Fourth Wall Friday with Cabin Goddess
My characters are so "real" because I KNOW them... they live in my head.
Here's what happens when I break down that 4th wall of the story and step inside to speak to my characters...
Writing is Witchcraft/Game Over ~ Imprint Series
I knew going into this that it was a bad idea. I knew nothing good was going to come of it, but the split second I realized I could do it, impulse took over me and I couldn’t deny the chance was too much to resist.
I stepped into the hall and immediately stepped back into the tiny alcove I was hiding in. Dang it, my flip flops were just not going to work for this little escapade. I slipped them off and tossed them into the shadows of the corner in hopes that no one would see them and either get suspicious or, worse, get rid of them. They are my favorites.
Getting my head back in the game, I decided to try again. I peeked around the corner and looked the other way. The coast was clear, as per usual this time of day. I padded down the hallway until I reached the last door on the right. Of course, I knew right where to go.
Instead of knocking and announcing myself, I made sure my sundress was in order, fluffed my hair, and turned the knob to enter the small office.
"And then we will have to…" Nice, I caught him mid-sentence. "Excuse me, miss. I think you're very lost," he said to me. Annoyance was oozing from his pores as he stood from his leather chair and pushed a button on his desk in front of him. Before he began to speak, he looked me up and down, saw I had no shoes and looked very much at home. He scrunched his eyes a bit as if trying to focus on my face. Something about me was familiar. Good.
The phone on his desk rang and he pushed the button to answer it on speakerphone. "Sir?"
"Sophie, please bring… tea?" He looked at me in question and I nodded. "Yes, tea for my new guest."
"Yes, sir." The sweet voice on the other end of the call answered.
"Miguel and Nathan, would you please excuse us?" He asked the two tanned, tattooed linebackers that took up the majority of space in the tiny office.
"Si jefe," they responded in unison. They stood and exited as if it were a choreographed dance. For two guys the size of small tanks, they moved gracefully and knew their surroundings very well. They were also super obedient to their boss. I was impressed. I shouldn't have been impressed, but alas, sometimes I still surprise myself.
When the door was closed solidly behind them, he took his seat once again and motioned to one of the chairs that were recently vacated. I smiled sweetly and decided to take him up on his offer. No need to start off on a bad note.
"What can I do for you, Miss…?"
"Miss works fine for now, Moreno." I answered kindly, but let him know that I wasn't about to give him the upper hand in the conversation. I happily sank into the plush chair offered to me.
"You seem to know much about me, but I know nothing of you. How is that fair?" He kept a calm look on his face, attempting to appear suave. It made me have to choke down the venom-laced words that were lodged in my throat and plastered on a matching calm look.
"Life is not fair."
He nodded in agreement. "Okay, then what can I do for you today, miss?"
"I'd like to play a game with you." Keeping my sweet smile pasted in place, I remained silent. I let him mull that sentence over in his head and waited. I knew he couldn't resist a game or a pretty face. I knew I was his type and that any chance to "play" with me was not going to be passed up.
"A game?" His eyes twinkled in delight. "What kind of game did you have in mind?" He leaned closer to his desk and eyeballed me again. I could feel his gaze crawling up my crossed legs and up my chest. He stopped at my face, but I could still feel his slime all over me from that simple gaze. Was it possible anyone could be this gross?
"The game is called Guess Me. If you can figure out who I am, you will win a prize."
"And if I don't figure out who you are, what is your prize?" The lecherous grin that crept across his jawline was enough to make me wish I had brought a weapon of some sort with me. I was sure the tiny cell phone sitting on his desk wasn't going to work as anything more than a small projectile to distract if I needed it. The phone would probably just bounce off of one of his muscles and shatter anyway. Such is my luck.
"If you don't figure it out, I win and you die."
Rage crashed through his face. "You presume to threaten me in my own home? Who are you?" His bellow shook the window in the tiny room.
A moment later a timid knock at the door alerted him that he should probably act civilized or someone would be alerted. He leaned back in his chair, painted a nonchalant grin on his face, and said, "Enter."
The curvy brunette strolled in with a tray. She handed me a tall glass of iced tea with lemon and asked if I needed anything else. I shook my head, thanked her, and she left quickly without another word.
The lemon scent filled me with happiness and I couldn't miss the chance to taste the tea. Of course, it was perfect. Exactly how I like it, just barely sweet enough to notice.
I placed my nearly full glass of tea on the table beside me and asked for paper and a pencil. He looked skeptical, but leaned to the right, opened a drawer, and produced some items to hand to me. He was trying desperately not to show anger or say something horrible. I could see it in his eyes that he was barely holding on.
"Oh no, not a pen. A pencil, please?" I asked sweetly.
"Okay." He took the pen back, tossed it in the drawer, dug around for a moment and came up with a pencil. He handed it to me and then looked at me strangely.
"You can ask me things. That's not against the rules," I offered. The saccharine quality to my voice made me smile from within. Get more bees with honey, right?
"What other rules are there?"
"As if you follow the rules. Just go… try to figure me out and you can live."
Having a woman "allow" him to live really got under his skin. I knew that, but I wanted to say it often just to see his eyes catch fire and then watch him battle to keep it tamed. Since he had no idea who I was, he had no leverage and nothing to use against me. I was his new worst enemy.
"This is ridiculous," he mumbled as I began writing on the pad of paper he handed me.
A moment later, a knock at the door came and he barked, "Enter!"
Linebacker number two, Miguel, stood in the doorway. "Si jefe?"
"What do you want, Miguel? I'm in a meeting." He motioned to me.
"You called me to come, sir." Miguel was in no way stupid, but was sure that Moreno had called him.
"I didn't call you. I will be finished here…" he paused and then looked at me, "soon." Miguel turned and left the room.
A moment later, another knock at the door. Moreno gritted his teeth and stomped to the door. He flung it open and Sophie stood waiting at the door. Her hands were shaking and she handed him a plate.
"I didn't ask for lunch." He tried to hand the plate back to her, but she turned and walked away before he could. "What the hell is going on here today?" His frustration was making me happy, but I tried not to smile. He walked back to the desk, put the food down, and then pulled his chair out to sit. Taking a steadying breath, he then plopped down. Elbows went to the desktop and he placed his head in his hands.
"Rough day?" I asked softly.
"I have been having a rough decade or two, but today has just been very weird. I'm having some family issues and my wife is ill. My children make me insane every day." He stopped suddenly, realizing he was telling too much. Well, he thought he was anyway. "I don't know why I am telling you about my day. Yes, it's rough. Can we get this over with? I have more important things to do today."
I shifted in my seat and brought my knees up to rest the pad of paper on them. As he spoke, I continued to write calmly.
"What are you writing?" he asked suspiciously.
"Just a few notes. Nothing major." Short answers. He hates not having every detail of information. I will use that to my advantage.
"Okay, so you are obviously American. From your accent I would say you are from the South somewhere. Am I right?"
"You look like you possibly have Native blood."
Another nod from me.
"Oh good, now we are getting somewhere." He leaned back in his chair with a smug grin on his face. Poor fool thought he was really going to win. He sat up and looked like something clicked in his mind. "You know so much about me and are Native. Does that mean you are Calusa?"
I tried not to, but snorted out a laugh. "No. I'm not, but thank you for the compliment."
His eyebrows furrowed. He couldn't piece it together. Of course he couldn't. I didn't let him.
I asked him if I could have the pen he had offered me earlier and he huffed out a frustrated breath before reaching into the drawer for it. He leaned over and looked harder, then pulled the drawer fully open to look. "What the…?" He couldn't find it. "I know I just threw that pen in here." He shook his head as if to loosen a memory. "See? I told you. Weird stuff is happening in here today."
"I see. It's okay. I have the pencil. I'm good." I shifted in the chair again, pulling my feet into the seat and sitting on them. I reached up and fluffed my hair back and regretted leaving it down. I forgot how hot it was in the Everglades.
He watched my every move. As my hands were coming back down to pick the pad of paper back up from my lap, his eyes snagged on a piece of artwork on my inner wrist.
"Interesting tattoo. Does it mean something?"
"Every piece of artwork on my body means something. What would infinity symbolize to you?" I took his question and instead of answering it, turned it back on him.
"My kingdom. Life. Everything." He smiled triumphantly. Proud of his answer.
"Such a foolish answer."
"I've had enough of this conversation, this game, and you," he spouted suddenly.
"Game over?" I asked with a slight pout to my lips.
"Yes. I will escort you out. This has been a complete waste of my time." He stood and walked to the door to open it and let me out. As I stood, I flipped the pencil over and began erasing the words I had been scribbling during our chat.
He tugged on the door, but it wouldn’t open. He huffed out another annoyed breath. I could see the vein in his forehead throbbing and he was dangerously close to losing his cool façade. He stomped back to his desk to push the button on the phone to alert Sophie that she was needed. The button buzzed as it should, but no one answered. Then he saw the lunch that was on his desk was missing. He looked up at me confused. Then went to push the button on the phone again, but the phone was gone.
I stood perfectly still in the middle of the room with the pad of paper and pencil with the eraser poised just over the last few words on the paper. I stepped closer to the desk so he could see my handiwork.
Written on the paper were a bunch of nouns, mostly erased. Sophie. Miguel. Pen. Lunch. Hallway.
The only word remaining on the page was: Moreno.
His eyes bulged and fear shot through him. "Witch? You're a witch?" He stumbled back into the wall and held onto it for support.
"No, Moreno, I'm far more dangerous than any witch, Calusa, or even your daughters. I'm your worst nightmare."
"How? Who are you? What is this?"
"This, my dear, is a test."
"A test? For what?"
"To see if you are worthy."
"Stop speaking in riddles and tell me what you want."
I stopped taunting him. I just smiled for a moment.
"Please?" He actually asked me. With manners! He had manners? How did I miss that?
I chuckled and said, "Okay. This was a test to see if you had fear. I needed to see if you were capable of having fear. If you can fear, you can also love. Hate isn't the only thing you're made of. I knew that, but I needed to see for myself."
"What? Fear? Why would my fear matter to you?" He stopped squirming as if he could wiggle into the wall and looked at me. "Why do I feel that I know you? If you are going to kill me, at least tell me that much."
"Well, I owe you nothing, but relax. I'm not going to kill you."
He audibly sighed, but his body stayed tense. Smart.
"Your fear matters to me because I needed to know that you were capable of love. If I am going to keep you around for more stories, I had to know if there was a redeemable quality about you. I see that there is a tiny shred of hope there, so at least all hope isn't lost."
"Stories? You're a reporter?"
I couldn't hold it in any longer. "A reporter? Really? I didn't make you stupid. Think. Stop being a whiny bitch and focus."
He stared at me for a moment and tried to rationalize, but couldn't "get" it.
I sighed. "Oh my dear Moreno." I adjusted the pad and positioned the pencil. Before I wrote anything, I sent him a little wink. "Sit." He didn't move to sit right away, so I wrote "Moreno sat at his desk" and he complied. Man, I love this job.
His eyes widened and he acted as if he wanted to speak, but I wrote "Moreno will shut up and listen to me." And, just like magic, he sat silently, so I began. "You have so many issues and so much anger. I know your story and life so well, because I wrote it. You were created in my mind. Your daughters, your wife, this kingdom, your wealth, your feud with your family. All of it. I created it. I wrote the first part of your story already and have given it to the world. Most people that read about you, hate you. And I understand their menace and hatred. I wrote you that way, but as I think about the next few books I will write about your amazing children, I wanted to see if I needed to kill you or find a way to save you. The jury is still out, but at least I saw a little spark of fear in you today. Fear means you value life, even if it's only a shred. It also means that you are capable of learning and loving. I won't bet on you to end up being a good guy, but at least I know you aren't as horrendous as I have you made out to be in my head."
He looked as if he wanted to speak.
"Oh, sorry." I scribbled, "Moreno can speak" on the paper.
"I don’t understand this joke or witch craft or whatever this is, but I am definitely fearful in this moment."
I sighed again. "It's okay. You don’t have to understand the moment. I got what I wanted." I picked up the glass of tea and took a long sip. "Man, that tea is incredible. I can't get anyone to make it that perfect. Maybe I should just live in one of my books." I chuckled to myself, knowing he wasn't going to fully grasp the realness of the situation as I plopped the pad of paper back on the desk. I re-wrote all of the things I had previously erased and added a few more words, just for emphasis. I hoped it would maybe aid him in the direction I would rather see him go in.
"Even though I toyed with you and you still aren't truly understanding who I am. I'm pretty excited that I got to meet you. Take my advice, would ya? I really don't want things to end badly for you. I want to think you can be redeemed."
I walked to the door and slipped through quickly. The look on his stunned face when I was able to even open the door, was truly a treat. I tiptoed down the hallway, retrieved my favorite flip flops, and vanished.
Moreno leaned over and picked up the pad of paper from his desk. He read: Sophie. Miguel. Pen. Lunch. Hallway. Under that list of words, was written: Peace. Love. Acceptance. Future.
Sparring with my Characters ~ Lady and Knight Chronicles
The scowl that creased my forehead was not very becoming, I’m sure, but it fit with the moment and was necessary. Sweat dripped down the back of my neck and I squinted up at the blaring sun. Was it hotter in 14th Century England? It seemed to be hotter to me, but it was probably because of my current way of dress and activities.
“Why am I standing here in armor, brandishing a wooden sword? I come for a visit and this is how you greet me?” I asked my opponent as he strutted around, causing the dust to rise under his footfalls.
“Oh, come now. This will be the highlight of your week and you know it,” he smiled.
Stabbing the sword into the ground and leaning lazily on the wooden fencing around the outdoor practice arena, I cocked an eyebrow at him. “You believe you know me already, do you?”
“I know a violent sparkle when I see one and you have it in your eyes. Either you are a ruthless villain or you enjoy the fight, which is it?” he shrugged knowing one was right.
I put my hands up in defeat. “Okay, you got me. I do enjoy the fight. It’s fascinating to see all of this and no one that I know can say they’ve trained with a Prince.”
“People in your time must be dreadfully boring,” he chuckled.
“Some, yes, but it’s not their fault. They are stuck in their time doing what everyone else is doing instead of doing what makes them happiest. That’s the way of life then. It’s a little sad… to me, at least.”
“How dreadful! Come, let’s see if I can try to get you fit to be a villain,” he said, gesturing toward the center of the arena. “At least you can embrace this day and do something different.”
Taking a long, slow breath, I nodded. Grabbing my training weapon, I rounded the fencing as others joined from the far side.
Blocking the sun with my hand over my eyes, I squinted to see who was approaching. “Are you about to make this a very unfair fight?” I asked.
“Why of course not, my lady,” he bowed and took a step backward. “I take it you know Lord Kyros?”
I nodded. “Well, of course I do.”
“He heard you were going to be here today and had to meet you. His words, not mine.”
“Well, I’m pleased to meet him,” I said as I smiled at the newcomers.
“And Mr. Monte Claire?” he asked next.
A slow blush crept across my face when Ezra’s eyes danced across my face. I nodded again.
“My lady,” Ezra said as he took my hand and kissed it sweetly.
“Sir,” I responded softly.
Chuckling, Bastian elbowed his way past Ezra. “My lady, very nice to meet you finally.”
“And you, as well.” I knew my smile was radiating at this point, but there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.
“You seem more excited to see these two than me, lady. I feel I should be offended,” the first gentleman said.
“Prince Edward, that’s just silly. I adore that you took some time out to hang with me,” I answered.
“Hang?” he looked shocked.
“Oops, I forget where I’m from sometimes,” I paused to think for a moment. “In my time, to ‘hang’ means you spend time with friends or family for fun.”
“This doesn’t sound like much fun to me, but I will take your lead and trust in you,” he answered with a nod and a smile.
“Thank you, sir. I appreciate that level of trust,” I said with a wink. “Also, in my day, you are quite infamous and are referred to as the Black Prince of Wales.” I watched as his eyes widened, then a giant smiled emerged.
“I rather like that. It makes me sound quite dangerous.”
“Which you totally are,” I reminded. “Just look at your black armor and scary disposition. I’m frightened.” I chuckled, but thought I pulled off the faux-frightened look really well. “You conquered many and took control of any situation you wished. Even though you didn’t become King, your reputation continues to be the interest of many.”
“You know of what was documented about me and what you assume or write about me, but I am a treacherous villain!” he shouted before chuckling. “To be honest, I’ve forgotten many of my conquests and things. I just wanted a normal life and to live my days split between the battlefield and my home.”
“Yes, I know. You are much like Bastian in that way,” I said.
Edward looked over at Bastian and nodded. “He certainly has more in common with me than I expected. I’m wondering if he knows what he’s gotten himself into with Adalira?”
“No men ever truly know what they are getting themselves into when they choose their partner,” I said with a chuckle. “I’m sure you never expected Malinda to want to throw pottery at your head or chase you down on horseback to chastise you in public, but it is what it is. Am I right?”
Bastian, Ezra, and I all burst into a round of laughter. They stopped long before I did.
“You are a fearsome creature, to be sure,” I managed as I choked on my laughter. “Men and women alike cower at your feet!” I coughed and stood straighter. “You were about to teach me some dangerous moves to kick butt with?”
He eyeballed me for a moment before nodding and stepping closer into the center of the ring. “I fear you are much more villainous that you seem, but I will teach you some skills and will at least feel better knowing I helped someone protect themselves.”
“Don’t you mean you helped a lowly woman feel safe in her own skin?” I said it with a Southern accent and threw my head back in a damsel in distress sort of way. I knew it would bug him, but that was my point. I grinned at him while I took my fighting stance and readied myself for his first attack.
“Do you taunt me, woman?” he asked as he sidestepped to slowly circle around me. A true predator.
“Who, me? Never!” I jested.
He chuckled. “You are a fiery one, aren’t you?”
“In my defense, you saw the evil twinkle in my eye long before now,” I reminded him. “And still you chose this path.”
“Yes, this is true.” He stepped forward and threw a solid blow toward me, which I quickly sidestepped before returning a blow of my own, landing it solidly to his right side.
“Sneaky devil,” he said with pride as he coughed out his pain.
“Learn from the best!” I said as I readied myself for another attack.
A moment later, I landed solidly on my back, knocking the wind out of me. Looking up, I saw Ezra grin down at me. “Careful, my lady. You must keep your eye on all opponents at all times.”
“Oh, you’re my opponent, are you?” I asked as I took the hand he extended to help me up. “Here I was thinking you were just here to enjoy the show.”
“While it’s a pleasure to watch you assault the Prince,” Ezra looked to Edward with a shrug, “I found a moment to teach you something, so I took it. I hope it helps you at some point.”
Even though his hand on mine was quite literally making me lose my footing, I managed to pretend to keep a balanced mind.
Shaking the swoon from my brain, I managed to say, “In fact, that’s a lesson I’ve been trying to drill into my own head for months… or even years. Preparing myself for life has caused me to hit many potholes…. Ermmmm,” I looked around at my present company, realizing I needed a new metaphor, “I mean, in life, I find that the road can be quite bumpy, but if I can look ahead and trot around the bumps, things will be a lot smoother.”
“Riding a horse is never a truly smooth task,” Bastian pointed out.
“Quite true, but the more you practice and know your horse, the better things go. He trusts you, you trust him. It’s a working partnership,” I pointed out. “If you fail to care about your partner or path that is when things go terribly wrong.”
“The lady makes much sense,” Edward said approvingly.
“Maybe you guys can remember that also?” I suggested.
“Aye, my lady. That is something we all should take to heart,” Ezra agreed.
“Okay, good,” I looked up and saw the sun waning. “Not that I don’t totally love you guys and want to spend all of my time here with you, I fear my few minutes with you is over. I promise I will have more time for you soon. Please listen to my lesson and I will try to listen as well.”
“Thank you for visiting,” Bastian said as he nodded sweetly.
“Was a pleasure,” Edward said. “Any time you need a lesson, I will be here waiting for you.”
“I appreciate that. Maybe next time we will have more time for a few real hits. Leaving without any cuts or bruises is going to make it look like I took a nap today instead of visit you,” I said with a chuckle.
“If you have time, I’m sure I can muss you up and make it look like you spent your time very well,” Ezra nearly purred into my ear.
A shiver rocked my spine and my head spun for a moment. “And while that sounds like a brilliant way to spend my day, whatever would you do if I got stuck here?” I asked reasonably.
“Continue to make sure your time wasn’t wasted,” he answered without skipping a beat.
“Oh, Ezra. You could very well be the death of me, sir,” I said breathlessly.
“What a way to go,” he agreed with a nod as he placed another sweet kiss to my knuckles.
I closed my eyes and waited for the moment to pass. When I opened my eyes and found myself back in my office, I was a mixture of relieved and saddened. I love my characters, some a little more than others. The worlds I paint are something I want to see with my own eyes. While I know I can’t stay there, stepping inside and taking a look around are one of my favorite things to do. I miss them already. Maybe it’s time for book two?
Flash Fiction with an Interview.
My favorite interview EVER was done with Cabin Goddess. For that, she asked me to do a Flash Fiction piece. Her ONLY prompt was light... and this is what I managed to come up with on the spur of the moment:
Escaping: To the Light
I feel suffocated and boxed in. No, not metaphorically. Seriously, is that a splinter in my ass? What the hell? Last night wasn’t that exciting, was it? I remember having a drink with Amanda when I got home. Ah shit, I hate to feel disoriented. Someone is playing a trick on me, for sure.
The crackling walkie-talkie next to my ear startles me, but I compose myself quickly. Whoever is playing this crazy trick certainly doesn’t need to see they have stirred me.
“Derek? Are you awake?”
“Amanda? Yes, where am I?” Great, crazy girlfriend has me in a box. This won’t end well.
“Aww, how nice. You’re up! Now we can get to work.”
“What does that even mean? Am I in a box? Let me out, you crazy bitch.”
“Sorry no. You are in the dog house. Literally. Your lying, cheating, loser ass is going to be resting in the dog house. Maybe forever. I haven’t decided yet.”
I feel around and a squeak lets me know that I found one of our dog’s toys. Nice. She really did close me up in the dog house. Psycho.
“Open the fucking box and let me out already. I didn’t even do anything to you, psycho.”
Her chuckle was frightening. “Yeah, I checked your phone. You don’t fool me, asshole!”
My simmering blood was about to reach a critical level. I took a deep breath to calm myself. I never cheated or acted inappropriate a day in my life and she knew it.
“I’m not the psycho that locked someone in a fucking box, Amanda. Just open the damned box and let me out already.”
“Sorry. It’s not that simple. I made sure you couldn’t sweet talk your way out easily and I wanted you to have plenty of time to think about what you did.”
“What?? What the hell did I do to you? Let me out of here!”
“Well, you call yourself a problem solver, don’t ya? So, why don’t you figure a way out of your little problem and then we can talk. If you make it out, that is.”
“If? Ha! You truly are crazy. WHEN I get out of here, we are done. We are done now, in fact. I don’t need you. Fuck off. Thanks.”
“Whatever you say, dude. Thanks for nothing!”
“Wasted years. Over.” I clicked off the walkie-talkie and tossed it aside. I closed my eyes and centered my thoughts. Amanda always pisses me off with her bickering and annoying remarks anyway, but this was an all-time low for her.
I saw a bit of light coming from the corner so I scooted toward it. Light meant my way out. Nice!
I kicked the ply-wood she had obviously used to close me in with to loosen it and escape.
It hardly budged.
I kicked again. Nothing… except dirt. She buried me?? Well, I see some light. At least I have something to aim for.