All entries must be received by March 8 for the Second Annual Isabella Dog Biscuits Short Story contest –
It’s only 1000 words. Show me whatcha got!
At the risk of revealing too much about my personal life, I’m going to offer you all a chance for glory, fame and $25.00 cold, hard cash.
I do occasional web work for Isabella Dog Biscuits, a very small company on the Oregon Coast that makes vegan dog biscuits. Sabu has become a very happy test subject for Roxy’s samples, which have no corn, soy or wheat. They’re just good dog treats!
This is the second year that she’s put out a call for entries into a writing contest. The rules are simple: 1000 words or less and a dog has to make an appearance. Winners will be chosen in two age categories: Puppies (12 and under) and Big Dogs (12 and over.) Each of the two winners will receive a cash prize of $25 and their winning entry will be published on the Isabella Dog Biscuits website. Click here for more info.
Roxy would be thrilled to have more entries this year than last and I know many of you are writers who are always up for a little challenge! Submit your entries early and often (you can enter as many times as you wish 🙂 )
In other news, we survived Snowmageddon. It was a bit of a snoozer, actually. The water continued to run. There was a moment of panic when the electricity went out, accompanied by a BOOM and large blue light outside, but the juice came back on and it appears that the transformer is fine, or at least no crews came out to tinker with it. Had to chain up my little car to get to work today, but the snow is melting quickly now and shouldn’t pose a problem getting errands run and back home again.
I knit a hat. Sadly, it’s too top-heavy and will need to be ripped out and re-designed. No hardship, though, as the yarn is a lovely soft alpaca that is a joy to work with.
That is all.
I played hooky from work yesterday because I have a cold. My head feels like it might explode, while my nose is constantly running. This morning I was tired after wrestling Lil’ Dude into his prison/my studio when he refused to lay down and just sleep for the love of all that’s holy. He spent the rest of the night trying to open the pocket door, leaving me crabby and not really wanting to go to work.
But here I am, at the office, valiantly blogging through my misery.
The picture was not so rosy five hours ago, however. As is my usual way, I arrived at the office, tied up the dog, turned on my computer and booted up AutoCAD, my cover for all things Internet while being paid to do stuff for others. Imagine my panic when I clicked on the cute little Firefox icon and received only an error message. My computer could not find the internet!
What would I do all day? Work? Srsly? I couldn’t even play some tunes to help alleviate the boredom! It was shaping up to be a really crappy day, so I did the only thing I could think of to do, not having prepared for this sad circumstance: I did my job. Yep. Actual work. For.Hours.On.End. I almost died, I tell you!
And then the local Computer Dude arrived to rectify the lack-of-internet problem and once again I am connected. Sad thing is, I pretty much finished all the work that was waiting on my desk and I have 4.5 hours until I can sneak out the back door and go do something fun. Sigh.
Also, 22K words into my NaNo project I hate the “voice” of my book. It’s all wrong. It came to me in a feverish haze in the dark hours of this morning that I need to write as if I’m telling a story to a group of people who listen, sigh, cry and yell with outrage as the story unfolds. They will ask questions, make observations and serve as audience. December is for editing, so I will continue on, changing the voice in everything I write from this point forward and going back to massage what I’ve done this far next month.
That is all. Carry on.
P.S. Cat posts are not lame – they’re an artful homage to Lil’ Dude and his brethren 🙂
First, let me just say that I don’t like the changes to WordPress. Not at all. It’s irritating and I don’t have time for this crap.
Here’s the prologue to my little NaNo project:
Her eyes flew open at the feel of fingers pinching her nipple. The clock read 1:27. AM of course, and she had to be at work in just a few hours.
“Are you awake?” he whispered.
“For you, of course,” the words bitten off short, but he didn’t seem to notice.
She kept her eyes on the clock as they played out this typical Thursday night scene. Or would it be called Friday morning? She wondered silently.
At 1:28 he moved his hand to her right hip, her cue to turn onto her back. Foreplay was over. He climbed on top with practiced ease and she turned her head away, lost in her own thoughts, watching the numbers on the clock.
How the hell did I end up here? Who was he writing to tonight? Do I dare ask? Do I even care?
1:29 and he was hard at work. She felt nothing. Certainly no love. No arousal. She wondered at her complete lack of feeling. Does this make me a whore? Don’t whores get paid? At least some jewelry to sell some day? A modicum of respect? A single kiss?
1:30 and her mind wandered farther afield. How busy will I be at work tomorrow? She had finally, after three years of sending out resumes and going on a very few interviews, found a job. A minimum wage job at a candle factory. As happened most nights she thought, it was a huge mistake to move to this Tourist Town. HUGE mistake. I screwed myself for “love.” What an idiot.
1:31 Life at the candle factory wasn’t all bad. Sure the boss lady was a hard-driving bitch who bragged that she never paid more than minimum wage and that “her girls” would do anything for her, but she’d worked for worse. The whole place smelled great and if the scents that invariably got on her skin would only wash off with soap and water it might be a good place to work, but the sad fact was that after a day of pouring candles and filling up the scent bottles, she felt woozy and the scents all combined to turn her stomach, making it hard to muster an appetite for dinner, which she had to cook as soon as she reached “home” no matter if she was hungry or not. The customers were generally few at the awkward factory location, but the boss lady had a nasty habit of sending in friends to “secret shop” and they were always rude and nasty to see if they could get a rise out of the newest employee. That shit is ridiculous! I sell candles, not peace treaties!
1:32 Almost there, judging by his slightly faster pumping. She began to run down a list of chores to be completed before work tomorrow and another list of those to be done after work as her fingernails squeezed his ass just the way he liked to get him to hurry the fuck up already.
1:33 and it was over. He panted for a few seconds, rolled over and stared at the ceiling.
“Who were you writing to?” He had been madly typing in the next room for over half an hour. He thought she was asleep and wouldn’t hear, but his loud Guitar Star music ensured she was wide awake and listening as she did most every night.
“Just answering some blog-related notes and starting a new post for tomorrow,” he replied.
“You’ve been doing a lot of writing lately…”
“So?!? I want to increase my blog readership. Nothing wrong with that! You should pay more attention to your own blog. I thought you were supposed to be using it to make money – where did that plan go? How much money did you make off your blog and website last month, huh? I read your last post and it sounded like it was written by an illiterate 13-year-old boy. You need to step up your game if you’re ever going to get the followers that I have. I have some brilliant minds reading my blog and leaving comments. It’s amazing! I have friends all over the world. I could hop on a plane and take a trip around the world, staying with friends on every continent. They’ve invited me, you know. I could leave tomorrow…”
This was a familiar speech and she quit listening. Whatever. Won’t be long now and he’ll fall asleep. Just a few more minutes.
No response was called for or expected. He ranted on as the numbers on the clock silently changed. 1:45 and he was out, snoring lightly. She knew the volume would increase very soon, so she rolled away from him, hoping to be able to fall asleep before he started sawing logs. She gave up mentioning his snoring years ago when he protested loudly that SHE was the one who snored and kept him up night after night with her noise and “thrashing about” in bed.
As she often did while trying to fall asleep, her mind wandered over her life and tried to come up with some idea of why she was so unhappy. The house was not terrible, although he owned it and reminded her of that fact often. The neighborhood was attractive and quiet, although she was not allowed to visit with the neighbors, even the ones who daily walked by with their dogs. It was cold in the house at the moment, but it was mid-March and he didn’t believe in heating the house between March 1 and October 1 unless some freak of Nature rendered the ground frozen. Snow had fallen the week before (a very rare occurrence) and she had started a fire in the wood stove while he was out checking on his boat, but the heat was long gone.
She wrapped the quilt more tightly around her shoulders, being careful not to slide it along his skin because he would wake and blame her (again) for taking all the blankets.
She was happy to have found a job at last, even if it paid so little. He might finally stop harping on her about the bills and the fact that she was “wasting her life” and “dragging him down into poverty” with her idleness. That she paid him $600 a month for the bills and bought all of the food for themselves and the various pets never entered into his rants. She was a slacker and that was that. He boasted that he supported her in all things and he was getting mighty tired of all the hard work he had to do to take care of a perfectly capable woman who refused to work for a living.
She sighed, knowing that it would be another sleepless night. She hadn’t wanted to move to this Coastal town. She hated the cold, the damp, the constant mist falling from the sky, the endless Autumn that never gave way to what you might call a Summer if you were very generous and lived in the Arctic. Last Summer it got warm enough to wear short sleeves outside for four hours one day in July and that was it. Luckily she happened to be home and outside when this miracle occurred and was able to enjoy it while going about her usual chores.
Where did it go so wrong? She wondered. Every day seemed unreal, a part of someone else’s life. She felt disconnected from everyone around her. Did I always feel this way? If so, why does it feel so strange now? These were the things she pondered as she chased the elusive specter of sleep down the dark hallways of her tired mind. Something is wrong. I shouldn’t feel so unhappy all the time. This is not who I am, I know it’s not. I should not be on the verge of tears every waking moment. We should be happy here – we have everything we need. Why, then, is he so angry all the time while I’m so sad? It all started out so wonderfully…
As sleep finally claimed her, she dreamed of that long-ago time, when he was happy and kind and she was ecstatic at having found someone who really, truly loved her for who she was. A handsome man who listened raptly as she shared her thoughts and opinions and asked for more. An intelligent man with a great job, a house and two cars, who rode his bike on epic journeys and told hilarious stories about them. A caring man whose eyes teared up when he talked about losing his favorite dog to cancer some years earlier. A kind man who claimed to be so hurt by the dissolution of his marriage that he went to counseling and spent hours talking to his married and single friends to try to discover what he had done to cause his wife to become indifferent to him. A charismatic man who turned heads whenever he walked into a room. Everyone wanted to talk to him, to hear his opinion. He hadn’t watched TV since he was fourteen, a fact that stunned and amazed most people. He read highbrow magazines and had an opinion about everything under the sun, opinions he was able to expound upon at length at the drop of a hat. He was a magnetic speaker. People came back for more. He seemed to be well liked. He certainly liked her. In the beginning. For awhile. Until it was too late for her to get away…
Okay, blog peeps! I need a bit of advice. I’ve gotten out my journals (oh, god, what a sad, sad mess they are. Depressing!) and begun my “fictionalized autobiography.” It’s moving right along – I don’t think 50,000 words will be enough at the pace I’m going. I really, really, really, hate that man! I may need a new keyboard before all is said and done, too.
But that’s not why I’m posting here tonight. I need a bit of advice. I have this idea that it would be much more effective to break into the main action on occasion with a “narrator’s” comments, explaining the steps an abuser takes to suck in their victim and the stages of the emotionally abusive relationship as it happens.
The prologue is written, and the next section is well underway. No chapters yet, just year headers. Here’s what I had in mind:
Time for your friendly narrator to step in. Because hindsight is always 20/20, Cat did not see what was happening to her life as events occurred. In order to more clearly illustrate the stages of an abusive relationship, I will be stepping in from time to time to point out Red Flags and explain the process of the brainwashing that must occur for an abuser to get and keep control over their victim. Domestic violence knows no gender – please forgive me for phrasing my comments using the same gender pronouns as the main story for the sake of continuity.
Winter and Spring of 2000 saw her marriage collapse. It was marriage number two and her husband of 4 years was cheating on her. At the same time, he was being cruel to her son from her first marriage and starting fights with her over imagined slights at every turn. He was calling her many times a day, asking what she was doing (working at the office) who she was with (Tom and John, the only two other people who worked at the office) what she had for lunch, when she was coming home, whether or not she was stopping at the grocery store, and on and on.
The calls were an embarrassment to her and she kept them as brief as possible, answering in monosyllables, hanging up as soon as possible, hoping it didn’t cause a problem with her boss, hoping no one was listening.
He was, of course, drinking in every word. After a couple of months of this, he finally said something.
“Why does he call you all the time? Doesn’t he know you’re at work? What does he think we do here all day?”
“I don’t know. I don’t care. He is the way he his. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
“I would never treat my mate that way! If he’s so suspicious he should come down here and see for himself that you’re working. It’s just not right!” He angrily pushed himself up to his desk and went back to work. At last, she had a warrior on her side. The thought warmed her heart.
As the months passed, she shared more with him and always he was outraged. He had a lot to say about relationships and how people who love each other should not maim each other. He was devastated at the ending of his marriage and filled with regret that they hadn’t been able to work things out. He never said anything unkind about her, but he did remark on some of the things she did that perplexed him. He claimed she threw a screaming fit when he went over to their house (which, he said, she refused to sell or vacate) to get some towels – she was incensed that he was taking the “good towels” and insisted that he only take the old ones. He was saddened that she didn’t care if he had nice towels and did not understand her bitterness over bath linen. He shook his head sadly and said, “I’ve spent my whole life leaning how not to hurt people and now she does this. It boggles my mind…”
He said so many things that echoed her own thoughts that she began to long for him. Here was a man who felt the same way she did! Her husband continued his affair, denying that anything was going on between him and the secretary at his office, refusing to let her go or to leave, continuing his harsh treatment of her and her son. She was depressed and looking for a way out of her life.
What do you think? I envision a short narrative paragraph after a particularly telling event or scene that explains what the narc just did and how her reactions are dictated by what came before. I want to show the gradual erosion of her Self at his hands in order to help people who haven’t been in this kind of relationship (or those who don’t yet know that they are) understand that it’s not something that happens overnight, but a slow, deliberate taking by the abuser until the victim is a hollow shell.
You all know by now that several hundred thousand people around the world have started writing for NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo and I am one of those number. I cleared off my desk in order to have a clean slate to work on my novel, lining up my reasearch materials (journals and printed emails from years ago) and I was feeling pretty good about getting started.
And then this happened:
He simply refused to sleep anywhere else. Every move that he made, trying to make a better nest for himself, resulted in something falling off the desk.
Was batting at the cursor on the screen, jumping every time the song coming from the speakers changed, and just generally making himself a nuisance.
So I did what any kind-hearted cat lover would do. I made him a soft spot to lay on:
He settled in for a nap and I was able to meet my word count goal for the evening. Sheesh. I thought this was going to be easy, but maybe not so much…