Monday, January 7, 2019

How Do You Show Up?



An interesting thing just happened. As I was going over the final edits of my soon to be released novel, The Oblivious Billionaire, it occurred to me that (just maybe) an editor from a big five publishing house could one day be reading it and judging my writing worthy of a publishing contract.

The thought made me pause and rethink. I was a bit more careful and also a little bit sad that I hadn't been as careful in the past. I love this story. But then, I love all of my stories. They all deserved (but often didn't get) my best attention.

(A little background: I love the freedom of self-publishing. But I would also love the chance to work with and learn from a team of editors and a top-flight marketing team. My friend Greta Boris and I are collaborating on a series that we've decided to--if possible--traditionally publish. Our current plan is to market our first in the series to our dream agents and editors until all four books are written. If we haven't been able to sell it by then, we will self-publish. But this isn't my topic at hand.)

In retrospect, I should have treated all of my books as if they were about to be read by the most discerning readers. Just like those looking for love should always dress and behave as if their forever-someone is right around the corner. Just like we should live everyday as if it's our last--which I know sounds sounds cliche, but it's so true. Just like Zach learns in The Oblivious Billionaire, life can change in an instant.

How we show up may or may not matter in the grand scheme of things, but the Butterfly Effect tells that even minutiae matters. (That could be a cool book title.)

but·ter·fly ef·fect

/ˈbədərˌflaɪ əˈfɛkt/

noun
  • 1.(with reference to chaos theory) the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere.

People are going to want to know what happened to Zach, but I don't make it very obvious intentionally. I briefly mention the dead rabbit laying nearby. The idea grew out of a personal experience that I don't even really remember. I only learned about it from my parents and siblings. The story is that while my sister was driving on a country road (we lived in what a college boyfriend called the Wilds of Washington) a dead rabbit crashed through the windshield of my sister's car. It must have fallen with a great amount of speed from a great height to be able to shatter the windshield--so that could be one explanation. Another, maybe even more likely, it's not unusual for someone who's had a concussion to black out--maybe even several years after the head trauma. And Zach has had, because of his lengthy football career, one too many blows to the head.






THE OBLIVIOUS BILLIONAIRE
CHAPTER 1


Shafts of sunlight shot through the trees and sparkled on the tall waving grass. Zach breathed in the summery air carrying scents of sea and salt and campfires. The Top of The World scenic lookout lay just ahead of him. From there, he would be able to see the Channel Islands, but for now, he contented himself with the manzanitas’ twisted trunks, the cheerful poppies, and the scrub oaks that lined the rugged path.
He’d been warned about hiking alone, of course, but he’d been warned against many things. Warnings he mostly ignored. He knew dawn and dusk were feeding times. But in all his years of hiking, he had yet to see a mountain lion. Of course, that didn’t mean they hadn’t seen him. He often came across coyotes, sometimes deer, an occasional rabbit. Owls, crows, hawks, and sometimes even buzzards flew overhead. In fact, at that moment, he heard an eagle cry. Looking skyward, he spotted a magnificent eagle soaring overhead carrying a large animal clutched in his talons.
A sudden sharp pain dropped him to his knees. His hand went to his temple. Warm, sticky blood coated his fingers. Pain wrapped around his head like a vise. He struggled to remain upright. His call for help sounded like a whimper. He fell into the grass and listened to it whisper. The morning birds sang a reply. The sky was an endless blue.
#
 As a rule, Charlie made it a point not to travel to Laguna Beach on her day off, but when her brother Dan mentioned a hike to the Top of the World and said that Kirk would be going, she had to tag along.
Never mind that the hike along the Aliso Creek trail had an elevation of a thousand feet and the weather forecast was hot and muggy. The view from the park at the peak would be spectacular, and if she positioned herself behind Kirk, the view on the ascent would be just as fine.
Besides, she had to prove to Kirk—and Dan, of course—that she was no longer the overweight and out-of-shape bookworm they had always known and sometimes teased.
But then Dan had invited his girlfriend Steph, and Kirk had Layla panting after him, chatting nonstop about some silly reality TV show. Now, Charlie felt like the fifth wheel.
Although, as far as wheels go, she was well dressed. She’d splurged on spandex shorts with a matching geometric-design T-shirt a few months ago and she liked her outfit better than Steph’s cutoff jeans and tank top or Layla’s midsection-exposing vibrant pink halter top and booty-call shorts.
Around mile five, the path narrowed and the group fell into single file with Dan leading the pack. Steph followed him, and Layla had positioned herself in front of Kirk so that every time she’d stumble, she’d fall onto his chest. He didn’t seem to mind, but Charlie was over it.
“Charles,” Dan called over his shoulder, “did you bring the granola bars?”
She hated it when her brothers called her Charles, and why did they always rely on her for food? “No,” she called back. “Do you want some raisins?”
Dan’s shoulders slumped, and even though she couldn’t see his face, she knew he was frowning.
“I’d like some water,” Steph said.
Kirk stopped and planted his fists on his hips. With his honey-caramel colored hair and hazel eyes, he shared Charlie’s coloring. When they had been younger and their families went on outings together, occasionally people would mistake him for one of her brothers. They were a matched set. Too bad he had yet to recognize it.
“Let’s take a breather,” Kirk suggested.
“Under the shade of that tree?” Layla pointed at a tall scrub oak, making Charlie doubt her previous airhead assessment of Layla. Although anyone who would wear makeup instead of sunscreen on an early morning hike couldn’t be all that bright. Maybe that was why Layla chose to dress like a neon sign—as if all those vibrant colors could distract from her less-than-sparkling wit or personality.
In the spot of shade, Charlie rolled her shoulders and watched Steph pull water bottles from Dan’s backpack. Steph and Dan had been dating for months now, but Dan had yet to introduce her to the rest of the family. Steph, with her shoulder-length brown hair and smattering of freckles, had a friendly girl-next-door vibe. Charlie could see her fitting in with the rest of the Monson crowd. Steph was nothing like flashy Layla, and Charlie wondered why her brother hesitated to show her off.
Could he be more worried about what Steph would think of the Monsons than what the Monsons would think of her?
Kirk had his own bottle and he unscrewed the lid, looked to the sky, and splashed water on his face. Droplets rained over his chiseled cheeks and dribbled down his neck and over his broad, muscular shoulders, dampening his shirt. Charlie hoped he would lose the shirt.
Quickly, she averted her gaze, not wanting to be caught staring. Besides, she didn’t really need to watch Kirk. She’d memorized him long ago. She’d been in love with him for as long as she could remember. His family had moved next door the year she was born and she took this as a sign that as soon as she had arrived, he’d been drawn to her. They were like magnets, the pull invisible but powerful. She knew he felt it, too, but didn’t recognize it the way she did. Yet.
Steph softly cursed when she dropped a water bottle and Dan and Charlie exchanged glances. Dan would have to tell Steph she’d have to clean up her language if she wanted a warm, lecture-free welcome in the Monson household.
“I’ll get it,” Charlie said as the bottle rolled past her feet.
The bottle bounced down the rutted trail, picking up speed. It hit a protruding rock and launched off the path.
“Let it go,” Layla called. “It’s not worth it. We’ve got plenty of water.”
But Charlie couldn’t abandon the plastic water bottle—she’d been too well trained by her conservationist father. She tramped through the tall grass, but stopped short when she caught sight of a man’s boot.
She’d read too many mystery novels not to scream. Seconds later, Kirk was at her side, pushing past her to rush to the inert man. Then, her medical training kicked in.
Looking like a sniper victim, he lay face down on the trail, his limbs spread at awkward angles. A dead and mangled rabbit lay near him.
Layla swore, using a word that would have had her banished from the Monson household. “Is that Zach Walden?” She moved to brush past Charlie, but Charlie blocked her and dropped to her knees beside Zach, directly opposite Kirk.
“A blow to the head,” Kirk said as he bent over Zach. “Impossible to tell if he sustained the injury before or after he fell.”
“Is he dead?” Layla asked.
Zach, as if hearing her, stirred to prove her wrong. His eyes fluttered open and he focused on Charlie. “Hello, angel,” he said. “Am I in heaven?” His eyes closed before anyone could answer, and he drifted out of consciousness.
#
Zach’s gaze focused on the ceiling. His eyelids felt heavy, as if they’d been weighted. An image of pennies placed on the eyelids of corpses flashed in his mind. A clip from an old Monty Python clip floated through his consciousness. I’m not dead yet. He licked his lips; they were cracked, dry, and tasted of blood. His head pounded. Someone touched his hand and whispered what sounded like a question he didn’t have the ability to process enough to answer.
He tried to respond with another Monty Python quote, “I’m getting better.” But his throat was raw and it hurt to talk. Besides, the man with the no-nonsense gaze didn’t look like someone who enjoyed Monty Python.
He closed his eyes, willing the pain to go away. A face swam into his memory. A beautiful woman. Long honey-colored hair. Full red lips. Brown eyes framed with thick lashes. Who was she? He couldn’t remember her name.
But that wasn’t all he couldn’t remember.
The next time he woke, a football game was playing on the TV. The New England Patriots had a good team? “That’s crazy,” he croaked.
His words set in motion a whirlwind of doctors and tests. During the poking, prodding, and bandage-changing, Zach learned a few things: He’d been found unconscious on a trail near Laguna Beach and rescued by a doctor and nurse who had happened to be hiking that day. He’d been in the hospital for five days and he couldn’t recall any of them.
Zach closed his eyes against all this information and tried to reconcile the hospital truth with his memories. But questions plagued him. A reality TV show host was president? That had to be a joke, right?


Sunday, December 30, 2018

January Plans



I’m a big believer in the power of small and simple things. By the yard it’s hard, but by the inch it’s a cinch. A thousand mile journey begins with a single step. (You probably know some proverbs of your own. I bet your mother taught them to you.)

I believe that small, simple goals are the steps to success and that great, big enormous goals are tools of Satan that we use to clobber out all the good feelings in our souls. Which may sound funny coming from a novelist and a marathon runner, but I didn’t sit down and write a novel in one breath and I didn’t run 26 miles the first time I put on my sneakers. I got an idea which I nursed and then wrote about a few hundred words at a time. Nearly every day. And I took A LOT of classes and workshops. Same thing with the marathon (which, by the way, was ten years ago) I ran six days a week and every week I went a little further than the week before. It wasn’t easy. There wasn’t a short cut. I had giant blisters on my feet and lost all of my toenails. (What was I thinking? I’m deviating, back to my point…)


There is an Indian proverb or axiom that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but, unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.                                                  
 Rumer Godden. A House with Four Rooms
Luke said it this way:
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
                                                                                                                                                                Luke 2:52
So as you look at your brand new baby year, consider the four rooms of your life. Take stock. Consider the room that needs airing the most. Which room needs an overhaul and which room could use a little polish and shine. Think in five to ten minute goals, the sort of goals that make you say, easy-peasy. Ten minutes out of a week of 10,080. Think of something small and simple and set a goal. (Remember, big, giant goals are Satan’s weapons used for beating yourself over the head and killing all your hope.)
One of my goals this year is to boost my blog. Today is my very first, How-to-Tuesday.  It will walk hand in hand with Thursdays—Throw-down Thursdays to be exact—the days I will make and share a goal. A ten minute goal.  
Here are some examples of ten minute goals:
Physical
Ten minutes of weight lifting a day
Ten minutes of ab exercises
Ten minutes to massage your feet
Ten minutes to do your nails
Mental
Read a thought provoking book (for just ten minutes every day)
Spend ten minutes virtually traveling
Ten minutes of logic puzzles
Ten minutes of crossword puzzles
Emotional
Write a thank you note
Call a loved one you haven’t seen for a while
Start a gratitude journal
Take a gift to someone having a hard time
Spiritual
Pray
Study scripture
Journal
Listen to inspiring music
Probably after reading this list, you have thought of your own ten minute goals that can make a difference and change your life for good.
Here are my January goals. They aren't ten minutes...but they aren't so radically different from my current days.

January goals:
Promote my blog 5 days a week on Twitter and Pinterest for one hour
Write in 3 hour blocks 5 days a week
Take AMS ads course
Weekly newsletter

If you want to join in and make yourself accountable to 400 something fantastic, friendly followers, leave a comment announcing your goal. If you prefer anonymity, write it down and tuck it in between the pages of a journal. Either one works.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Christmas Miracles




Do you believe in Christmas Miracles? In the month of December, they happen every day on the Hallmark Channel, but how about in real life? Your life? I've experienced two. The first one happened during the Christmas season following my mother's death. I was fifteen.

On a cold and snowy night, I heard a kitten crying outside our front door. This seemed remarkable because we lived on a large piece of property and for any kitten, especially a  sick one, it would be a trek to the front porch. Plus, we had two dogs who lived outside. But despite the distance, the dogs, and his health, this poor, sick kitten found his way to our porch. His eyes were crusty and only partially open, his fur splotchy and missing in places, his legs weak and wobbly. I named him  Wenceslas in honor of the season. Nursing him back to health made a bleak and lonely Christmas bearable. He grew into a magnificent cat and lived for nearly 20 years. I wrote a short story about him. You can read it here: Magic Beneath the Huckleberries.



The second happened a few years ago.

They met at the university, ages 16 and 17. He was the top student in the engineering class her brother student taught and president of the ROTC. When he was 19 and she was 18, they told their parents they were going to marry and his mother fainted. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple.

Grandpa attended MIT, Cornell and received his masters degree from Stanford. For almost forty years he worked as a rocket scientist for Hughes Aircraft. All those smarts, all that education, and in the end he didn’t know the names of his seven children. Eventually, he forgot his wife.

It started small -- confusion in the grocery store, misdealt cards, falling down. He fell down a lot. Repeatedly, he lost the dog. Sometimes he lost himself. He took to hiding in his office when company, even his children, came. He hid until he disappeared.

He died in the fall.

At the funeral the siblings shared lessons they’d learned from their dad, and I found it touching that the boys (analytical brainy types all) were more emotional than their sisters. Thirty of his grandchildren sang Love is Spoken Here. As I was sitting at the piano, I couldn’t see their faces, but I watched them come forward, tall, amazingly handsome and beautiful. Their song matched their beauty. Then the great grandchildren sang and I realized that even though we’d lost grandpa, we have a new crop of people to know and love. Grandpa has 149 posterity.

They buried Grandpa high on a hill in a cemetery in the Avenues of Salt Lake. After Uncle Richard’s dedicatory prayer the girls laid red roses and the boys placed red carnations on his casket. Our family stopped for ice-cream at the Hatch Family Chocolate Shop on our way back to the chapel. It seemed appropriate, because Grandpa ate ice-cream nearly every evening.

For years we shared the holidays with Grandpa and Grandma. Christmas afternoon, our family would pile into the van and drive up the San Bernardino Mountains. We’d pass the Cliffhanger restaurant and drive through Blue Jay Village. Aunts, uncles and cousins usually joined us and we’d party for days. Grandma supplied candy and food. Grandpa provided games and tucked little gold envelopes filled with money into the tree.

When the drive up and down the mountain became too difficult, Grandpa and Grandma sold their home in Lake Arrowhead and moved to Saint George. In the spring, when life became too difficult they moved to Salt Lake. In the summer, Grandpa moved to an assisted living facility.

Although it’s been a few months now, Grandma is slowly settling into her new home. She lives ten minutes away from two daughters and has a host of grandchildren nearby. A few days before Christmas, Grandma found a little gold envelope among Grandpa’s files. Without opening it, she tucked it into the Christmas tree and saved it for Christmas morning. She would spend the day with a daughter and her family, but the morning she would be alone, for the first time.

It must have been a very quiet Christmas morning for her, so different from the bustle of our holidays spent in Lake Arrowhead. The children and even the grandchildren are grown and gone, busy with their own lives. The candy, the games, the laughter – even Grandpa, gone. Except for the one gold envelope. She pulled it out, opened it, and found $100.

And felt Grandpa near.

How about you? Have you had a Christmas Miracle?

Monday, December 24, 2018

My Books Divided by Genre and Listed in Order

A reader asked for a list of my books. Here they are, divided by genre and in order.


YA BOOKS
Beyond The Fortuneteller's Tent
Beyond The Hollow
Beyond The Pale
Beyond Box set



Grace in the Mirror
Witch Ways
Witch Winter
Witch Wishes
Witch Ways box set
Menagerie
Melange
Melee
Menagerie box set
ROM COMS
The Tick-Tock Between You and Me
Dreaming of You and Me
The Music of You and Me (novella available in the Authors of Main Street Christmas wishes box set.
Novel not yet published.)
The Billionaire's Beagle
The Oblivious Billionaire
Gambit (not yet published)
Stuck With You (novella)
That Song in Patagonia (novella)

The Highwayman Incident
The Cowboy Encounter
The Pirate Episode
The Witching Well series box set
Ireland (not yet published 2019)
Italy (not yet published 2019)
Middle East (not yet published 2019)

The Little White Christmas Lie (novella)
Baby Blue Christmas (novella)
A Ghost of a Second Chance
MYSTERIES
A Library in Rhyme
Losing Penny
The Secrets of Hailey's Comments
Seadrift
Stealing Mercy
Rewriting Rita

SHORT STORIES
Return to Cinder
The Edit
Anywhere Else

Friday, December 21, 2018

Read and Review The Oblivious Billionaire


The release of The Oblivious Billionaire is right around the corner. I don't have the final copy yet from my editor, but when I do, I'll be looking readers and reviewers. Are you interested? If so, just send an email to larry.kristy.tate@gmail.com and post read and review in the subject line. It's up for pre-order here.
Thanks! 
Kristy
Here's a snippet for you:

Shafts of sunlight shot through the trees and sparkled on the tall waving grass. Zach breathed in the summery air carrying scents of sea and salt and campfires. The Top of The World scenic lookout point lay just ahead of him. From there, he would be able to see the Chanel Islands, but for now, he contented himself with the manzanitas’ twisted trunks, the cheerful poppies, and the scrub oaks that lined the rugged path.
He’d been warned about hiking alone, of course, but he’d been warned against many things. Warnings he mostly ignored. He knew dawn and dusk were feeding times. But in all his years of hiking, he had yet to see a mountain lion. Of course, that didn’t mean that they hadn’t see him. He often came across coyotes, sometimes deer, an occasional rabbit. Owls, crows, hawks, and sometimes even buzzards flew overhead.
A sudden sharp pain dropped him to his knees. His hand went to his temple. Warm, sticky blood coated his fingers. Pain wrapped around his head like a vise. He struggled to remain upright. His call for help sounded like a whimper. He fell into the grass and listened to it whisper. The morning birds sang a reply. The sky was an endless blue.
#
 As a rule, Charlie made it a point not to travel to Laguna Beach on her day off, but when Dan mentioned a hike to the Top of the World and said that Kirk would be going, she had to tag along.
Never mind that the hike along the Aliso Creek trail had an elevation of a thousand feet and the weather forecast was hot and muggy. The view from the park at the peak would be spectacular, and if she positioned herself behind Kirk, the view on the ascent would be just as fine.
Besides, she had to prove to Kirk—and Dan, of course—that she was no longer the overweight and out-of-shape bookworm they had always known and sometimes teased.
But then Dan had invited Steph, and Kirk had Layla panting after him, chatting nonstop about some silly reality TV show. Now, Charlie felt like the fifth wheel.
Although, as far as wheels go, she was well dressed. She’d splurged on spandex shorts with a matching geometric-design T-shirt a few months ago and she liked her outfit better than Steph’s cutoff jeans and tank top or Layla’s midsection-exposing vibrant pink halter top and booty-call shorts.
Around mile five, the path narrowed and the group fell into single file with Dan leading the pack. Steph followed him, and Layla had positioned herself in front of Kirk so that every time she’d stumble, she’d fall onto Kirk’s chest. He didn’t seem to mind, but Charlie was over it.
“Charles,” Dan called over his shoulder, “did you bring the granola bars?”
She hated it when her brothers called her Charles, and why did they always rely on her for food? “No,” she called back. “Do you want some raisins?”
Dan’s shoulders slumped, and even though she couldn’t see his face, she knew he was frowning.
“I’d like some water,” Steph said.
Kirk stopped and planted his fits on his hips. With his honey-caramel colored hair and hazel eyes, he shared Charlie’s coloring. When they had been younger and their families went on outings together, occasionally people would mistake him for one of her brothers. They were a matched set. Too bad he had yet to recognized it.
“Let’s take a breather,” Kirk suggested.
“Under the shade of that tree?” Layla pointed at a tall scrub oak, making Charlie doubt her previous airhead assessment of Layla. Although anyone who would wear makeup instead of sunscreen on an early morning hike couldn’t be all that bright. Maybe that was why Layla chose to dress like a neon sign—as if all those vibrant colors could distract from her less-than-sparkling wit or personality.
In the spot of shade, Charlie rolled her shoulders and watched Steph pull water bottles from Dan’s backpack. Steph and Dan had been dating for months now, but Dan had yet to introduce her to the rest of the family. Steph, with her shoulder-length brown hair and smattering of freckles, had a friendly girl-next-door vibe. Charlie could see her fitting in with the rest of the Monson crowd. Steph was nothing like flashy Layla, and Charlie wondered why her brother hesitated to show her off.
Could he be more worried about what Steph would think of the Monsons than what the Monsons would think of her?
Kirk had his own bottle and he unscrewed the lid, looked to the sky, and splashed water on his face. Droplets rained over his chiseled cheeks and dribbled down his neck, over his broad, muscular shoulders, and dampened his shirt. Charlie hoped he would lose the shirt.
Quickly, she averted her gaze, not wanting to be caught staring. Besides, she didn’t really need to watch Kirk. She’d memorized him long ago. She’d been in love with him for as long as she could remember. His family had moved next door the year she was born and she took this as a sign that as soon as she had arrived, he’d been drawn to her. They were like magnets, the pull invisible but powerful. She knew he felt it, too, but didn’t recognize it the way she did. Yet.
Steph softly cursed when she dropped a water bottle and Dan and Charlie exchanged glances. Dan would have to tell Steph she’d have to clean up her language if she wanted a warm, lecture-free welcome in the Monson household.
“I’ll get it,” Charlie said as the bottle rolled past her feet.
The bottle bounced down the rutted trail, picking up speed. It hit a protruding rock and launched off the path.
“Let it go,” Layla called. “It’s not worth it. We’ve got plenty of water.”
But Charlie couldn’t abandon the plastic water bottle—she’d been too well trained by her conservationist father. She tramped through the tall grass, but stopped short when she caught sight of a man’s boot.
She’d read too many mystery novels not to scream. Seconds later, Kirk was at her side, pushing past her to rush to the inert man. Then, her medical training kicked in.
Looking like a sniper victim, he lay face down on the trail, his limbs spread at awkward angles.
Layla swore, using a word that would have had her banished from the Monson household. “Is that Zach Walden?” She moved to brush past Charlie, but Charlie blocked her and dropped to her knees beside Zach, directly opposite Kirk.
“A blow to the head,” Kirk said as he bent over Mr. Walden. “Impossible to tell if he sustained the injury before or after he fell.”
“Is he dead?” Layla asked.
Mr. Walden, as if hearing her, stirred to prove her wrong. His eyes fluttered open and he focused on Charlie. “Hello, angel,” he said. “Am I in heaven?” His eyes closed before anyone could answer, and he drifted out of consciousness.
#
Zach’s gaze focused on the ceiling. His eyelids felt heavy, as if they’d been weighted. An image of pennies placed on the eyelids of corpses flashed in his mind. A clip from an old Monty Python clip floated through his consciousness. I’m not dead yet. He licked his lips; they were cracked, dry, and tasted of blood. His head pounded. Someone touched his hand and whispered what sounded like a question he didn’t have the ability to process enough to answer.
He tried to respond with another Monty Python quote, “I’m getting better.” But his throat was raw and it hurt to talk. Besides, the man with the no-nonsense gaze didn’t look like someone who enjoyed Monty Python.
He closed his eyes, willing the pain to go away. A face swam into his memory. A beautiful woman. Long honey-colored hair. Full red lips. Brown eyes framed with thick lashes. Who was she? He couldn’t remember her name.
But that wasn’t all he couldn’t remember.
The next time he woke, a football game was playing on the TV. The New England Patriots had a good team? “That’s crazy,” he croaked.
His words set in motion a whirlwind of doctors and tests. During the poking, prodding, and bandage-changing, Zach learned a few things: He’d been found unconscious on a trail near Laguna Beach and rescued by a doctor and nurse who had happened to be hiking that day. He’d been in the hospital for five days and he couldn’t recall any of them.
Zach closed his eyes against all this information and tried to reconcile the hospital truth with his memories. But questions plagued him. A reality TV show host was president? That had to be a joke, right?
“It’s common for a patient suffering severe physical and emotional distress to have lapses of memory,” Dr. Grant, a psychiatrist, told him. “It’s your mind trying to escape the horror of your reality.” The doctor, a petite blonde in an oversized lab coat, had purple-spotted fingernail polish. She looked a lot like a young version of his mom.
Why hadn’t his mom called?
“How long will it last?” Zach asked through cracked lips. It hurt to speak through his dry and scratchy throat, but he had to try. Worrying that he’d lost his mind was making him crazy.
“No one can say.” Dr. Grant shifted in the chair beside him and settled a clipboard in her lap. “There’s a great deal of research and controversy concerning the workings of our minds and amnesia is a real mystery.”
“I don’t want to see anyone,” Zach said. “Is it possible to keep this to ourselves?”
“Of course. We can be discreet, if you wish. But I’m not sure this is wise. Seeing your friends and family could possibly trigger your memories.” She looked over her shoulder at the closed door. “I know your friends and fiancée are eager to see you.”
Zach swallowed hard as a wave of pain hit him. “I have a fiancée?”
Dr. Grant nodded. “Eva Caron. She’s beautiful.”
The mention of Eva sent another wave of pain through him. “I don’t know her.”
“Everyone knows her. She’s an actress.”
He closed his eyes and shook his head, but then he remembered the angel’s face. “Does she have long honey-colored hair and brown eyes?”
“No. Her hair is cut short and is dark. She’s very vogue.”
Then it couldn’t be the same woman.
“I can’t see her,” he said in a strangled voice.
“How about your business partner, Mr. Hallstrom?”
“I went into business with Hallstrom? What the hell happened to football?”
“I believe you had a head injury.”
“Another one?” The genie’s words from Aladdin returned to him—one too many hits with the snake. “And I went into business with Hallstrom?”
“Isn’t he your best friend?”
“He was. Once. I’m not sure that’s still true.” He leaned back against the pillows and closed his eyes.
“This is probably a lot for you to process right now,” Dr. Grant said. “I would focus on healing. You’ll probably find your memories will come creeping in, bit by bit.”
He nodded without opening his eyes. When he opened them, he saw Dr. Grant watching him with a kind and sympathetic look.
“Our memories are tricky things,” she told him. “We can try to coax them forward, but even then, we can’t trust them. You might find it helpful to write down what you do remember. It will help you clarify your feelings. Journaling will let you explore, process, and release your emotions.”
“Can I have my Blackberry?”
She looked at him blankly.
“My phone.”
“Oh, of course.” She smiled. “Let me call and ask. If you had it with you, it would be in a safe with your wallet and other personal items.”
She disappeared for a moment, but shortly returned. “They didn’t find a phone on you.”
He nodded. “I’d like to call my mom. Is there some way to do that?”
#
Charlie sat on a brightly colored rag rug while a group of children gathered around her, some sitting cross-legged on the floor, many in wheelchairs, and a few propped up in chairs.
“‘The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way,’” Charlie read, “‘and then dipped suddenly down — so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very steep well. Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, she tried to look down and make out what she was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything.’” Charlie paused, took a deep breath, and let the beauty of the words settle around her and the children.
“Huh, Charlie?” interrupted Zoe, her friend and the head nurse on the pediatric floor.
Charlie and the cluster of patients turned to Zoe, a middle-aged mother of three grown children, who fussed over the kids under her watch like a hen with a brood of chicks. Her hair was an unnatural shade of red and her cheeks were round and rosy.
“Sorry to interrupt, but I wanted to let you know Zach Walden is awake.”
“You can’t stop now!” cried Megan, a bald and skinny cancer patient. “We’re just getting to the good bits!”
“It’s too girlie,” Lincoln complained. “We should read Harry Potter again.”
Megan rolled her eyes. “We already read all of those.”
Charlie glanced at the clock on the wall before sticking her bookmark in the novel and climbing to her feet. “Sorry, guys. My lunch break is almost over. I’ll be back tomorrow with more of Alice in Wonderland.” She hated leaving the fourth floor with its colorful murals and cheery décor, but she was anxious to meet Zach Walden. Ever since she’d found him in the canyon, she’d felt an almost maternal anxiety over him.
The children grumbled and complained.
“Who is this guy, anyway?” Lincoln asked. “What makes him so special?”
“Is he the millionaire you found on your walk?” Megan asked.
Charlie smoothed out her scrubs. They had never been flattering or form-fitting, of course, but since her weight loss, they hung on her like a deflated balloon.
“He’s a billionaire,” Zoe told Megan. “And yes, Charlie probably saved his life.”
“I just did what anyone else would do.” Charlie tried to play down the incident, but the media had dubbed her the Charlie Angel.
“How is he?” she asked Zoe as they headed down the hall toward the elevator that would lead her to the third floor.
“Confused. Upset. His girlfriend and Clive Hallstrom—that’s his business partner, you know—”
“I know.” Charlie didn’t follow celebrity gossip, but even she had heard of Zach Walden, his beautiful girlfriend, and his two business partners. And now everyone knew about Charlie, because she had found and rescued Zach. Charlie’s pace and heartrate quickened as she thought about meeting him.
“They came to visit, but he refused to see them.” Zoe punched the elevator button.
“I wonder why,” Charlie murmured, tapping her foot and waiting for the elevator.
“There’s some buzz that Ricardo  Sanchez might drop by.”
Charlie flushed. “I hope so! I’d love to meet him!”
“I know you’re addicted to his workout videos, but I have to tell you, he’s the reason my Kyle is so fat!”
Charlie laughed. “How is that even possible?”
“Kyle says he overeats and refuses to exercise because he’s terrified there’s a Ricardo  Sanchez inside him trying to get out.”
Charlie laughed. “Ricardo is pretty flamboyant, but I adore him. He’s got all that great hair and he wears the funkiest spandex. I would love a chance to thank him.”
The elevator arrived with a ding and the wide metal doors slid open.
“Well, now you have a chance for Mr. Walden to thank you.”
“I really didn’t do—”
Zoe waved away Charlie’s words. “Save your humble pie for someone who wants to eat it. You’re a good nurse. And yes, you were just doing your Christian duty—but the truth is, Zach Walden probably would have died if you hadn’t found him when you did.”
“I wonder what he was doing out there,” Charlie said, but the elevator doors whirred closed before Zoe could answer. “And how he hit his head.” She puzzled over this on the short ride to the third floor.
A man wearing a dark suit and a pair of sunglasses stood like a soldier outside Zach Walden’s door. He ran his gaze over Charlie as she approached, taking in her practical shoes, her scrubs, and even the stethoscope around her neck. She flashed him her name badge.
He nodded, stepped to the door, and let himself in. It closed with a click behind him.
Charlie raised her eyebrows at Letty, the fellow nurse behind the desk in the hall. Charlie didn’t know Letty very well, given that they worked on different floors, but she liked what little she did know of her. The rumor was she was dating the heir to the Montlake Hotel chain, which wasn’t surprising because she was beautiful in an off-handed and casual way and was one of the sweetest people Charlie knew.
“They had to up the security,” Letty told her. “Celebrities bring out the crazies. I had a woman call today demanding to know what we were feeding Zach Walden.”
Charlie chuckled, but her laughter died when the stern-faced security guard pushed open the door to let her in. “He must be in the restroom.”
Charlie waited in the room alone for a long moment, then she went to the adjoining restroom and rapped on the door. When only silence answered, she knocked again and called out, “Mr. Walden?”
He stepped out from behind the window curtain, looking sheepish and unsure. He wore only the blue and white paisley hospital gown, but it matched his eyes. He would have been handsome if he hadn’t looked so haggard and unshaven. He weaved on his feet and grabbed the curtain to steady himself.
Charlie rushed to his side. He collapsed against her and she half-dragged him back to bed. He fell on the mattress, and the hospital gown hitched around his thighs.
Doing his best to cover himself, he muttered, “I now understand why women dislike dresses.”
She pulled on the bedcovers and tucked him in. “Why were you hiding behind the curtain?”
“I wasn’t hiding,” he said. “I was trying to run away.”
“Why?”
He sniffed. “I want to go home.”
“Hmm, maybe it would be a good idea to get dressed first.”
“Clothes…unnecessary.”
“You might feel differently if you have to bend to pick something up and your gown comes undone.”
“Well, I guess it wasn’t such a good idea. I can barely stand without falling over.”
She smiled as she looked at his chart and noted that he’d recently been pretty heavily medicated for pain. “And there is that. Better wait until you regain your balance…and your shoes.”
He studied her as if seeing her for the first time. “It’s you.”
She touched her hair, fidgeting beneath his stare.
“You’re the one who rescued me.”
“Yes.”
He swallowed audibly. “You saved my life. They say I called you ‘angel’ when you found me.”
She nodded, smiling at the memory. “You asked if you were dead.”
“And I would be, if not for you.” He motioned for her to sit—something she rarely did while working.
She settled into the orange upholstered chair beside his bed and noted the crazy number of flowers lining the windowsill. “No. Someone else would have found you.”
“But I was lucky to be found by a nurse.”
“And a doctor.”
“Ah, yes. Dr. Palmer,” he said in a flat voice.
“You’ve met Kirk?”
He nodded.
“He’s a good doctor,” Charlie assured him.
“I’m sure he thinks he is.”
Charlie tried not to bristle. “Kirk—I mean, Dr. Palmer—is the reason I became a medical professional.”
“Really?” he asked, sounding amused.
She nodded. “I’ve known him most of my life. He’s my brother’s best friend. And he was so passionate about saving people and easing suffering that I…well, I wanted to be a part of that, too.”
“And do you like it?”
“What does that have to do with anything? I’m doing something important.”
“Changing sheets and bedpans…”
“Well, we can’t all be professional athletes.”
He bit his lip and looked out the window. “Forgive me. I didn’t mean to be rude. Nurses—and doctors—are, well, being a healer is a noble calling, isn’t it?”
She nodded, feeling mollified. “I wanted to thank you, too.”
“Me?” He looked confused. “Whatever for?”
“For the Wonder Weight Loss app!”
“The what?”
“The Wonder Weight Loss app. Not to be redundant, but it’s simply wonderful. Because of you, I lost more than fifty pounds.”
“Really? Because of me?”
She nodded. “Well, the Wonder Weight Loss clinic and the Ricardo  Sanchez workout videos had something to do with it, too, but your app—”
“Wait.” He held up his hand as if stopping traffic. “Wonder Weight Loss? I work for the Wonder Weight Loss Company?”
She gazed into his blue eyes, wondering what she was missing.
He looked away from her and blinked hard. If she didn’t know better, she’d have thought he was battling tears.
He turned back to her, studied her, and seemed to reach a decision. “Can I confide in you?” he whispered.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

2019 Goals and Revisiting 2018

WRITE 5+ novels.

3 Destination Romances
1 Christmas novella
Greta collaboration 

Flesh out The Music of You and Me and publish

Rework and republish early mysteries and create pen-name and promotion schedule. If this goes well, create a romance pen name separate from YA books

PROMOTION
Have a free day once a month and book promos.
MAKE ALL BOOKS INTO PAPERBACKS
MAKE ALL SERIES INTO BOX SETS
3-4 BLOG POSTS FOR EACH FREEBIE BOOK--TWEET AND PIN
  1. EXCERPT PLUS RECIPE
  2. EXCERPT PLUS RESEARCH
  3. EXCERPT PLUS WRITING CRAFT
  4. EXCERPT PLUS BOOK'S ORIGIN
Take AMS course (January 7th)
Experiment with Facebook ads
Goleta book club
Get more involved in RWA
Go to two writers' conferences

CRAFT

...pick through your writing and circle every “thought” verb.  Then, find some way to eliminate it.  Kill it by Un-packing it. After that, find a way to re-write them.  Make them stronger.

OUTLINE BOOKS AND CREATE VISION BOARDS

REVISITING 2018. 
What I planned vs what actually happened.

Blog:
Create 3 blog posts a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday)
This seems like a totally doable goal that I did not do. Why not? Is it something I should do going forward?


Newsletter
2x a month
Because I started doing newsletter swaps, I actually started doing two newsletters a week. Since then, I've decided to cut back to a newsletter a week and I feel really good about that decision.

Books:
Publish something every 3 months (novels, short stories, etc.)
Contact 2 reviewers a day
I don't think I ever contacted a reviewer. Hmm...should I do that?

Rita (published)
Clockwork (published)
Nora (published)
Blog Book (not published)
The Music Between You and Me novella (published in the Author's of Main Street box set, but since I want to publish it as a novel, it's gone dark until I have time to look at it.)

I didn't have these planned:
That Song in Patagonia (novella, published)
The Billionaire's Beagle (published)

Four books and two novellas