Monday, February 19, 2018

How to: Microplot

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you had a fantastic weekend and are ready to crank out the words this week! Today, I'm talking about microplotting. You know, that thing you do when you're furiously writing your novel. Oh! You don't do that? Don't know how? Well, sit back, relax, sip your coffee, and read on!


Some people have a detailed plot when they sit down to write their novels. If that's you, this post isn't your friend. But if you're of the other kind, the plansters, who only know where the story begins and ends when you start writing, and maybe have a couple of plot points you want to hit along the way, you may find this useful.

Microplotting isn't a long, drawn-out plot. You make decisions on the fly about what's going to happen to your characters, and you type them out like so:

In this chapter:
Beatrice will discover who has betrayed her.
How that happens:
She finds the key.
She opens the door.
She reads the riddle.
She solves the riddle, but has to seek help from Hayman to do so.
When Hayman reads the riddle, he becomes ill.
Beatrice must speak the answer aloud.
The betrayer's name appears in smoke, and it disappears just before Hayman comes to.

Then, you go above the microplot and write furiously. When you're typing out the microplot points, that's when you look up any names or important features you want to remember as you're writing. If there's something you don't know or forgot to include, type XXX in the place of the item and move on. Keep writing. Don't slow down to look it up. If you're consistent with your marker type, then you can do a find later and take the time to fact check or do research.

Microplotting can push your novel to a whole new level, but be careful of getting sidetracked. Stay on the path to the conclusion you're pushing toward. It's fun.

I don't know about all of you, but every time I've tried plotting out each chapter, I fail and end up having to scrap it and re-do the whole thing. Now, I go high-level plot points and fill in the blanks as I write. My loose outlines look something like this:
Chapter 1 - Introduce character, tone, and setting. Be sure to drop nuggets of what's coming (the beginning of change from now to the end).
Chapter 2 - Beatrice gets in trouble at school for something and a letter is sent home.
Chapter 3 - Beatrice is grounded because of the letter, and she ends up acting out at school again in some way.
Chapter 4 - Beatrice is suspended.
Chapter 5 - Beatrice meets Mark, and he ignores her because she's a "bad girl" (this makes her want to change because she really likes him).
... other chapters I fill in like the ones above.
Last Chapter - Beatrice and Mark finally get together.

So, in each chapter, I microplot how to flesh it out once I get there. Those outlines are treated as living documents and are changed often.

I hope this helps some of you when you're sprinting!

Did you find this useful? What do you do when writing? Plotter? Pantser? Plantser? Hit me with your process!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Friday, February 16, 2018

Let's Stop Talking About Gun Control and Mental Health

Hello, good people of the blogosphere. Today, I'm going on a NSFW rant and providing a realistic action plan for those of you that are interested in being the change you want to see happen. Get your coffee ready, because... Well, you may be here a while.
Earlier this week, there was yet another shooting at a school, taking seventeen more young lives. Understandably, people are pissed. I'm pissed. I'm sure you're pissed.

Those seventeen lives were just beginning.

Those seventeen lives matter.

As of today, those seventeen join many, many more in a string of senseless MURDERS at SCHOOLS. Let's call them what they are.

School is a place my child should be safe. It's supposed to be the fucking government's responsibility to CARE for, and PROTECT my child when she's not with me.

But they're failing to do that.

Let's look at some 100% honesty right now:
  • Shooter drills AREN'T WORKING (they were in place in Florida and activated - seventeen children STILL DIED).
  • Americans will NEVER give up their guns, and the US will NEVER try to force its citizens to give up their guns.
  • Most schools in the US are on a limited budget, hence metal detectors can't be afforded.
  • A majority of kids aren't as supervised nowadays as they were even ten years ago by their parents.
  • When kids see counselors at school, the kids aren't feeling heard (if they feel as though they can go to the counselor in the first place, that is).
  • Guns are too accessible.
  • Talking about mental illness and praying isn't doing DICK.

So, rather than scream at the media, march to show how you feel, or post a rant on Facebook about how GUNS ARE EVIL AND SHOULD BE DESTROYED, how about you do something in your own community?

ACT. Don't just talk about how pissed you are.

An action plan that just might work:
  • Get involved. Go to the school and talk to the principal or the PTO person. Get all the parents in your community together in a MANDATORY meeting. You don't show up? Your kid gets suspended until you attend a meeting. The worst thing the principal can say is no, and if he/she does that, ORGANIZE A MEETING OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL ON YOUR OWN. Don't fucking give up.
  • Harsh? You BET YOUR ASS IT IS.
  • But it's time to make people stand up and take responsibility for their own kids' actions. It's time to get them INVOLVED in preventing this shit from happening AGAIN.
  • Involve local law enforcement. Have those wonderful folks in blue come in and teach child/gun safety to EVERY parent (that's what your meeting is about). In school or out of school, MAKE THIS HAPPEN.
  • Hold a community fundraiser to buy trigger locks the officers can give away for free and use them to teach people how to use and how to keep firearms SAFE and out of the hands of our fucking kids!
  • Have the counselor talk to the parents about recognizing signs of depression and thoughts of violence.
  • Visit EVERY GUN STORE within a 30 mile radius of YOUR house, and ask them what THEY'RE doing to vet the people who come in to buy firearms. Demand change if need be. These stores have a responsibility to act in a way that makes the cities they sell guns in safer. 
  • Ask local law enforcement to visit the stores regularly and do checks. FOLLOW UP.
  • Do a fund raiser to help PAY for those metal detectors we ALL want so very badly.
  • People will follow you. They're SCARED. And they have every right to be. Sometimes, people just need a leader with a loud, strong voice.
Don't talk about change. Be the change. Make the change happen.

If ONE person in every school district takes these safety matters into their own hands, that takes care of the whole US.

It just takes one person to make a difference.

This action plan won't be 100%, but it'll CERTAINLY reduce the likelihood of more of this shit happening a great deal.

Parents HAVE to be involved. Don't wait or depend on the government to do something.

DO SOMETHING.

I'll be doing something, because I refuse to sit by and let fear of sending my child to school be a chain around my damned neck. I want her to live, grow up to be whatever she wants, have the chance to fall in love, get married, and have children of her own.

I do NOT want some angry little bastard to get a bug up their ass and take her life before she's even begun to live it.

HELL NO. FUCK THAT.

Sorry for the language today. Y'all have anything to add?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Emancipation Wins Silver in the Chapter of Excellence Contest by WAD

Happy Thursday, everyone! Today's post... Oh my goodness. I was so excited last night when I got an e-mail announcing that Emancipation took a silver award in the Chapter of Excellence Contest held by Writers After Dark. I have to share some of the details! Grab your coffee, or tea, and let's get going!

Here's all the details about the book (gonna start there):

Title: Emancipation (Pen Pals and Serial Killers - Story 1)
Author: Jo Michaels
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Length: 70k
Buy Link: Amazon Kindle  ~ Paperback

Blurb:
Tobias Butler has been sitting on death row since being sentenced for a gruesome murder in 2007. Bored out of his mind, he decided to apply to the online pen pal program in 2012. It's a pleasant distraction—nothing more, nothing less—for three years, until he's contacted by a beautiful, smart young lawyer named Jess. She's convinced he's innocent and wants to see him freed. As they organize their attack on the judicial system, he wonders how she plans to get his conviction overturned—because he's guilty, and he knows it. Jess is desperate to release him—and he's desperate to feel his hands squeeze the life out of her once she does.

Information about the contest:
Writers were to submit either the prologue or chapter one to the contest, and each entry was judged by how well that chapter gripped the reader, making them want to find out more.

Click here to see ALL the winners. There are some awesome books on there, and I'm humbled to be included among them. 

Here's my certificate:

EEP! So excited! Huge thanks to WAD for everything they do.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Author Life ABCs - C

Happy Wednesday again, everyone! So, for your second post today, I'm back on my Author Life ABCs with the letter C. Today's topic is appropriate, I feel, because it's also Valentine's Day. We're out there spreading the love so our friends and family have an amazing day. What I want to know is what you're doing for yourself today. Let's chat about my word and the topic a bit. Ready? Hold on to your desk, and let's get going!


Today's word is:

Crossfit
/ˈkrôsˌfit/
noun - trademark
noun: CrossFit; noun: Cross Fit
A high-intensity fitness program incorporating elements from several sports and types of exercise.

Stay with me! I'm not talking about Crossfit for your body, so let's rename it to CrossCT (Cross Creative Training).

That's right, a one-hour exercise program for writers to keep our brains engaged and active. I hope y'all try this! I'm gonna! Ready? 3, 2, 1, GO!
  • 5 minutes of hard and fast writing only dialogue
  • 10 minutes, new characters, describing scene
  • 5 minutes, same characters, short world-building in a genre other than your own
  • 5 minutes learning the definition of a new word by randomly flipping open the dictionary and popping your finger down
  • 10 minutes, four new characters telling the reader their first impressions of one another
  • 5 minutes of micro-plotting
  • 5 minutes of speed editing the first dialogue you wrote
  • 10 minutes of prose with no dialogue using the word you just learned
  • 5 minutes of typing out a conversation with one of your characters

And you're done! That seems fun, right? Anyway, what I'm trying to get to here is that you should take terms and things you're familiar with and apply them to your writing. Have some fun. Flex your muscles!

Never stop learning how to write, market, and do. This is your career.

What do you think? You gonna give it a whirl?

I'll post my results sometime next week. Should be fun!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Photoshop 101.3 - Magnetic Lasso Tool

Happy Wednesday! You're getting two posts today and two posts tomorrow! I'm playing catch up, and I can't WAIT to show you all what I've been working on, but it'll have to wait until the author is ready to share it. :) Today, for this first post, I'm going to introduce you to a tool called the magnetic lasso. It's really nifty! Grab your coffee, or tea, and let's get going, shall we?




So? What did you all think of that one? Did you learn anything new or useful?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Friday, February 9, 2018

Fun Fact Friday - Obscurities

Happy Friday, everyone! I'm so looking forward to the weekend. Are you? Kicking back, relaxing, and spending time with family is like a dream come true. Today, I'm giving you a few obscure facts you'll be able to share with people over the weekend (and maybe discuss the ins and outs of). Ready? Grab your coffee, or tea, and let's get going!


  • There are about 40k injuries per year (to Americans) due to toilets.
  • The number of licks it really takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop is 142.18.
  • The man who invented the Pringles can was buried in one.
  • All the swans in England belong to the Queen.
  • This # is an octotroph.
  • This ~ is a tilde.
  • Deer can't eat hay.
  • You can catch leprosy from an armadillo.
  • Grapes explode when you microwave them.
  • Your lipstick probably contains fish scales.
  • A jiffy is actually 1/100th of a second.
  • About 100 people die every year from choking on a ball-point pen.
  • An infant doesn't have kneecaps; they grow between age two and six.
  • Jellyfish are 95% water.
  • Words with no rhyming counterpart: month, orange, silver, and purple.
  • Honey is the only food that doesn't spoil.
  • It's against the law to catch fish with your bare hands in Kansas.
  • Most people fear spiders more than death.
So, there are your obscure facts for this week. I hope you have some fun whipping these out on your family over the weekend.

Do you have one to share? Pop it in the comments below!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Giveaway on the IBGW Blog! - Eternal Earth - PNR

Happy Thursday, everyone! Today, I'm sharing a giveaway that just rolled out over on the IBGW blog and giving you all a little info on how you can get in on the action. Ready? Get your clicking fingers warmed up, and let's get going!
At INDIE Books Gone Wild, we always do a giveaway when one of our author's books goes live. We also send out a newsletter so these giveaways land right in your inbox. No, we don't spam, and yes, we ONLY send giveaways. Signup link for the newsletter is in the Rafflecopter below, and it's always one of the entry options (that means a free entry every time for our subscribers).

Here's the book up for grabs today:

Title: Eternal Earth (A House Series Novel)
Author: Layla Omorose
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Length: 284 pages
Buy Link: Amazon $0.99


Synopsis:


AN OBSESSION HE COULDN'T CONTROL

For over a year, Adien, the Trinity Hound of Earth. has watched Harmony Sonders from a distance. Silently protecting her from his enemies and those who sought to harm her...including himself. One look from her is enough to have him longing for the one thing he never wanted...

A MAN SHE DARED TO TAME

Harmony Sonders has spent the last few years piecing herself back together after escaping a marriage that nearly killed her. With her life finally where she wants it, the last thing she needed was for another man to come and throw her world into chaos... and that's exactly what Adien Tygerian does. A wicked temptation, he awakens a side of her she didn't know existed... a piece of her that demands she claim what is rightfully hers and damned the consequences. 

A DESIRE THAT WILL ROCK THEIR WORLD

With their enemies gathering their forces and the birth of a new power at hand, can Adien and Harmony break down the walls that guard their hearts and take hold of a love like they've never known to protect the ones they love or will the ghosts of their pasts lead to their damnation?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Meet a Book Blogger - Twinsie Talk Book Reviews (Angie Stanton)

*Waves* Hi. My name is Angie. I own and run Twinsie Talk Book Reviews with 4 other FANTASTIC ladies. Our blog will read and reviews any genre of romance book. We generally just grab something one of the 5 of us like and read it. Some of the authors we read are one-click favorites and some we find from review requests sent to us. We started blogging as mainly an erotica or paranormal blog but added more bloggers so more genres are now being covered. I THINK straight up horror is the only genre we don’t read.


We started blogging in October 2012 because we were so involved in a lot of authors' street teams. We felt blogging was the next logical step to scream out the love for our authors. We thought getting 1,000 followers would be cool…now we can’t wait to hit 14,000!!

Some people ask what our review style is……. Is Hot Mess a style??? LOL When I write a review I sit and purge my thoughts on paper. I am writing it like I am telling my best friend about the book. There are guaranteed to be typos or some kinda crazy grammer with ….. and a lot of !!!!! and lots of #Hashtags but that is totally me……. off the cuff and just spilling what I need you to know about the story.

If you are looking for a review that says something like “Mrs. Smith delighted us with her current release” type of review…. I am Not your girl. If you want a review that says “Sweet Baby Jesus she did it again and I am loving this book!” come and sit by me 😊

Unfortunately, because if Amazon banning bloggers for no reason, a few of us are in the naughty corner but the other still post reviews on Amazon. We all post on Goodreads and do a blog post for all our reviewed books. If you need a book review posted to B&N we will as long as we know to do it because we generally don’t have authors asking for reviews there.

Well thanks so much for reading my rambling. We hope you will jump over and say hi or even give us a like. We are always looking for new to us authors so if you can, please comment with an author you love and then we can maybe find a new author for us to love as well!!

Web: http://www.Twinsietalk.com
Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/Twinsietalk
Twitter: https://www.Twitter.com/Twinsietalk
Tsu: http://www.Tsu.co/Twinsietalk
IG: http://www.instagram.com/twinsietalk
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/brwkPv

Thanks so much for dropping by, Angie! It was awesome to meet you! Y'all go give this little lady some love!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Tuesday Motivation - Decide What Kind of Day You'll Have

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Whew! Monday is gone. Thank goodness. Mondays always feel so long, don't they? It's like the day that doesn't stop, even though it's really just a twenty-four-hour day like every other. Anyway, welcome to Tuesday! Today, I'm gonna talk about a quote I read on Instagram from @in_gratitude_tv (you can click their name to give them a follow—I highly recommend you do) that I liked a lot. It resonated with me. Why? Well, grab your coffee, or tea, and let's chat about it.

Here's the quote I'm referring to:
This is true no matter who you are. As soon as you open your eyes, you either allow your brain to flood with dread or hope for the following hours you'll be awake and living life. You can either look for the bad things coming during the day, or you can focus on the positive.

Trust me, I've been in some of the most horrifying situations imaginable, and I never lost my positive outlook because I chose not to.

Every day's feeling is a choice, and the decision about how you're going to handle it lies in your hands. Yes, each and every day. As an author, I can wake up and think about that negative review, dwell on it, let it worry me, and let it drag my spirits through the mud, or I can think about those positive reviews, let them lift me up, embrace them, and let those words fuel me through another day.

It's my choice.

If I have difficult things to navigate through outside of author life, I can either choose to allow them to overwhelm me, or I can think about how to slay them, turn them around and make them work for me.

For several years, I battled the lowest of lows. I'm sure many of you wake up and feel like the day is crap and all you want is for it to end. The mindset spoken of in the quote is how I pulled myself out and allowed myself to be a happier human being.

With me, I had this habit of staying in bed after my alarm and wallowing in all the negative things I saw in the day ahead, dwelling on my past mistakes, dreading what the day would bring. I turned it around by making myself leap (yes, an actual leap) to my feet and instantly giving thanks for all the things I had. I focused on one thing I was looking forward to that day and was grateful to have the ability to learn something new. Then, I gave myself "me" time, of one hour, to drink coffee and do something I enjoyed without thinking about anything else. That meant I had to get up an hour before anyone else in my house, but it worked. I wasn't stressed by the time I saw people because I'd started my day for ME.

Now, it's a natural act. I don't even have to think about being grateful; I'm filled with gratitude instantly.

I still carve out my time every morning (no matter what) because I know I need to do that in order to be the best me I can be.

Guess what else? No one gave it to me. I had to take it. With five (small) children at home, being a full-time student (22 hours a semester) that maintained a 4.0 GPA in one of the most difficult programs at my college, being the primary care-giver (also, maintenance man, lawn person, etc...) for my household, and dealing with a ton of medical crap, I still made it happen. You can, too.

Here's my task for you today (if you're not doing this already): Find out what that "thing" is that will start your day off right, and figure out how to make it happen for you. Make it happen each and every morning.

Find your happy. Take it. Choose what kind of day you're going to have.

Do you do any of this? What's your morning thing?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Monday, February 5, 2018

How to: Photoshop 101.2

Happy Monday, everyone! Today's post is, once again, about Photoshop. We're looking at the selection tool and all the options therein. Grab your coffee, or tea, and let's get going!




What did you think? Are you getting anything out of the videos?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Friday, February 2, 2018

New Release - Savage Beauty

Happy Friday, everyone! Well, today was supposed to be a guest post, but no one sent me anything. Ha! That's okay, though, because there's a fabulous new release by Casey L. Bond I'm able to share with you all instead. Ready? Grab your coffee, or tea, and let's get going!



Title: Savage Beauty
Author: Casey L. Bond
Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tales
Length: 296 pages
Buy Link: Amazon Kindle

Blurb:
Once upon a time, a beautiful queen was cursed by a dark faery. That curse, inherited by twin princesses, Aura and Luna, binds their lives in the strangest of ways. At an early age, the girls were more than sisters. They were the strongest of allies until a combination of jealousy, anger and dark magic tore their relationship to shreds.

Aura took everything from Luna: her home, her family, and her love by murdering the prince who’d chosen her instead of Aura.

Luna wants revenge, but she’s running out of time. She must sever the magical bond tying her life to Aura’s before their eighteenth birthday or be bound to her forever. In desperation, she seeks help from a dark fae prince, but the price is steep – a piece of her soul.

Fate is a real witch. Luna was willing to give up anything to stop her sister, until Prince Phillip of Grithim, the brother of the only man she’s ever loved, falls into her life. Neither of them can fight their attraction, despite their guilt.

With Aura hell-bent on destroying everything she holds dear, Luna must decide whether she wants revenge or Phillip. She can’t have both, and in the end, this may be a battle both sisters lose.

**Savage Beauty is a fairy tale retelling of Sleeping Beauty... with fae witches.

~~~~~


What do you think? Will you be snagging it?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Book Excerpt #2 - Provocation - Pen Pals and Serial Killers - Story Two

Happpppy Thursdaaaaaay, everyone! I'm so freaking pumped! Provocation is now sitting at 40k, and I'm nearing the end of this harrowing tale. You're all going to love this one. Today's excerpt is chapter 2, but I'm changing a bit of the language to make it safe for work, so the actual book won't be quite as tame as this. Not sorry! *grin* I'm gonna start by telling you a little about this chapter, and how it came to be, and then we'll move on to book details and the excerpt! Ready? Grab your coffee, or tea, and let's get going!

Provocation was meant to be written solely from Victoria's POV. When she started thinking about the past, her mother jumped in and wagged her finger at me. "I need my story to be told, too. It's more important than you realize," she said.

Okaaaaay. Yeah. I'm just the writer. These characters own this story, ya know? So, I ditched everything I'd written up to that point and started over, giving dear Jane her voice. Oh, what a voice it turned out to be! I think you're going to love what she made me to do this book. I realize now that it's the only way I could've told this story and have you understand fully.

So, I send a huge round of applause and thanks to Jane Ward for forcing me to give her a voice.

I hope you enjoy! Kindly remember this hasn't been edited yet. Raw! LOL  If you missed it, the first excerpt can be found here.

Book details:

Title: Provocation - Pen Pals and Serial Killers - Story Two
Author: Jo Michaels
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Length (guessing): ~ 60k
Release Date: Spring, 2018

Blurb:

Doctor Victoria Ward has been killing men for over thirty years. Her victims all have one thing in common: they’re abusive. Righteousness is a close companion—it helps her sleep at night—and she holds the virtue closely as she defends the innocent, upholding the law when it won’t rise to protect those who need it most. When she meets a young girl named Kelly, and follows her down a twisted path of deception, Doc Ward finds herself face-to-face with a ghost from her past. Never before has she wavered in her resolve—but can she defend another against someone she loves?

~~~

BEGIN EXCERPT

~~~



Chapter 2


Jane

“Mommy! Come look!”
Jane stood in the kitchen, her hands covered in flour, splotches of white dappling her apron, too. She turned and smiled, wincing with the movement. “Just a second, Vicki. Mommy’s got to clean up first.”
“Hurry, hurry!”
Laughing, she rinsed her hands and followed her daughter out the door, dishtowel flapping. “What is it, baby?”
Vicki gestured to a huge pile of rocks in the middle of the driveway, mud oozing down the tower’s sides, twigs sticking out at odd angles. She planted her small fists on her hips and lifted her chin. “I built a house! Just like Daddy does!”
Panic blazed through Jane at the speed of a supersonic jet. If Hank came home and saw… If he had to clean or move… No way could his truck get past that monstrosity, and it would probably rip the oil pan a new asshole in the process.
Her daughter’s face fell. “What’s wrong, Mommy?” Tears built in her eyes. “Don’t you like it?”
Shaking but smiling, Jane lifted her wrist to check the time as she answered, “I love it, baby.” Shit. He’ll be home in twenty minutes. No time. “Now, why don’t we get it cleaned up so Daddy can get up the driveway when he comes home?”
“Noooooooo! I wanna show it to Daddy, too!” Vicki wailed.
As the seconds ticked by, Jane’s heart thudded harder in her chest. She knelt and looked Vicki in the eyes. “I can’t even tell you how proud I am of you and how special this beautiful house is to me. Right now, though, I need you to be a big girl and help Mommy move it so Daddy doesn’t break his truck by running over it. You built it so big and so strong, not even his big ole truck could get past it.”
A giggle.
“That’s my girl. Now, could you please go get your brother and tell him to bring a shovel and wheelbarrow and come help?”
A nod.
“Thank you! Run! Go fast!”
Vicki sped across the yard, pigtails bouncing.
Jane turned to survey the pile and lifted her wrist. Fifteen minutes. There’s no way. Slinging the dishtowel over her shoulder, she plunged her hands into the mess, throwing the rocks as hard and as far as she could, praying none of them were found by the bush hog.
A few minutes later, Grant flew around the side of the house, pushing a wheelbarrow with a shovel in it. When he saw the rock pile, he asked, “Vicki do this?”
Jane nodded, moisture pooling on her bottom lids.
“Mom, why can’t you just explain it to her?”
“She’s too little to understand, Grant.”
“I’m not a baby!” Victoria yelled. “I’m six!”
Her brother brought his face within an inch of hers. “Then why do you act like one? Doing things like this!”
“I did it for Mommy and Daddy!” Her plump cheeks quivered, and tears dripped down to her chin. Pressing her lips together, chin jutting forward, she stomped to the rock pile and kicked it.
“It’s wonderful, Vicki. Calm down. We just have to get it moved before Daddy gets home, okay?” Jane could feel her patience wearing thin. They needed to get busy. She checked her watch and cursed silently. Ten minutes. “Okay, let’s get this moved!”
Grant and Vicki worked on loading the wheelbarrow and spreading rocks over the driveway while Jane continued to pitch them toward the woods. It was a brutally hot West Virginia day, and by the time they’d demolished the pile, she was wringing wet and nearly out of time.
“Okay. You two go play on the swing set. I’ll call you when supper’s ready. Dump these by the cellar house, and put the wheelbarrow back for me?”
Both the children gave her a quick hug, Vicki jumped into the cart on top of the rocks, and Grant pushed as he ran.
Arm shaking, Jane glanced at her watch before grabbing the shovel and sprinting toward the house. Two minutes. She put the shovel by the door, flew down the hall while stripping off her dress and apron, and raced to the closet. Dirty clothes went in the hamper, and a new dress and apron were in place in a moment. In the bathroom, she carefully patted her face with a cool rag, removed any dirt smudges, and smoothed her hair.
One minute. Roaring sounds came from the driveway, forcing her heart rate into the stratosphere. She had to be back in that kitchen when he came in, up to her elbows in something food related.
“Honey, I’m home!” Hank sauntered through the door and dropped his tool belt on the floor before holding his arms open wide.
“How was your day, dear?” Jane asked as she kissed him on the cheek and let him pull her in for a hug, careful to keep her flour-covered hands held high.
He looked down at her and stared, brows pulled together, like he was trying to work something out.
Fear’s icy black tendrils snaked around her. He knows… “Hank?”
A wide grin broke out on his face, and he tapped her nose. “You have flour all over you, but you’re so beautiful.”
Jane’s face got hot as relief flooded her. She smiled and kissed him again. Let him think it’s because he flattered me.
“Somethin’ smells good,” he said.
“It’s a deer loin. I’ve been roasting it all afternoon.” She moved away from him and went back to her task.
“What’s for desert?”
“Blackberry pie. I’m about to get it in the oven. I know how you like it hot.” No thought required, her hands skillfully rolled the pie crust out on the counter, flipped it over the rolling pin, and settled it over the dish.
“I do love hot pie.”
“Why don’t you go wash up? Supper will be on the table by the time you get back.”
With a grunt, he left.
Jane’s eyes slid closed, and she inhaled and exhaled, relief forcing hot air through her lips.
By the time he returned, she had the table set, pie in the oven, the children washed and seated, and piping hot food ready and waiting to be consumed.
His eyes flitted to his place, and he frowned.
She leapt from her chair, apologized, and fixed his glass of whiskey. Stupid! How could you forget? Hands shaking, causing the ice to clatter on the sides of the glass, she put the drink down and returned to her seat.
He picked it up and took a long draw, breathing heavily as the stress of the day whooshed out.
Everyone sat in silence and waited. It was several minutes before he spoke.
“Let’s get this over with.” One meaty paw extended on either side, grasping the hands of his wife and son, Hank led the prayer. “Amen.”
Jane filled his plate first then tended the children. Her hands were still shaking. No way would he let that slip up about the drink go unpunished. Question was: Would it be sooner or later? As she pondered, she worried for the children, especially Grant. He’d grown bolder over the previous year, and his last attempt at intervention damned near put him in the hospital.
They ate quietly, and Jane refilled Hank’s glass twice during the meal.
An odd smell infiltrated her nose as she was putting another piece of cornbread on Grant’s plate. Once again, terror gripped her as she realized what was happening. She sprang from her chair and ran for the kitchen, jerking the oven open, grabbing a dishtowel at the same time.
Her beautiful latticed pie was dark brown on top. Burned. Ruined. She would pay dearly. That was two mistakes. No amount of rutting would be enough; Hank would demand flesh.
“Burned that pie?” His voice floated through the air like an ominous shadow—threatening, carrying with it the promise of pain.
Tears carved their way free and raced to her chin. No. She wouldn’t let him see her like that. That’s what he wanted. Inhaling, she put the pie on the counter, threw down the dishtowel, wiped her face with the back of her hands, and slunk back to her chair. “I did. I’m sorry. I just forg—” His forearm collided with her face, and she fell backward, head slamming against the wood floor. Stars exploded in her vision.
“Stupid woman! You can’t even bake a freaking pie! What good are you?”
Instantly, Vicki starting crying.
“Go to your rooms!” He roared.
Both children fled.
Only Vicki paused at the doorway, looking back at her mother with wide, sad eyes full of tears. Then the child scurried away.
Each time Hank’s fist or foot collided with Jane’s body, she gasped. Insults fell on deaf ears, and she still held in tears she refused to let him see.
Finally, after he’d worked his rage out on her already tender frame once again, he collapsed on the couch. “Why do you make me do this? Why can’t you get it right? Just once.”
“I’m sorry, Hank.” Her voice sounded tinny and disconnected, far away and hollow. Nearly unrecognizable to her own ears.
“Yes. Yes, you are. You’re one sorry piece of crap. But I love you. I don’t wanna have to beat you to make you do right.” He stood up and walked toward the bedroom. “Clean this craphole up. When you’re done, come and tend to your husband’s needs.”
Vibrations from his feet striking the floor radiated through her brain. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t think. She could only be.
I am nothing.
Vicki’s door was partially open, and one eye could be seen through the sliver of a crack.
A single tear slipped down Jane’s face.


~~~

END EXCERPT

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Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo