Thursday, April 27, 2006


Mitchell's views of marriage

An online friend of mine is getting married this weekend and as I was wishing her luck, I said, "Remember, it's just a formality."

That's stuck with me since Mitchell said it. (yes, he did say it. I just channeled him 'cause Lord knows I'd never thought of it in those terms) The wedding is nothing but a formality because you made the commitment to each other long ago. You know... when you decided to go on ahead and give her the ring. Even though when he gave Kerri her ring, they both tried to pretend it didn't even mean an engagement to wed but a promise to be faithful while he spent six weeks in Phoenix, recording the Freaks of Evolution album.

But think about it and you'll see he's right. The wedding is just making public what you and your love have already agreed to. Because if you didn't agree, why are you putting yourself through that much stress?

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006



Didja get the new Godsmack????

In book news, check out Nancy Atherton's Aunt Dimity series. I've heard through the grapevine that she could use some more sales and attention. While they are more wholesome than you're getting here, they are good reads. The sort of thing Amanda would like.

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Monday, April 24, 2006


Fiction Outtake: The Time Before Dinner (The Early Days)

Patterson had called to say he was due home sooner than originally expected, so Sonya was absorbed in getting dinner together when it all began. She felt rushed; she'd spent the day helping a friend try to make sense of a temporary bookkeeper's disaster, and Sonya and her friend had quit for the day still wondering if they were seeing the numbers correctly. She had brought some of the paperwork home for Patterson to look over; while he wasn't a figures sort of man, he was sure to know some at the office who were.

With all of that on her mind, it wasn't surprising that she barely paid attention when Mitchell and Trevor slunk through the kitchen, an unfamiliar girl between them. And she was too focused on defrosting the ground beef to dwell on the fact that Trevor was alone when he returned to the kitchen and asked, with his fake innocent air, if he could help.

Sonya handed Trevor a knife and the onion she'd been trying to chop while she rummaged in the vegetable bin for the broccoli. The boy went to work without complaining, but again, she was too wrapped up in the idea of dinner to think much about that anomaly, either. It was just a relief to have the extra set of willing hands.

When Amy screeched, she jumped three feet, taking the skillet with her. Mostly defrosted ground beef and unevenly chopped onion splattered her arms; Sonya banged the pan back on its burner. "Amy Christina, this had better be life-or-death!"

"Mom! You have got to see what Mitchell's doing now!" Amy rushed into the kitchen, her face as pale as her hair. She chewed worriedly on her lower lip and gestured over her shoulder with an unusual urgency.

Trevor's snicker stuck in Sonya's brain and she turned to him, considering.

"Let me go see," she said calmly, reaching for a kitchen towel to wipe her hands and arms off with. "You tend the meat," she told Amy and crossed the family room and up the three stairs to the sleeping wing of the house, her daughter's protests about cooking falling on uncaring ears.

Carefully, quietly, she opened the door to the boys' room, and peeked inside. Mitchell and the girl were wrapped around each other, mostly covered by the bedsheets, his hair hiding both their faces.

She cleared her throat.

Mitchell's head jerked around, his eyes wide and scared, his mouth open in surprise. The girl bit back a guilty and panicked sound as Mitchell said, "Ma!" He started to scrabble at the sheets, pulling them up closer around himself and his girl, trying to soothe her at the same time.

Sonya couldn't stop the smile at the sight of her son's swollen lips -- and devotion to someone he'd probably never met before, knowing Trevor. "If your friend would like to stay for dinner, just let me know and I'll set an extra place," she said and closed the door again.

She didn't need to press her ear to the door to hear their sighs of relief. But she did need a minute to lean against the wall and laugh. That little scene was something she knew Trevor had been working on for a few weeks now and while she supposed that as a mother, she ought to be yelling at her youngest for having sex under her roof, she and Patterson were liberal enough to know their home was the best choice. Lord only knew the sort of places Trevor would drag Mitchell to next time if she made a fuss now.

Trevor, on the other hand… Amy, too.

Sonya pushed herself away from the wall beside Mitchell's door, gritting her teeth. Trevor had set Amy up for that intrusion; of that, she had no doubt. It was probably the only reason why Trevor had brought Mitchell and his friend back to the house.

Regardless of whether or not she'd been set up, Amy knew better than to go into the boys' room without knocking first. A closed door meant something in the Voss household, regardless of what lies Trevor had told her. Just as other families had inviolable rules about who did what chore on what day, the Voss family had rules about what a closed door meant.

Amy and Trevor were arguing in the kitchen, probably about what had just transpired. And something was starting to smell overcooked.

That needed to be dealt with before Patterson got home. Time was running short and now Sonya wasn't exactly certain how many she'd be cooking for. While she doubted the girl would stay, Mitchell could very well want some time to himself. A boy didn't lose his virginity every day, and a boy as sensitive as Mitchell was bound to need the time to make sense of what he'd just done.

Amy and Trevor, on the other hand… Yes, Sonya told herself as she straightened the hem of her shirt. Something was starting to smell overcooked in that kitchen of hers, all right.

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Friday, April 21, 2006


Let's Celebrate!

Website and mail are back up, thanks to the Tour Manager and He Who Taught Him All (that'd be his dad, for those of you keeping track).

Who wants to celebrate with an outtake????

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Susan's Book Talk: Inspiration in an odd place

So while my hard drive on my webserver is being replaced and I'm hoping there's no important mail waiting for me (like notes that you guys have been commenting), I thought I'd plug another book. As in: one that's not written by me.

It's called Julie and Romeo, and it's written by Jeanne Ray, who seems to have no website that a quick Google search pulled up. This is an older book, Ray's debut (her most recent novel, in fact, is a sequel). And it's about two families who are feuding. Like the title suggests, it's a take on the Romeo and Juliet story of old.

How this helped me was with Behold Me, which I had stopped struggling with ... for about fifteen pages or so. Given that I'm now up to page 40, that's pretty good. One of the things I keep getting stuck on is that I'm worried about things getting too repetitious. Family feuds can only be about so many things and have so many dimensions.

I'd thought.

Julie and Romeo did get repetitive in places, sure. But it gave me neat ideas as to how to look at the situation from different angles. To bring in more characters and let them each have different experiences with what has happened to Kerri -- and, indirectly, Mitchell, who's spending an awful lot of time scratching his head and wondering how exactly all these chords fit into a song.

Spring break ended here today; it was back to school and back to finding friends to occupy the kids' time so I can write. As much as I love the spring weather, I hate it because I don't think the laptop's wireless card works outside and I am torn. Do I give in to my writing need, or my need to make sure no weirdos decide to infiltrate my quiet, West of Mars neighborhood?

At least I can set up a chair and read while we're out there. Or else show the kids how cool their mom can be when you put a hockey stick in her hands.

Before I run, let me give a public thanks to my friends who're linking my blog and/or the main website to their spots on the web. If you've found me because of them, let me know. And be sure to tell me if you're a BookCrosser or not; never know what might escape my house and head toward yours as a thanks.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006


You asked for it!

Only because it's my birthday and the best gift my husband could give me was to take the kids and give me the day to write, I now present...

The Strand (a fiction Outtake)

"Trev, what do we do? We can't take 'em back to the house; Ma's got that party tonight, remember? And neither of them have a place… what do we do?"

"Chill," Trevor told Mitchell, hating the way the guy was getting all twitchy like some Tourette's patient, except without the interesting vocabulary.

"The Bronco's out after last time…"

"I know, I know," Trevor said, trying to think fast. The girls would be back from the john in a minute or two, and they'd want a plan if they were going to head home satisfied. As if Mitchell knew how to satisfy a girl, but he was learning.

Dragging them to All Access just to use the back room wasn't a particularly good idea, either. Spending time there before heading back was fine, but showing up just for a quick fuck apparently wasn't.

They were at Decade, in fact, which was in one of the seedier parts of town, which meant that… "There's always The Strand," he offered.

Mitchell shuddered.

"Oh, like you've been there," Trev sniffed. "Fuck, even I haven't. Yet. Let's take the girls, make it a joke and see if we can get them to cough up something better."

Mitchell's eyes got so big, Trevor was afraid they'd fall out of the idiot's head. "We can't go there! We'll catch something for sure!"

Trevor lit a cigarette and blew smoke in Mitchell's face. "How can you stand being such a dork?"

Mitchell stuttered and stammered something clear up until the girls came back.

"Look, we don't have anywhere better to go, ourselves, so how about we do a double over at The Strand? Have some fun, destroy a room and run like hell?"

Trev's girl, a brunette who, he swore, had been a prostitute only a week before, shrugged. Mitchell's girl, who had boring brown hair but tits to make up for it, nodded eagerly. "I've always wanted to know what it's really like in there," she half-squealed. "Even if we don't get naked, it'll be worth the money, just to see the place."

"And then we can get naked another time!" Trevor told her with false enthusiasm. He and Mitchell hadn't done a particularly good job picking girls; they weren't worth much more than The Strand, he decided.

Figured it was all working out; it always did now that he was away from Hank. That guy poisoned everything around him, even before he'd touched Trevor.

Yeah, Trev thought as he slung his arm around his girl and steered her out of Decade and down the street to The Strand, life was much better away from Hank.

They paused on the street outside the front door. "We're doing this for real, right?" he asked everyone.

Mitchell looked about as white as his hair, but he nodded and tightened his grip on his chick. Taking it as foreplay, she snuggled against him and licked his neck.

The idiot blushed.

The lobby wasn't much more than an office. Not even that; just a space to stand while you signed in and paid, which Trevor took charge of. M was scared enough that he'd probably forgotten how to write, let alone tell believable lies on the register, and it was just classless to let the girls take charge. Let the feminists burn their fucking bras in his face for all he cared; with Trevor Wolff, chivalry was not dead.

Through the probably-bullet-proof plexiglass, the guy slid him a room key and buzzed them through a dirty white security door. He and Mitchell exchanged looks as they passed; maybe this hadn't been such a good idea. But a room for seventy-five cents? How could they argue?

They should have, they decided as they got into the hallway. It reeked -- of bodies, of sex, of piss, of puke. It smelled worse than All Access, and that was not an easy smell to top. It was bright enough, though, which sorta surprised Trevor. "Aren't these places supposed to be dark?" he asked Mitchell, who bobbed his head like he was too stupid to do anything but agree.

Mitchell found Room 32 first. Around the second corner; the place made a cube. What was in the middle, Trevor didn't know. Probably a holding place for prostitutes or else a triple-x-rated peep show that was miraculously free for any vice cop who happened inside.

The room was about the same as the hall, only it smelled like bleach. Trev's girl covered her nose with her hand. "Okay, I've seen enough," she said with a shudder. "They only do this when someone dies in here."

"Maybe they just bled a lot," Mitchell laughed, peeking into the bathroom. Trevor stared at him; the guy seemed comfortable and at home. Had an alien been waiting inside the room and taken M over when he'd walked in?

"What do we do now?" his girl asked, touching the bedspread with her long, lacquered nail. Trevor noticed it was orange, and it would have matched the orange bedspread maybe back when the spread had been new -- which had probably been thirty years ago, back when orange was in and avocado was a great color for a kitchen appliance.

"We should leave," Trevor's girl said.

"Wait, I want to look around," Trevor said, following Mitchell -- who still hadn't come out of the bathroom. Either the killer was still there, or the guy was taking a whiz.

Neither; he was inspecting the bathtub. "Can you imagine?"

Trevor didn't want to tell him it had fewer cracks than the one in Hank's house. It was cleaner, too.

But, of course, Hank had liked sticking them in the bathtub before he'd reached his ugliest point. Less to clean up, he'd laughed. Trevor also thought the guy had gotten a hard-on, watching them try new ways to escape.

He shuddered; that shit was best left where it belonged. "C'mon," he said. "I've had enough of this joint."

Mitchell looked at him funny. "You okay?"

"Sure. Nothing that won't get cured by leaving this shit-hole. We came, we saw, we left. Wasn't that what we wanted?"

The kid squirmed. "I thought we wanted the girls to cough up a place. You know…"

"Yeah," Trevor sighed, "I know."

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006



I had one of my middle-of-the-night inspirations and am once again reworking what will be Behold Me. Let's see how this one goes...

The offer still remains: if you want to see the scene where Trevor goes to the cheap motel, leave me comments in that entry. I'm starting to be able to visualize it, so you'd better speak up or forever wonder what's cooking in this brain of mine...


Monday, April 10, 2006


Would he, or wouldn't he?

My friend Marcinyc posted a picture from her recent trip to Seattle. It's of a sign, a very old sign, outside a hotel. It is red neon and it says, "Hotel" and something about rooms being 75c.

My first thought was that it was the sort of place that Trevor would love.

But then my second thought was that he'd pretend to love it. He'd go in once to look around, nothing more -- although he'd take a girl in with him, of course -- and then he'd have a convenient excuse to beg off from returns in the future, no matter how cheap the rooms and how broke he was.

Because, after all, one broke chick didn't mean they all were and it was only a matter of finding the right one -- one willing to pay for a nicer place, if she didn't have one already waiting.

Want me to write the scene for you? Leave me enough comments and I will!

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Saturday, April 08, 2006


Fiction Outtake: Rain

This is a mini-scene that popped into my head two nights ago. I have no clue where it belongs or anything about it other than it provides great color.

Mitchell nudged Kerri awake. When she tilted her face, pressed against his shoulder, up toward him, he whispered, "Rain."

She listened. Sure enough, she could hear the rain beating on the bus and the sound of water being pushed aside by large wheels.

"Rain," she whispered back and pressed more firmly against him and promptly fell back asleep.

Some would call this the mindless ramblings of an insomniac, but I think I come up with pretty cool stuff in the middle of the night.

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Friday, April 07, 2006


NEAT publicity idea

One of my friends ordered a book through and was wowed to discover that what she received was a brand-new copy, autographed by the author himself!!

I've often thought of doing a promotion with, as I've been an active member there since 2002. I even have a few fun ideas, too.

But this was a really nice and classy touch on the author's part. I hope that when it's my turn, I remember this (that means you guys get to remind me!) and can make a few fans that way.

Here's the skinny on the book: Sex, Ghosts, and Gumshoes

Tell 'em we here at West of Mars sent you. ;)

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Thinking about Behold Me

When I first created the characters who now populate Trevors Song, I first created Mitchell and Kerri Voss. Their story, at the time called Shape of Family, was the story of Kerri's revealing a deep, dark secret to Mitchell: that when she'd married him, her mother had written her off as dead.

I've struggled with this story for six years now; I have the characters down cold, as you'll be able to see as you continue to read this blog. But the story... whenever I try to get Kerri into a confrontation with her mother, it doesn't work. It always feels forced; as unnatural as Trevor is natural.

So I'm playing with what to do about this. After all, I can't tell Amanda's story without this one being told (I think). And I'm now envisioning that Amanda's story will be the third in the Riverview series.

But still... I am stuck at the second book. At Kerri and Mitchell and Kerri's mother.

I was thinking at dinner that maybe Kerri and her mother shouldn't have that confrontation scene. That maybe they just look right through each other, like strangers. Or that Kerri tries but is rebuffed.

Still, it doesn't seem like enough to support a book.

My brain churns on...

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A Place for Musings

The Tour Manager and I were talking at dinner the other night about whether or not Mitchell had a sweet tooth. We agreed that no, he doesn't, but our reasons differed.

My reason -- and the right reason, since I'm the one who created Mitchell Voss in the first place -- was that Mitchell likes fresh food and fresh-tasting food. Sweets can be cloying. So while he likes some, he doesn't have a sweet tooth. You'll never fight him at the dessert table at a wedding. Not that he goes to many weddings, but that's another story altogether.

The Tour Manager's reason was that since Mitchell likes to grill, he's a carnivore. Umm... good thinking, honey, but no. I mean, this is the man who met his wife as he deliberated about a tomato!

(Yes, I promise to get the Tomato outtake up.)

This led me to realize that I really have nowhere to share these fun moments and musings about Mitchell, Kerri, Trevor, and the rest of ShapeShifter and the crew of Riverview, USA. So... here we are. A place for musings.

Stay tuned; there will be more. And if you haven't been to west of Mars yet, what are you waiting for?

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