books · writing

It’s NaNoWriMo time again

And I’ve signed up. . . again.

This year I really wanted to win. To really put effort into my word count, but I’m (not surprisingly) off to a slow start. Only 500 words on the first day.

I’m not doing the official method in that I’m continuing a novel I started in 2020. I few days before NaNo started this year, I thought I’d better review what I’d written so far because it has been many months since I’ve done any work on it and I just don’t remember enough details to get back into cold. I thought I had a few thousand words, but it turns out I had almost 30,000 words. This is great because adding 50,000 would be a good length to finish it, but bad because I didn’t leave myself quite enough time to review all of that.

So I was still finishing my reading on day one, and looking for my original outline to also review. I spent a lot of time looking, and couldn’t find one, and I think I have to admit now, that I probably never made one. My outlines are not detailed. I pretty much just use the 7 point structure to give myself some points to aim at when I start to get bogged down or lost in the flow of things. One of the reasons I had stopped working on this story, despite loving what I have so far, is that I was kinda lost about where to head next. So I felt I really needed those points before I could move forward. So I spent more time yesterday writing up a quick 7 point plot, then diving back into the actual drafting.

As soon as I’m done procrastinating by writing this, I’m going to continue the novel. I have learned over the years that I can’t sit down and plunk out 1500 to 2000 words in one sitting, even if I have enough time blocked off. My brain just stops well short of those goals. I need several shorter sessions to make that kind of progress in a day. That’s a problem for work days when all I really have is the evening when I’m already exhausted. So to make this work, I need to do more on non-work days to make up for not being able to keep up on work days. But I also homeschool the kiddo, and while they are great at managing themselves, I’m not completely free to write whenever I want, but I know I can do better with my time management than I do.

That’s the goal. To do better with my time. Maybe I won’t hit 50,000, but I’ll make good progress in the attempt. I hope.

Uncategorized

2018 Plans

I don’t feel the need to make a list of grand resolutions this year, something I usually enjoy doing. While I do want to lose weight, procrastinate less, sleep better, exercise more, etc., etc., all those things everyone wants, I feel I’m moving forward, slow but steady on these fronts without resolutions, so I won’t mess with progress.

More time devoted to writing is always something I want to work on. I think I did better this year, but maybe didn’t have as much improvement as in other areas of my life. Striving to post here three times a week was a good goal, one I enjoyed, and will continue. I also tried to have a new short story to post every Friday. I missed that goal a lot, but not as much as I thought I might. I deciding how I want to proceed there.

I’m thinking I might like to start submitting some short stories to paying markets again. That process was slow and frustrating, and time consuming to research, so I needed the break I took last year. Now, though, I feel ready again. One new story a week was probably too much for me, especially if I want to continue to make progress on my novels as well, so maybe I’ll have a goal on one month instead. Two a month? We’ll see.

The revisions on my first complete novel are going better than I expected. I’m not sick of the story or the characters yet. That’s impressive for me. I will hopefully have that ready for critique readers on a month or so.

Uncategorized

New Short Story Collection Availble

My second collection of short fiction is available now on Kindle at Amazon. It will be available at other online retailers and in print soon.

These stories were the ones I wrote special for Free (sometimes Flash) Fiction Fridays here on my blog, so if you care to delve through the older posts, you can read all the stories for free right here. If you don’t want to do the digging, or you just want to support my writing, then you can buy the book by clicking the link above.

Thanks!

Uncategorized

Respawn – Flash Fiction Friday

Act more casual she told herself. Stacy fiddled with the slip of paper in her pocket, folding and unfolding it with her fingers until she forced herself to stop. She took a deep breath, trying to relax.
The numbers on the paper were a clear message to her. In code. She recognized it at once. It was a code she and Hillary had used for fun for months now. But Hillary had gone missing last week after confiding in Stacy that she thought she was being watched. Now the code shows up.
It would be easy to decode, but Stacy had to get in the game. She arrived at the gaming cafe and walked in, not allowing herself to look around too much to see if anyone was following her. The cafe was less than half full. That was good. Enough people to blend into, enough open spaces to grab a terminal and get in and out again.
She ordered peppermint tea and took it to an open terminal where she could see the front door without turning. She logged in as a guest and created a new user registration for the game. Every dat that had passed since she last saw Hillary made her more paranoid. She didn’t want to leave a digital trail of her own account info.
Once in the game though, the code didn’t work. The numbers were in pairs, coordinates on the game map. Each should be a named location in the game and she should use the first letter of the location for the message, but the first five locations were in the middle of nowhere. No name to use.
Stacy sat back in her seat, staring at the screen and thought. What was wrong? Then it clicked. The cafe used the game’s local server. Hillary was probably using the one for their home location, which was different. A different map.
Stacy glanced around. Was this the sort of place she could get away with hacking into to change servers? Would they even notice? It was a nice place. Upscale compared to the places she usually hung. There were only two employees, one was behind the counter and seemed to be keeping busy with orders, and the other moving around the cafe busing dishes, wiping tables, and such. She looked at the ceiling. Two black domes which were likely video cameras. Yet there were partitions around each terminal, so she didn’t think the cameras were there to see what people were playing. The cameras would have a tough time seeing any screens. The benefits of an upscale place – they wanted customers to feel a sense of privacy.
If anyone wanted to see what she was doing they could always check this station later. She was sure it kept a log of activity, but no one would look until after she had gone, and there was a little she could do real quick to cover her tracks before she went.
Halfway through this train of thought, she had already started hacking into her home region server, and five minutes later had deciphered the code. Hillary was safe. She’d learned it was her ex, Todd, who had been following her. Although he never seemed to accept the ‘ex’ part. So Hillary had disappeared. Not the first time she had had to do so, Stacy knew.
She also knew that when Hillary disappeared, she had left everyone she knew behind unaware. She had to. Todd could get to anyone and if anyone knew where Hillary had gone, Todd could find out. Stacy knew what it must have meant for Hillary to send her that code. To let Stacy know, to stay in touch at all. It was a risk.

Stacy did what she could to erase her tracks from the rental computer, finished her tea, and left. She thought she should find a way to respond, but she would have to find a safe way. After such a show of trust from Hillary, she would be damned if she would risk bringing her danger. She couldn’t let Todd get anywhere near Hillary. But how? Perhaps she just had to wait, and trust Hillary would contact her again when she felt it was safe to do so. It was so frustrating to was to much to help and feel so powerless to do so. Maybe a better plan to keep her friend safe was to find a way to make sure Todd couldn’t threaten Hillary ever again. 
Uncategorized

Love Squash – Flash Fiction Friday


Jon pushed his wide brimmed hat back and wiped his forehead with his handkerchief. The hot sun lamps in the hydroponics bay could wear on a man after a while. Sitting on the edge of a raised bed of acorn squash he pulled out his water bottle and took a drink. 
It was well past the end of his shift. He would be fine heading home, and while there were always things to do, there wasn’t anything that couldn’t wait until tomorrow. Still he sat. For the past week, ever since Christy stood him up, he hadn’t gone out much. Or at all. He didn’t want to run into her in the corridors, or the laundry, or the cafeteria. So he was keeping deliberately odd hours to avoid her. Childish, possibly, but he didn’t care. 
He realized he was sitting in the exact spot now where they had promised to meet. Like a fool he’d spent a ridiculous amount of time in front of the mirror primping his hair. He even remembered how slippery the plastic handle of the hairbrush had been in his sweaty hand. Even more, he remembered the solid lump in his pocket from the ring box. He’d been a nervous wreck. 
Then the waiting. She worked in the kitchens, so she was off when everything was done, not a specific time. Still she was usually free by 8:30 or so. By 9:30 he’d finally left to go to the kitchens. Maybe there was some sort of problem. Maybe he could help. But the kitchens were dark, the doors locked. Then it hit him that she had stood him up. And he had been ready to ask. . . he dodged a bullet there after all, he thought.
The lights dimmed; they were on timers and it was getting later. He stood up. No point in brewing over it anymore. It was what it was. His messenger pinged in his pocket. He tried to pull it out with the hand holding his water and he fumbled the device. It fell through a leafy squash plant and landed with a plop in the dirt. He set his bottle down and shoved leaves aside to get it back. In the semi darkness he saw a shiny glint and reached for it. It was an acorn squash, but he felt something metal as well, he plucked the vegetable out. The vegetable was misshapen. Around its middle was a silver bracelet. The one he’d given Christy he knew at once, but her rolled the squash over in his hand to confirm, and as expected he found the little silver heart with the word ‘love’ stamped on it. Also attached to the bracelet was a message stamp. That had been added on.
How did that get here? When could she have brought it without him knowing? Had someone stolen it? With apprehension, he pressed the stamp. It popped and crackled, but between all that he could make out Christy’s voice, but not her words. The stamp had been lying in the dirt, and getting watered for a week no he realized. It had been there a week, enough time for this squash to grow around the bracelet. She had come. She’d come and she’d left this here for him. 
With growing dread, he dove back into the plant and pulled out his messenger. The ping had been from Christy. “Are you free to get together tonight?” He’d been ignoring her messages, and they had started coming less and less often. He looked back at them now with new eyes. “I’m sorry.” “Did you get my message?” “Are you mad at me?” “Can you come see me?” “Where are you?” She wasn’t sorry for hurting and leaving him, he saw now. She was sorry for something else. Something that had kept her from staying that night.
Ah! That night! A cat had come rushing out of the garden and scared him half to death in the dark he remembered. He’d all but fallen over, and he thought his hair had gotten all a mess. He’d rushed off to check it. He’d only been gone a minute. Damn it, and damn his pride too.
He hastily wiped his messenger on his pants to get the dirt off and replied that yes, he was free. Did she want to come over?
She replied she couldn’t. She was still at the hospital bay.
Still? He wondered. He asked if she were all right, feeling panic rise.
Yes, it was her father. Didn’t he get her message? She was there with him. Would Jon be willing to come there? She didn’t like leaving him. 
Yes, absolutely. I’m leaving work now, let me clean up and I’ll be right there.
Thank you so much. I’ve really needed you. See you soon. 
There were flowers by the water tanks. He could clip a few of those on the way out to bring to her father. He looked at the bracelet trying to think of the best way to get it off the squash, and then decided to leave it. It kinda looked like a heart now the way it was dented in. He’d give her the whole thing.
The End
This is the second story written from the photo prompts my friends sent:

Uncategorized

Making Space – Belated Flash Fiction Friday


Carolyn descended the three cement steps into the dusty garage. A space of about four by seven feet had been cleared of boxes and debris and swept clean. In the center of this space was a stack of three empty pet carriers, a basket of dog toys, and a dog bed with a sleeping speckled dog sprawled in it. Behind her followed an older gentleman, her father. When he came beside her he reached past her shoulder to pull a dangling cord turning on a long fluorescent light that hung over a workbench that ran the length one wall of the garage. 
“So if we could just make a little more space out here, I could take in more fosters and you wouldn’t have anything disturbed in the house.” As she talked Carolyn adjusted her hold on the five day old kitten she carried. It mewed in complaint until she got it better situated against her body and returned the little baby bottle. 
“Where do you plan to put everything?” His skepticism about this whole project dripped from the question.
“That’s what I was hoping you could help me with,” Carolyn began. “This stuff has been in boxes since I was little. You don’t use any of it. Could we maybe. . .  get rid of. . . some of it?”
Her father looked at her, then at the wall of boxes. He said nothing.
“Look, Dad.” Carolyn set the baby bottle down on the workbench and shoved the kitten into her father’s hands causing a surprised sputter from him and an angry mewl from the kitten. She reached into the nearest box and pulled out a dusty metal tool that had two holes and a plate that could slide back and forth. “This thing for example. I’ve never seen you use it. Why let it sit out here taking up space? Is it so important to keep?”
Dad was still trying to figure out how to hold onto the squirming, now unhappy kitten as Carolyn waved the tool at him. He settled on cradling it in both hands against his belly. He looked up at his daughter. “That is an antique Colt bullet mold from 1862. No, we are not getting rid of it.” The kitten was attempting to climb up his front in search of its missing bottle, letting out frustrated little meows all the while. He assisted the tiny body by bringing it more up to his chest, but still trying to contain it in his hands.
Carolyn didn’t seem to notice his distress with the kitten. She regarded the bullet mold thoughtfully. “Well then, maybe we could just use it.”
Her dad snorted. “Making bullets seems to go against the spirit of your animal rescuing thing.”
Carolyn rolled her eyes. “No. I mean maybe. . . “, she turned to the workbench and popped off the nipple of the tiny baby bottle, turned it over and stuck it into one of the bullet mold holes. “There. Like that.” She held the mold/nipple combo out for her father to see.
He looked at it, then at her, again saying nothing, but with a hint of an eyebrow raise.
“When we wash them, they could go there for drying.” She smiled.
By this point the kitten had found one of Dad’s pinkie fingers and latched on. The dog stretched in his sleep, rolling out of the bed and waking himself.  He got up wagging to see people out here with him and approached Dad with a rope toy and a hopeful expression. 
“Ok,” Dad said. “Tomorrow you can help me go thought some of these boxes. There might be a few things we could get rid of.”
Author note – Following a writing prompt from the Writing Excuses Podcast, I asked my Facebook Friends to send me photos of random objects. I would use 3 of these photos to make a story. These were the first three photos sent:

Uncategorized

Space Monkeys – Flash Fiction Friday


The monkeys running the spaceship were getting cranky. In their defense, they had been at this for hours now; well past their usual end of shift. Allie told herself she’d make it up to them. Soon. The major damage had been repaired, and it was clear now they would successfully make it to the next system. 
She made herself focus on the problem at hand. Her mind kept wandering back – thinking of ways to get revenge on the pirates who had attacked them so far out here between stars. Thankfully none of the monkeys had been hurt, and the ship could be repaired enough to limp to safety. She watched them with pride as they scampered and swung around the engine room. It looked like were a thousand of them when they were all working like this, although in reality there were only thirty. Much smarter than anyone gave them credit for, they seemingly could learn anything. The best part was that Allie had all the help she needed to run the ship, and she didn’t have to deal with other actual people. At least, not often. 
The swirl of motion was slowing. Some monkeys came to the ground and moved off in a line toward the kitchen for food. A few more headed straight to the bunks. Allie closed the panel she had finished rewiring. They had done it. They had finished the repairs. Those that passed close enough, Allie reached out to pat. Some reached a friendly hand back to her in reply. Meeko, one of the more cuddly monkeys, climbed Allie’s leg and held onto her in a hug as she walked. They had adapted well to living out here, and Allie couldn’t imagine a better life.
Uncategorized

The Scam is Dead – Short Fiction Friday


Three more spirits before ten am. They had no qualms about waking a person, or keeping them up at night either. Two of the new ones didn’t even speak English. What did they think she could do for them? When she made it clear she didn’t understand them, they just got louder and more insistent. Couldn’t even shut a door in their face since they can move right through walls. At least she could take out her hearing aid and that helped her ignore them when she wanted to sleep.
Rose had made a decent living out of pretending to speak to the departed. Now that they were showing up for real, she was strongly considering a new line of work. Actually talking to the dead was nowhere near as fun as pretending. It wasn’t as profitable either. 
Yesterday a ghost had strolled into a séance, with a paying client, and demanded to speak with someone named Deborah. Rose doesn’t know a Deborah, and the client didn’t know a Deborah, so Rose sent the spirit on its way. After that though, the client would not be satisfied with moving candles, or Rose’s best ethereal voice. No, she wanted to see her dead mother the way she had seen the ghost looking for Deborah. The ghost who wandered back in again just as Rose had almost persuaded the client to be reasonable and settle back down. That client would never return now. 
Then the ghost, a young man, tall with a friendly face, insisted that Rose help him find Deborah anyway. “Your sign says you are a bridge for the living to speak with the dead. Well I need to speak to Debbie.” Rose explaining that usually it was the living who hired her services, and she helped them contact the dead, not the other way around. He was unimpressed. Oh, and no, he couldn’t pay. Ghosts don’t have money, but Deborah would probably pay her something once they found her.
Probably. That’s what the little punk said. Probably pay Rose something. How reassuring. To get him to go away though, she let him give her this Deborah’s information. Last address, phone number, that sort of thing. Then Rose had told him she needed quiet and peace in which to do her work. He should go away until tomorrow. That part at least had worked as well on him as it did on the living. He’d gone.
But he was back promptly this morning. He was the third. The one who spoke English. Rose, naturally, had done nothing to search for Deborah. She wasn’t a detective. She had no idea how to go about searching for someone. She almost never left her house for that matter. No, she was just in no fit state to tromp around searching for a strange woman, and she told the ghost so when he reappeared to her.
“But she doesn’t live at her old house anymore, and when I tried to talk to the people who live there now, they just screamed and ran away, or prayed frantically at me.” The ghost said. 
“Other people can see you?” Rose asked. This had not occurred to her. Perhaps pretending to be special for so many years had made her believe she actually was.
“Yes,” the ghost said. “It doesn’t do me any good though. No one will talk to me, but this is what you do, right?”
Theoretically it was. It was certainly what she advertised she did. What she charged people for doing. Rose ignored the question. “My time is valuable, and I have trouble getting around at my age. I need a significant payment ahead of time to take something like this on.”
“Did you call the number I gave you?” The ghost asked. “I can go anywhere to look, but I can’t pick up and dial a phone. She might still use that number. You don’t have to go anywhere.”
“I don’t mean to be callous, but there is still the matter of payment. Some vague hope that this Deborah will offer to settle your account won’t do.”
“What can I do for you then? Obviously I don’t have credit cards,” the ghost stuck his hands into this transparent pockets and pulled them out, showing they were empty, as though that display were necessary. “Maybe I could help drum up business, tell other ghosts I see to come talk to you.”
He didn’t listen well, did he. “They will just have the same problems you are having. My clients are the living.”
“Well, I could help you there then. I’ll come around when you want me to, to show folks you can really talk to the dead. That you aren’t the usual fraud.”
He might be onto something there. Rose thought. What if the paper came. She could summon a real ghost to show them. That would bring her more customers than any amount of advertising she had to pay for would. But would they expect her to produce their personal ghosts for them? Her thoughts swirled. If they did, she could handle that. She could call this guy her connection to the spirit world, and through him she could contact any departed soul. That would work; people would eat it up. 
“Would you come for a reporter, were I to invite one?” She tried to sound unconcerned, as if she were doing a favor to him, but the idea held her, and she found herself holding her breath waiting for his reply.
“If that will get you to find Deborah, then yes, yes I will do whatever you need me to.”
“Wait here,” the old woman said, and picking up her cane, she shuffled off into a back room. When she returned she was wearing a huge grin. “The reporter will be here tomorrow at 2:00. You should come a little before that to get into a hiding spot – behind this divider, I think – until I summon you for the interview.”
“And Deborah?”
“Payment first,” Rose said, in a ‘be reasonable’ voice. “After the interview, I make your calls for you.”
The ghost frowned, but nodded, and then faded out of sight. 
Rose went to the séance chamber to wait for the ghost around 1:30 the next day, but he was not there yet. She kicked herself for not giving him a more specific arrival time. Overnight she had thought of more ways to increase the drama of the interview, and include some of her good old standby tricks that clients liked. She wanted to go over the plan with the ghost so he responded correctly.
1:45, still no ghost. 1:55, and she began to be worried as well as annoyed. What would she do if he didn’t come? What could she possible say to the reporter? The chime on the door tinkled at 2:07, but it wasn’t the ghost, obviously. He didn’t use the door. It was the reporter. Well, she would stall. Rose knew she could do that well. What else was there to do?
She put on her wise old seer smile and welcomed the reporter, a woman with long dark hair in a braid, a satchel over one shoulder who introduced herself as Maggie Denton. Once inside, Rose offered Maggie a tour of her studio. She didn’t take her upstairs, where her apartment was, she only gestured to the staircase off the lobby with its velvet rope barrier and explained that she lived upstairs. 
Maggie already had out her cell with a recorder ap running, as well as a notepad. She looked around the lobby at the waiting area chairs. “Do you have a receptionist?” She asked.
“No, I work alone. There really wouldn’t be anything for them to do.” Rose smiled what she thought of as her humble smile. 
“So how does your client know what to do when they come in?” Maggie asked. “Walk me through an appointment.”
“I personally speak with all clients on the phone to set up their appointments,” Rose said. “New clients at least. I have many regulars who have standing appointment times once, or several times a week. If they happen to arrive before I’ve finished a previous appointment, we have this area here for them to relax in.” She gestured to a dim corner of the lobby with a puffy couch and armchair. A small table held occult magazines and an incense burner that was empty at the moment. “Some of my clients like to come in early just to spend a few moments here, clearing their mind before our session.”
“I see.” Maggie said.
“Then when we are ready to begin, we move into the inner sanctuary.” Rose opened a door to the left of the staircase that led into an even dimmer room. A chandelier hung over a round table. It held multi colored light bulbs, but none of them produced much actual illumination.
Rose had walked around to her usual place at the table, but before she could sit or begin her spiel a man burst into the lobby, banging to door into the wall. He looked around frantically, and then raced in with Rose and the reporter.
“I’m so sorry Ms. Rose, my car died. I tried to catch a bus, but I don’t know the schedule.” 
As he continued to rant at her, something about a lyft and road construction, he bent over and tried to catch his breath at the same time. Rose had stopped listening. She just looked at him, her hands up covering her gaping mouth. It was the ghost. Except he wasn’t a ghost. He was just a normal living man standing in her sanctuary babbling much too loud about his transportation difficulties. 
The reporter had a strange smile on her face and was taking his picture, then turned to take Rose’s picture as well, and then began scribbling in her notebook. Rose realized how she must look and tried to compose her face into her dignified and mysterious façade. “Young man,” she snapped. “Please settle down.”
He stopped talking and stood more upright, although it was clear he was still trying to catch his breath. 
“Now, as you can see, I am with someone at the moment, but if you would like to take a seat in the lobby, I can be with you shortly.” Rose gave a gracious smile, satisfied at her handling of the potential disaster. 
“But Ms. Rose, I know I’m late, but I have the sheet, I’m ready, I can still – “Rose had not noticed he was holding anything until he began to unfurl a sheet with two holes cut into it. He moved as if to drape the thing over himself while also moving to get behind the screen in the corner of the room. The very screen she where had planned to hide the ghost. 
It was the reporter that stopped him. “Excuse me,” she placed a hand on his arm as he moved past her, struggling with the sheet as he went. “Are you here to stand in as a ghost for this woman?”
The man froze. He looked genuinely stricken. “Oh no,” he said. He clutched the sheet to his stomach, as if to now hide it. Looking at Rose he said, “I’m so sorry Ms Rose, I’m so stupid. I’ve ruined it.”
Rose had had to sit down after all by this point; her mind was frantically spinning trying to look for a way to turn this around. The reporter was going to out her as a fraud, that was bad enough, but for doing something she wasn’t actually doing. How was this happening? She could pretend not to know who he was, but he was very convincingly acting as if they did know one another. The reporter wouldn’t buy it. She could think of nothing to do. Nothing. She just looked at the man heedless of the anger that must show on her face. 
“Oh no,” he said again, then with a wild look at the reporter, then Rose, he gathered up the trailing end of his sheet and fled. The reporter was actually laughing as she scribbled her notes, and snapped another photo of Rose sitting at the table, her hands grasping the edges to steady herself. 
“Well,” Maggie said, “any response?”
With a deep breath Rose said, “I am as shocked as you. I have no idea who that man is.”
Maggie giggled again. “All righty.” She made another note, then tucked the pad into her pocket and clicked her pen closed. “Thanks for your time. This will be more fun to write than I thought it would be.” 
Rose didn’t see her leave. She let her head fall forward and rest on her folded arms. What had just happened? How had she handled it so poorly? Yet, what else could she possible have done? Who was that man? Every question triggered three others, and she had no answers.
She couldn’t have been sitting there more than a few minutes when she heard the front door open again. She was in no mood. She had best go send them away and lock up for the day. She couldn’t handle working now. Before she was able to push herself up to standing the man sauntered in. She realized she didn’t even know his name. He didn’t have his sheet anymore. 
“Who the hell are you?” she demanded.
He smiled. “Delores’ son,” he said. “Ya know, in the beginning, I almost felt a little bad about this trick I was pulling on you, but then every time I mentioned her name and saw that you had no idea who she was – that after everything you don’t even remember her at all – well, I didn’t feel bad anymore.” He turned back to the door and Rose thought he was going to shut it, but he only partially closed it to get at the shelf unit that stood in the corner behind it. Spooky knick knacks and ephemera were there. Probably needed dusting. He stood on tiptoe to reach a grayish box that she hadn’t noticed there. He pulled it down, turned it over and Rose saw a little light on it. He flipped a switch and the light went out. 
“My projector,” he said holding the box up. He couldn’t resist rubbing her nose in what he’d done, she realized. 
“What about the others, the foreigners?” She was feeding his ego she knew, but she also needed to know how he’d done it.
“Friends,” he said. “Those of us who don’t spend their life taking advantage and bilking other people have what are called friends.” 
“Dolores,” Rose said. It was familiar. She did know a Delores, didn’t she? That’s right, she had been a regular, but Rose hadn’t seen her in many months. She was supposed to keep track of every old client now? “I haven’t seen Delores in awhile.”
“Do you remember her then? Or is this more of your scam. You worthless, lying -” he stopped and took a long shaky breath. “Delores was my mother.” He stood a little straighter. “She wasted too much of her retirement on you, but it was hers to waste, and you made her happy, so I didn’t argue with her about it. But then she complained to you about pains a few times. You told her everything was great. Health and fortune were just around the corner. That’s what you like to tell people, right?”
“That’s what they like to hear,” Rose said before thinking.
“Well thanks to your advice she didn’t go to the doctor. Not until it had already spread to her kidneys and lungs. Until there wasn’t much they could do for her anymore. Because of what you told her. I hope you enjoy having your life ruined by a scam as much as my family has.” He turned and walked out.
Uncategorized

Flash Fiction Friday: First Love


The slamming of the back door screen and the shrieking of the girl as she tore across the yard woke Bob from his nap. Folding his ears back as he yawned and stretched, his front legs then his back. Reluctantly he slunk to the edge of the yard to crouch beneath the lavender bushes, leaving his warm corner of the patio in the sun. His old joints were stiff and he was on no mood for the crushing hugs and rough play the girl would force on him if he stayed in the open. 
The screen thumped closed again, calmer this time. Bob saw Leigh moving a plastic chair. She sat, and opened a book in her lap, but watched the girl for several moments before looking down to read.
Bob remembered how he and Leigh used to spend the whole day together sometimes. He would sit in her lap as she worked at the computer or pounce on the laundry as she folded. Since the girl had been big enough to move around though, Bob had slept hidden under the bed most of the day. He learned quickly that that was the only way to stay safe from being poked or his ears or whiskers pulled. Now he only came out after the girl was in bed. To get a short precious time in Leigh’s lap again for proper, gentle ear and chin rubs.
He looked at Leigh reading , then at the girl who was now at the far end of the yard screeching some sort of song as she ran in circles. He stuck his head out from under the bush. Then crept a little further. Before he’d thought things through he had covered half the distance to Leigh. He found himself airborn, swinging in a circle. The girl held him under his front legs, his back feet dangling as she flung him around in her dance. 
“Caroline! Stop that!”
The swinging stopped, but he dangled still, his spine screaming for some support. Then Leigh had him against her chest, one arm under him, the other rubbing his ears. She carried him to her chair, and then set him in her lap. He thought about jumping down and back to his hiding spot in the bushes.
“Caroline, come here. You pet him gentle, like this.”
Leigh ran her hand down his spine. Then a smaller hand hit him, pushing him down, and followed the same path. “Gentle, gentle. See, he likes that.” The second time, the small hand was softer, but it plucked at his fur before departing.
“I’m sorry buddy,” Leigh said, scratching his chin in the spot he loved. “She’ll get better. I’ve got you now though.” 
Bob curled up and settled into her lap, purrs overflowing out of him. Like old times.
Uncategorized

Daycare Isn’t Dull now up at Aurora Wolf

I have a new short story up over at Aurora Wolf : A Literary Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy.
It’s called Daycare Isn’t Dull.

For a time, I took care of my infant niece. She was not a fan of naps and it was a great source of frustration for us both. Later, when she went to daycare, I wondered how the caregivers there managed with so many children all with their own problems. Then I started to wonder how they would handle a child with even bigger problems. . .

So go check out my story, as well as some of the others over there. It’s a free site for readers, but I did notice a ‘Donate’ button if you like what you find.