Author Talks with her Protagonist: Persistence & Humor

I’m having a hard time wrapping up my final edits on my horror novel, M.B. Finishing a book, I’m finding, is like letting go of a friend. Anne is the name of my protagonist and she’s modeled a bit after me (but not entirely). We’re both intelligent women, both love old houses and each of us have our quirks. And our stubbornness.

I’ve been visiting Anne at her house, dragging my feet around her hallways while she pecks away at her laptop busily. Anne works as a freelance programmer inbetween renovating her house in her semi-retirement. I tend to mope and throw myself across her couch, counters, floors and rugs. I hide behind her long curtains and look out onto her front yard and the tree I placed at the edge, just outside the front row of bushes. Anne ignores my antics politely and reminds me to wipe up my smudge marks I leave on her windows.

Anne’s blunt and direct, like me, but slightly more patient. One of our latest conversations went a bit like this…

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Poison Ivy & Procrastination: Writing Snares

There’s a saying in North America for poison ivy: “Leaves of three, leave it be.” Poison ivy, as the picture shows, has the infamous three leaves on a stem. Many people (but not everyone) are allergic to the oils the leaves produce. Unlucky wayfarers come across the ivy usually in forests, overlooked fence corners or in neglected flower beds.  Rub against the plant’s leaves and the oils will give you a rash, blisters and itchy skin.

Gardeners must cut the ivy carefully, bag it and throw it away. You never burn the ivy–the smoke carries the oils and if you breathe it in, a reaction can happen internally. Clothing and skin must be washed immediately. Then bring on the pink Calamine lotion and prepare for a couple of weeks of healing while dodging inquiring stares. Avoid questions of people asking why exactly you look like a pimply young piglet and smile at the ignorant treating you like a contagious leper.

Crack on.

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Book Update & Thoughts on Bugs Bunny

On this side of the screen, I received my manuscript for M.B. back from my editor. I’m going through it slowly, combing through the suggestions. I’m plastering over plot holes, sanding down sentences, squirting oil into squeaky words and listening to see when the engine hums. M.B. is a horror novel with a sprinkle of mystery. It’s partially a reflection on the world and how vulnerable people tend to be treated (not too great).  M.B. has lots of layers of meaning, some tucked behind dark places. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it.

I’m aiming for an early to mid Fall publication date. It will start as an ebook and then will become available in print later. More on M.B. to come as publication approaches. Continue reading “Book Update & Thoughts on Bugs Bunny”

Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part VI, Conclusion)

It was Dewday, the day before the bee’s extended hibernation. All the year’s filings were done, all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted with beetle ink. Susie’s staff and fellow bees were lining up with quilts and scarves, preparing to help warm the queen through the coming winter months. The grand harvest party was beginning and would end with hibernation. The hive was warm and glowing with hundreds of wax candles. The Bee’s Knees Dance would start later after the parade.

“Susie, aren’t you coming?” a fellow worker bee called out. Her name was Petunia. Petunia was only three weeks old and had a grin the size of a rose on her face.

“I need to finish my reports. You go on ahead,” Susie called from her typewriter, waving an antennae in greeting. “Have fun!”

Susie waited until the hive quieted, the workers all gone from their units. The band started down the hall and a pleasant buzzing began, punctuated with congratulatory speeches from their queen. It had been a good harvest.

Susie rested her head on her arms, waving her antennae in time to the music. She felt peace.

Continue reading “Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part VI, Conclusion)”

Me, The Hose Bin & Writing: The Battle Continues

I have a hose bin. It’s a quaint, pretty thing. It was a requested birthday gift, three years ago, something to help the Saint and I maintain our yard. Think of a beige plastic box with a feeder reel, a rod, a lid and a hand crank lever. You hook up the hose to the back, hook that up to your water spigot, and bam–you have a stored hose. Roll, unroll and off you go.

I used to think these watering hose bins were classy things. Instead of having hoses laying in driveways baking in the sun, or shaded underneath awnings like an idly waiting Boa Constrictor, hoses could be contained and camouflaged in garden beds. No more tripping, more more lugging, no more unsightliness. No longer do I entertain such foolish notions. This summer, as I stood shaded by my Japanese Elm tree, I went to war with the hose bin yet again. And I wondered exactly, just exactly, how many times a hose can get stuck and refuse to come out!

When the Saint came home from work, I merely pointed to the hose bin. By this time it was knocked over, dragged across the landscaping rocks and pinned between the front porch corner and an unlucky Holly bush. In my hands, I grasped about four feet of green rubber hose–a hard sought victory, a well earned prize.

My patience had disappeared.
Continue reading “Me, The Hose Bin & Writing: The Battle Continues”

Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part V)

Susie walked morosely behind the queen, expecting a lecture or two at any moment. Once in awhile, the queen would make an impatient noise and Susie would fly ahead to catch up. After awhile, Susie could no longer stand the silence.

“Are you going to tell me not to work too hard anymore?” Susie guessed, feeling thirsty. “That bees need to work together? That the life of the colony is worth more than the individual? Or that when life gives you lemons, make honey?”

“Heavens, child, what have you been reading? I hate those frou frou sayings,”  the Queen Bee declared, flicking her antennae disdainfully. “They’re anything but helpful. My grandmother had them embroidered on all her pillows. Made me sick. Come along now, you keep dragging behind. We’re nearly there.”

Continue reading “Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part V)”

Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part IV)

Luckily for Susie, honeybees have sturdy, waxy exoskeletons. The golf ball simply went “ping” against Susie’s forehead and bounced harmlessly away, rolling up to an unlucky ant hole. The ants spilled out of the hill, all chattering in a concerned rumble. They lined up and spelled out phrases like “Go away!” and “Scoot!” with organized fervor. Susie rubbed her forehead, feeling a slight pain but nothing serious. She rolled the white ball away from the ant village and continued home. Hopefully the golfer would find the ball later.

Susie continued her amble home, passing a Pollen Run (similar to the human Color Run), and became coated with a thin layer of yellow dust. After awhile, Susie flew up to her honeycomb window, buzzed in and collapsed next to her sleeping aphid.

“Oh, woe is me. I must have a disease unbeknownst to all bees,” Susie moaned, draping an antennae dramatically across her forehead. She sponged herself down with a clover and some dew. “To bee or not to bee, that is the question…”

Continue reading “Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part IV)”

Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part III)

Susie Bee sat in the doctor’s office, listening to the sounds of stapling papers, stamps and the general buzzing of office life. It was rhythmic and made her doze off once or twice.

“Ms. Suzanne Bee?”

“Here I buzz,” Susie spoke, setting down her Bee Happy magazine. She had been reading an especially silly article about the Queen redecorating her hive in the newest fashions.

“What seems to be the problem today, Suzanne?” the nurse asked after taking Susie’s vitals in the receiving room.

“I’m not sure. But my buzz is weak, the rhythm in my knees is kaput and my antennas drag behind me when I walk. I’m tired all the time, my appetite has plummeted. I feel sick. It’s hard to even fly.”

“Well, you don’t have a temperature and your blood pressure is fine,” the nurse announced, scratching some numbers onto a clipboard. “But let’s do some blood work  to be safe and I can send them over to the lab. It’ll rule out some things. The doctor will review and call you; he’s out today on vacation. In the meantime, here’s a sick note and orders to rest and stay hydrated. If anything changes, let me know. You may just need to rest, Suzanne.”

Susie grumbled to herself on the walk home, mumbling about nurses with their degrees and feeling invalidated by the quick visit. Surely, something was wrong with her to feel so tired. Why didn’t anyone believe she was sick?

“Fore!” a voice shouted in the distance.

Surely, there was a pill waiting for her somewhere. She just needed the right diagnosis. Yes, maybe she should see another nurse, or ask to talk to the doctor directly. Or should she wait until the lab results came back?

“I said FORE, you idiot. Watch out!”

“What?” Susie muttered, breaking from her thoughts. She squinted about in the bright sunshine. “Four of what?”

And that’s when it hit her. A bright white golf ball, sailed through the air and landed– directly on Susie’s forehead.

Continue reading “Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part III)”

Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part II)

Susie Bee lay in bed, tapping on her laptop. Susie was looking up articles on HoneyCombMD, fitting on self-diagnosis like new shoes, seeing how each fit and looked on her dainty legs.

“Maybe I have American Foolbroud bacteria,” she announced squarely, squinting at the screen. “No, that’s not it. How about Colony Collapse Disorder? That can’t be it either;  I’m just one bee, aren’t I? A bent stinger? No, it’s as straight as ever and I sharpened it only yesterday. Hmm…”

Susie hummed in thought, buzzing up and down in volume.  She heard a Messenger Bee tap on her door.

“Susie Bee. How DO you be?” a voice sung out merrily. “Heard you hummin’ all the way down the hall. Here’s your mail!”

Susie looked up as a stack of envelopes fluttered down from her mail slot. Her pet aphid scurried forth and brought the mail dutifully to Susie in bed.

“Honey bill…Nurse Bee Bill from the BuzzBub Hospital. Undertaker Bees are taking up another collection, I see…Oh, here’s my bill from the Cleaners…”

Susie’s head swarmed as she added up the figures quickly in her head, using her antennae to carry over the ones.

“Oh, Alfred,” Susie moaned to her pet aphid. “I’ll have to work double shifts all next month to pay these bills! How is this even possible? I just caught up on my finances and now this!”

The bee shut her laptop and sighed, sipping on some clover juice. She scratched Alfred under the chin, humming again.

“Maybe I need to buzz up the doctor after all,” Susie concluded after awhile. “My research is becoming a drone and I’m getting nowhere. Perhaps the doc can get the pep back into my step.”

Continue reading “Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part II)”

Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part I)

Susie Bee was a busy bee. Up and down the stairs in the honeycomb castle she flew, serving the queen’s whims and wishes. As Susie Bee was responsible and hardworking, she worked diligently, ensuring the day’s work was done before sundown.

One day, Susie called into work using her buzzline phone. She pulled out a thermometer from her medicine cabinet. She used her antennae to hold the thermometer to her mouth while dialing with her free hand.

“Hello, this is Susie. I work on the 10th floor in administration and paper filing. Yes, yes I am Harold’s boss. Yes, he is a dear bee… I’m calling in sick today, I’m afraid. I think I have a fever and my knees have lost their rhythm. Yes, I’ll be sure to call the doctor. Thank you.”

Susie collapsed on her honey filled pillow. The thermometer let out a buzz, letting her know it had a reading. She pulled it out, dangling it it front of her face.

“Normal. Now isn’t that the bee’s knees…”

Continue reading “Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part I)”