Can You Vague That Up For Me?

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WTF Stock Art Sites?!: An Open Letter to Stock Art Sites (and Photographers Who Sell Their Work There)

Dear Stock Art Sites and Photographers who Sell Their Work There,

What are you even thinking?

No, really. I mean that in all seriousness.

What the actual merciless fuck is the matter with you?

Have you seen some of the weird shit that ends up on royalty-free photo sites?

Look, I get it. Not everyone who uses your site is trying to find appropriate looking models or images for cover art and promo for books. I realize that a lot of pop psychology articles and/or think pieces feature a good many of your photos. As do myriad advice columns, and blog posts (including yours truly) but dudes, I’m mostly there for photos that my brilliant cover artist can turn into cover art for my books. Honestly, a lot of people are there for that reason. So, we need to talk. There are some things you guys need to cut the fuck back on.

Unless you’re new here, you won’t be surprised to learn that I have a list of things that annoy me we’d all like to see a lot less of. So, let’s begin, shall we?

Why are there so many photos of people taking selfies and/or using phones in inexplicably weird ways? Yes, I’m aware that many think pieces have been written about people’s selfie fixation. Then, there are the memes and bitchy, self-righteous facebook posts. The people making memes are usually using actual selfies, not stock art. And while I have no problem with people taking selfies, (Do it up! I wish I had that skill.) as far as the stock art goes, literally no one needs hundreds of pages of photos of people taking selfies. No. One.

Cheerful bearded young man showing thumbs up and taking selfie

So, this douche…

While we’re on the topic of phones, I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the plethora of photos of people talking on their cell phone at weird and unlikely times.

Smiling woman talking on mobile phone in yoga studio

Yoga: You’re doing it wrong. 

If you really want to show people using their cellphones in their natural habitat, there would be page after page of people sitting on the toilet chatting or playing Words with Friends while waiting in a school parking lot for their kids.

While we’re on the topic of people doing inexplicably weird things whilst on the phone, we need to talk about the preponderance of Santa hat photos. No really. There are so many. Like…a terrifying amount. I mean, I like the holidays as much as the next person, but the sheer volume of models in Santa hats makes literally no sense. You guys, there are thousands.

Friends in santa's hats with phones

Are you showing him his gift? Do you have porn on your phone? Is porn his gift? What is even happening here? I NEED ANSWERS! 

sexy man Santa Claus

Dude. This NOT what your mother meant when she said “Put a hat on.”

Another common stock art standard is the thumbs up pose. I picked this one because Santa hat. (See? They’re everywhere.) Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to use the thumbs up pose sarcastically. Like when my husband asks me how the story’s coming.

But all the people on the stock art sites seems so damn earnest in their thumbs up giving. Why? Why are you people so earnest about it? Is the photographer blackmailing you? Is that what’s going on here? Are you signaling for help? (Oh, and the selfie douche? Scroll back up – he’s also giving the thumbs up. What the hell, man?)

Cheerful young woman in santa claus hat showing thumbs up

Awkward. 

In keeping with the technology theme, I’d like to address headphones. You find a model that you’d really like on a book cover (not this guy) and bam! giant headphones  lousing up your cover art vibe.

Man in living room watching television and wearing headphones

Everything in my house is white because I make poor life choices. 

Look, I like being outside. I even like working outside. However, you can’t sit in direct sunlight and expect to be able to see anything on your screen. Also, what the fuck is with this guy. Have you even computered before, dude?

Man working with notebook in the park.

Now, how do I get to the Facebook, again?

There are also an alarming amount of pictures of women posing “seductively” with their blowdryers. I am…not sure what’s happening here. Or why. But I do know that I’m profoundly uncomfortable.

Pretty woman blowing on hairdryer

Anthropomorphizing has gone too far.

Also, please stop with the stupid hats that ruin otherwise cute-ish photos that could work for cover and promo art. Just lose the damn hats. They’re ruining everything.

 

See? This kid knows the pain of a bad hat.

Happy Girl Having Great Fun And Wearing A Multicolored Hat

I feel you, kid. I feel you. 

We need to talk about all the hearts. They’re everywhere on stock art sites. Paper hearts. Puffy hearts. Dough hearts. Rock hearts. Balloon hearts. They’re like a flea infestation in a dairy barn. Weirdly, the majority of the hearts are hiding people’s faces. What does that mean? And why are so many people hiding behind hearts? I need someone to explain the psychology of this to me.

 

Please just stop already with the hearts.

Apropos of nothing, what is with nearly every couple having a Jack and Rose pose on stock art sites?! That shit needs to stop.

young couple  on beach have fun

There’s only room for one of you on that hunk of wood. 

While we’re talking “romantic” images, what the hell is it with one partner looking really into it, but the other one looks…

Sexy passionate couple

…regretful of her life choices and possibly nauseated.

 

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…like he thinks he’s entirely too cool for this trendy European street scene.

Beautiful sexy couple portrait. Model man with girlfriend posing

…about to fly into a murderous rage, but not before ascending to the throne in Hell.

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…bored, now.

Speaking of couples, are these two about to get it on in their kid’s preschool classroom?! What the actual merciless fuck are we supposed to get from this photo besides a deep sense of discomfort and shame?

Flirtatious couple enjoying breakfast

Look, I don’t want to kink shame, but…

Speaking of kink…

I guess…

I would very much like someone to explain the absolutely baffling fuckery of this photograph.

Tiny apartment sized ironing board? Check.

Itty bitty travel iron? Check.

Portrait of judgmental cat? Check.

Late 80s bridal lingerie? Check.

Dude with sardonically arched eyebrow and buttchin? Check and check.

WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE????

Young attractive couple and british cat in a dark room

Ironing out the kinks in their relationship…?

Then…there’s this. I have zero words for this super low-budget ren faire photo, and that’s coming from someone who actually enjoys ren faires.

Folk musicians and woman dancer.

The Minstrels of Misrule, slaying their cover of “Mr. Brownstone” while Lady Eowyn performs her interpretive dance piece. 

I could go on for pages about stock art.

And probably days.

No, I could definitely go on for days. There are just so many inexplicable photos there. Which stock art photos baffle you the most?

Musical Musings: Last Song Heard, 1st Song Alphabetically on Device, Last Song Alphabetically on Device

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Yay for an easy blog post! I’ve been running around like mad trying to get everything done. It’s that time of year where I frantically try to make all of the presents. *sigh*

Someday, I’ll learn. This, however, is not the year.

So, without further ado, here’s  the song list.

The last song I heard was: Flaws (the live version) by Bastille.

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Alphabetically, the first song on my phone is: Albatross by Susan Mckeown and Chanting House.

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Alphabetically, the last song on my phone is: You Belong to Me covered by Kate Rusby.

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I think Paige is the only other blogger blogging this week, so be sure to check out her post, too.

Promptly Penned: Safer–Not Safe

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Prompt: “No, I said we were safer, not safe.”

“We should be safer up here. Did you make sure all the doors and windows are locked?”

Mark nodded. “I covered all of the windows, too.”

“Good.” Rowan pushed her hair off her face and wiped the sweat from her forehead with her forearm as she eyed the sun sinking lower on the horizon through the tiny space between the curtain panels. She had no idea how long they’d be able to stay here, but a cabin on a mostly deserted seemed way better than taking their chances with a town full of zombies. Especially a zombie high school homecoming parade. She’d be picking cheerleader out of the grill of her truck for weeks. “If you want to try to get some rest, I’ll take the first watch.”

She continued to stare out the window but startled when Mark settled his hands at her hips and startled nuzzling her neck.

She slapped at his hands and twisted away from him. “What the fuck is the matter with you?!”

“What? You said we were safe. I thought we could both use a little adrenalin-release. ”

“No, you asshole. I said we were safer–not safe.” Rowan wiped at her neck. “And besides that, we broke up three years ago. The only reason I even picked you up was because that trumpet player was about to eat your face.”

Mark just stared at her.

“Seriously, touch me again, and I’ll dump you right back on main street in the middle of the percussion section.”

That’s it for me this week. Be sure to read Jess‘ post, too!.

Flash Fiction #69 – Girl by the Pond

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52888757 - shot of a gothic woman in a forest. fashion.

Gwyndon had no idea how she’d ended up at the pond again. It didn’t seem to matter when she decided to go for a walk or where she was when she decided to go. She found herself on the shore of this same body of water every single time. It was as if her conscious brain shut down and her subconscious kicked in. And for whatever reason, her subconscious thought this pond was a great idea.

She stared over the glasslike surface, the reflection of earth and sky–an impressionistic painting come to life. As it had since she’d been coming here, the water perfectly mirrored the world around it. But no matter how close to the surface she got, she never saw her own image. It was as if the water swallowed all traces of her.

She wished that were possible. That she could just disappear into the nearly perfect likenesses of bare branches and gunmetal gray clouds that marched slowly across the sky. It wasn’t that she wanted wanted to die or anything that dramatic. She just wanted a fucking break from all the stress. From wondering if her parents could continue to afford her brother’s medical care now that her dad had lost his job and their health insurance. From wondering if she should just drop out of college and get a second job. From wondering  if there would still be a world when she woke up in the morning or if the so called leader of her country would have plunged them straight into a nuclear war. What she wouldn’t give for just twenty-four hours of not fucking worrying about every little thing. But that would take some kind of miracle at this point to clear out the governmental corruption.

As she stared at the pond, an anomaly near the center caught her attention. It looked like a metallic point had pierced the surface of the water from beneath. And it was moving slowly toward her, barely creating a ripple. Worry twisted her gut, but her feet were rooted to the spot. She couldn’t run if she wanted to.

As the piece of metal drew closer, it rose farther from the surface, and she realized it was a sword blade. Eventually, the water and weeds sluiced away from the figure carrying the weapon, until a woman dressed in a long flowing white gown, tinged green by algae, emerged completely from beneath the surface. Rivulets of water streamed from  her hair like liquid ribbons, and her eyes slowly opened, pinning Gwyndon with her unwavering blue-green gaze.

She wanted to believe she was dreaming, but she knew she wasn’t. The cold damp of the ground chilled her feet through her canvas shoes, and the bite of the late autumn air sliced through the weave of her sweater. Her nose was cold enough that it had started to run. Yeah, she was definitely awake and in the middle of some fucked up mythical scenario.

“And the time would come…” The woman’s voice reverberated throughout the forest as she continued to hold Gwyndon’s gaze. “When the kingdom’s need was greatest, the sword would rise again and find its way into the hands of the king,”

She stared at Gwyndon expectantly, and Gwyndon blinked a few times. “I…I’m not sure you’ve got the right person. Or…even the right country.”

The woman frowned. “Do you deny that the land is in chaos? That the people are embattled? Tormented?”

Gwyndon shook her head. “No…that’s pretty accurate.”

“Then do you wish for the tyrants to continue to rule?”

If she could have moved, she would stepped back. “God, no!”

The barest hint of a smile curved the woman’s lips. “At times, the health of the body requires the diseased limb to be removed. Are you prepared to excise the illness.”

Gwyndon thought of her brother struggling to breathe, taking only half the dose of medicine he’d been prescribed in an attempt to make it last longer, and she nodded. And she thought about hearing her mom cry when she thought everyone else was asleep. Yeah, she was willing to do some excising if it would make things better for her family–save her brother’s life.

“I’m in.”

“Then take Excalibur, and remember: you and the land are one.”

Gwyndon stepped forward and wrapped her hands around the hilt, as a jolt of energy surged through her. Her back straightened. She’d do whatever it took. Hoping that Greyhound didn’t have a policy against taking medieval weapons on cross-country road trips, she watched as the women walked backward, vanishing beneath the water as silently as she’d appeared.

That bit of randomness is it from me today, be sure you check out the other bloggers’ stories.

Siobhan  *  Gwen  *  Kris

Top 10: Things I Believe to Be True

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Regardless of reality or science, these are just random things I believe to be true, And yes, I will defend them to my last breath. As always, there’s no order to these.

10.) Skynet is only slightly less terrifying than our current social and political climate.

9.) Long flowy hippie skirts are the world’s most comfortable clothes.

8.) Crocheting is a form of dark sorcery.

7.)  I have the best friends and family on the planet.

6.) Van Halen is the worst musical act of all time.

5.)  Math is tangible evidence of evil.

4.) Fuck is the most useful and versatile word in the English language.

3.)  Good lip balm is necessary for me to live a content and productive life.

2.) Spiders are Satan’s snowflakes. There are not individual species of spiders. Like snowflakes, each one is unique. They are individually handcrafted by Satan.

1.) I have the world’s best job, and I’m lucky as fuck to be able to do it.

So…what do you believe to be true? And be sure to check out the other bloggers’ lists.

Jess  *  Deelylah  *  Gwen  *  Kris

Monthly Goals Check-In: October 2017

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Man, I’ve been kicking ass this month. My goals were:

  • Finish the rewrite of Under Your Spell  (Ummmm…no. But I’ve made progress.)
  • Finish all of my scheduled blog posts  (Yep.)
  • Finish building the last website  (Nope.)
  • Complete the assigned audiobook preps  (Did 6. And I’ll finish the last by the 31st.) 
  • Sort bedding and purge my clothes. (Not yet, but I might still get to it by Monday.)
  • Finish the two very, very late Christmas presents. (Getting much closer!)
  • Start holiday shopping. (Yep.)
  • Send out review requests (Yep.)
  • Finish the coursework for the surprise class I took in September. (Yep.)
  • Complete scheduled client edits. (Finished all 4.)

And for the bonus round, I also created a new lesson for a coaching client, did a metric fuckton of market research, updated one of the websites I manage, read three books, and mapped out a holiday project with Jess,

So, for next month, my goals are:

  • Finish all of my scheduled blog posts.
  • Write and practice my presentation on POV for the November GRRWG meeting.
  • Finish the guest blog posts I agreed to.
  • Finish my part of the holiday project.
  • Finish the two very, very late Christmas presents.
  • Finish sewing at least four holiday gifts.
  • Continue the holiday shopping.
  • Complete scheduled audio preps.
  • Complete scheduled client edits.
  • Finish building the last client website.
  • Continue rewrites of re-release books.
  • Read three more books.
  • Sort the bedding and purge my clothes if I don’t finish that this month.

Okay, I think that’s everything for now. What are your goals for the month? Be sure to check out Jess‘ check-in, too!

 

My Writing Process Revisited: Has it Changed/Evolved?

Okay, so this is a topic we’ve touched on before, and unless you’re really new here, you already know that I am the Pantsiest Panster Who Ever Pantsed™.

Since my process hasn’t really changed, and in an attempt not to rehash previous posts, I thought I’d lay out my process with my latest release, Rewritten, Book 7 in the Bound series that I share with Jess Jarman.

Despite the fact that my non-writing workload has been nuts this year, not to mention the whole cover identity problem where we learned that I am, in fact, the literal worst, the book itself came together fairly easily, and in my usual Pantsiest Panster Who Ever Pantsed™ way.

As always, the first step was getting a line of dialogue in my head. Well, in this case, it was three lines of dialogue.

“I don’t need a minder. Didn’t ask for you. Don’t want you.”

And I had my usual thought: Who the hell says something like that? The immediate answer was, obviously, an asshole. Probably someone like this, but with a Scottish accent instead of an Irish one. So, you know, an asshole named Angus. A hot asshole named Angus.
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The next question is why is this guy such a dick? I realized pretty quickly that it was someone who was experiencing a lot of frustration and and guilt over the poor life choices that led him to whatever emotional hole he’s in.

Then I had to decide who he was saying it to? And why. Normally, it takes me a little longer to figure out a character’s backstory is. But I knew right away what Eliza’s past entailed and exactly what her secrets were and what she had to hide. But I was stuck on the why. Why she was stuck babysitting Angus?  What was his damage that he needed a keeper anyway?

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I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t comb through a ridiculous amount of Aidan Turner photos on Pinterest while trying to answer that question. But, when I saw this picture, I was like, “He’s the super hot George R. R. Martin of Sci-Fi–that’s why!”

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(Side note: If you’re my husband or children, and you hear me announce random stuff like this on the regular, you just roll your eyes and say things like: “I hope he writes faster than the actual one.” or “He’d better not sell a TV series before he’s done writing his damn books.” Or, if you’re my daughter, “So…how hot?” Which, I suppose, is proof that most writers don’t live in a vacuum. And inspiration is everywhere. Or something.) 

Once I knew that much about Angus, (thanks, Pinterest and fam) I knew why Eliza was there and what she was supposed to be doing and exactly how much he was going to hate it.

This is the part where I wish I could tell you that I plotted like a reasonable person. But I don’t. It’s not for lack of want or trying. It’s just that thinking all the way through a plot doesn’t work for me. It’s just not how my brain is wired.

But this was the point where I sat down and thought seriously about what specifically Angus and Eliza each wanted at this point in their lives, why they wanted it, and why they couldn’t have it. Good old GMC: goals, motivation, and conflict.

Usually, the dialogue that starts a story idea growing in the first place doesn’t end up working into the story until later in the book. For instance, the line that ended up being the impetus for In Bounds :

“Butterscotch chips can’t dance with all that skirt.”

didn’t end up showing up in the story until page 37. So I had to do a lot of working backward to figure out how the hell that conversation would even happen.

Angus’ dialogue was clearly the opening of this story which made it a little weird for me. I like working backward because it feels like I have a better sense of who the characters are when I start the actual story. But, I knew what their GMCs were, I knew their story would require shoving them both together whether they wanted it or not, so sci-fi cons and author events seemed perfect.

At this point, I think I had ideas for two or three scenes that occurred  later in the book: a scene where she’s pissed at him for invading her privacy, one where he finds out what her previous name was, and one where she has a pretty brutal panic attack. The trick, as usual, was getting there.

I knew the privacy invasion scene would come first, so again it was a case of working backward from there to the line, “I don’t need a minder.” and start writing. Then I sent chapters to my CPs for feedback as I wrote toward the next plot point that I was aware of. I was surprised by how the revelation of Eliza’s former name came out and more surprised by everything that happened afterward. The way I’d originally thought it would go was…not at all how it went. But, I’m pleased with how it turned out.

Writing really went fairly well until I got to the reason for Eliza’s panic attack. Without giving away too much, I was having trouble maneuvering the cause of her panic attack to the venue where it began. And that required multiple (probably whiny) phone calls to my series partner, Jess (who is all things patient, wise, and brilliant).

By this point, I had a few more vague scene-shaped ideas that I knew were coming up, so I continued writing toward those. But there were still tons of surprises for me along the way–like Angus’ friend Tansy, more about his brother (which forced me to go back and change some things earlier in the book), and more about how truly isolated Eliza had been.

There were more (also whiny) phone calls to Jess when the big black moment arrived because I was, again, having trouble getting the cause to the venue. And there was also the borrowing of Jess’ character, Kit (OMGYOUGUYSICAN’TWAITFORHISSTORY!) who was instrumental in the secondary plot resolution.

But that’s basically my process. Get a line of dialogue and some vague distant-y sort of plot points and write until I reach them while occasionally whining at Jess. I think this works for me for a couple of reasons. I’m not really a linear thinker–not with my own writing, anyway–editing is a completely different story. Also, I have Attention Deficit Disorder. No, it’s not a superpower or anything, it’s actually a pain in the ass in a lot of ways, but it’s a gift when it comes to making connections that I never would have seen if I was trying to plot a book prior to writing.

I’ve realized that whether I’m consciously thinking about it or not, I understand and can utilize the tenets of story structure. Even better, now that I worry far less about knowing how everything is supposed to go before I start writing, I allow the story to unfold in ways that surprise me every time. And even if I don’t consciously know what’s going to happen, my subconscious apparently does because as I get to the last third or so of any story, I realize that I’ve laid the groundwork for various events earlier in the book without even realizing it. I love it when I see those connections pop up and I figure out how to use them. Pretty sure that’s an ADD thing. But trusting the story to unfold in the way it’s meant to, and trusting myself to get it there, has been huge for me as a writer.

I know that probably sounds super crunchy granola, but that’s the process that works for me. Anyone else write like this? Be sure to check out Torrance and Kris‘ processes, too!

If you’d like to read Rewritten, that would be awesome! You can find it at these fine places.

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(excerpt)       Amazon  *  B&N  *  iBooks  *  Kobo

And if you’d like to read the previous posts on this topic, check out:

My Writing Process in 30ish Steps

How I Create My Characters AKA The Children’s Book Proposal that Tanked: If You Give a Bron a Line of Dialogue

Wordless Wednesday – Autumn Where I Live

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Autumn, in Michigan, is stunningly gorgeous. And it’s my favorite season.  Though, there are days that I’m not sure why, since every year, it actively attempts to murder me.  (All photos taken by me.)

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Local apple orchard. 

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Farm near the orchard. 

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Autumn road. 

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Reflections in the pond. 

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Faery gold on the water. 

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That weird autumn light. 

Autumn roses in my mom’s garden. 

Changing leaves. 

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Changing colors under an autumn sky. 

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Peering through the reeds at Merlin’s Place. 

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Patchwork sky. 

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Secret woods.

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Autumn moon. 

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Homemade split pea soup. 

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The autumn survival kit: nebulizer, albuterol, inhaler, allergy pills, airborne, and Gypsy Cold Care tea. Oh, and Kitsune looking very concerned. 

Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ photos of autumn where they live.

Jess * Gwen * Paige

 

Flash Fiction #68 – Call Me Crazy

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This month’s flash fiction song is one I’d never heard before this challenge. It’s called “Call Me Crazy” by Travis Collins. The video is here and the lyrics are here if you’d like to give a listen/read.

Content warning: some violence and allusions to abuse. 

The dirt was clay. She fucking hated digging into clay. It was wet and cold and almost slimy. It sucked at her shovel, stuck into the treads of her too-big, borrowed boots, and made it difficult to get any real power behind the tool, but she’d manage.

Despite the damp chill of the October evening, she was starting to break a bit of a sweat, but that’s what digging a three foot deep hole would do to a person. Dusk settled like an old musty blanket, muting the changing leaves, and dulling the sky. Soon, the only light would be the running lights on his truck.

He’d be pissed if he knew she was letting it run with the doors open so she could hear the music while she worked. Of course, it was so old, it didn’t even have a cassette deck. And it was stuck on that fucking country music station. But, it was better than the eerie near-silence of the rapidly approaching winter–nothing but small animals rustling through the dried grasses and the honking geese up and leaving this desolate place, flying to warmer climes. She’d always wished she could do the same. But, maybe now, she wouldn’t need to.

She straightened as she surveyed the hole. It was finally deep enough. A shiver snaked down her spine as the chorus of one of his favorite songs drifted to her from tinny-sounding speakers. An audio ghost haunting her from a lifetime past. She pushed through the chill. Maybe it was appropriate this song was playing tonight. Though, it was more of a eulogy than he deserved.

Planting the shovel in the mounded clay, she walked to the back of the truck and dropped the pickup’s gate. Thankfully, the tarp-wrapped body hadn’t moved much on the drive out here. Rolling it to the edge, she dragged the deadweight over her shoulder, and hoisted it in a fireman’s carry. Bastard was heavier than she would have thought, but she’d gotten him this far, she could move him a few more yards.

A muffled groan startled her, and she nearly dropped him, but she kept going until she could fling him into the hole. There was a sickening crack as he hit the bottom, then nothing but the tail end of his favorite song and her harsh breath. She filled in the hole then drove over it, repeatedly, for good measure before shifting the fallen tree to cover the signs of disturbed earth. The same one she’d moved to dig the hole in the first place.

Sure, someone might find him someday. If they cared enough to look. But they’d also find the evidence of everything he’d ever done to her–every photograph, every video tape–all sitting in the middle of his kitchen table. Along with his muddy boots on the mat by the door and his truck parked in the driveway.

And she’d be gone. Long gone where the ghosts of the past had been laid to rest.

Okay, that’s it for me this week. Be sure you check out the other stories by clicking on each blogger’s name. 

Jess * Siobhan * Gwen * Kris * Deelylah

Promptly Penned: Glass Balls

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Prompt: While cleaning the attic, he/she finds a box of glass balls with names on them. One drops and as it shatters, a person appears.

 

Fuck my life. 

Emily looked around at the mountains of boxes, trunks and bags in the attic. This was not how she’d envisioned her mid-term break. When she’d agreed to stay on campus to assist the chair of the anthropology department, she never imagined it would involve cleaning out what was apparently a hoarder’s paradise in the woman’s attic. Yet, here she was…not only cleaning a hoarder’s paradise, but organizing and cataloging it, too.

To be fair, she’d accomplished a lot in the last four days. She’d collected all the random piles of books laying around and boxed and labeled them by subject. She’d organized a collection of tribal masks and another of elaborate early 20th century hats, She was still adding to the pile of medieval-looking weapons she’d leaned against the wall in the far corner of the room, and all the loose papers were just getting tossed in a box. Someone else could deal with that nightmare. But there was actually a decent amount of floor space now.

Setting aside a stack of crumbling newspapers, she found an old hatbox. Lifting it to place it near the other headwear, she heard clinking inside. Setting the box on one of the many tables in the attic, she lifted the lid. Inside, were tinted glass balls in a variety of colors. As she peered closer, she realized there was lettering etched on each one.

The green one read: Bruce Banner. A rose-colored orb was inscribed with the name, Elizabeth Bennet. The red with Hannibal Lecter. And the purple with Willy Wonka.

What the actual hell was this?

She carefully moved aside the ones she’d read to see what inscribed on the others. Éponine Garrod encircled a rust-colored ball, and Sherlock Holmes, the blue. Bella Swan was written on a clear one and Diana Prince on the gold.

Emily pulled out the gray ball and snorted as she turned it over. Christian Grey.

The clanging sound of metal hitting wood startled her, and she dropped the orb, the glass shattering at her feet. Heart in her throat, she whirled toward the clanging noise. One of the swords had fallen from where she’d propped it against the wall.

She turned back to what was left of the orb in time to see gray fog swirling and coalescing into the figure of a man wearing what she guessed was a pricy suit with a gray tie.

“Miss Anastasia Steele, I presume?”

She took a step back. What the fuck was even happening here? “I’m sorry, what?”

“You are Miss Anastasia Steele, are you not?”

“The fuck I am.”

“Language, Miss Steele. I don’t tolerate such coarse behavior from my bed partners. Now, fetch some decent clothing. Borrow something from that dreadful roommate of yours if you must.”

Emily stared at him wondering if an excess amount of dust could produce visual and auditory hallucinations. It was the only explanation.

“I’m not Anastasia Steele.”

He stared at him. “You’re  a college student. You’re clumsy. Who else would you be?”

Staring at him, her mouth fell open. How was any of this even possible? Maybe that clanging sound was her falling and hitting her head. Maybe she was unconscious and her brain was short-circuiting with this bizarre scenario.

“Time is money, and you’re wasting both. I’m a very important man Miss Steele. I have a helicopter and everything.”

Emily burst out laughing. She couldn’t help it.

“We’ll be taking Charlie Tango to your doctor’s appointment. You need birth control.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you, douchebag.”

Out of nowhere, a crop materialized in his hand, and he started toward her. This could not be real. But his very real hand closed around her upper arm and yanked her toward him. She tried to lurch away from him, but he held fast.

“I’m going to enjoy punishing you,” he murmured in her ear as he tried to drag her toward the door.

She look around for anything to use as a weapon. She was too far away from any of the actual weapons she’d put in the corner. Her eyes fell on the glass balls. She grabbed hold of the gold on and smashed it on the floor, hoping for the best. A swirling gold fog took the form of Diana Prince–Wonder Woman–shield and sword in hand.

Slowly she lifted her head, and her dark eyes fell on Emily then Christian. “You.” She leveled her blade at him. “Release her.”

“I will not. She signed a contract.”

“No I didn’t!”

Diana moved closer until the metal point rested on his neck. “I said, release her.”

Christian let go of Emily’s arm, and she scrambled away from him as Diana stepped behind him, keeping the edge of her blade across his neck.

“Are you all right?” Diana asked?

Emily nodded. “Thanks.” She gestured toward Grey. “Now what?”

Diana smiled. “Now, I take him somewhere he can learn respect.” In a swirl of gold and gray mist, they were gone.

And Emily immediately began looking for bubble wrap.

That’s it for me this week. Be sure to check and see what the other blogger’s did with the prompt.

Jess * Kris * Gwen

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