Sunday, March 29, 2015

growing up quotes

Kim Fielding did a lovely post with quotes from numerous authors (including me!) about growing up, to celebrate her new novella coming out, Grown-up.

It's a thought provoking topic, and seeing what others had to say gives fodder for thinking interesting thoughts:

Friday, March 20, 2015

Free Read: Sketching at the Dawn

A little bit more of Phillip and Oscar. Well, a lot of Philip this time, and a hint of Oscar.


Phillip stretched in bed and repositioned himself. He closed his eyes and listened to the steady breathing of Oscar next to him, but after a few minutes he realized sleep would not be returning. As quietly as possible, he slid out from under the covers. The cold brushed his skin and he instantly missed the warmth generated by Oscar’s body, but he was far too awake to crawl back. He’d just toss and turn and eventually wake Oscar, and his love worked too hard to have his sleep disrupted.

Phillip gathered his bathrobe from the hook in the closet and stuck his arms through. He cinched it tight around his waist. It had been a gift from Oscar last winter when the weather turned colder than usual. A gorgeous deep blue color and plush, it was a luxury Phillip appreciated.

The floorboards groaned ever so slightly under his weight, but Oscar didn’t stir and Phillip softly closed the door behind him. The faintest gray color limned the windows hinting at daybreak, but it was over an hour before the alarm would go off. There was time enough to work on a project. Phillip headed to the kitchen to start the coffee.

While he waited for it to finish brewing he gathered his pens and a sketch pad. His fingers twitched to draw. Something about the early morning and the absolute quiet in the house gave Phillip an earnest energy. He retrieved a cup of black coffee before the machine had finished its cycle, pouring quickly so he could return the carafe before the basket over spilled. Then he settled down on the couch.

He usually preferred his drafting area, which tilted at the correct angle to ease stress from his shoulders and force his back into a more ergonomic position during the long hours he worked on projects, but today he wanted to sit and tilt backwards. He wanted to keep an eye on the windows as they brightened.

With the sketchpad propped on his thighs, he sipped at his coffee and contemplated the blank page.

There were several ideas waiting to be explored that he hadn’t yet started upon, as well as a handful of work projects with deadlines looming. But this was an extra hour, carved unexpectedly out of his usual routine. It was a gift of time and he felt it deserved something all its own.

Sometimes he sketched with pencil before committing images to the permanence of pen, but this morning a particular kind of confidence filled him. Even mistakes would be beautiful in their own way. He uncapped his favorite pen, which had a very fine nib and flowed smoothly.

Working slowly and deliberately, he swiped lines across the pages, feeling the texture of the paper as his pen flowed over. This would be a small piece, though centered in the page. The shape of the number two began to form. It had only an outline with blank space within, which he filled with vines and flowers along the top swell. He hatched a thick bank of leaves into the bottom flatness of the number. When the entire inside of the number was stuffed with foliage, Phillip added two bumblebees just outside the outline. They appeared to tumble in flight, delirious with the bounty they’d just discovered inside the number.

Phillip smiled at his own work and stopped. He glanced to the windows and noted the warm wash of light. Distantly, in the house, the bedroom alarm sounded and then abruptly stopped.

Phillip closed the cover of his sketchpad. He’d been looking for something to give as a gift to Oscar for their upcoming anniversary. Their second official anniversary.

This would do perfectly.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

making cookies of the peanut butter sort

I have a peanut butter cookie recipe that is pretty much no fail as long as I don't stray. I got a little frisky with the ingredients tonight, and the cookies are still very good, but not as fantastic as they have been. It never works out to try to make cookies healthier, does it? No. Trying to substitute in a portion of whole wheat flour and use all natural peanut butter (just peanuts and salt instead of a hundred trans-fat ingredients and added sugar) just doesn't turn out the same cookie. The ones I ended up with are crumblier, don't stay together as well, and definitely not as sweet. Also, a little heartier, and don't have as much of that delicious mouth-feel, buttery, melt on your tongue sensation. Next time, I shall return to the Dark Ways, and forget any notion of making a cookie that is a little less bad for me.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Free Read: Counting Pennies

I'm very much enjoying writing these little snippets for Oscar and Phillip. As each deadline approaches for Free Fiction Friday, and I ponder what to write, I keep coming back to these two characters, and each time I do, I learn more about them. It's a fascinating process, and quite unexpected on my end.


It wasn't until his third trip to the kitchen in search of an elusive snack that Oscar noticed Phillip hunched at the computer desk.

Phillip hadn't moved from that spot for nearly four hours. Oscar thought about it for a moment. He'd come in earlier, looking for pepperoni, and Phil had been there, scribbling something on a sheet of paper. Before that, when he'd stopped by to refill his coffee mug, Phillip had been frowning at the screen and tapping at the keys to fill out some type of spreadsheet.

Oscar flitted about the kitchen, opening the fridge doors and closing them again when no new snack options appeared. He wanted summer sausage. Or prosciutto. Maybe even liverwurst, at this point. He definitely had a craving for something salty and meaty, with a streak of fat. Inspired, he checked the freezer, but even there he struck out. Usually a wrapped package of bacon hid within, but they'd fried it all yesterday for breakfast.

Oscar checked the coffee pot. The liquid inside was still hot, but it had condensed down into a semi-thickened drink that would surely eat through his stomach lining. Oscar dumped the coffee into the sink before he could have second thoughts. As a last resort, he filled the kettle with water and set it on the burner. Tea seemed like a good choice.

He craned his neck and could see Phillip's mug was empty, and bone dry. "What are you doing?" he asked as he stepped close to his love, "And do you want tea?"

Phillip made a flustered noise and his hand jumped on the mouse, minimizing the spreadsheet.

"Phil?" Oscar tilted his head. "What are you doing?" he asked again. He snagged the corner of the piece of paper with the tip of his finger and pulled it close. Scribbles covered the surface, but they were all numbers. Oscar narrowed his eyes as he considered the entirety of the information.

"Just paying some bills," Phillip said. He pulled the paper back toward himself and flipped it over.

"Uh-huh," Oscar said. He turned the paper over again so all the scribbles showed. He pointed to a set of tallied numbers. "You're worrying over the mortgage again."

"Maybe a little," Phillip said. "I just thought it wouldn't hurt to crunch some numbers. See if we should refinance. We've been paying ahead a little, so I thought it might be good to see how long we had left. Just playing with the numbers."

"I see," Oscar said. He looked hard at Phillip, who looked tired and stressed out. His hair needed to be combed and he was still in an old pair of sweatpants and a ratty t-shirt. "If there's something else, you can tell me. You know that, right?"

"I know," Phil said. He looked away, out the nearest window, and then back again to Oscar. "It's just sometimes I realize how lopsided things are. Your job, my job. Without you, this house would be beyond me. I was looking at one of those mortgage calculators and if I was really frugal, I might be able to live by myself in the garage."

"Phil," Oscar said. "I don't know what to say. We're a team. We're in this together. I don't want you living in the garage unless I'm living there with you."

With his index finger, Phil skimmed down the columns of numbers on the piece of paper. "I just want to make sure I'm contributing, and not taking advantage of you."

Oscar placed his hand over Phillip's. Then he slid the paper out with his free hand and crumpled it into a ball and chucked it at the garbage. "I'm pretty sure I like it when you do take advantage of me." He grinned and Phillip grinned back. Behind him, the kettle whistled on the stove top. "But let's make some tea, and go sit on the sofa. We'll talk it over and see if we need to change anything."

"Okay," Phil said.

"Good," Oscar replied, and he stood up, and turned to prepare the tea.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

the edits never end (it just feels that way)

I think I'm on the very last of the edits and read-throughs for Cotton Candy Deceit, which is a creepy romantic story I've written for Rooster and Pig Publishing. A touch of horror and a whole lot of sepia-tone amidst a soulmate romance story, and I am so proud of the editing work done on this. My editor was stalwart and brilliant, and really jabbed at the heart of all the little problems and inconsistencies, and the story that emerged afterward is just so much stronger and better.

I don't know exactly when this one is going to publish yet, but I'm excited to know the process is very near the end. I'm catching the very rare typo now, and a handful of using the same word too close together.