Thursday, May 17, 2007

Having It All (excerpt)

Dee over at DeeCee Talks has been giving out random exerpts of her work in progress (WIP) and I have decided that I will do the same. This story came to me around Christmas time, all neat and tied in a bow. That is until I gave it to my oldest daughter to read and she said something that made me go "OOOOOO--what a great idea!" and suddenly my nice neat little short story was a full-blown novel. Crap. Which means now I have to write it and it gets complicated, but I LOVE the premise and it is fun so here is a sneak peak:

PS--I hope you enjoy it. but leave a comment one way or the other. thanks!

The morning started out like every week day morning had for the past five years. Kari Douglas stared absently out her windshield as she sat once again in the middle of rush hour traffic. The only outward sign of impatience was the steady drumming of her finger tips on the steering wheel.

The fog this morning was thick and it was impossible to see more than five feet in any one direction. Yet despite the poor visibility, cars continued to fly past her in the diamond lane, their drivers oblivious to their own, and everyone around them, safety.

Kari flinched as yet another car, this time a large SUV, whizzed by her in the dense fog. “Idiot!” she muttered under her breath as she gripped the wheel with white-knuckled fingers and continued to creep cautiously through the deadly white mist swirling around her car.

As an RN at the local emergency room, Kari had seen her fair share of accident victims who were there on the gurney being wheeled through the front doors by no fault of their own. Usually it was the other person who died or was horribly injured. The idiot who caused the wreck often walked away with nary a scratch. It infuriated her, the casualness some people had about life and how precious it was.

Kari swiped an angry tear off her cheek with the back of her hand. She knew that her anger wasn't because of the fog, but it was easier to blame it than face the fact that she had gotten her period this morning while she was in the shower. She had been so sure that THIS time if had worked, that even now a tiny life was forming in her womb. But the bright red blood that streamed down her leg as she soaped her body told its own tale of failure, and she had sobbed uncontrollably until the water had run cold and she was forced out of the shower.

Mark had heard her but had given her time to come to grips with this latest in a series of failed attempts at invitro fertilization before he walked into the bathroom and reached for her. She had collapsed in his arms, comforted as always by just the feel of his arms around her, resting her head in that special place reserved just for her under his chin and over his heart. He had soothed her, rubbing his hands gently up and down her back as he assured her she wasn’t to blame and he loved her no matter what. When he had left for work an hour before her, she had managed a small smile and told him she was fine.

“Are you sure, Kari? Maybe you should just call off today. The fog is supposed to get really nasty by the time you head out.” Mark’s bright blue eyes held nothing but love and concern for her as he tipped her chin up so that she had to look at him.

Kari sighed. She was never able to keep anything from Mark. He could read her like a well-worn map, so she didn’t try to fool him into thinking she was all right.

“I’d rather go to work, Mark. It will give me something to do besides mope around and feel sorry for myself.” She reached up and touched his face gently. “I was just so sure this time, Mark. I just knew it was successful.” He pressed a kiss into her palm.

“I know, baby, I know. Lets give it some time and we can try again in a couple of months. I think you need to give yourself a break and just rest. We’ll talk more when I call you tonight. Love you!” Leaning down, he had kissed her gently then hurried out the door for his shift at the firehouse.

Kari peered out at the heavy fog and thought that maybe she should have listened to her husband and stayed home. Lord knew she was going to be late. She had been driving for over forty five minutes and work was only a half hour from her home.

Suddenly, the car in front of her, which had been merely a darker shade of gray from the mist that surrounded them, slammed on its brakes, the red of its tail lights going bright with panic as it attempted to stop. Kari buried her foot in her brake pedal, but it was no use. She knew they were going to collide, and as she glanced up in her mirror she realized that the car behind her was also not going to be able to stop and she braced herself for the inevitable.

The sound of rending metal screeching as it tore apart filled her ears as the airbag exploded in her face, burning her cheek as she catapulted forward from the force of the impact. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion and yet it was over in an instant.

Kari sat still for a moment, assessing her body and searching for injuries. Something warm dripped into her eye and she realize that she had cut her forehead. Feeling around on the front seat, she found a napkin and pressed it firmly to the cut over her eye, wincing a little at the sting of pain. Nothing seemed to be broken, so she unlatched her seat belt and crawled out the driver’s window of her car, which had shattered and spilled over her like hail. Shaking the glass out of her clothes and hair, Kari surveyed the damage to her car.

Front and rear were totally smashed in, and Kari sent a little prayer of thanks up for he husband’s insistence on purchasing the Volvo last year. “It is a safe car, Kari,” he had argued as she stubbornly leaned toward the cute little red convertible. “This car will save your life if you ever have a wreck, and I love you too much to allow you to drive that little death trap.” As she looked at what remained of her car, Keri realized with a shudder that she would have died if she had been in the smaller car she had wanted.

As she peered through the fog, she realized with growing horror that the wreck was more than just a couple of cars. Horns were blaring from up in front of her and she could hear cries and shouts as people tried to figure out what had happened. Behind her she heard a screeching of brakes then the solid “thump” as another car came upon the carnage and was unable to stop.

The deadly fog was beginning to lift and Kari stared at the freeway around her, stunned. It looked more like a wrecking yard than a highway. Cars lay crumpled and crushed everywhere she looked. Pickups and SUV’s lay on their sides or had climbed over the top of smaller cars, smashing them down like monster trucks at a rally. The resulting mess reminded her of a little boy playing destruction derby with his Hot Wheels. Only these weren’t toys.

As Kari stood there trying to grasp the enormity of the situation, she became aware of a large man approaching her from somewhere forward of her present location. He was clutching his head and her years of nursing training kicked in and she moved forward to offer him assistance.

She had opened her mouth to ask him if he was hurt and was taken aback when he shook his fist at her angrily and shouted “YOU! You rear-ended me, you stupid bitch! I want your license number and insurance information right now! That was a brand new car you just totaled, and I’m pretty sure I have whip lash also!”

Kari blinked. “Excuse me?! You want WHAT?’ She stared at him in disbelief as her own temper flared.

“I can’t freaking believe that you are worried about your car at a time like this!” She spread her arms out wide as she pointed to the wreckage all around them.

“Just look at this! There are people out there that have beenn seriously injured and/or probably killed, and you are worried about your blessed CAR?!!” Infuriated, Kari poked him hard enough in the chest to back him up a step.

“You are an asshole, you know that? People like you make me sick. Now get the hell out of my way or I will have the first police officer I find arrest you for interfering with medical personnel in the performance of their duties.”

Spinning away from him, Kari stormed over to her car. The trunk was smashed in and Kari realized that her keys would be useless to open it. Casting around for something she could use to pry it open, Kari noticed that the man, now somewhat subdued, had followed her and she had moment’s guilt for yelling at him. Everyone acted differently when faced with a crisis—some with anger, some with fear, others with denial—and it was unprofessional of her to not recognize this fact and show some compassion. Though her temper was quick to flare up, it was also just as quick to cool.

“I’m sorry, sir” Kari said as he stood quietly beside her. “I shouldn’t have yelled at you like that. It was truly unforgivable of me..."

He shook his head with a rueful smile. “No, you were right. I am just so shook up and my first reaction was to blame the first person I saw, which just happened to be you. So to make up for me being an ‘asshole’, as you so eloquently put it, is there something I can do to help?”

Kari flinched at ‘asshole’. “Yeah, sorry about the choice of words. Guess I’m a little shook up myself.” She pointed to her trunk.

“Think you can find something to pry that open? I am an RN/medic and I have supplies in my trunk that I am going to need.”

The man nodded and headed back up the twisted line of wreckage from where he had come from. “I think I have just what you need—be right back.”

He returned in a few minutes with a small crowbar. Placing it under the latch he popped her trunk open as if it was no more effort than opening a bottle of soda.

Gratefully, Kari shook his hand. “Thank you so much. Is there anything I can do for you?” she asked as she began digging around in the trunk for her equipment.
He shook his head. “No, I just got a knot on my head, but my mama always said I had a thick skull, so I’m sure I am fine. If you don’t need me for anything else I think I will walk out of here and send some real help back here to you.”

Kari turned back to him and offered her hand. “I would appreciate it. And again, I’m sorry about yelling at you. By the way, my name is Kari Douglas. I work at Mercy General, so when you get the estimate for the damage to your car you can find me there most days.”

He shook her hand. “Naw, no don’t worry about it. I have full coverage. Who’s to say who is at fault in a situation like this? And my name is Jim. Jim Taylor. It was good to meet you, Kari.” He held her hand for a moment longer. “Say, are you married?”

Kari had to laugh. Gently extricating her hand, she nodded. “Yep. Going on six years now. He’s a fireman here in town.”

Jim grinned and shook his head. “It never fails—all the great gals are married around here. Well, I’ll be sure to send anyone I find your way. Good luck.”

With that he turned and walked back towards town. Kari went back to her trunk. Locating her big Mag Light and switched it on. Relieved that it was still working, she shone the bright beam into the dark recesses of her trunk, quickly locating the two duffle bags full of emergency supplies.

As an ER nurse, Kari had opted for additional training and had recently qualified as a “swoop & scoop” medic with the mediflight team at Mercy. As such she was now licensed to keep and maintain an emergency kit that included such things as IV’s, pain meds, and other assorted medical apparatus that were essential for her to perform her duties as a medic.

Hoisting the two bags, she criss-crossed the straps over her shoulders and across her chest, balancing the bags on her hips. It was almost an afterthought when she turned back to the car and grabbed the flares that Mark always insisted she kept in the trunk in case of an emergency. Stuffing the flares into an outside pocket of the back pack, she headed over to the SUV which was now buried in her back seat to check on the driver.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Crazy People

I swear, I must attract crazy people. Seriously! They seem to flock to me like bees to honey or flies to sh**, whichever seems most appropriate.

There is this tweaker who lives out on my bus route and he rode my bus today. He was flying--not sure on what, but he was a happy boy! He kept laughing and mumbling to himself and twitching all over the place as we rolled down the road. All I could think was that I was glad that the voices in his head were telling him jokes or things could get nasty! Imagine if they were pissed off and told him to start slicing and dicing....!!

Then there's a former foster son that lived with us for about four years. His entire family is certifiable, but he does crazy better than most of them. Every time he gets out of prison he calls us and I put the house on lockdown. I'm not really afraid he will do something to us--he "loves" us in his own peculiar way--but I just don't think I want him around my girls if I'm not there. He's been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and I have had many phone calls at 2-3 AM where he is convinced that somebody is out to kill him at that very moment. He always has a laundry list of people I am supposed to contact in the local sheriff's department if he goes "missing". Paranoid doesn't even cover half. You know the whole Lacy Peterson thing? Yep, they were looking at him for murdering her. Russian mobsters dumped in the local reservoir? Yep, convinced that he had something to do with it. His last stint in prison he had a "vision" --ie, REALLY good drugs--and now he is convinced that he is the Son of God. He even changed his name! I haven't heard from him lately so I am assuming he has been locked up again.

Every day I see people wandering the streets that should be in homes for the insane, yet they are allowed to roam unchecked and uncared for. It is a sad state of affairs when people care more about animal welfare than the welfare of humans who are incapable of caring for themselves. My foster son should be kept locked up for his own good and the safety of the general public. The tweaker on the bus should be in a program to help him kick the habit. He's got a baby girl that was taken away from him and his equally screwed-up girlfriend because they were obviously unfit to care for her. How sad is that?

These are just a couple of the nutjobs that inhabit my life. There are plenty more of them were these came from, but these are the ones that I was thinking about today. Some of them actually seem fairly normal until you start talking to them and then you realize, suddenly, that something isn't quite right about them and you get that Twilight Zone feeling in the pit of your stomach. Yeah. Like that. Welcome to my world....

Friday, April 20, 2007

Rodeo Days

Saturday and Sunday my girls and I learned what it means to "strip steers" and work the gate at our local rodeo. My girlfriend has been doing it for 17 years until she moved out of state three years ago, but this year she came back for it and recruited myself, my two girls, and my oldest daughter's friend to help out. We were the only all girl crew out there, and let me tell you--these girls kicked some serious ass out there! Whoo--hoo! Sierra worked the gate for the steers, while Jordan's friend Emily worked the "crush" gate that held the steer in the chute. Jordan slammed the pole through the rails to keep the steer in the front of the chute, and I "stripped" the steer of its protective head gear before sending him into the pen with the rest of his buddies. Jordan took her turn on the gate with the calves from calf tying.

Saturday was wet and dismal--it rained on us pretty much all day--and as you can see from the girls faces they weren't thrilled with it! Talk about cold! Brrrr! No shelter to speak of and we didn't have any rain gear.... Sunday was a lot better with lots of sunshine and a brisk wind to dry things out. We worked hard both days and I was very proud of my girls. For never having done this before they did a GREAT job and never once complained about being too cold or too tired or too wet to do the job. They enjoyed it so much that they are already making plans to go back for all THREE days of the rodeo next year! (slack is on Friday all day). That's my girls--cowgirls at heart!

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos

Well, hopefully this link will lead you to a GREAT book by a friend of mine named RL LaFevers. It is her newest creation, and from what I have read it is absolutely awesome! since I have read everything she has written so far and have loved every word, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Theodosia is going to be just as great! Check it out!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

It's Getting Crowded In Here....

One of the things about being a writer that scares me the most is that I am afraid that one day I will wake up and my muse will be--missing in action. Gone with the wind. Absent without leave. Vanished without a trace. Ok, ok, you get the idea.

Maybe this is because I am not so sure that I have what it takes to be a REAL writer. You know, the kind that has books published and sent out to bookstores so the general public can read them. Yeah, that kind of writer.

But today something happened that has finally convinced me that the well isn't going to run dry any time soon. I was driving in from BART this morning and I was thinking about this little town I found on a map one day. I don't remember why I was looking at the map--I think I was trying to find where in the world my cousin had moved to. Anyway. And I wanted to write a story about the town because I love the name and suddenly there she was. My main character. And the guy she is going to fall for, though she isn't crazy about the idea just yet. And his brothers and sisters. And her crazy family. And the dog. And a couple of cats. Oh yeah, another dog. And I am like "wow" and as soon as I put the bus to bed I had my notebook out scribbling down this stuff as fast as I could.

And now I know. There are plenty of stories in my head. They will come when they want to, whether I am ready to write them or not. But they are there. I am not alone. But with three stories on the board and one waiting in the wings, I am getting a little crowded. and now here's this new one, all shiny and new and exciting and I hear their voices and see their faces and I am doing research because the town is real so I have to have some reality in it and my other stories are sitting in the corners of my head, sad because I want to play with the new kid on the block and not my old friends. "But they are NEW, guys--I have to talk to them NOW so I don't lose their voices and who they are" I tell them, but they aren't buying it. I guess I will have to write some on them tonight or this weekend so they don't feel neglected....

But I am jazzed. I've wanted to write this story for awhile but I didn't know what it was yet or who was in it. Now I know and I love them already! This will be a fun book to write! Very snarky and funny, I hope, with lots of sizzle. Move over, Temptation! Meet Romance, Arkansas!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

FAB-ulous Releases! Check out these great new books by two of my favorite authors!! For FAB-ulous reviews click on the link...

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Road To Oz Has Many Pitfalls....

You would think that I had been busy writing my book, since I haven't been posting here at all for the past month, wouldn't you? Well, truth be told I have been writing--more or less re-writing the first scenes because as I have worked on the story some of the plot has had to change to work with where it is going.

Writing is hard. You can start out with a one sentence idea, but as you develop that one sentence you have to make choices on which direction you want the story to go. It's all about the choices, really. If you make the wrong choice, sometimes you have to back track and change things because as you go along you realize that something isn't quite right.

That is where I have been. Something didn't ring true about the relationship between the main character and her husband. The scene wasn't believable. I wasn't sure what it was, so I had to spend a few days mulling it over until I found the problem. My friend to whom I send each segment of the story laughs about it when she talks to other people about my writing. She says that since i am always changing things she just waits to read it to see what has changed from my last installment! But I can't help it. I know this is the DLD version ("don't look down", to those who aren't over at the Cherry Forums or He Wrote/She Wrote online classes) but I can't go any further with the story until the first scenes are right. Otherwise there is no consistency and I can't write like that....

I think I have it fixed--for now. Obviously this isn't the final version and I know I will go back and re-write those first scenes after I have finished the book. You really don't know how the story begins until you write the end. Weird, but true. Things happen on the way to Oz that can change the beginning of the story drastically, or maybe just subtly, but they do change. I'm not worried about it--as long as it flows and there aren't any glaring discrepancies I am ok with it for now. Just need to get the damn thing written and off my mind! I have another story that a few friends are clamoring for me to finish. Wrote about 10K or so on it and let it out for review and now I have people demanding to know "so what happened?"!!

So it is just onwards and upwards. I have enough stuff in the basement to keep the girls occupied for a couple of years. Once I get these two books finished, there is always the fantasy that I have been working on off and on for the past twenty years or so to pull out and maybe finally finish. I had to put it away again, after working on it for about a month, because I really don't think I have the skills to finish it at this time. I need to work on my craft more before I tackle it again. It is a huge story and it is really complicated and I need to be at the top of my skills to really do it justice. I love it too much to not give it my best.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Follow the Yellow Brick Road....

After much soul-searching and plotting, I have decided that the story is going the way it is supposed to go and have started writing again.

One of the ways that I know it is going well is when I start getting sticky ideas and they work. Sticky ideas are something Jenny coined over at ArghInk about how ideas start sticking to the story as she thinks about it and begins plotting it. Only the ideas that will work are the ones that stick--everything else falls off.

Part of my dilemna was the fact that I wasn't sure I wanted to really break the couple up. Shouldn't I give the lieing, cheating bastard another chance? How many chances would I give my own spouse if I caught him cheating? Um, NONE! And when I broached the subject with the girls, my daughter's friend said "Why would she stay with him if he was like that? That would be stupid" so from the mouths of babes, yada, yada, yada.....

And so I press on. Wrote another 3000 words today. I realized that I had my main character leaving her husband WAY too soon in the story line. So I upped the conflict a little and gave the reader some more reasons to start to seriously dislike this guy, and the scene where she finally packs up and leaves is much further into the story. So it is better all the way around.

Oh lordy, look at the time--gotta go...

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Training Blues

I am so tired and it is barely 830 PM. I have been putting in some extra hours at work, what with training new drivers and driving extra routes, so by the time Sunday rolls around I am just whipped... But I need the OT so I can pay off some bills so I keep working the hours. I should be reading my mss and doing some plotting and I just don't have the mental capacity to even consider it.

Training a person to drive a bus is both mentally and physically exhausting. Riding around in a bus for 6 or 7 hours sitting sideways or trying to get comfortable on those hard seats just does my back in after awhile. So I think I will finish my blog and go to bed. Sad, isn't it? I didn't even go to bed this early when I was a kid! Gonna wrap this up...

Which Way To Oz?

Well, not sure how this will turn out because every time I try to choose my font and color I can't get into the screen to actually write my post.... Strange.

Anyway. Been writing a lot lately. Have over 20K on the new story, which is great. Slowing down a little on the momentum because I am having to rethink some of my plot details and change some things to make everything work with the new direction I'm heading in.

For those of you who don't talk with me every day, this story came to me, pretty much fully formed, back in December. I loved it and started writing it and let my oldest daughter read it. She made a comment that had me looking at the story in a whole new light and suddenly it went from a fluff piece to a serious novel. Not sure if I am the one to write it, but I am giving it my best shot.

Because I changed directions, I am having to re-write one of the main characters who now has become an antagonist. Not so easy because I really liked the guys and struggled with making him into kind of a cold, arrogant jerk, but hey--you can't have it all! And I love the way the story is flowing and where it is going and it is going to be really good. But I can't help thinking that maybe I should have given him another chance. There is a part of me that wants to make the relationship work out, to still follow the original path. It is tempting. The story wouldn't follow the same general lines that most romance stories follow--I would be breaking some rules, but I think the story would be just as good, if not better, if I broke them and went where my heart is leading me to go. Damn it. Why can't they just play nice and do what I want them to do instead of acting like two year olds and insisting on their own way?!! Characters can be so maddening sometimes!! *grin*

So I am going to read the story again, and I think I am going to plot it out on a whiteboard with both scenarios and see which one speaks to me. Even my muse is torn. I can feel her vacillating between story lines and so I am going to sit back while she figures it out for herself before hitting the keyboards again. Because hey, let's be truthful here. If she ain't along for the ride it is going to be a rough and rocky road! I'm giving myself a week to sit back and look at all the angles before I make my decision. Maybe I will send what I have out to a couple of friends and see what they think. I'll let you know what I decide.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Wall, Part Deux

In a previous post, I talked quite a bit about The Wall tat is being built along Highway 205 and how I hate the blessed thing.

You will be happy to know that The Wall now stretches from one end of this road way to the other--as of yesterday, it now spans 5-10 miles of a road that I already despised. I don't know how long the road is, actually. I am too intent on keeping the wheels of the bus between the white lines to worry about the actual distance!! I talked with my fellow morning driver the other day about it, and he put it quite succinctly when he said, "You suck the seat right up there every day when you have to pass someone..." !! Had to laugh, but he is right. I would love to put a blood pressure cuff on my arm some morning to see just how high it goes when I have to get in that dreaded left lane!

Of course, my experience with getting side-swiped a couple of weeks ago doesn't help any. Now whenever I have to pass a truck, I have to take a couple of deep breathes to steady my nerves, and then I watch the truck like a hawk to make sure he isn't going to swerve into me!

It's going to be an interesting couple of years. If I can make it through this, I can make it through anything!!