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.

paulak_rumin8: (smk-so in love)

I finished chapter 11 tonight. It's all of 2700 or so words, and I reads okay, but I need sleep and a fresh perspective to tell for sure. I thought about posting a section of it here, but it's so full of spoilers I don't think I'd better. The best part of the chapter is the dialogue, which I think is pretty fun. The part I'm a bit insecure about is whether it's fully performing its duty in moving the plot forward. I suppose, at worst, it's fluff. Everyone likes a little fluff, right?

Speaking of insecurities (Alright, I'll admit I'm being tongue-in-cheek here. I don't mean it), I was visiting yesterday and saw that not only is one of my favorite SMK writers in the midst of posting a multi-chapter piece, but now one of my top three, dang-I-wish-I-was-that-good writers is also posting a multi-chapter story. I am not ashamed to admit, my first reaction upon seeing her there was an audible squeal.

In case there's anyone who visits me and has a yen for some Scarecrow and Mrs. King fic, here are my top three favs:

Amilyn (also has written a Probe drabble, good woman)

Mary (my number 1 favorite, especially a piece called 'True Companions.' Unfortunately, she hasn't posted anything new in quite a few years)

Resourceful (writes beautifully descriptive pieces with strong characterizations that pull you right into the scene, up close and personal)

I also give honorable mention to inner thoughts, who weaves lovely tales that emphasize the domestic life of the Stetsons, and her dialogue is spot-on and fluffy fun to read.

I hate to stop there, because there are others I also have enjoyed very much, so I'll bow out with the caveat that this is by no means an exhaustive list of amateur writers who bring me joy.
paulak_rumin8: (smk-so in love)
It will absolutely be a miracle if I get this story finished. I completed chapter 10 tonight, a week later than I was aiming for. With the help of schedule demands, raging hormones, and the usual assortment of internal doubts, my progress is slow going. The latest inner demon: the idea I'm working off of is sooooo unoriginal. It is borderline cliche.

Appropriately, the latest issue of my favorite writer's trade journal features an article on the inner demons that derail our writing efforts. I'm sure I'll recognize many of my project companions when I read it.

Off the project subject, I am so unbelievably tired. I take a shower and then I take a rest. Every day I'm off work, I'm having a nice little nap sometime before lunch. How my older children haven't guessed there's a sibling in the works, I don't know. Apparently, Mom collapsing on the sofa midday for several days running isn't particularly noteworthy. Maybe they're just accustomed to this sort of behavior, given that their father works nights.

Somebody is visiting my Probe story (stories) on Wattpad, I noticed. Maybe when I get this SMK piece finished and posted, I'll try and finish out that Probe story I left hanging. That would give me some satisfaction.
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. 6th, 2012 04:52 pm
paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)

About seven months ago I read a fanfic so good it was scary. Totally threw me off the story I was working on at the time and gave me a lot of incentive to improve my descriptiveness. Today I made the tactical error of revisiting the same fanfic. That piece is still scary good. It is humbling just to read it. I still can't figure out how to incorporate that level of sensory awareness without bogging down the plot. If I had to pinpoint where this writing style excels (and I struggle) it must be in pacing. The author seems to have an intuitive sense for when to amble forward with the plot and when to sit and stay a while.

I wrote the first third of Chapter 7 last night. I was really going to try and finish up that chapter today, but I feel a need to retreat for a bit. Maybe I'll watch some SMK episodes and catch some inspiration.

Maybe if I spent more time reading books I would have a more expansive vocabulary. I have a pretty good range, as far as nouns and adjectives. I feel really stifled when it comes to verbs and adverbs. I keep using the same favorite set over and over, which gets tedious. Describing facial expressions is difficult, too. I can see it, but to get it in written form is a challenge. How many synonyms are there for the word "look"? I need five more than that.

I pulled apart a little piece of chapter 8 to try and rewrite it more vividly, but that is not working out right now and I'm getting frustrated with it. Must remind myself not to read fanfic while I write fanfic. That sure stirs up all the little neuroses.
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: (smk-so in love)

As promised, I am camped out here at my desk with my laptop in front of me, gamely plowing through the elusive chapter 5. It's such a strange and wonderful thing, this writing experience. You go into it with some certain framework in mind, and then things kind of take a twist and go off in a direction you never premeditated. The result of today's effort was unintentionally comical. I thought it would be dark, but something else kind of took over. Anyway, I'm posting a portion of chapter 5 now, and I'm finishing off chapter 5 later tonight, when the kids are in bed.

Have I mentioned I truely love to write...even when I hate to write. :)

“I hope you got everything you wanted from that,” black-haired, Roman-nosed Gustav Veis growled with a mouth twisted into something resembling a smile. “Do not think that I will supply you with any more of that serum, Yan. Need I remind you of the expense?” He allowed Yan Sadovski, a distinguished looking man of about sixty with a round face, graying temples and an impeccable suit, to pass out of the dingy holding cell ahead of him, and pulled the door closed behind.

Sadovski sniffed in disgust. “The expense. I have more than covered the expense with the prize in this room.” He pressed a carefully-filed fingertip against the cell door. “The serum is the key to unlocking a treasure of American intelligence. The price is small.”

Veis turned on his heel and laughed harshly. “You do not yet know the price, Yan. Your assignment was to escort James Albertson and his intelligence documents out of Washington. You have accomplished neither. Albertson is missing. The documents are missing. And all you have to show for it is a drugged up federal agent who clearly knows nothing of this operation. Will Moscow be impressed?” He shrugged indifferently. As the two began walking down the dim-lit hallway, Veis cast a sidelong glance at the older man and cocked an eyebrow. “I must say the bombing is questionable. Was that part of the plan?”

“Albertson is an imbecile,” Sadovski spat, his face darkening with his mood. “He must have used five times the amount of explosive necessary for the pickup. He did that himself.”

“The State Department is calling it a KGB attack on American soil.”

At this, Sadovski stopped abruptly and pulled Veis’ arm to stop him mid-stride. “Where have you heard this?”

Veis smiled, but all humor had left his expression. “Where have I not heard this? It is on every television station, every radio news report. I am surprised you have not received notice from the embassy yet.” He began walking down the shadowy corridor again, toward a stairwell door at the end. Reluctantly, Sadovski followed. “Oh yes, Yan. The media are waiting for the KGB to claim responsibility. A man was killed in the blast.”

“Killed? Do we know who?”

With a meaningful stare, Veis replied, “We can guess.”

“Albertson!” Sadovski exclaimed ruefully. He let out a strangled groan. “I am sure you are right. The man was an imbecile. And we will all suffer for it.” He stopped again at the stairwell door. “You are a sensible man, Gustav. What will we do when the embassy calls?”

Veis leaned against the doorway, folded his arms, and closed his eyes. “Ah-h, Yan,” he drawled, “it is not my concern. You will do whatever Moscow tells you to do.” His eyes opened again, and he smirked. “And if it were my problem, I would be very clear that my idiot operatives brought back the wrong man without my knowing. I would wash my hands of this nonsense as soon as possible.” He clapped Sadovski once on the shoulder and entered the stairwell. “And I would not purchase any more expensive truth serum from Comrade Veis,” he called over his shoulder as the door swung shut behind him.


Jul. 18th, 2012 09:58 pm
paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)

Brace yourself...self, it is happening again...

Back for another round, new story, same nemesis...

attack of the killer self-doubt!!

Somehow, I get about 9 or 10 thousand words into a story and start freaking out. I'm sure this has been done before. Who would want to read this? Why did I think this was any good? Who's watching the kids and washing the clothes?! B'gone, foul Word document!

I am taking a 4-day weekend, though, and I have every intention of plowing through this and producing chapter 5.

Strangely enough, my first Scarecrow and Mrs. King effort, that little ficlet I did, actually got someone reading the portion of my Probe fic on She asked where to get Probe DVDs, so I referred her to Probe Resurrected. I guess that was worthwhile.

On a slightly different note, I came across the most awesome SMK fanvid I've seen. I love the song, and she did such a nice job with the clips. It's one of those I can just watch over and over. It even makes me a little teary. I think it's the way she mixes a series of later episode clips and then puts in a pilot clip. The contrast hits me. The Lee Stetson character undergoes such an amazing transformation over the first 3 years after he meets Amanda King, and the video does a terrific job of highlighting that change. Hopefully, this link works.

paulak_rumin8: (smk-so in love)

The ball is rolling on my latest project, and I'm just taking a moment to remember my little blog over here. As much as I enjoy losing myself in a writing project, it does have its drawbacks. I have a tendency to isolate myself, for one. At the moment, however, I have a house empty of everyone except one sleeping toddler, so I can indulge a little. I'd be writing right now, but I hit a tough spot and I haven't come up with a good way of tackling it yet. So while I think on that, I'll attend to my dreamwidth account and share a little piece of the current story which I am particularly proud of. My goal is to complete chapter 4 by the end of the day. I know how the chapter ends, so it's just a matter of steering it that way. This snippet is from chapter 3.

Francine gave Billy’s door a tentative knock before opening it a crack. Inside, Billy was on the phone, pacing the room, and he was most unhappy.

“No, don’t take my message. I’ll wait…Is that right? Then you tell Culpepper I’ll see him in person in ten minutes…No? Then remind him I was assured this was a status green drop, and my agent was assured this was a status green drop. Do you think I sent him over because he’s expendable?! I don’t know what the hell happened, but I want some answers, now!” He turned toward the door and saw Francine with Amanda behind her and motioned them in. Francine gently pushed the door shut and Billy held the phone out to her. “Take this,” he said in a low voice, but his eyes were on Amanda.

It seemed as though time stood still, and Amanda’s breath caught in her throat at the look on Billy’s face. She had seen the look before. He was their capable section chief, whom she had known for four years. Even in the midst of incredible pressure and the ugliest of internal adversity he maintained such a steady hand over The Agency’s environment, but the deep creases around his brow and mouth and the beads of sweat on his face always betrayed his feelings. Something terrible was happening. Amanda felt herself sinking numbly onto the nearest chair.

“Amanda,” he said kindly.

She gave a slight nod of the head and held his gaze without flinching. Softly, she answered, “Is he dead?”

Billy dropped heavily into a chair across from her, leaning forward, hands on his knees, deciding his answer. He grimaced. “I really don’t know, Amanda. I hope not. All I know at this time is he’s missing.” He paused to watch Amanda’s reaction. Her face betrayed nothing of her feelings, and she made no reply. He continued. “I sent him on a drop, a very safe drop. It should have been ten seconds, in and out.”

“A status green,” Amanda said, recalling Billy’s phone conversation.

“Right,” he confirmed. He rubbed his eyes and stood up again, automatically resuming his pacing. He stopped briefly and turned his attention to Francine as she lowered the phone back onto its cradle. “Did we get anywhere?”

Francine shook her head and lowered her eyes uncomfortably. “They’re just as surprised as we are, and they don’t seem to know much more.”

“Dammit,” he spat, discharging more frustration by launching back into more vigorous pacing.

Amanda followed him with her eyes. “Sir,” she said when he reached his desk and turned for another lap down the length of the room. “What happened?”

Billy paused in his pacing and released a long, weary breath. “There was a bomb, C-4 plastique. It blew out the front of the building he was in. Emergency workers have put out the fire. They’re searching the debris, and so far they’re coming up empty. Maybe he got clear.” He stopped. His words sounded hollow even to himself, and he didn’t miss the corresponding wince from Francine. In a lower voice, he continued, “But his car is still in the public parking lot over there. And he hasn’t called in a status report. That’s everything I know, Amanda. I’m sorry.”

For a while, she pondered this information in silence. The muffled din from the bullpen was all that disrupted the stillness. Francine looked questioningly toward Billy, but his attention was on Amanda, gazing thoughtfully at her hands in her lap. He waited until she lifted her eyes to meet his and rose to her feet. She addressed Billy evenly. “All right, what do you want me to do?”

Billy regarded her sternly. “That depends. I need to know how you’re going to play this. Will you be Scarecrow’s partner, or Lee’s wife? It’s your call.”

“Scarecrow’s partner,” she said firmly.
paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)

As seems to be the norm when I embark on these new writing projects, I have begun the Fanfiction Weight Loss Plan. It involves being preoccupied with the computer and the contents of my head for hours at a time and basically forgetting about little things like eating and sleeping. I'm down 5 pounds since my birthday. That's okay. I could stand to lose another 5 or so anyway.

Today I went to a family party in the city, so I didn't accomplish much in the way of the latest project. However, the night is still young, and I don't have to get up early tomorrow. Things could change. What I did accomplish was mapping out the overriding plotline and a number of intriguing twists that I think will be moderately heart-wrenching and satisfyingly poignant. Lots of suspense and mystery, too. Of course, none of it is actually written yet, so let's not get too excited at this point.

I also enlisted the help of a beta. I've never gone the beta route, so I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing, but I have a contact anyway and we'll just see where it goes. I imagine this is like having a personal editor, someone who hopefully picks up on your errors of grammer, logic, timing, and canon. I'm supposed to return the favor to this gal, and this is my plan of action.

Oh dear, so much to say and so much overtired cranking going husband is trying to get to bed before going in to work tonight. Suppose I should attend to my duties and save these ideas of mine for a more agreeable time!


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


Jun. 24th, 2012 09:37 pm
paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)
Don't let the subject line fool you. It's a nod to that terrific "They Might Be Giants" song that seems so perfectly fitting for the anniversary of my birth. Actually, I see the years as a blessing, and aging as an adventure. My only gripe: too little income, too few road trips. I'd love to be taking more family road trips.

So, in honor of my birthday, I asked Husband for the gift of time. Tomorrow I want a good number of hours by myself to write. I landed on a plotline today compelling enough to make me want to pen the story, so I'm wasting no time. I have notes I took at work and later in the car (parked, not driving along) to get me started on chapter one, and I have the second chapter broadly mapped out. I'm hoping this flash of creative brilliance doesn't fizzle out in a day, as certain prior ones have done.

Husband and I went on a date Friday, and visited a favorite used media store in a nearby town. It's a really old building, full of little rooms and narrow staircases, with three levels. On the upper level, I found boxes full of TV Guides from the '70s and '80s. I took home a copy from July, 1987, which featured an article with Kate Jackson, reflecting on a low point in her life at that time: the demise of Scarecrow and Mrs. King and a recent bout with breast cancer. One day, she got in her car and just drove from Los Angeles to Aspen, Colorado. She sat there in Aspen, trying to figure out where to go next, until she realized the things on her mind would come along no matter where she went. That sounds familiar. I wrote something like that years ago in a journal, when I had a hankering for a spontaneous road trip to anywhere, just to get away from it all. But I already had that foresight that told me it wouldn't change anything. You can't lose the troubles of your mind with miles. Only the passing of time relieves that bother.

Even at the tender age of 39 (smirk), I can reflect back with some satisfaction at the distance I've acheived from certain humiliating life events, knowing that probably nobody remembers much of that garbage but me. And yet, oh what fodder it makes for the writing muse! The TV Guide article prompted a train of thought that brought  me to a new story idea. And bonus, I have a fan fiction plot brewing.

All right, then. Enough of this talking about it. Now, I'll sign off and get busy.
paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)
Finally, I got some inspiration and wrote something tonight. Thus, I'm up at 1 a.m. and husband is asleep on the couch downstairs. Poor husband, he is not a night owl and never was. He married someone who, given the proper conditions, comes alive around 11 p.m. I put on a silly infomercial channel, hoping he'd wake up, turn off the TV, and go to bed, but it's been a couple of hours and that's not happening. I'll just wrap up here for the night and put the poor guy out of his misery. "Wake up, Hubby. It's time for bed!"


In “The Wrong Way Home,” Amanda wasn’t very eager to share with Lee what went wrong in her marriage. She was quite guarded, for Amanda. So I constructed something of a memory to illuminate her frame of mind at the moment she knew her marriage was over. It’s a rawer image of the glossy version she gave in that episode.

October, 1980
She awoke with a start and sat upright, blinking in the dim, gray light of early morning. A spattering of rain was pelting the window panes. A motor was idling in the drive, but she stayed rooted where she was. A moment later, the sound of the cab’s departure was evident enough. She didn’t need to see it. Her chin dropped toward her chest, her eyes closed and hair draped like blinders for extra measure against everything she didn’t need to see. The clock would read 5:05 a.m. The suitcase outside the bedroom door would be absent. The duffle bag and attaché case on the kitchen table, gone. He was gone. No words of hers were strong enough to hold him.
Almost as an afterthought, she realized it was the clap of the car door that had pierced her sleep. All through the night, it was the sound she had dreaded, and expected. Drawing a tremulous breath, she pressed a hand to her mouth. For a moment, a surge of anger flashed unbidden through the sorrow and heated thoughts accosted her. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. She wasn’t supposed to be this person, this suburban icon beloved by everyone in the neighborhood except her own husband. This thirty-year-old abandoned housewife.

She could still hear the rumble of his low voice from just hours ago. “You once told me you’d follow me to the ends of the earth,” he said gently. He was always so gentle, even when he was twisting the knife.

“Oh, Joe,” she had countered impatiently, “I said that when we had nothing to lose but a lease on an ugly old apartment in a lousy neighborhood. We have children now, for Pete’s sake. How can we come live with you in Africa? There are no English-speaking schools, no medical care. We’d all need passports and-what?-nine different vaccines? Sweetheart, you are getting hardship pay to go to this place! How can you think this is a good environment to raise your family?”

He didn’t argue anymore after that. He just stared at her, smiling sadly, unmoved. Later, he didn’t come up to bed. He said he needed to wrap up some work first. But he never came up.

She brushed her hair from her face in a vain attempt to clear her head of these ruminations. After a time, she sank back down onto the bed, pulling the covers up to her ears. In another hour, she would rouse herself, put on the brave face again, and get the boys started on another busy morning. They knew Daddy was leaving on another trip when he tucked them in bed last night. Nothing would be amiss to them, and she would preserve that illusion to the end. But for now, she rolled onto her side and turned her face to the pillow. For now, blissfully unnoticed, the tears could fall in perfect candor.

paulak_rumin8: (pic#3104235)
The school year is winding to a close...soon, I hope. Lately, my interest in writing anything has dwindled, as it is periodically wont to do. Lots has been happening, and after a time I know that these happenings will feed a great deal of writing. Speaking of writing, I had a little idea in mind to write for the Scarecrow and Mrs. King fandom, and wouldn't you know it, today someone posted a story with the same motif! It was a relatively brilliant little post, too. I still might write my idea, since the subject matter is completely different, but I sure won't post it real soon. Don't want to look like a copycat.

And since I have no fiction to post, I will indulge myself with the telling of an anecdote.

My husband and I are fans of Food Network programming. Iron Chef America, Good Eats, Chopped, Next Food Network Star, and so forth. It inspires Husband to let his creativity out for a romp and try new things in the kitchen. In the twelve years of our marriage, this has always been a hit-or-miss proposition. We love guacamole. Husband has been working avocados over for many years now. His most recent batch of guac, a week ago, was probably the finest effort I've sampled. Sampled, nothing! I singlehandedly consumed 3/4 of the bowl. Earlier efforts, however, have been memorable in ways unrelated to culinary greatness. One time he put everything into a blender together and made avacado paste. Another time he used sour cream and made pale green avacado mousse. My favorite memory, however, is the time he introduced garlic into the picture.

I have no sense of smell and I never have. It was not numbered among my genetic package of goodies. I can taste stuff, but I clearly lack the discernment of spices and herbs that someone not olfactorily challenged would have. For example, I can't positively identify the taste of garlic. If it's in a food, it's simply not obvious to me. I miss it. So, the first time Husband incorporated garlic into his guacamole, he (being unfamiliar with fresh garlic) didn't recognize the difference between a clove and a head. Long story short, he minced an entire head of garlic into a 3-avacado guacamole recipe, and there was so much garlic flavor, I couldn't taste the avacado. I think he gave me an appreciation for garlic I never knew until that day.
paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)

It was a long time coming, but stranger things have happened. Tonight I viewed the 88th episode of Scarecrow and Mrs. King. Actually, it was season 2, episode 10, but here's the deal. Back in high school, right after both Probe and Adderly went belly up, I recorded every episode of Scarecrow and Mrs. King. Every episode except...the one never shown in syndication. I was such a doofus, I memorized every episode title and could name them in order. I used to kill study hall hour timing myself to see how fast I could write them all down. Anyway, 1 episode was never shown, and now I found it on-line. It's called "Playing Possum." Was it worth the wait? *giggle* It was a fair episode, and not nearly as exciting as "A Far, Far Better Thing" from Adderly. That's okay. I still got a kick out of it. Husband had to rest up for the night shift, so I had time on my hands.

In other news, Husband was a little jumpy last night. We hadn't been sleeping long when I awoke to him leaping out of bed and peering through the blinds, muttering to himself. He grabbed the phone and ran out into the hall, turned on the light. Well, that had my attention.

"What's the matter?" I reasonably wanted to know. Had to ask a few times before he answered.

"Gunshots," he finally said grimly. "Kids running down the street. I'm calling 911."

Oh, Lord. There's a Saturday night on the wrong side of the tracks. So he went to the front door and gave an account to the authorities. Apparently, he awoke to the sound of 2 sharp cracks not far away, and when he got up to investigate, he saw a group of a half-dozen juveniles running past the house. It might have been less intimidating to me or anyone else who didn't grow up on Chicago's southside, where the crack of gunfire in the night is sadly familiar. Anyway, our local PD sent out 3 squad cars immediately to check things out, and they talked to husband while I padded about the downstairs, shivering and near blind without my contacts.

Turned out, it wasn't gunfire after all, just a group of teenage yahoos swinging at mailboxes with a baseball bat. They got 2 of the neighbors, but not ours this time. They knocked it flat last Halloween, though. Husband had plenty of reason to be spooked. Just a few days ago, I was working at the computer in the front window at night when something thunked against the glass in front of me. Husband checked the front porch and found a paper bag in flames. Sounds like we live in a war zone, doesn't it? Well, it's not quite the Mayberry it used to be when I was a kid, I'll say that much.

paulak_rumin8: (pic#972980)
Last night I did something that was not to the benefit of my current writing project. I read a fanfic that was so awesome, my only criticism is that I didn't write it. It's for Scarecrow and Mrs. King, which has a fairly huge fandom, and many levels of writing skill. Usually, I get some inspriation to write something after reading what someone else put out there. With this piece, all I can say is "uncle."
paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)

Today I finished chapter 2. If chapter 1 was my finest romance effort, chapter 2 has to be comedy. It involved quite a bit of research, since I wrote it from inside Austin's mind, which is a challenging place to get when you're less than super-genius with idetic memory. I talked to my sister, a software project manager, and picked her brain a bit, visited Wikipedia for some data on polyphenols and biochemistry, Googled "packing foam", etc. I think I came up with a pretty good simulation of the inner workings of Austin James. I can't even try to post a piece of this. It cannot be properly enjoyed except in its entirety.

To mix things up a little, I also visited and rekindled a really old interest in Scarecrow and Mrs. King. I loved that show when I was in high school. Taped the 83 of 84 episodes run in syndication and memorized each title, in order. Great way to kill time in study hall. Now why cable never aired the 84th episode, I don't know. Anyway, there's a story in progress right now that I thought was spot on, and satisfying, with buddy-romance-angst stuff galore. Right up my alley.


paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)

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