolling over was a mistake. Lying at this angle I could watch as the red lighted display on the digital clock ticked off the minutes to midnight with excruciating slowness.
I rolled onto my back again. I was exhausted, but sleep apparently wasn’t an option. So, fine, I’d watch a movie—maybe play a couple of computer games or read a good book. Whatever.
Throwing back the covers I sat up and swung my legs off of the side of the bed.
Two things happened simultaneously. The grandfather clock in the hall started striking midnight; and the mother of all muscle cramps hit me.
I screamed. I couldn’t help it. Because it wasn’t just one muscle. It was all of them. My entire body pulled in on itself, contorting in the kind of pain that made a charlie horse pale in comparison.
I fell forward onto the floor, unable to move—barely able to catch enough breath to keep screaming, the thick plush of the carpet rough against the skin of my face.
I needed help.
It took every ounce of strength I had to drag myself across the floor and reach for the phone on the bed stand. My arm was stretched painfully toward the receiver when the next spasm hit. I curled into a fetal position, my body twitching and spasming uncontrollably, sweat and tears pouring down my face to drip onto the carpet.
Each spasm seemed to last an eternity, but the chiming of the clock told me only seconds were passing. The phone was inches away. It may as well have been miles. I gathered my strength for another push and froze, staring in horrified fascination at my hand and arm.
It was curling in on itself, the thumb and fingers shortening, pulling back. Hooked claws sprang from the blunted ends of what had once been my fingers. At the same time long, thick fur poured out of the individual pores like water flowing over the bare skin.
Terror chased away awareness of the pain. “What’s happening to me?” I tried to shout the words, and only managed an animal yowl. The kind you hear when a pair of tom cats are fighting in an alley.
The pain was fading, but I feared my sanity was fading with it.
The room loomed large, my perceptions changing along with my shape. I swung a paw at the cord connecting the phone to the wall. Hooking a claw around the thin wire, I dragged the heavy plastic instrument to the floor. The receiver bounced loose, the dial tone painfully loud to my sensitive ears. With exquisite care I fought to control my arm and its unfamiliar extension punching 9-1 and 1.
When the voice came on the line I wanted to weep with relief.
“9-1-1. What is the nature of your emergency?”
I tried to talk, to explain what had happened, knowing I would sound insane, and not caring a bit. Let them think me crazy. They’d send an ambulance. I needed an ambulance. I opened my mouth to speak, and all that came out was a piteous mewling.
She kept asking if there was anyone there, but try as I might, I couldn’t speak.
“A cat. It’s a goddamned cat.”
“Probably just knocked the phone off the hook. We’ll have to send somebody to the address to check it out anyway.”
She hung up the phone with a bang.
I stared at the receiver for a long time. Long enough for it to start buzzing, and then for it to stop. Long enough that the police arrived at my door in response to the 9-1-1.
I dashed downstairs just as the cop flashed his flashlight through the window beside the front door. The light pinned me like a spotlight. I could hear him clearly through the door. “Dispatch you’re right. It’s just a cat. We’ll check around the house, but so far it looks clear.”
NOOOOOOO! I yowled.
I followed them from window to window, trying to get their attention, to make them understand. Of course it was no use.
I was a cat.
A very male, long-haired, black cat.
In time, they left.
Disbelief was followed by despair. It was impossible. Incredible. But, impossible or not, my body was not my body any more.
They say cats have natural grace. I didn’t. I staggered and stumbled, trying to figure out how to make this foreign shape that housed my mind move.
I needed to fix this. . . . Whatever this was.
Bonnie’s words echoed through my mind, the malice in them almost palpable. Could she have done this to me? If it had been possible she would’ve. Hell hath no fury, and all that. Of course it wasn’t possible. Except, here I was.
I managed to make it up the stairs, but it wasn’t pretty. Then I jumped on the bed. If I didn’t think about it too hard, if I just let my body do the mechanics, I actually did better.
I needed to see Bonnie, try to figure out if this was her doing and, if it was, get her to undo it. Goal firmly in mind, I padded across the bed, leapt to the dresser, and climbed out the open bedroom window.
# # #
Bonnie’s apartment complex was only a mile or two from my house. An easy jog. For a human. Two miles is a long damned ways for an animal the size of a house cat. Oh, they can do it. But it takes time. By the time I got there I was tired, thirsty, and sore. Sore, because I still apparently wasn’t good enough at this cat thing to be climbing trees. Contrary to popular myth, cats do not always land on their feet. At least this one hadn’t. Ow.
I limped my way down the sidewalk, dogs barking furiously as I passed. The neighbor’s rottweiller charged the fence, growling and snapping. A board began working its way loose as he slammed himself against the wood, trying desperately to get at me.
I hurried on. That dog had frightened me as a full grown man. What he would do to a twelve pound cat if he caught it didn’t bear thinking about.
About a block from her building I saw the lights, the flashing red and white of the ambulance, along with the strobing blue and red police lights. No sirens, thank God. I wasn’t sure I could bear it. Everything was so loud. Bright, too. I could see into the deepest shadows, hear the small sounds of mice and insects scurrying into hiding at my passage. Smells I’d never even knew existed wafted to me on the night air, each perfectly distinct.
I froze in place, staring in horror as a pair of uniformed EMT’s wheeled a gurney out of Bonnie’s door. They moved with brisk efficiency, but didn’t hurry. There was apparently no need. She wasn’t going anywhere, couldn’t hurt them, even though she was shrieking and thrashing, fighting the restraints that held her fast—right up until she caught sight of me. In that instant she stilled. A slow, pleased smile crossed her face. She smiled, and as the ambulance doors were swinging closed I heard her croon in a weird, high-pitch voice, “here, kitty kitty.”
Monday, May 24, 2010
Nox and the kittens have settled in and are happy and doing well from all reports.
I have a lead on a possible job in Denver. I have been taking the steps necessary to move forward in that direction. Keeping my fingers crossed is counterproductive, but I AM hopeful.
Our newest book, the first in the Blood Singer series (Blood Song) is shipped and getting terrific reviews. It is YA friendly, and we are very excited. It technically hits the shelves on June 8, but you may catch a glimpse of it sooner since it wasn't a hard release date.
The quilt is up at the Brenda Novak diabetes auction. It is gorgeous. Please bid early and often.
And because I feel like I haven't done enough with the Breakfast Serial lately (or any posting with the finger hurting like it is) I'm posting a short story tomorrow morning. Look for it here. :)
Oh, and if the Posse would, send me e-mails. I'm feeling neglected as an NSEO, and you wouldn't want me heading down the dark path because of that sort of thing would you? BWAH HA HA HA.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
First, KNOWING what is the right thing is a challenge.
Then, doing it, when it's going to be painful, is hard. And somehow the right thing always seems to be a little painful.
A stray set of adolescent cats wandered onto my porch. Still kittens, but no longer in that fluffy stage. I got the ones I could catch their shots, and was going to get them spayed and neutered on the next paycheck, but they wandered off again. (Extremely unhappy about the shots I suppose.) UNTIL the little female comes back HUGELY preggers.
SO, I set up a nest on the front porch. She has her litter there. (4 kittens. Nox is the mom, the kittens are: Tigger, Boots, Socks, and Callie Koh a/k/a Callie Fornia. ) She is raising them, they are adorable. Everybody starts getting friendly and affectionate (except Callie, who is just suspicious by nature). I start looking around for homes for them. Because, well, I have more cats than I can comfortably deal with. But I love them, so I want good SAFE homes.
Nox's brother (Cinnamon) starts coming by again too, and he tames up, but he's small, and he's not so good at the whole fighting thing. But he babysits the kittens and snugs with them and Nox and they're a great family. And he fits in with my cats and comes inside some, so we're good.
But there are too many cats here. Really. And I find a home that is willing to take mom AND the kittens as a group. (A friend's brother bought twenty acres and needs cats to sleep in the barn and keep the premises rodent and hopefully snake free. They can all be together with someone who will love them and keep them fed and in their shots and vet treatments, etc.)
The kittens have gotten old enough too now that they are exploring, in the form of running toward the street (ACK--since they moved the high school by my house people drive through the neighborhood like a bat out of hell), and climbing inside the underside of my truck. (ACK! I mean really! ACK!!!) If they stayed some at least will end up run over and killed. They just would.
So, yesterday I packed up mom and the babies and drove them out to my friend's house where her brother's wife was going to meet us and pick up my little darlings.
And it is the right thing to do. Nox can teach the little ones to hunt and protect them until they're big enough to protect themselves. The little ones will have 20 acres to run on and an access road that has next to no traffic.
But I keep crying. Because I will miss Nox running up to greet me every time I drive up to the house. And I miss the little furballs climbing on me and playing with my shoelaces. And Cinnamon is heartbroken. But damn it, he can't even take on the local tom cats, so he wouldn't be big enough to do well on the farm. And he's too tame now too. He's a housecat. And I love him, and can at least keep him, or perhaps my son will take him when I get up to Denver.
It was the right thing to do. Dammit. I know that. But I HATE it.
I'll get over it. I know. They'll forget me and be happy in the new digs eventually. But today it is very, very hard, and very quiet on the front porch.