The 777 Writer’s Challenge

I’ve been nominated by Aether House to participate in The 777 Writer’s Challenge. The rules? Go to the 7th page of my WIP, find the 7th sentence on that page, and then paste the following 7 sentences into my blog post. And then select 7 other writers for the challenge.

From Killer Orange, the fic I hopefully can finish this year!

Her gaze swept across the lawns of her neighbors, and she realized how much time had passed since she set out on this journey. The sun was already setting over the horizon behind the towering homes.

Her eye caught one of her new neighbors, briskly walking her two dachshunds down the sidewalk. Rebecca noticed her stiff back as she power-walked the two dogs skittering happily in front of her. The woman turned slightly to glance at her, and Rebecca tensed up, hoping she didn’t have to force a greeting. She felt instant relief when the woman quickly looked away, obviously bored and uninterested at her arrival.

She’d hoped that more of her neighbors were like this woman, and if they wanted nothing to do with her, then they would just leave Rebecca alone. 

For anyone who wants to do this, please take the challenge!

Cheers,

H.K. Rowe

Trying to Make a Comeback

So I suck at keeping up with this blog, but my goal this 2016 is to keep up with this more regularly. Let’s see how that goes! I’m definitely determined.

The main reason I haven’t been online is that I’ve been busy. Plain and simple. We’ve been trying to sell our house for more than two months and it’s stressful and daunting, and I honestly didn’t want to overload people with my personal battles with it. This is why I still keep an LJ, and I even suck at keeping up with that journal.

Now that we’ve got a contract with someone to buy our house, as well as a house to move into, I’m hoping my life will have more order after February.

I can’t tell you how much this whole process has disrupted my creativity. My house was basically torn apart, packed and put into storage. My safe haven writing room was stripped of my beloved books, artwork and files and made to look like nothing for house showings. It was very difficult for me to write in this space that no longer felt like my own. I hope this changes for the new place, but I will probably struggle through the malaise through the holidays as we pack some more in our old house.

In the meantime, I’ve just been making plans on what I’m going to write for 2016, drafting ideas, writing character profiles and basically writing down any haphazard thoughts that skim across my brain. I’m hoping to do some fiction prompts soon just get back into the swing of things.

Ready or not I’d like to get Killer Orange available for publication, as well as a second edition of Unbridled. Somewhere in between those projects I want to do some short stories.

I will be back trying to keep up with everyone. I hope to post some writing snippets soon.

I’ve missed this blog and everyone I follow, and I intend to make it more active again!

Cheers and Happy Holidays,

HK Rowe

#MondayBlogs – Goal Setting

I love how Monday rolls around and I get this strange motivation that the beginning of a week will be different than all those other “failure” weeks. I have this confidence that if I was able to drag myself out of bed at 6 am and work out to a particularly hard Jillian Michaels video, then I can conquer the world.

Today was no different. I woke up in a really good mood. I got 30 minutes of intense work out in, and I made my lunch and fixed my breakfast, and I had minutes to spare before my husband got ready to carpool to work.

I arrived at work feeling READY. I tasked out all the things I had to catch up on, and I made a plan. As usual, most of my work was done in the AM, and now I’m working on my goals for the evening.

If I’m this productive in the day, hey, why don’t I try that schedule again? Meaning – it’s a new week, I will go back to trying to work at an art/creative schedule after work.

I grabbed the post-its and opened my calendar and laid it out.

GOALS PER DAY:

– 30 minute morning workout

– 1 drawing/sketch

– 1 hour of editing/writing or 500 words of writing

– 15 minutes of yoga/meditation

– stay under 1500 calories

Seems doable right? But there’s always this underlying fear in the back of my mind that something is going to trip it out. Murphy’s Law has put a target on my back. The shotgun is ready, and he’s already digging pitfalls for me to encounter during my perfectly pristine week of simple goals.

Maybe I have time to still fill those goals in barring any trip ups. Maybe I have nothing to worry about.

But I made a pact with myself, and I’m the person that I can let down. Let’s see what happens.

I always bet on myself.

Cheers,

H.K. Rowe

Nonfiction Wednesday – Vision of Her

Vision of Her

I had a vision of Her, in the most beautiful clearing of a forest, a little slice of Summerland on Earth just for us.

She saw me weeping and took my hand, and She drew me to a hill glittering with yellow spring flowers and emerald green grass.

As She pulled my hand to follow, I saw Her face, Her smile – the brightest  I have ever seen, brighter than sunlight, and Her hair was long and flaxen, wild and windblown.

Her laughter was warm and soothing as a summer breeze and Her head had a crown of flowers atop of it.

Suddenly as we twirled, dancing and laughing together with our hands still entwined, fairies began to shimmer around us, playing ancient music of happiness and joy.

I laughed with Her. Danced with Her, and with Her eyes of moonlight, she gazed at me lovingly, warming me through my heart and soul.

We danced until the sun went down, where it felt like no time at all had passed.

Finally tired, we collapsed into the grass, cool from the twilight. I caught my breath, but She still held my hand.

I turned to look at Her, and She smiled one last time.

I followed Her gaze to the stars, and when I looked back, She was gone, returning to the Moon, but never really leaving me, looking down at me, watching and forever dancing with me within my soul.

© 2014-2015 H.K. Rowe

#MondayBlogs – High Expectations of Self

To everyone that writes out there I want you to know that I have faith in you.

I may not know you, I may have never read your work, but if you love to write like I do, I feel a kinship with you, so therefore I have faith with you.

I understand some days really suck for writing. Some days you can’t look at a white screen without getting nauseous or anxious. You post a poem or a flash fiction on your blog or journal and you don’t get any likes or comments. The world seems quiet and you feel like no one is paying attention to you, no one gets you, and it’s the loneliest most awful feeling ever.

Some days you may even want to give up writing altogether.

I’m telling you now – don’t do this to yourself.

Keep writing, even if one person in the whole world reads it and appreciates it – keep writing. Keep writing so much that people can’t help but stumble upon your work. TALK about your writing to others. Talk about them to your loved ones, your friends, and strangers on the bus or train.

If you’re an introvert – well, try to have bursts of extraversion and TALK about your writing. SHARE it. Don’t give up.

But remember this – don’t have high expectations of others when it comes to your writing. Don’t expect everyone to love it, rave about it, and tell you that you’re the best writer they’ve ever encountered.

The only one you should have high expectations of is yourself. The writer in you needs to write like you need to breathe. The writer in you needs practice, as well as gain exposure to other groups of writers to learn basic writing formulas and structure, grammar, and critiques. You need to expose yourself to how others write and what they think of your writing in order to develop a sharp mind and a thick skin.

You need to have a high expectation of yourself because you believe in your writing,  you know you can work through the pain, grief, anxiety and self-loathing and someday become confident and strong so that criticism HELPS you, and flames and nastiness bounce off you like nothing.

If your feelings get hurt, learn to be the bigger person and move on. Learn to accept that not everyone is going to like your work. It isn’t personal. If it IS personal, then maybe it’s that person who has issues – not you, because you’re strong, you’re a rock star, and you write 1000 words every day, and read other books, and go to the local writing group on Wednesdays.

Do what you need to do to be the best writer you believe you are.

When you share your work with others, and you engage with other writers and readers, you form relationships. You need to be genuine and sane, and for gods’ sakes, open your mind to their writing and opinions. Writing is never a one-way street. You don’t fling your work out there like pasta on the wall and expect it to stick to everyone’s favor. Engage with your followers, writers, and readers and become a real person to them. Don’t expect too much out of them, but try to be receptive to what they like and do. Share and have opinions. Encourage others and engage with them at a real, personal level.

I say this because forming a one-sided relationship in life never works. It can’t all be about you and not anyone else. You have that thick skin now, so you can talk to others and not let small things bother you that you’ll turn into a drama llama and then block and flame them on your posts. Remember when I told you to be sane?

The only person you can disappoint is yourself, and that’s how it should be. If you disappoint others and it cripples your writing ability so much that you want to quit writing forever, I wonder if it’s really important to you.

How important is writing to you exactly? And how important are you to yourself?

Cheers,

H.K. Rowe

Excerpt Sunday – Autumn Fire

From my Work in Progress Romance novel, Autumn Fire.


The dream shifted, and Sam was staring at Jon and Dori again in their kitchen, laughing and teasing each other. The sunlight seemed to drown them all in ethereal light, so bright that Sam could barely see Jon’s face. He saw Dori’s clearly, but not Jon’s.

He was heading out, beckoning Sam to come with him. When they’d gotten in the car, Sam could feel them driving – rolling through an endless tunnel of white light, cocooned in an unknown void. When the impact hit them, shattered glass littered around him, cutting through flesh and singing through the air. When he looked up, darkness killed the heavenly light, and Jon was slumped over in the driver’s seat, the metal fragment piercing his brain, spilling out his blood into the car and onto Sam. Sam could feel his own pain dulling when he’d seen his lifeless friend.

Over and over again he saw Jon die. The dreams, the memories, the fear played on an endless loop, trapping him in an amber web of his own terror, his own guilt that his young friend had died that day and some higher power had spared him.

Suddenly, he felt very wet, and he wondered if he was covered in blood, but instead, Sam was weeping, almost endlessly, the cries of horror and agony coming out in small whimpers, echoing through the black corridor as his friend laid lifeless beside him.

He couldn’t save him. Sam had saved him once from alcohol addiction. He’d saved him and helped him, and Jon had finally become a wonderful man – a soldier, a caretaker, and a loyal friend. Sam couldn’t save him from this. No matter how much the dream looped, Sam couldn’t save Jon from a fate like this.

He was gone. Jon was gone and Sam still couldn’t breathe or think the moment he realized his friend was gone, that he’d seen his death wedged in his mind like a cancer, haunting him and making him weep.

“Sam!”

He’d inhaled a sharp breath and his eyes opened in surprise. His cheeks were wet, and he turned to Dori, whose hands were on his shoulders, bringing him awake.

“You were crying,” Dori said. “I’m sorry; I didn’t realize you were sleeping.”

“No, it’s okay,” Sam said in a small, crackled voice.

“No, it’s not. Jesus Christ, Sam. Is this every night for you? These dreams about my brother?” she asked, and she slid next to him on the couch. Her thighs lightly grazed against his, and he felt stilled from the touch.

“Yes,” he answered her, unsure of how to feel about her closeness and worry. He’d always dealt with his demons alone, and he couldn’t burden her with knowing that her brother’s death had literally changed his life. And not for the better. He’d struggled every day with it, the memories, the trauma – and he couldn’t tell this sweet woman that her brother’s death had brought him so much struggle and pain.

© H.K. Rowe

#MondayBlogs – Time Management and Other Failures

Last night I made a post around 9:30 in the evening. Ideally, I should have set that up last night and scheduled the post, and then it’d be done and I wouldn’t have to worry about it. You would think on a Sunday I could make one damn post!

Saturday night I had the misfortune of getting a migraine. I get them a lot, though lately they’ve been rarer. I was not lucky Saturday night. It hit me while I was at a friend’s party and it lasted into the morning. It really ruined my schedule, which really stresses me out. In a perfect world, we were supposed to come home from the party, I could make my post and schedule it for the morning, and then I could get a good night’s sleep so in the morning I could wake up early and go through all the things on my Sunday to-do list into the evening. It would have been great! I had everything planned…

*sigh*

Unfortunately, my anxiety and migraines don’t care about my plans. My social life, my career, the dogs, and all those pesky last minute favors I do for others don’t care about my writing schedule. The weeks begin to melt away and once again my drafts go untouched. It’s been daunting trying to find time to write.

I read a ton of articles and blogs telling me I’d just be successful if I’d set aside DAILY  writing time. How cool would that be? If only my days were that consistent. Maybe I do four to five days a week? Maybe I do three? Maybe I wake up super early (not the time of the day really enjoy writing fyi) and write 300 words! Maybe I write at the same time of the day as Famous Writer A! Then I’d be successful.

I work two jobs. I take care of two needy dogs and a frazzled husband (he’s a social worker, ’nuff said). I take care of myself sometimes, you know – exercise, eating, hygiene. Occasionally I write. (I don’t even want to go into my drawing and art muscles – poor things.)

Perhaps this article is a tad bit cynical. Maybe I’m just whining. And I’m sure people have tons of advice. The challenge to find writing time is working with my own crazy schedule. How do I schedule a moment of peace within a tornado of chaos? Maybe I scale back some of my busy social and work things! Maybe… Well maybe I just learn to say no to others so I can say yes to myself.

I’d be happy to hear anyone else’s woes on how they have no writing time. I’d like to know if you solved your problem and if you found some balance in your own chaos. I can’t figure out myself yet. I can’t just write whenever I have the time! I need structure, and so far that’s been the one thing that’s been holding me back.

Cheers,

© HK Rowe

Nonfiction Wednesdays – Unclaimed Ring

Another old tale of mine… a family tale when I was a teenager.

About ten years ago when my great-uncle Homer died, my family acquired no lavish inheritances or priceless antiques. Following an ordinary auction, all that was left was a few cases of precious things. After sifting through service medals and faded dime novels, I found a dusty tarnished ring in a small pool table-shaped jewelry box.

It was odd that a lifetime bachelor like Homer would have such a feminine looking ring among masculine looking service medals. The ring looked like a diamond, but my grandmother said it was quartz. The quartz had clouded from all the time it was tucked away in the jewelry box. The gold wasn’t real either because it was tarnished underneath the ring. However, it certainly was an engagement ring.

As grandma sifted through old boxes of dishes, I put the jewelry box in my lap and studied its contents. I wanted to play a small game of pool with the top of the jewelry box, but sadly the cue and the tiny balls were glued to the top of the dusty green felt. I had no real interest in the medals after Grandma had told me they were standard issues for time in the service and going to World War II. He had no purple hearts; thus he didn’t do anything to keep my interest in the medals. After Grandma had bored me about how all her brothers were in the service and did this and that, I turned my attention back to the ring.

I tried the ring on, and, of course, it was too large for my ring finger. The only finger of mine that it remotely fit was my thumb.

“This ring was made for a big woman,” I said, a little baffled by the size of it. “Whose ring was this, Grandma?”

Grandma walked over looking quizzingly at the ring. “Oh.”

“Whose was it?” I asked when I saw her look at it in heavy concentration.

“Homer was going to marry some girl when he got back from the service.”

“What happened to her, Grandma?” I asked. The ring was still here. How could he give this to someone when it survived after his death and it belonged to no widow? “Was Homer married before?”

Grandma stepped back, and her face tripped into a daze, “No, your uncle never married. He was engaged to this woman and she sent him a ‘Dear John’ letter while he was stationed in Europe. After she had left him, he never saw another woman.”

“Wow! How cool!” I said, “Well, it’s sad too.” How dramatic! Without knowing this woman, I felt as though she was cruel to break my uncle’s heart for so long. I felt the urge to find this woman and let her know how she made my uncle feel until he died.

“Who was she, Grandma? What was her name?”

“Oh, I don’t remember. I think it was Katharine or Betty or something.”

“Wow! Can I keep the ring?” I asked.

She looked at me puzzled. “Sure, I guess. It’s not worth anything.”

Yes, it was, I thought. The ring held an amazing story within the cloudy quartz and tarnished gold plated band.

As I stared at the ring I thought about what really happened, and for some reason, I could only imagine in black and white. Two people were standing on a pier where thousands of soldiers were ready to depart. The woman was short and petite and had dark hair like Betty Davis and gentle feminine eyes like Ginger Rogers. She wore a medium gray hat, jacket, and shirt. She hadn’t pantyhose on because she couldn’t afford them. Her heels were scuffed and her gloves were slightly damp from crying. She gave her damp handkerchief to my uncle, who I could not imagine young. In real life, my uncle Homer was always mean looking and brooding. Was he always brooding about that lost woman?

Instead, I pictured my uncle tall like Gregory Peck and with a soft youthful face like James Stewart. He really didn’t want to leave her, but it was his duty to go for his country.

“I’ll write you,” he said softly as she choked on her breaths.

The scene faded into another where my uncle was in a dismal soldier’s bed reading letters by a weak gray light. His demeanor was more tired and disturbed than from the last scene. Reading letters was his only moment of comfort among the dizzying reality of war. As anticipation filled his face in opening a new letter, his face crumpled after he read the first couple of lines. The gray light fell weaker and was swallowed up into strangling darkness as my uncle slumped crying into his own lonely arms.

I could almost hear him reading her letter in his head. Like Anne Frank reading her diary, Katharine or Betty spoke calmly and full of hidden anxiety. Did she write her letter bluntly and shortly? Or did she write in great lengths and in much detail? I felt that if she had caused my uncle to be single for the rest of his life her letter must have been unfeeling and short.

“Dear Homer (that was his nickname and I never knew his real name), I know this may be hard for you to understand but I cannot see you anymore. I am sorry for the pain this will cause you but this long distance between us has made me restless. I can not wait any longer for you. I regret to tell you that I have met someone else. I hope you will understand this parting to preserve my happiness. Sincerely, Betty or Katharine.”

The only record of these two lovers was the ring that he had gotten overseas. He must have gotten it large enough for her to size down when he found out her real ring size. I envisioned him buying this ring in small English shop cheap because he could not buy pricey things on his soldier’s salary. I still feel this ring doesn’t belong to me even if I had inherited it. The ring was for only her finger and its value became richer than any diamond.

When I put the ring away I still think of the mysterious woman who could have worn it. I wonder what would have happened if she had waited and claimed this ring.

[Originally written in 2004.]

© 2015 HK Rowe

2015 Blog Posting Schedule

2015 is here! Happy New Year!

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I know we’re four days in, but I’ve been trying to catch up with things after the holidays, which has been rather difficult. I’ve been trying to post where I can that “Unbridled” is still on sale for $0.99 through the month, so that takes time as well. RL has thrown some curve balls as well: a party here and there, a funeral, housework and a sick dog. They all tend to eat up time.

I worked on a blog schedule for this year in an attempt to be a more proactive blogger than I have been. It’s still going to be difficult, but this comes with the indie author career so I’m ready to make the effort.

Starting tomorrow the schedule will go as follows:

MONDAY – writing/design blather and advice

WEDNESDAY – Nonfiction days: corporate, job search, self help and motivation

FRIDAY – Flash Fiction

SUNDAY – Excerpts! Excerpts on all current projects as well as promos!

Alright then! Let’s see how it goes. I’ll be posting Monday’s blog first thing tomorrow. See you then.

Cheers,

HK Rowe