Miscellaneous Writings and Musings


A genie and her rock band

(Novel and Short Stories)

Steal Tomorrow

Steal Tomorrow
Murder, Mystery, First Love, and the End of the World

(Novel and Short Stories)

My Books and Stories

My Books and Stories
Where to Buy, Read, Download

Flash Fiction: Street, Santa Fe

I have a new story posted at Three Word Wednesday. It's actually an old story, written after a trip to Santa Fe, but it's new to all of you, so go enjoy! Street, Santa Fe

Fiction: A Draw of the Cards

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a little longer than my usual Three Word Wednesday fare, and it went in a direction I didn't anticipate. Be sure to drop by Three Word Wednesday for more fun.

Gerald shuffled the deck, cut it twice, and flipped over the top card. In neat ball-point above the spades was the name, "Penny." Gerald tried to remember who she was, but had only a vague impression of a frowsy-haired woman in suite 412, crunching numbers with those other humorless ladies in Budget. He considered putting the card back and trying again. Maybe he would draw Kari in Accounts Payable, his selection for the week of June 12, who always returned his advances with a giggle.

Gerald's game had rules, though. Desperate to alleviate the boredom of his job, he selected a new romantic interest each week. As the only straight man on his floor, it was a way to keep things lively. So what if it was contrived - a woman chosen at random from his cards?

He slipped Penny's card back in the deck and opened the desk drawer where he kept a stash of small gifts so he could pander to all tastes: chocolates for the chubby girls who couldn't stay away from sweets, pens and note pads for the down-to-earth types, and herbal tea for the sporty health-conscious women who brought salads to work and stashed running shoes under their desks.

What would Penny like? Gerald tried again to remember something about her, but came up empty. Luckily he had a backup plan for times like this.

Ten minutes later, he stood outside her cubicle, gazing at the flicker of the computer screen and Penny's cloud of taffy hair. Her fingers flew across the ten-key pad and she muttered numbers under her breath.

Gerald cleared his throat, and Penny turned and gazed at him with serious gray eyes. Before she could speak, Gerald drew the rose from behind his back. "I grew this in my garden." Actually, he had stolen it from one of the manicured rose bushes in front of the office building. "The loveliest rose in the Budget Office ought to have it."

He held his breath. Penny's reaction would set the tone for the rest of his week. If she was a cynical sort, she would look at him as if he were mad. He would give her office supplies from here forward and pretend to seek her advice on business matters. If she was the flirtatious type, she would laugh and respond with something witty, and he could count on a week of clever banter until he drew next Monday's card and moved on.

Penny took the rose reverently. "No one's ever done this before."

"The first of many, I hope."

Penny cast her eyes down and fell silent. Gerald, flustered, said he'd see her around and escaped to his office.

For the rest of the morning, he wondered what Penny's reaction meant, and what kind of woman she was. Her cubicle decorations, which often said volumes about a person, were unmemorable, and all that came to mind was a confused jumble of frilly things and pictures of doe-eyed kittens.

He went to lunch in a pensive mood, but didn't forget to bring back a deli cookie for Penny. When he got to his office, he found a shiny new coffee cup on his desk, tied with a red satin bow. Surely this couldn't be from Penny. More likely it was from Roxanne, the laughing, raven-haired girl from last week, who appreciated a good flirtation. Gerald worked steadily on his computer for an hour, then went to Penny's cubicle with the cookie. Finding her absent, he attached a sticky note to the paper sack and left it on her desk.

At five o'clock, he rode the elevator to the parking garage with Teresa, the cool blonde he had flirted with two months ago. She had never been convinced of his affections and now whenever she saw him, she rolled her eyes.

In the parking garage, he waved at Margaret from Receivables, who had reacted to his attentions with so many pointed mentions of her husband that Gerald had pulled her card from his deck as unsuitable for future crushes.

When he got to his car, he found a red envelope stuck to his window, and inside, a card covered in red and pink hearts, but with no signature. Gerald drove home uneasily and arrived at his house to find a bouquet of roses outside his door, but no note. That night his phone rang twice, but the number was untraceable, and in the morning there were footprints in the dew and flower petals scattered across the hood of his car.

At the office, he found a bag of fresh croissants on his desk, and at lunchtime, a courier dropped off a roast beef sandwich, but couldn't say who had ordered it. He was so confused he almost forgot to flirt with Penny, but toward the end of the day, he took her some post-it pads printed with flowers. She accepted them in unreadable silence while Jane, his flirtation from the week of March 5th, glared from the cubicle across the aisle.

For the rest of the week, gifts arrived at Gerald's desk: a homemade cake, gourmet coffee, a pen and pencil set, and gift cards for everywhere from Starbuck's to Home Depot. Although they all denied it, he was sure some of the women knew what was up. They giggled in their cubicles, gave him sly looks in the hallway, and whispered as they passed his door. Someone was having a fine time at his expense, and in the meantime he was stuck doling out gifts to silent, sullen Penny, who never met his gaze and seemed always to be thinking about numbers.

He was relieved when the weekend came and there were no more gifts. On Monday, he found no notes or rose petals on his car, and he drove to work certain that whatever joke had been played on him was over.

He poured a cup of coffee and sat down with his deck of cards. As always, he shuffled, cut twice, and drew, only to find no name - just an ordinary playing card. Puzzled, he drew again, but this one was blank too, except for the vacant gaze of the queen of hearts.

He spread the cards across his desk, then took a few breaths to calm his racing mind. Who had found out? Who had sneaked in here, replaced the special cards and tried to put a stop to the one thing that made coming to the office worthwhile?

At a tap on the door, he spun around. There stood Penny in a red dress, her frizzy hair in wisps around her face like a halo. "Don't you love me?"

Gerald looked away from the earnestness in her eyes. Did he love her? Of course not, but his mind flashed back to the titterings and snide looks of the past week - those mocking females who thought it was a joke. Here was one woman who took him seriously, and he realized with a start that it was a nice change.

He motioned Penny into the room and put his hands on her shoulders. "Not yet," he said, "But I'm willing to try."

Retreat Review

Last weekend I attended a writing/meditation retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center.

It was a wonderful experience. I had my own room, which was clean and comfortable..

and the meals were generous and delicious with both vegetarian and carnivore options daily.

The retreat format was simple and consisted of meditation sessions...

followed by journaling and writing. We had an evening session where we shared our work, but for the most part we just meditated and wrote.

I'd be lying if I said I achieved a major writing breakthrough while I was there, but it was a fantastic little getaway. I especially enjoyed hiking up to the Great Stupa, which is a sort of Buddhist shrine.

I also liked watching the birds, which were a variety I hadn't ever seen before, and I made friends with a cat.

In sum, it was a peaceful weekend that left me buzzing for several days after returning to Houston. I've committed to making meditation a daily practice for thirty days, just to see what happens, and I've settled upon a new routine that loosely follows the format we followed during the retreat: meditate for fifteen minutes to clear the mind, then write. I write (or draw) for a minimum of thirty minutes with no internet, no distractions. After that, if I want to do something else, look something up, etc, I allow myself to open a web browser, but I'm trying hard to get out of the habit of giving in to "monkey mind" when it's time to create.

Has this helped any? Who knows? I have no new work to show for all this yet, with the exception of a cute little story I wrote during the retreat that I might shop around to some of the web zines. I feel happier though, and I'm spending less time pointlessly clicking links on the web and more time in productive activity. I feel more calm and I have a renewed sense of optimism.

I also want to go back to Shambhala Mountain Center. I can't emphasize enough the value of getting out of the old routine for a few days and doing something that's just for you. Find that special something, writer friends, whether it's a mountain or a beach, a Buddhist center or a Trappist monastery. Escape and shake yourself up a bit. You'll be glad you did!

Writing Retreat

Well, writer friends, off I go to Colorado for a relaxing weekend of nature, meditation, and writing! Hopefully I'll come back with new ideas and techniques to share with you. If not, it'll have been a pleasant weekend in the mountains, and who can argue with that?

Happy Writing!

Authentic Inspiration: A Weekend for Writers

Update on Me: Seeking Inspiration

As some of you may have noticed, I've been on a bit of a hiatus lately. For about a year now, I've struggled with my writing. I've dutifully applied the BIC (butt in chair) method each night, writing something - anything - hoping the inspiration would follow, but it hasn't. I've become increasingly frustrated, which hasn't done much to call the muse back to me.

So a few weeks ago, I decided to give myself permission to not write for awhile. Rather than wait for the inspiration to come to me in my room, I've been getting out, trying new things, being open to new ideas and new people outside my usual circle.

Last night I went with my husband to a meditation session at a Buddhist center one of his cycling friends goes to. I don't consider myself Buddhist, but there are aspects of Buddhist thought and practice that I think are compatible with most beliefs. Sit quietly and be in the moment - who can argue with that?

While we were waiting for the session to begin, Dan picked up a brochure and I looked over his shoulder. What did I see, but a writer's retreat at a Buddhist center in Colorado! In this retreat program, you learn how to apply meditation techniques to the writing process.

When I got home, I got online, feeling sure that the program must be full by now, or airfare would be outrageous. I was wrong on both counts, and my boss gave me a day off without even bothering to look at a calendar. So on October 29, I'm off to the Rockies for a weekend writing/meditation retreat!

If anyone else is interested, there seems to still be space available. The program can also be extended into a four-day or six-day workshop if you have time and funds for that sort of thing (which I do not).

So here it is: Authentic Inspiration: A Weekend for Writers with Susan Piver

The program appears to be ecumenical, so if you're intrigued, don't let the fact that it's at a Buddhist center turn you off. Contact them and ask for more information.

Flash Fiction: The New Girl

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Another Vince story today. Be sure to drop by Three Word Wednesday and Weekend Writer's Retreat for more fun.

Fausto darted his eyes toward the girl arranging her gear on the floor. In hushed tones he asked, "Why'd Vince bring her on?"

Ozone shrugged. "Seems capable enough. I guess we'll find out for sure tonight."

"That's not what I meant."

"It was also a favor to his sister. She's a friend of Sara's."

Fausto rolled his eyes and indicated with a jerk of his chin that Ozone should follow him. Once they were far enough away in the cavernous old warehouse, he said, "Come on, you know what I'm talking about. Gitana."

"What about her?"

"She's going to be pissed Vince brought another girl here, no matter how demure she's acting."

"Just because she's a girl doesn't mean Vince plans to sleep with her."

Fausto grinned. "Right. Like he hasn't had something going on with every girl he's ever brought into this gang? Tell me another. This one will be lucky if Gitana doesn't cut her throat in her sleep."

Ozone gave a sly smile. "I have a feeling she can look out for herself."

"Around someone as volatile as Gitana? I'm telling you, she's worse than she ever was; hot one minute, cold the next, getting offended over every little thing..."

"It's not really our problem, is it?" Ozone shoved his hands in his pockets. "I mean, Vince makes the rules, and if he wants this new girl on our team, then that's how it'll be."

Fausto sighed and leaned against the wall. "Yeah. I just wish I understood how he thinks. He's really smart when it comes to negotiating deals for us, like the other night where we got thirty percent on a lousy marijuana handoff. But when it comes to women..."

"Some guys are just like that, man."

"And what does it mean for us? We're the ones that have to live with the chaos."

"It's not like you don't have options," Ozone reminded him.

"What, you mean join someone else?" Fausto fixed him with a look. "I worked for three other groups before I met up with Vince. He's the only guy I know who doesn't cut a guy's share just because he feels like being a jerk."

"So quit complaining about the girl, then." Ozone gave a little twitch of his shoulders and headed back toward the main sleeping area. "Besides, I don't get the feeling she'll be here long."

Fausto tagged after him. "But in the meantime..."

Ozone grinned. "Yeah. Cat fight. Can't say the boss doesn't provide us with entertainment."

For more stories about Vince and his gang, go here.

Flash Fiction: Unknown

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Another Vince story. I didn't mean for it to come out this dark, but there you go. Be sure to drop by Three Word Wednesday and Weekend Writer's Retreat for more fun.

"What the hell did you think you were doing?"

Speedball frowned. "I thought she was with the Catorces."

Vince pressed down hard, trying to stanch the blood. "The Catorces are our allies. If you'd lay off the drugs once in awhile, you might be able to remember a thing or two."

Speedball stepped back with an injured air.

Ozone had been digging through their box of medical supplies, but he stopped and gave Vince a look. "Be fair, man. Things change practically every week."

Vince was in no mood to be fair. Speedball's impulsiveness might've gotten them in serious trouble this time. Their alliances had never been very robust, and injuring someone for no reason could be their death sentence. "Has someone gone to get Sara? This girl needs proper medical care."

"Gitana left a little while ago." Ozone selected a clean rag and brought it over.

While Ozone took over, pressing his fresh rag into the wound, Vince looked at the girl more closely. Her smooth dark skin suggested tribal blood, and she seemed young - barely out of her teens. Her clothes and weapons suggested fight training of some sort and the money to get kitted out properly. Perhaps Speedball hadn't been wrong to think she was a threat.

Vince patted her pockets, hoping to find identification or some sign of gang affiliation, but found only a crumpled card from a local church commemorating the Feast of Simon and Jude, and an odd hand-stitched item that he couldn't guess the use of but suspected was a charm of some sort. Meant to ward off evil, it had been useless against Speedball, who was merely reckless.

Vince looked at the card again. Wasn't Jude the one who helped with lost causes? Maybe he could help where Vince couldn't. He tucked the card back in her pocket, feeling Speedball's gaze on him the entire time. "What?" He got to his feet.

Speedball looked away. "Nothing. Just...I'm sorry, you know. I was only trying to protect us."

"I know." The girl still lay motionless and Ozone's rag was starting to soak through. For all any of them knew, the girl might have been a threat, after all. Just because she was young and attractive didn't mean she wasn't deadly. Vince suppressed a grim smile. He was always quick with the assumptions when he saw a pretty face. "You meant well, but next time..."


"Capture intruders. Don't go off on them like this."

The girl's breathing had become strange and hoarse, as if she were choking. Vince knew the sound and turned away. "I might've liked to have talked to her, find out what she wanted. And now we'll never know."

For more stories about Vince, go here.

Book Review

There's a review of Maelstrom at Crimogenic today. Check it out!

New Maelstrom

I have a new Maelstrom story for you, peeps: Monster Tour.

It's a Three Word Wednesday post, so be sure to visit the other Wednesday writers.

Another New Flash Fiction

I've posted another new story in the Will and Diana series. This one's about Coyote and Macy, and I wrote it for Sunday Scribblings: Leap of Faith

Thursday Tales Flash

I haven't written about Will and Diana for awhile, so here's a story, written for Thursday Tales: Sense of Direction.

New Steal Tomorrow Fiction

New flash fiction about the Thespians from Steal Tomorrow: New Role. It's also linked at Three Word Wednesday which is a great place to drop in and read new writers.

New Flash Fiction

New Steal Tomorrow flash, this one featuring the twins: Keep Out.

Flash Fiction: Never on a Sunday

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Another Vince story today - microfiction this time. Be sure to drop by Three Word Wednesday and Weekend Writer's Retreat for more fun.
"Sorry, man, no can do."

Migo's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "What are you talking about? You're the biggest money whore in town. This type of gig is right up your alley."

"I'm short-handed." Vince leaned back in his battered leather desk chair. "Fausto is injured, Ozone's out of town for a few days, and Speedball won't work Sundays."

"Don't tell me he's gone religious."

"No, nothing like that." Vince grimaced. "Just a phase he's going through, like last month when he thought Peru could read his mind and was transmitting his thoughts to ancient Apache deities."

Migo shook his head. "Where do you find them?"

"I always stumble upon them somehow. Speedball does good work, though."

"Except he's crazy as a rabid squirrel on meth."

Vince pulled open a drawer and drew out a bottle of good Kentucky bourbon. "We can't all be sane, and who'd want to be, anyway?" He poured a measure into a glass and pushed it across the desk. "Drink up, friend. And pick another date for your little gun-running operation. Any date, as long as it's not a Sunday."

For more stories about Vince, go here.

Flash Fiction: Sugar Pills

AUTHOR'S NOTE: It's been a long time since we had a story about Vince, so enjoy! Be sure to drop by Three Word Wednesday and Weekend Writer's Retreat for more fun.

Sara dug through the canvas bag in exasperation. Was this his idea of a joke? “Homeopathic remedies?” She shoved the bag across the table. “I’m a real nurse, Vince, not some quack playing 'let’s pretend.'”

“Hey, it’s not like I work for a manufacturer, you know. When I find stuff, I bring it to you. If you can use it, great. If not, it isn’t like I paid any money for it.”

“And where’d you steal this particular batch of sugar pills?”

“Does it matter?”

“I guess not.” Sara sat down with a sigh. She had felt so optimistic when her brother told her that he had acquired a stash of medicine. Shortages were rife at the hospital, and a lot of her patients lacked the money or the clout to leverage a spot at the top of the waiting list. It was embarrassing that her brother was a gang leader, but he could sometimes get things a person of her lowly station couldn't afford, or even find. “I had so hoped for tetracycline. Or at least some vitamins.”

“I’m sorry.” He touched her hair. “I didn’t mean to get your hopes up.”

“It’s okay. You didn’t know.”

Vince examined her with wary eyes. “There’s someone in particular you’re thinking of.”

“A kid. The parents aren’t rich or important, so she’ll probably die.”

“And these cycling pills would help, if you had them?”

“Tetracycline. Yeah, it’s what the doctor prescribed, but you practically have to be El Duque to get any. There’s none anywhere in the city.”

“We’ll see about that.” Vince straightened his leather vest. “I’m working a deal in about an hour, but after that, I’ll make some inquiries. There’s a few guys who owe me favors.”

“And more than a few who you owe money,” she reminded him.

He smiled, and it was the same boyish grin Sara remembered from their childhood. Vince had done a lot bad things since their parents died, but his generosity and spark of mischief were unchanged.

“What’s money, anyway?” Vince said. “It’s just some crazy thing that we all agree on, but isn’t really important in its own right.” He started toward the door, then stopped and dug in his pocket. “I almost forgot.” He went back to her and slipped something into her hand. “Don’t go pawning it so you can buy stuff for your patients, okay?”

Sara examined the piece of polished amber on a chain.

“Better than that bag of useless stuff, right?”

To Sara, jewelry was about as useful as homeopathy. She would wear it for a little while, until Vince forgot about it, and by then maybe there would be antibiotics for sale again on the black market. She could pawn it then. “Sure,” she told him, returning his winsome smile. “It's much nicer than sugar pills.”

For more stories about Vince, go here.

Flash Fiction: Halfway Point

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This flash fiction piece was written for Sunday Scribblings. Be sure to drop by, read, and leave comments!

Vince rested his hand on the gun at his hip. "I don't like it."

"Looks okay to me, boss." Ozone shrugged.

"It would." Speedball toyed with his knife. "You've always got your head in the clouds."

"At least it's not up my--"

"Guys." Vince motioned for silence. "Save it for after we close the deal. Speedball, check the west side. Ozone, you take the east. I'll go up ahead and see if anything's happening yet."

While his men went to inspect the decrepit buildings and alleyways, Vince moved cautiously up the street, trying to appear casual while keeping a sharp eye for anything suggesting an ambush. This was no-man's land, halfway between the area he controlled and that of his contact, but that didn't explain his unease. Bigger things were happening. The vibe felt off.

A shadow detached itself from the darkness and Vince started to draw his gun, but then realized it was only Malo, his contact. He waited, every nerve on edge.

"Your guys ready?"

Vince gave a slight shake of his head. "Bad time, bad place."

Malo's lips twisted in an ugly sneer. "You can't back out now. We have a deal."

"I'm not backing out. We just can't do it here. Something--"

Running feet. A shout. Then the hard impact of asphalt as Speedball shoved him to the ground. The explosion obliterated every thought and sent tremors through the earth. When he recovered enough to look up, Vince saw Malo on the ground in front of him, equally alarmed.

"It's a setup," Speedball said. He hauled Vince to his feet.

Malo threw up his hands. "It wasn't me, I swear!"

There was no time to speculate. Vince and Speedball ran back the way they had come, with the sound of gunfire erupting in the distance. They reached Coal Street, one of the borders of their turf, and ducked into a building.

"What was that about?" Vince said, after catching his breath.

"Not sure."

"Probably the Diablos. Seems like their kind of work."

"They've got infiltrators everywhere," Speedball agreed.

"Ozone get out?"


Vince pondered. He was always willing to risk his neck for loyal guys, but if he didn't know where Ozone was or if he was even in danger...

"We shouldn't do this any more."

"Do what? Make deals?"

"No, meet people out there. We should make them come to us."

It was a nice thought, but no one could earn a living that way. Vince suppressed a sigh. "Sorry, man, but that only works in fairy tales. It's risky, but in real life you have to try to meet folks halfway."

For more stories about Vince, go here.

Flash Fiction: Fortune-Teller

AUTHOR'S NOTE: It's been a long time since we had a story about Vince, so enjoy! Be sure to drop by Three Word Wednesday and Weekend Writer's Retreat for more fun.

Vince sipped his whiskey, feigning nonchalance as he watched his contact move away through the crowded barroom. Leon’s Social Club wasn’t much of a club and the leather-clad thugs who frequented it weren’t inclined to be social. This was a place for hiding out or making deals, and the deal Vince just made left him uneasy.

He waved the waitress over. “Two more.”

She glanced at the empty chair.

“They’re both for me. I don’t like wasting time.”

The girl shifted on her skinny legs, watching him now with pale, watery eyes.

“Are you going to get me my drinks, or what?”

She glanced over her shoulder to be sure the boss wasn’t watching, then leaned in close. “Have you ever had your palm read?”


“The lines in your palm predict the future. I know the guy you were talking with just now. He’s bad news.”

“So am I.”

“Just let me look, okay?” She slid into the seat across from him.

With a bemused grin, Vince gave her his hand. “Tell me how tomorrow night’s deal is going to go. If you say it’ll be good and you’re right, I’ll give you a cut.”

“Your hands don’t say those kinds of things.” She traced a line on his palm. “But you won’t get killed, at any rate. You’re going to have a very happy marriage with lots of kids and a long life.”

Vince jerked away from her. “You’re crazy, you know that?” He tossed back the rest of his drink and stood up. “I’m not the marrying kind. Any kids I have would know better than to call me daddy, and like hell I’m going to die in my bed, old and feeble.”

“But I saw—”

“Your own deluded imaginings.” He fumbled in his pocket and slapped a coin on the table. “Nice try, though, honey. I admire entrepreneurs.”

The girl waited until she could no longer see him in the smoky room, then picked up the coin and examined it. Pure silver. She dropped it in her pocket with a little smirk of satisfaction, then cleared the empty glasses and went to the next table. “Any of you boys ever had your fortune told?”

Three Word Wednesday Fun

New flash fiction, this time about Jay and David met: Ira Quod Ruina

At this point I'm close to having a complete set of origin stories for those two, from their first meeting, to joining the Regents.Fun stuff. Now get thee to Three Word Wednesday and join the fun or at least leave kind words for the participants.

Clarity of Night Finalist!

Guess what, friends? One of my stories made the cut at Clarity of Night. You can check out my story here: Like Broken Glass. It's a Steal Tomorrow story, centered on Cuervo, the double-dealing informant who gets killed by the Pharms.

There's still time to enter the contest, so read the rules here, then go write something wonderful!

New Fiction

New Steal Tomorrow flash: Coffee with Sugar

I've been a little under the weather this week - lots of congestion that has now migrated to my lungs. Because of my asthma, I'm used to not being able to breathe, but I'm anxious to be over this by the weekend so I can run. Our new cat has been keeping me company, though, and it's nice to wake up and find her next to me.

Quiz: Which Dystopian Future Is Right For You?

As an author of (among other things) dystopian fiction, I couldn't resist this quiz: Which Dystopian Future Is Right For You?

I plead the Fifth regarding my own results, but take the quiz yourself and see how you do. The quiz results include recommended reading so you can immerse yourself in your favorite dystopia!

New Flash Fiction

I have two new flash fiction stories for Three Word Wednesday.

One is a Steal Tomorrow Story that includes David and Galahad when they were with the Kevorks: Lucky Escape.

The other is a Maelstrom story: Eye of the Beholder.

Book Review: Theater Geek

Let me get this confession out of the way up front: I'm a fiction writer who mostly reads non-fiction. Yes, yes, I know.

Let's be clear on another thing: This isn't so much a review of the book itself as a collection of insights I had while reading it. Writers and actors have more in common than I would've thought. How? Read on.

When I came across a review of Theater Geek by Mickey Rapkin, I knew I had to get it right away. I had never heard of Stagedoor Manor, but I was intrigued (and jealous) that there was a special theater camp for kids - one so highly regarded that agents regularly drop by, and yet the camp remains so egalitarian that there are no auditions to get in. In 208 pages (hardback), Rapkin follows three of the campers through the ups and downs of their final summer at Stagedoor, and he gives a fascinating look at the thirty-five year history of the camp, from its wild and woolly early years in the 1970s, to its more disciplined but no less energetic incarnation of today.

The book's initial appeal to me was two-fold. I was in a summer production of Alice in Wonderland when I was nine and I continued with theater in middle school, ending my involvement reluctantly in high school when band and family commitments made it no longer feasible. I am fascinated by sub-cultures, the more insular the better. For these reasons, an inside peek at Stagedoor Manor was right up my alley.

Once I got to reading it, though, I was struck by how similar actors and writers are with regard to their characters. Like us, actors create their characters, and the kids at Stagedoor are often required to come up with backstory, just like writers do. They are reminded that every time a character comes on stage, he or she wants something, and that want must be conveyed to the audience. (Sound familiar, writers?) And here's a quote that will resonate with writers, from Jeff Blumenkrantz, a former camper:
Here are the things you need to have considered before you get up and sing a song: Who are you singing to? What just happened? Why are you expressing this in this moment?
Yep, just like writing.

The best of these young actors learn to become their characters, crying real tears when the character is in pain and feeling real joy when the character is happy. How many of us haven't cried at our keyboard over a tragic scene we're writing, or experienced an oxytocin rush when our character falls in love?

Good writing is a form of method acting. And that's why you should read this book.

Update for Alice Audrey: Here's where we performed Alice in Wonderland: Sunken Garden Theater. The tunnel mentioned in the fact sheet was the bane of our director's existence. We kids loved it and the Griffin was particularly adept at sneaking off and making trouble down there. We gave three performances. I don't remember there being any empty seats, and it's a big theater.

New Flash Fiction

New Steal Tomorrow fiction, this one about the twins: Noisy Neighbors.

I've posted a new Steal Tomorrow flash: Figment of the Imagination.

I've also extended the drawing for Maelstrom blog, so go sign the guestbook!

Maelstrom Contest and New Steal Tomorrow Flash

Hey, everyone, I've got a contest going on at my Maelstrom blog, so go sign the guestbook to win a book or t-shirt.

And if you came here to read a story, I've posted a new Steal Tomorrow flash: Practice Makes Perfect.

Happy week, all!


I've posted a new Steal Tomorrow story: Fairy Tales and I have a giveaway going on at Maelstrom, so check it out!

New Steal Tomorrow Flash

New Steal Tomorrow flash: Double Dealing. This is a Three Word Wednesday post.

New Flash Fiction

New Steal Tomorrow flash: Bethany's Luck. This is a Thursday Tales post.

New Maelstrom Fiction

New Maelstrom flash: Nostalgia

Just so you know, I'm busy planning a giveaway, with several cool Maelstrom prizes available. I've just got to get caught up on a few things after my vacation, first. I'm exhausted, the work is piled up at the office, I've got jury duty next week, and I still have to close on this house!

Back From Vacation!

Two weeks on the road can really make you appreciate the conveniences of home. We camped, hiked, and went horseback riding; we browsed high-end boutiques, antique stores and thrift shops; our accommodations ran the gamut from tents to elegant historic hotels, and everything in between.

I find it hard to write when I'm on vacation, but I came back with some ideas that might become viable future projects. In the meantime, I'm gearing up for a Maelstrom promotion and a Featured Author series for this summer.

In the meantime, here's a new Maelstrom flash for Sunday Scribblings and Weekend Writer's Retreat: Personal Superhero

On Vacation

I'll be updating here every night I have internet access: Vacation Blog

Return comments may be a little light for the next two weeks, but I'll still be reading your blogs and thinking about all of you. When I get back, I'll be doing a fantabulous Maelstrom giveaway, so don't forget about me!

New Maelstrom Fiction

I have a new Maelstrom story up for Three Word Wednesday: An Inconvenient Invitation. This is a Kalila story, so be sure to check it out and then visit the other Three Word Wednesday writers.

New Flash Fiction

Short Steal Tomorrow piece for Thursday Tales: The Rehearsal, and another for Sunday Scribblings: Here Be Dragons

New Short Fiction and Announcement

I have a new Maelstrom story up for Three Word Wednesday: Nothing But Trouble, and I have a new Steal Tomorrow story posted: Lucky Day.

Even better, Maelstrom is now available in print and Kindle versions from Amazon. I'll be doing a giveaway in June, so if you're short on cash, sit tight for now and maybe you'll win your own signed copy! Don't forget that if you prefer e-book format, you can get Maelstrom at Fictionwise!.

New Flash Fiction

Another Steal Tomorrow flash, this one about Sandra, the Regents' head cook: A Special Meal. The story contains no spoilers about the novel and it has a few links to additional information.

Be sure to check out the other offerings this week at Sunday Scribblings. Leave feedback and encouragement for other writers - writing is fun, but it's hard work, too.

New Maelstrom Story

I have a new Maelstrom story up, with a link for where to buy the book in e-format. I'll be sure to let everyone know when print is available, unless Ricky would prefer to make that announcement, since he's the one having to deal with Missing Books.

This is a Three Word Wednesday offering, so be sure to check out the new Three Word Wednesday's site for more stories, and some poetry, too.

Maelstrom Available!

More later, because I'm still at the office, but Maelstrom is now available on Fictionwise! Buy Maelstrom!

New Steal Tomorrow Flash

I have a new Steal Tomorrow story up, this time about May and her shop. It contains no spoilers: All That Glitters

This is a Three Word Wednesday offering, so be sure to check out the new Three Word Wednesday's site for more stories, and some poetry, too.

Weekend Events!

This weekend's Sunday Scribblings prompt is "event," and since we got the prompt early, that means I've got two treats for you!

I have a Steal Tomorrow story, An Evening's Entertainment, with links to other stories and information, but no spoilers.

And in Maelstrom news, Ricky is trying to get the band scheduled for an event of a different sort than they're used to. Read all about the upcoming Maelstrom Book Release.

Enjoy your weekend, friends!

New Flash Fiction

I have a new Steal Tomorrow story up, a story about the early days of the Regents. It contains no spoilers: Priorities

This is a Three Word Wednesday offering, so be sure to check out the new Three Word Wednesday's site for more stories, and some poetry, too.

New Flash Fiction

Another Steal Tomorrow flash, this one about The Twins: Stealing Dinner. The story contains no spoilers about the novel and it has a few links to additional information, where appropriate. There are other stories about them in the sidebar of the Steal Tomorrow site.

As an aside, I'm open for requests for more stories about your favorite characters. If the stories and character sketches on the Steal Tomorrow site aren't enough, let me know.

Also, be sure to check out the other offerings this week at Sunday Scribblings. Leave feedback and encouragement for other writers - writing is fun, but it's hard work, too.

New Steal Tomorrow Flash

I have a new Steal Tomorrow story up, an origins story about Jay Gallard. It contains no spoilers: Second Chances

This is a Three Word Wednesday offering, so be sure to check out the new Three Word Wednesday's site for more fun. If you're a writer and you haven't been participating in the weekly prompts, why not?

New Maelstrom Fiction

New Maelstrom fiction: Feathered Friend

This is a Sunday Scribblings offering, so be sure to check out Sunday Scribblings for more fun. If you haven't been participating in a writing prompt site, why not? Join us!


Hey, everyone, check out my contest-winning story at Every Day Fiction today! It's only 238 words, and long-time readers will be familiar with bad boy Vince, the main character.

There is also a blog interview where we talk about my writing at Flash Fiction Chronicles.

New Steal Tomorrow Flash Fiction

I have a new Steal Tomorrow story up. This one relates an incident that was alluded to in the novel, but it contains no spoilers: Preppies and Potatoes

This is a Three Word Wednesday offering, so be sure to check out Three Word Wednesday's site for more fun. If you're a writer and you haven't been participating in the weekly prompts, why not?

New Writer Prompt Site

Hey, peeps, there's a new weekly writing prompt site: Thursday Tales. Every Thursday they offer a picture and you have all week to write about it and post your link.

This week's pic inspired a Steal Tomorrow story: Darkened Lamps.

Go check out Thursday Tales, everyone, then write a Thursday tale of your own!

New Flash Fiction

I haven't written about Bo for awhile, so here's a new Maelstrom fiction: Non-Standard Deviaton

And here's a new Steal Tomorrow story about Cassie and Leila: Unidentified

These are Three Word Wednesday offerings, so be sure to check out Three Word Wednesday's new site for more fun. If you're a writer and you haven't been participating in the weekly prompts, why not? It's easy, fun, and you'll get some great feedback, so join us!

New Flash Fiction: On Target

Another Steal Tomorrow flash, this one about Julilla: On Target

Julilla is one of my favorite characters. She tough, smart, and knows the meaning of girl power. If you want more, check out: Post-Pandemic Hoop Dreams.

Be sure to check out the other offerings this week at Sunday Scribblings!

New Maelstrom Fiction for Three Word Wednesday

New Maelstrom fiction: Get Your Kicks On Route...666?

This is a Three Word Wednesday offering, so be sure to check out Three Word Wednesday for more fun. If you're a writer and you haven't been participating in the weekly prompts, why haven't you? It's easy, fun, and you'll get some great feedback, so join us!

New Steal Tomorrow Flash Fiction and Sunday Scribblings

Another Steal Tomorrow flash, this one about May:Alchemy

Here's another May story, in case you want more: Ars Gratia Artis.

Be sure to check out the other offerings this week at Sunday Scribblings!

New Maelstrom Flash

I've posted a new Maelstrom flash piece over at the Maelstrom site: Double Dog Dare

This is a Three Word Wednesday offering, so be sure to check out Three Word Wednesday for other short literary offerings. And if you like to write, join in the fun!


Things have been busy around here, as readers of my other websites are aware. Nevertheless, that's no excuse for not giving a few status updates.

First, Maelstrom is still on track for release from L&L Dreamspell sometime this year. We finished edits last fall and I'm waiting now for a book cover and a release date. In the meantime, I continue to post short stories at the official Maelstrom site and you can download a free book of my favorite Maelstrom flash fiction from Scribd: Maelstrom Madness

Second, I've done a couple of recent editing passes on both the novel and the short stories at the Steal Tomorrow site. The timing with my little self-published novel was unfortunate - I was just getting into the swing of things, trying to promote it, when we got hit with a hurricane. Living an ad hoc life without electricity for a week cooled my enthusiasm for post-apocalyptic speculative fiction. It took more than a year for me to get fired up about this novel again, but the new version is now posted and available in print and download, and I'm regularly adding new flash fiction about the characters. Check out the Steal Tomorrow site for details!

Finally, I think it's worth noting here that I've officially entered the twenty-first century by becoming an e-book reader. I've never been a Luddite, but I'm not one to throw money around casually, either. Early adopters seem to pay the highest prices for the buggiest goods, while those us who wait get a better deal. Patience has paid off and I've inherited a BlackBerry from my husband, who switched to an iPhone. I wasn't sure how I would like reading on the tiny BlackBerry screen, but it suits me fine. I'm now officially an e-book enthusiast. Look for some of my stories to show up on Smashwords at some point in the near future! Reading should be cheap and stress-free, so I want to make my fiction easily accessible, no matter what one's preferred format may be.

I'll be posting here more regularly, now that Maelstrom is getting closer to release, so add me to your blog reader!