Friday, December 26, 2014

Free Read: Misunderstood Hotness, Part 1

Title: Misunderstood Hotness
Genre: male/male romance
Summary: Mason Deguerra was hot. Smokin' hot. That actually made it very difficult for him to find a long term love who didn't just want to use him.

~~~

Mason DeGuerra was hot.

He was hot in the way that caused traffic to slow down and come to a stand still. His cheek bones were sharp enough to cut glass, his chin jutted strongly with only a hint of a cleft, and his eyes were smoky and mysterious. When he smiled, spectators longed for sunglasses. Mason's skin was an effortless bronze and his ash-brown hair tumbled over his forehead and into his glamorous eyes. Hours spent playing sports ensured toned muscles and perfect abs. Genetics graced him with near perfect proportions. He was tall but not looming, lithe but not reedy, and compact but not bulldoggish.

All put together, he was a damn near perfect package. Each facet melded together to bestow strength, speed, and agility. He excelled at any sport he tried and the sweet smell of success drew admirers just as readily as his looks. Sports stardom beckoned and he was on the path to heeding its siren call. Mason currently excelled as a shortstop on a baseball franchise farm team and only awaited the ripening moment when he would be called up.

Since he'd sprouted from adorable child into gangly teenager that had quickly filled out his frame with muscle, Mason was well aware of his effect on others. Charming people with his good looks took no effort. In fact, he often didn't have to do anything at all. They swooned on the way over to meet him. Getting people to look past his exterior to who he was underneath, now that was a lot more difficult.

"So, we could get out of here. If you wanted, that is." The girl who'd been chatting him up at the birthday party batted her eyes. She'd been talking at him for less than ten minutes. Pretty and young, with in-style clothes and a trendy haircut, the girl had latched onto him with the same dopey expression he usually saw plastered on the faces of people who craved his attention.

"Sorry." He smiled at her to soften the rejection and she scrunched into her shoulders, a sure sign that she wouldn't believe he'd say no, even as he said it. "I have to stay until the end. I promised Dylan I'd help clean up."

"Oh, that's so nice of you." She pursed her mouth. "I guess I'll see you at the end. I can stay and help clean up too. Then maybe we can go somewhere."

"Sure, maybe." Mason waved at a bunch of people across the room, pretending that he'd seen a friend. "I just saw someone I have to talk to. Catch you later."

"Tina," she called after him. "I'm Tina. See you later!"

Mason didn't reply. He strode across the room, intent on hiding out in the kitchen. Appreciative glances followed him. Some days he was flattered. Actually, most days he liked it. Being the center of attention and getting things easily was really nice.

Lately, though, he was fed up. He'd just broken up with the latest in a long line of boyfriends who had only wanted the esteem of dating eye-candy. It had been yet another heartbreak in a succession of heartbreaks and Mason was tired of it all.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

too soon to tell, maybe a novelette? a novel?

I've got a solid 12k words written -- about 2k of them done today -- in a story I've been working on for a while. It's been slow. I wrote the first part as a short story awhile ago and knew it needed more, and finally this week I've gotten back to it. I am notoriously back at guessing how long it will really end up being, but this one should end up somewhere over 25k, just thinking about how I want the plot to progress. This is exciting! I've done short stories in the under 12k range up until now, so to have a novelette (novel??) sized story in the works is a Big Deal for me.

This next week at work is going to be bonkers, though, so I just hope the same energy stays with me for the next 9 days, and then I will be able to return to the story again.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

busy morning, lazy afternoon

This morning I was on top of things! I cleaned the kitchen, roasted vegetables, did laundry, got things organized, knocked down a bunch of computer things that needed to get done. I exercised. Then, something happened. I stopped for a moment to rest and *kaboom*, my energy fled. Now I'm on the couch, just sort of resting and daydreaming and letting the hours ooze by.

I will have to get up in a little bit and get stuff done, I have to be somewhere at some point to fulfill commitments.

But is it wrong to be a little lazy? It's the first time in a long time that I haven't had to get things done, be somewhere, take advantage of some opportunity. I'm really enjoying this down time. I'll regret it later, perhaps, but right now, I like having no where to be and nothing that must be done.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

icy roads and holiday parties

We had our holiday party at work today and it was very nice and extremely filling. No more of that sort of eating for a little bit!

The roads on the way home were quite icy. Thankfully everyone was going very slowly so we all stayed where we were supposed to be. I suspect there will be a lot of scraping of windows in the morning.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

11 hours of not writing

I had last evening all planned out for writing -- easy dinner, nothing else that had to be done, and I came home wiped out and feeling cold. So, after dinner, I attempted a short nap, and found that there was no way I could even think about getting up. I felt clammy and low. So I stayed in bed and got up a little early this morning. I think I have it beat, though, as I do feel better. I have about a 1/2 hour to write this morning. Ah, frailty.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Contract! Cotton Candy Deceit

Rooster and Pig Publishing are going to publish my short story "Cotton Candy Deceit" in their upcoming A Circus Act anthology!

I am *really* excited about this. I tend to write very well based on prompts and ideas and when I read their call for something incorporating romance at a circus, well, I had a wonderful idea.  A creepy idea.  An idea suffused with a bit of horror.

It is a short story, for sure, but I think it's structured very well, and an excellent example of my style of writing -- something a little off-center, but beautiful nonetheless. I am excited to be able to share it with everyone...after the editing process, of course. Soon...it won't be too long, I'm sure!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

such a nice snowshoe walk

I had a lovely snowshoe hike today through the woods.  A lot of it was on trail, but some of it was off-trail.  The snow was a bit sunken and crusty, but it still clung to the branches of the trees.  There's something striking about the dark tree trunks against the brilliant white of snow, and then all those scratchy branches....  But there were also evergreen trees, with their still fresh needles, even in the deep of winter.  It's easy to see how they would become a symbol of so many enduring things. So, yes, a lovely walk.  Contemplative and full of fresh air.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Free Fiction: Cheer It To The Heavens

Title: Cheer It To The Heavens
Length: ~725 words
Genre: m/m romance

Notes:  I was thinking about these moments of silence.  They're beautiful because it gives you time to reflect, or pray, mourn, or send love out into the universe, but sometimes I think that the person we've lost was just too vibrant to need a quiet moment.  I feel like perhaps if we shouted loud enough, we might send them one last hurrah across the great divide, and they would know we miss them.  This story is all about that idea.

~~~

"Gather round, gather round," commanded Dave, the captain of the Titans and overall head organizer of their community flag football league.  He made compression motions with his arms and the gaggle of players crowded tightly together.

Matt looked around at the assembly, noting good friends and formidable challengers.  He caught Tommy's eye and they smiled at each other. Nothing had happened yet, but it was only a matter of time.  Matt liked the way Tommy played hard and laughed easily.  He ran fast and never let up, but was still the first one to offer a hand to a player on the ground.  He was solid, capable, and had eyes so green that there had to be an emerald somewhere bemoaning its stolen color.

"Just a few words today before we start playing," said Dave, and Matt's attention snapped back.  "I think most of you knew Ardie Herman.  He played here with us for the last five years.  A great team player and a heck of a quarterback.  He battled with cancer for the past two years and yesterday he passed away."  Dave's voice wobbled a little, but he took a deep breath and recovered.  "I talked to his family and they said he was comfortable and surrounded by everyone he loved, and who loved him.  They're working out when the services will be. I know a moment of silence is traditional to mark the passing of a cherished person, but I'd like to change that for today."

Matt swiveled his gaze around again.  The group was silent and still.  Some looked pained.  A few were staring away into the distance, their arms crossed stiffly against their chests. In the sunshine, the loss of a good friend seemed remote and impossible.  The field was picturesquely green and the air warm, even though it was late fall, and Matt felt like Ardie might arrive any moment, a little bit late.  A pang of sadness hit him as it sunk in that he wouldn't get to talk to Ardie again.  Matt scuffed a foot on the grass.    

Dave continued, "But Ardie was never quiet.  He cheered us on when he was on the field and when he couldn't play anymore.  His voice was the loudest every weekend.  I'd like to honor that by sending up a cheer.  It's unusual, but Ardie was unusual and he deserves to hear it. I know he's in heaven and if we make a loud enough noise, then all the angels up there will know who they've got, if they don't know it already."

A murmur of laughter went through the crowd.

"So, I'm going to count down from three, and then let's send up a cheer for Ardie.  He deserves it."  Dave scanned around him and must have liked what he saw because he clapped his hands.  "Three, two, one!"  Dave lifted his face to the sky and a deep yell came out.

The players yelled with him.  A few people shrilled whistles, giving a top note pitch over the rumble and fury of more than thirty people emptying their lungs of grief.

Matt whooped and hollered. He brought his whole body into the effort and tightened his arms as he joined in the crowd.  His hands ached with the force of clenching them into fists.  The cacophony lasted for a long time.  One shout spent, Matt gulped in another breathe and let loose again.  Others next to him did the same.  There were whistles, clapping, stomping of feet, and the lifting of voices to create a tumult of acknowledgement.

Slowly, the cheering died away, and only a few clapping hands were left, and then that finally ceased as well.

"Thank you," Dave said, and now his voice cracked roughly, sounding used and worn out. "I know he heard us. And if he were here now, I know he'd tell me to get on with it." He looked around at the teams.  "Time to play a little football."

A few players gave hoarse cries of excitement and everyone moved to their positions.

Tommy jogged past Matt and on a whim, Matt put out a hand.  Tommy stopped, one eyebrow raised. "Hey, want to come over for pizza tonight?  Watch the game?"

"Sure.  I'd like that."  Tommy grinned and started jogging again.

Matt felt like he could hear Ardie cheering him on.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Guest Post: Strong Female Characters

I've got a guest post at Brynn Stein's blog today.  It's about my story "How Sweetly the Whippoorwill Sings" and about some thought I've had about writing female characters.

Please come visit and read!
https://brynnstein2.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/monday-meets-tray-ellis/

Saturday, December 6, 2014

shaking off some low energy

I had a low grade sort of malady for a couple days that really sucked the energy out of me, and in addition a really tough week with a lot of deadlines, so I sort of vegged out last night.  When I woke up this morning, it seemed to be lingering, but I had so much to do that there wasn't any choice but to plunge straight ahead! It was a good thing to start because I ended up getting a lot of organization done, even if it did take me longer than I had wanted.

My To Do List is still very long, gotta get back to it!

Friday, December 5, 2014

burning the midnight oil

I didn't mean to stay up so late, but I have.

I had a busy day!  First I got edits done and turned in on Never Waste a Good Left Turn (coming in February I believe, from Dreamspinner) and now I need to think hard about the blurb for it.

And I spent an entire evening hoping around the internet reading all sorts of interesting tidbits here and there.  I've tucked them away into my brain to pour forth into the appropriate story.

I don't have a plot or characters or anything, but I fell in love with the possible title of "The Donkey's Lullaby".  I haven't a clue what the story would be about, but isn't it an intriguing title?  (It may be a song title, searching for it sort of turned up something, but I wasn't sure it was a real site and not a spammer's paradise.  But still, I like it.)

Free Read: Daydream

Title: Daydream
Length: ~690 words
Genre: m/m romance
Summary: Raul daydreams about a desired lover.

Notes: Oh, this was just for fun.  I took 20 minutes to sit down and write it as a timed exercise and then gave it a quick polish before posting.  I got to play around with internal musings, which was good, as sometimes I gloss over some of that to concentrate on dialogue. 

~~~

Raul stared up at the sky.  He was between classes and while he should have been studying, such a lassitude had overtaken him that his books remained unopened and unread as he sprawled in the grass.  He wished for a blanket as the grass scratched his forearms and the naked skin between his waistband and untucked shirt.  Retrieving one meant getting up and he had no energy for it, so he lounged on the lawn. 

He plucked at the grass and held a piece tight between his two thumbs.  He blew against the edge of the blade and a shrill whistle emanated.

Two nearby girls giggled, books balanced on their knees as they sat cross-legged, and gave him flirty winks.  They waved with just the tips of their fingers and pushed their hair behind their ears in the most winsome of manners.  He smiled at them and then stretched back on the ground.  He wasn’t interested in co-eds.

Who was he interested in?  Frederick from Chemistry lab? Dante in Statistics? Aaron, who sat just in front of him during Ethics lecture? Each held their own allure.  Frederick was muscled, chiseled nearly perfect, and on the rugby team.  Dante's dark eyes seemed to pierce the soul and he could run numbers in his head faster than Raul could punch them into a calculator. Aaron was light-haired and freckled, and so friendly that he seemed like sunshine itself.

Yet, Raul wasn’t drawn to any of them.  He wanted something more.  He wanted mystery and romance, perhaps a dash of brawn balanced with quick wit, but overall he wanted to do something adventurous.  He wanted someone who rode a motorcycle, dressed out in the blackest of leather.  His helmet would have a shaded visor and only Raul would be allowed to see his hungry eyes.  They could ride together, tour the countryside, visit landmarks and waterfalls.  They could camp overnight on the road and hike mountain trails together.  Each night his lover would rub calloused hands all over Raul and they would fall apart with ecstasy.  Then, in the morning, they would ride together again, finding bistros with bitter coffee and homemade cinnamon rolls.

But how could he meet such a man?  Raul pillowed his head with his clasped hands and continued to contemplate the sky.  It was robin egg blue today with only the barest wisp of some clouds down near the horizon.  He felt like he could see for a thousand miles into its immensity.  The sun was warm on his skin and the grass smelled fresh.  He felt like he could imagine anything, but in that moment, his creativity left him.

Raul went to class and then to his dormitory.  He studied in the library and he ate in the dining hall.  All his movements were on campus.  It was hardly a schedule that allowed for falling shamelessly into a tryst with anyone.  Still, his mystery lover would have to be found here.  Maybe he could be a rogue librarian. No, better yet, an assistant visiting professor.  He would teach languages.  Raul would sign up for a language class on a whim.  Latin, or ancient Greek.  This professor would be deeply invested in an artifact held only by the university.  He would be intent on cracking its secrets and Raul would be the only one able to distract him.  There would be such interesting ways that Raul could devise to call his lover’s attention back to the world of the living, away from the dusty past….

The girls giggled again and Raul emerged from his daydream.  It dissipated like quicksilver, feathering away like the wispy cloud in the distance. He glanced at his phone for the time and saw he would be late to class if he didn’t hurry.  It was Ethics, and he supposed that baring the appearance of a handsome visiting language professor, that perhaps focusing closer to home would be a better choice. Some time spent in Aaron’s sunny company would not go amiss.  Perhaps he could invite Aaron to his room for a study session and, if he were very lucky, there might be more than just flirting to enjoy.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

no earthly way of knowing...

Upon my return from the great salted roads of Thanksgiving travel, and given the above freezing temperatures, I took myself to a car wash. (Preventative washing perhaps will keep this car from rusting out like my previous one. *fingers crossed*)

It was a new one I hadn't ever been to before.  It was strange.  It was incredible!  It was just like getting on the boat in Willie Wonka and going down the tunnel into the factory.  Things whirred and whizzed past me, there were vibrant pastel colors sprayed on the windows, the scent of something sweet permeated the air.  It was quite the experience!

It was slightly pricier than another one I favor, but the adventure was well worth it.  I started thinking of who else I could bring with me to see all the whizz-bang-woosh stuff!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

storm on the way

There's another storm brewing and coming across the coast.  Stay safe everyone and travel with caution to and from your families.  It is wonderful to celebrate with each other, but keep safe so there can be more celebrations again.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Free Fiction Friday: Say It With Strawberries

I had a little fun with this story.  It's more like an exercise in writing than it is a complete package short story.  Instead of being strictly romance with happily ever after, the main character doesn't get the guy, but he bounces back better than before.

Title: Say It With Strawberries
Genre: male/male romance
Length: ~1000 words

~~~



Strawberries meant romance, so Jeremy bought strawberries.  

He bought them once a week and that was the only thing he purchased during that trip.  It was supposed to make a statement.  Nigel worked as a check-out cashier three times during the week and Jeremy made sure he shopped every time Nigel was there. The other two times Jeremy found different things that suggested love.  

Jeremy wasn’t old enough yet to legally purchase champagne, being eight months shy of twenty-one, but the grocery store stocked just about anything else that brought romance to mind. In the past two months, Jeremy found bags of enormous crisp apples, deeply blushing pomegranates,  red globe grapes, expensive chocolate with chilies and cinnamon, tins of smoked oysters, and even a small jar of caviar. He’d indulged in crusty French bread and cupcakes with pink icing, cheeses with names he couldn’t pronounce, and once, very boldly, he’d even bought a can of whipped cream at the same time as the strawberries.  

Sometimes it took a while to work up his courage, and to wait for the perfect moment when there was no line at the register, to bring the selected item over, but each time he did, his palms sweated and his breath grew short. Blood rushed through his ears so loudly that sometimes he could barely hear Nigel’s words. He hated it because it meant he missed hearing the slightest trace of an accent contained within Nigel's voice. Nigel’s voice was deep, the sort of deep that brought to mind movie trailers and jewelry commercials, and tinged with a curl around his vowels that gave Jeremy goose bumps on the back of his neck. Jeremy wasn’t particularly good at accents, so he had no idea what it could be, but he loved the way Nigel spoke.  Even if it was only to ask if he wanted a plastic bag.  

Jeremy had harbored crushes before and made good on some of them, turning infatuations into passionate experiences.  But there was something different about Nigel.  He was slightly older and even though he laughed pleasantly, making small talk with customers, his eyes were dark and serious.  They didn’t just brood, they smoldered.  Jeremy could get lost in the fathoms of  those eyes.   
Nearing the start of his third month, Jeremy longed for something more forward than just purchasing love-struck foods and waiting for Nigel to chat with him during the transaction.  If he didn't do something, he could spend a year or more buying strawberries with nothing to show for it.

Lurking in the pasta aisle, Jeremy waited until Nigel’s line was completely empty, then he sidled through the lane. “Hi,” he said, sounding breathless to his own ears.  

“Hey.”  Nigel looked down at the item.  “Strawberries again?  Are you on some kind of special diet?  Is this for smoothies?” 

Jeremy’s heart sank a little because he’d thought it had been obvious what he was doing, but he pressed on.  “Not really, it’s sort of been like a romantic gesture.”  He paused to gather his courage.  

Nigel spoke before Jeremy decided what he wanted to say.  “Oh, that’s cool,” Nigel said.  He picked up the carton and brought it across the scanner.  A little beep sounded. “My boyfriend does that for me, sometimes.  Brings me little things he knows I like.” 

Jeremy’s heart plummeted.  Nigel already had a boyfriend. The next few moments were a blur.  He said something to Nigel about how that was nice, but he couldn’t remember exactly what words he used. He must have paid for the strawberries because he walked outside with them in one hand and his wallet in the other.  

He stood on the sidewalk and stared into the parking lot.  Cars moved around in a slow dance.  His own car was in the lot, but he didn’t feel like getting in it and driving anywhere.  It seemed like too much effort and he didn’t know where he’d go.  
Jeremy turned slightly and he could see Nigel through the window glass.  He was ringing up the purchases of a woman with long brown hair. Jeremy stayed on the sidewalk for several long minutes.  One of the lot workers came by, pushing a long line of shopping carts. 

“You okay, there? You need help?” the guy asked.  His name tag read “Leo”.  He was older with a salt and pepper mustache, but his eyes were friendly. 

Jeremy shook his head.  His throat was too tight to trust he would find his voice.   

Leo pushed the carts all the way into the store. He came back out again a minute later.  He looked at Jeremy.  “Mister, you sure you don’t need some kind of help?  You look confused.” 

Jeremy held out the container of strawberries.  “I bought these, but I don’t want them anymore.” 

Leo shifted his weight.  He looked past Jeremy and then refocused his gaze.  People whizzed past them, intent on getting inside to shop or outside to pack up and go home with their purchases.  Leo tugged on Jeremy’s elbow.  “Over here, buddy.” 

Jeremy went with him.  Near the wall, it was quiet and felt more private.  

“Look, I’ve seen you here before.”  Leo fidgeted and scrunched his face. He seemed incredibly uncomfortable.  “It’s Nigel, isn’t it?” 
Jeremy stared at the ground.  

“He’s a handsome kid, that’s for sure,” Leo said. “And nice.  Hard worker. But he doesn’t have a lot going on in the office, if you get my meaning.” 

Jeremy’s attention shifted from the dried up green piece of gum stuck to the ground to Leo’s face. “What?” he asked.  Nigel’s smoldering, serious eyes couldn’t be just…vacant, could they? 

“You think about it.  You’ll be okay.  I bet you can find someone better suited for you.” Leo patted Jeremy on the shoulder. Then he brushed past him and returned to collecting carts.  

Jeremy stayed against the wall.  He looked down at the strawberries.  He did like strawberries.  He’d also liked the smoked oysters, unpronounceable cheeses, and caviar.  Actually, coming here to see Nigel had been difficult on his wallet.  Organic, fair-trade chocolate with cinnamon and chilies did not come cheap. At least he’d gotten to eat the food. He’d really enjoyed it.  But he’d just nibbled on the items individually, without really doing anything with them. 

Maybe what he needed was to take a cooking class.  

Then, next time, when he tried to date someone, he could cook them a romantic dinner instead of just buying ingredients.  Jeremy dug his car keys out of his pocket and headed for his car. 

Leo gave a wave as he passed by.  Jeremy returned the wave, but otherwise, didn't look back.

Monday, November 17, 2014

my own worst enemy

I'm doubly glad I didn't sign up for NaNo, but only in terms of writing commitment.  Of course I'm super jealous of everyone headed into the final stretch, with half-completed novels!

I started to feel like I just got done with some of my commitments, and then I went and made some more! They are good ones -- restaurant tour with some friends, a mini-Thanksgiving with other friends, a 3-day work seminar I signed up for early December, etc.  but they do command my time.

I wonder if I could just take December (after the seminar) and just really Stay Home And Write.

It's tough not to want to get out and live life.

Gotta go...adult athletic league tonight.  ;-)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

spork me, I'm done

Just finished the first round of edits for Never Waste a Good Left Turn.  There were so many things I needed to tweak that I will have to let this sit and come back to it to check my edits.  I feel like I've fallen into a rabbit hole.  Track changes is so full on the side that there's no room!!

I will say, they are good, solid edits, though.  The final product on this story is going to *rock*.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

twitter plunge

I resisted for a while because I really do have very limited time to post on all the various media platforms.  I like twitter, and I like what it does and how it works.  It was more just that I took to heart the advice that you should do what is within your means to do and that it is better to focus on that than to spread yourself too thin. But, I've been doing okay on blogging, so I am taking the plunge (versus dipping a toe) for twitter.  If it fails, I'll back away, but I suppose a few random thoughts on writing as they occur to me probably won't go amiss.  Come find me at @TrayEllisWrites

Friday, November 14, 2014

the hoary frost limned the forests

It was a beautiful drive this morning.  The snow fell all across the trees and covered the greyness of their bark.  It was kind of like traveling through the world of The Snow Queen.  Everything was fresh and new, sparkling in the scant sun.

Free Fiction: The Nightingale's Confection, by Tray Ellis

 This short story is set just before the events in How Sweetly the Whippoorwill Sings (available at www.dreamspinnerpress.com).  Molly is shopping for her wedding cake and her brother is along to keep her company and offer his opinions. Told from the perspective of the shop owner (and wedding cake baker and artist!), the reader gets a glimpse of events before the Big Day.  Wistful and waiting, Jake doesn't know that romance is right around the corner.

Title: The Nightingale's Confection
Author: Tray Ellis
Length: ~1100 words
Genre: male/male romance
Parent Story: How Sweetly the Whippoorwill Sings


*****



The old-fashioned bells jingled as the door to her cake shop opened and Lissa glanced at the clock.  Five minutes until two in the afternoon and her wedding cake sampling appointment was early. 

"I'll be out in a moment!" she called into the main area and received a friendly confirmation from two voices, a woman and a man.

She took the time to clear the catalogs and order forms she had been working on.  This would give her customers a few moments by themselves to peruse the shop and get comfortable before she approached them.  Her store, The Nightingale's Confection, was mainly a bakery for special occasion cakes, but it also had a small café space for customers to indulge in coffee, tea, and pastries. In the busy mornings she had assisting staff, but the afternoons quieted down and she often cared for the store by herself.

Lissa checked herself in the mirror to ensure she didn't have smudges of flour anywhere and was pleased to see she looked properly professional.  With her dark hair and skin, rogue sprinkles of flour and powdered sugar were obvious.  Some days she went home dusted thoroughly and other days she remained pristine.  Luckily, today was one of those nothing-can-go-wrong days.  Even this morning, her newest brainstorm of butterscotch and bittersweet cocoa cupcakes had briskly sold out.

With one last pat to smooth down her apron, Lissa left her office and entered the display and café area.  "Good afternoon!" She shook hands with both her potential customers.  "I'm Lissa Robinson.  Welcome to my shop.  You're here to try some cake flavors?"

"Molly Mountbatten, and this is my brother Jake."  The petite woman looked competent and extraordinarily poised, and her brother was ruggedly handsome. 

He gave Lissa a smile that could have stopped traffic. "It's very nice to meet you."

"It's good to meet you both." Lissa led them over to one of the tables.  "I have the samples prepared for you.  Give me a moment to retrieve them. And you'd mentioned that you had some possible special requests?"

"Yes."  Molly pulled a folder out of her large handbag and offered it to Lissa.  "The theme for my wedding is going to be whippoorwills, and the colors are going to be pink and white.  I have photos of my dress and some drawings in here. Also color swatches.  Would it be possible for you to come up with a sketch of the cake design so I can make sure it will fit with the overall theme?"

Impressed with the preparation, Lissa took the folder and flipped through it.  The photos were well taken, with both overall shots and in-focus close-ups of the embroidered details.  The sketches were rough, but gave an excellent impression of the aspired to style.  Lissa said a silent prayer of thanks for the color swatches because it meant she could match them perfectly.  Too many brides showed up with haphazard, incomplete ideas and while Lissa enjoyed the challenge of making sure they came away with something spectacular, it certainly involved more work when she started from almost nothing.  Molly already had a firm grip on what she wanted for her final product.

"Absolutely I can work with this.  Let me look it over more closely while you try the samples."  She brought back the prepared tray as well as two glasses of water and an informational sheet that listed prices.  Weddings were almost always conducted on strict budgets and Lissa found it best to be upfront about the costs.  "Here you are.  These are the flavors I have available every day and I can mix-and-match them with the frostings.  I can make other types, but those are by request only and require an additional small fee.  Today's tasting is complimentary."

Lissa pointed out the three different kinds.  "Amaretto-vanilla cake with vanilla butter cream.  Chocolate fudge cake with chocolate ganache.  Lemon cake with lemon curd and fondant.  The fondant is popular because it allows more creativity with the design, but some find it doesn't quite taste as expected."

She left Molly and Jake alone so they could nibble at their own pace and she went behind the counter to peruse the folder more closely.  Grabbing a sketch pad from the drawer below the register, Lissa began to roughly outline her concept of incorporating whippoorwills.  Eavesdropping wasn't exactly her intention, but she did keep a small amount of attention on her customers in case they had a question or comment for her.

"Mmm, this one's delicious," Jake said.  "And this one, too.  I don't see how you're going to pick."

"It is a tough one."  The click of a fork on the plate was distinctive.  "But I knew this was going to be the right store just from the name."

"The Nightingale's Confection?" The penny must have dropped a moment later because when he spoke again it was without the questioning tone.  "Oh, I see.  Whippoorwill. Nightingale.  You do love birds."

Lissa darkened a line on her sketch.  She had little doubt now that Molly would choose her shop.  She didn't know much about whippoorwills, but she already liked their form.  Like the nightingale, they seemed lighthearted and meaningful.

"Of course.  Sometimes you just know what you know," Molly said. 

"Like you know that Irving is the one for you."

"Sometimes you just know what you know," Molly repeated.  "When it happens to you, you'll know too."

"I hope so.  Haven't met that special guy yet." Jake sounded wistful, with a hint of long-suffering dejection.

There came the distinctive soft crumple of a napkin being used.  "Any of these flavors would be perfect, but I think I like the lemon and the fondant."

"Fondant so you can make sure you get your whippoorwills," Jake teased again.

"Don't joke." Molly's tone was light, but held an edge of warning.  "They bring luck.  They might be bringing you luck right now that you don't know about yet."

"How can you be so logical and a lawyer and still believe in magical birds?"

"Life is full of contradictions. Sometimes you just need to enjoy the ride," Molly said.

"Getting engaged has made you wise."

"I'm your older sister.  I've always been this way.  You're just finally starting to realize it."

Jake laughed, and Lissa felt like that was her cue to interrupt. 

She brought the folder back along with her impromptu sketch.  "How is everything?  Any questions?" 

Molly picked up the sketch. A smile spread across her face as she studied it.  "These are beautiful.  You have a gift."

"Thank you," Lissa said. 

Molly sat up straighter in her chair and her gaze became sharp. "Let's start with what information you need from me so I can order a cake. I'm getting married this winter and this needs to be perfect."

Lissa nodded and bent forward, eager and excited about the prospect of creating a whippoorwill themed cake.  It would be a triumph of her skill and creativity.  Plus, every cake she put out there was an advertisement for her shop.  "Excellent," she said.  "I'll make it perfect."

    




Thursday, November 13, 2014

roses, a memory from fall

I took this photo way back in September, but the roses are still beautiful.  Especially now, as I sit in the dark evenings, wishing for the long daylight hours of summer, the memories of coming across some random rose bushes on a bike ride are a pleasant diversion.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

a car full of herbs

I suppose a car full of herbs might be a phrase that gives momentary pause, but I'm really talking about fresh herbs.  The garden finally fell yesterday.  I drove away with some amazing Swiss chard, a tuft of flat-leaf parsley, a flowering sprig of basil, some dark purple sage and some verdant green sage, a fragrant plant top of rosemary, and a hearty bunch of spearmint.  Also, I had a tub full of tomatillos, which I roasted until they popped. My car smelled wonderful and exotic and fresh for the drive home.

Then, I turned it all into soup.  Yum.

Monday, November 10, 2014

the very last of the garden

I'm on bouncing wi-fi access while off visiting family, so I haven't been able to really do much on the internet for a few days.  It is a bit frustrating but also kind of nice in a way -- my time is spent visiting, not checking e-mails. (Even though I still keep checking to see if there is any news about that submitted story I'm waiting to hear about.  So far, no news.)

In other news, even though there hasn't been a hard frost yet, there are still small pleasures left in the garden.  Yesterday I plucked a handful of leftover ripe raspberries and harvested the tomatillos (long growing season, they're always ready right at the very, very end), and the swiss chard is still doing well in the chilled ground and air.  Once a real frost hits, it'll kill everything for sure, but it is wonderful to have a few hardy things still living out there.

I even have a vase with three roses in it.  Without the frost, the roses are still trying.  They'll get mulched soon enough.

Friday, November 7, 2014

waiting all week for Friday and how did Friday sneak up on me??

Many, many apologies for not having a free read for this Friday.  I won't always be able to, though I do have something just about ready to go...oh, no, the issue was that even though I spent all week waiting and waiting and waiting for Friday to show it's head, when it finally did creep in, I was rushing about getting other things done!

I suppose I could do a Friday Round-up, wherein I state the status of writing.

--I flirted with the idea of NaNo, and thought I might try for something in the 30k range, and then I was three days into November, and had been out of the house taking care of other issues and didn't even have my computer with me.  NaNo Dreams died a quick death.

--I started the editing process for my story Never Waste a Good Left Turn, which will be in the Random Acts of Kindness Anthology (coming out middle-ish of February!), which involved creating blurbs, breaking down character summaries, figuring out what existential crises my story deals with, and all other deep-thinky sorts of stuff.

--I am waiting with some anxiety about another story I submitted a month ago.  This Limbo of waiting is tough on the constitution.  And I start to wonder what I will do with a 5k story that is pretty much all polished and shiny if the publisher doesn't want it. Even if there is rejection, there are always possibilities.

--I am searching my calendar for time where I'll have the energy to write.  I know a lot of people say 'make time', don't just write when there's extra, or you'll never write.  But, there are a lot of obligations in my life just at the moment.  Things I've put off as long as I could, and things that need to get done.  Once I'm over this particular cluster of activity, I really do intend to start making more time for myself.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

this tore at my heart

For those out there who, perhaps, also listen to a lot of NPR....

I've always enjoyed On Point with Tom Ashbrook, and been amazed at how versatile he is at every subject, and how tactful he is with his guests and callers.

Today, we listeners learned of a sad trajectory in his life:
http://onpoint.wbur.org/2014/11/05/an-important-message-from-tom-ashbrook

I would hesitate to share it, it is so personal and delicate, except, it really is the sound of love.  You can hear it in his voice, and even in sadness, I think hearing that type of beauty is something we can all stand a little more of.

May there be courage and joy and peace, and whatever else is needed in the moment.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween was amazing!

I had a great Halloween.  Counting very roughly, I believe I had 170 kids come to the door.  Ninja turtle costumes seemed to be the most popular for the boys, and there was definitely a contingent of Frozen princesses, but I was impressed by some of the ingenuity of the outfits, and the variation.  One group of slightly older boys had on their grandfathers' outfits from when he was a performer.  These outfits were exquisite, with embroidery and sewn-on details.  Grandfather isn't performing anymore, so the kids were giving the outfits a hoorah outside of storage.  All in all, a very enjoyable evening!

Friday, October 31, 2014

untitled snippet

I only wrote about 300 words of this little snippet.  I had it all planned out in my head, but this is all there is.  Still, as a short little thing, it works very well.

*****

    "We should get married."  James rubbed the tips of his fingers against the back of Errol's neck where the skin was smooth and warm.  They were curled around each other, still in bed, with the comforter rumpled against them.  Sunlight streamed in through the make-shift curtains that weren't quite the correct size or shape, but right that moment, James loved the way one of the errant streams of sunlight slowly inched it's way across Errol's thigh.

    "Mmm," Errol murmured, shifting slightly.  His eyes were closed and his breathing regular, but he hadn't been actually sleeping.  "Okay."

    The answer took a moment to sink in.  "Okay?" James repeated.  He'd been asking Errol for the past three years to marry him.  He'd fallen in love with Errol almost immediately and, by their first month anniversary, James knew he'd never want to spend his life with anyone else.  It was Errol who held back, concerned about so many different things.  It hadn't stopped James from asking, or suggesting, or bringing it up as a topic in the most gentle of manners.  He'd wanted it to be clear that whenever Errol felt ready, that James was more than willing to make the commitment.  "Did you just say okay?" Clarification was of the utmost importance. 

    Errol opened his eyes a very small fraction of an inch.  "I did.  I do.  Let's get married."

    James stared, letting time slide by for a long, thoughtful moment before finally working the words out of his mouth. "Why? Why now, finally?"

    Errol yawned and stretched sleepily.  His mouth was very close to James' knee and it was a scant distance to stretch before he was peppering James' shin with a cascade of feathered, fluttering kisses.  When he stopped, it was only to blow one last kiss at James.  "Because I love you, you big dope.  And today is perfect."

    "I love you too," James responded.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

steep learning curves and The Littlest Razzle-Dazzle

I needed a break from writing today, so I went and fussed with wattpad.  I'm using my free story The Littlest Razzle-Dazzle to learn how to upload to that site. 

I will need to think about formatting and also covers.  I had a nice cover--a photo I took myself of some lovely leashes in a pet shop, some of them saying 'Who Rescued Who?' (yes, I know, whom, but....), but I could not figure out how to mesh the photo and get the text.  Something to fuss again with some other day.  I've run out of time and need to focus on something else.

Here's the link: http://www.wattpad.com/78224739-the-littlest-razzle-dazzle-by-tray-ellis

writing space and time

Today is the last day for quite a while that I'll have several hours of time and space to focus on writing and the business of writing.  There's always so much more to do than I have time for.  Being a part-time author is all about choosing what will be the most important activity to concentrate on.

No edits yet received for "Never Waste a Good Left Turn", so I'm free in the writing arena to focus on what I need to.

I have a short gift story that I need to write, already started.  And I have ideas for short and long stories.  The latest shift in reading habits to a definite preference for long stories (who can blame them? find a world you like, and stay in it as long as possible!) doesn't work to my strengths -- since I do better crafting shorter stories. I can see I will be working on those long-story chops!

So, I've gotten through the back up of e-mails waiting (120+ dealt with) and after I've checked in with you all, dear friends and readers, I will finally have reached the point where I can procrastinate no longer.  Writing will happen!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

someone needs to answer for this 5:15am baloney

Apparently this week my body has decided that 5:15 is the cat's meow.  It doesn't matter what time I go to sleep or how tired I feel, at 5:15, that's it.  I'm awake, and it is time to do stuff.

I generally have nothing to complain about.  If I'm comfy, I can fall asleep pretty easily and I know so many people struggle with insomnia. (I don't stay awake at night to deal with my anxieties, I fall comfortably asleep at night and just grind away my teeth quietly.)

So, the coffee is made, a few odds and ends are tidied up, and I suppose I will look upon this as a gift, and try to get some writing done with the unexpected gift of time.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Free Fiction: The Littlest Razzle-Dazzle

It has been a very busy and topsy-turvey week here in the Ellis Household, but I had worked on this free read a while ago, and thought that even though I need to plunge back into the current tumult, I would post this up.  It is set just before Halloween, so it is a timely little tale.

Title:  The Littlest Razzle-Dazzle

Blurb: Roscoe's heart is broken, but that only means he is ready to meet his new best friend.

Genre: M/M romance, general fiction

Length: ~1600 words

*****

Roscoe Robinson was a big man with sure hands. In high school, he'd played center on the football team.  He'd snapped the football between his legs to the receiving arms of his quarterback and then, like a brick wall, he'd blocked opponents from gaining territory into the area of protection.  During his career, he'd protected his quarterback with determined ferocity, foresight based on reading the defensive positioning, and gut instincts. He'd been so sure of it all.

Now he wasn't sure of anything, and all he had left was the determined ferocity.

Being three months into recovery from the worst heartbreak he'd ever experienced, he woke every day to the repeated mantra that it would get better.  Someday his heart would heal. He told himself this every day, sometimes every hour, even though it felt like a lie.  Then, he got himself up and kept himself going.

After four years of what he'd thought of as domestic bliss, Roscoe had come home to find his boyfriend waiting in the kitchen.  Shawn had a small satchel next to his feet, which was all that remained of the things he'd brought with him into the relationship.  Behind him, the counter was already bare of various appliances.  A hurried, bewildered scan of the living room showed Shawn's coffee table to be missing, as well as his DVD collection, and his favorite recliner. He'd even spirited away Flash, the little brown and white gerbil they'd raised together. With lowered eyes, Shawn admitted he wasn't happy, he had bigger dreams he wanted to follow, and that he was embarking on that newest adventure now.  Roscoe wasn't a part of that future.

It had been a devastating surprise.  Roscoe's vaunted foresight had failed, his knowledge of Shawn had obviously been deficient, and his gut instincts were stunned and useless. 

The next day and for many days afterward, Roscoe dragged himself to work. He treated his patients professionally and their bodies healed under his practiced touch, but the camaraderie he'd shared before seemed distant to him now.  Healing the body felt like a perfunctory task and he lent his steady hands to the application of it, but all the friendly chit-chat had fled his tongue. 

When grandmothers shuffled in with knee and hip problems, he strengthened their muscles but could only listen with envious shards in his heart as they spoke of their lovely families. When young athletes hobbled in, one limb in need of repair, and related how someone supported them through thick and thin, Roscoe wrapped his own heart as well as their joints with bandages. 

Now, he was facing down his older sister, and even though he weighed a hundred pounds more and stood five inches taller, she stared him down. 

"What you need is a new best friend."  She shook a finger at him.  "And I found you the perfect one."

Roscoe tried to imagine who Andrea could possible mean.  "But I have a best friend.  That's not what I lost."

"Hush," she ordered.  "Come with me."  She marched Roscoe out to her car and drove him across town to the rescue shelter.  "My friend Kyra works here.  She called me and told me about a dog here that's perfect for you.  Already house trained and everything.  Sweet as can be."

Roscoe followed her into the building.  It smelled like many animals lived there, but with the additional scent of antiseptic and mint, as if the staff cleaned and cleaned until they might someday eradicate the telltale scent.  He didn't want a dog.  The last thing he wanted was to fuss with a new pet.  He missed Flash a little, but that wasn't the hole in his life.  Replacing a pet wouldn't fix his broken heart. But moving a mountain would be easier than going against Andrea, so he humored her. 

"Kyra!" Andrea hugged her friend, and Roscoe recognized her. Kyra had been a cheerleader when Roscoe had played football.  "I brought Roscoe.  Can we see the dog?"

Kyra gave them a big smile.  "You're going to love Bianca.  Give me a minute to get her from the kennel.  Wait right here.  We can take her for a walk outside so you can get to know her."  She shoved a large book across the counter.  "Oh, better sign in here, just to make it official."  Kyra vanished into the back and Andrea bent to fill the ledger with information.

Roscoe wandered.  The reception area had the counter where Kyra had been, but it also had four large windows that revealed observation areas for clusters of animals.  The lower ones held some dogs enjoying a larger space to wait out the day.  Chew toys were scattered on the floor and a soft cushion was strategically placed in one corner.  Large water bowls were full, but the food bowls were empty. Both dogs were curled up, sleeping, and didn't even open an eye when Roscoe peered in on them.

The upper viewing areas held cats.  One held the fluffiest, whitish cat Roscoe had ever seen.  It had eyes bluer than sapphires and it blinked languidly at him.  The other window held a mama cat and several kittens.  As he watched, the kittens played an impromptu game with each other, swatting and leaping.  They tumbled sideways and over their heads more often than anything else and Roscoe couldn't tear his eyes away.

One kitten in particular held his attention more than the others and Roscoe watched the little fellow swat his littermates with determined ferocity. The kitten didn't give up even when it was two against one.  He feinted in one direction and swiped with his paw in another. The two other kittens leapt away and looked to be reconsidering their options.  Roscoe chuckled. He tapped the glass and the little kitten zeroed in on him for a moment. "You've got some razzle-dazzle there," Roscoe told him.  The kitten bounced away for more action with his playmates.

"Here we are!  Roscoe, this is Bianca."

He tore his attention away from the kittens and turned to see Kyra holding the leash to a gorgeous, lithe husky mix.  She had brown eyes and black and white markings.  She sat primly on the floor next to Kyra's feet and thumped her tail when Roscoe looked at her. Even though she was beautiful, he knew she wasn't the one for him.  His broken heart had already made its choice.

"She's pretty," he said.  Bianca closed her eyes as he rubbed the top of her head and scratched behind her ears.

"I hate to rush you, but if you like her, you'd better adopt her today.  She has another family that just signed on to her waiting list.  I put your name down for her so you could meet her first," Kyra said.

Roscoe was glad to hear it. If he had the time, money, and space, he'd want to bring home all the animals. "I'm glad she's got a family that wants her," he said. "Actually, I think I found a kitten."

"What?" Andrea asked. Her eyebrows knitted down.  Big sister wanted an explanation.

"A kitten?" Kyra looked confused.  "I thought you wanted to adopt a dog."

"This one."  Roscoe pointed to the window.  "The all black one."

Kyra and Andrea peered into the window.  At their feet, Bianca sat down and looked up at Roscoe with an expression that he could have sworn was a smile.

"I'm so sorry, but you can't," Kyra said. "We aren't allowed to adopt out black cats until after Halloween. People adopt them for the holiday and then abandon them, so we have a rule."

Roscoe looked down at her.  "Exceptions can always be made."

Kyra narrowed her eyes and then sighed. "Give me a minute to put Bianca back and talk to my supervisor."

"What do you know about cats?' Andrea asked once Kyra was gone. "We never had cats when we were growing up.  Just dogs."

"I'll learn." 

"Well, you do need something to keep you busy.  I guess a kitten would do it."

Roscoe didn't want to stop watching the kitten play.  It hadn't yet grown into its long limbs.  It pounced at its mates and everyone went down in a flurry of waving paws.  The access door in the back opened up and Kyra reached in to nab the little guy.  A minute later she brought him out front.

"Let's meet him in this room."  Kyra opened a door to a small room, barren except for a table and two chairs.  She closed the door and carefully handed the kitten over, disengaging its claws from her shirt where it clung. "His name is Midnight."

Midnight weighed almost nothing in Roscoe's hands.  In fact, if he wasn't a bundle of wiggling energy, he would have fit in just one of Roscoe's palms.  His fur was silky soft and underneath were solid muscles.  His tiny paws pushed at Roscoe's fingers as he tried to climb his way up.  Roscoe rubbed the very tip of his index finger on the top of Midnight's head and after a moment, Midnight closed his amber eyes and started to purr. The sound filled the room.

"His purr is bigger than he is," Andrea said.

Kyra laughed.  "He likes you." 

"I like him."  It had been so long since Roscoe had trusted his gut that it felt odd, but he knew this was important, and so very right. "But I think his name should be Razzle, not Midnight."

"Razzle.  That's a cute name," Kyra said. "There's a whole lot of paperwork to fill out, and an adoption fee.  But my supervisor says you can have him as long as you agree to a post-Halloween check.  They want to make sure he's safe."

"He will be," Roscoe said. He pulled the kitten in against his chest and Razzle resettled his head there, pressed warmly.  His purring vibrated slightly and Roscoe felt something ease deep in his chest.  His hands were steady and his heart was sure.  Razzle was coming home with him. It wasn't a cure, but it was a start.



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

eking it out

At this time of year, it is always a game to see how many more days I can go without turning on the heat. I use a little space heater just for the toughest hours I'm home. I start to wear hats indoors and put extra blankets on the bed. It is a little bit of a game, but it does has roots in practicality. Turning on Big Heat means starting to spend Big Heat Money. My efforts are just for the purpose of stretching my budget, and my heart goes out to everyone out there who is having far more trouble making ends meet. Much love to you all.

On happier news, for those in mind of a bargain. Torquere says the code BOO will get you 20% off at torquerebooks.com & shop.prizmbooks.com :D Sale ends 10/31!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

sleet in the mountains!

I was up in the mountains today and it hovered right on the line, sometimes raining and sometimes sleeting. It was very cold and I had to put on a hat and gloves. When I drove back to town, it got warmer as I drove down. It is always a bit amazing how different weather systems can be when you go up and down in altitude.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hooray!!

My short story "Never Waste a Good Left Turn" has been accepted for the Random Acts of Kindness Anthology coming out by Dreamspinner Press. I am *so* excited. I actually made "yes, yes, yes" noises when I read the e-mail.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

the beautiful valleyside

I thought fall was way past peak, but today I saw a gorgeous sight. Along the slope side of the valley for some (mini) mountains, were all the trees -- still turned golden yellow and red and vibrant orange, and fairly glowing in the late afternoon light. The tops of the hills were dark green and the protected 'inside' was all aglow with color. It was beautiful!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

the nice day blew away

Yesterday was amazingly nice and then as the sun set, a brisk wind blew in. I expected rain but it hasn't yet, it is only threatening. It is still windy and somewhat warm out, but it continues to have that Halloween edge to it, like there's something bad coming just behind the warm, sunny day. It makes me shiver.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

uh-oh, breaking stuff already

I dropped a bowl and it smashed up a glass and a plate today. Had to throw out a whole bunch of food just to be safe and ended up spending 30 minutes cleaning up. Kept finding little bits of glass everywhere. I don't usually have such clumsy moments. I hope this is not a portent for the rest of the day. :(

Monday, October 13, 2014

oh, so that's what writing feels like

I've had a topsy-turvey schedule lately, so very little writing has been done (very little=none), but today I had a small amount of time where I had nothing else to do but write. I got a little over 500 words done and it felt pretty sweet. :-)

I'm working on some free reads for this fall. My dream of working on something a little longer is on hold for another week. Come late October and November, even though I'm not going to do NaNo, I do hope to do some concentrated writing. I love the short story format and I do well at it, but I would so love to have something longer to submit.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

leaf blowing day!

Today must have been Leaf Blowing Day because as I rode my bike around, everyone had out their leaf blowers and were corralling the leaves into tighter and tighter circles. All in all, a very noisy day!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Grim Reaper on the front steps

As I rounded a corner today on my bike ride, I noticed a figure sitting on the steps of a house. He was dressed all in black with a hood over his head. I couldn't see his face. for a solid three seconds, with Halloween so close, I seriously thought the Grim Reaper was sitting on those steps, watching me pedal by. Then I realized it was just a man in dark sweatpants with a dark sweatshirt and a hood pulled over his face. I waved. He waved back. Yesterday, he'd been doing yard work. Maybe the Grim Reaper lives there, but if he does, he keeps a nice lawn.

Friday, October 10, 2014

long thoughts on long brike rides

I've been riding my bike this week for exercise and I find that often it is the best way for my brain to start to think about story ideas. Sometimes it can be a little frustrating because the scenery is lovely and I want to pay attention. The trees are turning colors, a portion of the ride is near water and there are birds to watch, and yet, my thoughts turn inward. Two days in a row, my brain has sparked and idea and I've mulled it over while I've pedaled away the miles. Now I just need to write those ideas into actual stories! One was for a long romance and the other for a short first-time romance (probably a free read!). But I do ruminate so much that when I return home, I've missed out on the view.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

stickiest stuff ever!!

I somehow managed to spill coffee creamer while taking it out of the fridge and it went all over the fridge, the floor, and me. After 3 wipe-downs, it is still sticky! What do they make this stuff out of?!?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

the end of summer swimming

I went for a long bike ride yesterday on a bike path and toured through a park. This caught my eye. The water is cold and the end of summer means no more swimming.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

another unknown flower, tho' not a weed for sure

Wow, I didn't expect to find out the previous flower, so let me be greedy and try again. I saw this one next to a walkway, so it was most definitely planted. It was so pretty and seemed as if it was blooming just at the peak moment.

Monday, October 6, 2014

unknown flower-weed, you are lovely

I haven't any idea what the name of this flower is. It seems to be a weed that grows hither and yon as it pleases. It's a lovely yellow color, though, and the petals are pretty.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

location, location, location

Just to follow up on my previous post about my current writing mental status. I'm visiting family for the weekend, and it just isn't a very conducive place for writing. There's too much coming and going, and not enough 'comfy' spots to curl up and write undisturbed.

I find this is true for several of the places I regularly frequent (friends and family's homes). I do okay in coffee shops and the like, if I can find a place to sequester myself away and feel unobtrusive, and if there's not a lot of things left undone.

Even at home, I need to have a handle on my errands and chores. If there are things to tidy up, I find I need to get all of that organized before I can curl up and write. It is a bit maddening. I think it has to do with the concept of tidy-mind/tidy-space and also feeling grounded and safe for writing. Writing is such a flaying process sometimes that to do it, the writer needs to start from a very safe space.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

in the gloom of a rainy day

I really won't be getting much done this weekend. It's sort of a gloomy, rainy day and I feel very much out of sorts lately.

I need to finish the edits on the little free October story I am working on, but not right now, maybe a little later. And I really want to start working on writing a longer story. Last month I wrote two short stories for submissions (still waiting, my fingers are crossed) and with that flurry of activity, I had thought to work on something longer. I didn't want to wait for November and national writing month to get something started but I am finding it a difficult transition to actually sit down.

I believe it has to do with location. Location, location, location. I'm going to take a nap, and perhaps expand on this idea in a later post. Wish me sweet dreams!

Friday, October 3, 2014

enormous marigolds and a busy bee

I got back an edit on a story and, oh-boy, do I need to do some work. *sigh* I suppose that's why you send the story out. You can't see the forest for the trees. Or in this case, the bee and the flower!

more fall foliage

The reds were brilliant this year and although we're past peak, there are still some gorgeous colors and full trees hanging on. Stay calm, winds, and leave the leaves up. ;)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

when seasons collide!

When seasons collide, you get pumpkins next to watermelons. One last hooray for summer and hello spooky, pumpkin autumn. A little bit of the best of each season.
In writing efforts, I did a solid edit on that October-ish nibble story I mentioned before. It should be ready to share soon!

Monday, September 29, 2014

unexpected inspiration

I had the sweetest idea for a nibble-sized story, so I've been working on it. The rough draft is done and now I just have to figure out the title. It's a little bit Halloween-themed, so I should have it posted up sometime in the next few weeks. Just a little fun. If I can figure out a title!

the long gaze toward the trees

Another photo from my drive this past weekend. One of the vendors sold handmade wooden benches. They're very rustic. I bet sitting on one while eating an ice cream (or drinking a coffee if it were chilly) while staring out at a vista of colorful foliage would be very restful.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

more autumn sights

I have a nice drive through some scenic areas yesterday and took some photos. There was an apple festival happening and I stopped to see what was interesting. One of the stands was selling mums, so I could a lovely photo of a giant cluster of lush mums. And then off to the side, in a swampy area, there were some cattails, which I also photographed. Here's to a great hooray of a weekend!

Friday, September 26, 2014

autumn is creeping up on us

The trees are changing color. I see splashes of red and orange among the darkening greens. Yellow is curling into all the leaves as they fall and blow all over the sidewalks. The season is definitely changing.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mums the word

With the weather changing, so do the plants. Now is the time that the mums come out. I don't think of them as especially beautiful, but they really are. They are hardy and earthy, not fragile, but very sturdy flowers. And they come in more colors than ever.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Miss pell tells you how to spell, not misspell

My spelling isn't fantastic. I'm pretty good, most of the time. I definitely know I have a few words that I always have to double check. (Sandwich. I always seem to want to put an extra "h" in there. Sandwhich??)

So, I appreciate these helpful, though antagonistic, comic reminders of how to get my spelling mojo on.

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/misspelling

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

autumn has fallen, goldenrod alights

And my condolences to those who have goldenrod allergies.

It is a weed, but in a meadow, all clustered together, it is a beautiful weed.

in a coffee shop, just like a writer

Through a series of events and commitments (doctor appointment, terrible traffic, and a dinner date later) I can't quite make it home, so I have sought temporary refuge in a coffee shop with wifi.

I have a large coffee, and have splurged on a raisin cinnamon bagel, and I'm sitting at a table with my laptop. I have an unexpected half hour of free time.

I feel like all those writers from countless tales and movies. I feel like I should be writing something dissonant.

Instead, I will blog and check e-mails and relax. Dissonance would additionally require a beret, which I don't have.

Monday, September 22, 2014

and the submissions are in!

I emerged victorious over my editing yesterday, and I spent some time to also develop the summaries and e-mails that go along with submitting things. The rest of this week is going to be very busy for me and I was not assured that I'd have time for any more editing. I was concerned that I might not even have proper computer time, so I felt that I wanted to get my submissions in now, even though there's still about a week left before the deadlines.

It would have been rough if I had stories all ready to go and just missed out on submitting them because of other obligations and no computer time. So, I make that satisfied hand-slapping together noise that signifies a job well finished, and I am going to breathe a sigh of relief.

This is actually quite good. I've written somewhere around 10k words this past month, and most of it in the last two weeks, for two separate stories, and that is quite enough for me! I need some writing down time.

Now I am off to bed, and for once, it might actually be on time!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

color scheme coming back around again

I'm not entirely sure what it is lately, but as I'm writing stories and filling in details, I seem to be lured back to the concept of pink.

How Sweetly the Whippoorwill Sings was *full* of pink. (See icon for the full pink effect!) And now my latest horror story has had some substantial pink creep into it. Of course, being horror, you know it is not for the same reason as Whippoorwill. Pink definitely has a lot of meaning.

these two things are not the same....

Editing. These two things are not the same:

Jack held out his left arm, fish clenched.....

Jack held out his left arm, fist clenched....

**keeps typing**

today is for editing!

Today: I edit!

I've got two short stories that need some serious editing and today is the day. Of course, yesterday was supposed to be the nicer of the two days and I wake up today to bright sunshine and warm temperatures, so I am a bit miffed about that. It is supposed to rain later, though.

In addition, today is also for eating. I already had pork and sauerkraut is the slow cooker. Also planned for today: apple pie with the last of the apples picked two weekends ago and tomato soup with tomatoes from the garden. I've never made the fresh tomato soup before, so my fingers are crossed that will come out all right. Luckily, the basil is still doing well (even with these recently cold temps) so the soup should be well flavored.

Then: editing!

I have to do all that editing....

Saturday, September 20, 2014

the harvest is thinning

With the cold weather we're having, the garden has been covered with sheets for a few nights, and I'm plucking as much as is ready. I think this weekend might be the end, although today should be warm, so I'm hoping for some last minute on-the-vine ripening.

Here's a photo of the small batch of cherry tomatoes and ground cherries that were picked.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

paperback sale at Dreamspinner

A quick sales-pitch word for anyone interested -- Dreamspinner is doing a promotion with 35% off paperbacks. Good until Sunday!

Almost everything I have is an e-book, but I actually do have one short story in an anthology that is in paperback. (My first ever, I cherish it!) Snow on the Roof

first draft done! and the intriguing implications of a bi-literate brain

I ended up rewriting the entire last third part after much thinking and while I am satisfied, I still think it needs a hearty scrub-a-dub to get out the bossy bits. ;)

So, I've got two rough drafts to smooth out before the end of the month -- a nice weekend project, I hope. They would both benefit from sitting for a day or two. And I have a very short rough draft of an extra that I worked on last weekend as a freebie for How Sweetly the Whippoorwill Sings. (Pretty sweet, huh?)

I also had a mysterious mark on my To Do List that said "September 16th Due Date" and I can't remember why I wrote that down. Did I miss a deadline? I can't remember! I hope it was not something really, really important but I don't know. :/

~~~

In other news, I heard a most intriguing news piece on the radio today: http://www.thetakeaway.org/story/paper-vs-plasma-how-digital-reading-shift-impacting-your-brain/?utm_source=local&utm_medium=treatment&utm_campaign=featuredcomment&utm_content=article

Apparently reading on a screen and reading on paper are *not* processed the same way within your brain. They are working on what that means for us.

What do you read on? Paper? Screen?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

things I love: wool socks

The heat was off at work today and it was uncomfortably cold. I was very glad I had on wool socks today.

Monday, September 15, 2014

you know what's freaky? writing. writing is freaky.

I've been creepily humming along on my creepy story. Up to 3k+ on it.

I'm always amazed (and creeped out) by the ways things change as you write.

When I first started: Oh, that's an *awful* concept. i can't sleep unless I write some of it. One pov, okay, I can do this.

The next morning: two povs, seriously, and a twist, and ewwww, the concept got creepier.

Today, day three: right, so, third pov, and...so they aren't all going to die.... Is there going to be actual romance here, or just me feeling like ants are crawling under my skin? Right then. On with the rescue!

How is it writing something can change so quickly as it goes and your brain makes all these freak connections, and the next thing you know, you have more characters, you've trimmed out a side-line bit, and your focus is suddenly on something different? (Yet still creepy. The basic concept makes it so.)

Even freakier? Three days ago, this story didn't exist.

I think a goose just walked over my grave. *shivers*

Rec: "Our Secret Weakness" by Suki Fleet

I'm so glad Suki Fleet posted this link. Her story "Our Secret Weakness" is just a gorgeous little gem. The language in it is so delicate, it's like tissue paper kites in the seaside wind. And that's sort of how I feel when I read that story, light and airy and sadly beautiful. Go read it, it's free!

http://sukifleet.wordpress.com/free-short-reads/

Sunday, September 14, 2014

sometimes I creep myself out

I was all set to snuggle into bed last night (coughing and hacking as the cold is still in residence) but my brain had other ideas.

I'd finished up two writing projects and each need to sit for a good while before I can return to them with a fresh eye and I'd been perusing submission calls, nothing coming to mind. And then, BAM, creepy horror story!

I considered trying to sleep anyway, but awful, creepy plotting thoughts would *not* abate.

So I stay up late typing away (1500 words) just so i can stop thinking about creepy things and finally call it quits. So, of course, I wake up too early this morning, and the brain (she's the boss, really) says, oh, yeah, and I forgot to mention, here's the *twist*.

I staggered to the left, I stumbled to the right...but I made it back to my computer. And now I'm another 800 words to the good.

I write very linearly, even if I know what comes next, and I'm now at a pivotal point where things get *action-packed*. So I'm taking a break.

I hear food is a good idea if you want to keep yourself functioning. Any truth to the rumors? ;)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Review: In the Doghouse by Chris Quinton

I wanted to give a solid shout out to Chris today. She's been my friend and mentor for a number of years and I've been super lucky to have her cheering me on not just because she's a fantastic person and wonderful friend but because she's a creative, amazing writer and author.

So, today, I'd like to take a moment to talk about her recent story "In the Doghouse", which came out as part of the Dreamspinner Press' Not Quite Shakespeare Anthology.

"In the Doghouse" is the adventure of Jerry Thorne trying to keep a beloved racing greyhound out of unkind, nefarious hands while hiding out in the only safe place he can find—that of a friend and longtime crush, Mike Brown.

Of Chris' many talents, perhaps the one I most admire (and yes, covet!) is her ability to write sharp, brilliant dialogue. When the characters speak, you really hear them in your head, and their words are vibrant and descriptive. "In the Doghouse" is written in the first person, which plays to Chris' strength because it is basically the main protagonist bringing the reader along on an adventure. You read everything through Jerry Thorne's perspective, with all the missteps and emotions that make up his history. When he doubts, you know why, and when he grows bold, you urge him on.

It's a short story, but it is densely packed with adventure and drama, a villain that makes you want to hiss and boo, and emotions that swing the gamut to end at a satisfying conclusion. Along the way, Chris hits that sweet spot for romantic erotica, with that perfect blend of emotion and grit.

Not to be forgotten, of course, the story features a swift and soft-eared greyhound named Spot. I'm a soft-touch for dog stories, and it is obvious Chris knows her details when it comes to the characterization of dogs. Spot is adorable and very real, and I want to take him home with me.

oh, that was a pleasant surprise!

Still staying home today with a cold. (I was supposed to travel to see family, but I didn't want to bring them my company *and* my germs.) So, I'm now sitting on my couch with a quilt over my lap, a cup of tea at my side, and my laptop. I'm going to try and edit today. Writing might be a bit much (it really is a quiet activity that requires a lot of stamina and concentration and effort), but I think I can manage some editing.

It is a bit cool here today, so I've got my little electric heater going just to take the edge off, and I went to retrieve a hat (white, knit, with a darling pom-pom at the top) and a pair of knitted fingerless gloves. Well, I had stored them with one of those neck wraps that you can put in the microwave for soothing muscles, and mine is full of flax and lavender. And now my hat and knitted gloves also smell divinely of lavender and flax. It is *wonderful*.

Sometimes it really is the smallest of things that can make you happy.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Rainbow Book Reviews: Nuts, Bolts, and Chihuahuas

I was surprised to find my short story from the Dawg Days Anthology had gotten a review! And it is a very nice review.

Go and read for yourselves!

Steampunk Friday (and I still have a cold)

The cold is still hanging onto me with cursedly strong fingers. But on the good side, today at Love Romances Cafe, it is being celebrated as Steampunk Friday.

Although I haven't tried to write any yet, I do quite like the whole Steampunk genre. The melding of fashion, form, and function into this particular style is fascinating and quite beautiful.

Here are two photos I've taken that seem quite steampunk-ish to me. Inspiration for others, perhaps?

Some baggage, which makes me think of all the traveling done in Steampunk stories. And an astronomical gizmo.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

caught a cold; slept aaaalllll day

It's been a rough week. I caught a cold earlier in the week and fought it, but today it took me down. I've been sleeping all day. It is funny, because I'm home for once instead of rushing about, but I'm home for a reason. So, even though it seems like I could sit down and write, I haven't the energy for it. I had plans for so many posts...I will try to get to them later this week/weekend.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

back to writing

I got just over 1k words done today! But I got up to the hard part -- *ahem* -- yes, the sex scene. More than one way to be difficult, eh? ;)

Going to take a break and hope I can come back to it later. (Oh...the puns...they just show up...must be in the mindset....)

And, anyway, on another matter, keep your fingers crossed for me, I took a chance and submitted a het story for an anthology. I know, het, right? Bizarre! But sometimes there is inspiration enough to spare. Though m/m is my bread and butter, and my knife and jam, and my basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella.

Hmm. I might be hungry.