Gulliver

So this week’s flash fiction prompt over at TerribleMinds is simply about “bad parents,” which reminded me of a story I wrote a while back and hadn’t shared with anyone yet. So, I bring to you today, Gulliver.

 

Gulliver

 

The bear is starting to show his age. Faded, worn, his stuffing mostly gone now—spilling out from a tear in his left side. He’s missing one of his shiny, coal button eyes. The bottom of his dangling paw still has her name clumsily scrawled on it in black marker from that time last year when she’d had the flu and spent three whole days gloriously banished to her room with a box of crackers and a thermos full of juice. She loves him all the more fiercely for his bumps and bruises.

Gulliver wears his scars proudly. Unlike her own scrapes and cuts, so carefully hidden beneath long sleeves and her good school jeans. The few times she’d woken up to a face punctuated with welts and bruises, ripe as a summer plum, there had been a day off school. Makeup. Hugs. The only hugs she can recall.

She reads on the bedroom floor. Beneath a lean-to fort of her comforter and desk chair. Here is where she and Gulliver escape. Smiling to her best friend, she relates tales of adventure and happily ever afters to her tattered bear, content and quiet.

Until His frame blocks the light cascading from the bedside lamp. She flinches, hoping He doesn’t notice. The last time He was in here, she’d done a terrible job of putting her clothes away—Neatly, damn it is that so hard?!I—andHe’d had to take a hammer to the collection of delicate angel figurines on her dresser. Over and over until there was nothing left but a glittering pile of glass dust for her to clean and a tiny shard of crystal wing embedded in her lip for mom to remove.

She stiffens her body to keep the shaking she feels inside from escaping as He scans the room for some violation. And his eyes settled on Gulliver.

“This piece of shit is going in the trash.”

She has no choice but to watch on in abject horror as he scoops her bear up in his massive hand and leaves the room. She trails behind, unwilling to accept this latest discipline.

“But… why?” She knows better than to question him, to squeak the words past the lump in her throat. But they escape anyway, pain and grief tearing through her as he shoves Gulliver into the sloppy mess of old coffee filters and leftover dog food in the kitchen trash can.

He doesn’t answer (she’d known he wouldn’t) and instead leaves her there in a heap on the dingy linoleum floor, lost.

“Where’s your teddy bear?” he asks, hours later. She recognizes the mocking tone. The light in his eyes. Gulliver is gone. He threw him away. The scene played over and over in her mind as she wanders the house, an empty ship with a broken anchor.

She makes a run for her room before the first tear leaves her shimmering eyes. She still doesn’t know all the rules to his game, but she knows enough to recognize that He likes it when she cries. Normally it was a good way to make Him stop. Let Him see the pain, he won, and it was almost over. Today, she can’t bring herself to give Him the pleasure.

Instead, she crawls into bed, waits for the release of sleep.

He doesn’t let her forget. All week, He teases. Picks at her scabs. Rips the wound open with His mocking question.

“Where’s your teddy bear?”

Friday afternoon, she walks up the driveway, dragging her feet against the imaginary and insistent pull of home. Despite the lack of homework, her pink hand-me-down backpack feels heavy. Filled not with books or toys but with the heavy weight of loss and grief.

The horizon has long since gobbled up the last of the winter sun when she sits down to dinner. She’s not hungry. There’s a lead weight in her gut that refuses to go away. She forces herself to eat anyway, before He has a chance to force her Himself.

When He pushes his chair away from the table, she shoves another, bigger, bite into her mouth—gagging, desperately trying to prove she isn’t being difficult or obstinate or picky.

“Come on,” He says, motioning with his head as he walks past the kitchen and into the garage.

She follows, trying not to fidget as the icy December floor seeps through her bare feet. Streetlights burn through the inky sky, creating a dingy yellow halo that drips down over the house and spills onto the drive.

“Trash man came today. Thought you’d want to say one last goodbye.” He tips the largest can towards her, shows off its hollow bowels.

The icy air  freezes her tears as they spill out of her eyes in a rush.

“I loved you, Gulliver” is all she manages to say before her legs give out. He catches her before she hits the sidewalk, and she’s too sad, too tired, to care what her display of emotions will cost her later.

He lays her on the couch, and she curls into a ball. Her body shakes with a chill that has little to do with the fluttering snowflakes outside the big picture window. She hears Him leave the room and vaguely registers a wish in the back of her mind that He won’t come back with the belt.

Instead, when He returns a moment later, a familiar softness brushes against her cheek. She’s too terrified to hope.

But hope won out—it always wins in the end—and she sits up. He’s holding Gulliver out towards her, his fur freshly washed and the hole in his side stitched neatly. He has a new button eye.

She sits, cradling her best friend, with a splotchy face and the last of the tears drying on her cheeks. Forgetting the half-healed split in her lip, her mouth gapes into a smile as she hurls herself at him and encases his thick frame in her arms.

“Thank you so much, daddy! You’re the best!”

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Biscuit

Greetings humans of Earth. Recently, I entered a microfiction competition, and while I didn’t win I was actually quite pleased with my entry. And so I present to all of you, Biscuit:

 

Biscuit

 

My daughter’s kitten, Biscuit, keeps me up all night. She’s hard to see, despite her clumsy paws and soft round tummy, and I can’t always get a good look at her. But she’s there; scratching at the doors, ripping up the carpet.

It’s gotten worse, and she’s chewing right through the walls most nights now. Gnawing and scratching and spitting out bits and pieces of drywall and insulation like some kind of zombie robot cat, back from the grave and surviving off of useless bits of wire and mesh debris.

Sometimes I wonder why she can’t just be quiet. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be able to count past five without crying again. Sometimes I leave gaping holes in my walls and doors with my fists, a hammer, anything I have handy. I’m just trying to find Biscuit, make her be quiet.

Those are the nights my husband screams. I can’t make out the words, except when he cries softly that he loves me. I wonder if he remembers our vacation as a family, how much little Emma loved the warm waters of Manzanillo.

Uno. Dos. Hola. Adios. She taught herself some words in Spanish that trip. Would run through the sand and into my arms shouting, “Momma! Hola means hi!”  I can’t forget.

Just like I can’t forget about Biscuit. Can’t let her run through the house, chewing through wires and walls and carpet.

My daughter’s kitten hasn’t left much in the way of walls. There are holes and gaps and giant caves dug out all over. Everywhere except Emma’s room. Biscuit doesn’t go in there – almost like she can’t. I can’t either. Can’t swing open that door and see her colorful clothes and toys and messy bed all covered in a layer of dust and loneliness.

I can’t watch the television or cook or turn on the lights anymore, either. Biscuit’s chewed through the wires. She scampers out before my husband can catch a glimpse of her.

“Did you see her, babe? She was right there.”

It’s obvious where she’s just been – the carpet is shredded with the destruction that only tiny little teeth and claws can effectively create. But my husband still doesn’t see her. He only pulls me close, shakes a little.

Biscuit leads me through the house – everywhere but Emma’s room – and I follow her now. Leaving my own holes in the walls. Stitching together memories as I go. A cherubic, smiling face. Dark curls and blue eyes. One dimple. Sunshine and a sandy swimsuit. Uno. Dos. Hola means hi momma. Momma my head feels funny. What does the doctor mean, momma? Momma I love you I want to sleep now. I can’t forget, not like my husband has. So I look for Biscuit, hear her scratching inside the walls. Tiny claws and even tinier mewling.

She was so cute, my little one. Cute enough to make me put hole after hole in the walls and doors. Shouting the little Spanish she knew with wild abandon. Jumping into every picture, eyes saucer-wide and grin full of mischief. Maybe when I catch Biscuit I can open Emma’s door again. Maybe Emma will be sitting there again. Color back in her round cheeks.

My daughter’s kitten made my husband leave. That’s not what the divorce papers say. They sit on my kitchen table next to the chewed up wrappers and dead mice that the zombie cat leaves littered about. It spends more time out in the open now that I’m alone, and sometimes she talks to me. Mostly in Spanish. We went to Mexico once, you know. Biscuit stayed home and little Emma asked about her every day.

It’s funny that Biscuit remembers that trip. It was so long ago – Emma was only five. She even remembers how cute – cute as a button – little Emma looked, all tanned and happy when we came home from that trip. Before she’d ever seen so much as the inside of a hospital lobby.

We talk about Emma a lot, Biscuit and I. She stays in my housecoat pocket most nights now. I can keep her safe there. I’ve even started to patch up some of the holes in the walls.

We count together at night, all the way to five and back down. And then I swallow down the sand in my throat and we drift off to sleep, remembering.

Summer Storm

 

As the new official Fantasy of the Month and Suggestion of the Week writer at Simply for Lovers, I thought I’d take a second and let you guys take a peek at the sultry story I wrote for August. While a bit NSFW, I happen to be proud of this bad boy, so I encourage you to all go check it out.

 

Ahem, I said I ENCOURAGE you to go check it out.

 

*Stares at you until you click the link*

 

http://blog.simplyforlovers.com/2013/08/01/summer-storm/

Penance

 

And now, for something a little different.

 

Today’s post is another piece of flash fiction, in response to a challenge on Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog. Basically, the assignment was to take a line created to be the last line of a story, and flip that idea on its pretty little head – making it the opening line of a roughly 1000 word story. So to see which line I chose, and to indulge in the rest of my creativity run amok, read on:

 

Penance

 

Truth be told, I’m not sure any of them are actually dead. It all looks so much easier in the movies, where the baddie is always a big, snarling monster and the good guys never run out of bullets. No one ever tells you that real monsters look remarkably similar to sweet, blue haired old ladies. Or that demons make a hell of a mess when you blow them up.

 

Damn it. I loved those shoes.

 

Sinking down into the massive wingback chair by the floor to ceiling windows, I slipped off my red patent leather heels and reached for a towel. Demon blood – thick, black and sulfurous – dripped down off of my pony tail and all over the snug designer jeans and black v-neck I’d thrown on earlier. I’d no sooner started to wipe copious amounts of viscous unholy innards from my favorite Louboutins than the knock came.

 

Great. Not even time to clean up first. Oh well, might as well get it over with.

 

“Door’s open.”

 

If I hadn’t been so damn tired, the look on the Council member’s faces would have elicited a chuckle from me. Then again, it’s not every day that you walk in on a well-dressed woman covered in coagulating demon guts in the middle of a high end Las Vegas hotel room. Still, you’d figure that the head of the world’s foremost paranormal council would at least try to hide his obvious disgust. Apparently it’s easier to pay for demon hunting services when you don’t have to come face to face with the evidence of it.

 

“We… we were looking for Nick?”

 

For one of the most powerful men in the country, Alex Ballard sure looked confused. His tiny blue eyes shifted nervously from one corner of the room to the other, obviously at a loss. Considering his standing in the magic community, I opted against my first inclination, which was to let loose a smartass answer. Instead I set down my ruined shoe with an exhausted sigh before leveling him with as serious a look as I could muster.

 

“I’m Nic. And here – “I fished the small silk bag out of my pocket and tossed it in his direction “ – is what’s left of your demon problem.”

 

Alex stared down at the tiny black parcel in his hands as if expecting it to burn a hole through his palm. He cleared his throat twice before addressing me again, tiny eyes still glued to the bag.

 

“You’re sure that they’re d-dead? Gone?”

 

Ok, now I was getting irritated. I wanted a hot shower and a rare steak. I wanted Alex Ballard to cough up my fee and then get the hell out of my room. I wanted to quit the demon hunting business once and for all and find a nice quiet office job that wouldn’t give me migraines and nightmares. Instead, I eased myself out of the chair and ambled over to the mini bar.

 

Ballard’s assistant – who, if it was possible, had even shiftier beady eyes than his boss – took two steps back and paled visibly as I walked by. Can’t say it didn’t sting my pride a bit. Sure, I was dripping with leftover demonic parts and probably smelled a little like brimstone. But come on, no girl wants to be the cause of a man’s obvious revulsion.

 

Pouring a hefty shot of bourbon for myself, I gestured at the two men with the bottle.

 

“No thank you, Miss –er – Nic. Now, about the demons. If you could explain exactly how you know –“

 

“I don’t. There’s no way of knowing that they won’t come back. Can’t even be sure that they’re all really dead at all.”

 

The heat from the liquor blossomed in my chest. It was a welcome, numbing sensation.

 

“The fact is, Mr. Ballard, that this kind of demon doesn’t belong on this plane. Someone, someone a hell of a lot more powerful than your average basement Satanist, summoned those demons with the intention of doing a fuckload of harm to the people of your city. I’d say they consumed three or four souls before I got to it. Teenagers, probably. Runaways or homeless folks. Anyway, I’d say your problem is bigger than the demons themselves. You’re going to want to figure out who did this, sooner, rather than later.”

 

“I don’t understand. How did you manage this? No one else has been able to locate the monsters, much less identify and vanquish them…”

 

I grinned at him over the rim of the glass before knocking back the last of the bourbon.

 

“I’m damn good at my job. Now, if we could arrange for payment, I’m sure you’ll understand that I’m a wee bit tired…”

 

That seemed to snap him out of his dumbfounded state.

 

“Of course. We’ll be out of your way shortly.”

 

Slipping the pouch into his suit jacket pocket, he nodded curtly at the beady-eyed assistant, who scrambled out of the room, hopefully to go get my hefty fee. Hey, fighting the undead is a dangerous job; what would be the point of risking my ass if it didn’t pay well enough to keep me in the lifestyle to which I’d always wanted to become accustomed?

 

I was halfway through my second drink when I noticed a subtle shift in the room’s atmosphere. Call it intuition, or instinct, or just a keen sixth sense developed over years of dealing with paranormal bad guys, but I knew something was about to go down.

 

Dropping the glass, I reached into the back waistband of my jeans and ducked low seconds before the screeching started. There’s really no mistaking the high pitched whine of a demon shaking off its human form. Son of a bitch, I should have known something was wrong the second Ballard entered the room. If I hadn’t been so damn tired…

 

Alex Ballard’s doughy face split down the middle, blood and sinew erupting in a lava-like flow as the grizzled demon that had obviously been inhabiting his body for some time revealed itself. Still screeching, it raised one of Alex’s hands in my direction. The stench of sulfur made my eyes tear as chunks of flesh melted away from the body that had, until quite recently, belonged to the chairman of the American Paranormal Council.

 

The demon charged then, its oily black skin melding with what was left of Ballard to leave a trail of soot, blood and slime on the pristine hotel carpet. There was no mistaking the look in his eyes – this demon wanted me dead.

 

“Not today, you bastard.”

 

Raising the retrofitted Walther PPK, I locked onto the demon’s snarling head and pulled the trigger just as it was rounding the side of the wingback chair.

 

A whole new layer of sludge rained down over me as I bent to gather the tiny black silk pouch from the bubbling pond of ooze that used to be Ballard’s suit jacket. I might not ever get my hair clean again.

 

The knock at the door from Ballard’s assistant came as I was looking around for something to wipe my face with. Apparently, this night was just not getting any easier. Raising the Walther, I called out as sweetly as I could.

 

“Come on in…”

She’s Back! (My Triumphant Return to the Blogging World)

 

So it’s been a little over a month since my last post, and for this, faithful followers, I am sorry. I hot a rough patch, health wise, and was conserving my energy and only using my writing powers to get work done. But no more! I’m feeling a bit better, and what’s more, I am more motivated than ever before to take my writing to the next level.

 

For those of you that liked my post on some of the sultrier work I’ve published recently, I am pleased to announce that I am officially the new Fantasy of the Month and Suggestion of the week writer for Simply for Lovers. I highly suggest you check them out for all of your adult toy, massage, lingerie, and sexy reading needs.

 

I have all kinds of other news and plans to share with you all. So stay tuned and I will be back with more soon!

 

*Takes Bow*

*Exits Stage to Thunderous Applause*

At the Base of the Ceiba

Today’s post is a little different. It’s a work of flash fiction, created in response to the the challenge over at Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog. The idea was to take two randomly generated literary genres, smash them together, and create a story of about 1000 words from the mess that resulted. My two genres were Southern Gothic and Superhero — neither of which I’ve ever had much experience with. The “superhero” in my story isn’t traditional… so sue me. Hope you guys enjoy! Feedback is always welcome.

 

At the Base of the Ceiba

 

Kinah kept her eyes down as she skirted the outside of the big house, the hem of her faded blue dress kicking up small clouds of dust. The midday sun was particularly brutal for this late in the year, but she didn’t dare stop to wipe at the beads of sweat tickling the back of her neck. Someone would be missing her in the crowded kitchen, and it wouldn’t do to get Misses’ ire up again.

 

She found Ben kneeling on the hard packed dirt under the Kapok tree. Ceiba, they called it back home. At least that’s what she’d been told. Home to Kinah was the plantation where she’d been born. But Ben clung stubbornly to the stories of the place he’d last seen as a child – and his back and arms bore the scars of his willfulness. Above his head, two fat bumblebees traced lazy circles in the dappled shade.

 

“The ceiba is sacred to Chango.” Ben spoke without looking up.

 

Kinah sighed heavily as she stepped closer to him, her bare feet relishing the change in temperature as she approached the spot where he knelt. In front of him, a small candle burned at the base of the tree.

 

“I know. You’ve told me a million times.” Crouching low, she took a moment to rest her head against his broad shoulder.

 

“What are you doing out of the kitchen, Kinah? The overseer won’t much care that your hands are soft and your hair smells like cinnamon if he catches you out here.”

Despite his admonishment, Ben turned and wrapped his arms around her shoulders, pressing a kiss to her forehead as he held her tight. Had he not been so close, he wouldn’t have seen her wince. He was on his feet in a breath, pulling her up with him.

 

“Let me see.”

 

There was really no point in playing dumb. Carefully, she pulled the collar of her dress bodice down, revealing a fresh set of bruises around her neck and shoulders. Ben ran a calloused hand gingerly along the raised welts, his dark eyes clouding over with fury as he hissed a slow stream of air out from between clenched teeth.

 

There wasn’t a soul on the plantation that didn’t know better than to try to talk down an incensed Ben. But then again, Kinah’s head was easily as strong as her brother’s. Quietly, she slipped her hand into the tattered pocket on the front of her dress and pulled out the small red apple.

 

“I brought a gift for Chango,” she smiled and placed the stolen fruit on the ground by the lump of candle. The sun glinted off the apple, blurring her vision. Or maybe it was unshed tears in her eyes. Deep in her throat, a lump burned.

 

Kinah had long since given up any hopes that the gods of her homeland would somehow make her life any better. Resigned, she simply spent her days in the kitchen and her nights waiting for Mister to come for her. But she knew how much Ben’s faith meant to him. It was all he had. So she played along, and let him believe that she prayed as hard as he did.

 

“I better get back before –“

 

“Before someone notices your gone? I’m afraid it’s too late for that, girl.”

 

Spinning around, they came face to face with Tobi. Mister’s favorite overseer was crueler than anyone had a right to be; his fingers petting the frayed edges of the whip with a reverence usually reserved for lovers.

 

Everything seemed to spill forward in muddled slow motion. Tobi reaching for the handle on his whip, Ben pushing her aside and rushing forward towards the overseer.

 

Stumbling against the Kapok tree, Kinah felt the spine slice into her palm before scrambling back up towards her older brother.

 

At first she thought the rumbling and cracking was coming from Tobi’s whip. But even as he raised his hand again, the sky darkened to the color of spilled ink, a hot wind picking up dust and pebbles until Kinah had no choice but to shield her face and turn her head back towards the tree, where her blood dripped, thick and slow, over the apple.

 

The thunder roared louder, seemingly rolling across the fields to mix with the screaming wind and the shrill cries that she hadn’t even noticed were escaping from her. And then, as suddenly as it began, the wind died. Still trembling, Kinah looked up at Ben, only to find his gaze fixed back at her. Or rather, just behind her.

 

Spinning around, it took her eyes a moment to adjust to the light erupting all around the tree. Flames licked at the hem of her skirt, and before she could scream again, a man stepped from the center of the fire. Only, “man” seemed too light a word for the figure. Easily towering over even Ben, he seemed a mix of royalty and unadulterated power. Even as her mind refused to acknowledge it, Kinah knew she was looking at the orisha of justice and war himself.

 

“Chango…” Ben’s harsh whisper echoed her thoughts.

 

Behind them, Tobi spewed venom and grabbed for his whip again. A single wordless look from Chango had him dropping the bundle of leather, the telltale hiss of skin and smoldering flesh letting everyone know what had happened. In the blink of an eye he ran off, gripping his burned hand as he called blindly for help.

 

It was then that the rumble of thunder began to blend with the distant pounding of a drum beat.

 

Ben fell to his knees in front of the deity, and Kinah watched in wonder as the raw slices of flesh that had been sliced open by Tobi’s merciless hand sealed themselves. Behind Chango, the fire died down, and a doorway appeared at the base of the tree. Feeling her brother’s hand wrapped around her own, Kinah felt the warm embrace of hope for the first time in her young life. Together, they walked towards the door.

 

Towards uncertainty and, for the first time, a future.

On The Peculiar Pets of Miss Pleasance

Being a reader with lady parts, I’m not ashamed to say that I indulge in the occasional romance novel. In fact, I have often said that a well-written romance is my dream gig, and will most likely be the first thing I actually publish of my own. However, I will be the first to admit that I am all kinds of picky when it comes to my girlie reading. I’m all about a good plot first and foremost. I’ll take a little paranormal with my story, as long as it’s not all throbbing members and heaving bosoms. In fact, I tend to steer clear of anything that doesn’t have a modern setting, and have been known to toss aside a freshly purchased novel at the first sign of a heroine that can’t seem to find her own backbone.

Maybe that’s why I’d avoided the whole steampunk thing thus far. Hey, I’m not normally one to roll my eyes at an entire genre without giving it at least an honest to goodness shot first, but it all seemed a little out of my comfort zone.

And then, in the midst of my quasi Twitter stalking (Twaking?) swearalicious author Chuck Wendig and Stephen Blackmoore (who’s Dead Things I absolutely could NOT put down) I stumbled across another author with lady parts – Miss Delilah S. Dawson. If you’re the Twittering kind, I highly recommend you check all three of them out, as they are Twitterific. At any rate, it didn’t take long for me to develop a total word-crush on Miss Dawson. I figured if she could keep me chuckling and entertained and thinking with 140 characters or less, it would definitely be worth checking out what she could do with a whole novel.

As it turned out, her brand spanking new novella, The Peculiar Pets of Miss Pleasance was due out in 48 hours. I figured it would be the perfect gateway into the whole steampunk romance world, as well as a peek into her Wicked series of novels. Boy, am I glad I gave it a shot!

First and foremost – yes, it’s part of a series. But, I didn’t read anything that came before this, and I didn’t feel the least bit lost. I will say that I probably would have felt more “in the know” had I read Wicked as They Come first, but all in all, I had no trouble keeping up.

The whole tale takes place in Sang, a parallel world crafted by Dawson where live animals are a rarity, and living, breathing pets are rarer still. In the midst of this somewhat Dickensian London sits Needful Creatures – an actual pet shop run by Frannie Pleasance. Frannie happens across a needful creature in the form of Casper, a fellow that reminds her of her late brother. She gives the drunken cad room and board, and it isn’t long before he’s flirting away.

And then we meet Thom – a sexy Scottish fireman in a kilt. Think a love triangle is coming? Think again.

Soon, strange things start happening to and around Frannie, and it’s obvious that someone is out to do the feisty pet shop owner harm.

Dawson weaves an incredibly detailed story, making you feel a part of her world from page one. The character development is quick, which is important in a work this short. I found myself immediately drawn to Frannie, and relating to her – despite (or maybe because of?) the whole steampunk vibe. Oh and Thom? Totally yummy hero.

Five stars to The Peculiar Pets of Miss Pleasance, and I’ll definitely be reading more of Delilah S. Dawson’s work in the near future. Hey, who knows, maybe she’ll swing by and write a guest post? (A girl can dream, can’t she?!)

Writers Write!

 

Writers write!

When I first set my stubborn Cuban-bred mind to become a wordsmith, that was my mantra. I sat down at my clunky old computer one fine afternoon and decided that I was going to do it — finally!– I was going to follow my passion and disregard every well-meaning piece of advice I’ve ever gotten. I was hereby a writer, dangit, and writers WRITE!

Well, what nobody told me was that writers also have to pay the rent and keep the lights on. That’s when I set the idea of Barnes and Nobel book signings and long lines of adoring fans waiting overnight in the rain to scoop up my latest novel on the back burner. Hey, it’s not that I gave up on my dream, but no one wants to fight Big Earl for the least soggy box under the overpass. I became a freelance writer, picking up various jobs writing for websites, advertising companies, online magazines, and the occasional BDSM club. (Rent, remember?)

And along the way, I discovered something fascinating. I wasn’t stewing at the keyboard every day, sobbing into my latte about how I’d sold out and become something I was ashamed of. Instead, I was  having a great time. I was writing! And learning all kinds of various things, which is awesome for a word nerd. I picked up a job writing about lingerie and swimwear for a fabulous company. I learned how to write radio copy and heard my work on the air. I found out that leather chaps can chafe a little if you’re not careful…

At any rate, I’ve come to love my job as a freelancer, as it affords me the opportunity to explore and write about just about everything. Do I still yearn to see my name on a hardcover, clutched in the hands of a slightly rabid fan who secretly dreams of tying me up, Misery style because they can’t get enough? Of course. Which is why I’ve worked writing fiction back into my 3 year plan. But I’m not sure I’ll ever give up the freelance gig completely, because I’ve really grown to love the freedom it gives me to explore things I might never have written about otherwise.

Well, unless I fall into a soft patch and stumble across a winning lottery ticket worth a couple mil. Then you’ll find me on a private yacht, heading towards the Greek Isles as I dictate my memoir to a cute scribe with broad shoulders…