Aug. 7th, 2017 09:35 pm
paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)
 The story is done...pretty much. I have the end tag to write, chapter 12. I started posted it on Saturday night. I'll drop a few chapters at a time into the bank until I get chapter 12 done. It should be a fun chapter, giving some resolution, tying off loose ends, a little levity. It may take a bit. Kids are off visiting my sister until Saturday and husband didn't come home--always a bad sign. So tonight, it's piano. I can play piano whatever my mood.
paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)

Why, hello blog. Haven't spoken here in a month. Wow, time flies.

Part of that time was rather productive, and part of it not. Right now, it's not. I am 1 action chapter and 1 final tag chapter away from finishing that blasted story and my motivation has dropped to nothing. Although, I did have the most interesting dream the other morning that an associate editor from NY came out and wanted to examine it in person. We went to McDonald's for coffees and had a very fruitful discussion of my work. Hilarious!! I'd love to see the day editors from NY visit rural IL to discuss the literary merits of a piece of fanfic!

Before I pooped out on my writing drive, I did manage to complete two more chapters, so I'm up to 14. I have 2 paragraphs of 14 done right now, and that was like pulling teeth prying it out of my brain earlier today. 12 and 13 are pretty good, I think.

Maybe if I wasn't so reproductive I would be more productive. I once read an agent's advertisement in a writing journal, saying that her dream client would be proliferative. My snappy answer to that would be, I'm as proliferative as they long as we're not limiting ourselves to a discussion of literary output.

So, since I still can't post my story in its entirety, I'll content myself with a little snippet from chapter...13.

Jamie headed toward the house, dropping his backpack off his shoulders to hang it more fashionably off just one side. He stopped at the top of the front steps and looked back out toward the street. The streetlights hadn’t come on yet, so Phillip probably wouldn’t be back for a little while.
It was then, as he was squinting westward into the sun, that he first saw the stranger. A guy on a bike, a streamlined 12-speed painted a distinctive red, gold, and black, was pedaling up the block at a fast clip. He was a young man, with close-cropped brown hair and a lean, athletic form. He looked like a metropolitan bike messenger who had inexplicably crossed over into Arlington to make a suburban run. And as he passed by Jamie, who still stood atop the front steps, he smoothly arced to the right and pulled up onto the driveway. He peeled around in a tight curve so he faced the way he had come and stopped short.

The man waved an arm and flashed an easy smile as he swung off the bike and walked toward the house. “I have a special delivery. Do you know Amanda Stetson?” As he spoke, he unzipped his lightweight jacket and removed a 10x13 envelope from inside. He stopped at the base of the steps, holding the envelope in both hands.

“That’s my mom.”

The man nodded. “Good, good. I need this to get to her right away. Is she home right now?”

Jamie shook his head. He was inches from the door, and he had a good set of lungs on him for hollering, but the stranger made him nervous anyway. It wasn’t that he seemed particularly threatening. But learning recently about his mother and step-father’s true line of work had Jamie’s imagination running on overdrive. He wondered whether the bike-riding stranger was a Soviet. Maybe he even carried a gun. “My grandma’s here. Do you need someone to sign?”

“Nah, that’s alright,” the man replied smoothly, seemingly untroubled. “This isn’t for anyone but your mom. It’s work-related, if you know what I mean.” His words were light, but his blue eyes were watching Jamie intently, as though to read whether he did indeed know what he meant. Jamie felt butterflies in his stomach. After a beat, the man continued. “It’s for the government part of her job, so that means it’s very important.”

“Oh.” Jamie swallowed.

“Do you watch football?”

“Football?” Jamie quirked an eyebrow in surprise. “Uh, sure. I watch.”

The man nodded thoughtfully and smiled to himself. “I figured. Listen, when the quarterback passes the ball, and the wide receiver catches it, what happens next?”

“I guess he runs with it until he either makes a touchdown or gets tackled.”

“Exactly.” The man stepped forward and pressed the envelope against Jamie’s chest. “Take it,” he said. Then he smiled tightly at the boy. “You’re the receiver. Get this to your mom, because if it gets intercepted by the other side, our team loses. Got it?”

Jamie thought he could actually feel the hair on the back of his neck stand upright. Where the hell was Phillip? “You take it!” he cried, pinching the envelope between two fingers and holding it away from himself like a set of used sweat socks. “I don’t want it.”

“There’s no time, kid,” the man replied, backing away. He threw a sweeping glance up and down the street before turning a keen eye on Jamie once more. “This is the end of the line for me. I don’t plan on getting sacked.” And winking conspiratorially at his reluctant ally, he swung back onto his bike. “When you see her,” he called, “tell her I’m sorry for all the trouble I gave Mr. Stetson yesterday.” He sped off in the direction from which he had come before Jamie could think to ask his name.
paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)

Tonight I have pretty much completed my project of rewriting and reworking all eleven chapters of my story thus far. It has been an ongoing project these last couple of weeks. I have lots of good news as far as that goes. What I did vastly improves what is there, and I'm liking my story and I'm pretty proud of it now. I also managed to plot out the remaining chapters in some detail, working in another spike in the action. I wasn't sure if the action was essentially wrapped up by now, but I found a way to resolve the loose ends, bring in Amanda's family some, and get a little more nail-biting in for the reader while I'm at it. That is exactly what I was aiming for. The trouble I'm having is I can't seem to get a start on those last chapters. It seems I'm waiting for the right burst of energy to come along to put the plan in motion. In the meantime, I'm getting antsy because I really do want to start posting soon.

So, for tonight, I'm going to post a section of a reworked chapter that pleases me.

Lee cast a long, sideways look and a bemused smile her way while he waited for her to finish her diatribe. At the end of it, he simply shrugged. “Maybe we’ve been trying too hard to have it both ways.”


He took her hands in his and studied them, caressing them gently. “I guess I figured it would come to this eventually. Our worlds…” He paused and grimaced, hesitating before he lifted his eyes to hers and revealed his dramatic conclusion. “Well, they don’t mix.” Before Amanda’s spluttering protest could leave her lips, he hastily continued, “Aw, Amanda, just think about it. This business is no place to raise a family.”

At that moment, she wasn’t sure whether she might laugh at him or scream. In lieu of either, she drew her hands away and perched them on her hips as she crested a hot wave of indignation. “Lee Stetson! If you thought it was impossible to mix family and business, what would possess you to marry suburban mom? You of all people know I’ve been juggling both worlds since the day we met at that train station. So what’s changed? Now, after four years, my family is your family, too. Yes, I know that scares you. I understand. But I’m in this as deep as you are, and I’m still moving forward, and you can too. We’re in this together, buster, for better or worse.”

She hadn’t finished speaking her mind before Lee stood up and turned on his heel, filing a hand through his thick hair. And for a long moment, he remained in that spot in silence, facing the window a few paces away, hands stuffed in his pockets. When he turned to face her again, his expression had turned to stone except for the telltale twitch in his jaw, while his hazel eyes widened in a devil-may-care look of nonchalance. Amanda cocked an eyebrow back at him in return, an unspoken question, and made no other reply. She knew better than to let herself be baited. Her husband was near paralyzed with fear, and if her keen understanding of the man hadn’t informed her, his next words to her did.

“There’s too much at stake here,” he declared flatly. “It’s not just you and me in the field anymore.” As her silence lengthened, his hands emerged from hiding and began to slice the air with his agitation, the well-practiced Scarecrow façade rapidly crumbling apart. “Don’t you see it? I put myself out there every day, and so do you. We’re human bull’s eyes. And we watch each other, yes. But my God, Amanda, now there’s another life we have to consider. And it’s not the same as—“ He cut himself off, sucked in a breath, and dropped his hands to his sides, looking disconcertedly vulnerable.

Amanda shot to her feet and came to him, wrapped her arms around him, and held him, her anger spent. For the first time, she could see with startling clarity the extent to which his participation in their joint family life tore open old wounds he had long buried away. She had caught glimpses of them at every major holiday, how his impulse even now was to steal away from the inner circle, stand by on the periphery, never get too close. Reminiscent of their early years of working together, he still kept his station on the outside looking in, figuratively if no longer literally. Lee had spent decades taunting fate with his life, backlash against the losses of so many of the most important relationships he had known. And now that his safety was no longer a matter of relative indifference to him, he must be struggling every day to allow himself the luxury of forging bonds with his ready-made family, let alone a brand new member, a helpless infant for whom he assumed an unparalleled responsibility.

“I know,” Amanda murmured. She squeezed him a little tighter and rubbed the back of his neck. “Sweetheart, I know.”

After a minute, he drew another deep breath. With his forehead resting against hers, his breath warm against her face, he began again, quietly. “It’s not that I don’t love Phillip and Jamie like they’re my own. You know I do. But they’ll be the first to tell you, they have a father. If anything happened to me now…”


His eyes were dark with his troubles when he lifted his head and met Amanda’s soft gaze. “I can’t risk it, Amanda. Not now. I can’t risk leaving you alone.”

She felt the tears flood her eyes as they clung to each other as though their lives depended on it. How long they stood that way, Amanda could only guess. Afterward, she didn’t dare challenge him any further. That night, Amanda proposed finishing her current coursework and remaining a level two agent. The next morning, Lee approached Billy about the State Department offer. It was a shared resolution that could neither please nor satisfy either of the Stetsons. But in the end it would be worth it, because no one would get hurt.


Oct. 26th, 2012 09:16 pm
paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)

Picture this. Sitting in the rear left seat of a cab with the approximate space of an old VW Bug, shuddering with the noise and sensation of lousy suspension and no muffler, rumbling down the pavement at an increasing rate of speed, until...launching up, airborne, to approximately 7000 feet. That is what I did today. It was a splendid opportunity to fly to a tourist destination Husband and I would never have thought to visit--normally about a 5-hour drive--and stay the night in a motel with neat features like an in-room double-sized whirlpool tub. Coupled with my girls'-day-out excursion to Chicago with my sister in law last weekend, I'm feeling pretty cosmopolitan right now. Okay, not really. I'm feeling completely exhausted. I'm strung out on the after-effects of Dramamine, which is imperative for me to handle small aircraft with any dignity. We had a nice overnight trip with a couple from church--he's a retired Army captain who has flown many kinds of aircraft for many years. They wanted us to accompany them on a trip in their single engine Cesna, and there you have it. When will an opportunity like that ever come knocking again?

In other news, I got back in the saddle and revamped my SMK story. I spent a particularly long time reworking chapter 2, which makes me much more eager to complete the story now. In particular, I developed the antagonist(s) further. I'm going to post some of this chapter tonight. Unfortunately, I'm working the weekend, so I probably won't be writing anything new until at least Sunday night. Oh well, you take it where you can. So, without further ado, Chapter 2 segment:

Lee turned to peer over his shoulder in time to hear the bells jangling as a sandy-haired businessman not much older than Carolyn stepped into the room. He was tall and lean, with boyish facial features, well dressed in a suit and tie, and carried a briefcase in one hand, and a pistol in the other. To Carolyn, he said sharply, “It’s time to go.”

Lee lifted his chin knowingly. The other shoe had dropped. Without so much as a blink, he plastered on his best lazy grin and casually leaned against the reception counter. Gesturing toward the gun, he drawled, “Does this method get you much business, Mr. Alexander?”

“I’m not Alexander, and you know it. Now shut up and give me the letter,” the man spat back. His pistol was trained on Lee, and he remained at a comfortable distance, directly in front of the door.

“What letter?”

The gun shook in his hand. “I’m not playing the game anymore. I know who you are. Just hand it over and get out of here.”

Lee abandoned leaning on the counter and stood erect, but made no other move toward extracting the message. He set his jaw and smiled tightly. “You know me? Well, then let’s make the introduction complete. You are…?”

“Someone who should have shot you by now.” His eyes darted toward Carolyn and returned to watch Lee again as Lee begin to make a move toward his jacket. “Slowly,” the gunman barked. “And drop your gun right here.” He indicated a spot on the floor between them with the toe of his shoe.

Lee held open both sides of his jacket. “Hey, man, I’m unarmed. I’m just here for an 8:00 meeting with Mr. Alexander.” He casually strode forward one step, then another. “It’s about a job,” he continued, removing his tri-folded résumé from the same inside pocket as the drop letter. “See?” He extended the paper toward the man with a smug smile.

The man hesitated, confused. He exchanged glances with Carolyn, who still stood wide-eyed and mute behind the counter, hands tightly gripping the back of the desk chair. He took the document from Lee’s outstretched hand. “It is a résumé,” he said wonderingly as he inspected it.

That distraction was all Lee needed. In one fluid motion, his left leg swiped upward and cleanly kicked the gun from his assailant’s grip. Then Lee descended on him, fists flying. In the back of his mind, he was aware the woman was with the gunman, and he kept a mental tab on the location of the errant gun so it wouldn’t wind up in her hands. Although he couldn’t deny she didn’t seem the type to know what to do with a gun even if it were placed in her hands for her.

Lee’s adversary turned out to be more evenly matched to Lee’s hand-to-hand combat skills than he would have wished. The man recovered almost instantly from his surprise at being disarmed, and deflected Lee’s first left hook, countering with a straight to his jaw that send Lee reeling. He leapt onto Lee in a tackle, knocking him to the floor, and the two grappled there, alternately swinging punches and reaching for the gun, which had skittered across the floor under a chair. Lee’s opponent stood up again, taking the time to bellow at the woman, “Get out, Carolyn!” She froze in shocked horror for an instant before she burst through the reception office door, bypassing the gun entirely, and ran out the lobby door, bells ringing tumultuously in her wake.

Lee and his opponent held each other off, staggering toward the reception window, where Lee ended up on the countertop with the unknown man on top of him, pinning him. An elbow came shooting down toward his gut. Lee twisted, narrowly missing the elbow, and braced his foot against the man’s groin, effectively launching him away. It didn’t quite achieve the desired effect. The man fell backwards, crab-walked to the chair and gained control of the gun again.

As the barrel came sweeping up in his direction, Lee pulled to an immediate halt, palms open, facing outward, bracing himself for the inescapable impact of bullet to flesh. “Oh come on, man!” he cried in a last ditch attempt to diffuse his assailant. “Stop while you’re ahead. You haven’t killed anyone yet.” He mentally cursed himself for allowing the man to regain his weapon. It had been known to happen before, and Lee profoundly disliked the situation every time.

Against every reasonable expectation, the man held his fire. With gun and eyes fixed on Lee, he instead reached backward blindly and picked up the briefcase he had dropped at the beginning of their fight, clutching it tightly against his chest. He stumbled to his feet, eyes wild. “You want to end it? Fine. The letter for your life,” he demanded in a shaking voice, breathing hard.

Lee had faced off against many a gunman in his work. This one would be sealed in his memory for one reason only. Humanity glistened in his eyes, the haunted look of a man horrified by his own actions. They lacked the coldness of most men long hardened by this covert game to the death called espionage that Lee knew and played so well. Perhaps the young man had never killed someone before. Perhaps he had and didn’t want to repeat the experience. But at that moment, Lee knew this man did not want to shoot him.

Slowly, Lee reached back into his jacket for the letter, contemplating how to buy himself more time. “Then come and get it, if it’s worth that much to you…”

A muffled cry from Carolyn, outside in the adjoining corridor, interrupted them. “Lenny, the ambulance is here!” she screamed, fear evident in the rising inflection of her voice.
To Lee’s surprise, the man’s interest in the letter, still held in Lee’s outstretched hand, vanished. He swore an oath and his face went pale as he reeled away from Lee toward the corridor, ripping the door open as he reached it.

“What’s going on?” Lee demanded with a scowl.

At the threshold, the gunman turned around once more and paused, eyes locked with Lee. “It’s too late now. Just get out of here,” he said wearily. Then, as an afterthought, he added, “I’ll give you a five-count.” And he dashed out the door and was gone.
paulak_rumin8: (smk-so in love)

The big question is, where do I go from here? I finished chapter 9 last night, and the story seems to be falling into place well enough, but the end of the chapter took an unexpected turn on me, and now I have to plot a way out of it. No worries. I'm sure I'll come up with something soon enough. Anyway, I'm posting a little piece of 9 here. I have to admit, using this blog as a preview forum does help keep me on track. So, without further ado...

She took the flares and walked back to the road, activating them as she drew close. She had placed the second one when a series of sharp cracks from deeper in the woods startled her. Pale and wide-eyed, she stood frozen, her eyes following the stream of light from Billy’s headlights, willing herself to see into the darkness to the source of what she knew to be gunfire.

“Get back in here!” Billy shouted.

She ran for the car at once, stumbling on the wet leaves underfoot until she reached the door Billy had thrown open and tumbled inside. She yanked the door closed behind her just as the glare of an oncoming set of high beams was bearing down on them. Passing close enough to scrape against Amanda’s door with a screech like nails on a chalkboard, a dark-colored sedan roared past them from out of the darkness. It jolted violently over the uneven terrain, fishtailing dangerously until it pulled onto the road and continued back the way it had originally come.

Billy and Amanda reflected each other’s stunned expression, running on an adrenaline rush that left their hearts pounding and breathing heavy.

“Are you okay?” Billy exclaimed.

“Fine. Which way do we go now?” But she was already staring into the dim, gray wilderness ahead of them, her course decided.

In reply, Billy seized the radio. “I have gunfire up here. Harvest team, scramble. Repeat, scramble. Harvest 3, the vehicle is headed your way at a high rate of speed. Track him. Harvest 1, you’ll get here first. Watch for the flares. We’re going in. Landlord, out.” He turned to Amanda to find her already out of the car and partway up the incline ahead of them.

He caught up with her at the top of the hill, which dropped abruptly down a bluff overlooking the waters of the reservoir. The sun was a golden ball just over the horizon, dissipating the remnants of nighttime mist below. Amanda was kneeling on the ridge, her knee in the soft dirt, fingering a number of spent shells she was collecting in her palm.

“Amanda?” he spoke quietly, approaching her from behind.

She lifted her head and her eyes were glistening as she offered him her prize. He took them from her, and she pulled herself to stand. Her lips were pressed tightly together, hands pushed deep into the pockets of her jacket. “Too late,” she whispered, and she turned away.


Aug. 17th, 2012 01:59 am
paulak_rumin8: (smk-so in love)

Yes, yes yes! After writing and scrapping chapter 7 twice, the third time's a charm. I don't even care that it took me a seven hour block to write it tonight. It is done, and I'm pretty satisfied with it. And bonus, chapter 8 is already done. Hurray! Bring on chapter 9. I may finish this project yet. I'm so tickled, I think I'll post a little snippet, just as a teaser.

Amanda tucked the Russian gun into her belt and pulled herself up to stand. “I have backup on the way. I think both of you need to come on in and explain all of this to my superior. Let’s move out into the hall, okay? Slowly.” Amanda had herded the two outside the apartment, and was closing the door behind her when Markin stopped in the middle of the hall and looked at her imploringly.

“Please, don’t take me in. I am being shipped back to Russia in just two days, and you will never have to see me again. Just let Carolyn tell me how to contact her brother.”

“Sergei,” Carolyn exclaimed, frowning with disquiet.

“I need you to come with me, Mr. Markin,” Amanda insisted. “My superior needs to speak to you. I can’t make any deals.”

Markin’s eyes flashed. “Oh no, Mrs. Stetson?” he said in clipped tones. “What if I have information about Lee Stetson? I can guess it is not a coincidence, your names. My superior has been ordered to terminate him, Mrs. Stetson. What if I can tell you when and where he will be taken? Then will you release me?”

Nothing in operative training school teaches a student what she will do in the situation where the life of a loved one rests in her hands, and requires only a small bit of selling out to secure it. Amanda felt the color drain from her face, and her brow furrowed deeply. It was too much to ask, to lay aside one’s feelings for the better good of National Security, and yet she was sworn to do just that. Beads of sweat formed on her lip and brow as she stood frozen, contemplating two equally agonizing and unacceptable choices laid before her. She remembered a time, years ago, when Lee had been in just this place. Under pain of treason, he disobeyed a direct command to rescue her from certain death due to an unfortunate case of mistaken identity. He had done that barely knowing her. She had not yet become his partner, his spouse, his everything.

“I will,” she said.


Aug. 11th, 2012 10:56 pm
paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)
To alleviate my writing angst, I delved into some more fanfiction in the SMK fandom that highly impresses me (and some 50 or so other folks) and stayed up way too late reading it. Twenty-four hours later, I got over myself and addressed chapter 8 again, built it up, treated it with greater consideration, and...I'm back in business again. Chapter 7, I swear I'm going to highlight the entire thing and hit backspace. It reads like our local newspaper. Just the facts, ma'am. Right now, I am again up way later than I ought to be, but this time it's because I failed to wash any of my work pants, so now I'm waiting for the washer to finish so I can put the pants in the dryer and go to bed. Tomorrow is one of those early in, early out work days, followed by a day off, so if things go my way, I can rewrite chapter 7 tomorrow and come back here and gloat about it. We'll see.
paulak_rumin8: (smk-so in love)
I've been having all kinds of fun with the story today. I've been working on chapter 8. Now the problem, here, is I have not yet written chapter 7. Sometimes, though, it's better to write where your passion lies and not necessarily in chronological order. I'll have to get to chapter 7...mmm...tomorrow. I think. We'll see. Anyway, I have a small portion of chapter 8 below, which may be my favorite chapter thus far. I puposely left out the best parts here. Don't want any spoilers or anything!

A sharp, creaking noise signaled the door was being unlatched and he froze and closed his eyes. He heard the door open, and footsteps enter the room. A light was turned on directly above him, causing him to involuntarily squint. He heard a soft chuckle above him to his right.

“Consider this your early wake up call,” said a heavily accented voice. He opened his eyes narrowly, adjusting to the sudden light. Standing over him was a man, an unpleasantly familiar man.


The man smiled faintly. “You remember me. I’m flattered. We haven’t met since Milan in ’81.” He paused, his smile growing more self-satisfied. “Scarecrow,” he acknowledged triumphantly.

Lee steadied himself with a long, slow exhalation. “Don’t go getting sentimental. I haven’t missed you any. What do you want from me? Dare I ask?”

Sadovski shrugged. “We have accomplished most of that. You probably do not remember them, but I was rather enjoying our conversations. Unfortunately, now I have been asked to remove you from our custody. This time is good-bye.”

“Aw,” Lee sighed, feigning disappointment. “And I’m finally awake to say hello. Do I get to pick where you let me off?”

“You are funny. I am sorry to say, the location of your release has been selected for you already. We leave in another thirty minutes.”

“Let me guess. The Potomac?”

Sadovski nodded his appreciation. “Dunbar Reservoir. I find it very beautiful this time of year.” He beheld Lee with regret. “Of course, if this doesn’t appeal to you, there is another option.”

Lee raised an eyebrow and didn’t reply otherwise. He already knew what was coming. At least he had managed to ascertain he hadn’t left the Washington D.C. area.

“Tell me what you know about the State Department’s mole.”

“That’s easy,” Lee said, baring his teeth. “I don’t know a thing. Now you’ll let me go?”

“Then tell me what you know about the Iliankovich Project in East Berlin. What is its cover, and who are your contacts?” He met Lee’s hard gaze with a smirk. “Why not cooperate with me and make this easier on yourself? You have been given no other choice. No one is looking for you anymore.” He stared intently at Lee’s face, searching for that flicker of fear that could be his downfall. Lee steeled himself further, shuttering his feelings behind a stone countenance. “Everyone thinks you were killed in the bombing. So what is it to you? They have given up on you, Lee. As far as your friends are concerned, Scarecrow is dead and gone. You could start over anywhere in the world, and no one would be the wiser. Are they still worth throwing away your life?”



With a confidence he didn’t truly feel, Lee shot back, “My loyalties are spoken for, Sadovsky.”

“Then I guess I am talking to a dead man.”

“Then I guess you are.”

Without fanfare, Sadovsky turned and walked away through the creaky door, leaving the light on. A guard outside pulled the door shut and bolted it with a solid clang.
paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)
We're back! We got an intensive, prolonged appreciation of a large portion of the state of Iowa over the past 60 hours. It's funny how just about every day for the past 6 weeks has been hot and dry, and the day of the family reunion was cool and stormy. Did I pack with that kind of anomaly in mind? Of course not! I did, however, pack exactly the correct amount of diapers for the trip, and when we arrived home tonight, we realized that we are still out of milk and diapers. Funny how they didn't replenish themselves while we were away. Fortunately, I had just enough diapers to go around for the night...until the 3 year old decided to poop himself between application of the bedtime diaper and actual bedtime. So...husband made a fun run out to Wal Mart for emergency diapers, and what the heck, might as well pick up the milk and some dish soap while you're at it, dear.

It's definitely more fun being the mom on these long car trips than being one of the kids, especially with today's technology. When things got a little slow, I whipped out the ol' laptop and watched a couple episodes of Scarecrow and Mrs. King with my ear buds in place. Absolute bliss! Only got a wee bit car sick.

I worked on my latest fanfic a bit during the night, of course, when everyone else went to bed. I accomplished...very little. Unfortunately, I'm stuck again. This time, it's because I can't find the right direction to go. The first couple of attempts don't quite satisfy, and the chances are good if I'm not riveted, my audience won't be either. It's like knitting. When you see there's a mistake in the work, you really have no choice but to unravel what you've done to that point and start over. So there we are. I'll give it another go tonight and see if I can invent a fun resolution to this stalemate.

And finally...just want to put a "thank you" out there to my friends in cyberspace for the well wishes. It's great to have a connection with people you share common interests with, even if you don't share a common geographical locale. My life is richer for knowing you. Good night!


Jun. 27th, 2012 12:50 am
paulak_rumin8: (smk-so in love)
True to my word, I spent a good deal of time writing yesterday, and today I spent a lot more. I'm a good 2000 words into this story, and I believe I have mapped out sufficient suspense and angst to keep it riveting. At least, that's the aim.

I just love how these projects get me researching stuff online. Today I virtually visited the Department of State. I printed off an organizational chart, perused photos, printed maps, and took some notes. Better still, I managed to put much of this information to practical use in the story itself. It sure would be nice if I lived near D.C. so I could check out the State Department buildings personally. Nothing you can get off Google compares to actually being there. Oh well, I do the best I can.

I'm a little torn right now because I'm on a roll and really want to finish the chapter I'm working on (it ends with an evil cliffhanger), but it is already almost 1 a.m. and I do have to work tomorrow. That usually goes better with sufficient sleep. And food, definitely food. Oh, what the heck. I'm finishing the chapter. So, so sorry, tomorrow-self. o_0
paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)
Narration. Therein lies my hangup. I'm stuck on chapter 5 because I can't figure out whose perspective is being narrated, and I can't figure out how to incorporate all the elements I want in a way that isn't a stretch. On top of it, I'm looking at chapters 1 through 4, which, while not too bad, could be improved quite a bit. I think I'm lacking sufficient detail. It's the bane of my writing hobby. Detail. I get too eager to just tell the tale and neglect to give it the detail it needs to pop off the page.

So now I sit at a crossroads. There, to the left, lies the path of distraction (i.e. and spider solitaire). To the right lies obligation (bills, homeschool, housework, job, more bills). Straight ahead looms that shadowy, ominous path of self-doubt we always try to avoid, even though it is just right there, straight ahead, kind of waving. Somewhere in this murky vision lies the path of enlightenment, that blissful haven of writer's joy where words flow in a white-water torrent of genius. Where is that place and why can't I find it?

Husband just answered, "You're too distracted. You should neglect the housework and write more." He's pretty cool, as long as the mortgage gets paid and he has clean underwear.

Probe fic

Dec. 7th, 2011 10:25 pm
paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)
Aftermath (Revised, with Austin's commentary in 1st person, bracketed)

The wall clock displayed 6:30 p.m. and Mickey closed her weekly planner for the last time that day. She checked across the room to the left and saw Austin still there, crouched down on the floor with a box resembling a wireless joystick and three softball-sized, gelatinous-looking orbs, muttering to himself as he carefully positioned them and moved one of the joystick handles this way or that. He had been preoccupied with that particular project for at least the last hour. So far, Mickey couldn’t gather from her own observations what possible purpose  he had in mind for it. She would have asked him about it, but he had been unwilling to talk about anything all day, preferring single-syllable answers and grunts. On the days he was wearing that sort of mood it could be near impossible to shake him out of it. As close as they'd become working together over the past couple of years, he had an inner life that more often than not kept her mystified. {I'm determined to keep my distance from you for a while. I've been strangely affected by the events of the past few days, and I haven't figured out a solution to this imbalance.}

“Hey, Austin,” she called, rising out of her chair. She stretched her arms over her head and leaned left and right, letting her back crack. “I think I’m ready to head home. You need anything else before I go?”

She expected a vague response to the negative and perhaps a muttered good-bye, but instead, he looked up and set aside his joystick. "I'll walk you out," he said. Then he stood and crossed the room towards her, standing some distance away between Mickey and the door. {Distant or not, I will never again leave you to walk out there alone.}

She smiled appreciatively. She didn’t believe there was likely to be any danger walking the twenty feet or so to her car alone, but she wasn’t at all inclined to discourage his company. After her harrowing ordeal with armed gunmen outside Austin’s warehouse residence just four days ago, even standing in that lot when she arrived this morning gave her some anxiety.

While she put away her planner, shrugged into her coat, and picked up her purse, Austin remained stationed in his chosen position, several feet away, looking her way if not directly at her, hands shoved in the pockets of his tan slacks. He sure had been distracted today, even for Austin James. {I'm finding my attention compulsively directed toward you, and I cannot seem to integrate my recent fear for your life into my previous schema of thought. I suspect I might now be irretrievably in love with you, and I don't know what to do with this new thought pattern.}

“Is something wrong?” she asked, trying to sound casual. She was still mentally debating the wisdom of asking him about his aloofness, given that she had some idea of its cause. She wasn’t entirely sure she wanted his answer. He was so private, such a recluse, and between the early hours of Friday morning and late that same night, circumstances had forced him so far outside his comfort zone, he must still be reeling. In the course of one 24-hour period, he had played hero to Mickey in her peril, threatened to quit his post as president of his company, and submitted himself to dinner with Mickey and her family at her home. Certainly she could appreciate his social retreat, even from her, come Monday. All the same, she found it acutely disappointing. It was hard to accept that the consolation of a very bad experience for her was only an additional bad experience for him.

 {I have reached the conclusion that I don't want to talk about it.} “What makes you think something’s wrong?” he shot back, confirming her suspicions by the tautness of his tone.

“Well,” she said lightly, “you’ve hardly said two words together all day. Are you thinking about something?”

He smiled as tightly as he spoke. “I’m always thinking about something.” {Really, Mickey, I don't want to discuss it.}

She came a few steps closer to him. “Anything good?”

Maybe that helped. He exhaled and seemed to deflate a little. {All right, then have it your way...But where do I start?} But then he ran a hand through his hair and said, “Mickey, your mother knows you just work for me.”

Mickey shrugged. “Yes. I’m pretty sure. Why?”

“After dinner on Friday, she told me to come again.”

“She was being polite. She says that to anyone who isn’t a boor.”

“She invited me to Thanksgiving.” {I think your family understands where I'm heading better then either you or I do.}

Mickey had to stifle a smile. She had missed that. Mom could be sneaky. “She knows you live alone. She didn’t want you to be lonely on the holiday.”

“Why would I be lonely?”

“I don’t know, Austin. She just met you. Maybe she assumes everyone who spends Thanksgiving alone must be lonely.”

He opened his mouth, but whatever he was planning to say got checked and didn’t come out. {Does your mom assume I'm your boyfriend because you brought me home for dinner?}

“Austin,” Mickey said emphatically, after a pause, “we’re friends, right? It’s okay if my mother asks one of my friends to come back. It’s fine. It doesn’t mean anything.” She should have stopped there, but a twinge of annoyance prompted her to add innocently, “Do you think she thinks we’re dating or something?” {Oh hell! I knew it! You can read my mind!}

He seemed to recoil a bit, and she was a little sorry she had been so blunt. He grimaced and walked away. He was fretting. She followed him while he made his way to a panel of controls and began to fidget with them. “I was out of line the other day,” he said. {Why didn't I see before how completely inappropriate this was?} He glanced toward her a moment. “I should have brought you home Thursday night, and I had no business being at your family dinner.” Anticipating her objection, he continued quickly, “Even though it was perfectly innocent, it still could have given a very different impression.” Now he looked almost angry. “Secretaries go home at night.” {We've got to go back. This is all wrong.}

“Austin!” she cried, stunned. “Since when have you been concerned when I pull an all-nighter here? There have been plenty of times I’ve worked round the clock for you, starting with day one!” Mentally, she was beginning to kick herself for ever inviting him home to dinner. She hadn’t imagined it would render him ridiculous.

{I need the deprivation tank. I need the deprivation tank.} He began walking again. She followed him again. He frowned, deep in his thoughts. “This was different. You weren’t working.”

Impatiently, she blurted, “And what? Does that mean you were taking advantage of me? You make it sound like I was sleeping with you.” {Why did you say that? That image...I don't need this in my head.}

That little gem stopped him abruptly. His piercing blue eyes glared at her momentarily. {Let's see how you like feeling awkward.} Then he said with irony, “Actually, you were.”

She colored. “Did I miss something?” {See? Not pleasant, is it?}

“You were sleeping,” he said pointedly, “on the couch, and so was I.”

“You were?”


She eyed him curiously. “How long was that?” As far as she knew, he didn’t sleep anywhere but in his modified tool cabinet.

“About twenty minutes.” {This was phenomenal, for me.}

For a moment her eyes widened, and then a great laugh burst out of her that she simply couldn’t contain. “That’s it?” she cried. With grand merriment, she added, “I don’t think I’d admit that.” {Apparently, it was less than phenomenal for you.} Her amusement faded when she realized he seemed embarrassed. He obviously wasn’t appreciating the humor of the situation. “Austin,” she said, more gently. “I can’t believe you’re taking this so seriously. I know it was a weird situation. I was upset. You were just being there for me. You were being a good friend. Really, that’s it. Nothing’s changed.”

“Nothing’s changed,” he echoed, looking at her with some sort of inscrutable expression. Did he doubt? {Are you blind? Have I ever experienced this degree of positive emotive energy elicited by another human being? I want you so bad I might combust.}

“Nothing,” she insisted. {So this is nothing. Let me show you 'nothing'.}

That inscrutable expression was still fixed on her when he took two strides toward her, curled his arm around her back, dipped his head down to hers and pressed his lips against hers firmly. For an instant she stiffened in utter surprise, and then she closed her eyes and made herself relax. This development was unexpected, but not unwelcome. His kiss was lengthy and insistent. Whatever it was lacking in tenderness it was making up for in conviction. When it ended, he eased her upright again, the solid pressure of his hand still present on the small of her back. She was glad for it, or she may have fallen over, such was her feeling of imbalance in the aftermath of the embrace.

Mickey felt electrically charged and slightly shaky in the legs. She couldn’t immediately find her voice, and neither, it seemed, could Austin. She had been mistaken. Something had changed between them, and probably more radically on his side than hers. She had always admired him, trusted him, maybe even loved him if she was willing to own it. But knowing him and his impenetrable solitude, she had long ago buried any romantic inclinations. Now they stood looking at each other, unsure of what to do or what to say. {There's no going back. I am in completely unfamiliar territory, Mickey. I hope you wanted that as much as I did. Or did I scare you? I can't tell by the look on your face. Please, say something.} Finally, she licked her tingling lips and stammered breathlessly, “Y-You told me the u-universe was all you could handle.”

{I'm recently convinced the universe has nothing on you. And since we've cleared up our misunderstanding, I intend to repeat this behavior frequently... even if it means a Thanksgiving dinner lies in my future.} A slow, sheepish smile crept across his face. “I changed my mind.”


paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)

August 2017

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