When the Dreaded Evil Pitch Fairy Strikes

A live pitch session with an editor or agent can be an anxiety provoking experience, no matter how well you prepare. I’m sure chapter members in New York for RWA 2011 are suffering nerves at this very moment. Murphy and his snicker lurk everywhere, ready to strike. Here’s wishing you the best of luck, ladies! Murphy’s Law be damned!

When it’s your turn to pitch –and we should have plenty of writers pitching their manuscripts at Silken Sands Writers Conference in Pensacola come next March!– it’s best to go in confident, but expecting something will trip you up. Prepare for it in fact. Sit down and think of as many awkward scenarios as you can. And make an appropriate recovery plan.

Possibilities? Simple ones such as tripping as you approach the pitch table. Talk about a confidence wrecker. Your carefully groomed professional mien gone in one spastic, foot churning, elbow flapping moment. In a dress and heels no less. (I literally heard the echo of my brothers snorting with laughter and shouting “Go ahead, Grace!” as they did in childhood.)

Going blank as you sit down or forgetting to introduce yourself. (Have your business card ready. Practice your pitch beginning to end until it’s second nature. Write down a trigger word to get you going.)

An anxiety attack with accompanying hyperventilation. (If you hold the paper bag, try not to smear your friend’s lipstick with it. She’s embarrassed enough. Looking like a clown after the fact will make things worse and she’ll never pitch again.)

Losing your pitch security blanket, such as a paper with an outline or index cards with high points listed. I’ve helped mop papers dry when a glass of water was spilled (use ball point or pencil for writing them! Felt tip ink runs when wet. Or wept on.); and while moderating outdoor pitches I’ve chased wind-whipped index cards over so many different terrains it isn’t funny. (Number your cards! Even if simply dropped, it quickens getting them in order.)

There may be major problems, too. Helped clean up an agent once at a small conference in Houma. A young woman leaned in to deliver her pitch and the agent, a down-to-earth, conscientious person who tried to make authors as comfortable as possible, responded in kind. Imagine how horrified they both were when that poor girl was overwhelmed with pitch nerves and tossed her cookies!

If you’re to bring the first three chapters of your MS and the editor or agent reads as you pitch, don’t despair. She isn’t tuning you out. Remember: editors and agents constantly multi-task. They can listen to your twelve-minute condensation of 100k words as they read. What they read should match what you describe. Expect pertinent questions about your MS. Know it inside out; down to page numbers of scenes that demonstrate your ability to write emotions, descriptions and relationships — IF ASKED. Don’t walk in thinking all you have to do is direct him/her to a few isolated areas. They need to feel compelled to read your story from beginning to end. So give them the enticing book trailer version — but include the satisfactory ending. They have to know you can reach conclusions and tie up any loose ends. If it’s for a ‘hot’ line, be able to pinpoint a sex scene or describe the physical aspects you present. Not a blow-by-blow (no pun intended!) recitation of your writing, but the overall effect you’ve worked to achieve.

Know your genre. Know your pitch editor/agent. Be sure they match.

Know your characters. Talk about them as real people. Readers will temproarily live in the world you create, and they want characters they can identify with. An editor/agent looks for well-rounded, strong, and believable characters — that means with a weakness, or flaw, or insecurity, or challenge that makes them real, yet with a high degree of individuality.

Practice your pitch with whomever will listen. Over and over and over. To the point you can switch to auto-pilot if necessary. Work with writing buddies first; they can point out weak areas and applaud your strong ones. Then move on to non-writing buddies. If you can hold their attention, pique their interest or make them ask questions, you’re close to achieving your goal. Don’t trust the dog’s reaction. He sits there and listens, but his ears pricked forward can mean anything from his noticing your building panic, to your voice being too loud or shrill. Speaking of loud and shrill; record your pitch. Listen carefully for enthusiasm and confidence levels. Ensure you remain audible at all times without allowing excitement to make you out of breath or shrill. Exercise good diction. Avoid monotones.

Time your pitch to be sure you stay inside the pre-determined limits, yet speak clearly and concisely, unrushed. Don’t hurry through it because you’re nervous, or worried you won’t get it all in. (When timing yourself, make sure to allow a few seconds here and there for questions and answers. If questioned, make a deliberate mental note of where you are so you can pick up where you left off.) Fine tune your pitch. Then fine tune it again. Use words that are descriptive, emotive, provocative.

Questions I’ve been asked are “What makes this relationship unique?”, “How does your writing compare to what’s out there?”, “What do you feel is fresh enough about your writing to set it apart from what’s out there?”, “What is your favorite part of this story?”, “What specifically are you looking for in an editor/agent?” and “You said you were presenting this on its own, but see it as a series. Give me the basic concept of two more stories and their main characters.”

Yes, that last question threw me for a few seconds. Time is oppressive when you’re scrambling around in your head for what you need. I mention it because I don’t want anyone else caught like that. I’d concentrated on the single title I was pitching to the exclusion of other stories. You can believe I now have a thirty-second encapsulation of my envisioned series, and the accompanying three to five sentence interesting  summaries of stories therein. 

So, what have you encountered? Dreaded? What unexpected questions have you been asked you wish you’d been better prepared for? I’d appreciate your sharing them here so we can all prepare for literally anything. Murphy may show his face, but being able to stand on his coat tail and hold him at bay is an empowering thing. 

It can get you through a pitch session. And earn you that request for a partial or a full! 

Good writing, everyone! I’m working on my pitches for Silken Sands already. Stay safe over the Fourth of July weekend.

~Runere~

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com or on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Computer Issues and Masculine Mayhem!

Sorry all! Suffering computer issues! I’ll have to drop mine by Magic Mike’s for resurrection. So until then I’m back on Hubby’s Hoopty ‘Puter. That means this post is not only late, but will be short and sweet.

My house has been taken over by men. There are masculine things where there should be no masculine things. Like gym equipment in my dining room. Finding a battery charger (industrial size automotive variety) camped out there as well sent me over the edge. I went hunting to see if it was just me being overly sensative, or if the invasion was actual fact.

In the middle bathroom I have a short stool to put towel and jammies on at bath time. It was overloaded with Hotrod magazines and newspapers. Shouldn’t have snatched them up. (Mom warned me to always be a lady. Sorry, Mom.) When I did, an adjustable crescent wrench thunked down on my bare toes. As I hopped around clutchng my foot I yelled at the ceiling. Why was it even there? There’d been no plumbing going on. Stormed to the back door and slung it out into the yard. Don’t know exactly where it landed,  and yes, I regret the fit of temper. I know it’ll come back to haunt me. I’ll probably find the stupid thing while mowing. Dang it.

I then collected nine–yes, NINE–rods and reels from bedrooms, living room and kitchen. How can one thirteen year old boy use that many at one time?!? Treble-hooked lures were on the microwave and in my nest of mixing bowls. A tackle box resided where my baking pans should be.

Just inside the back door Hubby’s horse’s grooming supplies –that belong in the shed–are set as a trap for me to kick over and have to pick up. Repeatedly. I decided to empty the dishwasher to calm my nerves and found three screwdrivers and a hammer in the silverware drawer. Went to soak in the tub and relax my irritation away. Opened the bathroom cabinet only to find a can of GOJO hand cleaner usurping the space for my creams and skin cleansers. GOJO belongs OUTDOORS so the greasy splatters don’t end up inside! Yeah, right.

Went to hide in my sanctuary: my office. I found three hunting caps that weren’t mine, and a duck decoy. Why a duck decoy? I don’t have a clue. I’m not using it as a prop to write by; I’ve never used it. Don’t intend to use it. I’ll own up to the  police utility belt with flashlight, pepper spray, asp, ammo pouches, 9mm and two sets of handcuffs with keys. But not the mallard with the life-sized green head pointed at me, yellow beak ready to pinch if I get too close. (Yes, it’s very realistic. I’ve been bitten by ducks and avoid them like the plague.)

Wandered into my bedroom and spotted the small crystal dish on my dresser for my rings. My rings were gone. However, there is an air compressor quick-connect, three yellow wire nuts, two red ones, a drill chuck key and a foreign object I can’t identify. I want my pretty crystal dish back! I opened my jewelry chest to find all sorts of man odds and ends, Hubby’s and the boys. Tore a nail jerking things out. Searched for an emery board ten long minutes before I realized they’d been confiscated to file carbon off the spark plugs of the mowers and go-carts. Intended to trim a piece off a sheet of fine grit sand paper, only to discover the kitchen shears in the knife block were missing.

At that moment it dawned on me I have nothing in this house I can claim as solely mine! Masculine hands have latched onto everything, claiming them as their own.

In a childish fit of pique, I decided to get even. I dug out an extra cookie cutter. It now resides in Hubby’s toolbox. I’m gleefully hoping someone else finds it and taunts him with it. I put sample vials of perfume in the grandson’s tackle box. Hope one gets crushed and he gets teased by his fishing buddies every time he opens the lid and the light, feminine fragrance wafts into the air! I emptied a plastic box of hooks from Hubby’s tackle box then put it back. When he opens it in the middle of a fishing trip and finds it empty, he’ll know how I feel when I discover my box of Brillo pads under the kitchen sink have all been used cleaning rims and chrome on the truck!

Then I found one item I found I had to call the grandson about. He’s visiting in Washington State right now, so you know my curiosity was great.  I asked what it was and he started snickering.

I’m including a pic of it so you know I’m telling the truth. But I started laughing so hard I got over my mad.

Bait box in a thong!

Oh, yeah, he’s definitely growing up and the boy hormones are on the rise. He dressed his bait box in a thong!!

 
Good writing everyone! I’m running away for the rest of the day. I really, really need it!
 
~Runere~
 
Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com and on Facebook! Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

A Little Kitty Tail

That white object at the middle bottom of this pic is Kitty, 20 ft. up a pine tree.

Hubby banged inside through the back  door.  “We have to do something,” he declared, punching numbers on his cell phone. “That kid’s breaking my heart.”

Didn’t have to ask what he was talking about. For three days we’d driven past our neighbor’s little girl, standing in her yard waiting for her Kitty to come down from a tree.

No telling what sent Kitty twenty feet up into that pine in the first place; maybe a stray dog, or maybe a coyote since they’re bad around here lately. But the original consensus to leave her alone and she’d find her way down when hungry enough wasn’t working.

Day one: Kitty screeched and yowled. Her young owner made several trips to the edge of her yard during the day, begging Kitty to come down and play.

Day two: Kitty screeched, but not quite as vociferous as the day before. Her owner spent more time at the edge of her yard, alternating between begging her to come down and outright crying. Hubby scowled, hands tightening on the steering wheel, every time we ran errands and passed that little girl, tear-filled eyes huge in her heartbroken face. (His nickname should be ‘Loli’ Pop, because when it comes to kids, he’s an all day sucker.)

Day three: we were  worried. It was hot and Kitty hadn’t had anything to eat or drink in seventy-two hours. She barely mewled and didn’t lift her head when called. Her owner dragged

Kitty, clinging harder with every breeze.

a blanket to the edge of the yard and refused to come inside again.

Rescue plan discussed, ladders, safety lines and supplies were assembled. Even a large quilt to be held open by the corners for kitty to land in, just in case she took exception to rescue and decided to demonstrate the feline version of a twenty-bladed Sushi chef and had to be dropped. I cleaned that up a little for the blog. The original male version referenced ape poop and a serious, graphically expressed reluctance to physically experience of high degree of clawmanship.

Once this bunch of stone-cold, hard-core men rallied around the pine tree holding the cat hostage, I skipped inside to do what every gracious Southern hostess does for a social gathering. Make iced tea. Turns out I didn’t have to rush. Rescue didn’t happen right away. One rescuer had a bad back and couldn’t lift things, two were deathly afraid of heights, and the remaining one not afraid of heights had his ribs taped from being kicked by a cow. He couldn’t reach and stretch even if he climbed the ladder. So this rescue had to be a joint effort.

The two afraid of heights lifted the ladder into place against the tree and hubby held it anchored. After considering things (read this as having a big-eyed little girl cling to his pants leg and beg for her kitty), one of them decided it wasn’t that high. He could handle it. He made it to the fifth rung before he turned white and woozy, and was forced to retreat. The second height challenged fellow made it to the eighth rung. Hubby split his time between shooting me glares for my running cell phone commentary for my daughter’s benefit, and coaching his man upward and onward. I had to talk loud. The guy climbing shook so hard the sliding sections of the ladder banged together like giant castanets. Knew hubby’d actually been listening when he repeated what I’d told my daughter. “You need to get down, man. You’re about to rattle every rivet in that ladder loose!”

Was forced to hang up then. Had to climb up behind the guy now frozen in place, situate myself tight behind him and do a tandem descent. My heels are still sore from having to repeatedly kick his foot off the rung he was on and force it to the next lower one. What is with these country boys and steel-toed boots? Reaching the ground called for another round of iced tea.

That left Cow Kicked Man. He went up, bottled water in one front pocket, can of tuna in the other. He couldn’t reach without wincing, so he twisted off the cap and drizzled water at the junction of the tree limb to lure Kitty close enough to grab. Nothing. The can of tuna was cracked open next, a small bit dug out with a finger. He settled the can in the crook of the tree and proffered the loaded digit. Kitty hissed and spat, showing an impressive length of fang. He wisely wiped the tuna on the limb, then hacked and spat himself after he stuck his tuna-wet finger in his mouth without thinking. “Pine tar,” he choked, embarrassed. He tossed the offending can into edge of the woods. Growling sounds issued from Kitty both impressive and absolutely evil. “Now you want it?” he challenged the cat, disgusted.

I was distracted enough with an idea for a Vampire Cat story hubby had to call to me twice. Grabbed a quilt corner and got positioned under the limb as our climber went two rungs higher and set a foot on Kitty’s limb. Looked like she’d have to be bounced out. He pressed down slightly, then let the limb snap back up. Kitty changed the way she faced and we moved in the direction she’d

Glad I don't speak cat. She didn't appreciate our trying to turn her into a Flying Wallenda.

leap, gripping our corners tight, expectant.

Cat still in the tree. He pressed harder, bounced the limb higher. We scrambled the other way, quilt stretched between us.  Our catch cloth remained empty. While we moved around like a land version of a screen saver, he stomped on that limb until it whipped through the air and he was sweaty. And that cat still wasn’t shaken loose. We heard a chirring behind us about the time he whooped and pointed down. Like a cross between a Vaudeville act and dysfunctional flag corps, we stumbled up the road, putting hasty distance between us and the huge coon snacking on discarded tuna while he watched the dinner show. “That’s the son of a bi–” the guy on the ladder swallowed what he was going to say, stretching it to “–iii-scuit eater tearing up my trash!”

Think that coon made the difference, even if the end was anti-climatic. Kitty hated the idea something else got her goodies. She crawled along the thin limb, sinking her claws like talons, and finally reached the closest piece of the rescue unit. He squinched up imagining multiple puncture wounds, expecting her to climb him in the same manner. Imagine our surprise–and his relief–when she slipped inside his shirt and curled around his torso.

He came down that ladder quick, before she could change her mind.  Kitty returned to her ecstatic owner, much congratulatory back-slapping ensued. Everyone packed up and left, and hubby and I decided to walk back to the house rather than ride. I kind of like strolling beside my home-grown hero,  his arm slung around my shoulders and him wearing that crooked little grin.

Hmmm, now what should he get as his reward . . . .

The Necaise Crossing All Volunteer Cat Rescue Crew

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com or follow her on Facebook.   Twitter@RunereMcLain

The Once a Month Curse

Ok, so we’re not going go talk about monthly female issues. No way. And I totally did that title for attention. But I do get a special treat once a month that I don’t think I’ve ever advertised enough. You see I’m a member of the Gulf Coast Chapter of Romance Writers America. The first Saturday of every month I get the oppurtunity to sit down with some of my favorite people, the Sizzlers and many more fabulous authors. This past Saturday the talented Kelly Stone did a presentation and it was wonderful. If you haven’t read any of Kelly’s nonfiction work you really should. As a writer I find her techniques and insight very helpful.

This month I got to sit by Paula and am excited for her. The woman has amazing ideas that I’m sure will become even more amazing books. At the end of each table sat two other Sizzlers, one Ms. Arabella Stokes who for some unknown reason believes she’s in charge. Well, it might have something to do with the fact that she’s our president but still! 🙂 And on the other table was Ms. Jillian Chantal. It’s always so funny to be at the same table with her, especially at opposite ends because what happens is that we  start the table with one mind set and end it with the identical one! I swear sometimes it’s just scary!!

Along the middle of the pack was the ever happy, Jamie Farrell. This lady just cracks me up all the time just by smiling. She’s always giggling which (shockingly) makes me laugh. Plus she brings her five month old baby who is gorgeous!

This weekend I left, heading to my favorite “after meeting” place to eat. As I’m ordering I see the three women coming in the door with the same idea. Yay! We got to spend even more time together which was fabulous. Jamie showed us this really cool website that rates your books’ best selling capacity just by typing in it’s title. I can’t remember the name of the website but it had us all laughing over the results. And I got the chance to run an idea for a new cowboy book by my friends. I’m excited to work on it now. For some reason I keep writing paranormals but my cowboys just flow so much easier!

Every first Saturday of every month the Gulf Coast Chapter of RWA meets. For more information please head over to our website or email any of us Sizzlers. We’re all members.

And for my ladies here you go. I’m so glad you’re my friends. Rita and Runere, I hope to see you next month!!

Sayde

If . . One . . More . . Thing . . Happens . . . .

Hubby’s finally snoring in the bed. I swear he’s worse than a kid fighting sleep at bedtime after he has an epidural for back pain. He refuses to lie down. (He knows he’ll fall asleep. Which he’s supposed to do after receiving a short-term general anesthesia.) Instead, he sits on the couch and talks. Loudly. Continuously. Without pause for breath. His eyes even get big and a little wild. I asked a question specific to his chosen topic of discussion (monologue). He looked at me like I’d lost my mind, and said “Huh? What are you talking about?” He didn’t remember blathering about anything. Don’t know what they gave him at the doc’s office, but it was some good stuff.

Fed him sandwiches, crackers and cheese, and plenty of bottled water (reason for bottled to follow) because he didn’t get to eat this morning. He finished and went into graze mode as a further means of fighting sleep. Cabinet doors opened and slapped shut. Bags were ripped open and crunching ensued. I watched a grown man clutch a bag of Raisin Bran to his chest as if afraid I’d snatch it, and eat it dry by the handful, straight from the bag. Got that away from him. While I swept up crumbs the can opener whirred. Turned around and he was forking black olives out of a can. He doesn’t like them.

The refrigerator worked overtime standing open while he stared inside, fussing like a petulant teen there was ‘nothing to eat’ in it. Sat him on the couch again, went to the very same refrigerator and fixed him — yet another — plate. From the now miraculously full fridge. I was putting things in the dishwasher and realized he wasn’t answering me. Tiptoed into the living room, relieved, expecting to see him snoozing on the couch.

He was missing.

The dogs were on the loveseat, heads shoved behind the curtains and staring out the front window. I peeked and almost freaked out. Had to chase down the driveway after him, turn him around and get him back inside. Where was he going? To check the mail. Mail we’d already collected on the way out to the doc’s office. Caught him a few minutes later with the horse’s empty feed bucket, headed out the back door. Asked where he was going and he said to check the peacock pen for eggs.

Sigh. They’re pea-cocks.

About the time I thought I’d go slap bonkers riding herd on him he decided to watch TV. (Thank you, God.) He started flipping through channels like he was demon-possessed, the volume set on 27, when it’s usually on 18. (Please, God, make the batteries go dead.) I have a headache and need Tylenol.  If I took some every time I started to do so, but can’t remember if I made it to the cabinet for them or not, I’ve possibly consumed six tablets. But as I stand here shaking the bottle it feels like the same amount in there, so I’m thinking maybe I didn’t. Considering two more tabs since the headache’s still there. Or maybe just cracking the seal on that bottle of Canadian Mist that’s been in the liquor closet unopened for three years.

I’m not really complaining. This is typical for him after a medical procedure. I can usually wait him out. Or just sit in his lap, rub the back of his neck and play with his ears (dear Lord, why am I thinking about the dog all of a sudden?) to make him hold still long enough to conk out. His inability to slip easily out from under me is the only advantage I’ve found to my weight gain, but I’ll take it.

I had planned on writing while he slept off the after effects, between washing loads of laundry. But that plan was shot down before we even left. Don’t know why, but it’s always a scramble when we leave to go somewhere. I wet my toothbrush, squirted toothpaste on it, and stuck it in my mouth. Turned the tap off and walked out the bathroom to locate the piece of clothing hubby was complaining he couldn’t find. Pointed it out hanging under his hand, went back to brushing, returned to the bathroom. Spat the toothpaste into the sink and turned the tap.

Nothing.

Not a gurgle, not a bubble, not a hiss. And sure no water. I yelled unladylike things. Hubby got on the phone to find out what was going on while I tried to wipe my face and toothpaste-y fingers (I’m a vigorous brusher) by melting ice cubes in a wash cloth in the microwave. Ever rinsed your mouth with iced tea after brushing? The taste totally defeats the purpose of brushing in the first place.

Turns out AT&T hit a water line while digging for the second time in 6 days. I said more ugly things, this time about AT&T, whom I dumped about a year ago. (At that point I had an 800 number for family in the military to call home, a house number, an office number, a designated fax line, and internet through them, and told them to cancel everything. Why keep something that never functioned properly, right? They were constantly digging back then too.) Hubby hushed me with a hand over the lower half of my face when we drove past the break site on the way out and I tried to shout out the window. Ended up mumbling into his palm the equipment operators’ ineptitude with blueprint interpretation and understanding set back allowances was probably because of their family tree. It growing straight up and totally lacking branches, you know.

The line was repaired while we were gone, but not flushed properly. So here I sit, hose running in the back yard trying to flush out that nasty brown gunk that gets in the water lines whenever they’re broken. Sure hope it’s gone by tomorrow morning. I have to have coffee to face the day. Don’t tell AT&T; I made sure to buy a couple of gallons of water so I wouldn’t do without. But if my water’s still yuck, you can bet I’ll have fun complaining to any and every AT&T supervisor who has the misfortune to take my calls.

Venting relieves stress. Should be a productive morning.

Might even put it in a book!

~Runere~

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com or friend her on Facebook    Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Why Can’t Life Be Like a Bandaid? (Ouchless)

The Energizer G-Kid has gone home. Took him to meet his father at the airport in fact. My SIL has a fascinating career as a nuclear welder/instructor/job manager. It takes him all over the world but limits his time with his children, so we work with him to ensure he gets every possible second with them. EGK can probably spot his dad’s luggage on the airport conveyor faster than his dad can.

So I’m trying to catch up on my word count now that I’m alone. A little awkward with my foot propped up, but my toes keep swelling up still. Why are my toes swollen? Let me walk you through a day and a night. Wait, reverse that. We’ll do the night first.

Something large is after my peacocks. One poor bird wound up with a huge hole in his body under his left wing. So nights are dedicated to patrolling every time the outside turtle-killing dogs bark. They had me on an hourly rotation, yet I still didn’t get the trouble maker. I’m leaning toward a bobcat since there’s a strong smell of cat urine around that area now. I’d have preferred a coyote. They run away when confronted; bobcats just grin and say “Step on up and let me sharpen my claws on your hide!” I’ve started carrying a bigger spotlight. Figure the sooner I see him, the sooner I can start running. Hey, I can shoot over my shoulder.

G-kid comes accessorized. Football, cleats, shotgun, compound bow and forty pound field target, fishing rods and reels, and a minimum of three tackle boxes. He has something to wear for every occasion. Most of it camouflage. And of course my cats test any item they find unattended for Cat Hockey worthiness.

My 3AM wake-up call sounded from outside. You never turn on a light because it warns who or whatever is out there you’re coming. Already tired from three nights of critter hunting I stumbled half asleep into the hall. The moment I realized my toes were tangled in something I put the other foot down so I wouldn’t fall. Unfortunately it was right on the bill of the non-Cat Hockey worthy ball cap the other foot was hung in. Now, some ball caps fit your head with plastic adjustable straps that snap together. (I call them emergency release mechanisms. Especially when your pony tail is pulled through the back of the cap, you’re mowing, and a tree decides to reach down and scalp you.) But I didn’t tangle with one of those. I got the high-end version cap with the cloth, triple-sewn, double buckle, bear tooth, non-slip grip. Stumbled and nearly jerked off my own middle toes. Forgot to mention what the cats don’t find Hockey worthy, they sleep on. Spidermonkey grabbed it and took off for the living room and her favorite chair.  Did glimpse ‘BONE COLLECTOR’ embroidered on the front and wondered if my kitties’d taken the suggestion to heart, with me their first trophy.

A few hours later I brought hubby coffee in bed and thrust my injured foot under his nose. “Remember this color,” I ordered. “It’s the exact shade of eyeshadow I need for Halloween.”

The injured peacock needed his twice daily dose of Wonderdust as well. Great stuff for wounds. It’s a dry powder you shake in a flat plastic bottle and ‘puff’ on. EGK offered to help so we retired to the peacock pen. Peacocks are large birds with extremely strong wings and a six foot wing span. They can fly ten miles before they set down to give you an idea of how strong. But their legs are fairly weak. You catch them by grabbing a handful of tail feathers in one hand and moving quickly forward to press the other hand down on their backs. Their legs bend, their chests are on the ground, and all you have to do is transfer your hands to their bodies and hold their wings closed.

Never try that with an injured foot. The ‘move quickly’ part has been deleted from the capture equation. EGK is standing at ready with the Wonderdust, but I stupidly step forward on the boo-boo toes and bobble the quick step to get a hand on said bird’s back. Next thing I know I’m caught in a sand storm.

Determined to get away from me, thunderous rapid wing flapping ensues, the noise and thrust equivalent to standing behind a B-52 on take-off. I resort to a two-handed grip on the tail feathers not to lose him. EGK is bent over laughing while my arms are getting jerked out of their sockets and, hair flying, I’m sand-blasted in waves as a giant twenty pound bird keeps ‘flying’ in place. All I could think was he can keep this up ten miles worth. Both my eyes squinched shut against the sand and small pebbles pelting me, I blindly, and maybe a little wildly, do a one-handed pat every few wing beats trying my best to locate this bird’s shoulder blades to immobilize him.  Never snap a smart alec answer to a grandchild’s hooted offer to help during such an episode either. Had to rinse my mouth three times before my teeth finally quit gritting together. Eventually wrestled the bird to the ground and treated him. I retired to the shower. Had enough sand in the bottom of the tub I could have squirted an entire bottle of conditioner out and never slipped.

But now I’m writing again to bulk up my self-imposed word count, the critter hunt’s still on, and the toes continue to heal. My banana keeper hit celebrity status during this visit though. Found where EGK  scrawled a personal message on its base with a Sharpie. “Petal Panthers Rule! Porkchop #85”. I’ll probably keep it forever for its *sniff, dabs eyes* sentimental value.

Okay. Blackmail. He deserves it for laughing while his grandmother was accosted by a peacock!

Good writing!

~Runere~

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com or follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain or Facebook as Runere McLain

Searching for My Muse

Who thought I’d ever be playing hide and seek at my age. And not the dignified kind of hide and seek where you get stuck in the play tube at McDonald’s and the manager has to pull you out by the ankles. Since you emerge with your hair and half of your sweater flipped over your eyes it isn’t bad. It’s not like you can see people pointing and staring. And since you can’t see them it’s easy to pretend the giggles and titters are because something funny is showing on the TV in the corner. Still kind of peeved it took a two cherry pie bribe to get a kid to dive in the ball pit until he located my left shoe that popped off sometime during the rescue process. No this is something infinitely more embarrassing.

I’m talking about the times I can’t write for lack of a muse. I don’t mean family tales. Family can be counted on to give me plenty of material. I mean what I’ve chosen to write; the paranormal. I have storylines plotted; strong, compelling characters with back story sheets; settings explored and documented with pictures and recordings to draw realism from; snippets of conversation logged that show a particular character’s personality perfectly. I have coffee. I have chocolate. I have Canadian Mist. Yet I’m left waiting for my characters to show up.

I mean the same little buggers that rap on the back of my eyelids in the middle of my sleep, demanding their story be told. Now. I accommodate them because usually what they have to say it pretty good stuff. But when I have a nice free block of time with no duties or distractions will they return the favor? Nooo.

I hoped to  give a glowing report containing word count tallies, primary and secondary characters growth, number of chapters completed and an estimated finish date. Thanks to Mz. Muse and her uncooperative self, I got nuthin’.

So thank heavens for family or you’d have nothing to read this week either. A couple of the kids came up this weekend and mowed the grass for me. Since six of ten acres is grass, it’s quite a job. They were also clearing trees that had grown up around the pond. They claim they were worried about the roots penetrating the levee, but I think it was more to reclaim all the fishing gear tangled in the branches. When the sun hit  just right, a couple were so full of silver spoons, glass-beaded spin beetles and multi-hued lures they could have been dream-worthy Christmas displays for some world-renowned tackle shop.

I thought I was safe inside cooking until my youngest daughter burst in, all in a snit, hollering, of all things, “Will won’t let me use the chainsaw!” Will, never one to miss a chance to torment her, was hot on her heels mimicking her in falsetto with, “Momma! Momma! I’m gonna tell Momma!” The visual of a six-foot, two-hundred sixty pound man wiggling around flapping his hands like a kindergartener is unsettling. And hard to shake.

“Shut up, Will!” Rachel’s glare can blister paint.

Will grins because he got a rise out of her. Still using that shrill falsetto he whines: “Momma’ll make you let me use the chainsaw!”

Rachel: “Girls can use chain saws! Ask Momma, she’ll tell you!”

Will, in falsetto: “It’s not fair!” Hand flap, hand flap. “Girls can use chain saws too!”

I’m holding a spatula in the air, looking from one to the other trying to figure out if they’re serious or joking with each other. About that time Rachel got a wicked little victory gleam in her eye. How do I know it’s a victory gleam? I’ve been watching it for thirty years. She takes off across the room.

“Hey! Where are you going?” Will asks in his normal male voice, worried and suspicious. He starts after her just a little too late.

“You left the chainsaw on the levee and I can run faster than you! Nyah! Nyah!” That jibe is tossed over her shoulder as she bolts out the door.

Two sets of feet thunder away from me. Chainsaw started a couple of minutes later. Don’t know who got it. Don’t care. All I want is for my absentee muse to show up. So I can get back to things that make sense to me. Like the Paranormal.

~Runere~

Visit Runere at RunereMcLain.com  and follow her on Twitter @RunereMcLain

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