Kelly Flowers

writer


Leave a comment

Work in Progress – New Novel

I feel like I’ve edited these 300 words a thousand times.

Transcendents

Chapter 1

Evan sees it in slow motion, the fall leaves scalloping Mara’s profile as the car hovers above her, the girl on the bike peddling by. He’s seen it a hundred times. Mara is turning to the sound of the squealing brakes, her silhouette swollen against the backdrop of autumn, her hand slung under her enormous belly. The breaching car winks in the sunlight and the sound of Mara’s body as the car hits her is like a sack of mortar being dropped from a truck. Then, she is gone.

It always start in the groin, the pressure so violent it’s almost pain. Evan stops walking. His fist clenches over six oval pills but when he opens his hand, it’s empty. He can taste the pills, the bitter film on them as he swallows one after the other. He feels the heaviness of his limbs, how easily he’d closed his eyes. But the pills hadn’t worked. He’s still here. Here. 

Evan turns in a small circle, his feet squeaky on the white floor. A set of tapping footsteps fades in front of him as the man he’s following walks on without him. Evan tries to focus on the man but all he sees shapes, changing, colliding, lines unfolding like dismantled origami. Hexagons turn into ellipses, triangles to quadrilaterals. When he opens his mouth, the queasy taste of metal comes in waves. 

The man turns, his face chiseled by the light. “Please try to keep up,” he says. “Our time is limited.” 

Beyond the man is a doorway, the white hallway telescoping to it. “I realize you are disoriented,” he adds. “But it will come to you as we go. This…” The man tilts a thin hand toward a door. “Is the waiting room. I will bring you back here once we’ve completed the tour.” He makes eye contact and then continues.

How many ways can this be rewritten? I’ll let you know.

giphy

Advertisements


Leave a comment

40 Before 40 – The Mid-Age Bucket List

bucket listMany moons ago, I was a bright-eyed go-getter, bent on squeezing every drop from the gristly lime of life. I had a lot of things I wanted to do and I was in a big hurry to do them.giphy-3

And then life happened. Every now and then, it occurred to me that the ME I had designed in my twenties was a long gone blueprint, some imaginary being the lab had given up on.

My priorities were unwillingly rearranged with children and societal pressure to normalize and the constant need to pay for some life necessity or another. The nerve.

Then comes 40. I’m on the countdown and it’s time to regroup, assess, question whether all that party planning and crafting really counts as moving forward in life. (Existentially, it is also time to question whether moving forward is the real goal.)

Have I lived enough? I asked myself. Have I accomplished enough? Have I adventured enough? I’ve never even been to India! 

This anxiety sent me straight to list making, because making lists is every Type-A’s therapy. A well-written list can solve any problem.

giphy-1

Now, while I’m still ruminating on the existential meaning of life, I’ve constructed a really scintillating list. 40 things I want to do before I turn 40. Because if there’s one other thing a type-a likes, it’s a deadline. 😉

So, if anyone is so inclined… jump on board and do a 50 before 50 or a 30 before 30 or a 47 before 47 (although it, admittedly, doesn’t have the same ring).

(Legal disclaimer: I got a version of this idea from Gretchen Rubin, who on her podcast appearance with none other than Tim Ferriss, talked about her 18 for 2018 resolution list.)

Here’s my 40 Before 40…

  1. Publish book – Come hell or high water
  2. Sing karaoke – IN PUBLIC
  3. See the Northern Lights – I was born in Alaska and don’t even remember ever seeing the aurora borealis. poo.
  4. Do the splits
  5. Take Scottish dancing class – Seems random but I am Scottish, did Scottish dancing as a teenager (see how cool I was?) and am thoroughly obsessed with all things Scottish.
  6. Do 10 pull-ups
  7. Take a painting class
  8. Take a hip-hop/dance class – Maybe improve my Elaine-from-Seinfield moves. Maybe not.

    giphy-2

    I had to.

  9. Go tent camping – Glamping doesn’t count, much to my city-boy husband’s chagrin.
  10. Take a pottery class
  11. Buy a Motorhome
  12. Motorhome across the country
  13. Go to a horse ranch
  14. Organize/print digital photos – Honestly, this may be the hardest thing on this list.
  15. Go whale watching
  16. Go to Iceland
  17. Try aerial yoga
  18. Try acro yoga
  19. Ride a skateboard – Friends are trying to talk me out of this due to potential physical injury to my middle-aged body.
  20. Learn to ski
  21. Meet Tim Ferriss – Tim, if you’re out there, I’m a total fangirl and will likely have nothing intelligent to say due to nervous paralyzation.
  22. Do a handstand
  23. Get back to my college fluency in Spanish
  24. Remodel our home office
  25. Go rock climbing – Indoor is ok. I’m not a snob or anything.
  26. Learn how to swim strokes – like real swimming, not bobbing and flapping
  27. Play the ukulele
  28. Go to a poetry reading
  29. Read the Harry Potter books – Because I have heard this should be on every bucket list and apparently I’ve been living in a barn having not read them.
  30. Organize travel memorabilia – Hmmm, what to do with train tickets from Belgium, coasters from Peru and sugar packets from Morocco…
  31. Burn music to hard drive – I literally do not have a CD player
  32. Teach my kids to play chess
  33. Teach my son to read
  34. Go to a trampoline gym – I’m thinking without my kids. Would that be weird?
  35. Be vegan for a week
  36. Make a good (thai) curry
  37. Make a scrapbook for my husband’s last birthday – I’m such a giver.
  38. Take self-defense class
  39. Get laser hair removal – because shaving sucks
  40. Ride a jet ski – I have never done this and stole it from my friend’s bucket list because I was like “Oh yeah, I HAVE always wanted to do that.”

So there. I’m about to get at it.

P.S. If any writers out there are feeling mid-life crisis-y like I was, be comforted by the statistic that 95% of great writers are over the hump of 40. Like fine wine, apparently literary success improves with age. One in the pro column for getting older.


Leave a comment

Fresh Meat, New Novel. We Is Smitten.

I’ve been editing for so long, I forgot what it’s like to sink my teeth into fresh prose, to get that high from creating rather than rehashing and hacking. I am finally into a new book and my appetite has been whet.

giphy

I was gun shy to start a new novel, not because it’s an agonizing, hair-pulling, time-consuming process, which it is. I dreaded it because I didn’t want to commit to a new set of characters for the next few years of my life. Honestly, I hadn’t met a bedfellow I thought I could handle the commitment with. We’re talking about fictional characters, people, but sometimes, you’re just SICK OF TALKING TO THEM.

I’m going to do everything different this time. First, I’m writing an outline (before I start describing settings and layering characters). I’ll make sure I have a working ending so that I can build it from the beginning rather than retrofitting it in later. (and then re-retrofitting it on the second draft) See? I can learn.

Tonight, one of my writer friends said that if she knew how hard writing actually was, she would have taken up painting. She’s on her 7th draft, which made me self-conscious about my own 3 paltry drafts.

But THIS is what it’s all about! It’s the rush of lifting my fingers from the keys after three hours and having to resurface enough to maintain a conversation. Sure, I then realize I’m running late and haven’t brushed my teeth but who cares?! It like a drug to me.

So if you can’t find me for the next year of my life, know I am holing myself up in a dark corner, face creepily lit by my laptop screen and a look of crazed joy on my haggard face. Writing like a ninja.

hiding with laptop

Ahhh, authoring.

 


Leave a comment

…Excerpt From My Novel, Gone Dark

Pig 5

(* no wild pigs were injured in the writing of this book, albeit theoretically)

Moku heard the shot that killed the sow. He was almost relieved. The feral pua’a were overrunning the mountains and  pigs stunk up the place. They’d made mud holes in Moku’s lawn again.

He hadn’t thought about the boar piglets until he saw them foraging under the mango tree. He pulled out the traps Auntie had bought to catch the mongoose that was chewing into her packs of cuttlefish. Every time she set them, the cages turned up empty, the bait missing.

The piglets had already lost weight. One was limping. Moku was never much of a hunter and they were good as dead anyway so Moku baited the cages with rotten mangoes stewing in a puddle of Bud Light. 

By the next morning, two cages contained the thrashing bodies of small pua’a. Their snouts were bloodied from lunging at the cage walls. Their beady eyes panicked as they shook and squealed. It had been hard to see them as the true pestilence they were. The third cage was empty, both of pig and bait. The work of a mongoose.

Moku had laughed. Always the third little pig that gets away. He puffed up his chest and exhaled loudly and deliberately in the direction of the closest pig cage. When his lungs were empty, he laughed again, more loudly this time.

“Some big bad wolf, eh?” he’d said to the pigs.

Moku’s first impression of Carol was from her car. The three black boar had squealed in their kennel at the hairball hacking sound it made as it bounced down his dirt road.

Moku had been sitting on a plastic lawn chair on the porch, smoking and thinking about reseeding the St. Augustine grass where the pigs had torn it up. When Carol parked the green car, crooked and mostly in the road, it backfired and Moku had flinched. He had stared past her then, hoping she hadn’t seen. When she’d spotted him on the porch, she laughed nervously, shrugging and looking sheepishly from the car to Moku as though it was the first time the car had ever embarrassed her.

Up close, she was smaller than she had seemed from Pahoa’s house. Her cheeks were wizened from too much sun and sinewy blond hairs glittered against her tanned forearms. She walked like a mynah bird, strutting and stomping, a kind of falling forward like she was hopping from rock to rock. Before now, he hadn’t given her much thought. Auntie always had enough to say about her for the both of them. Carol probably didn’t know that Pahoa was such a gossip. He reported everything he saw or heard and he and Auntie speculated together.

Carol seemed younger that day, probably because she was so short. Her tank top had been tied into a knot at her middle where a thin strip of pale skin was visible when she raised her arms. It was white as coconut flesh. She had a quick smile, apologetic almost. He was the one who’d been sorry. She shouldn’t have come here.

“Hi, I’m Carol. Are you Manu?” The words were spoken clearly; the vowels clipped and with too much emphasis on the last syllable, just like a haole would say it.

“Moku,” he’d said. His high had been wearing off and it was making him raw, irritable but also open, like when a song touches you somewhere dark and fragile and you hear it for the first time.

Continue reading


1 Comment

“Resolutions” Never Work

(I started this blog a couple of days ago and then, well… you know, I put it aside. Procrastination, you old nemesis! 2017 is going to be on your a$$!)

Pre-New Year’s Eve Post

Now is a good time to eat pie. Because pretty soon, my New Year resolutions won’t allow it. After the cooking and serving and saran-wrapping, you can’t see the fridge light. And then, eating leftovers becomes a bit of a goal. Each Tupperware emptied, an accomplishment. You can see how this line of thinking gets out of hand. I am nothing if not goal-oriented, for some suuuper important things, like emptying the fridge.

Soon will NOT be the time to eat pie, it will be to deny thyself. Whether it be donuts, laziness or procrastination, the New Year is about doing what you don’t want to do (like an early morning run) and not doing what you want to do (like eat ice cream and watch Westworld until 2am). Ah, the constant battle that divides doers and, well, non-doers.

I’m ready (after I finish this piece of pie) to hit the ground running. I’ll spend the next couple of days writing what I call resolutions but are really goals. There’s an important difference. Resolutions say “do better”. Goals say “here is a step to do better”. So I don’t do resolutions. I DO goals. But I really like the word “resolution” so I still use it.

Now it’s time to flurry into action putting away my Clark Griswold Christmas because 2017 doesn’t have room for that kind of chaos! Continue reading


Leave a comment

Sowing The Seeds Of A Novel – Writing and Gardening

Gardens are like books. Ok, gardens are not as delightful as books and, well, gardens have bugs soooo… 😕 But maintaining a garden is like writing a book because…

Both gardens and books need constant care to grow. I liken that perfect, red glittery strawberry to a jewel of an idea you get at 3am. You know you should stop what you’re doing and pick it/write it down but “meh.” You’re too tired.You’ll do it later. Then poof! You turn it over and the potato bugs have swiss-cheesed it. giphy

They both look easy, until you’re on your knees in aguish because grasshoppers have scarfed down your harvest or you discover that your protagonist is just boring.

Aaaand, if you garden (or write novels) only for food, you’re in the wrong business!

Way back when, I loved the idea of food being a simple equation. Seed – plant – stomach. Easy, right?

But after many moons of battling weeds and insects, I’ve realized three things:

1. I have not outgrown my childhood skittishness of all things crawly.  Continue reading


Leave a comment

How To Write Consistently – Location, Location, Location!

I once told a fellow writer that every time I sit down, I feel like a different person and my work reflects it. My multiple personalities bloat my writing with their twisted humor, inflated description, gushing prose or snarky syntax. Whoever shows up that day.

“It depends on how caffeinated I am or how quiet it is or whether my dishes are done,” I said wistfully. “How do I write an entire book if I can’t even keep my scattered brain in line?”

My friend replied, “What is your workspace like? Where do you normally write?” Errrr. I did that embarrassed side-pursed-lips thing that you do when someone asks what you do to workout, then replied, “Wherever I guess. Cafes, the library, bed, my kitchen table.” She nodded knowingly.

So, apparently we writers are supposed to keep our environment stable if we want the tone of our writing to be consistent. I hope not EVERYONE here is like “duh” because this had actually never occurred to me. It makes sense, I just thought it was one of those in your perfect world scenarios. Continue reading