Friday, December 31, 2010

Challenge Day 5: Sir Poops-a-Lot


The last several days in Florida has been freezing, toe-numbing-blue-nailed cold. Something I’m not used to but accept because its better than humidity equals heat equals melted make-up and bad hair days (sweaty armpits). But, my one dog on the other hand has a difference of opinion(wished I had a picture of him…posted a look a-like from the web).

Chinese Crested Dog - Powderpuff

My older dog is a Chinese Crested Powder Puff. He’s fancy and fluffy like the above picture. White, too. A bit of a priss ball and prances when he walks. Doesn’t care much for the outdoors. Summer, Fall, Winter, or Spring. Primping with the brush and getting his belly rubbed is his thing or hanging out on his bed with his blankie. Sometimes he can be found at my feet while I pound the keyboards.

Ten years ago when I brought him home, six cats greeted him and showed him the ropes. They taught him to clean his face, jump and walk on counters, hang out on window sills, lounge on the backs of couches, and when mom goes night-night, to find his rightful place on top the dining room table. They also taught him, the litter box was the proper toilet for all cats, this included him.

Yes, my friends I have a dog that used the cat box. Notice I’m using past tense here.

About five years ago when my daughters, one by one, left the nest so did a cat. One at a time. When the cats were gone, bye-bye went the stinky cat box. And well, guess who had to use the toilet outside. This didn’t go well.

Have you ever seen a dog try to pee with all four legs in the air? My dog hates grass. Dry grass. Wet grass. Hot grass. Cold grass. Especially frozen grass.

Well, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning his little feet received a cold greeting. Monday and Tuesday his pee warmed the grass but later that day my bare feet received a warm greeting in the middle of the night(had to go pee myself…the cold does that to me). Thought I’d pee myself when the warm goo squished between my toes and the rancid scent wafted to my nose.

Four times within forty-eight hours he left me these warm welcomes in different spots. The master bath. The laundry room. The upstairs hallway. And, No-No’s bathroom.

By Wednesday, I’d had it and we had a Jesus-meeting. Me and him. Eyeball to eyeball.

“Come here,” I said.

His tail went between his legs and he lowered his head tip-toeing to the refuge of his bed and blankie. The stinker knew what he did. Dogs aren’t dumb. Don’t let them fool you. It’s all an act.

I followed him with the leash and plopped beside his bed. “You know you’ve been naughty. You’re a Sir Poops-a-Lot. Not my Baby. My Baby wouldn’t do that.”

He blinked his eyes and let out a sigh.

I hooked his leash to his collar. “We’re going outside and your pooping out there. If you don’t poop you don’t come inside until you do. Got it?”

I put his furry coat on him and outside we went.

Since Wednesday Sir Poops-a-Lot a/k/a Baby has been going outside. He’s the fastest pooper in town now. Yes siree Bob! A fast and speedy pooper he’s become. Twice a day, too.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Challenge Day 4: Writing Prompts and a Little Snippet


Back in October, I attended the Florida Writer's Conference which I enjoyed. Thought I’d died and went to heaven, of course. My actual wish is for heaven to be full of tablets, pens, books, writing seminars, and Post-It Notes. After I die, I’m sure there will be plenty of time to meet new characters and write their stories. I’d hate to experience hell. They probably don’t even serve coffee there or give you a pen to scribble with on one of the molten walls.

One of my classes included something on writing prompts. At 7 A.M. I’d head for the nearest coffee machine and then on over to the class. It was better than my daily spin or sculpt regimen. A lot less painful and sweaty, too.

Before I write further, let me introduce the teacher of the class, Jamie Morris of Woodstream Writers. She’s a writing coach and offers writing workshops in Maitland, Florida. You can find her at if interested in seeking her professional help after I stop babbling.

Okay. First morning I attended, Jamie  passed out post cards. Mine had a full picture of a striped cat with big yellow eyes(of course, I was thinking….sure…whatever…how am I going to get a story out of this thing?).

Words of wisdom came from her lips, “Look at your card.” I could have sworn she was my old yoga instructor from years ago. Somehow she had her voice. Soft. Gentle. Flowing. “You’ve been sent this post card by an anonymous party. There’s a single word on it. This word is a clue from the picture on the other side.”

My thoughts, your kidding me, right?

So, I studied the cat. It’s eyes got to me. I picked up my pen and wrote the following:

When I arrived back to my motel room, I plopped in an overstuffed chair, discovering something small and hard hitting my bum. The book I’d been reading. Something stuck out from between the pages and I pulled it out. A post card. How’d that get there, I thought. I studied the front before I flipped it over. The word marbles stared back at me.

Everything in life is getting trickier for me.

Marbles. What the hell does marbles have to do with anything? It’s bad enough I found cocaine in the back end of my ex-husband’s car along with guns. It’s bad enough he’s been kidnapped and I’ve been chosen to save his bony ass.

When I was a kid I played with marbles. Sometimes I refer to my brains as such. I’m surprised I haven’t lost them yet. Mom used to tell me to put my marbles away-I kept them in a black bag.

Aha! black bag-something some street person slipped me at the outside cafĂ©. Damn, I threw it away in the motel dumpster. Guess this means I’ll have to dumpster dive. I’m not sure saving my ex-husband is worth all this trouble. Me in a dumpster. Gross.

I ran outside and hooked a left toward the back of the motel. From where I stood, the darned thing looked empty. That would be my luck.

So my friends, if you’ve got major writer blockage, pick up a post card. You never know what you’re brain will come up with.

Happy blog-writing ya’ll!!!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Challenge Day 3: Advice on Pitching Your Novel


Yesterday, Jodee asked me for some advice for her daughter on pitching her novel. She’ll be attending the Writer’s Digest conference in January. Thought I’d post my two cents and quote from “You Can Write a Novel”, by James V. Smith, Jr.

First I’ll give my personal advice:

1. Focus on your main character.

2. Focus on the main characters points. What moved your character from A to Z?

Now in the book, “You Can Write a Novel”, Mr. Smith suggests finishing the novel, of course, before you try to sell it. Good advice. Next, he suggests paring down your entire novel into about forty words (even thirty-eight if you can).

Here’s his example:

Force Recon: Action-Adventure

A Marine lieutenant’s elite band fights a running battle against terrorist behind enemy lines – in Canada. French separatists trap Navy SEALS and Army Rangers, and Force Recon rescues the Americans and erases all evidence of a U.S. invasion.

Then he asks “What’s explicit in that very short story”?

  • The heroic character-a Marine lieutenant
  • The central issue of the story (plot line)-fighting terrorists in an attempt to rescue Americans
  • The heroic goal-to punish terrorists and rescue other elite forces before the United States is accused of invading Canada
  • The worthy adversary-the terrorists, all of Canada, public opinion and (implied) elite teams of other services
  • Action-explicit in running the battle and rescue
  • The ending-Force Recon rescuing the Americans and erasing all evidence of an invasion

He also suggests your thirty-eight words should include:

  • The grabber-fighting terrorists and rescuing SEALs and Rangers
  • A twist-the United States invading Canada

Mr. Smith also suggests that you “write your nugget as if your telling your best friend about a movie you’ve just seen. Don’t worry about the word count at first. Use specific present-tense verbs that describe the action as if it were happening here and now. Use precise nouns. Tighten. Don’t stop refining until you get to thirty-five or forty words”.

More of my suggestions:

  1. When you meet the agent/publisher, introduce yourself, shake their hand with confidence.
  2. Remember to give the title of your novel, genre, and word count after you’ve introduced yourself.
  3. It’s okay if you bring a cheat sheet. Let them know that it’s your first novel. From my experience agents/publishers are gracious and polite people.
  4. Remember, you’ve got ten minutes to pitch. That’s it.
  5. If they want to read your manuscript follow their implicit instructions they give you.

And finally, if you’ve written your chapters in their own separate documents you’ll have to copy and paste them into one. After you do this, make sure you have someone else go through it to make sure you didn’t post duplicate chapters, leave out chapters, and that they’re numbered correctly( believe me its embarrassing when you have to write back to the agent/publisher that you screwed up…I know… because I did that).

You should do this beforehand so you get the correct word count. Trying to tally up each chapter with a calculator is not a good move. I know. I did that,too. Didn’t work for me. Believed I had 80,000 words, told the agent/publisher that and now I’m eating it because Shelly is a dufus sometimes.

Learn from my mistakes people. Take precautions.

Anyway, I hope I spelled it out. If not, can any of you give anymore suggestions on verbally pitching your novel?


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Challenge Day 2: My New Years Resolutions



Jodee and Beth have inspired me to write down my resolutions for 2011. I’ve got fifteen minutes to spare and not quite fifty words left to do it in,  but here I go.

1. Figure out my digital camera.

2. Schedule sex twice a week with my hubby(going through the’s kind of screwed up Virginia).

3. Get an agent (that’s another blog…maybe tomorrow).

4. Or publish and market myself.

5. Finish my new novel, “The Boy Next Door”.

6. Engage in a different form of exercise due to health problems(worry that my butt will explode if I do though).

7. Somehow let my daughters know I love them even though I don’t agree with some of their current choices.

8. Get more massages.

9. Visit the chiropractor.

10. Go to the dentist this year(I only have one cavity at 45….shouldn’t take good teeth for granted).

11. Keep learning to improve my writing skills.

Well guys, I did this in ten minutes. Coolio. It will probably take me another five to find a pic from the web to download (actually, it took less than five).

Happy Blog-writing!!!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Challenge: Fifteen Minutes a Day to Blog for Fifteen Days Straight


Recently, I read an article from an on-line magazine, The Infinite Writer. Penny Sansevieri wrote an article on blogging(forgot to write down the title..oops). One of her suggestions was to blog fifteen minutes a day. In fact, your posts don’t have to be any longer than fifty words.

Fifty times fifteen minutes a day. Sounds like a good idea. Wonder if I could do it? Wonder if any of you could do it?  Blog fifteen minutes a day. Fifty words only…about anything. Anyone up for the challenge?

Happy blog-writing!!




Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A snippet on Gram from “Secondhand Shoes”


This is the last snippet…Regina, I introduce you to Lila’s Gram. Enjoy everyone.

I looked over my shoulder at Gram again. I’d spent her last Sunday on earth with her. We sat in her kitchen, blinds closed against the setting sun. A candle flame flickered in the middle of her kitchen, two parts leaned into each other like slow dancers. It’s dance intensified, the flames intertwining, pulsating until they merged, became one and sighed.

“That’s it, child.” Gram said softly. “Focus.”

My lids heavy, they closed. Faces I didn’t recognize appeared. They whispered change and undefined danger.

My eyes flew open.

“No, child,” Gram said. “Look back into the candle. Breathe, let your eyes close, thoughts take wings like the birds in the sky.”

I followed her instruction. The faces appeared, whispering. Change and danger vibrated through my subconscious.

“What is the voice saying to you?” Gram said.

“Lots of voices. Only two words. Change, and danger.” I opened my eyes. “Gram, I really should stop this. Mom doesn’t approve.”

“Oh, pooh on what your mother thinks. You have a gift. You need to use it. Besides, she thinks and says a lot of things that don’t make sense.”

I spent Sunday mornings with Mom and Daddy at church, but in the late afternoon, I went to Gram’s and we practiced the ‘gift of sight’. That’s what Gram called it. Mom called it craziness and delusional visions.

Gram did her best to teach me the Tarot and tea leaf readings. I didn’t care much for that stuff, though. Too complicated. Most of the time, she had me stare at a candle flame and quiet myself so I could hear what the other world had to say. This didn’t overwhelm me, and I did it well.

Gram spread the Tarot deck out in front of me. “Okay, child, run your hands over the deck. Concentrate. Where ever you feel energy, pick a card.”

I squeezed my eyes shut and ran my hands over the deck.

An energy started at the top of my head and it flowed down to my fingertips, my skin goose bumped when I slid my hands to the right. I picked up a card, opened my eyes, and laid it down.

“The Tower card,” Gram said. “The card of change.”

“Okay, what does that mean?” I asked.

“Close your eyes and concentrate again, and let the energy tell you which other card to pick.”

This time, picking the card was faster. I opened my eyes and looked at the card. The face of the Pagan Horned God, The Devil covered it. It gave me the creeps. It could only mean something bad.

“Oh my, child,” Gram said. “Your cross is being enslaved. But that’s because you allow it, dear.” She pointed to my chest. “Somewhere inside there is the power to break any chains that bind you, today and in the future. This includes breaking the apron strings your mother has you tied to.”

Right. How am I supposed to do that. “Uh-huh.”

“Pick another card.”

This time, I kept my eyes open and ran my hands quickly over the deck. One of the corners of a card was bent upward and nudged me. “This one.”

I flipped it up. A dead man with ten swords in his back. It was terrible, and it frightened me. Someone will kill me, or I’ll come close to dying.

Gram let out a painful sounding sigh. “Oh, my. Sometimes everything goes wrong.” She nodded. “Change and danger are definitely coming your way.” She pushed her chair back and doubled over, hands grabbing her stomach.

I stood. “Gram, are you okay?”

“Of course. It’s just my bladder. I have one of those UTIs. I’ve been taking medicine from the doctor for it.” She stood but staying bent a hand on her belly. “I think we’ll call it a night.” She backed further away from the table and stood with a wince. “Call your mother to come get you, child. I’m going to lie down.”


“Remember to pay attention to your dreams, Lila. Pay attention to the voice inside you.” She smiled. “I’ll always be near watching over you.” She cupped my chin and kissed my cheek. “And be a good girl.” She winced again, pressing a hand hard against her stomach, and sucking in air. She exhaled and said, “And bring Julio next time. I like that boy. He’s got manners and a bright future. Your Mom’s full of pooh about him, too.”

She turned and walked toward her bedroom.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Last Snippet From “Secondhand Shoes”


This will be the last snippet of Secondhand Shoes….well…maybe for Regina I’ll post a snippet on Gram for Wednesday. For anyone else if you haven’t read any of the snippets you’ll have to go back and read the other three to understand what is going on.

Mom spun, pulled half a dozen tissues from the box on the vanity next to the full-length mirror, and shoved them into my hand. “Now fix your face.” Out of nowhere, her face softened. “Let’s go.” Her voice sweetened. “People are waiting.”

Mom turned on her heel but stopped, looked at me and said, “You know that I love you and want what’s best for you. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. Why do you think we spent so much money putting you in private school?” After a second, she turned and marched out of the bridal room, leaving the door open behind her.

The man I called Daddy from the time I was four stood with his head down. He looked up and, taking a tissue from my hand, wiped my face.

“Your mother’s probably half-right, you know, honey. It’s nothing more than nerves.” I don’t think he believed this, but how else could he justify his wife’s actions. It irked me, but I didn’t let him see it. Maybe one day when I’m all grown up, I thought.

I nodded as I choked back more tears.

My Daddy gave me a small smile. “That’s my pretty girl. Now blow your nose, and fix your make-up, and I’ll walk you to your groom.”

I blew my nose and fixed my make-up as I thought of my real dad. I wished he could be here today. I jostled my brain trying to remember if I addressed an invitation to him. I know that I did because I tucked a note in with the wedding invitation. That note read:

Dear Dad:

I know that you and Mom don’t get along. But, I would love to have you walk me down the aisle along with my stepdad. I feel so lucky to have two dads in my life even though I haven’t seen you since I was ten. I don’t know why you haven’t come to see me or call but I would love to see you on my wedding day. Please come.



Mom promised that she mailed out the invitation and note. The week before the wedding Mom placed a yellow post it note on my bedroom door while I was at work. That note read:

Your father is not coming to the wedding. He never received the invitation.

I tried calling him but got his answering machine instead. I left several messages for him to call back. He never did according to Mom.

Mom voiced later in that week that my sister Katy may have intercepted his mail. “Maybe she ripped it up and threw it away. She’s a hideous child that never should’ve been born, you know.” A comment we all heard from the time Katy had turned three.

Finishing my lipstick, my Daddy put out his forearm and smiled. “Are you ready now, honey?”

No. I entwined my arm in his and looked into his amber puppy eyes. We were both Mom’s captives doing her bidding.

“Of course.” Another hiccup freed itself. At least something got to be free. Too bad I can’t be a stomach bubble today. Too bad I can’t float away somewhere.

We walked out of the church’s bridal room and into a long dark corridor. Something shadowy waltzed ahead of us. Silence echoed in the passage to the sanctuary.

Flashbacks of my dream raced around in my head. I could see myself in a mall void of people. Lights dimmed from front to back. I pushed on a glass door. Locked. At full body weight I shoved myself into it. Nothing happened. Not even the slightest movement of air came inside.

I lowered my head and walked toward an escalator. Still and silent it sat. I looked up to the top of it. I saw nothing but an eerie glow. Curious, I lifted my long white dress and took the first step onto it. It jerked and made a humming noise.

The escalator went from unsteady to a smooth glide. I took a few more steps up. Something black and sharp nicked my forehead. A surge of black pointed objects hurled themselves at me. I crossed my arms in front of my face. This lasted seconds.

Something bony and dry touched my hand. The stench of sulfur and death filled my nostrils. I peeked through my arms and gulped down a lump of fear, suppressing a scream. Bulged eyes in rotting sockets looked back at me. Pieces of ash-colored skin hung in clumps below its cheeks and chin. It tilted its head from side to side and groaned. I jumped out of its way, and my long white dress got caught under my foot. I clung to the rail, and it walked along side of me in the opposite direction of the escalator’s destination. More of these zombie-looking creatures came toward me, and a gush of wind hurled tiny pointed objects at me. They bit into my flesh while I continued up toward the light.

The sound of organ music brought me back to reality as my Daddy and I walked closer to my fate.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

“Another Snippet from Secondhand Shoes”


Hopefully, you read the first snippet. If not, go back back and read it. Enjoy!

Daddy stepped away from me and raised his hand in a calming gesture, something he did when he tried to take a stand against Mom. In the fourteen years they’d been married, Mom won the battles. All of them. The land mines that she planted in our home were too much for him to contend with, and he’d backed down.

Daddy looked at her. “Lila has something to tell you.”

Mom jammed her fists on her hips. “What is it?”

“I don’t want to marry Max.”Where the words came from, I didn’t know. I certainly hadn’t taken bravery pills.

Mom’s gray eyes narrowed.

If she goes to slap me, I’ll grab her wrist mid-go. Maybe. If I’m fast enough. Speed is the key here.

“What do you mean you don’t want to marry Max? There are two hundred and fifty people waiting out there. I spent twenty-five hundred dollars on the caterers, which, if you’ll recall, can’t be refunded. I put a lot of time into looking for your dress and shoes. You have bridal nerves, that’s all.”

I hiccupped and shifted my feet.

“It’s not bridal nerves, Mom. Don’t you remember the dream that I had?”

Tears welled up in my eyes again, and my throat went dry.

“Don’t start with that dream nonsense.” She threw her hands up in the air.

This time I flinched. I thought for sure she’d hit me, but she didn’t. Unusual.

“No, you have bridal nerves, and you’re getting married. So don’t start your nonsense and ruin your chance at having a husband.”


Mom stepped closer to me and put her finger in my face.

I lowered my head. She’d never fought with just words.

“Do you want your future husband to find out that you’re certifiably nuts before the ink is dry?”

“But my dream was trying to warn me.”

“Lila, your dream is proof that you’re nuts. Not to mention, you see people that no one else does.” She chuckled. “It’s as if you think you’re a psychic or something. Your Gram filled your head with this foolishness. I guess she wanted you to be a fool like your father.” She annunciated it with anger, spewing spit out of her mouth.

Daddy put his hand on Mom’s shoulder. “Dear, she shouldn’t go through---.”

“You stay out of this. She’s not your daughter.”

Daddy slouched. Defeat stretched across his face and seeped through his eyes. That’s all she had to say. Remind him that I’m not his biological daughter. I know it pained him.

Verging on hysteria, I fell into my Mom. “But, I can’t, Mom, please. This should’ve been me and Julio’s day.” Immediately I pressed my lips together. This comment earned me a good whack.

She grabbed my arms hard and pushed me back instead. “Now stop this Julio and dream nonsense. Do you think you’re the only bride who panics at the altar? You’re not. Pull yourself together and act like the lady I raised you to be. This is your wedding day.”

I twisted free from Mom’s grip. What could I say at this point? My mouth opened to speak, but nothing came out. I thought twice about it. People were here, and I didn’t want to embarrass myself. They’d take her side anyway. I’m sure she’s told all of them how crazy I am. She would do that.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Snippet From My Novel “Secondhand Shoes”

florida woods

I thought over the course of this and next week, I’d post snippets from, my novel Secondhand Shoes, from Chapter One.

Lila is eighteen years old and everywhere she goes her Gram goes but…Gram is dead. Lila is a psychic/medium that doesn’t listen to her own intuition. She’s bullied by her mother to break up with the one she loves to marry an undesirable guy(a drug thug).

On the way to the honeymoon destination they stop off at a diner. It is there that Lila decides after an argument that there is no way she can have sex with this guy. She takes off with the wedding cash, still dressed in her wedding gown and shoes to the bathroom. There she escapes with Gram close by, out the bathroom window into the Ocala, Florida woods…..

Second Thoughts November 12, 1983

I stood in front of the full-length mirror. Black mascara streaked my tear stained cheeks. A hiccup escaped in the midst of a long sigh. I ran my fingers under the high lacey neckline, and scratched.

My reflection squirmed in the A-line wedding dress. The lacey neckline and sleeves of the dress made me itch. Taffeta made up the bodice and lower half of the dress. My chest, shoulders and neck itched something fierce. I hated the dress. I felt artificial. I thought I looked like a Wedding Day Barbie doll with two black eyes.

My Mom, Babs bought the dress at a bridal shop auction in Georgia a couple of months ago without me. Proud of herself, Mom went on for weeks about paying only: one hundred and sixty dollars for a new wedding gown. I never had a say in it.

The pretty-white shoes were covered in lace with three inch heels. But, they were a half-size too small. The backs dug into my heels and the fronts squeezed my toes. I hopped from foot to foot trying to find relief.

Mom found the shoes at a secondhand bridal boutique and brought them home to me. They cost eight dollars.

My mother picked the wedding day, and the groom, too. She’s never been one to give me an opportunity to speak.

I swiped at my tears and picked up a hand-mirror on a near-by table to see the back of my head. My headpiece slid midway into my blonde curls, and I adjusted the pearlized combs.

My stepdad, Howard opened the door wide enough to poke his head into the small room the church set aside for brides. He smiled and asked “Are you ready?”

He looked handsome in his black tuxedo, even though his belly hung over his pants. He smoothed back his salt-and-pepper hair, and his usually droopy eyes twinkled.

The mirror reflected that he walked into the room smiling, came up behind me and put his hands on my shoulder. “Lila, you look---.” He fixed his eyes on my runny eye make-up and gave me a wary look. “You look lovely.” He forced out the words. “Seems like yesterday, you were six and falling off your bike. Scraping your knees. And then I’d have to pick you up and carry you into the house to wipe away your tears and put iodine on your scrapes.”

I bowed my head, and my lips quivered. Daddy did his best to make light of a terrible situation.

My mind shouted at me before he spoke again. It shouted and shouted Julio’s name. It shouted that this day should’ve been ours. My brain went into tantrum mode, but I bit my tongue. I knew Mom considered Julio a moot subject and Daddy shied away from it.

“I hope those are tears of happiness, sweet angel?”

He knew better.

I shook my head. “Oh, Daddy I can’t marry Max. It’s all wrong.” Julio jumped into my head. I shouldn’t have broken up with him.

He pulled me to his chest. Cuddling my head against his shoulder like he did when I was little. “Did you tell your mother, this?”

“You know that would bring doom on me.” Mom’s wooden spoon crossed my mind. She never leaves home without it. “Couldn’t you do it?”

He patted my back. “Honey, she’s only doing what she thinks is best for you. You know how she is?”

I lifted my head from his shoulder. “But I’ve only known him three months and I’m barely eighteen. I should’ve taken your advice. I should be allowed to make my own decisions.” I pulled at the high lacey neckline to scratch my neck again. “My stomach’s upset.”

Daddy grabbed a bunch of tissues from a Kleenex box nearby and wiped at the smeared make-up on my face. “Do your best to convey this to your mother. I’m right here, sweet girl.”

A lot of good that would do. Daddy’s never done a great job at standing up to her. I wished he had the guts to do it for me.

The door to the bridal room flew open, hitting the wall. Mom barged in, and the door bounced shut with a click. Her hair looking more fiery red than usual and her eyes piercing, she said, “Why are you still here? You should’ve been out there five minutes ago.” She cocked her left brow at both of us. Her eyebrows were painted on. It was a grimace-inducing sight when she cocked sans paint from a barren forehead. Prone to neuroses about her appearance, she pulled all her eyebrows out lest they wild-hair on her.

Thank God she didn’t come with her weapon. Quick, I looked around but saw nothing she could grab to swat with.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mercury in Retrograde Affects Me



Okay. I know, you are scratching your heads now.

The other day I received a letter on a short story I wrote and edited myself. For some reason, I have massive issues checking my own work. To be honest, I suck at it. Can’t see through the forest kind of suck at it.

It embarrassed me to read that I didn’t know the difference between a proper noun and a plain ole noun. My insides cried out, “But I do. I really do. Gee. I’m sorry.” Clunk me in my forehead. Dufus.

Issues in my writing do exist, I still can’t figure out when to capitalize ‘mom’ and ‘dad’. The rule boggles my brains.

Repeating words is another problem.

Sometimes I can’t tell the difference between telling and showing in my stuff. Pop me in the forehead, again.

There are days I wonder why I can’t just write the story and let the powers that be figure out all the nitty-gritty stuff that makes my eye-brains cross. I’m a STORY WRITER.That’s all. I’m no genius and right now I can’t blame this on the Wicked Witch of the West or her Flying Monkeys. It’s Mercury in retrograde.

And everybody asked, “What the hell is that, Shelly?”

For one, Mercury is a planet in the Solar System-in case you didn’t know.

Retrograde is where the planet has the illusion or actually is orbiting backwards. When this happens, it affects all written and verbal communications. More accidents and arguments happen. Any contract signed, will not stand the test of time. Appliances, computers and cars break down. It can cause real havoc in any ones’ life, like mine.

But, it can also be a time to re-do and edit anything we’ve written. It gives us a chance to fix the piece of doo-doo we may have created, like me. The retro started on December 10th and will last until December 30th, plus five days after.

Mercury goes retro three to four times a year.

Mercury retrogrades for 2011:

March 30 – April 23

August 2 -  August 26

November 24 – December 13

Now that you’ve been warned, I’ll be able to sleep without tossing and turning tonight.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Conspiracy Theories: Bible Prophecy, Mayan 2012, and the Christmas Bombers

The other day, believe it not, I was thinking(scratching my chin and eye-squinting type thinking). Boy. People are really going to be freaking out by next Christmas. 2012. Wonder if there will be another bomb set off somewhere in the world. Scratch….scratch….scratch. Revelation. Okay, I think I’ve linked some things. We Americans might be in some deep doo-doo.

Remember these?


They belonged to this guy:


The guy who wore a bomb in the crotch of his underwear. The one who intended to sacrifice his “willy”(how was he going to use it on his seventy-two virgins totally beats me) along with innocent people flying on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, on the way from Amsterdam to Detroit, on Christmas day 2009. Yeah. That one. Umar Farowk Abdulmutallab.

Okay then. Remember these people?


These people are the innocent townspeople of Portland, Oregon. They had no idea a car bomb waited to kapowi their beloved Christmas tree, not long after Thanksgiving 2010. Because of this guy:


Mohamed Osman Mohamud

So, Shelly was thinking there might be some serious dots to connect here with two other things that are weighing heavy on her mind, the Mayan 2012 thing and  Revelation 17 and 18.


Revelation, because we Americans are referred by these terrorists as “The Great Infidel” and in Revelation there is a nation referred to as “The Whore”.

Now, I probably have some of you scratching your heads and where the sun doesn’t shine but I’m getting to it, okay. I’m thinking. This is a little like algebra for me, but I see the answer.

In Revelation 17:15 it says, Then he said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the whore is sitting, are peoples, crowds, nations, and languages. 16 As for the ten horns that you saw and the beast, they will hate the whore, bring her to ruin, leave her naked, eat her flesh and consume her with fire (America’s been loosing her clout).

Then you go over to Revelation 18.

Revelation 18:8 Therefore, her plagues will come in a single day- death, sorrow, and famine; and she will be burned with fire…et al.

Which brings me to my next point.


December 21, 2012.

What if the Christmas bombers succeed in pulling off something really big like nuking America on this day? Wiping only Americans and their country off the face of the earth. All they need is one day.

It’s just a brain fart guys. Kinda like fart writing.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Behind the Chair: Tipping Your Hairdresser



Tipping. Hmmf. This subject is not an easy one for me since I’m a hairdresser by trade but its important. A lot of hairdressers today work for corporate companies(Fantastic Sams, Smart Style, Super Cuts…) meaning they are paid minimum wage. The ones that don’t work for these companies struggle as well. Especially since these hairdressers rent their space and buy their own products to use on their clients, it can be difficult. These guys and gals rely on their tips to feed their families and pay their bills. Your tip is important since its how they make their money.

The guys and gals that do your hair, also pay for the up keep of their own equipment, their education, and their licensing. It costs them to keep everything maintained in order to provide you with a great hair style and its impossible to do this without your tips.

I know, the economy is in the tank but would you like to keep the stylist you have, forever? For years, I’ve watched hairdressers hop from shop to shop because they couldn’t make the money they needed. The corporate owned shops see you as their client not the hairdressers. So when they leave no one will tell you where they went, they’re not allowed.

I remember eating peanut butter and milk at one time because of minimum wage, and no one bothered to tip. It’s not a good thing to have someone suffering from low blood sugar working on your hair (scissors are dangerous all by themselves).

So please tip your hairdresser that’s how they make their money. A lot of them still have beauty school loans to pay off. It’s not a cheap venture even though our status in life has been cheapened.

Yes, we understand it’s a gesture of kindness but it’s also how we make our money.

How much should I tip?

That depends on the type of service.

Haircuts only $2.00 to $5.00

Shampoo and cut $5.00

Shampoo, cut, and style $5.00 or more

Perm or Color $10.00 or more

Once again, the writer of this blog understands that tipping is out of kindness. But, please take into consideration that your hairdresser depends on your tip to thrive.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Three Things I Learned This Week


Proper Time to Contact Agent/Publisher

My husband’s been driving me nuts ever since I sent off my manuscript to Wiley-Merrick Literary Agency. That was the second week in November after I painstakingly copied and pasted each chapter into one document (Oh, no Toto and Flying monkeys. Lots of them. I thought I’d strangle my computer over it).

“Have you heard yet?” he asked(he’s a chronic nag).

“Nope,” I said.

“When do you expect to hear anything?”

“Nothing for a while.”

“Can’t you call?” he asked.

“Not unless you want my novel to be pushed back further,” I said hoping, he’ll get the message. It’s all about patience.

It’s a good thing I’m the writer in the family and the hairdresser (his hairdresser of 25 years butchered his neckline a couple times before my hubby decided to come to me…it’s a way that hairdressers get rid of a nagging client…don’t let them know I informed you all of such). Yes, do not piss of your hairdresser like do not piss off the agents and publishers. They will teach you a lesson you will never forget.

To be honest, at the times (many times) that he has pestered me, I didn’t know what the proper agent-etiquette deal was. So I called my editor this week. The proper waiting period is three months and two weeks. Those were the exact words. So I’m looking at February before I hear or they hear from me. Patience is good.

Windows Live Writer


This popped up in my box sometime last week. It’s a blog writer (guess that’s the proper name for it). For some reason when it identified itself on my computer screen, I clicked on it thankful it wasn’t a virus (clicked on one of those before without thinking…kapowi…killed my hard drive). The angels heard me all the way from heaven and sent it to me making my life easier. Now I can post pictures, too . But, I still need to read my manual on my digital camera on how to save my photos. Time.

Speaking of time leads me to the next thing I learned(wrote that one on my grocery list this morning).

I’m an Anal-Retentive Time Keeper

Yup. I am. Last night I blocked out time to beta read and edit this morning for a fellow writer. Blocked out time to write but…

“Honey, come snuggle with me,” my hubby said. Well, he more like whined it.

Yup. He tempted me with his warm-harry-chubbykin-body to hop back into bed, and it worked. And if that didn’t work, his dimples did. They come out when he smiles. Another coaxing mechanism. Besides, when it’s in the fifties in Florida it’s like being in the teens to us (Okay, enough of the x-rated stuff…No-No edits my blogs for me so she’s already grossed out).

Afterward, I cooked. Oatmeal. Egg white and turkey scramble. Applesauce pumpkin muffins. Okay. Yeah. I got sidetracked form my original schedule. But really, I schedule two hours on my work days for writing, four hours on my off days, thirty minutes to read other blogs and respond, thirty minutes to beta read, thirty minutes to edit. Everyday I schedule house chores, cooking, laundry….you name I schedule it. And like my hubby gets cranky when things are out of place, I get cranky when I don’t follow my schedule.

And right now, I’m a cranky Shelly-bear.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Conspiracy Theories: Why I Question Authority



I thought I’d share one of my many vivid dreams…maybe it’s more like a nightmare.

My back plunged into a cold stonewall, knocking the air out of me. I blinked a couple of times thinking my imagination worked overtime when a snake-like creature whirled around to face me. I gulped in a gob of air, held it, and watched the creature slink toward me, within inches of my face. Sweat beaded across my forehead and my heart pounded. Oh. My. God. It had the face of a man. A face I knew. A face I saw in many paintings. Jesus.

But, his eyes were large and round. His pupils were slits like a lizard. A long fork-like tongue slithered between his lips. Wings spread out from the creature’s back hovering over his head. A crown of thorns rested a top his man-like head, and beads of blood trickled down his cheeks. His snake like body moved in S-formations before me.

“I’m not Jesus.” This thing read my thoughts. “But, I AM the I AM,” it hissed.

I swallowed another chunk of air, held onto it for about thirty seconds, and then let out a loud gasp. I pressed my body hard into the cold wall trying to push through it. Charcoal and sulfur wafted from the creature’s mouth.

“No one can save you,” he said, and then slid around me some more. “There is no God and Jesus to save you.” Two arms appeared from out of nowhere making him look more like a man and scooped me up into his arms. “You and I are destined to make a new future for planet earth.”

His voice sounded familiar .

“This is my world, my earth, my domain,” he said. “The earth is my footstool and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.” He grinned squeezing me tight against his nasty-smooth-snake body.

I froze in its arms, and in some far distant place an alarm sounded.

After, I jumped out of my bed and ran to the computer, typed in snake and reptiles on Google (oops…shouldn’t have done that..they’re onto me now). The words lead me to New World Order, shadow governments, and so forth and so on. And all of this, lead me to the next three fellows:

david icke

David Icke. Yeah. He is a bit strange with his belief that all the powers that be are all reptilians from another planet (well, politicians and such are blood suckers no matter how you look at it, and for the most part we are pretty much at their mercy). But, there are a lot of intelligent things that he says, too. Like, the human mind is a computer. Makes sense amongst other things but that can be another blog.



Alex Jones. Yep. I know. Another weird dude. I know what you are all thinking now (Shelly’s completely lost it). But, he’s in the watchtower every day peeling the layers of crap off the bills that none of us have time to read.



Jessie Ventura. Yeah, well…he was a governor once. That ought to say something.

Anyway, I’ll probably post more about this topic. It’s one of my favorites. And yes, Shelly questions all authority. It started when I realized my parents lied to me about Santa and the Easter Bunny.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Behind the Chair: Children in the Hair Salon


My day job that supports me until I become a paid published author is a hair dresser, beautician, stylist, barber, or what I like to be called, a hair lopper. And this hair lopper sees a lot of children, and tagging behind are their bewildered parents. Not all come in bewildered but most. Some come in all scowl faced and breathing fire while their little darlings run in the shop, and tackle the product shelves. Few are attentive in a calm and assertive(love these parents) way reasoning with their little monkeys(yes, children are a lot like monkeys…I gave birth to five daughters that ran me ragged. I learned not all girls are docile, especially mine. That could be another blog).

From behind my chair, I have watched children run up and down the waiting area of the salon, flip off and on the lights, crawl under the chairs, open and close the front door (a bell rings each time), and I have even seen children attempt to climb our product shelves. While all of these antics are going on, the bewildered parent sits and giggles, or ignores what their children are doing (OMG-I would be crawling under the chairs to hide if my children acted like that).

Now the fire breathing parents…well, they are almost as loud as their screaming darlings. The fire breather blurts out whatever obscenity comes to mind at their children. Now that will teach them some manners(OMG-PLEASE…I feel a head ache coming on, right about now). The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Rudeness begets rudeness.

When the little monkeys finally get to my chair or any of the other stylists’ chairs, it becomes the battle of the wills(quite frankly, its not my job to force the little buggers to get a hair cut). They will achieve not getting a hair cut by screaming, kicking (yes, I’ve been kicked in my shins), spitting, wiggling, ripping off their cape…these little monkeys are true combat geniuses. I say this because at a certain point I am done, and let me tell you why.

  1. My scissors are like a filet knife. They will cut down to the bone or lop of an earlobe(I’ve cut my own knuckle off before because of a wiggling child).
  2. My clippers without its guard can chew into your child’s skin causing him some more damage.
  3. If I’m spraying a detangling spray into their hair, it may end up in their eyes and it does burn.
  4. If you want your child to have a perfect hair cut, they need to sit still. Hair cutting is a two-way street…can’t make the hair perfect if squirming is going on.

So, the next time one of you parents refer to a hairdresser as a moron to their face, please rethink that statement. We are considering the safety issues here. We would like to make your child’s salon experience a pleasant one, not a traumatic one.

Last, as a mother of five daughters, I write these suggestions from experience only to alleviate any trauma or misbehavior your child displays in the salon.

  1. Make sure your child has eaten a balanced meal before coming. Don’t bring them when they are hungry.
  2. Make sure they have napped.
  3. If your child refuses to calm down, take him or her outside. Walk them around. There’s no need for obscenities.
  4. If we refuse to cut your child’s hair it’s not because we are being mean. The safety of the child is the issue.

Please take these into consideration when you consider taking your child or children to a salon.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Thoughts on the Book: Among Other Edens by Guinevere Edern

Genre: Horror/Paranormal Fantasy

This is on the back of this book:

“Bend your blood to my mouth.”

…and he does, yielding toward my urge to take the blood that comes. I push further, his blood warm, taking my mouth, my tongue, my chin, and the flesh of my neck, and I am so thankful he gives himself to me like this. In flesh, in blood, in my mouth, into my throat and into my soul at last, flowing, streaming into me.

And I drink, I drink, and he pushes me closer to him, holding me captive to his release, the pressure of his stare urging me to take this vital fluid. And I do, God forgive me but I want this and tilt my head slightly, better access there. I swallow each essential drop as it leaves his body, entering mine in a long, slow drink.

Removing the hand from its position at the back of my head, he traces a pathway down the side of my neck, slow to my shoulders where it rests, grazing the surface of my skin, and splintering white light through the blackness.

The other hand lies against my breastbone, massaging that strip of flesh running between. He is reaching in and in, searching for, finding, and finally touching my soul.

Murder, lies, suicide, and betrayal. There is an entity in Evelyn Edern’s head and it’s unearthing a past best forgotten. Is Evelyn mad, or are her thoughts just pure evil.

The writer of this story, Guinevere Edern, takes you on a picturesque journey through Wales while she tells you the story of Evelyn Edern.

The main character, Evelyn Edern is a twenty year old woman who lives at home with her mum. Right away one empathizes with her situation being thought of as “Evil Evie”, subjected to abuse, both physical and mental, and given to a role of Cinderella. Her mum keeps her busy scrubbing and cooking.

Evie has a love for literature and is in possession of the book entitled, “History of English Literature.” It is in this book that she comes across the name Taliesin who she admits, doesn’t exist. She also has love for John Keats poetry.

Prone to heavy sleeping pill use, she wishes for death to take her. But, Taliesin, who refers to himself as “The Storyteller”, comes to her, a Knight in Shining Armor that resides in her head.

I don’t wish to give the story away, but I’ll finish with this last tidbit. The writer did a fabulous job leaving me to wonder if the poor girl went mad from her sufferings and needed an escape, or perhaps a demon was trying to take possession of her, and at times I found my self wondering if Taliesin was real.

To date, I still wonder since this is the first book of a series. I’m looking forward to reading the next one “Strange Heaven”. You can find an excerpt at:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner: Mom's Famous Marinara and Pasta Sauce

I’m going to make it short since time is merely a small corner this week (I’ve been trapped into a very tight schedule). I just love the holidays. They bring everything into perspective. They have a way of making you appreciate your parents, no matter their discrepancies.

At this time of year, it takes me back to my Mom’s house at Thanksgiving time. I thought I would share a story centered around her cooking habits-- seeing as they were different from most households. Total yum for the tum (my brow is waggling).

Thanksgiving at our house smelled of a different scent, not the usual turkey roasting in the oven, stuffing, and sweet potatoes. Something burnt wafted throughout house instead.

When guests would come to the house for dinner, she would serve her “Famous Marinara Sauce and Pasta” (waggle, waggle goes the brows).

Mom would sit and scoot herself up to the table.“Now, Charlie isn’t that the best spaghetti you’ve ever had?” I can still hear her voice in my head. It was the same statement to each and every house guest subjected to her pasta and sauce.

Half-way into his first forkful what could Charlie do? Chew, smile, and nod, eventually he said, “Definitely.” He looked around at the others sitting at the table telepathically crying for help.

“You want to know my recipe?” Mom asked.

“Sure,” he said, scratching behind one of his ears (the usual response).

“It’s real simple,” Mom said, “You brown hamburger in the Crockpot. Then you salt and pepper it. Then you add tomato sauce and tomato paste along with one cup of sugar with a couple dashes of red pepper flakes. And you let it cook all day.”

Charlie choked several times before he fumbled for his ice water. The rest of the guests set their forks down or swirled them in their mushy pasta, pushing it from one side of the plate to the other.

“You all ready for dessert?” she’d ask after about twenty minutes into the dinner. Sometimes I wondered if she set out to torture friends and family with her delicacies but dessert should cool the frightening main course that we all partook in (we’d hope for it anyway).

My Stepfather would say, “What’s for dessert, dear?” His ears would perk up reminding me of a Saint Bernard(no pun intended, but he is a saint to put up with Mom’s cooking and he does remind me of a big lovable dog).

“Cheesecake.” The word came halfway out of her mouth before dashing into the kitchen to retrieve her sweet treat. “And it took me half the day to prepare, and five hours to bake.”(My brows waggle more.) She never divulged the secret ingredients.

Everyone around the table sat waiting in anticipation of possibly engorging themselves since they had hardly eaten the “Famous Marinara Sauce and Pasta” dish.

Mom rushed back into the dining room humming and placed the confection in the middle of the table. She looked at the thing like it was one of her newborn babies, proud of her masterpiece with pure love beaming from her eyes.

It looked like a cheesecake until Mom stuck a knife into it. The middle sunk, all liquid-like. Yup. Cheesecake soup to be precise, smothering crumbled graham crackers.

To me it tasted a little bit like raw eggs.

Anyway to end this story, my Stepfather spent most of his evenings after any of Mom’s dinners in the bathroom, and whatever guests attended any of the dinners, made a mad dash to the door.

As for me, my poor stomach burned with nightmares most nights growing up.

Well, anywho… Happy Thanksgiving All!!

Happy Writing!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Thoughts on the Book, "You Can Write a Novel"

I know, I’m late posting my Monday blog. Oh, the joys of working in the corporate world where they mess around with your schedule meeting their needs, not yours. Ho hum, grumble, grumble.

Anyway, Tuesday is as good as Monday to post a blog, and I have the day off to ponder thoughts. To balance my check book. To clean the downstairs. To clean the inside windows and blinds. Oh, and can’t forget, clean out the lower kitchen cupboards. But, I’m sure you all didn’t come to read about my ‘To-Do’ list for the day, don’t want to wear anyone out doing that.

Instead, I’d like to share about a book I’ve been reading on writing, “You Can Write a Novel”, by James V. Smith, Jr. Okay, it’s a really good book for you organized freaks, something I’m not. My taste is more to the organized chaos thing, making something totally from nothing, go with the flow, let your characters do all the work while you sit on your hiney (your bum, booty, buttocks…), listen, type, stop, listen and type some more. That is totally me.

However, I have to say I did find some things helpful like keeping profiles on your characters. Of course, this lover of organized chaos found some of it too full of systematized dread, like going through magazines and cutting out pictures of people that may resemble your characters.Really? Oh my God(I don't think so), that’s too much like couponing for me. That would take up too many hours. But, I do have notes and bios on some of my new characters. That’s a good thing because sometimes when I ‘Fart Write’ I do forget what they look like. Sometimes(my hubby still says I'm a perfect candidate for Alzhiemers).

When it came to Scene Development…well, I tried and whatever creativity that lingered in my head went on a temporary vacation. It’s not my thing. If anything, it confused me more leaving me with empty-head-syndrome, a bad case of Writer’s Block. Talk about zoning out in pain. It hurt my brain. It really did. Some of us do better without conformity.

Another useful thing Mr. Smith says to use is a Chapter Log. This I can do, but not before I’ve actually written that chapter. It does help to keep me on track so I don’t forget what I wrote about in previous chapters. When I wrote my first novel, I did get lost the further I delved into it and found myself reading the darned thing over and over, the epitome of organized chaos.

He also advices writing your ending chapter first. Tried too, but it wouldn’t come. Like I said, it’s my characters that run with it, I’m just there to type whatever they want me, too. Now there have been times when my characters call an emergency conference because they’re stuck in the Droopy Middle of their story telling, they do get bored sometimes, you know.

In my last novel, the main character really wanted to have a live make out session with her sweetie, which by the way was a good portion of the end. If I were her, I would be sick of running from bad guys, too, and would need something like a dark chocolate bar (the closest thing to an orgasm for me). Okay, so I let her have a little cheat by going to the end, and after, we were able to finish the middle all the way toward the end. Everybody was happy.

All in all, I found a lot of what Mr. Smith said to be helpful. My best advice for any writer that attends workshops or reads books on the ‘How to of the Craft”, is to keep what works for you, be it an Organized Freaky system or an Organized Chaotic Freaky one.

Happy Writing All!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Is My Butt Too Big?

Other than exercising my fingers across a keyboard, I do exercise my butt off. You see, I suffer from thoughts that my butt is too big. From experience behind the salon chair, it is a topic that comes up many times, and it’s not JUST my problem.

“Do you think my butt is too big?” This question plagues the American woman. Sometimes I think it’s a syndrome. Never know, it could be. Maybe that’s why the Muslim women where tents. You can’t see any fat hanging from their bodies when covered head to toe.

And why do women of color look good with voluptuous bottoms? And those Latin girls, too? What’s the deal? How come they can get away with eating fried chicken, waffles, and tacos? Not fair for us white girls. Not to mention, they have no problem squeezing themselves into skin tight clothing. Not me. The looser the better for fear I’d become a feast for the homeless if they caught sight of any cottage cheese hanging on my backend.

Maybe cellulite is the answer to world hunger. Maybe its not a bad idea to eat McDonald’s fattening fare. Eat. Be happy. Get lipo, and send your fat to Africa. That would be the American way, right? It beats working out five days a week.

And speaking of working out, I’ve learned the true purpose for certain moves. They are the following:

Butt Kickers: Remind you to be thankful that you don’t have to reach too far behind to reach your big booty like the skinny girls do.

High Knees: Its good practice for when you’re not in that special mood like your husband usually is-keep your knees high and your feet close to your Hoo-hoo area. When he goes to hop on it, knee him a good one. Especially since the sick headache excuse doesn’t really work.

Jump Rope: This could be a hazard to your health. If you have a well endowed chest you could end up with two black eyes. If you are well endowed from behind, you may discover that gravity plus your weight will keep your feet close to the ground causing you to trip and fall over that rope.

Jumping Jacks: Don’t do this in front of a mirror. Your upper arms may recognize you and wave back.

Happy writing all!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Multi-tasking: Listening and Writing

My work area is the kitchen table since I was kicked out of my office months ago. No-No, my twenty-one year old moved back in so she could attend college without all the added responsibilities. And, its caused a few problems.

One, my husband, Aron is what you call anal retentive. He has tendencies to organize and alphabetize our cupboards. File, and put things away, and trashes my babble notebooks throughout the house. In his mind, anything that resembles clutter must go.

He’s not happy that I use the top of the older dog’s box to stack manuscripts for editing, how-to-write books, research for articles, and pen cups in plain sight for the whole world to see. It’s not like we have guests. The most guests that get invited are my fiction characters, and they don’t seem to mind my organizational skills. If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind. I wouldn’t be able to find anything if I lived with everything hidden in a file drawer.

Problem two, my daughter. When she needs to talk she needs to talk and since our work schedules don’t match, she catches me when she can. And, last night was one of them between dishing out microwave popcorn and Mott’s Applesauce to trick-or-treaters.

It went something like this:

I sit toward the window to keep an eye on the costumed kiddies, and she plops right across from me with tears rolling down her cheeks. Lions, tigers, and bears!

“Mom,” she said. “I’m so depressed.

My hands run across the keyboards considering what word should I use.

“Uh-huh,” I said, trying to be the compassionate Mom.

“What am I going to do about Moshe?” That’s her Facebook boyfriend that she’s only seen once. What her fascination is, I don’t know. Met him once and wasn’t impressed. Man of the two word sentence coupled with a fishy handshake.

Should I use the word, pile or heap. I look past her shoulder. My eyes were probably glazing over trying to keep up with my thoughts and what she had to say. A loud sigh escaped me.

“I know you’re working, but he’s really upset me. And, when I told him I needed to talk to him about our problems, he texted me back with this message.” She held up her phone. It read: Going to take a nap.

My fingers tapped at the keyboard, and then pecked one letter at a time. My thoughts have now been totally interrupted now. Whatever thoughts I concentrated on had left. Gone. Poof. Obliberated from eistence. Guess the Wicked Witch used my daughter this time instead of the Flying Monkeys to empty out my word file and chase my characters away. Darn her!

She put her phone down and bawled (great tactic). Snot-dripping, sniveling-like bawling, and howling, too. Honey Bear, my Malti-Poo joined in. The door bell rang. Baby, the older dog, gave out a few loud woofs at the door before I ran to answer it. More trick-or-treaters. Oh. My. God.

“I don’t know why I keep giving him chances,” she said, sucking in air between sniffles. Boy, she’s perfected the crying thing. That’s the first thing she practiced when she was born. She practiced everyday, at least sixteen hours. Snot-crying. Drooling. Screaming. They even escalated into opera-like tantrums.

“Well, maybe the two of you should be friends,” I said.
This started another series of snot-dribbling cries, and more babble that lasted a half-hour.

Not long after that, my husband comes home. The first place he visits is the refrigerator. I’m surprised he didn’t kiss it when he arrived home.

“Where’s the pizza?” he asked.

My hands are happy, and my mind is engaged, writing a scene. I’m doing my best to ignore him because his question is preposterous. My characters and I were onto something big and—.

“Where’s the pizza?” You see, my daughter made pizza for dinner and put it away. I have no clue where she hid it in his organized ice box, and didn’t care.

My fingers stopped, mad that their owner had to get up, and finger through foiled food items because my husband has become one of those helpless married men. Yup. I believe it’s a syndrome of some kind.

After unwrapping several different items, I shove the pizza into his chest. "Here." I take my seat at the table ready to type.

Pizza in hand, he sits beside me. “You wouldn’t believe my night….”

Here we go again. That Wicked Witch is a great strategist. She uses my family against me. Where's that Wizard dude?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Finally, The Pitch

Schwoo!!! I’m back home. Went back to work this morning and I already miss the spoiling I received at the Florida Writer’s Conference over the weekend. I made sure my alarm woke me at 5 am so I could attend the 7 am writing prompt class. For the most part, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. A writer’s heaven where you get to drink plenty of coffee without digging into your change pocket and food is served to you. Not to mention, all the wonderful seminars you can attend. I’m still floating on cloud nine. But I must deliver the other news (happy dance, happy dance…jump up and down, clap your hands, happy dance). The pitch.

I missed my first appointment at 9 am, on Friday morning. Traffic on I-4 kept me from moving at a fast pace but I had no clue when my appointment would be.

Once I got to the Marriot I had to check-in, drop my luggage off at the room (really had to check out the fabulous feathery pillows…love their pillows…if I could I’d stuff them in my suitcase), grab a coffee, and check in at registration.

My heart sunk when I heard I’d missed my appointment with Emily Ohanjanians from MIRA books (she’s beautiful, patient, and sweet…really she is) but the Good Witch was looking out for me and I was rescheduled for the next day. I made sure I was early for that one.

Before the appointment, I made sure I practiced my pitch on any soul that leant me an ear. Bought a book in the process from a new author (will be promoting her on my blog…work on that another time), she leant her ear to me, had to return the favor, you know (looks like a good book anyway…a book I’d read).

Okay, I checked in and waited. Thank God not for long, because I think I would have shivered myself into absolute nothingness. When they called my name, I forgot to think about my shoes but I did remember to press my index finger into my thumb….OMMMM!!!! My knees didn’t buckle or anything. Wow! I surprised myself.

We greeted each other. I extended my hand to Ms. Ohanjanians and she accepted. We both sat and the conversation went something like this:

“You’re such a pretty lady,” Ms. O said, “You’re eyes are beautiful.”

“I thought the same about you,” I said.

Ms. O. looked at my badge clipped to my shirt, pulled out a pencil, and wrote out my name. When she finished, she folded her hands on top the pad. I guessed it to be my cue to start.

I cleared phlegm from my throat and said, “My novel is at 80,000 words. The genre is Young Adult Crossover Paranormal.”


I did my best to maintain eye contact and said, “Lila is the main character of my story (couldn’t tell the difference between antagonist and protagonist at this point). She’s eighteen years old and wherever Lila goes her Gram goes…but Gram is dead. You see, Lila is a psychic medium but never listens to her intuitive abilities. Instead she listens to her Mother who has coerced her into marrying an undesirable guy. En route to the honeymoon, Lila and the groom stop off at a diner. It is there Lila decides that there is “no way she can have sex with this guy” after a small argument over who would be the keeper of the wedding cash they received for gifts. So she grabs the cash without him noticing and excuses herself from the table under the pretense that she’s not feeling well to her stomach. She high tales it back to the restroom still dressed in her wedding dress and ill-fitting wedding shoes. From there, she escapes out the bathroom window into the Ocala, Florida woods. This begins a dangerous adventure where Lila learns to trust her intuition and her power within to overcome people and obstacles of danger.” After this sentence I stopped because this is what I practiced (I followed the advice of a book…she wanted more…I did give her more...she liked it).

Anyway to make a longer story short, Ms. O. informed me that I had too much action and not enough romance. Her knowledge is in marketing novels with heavy romance.

Okay, so I bent the ear of an agent, Robert Brown, of Wylie-Merrick Literary Agency. Halfway through my pitch, he stopped me and requested my entire manuscript to read. OMG…I about lost my jaw on the floor.

That’s all for now folks. Anybody, have any tidbits on their novels?


Monday, October 18, 2010

When It Rains, It Pours

This week is a short one since I’ve got a lot of writing to catch up on: 14,327 more words to go. It’s six days until pitch down. And, Murphy’s Law has been visiting me.

The week before last I came down with a low grade fever. It didn’t go above one hundred but it didn’t go below ninety-nine. All I wanted to do was lay/lie (  still get this confused even when I’m staring at my grammar book) down and sleep.

Last Monday, I visited the doctor who diagnosed me with chronic sinusitis. The medicine prescribed was Augmentin. My mouth has an everlasting metal taste, and the stuff makes me nauseated even though I eat crackers when I take the darned thing.

Four days after hearing about my chronic snot condition, daughter number four was in a car accident with her boyfriend. Not wearing her seatbelt saved her life, but she’s got a good case of whiplash, lower back, and hip injuries.

Plus, I have the schedule from hell this week. Twenty-six haircuts on Saturday. Twenty haircuts on Sunday and today I did twenty-three. My fingers hurt, not to mention my tootsies. Sleep keeps crossing my eyelids.

Well, when it rains, it pours. The only thing I can do is to keep going forward.

Happy writing everyone!

Next week I’ll write about my experiences doing the real pitch, and I promise not to sound so glum.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What Not to Do

Right now I’m laughing at myself. I have a way of getting myself into pickle jars. And by pickle jars I mean, I’m not real good at following protocol. Never have been.

When I got my first computer, I learned how to use it by pushing buttons not by reading an instruction book (lost lots of homework that way while in college).

When the doctor prescribed me birth control pills, I tossed the instructions, and took my pill when I remembered it (you’re suppose to take it at the same time everyday…this explains five children).

Recently, I bought a cheap digital camera so I could download pictures to my blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages. I’ve lost all my pictures I’ve taken over that last couple of weeks. Pushing them doggone buttons again without reading the manual (I could blame it on the Wicked Witch and Flying Monkeys, perhaps). I’m sure when my hubby reads this he’ll shake his head and wag his finger at me.

When I signed up for an interview to pitch my book I didn’t go to that particular publisher’s website to review their requirements. What a dumb thing to do. Now I have to work like the wind to achieve thirty thousand more words. Got two weekends before I pitch.

Lesson learned: FOLLOW PROTOCOL! Especially a publishing matter. You don’t want to look like a total idiot or have to work twice as hard. There may come a day when the Good Witch will leave you to your own demise like the Wizard (Jerk!).

And remember: Take your birth control pill at the same time everyday.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Life of a Novice Writer: Pitch or Be Pitched Out

The Life of a Novice Writer: Pitch or Be Pitched Out: "Last Tuesday, I went to a seminar on, “Successful Pitching”, taught by Molli Nickell. Oh,my, lions, tigers, and bears! Flying monkeys, too! ..."

Pitch or Be Pitched Out

Last Tuesday, I went to a seminar on, “Successful Pitching”, taught by Molli Nickell. Oh,my, lions, tigers, and bears! Flying monkeys, too!

Before we received our execution notice we were allowed to eat dinner. I chose tilapia for my last meal and digested it while I chattered with other nervous-nillies. Someone came around with a bowl of numbers so we could blindly pick one. I picked number two. This wasn’t going to be good.

Not long after, Molli introduced herself(she resembled Glenda the Good Witch) and passed out a sheet of questions(the Wicked Witch of the West had to be around somewhere). We were told to work on our pitch, and she left the room. Oh, no, Toto!

My Dyslexia button got pushed, and the angsting began. Shivers went up and down my spine. Pretty pink butterflies flitted through tunnels in my stomach(the tunnels are real to me, they do exist, you know). My forehead glistened with what-the-hell-does-this-mean, and my pen went to scribbling, and crossing out stuff(too much stuff). I looked under the table and around the room for the Wicked Witch and the flying monkeys. This had to be their doings, not mine.

When Molli returned to the room she asked, “Are you ready to pitch?”
Flying monkeys, no! But the hour had come (where’s the Wizard when you need him). I didn’t have a clue where to begin. Too much information covered two pages. My insides knew it and I needed my Ruby Slippers, but I couldn’t find them.

She called the first lady to pitch. My pink butterflies danced with joy. One got caught in my throat while I watched contestant number one be tortured. Poor lady, she lost her focus. She couldn’t get past a minor character in her novel and the crickets sang. Her ten minutes were up(that’s all the time you get to verbally pitch your novel, TEN MINUTES, for real).

“Number two,” Molli said, looking around the room.

Yup! That was me. I looked around the room and under the table again for the Wicked Witch and the Flying Monkeys. I didn’t see them, but their presence was there.

On the way up to the torture arena, Molli said, “Breathe,and think about your shoes.”

What? My Ruby Slippers…can’t find them.

I about hyperventilated, and couldn’t get my thoughts passed my tingly thighs, and my numb knees on the way to the torture destination. When I got to the table where she sat, she extended her hand to me, and we played introductions before my knees buckled and I collapsed in a chair.

“Breathe,” she said again.

I did.

“Now, tell me about your story.”

I big smile stretched across my face(SMILE when brain failure occurs). When that didn’t work, I looked over Molli’s shoulder(a technique used when you’re trying to revive your brain-sometimes it works).

“Look at me, and tell me about your main character,” she said.

I did and said, “Lila is an eighteen year old girl….” The room closed in on me and my mind went blank. The crickets sang, and it was over.

In conclusion, if you don’t want to embarrass yourself in front of potential publishers and agents I suggest checking out Molli’s site,, and practice, practice, practice. And if, you still don’t get it, focus on your main character, and the main points of the story pertaining to that character.

In about three weeks, I’ll be pitching in person to a publisher,and will blog about that. Hopefully, I’ll have the Wizard, the Good Witch, my three friends, and my Ruby Slippers available to me.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Follow to be Followed

Follow the female Pide Piper, Rachel Harrie's Crusade,and get your blog read, but you have to read others, too. What goes around comes around. Spread this good Karma and get some back.

The following is her instructions from her page:
1. Follow along with my site if you don’t already (I want to build my online platform too of course) :)
2. Become a Crusader by leaving a comment to this post (include your blogging name and a link to your blog)
3. Write about the Crusade on your blog and link back to this post
4. Encourage your followers to come to Rach Writes… and join up (it will help them too!)
5. Tweet about the Crusade, including a link to this post ( and #WPBC1. Encourage re-tweets. I'm @RachaelHarrie if you want to follow me in the Twitterverse too
6. Pop it on Facebook
7. Generally, spread the word…

Happy Writing!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

DIng Dong My Brain is Dead

That’s right, I think I’ve killed my brain. Oh, my Toto.
It took two hours to figure out how to download a picture to my personal file to save so that I could transfer the darned thing to my blog here. Schwooo! By now my forehead is glistening total girl sweat. Thank God for computer literate children! I would never have made it without my No-No-O. She’s great when it comes to computer stuff.

Once I tackled that task, I had to figure out how to actually post the pics to my blog. What an eye-crossing-brain-twisting event that was. And yes, I went through the BlogSpot Tutorial, but once again it challenged me. Maybe it’s all those hot dogs I ate with the processed cheese as a child, or perhaps all the tap water I drank. My poor brain about hyperventilated on me over this whole ordeal. It got my armpits crying, and that’s not good because you have to stop every so often and wipe at the tears tricking down to your waist. I went through half a roll of Bounty. Oh, man!

Anyway back to the task at hand here. When I finally figured out the save-the-pic-off –the-internet-thing, it was time to save the darned things to my blog page.( I think I said that in the paragraph above but got emotional.) Okay, every writer-girl wants a pretty blog page, right? I was tired of looking at my Plain-Jane-page and desperation filled me to change it(talk about a yellow- brick-road-need-to-find-the-wizard-so-I-can- get-home…such turmoil traveling through my brain). I know. I’m being dramatic…I’m a woman. We’re known for drama, okay, but this is pivotal for me.

Of course, my wonder daughter, No-No-O showed me how to get from A to Z again, and THEN she left me to myself. For two hours after that I happily sat and pasted pics into my browser for each article that I’d written. I previewed each one. They looked lovely(gloat, gloat), and I was so proud of myself.

When I finished pasting, I pressed the View Blog button. I blinked a couple of times, no pics. Oh. My. God. Where is the Good Witch when you need her? The Bad Witch has to be responsible for this mishap. Maybe it was the apple I ate earlier causing me hiccups in my thought process. She poisoned it causing my brain to malfunction.

Okay, so DUFUS here, backtracked, and I figured out that I didn’t push the PUBLISH SAVE button. Big sigh. Another big sigh. What a bunch of flying monkeys!

Half- way into the project again someone must have thrown a bucket of water onto my brain. It sizzled at first and THEN it went into shrinking mode(I’m SHRIIIIIINKING). My eyelids got heavy with sleep and whatever thoughts I had..well…flying monkeys equals chaos and who can possibly think when you have to bat those things out of the way.

So the little munchkins gathered around my soup for brains and sang “Ding Dong Her Brain is Dead……la. It’s better than having your husband tell you that you have Alzheimer’s.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Today's Bad Writing

The other night at my critique group, I brought up the fact that a lot of the newly published authors’ books are full of mistakes. What I’m seeing makes my mouth drop, my brain twist, and leaves me saying to myself “they didn’t”. Oh but, they did. Oh. My. God. They really found someone to publish them or they were brave enough to publish themselves, talk about balls and guts.

Pages and pages of ‘then’s’ and ‘just’s.’. Lots of ‘as’ man. Lots of them. Newer writers are beginning their sentences with “finally” and “suddenly”. Instead of describing what their characters see, hear and feel, they are telling us they saw, heard, and felt.

Maybe the current and next generation won’t care how to spell (I mean the kids text today and teachers don’t correct spelling mistakes…not all, but too many don’t follow the old protocol) or what action verbs are. This new generation lacks love for English and the written word(not all, but too many). It amazes me how few love to read (too busy texting) and when a young person expresses their love for reading, it’s euphoric.

For the kids that love to read, how are they ever going to know any better with the smattering of stuff that’s out there. What are we teaching them? That it’s okay to be mediocre? Total ugh.

Publishing companies and self-publishers are putting first drafts of dribble-babble out on the market. I’d be embarrassed to have my babbles published as serious work, and I do a lot of babbling before I get it write. This is probably some hideous babble because no one is editing this piece, but me.

In my critique group, I get a good “YAK!” from my group queen, but newer writers are getting away with sloppy writing. Wow man! Wow! I mean, I know, I’m a novice at writing stuff, but at least I admit it, and I don’t shove it out there in the market for the world to see. Free is good, but you get what you pay for.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My Ritual

Today, I’m taking my time. I’m in no hurry. Hate hurrying anyway. It’s my day off from lopping hair (stylist by day and sometimes by night). My foot warmers, (my dogs, Baby and Honey Bear), have planned along with me a writing fest today. They’ve got their bones and chews. I’ve my gi-normous cup of hot tea, my water, and the bathroom near-by (my bladder pees on demand…achoo!). Oh, can’t forget the Sounscapes, too.

Now I’m ready to let my fingers float across my keyboards and drift into the open sea of my mind. Time to find out what my characters are doing today.
For a few seconds, I sit with my eyes closed, fingers resting on my keyboard. I let the music fill my ears, and type out what I see and hear. It doesn’t matter if it’s perfect at first. Perfection never really comes. The beauty of the manuscript is only in the eye of the beholder. Not everyone likes or appreciates my writing style, or my stories, and that’s okay.

Besides, it would be like having every man on earth fall in love with me. One is enough. It would be the same if everyone loved my manuscript. I’d probably go nuts. Being kept in my humble place is a good thing. A swelled head might explode, and I’d loose all my stories. Wouldn’t want that.

I know, I’m babble-writing this blog today, but I’m in no hurry. It’s ritual for me. We all have our different rituals. This is mine, babble-writing. Writing anything and everything. Trying to dig deep within. Trying to find my happy space in writing. Inhale and exhale. Don’t be afraid to breathe or write.
Have a happy writing day.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Life of a Novice Writer: Time

The Life of a Novice Writer: Time: "Time has really gotten in the way over the last two weeks. Or can I say time hasn't given me enough open areas to sit and write like I like ..."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Samah Ronit


Twenty or so protestors holding picket signs rushed the car in which Annabelle sat. The signs read Baby Killer and Murderers go to Hell, the crowd chanting the words. Lumps as big as boulders clumped in Annabelle’s throat, perspiration breaking out on her forehead.
Her mother, Mary, shoved the automatic shift into park. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, holding it a moment before letting it out. “Don’t pay any attention to those fanatics, Annabelle. They’re troublemakers. Stay by me, and keep your head down.”
Annabelle looked at her mother and pressed her lips together. She, too, believed abortion murder, but her mother’s edict a few days ago left her no choice. “If you have this baby, you’ll be on the street,” she’d said. “I’ll put you out. Do you understand?”
“What if I give the baby up for adoption?” Annabelle had asked, crying.
Her mother’s brown eyes turned black. “No daughter of mine is going to flaunt around that she’s a whore.”

Annabelle had hung her head, tears dropping to the carpet. “But what you’re asking me to do is wrong. Daddy would tell us that. Just because I had sex outside of marriage doesn’t mean the baby should die for my sin.”
Her mother had grabbed Annabelle’s chin and lifted hard. “That’s not a baby you’re carrying. It’s a blob. It’s not human yet.” Mary dropped her hand. “My God you’re only sixteen. What could you have been thinking? Your father.... How could you?”
Annabelle opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out.
Mary arched a brow. “Did you think people would look the other way? Well, they won’t. They’ll talk, and your father will be ruined.” Mary shook a finger at Annabelle’s belly. “That thing needs to be terminated.”
She spun then and headed toward the bedroom door.
Annabelle swiped the tears off her face. “But I don’t want an abortion.”
Her mother stopped and turned. “Your father doesn’t need this shameful deed on his shoulders. It’s your cross, not his. And there’s only one way to take care of this.”

Mary opened her car door, and the picketers mobbed her. “Don’t kill your baby! Adoption is the option!”
Mary pushed the door into them and got out. She shoved through them, around the front of the car to the passenger side, her jaw clenched. She opened the door for Annabelle, took her hand, and pulled her out. Arm around the teenager, mother used her body to block her child, barging them through the zealots toward the clinic’s front door.

Annabelle threw an arm across her eyes so not to see the protestors’ signs and angry faces. But she had no protection from the words they shouted. Someone shoved her from behind, and Annabelle stumbled.
“Keep walking, Annabelle!” Mary yelled, tightening her grip, moving the girl forward.
A nurse opened the clinic door the moment Annabelle and Mary got to it.
“Can’t you people call the cops?” Mary screamed, pushing her daughter inside.
“We did,” the nurse said, closing the door. “But we’re not a priority. You’re Mrs. Hudson, correct?”
The nurse gestured to the reception desk. “Your daughter needs to fill out some forms.”
Annabelle and her mother went to the desk.
The middle-aged woman behind it smiled at the mother and daughter and said, “We’ll need a sample of Annabelle’s urine.” She handed the teen a small paper cup and held up two packaged wipes. “I need you first to wipe yourself clean from front to back.” She handed Annabelle the packets. “Afterward, urinate a little first into the toilet and then into the cup. When you’ve finished, put the cup inside the little gray door in the hallway there.” She pointed.
Annabelle nodded.
“Then I’ll need you to fill out some forms.” She smiled again. “The bathroom’s the second door on the right down the hall.”
Annabelle walked to it head down.
The cold wipe gave her goose bumps. Finished with it, she let it go and put her face in the hand not holding the cup. God, I hope you can forgive me.

She almost forgot to stop in midstream and dropped the paper cup into the toilet. It landed upright and floated. She reached between her thighs, picked it out, and shook it.
“Yuck,” she said, and peed into it.
Finished in the bathroom, she walked into the hallway and put her cup behind the foot-high gray door built into the wall.
Annabelle went back to the receptionist, who smiled and handed her a pen and a clipboard of forms. Boulders clumped anew in her throat, but she took the clipboard and sat next to her mother, Annabelle’s heart beating hard enough to burst from her chest.
She looked at the light blue walls. The color for a boy.
The protestors’ chants penetrated the building. Sweat trickled down Annabelle’s back.
Her mother tapped the forms with a pink fingernail.
Annabelle wrote her name in the top blank. Then her address. She wrote her phone number. Filled in her gender, age, and date of birth. Her church’s denomination. She came to the line that said the clinic would not be held responsible if her spleen were punctured and stared at the words. I could die. Oh, please, God, let my mother see that this is a mistake. Let her see that an abortion could kill me, too.
Mary elbowed her daughter. “Hurry up and finish,” she whispered. “What are you stalling for?”
Annabelle looked at her mother. “Do you see what this says, Mom?” She pointed to it. “I could die.”

“You’re not going to die. This is perfectly safe compared to the back-alley abortions when I was your age.” Her mother smoothed her already smooth skirt. “It’s the eighties, for crying out loud.”
Annabelle stood, and the clipboard slid to the tiled floor with a loud clack. “I can’t do this.”
The receptionist looked up from her paperwork, and a dark-haired female head appeared from around a corner down the hall.
“I can’t do this, Mother,” she said, louder, hoping for more attention.
But no one paid her any mind. They’d gone back to what they were doing.
Mary pulled on Annabelle’s dress. “Please sit down like a lady, and lower your voice.”
Annabelle slapped her mother’s hand off her dress. “I hope you burn in hell for this!” Annabelle shrieked, backing into the end table on the other side of her chair. The brass table lamp on it toppled into the wall and fell with a dull clang.
Mary jumped to her feet. “Annabelle Hudson, you pick up that lamp and sit right back down. Stop making a scene.”
“You can’t make me do this!” Annabelle screamed, her hands in fists.
Mary’s slap sent Annabelle sideways.
The middle-aged receptionist was on her feet and around the desk.
Annabelle held her cheek and sobbed.
Mary held a hand up to the receptionist. “It’s all right. She’s given to hysterics, and that’s the only way to right her.”

The woman looked from Mary to Annabelle. “Are you sure?” She put a hand on Annabelle’s back. “Would you like a glass of water?”
Annabelle nodded, and the woman left.
“I hate you, Mother,” Annabelle said through gritted teeth.
Mary’s lips went pin straight. “Annabelle, don’t make this any harder than it already is.” She grabbed her daughter’s wrist and pulled her into the chair. “Now stop acting like a brat. You have no choice in this. You got yourself into it, and you will see it through.” Mary picked up the clipboard. “Here. Finish filling out these forms, or you will have no home to go back to.” She reached across Annabelle and yanked tissues from the box on the end table. “And wipe the snot off your face,” she said, shoving the Kleenex into her daughter’s hand.
The receptionist came back with a glass of water and handed it to Annabelle. “Are you all right now?”
Mary smiled. “She’s fine. The theatrics have passed. They always do.”
The woman went back to her desk.
Annabelle sniffled as loud as she could, but the woman didn’t look up. She slumped her shoulders and signed the paperwork.
Mary took the clipboard and pen to the receptionist. The receptionist stood. “I’ll take these forms to Dr. Young. She will be counseling you and your daughter today.”
Annabelle brought her knees to her chest and rocked, her dress tucked between her legs, tears running down her face.
“Get your feet off that chair, and sit like a lady,” Mary hissed. “Are you trying to embarrass me?”

Annabelle hummed, rocking faster.
Mary pinched her daughter’s arm. “Stop it!”
“Ow!” Annabelle yelped, pulling away. She put her feet down.
“Thank you,” her mother said. “I hope that ends your childish behavior.”
A tall woman came down the hall, the receptionist behind her. The tall woman’s brown hair was pulled back and liberally streaked with gray. She smiled at Annabelle as she approached and extended her right hand. “I’m Dr. Young.”
Annabelle took Dr. Young’s hand. It warmed her cold one.
Without letting go, Dr. Young seemed to study Annabelle for a moment, the doctor’s blue eyes kind and her expression gentle.
Annabelle wiped her face with the balled-up tissues in her other hand.
Dr. Young let go and grabbed more tissues. She gave them to Annabelle. “This was a hard decision for you,” she said. It wasn’t a question.
Annabelle nodded.
Dr. Young smiled. “Well, come with me, and we’ll have a discussion.”
Annabelle and Mary followed Dr. Young to her office.
The doctor sat behind her desk, mother and daughter in two of the chairs facing her. A pink, six-inch high replica of the vaginal area sat on the front of her desk. Mouth agape and gulping air, Annabelle stared at it. Shiny, stainless steel instruments that looked similar to dental tools lay in a tray beside it.
“Annabelle?” The doctor said, her voice quiet.
“Um, yes.” Annabelle looked from doctor to the shelves of books behind her.

Mary thumped her daughter’s thigh with the back of her hand, and Annabelle jumped. “Yes, ma’am.”
Mary let out an audible sigh.
The doctor picked up the pink model. “As you know, this is a replica of the vagina.”
Annabelle felt her cheeks flush, and she looked at her lap a nervous giggle escaping her.
Her mother flicked the side of Annabelle’s leg.
The girl flinched and brought her head up.
Dr. Young gave Annabelle a gentle smile. “You needn’t be embarrassed. Everyone in this room has one.” She got up, the model in her hand, and walked to the front of her desk. She leaned against it.
Annabelle tried to look interested. Oh, God, please save my baby.
The doctor picked up one of the shiny instruments and inserted it into the reproduction part of the replica.
“This is….”
Annabelle’s eyes glazed over. Please God, make this all go away. Looking past the doctor’s shoulder at the shelves, she counted books. One…two…three…four….
…two hundred two.
“Do you have any questions, Annabelle?” Doctor Young asked, returning to her desk chair.
Annabelle stared at the doctor. “But.” I thought you’d want to know if I really wanted to abort my baby. Why didn’t you ask me?
The doctor smiled. “Yes?”

Mary back-handed Annabelle’s thigh.

“Nothing, ma’am.”
Dr. Young walked mother and daughter into the hall. “Make sure Annabelle eats and drinks nothing after nine p.m., Thursday, Mrs. Hudson, and have her here by eight-thirty Friday morning.”

The light on Annabelle’s bedside table popped on.
“It’s time to get up and take your shower,” her mother said. “You have an appointment to get to.” Mary opened Annabelle’s closet and pulled out a dress. “Wear this.”
“Mom, I can pick out my own clothes. I’m almost seventeen, thank you.”
“Don’t start the morning smarting off to me, please.” Her mother laid the dress on the bed. “It’s already six, so don’t dilly-dally. We have over an hour’s drive, and there’ll be commuter traffic.”
“I don’t want to go.”
“You’re going, and that’s final.”
“You can’t make me.”
Mary pulled Annabelle out of bed by her wrist. “I can make you do anything I want, young lady. I brought you into this world. Remember that.”
Mary let go.
Annabelle sat on her bed, knees to her chest, and face in her hands, crying.
“I told you to get up.”

Annabelle dropped her hands. “And I told you I don’t want to go.”
Mary seized her daughter’s shoulders. “You get yourself into the bathroom. Now.”
Annabelle shook off her mother’s hands and stood. “I hate you,” she said and pushed past her.
Mary followed. “You should be thanking God your father’s at one of his conferences this week, and we can take care of this quietly.”
Annabelle slammed the bathroom door in her mother’s face.
“If I were you, I’d be grateful he’s away,” Mary shouted through the door. “I wouldn’t want my father humiliated because I couldn’t keep my panties on.”
Mary leaned against the door, dropping her head, and stifled a sob.
Annabelle sat on the closed toilet, head down, tears falling into her lap. Dear God, please save this baby.

A white van sat in the clinic’s parking lot. Over a dozen people were on their knees in the gravel, heads bowed over folded hands. Mary parked as far away from the van as the space allowed. A man holding a bullhorn stood.
“Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord,” he shouted into it. “For lo, children are an heritage of the Lord and the fruit of the womb is His reward.” He pointed his finger at Mary’s car. “God forgive them, for they know not what they do in sacrificing their unborn children to the pagan god Molech.”
Annabelle met the man’s eyes, the butterflies in her stomach going into a frenzy.
“Ignore those fools,” her mother said, turning off the car’s engine.

“Mom, I can’t do this. It’s wrong. You want to kill your grandchild.” She looked at her mother. “How could you?”
Annabelle thought she saw guilt in her mother’s eyes, but it passed in a blink.
“It’s a blob. It’s not even a human yet.”
“Please, Mom….”
Mary sighed and opened her car door. “Come on, Annabelle, we have to do this.” Her voice sounded tired, but she got out, pushed the door closed, and walked to the passenger side.
Annabelle punched the lock and crossed her arms.
Her mother knocked hard on the window. “Annabelle, now is not the time for your antics,” she said loud enough to be heard through it and jammed the key into the keyhole.
Annabelle grabbed the door handle and pulled it toward her. “No!”
Her mother pulled from outside. “Stop your nonsense, Annabelle Hudson!”
The man with the bullhorn shouted into it, “In the name of Jesus, stop this killing today! Stop this killing, Lord!”
Mary yanked the door open, Annabelle’s hand too sweaty to keep a grip on the handle, and pulled Annabelle out by her arm.
Annabelle dug her heels into the gravel and screamed, “I hate you, Mother!”
Mary jerked her daughter away from the door and kneed it shut.
“God will repay you for your sin!” the bullhorn blasted.
The teenager turned toward the man, his eyes cutting into her soul.
Upon entering the clinic, Annabelle tripped over the doorsill.
“Pay attention to where you’re going, young lady,” Mary said, pulling Annabelle inside.

The middle-aged woman at the reception desk greeted them and went down the hall.
Mother and daughter sat on the same chairs they occupied Tuesday. Annabelle bounced a foot and bit on a nail, tears falling down her face.
Mary reached across her daughter for the tissue box and pushed it into her chest. “Quit the nonsense, and wipe your face. You’re dripping snot.” After a moment, she looked down and said gently, “This is the only way, Annabelle. We’ve discussed this. It’s the best thing to do.”
Annabelle ran a handful of tissues across her cheeks and blew her nose. A minute later, Dr. Young walked down the hallway toward her, a young woman in green surgical scrubs following.
“This is Debbie,” Dr. Young said, smiling when they reached Annabelle. “You need to go with her. You’ll change out of your clothes, and Debbie will give you further instructions after that.”
“Can I go with her?” Mary said.
The doctor looked at her and shook her head but smiled. “You’ll have to stay here.”
Annabelle wiped her cheeks and nose. She stood, head dropped and shoulders down, and walked with Debbie to a back room with four small cubicles, their curtains opened. Annabelle still held the box of tissues.
Debbie handed her a folded gown. “You need to remove all your clothing, including your bra and panties, before putting this on.” She directed Annabelle to a cubicle and pulled its curtain across the front. “If you need any help, let me know,” she said through the curtain. “Call me when you’ve finished gowning. I’ll be right here.”

Annabelle clutched the gown and tissue box to her chest. She sat on a bench-like ledge built into the back wall and prayed, Dear God, please save my baby, I know I did wrong having sex, but please make a way for my baby and me to escape.
Annabelle tossed her used tissues into the small wastebasket under the ledge and took off her clothing slowly, wiping tears and blowing her nose four times in the process. She put on the medical gown and tied it closed. “I’m done,” she said to the curtain.
Debbie opened the curtain. “Then let’s take you to the procedure room.”

Annabelle climbed onto a padded table, a blue-cased pillow and folded yellow blanket at its head.
Debbie smiled and rubbed her back. “You’ll need to lie down.” She picked up the blanket and opened it.
Annabelle laid her head on the pillow and looked at the ceiling. Pink for girl.
Debbie covered her, smiling. “Everything will be okay,” she said, her gloved hand stroking Annabelle’s hair. “In a few minutes, someone will be in to give you nitrous oxide. About five minutes after that, Dr. Young will come in and give you a local in your cervix to relax you more.”
Annabelle said nothing. She stared at the pink ceiling, tears rolling down the side of her face.
Debbie pulled tissues from the box Annabelle held and wiped Annabelle’s cheeks. “The procedure is fast, and you’ll only feel a pinch of pain for an instant.” Debbie smiled. “Okay?”

A woman dressed in blue surgical scrubs entered the room and after closing the door, wheeled a red tank to the left side of Annabelle’s table. She put a clear plastic mask over Annabelle’s mouth and nose. “You need to relax and count to ten,” she said.
Annabelle’s mouth tingled, and her head went floaty.
“How do you feel?” the woman asked.
Annabelle blinked a couple of times and nodded. Debbie stroked her hair.
A few minutes later, the door opened again, and Dr. Young came in. She sat on a stool at the foot of Annabelle’s gurney while the other woman wheeled over a small table holding surgical instruments. The woman switched on a lamp standing at the doctor’s shoulder.
“You need to scoot your bottom down toward me,” Dr. Young said.
Annabelle scooted down. The doctor pushed Annabelle’s gown up and took her ankles. The souls of Annabelle’s feet touched cold metal, and her knees fell to the side. A draft of air chilled her exposed parts.
“You’re going to feel a pinch.” Dr. Young said. “I’m going to give you a local anthestetic in your cervix. When you hear the aspirator, I’ll insert a tube into your cervix. We should be done in about five minutes.”
Annabelle felt a pinch the doctor promised and winced.
A thundering, world-rocking boom came from the doctor’s right, and the wall blew in, knocking Annabelle’s table over and ripping the mask from her face. Annabelle landed against the opposite wall, the table at her back. Women screamed. A second enormous boom brought the ceiling down, pushing the gurney into her. Full of nitrous oxide, Annabelle floated but had enough presence to mumble, “I think I need help, God,” before everything went black.

Gravel dug into Mary’s right cheek, and she coughed up dust. Pain shot from her left leg up her side. She thought she was having a nightmare and fought to wake herself.
Sirens. Tires on gravel. Running feet. Voices.
Mary opened her eyes and lifted her head. Annabelle! But the pain in her leg took over, and her head fell back to the ground. Vivid pictures of the morning pulsated in her brain, and she lifted her head again. This time she got her hands under her, she yelped, but pushed up. The pain nearly made her vomit. She looked behind her. The clinic blazed, flames and black smoke against the blue sky.
“Annabelle!” she screamed, tears gushing from her eyes. “Annabelle! Oh my God, Annabelle!”
Mary pulled her good leg under her and started to push herself up on it, but the world went almost black, and her arms collapsed.
A hand touched her back. “Ma’am don’t try to move. Help’s here,” a woman said, squatting beside Mary.
Another hand at her waist. “We’re going to turn you over. We’ll be careful, but it’s going to hurt.” A man’s voice said.
Mary shot back up on her hands. “No! Leave me! My daughter! She’s in there! Get my daughter!”
“What part of the building was she in?”
“Where they do the abortions.”
The woman talked into a hand-held radio. “There’s a girl still in the building wherever they do the abortions. Do we know the layout? Over.”

Static, then, “Yeah.”
The woman put a hand on Mary’s shoulder. “They’ll find her, ma’am. It’ll be all right.”
Mary dropped her head, sobbing, her arms quivering. “You don’t understand. It’s my fault. I made her abort her baby. I was ashamed. Oh, God, what have I done? I’m supposed to be a godly woman. Oh dear God, forgive me, and save my daughter.”
Everything went black.

A month-old baby girl slept snuggled in a pink-ribboned white carrier full of blankets. The organ music coming from the sanctuary didn’t wake her. The song ended, and a new one began. A Mighty Fortress is Our God.
Annabelle stood beside the carrier and looked at the usher standing at the double doors to the sanctuary. The usher nodded at Annabelle and opened the double doors, smiling. Annabelle lifted the infant from the carrier. She kissed the sleeping child’s cheek and whispered, “Thank you one more time, God.”
Annabelle walked into the sanctuary and down its center aisle between the filled pews, only some smiling or nodding to acknowledge her.
The man on the raised dais smiled and descended the three steps to the sanctuary floor, his arm extended to the woman who walked from her seat in the front row to him with the aid of a cane. She, too, smiled.
“Daddy,” Annabelle said when she reached the front of the church.
Pastor Hudson kissed his daughter’s left cheek. Mary kissed Annabelle’s right before handing her husband her cane and carefully taking the sleeping infant into her arms.

“Today,” Pastor Hudson said, taking the baby from his wife’s arms and returning her cane, “is a good day to celebrate forgiveness and new beginnings.” The bundle cradled in his arms, he looked out at his congregation. “And today is a good day to dedicate this precious little one to God.” He blinked away the tears forming in his eyes. “Today is a good day to tell my wife and daughter how important they are to me and how much I love them. And to publically ask for their forgiveness.” He looked from Mary to Annabelle. To his wife he said, “Mary, I haven’t been a good husband. I seldom made it home for family dinner and I’ve given little of myself for too many years. I’ve not been on hand to support you as the mother of our daughter. And I’ve been too busy with the church to pay attention to what’s been going on in our home.” He took her hand. “Can you forgive me?”
Mary’s mouth quivered, and her eyes filled to spilling. She wiped one cheek with a handkerchief, and her husband wiped the other with his thumb.
Mary said, “Yes, Don, I do.”
He turned to Annabelle. “I put you off too many times when you wanted to talk or wanted me to go somewhere with you or needed help with your homework. I wronged you by putting my work before you, and your Mom. “Do you forgive me?”
Annabelle nodded. “Yes, Daddy, of course.”
Pastor Hudson held his granddaughter up, his hands cradling her head and bottom. “Today, Father, in the name of Your Son, we thank you for your grace and ask you to keep us ever mindful of it.”
He brought Annabelle’s baby to his chest, rocking her a moment, and said to his congregation, “It’s a good day to remember that our Lord Jesus Christ taught forgiveness, that

He came to offer us forgiveness, and that as believers, we have First John One-Nine with its guarantee of not only God’s forgiveness but the equal guarantee of a clean slate thereafter. A chance to start over, with its every use, our lives anew.”
He dropped his head.
When he lifted his head, everyone could see the tears sliding down his cheeks. “I, your Pastor, have not treated my wife and daughter as I should. Intending, if my hands were free, I’d use air quotes here. In spending all of my time doing God’s work I neglected my most important job, which is tending to my family.”
Murmurs and the sounds of people shifting in their pews filled the sanctuary.
“I want to say something, too, Daddy. Can I?”
“Of course, sweetheart.”
Annabelle turned to Mary and took her hand. “Forgive me, Mom. I love you.”
Mary put her arms around Annabelle, tears running down her face. “Oh, Annabelle, please forgive me. I love you so much, and I’m so sorry for the emotional pain and grief I caused you and for not being a good example of how a mom should be under … circumstances.”
Pastor Hudson smiled and raised his granddaughter to his congregation. “I ask that everyone extend your right hand to this beautiful little girl as we dedicate her to our God.” He looked heavenward. “Dear Father, in the name of Your Son, we as a family dedicate Samah Ronit Hudson to you, Samah meaning forgiveness in the language of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have all sinned, Father and You are a great forgiver. And Ronit, meaning rebirth or new beginning. We thank You for those new beginnings. I thank You for a second chance with my family and ask that Samah Ronit walks with You as she grows and that Your Hand of protection will be upon her. We also pray that each one of us here today will live in Your service and help Samah Ronit in the way she should go. This we pray in Jesus name.”
Amens filled the sanctuary.