Two-Minutes-Go Road Trip

writerWhile JD is wading some mountain stream in search of Moby-Trout, or at least that’s what he told me to say when the FBI come by asking questions about him, he’s entrusted our Friday flash fiction fandango to me. No Black Friday crowds here. Just a place to share some words.

Or, in a passage I stole from his website:

Hey, writer-type folks. AND PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO PLAY BUT DON’T IDENTIFY AS ‘WRITERS’ – all are welcome here! Every Friday, we do a fun free-write. For fun. And Freedom!

Write whatever you want in the ‘comments’ section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds … no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send ’em here to read your ‘two’ and encourage them to play. 

Here’s one to start us off:

The air cooled a few degrees, and that’s when I knew she’d arrived. So I snuck up the back stairs, and at a safe remove on the balcony, I readied myself to eyeball the intruder. Rumors had been flying about her—her beauty, her feline grace and charm that belied a volcanic temper. But before any polite introductions could be made, before we could circle each other and stake our claims, I had to see for myself. Evaluate the potential trouble.

And she looked like trouble. Green eyes widening, she flattered the hosts while scoping out the room, hunting her next mark. I knew that game. My muscles went on alert, a ripple of tension beneath my skin, tiny hairs standing on end like tiny field agents reporting to command. No. Boundaries must be set. There could be no room for misinterpretation, here. This was my turf. I’d been deftly ingratiating myself to these people for years. I had them just where I needed them, each step of the plan clicking neatly into position, and I could not allow some slick interloper to get between me and what I deserved.

They were calling for me. I set my expression. Welcoming, but cool. Calm, but alert. One that spelled delighted to meet you, my dear, but no need to make yourself comfortable, because I’m sure you won’t be staying long enough to even learn what kind of soaps are in the powder room.

Ready, finally, because I would not be rushed, I sashayed down the stairs. And on the second from the bottom, I froze. She had her nose in my food dish. In. My. Food. Dish. The hairs on my back shot to attention. I did not care a whit how lovely she was. This meant war.

Holiday Giveaway News

GobbleOne of my favorite parts of being an author is sharing my books with readers. As an independent author, I get to give them away whenever I want to. And that makes me smile.

It’s even more fun around the holidays, especially when I’m getting together with other authors who are doing the same. I’ve probably told you about a few of these things in various places, but I wanted to gather them up here for you:

You still have time to enter the E-Novelists At Work/Choosy Bookworm Giveaway for a chance to win books and swag from thirty different authors, as well as one of two gift cards that could stretch your holiday budget.


Over the US Thanksgiving weekend (November 27-30) I’ll be just one of many authors participating in a Facebook party thrown by Master Koda Select Publishing. They’re a great crew, and they’ve generously let me be part of the family during their events over the last couple of years. If you want to take a break and have a little fun, we’ll have games, prizes, and a drawing for a bunch of free books and other goodies. They’ve foolishly allowed me to take their stage for an hour on Friday, November 27 at 7 p.m. EST. Mwa ha ha… You can join the party here. 

If you pop over to Goodreads, you can enter the giveaway for one of two signed copies of A Sudden Gust of Gravity. Drawing ends December 9.

For those of you who celebrate, I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving. I know I have a lot to be thankful for.


My Regular Internet Checkup

file0002054526820Almost twenty years ago, I received a phone call from a polite young man studying at the USC Center for the Digital Future at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. He asked for my help with a project.

Yeah, I know. It always starts out that way. Then you end up on YouTube with a Kardashian.

But eager to lend a hand to educate the youth of America, and as a former advertising major sympathetic to those whose semester grades hinge on cold-calling people about their favorite brand of mayonnaise (I had to do this once), I fielded his questions.

This is the essence of what we discussed all those years ago: Yes, I have access to the Internet. No, we have just the one computer, the one phone line with a dial-up modem, and the many arguments about who is doing what on it when. Do I “know” anyone online that I’ve never met in person? One or two people, and it’s sort of intriguing, like a blind date that never happens.

Then the school sent me a check for ten bucks and asked if they could continue to keep tabs on me—I agreed. The concept of the study intrigued me, and I like getting an extra ten bucks from time to time. The questions have changed slightly over the two decades I’ve been playing guinea pig. I now fill out an online survey instead of answering a call, and the money goes right into my PayPal account, but the intent is the same: to measure the impact the Internet is having on people’s lives.

Here’s how it’s changed mine. In the past twenty years, Art Husband and I have accumulated more devices that can access the Internet. A cable modem and two Macs reduced the arguments. Gone are the daily newspapers and most of the print magazines; we listen to radio stations through our computers. We watch TV and read books on our tablets. Both of us working from home means many Internet hours logged.

I also have friends. Lots and lots of friends. Where previously I could have rattled off the names of my Web buds for the USC undergrads, the quantity of my online colleagues, friends, and acquaintances has grown from “a few” to “a couple dozen,” to “are you kidding me?”

It’s a pretty amazing thing, though. I love your support and knowledge and jokes and friendship; I love that any time of the day or night I can go online and “reach out and touch someone” anywhere on the planet. I’ve taken it a step further by getting away from my computer and meeting a few of those online friends face to face.

My regular Internet checkup makes me think about how my life is changing, good and bad, from staring into this little box that gives me a window on the world. Each year, there’s usually one question on the survey that gives me pause. This time it was about the validity of the information on the Internet. Which sources do I trust? Blogs, government, newspapers? How much of what I see would I consider reliable? Not as much as I used to think, apparently. And that’s kind of sad. The good news is that if you’re interested in parsing out the sources, you can get a decent enough cross section to arrive at something resembling accuracy. That takes work. And time. Which not everybody has or wants to commit to these days.

It will be interesting to see how I feel about this issue when the next survey rolls around.

What do you think? How much of what you read “out there” do you trust? Has the Internet changed your life for the better?

Gravity Drops on Amazon!

Gravity_coverart_1bHi, everyone! I just wanted to share the news that A Sudden Gust of Gravity is now live on Amazon. This is a story that I’ve wanted to tell for a while, and I’m so excited that it’s finally published.

A little more about the novel:

Christina Davenport, waitressing to pay the bills, has abandoned her childhood dream of becoming a magician—until she meets the mesmerizing Reynaldo the Magnificent. He hires her as his assistant for his magic and juggling show; she hopes she can play the role without cutting his giant ego in half.

Devon Park, a surgical resident, is escaping his own problems when he visits the street performers in downtown Boston. But the young doctor worries that the bruises beneath Christina’s makeup go deeper than the training accident she professes.

Convinced the doctor’s interest is more than clinical, the mercurial magician attempts to tighten his grip on Christina. Now she needs to decide—is the opportunity Reynaldo offers worth the price of admission?

A little sneak preview:

Chapter 1

The box arrived on a Tuesday and sat on the kitchen table for three days before Christina could bring herself to touch it. She’d assumed her father’s things had been tossed after all these years, but no—this remained. Mom had found it in the attic and decided that his last surviving possession would make an ideal twenty-fifth birthday present for his only daughter.

She almost sent the package back. But then she didn’t.

“Get it out of here, already,” one of her roommates told her. So she took it off the table, stuck it in the corner of her bedroom, and covered it with a green pashmina.

As a child, she’d memorized the contents of the tarnished metal case engraved with her father’s initials: three silver cups, a half-dozen red sponge balls, five decks of cards, a few magic quarters, a selection of spring-loaded wands, and various other doodads and thingamabobs handy for a close-up magician to have up his sleeve.

Pick a card, Chrissie.

She itched to hold the decks, palm the tiny objects the way he’d taught her, but another part of her wanted nothing to do with it.

She thought about it on the way to yoga, and on the way home, and after her long shift at the restaurant. And her sleep fractured, leaving her as wide-awake as the thrum of Boston outside her window.

This went on for another week, until she got the call that her boss, Rosa, was in the hospital, and the restaurant was closed. Now there was nothing to think about but the box, and what it contained. And the truth was, no matter how great her anger at her father and herself, her desire to open the box was greater. She craved the comfort of those old, familiar objects.

Christina surrendered.

Swallowing the knot in her throat, she flipped the latch. It sounded louder than all the traffic on Commonwealth. Her fingers once again tasted the textures—the foam of the sponge balls, bits of red crumbling into dust; the shiny silver cups; the decks of cards engineered for tricks.

Pick a card, Chrissie.

Shuddering, she snapped the lid shut.

It was too late for her. Too many years had gone by, and her skills were shot. She might as well give the box away—to the owner of the magic store she passed on her way to yoga class. But she didn’t.


The paperback version is in the works—Art Husband is putting the file together—and it should be available soon. When that’s ready, I’ll set up a giveaway on Goodreads, where you can enter to win a signed copy.

Thank you for your time, and you may now return to your regularly scheduled Internet programming, already in progress.

Thirty Days, Thirty Authors

Thirty days. Thirty authors. You can win…big.

This month, I’m taking part in a month-long holiday book-a-palooza with eNovel Authors at Work, The Choosy Bookworm, and Book Partners in Crime Promotions. You can enter a variety of drawings to win books, gift cards, and even $250 in PayPal cash.

I’ll be giving away a few copies of Drawing Breath and Don’t Tell Anyone. Because I love giving away books. And I might have special deals going on a few titles, including A Sudden Gust of Gravity, which I expect will be live on Amazon around the time my turn comes up during Thanksgiving weekend, which I’ll be sharing with the lovely Bronwyn Elsmore and RP Dahlke. (See fancy banner graphic below.)

But until then:

  1. You can enter the drawing to win one of two $250 PayPal gift cards.
  2. You can enter ten different drawings to win books and other cool swag from our lineup of authors. Start here and scroll below the main drawing; new Rafflecopters will go up every three days for each new group of authors.

Thank you for your time, happy November, and have fun!

Flash Fiction Smashing Pumpkins Edition

pumpkinA story I wrote for this week’s 2-Minutes-Go was partially inspired by actual events. Four years ago, Hurricane Irene wiped out many of the Hudson Valley’s pumpkin patches, among other devastation. Pumpkins float, in case you weren’t aware, and when the flood waters rose in New Paltz, the crop at Wallkill View Farms was washed into the neighboring river, disappointing children and amusing reporters for miles around. On a recent drive, seeing all the jack o’ lanterns on the front stoops, I was reminded of the news footage of the renegade pumpkin flotilla.


The wind picked up. Eyeing his quarry as he wobbled on the east bank of the Wallkill, Pete threw out his arms and prayed for balance, his slick dress shoes doing a piss-poor job against the wet grass and the mossy rocks. This was supposed to be a quick trip. A fast dash up the Thruway, pick out a pumpkin at the big farm market, return home triumphant. A hero to his little girl, not so little anymore. But the old farmer had just lifted his raggedy eyebrows and laughed at him. “There go your pumpkins,” he said, waving a hand toward the swollen river. “Guess you don’t read the papers much, huh.”

And indeed, there went the pumpkins. A recent flood had turned the Springtown flats into a lake and, lighter than they looked, the gourds had left the building, so to speak, turning the Wallkill into a giant bob-for-produce tub.

This was ridiculous, Pete knew as he stood on the bank, the old farmer’s bark of a laugh piercing his memory, that this rash action would not make her forgive him. Would not erase the narrowed eyes, the huff, the slamming of the door. He’d tried so hard to get to the school in time to see her solo last night, but it was like the world had conspired against him. Meeting running late. Then traffic. And the goddamned rain. Now, silence from his only daughter. Before the divorce, they’d take their yearly pilgrimage to the valley, to the farm market, and she’d delight in picking out her own jack o’ lantern pumpkin. But this year, she couldn’t be bothered. His fault? Her mother’s? The adolescent need to distance herself from her parents? He didn’t know. Maybe all three.

He focused on one of the orange globes, bobbing in what looked like approachable distance. It wasn’t too bad, didn’t look like it had been damaged in its slalom along the rocks. He inched down the slope, knees shaking, his hand going for the security of a fairly strong-looking sapling.

“Come here, baby,” he crooned, stretching as far as he could. His fingertips were nearly brushing it when his feet began to move. As if they were fresh-waxed skis on the diamond slope. He knew he was done. That he was powerless to stop. He knew in that way that lengthened time, that had him windmilling his arms in an ineffectual, cartoonish attempt to change…nothing.

And then all he felt was cold. Cold water, seizing his lungs, pressing against his flailing arms, until his hands hit…something smooth. Something round. Something solid. He hugged the object as if it were his retreating daughter, as if it were the only thing standing between him and that slamming door. When they finally dredged him out, shivering with hypothermia, minus one shoe and laughing maniacally, he was still clinging to the pumpkin.

Halloween Anthology: Boo! Volume Three

Screen shot 2015-10-11 at 6.28.13 PMHappy Sunday! Halloween is almost upon us in North America-land, and with it comes the release of the newest Boo! anthology. Boo! Volume Three contains thirteen Halloween-inspired tales by an eclectic mix of authors, including Ann Cathey, Jen Daniele, Erin McGowan, LB Clark, Mala Rheston, Kristina Jackson, Rich Meyer, David Antrobus, and JD Mader.

Where else can you get that much talent and spooky fun for just 99 cents? Proceeds go to charity, and this year, the DB Collective has chosen The Turtle Island Restoration Project, an organization dedicated to protecting oceans and marine wildlife.

Thank you for your time. I hope you enjoy our stories.