Friday, August 27, 2010

Where Do I Go From Here?

Did you ever get knee deep in a story and wonder where it was going? Your characters have gotten themselves in a fix—a pickle, if you will—and suddenly, you can't find a way out. Been there. Done that. More times than I can count!

I'm the kind of person who works on more than one project at a time. I have to. I get momentum that propels me along for a space, then I bog down and eventually grind to a halt. Sometimes, I can bull through and finish. Other times.... Well.... Let's just say that I've got nearly as many unfinished projects as I have finished.

I don't know why this happens. I've tried to figure it out for years, but still no clue. It seems that the muse carries me only so far and then flits away, deciding that it's not as imperative to tell that story as it once was.

I'm sitting here at my desk, ignoring the “Unfinished” notebook open in front of me. What that is, is a record of all the stories I've got pending, their chapters, character lists, timelines, etc. From time to time, I finish a story and have myself a little celebration when I move the pages to the “Finished” notebook. Then I sit and twiddle my thumbs waiting for the next project to engage my attention. I go back to the old stories, but there's only so many times I can read through them without getting bored.

Maybe I took a wrong turn and didn't listen to my characters hard enough. Or maybe I'm just lazy and give up with the going gets difficult? Honestly, I don't know. I do try to finish, really I do! I don't start a story with the intention of leaving it and the characters hanging. I find it very frustrating that I can't complete all the projects I have pending. They're good stories, worth telling, but I gave up on them—or maybe they gave up on me?

In the meantime, I'm going to have to get my butt in gear and finish something. I just did a count and I've got 41 unfinished. On the finished side—42 (47 if I include my short stories, so I think I will). Of course, I probably didn't include my unfinished shorts.... But hey, who's counting?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Two Book Reviews

As a Blog Talk Radio host, I have the fun of talking to other authors about our craft. Recently, I was fortunate enough to be able to read the work of two of these incredible authors, Anjuelle Floyd and T.L. Wood. Below are reviews of their marvelous books. I highly recommend both and look forward to reading more by these two ladies! ~ Dellani

The Keeper of Secrets – Review

“Keeper of Secrets...Translations of an Incident”, is a wonderfully evocative book. Anjuelle Floyd provides a beautifully crafted emotional journey for her readers.

Each story revolves around a central incident – a conflict in a restaurant – that somehow involves each character, changing their lives.

“The Keeper of Secrets” is an emotional character study. Floyd writes with a penetrating tenderness as she explores the emotions of her characters, showing their strengths and flaws. The characters withstand her probing, stepping forth renewed; stronger, more confident and spiritually centered than before.

I greatly enjoyed “The Keeper of Secrets” and highly recommend it. I look forward to reading Floyd's next book, “Home”.

Eldohr Adventures – Search for the Lost Kingdom

“Eldohr Adventures – Search for the Lost Kingdom” by T.L. Wood is a wonderfully crafted, stirring adventure for young readers.

Eldohr is a land of myth and magic where kings and queens reign and dragons soar, terrorizing the countryside. Because of these dragons, Princess Zara of Castlegrove and Prince Elrick of Greengate, lose their parents.

The magic of the dreaded dragon, Alibastizor, is formidable. He captures Princess Zara and it is up to the selfish Prince Elrick to save her.
With the help of magical creatures, and his own sharp wits, Prince Elrick finds Princess Zara and saves her from Alibastazor's clutches.

“Search for the Lost Kingdom” is a thrilling read for children and adults. The pictures Wood paints with her words are vibrant and colorful. The story brings the reader into the world of Eldohr where anything is possible.

I greatly enjoyed “Eldohr Adventures – Search for the Lost Kingdom” and look forward to the next book in the series, “Quest for Windsoar.”

Monday, August 16, 2010

Where Does the Time Go?

It's been a busy summer. Some of you may know that I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December of 2009. I underwent chemo for 12 weeks, then after that, I had 6 weeks of radiation treatments. I found out several things when undergoing all the treatments, none of them particularly fun.

First of all, I'm allergic to one of the chemo meds. Next, I was allergic to the booster shot they gave me for my white blood cells gave me a very weird and uncomfortable reaction that the doctor had never seen before. My left leg got terribly swollen and they thought I had a blood clot. Later, my left hand did the same thing, starting with the middle finger. Lastly, my right ankle got so bad I had to use crutches to get around. Not fun! Fortunately, once I had the medicine out of my system, the swelling went away.

I didn't react very well to my hair falling out. In fact, it was quite traumatic. It's coming back in now, but I'm still not sure what color it intends to be. It looks like my regular brown on the bottom but the ends are blonde. It also seems to want to grow to a point at the top of my head. No matter how I comb it, it goes into this cupie doll swoosh. I told my kids I'm rockin' a faux hawk!

Radiation went pretty well, all things considered. It could have been a lot worse. The most annoying part was that the machine at the closest hospital broke down and couldn't be repaired. The next nearest machine is in Daytona, about 45 minutes away. Because of the way my treatments were scheduled, every day, Monday through Friday, I had to make that drive.

I think the hardest part of the radiation treatments was the fact that my family didn't really think them any big deal. I didn't have help with meals, house cleaning or any of the other little things that keep the family going. So I was making that 90 minute drive as well as running errands, dealing with kids and cooking dinner. It could have been worse, but it was bad enough.

I'm grateful that I got through my therapy so easily. After speaking to others, I know it could have been far worse. I'm glad it's behind me, thrilled I had such a fantastic surgeon, skilled oncologists and wonderful, caring nursing and professional staff. I have to say that through all of this, they were absolutely fantastic!

Most of you don't know who these people are, but I do, and I want to say a personal thank you to the following people:

Dr. Kimberly Clayton - the most incredible surgeon ever
Dr. Chew - medical oncologist
Dr. Factor - radiation oncologist
Bernie, Debbie, Jill - fantastic radiation techs
Becky - Dr. Factor's nurse
Adele, Paula and all the nurses and staff of Bert Fish Oncology Department

Thank you all. You made what could have been horrible far easier.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Vampire Hunter - Part 1

This short story was inspired by a silly thread on Facebook, the gist of which was "What if Hemingway wrote a vampire story?" After a short discussion, I got the idea for this story. Thanks Tim Cahoon & Bruce Sutton for the inspiration!

The bar door crashed open. Late afternoon sun streamed around the figure silhouetted there. Noises in the bar ceased. Everyone looked up, worried. No one ever came in like that unless there was trouble.

Raven wing hair whipped around the stranger's face. Dark sunglasses covered the eyes. Full, red lips slashed across the lower part of the face. The firm chin was softened slightly by a shallow cleft. A long leather duster billowed in the wind. Broad brimmed hat covered the forehead, concealing the features. What was most remarkable about the stranger was the amount of armament. Of secondary importance was that the hunter was female.

A soft wolf whistle broke the silence. She turned her face to the sound, raising her sunglasses. The men in the room took in more details as she scanned the room. Her eyes were a dark green, the lashes long and thick. She was a tall woman, close to six feet. Her shoulders were broad, her waist narrow. Her jeans fit like a glove, her denim shirt gaping slightly over full breasts. Dusty boots showed the wear of years.

She clumped into the room, the door swinging shut behind her. Approaching the bar, she leaned on it. “Barkeep, water on the rocks.”

“Yes, ma'am. Coming right up, little lady.”

Her eyes followed him as he filled the glass with ice and water. He set it in front of her with a flourish. She thanked him with a nod, paying him for the water. She pocketed the change without a sound.

“What brings you here, stranger?” The barkeep asked.

“I'm looking for a man,” she began.

A chuckle scurried around the room like rats.

“Got a whole room full, sweet cheeks,” the whistler said behind and to her left. “Take yer pick.”

She ignored him. Instead, she sipped her water, elbows on the bar, one foot on the stool next to her.

“A particular man,” she added quietly. “Maybe you know him. Taller than me, dark hair, blue eyes. His skin holds a pallor the sun won't brown....”

The men in the room exchanged a furtive look. None of them spoke. One of them got up, walking quickly and purposefully toward the door. A knife thumped into the wood next to his hand. The fellow froze, fingers half an inch from the quivering steel. The woman reached around him one hand held the door shut as she leaned on it, the other took the knife out. She examined the knife, green eyes following the line of the blade from hilt to tip.

The man smelled of fear and urine. A puddle formed at his feet. She scooted her boot away, spreading her legs. No one else moved.

“Want to tell me about your buddy?” She said, her voice husky and low. Any other time, he'd have found her irresistible. Now, he prayed she'd go away before she killed him.

“Not my buddy,” he whispered. “Just said if anyone ever come lookin' for him, I's to tell him.”

The knife blade hissed through the air, cutting the bandana around the man's neck. It fell to his feet and a thin line of blood trickled to the open collar of his shirt. The hunter squinted at his neck, full lips pouted, thinking.

“What bitcha?” She pointed to the half-healed scar.


“Pretty big snake,” she commented, twisting the blade before his eyes.

The light slithered up and down the blade making the man shiver.

“Some of them rattlers get to be ten feet or so.... One of 'em bit me t'other day.”

“Lucky you lived. That's right on the jugular.”

He swallowed, nodding rapidly. “Peers I'm immune.... To snake bite....”

“You're a lucky man. Come one, lucky man. Lemme buy you a drink.” She clapped an unyielding hand on his shoulder, leading him to the bar. “And you're gonna tell me where I can find your master, or I'm gonna cut your balls off and make 'em into a necklace with bailing wire.”

He gulped again, Adam's apple bobbing in his scrawny neck.

“Any of you other boys feel the burning need to leave,” she said to the room in general. “Think how nice your balls would look decorating my necklace. So, you boys itching for a smoke or heading to the privy, you recalculate and have a seat. I don't want trouble. Just need my man and I'll be gone.”

The men, who'd been thinking about leaving, didn't. Those working their way toward the exits, stopped.

“She can't take all of us at once,” the whistler said, standing. “Ain't nobody that fast.”

Six gun drawn, he stood with his legs wide apart, snarky grin on his face. The hunter eyed him, sizing him up. A smile crept slowly up her cheeks, her green eyes glittered.

“Anyone not wanting to die, lay low,” she said. “Anyone thinks they can take me, rock on.”

Shoving her informant to the floor, she shot the whistler in the forehead with her right hand. With her left, she winged another, the third caught it in the chest, knocking him through the front window. Number four rushed her from the left, roaring like a tornado. His brains splattered on the mirror over the bar.

Four pairs of hands flew into the air, weapons clattering to the floor. The hunter laid money on the bar, lifting her informant by his collar.

Old Time Religion ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 5

"This is Ms. Whitley. Her mother's a parishioner at St. Blase. I'm filling in for Father Charlie today." "Yeah, I h...