Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Library Lady

I've had an idea chasing around in my head all month for a contest picture prompt on Wouldn't you know that it would wait for today to even allow me a start? LOL This would be no problem for most of you as the contest has a WC limit of 2000, but I am a notoriously SLOW writer. *blush* Sooo 1700 words = 7 or 8 hours and I am actually feeling damn good about it!

Writing it in a short amount of time and with my normal beta reader without internet at the moment. I would love any comments or thoughts! Please take a look if you have the time and inclination. It would be much appreciated! Sorry, I had a little issue with the link so below is the photo prompt and the story!

Laughter and the gleeful squeals of children filled the library community center. The spice of apple cider and warm cinnamon donuts mixed with the crisp bite of fall in the air. Tricia McPherson leaned on her gnarled staff, dancing emerald eyes scanning the sea of painted faces and scary masks. Her brow knitted in worry under the brim of the floppy witch's hat. It wasn't like Kasey to be late. There had been many a summer morning the precocious nine year old had been waiting on the library steps when she had arrived to open up.

Worry gnawed at the librarian's gut. The girl's home life was rough. Kasey's mother had deserted her when the child was barely toddling, dumping her off with her sickly grandmother. Fighting health issues complicated by depression, the old woman struggled to raise her granddaughter with only a paltry disability check to put a roof over their heads. The library was Kasey's refuge. Reading allowed her to escape.

Tricia understood not only the allure of the library, but the loneliness of childhood and had taken to the girl right away. They had become fast friends in the long hours lost among the towering shelves and storied tomes, Kasey often locking the doors with the staff in the evening. She reminded Tricia so much of herself at that same age. Tricia had been lucky to be adopted by the McPhersons, the town's physician and librarian, when she was just six years old. The elderly couple had never been blessed with children of their own and after dozens of foster children, Tricia was the one that stayed for good.

Her name drawing Tricia from childhood memories, she hurried over to help her harried assistant with the piñata. Palming the top of a little one's head, she laughed and gently extracted the bat from his chubby fingers.

"Hang on there, tough guy, there's no candy in Miss. Megan," she chided, winking at the grinning boy.

Dividing the kids into age groups for their whack at donated piñatas and supervising their scramble for treats kept Tricia and Megan busy for the next hour and still no Kasey. Glancing at her watch, Tricia absently plucked a clowns bulbous nose out of the punch bowl.

"Great party, little sister."

Tricia turned to smile at her handsome foster brother; his crisp Deputy's uniform no costume. She couldn't contain a giggle at the smear of chocolate frosting at the corner of his mouth courtesy of the festive cupcake in his hand.

"Thank you," she replied, wiping at the frosting with her thumb.

Shoving the rest of the treat in his mouth he grabbed a napkin, a light blush coloring his cheeks.

"If this year is anything to go by, this might become a town tradition," he said looking around at the packed room.

"I had phenomenal response from both businesses and individuals. With the number of trick-or-treaters it is much more economical for people to donate a bag or two of candy here and shut off their porch lights. A couple different groups helped out with the baked goods and games here. McDonalds donated coupons and treat bags that we have filled for each child when they leave. Dr. Bowen's office donated tooth brushes. I had enough cash donations that each kid will get an age appropriate book and the bags are practically bursting at the seams with candy," Tricia beamed.

"It is a lot safer for the kids here too. The treats can be inspected and less little ghosts and goblins running the streets."

"Speaking of, I need a favor," Tricia frowned. "Kasey Callen didn't show up. I helped her with her costume this week so I know she was planning on being here. Do you think you could stop by her grandmother's place and check on them?"

"She's the little carrot top book worm, right?" he teased.

"Don't forget we carrot tops come with a fiery temper."

"I haven't forgotten," he chuckled, ducking away from her playful jab. "I'll drop in and check on them for you."

"Thank you, Jeff. Let me get you a bag to take to her," Tricia said, a tinge of relief in her voice.

Pausing at the door, bag in hand, he looked back and waved at the festivities.

"Mom would be really proud."

Kicking at the fall leaves, Tricia stared up at the harvest moon. This was her favorite time of year. She smiled, crossing through the hedge that separated her yard from the library grounds. Her father had groused that their habit of cutting through the back yard instead of taking the sidewalk like civilized people had stunted his hedge. Her mother had never taken his grumbling to heart and in the end he had legitimized their entry point with a decorative archway.

Tricia had inherited the grand colonial after her parents passing seven years ago and very little had changed. Giving the old tire swing an affectionate push she couldn't help remembering the hours spent there. She remembered swinging for all she was worth as a little girl, her long legs stretched to the sky, and days of twisting the thick rope as tight as it would go until she let go and spun in crazy circles, her copper hair fanning out around her. She had laughed and cried on this swing. It was like an old friend.

A carved heart in the mammoth oak's bark shone in the moonlight. Her fingers traced the simple letters before rising to her lips for a kiss and a prayer sent heavens way for the brave boy who had died on foreign soil while learning to be a man. The modest twist of black hills gold he had gifted her the day he left still graced her pinky in remembrance of their teenage love.

Unlocking the back door, she let herself in through the dark kitchen. She didn't need lights to make her way through to the den. Her father had used the large room as an office and with its gleaming hardwood, heavy leather furniture, and floor to ceiling book shelves, it was one of Tricia's favorite rooms. Here, perhaps more than anywhere in the house, showed her personal tastes over that of her departed parents.

The weighty curtains were gone, the classic wood blinds tilted open to allow light into the room. The shelves in front of the back windows had been cleared of dusty medical journals and now housed a jungle of lush house plants. The large desk no longer housed an ancient adding machine and cigar ashes, but rather a trim laptop and a crystal bowl of Dove chocolates. A half dozen unread books littered the coffee table, a beaded bookmark indentifying her current project. Rich chenille pillows and a couple comfy lap throws added a woman's touch to the leather furniture. The room was her sanctuary.

Curling into the end of the couch, she grabbed a throw and her book. The doorbell startled her. Patting her chest with a rueful grin, she hurried for the front door, turning on lights. A glimpse of a deputy's uniform on the front porch eased the tension and she swung the door open with a welcoming smile. That smile died on her lips. Her brother wasn't alone. Her gaze skittered across the Child Protective Services representative to land on the huddled child behind her. Tricia's heart broke.

The large shamrock emblazoned with "LUCKY" gracing the child's encompassing sweatshirt seemed strangely out of place at the moment. Even in the shadow of the voluminous hood Kasey's freckles stood out starkly on her pale tear stained face. Tricia didn't know what to say. Having stood on these steps on both sides of this moment didn't make it any easier. Locking eyes with the young girl she just opened her arms.

A sob broke from Kasey's throat and she threw herself into her mentor's embrace. Tricia hugged her tight, stroking the back of the girl's head and rocking her gently. Feeling the tremble of cold and exhaustion threatening, Tricia urged the child inside, stumbling in a tangle of arms and legs back to the den. Settling Kasey on the couch, she wrapped a throw around, continuing to comfort her best she could.

Tricia only half listened to what the CPS lady had to say. She had been through this before with emergency or short term placements, but at the moment her thoughts were on Kasey. Her grandmother had suffered a fatal stroke and now she was alone in the world. Jeff came in with steaming mugs of hot chocolate from the kitchen. Accepting a mug thankfully, Tricia met his eyes, seeing the same pain and recollection there.

Kasey's hands shook so violently, she struggled to sip the warming liquid. Shaking her head, Tricia silently beseeched the case worker.

"It is getting late. Ms. McPherson, you have my number if you need anything. Get some sleep, Kasey, and we will get this all worked out tomorrow."

"Call me if you need me," Jeff said sincerely and showed the woman out leaving Tricia and Kasey alone.

Her eyelids were drooping by the time Kasey finished her hot chocolate. She didn't protest as Tricia eased the cup from her fingers.

"Thanks for letting me stay here," she mumbled uncomfortably.

Tricia's heart bled.

"You are always welcome here, Kasey, for as long as you like."

Hope and fear warred in the child's eyes.

"Come on. I will show you to your room."

Memory pressed in on Tricia as they climbed the stairs. She remembered following "The Library Lady" up the stairs, her battered suitcase in hand. Opening the door she stepped aside to allow Kasey to precede her. Leaning against the door jamb her heart leapt at the familiar room. Kasey trailed her fingers over the spines of the Trixie Belden and Black Stallion series that lined the bookcase. Dropping her duffle bag, she plopped down on the recessed day bed surrounded by windows, staring out into the back yard. Tricia knew she could see the tire swing and the archway to the library from there and hoped that Kasey found the room and view as magical as she had once. Life had come full circle.

~ WC ~ 1705

© Mara Mc Bain 10/2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Seriously? 869 words?

How can I possibly be nervous over a measly 869 words? I know, right? It is barely a couple paragraphs? I write longer emails to my friends! *sighs* Okay's the deal. Guilt ... guilt is the deal. A dear friend wanted me to do NaNo this year and I said no. *GASP* I know ... I know ... NO. You see, I did NaNo last year for the first time and LOVED it!! I made the word count and came away with confidence and excitement!!

So what's the problem you ask??? Then I didn't write for about 9 months. I swear I was incapable of anything more creative than a grocery list. Can I say for 100% certain that my dirge of creativity stems from NaNo burnout? No ... I admit there were other things going on in my life those nine months ... bill collectors, bankruptcy, foreclosure, moving ... BUT the NaNo is the only part of it I have any control over now. The rest is done and over and I am moving on with my life. Maybe without credit, but a hell of a lot smarter.

Ummm back to the guilt and the 869 words. You see because I felt guilty I decided to join an erotica writing course on that this same friend has been shamed into teaching. I want to support him. Easy enough to understand. So the class started this week and he hands out the first assignment. Turns out he teamed up with a WDC contest called The Weekly Quickie, which I have been regularly entering if you will see the right hand column. So it should have been no problem. 869 words, piece of cake. The first assignment ... write about a couples first time together. Easy peasy! Pick a couple you are going to enjoy because you are going to use this same couple in each of your assignments over the next 5 weeks creating a sort of short story out of your 5 869 word entries.

For some reason this was where my paranoia kicked in. I already struggle with the tight word count because I have an overwhelming NEED to create back story and plot along with my smut. Try fitting all that in 869 words. And now ... now I am going to be telling a longer story ... a seamless story so the reader needs to understand the characters ... feel with them ... along with squirm in their seat in heat.

There are 10 or 11 of us in the class. At last count 8 of them had turned their story in and I finally started mine yesterday. Ughhhh. I have until Saturday @ 11:59 PM. Someone tell me why this is so difficult all of the sudden??

*pulls my hair out* ... I just checked the word count here ... 464 ... more than half way to my wc in a BLOG. What is wrong with me?

~ MM

Friday, October 22, 2010

Patience pays off

Sometimes a bit of patience is actually noted and rewarded. No, nothing new to report in my writing world today, but the landlord did acknowledge our week and a half without hot water with a hundred dollar check and a MARS snackfood gift package with over twenty various candy bars. The money will come in real handy with the bill load we have over the next two weeks, including rent, and welllll …. how can a box full of chocolate not make a girl happy?

~ MM 

Monday, October 18, 2010

To start with a bang????

I've always loved to start my dark tales with a bang, but recently I read that violence to start a story can instead turn a reader off because they have not yet developed feelings for your character, making it difficult for them to care. You know that makes a strange amount of sense to me. So taking it a step further ... what if it is your main character perpetrating the violence? More problematic yet ... what if your protagonist is a bit of an anti-hero? An everyday man who does what is necessary for what he believes in ... right or wrong?

This is making me rethink the opening of my WIP. I would love to hear your thoughts.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Christmas in October!

Found a deal on a new HP Laptop with an awesome 17.3 inch screen that I just couldn't pass up. The plan was to replace my laptop at Christmas and hand mine down to my son, but like I said ... too good to pass up. The good news is I am ALMOST done with shopping for the holiday season, just the hubby to buy for and the family pictures that will hopefully be this weekend. Lets hope the new LT gives me lots of inspiration and I will just have to remember to cuddle it Christmas morning when everyone else is opening presents! LOL

~ MM

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We are all adults here ...

I just wanted to touch on this BLOG's "CONTENT WARNING." Besides writing main stream fiction, I also write erotica. It is a genre that I really enjoy exploring from the romantic to the dark and depraved. So to be safe, and not offend any more than necessary, I slapped the warning label on.

In the right hand column, under the heading "The Weekly Quickie," are flash fiction pieces I have been writing for a contest of the same name on The contest provides a word or picture prompt and the challenge is to arouse the judge in 869 words or less. It is a fun contest and a great way to explore both existing characters, like my Clay & Ginny who are the mains in a novel WIP, and new characters and ideas.

I hope if you take a peek you let me know what you think!

Have a great day!

~ MM

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stepping out of the shadows ... and saying hello

I was in sixth grade when I discovered my love of writing. An "A" on my first two writing assignments told me I had found something I was good at. A loner by nature, I was instantly enamored with the idea that I could create my own worlds or alter existing ones. Like reading, it became my escape, perhaps even more so, because here I had a say in the outcome of the story. It was a tiny bit of control in a world where I often felt I had none.

I withdrew further, often curling in the hay loft or tree house for hours on end with pad and pen. My four brothers learned to fear my Daisy BB gun. It was an amazing deterrent when I heard their feet touch the ladder rungs. *wink* Over the next six or seven years I filled countless notebooks, tore through packages of loose leaf, and scribbled my ideas on every available scrap. Sadly this all came to a halt when I graduated highschool, got a job, and a few years later, got married. For seven years I didn't write a thing. I thought it was all part of growing up, of becoming an adult.

In 1997 my son, Max, was born. With him came the whispering of muses in my head again. Now I am sure I am not the first new mother to hear voices, but at least I knew how to channel mine. LOL I bought an old Apple Mac from a friend and started to write again. It was sporatic, but it felt good.

In January of 2007 my Terror Twin, Soul Sister, and writing partner, Adriana Noir, introduced me to It has become a wonderful place to not only post new tales and polish them, but to meet new people. It can be a great place to network and learn from other writers. It was there, just last Friday, that I logged on and saw that a dear friend, Nicole Ducleroir, had been PUBLISHED! I was over the moon!

Nicki is not only an amazing writer, but a total sweetheart. She gave me all the details on the anthology where her story, Homage, is going to be published and suggested that I submit one of my own stories since submisions were still open. Can you say scared shitless! LOL I had just one e-zine publication to my credit since my Highschool newspaper days! With some prodding and a whooolllee lot of hand holding, she talked me through it.

I found out Saturday night that one of my short stories, Muse, has been accepted to the anthology, Something From the Attic, and two others, In a Moment's Breath and Old Glory, have been accepted to the anthology Literary Foray where they will accompany Nicki's tale!!

I haven't quit smiling yet.

This BLOG was Nicki's idea, and since she is batting 1000 at the moment I thought I would give it a whirl. LOL I'm not sure what or how often I will post here, but I look forward to meeting new people and sharing ideas, stories, tears, and triumphs. It is time I step out of the shadows.