Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NaNoWriMo Here I Come!

It`s that time of the year again. October is almost over and November is creeping up behind October like a child with mischief on its mind. For me November means two things: Thanksgiving and NaNoWriMo. What the Sam Hill is NaNoWriMo Vicki you may be asking. I`ll be glad to explain!

NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month is an event sponsored by the non-profit organization The Office of Letters and Light.

OLL also offers a Camp NaNoWriMo and a Young Writers Program. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in a month. If that sounds like a lot of words well…it is! It`s a real life altering event for authors. You must put your fanny in that chair and write at least 1,700 words a day or you won`t win. The prize is a small banner for your blog or website and the knowledge that you kicked out 50K words in thirty days. There`s no money awards or gifts given for winners, those who complete the challenge get only the gift of pride that you give yourself for the hard work and discipline.

For writers who are lax on discipline, NaNo will either kill you or cure you. I don`t struggle with discipline thankfully. I have writing as a part of my daily routine like brushing my teeth or making the bed. Generally I whittle at my tales from seven in the morning, take a lunch break, and come back for another hour or two before Mister gets home. Or I might read after lunch or do housework or nap and claim to have done housework.

That is my general 'if life lets me' routine. NaNoWriMo means I have to forgo the after-lunch slouch. I must get back into the story to reach my daily word goal. No reading until evening. No napping with a book in my hand and calling it reading. No vacuuming or dusting unless it`s a fly-by with a feather duster to the tops of the lamp shades. NaNo takes over my life for November. My family is warned ahead of time that dinner may be sandwiches four nights out of seven. If that does not set well, they know where the sub shop is. Bring me home a turkey on Italian with American cheese and extra mayo no pickles or peppers!

I really enjoy the workout NaNoWriMo gives me though, even if my house suffers a bit from neglect. This year I`m hoping to get my third book close to/being done, if all goes well and the crick don`t rise as we say here in the hills. If I can get book number three done then I`ll dive into revisions and edits for book number two during December. I`m hoping for an early April 2013 release for Of Heroes and Haybales so edits are needed before year’s end.

While all this is going on with my self-published books, the short story I submitted to Torquere Press is going through final edits as well. He loves me for my brainsssss is an anthology of GLBT romance tales dealing with zombies and all the gory, funny, romantic things that we crazy authors can associate with them. I am thrilled beyond words about having had my story Two Guys Walk Into an Apocolypse picked! I seriously did a happy goatherder dance in my kitchen when I got the happy email from my editor at Torquere. That book is slated for release in January 2013 tentatively. I will certainly pass along all the info and links about it as it comes to me.

Gosh, I`m tired just reading all that! So where does this entire hullabaloo leave my blog? Well, it leaves it in pretty good shape actually. My Tuesday Tales for November are done and filed and ready for use. I may not be able to find time for the random or writing themed posts I`ve been doing on Friday`s of late. I`ll try my best to keep things moving along but if all you see or hear of me are my Tuesday Tales stories, that`s why. I`ll try to visit everyone at least once a week to say ‘Howdy!’ and ‘Coffee!’ or something along those lines. So if you see me wandering around mumbling to myself about Iron Man needing a hug just pat me on the head and point me back at my laptop.

For my NaNo writing buddies I want to wish you all good luck and I`ll see you over there, thermos of coffee at the ready and fingers all limbered up.

See y`all when the smoke clears!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tuesday Tales - Ghost

Tuesday Tales

Welcome back! This week we have the thrilling conclusion of ‘The Foggy Creek Hellhound’. This is a PG-13 tale.

The word prompt for this week is ‘Ghost’ so the story will reflect the prompt in some manner. As these are original stories written in a week, some errors may be found. I do apologize for those in advance. Try not to let them boggle you down though if possible.

Please do check out the other wonderful writers after you`re done reading by clicking on the Tuesday Tales link at the bottom. Thank you for stopping in!

The Foggy Creek Hellhound


I paused at the tree line, listening….

Some joker reached out and yanked me from the last bit of mowed yard in Foggy Creek. I screamed like a banshee. Gerard pulled me in and kissed me into silence. I couldn`t say which smell was more appealing: fallen leaves in a wooded glen or Gerard. Eventually this kissing whenever we felt like it was going to have to stop. We`d both get our butts fired if the brass found out. But the big heads weren`t here, now were they? I kissed him back, even going so far as to lift one damp sneaker in the air like a true coquette.

“I think I feel another screech coming on,” I whispered when our lips parted. I heard the man inhale to respond. Something stepped on a twig not ten feet from us. We both turned into statues.

“Okay, look over my shoulder and tell me if Sasquatch is standing behind me,” Gerard sounded as if he was speaking without moving his lips. I shifted my head slowly to the left, keeping my hands behind his neck. It was too dark to see your hand in front of your face let alone a Bigfoot behind your cameraman.

“I don`t see anything.” I slid from his arms as my heart tried to break out of my ribs. His exhalation blew a few strands of hair from my cheeks.

“You need to keep your hands off me, woman,” the man announced then turned to face the deep dark woods. “You`ll end up getting us killed.”

I had a really tart comeback on the tip of my tongue. It fizzled like flat soda water when another branch broke in two. I slammed both hands into the middle of Gerard`s back and shoved. He balked like a mule. I felt like a little tug boat pushing on the USS Lots a Muscle. Finally he got himself lurched to the side enough that I stumbled forward. We had a fine couple of rounds of circling each other. Finally I stamped my foot to the ground like a petulant child.

“Stop trying to make me go first! You`re the man. You`re supposed to go first in dangerous situations!” I hissed. I wished I could see him better. The moonlight was nothing more than thin shafts of white light dancing over the forest floor.

“Haven`t we had this conversation before?” Gerard asked. “Just because I have a – one of them – I have to go first, pick up all the heavy shit that you don`t want to, and kill anything that scares you? Who the hell makes up all these rules?”

“Women,” I replied.


“Okay, let`s walk side by side. This way it`s fair.”

“See, that`s all I`m asking,” the man grumbled as we started hiking deeper into the forest. “You women say you want equal rights then make us men step on mice in our slippers. I don`t see what`s so equal about that. Slapping around with mouse juice on the bottom of your slipper and….”

“Are you about done?” I asked to the side.

“Maybe,” he huffed, his camera bolstered on his shoulder and his hand now wrapped around mine.

“I`ve never asked you to step on a mouse,” I whispered, reaching out blindly to find any low branches. A thin one met my palm and bent away with ease.

“Only because the situation hasn`t presented itself yet. Just wait, you will, and I`ll tell you to go step on your own damn mouse.”

My, someone had his gender up! I opted to let his mood bubble away until it was gone. Like a pan of water on a high flame eventually his pot would be dry. We got another twenty yards into the forest and I stopped walking. Gerard pulled up as well.

“Let`s get the camera rolling. I think if we take the viewers along it will add to the suspense, sort of like the Blair Witch Trials.”

He mulled that over for a moment and then the light flared to life. My pupils went into shock. When I could see again I blinked watery eyes at the camera pointed down at me.

“We`re back,” I said in a hushed tone. “We are now deep in the wilds of Maine, moving in the same direction that the hellhound of Foggy Creek went,” I spoke softly and began to step carefully forward. Gerard had to stay a step behind for a decent camera angle.

A screech owl screamed off in the distance. A small rodent ran though the heavy leaf litter. I heard my pulse pounding in my ears. Gerard was dragging his left leg slightly. I was wondering if he had hurt his bad knee worse than he had let on when a huge form appeared in front of us. My mouth turned into the Sahara. Despite all his protestations Gerard stepped in front of me, camera angle forgotten, as a menacing growl reverberated through the woods.

“Take the camera,” Gerard said. I did as bid, reaching up to lift the Hitachi from him then settle it to my own shoulder. “If this thing kills me, run like hell, Maggie,” he added then sprinted at the canine. His name, followed by a loud ‘NO!’ rushed from me. I kept the camera pointed at the tackle the former Pitt star completed, only because I had to make sure he didn`t get mangled. The hellhound cursed as he and Gerard rolled through the Maine woods.

“Viewers, I think we may have a fraud on our hands,” I commented, walking towards the ghost who was wheezing and kicking uselessly at the large man sitting on his back. “Nice take down, Gerard. The NFL lost a hell of a player but KBNY gained one great cameraman,” I smiled. Gerard turned his head to grin at the camera. My belly grew all warm and tingly as did a few other feminine areas.

“Think we should find out who this is?” Gerard asked, dragging out the suspense for the viewers at home. “I`m not sure,” he winked, winning a million female hearts, “But I`m guessing our ghost isn`t so supernatural after all.”

“Yeah, let`s end this fake haunting,” I stated, stepping back to get a nice wide shot of the reveal. Gerard slapped his hand between the hellhound’s ears and tugged. The mask flew off to reveal a middle-aged man with mottled cheeks and thinning dark hair.

“This is where you gasp and say the dude`s name,” Gerard teased. I wanted to flip him off so badly.

“Get off me you stupid flatlander!” the man began to flail once more. Gerard took his old sweet time getting to his feet. “Damned miserable leaf peepers! Coming up here and making trash all over the place. Go back to the city you dirty mongrels!” the irate man stalked off the way we had come, minus the top of his werewolf costume. I followed his exit until he was lost in the darkness. I turned to find Gerard and zoomed in on him picking bits of dead leaf and twigs from his hair. Gerard peeked at the camera, his mouth twitching at the corners.

“Go ahead and say it,” I sighed.

“He would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn`t for that nosy reporter and her darned cameraman.” Gerard broke into laugher so rich he couldn`t breathe properly. I turned the camera to face me.

“And that is what we here on PPI do; bring you the truth about the supernatural. I`m Maggie Owens, and until next week, may the only spirits you encounter be in a shot glass.”

I cut the power to the camera. “Shit, I don`t like that tagline either,” I frowned as the dark woods enveloped us. Gerard was still giggling like a buffoon somewhere to my right. “Could you at least try to get yourself together?”

“That was classic! I just wish you would have said ‘Jinkies! It`s Old Man Sodbuster!’ or something when I pulled his mask off.”

He had to talk between peals of laughter he was that amused. Someone was having far too good a laugh at this. “Yuk it up, but keep in mind that if we don`t soon find something solid to turn over to Eddie and the programming executives, you`ll be snickering all the way to the unemployment office.”

“Ah come on, you know what George Carlin said. ‘Don`t sweat the petty things and don`t pet the sweaty things’,” Gerard said as he neared.

“What is that even supposed to mean?”

“It means,” the man grabbed me from behind, bringing my back tightly into his chest, “That this show will be a hit. A campy hit maybe, but a hit just the same. Who can resist those big green eyes of yours?” he nuzzled my neck, “Or that pouty bottom lip of yours,” another small nip along my jugular, “Or the way you fill out those jeans?”

“What about my journalistic skills? Think anyone will appreciate….a little lower,” I sighed.

He moved his mouth to that tender spot where neck meets shoulder. “Why don`t we go find the B&B Eddie set us up in? You know, to find a tow truck and maybe have a nightcap while we wait for said tow truck?”

I gave the matter some serious thought. For about half a second.

“I vaguely recall something about a nightcap….”

“We can watch TCM until the tow truck shows up….”

Temptation thy name is Gerard Williams. The lure of sitting on a couch - wine in hand - curled into the side of this man while Greta or Bette or Bogie graced the screen was far too enticing to pass up.

Hell, we might even watch the movie.



Click below to go to Tuesday Tales

I hope you enjoyed meeting Maggie and Gerard. We`ll have more tales from them later I promise.

See you next Tuesday for the return of Libby and Ares!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Cuppa and a Book - Menu for Romance

I have to come clean about this book. It was a mistake buy. I was in the Dollar General moseying about and I always check out the books. This one had an attractive cover and so I tossed it into my cart and went about my shopping. It was after I got home and finally got a few books cleared off the top of it that I read the back cover thoroughly. Then I saw the author was a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

I have never read a Christian romance novel. I know for a fact that they are far too timid for my tastes. After all, this is the woman that drools over a vampire with serious BDSM tendencies and pens romantic/comedies with explicit M/F and M/M love scenes. But, in an effort to branch out and read different genres I resigned myself to reading Menu for Romance by Kaye Dacus.

The story revolves around a party planner named Meredith Guidry and a chef named Major O`Hara. They`ve both been in love with each other for eight years and neither has had the chutzpah to make the first move. Meredith, in an effort to move past this crush on Major (I just wish to say I really like his name) makes a New Year`s resolution to meet someone new and end her single status by year’s end.

She starts dating a handsome contractor, but wouldn`t you know it, Ward just doesn`t have what the handsome chef she works with every day has. Major has his own problems that he brings to the non-relationship, the biggest being that he hides the fact that his mother suffers from schizophrenia.

Okay, so we seem to have the prerequisite slew of problems for our couple to work out. I settled in and began reading, waiting for the action/suspense/adventure/romance to begin. I was resigned to having no sex and was okay with that. Well, I read and I waited and I waited and I read. I finally got to the last page of the book and still hadn`t found anything exciting to talk about in my review.

I`m not saying that the book is a bad book but it`s not a great book either. It has no spark. It`s bland. Major needs to ‘BLAM!’ the plotline with some Cajun spices, I mean; they are in Louisiana after all! We spend the entire novel slogging through a blasé romance. There is no mystery to solve or a bad guy to bring down just page after page of two characters bemoaning the fact that they`re tired of being alone yet not being mature enough to say ‘Hey, I think you`re cute! Want to go out sometime?’

Meredith was slightly annoying about her lack of love. But even that whining didn`t bother me as much as Major`s refusal to tell the woman he claims he loves above all others about his mother. I just didn`t get that. And it`s a shame because I really liked Major. He could have been one hell – Oops- heck of a romantic lead if he had just not been such a coward.

So you see, the things that made the book get only three stars had nothing to do with it being a Christian romance and therefore lacking nookie. What made it lackluster were the characters and so-so plot. Ms. Dacus uses detail nicely and when spins a Southern setting perfectly. The secondary characters were quite enjoyable. Actually, a few of the secondary`s were more interesting than the leads.

Overall it was a rather slow read for me but it certainly was not the worst book I`ve ever read. Fifty Shades of Grey has that dubious distinction. Menu for Romance gets three stars for trying really hard to make a fire without any spark.

Friday, October 26, 2012

I Need a Hero

Oh yes, I certainly do! What reader doesn`t? What woman doesn`t?!?

A strong, handsome, fearless man to sweep me off my feet….

I feel swoonish. Is that a word? Well, if it wasn`t it is now! Since I write in a genre that has the word ‘romantic’ sitting right in front of its literary partner ‘comedy’ I spend a lot of time working with heroes. I have to invent them, decide how they`ll look, how they`ll walk, how they`ll love, and how they`ll speak. I have to name them and build a story around them. I must also whip up a lover for my heroes. I love my job!

I`ve heard it said that there is a stereotypical hero for romance novels. I beg to differ. I like to think (or at least I hope) that my heroes are a little less cookie-cutter than many others. Make no mistake they`ll have you dabbing at your mouth with a napkin while fanning your face, but they are not the typical leading man that Hollywood or Fabio has made folks think romantic heroes in books have to be. My guys are funny, which is why they`re starring in romantic/comedies I suppose. They may look good and make a woman fan her face but they have wit also, because women love men that can make them laugh as well as dig gouges in the headboard during nookie.

I`ve found many men in novels that have stolen my heart: Vishous, Bones and Jamie Fraser just to name a few. Phew….Is it warm in here? I`m hoping to make it a bit warmer so maybe we`ll want to open a window or two. Since we`re chatting about heroes I thought I would introduce you to some of mine. The men that you`re about to meet are from three of my favorite storylines. Each one is different and yet they all share that gift for banter that makes me smile then melt into a puddle.

Let`s start with the hero of my Gods & Goats trilogy, Ares. Dave Batista is my chosen candidate for Ares if a movie is ever made out of my books. Mr. Batista is spot on perfect for playing the god of war.

Ares is not your standard hero. Actually, if you read back through Greek mythology Ares was kind of a jerk. He`s portrayed as being barbaric, crude, bloodthirsty, ignorant, whiny, and somewhat stupid. Ares was easily defeated by his sister Athena at Troy. He was outwitted by giants who held him captive in an urn. He was humiliated and laughed at by the other gods when he was caught in a net while canoodling with Aphrodite. Yeah, Ares was the black sheep of the Olympians.

I wanted to change that perception of the war god. I wanted to dig into him a bit just to see what made him tick. Sure, my Ares still loves a good battle. The more bloodshed the happier he is, BUT, there is a softer side to my Ares that has never really been explored. Ares is a man that loves his children deeply. He is also a man that worshipped Aphrodite for centuries so we know he gives his heart totally. Also, Ares is damned funny in a rather childish way that I think makes him endearing. Ares in my books can go from fighting a Chimera clad in full golden battle gear and roaring loud enough to shake the mountains to whispering a poem penned by Sappho into Libby`s wee ear. That is my kind of hero!

Now this is my second hero. A totally different kind of man yet with a killer sense of humor that his co-worker just can`t seem to resist. After finding this image in a Facebook group I belong to (I have fun groups on Facebook!) I knew I had found Gerard Williams. No wonder Maggie Owens, the host of Paranormal Private Investigators, has trouble keeping her mind on the job! I`ve no clue who this stunning man in the image is but he is exactly how I see Gerard, right down to the dreads and the perfection of his lips. Gerard is a modern man so his humor is different than Ares` is. Gerard is sharp and clever and quite aware of how to use what he has to get a woman he wants. Yes he is younger than Maggie Owens and he does not care. Go Cougars!!

I love writing the dialog for all my lovers and Gerard and Maggie are no exception. Someday I hope to find some time to give them a run at a novella. I think they would set the pages to flame in no time at all!

Now we`re going to meet two heroes in the same tale! Yep, that`s right, two heroes in one book! These two gentlemen are the stars of my short story Two Guys Walk into an Apocalypse which will be appearing in the anthology He Loves Me for My Brainsssss published by Torquere Press, available early 2013.

May I introduce Paul Cooke—

And Gordon Moretti—

I know, aren`t they superb looking men?! Our blonde hero, Paul, is of course Alexander Skarsgard and the brunette I`d chose to play Gordon is Eric Bana. Paul and Gordon are partners in a world that is suddenly filled with flesh-eating zombies. That`s right, a gay Rom/Com set in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. It was a real challenge to try to balance comedy, romance, and zombies but it sure was fun!

Generally zombies don`t lend themselves to the giggles. Taking a few movies I had seen (Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead) as my guiding lights I sat down and starting whittling out two leading men. Gordon and Paul are the stars of the first M/M story I have ever written. I fell in love with them both before I got to my first chapter break.

It`s not easy for a man to maintain his sense of humor when zombie`s are chasing him and his lover through a home improvement store. Paul does and he does it with flair and panache. Gordon has a much more low-key wit than his partner. They play perfectly off each other and are utterly devoted to each other. I`m in the process now of laying out a few plot skeletons for further adventures of these two hunky heroes. Perhaps if all goes well we might see a series for our two guys as they battle through a strange, gory, funny, crazy new world. Keep your fingers crossed!

So those are a few of my heroes. Tell me about yours! Who inspires you for your hero? Do you find images to refer back to when writing about your leading men? What do you like in a hero? Golden hair or dark? Blue eyes or cocoa? Wise cracking or stoic? Is there a profession that your heroes seem to gravitate to such as lawyer, cowboy, astronaut, professional football player?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Guest Blogging over at Jean`s

Hi gang! Today I`m thrilled to be doing a guest post over at Jean Joachim`s blog. Ares and Libby, the stars of my 'Gods & Goats' trilogy are being interviewed. I`m half afraid to see what comes out of my Greek god of wars mouth to be honest!

We`d love it if you drop in and say howdy!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tuesday Tales - Picture Prompt

Tuesday Tales

Today we`ll be carrying on with ‘The Foggy Creek Hellhound’ story. This is a PG-13 tale.

This week we have a picture prompt and the story is written to reflect the image and must be 300 words. As these are original stories written in a week, some errors may be found. I do apologize for those in advance. Try not to let them boggle you down though if possible.

Please do check out the other wonderful writers after you`re done reading by clicking on the Tuesday Tales link at the bottom. Thank you for stopping in!

The Foggy Creek Hellhound


Gerard and I cut through the town. Many of the houses were decorated for Halloween.

“I remember when I was a kid in McKeesport,” Gerard said, “There was this one house that always did all up for the holidays. Didn`t matter which holiday. Christmas, Easter, Bastille Day, the people were decoration junkies.”

I nodded and tried to relax. The thick Maine woods waited at the end of the lane.

“Halloween they went massive overboard. It was an old house, tan with dark shingles, and probably three floors. Real Addams Family feel. It had these huge urns out by the street with fake hands and head in them. The porch was always the done up with creepy mannequins. Scared the crap out of us when we were young but, fascinated us too….like, we just had to go there. Kind of like what I do now without the sexy partner.”

“Smooth talker.”

“I`m all about the smooth,” Gerard countered. “I must have been around seven when we decided to steal one of the dummies. I was Batman, because I was that cool even then. We snuck down to the old house. I was chosen to do the deed. I got my eye on this lady in white tied to the pillar.”

“Your mother must have been so proud.”

“Oh yeah, if we`d have been caught I wouldn`t have sat down to eat for a week. I nearly had her free when the dummy said ‘What the hell do you think you`re doing?!’ I just about broke my neck trying to get away. My friends were laughing their asses off. I ran and didn`t stop until I hit my front door five blocks away.”

We laughed then the merriment died away.

“You go first,” I quickly said and shoved him into the woods.


Click below to go to Tuesday Tales

See you next Tuesday for the conclusion of ‘The Foggy Creek Hellhound’!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Book and a Cuppa - The Mark of Athena

Did you know it`s really hard to write a review when you`re kneeling on the floor? Well take my word for it, it is. Oh. Why am I on the floor you ask? I`m down here on my knees subjugating myself in front of Rick Riordan`s latest novel ‘The Mark of Athena.’ Yes, it is that good. Yes, Mr. Riordan is my hero and my inspiration when it comes to Greek mythos action and adventure. Yes, I need to find a pillow for my knees or get off the floor. I think I`ll sit at the table for the rest of the review.

Oh yeah, this is better. So where the heck should I begin? Well, let`s begin with the fact that Percy and Annabeth are back and have starring roles. Yep! Color me all sorts of excited! I like Jason the Roman hero well enough, I mean, he`s okay but just okay. Percy Jackson is the man to beat in this Greek mythology lover eyes. It`s Percy that really carries the book in my humble. Annabeth as well has a huge and well deserved role in ‘The Mark of Athena’. She finally gets to show what a daughter of Athena can do instead of playing the smart girlfriend of the hero. More please, Mr. Riordan. Let`s show the young women stepping up to bat more frequently.

The action is faster than a runaway chariot, as always. This time Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper and the other three chosen demigods are trying to figure out exactly what the mark of Athena is. The gang is also facing a ticking clock to save Nico, a son of Hades who is being held captive in a huge urn, and hopefully stopping the plans to bring back Gaea, the all powerful mother earth.

As with every YA book Mr. Riordan pens adventure and humor are top priorities. I laughed out loud at quite a few of the situations the kids found themselves in. Leo, a son of the forge god Hephaestus, is especially funny, tossing out clever one-liners and witty comebacks while piloting a flying ancient Greek battle ship with Wi-Fi, video games, and fridges filled with teen food.

There is some romance and it`s sweet and innocent and makes my old heart pitter-patter.

I wish every kid could read Rick Riordan`s books and get hooked on mythology before they`re forced to endure the stale, dry, academic blah-blah-blah that bores them into hating mythology. I can`t imagine young readers wouldn`t want to find out more about the Greek pantheon if it could be taught like Rick Riordan writes.

And the ending! Sweet Hera, talk about a cliffhanger of Olympic proportions! I loved it! I cannot wait to get the next book ‘The House of Hades’ when it comes out. Darned shame I have to wait until October 2013 tentatively. Good thing I have my own series filled with Greek mythos and romance to tide me over. ‘The Mark of Athena’ is a five star read from beginning to end. Grab your nearest Pegasi and fly to your local Indie bookstore for a copy. Go, do it now before the wrath of the gods falls upon you!

Friday, October 19, 2012

My Tiny Sunbeam

All of us have things that we`re afraid of.

For some folks it`s clowns, dogs, ghosts, snakes, spiders or thunderstorms. Heck, I`ll confess to being scared silly by bees, as irrational as that fear may be. Most generally our fears don`t hold us back from doing what we desire in life. I still go outside in the summer, despite all the little winged attackers just laying in wait to sink their stingers into me. Granted, I may sneak out the back door to avoid all the wasps that nest behind our shutters, but I still go out.

But what if our fears hold us back from realizing a dream? What if what we`re afraid of places a chair under the doorknob of our aspirations?

Well, I`ve heard that talking about what scares us makes it less scary. That by bringing the frightening thing from under the bed or in the closet out into the daylight and confessing that it frightens us makes it less daunting. Sort of like saying ‘Lord Voldemort’ out loud makes the name less powerful according to Hermione Granger. So, here goes. *Takes deep breath*

As a writer I`ve had to overcome a large fear. Today, I thought I`d talk about that fear and by doing so hopefully it will wither in the light once and for all just like a vampire. Unless it’s a sparkly vampire then it will just stand there, minus its shirt, and get angst all over the carpet.

My fear, the one that nearly kept me from pursuing this craft I love so much was (and still is at times) is the fear of being undereducated in a profession filled with the highly educated. I guess, to make it sound more plain, I was afraid of being called a dummy. Sure, sitting here in the sunbeams at my laptop that worry seems rather silly. But it is a large fear that even now – one book published and a short story recently accepted by a publisher for admission into an anthology – nips at my heels from time to time.

I suppose I never really thought about the lack of a college degree until I fell in love with writing. I worked for many years in the food service industry which is a fine place to make a living. Didn`t need a degree to flip burgers so that was okay. I became a mother. Don`t need a sheepskin for that either although a manual would have been nice! Getting married didn`t require a degree although I did need a license. So I was cruising along down the road of the high school diploma holder without a care about higher education or my lack thereof.

Then I discovered writing. I also discovered that some folks feel they`re a step above those of us who lack that degree in journalism or creative writing. And friends, I learned that lesson by having the flesh ripped off my back for grammar and mechanical mistakes early on. Oh I know, some of those people really did mean well. Some helped me learn quite a bit. Some were just mean-spirited snobs who didn`t dare sully themselves with the uneducated goatherder who sometimes forgot a comma or didn`t know what a reflexive pronoun was. (I still don`t, but my editor does, and that`s good enough for me.)

After being flogged by the well-meaning - and the not-so-well-meaning - my insecurity skyrocketed. I grew so fearful of making mistakes that I found myself frightened of writing something others would see. Now as an author being afraid of letting others read your work is rather like being a chef who is terrified of serving people the food they prepare. It`s defeating your own purpose.

I spent a few years in this state, wanting to write and have others enjoy my work yet being too apprehensive to take the steps needed to publish. Fear was strangling my dream. I fretted over every little mistake, or perceived mistake, until my muse got crushed under the weight of my insecurity. I couldn`t write anymore. The flow was gone. The joy of creation was dead. The elation of putting thoughts to paper was no more. All because of my fear of being called a dummy. Pretty silly for a woman who was nearing fifty, huh?

Well, yes and no. It is silly to let your fears keep you from doing what you love. It is also understandable that sometimes those of us who are writers or artists crumple into balls and hide in the closet, terrified of that monster with the words ‘YOU STINK!’ or ‘YOU DUMMY!’ or ‘YOUR WORK IS TERRIBLE!’ stamped on its hairy green chest.

Our books and paintings, poems and sketches truly are our prides and joys. We put hours or days or weeks or years into our novels or oils or lyrics. All it would take for me to run back under the bed was one person with an elitist attitude or a disparaging tone telling me - in the nicest way possible of course - to ‘Take a few college courses ,dumpling, then we`ll talk’. Paying for me to go back to school full-time isn`t a reality. I have a daughter to put through college first.

Yep, I was a shuddering mess of doubt back then. Then one person pulled me aside one day. He sat me down and asked me what had happened to the passion in my work. I told him. I explained how I didn`t feel that I had any place writing when I was such a dullard. I cited all the degrees he had. All the degrees everyone who ever wrote a book had!

To that he sat back, looked me in the eye (virtually since this was an online friend), and told me this-

“Yes, I may have degrees, and yes I may be smarter than you according to some random IQ test, but there is a difference between you and me that will set you above me as an author. I call myself a writer, and have the degrees to back up my claim, but I struggle to make my stories human and relatable, but you, you`re a storyteller, Vicki. That is something that cannot be taught in any class. It`s something that a person is born with.”

“Big whoop!” I countered. “Show me one undereducated storyteller that ever made it big.”

“Mark Twain comes to mind,” he said, “And I believe he dropped out of school at eleven.”

I was left speechless, and inspired, and so very grateful to that man for shoving away the curtains to let the light shine in. My friend was right. If Mark Twain could write and be somewhat successful, so could I. Did it really matter if I only had my high school diploma? I was a storyteller damn it! I gathered up my gumption, and with a picture of Mr. Clemens taped to my refrigerator so I could see it, dove into trying to fulfill my dream. And I did. I have a book. It might not win a Pulitzer prize or ever be on the New York Times bestseller list. It may contain some errors. It may not change one person`s life but it`s my book and it makes people smile. That`s all I ever wanted.

Does the ghost ever pop up to haunt me? Yep. All the time! And the more I`m in this crazy world of publishing the more I`m exposed to those who cast long looks downward at self-published authors or those who can`t use an apostrophe correctly. Sometimes I eye that closet and wish I could find a spot behind the winter coats. The difference now is I don`t let the unease cripple me. I know my place in the journalistic world and I can accept my spot in the sun, small as it may be.

I figure it`s not about how big that ray of sun is, it`s about how well it warms your heart. So go, find your sunbeam and revel in it`s warmth. We all have one out there just waiting for us to step into it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tuesday Tales - Cool

Welcome back! This week we`ll continue the story of ‘The Foggy Creek Hellhound’. This is a PG-13 tale.

The word prompt for this week is ‘Cool’ so the story will reflect the prompt in some manner. As these are original stories written in a week, some errors may be found. I do apologize for those in advance. Try not to let them boggle you down though if possible.

Please do check out the other wonderful writers after you`re done reading by clicking on the Tuesday Tales link at the bottom. Thank you for stopping in!

The Foggy Creek Hellhound


      “Okay, nobody panic! We`ll get to the bottom of this. Just return to your homes and let the Paranormal Private Investigators team do their thing!” I said, standing at the rear of the van. The locals muttered amongst themselves and then ambled off. I was pleasantly surprised at my ability to control a situation with enough cool to make Arthur Fonzarelli proud.

“Man, that was impressive,” Gerard commented at my left. I nodded haughtily. “Damn shame you didn`t ask for the number of a local tow shop.”


“We`ll worry about the van later, we`ve got to stay on that things trail,” I stated, heading off to investigate where the hellhound had first entered the road. When a certain person didn`t follow with the camera, I stopped and waited. Eventually the man came along. “Okay, it came out right through here. Turn on the camera and we`ll start filming as I explain what we experienced.”

“Don`t you want your Spork?” the wiseass asked right before I was blinded by the Hitachi`s light.

“Do you have audio?” I asked. Gerard gave me a thumbs-up. I inhaled, tossed my hair from my eyes and put on my serious reporter face. “Hello fans of the supernatural, I`m Maggie Owens. Tonight, the PPI team will take you along as we sniff out the truth about the Foggy Creek Hellhound,” I spun around and extended my hand at the van. “As you can see, we`ve already met the fabled canine that lurks in the Maine woodlands. It was not ten minutes ago that the creature raced from the dark forest and attacked our news van.”

Gerard made a slow sweep of the van then returned to me.

“Thankfully neither I nor my cameraman, Gerard Williams, was seriously injured. After this break we`ll be heading into the Maine woodland in pursuit of this elusive and frightening specter.”

The small red light over the built-in microphone went off.

“How did that sound?” I asked, jogging back to the rear of the van to kick off my flats. I tugged my white blouse over my head and pawed around to find the overnight bag I had hastily packed. I heard Gerard`s heavy shitkickers crunching over the gravel alongside the road. “It wasn`t too much, was it?” I jerked the bag closer and unzipped it. “I think the people really like that kind of melodrama. The wrecked van will look really good as an opener,” I pattered on, reaching back to unzip my best black skirt.

A warm hand on my shoulder turned me around. Gerard pulled me to him. His mouth slanted over mine. My hands moved up his arms into those sexy ropes of hair. I wound them through my fingers as he slid his tongue over mine hungrily. His palms roamed up my bare back, pushing my breasts into his chest. I lost all track of where we were or what we were supposed to be doing. The kiss grew more heated, more desperate.

Gerard grabbed my derriere. I groaned into his mouth and gyrated against him. He started backing me up, his fingers massaging my rump roughly as we panted and groaned across each other’s mouths. The rear bumper was cold against the back of my knees. I held his mouth to mine, kissing him with as much fervor as he was me.

A howl ripped through the sleepy town of Foggy Creek. It bounced off the two idiots getting ready to make news of their own alongside a road.

“Damn, Maggie,” Gerard huffed, dropping tiny kisses down my jaw.

“Yeah, damn is right,” I panted, rubbing my face against his cheek. He was getting scruffy. I adore scruff. I wanted to have him abrade every inch of flesh I owned.

“I didn`t mean to leap on you like that,” he said between soft pecks to my parted lips. “I just…yeah, it was really tense and then you….I come back here to tell you….and….shit. There you stand with your shirt off and I just lost it for a minute.”

“So you`re one of those ‘Minute Men’ I hear so much about?” I teased, knowing the moment was gone but not wanting to release this georgous dark male quite yet. The deep rumble of laughter that rolled from his chest into mine nearly made my eyes cross in desire.

“If we weren`t standing alongside a road with a ghostly wolf about to rip our faces off, I`d….”

Another plaintive call rolled up from the west. This one made the fine hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Gerard exhaled once. His breath was hot and moist over my cheek. Then he released the hold he had on my backside.

“Hold that thought for a later time and place,” I tugged him down for one last long kiss. It took every iota of willpower I had to pull away from him and wiggle free.

“I, Uhm, I think I`ll just go stare at the trees for a minute,” Gerard shuffled off, his gait a tad skewed.

I didn`t dare snicker. I wasn`t in much better shape. My knees were weak, my breasts were tight, my skirt was up over my ass, and my hands were quaking. Placing my forehead to the side of the van helped a wee bit. Shakily I changed my clothes then took a few fortifying breathes to blow away the lingering lust. If this was how I was after a two-minute clinch, what the hell would I be like after making love to the man? I`d be a puddle of convulsing hormones. I couldn`t wait! Screw that five date rule. The hellhound sounded off again, the howl further away now.

“Screw you too, you miserable mood breaker,” I hissed as I slid my sneaker onto my left foot. Clad in jeans, a nearly worn-out Berkeley fleece and ratty sneakers I was ready. Gerard turned when I came up behind him. The lights of the van were dimming so I crawled inside to turn the engine off now that we were done filming.

“Can I just voice my opinion here?” Gerard said, placing that tall, muscular body in the open driver side door. I bobbed my head and sat sideways on the seat. “Okay, I think it is stupid to go off into the woods to chase this thing. I know,” he showed me his palm and I closed my mouth with a snap. “This is our job. This is what KBNY pays us to do. This is what the people want to see, but Maggie, Eddie and the viewers and the big shits who own the station don`t know what it is to kiss you. I do. I know I want to do that and a lot more with you after this assignment. So there it is. My request to just use what we have and take a chance the show gets cancelled.”

I slid down from the seat and wrapped my arms around his waist. I`m pretty sure we could have stood there all night, that`s how powerful this thing between us was becoming. Age and race differences be damned. I knew a good man when I saw one.

“That was incredibly romantic,” I said, leaning back in his arms to look at him. “But this is our job. This is what we are getting paid to do. If they scrap the show before it even premieres, where does that leave us? I`ll be back copy editing and you`ll be following Brittany Silverman around doing fluff pieces.”

The man shuddered at the thought.

“If we can give them what they want, viewers and brass alike, we get to stay together. I`m willing to face down a van wrecking hellhound for that.” I waited for him to reply.

“Yeah, fine, I get it,” he exhaled. “Just don`t be stupid brave, okay? That Spork won`t do much damage.”

“No worries,” I smiled and rose to my toes to give him a quick smooch. “You`ll be right behind me with a butter knife,” I told him before wriggling free to jog across the road.


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See you next Tuesday with another issue of ‘The Foggy Creek Hellhound’!

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Visit With Siobhan

Today I`m thrilled to be visiting with the lovely Siobhan Kinkade! Join us for a lively book chat or just stop in to say howdy!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Tuesday Tales - Knife

Tuesday Tales



Welcome back! This week we`ll continue the story of ‘The Foggy Creek Hellhound’.


The word prompt for this week is ‘Knife’ so the story will reflect the prompt in some manner.  As these are original stories written in a week, some errors may be found. I do apologize for those in advance. Try not to let them boggle you down though if possible.


Please do check out the other wonderful writers after you`re done reading by clicking on the Tuesday Tales link at the bottom. Thank you for stopping in!






The Foggy Creek Hellhound





                        “Man, you drive just like my grandma.”


                I tossed a dour look at my cameraman. “In case you haven`t noticed, Sir Sarcasm,” I said, getting what I was growing to know as ‘The Look’ in return, “The fog is as thick as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s accent.”


That was no exaggeration either. Visibility was about four inches. We had already nearly run over a deer, an opossum, and a herd of frogs leaping across the two-lane that led to Foggy Creek, Maine.


                “At least you didn`t go for the pea soup reference. That always make me think of Linda Blair and yeah, this place is creepy enough without the possessed little girl image in my mind. Shit,” he sighed, squinting at the windshield as we crept through heavy mist, “Now I mentioned her and it`s in my head. Quick, say another movie!”


                This was a favorite game of ours. Gerard and I were both huge fans of classic films. This affection for the oldies is just another reason that I find the man so attractive. Big biceps and killer wit just round out the package nicely


                Keeping my eyes on the shifting low clouds enveloping our dented white KBNY news van, I put my mind to the question. My devious brain coughed up something that made me smirk internally.


                “Give me three of the stars of The Fog,” I tossed out, peeking to the right quickly then returning to the road, lest a frog stampede erupt again.


                “You`re not even trying here,” Gerard bragged, reaching down to lift his bottle of spring water from the floor, “Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, and my girl Janet Leigh.”


“I thought your girl was Margo Channing,” I commented, barely able to make out the small wooden sign welcoming us to Foggy Creek. I rolled my head in circles. I had been driving for close to six hours which would make it just around three in the morning.


“Yeah, I do love Bette, but Janet Leigh? Damn that woman was fine. You ever been more scared then when you watched Psycho for the first time?” Gerard yawned so widely his jaw cracked. I followed suit. “Did you know she measured 36-21-36?”


I glanced down at my 34B`s quickly, replying with a grunt. I heard him drinking, the soft plastic sides of the bottle collapsing with each powerful gulp. I was just about to ask him what he thought about Bye-Bye Birdie when a huge black shape stepped leisurely from the fog on the right. I cranked the wheel violently to the left to avoid the whatever- the-hell-it-was loping across the road. Upon seeing the thing Gerard`s mouthful of water sprayed over the dash. The rear of the van fishtailed slightly and I over-compensated. In a heartbeat the van was skidding sideways on the fog-dampened road. I worked at getting the vehicle straightened. Damn Eddie and his insistence that the tires had another hundred thousand miles on them! The animal in the road stood up on its back legs and lunged at the van.


All I managed to see was a flash of crimson eyes in a lycan-type face before we sailed past. Gerard was yelling something about Bigfoot. The sound of the beast punching the side of the van spurred me to hit the gas. Why, you may ask, would a person speed up when they were pointed at the guardrail? My answer would be ‘I don`t know’, but the fact that I was scared shitless may have come into play. I think Gerard may have bellowed a similar query right before the front bumper slammed into the guide rail. Metal wrapped around metal. We stopped so suddenly the air bag inflated in my face.


Stunned silence ensued, to be shortly followed by a six foot three, two hundred and thirty-five pound Black man falling into what I would term to be a major freak-out. While I regained my mental facilities and battled with the rapidly deflating airbag, Gerard was attempting, by the sounds, to rip the seatbelt from its moorings. The language coming from him was anything but polite.


A thud on the rear doors of the news van made all cussing and airbag pummeling cease. My eyes met his.


“Get your camera,” I whispered, blowing at some stray brown strands lying across my face. Gerard looked at me as if my head had just done a three-sixty.


“Are you out of your mind?” he hissed, jerking on his seatbelt until it popped free. He had mine unlatched in a millisecond. As I was about to respond to his question he tugged me from the seat to the floor. My knees hit the bare metal floor soundly. Damn Eddie for saying carpet would just get dirty! Gerard threw himself on top of me, the very model of gallantry. All oxygen left my lungs in a rush. “Keep your head down!” he snarled quietly, placing one of his catcher’s mitts of a hand on the back of my skull. My nose crunched into his camera bag.


We laid there with him on my back for a few nerve-wracking minutes. It would have been rather racy had we not been close to wetting our pants. When nothing else happened after a bit, he sat up and put his weight on my rump. Thankfully my ass has enough padding to support a burly cameraman. I always knew wearing a size fourteen would come in handy.


“I think it`s gone,” Gerard whispered, sliding from my backside to his knees. The knee joint he had blown out in college cracked like a whip. I winced. He snarled and fell forward. My lungs emptied yet again. Usually I at least insist on completing five dates before I have this much male on my back.  The poor man moaned in pain while gyrating over me like a walrus coming ashore. It was kind of a turn-on until I began to grow loopy from lack of oxygen.


                “Air,” I gasped. He bounced on his good knee over my head. “Your camera is under my left boob,” I informed him breathlessly. I could barely see him. The dash lights weren`t bright enough to illuminate the back of the van. I felt the van rocking slightly as he dragged himself to the rear, favoring his bad knee I was sure.


                “I`m not getting the damn camera, Maggie, I`m looking for a weapon,” Gerard snapped. I sat up slowly. All that could be heard now was the sound of crickets as the engine idled. While Rambo searched for something to defend us with, I unzipped the large grey bag, lifted the Hitachi camera out, steadied it on my left shoulder and turned it on. A blinding light filled the van. Looking through the eyepiece I scanned the darkened passenger window.
                “This is Maggie Owens. We have just had our first sighting of the….”


                “What the hell are you doing?!” Gerard was in front of my lens wielding a plastic butter knife. A small tussle erupted over the camera. He won.  Darkness engulfed us once again. “Are you looking to end up as a late night Sasquatch snack?!”


                “Were you really going to assault that thing with a plastic knife?” I asked because inquiring minds wished to know. Hell, the knife had still had sour cream on it from our take-out steak dinner.


                “You`d rather I used the Spork?” he shot back. I know I said I was attracted to his wit and sharp mind, but sometimes I wondered why he couldn`t just be a pretty face with firm buttocks.


                “Just turn the camera on so we can document what just happened,” I hurried to try to fix my hair in the semi-darkness. The shoulder-length mess refused to leave my eyes. The back door of the news van flew open. Gerard tossed me behind him. I thought that was pretty chivalrous of the man, especially since he held the only two weapons we possessed: the knife and the camera. My hand landed on a take-out box. I found a utensil inside then brandished it before me like a Bowie knife. Several beams of light crisscrossed us. My Spork gleamed in the streams of flashlights.


                “You them folks from the big city news channel?” someone asked. I didn`t consider Running Falls, New York to be a big city but hey, what did I know? I was clutching a Spork like it was Johnny Depp.


                “Yeah,” Gerard coughed. I held a hand in front of my eyes to shield them from the brilliant rays of several Maglights. “You the welcoming committee?” he asked, his voice returning to normal.


                “Ayuh, guess we are,” a man drawled, his accent as thick as New England clam chowder, “Welcome to Foggy Creek.”






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See you next Tuesday with the next issue of ‘The Foggy Creek Hellhound’!






Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday Tales- Dog

Since it`s now October, a month for witches, ghouls, and ghosts, I thought I would begin a short series to cover the month. In all of my October Tuesday Tales, we`ll be reading about Maggie Owens, age 34, and Gerard Williams, age 26,who both work on the show ‘Paranormal Private Investigators’, Maggie as the host while Gerard runs the camera.

Maggie and Gerard have had one previous outing in an unpublished short story I wrote where we discovered both were quite attracted to each other. In that story the two had a run in with a ghost who had a fondness for rump fondling. Gerard asked Maggie out to dinner afterwards. She accepted. We`ll pick up with their first date. For those who are fans of Ares and Libby, never fear, they`ll return to star in the November editions of Tuesday Tales.

The word prompt for this week is ‘Dog’ so the story will reflect the prompt in some manner. As these are original stories written in a week, some errors may be found. I do apologize for those in advance. Try not to let them boggle you down though if possible.

Please do check out the other wonderful writers after you`re done reading by clicking on the Tuesday Tales link at the bottom. Thank you for stopping in!

The Foggy Creek Hellhound


          The Flagon and Ox Steak House in Running Falls, New York has the juiciest filet mignon in town. Tonight, it also has one of the juiciest looking men I`ve ever seen and he`s sitting right across from me. This is one of those times where you glance at the other women present, smile like a smug shark at them, and pat yourself on the back.

“Any particular reason you`re grinning at the blond in the black sweater?” that handsome man I mentioned asked. I jabbed at a cherry tomato in my salad to try to cover the gaffe.

“I thought I knew her,” I replied while chewing. Gerard gave me his ‘Uh-huh’ look then speared a slice of cucumber slathered with blue cheese.

“You smile like some demented hyena at every woman you know?”

“Nope, only the ones who get their breasts factory made,” I countered. That comment made the man turn around in his seat and check out the fake boobies. His dreads slithered over his wide shoulder. I reached out to touch the ebony ropes then stabbed myself with my fork. No fondling the cameraman’s hair in public Margaret.

“Damn,” Gerard muttered, returning to me and his salad, “She wants to be careful. Those things might block out her view of her dinner.”

I snorted rudely. He smiled. The small gold cross in his left earlobe glinted in the light of the stained-glass chandelier over our table. His teeth flashed white. My toes curled up tightly inside my flats.

“Bet they serve as a place for her to rest her beer bottle as well,” I snidely said. Gerard nearly choked on his crouton. I reached over to slap his back but he waved me away. Pity really. I wouldn`t have minded getting a feel of a former wide receiver for Pitt`s muscular back.

“You have a wicked mind, Maggie Owens,” the man coughed into his napkin. Dark brown eyes, now slightly watery but nonetheless sigh worthy, moved over me with appreciation.

“I know. My father tells me it’s a wonder he still has his seat in the senate the way my mouth runs,” I rolled another tiny tomato around in my bowl. “Did you hear that the big wigs loved the bit from Tuttlestun Manor? You have some dressing on your face.”

He dabbed and missed. I reached over and wiped at his face, my finger accidently-on-purpose sliding from the napkin to glide over freshly shaved chocolate skin.

“You didn`t spit on that finger did you?” Gerard asked. I wrinkled my nose. “My mother always does that. Why the hell do mother`s spit on themselves then wipe it on your face?”

“At least she doesn`t do it anymore, right?” It would seem rather odd to see a woman spit-cleaning a twenty-six year old man`s face. I refused to allow the thought about putting spit on any other part of my co-workers body to surface.

“Nah, she stopped in my sophomore year at Pitt,” he winked. “I`m glad someone enjoyed that footage. Personally, if I never get that close to a ghost with an ass fetish again I`ll be happy.”

“He did like your ass,” I giggled, ripping a breadstick in half. Gerard scowled and took the offered half gently.

“I hear it`s a fine ass,” he waggled a dark eyebrow and dipped his bread into the residual dressing in his salad bowl. A waiter rushed past carrying a tray.

“You ever plan on letting that go?”

“Not likely. If I recall, Ms. Owens, you not only complimented my ass up in New Hampshire, you also noted my guns and my killer smile.”

“Are all ex-jocks so full of themselves?” I glanced at the clock over the packed bar. “Did you know it`s been thirty minutes since we placed our order?”

“Relax,” Gerard cooed, leaning back in the stout wooden chair to sip his draft. “We`re having fun, right?” he asked over the foamy head of his ale.

“Well, yes, but that`s beside the point. Did they have to go out and slaughter the cow?” I leaned forward to summon our server. Gerard quickly leaned in. Our noses almost bumped. The inside of my thighs grew hot.

“You call that man over and I won`t kiss you goodnight,” he warned then wet his plump lips.

“Did you just make a girly come-hither move at me?” I asked, my mouth watering for another taste of his. It had been nearly a week since we returned from New Hampshire with what I called questionable footage of an apparition. Six days since he had kissed me last was six days too long. I had it bad. I openly admit it.

“It made you forget to bother the waiter,” he said. I could smell the Roquefort on his breath. I suddenly decided I love Roquefort. My cell began to vibrate beside my dinner plate. We both glowered at the phone. I reached for the Nokia. Gerard placed his large dark hand over my smaller pale one to stall me. “Maggie, don`t answer it.”

“What if it`s important?” I asked, my fingers vibrating beneath his. My reply didn`t seem to sway him. “Just let me see who it is. It might be my father,” I tacked on. The man exhaled. His hand left mine and he threw his considerable bulk back into his chair rather petulantly. I peeked at the caller ID. It wasn`t daddy. It was Eddie DeLong, the producer of our show Paranormal Private Investigators.

“Is it your dad?” Gerard asked his thick arms folded over a neatly pressed denim shirt. I must have made a face. His eyes rolled to the log timbers holding up the ceiling. “It`s Eddie, isn`t it? Son of a bitch! Give me that damn phone!” he made a quick grab for the Nokia. I was quicker though and plucked the shaking cell from the table.

“You can`t answer my cell!” I hissed, “I think we both know about that fraternization policy KBNY has.”

“I forgot to read that memo,” Gerard said, eying my hand over my head as if he were pondering making a leap over the table and wrestling me to the ground. The thought had merit but not in the middle of a steak house. Hopefully later some wrestling could occur….or possibly a robust round of naked Twister.

“I`ll send you another email,” I countered, hitting the speak button then placing the phone to my right ear. Gerard tossed his hands into the air then attacked another soft bread stick, ripping it apart with perfect white teeth. I made myself look at the blonde with the big boobs. “Eddie, what the hell do you want?” I snarled into the phone.

“Maggie, don`t get that pissy attitude with me. I just spent the night with my mother-in-law.”

I could picture Eddie pacing his office. He was like a weasel in many regards: Same slim build, same long face and beady eyes, same nervous energy, same nasty attitude when cornered.

“You have my condolences,” I muttered. I had met his wife and her mother at the office Christmas party last year. “In case you forgot I`m off the clock now.”

“Life`s a bitch then you marry one,” he chattered in my ear. “I just got a lead on a hot story. Something about this old legend of a hell dog up in Maine that the yokels have been seeing. This is hot, Maggie. It`s going to be trending, I can feel it. I want you and Gerard on this before anyone else beats us to the punch.”

I looked from the blonde to Gerard. He was chewing his breadstick angrily. I smiled. He stopped chewing and shook his head with sad resignation. I mouthed who it was. He wrinkled his wide nose as if he had just smelled something rotten, which describes Eddie DeLong pretty well. I have to give the weasel – I mean man – his due though. Eddie was the one who tugged me from a copy editing job that had been wasting the skills I had learned at Berkeley. If not for Eddie, I wouldn`t be hosting this show which means I wouldn`t have had the chance to work with Gerard. Gerard and I were proving ourselves, not only to the viewers who would tune in but also to the brass who had wanted to can the series after the original host had been let go. This chance was thanks to Eddie DeLong.

“Maine,” I mulled, leaning back to allow our steaks to be placed in front of us. “Did you find us a room?”

“Two, right in the heart of Foggy Creek. Now stop doing whatever it is you`re doing, find that hulkling you call a cameraman and get your asses up to Maine! Jesus H. Christmas, where the hell is my Mylanta?” he asked while severing the call.

I placed the phone down gently. The steak looked perfectly medium rare. The baked potato topped with sour cream and chives equally as intoxicating. I tossed a fast look at my dinner date. He was not amused. I ran my palms over my black skirt and then raised my hand to flag down the waiter to ask for two take-out containers.

“Just so you know,” Gerard grabbed another breadstick then shook it at me threateningly, “This dinner interruptus does not count as a completed date. You still owe me a steak dinner and a bottle of wine and I plan to collect.”

“You can eat in the van,” I said then tossed back my beer. “And if you`re good, and don`t bitch the whole way to Maine, maybe I`ll let you visit my room and we can have a nightcap.”

His look could have made cinderblock burst into flame. I blinked to cool off my sweaty eyeballs.

“Check!” Gerard shouted.


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See you next Tuesday for more of ‘The Foggy Creek Hellhound’!