Wilde's Fire

The exciting first book of the Darkness Falls series!

Wilde's Army

The second installment of Darkness Falls.

Wilde's Meadow

The conclusion of Katriona and Arland's story.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The End is HERE

I've had more coffee while writing this book than I've had during the last few years of my life. My first novel was "easy" compared to this. The more I learn, the harder it gets. Somehow it seems like that should be the other way around, but it's not.

Anyway, what an amazing day. I spent all afternoon sweating my butt off at the fair with my family, came home and wrote the last chapter of my book.

Now don't get me wrong, there are many edits ahead of me, but the structure is there and it's good--I won't say brilliant because I just don't have that kind of confidence.

Thanks to everyone who has offered me encouragement, you have no idea how much I appreciate you all.

Tomorrow will be a tough day--first day of the red pen rampage. Better get to sleep now!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

This Is The End

Hmm. Let’s see. What do I blog about today?

Do I blog about my kids?


Do I blog about my commute?


Do I blog about my second novel?

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Actually, no. Let me tell you why I’ve been so quiet over the last couple days.

Wilde’s Army is two chapters away from finished. There will be edits. There will be coffee, sweat and tears, but the exciting 1st draft is near completion.

If I stay off blogger for just a couple more days, it’ll be done.

Thanks for following . . . and words of encouragement are always welcome. ;-)

If you need something to read while waiting for me, check out Derek Flynn's follow-up post from his trip to Virginia and Pennsylvania here.


If you want to do something good for the world, go check out Hawthorn or To Urn Her Love. Buy Links can be found here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Snakes and Chickens

I am scared of many things. Spiders (see why here), scorpions (haven’t gotten there yet), Chows (we’ll get there, too) and snakes.

Shudders. Snakes are the worst.

Kris and I used to love riding bikes when we lived in the suburbs. My bike was particularly special; it had a long banana seat with a rainbow print, the frame was purple and there was a white basket adorned on the front. My brother and I would ride around for hours and wouldn’t come home until the sun set.

When we moved to the country, our daily two-wheeled adventures came to a near screeching halt. Roads covered in big white rocks were not exactly intended to have kids riding “city” bikes on them.

So we improvised.

Instead of riding on the roads, we rode on our seventeen acres. Most of it was flat, there were trees—ones we’d planted—for us to zip in and out of, plenty of obstacles for Kris to jump over and me to avoid at all costs. We couldn’t complain.

One sunny afternoon my brother was off somewhere doing something without me—shocker—and I was left to ride by myself. I took a familiar path down toward the pond, but something was wrong with my tire. I had a flat.

Stepping off the bike and into the grass with my bare feet—I know it’s stupid to ride without shoes, hush—I inspected the flat tire and decided it was time to turn around. When I did, a small bright green snake slithered right over my foot.

Picture a girl in a horror movie, screaming bloody murder while running away from the psycho killer behind her who’s carrying a knife. That was me. Except the psycho killer was a harmless green snake.

I left my bike in the field. My dad or brother or mom—who knows—had to go in for a rescue mission after I managed to recount the ordeal to them through blinding tears and wails.

So where do the chickens come in you ask?

Well, about a week later it was my turn to collect the eggs from the chicken coop before going to school. I carried my basket, took a slow stroll into the rising sun up the path to the barn, said hello to the clucking chickens as I passed them by, opened the big door and stepped in.

Setting the basket to the side, I grabbed some feed and filled their troughs. I wasn’t fond of the animals while I was in their coop, only when I was outside of it did I feel safe. Roosters are aggressive and hens—especially when babies are around—have been known to attack. So I spread the feed, grabbed the basket and went to the nests so I could get out as fast as possible.

I hated sticking my hand under the hens. Hated it. I swear those chickens looked at me liked they wanted to peck my eyeballs out. Can’t say I blamed them, I was stealing their babies.

When I slowly slid my hand under the hen, I did not feel eggs. Instead what I felt was scaly, warm and worst of all moving. I lifted the stupid chicken from her nest and found a snake. Black, huge and eating the eggs.

Have you ever seen a scared chicken? They raise their wings just a tad, puff out their bodies, and waddle like hell to get away all the while bock-bock-bocking like lunatics.

I was the chicken that day and the day the snake slid over my foot.

I am still the chicken. Any time I see a snake, I run like hell to get away. I may not bock-bock, but I wail and scream.

When I tell people these stories, I usually get a response like, “Snakes are more afraid of you, than you are of them.”

No way. Not possible.

If that were true, I want to know why they don't just stay the hell away from me?

Friday, July 22, 2011


I have nothing to blog about. No creativity left in my soul. No urge to do anything more than crawl out of bed and sit under the fan in my family room. Okay, so that's a tad extreme; I'm dressed and at work, but you get the point.

Why do I feel so blah?

It's so hot. And it's not just 90 and hot, it's 105 with a heat index of 115. Humidity with the ability to soak skin in sweat the instant you step outside is the water cooler topic of the hour.

Writing is a struggle for me in the summer. (I can hear the yeah right's coming from many in my writing group) Me and my family love the outdoors, we love theme parks, camping, hiking, exploring new towns, etc. BUT it's too hot to do most of those things. I get about ten e-mails a day from my county, telling me to stay indoors because the air quality is not good.

So I do.

But if I stay indoors, so do my kids and that means I can't write. Sure, I can try, but I may only accomplish writing ten words before Child Number 1, 2 or 3 has some desperate need of my attention.

I'm trying to figure out what the difference is between the winter and the summer. Why my kids don't bother me as much even though they can't go outside in the extreme cold either. Why distractions just don't happen when the temperatures dip below forty.

For one, I think we aren't as active, so therefore I can sit down and write without worry we'll spontaneously get up and go somewhere. But I think the main reason is the light.

Yes, I said it: the light.

The winter days are shorter, darker, filled with gloomy skies, leafless trees and lots of drab. Sigh. I long for those days.

No, I'm not depressed, but something about all that sparks my creativity. Sparks my need to imagine other worlds and magic and death. Gosh I do sound dark. I'm not. I just long for the winter, the peace it brings to my household, the many hours of writing time.

Soon the leaves will turn, the skies will gray and I'm sure I'll complain at least once or twice for the summer, but on a day like today, I cannot imagine why.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Car Ride Home

I picked up my kids from my mother-in-law's today. We had an interesting ride home. Piling three children--two of which are in car seats--into the backseat of my Jetta is always interesting, but somehow our conversation on this hot, muggy and downright intolerable day was more interesting than most.

"Mommy, why are yawns contagious," Ethan asked.

I yawned. "I don't know."

Cue laughter.

Cue contagious yawn by Ethan.

Cue more laughter.

Cue contagious yawn by Abby.

Cue hysterical giggles. This drive is the best thing I've experienced all day.

"So, Mommy, why do you think yawns are contagious?"

Dammit, I yawned again. "You don't even have to yawn and I catch it. I don't know, Ethan. You tell me."

Cue contagious yawn by Ethan.

Cue laughter.

Cue contagious yawn by Abby.

Cue laughter.

"Yawn," Ethan said, then giggled.

"Yawn," Abby repeated, then giggled.

And not to be left out, Clarissa said, "Ehhh."

This went on for the ten minutes it took us to drive out of my mother-in-law's neighborhood. Every time I heard the word 'yawn' I felt the urge to do just that. And every time I did, it went around in it's contagious way and we'd all giggle.

And I just yawned again.

My Best Brother

On Saturday my husband and I were in the bathroom, getting ready for a day out and about with the family. Ethan and Abby were already dressed and playing--or fighting--in his room.

A knock on the bathroom door.


"Yes, Ethan," I said in my kindest what's-going-on-now voice.

"Abby is annoying me. I'm trying to clean my room and she just won't shut up. She's going on and on and on--"

Gee, like someone else I know. "What does her talking have to do with you cleaning your room? She misses you, buddy, just ignore her and clean your room."

Shoulders slouched, head down, he marched back to his room.

Fighting continued.

"What's wrong with them?" I asked my husband who was standing behind me, checking himself in the mirror.

Instead of saying They're kids or They're brats or We're bad parents he tried to break down why they act the way they do. I'll spare you the details. God I love that man.

A door slammed. Feet pounded down the hallway.

I glanced at my wet hair--whatever! My hair rarely sees the blowdryer on the weekends anymore--then followed the sound of slamming doors.

Ethan's door was closed. "Knock, knock," I said. "Where's your sister?"

"I don't know," he said, with a touch of annoyance.

I'll deal with that later.

Opening Abby's door, I found her room empty, but heard little pouts escape her closet. Opening that door, I found Abby, sitting on her feet, arms crossed over her chest.

"Hi, Abby. What's the matter?" I asked.

She scooted on her knees a little further away from me. "He's supposed to be my best brother." She picked up some strange little piece of black plastic from the floor and threw it at the wall. "Hmph."

"Oh, baby, he is your best brother." Nevermind her only brother.

"No. He's mean. He doesn't love me." She's four, I'm not making this up.

"Of course he loves you, he's just tired is all. You do have a tendency to talk a lot and he was trying to clean his room. Were you being his best sister?"


"Oh, Abby, come here." I grabbed her and pulled her into my lap, then plotted out what I was going to say to my son.

You need to learn to get along. She loves you. You need to love her. You need to realize you are almost seven years older. You need to be her best brother. You need to be more understanding. I didn't know, but what I did know was me holding Abby was enough to calm her down.

In the end, I pulled Ethan aside and told him this story. I didn't try to put some message behind it in hopes they'd magically get along, I just told him how she felt about him and in return he gave her a hug and said he was sorry.

So, remember, no matter how annoying, how frustrating, how whatever your sister or brother is to you, always be the best brother or sister to them.

Monday, July 18, 2011

My First Love Affair

Fifth grade was a year of changes. The most important change was this year marked my last year of elementary school.

We were the big kids on campus. We held our heads high, snickered at the crying kindergartners, scared second graders out of our way with our holier-than-thou looks, and dreamed of sixth grade and all that came with it . . . like lockers.

If you believe I was involved in any of that, you’re crazy.

Okay, well maybe I dreamed about the lockers. I was mostly concerned I’d never figure out how to open mine, but I was not the scary type. All fifty pounds of me—yes I was scrawny—couldn’t scare a spider.

All that aside, the biggest permanent life changing event happened to me in fifth grade. It was wonderful and unexpected. It was music.

Mom and Dad bought me a radio. It was plastic, cheap and the most beautiful fuchsia color I’d ever seen. It even had a tape player! I’d spend hours adjusting the long antenna, trying to find a suitable station to listen to.

Country stations were the easiest to pick up and the songs were the easiest to memorize. Yes, this girl-who-swears-off-country-music knows quite a few older songs. No, don’t ask me to sing them cause I won’t.

Every day I’d adjust the tuner, discover a new music and love it as much as I did the one before it. I tried to fall in love with a particular style, but found I fell in love with all styles. Grunge, classic rock, classical, country, Christian contemporary . . . it didn’t matter. As long as the music offered me some emotion to connect with, I liked it.

The little radio wasn’t the only way music added itself to my life that year. Mr. Beatty, the middle and high school’s band director, paid the fifth grade class a visit. He wanted to talk to those of us who might have been interested in joining the band. I was desperate to join, but also scared to death I’d be awful and wind up being made fun of.

Creativity won out over fear and I signed up. Ideas of being the world’s best clarinet player or flutist filled my head. Any notion I may not be picked to play either of those instruments didn’t exist.

And I wasn’t.

The Double French Horn was assigned to me and I was devastated. Arguing the director’s choice . . . not an option.

So I played the French Horn and I loved it. The sounds were clear, warm, soul touching. I connected with music in a way I’d never been able to before because I was creating it.

Much like my words, creation of music offered me release of built up emotions. The differences I experienced with the other kids, the poverty, the feeling like I’d never be accepted—all of them went right into my music.

I’d cart my French Horn to and from school, memorize the songs and practice, practice, practice. And I went on to play for seven years. Enjoyed many concerts, many solos even. Fear of being terrible disappeared.

My band director was always pushing me to do more, always telling me I was more. Always helping me heal in some way or another. I don’t play now, although I’d like to, but I still keep in contact with Mr. Beatty. Just last week he suggested I join a local orchestra. I laughed . . . all these years later he still believes in me.

The only difference now is I believe in me, too.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Guest Blog with Derek Flynn

Today I welcome Derek Flynn to my blog. He's traveled all the way from Ireland to be here and he's brought memories with him. Awesome! So grab your cup of coffee, or depending on which time zone you're in, your soda, sit back, relax and read.

Some years back – when I lived in New York – we took a road trip to Virginia. We spent our first night in the Shenandoah Valley. The site of many a John Denver song, the awe-inspiring landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains more than lived up to their reputation. Coming from Ireland, the lush, green landscape wasn’t necessarily what impressed; it was the sheer expanse of it. I’ve never seen a country so big. You’ve got to wonder what the first settlers would have made of it, as they drove their makeshift wagons across the country, seeing nothing but more and more mountain ranges and forests. Did it scare the life out of them? Or were they just so glad to get away from it all – to find their own little piece of land – that they thought they were in paradise?

The following morning, we left the Shenandoah Valley and made our way into Pennsylvania. We decided to take the local roads instead of the Interstate, so as to better see the surrounding countryside and the little quaint towns that the aforementioned John Denver songs have conjured up for us, and we weren’t disappointed.

The map read like a Bruce Springsteen set list, with names like Waynesboro and Shawnee. But our next stop was a town called Intercourse, Pennsylvania. That’s right, Intercourse. The main claim to fame there is that the town and its surrounding area houses one of the largest settlements of Amish people in the U.S. It’s also the place where Peter Weir filmed the Amish’s crowning cinematic movement – the film Witness with Harrison Ford. Not surprising then that as soon as we turn on the TV in our motel, Witness is playing (I’m not sure if this is a lucky coincidence or if they just play the film continuously on the local station for the benefit of the tourists).

Intercourse was probably the oddest town on the trip. The Amish community shuns publicity and yet every year thousands of people descend on the town to gawk and point at them. The town meanwhile, is in the awkward position of wanting the tourist trade but realizing that it can’t seem too insensitive to the Amish community. Their solution has been to set up a visitor’s centre selling books and showing films aimed at promoting respect and understanding for the Amish and their way of life. Paradoxically while the town seems to be at pains to defend and explain them, the Amish themselves it would appear, couldn’t care less what people think.

Either way it was a strange sight driving along a country road at 11pm and coming upon a horse drawn buggy with its indicators and brake lights (recent additions that a new State law requires).

The next day, as we left Intercourse, we snapped our obligatory shot of the Amish and hightailed it out of town before any buggies give chase.

On the way home, I was thinking about the towns we’d passed through, and I kept coming back to the old maxim: nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t like to live there. As enjoyable to visit as these towns were for me, I couldn’t help wondering if, somewhere in the bowels of Intercourse or Waynesboro, there was a kid – just like me when I was their age and growing up in Ireland – straining at the leash to get out.

Derek Flynn is an Irish writer and musician. He has an Honours Degree in English Literature and Philosophy. He’s been published in a number of publications, including The Irish Times, and was First Runner-Up in the 2011 J. G. Farrell Award for Best Novel-In-Progress. His writing/music blog – ‘Rant, with Occasional Music’ – can be found here: http://derekflynn.wordpress.com and on Twitter, he can be found here: http://twitter.com/#!/derekf03

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Letter to My Slug

Every now and again a slug takes a seat in my car and does something that earns him or her a name. Stinky Guy. Abortion Lady. Oh Shit Bar Dude.

Today was a very special day because the gentleman who sat in the front seat earned many a name. Of course, I’m sure I earned a name in both slug’s minds because I failed miserably at maintaining a straight face. Giggles escaped my mouth and I wore a permanent shit eating grin. I had to read road signs to distract myself because today’s slug just kept adding new things to his name.

What did he do you ask? Well, I decided I’d write him a letter. Let’s see how it turns out.

Dear Mr. Clickity Clears Throat,

I appreciate your decision to join me on my journey into Washington D.C. today. Without you, my commute would be long and arduous. Okay, more long and more arduous.

Now that I’ve dropped you at your destination, there are a few things I’d like to take the time to point out. Do you have a few minutes? Sure you do, this is a letter. Sit back, relax and for Heaven’s sake, put that damn clickity phone away.

What’s that you ask? It’s your blackberry, buddy. It’s clickity. You never stopped typing on it. My low-playing music was accompanied by click, click-click, click-click-click-click, click. Quite annoying if I do say so myself.

Don’t throw stones in a glass house you say? Well, I have a touch-screen. Ever heard of one? I suggest, with the amount of time you spend on your phone, you invest in one. Put it in “Silent Mode” and you’ll never hear me complain again.

Now that I’ve addressed your cell phone usage, I’d like to ask how the ride was for you. Was it too cold? Too hot? Did you need more air, less? I don’t know, but what I do know is that you were not comfortable.

Every couple of minutes you’d adjust the air conditioning vent and clear your throat. I was unsure whether I was supposed to take your bodily function as some sort of grunting language or not, but I grew more and more agitated by not being able to please you.

I speak English. I’m positive you do, too, but I was wondering if “eh-hem” was a language growing in popularity or not. Maybe you were speaking things to me in your head and you were sure they’d come across loud and clear in your clearing of your throat, but they did not.

So now here’s how one of my favorite songs sounded. Wild, click, click-click, horses, click, eh-hem, couldn’t, vent squeak, click, drag me, click-click, away, power seat adjuster, wild wild, click-click-click-click, horses, eh-hem, vent squeak.

If my music bothered you, I’m sorry. I had to keep turning it up to drown out your clickity clears throating.

If it was something else bothering you, you could have asked me to make an adjustment. I am always happy to help out when I can. We are in this commuting thing together, we should both be comfortable.

I hope you’ll consider these things before you take a seat in my car again.


Aggravated Driver

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Guest Blog for Charity

So today I'm hosting my first ever guest blog and I couldn't be any happier. Not only is this for a good cause, it's for a good friend. Sarah Ballance and fellow author Elaina Lee have poured their creativity into a couple of fantastic short stories and Astrea Press is selling them with all proceeds going to charity.

How good are these short stories? Well, I can speak for Hawthorne at least and it's amazing. Read my first reaction here.

Now, read the details below, click the Buy Links and enjoy. It's reading you can feel good about.

From Sarah Ballance

Today I've brought a slightly different kind of guest blog, and I'd first like to thank Krystal Wade for offering her blog so fellow author Elaina Lee and I may share this with you. As you read through this information, please keep in mind our new titles—Elaina's TO URN HER LOVE and my story HAWTHORNE—are available for just $3 each with all proceeds to benefit the relief efforts highlighted below. We hope you'll consider a donation through a book purchase, and thank you very much for your time as you visit with us today.

WHEN DISASTER STRIKES, there's a moment when we forget all boundaries. Geographic, political, and socioeconomic divisions fall, and there, for some of the most painful, beautiful moments in time, we are one.

Then—hour by hour, day by day, week by week—the vast majority of us lucky enough to do so will move on. As the headlines change our focus moves elsewhere, and save for the occasional media update, many of us don't look back.

Some, however, struggle to look ahead. Here's a glimpse at the staggering numbers and the broken realities affected residents of Alabama and Japan must face every day.

ALABAMA TORNADOES – April 27, 2011

The mile-wide F5 tornado that literally sliced the state of Alabama in half stayed on the ground for an astonishing 300 miles—a record-breaking distance, according to National Geographic. It also left a path of utter devastation in its wake, and recovery hasn't been easy, as evidenced by these facts reported by blog.al.com.

• 25,081 families were denied FEMA insurance, including many whose homes had been wiped completely off their foundations. FEMA's reason? Insufficient damage.
• Following the April tornadoes, FEMA deployed 523 inspectors to the region. Together, they've inspected over 5,000 properties a day. That's a lot of destruction, folks.
• Of the $4 million in initial FEMA aid for Alabama, $3.1 million went for temporary housing alone.


A June 29 update from Red Cross Japan reveals the following sober statistics:

• 75,215 people from the three most affected prefectures are still living in shelters or other temporary housing. 7,427 are still missing, their loved ones fearing the worst.
• 119,776 claims for unemployment were filed between March 11 and June 8 in the three most affected prefectures.
• 97,183 people have been evacuated from the area surrounding the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. 35, 514 have left the Fukushima prefecture, forced to start over with nothing.

You Can Help … Today

Authors Elaina Lee and Sarah Ballance, through the generosity of the Astraea Press charity program, are proud to announce 100% of profits from their novellas below will go toward Alabama and Japan Disaster Relief, respectively. To help raise awareness, every comment on their individual blogs or guest blog posts (including this one!) from July 12 through August 8 will double as an entry into a weekly drawing for a $10 gift e-certificate or a free e-book. Winners will be announced on their blogs and contacted via e-mail. As an additional token of appreciation for your support, if you have purchased either of their titles you are invited to contact Elaina or Sarah for a free gift (while supplies last).

TO URN HER LOVE | Elaina Lee | romance | BUY LINK | BLOG

Caylie Abrahms bad day gets worse when the teen brother she's responsible for proudly hands her a gift. Just wanting to show how much he appreciates all his sister does for him, Kyle steals what he believes is an ornate glass vase. The gift is anything but however, and now Caylie has to find the owner of an urn. Worst yet, she has to explain her dear brother stole someone's loved one.

Against all odds she learns the urn belongs to Rick Marshall, her best friend from college, the man she'd poured her heart out to and been rejected by. She never thought she'd see him again, let alone have to hand him back his father in glass. Will her resolve remain strong in his presence, or will she suffer another broken heart?

HAWTHORNE | Sarah Ballance | mystery, romance | BUY LINK | BLOG

After a terrifying encounter with the unexplained, it took ten years and the news of her grandmother’s passing for Emma Grace Hawthorne to return to her childhood home. She sought peace in saying a proper goodbye, but what she found was an old love, a sordid family history, and a wrong only she could right.

Living in the shadow of Hawthorne Manor, Noah Garrett never forgot about Emma Grace. In a house full of secrets, his search for missing documents revealed a truth that could cost him everything. What he found gave Emma the freedom to walk away from the mansion, her heart free and clear, but at what price to Noah?

If you'd like to receive free promotional materials, please contact Elaina @ forthemusedesigns at gmail dot com or Sarah @ sarah at sarahballance dot com. Available while supplies last.

SOURCES: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/04/110428-tuscaloosa-birmingham-alabama-news-tornadoes-science-nation/ | AL.BLOG.COM http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2011/06/alabama_tornado_recovery_fema.html |RED CROSS JAPAN http://www.jrc.or.jp/vcms_lf/kokusai_290611.pdf | Photos by Elaina Lee (July 9, 2011)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Spiders – Oh My!

I remember third grade well. Hanging upside down from the playground monkey bars, walking to and from school every day, planting two-thousand Christmas trees by hand at the farm on the weekends, then the move and the stress that came along with it.

However, fourth grade holds only one memory for me. A memory I try hard to forget, but all these years later still hold onto. The mere typing of these words brings the dreaded creepy crawlies pricking up my arms and legs.

One crisp morning during the fall, my father came to wake me up. I was groggy and not entirely ready to start my day, but obeyed him so he wouldn’t tickle me out of bed. With a grunt I sat on the edge of my twin-sized mattress, checked my shoes for scorpions, put said shoes on so any mischievous scorpions hiding in the brown carpet didn’t sting me, then mumbled and grumbled my way to the bathroom.

Right away I knew something was off, but couldn’t figure out what. Exhaustion is to be expected, but I felt somewhat sick. Shaking the feeling off, I continued my morning rituals. While brushing my teeth I realized my right leg felt a tad itchy, so I reached down to scratch it.

Probably a tic bite or something. That’s what I thought, but what I felt scared the Wonder Woman panties right off me.

“Mom,” I called at the top of my lungs. My upper-thigh was hot, itchy and red. Swelling about the size of a baseball consumed my scrawny leg; once I noticed the hideous new body part, overreaction and a touch of hypochondria told me I was going to die.

My parents couldn’t get to me fast enough.

“Mommy,” I screamed again for fear the first echoing wave of panic hadn’t met her ears.

The floor rumbled from the weight of my parents running through the trailer. If I screamed it usually involved creatures, but if I screamed twice it usually involved . . . well there was no usual for this.

Mom arrived first, pink rollers falling out of her hair, sweating, make-up smeared on her face. “What is it?”

By this time I was crying and hysterical. All I could do was point at my leg, which I swear had grown in size in the time it took for help to arrive.

I’m sure she saw my leg, but I couldn’t see her face to gauge her expression on how bad it was. All she said was, “Oh. Don’t touch it. Ken, take a look at this.”

Dad walked in, and in his usual way, touched the-thing-that-was-going-to-kill-me too hard, bringing the tears to rushing river mode. “Looks like a spider bite,” he said, receiving a smack from me to get his fingers off it.

A quick debate took place, then a trip to the doctor confirmed the bite. I received an injection of steroids and antibiotics, a black pen to mark the growth progress—hey, it really was growing—and a recommendation for ice-treatments. Doctor said some mumbo-jumbo to Mom and sent us on our way.

You’d think this would have gotten me out of school for the day, right? Nope. Mom and Dad were struggling to make ends meet; they had to go to work, so I had to go to school.

Midway through the day my leg hurt so bad walking became near impossible. There was no one to call, no way to get home, I was stuck. Miserable. Still believing I was going to die, I spent most of the afternoon in the nurse’s office. I cannot remember what her name was, what she looked like or really what she did other than provide a plastic bag full of ice.

The end of the day bell rang. Nurse Whatsername helped me to the bus and there I sat, feeling so insanely sorry for myself, holding the bag of ice to my bite. Of course when the other kids boarded the bus, I became interesting. Everyone vied for a chance to see my leg. Oohs and aahs came from the spectators, further fueling my hypochondria.

One kid offered me his colored pencil and helped me tie the bag with it so I didn’t have to keep holding the cold ice. The gesture was sweet, really, but about a block from home he wanted his pencil back and I couldn’t give it to him fast enough. He yanked on the bag, and I screamed. Shrill and ear piercing.

My older brother knocked the kid back in his seat, helped me get the pencil—which was now holding the bag on so tight it squeezed and made the bite throb—out, handed it back to the kid, then when the bus arrived at our stop, Kris scooped me up and carried me home.

He still harasses me about that day. How he had to carry me to the house. How I was always finding ways to get in trouble. How I was a pain in the ass. BUT really I won that day. My big brother proved how much he loved me, and he proved it in front of a bunch of our peers. Awesome!

The bite took a couple weeks to heal. There are no permanent scars, but I now live in fear of the little eight-legged creatures. And while there may not be any other memories from that year, I can imagine nothing better than learning about how much you’re loved in such an unusual way.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Thank You to a Friend

Tweeters come, and tweeters go, but there is one I’ll always follow. His name is Al, he’s quite a pal and as always, he’s found a way to make my day. You should give him a look, he’s written a book about crooks and you can even read it on your nook—or other electronic device. Really guys, my poetry is not great, but Al Boudreau is.

You can buy his book In Memory of Greed at Amazon or B&N. Find and follow him on Twitter @threecifer or go like him on Facebook Al Boudreau

Running Out of Gas

I am a planner. If my family is going on a trip or if I’m making my daily commute to D.C., you can be sure my gas tank is filled with enough fuel to get me wherever I’m going.

This morning, like so many mornings, I saw a commuter stranded on the side of the road. No telling how long she’d been there or how she managed to get to a gas station and fill the five-gallon jug she was emptying into her tank with fuel.

Shaking my head, I told myself that will never be me. I don’t care how late I am for work or how fast I need to get somewhere; I will always take time to fill up.

Then my muse slapped me upside the head and said, “No you don’t, you idiot, think about how tired you are right now. You haven’t filled-up for months.”

Those may not have been the exact words of my muse, but they’re close. Slightly irritated by how right the idea was, I thought about myself and many of my writer friends for awhile.

A question popped into my head, it asked, “As writers do we get so excited, or worry about missing out on some self-imposed deadline that we ignore our basic human needs?”

I know how I would answer that question, and the time-stamps on many of my Tweets, Blog Posts, and Word work files prove it. I’ll spare you details of all the things I miss out on, save for one: sleep.

Midnight has become my new bedtime while five-thirty a.m. is still the time I have to wake up. Occasionally my husband mentions I’m like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings. He compares my books and writing to “Precious” and my addiction and puffy eyes to that of Gollum’s.

After shooting an evil glare in my dear husband’s direction, I continue working on my precious . . . I mean my books without end and go to bed exhausted and wake up the same.

Wednesday I droned around work all day, bleary eyed and cranky and by the time I arrived home in the evening, was ready for bed. Guilt and indecision befuddled me and after writing only twenty words—and subsequently deleting all twenty—I’d decided bed was my best bet.

I ran out of gas.

From now on, I promise myself to be better. To work until I’m tired and not push past to reach the all consuming self-imposed deadlines. Well, I’ll try at least. Those types of promises are difficult to keep when words are flowing.

So how about you, Writer-Reading-My-Blog or Anyone-Who-Can-Relate, do you ever run out of gas?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Happy Birthday

Today is my birthday. So in honor of my X amount of years on this earth--like I was going to tell you how old I am--I am on strike. No blog posts, no twittering, no writing.

Okay so maybe going on strike is something I cannot handle. I mean, I did write a blog post and you can be sure I'll relay it on twitter and NO WRITING? Are you kidding me?

At least I can daydream about going on strike.

I'll end with a Happy Birthday to me and my friend Sarah Ballance. Thanks for all the fireworks on Monday in honor of us. We both appreciate it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Adventures of Slugging

Going home from work, my foot rests heavy on the gas pedal. I push eighty miles per hour in the HOV lanes while being passed by people in a much bigger rush than me. The state troopers don’t mind the speed and neither do the hitchhikers, just so long as my car doesn’t break down, I don’t run out of gas and I keep the temperature at an even level.
Then we reach the last mile of our dedicated high occupancy lanes and have to merge from two down to one, then into the left lane of the dreaded Interstate 95. When traffic comes to a stand still, I shift the car to neutral, release a heavy sigh, turn down the music, then grab my phone to check my e-mail.
“I can’t believe you drive a stick-shift in this traffic,” says the passenger in the front seat, staring at my shifter like it’s a hideous beast.
This is something I hear frequently, and it’s something I have a generic response for.
“Oh, yeah. Special ordered this baby. Driving an automatic doesn’t give you the same control.” I return to checking my e-mail because I’ve had this conversation a million times and it’s lost the ability to hold my attention.
“Really? But doesn’t your foot get tired?”
Like I haven’t heard that one before. Twelve years of the same comments. People are so similar it's scary.
Laugh at funny e-mail received via twitter.
Wait fifteen minutes.
Turn music back on.
Get bored and desire more conversation. “Well, I guess it does get tired on occasion.”
Bold-faced liar. I hate myself for it, but that’s what they want to hear, so that’s what they get.
“I’d imagine. Bet it makes you wish you had a time machine.”
Time machine? “You mean teleportation?”
“Oh, yeah. Don’t you wish they’d invent it already?”
This is another conversation I’ve had a million times, but I give in. Another heavy sigh. “Yeah. But telecommuting can do the same thing and we have the technology for that, but employers are too afraid to manage their people. So we all suffer for it.”
This always gets a rise out of people…especially when they are manager-types.
“There is no way to monitor people when they work from home.” Standard response.
“No? Won’t you know if the work is getting done—at home or at work?”
“It’s not the same,” says defensive front seat passenger.
A quick glance in the rearview tells me either the back seat passenger enjoys my provoking nature or is listening to iPod. Let’s pretend this back seat passenger is pleased with my skills of debate.
Satisfaction fills me. “I’m not sure why not. People either do the work or they don’t.”
“I see what you mean.” Meaning, I don’t agree with you, but would like to change the subject. “Sure would like teleportation to be invented.”
Sigh. Dear Managers, we have the technology to change the traffic problems. We have the technology to improve people’s quality of life and have them home more often. We have the technology to reduce emissions from our smog creating vehicles (I drive a blue diesel so I don’t want to hear any complaints). We have everything we need to fix the problems, yet control is what motivates. Control to have bodies to manage. Control to have people to yell at face-to-face if necessary.
So instead of using our wonderful technology, we daydream about teleportation. Something that will never in our lifetimes provide us transportation to work.
Think about it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July

For one reason or another family didn’t come to visit us often. Many used the excuse there wasn’t enough room, but we were poor, lived in a dilapidated trailer in the middle of nowhere and both my parents were battling depression. Who would want to visit?

So when my oldest brother and his now wife came on the 4th of July it was like a birthday present opened early—three days early to be exact. Since Kenny is twelve years older than me, he was always someone I looked up to, latched on to and wanted to be just like when I grew up.

When I heard he was coming, my parents could barely get me away from the window. I wanted to know exactly when he pulled up the driveway. I didn’t care if I had to sit there for hours. After I saw him, I ran about the small trailer in frenzy until I found my way outside. Once out of his car, he was all mine and after he peeled my scrawny arms and legs from the biggest bear hug I could muster, we had one of the best July 4ths ever.

Our five-acre pond provided hours of fishing. I cannot recall if we caught anything, though I do remember snapping turtles being the most popular inhabitant in the water. Later we tossed around horseshoes, and I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt I didn’t win. I have no aim.

Dinner came in the form of barbequed chicken over the grill, accompanied by all the usual summer holiday trimmings. Our glasses were filled and re-filled with sweet iced tea, condensation dripped down the sides from the hot Texas air. Eventually the heat drove us to swimming and even the poorest people have pools in the south.

As the day moved along the sun faded and our excitement grew. It was time for fireworks and back then, fireworks were fun. Roman candles, bottle rockets, black-cats, mortars. Anything was game and my big brother never disappointed.

I sat between my mom and my other brother Kris, with eyes wide and a permanent smile plastered to my face. An assortment of beautiful colors sprayed into the clear Texas sky, illuminating everyone’s skin with blues and reds as the bombs burst in air.

When we ran out of explosives, we ventured indoors, sat around the kitchen table and played our family’s favorite game: UNO. We are all super competitive, so if you ask any of us we’d each claim victory. Who actually won? I don’t know. Probably me.

Throughout the events of the day I continued thinking, “This is all for my birthday.” And even though it wasn’t, being with my family—at least most of my family—was the greatest gift I could have ever asked for.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July and you get to spend it with those you love. Make it special, because one day they may write about it.

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