Saturday, August 12, 2017

Subscribe to Horror

 I love horror. The end. I honestly don't know what to say about that. I always have, I always will. I don't know why. It's dark, slimy, creepy, and scary but it's always calling my name and I can't ignore. Beneath the fairies and unicorns, pink lipstick and high heels, flowers and perfumes, lurks a deep appreciation for blood, guts, screams, and demons.

Horror. Horror. Horror.

Over the past few years, however, I've often felt that the genre, in all mediums, is not alive as it once was. That it was harder and harder to find something I hadn't seen or read already. Which is crazy in this heyday of independent, self-publishing, blogs, forums, and multiple platforms for stories and video sharing platforms. Not to mention that this is the day and age of content curation and on-demand streaming services I should able to dive deep into horror anything and never have to come up for air.

I used to find horror books to read at bookstores and libraries, while I found the movies at Blockbuster or from friends. <Did I just age myself? Because I feel old now> 

Unfortunately, my town only had one bookstore now, in the mall, and they lost their coffee in store coffee shop. Going to the bookstore used to be fun, pretty cheap Friday or Saturday night. Now I use that time to lament the loss of bookstores in a town of just outside a major metropolitan area. On top of that, the old Blockbuster is a mattress store finally <<This literally has only changed in the last few year, I think we had the last standing Blockbuster in America>>

 For a short time FearNet filled a gap, but then it disappeared. Chiller is trying but it is not as good as FearNet was.

Once all those avenues dried up I sort of gave up trying and just watched whatever was on Netflix, which was overall .... lacking.

However, I found that I was wrong, I just wasn't looking hard enough in the right places. In reality, horror is just as strong as ever. Thanks to three different subscription services, I'm never more than click away from my favorite genre.

Turn on the Dark

From Chilling Tales for Dark Nights

I've been a subscriber to Chilling Tales since I first learned of them, which happened to be when they turned one of my short stories into a video.  Chilling Tales has multiple platforms, series, voice actors, and fantastic production value.  The stories are genuinely creepy and updated regularly. I absolutely love the podcasts because they have an old timey radio show feel and I have a thing for old timey radio shows.

The podcast and YouTube channel are free but they do have exclusive stories and products for subscribers. They have a variety of plans from $1 and up. You can subscribe on their page directly or through their recently launched Patreon page.

Screams On Demand

From Shudder
I discovered Shudder last Halloween when I was trying to track down a whole bunch of horror movies I hadn't seen yet.

They have a huge selection of movies, shorts, and tv shorts from all across the world you can stream into your living room. Their catalog can be browsed entirely or through curated collections like Animal Planet, Socko Spoofs, and Zombie Jamboree. I highly suggest Murder Party, Monster Brawl, Frankenstein's Army, Deathgasm, Shutter, and I could go on and on.

There's an app, the service is available on Roku, it used to be an add-on service to Amazon Prime Video (I do not know if it still is), and there is the stand alone website. In the U.S., the monthly price is $4.99 or pay a year in advance for $47.88.

Full disclosure: Sometimes the streaming can be slightly glitchy but not that bad and not that often. Also, it's one of the few streaming/digital content services available in both the U.S. and the U.K., a big plus when you travel often between the two countries like I do.

The Nocturnal Reader's Box

I discovered The Nocturnal's Reader Box on Instagram a month ago and subscribed as soon as I possibly could. Imagine horror fiction sent right to your door every month, as well as some pretty awesome horror related exclusive products. Count me in and instantly in love.

The Infected & Infested August Theme box (my first)

Finished: Mapping the Interior.  Signed copy of The Grip of It.
Patient Zero lapel pin.
The Woman who Never Killed bugs, print by Ally Burke  
I love, love, LOVE this box. I received mine earlier this week and I've already finished reading one of the books, the lapel pin is in my collection, the art print is on my wall (plus I've ordered other art from the artist), and everyone is jealous of my mug (which can be got nowhere else).

The only parts I'm not in love with is the hat and the bath bomb but that's likely to happen with in subscription box, not loving all the items. On the other hand, my dad, a fan of The Stand, was really excited about getting the Captain Trip's baseball cap I didn't want, so I got to make my dad happy (yay!). I haven't found a new home for the bath bomb. It's a shame that I like the smell but I don't take baths, I take showers. Baths....gross me out. 

In related news, I'm not letting the mug out of my sight.

I (and everyone else) love this mug!

The box is a great value at $35 + shipping and I'm already excited for the next one. Unfortunately, after the next box, which has a monster theme, the company is doing away with the themes, it's not a big deal but I really love themes, so I kind of liked that feature about the service. But otherwise, I cannot stop talking about this box.

If you're interested in learning more about the products in an unboxing video, leave a comment below.  I recorded one but I'm not sure I'm a ...skilled... presenter. It's definitely shorter than my scrapbook haul video but pretty much the same fumbling.

Until next time, Thanks for Stopping by and . . .

Friday, August 11, 2017

First Draft Friday: Even More Romance

First Draft Friday

Trying out a new idea for a post series where every Friday I post a rough draft. In my mind, this will something similar to my NaNoWriMo post but maybe less intense and only one day a week. The purpose is the same though: to encourage other writers. More often than not, we only get to see a finished polished version of fiction writing and it's very easy to get discouraged by their quality, even though we know, logically, whatever we're reading has a horrible first draft too. In my first draft posts, I want to share my first drafts as they are written more or less out of my brain. I say more or less because if I wrote the first draft longhand, then I'm usually going to clean it up a little bit or make all new mistakes or bad decisions as I type it up.

I very rarely write a story in order, from beginning to end straight through. The closest I get to doing so is when I write short stories. However, I rarely finish short stories anymore because I get stuck half way through and there isn't much space to jump around in these plot lines. "Romance" is a little different. A lot of my short stories start with an idea I have for an opening, I don't know much else beyond the beginning. I simply travel through the rest of the story like I'm looking for a light switch in the dark. For Romance, I knew the opening and the climax. I've written the opening, I'm stuck in the middle action, and so I've decided to skip ahead to the climax of the main conflict, not long before the end.

Apparently, I'm really focused on this story right now. Every time I have a second to write, I end up adding more. At the same time, I don't know what will become of it, if it has a middle, if any of it makes sense. I'm just exploring a lot of things, a recurring theme. So, I guess I'm just gonna keep writing to see how it goes.

Please enjoy another first draft extract from "Romance". If you'd like to read the opening, click here. If you'd to read the previous extract, click here.

first draft, incomplete,  680 words
By Stephanie Thompson

"I'm so glad you texted," Heather started.

Misty's resolve softened when she saw her splotchy, reddened features but there was nothing else to be done. She had to be firm, clear, and resolute.

"Come in," she said. "Have a seat. Would you like some tea or something?"

Resolute didn't mean rude.

"Tea? Tea would be nice," Heather answered while trying to tamp her rising hope. She's only being kind she reminded her heart because reasonably she knew there would be no reconciliation. Mysti hadn't hugged her, couldn't even look her in the eye. Mysti hadn't hugged her, couldn't even look her in the eye. She hadn't invited her over to get back together. This was sympathy tea, goodbye tea.

Mysti came back to the living room with tea cups clattering in their saucers. The scent of hot black, sweet tea nested comfortably with musky spice scent of Mysti's perfume. Heather wanted to nest there too, bury her nose in it, let the comfort warmth there overwhelm her. Instead the imagined rain followed her in, permeated her bones with a chill the hot tea cup couldn't touch.

"Heather, I - I asked you over here because . . . What we have . . . what we share . . . is special."

She stoppedd for a sip though it was too hot to drink and singed her tongue but it deserved the punishment. In her barely stammered out sentences it refused to use the past tense, refused to say what she wanted, needed to say.

She looked at Heather, who was blowing on her tea, both hands clutching the cup, and staring some distant point in the living room table.

Had breaking up with anyone else ever been this difficult?

"I will always care deeply about you, Heather, and treasure our time together," she said.

She wanted to be direct and concise. She didn't want to drag it out or talk around the finality. --It's over Heather-- she wanted to say but didn't.

"Please don't do this."

Her voice was small. Heather wasn't sure she'd spoken at all, she barely heard her voice and Mysti made no reaction - just watched her tea.

"I will . . ." she will what? What could she possibly do? She made every argument she could already. What was the core of the problem? Why can't they be together. "Why can't we just love each other?"

"We can love each other. We do but this isn't what I want. It isn't right for me. I love you but I don't..."

She put her teacup down. Tea splashed on the table. She stood up and walked away, she had to. She needed the space, the physical distance from Heather and the gravitational  pull of her emotions. The tug of the heartache and sympathies. Distance from the hurt Mysti was causing.

It'd be easier if she'd been rude. If she'd done it by text or in a phone call. It would've been better is she'd left it as it was after the argument. Now, she was only torturing them both.

"I love you but I don't want to be with you, Heather. I know it's hard to hear, it's hard enough to say and even more impossible to explain even to myself but . . . I have to say it. I don't want to be with you."

"You said you wanted something different. You said you clicked in a way yo've never experienced before."

"I wish we could've met as friends."

"You wanted to be with me when you thought I was a man."

"I've wanted to be with lots of men before I met them or before a few dates. It doesn't work out every time, regardless of gender."

"Don't say it like you've had a romantic relationship with a woman before. Don't say that like you've got a liberal understanding gender or sexuality."

"I do not want to argue about this again, Heather. I don't want us to end ugly."

"I don't want this to end."

"You can't force me to be ina relationship with you and even if you could . . . there's no scenario where we both end up happy."

I wonder if there are other writers who switch up names and spellings of names sort of randomly as they go. I do it constantly.

Thanks for reading!!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Transformation Tuesday: Passing the test

Recently, I got some results back from blood testing I had done as part of a yearly check up. I wasn't optimistic. I don't follow a recommended diet, I barely have an active lifestyle much less exercise, I don't have a regular sleep cycle, I could be better about taking my pills on the reg, or even drinking water. The list pretty much goes on and on full of the don'ts I do and the do's I don't.

However, my lab results were better than they have been in years. My CBC was almost perfectly average. My metabolic panel was fine. My lipid panel was decent. And most importantly, to me, my A1C was in the normal range. On top of that, I've recently lost 10 pounds for no apparent reason. My mom asked me "What have you been doing?" a few days ago and I, naturally, have been thinking of an answer ever since.

Like everything else in life, getting to this point has been a journey. I've been with my current doctor since 2015, but I think this journey started the year before, and I've made gradual changes as well as dramatic changes along the way.

2 plates is balanced eating, right?

Why did I take so many pictures like this?
One of the first changes I made is the amount of nachos and beer I consume. I don't know what happened in 2014 but I swear for like the first three months I primarily ate chips, cheese, and a beer or three every night for dinner. Not surprisingly I was tired all of the time and felt awful all the time. So, I went on a health kick.

I started exercising, I made diet changes, and I stopped drinking. I started feeling significantly better. I had more energy for a short period of time. Unfortunately, this is also the period of time when my uterus started going haywire and nothing I did affected my energy level because my red blood count and iron levels dropped like crazy.

Jump forward to last year. I had my hysterectomy and a blood transfusion and I felt even better. I asked my doctor how much weight she wanted me to lose by our next follow up, which I had planned to be in six months because I thought that energy alone was what stood in my way of finally being healthier and losing weight. She said she didn't care about weight so much if I increased my activity and my labs and blood pressure were fine. I always pinned those results to weight loss and decided on a pound a week would be good.

Unfortunately, my life got a little crazy after that: I lived in a hotel for three months, NaNoWriMo and the disastrous election followed making me an emotional and stressed wreck, then I was overseas for three months. In all that time my diet was not good. I ate a lot of processed, convenience food because it was easiest. I drank a lot of beer. I didn't go back for a follow-up. 

Sometime during this period, I switched from Splenda to a minimally processed, organic sugar in my coffee. I did not feel comfortable with this choice but I learned that consuming something sweet had the same effect in your body as consuming sugar. That it was the taste of sweetness that sent the signals to your body to store fat. If that was the case, then I would rather have sugar, which tasted better than other sweeteners, in my coffee. I worried about the effects on my blood sugar but I made the switch anyway.

However, when I was in England, my skin, which is plagued with sensitivity and patches of dry flakiness that defy treatment, cleared up. I had fewer cravings for sugar and felt fuller on less.

When I got back, I started thinking about the differences between English and American food. How could I feel better on diet full of sausage rolls and beer than I did on kale, whole grains, and low fat? More importantly, why was my skin better?

While I didn't have studies or research to inform a decision, I used my experience. Food spoiled quicker over there, even milk seemed to last only a few days. Almost everything came from nearby farms or in England, which were small farms and companies, versus industrial agriculture. I think the furthest my food came were the pears I bought which were from Belguim. Much of my food was freshly made in the store rather than pre-made in a factory. Not every single thing had sugar added to it. From these types of observations, I decided to try two things first: avoid preservatives and switch fully to grass milk/pasture raised dairy. 

Apart from the time from living in the hotel, or anytime I traveled really, I didn't feel like I ate a lot of processed foods. Even now I can't say exactly what I cut out besides bread and Tricuits. Oh, and chips. On a recent trip, I spent what felt like a fortune on organic/ healthy snacks with my main goal to avoid sugar laden, preservative filled, over salted gas station food.

Weirdest shopping trip ever.
I tried a lot of new foods. They didn't all work out but this is the first trip I've returned from without feeling like a bloated, over full, constipated wreck. 

I also started replacing my side of fries with a salad or a bowl of fruit.

At home, I switched to Ryvita, for my crackers, I fry my own tortilla chips when I want some, and I no longer by loaves of bread. As a side product, I eat way fewer chips and much less butter, without making an effort or meaning too. 

Another dent in my grocery bill goes to my grass milk dairy products. I've been trying them off and on for the past year, only really committing for the last five months. Previously, aside from the cream I put in my coffee, I used low-fat milk products in an effort to reduce my saturated fats and cholesterol. Now, I'm full-fat everything as long as the cow eats mostly grass.

I also eat a lot more dairy. Once upon a time, it was assumed that I was lactose intolerant. There have been whole years that I avoided dairy because I connected skin flare-ups to milk. Now I eat milk, cheese and yogurt like my life depends on it. It's probably the base of my food pyramid, right next nuts, and coffee.

Despite my full fat dairy choices, my cholesterol stats continue to drop.

Also, since coming back from over seas, I don't eat as much meat as I use to, and what I do eat is mostly pork or some type of sausage. This was not as intentional as anything else but mainly because pork is the cheapest meat available and I love sausage, although it is not cheap.

EDIT: I forgot that another change I made was switching from conventional table salt to coarse salt from the Celtic Sea. I don't grind it, I just sparingly sprinkle full chrystals into my food. It's like salty rock candy or pop rocks! Fun, lol.

Overall, I do not know exactly which choice has made the difference. I still drink beer. I had a piece of cake last week and fries twice over the weekend. I still have wheat at least twice a week but I'm not paleo or low carb as I eat other grains a few times a week too. I barely eat vegetables and when I do it's mostly lettuce, onions, garlic, and celery, some of the most useless veg on the planet. I put six teaspoons of sugar in my several giant cups of coffee that also have so much fat in them I can usually see it floating on top. Most of my daily diet is dependent on cheese, sausage, and numerous handfuls of nuts. I often skip breakfast.

But still my total cholesterol and my LDLs have dropped by 10 points last year and my A1C has fallen from 6.2%, in the danger zone of prediabetes, to 5.4% , within the normal range, in the past two years. 

I've lost weight too but like my only other #transformationTuesday post, it's not much and not really what I'm about. I know weighing over 300 lbs is unhealthy, I know I will have so many more benefits in my health and beyond if I got up and went for a walk but, at the same time, my health is so much more than my weight alone. For a long time, my blood sugar and cholesterol have been health concerns, even when I was 100 lbs lighter and I feel like this is the most under control either have been. As long as my other numbers and indicators keep going down, my weight seems irrelevant, like what my doctor said.

My mental health is the best it's ever been, my blood is too now. I finally feel like I have a diet regime that is right for me and I would be happy to live with for the rest of my life. Now, I can really focus on my activity and make it work for me too.

Despite my past trials and tribulations and the work still ahead, I can see the edge of the forest, I'm almost out of the woods.

Until next time...

Friday, August 4, 2017

First Draft Friday: More Romance

First Draft Friday

Trying out a new idea for a post series where every Friday I post a rough draft. In my mind, this will something similar to my NaNoWriMo post but maybe less intense and only one day a week. The purpose is the same though: to encourage other writers. More often than not, we only get to see a finished polished version of fiction writing and it's very easy to get discouraged by their quality, even though we know, logically, whatever we're reading has a horrible first draft too. In my first draft posts, I want to share my first drafts as they are written more or less out of my brain. I say more or less because if I wrote the first draft longhand, then I'm usually going to clean it up a little bit or make all new mistakes or bad decisions as I type it up.

Today's post is late but better than the lack of posts over the past few weeks. I really enjoy these #firstdraftfriday posts. I'm very encouraged to write again, thanks to the series. But it doesn't make it any easier.

I very rarely write a story in order, from beginning to end straight through. The closest I get to doing so is when I write short stories. However, I rarely finish short stories anymore because I get stuck half way through and there isn't much space to jump around in these plot lines. "Romance" is a little different. A lot of my short stories start with an idea I have for an opening, I don't know much else beyond the beginning. I simply travel through the rest of the story like I'm looking for a light switch in the dark. For Romance, I knew the opening and the climax. I've written the opening, I'm stuck in the middle action, and so I've decided to skip ahead to the climax of the main conflict, not long before the end.

Please enjoy another first draft extract from "Romance". If you'd like to read the opening, click here.

first draft, incomplete,  793 words
By Stephanie Thompson

Can you come over? We need to talk.

Heather took an Uber to get there as quickly as possible. She stared at the text message the entire car ride. Misty wanted to talk, in private, face to face. She stared at the message hoping she wouldn't change her mind. If they were going to break-up, she wouldn't invite her over, right? She could do it through text. Ghost. Let their last argument be the end.

Heather scrolled through the texts since then.

There'd been the week. The whole week of no communication. When Heather had already thought she'd never hear from Misty again. When she cried every night, and every lunch break, and every time someone called her name. When she couldn't eat and only slept because she was emotionally exhausted.

Then the miraculous text. The game changer.

I can't go another day

Like every message before that HEather hadn't known what to say. Me neither? I love you? Please forgive me? I love yhou? Please take me back? I know we can work this out? Please, please, please?

I miss you.

I miss you too but...

A five minute pause. A five minute wait until the next message. Five minutes of hell that somehow felt worse than the week before it, which she hadn't thougth possible.

I don't know what to do.

I don't know either Misty. But I promise we can figure it out together. We only hve to know how we feel about each other.

How I feel doesn't make sense. I'm not gay.

We don't need labels. We can just love each other.

I don't think I can see it that way HEather. Whether I . . .

Then another lng pause. Longer than five minutes. She thought another text wouldn't come. She soaked another handful of kleenex waiting. Then the invitation. HEather couldn't move fast enough.

On my way

 The only pause in the journey was debating about cleaning up. She honestly couldn't remember when she last showered. Last brushed her hair. LAst changed clothes. Her face was red and raw. But she didn't want to wait and she didn't want to appear to be anything than what she was, emotionally devistated. Maybe it was a ploy, maybe it was manipulation, or maybe it wold be perceieved that way but HEather wasn't wired for those kind of mind games that was Misty's influence.

She shook her head. She was what she was, she was who she was, and she was going to be honest about it.

Getting out of the car, onto the street, HEather was struck by the weather. Hadn't it been raining? Wasn't it cold? She'd put on a coat, buttoned to the top, dug her fists deep into the pockets. She thought she was shivering.

Yet the sidewalk was dry. The air was dank with humidity and hot air. She shivered and sweat simaltaneously.

She knocked on the door with a shaking fist and waited.

Like she found herself doing so many times in recent memory, Misty regretted every momnent after she sent the "Can we talk" text to Heather. Every text before that. Every message, afternoon, thought, and tingle that she'd ever spent on HEather. She felt trapped in this web, a web she wanted, helped wove, and now she hated.

Why couldn't she leave things alone? They'd had the fight. The awful fight. The necessary fight. The relationship. . .. friendship . . . whatever ship ending fight.

She could have moved on with her life. Waited out that awful, bottom fo the pit, shattered heart feeling and on a few years have that time she "experimented" story to tell at a drunken bachlorette party or something.

But no. He chest had felt like it was caving in, like her ribs were facturing as the black hole of her heart consumed her from the inside out. She couldn't stand it. She felt like a part of her was missing. And it was stupid when a single text could end the suffering.

 After that was a differnent kind of suffering, when her reason came back and told her it was wrong. She wasn't attracted to women. Never had been and wasn't now. Yes the kiss had felt good, it was nice but that was beside the point. Kitty and puupy kisses were nice too, hugs from toddlers, and cuddling babies too.

The actual point was that this wasn't what she wanted. And no matter what philsophical social justice angle Heather wanted to make, the point was Heather had lied. And. . . it needed to end for real.  Misty needed closure. Something real, finite. An explanation, a nice to know you,  Whatt a weird summer, huh? and a have good life.

Her heart wasn't listenin though. IT soared with HEather's knock on the door.

I apologize for my bad typing but I'm switching between my laptop and my full-size keyboard a lot lately and the different spacing increases my typos exponential. Plus I've been drinking more caffeine than is probably healthy, which I'm sure doesn't help either.

Thanks for Reading :D

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Planner Year

Although I've always had a calendar, journal, notebook, or planner of one form or another, in the past year I've been fully immersed in the 'planner trend'. I graduated from a hand-sized weekly planner where I could jot down appointments and plans while easily fitting in my purse to a small DIY binder planner. After a few months in that, I started making handmade monthly journals. Then, due to forces outside of my control (airline weight restrictions prevented me from bringing all the supplies I needed while traveling overseas), I went to planning in my long term Recollections vertical planner. With a brief month in my handmade journal, I moved into a junk journal, and now I'm back to my Recollections planner.

This one picture for all the words above.
Obviously, it's been a very active year and through all of it, this is what I've learned about myself and my preferred planner style.

First off, while I've loved each of these different planner systems at the time I was using them, probably the least effective way to plan for me has been my junk journal.

A planner spread in my floral junk journal
I can't describe what the real difference is, why I can't seem to plan well with it but there are some general things that seem like cons. I feel like monthly planning and tracking is more difficult, there's no easy way to plan long term or even to the end of a month. Also, the weekly spreads are plain. There isn't much room to do weekly planning and daily planning on a single page was too much room and didn't help me feel organized.

On the other hand, I love the junk journal for journaling and memory keeping. It's so much easier and more fun to write down my experiences, add pictures from events, and keep ephemera. I'm definitely going to keep using a junk journal this purpose but I will leave the planning to another device.

Handmade Planners
I absolutely loved making these planners/journals. It was so fun choosing themes, putting together papers, and decorating with stickers and journal cards. I still get some of this fun when I'm making a junk journal but these small ones are different. I think because I decorated more with these as I wasn't trying to leave blank space for journaling at the time. They were too small for real journaling, which I wanted to do or the amount of memory keeping I also wanted. Plus, so much work went into making them, it didn't seem worth the pay off for planning purposes alone, especially when at the end of the month I had to make another one from scratch.

But I love making these so much, I'm considering making them for others to use as mini albums or monthly events like December Daily or NaNoWriMo.

Target DIY Planner
The Target planner inserts were the first things that got me into decorating my planner. At first, I just wanted to use up some old stickers but after a couple of months, it exploded into a full on obsession. And, at the time, I was all about horizontal planning as well as the simple customization and expandability allowed by the binder format.

After a few months, however, I felt like using the Target inserts as a base was sort of a waste of paper when I could simply use scrapbook paper alone or mixed media paper that would stand up better to the mixed media elements I used like Inktense, stamp ink, and watercolor. Plus, I sort of hated the new Target insert releases at the time.

Since I've made the switch, even though I've returned to a similar planning style, I don't miss this planner much. So much of my decorating revolved around trying to cover up the preprinted pages and everything I added, for memory keeping or tiny bits of journaling, seemed to get in the way of my planning, sort of making the customization pointless.

Inside Current Recollection Planner

I've recently relegated my entire planning life to my Recollections planner. I originally purchased this during a Black Friday sale at Michael's last year because I was making my month by month planners but still needed to plan up to six months ahead of time for various reasons. But, since my other experiments in planning have failed to offer an all in one solution, I've  now started using this as my main planner.

It's simple to plan in it since most planner stickers are sized for a similar layout and the vertical planner style just seems more organized some how. The paper is very nice and smooth and it comes with tabs, a pocket folder, stickers, and a zip up pencil case. Plus it has colors I love and have no problem working with. Planning takes no time and I can still decorate it so it's pretty to look at, which makes me want to look at it, which then encourages me to accomplish things.

Overall, I am disappointed that I couldn't find a form that allowed me to do everything I wanted the way I wanted to do it. I am glad that I got to experiment though and that I found a combination that I can live with: a junk journal for some tracking, memory keeping, list making, and journaling; a vertical planner for day to day organization and long-term planning; and a notebook for my creative writing.

In the past year, I've improved many skills from binding, sketching, coordinating, trimming, gluing, and going with the flow. I've learned I'm happier when there's pink in a layout and that it's okay to like something just because it's pretty.

So, how do you do your planning, journaling, or memory keeping? Have tried a bunch of things too or did you fall in love with one system right away? Let me know in the comments below :D

Until Next Time...

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Big Blogging Update: Thinking Edition

I've missed a few #firstdraftFridays, I think, and I haven't made a regular blog post in however long it's been, so I thought I'd stop by my own website make a few notes about what I've doing or thinking about doing.

It may or may not be surprising to learn that I've been doing a lot of thinking. I'm always thinking, especially about what platforms to be active on and how to adhere to habits of all kinds. I definitely will keep up my blog such as it is but I also want to set up a stand alone website. I don't know how much longer I will keep my Facebook page or if I'll ever update my Tweets outside of NaNoWriMo. Thinking about what I want to do with my YouTube channel and whether I should start a Patreon. So I've been thinking a lot but not finding any answers I guess.

I've also been traveling. It has dawned on me, as of late, that I am a constant traveler. But like accidentally. Not that I accidentally travel but that I've never intended to be much of a traveler. For as long as I can remember, I've gotten violently motion sick on every single form of transportation known to man. Not to mention the anxiety caused by going to new places. And yet, this year, I've spent nearly four months sleeping under rented roofs and in strange beds. The only type of transport I haven't been on is a boat. In the last week, I've slept in 4 different states. I visited friends in Maryland over the weekend and last week I was visiting my sister in Alabama while we attended the Stamp and Scrapbook Expo in Georgia. I've had so much fun, met so many new people, and tried loads of different foods, beds, and coffees. I might be adding a lifestyle or travel element to the blog to keep up with all my adventures. Probably just as soon as I figure out how to take better photos from the height of fun.

So many thoughts, so little time

In other news, I've got a regular job with an actual paycheck. I get paid to write internet articles. It's pretty freaking cool actually. But it's, naturally, taking up time. Time where I use to think a lot. Then after the thinking, I would write or art. But now I struggle constantly with my time and trying to find the time for filming, then editing, or writing, then editing, taking pictures, and editing, and posting. But you know, also earn that paycheck, and think and eat and sleep and supposedly work out. Basically, I'm trying to manage life and it's been a long time since I've had to answer to someone else, where any amount of my time wasn't my own. At the same time, I'm psyched to have a job where the hours and location is flexible and pants are optional. I'm figuring it out or I will eventually.

Also, I've reached that part of the year when I want to WRITE ALL THE THINGS. I'm very inspired to not only write current projects like Zombie Zorority, SpiderWeb Door, Romance, Consumption Divine, PB & J, and Sun in October but also NaNoWriMo pieces like The Horrorphiles and Write What You Know, which I wasn't sure I would go back to work on. Not to mention that I'm also thinking ahead to this year's NaNoWriMo and considering what new project I might work on then too.

I'm also thinking about Christmas.

Oh and I'm thinking about my next journal. I was going to make a mermaid journal, mostly because I want to make it, not to use it. I really don't know what I actually want to use next. But I'm getting down to the end of my floral junk journal and I don't know what I want to use for August and September. I guess logic might dictate doing autumn stuff but I don't know if I have enough autumn based supplies to make full-size journal. Maybe I will combine with donuts and coffee because I'm mad excited about PSL season and I keep buying donut stuff, so I need to use it sooner or later.

Anyway, I will get back to posting #firstdraftFridays, and YouTube videos, and Instagram photos, and maybe even more blog posts too. We shall see.

Friday, July 7, 2017

First Draft Friday: Poetry

Some of the first things I ever wrote were poems. Melodramatic, pretty awful poems. I can't say that I've gotten any better at writing poems but I write them less and I'm under no illusion that I'm a poet. I use to think it was because I wasn't creative or artistic enough to be a truly good poet. Now I think I'm too fond of wordiness, instead of imagery, and I play a rhyme scheme to death, oftentimes abandoning sense and meaning just to make a rhyme (cause it's fun).

Anyway, only very recently did I discover that poems had first drafts too and could be edited to be made better. I don't know why this hadn't occurred to me other than, aside from a few Shakespeare sonnets, and an ass ton 16th-century literature (surprise, also mostly sonnets) I never took a poetry class in college. I avoided it like the plague, still feeling that I didn't have that magical, mystery quality that made a poet a poet.

But that has never stopped me from being possessed by the spirit of poetry every now and then and writing bits and pieces here and there. Now I have this idea that I might tinker around with them and make them stronger, or at least make me more happy about them. We'll see.

In the meantime, here's some first draft poetry for the first time on this First Draft Friday.

Pictured: tinkering
The Words I Say [first draft]
A poem by Stephanie Thompson

I have to say words but the words don't matter still I have to say them anyway

The words I say have no power once I say them but inside me they fester and make me rotten

The words I say don't matter not their order not their meaning I only say them to say something
say anything at all

Because the words I say don't matter
it's the silence words I don't say kill me
silent assassins with silence kill me

Then the words I said wouldn't matter
and my secrets stay secret with me
and I won't have to say them any more

Thanks for stopping by! :D

Friday, June 30, 2017

First Draft Friday: Milo

First Draft Friday

Trying out a new idea for a post series where every Friday I post a rough draft. In my mind, this will something similar to my NaNoWriMo post but maybe less intense and only one day a week. The purpose is the same though: to encourage other writers. More often than not, we only get to see a finished polished version of fiction writing and it's very easy to get discouraged by their quality, even though we know, logically, whatever we're reading has a horrible first draft too. In my first draft posts, I want to share my first drafts as they are written more or less out of my brain. I say more or less because if I wrote the first draft longhand, then I'm usually going to clean it up a little bit or make all new mistakes or bad decisions as I type it up.

first draft, incomplete, 1,424 words
By Stephanie Thompson

Milo Francis was a mild mannered,boring, administrative assistant type. He does nothing, goes no where, and talks to no one for the most part. In the morning, he eats his cold cereal while watching the local morning news, alone in his one bedroom garden level apartment. Then he drove his compact hatch-back through two hours of bumper to bumper traffic for a forty mile journey to his office. He doesn’t listen to music or talk radio. He was alone with his thoughts of which there were little.

He’d been told he was a simple man. Normally by girlfriends who seemed to like it at first but eventually they drifted away for something more complex.
At work he did his job quietly and diligently. He worked in the offices of an It management group. His title was administrative assistant. That’s just a fancy term for office clerk. Or gopher. He made copies and collated, he alphabetized files but didn’t actually file, he stamped and packaged out-going mail but he didn’t handle the incoming, he placed and collected the management provided lunches for the office every Friday. He found it hard to quantify what he did everyday. So he just didn’t talk about it. This solution worked as there wasn’t anyone for him to talk to at work and he had no friends.

Milo ate lunch alone everyday. He did this mainly by design.  He ate his lunches very early and took his break late in the afternoon. This is when the break room was the emptiest and he wasn’t surrounded by other peoples cooking smells or the sounds of the mouths masticating. He couldn’t stand the sound of other people eating

Technically he shared his office with a file clerk but she worked only part-time and spent most of that time in the file room. There was one receptionist who answered the phones and dealt with incoming mail and deliveries. She worked on the first floor and Milo rarely spoke to her, mostly because he received no calls, messages, or mail. Most of the rest of the workers were supervisors, technicians, and managers. They were too busy to make friends with the quiet man in a lonely small office at the end of the hall. They had more of a relationship with his inbox and email than they actually had with Milo himself.
Milo wasn’t much better at having friends in high school either. His mother hadn’t understood what they problem was, mostly because there was no real problem. Milo was great at making friends. Everyone liked talk to him. But when he had nothing to say back, they like the girlfriends, drifted to people of more substance.

After work, Milo ate dinner a sports bar not far from where he worked. When he first started working his office mates use to go to the bar for happy hour and invited Milo along. Eventually the bar changed their happy hour specials and people started going else where. But Milo liked their BBQ pulled pork and beef brisket as well as their crispy thick french fries. The tv’s blared sports broadcasts loud enough to cover the sounds of the other people. Milo had a couple of beers and waited for traffic to thin out. His commute home took less than an hour.
In the evening he was partial to tea. He drank several cups while watching prime time television. He didn’t have any one show he watched regularly, he flipped around finding episodes he might like. A lot of the time he ended up watching Food Network.

Not too early and not too late, he showered, put on pj’s and went to bed.

At this point, you might be asking why anyone would tell a story about Milo Francis who is so utterly unremarkable and dull that his everyday thoughts and moments would bore any other living person to tears. The answer? Because everything in his life is about to change.

One day, it doesn’t matter which, Milo’s phone rang. At the first ring he jumped a little in his chair. His office was silent, the door being shut against the outside office noise, that the brash telephone sound was like a bolt of lightening out of the clear blue sky. On the second ring he still wasn’t quite sure what was happening. There was no reason for anyone outside the office to call him, he didn’t even think his mother had his work number, and his colleagues would find it quicker to im or email him rather than pick-up the phone. He couldn’t think of another time anyone had ever call him.

He answered on the third ring. “Milo Francis,” he said. Even his greeting was bland.

From the other end came the sultry voice of a woman. If people could purr it would probably sound something like this stranger’s voice. “Do you dream of paradise?”

“Excuse me?” This was not at all what he expected.

“Paradise is waiting for you.”

 “Are you trying to reach someone?”

“Don’t be afraid to accept this extraordinary offer to a paradise like no place else on Earth.”

“Miss? Is this a sales call? I’m sorry I’m not interested in a vacation deal at this time.”

A not quite static-y silence emanated from the phone set.

There was still silence.

Milo looked at the phone and held it to his ear again.

No breath sounds. No clicks. No barrage of noise from other telemarketers in the back ground.

Only silence.

He slowly hung the phone up. Then he just stared at it. He fully expected it to ring again. He’s hung up on telemarketers before and they always call back. More than that, he wanted her to call back. He wanted to hear that voice again. Listening to the disembodied voice was like being wrapped in warm silky chocolate. It may sound crazy but he had a sneaking suspicion that he wanted to listen to that voice for the rest of his life.

That night, after watching food network again and taking his routine shower, he lay in bed still thinking of that voice. He tried to envision what the person attached to the voice would look like but he was a man of little imagination so he couldn’t conjure an image. All he could picture was a phone.

The next day it would be fair to say the previous day’s phone call felt more like a dream than reality. The mundane steps of everyday life overwhelmed whatever fantasy he could muster and the mystery voice was just a vague memory.
Until the phone rang again. It was about the same times as the day before because he was just about to go on break again.

Could it be? Could the stranger calling to entice him to paradise again? He never received calls at all, so two days in a row, near the same time? It had to mean something, he decided. He answered the phone.

“Milo Francis.”

“Do you dream of paradise?”

He listened this time. Was it a computer? A telemarketer?

“Paradise is waiting for you.”

Again he listened. There was no background noise, no music or tropical breezes. There wasn’t even the sound of breathing.

“Don’t be afraid to accept this extraordinary offer to a paradise like no place else on Earth.”

“Ok,” he said at last.

Just like the day before there were no clicks, no hold music, no more questions or instructions or vacation offers. There was nothing. He spent his 30 minute break listening to silence on the telephone.
If during the day the even was at the back of his mind, during off hours, it was the only thing on his mind. While at the sports bar, over dinner, despite the beers, on the sommute home, whil watching Food Network, in the shower, and in bed.
What kind of call was that? Was it some kind of joke from the sales team? He didn’t very often have opinions about people, but the sales guys were kind of jerks. The very thing that made them good at sales, talkative and outgoing, made them generally mouthy and loud when they weren’t tyring to sell you something. More than once they’d made fun of his lack of love life. Admittedly the jokes stopped when Milo had no reaction to them. He neither fought back or joined in the laughter, he just was. Sometimes he would flatly respond, “Ha, Ha, guys.” But that was all. Would they do this?

Thanks for Reading!

Friday, June 16, 2017

First Draft Friday: Romance

First Draft Friday

Trying out a new idea for a post series where every Friday I post a rough draft. In my mind, this will something similar to my NaNoWriMo post but maybe less intense and only one day a week. The purpose is the same though: to encourage other writers. More often than not, we only get to see a finished polished version of fiction writing and it's very easy to get discouraged by their quality, even though we know, logically, whatever we're reading has a horrible first draft too. In my first draft posts, I want to share my first drafts as they are written more or less out of my brain. I say more or less because if I wrote the first draft longhand, then I'm usually going to clean it up a little bit or make all new mistakes or bad decisions as I type it up.

first draft, incomplete, 727 words
By Stephanie Thompson

That was all she wanted in life. What she's always wanted.
She knew it wasn't like aKethryn Heigel movie or a Meg Ryan movie or even an Audrey Hepburn flick. She wanted that Old School romances Wuthering Heights, Romeo and Juliet . . . something else. Where being in love was torturous, physically hurts, only short bursts of passion - whether sex or violence, then everyone dies in the end. Where love's drawn out will they won't they magic and both is impossible.That's what she wanted. So how did she put that in a profile blurb?
She'd date plenty but nobody just right. Nice people, funny people, dumb people but not magical people. Not violent, terrible love people.
And now she was in Starbucks at 2 or 3 in the afternoon, at whatever times moms were picking up kids these days and trying to muster one dazzle in he lifetime before closed up shop and resigned herself to being the single friend. Always avail; able for dinner, for movies and shows, wine weekends and plus ones. Which was fine of course. It was her life, she loved her friends but she needed. . .
Well if she knew what she needed then her dating profile would already full of  all the right words.

What am I looking for: Something Different

There was no reason she should notice this profile. Jack needed the date, it was his search, his computer. Plus she hated vague shit. So many guys said they were looking for something different and she was always like - If you can't define it, why the hell should I?

"So what do you think of this one?"
"I mean, I could be something different, right?"
"Dude, what's this . . . whos' this chick?"
"Uh. . .Mister105 . . . I don't know there is no real info here."
"And the pic?"
"Just the one/"
"With her face half behind her hair looking the other way? I mean what'st he point?"
"Well you have to have the one picture at least. . . to have a profile, you know."
"So you're asking what I think about the girls who put up the bare minimum and can't even define what she wants?"
"This is balls." He pushed the laptop away from him , the screen facing her. "I mean I don't know. What did they do in older times, like when you were in the dating scene."
She  scoffed but was only half paying attention. Omly half paying attention because the woman in the laptop was staring at her.

She was still staring @ her later that night. After Jake closed the laptop and put on a movie and fell asleep half way on the couch.

Her silky brown hair half covered her face and she was turning away from the camera, the start of a smile on her face, a light in her eyes. Dylan HEather could already feel her hand on hers pulling her someplace secret, someplace magic.

Hello Mysterious, I could be something different. -H

The message from HEath312 was better by miles than any other she'd gotten. First Heth 312 got her screen name which no other man had. Second his message was more than just Hey, Hi, or a dick pic. finally, his screen name was Heath, like the stars of their tortured love were already aligning.

She hit reply.

It took her took weeks to write five words. To be fair it took her most of the time to decide to join the site then pick the picture then finally send the message. And most of 'sending
 the message involved writing/deleting and rewriting until five words were all she could manage.

Heather's heart pounded when she got the notification.

H- Different is as different does. What's the most interesting thing you've ever done? - Mysterious

She didn't want to respond right away - too worried she wouldn't say something clever, or interesting enough but she also didn't want to leave it too long and lose out on the flutter in her belly and the flush in her checks. Should she be naughty and ask 'clothed or naked/' Should she indicate her party level and ask 'drunk or sober?" Or should she just answer it plainly enough? But then what was the most interesting story she had to tell? She'd met Mitch Albom once at a book signing but that wasn't interesting per se, just a brush with fame event.

I definitely want to finish this one but the 'I don't know what is intersting/witty/clever enough' dilemma that Heather's facing is identical to my own writing dilemma. Thus the story is paused at the moment.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 9, 2017

First Draft Friday: Through the Spiderweb Door

First Draft Friday

Trying out a new idea for a post series where every Friday I post a rough draft. In my mind, this will something similar to my NaNoWriMo post but maybe less intense and only one day a week. The purpose is the same though: to encourage other writers. More often than not, we only get to see a finished polished version of fiction writing and it's very easy to get discouraged by their quality, even though we know, logically, whatever we're reading has a horrible first draft too. In my first draft posts, I want to share my first drafts as they are written more or less out of my brain. I say more or less because if I wrote the first draft longhand, then I'm usually going to clean it up a little bit or make all new mistakes or bad decisions as I type it up.

For my first, non-NaNoWriMo post, I'm submitting the first draft of "Through the Spiderweb Door". You may remember this title from a previous post where I shared a writing process video of me writing this story. Now, here's what I wrote that day, plus a little more.

Through the Spiderweb Door
first draft, incomplete, 1,734
By: Stephanie Thompson

The sun wasn’t even up yet and she was already suffocating in humidity and tortured by bug bites. Jocelyn was ready for summer to say goodbye. As it was she kept putting one foot in front of another.

“You still with me Jlyn?”
“She looked up to respond and caught her heavy booted foot on God knows what. She stumbled, bit her tongue, and fell face first into a spider web.
“Fuck,” she said, spitting blood onto the rocky path in front of her.

Jocelyn stood up. She wiped her dirt streaked and scratched up palms on her new khaki shorts. Then she looked ahead for Dean and his dog Bruce to answer his question and say she was fine though she was significantly less fine than she was a moment ago which already wasn’t that fine to begin with. Instead in the space we he should have been there was nothing - a blank space at the top of the hill where Dean and Bruce had been waiting on her an instant before.

Since the beginning of their hike both man and dog were consistently a few yards ahead of her but always in sight and she could hear Bruce’s heavy pant.  Now there was silence. No Bruce. No Dean with his hiking stick, smiling, happy like there was nothing better in the world. There was just Jocelyn, alone, wishing she’d never put ‘loves the outdoors’ on her dating profile.

The early morning light trickled through the trees. A dazzling spectacle of flickering light that made her dizzy. She spat more blood from her stinging, throbbing tongue. She wiped sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand. She looked behind her and saw no familiar land marks. They had passed several on the way to their (her) current spot: a tumble down house, an open glen edged with thistle, and most recently a fork in the path. They’d gone down the right-hand path (Dean said it had less hills and made for an easier loop- great for beginners) with blue flags (blazes he called them). Jocelyn remembered because from their first date on Jocelyn associated blue, any shade of blue, with Dean’s eyes. ‘Blue like you,’ she thought though it made little sense outside her brain.
Just past the fork was a slight incline up into the trees. Dean and Bruce were at the top. She’d fallen at the bottom. But now behind her was none of that. There was a big open meadow of knee high grasses. Then behind that more tress. This wasn’t the same place they’d walk through. No fork. No blazes. No blue. No Bruce. No Dean. Jocelyn looked in front of her again in case it all was a trick of the dappled sunlight and they were waiting for her all along. He was not.

Should she turn back, fork or no fork? She should she go forward? Hope to catch up ? She knew she wasn’t where she was, where she should have been, but maybe she was wrong about that anyway. Maybe they’d walked further down the blue (like you) path further than she thought and Dean was just over the small hill in front of her, waiting. Or should she stay where she was, wait herself , for anyone to find her, the way all the safety guidelines said to do when you’re lost.

“What is it?”
“You mean, who is it?”
“It came through the door.”
“Through the secret door?”
“How did it find it?”
“It has the heart, obviously.”

“Hello?” Jocelyn asked the open air because while there was voices she couldn’t see anyone.

“It has a heart? Where?”

She looked around again, for the third or fourth time and still got nothing for her search. The voices continued.

“Stop asking me questions. We have to go get Dariham.”

“Wait, don’t leave. I need help,” she directed the plea all around her hoping to discover the source  of the voices and maybe get some actual help, like directions back to a reality without invisible voice or perhaps a drink of water.

“What kind of help?” asked voice 1.
“Don’t talk to it.” ordered voice 2.
“But shouldn’t we take it with us, to Dariham instead of leaving it here to be eaten? Drama will be pissed we bring him all the way out here and it’s gone.”
“I need water . . . or maybe soap. I could go with you. I just . . . I just. . .I can’t see you. I don’t know where you are.”

Sweat beaded on her arms, dripped over her brow, soaked into her shirt. Her stomach bubbled with unease. Her dizziness increased as she kept spinning around trying to find the source of conversation and look out for whatever it was that might eat her. The whole adventure was worn pretty thin even before she fell. Now, she was very much through with the whole ordeal. She wanted a place to site, a cool drink, and air conditioning. If she had to follow an invisible voice or two to that end then she was willing to do that. She was as sensible as the next woman.

There came no reply however.

Jocelyn sat on the ground, tired of going in circles. She sat right in the middle of the path careful to avoid the places she’d spat. Shelled the knot on her right boot, loosened the laces, and pushed the boot off with her left foot. She repeated the process on the left and peeled off her socks. They were damp and a relief to remove. Free of the weight of the boots, Jocelyn felt better. A strong warm wind rolled across her skin and while it was just as hot and humid as it had been, it felt like a sigh of relief to her. Somehow it made even her tongue throb less.

She closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath and then blew it out through her pursed lips and whistled a bit as she exhaled. She needed to think of what to do next. Trouble was she didn’t know hot to begin. She was injured but not severely, only annoyingly. Yet if she didn’t wash the dirt from her scraped up palms, it could get worse, though it wasn’t likely. She wasn’t hungry. She was some kind of lost but not in a way she could explain and she didn’t full heartedly believe that any amount of directions could get her back to where she belonged. Then in the back of her mind lingered the  danger of being eaten by unseen creatures.

Jocelyn laughed out loud and lightly tapped her forehead. Of course, she was being ridiculous and this was just a dream she was having. She was laying unconscious in the back of Dean’s car probably. She must have hit her head when she fell - she wouldn’t know any difference being knocked out. That’s why everything was wrong and didn’t look the same. That’s why the voices.

She laughed again. She scooted off the path, until her back was against a tree. She was so much more at ease, having solved the puzzle.  Soon she’d wake up in the hospital, her family around her, maybe Dean if the entire thing didn’t scare him off.  For now she flexed and pointed her toes, stretching out her legs. She watched the grass of the meadow bend in the wind behind the trees, and watched the sun rise in the sky. Fuzzy sleepiness made her eyelids heavy. A few thoughts moved through her mind, slowly and lazily. She tried to imagine what kind of thing could possibly eat her. She questioned the sanity of waiting for invisible voices to come back for her and if she’d be waiting forever. She unwillingly thought of Waiting for Godot and really hoped her Wizard of Oz style coma dream wasn’t going to boil down to some post-modern existential bullshit. When her eyes closed she wondered if she should sleep in a dream caused by a concussion then she was asleep and wondered no more.

“I told you we should have taken it with us? Now it’s gone. Or dead. Dariham is going to hide us for making him come out here.”

Jocelyn hear the voices and pushed through the vestiges of sleep to talk to them before they scampered off again. Maybe she’d even see them this time too.
She opened her eyes. The sun was no longer over the field anymore but directly overhead burning down hot and strong through the leaves. The wind had stopped blowing and everything still and silent. She rubbed her eyes, yawned, and stretched out her arms like a cartoon princess. It struck her that waking up still in a dream instead of in a hospital probably meant something bad was happening in real life. Was she in a coma? Was her brain irreparably damaged? Was she dead?
But that seemed less when important when she caught sight of at last of the sources of the voices. There were three of them, including the oft-mentioned Dariham, presumably the one 10 feet behind the others since the other two were still talking about him. All three of them shimmered in the open sunny meadow like they wore silver iridescent body paint or glitter. Jocelyn shielded her eyes and squinted hoping they became clear, easier to see but there was no coup d’oeil. They shimmered and further the two up front were flying. Floating above the grass, their toes making trails in it as their large dragonfly wings brought them closer to her.

As if silver flying creatures weren’t hard enough to believe, none of them were taller than four feet tall. They didn’t look like children, per se. They looked like full-grown men. Like Greek statuettes come to life wearing just as many clothes too. It was nearly impossible to believe her own eyes.

“Now where did it get to?”
Jocelyn didn’t step out onto the path. She wasn’t hiding per se but she wasn’t as eager as before to be found or follow these creatures back to their lair. As angelic and magical as they appeared, an uneasy acid bubbled in in her stomach.
When the two approaching her got to the edge of the trees, they disappeared again. They flashed into existence

I don't know if I'm going to finish. It's one of those stories where sometimes I think I will and other times I think I won't. If there's more I will share it so you can find out what happens.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Write What You Know, Part 32

Original Preamble

This is my first draft for NaNoWriMo 2016 novel Write What You Know. It's only a rough draft with very minimal editing and will, more than likely, contain, typos, grammatical errors, plot holes, or conflicting descriptions. It also includes notes to myself and excerpts from the novel the MC is writing that I try to indicate through various formatting that doesn't always translate well with my limited html skills. Furthermore, this particular novel is... there's no delicate way to put this... this novel is fucked up. So, especially in this rough draft crazed sort of NaNoWriMo way of writing, it may be difficult to read or follow.  I'm still posting it here because I want to shed more light on the process of writing to encourage and inspire other writers or readers who are interested. To learn more about this project, or my daily NaNoWriMo postings, please read Day 1-7.

Additional Preamble

NaNoWriMo 2016 ended 6 months ago and I never finished releasing my rough draft, for various reason but chiefly that I was without internet service on my computer for three of those months. I've debated a lot about re-establishing these postings mostly because I don't really think there were readers waiting with baited breath for the rest of this hunk of junk rough ass draft. But then I remembered that the point of me doing this isn't for the number of readers but to inspire and to finish things. The internet is forever right? Even if it means nothing now, some internet archaeologist could dig this up 200 years from and say . . . I don't know something. Or maybe there's that one other person out there right now and this is exactly what they need. Like Feida Kahlo said:
       --I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre...I hope that you are out there and you read this and know that yes it's true I'm here and I'm just as strange as you.-- (Wikiquote)
This is for you, other weirdos.

Write What You Know, Part 32
By Stephanie Thompson,  1, 496 words

Read: Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25, Part 26, Part 27, Part 28, Part 29, Part 30, Part 31

Everyone arrived at the house within minutes of each other. It would have been funny under any other circumstances. Cassandra came first, then Jennifer, Then Riley.
Cassandra had made it to the back of the house before Jennifer came in the front door. Helen hadn’t told her where in the house the goddamn money was and she was about to regret the decision to come here. Until she heard that voce.
“Hello? Cassie?”
She laughed to herself. She laughed at Helen. How did she survive at all when everything she did turned to shit, the exact opposite of what she intended. She wanted to keep her away from Jennifer and yet there she was in her living room calling for her.
“Honey, your home.” She said laughing and without leaving the room. She was didn’t want Jenny to see the state she was him. Her hands shook and sweat beaded on her brow,
“Where are you, Cassie?”
“You’re fine where you are. What are you doing here?”
“I came to find you I guess. I needed to say something, I think.”
“Is it an apology? Because if not I’m not interested.” 
“An apology?”
“Let me guess you don’t think you did anything wrong? You never, EVER think you’ve done anything wrong. So fucking blameless, you’d think you were a saint.”
“I’m not blameless. I’m not guilt free. I’ve done plenty of things wrong. But none of them to you. I did everything I could for you. I loved you.”
“You promised me forever. FOREVER. But you were hooking up with that little slut at that stupid store. And then once you got me locked up you ran around with everyone you could find. You had the audacity to lie to my face.”
“I never, ever cheated. There’s been no one for me before or since. You know there can’t be. YOu know that. You were the one who ruined forever,” she said then immediately regretted. 
Cassandra laughed bitterly. Maniacally. She came around the corner from the back of the house somewhere. She was outlined in darkness. Her breath came in ragged puffs like the Big ad Wolf. Jennifer could just make out the switchblade in her hand. The sound of it’s blade sliding out was unmistakable.
“You ungrateful bitch. You locked me up and left me alone to rot. IF that’s your idea of love, you’re more fucked up than I am.”
“You tried to kill me. And not a little bit.You tried hard. You wanted to kill me. You want to kill me now don’t you?”
“Then why didn’t you? Why didn’t you do that two years ago? Why didn’t you do that last week? Why don’t you do it right now?”
“BECAUSE. . .”
Her scream echoed in the house. IT started raining outside. The loud rain that made everything sound like it had tin roof with it’s assault.
“I don’t just want you dead. I want your life in tatters. I want every scrap of dignity you worked for with your fake names and shitty stories to be made a mockery in print, like you did with my life. Then I want to kill you.”
“I didn’t mock you. It’s not even directly you. I immortalized what was special about us. I immortalized out love.”
Jenny said nothing. Coming here was a mistake. She wasn’t going to get anywhere with Cassandra. Everything she said was just an excuse. She finally understood how all those doctors judges and cops felt when she would try to explain her actions. IT was bullshit or insanity to avoided consequences and responsibility. Cassandra used the books as an excuse for her hate, and used her suspicions and doubt to mistrust her, and deny herself the happiness she could have had.
“I lied to you once. Exactly one time. When we met in New York that time. I told you I was the same person. I told you kept the bracelet but I didn’t. I wasn’t the same person. I hadn’t been the same since you were so overwhelmed by hate that you tried to kill me not once but two ways at the same time.” So it was two lies at the same time and one charge. Just like you.” (Um, clear this the fuck up.)
“WHY DID YOU COME HERE? You’ve ruined everything again. You always ruin it.”

Detective Riley could here the women fighting from the other side of the door. He wanted to go in but the situation was so volatile he didn’t know what to do. So he backed away from the door and called  for back up, no lights no sirens. Then went back to listening because if something went down he would have to more as fast as physically possible to make sure it wasn’t a colossal fuck up. 

(I’m pretty sure this is some horrible coping but also did you forget it was raining? Because it definitely is and his ass should be soaked.)

“I’m sorry.” She wasn’t sorry for that. She hadn’t ruined anything but her twisted revenge plot but she was sorry that she couldn’t help her now. That she couldn’t save her then, that Cassandra couldn’t love and Helen, poor silent Helen was trapped inside her somewhere.
“No you’re not.”
She suppressed a laugh how was she always trying to laugh at the most inappropriate times. IF she survived this maybe she would work on that. But the funny thing was, No one ever believed her.
In the time she was busy with trying not to laugh Cassandra rushed up the short hallway and stabbed her. Again.
She couldn’t stop the laugh this time.

Detective Riley made all the wrong decisions and was too late. That’s what Hutchinson said when he suspended him. No one died he told himself to try make himself feel better. And he saved who know’s how many lives by catching her in the act, he added when that didn’t work.
HE’d known he was playing with fire in his approach but there was nothing saying that a different approach would have had a different or worse outcome. Including both of them dead and Helen on the run again. He had to wait for back up.
The good news was that she confessed. She confessed a lot. No matter what her public defender tried to do or say. He’d get one thrown out and she said it again. She’d say to everyone and and anyone who’d listen. And anyway, even if she didn’t talk, there was the DNA on her knife. And all that evidence in the hotel room. She killed them all. Kept their (SOMETHINGS) 32 people in total. All across the country. She was a sensation. 
It was enough to make him sick. Enough to make him quit. He’d see how his suspension went first.

Cassie’s knife caught a few more of Jennifer’s organs this time. Including a lung. Got her left cheek and all her limbs too. She’d gotten a lot quicker and better at stabbing. She’d had a lot of practice apparently. But Detective Riley was on her before she could finish the job this time. He even caught a bit of her knife.
She’d given her that knife for their first Christmas in freedom. When it was still good. Because it was pretty and it’s power was hidden, like Helen. And she’d said that she felt defenseless against everything, even her own mind. She knew it wouldn’t help against Cassandra but she though if at least in everyday life she could feel less defenseless against the world then maybe she feel strong enough against Cassandra too. Turns out she was master of irony. (Or you know something witt-yish).
She was in the hospital for a long time healing. For three weeks. Three weeks she avoided tv because the only news was Cassandra and she couldn't’ look at her face over and over again. So she wrote. She wrote another ‘NRaged novel. The last one. The one where Nikki dies for good. Fans will be sad that Danny doesn’t come back but there was a reason she’d killed him off. That love couldn’t last. One of them had to end of dead sooner or later. Like all of Nikki’s lovers. And she could keep living in the past.
All of her books sold like hotcakes because of The Ripper case. On the next book tour she got the best rooms she’d ever had. 
So everyone knew all her secrets. They knew everything about her now. There was no holding it back, not with the way Cassandra talked. It wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be. IT made interviews easier. To not have to keep up with all those lies. To tell the simple truth.
“So, tell us Jennifer, where did you get your ideas?”

“It’s the oldest advice in the book. I write what I know. Madness as love. Lies as Truth. And stab wounds.”

Thank you for reading!