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Monday, February 1, 2016

Inspired by Darkness

We have been binge watching “Nurse Jackie” and the process has been illuminating. Between us, we’ve known several addicts (from the functional, like Jackie, to the dragged out, street-living junkies).

The addicts were not always the artists and musicians; there was plenty of upwardly mobile, educated professionals doing some industrial type of crap (coke, heroin), and managing to fool the many. It’s easy to do this if you can maintain the habit. It’s depressingly easy to manage, if you can afford it.

It’s never pretty and it is never fun. It can be funny, but only if you are watching from a safe distance and are not involved, at all.

There is nothing new in the series about addiction and addicts, but I did have a revelation about someone that crossed my path not long ago.

I do not know this person to be a substance abuser; but it occurred to me that their drug is deception...

I know it sounds ridiculous, but follow my logic. It seems to me this person experiences a high every time they tell a lie. Except they are not outright lies. They are half-truths and innuendo. It’s telling enough details of a thing and letting others take it to its logical conclusion without ever having actually said the thing itself and yet, making it true in context.

Built-in plausible deniability: it’s evil genius!

This person once “confided” that they were stunted socially because they were surrounded by people whose background exceeded their own somewhat inferior origin story.

To compensate, this person picked people that could be manipulated easily – emotionally damaged, broken people, those who were uncertain and insecure.

But the point was never to be smarter but just cleverer. The goal was to be sly.

I don’t see the value, but then I have never been an addict. I’m the woman who decided, after years of smoking, that it was too expensive and I didn’t need to keep spending money on the habit, and I just stopped. Same with drinking.

I just stopped. No anxiety, no yearning, no nothing. There is nothing that I “need” quite that badly. I love caffeine and chocolate, but even these I can live without. (I mean, seriously, who would want to do that?! But I have gone long periods without and it did not kill me.)

I understand the physiology and psychology of addiction, even if I am fortunate not to be under its claws. It is a sort of ogre that looms over a soul that depletes its own humanity for just another high.

Junkies have a pathological excuse. The Deceiver makes a conscious choice that is as easily avoided by not trying to get over on fellow human beings. There is no reward to the behavior!

Almost makes junkies sympathetic by comparison. But then, even “Dexter” was sympathetic in some ways, and he was a serial killer.

Hark! Inspiration’s muffled screams have reached the surface. I think I have disturbing stories to write in my down time. Hail the anti-hero! (Or is it kill the anti-hero?)

So, whatta think, too dark? 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Do Writer's Get Snow Days?

There is a raging snowstorm coming down and the only sounds I hear are the tapping on my keyboard and the wind hitting the skylight over my hall closet. It literally howls and if you stand against the wall outside the closet, it sounds as if infernal creatures (and very large ones) are rearranging furniture on our roof.

Every once in a while, a plow will go by (on the elevated highway or  about 100 feet away clearing one or the other avenue, both major thoroughfares).

We have these chic wooden blinds on the window, and even closed I see the whiteout conditions on the other side, there’s a curtain of snow falling almost horizontally because of the wind.

The few cars that were coming and going earlier are gone and traffic has trickled to nothing. Sometimes a squad car or some other emergency vehicle will go by, above on the highway or below it. If their lights are flashing, you may see the movement from our windows.

It is quiet and peaceful, and it is warm and cozy in our place.

People pay good money to experience these conditions!

I’ve heard and read of writers that dream of hiding out in a little cabin in the woods, in a snowy place, away from everything – just to write.

The snow, the cold, the wind, the warmth of the hearth, all these things are designed to invite the writer to write…

But there is something hypnotic about watching snow fall, listening to the wind howl, getting under a thick blanket and getting your feet warm or fantasize about the dream you had the other night that reintroduced a character to your waking hours.

I could write about the isolation, cabin fever, angels falling to blanket us with love. I could wait a little bit and write about the frolicking kids (it will happen). Instead, I choose to go somewhere between aprés-skiing and hibernating, with occasional breaks to work on a remote project, take videos documenting the snow accumulation for friends who rarely see the stuff, and writing about not writing. I'll cook, make some ice cream, maybe a cake, stay in as I always do.

I know I need to write something, but I want a snow day! Don’t writers get a snow days?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Takes Two to Tango

We found ourselves with no Internet the last couple of days of 2015 and a better part of the first week of this year. At first, I was unhappy that I’d miss so much, but I readjusted to a Luddite existence quickly.

On the one hand, I missed the instant access I have to my friends across the globe (and I mean actual friends with whom I have ongoing relationships). On the other hand, there was an easy-going, peaceful aura about everything.

We lost the ability to stream and were suddenly stuck with bad TV we'd seen eons ago!—but even this was a source of giddiness and we laughed a lot.

I took the opportunity to do a little reading but I did no writing. I also did not edit or reread any of the stories going into the next collection, He Done Her Wrong. I was in a fairly festive mood and did not want to give any more thought to infidelities or its aftermath.

Get your copy at Amazon, if you haven't yet!

In the next couple of weeks, I will return to the beat and have an interview to set up that will give me unprecedented access to the aftermath of an affair by a willing participant (willing to become part of my research, I mean).

Her first-hand experiences will serve as lynchpins to a story I wanted to write. The story itself may not belong in the next volume, but I am interested in a different perspective and it suggests not only this but a series of stories with a skewed perspective.

Is skewed the word I necessarily mean, though?

For a gallery of Fabián Pérez's beautiful work, visit 

It worries me, suddenly, whether I have been properly neutral in my portrayals or if I have allowed judgement to affect the storytelling. Judgement changes it. Judging makes it propaganda and that was never the point.

That some of the stories should have a distinct focus is one thing, but to participate in moral favoritism is just boring, and a little dangerous. It’s also uninspired and obnoxious. Storytelling should be more flexible or else it’ll miss the poetry of a moment.

Judgement belongs to (and rests with) the reader and, you could try to influence her, but if you use a sledge hammer to drive a point that matters to you because you feel it is the ultimate truth, then you need to be a preacher not a storyteller.

Then again, if you choose to preach, then you must live the word or forever be a hypocrite.

I am perfectly happy with stories that have no moral center and no message. I am happy to tell a story simply because there might be an instant that captures pure magic--even if there is no transformation beyond capturing the instant and letting it die in the tongue, the mind’s eye, or your gut.

Coming up, there might be a story or two where the protagonist is the one who perpetuates the infidelity and survives the moment to tell their story—whether defiantly or in penance. I’d like to affect the push/pull of a good tango but with words, that’s the skewed delivery of words I am chasing in my head. After all, it does take two to tango!

That’s the plan, anyway. What are your reading/writing plans for the New Year?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

When Daddy Lies About Cheating

“You lied.”
Two simple little words that carry so much weight 
when spoken from a broken heart. 

In “The Legacy,” one of the short stories in Sins of the Father, Angie confronts her dad about an incident of adultery.

He lied. She knows he lied and she states it simply. It takes some decision-making, but she finally confronts him. But how often does that happen? It's not an easy choice for Angie, but I know self-assured women who probably would never dream of it!

I remember a friend of mine telling me that her dying father had said he really needed to tell her something, and she kept putting him off because there was a certain air of finality to it that was breaking her.

He insisted and told her that he needed to tell her something before he died.

Not a man given to true confessions, she tried to come up with the worst-case scenario, and the only thing she could think of was that he was going to admit to an affair. He was also not likely to cheat, but it was the worst thing she could imagine.

And as much as she loved her father, she was ready to tell him off (if it was about an infidelity), but she also couldn't even bring herself to say it out loud. I think most women would probably find themselves inside that maddening dilemma. 

It turned out to be something serendipitous but sweet (it’s not really my story to tell). Ultimately, it was a secret kept but its omission was no sin.

Catching a parent in a lie, and knowing that it points to a larger deception is a horrible burden to put on a child, made only more horrendous as the child matures. Understanding the nature of relationships, commitment, love and the honesty and trust required to maintain it all is crushing because it is also a constant reminder that one parent did not keep their end of the deal towards the other.

While there are support groups for adult children of alcoholics and adult children of divorce, there is no single therapeutic group for adult children of adultery. Though they experience a lot of the same emotional turmoil, I think the shame is so personal and so damaging to the core that many probably would rather not share it.

And seriously, isn't growing up hard enough without the added knowledge of a parent's infidelity, and its implications (many misguided as they are left undiscussed)? It's worse for kids who know the other parent is aware of the deception and accepts it without making their partner account for their dishonesty, I think. 

Certainly many carry their torment through a lifetime of failed relationships. Some, though, like Angie in “The Legacy,” get to look the culprit in the eye and say what she’d wanted to say since she was twelve, “You lied.”

Of course, Sins of the Father  is available at Amazon and other online retailers (visit the Facebook page for The Mistress for more links!).

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Triggering Nostalgia

One of the stories in Sins of the Father is about a woman’s relationship with a recurring boyfriend. He came and went from her life for years, and they maintained a relatively amicable relationship despite the recurring breakups.

His plan included booty calls into their late 80s.

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But nothing lasts forever. The relationship did not end for the obvious reasons, though…

Another story tries to tie in to current events – especially because the whole Ashley Madison hack amused me. Granted, I’ll say it again: doxing is wrong and I cannot endorse it. But at the same time, I can’t feel any sympathy for people who sought a service to help them cheat on their partners.

But then, that was not the focus of the story. I touched on something that I find troubling and hope that I did not contribute to the problem. I keep seeing stories where the female characters are victimized and they act as if that kind of thing is both normal and acceptable. Nobody ever leaves, fights back, falls apart under the weight of the horror, or goes to the police. More importantly, there are never any consequences to the behavior. That’s a little one dimensional, I think. I tried to break out of that mold.

Another story speaks of a woman facing her husband’s infidelity and, literally, staring it in the face daily for years. There is the remembrance of adultery when the heroine was a small child, and then from another character in her tween years. Another character faces the cheater in his deathbed.

I told an old friend that I inter-mingled truth and fiction in these stories and she is dying to try to decipher which is which. But for those people who may not know me as well, I wonder which character will bring them memories of their own.

I’m not saying that you must have had a firsthand experience with infidelity to get these stories. Knowing someone who knew someone will do, but mostly what I think people will respond is to a specific moment in time.
If any of my stories strike a match in the dark attic of your mind and you find yourself riding a wave of nostalgia because I triggered a memory of your own stories, then my job is done!
And this is precisely why I love vignettes. In the end, those little scenes that come to you and measure the value of your days in your heart, those are vignettes. I want to start liberating those for you, so you can chase more of them.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Please Buy Sins of the Father

This is the cover of the paperback: coming this weekend!

Sins of the Father is finally done! Sins drops on Black Friday: of course, of course!

Kindle Stores have the e-book (internationally), as well as Smashwords. Kobo, iBooks, Nook and other e-book retailers will get the book later this weekend. CreateSpace and Amazon will carry the paperback edition.

Sins of the Father includes stories about how the infidelities of father figures affect the children in their lives. Some stories have funny moments, some have tragic moments, some stories have horrific details that will shock you.

Some events in this collection of stories are based on real life.

The scenes of atrocity and names of the guilty have been changed to protect the disenchanted so that they may continue on their bloody trail until fully healed (who knows if that's even a thing!?). Although I left a few details that may get a few feathers ruffled...

For the record: there are good men in this world – men who are committed, loving, and ethical. These stories are not about those men.

If you buy a copy and read it, I'd appreciate a review.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Sins of the Father is Coming!

There appears to be a blog post missing here, but I did not save it… At any rate, I have less than a week to finish my book!

There is one more story to go and it is being a little prickly.

As it turns out, the first volume of stories skews towards a particular theme that I had not seen emerge. Freudian? Not really, there are other stories, but these were easier to finish and edit.

The result is this:

There are a few funny moments. Some witty bantering… There are a number of heartbreaking moments in these stories. Some based on true stories.

There are five stories ready (and if the sixth does not work, they are meaty enough to hold their own). In one story, a daughter gets to confront her father after years of holding in her anger. In another story, a woman remembers a postcard moment from her childhood and puts a little perspective on it. A third story speaks of the fears of a woman for her child turning out like a father she misjudged. There’s the story of a woman whose father figure had a secret or two. Another story is about an adoptee coming into herself. The sixth story will be a little different (if I can make it work). 

Additionally, I am trying to finish a special gift for folks who buy the e-book… 

OMG! Do I have time to do this? I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo this year knowing I would not able to do it justice, but now I have a *massive* deadline looming over my head.

No time to play: I have wrongs to write!