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Fairy Tale Blogfest

I just couldn't pass us up Emily's Fairy Tale Blogfest.  You can go here to see the list of other entries.  I hope I didn't embarass myself too bad with this.  :)  Enjoy....I hope.

“Are you sure he’s following us, Hank?” my little sister whispered. “I can’t see him anywhere.”

“Don’t worry Gretchen, he’s back there,” I whispered in return, making sure to keep my eyes pointed straight ahead. “Go ahead and drop another one.”

Out of the corner of my eye I watched as her little hands dug inside her basket and pulled out the chocolate kiss, wrapped in a shiny silver wrapper, then let it tumble to onto the path.

I kept my eye on Tilly to make sure she didn’t look back over her shoulder and notice my sister following my instructions. I had debated long and hard about letting Gretchen drop the kisses as we went along, afraid she might not be able to pull it off and get them both caught, but the basket she always carried with her was a perfect hiding place. Besides, she was so low to the ground it was a piece of cake for her to do it unnoticed.

I’m not sure how long we’ve been walking. Probably hours. The sun was high in the sky and the temperature had risen to the point where I already had to shed my sweatshirt, tying it around my waist. The trail we were on, if you could call it that, had disappeared long ago and now we seemed to just be taking what free space the forest could spare. I could hear Tilly several yards ahead of us, cursing under her breath and making less of an effort to conceal it. Why should she? Who we going to tell?

Out of nowhere we broke into a small clearing. In its center were a couple of fallen trees, Tilly went straight to one and propped her foot up on one. She scanned the area, considering something, then seemed to make up her mind.

“This’ll do,” she said. She slung her backpack from her shoulders to a spot next to the tree and sat down.

“I thought you said we were going to see a waterfall,” I asked.

“Change of plans.” She pulled out the water bottle from the side of her backpack and drew on it heavily.

“Can I have some water?” Gretchen raised her hand.

Tilly eyed my sister as she continued sucking water from the bottle until it was all gone.

“Oops…all gone.”

It was all I could do to not jump on her and claw those teasing eyes out. “You have another bottle in your backpack.”

“That’s for the walk back and we have to conserve it.”

“But my sisters thirsty now!”

“It’s okay, Hank,” Gretchen offered meekly.

“SHE CAN WAIT!” Tilly responded with a raised voice, her usual way of ending any discussion. In her mind…volume equaled superior reasoning.

“If our mom were here….” I started, with no real intention of finishing the thought.

Tilly stuffed the empty bottle back into her backpack, laughing. “That would be just fine with me…then I wouldn’t have to put up with the two of you anymore.”

Suddenly there was a commotion behind us. I turned just in time to see our Uncle Brett stumbling out of the woods where we had just emerged.

“It’s about friggin’ time,” his girlfriend Tilly said.

I did my best to look surprised. “I thought you were staying back at the camp Uncle Brett?”

“I bet you did. I also bet you didn’t think anybody would catch that trail of kisses you left behind?” Brett’s smile with those foul teeth looked awful on a good day, but now it seemed downright evil.

Tilly’s face first registered confusion, and then anger. She took three giants steps and yanked Gretchen’s basket out of her hands before I could make a move to stop her. She dug into the basket, tossing out dolls and other playthings, until finally pulling back with a handful of kisses.

“What the hell?”

“It’s like they knew what we were planning,” Brett directed to Tilly.

Gretchen slid up beside me and wrapped her arms around my waist.

“They left a trail of these?” Tilly asked.


“What did you do?”

“I ate them.” I was sure I could still see the chocolate on Brett’s teeth as he smiled again.

Tilly glared at the two of us, then started tearing the wrapping off the kisses and jamming them into her mouth. She didn’t stop until she had devoured all of the remaining pieces.

“You were going to leave us out here to die, weren’t you?” I asked them. “That’s why you suddenly wanted to go camping, and why you picked such an isolated spot.”

Tilly swallowed the remaining chocolate. “It’s nothing personal. We just aren’t the parenting type. But if we gave you up to Foster care then we’d lose that trust fund your mom so generously set aside for us.”

I turned to look at Uncle Brett, my mom’s sister, but he wouldn’t make eye contact with me. He began making his way over to Tilly when he abruptly stopped short and grabbed a hold of his stomach.

“Gretchen,” I whispered, “get ready to run.”

Brett doubled over in pain. He shot a look at Tilly that was a mixture of puzzlement and desperation.

“We found the poison you were going to use on us,” I said to Tilly as she moved to catch Brett as he fell to the ground.

“I stoled it weeks ago…you know…when it went missing. That’s when you came up with this idea instead. Did you know you can hear everything said in your bedroom from the vent that leads to the basement?”

Brett was moaning loudly now, curled up in a fetal position.

“So we took your poison and coated the kisses in it.”

The recognition flashed across her face in stages.


We ran back in the direction we came. I could hear Tilly starting to follow us, and then a sharp gasp, followed by a thud.

We ran a couple hundred more yards before we stopped and looked back, but no one was there.

“Do you know where we are?” Gretchen asked.

I scanned the trail where we had just come from, and then up ahead of us. There laying in the middle of the path was a discarded silver wrapper. Good ole Brett!

“We’re going to be fine, Sis.”

Blogging Buddies around the Globe – Update #3

Yes boys and girls…time for another reminder about my quest to link with a follower in every state and country across the globe. I almost gave up on my quest a while back when I felt myself stumbling, but the overwhelming positive response I received convinced me to stick with this until the very end…no matter how long it takes! And I am now SOOOOOO close to one of those goals, I can almost taste it. And what I’m tasting is some Mississippi BBQ and West Virginia Pumpkin Pie, because those are the only two states I don’t have represented. (I’m only using locations where people are currently located…no switch-hitters)

As far as the countries go, it’s still easier to just list the ones I DO HAVE (22 of them):

Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, England, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Serbia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and United States.

Somebody once asked me why I just didn’t check the profiles of my followers and make note of their locations, or utilize Google Analytics to get the information that way. Surely I have each of the fifty states covered with my 477 followers? I could do that, but I wanted this to be interactive, with active participation. Therefore, I’m only counting the ‘Like Minded’ that post a comment, or e-mailed me directly. To date I’ve heard from 120 of you.

If you’re a follower and currently live in Mississippi or West Virginia, or one of the countries NOT listed above, please leave a comment on my original post here and be counted. If you know a blogger, or a blog reader, who resides in one of these areas, please give them a nudge in my direction.

Enjoy the rest of your week! :)

Road Trip

The family (minus our two older children) plan on traveling to Atlanta Labor Day weekend to visit friends and watch our LSU Tiger football team (GEAUX TIGERS!) open the season against North Carolina in the Georgia Dome. We used to live on the outskirts of Georgia’s state capitol for nine years and my closest friend and his family still resides there, so we typically mount an excursion in that direction every couple years. I’m also meeting up with my best friend from high school (who attended UNC) and his wife. Although we enjoy ourselves immensely while we are there, road trips are a struggle for me and tend to overshadow the entire trip.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, or have checked out my profile, you know that I grew up a military brat. That means a lot of long cross country trips with a family of six and the family dog all crammed in a station wagon (think National Lampoon’s Family Vacation). That was also back in the days when there were no portable DVD players (or DVD’s at all), no PSP’s or gameboys, and all that was available to help pass the time was to read, which I couldn’t do because I get sick when I read in a car. So what did I do? I became my father’s navigator. I kept track of what route we were taking, how far it was until the next city, if we were making good time or not, alternative paths to avoid heavy traffic, etc etc. There was no map I couldn’t decipher, except maybe Mississippi. What was a great way to pass the time when I was a kid became my curse as an adult, and a severe point of contention between me and my family.

I hate to say it, but I’m that person who’s extremely anal regarding a traveling timetable. Departure time: the earlier the better, preferably before the sun rises. If we are not ready to leave on-time then I’m pissed for at least a 100 miles. Potty break: that’s what mayo jars are for. Hungry: that’s what the bag of snacks is for. If we are traveling far enough that one tank of gas won’t do, then the resultant pit stop looks like something you’d see at Talladega raceways. I can not count the number of fights my wife and I have suffered revolving around our family trips, and I know it’s all my fault. I admit it, I AM ROAD TRAVEL COMPULSIVE. I wonder if AAA offers some kind of therapy meetings I could attend?

Actually, as I’ve grown older I’ve learned to relax more and it helps tremendously when you’re driving a car that just a year old and the worry of break-downs is minimal. Something else I’ve discovered that helps is having my wife (or older children) help out by reading my manuscript aloud as we drive, road-editing so-to-speak. The time really flies by that way.

Anyway, I’m doing all that I can to concentrate on other things, thinking about how much fun we’ll be having. I’m even trying to make arrangements to meet up with my Georgia-based blogging buddies while I’m there. You just can’t pass up opportunities like those when they present themselves, so if you’re in the Atlanta area and free that weekend…give me a shout.

But still…deep in the back of my mind… I wondering how I can shave another 5 minutes off our best time. How about you? What are your road trips like?

Character Blogfest – The Reveal

Introducing… my vision of Billy Bostic

I hope it was okay that I didn’t respond to any of your comments yesterday knowing that this was coming today. And for those of you who are like me and have trouble keeping all of the characters we were introduced to yesterday straight, I’ve included my scene again at the bottom of this post so you wouldn’t have to click back to refresh your memory.

I was surprised how many of you said Billy was skinny, with thinning hair. My Billy is in his mid-forties, but a teenager at heart. He is constantly bouncing around with nervous energy and quick to leap into action, unfortunately without giving much thought to the consequences. The look in those blue eyes is but a hint at his complete unpredictability. He is commonly boisterous and impossible to embarrass, unless you question his intellect. A jock in high school and college, he is mindful of how people view him, fearing to be seen as all brawn and no brain. It’s amazing that his chest can contain the size of his caring heart, and he is loyal to a fault.

I invite you to get to know Billy better when I eventually get my book FALLEN KNIGHT published. :)

Here’s the scene again.

“Just keep your hands where we can see them, and don’t make sudden moves.” Billy was attempting to make his normally high-pitched voice come-off as menacing, but instead he sounded more like Elmer Fudd.

The corner of Mr. Brown’s mouth curled into a crooked smile as he slid both his hands in his pockets.

“Dude, you don’t want to be doing that.”

Brown turned his gaze directly to Billy. “Really? A middle-age man using the word dude.”

Billy pumped the slide on the shotgun roughly, ejecting a cartridge that bounced against the wall then tumbled onto the tile floor. He pointed the barrel directly at Brown’s head.

“What did you do that for?” Kent asked, making no attempt to hide his irritation.

“Shut up Kent,” Billy said.

“I thought they just did that in the movies. You already had a live round in the chamber, so why did you have to waste a shell and pump in another one?” Kent continued.

“Will you shut up! I should have dropped you off in Lafayette,” Billy said angrily.

“And miss seeing you doing your Rambo impersonation?” Kent shot back.

“Will you two clam shut,” Raymond snapped. The sweat from his palms was making his own shotgun slippery.

“Has someone called the police yet?” Dianne interrupted the bickering.

“The phone’s on the end table just behind me Mark,” Lee instructed, still not taking his eyes off of their captive.

A soft chuckle from Mr. Brown caused them all to go silent. He lowered his head, swiveled it from side to side a couple times, and then started to rise from his chair.

Both Billy and Raymond took a half-step backwards and re-adjusted the shotguns against their shoulders.

“Mister…I’m not afraid to use this, and I won’t miss” Billy warned.

“That’s right…he’s been the paintball champion of Lafayette Parish for three years running now,” Kent added.

“You have some brave and loyal friends Mr. Hamilton,” Brown said, looking slowly around the room at the six of them.

“I consider myself lucky,” Lee responded.

“It’s a shame that you got them all killed.”

Guest That Character Blogfest

Let me introduce to you…Billy Bostic. He is a character in both the books I have written. Although he is a relatively minor character, I have a lot of fun writing him. This brief scene is from my first novel.

“Just keep your hands where we can see them, and don’t make sudden moves.” Billy was attempting to make his normally high-pitched voice come-off as menacing, but instead he sounded more like Elmer Fudd.

The corner of Mr. Brown’s mouth curled into a crooked smile as he slid both his hands in his pockets.

“Dude, you don’t want to be doing that.”

Brown turned his gaze directly to Billy. “Really? A middle-age man using the word dude.”

Billy pumped the slide on the shotgun roughly, ejecting a cartridge that bounced against the wall then tumbled onto the tile floor. He pointed the barrel directly at Brown’s head.

“What did you do that for?” Kent asked, making no attempt to hide his irritation.

“Shut up Kent,” Billy said.

“I thought they just did that in the movies. You already had a live round in the chamber, so why did you have to waste a shell and pump in another one?” Kent continued.

“Will you shut up! I should have dropped you off in Lafayette,” Billy said angrily.

“And miss seeing you doing your Rambo impersonation?” Kent shot back.

“Will you two clam shut,” Raymond snapped. The sweat from his palms was making his own shotgun slippery.

“Has someone called the police yet?” Dianne interrupted the bickering.

“The phone’s on the end table just behind me Mark,” Lee instructed, still not taking his eyes off of their captive.

A soft chuckle from Mr. Brown caused them all to go silent. He lowered his head, swiveled it from side to side a couple times, and then started to rise from his chair.

Both Billy and Raymond took a half-step backwards and re-adjusted the shotguns against their shoulders.

“Mister…I’m not afraid to use this, and I won’t miss” Billy warned.

“That’s right…he’s been the paintball champion of Lafayette Parish for three years running now,” Kent added.

“You have some brave and loyal friends Mr. Hamilton,” Brown said, looking slowly around the room at the six of them.

“I consider myself lucky,” Lee responded.

“It’s a shame that you got them all killed.”

That’s it. Who do you see when you picture Billy? Make sure you also check out the other Character Blogfest stories at Jen’s place.

High Drama Giveaway Winners

That’s right…this is the blogfest that just won’t go away! :)

Just wanted to take a moment of your time to announce the winners of the giveaway portion of my recent blogfest. I finally recovered from my worksheet melt down, tabulated all of the points, and wrote the final chapter to this event. I wanted to give the lucky six another moment in the spotlight.

Selected via the handy dandy random number generator, the winners are (in alphabetical order):

SummerThe Gatekeeper by Michelle Gagnon
Ted Cross – $15 Amazon Gift Card
Sharon GerlachCity of Dragons by Kelli Stanley
Nicole Murray - $15 Barnes & Noble Gift Certificate
Anne Riley - $15 Borders Gift Card
Stephanie ThortonIn a Gilded Cage by Rhys Bowen

Don’t forget that tomorrow is Jen’s Character Blogfest, so if you haven’t signed up yet there’s still time!

And one last tag-on reminder…if you live in Mississippi or West Virginia, or know of a blogger who lives in one of those two states, I could really use your help. These are the last two states I need for the Blogging Buddies in Every State quest, so please go here if your able to offer assistance.

Writing on a Budget

My wife has me on a budget. I get so much a month to spend on whatever I want and usually it goes towards renting movies & video games, and buying music. Lately some of my allotment has been devoted to writing tools like how-to books and magazines. I understand the budget is a necessary evil, but it’s one that I constantly butt my head against.

I have the same feeling about writing on a word count. It's one of those aspects of writing for publication that's so much different than writing for pure enjoyment. When I'm writing with no goal in mind, the number of words I'm using is irrelevant. I type until I'm finished. And I know I'm finished when I feel there's nothing left to say. The same can't be said when you’re writing for somebody else's expectations.

When I got it in my head to tackle my first book, I wondered how long it needed to be. To find out I delved into my home library and took a sampling. On average, I saw books with just over 300 pages, 10 pages per chapter. No problem. I set to work and when my novel was finished it came in 335 pages. Cool beans! However, what most first time novelist (of mainstream adult fiction) aren’t aware of is that they only have 90K to 100K words to tell their story with. You see, most publishers consider anything beyond that a serious risk to recouping their investment. After I finally did my research and discovered these guidelines, I looked at the word count for my novel. 145K! Crap!

That kind of limitation definitely narrows the scope you can work with, dramatically impacting your narrative. I was going to have to slash 1/3 of my story just to get it within acceptable standards for submission. I knew there were tons of that’s and then’s needing trimming, but 45K? Large chunks of content were in jeopardy.

It gets even more difficult when you target short story publications. Can you tell a story that’s interesting, compelling, and engaging, in 5000 words or less? How about 2500? It’s not uncommon to find yourself trying to shoehorn a story into a word limit, knowing full well it deserves more. Composing short stories are an excellent way to practice word economy, since there’s so little room for extravagance.

I'm discovering that most writing, be it for a book or short story, is a lot like movie making. A director will film a lot more of a script than what actually finds its way to the screen, most of it ending up on the editing room floor. The same process happens with novels. An author will cut out words, paragraphs, scenes, even whole chapters to foster a better reading experience (or make it more marketable). Every deletion can feel like your hollowing out your work. Finding one word that can take the place of three is the Holy Grail. Unfortunately for writers, they don't have the opportunity to see their deleted sections end up on a DVD.

But there’s another dimension to the world of word regulation. A good many of the bloggers I follow seem to be obsessed with daily or weekly writing output. How many words did I add to my manuscript today? 500? A 1000? Nicholas Sparks generates 2000 words a day, surely I can do half that. I assume they utilize these goals as a way to stay motivated or accountable for their time, but how many of these words end up being edited out of the book? Myself…the only edict I follow is that I must write every day…and I do. Most of the time I don’t know how many words I use (glancing at the counter at the bottom of this document I see I’m at 730), and I could care less. I am disciplined enough to work on my novels or practice my craft without benchmarks, but at the same time my quest for publication has no pre-determined pace. It’ll happen…when it happens. But if daily targets work for you…then I’m all for it!

Of this I am certain, disregarding the publishing industry’s guidelines, or ignoring my wife's budget, either one will see me end up in the same place.

Stuck on the couch at home, broke, reading the lone copy of my unprinted manuscript.

Plum Line

Today I thought I’d contribute my two-cents worth regarding the eternal debate…pantser vs. plotter.

It’s really not a debate as much a personal preference. Do you outline your plot (plotter) prior to sitting down and writing a manuscript, or do you tend to fly by the seat of your pants (pantser) as you write? In case you don’t already know, there is no right answer. Both methods are viable and used by multitudes of writers. Pantsers tend to believe that outlining stifles their creativity, preferring to have their story emerge organically as they write. Plotters, on the other hand, see their method as allowing them to map out intricate story elements and avoid unnecessary re-writes or revisions. The amount of detail in these outlines range from the very basic on a single piece of paper, to the highly complex that encompasses an entire notebook by itself.

Me…I’ve always been a plotter. Writing mystery/suspense novels, I find it necessary to use this tool to ensure clues are dropped and time related events are coordinated properly. But as it turns out there’s another reason. Let me illustrate it for you.

Anybody who’s been around construction, or undertaken a home project or two, recognizes the term plum line. It's a piece of string, coated with colored chalk, and when you roll it out and snap it against whatever you're working on it imprints the chalk on the surface. This provides you with a visible reference point to ensure you either remain level, or lay things out in a straight line. And when your finished, the chalk is easily wiped away, leaving no trace of its assistance.

Although I outline and plot events in my chapters very carefully, I still allow room for it to breath and grow. When I'm writing I make adjustments to incorporate idea’s I may not have previously considered, because it makes sense at the time and it moves the story in the direction I want to go. But sometimes a small change early on can turn into a major deviation when the project is completed. Soon-to-be published author Rosslyn Elliott just recently posted a description of a similar process on her blog, Inkhorn Blue. Without a plum line to keep you centered, to maintain a point of reference, a writer can easily drift away from their core premise. The result could end in disappointment.

When I completed the final chapter of my last book, something felt off. I couldn't really pin-point what it was, but I had this unfulfilled sensation. I hadn’t referred back to my outline while writing the last third of the book (a mistake) so I decided to go back to it in case I missed something. What I discovered was a minor change I had added early on that snowballed until the way the book ended was thematically different than what I’d outlined. I had drifted off the plum line my outline was supposed to be guiding me with. I made the necessary adjustments and my happy face was back.

What about you? How do you tell when the flow of your story is veering away from your plum line?

High Drama Blogfest Wrap up – Help!

So…I had this nifty Excel worksheet where I was keeping up with the point totals from the blogfest in preparation for the giveaway portion. It was well organized and easy to follow, and would have made selecting the winners a breeze…if it hadn’t been wiped clean! Through a mistake of my own doing, I accidentally deleted all of the records meticulously collected there. ARGH!!!!!

Anyway…I need your help. I can spend days collecting the information again, surfing to all of your blogs to make notes of side-bars or blog posts mentions, checking twitter to see if you mentioned the blogfest over there…or I can ask you to do it instead. So, for time sake, that’s what I’m doing. Please count up the points you amassed for the blogfest and either leave your total in the comment section here, or you can email me at tbone(dot)don(at)gmail(dot)com. We’ll be using the scout’s honor system! :)

Here’s a reminder of how the point system worked.

Everyone who took part in my Blogfest (actually posted a story) received one point. If you were a follower of my blog, add another point. If you put a blurb about it in your sidebar, you’ll receive another point. If you tweeted about it you’ll receive another point for each separate day you tweeted (up to a maximum of five tweets), and if you a posted a blog entry exclusively about the High Drama Blogfest/Giveaway…you’ll receive a whopping five points. That’s a grand total of 13 possible points to place into the virtual hat.

I’ll draw six numbers (three from Group A, and three from Group B) using a random number generator once I have everyone’s point totals.

I’m sorry for the delay…and the extra work. *sheepish grin*

Hit Me

No…we’re not about to break into an impromptu game of black jack. I just realized that during the frantic week leading up to my blogfest this past weekend, that I surpassed 10,000 site hits! OMG!! That’s a crap load. When you average that over the year that I’ve been maintaining this blog (even though the counter has only been tracking hits since November), that translates to 27 hits each day. That doesn’t even take into consideration the people who read my blog in their Google reader, Facebook feed, or other RSS feeds because they never register as a site hit unless they visit my actual blog to leave a comment. And because I only average a couple of blog posts a week (with last week definitely being the exception), the web traffic I generate is even more impressive. I’m climbing toward 500 followers and the number of comments my posts generate are growing as well.

You know why all this even matters? Why it lifts my spirits and gives me reason to remain optimistic? Because it’s an indicator. If people care to read what I write on my blog, hang around and check back day after day, week after week, then maybe I’m a good enough writer to draw people to my novels. Maybe one day these site hits will transform into register rings.

Whoa…lets slow down a bit. Since when did being popular translate into having talent? We’ve all been through high school. Popularity doesn’t mean squat to an agent with a query letter sitting in front of them…or does it? Will an interested agent take the time to research your blog when deciding to offer representation? Maybe. Does that mean aspiring writers without blogs or ones with modest numbers of followers are looked upon negatively? Bottom line…strong writing trumps everything else, but a robust blog doesn’t hurt your chances.

I want to close by thanking all of you who participated (52 entries) in the High Drama Blogfest and made it such a huge success. It was an amazing experience to read the offerings from such talented writers! I’ll be announcing the prize winners in a couple days (next time remind me to have you add up your own points), but I wanted to tell you how humble you made me feel with the response to my event.

Have a great week!!

Go…The High Drama Blogfest

Here’s the muffins…as promised.  Everybody be nice little ladies and gentlemen as you make your selection, plenty to go around.  Welcome to the High Drama Blogfest/Giveaway!  I really want to thank the 40+ bloggers who decided to take part in my brainchild.  The list of links to all the other contributors is right here, so after you’ve sampled my offering (and I’m talking about the writing…not the muffins) please make your way over to the other sites.  There is some truly amazing drama on display!

Just a little background on this piece I have for you today.  It is an original, written especially for this blogfest, but I had so much fun with it that I’m seriously considering turning it into the first chapter of my 3rd book.  Enjoy!  Oh yeah…it’s still kind of rough. *wink* 

Gayle pressed the call button on the overhead panel to reset it, quickly grabbing the headrest of the seat below to steady herself as the plane lurched through another violent wave of turbulence.  She looked down at the short, stocky gentleman wearing a badly fitting business suit clutching a worn leather messenger bag tightly against his chest.  His face and partially bald head were covered in perspiration despite the coolness of the cabin.  Gayle couldn’t recall ever seeing anyone with such enormous pores and the image of her noodle strainer back home, complete with the dripping runoff, popped into her head.
“Sir, surely you realize that the captain has ordered us to discontinue cabin service and take our seats, so unless this is extremely important --”
“It is!  It is important,” he said excitedly, his hand shooting out and grabbing her wrist.  The clammy feeling of his moist fingers on her skin caused her to pull back involuntarily.
“What is it then?” she asked and just as the words left her mouth the plane pitched sharply to the left and she found herself struggling to avoid sitting in the ladies lap across the aisle.  The captain wasn’t exaggerating when he said this was going to be a rough approach.  The mid-day skies visible through the portals were now dark and ominous and the passengers were already starting to show signs of nervousness. 
“The man who was sitting next to me got up to use the restroom almost 15 minutes ago and he hasn’t returned,” the sweating passenger replied when Gayle had regained her composure.  “I was worried that maybe something has happened to him back there.”
Gayle looked towards the rear of the aircraft, but saw nobody in the aisle or waiting near the lavatory.
“Okay, thank you.  I’ll check it out,” she said.  Instinctively, her eyes glanced beyond the sweating man to the backpack stowed underneath the middle seat of the next row.  Then out of habit her gaze drifted to the passenger wearing a green down vest slumped against the exterior wall in the window seat.  Some people could truly sleep through anything.  What drew her attention was the unfastened seat belt lying at his side.
“Sir, I need you to fasten your seat belt,” Gayle directed to the slumbering passenger.
There was no response.
“I tried waking him up earlier, but he must be a heavy sleeper,” the sweating traveler offered.
Reaching across the seats, she gently pushed twice against the passenger’s upper arm.  There was still no movement.
Gayle’s initial irritation was now becoming a creeping concern.
Without saying a word she made herself as thin as she could, wedging past Mr. Sweaty and plunking down into the middle seat.  Turning to her right, she used both hands to shake the dormant passenger.  Still nothing.
Reaching up and pressing the call buttons on all three seat positions, she then grabbed the man’s shoulders and pulled him away from the bulkhead, sitting him up straight in the seat.  The man’s head sat upright for a moment and then its own momentum caused it to continue to roll slowly toward her.   Under normal circumstances, Gayle would have considered the man attractive with his strong cheekbones and cleft chin, but the lack of color in his face, the drool seeping from his partially open mouth and the exposed tongue quickly squelched that impression.
Gayle’s medical training kicked in and she placed two fingers against the artery in his neck, searching for a pulse.  She could feel nothing there.
The roar from the jet engines grew noticeably louder.  They were still twenty minutes out on initial approach, why were they climbing?
Movement in the aisle caused her to look up and see Brenda arriving from the aft compartment.  Her co-worker was using the seat backs to steady herself against the increasing bucking of the aircraft.
“You need to check the rear restroom.  I think we may have a passenger in trouble back there.”
Brenda’s eyes remained on the passenger Gayle was attending to as she answered.  “I just checked it five minutes ago.  There’s nobody back there.”
“Is he dead?” the sweaty passenger asked, using a voice that was louder than necessary.
“We need to --”
Then the bottom fell out.  The plane was suddenly plummeting, filling the cabin with screams of terror.  Gayle was thrown forcefully against the overhead storage bin, but Brenda wasn’t as lucky as she continued upward until she collided with the ceiling. A jolt, one more easily associated with a cement truck landing a jump over a dozen buses, rocked the plane as it ended its free-fall and pitched dramatically to the left.  Gayle was dumped back onto the armrest between hers and Mr. Sweaty’s seat, but before she could move the green-vested passenger landed on top of her, his cold face pressing against her own.  Feeling the dead man’s tongue rub against her lips in some bizarre attempt for one last French kiss, Gayle used a strength she didn’t know she had to toss the body back into its own seat like a bag of week old laundry.     
Brenda.  Just as she was twisting around to check on her co-worker, the oxygen masks dropped.

Get Set….

*Huffin & puffin*

Geez…this posting everyday is hard work! On top of that, I’ve run out of ideas about how to remind everybody about my High Drama Blogfest/Giveaway tomorrow. Never mind convincing any of you still on the fence to go ahead and take the plunge. I’ve asked, begged, beseeched, bribed, cajoled, propositioned, rationalized, urged, and finally appealed to the writer’s sensibilities in you. Now…after all that…there’s only one approach left. The Nike one.


See you Saturday.  I'll bring the muffins  :)

On Your Mark….

Blogger #1: Hey guess what…I just got another notification on my Google reader that DL posted again today.

Blogger #2: You’re kidding. Let me guess, another reminder about his High Drama Blogfest/Giveaway?

Blogger #1: Bingo!

Blogger #2: Geez! Does that guy ever quit? Somebody needs to show him what a broken record looks like.

Blogger #1: I think it must be a man thing…one track minds and all.

Blogger #2: I wish my husband had a little more of that when it came to cleaning out the garage.

Blogger #3: Wassup?

Blogger #2: DL posted another reminder about his blogfest today.

Blogger #3: You mean the one this Saturday, August 7th? Isn’t that the one with prizes also?

Blogger #1: That’s the one.

Blogger #3: I can’t wait. Did you order your coffee’s yet?

Blogger #2: Uh-huh, we got you a Carmel Macchiato. Wait a minute. You signed up for DL’s blogfest?

Blogger #3: Absolutely!

Blogger #1: I did too.

Blogger #2: Weren’t you complaining just the other day about not having enough time to write, blog, read & comment on other blogs, and take care of your family? Now you’re doing a blogfest also?

Blogger #3: I like showing off my work.

Blogger #1: And you get some excellent feed back as well.

Blogger #2: Hey…that’s my muffin!

Blogger #3: Soourrry, Iummmm starfved.

Blogger #2: That’s just gross. Eat with your mouth closed…you’re spitting crumbs on me.

Blogger #1: What kind of drama did you pick to enter?

Blogger #3: GULP. I chose a section from my first book, the one I shelved. You?

Blogger #1: I wrote something original that had been bouncing around in the back of my mind for awhile. I really had fun with it.

Blogger #2: There is this one idea I’ve been toying with for a while.

Blogger #1: You should totally do it. Totally!

Blogger #2: But it’s Thursday, and his blogfest is when…Saturday? There’s no way I can have it ready by then.

Blogger #3: Please…you can churn out 500 words in your sleep. And it doesn’t have to be perfect, everybody starts off by saying “this is really rough”. It’s kind of expected.

Blogger #2: I don’t know…..

Blogger #1: Come on…it’s DL. He’s a dude writer severely outnumbered by female ones. He writes mysteries and we all write young adult or romance. He’s ancient…like 50+…still trying to keep up with the younger crowd.

Blogger #2: So….?

Blogger #3: And he has almost 500 followers!

Blogger #1: Where are you going?

Blogger #2: I’ve got to get home and start writing.

Blogger #3: I call her muffin!


I bet you thought I was going to post another reminder about my High Drama Blogfest/Giveaway on Saturday, August 7th, didn’t you?

I sure fooled you!! *snicker*

A Blogfest Tutorial

Just four more days remaining until my High Drama Blogfest/Giveaway on Saturday, August 7th. Are you getting excited? Do you think I am? Duh!!

One of my fellow bloggers who posted a piece promoting my event had a comment left there that has given me the idea to take some time and explain just what this thing we call blogfest is. There are plenty of newbies out there who still getting acclimated to the blogosphere and everything it has to offer, and if they’re like me the first time I read the phrase blogfest they probably didn’t know what to think. So, let’s do a little educating today.

Basically, the goal of a blogfest is to provide those who wish to participate with an avenue to share their writing with a broader reading base then what might normally visit their blog. Anyone can host a blogfest…and anyone can take part in one. The host usually establishes the topic to be written about, which can cover a wide-spectrum. Anything from scenes involving a first kiss, bar scenes, fight scenes, the first page of your manuscript (my personal favorite so far), and in my case… anything involving dramatic tension. The host also imposes any rules to guide the event (word count limit, PG language, original material only, etc).

The mechanics are fairly simple. The host uploads his blog post announcing the blogfest (complete with scheduled date, topic and rules) and at the bottom of that post is a sign up form (widget) to record the blog addresses of everyone who intends on partaking. These widgets come in many different versions, some are free to use and some charge a minor fee. They can display the links to the participating blogs on the original blog post of the host, or store those addresses at another web-site. On the day of the blogfest, all those who registered to be involved post their contribution on their own blog with a link to the host site so their readers can seek out similar stories. Blog interaction at its finest!

I hope this little tutorial was helpful to some of you. My blogfest is a little unique in that I have combined a prize giveaway with it. This is definitely not expected from those holding a blogfest and its just a little something I’m doing to crank up the excitement.

Before I go, I need to make a slight modification to my own blogfest rules. Originally I had asked that participants to limit the word count to no more than 500 words. I wanted everyone to make the rounds of all the entrants without having to feel like they just read War & Peace. But even I’m struggling with that restriction. If you know me at all, you know my opinion on rules…and I’m not above bending my own. So if you need to stretch your entry by a couple hundred words, go ahead. I’ll tell the word police to look the other way. :)

Oh yeah…have you linked your favorite blog post on my Blog Recycle Station yet?

High Drama in Five Days

That’s right, just five more days remaining until my High Drama Blogfest/Giveaway on Saturday, August 7th.

A chance to win an autographed novel from one of three wonderful mystery writers, or one of three $15 gift cards, just for registering and posting five hundred words of dramatic writing from your own repertoire. How could you go wrong? Use an existing piece of work, or do what I did and write something completely original to show off. I’m sure whatever you choose will impress us all.

I don’t know about you, but when I read great drama, my heart races and I tend to sit up in my seat. So I’m forgoing my trips to the healthclub this week, knowing full well that my heart and stomach muscles will get all the workout I need on Saturday!

Oh yeah…Mississippi and West Virginia are the only two states I’m lacking now in my quest to obtain followers in each of the 50 states. I’m so…so close.

And don’t forget about my Blog Recycle Station.

I’ll be back again tomorrow with yet another reminder. Sick of me yet?

Countdown to a Blogfest

My totally awesome High Drama Blogfest/Giveaway is this coming Saturday, August 7th, and in anticipation I’m doing something I don’t normally do…uploading a post every day leading up to that date.  That’s right, I’m going to bombard you with reminders because I know that in the past it would’ve helped me.  I’ve missed Blogfests that I really wanted to participate in because I failed to jot it down on my calendar, or I missed the notification entirely.  I won’t let that happen here.  I’ll even be tweeting about it and the bloggers that have already signed up will receive personal e-mail reminders from me.  Everywhere you turn in the blogosphere this week you’ll probably run into me, harking my head off.  Just think of me as an alarm with a 24 hour snooze button. 

Five hundred words of dramatic prose, that’s all I’m after…with oodles of prizes given away to boot.  How could you go wrong?  I’ve even enticed a couple of bloggers who rarely post their work on-line to take part. 

Also, don’t forget about my Blog Recycle Station.  I’ve had tremendous response for this, but I’m always looking for more.

One reminder down….five more to go!  I can’t wait until Saturday. :)


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