I say the same thing over and over again, so much so that my better half wants to put tape over my mouth. I always say that “The seeds of my end are in my beginning.”
People always ask me how I can write a whole story. I have a few friends that often only write the beginning of their books, but then they don’t know where to take their stories. For me, a book starts out as a little idea. Maybe it’s a character that I think would be fun or even a job I’d like to explore. After I have my one little inkling, I tend to do something with my hands. I paint rooms. I fold laundry. I cook or wash dishes. Agatha Christie said “The best time to plan a book is while you're doing the dishes.” True that. I like to do things that are repetitive and it opens my mind to wander. The story grows from there, but I won’t even try to plot out an outline until I know the end. I have had books where I thought I knew how it was all going to wrap up and then about three chapters in, my characters stop talking to me. So, I don’t do that anymore. I simply go about my sweeping or scrubbing or car fixing, and think about how everything will finish up before I sit down with my computer and my better half. Once I know the end, only then do I plot the chapters one by one. When the outline is finished, the real typing begins. So far Monica and I have never disagreed with how a book will finish. But that might change in the future, I have the idea of how the series will end in 12:05 a.m. The last Ice Era Chronicle. Monica isn’t a fan. I have some time to convince her that I’m right. We will see if I’m successful.
I saw another author talking about her kids on one of the social media platforms. After I read the post about writing sex and listening to My Little Pony, I realized how hard it must be for parents to write and look after little ones. Kids have a hard time understanding that you need silence to write. Silence isn’t children’s strong suits, unless you give them lots and lots of candy. That way their mouth is full! I don’t suggest that.
Anyway, I have the wonderful added bonus of having older kids while I write. I have two teenage daughters and they are amazing. My eldest gives me tips for better hashtags for Instagram and is always up for a lively debate on the way a character should die. My youngest helps out around the house when Monica and I are deep into marketing or editing. I am so blessed to have the kind of kids I do. They really are supportive of the writing with little to no judgments. Sure, I am still a mobile ATM some days and they often ask for a ride or a sleepover, but when I need them for something book related, they’re always there for me.
I don’t know what it would be like if my kids were young, but as teens theses two are crazy helpful. I love their imagination.
On a side note, Monica and I were editing a sex scene and we thought we were alone. We were sitting on the couch in our living room.
Monica turns to me and says:
“What’s another word for this part with the precum? I don’t like that you use the word ‘spot pools’ in this sentence.”
From the kitchen my eldest calls out. “Maybe the precum drips, not pools?”
Okay, I’ll admit 50 % of me wanted to tell her to wash her mouth out with soap… but she was right. It was a better word choice. I love that my kids roll with the fact that they have parents that write what we do. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
I was at a Wounded Warrior Project Event and another veteran asked why I don’t write about my military career. I realized this isn’t the first time someone has asked Monica and I that question. She has some great stories from her time in Afghanistan and some not so great stories. I could talk about Iraq, Afghanistan, or even when I was stationed in England or other areas around the United States. The thing is, Monica and I didn’t set out to write memories. We set out to have a vacation from life. We were connecting after I came home from war. The Ice Era Chronicles are our outlet, our love on paper, our healing through words. At one point, I faced suicide, as did Monica. I don’t want to struggle with that right now. The writing we do now is fiction, but it’s also self-discovery in our fake created world.
Monica and I were working through our Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) when we first sat and played around with a story of an assassin, Karma. At the time, I didn’t realize how much of me was Karma and how much of Monica was Rea. Thinking back, I believe Monica and I discovered pieces of our soul in that made-up world. Rea struggled with his need to look after Gears. (That’s Monica’s Mom, probably.) And Rea often mentioned how Karma could just get up and leave him at any time. That was absolutely how Monica felt and it reflected in the pages. At the same time, Karma kept saying she was staying no matter what, and she wanted to be there for Rea. I identified with that. I was all in. Even when it came to looking after Gears.
I guess, over coffee, we grew as people. We met as these characters. Monica and I got to know each other on a totally different level. If I were to write some of the events in my military career, (especially the darker stuff) it might rip me open and be too large a wound to face. But on a Water Base or riding a harvester train, I can live painful things. I can be happy and sad without the emotions being too raw.
I hope that all makes sense.
One day, I plan to write about my experiences in the Army, but not yet. Monica might write about her life in the military as well, but some things for her are too haunting. I understand and I always try to protect her. I would never push her to talk about the Army, let alone write about it.
As for military romances… Monica wants to write about two soldiers that we knew in England. She might write a romance for them one day. We will see. The Ice Era Chronicles keeps us pretty busy. And… I like it that way. I think she is calling me to have coffee right now.
While I took a break from writing on my blog, I started on a story that is a throw back. I always wanted to write a story for Brice. If you remember him, he was a side character in 1:05 a.m. An Ice Era Chronicle.
Long ago, I wanted to write a love story for Brice and I created an outline... so while I sat at home, I wrote it. I don't know what I will do with this book or if it will ever be published, but it exists and the novel made me happy. Brice's story (also known as Hands Of Clay) would fall after Grinding My Gears at the height of Snow Flu. It ended up being a male-male and what I love about this story is that it's not about the action. I created this story to highlight how boring life would be too. All my books have so much going on, but for some people, they just work and live and they don't have big grand adventures. For Brice and Clay, that's what it's like for them.
Here is a part of the first chapter. This is unedited and a bit raw, but I hope you check it out.
Place: A ramshackle hut in the snowy areas of the Confederate Territories of North America (C.T.O.N.A.)
Time: 1:45 a.m.
Brice licked the gash on his arm like a dog licking his wounds. When the bleeding stopped, he tightened the knot on his shirt wrapped around his crushed foot. The Originals had broken his toes trying to glean information from him. The cloth looked like a psychiatrist’s ink blob test.
Struggling, he couldn’t bend forward with his broken ribs to tend to the injury. At this point, Brice simply prayed that the appendage would be fine. At least fine in the sense that he didn’t get gangrene. Whether he would be able to walk or run again was too big a question to face right now.
As Brice picked a new jagged cut to close using his saliva, his gaze popped to Agent Toby’s still form. Toby was faced away from him on the other side of the huge boulder in the middle of the sagging hut. The chains attached to the agent were also wrapped around the massive rock and locked in place. Both Toby and Brice had been secured to the five-foot squat stone probably because the little hut would be easy to escape. With the heavy shackles around both Brice’s wrists and ankles, escape was out even if the walls were nothing more than bundles of sticks.
“Toby?” Brice whispered. “Agent Tobias?”
The other man didn’t move. In fact, Brice’s ex-boyfriend hadn’t moved for the last two days. Brice tried to remember when he last saw Toby do anything. On some level Brice knew the agent was dead, he just couldn’t tackle that reality without losing hope.
Before Brice could whisper again, the door to the run-down shack was tossed open with a bang. The wood struggled to stay on its hinges. Two Original members dragged a mangled stranger into the tiny space. The guy was dumped next to the rock and secured like Toby and Brice. The new person’s face was nothing but blood, bruises, and swelling. One eye didn’t even open. For a second Brice met the stare of one of his captors. Not wanting to get beat again, he dropped his glare to the dirt and huddled into a ball.
The two men finished hooking the beat-up man to the boulder and then unlocked Toby. They hauled his ex-boyfriend out of the shanty. The door slammed shut. An ice sickle hanging from the hole in the roof fell and broke in half.
Brice wasn’t sure how long he stayed curled on the dirt floor, but the sound of thunder brought him out of his pain and cold limbs. Raising to a sitting position, Brice eyed the hole in the roof. He pushed the cracked plastic bowl under the opening and prayed for rain instead of sleet or hail or… God-forbid snow.
As the first drops hit the pathetic container, the stranger moaned. Brice turned in time to watch the man roll toward him and try to rise. The manacles rattled as if cackling at the guys effort. He collapsed on his second attempt.
“The chains aren’t long enough for you to stand.” Brice leaned his head against the stone. “Save your energy.”
The man scooted toward the rock. Their eyes met. This man’s one open eye was a green-blue like pictures of the ocean. The color Brice would’ve described as clear aquamarine. The agony in their depth stole Brice’s breathe long enough to distract him from his aching limbs.
“I think The Originals must poop out chains. I don’t know how they always have so many.”
Brice cracked a smile and the stranger returned his grin before he crept closer.
Brice had been beaten too, but this person was covered in more blood than anything else. His shirt was nothing more than two shredded pieces hanging on his biceps. His gray underwear clearly offered no protection from the elements, and he had no pants or shoes. His brown hair was shaved short so not even that part of his body would be warm. One grimy sock held on valiantly to his right foot.
“I…” The man ran a hand over his short bloody brown hair. “It’s cold here. I…”
As a rain-sleet mixture pelted the flimsy walls, the temperature continued to drop. The air that puffed from Brice’s lips was a white mist hanging between them.
“I know,” Brice whispered. “I guess we can talk about the weather.”
“Yeah, the weather or whatever polite conversation you want.” Once more the new guy crawled closer to Brice’s shoulder. “You were here first. Prisoner’s choice.” He made a sound that was a cross between a laugh and a groan. He tried to hug his arms around his middle for warmth. “Are we outside Dallas?”
“I don’t think we’re in Dallas anymore. It’s too cold here. I think we’re further into the C.T.O.N.A.” Brice wrapped an arm around the stranger and pulled him into his arms. Since his shirt was on his foot, the other man’s cheek met with Brice’s naked chest. The bitter chill ate at Brice as well, but a deep part of him told him to help the brunette, no matter the cost. “North.”
“I don’t remember some of the journey here and…” The half-sentence ended with teeth chattering as the stranger hugged Brice’s chest. “Thank you.”
“We’ll be fine. Close your eyes. Or at least close the one that’s open,” Brice directed. “I’m going to use my gift.”
The man did as Brice dictated. As soon as he was no longer looking at him, Brice summoned his added ability. Using his tongue, Brice began to lick at any open cuts on the stranger’s face. There were many. Although Brice hated the taste of blood, and knew that ingesting body fluids carried health risks, he couldn’t seem to stop himself. Gently, he licked and let his saliva stop as much of the flow as he could. The small action was what he could offer other than his body heat.
Moving down the man’s neck, Brice licked at a long wound across the stranger’s chest. When he glanced up, the brunette stared at him.
“My saliva stops bleeding and helps natural clotting and healing for the epidermis. It’s my gift,” Brice murmured in hopes The Originals wouldn’t hear him. His captors had been known to keep people for their extra abilities. “I told you to keep your eye closed.”
“It’s hard when a stranger is licking me.” The man tried to smile but his expression ended in a grimace.
“I will give you an C plus for effort.”
“Only a C plus? Fuck that noise. I deserve an A for keeping my eyes closed while you licked my face.”
Brice found a smile buried somewhere deep and grinned.
“My turn.” The man snuggled into his arms. “Close your eyes. Both of them. I’m going to—”
“Use your gift?”
“Yeah, but the least you could do is let me finish my sentence. I’m freezing to death after all.”
As Brice’s eyes closed, he laughed quietly. The stranger placed his hands flat on Brice’s chest. The move could’ve been to fend off hypothermia, but before he could ask what the gift was, Brice felt the sensation.
A flood of happiness filled him and overflowed into every inch of his soul. Suddenly, Brice could feel the summer breeze on his face and sunshine melting away the chill in his bones. In an instant, Brice was transported back to his favorite place where joy ruled. He was in that spot near the ocean. The rocky area was where he and his brother had built sandcastles. No longer was Brice in the hut, but now he was with his parents before they died. He was reliving the time before him and his brother, Colin, met Keith and became assassins for the Seemyah.
As the feeling of childhood carefree happiness began to fade, slowly Brice opened his eyes and he returned to reality. A little dazed, he glanced down at the man in his arms.
“You have a nice smile,” the stranger said.
Brice wanted to smile more at the compliment. He figured the tingling in his chest and the warmth must be the lingering effects of this man’s gift. The multiplying heat spreading through his arms chased away the frosty air.
As he tried to come up with a thank you, Brice noted the streaks of blood on his pectorals. Those were fresh and wet. He picked up the brunette’s hand. The tips of all his fingers were split open. Red drops gathered on the skin to roll toward his palm.
“The bleeding fingers is my side effect.” The stranger tried to tug his hands away. “It’s no biggie.”
“No biggie?” Brice kept his grip on the other man and brought the brunette’s fingers to his mouth.
“It’s not a big deal. No biggie.” The sentence ended with a shiver, and one by one, Brice licked the tiny cuts until the bleeding stopped.
“You can’t afford to lose more blood.”
“It was worth it to see your face like that.”
You may have wondered why I have not been posting. I'm sorry about my absence. Honestly, it was a few things. I thought I'd be releasing 3:05 a.m. but some factors changed.
But more than my book not coming out, my lack of posts stems from two issues I faced...
First, back when there was so much about Covid-19, I decided I didn't want to weigh in on any of that. This might shock you, but I'm not a doctor. I also live in a small town where the amount of people I see and interact with are so few. As time marched on, it appeared to me that Covid-19 became more political than looking into and facing an illness properly. That was when I really knew that I had no place in making comments about it.
Just when the Covid-19 posts started to simmer down, Black Lives Matter and the riots here in Minnesota began to dominate social media. I looked at all the Twitter posts, Facebook comments, and blogs and felt inadequate. Some people said it was our duty as writers to write about all these social injustices to help the world change. I'm not the person to be spouting ideas on how people of color can change ANYTHING nor do I have any good suggestions on how white people can change either.
My limitations are many. After talking to my friend, Javonte, I became sad as well. By the time he was sixteen, he'd been handcuffed by the police nine times. I have no clue how to make life better for him. I only see a smart, strong, kind person... And all of this makes me want to cry. My tears offer nothing for a better world.
And so... I didn't post on Black Lives Matter. And I didn't post on Covid-19 or wearing masks or riots in the cities sparked by George Floyd. Instead, I sat back.
I know that might seem like I don't care, but that's not true. I do care are about all these issues, but I am real with myself enough to know that hiding behind my computer making judgments and suggestions, helps no one. I think it might hurt some people instead. In this moment, I decided silence might be my better option.
And now we get to today and not much has changed. I can still write about #BLM or masks or Covid, so you might be wondering why I'm back on my blog. Amusingly enough, it's because of a friend of mine. She pointed out that the one thing I can blog about is The Ice Era Chronicles and what I'm writing. (Besides it being the one thing I know, it is also my favorite topic.)
That means if you are here, grab a chair and get comfy. My blog posts are not going to be about the social injustices in this world, but rather the ones my characters face in their world. And if I talk about race, creed, or religion it will be about those issues deep in the Northern Earth Dens. And If I write about masks it will be for fighting Snow Flu.
Also, I made up my mind that I will share with you some of the other stories I'm working on. I hope you will come by my page to check all that out when you need a break from all the important and non important posts about all the crazy things happening in the real world outside my door .
Our Ice Era Chronicles in Order:
All future dates are subject to change.