All posts by Salem Archer

19 Things About Me

I stole these question from an author I adore, R.L. Mathewson. She posted these on Facebook and challenged everyone to answer these 19 questions. It’s been a while since I blogged, so I figured I’d post my answers here. Without further ado, my answers to the post…

19 random facts about yourself that may surprise people.

  1. Do you make your bed every day?

Nope because if I did, my husband wouldn’t be able to breathe under there. He gets to roll his self-employed ass out of bed whenever he feels like it—the struggle is real, y’all.

  1. What’s your favorite number?

67—my old ATV racing number and the year model of my favorite Camaro.

  1. What is your dream job?

Billionaire—preferably obtained legally; the lotto would probably be the best option.

  1. If you could, would you go back to high school?

Absolutely! I get to know what I know now and have my high school body, right?

  1. What is something no one would ever guess about you?

I’ve had to battle insecurity my whole life.

  1. A job you had which people would be shocked to know you had?

I used to work at a roller skating rink—stop laughing! Fat chicks skate, too.

  1. Do you think aliens are real?

Clearly, you’ve never been to an Americana music festival if you have to ask this question.

  1. Can you drive a stick shift?

Yep, I do it every day—well, that is when the POS will actually run.

  1. Guilty TV pleasure?

It used to be Sons of Anarchy. Now it’s Preacher and Lucifer.

  1. Tattoos?

No, but as soon as I work up the nerve, I know what I want.

  1. If the world ends do you want to be one of the survivors?

Hell no! Haven’t you read The Road by Cormac McCarthy? I can’t eat babies.

  1. Things people do that drive you crazy?

I HATE it when people promise to do something, but then they don’t do it.

  1. Do you have any birthmarks?

No—just scars from childhood.

  1. Favorite childhood game?

This isn’t really a game, but after they paved my road, I used to take hardened clumps of clay and draw on the pavement—life before the Internet, y’all.

  1. Do you talk to yourself?

Every day. I like to have at least one intelligent conversation per day.

  1. Do you like doing puzzles?

Only if they don’t involve numbers and/or ridiculously obscure vocabulary.

  1. Music genre?

Mostly, I like what I would call outlaw country—Jamey Johnson, Chris Stapleton, Aaron Lewis, Hank jr., Eric Church, etc. Also, I like strong women singers—Miranda Lambert, Jennifer Nettles, the Dixie Chicks, etc.

  1. Tea or Coffee?

Both

  1. First thing you remember wanting to be when you grow up?

A fashion designer, which is hilarious considering I shed my work clothes as soon as I get home. I love yoga pants and t-shirts. Work clothes suck!

A Little WIP Never Hurt Anyone!

I’ve got a couple of things in the works right now, including a companion novel to the Moondance Trilogy (which is almost finished–clapping hands with glee). I thought I’d leave you with a little bit of another of my WIPs. This is from a future rom-com tentatively titled The Last Will and Testament of Crazy Lizzy. I entered an excerpt from this work in the Adobe Cottage Fiction Contest. I didn’t win, but the amazing Susan Donovan told me I was in the top 10. I’m pretty proud of that. So, here’s the opening…Enjoy! (Warning: I have a potty-mouth, and I’m not afraid to use it!)

I know T.S. Eliot called April “the cruelest month”—something about lilacs and dead land and memory and desire. That memory part must have skipped right over me because I don’t remember any more of the poem than that. Maybe I was having an off day when we read it in Mrs. Moffett’s senior English class, or maybe T.S. Eliot was having an off day when he wrote it. Who knows? I guess it just didn’t speak to me at seventeen all-knowing years of age.

One thing I do remember from Mrs. Moffett’s class is that context is everything, and I’m sure I’m removing Eliot’s words from some deep underlying meaning when I say that I don’t agree with his assessment of April. Around here, April is far from cruel. In fact, this morning, it’s pretty damn spectacular. Today is April second, and on this second day of mean ol’ April’s blessings, the weeping cherry trees along Main Street are a jubilant celebration of spring’s arrival. Long pink garlands hang from each of the old gnarled branches. They sway in the breeze as if waving us humans over to take a look. Every few seconds the garlands shed a tiny petal to ride the wind like confetti. It’s beautiful, but somehow sad. Looking at this scene, some deeply suppressed part of me is stirred, a restlessness in my soul, and I kind of wish I was one of those petals . . . riding the wind right out of this town—on second thought, maybe Eliot was right.

One of those wayward petals sticks to the windshield as my brother parks us along Main Street and cuts the engine. “Damn, Kitty Kat, looks like we were lucky to get a spot.”

I look around us. Both sides of the street are packed with vehicles. “I didn’t think we had this many people left in this town. What in the world . . . ?”

“I don’t know . . . must be traffic court day or something. Come on. Let’s go in.”

“Wait!” I grab his arm as he reaches for the door. “I still don’t know about this, Dave. We barely knew the woman.”

“Look sis, you’ve beat this horse to death ever since we got the notice. You know I did that work on her front porch last year, and you helped me paint it. She must have, I don’t know, decided she liked us or something . . . or maybe she just felt sorry for us.”

“Maybe, but that’s not enough to include us in her will. I mean, you were contracted to do a job . . . and I was just helping out. Nothing special about that . . . I did open the door for her that one time, but—”

“Listen, Kitty Kat, put the brakes on your over-analyzing shit. The woman had no children, right?”

“Right, but—”

“But what? Now, just hush and listen. She had no children. And even though she was bat-shit crazy, we were always nice to her, so the best I can figure, she just wanted to leave us a little something. I’d say we get a couple of hundred bucks and the rest is probably going to some artsy-fartsy foundation or some kind of shit like that . . . Hell, there’s probably not much left anyway. She never worked a day in her life. I bet she spent just about everything her daddy left her . . . No sense making a mountain of a molehill here.”

I look over at him and raise an eyebrow with my best watch-it-mister expression. Even though David and I are twins, both 24 years old, I still feel like I have to be the adult. And this is not a recent development; it’s been this way since we were thirteen. Losing both parents has a way of making a person grow up fast. It did for me anyway. For David . . . not so much.

“Don’t give me that look,” he says as he shakes his head at me. “The only way we’re going to settle it is to go on in and see why we’re here, and we’re about to be late. So come on.”

He is right, of course. I just roll my eyes and reach for the door handle of his rickety old truck. You know, since he refused to let me drive us in my car. For some reason, he’s in love with this rust bucket. It’s a wonder we made it the five miles from our house to town.    

Dave jumps out, in an obvious hurry, and takes the lead. I’m content to follow behind. Maybe that way, people won’t think we came together . . . Oh hell, who am I kidding? Everybody in this dried-up town knows who we are—the poor, pitiful Riley orphans.

As we walk along, all I can see is the back of one big-ass Five Finger Death Punch concert tee—which I begged him not to wear to the courthouse. Everybody treats us like white-trash lepers as it is. We certainly didn’t need to show up looking the part. The busybodies will look down their noses, but apparently, Dave doesn’t care enough about his only sister to stop embarrassing her—so I glance over at the closed doors of the courthouse and dread our grand entrance. Well, at least no one knows we’re coming. We’ve both kept this pretty quiet.

As we reach the intersection of two sidewalks, Dave makes an abrupt stop, sending the side of my face crashing into Toronto . . . or maybe Tokyo. All I see is the “To” as I run into him. I’m just about to light into his ass when a man’s voice redirects my attention. “Please, after you,” he says.

Of course I couldn’t see anyone else approaching on the sidewalk because I was walking behind a big stubborn house dressed in a ratty old concert tee. Since Dave is six-foot and pushing two-fifty, I’m forced to lean around the big lug to see who is talking. As soon as I obtain a view, my eyes quickly travel from dress shoes to perfectly fitting slacks to a button-up shirt and jacket—also perfectly fitting—all the way up to the most insanely blue eyes I’ve ever seen. They make it impossible for me to look away. In the periphery, I notice his neatly trimmed stubble is just enough to be sexy over a chiseled jaw, and his hair is just messy enough without being too messy. All I can think is damn! At this point I know two things about the man: one, he’s a god consorting with mere mortals, and two, he’s most definitely not from around here.

In one slick move, I lose my balance and stumble to the side. With a flurry of hair and elbows, I try to right myself. I’m such an idiot. Suddenly, a strong hand on my arm steadies me. I bolt up straight and freeze like a groundhog about to get his ass run over.

“Woah there . . . easy,” he says.

I look up and come face to face with brilliant blue. I guess I’m momentarily stricken dumb because I can’t seem to respond verbally.

“You okay?” he asks.

Physically unable to push any sound from my throat, I just nod my head.

“Goddamn, Kitty Kat, don’t lose your shit.”

Dear God. He did not just say that. My brother did not just curse and call me Kitty Kat . . . and curse . . . and embarrass me in front of a complete stranger—a completely gorgeous stranger. Dave’s stupidity and obvious lack of manners does wonders for my vocal chords.  “Thank you, I’m fine,” I say to the man. Then I shoot my brother a look which says I’m going to strangle the life out of you with that freaking t-shirt.

Lucky for Dave, he knows exactly what the look means and has enough sense to back off. Two big-oaf hands fly up in a gesture of defeat. Well, he should know when to quit. It’s not like this is the first time he’s incurred my wrath . . . Not by a long shot.

Apparently, our little display of sibling affection amuses the stranger. When I look back to him, he’s smirking at me. What the . . . ? Who does he think he’s laughing at? He doesn’t know us. He may be a god on whatever planet he’s from, but that doesn’t give him the right to make fun of us mortals. I don’t care how adorable that little dimple is that just magically appeared. My eyes narrow for a quick second. Then, I walk on ahead toward the building.

I don’t turn around, but I can feel both men fall in behind me. Huh, I guess Mr. Blue Eyes was headed to the courthouse, too. He probably got a speeding ticket out on the three-mile stretch of interstate which cuts through a corner of our county. I bet he drives some obscenely expensive sports car. Too bad for him—about the ticket, I mean, not the car.

In what, for me at least, is now a march of nervous excitement, we walk up the courthouse steps and open one of the giant oak doors. Generations of people from our town have passed through these doors, but at the moment, none of them are here. The hallway is completely empty. That’s weird. I really expected to see a bunch of people walking around. Somebody is driving those cars. Where are they?

I pause just long enough for Dave to reach my side. Then I ask, “It was Courtroom B, right?” I know good and well it was, but I guess I’ve always kept him in the loop in any way possible. He’s a big idiot sometimes, but I want him to feel important . . .  I let him think he’s helpful.

Dave nods, and we walk the few steps together to Courtroom B. As Dave reaches to open the door for me, I catch a glimpse of Mr. Perfect headed into the men’s bathroom. I bet he’s got enough money to pay off his ticket and be done with it. I doubt I’ll ever see him again. I shrug it off as a rare encounter with some fantastical beast, a unicorn. My friends wouldn’t believe me if I told them about him anyway.

My attention flies back to the door just opened by my sweet idiot brother. I’m frozen in my tracks at the first glimpse inside the courtroom. It looks like the whole town is here. But it’s not just people from our town, there are movie cameras and lights and some guy barking orders about angles or something. Dave and I just look at each other. The letter we received didn’t say anything about this. We just assumed we would be the only ones here.

We pass, reluctantly, through the threshold and into the room. With no seats left, we are forced to stand in the back against the wall. Lucky me, I get pinned in between two mountains—Dave on one side and Randy Shumate on the other. Randy works at the hardware store, so he knows everybody.

“Oh, hey, Kat . . . Dave,” Randy says looking between us.

With the apparent revelation that we weren’t the only ones to be summoned here today, I ask, “So, you got a letter, too?”

“Yep, looks like the whole town got one.” Randy points out the obvious.

I just nod and direct my attention to movement and murmurs at the front. Over the heads of those seated, I see Mr. Treadway, a local attorney, step up to the judge’s microphone, and the room goes silent. “Hello everyone. Thank you for coming, and welcome to the reading of the last will and testament of Miss Beatrice Elizabeth…

 

I Can’t Drive 55!

Speed_Limit_55_sign.svgWay, way back in the days before pizza apps and severely deformed Snapchat photos, a smart-mouthed, seemingly confident (yet secretly terrified) teenager started her in-car drivers ed. Despite the fact that she was assigned to drive with two stinky boys—ew—her nerves settled and she did quite well under the wheel . . . That is, until the day her instructor turned to Stinky 1 and Stinky 2 (both smirking in the back seat) and said, “She’s doing pretty good, ain’t she boys? She’s one of the better drivers I’ve had lately. There’s just one thing she’s doing wrong . . . Know what it is?”

In the rear-view, she watched both stinks shake their heads and grin (assholes). The instructor then posed the question to her. “Do you know what you’re doing wrong?”

Her defiant nature took over. “No, I really don’t. I keep checking my mirrors. There’s nothing behind me . . . I’ve not run out of my lane. I don’t know . . . so just tell me what it is.” She was obviously annoyed with his little game of guess what.

She could feel all six of their eyes—their male eyes—on the back and side of her head, but she didn’t dare take her eyes off the road. She wondered if they were playing some kind of sick mess-with-the-girl game. Were the stinks in on it? Did they know what was going on?

A sudden loud voice to her right made her jump. “You’re speeding!” her instructor barked out as he jerked up the emergency brake to slow her down.

“Crap,” she said under her breath as she lifted her foot from the gas pedal . . .

That, little speed demon . . . yeah, that was me—true story—and that whole scene replayed in my head this morning as I sat in courtroom number 3 waiting to learn the consequences of my 70 in a 55. It is entirely possible that I missed my calling. Someone should have strapped me in, put a helmet on my head, and pointed me toward the track a long time ago . . . Oh well, I guess it’s too late for that career change.

On the bright side, I still hold a valid NC driver’s license.

 

Sad, Sad America

sad-americaAs I sit here waiting, with the rest of the country, to see the outcome of this incredibly embarrassing election, I can’t help but recall something my niece said a couple of days ago. When she found out school would be out on Election Day, she said, “But what if we can’t come back to school on Wednesday because everything blows up?” Now, you might think she literally meant the school building is in danger of exploding, but no, that’s not what she meant. What she meant is that the whole country could go up in flames because of the election. Her overly dramatic teenage brain has obviously been affected by the endless frenzy surrounding the presidential race, and like so many others in this country, she was overreacting.

I saw it as my job to reassure her that everything would be alright. “Hon-ey,” I said, “everything is not going to blow up. Listen, regardless of the outcome, it won’t be the first time we’ve had a liar or an idiot in office, and it probably won’t be the last.” I assured her that the country would survive—no matter what.

And now, I watch the states turning red and blue on my TV screen, and I wonder if our founding fathers could have ever imagined that this country—the one that they risked everything to form—could sink to depths so low. I do believe my comforting—or not so comforting—words to my niece are true. We will survive, but I also can’t help but wonder if we the people are approaching a time in which we must react to our government as our founding fathers did not so long ago. Our Declaration of Independence states, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Have we given our consent for this circus to continue? Sadly, it seems that we have. We, the American people, apparently want a government which operates similar to a reality TV show.

How much longer will we allow this type of insanity? Well, considering we are about to elect one or the other of these freak-show stars, we are guaranteed at least four more years of entertainment. Perhaps we should consider another of the statements made by our own Declaration of Independence: “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.” How happy are we now, kiddos? Huh? ‘Cause I don’t feel too damn happy about it.

This Is Me…New & Improved

Signing 2Not too long ago, I decided to update my author bio. Being that it can be found in several locations—Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, etc.—I guess it’s a good idea to keep it up to date. Naturally, I had to go back and read what I had written before. How can I put this delicately? Hmm . . . it made me want to puke, just one of the many mistakes I made starting out. Brand new authors have this belief—misconception really—that their stuff needs to read like it came from a big publishing house. The longer I trudge along as an Indie author, the more I realize this isn’t necessarily the case. So, here they are, kiddies, today’s words of wisdom—be authentic, be real, be yourself! Following my own advice, I’ve rewritten my own bio (which makes it autobio, but who cares?). Here is the new, improved version:

Author bio is supposed to sound like it was written by some magical PR genius, right? It’s supposed to make the author sound intelligent, interesting, but most importantly, it’s supposed to sound like the author didn’t write it. Well, let’s be honest, I’m one of the hundreds, nay, thousands, of Indie authors operating as a one-woman show. I don’t mean to brag, but I literally do it all: I write, I create book covers, I format my own books . . . and, admittedly, I write my own bio. So, here it is (in first-person, in a relatively concise fashion): I have a day job at which I ingest ridiculous amounts of coffee and leave a lasting mark on the brains of teenagers (scary), and I don’t discuss my moonlighting—writing contemporary, Southern, erotic, romantic comedy. Sometimes I think I remember what my sweet husband looks like, but I’m not one hundred percent sure. I’m Indie by choice and likely to remain that way (mainly because I’m stubborn and curse like a sailor). And I often start sentences with coordinating conjunctions . . . on purpose. So, if you’re feelin’ froggy, have a go at one of my books, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

No Freaking Rest for the Wicked

no sleepOkay so I’ve been sick with this cold, upper-respiratory, and sinus crap for a month. To say I’ve not been sleeping well is an understatement. But, now that I have some antibiotics, I was really, really looking forward to a good night’s rest (and hopefully sleeping late). So much so, that the hubby and I went to bed around 9:00 (yep, 9:00, on a Friday night) to get that good night’s sleep. Ha ha, silly me, what was I thinking? Oh yeah, did I mention we decided to sleep with the windows open because of the unseasonably warm weather? Here’s how the night went:

10:15 pm: Our little canine diva rouses me from my peaceful, albeit short, rest because she needs to go outside, again. At least I think that’s what she was saying. The saucy little bitch never communicates clearly. Anywho, I get up (mainly because my adorable husband is sawing logs and hasn’t so much as bobbled in his rhythm of sucking all the air from the room and whistling as he blows it back out). So, I let the dog out. She goes tearing from the door and runs around the house like she’s after something. Who knows? The dog is nuts. After about 15 minutes, she cuts a meandering path back to the house, stopping to smell of two trees, a bush, and a rock because, you know, she has all the time in the freaking world.

11:00ish: I start hearing the most unnatural and disturbing sound. It honestly sounds like one of the neighborhood kids is getting murdered (which is not an altogether unpleasant thought—don’t judge me). I lie there listening for a few minutes trying to decide what I’m hearing—“okay, it’s not a kid. Is it a bird? God, I don’t know. Well, it sure ain’t a cow or horse doing that kind of screeching.” After much thought and getting up from the bed to listen at the window, I was sure I had it. “It’s a goat. It has to be. So now what? Is it a baby goat (is it a kid after all)? Is it a momma goat? Are coyotes attacking or something?”

11:30 pm: The hubby finally breaks his peaceful slumber to get up and pee. By then, the bleating had become less frequent. As he crawls back into bed, I ask him to listen, but we only hear the strange screaming sound two more times. Then it stops all together. “I wouldn’t worry about it,” he says. Easy for him to say.

12:30 am: I’m still lying there trying to figure out what could have been happening to that poor little goat to make it cry like that. I consider getting up and walking through the woods, down through the creek, and up to the place where I think the goat must have been. But that’s just stupid. I mean, I’d have to get up, find my good waterproof boots (you know, so I could walk through the creek), etc … You get the point right? My brain was in overdrive.

1:45 am: This is the last time I remember looking at the clock. At some point, thank God, I finally fell asleep.

7:00 am: “Bam, bam, bam. Get up everybody, get up! Na, na, na, get up, get up.” I’m startled awake to this catchy little tune. My husband says, “What the hell is that?” Once I realize what I’m hearing, I get up and go to the window opposite the goat fiasco. There, across the street, are two kids (human ones) running around the neighbor’s yard, singing their little get up song, and banging a stick against a trashcan lid. To beat all, those kids don’t even live there. That’s their grandpa’s house. I answer my husband’s question. “Well, babe, it seems Bob’s grandkids want the whole damn neighborhood to get up [name changed to protect Bob—even if his grandkids are little asshats].”

So now, I can’t go back to sleep. I’m up at 7:15 writing a blog post to keep from marching across the street and choking out two kids (human ones). I’ve learned three valuable lessons from last night and this morning’s festivities: 1) never sleep with the windows open when you want a good night’s sleep, 2) keep your waterproof boots beside the bed just in case, 3) it’s a good idea to invest in a tranquilizer dart gun—preferably one with a pretty long range.