Friday, March 26, 2010

Flash Fiction Friday

Come on over for an X-rated read if you are in the mood and over eighteen. But be warned, there is explicit male/male interaction. Read if you dare.

Sand Castles

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday Thirteen for March 25, 2010

Suffering from a minor gastro-intestinal anomaly this morning, I decided to make a list of one of my greatest pleasures – spicy foods. I’ll list them roughly from mildest to hottest. Some of them actually have warnings for people with breathing problems, so please understand that it’s taken me years to build up to many of these. Otherwise, you’ll have to sign a waiver (just kidding, though I’d love comments).

1. I’ll start with plain old-fashioned red pepper flakes – I love the versatility and buy it in the super-size cartons; great on pasta with marinara sauce

2. Andy Capp Hot Fries – what makes me mention them is that they were my earliest introduction to heat in a childhood home where the hottest thing my parents have to this day is chili powder

3. Frank’s XXX – now onto the serious list I’ll first mention that Frank’s carries a milder version without the “XXX” insignia and it’s still good, better in my opinion than the famous Tabasco with less of the overwhelming vinegar (forgive me, Tabasco people, and know that I still love my six art posters featuring your bottle!)

4. Carolina Gold – I found this at a diner while visiting my parents and liked it so well I purchased a whole case off the internet rather than wasting time in a brick and mortar store search

5. Family Value generic salsa – seriously! It’s got a great, fresh flavor

6. Melinda’s Mango Hot Sauce – I honestly haven’t tried the hotter stuff; it’s not all about the Scoville units

7. Pain is Good salsa – I need to try some of their sauces

8. Bird’s Eye dried chilis – this treat from Thailand kicked my late aunt’s Mongolian beef recipe to a new level, the memory is making me sweat; in Thailand it’s called phrik khi nu, literal: mouse dropping chili (I think due to the size and shape, though their mice must be huge!)

9. Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin’ – last night I had a shot and beer at the bar followed by the lower rated Wild sauce and found myself in a very happy place – I’ll have to remember that next time; drink first and eat after!

10. Rooster’s Super Killer – the first time I had this, I almost fell off my bar stool; on work nights the Donkey sauce is my choice even after the second hottest Killer

11. Quaker Steak and Lube Atomic Sauce – though I swear they’ve “dumbed it down”, I like it on their skinless chicken salad – removing the fat really cranks up the experience

12. Endorphin Rush – well-named, it’s more of an additive to cooler and less bitter sauces; pairs well with Frank’s

13. Dave's Gourmet Ghost Pepper Naga Jolokia Hot Sauce– I haven’t dared revisit this dangerous flavor adventure since a teaspoon on my homemade chili kept me awake five hours later as it tried to eat through the wall of my stomach

I lament that my current office is several minutes’ walk from the restroom. So many hot foods, so little time. Sigh…

Maybe I’ll retire to Thailand.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Smart Aleck

After listening to a devastating NPR radio segment on schizophrenia, my husband and I naturally resorted to joking. Some time later he revisited the topic with reference to the subjectivity of sanity. He thought our exchange was amusing enough to share, so here you go.

Him: At least I don’t hear voices in my head, at least that I’ll admit to.

Me: What was that? I couldn’t hear you.

Okay, so it reads a bit cliché in print. So much of humor is in the timing, though, and my timing was spot on that night.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday Thirteen

Thinking on what to share for my list today, I suddenly thought of my favorite visitors to birdfeeders. While my interest cooled upon returning to full-time employment, these critters were great entertainment back in the day.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Tufted Titmouse – I wonder what the plural is?



Hairy Woodpecker

Red-tailed Hawk – technically drawn by the birds at the feeder, of course, though I never saw their hunts succeed

House Finch

Downy Woodpecker

Cowbird – watching greedy babies eat from adoptive parents much smaller than them is quite amusing

White-breasted Nuthatch

Pileated Woodpecker – that huge bird was a surprising joy to find


Turkey Vulture – okay, maybe they never came to the feeders but their sheer number throughout the summer is stunning

Friday, March 12, 2010

Flash Fiction Friday

The Dojo

Approach from any angle showed off the new building’s alien shape amongst indigenous domes. This planet had never before seen ancient Japanese architecture. The brilliantly engineered outer surface resembled rice paper. Each wall appeared impossibly delicate, amusing the locals. Most watched Michael’s design constructed with dubiously nictitating membranes.

Just like gawkers back on earth, neighborhood K’ Dell had gathered soon after the first big storm kicked off the He’ Keck season. Those expecting a vacant lot scattered with debris found disappointment. And as the disappointed onlookers left the scene, only one figure remained behind – the being who’d headed construction.

Michael thought of the city’s chief building engineer with bemused fondness. Were they friends or was the human simply convenient entertainment? Michael didn’t know. It wasn’t an unfamiliar feeling to the former Corporate Stress Reliever, just eerily odd considering he didn’t think their anatomies were compatible for intimacy. Certainly, their minds were not upon preliminary introduction, but the young man sensed progress toward understanding.

He put his hand on the cool, solid surface that fooled the eye. Then he realized he stood illegally on the religious runes required by national law. Looking around with chagrin and a thrill of fear, Michael stepped back to the ped-belt.

The constant conveyance had taken getting used to. In fact, he had not yet completely succeeded.

An inelegant hop to the door made his lover laugh. He grinned even as his cheeks reddened. Simon would always have that affect on him, he hoped, whatever soil they called home.

“I’ve been waiting for you. I didn’t want to see what they’ve done inside before you did. The outside is certainly beautiful, though it doesn’t outshine you.”

“Are you getting sentimental on me, Simon?”

“Yes, if you call this sentimental,” he retorted, pulling Michael into a kiss that met surprising resistance.

“We shouldn’t do this here. There are eyes everywhere,” Michael warned nervously.

He had gotten frighteningly close to serving jail time shortly after their initial arrival. Patting a K’ Dellian child on the head seemed totally innocuous and yet had caused an immediate uproar. Lip locking his partner could never be mistaken for innocent. And Michael didn’t want the pleasure of visiting the local constabulary ever again. Being checked for internal and external contaminants once, coming through planetary customs, had been more than enough. The invasive procedure did not top his tourist’s list of things to do in K’ Rack.

Then again, this building testified that he and Simon were not merely visiting.

The larger man obligingly grabbed his young lover and pulled him bodily into the foyer. As often happened, their alien DNA failed to trigger the auto closure and Michael started to bare his teeth in annoyance. Before he completed the grimace, Simon smacked an oddly placed rune and the door obeyed, sliding silently to shut out the pearlescent fog. A few final tendrils clung to them and Michael, still enchanted by their resilience, would have touched a ghostly finger but for his bewilderment.

“How did you do that? What did you do?”

“I had an override hidden in the wall design. You’re not the only one who befriended Sam.”

“Sam? Oh! You mean “S’ Amknud?”

“Yeah, Sam,” Simon repeated defiantly, a touch of self-ridicule lacing his tone.

“You need to try harder with the local dialect. Otherwise, you’ll never impress anyone in the business community.”

“I was hoping to live off of your earnings here,” Simon proclaimed with a wave toward the inner doors.

“Don’t try to sweet talk me. You know I want you to believe in my dream. But if you don’t start trying to pronounce names correctly, I’ll… I’ll.”

“You’ll what?”

“I’ll tell everyone I meet to call you ‘Mr. X’,” Michael hooted, mockingly twisting his neck so that red-gold waves swung over his shoulder.

“Oh,” Simon croaked, snatching a curl, “you haven’t called me that in too long.”

“Well, let’s check out the dojo proper and we’ll see what we can do about that when we get home. I’m not even sure we’re supposed to be touching in the foyer. It’s considered public space, ergo, government property.”

“How long does it take to get over a plague scare? I thought that happened a thousand earth years ago?”

“And since when do you know of religious fervor to fade entirely? It’s a theocratic state. We’re lucky to be considered people and not C’ Hattle here.”

“Now, that word I can handle. It sounds so much like cattle,” Simon ruminated.

Michael turned to open the door. He couldn’t bear another moment of waiting, even with Simon’s amusing banter. His gasp echoed over his shoulder.

“Well, brand me with an ‘S’ and call me surprised.”

Ignoring the absurd twist on a local colloquialism, Michael almost squealed. The work had gone better than he’d imagined.
S’ Amknud improved the design, knowing better how to place the skylights for optimum use of the distant sun’s rays.

A door had been left open upon the inner courtyard so that the first thing he saw when his eyes adjusted to the bright turned out to be the bamboo fountain. Simon had balked at the cost, which had been formidable even compared to the precious glass overhead. Now the former lawyer clapped congratulations upon Michael’s back.

“You’ll have the Japanese immigrants lined up for this, Michael. It’s a wonderful conglomeration of elements.”

The newly accredited business owner smiled and took a step to see how the rest of the garden appeared. The other three outer corridors could wait. He wanted to see his favorite part, first. Then he froze, suspicious.

“This isn’t the flooring I ordered. What am I walking on?”

“Plasti-wood with a sprayed foam underlay. I had it smuggled in. Sam was happy to learn the technique and helped authorities turn a blind eye. That K’ Dell knows what’s best for his city. K’ Rack needs to bend some if they want to fully reap the benefits of the human refugees. The rest of the country will see how we work together to revolutionize and reinvigorate this smog-bowl of a valley. Then it’s only a matter of time before the Zemberlands follow suit, I think. But that’s a whole other language for earth techs to crack. We’ll take this one step at a time. Anyway, other nations will begin opening their doors and…”

“Whoa, Mr. X! Slow down and back up.”


“Don’t you see? You want to become a diplomat; you’ve got to work on your pronunciation.”

“I don’t want that kind of oral lesson,” Simon intimated.

“Well, I don’t want a lesson on planetary
zoo-geo-dynamographics, or whatever you call it. I am, however, thrilled to hear such enthusiasm.”

“How about flattery?”

“I’m always happy to hear that.”

“Then understand the real reason I got this flooring. It wasn’t to gain some kind of oddball leverage with a local engineer, chief or not.”


“No. I didn’t want you to beat up those pretty feet on inadequate padding. And you and your students shouldn’t be allowed to get thirsty, either. Look over there.”

“A water cooler! Oh, Simon, you shouldn’t have!”

“I know,” he replied, indulgently rolling his eyes.

Ceremoniously hung per K’ Dell administrative edict, imported martial arts equipment received blessing from a K’ Dellian priestess. Wall mounts installed according to regional requirements would have to do whether or not they matched Michael’s aesthetic taste. That was all fine by him.

Excited, Michael gave into the urge to tumble across the floor. While the impulse had a childish basis, his moves displayed discipline and training. He came upright, balanced on his heels, and bounced instantly on his toes to reach overhead. He picked the fighting staff his athletic performance had aimed for. The fact the racks hung almost too high made his feat even more estimable.

Following rules handed down from elders neighboring his family’s South African plantation, he ignored K’ Dellian dogma, shed his ingrained New York persona, and bowed. Rising, he saw Simon’s eyes sparkling.

“Want to spar?”

~the end~

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thursday Thirteen

If things have gone according to plan, I’m tucked away in a woodland cabin on a lake as you read. Anticipating my private writing retreat, I’m writing this in advance. Appropriately, my list includes thirteen things to take on my getaway.

1. Hiking boots – I plan to enjoy nature

2. Notebooks – walks will require handy writing material

3. Pens – my closest colleague at work has a mother-load from suppliers that he’ll let me pick through (he likes me)

4. Backpack – for all the pens and paper, maybe a sandwich; I have a cute, long-unused canvas backpack featuring a fuzzy profile of the Grinch

5. Laptop – sounds like a no-brainer to many but there was a time I never wrote directly to my hard drive; that’s changed

6. Reference books – as I write this, just over two weeks ahead, it’s time to look at what wise folks have recommended and go shopping; there’s no internet connection where I’m going

7. Electronic accoutrements – for a non-technical person, I’ve amassed an astonishing array of iPod accessories and want to make sure mood music is available at the touch of a button

8. Workout clothes – even if I decide to exercise indoors for some reason, I plan to move my body at least an hour every morning

9. Fuzzy socks and cozy lounge clothes – for after the exercise

10. Bottled water – I have been spoiled and can’t imagine what the water tastes like out there

11. Fresh foods – there will be no fancy dinners out or frozen dinners in, I am thinking of something in-between with lots of fresh fruits and veggies

12. Main dish components – vegetarian (Japanese natto, anyone?) and meat-based (probably the lazy route, deli)

13. Piles of printed manuscripts – for when I want to just sit with a pen and scribble much-needed corrections; this is priority number one, in fact

What I don’t plan on taking is a camera, though I might change my mind. My photographs are never as vivid as journal entries. I have a tendency to distance myself behind the lens, which makes for a disappointing experience in retrospect.

I also plan to leave movies at home. If I really feel the urge, I’d rather pick from the selection offered to guests. That is just too deliciously reminiscent of “The Ring”, a favorite and enduringly creepy horror flick.

Hopefully I'll still be around in another seven days...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Flash Fiction Friday

Yesterday I wrote a fun exercise for a workshop. The idea is to "convince" the reader that a fantasy figure exists by using mundane details. It seemed like an amusing tidbit to share for a quick read to celebrate the end of the week.

An original character of mine, a bit of a playboy, inspired research into Dionysis. Hence, that god is my character for this purpose. I hope you enjoy the brief cameo...

Dionysus inhaled deeply. Leaves crackling under his bare feet spiced each breath of air. The sun warmed his bare back and a breeze stirred his long hair. He heard a snarl from the trees as his leopards fought over scraps of their kill and he stopped walking.

Feline antics weren’t the reason for his pause. He heard a woman’s voice. One of his maenids called out from the top of Aventine Hill. He didn’t know if she meant it as summons but he decided to return and see. At any rate, the bacchanalia continued to rage from the night before. Whether he joined in the revelry or just watched his women, Dionysus knew his presence would honor them.

If he found a little pleasure in their activities, all the better. Only fools and pontiffs turned down a good time. Dionysus considered himself neither. He turned without further debate and began to retrace his steps up the path. He climbed as swiftly as his fleet-footed descent. Knowing that the cats would tend to a lengthy cleaning after their meal, he grinned and quickened his pace.

Plump, curving lips tightened with a hiss when a twig snapped under his slender foot, a jagged end stabbing his heel. He raised his knee, left arm outstretched for balance, and turned the injured limb using his free hand. Balancing his ankle on his right knee and inspecting the torn skin, he decided that one of his followers should cleanse the wound. Surely a kiss would lessen the sting.

Tomorrow he would begin his journey to Thebes. It would be good to see his satyrs again after his long and arduous travels through Asia. Today, however, he would devote attention to his adoring Roman maenads.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Guest Thursday Thirteen

A good friend of mine wrote a great list before ever seeing the rather opposite one that I posted last week. She's a gifted writer with invaluable insights and encouragement. And I thank her for the honor of sharing this, as well as reminding me of the good in my partner! I'll let her writing speak for her talent and wonderful personality:

Inspired by Darla’s lists, when my husband did item number one, I decided to add twelve more to make my own list of thoughtful things he does. These are in random order, other than the first one that started my thinking.

1. He frequently calls me from his drive home to be sure I don’t miss a beautiful sunset.

2. He buys little items for my various collections and lets them take over the house.

3. When he finds an interesting critter or natural phenomenon outside, he’ll stop what he’s doing to find me and shout “Honey, bring your camera!”

4. He offers to take me out for dinner on special days or just to give me a break from cooking, even when he’s too tired to go anywhere.

5. One evening, after I left for a meeting, he brought out his smuggled supplies and made a dessert for my birthday. He was disappointed I came home early because he was about to start the cake. In addition to the surprise itself, I was impressed he found all the ingredients and remembered which pans I prefer to use for that item.

6. He happily agrees to proofread even my longest stories.

7. Even when tired from an especially long day at work, he’ll ask if I have any errands for him to do on the way home.

8. My writing stories in my head while we’re having sex doesn’t bother him. This isn’t entirely his loving nature because there is a useful side effect of writing erotica, but I think it’s unusually understanding.

9. He doesn’t mind me watching over his shoulder while he reads my fiction, knowing I just want to know which parts caused him to laugh.

10. I’m presented with flowers and cards for no reason other than he is thinking of me.

11. When he traveled for work on a regular basis, he’d find attractive scenery postcards to send with his “wish you were here to see this with me” messages. The postcards would often arrive after he returned, but that didn’t lessen the sentiment.

12. Although primarily shopping for his own voracious reading habit, he often makes sure to include a book or two on a subject he knows I find of interest.

13. He makes an effort to find things to compliment. That, or it comes naturally. Either way, it’s appreciated.

Monday, March 1, 2010

GLBT Bookshelf March 2010 Fundraiser

Check out this first time opportunity! For one month only you can get some fantastic deals on five new tales of romance and passion, some very steamy m/m, as well as 50% off (!) discounts on a plethora of novels by the illustrious Mel Keegan. The GLBT Bookshelf rummage sale can be found here:

GLBT Bookshelf March 2010 Fundraiser

Come search out that perfect gift or treat yourself. Prices couldn't be better and you'll be supporting a good cause by helping promote this group of independent writers.

As for me, I'm tickled pink to be in the company of such prestigious talents. And to see my first material treated to professional book packaging has me on cloud nine.

Happy shopping!