Friday, February 27, 2015

My Mind Wandered...And Still Hasn't Come Back!

All my life, people have told me how smart I am. When I was having trouble in school, Mom asked my guidance counselor if I had a learning disability. "Not at all," he assured her. "She could make straight As if she made the effort. Your daughter is bored. She's smart and she has a photographic memory. She picks up things much faster than her classmates, and gets restless when the teachers have to spend the time normally needed for the kids to learn. Because she's bored, she cuts class and acts out."


I ended up quitting school. I think they were secretly happy to see me go.

In the hospital following my first head injury, my doctor came into my room one day and announced, "I have a surprise for you. You're going to college."

"I have a surprise for you," I told him. "I didn't finish high school." All the effort I'd put into going over the wall, and here was this guy wanting to send me back? No way!

These days, there are courses to be taken before taking the GED exam. I never took any classes, just the exam. It wasn't that difficult.

I left St. Louis University with one year to go to get my degree. Why? Bored again. I just don't do well in a classroom environment. I see Collin taking his courses online and wish I'd had that option. I might have actually finished what I started.

I've never felt all that smart. I've certainly made some stupid decisions in my life. But then, intelligence and common sense don't always go hand-in-hand.  Dad used to say smart people know they don't have all the answers, while idiots are too stupid to know they don't know everything. Sometimes, emotion overrides intelligence. Sometimes, pride gets in the way. Pride can be a dangerous thing. I speak from experience there.


But that's not what today's post is about. Nope, today, I'm writing about my latest screw-up.

I've been a writer--professionally--for thirty years now. I've written sixteen published novels. By this time, I should know the drill, right? Write, rewrite, revise, edit, proofread--I'd done it all with each book. Since signing with Creativia, we've already prepared two of my books for re-publication. Yet when I received the proofread copy of The Unicorn's Daughter a few days ago, as I went over it, I was surprised to find so many words in red. Why were they in red? Was something wrong with the file?

I quickly emailed my publisher. As I waited for his response, it was pointed out to me that the red words are words that had been changed. They were in red so I could find them!

I've been doing well on the new medication, but I'm not completely seizure-free yet. Sleep deprivation is a real seizure trigger. After a seizure, I'm often confused for a little while. I had gone over the proof copy after a seizure, knowing I should wait. As a result, I didn't recognize the red words for what they were.


Facepalm time....


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Catching Up is Hard to Do--When 15 Posts on Your Blogroll Are New!

Yep, it looks like I'm behind again.

I did four consecutive posts last week for Valentine's Day...and nothing since. I have a good excuse reason, I really do. I was sending material to my new publisher (big shout out to Miika and the rest of the team at Creativia), streamlining my social media activity, and skipping the Oscars telecast to watch a WWE pay-per-view, Fastlane. It was as huge a disappointment as the Oscars. Collin and I skipped the Oscars because we didn't really care which nominees won. We hadn't seen any of them. The movies we loved this year--Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 were snubbed in all of the major categories. Over at the WWE Network, things weren't much better. Predictably, most of the wrestlers we were rooting for lost their matches. The only match in which we'd be happy no matter who won was the main event pitting Roman Reigns against Daniel Bryan to satisfy some outraged fans who felt Bryan got cheated at the Royal Rumble last month.



Rocket Raccoon is NOT pleased at the Oscar snub....

For anybody who's been living on Mars for the past century, wrestling is scripted. The guys go into their matches knowing who's going to win. The legendary Undertaker, who won every one of his Wrestlemania matches for 21 years, lost last year to current part-time champ Brock Lesnar. Unlike other champions who must be able to defend their titles every thirty days, "The Beast" is usually watching the events from the comfort of his home. And now, adding insult to injury, it looks like the Undertaker will be competing against B-list "Superstar" Bray Wyatt at this year's Wrestlemania. For the unfamiliar, Wyatt could be the inspiration for the mutant characters in The Hills Have Eyes. His entrance theme should be Dueling Banjos from Deliverance.

That's no exaggeration. He's creepy.

But enough whining and complaining. I think I've finally caught up on my blog reading/commenting. If I've missed anyone, just give me a hard slap. And I just received the PDF, mobi and EPUB files for Chasing the Wind from my publisher, and they look great! In addition to the reformatted ebook, a paperback edition will be available (the one that's currently up Amazon/Create Space is an earlier edition).

Doing the happy dance now....





Yeah!


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Beauty and the Beast...and the Other Beast

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! As promised, this is fourth (and last, for this year, anyway) of my Valentine's Day salute to love. This excerpt is from Sucker-Punched, featuring pro wrestler Paulie Cantwell (also known as The Punisher) and restaurant owner Amelia Hartman. Amelia and her sister, Amy, are Paulie's guests at a wrestling event in Los Angeles--but things don't exactly go as planned....



Amelia

I couldn't believe it.

That is, I couldn't believe I was here, that Amy and I had flown all the way to Los Angeles to attend a wrestling event at the Staples Center. Who am I kidding? I still couldn't believe I was dating a pro wrestler. No...that was something Amy would do, not me. I always figured I'd end up with somebody more...stable. Like an accountant. Or maybe a funeral director. Definitely not a guy who beats people up for a living.

When I imagined my ideal guy over the years, well, it wasn't Paulie. He only had two of the traits on my wish list: a good heart and a great sense of humor. But then, those two were the traits that mattered most to me.

He'd gotten us front-row seats. We had an unobstructed view of the ring. This was the first time I'd actually attended one of his matches—and I wasn't sure what to expect. Yes, I'd watched him wrestle on TV, but I knew everything was scripted. They knew who would win the match before they entered the ring. Still, wrestlers did get injured, sometimes seriously. If this was all staged, how could that happen? I had so many questions....

He'd told me about his opponent. He said his feud with Mad Dog Mueller wasn't just part of the act. He and the current World Champion really did not get along. How had he put it? Oh, yes—"I hate the dumbass, but tonight, I get to take the belt from him."

That was why he wanted me to be there. He wanted me to celebrate his victory with him. He wanted Amy and me to meet the rest of his family—his parents, his sister, and his brother-in-law, the artist. Meeting his family suggested he was ready to take our relationship to the next level.

I was well past ready. I loved him. I wanted to marry him.

I took a deep breath as the program got underway. Maybe the World Championship wasn't the only thing we'd be celebrating before the night was over....

Paulie

Mad Dog was in a foul mood. To say he wasn't crazy about the idea of losing the championship—especially to me—had to be the understatement of the century.

"I may have to let you have it, but I don't have to make it easy for you, Cantwell," he growled as he yanked open his locker. "You just might be having your victory party in the hospital."

I laughed, even though a part of me thought the douchebag might be serious. "Just don't forget your trunks this time," I told him. "I can take a lot of abuse, but the sight of your junk flappin' around in the wake of me body slammin' you would be cruel and unusual punishment."

Mad Dog looked at me, eyes narrowed—and growled!

Mike and J.J. came into the locker room. "Hey, Mad Dog—goin' commando for the TV cameras tonight?" Mike asked as he dropped his duffel on the bench.

J.J. laughed, too. "Nobody saw anything last time," he said, pulling off his shirt. "The camera crew would have had to have at least one camera on zoom to catch anything that small—"

Before he could finish, Mad Dog grabbed him and slammed him against the wall, almost choking him. It took both Mike and me to pull him off our kid brother. "Let him go, you stupid dick!" I yelled.

He reluctantly released J.J. and turned his venom on me. "It would be worth getting fired just to be able to keep you from getting this." He snatched up the championship belt and shoved it in my face for a minute, then pulled it away and headed for the exit.

"Like you could!" I called after him.

Mike looked at me, worried. "He's a powder keg tonight," he said. "You better be careful out there."

"Think he meant it?" J.J. wondered aloud.

I tried to shrug it off. "I can handle Mad Dog," I assured them. But I was wondering, too. It was no secret that Mad Dog and his manager, a loudmouthed, brain-dead moron who looked more like Jabba the Hut than a real human being, had vehemently protested the relinquishment of the belt. They'd tell anybody who'd listen that Mad Dog was getting screwed.

Personally, I thought that would make Mad Dog happy. That's the closest to screwed he's ever gonna get.

*****

Finally. Time to head for the ring.

It felt like an eternity, watching match after match on the monitors while I waited for my turn. I wanted to get it all over with, take the belt and get out of here. The championship would have meant more to me if I could win it honestly, but that wasn't going to happen. It's not how things are done in our business. But tonight wasn't really about the championship. It was about Amelia and me. It was about my parents and Robyn and Alex meeting her and her sister, Amelia and Amy getting to know them....

I poked around in my duffel until I found the box—the jeweler's box with the ring inside. Amelia loved rubies, so I got her a ruby and diamond ring—an engagement ring. I was going to pop the question tonight—I'd ask her as soon as we were alone. I'd tell her I'd been thinking of a short engagement and let her decide when and where we'd get married.

I just hoped I wouldn't be popping the question in the emergency room.

Amelia

I looked toward the ramp as Paulie's entrance theme started to play. AC-DC's Shoot to Thrill...Paulie was an Iron Man fan and thought it the perfect entrance theme. He appeared at the top of the ramp, wearing only black spandex trunks. “He looks pretty hot,” Amy told me.

“He looks even better without them,” I replied, unable to not smile.

He did something called a crotch chop, then started down the ramp toward the ring. As he climbed up on the ropes, he looked down at me and winked.

I waved and wondered if I'd be too much of a distraction for him. Maybe I shouldn't have come.

"It's like watching a gladiator about to go into battle for the hand of the woman he loves," Amy said, seeing a romance to this spectacle that completely escaped me. As much as I loved Paulie, to me this seemed to me more a reality TV show—and like all reality shows, there was little in the way of reality going on.

Then, his opponent emerged to the sound of wild booing and Who Let the Dogs Out? The guy who called himself Mad Dog looked like a rabid dog—a big, incredibly ugly rabid dog. I almost expected him to hike his leg and pee on the ring post to mark his territory.

"Is he actually wearing a dog collar?" Amy asked, amazed.

I hadn't noticed before Amy mentioned it, but he was—he was wearing a thick leather collar with metal spikes. His manager was holding something—he had his client on a leash!

“It's hard to tell which one belongs on the leash,” Amy said. “It's a clear case of the owner being uglier than the dog.”

“I think it's a toss-up,” I disagreed.

"Hey, Harvey!" Paulie called out. "When you gonna get that ugly critter neutered?"

"I'll neuter you!" Mad Dog shouted.

"And maybe a flea dip, too," Paulie taunted. "It's hard to pin him when he stinks like that!"

Mad Dog jumped up onto the ring apron, then turned his attention to me. "Say goodbye to your little friend and his little friend," he snarled. "He gets this belt over my dead body!"

"Hey, MD—you don't have to give me an extra incentive," Paulie shouted.

The bell was rung to start the match. It didn't get off to a good start for Paulie. Mad Dog was tossing him around like a rag doll. "It's like watching the T-Rex fighting the raptors in Jurassic Park," Amy commented.

I might have laughed, had anyone but Paulie been in the role of raptor. This was scripted? Paulie was being paid to have his bones broken? I wanted to jump into that ring and take on the monster myself. "This looks too real," I said in a low voice.

"Paulie's going to become champion tonight," Amy reminded me. "They have to make it look good.

It didn't look good to me at all. Stop it! I screamed internally. Leave him alone! The beating seemed to go on endlessly. “How's he supposed to win the belt if this monster keeps beating the crap out of him?” Amy wanted to know.

“I don't know,” I said, concerned. Paulie had told me they had to make it look good for the fans, but this beatdown was scaring me.

Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, they took the battle outside the ring. They were fighting brutally on the ramp, hitting each other with trash cans, metal folding chairs, ladders, anything they could get their hands on. Then they disappeared backstage.

“This can't be right,” I worried aloud. “They're supposed to fight out here, where the fans can watch. Paulie was right. This guy's out of control.”

“It's got to be part of the act,” Amy disagreed.

“I don't think so.” I kept my eyes on the entrance at the top of the ramp, waiting for them to come back. Then, abruptly, an image appeared on the jumbo screen above the entrance. Mad Dog was slamming Paulie's head into the front of a truck. Paulie's head was bleeding. “This isn't put on,” I gasped. “They're fighting for real.”

“I don't think so.” Before Amy could do anything to stop me, I pushed my way through the barricade separating the audience from the ring area and ran up the ramp.

“Who's that?” one of the commentators asked.

“I think it's the Punisher's girlfriend,” his colleague said, also for the entire arena to hear.

“The Punisher has a girlfriend? And she's human?”

“She kinda looks human.”

I ignored them. I ran to the backstage area to put a stop to the brutality. I found them near the production trucks. Mad Dog was still slamming Paulie into the front end of the truck. I looked around for something to use that might actually stop the brute. I found an empty beer bottle, grabbed it—and smashed it over Mad Dog's head.

He never knew what hit him. He fell to the floor in a heap.

“Mad Dog Mueller just got taken out by...a girl!” one of the commentators shouted.

Friday, February 13, 2015

"Is That the Garden Hose, Or Are You Really Happy to See Me?"

My third Valentine's Day excerpt was written before I switched to the multiple third-person character viewpoints I now use. It's from An Army of Angels and takes place after the wedding of Alex and Robyn, as Alex prepares for his first gallery exhibit.....



Robyn was worried about Alex.

He was so stressed over the exhibit, his anxiety was overtaking him. He barely ate, didn’t sleep, couldn’t make love. No matter how she tried to reassure him, he was a wreck.

“You’re worrying for nothing,” she told him. “You’re going to be a hit. A big hit.”

“You’re biased,” he said grimly.

“Yes, I am. But I know talent when I see it, and you’re the best,” she insisted.

She woke during the night to find him pacing in the darkness. She decided then she would have to resort to drastic measures to release him from his anxiety.

The next day, she found him in the studio, standing before a blank canvas, unable to paint. “Could you come outside for a minute, sweetheart?” she asked.

He shook his head. “I need to work.”

“You do, but you’re not. Get your butt out here or I’m coming in after you,” she warned.

Reluctantly, he put down his brush and went outside, only remotely curious as to what his unpredictable wife might be up to. “Whatever this is all about--”

He didn’t get to finish. A water balloon smacked him in the face, He reeled for a moment. “Heads up, sexy!” she shouted, another balloon in hand.

He was angry at first. “Stop!”

“Incoming!” she yelled as she scored another direct hit.

“What are you doing?” he asked, still bewildered, as the second balloon hit. “Stop it!”

Then he saw the child’s wading pool, filled with water balloons. She grabbed another and took aim. “Come on, defend yourself!” she laughed.

“Robyn!”

“Chicken!” She started doing her chicken dance, stepping high as she moved in a circle, arms moving up and down like wings.

He couldn’t help smiling. “Do you have any idea how ridiculous you look?” he wanted to know.

“You’re the one who’s all wet--chicken!”

He realized then that she had gone to a great deal of trouble, making a complete fool of herself, with only one objective in mind: to make him smile.

He grabbed a balloon and threw it, hitting her shoulder. Water splashed across her T-shirt. She only laughed. “Is that all you’ve got?” she challenged.

He snatched up another balloon and aimed. When the cold water spilled over her torso, she danced around, enjoying it. He hit her with another. Her clothes clung to her body, her hair a mass of wet curls.

For the first time in weeks, he wanted to paint. He wanted to paint her as she looked at that moment, wild, uninhibited, a free spirit who looked as though she’d just emerged from the ocean.

He wanted to make love to his wife.

His thoughts were interrupted by the smack of another balloon that split open against his thigh. He looked up at her. “You need to be hosed down!”

Robyn’s eyes widened as he reached for the garden hose. “You wouldn’t!” she gasped.

He only laughed as he turned it on, spraying her with ice cold water. “Surrender?” he asked.

“Never!”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” He turned up the force of the spray. She screamed and tried in vain to dodge it. He advanced on her menacingly.

“Alex, don’t you dare--”

He grabbed her wrist and held onto her, spraying her at close range. She squirmed wildly, unable to break his grip. “Give up yet?” he wanted to know.

“No way!”

“Okay.” He took aim again.

“Okay, okay, I give up!”

“Say it!”

“You win!”

“Say it!”

“You’re the master!”

“That’s more like it.” He dropped the hose abruptly and lifted her up. She wrapped her arms and legs around him and gave him a wicked grin.

“Now what?” he asked.

“Is that the garden hose, honey, or are you really happy to see me?”

Thursday, February 12, 2015

You and Me and the Mangy Mutt Makes Three

For my second Valentine's Day selection, I've chosen a scene--a few scenes, actually--from my 2009 novel Final Hours. Told from the viewpoint of the male protagonist, Jamie Randall, it's a story of love found in the aftermath of an earthquake for the ambitious businessman and freelance photographer Kate McAllister. Here, Jamie surprises Kate with a special gift that may backfire....



“Jamie, what are you up to?” Kate asked as I blindfolded her.

“You’ll see.”

“Can I trust you?”

I laughed. “No.” The same answer I gave her to that question in Rome. “Now, come with me.”

I led her outside and helped her into the Land Rover. She thought I was about to do something kinky--not that the thought hadn’t crossed my mind, but that’s not where we were going that particular day. She was frustrated, kept asking questions, like my sons when they wanted to know, “Are we there yet?”

“Are we there yet?” Kate asked.

“Relax,” I told her. I put my hand on her knee. I stroked her thigh. Her enthusiasm for things could be almost childlike. I loved that about her. Everything was an adventure. I wanted to marry her more every day.

Soon, I promised myself. Soon.

When we finally reached our destination, I parked the Rover and went around to the passenger side to help her out. I checked to make sure the blindfold was still in place. I kissed her. “What are you up to?” she asked again.

“No peeking,” I told her.

“I can’t see a thing,” she said, uneasy.

“Come with me,” I told her. I led her to the doors of the animal shelter and took her inside, then removed the blindfold.

She looked confused. “What are we doing here?” she asked.

“Getting you a dog,” I said. “You told me in Rome that you really wanted a dog.”

“I also told you I couldn’t get one because I travel so much,” she reminded me.

“We’ll get a dog walker to come look after it when we’re both away,” I said. “Now come pick your pooch.”

She opened her mouth to protest, but changed her mind. She nodded and kissed me. “I love you,” she whispered.

“You can show me how much later,” I told her.

“Count on it, lover boy.”

It didn’t take her long to select her dog. There were some cute puppies in the front cages. She bypassed all of them and found her dog--our dog--at the far end, a very large, pathetic creature huddled at the back of a cage, head hung low. It was the ugliest dog I’d ever seen, but for Kate it was love at first sight. She got on her hands and knees in the cage with that beast and hugged it. “Hey, there,” I said, “I don’t want to have to compete with any old dog for attention.”

“Look at him, Jamie,” she gushed. “He’s given up. He looks so sad.”

“If I looked like him, I’d be pretty miserable, too,” I said. She had such a soft heart. I turned to the caretaker and shrugged. “I think she’s made her choice.”

“I’ll start the paperwork,” the woman said with a nod.

Kate scrambled out of the cage. The dog hesitated. “Where did he come from?” I asked, wanting to be sure that any dog I got for her would be safe.

The caretaker frowned. “We don’t know. He was picked up roaming the streets. We estimate his age to be around seven years. He’s always been gentle. It’s really a shame people shy away from adopting older dogs. They make wonderful companions.”

“Does he have a name?” Kate asked.

“None that we know of.”

“I’ll call him Deeogee,” Kate decided. “What do you think, Jamie?”

“Deeogee?” I asked. “What kind of name is that?”

“A simple one. Easy to spell,” she said. “D-O-G, Deeogee.”

That was Kate. It could be the most butt-ugly thing in the world, but she’d find beauty in it. Deeogee was one lucky beast.

He could sleep with her every night. I only had her part-time.

***

She insisted we have a “family portrait”--her, me and the dog. She set the camera up with the timer and positioned us for the shot on the porch swing--me on one side, Kate on the other, Deeogee in the middle. “Family portrait,” I said, amused. “I am not that dog’s daddy.”

“How can you say that?” she teased me, turning the mutt’s head to look at me. “He looks just like you.”

“That was low.”

Her smile vanished abruptly. “I’ll have him to keep me company when you can’t be here,” she said quietly.

“I’ll be a permanent resident before you know it,” I promised her, not really sure how long it would take.

***

The dog adored her, right from the start. I, however, was not his favorite person. Deeogee was fiercely protective of Kate, to the point that he protected her from me. When I tried to kiss her, Deeogee would growl until I backed off. If we tried to snuggle on the couch, he’d wedge himself between us. The last straw was his determination to keep me out of our bedroom.

“I was here first, buddy,” I warned the hideous beast. “She’s mine--you’re just my stand-in.”

He started to growl, showing plenty of teeth.

Kate was laughing. She found our rivalry amusing. “What girl doesn’t like having two males fighting over her?” she reasoned.

“There’s not going to be a fight,” I said. “He’s out.” I reached for his collar, but the dog started to growl at me again.

“Maybe I’d better take him,” Kate suggested.

She took him to the hallway and closed the door. As she returned to our bed, we could hear him scratching on the door.

“Ignore him,” I said, taking her in my arms. I started kissing her neck, but she was distracted by the dog’s scratching.

“I can’t make love with him out there doing that,” she lamented.

“Sure you can,” I insisted, trying to kiss her again. Her heart wasn’t in it, so I released her. By that point, I was ready to haul the creature back to the shelter.

“This isn’t going to become a habit,” I said, aggravated. “If I had known how much trouble he’d be--”

“He’ll be all right,” she assured me. “He just has to get used to the idea that he can’t be in here when you’re here.”

“He’ll be a problem as long as he knows he can get his way with you by scratching and being a general nuisance.”

“I’ll take him downstairs and put him in your office,” she said, reaching for her robe. “I’ll be right back.”

“Promise?” I asked. “You’re not going to end up staying down there with him?”

“Of course not.” She gave me a mischievous look. “You’re a much better lover.”

I made a face. “Thanks--I think.”

I left nothing to chance. I intended to make sure there was no way Kate would hear that dog, no matter what he did, once he was locked up downstairs. Music. The right music would create a romantic mood and muffle any sounds Deeogee might make in a bid for her sympathy.

Kate returned a few minutes later. “It’s about time,” I said, welcoming her back to bed with open arms. “I was feeling lonely up here without you.”

“I’ll make it up to you,” she promised, dropping the robe. She climbed back into bed and wrapped her arms around me. “I love you, Jamie,” she whispered, nibbling on my earlobes. I loved it when she did that. My ears were quite sensitive. Surprising erogenous zones, but I got quite turned on when she went for my lobes, and she knew it.

“Mmm, that feels good,” I said, running my hands through that wild mass of red hair. “I thought you found my ears repulsive.”

She drew back. “Where’d you get an idea like that?” she asked.

“You said they were too big.”

She laughed. “You asked for my assessment of you as a model,” she said, stroking my jaw. “For modeling, your ears are too big and your nose is a little too broad--but for me personally, I happen to love everything about you.” She started to nibble on them again, driving me crazy….

***

The next morning, we found Deeogee sleeping soundly in my office--and the leather and stuffing chewed out of the seat of my expensive desk chair.

“He’s jealous of you,” Kate said over breakfast. “Isn’t that cute?”

I didn’t find it cute at all. “That’s what I get for saving that Sasquatch from the gas chamber,” I grumbled.

“Give him time,” she urged. “He’ll come to love you as much as I do.”

I pulled her onto my lap--and Deeogee started growling again.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Big Move and a Nod to Cupid--All in One Week!

As my tribute to Valentine's Day, each day from now through Saturday, I'll be posting scenes from some of my novels depicting love between my characters (makes me wish I hadn't already posted the wedding of Alex and Robyn from An Army of Angels so recently). I hope you enjoy them.

 
But first, I have news! Collin and I are signing with Creativia! I have said I would never go the traditional publishing route again, and I won't. Creativia isn't a conventional publisher--nor is it a vanity press--it's the best of both worlds for any author--full creative control with none of the grunt work. We are going to be releasing all of my backlist books in ebook and paperback format--and we'll be doing heavy revisions and rewrites on them, some more than others, to bring them into the 21st century (after all, these books were published back in the late '80s-early '90s. Since we're going to be using speech recognition software, it won't take nearly as long as you might be thinking.

But back to my Valentine's Day tributes. Today, I give you Connor and Lynne from Chasing the Wind.  These two have been thrown together in an isolated area of the Sinai Peninsula on an archaeological dig. Connor has an agenda--and he's a man on the run. Lynne is divorced and somewhat wary of her houseguest, but even more bothered by her growing feelings for him....

 
Lynne

I woke early the next morning with a splitting headache. It took me a few moments to get my bearings and realize where I was. I lay on my back on the couch, my legs across Connor’s lap. He was shirtless, sleeping in an upright position.

I tried to remember what had happened the night before, but most of it was a blur. I did recall celebrating the find, drinking champagne, kissing Connor….

“Connor.” I nudged him with my bare foot. “Connor, wake up.” I nudged him again. When that produced no results, I kicked him. “Connor!”

He woke with a start. “What?”

“Refresh my memory,” I said. “Why are we here, like this?”

He regarded me with a lazy smile. “You don’t remember?”

“Obviously, no.”

“We had quite a celebration last night,” he said. “I’m hurt you don’t remember. Most women find me unforgettable.”

Was he saying we'd had sex? For a moment, I wondered. “I remember the champagne, but—”

He licked his lips. “You were delicious.”

“Nice try, Merlin, but I still have my clothes on,” I realized.

“Getting them off was simple,” he said. “Putting them back on presented problems. I suspect I put your underwear on backwards.”

I pulled at the waistband to check. He laughed. “Had you there, didn’t I?”

I snatched a pillow from behind my head and hit him with it. He took it from me and threw it back. I caught it and tried to hit him again, but he blocked the blow. I sat up, throwing a mock punch. He grabbed both of my wrists. “Bit of a hellcat, aren’t you?” he laughed as he twisted me around so that my back was pressed against his chest, my arms pinned to my sides.

“Let go.” My tone held a warning note.

“Turn you loose so you can assault me again?” he asked, kissing my neck. “I don’t think so.”

“What did we do last night?” I wanted to know.

“Got off to a brilliant start,” he said, still nuzzling me. “Making out, you were all over me.”

Connor!”

“The champagne rid you of all those nasty inhibitions,” he told me. “Then you passed out.”

“Passed out? While you were—” I couldn’t finish. I was laughing too hard.

“You dealt a severe blow to my ego.” He nibbled my earlobe. “Now you’re going to make it up to me, aren’t you?”

“In your dreams, Merlin. In your dreams.”
  
      


Saturday, February 7, 2015

From the Pages of the International Intruder: Facebook Felon Freed!

Good news! As of last night, my partner in crime is out of Facebook Jail and back to wreaking havoc across the internet! I couldn't resist penning a story for our faux Facebook tabloid, The International Intruder, incorporating comments from some of our fellow authors as we welcomed him back to the asylum while plotting the release of another friend and Facebook felon, Shelly Arkon....




FACEBOOK JAILBIRD FREED!!!

Exclusive to the Intruder: There were celebrations everywhere on the internet last night, from Facebook to Twitter to Google + to personal blogs as wrongly accused Facebook writer and blogging scoundrel William Kendall was finallly freed from Facebook Jail. When asked for comment, Kendall responded, "I'm back. Big as life and twice as ugly."

Fellow Writers Mayhem group member/author Alan Jankowski had this to say to Kendall of his release: "There were some people here who seemed to think you were never coming back...."

His other Facebook peers had much more to say about the situation that kept him off the pages for two long weeks. Notorious Writers Digest lifer Lin Robinson was in a surly mood. "I demand to be suspended so people don't think I'm a wimp. I'm not suspicious and dickish enough for them? This hurts, really."

This reporter echoes Robinson's feelings on the subject. I'm really starting to feel like a total failure. I'm the resident troublemaker! Why are the powers that be leaving me alone? Am I not trying hard enough?


Author Eve Gaal: "Je Suis William...just because there's no one home at the asylum doesn't mean you guys can get all naughty and scandalous...."

Author Lisa Taylor: "Well, I plan to write something horribly scandalous as soon as I can think of it."

Author Mark R. Hunter: "This should get at least ONE of us banned, and then I can write a column about it."

Before we resume the celebration, let me remind you that the fight for justice is not over. Author Shelly Arkon is still confined to Facebook Jail and in need of help in obtaining her release.

Author Michael Kizzia had this to say of Arkon's suspension: "Shelly is suspicious? What? Glowstick and Hairball hacked into something?"

Author Timothy Hurley: "You can get suspended for scrolling past a cat video...."

Anyone up for storming the Bastille?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

We're Revolting--More So Than Usual!




Those of you who follow the blogs of my partner in crime, William Kendall or know him from Facebook already know that he's in Facebook Jail. If you don't already know what that means, Facebook Jail is a suspension for any variety of offenses that leaves the user unable to post, like or comment on the site. The details of how this came about are on his own blog.



This is William's second suspension. The first lasted for three days. The second was for seven days and was to have been lifted last Friday--but he is still unable to be active on the site. Some of us have rallied to support him, first on Facebook, posting about the situation and urging Facebook to make things right (I even posted a link to William's blog post on Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook page), then on Twitter--which caused a bit of a misunderstanding for one person who saw our Tweets:

 
Maybe I should have chosen #FreeFacebookJailbird as the hashtag...or #FacebookRevolt...or something, anything, that wouldn't look like I was looking for a wayward boyfriend! (I have to admit that I do find it funny, though.)



Anything posted online can lead to misunderstandings. I've had a problem with my Facebook author page. It was originally named Beishir Books, the label I chose as my self-publishing "publisher." Collin even designed a pretty cool logo for the paperback editions. The problem is that it has prompted some aspiring authors to query me, looking to get published with Beishir Books! The latest came a few days ago. I received a message via Facebook that made no sense to me. I'm guessing it was a translation issue. I asked the sender to clarify. She wanted to know if I was accepting submissions for an anthology.

I did a double take on my page. Did I post something that looked like I was an actual publisher seeking submissions? No. Did I mention doing an anthology? No.

WTF? (I'm pretty sure everyone knows what that means....)

So...would everybody reading this (except you spammers--you just go away) please join our campaign to bring William back to Facebook? The more people who make noise, the more likely we are to get results. Thanks!

2/6/15 Update: I received an email from friend/fellow author/blogger Shelly Arkon. She, too, has been suspended by Facebook, while another Facebook author friend, Cassandra Jones, has been continually harassed on her page by a woman Facebook refuses to suspend. Censorship at work? Sure sounds like it. At any rate, they can't silence us unless we allow it. I've posted for William and now for Shelly in their absence. If I'm suspended, I'll get Collin to post for me. We'll say what we need to say one way or another.




Sunday, February 1, 2015

Alex and Robyn's Outside-the-Box Wedding

Yeah, I know. I haven't been around for over a week now, but I have a good excuse reason. Two, actually. Collin got his tax refund and bought each of us a new tablet (which makes four for me, but they all get a workout).

Also, I realized not all of my books are available in print editions, and of the three that are, only two are up-to-date. Collin and I have been preparing the new and updated print editions through Create Space (and hopefully  to be followed by digital audiobooks in the near future. In the meantime, here's another peek at An Army of Angels, once again through the viewpoint of the female protagonist, Robyn Cantwell-Stewart....

My new tablet--with wallpaper featuring my favorite
character from Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket Raccoon!

Robyn


We were married on the beach at sunset. Unlike traditional weddings, everyone wore white, and we were all barefoot. Instead of the traditional bridal theme, Mattie played Wedding Song on his guitar as my father walked me to Alex and the preacher.
We spoke vows we’d written ourselves. “Nothing about our love has been what anyone could call normal,” I told Alex, “but it’s always been what’s right for us. May we always live our lives outside the box.”
He took my hands in his. “My life began the night I met you,” he said softly. “I was lost, without hope. You were my miracle. I give you my heart, my soul, all that I am.”
At the end of the ceremony, we kissed as our wedding party greeted us with wild cheering and whistling. We made our way to the SUV in a hail of birdseed--no rice, as it was harmful to birds that might eat it.
Paulie turned to Mike as we passed them. “April Fool’s Day,” he said, shaking his head. “Appropriate. And by the way, you owe me fifty bucks.”
For what?” Mike wanted to know.
Paulie grinned. “They didn’t make it to the wedding night.”
Mike’s eyes widened. “You mean--”
Yep.”
You were spying on them?”
Of course, you idiot.”
***


Everything was set up for the reception by the time we returned home. There were brightly-colored lanterns  hanging from the trees, stereo speakers positioned on the back porch to provide the music. Several picnic tables were set up. On one was the food, a potluck meal provided by the guests--and at the center, the wedding cake, made by my mother. Instead of the traditional bride and groom topper, the couple at the top of this cake were Beauty and the Beast.
It fits,” Alex told me.
I made a face. “This was probably Paulie’s idea--and if it was, I’m the Beast.”
Alex hugged me. “Nah--I don’t look as good in a dress as Jeri does.”
I rolled my eyes. “I really didn’t know he was going to do our wedding in drag.”
Alex laughed. “That’s going to be one strange wedding photo.”
I kissed him. “Yeah,” I agreed. “Wearing white just made Elroy’s hair and piercings stand out more.”
You know, I felt like a freak when I came to L.A.--but in this family, I actually feel normal.”
Normal? What’s that?”
I’m surprised the critters didn’t eat all this stuff while we were gone,” Alex said, looking around. The dogs and cats were conspicuously absent.
Mike locked them all in your studio just before we left.”
My studio?”
Relax,” I told him. “None of them like the taste of paint and canvas.”
The sounds of car horns and shouting broke the silence as our wedding guests arrived. They parked down near the studio and came up to the yard on foot, ready for a celebration. J.J. put the music on and announced the bride and groom’s first dance.
Alex took me in his arms and we danced to Shania Twain’s From This Moment On. For a brief moment, Alex seemed to forget anyone else was present and focused all of his attention on me. “You’re improving,” I whispered. “You haven’t stepped on my feet once.”
He nibbled my earlobe. “Song’s not over yet,” he reminded me.
We danced, oblivious to the crowd watching them--until the music abruptly stopped. “Karaoke!” someone shouted.
I knew what was coming. “Oh, no.”
All right!” Mike immediately set it up. “Paulie, Matt, Dave, J.J.--you thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?”
I doubt it,” Paulie said. “You’re the only one of us who’s had a do-it-yourself lobotomy.”
C’mon,” Mike urged. “We all know how much Robyn loves Manilow.”
Oh, no,” I whispered.
What?” Alex asked.
Got any earplugs?”
Too late. My brothers had lined up, arms around each other’s shoulders as they sang Can’t Smile Without You--off-key--and danced in a chorus line.
We should have eloped,” I told Alex.
At the end of the song, Paulie jumped up on one of the picnic tables, microphone in hand. “Can I have your attention, please?” he silenced the guests. “Whoever had April first in the wedding pool, come get your winnings. I think there’s about seventy-five dollars here.”
They had a pool to predict when we’d get married?” Alex asked.
I shook my head. “They’ll have a pool for anything. They once had one to predict when Dad would pass a kidney stone.”