Don’t Erase, Highlight

I go back and forth on how I wish sentences to be worded, but the second I choose one way I decide I want to go back or a few days later I think I want to change it back. If I’m lucky to make that choice a second later, I can hit the undo button but if it is a few days later (as is often the case with me) I can’t quite remember how it was previously worded before and the undo button is useless.

Now the easiest way to do this would probably be to use the strike-through feature in Word or Google docs (the two I use, but whichever platform you use probably has one as well), but seeing the word(s) there bug me. They distract me when I’m reading through it and makes a few minutes of reading into a longer period of time. I have taken a leaf out of the FBI’s playbook and highlight the non-used words in black.

Screenshot (4)

Here, I have left the redacted words because this story is obviously still in it’s first draft and still deciding if I want to reword the sentences or not.

This method also helps when I work through my notes or “outline” like I mentioned in Different Outlines.

Different Outlines

In school you probably learned an outline structure similar to this one:

Screenshot (5)

But that’s not the only way to outline. Unless this method works for you, it doesn’t need to be that structured or you can use other templates that are the same just different starting letters and numbers.

Personally, I am not as structured in my outlines as above. That just happened because I copied those rules from a webpage ( ) as a quick reference. Most of the time my outline just looks like this:

Screenshot (6)

Each line starting with a capital letter is a different thought. It is just a rough sketch of what I want/need to happen in that chapter without being fleshed out. These quick notes are faster to write so I don’t forget anything. I also don’t have to worry about if I’m putting things in the right level of the outline structure or agonize over where it needs to go if it can fit into two or more categories.

Then it’s right below the words I’m typing and can see where I am headed with the story and the notes change into an actual story. The words above have been fleshed out from other notes, and those below are still needing to be applied.

Screenshot (7)

Then because I am very forgetful, instead of deleting the notes I’ve used I highlight them in black and move them to the end of the chapter’s notes. So if I need to go back and look at them, they are still there.

Screenshot (8)

This is just a trick that helps my writing process go smoother than keeping thousands of notebooks stashed all over the house (admittedly still have those too) and keeps my thoughts better organized than I have been able to do with pen and paper (probably because I use pen and hate pencils with a passion). You can use any color you want, I just chose yellow for notes and black for redacted because I use other colors for other color coding that I tend to do to help remember different characters.

Screenshot (9)

Word Tracking

Long time no read, sorry I’ve been pretty busy. Have been writing and reading, so that’s a plus. Thought I would share how I track everything word wise.

I am a tracker, I like to have a visual of my progress and love excel. I know there are others out there so naturally, I hunted the internet for different templates, but none really felt right for me. I would tweak the templates for a better fit, but still not right for me.

It took a while to figure out how I wanted everything to work, but finally came up with my daily spreadsheet.

Screenshot (1)

Just the basics: Code name of the project and how much I wrote in that for the day. Totals for overall and how much I have written per project in that one month. At the bottom I decide on a goal, keep an overall running total and then how much more I need to go. January was obviously a bit of a slow month as I only barely reached my goal.

Then, I wasn’t just satisfied with the daily numbers. I wanted to expand and see both monthly and yearly. It was a pain to figure out how to get the totals to show up on a different spreadsheet, but had a hay day when I got it where I wanted them.

Screenshot (2)

It’s simple and similar to the daily. Track the projects and number of projects I’ve worked on in the year (better understood for later) and pull the totals for the month from the daily page. It ends in totals for both monthly and project wise throughout the year. If they are blacked out as three of them are for January, that means I didn’t work on those projects at all that month.

The yearly page is my favorite because I have pulled the yearly totals used another formula for words per page and created charts to better visualize my work. This helps motivate me to work on different projects because I can see where I am putting most of my concentration and which books seem to be falling by the wayside.

Screenshot (3)

Soulmates: Dark #FlashFiction

He was my kind of gorgeous; sweet, funny, great singing voice, protective and a little good looking. Others thought differently with his jerk nature I tended to overlook, tad overweight (just more to love), controlling habits and he was a bit immature.

Still he was my soulmate and I was his. I loved everything about him, but every time we were together things would go wrong. Little things that all couples go through, so we stuck it out. That is until things went really wrong.

I came home one morning, from working nightshift at the hospital, to find another man in my waterbed. Normally I would be ok with this, I’m weird like that, but the poor man was black and blue, tied to a hook in the wall above the bed and looked terrified.

“Leo, what’s going on?” I asked tentatively.

“I needed release, you weren’t here like always. He showed up to deliver a package. I don’t have preference.” He grunted out, still buried deep inside the postman and thrusting. “He took a bit of persuasion but he is better than the corpses in the basement.”

“There are dead bodies in the basement?” I tried not to freak out. That would explain why I’m not allowed in the basement.

“I shouldn’t have said that. Now I’m going to lose the only person that has been able to keep up with me. When you’re home that is.” He kept going, as if in a hypnotic state. “You know they didn’t start out like that. I just couldn’t have them screaming when you are home.”

Mentally I thought of all the places I could run, but he has alienated me from all my friends and family. The cops would think that I was in on it because God only knows how long it has been going on. There is nowhere for me to go.

In order to save my life, I knew what I had to do: join him.

I stripped my clothes and eased down on the unnamed postman’s appendage, facing Leo. “Think of all the fun we could have together.” I said hoping to entice him.

Matching him move for move, I rode them. At the right time, I arched back to the bedside table and grabbed the dagger I keep for protection.

“Rose!” He called out and I plunged the knife deep into his heart.

“That is for thinking to kill me.” I pulled it out and went in again, loving the feel of his warm blood coat my body. “That is for not sharing.”

Greatest Fear #Boogeyman

Currently Reading: Slenderman by Willow Rose, A Storm of Swords (Song of Fire and Ice book 3) by George R.R. Martin, Beauty’s Punishment by Anne Rice and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling.

Books Read: 20/85 Books pledged to read this year.

TBR List: 4997 I reread a couple of books, so technically my TBR didn’t go down….stupid I know.

Words Written: 18,828

I’m not talking about the fear of failure or dying. I’m talking about the scariest, nastiest thing that keeps you up at night. Some people have a fear of clowns or spiders that instantly causes them to freeze up.


I’m working on a new book that involves a big bad boogeyman type coming after the MC (no names worked out yet it’s that new) and her family. While trying to think of the thing’s backstory, I tried coming up with my greatest fear and I can’t think of it.

I have things that freak me out and things that downright scare me, but nothing that makes me stop dead in my tracks or causes my entire body to shake uncontrollably.

Everyone has a greatest fear, but what does it mean if you can’t pinpoint it? Are we becoming oversensitized to violence, gore and horror in general that we no longer have a tangible greatest fear? No matter how irrational.

Think about it, horror movies have transitioned from what I consider horror to more gore than anything. Movies I do consider horror are now referred to as “psychological thrillers” like Black Swan with Natalie Portman or Shutter Island with Leonardo DiCaprio. They both have components of a broken psyche that make people do horrible things and not realize that they are the monsters. To me this is horror because it can and does happen. We learn at a young age that humans are the true monsters (thank you Scooby-Doo) and not things like the Boogeyman.


Horror movies are now things like Sinister, Nightmare on Elm Street or Scream. Great movies but technically slasher flicks. Someone or something goes around filleting people, gratuitous boob shot and people dying because they had sex. It’s like an expensive “Abstinence” ad. Yes they are good but not horror.

My point is getting away from me, sorry.

Are there such things as greatest fears anymore or is everything now a psychological, non-tangible fear? Is that even real with the newest generation being more rewarded for just participating and told to not fear failure? Have we lost the ability to fear and have a great rush of adrenaline when we find that biggest fear? Is the horror genre dead?

An Author’s Romance #AAR Preview

Rushes of angry foreign words as the priest keeps glancing back at me and Jolene before turning his head back to the man who came to the door.

“Jessabel, I don’t like this.” Jolene called to me from the window.

I went across the room to her side, “What’s going on?” I looked out and had to grab the edge of a table to steady myself. “Shit. That’s a lynch mob.” My worst fear has come true.

“Jessa, it gets worse. Look who is leading it.” Jolene pointed to two figures on a brown and white horse. They turned just right so we could see the woman’s face, “Coira.”

“Double shit. I think she is still ticked about the other night and the marriage.” I turned to the priest, fell to my knees and begged for our lives. “Father, please grant us sanctuary. Please. I promise we are not what they think we are.”

He glared back at us, “I know exactly who you are, Witches! I carry the proof!” He held up the battered and stained diary he was just reading to us allowed. “You will get a trial by water, may God have mercy on your souls.”

The gruff man who knocked and a companion from the angry mob rushed forward with lengths of rope. They tied us up and dragged us outside. Jolene’s screams ring in my ears as we are thrown over horses, precariously balancing like teeter-totters, forced to hope we didn’t fall as the riders sped off at a full gallop. The crowd of people jeering and laughing all the way to the pond.

Find at:

New Romance #AAR

Jessabel is a writer that has been experiencing one bad event after another, until she wins a writing contest after drinking her sorrows the night before. Along with her sister, she takes her free trip to Scotland and end up in 1501 Scotland. Not the exact trip she had planned.

She has no idea how to get home, stop her sister from falling in love or save their heads from a blood-thirsty ancestor. Jessabel also has to contend with a jealous housemaid, intent on drowning her as a witch.

#FamilyLegacy Short-Story Chapter 4

I see the hill that starts Highway 13, through the middle of town. I’m less than a mile from home, a feeling of relief passes through my entire body as I flip my turn signal to the right and gently tap the break for my turn.

I don’t see the car that rams into me from behind. I slam my brakes into place, the tail of the car skids around, another jolt farther to the side as a second car hits the first. Metal scrapes against plastic. Now facing the opposite direction, I see the eighteen wheeler slam on his breaks but unable to stop.

Time seems to have slowed down. I dig in my pocket for my phone and press 9…1…1.

The last thing I hear, before the world goes dark is my cousin asking, “911, what is your emergency?”

#FamilyLegacy Short-Story Chapter 3

Jack pauses to cough into a handkerchief. “It might sound cliché, but the weather wasn’t that good that night either. Dark clouds covered the stars, thunder rolled, the lightning crackled but rain hadn’t come yet. It didn’t drop until after the car fire got going really well.” He zones out, not seeing me. So far gone in the past that I can almost see ghosts flit across his eyes.

My voice comes out soft and breathless. “That’s horrible.”

“Yep, but it wasn’t like your mom had the best beginning to life either.”

“How so?”

“Well you know how your grandma died with Tasha Raelynn’s brothers and sisters in the train wreck yea?”


“Well she ended up in her grandparents care after that. Her dad was a criminal that was in and out of prison. Your strict great-grandmother swore Tasha would never be raised by him. He died in federal prison of prostate cancer or something.”

“That would explain why I never got to meet him.” I bite my lower lip in surprise.

“Then your great-grandpa still has some PTSD from WWII.”

“I know that. It has gotten better over the years, but he still has some bad days.”

“Who wouldn’t after taking shrapnel from a grenade from the wrong side of Normandy Beach?”

I gasp. “Wait, he took friendly fire?”

“Yes, ma’am. He hasn’t told you?

“No. He doesn’t talk about the war and no one else will talk about family history at all.” That would explain the deafness in his right ear.

“No one thinks it was on purpose, but it still happened.”

“How do you know all of this?”

“Your mom and I did some digging into the family for a school project.”

“Neat.” I saw solemnly.

“Well I better be off. I just came by to say hi to Tasha. If you need me, you know where to find me.”

I give him a quick hug. “Ok. See you later.”

He dusts off his pants and leaves with a quick wave. He stops and turns back, “you know the saddest part of this mess is the wreck happened just one week after you were born.”

“I hadn’t realized it was that soon. I didn’t get any real time her after all.” Shock.

I get up and stretch. “I need to get back to Shayla before your grandparents scar her for life.

Bye Mom, I’ll be back to see you, maybe next year. I will make sure to bring Shayla too…at some point. Probably not until later when she can fully understand death, but still she will come to know you. We have all the hours of home videos for her to go through.” Out of selfishness, I decide that I will keep the gory details of mother’s death to myself.

My little girl never needs to hear of how her grandmother died in a fiery car crash that threw her from the Trans Am because of her lack of seat belt. Or how the drunk driver got away with murdering her and three of her best friends.

One last look at the pink quartz tombstone in the shape of a heart, then I am on my way home and back to my daughter.

Tasha Raelynn Smith

Daughter and Beloved Mother


#FamilyLegacy Short-Story Chapter 1

I trap my daughter’s hair under a worn-out handkerchief. I will fix the small Afro when I get back, I think I’ll try cornrows this time. “Shayla, please try not to scratch for mommy.” I sigh, she vigorously rubs her arms instead. I have to clip her nails too. I don’t want her to get scars, something else for her father to blame on me. My great-grandma hands me two large oven mitts. “What do I do with these?”

“Put them on her hands.  I’ll give her another oatmeal bath while you’re gone. We will beat these chicken pox, eventually.”

“Thanks GG. Need anything while I’m out?”

“No dear. Tell Tasha we said hi.”

I wrestle with Shayla as she doesn’t like wearing the mitts. “Will do.”

As I pick up my keys my little girl runs to me, “Pwease don’t go mommy!” Clinging to my leg, she starts crying making me feel worse for leaving. The large oven mitts are almost comical on her tiny arms, going so far up they almost touch her shoulders.

My scrawny ninety year old great-grandfather strides over and picks her up. “Get going. She’ll be fine.”

I hide my tears and turn to walk out the back door. The only door we use now so my little girl doesn’t fall off the six-foot high porch.

My stomach is churning more with each step I take to the old clunker I own just for making this trip once or twice a year. I go through my pre-check ritual, making sure the tires and lights work. There’s nothing leaking or the well-kept engine isn’t making any funny noises. “Either would be a no-go until it’s been sent to the shop.” We don’t take chances with cars in this family. There have been too many car accidents, it’s almost a family tradition. I chuckle at my own morbid joke as I turn the ignition over.

Trying to calm my nerves, I start to sing a jingle from elementary, as I pull out onto highway 6. “G-A-double L-A-T-I-N spells Gallatin, Missouri.” My singing is horrible, but it does the trick, soon I am able to glide cautiously down the road and not be as paranoid as usual. I move to the “Bulldog Fight Song” we sang at every pep rally, as the car eats away the miles at a steady pace.


The freshly re-rocked drive to the gate feels as smooth as a gravel road can get, but the anxiety and nausea returns as I pass under the wrought-iron gate. Only one word between its pillars, “Cope,” but it feels as if there should be more and give entrance to Auschwitz itself. I park the car, take a deep breath…then step out into my own personal hell.

There’s great-uncle Dean, 35 due to drunk driving. A third cousin, another car accident at just 21. Oh, great-aunt Sherry looks good. Cancer wasn’t too kind to her. “Just a few more feet.” There are more family members here, but I try not to think about the multitudes of others here for one reason or another.

Finally, my mother’s spot comes into view, “Crap.” I trip in a hidden mud hole, but pinwheel my arms to stay upright. I’ve had enough practice thanks to my clumsiness.

The sky is crystal clear today, the opposite of my heart. “Hey, sorry I haven’t been back for a while. I’ve been pretty busy. Your granddaughter, Shayla, turns one tomorrow. She looks just like you did when you were younger.”

I hold the picture of my little girl for her to see that they share the same frizzy dark brown hair and dark blue mesmerizing eyes. Shayla’s hair is obviously curlier thanks to her father’s heritage. Unfortunately, you can’t see the gold specks that flicker in the light when she is up to no good. “She didn’t get your beauty mark though. She does have the slanted line birthmark on her right shoulder, she wouldn’t be family without it.”

Her crystal clear laugh rings through the air brought on by the breeze, but says nothing. Leaving me to wonder what she would think of my child and the situation I have found myself in, and how similar it is to hers back in late 1990.

     I hate this place, no matter how much maintenance the owners do to it, it still smells of death and looks about the same.

“I would have brought her to see you, but the family says it’s not appropriate.” A single tear wets my cheek, “John left last month his reason being that he tried to love his daughter but just couldn’t, so Shayla and I are back to living with great-grandma and grandpa.”

Carefully, I move a vase of old flower stems, the petals all dried and blown away by now, to sit next to her. “You’d be proud of me. I have stopped drinking while I was away. The postpartum has really been kicking my ass… sorry, arse I know how you don’t like the cursing, but the family is helping me get a handle on the depression though. So no plans of taking myself and eight other family members for a ride to play chicken with a train.” A soft chuckle escapes my lips before I can stop it. “Sorry, bad joke, I know. Your mom didn’t mean for it to happen.” At least we don’t think grandma Joy meant to kill six of her seven children, one of her sisters and herself when they were out running errands. The police believe the car stalled and they couldn’t all get out of the car before the locomotive rammed through the ’57 Chevrolet. “Guess crazy kind of runs in the family.”

Silence tears my words from me as I think back to the story my great-grandparents told me last year when I turned eighteen. They were always ranting and raving that I was turning out to be just like Tasha Raelynn and if I wasn’t careful I would end up in the same place she is.

     I think I am off to a better start. I managed to keep my legs closed for eighteen years. Two years longer than she did. My boyfriend stuck around longer as well. No one in the family knows who my biological father is, but Shayla knows hers. Though we did both meet the boys in high school and had children out of wedlock. Which to most of the family, including many who have survived the war and grew up in a more straight-laced time, believe that is a Cardinal sin.

A woman looks at me funny as she passes to visit one of her relatives. I glare back, I’ve not seen her here before, and perhaps her family is new here. She carries a bouquet of red roses and drags a reluctant husband down the aisle. Again I laugh as I picture a similar experience.

Shortly after she got pregnant, the baby’s father disappeared. My great-grandparents were up in arms about it, much like when they heard my news. I remember great-grandma hissing, “Tasha Raelynn came home practically pulling this poor scrawny boy’s arm out of the socket. Proclaiming that he is the one that got her pregnant.” All while she scowled over her coffee at the memory. Great-grandpa just quietly sucked on his corncob pipe, judging me as always.

“I saw the home movie where you brought him ‘round for a time to make it seem like a real relationship. I can’t believe you ever tried to pass that little gay boy off as my dad. Of course the family saw through it immediately, you couldn’t hide the fact that he was wearing his mother’s pearl earrings or beige lipstick.” I scoff at her naiveté, another thing that separates us. I’m not as gullible as she was back then. “Of course the great-grandparents had more colorful words for him, as they have more colorful words for everything they consider ‘indecent.’ You should hear half the things they say about Shayla being half African American.” I push my anger aside, not wanting to mar this meeting with bitterness.