Clementyne

[I wrote this a long, long time ago. I mean, before I was married I think.]

(c) 2016 Tara Moeller

[Somewhere out West, circa 1850.]

Clementyne hated Sundays in August. The heat swirled around her skirts on the walk to church, sticking hot, dry, scratchy fingers underneath to irritate her skin. No amount of talcum helped when she got home, it would just make her skin sting where it had chaffed.

Father Michael’s services always rang long, too, his voice bouncing from eardrum to eardrum, causing headaches aplenty. Since Clementyne played the organ for the service, she sat right up next to the priest, her ears in direct line of his firing speeches. She had no wish for a headache today. Her head had ached the last three days trying to teach the Gulliver twins how to play Bach. Today she wanted to just lie in bed beneath her cool white sheets, being lazy and loving it, forgetting all about the piano and organ and music.

So she did. She buried her head beneath the pillow to muffle the church bells ringing. She ignored the clatter of horses hooves beneath her window as the “gentry” rode to the church situated just outside of town. It was like a parade of sorts, the women in the fine fancy bonnets and the men in their funeral blacks. It was like every Sunday was Easter and time to show off the new finery.

Clementyne pretended to be sick. She moaned a little but ruined it with a giggle that she smothered beneath the sheet. The heat slowly seeped through the warped glass of her street-side window, and she decided to shed her nightgown. Still wanting to uphold the modesty her mother and father had all but beaten into her, she slipped it off under her covers, and slid it off the side of her bed. The sheets felt sinful against her naked flesh; the faint roughness passed over her breasts and her nipples hardened.

Carefully dragged the sheet over them once again, Clementyne enjoying the strange tightness. It was like a cold wind had blown up under her winter shift and cape. She sighed, throwing her arms over her head, allowing the tops of her breasts to show above the sheet. She stretched, languid, her muscles melting in the heat and soaking into the mattress beneath her.

Sinning was fun.

Clementyne thought of the rest of the town sitting on the hard wooden pews. Young Sheriff Jones, taut muscles stretching the cotton of his shirt with that badge shiny on his best vest, sitting in his sweat, listening to the drone of the Sunday Sermon. Old Mrs. O’Hoolihan filling in and playing the organ with her short arthritic fingers, deaf to whatever was being said; she loved to play but few loved to listen when she did. Then there was Paul Whitaker, whose father owned the General Store; he usually stared at Clementyne the whole service, licking his lips and shifting in his seat. Whenever she was in the General Store, his gaze rested on her chest and rose no farther.

It was mass Sunday, and everyone would have to confess his or her sins. Clementyne realized a small amount of pleasure in creating a sin to confess at the next mass.

She was dozing slightly, a mosquito buzzing lazily around her head, when she heard the door slam downstairs. She sat up in bed, forgetting her lack of nightgown for a moment, until she felt the heated breeze against her bare skin. She pulled the sheet up and huddled beneath it and the quilt just as Father Michael and Mrs. Winters burst into the room.

Clementyne sunk farther under the bedcovers, her eyes wide round balls of blue in a translucent white face.

“My child,” said the priest, leaning over her, “Are you ill?”

Clementyne pushed the sheet and quilt into her neck, feeling the heat rush to it and her face as the priest’s face got close to her – and to her naked body beneath the covers. Heat also flooded her loins at the thought of being discovered, a thrill coursing up her spine.

Mrs. Winters moved to stand next to the pastor, reaching out to place the back of her hand against Clementyne’s forehead.

“Mah Goodniss.” The woman exclaimed in her foreign southern drawl. “The chile is burnin’ up!”

The priest drew back suddenly, averting his face a little to the side.

Clementyne forced a cough, the bedclothes sliding just a little in the effort. She tried to draw them back up, but Mrs. Winters grabbed them and tried to pull them further down. Desperate to stay covered, Clementyne inched down in the bed.

“Chile, y’all ought to get some ayer on that there hot skin of yourn. It will help in gittin’ that fever down.” Mrs. Winters tugged even harder at the sheets.

Clementyne stared at the minister, who stared back at her chest, steadily being revealed by Mrs. Winters’ ceaseless tugging. She thought she would die of shame any minute. The priest didn’t move but continued to stare.

“Oh, oh p-p-please Mrs. W-Winters,” Clementyne stammered out her whispered plea. She drew in a long breath. “I’ve already tried to do that, beyond even the sheets.” She implored the older woman to understand, but Mrs. Winters kept up the tugging.

Father Michael’s eyes kept getting larger and larger, his Adam’s apple bobbing in his neck, synchronized with every tug from Mrs. Winters. The big black Bible in his hands, clasped to his chest when he entered, shifted lower, until it hovered just below his belt buckle.

Clementyne licked her lips and Father Michael’s apple bobbed hard. Clementyne swallowed and focused on Mrs. Winters, batting her eyes in what she knew was a “Southern” way; Sally Winters, Miss not the Mrs., had explained it all to her after last year’s Labor Day picnic. “Mrs. Winters,” she made her voice soft. “I’m really fine, you don’t have to worry about me. How did the choir do this morning?”

She wasn’t sure where the question had come from, other than the Good Lord himself put it into her head, but it was a miracle. Mrs. Winters stopped tugging. The choir was something about which Mrs. Winters loved to talk. It was a welcome distraction and Clementyne used the opportunity to pull the covers up.

“The choiah tried theih best to accompany Mrs. O’Hoolihan, but her playin’ is just not up to yourn. She forgot ta bring her eyeglass and was squintin’ ovah the music the whole service.” Mrs. Winters sat on the edge of the bed and arranged her skirts around herself. She looked like she was settling in to stay a spell.

Clementyne nodded. She wanted Mrs. Winters to talk all day as long as the priest was in her room, even if it meant listening to a lecture about the choir.

Father Michael leaned forward again, his eyes resting on the scalloped edge of the quilt. Clementyne could feel his eyes but refused to look at them. Somehow, she didn’t think purgatory could be as bad as this.

Mrs. Winters was off in full steam. Every off-note and wrong chord was regaled, accompanied by emphatic little jumps of her body. Clementyne realized that the older women was completely distracted and once again felt the pull in her groin, the thrill of sin that had first prompted her to stay in bed this morning. Twitching her lips slightly, she let the quilt and sheet fall slightly and leaned toward Mrs. Winters. Her cleavage, made buxom by the fold of quilt underneath, was an impressive display, and she noticed that Father Michael’s mouth fell ajar.

Power swelled in her breasts with every inhale. They seemed to puff higher and higher above the quilt. Father Michael’s neck grew longer and longer and he shuffled on his feet. Clementyne wondered if anything on him tightened the way her nipples had this morning. Just the thought had them doing it again.

Clementyne sighed, shifting beneath the blankets. She felt the heat once more between her legs.

Mrs. Winters sighed long and loud. “Ah do hope that y’all will be feelin’ bettah next Sunday, so’s the choiah will have a propah tuen to sing ta.” The older woman stood up, smoothing down imaginary wrinkles in her skirts.

“Uh.” Father Michael cleared his throat. “Yes. I also hope you will be feeling better next Sunday. We’ll let the rest of the congregation know you have a fever but are on the mend.”

He hastily backed out the door, Bible held at the juncture of his thighs, followed by the jovial Mrs. Winters calling out advice all the way down the stairs.

Clementyne rested back on her pillows, shifting her legs to relieve the pressure and the moisture gathering there.

Maybe she’d be ill next Sunday, too.

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Failure

The Kickstarter attempt to fund a new game (Awkward Compliments) developed by me and three friends did not meet its funding goal. It was far, far below what we needed to fund a short run print.  Even if we tried to fund a shorter print run (the smallest the printer allowed) we weren’t close.

We’ve been discussing what went wrong with our Kickstarter attempt.  Was it a problem with the game (beta testers loved it), the cost ($20.00), or a lack of engagement (maybe this one – but we sure tried).  From what gaming folks have said when we were finally able to ask, it’s just not the right time for card games. It would do much better if it was an app.

So we’re looking into that.

But for those who did support our initial effort–and really would like to get a physical copy, we’re working on a POD version.  It needs to be uploaded to a POD game site, and the price won’t be as low as what we were offering on the Kickstarter, but we are hopeful our backers won’t mind and will still want a copy.

And, we’ll be offering physical copies for sale at various conventions (Marscon and Ravencon in Williamsburg, Virginia in the Spring; Con of the Mountain this fall) and at other venues, like local gaming stores. So be on the lookout for Awkward Compliments available near you.  Or check out the website (http://www.awkwardcompliments.com) for links to the publisher.  We aim to be ready by this weekend.

And as always, why be suave when you can be awkward!

Be Our Guest

So I got some exciting news–or rather, an exciting invite.

I’ve been asked to be a guest (I had to apply, but that’s okay–I was accepted) at Ravencon17 next year. Ravencon is a sci-fi and fantasy convention held in Williamsburg, Virginia. (It moved from the Richmond area a couple of years ago.)

White Cat Publications will have my steampunk novel out by then (that’s the schedule if we can make it anyway), so I’m really excited about this opportunity. I need to sit on panels, but having sat in the audience for many, I think it will be fun.

So, if you’re going to be in Williamsburg in April next year, you might want to check out the con – and come and visit me!

Khan!!!!!

So, DreamPunk Press (http://www.dreampunkpress.com) was at Khan-con (http://www.khan-con.com) in Hillsville, Virginia over the weekend, displaying our books and demoing the game Awkward Compliments (http://bit.ly/AwkComp). It was a grand time. I met a  lot of great people, and reunited with some great folks from last year’s Khan-Con.

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Khan-Con is a small-town convention, and there is a part of me that hopes it stays that way. Not just because it means a cheaper table, but because it means folks can afford to attend.

I attend other conventions, and they are expensive just to get in the door (which is one reason I tend to stay close to home). And I understand, many of them have big names coming, and that means they can (and maybe have to) charge more.

But for small vendors (artists and authors going it alone and small publishers) that means the folks coming through the door have fewer dollars to spend on your stuff. There is a big difference between $5 per person and $50 per person.

So they want something for a buck, and if it cost a puck to print it, you make zilch.

I’ve heard the schtick: Offer your first item cheap (or free) and they’ll pay for your next one.

That doesn’t work. I’ve tried it. They just want more free.

So while I hope that Khan-Con gets bigger and better, I hope it never loses that small-town ethos, and stays affordable for vendors and attendees alike.

 

Short Story Time: One Second Chance

One Second Chance

Neil swallowed a hard lump in his throat, staring through the one-way mirror at the gurney in the small room on the other side. The hard plastic chair, cold beneath his legs, remained a harsh reminder of reality.

“Ready?”

The guard tapped the front leg of the chair with his toe, jarring Neil from his stupor to look up at him.

“Doesn’t matter if I ain’t, does it?”

“Suppose not. Want a cigarette?” The guard extended a slim white cylinder, pulling a lighter from his chest pocket.

Staring at the smoke, Neil thought about it. He’d quit the habit last year, but did it matter anymore? It was too late to die of lung cancer. But it held no lure this morning. It was just a cylinder of paper stuffed with weeds. “Naw. Let’s get this done.”

Standing, the shackles around his wrists and ankles heavy, Neil shuffled toward the door to the room.

“Sure there’s nothing you want? Last chance.”

“Can I speak to Marisa or the kids?”

The guard sighed, long and gusty. “They don’t want to talk to you.”

Neil nodded and let his head drop so his chin bumped his chest. The judge had let him write a letter to the wife of his once best friend. He’d taken a long time to write that letter, making sure the words were neat and the paper crisp. He’d gotten a single page back, angry red letters sprawled across it: HELL NO I DON’T FORGIVE YOU.

He’d gotten similar responses from Ric’s kids, now grown themselves.

The small room, the walls a dull white tile, was cold and he shivered.

“Need a sweater?” The guard paused at the door.

“Naw.” Neil just wanted this done and over. He’d been on death row for ten years and a bit. And now, these last minutes were taking forever.

A man in a lab coat entered, eyes downcast, a large metal briefcase handle grasped tight in his left hand. He threw the case on a small metal table and stood behind it, waiting, eyes fixed on the case.

Through the open door, Neil heard the shuffle of feet, and knew that the observers – including Marisa and Ric’s eldest son – were filing in to take their places in those plastic chairs. He didn’t look at the window, mirrored on this side. He couldn’t see them, and didn’t want to give them the satisfaction that he knew they were there.

Something thudded against the window, and the guard sprinted to the door, pulling it closed, but not before the shout of another guard was heard and someone was escorted out of the room.

Neil imagined it was Marisa. She blamed him for Ric’s death – for the slaughter of her innocent husband. He’d never been able to convince anyone that Ric hadn’t been so innocent. It didn’t matter no more.

“Sorry ’bout that.” The guard backed away from the door. “Your lawyer should be here, soon. He asked to be here.”

“We don’t need to wait.” He was getting anxious, bile rising up his throat, trying to choke him.

“He put in a last minute appeal.”

“It ain’t gonna get approved.” Neil had seen the papers. He knew that Marisa had been lobbying for his death, had been a vigilante in her own way. If she had a gun, she’d probably blast him away right then. Maybe that would be a better way to go – quick and violent, like Ric.

The digital clock on the wall switched a number and the man in the lab coat opened the case on the table. “Go ahead and get comfortable.”

Neil held out his wrists to the guard and the man unlocked them. When he sat on the edge of the gurney, the guard stooped to do the same at his ankles. For a split second, Neil thought about running for the door. He’d never make it out, but maybe the guard would shoot and it would all be over.

Looking at the kind face, pinkened from stooping, he couldn’t though. They’d talked earlier, and he liked this guard. The man had made sure he got all of the last breakfast he’d requested, right down to the steak and eggs and jalapenos and maple syrup.

He was a good guy, and he didn’t deserve to have a man’s death on his soul. He may have had to before, may already have one or two weighing on him. He didn’t need more, even if it was justified and forgivable.

That weight was heavy, Neil knew. Heavier than anything else a soul would ever have to bear, except maybe the knowledge that you took that life while the man’s kid watched.

Lying back on the gurney, Neil stared up at the ceiling, keeping his sight away from the glare of the lamp. He didn’t want to die blind. He wanted to see it coming.

He felt bad for the man that would insert the needle, too, and figured that’s why he wouldn’t look at him. If he didn’t see it, it wasn’t real. He wondered how many times the guy had done this? Did it make it better that it was an injection and not a bullet? That it was ordered by a judge and not an angry moment?

The door burst open and for a quarter of a heart beat Neil though Jack had been successful and the appeal had been signed. But no – he could tell by the pale skin, the tight lips. Nothing had changed.

He shifted his gaze back to the ceiling.

“I’m sorry.” The man in the lab coat touched his left wrist. “My name is Matt, and this may sting a little going in.”

The man’s eyes were dark and wet.

So, it wasn’t easier when it was an injection.

“No prob, man. No prob.”

The man nodded and rustled through his equipment.

“Sorry, Neil. I couldn’t convince the judge. Not even a stay.” The lawyer’s voice cracked and echoed in the room.

“S’okay. Thanks for trying one last time.”

“Anything you want me to do? You know, after?”

“Yeah, just-” he wanted to tell Marisa he was sorry, really sorry, but that wouldn’t take coming from Jack. His letter hadn’t worked, why would the words coming from someone else’s mouth?

So, what did he want? He’d spoken to his mother yesterday by phone, the connection scratchy over the distance, convincing her not to come out for this. He didn’t want her hurt anymore by something Marisa would say. He’d hurt her enough already.

“Tell my mom I love her.”

“Sure, man. Sure.” Jack shifted back when the guard put a hand on his shoulder.

It was time to get strapped in.

There was a wide strap for his torso, smaller ones for his thighs, and then even smaller ones yet for his wrists and ankles. The cold of metal clasps touched his skin like a flame.

“Do you need a blanket?” It was Matt, his hands shoved deep into the pockets of the lab coat. He looked like he’d do anything to delay the inevitable.

“Nah.” Neil shifted under the straps.

“Too tight?” It was the guard. “I can loosen them just a bit.”

Neil shook his head again. His throat closed up, making speech impossible. Why hadn’t folks been this nice when he was young? Not just to him, but to Ric, too. Maybe then, they wouldn’t have joined that gang, tried to run drugs, and gotten in a bind.

“Okay, then.” Matt placed a warm palm over his forearm and squeezed. Then slid the tubing around his upper arm, knotted and tightened it. The vein bulged in his inner elbow. “Here we go.”

“Say a prayer for me?” Neil forced the words out, though no one might be able to understand their garbled sense. “Please, ask God to forgive me?”

He said his own quick prayer, an abbreviated version of the one he’d said every night before closing his eyes to sleep: Please forgive me and help me. Amen.

The pin prick did sting – a lot. The liquid burned going in. But then his eyes watered and the light above his head swam in a circle.

Neil O’Malley closed his eyes and died. The official time of death: 10:07 a.m., Tuesday, January 5, 2015.

 

A clock flashed the time: 10:06. The numbers were blue that shifted to green, then purple. Neil stood, staring, waiting for that 6 to flip to 7.

It didn’t. The time stayed at 10:06.

“They say there’s no going back.”

Whirling, Neil stared at the figure behind him. “Ric?”

“Hey, bro. Whassup?” The tall man held out a hand for a low five.

On automatic, Neil slapped the hand, holding up the other for the ritual high five, which Ric gave him with a slow grin.

“What the hell?”

Ric snickered. “Not hell, man, not hell.”

Neil nodded and stared. “I’m sorry.”

“I know.” Ric cocked his head to the side and stared. “Would you change it if you could?”

“Hell – heck, yeah.”

“Do you really mean that?”

“Of course.”

“We’ll see.”

And everything went black.

The air was humid, like after a rain, but it wasn’t clean. Neil could smell gasoline and rotting fish. There was a gun in his hand, his gun; he recognized the feel of the Glock against his palm. He’d thrown it in the bay after shooting Ric. How was it back?

“Hey, you here or not?” Ric hissed in his ear and Neil jumped.

What the hell?

Blinking, Neil glanced around. The rusty hulls of cargo containers, the moldy brick walls of the warehouses.

He was back at the night he shot Ric.

“Come on, man. We gotta hurry. Sean’s back in the car. I don’t like leaving him alone like that.”

Neil swallowed hard. “Maybe we should go back. Forget all about this.”

“Naw, man. This is it. We get the stuff, sell it, and we’re good as gold.”

“I got a bad feeling, Ric.”

“Don’t chicken out on me now, Neil. We are in this together, man. I’m tired of your whiny complaining all the time.”

“Man, this is wrong.” Neil grabbed Ric’s arm, spinning him around. “You know it.”

“What I know is you agreed to help me for a cut. So help.” Ric snatched his arm away and crouched to listen, his own gun tucked in the waistband of his loose jeans. “Put some swagger on and let’s do this.”

They were supposed to meet the man with the goods at his boat, a small river tug moored next to a French tanker. They weren’t supposed to have weapons, but Ric had insisted they pack. It was just too dangerous not to.

“Are you sure this is the right pier?” Neil followed, his voice harsh in the dark.

“‘course I’m sure. I got the directions from Marco.” Ric led the way, standing tall, his gait a long lanky swivel of hips.

Neil didn’t trust Marco, but the man was a long-time friend of Ric’s from the neighborhood. Ric vouched for him. So Neil went along.

The gun felt wrong. An uncomfortable appendage that didn’t belong.

“Ric-”

“Who’z there?” Someone called from a hidden corner.

“Friends of Marco. Come to make pickup for him.”

“Friends of Marco, huh?”

“Yeah.” Ric put his hand on his gun but didn’t pull it out.

“You bring the money?”

Ric shifted. “What money?” His voice cracked.

“Marco owes me money. Didn’t he tell you? He shafted me on his last purchase.”

“He didn’t tell me that. Just asked me to pick up for him.” Ric pulled his gun out, his hand shaking.

Neil swallowed. “Man, let’s book.” His whisper was louder than intended.

“Aw, you wanna leave the party?” Another voice stepped into the alley between the warehouses, a semi-automatic held at an angle across his chest. His clothing was dark, darker than the shadows, and Neil couldn’t make out anything but a towering menacing figure.

“We made a mistake trusting Marco.” Neil raised his voice. His own gun wavered in his hand.

“Oh, you made a mistake all right.” The man pointed his weapon at him. “I need a payment, and I’ll take it any way I can.” He jerked the weapon. “Face each other.”

“What?” Ric pointed his gun at the man.

The man laughed and aimed the semi at Ric. “Don’t think that will scare me, boy. I got me a fancy vest. Do you have a fancy vest?”

Neil shook and may have pissed in his pants a little. Neither of them was getting out alive. This man was going to shoot them where they stood; they didn’t have a chance in hell of making it home.

“Dad?” The quavering voice from behind them made all three men freeze.

“Git back in the car, Sean.” Ric’s voice shattered.

“But, Dad? What’s going on?”

“Git back in the car!”

There was a skitter of feet, but only for a few yards. Sean did not make it all the way back to the car.

“Got him, boss.” Another voice, another dark shadow.

Shit. Neil’s stomach plummeted. What the hell now?

“Let the kid go, man.” Ric lowered his gun. “Please, just let him go.”

“Oh, I need a favor for that. One good turn deserves another, yeah?” The man with the semi took a step forward, a slant of lamplight slicing across his weapon.

“Yeah, sure.” Ric’s nod was violent.

“Shoot your friend.” The man jerked the barrel at Neil.

“What?”

“I said shoot him, straight through his heart. Do that, and I’ll let the kid go, unharmed.”

“Naw, man. You must be kidding.” The crack in Ric’s voice just made the man laugh.

“One of you will shoot the other. If you don’t, the kid will die.” The man laughed, loud and sharp. “And it won’t be quick.”

Ric turned to Neil, raising his gun to shoulder height. “I’m sorry, man, I’m sorry.”

“S’okay, Ric. Do it. Go ahead.”

Ric closed his eyes and fired. One second after, Neil shifted, and the bullet whizzed past, its wind kissing his cheek in passing. It careened by, slamming into the wall, spraying brick dust and tiny shards of hardened clay.

Damn.

“Only one bullet at a time. Makes it hard when you’re nervous.” The man with the semi took another step forward. “Okay, friend. Now it’s your turn.”

From behind, Sean squealed, the sound high and terrified.

“Better hurry, Mick likes little boys.”

Trembling, Neil raised the Glock, aiming the barrel at Ric.

Ric nodded and lowered his own gun.

Neil fired.

Ric fell, a deep red stain spreading across his chest.

Someone yelled and cursed from behind, and sneakers slammed against the wet ground. For a second, Neil saw Sean, his nine-year-old eyes wide, blood trickling from a cut on his lip. Then, in an instant, the child turned and sprinted away, screaming.

“Aw, hell. Looks like the fun’s all over.” The man with the semi shuffled back, keeping his gun up and trained on Neil. “Say hi to the feds for me. Oh, and let Marco know he still owes me the cash.”

And the men were gone, fading into the shadows like they never were. Sirens rent the air, piercing Neil’s ear drums. He winced, sniffing. He swiped an arm over his nose and tip toed toward his friend.

“Ric?”

There was no response.

“Ric? You okay, man?”

Still no sound, no movement. He’d aimed for his shoulder, but he’d never been that great a shot.

“Aw, fuck, man.” Neil dropped to his knees next to his friend’s body, finger tracing the growing stain, pressing his palm over the wound. “No, no, no.”

He stared at the Glock in his shaking hand. Standing, he squinted in the distance and hurled it away. A few seconds later, the faint splash of it hitting the water reached him between siren wails.

When the police arrived, their own weapons, drawn, Neil stood over Ric’s body, tears coursing down his cheeks, blood dripping from his hands.

 

“I thought you were gonna to do it different this time?”

“I tried.” Neil’s whisper was more air than sound. He watched the police cuff him and drag him off. Watched Sean, tears mixing with blood, point at him and bury his face in a blanket. Watched the EMTs load Ric’s body into the back of a silent ambulance.

“Yeah. You almost got in front of my bullet. I saw that.”

“Can I try again? I’ll be faster this time. I swear.”

“Naw, man. You only get one second chance.”

Neil nodded.

“‘course, we’ve seen what we needed to see.”

Neil pulled his head up, but it was hard. It was leaden, and it was like he was moving it though something solid.

“We?”

Ric jerked his head and other figures appeared beside him. “You know, ‘we’.”

“No, I don’t.”

“They’ve heard your prayers, Neil. And now, they’re answering them.”

“Answering?” Neil blinked. What was Ric talking about? How could these figures answer his prayer? “I do need an answer, though.”

“Oh?” Ric smiled. “To what question?”

“Do you forgive me?”

“Man, I forgave you when you did it. I shot first, remember? I forgave you the instant Sean walked away. Don’t ever doubt that, Neil.” Ric stepped forward and clamped a hand on his shoulder, gently shaking his friend. “Do you forgive me?”

“What?” Neil squinted up. There was a palpable light all around his friend’s face, glowing, making it hard to focus. But Ric was still the same as in his memory, tall and solid, his skin and hair dark. He latched on, like he was an anchor, grabbing that arm, his fingers gripping tight.

“Do you forgive me for getting you into that mess?”

“Of course. I know you were desperate for money. You trusted Marco.”

“I should have listened to you.”

Neil shrugged. “It’s all done now.”

“Yeah. All done.”

The blinking clock numbers changed: 10:07.

“Come on, the Big Man wants to see you. He might even show you around.”

“Show me around? Around where?”

“Well, we ain’t in hell man. You made sure we ain’t in hell.”

Playing Games

Ever thought of a good idea for a game?  Well, I did.  Or rather, a group of folks I met at a con (and became great friends with) and I did. We had so much fun, we decided to actually make a game.

What starving writers will do for a buck and change.

I thought it would be easy.  It was easy at the con- we made awkward compliments (to ourselves of course 😉 ) about the folks we saw, in character cosplay. And they were compliments – awkward because of where we were and what was going on.

But when we started putting it on paper… well, group dynamics came in, my prudish sensibilities rose up, and there was a lot of compromise.

And now, the fruit of our labor and fighting is on Kickstarter.

Short link:  http://bit.ly/AwkComp.

And of course, there’s more to it than just making a Kickstarter page. To be honest, this post is part of that “more.” Facebook posts, tweets, tumblr posts, you name it and one of us is trying to do it. Hopefully, with some success.

So if you’re bored and have five minutes, check out the game (and back it if you like what you see). We also have a page on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/awkwardcompliments/, and we’re on the World Wide Web, http://www.awkwardcompliments.com/. On twitter, we’re @awkwardcardgame, so please follow us there, too.

After all, what else is a starving writer to do?

 

 

Political Haiku

So, I got a little bit of writer’s block and tried my hand at writing haiku to get the creative juices flowing again.  Not sure why I wound up with a political theme, but that;s what happened.  Two, I think, are worth sharing, or at least not so bad as to hide under the rug and deny them for all eternity.

An American Election

politicians pose
media laps it up like milk
public pays the price

 

November (an Aftermath)

commit a crime here
i dare you, dare you, dare you
no one cares anyway

 

Let me know what you think.

(P.S. the lack of punctuation and capitalization is on purpose.  Just thought I’d mention, as it would drive me nuts if I read it and wasn’t sure.)

Catch Up

So, this is awkward. It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Lots of things have been happening, like a short story  published in an anthology (under my pen name E. G. Gaddess, in Airships and Automatons), and another short story (as Tara Moeller) accepted for another and that should be published soon (more details to follow).

I’ve also had a manuscript accepted by White Cat Publications, the publisher that put out Airships and Automatons, and that is really exciting. (Validation!)  We’re aiming at April 2017 for publication.

So. I’ve been busy.

But I still should have been here, at least part of the time.

And I feel bad about that.

So I want to think, er, write, a little about why that is.  That I feel bad about not being here when so much has been going on elsewhere.

Maybe I shouldn’t feel bad, but I think I’m supposed to. After all, this blog was a commitment to write every week. About something.  Maybe a poem or a short story, or just something about how my writing has been going.

See, my daily writing went by-the-by, too, because I now have a 6 hours round trip commute between my family and my work.  When I took this new job, I didn’t think that would be so bad. I’d have no distractions during the weeknight so I could write (um, didn’t exactly happen that way) and my husband figured he could get into his garage every evening (um, that didn’t work out either).

That time in my car is EXHAUSTING!  Really.  And it’s sliding into my writing. Those two days I commute, I don’t get to write. And that affects the other days when I can – or at least have the time. I’m a bit out of my groove, so to speak, or write.

And I have other projects to share; exciting ones, that will have to wait for me tell you about them.

But I will. I promise.

Writing Retreat

So, I went to a creative writing retreat in Luray, VA with my daughter, who is also a writer. It was her first experience at a retreat; I’ve been to a few before, but not like this.

I’m used to a retreat that focused on the writing – but this one didn’t. It was called a creative retreat, and boy was it. It was about crafting and art – using another art to spur on your writing.

Our hostess was a published author who was also a scrap-booker – and that is what I did – well, sort of. Using scrap-booking techniques, I made pages for my characters. I wanted to focus on the dad in a manuscript I’m working on as he was giving me trouble, but I practiced on the characters I thought I knew.

Yup – the ones I thought I knew.

This process showed me things I didn’t know about those characters (Cat likes blue and the ocean), and after I knew more about them, I was able to work on the dad’s page, and boy did I learn about him.  I cut stuff from magazines that spoke to him, and found out he was brown.

Yes – brown.

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This turned out to be very important.  I also found that he likes old stuff, because he grew up with his grandparents who were poor and they died with very little to show for their lives.  And that is a big motivator for him and a big source of the conflict with his daughter.

You’ll have to read the book when I publish it to find out about the teddy bear.  🙂

Now, back at home, I’m another few thousand words back into the manuscript, having deeper knowledge of all of my characters.

I am very happy to have found one more way to learn about my characters.  You should try it, too.