Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Yes, I know, only a fool makes resolutions. And while I sometimes am foolish, I will not make promises to myself. I will however make some decisions. Those of you that know me well know that I've had a rough year. Not as rough as some others, but rough in its own right. I've had to sail through the muck to, as a good friend of mine would say, right the ship.
This last year has had its good and bad moments. I started off the year with a bang by having a nervous breakdown. My marriage nearly fell apart over it. I know I've written about this before, so I'll just touch on it. I was so severly depressed I basically gave up on everything in life, I stopped doing. Stopped being.
Lucky for me I have a husband who loves me a lot. I think most would have given up. He stuck with me, and things are good. Not perfect, as life is never perfect, but good.
I've also had my ups and downs health wise. I would say at the beginning of this year, I was the healthiest I had ever been, I was exercising, eating right, I'd dropped some extra pounds. But sometimes I eat too much, and sometimes I drink too much, and after going on a cruise in February, my health pretty much went out the window, and slowly and surely I got out of all the good habits I'd put in place. Right now I'm to the point where I feel a bit out of control.
There was one highlight to my year (aside from my marriage not completely falling apart). My trip to NY. I got to meet, in person, many of the wonderful people I'd met virtually through the abna contest, and people I'd met through Gae on Facebook. I stayed at Gae's house, and we had a blast.
So, that being said. I'm coming to peace with myself for the upcoming year. I've already started exercising. Walking hills, I'm going to be doing crunches. I'll be happy to lose 5 to 10 pounds. I think if I feel better about myself, I'll feel better about everything.
I truly want to meet more of my writer friends in person. Another trip is already in the works. Somewhere warm.
I'm determined to write more, on a regular basis, not keep churning out novels during NaNoWriMo. It takes too much out of me right before the holidays. Also going to work on getting these things published.
But mostly, I'm just going to try to be happy in life. It's all we can do, right?
Happy New Year to you and yours. Have a safe and sane holiday.
Monday, December 14, 2009
This is from my novel, What Gets You In, finished, but utterly unedited.
When Aiden realized he loved
He took her to the only place that came close to rivaling her beauty,
He watched her with heartfelt adoration as she smiled, gazing dreamily across the lake to the canyon beyond, so peaceful, so lovely, he hated transporting her out of that beautiful serenity back into this world, this reality. He didn’t want to hide from her anymore, not for another second. He was ready to expose the truth, no matter the consequences.
She turned toward him slowly, almost as if it were painful to break away from the natural beauty of the lake and surrounding canyon. “Yes, Aiden,” she answered sweetly, the smile never fading from her face.
“There’s something I need to tell you.”
Friday, December 11, 2009
From my novel Rough Waters, a book loosely based on a cruise I took with my family earlier in the year. It's mostly fiction, some of the reality extremely embellished for entertainment purposes. Of course, some of it is entertaining without embellishment. To me at least. :)
The small crowd broke out in gasps, even me; though I’m sure my gasp had a completely different meaning then theirs. I’m sure theirs were gasps of surprise and enthusiasm, where mine was a gasp of fear and anxiety. A cruise involved my number three and number four greatest fears in the world, drowning and flying. They’re right behind something happening to my kids and spiders.
I sported a fake smile to blend in while my dad passed out vacation itineraries. I read the front page. A seven day cruise to the Mexican Riviera on Carnival Cruise Lines, departing from Long Beach in February.
“What’s the weather going to be like?” I asked hoping to at least rid myself of my Seasonal Affective Disorder for a week; the warm rays of the sun not having poked through the gray for months.
“It should be in the 80’s,” my dad answered. I let out a sigh of relief, albeit a small one.
My dad had given us a sixty-page packet of information about the cruise, being the obsessive, thoroughly organized beast that he is, with dress codes, shore excursions, on board activities, room amenities, and more. It’s overwhelming and I’m better at hearing information than reading it, so I handed the packet over to Sean without more than a glance. He sat and flipped through the pages, nodding his head and grunting from time to time.
Not only did I dread spending any amount of time on a plane or boat, but I also agonized over spending a week in a tightly enclosed cabin with my husband. Maybe agonize is the wrong emotion. Awkward would be more apropos. Just a couple weeks prior, my depression got the best of me and I told Sean I didn’t love him anymore. Though we were working through it, the wound was still fresh for him, and my issues, not entirely resolved. I hoped this trip wouldn’t be too much for us, the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.
I didn’t know what my parents were thinking. Maybe they thought a family cruise would be just what we need to get the home fires burning again. Right. Spending six nights in a cramped cabin with four people, with the rest of the dysfunction in each surrounding cabin would a great antidote for marital problems.
I went to the kitchen and helped myself to a glass of wine. My mother followed me in. “What’s the matter Maura?”
“Nothing. Nothing’s the matter,” I lied, sipping my glass of Malbec and picking through a bowl of mixed nuts trying to find all the cashews.
“Well, you don’t seem too excited about the trip,” she said as if she’s hurt.
“There’s just a lot going on right now, you know, with the new meds, and the counseling, and all. I’m not sure this is the best time for us to start thinking about a trip.”
“Well sure it is. What you need is a little sun, a little romance. Your marriage will be right back on track.”
My mother, she always gives the simplest nonsensical answers to the biggest problems. I remember when in elementary school, I was having continual stomachaches. Any psychologist would tell you that’s a classic cry for help. That kids who are sick all the time are more than likely having problems at school. You know what my mother told me, she told me maybe if I cleaned my room more often, my stomach wouldn’t hurt all the time. Yeah.
“And by the way,” she said, “do you think that you and Sean could bottle up some vodka for us to take. They only let you bring wine on board, you know.”
I come from a long line of winemakers, my great-grandfather, my great-uncles, my uncles, cousins, yet I’m the only one in my immediate family who picked up the hobby. I have all the supplies I need to make and bottle wine, or make anything else look like bottled wine, including, corks, and shrink wraps.
“Yeah, sure, just bring a couple bottles over and we can do it.”
“Thanks hon,” she said, kissing me on the forehead, before heading back into the throng of energized family members.
With my glass of wine in hand, I took a seat back in the living room and waited for the excited murmurs and shuffling of papers to die down, and finally cease. I grabbed my coat, my purse, motioned for Sean that it’s time to go, said, “Thanks for the trip, looking forward to it,” and headed out the door followed by my family.
We kept silent half the way home. Finally, Sean asked, “Are you okay?”
I looked over at him, “Are you okay? With this trip I mean?”
“Sure, I think it will be fun, just what we need. I mean, I don’t think it’s going to work magic for us or anything, but I think we definitely could use the vacation.”
I studied him for a moment, wishing I could feel for him what I used to. He’s good-looking, compassionate, and working hard to save our marriage, but I had built a wall, a seemingly impenetrable one. I didn’t remember building it and I didn’t know how to knock it down. I wish I did. I would’ve liked nothing more than for things to go back to the way they were, when we were happy, and passionate, and deeply in love.
“I’m okay with it if you are,” I told him.
“I am,” he said.
“Then so be it,” I conceded.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Since I haven't really had the time to blog lately, I decided to post some random stuff from some of my novels sitting here on my computer. This is the first chapter of an untitled novel I'm working on. A dystopian piece. I have no idea where it's headed, but like it so far.
Keep in mind, completely unedited. Thanks in advance for reading.
“Come here girls, I’ll show you how to butcher a chicken,” the man said. A year ago, my children would have run away screaming at the thought. Now, it seemed like a perfectly normal skill to learn.
“First thing is to cut the head off,” he said, using an ax and a tree stump to help in his task.
“Ew,” Lily, the younger of my two said at the sight of blood spurting from the neck and the chicken’s head falling to the ground. The man laughed at her revulsion.
He took the chicken and hung it by the feet on a fence post. “Next you want to cut the skin away. He proceeded to show the girls this new talent while they pretended to be eager to learn, in actuality hoping they would never have to perform this repulsive task.
I had known the man for approximately one month up to that point, though I had yet to learn his name. He came to our rescue when The Scavengers came for my daughters. I couldn’t tell you what city we were in, but I know we had been there awhile, enjoying the new home we had come across with a well-stocked cupboard and swimming pool. It was always nice to find a house with a water source, be it a pool, a pond, or even a creek, water across the lands shut off for close to six months now.
Usually you heard them coming. They’d travel in packs of threes, honking horns, peeling out, screaming, raising a ruckus. They must have learned that stealth rather than intimidation makes for easier prey. We were sleeping, together, as we always did. I awoke to a filthy, hand smelling of a combination of nicotine, gasoline, and Vaseline covering my mouth. The girls screamed. The other two grabbed them and started hauling them off. I don’t know what they did to their prisoners, enslave them, rape them, eat them, but I was not going to let them take my girls without a fight.
I clamped down hard with my teeth; my assailant letting out a howl that would rival a giant werewolf, and released his grip. I punched him in the balls, as he doubled over I used the palm of my hand to shove his nose into his brain as my husband had taught me ages ago. He collapsed, I don’t know if out of pain or death, but I was not going to stick around to find out. I grabbed my gun from the nightstand drawer, and ran outside.
The other two were almost to their vehicle with my girls, who continued to scream and struggle for liberation. My younger, Lily, I could hear her struggling for breath, the asthma having kicked in. I aimed my gun, but did not have a clear shot. One of them pulled out his own gun. I don’t know what kind, because I really know very little about firearms, having to teach myself to shoot. I just knew his was bigger than mine, and pointed at my head. I closed my eyes, awaiting the blast, praying to a God that I didn’t really believe in anymore, to let them kill my kids quickly. I refused to think of the alternative.
I heard the discharge and waited. I felt nothing. Perhaps there is a God after all. Another discharge. I opened my eyes. Lily was on the ground gasping for breath, Sarah looming over her like death.
“Sarah, run and get the inhaler.” She immediately heeded my command.
I ran to Sarah, having to step around the two remaining Scavengers, tops of their heads missing, brains scattered everywhere. While I coerced Lily into getting her breath under control, I scanned the area trying to locate our savior. He was climbing into a vehicle, a Hummer to be exact, about a block away. He pulled up right behind the Scavenger’s Jeep and began searching its contents, pulling out the things he found useful, loading them into the back of his car.
When Sarah came back with the inhaler, I let her take over. Wanting to express my thanks, I moved toward the man, slowly. Although he saved us, I was still leery of his intentions. These days you can’t be too careful. I took a good look at him. He wore a plain green t-shirt, khaki cargo shorts, wool socks and hiking boots. He had a crazed countenance about him, hair a wild tangled mess, unshaven, dirty. He didn’t stop what he was doing. I practically had to run to keep up as I spoke. “I just wanted to thank you for that. I don’t know what would have happened to us had you not come along.”
He stopped, looked me in the eye. His eyes contradicted his appearance. They were soft, soulful, knowing, yet there were layers of pain and rage lurking just beyond their deep blue beauty. They give away his age. At first glance I would have thought him ten to fifteen years older than myself, now I would say around the same age, if not a little younger.
He spoke, his voice firm yet understanding. “They would have raped and killed you, and because of the age and sex of your children, they would have used them as breeders.” I shuddered; he continued unpacking the Scavenger’s car, packing his own. I watched.
“Why wouldn’t they have taken me?”
He looked me up and down, and said, “You’re pushing too old to be a breeder, they only take men and boys to work, and you’re much too skinny and muscly to eat.”
“Why would they not want me for their queen,” I said smirking.
“Their queen!” he exclaimed, and then upon realizing my joke gave a hearty laugh, causing his face to crack, making it seem like he hadn’t laughed in ages. Who could blame him? There isn’t much to laugh at anymore. “You’re a fiery one, aren’t you?”
He finished loading his car, hopped into the driver’s seat, started it up, and rolled the window down. “Bye,” he said, “Thanks for the laugh.”
“Wait, you’re just going to leave? You’re the first person aside from the Scavengers that we’ve seen. Let us come with you.”
“No,” he said simply.
I grabbed onto the side of his car and began to cry. “Please,” I said. I did my best, but my girls needed more protection than I could offer. And although I loved them dearly, I craved some adult companionship, someone to talk to about books, music, movies, or how things were before the world ended. I wanted to hear his story, where he came from, where he’s going, who he’s run into, who he’s lost along the way.
“I’d take you, but the children are too much of a liability. The Scavengers would keep coming.”
“They’re strong; they’ve been through a lot. They know how to shoot a gun. Their dad taught them to fish, if you don’t mind baiting the hooks, they’re still a little squeamish of worms. My older daughter, Sarah, she tells great stories, very entertaining. And Lily, the younger one, she loves to sing, she has the voice of an angel. We’ll cook and clean. I’m strong too. I can gather and split wood, and garden, I’m a great gardener.”
He eyed me long and hard, up and down. I’m sure he was pondering what else I would be good for. It gets lonely out here. I can’t say the idea didn’t cross my mind either.
“Fine,” he said, shutting off the Hummer. “Let’s get you packed.”
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
It's supposed to be written by my protagonist, Austin. He recites it to his best friend and secret crush, Kaylee.
I’m a ghost, but nothing more.
Air and vapor, invisible.
With a heart that beats a rhythm so rare
Only the stars can hear.
And she, of flesh and bone
Alive, wild, gleaming.
Hovering above I watch her
Gliding, rushing, reeling.
My empty arms reach out for her
To touch to feel to know.
Yet I’m a ghost and nothing more.
Air and vapor, invisible.