Headphones was an experiment, a story written in "snapshots", a serial, a comic in word form-- call it what you will. It ran for one year plus one day-- January 1st of 2015 to January 1st of 2016. It was the story of a group of friends who took in a damaged girl and helped her find herself. But on the way, she helped them fill the holes in their own lives. I've pulled it now with the hopes of rewriting it into a book. Each day was matched with a music video and each month's mixes are still here. So if you've stumbled in, enjoy the music, and hopefully I'll be able to post updates occasionally!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Not much to report this week. Still editing. Having a very hard time staying focused, but I think I'm getting close to being done with Blind Ante. I've done some editing on Embers and Flame, also. I went ahead and got into that bit that was messed up in the middle. It wasn't as bad as I thought. A few paragraph revisions and I think it's back on track. Fingers crossed, I'll have them both ready for beta readers by the end of the month. Then the challenge will simply be finding them!

Excerpt from Blind Ante, Chapter 8--
Jordan woke with his nose buried in a sandalwood scented pillow and he moaned in pleasure as he inhaled deeply. It was such a comfortable smell and he rubbed his face into the cotton. His alarm clock was beeping, but it was far away and he considered closing his eyes and ignoring it. He drifted in the scent and the warmth of the body with an arm thrown over his back as he came more fully awake. It was too dark to see who was next to him, but the memory of his first few nights assured him he was at least in the trailer. Flashes of Reese coming into his room and leading him here was little more than an extension of his nightmares. Except there was no violence or fire or rejection.
The alarm kept beeping and Jordan moved slowly, pushing at Reese until he rolled away and snuggled under the blanket without opening his eyes. But he froze when the alarm went quiet and what sounded like muttered cursing accompanied footsteps down the hall, coming towards them.
“Reese! Wake up. The alarm in Roger’s room was going off.”
Jordan looked up to see the shadowed form of a woman standing in the doorway. He couldn’t tell in the dark, but she sounded amused. “Hi. I’m Rain. Was that alarm set for you?”
All he could choke out was “uh, yeah” but he didn’t need to say more as Reese finally woke up. “Rain? What the fuck you doing here?” he asked as he sat up, rubbing at his eyes as he tried to focus and make sense of all the noise. Jordan sunk back down into the mattress and would have pulled the blanket over his head if he could’ve gotten away with it.
“Now, big brother, watch your language. A lady's present!” Reese scoffed. “Hey! I am! Anyway, Mom’s having fits, so she sent me.”
“Fits? She sent you in the middle of the night? Why?”
“Because you kicked Roger out and moved your new boyfriend in.”
Jordan sat up and sputtered, “I’m not his boyfriend,” at the same time as Reese yelled, “As if.”
The overhead light came on when Rain found the switch. She crossed her arms and looked back and forth between the two on the bed with one thin eyebrow raised. “Oh, yeah? Could’a fooled me. And when did you trade muff for ass, anyway?” Reese didn’t say anything but he gave her a ‘what the hell?’ look and she giggled. “What, you think your little sister doesn’t know things?”
Reese covered his face with his hands and took a deep breath. “Sister, dear, go start a pot of coffee. I’ll join you in a minute.”
“What? You don’t want me watching while you give your honey a good morning kiss?” She laughed when Jordan blushed.
“Rain! Go!”
“I’m going, I’m going,” she said as she raised her hands in surrender and turned away.
She sang as she moved towards the other end of the house, entirely too cheerful for someone who’d surely only had a few hours of sleep. “What’s going on?” Jordan asked Reese. He was going to be late for work if he didn't get up, but he was feeling shaky so he stayed where he was and watched as Reese pulled a pair of track pants on over the boxers he wore to sleep in.
“Don’t know,” he admitted, “but don’t worry about it. Mom’s got some wild hair up her butt and sent Rain to snoop. She figures I’ll be more open with my sister than I will with her.”

Monday, October 9, 2017

Fourth Quarter Goals

I didn't update last week simply because I've been editing and really, there isn't much to update when editing. The plan this week is to finish the edit on Blind Ante and then find some willing Beta readers. I really had hoped to be done by Wednesday, but considering I'm only to page 13, this might be moving slower than I'd hoped. Major sigh. But it is moving, so I do have that thought to comfort me, I suppose! The plan (at this point) is to finish this, then hit Embers and Flame really hard. There's a bit in the middle that's messed up and I'll probably have to completely rewrite it. Another major sigh.

I spent this morning organizing Headphones (pictured above). The outline is by month, so that's how I'm going to work the revision. It's going to be my NaNo challenge next month, so whatever doesn't get finished this month will get set aside for 30 days. I'm staying zen about it, though. I'm having one of my more positive moments, even though I really miss doing any original writing. My solution to that is to let the characters in my next saga develop and grow in my head. I'll probably start taking notes soon, but for now, they're all nothing more than figments! Hopefully, by next summer, you will all meet Trent and Spenser.

And in between it all, I want to create a website by the end of the year. My art teacher told me once that I always picked the most complicated things to do. She might have been right!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Weekly Update

My Headphones revision didn't get very far this week because I decided to concentrate on editing. I kind of worked on three manuscripts, but gave most of my attention to Like Cracks In The Sidewalk. It's the darkest thing I've written, considering most of my stories are lighter, slightly angsty, feel-good reads. I'm going to give it one more read-through and then start submitting it around.

Here's one of the darker passages--if not the darkest. Warning: violence and NSFW

I was shouting and couldn’t stop myself. “I’m not the one out all night, coming in at dawn! Where do you go after your gigs, if you aren’t pulling? Am I supposed to just wait around, be your fuckboy? That’s what Susan called me, that first day I met her!”
Val didn’t reply with words; instead, he punched me in the ribs. The blow wasn’t hard. We were standing too close for him to get any power behind the punch. He wheeled back against the wall when I slapped him across the face. Val took a deep breath in his shock and roared as he gathered himself and ran at me. But he was smaller and quite simply clumsy with the drugs, and I shoved him back against the wall with one hand around his throat, the other in the center of his chest. His head hit the solid plaster and Val stood stunned for a moment, long enough for me to notice the bulge straining against his jeans and I swung him around, one arm wound around his chest to hold him while the other traveled down to cup him, pressing between his legs. Val jumped as I tightened my hand and he squirmed, trying to get away when my answering hardness pressed into his back. “Let go of me!”
“No. This’s what you want, isn’t it?” I was still shouting at him as I pushed him towards the bedroom. A part of me was yelling “stop!” but I was beyond reason, the anger and the worry and the bitterness finally all coalescing into one smoldering hot lump of coal burning in my brain, turning my vision red until the world had tunneled down to that moment. The only thing I was aware of was the writhing body in front of me. The only thing I could hear was our combined raspy breaths and Val’s mumbled curses as he fought against my restraining hands.
I fumbled with Val’s button and zipper and pulled his pants off as I shoved him onto his knees with his ass in the air, somehow opening my own pants and freeing my own erection even as I wrestled to hold him down. I shouldn’t have been able to, not in the state I was in, but he wasn’t really fighting me. I think to him, it was a game. I want to believe I’m the kind of man who would’ve stopped if he’d said no. But he didn’t. He never said the word.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday Update

Headphones on paper.Now to pull it all together and make something cohesive out of it! 

After much consideration on where to start, this is my opening page: 

Chapter 1—what the cold brought in

January 2015
Reaching over the bar easily with his long arms, the lanky man helped himself to the tap, topping off his beer as he looked out at the floor. One more set and the band was calling it quits. They were two weeks away yet from the beginning of spring semester. That, combined with the colder than normal temperature, meant a quiet crowd. He chuckled to himself when he spied the local Priest and Rabbi visiting at the back table, glasses of wine in hand. Another sure sign of a slow night! A rush of cold air on his neck announced someone making a late night entrance and he turned his shaggy head towards the door.
A young woman, surely not far out of her teens, made her way to the nearest table. Pulling her gloveless hands out of her pockets, she rubbed them together. She looked oddly padded and when she pulled the zipper down he could see a thinner coat under the heavy parka. She pushed the hood back, uncovering a pair of headphones strapped across her head, barely visible in her wild hair. Not modern slim and streamlined headphones; no, they were the big bulky kind that had been popular in the ‘70s. There was no sign of a boombox or walkman, just a dangling cable with a heavy metal connecter swinging in front of her as she bowed her head and stared at her hands.
The battered state of her clothing, what he could see, anyway, hinted that she’d been living rough. He wondered if the headphones were meant to keep her ears warm. That inner voice that liked to whisper people’s secrets to him told him he wasn’t even close, that things weren’t that simple. Still, he put the questions aside for the moment.
Because of the small crowd, Richard had sent most of the help home an hour earlier. With the one remaining waitress busy with the last few patrons, the man sauntered over to the girl. She peeked up at him through her bangs when he greeted her. “’Evening. Can I get you something to drink? Or maybe something to eat?” Her eyes widened as she shook her head no. Just as he suspected, then. She’d come in merely to get out of the cold. Still, he could feel her hunger. “How about I buy you a burger, maybe some fries?” Desire washed over her face, and yet her reluctance to accept was plain to see.
“Coming right up, then.” He didn’t ask her name. With that extra sense that absorbed other people’s pain and pleasure--some defining bit of character that his friends told him was more than empathy--he knew she wasn’t going to tell him. At the window to the kitchen, he put in a double order, one for her, one for himself, and snagged his beer and a Coke for her from the cooler as he rounded the end of the bar. He sat down and slid the soda across the table. She reached timidly for it, her head still tucked down as she watched him, careful to not look him in the eye. The slight hunger cramps he could feel from her were compounded by her leeriness. He didn’t blame her; if she’d been living on the street, she probably had good reason to distrust a strange man.
“Food will be up in a minute. By the way, I’m Lenny. I’m with the band,” he said as he gestured to the stage and its equipment.
She lifted her head to study the man that sat on a stool, bent over his guitar as he worked out the fingering of a song only he could hear, but before she could get a good look at him, slim fingers with painted nails clunked stoneware plates onto the table, knocking some of the fries off the edge. She glanced over as the man took the seat next to her. He retrieved the strays and winked as he stuffed them into his mouth. Dark hair hung loosely around his shoulders and eyeliner framed wide eyes, while a tight tee enhanced his flat chest. With a smooth voice that he directed at Lenny, he nodded up towards the stage. “Richard and Mick decided to call it early. Mick wants to take a few minutes to run through the new songs and then we can skip practice tomorrow night.”
“Cool,” Lenny said around a mouthful of burger. He shook a couple of fries towards the young man. “This satin-haired sex-on-a-stick is Jay Montgomery.” He chuckled at his own words when Jay grimaced at him, but then continued. “He’s our keyboardist. Came all the way from California to join our little group.”
Jay snagged a few more of the girl’s fries and stuck them in his mouth. “Don’t believe him.” The words were garbled as he chewed, and he swallowed to clear his throat. “I ended up in this collegiate hell because my girlfriend got a gig that she thought was going to make her famous.”
Lenny cocked an eyebrow at the man. “You didn’t have to stay here after you broke up.”
“What can I say? Ohio grew on me! Besides, you needed my youthfulness to bring a fresh perspective to your set list.” Jay let the side of his mouth slip upward as his blue eyes sparkled, even in the dim light of the bar.
The girl lost track of the verbal sparring that passed between the two band members when the man on the stage finally looked up and surveyed the room. It was only a moment, and then his chin dipped as he concentrated on the cords he was trying to work out, but it had been enough for her to see he was older, probably mid-thirties. Neither man noticed when she dropped the uneaten half of her sandwich back onto her plate with her mouth gaping open. Without a word, she stumbled from her chair and made her way to the stage, trying to keep out of the man’s peripheral vision. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Opinions and Comments Sought

              I have a question about flashbacks. Some time back I read a thread on Twitter that discussed the topic and up until then, I hadn't really thought about it. Some had no problem with it, some weren't fans. I read Spark by Posy Roberts last year and thought the use of flashbacks was quite effective.
             When I originally wrote Headphones I used flashbacks rather liberally since each day of the story was meant to represent that day and it felt like a way to stay within that format and yet give the readers enough background to understand the characters. Now that I'm doing the rewrite (finally!) I'm wondering how to fit them in. I'm inclined to leave them; otherwise, I'm afraid there will be too much narrative and quite often, the information is for the reader, not for the other characters. 
              For example, when Headphones asks Mick if he and Joey had been lovers, his answer is short. Basically, he tells her no, that they had been more like brothers. It's not completely true, and he thinks about it but doesn't say it to her. Instead of doing an 'inner monologue' I did a flashback. 

            The party had gotten out of hand, but that had become normal whenever Joey was involved. It was 1999 and if you could believe the tabloids, the world was going to end soon, and that was a good enough excuse for Joey, as if he ever really needed one. “This is it, mate! Going out with a bang!” he had laughed as he rubbed his whizz-covered finger over his gums, and then smiled like a maniac, his eyes lighting up as the drugs hit his system.
            Micky had shaken his head sideways at Joey’s antics, but took the offered bag of powder and stuck his finger in. He wasn’t as big a fan of speed as his best friend was; he usually preferred the giggly lightness that he got from pot, but it was Joey’s birthday, after all. The night had swirled out of control after that. The party grew as the night slid by, countless old and new-found friends somehow crowded into their suite, churning to the music, pressing their bodies together and making silent promises for the early morning hours.
           At some point during the night, a cake had appeared. Micky didn’t remember eating any of it, but parts of his body were sticky with crumbs and what he suspicioned was more than just icing. He should have felt bad that he couldn’t put a face with the activity, but he sincerely hoped it had been one of the females draped across the bed as he chose to ignore the icing spread across Joey’s face, simply because by the shambles of the room, it appeared that very little had made it onto plates. It was bad enough that his face felt tight and he wiped crumbs from around his mouth, sweetness flooding across his tongue as he licked his lips. Joey had awakened then and stretched like a cat, unaware of his nakedness and morning wood, or simply uncaring. 
            “Gore, my head!” he'd said but smiled at the same time. “Cheers, mate. That was genius!”
            Micky had found a pair of pants by then and pulled them on, not caring who they belonged to. He hoped no one was bunked out in the bathroom. He really needed a slash and a shower. Hopefully, hot steam would clear his sinuses. He'd been afraid if he snuffled he’d get a kick from any residual powder still lurking in his nostrils. It had happened before and he didn’t really feel up to it right at the moment, although it might have cured his headache. “Surprised we’re both still alive.”
            Joey had laughed as he turned over on his side and reached for the nearest body, running his hand over her ass and between her thighs, which had elicited a small moan and giggle from her. She rolled off her stomach, pressing her full butt against his erection. “Micky, love, don’t ‘cha know we’re going to live forever?” 

         Hmm, maybe I just answered my own question. I think I should leave them in, italics and all, even though I read one Publisher's specs and they specified no italics. Considered I'll probably self-publish if this is actually going to ever see the light of day, I guess I need not worry!
          Opinions and comments, please!