Thursday, August 30, 2012

Republican National Convention

DISCLAIMER: I am a registered Republican and have voted in every presidential election since Ross Perot split the vote in 1992. My mother chastised me when I told her I was voting for an obscure Libertarian from New Mexico as a protest against the mainstream candidates. So as a peace offering, I decided to watch the Republican National Convention. Well, Ann Romney was a sweetie and I can see how mothers and wives would just love her. New Jersey Gov Chris Christie totally disappointed me. I've seen him give some awesome, fiery speeches. This was not it. John McCain's speech sounded a lot like the Bush Administration but elections are not won on foreign policy. And Condi Rice probably gave the RNC more credibility in her 10 minutes than any other speaker. Ryan's speech was exciting and I like his iPod choices but even I knew some of it was a stretch. Romney sounded like the same ole guy he's always sounded like. Look, the bottom line for me is that the RNC seems to think that newbies have a place and should be put in it. They don't recognize the validity of the American people exercising their right to elect someone who is not mainstream. The catastrophe of the Republicans here in Colorado demonstrate the bigger picture. Because the GOP did not like the Tea Party backed Republican who won the state primary for the governorship, they backed their own guy. Split the vote and elected the Democrat. Any idiot who attended even a day of 8th grade civics could have called this one. So, sorry Mom. I'm still liking my Libertarian because at least his party understands that when the American people vote, they do it for a reason. In this race, however, it is the first time any optimism I may have had about the political process in the US is in the gutter. Neither side tells the truth and the only thing they both agree on is how to get re-elected. In its current state, nothing our elected "leaders" do will change the nearly 9% unemployment or the $4T deficit or the exploded federal government. Until they learn they work for the American people, I'm voting my conscious regardless of who's elected. The whole process is disgusting. By the way, yes, I'm watching the DNC next week. Just to compare and I'm sure I'll be blasting them by Thursday. Happy Politics!

Monday, August 27, 2012

School Starting

School started today and I'm already missing Little Miss during the day. Now that she's off, I'm coming up with stuff to do. Finishing my novel is at the top of my list. The Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer's Conference is coming up in Denver next month and I need to get working on my critiques for the editor's group. If I don't get on a schedule too, I'm gonna go nuts!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Medal of Honor Stands Up

Medal of Honor Recipient Dakota Meyer is releasing a new book at the end of September. “Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War.”
It details his time during the Battle of Ganjgal in Kunar Province in Afghanistan. And he lets loose. Blasting Army officers who repeatedly denied pleas for artillery.
I can believe this happened.
With my own military experience, I'm appalled that the best military in the world is full of spineless, sycophants who seemingly only care about their next rank. And for what? More money? A better assignment?
What those "leaders" fail to understand is in reality we in the field worship those who actually take a stand and make a decision.
Unfortunately, we are inundated with bullies and those unwilling to do the right thing.
Mr Meyer, thank you for taking a stand and doing the right thing. I'm sorry you felt you had no choice but to pull that trigger and I thank God there were no bullets.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Line in the Sand - Chapter Two

The sound of her fist beating over and over echoed off the concrete walls. One fist, turn and then the back of another. Kick to the ribs, spin and kick to the kidneys.

Six months had passed since the fight with Charlie but even now, she envisioned his face on the bag. As it swung back at her, she slammed an uppercut to jaw and then a right, another right, another right and finally a left.
Serves. Him. Right.

Exhausted she grabbed the thick, heavy canvas bag hanging from the ceiling and held on. Her lungs racked against her chest, so she swung her head down and panted. Sweat poured down the front of her tank top. Tears burned her eyes and her nose dripped. Her muscles screamed. Guess that means it was a good session, she thought.

She wasn’t sure she could make it over to the water fountain just yet so she just kept her head down and gulped air as fast as she could. Buzzing overhead from a very small and very ineffective ceiling fan hummed in her ears.

Slowly, very slowly, she began to see straight again and her lungs stopped threatening to take out a rib.

When her leg started to shake, she kicked it out directly behind her.

“Oomph,” came a deep sound.

Swinging around to the sound of the voice, she was mortified to find a sandy-haired man in gyms shorts and a t-shirt bent over clutching his stomach.

“Oh my god! Are you OK?”

The stranger’s hand came up with its index finger pointing up and he nodded his head.

“Are you sure? Let me get you some water,” she said in a panic.

“No, no, I’m fine. It’s a good way to start a workout,” he said and stood up just enough to put his hands on his knees.

She scowled when his eyes scanned her from head to toe.

“It’s also not every day I get kicked in the stomach by a pretty girl at the gym.” He grinned. “I’m Ed. Nice to meet you.”

She raised her eyebrows and pursed her lips.

“Jackie,” she said and glanced at her bag. Roughly two steps away. An easy enough distance to grab her knife if she needed it. “Do you always try to pick up chicks from behind?”

“Only when I’m at the gym.” He laughed and offered his hand.

Finally relenting, she smiled and put her hand in his and instantly regretted it. Her heart slammed into her chest as his fingers closed around hers in a slimy handshake. He was pretty big. She knew the heat creeping through her gut was a fight response but deep in there was a warmer feeling -- one melting her need to kick his ass. She hadn’t felt this tug in a long time, the pleasure of knowing she was attractive to a man.

Ridiculous, she thought. Letting go of his hand, she grabbed a bottle of water from the bench and tossed it to him. As she watched him drink, she wiped a towel across her face, neck and pushed her hair from her forehead and took him in. His stocky build said baseball but his polished look and demeanor said money. His chest reflected obvious hours lifting weights.

“So what’s your routine?” She yielded and then rushed to clarify. “In the gym.”

He finally stood up and he was tall, at least six and a half feet.

“Nothing much.” He took ginger steps over to the water fountain. Putting his bottle under the stream, he looked at her. “Flipping tires, running with sand bags, pull-ups. You know, the usual.”

“Crossfit?” She shoved her towel in her bag and grabbed another bottle of water.

“Yep. You?” He walked back over to her.

“I do a little Crossfit but mostly it’s Kempo.” She picked up her dry tennis shoes and sat on the far end of the bench to switch them out, and to put a little distance between them. He didn’t seem to notice.

“Street karate. Very cool. Are you here often?”

“Only when I want to get away from people,” she said.

He put his hands up, palm out. “Gotcha,” he said. “So, I won’t be picking you up here at the gym.”

“I appreciate that.” She smiled at him.

“How about I pick you up at home instead? For dinner maybe? Tomorrow night?”

“Oh,” she hesitated and her heart beat harder and her head felt a little light. This conversation was probably the longest she’d had in months with someone who wasn’t family. Most of her time was spent at home on the lake, away from anyone who could provide her address to Charlie. Ed seemed nice enough and was certainly easy on the eyes but she was not ready to take that risk. Besides, she’d never filed the divorce papers.

The slamming of the gym door had them both looking up, and she thought she saw a small flicker of annoyance on his face. A tall, lithe blond wearing baggy, paint-splattered overalls glided across the gym floor toward them.

“Stacey,” she said and secretly thanked the universe.

She stood up, put her workout shoes in the bag and zipped it shut.

“Hello gym people. Why you spend time here obviously trying to kill yourself, I’ll never understand,” she said and her ponytail swung behind her. “I see Alabama’s most eligible congressman has joined you today,” she said and Jackie watched her give Ed a quick hug.

“Creating master pieces of art boring you today Stace?” Jackie scooped up her bag and slung in over her shoulder.

“Touchy,” Stacey said. “Nope, just needed a break.”

A month after her father moved them to Sweet Gypsy Springs, Alabama, in the tenth grade, Jackie rear-ended Stacey’s brand-new, bright green Volkswagen Beetle. Since she had swerved to miss Ben Robertson’s cat, giving Stacey an excuse to visit the star quarterback, all was forgiven and they’d been best friends ever since. She’d even been in love with Stacey’s brother Brody for a summer.

Stacey was now a famous, modern art painter and Mrs. Ben Robertson. And Brody, a fledging writer, was off finding himself in Key West.

“I didn’t know she had found a workout partner and Ed, you certainly make a good one,” said Stacey.

“We’re not partners,” she said.

“Yet,” Ed said and flashed a sly grin at Jackie. “Not to worry, though, I’m working on it.”

“You’re a devil. Always have been,” she said. “Why don’t you work on it at my house Saturday night? I already have Ed’s RSVP from his assistant. But Jackie, I haven’t heard from you, and your sisters are driving me crazy.”

“They drive everyone crazy,” she said and hoped this little exchange would end soon.

“And since I’m hosting a fundraiser for your daddy this weekend,” she began, ignoring Jackie’s retort. “Your attendance will keep them off my back and just as importantly, yours too.”

Her family had given her a lot of space since she moved back to town in December. Now that her father’s race for senate was heating up, though, there were ever-increasing and not-so-subtle hints for her to become more involved. Apparently, it did not bode well for a senatorial candidate to have a recluse for a daughter. But large crowds strangled her and so far she had been able to avoid all campaign events.

“Honey, it’s a small group. Only about 50 people.” she said with compassion that was palpable. “ And I’ll be there with you and you can rip off the proverbial gossip band-aid,” she said in a whisper.

If she didn’t go, she knew her sisters would unleash. The town had little else to gossip and speculate about since her arrival after Christmas and prancing through this party could at least begin to put some of that to rest. Besides, she was getting a little tired of being alone and Stacey and Ben lived on the next door. If she wanted to leave early, it would be as simple as walking the worn connecting path through the woods.

She nodded at Stacey, then dug out her sunglasses and put them on.

“Seems that it worked out for us to get together after all,” said Ed. “Should I bring the punching bag?”

“Only if you need me to flatten you again,” she said and walked out of the gym.

“I’m pretty sure you’ve already done that.” She heard him whisper but kept walking.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Summer Writing Deadlines - Unrealistic!

I had a deadline of 1 July to finish my novel. I didn't make it.

For writers, I am a firm believer in self-imposed deadlines or we will make up every excuse in the world not to sit our butts in the chair and write. For me, it is certain conferences and contests throughout the year. My Writing Year runs April to April, coinciding with the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, cause it's my fav.

But this year, I did not make my first deadline and I attribute that to the exorbitant amount of time I've been able to spend with my daughter. It's the first summer I have ever taken off work. The whole summer!

So, I took our 11-year-old and hit the road.

First on a cross-country trip visiting Graceland, then boating with my brother on some lake outside of Dallas, painting the stars at the children's museum in Amarillo, and three full days of fun in Santa Fe. That took up the first week of June. Camps of all variety took up the rest of June.

July was spent in California. We got our free beach towels at the Padres game and watched Charlie Sheen throw out the first pitch. Thanks Wild Thing!
The zoo nearly took my legs and fed them to the alligators, but pics with the pandas were just too cute to pass up. Temple time with an old friend was a wonderful respite and an eye-opener in Buddhism for him. Couple that with down time in LA with my mother-in-law and I was well-rested for the second half of summer.

Mid-summer found us in Orlando and our view of the ocean kept us on the beach during the day and on our balcony during the evening with the Olympics playing in the background. SeaWorld had us pretty busy on the weekend.

Now in August, we are finally back from Florida and are learning how to bake vegan. She is less enthused than I but that's only until she tastes the finished product. After which, she drags all her neighborhood friends over for an afternoon snack of the yummy treats she just made.

All of that being said, I did finally finish the novel in mid-July and am in the rewrite phase, a phase I consider akin to a daily workout. Can't get motivated to go but love it when I get there. And with school just days away, I have no doubt the manuscript will be finished in time for the Rocky Mountain Writer's Conference in September.

I'm only a few weeks behind but when my excuse gives me a relationship worth millions and a zillion story ideas, who can complain?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chapter One - Line in the Sand

Jackie didn’t enjoy the thought of prison. Then again, not all prisons are defined by the penal code.

She watched her fingers slide over the silver of the blade. It glinted in the moonlight, spotlighting her as if she were being hunted.

Maybe prison wouldn’t be too bad. She could start a sewing class like Martha Stewart, except she couldn’t sew.

Looking down at the knife again, she lifted it and flipped it in the air. Spinning in a full circle, she caught it with the opposite hand, then jabbed it straight out, piercing the wind’s heart.

Maybe she wouldn’t need the knife. An ugly laugh burst out at the thought. No, she would need it. She looked up past their bedroom window at the moon and acknowledged the red halo. Its bad omen fit her mood.

Charlie was up there in bed. Probably reading some crap about war and Middle Eastern terrorists. The office bookshelves overflowed with the garbage. And since his last stint in Iraq, he couldn’t seem to get enough of it.

There was a time when she was so in love with him. But she couldn’t remember it.

She pricked her forefinger with the knife as she turned it in slow circles. Leaning against the wood rail of the deck, she pushed her sweaty red hair away from her face.

It was hot, Texas hot, even for Christmas. No snow here. No seasons much either. Not that it mattered. There was only one season inside their home, and it was dead winter.

She turned toward the door. Eyes with dark circles stared back at her through the window. She looked old. Tired. Ironically, the circles would probably disappear after a week in prison, she thought.

She patted her back pocket to make sure her car keys were still there and then yanked open door. She had no intention of going to prison. He was going to say yes. Her daughter depended on it. She depended on it and whether or not he agreed was irrelevant. Tonight, she would have her say.

Her feet slid across the carpet and up the stairs. God gave her a push when the butterflies nearly choked her to a standstill at the landing on the second floor. There was no backing out. That little girl needed her to do this. And she would. No more anger. No more impatience. No more bruises. It was over.


His goofy smiled winked at her from a picture on the wall. His fingers splayed wide, in sharp contrast to its recent fists. She remembered the silly dance he’d performed, his arms out side, when she took this photo.

She ducked into the hall bathroom and the vomit hit the sink. Pausing, she took the time to breathe. Slow, deliberate, deep breaths.

Prison was a small sacrifice. Let’s go, she told herself.

She grabbed the towel, swiped her mouth and walked down the hallway, passing photo after photo from their family albums.

One was of Charlie with his infantry squad in Iraq. The Night Ravens they called themselves. None of them smiled and all wore the battle-weary look after months of war. Ignoring them, she pushed open the bedroom door.

She hated that stupid big, black hardbound book resting in his hands. His calm hands flipped the page, and for a minute he appeared to be the sweet man she married. Not drop dead gorgeous by Hollywood standards but a handsome man nonetheless. She used to love to stroke that chiseled chin and kiss his sharp nose.

But she knew somewhere inside that man was another. An angry, aggressive man plagued with nightmares and unseen threats.
The Army officer she knew had already checked the doors and windows of the house three times before going to bed. She knew he would be up three more times before morning to check again.

The Smith & Wesson 45 was under the bed loaded with an 8-round clip. A Louisville Slugger leaned against the wall near his pillow.

Her puny knife was no match, she thought, faltering for a second.

He looked up and she smiled weakly at him. She folded the knife under her hand against her arm, hoping he couldn’t see it. He went back to his book.

“I’m filing for divorce.” Her voice carried through the room.

He laughed and didn’t even bother to look up. Jerk.

“Charlie, I’m filing for divorce.”

His grey eyes wisped over her face and settled on her. Her heart lurched.

No matter what, the girl she used to be still loved him. But, damn her.

The binder of his hardbound book creaked as he closed it. On the bedside table, the ancient clock ticked. She had never noticed it was so loud.

It rang louder and louder. He put the book on the heirloom table and looked at her again.

She froze. The time had come.

Charlie slung the covers back and walked over to her. She flinched but kept her feet still. He was so close she could feel him and she tilted her head back to see his face.

She fingered the knife in her hand.

“No,” he said. “You aren’t.”


The back of his hand pounded across her cheek.

Blood squirted. The smell filled her nose. She tasted acid on her tongue. Her stomach tightened and her chest hurt.
Damn, but his arm was fast. Fear burned down her spine. Through the haze, she chanted to herself. Maddie. Maddie. Maddie.

Pulse racing and goose bumps flaring, she swung the knife from behind her back and aimed at his heart. But she was too slow. His forearm blocked the stab and the knife fell to the floor. He grabbed a fist full of her hair and jerked her back. With his other fist, he pounded his knuckles into her face and her cheekbone cracked. She fell to the floor but managed to stay crouched on her feet. His hands squeezed into her long hair.

Dear God Jackie, don’t cower, the words screamed in her head. A year of martial arts classes and he doesn’t know about them. Let them work.

Intertwining her fingers, she pinned her hands on top of his, pressing them into her skull.
When he pulled back for another punch, she spun around, stood up and kicked him square in the groin. He let go of her and clutched between his legs.
His roar deafened her but she kept going.
With him bent over, she turned her fist up and jerked her arm with as much power as she could and connected with his jaw. He fell on the floor, writhing and spewing all manner of insults. For good measure, she kicked him again.

Jackie turned and flew through the hallway and down the stairs. The bags she packed were already in the car.

Hearing the thuds of feet upstairs, she increased speed and snatched open the door to the garage. Her finger punched the garage door opener on the wall and its creaking sound climbed insanely slow upward.

Fumbling with her keys, she opened the silver Mercedes, jumped into the driver’s seat and slammed the door. Watching the stupid garage door opening in her side windows, she started the car. Go you damn door, she shouted to herself.

When she finally was able to hit reverse, Charlie staggered out of the house toward the car. He pounded on the hood, screaming.


Barely missing the rising door, she screeched into their cul-de-sac with him stumbling after her. The steering wheel spun through her fingers. The car jerked in the right direction. Slamming into drive, she floored the gas and never looked back. Tears streamed down her cheeks.

Well, at least she wasn’t headed to prison.