Tuesday, December 30, 2008

One of the boxes must have my stories in it...

Not the printed ones... the ones that usually play through my head.

We've been moving into our new house. For the last week and a half, I have spent nearly every waking minute working on and moving into the house. And it feels like it'll never get done.

Luckily, I'm so busy that there are only a few minutes to even miss writing. I miss crafting stories and polishing up snappy dialogue for maximum bite. I miss finishing a story and feeling all the little peacock feathers fan out in appreciation of my own genius.

I can't even get into the room that is designated my office. Since it's not "important" to the running of the house, it is last on the list of the places to deal with. (This is my determination, not Hubby's.)

I think somewhere, in the piles of boxes that contain my office things, is my writing. My story telling ability. My mind has been strangely quiet as we've embarked on our journey into indentured servitude home ownership. No snippets of stories or great ideas have nudged my cerebral cortex while I've worked on washing dishes, painting, or hanging up curtains.

But, after all this time, I think we're finally getting to the end. Soon, things should be much quieter in life. And hopefully much noisier in my brain.

I like being crazy... the people in my head keep my company.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Story of A House

Once upon a time... or about last year, we saw a house. Hubby and I had been househunting for a while by that point. All we'd found so far was that we didn't make enough money to live in Livingston County. Unless we went all the way to the boonies. At the time, for those with short memories, gas was already over three bucks a gallon. We wanted to live close to work and put our money towards a home and life. Plus, we prefer to spend our time together/ at home rather than driving around.

About a year ago, we spotted a house outside town that was for sale. Wonderful house, great location. It had all the features we wanted in a house, a layout we liked, great size for the family we one day hope to have. Even a two car garage so my car can come in out of the cold. But our wallet was three sizes too small. We kept looking. It was hard, though, because every house was compared to this one, unattainable dream house. And none could stand up to the comparison.

Then, sometime late in spring, we drove by the house again and noticed, oddly that the grass was about eye-ball high. When we'd seen this house before, it was rather well maintained. We soon confirmed that the house had gone into foreclosure. But that meant that when it came back on the market (as a bank-owned property) that it might, just might, be within our meager price range.

Time passed. The required waiting period ended, but the house was not for sale. We waffled. We had continued looking, but the pickings had become slim in the area. The tide of foreclosures had dwindled, leaving mainly super-expensive houses, site condos, or "handyman special."

Then, THE house came back on the market. With an incredible price. We rushed to make an offer. Then waited. The offer was verbally accepted and then the paperwork began. Back and forth. Then we went to the bank to beg for money. More paperwork. A flurry of emails, nearly daily, to make sure all the little ducks lined up. Anxiety. Doubt. Excitement.

And then, on top of all this house-buying stuff, I had a large final project for my grad school course and my normal teaching duties. Somehow, there was barely time to eat, sleep, and play with Hubby. Hence my absence from blogging and writing.

Now, it's all over. My grad school course is finished. School is out for Christmas Break.

But, best of all, we have our dream house. This is the best Christmas gift... ever.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hey, look! It's a story!

It's been a long long time, but finally there's another new Bo Fexler story out. Yellow Mama's latest issue includes "Mighty Maids Mystery."

A maid is found dead in one of the houses she's cleaning. Can Bo figure out who did it? Well, of course. It's more a matter of how she finds out and who's behind it.

I miss Bo as much as the rest of you. She's been out on hiatus for a while. I'm hoping she'll be back for Christmas. Bo in a Santa hat... now there's something to find under the tree. ;-)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

State of Publishing is No Match for Ego

So there's all this bad news in the publishing world. Yeah, yeah, and you can't find a single job in Michigan either.

Generalizations are always false.

Just as there are still want ads long unfulfilled in Michigan, there are still agents and editors looking for the next great book that will make them money. That is what writing is ultimately about for publishers-- money.

So, with my ego still alive and strong (it's the rest of my brain that took a beating these last two weeks) I'm still fairly confident that my novel, my characters, and my writing are good enough to overcome the 'difficulties' of the current state of publishing. I have something different but still marketable... at least if my fans are any indication. I will find an agent and a publisher who likewise sees what I see in Bo Fexler-- fun stories with a strong, sexy, unashamed female protagonist.

On an unrelated note, ever notice that there's a fine line between dreams and delusions. =)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Muse

My muse has a sense of humor. Often, when my schedule is wide open, with no obligations, she takes time off. And if she knows that day without obligations is a day when Hubby will be gone all day, she's even lazier.

But when I'm shorting sleep, trying to cram in several different projects and personal commitments, she shows up with this really great idea. Something to do with Bo. And strip poker.

Stupid muse.

And we won't talk about how she loves to give me ideas as I'm drifting off to sleep, warm and snuggled up with already-sleeping Hubby (who gets up at dark o'clock).

I'd hate her, but she does have such good ideas.

I've been trying to bargain with her lately. If she'll give me fragments of ideas when I'm busy, then it gives me something to mull over while I drive to work. Then, when I have lots of time, like some Saturday, she can just nudge the idea along instead of doing real work.

Does your muse behave? Or does she mock you like mine mocks me?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Stuffed Winner

Thanksgiving was good. Great food. Incredible family stories that are quietly filed for later story writing.

Aside from getting stuffed, I also finished my NaNoWriMo effort. Two minutes to minute, I validated my word count and got my special winner badge.

The story still has a long way to go. It's moving into the editing department as we speak. But Editing is taking a long weekend. I'd have a talk with that department, but I wouldn't want to get me in trouble.

Besides, I've been working on several other things. All of them time consuming, mentally tiresome, and unpaid.

Don't be surprised, folks, if my posting gets sparse in the coming weeks. Several things are colliding at the same time-- Dec. 15th is the magic date. Likely, a huge part of my life will take a dramatic change.

I wish it was the signing of an agent or the something writing related, but writing is going to be shoved aside-- not even to the backburner. Writing is probably being pushed into the fridge to wait until later. This was not how I planned to end the year.

Any tips for trying to squeeze twenty-nine hours of activity into a mere twenty-four hours?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Writing as Therapeutic Process

I've heard many a writer has found writing to be therapeutic. I thought I'd give it a whirl in my NaNo novel.

Bo Fexler is a character who is detached from me and my life. She shares mainly surface traits-- drinking Diet Pepsi and driving little cars being two of them.

But with Niki, I took a different route. I including in her story, and back story, many pieces of my own life. I even let her deal with them the same way I had-- with avoidance and in-depth musings. I thought I'd see if there was any relief in that action.

But I can't write when I'm angry. That's about the only time that I usually can't force myself to write. Happy, frustrated, even depressed still allow for writing. When unhappy, the writing is escape into a world I can control.

With Niki's history (and how it mirrors my own), it made me angry when I wrote. And then I would stop writing. When I picked up again, I would just jump to something else-- action instead of reflection. There was nothing therapeutic about the process.

I suppose it shouldn't surprise me that writing these things in a story was not more therapeutic for me than discussing them with hubby or anyone else. I can't fix the problems, can't change what's been done or, worse, where things have ended up. So, I'll go write about something else. Something that doesn't piss me off. Something fun. To escape.

Oh well. Not all writers are created equal. Maybe writing won't help me deal with my own issues. Maybe something else will. But I think I'd best keep writing separate from my issues-- I won't get anything done if I don't.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Femme Fatale

Click here for some interesting reading on the femme fatale by Emily Veinglory over at Cliterature. (Great site! No clicky if you get offended by sex.)

I'd like to think that Bo's a femme fatale... but in the best way possible. She is a cross between the cunning detective and the stunning beauty who will have her way at any cost. She is dangerous... and I think that's one of her best features.

Of course, I'm not sure folks are ready for a female lead who can think even when a swoon-worthy man enters the room. Or who can keep control of her own sexuality.

There are a helluva a lot of cultural stereotypes about women that Bo has to fight against. Probably starting with the old double-standard: a man with lots of partners is a stud while a woman with lots of partners is a slut.

What some other gender stereotypes you can think of? And how true are they?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Quiet Ones

Watch out for the quiet ones. We may not be as innocent as we appear.

We may not swear or say much. We may have our noses in a book or pad of paper. We may do what we're "supposed to."

But we may have other plans. Other lives.

Mine include tales of sex and violence. Doing some research into erotica (yum) has lead me to believe that the first Bo Fexler novel may be an erotic mystery. I'm good with that. Erotica is fun. Sex is fun.

Except for that romance and happily ever after stuff. Gets in the way of the fun part. ;-)

Few people who know me in real life would expect this from me. What about you-- what do people not know about you?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oh Dear

So, I was musing along in my NaNo, trying to think of a way to make Niki Gipsiss, my new character, into a fuller character.

I decided to have her get laid. Which would have been good for word count too... ignoring the fact that her boyfriend wouldn't comply. (Damn character get these ideas that they can dictate their own actions...)

But shortly there after, I realized that Niki is a very sexual character. She quickly became a fuller character once I started to explore her views and thoughts on sex.

Niki's different from Bo, but sex is a big part of Niki's character too.

Looks like Niki has a tendency to turn to sexual thoughts. A lot. It's fun. I think, for now at least, this is my calling as a writer. (Sorry Ma! ;-)

This is fun-- exploring new writerly worlds. I think it's important as writer to try new things. New stories, new characters, even new processes of writing. Shake off the ordinary and explore. I'm not sure if I can pull off 50k this month, but I'm happy for what I've gotten that doesn't show in word cont.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Getting Involved

Niki is such a different character from Bo. One of the big differences is that Bo's hired to do her investigations. In the NaNo novel I'm writing with Niki as the star, she's dragged into the investigation because it very much involves her. After this, I'm giong to have get more creative in how to put Niki on the case. How do writers keep the amatuer sleuth involved in all sorts of dangerous, harrowing investigations, without ending up like Jessica Fletcher. (Now if she ever showed up on my town, I'd be heading North, and fast!)

I suppose I could run through Niki's friends and family for investigations. Ora friend of a friend needs help. I'm interested in keeping Niki around for a while. But I worry about how many times Niki can get involved in some sort of mystery without it seeming cliched.

Any ideas for how to involve the amatuer sleuth in different sorts of cases without it seeming just a little to coicidental that she's involved *again*?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Plots R Us

Several of the last books I read all had rather standard plots. Now, I realize that many stories will have the same basic plot.

For example, there's the Revenge Plot. Something bad was done, now I must kill you for it and spend the entire book to get there. I will have to overcome many hurdles, including (or especially) you trying to kill me first.

Another is the Clear My Name Plot. I have to run around and hide to clear my name of the thing I'm being accused of. In the process, I will find out who is framing me and have to defeat them. And more than likely, they'll be after my ass, too-- lucky me.

The secret, or so I'm told by the gremlins that type things on my computer and call it the internet, is to have a situation and/ or characters that is so compelling that it overcomes any plot short comings.

My problem? I'm not nearly confident enough in my character-creation or situation-development to think that I can over come a potentially cliched plot. This poses some serious problems because so many plots have been done before.

If nothing else it forces me to stretch my brain. Makes me think in new and different ways so that I don't feel like I'm reusing that old and stained plot. But it's not easy.

No one told me writing good was this hard...

What are some other plots on the shelves at Plots R Us? Let's have some fun with this. I could use a chuckle. =)

Image from Stock.xchng

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

When the Words Won't Wait for My Fingers

Sometimes, I get on a roll with a story. The words, sentences, scenes seem to come from my fingers at an amazing pace. They seem to by-pass my brain so that it hardly seems like I am writing the story so much as reading it while some magic puts the words on the computer screen.

These are some of the greatest moments as a writer. They are always too short. And almost always interrupted by something that disrupts the flow. And then it takes a while for me to get the flow back.

The one thing that seems to flow easily from my fingers the most often is descriptions. Often of people, but sometimes of scenery. Once I start, I can go several paragraphs describing the view.

But as a hyper-vigilant-- and hyper-critical-- writer, I always get squeemish about passages of description. I know description is important to a story, but I'm not confident enough in my own writing to know when I've put it in the right spot, or if it's enough, too much, or whatever else can go wrong with descriptions.

Sometimes, and this is my most favorite time, a piece of action, usually with dialogue, will come tumbling from my brain at high speed. The scene will unfold as words on a page, always with snappy lines and great dialogue and I sit back and go "WOW!"

These times don't happen nearly enough, as far as I'm concerned. But I love them.

Any ideas on how to get those scenes to come forth like water? Preferably when I don't need to be doing something else.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My Town Monday: Mountain View

And yet I'm still talking about Livingston County. Situated just west of Brighton is Mount Brighton. This is a man made "mountain" that reaches 250 vertical feet.

Local rumor says it's made of trash. I don't know if that's true or not.

Either way, it's a ski hill. They have skiing and snowboarding in the winter. Since I am very much an indoor critter, I spend much of my winter where it's warm. That doesn't include skiing, snowboarding, or much else that takes me outside longer than necessary. Except brushing the snow off my stupid car.

In recent years, Mount Brighton added the Jackal Golf Course around the backside of the hill. This is an eighteen hole golf course.

I don't golf either. I grew up next to a golf course and still don't understand the appeal. I'd rather be at home with a book or my internet.

And another thing that's new to hill that we call Mount Brighton in summer is Sphereing. This nauseua inducing activity involves climbing into a giant inflatble hamster ball and rolling down the hill.

I have never done that either. I have innards that are dreadfully sensitive to spinning and rolling and other motions. Growing up, any car trip included a stop for my breakfast to make an exit...

I have nothing against any fine folks who participate in these activities. But my involvement with Mount Brighton is limited to the "Mountain" Vista it provides and trying to make a turn from Challis onto Bauer roads. Bauer is one of those just-busy-enough roads that makes a turn difficult at best. And if you're turning right from Challis, Bauer is an extra steep hill. Try *that* in a stick shift car!

Mount Brighton is one of our landmarks around here. I remember driving into Brighton winters ago and watching them make their own snow. Still, I drive by and watch the people skiing and snowboarding down the hillside.

And all I can think is, "Aren't they COLD?" But I have a serious aversion to cold. My abhorrence of the cold would make one think that I would move to some place warmer (maybe down where Travis lives.)

But I'm Michigan born and bred. This is my home.

No, I did not see any snow this weekend. I very much did not. I know it was reported, but I refuse to admit I saw nothing.

Make sure you visit Travis Erwin for more My Town Monday posts. Travel the world from your computer.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Few Words Every Day... Adds Up

I am firm believer that you don't "find" time to write, you make it. If you are serious about writing, it becomes the activity that you can't wait to wedge into your schedule between work, dinner, laundry, and buying a house.

Many people I talk to often question, with great incredulity, how I manage to write so much. Especially, when they here I've written a novel. (Somehow writing over 60,000 words in short stories has less impact, but that's a separate issue.)

I only work three jobs. And I get minutes here and there in my teaching job while the slugs are oozing slime over their books and papers or eating my pencils.

NaNoWriMo is another one of those times when I take a close look at when and how much I'm writing. I push myself harder during NaNo to get those precious words. I'm not a very good loser. Ask my Hubby why we don't play certain board games anymore...

But as I have pushed myself to add words to my word count each day, even if it's only a bit, I realize that I could be making a lot better progress on my non-NaNo writing than I have been. I could have more short stories written. And I could have many more words, sentences, and chapters in Bo's second novel. If I only pushed myself harder.

Now, granted, there's a fair amount of dreck in my NaNo. But it's still proof that I have not been pushing myself to write nearly as much as I could.

I think I'm adopting a new habit-- one that will hopeful persist beyond NaNo. Write a chunk. There's a thread over at Absolute Write's Water Cooler (OMFG, I do spend too much time there!) that's the "Page a Day Thread." The idea is to write 250 words a day, everyday. Such a nice managable chunk. So, as I sit in the Independent Study class watching the kids work, I realize I can put in 250 words real quick. It won't take long. And I do.

Or those few minutes while Hubby is getting ready to go somewhere... and I'm already ready... yes, I do wear the pants. I can plop at my computer-- which is on nearly 24/7 anyway-- and poke out another 250 words.

Bit by bit. Like eating an elephant.

And the sense of accomplishment from having continued to up my word count... it's a nice feeling. I've started the habit. I hope to continue it. And hopefully, I will have more short stories, and more novels, to show for it in the coming months.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I've never talked about politics here, but...

I have no intention to start. I'm going to talk about characters and NaNoWriMo.

I'm writing a new character, Niki Gipsiss, for my NaNoWriMo project. I wouldn't exactly call this endeavor a novel. It'll be novel length, and it'll have a plot somewhere under the excess verbiage. I'm not padding my word count, just exploring the thoughts, feelings, and histories of this new set of characters.

Before I go on, let me reassure my dear readers, that Bo Fexler is no going away. I love her character. If Niki ever develops, she'll just share time with Bo. Maybe I could do two novel series, one with Niki and one with Bo, alternating books or something. Of course, first I have to get ONE series going... but I dream big. Very big.

Anyway, Niki is very different from Bo. She's not nearly as hot. She's attractive, but more in your average girl sort of way. Brown hair, brown eyes, only slightly taller than the average woman (5'6 to Bo's 5'10 1/2"). Niki's more cute than ohmyfuckinggod hot.

Right now, I'm noticing that Niki doesn't have much character. She's pretty vanilla. Bo's got serious attitude that oozes from her every sentence, swing of the hips, and curve of the lips. She's a bad ass right to her core.

Niki's different. I'm have some trouble figuring out what her flavor will be. She needs some sort of character, but it's not that easy for me to just come up with one. Especially since I tend towards the bitter and snarky... like Bo. I don't want to write another type of Bo-character.

But I'm going to give Niki 50,000 of her own words to figure out who she is. I think it's time to stretch my writerly abilities and see where it will take me. Maybe no where-- maybe I am a one-trick pony.

At least it's a fun trick.

Keep track of my NaNoWriMo progress on the right over there with my NanoCat progress meter. Mew.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Wow-- When Did it Become Tuesday?

I found time to vote-- which actually ended up being the easiest, quickest thing in a slew of busy, crazy events.

In the midst of everything, I am one of the pack of fools who's participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). You can see my ticker in the sidebar. I'm doing okay on progress.

I'm actually giving Bo Fexler a break for a month. It's a truly strange experience given that I've been writing Bo stories almost exclusively for some three years now.

But, I decided to explore a new character, and NaNoWriMo seems to be a good place. All my musings can become part of my word count. I tend to think better when I write, for some reason. As if the mere act of committing things to paper-- even virtual paper that I use for typing-- forces me to think through things more than I do when just thinking.

Surprisingly, NaNo has not be the big time-sucker these past few days. That's been Hubby. ;-)

Get your mind of the gutter. There's not enough room there for the both of us.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I May Never Understand

I realize that there are people who find sex unacceptable in any context. And that some of these people don't bat an eye at graphic violence.

These people confuse me. I simply cannot wrap my head around it. I respect the differences, but I don't understand it.

I would rather read about characters having sex and, you know, enjoying themselves, than characters being shot, killed, dismembered, and other nasty things. I accept murder and death in the mystery genre. But I have trouble when bodies pile up faster than leaves under the giant oak tree come November. It's a stretch of realism, and to me a sometimes distasteful disregard for human life. I can accept a *little* bit when the bodies are all evil guys, but still, surely there are other ways to dispatch these baddies.

But sex is a no-no? Unless it's forced (which makes it violence), sex is FUN. No body gets hurt in sex. How is it that it's wrong to use a sex act for information, but it's okay to smash someone's head into a wall?

Someone getting hurt it okay, but someone getting his jollies from a willing participant is not?

I don't get it. I don't think I ever will. So, since I'm writing something that I would want to read... there's always going to be more sex than violence. Besides, writing sex is fun too.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And Another One Down

It's end of the road for Muzzle Flash. It's all out of ammo, or something. DZ Allen shut the site down, so unfortunately, the archives are gone as well.

There's a string of zines that have died quiet deaths this year. Unfortunate, to say the least, though I understand wholly.

Like any writer who struggles to break into the ranks of the Big Name publications, I always get a little concerned when the online markets shift, change, or die. One less market that accepts my work.

If there weren't places like Muzzle Flash or the others, I might have long thought that I just wasn't a good writer. (There may be some editors who still think that!)

So long, Muzzle Flash. It was fun. Just too short.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My Town Monday: Grand River Corn Maze

Being that the western part of the county is still largely rural, it's not surprising that there are a couple corn mazes in the area.

Hubby and I have been going to the Grand River Corn Maze for several years now. Each year they have a different pattern. And for the last couple years, the Grand River Corn Maze has also included the Slaughterhouse Haunted Corn Maze. There was a haunted house, but it was shut down this year (amongst rumors of tension between the powers that be and the family that built it.)

This years theme was the Olympics. There are signs in the maze-- I'm not sure, but I think that if you're still finding signs than it's a clue that you're on the right path. The maze is always quite tall, and there are two patches of trees. (We used to think there was only one patch of trees... that was a problem.)

We usually make pretty good time in the maze. My family happens to be born with a pretty good sense of direction. Combine that with good observational skills, and we're usually out of the maze in a half-hour. Hubby has no sense of direction... I worry sometimes that he won't be able to find his way home. He's one of those folks who couldn't find his way out of a paperbag with a map, a flashlight, AND a pair of scissors. But he has other redeeming qualities that some day I'm sure I'll find. ;-)

Hubby and I go to the corn maze during the day time. Preferably during the day on a Saturday when there's less people. I don't do the whole 'wandering around in the dark' thing. Flash light or no. I still sleep with a nightlight because of my overactive imagination. (Good for writing, not good for trying to fall asleep when it looks like the shadows are moving...)

Needless to say, we do NOT go to the haunted corn maze. Nope. Not happening.

Once, when I was young, foolish, and brand-newly wed, Hubby and I went to a haunted house. I'd never been in one, having been to few carnivals in my younger days. So, we spotted one on Tourist Trap Clifton Hill at Niagara Falls on our honeymoon. Hubby suggested we go in and I (foolishly) agree. Then, Hubby, being the sweetheart that he is insists that I go first since my eyesight is better.

Overactive imagination. Tension from the knowledge that something is going to jump out of me. I should have left Hubby in the haunted house. No one would notice one more "dead body." I still don't let Hubby forget that one. No haunted places. No things jumping out at me. At least when it's one of my brother's I can punch them for scaring me.

But the corn maze is fun. In the daytime.

Visit Travis Erwin for more My Town Monday posts.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Writing Characters

Some characters come to me fully formed, ready for action. Bo Fexler strolled onto the page quite a few years ago-- she was pretty much as she is now. Tall, blond, sexy. She became more sexy, and more willing to use sex as time went on. (I also went from being a high school kid to a married woman in that time period... ;)

Other characters are less distinct, more malleable. They let me push them and prod them into the role they need to play. Many of my secondary and minor characters are this way. I'll change their job or their motivation and they'll just shrug and go along with it.

Someone asked me the other day, why Bo had a speech impairment. That, to some smacks of "Mary Sue." I don't know why Bo has a speech impairment. She always had one. It makes her reticent, a trait that is useful for a private eye. But beyond that, I have no explanation. That's just who Bo is. I could no more write her another way than I could write her as being short and dark haired.

Sometimes, I write the story. Sometimes, the story writes itself. Neither is inherently better. I can make up crap just as well as a plot line can go bust without help. But it does make me sound a little more crazy than normal.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Erotic mystery

I never paid much attention to erotica as a genre. I have nothing against sex and books full of it. In fact, I rather like sex. At any rate, I admit to dismissing erotica because I thought it would have little that interested me. I thought erotica was all about romance and happily ever after and icky stuff like that.

But it's not. So, I've been studying up lately, learning about the possibilities in this genre. Possibilities for Bo Fexler to find a home. I think many of her stories could be classified as erotica. I think her first novel would be an erotic mystery. I'm okay with that... even though it does narrow my publishing prospects in some regards. It opens new prospects I hadn't really considered. I will have to learn more, see where Bo fits in.

The only problem with studying erotica is that I get... distracted... easily. The sacrifices I make for my craft. ;-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

No Pressure? Ha!

Like many writers, I am my own worst enemy. I write and delete, write and delete, fret and pull out my hair. Good thing I have extra hair.

I've been making something that almost looks like progress on Novel #2, but I keep having trouble with the fear of writing crap. Sometimes, particularly in the early days of a novel or story, I just write and see where the story takes me. But once there's some semblance of something salvagable, I seize like an engine without motor oil. I can't write crap because that wouldn't be worth writing. What?

Sometimes, I push myself anyway and find that these fingers are capable of writing not-crap. But the fear of writing something I'm only going have to undo or redo is causing some serious slow-downs in writing.

I've been gutting, filleting, and redoing Novel #2(but not starting over and somehow that's important. Look, if I wasn't a head case, I could hardly be a writer!). In this process of redoing so much of it, I can't seem to force myself to write just anything. My fingers resist. And then they go clicky-clicky over to the internet. =/

I've been noticing how my writing habits wax and wane with phases of the moon. A period of good writing makes me want to write more. A drought... and I spend a lot of time in the kitchen looking for ways to break the drought. So far, I've not had any great inspiration in the kitchen, but one never knows.

Too much pressure to write. I've got to find a way to get past this. NaNoWriMo's coming up, which should help. (Yes, I can be counted amongst the foolish! Fourth year now.) In the mean time, does anyone has any ideas to get some of the pressure of myself? Writing is supposed to be fun, both the good and the bad.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Town Monday: Lee Road Roundabouts

Some brainiac decided that Brighton needed mall. They bought up some land nestlted between US-23 and Island Lake State Park.

Only, this intersection (and set of freeway ramps) was already a dreadful set up. It would have to be redone to accept traffic for the new mall.

Someone came up with the idea of putting in roundabouts. I'm not opposed to roundabouts... but whoever came up with the set up for the Lee Road Roundabouts was insane. There are three roundabouts, two literarlly on top of each other. And a craptacular design that even I have trouble figuring out. It's like a free-for all-- floor it and hope no one's in the way.

Click here for a full size pic.

You have expressway traffic, mall traffic, local road traffic. And a couple multi-lane roundabouts to figure out.

It's incredibly confusing, particularly since every lane crosses another lane through the big roundabout (bottom of the screen.)

I'm a fan of roundabouts, really, just not this one. I try to avoid going through it. It's really just the lanes crossing each other that really throws me.

Though, truth is, the roundabout has only seen two accidents (that I've ever heard of) since it's opening. And both of those accidents were caused when some dipshit put their car in REVERSE when they passed where they were going. Um, last time I checked, it is NEVER okay to go in reverse with traffic behind you-- roundabout, regular road, or even parking lot. Not a roundabout problem-- driver error at it's "finest."

I'm sure one contributing factor to the low accident rate is that people who are confuddled by it (like me) avoid it. The other factor is certainly the low speeds-- you can't go fast through the roundabouts.

I hear there's some good shops at the mall. Nothing has enticed me, yet. I admit that if I so desired (or needed) I would learn how to navigate this engineering "masterpiece." I did, after all, learn how to drive the expressway, a stick shift, and other things that I was incredibly resistant to once upon a time ago. But for now, I'm just going to declare this a clusterfuck and avoid it. Little roundabouts are okay-- this is nuts.

What's your favorite road-design distaster?

Visit Travis Erwin for more My Town Monday posts.

And I also have an entry in Patti Abbott's Flash Fiction Challenge below (avoid if you don't like naughty things. ;-)

Fall Flash Fiction Challenge

Patti Abbott posted a Flash Fiction Challenge. I took the challenge. (Don't read this is you don't like naughty bits. ;-)

Weaker Sex
A Bo Fexler Story

His gaze fixed on my tits. Inside, where air conditioning dropped the temperatures to sub-arctic, I was cold. The thin little bra that's more than enough for my perky pair surely showed the physiological reaction to the cold. Often mistaken for arousal. I'm not the sort of girl to mess with a man's sexual misconceptions.

"You must be Ian," I cooed. When he managed to get his head to nod, I slid into the seat opposite him. "Bonnie," I told him. Given that he was a lawyer in the same office with one of my previous clients, it was too risky to use my real name. Women named Bo are as common as chaste prostitutes.

"How'd you know who I was?"

"Friend of yours sent me your way." I leaned forward so he could get a good view of the valley.

"Oh?" he asked my boobs.

"Yeah. Said you were good for… some fun." I gave him my naughtiest grin. He ginned, but only for a moment. "I don't know what you're talking about…"

"Aren't you friends with Andy Willmore?" I asked. My client's brother.

"Yeah… why? He said something?"

"Said that you were a hit with the ladies."

"The only lady I've been with is my wife." He showed me the gold band.

"I don't mind fucking married men." I almost said 'fucking with.'

His eyebrows nearly disappeared into his hair. No receding hairline-- at twice my age he was still pretty good looking. "I think-- you've got me confused-- or something."

"Still loyal to the wife? That's not what I hear. Look, I’m not a prostitute. I just prefer uncomplicated sex." Part of the reason I like to do it myself.

"I-- I love my wife."

I sat up and took an envelope from the back pocket of my jeans. I laid the envelope on the table. When I spoke, the seduction in my voice was replaced with business. "Are you honestly saying that you wouldn't cheat on your wife-- even if I paid you."

"Paid-- me? No-- I'm married."

He started to get up, but I grabbed his wrist. He looked at it, face squinched up in confusion. "Sit."

He sat. "What-- who the hell are you?"

"Bo Fexler, private--"

"Private eye. Lenny mentioned you. Said you were a pretty respectable PI. For someone who makes a living breaking up marriages."

I chuckled. "This from the lawyer."

He shrugged.

I nodded. "Would you be interested in photos of your wife… cheating on you?" I laid two photos on the table. Photos with enough nekkid to get his interest. Then I put my hand over top of them.

Several emotions passed over his face, but he returned to confusion. "Why?"

"I was hired to find evidence of infidelity in your marriage."

"By… my wife?"

"No. Kim Willmore. Andy's sister. She's rather protective and when he set his sights on your wife, she wanted to help out. And your prenup says that any spouse caught cheating gets, well, everything. Kim was willing to pay me five thousand dollars to… make sure you were caught cheating." I took half of the 5k up front.

"Kim? She's a good, respectable woman." He shook his head. That was the buzz word in his law firm-- "respectable."

"Or so you thought. You pay me five thousand, and the photos are yours."


"Because… it's the right thing to do."

"Can I write you a check."

I laughed. "Hell no! I'm not stupid."

"No… no I wouldn't say that." He frowned. "I'll get the money."

We met the next afternoon to make the trade. I brought a friend as back up, even pointed him out to Ian. Ian nodded but clearly thought nothing of my orange-haired friend.

I counted the money and pressed my body against his to whisper in his ear.

"Some advice: Call no woman respectable unless she's dead."

And my friend took a picture.

Went well with the set of shots my friend had taken the day before at the bar. Ian meeting with, and getting real close to, another woman.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Temperature Changes in the Bedroom

My bed gets bigger and smaller based on temperature. It's a remarkable phenomenon.

When it's hot out, the bed is too small. There's not enough room. I push Hubby to his edge and scoot myself to my edge. But somehow, he's still too close.

When it's cold out, the bed gets infinitely large. Especially in the wee hours of the morning where somewhere past the edge of the bed is my persistent alarm... and the cold bedroom. It's awful hard to find the edge of the bed when it gets that large.

And yet, no matter what time of year it is, the full size sheets always fit.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Love Affair

I love Microsoft Word. Have for a long time. All the way back to my first computer (a Mac, actually, when I was in middle school.) I love all the toys and tools. And I'm happily wed to Word2003. With the Thesaurus in the Reference pane, with Styles and the Document Map. And Track Changes in bubbles.

I've been married to Microsoft for a long time. My whole family is in on it-- so there's plenty of site licenses to around. I consider licensed copies part of my dowry in my marriage to Microsoft. Afterall, my parents were the ones who first introduced me to Microsoft. I've accepted my computer partner as it's grown and changed over the years from "Shrug and Pray" to actual "Plug and Play." We both love my flashdrive.

I love Microsoft, in spite of their flaws. Like a lover who leaves socks on the floor. We had a little tiff for a while of Media Player, for example. Like any marital spat, it revolved around different ideas of how things should be. Microsoft wanted to be extra helpful and go to the internet for everything. I just wanted to play my music, dammit. But we found a common ground (and I rolled the Media Player version back to version 9).

We're comfortable now, Microsoft and I. WindowsXP, Word2003 (though the Laptop does have the snazzy, hip new version.) We know what to expect from each other. We do our thing, usually without stepping on each others toes. Though, we both have our moments of stupidity where we do something we really shouldn't. Sometimes it's a stop (or illegal) error. Sometimes it's a d'oh where something is overwritten or updated incorrectly. But over all, it's pretty good.

However, in spite of this long term relationship with Microsoft, I'm having a fling with Firefox. It started slowly, innocently enough, as do all love affairs. But, I admit it. I'm falling in love with Firefox. Especially the spellchecker! Oh my. I usually know I've spelled something wrong online, in a forum on here, but my give-a-damn doesn't extend to pulling out the dictionary. It is, after all, just the internet. Now, with Firefox, I have a spellcheck. Yes, I'm a fickle lover. The rest of the features are comparable. And I still default to clicking IE when I go surfing. But I swoon over the little orange fox.

Don't tell my computer (I call it Spud.) I don't want it to get tempermental on me. But, have you seen Firefox? How can I resist?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Another Hit for Baby Shark

Just finished the latest Baby Shark book, High Plains Redemption. Another good one.

Baby Shark was even back to some pool playing in this one. Yea! I'm definitely interested in seeing where this series will go next.

Oh, yeah. My copy of High Plains Redemption came autographed. =D That's one of the best parts of the internet. I get to be in touch with super awesome celebrities. Like Robert Fate.

I think Baby Shark might be able to give Bo a run for her money. Though Baby Shark is a bit more apt to use a gun (or two) than Bo. And Bo's more apt to use her body. But still, it's nice to read a woman who can keep her head when someone's pulled a gun or slapped her around.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Town Monday: Roundabout We Go

User error is not a design flaw.

But some people are adamant that because the "new" roundabout(s) in Brighton are bad. Furthermore, these same people contend that all roundabouts are bad and we shouldn't have them in Michigan.

Here is the little roundabout at Main and Third Street in downtown Brighton.

Before the roundabout was built, Main Street had a right of way and Third Street had a stop sign. The only significance of Third Street is that the Brighton Police Department is there. And, surprisingly, Third Street seems to be a fairly often used thoroughfare. It connects Main Street to the other path out of town, Brighton Lake Road.

Simple, unassuming little roundabout. When it went it, it was the first roundabout in the area. And I mean, really. One of the first in Michigan, too. A new, novel, dreadfully frightening thing.

And years later, people are STILL whining over how awful they think (the) roundabouts are.

The complaints usually come in two flavors.

The first is that the roundabout is confusing and it's too hard to learn it.

If you can't figure out a little roundabout... please get off the road. Find someone competent enough. If you can't figure out simple little roundabout-- slow down & yield to traffic in the circle-- then how do you manage the Michigan left or some of the delightful freeway ramps.

The Main Street roundabout is very basic. Slow down, yeild to traffic in the circle, proceed when clear.

Ah, well there's the problem. But rather than realize that the DRIVER who doesn't slow down, pay attention, or yield is the issue, many Brighton citizens blame the roundabout. How dare the road commision put in a roundabout. Didn't the road commision realize that slowing down (you know, going 25 in a 25mph zone) and paying attention (like hanging up the bluetooh iphone) just shouldn't be expected from drivers. Tsk.

The other flavor of compaint is that no body does as they should in a roundabout. People on Main Street will often fly straight through the little circle without even a touch to the brake pedal. No yeilding, and sometimes I'm not sure they even see if there is anyone in the circle.

Again, this is clearly the fault of the road commision.

Whenever discussin of the roundabouts comes up, as it often does for some reason, I keep reiterating that user error does not equal design flaw. I usually win.

Then someone mentions the Lee Road clusterfuck roundabout. And I have nothing more to argue.

Come back next week to read about that delight.

For now, tell me, what do you think about roundabouts? Do you have them where you are?

Do you find yeilding to little rusty cars a problem? If so, I'd like your name and address. I'll be coming for you... I mean... um. Drive safe-- keep it between the ditches.

And thanks to Travis Erwin. See him for More My Town Monday links.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Patti Abbott has a Flash Fiction Challenge.

750 words.

One of the lines to use in the challenge is "Call no woman respectable unless she's dead."

I've used that line. Or rather Bo has.

Come back October 20th.

  • Query Status: 19 queries, 2 partial requests, 1 partial rejection, 12 rejections
  • Novel #2 Progress: 14k (yes, I went down. alot. =(
  • Current Song: I kissed a Girl by Katy Perry

Thursday, October 9, 2008

What Goes Through Your Head?

So... you come into my house. There's dust on the pictures and TV. There's a stain on the carpet by the front door. There's a mountain of newspapers breeding be the end of the couch, waiting to be recycled. There are a handful of glasses and bowls in the sink. There's crumbs and hairs here and there since it's been a couple days since anyone last vaccuumed.

What do you think? What goes through your head? Are you disgusted?

According to the commercials on TV, I should be mortified. Or, at least to avoid such mortification, I should buy [insert product].

I know there are people who get upset. But I don't. I have much more important things to do than put away dishes or vaccuum. I don't see my housekeeping as a reflection of my worth or godliness or some such thing.

I actually feel uncomfortable in spotless houses. I'm afraid to drop/spill/touch/ or shed.

How many of you care about how your house looks? Or what other people's houses look like?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Looking Nice

I'm thoroughly a modern woman, no doubt about that. I'm rather glad to be growing up in the age of the internet and other modern delights.

But there's one thing that I wish had not gone away with the tailfins on cars. That's dressing up. All the images I have seen and read of from the 1920-50s included men wearing nice slacks, shirts and sometimes ties. Had to have a hat. Women wore dresses (or occaisionally nice slacks), did their hair. In other words, no one looked like they grabbed the cleanest thing off the top of the dirty laundry basket and threw it on. No one looks like they live in a house without mirrors.

I wish going out didn't require seeing people hanging out of dirty sweats and raggy tee shirts. If I wanted to see people's underwear choices, I'd go to a strip club. I'm tired of the 'it's comfortable' argument. If you buy clothes that fit, most all of them are comfortable.

People feel better when they look nice. Too many episodes of 'What Not to Wear' have proven my theory on that. Does it really take that much longer to put on a clean pair of jeans (maybe even a pair that fits... though that includes another issue.) Is it that hard to get a clean shirt out of the closet or drawer? One that covers the muffin top or 'beer' belly?

I can brush my hair free of snarls in less than two minutes (three if I have use my tangle-free spray.) My hair hangs 3/4 of the way down my back at this point in time (give or take). If I can do that, than so can anyone else!

I think in general, people would feel better if they just took care of themselves, inside and out. I wish we all went out looking nice, put together, and competent. Instead of lazy, sloppy, and indifferent.

Though, sometimes, when I have extra bitter, I fear that people prefer to be lazy, sloppy and indifferent.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My Town Monday: They're Out There

They're waiting, sometimes in corn fields along the roads.

Or standing in the trees, waiting for the sound of tires on ashphalt and the white triangle that marks the approach of my car.

They've tried before. Once, they almost got me. Almost.

They're more determined than ever.

They're waiting for a long straight stretch of road. Some night, when I'm on my way home.

Or perhaps early morning while Hubby goes to work. No way I get up "early" in the morning! I'm nocturnal. But so are they. Twilight and dawn. When the world is gray and sleepy, night still near.

They're not thinking clearly-- they're reckless and careless. They're minds are on one thing. Sex. Two if you count a good time. But that might still be one thing.

They're a menace to the roads in and around the towns where I live and work. Long straight roads are the most menacing.

As I drive along, I have to be careful, be watchful. They might jump out at any moment. Doesn't matter if I'm going 55 mph down a quiet country road. They're not thinking about me.

They are after, all, just horny deer.

Yes, it's that season again. When the deer are out frolicking and looking to get laid.

They almost got me once. Wounded, my Firebird limped away. The Firebird, my first car, had to be put down after a deer bounded out from this very field.

Okay, maybe he didn't run out. Those deer live on the other side of the county where they kamikaze into the side of cars.

Maybe the deer just strolled across the OTHER lane to come stand in MY lane and stare at me like the dumbshit he was. He deserved to get hit. It's not like I'm fool enough to go swerving into the trees, ditches, mailboxes, and farm fields. Hit the deer dead on.

He lived. The Firebird didn't. (Okay, I have no idea if the deer had antlers or balls. It was a deer in the middle of the night and it wrecked my car. He could have had seven legs and good grills on his teeth and I wouldn't have noticed.)

Two days later, in my replacement car, I nearly hit another one. Thus the conspiracy was revealed.

They're after me.

I see them. Waiting. They're biding their time. Trying to catch me off-guard. They know that I'm hypervigilant. So they wait.

Sometimes in groups. Sometimes, oddly, alone. Sometimes they dart across the road, to see if I'm paying attention. Today one was grazing in the center median of the expressway.

They almost got me once.

It's only a matter of time before they try again.

So they wait. Along the edges of corn fields. Under the shadows of trees. In that odd gray light between daylight and nighttime. They're out there.

Visit Travis Erwin to read other folks' My Town Mondays.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Talking About You

It's all about you. People, in general love to talk about themselves. Especially if they think a listener is interested. PI's or other investigative folks can truly exploit this.

But in casual conversation, it can leave things a bit lopsided. Small talk has never been easy for me. A situation compounded by the fact that I often don't think myself very interesting. Except for my writing.

So, I'll try to ask people about themselves, what they do, etc, when in conversation. And most of the time, people are happy to talk about themselves. Though, a trend I've been observing lately, is that few people will reciprocate the questions.

"So what do you do?" I ask.
"I work at such and such company doing this or that."
"That's cool. How long have you been there?"
"Three years. Before that I was doing this other job."
"Wow, what a change..." And so the conversation goes.

Rarely does it include, "And what about you?"

Since they don't ask, I often don't tell.

I don't want to impose. Maybe I'm not very interesting to them. My life doesn't usually include car chases or explosions. It does include the occaisionally naked woman, though.

I muse-- what does this mean? My best answer is that's just part of the death of common courtesy. And a sign of the rise in selfishness.

After all, it's all about me. Well, you at least.

But I'll admit that I'm mining what you say for my writing. =)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bo Shorts

Not so short that it would show anything off it she bent over... but there's a short story over at Mysterical-E in their Fall issue.

The story is "Family Affairs of Adult Children." It comes in just under 9k, so make sure you have time to finish.

No matter how old we get, we're still our parent's kids. For better or for worse.

Sometimes it's interesting to muse over the ways my own parents have affected me-- directly, indirectly, intentionally, or perhaps even unintentionally.

One example: being late. My folks are always late-- always have been-- to everything. Now that I am in control of my own car and schedule and such, I am always early. Always.

I live about twenty minutes from the school where I teach. I leave 40 minutes before I have to get there-- incase of traffic or other such unexpected delays. Usually, I get there with twenty minutes before class starts. Better that than being late-- at least for a quiet mouse like myself.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Town Monday: Country Mouse

The delightful Patti Abbott and I paired up again-- she's the City Mouse. She actually likes living in the city... and we paired up this week to do a little City Mouse, Country Mouse post with our respecitve hometowns.

What do I love about living in the country?

I love open fields and forests. Grass between my toes. Crickets and spring peepers. I prefer wild fields and wild flowers over manicured (often too short!) lawns and sparse, sterile flower arrangements. And I like anything growing more than I like anything man made.

I love quiet. I'm a rather solitary wampa hermit crab person. I like to not see in my neighbor's windows. I like, if possible to not hear my neighbor's beyond the occiasional slam of a door or mowing of the lawn. Similarly, I'd prefer they not hear me... especially certain times.

I love wildlife. As a tree-hugger, I like to know that there are still places where bunnies, chipmunks, squirrels, birds, and even deer (stupid deer) can live and frolic in a natural-ish habitat. That they haven't completely lost their homes.

I love quiet drives down lonely two-lane highways. I love being able to safely make a left onto or off of a road without people behind me getting impatient. Especially since the rustbucket I have doesn't hardly get out of it's own way, and it's not going to do so very fast. (I need a bumper sticker that says: "If you drove this car, you wouldn't pull out either.")

I love star gazing. Even the light pollution from the little cities near me obscures too, too many stars. My trip up to Mackinaw City two years ago made that clear with the bazillions more stars that were obscured by the orange glow of my local cities.

I love that few people in the country are in a hurry. They're patient, understanding, and most of them are pretty nice. Not to mention the sense of community that comes from living together in a small area. (Not to say that it's different in the city, but it is. In the country, the community is the town, all the different people from one corner to the next who meet up in the store or the gas station. In the city, it'd be a neighborhood or a clique.)

I don't miss any of the city stuff-- like drug stores on every corner, traffic, smog, and vistas taht consist of harsh corners and man-made structures. I don't miss mile after mile of ashphalt (which also makes temperatures hotter in the summer.) I don't miss chain stores or noisy neighbors. I lived in downtown Brighton for a spell, and while it was convnient to work, that was the only advantage. Everything eles, I can do with out. I don't particularly go out much anyway. I have this thing where I get easily irritated at stupid people... it flares up a lot when I try to go to the movies or the grocery store.

Though I admit that I like being only a short drive from town. I think more than 30 minutes is too long. Luckily, in Livingston County, there's not much city, so it's possible to live in the sticks and have a job in the "city."

Sadly, my little slice of country is turning more into suburbia (which leads to city. Cities lead to suffering, to the dark side of the force. ;-) But I still think of myself as a country girl. With high speed internet of course.

Are you a Country Mouse or a City Mouse?

And don't forget to visit Travis Erwin for other My Town Monday posts!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Just Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

How disappointing. My husband's car is only 3 years old, with a massive 38,000 miles. And not only did the strut mount fail, but the car is already rusting rather dreadfully on the underside.

Now, there are a couple competing factors, but the outcome is still shock (horror) and disappointment.

1. This is Michigan. One of the Rust Belt states. And Michigan has a delightful obsession with thinking that winter time means that roads should be free from snow. So, there is continally enough salt on Michigan roads to turn black ashphalt white. This salt eats cars. It is the cancer of Michigan cars that can be held at bay for only a little while before it creeps in, slowly destroying a car from the botttom (where you can't see it!) up. My own car has terminal cancer. It has months to live, if that.

2. My husband follows directions well. If you wash your car frequently in Michigan winters, it will delay the inevitable rust. So, if it's 33 degrees, my husband is washing the car. (Me, not so much... hence the death sentence on my own car ;-)

3. My husband's car is the third Cavalier we've owned. The 90 Cavalier didn't rust too bad for some 7-8 years. And was still in good shape, rust wise, when my mechanic got tired of working on it. And the repairs were worth more than the rest of the car was worth. The 94 Cavalier didn't rust too bad until I started driving it about 3 years ago. Heh. Yeah. No lesson learned. It's like they forgot to undercoat it or something.

My cars are supposed to go 200k miles or 10 years, at least. That's the minimum. At the current Rust Rate on Hubby's car, we won't get that. It looks like my rust bucket did a few years ago.

Seems like each car we got has succumbed to rust sooner than the predessor.

It would help if people could just drive in the snow. Then there wouldn't need to be so much stalt. It's not hard if you just slow down and pay attention...oh... never mind.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I wish I could say that I've fallen into a nice routine now that the semester is nearly four weeks old.

But when I lie, I prefer to do it in more interesting and entertaining ways. Like fiction.

I can't seem to get a routine in place. I'm not behind on anything, but it feels like if I could just get into a routine, I'd have less wasted time. And more time to write. I feel like I'm running just to keep from falling behind. =/

In the meantime, I've made some progress on the current batch of revisions on the first Novel and done a couple rounds of revisions on a submitted and almost accepted short story.

I also read the 'Hell of a Woman' Anthology, which I highly recommend. Some of the stories made me want to reach into the pages and kneecap the women, but most of them featured dames who can keep their shit together. (My preference!) Over all, a good read.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Town Monday: A My Town Meme

Couple weeks back, Travis Erwin, the man behind My Town Monday, posted a Meme. I was doing my series on railroads, so I put it off. Until now. But here it is-- my My Town Meme

HOMETOWN (past, present, or future - your choice) -- Livingston County. Okay, it's a county, not a town. But having lived in Howell, Brighton, and Hamburg; student taught in Hartland; attended school in Pinckney, I can't really pick one of these towns and call it my town. So I call the county my home.

POPULATION -- 2000 census put the poplation about 156,000. The 2007 estimate was 183,000, but I'm not sure if the numbers have maintained the formerly-expected growth. Like the rest of Michigan, Livingston County was nailed in the back of the economic skull and knocked to it's knees. Houses are empty all over the places, and I have to think the population has been affected. Unfortunately, there are still too many people in Livingston County...

YOU SHOULD THINK OF MY TOWN WHEN ... you think of Bo Fexler, Patti Abbott, or Michigan beyond Detroit. Other than that, Livingston County is just another partly-rural area in a midwest state. But the coolest shaped state.

YOU SHOULD CUSS MY TOWN WHEN ... another suburban school is rocked by some stupid scandal that comes about from a combination of oblivious parents, too much money, and not enough responsibility. We're not the cause for such anation-wide stupidity, but we're just one more place in the U.S. where parents are too concerned with their SUV and McMansion payments who thought living in the "country" (Ha!) would solve the problems with their never-disciplined kids. Yea. At least it's job security for me as an alternative high school teacher. ;-)

ONE MUST SEE IF YOU VISIT -- Downtown Brighton-- visit the Imagination Station, the Tridge, and the Yum-Yum Tree.

ONE PLACE YOU SHOULD AVOID -- The Double Roundabout from Hell on Lee Road at US-23. There's nothing wrong with roundabouts in general, but this one is three double roundabouts damn near on top of each other. And too that the elistist jerks in Brighton who think that whatever direction they are going has the right of way... it gets interesting sometimes. Besides, the only thing on the other side is another stupid ass mall that replaced a lovely open field. =(

FAMOUS RESIDENT -- Edwin B. Winans, one time governor of Michigan, once upon a time ago.

RENOWNED ATHLETE -- Drew Henson. Brighton High School graduate who played University of Michigan football. Then went off to play with the Yankees. He's currently on the practice team with the Detroit Lions. (Snicker... practice squad for one of the worst teams. Wow.)

WITHOUT MY TOWN, THE WORLD WOULD NOT HAVE ... Hell. Hell Michigan is one of the locales in Michigan. So, if you didn't know, you can tell someone to "Go to Hell" without being profane. Or you can do like some of the sneaky kids around here will and say, "Go to Hell... Michigan."

I LIVE IN MY TOWN BECAUSE ... I always have. My folks moved here when I was about four (or so I'm told). I grew up in an old farmhouse between Hamburg and Pinckney. I got my first "real" job at a local chain retailer in Brighton. I worked there to pay for my expensive schooling at a local Teaching University. Then I met this guy... at the retailer where I worked. We worked together, then got an apartment together. So we stayed. Then I got a teaching job at a lcoal alternative high school, and we still stayed. Though we got exiled to our current home out past the edge of civilization. And here we are. My family is still around. His family is not far away. We'll be local yokels for life, I'm sure.

I MIGHT LEAVE ONE DAY BECAUSE ... well, I was going to say 'if I got enough money for a place on the island of Kuaii' but I think I'll always be a local yokel. I like being a 'troll' and living under the (Mackinac) Bridge. I like living in the mitten-shaped, and there for COOLEST shaped state ever. If I got enough money to have a place on Kuaii, it would only be a vacation home. But, man, that would be nice. =)

Any questions?

Don't forget to see Travis Erwin for other My Town Monday posts.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

For Potential New Fans

Bo Fexler has a few fans that I know of-- and I love every one of you! But one of the things I've been chewing over while driving back and forth to work is how to best introduce Bo to potential new fans.

She's not the most warm, loving character. And she uses sex to get what wants. There will be some people for whom this will probably be a turn off before they get past page one. For some people, the mere mention of bedroom activities is enough to put down a book. I accept that. (Fools!)

But there are others for whom the context of such naughty activities is more important. Perhaps I can get them to overlook this trait of Bo's by showing that there's more to Bo than a sexy dame who uses her body because she can.

That also started me thinking about why, exactly, Bo uses sex and in what situations. An amusing character study, especially the part during the hour I sat on I-96 while traffic came to a dead stop.

So, now I have a better understanding of why Bo does what she does. The other problem is how to introduce snippets of that, along with introducing Bo, introducing the investigation, and not bogging down in the first couple chapters of my first, as yet-unrepresented-first-novel.

I've finally come to the conclusion that there is way too fucking much to try to do in the first couple chapters. I'm not sure what can give-- character or plot. Since Bo's such a difficult character, I'm leaning towards slowing the plot at bit at the start to introduce her and show that there's something more than a sexy, manipulative woman.

Your thoughts?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bo Story

Bo's been spotted over at DZ Allen's Muzzle Flash in a little short story called "Sex Act." A little naughty fun with some handcuffs and Bo.

Check it out.

And clean up after yourself when you're done. ;-)

  • Novel #2 Progress: 20k ish
  • Query Status: holding with one partial while I make some revisions to the intro chapters for better characterization
  • Currently Writing: Novel #1 Revisions, short story "Hit Woman"
  • Current Song: Objection (tango) by Shakira

Sunday, September 14, 2008

My Town Monday: 8 Mile Road

8 Mile Road bears significance and importance in Detroit. 8 Mile is the dividing line between the city limits of Detroit and the suburbs. Eminem's movie was called 8 mile and refers to the distinction between living IN Detroit and in the suburbs. Patti Abbott has more on 8 Mile Road in Detroit.

Though, truthfully, out in Livingston County, I consider anything East of Wixom to be part of "Metro Detroit." And as such, I prefer to avoid it like a sleepover of giggly pre-teen girls.

Eight Mile Road extends west from Detroit out to the Livingston County area. Techinically it's part of Wasthenaw County.

Out here, the significance of 8 Mile road is that...

It ends. Otherwise, it's just another dirt road.

Here's the end of 8 Mile-- at Marshall. Eight Mile comes in from the left. The road curving away on the right side of the pic is Marshall. Here is the inauspicious end to 8 Mile Road.

And it meant so much in Detroit.

Not only is 8 Mile in these parts just another dirt road, it's actually a barely-traveled dirt road that's infrequently maintined.

It was so riddled with potholes that we couldn't even manage 10 miles per hour without jarring out fillings and stopping to pick up parts that would fall of the car. (Well, parts would have fallen off except we had Hubby's shiny new car not my monument to Michigan's Love of Winter Salting.)

Out in the sticks, it's always amusing to find a section of paved road in the middle of a dirt road. This section goes across a stream... which I can't find the name of at this time.

After Pontiac Trail, 8 Mile is paved and heads off to... well as far as I'm concerned it heads off into lands with dragons and such. It's not part of my personal map. That's East... towards Metro Detroit. Where roads have more than three lanes and there are... people.

According to Google Maps, 8 Mile heads off into Northville.

8 Mile is just south of the town of South Lyon. For many years there wasn't anything at 8 Mile. It was just a stop sign outside of town. But now it boasts a traffice light and stores and stuff.

I like the dirt part better. Much quieter.

This shot is waiting to turn left at Pontiac Trail. Hubby was driving as we went to go play with my bothers. I have three of them. What better thing to do when the remnants of Hurricane Ike stroll into town than go play cards.

Out here 8 Mile is just another road. And if you're heading into South Lyon, 9 or 10 Mile roads are better. So 8 Mile is a barely traveled road that few people even notice.

Funny how context matters.

Don't forget to visit Travis Erwin for more My Town Monday posts.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bait and Switch Scam

After careful observation, I have determined that dating is the advertisement for a bait-and-switch scam that is marriage.

Consider the evidence:
When dating-- participants will clean up, comb hair, brush teeth, and dress nicely (if at all possible, and be embarrased if they cannot.)
When married-- participants will roll out of bed in wrinkled sweats/ tee shirt, spend only enough time in the bathroom for bodily functions, and make excuses for why they cannot/ need not tidy up.

When dating-- participants will overlook small slights, like leaving socks on the floor or stopping to check make-up
When married-- participants will cause arguments over the socks left on the floor (slob!) or stopping to check make-up (you look fine, we're going to be late!)

When dating-- participants will exclude all other activities to be with each other, especially if they are having sex
When married-- participants will exclude each other and sex for anything else, especially if it doesn't include the partner

When dating-- participants only speak in glowing, loving terms about their partner
When married-- participants only complain about what their louse of partner has not done now.

When dating-- participants take time to build a relationship with their partner, sharing interests and activities, discussing things and just being with each other
When married-- participants can go days without spending any time together or discussing anything beyond who was supposed to cook dinner or take out the trash or who did it wrong.

My solution-- don't do anything while dating that you wouldn't be willing to do for the rest of your life. No false advertising.

No one pretends that a friendship left to wither without attention and affection will last. But a couple will live in the same house with no attention and no affection and wonder how their relationship died. Um, look, you don't water the garden, it dies.

Marriage is like a garden. With WORK, it can grow into a wonderful, beautiful thing.

That's not say that somedays the work doesn't seem more like shoveling shit than building something nice...

Okay. I got that out of my system. Now I can go back to nodding and spouting socially acceptable phrases as people around me complain about how their marriage/long term relationship is suffering.

(Me? Married 7 years, dated him for 3 before the wedding. Still in love with the guy. No bait-and-switch here, thankfully.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sales Pitch

So, I use 'The Big Sleep' in my Movies vs. Books course (an English credit.) It's an old book with unusual language and a narrator who's quirky. All reasons I love it, but consider the audience-- mostly guys who read only school books 'if they have to.' So I've got to sell this book, get them interested. It's not hard really.

My sales pitch sounds like a disclaimer: "If there's anyone who doesn't want to read a book that includes references to alochol use, drug abuse, murder, and pornography, you can let me know and I'll get you an atlernative book. There's nothing explicit, but these things are part of the book." They start reading the back of the book and flipping pages to see if they can spot the first instance of pornography.

I go on to say, "I would probably never get this book approved in a traditional high school. Again, there's nothing explicit, but there are potentially objectionable things in the story." They're already reading the first page.

Now, I wish I could hook an agent that easily.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

It Hasn't Quite Sunk in Yet

I quit my job. Sunday was my last day as a retail employee. After 11 years, it doesn't seem quite real that I will never again walk into that place with my red shirt and my namebadge (that I never wore anyway).

I still have three other jobs, plus writing, so it's not like I'm going to be bored or anything. But it just seems so weird to think that I no longer work at the retail supercenter that claimed my weekends, holidays, and sanity for eleven years.

Although I did get a Husband out of my retail job. Those supercenters-- if you look in the right spot, you can find not only milk, shoes, and goldfish, you can even find a spouse. Mine was in the Toy Department.

We were the "couple from Toys." We had quite the reputation for being super employees. And now the era has come to an end. Though truthfully, it came to an end sometime ago, when I left to teach and he left for another job. That was the fall of Rome, this is just the end of the Byzantine Empire.

We went out to eat to celebrate the end. And the beginning of sleeping in on Sunday mornings.

But it still feels weird. Like "phantom watch syndrome" I keep thinking I have to go back.

Monday, September 8, 2008

My Town Monday: Lakeland Trail & GTW Railroad

The third railroad to run through Livingston County was the Grand Trunk Western. In the 1980s, this train track was dismantled, leaving the rail bed through the county as a gravel trail. It ran through South Lyon into Hamburg and through the Pinckney/ Lakeland area and beyond.

Lakeland is no longer a place on the map, but it was a railroad station on the GTW and a resort destination on the shores of Zukey Lake.

Before the automobile, there were quite a few advertisements in the papers for excursions to Lakeland, even with special rates for those who worked on the Ann Arbor Railraod.

(Picture borrowed from michiganrailroad.com )

With this picture in mind, I set out the other day to find where this is. The railroad station is gone, and the Ann Arbor Rail (aka TSBY) sees only the infrequent train. Also, the area looks quite different in 2008 than it did in 1909 when the photo was taken.

But I set out to the Zukey Lake area.

Looking east the ashpalt in the bottom right corner is the now-paved Lakeland Trail which was constructed along the old Grand Trunk Western line. The rail line is the Ann Arbor.

Further east, the Lakeland Trail crosses the Ann Arbor rail. But the crossing is not the diagonal junction that the rails originall made. I suppose with good reason. The new crossing is perpendicular-- and all fenced in. The Ann Arbor is still a live rail line. Cross at your own risk.

(This photo is looking WEST)

Shortly past the junction, the lakeshore clears and there lies Zukey Lake. Looking quite refreshing on a beautiful summer day. No beach hear, or line of boats anymore, but I'm pretty sure this is the shore where the 1909 passengers disembarked in the above photo.

In the 1980s, this shot (again borrowed from michiganrailraods.com) shows the two railraods. The GTW was already abandoned, it was just a matter of time before the rails would be removed and the line left as a gravel trail.

This is that same crossing in 2008-- if you look closly at the rear of picture you can see where the metal fencing stops. That's where the the Lakeland Trail crosses the AA line.

I'm standing (to take the picture) roughly where the Lakeland Trail veers off from the original GTW railbed. The line would likely have continued straight from where I'm standing, diagonally intersecting the AA rail.

Originally, the GTW and AA rail did not have seperate lines in Lakeland (as that junction was eventually called.) The AA line actually came up to the GTW line near Lakeland and joined with that rail for several miles before breaking off to head north. Then, as rail traffic increased, a separate line was created with the crossing shown in the photos.

For most of my life the "Lakeland Trail" was really just an unofficial thing, with a handful of people who traveled the old railroad bed.

Most of it was just partially overgrown gravel. It's curious to me that in twenty years, grass has still not completely overtaken the trail.

This spot here is where the trail crossed M-36, a two-lane thorough fare that is quite hazzardous most of the day.

From what I can tell, the project came about around 2005 with the trail being paved starting at near the township offices in Hamburg and continuing across Hamburg Township and into the town of Pinckney.

At some point the trail reverts to gravel. I didn't walk/bike/ navigate the trail... I make no excuses-- I just never have.

But I do know that when you get out to the abandoned Pinckney depot, the trail is gravel again.

This shot is taken looking East along the trail. The trail continues west at least through the tiny town of Stockbridge, and perhaps on for ever.

Along the way, the GTW/ Lakeland trail cross M-36. When the Trail was made into a linear state park, some foresight actually went into dealing with the problem of crossing M-36. A tunnel was built under M-36.

Which is also important because near that tunnel is Cap'n Frosty, our local ice cream shop. Last time I went there (gosh, I think I was still just dating my hubby...) they had the biggest ice cream scoops I have ever seen. The one scoop ice cream was the equivalent of a three scoop anywhere else. Don't ask about the three scoop...

While I was out taking pictures, there was a(n all-too familiar) hoot. And a chug-chug.

A train came rolling on down the AA rail line. Some of the cars even had the letters TSBY (Tuscola Saginaw Bay) printed on the side.

That was too cool.

Even if there was no caboose... trains should have cabooses.

Hubby doesn't understand why I think trains are cool... because the rest of the time I'm bitching about how I will never, ever so-help-me live next to a railraod crossing again. I maintain that trains are cool so long as I'm not living next to them. And besides the AA railroad engineers aren't nearly as obnoxious as the CSX ones are at railraod crossings.