A Self-Published Romance Author Contest!! And Winners are READER’S CHOICE!

What, you say? A contest for self-published romance authors? With category winners covers in a Romance Writers Report advertisement? (RWR being the nationally distributed magazine of Romance Writers of America.) A contest judged by readers and not other writers?

What self-pubbed author wouldn’t love the opportunity to gain that type of national exposure?  (Plus, the Sizzlers have their heads together, working on a few other benefits for finalists and winners, so keep checking back!)

Many readers know some awesome self-pubbed works out there; authors with distinctive voices, a flare for plot, true story-tellers. All they need to succeed on a grand scale is exposure. So if you readers following the Sizzlers know of such an author, please point them our way because GCCRWA genius, Jamie (so glad she’s a chapter member!), suggested we do a self-pubbed contest and the idea took off. Since RWA recognizes self-published authors, and there’s an indie chapter trying to form, it’s the perfect way to honor these writers.

Even better it will be judged by AVID READERS of romantic fiction! (*Any reader interested in volunteering to judge, the requirements will be posted at http://gccrwa.com/starcont within the next few days. We would love to have you.)

Yes, you read correctly; this contest is A Reader’s Choice Award! I’ll hush now and give you the deets!

 

 

Silken Sands Self-Published Star Contest
*A READER’S CHOICE AWARD

. . . was created to recognize excellence in self-published, romantic fiction. Contest judges are avid readers of romance. Entries will be accepted for this contest from November 15, 2011 to January 5, 2012.

Following categories are included:

Short Story — (containing between 5,000 and 19,999 words.)

Novella —  (a word count between 20,000 and 40,000.)

Single Title Contemporary

Single Title Paranormal

Single Title Romantic Suspense

Single Title Historical

Single Title Inspirational

Young Adult

*Please note: This is a romance genre contest, so all entries must have strong romantic elements/plot lines. All heat levels are accepted in each category.

Eligibility and Entry Requirements

The Silken Sands Self-Published Star Contest is open to members of RWA as well as non-members.

Entrants must be 18 years of age by December 31, 2011.

Completed entry forms and appropriate fees must be received by GCCRWA no later than 5p.m. CT, on January 5, 2012. All forms and fees received after the deadline will be returned to the entrant.

Entrants are required to check a box on the entry form indicating their acceptance of contest terms.

Entries to the 2011 contest must be original works of fiction that were released between Jan. 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011. Works that have been previously released may no be submitted.

After 200 entries are received registration will be closed, so please get your submission in as soon as possible! Finalists will be announced February 15, 2012, and winners from each category named at the 2012 Silken Sands Writers Conference. (Didn’t know about the conference? Check it out here http://gccrwa.com/SilkenSands )The awards ceremony will be held on the evening of Saturday, March 17, 2012.

Entry Fees
$20 per entry for RWA members; $25 per entry for non-RWA members.

There are a few more guidelines concerning multiple entries, so be sure to read the Rules when you check out the contest. Enter here http://gccrwa.com/StarCont

If you have any further questions, please email them to GCCStarContest@gmail.com

So, what do you think? Are you as excited as I am? Entries started arriving within hours of the contest being announced, so getting your entry in soon is important! Maybe it will be your cover featured in an RWR contest winners ad!

~Runere~

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

Phantasy Friday: New Orleans Voodoo; Requests and Tributes to Marie Laveau

Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau's Tomb in St. Louis Cemetery #1

Halloween is the time when everyone’s thoughts turn to the occult. Maybe only in the form of scary costumes for children, maybe a few remembered snatches of hushed family conversation about an unusual–and unexplainable–incident, maybe throwing a worried look over your shoulder in the dark, no matter how determined you are not to do so.

It’s possible something deep in the human psyche renders Halloween a time you’re more susceptible to something oppressive in the room, or a misplaced cold draft that caresses the skin to produce a fine shiver. The sensation of being watched by the unseen. Or maybe it’s the way the hairs on the back of your neck prickle for no observable reason. Candles and cobwebs. Ghosts and goblins. Tricks and treats. Samhain (pronounced Sowen), the night the veil between the living and dead is at its thinnest, and spirits are reputed to walk freely upon the earth.

Ooooo! Shivers! I love Halloween!

I promised today would be Voodoo info day for Phantasy Friday. And lucky I am to live so close to New Orleans, Louisiana. After all, who’s better known than Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau? Or the fact New Orleans herself  is touted as one of the most haunted cities in America, the City of Spirits. And yes, the ‘spirit’ part can be taken two ways, because Bourbon Street is definitely Party Central! I understand some of the girls from the writers group are planning a trip to New Orleans in the near future. So this is for them. Just in case they decide to stop for a visit with Marie Laveau. C’mon, Sayde Grace! Ask Marie for her blessings on your new book VOODOO, I DO. I dare you!

Okay, playful poking at friends is over. Down to business.

Have you ever wondered how to –properly– make a request of Marie Laveau? Well, I’ve got a couple of quick etiquette tips if you’re planning a visit to her crypt in St. Louis Cemetery #1. Especially propitious right now, since the Halloween season is considered one of her most receptive times.

One way is to knock three times on her tomb before making your request. But be warned; once that request is granted, according to folklore you must return to her crypt and mark three X’s, side by side (and totally against the law!) on its surface in chalk or with a red brick chip. Or you may also leave her a money gift (coins only!), candles in powerful Voodoo colors of white, red or black, cigars, alcoholic beverages, fruit, flowers, or hand-made items that will please her.

Gifts and tributes left to Marie Laveau and Marie Laveau II at her tomb.

Pennies stacked in payment for Marie's services, and the obligatory three X's marked side by side on her crypt (totally against the law!) in chalk or with a red brick chip during a return trip to acknowledge a request granted.

Another way, if you feel inclined to ask for her help with a problem — making money, finding love, or hurting an enemy — is to make your request to her aloud, and stack three pennies on her tomb as payment for her services.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I’d offer a word of caution though.

Be very, very careful what you wish for  —-

—– the Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau is always listening.

 

Here’s to haunting you all month, folks!

~Runere~

 

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

A Writing Style for Every Reader and a Reader for Every Style

Guess I’m finally going to have my rant session. Met with a couple of writer friends last week to bounce ideas around, and one of the women was extremely quiet. Highly out of character. Her exuberance that typically sent us home recharged and excited over our current projects was missing. I knew something was wrong. When I finally got her to open up she burst into tears.

She spilled her problem like she was spilling her soul. It left me wanting to beat the bloody hell out of someone.

Seems she’d been cornered and totally, viciously denigrated for her subject matter. Was told it was trash. That writing romance novels was not a noble endeavor and in no way constituted a literary contribution. That she dared to put (*hand to forehead*) s-e-x in them made it worse and constituted the ultimate sin.

Does her attacker write? No. She probably has no idea the work involved in rendering an interesting, compelling and cohesive story. Yet she had absolutely no qualms about robbing her victim of her budding confidence. I caught myself plotting to invite the old biddy to our next writing exercise. And yes, I say that wearing my shark-tooth grin. But I’m glad I stopped to think before reacting or commenting. You know why? Because coercing her to try to write with the intention of putting her in her place made me no better than her.

I’ve read this girl’s outline as well as her first few chapters. It’s a story based around the Spanish settlements in early New Orleans history and is incredibly well researched. I admit to feeling a little weepy when she told me she’d been inspired by a short story I have out in an anthology, because until she read it, she didn’t know you could take liberties with history and build imaginary characters around an actual event. People, this girl made history come alive. You learned historical facts painlessly because she brought them to memorable life.

Someone even attempting to crush that type of talent pissed me off. Being allergic to jail, I did the next best thing. I laughed it off. Difficult with your jaw clenched. Then I sat her in front of the computer and showed her the different book purchasing sites and how to find each categorical rating. From Inspirational to Erotica to Mystery to Contemporary Romance to Horror to Paranormal to Historical Romance to Futuristic to Fantasy to Young Adult and even Non-fiction, and every sub-genre in between. Showed her each had top-sellers and how to find their authors websites. I took her to websites of two authors in vastly polar categories who shared their earnings, and she was stunned to find both earned well. I think I handled it pretty well.

But I’d still rather punch someone.

This young lady nearly threw away her dream of writing because of one judgmental individual. So if you write, or if you ever plan to try, put your steel-toed boots on. Someone is sure to try to step on your toes. It goes further than this girl’s plight, too. It infuriates me when I hear authors of one genre belittle or dismiss authors in another, or one category of reader denigrate readers of another genre. Diversity is what keeps us all afloat.

Yes, I’m a little sensitive. I was slammed once for writing Paranormal stories by a writer of Inspirational stories. Him being an all-knowing male and myself a female (read ‘of no consequence, as men are in charge of everything’. He remarked women were God’s afterthought. I lean more toward the Creator knew you can improve-on-every-prototype camp.) didn’t make our road together less rocky. He piously told me all writing should be educational and uplifting; like the Bible.

Man, did he step in that one. Having a Baptist preacher for a father sure helped me out with him. Ever see a man suffering a combination of shock he was agreed with, yet puffed-up with false self-righteousness because he thought he’d managed to slap someone down? It turns your stomach to see a person so pleased over hurting another. The dead giveaway he was in trouble should have been how cheerful I was when I told him I often went to the Bible for inspiration with story lines. 

Story from the Bible that would make a killer Historical or Contemporary: King David and his lustful red-headed self sending a soldier off on a suicide mission so he could get his hands (and other body parts)  on the guy’s wife. That turned into a wild tale when hubby came strolling home from the battlefield.

Shame on Rebekah for favoring her younger son to the point she worked a devious plan to fool her own husband, and rob her older son of his birthright. But if you thought on it, I said after a bit, Esau did earlier trade the promise of his birthright for a bowl of Jacob’s stew. Esau obviously didn’t really respect his father’s heritage, so maybe he didn’t deserve to inherit it after all. I pretended to think a bit more, and said shame on Esau’s brother Jacob, too, for taking advantage of a blind man, and using a pelt in place of a hairy arm and neck to rob Esau of his birthright by lie and subterfuge.

OH! And what about those two really kinky daughters who got their dad drunk and got pregnant by him so their bloodline wouldn’t die out?  Or the only reference to masturbation I could find being it’s better to spill your seed in the belly of a whore than to spill it on the ground.

He was stumbling backwards by the time I finished. Hmm. Maybe I should be ashamed for losing my temper. I’m convinced those stories are the Creator’s way of saying He’s seen it all, and there’s nothing we can’t bring to Him. Or Her, depending on your religious preference. After all, the biggest lesson the Bible teaches us is not to be so hasty to judge someone else.  

So if you ever find yourself afflicted with a case of the better-than-thous, or tempted to indulge in a bit of snarkiness, substitute a little professionalism instead. Respect the craft even if you can’t agree with the subject matter. We writers work to create our best stories, no matter which genre we claim as our own.

Putting my steel-toed boots back on. The Good Book says to turn the cheek. Once. After that it doesn’t say anything, and I can give you Chapter and Verse of some rollicking good fights. I may be too much of a weenie to do much when it comes to defending myself, but I want to be ready to kick the crap out of the next person who deliberately works to destroy a new writer’s dream.

As far as my attacker? He was my inspiration to fight on–in my chosen genre. He’s nothing more to me now than an example to be used. Check out the sign at the top of the post. He sure doesn’t pay rent! lol Write it like you mean it, folks.

See you next week.

~Runere out!~

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com   Friend her on Facebook, she loves the company! Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Paranormal Investigation Teams: What Personalities Do You Find? Plus pics!

Most of you know I work with a paranormal investigation team. Not as often as I would like these last few months, but my heart was with them. Between knee replacement and Hubby’s ticker trying to un-tock, we’ve been doing the medical mambo.

I just agreed to take over as Case Manager for the book we’re putting together of haunted destinations in the South, while Helen, our original case manager, helps nurse her parents during recovery. So interviews for entries in the book will take front seat the next few weeks. (Hint-hint. If you know someone with a B&B, store, restaurant, bar, etc. with paranormal activity or history, we’d love to include them in the book! We’ve covered places in Memphis, Atlanta, Pensacola, Bay St. Louis and Ocean Springs so far. Feel free to give them my email addy. It’s RunereMcLain@hughes.net)

One of the questions I’m asked quite often is what do you do on investigations, and what type of person joins a paranormal investigation team? After all, ghost hunting is not glamorous, as depicted on TV, and there aren’t responses or viable evidence during every investigation. It requires long, overnight hours of asking simple questions then sitting quiet with recorders and infrared cameras rolling, all in hopes of picking up a voice or visual anomaly. Other times you closely observe monitors, marking down times and possible events to be double checked when recordings and film are later reviewed. Sessions usually last about forty minutes, there’s a short break, and teams switch rooms or positions. We always work in teams, and always carry blessed medals. And enough pictures are taken that you’d think a herd of paparazzi had descended on the place. You can get a little flash drunk, blinded by the flare of multiple cameras in a confined space in the dark.

I love all of it; the travel, the site histories, the setting up, the investigation, tearing down and reviewing. But if I had to name a favorite part, it would have to be my fellow investigators. Not everyone can go on every investigation. So members have to blend easily with others, be willing to take the lead, or willing to step back and let another take the lead. Members have to be willing and able to travel on weekends, get hot and sweaty, get cold and wet, get sandy, muddy or dirty, sustain long hours and be able to keep quiet. Finding people with the ability to stay quiet is more of a challenge than most think. It’s only natural for people to want to converse, and during long investigations, boredom prompts the urge to exchange information.

I don’t want to bore anyone so I’ll just touch on a few of our members at the last get together to show the diversity. We had a government worker, a self-employed business woman, self-employed business man, a police officer, an EMT, a young male technical advisor and father, a single mom, a Native American specialist, a model, a skeptic, and a paranormal writer.

Back up, you said? Model? Yes. Real live working professional model. Tessie is one of those rarities who is beautiful inside as well as out. She showed up at our fundraiser in crisp shorts, feminine top, full make-up and four-inch cork-soled platform sandals. And I’ll give her this much, despite her band box appearance she’s no Barbie. She has no problem getting her hands dirty with any aspect of an investigation. Traffic may have problems keeping up a steady flow when she stands roadside displaying the Ed Hardy skin care products basket she brought to raffle off, but she takes the squealing brakes, honking horns and moon-eyed guys in stride, distributing her mega-watt smile without prejudice to age, appearance, type of vehicle or wolf whistle.

Susan is our Native American expert. There are six siblings in her family of Irish-Indian ancestry. They all favor, yet three have such fair complexions they could have stepped off the boat from Erin yesterday; the other three look like they just stepped off the Reservation. Susan has the reputation for physical encounters, some violent. If we’re working a case and hear thud, “Son of a bi–!”  you can lay money on it being Susan. She was picked up and tossed across a hall hard enough to put her head through the sheet rock at one house. Dolly is our founder, and she’s a ghost magnet. Jared, her son, is our resident skeptic and torments us all, but in a good way. Bobbie is our mom, and is one of the fastest to pick up on a change of atmosphere or a visual. We also had Scott, Jeff and Harold there, newbies learning the ropes. If I left anyone out, I plead old age.

How did I get into investigations? As a paranormal writer I asked to go out with the team to give a character realism, and was hooked immediately.

So who makes up a team? You. Me. Retired Aunt Martha. The college student off for the summer. A policeman. A fireman. The techno-geek and the Skoal-ringed country boy. In other words, anyone with a desire to explore the unknown.

On grounds of Civil War Hospital prior to asking for sign of a presence.

After asking for a sign; mists and orbs. (Orbs are simply energy, not ghosts.)

Mists coalescing into tighter form.

First picture when asking for a sign.

Second picture after huge spike on EMF meter. So, what do you think now?

Come take a walk on the wild side with us. We’re taking applications right now!

~Runere~

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

Writers: Do What You Need to Survive (and that’s write!)

Don’t know how many of you have self-imposed quotas, or minimum word counts for the day, week or month. Some well-established writers only pen five or six pages a day. I just wish my writing was that tight. I know if I don’t rough draft at least a chapter a day it feels as if everything else in my life is off-kilter. Normally I manage a bit more, typically two chapters or 5k words, or other writing in the form of outlines, queries, edits, synopses, etc; but the chapter minimum keeps me from twitching. Just remember: practice and repetition makes things easier, so write something every day.

Since I spend any time away from the laptop people watching, there’s never a shortage of possible material. Oh. And animals. That small spiral notebook I carry (Okay, Hubby does it since he has bigger pockets) is filled with fragmented jottings of plot, scene, situation, conversation, even interesting names. Written on my knee, the wall,or  Hubby’s back they may be difficult to transcribe and translate, but they’re there. Just a few pertinent situational words to help with recall. If one of the dogs gets hold of said notebook, the pertinent situational words turn the air blue while I employ Scotch tape to reconstruct it.

This week I’ve been collecting animal bits and pieces. Not of the animals themselves; just their activities and responses. I’m beginning to think brain damage may be a prerequisite to become my pet. Take the newest addition, Cochise, the pit bull rescue for example.  A sweeter, kinder dog doesn’t exist. But there’s not enough room on the bed for a sixty pound dog to pretend he’s a three-pound puppy. He’ll bounce and crouch and pounce and spin and flop, joyously stomping me to kingdom come (he thinks he has the grace and delicacy of a Toy Poodle), then try to run in circles. Invariably he runs right off the bed. I drag myself to the edge, hang over, and am met by the most confused “What the hell just happened?” expression ever worn by an upended canine. The sad part is he climbs right back up and does it again. And again. We’ve started keeping track of how many times he does it a night. His low is three. High is seven. That was the night Hubby cupped my face in his hands, looked me deep in the eyes and reasoned sadly yet gently, “You know there’s something really wrong with him, don’t you?”

I let the big dogs out at six every morning. The Blue Heeler and Golden Lab tear away shoulder to shoulder at full speed, like connected low flying rockets. They travel the yard in a huge sweeping arc while I dump the horse her feed. They’re on the return end of the loop to the pond and back about the time I’m walking back toward the house. The bucket comes in handy when they forget to watch where they’re going. It lends the illusion I’m in control of the situation if I flail away with it as I’m mowed down. They’re always sorry. I can tell by all the puppy kisses and bouncing they do on my back as I belly crawl for the peach tree to drag myself upright. And that Lab amazes me. She can squirt under a Suburban while running full tilt. Lays under there, paws over her muzzle laughing while the Heeler flops around on the ground from head-butting the door at 30 MPH.  Hubby has resorted to the bathroom plunger a few times to get the dent out.

My daughter has a sugar glider that lost a paw. What’s a sugar glider? Think nocturnal version of a flying squirrel. I peeked into Tutu’s cage (named thusly because she’s too, too cute and too, too loud) and saw what looked like a sleeping long-tailed chipmunk. I kept tempting her to leave her teepee with a piece of cheese. My “Good Lord!” was heartfelt, and I nearly plopped on my butt from jerking back when she popped her head out.  Being nocturnal, sugar gliders have big eyes. Really big eyes. Big googly eyes like you find on a pre-kindergartener’s rendition of a face. 

I learned first hand she transforms from chipmunk to a thick-tailed furry kite when she got out. It was a race to catch her before any of the two cats and two dogs did.  Four people stumble rapidly through several rooms (and into each other), leaping over furniture and booting cats and dogs back, usually with Rachel scrambling around shouting, “Dammit, Mama! Let her land on you so I can grab her!” I’m sorry, but it’s instinctive to duck if something with bug eyes and fluttery panels of skin stretched between its front and back legs launches itself at you from the top of the curtains. Tutu dive-bombs with the intensity and deadly accuracy of a kamikaze pilot. She could be shoosting mid-air straight for you so you’re yelling “I got her! I got her!” like an outfielder claiming a fly ball, and — poof  — fuzz her tail out like a mad cat, and the resultant drag from all that flared hair aids her in some freakish arial evasive maneuvers.

She finally landed on a bed. We got the door shut and a towel stuffed under it so she couldn’t get out. (She can flatten herself like a bat to fit beneath the door.) Seems her short stint of freedom inflated her sense of self. My son-in-law weighs about 260, yet this five or six-ounce creature stood on her back legs doing a spread-armed Frankenstein pose in challenge, shrilling at him like a falsetto-voiced hawk. Never dreamed it physically possible for that decibel of sound to come from something so tiny. Will just glared at her in disgust as she flared her ‘wings’ at him. “Really, Tutu?” he demanded as he grabbed and missed. Grabbed again. “Really?!?”

I know I’m going to use Tutu vs Will in a book one day. Think it’s the whole flea-on-an-elephant thing that appeals to me.

Y’all go get your writing done for today. I have a chapter to bang out so I’ll feel better!

~Runere~

PS Shadowz Paranormal Investigations is having a meet & greet, bake sale fundraiser, and is taking applications for investigators this Saturday, 4pm to 8pm, beside the Mystik Spirit New Age Store in Bay St. Louis. Come by and visit or ask questions. Remember applicants: You must have picture ID and be able to pass a background check!

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

The Small Things . . . And Blow-up Dolls

Strange how it’s the small things that create lasting impressions. Small things that make you absolutely screaming crazy while the big things roll off.

It’s why I try to incorporate the small things into my writing. The gestures, the nuance of a crooked smile, the stroke of a warm hand down an arm to tangle fingers, a thumb in a belt, a chin lifted in greeting. They individualize characters, make friends of them. Have the reader laughing and saying “I do that too!” or “Oh my gosh! That could be John!” The familiarity creates a bond.

Then as relationships advance, the ‘small things’ take on different meaning. Usually with first names, brown eyes, skinned knees or freckles. Two such small things got my baby sister this past weekend. She’s been stretched thin and took some time with her girls to relax at my brother’s house near Jackson. The Farm. I’ve always maintained you sleep with one eye open with children around. Bekah took advantage of the first opportunity for a daytime nap she’d had in forever. Emma and Tom Jr’s little girl took advantage of the nap.

Rebekah woke with a mustache and unibrow, having slept through their application. Either she was really tired, or those girls have mad skills. Personally, I’m excited because I see the delicate touch of budding neurosurgeons or bomb squad personnel. (Thank heavens they used washable markers.)

Met with friends and conversation turned to past occupations and the most hilarious incident of each. While working as a musician, I had a lead guitarist who was magical in his talent. He was also in the Air Force. His wife packed up the kids in a snit and moved back to Arkansas. After the required length of time to reclaim residency there she filed for divorce. Her grounds? Desertion. This poor guy was in the service, stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, with another three years to go where he’d re-upped at her request. To have accompanied his wife he’d have gone AWOL. Thank heavens for reasonable judges; she didn’t get away with it. I don’t know how it ended, but he finally transferred closer to where she was.

The short tale I have is from his time here alone. Our band was like a family. So when his birthday rolled around we jumped on the opportunity to torment him.  The owner and clients of the lounge we played at loved this guy, so they went along with our machinations, each bringing a tacky gag gift to ‘comfort’ him during his crazy divorce. Hubby’s and my contribution? A cheap blow-up doll in a kneeling position. Problem is they come flat in a cellophane package. Hubby declared there was no way he was blowing the thing up by hand. Uh, mouth. So just prior to the first set we pulled into a beachfront gas station advertising an air hose.

Since we had to keep the doll hidden for it to be a surprise, Hubby decided to inflate it in the back seat. Package ripped open, he crawled into the back while I leaned over from the front seat to help spread her out like a plastic Flat Stanley.  Hubby located her filler tube, connected the air hose then nodded for me to drop quarters into the machine.  I jumped back in the front.

No sooner did she start to plump than a station wagon full of kids with beach rafts, floaties and an assortment of inflatable toys pulled in behind us. But with the compressor rattling Hubby never heard the vehicle pull up. He glanced out the back window to find an audience. Right about the time an arm popped up in the air. His eyes bugged, and he smacked it down hissing, “Help me!” Hubby gets flustered so seldom I started to laugh. He still had the air hose on the fill tube so she kept inflating. I looked at the woman in the station wagon whose horrified gaze was locked on the plastic head and shoulders slowly rising above the back of the seat like some rouged-and-lipsticked demonic entity. 

Both of them had perfect circles for mouths.

I laughed harder, over her expression and Hubby’s frantic efforts to disconnect the air hose. Wasn’t happening. And once I start laughing I’m good for nothing but limp arm gestures and snorting when I try to breathe.

Hubby threw a leg over Plastic Polly’s torso in an attempt to force her down out of sight. All that happened was her bent legs popped up either side of his hips, her little pink feet waving in the air. I’m laughing hysterically, he’s red-faced and yelling for me to help him, and the little kids are hanging out every window of the station wagon trying to see what’s going on and pointing.

Hubby and the doll were thrashing around in the back seat as he kept trying to disconnect her. The poor woman finally came to her senses, found reverse, stomped on the accelerator and squealed out of the parking lot. Sure hope those kids got their toys aired up. Hubby clambered over the now fully inflated Plastic Polly, exited the door and turned off the air compressor.

The birthday party was a raging success, two Seabees escorting Polly in between them on signal. (Navy men will do anything to humiliate an Airman, and vise versa.) Hubby was so embarrassed being caught by little kids and the fact I didn’t help him, that he didn’t speak to me until the end of the second set. Every time I looked at him, I couldn’t help it. I’d remember his face and hiccup or snort into the mic, to the point the owner asked “Is she okay?”

And yeah, I’m going to use that in a book. Everyone thinks I make this stuff up any way.  If they only knew.

Keep writing everyone! Love’s worth every keystroke!

~Runere~

**Of special note: Hubby had a stress test last week. It came back abnormal. So did the EKG he had done today. (Thursday, since I set my posts a day early.) It raised enough concern he’s scheduled for heart catheterization and possible stint(s) next Friday. I’d appreciate y’all giving a shout out to The Man Upstairs for him. I’ll let you know how things go. Yes, I scared. The man is my world.

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

Long Distance Dilemma

It happened again. A call from three thousand miles away seeking assistance. It started something like this; “Hey Poppa! It’s Hunter. Do you know how to get a locked door open?”

“The key?”

I heard the snort of pure exasperation. “C’mon, Pop! We don’t have a key.”

Pop knows to ask the important questions first. “Where’s you mom?” G-son: “She’s at work.” Pop: “Guess you’re locked out until she gets home then.” G-son: “No, Pop! We have to get in!”

An uh-oh pause. Pop’s “Why?” was a bit suspicious.  G-son: “Because Noah’s locked himself in Mom’s bedroom.”

Did you just experienced the same metal-on-metal screech of thought processes locking up that we did? When it happened to us it didn’t quite drown out the all too audible fight for possession of the phone. The other g-son won. Not like they needed to take turns or anything. They were loud enough to negate any need for a conference call.

“Noah’s locked inside. (*Noah’s four.) You two are locked outside,” Poppa reiterated to g-son number two.  At an affirmative answer he asked “Why can’t Noah come unlock the door and let you in?”

“Noah doesn’t know how to un-lock Mom’s door. He’s asleep, but he’s stuck in the room even if he does wake up.” Pop had just suggested they try all the windows to see if one was open when g-son number two said, “Uhhhh, Pop? Gotta go! Call you back in a minute.”

They didn’t call back. But neither did we get a hysterical call from their mother, so we knew they were alright. I did manage to get hold of g-son number two the day after.

“How’d you get inside?” I started our conversation. Indistinct mumbling and a quick change of subject attempt came from the other end of the line. That just made me dig my heels in. I asked again. Louder, balancing on the back two legs of my chair to wait him out.

An irritated burst of breath sounded in the phone with his admission. “Fire department,” came out like one word, low and begrudging. The bang of my chair dropping back the floor almost drowned out, “And the police.”

 “Do what?!?”

“Sheesh, Maw! Do you have to screech like that? I’m gonna be deaf in my old age now!”

“Tell me.” The boy recognizes a command when he hears one.

“We got locked out of the house while Noah was locked in Mom’s room. Asleep. When he woke up we were going to tell him to unlock the window because he knows how to do that, crawl in and unlock the door. ” He hesitated. I was confused. It didn’t make a bit of sense, and then he got mad all over again. “I went out on the porch to see if Mom’s window was unlocked and Hunter followed me out. I told Hunter not to close the door! But noooo. What does Hunter do? Makes his eyes real big, puffs up and slams it just because I said not to! (*Older brother, younger brother issues. It’s a male dominance thing.) Told him it was locked and he said No it isn’t! Yeah, it is. Tried to prove me wrong. Twisted the handle while he stepped to go inside. Bounced into the locked,” he stressed the word, “door with enough force I thought he broke his nose. Knotted his head up pretty good.” Was that admiration?

“Is he okay?” Hey, I worry. Tyler pooh-poohed things. “He was flopping around on the porch but could still hear me.” 

My fingers probe my temples in a massage. “But how did the Fire Department and police get involved?”

“I was walking around trying all the windows to find a way in. I kept thinking it was getting kind of dark inside. Then when I got to the back porch, I got a whiff of smoke and the smell of food cooking. Told Hunter there must be an old hobo in the woods cooking his dinner and burning it. That’s when Hunter got this really weird look on his face.”

“I had a pizza in the oven,” Hunter remembered. Forty-five minutes too late.

“It was getting dark inside because the house was filling up with smoke! We called the Fire Department, but while we waited for them Hunter watched the kitchen while I stood by the bedroom window. I kept knocking and yelling, trying to get Noah to wake up and unlock the window. But he only stuck his head under the pillow and rolled up tighter in the blanket. Hunter was going to yell if he saw flames and I was going to break the window to get Noah out. I’d already thought it through, Maw,” he assured me, so I must have been sputtering pretty badly. “With the door closed there was very little smoke in Mom’s room, so I knew I didn’t have to worry about a flash fire coming up the hall getting in there.”

I’m hyperventilating by now. He just keeps talking. “The firemen tried to kick in the back door but it wouldn’t give. So the police kept at that one while the firemen ran to kick in the front door. Took a fireman and another cop about seven good kicks together to get it open. The cop at the back door kicked his in about the same time.  The fireman already knew which room Noah was in and he ran and grabbed him. I kept hearing this banging noise, and when the fireman ran outside, Noah was beating him all up in the helmet. The fireman set him down and he ran and grabbed me around the leg. I asked him why he was hitting the fireman, and he said “I was scared, Tyler! I never saw anybody dressed like that before!”

Tyler’s a good big brother. He squatted down and told Noah, “If you see somebody dressed like that don’t ever be scared of him. If he’s dressed like that, he’s there to help you.”

“What did Noah say?” I asked. What else could I do? My new headache made viable thought impossible. Probably from breathing so hard. “He said, ‘Okay’,” Tyler replied. Hunter started talking in the background. I heard, “Mom says we can’t cook any more pizzas unless she’s home. Steven (*their soon to be step-dad, poor man. I feed him very well when he visits; he deserves that at the very least.) says that two dollar pizza just cost him six hundred in doors. Not including the entrance locks and deadbolts.”   

Okay. It could have been worse. Nothing burned but the pizza, the firemen used huge fans to remove the smoke, and Noah has a new hero. I’m grateful. But do you see why I’m phone shy?

This is a writing blog, even if I digress most weeks. So I’m including a question I had in a recent interview. What is the hardest thing you’ve found about writing? Didn’t even have to think about it.

Finding a good critique partner. If you’ve found a good match, you are blessed! It’s hard to find someone who writes in your genre, yet their style is different enough from yours to maintain the integrity of each other’s stories. I’ve tried several. And all too often it wasn’t a two-way street. You critique their work in detail, pages and pages, looking for plot holes, grammar, tense, timeline and POV problems; dropping things to be a sounding board when they get stuck. But all too often an inequity develops.That same dedication isn’t applied to your work. I know what I’m talking about there. One partner had to have 240 pages critiqued for a contest. I put my writing on hold to make sure she met the deadline. I later asked her to read five double-spaced pages to see if I’d achieved the imagery I wanted. Just read them. Her response let me know she hadn’t even bothered. She yammered a few words about Werewolves, my usual subject matter, and how I write them so well. How she loved this particular description.  The story was about angels. THAT partnership was dissolved, gracefully, but dissolved. A word of warning: Handle things carefully. You never want to hurt feelings or make enemies.

While it’s best not to use friends as crit partners, crit partners can become some of the fastest friends you’ll ever make. A good example of why a good critique partner is so important was posted by Sarah Ballance yesterday, a Guest Fox of Jeff Salter’s at http://fourfoxesonehound.wordpress.com. I laughed, I nodded, said a couple Amens and added her to my To Be Read list on the power of that post alone.

So here’s to critique partners! Especially those good ones! Good writing!

~Runere~

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

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