Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Smelly scents

Science fiction erotica author Shaunna Wolf joins us today. Her stories are hot, hot, hot, but her humor is cool. Help us welcome her. :)

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Today is my birthday, I'm not a party kinda person so there won't be any drinking, staying out all night or clubbing, and since my husband is not in the state at the moment, there won't be any birthday sex. No one will stop by either. When you live with several non-domestic type critters, people tend to honk the horn and wait for you to come out to them on the rare occasion they do come by.

So I decided to do the next best thing: go shopping. I don't mind shopping too much--I'm mostly an in and out kinda woman. I know what I want, have a list and coupons and, zoom, in I go prepared to battle the surging crowds and shortages of things on sale.

Being it's my birthday, I got to thinking about birthdays past, get out the good china and the glasses my mom collected when I was a kid. She got them out of Tide detergent. They even had a picture on the box of the glass inside--the box was bright orange, the box of Cheer next to it blue--nothing on those boxes said anything about what the stuff inside supposedly made your clothes smell like. The focus was on getting your clothes clean.

Now, packages scream Ocean Breeze--have you ever been to the ocean? Why do I want my clothes to smell like seaweed, dead fish, and salt air with an over scent of ozone? How about Spring Rain--wet blacktop and worms anyone? Everything seems to need a screaming scent designed to make you want to buy it sure that you must stink like a dirty litter box if you don't. You can't even pick up a magazine without being assaulted by these stinking scents.

Your car should smell like new even if it's old, your house must have a scent for every room, and your clothes should smell like they just came out of the dryer even if it's ten days later--is that after they were worn--that would be some trick. Where was that miracle the last time I went camping?

It's not so much that I object to scents, I like to use candles, melting scents and incense--I have critters after all--my main objection is this:

Why do I have to pay extra to have something unscented? Would you pay extra for a car without seats? A computer without an operating system? Foam contraception without spermicide?

Of course not, we wouldn't buy it. So why do we pay extra to get a product without stinky stuff added? I mean they add dye, they add scent, they add bleach, so why do I have to pay more to get less? Either the companies are stupid, or we the consumers are . . .

Personally, I think the companies think we are brainless. Like the people who think milk comes from a factory, like a soft drink, and not from cows at any point in its production. I have had arguments with these out of touch people who end the argument with, "Well, maybe your milk comes from a cow, but mine doesn't." Umm, ok. Maybe they are the CEO's of the charge-more-for-less-companies.

Sitting in their corner office, they have a picture of the factory where their product comes from, stuff delivered in a big tanker truck--now that it has arrived, it has to go through dye removal, that costs money, and then scent removal, that costs more. Yeah, that's got to be it.

And like thinness, everything points to the idea that we need to smell like Musk, or Black Ice, or whatever the popular idea is . . . really? Raccoons smell musky, no way I want to smell like that, and Black Ice, I've never gotten out of the car after doing donuts on it to get down on the highway and sniff it, so how do I know if I want to smell like it, but there it is--the media says my house etc. should have long lasting freshness in the form of these scents, and if I don't want to smell that way, well there you go, get your wallet out it's going to cost you more to have the scent removed.

Maybe I should move to Italy, as a culture, they accept that people smell like, well, people. Homes smell like Mama's meatballs and sauce. And windows get opened and comforters get hung out of windows to catch the morning breeze, true morning breeze fresh. All I have to do is sell my house, get a plane ticket, buy a house in Italy . . .

I saved forty-six dollars on my grocery bill, with coupons, including the $3.00 off on Tide free and clear making it only .50 cents more than the smelly stuff and a lot cheaper than moving to Italy.

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Jezren Darksky left Earth behind for the lure of the stars, and to escape her life on the streets. Accepted into the renowned Night Bird Warrior's Guild she never expects to find the love of her life in the form of an alien man and then lose him. After chasing three fugitives across ten worlds, and nearly losing her life in the process, Jezren returns to the Guild Home world to mark her husband's death. Lonely and guilt-ridden, Jezren makes a discovery in the arms of another non-human man that will change her life forever.


"You shouldn't have tried to touch my sword. If my hand hadn't been on it..." She poured another shot of whiskey and tossed it into the fire. The flames flared brightly, lapping up the alcohol in a quick burst.

He reached with a serpent's speed and caught her hand. "I didn't want to touch your sword..." He cleared his throat and grasped her hand tighter. "I have to touch you," he whispered.

Jezren made to pull her hand out of his. He touched his lips to the back of her hand. Very slowly, his tongue slid over her flesh, long, thin at the tip getting thicker near his lips. Like his lips, it was a lighter shade of blue than the rest of him and cat rough. Jezren sucked in a breath, quick, hard-she made a small attempt to take her hand away.

He continued to stare at her, his gaze locked with hers. His ice-blue eyes now looked tinged with purple. Whiskey fire burned through her insides and streaked into her loins when he wound his tongue around one of her fingers, not just once, but in two blue swirls. He slowly pulled it back into his mouth-sliding it off one finger before circling the next one.

Jezren shivered, sure her sudden desire would be soaking the chair seat soon. Using her free hand, she took a sip of the costly amber liquid in the small bottle. She'd already had too much, not so much she couldn't think for herself, but enough that he, with his seductive tongue, had won her will.

"Perhaps," she whispered, "I should know your name." He continued to wrap and unwrap his tongue around her fingers. He turned her arm and pushed her sleeve up so he could lick the inside of her arm.

"Names, what does a name really matter?" he asked without stopping his attention to her arm.

She gasped, aware of others in the room staring at them even though she'd closed her eyes, the heat growing between her legs hotter already than the fire in the hearth. When he stroked his nails down the now sensitive flesh of her arm, she sat up straight and stared directly at him. She reached to touch his braid-her fingers meeting with smooth strands of silkiness. He laughed in a soft way that sung on her nerves and made her squeeze her legs together in self-pleasure. She could no longer sit still.

Shifting positions, she pushed the bottle to the side and leaned toward him. "I have a room," she whispered.

Catching her by surprise, he pushed his mouth against hers. His tongue rasped across her lips, probing, but waiting for her permission. She parted her lips and let her tongue touch his. His mouth tasted sweet, overlain with the smooth touch of the whiskey. Only by pushing against his chest with her palm could she make herself move back from him.

A flash of laughter came to her, Din'arik's. Jezren had repeated an oft said thing among the humans at the academy-Din'arik resembled a demon-who knew what he might expect from a human woman or what his "thing" might be like. So many of the human women who came to the academy were such proper prudes. Among the students, there had been two groups-those who stayed with their own kind, and those who deliberately sought out other races for both friendship and partnership. Jezren had almost learned the hard way that not all races were compatible with each other-barbs being the least of it.

His musical laughter came again, and at last his deep voice, shaking, almost unsure. "Lady, you will enjoy me-I have been with human women before," he told her. His tongue went around her fingers again, promising pleasure in other places.

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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

There's a Hole in the Bucket

M/M author Jaime Samms joins us today. As I read her blog post, I wonder if she is married to the same man as I am. (g) Nah! This is just a male affliction.

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In all that follows, as with anything I write, I ask you to keep two things in mind. First, I'm a writer and an artist. Hyperbole is a tool, not a sin. Second, I write from life. I'll let you decide where the following post falls on that continuum :)

I'm pretty sure most of us are familiar with the song: "There's a Hole in My Bucket" You know, there's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza, a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, a hole. Then fix it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry, then fix it, dear Henry, fix it...." and so on.

I think it's time we re-wrote the song for modern times, and we can base it on, well, my morning so far.

It's Saturday morning. Hubby has already promised to take the kids to dance class and leave me free to do my thing for the day. So we all sleep in, and when I finally crack an eyelid to look at the clock, I see they have about forty minutes to dress, eat, pack a lunch and dance clothes and go catch the bus. I gently wake hubby, and he mutters something, the only clear word of which is 'coffee.'

Good enough. I can oblige, seeing as how I need some too.

I get to the kitchen (keeping in mind, I've been working out of the house all this past week, as well as finalizing my latest MS for submission, and he's been home with the kids.)

Me: *at the door to the kitchen* "Uh.... Hubby?"

Him: "Mmmfffrhh?" *heads to the shower*

Me: "The coffee pot is buried, dear Hubby, dear Hubby, the coffee pot is buried, dear Hubby, buried."

Him: "Under what is it buried..." (I'm lazy, you fill in the rest)

Me: "Under dishes, dear Hubby...dirty dishes."

Him: "Then wash them, dear Wifey...wash them." *heads for shower*

Me: "Pizza boxes in the sink, dear Hubby,...and crumbs"

Him: "Recycle them, dear Wifey...recycle"

Me: "The bins are all full, dear Hubby...overflowing"

Him: "Then empty them, dear Wifey....downstairs." *heads from shower to bedroom*

Me: "But the stairs are all blocked, dear Hubby....break my neck falling."

Him: "With what are they blocked, dear Wifey...with what?"

Me: "Clean clothes, dear Hubby...your shorts."

Him: "Well fold them, dear Wifey...fold them." *rooting through his dresser for clothes*

Me: "Where should I fold them, dear Hubby...oh where?"


Him: "At the table, dear Wifey...the dining table.

Me: "But the dishes dear Hubby...they're everywhere."

Him: "Oh shit!!!!! We're late!" *pokes his head out of the bedroom* "Did you wash my underwear and socks this week?"

Me: O.o

So, they did leave eventually. I did the dishes, washed the laundry left sitting in the washer (again), hung up a load, folded the week's worth of clean stuff, emptied the kitchen recycling into the bins downstairs, and swept the floors. Poured myself a nice warm cup of coffee in preparation for getting on with writing and opened the fridge to find the cream carton was there....empty. I settled for milk, reached for the sugar bowl to find it...wait for it....empty. *sigh*

So now I'm off to the corner store for cream and sugar, and you know what? Don't care if I have to pay twenty bucks for them. I work three full time jobs around here. I bloody well earned cream and brown sugar in my coffee!

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Tyler should know; as an ad executive, the packaging is what sells. And Jake is quite a package. So what if neither long-time friend Marty nor his landlady think much of Jake. Tyler is determined not to see the dark side of his lover, but when the truth becomes undeniable, not even an evening soaked in martinis will let him hide from it.

Weathering Jake's lies and secrets gets easier under the sheltering support of new friends, Libby and Steven. In fact, Tyler figures a lot of things might get easier with gorgeous, attentive Steven around.

Tyler should have known better. Again. Not even someone as seemingly perfect as Steven Jessop comes completely as advertised. This time, though, Tyler has to make a decision. After all, even if what you see is not what you get, Steven's imperfections might just be what he's always wanted, if only he can sell Steven on giving love another chance.

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Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Repost from another blogspot.

On Monday, because I’d let the housework go to hell the previous week, I decided I’d better clean. Properly. Not just one of those quick tidy-ups. So the bathroom thought Christmas had come early, and so did my cooker.

Now, I rarely clean the inside of my cooker. Disgusting of me, I know, but I also know there are many others out there who don’t do that either (come on, admit it!). Said cooker had started to, err, smoke a bit and smell when I turned it on. That might have had something to do with the charred cheese that drips off pizzas (highly bugging) and various other bits of food that seem to jump off the trays while cooking.

A weird side of me wonders if food indeed has feelings, deciding it’s bloody hot in there, and attempts a break-out.

Okay, forget I admitted I think odd things like that…

Anyway, Husband, the dear, had the week off. As I don’t clean on weekends unless I’m feeling insane (he does it), he rarely sees me when I’m cleaning. I kinda forgot he was home and did my usual sing-and-dance routine, paying particular attention, and going at it with much glee, to the part in Aretha Franklin’s Respect where the backing singers go: Whoop!

So, I’m cleaning away…

What you want! WHOOP! Baby, I got it! WHOOP! What you need! WHOOP! You know I got it!

And then I remembered he was home. So I said, “Pardon me, dear, but this is how I act when I’m alone.”

Note those words, my beauties…

About an hour later, after leaving the spray oven cleaner stuff to do its work, I decided it was time to wipe that off and have a sparkling oven again. One where I can actually SEE through the glass door. (Don’t… I’m foul.)

So, I proceeded to take off my jeans.

Hubby looked at me as though he thought the same as the bathroom (Christ, Santa read my mind…) and asked, “What are you doing, love?”

“I’m taking my jeans off,” I said.

“Umm, is this another one of your daily rituals I’m unaware of?” (Possibly thinking: Just what does this woman do when I’m at work, for God’s sake? I thought she wrote!)

“No,” I said. “Just going to clean the oven.”

His confused face was TOO funny, and I went off to do my scrubbing in just my knickers, bra and top.

There was a reason for this mad behaviour. I’d been wearing white jeans. I’ve made the mistake in the past of cleaning while wearing this colour, or wearing black and getting a great big bleach splash on my clothes. But, you can bet your bottom dollar that now, when Hubby emails during the day and asks, “What you up to, love? Everything all right?” and I answer, “Cleaning the windows…” he’s going to be praying to the dear Lord above that I’m fully clothed and NOT outside with my knickers on show!

Monday, 23 May 2011

The Wrong Funeral, or Why I Am Not Catholic

The hilarious and quirky Helen H. E. Madden brings us a tale of humor and poignancy.

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So Marci asked me to write about something funny for a guest blog post. I tend to write about whatever is on my mind at the time, and recently the topic has been religion. You see, my husband is a good Catholic boy, by which I mean he is Catholic, he is male, and he knows how to keep me happy in bed. I, however, am not Catholic, but I have learned over the years that being married to a good Catholic boy means I sometimes have to endure being dragged to church. Around our house, we refer to Christmas and Easter as "Drag-Your-Buddhist-to-Church Day" and everyone takes bets as to how long it will be before I burst into flames once I'm seated in the pews.

This past month, thanks to my daughter taking First Communion, I have been dragged to church repeatedly, so often in fact that people have started to ask, "Have you been barbequing, or is that hickory smoke perfume you're wearing?" These comments are inevitably followed by the question, "So why aren't you Catholic yet?" You see, there is a process by which I could be transformed from a godless heathen Buddhist to a good Catholic, but I have vowed never to go through that process. And why would I never do that, you may ask?

It's because I once went to the wrong funeral.

Yes, you read that right. See, here's what happened. I first started going to church with my husband early in our marriage. On one of these visits, I was cornered by a gruff old man with a booming voice and bushy eyebrows that looked ready to crawl off his face and eat me alive.

"What's the matter with you?!" he blustered as he shook his cane at me. "I see you sittin' in church, but you don't sing any of the hymns. What's wrong? Your mouth don't work?"

"My mouth works fine," I replied. "But I don't sing the hymns because I'm Buddhist."

"What?" he bellowed. "You're NUDIST?!"

"No, Dad!" said his daughter, coming up behind him. "She said Buddhist, not nudist."

"Oooooooooooh..." the man said. Then he turned back to me and snorted. "Too bad, the other would have been more interesting. By the way, my name is Bill."

And that's how I came to be friends with Bill. Every time I showed up at church with my husband, Bill would come up to me and ask if I was ready to convert. He always started these conversations by serenading me with an Irish love song. He sang very beautifully and very LOUDLY, so loudly that everyone in the church always knew when I was there. Once, Bill ran into me at a Barnes and Nobles, and he started singing to me there too. It scared the hell out of the sales clerks, but it made me completely fall in love with the old guy.

Right after the Irish love song, Bill always asked me the same question. When was I going to convert? "Come on," he'd say. "I'll be your sponsor. I'll teach you to be a bead mumbler, a fish eater! We'll have fun."

I always demurred. "Thank you, Bill. I know you'd make a great sponsor, but I'm just not ready to convert."

"Well, get ready! I'm an old man. I can't die until you convert!"

"Well I guess you're never dying," I'd tease.

Then one afternoon, I got a phone call from the church.

"Hello?" a woman said. "Are you on the funeral tree?"

"The what?!" I replied.

"The funeral tree. You know, when someone dies, we call two people and then they call two people and they call two more people and so on and so on..."

"Sounds too much like a Faberge commercial to me," I said. "No, I'm not on the funeral tree."

"Oh, well then I guess I should tell you that Bill died."

That stopped me cold. "What?! I don't believe it! Bill died? When?"

The woman gave me the details about how Bill had suffered a massive heart attack two days earlier and his funeral was to be held that Saturday. I tearfully told her my husband and I would be there and I hung up. Sobbing, I called Michael and passed on the bad news.

"Bill died!" I cried into the phone.

"What?! When?"

And so I told him the details.

"Oh honey," he said. "I'm so sorry to hear it. We'll go to the funeral mass on Saturday, okay?"

I sniffed and sobbed and said okay, then hung up the phone and spent the rest of the week being miserable. On Saturday, I put on my nicest dress and rode with Michael to the church.

"I still can't believe Bill died," I kept saying, over and over and over again.

"Me neither," Michael would reply. "He was so intent on getting you to convert."

We arrived at the church and got out of the car. As we walked through the parking lot, we kept repeating ourselves.

"I just can't believe he died!"

"I know. It's such a shock."

"Seriously! How could Bill just die like that? He was supposed to convert me first!"

The conversation continued all the way into the church. As we were sitting down in the pews, I said it again.

"I cannot believe Bill died!"

"Neither can I," Michael said, a strange look suddenly coming over his face. "Because he's sitting right over there in the choir!"


Sure enough, Bill was alive and well and sitting in the choir, waiting to sing for the funeral mass. I jumped out of my seat and raced over to him.

"You're supposed to be DEAD!!" I shouted at him.

"Who, me? Oh no, that was Bill Smith who died last week. I'm fine. Say, when are you gonna convert?"

And then he started singing 'My Wild Irish Rose' to me.

A few years passed. During that time, I had two children, both of whom were baptized at the church. Bill was there to congratulate me at each event, always ready with a love song and his plea for my conversion. Sometime after that, we moved to a different parish, and I didn't see Bill as often anymore, which was a shame. The one day I was flipping through the newspaper and I ran across an obituary for...

You guessed it. Bill.

He had suffered a heart attack and passed away a few days before. This time I knew it was him. There was a photo of him at the top of the obituary. In tears, I called my husband, this time to let him know Bill had really, truly died.

"Honey, I'm so sorry," he said. "We'll go to the funeral mass on Saturday."

So once again, on Saturday I dressed up and piled into the car with my husband and our girls. All the way over to the church, Michael and I reminisced about Bill and his Irish love songs, and once again we kept saying the same thing over and over again.

"I can't believe he's dead! He said he couldn't die until I converted!"

"I know, honey. I can't believe it either."

"And he's really dead this time!"

"Yes, he is. We both saw the photo in the newspaper."

"But I can't believe it. How can Bill be dead?"

All the way to the church, we kept repeating ourselves. In the parking, we said it over and over again.

"I can't believe he's dead! I just can't!"

And then, just as we reached the sidewalk leading up to the church doors, a car pulled up. A young man got out of the front seat and walked around to the back of the car. He opened the door, and out stepped...


If I could have died of shock, I would have done it then. Instead, I turned to my husband and screeched.


Michael just stared, his jaw slack. "I know! I saw it too. I don't understand!"

I started tearing my hair out. "This isn't happening! This can't be happening! I cannot have gone to the wrong funeral for the same man twice!"

At that point, Bill turned and smiled at me.

"Good afternoon, madam. What lovely children you have! Tell me, are they both boys?"

Boys? BOYS?! I looked at my girls in their pretty pink dresses and then glared at Bill. He smirked at me with his usual charm.

"Hey, do you guys like music?" he asked.

Oh, this was it. Any second now, Bill was going to start singing Irish love songs to me. I thought I would faint. But then something very strange happened. Bill reached into his suit jacket and...

He pulled out a harmonica.

"You two girls know the ABC song?" he boomed to my daughters. They nodded and he smiled. "Good! Then you can sing along!"

So we walked down the sidewalk together, Bill playing the harmonica and the girls and I singing the ABC song. I had never, in all the years I had known him, seen Bill play a harmonica. It also occurred to me then that I had never seen Bill wear a VFW cap either, and didn't he seem a bit shorter than usual? I mean, yeah, the man was dead, but getting shorter wasn't supposed to be a side effect of dying, was it?

When we reached the doors of the church, the young man who had escorted Bill out of the car came up and fussed.

"Enough with the music!" he told Bill. "Don't you know this is a funeral?"

"Oh, a funeral is it?" Bill blustered. "Did you guys know this was a funeral? I didn't know we were going to a funeral!"

I started to giggle. "You know, I know who's funeral this is, and I don't think he'd mind a little music."

Bill smiled at me. "I knew him too, and he wouldn't mind at all."

Then the young man took Bill into the chapel and my family and I went to the reception area to meet Bill's family. When I found Bill's daughter, I asked her a question.

"Say, did your dad have a brother?"

She snorted. "Oh yeah! And they look exactly alike!"

"Oh thank god!"

Then I told her about how we had gone to the wrong funeral a few years earlier and found her father still alive, sitting in the choir. And I told her how we had all had a heart attack just moments before when her uncle arrived at the church. She laughed so hard, she had tears coming down her cheeks.

"Thanks for that!" she told me. "I've never heard a better story at a funeral in all my life. Dad would have loved it!"

And so that's why I will never convert to Catholicism. Because I know, even though I've been to his funeral twice now, Bill is still out there somewhere waiting to convert me. And so long as I don't convert, that man can never die.

I look forward to hearing what Irish love song he sings to me the next time we meet.

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Helen E. H. Madden, also known as Cynical Woman, is a writer and artist who quit her lucrative day job years ago with no idea what she might do next. Since then, she's written and produced 165 short stories for the Heat Flash Erotica Podcast (http://www.heatflash.libsyn.com). Her erotica short story collections, "Future Perfect" and "Welcome to Mundania", are published by Logical-Lust (http://www.logical-lust.com). She is currently podcasting her second novel, "The Little Death," a tale about telepathy, government conspiracies, and the dangers of the human touch.

Helen's art projects include her webcomics, "The Adventures of Cynical Woman" and "Rats!" She also runs VeryScaryArt.com, an online gallery of children's artwork about scary stuff. She is very much in love with zombies right now, but that's probably because she is one, and could someone please explain the concept of "sleep" to her? Because she's never experienced it herself.

Visit Helen's websites at:


Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/Cynical_Woman

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Why can't hair just stay where it belongs?

I am not talking about the hair on my head. I rarely spend time doing it. Even when I dress up, in order for curl to stay, I have to use Dippity-Doo and hairspray. Like everything else on my body (or so it seems), my hair has a mind of its own.

I've had hair in socially inappropriate places for a long time. I think I started getting lip hair just after puberty. Fortunately for me, my sister is a beautician and could "rip my lip" once a month or so. Now, ten, or so, years later, the fur has decreased quite a bit...except for that one hair that has turned into a dark, stiff whisker. (sigh) While I can see it now, when I reach my mother's age, I don't know if I will be able to. At which point, I'll have one long hair curling over my lip and perhaps fanning out into a moustache. It will be soooo attractive!

However, the once somewhat dense hair from my lip has migrated to a scar on my chin. Okay. Not just a scar. That hair that started as just one has long since multiplied and spread from the scar to a few patches on the chin. It's not soft hair either. It's prickly and coarse. And some of it is transparent, or so it seems. I can't see it, but I sure can feel it. If I touch that area and feel a prickle, it will drive me crazy until I've plucked that sucker out. God help me if I am in the car or some other place far, far away from my tweezers. I will be fixated on that damn hair the entire time. Conversation is nearly impossible. Any thought but getting that hair out of my chin is nearly impossible. (Obsess much?)

Now, this chin hair drives me nuts. How does it grow so fast? Seriously, I can pluck them daily, and it seems that a "new" one appears as if by magic by the evening. But you were just strip-mined, you damn pieces of *&#@!

Why couldn't other parts of my body be that efficient? Huh?

For instance, why doesn't my metabolism process fat and sugar that quickly? Hm? No more cellulite for me. That would be really nifty. And why doesn't my skin rejuvenate as quickly as that so that I don't have any wrinkles? I could handle that too. But, no, I have to have chin hair on Miracle Gro.

It's just so wrong.

And, as a woman, if we have hair growing out of the chin, on your lips, or a stray one poking out of the cheek (which I've seen on my older relatives and could soon be my fate--ARGH!), if we don't pluck, wax, shave, or get a laser treatment, we will be marked as a bearded lady. While a man who may be afflicted with man boobs might be ridiculed a bit, but he does not get quite as much as a woman with facial hair. (Dude Look Like a Lady. Yeah, yeah, dude look like a lady.) Perhaps it's because he has facial hair and that little doohickey between his legs. (g) All right, saying "little" is unkind, but, at this moment, after a bout with the tweezers in front of the mirror, I am not feeling particularly kind. So, forgive me if I disparage them just a little.

Pant... pant... pant...

All right, I think I need to go lie down for a bit. These chin hairs have me all worked up.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Where Have They Gone?

Author Cherie Reich joins us today and discusses something that I think many of us have found, much to our dismay. Why? Why do companies do this? I don't have an answer, but I think Cherie has a good idea of what to do about it. (grin)

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Although they say you shouldn't pick favorites, I do. It's human nature to have favorite items, but what do you do when those great things disappear?

A few years ago, my favorite soup was Campbell's Old Fashioned Tomato Rice Soup. I would eat it one to two times a week. No other soup could measure up to the rice and tomato within. It went perfectly with cheese and crackers. A real soup you could scoop up and enjoy. Slowly, we realized that less and less of the soup was in the store. We and quite a few other patrons would scour the soup aisle for a single can of Old Fashioned Tomato Rice Soup. It was the first aisle we went to in every store carrying soup. When we found the cans, we would buy them all, not leaving one for someone else. Stingy? Yes. Do I regret it? No. Then there were no more cans. No more favorite soup. And, no, it's not the same using tomato soup and adding rice. It really isn't, so don't suggest it. The tomato part of the soup tasted different. They took it away.

I've slowly grown use to Campbell's Healthy Choice Tomato Soup, but nothing compares to the tomato rice soup. It isn't the last thing gone either.

I started using John Freida's Weather-Control Conditioner. It worked pretty well, but it was getting harder and harder to find it at Walmart. It, too, disappeared, but I've moved on. There're always other types of conditioner.

I could get over the conditioner. I still miss the soup, but nothing prepared me for the next item to disappear.

I used to eat Yoplait YoPlus Strawberry Yogurt. It was the absolute perfect yogurt. Sweet but not too sweet. A perfect consistency, not too liquidy and not thick like Greek Yogurt. It had real pieces of fruit in it. My cat Romeo even loved it. I ate it every day religiously. Then it became hard to find. I would scour Walmart, Kroger, other grocery stores. Sometimes I would find it. Sometimes not. Then they removed the price tag from the shelves. No more Yoplait YoPlus Yogurt. The most perfect yogurt in the world was gone. It's been a couple months. I've tried all sorts of other yogurt. Right now I'm eating Activia yogurt with the granola. It's…edible. The granola really helps. It's not the same. Not at all.

They also took the cat treats I had been getting.

Where does it end? Why remove an object that people buy? That people love?

Bastards! Everyone of them.

Is it just me? Or have you found old favorites disappearing off the shelves never to be seen again?

Perhaps it is time for a horror story…one of sweet vengeance against a certain company.

I'd really like my yogurt back.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Author Bio: Cherie Reich is a writer, freelance editor, and library assistant living in Virginia. Her works have appeared in various magazines and anthologies, and her horror ebook Once Upon a December Nightmare is published by Wild Child Publishing. She is a member of Valley Writers and the Virginia Writers Club and placed third in Roanoke Valley's Big Read writing contest.


  1. Website: http://cheriereich.webs.com
  2. Blog: http://cheriereich.blogspot.com
  3. Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/bookworm0753
  4. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/authorcheriereich

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Hair, Hair, and More Hair

Yes, I know we've discussed this before, but I find tends to be a never ending battle of sorts. Unfortunately, hair often seems to win. O_o

A few Christmases ago, Charlie asked me what I wanted. I told him I wanted a buzzer for my legs, something to shave them with when they get hairy, which happens more frequently than he likes because, well, I just don't care to shave my legs often. You see, when I let the hair on my legs grow, because that few extra minutes to shave my legs is just too long, a bushwhacker would have a hard time mowing it down. Seriously, I have some hairy-ass legs. Poor Charlie has to put up with it probably about six months out of the year. Because once it grows, I'm going to need a buzzer just to get it down to stubble before I can use a razor on it for that silky smooth feeling. I learned that in high school. (Two hours and four or five quality blades later, the bottom half of my legs were bare. And, no, I'm not kidding.) I'm not quite as bad as Sasquatch, and Charlie still has hairier legs than me, but my legs are hairy.

So, I ask for a buzzer for Christmas. It's not an exciting present, but, hey, it's something I need. And now that I am, um, 29--again, I can find my excitement in other areas. (grin)

It'd been more than a few months since I'd shaved. The forest was thick. I couldn't wait to open that buzzer and start clear cutting. (And, no, I don't replant as that hair grows rather quickly. grin) Charlie handed me the gift, his eyes shining with anticipation, I ripped it open, and my mother, sister, and I laughed. The excitement in his eyes snuffed out. I didn't mean to laugh, but I couldn't help myself. Charlie hadn't taken me seriously when I'd said, "Buzzer." He'd bought me the Remington Smooth & Silky, always smooth, always silky. Uh-huh.

"You don't like it?" he asked.

"Well, honey, I asked you for a buzzer, not a lady's shaver. This thing won't even scratch the surface. I'd like it...if I used these things. They just don't work on my legs." (Nor does Nair, but that's another story.)

"Oh." He looked down. "Well, I guess you'll be buying yourself a buzzer."

I grinned. "Yup."

Fast forward nearly a year and three months later. I'm on my way to EPICon in Colonial Williamsburg. Razors aren't allowed in carryon on flights. (Because, you know, I might actually nick someone with it. Of course, when I think about some of the nicks I've done to myself...) I think, well, my leg hair is stubbly. I'll try this Smooth & Silky razor. I can use it in the shower. It might be pretty cool.


It's Saturday night. I have thirty minutes or so to get ready for the gala. I'm going to wear my gold-sequined dress. I want my legs smooth and silky. The razor has been charging for the past couple of days. It's ready; I'm ready; the hair is ready. Only one problem: it doesn't work. That's right. I run that stupid, ass shaver over my legs several times and not one single stubble falls. No little pieces of hair in the bottom of the tub. Nothing. My hair just laughs at the shaver (kind of like it did with the Nair some, um, ten, or so, years ago.)

Soaking wet, I leap out of the shower, wrap a towel around me, and dash across the hall to see if one of my fellow con goers has a razor. Any old razor (because the gift shop had nothing--I checked earlier just in case something like this happened). Would you believe one of those throw away razors worked better than this $30 (whatever it was) shaver? That's just sad.

Later, I find this little card included with the shaver instructions. (Yes, there is an entire pamphlet on how to use the shaver--because, apparently, I am too stupid to know how to use a shaver. Again, another blog for another time.) This card says:

"Your skin needs approximately 3 weeks to adjust to your new Remington shaver after using a blade.

"Once your skin adjusts, you'll get an incredibly close, comfortable shave GUARANTEED. For best results, clean your shaver after each use."

Okay, peeps, after reading about my leg hair, how do you think my legs will look after three weeks of use by this sad excuse of a shaver?

Eep! Time to bring out the buzzer!

I hate throwing things away, but who would want to use a piece of well-marketed crap like this? Maybe I'll find someone.

Next up on Thursday: Why can't hair just stay where it belongs?

Monday, 16 May 2011

Sunglasses R Good

Today, we welcome Ruth Yunker, author of ME, MYSELF and PARIS: One Toe Under the Eiffel Tower The Other In the Grocery Store is what Paris. She brings a new perspective of sunglasses. I must be one of the few So Cal people who don't care that much about sunglasses. She might find that blasphemous. (g)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I squint in the sun, which causes lines around the eyes, so I wear sunglasses.

They are the personification of cool, so I wear sunglasses.

I have blue eyes, which will wilt into blindness if they get too much sun, so I wear sunglasses.

I like to be invisible, so I wear sunglasses.

I live in Southern California, so I really wear sunglasses, like a lot, like all the time, like even when it's cloudy...but since that never happens in Southern California, I wear sunglasses all the time.

I love sunglasses, on me, on you, on everyone but the baby in the electric go-cart and the coyote sitting on top of the pink Lamborghini.

One time my house was robbed, and in addition to the television and dvd player, and the few diamonds I owned (they ignored my fabulous rhinestone collection, thank god) they took a basket of cheap (but fun, very very fun) sunglasses I had sitting by the door. These were my spur of the moment, I feel like wearing polka dot sunglasses today. They could elevate my mood no matter what mundane errand I was rushing out of the house to perform. So, those pig robbers took my basket of fun sunglasses on their way out, and never felt an ounce of guilt as they presented these to-die-for sunglasses to their unworthy girlfriends. They left the basket though. But this just added to the pain, seeing that basket so miserably bare and empty.

I also wear very expensive sunglasses. The kind of sunglasses where your friends, particularly your Southern Californian friends, (and Floridians too, although they don't wear their sunglasses as much because it's always raining in Florida. I know. I lived there for six long years. I had an incredible garden, and became at one with armadillos clacking across my driveway, as did my cats, but still, the issue of heat and rain grew and grew, until one day I said to the husband, hey, it's time to move back to SoCal...but I digress)...your Southern Californian friends don't look at the front of the sunglasses. No. They check out the stems where the designer's name is etched. Then, after ascertaining which designer designed your sunglasses, they lean back with a contented sigh, and then, only then, do they check to see if they like the sunglasses, and if they think you look good in them. Recently my new pair of Dolce Gabbanas passed by without comment. This is not good. I can hardly bring myself to wear them now.

Wearing expensive sunglasses says many things about you. It says you are a snob. It says you are trying to look like you have money, just as that Louis Vuitton purse you have hanging on your arm is trying to do. Expensive sunglasses say you know your sunglasses, and even though your underwear may have holes, and your bras are ripped and all the same color of gray it's been that long since you've seen the inside of a lingerie department, it is a good thing to know your sunglasses.

As I have already given a nod to the joys of cheap sunglasses, I will now address the issue of those persons who feel the need to have a negative opinion of sunglasses.

Who are you people? You know who you are. You are the ones who fry, I tell you, fry, when someone wears their sunglasses at night. Why do you let this get to you? I know. They just think they are too cool for this world, and so wear those sunglasses to keep the world at bay. Listen, it's not that at all. Those people, aside for the few who are actually recovering from plastic surgery, are drug addicts. So rest in peace. The evening wearers of shades are in big trouble already, and are to be pitied.

There are those of you who complain that you can't see their eyes when you're talking to them. I ask you--why do you need to see their eyes? Maybe they have sleep in the corners. Maybe they're bloodshot. Maybe they have liars eyes, and in that case do you want to see their double-crossing eyes? Believe me, those people have bad body language. Just look out for that.

I myself have issues with people who put sunglasses on their dogs. Because, I'll be honest here, I'm envious. Dogs are such good sports. Sometimes they even have a sense of humor, which goes a long way towards doing fun things like wearing sunglasses. I'm a cat owner. My cats would be absolutely the most adorable things in the world wearing sunglasses. But it's never going to happen. Never ever. No red-blooded cat (including my puff balls) would allow it. End of story.

And finally, yes, I admit, I feel a trifle squeamish when I see those kind of half sunglasses, half lightly colored lenses (pink, blue, amber) that some men and women wear. I understand their ambivalence about wearing spectacles, and perhaps can't adapt to contact lenses. I myself hate to have to wear mine out to a dressy evening, a quick lunch, the grocery store...

So I praise the makers of contact lenses instead. I approve of lasix surgery.

And I'll stick to loving sunglasses for purposes of keeping the sun out of my eyes, so that I won't crash into you one day, driving right through a red light I didn't even see, the sun was so bright that day, and somebody had just stolen my yellow and green Minnie Mouse sunglasses.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


ME, MYSELF and PARIS: One Toe Under the Eiffel Tower The Other In the Grocery Store is what Paris, looks like, feels like, smells like, tastes like, to an American woman, free and unfettered, sense of humor and bonhomie alive and well, alone and loving it, in the most beautiful and temperamental city in the world.

Ruth Yunker is a writer and humorist, a columnist and blogger, a short story writer and essayist. She lives in Southern California, does the New York Times puzzle in erasable pen, has two grown children, and is basically okay with babysitting her son's two cats.

You can read more about Ruth at her website.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Do Not Anger the PMSing Writer!

Grumble, grumble! Whatever Blogger was doing the other day, they didn't put this post back when they took so many recent posts off of various user's sites. I finally found it in the drafts folder and it's the *unedited* version. I'm not sitting here editing it again, so my apologies for any bloopers you might find. Also all the wonderful and entertaining comments that were left are gone too. So, I'm posting it again so those of you who read it can re-read and laugh, and those of you who haven't can get a good chuckle in your day.

Okay, time for some therapeutic bitching.

Writers are somewhat neurotic. A female writer suffering PMS is called A Neurotic Blubbering Bitch on A Caffeine Sugar Buzz. I don’t brandish a weapon when I’m PMS’ing, but I sure as hell throw a lot of books, slam doors, and kick every farm chicken that crosses my path. Watch me walk into a room and see six kids and a husband scatter like cockroaches when a light’s flipped on.

The thing that really pisses me off is that when I get like this, I can’t write. It only lasts a day, maybe two, but if I force myself to write when I get in one of these moods I only type crap.

Men are baffled by the PMS Syndrome. What’s to be baffled about, really? I’m curious. A woman’s hormones go berserk inside her body, she screams, cries, and threatens to push the little red button if you piss her off just one more time. It has been proven that a woman’s brain swells during this time of the month, which causes erratic behavior and mood swings. I ask again: What’s so freaking hard to understand about PMS???

But the writer gal who’s in a foul, hormone-induced mood, who can’t write because of the foul hormone-induced mood, is the one to truly be wary of. She lies in wait of the unwary chicken to step out of the coop for a few choice bugs in the grass. WHAM! Said chicken is punted to the moon—or the nearest garage roof—and she scores!

Do not ask the writer gal what’s for lunch ninety-nine times from the safety of the living room. A can of Campbell’s Soup can reach you. With the proper angle and a good ricochet off the stovetop, said can of soup will nail your ass where you sit in the easy chair with your feet up as you watch yet another Spongebob Squarepants re-run.

Beware of the PMS’ing writer mom who can’t find the chocolate because one of her six kids has found and eaten it where she had it hidden in the tin on the top shelf behind Grandma Maggie’s good dishes. She will choose the most perfect moment to pounce. She will lace the next chocolate bar with habanera pepper and carefully wrap that lovely flavor bomb chocolate bar just like it was before, placing it in the tin for next time. Hoowee baby! Can we say fart fire?

And never ever—not even if you’re wearing armor AND a bullet proof vest—bother me when I’m trying to write while PMS’ing. It’s like signing your death certificate. Just ask the chickens. (So far, 47 out of 50 have the imprint of my Sketchers Shape-Ups sneaker treads on their feathery asses.) I’m in a foul mood as it is, my hormones are raging, the words aren’t working like they normally do, so that red crazed glint in my eyes and the appearance of hormonal fangs should tell you something, right? Right???

Last time I looked, two kids were hiding under the sofa, one was in the living room closet, two had gone upstairs to their rooms, and the oldest was swinging by the seat of his pants from the ceiling fan in the family room... Hey, he pissed me off over the chocolate. What can I say? It’s the PMS.

Now for some publishing news. I'm running a Hot Summer Contest, so I hope you'll check it out at my site. Just click the contest tab. www.FaithBicknell.com

One Strong Woman’s War with BUGS!

I've always considered myself to be a strong woman, one who's not afraid of insects. Heck, I grew up in Minnesota where the state bird is a mosquito. We thought nothing of playing outdoors all day and coming home with little spots of blood from squished mosquitoes decorating our arms and legs. A quick bath washed the bodies down the drain.

Of course I'll never forget my first night in my first apartment when I'd moved to Miami. I went into the kitchen, opened the silverware drawer and found two cockroaches....I mean PALMETTO BUGS, frolicking on the forks! I'm not sure which upset me the most: that there were huge black bugs in my drawer or that they were having sex. No matter, I do believe they heard me scream as far away as New Jersey. It didn't take me long to get used to annihilating them. One good smack with a shoes, grab a paper towel to enclose the corpse, and into the trash they went.

Things improved a bit when I moved to California. No cockroaches....I mean PALMETTO BUGS there. Nope, they have spiders - lots and lots of spiders. Now I'm not the kind of woman who screams at the sight of a spider. No indeed. I simply grabbed a tissue, squished the little bugger into a ball of legs and goo, and flushed them. Mission accomplished. Even the dreaded black widow spiders were easily dispatched under the heel of my sandals.

When I moved to Oregon, I figured I come handle anything that crawled, flew or scurried onto my world. I found myself surrounded by mole hills, flies, slugs and....ants. The outside critters were easy enough to ignore, then my home was invaded for the first time. I found ants in the pantry. I'm not talking about a couple wandering around looking for sustenance. NOOO, this was a huge undulating mass of movement, scurrying up the walls, across the shelves and onto the ceiling searching for sustenance. This time they heard me screaming in San Francisco. Yeah, folks - that was me, not the minor earthquake that was reported.

In a fury of activity, I took everything out of the pantry, washed the shelves and kept them empty - for days! I'd show those nasty pests who was in charge. I carefully enclosed all the food in zip locked bags. HA, just try and get in there! For a few weeks I walked around with my head held high. Another victory for a strong woman....until I went to take a bath one night.

INVASION! Ants had taken over my bathtub and the surrounding area! I sprayed, I stomped, I swatted, I squished. No matter how many I killed, more kept pouring in from ... somewhere. I finally got rid of enough ants so that I could take a bath, but damn it, they just kept coming back! One of my new Oregon friends swore that vinegar would keep them away. I swabbed the tile with white vinegar. The ants just laughed at me and kept coming. Another friend told me with confidence that ants hate cinnamon. I sprinkled piles of the stuff all over the place. I found the ants had written naughty words in the brown swirls. No, no, said yet another friend, bay leaves. Put down some bay leaves - ants hate them. Really? I found the ants had lifted the bay leave around the piles of cinnamon - like a miniature beach surround by palm trees. I'm sure they believe my bathtub is one giant ant ocean.

I'm about at my wits end. Now at night I hear them straining and groaning - trying to lift my house off its foundation so they can carry it to the master nest. Never fear, I am a strong woman, I'll find a way to win. In the meantime, I've decided to let them have the tub and I'll take showers.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Carlene's problems are nothing compared to those of Carol Reston, the heroine of her humorous mystery FINDER! Carol has to contend with a dead body, missing women, her world-traveling, martini-drinking, Jaguar driving aunt and a husband who is growing increasing mysterious by the day. To purchase a copy of FINDER! go to: www.wildchildpublishing.com.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The Return of Mr. Big Cock

Years ago I wrote under the pen name Zinnia Hope. As Zinnia, I wrote about my family and the ups and downs of having a farm. I posted stories and updates about the wiley ways of the farm chickens, but once I came out of the closet about being Zinnia, I soon stopped writing the humorous stories about the fam and farm.

Today, I was perusing the old blog posts and decided to do some revising and updating and maybe start posting the occassional humorous tale again.

The following is one I've updated and posted for fun.

Ever get one of those phone calls that just doesn't make any sense? Well, if you're in a business like publishing, you may get a lot of those (or least the emails that make you want to scream),

Publisher: I'm declining this novel because there isn't enough sex in it.

“Are you mad? Not enough sex?”

Publisher: Ms. Brown, you write beautifully, but the sex needs to be more explicit. (First time I've had someone tell me that!)

“Uh...pardon moi for being candid, but what part of {insert graphic sentence from manuscript} didn't you understand? Judging by the stains on my manuscript you returned to me, there is plenty of sex in my novel!

Publisher: In today's erotic romance market there needs to be hotter-than-hot sex.

“Oh, gee, so the hero banging the heroine until her eyes pop out and the sheets catch on fire isn't hot enough? They did it on the porch, on a fence post, on a graveled lane, and I'm still trying to figure out how the hero got his pecker stuck in the mailbox--and I'm the one who wrote that scene!"

Publisher: [laughter] Like I said, Ms. Brown, the sex isn't hot enough.

So, I slammed the phone down and took a walk in the backyard in hopes of spotting an unwary chicken on our farm. As I rounded the corner of the coop, the head rooster a.k.a. Mr. Big Cock (hmm, reminds me of the hero, so maybe the two know one another), stepped out. He stared me down with his beady black eyes. I let out a war whoop and charged him.

He whipped out a tiny Uzi and let it rip.

I dived for the overturned wheelbarrow resting nearby. Ping! Pa-ping! Pa-ping! The spray of teeny shots rang out over the barnyard.

Slowly, I peeped over the top of the wheelbarrow. "You feathery bastard!" I yelled.

"Clake clis!" the rooster squawked and let loose with another barrage.

Off to the side of the coop, I noticed three hens watching the scene. Big Cock ran out of ammo, so while he fumbled with another full cartridge (it must suck that humans have opposing thumbs and chickens don't!), I dashed across the grass and snagged one of the hens, who let out a squawk of fear.

I backed toward the house. "Pull the trigger again and your deluxe roaster babe is dead. I'll wring her neck! Capiche?"

Big Cock watched me back across the yard. He threw his Uzi down and clucked loudly, pacing back and forth in front of the coop, his feathers all ruffled.

Making it to the back patio, I tossed the hen into the yard and slammed the door. She ran like mad, her tubby body waddling from side to side, neck stretched to the limit. She scooped up the Uzi and then raced to Big Cock's side where she raised holy hell, flogged him, stuffed the Uzi up his ass, and sashayed into the coop.

Hmm...I may just have to chicken-nap the rooster and mail him to NYC, or better yet his deluxe roaster babe. The mailman will probably be pissed at me again, but it'll be worth it.

Friday, 6 May 2011

The Perils of Antibacterial Soap

Recently I got new glasses and contacts. Now this is the first time I’ve ever worn contacts, and when the allergens are NOT driving me insane and mucking them up, I love my contacts.

Anyone who has worn contact lenses knows you should wash your hands well before putting them in or taking them out. If you don’t, you can get all sorts of microscopic nasties in your eyes. Anyway, the other day I was getting ready to do some housework, and since my glasses irk the pee out of me by sliding around on my nose when I’m busy, I washed my hands with the antibacterial soap I keep in the bathroom, dried them, and inserted the first contact lens.

Hmm, that stung a li’l bit.

Second contact was inside out, so I had to pause a moment and flip it around. I popped it in my eye and…

Oh, hell, that stings….

No, no! That burns!

Dang that burns A LOT!

Blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink…

I quit blinking. That should do it.

Hell, no! It still burns! So I start blinking again, tears are pouring, and I'm worrying the contact will flush out of my eye and land on the sink or on the floor.

Blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink…

By that time, the burning stopped. Well, sort of.

However, my nose was running so darn bad I thought I was going to have to put on my Sketchers Shape-Ups and chase the darn thing down.

Lunch time, so I headed to the kitchen with my nose still running. Sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff…

Scrounging for something to eat, I found shells and cheese, but they needed some milk and cheese added. I got out a jar of soft cheese, scooped some out, put it in the noodles, but got some on my fingers.

Well, I did what any normal person would do. I stuck my finger in my mouth to lick off the cheese.



OMG, that tasted horrible!

No wonder my eyes stung like crazy when I put my contact lenses in. My finger tasted like antibacterial soap. I hadn’t gotten all the soap washed off my hands.

Lesson well learned.

And lemme tell ya, the taste of antibacterial soap is a bitch to get out of your mouth. I even rinsed my mouth with burnt coffee—no, let’s not go there, long story—and that didn’t even help.

So then I had the taste of soap AND burnt coffee in my mouth.

Anyone got some cinnamon candy disks or gum?

If Characters had Minds of Their Own

Elsie Rodriguez, an outspoken main character in three novels by David Huffstetler's – Disposable People, Blood on the Pen, and Blood on the Cards (to be released in 2011), has stopped by today. She has some choice words she wants to share with David. (grin) Elsie, the floor is yours...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Who the hell is this guy who keeps telling me what to do? He sits at a keyboard and manipulates every aspect of my life. It started with my name, Elsie. It sounds like a cow. Yes, I know a lot of girls in Mexico are named Elsie, and I was born there. But, really, Elsie? And what about my first assignment? He put me undercover at a migrant labor camp. I’m a reporter, so I get that part, but I’m not sure why it had to be in a swamp. He gave me this killer body with smooth, bronze skin, tight buttocks, and full breasts, and then he let two men bury me alive. I’m claustrophobic, you know. Do you think he gave one thought about that? That bastard. I know I shouldn’t curse, but he pisses me off. What good is it to have long, black hair when I had to chop it off to look more like an immigrant? I don’t even want to talk about the mosquito bites.

It took almost a year for me to recover from my injuries in that story, and then I met Jack, that big, strapping Texas Ranger. The detectives call him a dinosaur, and he frustrates the life out of me, but I try to remember what he has gone through too. My roommate teases me about Jack. She wants to know if we’re having sex. Well, actually, she calls it doing the “big nasty.” Joanne knows very well that I’m Catholic. My mother would have a stroke, if she thought I was having sex outside of marriage. I do want to please Mama, but Jack is quite skilled in that area. I mean, they tell me he is anatomically gifted. He’s a big guy, you know, six-feet-six. There are certain things a girl might expect in a man that size, like size. Okay, I’m saying more than I meant to say. I don’t know why I worry about what my mother thinks. I’m a grown woman, and women have needs, yearnings, yes cravings. I admit it.

It’s not my fault that I am passionate and a bit amorous. That guy at the keyboard gave me those feelings. What is his name? I call him the Badger, because he badgers the crap out of me, when he is stumped for ideas. His voice whines to me. “Elsie, what now? Give me a scene. Tell me what you want to do next?” I have enough going on in my life. I don’t need some man in Cyberland to keep hounding me, when he can’t come up with new ideas on his own. Yes, I said it. Now, back off.

Then again, maybe I’m too hasty about that. If I can get into his head, he might take me somewhere exciting, some place better than a migrant camp in a swamp or locked in the trunk of a car or a cave in Sonora. I always wanted to go to Australia, to see what the men really do down under, out back. Sorry, but sometimes I have wicked thoughts. Well, in Australia, at least no one would hold a Bowie knife between my thighs. Oh yes, you heard me right, girls. Think about it, and then tell me you wish you could be a character in a book. Still, there are some very good things here, and, there is no guilt the morning after. And, I never know what is coming on the next page. That can be scary, but it can be exciting. It could have me fighting for my life or, I hope, in the throes of hot, sweaty passion. I like those pages a lot. So, tell me. What is a “good girl” to do when the keyboard speaks and tells her to do bad things?

He thinks I forgot the scene in Chapter Eight, but I haven’t. I was doing all those things Mama told me not to do with a man. What happened to that scene? He claims the editor scraped it. I don’t believe him. There I was, sailing in orgasmic bliss, absent any reality, but the moment, and, with one stroke of the delete button, it was all over. Damn it.

I must admit there are times I want to reach right back up that computer cable and jerk the Badger in here with me. Let’s see how he likes it. Let some big man break his arm or hold his head under water. Wait a minute. How do I know it’s a he? Could a woman be doing this to me? Hmm? Hey, sister, how about that trip to Australia?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Jack Harden is a modern-day Texas Ranger haunted by his wife's death a year ago.

But when a murderer strikes, he is called into duty. Now he must battle the urge to kill the drunk driver responsible for her death and the hunger to kill himself as he hunts for a serial killer who wants him dead.

Elsie Rodriguez is assigned to report on the murders for her newspaper and ordered to stay with Jack Harden. He's old school, tough, and doesn't want her there, but, despite his gruff manner, the big Ranger triggers something inside her. Something more than just her Latin temper.

Can she pull him back from the edge of sanity? Or will death win again?


Someone was going to die that night. Was it Maxwell Thornton or his mistress? Eddie Carter knelt behind an oak display case in the dim hallway outside Thornton’s office, waiting for the chance to kill one of them, maybe both. The clock above Eddie’s head clicked past nine p.m. The door eased open, and a woman stepped out, straightening the black skirt around her slender hips. A dark mist rolled over Eddie’s soul. Kill the bitch. Kill her now. But it was too late. The woman’s stiletto heels clattered over the wooden floor as she scampered down the stairs and out the exit door three floors down.

The hall settled back to the faint sound of an occasional passing car and the staccato ticking of the clock. Five minutes, eight minutes, ten. Again, the door opened, and the clock gave way to the jingle of his keys as he locked the door. He straightened his paisley tie, looked at the ceiling, and said, “Hell, that damn light’s out again.” He shrugged and followed the same path his mistress had taken toward the stairs.

Eddie Carter stepped out of the shadows, eased up behind him, and smashed a piece of pipe into the back of his head. Thornton fell hard to his knees and flat on his stomach, his thinning hair growing wet with blood.

Thick hands worked slowly, calmly tying the prone man’s wrists and ankles and shoving a rag into his mouth. The same hands that wrote prose on a computer keyboard now lashed a rope around the corner post of the banister. Thornton came back to his senses in a haze and found himself cradled in robust arms. His hip banged against the top rail as Eddie lifted him up, and then dropped him over the edge. He fell six feet, and his body jerked to a stop, with two steel meat hooks ripping into the flesh of his armpits. His body swung suspended over the stairwell, his screams muffled by the gag in his mouth. He jerked and shuddered, looking desperately for some way to save himself, but the only person there was Eddie Carter, watching him die.

* * * *

The mid-morning sun found Jack Harden sitting alone in a cemetery on the outskirts of Dallas, staring at a gravestone. Jenny, his wife of twelve years, lay in the ground with a plain headstone bearing only her name and the word Gone. Harden opened his jacket. The barrel of his pistol scraped against the silver Texas Ranger badge pinned to his shirt as he pulled it from his shoulder holster. Perspiration covered the back of his neck from the heat of another sweltering August day, soaking into the collar of a pale blue dress shirt, the kind he almost always wore.

He held the forty-five-caliber revolver in front of him and studied its long lines. It was elegant in its simplicity, at once both beautiful and foreboding. He slipped the barrel into his mouth and a stale, metallic taste ran over his tongue, but he wouldn’t have to taste it for long. He wouldn’t have to taste anything or feel anything again. He cocked the hammer. Three quick rings sounded from Harden’s belt.

He thought he’d turned his cell phone off before coming to the cemetery, and now it hailed him. His finger trembled against the trigger and, once again, the phone rang. Harden eased the gun out of his mouth and muttered, “Damn, you people won’t even let me kill myself.” He snatched the phone from its holder, flipped it open, and said, “Yeah, this is Harden.”

Captain Abernathy sounded curt. “Jack, where the hell are you?”

Harden gave a wry, sad grin and said, “Just visiting family, Captain.”

“Well, get over to Highland Park. We’ve got a body swinging in a stairwell over there, and the press is already going ape shit.”

Harden stood and stretched the kinks out of his six feet three inches. He thought about closing the phone and finishing what he had started with his gun. Would Jenny welcome him to her world, or would she be disappointed that he had killed himself? He chose to answer his captain. “All right. Where is it?”

“It’s in one of the older office building down on Benlow Street, 4713 is the address. The crime scene is on the third floor, outside a literary agency called Thornton Creative Properties. Dallas P.D. had a couple of patrolmen respond to secure the scene, and the Medical Examiner is on his way. And, Jack, be careful about what you say to the media.”

Harden snapped his phone back onto his belt. He blew a kiss toward Jenny’s grave and said, “I’ll see you soon, sweetheart. Not today, but soon.”

* * * *

The tires on his ten-year-old Chevy pickup truck whined down Interstate 75, and his tortured mind went back to business, back to being a Ranger. He took the off ramp and snaked his way through town to a series of tall office buildings. As he approached the 4700 block and slowed to show his badge to an officer at the roadblock, a reporter rushed forward with a microphone. “Hey, Ranger, can you tell us what’s going on down there?”

Harden pulled away without answering. He drove halfway down the block and, as usual, parked where he “damn well pleased,” in the middle of the street. The skyscrapers around it dwarfed the three-story building, one of the few structures still standing from the 1940’s. The wooden steps creaked under Harden’s two hundred fifteen pounds, a bit heavier than he’d been in his twenties. He looked up, and there hung a bloodstained body dangling from a rope at the third floor. He ducked under the yellow crime-scene tape at the landing, dodged puddles of blood, and clamored up one more hot, humid flight of stairs.

“Hi, Jack.” It was the clear, baritone voice of Moses Browner, the painfully thin Deputy Coroner. He snapped another photograph of the body, lowered the camera, and said, “Let me introduce you to our victim. Maxwell Thornton, president and majority stock holder of Thornton Creative Properties.”

Harden took a cigar from the inside pocket of his jacket, rolled it in his mouth, and carefully lit it with a wooden match. Two young police officers edged away from the smoke. Harden turned back to Browner and said, “Have you got a cause of death yet?”

Browner put his finger to his chin and answered, “Yeah. I figure his heart stopped beating and that pretty much did it. Now, how do you expect me to determine a cause of death when the man is still hanging up there? He’s tied hand and foot, got a gag in his mouth, and is hanging from a rope tied to the banister with the other end tied to a steel meat hook in each armpit. I’m thinking maybe it’s not suicide.”

Harden overlooked the sarcasm, took another puff on his cigar, and said, “So, what does all that tell you?”

The rattle of a mop bucket and a cleaning lady pulling it toward them interrupted Browner’s answer. He brushed her away, saying, “Not now, we’ve got work to do here yet. We’ll call you when we need you.” He turned back to the tall Ranger, who was still waiting and still smoking. “Well, I can tell you this much, Jack. It would take a pretty stout man to lift him over the banister, so the perpetrator is either a big fellow or there was more than one. The victim was probably killed sometime last night and he was probably still alive when whoever did this put him on those meat hooks. There’s blood on both sides of the landing where he thrashed about, trying to get loose. I’d say he just hung there until he bled to death.”

“It takes a pretty sick bastard to do that,” Harden answered. “Maybe sick enough to stay around and watch.”

Browner held out a plastic evidence bag with a piece of paper inside. “We found this note taped to the handrail.”

Harden studied the paper through the clear bag and read it aloud. “Do you believe this? Signed D.A.” He handed it back to Browner and said, “Well, that doesn’t make much sense, but it sounds personal. I guess it could be a revenge killing. Let me know if you find anything else, Moses. I’m going to talk to the other people in the agency. Maybe they’ll know if he had any enemies.”

Browner smirked and said, “Well, he sure had one.”

Something flashed, but it wasn’t Browner’s camera. It came out of the shadows behind them. Harden spun around, reached for his pistol, and growled, “Who’s back there?”

A slim figure with dark, shoulder-length hair stepped into the light and said, “Hold your horses. I’m just a reporter. Don’t shoot me.”

Harden let the gun drop back into its holster. “Who are you and how did you get in here?”

Her large brown eyes glimmered in the light as she answered, “My name is Elsie Rodriguez from the San Antonio Post, and I came up the back stairs.”

“San Antonio?” Browner quizzed. “Dallas is a little off your beat, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” she answered. “But I didn’t come about the murder. I came to see Jack Harden. I called the Ranger Office, and they told me he’d be here.”

Harden dropped his cigar to the floor and crushed it under his foot. “Bull shit. We don’t tell reporters where Rangers go.”

“Okay, I heard it on my police radio.”

“What are you doing with a police radio?”

“The paper loaned it to me, but that’s not important. I’d like to talk to you for a few minutes.”

He started down the stairs, saying, “I’ve got no time for reporters. You wasted a trip. Go back to San Antonio.”

* * * *

Elsie watched him storm away. She turned to Moses Browner and said, “Well, he’s kind of a nasty one, isn’t he?”

Browner wagged his head and chuckled softly. “He is that. But he’s a good man, and he probably has a right to be out of sorts now and then.”

“Yes, I know. That’s why I’m here.” She gestured toward the body and asked, “Say, do you mind if I get another picture while I’m here?”

“Don’t press your luck, young lady. You need to get back down those steps before somebody confiscates that camera.”

Elsie gave a coy smile and said, “Okay, okay. I’m going. You don’t have to be a Harden about it.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To get to know David a bit better, you can visit his blog or friend him on Facebook. You can find Disposable People at Amazon and Blood on the Pen at Wild Child Publishing, Amazon, OmniLit, and Bookstrand.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Doggin' Anyone?

I've been really tied up this week with a sick kid. She was bitten by something and had an allergic reaction to the bite. Then she had an allergic reaction to the meds. So no blogging from Tess here this week. I don't have the energy to rant or feel funny. LOL Well, maybe a little. I finally got some sleep last night. But I received this post from Miz Management over at Miz Love Loves Books http://www.mizlovelovesbooks.com/ If you'll recall, Miz Management gave us a little glimpse into what happened when she read a certain book about ginger root from one of the erotic romance brethren...errrr...sistren? LOL So today this is about her getting close to getting her own little taste of the erotic. You're going to crack up for sure.
Well! Would you believe it. Seems the power of prayer works. Or, more importantly, someone “up there” decided enough was enough for me and my not-seen-any-male-action love-hole. I got sent a man, oh yes I did, but it isn’t as straight forward as you might think. No, it never is with me, and I shall tell you all about my “encounter” now. I say encounter, because there’s no other word for it. Ok, maybe we could call it a freakshow. Or whatever word would best be used to describe meeting someone who wants something from you that you’ve dreamed about…only he isn’t especially pleasing to the eye and you’re not sure you want that something after all.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not the kinda girl who has to have a man be handsome like those in the erotic books I read (although that would be a welcome bonus, I must say). I’m realistic. Me, blessed with love handles and a generous helping of fat beneath my skin, can’t expect an Adonis to fancy me stupid, can I? Yeah, stranger things have happened, but they just don’t happen to me.
Let me start at the beginning. And be prepared to laugh at my dilemma, because I sure as shit am now. If I don’t, I’ll go mad.

So, there I was, on my bed with Quivering Quentin (for those who don’t know, he is my vibrator and the only length-like thing that has been in my love-hole in a long, long time), pondering whether or not to have a good time with him or just go to sleep early. My friend had other plans. Not Quentin, no. He didn’t jump alive and insert himself or anything equally amazing like that. My other friend. She rang to ask if I fancied going out for the night. Bear in mind it was already 9 p.m. and I was in my rather ratty pyjamas that have seen far better days and really ought to be in the bin right now. Bear in mind the time should have told me to stay in bed…

I said I’d meet her at the local pub in half an hour. Silly me.

I hadn’t dressed up. Far from it. I just had on some well-worn jeans and a long-sleeved black top. A pair of heeled boots, nothing to write home about, do you dig what I mean? And we stood at the bar, minding our own business, when this guy came over and offered to buy me a drink. He wasn’t ugly, just wasn’t my type, but I tell you, those erotic books had me all in a lather, so I wasn’t about to turn him down later in the night when he suggested we go off alone. He didn’t give me that creepy vibe, and although he didn’t look like Jack or John or Harry from my special little reading matters, and he didn’t have a ripped body and just enough stubble to tickle my inner thighs, I agreed.

Did I already say silly me?

Off we went in his car. I remember wondering where he was taking me as we headed towards our big supermarket on the outskirts of town. Wondered what the hell he thought he was playing at when he killed the damn engine in the car park of said supermarket. Beneath an overhang of trees. I looked about, feeling safe as there were other cars parked there too, all around the edges. I found that a bit odd. I mean, the supermarket was closed, so what was the deal here?

“You into doggin’?” he asked.

Doggin’? Wtf is that, I thought.

So I asked him. And wished I damn well hadn’t. He said it was watching other people have sex in their cars then doing it yourself in your car so they could watch you back. Um, dig me a hole called Get Me The Fuck Outta Here, would you? I mean, yeah, it’s all very well reading about this kind of thing, but when a less-than-glam man asks you for a bit of the old rudey-doody shit in the azz-end of a car park, you kinda don’t feel sexy anymore. You worry about your extra layer of fat, how it would be viewed in such a confined space, where the tummy has a tendency to fold in on itself and produce rolls a damn baker would be proud of.

I declined, wondering if I could make a break for it and scoot down the alleyway that, thank God, leads to my housing estate. He was surprisingly all right about it, said it wasn’t something everyone enjoyed (you’re damn right they don’t!), and that maybe we ought to go back to his place instead.

By this point I was feeling a bit uneasy and telling myself off for ever complaining that Quentin was a plastic bastard that didn’t satisfy my needs. He did, and I loved him then, loved him with all my heart. All I wanted was to feel his silky smoothness and tell him I was sorry. I’m not joking. That’s exactly how I felt. So I said no thanks to the man, who I think I’ll call Wally Weirdo from now onwards, and asked that he drop me off at my house.

I think I need to say “silly me” again.

What kind of woman allows a man who thinks she’s into doggin’, to drop her off at her HOUSE? Me, that’s who. The kind who’s been out of the game for so long I’m surprised my love-hole hasn’t got cobwebs. So, he took me home, asked for my mobile number. And God help me, but I gave it to him.

Then the texts began. Like, three or so minutes after he dropped me off. I wondered if he’d gone back to the supermarket car park and was texting me from there while perving at other couples. The thought gave me the damn creeps, so I was vague in my responses, hoping he’d get the hint I didn’t like his azz.

He didn’t.

The texts continued throughout the next few days, some sexually suggestive, others telling me about his airplane model collection (I AM NOT JOKING HERE!!!!), and I wondered how the hell to brush him off without making him upset. He knew where I lived, know what I mean?

So then he asked me what I thought of a threesome, and let me tell you, my jaw nearly hit the floor. I’ve said this before, but I don’t do this kind of thing. I just have regular sex (when I can damn well get it!) and only found out about the other, more adventurous bedroom antics through reading erotica. Never in my ever-lovin’ little life did I imagine I’d be asked about ménage for real. Never!

At this present time, he’s still texting, even though I’ve ignored his azz for a whole day now. He’s still asking about the ménage. And I don’t want to be mean, but who the hell has he got in mind to join us? A man? A woman? Will they look just as unappealing as him? Am I that unattractive that he’s the only kind of man I can snare? And I haven’t even done it with HIM yet.

Shit, did I say YET? Am I seriously that desperate I’m thinking of doing it with HIM?

Dear God. The perils of reading erotic romance…