Thursday, December 12, 2013

Coming Soon, plus New Cover!

Coming soon from Shara Azod, LLC:



Snow: White Tiger Shifters Series

Jayanti is pissed. The last thing she knew, she was cavorting with tigers in Rewa, India. Then suddenly she's abducted and dragged off to a zoo in the US with no safe way to shift back to her human form.

Dr. Logan Carter, DVM, has worked his whole life to try to preserve white tigers. When an apparently wild white tiger arrives at his zoo, he sees hope for a new genetic line to revitalize the animal.

But it's not long before Logan discovers his new tiger isn't what she appears to be. And that's when things really start to get interesting...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

New Book on the Way!

Taylor Pyatt. He sat on my casting couch and he liked it.

Today is October first. What does that mean? Opening night for the NHL, of course. It also means I'm going to announce a new book.

I just signed a contract with Samhain Publishing to publish my book Blood on the Ice, a literary look at the importance of... no, that's not right.

It's about vampires who play professional hockey. If you see anything particularly literary in it, please shoot it.

On the eve of the Stanley Cup Finals, Travis Payne of the Chicago Blackhawks intervenes in a vampire attack outside a bar where he and his friends are celebrating. The vampires in question turn on him, and just plain Turn him.

Waking up in the Warm Room of the Cook County morgue, Travis discovers his whole life has been turned upside down. He can never play for the NHL again. Fortunately, there's the VHL--the vampire-only league--and his contract is transferred to the Chicago Cobras.

Marcus Antonius, ex-gladiator, has been a vampire since the days of Julius Caesar. He's also the Cobras' captain. He takes on the job of mentoring Travis, helping him adjust to his new team, his new life, and his shifting views of sexuality (that last one means there's lots of vampire sex...).

I'll be talking more about this book in the future, as we get closer to the release date. It's scheduled for next year, but I don't have a final publication date yet. In the mean time, visit the Pinterest board where I've assembled a lot of my research materials and my "casting couch." I've added some short excerpts so you can have an advance taste of the rest of the novel.

And be sure to tune in tonight to see the Blackhawks decimate the Washington Capitals!! :-D

Monday, September 16, 2013

See You at Colorado Gold! Sneak Peek

I'll be at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' Colorado Gold conference this weekend, and I hope to see some of you there! I'll be presenting a workshop on Friday at 5 pm in the Big Thompson room called "In the Middle: Pluses and Minuses of Small-Press Publishing."

I decided to talk about this topic because I've noticed that in a lot of writers' conferences and events I've been to, there's a lot of talk about "Big Six" publishing and a lot of talk about self-publishing but not a lot of talk about all the opportunities that lie between these two options. I've had a good amount of success with smaller presses, and I wanted to discuss this sector for those who might be frustrated with the Big Six and not quite comfortable with the self-pub option. There's a big, bright world out there for you to explore.

If you're going to be at Colorado Gold and are interested in attending the workshop, my handouts are available for download at http://www.rmfw.org/conference/handouts/ . (I've been scribbling additional notes on them, though, so you'll miss out on my last-minute brainstorms, numerous asides, dorky goof-ups, and irrelevant stories if you don't attend the workshop.) There'll also be a Twitter hashtag for the session at #rmfwsmallpress so you can follow along whether you're at the conference or not. I hope folks will take advantage of the Twitter option, because I think it's a great idea.

Friday evening starting at 8, I'll be signing books, too, in Ballroom B, so drop by and say hi!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Coming on Monday--a New Blogging Series at RMFW



I've taken on a regular blogging gig at Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. My first blog will appear on Monday. I'm starting out with a series called "Learning from Television," where I'll yammer about my love for TV and how you can learn important writing skills from your favorite shows. I'll be posting on the fourth Monday of each month, except for November and December when the dates will shift to earlier in the month to accommodate the holidays. I hope you'll drop by and say hi!


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Beware the Candy

I'm here today to talk about the horrors of addiction. Not to drugs or alcohol or even Nutella--that would be far too serious for this blog. No, I'm talking about the soul-crushing, life-ruining horror that is Candy Crush.

If you've never played Candy Crush--and if you haven't, for the love of God don't start now--it's a member of the Bejeweled family of Horribly Addictive Games where you swap pairs of pieces to create matches of at least three in a row to eliminate those pieces from the board. Four or five in a row will create one-up pieces that explode larger portions of your board. In Candy Crush, the pieces are shaped like--you guessed it--candy. As you progress, the game presents new challenges like weird bottlenecks, portal squares, bits of chocolate that creep across the board like some kind of brown gelatinous ooze, and licorice strings that introduce your bits of candy to the joys of bondage. Cut scenes feature frightening little girls, whales, bunnies, and other creatures that appear to be constructed of cut paper fastened together with brass brads. I don't even want to know what kind of post-apocalyptic world this is, where everything has transformed to permutations of sugar.

I don't know why this type of game is so damn addictive. I went through a thankfully short but intense relationship with Bejeweled a few years ago that I was able to end fairly gracefully after spending hours swapping jewels while watching original series Star Trek. But Candy Crush? Man, I wish I could quit you. Instead I fritter away hours swapping bits of candy that look like Chiclets and Good n Plentys and smacking myself on the head when I accidentally waste one of those cupcake things with the sprinkles. If you do play--and PLEASE don't, I beg you--you'll know you've hit rock bottom when you're up at midnight paging through the app store looking for a game that's similar to Candy Crush that you can play while you're waiting for your allotment of lives to replenish. My not-Candy-Crush game of choice is Jewel Mania.

I've done my time in addiction and recovery with Farmville, Words With Friends, and even Angry Birds. I've justified time spent with these games because often I work out plot tangles while I'm feeding my bunnies or crushing pigs under complex architectural constructions. But Candy Crush is well on its way to becoming my undoing. I can't warn you strongly enough to stay away from it. And if you succumb to the allure of the bright candies--well, that's between you and your god.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How We Became a Cat House

You could say it started with the mice. I lived in this house for I think about three years before they started showing up, running around like they owned the place, staring at me while I was trying to watch TV, sitting in the dog's food dish chowing like there was no tomorrow and leaving gross mouse deposits in my expensive stoneware under the stove. Our ferrets seemed to deter them a little, but this tactic only seemed to work consistently at the back of the house where the ferrets actually live. The kitchen and living room, not so much. Traps? Yeah. One week I caught seven mice. Then they started just eating the peanut butter out of the traps and going on their merry way. It was like I'd wipe out one generation only to have them breed up the next generation better, stronger, faster, and addicted to peanut butter. Natural repellant worked for a while, too. But when I replenished that, it seemed to lose its effectiveness. This generation has added the characteristic of enjoying the scent of very strong balsam pine.




So for the last few weeks, every night between about 7:30 and 9:00, this mouse would run across the kitchen floor, plant himself in the dog food dish, have dinner, then run off. I killed him once. Another mouse came back and did the same exact thing. The dog would sit next to me and watch. Seriously. This is the most useless dog known to man when it comes to pest control. Okay, once she smooshed a spider. Give her props for that.

Everybody kept telling me to get a cat. And I kept saying no, I can't get a cat. I'm allergic. Cats make me miserable. It s a valid reason. But damn, the mice.
So I started doing some research. A few breeds of cat produce less of the enzyme in their saliva that causes cat-specific allergies. One of these is the Siberian cat. Another is the Russian blue. I looked at Devon and Cornish Rexes. My sister, who also has cat allergies, had a Cornish Rex or two. But I didn't really want to hunt up a breeder, spend a ton of money, and, most importantly, miss the opportunity to rescue a cat that might otherwise end up euthanized.

Next step--allergy testing. My daughter was off visiting a friend, and I needed to go pick her up that day, so I took a Claritin in the morning and planned to make a side trip to PetSmart to find a kitty and cuddle it and pet it and call it George and see how the Claritin held up.

My daughter kept delaying. Apparently they were lounging around the house watching Star Trek and Firefly. I couldn't really condemn that behavior. But what I'd anticipated as a lunch trip turned into dinner time.

Eventually I made it to PetSmart. And there, in their larger cage, was a passel of kittens. One was sitting near the back, a little gray girl with green eyes. She looked straight at me and blinked. And I went oh, shit.

I think we all know how this story ends. We've all been there. We take home the cat we know we probably shouldn't take home. We name it Pond, then Storm, then argue that neither one is quite right. But here's the kicker--the cat had arrived at PetSmart an hour before I walked in. If my daughter hadn't been forced to consume geekery, I never would have seen the cat at all. And, as my daughter and I looked over the cat's records, we discovered she'd been fostered by a friend of the friend who had force-fed said geekery. It was one too many coincidences for me.

So here I sit, typing this blog post on my iPad while Stormy-Pond (sorry--my daughter says it's more properly "Stormageddon Sharknado") tries to attack the iPad. She keeps missing and biting my knee instead. The dog is sitting in the living room wondering what the hell is going on. And I'm praying to the gods of allergies that the Claritin and the Zyrtec hold up, because damn, this cat is adorable.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Guest Post: MJ Schiller--Spotlighting Abandon All Hope

Good morning and thank you, Katriena, for having me here today!

I’m going to admit to something here. I may have gotten myself into a bit of a spot! You see, the second in my ROCKING ROMANCE COLLECTION is out now and I’m not sure it’s going to be what people expect. When the first book, TRAPPED UNDER ICE, came out, I was lucky enough to have some people fall in love with my main characters, Beth and Chad. 

So where’s the problem, MJ? Right? 

The problem lies in the fact that the difference between a collection and a series is not always understood. Two different monsters all together! A series follows the same characters through a span of time, usually in chronological order, but not always. A collection is a group of books gathered around a common theme; in this case, rock romances. After TRAPPED I got comments like, “Can’t wait to see what you have in store for Chad and Beth next!” Still other readers had the next book pegged as Roger’s book (Chad’s best friend). I’m not saying there won’t be a Roger story somewhere down the line. (I do love his character. He’s a hoot!) But right now, that’s not in the works. 

ABANDON ALL HOPE, the second in the ROCKING ROMANCE COLLECTION, is not about any of these characters. It is the story of photo journalist Hope Creswell and rock star Chase Hatton. Their story begins when they were kids, follows them into their teens, and brings them back together after an eight year separation. Compared to TRAPPED UNDER ICE, it’s a lot lighter read, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still some danger lurking. Hope tries to uncover the story behind a reputed mobster’s ties with a city councilman and runs into trouble. And her father is one unpalatable character, let me tell you. But the love story has a sweet sadness that’s different from TRAPPED. Don’t fear, Hope and Chase get their happily ever after at the end. I wouldn’t gyp you all out of that. 

Another difference between the two books is that Chase and Chad are dissimilar rock stars. While Chase is as successful as the lead singer from Trapped Under Ice, he purposefully keeps out of the limelight and doesn’t participate in some of the activities that are generally associated with rockers (i.e.- drugs, drinking, and womanizing). I had my editor question some of his activities saying, “Would a rock star do this?” That’s like saying, “Would a dentist trash a hotel room?” Maybe not your average dentist, but it is not completely out of the question for anyone to do something like that. Chase does not have a cook. His home is fairly average. He does utilize a chauffeur and a pilot for a personal plane, but he also likes to do work around the house that he could easily hire out. In other words, he is a real person. Yes, with some of the baggage that goes along with fame, but a real person none-the-less. 

Another place where the two books diverge is that Chase’s band is hardly mentioned in ABANDON ALL HOPE. This was intentional. They are not integral to the story, or really to his life.  He is like a Sting or a Madonna. Can you name the members of Madonna’s band? I’m sure they are talented musicians, but they are not part of the public package. And Madonna may or may not hang out with them or know their families or what their order at Starbuck’s would be. We all run our lives differently. So do my rock stars.

Anyway, just a little FYI to help you know what not to expect from the second book in the ROCKING ROMANCE COLLECTION. Now that I told you what ABANDON is not, let me tell you what it is.

Blurb:

It was one of those mornings for newspaper-writer/photographer Hope Creswell.  The alarm clock didn’t go off and she cut her finger on broken glass.  Not one to let such things get her down, Hope headed into her assignment meeting with excitement, only to leave it stunned.  Her new assignment is to trail the sensational rock-star, Chase Hatton, for an article.  Chase Hatton!  No one knows the power that name holds for her.  No one knows of the childhood friendship that blossomed into romance, only to abruptly die on the night of Hope’s senior prom.  No one knows of the ache that still fills her heart. 

What starts out for Chase Hatton as an average publicity trip to Chicago suddenly becomes complicated when his manager tells him that Hope Creswell will be interviewing him in the morning.  He had spent eight years trying to forget Hope, and now she would be in his penthouse in a matter of hours?

When Chase opens the door to his penthouse and finds Hope on the opposite side, his heart begins beating a rhythm the rocker has yet to capture in any of his music.  The smoldering embers of their former romance are fanned by their mere proximity.  Will they both be burned again?  Can Hope ever trust her heart to Chase after what he did?  Can Chase bear to see her walk out on him a second time?  And what about Hope’s boyfriend, Phillip?  Where does he fit into the picture that Hope is developing?
 
You can find ABANDON ALL HOPE at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

EXCERPT
 
When Chase opened the door, Hope was looking down, her thick, black eyelashes contrasting with her fair skin as she examined her shuffling feet, waiting for someone to answer her ring. There was an innocence in her face that was captured in the first millisecond before realizing she was being observed. But hearing the noise of the door opening, she glanced up quickly. Their eyes locked, and they both froze for several seconds, unable to speak.
            Although he had seen her brilliant eyes a hundred times in his dreams over the past eight years, seeing them here, now, even though he had mentally prepared himself for her visit, took his breath away. His heart, which had been beating wildly in anticipation of her visit, now seemed to stop, and then a second later, charge ahead, as if trying to beat its way out of his chest. His palms on the doorframe became sweaty, and he tried to gather his wits so as not to appear like the lovesick whelp he now felt himself to be.
            Hope looked very much the same as she had eight years prior. She wore her long, golden-brown, straight hair in two braids dangling past her shoulders. He was barely able to suppress a desire to touch the feathery tips below the rubber bands holding them together. Her hands were stuck deep into the pockets of the slouchy tweed coat she wore over a tight-fitting, baby-blue, v-neck t-shirt, which fit snugly over her hips and dark blue jeans, hanging slightly lower than the bottom of her jacket. As in high school, she had a camera slung carelessly around her neck, like an Olympian’s gold medal, and nearly as valuable to her.
            Slowly, a smile spread across his face, and he forced himself to exhale, saying, “So, it is you.”
            She smiled in return, a little shyly, he thought, responding, “Hello, Chase.”
            She held out her hand and he was taken aback, the gesture seeming too stiff and formal considering their intimate past, but after a second, he took it and shook it warmly, covering it with his other hand as well. His touch and smile seemed to relax her a little. Maybe this wouldn’t be so difficult after all. They both were adults now; they should be able to act maturely.
            “Come in,” he invited, standing aside to allow her to pass. He never took his eyes off her as she entered, soaking in the details they offered. Her short jacket, coming just to her waist, permitted him a clear view of her tight tush and shapely hips. She had filled out some since her tree-climbing days when they had first met. She still had the muscles of an athlete, and the tomboy she once was, but now, time had added the soft, tempting curves of womanhood. Though her t-shirt hugged her hips temptingly and covered the tops of her jeans’ pockets, he still fantasized about sticking his hands in those pockets and feeling her warmth.
            He watched her face as she gazed about, seeing the glow of excitement that was sweetly familiar to him. He had almost forgotten just how lovely her face was. She had a clear complexion, delicate features, and big, expressive eyes. Whatever she felt could be seen on her face; she had no gift for pretense. Her eyes were unique, a pale blue with thin rays of yellows and browns radiating out from the center, like a starburst, the outside of the iris a thin circle of black. The mix of colors was not a distracting feature. In fact, it was something that wouldn’t be noticed at a distance, but up close, they were mesmerizing.
video
 
I was born in Overland Park, KS, in the heart of Tornado Alley, and my life has been a bit twisted since.  Actually, it’s not all that twisted, but I’ve always wanted to use that line.  I grew up in St. Louis, MO, went to school at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and moved to Bloomington, IL, fresh out of college, after my husband got a job at State Farm’s corporate headquarters.  I’ve worked as a high school/junior college teacher, personnel recruiter, office manager of a jewelry store, and, for the past ten years, as a lunch lady.  I like to karaoke and attend rock concerts.  I am actively involved at church and spend too much time on Facebook.  I am the mother of a seventeen-year-old, and fifteen-year-old triplets, and have been married to my husband, Don, for over twenty-four years.
I have been a writer all my life.  My first book, which was co-written with Mary Ellen Murphey in second grade, was titled The Black Cat, and was written on blue hotel stationary, hole-punched, and bound by white yarn.  I believe it is currently out of circulation. 
When I turned forty, I had an epiphany of sorts.  I realized those bigwig publishing houses in New York were now probably run by people younger than me, so I shouldn’t be intimidated by them.  At about the same time I was watching one of those award shows, and Jaclyn Smith got up to give a post-humorous award to Aaron Spelling.  She credited him for encouraging her to go into acting, saying something brilliant like, “Reach for your dreams.”  Nothing new.  Almost even seems a little Jiminy Cricketish.  But, for some reason, it struck me that night.  When Aaron Spelling was thirteen, he was probably just like any other acned thirteen-year-old.  But he worked to achieve his dreams, and became a household name.  So, I began to write.  Once I finished my first book, I wasn’t able to stop.  I would rather write than do just about anything else.  After all, you get to make people (characters) do what you want and design your own happy endings.  What power!  What a privilege.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Flash Fiction Markets

This is a list I put together for my own use, but I figured I'd share. Paying markets for Flash Fiction. Submissions/payment information accurate as of the time I compiled the list, which is 3-15-13, 8:37 PM, 7:20 into the third period of the second game of the Stanley Cup Finals, Chicago vs. Boston. 


http://www.abyssapexzine.com/submissions/ $.05/word. Prefers under 1500. Has specific submission windows, so check date before submitting.

http://www.fearandtremblingmag.com/submissions/ Currently closed (until "summer" 2013--check back.) Horror flash.

http://www.echapbook.com/submissions.htm Flash compilations--$65/compilation. See July 1 for new cycle: theme is fiction, memoir and poetry

http://www.kazkapress.net/713flashfiction/ 713-1000 words. Speculative. See site for themes and submissions deadlines.

http://dailysciencefiction.com/submit/story/guidelines 100-10,000--particularly in need of short-shorts. $.08/word

http://www.flashfictiononline.com/submit.html 500-1000 words. $50/story. No genre specifications but like SF/F

http://grandsciencefiction.com/category/submissions/ Exactly 100 or exactly 1,000 words. $.05/word. SF. Might not be currently open for submissions.

https://darkfuse.submittable.com/submit/20777 99-999 words. $.05/word. Buys lifetime e-rights plus first time worldwide. Dark fiction.

http://lamplightmagazine.com/submissions/ up to 1,000 words, $50 flat pay rate. Literary dark fiction.

http://www.funnytimes.com/submissions.php#.Ub0gc-tSssE 500-700 words--funny. $60/story

http://www.perihelionsf.com/submit.htm 400-1000 words, flat $25. Longer stories a penny a word up to $75. Hard SF.

http://pittsburghflashfictiongazette.com/submission-guidelines/ 500-800 words, $15 "Flash fiction about sex is always popular"

http://www.leodegraunce.com/anthology-submissions.html Under 200 words, $5

http://eggplantproductions.com/general-guidelines/guidelines-for-miscellanea/ $10 for 300-word excerpt of non-existent literature

http://vestalreview.net/Guidelines41.html up to 500 words--payment based on word count.

https://twitter.com/microcosms 140 characters. $1

http://nanoism.net/submit/ 140 characters. Also Twitter serials. $1.50, $5 for serials.

http://safetypinreview.com/submission-guidelines/ 30 words max, $1


Friday Flash--Twitter #fridayflash  No payment--consolidated hashtag and can list your story in their database for further exposure. http://madutopia.com/blog/fridayflash/what-is-fridayflash/

Friday, May 10, 2013

Why I "Failed" at the Poetry Challenge and Why it Doesn't Matter

I started the April Poem a Day challenge and shared some of my work here, but as you noticed I quit after a few poems. This tends to happen to me a lot when I try this kind of challenge. I toodle along pretty well at first, then I find other things demanding my attention and I move on to those things. It happens with NaNoWriMo too. But in the long run, it doesn't really matter.

Why doesn't it matter? I mean, I set a goal and I didn't meet that goal. So I should berate myself and feel bad, right? Yeah, I'm thinking no. Because what did I accomplish? I wrote some poems. I probably wouldn't have written them at all if I hadn't started the challenge. So I have some bits of work that wouldn't have otherwise existed. That's not a bad thing at all.

Also, who's to say I won't finish the challenge eventually? I did last year, though I didn't write the last poem until some time in May or June if I remember correctly. I like the challenges and I'll probably go ahead and tackle the rest on my own timeframe. So, in my mind, rather than failing the challenge, I've produced some new work, challenged myself, and now I have some new pieces I can market later, with more likely to come.

In fact, the thing I'm most worried about regarding this challenge isn't that I didn't write all the poems in the time allotted, but that I can't seem to find the notebook I wrote them in. Now that's a catastrophe...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

As If You Never Left Me--Sunday Snog

Another Sunday--another excerpt. And since As If You Never Left Me comes out TOMORROW from Crimson Romance, this Sunday's snog will give you another glimpse at Rey and Joely's story.



The snowballs flew crazily for several frenzied minutes. She screeched and he hollered, she laughed and he let out great howls of mirth. She barely missed his head; he came within inches of hitting her square in the face with a slushy projectile. Finally, emboldened by laughter and adrenaline, she slipped out from behind her fort, then darted across the snow to sneak behind his fort and dump her last three snowballs down the back of his shirt.
He howled in protest and grabbed her, pinning her arms behind her. “I don’t even have a decent coat and you do that to me?”
Immobilized against his strong chest, she could do nothing but look up into his laughing face. “I’m sorry.”
“No, you’re not.”
“You’re right, I’m not.”
“Then neither am I,” he said, and kissed her.
His lips were icy cold but the inside of his mouth was warm, his tongue hot as it stroked against her lips. She opened to him, pressing hard into his heat. Snow and cold forgotten, she sought only that warmth, that union. His mouth on hers, soft and mobile, his tongue pressing softly against hers. He pulled her close, his hands sliding down her back.
She clutched at his coat, so absorbed it was a few long seconds before she registered the cold, the wet. As she pulled back, he ducked forward, his mouth still seeking hers even as she ended the kiss.
“You’re soaked,” she said. “We should get you inside.”
He dipped his head one more time toward her, and when he missed, he smiled a little and said, “Yeah. My shoes are full of snow and my jeans are soaked.”
“You’re going to catch pneumonia.” Fighting the reluctance of her entire body, she took a step back. Her hand sought his, unwilling to break the connection totally. “Come on. I’ll make you some hot cocoa.”

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Snog--As If You Never Left Me


Today's Sunday Snog is from As If You Never Left Me, coming April 29th from Crimson Romance:

She paused, looking at him, then found herself walking back to the bed. She bent over him and caught his mouth with hers.

She thought she’d forgotten. But as her lips touched his, she was flooded with the taste of his mouth, not only in reality but in her memory. Her closed lips remembered the touch of his tongue, remembered surrendering, opening to let his mouth take hers utterly, but in the real moment, the kiss remained carefully chaste.

This was not an easy thing to do.

After what seemed an eternity of hovering on the edge of complete surrender, she drew back. Looking down into his soft smile, her face went hot. With desire or embarrassment, she wasn’t sure. At least he didn’t look smug.

She straightened, clearing her throat. “I’ll see you later.”

This time, she forced herself to leave.



Saturday, April 13, 2013

April PAD Challenge--Day 12

Yesterday I finished my taxes, and the theme for the PAD challenge was "broke," so for most of the day all I could come up with was this:

I just did my taxes and now I am broke
All of my money just went up in smoke.

But I couldn't figure out where to go from there. Which is too bad because that really could have been poignant and literary and eventually made me the Poet Laureate of Colorado.

Anyway, later in the day I came up with something else:

April PAD Challenge--Day 12
Prompt: "broke" or "broken"

Pieces of broken hearts lay
All around where he sleeps at night
And he doesn't understand
Why even now
At ninety-six
He can't get anyone to stay as long as breakfast.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

PAD Challenge--Day 11

April PAD Challenge
Day 11
Prompt: "In case of______"

In case of apocalypse there will be
17 cans of Spaghetti-Os
14 boxes of Muesli
47 cans of beans
In case of apocalypse, break the glass.
Behind it is the can opener.
In case of apocalypse gather
All the guns
All the dogs
All the knives
And go to the second-floor bedroom
Where you will eat beans
And Muesli
And Spaghetti-Os
Until the fallout starts.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

More Poeming--PAD Challenge Prompts 7-10

I got hung up on Day 7 of the Poetic Asides PAD Challenge and ended up backlogged once I finally came up with something for that one, so I'll just post a few at a time here instead of backposting to put them all on the right day, because that's kind of annoying, anyway. So here we go:

Day 7. Prompt--Sevenling (this is a particular poetry form, which is why I got hung up on this prompt)

A gold ring
A silver chain
A locket

The cash
and the cards
From his wallet

She tosses them in after his body.



Day 8. Prompt--Instructional

This is how it works:
If you turn the crank to the right
The heartbeat slows.
To the left, the constriction is lifted.
Turn to the right, farther and farther,
and the bands tighten.
The pressure is even, so
The heart does not exactly burst.
It is only compressed
Until
Finally
It becomes incapable of human emotion.


Day 9: Prompt--hunter and/or hunted (twofer Tuesday prompt)

The soft whiff of denial hits the air
And she knows she is on the wrong path
But she presses forward.
The branches tangle around her.
Thorns tear her skin.
She knows it's the wrong way.
She keeps going.
Going.
Into the darkness, through the swampy quicksand
Until finally
There he is
Entirely the wrong man.


Day 10: Prompt--suffering

How much longer can it hurt this much?
How much longer before the body rebels completely
And organs shut down
The blood stops flowing
The breath stops breathing?
How much longer?
Six more years
Then five
Then four.
Then they're counting down to three
Because then it will be
Their silver anniversary.


Humpday Hump

Sharing an excerpt from my upcoming release from Crimson Romance: As If You Never Left Me for Marteeka Karland's Humpday Hump blog hop.

***********

With the Jeep in low gear, she trundled over the uneven, snowy ground until they were shielded by a stand of evergreens.

“Back seat?” he said, mischief in his eyes.

“Damn straight,” she answered, adjusting the driver’s seat as she spoke, moving it forward as far as it would go.

Braving the cold, they got out and climbed into the back seat. Before Joely had quite closed the door, Rey had caught hold of her, dragging her across the back seat, half into his lap. He kissed her, devouring her mouth while his hands slid down her back, cupped her ass. His tongue pressed in, tangling with hers.

Joely laughed. "What?" Rey said, almost as if in protest.

She shook her head, unable really to explain. It just struck her funny, that they were about to make love in the backseat of a car, like teenagers afraid of getting caught by their parents.

He grinned at her, eyes twinkling, and she sensed that he understood. She smiled back. That was the way they had always been—in synch, practically reading each other's minds. It felt good to have that back.

She grappled with the snap on his jeans, with the zipper, finding it quite difficult to get them unfastened while he was sitting. But she managed to get them open, and to work the jeans down his hips and partway down his thighs. He was already firmly erect, and as she worked the jeans down, he worried a rather bent condom package out of his pocket and laid it on the seat next to him.

She smiled up at him, not sure why that particular gesture touched her so much. Maybe because it proved he'd planned ahead, or maybe because it proved he was thinking about protecting her. Either way, it made her warm. Made her love him.

She maneuvered into an uncomfortable sitting position on the floor between the driver's seat and the back seat. She'd positioned the driver's seat to its farthest forward position, so there was some room, but it wasn’t quite enough. Still, she could make do. She adjusted until she was relatively comfortable, sitting between Rey's open knees. He looked down at her, heavy-lidded, lips slightly parted, and put his hand on her head, combing his fingers into her hair. He knew what was coming. Not forcing it, but obviously anticipating it.

She smiled. Tenting her fingertips against his knees, she traced them up his thighs, then back down. His eyes closed and he let his head settle back against the headrest with a soft sigh of contentment.

She slipped her fingers again along his thighs, up to his belly, dropped a fingertip into his navel, lifted it back out again, carefully circumnavigating even the dark curls of his pubic hair. Then, with no preamble, she bent and took him into her mouth. He jumped, gasped, and she chuckled, licking him.

He filled her mouth as well as he did her body, and the taste of his skin brought back memories of other back seats, other blowjobs, quickly going down on him behind bushes at dusk on the college quad. She took him in, deep, all the way to the back of her throat, smiling at the way he fit perfectly against the back of her palate. She had missed that. They fit together like puzzle pieces. His hands fisted gently in her hair and he began to pulse his hips. It felt good. He tasted good. Faster, deeper, and she brought up a hand to curl her fingers around him as he thrust, working his skin, feeling the hardness beneath it. Then, abruptly, he stopped, and drew her head up.

"Inside," he said. "I want to come inside you."

Saturday, April 6, 2013

PAD Challenge--Day Six

April PAD Challenge
Day Six
Prompt--"Post"

There was a day when
We waited by the mailbox
Wondering what treasure the day would bring
A postcard, a note, a letter, a check
Now we hunch over flickering screens
And hit refresh
Again
And again and
Again


Friday, April 5, 2013

PAD Challenge--Day Five

April PAD Challenge
Day Five
Prompt--"plus"

Who is your + one?
It asks on the invitation and you
Hesitate wondering what to say
Because your + one is you
Your heart your soul your life
The identity you've carved since you became one on your own
Who is your + one?
You write in the blank: Not Applicable

Cover Reveal--As If You Never Left Me--Coming Soon from Crimson Romance

I'm a bit behind on this, and if you follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook, you've seen this already, but here's the cover of my upcoming book from Crimson Romance, As If You Never Left Me. This is a reprint of a book that was originally released by Ellora's Cave. If you didn't read it in its previous incarnation, I hope you'll check it out!

Rey and Joely Birch had what they thought was a perfect marriage. Then, suddenly, it all fell apart. Joely left Rey in a fit of anger, moving halfway across the country to make a new life for herself in Colorado.

Now, fourteen months later, she’s happy with how things are going, running a classy boutique in the mountains, creating ceramic art, and seeing her business already in the black. But then one day she looks up and Rey is standing in the middle of her shop. Sexy as ever and asking for a second chance. The last thing Joely wants is to let herself be hurt again. But he’s still Rey, still the man she fell in love with, still the man who can send her heart racing with a look. And Joely’s having a very hard time resisting him.

Rey knows he screwed up the best thing he ever had when he let Joely slip away. Now he has a chance to prove to her he can be the right man for her again. He wants time to be her husband again, to show her how he truly feels. And it looks like she’s going to give it to him. She’s willing to accept a date—even willing to let him sleep on the couch in her tiny mountain cabin. Bit by bit, he’ll chip away at the wall she’s built around herself. A piece at a time, he’ll put his heart back together for her.
But will his carefully laid plans disintegrate when she finds out what really brought him to Colorado?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

PAD Challenge--Day Four

April PAD Challenge
Day Four
Prompt--"Hold that ___"

Hold that
Tighter it might get away
Slip through your fingers
Fly off the curve of your open hand

Hold that
Tighter; don't let it go
If you let it move
Or breathe
It won't be yours anymore

Hold that
Tighter
And when you open your hand
It will stare at you
With glassy eyes

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

PAD Challenge--Day Three

April PAD Challenge
Day Three
Prompt--"tentative"

There's always that moment
Before
The thumb cocks the trigger
The fingers loose the arrow
The nib strikes the paper

When you wonder

Why

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

PAD Challenge--Day Two

April PAD Challenge
Day Two--prompt "dark/light"
This was a twofer prompt--we could write a dark poem or a light poem. I put 'em both in there.

God said let there be light
So in the beginning there was only dark
And out of the dark crawled everything
All the bugs and worms and tentacles and the dark slime that birthed everything.
So we are all children of the darkness
Because the dark came first
And it's still there.

Monday, April 1, 2013

National Poetry Month--April Poem a Day Challenge

I've been waffling about doing this, but I think I'll take the plunge. I'm doing the April Poem-A-Day Challenge over at Robert Lee Brewer's Writer's Digest blog, and I'm going to post my poems (eek!). These are first drafts, please be warned... Basically I'm just barfing up a poem based on the prompt and hoping something cohesive comes out of it at some point. I did this challenge last year and came up with thirty poems of varying quality, one of which I actually sold, so hey! Success!

Anyway, on with the poeming:

Day One
Prompt--"new arrival"

In the beginning was the word
What word was it?
Words tangle and scrawl and earthworm their way across blank paper
Becoming something
Something new
Something that has never existed before
Words define and delineate, limit and logic
Words break you and batter, query and question and turn things inside out and outside in and challenge every belief we've ever held dear.
Words are the matter at the heart
The Higgs boson
The God particle
The graviton

God said let there be...
And there was.
I say let there be...
And there it is.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Things That Are Going On, AKA Busy McBusyson

Photo by jayofboy, via www.sxc.hu/
The last few weeks have been a bit crazy—well, crazier than usual—and there’s some news, which I’ll condense into one blog post instead of like nine zillion of them…

Dealing With David is now out in paperback! Check it out at the usual outlets:
Samhain Publishing Amazon Barnes and Noble

I also have a reprint on the way from Crimson Romance. As If You Never Left Me, a contemporary romance originally published with Ellora’s Cave under the name Elizabeth Jewell, will be available from Crimson on April 29. It’s been revised a bit for the new version.

Speaking of my Evil Twin, Elizabeth Jewell is up to her usual evilness. She just released a short story called “Valentine’s Special” with Shara Azod, LLC. It’s available at Shara’s site, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and All Romance eBooks. Ms. Jewell will also be announcing a new release with Changeling Press: CafĂ© Midnight: Chai Latte, written with Marteeka Karland. It’s scheduled for release at the end of March. 

I'm also going to put together a page for appearances, because it looks like I'm, well, making some appearances. As in showing up places and being on panels 'n' stuff. So that'll be a new way for me to get into trouble... I for one am looking forward to it.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

And Now for Something Completely Different... Stories on Stage

When I was in grade school, my teachers used to read stories I’d written to the class. I got so nervous and freaked out about hearing my stories read out loud that I’d have to leave the room. The teacher would sometimes plan to have me run errands to other classes while she read so I wouldn’t sit there and be all freaked out.

Now, mumble mumble years and one fantastic Zoloft prescription later, I’ve had the amazing experience of having one of my stories read by a skilled performer on stage in front of, wow, kind of a lot of people. I didn’t have to leave the room, although I was kind of nervous. (“You were nervous, Mom,” my daughter told me. “I could FEEL you being nervous. It was making ME nervous. It was kind of annoying.”) But once Evan Weissman of Buntport Theater Company started reading my story, I was bowled over.

The saga began some time ago when I read a prompt that said, “Write a steampunk story.” So I wrote about five hundred words about a little clockwork cat and its relationship with the man who created it. I called it “Clockwork,” stuck it online where it made me maybe a dime in six months, and didn’t think much about it.

A few weeks ago, I heard that Stories on Stage was looking for submissions for local authors for their second Flash Fiction show, Very VERY Short Stories: the Sequel. I thought about “Clockwork.” I sent it in. And a few weeks after that, I received notification that it had been chosen for the performance.

Fast forward to this past Saturday afternoon. The Buntport Theater Company performed eleven fabulous stories on a bare stage, creating the world of each piece with their reading. Several of the stories were from a collection by Fast Forward Press, which specializes in flash fiction. Others were from the contest. All were beautifully written and beautifully performed.

My story was in the second half of the show, and when Evan started reading I was amazed at what he did with my words. Everything about the story came to life in a way I’d never imagined. It seemed like an entirely different story—one so much better than what I had written. I got a chance to talk to Evan after the show to tell him how much I enjoyed and appreciated his performance. It was obvious from the first words that “Clockwork” was in good hands.

I’d like to say thank you to Evan, to the Buntport Theater Company, and to Stories on Stage for making this experience possible. I’d also like to thank Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers for providing a forum where the news of the submissions call was able to make its way to me. (I know, I know, I sound like I'm accepting an Oscar. A girl can dream, right?) It was seriously one of the coolest things that has ever happened in my writing career.

And the cookies and milk after were pretty awesome, too.