The First Stage of Grief: Denial

Author’s Note: So this from is one of the stories I wrote and completed a long time ago, but due to some issues raised with it and some nasty feedback I got when posting a fanfiction with a similar concept, I was hesitant to share it. I had to do this to get past a roadblock in The Monster in My Garden Shed, a plot that was going to derail the already messy storyline I had going on there. So, Renatta didn’t have to do this… The story became Verina’s.

The First Stage of Grief: Denial

“Tell me it’s lying. That thing is… defective.”

Cameron wrapped his arms around me. I buried my face in his chest, not wanting to look again. I couldn’t even look at him, knowing that he wasn’t the one I wanted holding me. As close as he could be, I supposed, but it wasn’t the same. It would never be the same again. I was willing to believe that I’d messed up the test somehow, made a mistake, only it seemed rather straight forward—alarmingly so. I hit the mark, I set the timer, and I waited. I repeated the same process with two other brands. They all had the same undesired result. “Please?”

“We will get you in to see the a doctor and get one of those tests.”

“You think these ones are telling the truth?” I asked, shaking my head. I knew they’d be telling me that I was lucky, but no, I wasn’t lucky. This wasn’t luck. None of it was. “I know I did more than one, but I just really want you to tell me that they’re all wrong.”

“I know you do,” he agreed, rocking me a little. I closed my eyes, trying to will away this nightmare. Or maybe I wanted to pretend that he was someone else. If I kept my eyes closed, I could almost believe it. He sounded so much like his brother. “It’s possible that it’s some kind of—oh, I don’t know what it’s called, but something that would cause them to all read false because of what they test for, and that’s something that I believe the doctor’s tests can tell the difference.”

“I am not on any kind of hormone therapy. Yes, there was protection, but it wasn’t the pill,” I said, moaning, leaning into him. I knew that I was giving him information that he didn’t want to hear—details he didn’t need, didn’t want. He hadn’t even been that close to his brother, and he was basically a stranger to me. Still, he continued to hold me. I needed to stop this because I was not like this. Not normally. Of course, normal would have meant so many other things would be different now. “It’s only been, what, a week? It’s too soon. That’s why the results are off.”

“A week since Sam died, not necessarily a week since you’ve been pregnant. Try and stay calm until tomorrow when you can see the doctor,” Cameron suggested, hesitantly combing back my hair. I sighed. I was not going to cry anymore, but I felt so defeated at the moment, unable to deal with this. “Ina, I know how hard this is for you.”

“Cameron, you don’t even know me,” I reminded him, a bit annoyed to hear him shortening my name like that. Why Ina? I was kind of used to people picking Rina, not that I’d ever liked it. Just plain Ina? What was that? “And it’s not in you, okay? You don’t… You don’t understand at all.”

He touched my face gently, looking at me with the same eyes his brother had, though I swore Sam had never seen through me so easily as Cameron was right now. It was the grief. It had torn down all my walls, and I was left exposed, unprotected and even… naked. “It’s not a monster. It’s not any part of a monster, either.”

I shuddered, wrapping my arms around him and shivering. I couldn’t seem to get warm right now. It was like he knew, and how could he know? I hadn’t even told Sam. “I am so scared of this, Cameron. I don’t know what to do.”

He was quiet for an unnervingly long time. “I can’t tell you what to do. I’ve never been particularly good at figuring that out for myself. God knows Sam hated that about me—my inability to stay in one place, to settle—he always said I couldn’t make up my mind.”

I nodded. That sounded like Sam. I could remember those complaints when he’d pick up a postcard from wherever his younger brother was at the time, shaking his head in disgust and saying Cameron would never learn, that he only thought he was living a good life but he was really running.

He’d never actually said what Cameron was running from, and I’d never actually asked. I looked down and turned the wedding ring around on my finger. “Sam… He was definitely grounded. Stable.”

Cameron nodded, leaning his head back against the wall and running his hand through his hair. I knew what he wasn’t saying. The stable one was gone, and the reckless one had lived, and it wasn’t like I had any real expectation of him sticking around, either. I didn’t even know how he’d heard about the accident that killed Sam. The funeral had only been this morning, or Cameron would have been long gone by now, not sitting with me.

Finding out you were pregnant the day you put your husband in the ground was just about the worst way it could happen. I didn’t even know why I’d suddenly been gripped by the need to make certain that I wasn’t—sure, I’d thrown up after I woke up, but that only made sense because I was burying Sam. Still, I’d turned to Cameron as everyone walked away and told him I needed the tests. He hadn’t said anything, later pulling me from the wake to give me the bag, and I’d waited until now, when everyone else was gone, to take them.

“I had to have done that wrong. Three times, and I screwed it up. That’s the only explanation.”

Cameron gave me a doubtful look, and I sighed. “I don’t want a kid. I’m not good with them, and even though your brother wanted one desperately, I didn’t. I don’t now. How the hell am I supposed to do this without him when I didn’t think I could do this with him?”

“You have options.”

I grimaced. “Options. Right. On that note, I think I’m going to bed. I’ll sleep, and in the morning, this will all be a bad dream.”

Please Come to Boston

I recently finished a story where one of the main characters traveled the world, refusing to settle down, and it ended up being a source of conflict between him and his family, an obstacle for them to overcome, and then thanks to Pandora, I found this song again.

It’s very much Cameron before the book starts.

Kabobbles Sing Along is just what I think when I hear songs. I sometimes see images when I hear lyrics, pictures or movies in my head. Sometimes I relate it to stories. My interpretation of the songs and lyrics are probably nothing like their original intent.

Sometimes a Story Creates a New Story…

Having finished Matched Set, which took me about a week, a fact that I’m still stunned and amazed by, I turned my attention back to my other projects.

I have many, many incomplete stories and projects lying around. Some of them aren’t really worth salvaging, and some of them deserve a hell of a lot better than this.

It was starting to look like The Monster in My Garden Shed was heading toward this inglorious fate, and I refused to let that happen. Not only have I been talking about it in a public forum, which makes the idea of abandoning it less than appealing for the fact of everyone knowing my defeat, the story is too good and the characters too deserving of having their story concluded to let that happen.

I’d edited the story before I put it aside three weeks ago, all the while unable to decide how to keep going.

The problem was wanting to tell two stories. The Monster in My Garden Shed is, in my opinion, a story with considerable depth and complexity and layers, a challenging world that continually draws me in (and thwarts me at every opportunity) and characters that I love spending time with. In the middle, though, the idea of a subplot entered the narrative, and that subplot was not something that helped the story reach a conclusion. It would have derailed the rest of it, to be perfectly honest.

I thought I’d given up on it back in chapter twenty-five, but in thirty-one, it was rearing its ugly head again. I wrote a couple of scenes that almost took it down that route, and the reader I torture with all my new fic told me they were over the top.

I admit, this put me in a bit of a funk. I couldn’t quite let go of that idea or those scenes, so even though I knew that wasn’t where The Monster in My Garden Shed should go.

After finishing The Memory Collector and Variety Store, I’d wanted to get The Monster in My Garden Shed back up to the top of the list. I couldn’t. Five and Ten was coming along, and The Not-So-Super Superhero faltered for a couple days but came back again, but instead of the garden shed, I went into Matched Set.

I don’t regret that. Wichita and Reece have a great story, and I love the explanation of the reason the killer does what he does.

After playing around with a few fun things, toying with the idea of another new story since Net almost stole the show in Matched Set like Spider did in Any Other Reality, and finishing my edits to hopefully release In the Family soon I finally figured out what I needed to do for The Monster in My Garden Shed.

I had to take that plotline out completely and give it to someone else, someone who shared enough traits with Ren to make the situation work, but one who didn’t have to worry about saving the world, either.

Now I get to keep the scenes I wrote (not exactly as they were, that didn’t work, but bits and pieces of them) and yet they’ll get cut from The Monster in My Garden Shed.

Verina Harvey now has that story, and it’s hard and painful, but it’s her story to tell, not Ren’s.

Plans. No, Not Plans

I have to admit: I don’t like making plans.


In my experience, plans never seem to go the way they should.


Therefore, when I considered the idea of scheduling releases and all that would go with that, I didn’t think it would work.


We’ll go with what I’d like to do, then.


What I’d like to do this month is simple, I hope. I want to launch the Nickel and Dime series by publishing the first one in that series, Nickel and Dime.


Next month, I’d like to get All the Men in My Life out there. Hopefully by then I will have a concept for the cover that I am actually happy with. It seems like every time I come up with something, I shortly afterward start to hate it. I would release the next Nickel and Dime novel, Variety Store, in a few months (haven’t quite figured out if it should be two months between them or three or if I need more since I haven’t actually completed the fourth one yet. I might also put out one of the other possible series starts before the second N & D.)


I would also like to get one of the books for another name out there. I divided them up according to genres, so I have one for the science fiction, one for the contemporary mysteries, one for historical mysteries, one for more humor/satire type stories, one for contemporary romance, and one for fantasy.  I’m leaving it open to create more if necessary, but those are my categories so far.


It had been my hope to do something for the science fiction one, to publish The Memory Collector, but I decided that it needed major rewrites first. That process has been started, but I’m still working on it. I don’t have any of the historical mysteries completed, and so that would leave something from either contemporary romance (Unexpected Gifts) or satire/humor (Any Other Reality or The Not-So-Super Superhero) but I’d need to get someone else to go over them besides me and my initial readers. That hasn’t happened yet.


Also, now that I have completed The Not-So-Super Superhero, I would like to have another daily story going (this time I think it would be on the new site, not a blog), but I cannot decide what is best to use for that. Something from one of the other pen names, probably, but I am having trouble deciding on what. I’d also like to have a cover or some kind of art first, but the artist/tech side of Kabobbles has been very busy with moving houses, so that would also have to wait.


In the meantime, of course, there is always more writing to be done. I have some new stuff, my edits, and I have ressurrected another older fic that I did not finish typing before, but now I’m actually getting it closer to completion (it is mostly done by hand, a few bits missing here and there, I just hadn’t fixed the major plot hole or had the patience to type it all.) It marks the second older story that has gained new life, The Consultant and the Cat being the first one, and I do hope this trend can continue with several more completed stories at the end of it. I think I know the one that I would pull up next, though I will probably resume my serial work with Nickel and Dime and The Consultant and the Cat after the stories I have now are complete.


Near the end of the month, I will hopefully be participating in a training course for living history at my local museum, and that will be useful research. I need to call them again because they didn’t call me back when I tried to RSVP. Maybe they don’t want a crazy writer there.


Anyway, that’s the “plan” for now.

Working Titles

I was preparing a little entry for the Kabobbles Sing Along section about the song that inspired my choice for the working title for The Lady in Black’s sequel. Working titles are what I call the story while I’m writing it. Not all of them come with the right title instantly. Some do. Others refuse to be pinned down right away.


Some titles were easy. In the Family was always In the Family from the moment it was begun on my phone. Any Other Reality was that from the beginning as well. I don’t know what else The Monster in My Garden Shed or The Memory Collector could be. The same goes for The Not-So-Super Superhero. He is that. His story could be told under no other name. As soon as I started typing it, I had the title for The Consultant and the Cat. The Lady in Black had a working title years ago that was abandoned before typing began.


On the other hand, other titles have not come so readily. Some don’t even feel right now. That would be the case with The Geek and the Fed and Unexpected Gifts. Each of them took on a new name from their working title, “Geek” and “Obligation” respectively, but they haven’t entirely settled on them. Criss-Crossed Paths started out using its first chapter title, and then it became “Tempest and Lonely Hearts” after the nicknames of two of the characters. The new title is still being debated.


Other titles come along as the story progress.


Just a Whim, believe it or not, started out as “The Crankening,” owing to the other half of Kabobbles Publishing’s daughter, who was extremely cranky when I began the story. Matched Set started out as “Favor,” but once the figurine set started to feature so heavily in it, the matched set made perfect sense.


All the Men in My Life began as “Old Love Best Unseen” which completely doesn’t fit it. The new title owes from a line that Franklin says to Mira, “All the men in your life piss me off.” She responds with, “Franklin, you’re one of the men in my life.”


The series that starts with Nickel and Dime each had their own working title. Nickel and Dime was “Change Your Identity.” Until the end of it, Variety Store was just “Nickel and Dime the Second.” The third one, however, was Five and Ten from the beginning. The secondhand store owned by Effie Lincoln could be called a “nickel and dime” or “five and ten” or even “variety store,” so all the stories have that theme to their titles.


Last night, I named a story “Lollipop.” Funny how names go, right?