Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Welcoming In 2015

I love this time of year. It's a time for baking, putting up the tree, getting out the menorah, and playing holiday music on the radio. I also play our traditional Christmas movies, which are the following:

Die Hard
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Silent Night, Deadly Night
Black Christmas
We're No Angels
Various incarnations of A Christmas Carol
Dead End

I haven't been writing much lately, but I have taken an assessment of my year. All in all, it was a good one.

It's good to take a yearly assessment to see if you reached your goals, or achieved ones you hadn't planned on. As my readers know, I write both erotic romances and dark fiction. I either published or saw accepted six short stories this year – three romances and three dark ones. I also succeeded in getting my first short story accepted by Cleis Press. I've been trying to get into Cleis for years, and I finally succeeded. Here's a list:

Dreadful Dissonance – dark fiction
Asphodel – dark fiction
Infection – dark fiction (antho coming in 2015)
Longing – erotic romance
Sleep Well, My Love – erotic m/m romance
Like A Breath Of Ocean Blue – erotic lesbian romance (this is the one accepted by Cleis Press. Will be published in 2015.)

Three of my novels are currently sitting at either publishers or agents waiting for an acceptance. Two are erotic romances and one is a family saga/thriller.

I didn't get into all the anthologies I had wanted to get into, but I'm satisfied with how I did. My goals for 2015 are to get at least six short stories published (either horror or romance, doesn't matter as long as I have a minimum of six), find homes for those novels, do more radio shows, and self-publish my new book of erotic fairy tales. I've already started finding guests for the radio shows. Two I'm hoping to snag would be fantastic guests, but I'll keep their names under wraps for now. That list doesn't sound like much, but it's actually more than enough. 

So that was my 2014. Many publishers are closed for submissions for the season, and I'm taking full advantage. There are a couple of anthology calls due by the end of January so I'll try to whip us something for them. Look for more fiction from me in 2015. 

How did you do in 2014? Did you meet your goals? What about 2015? What are you goals for the coming year? Do you make goals or do you prefer to wing it?

Happy holidays, everyone, and have a fantastic New Year.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tuesday's Tales - Dance

Welcome to Tuesday's Tales! This week's prompt is the word "dance". Eric and his sweetie are enjoying the Christmas season.

To read the rest of the stories by some fine authors, visit the Tuesday's Tales Web Site.


I held up a plastic reindeer. "This one is Dancer. I wonder if Santa called him Dancer because he could dance?"

"In that case, why was that other one called Vixen?" Eric asked.

I smacked him on the arm, and he only laughed at me. We stood in the living room decorating the tree. I had spread open the drapes so we could see the snow falling outside. So festive. I placed the reindeer ornament on a branch of the blue spruce. We bought a real tree as we did every year, but this year we splurged on a blue spruce. It set us back $60 but we felt the expense was worth the Christmas cheer.

Most of the Christmas ornaments were mine. Eric's ornaments came from a tattered box he found in Walmart, and he wasn't emotionally attached to them. Mine were old, and they held special significance for me.

Eric held up a terra cotta ball with turquoise embedded in the clay. "Where did you get this one? It looks Southwestern."

"It is. I bought it in Tucson, Arizona the first time I went there."

"I'll take you to Tucson someday. Then you can buy more Christmas ornaments."

"We need to plan that trip." He handed me the ornament, which took a place of honor at eye level on the tree.

He held up an orange plastic ball with string tassels hanging from it. "What's this one?"

"It's Korean. I've had it since I was a child. My Korean pen pal sent it to me."

"You never told me you had a pen pal."

"Never came up in conversation. She sent me ginseng tea, and I sent her Hershey's chocolates. I got the better deal." I took the ornament and placed it on the tree. "This was one decoration she sent me. I have two others in the box somewhere. They aren't Christmas ornaments, but I use them that way."

"It's very pretty." He held up a ceramic Santa. "I know who this guy is."

"I love that ornament. It's hollow with a hole in the bottom. You stick a Christmas light in there and the tree lights it up. Here, like this." I took the ornament, positioned it directly above a twinkling light, and shoved the light home. "See? Instant lit up Santa."

He gave me a smirk when he held up a dark figure of a goat with its tongue hanging out. "So you have a Krampus ornament? Does your Christian mother know?"

"She'd never understand it, and I don't have the patience to explain it to her." I laughed.

"Oh, boy, now you sold me." He said as he held up a large plastic one with lights all over it. "A Klingon war bird? Do you have the others?"

"Yup. I have the Enterprise and a Romulan vessel." I took the Klingon ship and hung it from a branch. Then, I removed the light from the string directly below the ornament and plugged the ornament into the string. Instantly, the war bird's lights flashed at the corners and on the top.

"That is the coolest thing I've ever seen. Where did you find them?"

"At a Star Trek convention. I couldn’t pass them up."

"I don't blame you. I have the Enterprise, but not the whole set."

"They're great fun. Every time people see them I get comments."

"What about these guys?" He held up a small Siamese, a Persian, and a Tuxedo. "Is this the Crazy Cat Lady starter kit?"

"Now you're just being silly." I took the ornaments from him and scattered them about the branches. Then I pointed to an oblong box inside the larger box of lights and ornaments. "Hey, hand that box to me, please."

He held it up and his face lit up. "I love these kinds of lights. They've made a comeback recently."

"I know. Bubble lights are the best." I plugged in the bubble lights to the end of the string of twinkling lights. They immediately shined green, red, and blue. I positioned them on the sturdier branches so that they would be easily seen. "They'll take a few minutes to begin bubbling. My best friend's family had glass bubble lights on their tree when I was a kid, so when I saw them for sale about ten years ago I had to have them. These are plastic, but I like not breaking one every two seconds."

Eric pulled a small box from the larger one. "I remember these. This one is a dragon. They're very cool looking."

"They're replicas of carousel horses from the Smithsonian Institution. I have the zebra, dragon, and warrior horse. I've always wanted the cat, but I never got around to buying it."

"Well, in that case…" Eric dug into the box until he reached the bottom. He handed a gold and silver wrapped box to me. "Open this."

I was surprised. How did he hide this box with all my other ornaments, and I didn't see it? The box was the same size, shape, and weight as the dragon box. My heart skipped a beat. "You didn't."

He grinned. "I did."

I tore open the paper until I saw the box beneath. Inside I found an ornament of a white cat running with a fish in its mouth. "Where did you find this? I've had these since the '90s, and I've never seen them anywhere for sale."

"eBay is my friend." He said with a smile.

"And you knew I wanted it!" I wrapped my arms around Eric and held him tightly. "You always know exactly what I need."

"Well, I don't know if you need the cat ornament, but you sure wanted it."

I kissed him. "You're perfect for me. Thank you."

"I'd do anything to please you. You know that."

We finished decorating the tree and then sat down to a lamb and asparagus dinner. With the tree lit, "Silent Night" playing on Internet radio, and a delicious dinner, I couldn't have asked for a better holiday season. All thanks to Eric and his love for me.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tuesday's Tales - Stuffed

Welcome to Tuesday's Tales! This week's prompt is the word "stuffed", obviously inspired by Thanksgiving. I've set Eric and his sweetie onto another wacky adventure.

To read the rest of the stories by some fine authors, visit the Tuesday's Tales Web Site.


We sat down with the children at a small, rickety table for Thanksgiving dinner.

"Mom, I'm 29. Why do I still have to sit at the kid's table?" I asked my mother.

"There's no room at the adult table. Maybe next year." Mom said.

"You say that every year." I said.

"I don't mind sitting at the kid's table. I have the heart of a child. I keep it on a desk in my office." Eric said with a wicked grin.

"Oh, Eric, that's awful!" My mother said.

"Don't mind him." I punched him on the arm. "You only have an inner child because you have no outer adult."

"I can't take credit for the line. Stephen King said it first." Eric said.

"When will we get to sit at the adult table? I don't want to spend my Thanksgiving dinner wiping green bean casserole slobber from a toddler." I complained.

"You won't. Stop arguing." Eric said. "Food's coming."

The feast rivaled last year's meal. Crescent rolls fresh and warm from the oven made their way to our table. I grabbed two and so did Eric. Rather than send the basket of rolls back to the adult table, he put it in front of him.

"Crescent rolls are cool. They stay here." He said.

I shrugged it off and ignored him.

Succulent turkey made its way to our table. I took a thigh and some breast meat and passed it on to Eric, who took a leg and some breast meat.

"Eh, send the turkey back. Let the adults have it." Eric said as he handed the platter of turkey over to one of my uncles at the adult table.

The green bean casserole, candied sweet potatoes, and sauerkraut made their way to our table. Eric and I dished out healthy samplings of the beans and sweet potatoes but let the sauerkraut go. He looked at my plate brimming with goodies and raised an eyebrow.

"You know you can't eat that much food. You're going to be too stuffed for pumpkin pie." He said.

"I'm never too stuffed for pumpkin pie." I replied.

"We'll see. You'll know I'm right. I'm always right." He grinned and winked at me. "We keep the beans and sweet potatoes. They're cool. The adults can keep the sauerkraut." He placed the bowls of beans and potatoes in front of him with the crescent rolls and handed the sauerkraut to my uncle.

Scalloped corn and regular potatoes made their way to our table only to be handed off to my uncle. The same thing happened to the gravy. Eric kept the cranberry sauce. I wondered when someone would notice there was a bottleneck at the kid's table. It was my father who noticed.

"Where're the rolls and sweet potatoes?" He turned to us. "Are you kids hoarding the good food again?"

"This is what you get for making us sit at the kid's table." I said as I poked Eric with my elbow. He handed the food to my uncle.

"We were holding it hostage until we got our way." Eric said.

My mother appeared with two chairs. I had no idea she had left the room. "Alright, you two. You get your wish. Come to the adult table."

As we made our way to our new holiday tradition of sitting with the grown-ups, a toddler cousin of mine appeared in the dining room wearing only his sweater, socks, and sneakers. Otherwise, he was buck-naked. "Mom, the toilet's clogged up." He said.

"Oh, God, no," My aunt Helen said as she shot up out of her chair. "You didn't flush your underwear down the toilet again, did you?"

My cousin gave her a wry smile.

As my father ran off to the bathroom to remedy this latest disaster, Eric and I sat down to enjoy our turkey dinner amid my crazy family. If it wasn't a clogged toilet or Eric holding the good food hostage, it would have been a boring Thanksgiving. That's never the case with my family. At least Roto-Rooter made a mint from us. It's the most plumberful time of year.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tuesday's Tales - Lake House

Welcome to Tuesday's Tales, where you the reader get to read new stories every week based on a word or picture prompt. This week's Tuesday's Tale is a picture prompt of a lake house. We have only 300 words to work with. Once again, I bring Eric out to play, but he's being quiet this week. Very unusual for Eric.

To read the rest of the stories by some fine authors, visit the Tuesday's Tales Web Site.


Doing nothing was a lot easier than you'd think. After going for a swim in the lake, Eric and I sat in the living room in front of a roaring fire, enjoying each other's company.

We didn't talk. The TV wasn't blasting. Music didn't blare over the loudspeakers. A loon's plaintive cry sounded over the lake. Crickets chirped. A breeze blew through the trees. The fire cast a glow over the room, and its warmth covered me like a child's blanket. I lay in Eric's arms on the couch, sipping hot cocoa, not saying a word.

I thought about our twenty years together; how much we had grown in each other's embrace. Our bodies had softened and our minds had sharpened, but we never tired of each other. We gave each other surprise gifts when there was no special occasion long after other couples gave up. Eric's thoughtfulness drew me closer to him. He lived to see me happy, and I wanted to bring as much joy to his life as I could. He was my rock. My foundation. Without him I would be lost.

Fire crackled in the hearth. This cabin by the lake was new to us, but it would become a familiar haven to get away from life's stresses. Not that we had much stress. Simplifying our lives over the years, we had eliminated the fast pace, rush hour traffic, debt, and other hazards of living. We had each other, our son, and our four cats, one of which curled in his lap. We brought Lucky to the beach house to keep us company.

As I basked in the quiet, I relished how good I had it. Others weren't so lucky. Grateful, I sipped my cocoa and closed my eyes. Life was good.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Tuesday's Tales - Flower

Happy Tuesday and welcome to my latest Tuesday's Tales entry. This week's prompt was "flower". I wanted to write something a little different rather than the usual gift of bouquets of roses that immediately popped into my head. Hence this week's story, which is another adventure between Eric and his sweetie.

To read the rest of the stories by some fine authors, visit the Tuesday's Tales Web Site.


Eric got another bizarre idea in his head. He took me to a museum to see the stinkiest flower on earth. The Cape Ann Botanical Garden was only a twenty minute drive from home. We arrived mid-afternoon, just as the line to see Amorphosphallus Titanum in all its glory had died down.

"You can't be like other men and buy me a bouquet of roses?" I asked.

"What other men have bought you roses?" Eric asked with a twinkle in his eye.

"None, silly. I just don’t know what's so special about a flower that stinks."

"You'll see. You've never seen anything like this in your life." He said as followed the crowd down the hallway into the main area of the Gardens. The sweet smell of roses, sweet pea, and butterfly bushes floated around me. I stopped to admire some spider plants growing out of a tall tree.

"Now that's neat-looking. I love spider plants. They're easy to grow," I said. "Didn't I see some starter plants for sale at the front door?"

"Yes. We can get one when we get out." He took me by the hand and guided me away from the greenery. "The big one is down this way."

"Tell me again why we're seeing this?"

"Because it's impressive and it's new. The Gardens has been on a waiting list to get one of these babies. Now, it's blooming and it's supposed to be something incredible to behold."

"Even though it smells like spoiled meat."

"Yes. Even so."

I thought he was exaggerating, but I wanted to humor him. He was so excited about this silly plant that I played along with him. We'd see it, ooh and ah, and then go out for lobster dinner.

"It's right around this corner. You'll be impressed. You'll see."

"I'll take your word for it. It couldn't be any worse than that durian fruit we found at the Asian grocer. That stuff smelled like a rancid onion had married a pair of dirty gym socks." We turned the corner. "I guess I'll believe it when –"

The stink struck me hard in the face. It was unlike anything I had ever smelled before. Noxious and unbelievably vile, I now understood why this flower was nicknamed the Corpse Flower.  It must have been ten feet tall, and it looked like a calla lily that had gone insane. The "petals" – I didn’t know what else to call them – were deep red in color and the dark purple inner stalk nearly touched the ceiling. It looked like a flower made of meat. The smell was a sickening sweet stench similar to rotting pork but much, much worse. My eyes watered; the smell was so intense.

"What the fresh hell…" I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand.

"Impressive, isn't it?" Eric asked. "It's pollinated by dung beetles and flesh flies."

I had to admit it floored me. "It's stunning in a disgusting and beautiful way." I could only stare at it as I fought the urge to sneeze.

Eric already had his iPhone out and took pictures of it. "For your Facebook page. You can tell everyone I took you to see a Corpse Flower. Now, what do you say we go around and visit the less noxious plants?"

We spent the rest of the afternoon admiring water gardens and seasonal blooms. My favorite area held the tropical plants. I stuck my nose in everything to get the smell of that Corpse Flower out of my nose, but nothing worked. It was like a noseworm, stuck there until something else replaced it. On our way home, Eric stopped at a florist and bought me a dozen red roses, mainly to get the smell of the Corpse Flower out of my nose. It worked. That flower would haunt me in dreams for the next week. I must admit, I loved my exertions with Eric. I never knew what to expect. He knew he owed me a lobster dinner so we headed straight for Lobstah Land to end our exciting evening.


Author's Note: Amorphosphallus Titanum is a real plant, and it does smell like a rotting corpse. For more information, see its Wikipedia page.