Friday, January 30, 2015

up late, digging in the weeds

Okay, so maybe it isn't so late quite yet, but it feels that way!

My story "Cotton Candy Deceit" is deep in the editing process right now and I'm also filling out the cover art and promo forms, and these are usually quite deep questions about certain aspects of the story. As much as a story is in my head, sometimes I need to go back through and make sure it reads the way I remember writing it -- or wrote it the way I meant to the first time, because things always change in editing! But overall, it is a great exercise, and certainly points out to me some weaknesses (and strengths) of my descriptions, or especially when I split the line between genres.

Friday, January 23, 2015

600 words of backstory

Whew! I just chunked out 600+ words of backstory and it is all mangled and out of order. But it is well past the witching hour and it'll have to be sorted tomorrow. But, always a win when backstory connections are revealed!

Random Acts of Kindness

Random Acts of Kindness (anthology) is now up online!
The link is here:

My story, Never Waste a Good Left Turn, is included among the others and I'm so excited!

I stretched a little in writing this short story, with the characters, with the pacing, and by keeping it solidly contemporary. I'm really proud of this story, and it ended up being one of my longest to date.

Here's the blurb:

Just about every morning, the friendly hatchback let Leif take a difficult left hand turn on his way to a stressful, uptight IT job. Leif appreciates the mystery man's kindness, but doesn't think much about it until he finds the hatchback in a ditch and Jason trapped behind the wheel. Now Leif has an opportunity to repay all those left hand turns, if he can figure out how to deal with a free spirit in his home.

Plus, the other stories look delicious. It'll be fun to see how all the other authors turned a phrase when contemplating the concept of kindness.

Free Read, Part 5 of 5: Misunderstood Hotness

Mason took the next plate and wiped it dry, crowing a little on the inside. Lloyd was interested, but he wasn't going to fawn. It was an unexpected challenge, and Mason liked it. "So, you work with Dylan?" he asked, reverting to a safe topic.

"Yeah. Different projects, but we're all in the same office area."

"When did you first get to meet Maggie?"

Lloyd paused to tilt his head and think. "A few months ago, maybe? Just a few times. Dylan talks about her so much, though, I feel like I know her very well."

Mason chuckled. "She is his favorite topic."

"Yeah, you can tell he adores her."

Dylan swooped back into the kitchen and deposited another armful of glassware. "There are glasses everywhere," he said. "Someone even left one in a potted plant." He shook his head. "Going back for more."

Mason reached for another cup to dry and noticed Llowd was rubbing his right arm against his side in a futile attempt to push his sleeve back up. It had loosened and drooped down his arm. Lloyd saw Mason's attention. "Trying to keep it out of the way without getting it wet and soapy."

"Let me help," Mason said. He carefully rolled the sleeve back into place. He traced his fingers across the skin on Lloyd's forearm, just below the crook of his elbow. "I was wondering if—"

Lloyd sucked in some air. "Look," he said, his voice tight, "you're gorgeous and all—"

"But you've got a boyfriend already? Girlfriend?" Mason's gut tightened. It was disappointing, but not unexpected.

"No, neither," Lloyd said. He stared at Mason, not washing anything for the moment. "I don't know why you didn't go home with anyone else tonight, but I'm not interested in being a consolation attempt." He squared his shoulders. "I'm sorry for being blunt, but—"

"But you think because I'm attractive that I just do what I want, have someone different in my bed every night of the week?" Mason needed to wrap his head around the concept. He sometimes was assumed to be vapid because he was handsome, but he wasn't used to being categorized as being shallow and a player.

"Don't you? I saw you talking to people all night. Most of them seemed to be on offer."

Mason shrugged. "Two years ago, sure. That's how it was, but it's lost its luster. That's not me anymore. People don't see me, you know, they just see someone they think they should be with."

"Living a misunderstood life as a hot guy?" Lloyd asked, his tone a mix of sarcasm and humor.

"Pretty much," Mason confirmed. "I just wanted to ask you out on a date. Tomorrow night? Coffee, a meal? That's it." He grinned. "I'll dress down. Wear old clothes. Muss up my hair."

"Pfft," Lloyd snorted. "You couldn't look bad even then." He stared hard at Mason. "Okay. Dinner. You're buying."

"Absolutely." Mason edged in a little. "Do you think we could seal the agreement with a pre-date kiss?"

Lloyd narrowed his eyes. "Don't push your luck. You're hot, but I don't know if I actually like you yet."

Mason laughed. "I look forward to earning that kiss."

Lloyd turned back to washing dishes. "Finish drying these and maybe it'll count toward your good behavior score."

Mason flapped the dish towel over his shoulder and wagged his hands in the air. "And I should get a few points for dishpan hands."

Lloyd rinsed a cup and set it in the strainer. "I'm the one with dishpan hands. I think you're going to be starting with a deficit."

"Oh, I think I'll catch up." Mason set to work drying the waiting dishes.

Dylan sailed into the kitchen with another armful of plates. "I found a whole bunch of them in the bathroom. The bathroom! Who leaves plates in the bathroom?" He sighed. "Listen, guys, I appreciate it, but you don't have to stay and do this. I can run another dishwasher load in the morning."

Lloyd threw a sly look at Mason as he called over his shoulder. "I don't mind. The company is nice in here."

"The company—" Dylan stopped short and then he walked backwards. "Ahhh, great. I'll go help Maggie on the couch then. Just keep on cleaning up in here."

"Will do," Mason said. He took another mug from Lloyd, and wondered if perhaps he could argue for a goodnight kiss. Surely this should count as a first date?

"Dinner first," Lloyd murmured, as if he'd read Mason's mind. "You still need to prove you're more than a pretty face."

"Working on it," Mason said, and a warmth bloomed in his chest. Lloyd was certainly more than he seemed on the outside and Mason was looking forward to learning everything there was to know. He had no doubt he'd earn that kiss, and then some. He grabbed another dish and wiped it dry. There were plenty more to go.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Free Read: Misunderstood Hotness, Part 4

Mason offered a hand but Lloyd indicated his soapy hands with a self-effacing shrug. "Nice to meet you," they both said in unison and then laughed.

"Thanks for staying to help with the clean up," Mason said.

"No problem. Glad to help." Lloyd returned to soaping a fragile teacup.

"Were you here earlier? I thought I knew everyone at the party." Mason studied the man in front of him. Lloyd was medium height and of medium build. He had short-cut light brown hair and light hazel eyes to match. He wore jeans and a beige shirt without any markings, with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. Mason couldn't remember even coming across Lloyd once during the whole party.

"Lloyd showed up early and helped with set-up," Dylan chimed in. He'd managed to stuff several more plates into the dishwasher and look pleased with himself.

"If you overload that and the dishes break, Maggie isn't going to be happy." Lloyd's voice was bland, even though his words held a distinct warning.

"Ehh," Dylan said. He tried rearranging the plates again.

"I don't mind, I could do a few more dishes by hand." Lloyd squeezed the sponge in his hand and bubbles formed. A few tiny ones floated free.

One bubble floated in front of Mason. He watched it for a moment. Bubbles were fascinating things. They seemed clear, but really, with the right light, they had iridescent rainbows skimming their surfaces. The bubble popped and Mason started to pay attention to the conversation. "He has a point," Mason said.

"They'll fit. I just need to move this one—" Dylan's hand slipped and two glasses clinked hard against each other. Nobody spoke as Dylan inspected them for cracks. "They're okay," he said.

Mason sighed and Lloyd made a noise of relief.

"There's no room in the drainer," Dylan said. He turned back to glare at the dishwasher with renewed vigor.

"I'll dry," Mason offered quickly. He dug out a hand towel from a drawer and started wiping off the dishes to make room for additional ones. "Don't put any more dishes in there."

"Thanks," Lloyd said. "That was headed for disaster." He smiled at Mason as they stood side by side and something in Mason nudged at him.

"You're welcome," Mason said, feeling suddenly awkward. A minute ago, he'd thought Lloyd to be indistinct, even plain, but now he'd noticed a small chip to the corner of one front tooth. It made Lloyd's smile infinitely more interesting. Mason dried the dishes and put them away, hoping that Lloyd would smile again. The little chip wasn't visible unless he smiled. There didn't seem a lot to say, though, and Lloyd washed in silence while Mason dried.

Mason came to a teacup with blue rosebuds on it. He turned it over in his hands. "Where does this go?"

"Up there, top cupboard." Dylan whirled around the kitchen, wiping away crumbs and sticky stains. "I'm gonna go gather more stuff. Be right back."

The cupboard was over his head so Mason had to go up on his toes to reach it. He knew there was a step stool in the closet, but stretching like this would reveal a hint of his stomach. He knew he was physically attractive and if Lloyd were at all interested, this would be an obvious invitation. Mason thrilled a bit inside. It had been a while since he'd had to play this game. Usually, suitors threw themselves at him.

The teacup settled into place with a click against the other teacups and Mason came down off his toes. He glanced to Lloyd. Lloyd was furiously scrubbing at a silver cake server.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Author Arcade

Dreamspinner Press has a nifty new Author Arcade to check out. It's searchable and brings up more information on their authors. You can see media links, photos, scheduled dates, books, and more. It's a great way to learn more about an author you've just found, or to check on authors for which you already know you love their work!

Here's the main link:

And here's the link to my page:

a lost memory of summer

I found this picture that I had taken this summer. It seems so warm and soft, especially when compared to the coldness that is outside at the moment. It seems incredible that the snow and ice will thaw and flowers will bloom again. I especially crave the sunlight. This winter seems particularly dark this year.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Free Fiction: Misunderstood Hotness, Part 3

Dylon rubbed his hands together, considered the tray, and then hefted it safely. "Grab those paper plates? Time to have cake!"

Mason dutifully gathered the plates, plastic forks, and napkins. He followed Dylan out into the main room where the cake was deposited safely on the main table. Maggie emerged from the crowd of friends to help him. She collected the items from Mason.

"Happy Birthday," Mason said and gave her a soft kiss on the cheek.

"Thank you, darlin'," Maggie said. "You shouldn't be such a stranger, you know. Come for dinner this week."

"I will, thanks," Mason said.

Maggie returned to Dylan, who now had the candles lit. With a sweeping gesture, he started the crowd singing. Maggie beamed under the gaiety and attention. As the last few warbled notes faded, she blew out the candles and everyone clapped.

A crest of envy flowed over Mason, for the love Dylan and Maggie had together and for the happy moment they were sharing with friends. As Maggie blew out her birthday candles he closed his eyes and add his own wish into the curl of candle smoke. Perhaps it could follow on the coattails of Maggie's and be granted as well.

Then, Mason refocused on the party. There was cake to be eaten and friends to catch up with.

The party lasted well into the evening and it wasn't until nearly bedtime that the last few stragglers gulped down the dregs of coffee and waved goodbye.

"I'm stuffed and exhausted." Maggie groaned and patted her abdomen as she flopped down on the sofa. "Next year, let's go back to the quiet candle-lit dinner."

"All will be as you wish," Dylan called out. He toted an armful of coffee mugs to the kitchen. "But it was nice to do a real party just once!" he called out.

Maggie raised an eyebrow at Mason and moved to get up, but Mason waved her down. "It's still your birthday. Let Dylan and I handle this." He dug the remote out from between the cushions and handed it to her. "You relax."

"I like being the birthday girl," Maggie said. She melted back into the sofa and aimed the remote at the television.

Mason gathered up used napkins and plates and brought them to the kitchen. "This really isn't that bad. A sedate birthday party compared to the raves you used to throw back when you were a bachelor."

"You threw raves?" asked a man and Mason startled. He hadn't realized someone else was in the room. The man stood at the kitchen sink, washing some of the more delicate items that couldn't go into the dishwasher.

"Way back when Mason and I were in college together," Dylan said. He eyed the dishwasher and then moved out several pieces and replaced them in more tightly, creating room for even a few more dishes. "I'm way more sedate now that I'm married and working full time. Promise!" Dylan flashed a grin at Mason. "Mason, meet my co-worker Lloyd."

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

wise words, wisely spoken

This is a brilliant post about readers and writers and how we all think with very different minds, and see with very different eyes:

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Free Fiction: The Wheat Paste Heart

A little ficlet I wrote quite awhile ago for the DSP newsletter has finally made it through and has become available! I'd just about actually forgotten that I'd sent it in for consideration.

It's called "The Wheat Paste Heart" and it's a little under 1000 words, so it is a quick read.

Summary: Tired of being afraid to be different, Saxon has been practicing for one night of anti-bullying graffiti art installation. On the big night, he is caught by James, a fellow classmate, but he keeps going, and James doesn't stop him, but helps instead.


Friday, January 2, 2015

FreeRead: Misunderstood Hotness, Part 2

Part 2

The kitchen had one couple in it who seemed intent on their own conversation, and also held Dylan, who was taking an enormous white box out of the fridge. "Mason!" Dylan carefully placed the box on the table. "Where have you been? I haven't seen you all night."

"Mingling," Mason said. "What's that?"

"The cake." Dylan carefully removed the cardboard tags and flipped the box open. Inside was a large sheet cake with white, green, and purple frosting. "For Maggie," he said. "First birthday we're celebrating as a married couple."

"Really?" Mason asked.

"Seriously. I took her out to a quiet little venue the past three years while we were dating. Candlelight. Guys with violins walking around. She's the one who suggested a party this year. Sort of a birthday and housewarming altogether." Dylan slowly flipped the cardboard sides down and slid the cake out onto a waiting tray. One edge caught and a small amount of frosting stuck, leaving a hole that revealed chocolate cake beneath, but otherwise the cake was pristine.

"It's a good party." Mason pulled a knife from the nearby cutlery drawer and attempted a patch on the missing area. "Eh, it'll be adequate, if nobody looks too closely."

"It'll be fine. Maggie never worries about small stuff." With the cake fixed, Dylan looked at Mason. "You doing okay? Now that whatshisname is gone?"

"Mostly. I miss…well, I guess I don't actually miss him. But I miss having somebody."

Dylan looked sympathetic. "You'll find someone. Like I found Maggie. I told you the secret, right?"

"No. What secret?"

"Stop looking for the handsome or pretty ones." Dylan laughed. "No, seriously, I mean it!"

"Don't let Maggie hear you say this," Mason warned.

"She's the most beautiful woman I have ever met," Dylan said. "But I didn't know that the first time we met. I actually looked right past her to her friend, Alyssa. Gorgeous creature. Kind of like you. She got out of bed, rumpled, and she looked better than every other woman in a twenty mile radius. Man, she turned your blood to fire!" He wagged his head from side to side with a wolf-grin. "But she was the typical airhead. All style, no substance. Somehow, I managed to see past her radiance, and there was Maggie." He sighed. "What an idiot I was. Now I see what beautiful is." He pointed at Mason. "You will too. But you have to start looking past the glitterati." He rummaged in a drawer and pulled out a box of candles. Then he carefully positioned three in a triangle formation on the cake.

"Only three?" Mason asked.

"Past, present, and future, my friend." Dylan pulled a lighter out of the same drawer and stuck it in his pocket. "You never reveal a woman's age with candles. Don't you know basic survival?"

"Apparently I have a lot to learn," Mason replied with mock seriousness.