Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Clever Gift Becomes Oddly Relevant

So my parents were being a bit cheeky this Christmas and got me this...

Ha ha, a good laugh was shared by all.  I dramatically read the back of the box then opened it and read the inside...

A code?  Like "Angel's Code?"  

It gets weirder...

A small envelope was contained inside the box.  An invitation... hmm.  I secreted into my room and opened it.  A small folded piece of paper inside read:

"You have fallen under the spell of Angel's fleeting star."


Then another sheet of paper read:

"By adopting Angel... you enter the boldest of all universes, where your dreams and fantasies come true."

With the code, I was invited to enter a "Circle."  How exclusive!  An inner circle of trust.  

Anyhoo, I'm pretty freaked out by this.  I always find it amazing how unrelated things often connect.

I hope you all had an equally surprising and wonderful Christmas.

P.S. The perfume ain't too shabby either.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Just a reminder

I'd like to remind you that tomorrow between 9am and 9pm EST Goddess Fish Promotions is hosting a virtual party with gifts and more.
I have upped the ante and am having an additional gift card giveaway.  Not only am I giving away a $25 Amazon gift card, but I have an additional three $15 gift cards to Barnes and Noble.

Please visit Goddess Fish's blog and sign up for my giveaway and for the other giveaways from the authors of Books to Go Now.

I wish you luck!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Sunday Goddess Fish Party

Hello, my loyal peeps.
I have some exciting news.  Goddess Fish Promotions is hosting a party and you are invited.  Among the honored guests will be myself and other authors from Books to Go Now.  This is a great opportunity to find your next favorite author.  That is if you have any more room in your heart and hard drives.

Some authors will be giving away fabulous prizes.  I will be giving away a $25 gift card to Amazon. All you have to do is show up.  Please join us on Sunday December 10th.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Stuffed with Thanks

Hello, and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Today starts the end of my blogstop tour of the character descriptions for Angel's Code.  For the next three days you can read about Angel on Lorrie Struiff's blog.  Click Here to read it.

If you have missed any of the other characters you can read about Danny Here and Oliver Here
Of course you can always read about the inspiration of my first book on a previous post below.

Thank you for all the people who have hosted me this month, and thanks to all who have joined in and checked it all out.

Monday, November 18, 2013

All Over the Character Oliver

Today will be part three of my guest blog series/character studies.

Please visit Amber Daulton's blog here, to read about the enigmatic character Oliver.

Need to catch up?

Check out my previous blog about the inspiration for the Angel's Code story and also find out more about Danny here.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Reluctant Veteran

I have to admit something horrible.
I hate Veteran's Day.  But not for the reasons you may think.
I am a reluctant Veteran.  I cringe when people thank me for my service, because frankly, I don't think I deserve their gratitude.
I didn't do anything spectacular in the Navy.  I was never in a conflict, my life wasn't in any danger, the only things I sacrificed was my innocence, a few thousand brain cells, and maybe caused some liver damage.  I did nothing more than a flirty co-ed on spring break.  I spent half of my Naval career in southern Spain for crying out loud.  On the beach.  Or in a bar.
I don't regret serving in the military.  I learned discipline, honor, and loyalty.  I made great friends, had extraordinary experiences, and got to see a lot of places not many people would have the opportunity to do.
But I really don't deserve to be honored.  I have friends who deserve it more.  I have family who have served and are still serving.  People who have actually deployed to war zones, come back and sign up to go again.  I sat in a tiny room by myself, then when my four years were up, I skiddaddled out of there, never even tempted to reenlist.
I don't take advantage of my veteran's benefits.  There are those who need it more than I do.  I am healthy, I can pay for my own medical needs.  I did not loose a limb nor do I suffer from PTSD.  Those that do need care more than I.  And they need better care, not to fall through the cracks of governmental loop holes and rhetoric.

So in honor of all the REAL veterans out there, to Micki, Lisa, Mike, Christine, Jason, Darby, Jeff, Keith, and all those who I served with and support.  Happy Veteran's Day.  YOU deserve it.  I am proud to call you friends and family EVERYDAY.

The Inspiration

In a half lit room in a sparse flat in SoHo, lines of code, video feed, and still photographs flashed on a bank of large computer screens.  The Fallen Angel kept a watchful eye on all of them and waited.  At quarter to six in the morning, one monitor raised an alarm.
  “Finally,” Fallen Angel said with a smirk.  “Let the games begin.”
-Excerpt from Angel's Code

Angel’s Code is an exciting romp through the seedy world of cyber crime.  Based in London, the story revolves around Danny Murray and his introduction into the hacker lifestyle.
Danny is a young, bored web design student at Birkbeck College, who dreams of becoming more than just an IT guy.  He wants to make a mark on the world, and releases a prank virus, attracting the attention of internationally renown hacker, “The Fallen Angel.”
Angel agrees to teach the young Danny the ways of the hacker, but his online skills are not the ones in need of refining.
        The only setback Danny has is his older brother, Oliver Murray, who has just been promoted head inspector of the cyber crime division for London’s Metropolitan Police.  Oliver feels it is his main duty to keep Danny away from the mysterious, and dangerous Angel.
However, when the tables are turned and Oliver is the one in need of rescuing, will the skills Danny learned from Angel be enough to save his brother from Cyber Terrorist Ahmed Eid?

In my real job, I am afforded a massive amount of time out during winter and summer breaks. I wrote Angel’s Code last winter after being disappointed with television shows I like to watch and thriller novels that I like to read.  They just always came up short, or I figured out the mystery within the first five minutes.  (I’m looking at you Elementary!)  Fortunately, two shows engaged me, Sherlock and The Adventures of Merlin.  Both have great action, dialog, and humor.  Everything a snowbound Montana girl could ask for.  Most of all I was impressed by now-everywhere-actor Benedict Cumberbatch and probably-soon-to-break-actor Colin Morgan.  Their acting and timing were superb.  And they looked enough alike, I thought they could be related.
I began to stay up nights thinking about what I would like to watch with these two actors in it.  That is when I came up with the story of Angel’s Code.  A hacker, hacker wannabe, and his overprotective police brother.
Every night I would go to bed and make up the story, relishing in their similarities and differences.  Then I thought, no one is going to write this, it may as well be you.  So I started writing.  I had just recently finished a course with the Long Ridge Writer’s Group on short stories, could I really write a whole book? Things started falling in place for me.  I met Danica Winters, who taught me about character development and the hero’s journey.  She put me in contact with a critique group and a publisher.
It still doesn’t seem real.  I am still surprised when people come up to me and tell me how much they liked my book.  It’s all so surreal.
I have the second in the series, Angel’s Betrayal, done and am currently working on the third, Angel’s Fall.
I feel truly blessed that I was able to put out a good story, maybe one day my dreams will make it to the big screen.
If you are interested in knowing more about the characters of Angel's Code, look for the description of Danny on Janette Harjo's blog.  And on November 18th, you can find out more about Oliver on Amber Dalton's blog.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It's a Marshmallow World

It's snowing in the Big Sky State, not much of it sticks to the ground, but enough of it to get me in a holiday frame of mind.  I think I was ready for a change of weather, though.  My garden has been cleared, my cold weathe gear taken out and dusted off.
Looking out of the window at work I see people still hesitant to adhere to the winter protocol.  Mostly college students, boldly trudging through the ice crusted leaves in their flip flops and short sleeves, hunched over as though they could hold on to their fast dissipating body heat like a quarterback about to get sacked.  Jack Frost is a linebacker out for blood.
I, on the other hand, look forward to colder weather.  The shish shish sound of fallen leaves when you shuffle through them, the particular smell of fall and wood burning stoves.  Drinking hot tea and cider.  When I unpack my winter clothes, I greet each sweater, long wooly sock, and scarf that comes out of the plastic bin.  I love to cozy up in a blanket and my dogs, put on some soft music, and watch the snow fall.  I start to think of the holiday treats I will make to share with friends and neighbors.  And of course, I start to plan my annual demented gingerbread house ( the past three years have been high security prison, strip club, and brothel).  
Now, come February, I will grow weary of the snow, and will be waxing poetic about the spring.  But that, my dear readers, will be another blog.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I have a lot of Character!

Have you read Angel's Code and wanted to know more about the characters, what compelled me to write the story, and what's next?
Well, you're in luck!
For the next few weeks, I will be blogging and guest blogging on the in's and out's of Angel's Code.
Starting with Danny- the "main" character of the first book of the series.

If you would like to know more about Danny, please read my guest blog on Janette Harjo's blog.

I will continue the discussion next week on here on my own blog, then travel around the blogosphere sharing the secrets of my madness.

And if you haven't read the book yet, your in luck!  There are still plenty of copies at the following online retailers.  You don't even have to get out of your pajamas!

Barnes and Noble

See you on the inter-webs!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Death Cat Cometh

Being sick sucks.  Monday night I came down with a stomach bug and left work early, hoping it was some sketchy yogurt I ate earlier and not the flu that was rampaging through the sorority house, laying it's victims to languish in the hallways, moaning about how sick they are, but not taking any of the advice the housemother and I would give them. 
But I digress, I was sticken with stomach cramps, nausea, sour burps, and dizziness.  Not good when you need to serve up a fancy plated meal for 60 women.  Needless to say, I kept it together until after the plating, though the fury of passing plates almost pushed me over the edge, then I went home.  Driving while nauseous is no picnic either.  I made it home and went to lay down until the room stopped spinning.
The next day, I felt a little better.  That is until I opened a can of dog food.  The chunks of compressed meat hovering in it's viscous gravy sealed my fate, and I called in sick then went back to bed.
After a three hour nap, I made myself some gingered chicken broth and sat down in the sun room by our sliding glass door.  The early afternoon sun warmed my aching body and I felt a little more cheerful.  A sudden movement caught my eye, and from out of the hedges lining our porch slinked out the death cat.  I screamed in horror at the ominous omen glaring at me.
"The Death Cat!  The Death Cat has come in my hour of weakness!"

Now the Death Cat is one of many cats that roam our neighborhood.  A massive long-haired black feline who usually sits on the fence corner glowering at our house.  He is the arch enemy of our black cat, Magic.  The Death Cat, when he's in full skulk, looks like the grim reaper,  Saggy black fur and two demonic glowing eyes.  Many midnight battles have been waged between Death Cat and Magic.  Usually after these fights, we will find a deceased animal on our patio, a bird, a mouse, one time a pack  rat... always Magic, missing clumps of fur, ends up staying inside for a couple of days.

But yesterday the Death Cat came for me.  He looked me right in the eyes and my heart shivered.  

I'm surprised I'm still alive.

Perhaps it was just a warning, a gentle reminder that bad things do pass, to enjoy your health while you have it.   So Enjoy Life my friends, or else the Death Cat may visit your porch next.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

We now return you to your regularly scheduled life

So my life has been crazy.  Week after week of work, markets, and critique meetings and now my calendar is finally clearing up.
Two weekends ago, I went to my first writer's conference.  It was sponsored by the Montana Chapter of the Romance Writers Association.  Yeah, I know.  I'm not a romance writer.  Now I know what a man feels like in a room full of estrogen high women, much like the houseboys I work with at the sorority.  The seminars were good, I learned a lot, and I met a bunch of great women. Including a woman who looked exactly like my mom.  It was erie.
So I got home last Sunday and dove right into Homecoming weekend.  I'm not in college, I'm not an alumni, but I do belong to Pug Club, and we march in the parade every year.  This year the theme was "Up with Montana" thus our club and every other entry in the parade dressed as the movie "UP!"
I have to admit we were the cutest.  I volunteered to make the floating house, and then we all dressed up like the old man, and our pugs were clouds.

Aren't they adorable, and miserable looking?  

So our parade went well, and I'm glad it's over.  Now I can get back to my routine. Work, exercise and write.  Here's hoping.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Angel's Code

My first book was released on Sept. 17th.  It was quite the learning process, publishing a book.  I would like to thank a few people who helped along the way.

First, my mentor and friend, Danica Winters.  If it weren't for her, I would have never started this process.  Her guidance helped me develop, edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite and finally submit my book.
I'd also like to thank the other women in my critique group, Kristi Fitzgerald, Melanie Calahan.  I couldn't have written as much as I did without you.

Second, I'd like to thank Jennifer Conners and the staff at Books to Go Now for their hard work and dedication to new authors.

Third, I thank my family and friends who supported my endeavor.  It was quite the trial.

So in the name of self promotion, here are the links where you can find the book. :)  I hope you enjoy it.

Amazon copy
Barnes and Noble copy

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Calm Before the Storm

This  past week I've been thinking about how quiet it was.  Too quiet.  It reminded me of this line from one of my favorite actors, Gary Oldman, in one of the first movies I saw him in, "The Professional." (BTW was also one of the first roles done by Natalie Portman - it's an excellent movie.  I highly recommend it.)

Anyhoo, here's the clip.  Warning: it does get a tad violent.

Did I say tad?

So it's been calm.  Calmer at work, calm at the market, calm at home. It's beginning to freak me out!

I have finished the final looks of my debut novella.  Yea!

Here's the cover

Isn't it awesome.  The artist over at Books To Go Now really did a great job.  

So now what....
                                    ....we wait.

Fortunately, you don't have to wait long!  Angel's Code will be available for download Sept. 17th.  That's in six days people!  How stoked are you?

So.... like I said, the calm before the storm.  Go rent "The Professional" while you wait.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

My Three Lives

I came to the realization today that I'm living three separate lives.  A multiple personality disorder manifested into my daily life.

I used to only have two distinct jobs during the year and they only overlapped on the outer fringes of their existences.  First is the job I hold at a sorority as a cook and the second takes place during the summer at the Farmer's Market.  Now I wear this third hat, published (almost officially) author.

As I have mentioned, my three parts never collided like they have the past two weeks.  When I wake, I am cook extraordinaire.  Afternoon rolls around, and between batches of bread for the market, I try to plot a few lines for my next book.  Then it's back to sling in' hash for the college girls.  I go home and become farmer chick, checking up on my garden, picking the ripe tomatoes and peas, and exterminating some noxious weed or offending insect that dares cross my path.  My nights are illuminated by the glow of my computer screen, researching, writing, and editing. Editing.  Editing...

And though I know the market life is about to wind down, ready to hibernate until next spring, I feel grateful I've been able to balance it thus far.  I guess it's a good thing I don't have much of a social life or children - the dogs take care of themselves.

Please excuse me, there is a hungry girl/baking timer/confusing sentence/errant weed calling my name.


                                               My market stall

                    My poor neglected dog

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Guest Blog Announcement

Hey everybody,
Sorry it's been awhile.  I've been busy editing and preparing for the upcoming release of my first book "Angel's Code" (final release date TBA).

Tomorrow, Monday, August 12, I will be guest blogging on Leanne Tyler's site. You can find my post on her site:
Sweet Southern Romance

Please drop in and leave a comment.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Christmas in July Chocolate Sweepstakes Winner

Wow!  What a pleasure to do such a hop.  I am pleased of everyone that stopped by and wrote a comment.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank You!!!
Now for the sweet stuff.  Unfortunately, the local sweets shop (The Sweets Barn) I was going to get the Montana Chocolate Co.'s chocolates from doesn't carry them anymore.  Fortunately, they make their own amazing chocolates, so I personally have chosen a nice selection of their scrumptious truffles.

The Sweets Barn Facebook Page

And the winner is, by random selection:

Kathryn Merkel

Congratulations, I will be contacting you for all your details. :)

For the rest of you, thank you again for participating in the hop.  I just got word yesterday that my book will be released around the end of August or beginning of September.  It is a thriller cyber novella, which takes place in London.  I am excited to bring it to the public, and hope it will be well received.

I hope all your Christmas wishes, and everyday wishes come true.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Best Christmas EVER

It's Christmas in July!
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Welcome to the blog hop, graciously hosted by Jennifer Conners, Danica Winters, Sharon Kleve, and the Books to Go Now publishing group.  I am one of the newest authors signed to BTGN.  Everyone included in this hop is giving away a great prize.  You must comment to be eligible for the prize.  BTGN is raffling off Amazon gift cards.  I will give away a box of Montana Chocolate Company Chocolates (formally known as Charbonneau's)

So below is a short story about coming home for Christmas.  Enjoy the hop!

I was upstairs when the phone rang.  Rushing to answer it, I wondered who it could be.  One of my friends seeing if I had plans tonight, or possibly that gorgeous jar head I gave my number to at the Irish bar - if he wasn’t too drunk to have lost it.  In the age before caller ID, it could have been anyone.
“Hello, Dodo.” It was my mother.    “What time is it there?”
“It’s just after five.” I answered, stopping myself from saying 1700 as my military half would do.  I automatically did the math in my head, nine am in Montana.
We conversed with the usual questions.  Yes, work was fine.  No, I haven’t been drinking too much.  Yes, the weather is nice.  Of course, southern Spain had no seasons besides warm, hot, and hotter.  
For months, my parents had been planning on coming to Spain for a visit.  They wanted to see the beautiful beaches, taste the garlic and olive laced cuisine and the sun soaked sherry.  Mostly, they were concerned that most of the pictures I had taken of Spain were from the inside of a bar.
“Listen, about Spain...” I had the feeling that she had been holding back. “We can’t come.”
“What? Why?”
“It’s Rachel.”
My younger sister, Rachel, had been causing headaches for my parents for awhile now.  Out of us three girls, I thought I earned the moniker of rebel.  Imagine my surprise when a few months earlier I received a letter from my best friend congratulating Rachel on her marriage, and why didn’t I call her if I was in town.  Marriage?  After an angry phone call home, I found out that Rachel had run away and eloped with her scuzzy boyfriend - who we had named “The Schmuck.”  My mother insisted to keep me in the dark about the situation because they were hoping that it was just another one of Rachel’s “phases.”  Also, they feared that if they had told me, I would have hopped the first flight out of Europe and kick the schmuck’s ass.  Which I would.  See, rebel.
“What’s Rachel doing now?”
“She’s dropped out of college.” My mother sighed.  Her weary voice told of sleepless nights and days of hand wringing worry. “We’re afraid they are going to move out of state.  We might lose her...”
I could hear her stifle a sob.  Waiting patiently, I remained silent until she was ready to continue.
“So, instead of us coming to Spain, we would like to bring you home for Christmas, then maybe Rachel would come home, too.”

The next few months were a blur of filling out leave paperwork, finding a dog sitter, and trying to find any winter suitable clothes I had yet to get rid of.
We sent the word out that I was coming home for Christmas to everyone except my little brother, Jonny.  It would be great to surprise the little guy.
My flight landed in Great Falls near midnight.  Jonny would be fast asleep.  I snuck into the house, cringing at the excited yips and barks from our two schnauzers.
It was good to be home, having not stepped foot in the house for almost two years.  My mother informed me when Jonny would be up, and I should come up when he’s eating breakfast.
I didn’t need an alarm clock.  Jonny’s munchkin voice filled the quiet dark house.  I crept up the stairs, hoping the dogs wouldn’t give me away.  With his back to the entrance, Jonny sat at the round kitchen table, his bowl of Frosted Flakes in front of him, jabbering away about what he hoped Santa would bring him that Christmas.  I was amazed how well he looked.  After all his medical setbacks, he finally looked like a normal boy.  The scar from the life support was covered by his bright geometric sweater.  No longer teathered to oxygen hoses and medication tubes, he sat in his chair kicking his legs, his feet barely reaching the ground.
I slipped into the kitchen and stood a few feet behind him.
“Good morning.” I said.
My father looked up from his paper, giving me a toothy grin.  My mother stood next to Jonny in her pink fuzzy bathrobe, sipping from her industrial sized cup of coffee.
Jonny looked up at our mother and cocked his head to the side.
“I didn’t say anything.”
He looked at our father for answers, who only pointed to me, giggling with his silent hissing laugh.
“Good Morning.” I repeated.
Jonny swung around in his chair.  His eyes grew wide, made even bigger by his round coke bottle glasses.
“DODO!”  He leapt up from his seat.  He reached out, but stopped short.  So shocked by my presence, it was almost like he was afraid he was dreaming and if he touched me, I would disappear.
I grabbed him and pulled him in for a hug.
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m home for Christmas.”
He buried his head into me and held on tighter.  We all laughed with tears in our eyes.
“This is the best Christmas, EVER.” Jonny cried.

Later that afternoon, my older sister Stephanie came over.  She had a tape for me to watch, Mr. Bean.  After popping some popcorn, we sat down and popped the tape into the VCR.  In the middle of all the laughing, the phone rang.  My mother answered it.  Her expression fell, and we knew it had to be Rachel.
“But Dorothy’s home.” Mother said. “Yes, from Spain.  She’s here.”
My mother hung up the phone.  “She said she’ll see what she can do.”
We all sat in the silent room.  Tomorrow was Christmas eve.

The next day, we tried to keep occupied.  Christmas is always a marathon of cooking, cleaning, and wrapping gifts.  Our mother paced the house, wringing her hands, and muttering.  Our father helped the best he could by staying out of the way.
This was our last chance at getting Rachel to come home, show her that we still love her, try to convince her that she’s made a mistake by running off.  Also, it might be the last time we all could get together for Christmas as a family.  Who knows where the Navy will send me next, or when Stephanie get’s her masters, where will she end up?  It’s a bittersweet tragedy every family faces.  Parent’s clutching to the straws of their emptying nests.
We all got ready for Christmas Eve mass, when my mother ran down the hall.
“She’s here!”  
The front door squeaked open and we all ran to the top of the stairs.  Rachel stood in the entryway.  My jaw dropped at the sight of her.  Once a beautiful blonde, slim and tall, Rachel was the envy of all the girls in high school.  Now before us stood a broken version of her.  Her hair died dark purple, making her fair skin pale, almost translucent.  Her svelte figure hidden by a ratty oversized sweater and jeans.
What did he do to you, I thought, my anger rising.
“Hey.” Rachel looked up at us.  We descended upon her and took her in our arms.
“Rachel, you came!” Our mother cried.
“Yeah,” she squirmed in our group hug, “I’m home.”
“That’s all that matters.” Mother pulled away, wiping off her tears.  “We’re all here, now it feels like Christmas.”

Thank you for reading my story.  Go now and hop to the next one.

Click here for the next blog!

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Remember You Must Comment To Be Eligible for the Prize Drawing.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Christmas in July Blog Hop

On July 17th, the publishing company I've been working with, Books to Go Now, is hosting a blog hop for it's authors.
Though I technically don't have a book out yet, will be out hopefully this fall, I encourage you to take a look at the other authors from this company.  Who knows, maybe you'll find a new favorite author.
Each author will have a post on their own blog with a link you can press to access the next one.  Some will have a personal drawing and the company is also holding a drawing for Amazon gift cards. :)
I, myself, will be posting a short story and a drawing for a box of Montana Chocolates (Formally called Charbonneau's Chocolates.)
I hope you will participate.
Looking forward to meeting you all.  :)

H. A.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

One Little Soul

Losing someone is hard.  I wrote this poem for my mother after she put her little schnauzer down.  This week, our family says goodbye to another wonderful dog, Benny.  I think that this poem will speak to anyone who has experienced loss.

We love you.

           One Little Soul

One little soul enters your life
One little soul stays
You wonder how this soul fills yours with love
You hope it will never go away

One little soul occupies your day
One little soul plays
You wonder how this soul became your life
You hope it will never go away

One little soul grows old
One little soul leaves
You wonder how you’ll live without that one little soul
The love will never go away

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fortune cookies

I love fortune cookies.  Not the cookies themselves, they are usually stale.  But the fortunes are inspiring.  I have one taped on my computer that reads "You have a charming way with words and you should write a book."
The following is a short story I wrote about fortune cookies and how a small suggestion can change your outlook on your entire life.


“No, no, no!” Kaylie muttered as she frantically went through her purse.  Her takeout order was ready and her wallet was missing.  People in line behind her shifted their weight, rolled their eyes and grimaced impatiently as she got out of the way.
“You’ve got to be freakin’ kidding me!” she exclaimed, dumping her bag out on a near-by table.  Lipstick, gum, tampons fell everywhere, but no wallet.  All she wanted to do was brighten her day with a little chinese takeout with her last ten bucks.
Quickly retracing her steps, Kaylie jogged her memory.  She had it when she got on the subway, her pass was in there, distinctly remembering scanning her pass, putting it in her wallet, and placing it back in her purse.  The cabin had been crowded, more than the usual rush hour push.  With horror she realized it had to have been stolen.  It would have been easy to do, an easy lift with a casual bump.  Kaylie’s stomach sank as if she had swallowed a boulder instead of bile.
“Damn,” she said with tears welling in her eyes. “What a crappy day!”

“Who is Kaylie Spencer?” Her mind flashed back to earlier that morning.  She overheard Mr. Boxham, the CEO of the accounting firm she worked for, and her supervisor, Mr. Herbert talking outside of her cubical.
“Oh, she’s just the gopher around here.” replied Mr. Herbert.  “No more than a glorified secretary.”
“I do more than errands,” she thought.  There were rumors of the company being in the red, and she had the feeling they were discussing the cutbacks they would have to make to ensure the company’s survival.
“Well, I suppose we can have everyone get their own coffee, now can’t we?”  Mr. Boxham replied.  He was writing her off like so many people before him.  As if she didn’t matter.
Kaylie’s life was falling apart and she couldn’t keep the shattered pieces together.  

“He doesn’t even know me,” she whimpered.  Her knees turned to jelly and she sank to the restaurant’s floor and wept.  The line moved forward, no one took notice, except for one man.
The restaurant owner, Hu Tsao, a strong believer in karma, looked upon the quivering heap on the floor.  With kindness in his voice, he helped her up, guided her through the noisy, steamy kitchen and sat her in the back office.  He presented her with some hot, fragrant jasmine tea and sat beside her until her sobbing had subsided and the hiccuping had passed.  He left briefly and returned with a paper bag.
“Please, take this, no charge,” he said. Kaylie tried to protest, no stranger to misfortune himself Hu pressed it into her hands.
“Please, take,” he insisted, “I put extra fortune cookie in.  Maybe give you good luck.”
He squeezed her lightly on the shoulder and led her to the door.  As he watched her go, he said a little prayer and hoped the best for her.

The lifeless, stale air of her apartment only added to her bad humor.  Kaylie unceremoniously dropped everything in her arms on the threadbare hazard orange couch in her cramped living room.  Miserable, tired, and overwhelmed, she peeled off her clothes and headed for the shower.  The lukewarm water trickled out of the faucet, giving her her no comfort.  
Plopping down on the couch, she pawed through the takeout.  The first box contained almond chicken.  Not her favorite, but she and her stomach couldn’t afford to be picky.  The other box was steamed rice.  In the bottom of the bag rattled three fortune cookies.  
Kaylie turned on the T.V. to the news and began to eat.  She started a mental list of all the things she would have to do.  Call the bank, cancel credit cards, report her ID missing, get a new subway pass...
“I’ll have to wake up extra early just to get to work,” she thought.  “Ugh, work...”
Her days were numbered and it loomed over her head.  She hated job hunting.  The repetitive applications, the inane interviews, and the waiting and pacing and waiting for the damn phone to ring.  She groaned at the thought and viciously stabbed at a snow pea.
After she was finished with the food, Kaylie stretched back on the couch and gazed at the ceiling.  “What am I going to do?” she sighed.  She looked around the room as if searching for her answer among the dusty second-hand furniture and cobwebs.  Her eyes landed on the fortune cookies, who seemed to be looking back at her with their wry little grins.
“Huh,” she grumbled, “fortunes.”
She snatched one up, unwrapped it and cracked it open.  The fortune slipped out from the crumbling confection, feathering down to her lap.  She picked it up and read the inscription.
“Prepare yourself for a change of events in your personal life.”
“The winner of last week’s jackpot...” the news from the T.V. suddenly caught her attention.
“Lucky bastard,” she complained.  She turned the paper over in her hand.  There were numbers on the back.
“And those winning numbers were,” the anchorman announced with excitement, “35, 24, 21...”
35, 24, 21 was on the slip of paper read.
“...36, 56, 22.”
36, 56, 22!  Kaylie jumped up and looked from the screen to the paper and back again.  She couldn’t believe it!
“This can’t be!” she shouted. “It has to be a fluke!”
But she couldn’t ignore the coincidence.  Quickly, she grabbed another cookie and cracked it open.
“Tomorrow, your lucky color will be green.”
She flipped the paper over to look at the numbers.
“The next lotto drawing is tonight...” the TV reminded her.  She could still buy a ticket!  Kaylie went to her change jar and scrounged up enough odd coins to buy one.  She flew out of the apartment and with the speed of a gazelle, raced to the corner market.  Panting, she copied the fortune’s numbers on to the lotto sheet. 10-42-50-53-43-45.
She bought her ticket and practically skipped home.  The jackpot was $250,000 and her hopes were high.
That night, Kaylie anxiously awaited the drawing.  In a fit of nervous energy, she cleaned the apartment, taking on a new spirit, livable, warm, and cozy.  Finally, came the announcement.
“Tonight’s jackpot numbers are... 10.”
“Yes!” she thought and pumped her fist into the air.
“42... 50.”
“Oh man!” her stomach flipped in her excitement.
            “53... 43.”
Kaylie could hardly contain herself.  She perched herself on the couch, breathless, her every muscle tense.
“And the final number is...”
“GET ON WITH IT!” she shouted.
“What!” Kaylie, crestfallen, stepped off the couch and flumped down on the cushion.  “One number!  Just one number!” she moaned.  She looked at the ticket clenched in her fist.  Then, she noticed that she did win.  Five numbers were enough to win a percentage of the jackpot, making her the winner of $250.  Bolstered by this revelation, she went to her closet to find something green.

That night, her usual terrifying stress-induced dreams changed, coming alive with possibilities.  Swirling colors and numbers filled her head.  When Kaylie woke the next morning she had a brilliant solution to the budget crunch at work.  Dressed in a smart green blazer and skirt, she scurried out the door.  On her way out, a lone fortune cookie caught her eye.  She plucked it off the table and placed it in her bag.
With her fortunate windfall of cash, she took a cab to work, a luxury she could never have afforded before.  The driver, a jolly man named Jonny Vert, cracked jokes with her and made pleasant conversation on the way.  When she arrived at work, Kaylie found herself in a great mood.  She hardly recognized the reflection that shone in the polished elevator doors.  Her posture seemed to be straighter, her eyes were wider, and even her hair was not as frizzy and unkempt as it usually was.  She noticed people were looking at her, men taking.  She blushed at the thought.  Even the ambient noise of telephones and the tapping of keyboards sounded symphonic to her.  Kaylie knew she had to save her job, everybody’s jobs.
Filled with purpose, she marched to Mr. Boxham’s office, but lost steam when she got to the door.
“What am I doing?” Kaylie said to herself.  “Who am I to go barging in there?”
She skulked back to her cubical and flung her bag onto her desk.  The violent landing jarred the contents of her purse, the last fortune cookie popped out of the bag and rolled onto her desk.  Kaylie picked it up and looked at it.  Turning it over and over  in her hands, she debated her options.  She could see the fortune peeking out between the folds of the crisp treat.  She pulled it out delicately and read the inscription.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.”
It was enough to encourage Kaylie back to the office door.  She stood there with the fortune in her hand.  She read it again, screwed up her courage and knocked on the door.  When called inside, she took her small step.

Kaylie went out for her lunch hour.  Her usual routine of vending machine fare at her desk while working to stay ahead of her inbox just wouldn’t do today.
Stepping into the fresh air outside, a delectable aroma led her stomach to a small chinese takeout, where she ordered crispy duck and wontons.  At the cashier, she noticed a large bowl filled with fortune cookies.  When no one was looking, Kaylie grabbed a handful and stuffed them into her bag.  
A block away from the takeout, she found a little hideaway.  Crammed between two buildings laid a small oasis, with gnarled trees and green grasses, it looked like an mini ancient forrest.  She made camp on a natural stone bench where Kaylie relished her meal and watched in awe as a spider tended to her web on a nearby branch.
Kaylie felt something she hadn’t felt in a long time.  She felt lighter, jubilant, and at ease.  Happy.  Casually, she reached into her bag, pulled out a random cookie and read the fortune.
“Your abilities are appreciated.”
“Right you are!” she exclaimed, remembering her pitch to Mr. Boxham.  She told him of the terrible waste of company dollars was being spent on paper goods for inter-office mail and couriers to the other offices around the city.  Doing everything online would save a lot of money, she noted and gave him a guesstimate on how much money would be saved in a year’s time.
“Brilliant!” he said after she was done talking, “I’ll get Herbert to crunch the numbers.”
It was so satisfying to see Mr. Herbert’s smug expression of contempt when she entered the office, change to the slack-jawed look of surprise after she was done with her impromptu presentation.  She wasn’t used to such praise and soaked it in like a sponge.
Kaylie kissed the fortune and put it in her pocket.
Upon her return to the office, she noted a heavy gloom in the air.  Her co-workers either looked at her with sorrow or avoided eye contact with her all together.  Puzzled, she walked to her cubical where she found the reason for the ominous mood.  Mr. Herbert stood at her desk, and on her desk rested a box.  One of those boxes, like the ones seen on TV shows and movies. The ones that symbolize someone is fired.   
“Ah, Miss Spencer,” Mr Herbert said, his lips pulled back in a snake-like grin.  He even hissed as he said her name, “Missss Sssspenssser...”  
Kaylie stood in front of him dumbfounded and speechless.
“I suppose you realize what’s going on.” Herbert started.
“But the plan I proposed...” she began to argue.
“... was a good idea,” he interrupted, “however, was a little too late, I’m afraid.”
The rest of what Mr. Herbert had to say fell on deaf ears.  Kaylie was back where she started, a martyr of her own plans.

Four unwrapped fortune cookies lined her kitchen table, all had the sinister grin Mr. Herbert gave her when he handed her a severance check.  Kaylie smashed the first one with her fist then sifted through the remains for the fortune. 
“You shouldn’t overspend at the moment. Frugality is important.”
“No shit,” Kaylie sighed and sank in her seat.  She plucked the next one in line.
“You will be spending some time on water soon.”
“That doesn’t even make any sense!” She was afraid of water.  Even driving over a bridge made her queasy.  Kaylie picked up the third and cracked it open.
“You shouldn’t overspend...”
“Crap, a repeat!”  She took the last one and cupped it in her hands and whispered to it, “C’mon, give me something.”  Her breath caught as she cracked it open.  The cookie snapped evenly in two to reveal nothing but vanilla scented air.
This sent Kaylie into a rage.  She threw the cookie halves across the room.  Swept the crumbled cookie carcasses from the table in one dramatic swoosh, then banged her head down on the table.
“These cookies are flawed!” she thought.  “I was tempted by that sinful crispy duck.  Those take out cookies were full of lies.”
She grabbed her purse and headed for Hu’s Chinese Takeout.
Kaylie found him standing by the counter.  He patiently listened as she told him what had past.
“So that’s why I need more cookies,” she concluded, “your fortunes work.”
“Stupid child,” he chuckled, “fortune cookies have no power.”
“But they told me what to do and my life got better,” she pleaded.
“It was not the cookies that changed your life,” Hu explained, “It was your heart that changed.”
Kaylie was confused.  “But the lottery...”
“That just dumb luck,” he dismissed the idea with a wave of his hand.  “Real luck, real fortune come from inside.  Have a happy heart, have a happy life.”
Kaylie said goodbye to Hu Tsao and went home to think things over.

Two weeks later, Kaylie was on the eastbound ferry to an interview.  She returned to her old job to ask Mr. Boxham for a referral.  He gave her the name of a colleague, who he happened to know needed “a brilliant young mind,” like her.
She sat in the middle of the ferry, trying to keep her breathing steady. She held a small slip of paper in her hands and when she looked down at it, her head came up with a sly grin.
“You will be spending some time on water soon.”

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fish and guests

I love having visitors.  I love playing host to family and friends.  Being a chef, (my real life job) having guests over is a time for me to impress people with my culinary prowess in the kitchen.  I like taking people to fun and unusual places around Missoula and the Bitterroot valley, like Rockin' Rudy's - where you can find decorative merkins and bimbo socks - or the Red Sun Labyrinth near Victor is best seen in the late spring/early summer.  
I love catering to the individual tastes of my guests. Relaxing on the patio with a specialty cocktail, and upscale yet simple hors d'oeuvres (that's French for snackies).  Great conversations and perhaps a board game, or a movie.  I love everything about entertaining.
Though it wears on you after a few days. It's exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time.  Adjusting your regular schedule to accommodate your guests.  Dealing with their animals/kids, hoping they get along with your animals/kids.  Then there is the extra clutter, air beds, luggage, clothes, towels.  I felt like I was constantly straightening and cleaning and washing dishes.
I am recovering from a long weekend with my sister and her dog.  Her dog has a special diet, thus I had to feed my dogs separately.  Her dog was like anyone in a diet, grouchy and constantly in the search for a forbidden food.  One had to be constantly vigilant where they held their plate for fear of an extra snout spiriting away a tasty morsel from your plate.
After it was said and done, I was happy my sister came, though I was equally happy when she left.  The spare room and the kitchen are back to their orderly fashion, and the dogs can eat their food in peace.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Slowly going crazy

So I must admit, I hate waiting.  I mean, I am pretty patient, I can wait in line for awhile without batting an eye. DMV, no problem.  But when it comes to something exciting in my life, something good, time slows down and my face feels like it will fall off with all the fretting I'm doing.  What if this isn't a good thing, what if I did something wrong, do I really deserve anything good?  
Then I admonish myself for being such a drama llama.  
Just wait it out, it'll come, it will all work out in the end.
Always does.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

So many distractions.

Ok, so it was great when the weather cooperated and remained gloomy, rainy and cold.  I got a lot of writing done.  But now, the weather is beautiful.  The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the crickets are chirping.  Don't know if that last one is a good thing or not.  Aren't crickets supposed to chirp at night, and if they chirp during the day it's a sign of the apocalypse or something?  I did have some Jehovah Witnesses come to my door today.

So, I'm inside trying to electrocute one of my characters with an old electroshock therapy machine, and the sparrows are calling me to come outside.  It's either that or the farts wafting up from my small pug.  I swear it's a new form of a WMD!  Ricin farts, somebody has been feeding my dog castor beans.

I wonder if I could use that in a story.

Maybe not.

Enjoy the sun! :)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Canine Envy


These are my two dogs, Fritter and Flapjack.  Fritter is a three year old puggle, an pug beagle mix.  Flapjack is a white hot ball of puggy fury.  I bought Flapjack a month ago because Fritter's companion had died earlier in the spring, and she still wasn't acting like herself.  So I figured that since my job was about to go on summer hiatus, it would be a good time to get a puppy.  I would have time to train it, and Fritter  could enjoy her days playing with her new companion.  
I soon began to realize how parents of human children feel when they decide to have another baby.  The only thing you remember when making the decision is how cute they are, how wonderful they smell - yes, I love the smell of "puppy breath" - and how much fun it is to watch them play and discover new things.  What everyone forgets is the lack of sleep, the boundless energy, the constant monitoring, worrying, and pulling things out of mouths.  Not to mention the jealous sibling rivalries.  
It took weeks for Fritter to play with the puppy, but finally she has begrudgingly accepted that Flapjack is here to stay.
I, however, have begun to resent them, and anyone who is able to sleep in past five am.  I am jealous that these two dogs insist on waking so early to go outside and be served breakfast.  Then they play furiously for thirty minutes and then crash for the rest of the morning.  Meanwhile, I'm now fully awake, and once I'm up, I'm up.  I wish I could fall asleep as quick and sound as the dogs do.  I wish I could wake up to fresh coffee and the paper at the ready.  
I guess it's my boulder to push up the hill, and I guess I asked for it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Believe in yourself

I am finding that the business of writing is very involved. Things I never even knew about, like marketing, branding, etc. I just thought it was write a story, get it published, cash the checks. Not so. I can't even begin to tell you what is involved with self-publishing. Maybe down the road when I'm not working a full time job, then writing, I can have the time to do self-publishing. But as for now, I'll let someone else do the majority of my marketing, while I handle the writing part.
I still am in charge of branding. Blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting, then writing, rewriting, editing, rewriting.
Next month I'll be getting my picture professionally done. Yes, you'll finally see a glammed up - heavily photoshopped picture of me. (Ha!) I've also ordered business cards to hand out if and when I meet agents. It's overwhelming at times if I stop to think about it. Fortunately I'm too busy to think.

I've finished yet another round of edits on my first manuscript. Two minutes after I send it off to my second beta reader, I think of more stuff to put in it. I swear the more I edit, the less confident I become. I think I'm adding something awesome to the story, but fear I'm taking away from it too.

I look up at this board above my computer and it tells me to "Believe in yourself" Easy to say, when you're a painted piece of wood.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Success, the elusive mistress of writers.

Today, I submitted my first novel to a publisher, after - of course - another round of aggressive editing.  I guess it's a good sign that I can never by satisfied with what I write.

Last night I attended my first writer's critique group.  My story had already gone through a proof reader and a beta reader with a thumbs up.  However, those two were good friends, and these ladies I met last night are writers like myself.  I read my first chapter and they picked it apart like scavengers on a carcass.  Now don't get me wrong, it was well liked, but it is what I needed.  I needed an equal to tell me what was needed.  I have a good story, but I want a great story.  I want a novel that haunts the reader as much as the story has haunted me for these last few months.  The best part of our fledgeling group is that we all write different genres.  I write action/thrillers, two write romance, and the third writes YA fantasy.  It made for a good balance of ideas.  While my story runs fast and furious, the other's suggestions made me sit back and look around at the scenes, and my descriptions fell short.

After today's edits, I am happier with the first chapters, also I have the addition of a sub-character that can bring the ending full circle, which excites me.  It'll bring a good closure to the story.

So off my manuscript went, I waved at it as it ran off to be judged and wished it well.  Fortunately, I have an ace in the hole.  I've already been chatted up to the editor.  Yea!  I just hope my work reflects the buzz that has been created.

Is humility dead?

Well, a phrase came to mind which I shared on my other modes of networking today.  I might as well share it here.

Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

I gave up time.  Time spent with my family.  Time spent doing hobbies I enjoy.  Time playing with my dog.  A lot of time.
Time owes me big time!