A Sort-of Poem

I’m not a poet. Don’t worry; I won’t do this to you that often. Just a few Saturday-night thoughts on a Sunday.


Walt Disney’s Legacy

Prince Charming isn’t coming.
He got lost trying to find the bus schedule and landed in a strip joint in Newark.
He saw something shiny in a store window and what’s twenty bucks, anyway?

Prince Charming isn’t coming.
He had to tie his shoelaces and got distracted by a crack in the sidewalk.
He’s rescuing a kitten planted in a tree by the Wicked Witch of the West.

Prince Charming isn’t coming.
He tried to see how many Oreos he could fit in his mouth and then he needed a Heimlich.
He’s in the back row at the multiplex, eating red vines and considering Botox.

Prince Charming isn’t coming.
He’s doing the nasty with Goldilocks but thinking about Sleeping Beauty.
He’s trading your phone number for magic beans and a player to be named later.

Prince Charming isn’t coming.
He’s playing foosball with his old college friends for beers and bragging rights.
He’s stuck in traffic and searching the net for that girl he knew in Memphis.

Prince Charming isn’t coming.


Sneak Peek: The Picture of Cool

I’m so excited to share an excerpt from my soon-to-be published short novella, The Picture of Cool. So let’s get to it…


During a commercial break, Charlie popped into the green room for a refill on his coffee and caught one of the show’s upcoming guests, mid-pace. The press-kit photo, in his opinion, didn’t do the man justice, but the well-cut suit did. They looked about the same age—early thirties—and stood almost exactly the same height, a whisper under six feet, although this guy was broader across the shoulders. And he had that twitchy vibe Charlie had seen so many times before. An underling in the mayor’s office probably didn’t score too many live interviews on national daytime television, but according to the network’s grapevine, he was being groomed for bigger things. Charlie smiled at him. “Adam Goldberg, right?”

He nodded.

“Charlie Trager. You okay there? Can I get you anything? Water? Something to eat? A fistful of Valium?” This got a bit of a laugh, but Adam still had a death grip on the cardboard cup. “Maybe you should lay off the caffeine.”

“I’m good.” Adam put the cup down and ran the fingers of his left hand through his hair, mussing the previously perfect coif of short dark waves. “Jeez. I probably shouldn’t have done that.”

“Angela will fix it before you go on camera.”

“Good.” He huffed out a breath. “I’m sorry. Just kind of new to this. I don’t look too nervous, do I?”

He did. It was kind of cute. “You’ll do great.” Charlie checked his watch. This break included a prerecorded promo, which gave him three more minutes until they needed him back on set to run the next segment. “So tell me about this program the mayor is doing.”

Goldberg started talking about the administration’s plan to help at-risk kids. Charlie prepped his usual nod-and-smile routine of putting the waiting guests at ease. What he didn’t expect was to feel moved by what the man was saying, especially as Adam’s confidence grew, reminding Charlie of a young Jimmy Stewart. He looked a bit like Stewart, too, with that earnest, intelligent charm. Then it hit him. “This program, it’s your baby, isn’t it?”

He looked crestfallen. “It’s that obvious?”

Charlie waved a hand. “I’ll never tell.”

“Should I downplay it, maybe?”

“And lose that Mr. Smith Goes to Washington appeal? Hell no.” Charlie resisted an urge to straighten Adam’s tie. “Viewers are gonna love you…um, I mean it.” He stifled a yawn. “Sorry. I need to start taking up sleeping as a hobby.”

“I hear you. Three, four hours tops and I’m wide awake. My wife thinks I’m part bat, but my kids worry. If my daughter happens to wake up in the middle of the night, she’ll fix me a cup of warm milk and tell me to go back to bed. Eleven going on thirty, I swear. Anyway,” Adam shrugged, “I get a lot of work done when the house is quiet. Your makeup person shook her head at me when she saw the bags under my eyes and told me I need a vacation.”

Either he was exaggerating or Angela had done an especially good job, because Charlie couldn’t see anything wrong with Adam Goldberg’s face. He smirked as if dismissing the woman’s concerns. “She tells me that all the time. That the baby blues need some R and R.”

Charlie’s cell phone went off and he grabbed it. “Yeah, hon, on my way.” He ended the call and turned to Adam. “Gotta run,” he said. “Apparently, they can’t survive without me.”

The man’s brown eyes, which had grown wistful as he talked about his daughter, looked suddenly like those of a lost puppy. It was so sweet and pathetic that Charlie wanted to take him home and make him soup. “Okay,” he said, giving Adam a gentle smile. “You’re on after the action hero plugs his new movie. Not the smoothest of segues, but something tells me our viewers will be sticking around. One of the PAs will fetch you in about ten and mic you up.”

Adam nodded back, his expression firming a bit, his gaze holding Charlie’s. “Thanks. I really appreciate the opportunity.”

Charlie stood transfixed for a moment. It could have been sleep deprivation or the caffeine overload, but he swore he felt something then: a familiar ache. Why were the good ones either married or straight? Or, in this case, both?

“Just doing my job.” Charlie started to leave but stopped and set down his coffee. “I’m sorry, I hope you don’t mind, but this is bugging the hell out of me.”

He reached out to straighten Adam Goldberg’s tie, taking great pains to touch nothing but the silky fabric. Adam’s chin dropped, seemingly to watch Charlie’s hands, and when he raised it again, his eyes leveled with Charlie’s. Only for a second. Which was just long enough.

Undertow by Lynne Cantwell – A Review

Screen shot 2014-03-20 at 8.13.32 PMIt seems fitting that I post this on Thursday, because Lynne posts a review each week for her “Rursday Reads.” Here’s my review for her just-released Undertow, the second book in her new Land-Sea-Sky series.

The second book in Lynne Cantwell’s Land-Sea-Sky trilogy digs deeper into the characters introduced in the first installment. (And if you’ve missed it, or if it’s been a while since you read the first, she includes a really helpful recap.) The tension between and among Tess, Sue, and Darrell in the aftermath of the events of Book One is palpable. Sue’s jealousy that every man she meets seems to like Tess first is poignant and well drawn. I could really identify with her. Tess has her own insecurities, especially the inability to accept the guidance of her goddess, Morrigan. Darrell tries to balance his Potawatomi medicine-man background and his new warrior persona after an attempt to reconcile with his ex-wife fails. I especially like Darrell’s journey in the series so far, with his trickster god Nanabush by his side giving him…well, sometimes advice that makes sense, and some Darrell can only scratch his head at as he tries to do the right thing.

Among the many reasons I liked this book is that the humans are so wonderfully human and so well portrayed. They aren’t always sure of themselves. They try to do what they think is best; they have doubts. So I felt relieved along with Tess and Sue when a new assignment in Virginia Beach pulls Darrell away from the house the three share, giving them all some much-needed space. But the human interaction is only one layer of this story. With her journalistic and precise writing style, Ms. Cantwell twists together a possible terrorist crisis (and a powerful hurricane barreling their way) with the personal lives of three engaging main characters and the divine entities who assist them. Well done, and I’m looking forward to the conclusion.

Writing Whilst Disabled: A Guest Post by Joey Paul

I’m pleased to turn my blog over to Joey Paul today. Welcome, Joey! She writes YA crime, paranormal and general fiction. Hope you’ll give her a read and start a conversation in the comments.


10013847_10151996564367507_516979392_nOne of the things a lot of people will tell you when you’re newly diagnosed with a chronic illness, or suddenly finding yourself identifying as disabled is that you shouldn’t let it define you. They say that your illness, condition or disabilities are not you, and while that is true in part, it’s also true that it’s part of your identity. It contributes to who you are, whether you want it to or not. I’m finishing up a degree in health and social care and a number of my courses have dealt with self-identity. What I’ve taken from those lessons is that how you, as an individual, choose to identify is made of the labels you apply to yourself. For me, one of those labels is that I’m disabled.

When I became ill at nineteen and was retired on medical grounds from my government job, I didn’t want to accept the disabled label. Despite the fact that for the majority of my adult life – in fact most of my whole life actually – I had been in and out of hospitals with my lung issues, and then was diagnosed with M.E and Fibromyalgia, I still didn’t really see myself as disabled until I finally faced that it was a part of me. I don’t see it as a bad thing. It’s just part of who I am. Just as I am a writer, and a student and an amateur musician, I am also disabled and I see nothing wrong with embracing that.

A lot of the world view on disability is negative. There are fairly few disabled characters in mainstream media, books, TV, movies and usually when there is one, they’re painted in a negative light. They’re the bad guy. Or the poor person who lost all the good in their life and would be better off dead now that they’re disabled. It doesn’t really give the disabled children and young people growing up these days anyone to look at and see that actually, being disabled can be empowering. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing when to be honest; there is already a lot of negativity around it already.

If anything, becoming disabled and allowing myself to see the good in it, made me who I am today. Yes, I admit, I had other plans for my life. I was going to be a doctor and help people. I was on track until I left secondary school and went to college. When my health started to get bad, I dropped out and decided to try my hand at working for a living. I went through a string of jobs, but I made ends meet and had I not fallen ill with M.E and Fibro, then I would probably still be working at the same job. I never saw writing as anything other than a hobby. I never saw it as a way to make money, or a way to spend my time constructively. Sure, my diagnoses and conditions changed the course of my life forever, but I can’t honestly say that it was all bad.

I’m thirty-two now and was first published in 2005. Now, I have six books out with a seventh due out in the summer. I am writing the final chapters of my eleventh and twelfth books and although I have met many bumps in the road, I’m happy. I love what I do. I love writing and while I wish I could have come to this point without the pain and fatigue, hospital appointments, stays and all the other crap that comes with being disabled and chronically ill, I did come this way, and it did bring me onto this path.

Life is a series of paths, all with their own outcomes and their own stories. My life was headed in one direction and then it changed. It moved onto the path it’s on now. Sure, I wish that this path made it possible to keep normal hours (like sleep at night and not during the day!) and to maybe do a “normal” job. However, I have never really known anything but this and although it comes with its own challenges, I can’t say that it’s all bad. I get to do a job I adore. I get to write about gifts and magic. I get to explore worlds that I create and bend characters to my will as it were. You don’t get to do that when you work at the local magistrates’ court, or at least you didn’t when I was nineteen 😉

My point is this: Disability and chronic illness carry a lot of bad and negative things along with them. However, I see nothing wrong with saying that yes, I AM disabled and I DO see it as part of my identity. I’m not allowing my conditions to control me or to define me, but they DO make up part of who I am and who I will always be. I’m Joey, what’s wrong with that?


Joey’s Bio:

Joey is 32, disabled, a writer and part time student studying towards a degree in Health and Social Care. She loves to write and is at the moment working on her eleventh and twelfth books, as well as preparing her seventh book for publication. She started writing when she was medically retired from her job at the age of 19. Her first book was released in 2005 and after a brief time away, her second one was released in 2011. In addition to writing books, she also enjoys reading them and can often be found resting in bed with a good book, a cat and an ukulele.

You can follow Joey and learn more about her and her work here:

Blog: www.joeypaulonline.com
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/BugBooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MsJoeyBug

Sliding Past Vertical Wins…

BigAlSPVwinThe votes are in, and Sliding Past Vertical wins a 2014 B&P Readers’ Choice Award! Thank you so much for your votes and your support. I really appreciate it. There were so many great nominees this year. I don’t know about you, but I’ve already snagged a few of them, and I’m looking forward to reading. Thank you also to Big Al & The Pals for supporting indie authors. Congrats to all the winners and the nominees!


AngerSometimes I see questions like these in social media groups: “Just sent my book out to an editor / reviewer / contest / publisher…but now what? I can’t STAND waiting!”

My usual glib answer is to suggest the writer find something else to do. Start another project. Pick up one you’ve put aside. Write press releases. Update your website. Beta read for another author. Distract yourself from thinking about whatever is hanging out there. Because sending your stuff out takes TIME. Professionals are doing professional-type things to it, some are being handled by volunteers nice enough to give you their attention and expertise, and it’s going to take however long it’s going to take. So the best thing you can do is get on with your day.

Until I’m the writer waiting, of course. I’ve written three first drafts since November. One is “composting” until I’m ready for the next draft. One is out with beta readers. Another is in that irritating, luffing-in-the-middle stage and I need a little break from it. I have books submitted to three different contests. And a bunch of reviewers. So I whined to a Facebook group about the current state of agitated ennui in my writing life, and the answer was… find something else to do.

Yeah. I’m sensing the irony here. That’s why I’m making a list. I’m including all the things I put off while I was working on two first drafts since November, held captive by a character who kept insisting I listen to Frank Sinatra while I wrote his stories. Maybe I can get around to some of these things now:

  • Buy Christmas presents.
  • Dust my penguin collection.
  • Rinse and return all the Sam Adams bottles that have been accumulating on my bookshelves.
  • Find a pen that works. Maybe two.
  • Install the software that my husband gave me for my birthday. In August.
  • Throw away the empty peanut butter jars in my writing room.
  • Ditto the Nutella jars.
  • Stop buying Nutella.
  • Vacuum.
  • Get a haircut. (You’re welcome.)
  • Go through the closet and find the two manuscripts I wrote and only have on floppy disks.
  • Cut up the three bottle’s worth of seven-year-old solidified Bailey’s Irish Cream and dispense. (Yes, if it sits that long, it becomes a solid.)
  • Read the seventh Harry Potter book.
  • File the three-foot-high stack of printouts of old manuscripts that exist on backup media newer than floppy disks.
  • Write more blog posts so I don’t have to resort to lame lists.

What do you do when you need a distraction?





To Die, To Sleep: a story by Leland Dirks

My friend Leland Dirks posted this story in a book group on Facebook. I was riveted to every word, and as it unfolded, I had to blink away the tears to keep reading. Yet I had to continue. I’m sharing it with you because of the many ways it personally touched me,  because of the many people I’ve known who have been on that bridge, and because of the few who did not return.


To Die, To Sleep

A bitterly cold night in January, 1977. Boulder, Colorado. Home to the best party school in the United States, according to Playboy magazine—and they ought to know. The 1960s had left their mark on the town, which some called the Berkeley of the Rockies. Beautiful girls, handsome guys, so many perfect smiles.

The smiles hid ugly ghosts—rapes, drug overdoses, and abuse. Some of the abuse bruised bodies, some bruised souls. Some of the smiles hid secrets—secrets so terrible that lives could be destroyed. There was a lot of talk about freedom and civil rights and Gay Liberation in the 1970s, but just a whisper of the word “homosexual” could destroy a career and stop a life. What would Mom and Dad say?

Read the rest here. Please share.

Saving Drake: A Romance, A Review

Great review. JD Mader’s work is amazing.

Denise Lhamon

Oh Dan, would that I had half of your talent. I would die a happy woman.

Before I begin, those of you who have been around this blog for a while, know my review policy. For those of you who don’t, or who haven’t been around long enough, the short and sweet is; I will never give a book or movie five stars. It defeats the purpose of a review. How annoying is it to go into Amazon and see a five star review consisting of OH MY GOD THIS THING IS AWESOME (insert your own choice of spelling here). Conversely, one star reviews amount to the same thing. So, my rating system ranges from 1.5 to 4.5 with 4.5 being the highest I will ever give something.

And now you know.

If you don't know the reference you fail at life. If you don’t know the reference you fail at life.


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say…

View original post 367 more words

Readers’ Choice Awards: The Voting Starts Now

B&P Readers' Choice

Click on the shiny badge to take you to the voting page. It’s SO easy!

Some of you may know this already, but among the world of indie authors, getting a review from BigAl’s Books and Pals is no small accomplishment. According to statistics released by the site, “In the twelve months ending February 28th, 2014, BigAl and the Pals will have received over 1,400 books to consider for review and published 368 book reviews.”

I’m wicked excited that one of those titles was mine: Sliding Past Vertical has been selected as one of the books they felt stood out as an exceptional example of indie writing. (Their words, not mine, and they’re enough to make a girl mix up a pitcher of virtual margaritas and dance. No, not on the pole. Not since the last time.)

SlidingPastVertical300Anyway…B&P divided these books into thirteen categories. Sliding Past Vertical has been nominated for Contemporary/General Fiction. Starting now, you can vote for your favorites in each category. If you think the book is worthy, I hope you’ll swing by and give me your vote; I’d appreciate your support. Thank you! Voting enters you into a drawing for some cool prizes, and I hope you win!

Voting automatically enters you into B&P’s giveaway. You can learn all about that here. Voting ends at midnight, March 12, and final results will be announced the morning of Wednesday, March 15. Winners get a shiner badge and some cool exposure on the B&P website. Exposure (not the kind when you’re swinging around on the pole) for indie authors is a really good thing.

PWC3 - Tapped - small

Some of my friends and colleagues have also been nominated. Lynne Cantwell’s Tapped, the third book in the Pipe Woman Chronicles, has been nominated in the Fantasy category.

Bad Book, a wickedly funny combo-genre novel written by Stephen Hise, KS Brooks, and JD Mader, has been nominated in the Humor category.

coverJulie Frayn has been nominated in the Women’s Fiction category for her novel, It Isn’t Cheating if He’s Dead.

blind-sight-2Nicole Storey has also been nominated in the Fantasy category for Blind Sight, the first book of her Celadon Circle series.


DV Berkom’s wild ride, Yucatan Dead, sixth book in the Kate Jones series, was nominated in the Thrillers category.

Good luck to all the nominees and remember that if you vote, you can win!

[Voting notes: The form doesn’t like Internet Explorer. Once you click on this link that takes you to the site, log in with Facebook or your email address. Click on the downward-facing arrow in each category to see the books nominated. Click the open circle to the left to make your selection and “Enter” to register the vote. Clicking on the title will give you more info about the book.]