#WriterinMotion Week 4-CP Round 2 and Final Thoughts

September 1, 2020 - Leave a Response

Better late than never, we’re reaching the end of the #WriterinMotion blog experiment this weekend. These final weeks was devoted to editing our short stories from our second round of CPs (or editors) and posted our final drafts to the blog and forum. This past week, I had wonderful feedback from my two friends and CPs, @Dani_Is_Frank and @HM_Braverman, on how to make my short story stronger and tighter for a future scene in my domestic suspense novel later this fall.

This time around, they agreed on the same things and had questions about clarity to tighten it up. One of them had given me her edited version as I’ve incorporated new tidbits and information to flesh it out a bit more (even revealing my FMC’s real name too). My word count did go down to 250 words from my previous edited draft I’ve posted here.

Here’s the final version of Burn Baby Burn:

Madelyn Osgood struck a match to start an inferno. She jutted her chin and sneered. Adrenalin coursed through her veins as blood rushed in her ears as she lifted the metal garbage can’s lid. “What a lovely way to burn a disguise.”
She dropped the match inside and shoved the lid on tight, then she walked quickly down the alley. Three, two, one; she waited for the explosion which would set the alley ablaze. Instead, the lid popped open with a small unsatisfying bang, and the garbage can fell to the ground, causing the flames to spread in a serpentine fashion along the ground. She must not have added enough nitrates to the latest mixture. She made note in her phone when a hot gust knocked her back and her ears rung from the boom. It needed more oxygen.
She surveyed the fiery street, clapped her hands, and ran back to Stefan’s old Ford pick-up. She couldn’t help doing a slow drive-by one more time as she headed out of town. The flames shot across the side of one of the buildings, straining to lick the sky, like they had when she was little. The police couldn’t prove she or Stephan were at fault, so they had no choice but to rule it as arson. This fire was no accident. They didn’t call her “Mad Maddie” for nothing.
In her brother’s borrowed pick-up, Madelyn drove to Dunstable’s outskirts and headed the mountain toward the brown concrete house hidden away at the top. She let the truck idle while she removed the dead brush she used to conceal the driveway. Her low-beam headlights illuminated the secret entrance . A lone silvery half-moon glowed on the autumn foliage decorating the green field. The house looked uninhabited and lonely, left to decay under predatory weeds. She preferred it that way, nature’s brutal persistence reminded her of herself; no matter how long it took, she would have revenge against those who trespassed against her. Her last attempt to murder Devon Harper – the current alias of her former best friend, Cassandra Stratton – had missed. But no matter, Devon would pay for both stealing her spot in the international harpist competition and sending her brother to prison.
She parked the truck by the front door and entered the small building stockpiled with bombs, explosives, and dynamite. She checked through the window to make sure nobody had seen her. She clenched her jaw and ground her teeth as she spat at her name that echoed in the air. “Damn you!”
Her guerrilla walkie-talkie squawked. She pressed the send button. “I’m here.”
“Did you deliver the messages?” Stefan asked through a staticky reception.
“Yes..”
She’d wanted to do something more than deliver the black rose bouquet. Next time she would tuck a shard inside the dark-blue petals. That’s why she lit the fire across town. She needed that rush. But Stefan didn’t need to know that. And anyway, the police wouldn’t tie the fire and the bouquet together.
“Perfect. How about the spotlight?”
“It missed her by a few inches. She was definitely rattled.”
“Good. The tormented fun had begun” He laughed. “Did anyone see you?”
“Not a chance. I disappeared right after the final act and was long gone when it ended.”
“Wonderful! Just warm her up for me.” He paused. “I’ll be there soon…”
Was Stefan planning to escape from prison? She opened her mouth and clamped it shut, her eyes narrowed at Devon’s photo she’d taken during surveillance. She’d been smart to keep her face off the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s website and program.
“When?”
“You’ll see. What name is she going by now?”
“Devon Harper.” She grabbed a lighter and flicked it, watching the orange-yellow flames dance and flicker.
“Where is she living?”
“I haven’t had a chance to follow her yet. She’s gotten smarter.” Her eyes brightened as she set the flame under the photograph, watching it be devoured by the fire. No matter how often Devon moved, or changed names and her looks, they had ways to find her, year after year,to do it via illegal channels.
“Keep me posted. I’ll be in touch.”
“Will do.” She pocketed her walkie-talkie and shut it off. Like a wildfire, the tiny sparking embers shot through the dark house, emitting a bright glow from fireflies communicating at night. The photograph turned into an ashen pile on the floor. “Burn baby burn.” She blew out the flame.

As for final thoughts, it was fun writing from a villain’s POV during this past month for WIM. It doesn’t hurt to have more than one beta or CP to give you feedback on your short story or novel chapter or even a poem or nonfiction article. Betas/CPs are always worth more in gold when you can’t afford to hire an editor. So go out and find your people online and in real life to make your work polished and shine. To everyone who participated this year, and to those who run it, a special shout-out goes to you all who’ve made WIM better than ever this year. Until then, WIM might be back this fall or next year See you then. And I’ll be back to hopefully regularly updating my blog later his fall.

#Writerinmotion Week-CP Edits Round 1

August 21, 2020 - Leave a Response

For this week in the blog journey, it focused on getting feedback from your CPs and beta for any writing project you have and want to share. The rule of thumb is to find at least two to bounce ideas off with. You can find betas/CPS for various places online like #CPMatch or even from a pitch contest, on Facebook or Twitter. You can go find a local writing group and meet new friends there too. When you receive feedback from your betas/CPs, let it sit for a day or two before you dive right in. If they say the same thing, then you know you have a problem to fix or tweak. If it differs, it’s up to you if it resonates with you.

For example, when I received my feedback from my two new friends and CPs, @RJ_PerryAuthor and @HLWaltonAuthor, they both agreed on two small nits and enjoy Burn Baby Burn. RJ wanted me to move a graph up, add more why Maddie hated Devon and the relationship to her brother Stefan. Since my word count was in pretty good range, I’ve thought about it and added 50 words to my piece to flesh it out a bit at 950 words. (Thanks RJ and Helen for the wonderful feedback.) I’ve also a bit more emotional depth to it as well. This stand-alone scene would be perfect and fleshed out more for chapter 5 in Fatal Harmony next month.

With further ado, here’s my newly revised version. Next week, it goes to @HMBraverman and @Dani-Is-Frank, my two new friends I’ve met last year, as my 2nd round CPs. Enjoy!

Burn Baby Burn

Madelyn Osgood struck a match to start an inferno. She jutted her chin and sneered. Power coursed through her veins as blood rushed in her ears. She lifted the lid and stood in a wide stance to contain the burning blaze in the metal garbage can. “What a lovely way to burn.” Like the crackling sounds from a fireworks display, these firecrackers didn’t go boom.

Three, two, one. She walked away from the dead-end alley, waiting for it to erupt with an explosion. Seconds later, the lid popped open. The garbage can fell to the ground, causing the blaze to spread in a serpentine-like fashion. She surveyed the fiery street and clapped her hands as she disappeared from sight.

She loved playing with the flames and watching items burn. As a little girl, it had always fascinated her ever since she lost her parents in a house fire. Besides herself, her older brother Stefan remained unscathed. Rumors circulated she was a “trouble child” and caused her family home to go up in flames. No one proved it was her, Stefan, or both. Years ago, they closed the case, stating it was nothing but an arson. They both looked after each other ever since that fateful night and lived on their own as rebellious teenagers.
Every time she lit a candle, she widened her eyes and rubbed her hands together. She experimented with different accelerants and played with it to suit her means.

In Stefan’s dark green Ford 4×4 pick-up she borrowed, she drove to Dunstable’s outskirts and headed toward the brown concrete cement house on the green field. No one knew about the secret driveway that led to a concealed entrance as she climbed to the mountain top. It looked uninhabited, decrepit, isolated from others, and lonely like an outsider. Those same words described her the best too. Time to exact her vengeful plans on Devon Harper. She couldn’t stand Devon Harper, her former childhood best friend, and bitter rival in the international harp competitions. She hated her with a burning passion ever since she sent her brother to prison and stolen her coveted spot while she handled the handiwork for him. Alone.

She parked the truck by the front door. She balled her fists and stomped on the stone path. “I’ve missed the mark.”e. Inside the desolate hut, she planned and schemed behind closed doors. She stockpiled bombs, explosives, and dynamite with plenty of TNT to destroy a home, a building, or a car on impact. They didn’t call her “Mad Maddie” for nothing.
Madelyn slammed the door. She walked to the window and glanced at the trees, the puffy clouds, the birds flying above 500 feet from the earth. Far way from civilization, she preferred this private hideaway where no one should find her here.

Her cell rang right on cue. She answered after the second ring. “I’m here.”“Did you deliver the message?”Stefan asked.
“I did. Just as you wanted me to.” She wanted to do something more than delivering that threatening black rose bouquet after stripping the thorns. Like tucking a shard inside the dark-blue petals and sandwich it between the prickly stems. Save it for next time. A wicked grin formed across her face, her fists clenched, when she raised them to the sky. She couldn’t wait to take that bitch down and set her on fire. She had it coming to her. Big-time!“Perfect. Did you get her on stage?”
Madelyn growled and muttered. “No. The black spotlight missed her by a few inches to the far stage left.” She should’ve studied the orchestral layout more and with a better close up. She worked hard to angle it before she let it fall upon her. A warning.
“No worries. We’re just warming up and getting started.” He laughed out loud. “Did anyone see you?”
Lucky for her, she blended in with the crowd when no one be the wiser. “Not a chance. I disappeared right after the final act and was long gone when it ended.”
“Wonderful! For now, you’ll start with the lighter stuff as I’ll pick up from there with the heavy work.” He paused for affect. “I’ll be coming out of hiding and be there soon…”
She opened her mouth and clamped it shut, her eyes narrowed at the Devon Harper’s colored photo. The recent one she taken by herself, since there wasn’t a recent photo in the program, or on the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s website. She’d gotten it from the security camera’s footage and printed two still copies. Was Stefan planning to escape from prison? “When?”
“You’ll see. What name is she going by now?”
“Devon Harper.” No matter how often she moved, changed names, and her looks, they had ways to find her, year after year. Forget hiring their crooked PI—they opted to do it their way via illegal channels. She grabbed a lighter and flicked it twice with the fork, watching the orange-yellow flames dance and grow higher from the sparkwheel.
“Interesting name. Where is she living now?”
Her eyes brightened as she set the flame under the photograph, waiting for it to catch fire and burn. She spat at it when it spread straight down the middle in one line. “No idea. But I’ll follow her for you…”
“Keep me posted. I’ll be in touch.”
“Will do.” She closed her cell and pocketed it. Like a wildfire, the tiny sparking embers shot through the dark house, emitting a bright glow from fireflies communicating at night. The photograph turned black and fell into an ashen pile with soot on the floor. “Burn baby burn.” She blew out the flame.

#WriterinMotion Week 2-Self=Edited Drafts

August 14, 2020 - Leave a Response

Last week the prompt was revealed and the original drafts were released to the #WIM forum and to the Twitter feed for blogs. This week’s focus was on self-editing your own work before you send it to betas/CPs and later to professional editors if you wish to have it looked over.

Last year, my first original draft took me a week to cull since it was a little over 1K. This time around, I’ve dwindled my draft from 1K to 902 words. No over-writing and minimal descriptions were key for this central scene that might be Fatal Harmony’s chapter 5 later this month. I’ve mainly pruned some filter/passive words and tightened sentences to make the pacing faster and tenser without giving anything away. I still wanted to show how demented and crazy Maddie was as a pyromaniac and an arsonist too. It was fun to write from a villain’s POV for a change.

Enjoy this self-edited version. Next week, it’s off to my two newest friends and CPs– @RJPerryWriter and @HLWaltonAuthors–for their feedback on the first CP round.

Burn Baby Burn

Madelyn Osgood struck a match to start an inferno. She jutted her chin and smirked. Power coursed through her veins. She lifted the lid and stood in a wide stance to contain the burning blaze in the metal garbage can. “What a lovely way to burn.” Like the crackling sounds from a fireworks display, these firecrackers didn’t go boom.
Three, two, one. She walked away from the dead alley, waiting for it to erupt with an explosion. Seconds later, the lid popped open. The garbage can fell to the ground, causing the blaze to spread in a serpentine-like fashion. She surveyed the fiery street and clapped her hands as she disappeared from sight.
She loved playing with the flames and watching items burn. As a little girl, it had always fascinated her ever since she lost her parents in a house fire. Besides herself, her older brother Stefan remained unscathed. Rumors circulated she was a “trouble child” and caused her family home to go up in flames. No one proved it was her, Stefan, or both. Years ago, they closed the case, stating it was nothing but an accidental arson.
Every time she lit a candle, she widened her eyes and grinned. She experimented with different accelerants and played with it to suit her means. In Stefan’s dark green Ford 4×4 pick-up she borrowed, she drove to Dunstable’s outskirts and headed toward the brown concrete cement house on the green field. No one knew about the secret driveway that led to a concealed entrance as she climbed to the mountain top. It looked inhabited, decrepit, isolated from others, and lonely like an outsider. Those same words described her the best too. Time to exact her vengeful plans. She parked the truck by the front door.
She balled her fists, flared her nostrils, and stomped on the stone path. “I’ve missed the mark.” She couldn’t stand Devon Harper. She hated her with a burning passion. Ever since she sent her brother to prison, she handled the handiwork for him. Alone. Inside the desolate hut, she planned and schemed behind closed doors. She stockpiled bombs, explosives, and dynamite with plenty of TNT to destroy a home, a building, or a car on impact. They didn’t call her “Mad Maddie” for nothing.
Madelyn slammed the door. She walked to the window and glanced at the trees, the puffy clouds, the birds flying above 500 feet from the earth. Far way from civilization, she preferred this private hideaway where no one should find her here.
Her cell rang right on cue. She answered after the second ring. “I’m here.”
“Did you deliver the message?” Stefan asked.
“I did. Just as you wanted me to.” She wanted to do something more than delivering that threatening black rose bouquet after stripping the thorns. Like tucking a shard inside the dark-blue petals and sandwich it between the prickly stems. Save it for next time. A wicked grin formed across her face, her fists clenched, when she raised them to the sky. She couldn’t wait to take that bitch down and set her on fire. She had it coming to her. Big-time!
“Perfect. Did you get her on stage?”
Madelyn growled and muttered. “No. The black spotlight missed her by a few inches to the far stage left.” She should’ve studied the orchestral layout more and with a better close up. She worked hard to angle it before she let it fall upon her. A warning.
“No worries. We’re just warming up and getting started.” He laughed out loud. “Did anyone see you?”
Lucky for her, she blended in with the crowd when no one be the wiser. “Not a chance. I disappeared right after the final act and was long gone when it ended.”
“Wonderful! For now, you’ll start with the lighter stuff as I’ll pick up from there with the heavy work.” He paused for affect. “I’ll be coming out of hiding and be there soon…”
She opened her mouth and clamped it shut, her eyes narrowed at the Devon Harper’s colored photo. The recent one she taken by herself, since there wasn’t a recent photo in the program, or on the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s website. She’d gotten it from the security camera’s footage and printed two still copies. Was Stefan planning to escape from prison? “When?”
“You’ll see. What name is she going by now?”
“Devon Harper.” No matter how often she moved, changed names, and her looks, they had ways to find her, year after year. Forget hiring their crooked PI—they opted to do it their way via illegal channels. She grabbed a lighter and flicked it twice with the fork, watching the orange-yellow flames dance and grow higher from the sparkwheel.
“Interesting name. Where is she living now?”
Her eyes brightened as she set the flame under the photograph, waiting for it to catch fire and burn. She spat at it when it spread straight down the middle in one line. “No idea. But I’ll follow her for you…”
“Keep me posted. I’ll be in touch.”
“Will do.” She closed her cell and pocketed it. Like a wildfire, the tiny sparking embers shot through the dark house, emitting a bright glow from fireflies communicating at night. The photograph turned black and dropped into an ashen pile with soot on the floor. “Burn baby burn.” She blew out the flame.

Writerinmotion 2020: Week 1

August 5, 2020 - Leave a Response

#Writerinmotion is back for the third round! And it’s better and bigger than ever. For those who are new to #Writerinmotion (WIM), here’s an overview. It started a year ago when KJ Harrowick and Jeni Chapelle created this group experiment right after #Revpit for the first round. It started out small when I’ve met my group of best writerly friends who are the best as we always support each other. Shoutout goes to all of my #WIM friends! Then it returned last fall for round two with a bigger group. And yet again, I’ve made new friends from that expanded group as well. (Both of my short stories will be used as future scenes for my ms, Throw Down the Gauntlet, my heist-centric romantic thriller trilogy idea. When I wrote it, it was the opposite—a thriller with romantic elements. So I’m now doing a major overhaul to make it better and finish it by mid to late fall.) This five-week short story journey is for everyone who wants to be inspired by a photo prompt and write a short story from draft to final copy. What’s new this year? Editor spots goes to 24 lucky writers who are from marginalized groups in the final round. And we’ve gotten more participants this year than ever.

(Disclaimer: Like last year, I’ve seen people misuse the hashtag in the feed for anything that’s not related to the WIM experiment on Twitter. Please don’t use it if it’s for self-publishing or anything else! That’s not what it’s used for.)

{To all of my regular followers, I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything new since February this year. Besides writing, editing, light querying, revising, I’ve been busy. But I hope to post new updates next month.}

Here’s this year’s photo prompt:

Photo by Rahul Pandit on Unsplash

My thoughts for this prompt is that it’s a perfect place to hide someone or to hide certain things. Since I’ve started writing a new WIP earlier than Nano, my music-themed dark domestic suspense ms, Fatal Harmony, this will be used for a future scene, possibly chapter 5. Isolation, seclusion, revenge, and did I mention, fire!

Here’s my drafted original short story, tentatively titled, Burn Baby Burn.

Madelyn Osgood stroked a match from the matchbox and ignited a fire inside a metal garbage can. She jutted out her chin and smirked. Power coursed through her veins and shot through her blood. She lifted the lid to contain the burning blaze inside the barrel. “What a lovely way to burn.” In a wide stance, the crackling sounds reminded her of firecrackers displayed at night without the booms and the colorful fireworks. She counted to three, walked away from the dead alley, and waited for it to erupt with an explosion. When the coast was clear, the lid popped open and fell to the ground. The garbage can fell to the ground, causing the blaze to spread in a serpentine-like fashion. She surveyed the fiery street and clapped her hands as she sprinted down a block to disappear from sight.
She loved playing with fire and watching things burn all around her. As a little girl, it had always fascinated her ever since she lost her parents in a house fire. Besides herself, her older brother Stefan remained unscathed. Rumors circulated she was a “trouble child” and caused her family home to go up in flames. No one proved it was her, Stefan, both of them. Years ago, they closed the case, stating it was nothing but an accidental arson.
Every time she lit a candle, she widened her eyes and displayed a wicked grin. She experimented with different types of accelerants and played with it to suit her means. In Stefan’s dark green Ford 4×4 pick-up she borrowed, she drove to the outskirts of Dunstable and headed toward the brown concrete cement house on the green grassy field. No one knew about the secret driveway that led to a concealed entrance as she climbed up the mountain to the top. It looked inhabited, decrepit, isolated from others, and lonely like an outsider. That’s exactly how she’d felt among other things. Time to exact her plans of revenge. She flared her nostrils and shook her hands as she parked the truck by the front door.
She balled her fists and stomped her feet on the stone path. “I’ve missed the mark.” She couldn’t stand Devon Harper. She hated her with a burning passion. Ever since she sent her brother to prison, she had to do the handiwork for him. Alone. Inside the desolate hut, this was where she did her planning and scheming. She kept a stockpile of bombs, explosives, and dynamite with plenty of TNT to destroy a home, a building, or a car on impact. They didn’t call her “Mad Maddie” for nothing.
Madelyn shut the door behind her. She walked to the window and glanced at the trees, the puffy clouds, the birds flying above 500 feet from the ground. She preferred this private hideaway to be far away from civilization. No one could ever find her here.
Her cell rang right on cue. She answered after the second ring. “I’m here, Stefan.”
“Did you deliver the message?” he asked.
“I did. Just as you wanted me to.” She wanted to do something more than that threatening black rode bouquet after than dethorning the flower. She would’ve preferred a shard tucked inside the dark-blue petals and sandwiched between the prickly stems. Maybe she would save it for next time. A wicked grin formed across her face, her fists clenched and balled when she raised them to the sky. She couldn’t wait to take that bitch down and set her on flames. She had it coming to her. Big-time!
“Perfect. Did you get her on stage?
Madelyn growled and muttered under her breath. “No. The black spotlight missed her by a few inches to the far stage right.” She should’ve studied the orchestral layout more and with a better close up. She worked so hard to get the right angle to let it fall upon her. She considered it a warning shot.
“No worries. We’re just warming up and getting started.” He laughed out loud. “Did anyone see you?”
Lucky for her, she blended it with the crowd when no one would be known the wiser. “Not a chance. I disappeared right after the final act and was long gone when it ended.”
“Wonderful! For now, you’ll start with the lighter stuff as I’ll pick up from there with the heavy work.” He paused for affect. “I’ll be coming out of hiding and be there soon…”
She opened her mouth and clamped it shut, her eyes narrowed at the colored photo of Devon Harper. The recent one she taken by herself, since there wasn’t a recent photo of her in the program or the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s website. She’d gotten it fro the security camera’s footage and printed out two still copies. Was Stefan planning to escape from prison for a crime he didn’t commit? “When?”
“You’ll see. What name is she going by now?”
“Devon Harper.” No matter how often she moved, changed names and her looks, they had ways to find her, year after year. Forget hiring their own crooked PI—they preferred to do it their way via illegal channels. She grabbed a lighter and flicked it a few times with the fork, watching the orange-yellow flame dance and grow higher from the sparkwheel.
“Interesting name. Where is she living now?”
Her eyes brightened as she placed the flame under the photo, waiting for it to catch fire and start a fiery burn. She spat at it when it started to spread straight down the middle in one line. “No idea. But I’ll follow her for you…”
“Keep me posted. I’ll be in touch.”
“Will do.” She closed her cell and pocketed it. Like a wildfire, the tiny sparking embers shot through the dark house, emitting a bright glow from fireflies communicating at night. Then the photograph burned black and turned into a pile of ash and soot on the floor. “Burn baby burn.” She blew out the flame.

Shelving Venom

February 29, 2020 - Leave a Response

I know I haven’t posted any new updates on my blog last year, except for the #AMM Mentee Hopeful Blog earlier this month. I wished I could share happy news to share like I landed an agent with an offer. Sadly, it didn’t happen. And yesterday afternoon, I’ve shelved Venom, my first heart baby, my eco-thriller I wrote, after 9.5 years of querying (and requerying.) I also retired it from entering pitch contests after 5.5 years ago. So this blog post is all about Venom and the history behind it in this decade-long journey before I put it to rest this weekend.

The idea of Venom had came to me in 2010 when I read an article in Writer’s Digest Magazine that eco-thrillers were making a comeback trend. Though this was my second novel I wrote for Nano, it was my first I wrote for Julno (aka Summer Camp Nano, when I didn’t know it was called at the time.) I’ve dreamt the concept that summer about Kylie Marx, who’s a herpetologist in Florida, and faces her own fears of snakes from a near-fatal snakebite 12 years ago. It was also inspired by Dr. Donald Schulze from Animal Planet’s short-lived series, Wild Recon, and the medical breakthrough on making artificial anti-venom in the UK a decade ago. The character of Dr. Aidan Rice was inspired by the late Steve Irwin, only as a snake charmer.

My late mother was the first person to read and critique Venom in its early stages with her most valuable feedback. And when she died, I’ve met and friend my consent beta on Facebook, Sandy Shocklee, who took over for her and supported me and Venom up until this point. I’’m so glad I’ve met her. I also shared it with my local critique group a couple of years ago, and then with my online critique list two years ago. And I’m also grateful for my friend and second beta, Kat Turner, who also loved and read Venom last year, who gave me feedback to tweak it. I’ve also had three close Facebook friends two years ago help me refine the first pages. I’ve refined it and edited it numerous times—the last time two years ago even by adding emotional depth.

And almost a year when I first wrote it and edited it, I’ve sent out my first queries in August 2011 via email and yes snail mail back in the day. And yes I received my first early full back then from Agent A as I’ll call her. In spite of a lot of hiccups between my heart surgery and my mother’s sickness and later health, she patiently waited for me and understood how life can get in the way. Later on, she passed. I’ve been querying agents on and off for numerous years since then. I even ventured to Canadian and UK agents for the past few years. I’ve gotten a couple of partials and fulls and even one R&R too. I came so close on landing an agent numerous times, even via #MSWL which had fallen short last year. I’ve also tried small pubs and had no luck to no avail either. If you want to know how many rejections I’ve gotten, I’ve lost count in 2013. Let’s say it’s over 1000+ and call it even.

As for contests, my beta Sandy encouraged me to try pitch contests like #pit2pub on Twitter and Pitch Wars six years ago. I did receive one full request for my first year I’ve entered Pitch Wars, but wasn’t picked to go to the mentee round. The only feedback I got was to polish my ms and my query from this mentor. And the second year I did Pitch Wars with a revised Venom, I got no requests. It did land some request via #pitmad and the now defunct #adpit. I did receive one small pub request via Savvy Authors two years ago, but I never heard back from that editor after numerous nudges to her before I closed her out. I’ve tried Revpit last year with Venom and got zip.

My first time I pitched it to a conference was from Muse Online Writers Conference also in 2010. I did pitch to agents and editors and got some requests. But It never went anywhere since it wasn’t ready and needed more polishing. And then I did live pitch to agents at the Cleveland Writing Workshop. One of my dream agents was there, though I wasn’t selected to pitch to her when I signed up. Though I did get a partial request from an agent, the first page got ripped apart by the panel (with my dream agent) during the first page critique workshop. And then I’ve found a local conference in my area (formerly paid before it went free) every year, but I never pitched it there since they didn’t have the first page critique workshops at the time. And when they did, I had pitched something else instead.

Before my late mother passed away six years ago, I made a promise to her that I would see my dream to get Venom agented and published some day. She knew how hard I’ve tried and struggled e ever since she passed away. I know I didn’t let her down at all. She knows this is the hardest thing I have to do besides saying goodbye to her.

So where do I go from here? I never given up on Venom before. I’ve been told I’m persistent, determined, resilient many times, since I’ve fought so hard to make my dreams come true. But now it’s time to let it go and put it on my backlist for the time being. It’s time to move on and put it to rest. If you’re on Wattpad, I might post it there this summer. If I do get lucky to land an agent and an editor someday, maybe it’ll be moved to the front burner again. Maybe I’ll self-publish it or try my luck with hybrid publishing in the near future. But for now, it’s best to move on.

During last month, my local writing group had a writing exercise about an author taking to a character. It prompted me to prepare saying goodbye to Venom. And I’m going to share it with you right now.

“Do you know who I am?” the person asked at the front of my bed.
“Yes.” I gulped. “You are my character, the one I’ve written about.”
“That’s correct.” My female lead character smiled.
“So why are you here?” I asked.
“To thank you for telling my story and setting me up with a sexy love interest named Aidan.”
I blushed. “You’re welcome. It’s all part of my job as a writer.” I never had a character thank me before. The same could be said for my Muse too. Then it dawned to me. Kylie! I was face-to-face with Kylie Marx from Venom, my first eco-thriller I wrote a decade ago.
“I also want you to tell you it’s okay to table my story after trying to get an agent for so many years. Maybe someday, it’ll be in print…one way or another. Don’t give up. It’ll find a home someday. Goodbye isn’t forever.”
“I won’t, Kylie. You’ll be shelved on my backlist in the meantime…”

In closing, I would like to thank all of my Facebook friends for your support. Big thanks to my 10.5K Twitter followers who commented and RTed it for various Twitter pitch contests. Big thanks to everyone who read and critiqued it at my local writing group and my online critique lists with your feedback) to make it better. To my good friends Cara Reinard and Jaime Hendricks, who’s been there for me, when they’ve told me it’s okay to shelve it. Special thanks to all of the mentors and editors who considered Venom in contests—the same could be said for all of the agents who considered Venom, to those who requested and later passed. I know it’s all subjective with the changing market in publishing. Whether it’s a form or personalized feedback, thanks for giving Venom a first, (second or a third) shot.

A special thanks to my mother who’s looking down at me with sadness. Maybe I can amend that promise to get agented/edited with another manuscript this year or in he future, because I’ll never stop trying and also keep writing. Big thanks to my father, cousin, and my brother, who’s been there for me and understands how hard it is to be a writer trying to make it. To my betas Kat and Sandy, thanks for loving Venom as much as I did.

Thank you for reading and viewing my ode to Venom in this blog post. If you’ve shelved a book, feel free to share your experience in my comments.

#AMMConnect Mentee Hopeful Bio

January 16, 2020 - One Response

My name is Kristen Howe. I write adult thrillers and romantic suspense novels, though I would love to try writing a mystery someday. I’m originally from New Jersey and have been an Ohio resident for 20 years. I’m an unemployed and been a freelancer via Hub Pages and Upwork for a couple of works. I love to do yoga after a stressful day from writing, reading a good book, and snuggling with my 21-year-old cat adult senior male domesticated indoor cat Wylie. I’ve been entering contests for a couple of years like Pitch Wars and Revpit, but never picked with a mentor. I’ve entered Twitter pitch contests and gotten a few likes from time to time. Needless to say, I’ve been querying one novel for almost a decade and had gotten close of landing offers from various partial/fulls requests, but it never happened. I’ll be shelving that novel in March sadly. I’m also at ten-time Nano winner and also a winner for Camp Nano (both spring and summer) in the past couple of years too.
I’m also active on Facebook and Twitter and a book reviewer for Netgalley for a couple of years and really supportive of the #writingcommunity. I also have a blog for my writing/editing/querying adventures (though I haven’t updated it in a few months, except for #writerinmotion this past summer and fall) and now for AMM.

I write because I love reading and have more than a dozen in my head. I have so many stories to tell and would love to get them published (even my backlisted titles too.) I believe it’s my calling ever since I loved to read when I was a little girl. And I would love to make it my dream come true someday. I’ll make a great mentee because I’ll meet deadlines. I’m a hard worker, a fast learner, and can deal with constructive criticism, no matter if it’s negative, neutral, and positive. It would be a a great learning experience for me if I’m chosen as a mentee, if I landed an offer from an agent and then with an editor from a pub house , if when and how to work well with others. And to consolidate a great working relationship for future deals with them too. I just need a mentor to help me push through the final 5-10K to get to the desired word count for romance novels before it could be queried to agents and editors.

My pitch is Dead Heat, my sports-themed romantic suspense I came up with last year. Besides thrillers, I love romantic suspense and sports romance. And I’ve thought this would be a great genre mash-up between the two and place it with an alternate twist on the “Operation Varsity scandal” that’s set during the Winter X-Games. An author friend and my Muse told me this is what agents/editors are looking for when I came up with this idea and brainstormed with her. So I hope it would be a good fit for any mentor who would consider taking it on. I’ve got a Canva mood board aesthetic to set the scene.

#WriterinMotion Weeks 4-5: The Final Draft

November 30, 2019 - Leave a Response

The #WriterinMotion experience had went by this month. And all good things had come to a vastly approaching end. This week, we worked on our final drafts with help from two (or more) beta feedback. And those who were lucky and fortunate to win the raffles by our fabulous editor friend @Jenichappelle had received editorial feedback from them.

This experience was another great one to tighten and rearrange my story a bit from my four fabulous CPs, @rebeccafryar, @songmaiden, @tmnstories and @SKaeth. Thanks you for your valuable input to make it better and polished as it could be at 950 words on the nose. I’ve added a bit of emotional depth to Adrienne and made the ending much stronger. When I wrote and later edited the story, I’ve already dreamed the first chapter of my yet untitled WIM prompt-inspired novel idea I’ll write for Spring Camp Nano 2020. (So stay tuned for more details on Adrienne’s story on how she met Sebastian and later fell for him too.)

Last summer, I’ve used R.E.M.’s The One I Love for the theme song of the short story, Light My Fire. This year, I’ve chosen Garth Brooks’s classic number one song, The Thunder Rolls for The Final Goodbye’s mini theme song. (Did you know that it was originally Tanya Tucker’s song with a fourth verse that’s not included in Garth’s version. It’s only included in metal band, All that Remains’s cover version of it in 2017.)

 

 

The Final Goodbye

The lights flickered out in Adrienne Sinclair’s office. In the dark, she scrambled for her flashlight to find her way out.

Thunder boomed in the distance. Lightning crackled across the evening sky. Torrential rain drenched the streets. She groaned. What else can go wrong tonight?

Before she closed the door, something stuck out to jam it. She widened her eyes at the mysterious envelope and stashed it in her pocketbook.

Adrienne snatched her poncho, her briefcase, and her key ring. The thunderstorm reminded her of Sebastian-the last time they cracked a safe together and made love afterward.

She zipped across the parking lot, and hopped inside her car to dry off and get warm. As she started her engine and fished for her spare flashlight in the glove compartment, she lifted the envelope to inspect the address and the photograph.

There weren’t any train tracks shown in the photograph. The woman looked like her, disguised as a cat burglar. Dressed in black, she held a lightning rod on a stormy night like this one. At first glance, she’d known where to find him.

Taped on the other side of the photo, a skeleton key to open a locker in the Amtrak station at Inverness. At first glance, she’d known where to find him. Clandestine trysts and plotted moves in a treasure-trove filled cubbyhole. The Amtrak train station.

After all this time, he kept this knowledge about the key from her. “Sonofabitch.” She’d sent him to prison and was through with his tedious cat-and-mouse games. Sebastian knew where to get her. She raised her brows and would look for him. “’Rennie, you know where to find me. Follow the clues. Sebastian.’”

At the parking lot, she veered to the right and stopped at the nearest slot, closest to the entrance. She checked the train schedule on her tablet. Surveyed the tracks. Not many people in the terminal. “A half-hour before it arrives. Just like old times, too.” She dashed to the sliding doors. No security detail around, except for the surveillance cameras.

“What the hell? I have no time for this or selfish mind games.”

Lightning struck twice near the complex with rattling thunder. Too close for comfort. She peeled away, flicked on her wipers, and headed for the highway.

A dawning thought hit her like a ray of light. Bastian wouldn’t dare to try to trap me? Would he? After all, she was the one who sent him to prison.

She gazed at the photo once more and flipped it to the back where Sebastian had written the number and its location. I hope I won’t find you there. “’320—Near Cotati Gate.’”

That wasn’t too far for her. With her flashlight, she kept the beam shining bright in the darkened hallway.

She placed her gloved fingers on the lock and turned around. Too hard to detect any moving shadows. But her heart beated pounded in her ears.. She preferred picking locks to spinning dials. Easy to break, easy to crack the safe.

“Bastian, where are you?” Adrienne asked. She couldn’t shake this feeling he lurked around somewhere like last week at the Point Reyes Shipwreck.

“Turn around, Rennie!” Sebastian approached her from the opposite direction.

She jumped, dropping her penlight on the tiled floor, and scowled. She hated it when he scared her like that. “Why are you here? What’s going on? Are you alone?”

“Yeah. But I believe I’m being watched…” He darted his eyes across the hallway. “I’ve cut a deal.”

I don’t like the way this sounds. I won’t bail him out anymore. “What? What deal?” Did he know something else he didn’t let on again?

“With the D.A.’s office. For a lesser sentence, I’ve told them what I know and kept your name out of it.”

Someone like him should spend twenty years behind bars. She blinked. “Go on. Thanks, Bastian, I guess. What sentence?”

“Immunity to testify against my former employers. The whole damned lot.”

Adrienne gasped.Was this some death wish? “You’ve turned State’s evidence against them.”

Sebastian nodded and stepped closer to her. “Yes. I know they’re dangerous and ruthless.”

“Why? They would kill you before they kill me.” Her voice shook. She feared for his life along with her own. No matter how she hated his crimes, she never stopped loving him.

“To be with you and to be free from them. That’s why I’m entrusting you with what’s inside the locker. Open it.” He handed her the key and stood back, swiping her cheeks with his black-gloved hands. “My lips are sealed.”

Adrienne held his hand and squeezed it. She pened it and shone the penlight inside. Bound moneybags, another letter stack, journal entries, and a small framed artwork along with Da Vinci’s secret project. Her jaw dropped. “Woah! No idea there was more….” Holy cow! Is this the Holy Grail? If they ever found out about the missing loot and Sebastian double-crossing them, both their lives would be in danger. She understood why he placed his livelihood on the line. For her. She needed a safe place to hide it away from Inverness. Maybe in Cotati?

“That’s all I’ve stolen from our former fencers. It’s for you.”

“Why?” She whispered into his ears. “I love you, Bastian. Goodbye for now.”

“Because I never stopped loving you. I need to go off-the grid for awhile. Watch your back, Rennie.” Sebastian disappeared into the darkness, leaving her in silence.

Adrienne swallowed hard and closed the locker. She looked both ways, stashed the items into the duffel bags, and fled to the boarding gate to Cotati to go underground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#WriterinMotion Week 4: CP Feedback Round

November 22, 2019 - Leave a Response

Although it took me awhile to get my story for where I wanted it to be, I would like to thank my two CPs, @Rebecca_Fryar and @S_Kaeth for their valuable feedback. Both commented on the same things while they differed on others. I did whittle it down a little and cut it down to a couple of words at 1002 words even. I’ve moved things around and also changed the ending a bit. It would make the perfect segue for a scene change in the future #WIM-prompt inspired story next spring with a working title. But with the ending change, I’m already excited and getting new ideas to write Adrienne’s story in April 2020.  Like with all feedback, I’ve kept what I wanted and disregarded the rest like a grain of salt. Now it’s off to my third CP, @tmnstories to give me bonus feedback in the final round. Unlike this summer, there’s no editorial round except for the lucky raffle winner next week.

Enjoy this new version!

The Final Goodbye

The lights flickered out in Adrienne Sinclair’s office. In the dark, she grabbed her flashlight to find her way out.

Thunder boomed in the distance. Lightning crackled across an evening sky. Torrential rain drenched the streets. She groaned. What else can go wrong tonight?

A mysterious envelope laid by the door’s crack. She widened her eyes on the pocketbook and stashed it in her pocketbook. “What the hell? I have no time for this or selfless mind games.”

Adrienne snatched her poncho, her briefcase, and her key ring. A thunderstorm reminded her from when they last cracked a safe together and made love. It carried a subtle hint of déja vu too.

She sprinted to the front desk and zipped across the parking lot. She hopped inside her car to dry off and get warm. As she started her engine, she fished for her spare flashlight in the glove compartment, and lifted the envelope to inspect the address.

There weren’t any train tracks shown. The woman looked like her in disguise as a fellow cat burglar. Dressed in black, she held a lightning rod on a stormy night like this one.

Sebastian. She shook out her clammy hands as sweat beads formed on her forehead. ‘Rennie, you know where to find me. Follow the clues. Sebastian.’”

Thunder rattled. Lightning struck twice near the complex. Too close for comfort. She peeled away, flicked on her wipers, and headed for the highway.

At first glance, she’d known where to find him at their secret hiding place. Clandestine trysts and plotted moves in a treasure-trove filled cubbyhole. “The Amtak train station.”

Taped on the other side of the photo, a skeleton key at the Amtrak station in Inverness. He kept this knowledge away from her. She sent him to prison and through with his tedious cat-and-mouse games. Sebastian knew where to get her. When intrigued, she would look for him.

The platform and the antenanae held at Amtrak’s station in Inverness. Inside the depot, his skeleton key opened a secret locker. After all this time, he kept this knowledge from her. “Sonofabitch!”

A dawning thought hit her like lightning striking twice in a pitch dark night. “Bastian wouldn’t dare to try to trap me? Or would he?”

At the parking lot, she veered to the right and stopped at the nearest slot, nearest to the entrance, She checked the train schedule on her tablet. Surveyed the tracks. Not many people in the terminal. “A half-hour before it arrives. Just like old times, too.”

She hopped out and dashed to the sliding doors. No security detail around, except for the surveillance videos.

She returned her gaze to the photo once more… and flipped it to the back. Sebastian wrote the number and its location. I hope I won’t find you there, Bastian. “’320—Near Cotati Gate.’”

That wasn’t too far for her. With her penlight, she kept the beam shining bright in the darkened hallway.

She placed her gloved fingers on the lock and turned around. Too hard to detect any moving shadows. But she could hear her heart beating inside her chest. She preferred to pick the lock than spinning any dials. Easy to break, easy to crack the safe.

“Bastian, where are you?” Adrienne asked. She couldn’t shake this feeling he lurked around somewhere like last week at the Point Reyes Shipwreck.

“Turn around, Rennie!” Sebastian approached her in a big stride.

She jumped and dropped her penlight on the tiled floor. She hated him when he scared her like that and scowled. “Why are you here? What’s going on? Are you alone?”

“Yeah. But I believe I’m being watched…” He darted his eyes across the hallway. “I’ve cut a deal.”

I don’t like the way this sounds. I wouldn’t bail him out anymore. “What? What deal?” Did he know something else he didn’t let on again?

“With the D.A.’s office. For a lesser sentence, I’ve told them what I know and kept your name out of it.”

Someone like him should spend twenty years behind bars. She blinked. “Go on. Thanks, Bastian, I guess. What sentence?”

“Immunity to testify against my former employers. The whole damned lot.”

Adrienne gasped.Was this some death wish? “You’ve turned State’s evidence against them for probation or lesser jail time?”

Sebastian nodded and stepped closer to her. “Yes. I know they’re dangerous and ruthless.” He stood close to her.

Tears formed in her eyes and streaked her cheeks. “Why? They would kill you more than me.” She feared for his life along with her own. No matter how much she hated him, she never stopped loving him.

“To be with you and to be free from them. Tha’s why I’m entrusting you with what’s inside the locker. Open it.”

“Key?”

He handed it to her and stood back. He swiped her cheeks with his black gloved hands. “My lips are sealed.”

Adrienne opened it and shone the penlight inside. Bound moneybags, another letter stack, journal entries, and small framed artwork along with Da Vinci’s secret project. Her jaw dropped. “Woah! No idea there was more….” Holy cow! Is this the Holy Grail? If they ever found out about the missing loot and Sebastian double-crossing them, both their lives would be at stake. She understood why he placed his livelihood on the line. For her. She needed a safe place to hide it and away from Inverness. Maybe in Cotati?

“That’s all I’ve stolen from our former fencers. It’s for you.”

“Why?”

“Because I never stopped loving you. I need a safe place to hide and go off-the grid for awhile. Watch your back, Rennie.” Sebasian disappeared into the darkness, leaving her in silence.

Adrienne’s heart slid down to her throat. She looked both ways, stashed the items into the duffel bags from the locker, and made her way to the Cotati gate. If anyone count onto her, she would take the Amtrak train and go underground.

 

#WriterinMotion Week 3–The Self-Edited Version

November 15, 2019 - Leave a Response

Welcome to Week 3 if you’re following along the #WIM feed. Last week, I’ve posted my rough draft version for my adult short story (part two from this summer’s entry Light My Fire). Any rough draft can be messy and a bit long. Before we can get to the polished draft stage, this week focused on self-edits to get it down from 1511 to 1007 words. For my three-pager short story, I went back and forth to remove repetition, shorten sentences, cut words down, and anything else that didn’t help the pace. I kept it during the storm and at the train station. It wasn’t easy. But I managed to get it done and ready to post here (and also at the WIM forum) for comments and feedback. This weekend, it’s off to my two new betas, Rebecca Fryar and Skaeth, two Twiends I’ve known for a long time. And I’ll pay it forward for feedback this weekend. We’re halfway through the journey with two weeks left to go before it ends in December.

I’ve also changed the title, which was also hard, from Cat to Mouse, to the Final Goodbye, which seems to be fitting in the end. Enjoy this new version!

The Final Goodbye

The flights flickered inside Adrienne Sinclair’s office. When it darkened, she grabbed her flashlight to find her way out.

Thunder boomed in the distance. Lightning crackled across an evening sky. Torrential rain drenched the streets. She groaned. What else can go wrong tonight?

She spotted a mysterious envelope by the crack. She stashed it in her pocketbook and widened her eyes on the handwriting. “What the hell? I have no time for this or selfless mind games.”

Adrienne snatched her poncho, her briefcase, and her key ring. Thunderstorms sometimes creeped her out like in the past. It carried a subtle hint of déja vu too.

She sprinted to the front desk and zipped across the parking lot. She escaped inside her car to dry off and get warm. As she started her engine, she fished for her penlight in the glove compartment, and lifted the envelope.

Sebastian. Once again, you’re getting under my skin. “’Rennie, you know where to find me. Follow the clues. Sebastian.’” If she wasn’t stuck in this storm, she would’ve ripped the photo in half.. after she memorized it.

Thunder rattled. Lightning struck twice near the complex. Too close for comfort. She peeled away, flicked on her wipers, and headed for the highway.

At first glance, she’d known where to find her ex-lover, Sebastian Pruitt. Their secret hiding place where they held clandestine trysts. Plotted their next moves in a treasure trove-filled cubbyhole. “The Amtak train station to Cotati.”

There weren’t any train tracks shown. The woman looked like her in disguise as a fellow cat burglar. Dressed in black, she held a lightning rod on a stormy night like this one.

The platform and the antenanae were held at Amtrak’s station in Inverness. Inside the depot, that key led to a secret locker. “Sonofabitch!” Why would he send me this note when I’ve sent him to prison, a week ago? While Sebastian waited for trial, he led her to where he stashed more stolen goods. Like a dog chasing its tail, she flared her nostrils at his cat-and-mouse games once again.

Adrienne focused on the words “cat-and-mouse” in her head. How ironic did he think he was some big cheese? Or referred to his loot, too? Was she the “cat”, who trapped him and sent him packing? Did he consider himself the “mouse” in question? I’m no longer a cat burgular anymore, when he’s still up to his tricks as usual. A dawning thought hit her like Zeus’s trident striking in a pitch dark night. “Bastian wouldn’t daren’t to try to trap me in payback… and from behind bars. Or would he?”

At the parking lot, she veered to the right and stopped at the nearest slot, closest to the entrance. She checked the train schedule on her tablet. Survyed the tracks. Not many people in the empty terminal. “A half-hour before it arrives on schedule. Just like old times, too.”

She hopped out and dashed to the sliding doors. She raised her brows to not see any security detail around, except for the surveillance videos. She preferred to pick the lock than spin the combination dials. Easy to break, easy to crack the safe.

She returned her gaze to the photo once more… and flipped it to the backing. Sebastian wrote the number and its location. I hope I won’t find you there, Bastian. “’320—Near Cotati Gate.’”

That wasn’t too far for her. Straight ahead. Ten paces toward the right and to the vending machines. With her penlight, she kept the beam shining bright in the darkened hallway.

She placed her gloved fingers on the lock and turned around. Too hard to detect any moving shadows. But she could hear her heart beating inside her chest.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are, Bastian,” Adrienne said. She couldn’t shake this feeling he lurked around somewhere like last week at the Point Reyes Shipwreck.

“Boo!” Sebastian approached her and laughed out loud.

She jumped and dropped her penlight on the tiled floor. She hated him when he scared her like that and scowled. “Why are you here? Aren’t you in jail, awaiting trial?” She didn’t hear any prison or jail breaks in the news.

“I’ve been released on bail by my lawyers and made a deal.”

I don’t like the way this sounds. I wouldn’t bail him out anymore. “What? What deal?” Did he know something else he didn’t let on again?

“With the D.A.’s office. For a lesser sentence, I’ve told them what I know and kept your name out of it.”

Someone like him should spend twenty years behind bars. He took the easy way out. She blinked. “Go on. Thanks, Bastian, I guess. What sentence?”

“Immunity in exchange for my testimony against my former employers. The whole damned lot.”

Adrienne gasped. If she’d known anything, they were dangerous and would kill him on the spot. Was

this some death wish? “You’ve turned State’s evidence against them for probation or lesser jail time?”

Sebastian nodded and stepped closer to her. “Yes. A lighter sentence of five years and four months of community service. Two years probation. My trial’s two months from here…”

“Why? They would kill you more than me.” When she worked undercover, she fell for him, and learned insight from Bastian himself.

“I know they’re ruthless. But that’s why I’m entrusting you with what’s inside the locker. Open it.”

First the safe on the ship, now a locker in this train station. “Key?”

He handed it to her and stood back. “My lips are sealed.”

Adrienne opened it and shone the penlight inside. Bound money bags, another letter stack, journal entries, and small framed artwork along with Da Vinci’s secret project. Her jaw dropped. “Woah! No idea there was more…”.”

“That’s all I’ve stolen from our former fencers. It’s for you.”

“Why?”

“Because I’ll be placed under WitSec until my trial. It’s goodbye for now.” Sebastian vanished. Except for his retreating footsteps.

 

 

 

Writers-In-Motion, Round 2: Weeks 1-2:The Prompt and the Rough Draft

November 8, 2019 - Leave a Response

Hello everyone. Writers in Motion is back for a second round this fall. Last summer, we’ve started out from twelve to twenty-four. Now we’re back with a larger group of people, new people who wanted to chip in and join the #WIM moment. And some fellow friends from round one are doing it again while others are passing until next summer. And this time, with a new prompt, there was a raffle for selecting a new group of beta readers, and one chosen winner from another raffle will have their sort story edited by one of fabulous editors. Plus, there’s also a WIM forum when fellow writers will post their short story there for feedback other than their blogs (even if they don’t have one.)

For those who are new to Writers in Motion, WIM for short, it’s a 5-week blog journey to post a short story from rough draft to editorial. (But please be mindful to not use the tag for anything else that’s not related to WIM like your published work or your writing life. Check out the feed down below to see what’s it all about. Even if you’re not participating this time, you can use it and apply to your own writing and later editing from short to long pieces too.)

As for my thinking process, I deliberated on if I should base it on one of my Nano manuscripts (from this summer or currently for this fall), my future WIM-prompted short story-turned novel idea for next year’s Camp Nano, or a new idea entirely different. It took me a few days after this prompt was posted on the blog. So My Muse went into a different direction and did another vignette from my future story. Once again, it was over 1K at 1501 words. So I have 500 words to cut in a week for week 3 for self-edits, 100 words a day, which is a piece of cake on this 3-pager short story.

Check out the photo prompt down below and enjoy my short story, too!

Here’s our photo prompt for this round. Image by engin akyurt from Pixabay

Cat-and-Mouse

 

During the thunderstorm, the flights was flickering on and off inside Adrienne’ Sinclair’s office. When it darkened the room, she grabbed her flashlight, switched it on, and walke down the hall to find her way out.

Thunder boomed loudly in the distance. Lightning flashed and crackled in streaks across an evening sky. Torrential rain downpoured on the streets; the parking lot drenched with heavy hail-sized sheets. She groand as she closed her window and shut her blinds. What else can go wrong tonight? It’s not even 5 PM to call it quits.

On the way out, she stopped to find a mysterious envelope by the crack of her door. She bent down to pick it up and stashed it in her pocketbook. When she was dry and inside her car, she would read it. Under the gleam from her flashlight’s beam, she widened her eyes on the handwriting and who’d addressed it to her. “What the hell?” Adrienne asked herself. “I have no time for this or selfless mind games either.” She had to admit to herself, it did pique her curiosity a tiny bit more.

Adrienne snatched her poncho, her briefcsae, her key ring, and her flashlight. Though it sometimes had creeped her out like it had in the past. It had carried a subtle hint of déja vu too.

She hurried to the door, closed it behind her, sprinted to the front door, and zipped across to her vehicle in the parking lot. More rain had fallen around her, surrouding her with puddles everywhere she went. She escaped inside her car to dry off and get warm. As she started her engine, she fished for her penlight in the glove compartment , and lifted the envelope before her eyes.

She grimaced at the cursive handwriting on the envelope. Sebastian. Once again, you’re getting underneath my skin. “Rennie, you know where to find me. Follow the clues in the photo. Sebasitan.’” If she wasn’t stuck in the middle of a rainstorm, she would rip the photos in half…. after she would memorize it.

Thunder continued to boom above her, shaking and rattling near her car. Lightning was striking near the back of her office building complex twice. Too close for comfort. She peeled away from the wet curb, flicked on her windshield wipers, and headed for the highway.

At first glance, shed known ehere to find her ex-lover, Sebastian Pruitt. Their secret hiding place where they had held clandestine trysts and plotted their next criminal moves in art thefts, various artworks, and stolen artifacts in a treasure trove-filed cubbyhole. “The Amtak train station to Cotati.”

Although there weren’t any train tracks shown in the photograph, she’d known the woman looked like her in disguise as a fellow cat burglar. Dressed in black, she was holding a lightining rod on a stormy night like this one. It reminded her of Benjamin Franklin’s scientific experiments with a lightning bolt and a metal key to conduct electricity.

The platform and the antenanae were held at the Amtrak depot train sstation in Inverness. And inside the depot, that key would lead to a secret locker. “Sonofabitch!” Why would he send me this note when I’ve sent him to prison, a week ago? While Sebastian was waiting for his trail on his nefarious crimes, he led her to where he’d stashed Da Vinci’s letters, diary, and his secret artwork. Like a dog chasing its tail, going in circles, she was fed up with ihis cat-and-mouse games once again.

While driving to the Inverness train station, Adrienne focused on the words of “cat-and-mouse” in her head. How ironic did he think he was some sort of big cheese? Or referred to his loot, too? Was she the “cat” , who trapped him and sent him packing? Did he consider himself the “mouse” in question? I’m no longer a cat burgular anymore, when he’s still up to his tricks as usual. When a dawning thought hit her like Zeus’s trident striking in a pitch dark night. “Bastian wouldn’t daren’t to try to trap me in payback… and from behind bars. Or would he?” She grimaced at the mere thought and shook her head.

At the parking lot, she veered her car to the right and stopped it at the nearest slot, closest to the front entrance. She viewed her tablet and checked the train schedule. Then she survyed the railraod tracks in front of the Amstrak Invernesss train depot. Not many cars in the lot or in the empty terminal. “A half-hour before it arrives on schedule. Just like old times, too.”

She hopped out of her car, grabbed her keys and pocketbook, and dashed to the sliding doors. She raised her brows to not notice any security detail around, except for the surveillance videos. She preferred to pick the key lock than with the combination dials. Easy to break, easy to crack the safe like in a vault.

The question remained at the number of the lock and where to find it. She paid no attention to the pouring rain outside with the thunder-and-lightning in the background. She returned her gaze to the photo once more… and flipepd it over to the backing. In Sebastian’s writing, he wrote the locker number and the place to locate it. I hope I won’t find you there, Bastian. “’320—Near Cotati Gate.’”

That wasn’t too far for her to pinpoint it. Straight ahead. Ten paces toward the right and to the vending machines. The number “320” had no signifcant reference to her, their former relationship, or anything to do with his crimes. With her penlight, she kept the beam shining bright in th darkened hallway, not knowing if it would lead to a power outage or a blackout.

At the locker, she stopped, placed her gloved fingers on the lock, and turned around in the quiet darkness. Too hard to detect any moving shadows. But she could hear herself breahting, her heart beating like a drum inside her chest.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are, Bastian”, Adrienne said. She couldn’t shake this feeling that he was lurking around somewhere like last week, a week ago, on the Point Reyes Shipwreck.

“Boo!” Sebastian approached her in his wide steps and laughed out loud.

She jumped out of her skin and dropped her penlight on the tiled floor. She hated him whren he scared her like that and scowled. “Bastian, why are you here? Aren’t you supposed to be in jail, awaiting trial?” She haven’t heard any news of a prison or jail break in the news.

“I’ve been released on bail by my lawyers and made a deal.”

I don’t like the way this sounds. I wouldn’t bail him ut anymore. “What? What deal?” Did he know something else that he didn’t let on or know again?

“With the D.A.’s office. For a lesser sentence, I’ve told them what I know and kept your name out of it.”

Someone like him should spent twenty years behind bars. He took the easy way out. She blinked and didn’t know what else to say. “Go on. Thanks, Bastian, I guess. What sentence?”

“Immunity in exchange for my testimony against my former employers. The whole damned lot.”

Adrienne gasped. If she’d known anything, they were dangerous and would kill him on the spot. Was
this some sort of a death wish? “You’ve turned State’s evidence against them for probation or lesser jail time?”

Sebastian nodded and took a step closer to her. “Yes. You know I can’t stay way from you, Rennie.” He paused. “I do have a lighter sentence of five years and four months of community service and two years for probation. My trial’s two months from here…”

If she was smart, she would run away and place him under house arrest. But not in her home, of course. “Why? They would kill you more than me.” When she worked undercover to discover his lies and later fall for him, she’d learned a lot of insight from Bastian himself.

“I know they’re ruthless. But that’s why I’m entrusting you with this loot inside the locker. Open it.”

First the safe vault on the ship, now a locker in this train station. “Key?”

He handed it to her and stood back. “My lips are sealed.”

Adrienne opened the locker and shone the penlight inside it. Bags of bounded money, another stack of letters, journal entries, and small-sized framed artwork along with Da Vinci’s secret project no one knew about. She whistled as her jaw dropped to the floor. “Woah! No idea there was more that what we’ve found last week, Bastian.”

“That’s all I have and had stolen from our former fencers. It’s for you.”

“Why?” From the tone of his voice, it sounded like a goodbye.

“Because I’m going to be placed under WitSec until my trial. It’s goodbye for now.”

When she locked the door, she turned around to see Sebastian was gone. Except for his retreating footsteps.

%d bloggers like this: