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, July 24, 2017

That Moment When Everything Changes

This last week went much better at 6311 words. I'm not sure if it was because it was too hot to be outside much, or if I just made some decisions about the plot line. Like normal, it always hits me just as I go to bed, so I make barely legible scratches on my note pad and try to figure it out the next morning! Since I kept my CampNaNo goal low this time, I should easily make it within the next day or two. I had thought about setting it aside after I hit goal and start editing Embers And Flame, but I think since I've got this one in my head fairly firmly now, I'm going to try and finish it. Then I'll probably stay away from anything original for the rest of the year and work on sentence by sentence edits of my small collection, plus the Headphones rewrites. I keep pushing that one aside, and I really want to dive back into it. With any luck, by the end of the year, I'll have 4 stand-alones and a 3-book series to start seriously querying. Fingers crossed!

This week's excerpt:
Jordan’s Ford was the only vehicle in the lot and Reese went around to the east side of the building, to the employee entrance. He was prepared to knock but there was no need. Jordan was leaning against the building, smoking a cigarette. He shifted his body forward in alarm until he lifted his eyebrows in recognition and surprise, but didn’t say anything as he held the pack out. Reese shook his head no and he shoved it back into his jeans pocket. Neither spoke for several minutes, but Reese finally cleared his throat and broke the stillness with a low “sorry”.
Jordan gave out a muffled chuckle. “Bro, you ain’t got nothing to be sorry for. You just caught me way off guard. I never even suspected.” He paused as his thoughts drifted. “Or was Matt just an anomaly? A little bi-curious romp?”
“No. Me and Matt go way back. He calls when he’s in the area.”
“So you two are a regular thing?”
There was no visible stiffening of Jordan’s body or jerkiness in his hands to hint that he was uncomfortable, but there was a certain tightness around his eyes and mouth that made Reese think maybe he was. “I wouldn’t call it that. I met him at a club in Indianapolis about ten years ago. He lives in California now but comes back to visit his folks. We get together once or twice a year.”
Jordan dropped the butt of his cigarette and ground it into the cement. “So, what? You’re bi? Not that it’s any of my business.”
Reese shrugged. “Don’t know. Never really thought about it. I mean, everyone has dangly bits. Some just have ‘em above the waist and some have ‘em below. If I like someone, that doesn’t stop me from spending time with them.”
Jordan lit another cigarette, but Reese thought it was because he needed something to do with his hands more than a need for nicotine. The sun was only beginning to break over the horizon and the flame from the lighter illuminated Jordan’s face in the shadows. Reese had the same sensation as yesterday, noticing the little things that he’d never before. After a month, the kid still hadn’t cut his pale blonde hair and it was pulled into a short knot at the back of his head, instead of hanging in his face like normal. His eyebrows and eyelashes were dark in contrast and what Reese had thought were earrings were actually small gauges. Standing this close together, he could see a thin scar dissecting one of those dark eyebrows. Jordan slouched as he leaned against the wall and he was again the diminutive boy that Reese usually saw, as if he were purposely making himself smaller. Younger.
Unnoticeable.
He wanted the man to look back up at him and he reached out, but instead of lifting his chin, he brushed his hand against Jordan’s as he pulled the lit cigarette from between his fingers. He put it to his mouth and drew deeply, letting the smoke fill his lungs, making him dizzy. Jordan watched with wide eyes, his gaze glued to Reese’s mouth as he pursed his lips and let the smoke escape. There was a tremor in his hand when Reese handed the Camel back to him but his voice remained steady as he quipped, “You can have a whole one to yourself. I offered, after all.”
“No, that was all I wanted.” The sun had come up enough to turn the whiteness of Jordan’s apron and the paleness of his skin and hair into a blinding gold and Reese felt a tightness in his chest. A thousand thoughts bounced around in his head, some of which tried to compare how Jordan would look naked compared to Matt, and he knew it was nothing more than the echo his body still felt from the hours past, and he did his best to squash it down, put it away as a bad idea. Still, he couldn’t help the flirting tone of his voice. “At least for now.”
Jordan lurched violently, knocking his head on the wood siding behind him and Reese would have laughed, except his reaction went way beyond anything that he’d expected. He had a sudden urge to push the kid against that wall and see what other response he could get but even as his brain was trying to override his body’s instincts with a “warning, warning” alert, a buzzer went off inside and Jordan slipped towards the door.
“Biscuits,” he croaked out in a cracked whisper. “Biscuits are done. Gotta go.” 
The door slammed behind Jordan when he gave it a back flip of his hand as he passed it. Reese stared at it, even going so far as reaching for the doorknob and giving it a slow turn to see if it was locked. It wasn’t. It would be easy to slip inside, demand more answers, except he wasn’t even sure what the questions were. He backed away and with a determined step, headed back to his truck. He needed to take a ride and clear his head.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Weekly Update--CampNaNo

At 3527 my word count was better than I expected, considering I had company all week. I guess the fact that I took time off work and spent time with my laptop while she was still in bed really helped! Anyway, my CampNaNo project is progressing. I'm really thinking this is going to be Novella with a 40K word goal, but considering I started it with the vaguest idea of a plot and no outline, who knows where it's going to go! At this point, I'm trying to assert that Jordan is a bit of a lost boy/punk and Reese is an all around good guy.

This week's excerpt:
Reese ran through the last strip of unmowed grass just as Jordan pulled up. With any luck, the nights would stay cool and it wouldn’t need to be mowed again. He watched as the car pulled up on the gravel drive and in the light of day, he could see that the old Ford had been well cared for, but the door squealed as it was opened and he doubted even a shot of WD40 was going to help. He pushed the mower into the shed and waited until Jordan joined him.
“Hey,” the young man said. He was clearly uncomfortable as he shuffled from one foot to the other, holding onto one elbow while he let the other arm hang loose, his fist clenching and unclenching.
“Hey,” Reese replied in acknowledgment and then waited until Jordan said something.
“So, the thing is, I don’t know if that piece of paper is legal or not, but I need a place to stay. I’ve got a job lined up and can cover my expenses. Hell, I’ll pay some rent if you want.”
Reese had a feeling that Jordan wasn’t the type to beg and even this little bit was taking everything he had to say it. “Well, I’ve been thinking about it, too. Tell ya what, I’m only here half the time, anyway. So, let’s give it a month, see if we can stand each other. I’m sure you’ve got to be a better roommate than Roger. Especially if you’ve already managed to find a job. I’m mildly impressed.” He grinned as he said it.
“It’s not much. Breakfast cook at Tammy’s Diner. You know the place?”
“It’s a small town, so yes,” he said with a nod. “And I am, I’m impressed. There aren’t many jobs around and you managed to pick one up in...well, I don’t know. How long have you been living in my house, anyway?”
“Four days?” It came out sounding like a question and Reese laughed. Jordan’s face hardened. “Four days,” he stated. “And I suppose I just got lucky. I ate at the diner the first day I was here and made friends with the waitress.”
“Miranda?” Jordan looked at Reese questioningly and he smirked. “Remember? Small town. Everyone knows everyone. So, you made friends with Miranda, huh?” He looked Jordan up and down. “You’re not her usual type, but I guess I can see it.”
“See what?” he asked darkly, his throat dropping an octave.
Reese raised an eyebrow at his tone. “You’re kind of cute. Too skinny, but some girls like that. Just keep the noise down when you two get busy. I’ve been told that the walls are thin.”
Jordan walked away from his mocking laughter. He ought to tell Reese not to worry, that he wasn’t going to get busy with her, or any other girl, for that matter. But his sex life really wasn’t Reese’s business. He doubted he was going to find anyone he wanted to bed in this backwoods, anyway. If he did, he’d cross that bridge when he came to it. His main goal for the rest of the day was to get Roger’s...no, make that his... bedroom habitable. There was a broken spring in that couch that had poked him in the back all night. He already missed Reese’s bed, the firmness of the mattress, the smell of sandalwood that permeated the pillow. For just a brief moment, he wondered if that was how Reese smelled. Sandalwood and sweat.
With a shake of his head, he let that line of thought drop. He wanted to stay here. Absolutely no perving on his hot--straight--roommate. That little slip in the shower last night had been an anomaly resulting from the noises echoing down the hall. It wasn’t going to happen again. He’d just have to find some other jerk-off material. Hopefully, the bedroom door would work as a sound barrier. That was, if Reese made a habit of bringing women home.
Now that he was thinking about it, the words came uncontrolled out of his mouth as Reese followed him back into the trailer. “So, if Laurie isn’t your girlfriend, do you have one?”
“No,”  Reese said without expanding his monosyllabic answer. He pulled a beer out of the fridge and popped the top. He tipped his head back and drank half the can in noisy gulps. Jordan watched his Adam’s apple bob with each swallow and turned quickly before Reese noticed the effect the simple movement had on him.
“A bit early for beer, isn’t it.”
“Mowing, dude. I always need a beer to cut the dirt out of my throat. Why, you got a problem with it?”
“Not really,” he admitted. “Just, my old man’s an alcoholic, so I guess I notice things like morning drinking.”
‘Oh, that sucks. But no, I don’t normally drink in the morning. Actually, I don’t drink much. Which is kind of funny.”
“Funny, how?”
“I bartend at The Prickly Pear.”
Jordan barked out a laugh. “Where?”
‘What, you think it’s funny that I bartend?”
“Not that,” he choked out. “Do the people around here even know what a prickly pear is? I mean, they aren’t exactly native around here!”
“The owner’s from Arizona.”
Jordan’s interest perked up. “Do you work for your Dad?”
Reese jerked back and his dark eyebrows drew together in irritation. “Why the hell would you think that?”
“Sorry! But you said Arizona and if you’ll remember, I’ve met your brother. The two of you look nothing alike.” He let his eyes travel over the man, scrutinizing his tall form. “I spent time out west and you could’ve walked right off the reservation. I don’t mean that as an insult. The level of hotness--” He stopped talking abruptly when he realized what he was about to say.
Reese gave him a cocky wink and his lips curled at the edges. “Does that mean you think I’m hot?”
Best to change the subject, Reese thought. “Bartender, huh? Except you’ve been gone. What, are you a traveling bartender?”
Reese did full-out laugh, then. “Kind of. I work in Vegas during the summer months. Friend of Mom’s owns a casino. The money’s good enough I could probably live off it during the winter, but I’d get bored. So I pick up a few shifts. I’m working tonight. You should come.”
Jordan had tensed up after his near slip, but he relaxed as Reese turned away, apparently willing to ignore the slip. Or maybe he didn’t catch it. No such luck, though, as he walked away and spoke to Jordan over his shoulder. “I never knew my dad, but Mom was hanging out on the reservation in Oklahoma when she got pregnant with me. And quit looking at my butt.”

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

July CampNaNo Diary

    Camp is well under way. This is something different for me, going into writing something after only thinking about it for a week. Usually, I give myself months to develop the characters and let the story grow before I start typing, but this one is happening in a whole different way. I'm letting it happen as I type, except I'm seeing flashes of what's coming and I'm taking lots of notes. Unfortunately, my writing time is limited for at least another week because of Real Life. I'm tracking okay, but I purposely kept my Camp goal low for that very reason. I'm definitely feeling more of a connection with Reese and Jordan than I did Cherry and Ben, and I still wonder if it's because I did it in dual 1st person. I really felt like it bogged me down. This one is dual 3rd person and it's moving smoother. Anyway, I'm tracking and last week's word count was 3585 (still not where I would like it to be, but I'll get there!)
 
Excerpt from this weeks work:
Reese studied the man on his couch. He was sleeping on his side, rolled up with his knees practically to his chest with a crocheted lap blanket tucked up over his shoulders. He wondered why he was camped out here instead of in Roger’s bedroom. He would have thought a bed would be more comfortable than that old broken down couch. On second thought, considering his brother’s idea of housework, maybe it wasn’t so surprising.
Still, coming home after being in California for the last six months to find a stranger who looked exactly like the annoying surfer boys that had swarmed Santa Barbara had been the cherry on top of an exhausting day of airplanes and airports and moody TSA agents.  No, he took that back. It was a close second to Laurie showing up uninvited. He should have kicked her out, but the moment her hand found his zipper, he was gone. She really was rather talented.
Jordan’ tan and sun-bleached hair suggested he spent his days outside. But he didn’t have the muscle definition that he’d noticed with the surfers. Reese had the feeling there was an interesting story asleep on his couch, but the only one he cared about at the moment was the how and why the kid was here. Knowing Roger, there was a good chance it wasn’t legal. Roger might be the oldest by 14 months, but somehow Reese had always been the responsible one. “Rise and shine, pretty boy, we gotta talk.” Goldilocks last night and pretty boy this morning? It was beginning to feel like a theme. He’d need to watch that.
Jordan woke a second time to find Reese standing over him. “Is your girlfriend gone?” he asked as he looked towards the hallway.
“She’s not my girlfriend. And yes, she’d gone.”
Jordan sat up and arched his back with his arms over his head as he stretched, giving a small twist to pop his back. His shirt rode up to show a concave belly and a surprising amount of lower stomach fuzz. He pushed hair that might have been a neat undercut at one time, but now was just a mess, out of his face in an unconscious gesture. “Sure sounded like it,” he smirked. When Reese drew back with a scowl, Jordan blushed. “I wasn’t trying to listen, bro, but the walls here are thin, and that bitch was loud.”
“Hey, show Laurie some respect.”
“What? You said she isn’t your girlfriend.”
“Don’t care, she’s still a person,” Reese growled threateningly.
“Yeah, whatever. I need coffee. And then I need to go to town.”
Reese stood with his hands on his hips as he watched the young man move around the kitchen, rattling on about Tammy’s Diner as he started the coffee and dug around in the refrigerator for bread and margarine. “Toast?” he asked as he held the loaf up.
“I don’t need you to make me breakfast. I need to know what you’re doing in my house. What the fuck has my big brother done now?”
“Yeah. So, I was playing cards with Roger.” Jordan took a sip from his mug and sighed in appreciation of the bitter brew and then turned his attention back to the broad-shouldered man glaring at him. His voice grew sharp as he simply stated, “He lost.”

Monday, July 3, 2017

Opinions Welcome

New project! I usually don't start a new story until I have a good idea of who, what, why--the first pages are usually fairly solid in my mind before I start plotting.  For my July CampNaNo challenge, I'm basically putting together an outline. No first page! I wrote the first couple of pages, but they feel like a prologue.  I prefer to start stories with some kind of action or dialogue so I jumped in a few days after Jordan gets his first look at the trailer. How about some opinions, please. Start in New Orleans as Chapter 1 or a prologue, or start when Jordan meets Reese and then use narrative throughout the story to explain how and why he's there?




1/

Jordan grinned as he laid his cards on the table. Full house against a trio of Aces. Now to collect his winnings and get the hell out of this dark cave of a bar. The zydeco was giving him a headache and his nose burned from the cigar smoke that the other players were blowing his way. He watched as the guy sitting next to him pulled the piece of paper from the middle of the table and signed his name, grumbling as he scribbled. The background noise assaulted Jordan’s ears, making it impossible to hear what the man was saying, something about his brother, and then he chuckled as he looked squarely at Jordan and passed the paper over. “Tell Reese I said hi!” He stood up and staggered towards the restroom, leaving Jordan alone with the squinted stares of the other players. Yup, time to leave.
His steps remained even and measured, even though every crunching step on the gravel had his heart beating so hard it felt like his brain was about to explode out of his ears. He fought the urge to run and made it to his car without anyone grabbing him by the shoulder and jerking him back into the building to accuse him of cheating.  An especially good thing since he couldn’t deny it. He was good with numbers, and who could blame him for taking advantage of it. He hit the locks and pulled a bent Camel from the scrunched pack he found in the debris covering the passenger seat. That first draw of nicotine and tar hit his lungs and he felt his entire body relax, starting as a tingle at the back of his scalp and flowing all the way to his toes. Who knew toes could be tense.
He stuck the key into the ignition and cranked it, hoping this wasn’t the day the old Crown Victoria decided 30 years was long enough and that it was time to ascend to that golden scrap yard in the sky. Please, God, don’t let it be today. A sigh of relief rumbled at the back of his throat: the start was a bit rough, but she caught and purred with only the occasional cough. With the cigarette dangling from his lips and the smoke swirling around his face, making his eyes water, he fumbled in the inner pocket of his jacket for the piece of paper he’d folded and tucked over his heart. Flipping on the overhead light, he spread the crumpled sheet flat on his steering wheel and read it twice.
“Illinois. Closer to Kansas than I want to be, but it’s time to leave New Orleans, anyway, I think,” he said aloud to to the purple-flocked cow sitting on his dashboard as he looked at the deed to the 5 acres he now owned. The man said there was a trailer there, too. He’d check it out. The GPS on his phone said it was a nine-hour drive. He was past tired, but he’d hit too many little bars in the area, won too much money. It was time to move on. He would have left earlier, but the redneck had gotten obnoxious and mouthy and Jordan had risen to the bait. The stress of living out of his car for the last year and a half had gotten old. A place to hole up for awhile sounded too good to pass up. He didn’t even know if it was legal, but Roger Daniels’ signature was clear and it looked official. Good enough for now, he thought.



***

2/ 
When artificial light turned the inside his eyelids orange, Jordan buried his head into the pillow and pulled the blanket up over his head. He turned over onto his back and tried to focus when a deep voice pulled him further from his sleep.
“Hey, Goldilocks, Papa Bear’s home and wondering why you’re sleeping in his bed.”
He squinted as the brightness blinded him. A figure was bent over him, blocking some of the glare from the overhead fixture. All Jordan saw was the outline of the man’s head and shoulders.
“Goldilocks?” Jordan blinked his eyes and rubbed the grit out of the corners with his finger tips. “You’re bed?”
His eyes finally focused, and oh, fuck, he was having a wet dream. It had to be that, because he’d never seen anyone that checked every box on his list. A thick braid of black hair swung over his shoulder. Thick eyebrows enhanced almond shaped eyes. His high cheekbones were a perfect frame for his wide, straight nose and his full lips. Jordan bet there was a body to match under that leather jacket and he pulled the blanket up over his head, hoping the dream didn’t fade before he got to the good part.
The blanket was pulled back away from him and he yelped. “What?”
“Excuse me, but what’s you name and why are you in my bed?” Jordan almost thought he was amused. Almost.
“Who are you?”
“I asked first.”
Okay, he definitely wasn’t amused. “Jordan.” He sat up and heaped the blanket around his waist, attempting to hide the holey boxers he’d fallen asleep in. “Ah, I’m Jordan Hatfield. And you’re...?”
“Reese.”
Reese? Where’d he heard that name before? Oh, yeah! “Hey, Roger says Hi,” he said with a grin.
Reese didn’t grin back and Jordan let the smile fall as he found his arm trapped in a vice-like grip.
“Get out of my bed,” Reese hissed.
“What the fuck, man?” he said as he tried to free himself. “I don’t know what’s crawled up your butt, but Roger…” Jordan paused. Maybe the truth wasn’t the best option at the minute. “He sold me the trailer. I’ve got the deed to prove it. So, it’s my trailer, my bedroom, and my bed!”
Reese released Jordan and stepped back. His jaw worked as his face flushed. “My brother did what?” He rested his big hands on his hips and looked at Jordan as if he were accusing him of something.
“You’re brother? You sure don’t look anything alike.” He relaxed against the headboard as he looked at Reese and tried to picture Roger. Nope, nothing. Roger’s hair had been light and curly, his face rounder, as was his figure. He had to be a good 5 or 6 inches shorter and his eyes had been round over a down-right pert nose.
“Half-brothers. Mom was a slag. And Roger’s a deadbeat.”
Jordan’s eyes almost popped out of his head. “Wow! I’ll bet your family reunions are a blast! Any other siblings I should be watching out for?”
“Another brother and two sisters,” he said absentmindedly as Jordan pointed towards the pile of clothing on the floor.
Reese picked up a pair of tattered jeans and tossed them to Jordan. “Kid, I’m tired. Go sleep in the other room.” It hadn’t been quite as obvious as Jordan sat in the mound of blankets, but as he slipped off the mattress, Reese could see the young man was too skinny. His face was gaunt and Reese could count every rib and bump of his spine. He’d bet money that Jordan hadn’t been eating regularly. It had been too dark outside for Reese to get a good look at the car in the brief flash of his headlights, but it was old. Not classic old, just run to death old. He’d come in expecting to find Roger passed out in the bathroom, not some vagabond claiming to be the new owner of his home.
“How old are you, anyway? 18?”
The reply was short and hard. “22.”
Reese watched him pull on an equally tattered Rolling Stones tour t-shirt that looked old enough to be original. “Really?”
“Want to see my ID?” Reese wanted to laugh at the kid’s affront, but held it in.
***

So, what do you think? Which way should I go?

The End!


At the last minute, I decided to do July's CampNaNo. The threads of a new story began to wave around in my head, a barely there idea that I thought I might develop--later. Because I needed to finish Embers and Flame--which was going slowly, and even though I kept thinking I was inches away from the end, it wasn't quite there yet-- and then I planned to start the rewrite of Headphones. Plus, I'm going to be on vacation for a few days. So I decided to skip Camp, even though I really enjoy doing it. But there was this idea, just the seed of an idea, actually. And then someone I follow on Twitter asked if anyone wanted to be in her cabin. And before I knew it, I'd signed up. With my seed of an idea. I have no plot or outline. I set my goal low and gave myself until July 4th to finish E & F. 

And then this thing happened. I decided to do sprints over the weekend, and I was making good progress Saturday. 1800 words-- the most I've done in one day for awhile. And it was there. The end. Just like that. Now, someone else may read it and say it's too abrupt, and if so, I'll add more. But for now, I'm labelling the first draft as done and moving on! Lasts week's word count was 6551. That feels closer to where I want to be. 

Next week I'll introduce my new story and characters. Ta, I'm off to Camp!