Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year!

Good-bye 2017, and hello 2018!

May we all be happier, healthier, and keep our wits about us in the next 365 days.

Best wishes to everyone out there!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Released today! A Piece of Ourselves

My Christmas story A Piece of Ourselves releases today!


Balancing holidays between two families can make cheerful celebrations into chores. Carson Benedetti's mom has overscheduled the Christmas holidays and she's more than insistent that boyfriend Tynan Harris come into the family fold. There's so much to do Tynan can't find time to bring Carson over to his own family and he feels like they are being left in the dust.

​After dating for nine months, and with their relationship becoming more serious, Tynan's patience is sorely tested by the multitude of Benedetti family traditions keeping them busy. Tynan needs to figure out how to find some breathing room, split their time more fairly, and make Christmas more than just tradition by rote.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christmas stories

I love Christmas movies. I can happily watch some truly terrible, cheesy, badly produced movies and be very happy. I know it was a massive hit and everyone loves The Christmas Prince, but I had to pause it partway through because I cringed a tad too much at the plot setups. Although I really liked the little sister and will get back to watching it just for her, I need to do it some other day.

The Netlfix released another Christmas movie, which I just finished watching, A Christmas Inheritance, which was on the watchable side of cringe. I'll have to expound on what elements work or don't work (for me, obviously, others' mileage always varies). But what I really, really wish had happened was that they'd switched the two actors between the un-worthy fiance part and trueheart inn manager part. I think both actors did great jobs as they were, but I think it would have been significantly more fantastic to see those roles reversed. (I wish they could film movies twice or three times, and switch up roles -- do the scenes exactly like they are, but with actors in different roles, and release the movies each way!)

Two articles I found about the release:

And since I'm on the subject of Christmas stories, I'm going to plug my very own. (I love Christmas stories, so I wrote one! I intend to write more!)

I think it is a little less formulaic, but just as fabulous.

"A Piece of Ourselves", at Mischief Corner Books
on sale now, and releasing on Dec 23rd -- only 6 days away!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

guest post about "A Piece of Ourselves"

My guest post is up!

Go here:

My story is part of their A Holiday to Remember series and it is already on pre-sale, and becomes available December 23rd, which is shockingly close right this moment! (How does times fly?)

Thursday, December 14, 2017


Today is the vote by the FCC on Net Neutrality. (You know this is serious since I used all-caps in my title to this post.)…/why-net-neutrality-matters-even-in…/

I've been calling my members of Congress to keep encouraging them to speak up about this issue. (It is the FCC's vote, but obviously our elected officials vocal opposition can make things hot.)

I've been calling the FCC and leaving messages there, and sending them legitimate on-line comments (check out the furor over all the bot, fake, and stolen id comments) as well.

I've been posting and tweeting about this issue for a while now, and there has been a lot of other news that has taken away focus from it (important news, to be sure, but today this is important.)


No matter how you feel about any other issue, this particular issue is going to personally impact you -- and very negatively if net neutrality is taken away.

Net neutrality (which is a great term, but a little clunky for most people who haven't run across it before) is your lifeblood on-line. It is what makes everything possible without 'nickle and dime'-ing you to a penniless death.

Today is the day to raise your voice.

Do not let the FCC take away net neutrality.

You're going to miss it when it is gone.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

short days, long walks & soup

These days that are so close to the winter solstice are so short on daylight that it is hard to get anything done. It being Saturday, I did get out for a very long walk after bundling up for the cold. It was lovely to breathe the fresh, cold air and to meander around the neighborhoods -- of which I found a few streets I'd never gone down before. Then I came home and made a creamy, warm mushroom soup and had quite a bit extra, so I know I'll have some for later in the week when some even colder weather comes in.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Dreamspinner .99 coupon today

My stories sometimes qualify for the sales and coupons that Dreamspinner offers, and this is one of those times. This is a really good deal!

It's for books that came out prior to July 1, 2017 -- and How Sweetly the Whippoorwill Sings makes this date easily as it is one of my oldest stories, but Pyresnakes just ekes in as it came out on June 28th, 2017. So, grab this opportunity to go get something to read!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

as the months go zooming past

And December is going to be even more busy than November. January will be slow, right? Right?

So far I've been up to my eyeballs in trainings and fixing other people's problems.

And how is it that Christmas is zooming at me so quickly? I haven't even made it to the Post Office for stamps yet!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

35% sale at Dreamspinner

Dreamspinner is doing one of their best sales -- 35% !

Here's the main page:

You can find all sorts of great stuff there.

And if you've been waiting for a sale to grab my stories, here's a quick series of links!


How Sweetly the Whippoorwill Sings:

And a link to all of my books;

November roundup

I know I've been a little missing for November, but it ended up being a very busy month. I am going to do a little roundup of all the things going on that have been keeping me hopping.

Some time off -- I took a little time off to refresh, rejuvenate, and re-calibrate my whole life attitude, I recognize that not everyone gets to do this fabulous thing, which makes me sad, because everyone needs downtime; when I came back, I was calmer and feistier, which are not necessarily competing elements of a personality, I really feel more able to deal with some of the curve-balls in life, but yet willing to take on the fights and battles that need to be dealt with

Writing -- did some writing for a friend which was fun and kept my skills honed, but also gave me a little more freedom to be silly or risky in my writing, sometimes I self-edit even as I'm writing and I know this is great for later on, but does stifle some creativity

Editing -- always editing, because editing is endless

Ancillary work -- this is all the promo stuff I need to do, and I'm working on some of it this very week!

New work reveal -- the cover and the buy link went live for "A Piece of Ourselves" from Mischief Corner Books with a release date of December 23rd -- which is just days before Christmas!

Laundry - ha ha ha! No. I'm digging in the closet to find some clean clothes and wearing a lot of funky outfits. I'll start laundry again in December.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

upcoming new release: A Piece of Ourselves

My wonderful new Thanksgiving to Christmas story will be released Dec 23rd through Mischief Corner Books:

A Piece of Ourselves
by Tray Ellis

Balancing holidays between two families can make cheerful celebrations into chores. Carson Benedetti's mom has overscheduled the Christmas holidays and she's more than insistent that boyfriend Tynan Harris come into the family fold. There's so much to do Tynan can't find time to bring Carson over to his own family and he feels like they are being left in the dust.

​After dating for nine months, and with their relationship becoming more serious, Tynan's patience is sorely tested by the multitude of Benedetti family traditions keeping them busy. Tynan needs to figure out how to find some breathing room, split their time more fairly, and make Christmas more than just tradition by rote.

I love this cover! The candle has real significance within the story, who can resist a handsome man who rolls up his sleeves like that and means business(!), and the curly-ribbon font used for the title makes me happy every time I follow its flowing swoops!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Thursday, October 26, 2017

grumpy people day

Something got into the water today because the majority of people I came across today were seriously dour. I mean grumpy, snarky, making nasty under-their-breath remarks, answering my word of "thanks" with some type of criticism.

I know the world is pretty harsh right now, and it isn't at all easy to fight that malaise, but don't give up.

Or at least, don't take it out on me.

Monday, October 23, 2017

eggplant in purgatory

I tried an eggplant recipe today and it wasn't terrible. I generally am averse to the flavor of eggplant. I like it okay when it is completely covered up with tomato sauce and cheese and there is frying involved, but the fresh eggplant recipes, not so much. I don't know if I'd try this recipe again, but while I wasn't in love with the flavors, I didn't find it off-putting. I am actively working on this eggplant thing. It's a good vegetable. It'd be nice to actually appreciate it.

I do, however, love the title of the recipe.

autumn stream

I went for a hike last week and took this picture while crossing a stream. It's a little dry, so the water is low, but it is a beautiful spot. Not entirely unlike the river area I'd imagined for Pyresnakes, although that definitely had more water in it! But the rocks are similar.

Saturday, October 21, 2017


Editing today.

I apparently have a love of dashing words that don't need dashes. They do make things look more festive! But they do need some weeding out.

To-day I am edit-ing hard-core! ;-P

Thursday, October 19, 2017

reminder post: In Anger Blooming

I haven't mentioned this in a bit, so I think it is time -- and with Halloween just around the corner, this short story has a creepy, spooky element to it that is perfect for reading this time of year.

And, best part, the story is free!
Find it here:

In Anger Blooming summary:

Hayden's hair-trigger temperament blows up spectacularly and he storms out of the house he shares with his boyfriend, Russ. To calm down he sets off for a hike on a nearby trail. Partway up Hayden meets another hiker, Griege, who seems like a friend, but who has a dark side. Griege has been waiting for Hayden and planning his revenge.

candy corn pumpkins

Uh oh. I got into the Halloween candy tonight. I just could not stop eating candy corn and those candy corn pumpkins. I like both, but something about the pumpkins is more toothsome.

I need to go buy more to replenish what I've devoured.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

blurbity blurbity

I've been working on blurbs this week. I'm so grateful there are quite a few websites out there with advice on how to craft a good one. Isn't it funny how you can write and write and write a story, and then agonize over 200 words?

Monday, October 16, 2017

hard frost

There's a hard frost tonight so I went and got out the last of the veggies -- two more cucumbers, and all the basil. I spent the night making pesto. Yum. I'll freeze whatever I don't use and will have fresh pesto in the deep winter sometime.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

so long weekend

The weekends seem to fly by faster and faster each time. This one barely stopped to flutter its wings. I did catch up on a little sleep.

I hope everyone out there was able to spend their weekend (what there was of it) wisely!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

fall colors

I went for a drive this morning (on my way somewhere, not just a joyride) and went through some gorgeous autumn scenery. I thought with the strange weather this year that things would be brown, but the colors are slowing turning. Not as vivid as last year, but still really lovely. If you're anywhere close to some foliage, get out and see it, it is ephemeral and doesn't last long.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

letting the quiet part of my brain do the work

So to avoid writing a particularly difficult emotional scene, I have stolen away to the kitchen. I've now made a load of bread, 1-pot lentil dahl (it was delicious), and have a tamale casserole baking in the oven. I am back at the computer and am going to tackle that scene.

Only half the dirty dishes got cleaned, but that's okay.

I don't actually see the procrastination as a bad thing. Sometimes you need to let your subconscious work on issues outside your active mind so that you can get things in order. Very much like the "sleep on it for one night" concept. Things can be much easier when you walk away and then come back.

plenty of links and a few recs

I thought I'd take a moment this morning to throw out some links to various things.

First, links to my goodreads and librarything accounts, because I've been using them to load up books I've been reading and listening to. I'm actually surprised at how many things I read that aren't necessarily primarily romances. I think this is a good thing. I use reading as a way to learn about the world and ways to think about the world, so exploring a variety of topics can only make me a better writer.

And I wanted to give a shout out to Delilah and her new story, The Bounty:

She's a very good writer with a great sense of character and plot.
I've been included in two anthologies she has put together.
Here they are:

(het stories, for those who lean that way)

And, then on the m/m and other wonderful orientation and identity side of things:

An awesome looking noir and vampire story by Kim Fielding:
(pre-order, it looks very good!)

And Skylar M. Cates very intriguing story about athletics:

And, now I'm off to do some cooking for the day and make some healthy lunches for the week. I came across this link to a lentil dahl recipe:
I love curry and I like using ingredients that are good for me (like lentils, which rock the world) so I'm going to give this one a try and see how it turns out. It also looks like it will take very well to freezing, which makes life so much easier to have back-up food in the freezer than can be microwaved at a moment's notice.

Friday, September 29, 2017

the list of books I couldn't find

After coming across the controversy here today , wherein I suggest any readers only take in the letters/articles, and don't look at too many of the comments because people are so full of rage and indignation that it practically saturates through the page and reaches out to give you a headache (I now have a headache), I was thinking about how this was still Banned Books Week.

I wondered...are there any lists of books that have never been banned?

I found lots of lists of banned books, with some spectacular recommendations:

I found a few books that people seemed to think weren't too controversial. But I couldn't find a list (and perhaps it only because my google-powers are less than intimidating) of books that have not ever been challenged. It makes me wonder, why are humans so darn intent on keeping others from exploring, from learning to think for themselves? Because it is a means of control, I think is at least one major answer. So, it follows on, that the groups working to do the banning must be given the side-eye of alarm.

Keep thinking for yourself. Keep questioning. Keep researching. Keep on.

May your library card never fail you.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

a misty snippet set after Pyresnakes

Not too long ago, there was a very misty day here and it made me think I should have written in more scenes of a foggy nature into Pyrensakes. I'm not going back to change that story, but I can press on with a few snippets of follow-on adventures as the whim strikes me! So, indulge me, and I hope you enjoy a moment of Wysta and Ruth having a foggy, misty day of their own.


"Where are we?" Ruth tried to peer out the window but a thick fog banked against the glass. A lichen covered rock jutted up through the dense grayness but the world clouded away beyond that to a space where depth had no meaning.

"You said you wanted a view so I took us to the top of the nearest mountain." Wysta filled the kettle with cold water and set it on the burner. "There should be a lovely vista."

"Stop making tea for one minute and come over here." Ruth moved from the window. She flung open the door. An unsettling mist pervaded the world, cloaking anything more than a few feet away. "We're socked in!"

Wysta joined Ruth at the door. "Do you think it'll burn off later on?"

Ruth waved her hand through the pea-soup air. She could feel the air move, but the blanket of light gray didn't shift at all. "I think this is cloud cover. Without a breeze, this is going to sit here all day."

"Not much of a view." Wysta made a face. "I'll move us again."

Ruth shut the door and turned back to face the kitchen. While the fog pressed gray and gloomy against the window, the kitchen glowed with warmth and comfort. She could hear the beginning pop-pop sound from the bottom of the kettle signaling that the water would boil very soon and she smelled the barest hint of the cream scones baking in the oven. Tea and scones against the press of a shroud of gray-white.

"Maybe later," Ruth said. "Let's have breakfast first. You know, it does give us the perfect excuse to curl up on the sofa with our books. We have been so busy sightseeing that I can't remember the last time we spent a day relaxing."

"Ah," said Wysta with an indulgent smile. "A view of a different sort. Not a bad plan. Let's do it."


Pyresnakes can be found at Dreamspinner Press here:

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

the freedom to read

Celebrate the freedom to read!

It is Banned Books Week.

The week we remember that censorship tries to define what we're allowed to know and think, and what we're not. (All the better to control us, eh?)

But that we will not accept that! Books are knowledge and freedom and opportunity.

Be daring, and read something.


The top ten challenged books by year.

What have you been reading?

Monday, September 25, 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Throwback Thursday about How Sweetly the Whippoorwill Sings

I had a wonderful post go up on Grace R. Duncan's blog where she does a regular feature focusing on stories that have been out for awhile -- it went live last week and I got caught up in the hurly-burly of life and didn't realize I hadn't shared the post with everyone on my blogs -- so here it now, with all the fanfare it deserves!

I discuss my story How Sweetly the Whippoorwill Sings -- which is a romantic get-together of Jake (brother to the bride) and Everett (best man to the groom). It's still September, so the sentiment of weddings in late summer/early autumn apply! Go and check it out!

Friday, September 22, 2017


I have an entry in the Queer SciFi 4th annual Anthology -- tell a story in 300 words or less, on the subject of "Renewal". And I understand there were 207 writers this year who gave it a go, their imaginations all ablaze.

I really liked my entry for this year. It was science fiction through and through, with a hint of looking back while looking forward, and still with a contemporary thread to it. I'm very proud of it.

You can find the anthology for sale here:

Thursday, September 21, 2017

pine needle rain

I went for a walk at lunch today in a wooded area. The pine trees are taller than the deciduous trees and there was a gentle breeze blowing. It sounded like rain when the pine needles dropped down onto the lower leaves, but there was nothing but gorgeous filtered sunlight. I was the only one on the trail and it felt a like a mini-symphony just for me.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

a variety of things

Dreamspinner has a sale going on, 10 books for $10 in their Young Adult fiction:

Shira Anthony had a release for a new book a few days ago:

She's one of those authors I love to read. Her style and form of storytelling make me happy.

And I am thinking I will get to bed early tonight. I've been working on my outline for a contemporary romance that I want to write, and daydreams of writing something outlandish and adventure-ish have been whispering in my ear. The problem right now is staying focused on one task at a time, or else I will have outlines stuffed into every drawer in my desk, but no finished stories!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

car wash magic

I totally treated my car to a car wash today. I hadn't been in a really long time (I know, that's not good) and it was dry, and I do really like the whole process. The circus-colored foam (yellow, pink, blue!) that gets sprayed on the car, the whirring, rotating rubbery scrubbers that go along each side and over the top. Then, my car comes out squeaky clean, and I've gone through a strange, magical, washing world.

Monday, September 18, 2017

fabulous grain bowl

Did some actual cooking tonight -- made one of those grain bowls that is getting so popular these days. Spaghetti squash, rice, chick peas, avocado, and a tahini-lemon sauce. It was delicious! And it made enough left overs so that I will have lunch tomorrow!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

mt biking

I went out mountain biking today and got pretty muddy -- but it was a great ride and I feel very virtuous for getting out and getting so much exercise. And a shower (and a good washing machine) took care of the mud bath.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

part of the writing process

I have been writing an outline for my next idea, toying with the structure of the outline a little. It is an interesting way to map out a story. I do find it brings up the blockages more quickly, so now I'm doing all that heavy thinking to come up with ways to make the story more action-y. I've used this process before -- it works well for me with some stories and less well with others. I can do the heavy thinking at all the odd times of day, but I know I'm going to have to clear some time if I want to get actual writing done!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

please go inside

Watching the news up here. I am more than a little perturbed by all the news people who are out in the storm -- standing on balconies, walking up and down streets, etc. I really don't need them to be out in the dangerous conditions reporting live just so I can see this stuff. Please go back inside where it is safe. I've turned off the tv and will check on-line print sources for updates, but really, society does not require this sort of thing for our news. And anyone who does doesn't have their priorities straight.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

tree stand

I saw this nifty tree stand the other day. They're such tall sentinels!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Dreamspinner sale and the last day of summer

Dreamspinner is having a 30% off everything sale! Here's their main page:

And direct links to my page with my stories:

This is a really good sale.

It is the last day of summer and while yesterday was gray and rainy and I did some noodling on the computer and some reading late into the night, today I am all about filling my cup with the last day of summer experiences. It is going to be another year before I feel the sun on my face, taste tomatoes fresh from the garden, pump up my bike tires for a cruise around the neighborhood, etc. (well, honestly, tomorrow is supposed to be rainy, but it isn't like I'll be out of tomatoes that fast, I can't quite eat them all in one day, but you know what I mean). Tomorrow is back to work. Today is relaxing on the deck with an ice tea and wearing my sunglasses.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

rain and loose ends

Rain is moving through the region -- the end of Harvey taking its sorry self away, and good riddance to it -- but it is raining on again and off again, so can't really go outside for any length of time. I'm sipping a cup of tea and checking through social media, and contemplating what my next writing project should be. I've got several competing ideas, but not quite sure which one has enough energy for me to get through to the end. I so dislike when I run out of steam in the middle and don't finish the story. Plus, I would love to write something a little longer than I usually manage.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

puny cucumber

From my garden last week. It's been a rough summer and I haven't gotten much, but this little cucumber was quite delicious. I put the penny in there for sizing help.

Monday, August 28, 2017

adopting pups

This story made my heart swell:

mossy rock

I saw this mossy rock area when I was hiking this past weekend. It's so lovely! It seems like the perfect spot to sit and rest for a bit.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

hold on, the weekend is coming

Only one more work day before the weekend! Hold on, hold on -- the respite is coming!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

hiking, recovery, and getting stuff done

Went for a grand hike yesterday that depleted my energy, so I ended up napping and sleeping until this morning. Mists at the top of the mountain really obscured any view, but it was still a lovely hike (that also burned loads of calories). I did get to see Ponyo last night, too, which was gorgeous. Such gentle, exciting stories.

Today is for attacking all the things that need doing. Laundry, bills, and those worrisome tiny things you put off until the last moment. They should take five minutes, but take 2 hours because you need one piece of paper with a date on it and you've stuffed it somewhere 'safe', which means it is safe from everyone including yourself and you have no idea where it is.

I've got the laundry on the line to dry. It is sunny and breezy, for once not raining, so that means I'm going to have sheets that smell of fresh air when I sleep on them. My dreams are going to be fantastic when I breathe in Sunday afternoon sunlight and wind all night.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

What shall I do this Sunday?

-- work out (done!)
-- eat waffles (done, and done, with blueberries)
-- laundry (not done)
-- pay bills ( not done)
-- reorganize closet which is a mess (not done, haven't done for three months, probably won't do)
-- write and/or edit (not done)
-- procrastinate by hopping about on the internet (done, extra done)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

40% off sale at Dreamspinner

Go and get some summer reading!
The code ELIZABETH is also on the front page. :-)

I suppose it would be too gauche to remind everyone my stories are there? No, no, not too much at all.

What are you waiting for? Go read!

I spent the morning waiting for my car at the shop today. Reading material of your own choosing is *essential*.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

squash, squash, and more squash

It is starting to be that time of the summer again. Zucchini and squash are bursting out all over. It's getting hard to keep up with it. No matter how much I eat, there's more squash.

Here's a photo of a friend's bounty from her garden. I helped pick.

What better way to bring up my story Operation Wild Thumb in the Simmer Anthology? Because that story is all about overgrown squash. I can't believe another summer has come and is going.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

what to do with the unwanted monster?

A little bit of a bummer. I'd experimented with writing a horror story (not romance!!) and it got turned down, so I have a scary story with no home. Horror isn't really my forte, but I enjoyed the process of stretching my writing abilities into something I'm less adept at. I'll definitely try again within the horror genre, and in the meantime let the story sit for a bit. Aging a story means when I get back to it, I can always give it a stiff edit that'll knock it into better shape.

it is the age of the cook out

July and August are definitely high time for cook outs. I've been going to them every other week or so. I even went to one today, a Wednesday, in the middle of the week! I am not even a little bit tired of cook out food. There was a gorgeous fruit salad today full of blackberries and mandarin oranges. Also, there was ice cream.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

windy but beautiful

It's a lovely weekend. I took a long bike ride this morning before it got too warm and sunny and now I'm witting outside in the shade with a cup of tea and my laptop. The wind picked up and is a bit blustery and blowing, but since there's barely a wisp of cloud in the sky and the sun is bright and strong, it is a lovely day. On the plus side, the wind keeps the mosquitoes away!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

oh right, remember this?

I have a few new followers here I think and it has been some time since I mentioned this free read by me, so I thought I'd make a mention of it again.

It is short and very sweet.

The Littlest Razzle-Dazzle
Roscoe's heart is broken, but that only means he is ready to meet his new best friend.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

paperwork paperwork paperwork

I feel like I'm drowning in paperwork at the moment. Some of it has to do with writing, but most of it has to do with all the other things that happen in life. Get your car inspected, pay bills, grocery lists, job related things that pile on. So much paperwork!

I started to get through the list tonight, but the more I do, the more I remember that I need to do!

Hiding under the covers until the weekend isn't too bad, right?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

NineStar and The True Love Curse

I had my fairy-tale story "The True Love Curse" accepted at NineStar! *jumps with joy*

I am really excited about this story. It's the sort of tale that really works well with my writing style and I have a lot of love for how I changed up the fairy-tale elements.

I'm sure I'll be talking about the process and the upcoming publication as things move along.

link to a post

Susan Saxx has a beach read book out and she's written it up on the Decadent Divas blog -- here's the link:

Her part is a little bit lower, so scroll down a bit.

And if you keep scrolling, there's a very nice entry about the journey on improving your writing and finding your way in submissions and publishing. It was a great reminder that this is a journey and I can improve every time!

in between project doldrums

So I'm in between projects at the moment and I need to start something new. I was scrolling through some of the publishing places looking for wanted submission inspirations and am going to let that gel.

I've got a short Christmas-themed story that doesn't currently have a home and am contemplating putting it up at smashwords. My story "In Anger Blooming" that is there has done well (it is free, so why not give it a read?) and it might be nice to have a second story over there.

It is a bit weird to be free-floating without a specific story that I am currently crafting, but also somewhat good.

Oh, and I came across this for any other author out there that might have interest:

Vinspire Publishing is opening up a one day submission opportunity to writers without agents to submit your story to them.

It looks like they want family-friendly young adult, but go and check out their page and see if it works for you!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

tasks done, off to have some fun

I've got my writing tasks done for the morning and now I can go romp and play. I think tacos are in my future!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

for tonight I format

I've been working diligently on two stories this month and tonight I move forward with the final phase: formatting. Everybody has slightly different requirements for what they want stories to look like, so this is always an exercise in following directions. When it is all done, I'm generally pleased to see how tidy my stories look.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

skipping tonight's mosquito feast

I'm skipping my evening walk and staying inside tonight. The mosquitoes will have to go hungry.

The nice thing about reading is that most stories don't focus on mosquitoes, and even if they do, when you put the book down, you haven't actually been bitten.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

all the mosquitoes love me; I hate them

I really, really dislike mosquitoes. I went for a walk this evening and they were out with a vengeance. I came home with 10 bites on my legs and several other near misses where I swatted them before they could jab me. Other nights have not been this bad, but the hot weather, humidity, late summer, high rainfall, etc. have conspired to create perfect conditions for the fiends.

I love to go for walks, and I had been waiting until evening so it wouldn't be so hot and directly under the glare of the sun, but now I've got the little monsters to contend with, I may have to give up walking for a bit. At least until conditions aren't quite so perfect to breed them.

And now I'm itchy....

Thursday, July 13, 2017

working for the weekend

I have a little chant in my head: one more day, one more day.

I'm ready for the weekend to start, that is for sure!

I don't get much writing done during the week, so weekends are important. I have two short stories that need editing this weekend, so I'm looking forward to starting that part of the process.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

mugi miso

How is it nobody ever mentioned to me there was a mugi (barely) variety of miso? I've tried white miso and red miso and liked both, but this mugi miso is incredible. It has all the umami. It is strong and vibrant and delicious. With all the recommendations these days to eat probiotic food, I think I found the one for me! (Kimchi, I still love you, too.)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

looking into the future

I got some good writing done this evening. About 1500 words on a sci-fi concept I've been mulling over. I am slowly working on more sci-fi ideas, which is a challenge. Looking into the future is a bizarre task to set for oneself, but it is one of the most distinct traits of humans. We constantly look into the future and plan for it, which makes our desire for sci-fi stories mean something more -- not only do we want to look into the future ourselves, but we want to know others' visions of the future as well.

Tomorrow will start the regular week. I hope everyone is ready to go and has a productive week with no bad surprises!

throwing up some links for Blue Collar

I'm throwing up some links to material for Blue Collar, A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology. It released at a busy time for me and I definitely made sure to post about my story, Full of the Wild Life, but didn't have as much up for the other stories by the other talented authors in the collection.

So, the main link to find the other links:
A quick scroll down the page will net some great blog posts from the authors. The giveaways are closed now, but it is still a solid way to become familiar with the authors and the stories available in the anthology!

Here are some direct links to a few of them;

And at Delilah's other blog, there were also a few specific blog posts by authors, giving insight to their work and efforts:

So if you are winding up your Sunday afternoon and need something to occupy your time, this is a great start! Happy link-hopping!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

this morning's nature walk

I went for a nice long walk this morning, first to a coffee shop for a cappuccino and a croissant and then for a long walk to burn off the cappuccino and croissant. Here's a photo of the woods, lovely not-so dark and not-so deep:

Friday, July 7, 2017

Friday evening and I'm editing

Ah, Friday. The work week is over and my writing work-weekend is beginning!

I don't usually stay up late on regular nights to edit because once I get going I don't want to quit and staying up too late means I'll be cranky in the morning, but on a weekend night, staying up late is fair game!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

working on a new story

Writers can only pat themselves on the back for finishing a story for a little while, then we're off on another tangent and thinking up more characters and storylines. Even with Pyresnakes only a week old, I'm already hard at work on some other ideas. One of them has an element of horror to it, which is a different direction than I usually write. It's been a way to stretch myself and see how far I'm willing to go into those scary places. And I am starting to wonder if I should be writing at night. Alone.

Excuse me, I need to go check that the door actually is locked....

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th!

Happy Independence Day everyone! As the day is winding down, I've been very grateful for a lovely long weekend, catching up on some sleep, eating at some cookouts, visiting family, and watching some fireworks and celebrations.

And I noticed that Pyresnakes is still on the very first page of Dreamspinner when I check on it:
So I'm excited about that! I know it won't last. Other authors are releasing their own fabulous stories and time marches on. But for today, there is a great deal to celebrate!

Monday, July 3, 2017

a top ten list on Aphs Book club

Today I've got a top ten list up at Alpha Book Club with a guest blog spot about Pyresnakes. I get into some thoughts about genre. And there's also a giveaway to enter -- you could win $15 to Dreamspinner -- that could be several books if you shop right!

Go here for my guest post:

Sunday, July 2, 2017

happy party weekend, with a few thoughts

With the 4th of July this coming Tuesday, this weekend has definitely been the one where everyone is having their cookouts and blowing off their (sometimes illegal) fireworks. Please be safe out there -- while they are fun, fireworks are dangerous too.

Also, remember the poor pets in others' homes. Dogs and cats have sensitive hearing and can be really upset by the loud booms. As it starts to get late into the evening, maybe save the rest of the fireworks for another (earlier) time, so everyone can get some rest.

May your cookouts be safe and delicious!

Friday, June 30, 2017

An interview at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

I got to do some deep thinking and some introspective sharing for an author interview I did at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. Interviews are funny things, you really have to chase down the thoughts and opinions that run freely around and around your head and get them written down. It's different from writing fiction because you're seeking the truth of what you think!

Here's the short link:

And the long link:

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Another Blog post, this time at Love Bytes

I have another blog post up today in celebration of my story Pyresnakes being released.

And I'm talking about snakes. Snaaaakkkkkeesss!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Blog Post at Dreamspinner

With my release today I also had a co-ordinated blog post!

I used it to talk about family love as well as romantic love. Aran's grandmother plays a big part in the story and I had some insight into that.

Go read:

Pyresnakes is released!

Pyresnakes is now released and available!! Please check it out!

Story summary:
There is another world existing alongside the one most see everyday, and although it is a place of magic and wonder, the dangers are very real.

Aran, an artist, grew up on his grandmother’s tales of the Side-by-Side world. He never expected his knowledge of folklore would aid his boyfriend, Brandon, in an arson investigation, but the snakes that burst into flames when agitated are something he recalls from those childhood stories.

When Aran vanishes, Brandon knows his time as a state trooper won’t help find him, so he enlists the aid of Aran’s grandmother, Ruth, and they venture into the Side-by-Side world.

But Aran has no memory of his life prior to crossing between worlds, and he’s enjoying the company of his handsome new companion, Ren. Even if Brandon and Ruth reach him, convincing him to return to his former home won’t be easy. In a contemporary fairy-tale adventure set among forests and trails, Aran must choose between a mystical fantasy world and the man he loves.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


I was hiking the other day and this spot seemed so picturesque, and very like some of the paths I imagined in Pyresnakes. The pine needles might look slippery, but they really aren't. When the sun hits them and they warm up, they can be very fragrant.

first in line!

Pyresnakes is the first book in the queue on the Upcoming page for Dreamspinner! I feel like I'm at the starting gate of a race and just waiting to get running! This is a thrill!

Blog Post at Divine Magazine

And today I have a blog post up at Divine Magazine talking about Pyresnakes!

Today I talk about falling in love and being in love and how that element plays out in my story.

Monday, June 26, 2017

above the cut line

Time is going by so fast! June 28th is right around the corner and this means my novella Pyresnakes has moved from below the cut to above the cut on the Upcoming page at Dreamspinner!

Small things make writers so happy. ;)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Rainbow Snippets for Sunday

With my novella Pyresnakes being released on June 28th, it makes perfect sense to bring out my 6 sentences from it for Rainbow Snippets this weekend.

Here are the 6:

He pressed soft kisses against Brandon’s hairline. “You smell like a campfire,” Aran whispered. “I kind of like it.”

Brandon rocked forward so he could encircle his arms around Aran and tipped his head back. He had to press up a little, given Aran’s tall and lanky build, but they’d done this a thousand times before, and it was easy to melt into the kiss. The sun-warmed scent of cedar and wood chips drifted over him again, and for a long moment Brandon lost himself in the pleasure of holding Aran, plundering the gift of his affections and building a promising heat between them.


And here's the link back to Rainbow Snippets:


erratic -- a geological term

In Pyresnakes I very briefly mention erratics -- a word somewhat obscure enough that my spellchecker doesn't like it -- but in this instance it is a noun and can be made plural.

It's a heck of a big boulder that got brought somewhere out of place by the slow movement of a glacier a very long time ago and left there. When you come upon them, you stare at them and think "wow, that's big and out of place", and you realize how puny you are and how powerful nature can be.

Here are links to two interesting erratics. The photos don't do them justice in terms of scale. I've been to one of them myself and it is astounding to stand next to one and gaze upon it and realize it is solid stone and it is *massive*.

MM GoodBook Reviews Blog Post

Here's the first of my blog posts regarding Pyresnakes!

MM Good Book Reviews graciously allowed me to post some thoughts about Pyresnakes and I touch upon romance, fantasy elements, the landscape, and the relationship between the two main characters, Brandon and Aran.

Go read!

And the link to the book for pre-order:

Monday, June 19, 2017

new story started

The goal is at least 15k words and I'm already up to 11k. It's been a real pleasure writing this one -- I figured out the entire plot prior to even starting to write and now it is just a matter of hitting the marks as I work through it. A few things have surprised me as I've worked on it, for instance, I didn't anticipate the structure that it would take, or that I'd chose a more limited POV.

It's back to the grindstone tomorrow, though, and I hope I will be able to finish this story next weekend!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

sticky post updated

Over at my Dreamwidth blog I maintain a sticky post with my up-to-date links for what is available. I usually get it updated once or twice a year because writing can be a slow-moving business, so I don't have a lot of changes.

Except for this time!

I had changes! Lots of changes!

I have THREE new things available:

Pyresnakes, which is coming available on June 28th! (male/male)

"Full of the Wild Life", a story in the Blue Collar Anthology (het)


"In Anger Blooming", a short, free read that I have up at smashwords (male/male)

Here is the link to the sticky post:

Friday, June 16, 2017

upcoming blog posts for Pyresnakes

I've been working diligently behind the scenes to create some very interesting blog posts about content within Pyresnakes (how do I feel about snakes? what about the very strong secondary grandmother character? what genres got all mixed into the story?) and coming up in about 10 days, those posts will go public.

I will be pointing them out and giving links as they go live!

In the meantime, here's the pre-order link to Pyresnakes at Dreamspinner:

And I'm excited to see my story creeping up the rows on the upcoming tab:
I'm on the third line which is juuuuuust below the cut. That sort of thing is important to authors, you know. ;)

Just to re-cap, here's the story teaser:

There is another world existing alongside the one most see everyday, and although it is a place of magic and wonder, the dangers are very real.

Aran, an artist, grew up on his grandmother’s tales of the Side-by-Side world. He never expected his knowledge of folklore would aid his boyfriend, Brandon, in an arson investigation, but the snakes that burst into flames when agitated are something he recalls from those childhood stories.

When Aran vanishes, Brandon knows his time as a State Trooper won’t help find him, so he enlists the aid of Aran’s grandmother, Ruth, and they venture into the Side-by-Side world.

But Aran has no memory of his life prior to crossing between worlds, and he’s enjoying the company of his handsome new companion, Ren. Even if Brandon and Ruth reach him, convincing him to return to his former home won’t be easy. In a contemporary fairy-tale adventure set among forests and trails, Aran must choose between a mystical fantasy world and the man he loves.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Blue Collar party tonight

The Blue Collar party on Facebook is ongoing now! Come join us! I'll be posting a little later tonight.

And Adele Downs did a marvelous post about the Anthology and her story in it, go look:

Belinda LaPage has a great contest available for her story, go see here:

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Blue Collar is now available!

Blue Collar (A Boys behaving Badly Anthology) is now available! Here's the amazon link;

There are some really great authors that I'm pleased to be included with.

We're planning a Facebook party tomorrow, which you can visit with the authors:

It's from 3 until 10 pm CDT, and I'll be there a little later in the evening!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Full of the Wild Life

I've got a short story in the Blue Collar Anthology: Boys Behaving Badly
Amazon link:

I'm one of 16 stories, and they are all fabulous!

I have a teaser for my story:

The other teasers are just as hot, and I'll share them at some point soon!

(For those readers of mine that come for the m/m, please note that sometimes I do dabble in m/f, and this is one of those times. It's still a story about a really attractive guy who works out in the Alaskan wilderness!)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

story accepted to the SciFi Renewal Anthology!

My story "Fresh Start" is among those selected to be included in the Queer SciFi Anthology, this year's theme being 'Renewal'. This is very exciting!

I have two other big things being published this month (Pyresnakes, and also a story in the second Boys Behaving Badly Anthology) so I'm feeling very much on top of the world.

Here's the link to the announcement on FB:

Monday, May 29, 2017

And to show off my gorgeous cover....

And now I'd like to show off the gorgeous cover.

I love it. There is so much of the story built into this artwork that I am sometimes astounded, and even with that, it's plain gorgeous.

Whoohoo!!! Pyresnakes is available for pre-order!

Pyresnakes is now available for pre-order! Here's the link:

You'll need to scroll down since the release date is June 28th, so it is a month (minus 1 day) away, so it is toward the bottom.

This is EXCITING for me!!

When you're editing and editing and doing more editing, everything feels so far away, and now it isn't!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

working diligently on my posts

The publishing of any new book always involves making sure to get the word out that the book is out. So I've been diligently working on creating posts on interesting topics about Pyresnakes. Once they start posting, I'll make sure get links up to them here!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

things will heat up soon

I've got my book Pyresnakes coming out at the end of June, and I'm currently ramping up to start posting about it. So, enjoy the quiet for the moment, and be prepared for when I start posting and writing and being all manner of peppy and upbeat!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

A very happy mother's day to everyone!

If you're the traditional definition of mom, or a mom by different means (pet mom, step mom, neighborhood mom, office mom, mom-by-proxy, etc.) you're doing the nitty-gritty hard work of keeping the world running, and I appreciate your efforts.

Thank you for all the time and resources that you put into others. Your energies and your love and kindness make all our lives better.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

scrambled eggs and salsa

Mmmm. Scrambled eggs and salsa are an excellent way to get more veggies into my meals.

And there are so many different kinds of salsa!

Monday, April 24, 2017

shout out for science

ScienceMarch was this past weekend and I attended one of the 600+ satellite marches. It was thrilling to see so many people come out for science (and in many places, in the rain, undeterred).

Science should be available to everyone. We should all think critically and check our sources. It is when we blindly follow along that trouble happens. To everyone out there who is pro-science, thank you, and keep on citing those sources and checking your references!

As a writer, I very often write things that are not science based at all. I've written a few ficlets of science fiction (not really my strong genre) and quite a bit in fantasy. You would think that fantasy writing would be entirely the opposite of science, but it isn't. It is a place if imagining, where the mind can make connections that propel forward our understanding of science, of ourselves, of our strengths and weaknesses.

Take benzene for example. The story of Kekule's dream of a snake eating its own tail (the ouroboros that is so famous) helped him finally figure out the molecular structure. (Although some say the story was a hoax. But even if it was -- it just adds another layer of imagination to that of science.)

Here's a link to a nifty doodle on it:

Sunday, April 16, 2017

11 things

Just the bank account situation along made me angry. I don't need anyone's permission to have my own autonomy.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

flash fic

QSF is doing their annual contest again this year:
This year's theme is "Renewal".

I've had stories in two of the previous anthologies. Stronger Than Flight for their Flight theme, and Lost in Translation for their theme of Discovery.

The deadline is coming up and I've been working hard. 300 words is both a lot of words and hardly enough.

Monday, March 27, 2017

a rare free day

It is raining out today and the roads are slick with ice. I'm staying home for once instead of going out either to work or get something done, so I'm enjoying this very rare day of having no agenda.

So far I've written 1000 words on a new story I'd been thinking about (publishing In Anger Blooming yesterday was very galvanizing!) and have taken an awesome nap. I'm now post-lunch and back to my computer. I'm stalling a little right now, but in a few minutes I am going to get back to the actual hard work of writing!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

In Anger Blooming (free fic!)

I am very excited to announce that I have a short story now available through smashwords: In Anger Blooming.

Please go here for the downloads:


Hayden's hair-trigger temperament blows up spectacularly and he storms out of the house he shares with his boyfriend, Russ. To calm down he sets off for a hike on a nearby trail. Partway up Hayden meets another hiker, Griege, who seems like a friend, but who has a dark side. Griege has been waiting for Hayden and planning his revenge.

I'd like to give a gracious thank you to both my cover artist, RJ, who is highly talented, and also to AM Leibowitz, who can be found at for gracing me with some editing help. (Any mistakes left in are mine to claim, of course.) It was through the generosity of these kind people, and others who helped along the way, that the story was made better.

It is my hope that if you like my writing, you'll be interested in some of the longer projects I've had published with Dreamspinner, which can be found here:

Sunday, March 12, 2017

deep into edits

Things accomplished this weekend:

1) started on the third edit of my upcoming novella with Dreamspinner Press, Pyresnakes
I am so excited to keep working on this. It'll be the longest piece I've ever published and one of the most exciting, adventure-based stories.

2) made a list of all the other stories that I should remember to work on. I have some great ideas and some great works in progress, but I need to focus and concentrate and get the work done on them. This list will help me remember what it is I have ready for construction.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


I did have aspirations to get some writing in today, but it is such a dreary day and I am in front of a fire. The couch is extra comfy. So, I think I am going to worry about writing a bit later and take a really nice nap right now. Napping opportunities come too far and few between.

And it's certainly been stressful for several weeks now. A good nap can solve a lot of problems.

Monday, February 20, 2017

first round of edits

My first round of edits for Pyresnakes, my current story in progress are done! I am very excited about this. Dreamspinner is planning on publishing this as an e-book this summer, June/July most likely.

I always appreciate my editors. They do some very hard work getting my commas under control and finding the areas in the story that need extra attention.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Free Fiction Friday update

I'm @TrayEllisWrites over at Twitter, and I'm a bit more active over there than here. So I announced this over there already.

After quite a while of hard work, Free Fiction Friday is ending its run. It's not easy to get everyone coordinated, ficlets written, posts done weekly, etc. I applaud that it kept up as long as it did!

I am proud I made most Fridays, even if not all of them.

It was excellent to push myself, to find creativity even when I didn't think I had much going on in the brain cells. But I'm also glad to reach the finish.

I'll probably still have ficlets to share that are short and don't meet length requirements for publishing, though not as often.

I want to focus more on writing longer things and getting more published.

I'd love it if you stuck with me on this journey.

Thank you for being here for the Free Friday Fic, stick around for whatever comes next!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Free Fiction: Black Tea, Strong

Why, yes. I was thinking about tea parties again today. This ficlet is a little less tea-party like, but it's still along the same lines.


“Here.” George slapped the back of his hand against Paul’s shoulder. “Let’s duck in here.”

Paul looked over the store fa├žade. Coffee shop. The front was an expanse of glass with tables arranged in rows. The ambiance inside looked kitschy, with artwork framed on the walls and an assortment of hanging lights that didn’t match. There was a tower of shelves against one wall with random things to purchase, most of them having nothing to do with coffee. “Okay.”

Paul followed George in through the doors, the rush of warm air over his skin reminding him that he’d forgotten his hat at home, again. His ears burned with cold even more so for the warmth bringing them back to a reasonable temperature. He’d not forgotten his gloves, so his hands were toasty. They'd been doing some window shopping during the morning, trying to keep themselves occupied while they logged some walking miles.

“One black tea. Strongest kind you have," George ordered at the counter. "Large."

The woman marked the order down. "Okay." She fixed her gaze on Paul.

"Hot chocolate, please." He gave her a smile. "Also large."

Something twitched in her expression, but Paul wouldn't have called it friendly. More like perfunctory. She was probably tired of having to smile all day long at everyone who ordered a drink.

Paul and George shuffled to the right to wait for their drinks to appear. Two other people were already there, heads down, phones glowing.

"Why'd you order tea?" Paul asked. "You never like it from a shop."

"Nothing ventured. You know."

Another counterperson approached. One latte, and one of the other people picked it up and walked off. A moment later a caramel cappuccino was deposited and the other person collected it and left. Two minutes later, George's tea and Paul's hot chocolate were offered up.

"You don't even know how long it's been brewing already," Paul pointed out.

"I like it strong anyway." George pulled the lid off and peered in at the tea. "I'll leave it to brew for a bit."

"You like strong tea. Not over-brewed tea." Paul couldn't seem to help himself. He knew how George liked his tea, and it irritated him a little that in only the rarest situation did George get anything even close to a decent cup of tea.

"It's a mess to start with," George said. "Paper cup instead of porcelain. Are you going to start a campaign to get me bone china at coffee shops?"

Paul made a face. "If I thought there was a chance it'd work."

"Sip your cocoa and don't worry about it." George nudged him toward the window and they took a table with a direct line of sight to the busy sidewalk outside.

"If I ran the world, there'd be teacups everywhere, and good tea. Not tea bags. Loose tea. And--"

George covered Paul's hand with his own, interrupting the mini-tirade. "If I ran the world, you'd have remembered your hat this morning. Your poor ears are red."

"They sting a little too," Paul admitted.

George sipped at his tea. "Not entirely awful," he said. "And we got in from the cold."

Paul sighed. "Thank you for that. Sometimes I'm too stubborn for my own good."

George waved the comment away. "Part of the human condition."

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Fisherman's Heart

My story, The Way to a Fisherman's Heart, has reached the end of its release time. It is part of the Snow on the Roof anthology. So, if you've been holding out to get that particular story of mine, now is the time to do so, as it is not going to be available for much longer.


Summary for the anthology:
Just because there's snow on the roof, doesn't mean the fire's gone out in the furnace." There's something to be said for maturity and experience, and in all of these relationships, at least one of the lovers is over forty. Whether it's a May/December romance, a second chance at love, or finding a soul mate later in life, these stories prove that it's never too late for love.

Summary of The Way to a Fisherman's Heart:

Jim loves fishing, but it'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. He's rugged and handsome, with a deft hand at the sport, and he draws Jim's attention each time they're together. Will there ever be a right moment for Jim to find out if the attraction is mutual, or will this be the one that got away?

Monday, January 30, 2017

today's google doodle

Today's google doodle is featuring Fred Korematsu, a civil rights activist who fought against the internment camps set up by the USA, within the USA, to hold our citizens of Japanese heritage.

We must not forget that we are not above doing atrocious acts, but that we must strengthen our resolve to learn from our mistakes, and to do better, and be better. And then, to not repeat our mistakes.

Friday, January 27, 2017

a little less writing a little more ACTIVISM

This week I've not been working on the craft of writing very much at all. I've been over at twitter as @TrayEllisWrites and more engaged in the past 7 days as a citizen who is Very Concerned, than as a writer.

I think the next four years will be a mix of activism and writing, because both are important to me.

Free Fiction: Work To Do II

Even with Chaz's help, it took six hours to clear all the walkways on Knute's list.

The snow brought in by the snowstorm was heavy, wet, clumping snow. Every shovel full dragged with weight, but the solid clumps of snow were easier to shuck off to the sides.

Chaz followed Knute to each walkway and after the first few, they fell into a pattern. Chaz whistled while he worked, a perfectly in-tune, trilling whistle with high notes and low notes. Knute didn't recognize the tune, but he enjoyed the music.

Normally he tucked his ear buds in and listened to something with a pounding beat to help energize him through the difficult shoveling hours, but Chaz's infectious whistling was too interesting to miss out on. Knute wanted to hear how the whistling moved along. Would Chaz stick to the same tune, or change it the entire time?

By the last walkway, Knute had his answer. Chaz progressed through an entire litany of musical themes, a few Knute had recognized, although most he had not.

Knute flung the last shovelful of snow to the side and stopped to admire their handiwork. "Man, that was a lot of snow. I couldn't have done it without you."

Out of the corner of his eye he saw a curtain twitch inside the house. A woman with bright eyes and gray hair peeped out at him. When she realized he'd seen her, she gave him a flash of a smile and a thumbs up signal before pulling the curtain closed again.

Chaz swept his gaze down, in an aw-shucks move that made Knute's stomach squeeze.

"Weren't nothing. Glad to help," Chaz said.

Knute checked the time. "Noon," he said. "Lunch time. Do you want to pick up something on the way home? Pizza?" The restaurant where he worked would be open now and Knute could pick up a pizza for cheap. He turned away from the condo area they had been shoveling and set out toward the restaurant, which was in the same direction as home.

"Sure, that sounds good." Chaz starting walking beside Knute.

"So...." Knute gripped the handle of his shovel. "About payment? What were you thinking?" He figured he should probably offer half of what the jobs were worth, except that the shoveling gig kept him afloat. When Chaz had offered, it had felt more like a friend doing a favor, but as they'd worked through the walkways, Knute realized it wouldn't be fair if he didn't pay Chaz fairly. "I don't get paid for this until the end of the week, so we both'll have to wait a little."

"I didn't help you because I wanted the cash," Chaz said.

"Yeah, but it's not right if you did half the work," Knute argued.

Chaz reached out and put his hand on the handle of Knute's shovel and they paused in their walk to face each other.

"I was hoping to spend some time with you. Get to know you better," Chaz said.

Knute swallowed hard. "What--"

Chaz's hand slid up the handle until it covered Knute's. They both had on thick winter work gloves, but Knute could feel the pressure of Chaz's hand. "You work all the time. How else is a guy supposed to get some of your time?"

"Oh," said Knute. He hadn't dared to hope that might be the case, and here it was. "I--"
He struggled to know what to say. "I guess we'll have some time to talk over pizza."

"That'd be nice." Chaz removed his hand from the shovel handle. "Anything but onions. They give me heartburn."

"And bad breath," Knute added.

Chaz looked sideways at him, a hint of a smile at the corner of his lips. "Anticipating a kiss?"

"Maybe. Maybe not," Knute said. "But everyone knows you don't order onions, either way."

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Women's March

While I generally try my best to not go into political issues because this blog (and my twitter, and my FaceBook, etc.) are about my being an author and my writing, sometimes the world outside the writing cocoon cannot be ignored.

Strength, love, and peace to those marching today.

I do not believe in hate. I do not believe that assault and sexual assault are acceptable. I do not believe in lies. I do not believe in being a bully. I do not believe in being nasty. I do not believe in an ego so fragile that instant negative and harsh retaliation is always the answer.

I believe in kindness and acceptance. I believe in love.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Free Fic: Work to Do

Knute plunged his hands into the hot sudsy water. A few months ago, he would have grimaced, but now he could take the punishment. His hands reddened but he pushed the discomfort to the back of his mind to focus on the job at hand.

Four tables full of people were still loitering over their dinners and desserts. He'd have to go collect the used plates and silverware and transport everything to the back of the kitchen. Jason should be helping him, but the guy had called in sick. Again.

Knute was really tired of Jason calling in sick.

Knute had to pick up the slack, and that really stunk.

He pushed those thoughts away, lest he spend the rest of the night stewing about it and getting himself into a righteous snit. He didn't have time to get worked up about the injustice.

The four tables were finally emptying of people, an hour later than usual, and Knute needed to finish this job so he could go home and catch a few hours of sleep before he started on his other job. Shoveling people's walkways.

A deep blanket of snow had been forecast to begin just after dawn. He'd need all the sleep he could get because once it started, he'd be on his feet for hours.

He needed the money from both jobs to pay rent, otherwise he'd have been happy to work just one of them.

Less than half a year ago, he'd been in college, mounting up debt as well as below-average grades. After freshman year, he couldn't hack it anymore. If he got out, he could pay off the chunk of debt he'd accumulated. If he'd stayed in, he could have dug himself deeper into debt while waiting to flunk out. He'd left of his own accord.

Knute finished cleaning up the dirty dishes and wiped his hands one last time on a nearby towel. His bones ached from the physical exertion and he knew he smelled of sweat, soap, and smoke from when the cook burned some bacon.

Nearly two in the morning. Knute sighed and began walking home. He only lived a quarter mile from the restaurant, in a house that he shared with three other guys all trying to make something in life work out better.

Ten minutes later, he opened his front door. Light flickered and the sound of people yelling and cars speeding around let him know at least one person was up late watching a movie. He looked into the living room.

"Hey," he said.

Chaz was sprawled on the couch, looking barely awake. "Hey," he said. He checked his watch. "Late night."

"Yeah. Group came in twenty minutes before closing." Knute waved a hand. "I gotta get some sleep. Shoveling." He plodded to his bedroom.

When the alarm went off in the morning, it felt like he'd been asleep for five minutes. Knute dragged himself out of bed.

He sniffed. The scent of fresh coffee lingered in the air.

Knute pulled on his work clothes and made his way downstairs.

Chaz was there, frying eggs in a skillet. "Hey," he said. "I heard your alarm so I knew you were getting up."

Knute noticed an extra shovel leaning against the corner near the door. "What's going on?"

Chaz shrugged. "Thought you could use some help. It's my day off." He turned back to tend to the eggs. He poked at them with the spatula, not actually doing anything. "You looked really rough last night."

"Huh." Knute ran a hand through his hair. He did need help with the shoveling. A glance out the window told him the snow was starting to fall faster. People got royally pissed if their walkways weren't done lickety-split. "I'd appreciate that."

Chaz abandoned the eggs for a moment, facing Knute. He looked like he wanted to say something, then turned back around to poke at them again.

Bewildered, Knute went searching for a clean coffee mug. Chaz was a nice guy. They got along well and Chaz never left dirty laundry in the common areas. But they hadn't ever made a lot of conversation together. Knute didn't know that much about Chaz. He turned to ask Chaz why he'd be so helpful, but lost his courage the moment he saw the side of Chaz's face, scowling slightly down at the eggs.

For the moment, he'd be thankful. Later, when he wasn't so tired and worn out, he would figure out what Chaz was up to.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Free Fic: Tea and Cookies

I love to write about people having tea. So I keep imagining so many different scenarios where it happens. This is yet another one!


"The water will boil in just a minute." Janice, Kirk's mom, bustled around her kitchen. She fished cloth napkins from a drawer and a beautiful silver tea service strainer that nobody ever used because Janice bought tea in tea bags. She placed it gently on the table between her china cup and Kirk's. "There. That looks nice."

"Mom, it looks beautiful," Kirk agreed.

The table did look nice. Instead of the usual untidy mess of magazines, oil-stained placemats, half-opened mail, and various left-behind silverware there was a clean and open space. Only their two china cups, mismatched but both lovely, with cloth napkins, a silver spoon for each, and the tea strainer perched on the tabletop.

"Oh. I forgot the milk and sugar." Janice hoped to her feet again and began bustling around the kitchen. The moment she'd grabbed the sugar jar from the counter, the kettle began to whistle.

"I've got it." Kirk pulled the kettle from the burner. He searched for the teapot and found it neatly tucked away in the far cupboard. He also dug out the tea bags from the plastic container where they were stored.

"Thank you," his mom said as she sat down again.

He put teabags in the pot and poured in the hot water. "Do you have a timer?" he asked

She moved to jump up again and Kirk waved her down.

"I've got my phone." He pushed a few buttons. "How long?"

"Three minutes, I think?" She sighed. "Better make it four. I hate weak tea."

Kirk started the timer and sat down at the table. "It's been a while since we've had tea together."

"I know," she said. "But you texted me this time that you were stopping in to grab some of your old things, so I figured you could spare a few minutes to catch me up on what's going on with your life. FaceBook is nice. I like the photos. But it isn't everything."

"I only live fifteen minutes away," Kirk said. "I'm not that far."

Janice shrugged. "Sometimes close is just as far away as far." She stood up and rummaged in a nearby drawer, the lowest one that was slightly deeper than the others. She pulled out a package of cookies. "Look," she said. "Your favorite."

Kirk tilted his head. "Coconut macaroons. Mom, those are Joe's favorites!" Joe was his older brother, and the shining star of the family. He was off to law school after having earned a scholarship to his undergraduate university. Kirk was just starting to see the bills from his college education, and still didn't have a full time job with which to pay them. He was looking, but times were tough. It was just like his mom to get Joe's favorite cookies.

"What? No. I got yours." Janice looked at the package. "Wait a second." She went back to the drawer and exchanged packages. "Here we go." She showed the cookies off with a flourish.

Gingersnaps. Kirk smiled. "Thanks."

His phone buzzed, signaling the tea was done.

His mom clasped her hands together. "Now. I'll pour. Tell me everything that's been going on."

Monday, January 2, 2017

holiday hangover

Headed back to the humdrum work-a-day life starting tomorrow. I feel a little out of sorts since I've been gone for so may days. The re-entry into that go-go work-work life will be harsh, I think, and a change from my recent activities. I probably do need to have some more structure going on in my day, so by the end of the week, I'll be ship-shape again. And very much ready for the weekend!!