Friday Sinema: Rabbit Holes

Okay. So, yes, I’ve been chasing that white rabbit probably too much this week, but this is a trail I’m glad I followed. First, if you are familiar with Eurovision, raise your hand. I sort of am. I have an acquaintance who is hooked on it. It’s been around since 1956. Basically, each country submits an original song that best represents their country and then it’s performed with costumes and staging and all sorts of stuff. Evidently, it can get crazy. Hence, my not following that trail because I have enough distractions, thank you very much. That said, I did search YouTube for this video. Why? Because Ukraine won this year. And because the band slipped across the border into Poland to perform and once the show was over, they slipped back over the border to fight. Yeah, my nose is burning and I’m fighting tears. Anyway, cheers to Ukraine and her heroes! Have a great weekend. I’m chasing softball rabbits for the duration. What are you chasing?

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Thursday Thoughts: Universal Spook

When this message from the Big U crossed my monitor, it hit me two ways. First, because I often struggle with my writing, I tend to focus these tidbits of wisdom on that. And this one definitely fits. I’ve talked before about POV (Point OF View), and how difficult it is sometimes to decide whose should be prominent in a scene. Even when using a “cinematic” POV, I tend to have a lead character who observes/tells/opines the main thread, with other characters chiming in with their two cents worth. Sometimes, I know automatically who has the main POV. Sometimes, I have to figure it out by looking at things through both pairs of eyes. There are several authors who write scenes–and sometimes entire books–from the POV of the heroine and then the hero. Jeanne Frost recently released a version of her first Night Huntress series, HALWAY TO THE GRAVE, told in Cat’s POV, with a version of the very same events in Bones’s POV, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GRAVE. I find such exercises fascinating.

Sometimes, Silver, finally seeing things from someone else’s perspective can totally change your life.

Which, sometimes, explains exactly why they’re there.

Spooké,
The Universe
©www.tut.com

Like in the song, Silver, you know, “Spooky,” but it sounds like Spoo-kay.

And that’s the writing portion of today’s post. The other thought I had is a bit more…I don’t want to say political because my thoughts aren’t really about politics. It’s about civility and open-mindedness and communication. There’s too little of that in the world right now. Sadly, the side that touts how open and inclusive they are remain the most close-minded. They drown out any viewpoint but their own and often go to extremes to do so. I got caught up in one of those situations and it broke my heart. I had to walk away from something very near and dear to my heart. I can’t say more than that because I have both personal and professional ethics but it still hurts to this day. As I watch what is happening in the world today, I despair. And I realize even more how important it is to have a place to escape to, a place where people overcome the obstacles and who find their Happy Ever After. Yes, I’ve often said this is why I write romance. And it remains even truer today than ever.

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Wednesday Words: Double Shares

Once again, I’m doubling up on my share of writing this week. Twice the prompts, twice the words. That’s my new motton. Today, it’s **DOUBLE** (#1lineWed) and “I did my share.” (#ThursdayThreads) Warning, this scene is totally a first–and VERY rough–draft and totally needs a lot more work and a lont more details for it to make total sense but at the moment, I’m just happy to get new words down for CROSSFIRE while I’m also revising UNDER THE ASSASSIN’S MOON. Priorities, don’cha know. This scene takes place after last week’s scene. Sort of. Hopefully, you don’t get too lost and makes some semblance of sense.
****
Meg was on a mission. Kin avoided her all day and she was sick and tired of whatever stick he had up his arse. It wasn’t her fault she’d been stalked by a wolf and had to be rescued by Duke and Loch. So what if Kin wasn’t the run to ride in like a white knight? She didn’t make the duty roster. If he wanted to get pissy, he could take it up with Duke.

Luckily, they’d chased off the wolf rather than shooting him. Sighing deeply, she admitted that the animal was magnificent and yet he didn’t seem to be freaked out by humans. Curious that. In fact, he acted a lot like the wolves at the sanctuary where she’d been volunteering when the war broke out. So far as she was aware, that was on the only wolf sanctuary in Ukraine. Maybe he’d been part of a catch and release program? A dilemma for another day, she decided after giving Kin’s bedroll a kick. He’d probably volunteered for patrol duty again just to avoid her. Well, she’d put an end to that.

When no one was looking, she slipped out of camp and headed in the direction she’d last seen the maddening man. She was maybe a quarter of a mile from camp when she heard rustling in the bushes. Creeping along, she thought she’d managed to catch Kin. Then a branch snapped beneath her feet. Forgetting about stealth mode, she rushed into a small clearing—only to find Dalton and Loch standing there, their hands behind their backs.

She stared at Dalton before shifting her gaze to Loch for an equally long look. Neither man spoke. They weren’t stupid. When confronted by a woman with hands on her hips, pursed lips, and fire in her eyes, a smart man invoked the right to remain silent.

She finally rolled her eyes and grimaced. “You two are nothing but trouble.” She pivoted and headed back toward camp.

“Double the trouble, double the fun,” Dalton murmured as Meg marched away.

“You were supposed to distract her,” Loch said.

“Hey, I did my share.” Dalton dug through a bush and snagged the boots he’d stashed there. “Here. He’ll need these.” He held up the combat boots and scrunched up his nose. “Jeez. A little baking soda would help.”

Loch had squatted and was fishing out a pair of combat pants, a T-shirt, and other items. “Try sniffin’ yer own, surfer boy. Yers smell of spoilt onions.”

“Dude, seriously? Why the hell are you smellin’ my boots?” A low growl raised the hair on Dalton’s arms. He glanced toward a dark patch of shadow between two new-growth trees. “Oh hold your horses, dude. You should thank the gods that we came along when we did. Otherwise, you’d have been caught with your pants down and your fur on.”

The large silver wolf stalked onto the path. Dalton held up his hands and backed away. “Fine. Your feet don’t stink.”

A cleared throat froze men and wolf alike.

“Who is that?” Meg was back. And pointing at Kin’s wolf.
****
Writers, snippets to share? Readers, which is more fun, double trouble or doing your share? 😉

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Tuesday Titles: Play It Again, Sam

So. Due to cirucmstances and on account of becuase, I fell down a YouTube rabbit hole yesterday. Boone kept LG up most of the night and when he got me up at 4:45 (Boone, not LG), I just stayed up. After dealing with the outdoor critters, making coffee, and two potty breaks for Boone and a bark break for Jake, I got Boone settled under my desk. LG managed to fall asleep on the couch so I postponed my Wallyworld trip (I’m probably there as you read this) and settled in with coffee and my blog roll. I have certain blogs and sites that I visit when there are fresh posts. One of them was a cat video, which is how I ended up on YouTube. I really liked the underlying instrumental so I went to check if the poster had listed the music. Turns out it’s a song called “Hooky and Sloane” by Bird Creek and it’s part of the YouTube Audio Library. I have no clue what that means but I’ll be checking it out. Anyway, the next video that popped up was a compilation of The Voice blind auditions from around the world. Who knew The Voice is in like EVERY country!

Time to backtrack. I use music for inpisration. A lot. COWGIRLS DON’T CRY was written after listening to Reba McIntire’s song of the same title. All the books of my Penumbra Papers series has a soundtrack. I have a whole list of possibilities in a file and I carry a little notebook around to jot down songs and artists when they strike a chord. No pun intended.

So, to the present now. I’m watching this 2-hour long video of all these singers in all these countries. Surprisingly, there were quite a few from Ukraine. And I got to wondering. There was some female Ukrainian star (TV or movie, I think, not a singer but it’s been a while) who died in the bombing of Kyiv. So I wodered about the Ukrainian judges and the contestants and figure I’ll never really know until the war is over and there’s new vidoes uploaded that were filmed AFTER the war. But my brain went there. I think most of you know that CROSSFIRE, the current Hard Target WIP is set in Ukraine. The team and the kids they are rescuing have a few run ins with good guys and bad along the way. Well, one of the good guys is going to be a famous Ukrainian singer who is with a military unit. As an English teacher once told me, don’t ever let a good inspiration go to waste. And for your treat today, here’s the video that kicked my brain into gear. Do you listen to music when you read or write? Pssst I dare you not to fall down the same rabbit hole. 😉

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Flower Moon Monday

I’m always fascinated by moon names, for obvious reasons. Last night, most of the world got to see the Super Flower Blood Moon. Technically, that’s a total lunar eclipse during a “super” moon, which means the moon is closer than normal so it shows up bigger. Okay, so that wasn’t totally in technical terms, but whatever. Also, there’s some local history attached to the Flower Moon. There’s even a book, KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON, THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI. There’s also a movie that, while based on the book, is highly fictionalized. Who stayed up to see the eclipse?

In other news, MY OSU COWGIRLS WON THE BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP! The Big 12 conference is weird. A team can win the “regular season” championship and they can also win the Tournament championship. OSU won the old Big 8 conference regular and tournament, one each, back in the mid-90s. This is their first Big 12. And they beat #1-rainked OU to do it. The Women’s College World Series selection show was only last night but at the time I actually wrote and pre-posted this, no regional or super-regional sites and brackets had been announced. 🤞🏼 that OSU gets both and gets a good bracket. They should since the were ranked #7RPI by the NCAA BEFORE they beat OU. We’ll see. [EDIT] Well, I’m disappoint. Other teams switched places ahead of OSU but OSU remained at #7. Grrr. No respect but we have a regional and I think a super-regional so it’s all good.

In other sports news, my Cardinals have been streaky but the last couple of games, their bats came alive so woohoo! I do love me some “boys of summer.”

I actually spent some time watching TV yesterday. The DVR was stacking up so I cleared some series off. I hadn’t watched “Portals to Hell” before, with Jack Osbourne. It was pretty interesting so I’ll keep taping it. I also caught up on some “To Catch a Smuggler” series–a mis of US-based and foreighn based police/customs and border patrols. Intersting stuff. I’m amazed at what people try to bring in or take out of the country.

I finished my marathon relisten of Jennifer Estep’s Crown of Shards/Gargoyle Queen series. LOVE these books, including the last one, TEAR DOWN THE THRONE. There should be one more book in this character arc and then I suspect at least one more trilogy focusing on another character. Sadly, these books tend to come out a year apart so that’s like…fou years. Ugh. I’m currently listening to Jeanine Frost’s THE OTHER HALF OF THE GRAVE. This is a retelling of the first book in her Night Huntress series, told through eyes of Bones, the heroine’s main squeeze. It’s been a few years since I read the series so it’s interesting to “see” things from Bones’s POV. Once I finish it, no idea what I’ll pick up.

In writing news, I finished updating and revising ASSASSIN’S MOON. YAYAYAYAYAY! It’s a relief. Still, the book was better than I remembered because…I’m a writer. We never think our books are all that good. Anyway, the Hard Target team makes cameos and there are expanded scenes and just over 3K new words. Next up is UNDER THE ASSASSIN’S MOON. Once it’s done–this week, hopefully–I’ll do a final formatting/backmatter check of all the books and then I’ll get them uploaed back to Amazon and Draft2Digital to go wide. I plan on setting them to release a week apart so anyone who wants to buy them doesn’t have to spend a chunk. They’ll be $2.99 so not a huge amoutn for each but yeah.

Not much else is going on. Today is Wallyworld day. There’s Starbucks at the end of the ordeal so thee’s that. No softball until the end of the week. There’s baseball, which is always good. I’ll come back to update this with OSU news, unless I fall asleep. Which is always a possibility. 🙄

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Friday Sinema: Summer Love

Happy Friday the 13th. We aren’t going to be supersitious today because I’m not really superstitious about Friday the 13th. But you can bet if I’m out walking with someone and we pass on opposite sides of a pole, I’m gonna say, “Bread and butter.” Instead, here’s this because we’ve hit temperatures in the mid-90s with lots of humidity (everyone in the South knows it’s not the heat, it’s the humity!), I have to admit that my AC is runningrunningrunning. And this It’s A Southern Thing video is once again dead perfect! Have a great weekend and stay cool!

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Thursday Thoughts: Universal POV

Sometimes, in writing, the hardest part is to decide which character should have the floor, so to speak. In other words, who is the POV (Point of View) character. A lot of publishers, editors, and readers like to be in only one character’s head a time. Me? I want to know what the whole love of them are thinking and doing from their POV. While I think the Universe is actually referring to real life, I prefer to talk about writing, but feel free to apply this advice to your world. ☺

In all tests of character, Silver, when two viewpoints are pitted against each other, in the final analysis, the thing that will strike you the most is not who was right or wrong, strong or weak, wise or foolish… but who went to the greater length in considering the other’s perspective.

Don’t you agree?
The Universe
©www.tut.com

Well, yeah, Silver, I did mean the final, final analysis, but you’ll see, that one really counts.

Some authors will write the same scene from both main characters’ POVs and then decided who has to most at stake and use that version. Others simply include both, one after the other, which seems a little repetitive to me but if done well (done WELL being the operative words), then i appreciate the conflicting veiwpoints. Me? When I’m writing what and how I want to write, I just let it fly. Every character has an opinion and they’re entitled to it. It’s important to me–as a writer AND a reader–to know the reasoning behind their words and actions. That’s what intrigues me. In practicality, when I write in first person POV (like in  Nightriders MC series), I’m limited but those guys insisted they tell their own stories in their own ways and it only seemed fair to allow their mates the same courtesy. In my “publisher” books, I have to follow their guidelines and it’s usually “she said/he said” each in turn. I can do that but the editing process is much longer because I do slip up and just throw it all out there. Cuz that’s how I roll. 🙄 And yes, I am happiest when I can just do my thing and use what I call “cinematic POV.” That means whoever has the “camera” angle gets the thoughts, facial expressions and reactions, and the words. Of course, the joy of that is I get to use multiple camera angles.

Writers? What POV/tense do you write in? And readers? What about an author’s use of POV really irritates you? Inquiring minds want to know!

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Wednesday Words: Backwards Decisions

Once again, we’ve hit midweek and I’ve knocked out two prompts with one snippet. Today’s challenge is a scene using the #1lineWed theme of **BACKWARDS** and the #ThursdayThreads prompt of “I can’t decide.” I’ll admit, I had some fun with this one. Again, while it’s a random scene from the team and orphans trek to safety, it should be pretty self-explanatory.

****
They’d made camp for the night. Loch and Kin had emptied two packs. Uri added more items from his pack. The kids pawed through everything and once they’d made their choices, Meg scanned the boxes and tins. She checked every offering. “Golly. It all looks so scrumptious I can’t decide.”

The kids giggled and the men rolled their eyes at her and Dalton snickered. “That’s why I always carry a bottle of Tabasco sauce. It makes anything palatable. Even MREs.”

“Tis the same for ORPs,” Kin said, pronouncing the acronym like it was a word. “Only we tend t’use malt vinegar.”

Meg laughed. Bless the military of every country for their acronyms. Meals Ready to Eat. Operational Ration Pack. They at least had more variety than the tins of meat and other foods that she and Petro had gathered up when they escaped with the orphans. She had to give props to the Americans, though. MRE sounded much tastier than ORP.

After dinner, the kids settled into their bedrolls, which had been laid out near the small—but hotly burning—fire. Eventually, the men dispersed—guard duty, patrols, combat sleep. Meg waited until no one was paying her any attention. She dug into her pack and pulled out a small but precious roll of toilet paper then she slipped off into the woods. Announcing the need to answer nature’s call was always embarrassing. She’d gone at least 100 feet before she found a deadfall that made a suitable latrine. She unzipped her jeans but before she could squat, something rustled in the brush. She held her breath, listening hard and casting about for the direction of the noise. She caught another crackle of branches.  There. Her head jerked toward a large tree. A shadow moved in the darkness. She froze.

An ominous growl created chaos in her chest. She couldn’t breathe and her heart beat erratically, hammering against her rib cage. A huge wolf, silver in the moonlight stalked toward her. Meg stumbled backwards, tripped, and fell on her butt. The wolf lunged. She had no time to scream before it was on her. Flat on her back, she sank her fingers into the thick fur of the animal’s neck as if she was strong enough to keep those very large, very sharp teeth from ripping out her throat. Then the damn thing licked her face.

“Ewww.”
****
There you have it. Writers, are you up to the challenge? Or do you have a snippet already that fits one or both of the prompts? Readers, are you…”bush trained?” 😉

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Tuesday Treats & Titles: What’cha Readin’?

Dang. This is what happens when I get out of sync. There’s a reason I try to post the same thing on the same day of the week, and often try to set up blogs in advance. I almost forgot today is Tuesday and I hadn’t done a blog. Gah! I really need to get those four books re-released so I have some titles to tout. In the meantime, here are three quick questions for you to answer.

A. Do you snack while reading?

1A. What’s your favorite snack?

B. Do you drink while reading?

2B. What’s your beverage of choice?

C. What’cha readin’?

3C. What is your preferred format? (Hardback, paperback, digital, auido, other)

Okay, so technically, that’s 6 questions but who quibbles numbers between friends? Here are my answers.

A. YES! Often.

1A. Popcorn is a favorite. Or Hint of Lime Doritos. Occasionally trail mis, cookies, or muffins. Note: Since I listen to books, I have both hands free to feed my face.

B. Yes! I always have a beverage nearby.

2B. Depends on the time of day–coffee until usually mid-afternoon and then Pepsi Zero.

C. TEAR DOWN THE CROWN by Jennifer Estep (Gargoyle Queen #2/Crown of Shards world #5) Epic fantasy with quite a bit of romance but nothing over the top sexy wise. I ❤ this whole series and I think I’ve tagged every book in the series as “Best Book of the Year” when each released. I love Esteps voice, her characterizations are terrific, the worldbuilding is incredible (LOVE her take on magic), heroes are flawed, villains are truly evil, and holy smack, the threads from Book 1 that are still being woven into the plot in this book. If fantasy with no damsels in distress are your thing, try this series. The first book is KILL THE QUEEN. And I do only audio books these days. Stupid eyes. Hopefully, by summer, the vision problems will be dealt with and I can read again, though I admit, I adore audio books if the narrator is really good. I can go “hands free” and doo all sorts of stuff–cook, drive, laundry, deal with furry critters, shower.

Okay, your turn!

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A Mother of Mondays

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. It was hot and humid and I hid under the AC because…that’s how I roll. 😉 The James Gang celebrated on Saturday, which was a beautiful day. First, there was siren test because…first Saturday. Then it was lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Alvarado’s, with the Kids. LG put Only’s Christmas mobile HAM radio into her Mustang for Mother’s Day. She was excited. I got a Starbuck’s gift card from the Kids. I’m excited. We all went home after, with pledges of naps. I got one. So did LG. Not sure about Only or Baseball Boy. Stormy never naps. 🙄

In other doings, my honeysuckle bush is finally blooming! When I go out to toss food for the birds and crows, and fill the outside bowl for Pistol Pete (he also has an in-garage bowl for food), I can smell one of my favorite frangrances. Sadly, it’s too hot to open my office window so I don’t get the pleasure of its perfume while I’m working. So far, it looks like my peony buds will bloom. 🤞🏼

My OSU Cowgirls didn’t do so well against OU. Then again, neither has anyone else. And there’s still a chance to take a game from the #1 ranked team during the Big 12 tournament this coming weekend. My Cardinals ran hot and cold against the Giants. That probably made my friend Allison Brennan happy. She’s a huge Giants fan! Still talking baseball, my OSU Cowboys are on a roll. Yay! We’re coming up on regionals and super regionals in softball and baseball so rankings and RPIs REALLY mean a lot. We’ll see what happens. And yes, I am rambling on about this because I don’t have much else to say.

I’ve done a minimal amount of revisions. And the adding of new words is’t much better. My get-up-and-go got -up-and-went and it’s not just my brain. I have no energy. It doesn’t help that I took a header Friday night. The good news is, neither the plate that hit the rug nor any bones were broken. The bad news is my left knee (never in good shape anyway, but then again neither is my right) and leg has deep bone bruises. At least I fell on a rug this time, instead of the parquet wood floor when I fell on my right knee. Thought I’d shattered the kneecap that time. I’m thinking of changing my pen name to Kathy Klutz. I’m actually considering falling “prey” to the commercials and ordering those fruits and veggie pills that are advertised everywhere. Of course, they run $90 a month so yeah, I probably won’t order but I need to figure out something. The good news on thet front is that I am getting a bit more sleep. You’d think that would help the whole energy-level thing but so far, nada.

New release dropped into my Audible app this past week and it obviously necessitated a maratho reread of the series! Luckily, I adore this particular fantasy. The first three books are an arc about Everly “Evie” Blair, the Winter Queen of Bolona. The fourth book transitions to Gemma Ripley, the crown princess of Andvari, and the new release continues Gemma’s adventures. The Crown of Shards/Gargoyle Queen series is amazing. The rules of magic are innovative and unique. The characters aren’t perfect but you can’t help but cheer for the good guys and boo the evil bad guys. Now, let me explain that–as a person with power, the characters aren’t “perfect” but the characterizations from the author? All kinds of awesome! I finished the previous 4 books last night and today I’m starting TEAR DOWN THE THRONE, the new release. If you are a fan of sword and socery fantasy, I highly recommend these books by Jennifer Estap. There are tomantic elements, and romance develops between the two main characters of each set, but it’s there to enhance the story, not overshadow it.

Hard to believe we’re already into May. Seems like just yesterday that was March. I thought time was supposed to slow down the older you get. Yeah…hasn’t worked that way for me. Ah well.

As always, Monday means Wallyworld. And Starbucks. Jake and I will be off early because I like having a close parking space close to the cart return. Yes, I am both lazy AND conscientious. People who leave their shopping carrs in the lot–especially in parking spaces just irk the snot out of me. Hope all the moms had a happy day and that life is good for everyone. What about y’all? Do you return your carts? And what really irks you about shopping?

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