I took some time this morning to look through some of my old writing notebooks.
I wish I hadn’t.
It wasn’t quite as sweet and mellow as the Little River Band song. Interspersed in my writing are little journal excerpts. I came across one such from February of 2006. I was living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the time. I was extremely active in my church. Hoping for better days coming, I had just been released from an incredibly demanding calling teaching 13-17-year-old girls. This included one-hour lessons every Sunday, ninety-minute activities every Wednesday night, a week-long ‘girls camp’ in the summer along with the various fundraising car washes, bake sales and babysitting nights included. I had worked with wonderful women but I was so relieved to be done. I do not like teenage girls at all.
(Well, I didn’t then but, NOW, these two are perfect!)
Back to my journal. As I read over the rest of the entry from February 19, 2006, I felt my generally cheerful mood evaporate. It has taken me several hours to really pinpoint what is going on. In 2006 my bishop (leader of the congregation) called me into his office to tell me (NOTE- I’m going to quote from my journal because of my currently evolving belief system)
(the Bishop) said he has felt strongly that he needed to tell me that the Lord is pleased with my efforts and with how high I set the bar, but that it is okay to take care of yourself….and not to run faster than you are able.
One might wonder why that would ruin my day? I loved hearing it! I was finally doing something right!
I didn’t take the advice.
A month later I was pregnant, had a calling in the demanding women’s program and continued to pile on the responsibilities. Oh, if I could have one short conversation with myself that month!
I loved living in Pittsburgh, but I was not good to myself there. Many wonderful things happened while I was there but I barely made it out of there in one piece. Amazingly it would take five more years for me to finally crash and burn. Seven years after that and I feel like I’m just barely coming out of the fog.
I admit I’m disappointed by the number of years it has taken me to learn a simple lesson.
When I’m really disappointed and low, there are only two things that can bring me out of my funk with alacrity; my Itunes playlist played loud enough to annoy the neighbors and Thorin Oakenshield. Yeah, he knows something about disappointment. When I finally fell apart, he helped me make sense of it.
He let me cut my baby writing teeth on him. My first writing that was read by other people. I didn’t like his story any better than mine, so I lent a hand.
Last week I brainstormed the beginning of a new sex scene for my new, as of yet untitled, book. Last night my story caught up to the scene. It will fall in Chapter 2, for anyone keeping count. In this post I roughed out the beginning of the sex scene. Gave a little peek into my thought process, and probably shocked a couple of people with my wandering mind.
Last night I took what I had written, directly off the post, and pasted it into my story. Then I went over it again, so it fit seamlessly into what I’ve written so far. Mike has already showed up in the story and taken on some characteristics and history. I thought you might like watching this part evolve. Because this blog isn’t an M or Mature rated blog, I won’t post the scene in its entirety but I will periodically post the draft as I complete or improve it.
So here is the original draft, in blue.
Charley watched Mike hobble his horse. She’d staked out her usual spot in the river. Scalding water bubbled a few feet away from her its steaming water warming the rocks in the cold river. She leaned her cheek on her knees, her long hair tickling her calves in the current. He straightened, a little stiffly, and glanced over, pulling off his grey North Face beanie. He was 6’5″, heavy shoulders sprinkled liberally with freckles. Long muscled arms, long, long legs, he managed a crew for Nick, spent his days keeping the town running. A jack of all trades, he could fix anything. He kept his crew hopping keeping water pipes, electrical wiring, refrigeration and sewer up and running. At home, he was quiet, loved his vegetable garden and brought water grilling to an unbelievable level. People brought their beef from miles away to have him prepare it. Charley had tasked Nick with finding a Husky puppy for Mike, so convinced it would be love at first sight.“You’re taking your sweet time.”
He tucked his beanie in his back pocket. “Is there something you need, Mistress?”
Charley’s toes curled in the pebbles. “How do you do that, with that ridiculous title?”
Mike grins, he’d shaved today. No more scraggly goatee. A smile teased Charley’s lips, she wondered what else he’d shaved as he grabbed the hem of his t-shirt.
The interesting thing, to me, is how I start my characters with something simple like what you just read, and by the time I go through it a second time, who they are begins to come into sharper focus. They take on their own sexual identity, if you will. Mike is completely different from the other four men in my story. He certainly has his place in Charley’s world. This is the second draft, in burgundy. Where we see Charley understands Mike in a way some of us may not be comfortable with. Just a little warning.
I watch Mike hobble Jasper. He’s the only one who can. Even Jasper bows to man-in-charge Mike. I’ve staked out my usual spot in Holiday River. Precisely three feet away from where the steady bubble of hot water joins cold river water. By the time it swirls softly around me, it’s just a hair warmer than bath water with the occasional rivulet of shockingly cold water swirls around just below my shoulders. I lean my cheek on my knees, letting the current wrap my hair under my knees, tickling my calves. Mike straightens, a little stiffly, pulling off his gray NorthFace beanie and running a rough hand through his sweaty hair. Rain earlier has cooled it down, but we’re barely below eighty even now. Mike reaches the river bank, and pulls off his sweaty t-shirt. He has wide heavy shoulders sprinkled liberally with freckles. Long muscled arms, long long legs. The man can fix anything, a real jack of all trades. He runs a crew in town for Nick. Spends his days keeping the town and our little farm running. At work he runs the show, teaching and managing repairs of every kind. At home he is quiet, likes spending time barefoot in his vegetable garden. His water grilling and smoking technique’s are known even down into Texas. People from miles around bring their beef for him to preserve in the fall. His energy, never-ending. I’ve asked Nick to keep his eyes open for a Husky dog. I doubt he’ll ever find one but it’s the only animal that might have a chance keeping up with him. I’d feel better if a dog ran off with him every night on his seven-mile circuit around the island. Dogs are hard to find now, especially big smart ones. I realize Mike hasn’t moved since taking his shirt off. “You’re taking your sweet time.” He tucks his beanie in the back pocket of his jeans. “Is there something you need, Mistress?” My toes curl in the smooth pebbles that cover the bottom of our little man-made pool. I rub my lips lightly across the goose-flesh on my arm. “How do you do that, with that ridiculous title?” Mike grins, and I realize he’s shaved today. No more scraggly goatee, that smooth bare expanse of chest. A smile pulls at the corner of my lips. I wonder what else he’s shaved? Pushing off the bottom, I float closer to where he is. “Show me more.” His throat spasms a bit, maybe he just swallowed. I’m tempted to let him look around, make sure the coast is clear. He’ll do it, even though he knows it earns him an immediate punishment. He should trust his Mistress. “We’re alone here.” I do smile after I say it. He gets a lesser beating for making me say it and he knows that too. Sitting down on the nearest boulder, he unlaces his work boots, setting them aside. Stuffing his socks inside them. Standing, he frees the button of his jeans, a simple tug dropping the zipper. I can read American Eagle on his waistband. He slides his pants down, folding them over his shoes.
“You must think I’ve come unprepared. You should know, I’m not.” I say. “I just wanted you to enjoy the show, Mistress.” “Really?” He shucks off his underwear, stepping down into the water. “Oh, now you’re in a hurry? Stay right there,” I say. My voice is soft, no hint of command, in my opinion. He stands stock still, the water just above his knees. I love the obedience, I don’t understand why. “It’s been too long since I’ve done a proper inspection.”
His eyes close, he breathes out, long and slow. Taking a step to widen his stance, he lifts his arms, elbows wide, fingers lacing behind his neck.
This is the moment, in writing, where I get excited! This is when my curiosity takes the driver’s seat and writing isn’t just a chore, it’s an adventure. Writing about these people, finding out how they fit together, how they clash, what makes this work. This is why I love to write. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a squeaky clean read with barely a kiss or two, like Kawaipuna Cottage, a steamier love story like Solitude, or downright erotic adventure like My Perfect Mistress. I love that moment my characters click with me and I realize, there is so much more about them I want to know.
Personally, I think that much of my angst over writing comes from not knowing what tools are out there to help me, or being to cheap to purchase them. I found the Grammarly app in late June but really didn’t use it till the week of the 4th of July (My favorite Brit’s birthday! I usually celebrate with a big parade. I get so carried away with the fireworks I somtimes forget to tell her I remembered her birthday in a GRAND style. Happy belated Birthday CATY!)
This morning I got this cool report from Grammarly! I didn’t know they did this, but it’s kind of like having a little cheerleader. She compared me to Tolstoy! Yes, really.
I’m on a 7 week writing streak.
I’ve written 15,805 words. (Don’t get too excited they’re 97% old words and 805 new words)
I was more productive than 96% of Grammarly users.
I was more accurate than 57% of Grammarly users.
I used more unique words than 93% of Grammarly users.
My top three mistakes….missing comma in compound sentence 94 times. Missing comma after an introduction 52 times. Comma splice 49 times. (Did I call it last post or what!?!)
My spelling adversaries were Vehichle vs vehicle, first month vs first-month, and minuscule vs miniscule.
I enjoyed the update, and since I’m sitting at the computer I think I’ll put on my headphones and see how Charley is breaking in the new guy in the Harem err, on the farm. I just call him the Cowboy. I need a good cowboy name for a kid (well, we’ll say he’s 28-ish) from Texas.
All of last week, I spent editing an older book of mine, getting it ready to put back on Amazon. I corrected spelling errors, things like bid instead of bird, and your instead of you’re. There were an embarrassing number of mistakes like that. I capitalized, italicized, and did lots of work with commas. I struggle with commas, a lot. The number one hardest part of self-publishing, editing.
I was re-reading as I worked. I’d forgotten how much I like this story. So why isn’t it available online? That’s the second hardest part of self-publishing, Haters. Over a year ago, I lent this story to a person who was looking for a good story to read. Yes, I’ll never do that again. She sent me back an email that quite simply, shredded me. I took the book off Amazon and that was that.
Here I am, a year later. A little wiser, skin a bit thicker. I love my story. If you don’t, keep it to yourself. If you have something constructive to say, bring it, I can handle it. Just don’t be an asshole. You’d think that would be simple. It isn’t.
So I’ve sewed up the torn places and decided to put it online again. I’ve edited to the very best of my ability. Now for the third hardest part of Self-publishing. The layout. I’ve spent four days working on the layout. I’ve sucked a friend in to help me with the layout and with her most excellent help, I still haven’t got it right. There are still four pages whose quotation marks fall inside the gutter and Amazon won’t budge. I have to fix it. I have to remember who made the cover, ask them to enlarge it by a minuscule measurement that I don’t have. And I have to ask myself why? Why are you going through all of this for a second time with this book?
I’m doing it all again because some idiot bully out there in the internet-verse called my book fat.
A couple of things happened this year around Father’s Day.
The week before Father’s Day, we came to the end of the probate process for my Adopted Father’s estate.
My family moved for the second time in eight months. This time including the stress of a closing.
On Father’s day, I was cleaning the empty apartment. I also read the first message from my oldest sister. She sent never before seen pictures of our dad, as she called him. It took my breath away. I sat on the toilet seat in my empty apartment and cried. Happy, heartbroken tears.
In the week after Father’s Day, I celebrated a milestone birthday. I also had my gas service turned off because of a leak. I got it fixed and was told my AC unit was freezing over, that was also the day the clothes washer started leaking.
The Friday after Father’s Day my almost youngest adopted sister and her kids came to visit. It was wonderful to have her here. I think North Dakota left a very favorable impression on her what with our fat raindrops, big beautiful sky, and bazillion shades of green. Also, the cousins adore each other and get along – 99% of the time, see this video in my previous post.
Father’s Day hasn’t been out of my thoughts this whole time. The joy of learning about my birth father from the kids that grew up with him battles constantly with the angst willed to me and my adopted siblings by the man who fostered us.
I posted this on my private Facebook Page for Mother’s Day.
This Mother’s Day is a little bittersweet. I finally know them both, but don’t have either. For Vicky Sue, the beautiful girl who gave up so much, thank you for choosing life for me and hoping for brighter days. Thank you for not leaving me alone; he is a beautiful miracle in my life. You might smile if you knew it was your eldest granddaughter who was the final piece of the puzzle. She will only ever be a joy to me. I think you’d love the other three as well. ******, you were right about so many things (not everything 😜) thank you for doing the dirty work. Thank you for not giving up until you got what you wanted, all seven and then some. I love you, I miss you. Happy Mother’s Day.
I could have posted on Father’s Day, I had the evening but not the words.
My two dads were born only six months apart. One in Chicago and one in Idaho. One was an only child, the other was raised like one, his next older sibling more than 12 years older than he. Basically, two very spoiled boys. They both had hazel green eyes and dark hair. They even used the same aftershave, Aqua Velva or Old Spice. The more I learn, the more similar they become. That said, there are a few glaring differences.
John never knew about me.
Dad was on a field trip when he heard about my birth.
John was married four times.
My dad and mom were married to each other for almost sixty years.
Though he didn’t live with his kids, the pictures, stories, and memories of John are littered with laughter and love, camping trips, boating, swimming and bike rides.
When my siblings and I reminisce it’s always about the work. My dad was not a fan of leisure in any form, at home. We worked together; potting trees, digging trees, weeding the garden, trimming trees, waiting on customers, potting in the greenhouses, watering the greenhouses, watering the potted trees, moving pipe, mowing, harvesting, canning food, gathering eggs, feeding pigs, feeding chickens, feeding lambs, feeding geese, feeding turkeys. When we did play, it was outside. The boys chased us with grasshoppers, threw gravel filled mud balls at us. When we screamed loud enough mom sent the boys to work with dad. I say, at home, because at his work as a geology teacher at a junior college he built himself quite a leisure schedule. He was known for his epic field trips into the surrounding National Parks and Forests. His classes frequently had waiting lists. At home, his wife and children also had waiting lists, of chores.
Though John divorced the mother of his children, he made himself a fixture in their lives and the lives of his grandchildren.
Two Christmases ago, after my mom had died, we got a huge box from my dad and his newly minted second wife. When we opened it on Christmas, there was a princess themed fleece blanket. The note sitting atop it said, For one of the girls. The youngest (10) claimed it and pulled it out of the box. Next was a Princess Sophia fleece blanket with the note, For the other one. The twelve-year-old was stuck with it. Under it was an Indian motif fleece blanket labeled, For Jacob. Well, one out of three isn’t too bad, right?
John’s third wife is still in friendly contact with his children, and their mom.
Dad’s second wife is busily stripping and selling off his and mom’s things from their retirement home because “He told me everything is mine to do with what I want.”
John died in his sleep at his daughter’s house. Many tears were shed.
Dad died on the toilet of his retirement home. No one knows for sure when he died, he was found after midnight when his second wife’s son-in-law was sent to find him. I wonder if anyone cried? I imagine so, their meal ticket had just been punched for the last time. Now they were going to have to start paying for everything except the house out of their own pockets. It was probably buckets of tears when they realized.
So what do I say on Father’s Day? My Facebook post.
I didn’t post on Father’s Day this year, it felt too complicated. However, before June ends, I want to recognize and honor my birth father.
John was born in Chicago and grew up in Downey, California. He was a beloved father, a charming husband a few times over, and a playful grandfather. He died far too young but securely held in the love of his children.
He loved the ocean, boating, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving. His favorite day trip was out to Catalina Island. He was charismatic, funny, handsome and a dynamite salesman. I’ve been told he could sell you the pants you were already wearing. He had wit and a way with the spoken word. He got himself out of many a rough patch with that silver tongue. He could make you feel you were the smartest, funniest, most important, most loved person in the world.
It is believed that he knew nothing about me. Didn’t know I was born or adopted or that I existed. Even so, he has blessed me. Happy Father’s Day, John.
I have two cats. We adopted them from a home they couldn’t stay in any longer about three years ago. Santa Claus brought them over. They are sweet cats, pretty young still and both fixed.
Jenni looks like part Siamese part Blue Russian. She is very shy and quite anxious around any man except my son whom she adores. She likes quiet dark places and we sometimes have trouble with her sitting in the litter box. UGH! She’s loving the new place though and most days can be found here.
A good sign! I think she likes it.
My other cat is a beautiful girl, also a Siamese mix. These two are sisters, we were told. So, where Jenni is a homebody to its introverted max, Luna thinks she is a wild kitty.
I just adore my girl, with her slightly crossed eyes and mellow personality. But this darn cat keeps sneaking out of the house! I don’t realize it until she’s been gone a day. Then I start calling and asking the family if anyone’s seen her. We’ve had some huge thunderstorms coming through at night and fireworks every night since June 27th. The weekend before last she got out and I would periodically step out and call her, it was raining and I was worried. As soon as I called her she peeked out from under my car and meowed for me to come get her. I had to coax her out to take her into the house. It happened again last saturday, but I called and called for two days and nothing!
This morning I called and called again before I ran errands. Nothing. Fast forward a couple of hours later, I get out of my car, look around, call for Luna. Nothing. I’m halfway into the house and I see her lying in the shade under the neighbor’s car looking like the Sphinx, all cool and collected.
“Luna! Where have you been?”
“I know! Come in and eat.”
“Meow (stretches, stands up and trots across the lawn meowing the whole way) meow, meow, meooooooow.”
“Well, quit sneaking out then!”
“No, you are not a wild kitty!”
“I’m opening the door as fast as I can, stinker!”
“Yes, your highness, I’ll get your dish right away.”
She tries to trip me the entire time I’m fixing her dinner, meowing the whole story of her adventure. I set her bowl down and Jenni comes running to give her sister a sniff or two. After gorging herself, Luna heads to her favorite spot to stretch out and sleep her day away. Home safe again, and dreaming of her next wild adventure while the human in the house affixes a bell to her collar.