Dusting off the pages

d14d88e637f0d811563873bce2a41d1fI pulled out my 2012 NaNoWriMo novel this evening and began to work on it. It’s one of the novels that I’m most passionate about because I think there’s something there, a story I want to tell. It’s probably also one of the most personal for me because it deals with a hard break up of the inability to move on from a betrayal.

I work that way when I write. I write about me, what I feel, my pain and sorrows, my joy and elations. Sure, I tend to stretch and distort what I went through, making the story its own entity, but I ground it with my own emotions, telling a story that I think we all can relate to because we’ve all lived it in a fashion.

What’s kept me from even trying to publish this novel, though I’ve wanted to for years, is the opening scene. I’ve never liked it. It felt jarring and forced, as though I was trying too hard to write something impactful that it became off-putting. It didn’t work, and the more I worked on it, the worse it got. In exasperation, I cast it aside, working on other projects, consigning it to be forgotten.

But it wouldn’t let itself be forgotten. I had to tell the story, and I finally pulled it up out of the depths of oblivion, or rather I opened the file on my computer, if you want to be pedantic, and I stared at the opening scene until it dawned on me that I would have to write a whole new scene. Took me a few years to finally accept it. The first scene had to go.

In actuality, all that scene needed was to be rewritten and used as the first scene of the second chapter. I decided to start the story with the situation that sets the whole narrative into motion, pulling it from the middle of the novel to the beginning. That means I have to do a little more work to erase that scene from a middle chapter, but I think it makes more sense this way.

I have a long way to go, but I like the way it flows now. It feels better, the timing works for me. I may have to tweak it a little, but I could probably do that from now until eternity. I’ll soon let it go. For now, I think I’ll get back to it. I can’t wait to be done with it and have you read it!

Short Story: Bare truth

Ever since I can remember, my mother has been the sole provider for our family. She was the one who toiled all night to put a roof over our head, and food on the table. It’s not as though my father wanted it this way. I do have vague memories of him heading off to work while my mother, the ever dutiful housewife, stayed home and took care of their precocious four-year-old, me.

That changed one night, when after going out for drinks with his work buddies, he rolled his car on the way home. Seeing pictures of the car many years later, it was a small miracle that he survived. It was more so that he didn’t hurt or kill anyone else. It was a single-car accident. He was the only occupant. He survived, but his life, and ours, changed in an instant.

The few memories that I have from that time are not happy. I spent a lot of time sleeping at either Nana’s or my Aunt Dodi. I rarely saw home or either of my parents. I was aware that Dad was in the hospital, but they didn’t tell me much, only that he was hurt but he would be okay. He wasn’t. He never would be again.

My mother changed after that. She used to be carefree and happy. After the accident, she grew hardened and distant. We no longer played together. I remember seeing her cry a lot whenever Nana, Papa, or aunt Dodi were around. Looking back, I now know she was worried about losing the house and paying the bills. Eventually, we became homeless and started living above Aunt Dodi’s garage.

This went on for over a year. Mom found a job, but she didn’t have Dad’s skills. He was a manager at a warehouse, moving up, with high ambitions. Now he was stuck in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down, unable to do anything any more. The pain, he confided in me once, was too great for him to concentrate on any task. All he did now was play computer games, or else try writing stories that honestly aren’t very good. He’s not creative. He’s analytical. That’s what Nana says.

Mom worked as a janitor for the school, making minimum wage, unable to provide her family a decent life. She was a high school dropout, leaving school because she got pregnant with me. She wasn’t a very bright student, but she had a dingy but cute angle going on. Mom was very popular, always had at least one date every weekend, and was usually dating one of the popular jocks.

She never had any ambitions other than to land a man who could provide for her. Now with the table turned, unwilling to leave the man she married just because he stupidly got himself handicapped, she entered the workforce for the first time, only to discover he had no appreciable talents.

That changed after I started second grade. She found a job working nights. I remember asking her where she worked, but she said it wasn’t any of my business. I wanted to see where she worked, but Dad said it wasn’t a great idea. I remember Aunt Dodi and Nana being upset about it, but since they didn’t do much to help her out, Mom said it wasn’t any of their business.

I learned not to ask about my mother’s job, but it didn’t take long for her to start bringing home more money. Where once we had been shopping at thrift stores, all of a sudden we were going to the mall a couple of times a week. Where once my mother drove a broken down Gremlin, which for some reason she kept, she started driving a brand new Shelby Mustang.

Pretty soon we moved out of Aunt Dodi’s garage apartment and moved into a new home out in the suburbs. It was quiet, and everyone kept to themselves for the most part. Dad didn’t do much except watch me at night while Mom was at work. No one really knew what she did, except for Dad, and our neighbors, too, learned not to ask too many questions.


When I turned eighteen, right before Christmas of my Senior year, I still didn’t know my mother’s profession. By then, I didn’t care. I had my own life to worry about, my own future to be concerned with. I had inherited my mother’s waifish figure, pale complexion, and general personality. I was a little more of an intellectual, having inherited my father’s brains, and his ambition to do something with my life.

My mother took me out for lunch and then took me to get my nails done, then out shopping. She bought me several new outfits, and then surprised me with a car, “a gift from your father and me,” she said with a faint smile, but I knew better. My father was living in a bottle most to the time by then. I don’t know why she put up with it. I would soon learn that it was he who drank to put up with her.

My mom went to work, leaving me and my girlfriends alone to watch movies. My father, as he did most nights, drank himself into a stupor. Once he was out, I grabbed my keys and me and my friends snuck out of the house to explore the city in my new car. We didn’t go anywhere in particular at first, but then Mandy convinced me to drive to a club she heard about, where you only had to be eighteen to get in.

We went. I was curious since she rarely suggested anything, and something about how she said it made me have to see the place. It was as though she knew something I didn’t, and wanted to see my reaction. Knowing I had till dawn, we drove up to the club, which I discovered was a strip club as soon as I parked. I wanted to leave, but all my friends were egging me on. To save face, I had no choice but to go in.

Mandy paid for me to get in, and they stamped us with a red stamp on our right hand to signify to the bartenders that we were not of age, and we went in, right to the front. A couple of creepy old guys started hitting on us, but a bouncer quickly shooed them away. He was giving me a strange look before shaking his head and walking away. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see him talking to some other workers, pointing me out. I decidedly ignored them.

Soon the music started and the dancers came out. First song was fully clothed, and then when the second started, clothes began coming off. Soon they would dance, fully nude, gyrating with their legs open, and guys drooling like pigs. It was disgusting, but it was also a bit arousing. I never considered myself a lesbian, or even bi, but maybe it was just the taboo of it all, of being where I wasn’t supposed to be, of seeing beautiful women parading themselves so freely, that it did turn me on a bit.

It wasn’t until the third girl came out that I understood. I have no doubt you figured it out by now, probably when I was still talking about myself in second grade, but it shocked me. I could never have guessed it. My mother came out, wearing nothing more than a teddy with white stocking and red stilettos. She didn’t notice me at first, and I kind of hung back. My friends, however, headed right up to the stage, waved a bundle of cash and grabbed her attention.

She didn’t notice who it was at first, so she started gyrating, legs open, showing what she told me was too precious to flaunt about like a piece of garbage. Soon Mom realized what was going on, knew who was paying her to dance, and I could see the humiliation etched on her face. She didn’t stop, however. She had a job to do, and she did it. When her song was over, I saw her give me a significant look, pointing me with a glance towards the same bouncer that pushed the pervs off of me.

He took me aside, back to where private lap dances were given. My mom came in, looking afraid of how I would react. I didn’t know what to say. She remained quiet, sitting down on the sofa and looked down at her hands which she rested on her knees. Finally, after several tense minutes, I broke the silence. “So, you’re a stripper?”

“Yes,” she answered in an unnaturally calm voice, unlike her usual tone. “I guess the secret’s out of the bag.”

“It is,” I agreed.

“Was it Mandy who told you?”

“No, but she did suggest it. Why do you ask?”

“Because,” she said, not quite looking me in the eye, “her parent’s have been coming here for years. They knew about it, and kept quiet, for a price.”

“What do you mean, for a price?”

“Can’t you guess what kind of place this is?” She asked patiently, sounding a lot like Mrs. Roberts, one of my favorite teachers from middle school.

“It’s a strip club,” I answered, looking at her as though she were stupid.

“Yes, but things happen here. Things that aren’t supposed to, but they do. The club looks the other way provided no trouble comes of it.”


“Sex, favors, games. Whatever fetish the client wants to engage in, and if we’re up to the task, then why not.”

“You’ve been sleeping with Mandy’s parents?”

“No, just her mother,” she replied, a cheeks flush with embarrassment. Her father likes to watch.”

“Does Dad know?”

“Of course he does,” Mom cried, burying her face in her hands with shame. “He knows, and he knows there’s not a damned thing he can do about it. It’s his fault that it’s come to this. That’s why he drinks so much. It’s the only way he knows how to cope with it.”

“Then why are you doing it?”

“How else am I going to provide for you?”

“I don’t know,” I shrieked hysterically, the absurdity of what I was seeing finally dawning on me. “You could have gotten a real job?”

“This is a real job,” she replied heatedly. “You think this is easy? Do you really think I like doing this?”

“You tell me,” I yelled. “How long have you been doing this?”

“Keep your voice down,” my mother pleaded nervously. “Don’t give them a cause to throw us out?”

“You mean me?”

“No, I mean us,” Mom snapped. “If I can’t keep my clients in check, then I’m out of here, too. And don’t think you being in here isn’t costing me money. I have to give the house a cut in what I bring in, and being in here without making anything, well I’m paying for it out of pocket.”

“Then leave. You’re capable of so much more.”

“You don’t think I tried?” Mom said, her voice wavering for the first time. “Don’t you think that wasn’t my plan? I enrolled at the community college, but I’m too stupid even to pass a remedial class there. I was never the smart one. That was your father. I was just the pretty one, the little trophy bitch at home. You know he had other girlfriends. That’s who he was with the night he broke his back.”

“And you stayed?” I yelled before lowering my voice. “You stayed?”

“I was only ever the cute side chick. We only got married because of you. He promised to provide for me so long as he was free to do what he wanted. I agreed because what choice did I have?”

“Mom,” I cried, grabbing her hands. “You have choices. You don’t have to do this. I mean, you’re almost forty. How much longer do you think you can do this?”

“If I can get you through college, that’ll be enough for me.”

“Mom, I don’t need you to do that. My grades are good enough to get me scholarships at the state school.”

“I thought you wanted to go to one of those fancy Ivy League schools.”

“I did,” I replied. “I do, but not like this. I’d rather be poor than see you degrading yourself for me.”

There was a knock on the door. “Time,” came the bouncer’s voice.

“We’ll talk about it later,” my mother said, standing up and fixing her bra strap. In my emotional state, I had failed to notice that my mother was only wearing revealing lingerie.

I nodded and walked out the door, my mother following me out. “Careful with your friend, Mandy,” my mother implored me. “She’s propositioned me a couple of times, too. I politely refused. I think that’s why she decided to out me.”

I nodded. My friends were right where I left them. Mandy turned towards me with a smirk as i walked up. “How’s mummy?” she asked.

Without thinking about it, I cocked my fist back and punched her squarely on the nose. Blood gushed out everywhere and I turned on my heel and walked out. The bouncer hurried towards Mandy, giving me a little wink as I left. I hopped into my car, leaving my friends behind. Screw them, thinking it would be funny to do this to me on my birthday. I didn’t need it. As I drove off, the first flakes of snow beginning to fall, I imagined them having to find a way home. Smirking to myself, I began to call their parents, just to let them know where they were at.

Short Stories

Next story – Shattered
Previous story – Sacrificed Death


Less than two weeks to go

NaNo-2015-Participant-Badge-Large-SquareThe launch of NaNoWriMo 2015 is less than two weeks away and I can’t wait for it to start. Thirty days of insanity, at least that’s what I experience, but it’s not something I plan on passing up. I enjoy the feverish pace with which I write, a pace I really should get into the practice of doing on a daily basis. There’s a joy to be found in giving yourself permission to just let go and create without allowing the inner editor – or the voice of doubt – hold you back.

I’m joining the Lubbock NaNoWriMo Region once again, since they seem to be the most active, but I’m trying to find a group in Amarillo as well. Since I work in Amarillo, that region would make sense and would be the most convenient for me. Their Facebook page only has 15 members and the forum on the NaNoWriMo website isn’t very active, but I’m trying to get something started. I guess we’ll see how that turns out.

Regardless, I’m ready to get started on this project. I have an idea, a working title, and a vague sense of what I want to say. It’s the story of two ex-lovers who are forced back into each other’s lives, one who is self-centered and clueless, and the other who still harbors a lot of resentment over how the break-up took place, even after more than twenty years.

I like the story, I’m excited to write it, and all I’m looking for is a group of writers who share my enthusiasm. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t get excited about much. I’m excited about this. I’m even considering planning out the story, at least loosely, so that I can have an idea of where I’m going.

New ideas

I have a new idea. Yes, I have an old idea, in the form of a book that needs to be completed, but I have a new idea, one that I’m excited about. I’m going to have to force myself to complete Jasmine, something that’s I’ve been saying for years now, so I can move on to this new project. It’s about…

Well, I think I’d rather not say, at least not yet. There’s still a lot of details that are vague at the moment. All I have are two characters and an idea of what brings the unlikely pair together. I’m excited about it, which says a lot. I’ve lost interest in Jasmine. I love the story, I’m just a little burnt out on it.


Obsession. That’s what’s fueling my character Eli, his obsession with Jasmine. He’s a man so in love with her, that he’s ignoring everything around him, risking his own relationships and his job security for a woman who wants nothing to do with him. He’s following her, stalking her, fooling himself into believing he only wants to keep her safe while becoming a danger in his own right.

I know how it feels to become obsessed with something. I often fixate on things to the exclusion of everything else. Usually it’s a certain subject or maybe it’s a book. I became obsessed with The Lord of the Rings and I read almost anything related to Middle Earth. I did the same with Harry Potter, and I became fixated with Catholicism that I read everything Wikipedia had to say about the Popes, from St. Peter to Benedict XVI.

I also know what it feels like to free fall into an obsession with a person. Though I never went so far as to stalk her, I would imagine it would be a very short slide from interest to full-blown psycho. That’s a scary confession to make. It happened after my split with my ex, and I wanted to keep tabs on her even though the thought of her with someone else hurt me. Seeing her happy without me stunted my own road to recovery. I eventually shut her out, not wanting to feed the madness that threatened to consume my sanity. Eli never makes that decision.

For me, that’s what scares me about Eli. He loved her once, and now that love has become a perverse mockery that threatens Jasmine, her new beau, and even Eli’s own relationship with Cyndi. He doesn’t care. Could that happen to me? Could I become that obsessed that I’m willing to lose everything for a love that doesn’t even exist? Could it happen to you? Has it happened to you?

I hope not, but it’s a legitimate fear. It’s too easy a trap to fall into. We can obsess over an ex-love, an unrequited love or crush, or even a celebrity. Have you felt that pull into madness? Have you felt yourself drawn down a path that leads to oblivion, where reality ceases to matter, and only the object of your desire does?

My characters tend to be an exaggeration of my own flaws. Eli is so myopic that he fails to see the damage he is causing even to the object of his obsession. He willing follows the road to perdition whereas I turn it inward and chose to walk away. I don’t believe in hurting others if I can help it. I don’t believe in pursuing a love that does not return my affection. That’s a masochism, pure and simple.

I write about my pain, and I write about my fears. I write about the betrayals that hurt me and I write about the hope of finding love on the other side. I write about my experience in life and love. As I write them, they become separate from me, a creation born from my experience, but made to fit a story I’m trying to tell. There may be elements of truth in the telling, but a fiction all the same.

But obsession scares me. It’s like a drug whose call burns in your veins. It’s a longing that’s hard to ignore, and it’s a perfect way to fuel the madness one Elias Grey.