Mars VS. Venus (No, this is not about Sailor Moon)

The first draft of my #7 “Mother Project” story, More than words I sent to my bestie Owen for review. I needed his opinion since part of the story involved a guy’s point of view. It’s a bit of an emotionally charged piece about a man who finally confesses his love for his long time best friend. I know I needed to push myself outside my comfort zone so this happened. Men emotions are alien creatures to me though. Men are enigmas. I needed back up.

I thought I’d done an OK job on the story. The MC wasn’t blubbering or word vomiting his feelings. He did guy things like fist bumps and spoke in short concise sentences. He was able to function normally at his job and nobody saw anything was wrong. That’s very “guy” right? Ha.

“He still sounds like a girl.”

It was the first thing Owen said to me after finishing reading.

My reaction: *Sad face* D,:

I’m sure he heard my heart plummet to the floor.

Even more sad is the fact he couldn’t tell me how to fix it. Or wouldn’t because he’s a butt and thought it would be “cheating”. Greaaaattttttt. This is what I get for toeing the comfort line. Alright. I had two options. Find a guy in the immediate vicinity that would actually be willing to talk in depth about his psyche (I rank this phenomenon up there with winged flying pigs)…or turn to the ever comprehensive blogosphere.

Ahhh thank gawd for internet. Pinterest, especially.

I found several helpful articles that outlined some great pointers about Male Point of View. It was a relief I didn’t have to pull this out of my writer’s Hat of diminishing Magic Tricks. I ate up every word, amazed and thankful there are SOME men out there willing to give an account of their inner workings (THANK YOU).

So here’s the break down of the male POV, generalized of course since there are always facets and fractions to everything:

  1. Any problem they face will normally be dealt with in a physical manner first. Immediate action.
  2. When they talk to other guys, it’s usually about one or two shared interests such as sports, cars, music, sports, politics, religion, sports or the occasional stamp collection. Also, if he can make them laugh, then he’ll do so. Goes for men and women.
  3. When they talk to women, it depends on if they think the woman likes them or not. Either potential love interest or deep friend-zone “one of the guys”. Guys, apparently, cannot have platonic friendships with women so this is the way they’re categorized. (I find this completely off in my world but whatever…)
  4. Guys will normally hide their inner feelings unless it is an extreme case, such as death or a harsh break up. This is what they’re taught. They CAN cry. They just reserve the tears until they have no other choice.
  5. On understanding women: believe or not, most men DO listen women and understand. They just don’t know what to do about it. This is partly the woman’s fault if she can’t communicate what she wants to him. Which brings me to the final point…
  6. Men aren’t psychic. They DO NOT know what is in a woman’s mind (thankfully). They don’t catch subtle cues or flirting. They don’t know what the should and shouldn’t do in every given situation. Women, throw them a frickin’ bone. Making the first move will put them at ease.

I want to remind you this is a GENERAL list culminated from the articles and interviews I’ve read. No one male will fit all this criteria so please don’t flame me. I respect all personalities and quirks and flaws! It adds character.

Ah, speaking of characters…

Now that I’ve outlined the male POV, it’s time to do the hard part. The other hard part I mean. Time to apply it to my writing. With a brutal and scrutinizing eye, I cut out mushy paragraphs. I shortened lengthy emotional inner monologues. To the other characters my MC interacted with, he was totally 100% cool male. Okay. DONE. But how the heck do I convey he’s hurting inside to the audience and still make him sound male??? “I miss her” just doesn’t cut it. Or does it? It’s more than that surely! Isn’t it? Guys??

What a conundrum. It really worried me that I would fail at this first tiny test I gave myself. I wanted to give it a fair shot, even though I knew it wouldn’t be anywhere near perfect. I considered reaching for the books on my shelves for hard core examples of Male POV. Do you know how hard I had to search? Seriously. I had “Harry Potter”, “Percy Jackson”, “Eragon” and book 1 of “The Dresden Files” to guide me through male POV. Those are the only books I’d read that had male leading characters that I could find in a pinch. (I have 6 book cases double stacked guys…gimme a break, kay?)

The industry, it seems, has a distinct lack of male protagonist novels. Or I’m just not picking them up off the shelves. I wish I could say that this put a fire in my belly to write the Next Great American Fiction Series with an Epic Male Leading Character. It didn’t. They say write what you know and man language is Swahili to me. I’m still trying to write one COMPLETE novel, much less one with a male MC. I’ll stick to short jaunts in flash fiction for now, thanks.

But there’s nothing stopping YOU! Go for it! You’ve got the basics right here in one nifty little blog post plus the plethora of other articles out there.

I’m not sure I aced this Male POV test but I DID publish the short story as proof I was brave enough to try. It definitely still needs work, but at least it’s out there, right? I’m going to be putting out part two on Thursday, which is from the female’s POV. Pssshhh it’s in the bag… HA.

I have to say over all though I enjoyed researching for this challenge. It’s one of the goals I want to achieve this year. I want to be more informative and less opinion based writing my blog articles. It’s one thing to write all about me but now I hope that you can take something away as well. Inspire each other, right? Write.

WRITE! Expand. Experiment. Be Brave. Go do it!


And yet

There are two men.

One is well known to my soul. He is comfortable in my mind but greatly my opposite. I call him husband and have done so for the last ten years. He is above reproach for the service he’s done all our lives. He’s been the Dedicated Provider and the Loving Partner. He is a Decent Father to our children.

And yet.

Somewhere alone the way, my view of him changed. No longer do I cast eyes of love and ardor on him. It’s not the wrinkles on the edges of his eyes or the flecks of grey in hair too young to have it. It is the way he dismisses my earnest endeavors and leaves me feeling muzzled in arguments. We have changed. Or maybe just I have and I’m tired of being comfortably numb.

Respect I have for him and a deep wish for him to be happy but I cannot stay comfortable. He believes he is happy with me and I’ll let him stay safe in his dream for awhile longer. I need to first prepare my wings before flight is possible.

My destination perch is a man with a boy’s age. He is 10 years my junior and wiser than I by generations. He astounds me with his intelligence and motivation. He is a very driven man-boy. Even more confounding is the affect he has on me. His sweet words have watered the barren garden of my soul and brought me back to life. I flower with a desire to be better than I’m settling for. I am thinner, healthier and more vibrant in his radiant sun.

He professes love for me and my heart mirrors his. I desire to fly to him and let a new, greener life sprout around us.

And yet.

What has my husband done to deserve such disloyalty from me other than doing exactly what he’s supposed to do? What more can he be for me that I would be satisfied? I don’t have words for him. They stick in my throat because I want OUT. It shames me deeply to want more than I have and that my selfishness will cleave him in two. Such a blow, coming out of nowhere. A great man will fall under my callousness and I will ruin him.

For what?

A possibility to find the happiness I wanted all along? Didn’t I believe in the beginning that I had found it: the love that would last a life time? Once upon a time, my husband was my one and only. This poor new fool is now in the unique position to be the recipient of such love again. I will convince us both this is a good idea and we will try to make it work.


Will I try this time around? Or will history repeat itself again? I don’t trust myself and it makes me want to stay in the safe harbor of my husband’s numbness. I don’t deserve them. I never will.

But they love me.

There are two men.

Don’t just GIVE it away, you Plot whore!

Hey y’all! I’m finally getting back into the nitty-gritty of writing! A few days late but still. YAYYYY! Ha. And today I want to confess something. I recognize it as a nublet, rookie mistake but I’m going to say it out loud for all those out there who are in the same boat. One of the biggest flaws that I have that I’m working on changing:

I don’t believe in foreplay.

Now WAIT! Before you click the “back” button, this isn’t a post about erotica.

The main topic I want to talk about today is Suspense. I have absolutely none. I like things to be resolved quickly in my stories. It’s a reflection of my personal views (I’m a person who likes everything out in the open) and it’s bad for writing novel length fiction pieces. I’ve read painfully predictable stories and watched shows that cater to the “One and Done” mentality where problem and solution are paired together in the same 1 hour episode. It drives me ape shit as a writer to see this done repeatedly but personally I’m satisfied. I breathe a sigh of relief I don’t have to suffer the suspense of the plot withholding it’s resolution. This is the point of my article today.

Essentially, I cannot hold tension in a story to save my life. I only want happiness and light.

Yeah I know. It’s the stuff that makes readers hang on till the end. It’s literally the most important thing in a story. But for me to try to embrace this concept as a writer, it would be like Earth trying to learn to become water. I drop a rock on the ground, it’ll typically stay that way unless something else moves it. PLOP! And there it is. Nothing special. Nothing exciting or tense. My brain is like a rock.

Me: Look, there’s a bug! Bugs are icky and it’s going to eat my food!

Brain: Let’s kill it.

Me: OK! How do you want to go about this? We could drown it or put it in a spider web for it to be eaten or we can make a fire–

Brain: *drops a rock on it and smashes it* There. No more bug.

Me: O_O Well…alright then.

Trying to braid tension into a story is not an art I have learned to master yet. I know there’s misdirection involved and subplots and antagonists. It just kills me that the characters have to go through all that torture when I, the Almighty Wielder of the Red Pen of Death, can simply snuff it out with a few simple key strokes.

*Stands up and looks down in shame*

“I, Jessica, admit that I am…a Plot Whore.” 

Yes. I give everything away.

Well. If I want anyone to pick up my book and read beyond chapter 2 I sure as hell better learn how to braid quick, fast, and in a hurry! So I must embrace the subtle art of writing foreplay. This, I imagine, will be a long journey for me; as with every writer. Baby steps!

From what I read, it sounds pretty basic. At any given point in the novel, think about what would be the worst possible thing to happen to your character and then do it to them. And don’t give them what they want until the last third of the book. Make them toil for it. As you probably guessed, however, it really ain’t that easy.

There are lots of different ways to add tension to a story and prolong torture for your characters. Antagonists, minor character drama, environmental hazards, love affairs, real life responsibilities, family, inner conflict, moral dilemmas, death, religion, politics, medical problems… really the list is endless. So which ones do you add? Where? To whom? Which will make the audience keep turning the pages in anticipation? These are all legit questions you as a writer will have to whittle down. It can be overwhelming and there are millions of different combinations you can string together.

This is probably my biggest sub-problem with tension. There are so many possibilities that trying to figure out what makes the most sense for the characters and the story while trying to keep the audience engaged is a juggling act I fumble with.  “One and done”, remember? When I write something, I want it to be RIGHT the first time, not go back and undo hours of work or cut it out completely because a thread had to be axed. UGH.

There’s no real tried and true RULE for how many elements of tension you have to include in your story. You’ll have to decide when enough is enough. Some elements will be bigger than others, like a love affair or a death in the family. Some will be as simple as losing car keys or a spell going haywire and turning your hair into snakes for a day. Hellooooo medusa! The point is to make your characters suffer. The readers want to LIKE how this fictional person deals with things because they want to sympathize with their lives. They want to know that the situation that the character is in WILL get better if they just endure or at the very least, come up with a dealing mechanism. Nothing is really gained from a character that gets everything handed to them without learning the lesson. No one likes a spoiled brat, especially readers.

Alright so we’ve established how to create tension, sort of. Vaguely. Now here’s where the next point comes in: When to RELEASE.

Tension and foreplay are all well and fine, for most things. (HA.) But eventually we all need to either ease off or find release. There’s only so much suspense a person can take before it becomes strained and uncomfortable. Or annoying. There’s a balance a writer must strike between keeping the readers interested and letting them feel relief when something is resolved. It’s a reward system for your characters and audience. They’ve stuck with you this long! Let them have a bit of happiness.

This is my favorite part 🙂 I’m very good at writing solutions. Heh.

I wish I had a more informative and detailed post for you about conflict and resolution but I’m a nublet! I hope it was still a good reminder. That’s probably the best I can hope for right now.

Take care and write boundlessly!





More than Words– Part 1 (#7)

I blew warm air into my hands and started a boxer shuffle to get the blood flowing through my frozen limbs. The snow flakes tried to find flesh through the gaps in my clothing and I adjusted accordingly, tightening the crocheted scarf around my neck and mouth and twitching my jacket sleeves more fully over my wrists. It was frigid at best in Idaho in the winter and the stadium was already covered in a thin layer of snow. The sun was hidden behind a solid sheet of gray but I hoped it would break through later in the day. It was easier to get injured on a cold day like this. It put me on high alert. It would be a long day.

The team was warming up and tossing the ball back and forth across our half of the field. On the outskirts I saw news teams setting up equipment, looking like misshapen colored marshmallows in their puffy ski jackets and beanies. My chest tightened for a brief moment watching the cameras go up on the tripods. Live coverage today. There was a chance…no. I shouldn’t. I breathed purposefully in and out for a few moments, adverting my eyes back to the team and the tension eased. Focus. Just focus.

I noticed the seats started to fill with colorfully dressed patrons carrying blankets and coolers. Some had umbrellas to ward off the snow. It looked like some of them had even brought portable warmers and hot water bottles as well. They looked like they were in it for the long haul. God bless football fans.

The guys drilled and I paced among them, looking for proper form and calling out corrections over the coach’s whistle. The other ATs carried out their own equipment and started to set up the tents. I bent to help them, counting band-aids and rolls of tape to keep preoccupied. Tedium. Boredom. Focus. Head in the game.

“Colder than a witch’s tit out here today ain’t it Jer?”

“Yo Stephan!”

I offered a fist for the tall man in front of me to bump and gave a crooked smile, adjusting my scarf again to blow warm air around my nose. My oldest male friend. We went through University together, completing our AT Master’s degree and graduating the same year.  After a few years being assigned to various different teams we managed to come together to work with our favorite college ball team. Well, one of them anyway. We were in competition now to see who would be called into action by the NFL first. Lion Pride. But for now we were here, freezing our asses off together in the middle of another Idaho winter.

This was a concept I sometimes had to remind myself was something I had desired once. Travel with the team. See it all first hand. Get some experience and some prestige for my Alma Mater. Maybe save someone’s ball career and get eternal gratitude from my guys. All in a day’s work. But the damn winters were a bear.

“Might get some action today,” I replied in that ambiguous-but-not way guys have with each other. Be normal. Be a guy. No problems here!

Steph whipped off his sunglasses and tossed them in the air, jumping up and crowing loudly as he caught them and spiked them to the ground.

“There goes pair 16,” I noted, picking up the cracked lens and snapped arm.

He went through a lot of sunglasses. It was a running joke that for his birthday, everyone on the team bought him a pair. They would last him a season if he was careful, which he wasn’t.

“Hot damn I need some action today too, man. Need to keep my joints lubricated. Been a while.”

Ha. Athletic trainer double speak at its finest.

“Speaking of action, where’s your other half? This is the second game she’s missed. I’d rather see Jac’s cute face than your ugly mug any day.”

I shrugged, my face impassive while an invisible fist punched a hole in the middle of my chest.

“Work stuff I guess. Been busy with some restaurant menu thing I think.”

I got a stare. I ignored the stare and cast a stare of my own out over the snowy field.

“You GUESS? You THINK? Shouldn’t you KNOW? She’s your wife, man.”

“Not actually.”

The statement burned me but it was the truth.

“Close enough. Even before I met you, you were joined at the hip with Mad Jac.”

“Mad” Jac. My other half; currently missing because I’m an asshole.

I met her at the end of my junior year in high school. We were riding the same bus home and we happened to be sitting next to each other when the bus got into a crash. We had to stay in our seats for hours while the police interviewed everyone and filled out an accident report so we ended up talking the whole time. At the end she gave me her number and it took me a week to gather up the courage to call. That was the beginning of everything for me.

I looked at Stephan, at his disbelieving face, and gave a longer, even more nonchalant shrug, lifting my eyebrows in tandem to give emphasis.

“Seriously? No way man, I don’t believe it. What’s up for real?”

What could I say? That was a short list. Pretty much one or two-word noncommittal answers. I know what I couldn’t say. I couldn’t tell Steph that I dropped the “L” word on her and she flipped. I couldn’t say that I missed her presence at my side. I couldn’t say that I was hoping she would be watching the game in spite of everything and that she might be looking for my face on the TV screen. She would see I was wearing the scarf she made me. Maybe she would see that I needed her.

“She’s just busy,” I said. “Sometimes that happens. Or she needs a break from taking care of you mongrels.”

I’m a guy so I had to be a guy. Steph would get weird on me if I let anything slip about the mushy stuff. We give away nothing, especially before a game. Especially about Jac. Focus.

His blue eyes squinted at me, judging me,  and I prayed my vapid disinterest in his inquiries would put him off. I gave the “are we done?” glare and he relented. He smacked me in the chest and bent to unfold one of the tables our team carried out.

“Whatever man. Tell her I’ll miss her and she owes me a box of coconut macaroons.”

I nodded. If I talked to her at all, macaroons would be the farthest thing from my mind. Steph turned to help the coaches move some equipment and I was relieved. Off the hook. Compulsion made me check my phone for the tenth time that hour. Nothing.

God I screwed up.

(To be continued…) ______________________________________________________________

Let’s go Chaps! TALLY-HO!


Once again I’m scrambling Sunday night at 10 pm to write a post for a blog that no one but me cares about. But that’s how it starts right? Tiny bottom feeder nublet on the floor of the grimy sea. But I’m still truckin’! And that’s what counts!

I really have to get this writing schedule thing down better though. Pantsing is okay for some things but not this. This is the gateway to my future. I should at least have a facsimile of professionalism. The thing of it is though, I find myself struggling to come up with content for the blog  now. I mean, I’ve written about writing for the past year with some repeat subjects I’m sure. Variations on a theme. How much can I beat the dead horse? And trying to fit in time to write between familial dramas lately has been difficult.

These sound like excuses and perhaps they are but it’s been a genuine challenge to keep up with my writing. My brain has been fractured of late.

So what happened? Did I just run out of steam? Did the creative well run dry? Kind of. But I think it was more a lack of focus than anything else. Somewhere along the way this year, writing stopped becoming a priority for me. There were some days where I’d only write texts and grocery lists. It happens. I’m a wife and mother and I run a household. The “Writer Jessica” took a back seat to it though. I took a long look back and analyzed where exactly the break down took place and how it came to be.

-I stopped writing in my personal journal. As it turns out, I’m still very much a girl at heart and would only really write when I had problems. Especially boy problems. But up until recently, I didn’t have any. There was only so many entries I could write about marriage and motherhood. It all kinda blends in together after a while.

-I stopped reading as much. Again, on account of being so busy with real life stuff, my reading has also taken a back seat. Sometimes before bed I’ll read a chapter…and pass out drooling on my book with the lights still on. I have a stack of 7 books on my headboard that have all been started and not finished. Yeah…I know….

-I stopped browsing through blog posts and articles. I mainly only came on WordPress to write my blog and Thursday Mother Project entry and nothing else.  I didn’t read any of the other writers I followed or comment or like anything.

-Thanks to my bestie Owen, I’ve started to embrace a new and healthier lifestyle. Eating healthier and exercising more. YAY ME! But that also took my focus away from writing, trying to figure out how to juggle everything. Boo.

-Emotional turmoil. Enough said. Who wants to write while their heart is being wrung out like a wet rag? (Makes for good fiction stories though right? Ha.)

-Familial drama. Sisters getting kicked out. Cousins getting laid off and having to make car payments. Mothers moving and getting new jobs. Dog sitting. Yeah.

Excuses, excuses. I feel your judgement! But hey, you have to remember, I’m allergic to routine and schedules! I break out in scowls. Also, I’m very clumsy and cannot juggle worth a crap. I have along way to go and I know it. Writing pace: TURTLE LEVEL. I feel it keenly, especially while writing humbling posts like this one. It’s healthy. I think. It’s all about the journey right?

Seeing all this written down in a list though (and I do love lists!) is a good reminder that when you aim to be a writer, especially a novelist, you need to inundate yourself with all the elements of your craft to be successful. You need to practice it, read about it, and breathe it in. AND you need to make a schedule that works for you. If things change in your life, find a way to work around it quickly. Don’t let real life get in the way too much of your career/future. If you want to succeed, you have to find a way over, around and through the road blocks.

Best advice of all? TAKE YOUR OWN ADVICE.


So this is me getting back to my writing. Back to my Dream, TALLY HO!!

Straw into Gold

I scared myself recently. But first I want to take a brief look back.

In light of the fact that I’ve officially been on WordPress for one year (they sent me a happy anniversary notification), I decided to look back on my accomplishments. I looked at the Pros first.

  1. I managed to stick with something for more than a few months. Yes there were a few weeks where I did no writing but I came back to it. Routine has never been my thing.
  2. I have 26 followers. (THANK YOU!) Never thought I’d get any and I celebrated every time the counter went up.
  3. I started the Mother Project, which means I had to get over my biggest fear and put my writing out there for public consumption. (And my Mother’s.)
  4. I explored myself as a writer and learned a bit more about how I work.
  5. I discovered many people on here that I enjoy reading and have enriched my experiences as a writer and human being.

Those are like, the TOP 5 but I had to admit I struggled to even get those down. It’s because artists are their own worst critics and in our esteemed opinion, we are never good enough. Trying to shine a good light on our work is difficult.

So I looked at these 5 and sighed. I felt my shoulders droop a little. That’s all? This is what I accomplished in a year? I was hoping I’d be farther along by now. Have more comments, more likes, more interactions. I felt like a shy violet in the shadow of the mighty oaks that came before me. I had to do more. That much was for damn sure. My minimal effort wasn’t enough.

Okay. Okay! I can do this. Let’s find out what it takes! We’ve been at this a year. Let’s take another swim with the sharks.

It was this mind-set that had me venturing into the great gaping Maw that is “Publishing” again.

WordPress has a terrific number of articles about publishing. There are editors here that can give you the skinny on what they want from writers, marketers that tell of their experiences in the industry, authors and bloggers that have been through it, and are still going through it. It’s a great resource. However; with every click, my eyes grew bigger and bigger. My eyebrows lifted into my hairline and I had to bite my cheek to keep my jaw from unhinging.

Apparently, according to the general consensus of the Publishing Maw, a writer could no longer be humble and mediocre. They couldn’t be shy and meek and grateful for being considered. No. Writers had to be Pushers. They had to push themselves to go beyond their borders and push their audience and push issues. They had to be EXTRAORDINARY and STAND OUT and BE ORIGINAL. (Mind you, there is no originality left in the world so go figure.) The market is so saturated with fiction now that editors and agents have to reject almost everything that’s been done before. Vampires? Meh, been over done. Zombies? Soooo over it. Teenagers with special powers? Something else for god’s sake!

So right out of the gate, writers have to spin gold out of the moldy over-used straw that has been used before them. Then, once you’ve edited this snarl of straw into a semblance of a  “good” novel you have to go out and promote it. YOU, the author, have to come out of your cave and start a social media account and promote yourself. You have to get people to review your novel. Get beta readers, hire an editor to polish up your novel and then pitch it to agencies. Most won’t even look at it unless you have a platform of followers over 5K. Then you wait months and months for your rejection letter.

…….Why the hell am I doing this again? WHY do I want to be a writer? It’s goddamned impossible!

I felt the Maw start to close over my head, sinking me into darkness. I scrambled out and ran for the safety of Netflix, ice cream and a fluffy blanket. Now here I am on the morning of my anniversary. I’m mad at myself for not doing more, for not knowing more and being farther along than I am. I don’t know where to go or which direction to branch out in. What more can I do? I was more lost than a wee lamb in a snow storm and I’m ready to table flip this shit and quit.

But then.

But then an interview came into my mind that I listened to recently from Dr. Joseph Suglia, author of Table 41.  A very eloquent and intelligent man with a writing voice that makes the imagination fly on colored wings. I’m making my way through Table 41 now. It’s so different from anything I’ve ever read. At the end of the interview he was conducting, he said one thing that I had forgotten on this journey:

“Write for yourself.” 

And there it was.

The clean gust of fresh air to clear all the smog surrounding me.

Yes, I really would like to make decent money writing and doing something that I love to do. But if I’m not enough without the money, how am I going to handle trying to be enough with it? There is still a lot I have to learn before I’m ready to research publishing as of yet so I’m going to stay far faaarrrr away from that shark pool. I’m going to continue, one foot in front of the other, on this simple road I’m cultivating for myself. So here’s a list of goals I’m going to try to achieve for this next year:

  1. Read more diverse genres of novels (I tend to stick to young adult and fantasy since that’s what I aim to write)
  2. Write more diverse articles. Push myself to write about the things that scare me, or scare others. Confront issues head on.
  3. Join a writing group. I enjoy discussing books and writing with others and I could really use some constructive criticism on my writing.
  4. Add another day of the week to publish on WordPress. Maybe start promoting the books I’ve read or high-lighting a great article and discussing it. Never hurts to give other writers a nod of respect. Plus, sharing is caring 🙂
  5. I’m going to leave this one BLANK. Always room for improvement.

So what started out as a debilitating and dismal day has turned into something a little more hopeful. You’ll probably never read this blog post Joseph, but I wanted to say thank you for the reminder anyway. I’m grateful I’m still on this path, even though I wanted to quit many times. It’s taught me a lot and I know the journey will teach me even more. I’ll try to be ready.

Black Glitter (#6)

I don’t know what I should write and I have a deadline in two hours.

My head is not in a place right now where I can concentrate on story arcs and character dialogue. I sit down at my desk and pull up a blank document and all I see is white and gray. Business, as usual. Boxes and rectangles that help me do my job; to make it look appealing to my readers. Tools of manipulation to make them reach for their credit cards and buy my crap. It’s what it’s come down to and I’m too ashamed to move my fingers over the keyboard.

But I have to try. One glance to my right at the sleeping girl on the couch has me clicking away mechanically. I start with a dream I had the night before that seemed fairly interesting:

She twisted the mewling kitten’s head around until she heard a squelching pop and then let the furry body drop down to the wet ground. She watched as it’s little paws twitched and waited until they stopped. Then she stood and watched for the others, white face as still as stone.

Inside my conscious head though, there are swirls of color and glittery fireworks. Up there I’m wearing a yellow polka dot bikini, burying my toes in warm sand while long arms wrap around me lovingly. There, I’m getting my knees melted with a deep and passionate kiss against the wall of a dark alley and hot fingers are teasing the edge of my lace panties. I’m in a blanket fort with a tall, dark-haired man watching TV shows on his laptop and eating pizza, laughing as we paint each other with grease smears.

They came, as she knew they would. The Mongrels of Hell. Growling, hissing, spitting; a dozen in all. Only six small ones. Damn. Her hands would be dripping red that night. She took one step forward, over the dead kitten’s body and stood in front of it, daring the rest to come for it. She flexed her fingers, feeling the joints crackle. Her palms grew warmer the longer she glared at the hairy demons. It was the only part of her that was ever warm.” 

The text came in and I snatched up my phone, eager for anything to get me through the doldrums. Eager for the man behind the text.

-Come visit me, Elena. I’m home alone right now :* –

My heart gave a quick warm squeeze and I typed back swiftly, the colors and images in my head blurring together into one big happy mess.

-I’ll fire up the private jet. brt :* –

“Ellie, what time is it?”

I quickly powered off my phone and turned to cock an eyebrow at my rumpled blond husband who was shuffling into the living room to peer at my computer monitor.

“It’s 5, dear,” I said shortly.

“In the morning? What chu doing up so early?”

His hands dropped to my shoulders and gave me a brief massage. I smiled tightly at the bright screen and tried not to let my irritation leak out too obviously.

“Trying to make some money. The usual.”

Just not for you, I added silently.

“Good luck then. Make us rich.”

He kissed the top of my head and patted my shoulders. I subtly ran a hand through my hair to dislodged the feeling of his lips in it. Then he noticed Anya on the couch and looked down at me questioningly.

“She was complaining of a stomach ache so I told her to come lay on the couch.”

“You were up with her all night?”

“Pretty much.”

Another kiss, this time on my cheek. My nostrils flared at his death breath. His beer breath.

“Thanks. Good job. Had a late night.”


As fucking usual. Video games and beer. He had probably just gone to bed when Anya woke me up complaining. She always came to me. Even at 5 years old, she knew who the real parent was.

The fat lush shuffled back into the room, flopped back in bed and was snoring within a matter of minutes. I sighed deeply.

Mongrels weren’t terribly smart, being a lesser species of demon so they tried to challenge her one at a time. One of the big ones went first, a streak of gray and white. The kittens hissed and egged him on, pacing behind the adults, impatient for some revenge for their sister. The girl raised her hands, a pair of crackling yellow beacons now, and slapped it out of the air. It screamed and stumbled as it hit the ground. There was a sharp acrid smell of burning hair from the seared hand print on its side. She watched as the burn inched over the fur, the cat demon rolling and writhing in pain. Soon, it would be completely cremated and sent back to Hell. She gave it a cruel smile and raised her eyes to the others.”

I was being showered with rose petals. All different colors, sprinkling down on me from a balcony up above. When I looked up, there he was, grinning. He tossed a velvet box down to me and I opened it with trembling fingers. I was sitting on the edge of a rumpled bed, the blush of love making still making me glow. He was brushing a hand down my back and over my hip, running his lips and tongue over my neck and nipping playfully.

-Hurry up! It’s cold! I need my snuggle buddy 😀 –

-Keep the bed warm darling!-

Gold shimmer wafted over my mind and settled low in my stomach, tickling me with awareness. I poised my fingers over the keyboard and typed out words I felt nothing about. It was a throw away story and I knew it. Business was business. Anya stirred in her sleep and I eyed her warily. She’d been asleep for a long time. I didn’t have much time left to finish before she woke and I had to ply her with breakfast.

-Almost done with the book you sent <3-

-I’m glad you enjoyed it my love-

-Gonna be bored after it’s done though-

I grinned evilly and took a selfie of me in my low cut pajama top. I sent it and tried to rapidly come up with an ending for this stupid story. I wanted more shimmer and sparkle and heat. I wanted to get lost in my fairy tale brain.

-Can’t concentrate on finishing now! D: –

-Good. I like it when I’m on your mind >:D

-Like you’re ever NOT?-

Swirls of black on white. Sharing coffee in the morning with bed head, the newspaper rustling. Walking hand in hand down the grocery store aisles. Bubbles in the bathtub with candles and his hands massage my neck while he whispers in my ear sweet wonderful things that lift my heart out of chest. Shimmery peach. Bright fuchsia. The bright green of a flower stem as he slides it behind my ear and bends to kiss my forehead.

“Another one tried and she swatted it the same way. It’s screams made the others back away uncertainly and the kittens quieted a little. Dumb demon spawn they may be but they were smart enough not to repeat the crispy demon cat’s mistake. The next one tried to distract her by moving in a circle around to her back, leaving her open to attack from the others. She let out a soft snort through her nose and squatted down. She didn’t have time for this. Summoning up the power of the sun through her palms she slammed them into the ground and a wave of yellow rippled swiftly out, chasing the Mongrels that tried to scurry away in panic. No, this wasn’t any normal girl twisting kitten necks. She was a Shucker, someone who caught and banished demon souls back to hell. A tiny Constantine with the power of the sun in her white hands.

The demon spawn was caught in her bubble like a bug in amber. They made keening, agitated noises but she didn’t relent. Slowly, finger by finger, she closed her hand into a fist. The closer her fingers came together, the harder it was for the demon spawn to breathe. They frantically twisted this way and that, trying to break her hold on them. The girl stood unflinching as their death cries echoed through the street nor did she blink when their heads exploded, spraying her and all surrounding asphalt with blood and brains. She licked her rose bud lips, feeling the acid burn of their blood her tongue.”

“Mommy? I think I’m going to puke.”

I turned, alarmed, as Anya proceeded to do just that over the side of the couch. Luckily I had foreseen this as a possibility and laid towels down on the floor in case she couldn’t make it to the bathroom. I edged around the mess and held her hair back as she gasped for air, vomit clogging her throat.

“Breathe deep through your nose Annie. Don’t panic,” I said, soothing her.

I held my breath as she heaved once more. I gagged and led her to the bathroom where we stripped her down and gave her a warm shower to calm the shivers. I glared at the bedroom where my ball and chain slept, oblivious.

Your ass is GONE as soon as this book is finished, I promised darkly into the black abyss.

I scurried over and typed out a quick text before frantically trying to finish before sun up.

-Daughter puked. Be busy for awhile-

– I’m sorry D: Give her some crackers and water and a hug from me-

-I love you so much! Thank you ><-

Anya was left to play under the warm stream of water while I scraped puke into the trash can and threw the towels into the washer with a scoop of bleach.

PLEASE, I begged the universe, my brain spiraling into black spikes of panic. Just let me make the deadline!

With the adults gone, she turned to the kittens, who had been held immobile but unharmed by her amber bubble. They fluffed out and tried to back away. 

“Stop it. Struggling won’t do any good. Your fuzzy asses are toast.”

She grabbed the nearest one and in quick succession twisted their necks and dropped them to the blood splattered ground next to the other one. Then she took a small book out of her jacket pocket and flicked through the pages, her dead eyes skimming the contents. She paused and uttered 13 words in a voice much more clear and pure than her body could manage on its own. The furry kitten bodies twitched into animation, rising from the ground and slowly righting themselves. Their bodies inflated with life, their neck bones re-aligned–“

“Mommy the water is turning cold!”

“Don’t play with the faucet Anya!” I scolded.

I rushed over to the steamy bathroom and turned the dial to a warmer setting again. She gave me a guilty look and I handed her a couple toys to occupy her then wiped my hands off on a towel and typed some more. Fifteen minutes!

“-and their dead eyes opened. Color returned to them and their pupils grew as life and light flooded them. She released the amber bubble and the kittens floated down to the ground. They looked at her now with the innocent and wary eyes of regular animals. They turned tail and ran from her as fast as their stubby legs could carry them. She was covered in blood and had the stench of death surrounding her. What innocent things would stick around? The girl put the book back into her pocket and turned her back on the spiky haired babies. This was the thanks she got for saving their sorry pathetic asses. She was used to it.

People loved small fuzzy things. Some soft-hearted kid could take them home now and not get their soul corrupted by evil devil spawn with whiskers. The police would explain the blood away. Animal mauling. Ritualistic Satan cult worshiping. Psychopath. It wasn’t her concern. She should probably change though. Humans get too queasy around blood. The girl snapped her fingers and a new black dress and coat covered her. She walked down the street, hands in her pockets, humming tunelessly. All in a day’s work.” 

I didn’t bother to edited it or check for grammar errors. I copied and pasted the text into an e-mail and sent it to my editor. 7 minutes to spare. Jesus Christ.

I laid down on the still-warm couch and allowed myself two minutes to appreciate the gauntlet I just ran. Sick kid, deadlines, drunk husband, lovely distractions from the phone and absolutely no sleep in the last 24 hours. Today is a good day. I think. I raised the phone to my face and typed.

-Killing kittens is kind of cathartic

-……….I appreciate your alliterate articulation but WHAT?? O__O?-

I smothered my giggles with my hand. I felt black glitter sprinkle softly in my head, coming down like ash, or dirty snow. It coated everything for a moment and I drank in the somber mood.

-Never mind. I’ll be okay-

-I love you o.o –

A blue wind swept all the black away in a tornado. For today, I would be okay.