Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Retrospective - The Year It All Changed

December 31, 2018

We've notched another year under our belts. Seems like I just posted the 2017 retrospective. But then again, I did.

I've often said "live and learn" and "work smarter, not harder." To that end, I decided to try to be smarter this year and document the months as they pass. Did it seem to be a bit strange beginning a blog post that won't be out for eleven months? Yep.

January
Baby, it was cold outside! January 2018 brought frigid temps. My little sunroom office was chilly, even with an auxiliary heater. I wrapped up in a blanket and kept working - to a good end. Twice Removed From Yesterday, the twelfth book in the Men of Marionville collection was finished and subsequently released. I decided the three books I'd had out through a notorious now-defunct publisher could indeed be salvaged and re-released. What precipitated the decision? I saw a cover model sitting on the floor and knew he was perfect for one of the stories. Nothing like making more work for one's self.

February
The Snow Moon month arrived with snow. It's true! I settled down and worked on several projects including covers for three older Rayne Forrest titles. Getting The Rea Cheveyo Chronicles back out had been on the back burner for too long but I finally got there. I also decided it would be just fine to put both my pen names on the cover - Rayne Forrest and KC Kendricks. Why not? The covers turned out to be the best the trilogy ever had. That's what happens when you get to translate your own vision.

Also in February, I set to work going over one of the aforementioned titles from that "publisher that will not be named." After a lot of editing to the professional editor's work, A Perfect Hire was ready to go and I pushed the button. For more about A Perfect Hire, visit the page on my website.

March
After being on hiatus for many years, I made The Rea Cheveyo Chronicles available again. Kiana, Talyss, and Reza are older science fiction stories written under the pen name of Rayne Forrest. The middle story, Talyss, was an EPPIE finalist, something I'm quite proud of to this day. I decided to put both pseudonyms on the covers because of Amazon's unfair algorithms that punish books that don't sell x-number in a twenty-four hour period. These are for lovers of more traditional male/female romances. For lovers of GLBT and science fiction, I hear you. It may happen. Just remember it takes a long time to write a book.

I also learned to create an alien with light blue skin on the book cover is very challenging. Maybe I won't do that again.

March 20, the first day of spring, brought a snowstorm to my area. Ten inches of the white stuff fell. Spring? Really?  I don't think spring arrived "in real life" until March 28. That's when I heard the peeper frogs.

April
April started off with a whimper. Yes, I whined my way into April. I discovered that two years ago I forgot to format and load Loving Luke (Rayne Forrest title) at Amazon. As they say, "better late than never." Before much else got finished, Deuce fell sick. I don't need to tell anyone who loves their dog how distracting that can be. All is well now. The dog recovered faster than my wallet and my writing momentum. And while the WIP did advance, there was nothing much to do but move on to May.

May
Well, things got derailed a bit more in May. We put down new flooring in the kitchen and bathroom and it was a bitch of a job. Not enough of anything else got accomplished except getting the spousal unit in for an MRI on his back. I watched the royal wedding and surrounding hoopla and revamped the Hot August Comes cover, which I still don't like it. The story needs something more on the cover but I'm not sure of exactly what. The last week of the month is my annual spring vacation. You can read about that here.

June
What to say about June... I got a kitten and there I went. Off on a tangent. It's just he was so damn cute when I brought him home. The spousal unit and I took a major detour through Billy Bob Thornton's drama, "Goliath." I was unfamiliar with Billy Bob's body of work but I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed Goliath.

The spousal unit spent a couple of nights in the hospital and everything ground to a halt.

On the writing front, I took care of the business of writing but didn't get either work-in-progress completed. I had to be content with knowing I'm almost there. The level of writing output does correspond with this season of my life, that of caregiver to aging parents and an ailing partner. The end of this season will come all too soon as loved ones depart this world.

July
I almost got to the finish of Please Use the Door. I would have if the spousal units brothers hadn't come to town. Missed it by about fifteen hundred words - but it's all good. Finished it the first full week of August. I got two covers done for Christianne France and published a July/August newsletter. As I said, it was all good. I attended the wedding of a young cousin without the spousal unit. Much fun was had. What happens in Waynesboro stays in Waynesboro...

August
August was great! I shoved Please Use the Door out the door on the 13th, finished the new cover for Bored, Stroked and Blueprinted (it finally looks the way I want - yes!), and worked on Steel Wheels. We attended two family reunions and the wedding of the spousal unit's third grandson.

I'd been wanting to redo the covers on my Amethyst Cove series and I made the attempt in August. It's been a struggle to get just the right look but they say the third time's the charm. This set is the best yet.


September
September came wheeling in fast. The words started to flow on Steel Wheels and I made fast progress. It helped that I always take a week's vacation after Labor Day and so I was home.

By the end of the month, Steel Wheels was finished and ready to publish, and I'd spruced up the bathroom with a new countertop, faucet, backsplash, and a fresh coat of paint. Good month.

October
The month got off to a great start - I pushed the button to make Steel Wheels live. That precipitated the need to complete the next newsletter. One task always leads to another in my world. Then things came to a screeching halt when my stepfather fell and broke a hip. Welcome to my world.

November
Working out the wrinkles in a "new normal" is very time-consuming. My stepfather was moved to an assisted living facility and he may be there permanently. The spousal unit had all the necessary pre-operative testing necessary for his December 14 surgery.

Did I make much progress on the writing front? No, I did not. Am I happy about that? No, I am not. Such is life. All we can do is keep plugging away in sorry little drips and drops.

December
"I heard a bird sing in the dark of December - a magical thing and sweet to remember." - Oliver Herford

With the spousal unit having surgery, everything else stopped, even the day job the management of which I'm grateful to say allowed me to dip into my sick leave to have enough time off to be with him. He had two surgeries on his neck, one on December 14 and the other on December 17. As I'm completing this blog it remains to be seen if the surgeries will improve his quality of life. I rather have my doubts since he now has a rod fused in his neck. 

And while this year ends on low notes, I think Robert Plant summed it up best. 
"The mirror tries to please me, the image wouldn't stay, the stranger is too perfect to take my breath away. The future rides beside me - tomorrow in her hand. The stranger turns to greet me, and takes me by the hand."

The future is a stranger,  a mirror image of a new and unknown me, ready to lead me down the path I choose. Yes, I do see the choices, and while many are limited by the needs of others, there are still directions I'm free to choose. 

The Year of our Lord Two Thousand Nineteen will be a balancing act to take care of myself in the face of the demands of others. I'm strong, healthy, smart, and determined. That has been a winning combination for all the years of my life and it won't change now. 

I hope you'll stick around to see how it all unfolds.  

KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks.com

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Riding the whirlwind

December 23, 2018

It's difficult to wrap my head around the fact this year is rapidly coming to a close. It's not been quite the annus horribilis HM Queen Elizabeth spoke about a few years ago, but it's not been the best of times. 

My partner in life has had two surgeries on his neck, one on December 14 and one on December 17. He's now in a facility for rehab and he is NOT loving life. For my part, this facility is too close to home. I've been running the road, there and back, repeatedly. It's the same facility my mother is in although she's in the lockdown Alzheimer's unit. Even now I have a collection of items he wants me to deliver to him. And then there's my stepfather - he's in a different assisted living facility recovering from a broken hip.

A caregiver I am not. It's not in my nature. There is multiple staff personnel to see to his needs and yet it's difficult to put my foot down and demand time for myself.

I don't know myself these days. Somewhere along the line in 2018 I lost the plot on my entire life. I desperately want to get it back. I haven't written a word in at least a month. Having the time to write wrenched away from me has left me feeling crushed. Don't they know I can't continue to help them if I'm not given time to do something that feeds my own soul?

I'm not alone in this. People everywhere around the world face circumstances that force them into negative roles. All we can do is put one foot in front of the other and keep going, hoping and praying with every step the burden will ease. And it is a burden.

We aren't supposed to admit that those we love can be burdensome. I've rarely been afraid to express myself, though. It's a burden. 

My best friend moved to Florida several years ago. She calls and we talk but it's not the same. The distance has changed everything and it will never go back to what it was. To declare otherwise would be an untruth. 

Christmas will be a solitary affair for me. To say that makes me sad would be another untruth. Not having to put on a happy face is a relief. Not having to exchange gifts is a relief. Not because I have a "Scrooge" attitude but because I'm simply exhausted by the demands of being a caregiver. Perhaps I should be cavalier and say those nearest have my time and there's nothing more precious than that I can give them.  

There is one truth in all of this. Someday, soon I hope, I will get back to writing. And I hope the emotions I'm feeling will find their way onto the page. That is what writers do. We ride our own whirlwinds and spin them in the direction we want them to go, down into the spaces between the keys. 

KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks.com





Sunday, December 9, 2018

Internet censorship is a growing concern

December 9, 2018

Why should my content on the Internet be censored due to its adult nature?

No, I'm not trying to be funny.

An author friend seems to be scandalized that some of my books lack a strong "over 18" warning. Why would that be a problem? I'm not responsible for someone else's kids being on a computer/phone unsupervised. If you're a parent, block your kid's access to the Internet. I'm serious.

Another author just had her book cover censored by Facebook for not meeting their "standards." I didn't know Facebook had any "standards." I know Twitter doesn't. Maybe that's why I enjoy Twitter. Anything goes, for the most part. I enjoy the freedom of expression. If someone is too radical for too long, I can mute them.

I just read where Tumblr is now blocking adult content. I certainly understand that Yahoo, which owns Tumblr, is within its rights to do so. What I don't like is someone else deciding what is "adult" and what is not. Again - parents should police their children, not me. 

If I come across a site that has content beyond what I want to have burned into my corneas, I simply click away. It's not difficult. It's like changing the channel on the television. Just click and leave.

I remember back in the day, way back in 1984/85, when Tipper Gore decided some music lyrics were too explicit to be in a song. For you younger folks, I'm not joking. Who's Tipper Gore? Ex-wife of Vice-President Al Gore, under Bill Clinton. It was a personal turning point for me, politically speaking. I knew at that moment how destructive censorship is to free speech and creative, artistic freedom of expression.  Now, as a more mature woman, I understand how censorship is a weapon of those with a Socialist bent. 

I have no illusions that my single voice will make much of a difference. I have neither money or beauty, power or position. I see these things unfolding and I know it's not the "good thing" we're told it is. 

The Internet is "of itself" an adult medium. It's not a babysitter. It's not a cure for parents too lazy to see to their children. 

And what of those who use the Internet to express themselves creatively? 

Conform or be cast out. 

We need to seriously consider where censorship is headed. 

KC Kendricks  









Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Back Stairs for this week's Midweek Tease

December 5, 2018

Welcome to this week's MidWeek Tease! Be sure to check out all the participating blogs by using the linky list located at midweektease.blogspot.com

I've been walking a jagged path lately but that's life (or so I tell myself). Today seemed like the day to wave at everyone and let y'all know I'm still lurking about, writing when I can and grousing about it when I can't. Just ask the spousal unit. He'll say I don't "grouse" about not having the opportunity to write, I flat out bitch about it. He should know. He's the individual I bitch at because he's the one sucking away my time. Please keep him in your prayers that his surgery on December 14 is completely successful. But I digress...

Today for the MidWeek Tease I have an excerpt from The Back Stairs that has never been shared anywhere. Fallon has been suspicious of Sundown even as they've become lovers. In this moment he realizes just how different Sundown really is. 

Enjoy! 
_*_*_*_


First thing in the morning, I planned to have a long talk with my partner, then with the captain. I needed a break. Maybe I could wrangle a week off to rest and regroup, and get my head screwed back on. I was going to fuck up this investigation because I was too tired to focus. But for right now, I had to look alive and keep Juny from seeing something was wrong. I took a deep breath. A strong hand squeezed my shoulder.

“Do you need help getting up?”

I raised my head at the familiar voice, and the hand swam into focus in front of my face. I accepted his offer and he hauled me to my feet. Sundown was strong for such a slender man.

“What the hell are you doing here, Sundown? I told you to stay put.” I searched his face for some clue of why he’d followed me. The urgency in him was palpable as he gripped my wrist.

“I can help, but you must trust me.”

“How can you help? You weren’t here. You couldn’t have witnessed anything.” My heart dropped to my feet. “Do you know this victim, too?”

“I’ve seen him around. He was a runaway, like Michael, only this boy was troubled. I think he did not care for his life and probably welcomed death.”

My stomach churned. “Not like this he wouldn’t, Sundown. No one would.”

“No, you’re right. Time is precious.” He tugged on my sleeve. “Fallon, will you trust me?”

I frowned at him. He kept asking me to trust him, and I didn’t know how to do it yet. “What are you going to do?”

Sundown looked worried. “You’ve got to pay attention to the dog. He’s got something to show you.”
What the fuck? “The dog has to show me something? Why the dog?”

“He has to show you because no one can question him.” His scent and heat washed over me as he stepped closer and lowered his voice. “I beg you, Fallon. Do this.”

Sundown released my wrist and backed into the shadows before I could draw a breath to argue. Behind me, Juny yelled for me, calling me to come see something he’d found. I rolled my shoulders and tried to get my mind back on my work, but my brain refused. I yelled at Juny to take a chill pill. He shouted a few obscenities at me, but I didn’t hear all of it. The dog was back, his green eyes glowing at me.

No way. No fucking way.

The strangest notion I ever had in my life teased the fringes of my sanity.

Think, asshole. When have you ever seen a dog with green eyes?

No, I hadn’t, ever. Dogs don’t have green eyes.

Sundown does.

The world took a nasty dip in front of me, tilting me sideways before it suddenly righted itself. The dog whined. I hunkered down, but my shaking thighs betrayed me and I ended up with my knees on the ground to maintain my balance. I held out my hand to him and whispered what should have been complete and utter nonsense.

“Sundown?”

The dog rushed me. I grabbed at him to keep from falling over. His tail wagged furiously as he licked my face while I held on to his wiggling body in a vain attempt to get him to calm down. My vision hazed around the edges, and for a split second I feared I was about to black out. What had Sundown done to me at his apartment? He spoke of burning herbs. Had it been something with properties similar to marijuana? Was I fucking high?

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and turned my focus inward. I experienced no dizziness, no urge for sleep. My heart pounded abnormally fast—and hard—but that was all. No strange aftertaste when I blew my breath out. No munchies, either. I was much too sober to believe what I did. I opened my eyes and stared at the dog. With great care, he grasped my wrist with a mouth full of very sharp teeth and tugged.

Heaven help me.

“Okay. Let go of me, and I’ll follow you.”

He released me and raced away. I stared into the blackness, unable to fully comprehend what I knew was true.

How could I possibly believe Sundown could change… I needed help. Too many crime scenes. Too many mutilated bodies. Years of being on the front line and seeing the carnage that mankind inflicted upon itself had won. I’d snapped. No vacation could fix me now.

_*_*_*_

ABOUT THE BACK STAIRS:

Fallon Roxbury has a nose for trouble and the uncanny ability for landing in the middle of it the moment he finds it. While investigating the gruesome murder of a young male prostitute in the red-light district, Fallon gets a whiff of something very strange. Forensics has unidentified hairs. Very unidentified hairs, like nothing in any of the textbooks. Following a tip from a person of interest, Fallon meets Sundown, an apparent hustler who knows a lot more than he will admit.

Getting personally involved with Sundown breaks every rule in the police manual, and in Fallon’s own personal code. Sundown is like a drug, and Fallon can’t stop at just one hit. When Sundown is forced to reveal the truth, Fallon’s world is turned upside down, and he’s left with only two options: check himself in for psychiatric evaluation, or accept a new reality with a strange shift.

Shapeshifters, that is.

THE BACK STAIRS is available at:

iTunes/Apple



KC Kendricks