Friday, November 10, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017: Best Day Never, Part 3

Yes, I made a single book cover and I'm putting it everywhere until we're all sick of it.

Novel Blurb:

Reanne Hailey is having the best day of her life. On a good hair day, in her favorite outfit, with a hot cup of free coffee, she lost the last pound in those final 10 pounds over a high protein breakfast, emptied her email inbox, got a promotion, and the highlight of the day - her longtime boyfriend proposed with the ring she's dreamed about for 5 years. As she's falling asleep after a fantastic bout of sex, she can't help thinking it was the best day ever. And when she wakes up the next day and the exact same thing happens again, she thinks it's a dream come true. On the third day, she's a little confused. After a week of living the same day over and over again, her best day ever is a never-ending nightmare.

Warning regarding what you're about to read:

My NaNoWriMo posts are literally cut and pasted from whatever document or program I'm working from. They include typos, forgotten words, wrong words, notes to myself, and inconsistent details. The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to only write words in a vague novel form and leave editing and criticism for another time. These posts are by no means presented as a complete, finished, or even good product. I post them in order to share my writing process with writers who want to know they aren't alone and readers who don't mind seeing the man behind the curtain. Please keep that in mind as you read along.

Read Part 1 or Part 2.

Best Day Never, Part 3
By Stephanie Thompson,  1485 words

3 On her way back to her desk, she wondered how she would avoid telling Ry but his cube was empty when she returned. It was too early for lunch though, he was probably off gossiping somewhere and already knew anyway because he always knew everything.

First she texted Alex but after five minutes of nonreply, she texted her family the good news. Alex was a freelance (either a writer or artist) and often spent long parts of the day with his phone turned off to minimize distractions while he worked. She wasn’t surprised by his answer, only a little deflated because she wanted to celebrate the good news right now and not wait for dinner that night, or the soonest he turned his phone back on.

Her mom texted a thumbs up emjoi, and her dad sent a way to go kiddo. Her sister sent an exploding confetti gif, and her brother sent you da mvp bitmoji.

She smiled to herself and put her headphones back on, choosing a perfectly celebraotory playlist, and went back to work.

Around lunch time Ry appeared at her cube opening. “Great news,” he said. “I’m taking you to lunch.”

“Really?” she said. “What’s the occasion?”

“Don’t play coy with me, I know a celebration is in order. Let’s just call this a pre-official congrats party and head over to Molly’s for beer and chili fries.”

“Oh, you should’ve opened with Molly’s, let’s go.”

She grabbed her coat and scarf and they went. On the way the chit-chatted about weather and recent news but at Molly’s, they really got into.

“So, any juicy plans for the weekend?” he asked.

“Well, you know Alex and I have our anniversary dinner tonight at (a better restaurant name than the one I made up earlier) and I think that’s it. Just boring weekend stuff really. Well and going over the new contract. . . . so boring work stuff too, I guess.”

“Well, contract reading may not be that exciting but the new position is. Congrats cubie!”

They clinked beer mugs together drank. Between the beers, fries, breakfast muffin, and whatever she ordered and drank at (wherever) she was probably going to put that pound right back on but she didn’t care. She’d was having a hell of a day and Molly’s was like Adelpho’s in that it was another place she stopped going to, no matter how much she enjoyed it’s classic rock music, exrensive beer selection and legendary chili cheese fries, in order to save some extra cash and calories. But all her favoorite bartenders were still behind the bar, even some of the regular lunch crowd was the same though it had been at least a year since she’d been there.

“Damn, I’ve missed this place,” she said, mouth full a cheesey french fry.

“Me too. Though I’ve got to say, I have lost a little love in my handles since we’ve stopped coming for lunch like three times a week. We have got to do something really big to celebrate your promotion.”

“Well, it’s not really official for at least another month. I have to shadow Lily until she actually leaves.”

“Whatever, you can do that job with your eyes close. You’re basically already doing her job for her. Congrats on getting promoted to the job you already have.”

They laughed and toasted again.

“But back to you and Alex, when is that gonna evolve? You know, go from you and Alex to . . . Mr and Mrs. Alex?”

She rolled her eyes a little. Friends and family had been asking that for years now and she always had the same answer. “When we’re ready. Trust me, you won’t miss it.”

“I mean is he just afraid to commit or what?”

“Actually it was my idea to wait and save some money for a nice wedding, a fun honeymoon, a starter home or something. I wanted be more established in my career, in our relationship.”

“But you do want to marry him right? I mean it’s been what? Forever right? HAsn’t the moss grown over yet?”

She laughed. “Yeah, I mean we’ve been together for a minute.” There was some grey area about how long they’d been dating. Sometimes they said 12 years, back to when they first met, even though they weren’t exactly dating back then and weren’t entirely exclusive. Sometime after college they were more serious, more exclusive, which would make it 10 years together. But it’d only been about seven years, just before they moved in together where they discussed getting married, when they actually talked about exclusivity and a future together but still no plan was put into place, which seemed irksome to everyone around them.

Now, most of their friends from college were married with kids. Most of them wer on their second or third company and several promotions in. Most of them owned homes and lawns and dogs cats and fish. She and Alex were still only she and Alex. MOst people thought they’d pretty much given up but she still got warm feelings when she pictured their wedding, when she looked at engagement rings. They were still on track as far as she could tell, even if they were slow.

“Well, as long as you’re still happy and not bored of each other. Here’s to the long term.”

They toasted again and ordered another round, though they’d usually strictly stick to one beer or less on the lunches. “It a special occasion,” Ry said.

After lunch, a company wide memo (or email?) was sent out listing the various promotions. Ree took a picture of her company profile in the list and sent it to Alex, who still hadn’t responded to her first text, with the message “now I’ll really be bringin home that bacon”

MOst of the afternoon passed with people stopping by with congratulations but never actually disturbing her work so she was able to get enough done to leave at four instead of fiver thirty. She texted Alex again, though she still hadn’t heard from to let him she would be home early. IT wasn’t unusual for this, especially if he renting an office.

(Okay, this is the part where I have to talk to myself about a bunch of stuff that should be in an earlier section but it’s actuall really difficult to go back in a document and maybe I might consider moving over to Scrivener already. However, here’s the thing, Alex is a freelance writer, probably. There is some possiblity that he’s an adjunt professor somewhere but I don’t really like that idea. I prefer freelance writer who doesn’t produce much. In my notes it says he’s bored with his lfe but really that comes up later. Anyway, being a writer he some times rents temporary office to have a change of scenery or if he’s working on something particularly hard. He’s also occasionally rent hotel rooms on his own for writing weekends. If he has rented an office today, she has to know though. It has to come up in the morning scene because there’s no way there isn’t already a plan to either leave from their apartment together or just meet at the restaurant. Even if this plan changes. So first off, go back and ad that. Also go back to the company aspect and change her position in the business, probably the business name, and also what she her thoughts and fears about the job. There also needs to be more about her feelings for Ry and her friends in general, especially about how everyone is married and has kids. The beginning just needs a lot more filling out you dolt, it’s very step by step actions but not much emotion from Ree or the people around her. But the details are also very wrong. Anyway, now it’s time to start writing like I know all this other stuff even though all this other stuff isn’t there right now.)

Whenever he was in an office space it wasn’t unusual not to hear from him all day, it was even worse when went to hotels to write and he wouldn’t hear from him for an entire weekend, but it was really only irksome now because she couldn’t wait to share the news right away even if it would only be an hour or so before she saw him back home.

The walk home was just as pleasant as the walk in. The weather held out and because she left earier than usual the side walks pedestrian traffic free again. She was still listening to her celebratory playlist and she couldn’t contain the dance of hips any longer. Normally she didn’t want to draw attention on the streets and get uninvited cat calls and dudes asking for her number but she was too happy to walk without an extra boogie in her step and luckily she mad it home unharrased.

Than you so much for reading!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017: Best Day Never, Part 2

Yes, I made a single book cover and I'm putting it everywhere until we're all sick of it.

Novel Blurb:

Reanne Hailey is having the best day of her life. On a good hair day, in her favorite outfit, with a hot cup of free coffee, she lost the last pound in those final 10 pounds over a high protein breakfast, emptied her email inbox, got a promotion, and the highlight of the day - her longtime boyfriend proposed with the ring she's dreamed about for 5 years. As she's falling asleep after a fantastic bout of sex, she can't help thinking it was the best day ever. And when she wakes up the next day and the exact same thing happens again, she thinks it's a dream come true. On the third day, she's a little confused. After a week of living the same day over and over again, her best day ever is a never-ending nightmare.

Warning regarding what you're about to read:

My NaNoWriMo posts are literally cut and pasted from whatever document or program I'm working from. They include typos, forgotten words, wrong words, notes to myself, and inconsistent details. The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to only write words in a vague novel form and leave editing and criticism for another time. These posts are by no means presented as a complete, finished, or even good product. I post them in order to share my writing process with writers who want to know they aren't alone and readers who don't mind seeing the man behind the curtain. Please keep that in mind as you read along.

Haven't read Part 1? Click here.

Best Day Never, Part 2
By Stephanie Thompson, 1745 words

Before getting back to her desk she made a pit stop by the breakroom to grab her yogurt from the communal fridge. There weren’t a lot of people here either. She checked her watched she was still about 10 minutes earlier than she would be normally. There werw only a few people already at their cubes as she navigated past to her own.

At least her cubicle got a bit of sunshine by the window and given the length of time she’d been there, hers had the most lived in look too. She had three potted plants and small desktop zen garden with a water feature near the window. She had birthday cards still hanging around from her birthday a few weeks earlier. There were pictures of her and Alex on Vacation last summer, a picutre of the last time her college group of friends all went out together, Family pictures to include her parents her sister and her children, and her brother and his wife, plus Alex’s sister and parents. And finally a single picture of her alone in Trafalgar square taken during her gap year when she lived and traveled in Europe.

She had other little knick-knacks souvenirs, gifts, and whatnot across her desk. Each one attached to a person and memory that made her happy. To top it all off she had a small bevarage warmer that she actually used melt a small yankee candle so that her little corner, despite its inadequacies was a quite nice little corner of the world. Setting out her yogurt, adding a squirt of honey,beside her muffin and still hot coffee, it was almost like being home.

She played her music quietly, without headphones, thoroughly enjoyed her lavish breakfast, and imagined what life was like in the office across the street. SLowly the other Sapphire employees came in and the noise in the office picked up. However “Hello my name is Taylor” never came in.

She asked her cube neighbor Ryan if he knew what was up.

“I think he got food poisoning or something. THat’s what Jasmine said she hear from Peter who is near the ad manager.”

He always knew the latest gossip.

“Looks like we’ll have a quiet Friday, Ry.”

“Shaping up to be a terrific day, Ree. You look fantastic today by the way. Is that a new hair cut?”

“Thank you,” she said smiling. “ Nope nothing new, just a great hair day.”

“Double jackpot for you then,” he said. “Let’s get to work and see if we can’t get it done extra early today.”

She was about to do just that but she paused and asked one more thing. Something she’d given up asking for weeks. “Hey, you haven’t heard anything about that VP promotion, have you?”

“Rumor has it they will be announcing soon. Mitchell, outside of HR said they were pullling the paperwork and contracts together, he just couldn’t see who’s name was on it.”

“You still got your toes crossed for me?”

“You know it.”

“Let’s do finger today too, just in case.”

“YOu got it, just don’t forget me when you’re on top.”

“Never. Cubers for life.”

Then it was time to start the work of the day. Work had a sepearte punk playlist then what she listened to in the shower. One with more drums and rawer vocals that pushed her hard and furious through coordinating (whatever she does) and (however she does it). She usually worked in 20 minute burst then did some seated stretches, a quick jog up and down the stairs, or pushed sand around in her zen arden. But on this perfect morning she only got through three 20 minute segments before her phone.

On second that, that was pretty much a record. Normally the phone rang the second her 8:30 am work shift began. The fact that she’d made it to nearly 10 without one was a minor miracle and made for a pretty preductive morning.

“This is Ree,” She said.

“Hi Ree, It’s Michael. Can you meet in the Wilson room in ten minute?”

“Absolutely,” she said with a smile on her face and fear in her heart. The smile made her sound friendly on the phone, which was a trick she used when she didn’t know exactly how to feel.

She stood up and leaned over the cube wall, tapping Ry’s monitor get his attention.

“Michael wants to see me in the wilson room. Is that good or bad?”

“I’ve been messaging with Elle, she’s says they’ve been meeting people all morning in their. No one’s been in there more than 10 minutes.”

“Shit, that doesn’t sound good.”

“Do you want me to ask for more deets?”

“No I have to go up soon, I should probably freshen up before I have my dreams crushed.”

“Let me know how it goes.”

“You’ll be the first.”

She hurredly chewed a piece of gum to obliterate any coffee breathe, reapplied lipstick, cleaned up the slightly smudged eyeliner under her left eye, then got rid of the gum. The Wilson room was on the 37 floor. One half meeting rooms and one half HR. Elle, the receptionist for the floor, probably had the easiest job in the world as the signs told you exactly where to go and which conference rooms were reserved and by who. She mostly made sure no meeting was interrupted or that no one wondered into HR who wasn’t suppose to, and occasionally answer the phone when the other receptionist were overloaded. Not that Sapphire Maximus had a ton of people blowing up their phone lines for (whatever it was they do which I’ve already forgotten if I even knew in the first place).

“They are just finishing up with the last candidate. Have a seat, Reanne, Frank will be out shortly.”

She sat in one of the two chairs deirectly in front of the elevators and tried to guess which top 40 hit their office muzak artists were doing a horrible job of imitating on pianos and saxophones. Thankfully the smooth jazz rendition of (something) was interrupited shortly thereafter by Frank seeing out Mercy.

“Thank you for your time, Mercy,” he said. She smiled politely but you could tell she wasn’t pleased with the news.

Ree swallowed. It didn’t look good for her either. The only thing she had over Mercy was years at the company and she was pretty sure this was an old fashioned way of thinking about things and not the way modern trendy companies like Sapphire valued their employees.

“Come on back, Reanne,” Frank said when the elevator doors closed.

“How’s you’re Friday going, Frank?”

“CAn’t complain, can’t complain. You?”

“Same, trying to wrap up a few things before the day ends.” (This literally might be the dumbest thing she could possibly say. This chick is a wet rag I feel like. I mean I know she won’t be forever but there has to be something here for the reader to latch onto and enjoy. Instead she kind of boring as fuck.)

In the Wilson room was Michael George , Sapphire’s VP, Lily Vent, her immediate superior and the VP she was hoping to replace, Donna Hansen, head of HR, and Frank, her HR assistant.

She sat in front of them and tried not to think about how it felt a lot like that one time she got called to the principal’s office and her parent’s were there with him and she was in deep trouble.

“Good morning, everyone,” she said with the biggest smile her mouth was capable of and a cheer she use to reserve for the phone back when she answered phones in college.

“G’Morning Reanne, thanks for joining us, hopefully this will go quickly so you can get bcak to your day,” said Micahel.

Her heart sank, that didn’t sound the way you’d give someone a promotion.

“As you know, we’ve been searching for just the right candidate to fill Lily’s position when she leaves in a month. We’ve done a number of interviews and lily really went to bat for you.”

Now her heart felt like it was made of lead. Lily strongly recommended her but they were obviously going in anaother direction, otherwise everyone would be more happy in this meeting.

“But it was clear to all of us that you were head and shoulders above the field. Lily’s recommendation only sealed the deal. Contragulations, Reanne, you are the next VP of (something graphic and design-y I think I’ve got it narrowed down to that, no matter what the actual company does, she’s in graphics and design and now VP of the artistic department or something like that).”

Everything clapped. She covered a smile that actually did get bigger with her hand to stop from screaming in joy.

“Oh my goodness, oh my goodness.”

“Of course you’d get the position, we wouldn’t have anyone else,” said Lily.

“Congratulations,” said Micahel.

“Oh my--” she stopped herself from saying it a third time. “Thank you so much. I’m so happy to be working for Sapphire and advancing my career here.” (By the way, this is also boring and awful, Reanne is kind of the a robot)

“So, starting next week, you’ll be working with Lily to learn the ins and outs of the position fully, so the swithc will be as painless as possible. In the meantime, you’ll be receiving your new employment contract, salary, and benefit package for your perusal, which we will need signed and returned after two weeks of working with Lily, to be sure you want the job and it’s a 100% fit.”

Ree could barly take in all that the HR woman was saying (yes I’ve already forgotten her name).

“We will make the announcement this afternoon about the upcoming changes, now that all the other candidates have been informed. Please, keep the news under your hat until then,” she finished.

“Absolutely no problem. Again, thank you so much for this oppurtunity and great privilege and responsiblity.” (She sounds like a motherfucking robot still. Just write her normal. Be NORMAL for Fucks Sake)

There was a round of handshakes and Frank escorted her back to elevator area. “Thank You for your time Reanne.”

Luckily, he spoke to Elle so Ree didn’t have to chitchat about the meeting. She simply got on the elevator, which was again empty and did a very large happy dance for the short ride down two floors.

Than you so much for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017: Best Day Never, Part 1

That's right folks, it's that time of year again! Technically, it's been that time of year for a week, and I've posted plenty about it on Instagram, but this is my first NaNoWriMo blog post.

Originally, I planned on doing a whole series, similar to last year, where I spend a week giving tips and talking about the event before I start posting my super rough NaNoWriMo draft. However, as November 1st got closer and closer, I really felt like I couldn't top last year. I couldn't think of any new tips or revolutionary thoughts or freaking anything. Probably a better blogger would have reposted those articles for new readers but I'm not a great blogger, lol. I should probably work on that.

Anyway, despite the lack of lead up or major announcement, I still plan on doing my daily rough draft posts beginning today. If you do follow me on Instagram or we're buddies on then you know that I'm tragically far behind. I don't think it's the most word deficit I've had but it's getting there. I don't know why I'm struggling with getting started but at the same time, when I look back at previous tracking charts, I guess I always have trouble in the first two weeks.

Top left: 2017; Top right: 2016; Bottom left: 2015; Bottom right: 2012
Then I sort of smash out words in the last week. I don't want to do the same thing this year, but I do want to finish for the third year in a row, so I'm hoping I can excel this week and be on track for the rest of the month.

But you're probably not here for all this rambling. You probably just want the first 1,667 words of my 2017 NaNoWriMo project, Best Day Never.

First, have a cover!

Next, have a blurb:

Reanne Hailey is having the best day of her life. On a good hair day, in her favorite outfit, with a hot cup of free coffee, she lost the last pound in those final 10 pounds over a high protein breakfast, emptied her email inbox, got a promotion, and the highlight of the day - her longtime boyfriend proposed with the ring she's dreamed about for 5 years. As she's falling asleep after a fantastic bout of sex, she can't help thinking it was the best day ever. And when she wakes up the next day and the exact same thing happens again, she thinks it's a dream come true. On the third day, she's a little confused. After a week of living the same day over and over again, her best day ever is a never-ending nightmare.

Also, here's a warning:

My NaNoWriMo posts are literally cut and pasted from whatever document or program I'm working from. They include typos, forgotten words, wrong words, notes to myself, and inconsistent details. The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to only write words in a vague novel form and leave editing and criticism for another time. These posts are by no means presented as a complete, finished, or even good product. I post them in order to share my writing process with writers who want to know they aren't alone and readers who don't mind seeing the man behind the curtain. Please keep that in mind as you read along.

Now, finally, I give you Best Day Never, Part 1!

Best Day Never, Part 1
By Stephanie Thompson, 1,668 words


Ree woke in the morning, before her alarm, feeling content and well-rested. She couldn’t remember her dreams but assumed they were good as she was filled with distinct pleasantness and positivity. Today would be a good day.

She turned off her alarm so the jarring chorus of Evanescence's ‘Bring Me to Life’ didn’t disturb the peaceful morning vibes. The hum and steam from Alex’s shower made her smile. He never needed an alarm to get up on time and he was ready to start each day. She lingered in bed, hesitant to leave its cozy, warmth, and face the morning. She eased her way into it by checking emails and catching up with her overseas friends’ morning social media activity.

Surprisingly her email light accounts were light reading, no spam to delete, a useful coupon to her favorite breakfast spot, email updates from friends she’d been missing, and only one work email, which canceled a redundant meeting for that afternoon leaving her Friday afternoon completely clear. Catching up on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook was smooth too with friends near and far charing recent bouts of good luck, happy news, or agreeable pics of tea, biscuits, and the like. She sent hearts, stars, and likes to each one and couldn’t help smiling by the end. Today felt like a great day.

When Alex got out of the shower, he kissed her on the cheek. She relished breathing in the minty aroma of his bodywash. His wet hair brushed against her cheek.

“Mornin’ beautiful,” he said.

“Morning, sex cake,” She smiled.

He’d done the same thing each morning for the past five years, since they first moved in together. And every morning after they spent the night together while they were dating before that. His hair had gotten longer over the years and while hers had gotten shorter.

“You’re up early.” She finally pushed the blankets off her and went through the motions of getting ready for her own shower. “

I might get home early too.”

“Is that right?” he said mildly interested as picked his clothes from the closet.

“My dumb afternoon meeting was cancelled. I might cut out before five, spend a little extra time getting dressed up for tonight.”

“You could meet me at Moul’s the just the way you are nad you’d be perfect for me.”

Her nightgown was a puddle of satin near her feet, she’d just stepped out of it on her way to the brathroom.

“Don’t most Michilin star restaurants have a no nudity policy,” she laughed.

“What idiots,” he said, laughing too. “They don’t know what they’re missing.”

She approached him at the closet, carrassed his back, still moist from the shower, she stood on her tiptoes, breathed in his scent again.

“You say the sweetest things,” she whispered in his ear before she kissed his lobe, nibbled on his neck. She moved her hands across his waist, down his hips, beneath his towel.

“You can’t get home early if you’re late for work,” he said, breathless.

She groaned. She wanted to rip off his towel, pull him into bed, and stay there for the rest of the day entwined together.

“Party pooper,” she said before heading to the bathroom after one last kiss.

First she slipped off her panties and her Fitbit, then stepped on the scale. She wiggled her hips in a silent happy dance as it let her know she’d lost the final stubborn pound of the total ten pounds she’d slowly gained since turning thrity a few years ago. She did more dancing in the shower as she turned up the volume on her pop-punk wake up playlist and soaped up.

When she was out of the shower, she started to work on her hair what usually took 3 different creams, 2 different heating elemnts, and sometmes even a bobby pin to control the uneven waves. However, today it took very little, only one cream and a blow drier, cutting her prep time in half, and resulting in the volumous, straight, and shiny mane she usually struggled to obtain. She gave the credit for the amazing hair day she was about to have to the new shampoo and conditioner she’d switched to a few weeks ago and prayed it would last to the end of date night.

Back in the bedroom, Alex had made the bed and put her nightgown in the hamper because he was the domestic one. He was making coffee in the kitchen, it’s bitter fragrance wafted to her as she finished getting ready.

“You having breakfast, babe?”

“Actually, I have a little extra time, I think I’m going to pick something up on the way to work. I have a coupon for Adelpho’s.”


 She finished zipping up her tan high heeled booties and transfered her wallet, keys, and cell phone into today’s purse, and a black and grey ecosuede cross body with an embroidered oreintal design that matched her necklace. She double checked the overall ffect in the full length mirror. The slim cut black trousers, the plain boat neck white tee, and the navy velour well cut jacket said ultra cool modern vp of (lets ssay bs) who totally deserves this promotion and not a put upon project manager who’s been in the position longer than anyone in the company and starting to thnk it’s personal, which was good because she was dressing for the job she wanted and not the job she had.

Alex was drinking his coffee over ham and eggs while reading The Times on his tablet. She kissed him on the cheek.

“See you later, babe,” she said.

“Happy Aniversary, sweetheart,” he said.

She looked back at him from the door. He was smiling but looking at his tablet. She smiled. “I love you, Alejandro Rivera.”


Despite it being late October, the weather outside was perfectly plesant. Just the right amount of sunshine mixed with a cool wind. The idylic colors of fall leaves were sprinkled on the ground. It was a nice repreive from the typically frigid rain of autumn in New York.

Everyone she passed on the street was smiling and pcasually friendly. It wasn’t over crowded, for a change she didn’t have to fight her way for passage on the side walk. She enjoyed the five block walk to Adelpho’s.

The small cafe had excellent pastires and delicious dark roast coffee brewed directly into the to-go cups, preserving the crema. In the last year, she had visited less than she would like in a combined effort to save money and keep the pounds off. But she still got to venture in a couple times a month for coffee and their gluten free protein cobble muffin every other month. The coupon and losing the last pound gave her the perfect excuse to indulge in both today.

There was no line in Adelpho’s and her one of her favorite singers was playing over their pandora radio station. And Stella, one of the friendliest baristas was working behind the counter.

“Hey you, nice to see you again. You’ll looking particularly gorgeous today.”

“Thanks, Stella. It’s my boyfriend’s and my anniversary today, we have an extra special date planned for tonight.”

“Oh really? Where you going?”

“Moul’s, that new steakhouse restuarnt on (some street). Suppose to be amazing, had to make the reservations like six months out.”

“Sounds like fun. What can I get you?”

She ordered her regular large coffee with two shots of espresso, coconut milk, and 3 splendas and the protein muffin made of a blend of almond and coconut flour, well-spiced with cinnamon, bursting with shredded carrots, apple chunks, and three kinds of nuts, that would go with her usual greek yogurt she kept at work.

“Also, I have a coupon.”

“Awesome, no problem.”

Stella scanned the barcode on her phone, rang her up and a few minutes later Ree was walking the final three blocks to her job at Sapphire Maximus. It sounded like a porn company but was actually an elite personal shopper service. Ree was a marketing project manager and managing several digital marketing compaigns. The VP of marketing was leaving soon, the third she’d worked since joining the company eight years ago, fresh out of college. She was up for the promotion. So were a number of her collegues, none of whom had been with the company as long, but they were all slightly younger and even fresher out of college, a boon in the digital marketing world. She held onto hope that her experience would boost her promotion worthy profile. That hope got a little harder to hold onto when they started interviewing outside prospects as well but she still ahd a few shards of it left.

The express elevator came an instant after she pressed the button and no one came rushing in asking her to hold it. Riding the express alone was secret pleasure of hers. She got hum songs dance a little more or lean casually against the wall and sip her coffee in silence. Catching an empty express elevator was like getting a tiny sancturay for a short period of time.

Sapphire’s offices were on the 35th floor. Her cubicle was in a back corner with a view looking across at another skyscraper and a mirror cubicle on the other side of the street. Her interior view was that of another cube of a coworker her made ad sales calls. She spent most of the day cacooned in noise cancelling headphones to avoid hearing the repeated phone message “Good afternoon this is Taylor from Sapphire Maximus and blah blah blah”.

The VP’s office was on the 36th floor. In a corner that overlooked (something nice) and opened on to a waiting area with a shared floored receptionist. The office was large enough for an impresssive sized desk, chairs facing the desk and a small area for client presentations. It was the office where’d she’d had her job interview and she’d wanted it ever since.

Thank you so much for reading Part 1. Be sure to check back tomorrow, and every day for the next 30 days or so, for the rest of the story!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

All Apologies

I'm sorry to anyone here to read about the music in my life. I was excited about this topic. Like I said last week, I've wanted to write about it for a long time. I've half-written several of the posts and others are a full rough draft, they only need a spit and shine. However, the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas on Monday has my heart and soul in a place that just can't even.

It sounds flippant but I don't mean it that way. It's 100 percent accurate. I'm out of words.

Except why. Why can't we find a solution to this type of mass violence? What's the root of the problem? If we want to say it's not guns or easy access to guns, then what is it? I'm open to ideas because I have none.

Our hearts and prayers. Are we not praying hard enough? Right enough? To correct god enough? What god would allow this to happen? For what purpose or reason? I'm open to answers because I have none.

I know we cannot stop all violence in the world. In our country. In our state. In our city. In any population, there will be outliers, no matter how 'right' we do everything or try to do everything. But there has to be some tipping point when we've gone from not this, to this. And there has to be a way back or forward that can reduce the amount of mass murder or attempts at mass murder that America encounters on what feels like a daily basis. I'm open to solutions because I have none.

Or maybe there's not. Maybe this is just America now and the future is only more and worsening of this and this helpless, frustrated, enraged, hurt, horrified, sad, sad, sad, sad feeling. I'm open to hope because I have very little left.

Friday, September 29, 2017

First Draft Friday: Consumption Divine, Chapter 5 + 6

First Draft Friday is a more or less regular series where I share my parts of my first draft, usually whatever I am working on at the time. General writing advice tells us to keep our first drafts for ourselves, they are always horrible. I want to share my first draft and so I do. Maybe it can inspire other writers who think their drafts are too horrible to ever see the light of day but mostly I think it keeps me writing.

 Consumption Divine is the story I've been writing since the very beginning. Before that I was thinking about it. More than 25 years. I've written so many first draft versions, it's ridiculous. Currently, there are over 100,000 words written in this project. None of it is cohesive, complete, or very much usable. A lot of it is repetitive. I've given up on it many times but I literally feel haunted by it. I can't stop trying to write it but I also can't seem to write it right. I'm trying again. I'm trying for the last time. If I can't write it now, I have to give up. I can't keep writing something if it is impossible. So, this is the last first draft of Consumption Divine.

Read past posts: Chapter One. Chapter Two. Chapter Three. Chapter Four.

Consumption Divine
first draft, incomplete, 2,924 words
By Stephanie Thompson

Chapter Five

She slept. Thanks to the alcohol she couldn’t wake up from her dreams. She followed them through to the end and woke in the morning feeling sick.

Not hungover sick. Anxiety sick. A sort of dizzy wave mixed with a surreal disconnection. When she stood up and looked at her feet, they didn’t look like they belonged to her and the ground wouldn’t stay still. When she made it to the bathroom and looked in the mirror the face of some other woman looked back at her.

The woman looked remarkably like she once did. Bedraggled nape length hair and questionable bangs, sleepy gold and green eyes, full lips, and smooth toasted skin. The woman looked good which was why she didn’t think they were one in the same. The woman looked no older than 30 tops, far off from the 100 years and more Chrys was (she stopped counting in those catacombs) and much less than the tired millennia she felt. She couldn’t believe she still looked the same.

She drank cold water from the bathroom faucet and submerged her face in the stream. She ran her wet fingers through her hair and sobbed. She wasn’t expecting that. The strangled short cry, the trickle of tears took her by surprise. She turned off the faucet and leaned on walls to make it back to bed, deliberately avoiding the mirror.

She laid in bed and stared at a wall. The walls of her bedroom, in her whole home were blank. There were no loved ones in her life, no memories she wanted to keep, no places she wanted to revisit in pictures. The white blank walls brightly reflected sunlight, the opposite of the walls where the Council would put her again for failing. She stared at the walls like some answer, some solution would materialize there. But nothing came because her mind was numb and walls are dumb.

 She tried to visualize data on them like they were the digital ones at HQ yet instead of intelligence and maps she saw the images from her dreams. Heard the growl of the wolves ripping away her limbs, gnawing at her, each bite like a lash in her flesh. She saw the lake of clotted blood and the dismembered body parts pulling her beneath it’s fetid surface. Tasted the putrid mix choke her. And she saw Jack.

Her sword slid from his chest. He steadied himself on a stone column. Blood poured out of him. Too much blood. She felt that hand around her throat, the powerful hand that chokes her before she can say I’m sorry. Before she can I say I love you. The strong hand of her true target. She heard that familiar voice twisted with hate.

“Now he knows who are you are.” Will says. “Now he knows what it is to be loved by you.”

Then the sword piercing her heart.

Another sob threatened to break free. And she’d had enough. Enough of being haunted. Enough of crying. Enough of chasing. Enough of running. She got up from the bed. She went to the garage, grabbed a stack of empty file boxes, and went into her living room office. She started with the oldest portfolios and began packing.

It took the rest of weekend to bundle her past, William’s past. She didn't sleep. She moved boxes from the garage to the living room and back to the garage. Then she cleaned. Not that anything needed cleaning but she scrubbed anyway.

She poured the full reserve of the council's synth-blood «get a better name» down the drain, then washed the sink again.

Then she laid out her weapons. She didn't have many. She shouldn't have any. The council would only let her have a dull pair of scissors. She managed to get and hide two hunting knives in the beginning though, when she refused to be defenseless.

She also had lighter fluid from who knows when and where and a hammer. She didn’t know what kind of good lighter fluid would do without a lighter or match but it made her feel better having it on the table. A hammer is always a good idea, so it was on the table too. No matter the plan. Which she didn’t exactly have.

Then again her plans had led her to where she was today, looking at a dining table topped with instruments of destruction, so maybe no plan was the best plan. She put the armory in a bank box with some other items the didn’t fit in the with papers and books in the other boxes. She could at least get them in the building that way.

Chapter Six 

Monday afternoon her heart pounded. She’d smuggled her tools into the office in the box she’d called evidence. One of the hunting knives was tucked in the back of her waistband, beneath her shirt. The other she slid in the upright of her right boot. Both were unsheathed and their sharp edges threatened to slice her skin before she was ready. She risked the injury.

And she waited. She waited for the meeting to start. She waited for her doom. Because she wasn’t going to do anything drastic until she knew for sure. She had to be certain that there was no other choice. She already had too many regrets to count, she didn’t want to add another one unnecessarily.

The time of the meeting never seemed to come but like all things inevitable it did.

The set up was the same, Simmons and West sat at the main table, Chrystal off to the side. Gareth was on the wall screen and shared it this time with Petran. The fact that this was the first time the High Councilman had joined any meeting in visual form cemented her fate in her mind.

“Good afternoon, gentlemen. Ms. Voss. We have to say, given the reports. We cannot see there is much more to be gained here,” Gareth was straight to the point.

“I agree sir. Despite the aggressive tactics of the last month, there’s been no sign of the target or new intel. I doubt the validity of the task force approach at this point,” Simmons said. “I suggest a more targeted and discreet tactic. A one on one deep cover assignment for new operatives.”

“I’m sorry I have to completely disagree.” West chimed in. “We’ve conclusively proven Lapointe is not in Europe. If we continue the intense grid search on other continents, we are sure to smoke him out.”

“Mr. West, the EU cannot maintain the level of security required to make your suggested grid search possible. The French especially are unhappy, it will be a short amount of time before they start denying requests of cooperation. In which case the Coexistence Ms. Voss and Mr. Lapointe set out to destroy may very well disintegrate as they wished it.” Petran leaned forward, his face filling his half of the screen. “I have to say, it was very clever plan, Ms. Voss. Much more clever than I would have credited to you. Or was Lapointe the tactician and you merely the weapon?” The bastard actually smiled.

“Sir, specialist Voss has worked harder than any of us on this case, if you’re implying that she’s somehow been misleading the investigation, then you’re mistaken. We’ve followed every lead, every piece of information . . .”

“West. . .” Simmons interrupted.

And so did Petran. “I am not interested in your opinion, young man. I’m interested in the evidence. All this task force has achieved is to let William Lapointe run free while delivering a fairly insignificant rebellion group who had all turned against him regardless. And while it is noble that you defend her, you do not know what she and the man she claims to hunt are capable of doing.”

“Gentlemen, there is no need to continue arguing.” Gareth interjected. “Clearly Specialist Voss was a valuable asset at one point but she is not any longer. She will be returned to our custody and we will consider a new tactic for tracking the target.”

Returned to our custody. He said it so casually. Like it was a normal prison. Like there was nothing cruel and unusual about those earthen caves, built of bones, blacker than pitch, and manacles of spikes, chains so heavy she couldn’t move. And conditions far worse when they wanted something.

She leaned forward, almost ready to grab the knife from her boot. Every muscle tensed. Her heart stepped up a beat. She could free the blade and force it through her heart in under minute, before the men would notice she’d moved.

“Sirs, I must strongly object. . .”

“Obviously, she has clouded your judgement with her wiles.” ----not this but something like this----

“Give it up, West. It’s time to cut bait,” Simmons said.

Her fingers gripped the knife hilt and paused. She remembered something. The men kept arguing and she remembered seeing something in a dark bar over someone’s shoulder. A brightly feathered lure, trailing through the water. It looks like what they want, so they go after it. Can’t help it.

“There’s something we haven’t tried,” she said more to herself than anyone since she assumed everyone was ignoring her.

“What?” Simmons said, he was closest to her.

“We’ve spent all this time chasing after him when we should have been drawing him out. Baiting him, luring him from hiding,” she said. She released the knife. She moved to the end of the table, center view of the cameras.

“Use me to get him to poke his head out. Leak my wearabouts, let him find me. Then we can grab him.”

“No,” West said.

“That’s ludicrous,” said SImmons.

“This sounds like a desperate plan” said Gareth.

Silence came from Petran.

She spoke as the ideas came rushing to her. “It can’t be too obvious, he has to know I’ve been working to bring down the rebellion just based on the arrests we’ve made but he doesn’t have to know my full role. Fabricate a record, a timeline, my affiliation. Leak them to the dark web as recently uncovered documents, so he won’t be as suspect about the information suddenly coming out. I’ll have to move…”

“Move?” Simmons was indignant.

“Will believes that vampires are a superior race and that he and I are were meant to rule like gods, putting humans in their rightful place as cattle. If he finds out that I’m living in a cheap apartment in a shabby complex as a low level civilian asset to a human military, he will have to gloat. Lord over me. He won’t be able to stop himself.”

“You can’t make yourself bait, it’s too dangerous,” West said.

“No more dangerous than going undercover. Much less dangerous than having some unknown attempt an approach. More potential to work than scrapping the task force.” Nobody else had anything to say, so she continued. “I can be implanted with a tracker, for long distance, discreet surveillance. I can make myself more visible, some how. Like I think I’m safe, like I think he’s not a threat. That will really get him angry. He is very reckless when he’s angry.”

“Your dedication is admirable but Specialist...this is not a sound course of action.”

“I agree with Ms Voss.” High Councilman Petran’s statement brought the room to silence. “I would like to see the action plan by the end of the week, Ms. Voss.”

She nodded as she couldn’t bring herself to say yessir to a man she hated just as much as he hated her even when they were in agreement.

He ended his part of the call.

“Ah, well, then gentlemen, I guess we are adjourned for today. Ms. Voss.” Then Gareth disconnected as well.

“What the hell are trying to pull Voss? Made us look like a bunch of idiots.”

She had five different response to that question. She chose the shortest. “Just trying to do the job sir.”

She hoped his teeth would be sore later from the force with which he was grinding them now. “This is you final shot, do not fuck it up. This has been an embarrassment to our special forces for long enough.”

When he left, Chrystal let out a long sigh. Her breath shook. The blades hidden on her body seemed hot and dangerous now. She leaned on the table and took another deep breath.

“What are you doing, Chrys?”

She’d forgotten West was there.

“Why are you taking this risk?”

She said nothing.

“There has to be another way.”

“There’s not.”

She left the conference room going in the direction of her office where the sheaths waited.

“You do not have to do this.” West followed her out again, struggling to keep up, like a puppy who’s legs are too short. “Or are you bluffing? Just trying to buy some time?”

She didn’t answer him until they got to her office. A small room, about the size of a storage closet. There was a desk and three chairs and a bookcase. She rarely used the room and it was mostly a holdover from when she was first assigned to the task force. When West shut the door behind them, a torrent of words tumbled from her.

“What do you think was happening in that meeting? Did you think your three superiors were going to listen, act on your say so? Did you think when Councilman Crannach said I would return to custody that I’d go some place like a human prison?” She stopped for a deep breath, to steady herself, to stop from yelling. She moved to the edge of the desk, gripping the edge, like holding it would ground her again.

“Please, tell me because I want to understand,” he said.

If she talked, she would say the truth. An ugly truth. But in less then ten minutes she’d gone from the edge of suicide to a glimmer of some kind of hope. It was dizzying and put her in a confessional mood. She couldn’t not talk about it.

“I don’t think like Will. I don’t think vampires are better. I think we’re worse. We look like humans, we act like humans but there is a streak of brutality in us. Petran and Crannach like to pretend that Will and I are the only monsters but The Council has had thousands of years to perfect punishment and they do not hesitate to use their impressive skills against transgressors.”

She pulled up her sleeves, revealing the white hatch marks of scars encircling her wrists. “I was not going back.”

 “I thought,” he stuttered. “I mean I thought you guys healed. . .”

“They’ve learned how to leave marks. Reminders. Warnings. All over.” She tugged her selves back down.

“Why didn’t you tell me? We’re partners, you can trust me.”

“You have to stop telling yourself that. It’s not about trust. You can’t be loyal to me and the military command.” Here was the ugly part. “They would’ve had you make the arrest, put me in cuffs. You have to know that. You would have to take me to the brig until a council representative could arrive. Would you have thrown away your career, your freedom to disobey those orders to have my back? To stop something you didn’t even know would happen?”

He looked down.

“And I’ve told you I wasn’t going back, right?”

He still didn’t meet her eye. She reached her hands around to the knife at her back, under her shirt. She put the bare blade on the desk right where he was looking. Now he met her eye again.

“I brought it to the meeting for me, to die before. . . but you would have tried to stop me and I was. . . prepared to do whatever it would have taken . . .to never return to their custody.”

She sat in her chair, exhausted. She took the second knife from her boot, there was no point in hiding it anymore. He sat across from her and was silent for a long time.

“You know, it’s not the way I would have imagined it but when I say I’m your partner, that we’re squadmates, it means I’m willing to fight beside you, to die with you, to die for you. If that meant dying in that conference room then that would have been my hill, you know?”

This time she was silent for a long time. She was still trying to catch up with with had happened. The adrenaline coursing through her was still telling her to run. Her mind was telling her that this plan was insane and would fail too. Her emotions were uncomfortable.

“That’s very noble of you but. . .” She reconsidered. “Thank you.” Her cheeks burned hot, her eyes were wet, and now it was her turn to look away.

“Luckily, we didn’t have to do any of that but I’m not as sold on this bait idea as Petran.”

She was still trying to get her embarrassment and releif under control, too emotional to speak. “I bet Simmons is pissed he even mentioned bait.”

 Chrystal laughed. “Thank god he did though or. . .” She cleared her throat. “Now we actually stand a chance.”

“Do you really think Lapointe will fall for this?”

“It might take some time but yes. He will not remain hiding and miss his chance at revenge.”

“And you don’t mind putting yourself in danger?”

“It’s better than . . . the alternative. And to be quite honest, it will give me a chance for revenge too.”

Thanks for Reading! :D

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What I Listen to While I Write (#AuthorConfession Day 27, part 2)

When it comes to what I listen to while I write, I probably spend too much time thinking about and building project-specific playlists, usually on Spotify. But having the right music is important when it comes to my process.

I cannot write in silence and I can't just listen to any song either. How can I write the very serious love drama of an immortal vampire triad if a 'Weird' Al Yankovich track polka starts playing? What kind of fictional murder has "Fuck You Betta" by Neon Hicks as a soundtrack? No, it's better to have the playlist fit the writing than depending on the iTunes shuffle of my entire music library.

I have 16 novel playlists shared on Spotify. This doesn't count the multiple lists within folders for a few of them. Nor does it count the generic NaNoWriMo lists I have that are meant to be encouraging songs for the first and last days of the event. It also doesn't include the ones in my iTunes library on my computer. Or all the ones I've lost on previous computers. Or the ones I had in my head back in the day when I first started writing fiction. So you see, music and writing have gone hand in hand for me for a very long time. More on that next week when I'll be writing more extensively on music's role in my life. Right now, let's get back to my playlist obsession.

Like I said, I have 16 novel playlists but I don't think I could name 16 of my own novels. I have so many because I sometimes decide that the playlist I made at the beginning doesn't fit the novel anymore as I probably went in a different direction than I expected. A good example of this is my NaNoWriMo novel last year, Write What You Know.

The initial playlist I created for Write What You Know has more party songs and angry hard rock because I thought there would be more clubs, bars, sex, vampires, and fighting then what I ended up with.  The revised playlist, called We've Always Been Crazy, has more of a moody feel with angsty and sad songs instead of fast, driving punk or sensual R+B.

For similar reasons, I have various playlists for my current work in progress, Consumption Divine. Not only have I been working it for so long that a number of playlists are pretty much inevitable but also the different parts of the book contrast greatly with each other. The current part I'm working on is the final section, the end of the entire story centuries in the making. My main character is less angry than in her early years, she feels frustrated and trapped by everyday life but is resigned to it. Then she meets someone who knows will bring disaster and trouble to all of them but not only does she need him for her current mission, she's drawn to him as he is to her. Their love story is one of reluctance but also an overwhelming desire but the other main story earlier in the novel (or its prequel or whatever this ends up being) she is full of fury and rage. Then she meets someone who helps her harness that rage but also fuels it. Their love story is destructive and violent but just as overwhelming and all-consuming. There is no way that the playlists could be the same for both parts.

And while all of this may be interesting (hopefully), I haven't said why I even bother in the first place.

Yes, a huge part of it is that I can't write in silence and yet there's more to it at the same time. Not only do I have a strong attachment to the art form in general (again, more on that next week) but music and lyrics powerfully evoke emotions, mood, and story in a short time and with no effort on my part. In turn, I transform that work's effect on me into my own original creative output. It's like using their creative force to help fuel my creative force. Art feeding art.

For example, the song "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler is almost single-handedly responsible for Consumption Divine. When I first heard that song oh so many moons ago, a number of nascent threads in my mind immediately wove together to form the story. But it had a lot of help from Jesus Christ Superstars (Judas), The Phantom of the Opera (Phantom), "Nights in White Satin" by The Moody Blues (Knights), and "Like A Prayer" by Madonna.  And much later, when I thought this story was dead and I wasn't going to work on it anymore or even be a writer, "My Immortal" by Evanescence brought it back to life. And when I wanted to make it something more than my teenage wish-fulfillment paranormal romance, Sweeney Todd and Moulin Rouge! (with its own mixed bag of musical influence), gave meat to the story's bones.

I try to express and give context to the emotions that I get when I hear these songs as well as the power of those emotions when I write my novel. And having the playlist going while I write keeps those emotions fresh in my heart and mind which can often ease my writing process.

Hopefully, that makes some sense. I've never tried to explain it before but music and its importance in every aspect of my life has been in the forefront of my mind for almost three months now. These two posts for #authorconfession is only the beginning.  As I mentioned, next week I will be covering the topic more extensively in a series of posts because it's a topic I've wanted to write about for years. For now, I think I need to tweak some of these playlists yet again.

My Writing Theme Song (#AuthorConfession Day 27, part 1)

This month on Instagram I've been participating in the #AuthorConfession prompts from J. Julien and J.M. Sullivan. It has been a lot of fun meeting and connecting with other writers of Instagram as well as thinking about my writing in all new ways. Normally I post my answer on Instagram but today's prompt is 'What is your writing theme song?' and the importance of music in my life has been on my mind lately. Next week, I will be posting a week of music-related posts but for today I'm sharing two related but separate posts. If you want to know about what I listen to while I write, read Part 2.

My Writing Theme Song

I've talked about my novel playlists before. I've shared the Spotify playlists that I use to motivate writing sprees on the first and last days of NaNoWriMo. But never before have I thought of just one song that I could call a theme song. And it seemed impossible.

From all the thousands of songs in my digital library, from the thousands more available on streaming services like Spotify and Play Music, how can I choose a single song that encompasses all the moods and themes of my various works of fiction? It is an insurmountable task. I do not listen to only one song as I write, not even one type of music. I couldn't. It would be impossible.

However, is there one song that I can say defines me as a writer? One that I could play for someone and would say this is me and this is how I write? Yes, it was possible.

In fact, it is so possible I do not even have to think about it. From the first time I heard this song, I felt it in my self, in my soul, this song is me and my relationship with writing.

here we go for the hundredth time

Do you know how many words I've written in my 20-plus years of fiction writing? My earlier parts of Consumption Divine in Scrivener right now it over 100,000 words, and doesn't include the drafts I wrote in high school or what I've done in the past month. This month for Consumption Divine I've written about 20k. According to the NaNoWriMo trackers, I've written over 200,000 in just for that event. I've written so much more fiction and plenty of non-fiction too between blog posts, college essays, and more.

digging deeper just to throw it away

Of all those words, a minuscule fraction actually sees the light of day. My one published story "Creeper" is only 5k words. Yet, I keep writing knowing very little of it will be seen by the public. I sit in my room every day, dig into my soul, bleed out the words, then save them in a digital file or close the notebook and essentially throw them away. Most of the time I don't even look at them again. This is also true almost every art or craft project I work on. My art journal pages or the things I make as gifts get given away or packed in a box and whether I like it or not I general don't look at it again. Yet I keep on creating.

I bleed it out

I feel like I've said this a thousand times but maybe that's only to myself. I have to write because there is something inside me that needs to get out. I don't know what that is but on every project, I keep getting closer and closer. I don't know what will happen when I finally cut it all out of me or if that will ever be possible.

"Bleed it Out" is the song that best characterizes how I feel about myself as not only a writer and writing itself but also an artist and finished art. It is the only song I can imagine being my writing theme song. Linkin Park is the only band who's music that could even come close to meeting this challenge. But more on that next week.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Social Anxiety on Social Media and/or Personal Brand vs Self Expression

Wow, that's a long title. This may be a long post. This may be one or two or three posts. Let's find out, shall we.

I quit my last real, normal, 9-to-5 steady paycheck job in 2009. I had no real rhyme or reason or plan. I didn't quit my day job to follow my daydream or live my passion of something equally inspirational and indie. Basically, I got drunk one night out with friends, heard a Black Eyed Peas song, remembered what it was like to be happy, and left my job the next day.

Yes, this song. Shut up.

Since then I've embarked on this journey of entrepreneurship in the internet economy. This journey has involved learning trying to learn html and css, attempting to master product photography, learning and practicing half a dozen crafting skills, a foray into videography, and most importantly, becoming a social media guru. Or at least taking a very determined stab at it.

I've read articles, bought books, studied guides to every platform trending at the moment. I've tried to figure out my personal brand and making it consistent on every account that allowed me to upload a profile picture type out 100 characters in an About Me box. I've posted content, tried to vary that content to the various platforms, and tried to interact on those platforms. I've followed, shared, asked questions and blah, blah, blah.

And time and time again I've felt like a failure. I didn't feel like I was making meaningful connections. I didn't feel like I was engaging my followers. I didn't feel like I was selling my self right or maybe my personal brand wasn't something anyone was interested in despite what my instinct told me.

So I'd retreat back into my self, think about what I wanted to do, what my brand was, tweak my profiles and try again. Rinse and Repeat. Rinse and Repeat.

More and more I've wanted to give up on social media entirely but at the same time I know that as a writer building a platform and audience is important if I want to court publishers and is crucial if I stay independent. Yet I couldn't pin down my personal brand, couldn't name the audience I wanted to reach, and I was constantly afraid of making an internet social misstep alienating any connections and friends I did manage to make.

Then it occurred to me that I am not a brand. I'm not selling my self or anything in particular. I'm not a personality or social media star and I don't want to be. I'm not a charming, sparkling personality. I am a person with an obsessive need or curse to constantly express my SELF. My enigmatic, evolving self.

I don't know entirely what that self. I think it becomes clearer through the expression. What I do know is that the sharing is terrifying. When I was trying to be a personal brand it was scary too because I was worried that I would tarnish my brand or be seen to be as fake as I felt. But this kind of sharing is even more dangerous because it is not hiding behind a facade or personality, it is me and I'm not convinced me is likable.

More than that the connections I want to make is not to an audience but people who will be friends. Who are interested in my expression of self no matter what that might be. People who aren't creeped out if I follow them on every platform or who won't think my comments are rude or mean because my digital tone is off (thus the exclamation points for excitement and emojis and the rainbows of hearts to ensure it's obvious that I'm being friendly, if you were wondering), and people who also expressing a self. This may be an old-school approach to social media but it's what I enjoyed back in the day of Xanga blogs, forums, AIM, and Yahoo! messenger and what I miss today in what seems like a much more complicated internet world.

But here's when my social anxiety comes in. Even in person, I have problems with my tone being appropriate. I have often come off as standoffish and bitchy or rude. I try very hard to avoid this impression. I worry constantly that I will lose friends or make a bad impression when I meet people. I agonize about some stupid thing I said, more so if I was drunk when I said it, even after years have passed. This same anxiety leaks online but like on crack because it moves so much faster. I can say 15 stupid things on 5 different platforms in under 30 minutes. I have a panic attack every time I hit send and my mind won't let go of some stupid autocorrect spelling mistake for the rest of my life.

With electronic communication, I agonize over wording and if emojis or an lol will help clear things up or make things worse because will it come off as some kind of empty annoyance instead of genuine emotion or attempt at communication. I never know when to end the loop of comment or emails. Will I look like I always have to have the last word or is it rude not to say more? Should I say thank you to everything or is a like/heart fine? When does a comment look like a criticism or an argument when I truly want to discuss something? How long is too long for any digital content whether a comment, an Insta caption, or a blog post?

Honestly, I could probabaly make book of unfinished posts, deleted comments, emails, and text messages never sent because I was too anxious about the content to share it. And it takes up so much time and energy and creates so much anxiety for me.

But it's also necessary.

Not because of platform building and audience reach and possibly earning money from it one day but because of that absolute constant need to express my self and connect that self to others. I lock myself in a room all day and write, write, write regardless if anyone is going to read it but I'm not fully satisfied that way. Even if nobody reads it online, I need it to be out there and out of me. That kind of writing happens regardless. So it's not just that.

I need to be a part of something. I need to reach out and touch someone and know I touched someone, somehow. Whether it's through my fiction, art, or something else entirely. And not in an inspiring, life-changing way but just in an 'I'm listening way'....I guess. Maybe that is something else I don't know.

Maybe I don't know what I want. Maybe I only know what I need to do and don't know how to do it. Maybe I've just learned what I don't want to do.

I don't want a FaceBook page. I don't want an Etsy store. I don't want to make unboxing, haul, or narrated videos. I don't want to try Snapchat or Periscope or anything with the word Live. I don't want to be a seller or a marketing guru or a brand.

I just want to be me. My weird, indefinable, dark, hysterical, moody me and get my 'me' all over you. And stop lurking in internet shadows and come into its light. No matter how many panic attacks I have along the way.

Friday, September 22, 2017

First Draft Friday: Consumption Divine, Chapter 4

First Draft Friday is a more or less regular series where I share my parts of my first draft, usually whatever I am working on at the time. General writing advice tells us to keep our first drafts for ourselves, they are always horrible. I want to share my first draft and so I do. Maybe it can inspire other writers who think their drafts are too horrible to ever see the light of day but mostly I think it keeps me writing.

 Consumption Divine is the story I've been writing since the very beginning. Before that I was thinking about it. More than 25 years. I've written so many first draft versions, it's ridiculous. Currently, there are over 100,000 words written in this project. None of it is cohesive, complete, or very much usable. A lot of it is repetitive. I've given up on it many times but I literally feel haunted by it. I can't stop trying to write it but I also can't seem to write it right. I'm trying again. I'm trying for the last time. If I can't write it now, I have to give up. I can't keep writing something if it is impossible. So, this is the last first draft of Consumption Divine.

Read past posts: Chapter One. Chapter Two. Chapter Three.

Consumption Divine
first draft, incomplete, 1,233 words
By Stephanie Thompson

Chapter Four

She had a week. One week left before she had to stand before Gareth, Petran, and Simmons to admit that she failed. She could not catch William. Unless he was dead, which was unlikely in her estimation, then his skill at evading capture exceeded her skills for hunting him.

The Council will never believe she's done her best, shared all her information, searched him out with the best of her abilities. Petran and Gareth will be more than happy to imprison her again, to torture her again, and there would be no relief this time. She will be tortured until William is caught and they’d been failing at that going on two centuries. She didn’t know what strength she had left to survive even a year’s worth of the Council’s imprisonment.

One week until she would have to make the case for her life.

She sat in her car outside of work, motionless. The rest of the team were at A. T. starting the weekend off with a few round of drinks. Chrystal had been invited but declined. She usually declined. She usually went home and either went through her records or stared at the walls of her bedroom going through memories. She couldn’t face doing either now. She also couldn’t stay in her car, in the parking lot, contemplating.

Peer pressure won out. “Drive to The Airborne Tavern,” she told the car at last.

The A. T. looked like a shack that gave up collapsing a decade ago but might try to finish the job any day.

Chrystal sat in her car again. Lights and loud conversation flowed out of the bar. She didn’t belong here. It was full of life, she was not. The thought of going home and the thought of going into the building left a rocks at the bottom of her stomach and she didn’t know which was heavier.

She leaned against the window, too tired to move. There was one way out, one way out of centuries of imprisonment and violent punishment. One way to finally be free, free from the Council, free from William, free from the nightmares. She was so very tired of the fight. She closed her eyes. So very, very tired.

If she couldn’t find him, she could spoil his revenge. If she ended her own life, he could never have the satisfaction. And for once she might even surprise him. It halfway seemed like almost a good idea except that it also felt like losing. Will would get what he wanted, plus a free shot at the Council ----please think of a better name or at least another one---- and the Council will get what they wanted, one less questionable vampire to threaten their Co-Existence. She would get what she wanted in a way too but she’d be too dead to enjoy it.

A knock on her car window startled her eyes open. The knocker was saying something to her but through the window he sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher through the glass. The car asked if she wanted to open the window or contact the authorities. She opened the window.

“What?” she asked.

“Are you ok? Do you need me to call someone?” the stranger said. Her car and window was low she couldn’t see the speaker’s face, only his dark urban camo uniform and his rank and name, Captain McNaughton.

“No, I . . .”

“Chrys! You made it!” West shouted across the small parking lot. He weaved his way to the car talking the whole way. “We were about to check out another bar but we can’t leave til you get a round in here. Who’s this guy?”

“Just making sure she was all right,” McNaughton said, backing up to make room for West and the equally intoxicated analysts tagging along with him.

“You all right, Voss?”

“Yup, just need a drink,” she said because she had no choice now. McNaughton continued to the bar ahead of them as she got out of the car.

“Let me get you your first Cannon Fodder,” West said, putting his arm compainobly around her shoulders.

Cannon Fodder was an apt name for a cocktail that felt like a fire in her chest and a shot to her gut. It tasted like gun smoke and acrid pepper. As burning and bitter as it was, it was better than feeling nothing. She had three as talk swirled around her. Teams she didn’t follow and tv shows she didn’t watch. Missions she hadn’t been on and commanders she hadn’t served with. Women she’d never met. Chrys spent a lot of time watching the tv behind the bar, hour after hour of closed captioned bass fishing.

People filtered out. Going home, going to other bars. West left her last, drunk at the end. She ordered another Cannon Fodder at last call, sipping it slowly, envious that the others could be drunk and happy about something as simple as the weekend. The alcohol concoction laced itself through her brain but she wasn’t drunk and the weekend still held nothing but an empty house and looming fate.

Another patron sat on the stool beside her. “You know, I feel like we’ve met somewhere,” he said.

Again Chrys saw his name patch first, McNaughton. “Yeah, in the parking lot,” she said uninterested.

“No some place else.”

“Maybe on base.”

She tried to glance at him, tried to glare, tried to make it clear she wanted to be alone but instead she froze, her eyes locked to his because she knew his face immediately. She’d seen it in so many of her nightmares.

“Could be on base,” he said his voice surreally normal. “But I don’t know, it feels different than that, you know?”

Without meaning to she said, “Yeah?”

She wanted to look away, back at her drink, back at the fishermen but she was trapped in his emerald eyes, the smooth angles of his visage, the gentle curl of his dark hair. He smiled and she couldn’t get away.

“I’m Jack,” he said.

“Chrys,” she barely spoke. “You can call me Chrys.”

“Your squadmates didn’t last, huh?”

“Well it’s late. I should be getting home too,” she said it but made no movements to go. She didn’t even lift her glass to finish her drink.

“I think I dreamed you. About you, I mean. . . I mean, I think that’s why your seem familiar to me.” He chuckled and looked at his beer. “I’m usually more charming than this.”

Despite herself, she smiled. “You’re charming enough,” she said barely at all again.

He looked back at her, his eyes meeting hers, his full smile shining on her and she couldn’t stay there beneath its power. She dragged her gaze away, returning to her drink, concentrating on the cold glass on her fingertips. What was she doing?

“You guys paid up?” the bartender asked, interrupting with a sense of reality.

Chrystal nodded. “I should go.” She tossed back the dregs of her drink and moved off her stool at last.

He had his wallet out. “Hold up, I’ll walk you out.”

She actually waited for an instant while she put her jacket on. She lingered on the beauty of his face, so familiar to her already, yet usually when she saw it, it was pale. Lifeless. Pleading. Bleeding. She was out of the bar and to her car before he was done paying.

Thanks for Reading!

Friday, September 15, 2017

First Draft Friday: Consumption Divine, Chapter 3

First Draft Friday is a more or less regular series where I share my parts of my first draft, usually whatever I am working on at the time. General writing advice tells us to keep our first drafts for ourselves, they are always horrible. I want to share my first draft and so I do. Maybe it can inspire other writers who think their drafts are too horrible to ever see the light of day but mostly I think it keeps me writing.

 Consumption Divine is the story I've been writing since the very beginning. Before that I was thinking about it. More than 25 years. I've written so many first draft versions, it's ridiculous. Currently, there are over 100,000 words written in this project. None of it is cohesive, complete, or very much usable. A lot of it is repetitive. I've given up on it many times but I literally feel haunted by it. I can't stop trying to write it but I also can't seem to write it right. I'm trying again. I'm trying for the last time. If I can't write it now, I have to give up. I can't keep writing something if it is impossible. So, this is the last first draft of Consumption Divine.

Read past posts: Chapter One. Chapter Two.

Consumption Divine
first draft, incomplete,  1,850 words
Stephanie Thompson

Chapter Three
15 years later

“The work of Specialist Voss has been commendable but her main knowledge as an asset was meant to be for capturing our primary target, William Lapointe, who remains at large. His network, the cults and supporters, have been hunted to point of irrelevance and yet, somehow he remains free.”

 “After 25 years, it’s questionable if she has any actionable intel left.” “And without capturing Lapointe, her allegiance is still questionable.”

Chrystal was in the room, she was in the meeting, but she wasn’t an active participant. Nothing she said would make a difference. Gareth, High Councilman Petran, Major Simmons, and Sergeant Major West were talking about the operation and she was an inanimate part of it. Was it viable still? Was the task force necessary? Should it be scraped for a more on the ground, intelligence gathering effort? She was the it. Even her assigned rank was meaningless.

“As the targets decrease, the pressure on Lapointe increases and our efforts are more focused. He has killed every intelligence agent before they can get close enough to be useful. Specialist Voss is the best option not only for tracking him from HQ but also if we were to send a double agent after him, she’d be the best choice then too,” West said.

“Absolutely not.”

“That’s out of the question.”

“Under no circumstances should those two be anywhere near each other.”

The other three spoke simultaneously and definitively.

Chrystal stifled a laugh.

“Something to add, Specialist Voss?” Gareth’s digitized image asked.

“Will wouldn’t trust me either. He would kill me on sight.” She didn’t bother stopping her laughter this time. “Then nothing would stand in his way of coming after all of you.”

“That sounds like a threat, Ms. Voss,” said High Councilman Petran, also present in digital form, only a voice in his case.

“It’s the truth. He had one mission in life, then I left. Now he only wants vengeance. Vengeance against the entire world. Only I know where he might be, no matter how slim the chance. Without me, he’d slit your throat before you even knew he was behind you.”

Simmons rolled his eyes, West hid a smile from the conferencing cameras.

“We are exactly aware of how dangerous Mr. Lapointe is and your failure to capture him keeps him a threat to us. You leveraged your ability to find him against your freedom but perhaps it’s time to try extraction again.” Petran was worse than Gareth in his obvious disgust, distrust, and hate of her.

“I don’t think this meeting is progressing any more. Let’s go away, make some concrete deadlines and achievable goals and action plans to meet those and schedule another meeting for the next month,” West said.

“Good point, Sergeant Major, we will stay the course for now and reconvene with actionable ideas for next time,” said Simmons.

“Fine,” Gareth said.

After a long pause, Petran added “One month, gentlemen.”

The call finished. The lights came on.

Col. Simmons stood up. West followed suit.

“Results you two. Something big. Or you’ll get reassigned, West, and . . . who knows where you’ll go, Voss,” he said.

He left.

“What do you want to do next, partner?” West said, sitting back in his seat.

Chrystal didn’t look at him. She stared at the table. She was very, very tired.

“We’re not partners,” she said. “And we’re going to find him.”

She left the conference room. West was a few steps behind her. “We’ve been trying to catch him. Do you have a new approach? New intel?”

They walked through grey carpeted halls, around other soldiers having their own walk and talks., around corner after corner, like a low-bid indoor maze.

“There’s no new intel to have. He hasn’t been in contact with anyone for years. Even the sightings have stopped.”

“Then you have a plan?”

Chrystal typed the entrance code on the touchpad, provided her thumbprint, and her retina scan for entrance to the task force’s HQ.

“My plan is to burn his havens to the ground, then salt the ground before I leave it. Give him no place to go but where I want him to be”

The office was empty, the three walls of screens and smaller banks of screens throughout the room were dark. Everyone had gone home for the day, she and West were staying late for the meeting.

“We’ve staked out every one of his hiding spots.”

“Then we’ll do it again.”

She put a map of Europe on one wall, South America on the other, and North America in the center. She remembered the cross-country and around the world trips, for pleasure, for business, for running, for hiding. The hotels, the first-class tickets, the luxury apartments, the train rides, the buses, the caves. There were so many places. His favorites. Her favorites. Could she have forgotten one?

“I know I haven’t worked this case as long as you, or even Simmons, but we are partners.” West watched her, not the maps.

“No. I’m an asset, you’re one of my handlers. I don’t get promoted, I don’t get commendations, I don’t get credit, I don’t get status. My name is not on any reports, only in them. There’s nothing you can do to protect me or have my back. We’re not partners.”

“You’ve worked with Simmons for a long time, right?”

She zoomed the European map to France. William loved France the best, when was the last time they looked for him there?

“He gave me the same speech, when I started here. That you were an asset, you could only be trusted to do the work, and not have my back like a human would, like a real partner . . . and more that I won’t repeat.”

“That sounds about right. I don’t trust myself. You’d be a fool to trust me. We work together, that’s it.”

“You might be stubborn about this but so am I. I don’t work the way Simmons does, I don’t think the way Simmons does. I trust you with my life, I have to, we’re both. I would go into the field with you and support you anyway I could.”

She started to say something, then shook her head and said something else. “We’re starting from the beginning, in France at sunset tonight. We’ll have to have an earlier start." She pulled the international clocks and sunset times to the center screens. “Have everyone back here in five hours. I’ll prep packages from home.”

“No problem, partner,” he said.

We’re not partners, she thought as she left. She walked through the building maze again, this time heading to the locker rooms for her personal effects. She still had images of the past in her mind. How many agents had she and William killed together? How many of them had partners they trusted? How many of those had they killed too? How many gave each other up to make it end?

She and Will had been partners in that endeavour, dispatching their enemies with glee. Eventually, she betrayed him. She was still betraying him. Gareth betrayed her when he negotiated her surrender. Simmons betrayed her behind her back.

She didn’t need partnership, she needed William Lapointe in shackles.

At home, Chrystal didn’t sleep. She didn’t sleep much these days at all. Her nightmares were unbearable. Even if she could get a few hours, they would be restless and futile.

Instead she worked.

Since she didn’t entertain, her combined dining and living room was her taskforce office at home. It wasn’t as high-tech as the military base, it wasn’t high-tech at all. She had her old diaries in paper, the Council records of William’s exploits, of their combined exploits, and their allies information all on paper, bound in portfolios, filling two bookcases.

There were two corkboards and one whiteboard, tacked with paper and post-it notes. On her desk, which was once a dining room table, were stacks of map references, the one used for their last failed operation was opened to Brazil.

She pulled down the files on Will’s early life, carefully chose the diaries where she wrote about their times in France and when Will talked about his life. She closed the map of Brazil and opened the one for France. She set her secure tablet in a dock and the keyboard was projected onto the tabletop.

The first thing she had to do was set the new security protocols for the French government. She and William were classified as terrorists, therefore they had to raise border and travel security and scrutinize the network activities and communications. Facial recognition software would be scanning every inch of CCTV and DNA scans for every traveler. They needed special op teams briefed and at the ready for targeted location searches and geographical sweeps. All suspicious activity and gathered data would be tagged and sent back to the task force for their analysis.

Then she needed to warn surrounding countries to be on heightened alert. They would be next in her search, for now their borders too would need to be more secure.

Next she would need to prepare the materials for her team. Most of them didn’t know the details of William’s past, only his physical description, aliases, and what he was wanted for. They needed to be as informed as she was on the details. Maybe they would see something she’d missed, though she doubted it.

She knew William as well as she knew herself, better than she knew anyone, better than anyone else could know him. But maybe that was why she couldn’t find him because he knew her too and despite the time and infidelity she was still too close to him. Maybe the team had to know what she knew because their objective view may offer something she didn’t have.

Finally she typed out her strategy. Every place that was happy for William was in France and so too was the stronghold of his enemy, the Council, so most likely he would be there. He had been born --someplace--, his mother’s people were from --someplace else--, and though he hated his father his people had some connection to --anotherplace--. He, his wife, and his son had lived in --somedistrict-- of Paris and the wife and child were buried --here-- then moved --there--, both places were sacred to him. The Council had many buildings, schools, and manors throughout Paris as well.

These would be her main focus.The most likely places he would go to lick his wounds or launch his next attack. Her two secondary focuses would be --wherever that temple is-- and her immediate surrounding area because these seemed like the least likely places he would be but Will was nothing if not audacious in his self-confidence, consistent in underestimating her, and predictably blinded by rage and revenge. She wouldn’t be surprised at all if they caught him because he was too busy ripping her throat out to hear the approach of a special operations team.

That would be a satisfying too. At least then it would be over for one of them.

Thanks for Reading!