Just Write

I recently found a piece of paper with my 2017 writing goals listed on them. It was depressing because on the list were stories that three years later I still haven’t finished.  A closer look at the list made me feel a little less of a failure when I realized my writing goals in 2017 were quite ambitious, but still, I need to do better.

One of the stories I was to finish in 2017 started out as a novella, but now is over three hundred pages. I’d write a little. Stop. Work on something else. Then go back to it. But for the last year and half I have given the piece all of my attention, stopping only to write two short stories. Twice, I’ve changed the course of the plot and have deleted over a hundred pages–months of work–but the plot change was necessary for the story.

I’m sure I can not be the only writer who wonders if she should have written more with the time at hand, but sometimes the words do not flow easily. I write, forcing out words I know will eventually be deleted, but I write them anyway, because a writer writes. Maybe not always well. Maybe with words she knows will be replaced, but she writes.

Keep writing. Write through blocks. Write through distraction. Write through internal doubt.

Just Write.

 

Writing pen and paper

 

 

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Author Anne Montgomery Didn’t Use to Care Much About Cars

from Anne Montgomery

I have never cared much about cars. Never understood why people spend so much to get the newest, fastest, sleekest version with the most gadgets. The last vehicle I bought came after my mechanic pointed at my ancient Geo Prism and ordered me to drive it one last time.

“Take it to a dealership and turn it in,” he advised. “Get a new car!”

The day I abandoned my Prism in a dealer’s parking lot, I found a vehicle that spoke to me. It was a black Ford Ranger pickup. Slightly used – I think I read 14 thousand miles on the speedometer. Black paint sparkled in the Arizona sun. I drove it around the block.

“That’s the one,” I said to my sweetie pie, who’d accompanied me on my car hunt. Following what felt like half a day of paperwork, I drove my new truck home.

Later, I stood proudly by my recent purchase. My mother squinted at the pickup’s bed where I’d installed a bright silver toolbox to hold my rock collecting gear, camping equipment, and emergency rations on the off chance I might find myself stuck in the wilderness for any length of time.

She stared at me. “Aren’t you afraid of what people will think of you?”

“I am a black pickup kind of girl, Mom.”

She shook her head.

“Really.”

My truck is now going on 19. I love my old truck. We share lots of memories: good, bad, and ugly. Together we’ve had countless adventures into the mountains and deserts, some wondrous, some difficult, and a few rather dangerous, in retrospect. Still, we always made it home. Eventually.

Then, my parents, in their nineties, mercifully decided to give up their car. I had been begging them for years to stop driving. Anyone who’s butted up against that major-life decision understands the complexities inherent in taking the keys away from mom and dad.

“We’ll sell the car,” my mother finally announced.

That vehicle, a blue 2010 Ford Fusion, now sits in my driveway. Though my mom continues to tell anyone who will listen that I took the car, Ryan and I wrote them a check for a little over seven grand.

A funny thing happened when I started driving the Fusion. I liked the built-in bells and whistles. Note that the vehicle is not high end, but compared to my truck, the little car is like owning a rocket ship. We call her Zippy. Now, when I drive my pickup, it feels only slightly more mobile than a covered wagon.

Then I got a letter in the mail: AIRBAG RECALL! I stared at the red triangle depicting a driver facing a steering wheel that had burst into flames. I read the section that said, “Until parts are available …your dealer is authorized to provide you with a rental vehicle.”

Today, a 2018 Ford Fusion Platinum sits in my driveway. The car boasts a power tilt/telescoping steering column with memory, dual integrated bright exhaust, premium leather-wrapped and stitched instrument panel and console rails, and myriad other extras I couldn’t possibly explain. The overall effect is…well…Wow!

I’ve had the rental for several months. It seems Ford is having a great deal of trouble getting the parts to fix the airbag that might explode and shred me with shrapnel. Apparently, 37 million vehicles have been identified as needing the fix, and more are expected to be added to the list. Takata, the maker of the defective airbags, announced it might take five years to install all the replacements.

I wonder sometimes, especially when those comfy leather seats are hugging me in their soft embrace, when I will have to return my pretty sedan. Neither Ford nor the rental company seem to care that the $40,000 vehicle is occupying space in my driveway day after day.

I have never cared much about cars. Never understood why people spend so much to get the newest, fastest, sleekest version with the most gadgets. Until now.

Perhaps Ford will forget about my cute little rental. I’ve grown quite fond of her.

Here is a brief intro to my novel dealing with abuse and it’s aftermath. I hope you’ll take a moment to peek into it.

Two Arizona teens find their fates intertwined. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?

Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away.

Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl—Rose—running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.

With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father’s age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust?

BUY LINKS

 

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Reality Check. A New Release By Carol Browne

Surreal, fresh, dark, and entertaining is this new psychological fiction novella from Carol Browne. Some moments it’s thought-provoking and other times it’s unsettling, but it is Carol Browne at her finest. The story as well as the cover will definitely give your mind and imagination a great workout. Reality Check is a must read.

Gillian Roth finds herself in middle age, living alone, working in a dull job, with few friends and little excitement in her life. So far, so ordinary.

But Gillian has one extraordinary problem.

Her house is full of other people… people who don’t exist. Or do they?

As her surreal home life spirals out of control, Gillian determines to find out the truth and undertakes an investigation into the nature of reality itself.

Will this provide an answer to her dilemma, or will the escalating situation push her over the edge before she has worked out what is really going on?

BLURB
Thursday, 26th March, 2015.

My house is filled with people who don’t exist.

They have no substance. They are neither alive nor dead. They aren’t hosts or spirits. They aren’t in any way shape or form here, but I can see them, and now I need to make a record of how they came to be under my roof.

Why now? Why today? Because we line in strange times, and today is one of the strangest days this year; this is the day that Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England, was interred in Leicester Cathedral, with all due ceremony, 530 years after he was slain at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. How surreal is that? I watched the highlights on Channel 4 earlier. A couple of my house guests sat with me and together we marveled at the event. They did Richard proud, no doubt of that.

I left them to it after a while and came up here to my bedroom to start writing a diary: this diary.

Life feels unreal today, as if time has looped back onto photo albums. The house clearly passed must itself and everything is happening now. And if I can set my thoughts down on paper, perhaps I can make sense of everything, make it all real somehow.

Where did it start, this thing that has happened to me? A couple of years ago? I can’t say when. It evolved without my conscious input. The existence of my house guests was a fact long before I began to wonder at it. I do wonder at it now and I know I must keep track of what’s happening before I lose myself in this crowd of imaginary beings.

At first there was only a few of them, and I observed their doings without much concern. I watched them snooping around the place, choosing the most comfortable chairs to sit in, leaning against the furniture, inspecting the bookcases, checking the kitchen utensils, and peering into my photo albums. The house clearly passed muster and they stayed. In time, they knew me down to the marrow. I have never known them as well as they know me. They have an air of mystery, as though they have a life outside my house they will never divulge. Even so, I felt I was safe with them and I could tell them my problems. Tell them what no-one else must ever hear. And so these shades thickened, quickened; their personalities accumulated depth and solidity, as though they were skeletons clothing themselves in flesh.

I no longer came home to a cold, empty house, but to a sanctuary where attentive friends awaited my return. I was embraced by their jovial welcome when I stepped through the door. I never knew which of them would be there, but one or two at least would always be waiting to greet me, anxious to hear about my day and make me feel wanted, and for a while I could forget the problems I have at work (even the one that bothers me the most). Since then I have felt a subtle change.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I really need this to be a faithful account of the entire situation from start to finish, so I have to try to work out how it all began, even if I’m not sure when.

If I cast my mind back, it floats like a lantern through a city cloaked in fog. I must try to isolate the shadowy figures that flit up at me out of the murk. So, let’s begin with the friend I remember first. I was cooking my evening meal. My mind wandered. I remember feeling sad. And there she stood, at my right elbow, peering into the saucepan.

“Watch you don’t burn that,” she said.

I don’t have names for my imaginary friends, just titles, so I call her Kitchen Girl. She’s dark-haired with porcelain skin, and she’s tall and voluptuous. The sort of woman I’d like to be except I’m small with red hair and a ruddy complexion, and I need chicken fillets to convince people I’m female.

I suppose Kitchen Girl is rather daunting, with those fierce blue eyes and no-nonsense approach to everything. I can stand up to her though. I use humour as my weapon of choice and she appreciates wit and banter. I’d like it if she didn’t nag so much, if I’m honest (“Use less salt… keep stirring… is that all you’re going to eat?”) but, criticism aside, I know she’ll compliment me on the finished product as it lies uneaten between us on the table. Long conversations back and forth have been played out while the meals go cold on their plates. Fried eggs congeal and go waxen. Ice cream melts into a tepid sludge. Sandwiches curl up with embarrassment to be so spurned. You know how it is when you get gossiping. Someone wants to talk to me and that’s better than food.

And sometimes, it’s curious, but it’s Kitchen Girl who cooks the food and serves it to me like a waitress. She likes to surprise me with new dishes.

I have no idea how this happens.

Nor why she never leaves the kitchen. But I wish she’d do the washing up now and then.

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Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol writes both fiction and non-fiction.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

October Writing

We are into the second day of my favorite month. I’ve always loved October. It’s a cozy month. The air is crisp and cool. I get to wear the hoodies that I love. Sure, I can wear hoodies in winter, but it drops to below zero where I live, so I usually need a jacket, too. In October, a hoodie and a pair of comfortable jeans (or long shorts) are all you need.

October, with its earlier sunsets, is a nice slowdown from the fast pace of summer. Summer days seem to last forever, and I feel guilty when I’m sittin’ around being lazy while the sun beats down in a cloudless blue sky.  But now that October is here, and soon nightfall will come as early as 4:30, I won’t have so much guilt on lazy days.

Since I started writing, October has been the month I really hunker down on my work. October is like New Year’s for me. I start anew. I assess where I am with my current project (usually I am behind, as is the current case) and decide which story I will work on next. Will it be one that I have already started or something entirely new?

The book I’m working on now is a short story I had written in college, over twenty years ago. The revision is going on two years now. Although I’d wanted to be finished with the book a year ago, I went through two major changes in plot lines that resulted in the deletion of multiple dozens of pages and countless hours of work. But I have no regrets. The story is remarkably better today than it was at any other time since I began writing it. So don’t be afraid to dump a few, or fifty-five, pages.

Three weeks ago I started a writing course at my local community college. I needed a reset with my writing, and being in a classroom helps to “recharge my writing batteries.” I find inspiration from other writers. It was this time six years ago that I took my first writing class since graduating college in ’99. The course, as well as the students in it, helped to refresh my writing ability, and four months later I had a contract option on my first novella, Her Name.

It is no coincidence that that first class, the current class I am in, and the writing course I took two years ago, were all signed up for in the fall despite being offered in other months.

Writers write no matter the season, time, or day of the week. But for me, there is nothing like October writing.

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

So You Want to be a Writer

I was at a bar one night and ran into a woman I used to date over fifteen years ago. In our exchange of pleasantries, my being a writer came up and immediately my ex grabbed my arm and exclaimed to me with vigor how she is planning on writing her autobiography because she’s led a very interesting life, and all of her friends tell her she just has to write a book.

I told her I was sure she had many great stories to tell, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they could fill a book, but I asked if she’d had any training in writing. The uncertain look on her face answered my question. She hadn’t studied writing in any way past a classroom in high school, but figured since she had a story to tell (most people who are alive have a story to tell. It’s called life.) and knew how to write in complete sentences, she could write a book.

I didn’t roll my eyes in front of her. I’m not that rude. But I did suggest to her that if she was serious about writing her book, she should enroll in a writing course at her local college. Three months before I contracted my first book, Her Name, I had taken a writing course at my local college and it helped me more than I imagined one class would. I was lucky to have had some terrific writers in my class who gave me incredible notes on my story, which I still possess over five years later.

After I published my second book, Loving Again, I enrolled in another writing course at the same college. It was during that course that my third book, A Penny on the Tracks, was contracted. I value all of the critiques of my work by my peers and instructors because they have helped me become a better writer.

But as a writer, I have to put in the work, and it bothers me to no end when people think they can just pick up a pen and start writing the masterpiece that is their life without studying the craft.

I’m writing my current book in a point-of-view I’ve never attempted — subjective omniscient.  My former books were written in first-person and third-person limited. This is completely new to me. I feel like I’m starting all over again as a writer, and that isn’t such a bad feeling. I may enroll in another writing course. I need the guidance my fellow writers have given me on my previous works for the story I am writing now.

The writing community is tremendously supportive.

I thank all the writers who share their time and their knowledge to inspire and encourage those aspiring to write.

 

 

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Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Penny on the Tracks

Last November, I published my book, A Penny on the Tracks. It is a YA book based loosely on my childhood friendship with my best friend. I wrote this story in college. At the time, it was written as a short story and was titled The Hideout. The finished product hardly resembles anything of the original.

In fact, the college version of A Penny on the Tracks was so bad that when I reread it nearly fifteen years ago, my first instinct was to throw it away, but the writer in me remembered the agonizing hours I put into the piece, so I stuffed it in an overfilled drawer of mostly unfinished old works and left it there.

About three years ago, for whatever reason, I searched that overfilled drawer for that story and this time when I reread the piece I didn’t want to toss it into a fire. This time I saw potential. Although I ended up rewriting almost the entire thing, the core of the story has stayed the same — two friends sharing their childhood together while dealing with personal tragedy.

The importance of friendship is prevalent in this story, and I’m proud of the way A Penny on the Tracks has turned out. I’m proud that I not only finished the story, but a publisher liked it enough to contract it. I’m hoping the same thing will happen with the story I am currently writing tentatively called Annabel. 

This is another awfully-written college short story and was titled The Attic. This piece was also stuffed in that same overfilled drawer and for some reason I also fished this story out and decided to salvage it with a rewrite. I’m over two hundred pages in and am still unsure about an ending, but I have some ideas. With A Penny I always knew how the story was going to end, and of course knowing the direction you’re writing to makes writing a story so much easier, but I do have a knack of making life harder for myself. Why should writing be any different?

The story of A Penny on the Tracks deals with friendship, coming out, and tragedy.  A girl names Lyssa and her best friend Abbey discover a hideout near the train tracks and spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out and finding freedom from issues at home. Their childhood innocence shatters when the hideout becomes the scene of a tragic death.

Here is an excerpt from A Penny on the Tracks:

I JERKED FROM my sleep while the phone was still buzzing its first high-piercing ring. I glanced at the clock on the nightstand. It read 4:17 a.m. I knew something was wrong.

The second ring was abruptly broken up, and my mother’s muffled voice carried into my room. I was already sitting upright in my bed when my bedroom door squeaked open, and my mother’s slight figure appeared as a shadow near my door.

“Lyssa? You up?” she asked.

“What’s wrong?” My voice was no louder than a whisper.

My mother made her way into the dark room. I couldn’t make out the expression on her face, but her movement was stiff and hesitant. 

She turned on the lamp and sat down beside me. Her face was pale and she let out short, shallow breaths. It seemed difficult for her to look me in the eyes.

“What is it?” I asked. “What’s happened?”

My mother looked at me with pain in her eyes. “Lyssa . . .” She smoothed her hand gently across my arm. “Abbey’s dead.”

I took in her words without an ounce of denial. The reality of what my mother had told me was instant.

My best friend was dead.

 

 

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A Penny on the Tracks

 

 

 

 

A Recipe From Sloane Taylor’s Cookbook: Date Night Dinners

Date Night Dinners

 

I volunteered to make a meal from Sloane Taylor’s new cookbook, Date Night Dinners, Meals to Make Together for a Romantic Evening . I chose the pasta dish, Whore’s Spaghetti, because I love pasta and follow a vegan diet, and this meal was perfect. It was suggested in the book to serve the meal with Parmesan cheese, but I left it off my plate and the meal didn’t lose any of its extraordinary flavor. I absolutely loved this dish and will absolutely be making it again.

 

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Whore’s Spaghetti

Sauce
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 14.5 oz. can (411g) Italian plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. (15ml) capers, chopped
1 can pitted black olives, drained and chopped
½ tsp. (2.5ml) red pepper flakes
1 tsp. (5ml) dried basil
1 tsp. (5ml) dried oregano
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, stir 2 – 3 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes, capers, olives, pepper flakes, basil, and oregano. Turn heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes.
Add pepper. Taste the sauce, adjust seasoning to suit you.
Reduce heat to low, simmer another 15 minutes.

Pasta
1 lb. (454g) spaghetti
1 tsp. (5ml) fresh or dried parsley

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cook spaghetti according to package directions until al dente.
Toss pasta with the sauce, sprinkle on parsley.
Serve with plenty of Parmesan cheese on the side.

 

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According to the book, the reason this dish is called Whore’s Pasta is because there was a rumor going around that the Working Girls in Italy “prepared this dish for their late night customers from standard kitchen supplies. It was an added bonus for their clients and an easy way to keep business flowing.” I can’t speak for the Working Girls’ other “services”, but this dish definitely would have kept me coming back for more.

A couple family friends stopped over the night I prepared this dish. Though they had already eaten and swore to me they were so full they couldn’t eat another bite, I placed a dish in front of them and persuaded them to at least “try a little bit.” I put those words in quotes because that “little bit” turned out to be the entire dish, plus another serving. Like me, these friends are Italian, and we Italians can always eat, especially when the meal is a tasty pasta dish.

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There is so much I love about this recipe. I’m a huge fan of capers and black olives, another reason I chose this dish. But I also like a little kick to my food, and the red pepper flakes were just the right amount of heat to satisfy my taste buds.

What I loved about this sauce (or gravy as we tend to call it) is that it was more like a coating to the pasta rather than the typical thick marinara sauce of crushed tomatoes that drip off the pasta when you eat it.

 

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I prefer a thinner sauce, so this dish was perfect for me. I’m no cooking aficionado, but I’m assuming it was the olive oil that married this sauce together so nicely. I loved the way the flavors of the capers and black olives blended so nicely together.

I also chose this recipe because it appeared so easy to make, and it was. I love to cook and try new recipes, but I don’t like to spend too much time in the kitchen. I have my limits, and this dish was very quick and easy to make, but because it was so good, my guests flooded me with compliments because they assumed I had worked harder on it than I really did. I eventually shared with them the simplicity of the recipe, and one of them already said they’d be making it, but will add shrimp.

If I still ate shrimp, I’m sure that would taste really good.

Five Stars for this delicious recipe.

 

 

 

Sloane

Award-Winning author Sloane Taylor is a sensual woman who believes humor and good food are healthy aspects of our everyday lives and carries that philosophy into her books. She writes spicy romance. Being a true romantic, all her stories have a happy ever after. Taylor is also an avid cook whose recipes are featured in Divine Magazine.

Sloane was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. She and her husband now live in a small home in Northwest Indiana and enjoy the change from city life.

Taylor currently has seven romance books, a Couples Coobook, and two free compiled cookbooks released by Toque & Dagger Publishing. Excerpts from her books can be found on her website http://www.sloanetaylor.com, blog http://sloanetaylor.blogspot.com/, and all popular vendors.

Stay connected on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSloaneTaylor, Twitter https://twitter.com/sloanetaylor2, and Google+ https://plus.google.com/116792660982628183855/posts?hl=en.