I know St Patrick’s Day was yesterday but we can’t not include that with this week’s theme! Besides, it’s my birthday today so that is how this works!
The hole in the wall bar was flooded with green and reeked of Irish beer and vomit. Olivia stood out in the crowd, as obvious as a Disney princess in the Game of Thrones universe but she squeezed through the crowd with purpose until she finally made her way to the bar.
“Whatcha doin’ ere miss?” a man slurred and she throat punched him, sending him to the floor before he even had an idea of what had happened. The few people around her backed up, giving her the space she clearly desired, helping the man up and escorting him to a table nearby.
“I’m looking for a man by the name of Ethan Ferris.”
The bartender nods towards the end of the bar and Olivia shoves through, taking the glass of scotch from the bartender as he points to a solitary table in the far corner of the bar. “You’ll find him there.”
Without a thank you, she thrusts through the crowd of pretend Irish folk and sets the glass down in front of the man they claim is able to hack anything. “Your drink sir.”
He waves her towards the open seat. “You’re late.”
“No, you gave me the wrong address.”
“Did I?” He smiles and then shrugs. “Dyslexia I suppose.”
Olivia narrows her eyes. “You can’t hide from me, Ethan. Even forcing me to retrieve you from a God awful Irish pub when half the city is prancing up and down Main Street like a bunch of morons isn’t enough. Now were you able to do what I asked or not?”
Solemnly, he nods, pulling a flash drive from the pockets of his jeans. “She’s traveling, currently in Florida but she’s spent some time in Maine and Boston recently.”
Olivia wrinkles her nose. “She’s getting close. You will be compensated. Enjoy your drink.”
As she leaves, she exchanges a look with the bartender once more and brushing invisible lint from her blazer, she shoves through the door back into the night air, a conscious clear of any misdoing.
Hey all! It’s crazy to think we are half way through the month already and it feels like I have done nothing.
That isn’t true, actually, I’ve been so busy I’m not sure how I’ve accomplished what I have done HA!
I’m two books in for the month and though I have enough time month wise to get more in, I am going to chill the reading for the month to clear room for the prep work on the relaunch of my motherhood blog that I hope to do in June. I’ve also finished my draft one for the book I have been working on since January and so I will let it sit about two weeks before I go into my first round of the dreaded edit phase.
I’m also working on revamping this site. I know I just relaunched but I want to be able to take this blog in the direction to help curate and build my author platform for when I am far enough to actually publish, whether self or traditional, and with that comes a lot of planning and seeking advice from others who are making it work in this crazy world we are living in.
Like many, my long term goal is to sustain myself with writing, blogging and reviewing books. It’s a passion of mine that hasn’t simmered since I was a child but as a single mom of three young boys, it proves to be a task sometimes to prioritize something that has been more of a hobby all these years when I have kids yanking at me at every turn.
That being said, however, if I want to make my dreams a reality, I need to prioritize as a job and not a hobby and while it has taken some time I can finally say I’m getting to that point. We have some potentially huge changes coming into our lives in the future and I want to be ready for it. I’m eternally grateful to have each and every one of you here.
So March is hectic and will continue to be hectic. But I’m enjoying the whirlwind and can’t wait to bring you some more content that will help us all! Much love, as always,
The sun was nestling beneath the waves, sending shattered beams of light across the surface towards the beach. Her cheeks were stained with tears, the skin stiff from the breeze caressing her skin as she stood in the sand, ignoring the icy waves washing over the tops of her bare feet.
He watched from a distance, this almost ghost of a woman as she stared intently into the sunset, unmoving and unphased as the sky darkened and the waves grew increasingly aggressive with the tide moving in. Hollering as he strode across the sand, he fought to get her attention, to break through the walls she had around her keeping her from the outside chaos that surrounded her.
As he approached, she slowly turned, a small smile appearing on her mouth before the light captured her essence in full and it forced Tony to stop. She appeared to whisper something but he couldn’t make it out before the last of the sun’s light disappeared, the mystery woman going with it as though she was never there.
And perhaps, he thought, she never was.
With shaky hands he pulled his phone from his pocket, scrolling through his phone to his voicemail, hitting play.
“Hey Ton, it’s me. I’m just calling to let you know we are headed out but that I will call you on the way home. It shouldn’t be any later than nine but I can’t wait to see you tomorrow. Love you to pieces, babe. Bye.“
Tears stung at his eyes but he blinked them away as he stared at the phone. How had life changed so drastically for him? He went from carefree and happy to chasing hallucinations down the beach as he’s done all week. Even though he didn’t know the mystery woman he felt drawn to her, as though she needed to teach him something or at the very least offer some sense of peace with his life that was falling apart at the seams.
But where did he go from here? Surely he can’t stay at the beach to wait for her to appear again.
“There’s only one direction to go,” a voice said from behind him.
Tony turned to find himself face to face with an old wrinkled man that was hunched over but held the kindest set of dark eyes he’d ever seen. “Excuse me?”
“She’s the spirit of the lost,” he explains without skipping a beat. “I’ve watched souls like yours chase after her to save her time and time again. Whoever you’ve lost, they’re at peace. You only have one direction left to go.”
“And what’s that?”
“Forward.” He smiles. “One foot in front of the other. One day, one minute, one second at a time. But don’t stop and stay in the past. You can only go forward because all that’s left for you back there is a black hole.”
“I miss her.” He sighs, slipping his phone in his pocket. “How can I possibly imagine a future without her?”
The man reaches and grabs his shoulder. “The greatest favor you can give her is living your life as she would’ve intended. And to do that, you need to move forward.” And with that he gave him a final smile and hobbled away, leaving Tony wondering what was so special about this beach. By the time he felt the urge to ask, however, the man had disappeared.
I had to take the week off last week due to having to handle some personal matters with my children but I am back and looking strong!
My goals for March are simple. Read and blog. I’ve temporarily tabled my current WIP until things settle down in my personal life because otherwise I am simply too strapped but in the meantime, basic outlining or reworking of some scenes may be on the agenda in my free time.
My February book reviews will be on the blog later this week as a specialty since it didn’t get posted last week like I had intended originally. Fiction Fridays will then resume as normal on Friday!
I don’t have any books in my head yet so I might explore Kindle Unlimited or head to Barnes this weekend and see what calls out to me! Or, if you have some fun ideas, drop them in the comments or DM me on Twitter. What’s on your TBR list that I should add to mine?
Sorry for the short burst but I wanted to pop in and let you know that I’m not ghosting you – I’m just preoccupied!
Happy Friday folks! What are your writing goals looking like for this weekend? I have my kids this weekend so I likely won’t be getting much work done but we do have a play date with family we haven’t seen in a while and a possible trip to an indoor water park Sunday. I may have to do some night owl writing to get it done but we’ll see what happens!
Let’s jump into this week’s prompt. I kept it simple.
Not far from the chaos that comes with city life there is a patch of greenery that attracts the best sort of residents: wild flowers, trees, and critters ranging from deer to small rodents. Groups of pines break up the somewhat hilly landscape and offer a bit of paradise from life for those who seek the solace.
It was a beautiful late spring day; the sun was shining and the simple wildflowers were in bloom across the field. Finding the perfect spot, Talia dropped by a rock and took a seat, breathing in deeply as she pried open the journal she had long kept hidden from view in the deepest part of her closet.
The journal was the very same as the one she’d given him the day before he deployed all those years ago. Despite having access to technology that allows for instant communication he had wanted to jot things down. It was a deeply personal thing, he’d claim, to keep them close for the years to come.
She owed it to him to absorb the words between the pages, feel his warmth and love, and clothe herself with his sincerity. It’d been two years but the first few paragraphs brought tears to her eyes and she allowed for her toned blonde waves to fall to shelter her face. She wasn’t fully prepared for the renewed round of grief that came with his promises and dreams that would no longer come to fruition.
After a number of pages, she gently closed the journal, pressing the cover to her forehead while she let a few stray tears shed. The pain of his loss was still strong but she felt a sense of peace wash over her even after the small amount she had read. Maybe her therapist was right; this wasn’t a nail in the coffin but a breath of freedom to begin living her life again.
It’s that time of month. How on Earth is it that time of month already?
February is going great so far. I actually finished my first February book before the month even started and I was reached out to by an author online to read and review their book, Stormsilver. I’m nearing the halfway point of that one so I will have at least 3 in for this month and I am super excited!
As far as my draft goes, my deadline is this coming weekend so let’s pray I hit it!
Next up is outlining book two in my Mask trilogy and I’m hoping to tackle that first draft in the coming months during my break from Book one. I also want to rework some scenes from Whispers of the Dead which is a standalone that was inspired after my cousin’s untimely death in 2014. The anniversary of his death was just back on the tenth of this month and I thought it would be appropriate to have that one be my first self-published book so with any luck, I will have that one ready for publication later this year! EEK!
It’s easy for me to be overwhelmed reading over what my goals are for this month and what has yet to be accomplished but I know with the right attitude it’ll happen, and worst case, I am giving myself the grace to allow some things hit the back burner while I focus on the prioritized tasks.
How do you keep yourself in check? I tend to opt for a calendar since I am highly visual and need to be able to see what my goals and due dates are. Do you get down on yourself when a deadline is coming or do you shrug it off, picking a new battle to forge?
Keep up the great work, we’re almost to the end of the month! Keep it strong and keep that light burning!
Monday is Valentine’s Day so let’s have some fun with that.
The restaurant was in the swing of love’s season as staff hung hearts, decorated the booths with festive pieces, and added fresh bouquets of flowers to each of the vases that were scattered throughout the dining area. Reservations were off the charts which was nothing new but Fallon felt a sense of dread wash over her as she ran her finger over the names. He hadn’t been back here since they broke up but it didn’t mean she didn’t feel anxiety on holidays, knowing he was likely celebrating them with someone new.
“Hey Fal,” Mike called from behind the bar. “You tending this weekend?”
Much too quickly, she shook her head. “No, I took off. Why?”
“Big date plans, eh?” He waggled his eyebrows. For a middle aged man, he had the humor of a twenty something college student and unless you knew better, you’d say he owned the same three outfits because he was never seen without a navy polo and blue jeans.
Fallon rolled her eyes. “In my entire time here have you ever known me to go out on a date over Valentine’s Day? I’m going to hit up the range with some girlfriends.”
“You know this buddy of mine has a son,” he shrugs. “I could set you up so people around here wouldn’t think you’re a lesbian.”
She stuck out her tongue. “But maybe I am one.”
His expression softened. It’s not a side she often got to see but in the five years she’s worked here but it’s always been warming. “You can put that facade up and everyone here would believe that but not me, I can tell when one’s heart been broken. I’m not saying you have to go out, but maybe just see what the ocean has to offer before letting one shithead ruin your idea of love.”
Fallon was stunned. She’d never shared her past with anyone here but Mike was the only one that is still around from when she started. It would make sense if he’d remember the girl who would hide out back smoking beneath a curtain of dried tears. She shrugged it off. “If you want to send that buddy’s son out to the range I won’t say no.”
He eyed her curiously. “I think you’ll be surprised.”
It was unusually cool for February in North Carolina but the girls toughed it out at the range for a few hours. They were just clearing up their area when they were approached by a couple of men. “Hey, my buddy here was just making some derogatory comments about women shooters so I felt the need to bring him over here to apologize.”
Scowling, Fallon fastened the clips on her case and stood. Claire and Heidi each stopped what they were doing to watch the fiasco play out. “Well, your buddy here doesn’t look like he could hit the broadside of a barn. Even Claire-“she motioned to the girls behind her-“could manage to outshoot him I’m sure.”
The two young men began to laugh. “Hey, no, we aren’t here to cause trouble. I was told the best way to get your attention was to make some sarcastic comment so here I am, making a complete ass out of myself.”
Fallon raised an eyebrow, turning to exchange a look with her friends before crossing her arms. “Well that’s a terrible pick up line, even if you were told to insult me.”
He chuckled sheepishly, extending his arm behind him as though he had an itch. “It wasn’t an insult. I’ve been watching you shoot the last few times you’ve been here. You’re a great shot. I’d enjoy sharing a round or two with you.”
It dawned on Fallon that the vague familiarity plaguing her was that she had seen him around here too, assisting amateurs or scoping out to make sure safety was taken. “You work here.” She palmed her face. It wasn’t a question but he nodded anyway. Fallon extended her hand. “It’s Fallon. My sidekicks are Claire and Heidi. Baddest bitches in town.”
He nodded. “It takes a badass crew to come here and make the rest of us look like beginners. How long have you been shooting?”
Claire answered. “Little over four years now. Kind of a tradition for us now to come out here once a month at the very least.”
“Cool.” He clapped his buddy on the shoulder. “So I take it as a yes then? I’ll pick you up tomorrow.”
Fallon gaped. “Are you seriously expecting me to go out with you on Valentine’s Day? I don’t even know you.”
“Names Clay,” he replied, clapping his buddy on the shoulder. “This is Brad. And I’m not saying it’s a date. But, bring your friends and I’ll bring mine and we’ll have some fun at the concourse.”
Claire and Heidi each grabbed Fallon. “Oh seriously girl, let loose. Let’s go!”
Fallon narrowed her eyes, but her mystery date had her intrigued. “Alright. But we meet there at six.”
Clay took her hand and gave the top a small kiss. “Bet on it Fallon. You won’t regret it.”
The concourse was similar to a mall, except it was entirely outdoors and had a mini golf course, dance floor with DJ that played every weekend, and a stage where scheduled events took place. For Valentine’s Day, the stage was bare but because most people opted for more romantic settings, the place was only moderately busy. As promised, Clay showed up with two of his buddies, one being Brad from the day before that Claire had already claimed dibs on. Fallon loved sweet, naive Claire, but she was a hopeless romantic and always staked claim on men as though each were the one for her.
Heidi and Fallon were more similar in their hesitancy towards dating, each having been wronged a few too many times. But Clay wasn’t terrible to look at and this was only to satisfy her friends desperation for a group date opportunity. Or at least, that’s what Fallon kept telling herself.
The plan was to start with mini golf and if it went well, we’d all go out to grab dinner somewhere. Unfortunately for Fallon, she was enjoying herself more than she had bargained for.
Clay nudged her at hole eight while Claire and Brad flirted up a storm. “Dare I say it, but you’ve got a beautiful smile when it’s genuine.”
“Okay tough guy, you caught me. I do actually have a heart.”
“Must’ve been one hell of a break-up to put up the walls you have.”
Fallon scuffed. “Maybe I’ve always been like this.”
“Maybe, but I’d bet you were more like Claire at one time,” he countered, laughing at the two’s failed attempt to persuade the balls into the hole. “It’s a gift of mine, being able to read people.”
“Yeah, you into psychology or something?”
Clay shrugged. “Not really, just quite good at reading people. All sorts of folks come to the range. Most women start with looking to prove something or to be strong, tough as nails, powerful. I’m always in awe of them. When you started coming, it was no different. Except I could tell you felt broken.”
“I’m not broken,” she argued.
He laughed to break the tension. “No, Fallon, you’re far from broken. You’re beautiful, confident, and inspiring. But you also need to start living a little.”
She shoved him lightly. “You don’t know anything about me. I’ve known you existed for less than 24 hours. Don’t come here reading me and bringing all this sappy stuff on this date.”
And even though Clay didn’t bring it back up again and they all had a great time for the rest of the night, Fallon couldn’t stop the thoughts from invading her brain. She hadn’t laughed like she did tonight in ages. Is that what he meant by living? The answers to her desperate questions were like moisture in the air after a drought, teasingly there but out of reach.
Despite taking the weekend off to avoid Valentine’s Days dates and romance, she realized one key detail. She wasn’t reminded of the one who broke her heart.
And against her better judgment, she wanted to see Clay again.
Ah, I will have to revisit this story…I’m quite intrigued by Fallon’s story and may need to flesh this one out into a short story! What do you think?
Insert Tik Tok’s viral theme: I’ve been waiting for this one!
Characters. I mean, yes, I know the setting, the world building, the politics, and all of the other important things that make a story but to me, none are nearly as important as the characters. If I don’t love or relate to characters, it makes anything I’m reading hard to get into. Yes, I critique all aspects of the books I read, but I love a well written character. Man, do I love a well written character.
Let’s break it apart though, shall we?
What makes a well written character? Personally I think I speak for most readers when I say we want to be able to connect with a character. A character that we want to climb into the pages and hug, cry, or laugh with. We want to feel like we’re a part of the story, like this character could be our very best friend or worst enemy in real life.
Now this doesn’t go to say that you can’t write a great story that will be mega successful with mediocre characters. I’ll probably get hate for this but Twilight is a great example of this. Bella was a pain in my butt. I loved some of the other characters, Rosalie and Alice, for example, but Bella? Now, I enjoyed the books as a whole. I’ve seen all the movies. I feel a lot of its success was tied to how Meyer did a new take on vampires outside the normal. But the plot was well written, in my opinion, and she had a mostly great group of characters to round it out and keep it going and in all honesty, the other characters and morbid curiosity on whether Bella would ever outgrow the teenage angst kept me going through the slow parts.
Back a number of years ago I came across a book called Wake by Amanda Hocking. Like Twilight, it was a fantasy genre but instead centered around Sirens and though I didn’t have high expectations (teenage angst is not my strong point. I can tell I’m in my thirties HA!) the book and the entire series surprised me. Biggest difference really was the characters. Gemma was also a typical high schooler but her personality wasn’t nearly as annoying.
As I said earlier, as a reader, we want to be able to connect with your characters. We want to be able to feel with them. We want to relate to their problems and to me, their problems need to be realistic to the age group. Obviously, I don’t want a teen dealing with adult issues or an adult becoming incapacitated by something I feel is high school appropriate.
Having just gone through a divorce, I found myself into the romance genre and it’s not hard to see why. As my life was falling apart, I wanted nothing more than to feel like love existed in this world. I feel in love with some great characters during the two years of my bitter divorce. Kelsie Rae, Kristen Granata, and Sarah Sutton are a few indie authors I’ve found in the genre and I have no complaints on the characters they’ve molded.
So how do we craft characters like this? For my fantasy trilogy, I started with notecards, believe it or not, and I jotted down the specs for each of my main and secondary characters as well as my reoccurring or notable characters. I’ve come a long way since then but since it was fantasy and required an extensive amount of world building I needed a better way to organize it all so I actually jumped on amazon and ended up finding The Only Character Workbook You’ll Ever Need, created by T.M. Holladay. It is AWESOME. It had more than I needed but I still think he thought of it all.
I feel it’s important to know the little details about your characters because even though it doesn’t make it into the book or project you’re working on, it comes out naturally in other areas. Traits make their way through in the mannerisms, the way they handle themselves, or the way in which they interact with others. Practice writing prompts putting your characters in situations or scenes where they wouldn’t normally be found and learn about them. I find that regardless of what person I write in, writing the prompts in first person helps for me to get into the head of my characters and refine the traits that make them who they are.
Same thing applies to all your characters. Don’t spend so much time taking care of your protagonists that you forget the other characters in your stories.
How do you craft your characters? What is your process? Most of my characters appear to me in dreams. In fact, a lot of my story ideas also come to me in the same manner.
Characters really are vital building blocks to a story. Don’t downgrade your work of art by having a group of less than worthy characters.
One month in and I am going to start a new series called Fiction Fridays. Here I will post a writing prompt in hopes to kick start our weekends of writing related fun. Posts will be light hearted and I will post mine within the blog post but I can’t wait to read what fun stories we can come up with!
Don’t put too much pressure on it, use these prompts to simply kick start your creativity. Keep them as short or long as you please. Tag me on social if you’d prefer to share there!
Frigid snow crunches beneath me as I take in my surroundings. Palming the top of my head, I sigh as I roll back onto my knees before shifting my weight to stand.
“Hey!” a voice travels on the light breeze. A man approaches me hesitantly, no doubt eyeing my inappropriate outfit. He shrugs off his jacket and tosses it at me. “It’s twenty degrees out here and this is private property. If you’re trying to freeze to death, you’re well on your way.”
I could tell him I don’t need the jacket, that my metabolism keeps the numbing effects of hot and cold to a minimum, but I’m not in the mood for explanations that will no doubt get him killed so I pull the oversized coat on and shrug.
He smirks. “Not one for words, eh?”
“Where exactly is here?”
“You don’t know where you are?”
His suspicion is growing and I roll my eyes. “I was knocked out and obviously dropped here as some sort of sick joke. I have places to be so if you could be so kind as to direct me to the nearest city, I will take it from there.”
The mysterious man shivers as I shift my eyes to clarify my point. He motions behind him and I follow him back towards a small cottage. His jacket weighs on me but I keep with the act until we reach our destination and I toss it back to him and cross my arms while he offers to grab the keys to take me into town.
Dimitri had no reason to do this and I will get even.
My mystery hero is named Tyler and he’s married with two small children, one of which is only a few months old. He drives a beat up Chevrolet because it’s the last thing he has that belonged to his dad who passed of cancer about three years ago. In true Michigan hospitality, he’s offered to drive me the entire hour to the nearest town and hasn’t shut up since we started driving.
“Leila is a pretty name,” he’s going on. “When my daughter was born, Care and I couldn’t think of the perfect name for her, but now two years in, there is no doubt she’s a Quinn, you know? Do you have kids?”
“No,” I answer cooly. “Where are you taking me again?”
“Iron Mountain,” he replies, unphased. “A buddy of mine owns a dealership there. I’m not sure how you ended up so far from home though.”
Shrugging, I pick at my tank. “The less you know the better. But if your buddy has a phone I will have to use that to wire him money since I have nothing on me.”
“It’s all highly suspicious. When my dog started going crazy this morning and I figured out what he was barking at I couldn’t really fathom. We live in a pretty isolated area and you’re just lucky you didn’t end up with hypothermia.”
I pinch the bridge of my nose, patience is thinning with each passing second. “Look. I appreciate the ride, I really do, but I think it’s best you let me out here.” He starts to protest but I silence him with a glare. I get out and before shutting the door, I sigh. “Go home. Take care of your wife and kids. Family is a blessing and you should never have to lose them the way I lost mine. Your generosity today has not gone unnoticed but it’s not safe to be caught with me. Trust me on that.”
He fixes his hat and nods. “I will trust you if you do one thing for me.”
“Life can get pretty lonely when you spend it pushing every single person you come across away out of fear. Trust that everything has a price. There is no single thing on this planet that comes for free and it’s a matter of finding out what is worth that price we pay. Open up to others again and maybe that will help.”
I offer him a small smile before backing up as I shut the door. Waiting until he turns and heads the way we came, I let out a small puff of air. “While what you say is true Tyler, it simply is too late for me.”
Leila is the MC of my fantasy trilogy I am hoping to start querying later this year once final edits are done. She’s a bit of a hot head and tends to be impulsive but under it all she has a huge heart and goes out of her way to keep those she cares about out of harm’s way. I find these types of prompts allow for me to dive into Leila’s personality and bring that out more in the writing project. I hope it helps you too! Share your short stories with me in the comments or on social media! Can’t wait to read them all!
I’m not kidding. January just flew on by! Now, to be fair to myself, I did have three deaths in the family in the first half of the month so that was exhausting but I did push through. I didn’t get my entire first draft done which was a bummer but I did get quite a bit done so I am happy with my progress. So for February, I am going to finish draft one and then outline the second in this series. As a note, this is more of a rework of a set already completed (not edited, just drafted) but when I wrote it I was a fresh out of high school writer so I have some more depth I want to add to the story and whatnot. It’s been fun rereading what I’ve written…insert cringe face! Ha!
I have two books in mind for my February reads. Both authors are new to me so I am excited to see what they have in store for me! I have a few others to grab from my TBR if I get through these two quickly so be on the look out for the reviews later this month!
As far as my social media presence, I am up to some 672 followers on Twitter and have been active on there since mid-January. I am hoping to cross the 1k mark here in February and start picking up on my instagram since I really only focused on Twitter and the blog this last month. I need some fun accounts to follow on instagram though so help me out, drop your handles below so I expand my feed! Extra points if you’re as weird and crazy as me!
As I did last month, I’ll do a mid-month check in to let you know I’m still alive and not wanting to stab myself with a pen. HA!
What are your writing or otherwise related goals this month?