I am consumed with jealousy over my 2 main characters. They both happen to be women. (well I guess that did not just happen). They are both mothers and doing whatever they feel necessary to keep their son safe.  Now, I know I would do anything, anything at all to ensure the safety of my 3 sons, and I try my hardest to give them a well-balanced healthy life. However the older I am getting the more anxieties are setting in.

When my older 2 boys were younger I ran in the park with them, pitched the baseball, climbed the trees and dug in the dirt. The bigger the thrill the more fun we had. I could not wait until they were tall enough to ride the big rides at an amusement park. I have always loved roller coasters.  Before they were tall enough I would go to the amusements parks with my brothers or cousin and wait on the long lines for a few seconds of pure adrenaline fun. Well as each grew tall enough, we discovered they just did not like rides. Gees! I couldn’t believe my boys were afraid of rides, I mean really who raised them?

When the little guy came along 18 years after the oldest and 13 years after the now middle boy I found I was not running as fast.  The baseballs were pitched from a machine  and I thought it to dangerous for me to attempt to climb a tree ; but I still dug in the dirt! I still love the rides and hoped the little guy would too.

At an early age he gave me hope. He would get bored with the kiddie rides and beg to go on the bigger ones. We managed to compromise on a few rides that allowed the little ones on as long as they were accompanied by an adult.  We would be forced to sit together, I mean I am the responsible adult taking him on the speeding roller coaster! The older he got the less they forced (allowed) us to sit together! Ummmm, what was happening? Why was my little guy growing up? Why can’t mom sit with her little precious cargo?

Finally he is tall enough! But…I can’t, I could not bear it!

We stood on-line for our first big (really, really big) roller coaster ride. He wanted to do a loopy loop one first, but I explained to him that we should start with a non loop to get the feel of a big roller coaster and to make sure the thought he had of the thrill in his head measured up.  We were next, we were going to be on the next coaster and in the front seats!!  No!, No!…what was happening to me. My mind went dark, then started a horrible picture show of what could go wrong! No….I waited too long for this moment, my little guy waited 11 long years for this very moment!

Without a second to back out and fake a heart attack we were on the ride buckled in and headed up the long haul of doom. My heart was racing so fast I thought for sure I was truly going to have a heart attack. My mind was telling me he was not buckled in, that he was going to slip between the safety bars or that the coaster was going to malfunction.  As we soared down towards the earth and back up to the sky I twisted my body against the G-force trying to hold my little guy.  By the time we pulled back into the station (which felt like a life time, but was probably not even a minute) I was sweating from places I didn’t know I had and my mouth was so dry I couldn’t swallow.  Firmly standing on the exit plat form I hugged my boy as if I had not seen him in years. He hugged me back but with pure excitement and cheering for another go around!

Well I fought against the fake heart attack but orchestrated  diversions of needing to eat and well the food must have not agreed with me because I could not stay out of the restrooms. I insisted he go on the rides without me but the lines were so long he only made it one ride before mom could not bear the pain in her stomach any longer. (and oops! we were leaving for home the next day!) On the long ride back to the hotel he was in the back full of disappointment and I’m sure a little hatred for me. I was consumed with self loath and guilt that I am not as strong as the mothers I write about. The mothers that fight over one little guy and would do anything to put a smile on his face. I was so jealous that they were fearless and the only anxiety they felt was over whether or not they were going to get caught for doing whatever it took for their little guy!

My characters should feel lucky that I have gotten to a point where anxieties control me, because now they have all the fearlessness of my youth!

That mother daughter thing.

So another Mother’s Day! My 45th motherless Mother’s Day.  I envy those who have that mother daughter thing.  I have so many questions unanswered.  I have asked them many times, my wonderful Aunts have given me their version of  how my mother would answer, but the questions still linger.  I try not to dwell in the sadness but it creeps in this time of year.  Just when I thought I was going to dwell, anger arose instead!

As I listen to daughters (and sons) complain about having to spend the day with their mother I wonder how hard I should slap them up side the head!  I mean really, is having to plan, shop, clean or cook really that much of a sacrifice? ( I’m betting your mom didn’t think so)

When daughters and sons are young, mothers are showered with hand-made cards, macaroni necklaces, and hand-picked flowers. A make shift breakfast is presented with glee and the day is spent doting on mom.  When those same sons and daughters become teenagers, mom gets a peck on the cheek and maybe some time at the breakfast table. When those sons and daughters become adults with families of their own suddenly mom don’t matter.

Adult daughters with children of their own feel as though the day is all about them. Any time spent with their mom takes away from their special day.

Of course, it is about you! I mean you are a mother now.  But stop for a moment and realize that your mom is over the moon to have raised you and now watching you raise your own children. Your mom and mother-in-law feel doubly proud and would love nothing more than to spend the day with you and your children.  And when you are in their shoes you will know that mom is perfectly happy to see you have your day in the sun as she is quietly in the back round helping the grandkids shower you with hand-made items, stringing the macaroni and  cooking your favorite breakfast.

Adult son’s with children of their own somehow feel like it is their anniversary or something special just between husband and wife. Of course you ought to show your wife just how special she is to be the mother of your children.  You better be helping the children hand make something and taking them to the store to show their mother just how appreciated she is! And by all means take the load off her, give her the time to just enjoy being a mother. She should not be cooking, cleaning or planning anything, the only thing your wife should do on Mother’s day is enjoy the love and attention from her children.  But when and who decided that Mother’s day is only about your wife and that your mom don’t even deserve to be lurking in the back round?

I never knew my mother, she passed when I was 9 months. I am lucky enough to have my mother-in-law. Of course she could never take the place of what I feel like I missed out on, nor would I want to put that pressure upon her. But because of  the place she has in my children and my heart she sure deserves to be celebrated. My husband, her son has never expected her to be lurking in the back round. She has always been front and center and shown just how much she is loved and cherished. She raised the man who I cherish and love, she is the mother of the man who gave me my children!  There are so many reason and emotions I could convey for celebrating with my mother-in-law but the single most important one is because she is the mother of the man who I married!

To be perfectly honest I would not respect my husband as much as I do if he did not have his mother on the pedestal she deserves to be on. I always held it dear to my heart that my boys would see how their grandmother is treated and show my grandchildren the same.  (parenting fail 101: having expectations)

The urge to slap others upside their head is so real.  As much as I love my mother-in-law, I wish I was planning on taking my mother to her favorite restaurant or cooking her favorite meal, showing up with her favorite flowers, picking out her favorite baked goods and writing her the perfect mother’s day card. I feel cheated that she is not here to spend our special day as mother’s together.  I wonder if like me she would prefer going to the local nursery and picking out the perfect vegetable and vibrant flowers to plant and asking only for “lots of love of hugs”. (in other words T-I-M-E with my boys)  I know for a fact I would not feel as though she were infringing on my special day. I mean it’s not my birthday, not my wedding anniversary …It’s Mother’s day!! A day to celebrate with your Mother, Mother-in-law, Grandmother, God-mother , Aunts, and all the family and friends that are mothers!!!     (even if it means that you will have to plan, shop, clean or cook..suck it up buttercup and count your blessings that you have someone to do it for)

Rain, rain go away…

I sat here for at least an hour trying to write a little something witty that related to my life and my writing.  As I heard the clock ticking I realized this week I have not been productive with writing. I would like to blame my characters but I have to admit to myself that it is all my fault.

I can not even blame the weather, in my neck of the woods we have not seen the sun in some time. I should be able to blame my little guy. I should have been schooling him, but the year is coming to an end, nothing new he is interested in learning so he has dutifully sat and done review work.  I already administered the end of year assessment, sent it out to be graded and have the outstanding grades in an envelope ready to be mailed to the Department of Education.

I was gearing up for a local book signing.  It was to be at a spring fair a friend organized.  All my focus was on gathering the giveaways, deciding on what I was going to say to talk the wonderful patrons into signing up for my blog. The fair was to start at 9am but I had to be there at 8AM, I was dreading the early hour and trying to decide on an out fit that looked natural but put together at the same time. The event was to go through the day ending at 3pm.  Honestly my main focus was on what I was going to bring to eat for the day. The easy part was filling up the coffee thermos, but the hard part was deciding on chips or planning a 15 minute escape to grab a few slices of pizza or some sort of sandwich. I knew I should really be planning on something to eat with a fork or spoon, I mean how was I going to sign all those copies with crummy hands?

Well all that planning and scheming ended with me being able to eat whatever the heck I wanted. The event was cancelled! Mother nature dumped a heap of rain and wind in my neck of the woods causing wide-spread flooding. The event venue suffered with broken windows and water damage.  All my advertising and anticipation was washed down the gutter. I felt like a school girl who was stood up. I was quite angry with no one to lash out against. I waisted a week, I told my characters I had no time for them.  The only person I could lash out against was myself!  Well, if you have ever been full of emotions and no one to release them upon but yourself, then I am sure you know…there is no satisfaction in berating ones self!

I may have not come up with something witty, but I did come to the revelation that I truly did not ignore my characters. (my writing)  I mean I was going to show case them at the signing. I was going to talk them up and convince people to sign up for my blog and enter a contest to have first glance at their new adventures. Not only was I going to offer them first glance but a lucky winner would have had the opportunity to come up with a working title for their new antics! My characters were going to be front and center. I however was going to be in the back round sipping my thermos and squirting hand sanitizer onto my hands after every 12 chips or so!

The venue has not released a rain date,  but I am more than prepared for when they do. This week I will be focusing on packing for my road trip so again my characters will not be front and center.  I will not sit around waiting for someone to blame or for mother nature to rain on my parade. I will prove to them just how important they are. They may not participate in much scheming, twisting or turning but they will be on the ride along.   They must know by now even if they are not active upon their pages, they are always active!

Vacation planning

AH! The ever so exciting, vacation planning.

My family is planning a road trip from New York to Florida.  The plan was for 2 of my sons, the older boy’s girlfriend, my mother in law and of course myself and husband. The older boy is 24, and he has the nerve to be in a wedding and have a great job interview lined up. This will be my first vacation without him. He however has been on many without me! I’m not sure how I feel about this yet.  On one hand he saved me from spending $100’s on having to kennel my 3 dogs and finding a sitter for the cat. I also save on the $ that would have been spent on him to ensure an even attitude! On the other hand  my heart is heavy, I mean really how dare he grow up !!! My youngest being only 11, saves him from the melodrama. I swear the older 2 (29 &24) have no clue what their younger brother has saved them from. I could be a beggar and the crafty mother still able to guilt them into searching for the big mouse with me. I contemplated changing the dates of travel to accommodate him, but my mother-in-law over ruled that.  We dare not interfere with her schedule! ( I know you wondering about the 29 year old…He is married and blessed me with 3 grand-daughters, which I would love to vacation with but that’s another story)

I am so blessed that my mother-in-law still vacations with us. I realize how lucky I am that I have the 11-year-old. I am sure my mother-in-law loves me and her son but somehow doubt the excitement would be present if not for her grandson. Well maybe this vacation because we are staying with my brother-in-law who moved to Florida a few years back and visiting my husband’s uncle who has lived there as long as I know him.  She is thrilled to see her son’s new home and visit with her brother.

Now that I don’t have to worry about finding a suitable kennel for the dogs or a sitter for the cat. I have to plan their every meal and somehow ensure they do not shed while I am not here to vacuum the hair.  I have to cut, slice and dice their food and have it portioned out for the convenience  of the older boy. I have to leave notes in the fridge , by the sink and near their water bowl to feel satisfied that the boy will keep them hydrated. Before I go I have to somehow find a way for the boy to appreciate their love and devotion to feel comfortable knowing he will show them adequate  affection.

I feel guilty that the boy has to fend for himself so I will stock the fridge with all his favorite vegetarian foods. Of course leave enough money for him to order out because no matter what I stock the fridge with, he is sure not to like, want or trust that it is indeed vegetarian!

So the planning… I already reserved a rental car. I mean we can’t travel such a distance and put miles on the every day car. The hunt for the best price was at my finger tips and just a click away from reserving.  The 11-year-old had a growth spurt throughout the winter so he of course needs new summer clothes. Not just plain old t-shirt’s and shorts that I can run and pick up within 10 minutes. No..he he is older now and feels the need to pick out his own clothes.  Planning a suitable time for him to grace me with his presence in the store is when the negotiation began. He can not wear plain solid shirts, he need graphic design which can not be stiff feeling cotton, the shirts must feel like silk. I was forced to search high and low for the perfect length shorts to match the graphic t-shirt. He simply could not be seen in shorts that were “too short”! I negotiated my way into purchasing a few tank tops that would match the perfect length short. Which he stated he would only wear at his uncles, because after all “it’s weird” for boys to wear tank tops, “you wear them Mom”!  I gave up trying to explain and visually show him the difference between tween boy tank tops and “mom” tank tops.   As the heat rose from my toes I wished with all that I had that I just didn’t mention the fact that he needed new clothes and simply search the web and had them delivered to my door, packed them and gave him to choice! (Mom fail 101, giving choices)

My husband is the easiest, I simply fill him on the when and where. His suit case get packed without input. I dutifully pack his favorite shorts, comfortable shirts and shoes and always a little extra in case he hates what I packed. And I never forget a dress outfit in case a night of fancy eating is suggested.

OK, in full disclosure…I learned a hard lesson. A few years back we went on a cruise. Keep that in mind, A Cruise! No where to shop for clothes, no fancy dining options unless of course you shop at the on board high (very high) end store, where nothing is under $250.00! (not even under garments) Well I dutifully packed ALL his FAT clothing! . I somehow forgot that he lost a ton of weight throughout the year, I’m talking loosing more than 3 sizes.  I was just so impressed with myself that I was ahead of schedule that I packed and loaded without realizing I had not purchased  clothing  to accommodate the weight loss. . Well, bless the man. We had a good laugh and bought a shiny new very expensive belt from the very high-end on board shop and for the first time he had an even upper body tan! (no pesky shirt lines) If I had not been foolishly impressed with myself I could have clothed my entire family for the next few seasons with what we spent on that belt!

So as I make sure of the clothing size and pack the boys silky tops and perfect length shorts and shove whatever I think will camouflage the extra pounds brought on by menopause for myself I begin to panic. What are my characters going to do while I’m gone? Dare I bring my lap top and keep them engaged? I could bring my notebook and pen and enter their shenanigans upon my return, but I feel they will be idle too long. How can I keep them spinning towards triumph and defeat as I’m driving and keeping conversation with my mother-in-law flowing and restraining the 11-year-old from asking “are we there yet”!  How am I supposed to enjoy the visit with family if I’m consumed with finding the right strategy for my characters to cope with their emotions? I certainly can not walk around searching for the over grown mouse while thinking my youngest character deserves to find what he seeks. So now I have to plan in advance their every move. I need to propel them to the end before I plan my selfish vacation! I need to plan for them to get where they need to be or at the very least to make them understand why they will be idle.

Planning for vacation is ever so exciting!                                                                                     At the same time the feeling of guilt leaving the 24-year-old, the dogs, the cat and my characters behind is crippling!

This menopause thing.

This menopause thing is making my writing  hot and cold. {oh! yes, pun intended}

It all started with not keeping the seasons in order for my characters. I must have re-written the same scene several time. Once I was confident it was perfect, {ha!} I read it out loud. Well…I wanted to throw my computer out the window and just give up. My poor characters were dressed all wrong, driving in a snow storm in one line then packing the car for the beach the next line!  I tried to take a breath and move away from the screen but I just could not catch my breath.

I was so angry and feeling a bit spiteful, I decided to kill off a main character. I mean really he was not cooperating so he deserved it. When I felt vindicated from the brutality tears swelled in my eyes and rolled down my cheek. How could I be so heartless? The poor guy was just trying to do his best. So of course that scene had to be deleted and re-written. I had no words for the poor guy, naturally I was angry again that I had to delete! He is stuck somewhere between being supportive, being assertive, being showered with affection and feeling the wrath of the vicious murderer. In actuality what he needs to do is find his boy and show that he can step up when required.

I sit staring at the screen when the sound of one of my little dogs nails clicking on my hard wood floor sent chills up and down my spine. I made a deal with myself that if he just sat down then I could continue on with my work. I promised myself that if the clicking just stopped I would not send him and the other 2 dogs out in the rain for the day. You would think he would cooperate or the very least the other 2 would force him into submission! knowing how they despise the rain, a feeling of sweet revenge eased my tingling spine as I sent them out in the pouring rain.  I sat back in front of my computer feeling spiteful.

The spitefulness flowed onto the screen. Just when the mother and father were in reach of their boy, his captive cleverly escaped. This drove the retired detective to feel like retirement was just in the nick of time. My words made him realize he is too old to be in the game, he needs to step aside and let his apprentice take over. The old man second guessed his every move. I drove him to the brink of a break down and I was loving it! How dare he be so arrogant and testify in front of a judge convincing her and the jury that the mother ought to be locked away in a criminally insane asylum? Yet again, I had to delete my words, I remembered that the mother and father needed his help. After all he was retired but still had all his connections. He had to believe in himself and the woman he helped put away or the boy would never be rescued.

The blank screen was mocking me. My hands were gripping tight to the screen ready to smash it to the floor. I needed to hear the sweet sound of it crashing to the floor as the glass broke. Instead from the second floor my boy was asking to eat. Really?…I just fed the boy yesterday! Out of my mouth flowed the words, ” sure sunshine, what would you like?” In my mind I was screaming, “YOU, YOU ARE hungry, NOT me, you are capable of making your own sandwich and while you’re at it make me one too”.  While making his sandwich my stomach began to growl, but I can not indulge in the high fat, high salt processed lunch meat! As I fought back the drool and urge to devour the boys food, I spotted the healthy vegetable filled salad I made the day before.  I took one fork full of the healthiness and dumped it in the garbage. I returned to my computer with a heaping handful of salt and vinegar chips and a fresh cup of coffee.

After the last chip was delightfully digested I began to craft a scene that was sure to send me soaring to the top of a best sellers list. I would love to tell you about it, but the barking from the drenched dogs made me practically rip my hair out. They came running in at such speed all 3 slid across the wood floor and into the table causing the clothes that were still not folded to tumble on the floor. I’ll assume it was pay back as they proceeded to roll themselves into the clothes. Well, 2 can play the pay back game, all 3 were shuffled into their crate with a slamming of the latch! When I sat back at my desk, I slammed my hands onto the keyboard and deleted my best seller scene. In pure defeat, I hung my head in my hands and sobbed.

I sobbed for my characters, for my lost words, for the pile of clothes now needing to be laundered again. Somehow through my sobs I determined this was the boys fault. He was having a bit too much fun on the phone with his friends. He should have known I was working and the dogs needed tending too, so now he was going to sit at the table and compute at least 50 algebra questions. He didn’t even bother to fight me, which made my heart melt. I watched as he sat there and dutifully did his work. I could not let him go on, I could not go on!  I ran in the bathroom to hide my shame. I emerged smiling and happy to announce we were going to the local five and dime and he could get anything he wanted. Still he said nothing. I think he is too used to the highs and lows.  [What I really think is that he rides out the lows knowing he will benefit from the high!]

When we returned he retrieved back to the second floor to call his friend and give details of his prize for dealing with me. My computer was beckoning me but the clothes needed to be transferred into the drier. I passed the kitchen clock and realized my husband would be home shortly and I could not allow him to be greeted with no dinner. By this time the fullness front he chips wore off and I was famished. I set out to whip up a seven coarse meal but sadly was hit with the fact that I had not food shopped in a while. I debated running back out but before I knew it I was on the phone and ordering an over load of carbs, grease, fried something or another with a side of healthiness. As I waited for my husband and food delivery I sat back at my desk with determination to complete a scene.

My mind was blank, I had to scroll up to high and read what was written to familiarize myself as to what should come next. When the words started to form I could not sit still in my seat.  The heat started from my toes and stopped at the nape of my neck. I’m pretty sure I was sweating from behind my ears. I tried reaching for the ceiling fan chain but the stupid new dining room  table that the fan hangs over prevent such. Rage cause more heat than I could handle, I had no choice than to stand on my front porch flapping my shirt in desperation to cool down. My neighbor had the nerve to wave to me!  Embarrassment caused a laugh reflex as I waved back. I slid back towards my door hopefully out of sight as the laugh turned into a full on belly chuckle. I breezed back into the house, shouting up to the boy making sure all was right in his world. The door opening and closing alerted the dogs that I forgot were punished. I allowed them to shower me with affection as they followed me through the rush of a house cleaning.

My husband finally home and dinner delivered. [Bless his soul, he never complains  about a thing, he could care less what the house looked like or what was or was not on the table.] We recap the day and discuss issues that needed tending too.  As I clear the table, the boy return to the second floor, the 3 dogs enjoy scraps from dad before he tunes into whatever t.v. program interest him. I figure since all matters discussed, bellies full and each in their corner of the house that it was the perfect time to finish a scene.

As I sat and stared at the screen hoping for magic, the guilt of what I ate agitated me to tears. The tears turned to anger, the anger turned into a hot flash. Not being able to tear off my clothing fast enough caused irritation. My flaring around apparently was a funny sight which made my husband laugh. I guess from the look of death shot his way he figured out quickly to focus  back on his  t.v. program.  Finally disrobed and defeated I too went to the second floor to soak in a cool bath.

My loving , caring, understanding family has learned to ride the highs and lows of this menopause thing. I just hope my characters learn to ride along too!

Work with me.

I beg my muse to work with me.  I mean really I think she has turned her back on me.  ( well who needs her?)

She has always sat by me and gave me the push I need. Lately she is so far in front of me I think she is looking for someone else to talk to.  I think she is annoyed that I just have not had the time to listen to her.  She seems not to care that the weather broke for a little bit in my neck of the woods and I needed a healthy dose of vitamin-D.  She certainly does not want to listen to the fact that I am still a mother and wife. I invite her to come along on errands. I would love for her to pick up the slack when it comes to house keeping. I could certainly use her improvisation when it comes to schooling the boy.  And I tell her all the time, she can feel free to entertain the fury members of the family, but she ignores me.

My muse just does not want to listen  to reason as to why I need to get away with my family and leave her at the computer waiting for my return.  I think she is sick and tired of the fact that the key board has been quite. She does not care that the house needs to be in order for the dog sitter to have easy access to their needs. She hates the fact that there is water in my hand instead of the many cup and coffee that helps the key board perk up. She has no patience when I leave the volume up high on the phone instead of hitting mute and kicking up the radio volume. ( which she knows motivates me to make the key board sing)  I think she’s a little annoyed that I have ignored her shove a few too many times.

What she really needs to do is work with me on is this menopause thing happening! I need her to work on keeping me focused. She has to work with me through the ups and downs. She has to stop me from expressing the crazy over the top highs and lonely lows through my characters that have no idea why they are twisting and turning line after line.  She has stopped trying to keep the season scenes in order, one minute they are in the deep freeze of winter and the next the sultry  humid days of summer. I think she forgot that she is supposed to be pushing me through a fictional crime thriller.  She has allowed the characters to be your average next door neighbors! She needs to work with me and stop them from being vulnerable!  I have tried to ask her why she took a strong character and in just a few sentences made her submissive.  She has not stopped me from inserting rage in a character that was once so meek!

I beg her to help me show the rawness of emotions for a particular character but she just leaves me begging!   She needs to work with me on one very important character but she is just choosing to ignore me.  I think she is punishing me for not listening to her!  I really do not think she believes me when I tell her I was trying!  I mean, I  was sort of listening as I was cleaning up my yard. I was trying to tune in to her as I was teasing the dogs with the hose. I thought I heard her whispering as I was bouncing on the trampoline with my boy but the sound of my bones creaking was loud!  I wasn’t sure if it was  her buzzing in my ear as I was preparing the soil in the vegetable garden for next months plant or the carpenter bee trying to burrow into the garden wall. So I naturally flared around like a drunk ninja and continued prepping!  Perhaps it was she that was causing me to fidget in my lounge char instead of the blazing early evening sun.  I tried to tell her I earned that moment in the sun. Not only did she not care what I did or did not do to earn that, but neither did the boy, the husband, the 3 dogs or the cat!

My muse needs to work with me and get into my groove! I mean really I have living to do, things to grow, family to tend to, sun to soak in and off the chart hormones to deal with! ….


Write what you know

Write what you know, write what I know!

I know that it is beautiful out today and I want to be filling up on vitamin-D, but errands had to be run. I know when I returned from the errands that I tried to talk the boy into starting the spring clean up of the yard, but he was in the middle of an intense live chat game. I know I was going to grab my book and take advantage of the light nature provided today but a favorite pair of work pants needed to be laundered for my husband. I know I was going to clear off my front porch and watch my neighborhood come alive but the dogs barking in my ear from the window prevented that.

I know I opened my windows and settled for the fresh air flowing in as my characters fill up on vitamin -D.  The youngest character may still be trying to decide what the truth is but he may as well decide while gliding through the spring air on a swing in his new local park.  His captive thinks she has every right to let the sun color her cheeks while her heart warms from watching him enjoy himself.  Her spouse dutifully runs to the store for the picnic necessities. He can’t help but shed a layer and roll down the car windows while singing along to the booming radio. ( I’m sure he was listening to “Walking on Sunshine”)

The  oldest character knows it’s going to be a long time before he can enjoy the warmth on his aging bones with his wife that he finally reconnected with. So why not take her to her favorite scenic park for a nice long stroll?  His spouse stops often to smell the blooming flowers knowing the task ahead of her is going to be to hold on tight to the reconnection and understand that he needs  closure.

The mother character, well she has no desire to enjoy anything. She has no clue spring is in the air. For her the sun rose and set on her boy, all she feels is darkness now. Her world will remain dark along with her action until her son is in her arms and the police rectify their wrong. The sun glaring in her eyes as she’s trying to direct her husband where to turn from the map flapping infuriates her to the point she rather be searching for her boy alone.  The only reason she is allowing her husband to chauffeur her is because she can not be seen.  The mother would just assume burn  the map and the car he’s driving but she has learned to think before she acts.

However the dog knows it’s spring and is desperately jumping at the car window to be graced with the opportunity to have her nose to the ground.  Her instincts are instructing her to sniff out all the succulent creatures emerging from the ground. She would love nothing more than to be rolling around in the softened dirt and stay on her back a while exposing her belly to sun and hope for a good girl rub.  She gives the mother no choice than to allow her time in the sun.

I know the characters having their fun in the sun have no clue that the mother will darken their days and all the vitamin-D available will not save them.  I know with help from the oldest character, the mother will be in the light.

I know that if I continue to plot a day in the sun for the mother that I will miss mine. I know that all errands are ran, wi-fi is unplugged ,work pants are hung, and the dogs wore themselves out from barking.

I know that my coffee will taste delicious on my back porch as I watch the boy bounce on his trampoline. My husband’s coffee will have to simmer as he wears any old pair of pants while storing the winter shovels and plow and digs out the gardening shovels and lawn mower. I know the dogs will lay at my feet in silence waiting for their good dog belly rubs.   AH! the vitamin-D is what I know I need.

I know I will be singing…

“I love to sing-a About the moon-a and the June-a and the spring-a.”

(by Al Jolson and Cab Calloway)

Sunday Dinner

       In my family Sunday is time to gather at the dining room table to carve the meat, slice the bread, scoop the pasta and pour sauce over everything. ( or is it gravy?) Of course while everything is being  prepped, it is also time to “discuss”  who is late, who is not coming, who is sitting where, who wants the pink, red or blue cup and who no longer eats meat, bread, pasta or who the sauce repeats on.  As the cook I ignore everyone and bring everything to the table as I stand at the kitchen sink eating my meal ready to get a jump-start on the dishes.

        My back is turned and dishes are strategically placed in the dish rack, like a well-played game of Tetris while the “discussion” turns to who can do what better, who was the worst/best child and who is raising the best/worst child, who owes who money and well… who annoyed who!  To my delight silence fills the air as the non meat-eating, no pasta or bread  and no sauce consumers  clear their plates and leave little left for the late comers.  As this all orchestrates on behind me I feel the urge to turn around and throw a dish at the ingrates and tell them we heard the same “discussion” last week.  Lucky for them my characters distracted me!

         I felt as thought my characters were getting a bit redundant.  Sunday dinner provided clarity that redundancy creates familiarity and helps readers see how characters can move forward.  

        I know the readers are capable of digesting that my  youngest character is in a situation that he should not understand, and that he just needs his mom. They know  he has no control over how much is placed upon his plate. He only has control of how long it takes him to clear his plate; if at all. He can laugh or cry when he feels the urge not when a reader thinks he ought to. The oldest character earned the right to receive the best cut of meat. Just because it was written that he is a bit of a hard ass, readers should know how he was hardened and see how he softens. 

        As half of my body was in the oven scraping drippings off , I understood that readers have a firm grasp on emotions too.  They will see my main character is not week or strong she is a mother on a mission. She does not need to justify every emotion, even if the reader is not a mother they will understand why she does what she does.   As I carefully counted the coffee scoops for the percolator I realized that readers do not need to know every little detail like how many scoops go into a full pot (10 scoops if you’re wondering) they only need to know it was a full piping hot-pot of strong coffee. 

         While I wrapped the left overs in takeout food containers (well come on!, I am not about to let anyone leave with the good Tupperware) it came to me that no one cares what the food is in as long as they are leaving with lunch for the next day or a midnight snack.  It was clear to me that readers don’t need or want to know  the name of the manufacturer who made the knife my character used to commit a crime; they just need to know who committed the crime ,what was used to commit the crime, who it was perpetrated on and why. 

        By the end of the Sunday  dinner and as I hugged, kissed and walked the little ones to the car to steal one last hug . I knew that by the time readers got to the end of my story they would not care which character ate the meat, bread, pasta or sauce. Readers only want to fill up on the juicy details , devour the repercussions and savor the last chapter as if it were their very own piece of the pie.  And if I’m lucky the reader will save enough room to digest my next book.  

How many words should be in a chapter?

How many words should be in a chapter?

I have read many books, but did not pay attention to how many words or even pages were in a chapter. I simply turned the pages and could not wait to discover who did what and why.  When I got to the last chapter I was either shocked, relieved or wanting more.

I researched at length just how to format a chapter . I think I got a firm grasp on what goes into a chapter.

For instance:

If one of my characters receives the phone call she  desperately waited for about the location of her son, she will rush out the door.                                                                                        If my character rushed out of the house forgetting to turn the stove burners off and jumps in her car. The chapter should reveal where she drove off to or leave you needing to turn to the next chapter to discover if the information was credible. The chapter should also reveal the consequences of leaving the burner on, or perhaps it should keep you guessing for a few more chapters.

I researched even further how many words a chapter should have. I discovered that a chapter could have as little as a paragraph, a sentence and to my surprise it could just have one word!  Yea, ONE word. Well any writer that can draw in a reader with just one word is my idol!  Speaking of just one word, have you heard about the best-selling book currently on AMAZON ? The pages are BLANK! Ummmm…yea that’s my new idol.  I think I idolize it because that “writer” is on  the best sellers list.  However I could never deliver blank pages.  My characters are so busy plotting and twisting their way through chapter after chapter, they’re too strong to be silenced.  So I’ll have to live with not making AMAZON’s best sellers list! ( although I desperately want to be on someones best sellers list!!)

My  youngest character still does not understand what is going on. He is having trouble knowing his own truth. He is conflicted in his head who is telling him the truth, having great trouble realizing who really loves him. My oldest character has yet to hear that his final case that allowed him to take his neglected wife on a month-long Hawaiian vacation is about to lure him back in.  They have no care how long the chapters are, all they know is they are moving forward.  When one or two of them are left out of a chapter they use that time to plot just how far they will twist and turn. My characters like the time and love when I fill the chapters with their abilities, therefore I could never just give them one paragraph, one sentence and certainly not one word. What they will not reveal to me is how many words or how many pages their chapter needs!

While each of my characters are busy I research further on an answer. I think half my library is filled with chapter research books.   I devour each book and just when I think I have the answer the next chapter tells me other wise. I begin to feel like a failure, like I am not a writer after all, like maybe that “writer” of the blank pages has the right idea!  As I begin to empty my coffee into the sink my youngest character decides that he knows the truth. He decides his short years within the chapters have all been a lie. He begins to believe that he was never loved by the people who he thought were his parents, he begins to believe they used him as some kind of sick revenge.   He started to develop familiar feeling for the people who took him.

My youngest character has forced me to put away the research books and write his revelation in the next chapter but he has not told me when to stop or  how to stop he just needs me to keep going until he is out of breath. At the same time my oldest character is hearing what transpired while he was on vacation, so now he needs to jump into action. But he can’t jump in on my youngest’s  chapter so he has to wait, he needs to cool his heals until the youngest is out of breath.  Yet neither, not the youngest or the oldest has told me how many words they need!

Through all the research and character interruption, I have learned word count does not matter.   Nor does it matter how many pages it takes my characters to move forward. It only matters that my characters move forward and that by the last chapter they ought to have shocked me, left me relieved or  begging me to write their sequel!

Of course all  that I have learned, and what my characters need has to bearing on what the editors will do to us !!!!                                                  

The Title

I was woken by the sound of the screen door slamming as my husband left for his extra long day of work. I mention extra long because it seems that his 12 hour day is not enough, and being that he missed a day due to the marvelous March storm he had hours to make up!

The bang was followed by the 2 little dogs screaming from their comfortable cozy sleeping crates at the foot of my bed. I wonder why they wait for him to leave, seriously they know he is  quite capable of opening the latch. But no, they lay there peacefully sleeping beside the fireplace just waiting to cause havoc.  Do they hold in their morning needs just to please him or annoy me? I could just let them cross their little legs but being that the boy just can not sleep in his own room and is snuggled so sweetly under my blanket I shuffle in and release the hounds. The big dog is at my heals just waiting to pounce on the little dogs and continuously jump knocking me in the chin each time until the back door is ajar.

So now all 3 dogs are out. The cat starts to fuss. Her food dish is full but not over flowing so that needs immediate rectifying. Oh! and the water bowel which all the animals share is not fresh enough for her. Well now that the water is running, why not fill the coffee pot and begin the magic of turning tap water into delicious aroma filled morning pick me up.

As I’m preparing the dogs breakfast, I notice a sink full of dishes. Perhaps while I was sleeping there was some sort of party in my house?  I mean I started the night in my crowded bed but my youngest needed that tiny little space for his foot to flop on, so I retrieved in defeat to the couch. How did I not hear the party going on?  So as I’m slicing the hot dogs for the 2 little dogs and adding broth and cheese to the big boys breakfast, my mind start racing on what I should take out for dinner.  Just as I decided on a simple bone warming soup of lentils, I thought of a title for my soon to be released book.

Yes soon to be, I mean so I have not reached or conjured up the last few chapters yet or spent gut wrenching hours on the re-write it will soon (sooner or later) be released! I step away from the kitchen counter and  search for my writing pen. Ummm, not just any ordinary pen will do, it has to be my writing pen. Of course during the party that I missed someone must have used it. Now I make a mental note to write whoever touched it into my work and kill them off!  My shiny metal red pen with black ink and grips to match is not at my desk, not tucked into the spirals of my notebook, not on my coffee table next to the couch where I slept. It was G .O. N .E, gone! I begin my search through angered eyes. I felt my eyes were bulging so that they were going to pop out. I am stomping and slamming all objects in my path. I reach for the phone to call my beloved hard-working husband who provides mighty for his family to tell him off. I was intent on making his moment  as frustrating as mine. I mean who the, who in the…just why did he slam that door and wake the screaming animals, how could he do that to me?

The wretched sound of the big dogs nails on the aluminum back door caused me to spin on my heels and grab the water bottle. Ah, the water bottle, well you see the big mooch is petrified of water, the very sight of the water bottle causes him to curl on the ground with his tail between his legs. I show him the bottle through the door. Of course he reacted just as I knew he would, like I wanted him to. The poor big mooch is curled in a ball on a heap of snowy ice. Well now my heart breaks and I kneel beside him apologizing as the little ones are jumping all over me.  There I am kneeling in the snowy ice talking to all 3 of them, telling them I just needed a cup of coffee and the day will get better.

After the morning feeding ritual and 2 cups of coffee consumed I now feel a bit more like I am ready for the day. My boy is still snuggled in my blanket, perfect time for me to sit at my desk and make the sooner or later soon! Still no pen in sight. Well it is the age of technology so who needs that pen when I have  a key board?  (me…me…I do) I sit and stare at the key board with a blank mind. I can not for the life of me remember the award-winning title I was sure would bring me to the NY Times best seller list. That stupid pen, if no one touched my pen, if that door did not slam if only there were no dishes in the sink.

The dishes, that’s right dinner. Soup it is. No dish soap, oh! gees yea I have laundry to do. The marvelous March storm dumped more ice than snow, perfect for sleigh riding, only problem is I thought  spring was coming early so I threw sleigh riding essentials in the attic just last week. Of course the essentials have already been plagued with attic smells so they need to be washed. The sled, where did I put that sled? Of course I never took it out of the car, one crisis averted. Sifting throughout the essentials I notice there is only 2 gloves and of course they don’t match. One is mine the other is the boys, one for warmth and the other water proof.

The boy…gee he’s still sleeping. Well that can not be. I have a lesson to get him through. He has fractions to master and a book due back at the library at the end of the week that we are not even half through yet.  The water is filling up in an empty washing machine, as I fight with the school dresser draws. I see it, I see the shiny red pen rolling back and forth as I fight with the draw. The title hit me again. I will make the best sellers list yet! I squeeze my swollen fingers in the draw and retrieve the pen. I shuffle back over to my desk thumbing through the notebook pages for a blank. I pause to read the well plotted out scene that I was patting myself on the back for the previous night. I wonder who wrote such gibberish, now I have to fix it and make it at least read like a coherent person wrote it.  I open the file on my computer and make my key board sing.

The lovely song coming from my keyboard is interrupted by the sound of my cell phone. I try my hardest to ignore it. But my mind immediately goes to the dark side. What if the middle guy is in a ditch somewhere, what if the oldest needs advice about one of the grandkids who’s bleeding he can’t control what if it’s the hospital trying to locate my husbands next of kin?  Well that phone solicitor will never dial my number again!

My key board refuses to sing for me now. The boy is still sleeping. Ok, well you know what fine, I can watch the season finally that I DVR’d, the episode that caused me to resist the urge to troll Face Book. How could I not read the millions of posts that would spoil the ending for me? I mozy over to my glorious magic machine and brew another cup.

Plopped on my couch still draped with the boys blanket, I snuggle under it with the 2 little dogs and the big mooch at my feet. All 4 of us as comfortable as could be when again the annoyance of my cell phone rang. I check the caller id and decide to ignore.  There was no one in a ditch, no blood and no next of kin needed. I make it through the episode quickly by fast forwarding the commercials. I am not thrilled, I was not in shock and I was not an emotional mess so for me the episode was a let down. I think to myself that I could have written it better. Write, written, wrote …Oh! come on what was the title that was sure to send me on a world book signing tour?

The 3 dogs start their dance of needing to go out. They just absolutely had to get out and bark at the grass growing under the snowy ice. Now I remember the sledding essentials needed washing. The stupid machine is full of water and every time I tried to place the essentials in I caused a mess on the floor.  Hmmm..floor? tour? I got it. I know how I am going to have my main character find her son.  I know who is going to help her. But what was that stupid title I thought of?, it must not been as good as I thought.

My key board is beginning to sound lovely, that darn phone again. My beloved hard-working husband is asking me about my day so far. My mind was telling him that it was fine and lovingly inquired about his, but out of my crazy mouth came…what do you care any how? It started horrible because you didn’t let the dogs out and you slammed the flipping door!  I went on and on about the dishes, the clothes, the lack of soap and the fact that my car was covered in snowy ice! And you know what he said…he had the nerve, the audacity to tell me that he was sorry he had to leave early and  was more sorry that he would not be home for dinner. Well now I feel like a fool, but do I admit it…NO, I continue with “well now what do you suppose I do for dinner?

I return to the keyboard which punishes me with silence. The heat is rising from the souls of my feet, the nape of my neck feels like a flame thrower is aimed upon it and moisture is forming on my scalp. I waddle to my sink and splash cold water on my face and fill a tall glass and gulp it down.(yes…folks MENOPAUSE)  The title is back in my thoughts. But the thought of how I just treated my beloved husband brings me to my knees with tears. I sobbed out an apology to the man who is my everything, of course he accepts, which does nothing for the deep shame I am feeling.

The big mooch again drives me mad with his nails on the aluminum, which he discovered at an early age would bring him and the little ones in the house immediately. Rushing to the door which is just passed the washing machine I realize I still did not clean the over flow mess. Well now I am on my butt and the boy is looking down at me demanding his iPad. I scream at him like he just asked for a pint of blood.  The boy begins to tell me just how mean I am, his angry frown turns into tears. I scramble to my feet and grab him in for the hug of a life time that he tried with all his force to fight against.  Not only did I bring him the IPad but a breakfast in bed  fit for the prince he is.

I return to my magic machine for another cup of sanity. each time I pass the counter where the magical cup stood I indulged. I passed the counter with the vacuum, the dust mop and finally wet mop. I passed it as I dragged the bucket of cleaning supplies room to room finally finishing the last cold drop with delight.  Chores were complete, well except for the laundered essentials, which I am patiently waiting for the machine to empty so I can properly put the essentials in before running the water.

I made a deal with the boy since he awoke to madness, I figure he deserved a day off from schooling. He was contents in the room nestled in the bed by the fire face -timing his friend. Perfect time for me to jot down the title . NOPE, not going to happen for the life of me I can not remember my award-winning, book signing tour , NY Times best selling list TITLE !

I look up at the time on my computer…11:11. I think I heard somewhere that  was supposed to be good luck.