February, 2010

Valentine’s Short Story


Here’s just a really quick, really short Valentine’s Day Short story.  Between a husband and his wife.  Enjoy.  And I hope you all have a great day filled with sweets and sweethearts.  

Light, butterfly strokes on my cheek woke me from my dream; the colorful ribbons of it just slipping out of my grasp.
            “Shh.  Don’t open your eyes just yet,” he said, his familiar voice smooth and deep and it sent tingles down my spine.  “I have a surprise for you.”
            A smile tugged the corners of my lips as his hands cupped my face between them. And his scent drifted to my nose as his lips brushed mine.  It was a scent I’d known for years.
            The mattress groaned and dipped as he shifted, but before I could open my eyes, he said again,  “No, not yet.” His fingers slid between mine, before grasping my hand and tugging me up so I was sitting upright.
            He caressed the back of my hand with his thumb and pressed another kiss to my cheek, before releasing my hand.  The mattress protested as he stood, but before I could form the words of my own protest, the delicate tinkling of metal against metal replaced the groan and something heavy was placed on my thighs.
            The scent of fried bread and bacon filled the air. “Can I open my eyes yet?” I asked, my voice still husky from sleep.
            “No.”  There was a chuckle in his tone.  “Not yet.”
            Something cool and sweet slid across my lips and I opened my mouth.  The flavor of bittersweet chocolate and tangy strawberries filled my mouth seconds before his lips took mine again.
            His flavor mixed with the others and made me lightheaded as butterflies frantically flew around in my belly.  His rough hands moved from my hips to my sides, and back again, sending tingles throughout my body. 
            Then he pulled back and again I opened my mouth to protest, but he placed his finger over it.  “Not yet,” he said again.
            His other hand trailed up my thigh, over my hip, and rested on my side as he pressed a kiss to my shoulder, then my neck just under my ear.  His lips brushed the sides of my mouth, and then each eye before moving back down to the sensitive spot just below my other ear. 
            My breath caught in my throat when he caressed along my collarbone and then up into my hair, entangling his fingers in its mass.  He drew me to him and again locked his lips to mine.
            My heart rate accelerated and I couldn’t catch my breath. 
After a minute, he moved away and then wrapped my hands around something cool and smooth.  The scent of roses drifted to my nose and I breathed deeply, enjoying the heady fragrance.
“I love you,” he whispered.
“I love you, too,” I said as tears slipped over my cheeks.

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Funny Friday


Since today is Friday and, at least in Florida, raining mooses and cows.  LOL.  I decided to go and do something a little silly to perk up everyone’s spirits for the long holiday weekend.  Here’s a few newspaper oopses to brighten your day.  I hope you enjoy.  

1. IMPORTANT NOTICE: If you are one of hundreds of parachuting enthusiasts who bought our Easy Sky Diving book, please make the following correction: on page 8, line 7, the words “state zip code” should have read “pull rip cord.”

2. It was incorrectly reported last Friday that today is T-shirt Appreciation Day. In fact, it is actually Teacher Appreciation Day.

3. There was a mistake in an item sent in two weeks ago which stated that Ed Burnham entertained a party at crap shooting. It should have been trap shooting.

4.From a California bar association’s newsletter: Correction — the following typo appeared in our last bulletin: “Lunch will be gin at 12:15 p.m.” Please orrect to read “12 noon.”

5. We apologize to our readers who received, through an unfortunate computer error, the chest measurements of members of the Female Wrestlers Association instead of the figures on the sales of soybeans to foreign countries.

6. In Frank Washburn’s March column, Rebecca Varney was erroneously identified as a bookmaker. She is a typesetter.

7. There are two important corrections to the information in the update on our Deep Relaxation professional development program. First, the program will include meditation, not medication. Second, it is experiential, not experimental.

8. Our article about Jewish burial customs contained an error: Mourners’ clothing is rent — that is, torn — not rented.

9. In the City Beat section of Friday’s paper, firefighter Dwight Brady was misidentified. His nickname in the department is “Dewey.” Another firefighter is nicknamed “Weirdo.” We apologize for our mistake.

10. Just to keep the record straight, it was the famous Whistler’s Mother, not Hitler’s, that was exhibited. There is nothing to be gained in trying to explain how this error occurred.

11. Our newspaper carried the notice last week that Mr. Oscar Hoffnagle is a defective on the police force. This was a typographical error. Mr. Hoffnagle is, of course, a detective on the police farce.

12. Yesterday we mistakenly reported that a talk was given by a bottle-scared hero. We apologize for the error. We obviously meant that the talk was given by a battle-scarred hero.

13. In a recent edition, we referred to the chairman of Chrysler Corporation as Lee Iacoocoo. His real name is Lee Iacacca. The Gazette regrets the error.

14. Apology: I originally wrote, “Woodrow Wilson’s wife grazed sheep on front lawn of the White House.” I’m sorry that typesetting inadvertently left out the word “sheep.”

15. In one edition of today’s Food Section, an inaccurate number of jalapeno peppers was given for Jeanette Crowley’s Southwestern chicken salad recipe. The recipe should call for two, not 21, jalapeno peppers.

16. The marriage of Miss Freda vanAmburg and Willie Branton, which was announced in this paper a few weeks ago, was a mistake which we wish to correct.

Hope everyone enjoyed knowing that even editors forget to self-edit.  Enjoy your weekend and I’ll see you again for Teaser Tuesday.  

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Professional editing: Is it worth it?


(photos courtesy of inmagine.com)

Sorry about my delay in writing a blog post for almost a week.  My cold darn near killed me.  LOL.  And then my rewrite of THE EXILED sucked me in.  J  So, my last big blog was on the benefits of self-editing, which despite this post I’m a major proponent of.  If you can’t edit yourself, hiring an editor will probably do you no good.
So, you’ve written your story and done everything you can to self edit and you’ve enlisted critique partners and beta readers, but you still think it needs work.  Well, one option is you can hire an editor.
Now the up side of this: It’s sure to make your book practically ready to publish.  The down side:  It’s expensive and doesn’t really help you if you don’t learn anything from it. 
Okay, so let’s talk about the up side.  Being professionally edited can teach you a ton of things.  If you pay attention.  You’ll learn how to beef things up, or tighten them.  You’ll learn the correct place for a semicolon or an exclamation point.  And they’ll make sure you don’t have any inconsistencies or plot holes.  They’ll help make sure that what you’re trying to say is said.  Among many other things that I just don’t know about.
Most of the editors either worked for or still work for the big publishers, so they know the current trends and can help steer your book in the right direction or let you know what book you should write instead.
For the first time writer, it may very well be a good idea, so you can learn from it.
On the other hand, it’s expensive and for a full size novel ranging at around 85,000 words, it can cost $1,000 or more.  So, not usually in the first time writer’s budget, especially when you can attend classes and conferences and learn the same thing for less.  And when you become published your agent and/or editor at the publishing house will do the same things as the paid editor.
Will it help you find that agent?  The reality is, probably not.  It’s the story they want.  Sure, they want it as good as possible, but most if not all agents are willing to spend a little editing time to make it perfect.  So, even if it’s not all the way, if they fall in love with the story they’ll still take you on.  If they don’t love it.  It doesn’t matter how well it’s written, they won’t pick it up. 
And on that same topic, most aren’t impressed with hiring professional editors.  They want to know the author can self-edit.  They want to know the writing is the author’s not just the collective efforts of paid editors.  Will it prevent you from getting an agent?  Probably not, but neither will it assure you that you will.
And if you want to go the small house route with publishing, you have another question to worry about.  Is your book going to make enough for you that it’s worth spending the money on?  It’s possible.  I won’t say it isn’t, but these are things you need to consider. 
And as all things in publishing, it’s a personal choice.  A friend of mine has done it and is happy with the results.  Another friend isn’t. 
I’m not for or against professional editing.  I know it isn’t for me.  Maybe I’ll change my mind one day, but for the moment I’m quite happy with my beta readers and critique partner. 
What’s your opinion?  Are you for or against professional editing? And tell me your reasons?

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The Exiled Teaser Tuesday

>BACKGROUND: This week’s teaser is an excerpt on my paranormal YA, THE EXILED.  This particular scene is after Bree and Patrick’s big fight and after he tells her the truth about why he loves her.

He smiled down at me and the setting sun glittered behind him like a halo. I couldn’t speak.  He’d taken my breath away. 
“I was just thinking the same thing,” he whispered and lowered his head to kiss the side of my neck.
I closed my eyes and enjoyed the feel of his warm lips against my throat just under my ear. My hands twisted in the cotton of his t-shirt. After a minute he groaned, stood up and held out a hand to me. 
“It’s getting late and I have to work the stick.”
I giggled.  It sounded so dirty.  
He smiled.  “The bar.  I have to serve drinks.”
 I tried not to be disappointed.  It was the smart thing to do, but all I wanted to do was bask in the glow of our newly healed relationship. 
“I’ll make it up to you,” he said, and kissed the side of my mouth.
My breath hitched at the touch. “Promise?”
“Promise.” He intertwined his fingers with mine as he we walked back home.
He had a sparkle in his eyes when he slipped into the pub and I wondered with a smile what he was hiding this time. 
He grinned at me and kissed my knuckles.  “Why don’t you come down around closing and wait for me?”
“Okay.”  I ignored the butterflies his touch had caused, but gripped the collar of his shirt and yanked him back to me, kissing him.
He nudged me away and stepped back.  “Wear something pretty.”  He grinned and slipped down the stairs. 
I grabbed a book and read until the designated time.  Then slipped into a red summer dress with flared skirt and matching heels.  I didn’t know what he’d planned, but I wasn’t going to complain and I was damned sure going to make sure I looked my best.
At the door that led into the pub, I pressed a hand to my nervous stomach in an attempt to control the butterflies.  I didn’t even know why I was nervous.  It’s not like this was a first date.  I was just waiting for him to finish. 
Taking a deep breath, I stepped through the door and frowned at the dark room.  Candles sat in the middle of the tables he’d lined along the walls, leaving the center of the room empty.  Patrick stood in front of the jukebox.
He wore black slacks and a white dress shirt with the top buttons unbuttoned that glowed in the candlelight.
            He smiled at me and held out his hand. 
Without hesitation, I walked over and took it.  “What’s this about?”
            “I’m making up for everything.”  He pressed a button on the juke and music poured through the speakers.  He brought my hand up to his mouth.  “May I have the pleasure of a dance?”
            Overwhelmed, I nodded. He led me out to the middle of the floor and placed his other hand on my waist.  He spun me around the floor, holding me close.  Our bodies swayed to the music as the sounds of the tympani bled from the speakers. I recognized it as one of my favorite songs.
            I gave him a questioning look and he smiled.  “Remember I have known you through our dreams.”
            “I know.  It just feels weird.  I don’t really know you that well.  Considering.”
            “I’m an open book, Angel.  All you have to do is look.”
            I rested my head against his chest and closed my eyes, letting him lead me around. He held me close, his hands trailing over my skin he sang the lyrics in my ear.
When the song ended, he whispered,  “I love you.”
 Tears stung my eyes at the rush of emotions that filled me.  How could I have almost thrown this away?  This was everything I wanted.  Everything I needed.  I just hadn’t known it. 
“I love you, too.”
He pulled back and brought a hand up to brush the loch of hair, which had fallen across my eye, resting his knuckles on the side of my head as he smiled at me.  Then he brought his lips to meet mine.
The warmth of his body surrounded me like a blanket, his woodsy scent filling my nose and I expected the overwhelming giddiness, but instead felt something else.  Something stronger than I’d ever felt before.  It was like a lock had snicked open and released a torrent of emotions.  His and mine.  I was drowning in them.
Tears spilled over my cheeks, and he pulled away. I buried my face into his chest, hoping he wouldn’t see them.  He lifted my chin, oblivious to the mascara I’d smudged onto his shirt, and asked, “What’s wrong, Angel?”
I stroked my hand down his face, noticing for the first time how smooth it was.  Like glass.  It made me wonder if all this was an illusion and it would shatter just as easily.  “Nothing.  Everything is perfect.”
His eyes searched my face, before he grinned and picked me up to spin me around in a circle, his lips on mine.  I giggled and clung to him, praying for the night to never end.
A movement out of the corner of my eye caught my attention as Patrick set me down. His eyes followed my gaze and he tensed, gripping my hand.  Kian stood in the doorway that led from the kitchen.   He stared at the two of us, pain pouring from him in waves, before he turned and bolted.

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  BACKGROUND: This week’s teaser is an excerpt on my paranormal YA, THE EXILED.  This particular scene is the day after Brianna’s arrival to Sitnalta, a village in a hidden reality in Ireland.  She’s sitting in the kitchen of the pub and talking with Hannah, (the cook) and Kian (one of only 5 boys her age in the village).
          “Bree?” Kian asked, pulling me from my thoughts.  “You okay?  You look like you’re sick or something.”
           Hannah glanced over, a look of worry on her face.  “Are you feeling ill, Honey?  Those awful contraptions, cramming so many people into such a tiny space.”
           I shook my head.  “No.  I’m fine.  Just got a lot on my mind.”  That was the understatement of the century.
            Hannah nodded her head.  “I can’t imagine it’s easy traveling all alone away from everyone you know.”
            If I hadn’t already liked her, this would have done it.  The fact that she understood.  It didn’t matter she couldn’t do anything about it.  Just knowing she realized I didn’t want to be there and I wasn’t just going to accept it and move on, made me feel so much better.
            “No, it’s not, but it’ll probably be easier when I get to know people.”
            “Sure it will,” Hannah said.  She glanced at Kian, and then at me.  “So…do you have a young man who’s waiting for you back home?”
            I concentrated on the food in front of me.  “No.  I did, but we broke up a few months ago.”  When I looked up, I saw Kian staring at me and I touched a hand to my mouth.  “What?  Do I have syrup on my face or something?”
            He chuckled.  “No, just looking.”
            “At what?”
            I blushed and looked back down at my plate.  It must be something in the air.  Why was everyone hitting on me?  Then I laughed at myself.  Maybe they weren’t flirting. I’d always heard Irishmen were friendly with the ladies; it was probably just that Irish hospitality. 
            “Enjoying the view?”  I asked, testing out my flirting skills again, thinking it would be interesting to see his reaction.
            He leaned forward, and twisted a lock of my hair around his finger.  “Yes.  I’d like to see what else the view has to offer though.”
            I opened my mouth to respond, but Hannah took her wooden spoon and rapped him on the head.  “Leave the poor girl alone, Romeo.  She has enough worries without adding you to the list.”
            Kian waited until she’d turned back around, before rolling his eyes.  “You should spend the day with us, Bree.  We can get you started on meeting people.”
            “Us?” I asked.
            “Yeah, my friends and I.  I’m sure they’d like to get to know you,” he wiggled his eyebrows at me, “and I know I want to.”
            I lowered my head so I could peer through my lashes and when I spoke, I deepened my Southern twang.  “Now why would you want to get to know little ‘ol me for?”
            Hannah snorted from her spot at the stove.  Kian ignored her, and with a mischievous smile, leaned closer.  “Well, now that you ask–” He was cut off when Patrick walked through the back doors and stopped in his tracks.
            Patrick looked back and forth between the two of us, as Kian sat back in his seat and I focused on my plate.  Patrick’s fist clenched, and then he asked, “What’s going on?”
            “Nothing,” Kian mumbled and shoveled more food into his mouth, while I shook my head in amusement.  That boy could eat. 
            Patrick glanced over at me, but I kept my mouth shut.  If Kian didn’t want to talk about it, I wasn’t going to either.
            Eventually, Patrick gave up and sat next to me.  “Good morning, Angel.  Did you sleep well?” he asked, with laughter in his eyes. 
            I shrugged.  “As well as can be expected when I’m trapped somewhere I don’t want to be with a man who won’t even let me call my own mother.” 
            Hannah snorted and tried to cover it up with a cough, but Patrick frowned over at her anyway. 
            “You’re not trapped,” he said, facing me again.
            “Yeah, okay, whatever.  How do you explain the fact that I don’t have the Internet and I can’t call my friends,” I responded, with an eye roll toward Kian, who laughed.
            Patrick glowered at him. Kian became very interested in his breakfast again.  Then Patrick leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, “You know exactly why I couldn’t let you talk to your friends.”  His breath tickled my ear and I shivered in response.
            “No, I don’t.  All I know is you won’t tell me the real reason I’m here.  Are you going to tell me now, or are you going to find another excuse not to.”
            He glanced over at Hannah and Kian.  “I can’t now.  Later.”
            I shook my head and hissed through my teeth.  “Yeah, I figured.” I stood up.  “Listen, Kian is going to take me to meet his friends.  Is that okay, or am I barred from trying to make new friends, too.”
            Patrick narrowed his eyes at Kian, who ducked lower in his seat, but otherwise didn’t move, before turning his attention back to me.  “No, I’m sure it’s fine.  He’ll keep you safe.” He turned back to Kian.  “By the way, that reminds me.  Did you have any problems yesterday?  Did you find each other okay?”
            Kian shrugged.  “No, it was just as you said, Boss.  I was to look for a pretty girl, causing trouble.” He winked at me and I smiled in return.
            Patrick raised one eyebrow and then smirked at me, taking a bite of the pancakes Hannah had placed in front of him.  “Oh, was there trouble?”
             “No.  No trouble.  We found each other quickly,” I said, not wanting to go into, or remember, the events from yesterday.
            Kian on the other hand didn’t seem to understand what I wanted and blurted out, “She didn’t cause the problem, but she was a part of it.  Apparently the woman who sat next to her on the plane just passed out for no reason.”
            Patrick eyes focused on mine.  “She just passed out?” 
            I nodded and felt a pressure in my head, as if I were coming down with a head cold.  “Yeah, it was odd.  She was fine, talking to me as we’d been the whole time, and then the next thing I know, she’s convulsing on the floor.”  I shuddered as I remembered the blood coming from her mouth and nose.
            Patrick dropped his fork and grabbed my hands in his, startling me.  I exchanged a glance with Kian, as Patrick asked, “What happened before that?  Did you see or hear anything odd?”
            I shook my head no, but Kian interrupted, “She said she saw a shadow go over the woman’s eyes.”
            Patrick’s hands tightened on mine.  “A shadow?  In her eyes?”
            The look on his face scared me, almost as much as what had happened, so I decided to tell him everything.  Even if that mean he would see me as an idiot.  I was sure it was better than the alternative.  “Yes, and then they turned pitch black.”
            “What color were they originally?”
            “Uh, violet, but it wasn’t a normal violet.  It was so strange. I can’t really describe it.”
            The pressure inside my head increased and it felt like I was being stabbed with hundreds of tiny knives.  I rubbed my fingers over my eyes, in the hope I’d stop the pressure or pain, or both. 
            Without warning, Patrick grabbed me and gave me a slight shake.  “Damn it, stop fighting me.  For once in your life, stop being so damn hardheaded and let me in!”
            Confused, I could only stare at him as the pain continued behind my eyes.  “Let you in where?”
            “In your head.  I need to see what you saw!”

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