First Submission of 2016

Yeah, I know, that’s pretty sad!  But I finally did drum up the courage to submit something to Carina’s “Too Taboo” anthology call. Right when I read the information, I saw a Twitter discussion (I swear, I get some of my best ideas from Twitter!) and it sparked an idea that flowed within days.

That doesn’t always happen.  Some stories I love so much and I just can’t finish them. It’s like my brain thinks something is wrong, or there’s some detail that’s just not gelling, and for whatever reason, I can’t finish.  Or I finish and I know it’s not worth doing anything with.

I had my doubts last night and almost talked myself out of getting the proposal put together (synopsis, UGH!).  I’ve had such a tough year and I’ve only just begun to make some headway. I could just hold this story back, finish it at my leisure, and self-pub it later, right?  Right. But that’s not pushing me to take risks and put myself out there.

I mean, one of the pluses of self publishing is definitely NOT having to write a synopsis. But that’s an important skill to have in order to sell on proposal or make longer series deals. What if something I write finally becomes a best seller (snort, chuckles, yeah, I know) and a BIG comes calling with a great offer?  I’d like to be able to write a synopsis — which means I’ve planned the story out. I know the beats and big twists. I know “whodunit” and “who banged who” and “why.” I’ve spent enough time to make sure my opening and closing images resonate and come full circle.

Granted, I don’t always need that level of information!  But if I have it, chances are that much greater that I’ll have the confidence to finish the book and know it’ll hold up to an editor’s red-pen scrutiny.

It’d be easier to hold this story back and self pub it “later.” (Which honestly might mean I’d never finish it.)  Well, I’ve never been much for taking the easiest path. I’m much more likely to kick the comfy stall down and charge off into the night, just to prove there’s still a wild heart inside me.

But I also want to make smart choices, and I did have to pause and think.  I have TERRIBLE luck with anthology calls. Honestly?  I’ve never had a successful acceptance for any antho call I’ve answered, and I’ve answered several. At least 5, I think.  All rejections. (Survive My Fire was my submission for a dragon antho call back in 2009ish.) So what’s a rejection going to do to my frame of mind right now, after all the other publishing biz blows I’ve taken this year?

It might be smarter to play safer, if for no other reason to protect my muse, which has been a little delicate this year.

Then Gregar kicked my ass for saying he was delicate, and I saw a cool clip of Idris Elba on Facebook (shared on my page here), so I decided I was being ridiculous. I wrote the damned synopsis. I polished my first 30 pages. And I submitted that puppy over lunch today.

 

My Crazy Tooth Saga

My family thinks I’m a quack. Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or dentist and this is only my personal experience.

I haven’t had many good experiences with doctors or dentists. Generally, I’m of the opinion that they’re going to make recommendations based on the all mighty dollar–theirs, of course–and not what would be best for me. Especially if it means I can control my own health through nutrition or natural means and save a bundle.

I’ve had some experience healing a few minor ailments naturally, like a bladder infection. I believe in the healing power of garlic, honey, natural essential oils, Redmond clay, etc. and use them often to keep my immunity up. I drink a green smoothie every morning containing only greens and fruit, sometimes a little yogurt for the probiotics. I keep bone broth in the freezer and the first thing I make when anyone’s under the weather is wholesome chicken soup with that broth and lots of garlic.

So when my tooth started acting up this weekend, I turned to a few of my online sources to see if I could heal it myself.  I’ve been following Katie’s journey to heal her cavities, and that inspired me to try and avoid a root canal if possible.

This tooth (upper molar, second from the back on the right) has given me trouble for a long time. A few years ago, the filling fell out. At first, I didn’t really notice or know what had happened. Then I put off going to the dentist (stupidly–because the fix would have been a lot easier if I’d gone as soon as I realized what had happened). In the end at least a year if not more passed before I got the tooth refilled. As a result, he had to drill quite a bit and warned that it might be too deep for the nerve to continue and I might need a root canal. (This was also before I got too “crunchy” in my efforts at going as natural as possible.)

Just the thought of a root canal scared me! So I immediately started using Earthpaste, a natural toothpaste made from Redmond Clay that helps with mineralization. As I said earlier, I also make chicken broth from bones quite often and coconut oil is in frequent use.

Friday last week, my tooth was suddenly much more sensitive to hot and cold. I started rubbing on coconut oil laced with oregano oil to combat any infection that might be brewing, and researched some possible home remedies. I found recommendations for Arnica (for inflammation and general healing) and Hypericum (for nerve pain/damage) that I easily found at my local health food store.

Before I could go shopping, though, I woke up early Sat morning because of that blasted tooth. Every time I rolled over, my teeth clenched together just enough to send a throbbing pain through that inflamed nerve. It was bad enough I almost asked That Man to cancel our planned trip to Mythos for my birthday so I could get in to see my dentist.

But I knew what conventional medicine would say:  root canal.  I’m torn on whether I really want a dead tooth in my mouth or not. There’s so many conflicting articles about whether root canals are beneficial or deadly (Snopes says all the naysayers are quacks, but there’s a ring of truth to many of the articles that make it difficult for me to discount completely).

I had pain, but it wasn’t more than I could bear, and I didn’t have any swelling. I decided to see if I could get through the weekend, at least until some of my harder-to-get supplies arrived.

So the next steps I implemented as soon as I hit the health food store:

  • Taking arnica and hypericum 3x a day
  • Had some whole grain toast (most people recommend avoiding grains to heal your teeth, but I don’t have any problems with gluten, other than I want to eat it all) loaded with really good Kerrygold butter and local raw honey. For me, this was like a heavenly dessert!
  • Started taking fermented cod liver oil caplets (I’d been doing this before, but quit because they were so expensive).
  • Oil pulling with coconut oil and oregano oil. I’d done this a couple of times, but it’s so inconvenient with my morning schedule, I didn’t get a routine established. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I’ve started getting up 5 mins earlier and swishing while I take the dogs out.
  • Flossing with tea tree oil.
  • Eggshells in my smoothie. I know this is probably the quackiest thing of all, but eggshells have tons of calcium and minerals that can help your teeth. (I also smash up the bones in canned salmon and eat them.) I already buy farm eggs from a guy That Man works with, so I washed them really well, and then boiled the shells for 5-10 mins. Tossed in my Vitamix with spinach, banana, and mango, I hardly knew they were there, other than the occasional gritty piece.
  • Thawed out a jar of chicken bone broth to drink with garlic and ginger, and made beef soup from the Christmas prime rib bones I’d kept in the freezer. I’ve had a cup of bone broth (at least) each day.
  • Continued to rub a paste of coconut oil, oregano oil, and Redmond Clay on my teeth and gums whenever I had any pain.

So in summary, I upped my mineral and calcium intake, my healthy oil intake to help with absorption, as well as using all the natural antibiotics and healing agents I reasonably could. Everything I read said to drink raw milk too, but it’s illegal in my county so that’s a no. I love cheese but generally count it as a luxurious treat, so added sharp cheddar to my menu the last few days.

 

Results:

Saturday was my roughest day. I’d implemented the above routine, but the pain was borderline of what I could bear, though once I started taking the arnica and hypericum, it was significantly better for a few hours at a time.

Sunday I was starting to feel a little better. The arnica/hypericum wore off about 7 AM, so I got up, took some more, and went right back to bed. I still had periods of nearly constant pain, but no swelling and more importantly, it wasn’t worse. The natural arnica and hypericum definitely knocked down the pain, though it wore off quickly enough that I contemplated taking it four times. I caved and smeared on a little Ambesol instead (not natural at all) so I could get another couple of hours of relief in between without overdosing.

 

Monday: My comfrey and plantain arrived. By then, I probably didn’t need these two items, but they’re not bad to have on hand. I took a pinch of dried plantain and crammed it up near the sore tooth like a wad of chew, holding it for 20 mins or so. It made me feel kind of funny as the plantain-flavored spit got swallowed. I’m thinking it was too strong, so if I do it again, I’ll soak the plantain first, pack in the wet herbs, and then maybe swish with the “tea” once I’m done. The comfrey is supposed to really help “knit” the bone and tooth back together but I haven’t actually used it yet. The plantain made me just a little queasy, so I thought I’d wait and see.

Tuesday: Very little sensitivity. If I rock my jaws back and forth (to get a ridge of my bottom tooth poked up into the filled cavity spot), I can “feel” the filling. The nerve zings me just a little, but nothing major. I’ve been able to chew softer things on that side without issue. I skipped the midday arnica/hypericum dose but took it at night. I also haven’t done much with the paste. Didn’t need to!

Summary:  At this time, I don’t feel like I need to rush to my dentist and beg him to pull out this tooth!

  • I think the arnica and hypericum helped immediately knock the pain down to something more bearable and speed the healing, while I worked on my nutrition.
  • The oil pulling has helped tremendously with sensitivity.
  • I don’t know that the high minerals and coconut oil/butter have helped, but they certainly haven’t hurt.
  • The plantain “wad” might have had some poultice/drawing out effect, but I’d already seen improvement at that point and I would do it differently next time.

I’ll keep with the oil pulling routine, even though it’s inconvenient and see if that’s enough to bring down the remaining sensitivity. Overall, I’m completely relieved and giddy that I can put off any dreaded major dental work for hopefully a long time!

Getting Unstuck – With Tarot

I blogged earlier that I was stuck on Billionaire #3 and started brainstorming the premise to figure out where I went wrong.  The final step for me to come up with a solution was flipping to my favorite tarot deck, The Steampunk Tarot.

That deck works fantastically for Lady Wyre’s universe, so I wasn’t sure if I’d get anything helpful on a contemporary idea or not. But it was worth a try.

Some background on this story idea:  When I first started working on this idea, for some reason I decided the heroine needed to change.  I built an entirely different backstory for her and gave her a different profession.  I loved what I built… but the story just died.  I couldn’t take it anywhere.

So the journaling and brainstorming I did first was to compare the original premise that I’d found lacking, and the newer premise that was a storykiller, and see if I could come up with a new (better) solution that solved all the issues my subconscious seemed to be having with both ideas.

My questions were about the heroine.  Who was she?  Why was she willing to step into this story in the first place?  What kind of woman is she?

Personally, I like to shuffle the deck 7 times and then spread them out in a line in front of me.  I don’t pick from the top.  I randomly drew 3 cards, flipped them over, and started taking notes one by one.

Note:  It’s important to LOOK at the card first, without reading anything the deck’s guide might have about it.  You’ll probably notice things that aren’t even mentioned in the guide that can add a cool layer to the story.

The cards I drew:

  • Queen of Wands
  • Seven of Pentacles
  • Five of Swords

This is one of the few times that the cards spoke perfectly to what I needed.  It’s not unusual for me to draw a card featuring a man when I’m trying to figure out a heroine.  That can still be helpful, but it’s not as “obvious.”  These cards were very obvious for this particular story.

Obviously the Queen of Wands is my heroine.  The first things I noted about her card without peeking at the book:  a riding crop (snickers, you know me so well), a sunflower, and a fox emblem that looks like a mask as part of the horse’s tack.  The book’s information about her was spot on.  This was my heroine to a T.  There are still several things I don’t know yet, but I’m hoping they come through slow revelation.

The Seven of Pentacles isn’t a character, but a message to me for this book. Yes, I should pause and take a full accounting.  Something’s not adding up.  There are good things in this idea, but not enough for success.  Evaluate.  (Which I was doing.)

The last card represents my hero, but also the book’s premise as well.  There are 3 main characters, two men and a woman, the same as my book.  One is obviously the “lord” or wealthy man.  Ditto.  It’s also a shifty deal-in-the-night-gone-bad sort of card — which my hero fully expects and experiences, even if that’s not his heroine’s intent.  The tarot guide says “He may have all the swords now, but I warrant someone will find something else to stab in his back.”

Oh yes indeed they will.

Now I feel like I can finish plotting this book!  I’m excited about it, where before I kept avoiding even opening my file.  Onward and upward.  I’ve got to hurry and get this one done, so I can change gears to Vincent’s story (Charlie’s brother).

NaNoWriMo 2014 – The End Edition

I knew I was close.  But the closer I got, the further away the end was.

The last scene went on.  And on.  And on.  Someone decided it’d be a great idea to add a small sex scene too.  I mean, it is a reunion scene, right?  They ought to be pretty happy.  But this tired, plus writing in the car for most of the evening with That Man’s crazy driving… Yeah, it was hard.

But I finally made it.

New personal record:  8,454 words today.

NaNoWriMo total:  48,573 words

Total book:  91,318 words, not including the last 30K of chapter breaks.

I have some [notes] to fix.  A read-thru is in order.  Then I’ll be shooting it off to my Beloved Sis.  If any other sweet souls would like to beta read this new book, drop me a note.

I was going to say I’m too tired for a snippet, but there’s one bit in particular that I wrote tonight that made me laugh.

If anyone but Charlie had brought me to this deserted location, I’d swear they were going to leave me out here to die.

P.S. There are howler monkeys in Belize.  I had to look it up for that scene.

P.S.S. I’ll be busting my ass the rest of the week to turn around edits on Bilionaire #2, FLEs on Never Let you Down, and an important first step for this book I just finished.  I have news coming soon!

NaNoWriMo 2014 Day 17

As usual with weekends, I don’t have a ton of wordage to show, but I did keep up with at least 1K a day and I’m still slightly ahead.  Even better, I got over the typical hump between end of Act 2 and beginning of Act 3.  The story is overall nearly at 75K, one of the longest books I’ve written in quite some time.

Even better:  I only have 10-20K left to write and this book is DONE.  GRINS HAPPY DANCE YAY!

NaNoWriMo total as of last night: 31,818

He fisted his hand in my hair and forced my gaze away, up to his face.  “This isn’t about what you want, Ranay.  This is about what I want.  I want you to stop me.  I want you to have a limit that you don’t allow me to cross.  I need to be able to trust you in this or we can’t be together.  I’m too dangerous otherwise.  I need you to be able to stop me.”

 

NaNoWriMo 2014 Day 12

No D&E this morning as expected.  Middle had a late basketball game last night so I didn’t even try for early today.  I did manage a couple of hundred words in the car after dimming my laptop screen so it didn’t affect That Man’s driving too much.

Story wise I’m on the very edge of the first shocking reveal.  Ranay is going to hear some very disturbing things.  Is it really Charlie’s work?  Or someone else?  But why would the FBI think it’s him…?  She’s on her own and heading into the darkest point of the story.

Yesterday’s final NaNo count: 24,634

Snippet:

His pants hung open enough to reveal the dark cotton of his briefs and the bulge hidden beneath.  He tugged the black T-shirt over his head, bare skin drawing my gaze up.  He was as lean as I suspected, chiseled muscle that made my mouth water.  More chest hair than I’d seen on a man before but not so much that I thought of a burly backwoodsman.  Both his left shoulder and pec bore ink.  From the eagle, flag, and skulls, I guessed some kind of hardcore military background, but I couldn’t concentrate on the design.

A silver ring was planted in his left nipple.

I could almost feel that metal between my teeth.

He stood silent and unassuming, not threatening or large.  His arms were loose at his sides, his shoulders down and relaxed.  Nothing screamed domination and control in his stance.

Until I dragged my gaze back up his body to his eyes.

I trembled.  I couldn’t help it.  The fire blazing in his dark eyes seared my brain to ash.  It took all my concentration to force out one word.  “Master.”

His eyes.  Always his eyes.  It was why I’d worked so hard at never really seeing him, or at least never meeting his gaze fully.  Once he saw what I really was, I knew I’d never be able to escape.  He needed no cuffs or chains or collars to bind me to him.  All he needed was that dark all-consuming need that swallowed me whole and left me crying for more.

NaNoWriMo 2014 Day 11

Made it two out of five days this week Dark & Early so far.  This morning, I got the most words I’ve ever gotten that early:  over 1400.  It was all dialogue and went quickly.  In fact, I’ve been writing to that scene … for quite some time now.

The bottom fell out.  Of everything.

Maybe it’s because this story started as a 35K novella, but I’ve always thought of it as three separate parts, each with its own three-act structure.  Part 1:  Owned.  It even “ended” with a high point for the romance.  Part 2:  Betrayed.  Yeah, that doesn’t sound good, does it?  This is the opposite.  Everything is falling apart.  Charlie is actually gone, completely off page.  I know what he’s doing, but Ranay (and the reader, since it’s first person) doesn’t.  I just brought the story to the end of that section.

Now all of the plot that’s been so carefully hinted at and laid down from the beginning is suddenly tightening into the real weave of the story.  Part 3: Redeemed.  This next part is suspense, dark, and probably violent.  It’s also going to be gut wrenching because Ranay is alone.

She has to be alone to pull this off.

Part 2 is currently 28K, which is about where I was thinking.  I allowed 30K but I think I need to go back and add a scene, so that was a pretty good guess.

Part 3 will be fast and furious, maybe shorter.  We’ll see.  I think I still need at least 20K to make everything happen and wrap up all the threads.  Possibly as much as 30K but that’s pushing it.

I may not have enough story to hit 50K for NaNo, but that’s okay.  I just want to finish the book!!

NaNoWriMo count as of this morning:  20,117

Snippet:

“What are you hard limits?”

“I don’t have any.”  He arched a brow, so I rushed to clarify.  “At least not that I’ve ever found.”

I’d lived as a full-time slave for a year and had a breakdown when I had to leave.  How could I have any limit if I allowed myself to fall into such a black hole?  Staring up into his eyes, I felt like I was tottering on the edge of an endless chasm.  One step toward him and I would fall.  Hard.  People said they fell in love all the time, head over heels, like it was wonderful.  Sunshine and bunnies and floaty hearts weren’t in my repertoire.  When I fell, I crashed like a flaming meteor that wiped out an entire planet.

“Well, we’re going to start slowly.  You have limits, whether you think so or not.  And if you don’t…”  He narrowed his eyes slightly but the full force of his determination rocked me back on my heels as he set me back on my feet.  “Then I’ll help you develop and enforce them.  You need to learn to protect yourself, especially from men like me.”

NaNoWriMo 2014 Day 9

Weekends are crazy around here.  I had to be up at 6:30 Sat. to get Middle around for basketball practice.  Then Littlest had two basketball games that morning (different location).  That Man took her to her first game, I picked up Middle from practice, and then we all went to watch Littlest’s last game.  Papa came down to watch, so then we went out to lunch and I did some tech support on his laptop when we got home.

After getting up so early, I was exhausted early, so each word was a struggle.

Then yesterday, I took Princess and Littlest to church and watched the remainder of the Chiefs game.  After that, Middle took my laptop to continue working on her presentation, so I got Dropbox installed on That Man’s (my old backup) laptop so I could still work.  But naturally she needed my help, so I got a couple of hundred words at the most.  We spent the rest of the evening doing homework.  She had to get this presentation done since she’s got a tournament this week (her first games!) and she’ll have other homework all week to struggle to keep up with.

Unfortunately, she remembered she had math and science homework too.  At 10 PM.  Which I had to help her with and then check all her math work too.  Ugh.  So it was after 11 PM last night before I got to bed and I had hardly anything to show for words all day.  That late, I thought it’d be difficult to get up D&E this morning, but I actually woke up at 4 AM and then had a hard time going back to sleep until the alarm went off.

Miracle of miracles, I made over 1K this morning too, bringing my total to 15,975.  I’m still behind, but that’s a doable amount to make up.

As I said above, Middle has a tournament this week and it’s a 30-45 min drive away.  Wed. night she doesn’t play until almost 9 PM, so it’ll be late, lots of traveling, and somehow we have to get her homework done too.  D&E will be crucial even if I’m exhausted or I’ll never be able to keep up this week.

PLUS, I have first round edits on Billionaire #2 in my inbox, and line/final edits on Mama C are just around the corner.  Busy, busy, busy.

Snippet:

“Hear me now, Ranay.”

His voice made me shiver, all raw and barely leashed violence.  I’d never imagined he hid that kind of aggression behind his sweet dimples and curly hair, but I loved it.  Oh how I loved it.  He was my bad boy and my Master and my gentle lover all wrapped up into one tidy package.

“I never break my promises.  Never.  If you give yourself to me, I will treasure you.  If you feel weak, I’ll help make you strong.  If you have a need, I’ll meet it, whatever it is.  And if at any time I’m not good for you, then I will free you to protect you.  I won’t leave you high and dry, alone and afraid, but I refuse to tear down anything you’ve built for yourself.  If you need to be free, I’ll do it,” he said, his left hand rising up toward his right eye, “even if I have to take a bullet to the skull.”

NaNoWriMo 2014 Day 6

NaNoWriMoParticipant2014_zpsdddc8654

Graphic courtesy of Lynn Viehl.

I’m still grinding through that same BDSM scene (that just started to turn into a sex scene Dark & Early this morning).

Fun Fact:  I ought to go figure out my longest scene ever and then count the words in this one and see if I beat it.  There are scene breaks — to give the reader time to draw breath — but there’s no break in location or anything like that.  They’re still going at it.

I made it D&E every day this week!  Even this morning.  Fridays are hard and I usually want to sleep in, but NaNoWriMo doesn’t care whether it’s Friday or whether the monsters have basketball games/practices early tomorrow (they do).

Still lost my laptop awhile last night so Middle could continue working on her presentation, but she didn’t get home until after 7, so I had plenty of time to get work done first.  My eyes were pooped by then anyway.

2480 words yesterday, bringing my total to 11,330.

Snippet:

I waited for him to make some lame excuse or joke, to blow me off.  I’m damaged goods.  I should have known I couldn’t hide it from him for long.  Though I’d hoped I would at least have had a night or two to tie me over for the rest of my life.  I smiled at him wistfully.  “Is it okay if I still watch Sheba tonight?  Then I won’t bother you again.”

His face tightened into grim lines that melted the ice sealing off my heart and sent it thumping frantically.  He cupped my chin and squeezed hard enough I’d probably have red marks on my face.

God it felt good.  Too good.  I couldn’t imagine not ever having someone touch me like this again.  Who knew effortlessly what I needed before I could even voice it.

“You’d better bother me again.  It’s taken me a year to figure out how to get the truth out of you.  Don’t give up on me so quickly, Ranay.”

RT14

I made it to New Orleans for my third Romantic Times conference! My roomie, Ann Martin, and I had a blast touring around the Garden District and French Quarter today. We walked nearly five miles even though we also took the streetcar frequently (best $3 we spent all day).

The first place I wanted to visit was the Lafayette Cemetery. I was thinking Marie Laveau was buried there, but she’s actually in St Louis #1, so we crossed over there and then dropped down into the Quarter to have some beignets.

It was hot and humid – so bad I had to take a second shower before venturing out for dinner (and sunburned my shoulders since I forget sunscreen). Ann had a librarian event so I was on my own. I headed back to Daisy Duke’s since it was right across the street and familiar. Standing in the door waiting to be seated, I saw someone wave me over and ask if I was with RT. She invited me to eat with her party …. and then I realized she was Shiloh Walker! Talk about nice! We had a great dinner.

Now I’m already back to the room and trying not to dose off. I’m such a party animal! Even made a cup of crappy coffee but still can’t keep my eyes open.

Ann and I are planning to head to the Mississippi water front tomorrow morning since events don’t start until 10. Maybe we’ll hit Cafe DuMonde!

If you’d like to see pictures, head on over to Facebook. I posted a lot!