Christmas: Small Town

I live  in  a small town. We have a chamber of commerce, but no mayor.I found out this year that we also have a tree lighting ceremony. I only found out  because a family member was going to have a booth.

A BOOTH!

There was singing, and shopping, free coco and coffee, free hot dogs… three fire trucks and such a sense of community . Santa walked around, taking pics with and talking to the kids. Even 10 year old snotty kids who say “I don’t believe in you.”

Yes, there were moments. Precious moments, but also one where I turned into my mom. I’m not proud, but boy howdy was it effective. When he was complaining that he was bored, we couldn’t hear the speakers over the generators that gave us light, and he was nagging nagging nagging…. I turned to him and said “Fine. We’ll leave! Since I can’t enjoy it anyways…” and started stomping off.

Oh no mommy. I just can’t hear. 

Neither can I. stomp stomp.

I wanted to be here and be with you. It just now how I thought it would be. I wanted it to be special.

See the moon up there, and that one bright Light? That’s a star. That’s grandma, looking down on us celebrating her favorite holiday. See all those people? that’s our community, and we’re coming together to light this tree in honor of those who have gone before us. Like grandma.

We stayed. It became special. God shone down from above, and lit the way. We met neighbors.

And this is Christmas. 

Guest Author Nicole Givens Kurtz

Nicole is one of my favorite authors. The Cybil stories are addictive and have more energy than the first cup of coffee in the morning.

 

 

Introduce yourself and tell us a little about why you’re visiting the blog today.

A: I’m Nicole Givens Kurtz and I’m visiting today to discuss my upcoming release, Cozened: A Cybil Lewis Novel.

What inspires your stories?

A: Strong women inspire me. Life inspires my stories. “Strong female” is a very conscious effort on my part. I went this route because I’m a woman, but moreover, I wanted to depict women doing in fantastical stories what we do in real life. We’re strong, talented, and multi-faceted in our abilities. So why wouldn’t we be all those things in fantastical stories? We would! Cybil is the most independent character, because she had come to rely on very few people. It makes her a challenging character to write, but it also allows for deeper exploration too. Far too often in speculative fiction, it’s the male saving the universe, or the white character saving the day. I wanted to see the women, but moreover women of color doing the saving, solving the case, and being awesome. Because we can and we do.

 

Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?

A: Jane is my favorite character because without her, Cybil would most likely be dead. Jane is the grounding that Cybil needs. The calm, realistic voice that speaks up and notes the things that Cybil may miss due to her rushing in where angels fear to tread personality.

Nicole, you’ve been writing for quite a while now.  What are some things that you’ve learned on this journey from aspiring writer to writer with multiple titles under your belt?

A: Learn the industry, and be fearless. Many times I failed to listen to my instinct, but instead let fear and in some cases, intimidation, cause me to miss opportunities. There are so many avenues for success, but you have to learn those roads before you travel. I leapt right in and found myself in some scary places, publishing wise. My advice is to talk to those in the industry, trust but verify, and be fearless in your belief in your craft and where it can take you.

 

Tell us about your upcoming projects.

A: I’m currently working on a short story in the Lawless Lands Weird Western Anthology and my novella, Akuba: The Devourer will be released in 2017.

 

Read on for an excerpt of Cozened.

cozened_coverart-300x450

Something about seeing someone smeared over Freedom Square with its historic quotations and long dead implications made me shudder. It wasn’t right.

The shiny moonlight revealed glistening drops that led off from the man’s body on to the impenetrable trees that dotted the pavement along the square. A reminder of a time when the United States wasn’t a jigsaw puzzle of territories, the vegetation had part of continuing Thomas Jefferson’s law to keep D.C. beautiful.

Now, no one even flew their vehicles this close to the ground unless landing.

“What the heck?” Without even realizing it, I’d drifted over to the violation scene once more for closer inspection. My eyes squinted as they tried to focus on the substance.

“Stop!” A regulator resembling a brick wall with a tan jumped in front of me just as I reached the liquid trail’s beginning a few feet from the cautionary beam. Between the beam and the brute, they’d managed to keep all citizens out of the violation scene. Beneath his uniform, muscles bulged against the fabric, threatening to rend the material.

“You’re not authorized to be here!” The monstrous regulator’s deep voice sounded like it had been modified from an audio file. Lips firmly pressed together and trunk-sized arms crossed over his chest, I knew immediately that my usual sweet-talking charm wasn’t going to melt his ice.

“Well, Regulator Tom said…” The lie formed on my tongue and slid off like a snake.

“I said what?” Daniel quipped from behind me.

I groaned. I needed to see those stains closer.

“She’s leaving, Ron.” Daniel frowned at my actions, no doubt. He grabbed my arm and directed me over to a somewhat secluded spot several paces away.    “Are you trying to get me fired?” he asked heatedly once we were out of earshot.

“You invited me here!” I removed his hand from my arm. I turned slightly away from him. His fingers brushed my arm in a half-hearted attempt to reclaim it.

“If the captain finds you here…”

“I know. So why wake me up just to jerk my chain?” I didn’t want to argue with him. Daniel’s arguments could go on for eternity, even if I’d died midway through the debate.

“No, but go home. I’ll let you know when I get more.”

I didn’t quite know how to respond to that and retain my dignity, so I stood with my arms crossed and my face fixed at pissed.

“I needed you to ID him, all right? You keep telling me you don’t know who he is, though the look on your face tells me you do. Since you won’t make the identification, I’ve got to put you back with the citizens.”

With his hand on my shoulder, he moved me toward the crowd of hungry spectators. Perhaps it was more guiding than dragging. I seemed to gravitate to my wauto. I didn’t tell him or anyone about the inky dark spots. No doubt the regulators’ vioTechs would locate and misinterpret them. This wasn’t my case and I wasn’t getting paid. Home sounded better and better.

I paused before getting into the pilot’s seat. Behind the caution beam, doctors removed chunks of the body into a body bag and hauled it away on a levitating dolly. Flashes from digital cameras lit up the early morning sky. The cool air seemed to suck all the strength out of me.

Death.

No matter how often I saw it, regardless of what form it took, it made me reflect on just why I did this kind of work. The loss of human life always unnerved me. Well okay, not always. When someone is trying to silence you truly permanently, then no, I don’t weep for the bastard who eats the other end of my laser gun.

Yet, this accident dropped a sharp stab into my emotional soft spots, the ones I usually keep covered with my own internal Kevlar vest.

As I sank into my wauto’s leather seat, images of him swirled across my vision like contact lenses—suctioned on, refusing to let go until the tears washed them out. I didn’t cry, not then. I wanted to, but I couldn’t.

The body no longer resembled a human being, but a battered hunk of meat.

Once he had been handsome, healthy, and one hell of a lover.

His name had been Carlos Rodriguez.

 

 

NICOLE GIVENS KURTZ is the published author of the futuristic thriller series, Cybil Lewis. She also writes horror and dark fantasy. Her novels have been named as finalists in the Fresh Voices in Science FictionEPPIE in Science Fiction, and Dream Realm Awards in science fiction. Nicole’s short stories have earned an Honorable Mention in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest, and have appeared in numerous anthologies and publications.

The Friend

I started Nanowrimo, and  I have shown up to write everyday. But my wordcount, it isn’t what it should be. I still have faith, though. I also have friends with faith.

And I have a friend who puts action to it.

After work, she saw me on social media. Facebook, to be exact. She posted for me to get off and go write. So I did. Last night, she called, we talked for a bit, then she told me to go write, and  I did. 

Then the phone calls and texts started coming, and I needed them, but I bounced hard out of my story. So I did what any self respecting writer would do.

I called Linda, told her what was going on. After a few minutes, she told me to go write.

AND SO I DID.
Thank you.

Writers Brain

I have a nice long commute to work.On the way in, I often talk on the phone for most of the hour and 20 minutes I’m on the road. The way home is a different story.

I rock out to some 80s music, plot out my current stories..

 And flat out make shit up.

Such as… I was sitting in traffic, bit only my lane of the 4 south bound lanes was stopped. Loozing at the little blue prius in front of me, i thought wouldn’t it be weird if someone stopped because they were hallucinating a car in front of them? The traffic jam they thought they were in is actually caused by them. 

Traffic started moving, my brain wandered onto other things… aND I noticed it wasn’t a little blue prius in front of me. My heart dropped, and I caught my breath.

Holy shit! 

Then the car moved over, and there was my friendly little blue prius..I’ve never been so relieved to see a strangers car in my life.

And that, my lovelies, iso what having a writers brain is like.


Do you Nanowrimo?

Do you do Nanowrimo in November?

First, let me back up. Nanowrimo happens in November, which happens to be National Novel Writing Month. There’s an even where a bunch of us crazy writerly types go and try to write a novel of 50,000 words during the month of November. It’s a crazy, fun time and…

Very crazy.

What do you get out of it? Well… if you complete it, you get a rough draft of a novel which can be whipped into shape. There’s a whole community built around NanoWriMo (just in case the link doesn’t work:  http://nanowrimo.org/  ) I’m registered and ready to go.

That’s right. I am back to writing fiction and I’m going after it in a big way. I’ve started plotting my novel, and am in the process of recruiting Drill Sergeants. Chill leaders are great~ I love them, and I have so many of them. But what I need is someone to hold me accountable. Someone to say, have you written your words today? Why not? How are you going to make them up? When are you going to make them up?

And I need someone who will not take any of my BS. I’m tired. I’m a single mom. I commute. Sniffle. Sniffle. Boo Hoo.

Nope.

My son is now 10 years old. And yes, I’m often tired and I do spend a lot of time in the car. It doesn’t stop me from using Facebook for eons, or watching Hulu early in the morning. Yip, I just called myself out LOL.And I have people, including my son, who will call me out on it

So. I am Nano’ing.

Are you?

 

No Headaches

I run a weird ship. Because the priceling and I live with my dad and his wife, the only spaces I have are in my room and my garage. I take care of the kitchen, but it’s not my happy place as I don’t enjoy cooking.

Last weekend, I hired someone I know who is just starting their cleaning business. She came in and did a spanking good job on both rooms… so good, in fact, that the kitchen became my happy place.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew what I needed to do. Clean my room, declutter some area, purge purge purge. I started the process, but then life happened and it went on the back burner and…..

I made the call. Help me with my spaces. Please. 

The picture above shows about 1/3 of the crap in my closet. Here’s another  view 

I didn’t think we’d get it done. I Had to make choices:is it useful, does it make me happy?  And does having it on display make my life more serene? Yes, a lot of stuff was cleared out, my art work moved around, just so I can breathe in here again. 

It gets hard to be creative when you’re holding on so tightly to everything. I had insurance bills from 2 years ago, reams of stuff I just didn’t need or want. And some stuff, like the princelings art work went into a file.

After next weekend, when I get the garage done complete with new chairs and a crafting table, I’ll turn that artwork into a scrap book.

Time for me to leave, my lovelies. I feel the urge to put pen to paper. 

My mind is clear.

Here’s a photo of the after

Trust me when I say it had been covered in cords and clutter. It’s now my happy place.

My art collected at Stockton con got a new home, with lots of white space.

Please

How are you doing? She asked. So I proceeded to gripe and whine, not thinking that she had called me.

She doesn’t just call to chat. Even as teenagers, I was the one who could talk on the phone for hours. She does better with eye contact, a shoulder bump….just being there. And yet, she called me.

She told me, after I was done, the words that females dread. We all do. Our hearts stop when we hear the phrase I found a lump.

I babbled. Told her about Planned Parenthood which apparently sucks where she’s at. Told her to check into this and that and all the while my heart had only one prayer.

Please.

Please, God. 

At one point I told her that I didn’t know if I was saying the right things. She said something profoundly true… even just breathing on the other end of the phone would have been the right thing.

She didn’t need my words. She needed my love.

She needed me.

So I will continue calling and texting and pretending to be General Shelton. And I will continue my prayer, my plea.

Please.