Professional Bitching Suffers Zombie Attack

So . . . I take it you guys noticed there’s no new podcast this week. To put it simply, I ran out of time. This week I’ve been with Hobb’s Grove working at a haunted attraction inside a baseball stadium. Weird concept, right? We scare while they play. The fans are the real winners. But after prep days to build a new (read: cleaner) costume, an early-morning news appearance, and the two-day event, there was not much brain matter left to speak about anything coherently. But, I can steal a little time to type.

I planned to discuss Damien and it’s first season. I’ll be honest, if it gets a second season, I’ll be surprised. It’s okay horror. There’s some striking moments and character choices. However, it’s utterly frustrating for them to have the lead character more or less a pawn, even in his defining moment during the finale. Damien makes no coherent decisions. Everything’s manipulated or coerced. Pair that with their insistence in trotting out the over-used selective amnesia crap and I switched from watching the story to waiting for the next death gag. The show needs to take a step back and look at the big picture—one producer swears they wrote it to tie every moment to Damien’s ultimate decision in the finale, but that’s not what I’m seeing. I see the writer’s hands too much. Good television makes you forget it was written, though may the gods help you if you just dismiss those writers who did a Very Hard Job and made it look easy.

And we won’t go too deep into how flat and uninspiring the women on the show have been. One is there to be dragged around with no real purpose. Another is CrazyPants Sycophant. We have Religious Nutjob, played by one of my favorite actors and given such bullcrap motivation, I just wanted her to die so they’d quit beating that dead horse. One was there just to be blonde, cute, and then die. Any other woman on the show is background, silent, or slated for death. We can do better nowadays.

That’s Professional Bitching Lite for this week. To make up for it, click this link for the news footage where I played zombie at an ungodly hour in the morning.

Just Another Day

It’s been a while since I dropped a random story. Here’s the catch: I don’t have a lot of time today. So what I’m going to do is scribble for an hour and see what comes of it.

And here we go….

The pigeon outside Hank’s window wouldn’t shut up. The bastard settled there at sunrise, cooing until the alarm clock played static-garbled oldies. It paused long enough to turn around and resumed chatting away to it’s reflection, or whatever the hell birds talk to when they’re all alone.

Better than talking to yourself all the time.

Touché, self.

Hank grabbed the book on his nightstand. His fingers slipped off the slick cover. He settled for dumping the hardcover on the wood floor. Thump. The pigeon scurried to the ledge and flew off.

“Coo, coo, motherfucker.” Peace at last.

His neighbor turned on their radio, gifting him with the nerve-grating top forty hits playing in every club, bar, and department store in the United States. Original thought and creativity flew out the window with the digital age. What happened to bands like Queen, Led Zeppelin, and Judas Priest? Hank cringed. His taste in music was as old as his favorite jeans. No wonder he was stuck dating online. One look at his dated clothes, one peek into his CD collection, and women wrote him off as daddy material. Not the sugar kind. He couldn’t afford an extra large coffee by the end of the month, let alone buy a hot young thing whatever she desired.

Rolling out of bed took way too much effort. Monday morning blahs threatened to send him diving under the covers for just another hour. Rhianna sang about work from the neighbor’s. What a great idea. Go to work and get away from the incessant hip-hop droning.

“Next time I move, I’ll make sure a wannabe go-go dancer isn’t in the building.”

Shit. Shower. Shave. Suit-up. Same routine he followed every work day.

Hank dropped a spare shirt and tie in his messenger bag. A date after work on a Monday. He was insane to accept the request. Who in their right mind wanted to do anything except kill a bottle of bourbon after eight mind and ass numbing hours at a desk job? Karen was gorgeous. That was motivation enough. Hank never lied to himself when it came to dating. She was hot. He was as handsome as a canker sore. The date probably came from pity or the vain hope that his personality was better than his face and soft gut.

Apartment door secured, he took a moment to flip the bird at apartment 412. Her music swapped to some house mix with a rhythm to make people shake their ass. He’d seen his neighbor three times in the year he lived there. She had plenty of ass to shake.

Outside, he hailed a cab. It took three frantic arm-waving sessions to catch a cabbie’s eye. Climb in. Hold on. Pray the guy didn’t rear end a school bus or hit a nun in the crosswalk.

The office building was at the north edge of town. Everyone and their ailing granny swore the big money migration would take everyone from downtown to just inside the north-most border in the city. So far it was the one building, a Starbucks, and three mediocre Chinese restaurants. The building was home to six small businesses, each with their own floor. Though only three years old, it had plumbing problems. Toilets ran dry, leaving crap in the bowl. Sinks leaked—they should just run hoses from one to the other, that’d fix the problem. Then there was the elevator only the brave used.

Hank huffed and puffed to the sixth floor. “Eight hours and I’ll see you again, nemesis,” he grumbled as he left the stairwell.

It was more like eight hours and fifteen minutes. There was always that one last caller who couldn’t decide if she wanted to cruise to the Bahamas or one of the trendy Alaskan treks and asked every imaginable question about both. If he had to talk about snow or sand again that night, he’d jump off the roof.

Down, down, down he clomped.

In the lobby, Hank stepped into a corner near the front doors and pulled out his phone. Karen texted while he finished with the last caller.

See you soon. I’m wearing the green dress. 😉

Hank’s hands trembled. His phone slipped. He caught it and jammed it into his coat pocket. She sent a photo of the dress the night before. The front plunged so low, half of each breast showed. He didn’t anticipate her wearing it, thought the picture was to entice him into actually showing up.

He checked the clean shirt and tie in the shiny metal around the support beam to his left. His outfit was nowhere near as enticing.

At least I’ve got a somewhat tolerable personality. If he didn’t hate himself after fifty years, it had to be a sign he wasn’t a bridge troll.

Outside the building, it took another three attempts to flag a cab. Most of the time he swore they didn’t think he really wanted a ride and waved his arms for shits and giggles.

“Seventh and Hamilton, please.”

The driver’s left brow rose, but he put the car in gear and off they drove, leaving the north side in favor of the slowly dwindling downtown area.

Of course the driver took the longest route. Of course he took his sweet time counting out the change. Of course he parked near a damn puddle. Hank still tipped the guy. It would’ve been another ten minutes before he got a car to stop. He didn’t have the patience to wait another ten minutes. Karen was in the dress. That thought alone obliterated his ability to wait for anything.

Mother’s Kitchen sat on one corner at the intersection with a Walgreens, Taco Bell, and Vons. White folk heaven, he called it. They could get good steak, rubbers, food that’ll make you shit water for a week, and overpriced produce. The nearest Starbucks was one block east. Three more were within a mile radius. Everyone under thirty who passed clutched a Frappichino.

Hank played Frogger to cross the busy sidewalk, bumping a teenage guy who couldn’t walk right with his saggy pants around his knees. “Sorry,” Hank said.

“Whatever.”

Orange is not your color, man. Don’t smack the kid for trying to be a badass. The pep talk didn’t slow his heart rate.

Neither did the blonde woman waving at him through the restaurant’s front window. She beat him to the door, opening it.

“I’m so glad you came.” Karen didn’t waste a moment. She wrapped him in a hug the second she released the door. Her breasts pushed against his chest. He was afraid when they parted, the risqué gown would slip and show nipple. To his surprise, it stayed in place.

They followed the host to their table. Karen ordered drinks. Hank hadn’t found his voice after convincing his dick to calm the fuck down.

“So, uh, you come here a lot?” He draped the napkin on his lap. That’s what people did on dates, right? Pretended they had table manners? At home he ate wherever he happened to be in the apartment when hunger struck.

Karen laughed. “Yes, I do.” She paused and chewed her bottom lip. Miraculously her lipstick didn’t end up on her teeth. The woman was pure magic.

“What’s on your mind?” The way she watched him shifted. He had a feeling their night would end before they finished their salads.

“I don’t want to be rude.”

Hank reached across the table and clasped her hand. “I’m a hard guy to offend. Go for it.”

She chewed her lip again. Deep breath. “Okay. I have to ask . . . Why does that bearded guy have a hand in your back?”

Time’s up! Well, that went weird. How the hell does a puppet end up on a dating site?

You Want to do What?

First, let me preface this by saying my friends are lovable asshats. I ran out of time to think this week, so I asked them to drop blog topics for me to pick from. Two were viable. The rest made me wonder why I have so many oddballs in my life. The wonder lasted until I looked in the mirror and caught myself in an Avengers t-shirt and red scotty dog flannel pants with my hair sticking out in every direction. If I threw stones, my glass house would resemble Alderaan.

What topic did I pick? Christina B. gave me this gem:

Random acts of writing. Just when you think everything is okay, the story takes a drastic turn!

Plot shenanigans are ultra rare in my writing universe nowadays. I realized a couple years ago that it was far easier to plot my ass off before work began on a manuscript. I let it sit for a couple weeks, note any new ideas, then write like the wind. Having a solid outline doesn’t negate all surprises. I kinda wish it did. Usually these “What the hell do you mean it’s not happening this way?” moments require going back through the book to fix a plot point, or tweaking the outline to reflect the change so I don’t have to edit the damn thing in after the fact. As I write, I have a page of “Gods Damn It” notes to apply during editing round one. Sometimes these are plot hole patches, conversation changes, notes on wound locations, etc. Most often they’re reminders to put clothes on my characters because I never remember to dress them, but clothing is a huge part of self expression and needs to happen to fully flesh out my fictional friends. I did have a WTF moment recently when a character requested a latex dress. That was fun research.

With my characters—who are all far too real for my sanity’s sake—their suggested changes are never simple things. The Inbetween series is rife with changes I never saw coming. Garik in particular likes to go, “Oh, by the way, that thing you thought was this way? It’s actually this way.” If he were real, I’d punch him in the nose for each time I had to go back to fuss with minor things which were series-encompassing details. Sometimes the characters don’t get their way. I let my imagination run, give the people in my head a lot of leash to romp, but there are times I say no because the change is too much, too weird, or doesn’t make sense within the main story arc. Sorry, Garik, I don’t need a scene with you discovering organic bath balls.

Heh, I said balls.

For Sydnee’s long-overdue book, her drastic turn happened early in the game. What luck! I won’t say what it is (spoilers!) but her foot-down decision one afternoon while I wrote changed the entire book. Which was a good thing because that week I’d realized I had no clue how to end her story. Not only is Sydnee’s book her story, it’s the end of my vampire series. Her ending has to be their ending. I’ll tell you now, the vampires are going to a place I hadn’t predicted when I originally laid out the game plan going into this final story. Those kind of story-leading-the-writer moments are okay. Sometimes I can’t see the big picture and have to step aside to figure out where the characters would naturally lead the plot without me micromanaging every detail.

What if the characters can’t figure it out, either? That’s where my writing group comes in. I’ve got a couple people who’ve been on the writing path with me since day one, sentence one. Sandi and Quamaine are the reason why I kept writing, have remained a writer, and have every faith in my ability to do something meaningful in this career. They’re also in my life to call me on my shit when I send them a scene or dialog chunk giving me problems. Occasionally you just need another brain to assist. Talking things out with them, hearing what they think may be the snag or where they think the scene is heading, helps recalibrate the writing work. It may even spark a dreaded, but secretly hoped for, surprise change to the story. I do the same thing with my editing clients as necessary, and without charge, long before they send me a finished manuscript. Why? Writers cannot work in a vacuum. They need feedback at some point. I’d rather do it now than later when it may require extensive rewrites. Everyone needs a sounding board. That’s what managers at day jobs are for—a person to listen to your problems and help fix them so you provide the content you were hired to create. I am my own manager. I am a shitty manager, too. This is why I have my writing group, and I highly suggest other independent authors do the same. It gives you people to help long before paying an editor to fix the mistakes. Matter of fact, with a solid writing group, your editor may think you’re brilliant and their first pass won’t look like the manuscript is bleeding from ten-thousand paper cuts.

What about you? Do you look forward to the, “Whoa, wait. What,” moments while writing? Has a random idea sparked an entirely new direction for a story, causing you to scrap pages upon pages of work? If so, be honest and tell me how many Kleenex you went through while dumping* those pages in the circular filing cabinet.

(*Never actually toss scrapped story content. Shove it in a file to pilfer through later for bits to flesh out the rest of the story, or even start a new one.)

Well, That Wasn’t Fun

Self awareness is never a comfortable path. Matter of fact, it’s downright painful during days when the world around you forces you to dig deep and Fix The Gods Damned Problem inside yourself before you self-destruct. Moments of awareness tend to arrive around the time you think you’ve gotten your shit together just enough to be completely heartbroken the instant you realize you’ve been stuck in an unhealthy decision pattern affecting half your life, that you’ve slapped a Barbie Band-aid over the problem, preventing you from finding happiness in any truly meaningful way.

I had a moment of stark clarity this weekend. I did not like what I saw in the soul mirror.

Every decision I’ve made regarding love came while cowering under fear’s vast shadow. Fear I’d die alone. Fearful of the day I reached the point where my stubborn determination to keep my head screwed on tight enough isn’t enough and I have no help. Most shamefully, I let fear reinforce the notion that I am not good enough.

I honestly thought I’d worked through this. The core of my self care has always been to keep fear from pushing me to poor romantic choices. Man, understanding how far I had to go sucked on a level I cannot fully convey in words. My heart hit my combat boots. I found what privacy I could and had an hour-long cry. The next morning, it was wash, rinse, repeat on the self pity front until I pulled myself up by the bootstraps and stubbornly moved through the day. The talk I had with myself while I cried never fully left my mind. It dogged me as the day progressed, haunting conversations with friends I see too rarely.

Warning: The following is adult in nature. Younger readers, please do not read on.

Continue reading “Well, That Wasn’t Fun”

Not-So-Hostile Takeover

Believe it or not, I have friends. Those friends write awesome things. Leona Bushman is a whirlwind made of sheer will, with a dash of clumsy to keep her grounded. It’s my pleasure to let her take over today to celebrate the cover reveal for Magic and Weres.

Preorder the book now! And here’s the UK preorder link.

magicandweres200x300

Thank you for having me today! I have a favorite cover artist, whether for myself or on other authors, this artist’s artwork has always caused me to smile. Her name is Victoria Miller. I sent her this vague cover art form, saying, well, I have these things, all have magic, all have weres/shapeshifters. And um, the longest story is set in early Scotland, and it’s romance, and um, can you do your magic for me? LOL There may have been a lot of eye lash batting and begging.
Anyway, even with that, she managed to make me a gorgeous cover to match the feel of the stories in there. From early Scotland, to modern day England, you will find magic and shapeshifters. Love, romance, even a couple of hot ones.
An excerpt from Victorian England where Vampires drink werewolf blood to keep their powers of walking in the day and other magical elements, and werewolves live as long as their vampire counterparts. Our hero, Daryn, finds himself cornered by his nemesis, one who wants him back in the coven for dark reasons, and a little tease when he meets our heroine. The title is
Daryn’s Slayer.

He grabbed his gloves and top hat, bent over, and snagged his boots, but left his crimson cravat tied to the post. It would be her talisman. He left one with all the women he slept with. His calling card.
Daryn had barely stepped out of the luxurious room when a voice from his right startled him.
“Do you always creep out like a thief the morning after? You used to have better manners than that.” The seductive voice pierced him with longing and hatred. His whole body quivered in remembered pleasure and torture. He turned to her, almost involuntarily, as need and loathing fought for supremacy.
Her body looked stunning encased in the latest fashions. Her dark gold, silk dress had a three-foot trail, ruffled along the bottom, with blood-red trim woven through the ruffles. Lace, with real gold threads worked in a leaf pattern, lined the seam of the ruffles, as well as her jacket and collar.
More gold-and-cream lace lined two sides of the red trim and splashed across her thighs. The corset, barely needed for her hourglass figure, only served to emphasize the delicacy of the fabrics used for her jacket and the ruffled lace that trimmed the inside of her collar and flowed in folds from her cleavage to just below her waist. He noted all this in the quick, practiced look he’d perfected over the last few hundred years.
“Good morning, Cassandra. So good to see you.” The sarcasm dripping from his tones, his first line of defense with her, couldn’t possibly have been missed, but she apparently chose to ignore it.
“Good morning, Daryn. Ready to come home? Tired of your little rebellion?”
He’d had centuries of practice, schooling his face into the impassive lines hiding his real emotions. She enjoyed her tortures too much to allow her to see how deeply she affected him.
“Tired, yes. The little minx whose home we’re in kept me busy all night,” he replied, and walked down the hall. He could have evaporated in mist and gone somewhere else, but, unless he planned on feeding again, which since significantly harder for him in daylight, he could only do it once. And she would follow. He had no intentions of showing her where he lived.
“You’re less funny than you believe yourself to be, my protégée,” she replied, not letting him leave her sight.
“Apparently I have wit beyond compare, as you see fit to push yourself in my presence, wanted or no,” he replied, taking the stairs two at a time down to the ground floor. It wouldn’t be long until he could no longer walk in the full sun, even early dawn, if he didn’t find a werewolf soon. Going outside burned him, with the morning light the least problematic.
Cassandra would hound him. She hoped to trap him back into the fold with his need. She didn’t know where he’d found his werewolf blood all these years, but she’d retaliated ages ago by ordering her coven’s guards to kill all of the renegade weres on sight, making it harder for him to find the powerful sustenance. She wanted him back. What he didn’t understand was why.
The longer he stayed away from her coven, the more convinced he became that there existed something nefarious in her wish to have him in the fold. Otherwise, why would this ruthless leader keep him alive in his disobedience when she had summarily ordered all others killed? He glanced behind him.
“What you have is an inflated ego which needs brought back down,” she said, grabbing his arm and turning him to face her. Damn it. He hadn’t felt or seen her move past him, and yet, there she was, standing between him and the door. That would teach him to look back.
“I’m quite sure you’re the queen destroyer of egos,” he snarled. Yanking his arm back, he struggled to keep his calm. He had to find a way to sit and put his top hat, gloves, and shoes on so he wouldn’t be hurt by the early sunlight. And he needed to go soon. The midday sun would be brutal on his skin. He’d be ashes within moments.
He strode into the morning room, put on his overcoat, and sat on one of the plush, fabric-covered chairs there. He hated turning his back to her, but he had to hide the fear that her fast movements had induced, as well as the bloodlust her touch inspired. If they shared blood again, he would be bound to her, as addicted as any mortal on opium.
He put on his boots as if he had all the time in the world, then stood up. Slowly, he drew on his gloves, wondering why she’d stayed silent. He peered up and surprised a look on her face, one he couldn’t readily decipher, before she schooled her features back into her normal haughty demeanor.
When she met his gaze, she said, “Now that you are properly dressed, shall we go for a stroll? I feel like a walk on the promenade,” she said in sugary tones, taking a dig at his severely limited daylight time.
“Oh, let us do that together, Cassandra. Your company is ever a source of joy and cheer for me,” he said, staring down at his hands and pushing his gloves on until they were exactly right. He realized he hadn’t buttoned up and smiled sardonically up at his former lover.
“Oh, but we mustn’t. I look a fright. I must go home to my manservant and allow him to put me to rights. Another time, perhaps. Don’t call on me, I shall find you. No, really. Don’t call on me. You’re not invited.”
With that, he took a chance that the retraction of invite might buy him a few minutes, and apparated outside a milliner’s shoppe, into the small alcove. He immediately fell over in a tangle of purple skirts and lace. Feminine gasps of outrage and surprise filled his ears until he finally got untangled.
They ended up face-to-face.
“Where, sir, did you come from?” the pert blonde asked, her hat askew. “And why do you feel the need to push me down?” She tried to straighten her hat, then realized her skirts lay in a chaotic fashion and rapidly stood up. Her parcels were strewn all about her, some tied in pretty ribbons, some hard, some lumpy.
He began gathering them up for her, his mouth dry. Her cleavage, which he’d seen as she’d stood up, had brought forth an honest sexual reaction. Not forced, or brought on by bloodlust, but by pure sexual fantasy. When he had her last parcel picked up, he stood and handed them to her.
“I’m sorry, miss.” He hesitated, wanting her to supply him with a name.
“Miss Ernestine Primrose,” she replied and held out her gloved hand, after transferring a large packet, the only one that hadn’t fallen, to her other hand.
He took her fingers in his and brought her hand up for a kiss. After giving it the customary greeting, he turned her hand over, and just above her short glove, he kissed her skin over her life vein.
She shivered, and her heart beat faster, its rhythm pounding against his ears like a melodic song. He met her eyes. They were a dark blue, the perfect foil to her blonde hair and fair, but slightly sun-kissed skin.
“Please, allow me to walk you home. It is the least I can do after such a blunder. I’m afraid I wasn’t watching where I was going and completely fell into you.” She had no idea how lucky they both were. Her being in his exact landing spot probably masked his scent from Cassandra.
All of a sudden, he grinned. Miss Ernestine Primrose had just found herself a suitor.

Daryn and Ernestine have a chemistry that I find exciting. I’m sometimes frustrated with characters. I’m a pantser, and sometimes, the characters are stubborn. These two flowed as if waiting to be written through the annals of time. It’s the hottest story in the anthology…well, The Lion, the Witch and the Faerie is also hot as hades. The other two are hot as well. Hmm, let’s hope this doesn’t scorch anyone!
Magic and Weres full release is February 12th. Don’t miss it!

Leona Bushman lives in Eastern Washington with her husband and children writing, painting, gardening, running, camping, or just reading or crafting. She also loves to swim but rarely gets a chance to as she’s busy chasing after the three of five children still left at home. Sassy and saucy, she can be found writing about her trials and errors as a mom and writer at the following places:

Blog: http://lbushman.blogspot.com
The website: http://www.leonajbushman.com
And don’t forget Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLeonaBushman
Twitter: @L_bushman

I Deserve a Pat on the Head

Last month I sent myself to the emergency room on purpose to begin the process to remove my gallbladder.

Two weeks ago a complete stranger cut me open, yanked the little malfunctioning asshole out, and glued my wounds shut.

I did this horrifically terrifying and Very Adult thing more or less by myself.

Save the three friends who gave me rides to/from the hospital–one to the ER, one dropped me off for surgery, and the last took my loopy self home after–I handled everything about this little health scare. This is the first time I’ve had to rely on myself to get through anything with doctors, hospitals, etc. without my mother pulling the strings. Hell, aside from a few visits to friends/family recovering from their ills, I’ve never had a reason to go into the ER, let alone go under the knife. No broken bones. No major health problems. *knock on wood* Not even a stupid childhood accident like a marble up my nose.

Up until now, it was a blessing. I was, and still am, terrified of hospitals. To be honest, I’m not one-hundred percent sure how I saw it through to the endgame–the actual surgery. Somehow every time I needed to make a gut-check, I rolled a natural twenty. Yeah, that might go over some heads…. Basically, anytime I though for sure I’d yank out the IV and bolt out the door, hospital gown baring my ass to the world, I managed to talk myself off the ledge–in the ER and the pre-op waiting area. It’s nothing short of a miracle.

A miracle which left me with itchy incisions, but a clean bill of health as of yesterday morning’s post-op check-up.

The check-up was hilarious. Dr. T–not my surgeon, but the head in the department–walked in. “How are you feeli–” He spotted the soy latte clutched in my hands. “Felling better, apparently.” “Yes, Doctor. Coffee means I’m myself again.” We laughed. The rest of the appointment took a whopping five minutes. Any nausea? No. How’s the pain? Not bad if I don’t do dumb things. Dr. T checked my itchy souvenirs, prodded my stomach, and sent me on my way.

It took me three fucking years to get my gallbladder removed and the Big Scary Things I anticipated never happened. It’s such a Minor Thing, I talked to people who hack into others for a living for maybe thirty minutes total. That’s including the ER, pre-op appointment, pre-op call, meeting the surgeon day-of, and yesterday’s blink-and-miss-it check-up.

Being on the other side of the ordeal, I’m laughing at Past R.C. who hyperventilated at the mere thought of an operation. She had her reasons. Dad’s never-ending string of Serious And Scary surgeries set a bad tone for my life. He died on the table a few times, but they always brought him back. During one spinal surgery, his heart stopped. They had to flip him over to bring him back. Ta-da! Staph infection. Every other surgery after, they couldn’t close the incision(s). We lived in the middle of nowhere. Nurses couldn’t make it every time he needed to change bandages. Guess who got to learn how to flush, clean, and pack deep wounds? Yup. This chick. Or rather, her twelve year old counterpart.

Once you’ve packed sterile gauze into a four-inch deep abdominal incision the length of your forearm, the mere thought of allowing someone to cut into you is terrifying.

Didn’t you guys ever wonder why I know so much about what the insides of a person look like? My Google-fu is strong, but nothing can compare to childhood lessons like the ones I received.

I’ve got a couple more weeks ahead on the recovery road. Mostly just keeping myself busy doing desk work so I don’t attempt to clean the house, which requires lifting heavy things. Yes, that’s the story I’m sticking to. It’s making the others in the house clean. I’m okay with that.