Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Stereotypes are Not Character Creation

I participate in a lot of writing groups - support groups, networking groups, etc. It's part of the life of an author. Many of these groups talk about the writing process, which is always an interesting insight into how others approach writing.

One thing that I've noticed recently is a string of questions about characterizations. These questions are many and varied, but generally come down to this: "I'm writing a character that is gendered/racial/LBGT. What do you think about the character being XYZ stereotype?" Except they don't admit that what they are asking about is a stereotype.

Too vague? Well, some of them have been about how "hard" it is for men to write women and for women to write men. Why? Because men writers have to be careful not to masculinize women, and women writers have to be careful not to feminize men.

I ask for clarification, cuz I'm just begging the querier (shut up, spellcheck, it IS a word - the google says so) to take back the -ism. I've gotten responses like "women aren't as aggressive as men in the way they think", or "men don't look at the directions when putting things together".

These are stereotypes, my friend. And they make for bad writing.

I'm sure some of you are thinking I'm being pretty harsh. After all, we all know those guys who try to put together IKEA furniture without the paperwork, or the woman who backs down from a kitten. Yeah, I know those people, too.

So?

Those are individuals, with individual quirks. One of these stereotypes isn't going to break your character, but when you have a guy who never "thinks or acts feminine"... well, I don't even know what that means, first of all. Secondly... never? Never ever? Never has a single thought like "damn, that's a fine looking furniture set!"? Nada?

Characters like that are, quite frankly, one-dimensional and boring. It's a boxed-cake method of character creation, and the reader can tell. The really sad thing about it is that it is so easy to fix those characters!

The truth is, people are people... are people. To make awesome characters, think about the people you know. Think about the things they do, what you know about their emotions and thoughts. Use that.

Make a cheerleader character. Make her blonde and petite and pretty. Make her not very into school. Maybe she's a little boy-crazy. Then give her a twist - she's a super-powered chosen one who is destined to save the world from vampires and demons with her strength, speed and high-kicking ability. (Yeah, you know who I'm talking about - but there's a reason that character works.)

Using a stereotype and standing it on it's head in some way gets people interested. People do embody stereotypes to a small degree, but there's always something deeper. People are nuanced, characters should be nuanced, too.

I have two LBGT characters in Too Wyrd. The truth is, I didn't create them to BE LGBT characters... they just were. In other words, they are not **GAY CHARACTERS**. They are characters who, as their nature/personality/characterization came to my awareness, were gay.

I'm currently working on a character who is black and from New Orleans. I knew she was Southern, but it wasn't until I started thinking about her appearance and personality did I realize that she's black and Cajun - and ends up pulling Nicola out a a pretty tough situation.

These characters are not their characteristics. They are not stereotypes of these characteristics. They are just people facing issues - sometimes those issues are about discrimination, which lends even more nuance to the characters. It's a fascinating exploration of humanity to find all the ways that people can just BE people.

So don't spoil the people by making them a stereotype. If they have a stereotypical characteristic, have a reason for them having that characteristic. Make it a part of THAT CHARACTER.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Writing Dark

Image by David Ho
I've been struggling with my writing this month. I have a great outline. I have plenty of time. When I sit down to write, the words come easily.

So why do I struggle?

The piece that I'm working on - Fluffy Bunny, book 2 of the Runespells series - is really dark. There's physical abuse, mental abuse, psychological torture... And the character arc is all about overcoming what's in her own head, first and foremost.

I love my main character, Nicola. She's a great character.

So, I sent her to be brainwashed by a cult and killed her.

Yeah, she was brought back, but she experienced death. And her self-identity has been under fire. Her pro-active nature has been suppressed. Her love and loyalty has been co-opted.

I've been struggling to write because my characters are going through such a hard time, I can barely hold myself together in the face of their hopelessness and anxiety.

It isn't often that people really talk about the psychological effects of writing from a personal, in-the-moment perspective. I'm sure that my natural empathy for characters (mine or others') isn't helping my plight. In a way, I'm losing myself right alongside Nicola.

The thing is, I write what I experience, even if the experience in only in my own head. So, to write this psychological suspense, I have to make myself experience it. I have to create the situation in my head and figure out the emotions and the details of how that works.

It's draining me, little by little. But I think it will be worth it.

Friday, November 4, 2016

NaNoWriMo begins!

I will be engaging in the frustration and joy of NaNoWriMo, once more. I invite all to join me in this and write, write, write!

Also, check in and find out how I'm doing with this awesome word meter:  


Monday, October 31, 2016

Author Interviews for Twisted: A Horror Anthology – T.S. Dickerson

Once upon a time, a few weeks ago, I saw a thing of wonder on my Facebook feed. All authors know of this treasure - the submission request.

Yea, though I saw the submission request, and it was for... HORROR!

A horror anthology by and about women... Hey, I can do that! So I looked through my WIPs (works-in-progress) and my ideas spreadsheet (oh, yes, I do), and I found the perfect thing.

Coming out on Halloween, "Mirror, Mirror" in Twisted: A Horror Anthology!

I am participating in a blog hop type of thing with the other authors involved in this anthology to spread the interviews far and wide. So check out the interview below, as well as the other interview posts!


Name: T.S. Dickerson

Short Bio: T.S. is living a dream one day at a time. She loves blogging and reviewing books. She enjoys participating in the Collaborative Writing Challenge's projects and is the Story Coordinator for their sixth novel. She is currently finishing up her first full length novel which is to be released in February.

Name of Story Included in Twisted: "Initiations"

Describe the mood of your story/stories: Unsettling. I think my character is sort of darkly, deliciously ambitious and that colors the story as well.

Where did you get the inspiration for this piece? It was actually born from a prompt for a writing competition in an online writer's group.

What is your favorite thing about writing horror? Giving a nod to the darkness that exists within us all and coming face to face with the grim corners of my own brain in the process.

What are you working on now? Finishing up my post-apoc romance (The Scarring Underneath), CWC projects, and two projects that deal with hauntings.

Other published works? I had three chapters accepted into CWC's The Map. And The Scarring Underneath will be released in February, but nothing is available quite yet. Check out my blog at www.tsdickerson.com or catch me on Facebook or Twitter for updates!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Author Interviews for Twisted: A Horror Anthology – Stacy Overby

Once upon a time, a few weeks ago, I saw a thing of wonder on my Facebook feed. All authors know of this treasure - the submission request.

Yea, though I saw the submission request, and it was for... HORROR!

A horror anthology by and about women... Hey, I can do that! So I looked through my WIPs (works-in-progress) and my ideas spreadsheet (oh, yes, I do), and I found the perfect thing.

Coming out on Halloween, "Mirror, Mirror" in Twisted: A Horror Anthology!

I am participating in a blog hop type of thing with the other authors involved in this anthology to spread the interviews far and wide. So check out the interview below, as well as the other interview posts!


Name: Stacy Overby

Short Bio: Stacy Overby works as a substance abuse counselor for teenage boys by day and as a writer by night.  Her day job provides inspiration for a number of her stories, including her short stories “The Trial of Summer” and “Karma Incarnate” releasing in October 2016.  When not at work or writing, she is playing with her son, hiking, camping, or involved in other outdoor activities – as long as it is not too cold.

Name of Story Included in Twisted: Karma Incarnate

Describe the mood of your story/stories: Dark and vengeful

Where did you get the inspiration for this piece? Honestly, there were a number of things that came together to create this story.  I work with teenagers who have experienced significant trauma.  While I have to remain professional at work, inside there have been numerous times I wanted to go out and do evil things to the people who victimized my clients.  Another little piece is that I love fantasy and mythology stories, so the idea of abstract concepts, such as karma, being something tangible is pretty appealing to me.  Plus, there's magic.  Magic is always cool.  So, when I set out to write a strong female protagonist's story, it all came together to create Karma Incarnate.  Along with a little dose of research to flesh out a few of the concepts.

What is your favorite thing about writing horror? I love messing with people on a psychological level.  That opportunity to get people to look under their beds and over their shoulders is fun.  And I enjoy doing it in a way that lets people who struggle with blood and gore have some fun, too.

What are you working on now? Wow.  That's an excellent question.  I have a number of projects in the works.  Being rather ADHD, I struggle to focus on just one.  The two big projects I'm trying to focus on are a futuristic sci-fi novel and an epic fantasy novel.  I'm hoping to start querying my futuristic sci-fi novel early next year for publication later next year.

Other published works? I have a short story called "The Trial of Summer" coming out in an anthology called Tales from Our Write Side.  Unfortunately no links yet, but keep an eye on Amazon as it is being released October 2016.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Author Interviews for Twisted: A Horror Anthology – Katherine Bryant

Once upon a time, a few weeks ago, I saw a thing of wonder on my Facebook feed. All authors know of this treasure - the submission request.

Yea, though I saw the submission request, and it was for... HORROR!

A horror anthology by and about women... Hey, I can do that! So I looked through my WIPs (works-in-progress) and my ideas spreadsheet (oh, yes, I do), and I found the perfect thing.

Coming out on Halloween, "Mirror, Mirror" in Twisted: A Horror Anthology!

I am participating in a blog hop type of thing with the other authors involved in this anthology to spread the interviews far and wide. So check out the interview below, as well as the other interview posts!


Name: Katherine Bryant

Short Bio: Katherine Bryant is an author and artist hailing from Minnesota. When she is not busy writing tales of mayhem and adventure or creating miniature monstrosities from wool, she spends her time tending her menagerie and playing too many video games for her own good.
As with most humans, you can find Katherine on Facebook and Twitter, as well as her website.

Names of Stories Included in Twisted: "Taste So Good" and "Progress"

Describe the mood of your story/stories: "Taste" is both seductive and gory. "Progress" has a vibe that could be summed up as decay.

Where did you get the inspiration for this piece? "Taste" started out as practice for writing kissing scenes... but I was in a really bad mood when I wrote it, so it turned into its own monster. "Progress" came from a writing prompt.

What is your favorite thing about writing horror? I like being able to tap into that messed up part of myself and express it in a way that won't get me burned at the stake. Also, freaking people out is fun. My sweetie wouldn't let me kiss him for a week after he read "Taste So Good."

What are you working on now? Book two of my fantasy novella series "Branna's Song" and a currently untitled urban fantasy novel.

Other published works? "Branna's Song: The ColdwoodSaga" is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Author Interviews for Twisted: A Horror Anthology – R.G. Westerman

Once upon a time, a few weeks ago, I saw a thing of wonder on my Facebook feed. All authors know of this treasure - the submission request.

Yea, though I saw the submission request, and it was for... HORROR!

A horror anthology by and about women... Hey, I can do that! So I looked through my WIPs (works-in-progress) and my ideas spreadsheet (oh, yes, I do), and I found the perfect thing.

Coming out on Halloween, "Mirror, Mirror" in Twisted: A Horror Anthology!

I am participating in a blog hop type of thing with the other authors involved in this anthology to spread the interviews far and wide. So check out the interview below, as well as the other interview posts!


Name: R.G. Westerman

Short Bio: R.G. Westerman is a Self-Published Indie Author who previously worked full time as a ghostwriter. She decided she was tired of writing for everyone else and turned hands to keyboard for her own stories. Currently, she lives in Tennessee with her gorgeous husband and two genius children.

Name of Story Included in Twisted: The Spectre

Describe the mood of your story/stories: I like try to write stories which touch on the human condition in some way. At the end of the day we all fear something. I like to poke those fears with a stick and flip the rock over to see what is there.

Where did you get the inspiration for this piece? From a dream I had as a child.

What is your favorite thing about writing horror? For my short stories, I don't think I sit down with the sole intention of writing horror. I write the stories, and sometimes they end up being horror. That being said, I like a monster more than any human bad guy ever. Monsters are easy. Monsters are manageable. That's probably why I gravitate towards horror.

What are you working on now? Currently, I am finishing up the final episode of the Rising Ash Saga, Thorn, which will be available soon on Amazon. I am looking forward to NanoWrimo coming up this November. I can't say what genre I'm writing this time around, but it rhymes with bleampunk.

Other published works? The Rising Ash Saga - AshBlazeEden, and Rose.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Author Interviews for Twisted: A Horror Anthology – Juliet Meredith

Once upon a time, a few weeks ago, I saw a thing of wonder on my Facebook feed. All authors know of this treasure - the submission request.

Yea, though I saw the submission request, and it was for... HORROR!

A horror anthology by and about women... Hey, I can do that! So I looked through my WIPs (works-in-progress) and my ideas spreadsheet (oh, yes, I do), and I found the perfect thing.

Coming out on Halloween, "Mirror, Mirror" in Twisted: A Horror Anthology!

I am participating in a blog hop type of thing with the other authors involved in this anthology to spread the interviews far and wide. So check out the interview below, as well as the other interview posts!


Name: Juliet Meredith

Short Bio: Writing stories long before I could spell, I first received formal commendation for my writing in the 8th grade ('92/'93) when my student writing portfolio received the highest rating (distinguished) given under the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act.
Three years later, I auditioned successfully in creative writing to attend the 1996 Kentucky Governor's School for the Arts. This three-week program, considered a flagship of its type in the nation, seeded a love for my generation's voice and an understanding of the art of giving and receiving constructive criticism.
I earned my B.A. in English in 2001 from Transylvania University in Lexington, KY. Four years later, I began adding to my studies in creative writing through MFA-led community classes at what would later become The Muse Writing Center in Norfolk, Virginia.
Through moving to Oregon in 2006 and becoming a parent, I've continued my writing in poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Freeze Burned is my first short story to be included in an anthology and the first of my writing to be widely published in any way.

Name of Story Included in Twisted: Freeze Burned

Describe the mood of your story/stories: Readers will feel the enormity of what has already happened to the main character Icy within the first few paragraphs of the story. The most physically painful and psychologically scarring parts of her life lay behind her, but the character we meet still has intense "after shocks" to deal with.
I chose her nickname ""Icy"" for a number of reasons, not the least of which, I felt it worked well with a story that bombards the senses with suggestions of physical coldness. And for readers who manage to avoid getting sympathy chills, they're sure to still break out in goosebumps more than once while weathering the twists and turns of this short psychological thriller."
Where did you get the inspiration for this piece? I took the NYCMidnight Short Story Challenge in early 2016 and received the following prompt in round two of the competition: Genre - Horror, Character - Smuggler, Plot Point - A Confession. As I drifted off to sleep thinking about what I needed to weave together, Icy's story came to me.

What is your favorite thing about writing horror? Oddly enough, "Freeze Burned" represents my first foray into the genre. Up into my late 20's, I remained very susceptible to excessive fear and even sleep disturbances in response to exposure to horror movies. I shunned the genre in every medium. When I received the challenge from NYCMidnight to face this fear of my own, I found the process incredibly cathartic. It also bonded me to my character as she and I were both facing a fear we'd promised ourselves we'd never venture back to. Now that I've tried it once, I can't imagine not writing more in this genre.

What are you working on now? I have 18 novels I've started writing and none finished. I am currently taking part in the NYCMidnight Flash Fiction challenge, and after completing the second short short for it, I found I had much more of that particular tale (a fantasy) to tell, so in the immediate future, I'll be finishing, editing and workshopping another short story I imagine will fall right in the 4K-word range. November is National Novel Writing Month and I have a tough choice on my hands as to which of my 18 novel starts I'd like to try to finish.

Other published works? Freeze Burned is the first of my creative writing to be widely published.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Author Interviews for Twisted: A Horror Anthology - Lindsey Williams

Once upon a time, a few weeks ago, I saw a thing of wonder on my Facebook feed. All authors know of this treasure - the submission request.

Yea, though I saw the submission request, and it was for... HORROR!

A horror anthology by and about women... Hey, I can do that! So I looked through my WIPs (works-in-progress) and my ideas spreadsheet (oh, yes, I do), and I found the perfect thing.

Coming out on Halloween, "Mirror, Mirror" in Twisted: A Horror Anthology!

I am participating in a blog hop type of thing with the other authors involved in this anthology to spread the interviews far and wide. So check out the interview below, as well as the other interview posts!


Name: Lindsey Williams

Short Bio: Lindsey is a Jane-of-all-trades sort who is passionate about a variety of social issues. When she's not writing, she's been known to engage in numerous forms of self-torture such as participating in debates or translating things into ancient Egyptian. Some of her other hobbies include researching and/or analyzing pretty much everything to death, conducting culinary experiments, listening to really loud heavy metal while relaxing in her pool, and illeism.
She can be found at:

Names of Stories Included in Twisted: Fountain of Youth, Rancho Viejo, Scavenger Hunt, Bringing Baby Home

Describe the mood of your story/stories:
There are subversive themes in most of my work, and it definitely applies in all of my stories in Twisted. Things may seem one way, but when you give it a good think, you'll notice elements or little details that can change the way you absorb the narrative. There are always hidden questions, often left for the reader to answer themselves.

Where did you get the inspiration for this piece? I get most of my inspiration for my stories in dreams. Not sure what that says about me, but I do have some really messed up dreams...

What is your favorite thing about writing horror? I love writing horror because there are less boundaries, less rules. There is more of an expectation the material is going to be shocking or disturbing, so you can really step outside 'norms' and really explore.

What are you working on now? I'm currently trying to meet my December deadline for my series book two, Livelihood. On top of that I'm also working on 3 other shorts and a sci-fi story, Astralis, which I'm doing as a serial for free on Wattpad (LindseyWilliams83).

Other published works? The only other work I have published that's not being collected in this anthology is Motherhood, a sci-fihorror/thriller.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Author Interviews for Twisted: A Horror Anthology - Bartholomew Aloiscious

Once upon a time, a few weeks ago, I saw a thing of wonder on my Facebook feed. All authors know of this treasure - the submission request.

Yea, though I saw the submission request, and it was for... HORROR!

A horror anthology by and about women... Hey, I can do that! So I looked through my WIPs (works-in-progress) and my ideas spreadsheet (oh, yes, I do), and I found the perfect thing.

Coming out on Halloween, "Mirror, Mirror" in Twisted: A Horror Anthology!

I am participating in a blog hop type of thing with the other authors involved in this anthology to spread the interviews far and wide. So check out the interview below, as well as the other interview posts!


Name: Bartholomew Aloiscious

Short Bio:
Bartholomew Aloiscious lives with their spouse, four children, and many pets in Williamstown, Vermont. They enjoy family activities, reading, gaming, television and movies, and cooking.

Name of Story Included in Twisted: Blackpool Quarry

Describe the mood of your story/stories: Blackpool Quarry is dark and suspenseful, typical of an urban legend.

Where did you get the inspiration for this piece? The inspiration for Blackpool Quarry came from my daily life. My children are teenagers and my spouse works in a granite quarry.

What is your favorite thing about writing horror? My favorite thing about writing Blackpool Quarry was doing something I had never tried before. I love a challenge. I would eventually like to write in as many genres as possible.

What are you working on now? My current writing focus is on finishing the novel I have been pecking away at for years. Then I can allow the other stories floating around in my head to have the time and attention they deserve.

Other published works? I have a very short story on Amazon called Mary Anna's Journal,  and some poetry on Prose.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Author Interviews for Twisted: A Horror Anthology – Sarah Buhrman

Once upon a time, a few weeks ago, I saw a thing of wonder on my Facebook feed. All authors know of this treasure - the submission request.

Yea, though I saw the submission request, and it was for... HORROR!

A horror anthology by and about women... Hey, I can do that! So I looked through my WIPs (works-in-progress) and my ideas spreadsheet (oh, yes, I do), and I found the perfect thing.

Coming out on Halloween, "Mirror, Mirror" in Twisted: A Horror Anthology!

I am participating in a blog hop type of thing with the other authors involved in this anthology to spread the interviews far and wide. So check out the interview below, as well as the other interview posts!

Name: Sarah Buhrman

Short Bio:        
       I am an AuthorGoddess and freelance writer, specializing in children's stories, business writing, marketing copy, sci-fi/fantasy, and blog articles. An AuthorGoddess is one who embraces the divine honor of creating worlds with words in the hope of inspiring others.

Name of Story Included in Twisted: “Mirror, Mirror”

Describe the mood of your story: Suspenseful, Dramatic

Where did you get the inspiration for this piece?
       I had a dream where I was being chased by a mirror that was eating everyone.

What is your favorite thing about writing horror?
       I like tapping into the primal emotions of people.

What are you working on now?
       Mostly I'm working on The Crystal Wise (sci-fi), Paper Dragons (mid-grade fantasy), The Second Princess (YA fantasy), Fluffy Bunny - book 2 of the Runespells series (urban fantasy), and Threadreader - book 1 of the M.A.G.U.S. series (steampunk/magepunk fantasy).

Other published works?

       "A Little Dream" in Issue #1 Dreams Eternal magazine

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Character Backgrounds

How I see Joseph Andress
I love knowing so much about characters, and I know my own characters the best! But, sometimes, I don't know what I know about the characters until A) someone asks me, or B) I push myself to write some background.

I did some character backgrounds during the Too Wyrd Book Release party on Facebook. It was a lot of fun, and I got to bring out some details that had been rattling around in my head - useless to the plot of the book, but fascinating, otherwise.

One of the characters who came out with something... surprising was that of Joseph. I had known that he wasn't really looking for someone to love, but I never really considered why until I was writing this character background.

The details are wrong for Hound Dog,
but the feel of this image is perfect.
Other character backgrounds that were wonderfully insightful were those of Hound Dog and Detective Ames.

It's always quite satisfying when writing something about a character, even something so simple and quick, can make the author cry.

That's right, I was crying.

Apparently, it made others tear up a bit, too.

Check out the character backgrounds and much more on my website, authorgoddess.com

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Duel to the Death: the Hunter of Voramis vs Mercy (a bit of fun)!

I, Sarah Buhrman, challenge you, Andy Peloquin, to a duel to the death! But it is not we who will fight, but our characters…
In the yellow corner, we have Mercy the Valkyrie!
Tale of the Tape:
  • Carries a bowie knife that transforms into a sword
  • Master of virtually all fighting styles, having been on earth for hundreds of years doing Odin’s bidding.
  • She is a god-creature, an extension of Odin, she has no soul and cannot be killed–she is simply absorbed and re-manifested through Odin.
  • Mercy is protective, determined and compassionate – for a Valkyrie. Mercy is a manifestation of Odin’s empathy for humanity.
In the black corner, weighing in at 180 pounds, standing a cool 6 feet tall, the Hunter of Voramis!

Tale of the Tape:
  • Superhuman reflexes, strength, speed–think Captain America, but stronger
  • Thousands of years of weapons training
  • Body has accelerated healing factor–can survive a sword to the heart (can be killed by drowning, iron weapons, beheading, and suffocation)
  • Cannot be killed by anything but iron
  • Accursed dagger that heals him when he kills
  • No magical abilities whatsoever
  • No hesitation to kill if he perceives opponent as a threat/obstacle to his desires–classic anti-hero
Two enter the ring, only one can leave alive!
How would Mercy kill the Hunter? Valkyrie weapons are made of cold-iron, as that is a primary weakness of the Jotun, the ice and fire giants, enemies of the Aesir and of Odin. Mercy recently finished helping Nicola begin her quest, leading her sister-Valkyrie in battle against not-so-good-ol’-Bob and his demons, given to him by Jehovah (at least, they are pretty sure it’s Jehovah). She has experience with demon-kind and with monstrous creatures, and she will simply fight until the enemy is defeated. That’s what the Valkyrie do.
To kill Mercy: The Hunter would try to overwhelm her with his inhuman speed, strength, and skill. All he has to do is pierce her skin with Soulhunger, and the dagger will consume her soul. Not even someone with considerable magical abilities can survive Soulhunger’s bite–it was created to kill demons.
Who would win?
Faced with the almighty power of Odin’s messenger, one who wields the cold-iron (the Hunter’s weakness) of the Aesir, the Hunter would grit his teeth and fight until his last breath. With no soul for Soulhunger to consume, he would have no way to heal himself from the iron’s poison.
Winner: Mercy. Not even the Hunter can withstand the power of the gods.
Find out more about the legendary assassin of Voramis who would dare challenge a Valkyrie to the death!
Want to find out more about the legendary assassin of Voramis who would dare challenge a Valkyrie to the death? Click here to read about him…

Who do YOU think would win? Did we get the match-up right? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Find out more about Mercy, the Valkyrie warrior, in Too Wyrd.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Get Ready, Get Set, And...





It's almost here. It's right around the corner. It's so close, you can almost touch it. You might even say, you could...





PRE-ORDER TOO WYRD!

That's right. We have achieved the pre-order stage!

Are you excited? I'm excited.




So, go check out my new web site, The AuthorGoddess, to find lovely links, including this one, to the pre-order page of the initiates. (Don't forget to leave a review when you read it!)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Sugar Daddy, Excerpt, Part 6

This is a short story that I wrote many years ago. It holds a special place for me, as it was one of the few times I was really inspired to write non-genre fiction.

Content and language warning.


I crawled out of bed around noon with a mild hangover. After stumbling through the kitchen searching for some instant coffee, I stood next to the microwave waiting for the water to heat up. I glared around planning how to rail at John for the mess, knowing I’d never actually bother to talk to him about it.
It dawned slowly, that he was gone. The thought snaking its way through the fog in my brain finally latched on. I scowled at the messy kitchen, then shuffled through the house, room by room. Finding nothing, I slowly sipped at my coffee, nearly gagging because it was too strong.
I slumped onto the ancient threadbare couch wondering vaguely what I should do. The flashing message light finally caught my eye. I pushed the appropriate button on the second try and slumped back to listen.

I was the only person in the state who knew John intimately, so I got to be the one to identify the body at the morgue. I never cried in public. I told them to send the junk-heap car to the compactor. After hitting a tree head on, it wouldn’t have been worth keeping anyways. I cried myself to sleep for a week straight and started planning my move to San Francisco. I skipped the funeral.

I’d been planning on moving for years, but now I had to. I would need to get out of the house so John’s heir, whoever that would be, could do whatever with it. I tried to pack by myself, but I kept feeling guilty, or getting angry and throwing things, or crying. The crying was the worst. Finally, I just called some friends over and we had pizza and beer while packing up the few things in the house that were mine. The rest of my stuff was in storage, waiting to be picked up just before leaving town.
I called Liza in San Fran to tell her I was actually moving. She offered me crash space on her couch until I got on my feet. I told her that that would be perfect. I got online every night for a week, filling out applications for everything from data-entry to Micky-D’s in the area close to Liza’s place. I started and online journal, telling the world how horrible John was. Then I told the world how horrible I was for saying that in the first place.

“Janice Larson? I’m Jacob Sorens, attorney. Can I come in?”
I let the conservatively-dressed man in, kicking at the cat who was attempting to escape. I waved him into the threadbare chair that only matched the couch if all the lights were off and it was nighttime.
“So, what do you want? I’m moving out in two days and nothing’s missing…”
“I’m here about Mr. Allers’ will. You are Janice Larson, correct?”
“Yeah, but what…”
“I have here the last will and testament of Mr. John Allers.” The young man pulled a few papers out of his shiny black briefcase. “Ms. Larson, you are the sole heir to Mr. Allers assets, estimated at $250 thousand. I have some papers for you to sign.”

I just opened my own business, teaching yoga to trophy wives and mistresses for the San Francisco elite. We often go through our poses, keeping bodies in shape for men who care only about the bodies. Then we go next door to the mega-chain coffee house for non-fat lattes. We talk about the men who give money to their women and what we think about them, really.

Sometimes I think about John; the way he treated me, the way I treated him. And the bitterness I feel threatens to overflow, I blink back the tears with a wisecrack about the size of a penis, and everyone laughs. If anyone ever bothers to ask, and no one here ever does, my feelings for him are only this: I was with him for love or money. But never both.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Sugar Daddy, Excerpt, Part 5

This is a short story that I wrote many years ago. It holds a special place for me, as it was one of the few times I was really inspired to write non-genre fiction.

Content and language warning.


I lived this way for years, four years to be exact. I felt like a whore to this man, my Sugar Daddy. The bitterness was so strong that I could taste it when John’s hands crawled up my thighs. Yet, I almost didn’t recognize it when it splashed across my life like vomit at a rave. I began to hate him.

I used his money to go back to school. I only had a year and a semester worth left to go through for my degree in business administration. I told him I was too busy with schoolwork to get a job, so he paid for everything that my student loans did not.
I asked him to come to my graduation ceremony. Then I begged him. Then I demanded he come. Then I went down on him for twelve nights running. He said he would try to make it.

The day of the ceremony, it was really hot in the auditorium. I stood under the stage lights, beads rolling down my back underneath the black, rented graduation gown. I tried to peer into the audience several times, but the glare was too much and I kept blinking when the sweat ran into my eyes. I almost missed it when they called my name to walk across the stage.
My parents had shown up, surprising me, so in a way I was glad John never showed. They had never found out about John, and I liked it that way. Still, the bitterness was rising in the back of my throat. I convinced myself it was some gastric reflux caused by nerves.
I got home late that night, having gone to dinner with my parents, drinking with my friends, and then I called Billy for a quick romp. I didn’t bother checking the messages on the machine, since I used my cell phone exclusively. I never noticed he was really gone until the next day.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Sugar Daddy, Excerpt, Part 4

This is a short story that I wrote many years ago. It holds a special place for me, as it was one of the few times I was really inspired to write non-genre fiction.

Content and language warning.


 “Janice, perhaps next year we could move to Santa Fe. We could get that extra apartment we’ve been talking about.”
“I don’t want to live in Santa Fe. I want to move to San Francisco and start doing my painting.”
“We can get a time-share in California also, after we’ve settled in Santa Fe, where you can open a shop for your work.”
“I don’t want to open a shop. That would keep me from traveling.”
“No, it won’t. I’ll send you wherever you want to go.”
“Whatever. Can I get some gas money for tomorrow?”

We drove down the dirt road in his old rusty car, kicking up dust in the dry-heat night. It was midsummer in Nevada and we were on our way back home from John’s family in Vegas. He had introduced me to them as his assistant and slept in the same bed with me.
The next morning, I had gotten up early. I never slept well in strange places. I went to the kitchen to dig up some coffee or orange juice, something to wake me up. I had just started the coffee when John’s mother walked in. She stopped short for a moment, then recovered.
“I didn’t realized you were up, Janice. I was going to make some eggs and bacon for John. Would you like some?”
I nodded and offered to help, but she waved me to the table, already hunting for the pans and ingredients. I tried to catch her eye and start a conversation once or twice. She answered yes and no and sometimes, but watched the eggs as if she was cooking them with Superman’s heat vision. After a half hour of this, John showed up, yawning and relieved the tension for both of us.
Now, fourteen hours later, he drove fast along the empty road that he claimed was a shortcut. I could not see any lights as far as the horizon. He was talking about his family and growing up next to the casinos; anecdotes that had nothing to do with me, that I could not bring myself to be interested in.
“Are you awake?”
I kept my eyes closed and my head leaning against the seatbelt. “Hmm.”
“Do you think you could drive as soon as we get to the interstate?”
“I’m really tired. Can’t we get a hotel or something?”
“Oh, you’ll be fine to drive. It’s a straight shot.”
“I have to work the day after tomorrow.”
“You can sleep when we get home.”
“Fine.”
An hour later, I slid behind the wheel. John was asleep in the passenger seat before we hit the interstate. I turned the music on low and drove all night, stopping for gas at a station near Salt Lake City. I raided John’s wallet and kept an extra twenty for myself. The attendant got fresh with me and I gave him the look I give to gangster-punks back home. The do-not-mess-with-me look.
I didn’t get to sleep until midnight the next day.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sugar Daddy, Excerpt, Part 3

This is a short story that I wrote many years ago. It holds a special place for me, as it was one of the few times I was really inspired to write non-genre fiction.

Content and language warning.


My friends liked to make fun of John and the situation I was in. I laughed along and gave them fodder for their jokes. I never told them everything, but they never knew. Most of the time, we’d just talk shop. We ran a small discussion group for a psychology class, taking what we learned to the next level. At least, that is what we claimed. None of us had taken a psych class for years.
But, like I said, I never told them everything. I never told them that I craved John’s attention, even when it was degrading. I never told them that he didn’t just pay my bills and let me live with him rent-free. Instead of paying my bills, he would hand me a couple of twenties in the morning. I told them that I could turn him on like he was a teenager, but I never told them what the sex was like. I never told them about his war-games hobby. He loved talking about politics, world economics, warfare and strategies.

He talked about politics and warfare all the time, even when making love. He called it “making love.” I called it sex, or just fucking. He would talk about this obscure stuff while making love, running his hands across my stomach without really seeing it. It was as if that part of our relationship was a job that he was distracting himself from.
He would take off my clothes, and his own, discussing the platforms of various politicians. His caresses moved over my body in time to his monologue on whatever was on CNN that night.
His discourse on foreign policy, speckled through with criticisms of the government officials involved with the US invasions of whatever small country we had our thumb on, took on a rhythmic quality as he huffed and puffed and thrust. I could always tell when the explosive end was coming when he went into the strategies and tactics of his latest, favorite attack on terrorism. I swear he never saw fireworks when he orgasmed; he surely pictured the A-bomb. The saddest thing, though, was that he really seemed to feel that he gave me something special by doing this to me.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Sugar Daddy, Excerpt, Part 2

This is a short story that I wrote many years ago. It holds a special place for me, as it was one of the few times I was really inspired to write non-genre fiction.

Content and language warning.


I did eventually test his resolve in regards to sleeping around. That’s when Billy entered the picture. My Billy-boy was just…a thing, nothing I was going to be serious about. After all, he had nothing to offer me except a notch on my belt.
Billy was an assistant manager at the Mi Casa Taco, a local fake-Mexican fast food place. He reigned supreme over part-timers, students, and lifers—those poor middle-aged schmucks stuck in minimum-wage hell. I would walk across the street from the stuffy office where I did data-entry, a mindless job that encouraged both mental and physical atrophy. My co-workers were clique-y and work was all politics and brown-nosing. At Mi Casa’s, I would always order the double cheese enchilada’s, no onion, extra guac. If Billy was working it would be ready before I could order.
Billy could make me laugh with his posing, acting like he was all that. Once, he literally strutted around like an over-plucked rooster, back and forth next to my table, thrusting out his thin chest and smoothing back his perfect haircut. He reminded me of the football players in my high school – underdeveloped, but bragging about their…muscles. He asked me if I didn’t think he made the very best enchiladas. I shrugged and smiled, not answering, but by then he didn’t care.
Billy got me, mostly, because he liked to tell me how good I looked. “You’ve got the greatest ass, hon. You’re not too skinny. I like your tits. I love your hair like that, long and flowing, and red; I love you as a redhead.” It was always a sexy outfit to Billy, while John never noticed what I wore. It was odd; John seemed to like me for my mind.
Billy asked me out and I agreed to meet him on a Friday night at the local cheap-seats theater. He met me at my car and said we had an hour until the next showing of the movie. He climbed into the passenger seat of my old, full-sized sedan and we started talking.
We missed the movie because by that time we were screwing in the passenger seat. After two hours, he slipped out of the car and walked home. After that, he only called me when he wanted some, but he was good, so I never minded.
I, on the other hand, went home to John and told him what happened. He said something about winning back my heart and heated up a bottle of sake. He didn’t say “you don’t have to” when I went down on him that night. I knew that was all the punishment I would get. I smiled to myself when he got that surprised look on his face. They always got that look.

“Tell me what you’re thinking.”
“I’m not thinking of anything in particular, John.”
“Of course you are. You are so brilliant, you are always thinking of something. I want to hear about it.”
“I don’t know what you want to hear.”
“I just want to hear you talk.”

Friday, August 12, 2016

Sugar Daddy, Excerpt, Part 1

This is a short story that I wrote many years ago. It holds a special place for me, as it was one of the few times I was really inspired to write non-genre fiction.

Content and language warning.


When I first met John, I was unimpressed by everything about him. Except his persistent romanticism. That I enjoyed. He had this way of describing the future of our relationship like he had been there and seen it. It made me laugh when he related to me the unlikely scenarios.
“I will be stuck here in Colorado while you, Janice, you’re in the apartment I’ll keep for you in Santa Fe. And you’ll be having a party with all your friends, all gay. Except for Hans, the gorgeous young Dutch photographer who wants to sleep with you. And I’ll say ‘Oh, honey, don’t,’ but you will. And I’ll just h
ave to wait until I get back home and try to win back your heart.”
That was how he told me I could sleep around on him. I almost missed it in the drone of his run-on sentences about our future and his former life as a coffee-house poet and musician. He was apparently quite famous for a time.

That was the way it worked, though. He would drone on about what we “will” do and I would agree or disagree. Not that my opinion ever changed anything. He was always talking about how I would never really love him because he was 30 years older then me. Well, okay.
It wasn’t that I found him attractive, or unattractive, for that matter. His appearance was never an issue. His full head of white-gray hair and slight potbelly never really crossed my mind. He had smooth, clear skin for his age and had kept all of his teeth through the years. Maybe I was just satisfied that I didn’t have to remind him to take a fistful of pills everyday, or give him Viagra when I wanted some.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Love and Criminal Activity

This is a short story that I wrote specifically for a contest.



Halley Burrows knows that she is a very forgiving person, but everyone has that line. The line that cannot be crossed. The line that is unforgivable. Hers is messing up her morning coffee.
It's really quite simple. She chants the order each morning: Venti double shot, double caramel, peanut butter, toasted marshmallow, double dark chocolate, light foam, whipped cream, no drizzle, 120 degrees Fahrenheit. At least once a week, Halley had to deal with something wrong about her order. But not with Tom. Never with Tom.
Tom was a coffee god. Tom with the ability to make her morning drug with finesse and speed. Halley loves Tom for that, but he wasn't working today. Instead, it was Johnny, a good kid, but he was no Tom.
"Halley!" He called her name, holding up the brick red to-go cup with the brown cardboard band that would keep her hands warm on this brisk winter morning without burning them.
She walked out of the coffee shop and strode toward the crosswalk at the corner. She sipped at her drink as she waited in the herd of people for the light to change.
Oh, no!
She sipped again, searching for the taste of whipped cream and caramel in the upper notes of the drink's bouquet. As a public defender for at-risk youth, she had a pretty stressful job that frequently ended badly. Her coffee, made right, was all too often the only thing great about the day. But, apparently, not today.
She weighed her options for a moment and decided she had time. They could add the shots, mix them in and top with whipped cream without making a whole new drink. If she hurried, she wouldn't be too late.
Halley turned on her heel and took a step before running full-on into a large young man. The coffee splashed down her practical tan, cotton trench coat as she cried out in surprise. She lifted her eyes to stare up into the young man's face. He grinned and, in the weird slow motion that happens when prey encounters predator, she recognized the maliciousness in his face. The scream was already rising in her throat when he grabbed her purse and took off down the sidewalk.
"Stop! Theif!" she called. Desperately, she added "Fire!" just for the attention. Her business-wear heels wouldn't support running after him, so she stared helplessly as he ran past the coffee shop door, pushing people out of his way.
Then, he was body-slammed against the building by a police officer.
"Oh!" she gasped, wide-eyed, as she trotted over in the classic running-in-heels clop. The cop slapped handcuffs on the young man and passed him over to his partner before turning to her. It crossed her mind that the thief might be young enough that her office would be defending him later that day. Oh irony.
"That's my purse," she told the officer, a little breathlessly. She bent to pick it up, but the cop got there first and handed it to her. She found herself looking into the deepest, darkest eyes she had ever seen.
His face wasn't classically handsome - more like swarthy, pirate-y bad-boy good looks. He smiled at her, giving her a subtle once-over, his eyes lingering on her torso.
She blushed, angry. How dare he turn this into some pick-up moment! She opened her mouth to give him a piece of her mind.
"I think you spilled something," he said, nodded towards her coat.
Halley clamped her teeth down on her tongue, remembering the coffee disaster. Well, disasters.
"Yes," she began. Then she choked up. The adrenaline of the purse snatching was draining away, leaving the fear and shock, and now she wanted to cry. For her messed up coffee. For her spilled coffee. For being late. For being the victim of a theft. For being messy in front of this nice, good-looking cop. Her throat closed and her eyes watered. She cursed herself for having such an emotional reaction.
The officer's face relaxed and he smiled pleasantly. "I'm Officer Darin Cruise. I'll need to take a statement from you."
Halley nodded mutely.
"Can I get you anything, first?" he asked.
She nodded again. Then her mouth opened and words not under her control came out. "I need you to arrest Johnny. He made my coffee wrong."
The officer stared at her for a moment. He glanced her over again, before walking over to his partner and speaking with him for a moment.
Halley mentally yelled at herself. What could I be thinking? He must know that I couldn't be serious. God, I was such an idiot!
Darin returned. "Okay, let's go." He took her arm, gently, and steered her into the coffee shop, right up to the counter.
"Are you Johnny?" Darin asked.
"Yessir."
Darin dropped her arm, crossed his arms over his chest and gave Johnny an intimidating frown. Halley's heart picked up speed. It was just nerves, she told herself. It certainly wasn’t the masculine posturing on her behalf that made her feel a little melty inside.
"You will make this lady's drink," he said. "Correctly this time." He gestured to the pair of handcuffs at his waist. Johnny's eyes went wide. Darin continued, "Do I make myself clear?"
Halley bit her lip so she wouldn’t laugh. Johnny nodded and grabbed a cup.
Darin gestured Halley over to one of the tiny coffee house tables and held the chair for her. He grabbed a handful of napkins and sat across from her, handing them to her.
"For your coat," he said, gesturing at the mess.
Halley began wiping at the coffee and foam, grateful that she'd gone with the trench coat today. It would handle a run through the washing machine, and it had protected her business attire from the mess. She'd almost worn the hounds tooth wool jacket, which only came down to the top of her waist and was dry-clean only. That would have been a real disaster.
Halley eyed Darin across the table. He was getting his notebook and pen out to take her statement. Johnny set the new coffee down at her elbow. "This one's on the house," he said, his voice cracking, before he scurried away.
This time, Halley couldn’t stop the giggle that bubbled up her throat. She took the coffee and sipped. The pure heaven of her perfectly-made drink hit her tongue. Her eyes rolled back in her head and a low moan of pleasure escaped.
She suddenly realized how her behavior must look to Officer Cruise and she quickly straightened up, glancing at him. His beautiful dark eyes had taken on a gleam that made her stomach flutter.
Halley cleared her throat and concentrated on giving him her statement.
*   *   *   *   *   *
Halley tried not to slump or yawn while she glanced at the clock. It was court day, and she was in front of a judge for the seventh and last time. They were mostly arraignments, outlining the charges and entering pleas of guilty or not guilty. She wanted to be home, relaxing in the bath and not thinking about her lack of dating options for the weekend - Valentine's Day weekend, no less. Instead, she was waiting for the judge to pass his sentencing of her client, a 14 year old boy up for vandalism – spraying graffiti on a mom & pop hardware store.
Judge Harrison cleared his throat, ready to give the sentence. "Last night, I took a piece of chocolate from a box I'd given my wife several days ago. She was so upset that she stopped talking to me. What I had thought was just a chocolate was an infringement to my wife. It is important to understand when you have infringed upon another, but I hope she forgives me and gives me a chance to make it up to her."
The judge peered at Halley’s client. "In the spirit of the forgiveness and mercy I hope to get from my wife, and in light of the testimonies given on your behalf, I am sentencing you to one year probation and 50 hours of community service, the first of which will include cleaning up the wall of the hardware store."
Halley's shoulders slumped with released tension and she congratulated the young man, warning him not to get himself into trouble again before he left with his mom.
"This won't be the first time I've been thankful for chocolate at work, but never quite like this," she muttered to herself. She hurried to gather her paperwork and stuffed it into her case, thinking she would have all weekend to sort through it while binge-watching rom-coms and crying over both Ben & Jerry.
Halley was used to spending weekends alone. Usually, she preferred it, but Valentine’s Day was always hard on the single ladies.
She pulled her trench coat on and grabbed the remainder of her third coffee of the day. She turned to leave the courtroom and crashed head first into Officer Darin Cruise, spilling the coffee down the front of her coat.
"Oh!" she cried. "Look at what you did!"
Darin looked down at the spill. "I am so sorry, Ms. Burrows. I… It’s all my fault."
Halley blushed. "Call me Halley. I didn't mean to blame you – ” She stopped. "Oh, no! What day is it? Did I miss the court date? Why didn’t you call me if I was late? Will that man who laid hands on my Kate Spade walk free?"
"No, no. It isn’t that. That trial isn’t until next week." Darin frowned. "Who is Kate Spade? Did that man hurt her? Was she with you when he robbed you?"
"Well, there was a scratch, but..." Halley looked at him like he'd grown another head. "Kate Spade is the brand name of my purse."
They stood awkwardly staring at each other for a moment, then burst into laughter.
"Oh, wow," Halley said, gasping for breath. "You thought..."
Darin jumped in. "Will you go out with me this weekend?"
Halley gasped, then choked on the air. "W-w-what? On Valentine's Day weekend?"
Darin grinned. "Sure! It would make a great story for our grandkids." He waggled his eyebrows, making Halley laugh again. Then he frowned. “That is, if you can stand to let me make up for spilling your coffee on your coat.”
Halley wiped at the spill. “This does seem to happen whenever we meet.” She eyed the officer suspiciously. “But I suppose I can give you another chance.”
*   *   *   *   *   *
Saturday night, after a lovely dinner at a nice restaurant, and a funny movie, Darin took Halley to a local, all-night diner and ordered hot chocolate and apple pie.
They talked about their work and about the people that they met at work, about politics and pop culture. Halley couldn’t believe it when she glanced at her watch to find that four hours had passed while they were talking.
Darin drove her home, telling her about growing up with two older sisters and getting a make-over during a weekend slumber party. Halley laughed and told him about growing up an only child to parents who were several decades too late to be hippies.
Darin walked Halley to the door and hesitated. “Well, we made it.” He gestured to her coat. “No coffee spills this time. Am I forgiven?”
Halley smiled and leaned forward. “I suppose so.”
Their lips brushed and Halley gasped at the tremor that began in her belly. The kiss deepened and Darin slipped his arms around her as she clutched his shoulders.
Too soon, it was over, and they pulled away to stare into each other’s eyes.
"Mmm," Halley said, leaning into Darin’s chest. She felt a little shaky on her feet after that kiss. "I think you may be right."
"Of course I am," Darin said, grinning, then he frowned. "Right about what?"
Halley smiled up at Darin, loving the way his face lit up when she looked at him. "This will make a great story for our grandkids."
*   *   *   *   *   *
A few months later, Halley trotted into the coffee shop, waited impatiently in line, and grinned when she saw Tom at the counter.
“How are you doing this morning, Ms. Burrows?” he asked.
“Good, Tom. Yes, my usual.” Halley grinned mischievously. “I’ve got some bad news for you, though.”
“Oh?” Tom asked, looking over his shoulder while he steamed the milk. “I’ve got bad news, too. But, you first. Are you leaving me for another coffee shop?”
Halley laughed. “Oh, good heavens, no! My caffeinated loyalty is yours until the end of time!” She waved her left hand at him, letting her new diamond flash in the fluorescent lighting.
Tom put the lid on her drink and slid it over the counter before peering at the ring. He slapped his hand against his chest, as if to hold in his heart. “Oh, tragedy! Oh, woe! I have waited too long to sweep you off your feet!” he cried in the voice of a Shakespearean actor. “My dearest is now betrothed to another!”
Halley laughed at his antics. “Serves you right for assuming that coffee was the only thing I needed from a man.”
She sipped the coffee and sighed. Perfect. “So what is your bad news?”
Tom shrugged. “Had to let Johnny go. He couldn’t get anything but the simplest orders correct. I gave him several chances, but…”
Halley nodded, with exaggerated solemnity. “Some things are unforgivable.” She thought about the events leading to her meeting Darin, including her messed up coffee order. “But, then again, there are always exceptions.”
Tom grinned at her and waved away her money. “On the house. Consider it my engagement gift for you. And congratulations! You gonna show it off at the courthouse today?”

“You bet I am!” Halley shifted her lucky Kate Spade onto her shoulder, tightened the belt on her freshly washed trench coat and grabbed her coffee. She lifted it in cheers. “Here’s to love and criminal activity.”