What’s for Dinner? Bento Box.

Have you ever wished you could live someone else’s life for a while? It’s better in your head. Click the link for a sale on the Bento Box e-book!

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Original Bento Box – Flash Fiction!

Okay, fans, this was the piece that launched a novel. Almost none of this made it into the book, but that’s what inspiration does. It takes you where you don’t expect.

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The emergency induction port funneled strawberry ice cream shake into her mouth and chilled her tongue. It was too sweet. She longed for a Tequila Sunrise, but the body she wore had an abysmal fake id. Younger bodies were by far more flexible, which she preferred. Carnelia hated being treated like a child; it was the tradeoff she made.  To keep up appearances, she couldn’t turn down the generosity of the older woman with the voice that sounded like cigarettes and whisky. So, here she sat, infusing herself with sugar and waiting.

A trilling noise incited no interest. Everyone in the small diner had a cell phone. She slipped a peek at her locator tracker. The LT showed a red dot, slowly approaching a blue dot. A smile touched her lips as she clicked the LT shut. She did the math and estimated that he would arrive in six minutes.

She stuffed her hand into her purse. It brushed past sharp objects, dangerous items, ammunition, a lipstick, and finally the grip of her LazrGn™. It was sized perfectly for smaller hands and had the benefit of looking like a toy.

The door to the tiny diner swung in, setting a bell set above the door in motion. The tiny chimes drew people’s attention. The figure stepping through the door held it. He filled the door frame at seven foot two. His hair was shaved on the sides, and a noxious green Mohawk flared upwards. His heavy black coat swirled around his ankles. He held a bento box, and had a wonton halfway to his mouth when he barged through the door. He flashed a toothy grin to the horrified folk inside.

She pulled out her LazrGn™ and aimed it beneath the bar. She whispered in her throat mike. “Orochi confirmed.”

Orochi seemed to be enjoying the horrified looks on everyone’s face. He popped the wonton in his mouth and chewed thoughtfully, his gaze strolling over their mingled fear and growing concern.

“Got any soy sauce?” He asked the nearest waitress.

The older woman appeared unimpressed. “You get outta here, son. You got trouble in you and I don’t want it in here.”

“I just want some soy sauce. Is that really so much to ask?” He gave her a wounded look. Then he drew a BFG 300 from his side holster, concealed by the big leather coat. He aimed his gun at the ceiling and shot it, deafening the closest patrons and causing panic to erupt.

Carnelia dived under the table, taking cover behind a booth. She aimed, but a panicked civilian ran for the door and right in front of her path.  The civilian was rewarded with a BFG 300 clipping him in the temple. The civilian crumpled at Orochi’s boots.

The big gun went off again. “Shut up!” Orochi yelled.

At the sight of one of their number going down, the civilians had found cover. They huddled in small groups in the booths.

Carnelia had an idea. She slipped her gun into the waistband of her panties and hid the bulge as best she could under a hoodie. She grabbed her Hello Kitty backpack and peeked at Orochi over the booth top. Her blonde and pink hair stuck up like two antenna.

Orochi saw her and smiled. “What’s your name?”

“Carnelia.” She pushed herself up, leaned over the booth. “What’s yours?”

“Call me Orochi.” He looked down. “My bento box broke.”

Book Launch Express

I had my first book launch this past weekend. We were in a comic book shop that graciously ignored the fact that I had no pictures in my book and let me set up an event anyway. We had the back corner of the shop, which is how it should be – there was no cause to interrupt their flow in traffic. My business partner Allie was dressed to the nines. I felt a bit silly in my Avengers tee and denim capris, but hey. I know my audience. They go to con, they read comic books, and they wear shirts with pithy sayings. Either that, or colorful depictions of Deadpool draping himself over Skeletor. I was among my people, and I was comfy.

Which was important, because inside I was a mess. I hadn’t done any public speaking for years, and I was out of the habit. As people gathered in their seats, I kept having those undermining thoughts. Are these people really here to see me? To hear me read? From my book? Are they crazy?

I managed to push past the huge case of nerves. After launching into my chapter I remembered to take a few deep breaths. I’d practiced, so I didn’t stumble too often or too badly. My audience was there for me, really there, in a way I hadn’t experienced before. They were small business owners, artists, poets and musicians. People who knew how important supporting the arts is.

We handed out prizes, and that was fun. My son read the ticket stub numbers and did a great job.

There was a Q&A session that felt like it was scripted, it went so well. The interest in my work and Allie’s & my business was there, real and solid. We felt so proud and so humbled all at the same time, and everyone there was just great.

During Q&A, the original short story for Bento Box came up in conversation. I promised that I would post it on my blog for people to see. It will not be edited, because at this point the idea of editing anything to do with Bento is beyond comprehension. I wooed, I won, I’m done. So, keep in mind this was written 2 ½ years ago or so, and it was inspiration for Bento, not slavish devotion.

I’m going to post it on a separate post, possibly broken into 2 for size. I hope you enjoy it!

Are We There Yet?

I’m hot.

It’s 7 pm and it’s 87 degrees with not an air conditioner in sight. My kid is trying not to melt into the couch as he plays Pokémon to ignore the world around him. I know it’s too hot for him because he’s quiet.

It was a good weekend. It was my business partner (affectionately known as my “Book Wife”)’s birthday. While I was there, I had an exciting conversation with a friend I’ve recently connected with. He told me that after reading my book, he thinks he wants to write one. This is a little unexpected and a lot flattering. Especially since he’s the third person who has credited me as their inspiration to write a book.

I’m going to start putting warnings on my books. “Caution: May cause authorish urges.”

It’s awesome and inspiring and I am a little intimidated. I feel like the Queen of Spain commissioning some ships to find the New World. Of course, that bitch is responsible for some serious destruction of indigenous cultures, but that’s another blog post.

Following a dream is WAY harder than I thought it would be. I always thought that it took about an hour and a half to achieve a life’s dream. That’s what the movies have taught me, anyway. No matter how hard the struggle, no matter what bullets you have to dodge or Russians you have to defeat, you’ll win in an hour and a half. Two hours if you’re particularly epic.

I’ll tell you, it’s been years and I thought I’d be further than I am. But then the idea of having published two books when most people never publish one seems like a big deal. I’m out in a land of unfamiliar, and I don’t have a base normal to work from. My entire life is changing, and it’s so big and so fast sometimes and so slow and so tedious other times, I find myself constantly fighting for balance, which is pretty weird because anyone who knows me will assure you I’m neither patient, nor a creature of balance.

I’ve got two half stories going – a misnomer as one is a short story and one is a novel. The novel I know where I’m going, the short story not as much, so even though one is longer, one is harder to get into. Neither one are going as fast as I’m used to. I feel as though there is a time clock ticking in my head and judging me because I’m not hitting my word count.

I don’t know what else to do but write about it. Try to get the words OUT. Try to clear the decks for creativity to flow. It’s not writer’s block, it’s a blocked writer who wants nothing more to be at her desk churning word count.

Now you’ll have to excuse me, it’s time to put my son to bed.

Closer to the Finish Line

I finished my second book, or at least, mostly finished. It’s out getting dry cleaned and pressed; in other words, getting some line editing done, to make sure it’s grammatically correct and all the spelling errors are caught. You might think that these small functions could easily be done by the author, but allow me to assure you they aren’t. Even today I’m still getting feedback for The Corsican’s follies. I learned from my mistake. Self-editing is a necessity, but I’ll never publish without another pair of eyes again.

I’m experiencing a lot of peaks – excitement, terror, panic – and valleys, which are mostly the adrenaline crash and attempts at calming self-talk. A friend of mine mentioned to me during a conversation, saying that she figured since I was a published author that this would be old hat. I reminded her that I’ve only ever done this once before. One does not simply walk into Mordor; and one does not simply write a book.

I’m terrified. I feel like so much is riding on this book. It’s hard to feel like your entire career hangs on a book, but when you only finish one once every two and a half years or so, it’s important that your book is well received. There are so many books in this world, and I’m adding to the pile. I put my heart into this story, which is exciting and weird and awkward and fun. I am putting myself out there to be read, and judged, but this is what I want to do. This has been my dream since forever. I love to hear what people think of my story, I love knowing that I’ve entertained someone. My favorite is to make people laugh, or to surprise them.

I’m still figuring things out. There are signposts on my particular career path, but it has taken me years to make sense of them. I’m really happy with the book that I’ve made. I just hope that it makes everyone who reads it happy too.

Work Redefined

Being recently unemployed, I was faced with a quandary. Do I find a job, or do I go back to school?

Getting a job in my town has always been a struggle. Nineteen years ago it was a struggle, well before the dips and dives in the economy. School was an attractive alternative to fighting over scraps. I went to the WorkMore office, a non-profit resource for the unemployed.  Lovely people work there and they try to help.

I went to a class on how to keep unemployment benefits and go to school. I felt that my situation wouldn’t qualify but it was worth me spending an hour to find out. The class left me feeling as though I was correct about my supposition, but then the teacher told me he’d make me an appointment with a woman who was a writer and “knew more about these things.” A slender hope, but when you’re in the water, you don’t judge the rope you’re thrown.

The woman, who I’ll call Maggie, was a short, feminine powerhouse of personality. She was stone confident in herself, and seemed pleasant enough.

Maggie listened to my plans, to become an author and to become an editor, and she promptly discarded them. “You’d have to move. Are you sure you don’t want to become a nurse?”

I was staggered. Why would I want to become a nurse? I mean, it is a growth industry, but it’s never been my calling. Maggie threw my calling to the ground and stomped on it.

I didn’t argue with her. I was there on the hope that I could get some help from the state about my unemployed status. I’m getting handouts until I can find a job, after all. Why would my feelings about my job matter?  I just nodded and contributed a little to the conversation, waiting out the storm.

In years past I would have wilted under her onslaught. I would have talked to her about nursing, even though my heart wouldn’t have been in it. I would have capitulated, just to get into school, just to do something to change my life.

But I realized.. I’m already changing my life. I already have a job. It doesn’t work like we consider jobs to work – it’s not 9-5, and it’s not paying me. Yet. But I’m putting the work in. I work far more hours than a simple 9-5 job. I am always considering, tweaking, reading, researching, and agonizing over what to do next. I take time out for my family after work and school, but as soon as my son goes to bed I’m back at work again. I’ve never worked this hard in my life.

And I love it. It doesn’t feel like work, not the way I always understood work to feel. I get to make decisions for myself; I don’t have to check in with a supervisor. I don’t get assigned tasks, I go and find out what to do next. I don’t have upper management frowning at me because I have an idea; I just implement it.

The hard part is making money. A lot of people are better writers than me, better known, with backers and recognition and years of experience. But they all started somewhere.

I may not be famous yet, but I do have faith that I can tell a good story. I have learned a lot about writing books in the past six years. Knowing what I know now, I wish I could have done things differently, but I wouldn’t want to change a thing. I’ve learned so much and I’ve grown so much as a writer. Now more than anything, I want to get my book out there so I can start on the next one, and just keep doing what I love.

And if I have to take a job to support my writing habit… to me, it just means not giving up, no matter what.

Milestones

After publishing my first book, I looked back and realized how much work went into it. Writing a novel is a long journey. What I didn’t realize is that to get from rough draft to finished work isn’t one leap, but a series of many steps.

For my second book, my husband suggested that I use milestones as a way to break up the long stretches.  Breaking a book down into its parts gives a much better scope of the deed. I didn’t agree with him immediately, but after finding a free project management software, I soon realized how much more I accomplished than I realized.

First, there’s pre-writing. Which is when a writer starts cooking up an idea for a book. Even pantsers (those who fly by the seat of their pants, rather than plot things out on paper) will start developing thoughts about their work before they put pen to paper. Next, there’s a rough draft, which is where the major story is fleshed out. Then, there’s editing the rough draft, which is a different depth of attention than what will be called for in later drafts. There can be an unlimited amount of drafts but generally around three to five is standard for practiced writers.

Let us not forget the humble chapter, which has become my default milestone. Finishing a chapter is generally only finishing a sliver of a novel, but there are definitive earmarks and a sense of completion when a chapter is done, which makes it a great place to checkbox.

I just finished the third draft of Bento Box. It has undergone major adaptations from the rough draft, including professional developmental editing. It’s now ready for a copy editor and then into formatting for sale.

I’m really excited. It’s been two and a half years in the making. I would work a full day at my job, come home, and work a few hours a night on my novel. It’s my best story yet, something that was fun even from the little short story I noodled up one day.

I think it’s safe to say that by June, Bento Box will be available!