Wednesday, March 1, 2017



It’s 11:20PM here in the Pacific Time Zone and I’m just now writing my IWSG Post. Not surprised, are you? Let me explain.

I like to publish snippets of my memoir, as I work on collecting stories from my past. If you’ve read any of them you probably have met my parents and you would know that they were bigger than life itself. They liked to live life out loud and not miss a moment. That’s a hard thing for a kid to live up to. I personally believe that children of folks like this go one of two ways…they find a way to live life even bigger or they become those beautiful little shrinking violets who are content to live in the shadow of others. Don’t believe me; ask my kids, I have one of each.

I’m willing to bet that right about now any of you reading this have a very definite idea about which way this kid went. I admit I’ve spent most of my life center stage, living large and loud. Never had a lot of money, but I’ve also never let that stop me from going where I want and getting what I need. Have I been burned…oh you bet, plenty of times, but I have also tried to never let that stop me,

 Now let’s talk about my writing. This is an area where I am probably more insecure than most. I have all these stories swirling around in my head, many of them about my family, that I want to tell. But, I don’t want to tell them just any old way. I want them to be special. I want you to enjoy them. I want you to know these folks the way I do, whether they are real of the characters of my imagination. This would be the reason that I have three full length novels written and not fully edited, sitting around waiting to see the light of day.

This year, 2017, I made two promises to myself. 1. I would post every month on my blog for the IWSG, and 2. I would dust these novels off, edit them, send them out to beta readers, and hopefully even hire a professional editor. Then query them and try to have them published.

So, today I’m late, but this IWSG Post is gonna go up .

The question of the month is: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? How did that turn out?

Yes, yes, and yes. I just recently took one of my novels and tried my hand at adapting t as a short story for submission to an anthology. It was painful. I agonized over it for weeks. When I had what I thought was a pretty tight little story, I sent it off to two beta readers. Both are trusted friends, published authors, whom I know to be honest and insightful. Their critiques were brutal. Honest, but brutal none the less. My short story was gonna require a complete rewrite, if I was gonna take their advice, and why wouldn’t I? Did I mention that they both said basically the same thing.

I thought seriously about scrapping the whole idea. But, I rewrote the story anyway. When I was finished, I really thought it was pretty good, but I didn’t like it much. Why? Well other than the characters it had very little resemblance to my original story. I had to eliminate my favorite character and give what was predominately ‘his’ story to someone else.

I sent it back out to the betas anyway. The one who was able to get back to me, said I had basically nailed it. I still didn’t like the story much, or at least I didn’t like the changes I had to make, but I started cleaning up the little errors and formatting to submit it anyway.

Deadline for submission was midnight yesterday and more than once during the day, I serious thought about scrapping the whole idea AGAIN. To console myself, I went to something I had written that I really liked. It was a memoir piece about my parents. I was reminded of how they lived their lives and how I lived most of mine. I started to wonder how, when, where and why I had become so insecure, such a coward. I sat right back down at the computer, finished up the work on my short story and hit that SUBMIT button.

I went to bed exhausted and had some pretty strange dreams. This morning I woke up feeling like a winner. I don’t know if my story will make it into this particular anthology, but I made it.l I made it past a hurdle. I found a little piece of me that I want to cultivate and protect. I want to write and I want to be published and I’m not gonna stop trying.
First post I read this morning was by my good friend Donna Hole (one of those terrifying betas, by the way) and she inspired me to write this. Her musical selections also inspired me to post the song at the very beginning. One of my favorites. Thank you Donna. Thank you IWSG. Today I really needed this.

Now go on over HERE and click on some of the other posts for the IWSG. You know you want to. I know you won’t be disappointed by what you will find.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WRITE, EDIT, PUBLISH CHALLENGE - 'IN THE BACK OF THE DRAWER'





My WEP Challenge entry for February 2017

Once upon a time I really did live in an old house (over 100 years old) on a ranch in Colorado. The house was haunted. I used to see Martin, the ghost who haunted the place and at other times there were strange happenings that I attributed to him.

There really wasn't anything scary about Martin. He was sad, a real lost soul. When I mentioned and described him to the owner of the ranch, he showed me a picture of his grandfather. Sure enough it was Martin. The story was that Martin was shot and killed by his own daughter in the living room of the old ranch homestead house. The owner then showed me a bullet hole with the  stray bullet still lodged in it, in the floor of the parlor. This was right near the spot where I always saw Martin.

The 'rest of the story' is; Martin's mentally unstable daughter shot him after a round of verbal abuse. Apparently, Martin wasn't a very nice man. The woman's brother, Martin's son, took the wrap fearing for his sisters continued mental collapse. It was deemed an accident and the son was acquitted, but as the local district Attorney at the time with friends in high places and higher political aspirations, he forfeited all of after this episode.

While searching for ideas for my third novel, Martin's story kept coming back to me. I felt he was left 'in the back of the drawer' of history, so to speak. I changed some things around, to protect the innocent, of course, and wrote a story surrounding Martin and his haunting of the old ranch house,

My WEP Challenge Entry is an except from that story. A chapter that introduces Everett/Martin.

I hope you enjoy my WEP Challenge entry for February 2017.




EVERETT


Every time they open the earth in this place I feel it, especially in winter. I can smell it, too. It’s as if the rot of all those corpses is slowly leaking out of their boxes. I can’t help myself. I gotta see who it is, even though it’s dangerous. They can see me here. Not like there’s anybody left who might know me. What if somebody wanted to talk? Wanted to know why I came? Answering those questions would be hard.
As dangerous as my bein’ in this place is, it’s nothing compared to that other guy. He’s not even the least settled. My guess is less than twenty-four hours. That first day, some of them do real crazy things. They have no idea where they are or what’s happening. But, he’s in control, comin’ and goin’. Pushing those people and talkin’ to them, that’s risky stuff. Apparently nobody came for him. A real loose cannon. I can tell just by looking at him, he’ll not be hangin’ around long. No unfinished business for him. Maybe this was his unfinished business. He seemed pretty bent on getting a message to that couple.
They all have some last words to be remembered by. Not me, there was no time. All I had time for was a last look of shock. There weren’t no pretty girl held tight at my side. No Ma cryin’ for me. No friends standing around saying nice things. Nope, just a quick end to a short life.
This guy here, the one holdin’ the pretty girl so tight, looks like one of those ranch kids. You can tell by his build he’s used to hard work. His face has seen the sun on it for more than a few harvests. The guy next to him, the same. They look like brothers. Come to think of it, Mr. Loose Cannon looks like another brother. It would fit the picture, because they’re lots more sad than the rest of this crowd.
The girl at his side is always sad,‘cept when she looks at him. I know her. Her Pa’s that horse breeder. The son of the squatter who tricked Emily and took the ranch. Her name is Sandra Baker. I wish some girl had looked at me like she looks at that ranch kid. He’s about my age. I’m a little taller, but the same build. I would have liked to have had the opportunity to hold a girl like that, even Miss Sandra Baker.
I’ve spent the last sixteen years watching her grow up. Not that I wanted to, didn’t have a choice. She and her family live in my space. She lives in my personal space, my room at the ranch. Since she got older, turned into a woman, I spend more time in the attic. It’s only right.
She looked straight at me. Probably wonderin’ about this irreverent guy climbin’ all over a tombstone. This is my space, too. My name is right down there carved in stone. This lonely park and the ranch that Baker guy has the nerve to still be calling the Williams Ranch, are my own private hell. The only places I’m free to roam while I work for my name. I’m startin’ to wonder if it’s worth it.
That ranch kid, the one holding Sandra Baker so close, I recognize him now. He works for her Pa, at least I think he does. He’s always hangin’ around the ranch, doin’ chores and helpin’ out. Now I see him holdin’ Sandra, I think maybe he’s there more for her. He doesn’t touch her like that in front of her Pa. I wonder if Stan Baker knows how it is ‘tween ‘em. I don’t like seein’ him holding her like that. Somewhere in my head I think I want to be holdin’ her. No use crying over split milk, Pa would say. It ain’t never gonna happen. That ranch kid might be like me in a lot of ways, but there’s one big difference ‘tween us. He ain’t dead.



678 words
Full critique accepted. Please, tell me what you think. 

In my haste to get this post written and scheduled for publication, I neglected to give you a link to the other entrants. I had to return this morning to add this. Please click HERE to find the complete list of entrants into this month's Challenge. Give them a read. I'm sure you will find something interesting.



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

MY HAUNTED COMPUTER - AN IWSG POST



I’ve been absent from the blogging world since my last IWSG Post and at that time, I didn’t get around to visit many of you. Let me explain:

While everyone was lamenting the trials of 2016, I thought it was a pretty good year. I should have kept my mouth shut. 2017 came in like a beast for me. Severe snow (four feet on the level) here on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Large trees snapping off at the top. One took out the fence at my front yard, and one the fence and deck in my back yard. Next, my recurring infection (due to my failing kidneys) is back. I need to be back on antibiotics because I’m at risk of sepsis, but the antibiotics make me really, Really, REALLY sick. Finally, I’m agonizing over a short story that I want to submit for an anthology; it’s due by the 28th of February.

I almost wasn’t going to post for the IWSG, but then I realized I promised myself I would make at least these twelve posts each year, so…I had one more thing to agonize over. Then this happened.

The short story I’m submitting for this anthology has to be a ‘ghost story’. I have a novel written that IS a ‘ghost story”. This should be easy, right? Just excerpt out the 10k words or less for the short story. Not as easy as it sounds. I have been feverishly working on a 10k rewrite, feeling like everything I wrote was crap, and thinking maybe I wasn’t supposed to be doing this.

Monday, while checking my emails, I found this:



I was totally irritated by this spambot, but also curious as to what post they were commenting on, so I clicked on the link. Needless to say, I was blown away when I read the post, it was from December 13, 2011. Here’s a link Far Away Eyes Blog Post 12-13-2011. Just in case you don’t have time to go there, I'll give you the ‘cliff notes’ on that blog post.

This post is where I’m yakking about this ranch I lived on in Colorado and the ghost that shared his place with us. When I wrote the novel ‘Not Quite Right’ (working title), it was based on my personal experience with this ghost and in part tells his true story. After all of this, I’m guessing ‘Martin’ (the ghost’s real name) wants me to tell his story, as inadequate as I might be.

I decided I’m gonna do what it takes to finish this short story, edit it to death, and hope I’m accepted into the anthology. Perhaps ‘Martin’ will infect the computer of the folks making the final decision, like he did mine and this story will be published. One can always hope, right?

February Question: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

I read with a more critical eye. Catching things like continuity, redundancy, and even some grammatical errors. Sometimes, I feel like it spoils the pure pleasure of simply enjoying a story and being more forgiving to the author of some of those errors. Sometimes the story and characters are great enough, I can just let it go.

Please take the time to thank Alex J. Cavanaugh and the host of others who help to make the IWSG what it is today. Also, please click HERE to go to the list of other participants. I encourage you to check out other posts. I know you’ll find some interesting stuff.