Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Bruises, colored pencils, and post-it lists


Today's story is a week late. But better late, than never! ;)

Here are my words:
colored pencils

Today is another text conversation. I know some of you who read this on your phones have a hard time following because of the format, so wanted to let you know ahead of time. ;)

(Dean is on the left; Kacey on the right)

Hey baby. How'd karate go tonight? You assassinate anyone yet?

Not til next week. Tonight we sparred. It did not go well.

How come?

Let's just say my partner is much better than I am. 
I have a huge bruise on my thigh.


It spans half my leg. And is in the shape of Greenland.

You know the shape of Greenland? Man, my woman is smart. 
And tough. If there were some sort of competition that 
was a cross between the Olympics and Jeopardy, 
you would dominate

You know how to melt a girl’s heart, don’t you?

Well, one girl anyway :)
Sorry about your bruise

*Shrugs* It’s body art. Pistachio green that will turn 
purple before too long.

Sounds beautiful. If I had colored pencils, I would 
attempt to draw this bruise in all its glory.

I’ll mail you colored pencils. Then you’ll be 
bound to your promise.

You want a pic of your bruise that bad?

Mostly I want to make you draw me a picture. You 
can surprise me with what the picture is of. ;)

You're high maintenance.

I am worthy of the maintenance you must perform. 

Ha. I guess I have to agree with you ;)

About to start driving. Call you later after 
my dinner tonight?

Looking forward to it :) Love you

Love you!

I throw my phone on the couch and reach for a pen. My packing list is scribbled on a post it note:

rental car confirmation
Don't forget RING!!

I scrawl Colored Pencil Drawing underneath. 

Surprise me, she had said. My girl's getting the surprise of her life in two weeks.

And man, I hope it's a good one.

And that she says yes.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Two sides, same coin?


So, for today's story, I thought we'd do something new and have a dual perspective. Because sometimes things aren't quite what they seem...

Words today:
lunch break


July in Atlanta can be hellish. I pad down the stairs on my bare feet and glance at the thermostat. Stupid thing says it’s 70 in here. My fingers itch to crank it down, but at this rate our electric bill is going to be higher than rent this month. “You still there?” I ask Dean.


I cradle the phone to my ear and plop onto the couch. “It’s hotter than the hinges of hell down here.”

Dean chuckles. “I definitely don’t miss the heat.”

Who would? Though, there isn’t much that Dean misses about Georgia. His job in Columbus is going so well, and now he spends weekends going to his nephew’s soccer games and poking around his new city. “Our electric bill last month was close to two hundred," I tell him.


No witty comeback. He’s so tight lipped today. “You thinking about work?”


Of course not. No fretting from Mr. “I never worry.” I picture Dean’s face in my head and smile. I’ll admit it - I’m obsessed. I think about him first thing when I wake up each morning. I text him on my lunch breaks. I’m both giddy and so at ease with the two of us. Being with Dean’s as comfortable as flannel pajama pants and hot chocolate.

“So do you think you’ll be able to come down for Fourth of July?” I ask him.

“Not sure.”

"Is your family getting together?"

He doesn't say anything. I look at my phone to see if I lost him. It says we're still connected. "Dean?"

"What's that?"

"I asked if your family was getting together for the Fourth?"

"Oh, I'm not sure."

I nod my head and chew on my lip, my heart racing underneath my tank top. The Fourth is two weekends away and he doesn't know what he's doing? He doesn’t seem bothered over us not seeing each other that often. He can either come down, or he can't. Why doesn't he know?

"Well, hopefully I get to see you," I tell him.


Silence. Ok. So no Fourth of July. Or the weeks before. Or the weeks after, probably. Gah, adapt Kacey. Things are not going to always go the way you want.

"Hey," Dean says, "I need to give my sister a call, so I'm gonna let you go, ok?"

I bite my lip, his suddenness to get off the phone slicing my heart. "Ok."

"Love you, Kace."

I nod again. "Love you, too." I end the call and stare up at my ceiling. Boyfriend distracted and hundreds of miles away. And here I sit, sweating through my clothes.

This absolutely sucks.


“You still there?” Kacey asks.

“Yep.” I scroll down the web page, not content with what I’m finding.

“It’s hotter than the hinges of hell down here.”

I chuckle. “I definitely don’t miss the heat.”

I picture her, as I always do, when we talk. In the winter I’d see her stretched across her bed, hunkered down between her flannel sheets, her pj's on and her hair a mess. Now she’s probably sweating through Atlanta summer heat in those adorable old gray shorts she has. I picture her legs in those shorts and smile, then click on a few pics on the page I'm on. 

“Our electric bill last month was close to two hundred.”

“Yikes,” I say. Hmm. Nothing here. I close that tab and return to Google, my determination building. Nothing gets me amped up like Kacey does.

“You thinking about work?”

I smile and click on another webpage. “Nope.” I glance at the list I scrawled out on a post it during my lunch breaks this week and type in the last place I know to look.

“So do you think you’ll be able to come down for Fourth of July?”

The Fourth. That’s only two weeks away. I’d rather wait until later. No sense to rush. “Not sure.”

I scroll through the webpage I have pulled up, and click on a few things.

"Is your family getting together?"

I zoom in on an image. Now that one I like.


My brain trips, racing to remember what we were just talking about. "What's that?"

"I asked if your family was getting together for the Fourth?"

"Oh, I'm not sure," I tell her, adapting my tone because her voice has that bite to it that tells me she’s stressed or worried.

"Well, hopefully I get to see you."

"Yeah." I click on the image I'm looking at and bring it up on a separate page. Then I click my other open tabs. There. These five. There’ll all good, and within what I can afford.
Maybe in a month I'll have things ready? I bookmark all the pages. "Hey, I need to give my sister a call, so I'm gonna let you go, ok?"


I stare at my computer screen. "Love you, Kace."

"Love you, too."

I end the call and pull up my older sister’s number, and stare at the diamond on my computer screen. I can’t pick out a ring for my girlfriend and not get some female input.

"Hey little brother."

“Hey Becca, you free this weekend to help me with something?”

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A different holiday

I know it's Thanksgiving week, but let's pretend it's Memorial Day weekend. K?

My five words for today:

polka dots


I brush my palm on my skirt for the twentieth time, my body taut with nerves. It's just meeting his parents, Kacey. And it's not like Dean's waiting for their approval before deciding whether or not we're going to date. Geez, we're not the Duggars or anything.

I turn and stare at him as he drives. Polo shirt, jeans, grey Chuck Taylors. I glance down at my navy skirt swirled with polka dots and wonder if I've overdressed. Or underdressed.

Oh gosh, who cares.

Dean pulls into an older neighborhood, dotted with ranch houses and actual yards. "Here we are," he says as he pulls into the driveway of a cute little brick house. I smooth my skirt as I stand, and Dean leads us up the walkway.

The door opens, and Dean-thirty-years-down-the-road opens the door. Dean's dad smiles at us: same nose, same smile, same build as Dean. He throws his arms around his son and I wonder if I'm looking at my future - if Dean and I will still be together thirty years from now, and this is the receding hairline and smile wrinkles I'll wake up to each morning.

Dean's dad smiles at me. "Well, hello Kacey. We've heard so much about you."

I smile and extend my hand, which Dean's dad promptly ignores and wraps me in a hug instead. "Come in, come in. Sue has lunch all ready out back."

Dean holds the door open while I walk through the front door and follow his dad out back to the patio, where his mom has set up lunch. No china plates, or crystal goblets, thank goodness. Instead, the table is set with brightly colored Fiestaware. My kind of woman. Though the food itself looks like something out of a Pioneer Woman cookbook, and that is definitely something I and Dean's mom do not have in common.

"Hi, Kacey. I'm Sue." She shakes my hand, her cream blouse so neatly pressed and nice that I nearly forget to smile.

"It's so nice to meet you," I tell her.

Soon we're all seated, including Dean's little sister Ali. Twenty one. Heavy eyeliner and a glittered top, but sarcasm as deeply rooted as Dean's. Must be a family trait. Spring breezes blow past as we eat.

Dean's family is normal. Of course. Unlike my family. My dad grilled Dean for half an hour on his job and it's potential for growth, as well as his background when Dean met my parents last month. This is much more casual. I get asked about my time at college, and my English major - with no mention of how I don't use that degree I'm still in debt for. (So unlike my family). I watch Dean talk to his dad, and carry plates into the kitchen for his mom. Simple things. He teases Ali, who feigns being annoyed, when I know all too well, she adores him.

The day passes so fast, and soon we're on our way back to Dean's apartment. "I told you not to be nervous," he tells me with a smug grin.

"You were right. I think they like me."

"They love you, Kace."

I laugh. "You know this already?"

"I knew it before today."


"They love you because I do."

And it's as simple as that. How did I once think life was so complicated? With Dean it's so simple. I swear, women need more testosterone to even us out.

I change into a pair of old shorts and a t-shirt as soon as we're back at his apartment. Yesterday was an exhausting drive, but at least it's a long weekend and I don't drive back until Monday. I come out of the bathroom and find Dean sitting on the couch with a box in his lap.

He smiles up at me. "I have something for you."

"Oh yeah?" I sink into the couch beside him. "Is it a baby koala bear?"

"Nope." He hands the box to me. It's a cardboard shoebox. No gift wrap. The edges aren't even taped. I take it from him and open it.

It's shoes.

"I thought you could use your own pair," Dean says.

I push the tissue back and stare at a pair of yellow Chuck Taylors. Not jewelry or flowers, or some adorable thing off Etsy. Instead it's shoes. To match his, in yellow because he knows it's my favorite color.

A million times better than jewelry.

"You like them?" he asks, and his face is so vulnerable and hopeful I think I fall a little more in love with him. I climb into his lap and kiss him. "I love them."

"Really? I didn't know if Chucks were your thing."

I laugh and kiss his cheek. "I love them because you do."

And it's as simple as that.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A little take out and something I've never said before -


So, today's words:

love fern

*I mean really, how could I not use a list of words that has "love fern" in it??  So, here we go.


The scowl I send to Dean is only half fake.

"You gotta get better at your turns," he says.

"You need to get better at not antagonizing me," I tell him. Darn boy. He loves to intentionally try and run me off the road whenever we play this infernally-addictive game. Blast him and his Mario Kart.

Dean sits cross legged in front of the TV, jeans stained with ketchup from lunch and his shirt wrinkled. I both want to beat him with a leftover breadstick and make out with him. This is how men win us over. They are too cute to stay mad at.

I set my controller down. "I need a breather."I collapse onto the couch, and peer over our take-out boxes from dinner to Dean. He showed up at midnight last night, and we stayed up hours talking. Today we've hit his favorite restaurants in Atlanta, and the Mario Kart marathon has been going on for - I glance at my phone to check the time - 3 hours now.

"What would be be doing if you hadn't brought your Wii down with you?"

Dean laughs. "Been very bored." He leans slightly to the right as Mario does onscreen. I bite my lip and suppress a laugh.

"Is it a mandate in the Geeky Boyfriend Book of Conduct that you bring it when visiting your girlfriend?"

"Kace, you're not supposed to know about the book of conduct. Now you won't think I'm romantic."

I consider throwing an empty soda can at him - think of my carpet - and lob a pillow at him instead. He yelps as Mario skids out of control on screen. I lie back and curl my toes under a cushion. Me and my shamrock socks and sweatpants, and I've never felt so adorable in my life. All because of the cute video game-crazed man in front of me. He drove all day after work to come see me, just so we could eat take out and play Mario Kart.

But it wasn't a big deal to him. Dean's solid and so decisive - a good balance to my erractiness, I guess. But at the same time, I've learned over the past six months that he's so gentle with me. We've hurt each other, and I know we'll do it again a million times over. But he's the best balm for that pain. If he hurts me it's like he can bind the wound up himself with special Dean duct tape and the broken places would heal right up.

Dean hoots and I watch Mario flash across the finish line. "Another win for the master," I say.

Dean looks over his shoulder at me and smiles. "You know what?"

"You think I should make you a shirt that says 'Mario Kart Master' for your birthday?"

"No." His eyes bore into mine. "I haven't told you yet that I love you. And I do."

Time freezes and it's like my living room just got zapped with magic. It's not one of those weird fake feelings, like in movies when people sing christmas carols and everything is rosy and perfect, but in real life you're freezing and people sing off key and it's nowhere near as breathtaking. This moment is so simple, but so stunning in it's realness I can hardly breathe.

I stare at Dean. "I love you, too."

Dean sets his remote down and climbs onto the couch. He grabs my arms and pulls me up, my legs entwined around his middle.

I press my fingers to his face, because I can't not be touching him. He leans and kisses the palm of my hand. "I love you," he says again.

"I love you." I rest my forehead against his, thinking this is not at all like in the books, but so much better I may never read again.

Dean runs a hand up my back and then tickles my side. I yelp and jump, but he holds me in place, tickling me until I cry uncle. He pulls me back up again in front of him. "So, there's something I wanted to see if you would do for me?"

"Ah, you tell me you love me and now the favors start. What do you want? For me to buy a love fern and keep it for us?"

He laughs, and I love that he's getting a reference from a girl movie I made him watch. His hand slides down my body again and I grab my side to block his tickles. Gah, at this point I would do anything for him. Bungee jump. Eat Indian food. Go dancing at a club.

Dean looks at me, serious eyes and stinging truth ringing from his features. "I want you to meet my parents."

Oh. Heavens.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

So, lately

I started writing three years ago this January. Since then, I've written six books. That's such a crazy sentence to write. I remember being younger and thinking, "Some day, I'd love to write a book." And 'someday' has come and gone, and I have six books under my belt.

The first three were horrible. I'll admit it. From a writing standpoint, they're just not good. But that's ok. They were building blocks. And they were about Rie and Marus, who both will forever live in my heart.


*Confession: I have created so many storylines past the book for them, including those of their children and grandchildren. It's wildly fun to come up with, and those stories are just for me.

Then I wrote Elsi's story, and sigh....I adore Elsi. So far, her story is my favorite. (Don't tell Gretta, she would give me a tongue lashing for sure).


Elsi got requested by 4 agents. All of whom liked it, but not enough, and eventually passed. Sigh....I long for someone to believe in Elsi. Writing wise, she was the second story I finished (I wrote her while writing books 2 and 3 of Rie's story). So, there are dumps of exposition and the voice gets distant. I realize that now, but didn't when I was querying. So sadly, Elsi is being passed over. For now. (I still have hopes of landing an agent who will let me rewrite Elsi and make her stronger. Because for the love, Elsi and Thias need to be unleashed on the world!)

Then, there was Gretta. Oh, Gretta. From a writing standpoint, this is the best thing I have written.


I started querying Gretta in August. And so far, five agents have her. Five! *Fist pump*

I'm cautiously optimistic. Five seems like good odds, but then again, Elsi had four, and ended up with nothing. So we'll cross our fingers and see how Gretta fares. She is a fantastic story, and even if all the agents pass, I'm proud that Gretta crawled into my head and told me her story. I think I did my brave girl justice.

Then, there's Lyra.


Lyra is in draft two phase, which means she's decent but not polished yet. I have her out with seven wonderful first-readers, and hopefully will get to polish her up and make her shine.

Lyra is my oddball story. She's different from everything else I've written. She's magical realism, not fantasy. And there's no love story for her. I almost abandoned writing her but God said "Write this story." So I said, "Ok." Lyra got put on hold while I dealt with horrible morning sickness, but finally accomplished what she set out to do. Once I have her back in hand I'll begin the agonizing and thrilling process of rewriting her and making her shine. She's such an odd story, which makes me think she'll be the one that finally lands at agent. Because isn't that just how it would be? I think she's too odd to query, and she'll probably be what everyone salivates over. Go figure ;)

I have a sequel planned for Elsi. And a glorious new story starting to take hold in my brain - an idea I've had for a while, but it's not solidified yet. And I know I just need to start writing it, because that's how all my stories come to life. I have to get a character on a page and let her tell me who she is.

Who knows when this new one will actually come to life on the page. But six books later, I'm totally in love with writing. Let's see how many more stories I can dream up. And let's see what God does with this dream of mine to get published.

Fingers crossed for Gretta. It's all riding on her right now!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sing me a song...

So today for Five Word Wednesday, I asked for songs to inspire the story. So, I borrowed a little from this:

a little from this:

and a little of this:

and came up with this:


My phone buzzes in my purse as I fumble for the door lock. I shove the door with my foot, then yelp as pain sears through my toe. The buzzing continues and I dump my bag and fish for my phone. "Hey."

"Oh. Hey. It took you a while to answer. I thought I'd missed you."

I brush back a piece of hair from my damp forehead. Sweat drips down my brow and I kick off my shoes. "I just got done with class."

"Are you a black belt yet?" I can almost feel Dean smile through the phone. 

"Ha. Not likely."

"Did you assault your instructor again today?"

"Ugh, stop reminding me." I open the fridge as the memory from my first karate class flashes to mind. Because of course I would be the girl to bravely sign up for a karate class, and then accidentally knee her instructor in the groin the first day. 

Dean laughs.

"I'm serious. It's embarrassing enough having to go back. You're making it worse."

"Sorry. How was your day?"

I pour a glass of milk and chug half of it before answering. "Horrible. Sharon is driving me crazy."

"What now?"

Geez, what isn't there? Sharon became the new Dean at work five weeks ago. She makes type A's look relaxed. "She's changing everyone's responsibilities. And now she wants handouts of numbers every Friday and Mondays."

"Doesn't sound too unreasonable."

I huff out a sigh. "She's changing things just because she has the power to, and not because they need to be done. It's taking me an extra hour each day to pull together reports that have the same information on them as the ones I run on Friday. Then, she comes into my office and dares to tell me that they're not formatted how she wanted, even though she hadn't said how she wanted them done and told me to 'just put them together'." 

I stand and pace around the living room as I rant. Work has gone from comfortable and tolerable to doing tedious things at a break neck speed. All because Sharon has to have 42 copies of the same dad gum thing and can't pull up reports herself. 

"She's just one person, Kace."

"Yeah, one that I'm around and whose in charge of me 8 hours of every day."

"It's just a job."

I fling off my sweatshirt, my body radiating heat from class and now from anger. He always says this when I bring up Sharon. Which I do a lot of lately, but still. "Easy for you to say. You love your job."

"It's just a job."

"One you moved states away for."

Dean doesn't answer. I peel off my sweaty socks and wait. When he does speak, his voice has a hard bite to it. "Are you mad at me or something?" 

"No." I throw my socks onto the couch. "It just seems like my bad work life doesn't matter."

"It does. Of course it does. It's just..." His voice goes quiet.

Oh gosh. I'm a whiner. One of those girls who thrives on drama. I clench my fists, waiting for that accusation to come. "It's just what?"

"It's just, I guess I like it a little that you aren't head over heels in love with your job."

What the hell? I grip the phone tighter. "Why would you like that?"

"Because a job you don't absolutely love is one you would leave."

I lean against the wall, my anger so palpable I can almost feel it pulsing through my veins. "You think I should quit my job?" 

"No. What I mean is maybe one day, you know, down the road, you might leave your job there and be ok with it."

"To do what? You think I'm wasting my degree or something?" Geez, now he sounds like my dad.

"No. I mean, if someday you left Atlanta."

"To go where?"

"Ohio, maybe."

I come to a halt and lean against the wall. 

"I'm not saying now," Dean rushes his words. "It's just, long distance sucks, and I hate not seeing you all the time. And well, don't think I'm an ass, Kace, but my job is going great and I love it. So I've been thinking that maybe, eventually, one day, you would move up here."

I slide down the wall until I'm sitting. "You think about that?"

"Yeah. Again, that's down the road, not something I'm thinking for the immediate." I hear him breathe into the phone. "Does that make you nervous?"

Yes. I didn't know we were there. Or that he was there.  But it does make sense. Eventually.


If things go well.

Geez, how'd we go from my bad work today to a possible future move? I curl my legs up to my chest, eager to cling to something.

"What are you thinking?" Dean asks.

"I don't know. It sounds like you have everything figured out." And I don't. Not with Dean. Not with life. Do I want to quit my job, even now? 

"Look, I shouldn't have brought it up. I just..." He sighs heavy into the phone. "It's not a bad thing, right, to think about?"

I think of all the times I've fantasized about me trying on white dresses. "No," I whisper.

"I didn't mean to make you mad or freak you out. It's just, I want you know I'm not just wasting time with you. That if this wasn't going anywhere, I wouldn't do it. Ok?


"I think maybe I'll drive down next weekend."

"I thought you were going to visit your sister?"

"I can change that," he says.

"It's an eight and a half hour drive."

"I'd drive eight and a half hours to see you. No problem."

"You already had plans with your sister. Don't change that just because I'm having a hard time."

"Don't be a martyr, Kace."

My voice raises. "That's not what I'm trying to do."

"Ok. I just don't want you think that you're not worth my time. You're my girlfriend, I haven't seen you since Valentine's and that was what - 4 weeks ago? - and I want to see you."

Even though we just fought? But that's the thing I'm learning about Dean. It's not a math equation of he gives, then I give, and everything has to even out at the end. This is grown up and big, and lots of the time, it's uneven.

"Ok?" Dean asks.

I smile. "Ok."