Friday, December 30, 2016

Free Fic: The Place To Be

Dustin yawned.

"Getting tired already?" Jason asked. He tipped his flute up and drained down the champagne within.

"No," Dustin protested. He stifled another yawn. "Maybe."

"You still have forty-five minutes to go." Jason waved the now empty flute around. "And I need another drink."

"If you're not careful, you'll be the one who falls asleep." Dustin shook his head. "I just need some fresh air."

"I'll come with you!" Jason draped one arm across Dustin's shoulder.

The champagne flute dangled from his fingers, a few drips of liquid fell from the edge and landed on Dustin's shirt. Jason pushed Dustin toward the door. With his free hand he snagged one of the bottles on a nearby table. Dustin peered at it. Not champagne, but a white wine.

"You don't have to--"

"I want to," Jason said.

He had to release Dustin so they could get through the door and when he did, Dustin realized how hot and sweaty Jason's arm had been. He usually didn't mind Jason. He was funny and charismatic. But he did tend to get annoying when he drank too much.

"Don't you like the party?" Jason asked.

"I do," Dustin said. "I like it. It's just that I had to work today. I got up early and I'm tired."

"Do you have to work tomorrow?" Jason asked.

"No. Not on New Year's Day." Dustin slid sideways, far away from Jason's sweaty hands. The cool air did rouse him, although not as much as needing his wits to keep Jason's grabby hands off him. "This did help. I feel better. Want to go back inside?"

"Not yet," Jason said. He leaned closer. "No one else is out here. It's a nice night." He pursed his lips and tilted his face.

Dustin ducked out and away. "Whoa, there. I appreciate the gesture, but I'm not kissing you."

"Why not?" Jason demanded.

"Because I have a boyfriend. Cam. Remember?"

"Pfft." Jason waved his hand, still holding the empty flute. "He isn't here. He's never here."

"He's working," Dustin said. "In the emergency room. Helping people." Cam did work a lot. But that really was the job. It was a job he loved and that he was good at. Dustin accepted it. In every other way, Cam was perfect. If the small sacrifice necessary was that he went too much time at work, assisting in helping sick people, injured people, then Dustin would get over it.

Dustin eyed Jason. Cam would never have gotten as annoying drunk as that, ever.

As if on cue, Dustin's phone buzzed. He pulled it out and tapped the screen open. [Happy early New Year's! See you at home after midnight! Miss you. Love you.] Dustin felt a fondness wash all through him as he read the text message.

Jason shook his head. "Was that him? You got a dopey expression on your face."

"Yeah, that was him."

Jason rolled his eyes. "Oh, forget you then. You're actually in loooove." Jason stumbled back through the door and into the throng of the party inside.

Dustin tapped back a message. [See you soon. Can't wait to spend another year with you.] He hit the send button and then considered his options. The party was in full swing, growing louder and better by the moment. But he didn't really want to stay. He wanted to be home, waiting, for when Cam returned.

That sounded like the best way he could think of to welcome the new year. Turning on his heel, he headed home.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Free Fic: Christmas Bests

"What do you like best about Christmas?" Jack asked. He stood in the doorway, looking away from the kitchen and into the living room.

"Is this a trick question?" Eric asked. He lifted his head up from the paperwork at the kitchen table and looked at Jack. Something wasn't quite right. Jack stood very rigidly.

Eric suspected something was not right in the living room. Between the four cats, three children, and two dogs, there was a whole lot of not-right that could happen in the living room. Eric hoped it wasn't the tree. They'd gone the extra distance and gotten a real fir tree this year instead of putting up the old standby fake one.

"No. I mean it. What do you like best about Christmas?" Jack turned his back to the living room and a tight, toothless smile stretched across his face.

"Okay." Eric put his pen down. "The food. And no guilt until after New Years. All the cookies. The pies. Gingerbread. Peppermint everything. Peppermint mocha coffee. Peppermint hot chocolate. Peppermint marshmallows. Chocolate everywhere. I can't leave my desk for five minutes without coming back to find someone has left a candy cane or a nougat or golden coins for me to find." He gathered the papers into a pile. "What is it you like best about Christmas?"

"I like a lot of things. The music. The gifts. The effort people make to catch up with friends and family they don't usually see through the year. But what I like best. What is the absolute best thing about Christmas?" Jack walked away from the entrance to the living room and spent a moment to assist Eric in cleaning up the small pile of papers and pens. Once the small mess was tidied up and stowed in the correct drawer, he gave Eric a hug and kissed him on the cheek. "Being able to close your eyes." He put one hand gently over Eric's eyes and tugged him forward using the other, guiding him safely forward. "And walk straight past the living room to the bedroom."

"Deal with it tomorrow?" Eric asked.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas movie time

I've been watching a lot of Christmas movies -- some good, some not so good. Any recommendations for good new-ish ones?

I love the standbys, of course, but would like to find some other good ones to add to my list of comfort Christmas movies.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Free Fic: The Perfect Gift

Dylan was growing concerned.

Christmas was only two days away and he didn’t have a gift for Ashlar yet. Well, he had a few small things, like Ashlar’s favorite candy bar and a pair of warm, wool socks. But he didn’t have the Big Gift.

Dylan hadn’t yet figured out what would be Ashlar’s main, perfect present.

He’d scoured the mall. He’d internet surfed until his wrists hurt. He’d poured over the ten thousand catalogs that companies sent him mom during the holiday season.

The problem was that Ashlar didn’t need much. He was a minimalist. He gave away last year’s coat if someone bought him a new one. He donated his old clothes and shoes. When he upgraded his mountain bike, he sold the old one.

Ashlar had six towel sets in rotation at his house, which he called a bit excessive, but necessary. When Dylan had bought him another two sets for his birthday Ashlar had given away two of the older sets. He still had six in rotation. The older towels hadn’t even become rags.

Dylan loved that Ashlar wasn’t about material possessions. He liked that their time together was focused on doing things, having experiences, listening to each other, connecting on a deeper level. He just wished Ashlar could be a tiny bit materialistic so Dylan could buy him a nice gift.

Dylan shoved his hands into his pockets and walked out of the hardware store. He’d roamed the isles, hoping something would catch his eye. He’d almost chosen some gardening tools. Surely Ashlar would like packets of seeds. They could start a little garden in the spring. But when he’d thought where Ashlar would store the tools, Dylan knew it would be yet more items that got donated.

Ashlar liked to hike, bike, snowshoe, and ramble. He didn’t really like timetables and tending to growing things that would want water every day.

Dylan sighed and headed down the sidewalk. He glanced at the storefronts as he passed them. Stationary store. No. Picture and frame store. No. Children’s clothing store. Definitely not. Bookstore.

Dylan stopped. That could be a maybe. He could buy a book, write a nice inscription, and-- Ashlar would read it and give it away. Maybe not so good.

Dylan squinted. There was a new specialty store on the corner. A liquor store. Alcohol was temporary. He trotted down the sidewalk and ducked inside.

“Hey, man,” said the guy behind the counter. “Let me know if you need any help.” He paused. “And our special today is the Hootenanny Growler.”

“Growler?” Dylan asked. He looked around. This shop had a lot of beer, not a lot of hard liquor.

“Yeah.” The man motioned to an earthen-looking jug with an old-fashioned wire top. It looked like something his mom used to can pickles. “It’s refillable. Thirty-two ounces. We usually have between three and five different on-tap beers or hard ciders available. Good stuff. Sometimes you can’t even get these in bottles. They’re special deals from the breweries.”

Dylan perked up. Special? Rare? Limited? This was the sort of thing that would go over very well with Ashlar. “What’s the Hootenanny?” he asked.

“Pogonip Tippler Brewery makes it. Double IPA. Lots of hops.”

“Will it last until Christmas?”

“Sure,” the guy said. “But it’d be better on Christmas Eve. Don’t open it until you’re ready to drink it, and then drink it quickly. You’ve got a day or two before it goes flat.”

“So, it’s not something to keep hanging around the house.”

The guy laughed. “No. But save the container. Bring it back and fill it up. Next time you only have to pay for the beer, not the growler itself.”

Dylan reached for his wallet. This would be perfect for Ashlar. One container, many beers. “I’ll take one.”

Monday, December 12, 2016

Love Wins, today

The charity anthology Love Wins is now available, starting today!

Here's the link:

And the beautiful cover:

I hope you'll give it a look and consider purchasing it. You'll have some wonderful stories to read and help to give to a community that needs the support.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Free Fic: Doozy of a Daydream

Randall tried not to stare, but it was difficult.

The other man waiting alongside him at the bus stop was strikingly handsome. He had a chiseled chin that could have launched a thousand headline news shows. His eyes sparkled with a blue that was found only on rare, expensive china patterns. He was dressed like he was about to pose for a clothing catalogue, in crisp jeans and a bulky grey sweater over a button-up collared shirt.

Randall glanced again and immediately looked away, down the street, as if he were checking for the bus.

This guy didn't seem like the usual sort to ride the bus. He wasn't carrying any bags. He had his cell phone out, but he was idly checking something, not intently trying to manage a problem. Every once in a while, he'd look up, checking for the bus, and then go right back to whiling away the minutes.

Randall wiped his hands on his thighs. He'd been working out at the gym and even though he'd showered, he was still flush from exercise. Standing so close to the handsome stranger did nothing to cool him down.

He wanted to say something to the man, to generate some initial contact. But what could he say? If he could catch the man's eye, perhaps he could smile.

They could chat about the weather, and then laugh about the bus being late. Perhaps the man was new to town and unfamiliar with the bus system. Randall could offer him insight and advice. They'd start talking, the bus would arrive, and they'd get on together.

They'd drift away from the topic of the bus to exploring the city, and restaurants, things to do, sports, bookstores, the best coffee shop, the little market that sold excellent cheese at reduced prices. They'd exchange names and shake hands. Randall would laugh when he realized they both got off at the same stop.

The man would invite him over for coffee. He'd dig out something from his cupboard for dinner, or maybe they'd order pizza. Talking together would be so easy.

Randall would go home eventually, but it would be quite late, and with promises on both sides to meet up again the next day. They'd have dinner together, spend the next few weeks learning everything there was to know about each other, and having sex all the time. Randall would be exhausted from the sex.

Their love would only grow stronger. They'd move in together. When the lease ran out, they'd buy a house together. In time, they'd realize they should be married. Randall would ask the man--no, it'd be better if the man organized some sort of romantic surprise getaway trip. Yes. They'd go away on a mini-vacation and decide to get married.

It would be an elopement of the most egregious sort. Randall's mother would be a little angry, but she'd cry and be happy. They'd have some sort of a house party and invite everyone they knew and loved. There would be rivers of champagne and mounds of snacks and an enormous chiffon cake. Vanilla chiffon with chocolate fudge frosting.

They'd adopt a child. Maybe two or three children. Randall would rescue a kitten. The man would bring home a dog he found in the supermarket parking lot. They'd try to find the dog's family, but the dog would remain with them. The dog would guard their house at night and romp with the children during the day.

There would be piano recitals, student teacher conferences, and varsity baseball games. Vacations to the mountains to learn to ski, and trips to the beach where they would snorkel. Probably someone might get stung by a jellyfish and there'd be an emergency trip to the hospital, but everyone would be safe. They'd all go home full of memories.

The budget would be tight when the children were in college, but they'd manage somehow. Retirement might get pushed back, but they'd have stayed active and healthy. Maybe the man might have slightly high cholesterol, so Randall would learn how to cook with olive oil instead of butter, and they'd eat salads three nights a week.

After the kids graduated and left the house, the man and Randall would find there was time to explore their bodies together again. After years of raising children, they'd have a sexual reawakening. Randall would figure out how to tell a good wine from a bad one, and they'd drink gorgeous reds and call in sick to work so they could worship each other.

There would be grandkids and birthday parties. Maybe a summer house somewhere a bit warmer in the winter. Some volunteering opportunities as they got older. They'd help raise money for charities.

One night, when they were very, very old, they'd go to sleep together, and just never get up. They'd be buried together, and their souls would go to heaven.

Randall smiled.

The man looked up from his cell phone and raised an eyebrow. "You must have gotten some good news today," he said, "you look like the cat that got the cream."

The sound of the bus approaching brought Randall back to reality. "You might say that. It was a doozy of a daydream, that's for sure."

Thursday, December 8, 2016

4 days until Love Wins

Love Wins becomes available to read on December 12th! That is not very long to wait at all.

Here's the blurb for my story, Prevailing Zzz's :

After eight months together, Greg wants Win to move in with him. But how can Win agree when Greg's snoring leaves him sleep-deprived and miserable?

And the buy link:

I was looking over the authors and the blurbs for their stories. There is some serious talent involved, and some truly engaging story ideas. I'm looking forward to reading!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving and shopping

I hope everyone's Thanksgiving yesterday was wonderful. Good food and good company.

And today, if you're braving the crowds, stay safe and as sane as you can manage!

I had to go out for a little bit to get a few things (against my better judgement, but I got swept away into activity by others) and it was busy and congested out there.

I am home now, with a cup of tea at my side, and the very real possibility of taking a nap tempting me.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

hiking reward

I went hiking yesterday and today my reward is a very sore body.

It was a gorgeous day and I did overdo it a bit. I suppose I'm not surprised at how I feel. Looks like today's focus will be on stretching!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Free Fic: New and Improved

"New and improved! Get super silky hair with a special formula that heals damaged hair."

Yes, Erica thought, but can it heal a damaged heart?

The commercial ended, moving on to another one selling vacuum cleaners, and Erica covered herself with her green and blue afghan as she snuggled deeper into the sofa. She used the remote to flip through the stations on the tv. Lots of interesting shows were on, but she didn't want to watch any of them. She wanted something comforting.

Erica sniffled. She wasn't feeling very comforted at the moment. Janelle had been very gentle and very kind, but also very direct, in saying that she didn't want to date Erica anymore.

Part of Erica thought she was being ridiculous. It had only been three months. It wasn't a lifetime wasted. She'd had fun and been flying on cloud nine for three months. But it wasn't as if she had incredibly deep feelings for Janelle. She had really, really hoped there would be more, though.

Erica flipped through more stations and then turned the tv off. In the quiet, she felt suddenly very alone.

Was there something wrong with me? Erica knew in heart there wasn't, but asking the question was like probing a wound. She couldn't seem to stop doing it. Anguish gathered in her chest and Erica closed her eyes.

There hadn't been anything wrong. They'd had a blast together. They'd eaten out at restaurants, gone dancing in clubs, taken in a few concerts, and even driven out of the city to go hiking on one super pleasant day. They hadn't seriously argued, just a little squabbling. They'd had interesting conversations. They'd even been able to share shoes.

It had felt--

Erica sat up straighter. It hadn't felt very much like dating.

It definitely felt more like friends. Sisters, even.

Erica didn't have a sister, but she had grown up with plenty of friends who did, and she was familiar with the wide range of dynamics. She'd always been on the outside looking in, wishing she did have a sister, so she'd paid a lot of attention.

Well, crap.

Erica spent a moment to search her heart. She had a desperate fondness for Janelle, a burgeoning love, but it wasn't romantic. And it certainly wasn't sexual. In three months, they hadn't been celibate, but neither had the drive seemed imperative. Not like other, past relationships.

Erica pushed the afghan off to the side. Her heartbreak was transforming inside her chest into something else entirely. Anger. And a lot of pique.

How come she hadn't realized this earlier? How come she was so dense?

Erica got off the couch. She stomped into her bedroom.

Stupid. Stupid. She was wasting her time crying on the couch. Crying over what? Janelle?

Erica scoffed. She'd go talk to Janelle later. Maybe next week or next month. They were obviously very suited for each other, just not in the romantic relationship sort of way.

Right now, Erica had better things to do than wallow on the couch. There was that super cute girl at the gym that she'd been flirting with before Janelle came into her life and put that on hold, and there was a brainy sort of girl who often came to the coffee shop and read books with titles in foreign languages.

Erica glanced at her wardrobe. Pencil skirt, silky blouse, and suede boots to go to the coffee shop? Or running tights, tank top, and sneakers to go to the gym?

Erica reached for her sneakers. She could use a good work out.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Prevailing Zzz's - Love Wins - artwork

I've got the cover artwork for the Love Wins anthology, with my story title and my name on it.

Look, look, look:

This is feeling mighty awesome.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Love Wins - Charity Anthology

The charity anthology by Dreamspinner Press, Love Wins, is now available for pre-order. I have a fic in there: Prevailing Zzz's. I'm very happy to be able, in some small measure, send some comfort to those in Orlando.

The other stories in the anthology look very captivating too. I'm quite looking forward to having a chance to read them over!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Sunday is for cooking

So, Sunday.

Yesterday I got a lot done in terms of cleaning, but today is no longer about cleaning -- Sundays are for preparing lunches for the week. I've got a few things planned for today: a black bean curry, a lemon poppy seed cake, and ginger bread, and possibly a quiche.

I already have all the ingredients for the first three. I do not think I have everything I need for the quiche, so I am debating. Is it worth the effort to go to the store?

Is it just me, or does anyone else find themselves trying to avoid stopping at the store? I wouldn't mind--when I get there, I usually like looking things over, making choices, discovering new things to try--except that no matter what I go there for, it always takes a minimum of an hour. Sometimes two. And suddenly, a huge chunk of my day has vanished! I could be going for just a loaf of bread, and it'll take the full hour.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

queen of the anthologies! sticky post update

I'm taking a break from all that housework -- to update my sticky post that contains all the stories that I have available. I noticed it needed a little editing. If anyone is so inclined to spend some pocket money on my available stories, I'd be very appreciative. If not, I'll keep writing free ficlets for those without that much in their pockets. (I've been there, so I totally understand.)

Here's the link to the sticky post at my Dreamwidth blog:

And, here's the entry (below) for anyone who doesn't want to click over:

Simmer Anthology — including my story "Operation Wild Thumb"

Errant, wild squash are taking over Heath's and his sister Sara's back yard. During a middle of the night operation to gift the neighborhood with the bountiful vegetables, Heath is caught in the act by sexy neighbor Alex. Will Alex reveal the scheme, or join in the fun?

Snowed In Anthology — including my story "Taking the Fall Line"

Leon bluffs about his skiing abilities on the chairlift and Beau follows the blowhard, expecting to observe expertise and instead witnesses a spectacular tumble. While helping Leon get safely down the hill, Beau learns he’s friendlier after being humbled, and very handsome when he takes off his goggles. Leon invites Beau to spend time with him and his family, who are there to compete in a charity event. High-end ski gear, expensive restaurants, and a top-dollar charity event unsettle Beau and reveal to him he’s not quite in the same league. Beau isn’t easily intimidated, though. The glades and fresh powder are waiting, but Beau keeps choosing Leon over the slopes.

How Sweetly the Whippoorwill Sings

A free extra that goes with this story can be found here: The Nightingale's Confection

Molly and Irving are getting married, but some very real sparks are also flying between Irving's best man, Everett Donnelly, and Molly's brother Jake. After all the speeches and traditional activities are over Everett finds Jake to see if they can make a little romance of their own.

Never Waste a Good Left Turn, part of the Random Acts of Kindness Anthology

It’s often said there’s not enough kindness in the world. The men in this collection want to change that by reaching out a helping hand to a stranger or friend in need. They prove that an act of compassion—no matter how big or how small—can make a difference.

Never Waste A Good Left Turn:
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.

Pouring a Brick
High-energy Spence joins a Brazilian jiu-jitsu school looking for adventure and meets Will, an advanced practitioner of the gentle art. After training for a tournament, Spence realizes that pushing the boundaries may be the only way to take their friendship to the next level.

The Way to a Fisherman's Heart, part of the Snow on the Roof Anthology
Jim loves fishing, but there's more than just the water and fresh air that lures him out to the fishing hole. Franklin is often there, with tips and tales of a well-spent lifetime of angling. Will Jim find out if the attraction is mutual, or will this be the one that got away?

Cotton Candy Deceit

Jack Abbott has forbidden his son, Zeke, to attend the local circus. When Zeke goes against his wishes, Jack must rescue him from the clutches of a world he once escaped, but only at the cost of his lover, Jonas. Returning to the circus brings back nightmares, but Jack learns that Jonas is still alive. Now an opportunity arises for Jack to rescue Jonas as well as Zeke, and to stop the dark dealer at the circus… forever.

Free Reads

As part of the Free Fiction Friday group, most Fridays I put up a short ficlet. These are generally unedited, randomly inspired, and a great opportunity for me to explore topics and ideas that may not need an extensive (long) story, or to return to characters for bits and pieces of their lives ( I have at least that I find myself gravitating back to). For readers, it is a perfect way to get a sense of my style! Check out the Free Reads link here.

Saturday: a day of many tasks

I'm sure I'm not alone, but two days of a weekend are not enough to get all the things done that need doing.

I have a task list that's as long as the Mississippi River!

If I am very lucky, there will be time to write later today, but that's a fleeting dream. I've got laundry, bills, dishes, and brick-a-bract that need tending.

Okay, I'm putting on my game face and charging into the fray! I will tame this household! (Or maybe take a nap first....)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Free Fic: The Carrot Remains

The popping sounds were unmistakable.

Silvio hurried to the kitchen and pressed the release lever that opened the door to the microwave and stopped the machine. The food inside the bowl sitting on the spin-plate of the microwave gave one last pop.

Silvio opened the door and peered inside. Orange globs were stuck to the ceiling of the microwave. Orange speckles dotted the inner wall. Brown liquid had bubbled over and run over the edge and down the side of the bowl to pool at the base of the bowl. Now it was dried out and cooked on.

The entire thing was a serious mess.

Silvio groaned. He gently touched the bowl with one finger. Very hot. He pulled the hand towel out of its holder and used it to wrap around the bowl for hand protection and pulled it out. He set it on the counter.

"I just cleaned this," he said.

His husband, Carl, walked up behind him and gazed over his shoulder. "We'll clean it up now, before it crusts on. It won't be so bad."

"I know," Silvio said. "But, still. I just cleaned this."

Katarina twirled into the room. Today she had decided she wanted to be a dancer when she grew up. She'd spent the morning practicing her jazz hands and handstands, and the afternoon seemed primed to be ballet practice.

Silvio looked at the microwave-safe bowl and frowned. "Katarina. Did you try to microwave your lunch?"

"Yup," she said. "I poured the soup out of the open box, just like you said, and I used the blue bowl, just like you said." She twirled again and finished with a grand curtsy. "And I remembered to put the box back in the fridge, just like you said!"

"She did do what you said," Carl whispered in Silvio's ear.

Silveio swatted him on the hip. "How much time did you punch in?"

Katarina poked her finger into the air. "One one one, just like you told me!"

Silvio checked the remaining time on the display. She must have entered four ones, not just three, to get 11:11 because eight minutes still remained. He was just thankful she hadn't entered a hundred and eleven minutes. That could have turned out very badly.

"Honey, next time, I want you to get one of us to help you with the timer on the microwave, okay?"

"Okay," she said. "Can I have my soup now?"

"In a minute, it's still too hot."

"Okay." Katarina returned to twirling.

Silvio cleared the display and reached for the kitchen sponge. He faced off against the sad, exploded remains of several carrot chunks. At least, he thought they were once carrots. It was hard to tell. He sighed, and went to work.

Carl hugged him from behind and kissed his neck. "If this isn't love," he said, "I don't know what is."

Thursday, November 3, 2016

fall back, spring ahead

For those who tend to forget which weekend this happens (for those of us it does happen to): it is *this* coming weekend!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

aargh, ahoy there me hearties

Today was spent purchasing bags of candy and looking for things already owned in my closet to make a costume out of.

It's a tough thing to choose candy. Should I buy candy I don't like so I won't eat it? Should I buy candy I do like so that when there is candy leftover that I'll enjoy eating it? We had some serious discussions this evening about the candy-banana flavor, which is not at all like real banana flavor, but yet, is intriguing in its own right. Long story short? We still bought a heck of a lot of candy. And then came home and started eating it, even the sort we didn't care for too much.

As for the costume search--so many years in a row, I've donned my most favorite costume of all and gone as a butterfly. I have a lovely shirt and shirt combo and a gorgeous set of wings. This year I wanted to do something different, but also not need to spend too much money (or any money) as I used up my Halloween budget already on candy. So, I think I'm going as a pirate this year. Already in the closet: funky pirate-looking pants, flowing white shirt, pirate-looking vest, fake plastic sword, mini-Jolly Roger. All I needed was a bandana, which I bought for $1 on sale.

I have gone on line to find out how pirates speak and have been practicing: aaaargh, where be the treasure?

I realize that in reality pirates are *horrible*. They do bad things and they hurt people. I don't want to be that sort of pirate. I want to be the campy, non-historically correct sort that gets to reveal my inner Errol Flynn playing at Captain Blood, and have a fun night of surprising children who come to my door seeking candy and realize that grown-ups have fun on Halloween too.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Free Fic: The Deadly Double Dare

With Halloween just around the corner, today's free ficlet is going to go in the direction of spooky, creepy, and deadly.

It's not a romance, but it is about friendship, and making good choices.


Bruce regretted rising to the bait of the double-dog-dare taunt.

He should have said nothing. He should have walked away. He should have argued more. He should have argued more persuasively. He should have done something else--anything else--other than accept Rodney Coopersmith’s dare. Now Bruce was not home, safe, where he should be, eating apple pie that his mom would be baking because she didn’t know what else to do with all the extra apples brought home from apple picking. He was not warm and cozy, and he was not happy.

He was cold, getting colder, and soaked to the skin. His raincoat kept most of the chilly rain off him, but it dripped in at his face and the cuffs of his sleeves. The water sloshed and gathered on the ground. His mesh sneakers were soaked and his socks were too. The bottoms of his pants were wet nearly to the knees and all across his thighs.

He was also on the very bottom step of the impressive, steep staircase that led up to the porch and front door of the Old McMahon Mansion.

The mansion was old and ugly. It sagged in a lot of places and parts of it had fallen off. A big sign on the door told people to buzz off, no trespassers. But there wasn’t a notice about condemning the building, so Bruce continued up the steps, one at a time.

Except for the droning of the rain, nothing could be heard. Not even other cars drove down this street. No other houses were nearby, and certainly nobody was walking down the sidewalks in the lousy weather. Bruce had an hour to get home before his mom would start calling around looking for him. And home was a half hour walk from the mansion. He needed to hurry.

His feet squished in his shoes as he stomped up the stairs. At the top, he crossed the porch, grateful that at least it had a roof to keep the water off his head. He pulled his jacket hood off his head. He shivered. He was cold. And maybe a little scared.

Bruce grasped the knob of the door, but as soon as he did, the door swung open. Bruce took a step back in surprise. A man stood there, dressed in a tuxedo. He had gray hair and a bemused expression. Behind him, it looked like a party was in full swing.

Bruce could hear the music--the sort of music his grandparents listened to, and he could smell cinnamon and orange. Warm air wafted out of the house and across his face. Other men walked by, also wearing tuxedos, and women were in pretty dresses. Everyone had a drink in their hand, and there was a silver tray nearby with little bites of food. Bruce was too far away to tell, but he thought it was mushrooms with toothpicks stuck through them. He really didn’t like mushrooms.

“Well, sir?” asked the man at the door. “Will you come in, and stay?”

Bruce swallowed. He did not like the way the phrase “and stay” had been tacked on. “No-o-oo,” he chattered, “thank you.” His lips were a bit numb. He was colder than he’d realized. Then, he turned and ran. He bounded down the steps and nearly collided with a someone his own size at the bottom.

“Mikey,” he said as he saw who he’d run into. Michael Delvecchio was in the same grade, but they had different classes most of the time.

“Bruce,” said Mikey. He looked determined, and very frightened.

“What are you doing here?”

“What are you?” Mikey threw back.

Bruce shook his head. "Being stupid," he said. "I shouldn't have come, but Rodney dared me and I didn't want to back down."

“Rodney dared me, too,” Mickey said.

“Jeez,” Bruce said. Rodney must have been going around taunting and challenging everyone. He grabbed Mikey by the arm. “You ain’t going up there. Trust me. It’s not safe.”

“I’m not scared,” Mikey insisted.

“And you ain’t an idiot, either,” Bruce said. “That place is bad news. Come on, my mom’s got apple pie. You want some, don’t you?”

Mikey shrugged. “Yeah.” He looked up at the house, his face showing a glint of determination warring with fear, but mostly he looked relieved that he wasn't going to follow through on the dare.

Bruce pulled him away. “Come on. I’ll tell you what I saw. And why you don’t want to go up there.”

He guided Mikey away from the house, then started running. “Come on. Before we get so wet they make us take a bath!”

Mikey ran with him nearly all the way to Bruce’s house. His mom was just pulling something from the oven. Although it was apple muffins and not pie, it was just as good. Mikey called about staying for dinner, and his mom came to get him later.

They didn’t mention the mansion again all night. Bruce wasn’t sure what they’d tell Rodney in school on Monday, but it might be forgotten about after the weekend. He hoped so.

The next morning, Mikey called.

“Yeah?” Bruce asked, still half asleep. He wandered into the kitchen and peeled back the lid on the container holding the muffins. He could smell the apples and cinnamon.

“Did you see the news?” Mikey asked, breathless. “My dad watches the news in the morning. Did you see the news?”

“No,” Bruce said. “I just got up.”

“It’s Rodney,” Mikey said. “They found him.”

“What? Found him? What are you talking about?” Bruce took a bite of a muffin. It’d been better warm last night, but was still really good.

“In the Old Mansion. He fell through the floorboards and died.”

“What?” Bruce’s fingers felt numb. He dropped the muffin onto the counter.

“I think--” Mikey paused. “Do you think--” He was silent for a long time.

Bruce couldn’t say a word. He listened to Mikey breathing on the line.

“Do you think he snuck up there ahead of us to hide inside and jump out and scare us?” Mikey asked.

It was the sort of thing Rodney would do. Rodney liked a dirty trick. He thought things were funny even when nobody else did.

“Do you think he was already dead when we were there?” Mikey’s voice came out in a squeaking whisper.

Bruce thought about the party he’d witnessed. If he’d stepped through the door, would he have gone through the floor too? Had Rodney been invited “to stay”? If Bruce hadn’t convinced Mikey to turn around, would he have fallen through, too?

Mikey was waiting on the other side of the phone. Bruce didn’t know what to say.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

back with Halloween fic

Come around tomorrow -- I've got Halloween free fic ready to share. The focus for Halloween is not on romance, but on creepy, spooky, and deadly. You may want to leave the lights on while you're reading.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

all about shoes

I had a weird little conversation with a group of women today. We were all waiting for our rides, and one woman said to another-- I like your shoes, are they brand X? Yes, they are, replied the woman. Everyone agreed they liked the brand because of the wider width of the footbed, and then everyone present complained about women's shoes being built for skinny feet and having too pointy toes -- even brands that you would think were made for rugged outdoor sort of use. And I was thinking about all of the terrible foot problems people endure as they get older - hammer toes, bunions, etc. It just seemed that yet again, we're suffering for beauty. Does it have to be this way, really? I know some people do have skinny feet and need those more narrow footbeds. But not as many as you'd think, to see the shoes available out there.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Free Fiction; 87 Hours

Eighty-seven hours.

That’s how long it had taken Maris to crochet the blanket. Eighty-seven hours. That did not include choosing the pattern, nor choosing the yarn. It did include the straight-out amount of time spent sitting and moving her hands, always having yarn looped through her fingers, as she spooled together the intricate pattern to create the full size blanket.

It had been a labor of love.

She’d enjoyed the time, to be sure. She’d spent most of it in front of the television, watching movies or shows. She’d finally gotten through her backlogged list of old musicals to watch, as well as a bunch of late night monster movies she’d come across randomly. She’d never heard of them before, but they’d been fun.

Some of the hours were conference call hours and webinar hours. Nobody could see her, so she had brought out the project bag and crocheted while others droned on. Keeping her hands busy had helped her stay awake.

But still, eighty-seven hours was a long time to put into a project. It was double a work week. It was a two week vacation, and then some.

Maris had gifted the blanket to Lyndon for their one year anniversary. She’d chosen a card with an adorable couple snuggling on a bed, a big red heart hovering over their smiling faces. She’d written on the inside: This is for us! To cuddle under for many years to come! Happy Anniversary!

She’d revealed to Lyndon how she’d worked on it when he wasn’t there, or had been asleep, so it would be a surprise. She’d worked on it when she went to visit her parents and her sisters, so he would be none the wiser about the special gift she was creating. She worked on it late at night and early in the morning, and during small snatches of free time.

She’d put her head on his chest and sighed. They’d threaded their fingers together. He’d kissed the top of her head, and told her he loved her. She said, this blanket will be great when we’re on the couch together and watching movies. She’d told him, in her dreamiest voice, that she believed in years to come, they could sleep under this blanket and remember when their love was new.


Apparently, their love was also for the dogs.

Lyndon had stuffed the blanket into Jasper’s crate. It was dirty, soaked from drool in at least three places, and had the beginnings of a frayed area. Jasper was gumming one edge of the blanket right now, slobbering all over it.

Jasper stopped what he was doing to perk up at Maris’ approach. He wagged his tail, sure he was about to be let out of his crate. Jasper was a two year old mutt from a rescue society. He was adorable and good natured, a wonderful dog. He was also eighty pounds, had slobbery jowls, and enormous, rough feet.

“Oh, Jasper.” Maris let him out of the crate and took him over to clip him to his trolley-run. He trotted outside to take care of himself.

Maris went back to the crate and retrieved the blanket. It already had a hole in one area. A portion of it was stiff with something once wet and then dried. She shook it out and dog hair rained down. She felt like crying.

Maris carefully folded the blanket and placed in on the kitchen counter. She found a piece of paper and a pen and wrote a note. “I know this blanket was a gift, and once given, a recipient can do what they want with the gift, but putting this blanket into Jasper’s crate shows me what you think – of this blanket, of my efforts in making it, and what you think of me, and my worth in this relationship.”

Maris went to the bathroom and searched until she found the oldest clean towel. It had frayed edges and a few thin spots, but was still a good towel, and very soft. She put it into Jasper’s crate, making sure he would have a soft thing to lie down upon. She refilled Jasper’s water dish and located a fresh rawhide chew-bone in the pantry which she put into the crate, too. Then she went to the door and retrieved Jasper. He gave her a very sad whine when she put him back into the crate and followed her every move with his eyes as she gathered her purse.

“Bye, Jasper,” Maris said. She closed the door behind her, locked it, and headed to her car. She had her own apartment. There was no reason to stay and witness what was about to happen. She had seen the carnage of her blanket; she didn’t need to stick around to try to explain why it bothered her. Either the note would be enough, or it wouldn’t.

As she started her car, she thought back on her relationship with Lyndon. He wasn’t a bad man, but he was often thoughtless. He’d done things like this before, although on a much smaller scale, and she’d always forgiven him or overlooked it. Eighty-seven hours was a lot of time to put into learning a lesson.

If he called, Maris wasn’t sure she’d forgive him, and maybe it was about time she stopped.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

weekend, stuffed to the gills

I really need to work more on planning restful time on weekends. I've been jotting down things on a list (I'm big with lists, I love making them and then crossing off lines) and there is already more on my list than I can accomplish in a single weekend. Of course, since I have an obligation for Sunday, I really only have Friday night and Saturday.

My current list:

-shop for shoes (this sounds like it should be fun, but it isn't, it is necessary)
-go for a bike ride (my one fun thing!)
-grocery shop
-make lunches for the coming week
-fix door molding
-fix screen door
-bring extra things to donation center
-go through enormous pile of mail
-get to the post office and mail off important pieces of mail

Yeah...that's a lot for one Saturday to handle. Well, I'll aim low. Gotta eat, so here's hoping I make it to the supermarket!

Monday, October 10, 2016

a week for submissions!

In addition to my novella being submitted earlier this week, I also had time over the weekend to work on a short story and also get that submitted today. I feel like I'm on a roll!

I need to start looking around and see what my next project should be. I have that weird feeling that you get when you need to transition from one thing to the next, and don't actually know what needs to be a priority for the next thing.

Well, lunch first, of course, and then figuring things out!

Saturday, October 8, 2016


A story I've been working on for two years -- I've just now hit the send button and submitted it!

Now, the waiting begins. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Monday, October 3, 2016

a little more editing

Worked on some editing tonight of a particularly tricky spot. It's at least the third go-round on taming it and I think I finally got it right.

Started drafting the submission summaries. Now, those are daunting tasks!

It looks like it'll be a bit of effort to get those into shape.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Rainbow Snippets for Saturday

Usually I'm limping in late on the joyfulness that is Rainbow Snippets, but today I'm getting in early on the fun!

Since I've been reading (re-reading) the stories in the Snowed In anthology this past week, I think I will keep with that theme and carry on.

And here's the link back to Rainbow Snippets so that you can go and enjoy the other things on offer:


First, the six sentences from my own story, Taking the Fall Line:

“I’ll do you one better than that. If you win, I’ll give you a surprise.” He wasn’t sure what sort of surprise would be fitting, but he had all day to figure out it. Maybe a trip out to Rockjutte Ridge, where the sunsets were gorgeous, and he felt like he could look straight into heaven.

Leon blinked and he opened his mouth, closed it, and then spoke. “How about a kiss?” he asked, his voice cracking on the last word. “If we win, you give me a kiss.”

And second, a recommendation for another one of the stories from that anthology, Celibate Cold by Lynn Townsend. Again, I'm totally biased and this is not a review. But it's a fantastic, fun story.

My very own summary: Topher gets caught in a snowstorm and seeks refuge at Chase's home. They get to know each other quite well as they stay warm inside and wait for the storm to end.

This is one of those fingerburners (smokin') but that isn't what is the best thing about this story. Townsend writes some of the best dialogue and narrative. It's witty and funny, leading you gently forward so that you don't even know you're being set-up, and then, bam!, twist of a phrase and you're grinning. As a writer, I read it with a level of envy that made me sigh and make a note to myself to be more clever.


Lastly, of course, the link to go find these stories:

Friday, September 30, 2016

Free Fic: Double Chocolate Java Pistachio

Someone had left bags of cookies in the break room. Again.

Ross walked past the cookies, trying to convince himself he did not want them. The labels on the bags of cookies lured him in.

They were from one of his favorite local bakeries. The three bags were all different. Chocolate Chip, the classic cookie and adored by many. Oatmeal Raisin, another feel-good cookie reminiscent of home and preferred by those who loved chewier textures. Double Chocolate Java Pistachio.

Ross felt his strength waver. His absolute favorite.

It was a chocolate cookie, flavored with a hint of coffee, that held chunks of chocolate and bits of pistachio.

Ross walked to the door of the break room, intending to get away, and looked back. His will broke. He went back to the table and reached out a finger to touch the bag. It wasn’t air tight and with the small motion a waft of delicious chocolate cookie scent reached his nose. The cookies were still warm. They smelled heavenly.

He undid the clasp. He reached in and grasped a cookie. Indeed, he could feel the warmth of it in his hand. More cookie scent wavered into the air. He took a bite of the cookie. The chocolate bits were still soft from the oven. The cookie practically melted in his mouth.

He groaned, quite against his will, and glanced guiltily to the door of the break room. He would be ribbed mercilessly if his co-workers caught him moaning over cookies. But no one was there. He was safe.

Ross chewed the cookie, standing there and not moving away. He couldn’t spare the effort to move away. He already knew he would eat another cookie.

He finished the first and dived in for the second. It filled his mouth with continued chocolate delight and the slight salty crunch of pistachio. Another moan escaped his throat and this time he didn’t care who heard him.

He stayed away from this bakery for just this reason. He had no control whatsoever for this particular cookie.

Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, Sugar, Molasses, Peanut Butter, Ginger Snap, Lemon, Butter, or anything else, he could appreciate, nibble on sometimes, but ultimately leave alone. He could go days, weeks, months, even years without eating any. Without craving them. But not Double Chocolate Java Pistachio.

Ross finished the second cookie and felt the easement of desire. He could control himself now. He’d fed the demon beast in his gut that demanded cookies and received what it craved.

There were still plenty of cookies in the bag and he hadn’t touched any of the others. He only felt a slight twinge of guilt as he took a third cookie and wrapped it in a napkin. He would save one for later. Perhaps after lunch, or with a cup of late afternoon coffee.

He paused. Now that his mind was clearer, having already scarfed the cookies down, and not fogged by the inescapable drive to gobble the cookies, he wondered who had brought the tempting baked goods. And why they had chosen the Double Chocolate Java Pistachio.

He knew this bakery. They didn’t make Double Chocolate Java Pistachio very often. He’d chatted with the bakery owner, Elise. She said the pistachios were a pain in the butt. She didn’t think the available commercial pistachio bits were quite right, so she bought her own and went through an extra process to salt and roast them herself.

The chocolate chunks in the cookie were also often not available, since the source was a specialty shop that was so bohemian they only made what they ‘felt like’. Elise didn’t like to switch out the chocolate bits with something else since her customers were accustomed to a specific taste. So she only made these cookies infrequently. When she did make them, the bakery usually sold them individually and not bagged.

Yet, here the cookies were. Freshly baked and in a bag. As if someone knew his ultimate weakness.

Ross shook his head. He couldn’t think of any of his co-workers who liked him enough to do this. It had to be a moment of universal serendipity. He left the break room, still thinking, and passed one of the interns walking in the hallway.

“Hey,” Ross said. “There are cookies in the break room.”

“Oh?” the intern said. Ross thought his name was Jon. “That’s great. Thanks.”

Ross continued to his office, Double Chocolate Java Pistachio in his hand like a treasure.


Lester frowned. “Are you coming down with something? You look all sweaty and flushed.”

“No, no, I’m fine.” Jon shrugged and pushed away from the wall. He’d spent a minute too long in the hallway and Lester had come along. Jon tried to stay away from Lester. The man thought he needed to be involved in everyone’s business.

“If you’re sick, you need to go home. Nobody wants to catch a cold from you.” Lester kept frowning and staring at Jon.

“I’m going to get some water,” Jon said. He made a point of heading to the water cooler. He did need some water.

He’d been lurking in the hallway while Ross had eaten the cookies. Jon had wanted to do something nice for the man, especially since Jon had developed a terrible crush on him. It was hard to ignore the man’s friendly smile, his handsome face, and square cut jaw. Ross was good at his job, willing to lend a hand, remembered to invite Jon to meetings and explained things without Jon even needing to ask. Jon appreciated being treated like a member of the team rather than a disposable intern. Ross was older than Jon, by something more than five but fewer than ten years, although Jon didn’t know exactly.

As an intern just trying to get into the job market, Jon liked the openness and the respect. He also appreciated that Ross was attractive.

When Ross had offhandedly mentioned he liked cookies from this bakery and that he liked “the chocolate ones”, it had seemed a perfect opportunity to do something low-key and nice.

But Jon had never imagined he’d hear such wanton moaning. It had gone straight through him, like a shock of electricity. He'd leaned against the hallway wall, closed his eyes, and his throat had gone dry at the low rumble of ecstatic sound. He'd barely been able to act normally when Ross exited the break room and spoken to him, since Jon already felt like his insides had been reduced to jelly.

Jon finished his drink of water and left the hallway, still under the reproachful eye of Lester.

He had a month left in this internship. It was entirely appropriate to try to have a relationship with a co-worker. Even if Jon wasn’t technically a co-worker since he wasn’t being paid. But in four weeks, he was going to ask Ross out on a date. If the man moaned like that over a cookie, there would have to be complete and utter abandon in the bedroom.

Jon only had to survive thirty more days.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

things I am reading: This Winter's Night

With the change of seasons lately, it has me thinking more about my story in the Snowed In anthology. The air is getting colder and winter is coming. Of course, as an author, I'm always interested in writing about my own work, but the other stories in the collection were solid and enjoyable.

I thought it might be fun to mention a few of the ones that resonated with me. Definitely not to be considered reviews. I'm totally biased when it comes to stories, and especially stories that share space in an anthology with my own work.

I took a little time today to reread "This Winter's Night" by Kassandra Lea.

The anthology has been out for awhile, so I don't think there needs to really be a spoiler alert, but don't go farther if you don't want to be spoiled, even just a little. I'm not giving anything away but in talking about a story, it helps to be able to mention things that happen.

My summary: Barry has gone out to the barn to check on his horses during a snowstorm and he is feeling neglected and unhappy about his relationship with his boyfriend, Oliver. Oliver has been working a lot lately and not paying enough attention to Barry.

What I liked about this story -- first, and foremost -- the notion that saying "I love you" is not always enough. *Showing* "I love you" for some people is the crux of the matter. Lip service is nice, but put your money where your mouth is.

This is such a button for me. I adore stories where at least one character gets this on an intellectual level as well as an emotional one. Talk is cheap. Action and investment are not.

For this theme alone, I will always go back and reread this story.

There were some other things I really liked, too. The horses in the barn, and especially the mare named Dumpling. Adorable. I would have been happy spending the whole story out there in that barn. And the depth of writing about how absolutely sad it is to feel a distancing from someone you love. Writers mine that well all the time, but it's a deep well. There is never a true translation of that bottomless pit into words, but some stories and characters get closer than others. Barry's solitude and sadness were right up front for the reader to see.

This story is more about romance and emotional connection, so it's sad and sweet, but isn't a fingerburner (the pages aren't hot, hot, hot). I tend to like it that way.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

there will be fic...about cookies

I got a jump on the Friday fic today, so I can announce early that there will be fic. It will definitely be about cookies.

Romance and cookies, what more could anyone want? :)

yard sale

I was thinking about the term "yard sale", with respect to my story Taking the Fall Line. I so wanted to use it, but it didn't find a place to get used within the story. It's quite the vibrant term.

When a skier or a rider takes a particularly energetic tumble all their gear is stripped off them as they roll down the slope. Hats, gloves, goggles, poles, skis, etc. are left behind the person -- laid out very much like they would offer the items up for viewing at a yard sale (garage sale, tag sale, whatever term you like). It's a humorous term -- as long as the person isn't hurt during the tumble, of course -- and it made me laugh the moment I learned it.

Not that I've ever had a yard sale.

Much. ;)

Okay, okay...maybe all the time.

Ski boots are notoriously difficult to walk up hill in. When you go to collect all your things.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

pumpkins and Thriller

Fall must be here. The radio stations are playing Thriller quite a lot and pumpkins are appearing at every farm stand and grocery story I see.

I am not unhappy about this at all. I love Vincent Price's spoken rap/poem at the end there, and he's got a fantastic evil laugh. And I love all the happy, orange pumpkins. Maybe this year I will actually get the knives out and make a jack o'lantern!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Free Fic: Spring Conditions

This is an extra for my short story "Taking the Fall Line" that was in the Snowed In anthology. It came out for release day last winter. Now that it is starting to have a nip in the air, and Thursday this week was the last day of summer, and Friday is the first day of fall, it seemed the right time to dust it off and post it here. Especially since the story is about spring coming around.

Spring Conditions


The chair lift slowed to a stop, swinging back and forth in the brisk breeze.

"Do they not pay their electric bill?" Leon asked.

"It does seem to happen a lot," Beau said. He looked around. The chairs in front and behind them were empty for quite a distance, and the slopes below were equally unused. "But I'm not complaining. Gives me time to do this." Beau slipped his gloves off and stuffed them into his pockets. He scooted the several inches sideways until his thigh pressed against Leon's leg. Then he slithered his hands into the open underarm vents on Leon's jacket, and ruched up the cotton t-shirt underneath. It was spring and the amount of clothing needed to protect against the elements had decreased.

Beau touched Leon's warm skin and resisted the urge to tickle, but instead pressed his hands against Leon. The position wrapped Leon and Beau into an intimate, though awkward embrace.

"Are you trying to get us to fall to our deaths because we slipped off the seat?" Leon asked, even as he turned his body to accommodate Beau's off-kilter hug.

"We aren't that far up, we'd probably only break a few bones," Beau said. "Now stop talking and kiss."

Leon's lips were faintly cool with the early spring air and slightly slippery from recently applied lip balm. A hint of coconut wafted from him, a reminder that in the spring, the sun bounced off the reflective snow and sunburns were common if sunscreen was forgotten. The angle of the kiss kept it more chaste than Beau would have liked, and he broke away to give Leon a suggestive leer.

"How about a lunch time break?" he asked. "My legs could use a rest. Then a little more skiing and riding this afternoon."

The chair lift eased back into motion and Beau regretfully removed his hands from Leon's vents. He wiggled back into position on the seat, but didn't break eye contact with Leon. They'd been meeting at the resort most weekends during the winter, Leon learning to ski with greater proficiency each time. With spring conditions softening everything, there would come an eventual end to the season. Beau wanted to grab every moment he could with Leon before that happened.

"I am hungry," Leon said. The catch in his voice and the uplift of his eyebrows told Beau he meant the double meaning quite earnestly.

"Me too," Beau said, and a rush of warm anticipation flooded into his gut. He knew the perfect, secluded spot where they could take a lunch break too, and remain undiscovered by other resort guests. Then he could hug, kiss, and caress Leon directly, instead of twisted sideways and forty feet in the air. Beau wished the winter would never end, but time kept marching on. "Mountain closes in two weekends," Beau said as they continued to travel upward. "Then what?"

Leon shrugged. "Then it'll be your turn to drive down to see me."

Beau smiled. "Gladly."


The extra long links to Taking the Fall Line:
And to the Snowed In anthology:

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Queer Sci Fi's Flight

This was my second year of being included in Queer Sci-Fi's micro-story collection. The theme was Flight, however you might interpret that one word, and the goal was to write a story 300 words or less.

I did, and was pretty proud of my efforts. An except from my story, Stronger Than Flight, can be found at the bottom of this post.

Here's the official blurb-y thing that goes with the release:

front-coverThe 2016 Queer Sci Fi Flash Fiction anthology, "Flight", is here, and I have a story in it! It's a really cool concept:

A 300-word story should be easy, right? Many of our entrants say it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever written.

Queer Sci Fi's Annual Flash Fiction Contest challenges authors to write a complete LGBTQ speculative fiction micro-story on a specific theme. "Flight" leaves much for the authors to interpret—winged creatures, flight and space vehicles, or fleeing from dire circumstances.

Some astonishing stories were submitted—from horrific, bloodcurdling pieces to sweet, contemplative ones—and all LGBTQ speculative fiction. The stories in this anthology include AI’s and angels, winged lions and wayward aliens. Smart, snappy slice of life pieces written for entertainment or for social commentary. Join us for brief and often surprising trips into 110 speculative fiction authors’ minds.

The book us available in eBook form (4.99), and will soon be available in paperback with b/w illustrations inside (12.99) and in a special collector's edition with color illustrations (24.99).

Buy Links

Amazon eBook | Kobo | All Romance | Goodreads


Alleta strode into class with only one perfectly formed wing draped in resting position. After checking in, she faced the room with a look so fierce and defiant that Daria smiled. Smiles must not have been what Aletta expected, nor the total lack of plumage against Daria's back, because her next expression—of awe and sudden interest—made Daria's heart beat in her chest as if it had become caged for the first time.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

One Pulse, charity anthology, now available

Dreamspinner's One Pulse charity anthology became available this week (on the 19th). It's got so many good looking stories, and the authors and editors have volunteered their time, efforts, and talent. The proceeds go toward LGBT organizations in central Florida.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

exercise today, not so much writing

Last weekend (on my mini writing escapades) I buckled down and got lots of words on the page. This weekend I'm going to focus on getting in some exercise. Writers sit on their bottoms too many hours of the day, and I do not want to let my cardiovascular system get lazy. So, today, I'm off to seek adventure!

Friday, September 16, 2016

on the otherside of my writing getaway

I had a mini writing retreat last week. (Sometimes people call this house/pet sitting.) And it really worked. I wrote over 10k and finished a novella sized story.

This is really exciting. Now for some of the difficult editing work!

Free Fic: Head Musician Duties

Mackie checked the envelope he’d written out notes upon. He probably should use regular pieces of paper, but he’d grown up frugal and old habits were hard to break. Old envelopes, the backs of receipts, and junk mail were all turned into useful places to jots notes and make lists.

He still had quite a bit to get done before the concert that evening, but he was definitely on schedule. Nothing out of the ordinary needed solving. He glanced left and then right. His bandmates were all taking care of their own business. His roadies had everything in hand. The band manager was nowhere to be seen, but most likely she was off doing something paperwork related.

“Mack, I swear, this is the last time we’re coming here, right?” Jesse said as he tightened things on his drum set. “I just called to have pizza delivered and they said we were outside their delivery zone. This place is the absolute boonies. Why do you keep requesting we come here?”

“Pizza, Jesse? Seriously? You’re supposed to be eating better than that. Kidney stones, remember?” Mike said. He played bass, and was one of Mackie’s oldest friends.

“That happened only once and it was because I was dehydrated.”

“Because you ate fried chicken for a week and you wouldn’t know a vegetable if it bit you on the ass.” Mike rolled his eyes. He lugged a box around and started taking items out one by one, most of them wires of one sort or another.

“Don’t change the subject,” Jesse said. “Why are we in this forsaken pit again?”

“I like it here,” Mackie said. “And I fully intend to come back here. If you don’t like it, you have choices.”

Mike’s eyebrows shot up, but he didn’t said anything.

Jesse sighed dramatically. “Whatever. Where you go, I go. It’s not like there are a lot of headlining drummers. I’m not stupid.”

“I don’t do drugs, drink to excess, or shortchange you in the profits,” Mackie said. “So if I want to come here and play once or twice a year, then we’re going to.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Mike said. “We get it. You have a soft spot for the venue. We all have our peculiarities.”

Jesse scoffed. “And Mackie’s the most peculiar of them all!” He lifted a cymbal that hadn’t been secured in place yet and hit it with his finger. It made a twangy jangle of a noise. “Should I get that tuned?” Jesse asked, teasing them. “Anyone got a tuner? Pitch pipe? Can I get a middle C?”

Mike shook his head and walked off stage. “I need a beer,” he said.

Mackie nodded. He wanted one too. Jesse usually caused that reaction. He was so used to Jesse’s flippant nature that most of it rolled off, but sometimes there was no putting up with the ridiculousness that came out of Jesse’s mouth. In which case, a beer and some quiet time were the best options.

“Joking! I’m joking!” Jesse said. “I love this venue. It’s so small and intimate. And such a moneymaker.” He snorted. “For the owner. Maybe not for us.”

“I’m going to check on the list of songs for this evening, make sure everyone has the right copy,” Mackie said. “Be back in a couple minutes.” He needed at least half an hour to ratchet down the frustration level he felt with Jesse. Jesse wasn’t always this way. Nights when they performed seemed to ramp him to excess. But even knowing that, Mackie wanted some quiet away time. Frustration and annoyance were best headed off early.

“Sure thing,” Jesse said. His attention drifted back to his work and his motor-mouth stopped.

Mackie took a few seconds to check his envelope again and adjusted a few things on stage. A feeling came over him of being watched and he looked up. Conrad was in the small, elevated alcove that overlooked the stage. Mackie felt his mouth grow dry and his stomach clench. A warmth spread across his cheeks and he couldn’t help but let the predatory, hungry smile touch his lips.

The entire reason he always returned to this venue had everything to do with Conrad, and the glorious after concert opportunities.

Conrad smiled back and then retreated into the shadows of the alcove. That would come later. First, the concert.

Mackie left the stage, refocusing on his tasks at hand.

Sunday, September 11, 2016


I made this soup for dinner:

It was really good for my headcold, and very filling!

Quick recipe:

~olive oil heated in a pan
~cut up onions, garlic, carrot; cook until soft
~add in spices that you like, I used cumin, pepper, salt, paprika, Italian seasonings
~let the spices toast for a moment or two
~add in soup stock, I used chicken, but any would be fine, about 4 cups worth
~add in some chopped up roma tomatoes
~add in chopped up zucchini
~add in beans of your choice, I used white kidney beans
~let simmer for some time to allow the flavors to meld
~rummage through your fridge to find things that will make the soup taste better, some options: fish sauce (it sounds bad, but it is a miracle), mustard, soy sauce, hot sauce (not too much), etc. You're looking for something to make the umami flavor increase
~take off the heat; juice of one lemon or lime, add in

Then eat!

Friday, September 9, 2016


A headcold crept over me this afternoon and suddenly the plans I had for my weekend have changed.

Looks like hot cups of tea with honey for me and a lot of napping on the couch. Perhaps there will be writing, but first there will be snoozing!

Free Fic: Head Custodian Duties

Conrad considered the space and was satisfied.

As head custodian of The Azure LimeLighter's concert arena, it was his responsibility to ensure that all remained organized. He did everything from replacing burnt out bulbs to accompanying the Fire Marshal when she made her rounds for inspection. Conrad always made sure his location was in top shape.

He stood in the small, raised alcove to the side of the stage where he could see everything. Only he and the owner had the keys to this spot. It was useful to be able to see the stage, backstage, and the audience area at the same time. There were a few corners at the wrong angle to peer into, and of course there were dressing rooms in the back that were private, but otherwise, Conrad could watch and observe the entirety of his kingdom.

At the moment set-up was still ongoing. Although there was no way to know it inside the building since the few windows were all blacked out, it was still early afternoon outside. The crew for tonight's performance were unpacking boxes, laying out wires, adjusting chairs and microphones and whatever else needed adjusting. Members of the band milled about on the stage, taking care of their own issues and equipment.

Conrad had already done his work to make the place presentable. He remained in case the set-up crew ran into an issue, which sometimes they did and sometimes they didn't.

The sound of the key in the lock alerted Conrad to the owner's presence. She had come up to the alcove to survey her domain.

"Hi, Conrad," said Alyssa as she entered the space. She was a small woman, but her personality made her seem larger. Her voice, even when pleasant, brimmed with self-assuredness. Conrad really liked her as a boss. "How's it going out there?" she asked.

"Okay," he said. "This crew knows what they're doing. I don't think there will be any problems."

"No kidding," Alyssa said. Her expression mixed disbelief and glee. "Mackie's team are top professionals. Why Mackie schedules us in, when he's usually working much larger venues, I do not know. But I'm grateful for it."

Mackie's band was big time. They weren't Platinum Album big time, but they were a massive draw. Mackie's songs played on the top 40 stations. His albums caressed the charts, never making it to the top twenty, but hinting at stardom. It was a matter of time before one of his songs shot through the roof, but in the meantime, he was becoming a household name.

"They like coming here," Conrad said. "They like this location."

"Thank god they do," Alyssa said. "They're boosting my business a thousand-fold." She took a deep breath. "I'd better go check in with them face to face. Let me know if you need anything."

"Okay," Conrad said. He doubted he would.

As his boss exited the alcove, Conrad saw that Mackie himself had come onto the stage. He spoke with his bandmates for a few minutes, motioning with his arms a few times. Conrad leaned forward a little, moving out of the hidden recesses of darkness and into the light. Most everyone knew the alcove was there, just that access was restricted. Mackie knew it too. His conversation with his band ended and he looked up. A ferocious gleam entered his eyes when he saw Conrad and a wolfish grin touched his mouth. The moment after it manifested, he'd banked the expression away.

But Conrad had seen. Conrad shifted away from the front of the alcove, becoming hidden once more.

There was a reason Mackie scheduled The Azure LimeLighter on his tours. It was because of Conrad. And Conrad looked forward to the end of the show.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

fics that are upcoming

Only two days until Friday -- and I'm back this week and next week with two fics that are related to each other. The same moment, just from the perspectives of two different characters. It gives one an appreciation for just how difficult it is to do that type of scene, there are a lot of bits and pieces to keep in mind. These are very short fics, so it is easier to do, but I've read some authors' works where the entire thing revolves around perspective shifting. Impressive.

And, if fall ever starts to come around, instead of muggy summer, I will post an additional ficlet I've been saving for just that time of year. I have "Taking the Fall Line" in the Snowed In Anthology at Torquere, and I have a follow-on tidbit that covers the two characters after they've done all the hard work of realizing they are falling for each other. But I would like to at least have a crisp fall morning to remind me what it feels like! Then I can get a little more excited about the fall and winter seasons coming around with all the opportunity for winter sports like skiing and snowshoeing!

In the meantime, the Anthology and the story can be found here:

Those aren't very pretty links, but they'll take you there.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Holiday Weekend Update

Ah, the third and last day of the holiday weekend. How did it go by so fast?

I am pleased to announce that the giant heaping mounds of laundry have been tackled. A small pile is left to fold and put away, but otherwise, everything is clean and luxurious once again!

Also organized was the monstrosity that masqueraded as my closest. It was getting very close to that cartoon joke where the person opens the door and everything dumps out on their head, covering them in a pile of stuff. My closet is now organized and safe from that dangerous mishap. It is still full of too many things, but everything is properly perched on a shelf, instead of teetering indelicately over an edge.

Still to work on this weekend, though, is the clutter. Our lives seems to be filled with bits of paper. Even with the internet and everyone trying to go paperless, there still seems to be a lot of the stuff. Granted, I have not chosen paperless versions of everything--I manage much better when I have a piece of paper to cart around to remind me of things, or to read from--but I am somewhere in the 50/50 range of that. An awful lot of what comes at me is electronic.

I have a few special projects for today: some sewing time (the seams on things come loose, and I don't need to replace a blanket when I can fix the hem on it), some cooking time (an amazing chickpea curry recipe that I want to try out for the first time), and some writing time. I have an honest-to-goodness long story that is becoming something amazing, and it needs tender loving attention.

Have a fantastic day!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The longer the To Do List, the shorter the weekend

Even with a 3 day holiday weekend -- which I don't get to spend having fun -- I am far behind the times on my household tasks. I don't mind missing out (well, I do, but really) because I played a bit over the summer. I had my fun time. Now is my work time. I've got piles of laundry, dishes, and two very crammed-full closets that need re-ordering. Plus many other chores to see to. On Wednesday I'm going on a semi-writing retreat, but to get to that point, I've got to get things organized!

I hope everyone else out there is having more fun this weekend, and less work!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

ficlets upcoming and postponed

I missed two weeks of Free Friday Fic because I got bogged down with regular life activities and then this week (tomorrow), the Free Fiction Friday group is going on a one day hiatus anyway!

But, I do have some ficlets ready to go. Two of them, in fact. And they are two perspectives on the same scene. Well, those will start showing up next week!

In the meantime, everyone who gets the Labor Day Holiday, I hope you have a fantastic weekend. See you on the other side!

Monday, August 29, 2016

a delicate balance

Writing takes a lot of time. I love writing, and enjoy doing it, but doing it involves taking a lot of time out from other activities. This is always a delicate balance.

I want to have enough time to actively assist my family and friends, and there are definitely demands on my efforts.

But I also want to have time to write and be creative.

Lately, things have definitely been balancing/tipping toward the family and friends arena, but it won't stay that way for the long term. The balance will come back. In the meantime, my head is still full of ideas and thoughts, I'm just tucking them away for use a little later.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

taking Friday off

I hope to be back next week with a free ficlet, but I may be going to an every-other week submission for it. The ficlets have been great to challenge me, but they do take up time and effort that I might be spending on a longer story that I'm working on. I am generally contemplating if I'm focusing on the right sort of thing, or if I should be concentrating more on my longer works. (When I say longer works, I mean that someday I hope to write longer than a short story -- an actual novella or novel would be so cool.)

Many thanks to the readers sticking with me, I hope the ficlets have been entertaining. :) I will be keeping them up, just not as often. I think I'd like to take a few more weeks off here and there, especially since high summer is finally cooling down and it looks like fall is going to be fantastic.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Nuts, Bolts, and Chihuahuas - Final Days

I wanted to take a moment to let readers know that my story with Torquere: Nuts, Bolts, and Chihuahuas, is going to be available for about a month and a half longer, and then it will be gone.

Here's the link to the story for purchase:

And, I had written two short extras that went along with the story. They make more sense if read after the main, original story, but they are still fun.

It was interesting to write about shifters, and particularly to write about dog-shifters. I love dogs, so I enjoyed thinking about how they would see the world and their mannerisms.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Free Fiction: Dream Big

"What do you think?" Aaron nudged Garrett with his foot. They were sitting side by side on the sofa with their feet up on the coffee table. Aaron had their son, Jute, on his lap. Jute was all of four years old and equal parts feisty and sweet. At the moment, since he was asleep, he was exhibiting sweet. An hour ago, he'd been running in circles around their home, screaming at the top of his lungs that he loved trucks.

"Think what?" Garrett asked. He bumped Aaron's foot back.

"For Jute. Swimming, right? The butterfly. Maybe an IM. Freestyle sprinter." Aaron brushed Jute's bangs out of his eyes. They'd been watching the Olympics and seeing so many athletes dream big and achieve bigger made him starry-eyed. It was easy to dream about all the things the future might hold. "He loves the water. And you see how he runs around here. He's going to be fast."

Garrett leaned back farther into his seat, snuggling more deeply next to his husband. "Are we going to play this game again?"

"I don't know what you mean." Aaron sniffed slightly, lifting his chin.

"Where you suggest every sport in the entire Olympic playbook, and I tell you he's going to be too busy getting his PhD. He's too smart to fall into that kind of braggadocio."

"Water polo, then," Aaron said.

"He's already reading. He knows all his colors. He can count to thirty." Garrett poked Aaron in the side with a finger. "Maybe a double doctorate. An MD and a PhD. He'll do research, but he'll also have patients." Garrett looked unfocused as he gazed into the future only he could see. "Accolades. Honorifics. Probably a tv show."

"If he doesn't want to be in the water, maybe he'll be a track star. He practically ran a marathon tonight after dinner," Aaron said. "What's sexier? Pole vault or long jump? I don't think I want him to be a thrower. They look angry all the time. Hurdles would be good. Hurdlers look intense, but they don't look like they want to smash your face in."

"Throwers look angry because the only time you ever see them is when they're throwing, or directly before. I bet if you went home with them, they're like soft, baby kittens with their families." Garrett made a tsking noise with his tongue. "There's no money in track and field unless you're a super star sprinter. If Jute is going to get scholarships to universities where he can get his degrees, we need to teach him more popular sports. Basketball. Baseball. Foot-"

"No football," Aaron said sternly. "Don't even say that word. You know how I feel about that sport. People get really hurt. Concussions that never really go away, and the more they look into it, the worse it is."

"Yeah, I know. But think of the glory." Garrett returned to his unfocused dreaming.

Aaron shuddered and rubbed Jute's back in the small space between his shoulder blades. Jute's adorable face was slack with sleep and he looked small and fragile. Aaron did not approve of football. He'd played it, and he'd seen what damage it did. He loved the game. There was nothing like it. Well, maybe not nothing. "Rugby?" he offered. "What do you think? It's rough and tumble. Maybe a little less awful."

"Same poison, different drink," Garrett said. "But, it does look like a lot of fun. Not a lot of scholarship money in it, though. Maybe we should think about teaching him a musical instrument. Something rare so everyone will want him. But nothing embarrassing. He should play the trombone or the French horn. Not the tuba."

"What if there's money in playing the tuba?" Aaron asked. "It's got a bad rap, so nobody plays it, which means everyone is desperate for tuba players.

"He'll get compressed discs. It's too heavy."

Aaron ran his hand through Jute's hair again. "Maybe we should just start being really frugal and save as much as we can. That way he can go anywhere he wants and doesn't owe anyone anything."

Garrett leaned over and kissed Aaron on the cheek. "You make the best plans."

Thursday, August 11, 2016

getting exhausted, backseat competing

Off to bed early this evening so I have to say goodnight to the Olympics early. If there's any way willpower and urging from my living room can make it to Rio, I've been sending all sorts of energy to Rio.

The cameras keep turning on the crowds, especially the parents of the athletes, and I think we're all feeling a little bit like them. I see the families twitching, leaning, tight shouldered, inching sideways, backways and forward, balancing, and breathing for the athletes. It is impossible to not cheer everyone on to their best.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

all the sports

Ficlet coming up this Friday. I've been glued to my tv, and checking out the news, since now I am well and truly absorbed into all the Olympic drama and gusto.

So, of course, I let my imagination wander a little bit afield to see how I could incorporate sports into a ficlet. The amazing thing is how much hard work is put into being an athlete by all the participants. And we're only seeing a fraction of people who've gotten lucky and been good enough to make it. There are so many other people who are dreaming and striving out there.

I just think of all the lonely times that these athletes must be getting up at dark-o-thirty to get to the gym one extra time before work, because I can only ever hope to have a sliver of that sort of dedication to anything. It's not just that the athletes are physically amazing, but that they have been amazing day in and day out to train, to make themselves that way.

Saturday, August 6, 2016


I almost forgot the Olympics started yesterday! I love watching the competitions -- although it is hard to watch because I always want everyone to win. I just like it when everyone does their best. But the Olympics are all about rewarding those who are at the top of their sport. Still, I like the stories.

I did take a break from writing to watch some of the beach volleyball, sculling, and swimming heats. It is so intense.

And I had a very good day of writing. Almost 3k words. Yay me!

digging deep in the basement

It has been a particularly hot and humid summer, and while it was cooling off at night, lately it has stopped doing this. Not a lot of air conditioning out this way, so today I am spending most of my day in the basement. It is much cooler down here. It also feels damp, but up top it is humid, so I think it is just a trick. I've got my laptop on my lap (naturally), and coffee at hand (which is empty, so I will have to sojourn to the upper levels to replenish).

I'm going to pop around and do some social media, and remind everyone I'm still here, still writing, and still living medium-sized. (I so badly want to write living large, but honestly, I don't. I have a modest, quiet life. Today's big outing was to the farmer's market. I bought honeycomb, yogurt, and tomatoes. There will probably be pasta primavera for dinner.)

And I'm going to do some writing. I've got a story I'm working on, draft name Pyre Snakes, which won't remain I'm pretty sure, and I'm enjoying the character building and the plotting right now.

Off to coffee-up!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Free Fic: Claret Decadence


"Now, this is nice." Max whistled as he entered the room.

"It's very red." Lucas nodded. "I don't remember this from the website."

"They didn't have photos of every room." Max turned a circle in the room. "Even the borders along the ceiling are red."

"It's only for a week, anyway." Lucas thumbed his way through the books piled on a side table. "And someone left a used glass here."

"The previous guests, I'm sure." Max picked up the glass. It was a gorgeous stemmed thing, with swirls in the glass, looking like a chalice for drinking wine. It instantly set him to craving something lush. He looked to Lucas, and reached out to catch the hand of his fiancé and pull him into a kiss. "You wait right here. I'm going to pour us a glass of wine and come back here."

"We haven't unpacked yet, or even seen the rest of the house."

"Don't care. Wait here, and you won't regret it." Max whisked the glass off to the kitchen. He set it on the counter and discovered, as he'd hoped, more clean ones of the same kind in a cupboard. They'd bought several bottles of wine with them from home, when they'd packed for this vacation and house rental. A quick dash back to the car netted him a bottle. There wasn't enough time to open it and let it air properly, but Max didn't care. He popped the cork, poured the wine, and brought the glasses back to the room.

Lucas sprawled on the grey couch, his head propped up with pillows, and one lanky leg over the back of the couch and one dangling off the edge. He'd been skimming through one of the books. "Poetry," he said, when he saw Max standing over him. "And not good poetry either. Industrial stuff. About machines and smog."

Max set the two glasses of wine on the mantle, where the light from the window bounced through them to the mirror and back again to smudge red-colored reflections on the ceiling and the floor. "Don't care," he said. He pushed his fingers past the waistband on Lucas' trousers, the backs of his fingers rubbing against soft skin. "You look good in this room." He pressed his face into the crook of Lucas' neck. "You smell even better."

He meant both compliments. Lucas was dark-haired and dark-eyed, with an olive-tone to his skin, that just made him fit absolutely perfectly into the red jewel tones of the room. Max wanted to have him, there on the couch, or on the thin blood-red rug on the floor, or in the window alcove with the sunlight streaming in on the pine floorboards and the decorated sides of the windows glowing in mulberry hues all around them.

"You are unbelievable," Max said, "You make me feel incredible." They were a jumble of arms and legs together, balanced precariously on a thin couch. He shifted up to kiss the skin beneath Lucas' jaw line and the pressure popped the two pillows into the air. The book of poems thudded to the floor.

"Yeah?" Lucas said, his voice a rasp of sound. "And that's why I'm going to marry you. Because you make me feel amazing, too."

Later, tired and happy, they curled around each other on the floor. Max looked up and saw the untouched glasses of wine on the mantel. He chuckled and pointed. "The thought of drinking wine in here with you, and ravishing you--I couldn't even wait to drink the wine. I went right to the ravishing."

"Remind me to paint the bedroom red when we get back home," Lucas said. "I like what it does to you."

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

some colors are more inspirational

The last of my series of room-colored ficlets will post on Friday, and it was my favorite of the rooms because I love the colors. The other rooms were better challenges, and they helped me to grow from the exercise of writing against what is easiest for me, but this deep red room was the most fun to write about.

I could have written several versions of this room. Part of me wanted to write vampire stories, ghost stories, throwback detective mystery stories, Gothic stories. Because that's where you find rooms imbued with this ruby color. But, I also wanted to keep with the same tone as the other ficlets. Those weren't supernatural thrillers. They were about ordinary moments and contemporary people.

But I did indulge a little. For sure, this one is going to be on the romance side of things.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Free Fic: The Garden Within


"It's been drizzling all day," Jake complained as he entered the hallway.

"It's good for the garden!" Amanda, his sister, called out from the side room.

Jake hung up his damp jacket and ran his hands through his hair to push out the droplets of water. "Yeah? It rained all day yesterday too."

"Rain is good for the soul," Amanda countered.

Jake turned the corner and stepped into what their mom affectionately called "the morning room" because the early morning sunlight would brighten everything until noon, and then everything would be cast into shadows. To enhance its nature, she'd painted the walls a dark, botanical green and the ceiling a delicate shade of frothy pink. In the sunlight, the room glowed with serenity. In the afternoon, it dimmed, and nobody went near it.

Amanda leaned against the pink cushioned chair while sitting on the floor. Spread all around her on the green carpet were cards and envelopes. The cards had beautiful fern fronds flattened and glued to the fronts. Half the envelopes were addressed and stacked, the others were spread out, waiting.

"What's this?"

"I'm inviting everyone to a garden party at the end of the month." Amanda reached under the pink chair and brought out a teacup. She sipped at it and lifted one eyebrow. "I'm going to invite Levi."

Jake groaned. "Can't you just let it be?"

"He broke up with Paul almost a whole month ago. If you wait any longer to tell him you like him, he's going to get snapped up by someone else. And those amazing parkour moves and perfect abs will go to someone else."

"Amanda," Jake warned.

"It might already be too late. But, in any case, I'm still going to have my garden party. Look." She pointed to the things spread around her. "I'm going to have tables with white tablecloths, and put a pink vase in the center. The ferns are always fresh looking, so I can make those into centerpieces. And I have a whole lot of this velvet ribbon. I'm going to turn it into streamers and bows." She yanked a green and gray striped napkin out from under a pile of fern cards. "And these, on the tables."

"Sounds nice."

"And, pots of tea. Pink hibiscus herbal tea. Plus cupcakes. I'm debating if using green food coloring is too much."

"It is," said Jake.

Amanda shrugged. "White cupcakes, then, and I can frost half with green icing and half with pink icing."

Jake made a face.

"It's a theme, dummy. You can't just have a haphazard party. You need a theme to pull it together." Amanda huffed. Then she pulled out a pink plate from beneath the chair, two pears rolled back and forth before she set it down. "Bowls of fruit on each table. Green pears, green apples. And some finger sandwiches."

"It sounds lovely," Jake said. "I'm sure it'll be a nice party."

Amanda grinned and picked up an envelope addressed to Levi. She pushed a card into it, licked the flap, and sealed it. She held it out to Jake. "This is Levi's invitation. Do me a favor and deliver it for me?"

"I can't decide if you're helping me or not," Jake said as he took the invitation.

"You know you love me." Amanda waggled her fingers at him to be gone. "Go."

Jake glanced to the window. The rain had stopped and the sun broke out from behind the mist. The room's demeanor changed with the brighter light from sulky to quirky and hopeful.

He had no excuses and only opportunity. "Thanks," he said as he left her behind to plot and plan her garden party, and he went out to see if a conversation might turn into something more.