The One with the F#%@ing Mouse (Part 2)

When I left off, Orville the f#%@ing mouse decided it was a good idea to make a break for the upstairs instead of outside the night before Mom and Dad left for their cruise.

Mom and Dad had just gone to bed, and I was upstairs with Sampson and Grace when Grace suddenly zoomed over to the top of the stairs.

Grace: Orville? Buddy? I wanna hunt you!

Me: Gracie… what the f#%@ are you hunting?

Grace: Orville! Orville’s here, S.E.!

Me: F#%@.

Orville: F#%@!

While Orville scurried into and through the kitchen, I shooed Grace to her bed and convinced myself that Grace had been seeing things. Or was hunting a bug that she’d named Orville. The last thing I wanted to believe was that the damn mouse was upstairs.

Then about ten minutes later, Orville decided be stupid for the second time that night.

Orville: I gotta find a way out. Maybe if I sneak by that dog, then I’ll be able to get back downstairs and go out the way I came in. I gotta just make a run for it.

From the corner of my eye, I spotted a gray fuzz dart along the wall before disappearing behind the TV stand. I knew exactly who the furry little bastard was without even a good look. So I did exactly what any grown, badass woman would do: I called Dad’s cell phone and begged him to come upstairs and catch the mouse.

Orville took off underneath the loveseat and then the couch as soon as he saw Mom and Dad coming up the stairs. He managed to disappear for a few minutes before hiding beneath the corner of Sampson’s bed. I grabbed both dogs, and Dad cornered him. He tossed a towel over the gray fuzzball.

Orville: F#%@ing, f#%@!

Me: You got it!

Grace: Let him go! I wanna hunt Orville!

Sampson: Wh-huh? What’s agoing on?

Orville: Okay, hold yourself together. Wait for him to make a mistake. Then make a break for it.

And Dad did make a mistake. He scooped up the towel to get it underneath Orville, and the f#%@ing mouse bolted.

Orville: FREEDOM!!!

Grace: Run, Orville! Run!

Sampson: What’s agoing on?

Me: Annnd shiiiittttt.

I sent Grace after Orville before poking into every corner I could find with the flashlight beam. But no one could find him. There were just too many places for him to hide, whether behind a dresser or underneath a bed or crouched behind cardboard boxes.

That night, I slept on the living room couch because there was a very good chance Orville was in my bedroom. And there was no way in hell I was sleeping in the same room as him.

As for Orville, he was never seen again. I’ve persuaded myself that he escaped through an open door the next day. Maybe it was true. Maybe it wasn’t. Either way, it was the only way that I could go to sleep at night.

The One with the F#%@ing Mouse (Part 1)

I recently got home from Massachusetts after spending a month in my hometown. Since I was between jobs when my parents were going on a three-week cruise, I found myself house-sitting and dog-sitting. It’s nothing to complain about: spending a month writing and playing with dogs and hanging with friends.

There was just one hiccup. A f#%@ing mouse named Orville.

Let me backup a bit.

My parents’ house sits between suburbia and wooded wetlands, settled deep enough among trees that you can pretend to be off in the wilderness when the trees are full of leaves in summer. Privacy is great. But the wildlife that lives in the wetlands don’t think twice about encroaching into our space, though Sampson and Grace do a pretty good job of keeping them away.

Well, except for Orville. He arrived a couple days before I returned to Massachusetts.

Orville scurried into the garage for some mousey reason or another, probably following his nose to the crumbs of dog food. He met up with his buddy, Mercury, before descending the stairs to the first floor.

Mercury: Dude, there are f#%@ing dogs in here.

Orville: Shit, you’re right! Big ones.

Mercury: Hurry up and get the food.

Orville: Okay, I’m hurryin’.

Mercury: F#%@! Dog!

Grace: What’re youuu?

Grace happened to be downstairs at the time with Mom when she saw Mercury and Orville. Her muscles went all stiff in stillness yet flexed in a fluid motion when she moved. Her eyes sighted-in on Orville and Mercury with laser focus.

Mercury & Orville: F#%@!

Grace: I’m gonna hunt you.

At that point, Mom shouted for Dad, and he managed to toss a towel of Mercury and catch him. Mercury cursed the whole time as Dad carried him out to the backyard. Orville took the opportunity to bury himself into a shadowy corner, and there he stayed while Dad put out mouse traps.

Days went by. Dad checked the traps. Orville bypassed the tempting smell of bait in favor of the crumbs that collect in the corners of rugs no matter how many times they’re vacuumed.

Then the night before Mom and Dad had to be up and ready for their ride to the airport at 5 AM, Orville decided to make a break for it. But he didn’t do the logical thing, oh no. He didn’t run for the back door when Mom or Dad left it open for a few minutes. He ran the f#%@ upstairs.

To be continued…

Lizard in the Garden

I found this little guy in my garden yesterday morning. It took a little bit of research, but I believe he’s a Carolina anole. This kind of lizard is sometimes also referred to as the American Chameleon because they can change color from brown to green.

In other news, I’m back in North Carolina. I already miss Sampson and Grace, and I’m regularly talking myself out of heading to the shelter to adopt a senior dog. I’m also working on getting myself into a schedule of looking for a day job and writing, with an emphasis on the job search. Another thing that I need to fit into my schedule is joining a gym and working-out. I have a 5k in mind for this fall and wouldn’t mind fitting in another one later this summer.

The writing has been a little tough. I’m trying to get back into the groove that I found during the last half of my Massachusetts trip. I’ll make it happen, once I get back into a routine.

As I’m writing this, it’s about 10:30PM. So I should probably cut this off right here because I need to get back into going to be before midnight. Otherwise jumping back into a job with daytime work hours is going to be rough.

B.S. Horoscopes for May

I have so much fun reading horoscopes. I know that they’re B.S., but that doesn’t make them any less interesting. So in the spirit of that B.S. and a desire to read some pretty badass horoscopes, I decided to make up some of my own.

Let me know what you think of yours in the comments.

Aries: Avoid your reflection for the rest of the day, unless you want to witness its murder at the hands of a Yeti.

Taurus: You would’ve found the Graystone Treasure today while walking along the old railroad tracks if Old Bill hadn’t dug it up last week.

Gemini: Today is a good day to stay in bed until noon and then make a blanket fort with the guy secretly living in your attic.

Cancer: Keep your mouth shut today to avoid pissing off the demon next door, or tomorrow you’ll wake up in the middle of a haunted corn maze.

Leo: Try something new when you’re out and about today, like summoning an army of possessed sloths while at the Dollar Store.

Virgo: Today, you’ll accidentally foil your nemesis’s plan to ruin your weekend, so go ahead and make plans without fear of being sidetracked.

Leo: It’s all fun and games today until you realize that you’ve finally achieved your lifelong goal of world domination.

Scorpio: Wearing white with black polka dots today will make all that bird shit falling for the sky less noticeable when you get hit.

Capricorn: The ghost living in your bathroom swapped your shaving cream for whipped cream this morning, just FYI.

Aquarius: Today you will bathe in the tears of your enemies, and then go out for Starbucks.

Pisces: Invest in a good shovel while out shopping this morning because you’ll need it to bury a body tomorrow.

What I’ve Been Reading… April 2017

30753630Pet Semetary by Stephen King
~All of the kids in Ludlow, Maine know about the Pet Semetary behind Lou Creed’s house, and more than a few of the adults know the dangers that lurk beyond it.
It’s been a while since I read a Stephen King book, and I picked this one up at the airport in Charlotte. It gave me slow creepiness that I was craving, along with a terrifying, fantastic story.

7898018The Zombie Autopsies by Steven C. Schlozman, MD
~Dr. Stanley Blum volunteered to join the medical team that may be humanity’s last hope for a cure to the zombie epidemic.
I decided that in order to get into the head space to revise my zombie novella, I needed to read a zombie book. The Zombie Autopsies certainly got me into that mindset. It’s a scary, realistic medical-type journal of zombie research.

9253894Take the Monkeys and Run by Karen Cantwell
~Barbara Marr is just a typical suburban mom going through a separation with her husband when monkeys suddenly appear in the trees of her suburban Virginia home.
I didn’t know what to expect with a title like Take the Monkeys and Run. It turned out to be a fun, cozy mystery with a funny protagonist. The climax did run a bit long, but overall I enjoyed it.

31147672Brimstone by Cherie Priest
~Tomas Cordero dreams of fire after the Great War, and he unknowingly shares these dreams with Alice Dartle, a clairvoyant who believes she can help the shell-shocked veteran.
This is an art deco, historical fantasy that I wasn’t too sure about when I took it off the shelf at Barnes & Noble. But I’m glad that I did. Both Tomas and Alice were compelling characters, and their dueling points of view added a whole lot of tension.

Content for Now

Today has been a good day. I cuddled with a very patient German Shepherd and herded a (mostly) tolerant mutt into my lap for a few minutes. I ordered a couple of books (which will be waiting for me in NC) and finished Brimestone by Cherie Priest (which was different but good). I’ve even scheduled my regular Monday blog posts for most of May.

Notice that there hasn’t been any writing done today. Not yet, at least. I have three “active” projects that I’m working on. Notice that I said “active” because my zombie novella needs to be revised, but there isn’t enough space in my head for it on top of the other three. Especially since the muse has been waving new ideas around like sparklers for the past week. They’re pretty shiny compared to what I’m working on.

As for what I’m working on, today and for now, I have a choose-your-own-adventure interactive story set in a world of zombies, a thriller that was supposed to be a short story but decided it wanted to be a novel (damn it), and a paranormal romance novella featuring an invisible woman. See what I mean when about not having enough room in my head for everything?

So on that note, I’m going to sign off here, check on the dogs in the kennel, and then get to work.

Over & out.

Maple Seeds & Memories

Image result for maple seedI found a maple seed in the parking lot of my apartment complex. It’s an odd-looking seed, a green bulb that encases the seed itself and a paper-thin leaf protruding from one side. They come in pairs—attached at the bulb—when they grow on the tree and often when they fall on the ground. Spotting that little, green seed on the ground shook loose a memory that’d been sitting on my mental shelf for damn near fifteen years. The memory was of my mother’s father, in a Massachusetts town far away from where I am now.

My grandparents’ lawn was always green. The grass well-manicured by my grandfather, who split his retirement between watching his grandchildren and puttering about the yard. He’d even putter during family cookouts. Not so much to clean up the yard, but more to take care of little things here and there. To man the grill, to distribute the Hoodie ice creams after dinner, to take his turn watching the kids in the pool, to picking up the maple seeds he found dotting the backyard.

It sounds weird for my grandfather to have picked up the maple seeds. But he did it for his grandchildren. There was always a twinkle in his eyes when he’d walk over with the seeds in his hand. Some would be bright green, others a crispy brown.

Then he’d show us how to split the bulb around the seed in half before pinching the stiff halves on either side of our noses. The stickiness of the seed would keep them there for a few seconds if we stayed still. Less if we moved our heads. Grandpa would put one on his nose, too. That mischievous twinkle never leaving his eyes.

I’d all but forgotten the maple seeds. But the brain is a funny organ that can dig up old memories with the simplest of triggers.

I haven’t seen my grandfather in a few years. Now he lives in Florida with my grandmother. They moved there after leaving Massachusetts in a motor home and travelling the country. It was far away from family, but they decided that setting down roots near Disney World would give their children and grandchildren added incentive to visit.

The last time I visited my grandparents, Mom and I stayed with them while visiting Disney. Their house was different than the one in Massachusetts, though many of the same pictures hung on the walls. Grandpa was a bit different from those summer cookouts, too. Older, grayer. But his mischievous twinkle was still there. And I think if there’d been  maple seeds in the middle of Florida, I bet he would’ve convinced me to put one on my nose.

Three Things That’ll Make Me Put Down a Book (For Good)

I used to hate the idea of not finishing a book. HATED it. I’d slog through books that made me want to bang my head against the wall because I thought it was another notch on my bookshelf.

Now, I’m pretty discriminating in what I read. If I’m not enjoying a book, I’ll put it down. Simple as that.

But the writer in me has recently decided that it might be a good idea to figure out what it is about a book that makes me put it down. Then I’ll be able to use that knowledge towards my own stories. And hopefully prevent readers from putting my books down.

While there are a million reasons for me not to like a story, I found three consistent reasons for me to let a book gather dust on my bookshelf.


1.  It lacks tension
Tension makes the story go ’round and keeps me turning the page even though it’s well past my bedtime. Tension comes from the uncertainty of a character achieving their goal by the end of the story. When failure’s a very real option and the character has a stake in the story ending a certain way, it drives the reader and the story forward. Without it, the story falls flat.

2. There’re more info dumps than story lines
Sometimes it’s okay to tell readers snippets of the story rather than show them if showing will slow things down. But too much information–whether its background on a particular character or information on a historical event–can bog the story down. It can take the reader out of the story and even bore them.

3. It’s just not for me
One reader is inherently different from another. And while readers will enjoy a number of the same books (that’s how authors sell books to more than just their friends and family), they’re going to have differing opinions on books. Not every book is going to click with every reader. It’s normal. It’s okay.

The One with the Teleporting Mutt

“I can’t wait to live you you again, S.E.”

Why is that, Grace?

“Because you let me sleep on the couch. Dad doesn’t. He tells me NO whenever I try to jump on it.”

Mom and Dad did just put in a new window and windowsill, and you do always end up in the windowsill. Your nails are going to scratch it up, so I have to side with them.  

“Sorry I’m not tall like Sampson and can’t see out the window from the floor.”

At that point in the conversation, she took a quick look around the living room to make sure Dad was still downstairs. There was a smirk on her face when she turned back to me.

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The couch before Dad goes downstairs….

“Dad isn’t as smart as he thinks he his. Listen to this. He doesn’t trust me not to get on the couch when he goes downstairs-”

Rightly so.

“-so he puts the black gates in front of the couch. Well, remember how you taught me to get onto the couch by jumping over the side?”

Shit, seriously?

“I get off when I hear him coming up the stairs, and I’m back on my bed right away. But somehow he still knows that I was up there. Of course, I don’t admit it.”

He knows because you mess up the pillows and blanket on the couch.

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The couch when Dad comes back upstairs….

“That might be it. Maybe. But anyway, he hasn’t figured out how I do it. He thinks I’m jumping over the black gates–which I could totally do if I wanted to–and keeps piling stuff in front of them. Now I just have to make sure that Sampson doesn’t turn into a tattletale.”

Gracie, I don’t think Sam cares. 

“That’s true. He usually follows Dad downstairs anyway, even though he doesn’t get any attention. Who does that?”

Not everyone is an attention hound like you.

“Well they should be. Actually, no. I want all the attention for myself.”

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What I’ve Been Reading… March 2017

I’ve got so many eBooks on my Nook that I planned on ignoring my bookshelves for a month. And…. that didn’t happen. I think my Nook is probably dead by this point and in desperate need of a charge. That’s one thing that paperbacks have over their digital counterparts: I never have to wait for them to charge.

440316When the Smoke Cleared at Gettysburg by George Sheldon
~A look at the experience of civilians before, during, and after the battle at Gettysburg during the American Civil War.
Funny story: I bought a copy of this book in 2013 but it experienced the wrong end of a glass of water. Not only was this book informative about how Gettysburg residents experienced the battle, it told their stories in a way that wasn’t boring as can happen with history books.

11783484Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole
~Oscar Britton spends his days helping the U.S. Army bring in men and women who manifest magical powers, until he manifests prohibited powers himself.
I’ve been aware of Myke Cole thanks to Twitter for quite a while, but I was leery about his books because they came off as too high-fantasy for my tastes. I’m so glad that I picked it up, though. It had great tension and a beautifully conflicted main character.

30142139Nemesis by Brendan Reichs
~Every two years, a man in a black suit murders Min and Noah on their birthdays, but neither stays dead.
Conspiracy theories? People who don’t stay dead? Sign me up. I also loved how I couldn’t figure out what Project Nemesis was before the characters.

Soulless by Gail Carriger18295869
~Alexia Tarabotti lacks a soul, which tries her gravely but gives her an edge when sparring with vampires and werewolves.
My copy of Soulless is a paperback that’s 370 pages long, and I read it in a day. The humor lightens the story enough that it wasn’t a challenge to binge it. Plus there’s steampunk and a handsome werewolf, so that also helped.