Crab

It was almost silent in the treatment room. The only sounds were the whirring and occasional mechanical grinding of the fluid pumps stationed by each of the recliners. Belinda’s pump was one of the grinding ones and she was quickly reaching the limit of how much she could handle.

The steroids were making her irritable and she knew it, so she didn’t grab the nurse and tear into her for giving her the loudest pump in the hospital. She wanted to, but she didn’t. Instead, she sat back in the recliner, closed her eyes, and tried to ignore it. It continued its mind-itching grind and Belinda looked up to see how much was left in the bag. The bright yellow fluid in the bag was still almost at the top and she sighed heavily, halfway hoping the nurse would hear her.

When nobody came to ask what was wrong, she fingered the call button on the side of the recliner. Calling the nurse would only prolong the administration. She would have to unhook the bag, bring out a new pump and IV pole, hook it all back up, and by that time the bag might have been a quarter gone or more. Instead of the call button, she pushed the longer button that would recline the chair slightly in the hopes she could take a nap. There was a whining from inside the recliner that only stopped when she took her finger off the button.

“Great,” Belinda said out loud, not caring that the other people in the room had turned to look at her. “Just effing great.” Leave it to her to get the one recliner that wouldn’t recline.

Belinda hated Thursdays. The rest of the week wasn’t a cakewalk – handfuls of pills three times a day, watching more and more of her hair swirl away down the drain – but Thursdays were chemo days which meant that not only did she have to deal with more of the same, she also had to try and keep herself from vomiting every fifteen minutes.

She was the youngest person in what the other patients called their “chemo clique,” and it made her sort of a curiosity to them. When she’d first started her infusions, they had a slew of questions for her, the sort of nosy and invasive ones that cancer patients felt they could ask of each other because they were all in it together. Belinda had closed her eyes and pretended to be asleep, and they’d stopped asking.

“Belinda.”

She hadn’t realized her eyes were closed until she opened them. There was a man in a suit standing in front of her and she sat forward. “Detective Massey. Is something wrong?”

“Bad news,” he said, getting right to the point. It was one of the reasons Belinda liked him. “They won’t move the trial.”

“What? They have to. I can’t miss my chemo.”

“The judge says we’ve already delayed long enough. If you can’t make it next Thursday, you’re out as a witness.”

“What about my statement?”

“He wants you on the stand. This is the most high-profile case he’s ever tried and he wants everything perfect for the cameras,” the detective shook his head. “I’m sorry.” He glanced down at his watch. “I have to get going. Without you we’re going to need Martin Griggs even more and I need check on him.”

“Fine,” Belinda said. “Whatever.” She sat back and watched the detective leave. He had been even more curt than usual and it lit a spark of rage in her. Did he think she wanted to be there? Trapped in a chair while a murderer that she’d seen clearly in the streetlights went free? The urge to rip the IV out of her arm and fling the pump across the room came over her but she forced herself to sit still. A second later the nausea hit her. Too distracted by her anger to concentrate on suppressing it, she fumbled for the plastic basin by the side of her chair and grabbed it just in time to vomit hard enough to make her back hurt.

“Are you all right, Miss Keys?” The nurse had hurried over when she saw Belinda flailing and the younger of the two women nodded as she wiped her mouth.

“Oh yeah,” Belinda said, thinking of the empty witness stand and the murderer dancing just out of her reach. “Just effing peachy.”

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NaNoWriMo and the Dreaded Rewrites

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Friday night, after a mere 20 days of writing like a crazy person, I hit 50,000 words and won NaNoWriMo 2015!

I had a lot of fun doing it, especially the Word Sprints, and it taught me a very important lesson about getting your first draft out, even if it’s less than stellar. That’s what rewrites are for.

Speaking of rewrites, my editor got back to me with some helpful suggestions, which means I get to go back and add scenes, change perspective, and basically add another ten pages or so. This is a lot harder than it sounds and I’m really glad I finished my NaNoWriMo novel when I did because trying to do both of them at once would have been a nightmare.

Her suggestions were excellent, and I kind of wish I’d had them earlier because it would have added a ton of words to my novel. It also puts me in the position of having to do the exact same thing with this one that I’m going through with Detective’s Brother, which means I’m not going to let it see the light of day until I get it rewritten. Besides, Framed is next on my rewrite list. That one will be kind of fun, since I haven’t started editing it yet and it still needs a couple of chapters anyway. I can add stuff in as I go and it won’t be as much of a hassle as it is right now.

I’m hoping I can keep this editor on my team for the rest of my books. She seems enthusiastic about my work and I like the suggestions she’s giving me. It seems she’s interested in helping me polish it in addition to the usual editing and I’m grateful. It’s kind of fun going deeper into my hero’s mind, even if it’s filled with thorns and tragedy.

For now I’m feeling a little sad after NaNoWriMo’s ending and a little frantic because of the rewrites, so there’s no crochet news to report. However, my Christmas exchange squares are on the way so hopefully I’ll have them to show off next week!

Winding Down

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NaNoWriMo is drawing to a close.

I’ve learned some really important stuff over the years. First and foremost, I can always find some time to write. I fall into the trap sometimes of thinking that I can’t write because I only have an hour or two to myself but I’ve learned that’s not the case. I’ve been able to get a decent chunk of writing done during lunch breaks, while my stepdaughter is taking her nap, even waiting for the laundry to dry. Writing doesn’t need to have a perfect setting or setup, just a computer and an idea.

I’ve also learned that sometimes the main thing is simply writing. I’m not going to pretend that writing 6500 words in a day is going to produce a perfect product right away but that’s also 6500 words I didn’t have the day before! Even if I have to edit half of them out later or refine them, I’m still getting things done and getting my ideas onto paper.

Thanks to these lessons I feel like I’m becoming a better writer. True, this story is going to take some editing and it may change in ways I’m not expecting – in fact, my heroine has already done some things that weren’t in my outline – but I feel like I’ve got a good draft going and I’m pleased with the way it’s coming along.

Some people like to be critical of NaNoWriMo by saying that it makes everyone think that just because they finished a novel they are “real writers,” but they’re kind of right. Everyone who writes a novel, a short story, or even fan fiction is a writer. As long as we’re actually writing instead of just sitting around talking about writing, we’re writers. Period.

I have 44,534 words and if I can buckle down and write another 6500 like I did on Tuesday I can finish! All I need is a couple of cheesy horror movies and some Word Sprints and I’ll be golden. Winning starts today and I want to get in before midnight. Now, on to the finish line!

Quality Time

Open Book BH

This week on the Blog Hop, we’re talking quantity vs. quality.

For the first few years we were married, my husband and I worked different shifts. I would work an eleven hour shift starting at 7 AM and ending at 6 PM, and he would start his shift at 10 PM and get off at 6 AM, so when I got home he was asleep. That left us an hour or so to see each other, basically just passing one another as we left for work.

The weekends were when we really got to spend time together, though not as much as we wanted because his sleep schedule was thrown off by the night shifts. I learned then that the small amount of time we got together was far more important to us than if we’d seen each other all the time. We made the most of it, going on dates to the movies or museums, or sometimes just walking the trails. Even though we only spent a few hours together it felt like all we needed.

Now we both have a normal schedule so we spend more time together, which feels great, but the lessons we learned from our crazy ships-in-the-night schedule stay with us. We make the most of every minute we’re together and though our marriage has had some very rocky times we are stronger every day.

Quality over quantity has also become my mantra in my writing. Sounds funny coming from someone who is currently flying through a first draft for NaNoWriMo, but the book I have in production right now, The Detective’s Brother is a bit longer than my planned second book, Framed. I have to remind myself that every story doesn’t take the same amount of words to tell and that what’s important is to have a nice, tight story instead of a rambling mess that makes the reader lose patience with me.

In general I do find that quality in my life is more important because we don’t have a lot of money so we make the best of what we have. As long as I have my husband, my stepdaughter, and the time we spend together, I’m the happiest woman in the world.

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Want to share your thoughts on quality vs. quantity? Join the blog hop!

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Stranger

It wasn’t cold in the house but Martin was shaking uncontrollably, locked in the bathroom. His pill vial was in his hand, the ridges on the cap digging into his fingers. He welcomed the discomfort. It grounded him and kept his head in reality. Taking the pills would dull him, and though he knew it would feel better at first he couldn’t afford to be dull.
He avoided the mirror, plagued by the fear that if he looked into it he would be sucked in and devoured the same way the house had already devoured his wife. The creature it left behind might look like her but it wasn’t her. It wasn’t Janice.

Martin knew Janice. He had spent hours staring at her before he ever worked up the courage to talk to her, and knew every crease in her face that had been folded there by their marriage. It just wasn’t Janice.

The children didn’t see any difference. They were five and seven, too young to see that their mother had changed, especially since she’d disappeared when they were babies. When she had come back they were overjoyed to see her, crawling into her lap and not asking where she had been or why she had gone. They didn’t see that her smile was just a little off, that her hair was a little too blonde, that her laugh was different. The hair he could let go because she could have dyed it but the other things were just wrong enough to stick in his mind.

At first he had wanted to believe she was back too. He’d hugged her that night, kissed her and even made love to her while the children were at his mother’s house. But when he’d seen her with the children, that was when he knew something was off. Now he felt sick thinking about the affection he’d shown her, or the ghost of her that had taken her place in the house.

Then, several months later when he was starting to believe that it was his mind playing tricks on him, she had changed again.

This time it was far more subtle. A hint of freckles on her nose that he could have sworn weren’t there two weeks earlier, hair that appeared to be one or two inches longer overnight, nails that were a little longer than he remembered. Just enough to make his mind hurt and trigger a panic attack like the one that had caused him to retreat to the bathroom with his medication in hand. That time she had comforted him, put an alien arm around him and said that things would be okay. It had made him want to scream but he couldn’t recoil from her. He had taken the pills then. He wouldn’t do it this time.

She had changed again.

The woman who was making him dinner was different than she had been the day before. He knew it as surely as he knew his name. Somehow she looked the same in the photographs that lined the hall, holding the children and smiling, and that was what made his mind hurt the worst. If she wasn’t the same, why did the pictures change with her? What was going on? He flushed the toilet, hoping she would hear it and not suspect.

“I’m not crazy,” he said just loud enough for himself to hear over the rushing of the water in the sink. “It’s her that’s wrong, not me.” Martin set the bottle of pills on the counter and washed his hands but kept an eye on them in case they disappeared. Things had been disappearing and reappearing lately too. A call of “Dinner!” startled him, and the face he saw in the mirror looked like a trapped animal.

Warning bells were going off in his head. She wanted him to eat dinner. That meant she might have put something in his food. His food and the children’s. He threw open the door and ran down the hall.

She was standing by the stove dishing out spaghetti, and he leapt forward. The imposter cringed as if he was jumping at her, but he knew better. Instead he grabbed the food and flung it on the floor. She was talking but he couldn’t hear over the ringing in his ears.

Safe. He was safe. The children were safe. For now.

 

Sibling Envy

This is my first week doing the Open Book Blog Hop! I plan on posting these on Wednesday or Thursday from now on but I just couldn’t pass the subject up. This week we are talking about brothers and sisters.

Open Book BH

As an only child, I have always wondered what it would be like to have a brother or sister. My friends all either loved their brothers and sisters or hated them with a passion, and I wanted to find out what it was like for myself. My husband, also an only child, is the opposite. He’s happy to be a singleton and never thought about having a sibling.

The closest thing I had was two cousins that I spent a lot of time with. Our grandmother took care of the three of us until the oldest one was old enough to take care of us younger two and I, being the youngest, was extremely ambivalent about the entire situation. My cousin was excited not to be the baby, and I was excited to have sisters until they started dressing me up and crimping my hair. It was the eighties and there is lots of embarrassing photographic evidence, none of which I am able to locate at this moment. Be happy about this.

Because I never had siblings I tend to explore these relationships in my stories. Loving siblings and siblings who missed each other play a big role but I also have siblings who hate each other and would do whatever it took to see their brother or sister fail. Sometimes I wonder whether I’m getting these relationships right since I don’t have firsthand experience but I do read a lot of books, which I hope are steering me in the right direction.

My book, The Detective’s Brother, which is in production right now, deals with the relationship of a young woman to her sister who has passed away. The grief she feels is based on my loss of my parents rather than a sibling but I feel like it rings true. Your family, whether it’s a sibling or parent, is always and will always be a part of you no matter your relationship.

I still wish I had a brother, though. I would have loved stealing his clothes.

Share your story about your brothers and sisters!

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NaNoWriMo, Week Two!

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Last night I hit 22,000 words. That sounds like a lot but I don’t feel like it’s enough! My goal for today is to hit 25,000, which means I’ll be halfway done. I think with a few Word Sprints I might be able to make it though!

What are Word Sprints? Super fun timed sessions where you write as much as fast as possible. For example, you get 15 minutes and a totally optional prompt and then post what you came up with. There are even ones (that I find extremely rewarding) where you attempt to write 1000 words in 30 minutes. So far I’ve nailed every one!

Doing NaNoWriMo has really been a really fun experience. I’ve been sitting on this idea for a while and it actually seems like I’m going to get the first draft finished this month! Adding my 22,000 words to what I had before has put me at about 31,000 words! Of course, I’m only planning on validating what I’ve written this month but it’s still kind of amazing.

It’s been good to get in the habit of writing every day again, even if it’s just 500 or 600 words. There’s been some drama in my life lately and I’ve been able to kind of take a step back and relax thanks to writing, and bury my head in the sand for an hour or two, which makes it easier to face the drama because now I know I can do anything.

After I edit this story, I’m planning on setting it aside for a little while and working on finishing another old friend, Framed, which only needs a couple of chapters to be complete. I plan on that one being my second book even though it takes place before Detective’s Brother because I just went crazy over Simon and Quinn.

Now, back to writing. I’ve got a dance to attend and those 3000 words aren’t going to write themselves today!

The Chex Mix of Romance Fiction