Update and Hard Questions

I’m still here. The move took a lot out of me, and I’ve had a hard time getting back into writing (“my own” writing, that is; I’m still writing for clients).

Today, I realized what the main problem was. There are issues I am passionate about, but I am not the best person to write about them, at least not now. Others are doing that work, and doing it well. The amount of research it takes me to write on certain topics is overwhelming, unless I’m ghostwriting and someone is providing the information I need. So I had to step back and focus on what I’m good at right now.

I asked myself some hard questions: What am I both passionate AND fairly knowledgeable about? What unique experiences have I had that would make me a good person to write about certain topics? How can I learn more and make myself one of the BEST people to write about a topic? Who would want to read about this topic, and how can I make it even more interesting for them? And how can I combine some of my best topics in a new way?

I will probably write more on how I feel about this. Later. Right now, I have a number of “finished” pieces that need to be revised and either submitted somewhere or posted here. Client work keeps me busy, but I know I need to make time for my own work as well.

Have you recently learned something new about yourself as a writer? Or about your role in your chosen path in life?

Happy 2020, friends!

 

From the Ashes

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From the Ashes (excerpt from my short story)

Zora felt the hot pressure flood behind her eyes again and willed the images away. The taxi would arrive soon and there was no time to redo her makeup.

The sound of a news broadcast caught Zora’s attention as she waited in the lobby. “His life is pretty well ruined.” The TV screen displayed the curly-headed and chinless face of Brock Turner, round eyes staring blankly into the camera. “Those who say, ‘Oh, he’s not really being punished,’ it seems to me, are missing the point.” Zora frowned and dug her short fingernails into the underside of her arm and shuddered as the action awoke a stray memory of other fingers clutching that same arm. A flash of yellow from outside pulled her back and she hurried out the door.

As the taxi crawled through the traffic toward Midtown Atlanta, Zora gazed out the windows, taking in her surroundings. She filed each image away like a keepsake in her mind, inwardly preparing answers to questions no one would care enough to ask her. Zora saw glossy-leafed magnolias in full bloom, the silver of ultra-modern condominiums, banks, and hotels, red stone churches, a wall plastered with concert posters – one of them depicting a woman in chains…

Zora willed herself to stay focused, and looked out the other window. “I’ll see you later tonight,” she whispered to herself as the car glided past the Fox theatre.

After the Eclipse – Excerpt from Chapter 2

Here’s another excerpt from my novella, After the Eclipse (I might change the title). I’m still in the rough draft stages and plan to do the revisions this month.

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It was just getting dark when Victoria returned to the hotel. She tossed her bag onto the bed and flopped down after it, not bothering to turn on the light. She closed her eyes and rubbed her temples for a few moments. Looking up and seeing the open curtains, she rose to close them and froze. Two feet from the glass stood a tall man with long, pale hair and very white skin. His crystal blue eyes bore into hers and fixed her in place. Victoria felt as if her bones were turning to ice. She stared back at him. He had elliptical pupils, like a cat’s. They expanded as he gazed at her, the black overtaking the aquamarine. Victoria shook herself and reached for her phone. The moonlight glinted off something round, blue, and shiny that hung from a chain around his neck. The stranger’s cape and tunic whipped in the wind as he turned. Another figure emerged from the shadows and they strode away together.

Victoria sank back onto the bed as the police came on the line.

* Image courtesy of Viktor Titov; check out more of his work here: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/scary-forest

After the Eclipse – Part 1

Happy Halloween! This started out as a Coursera assignment, but I’ve joined NaNoWriMo to finish it. Here’s the beginning:

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After the Eclipse – Part 1

September 1, 2017

Victoria Derry peered over the edge of the boat into the inky water below. The muddy smell of lake and gasoline filled her nose as she beamed the flashlight in a slow arc. Nothing unusual broke the surface or disturbed the ripples from their wake. She turned to look at the underwater cameras, but they only showed waving pondweed.

William Green appeared at her side. “I wish I knew what to look for.”

“You and me both.” Victoria sighed and reviewed the facts up until that night: The half-devoured swan that had washed up on Mr. Jones’s property on Big Barbee Lake, prompting him to call Green. The sudden drop in the fish population of the intricate chain of glacier lakes surrounding Big Barbee. A fisherman was reported missing by his elderly mother after his boat had been found the day before—with gashes in it that looked as if they had been made by long, sharp teeth. And, just because the situation—and this town—wasn’t weird enough already, a peculiar-looking man had been hanging around. Mr. Jones’s neighbor had observed him walking straight into the lake until the water closed over his head.

Hearing a splash, Victoria looked up and lifted her flashlight. A small ripple; must have been a fish jumping. Sweat trickled down her back. Even this late at night, the air was sticky. An otherworldly buzzing indicated a nearby group of frogs vocalizing in unison.

As the hardest-working research biologist in the Indianapolis Department of Natural Resources, she was sent to the glacier lakes region in Northern Indiana after the fishing boat had washed up. Green and the other conservation officers were stumped. The giant tooth marks in the swan carcass and the boat did not match up with any of the local predators—none of them were that big, for one thing, and there wasn’t anything larger than pike or snapping turtles in the lake itself. But there had also been traces of venom. Victoria was hoping to see something, anything, on the lake that would give her a clue as to what had attacked the boat and consumed the swan and done—what? —to the missing fisherman.

“Maybe it’s Al Capone.”

Victoria turned to face Jeff, who was driving the boat. He leered at her, cigarette dangling from his lips. He raised his eyebrows and the light reflected off his blond beard stubble. She was used to men noticing her ass long before her brain, but they were usually less obvious about it.

“What?”

“The strange guy that’s been hanging around. You do know that Al Capone haunts the Barbee Hotel, right? He sits at the bar, and people also see cigar smoke coming from the room he used to stay in.”

Green whirled around. “Oh please, Jeff. I don’t give a flock about some crazy superstitions. I just want to know what ate the swan and the fish, and it wasn’t Al Capone or any other of your ghosts.”

“Well, Green, you can just—”

A jolt knocked Victoria and Green off their feet and made Jeff drop his cigarette into his lap and howl.

“What the hell was that?” Green shot up and looked over the edge. A mass of shiny blue scales disappeared beneath the surface. Victoria stared at the underwater camera. Undulating gracefully away from them was a snakelike figure, at least twenty feet long and as broad as a horse. Pointed scutes adorned its midnight blue back, and delicate fins fanned out from its lighter underside. Its tail waved left and right as its silhouette dwindled.

“No, no, no. That can’t be real.”

“No,” Victoria agreed with a shiver, watching the image on the screen.

Green’s phone rang, but he stood, transfixed.

“You might want to answer that.”

He flinched. “Jeff, it’s moving towards Little Barbee. Follow it! Hello. Y-yes? We’ll be right there.”

Green’s form was rigid against the dark sky. “Victoria. They found Bob.”

“Alive?”

Green opened his mouth, closed it, and shook his head.

* Image courtesy of: http://www.ontariopics.com/Cranberry-Lake/Cranberry-Lake-at-Night-1109.html