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: