Category: Writing (page 3 of 9)

Laci and Del: Belabored Day

It’s the first Friday of the month. Time for another installment of short fiction. You can, at any time, find this work or any of the First Friday Fiction Features (#FFFF), by going to the My Work tab, clicking on Freebies, and selecting the story you wish to read.

Remember that 2014 is the year I’m trying serial work. This is part 9 of 12.

Laci and Del: Belabored Day

broken footLaci finished tossing the pasta salad together and looked out the patio door. Del was lounging on a deck chair, listening to classic rock and working on his tan. She sighed, but didn’t go to him.

Instead of spending Labor Day with family picnics, they’d decided to go away for the weekend and rented a place right on Lake Erie. She wasn’t sure what avoiding family was going to solve, other than delaying the inevitable. The subject of moving had come up at Del’s birthday, and he’d stormed off.

They hadn’t discussed it since.

The situation needed to be resolved. But what if she brought it up and he left again? She’d be stranded there. Not a bad place to be stranded, but still, it wasn’t something she wanted to experience.

She put the salad in the refrigerator and started mixing the fudge frosting for the chocolate chip brownies she’d baked. Double chocolate was good, so triple chocolate had to be better, right? Brownies never seemed complete to her unless they were frosted. She wasn’t sure how long she whipped the butter, but she stopped when she noticed the mixer getting hot. The butter was creamier than she’d ever seen and almost white. Setting the appliance aside, she dug around for a wooden spoon to finish mixing the frosting.

She needed to stop dwelling on the conversation-that-wasn’t and start paying attention to what she was doing. Before she did irreparable damage to their rental unit. Or herself.

Del came inside just as she completed icing the brownies. As usual, he swiped his finger through the finished product instead of through the remaining frosting in the bowl. “Mmm,” he said. “That’s good.”

Laci repaired the damage he’d done and swatted his hand away when he reached toward the pan again. “Oh no. One swipe per pan. If you want more, take it from the bowl.” She handed it to him and put the brownies under a cake dome.

“I won’t say no to the rest of the bowl. And where are the mixer beaters? I’ll lick them, too.”

She turned toward the sink so she didn’t have to meet his gaze. “I didn’t use the mixer for anything other than the butter. I don’t have beaters for you.”

“Why’d you do that?”

“You’re awfully demanding for a man who’s getting a treat.” She started washing dishes, pleased with her efforts at changing the subject. Even if she should just get it over with and talk to him about moving.

“This mixer’s hot.” He yanked the plug out of the wall. “Must be a problem with the outlet. Or the motor. Better not use this again while we’re here.”

“No problem. I’m done with everything. The rest is up to you.”

“Yeah, grilling steaks is so difficult.”

She smiled and took the bowl from him so she could finish cleaning up.

“So, we have all afternoon. What do you think? Swim? Rent a boat? Stay in?”

Laci glanced at him. He waggled his eyebrows and grinned.

“I don’t want to spend more money. Let’s just take our towels down to the beach and enjoy the view.”

He shrugged. “Your call.”

Laci walked into the bedroom to change into her swimsuit. She walked over to her luggage, a large hard suitcase her grandmother had given her. She claimed she’d never use the set again and didn’t want it to go to waste. Laci ran her finger over the initials by the handle. BCM—Brigid Cathleen Milligan. She smiled and grabbed the handle. When she lifted it, the handle pulled off and the luggage fell on her foot. “Ow!” The impact took her breath away.

Del came rushing in. “What happened? Are you okay?” He frowned when he saw the broken luggage. “You wouldn’t share my bag or use one of the new bags you bought me. And now look. You’re probably going to have a big bruise on your foot from your crappy luggage falling on you.”

“It’s not crappy. It’s antique. And it has sentimental value.” Her foot was killing her. The last thing she wanted to do was argue. Yes, she loved the luggage set because it had been her grandmother’s. But she had refused to use Del’s luggage, not because of sentiment, but because of the argument they’d had when she gave it to him. It was petty, sure, and now she was paying for it. She tried to walk away, but she couldn’t put any weight on her foot. She yelped and collapsed on the edge of the bed.

He sighed. “Let me see.” He stooped beside her and lifted her foot.

Del had hardly touched her foot when she winced and pulled it back. She had painted her toenails a lovely violet color, and her foot was starting to match the polish. The swelling was already making her flipflop too tight.

“It’s already bruising and swelling. This might be more than a minor injury. You may have broken it. Looks like we’re headed to the hospital.”

She blinked back tears when she put her foot down. “No. Don’t be silly. The ERs are always so crowded on holidays, and I’ll be walking off the pain in another minute.”

He stood and crossed his arms. “Really? Let’s see.”

“I said in a minute. Or two.”

“I could give you days and you won’t be walking on that. Let’s go.” He offered her his hand.

“Del, I really don’t think—”

He cut her off by picking her up. She squirmed and kicked her good foot, but to no avail.

“Better keep your legs down. You don’t want to smack the sore foot off a door or wall.” He carried her through the beach house, out the door, and down to the car.

She fumed and stared out the window.

They were at a hospital in about fifteen minutes, and Del dropped her off at the ER doors before going to park. She hadn’t made much progress getting inside when he caught up to her and half supported/half carried her to the registration desk. The nurse gave her a clipboard of forms to fill out, and Del took them to the last two seats together in the lobby.

“I told you it would be crowded.”

“And I told you that your foot needed to be checked.”

She sighed and filled out the forms. Del took them up to the desk for her. When he came back, he said, “She said it’s going to be a while. There are more serious cases ahead of you.”

“This isn’t the way I planned on spending our vacation.”

“If you’d just used my bag, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Pain, frustration, irritation… all warred in her until her frayed temper snapped. “Why on earth would you think I’d use your luggage? I bought you that set thinking it would be a nice gift, and you basically threw it back in my face.”

“I did not.”

“You did. You left without spending your birthday with me, and you didn’t take the luggage with you. It sat at my house for a week before I finally brought it to you.”

“I wasn’t rejecting the gift. I was angry at the message behind it.”

“What message? That I love you and wanted you to have it?” That was a lie. The message was that she wanted him to travel but not move away. She just hadn’t told him that yet.

“No. That you made up my mind for me and were sending me away. Without you. It’s basically breakup luggage.”

She jumped up and searing pain shot through her foot and up her leg. Gasping, she sat back down.

“Where did you think you were going to go?”

“I don’t know, but I’m not having this conversation with you. Not now. Not here in a hospital ER where everyone can listen to our business.” She glanced around. People in the waiting room, staff behind the window… they were all staring at her and Del.

“But it won’t be our business much longer, will it? Pretty soon, it’s just going to be me, alone again. No you. No couple.”

A nurse came over with a wheelchair. “Miss Marks? We’re ready for you now.”

“That was fast,” Del said. He helped Laci into the chair.

The nurse glanced around, then whispered so only the two of them could hear her. “Sometimes when there’s a disturbance out here, it’s just easier to change the order and take a patient early.” She started pushing Laci through the waiting area.

Del followed, and the nurse turned around to speak to him. “We’ve got it from here. Please have a seat. We’ll keep you updated.”


“Just listen to her, Del. I’m sure I won’t be too long.” He frowned, but sat back down. She knew she’d be hearing more about that later. But that argument beat the other one they were having.

When the nurse got Laci situated behind a curtain, she started asking a lot of questions. And not about her foot. Laci would have laughed, the whole thing was so ludicrous, but she was in too much pain. Instead, she assured the nurse that she wasn’t in an abusive relationship and Del was actually a wonderful man. And no, he didn’t hurt her. Her own stubbornness and clumsiness was to blame.

Once the nurse was satisfied that Laci was in no danger from Del, she asked the necessary medical questions and a doctor came to see her. A long trip to the x-ray department and back, and the doctor was telling her she was lucky. She had broken her foot, but only one bone, and it was a clean break. Given the way the accident happened, she could have had many rough breaks, with chips and fragments, that would have required surgery.

Yay. Lucky her.

After her foot was set and she had crutches, she was led back out to the lobby.

Del was pacing up and down the hall. He rushed to her when she came out. “They said they’d keep me posted, but they didn’t tell me a thing.”

She continued hobbling down the hall toward the door. “Well, obviously it’s broken. But it’s not bad. He said it was a clean break, so I don’t need surgery.”

They walked outside, and he stopped her at the curb. She looked up at him, and he placed both hands on her face and gave her a tender kiss. “I was worried.”

“I’ll be okay.”

He rested his forehead on hers, and she just breathed him in. This was her Del, this was her heart, her home. She couldn’t bear to lose him.

He pushed away. “Stay here. I’ll get the car.”

“I need to learn to use these. I’ll come with you.”

“I said stay!” Rather than starting yet another argument, she waited while he loped across the parking lot. He was back in no time and got out to help her.

Once they were on their way back to the beach house, she said, “You really don’t need to treat me so delicately. I’m okay.”

He sighed. “Are you okay enough to continue our discussion about the move?”

Her stomach clenched. “No. I’m not that okay yet.”

The tick in his jaw said more than any of his words would or could. “We’ll table it for now. But we’re talking soon. We can’t let this stuff fester between us. It’s already gone unsaid for too long.”

She looked out the window at the surf. Her foot ached, but not as much as her heart. She leaned her head on the window. She didn’t want things left unresolved, but she was frightened of the resolution. What if instead of staying, he chose his career over her?

Labor Day & 10 Steps of Novel Writing and Marketing (Infographic)

Well, it’s Labor Day here in the US. It’s the day we set aside to honor our workforce. According to the Department of Labor, “it constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

I know we’re all looking forward to the three day weekend, but I can’t help but think of people like my grandfather, my dad, and my husband.

grampMy grandfather started working at the age of fourteen because his father died and someone had to support my great-grandmother and her children. The oldest of seven, my grandfather quit school and got a job at the foundry to care for his family. When he married my grandmother, he continued financial support until his other siblings were able to pitch in.

dadMy father was the third of seven. His older two brothers went to college, but there wasn’t money to send him when it was his turn. Instead, he joined the US Navy and sent money home to help his parents and siblings. When he returned home, he got a job as a driver for UPS. He worked tirelessly until he earned a managerial position, and then I think he worked even harder. I remember late nights, early mornings, and very long days. But he never complained; he just kept on working for his family.

husbandMy husband got his BS in Industrial Management and Economics the year before I graduated. He worked as a stock broker and then an equities trader, and I expected we’d be a two-income family for the remainder of our marriage. But instead, he left the industry in favor of a management job in manufacturing. Since then, we’ve moved a lot (leaving family is SO HARD), but we’re now a single-income household. He takes care of me and the kids and has become a Lean Manufacturing expert. His companies send him to other plants to teach and implement efficient manufacturing systems. Through all that, he managed to get his master’s degree, too. He works crazy long hours, travels far from home sometimes, and when he is home his phone never stops. I can’t imagine a better provider.

So people can think of labor unions and blue collar workers all they want on Labor Day. Or of parades and picnics. I think of these three men and the contributions they made to the country and to my life.

As for me, I’m a writer, so I thought what better way to mark Labor Day than with an infographic about novel writing. (Yes, I did the work and created it myself.) Here are ten steps (ten very general steps) detailing how to write and market a novel.

PLEASE NOTE: This infographic only deals with marketing your novel. But remember that your online presence should be no more than 10% selling/marketing. That means that you need to consider how much online marketing you’re doing throughout the process and interact with your audience in HELPFUL and ENGAGING ways the other 90% (or more) of the time. (click to tweet this idea)

10 step infographicI hope all US citizens have a great Labor Day. To everyone else, Happy Monday!

What do you think of this infographic? Did I forget anything important? Did you ever create an infographic for something? Let’s talk about it.

And, before I forget, I’ll be releasing my new brand soon. I expect to reveal it this week, so keep an eye out for that. And of course, Friday is the first Friday of the month, so I’ll be releasing the next #FFFF Laci and Del installment. Wow! What a busy week! Hope you have a good one, and I’ll be seeing you soon.

The 238th Great Anniversary Festival

2nd US President

Official Presidential Portrait of John Adams (by John Trumbull, circa 1792)  via wiki commons

Here in the United States of America, many of us are coming back to work after a three day weekend. We just celebrated our country’s 238th birthday. The day before the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Second Continental Congress, John Adams wrote his wife a letter in which he said about that day, “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

It is of little matter today that Adams was referring to July 2, the day the declaration was signed, and we celebrate on July 4, the day the declaration was made public to the masses. What is important is that 238 years later, we do celebrate as he envisioned: with parades and picnics, games and fireworks. Continue reading

Are You Superstitious? Cross Your Fingers And Read On

June moon

Full Moon over Washington Monument || Bill Ingalls/NASA

If you’re a superstitious person, this must have been quite an exciting ten days for you. Last Friday was not only the thirteenth, but was also a full moon. (The last time we experienced a Friday the 13th full moon was October 2000 and we won’t see it again until August 20491. We won’t see another June Friday 13 full moon again until 2098; the last one was in 1919.2) This Saturday (if you live in the northern hemisphere) was the Summer Solstice (winter if you live in the southern hemisphere). These two events occurring so closely together hold a great deal of significance for some people. But what does it really mean? Continue reading

Birthdays and the Passage of Time

frosted hairSo today is my daughter’s birthday. I can hardly believe that a mere fifteen years ago I held her tiny newborn form in my arms. She had a full head of frosted hair—dark brown waves with blonde tips. She was awake and alert, more alert than I was, and was doing more advanced things than the nurses thought possible.

She never stopped amazing me, then or now.

Sure, she was particularly clingy when she was a baby, preferring to be in my arms rather than anywhere else (not that I minded—usually). And now she’s fiercely independent and I don’t see her often enough.

I suppose all parents find themselves in this very position. When their children are babies, they feel complete exhaustion—and complete joy—and see years of their future stretched out in front of them. Then, before they know what’s happened, those years are gone.

Where did they go? When did crawling and toddling turn into gymnastics and dance? Loose teeth and pigtails become makeup and curls? Learning to read become learning to drive?

I blinked, and she was grown. Continue reading

Laci and Del: Hide and Go Hear

It’s the first Friday of the month. Time for another installment of short fiction. You can, at any time, find this work or any of the First Friday Fiction Features (#FFFF), by going to the My Work tab, clicking on Freebies, and selecting the story you wish to read.

Remember that 2014 is the year I’m trying serial work. This is part 6 of 12.

Laci and Del: Hide and Go Hear

purple calla lilliesLaci had been distant with Del since she’d spent Mother’s Day with his family. Well, she could hardly call it spending the holiday with them. She’d stormed out, taking Del’s car and leaving him to find his own way home, well before dinner was even served.

She never told him why.

He assumed it was the usual girlfriend-and-mother-don’t-get-along stuff. Cliché, but not too far from the mark. She and Nora hadn’t been the best of friends the first time she and Del had dated. But that wasn’t why she’d cut and run.

What set her off was learning Del had told his family that when their relationship had imploded the first time, it was her fault. More to the point, that she had left him without reason or way to contact her. Continue reading

Wisdom in the Darndest Places


Photo via wiki commons || Chris Moncus ||

My nephew graduated this week. We were, unfortunately, too far away and had too many local obligations to make the ten hour trip to see him receive his diploma and celebrate with him. We miss a lot of family milestones living so far away. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t take the opportunity to send him our love (and a little something else) and talk to him that day to congratulate him.

We kept the conversation lighthearted, but we tried to impart some wisdom to him in the card.

This is the start of summer, but it’s the end of his high school career. It’s the end of an era, but the beginning of a new life for him. Continue reading

Remembering Spring Fever

timeGrowing up, this was the most difficult time of year. You might think that because I grew up in the north, any time after Christmas break was over and before the spring thaw hit had to be the most difficult time of year. Sure, snowy winters were cold and inconvenient, but they were also fun. For every sidewalk shoveled, there was a mug of hot chocolate. And there were also sled rides and snowball fights and just general fun building snowmen and snow forts. Continue reading

Laci and Del: Mother Doesn’t Always Know Best

It’s the first Friday of the month. Time for another installment of short fiction. You can, at any time, find this work or any of the First Friday Fiction Features (#FFFF), by going to the My Work tab, clicking on Freebies, and selecting the story you wish to read.

Remember that 2014 is the year I’m trying serial work. This is part 5 of 12.

Laci and Del: Mother Doesn’t Always Know Best

potted tulips“I don’t know, Del.” Laci clutched the pot of tulips against her chest as they walked toward the door of his parents sprawling log ranch. “I mean, she’s your mother. And she never really liked me. Maybe the first time we do a family event together as a couple shouldn’t be Mother’s Day.”

When they reached the porch, he kissed the top of her head. “She never had a problem with you,” he whispered. “I need to see my mom today, and I want to spend time with you. I can’t do both unless you’re here with me.”

“I saw my mother this morning without you.”

“That was your decision, not mine.” He opened the door, took her hand, and dragged her inside. “Mom? We’re here!” He dropped his keys on the table and pulled her forward. Continue reading

Birthdays and Big Bashes

GrazieFirst, let me thank you for your patience while I switch over to a self-hosted WordPress site. There have been some interesting glitches in the transition, and I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of the oddities. I appreciate you bearing with me while the kinks get ironed out.

Today I want to discuss birthdays.

April is a busy month for my family. We celebrate a lot of birthdays in April. And I mean A LOT of birthdays. There’s my mom, my husband’s Great Aunt Lena, me, my husband, my husband’s cousin Brian, my Great Aunt Nellie, my Grandma Mary, and my nephew Zak. And that isn’t including our friends with April birthdays. That’s just family. Continue reading

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