Monday, July 28, 2014

Writer Fuel - Bucolic Peace for a Monday

It's Monday. Nuff said. Even for the self-employed, Monday can suck and this one has a mission. So, to soothe my troubled soul, I selected something nicely bucolic for today's episode of #writerfuel.

These recreations of traditional English china and Flow Blue patterns were often supermarket premiums (I've found them in blue, green, and red.) You collected points or stamps when you shopped and redeemed them for place settings. This thrift shop pair is likely mis-matched, but it definitely gives me a happy.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

So, Who's Up For Some Bag-For-A-Buck Romance Book-Ku?

All the Facebook posts and photos about RWA in San Antonio made me all melancholy and wishing I had been there.

Well, next best thing (yeah right) is book-ku made of vintage trashy romance novels.

Want to play? The rules, such as they are, can be found here.

The People of the Package - Nuclear Blonde

Time to get this series back on track. The People of the Package are the nameless models whose visages were used on vintage packages, record albums, and book covers. Unnamed, unsung, and quite often totally bizarre.

Today's model wasn't afraid to leverage her assets to sell records. Can't you feel the party?

Hey Baby, want to check out my vinyl?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Kickstart My Art . . .

It's time to launch the manuscript that won last year's Claymore Award at Killer Nashville as an indie project. I am going to reel in the fulls I have kicking around out there and go for it.

I've been running a Kickstarter campaign as a pre-order mechanism and to act as seed funds to cover editing and final launch expenses. That has been an experience in its own right:

Cover art by Matt Norris 

The Kickstarter campaign has been humbling with its support, but still has a way to go. Please consider pre-ordering the book via the campaign or claiming one of the cool rewards (I already owe one short story and won't have to name another character for quite a while!)

Thanks again. The writer community rocks.

Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge - Three Sentence Stories

Everyone can write three sentences, what's the big deal?

The latest Terribleminds flash fiction contest is to write a story in three sentences (and, honestly, if it is going over 100 words, rein in the commas.)

Flash fiction is one of my favorite forms. Sleek and compact, not a word wasted . . . but still with the character/conflict/resolution triad.

You should really really really be reading Bo's Cafe Life

Here's my entry in The Chuck's latest Flash-O-Rama. Remember, I have three sentences.

* * *

My burglary of the deserted ramshackle Victorian ended when the gazebo roof collapsed and tumbled me into the agony of the hanging cradle of snowy roses.

Insects swarmed - mosquitoes, flies, maggots, ants - and at sundown on the second day, the crows arrived. 

'The sale is in the bag,' thought the realtor as she trailed her clients up the drive listening to their chatter and seeing the wife coo over the incredible red roses.

* * *

Monday, July 21, 2014


I've started a new diet this week. It is basic push-away-from-the-trough-eat-less-exercise-more plan. Portion control is what I need and it is what I am getting.

The plan allows me to trade some of my carbs each week for wine.

Okay . . . I can do that. Who am I to break my diet?

Serial Novel: Burning Kansas - Chapter 7

The saga of Burning Kansas continues. Are you behind? Just click on Burning Kansas in the list to see all the chapters to date.

Caroline learns more about her daughter's heart.

* * *

Burning Kansas – Chapter 7

Donald leaned back in his chair and stretched out his long legs. "Caroline, there's not a lot to it. Emma and Jacob showed up around ten this morning with a letter purporting to be from you giving them permission to get married. She told me you were moving the family to Lawrence and had gone on ahead. I knew you'd sold the farm, so it made sense."

Caroline rubbed her forehead. Donald Moore could orchestrate movements of runaway slaves up and down the Kansas border, but couldn't see through the lies of a sixteen-year old girl.

"Donald, didn't that seem a bit, um, strange to you?"

"I will admit that I was taken aback until Emma reminded me of my promise to her."

"What are you talking about?"

Donald's long face broke into a smile. "Do you remember her tenth birthday? The big party here at the house?"

Caroline refilled their tea. "I do. Those were good times. Long before the troubles started."

"Yes they were. Well, during the party I went upstairs and found Emma in the second floor dressing room. She had opened the trunk and wrapped herself in Lillian's bridal veil." He hesitated.

"I didn't know. I'm sorry she did that," said Caroline, patting his hand. Ever since Lillian had left her uncle standing at the altar almost twenty years ago, he'd kept her hope chest as a shrine.

"Oh no, it was a joy. Emma looked like a princess all wrapped up in Irish lace. It helped me. It truly did. I felt uplifted. I promised her that when she grew up and met her beloved she could wear that veil and I would marry them."

Another secret. Another thing I didn't know about my daughter.

Donald flipped through his ledger, turned it to her, and said, "She introduced me to her young man and asked me to keep both of my promises to her."

The last entry in the book read:

On this, the third day of August, the year of our Lord 1863, I, Donald Parker Moore, ordained by God and the laws of the State of Kansas joined in holy matrimony one Emma Lauren Cassett and one Jacob Martin Blaylock. Witnessed by Elspeth Johnson.
Caroline traced her fingertips over her daughter's perfect copperplate signature and the far less than perfect writing of Jacob Blaylock.

Her husband.

"They had all the paperwork in order and Emma had her permission letter signed by you. Caroline, are you telling me you didn't consent? I administered the marriage vows. By my hand they are married in the eyes of God which far supersedes any law of man. They left here carrying marriage lines signed by me in my position as an ordained minister of the church. If you didn't consent, there are problems."

The eyes of God.


She stood and used the excuse to shake out her skirts so she wouldn't have to meet his eyes.

My daughter is a married woman.

"Emma had my permission. I'm just disappointed that I missed them. I wanted to surprise her. Now I need to be going. She'll arrive at the house in Lawrence and I should be there. Be there for the party. Yes, the party."
Her words tumbled out, but Donald seemed not to notice. He closed the ledger.

"For that I am sorry. Had I known, I would have delayed the ceremony. I will tell you that she glowed like the sun with that veil over her hair. She had eyes for no one in the world except Jacob and I can say that same for him. I think the president could have dropped in and they wouldn't have known it. Elspeth insisted on making a wedding brunch before they left."

Caroline gathered her cloak and turned to the door.

"How long ago did they leave?"
"Maybe four hours."

About the time I was putting a shotgun in Creighton Blaylock's face.

"She was happy? Truly happy?"

"Yes, and so was her young man. So am I. I got to keep my promise to her."

Caroline studied his face, looking for any hint of pity or sarcasm. She saw none. For a moment she thought of telling him the true story and decided it would only hurt his feelings. He would find out the details eventually, but she didn't have the energy for it today.

"I need to go."

"I understand. I assume you are staying at your brother's house?"

Caroline hadn't thought of that.

"Yes. Until things settle out."

Until I finish tanning Emma's hide.

That thought made her smile and shake her head. She tried to remember being that deeply in love and couldn't. The years had worn her too far down. Donald draped her cloak over her shoulders and walked her to the front hall.

At the front door Elspeth came from the kitchen and said, "May I have a moment Miss Caroline?"


"If you ladies will excuse me, I need to work on my sermon." Donald kissed her cheek before he backed into his office and closed the door.

"More like he wants a little nip after dealing with all this woman-stuff. I do love that man, but what he doesn't know about females would fill every shelf in that library of his," said Elspeth.

Caroline couldn't help laughing. "Truer words were never spoken."

After a moment's awkward silence, Elspeth reached behind a door and pulled out a saddlebag.

"What's this?" said Caroline.

"I checked your horse and you hadn't packed. I figured you and that boy's father would want to head right on out, so I put together a few necessaries for you."

"You know the truth?"

Elspeth laughed. "Of course. Doing the special delivery business, I've seen every manner of forged document. That one wasn't very good. Only a man would be fooled."

"Then why did you sign as witness?" Caroline's anger started to rise.

"Calm down and let me explain. I did it because not only are those kids in love, but when they touched each other it was really easy to see it wasn't the first time, if you know what I mean. I figured they were better off married. You can't put sap back in the roots once it starts to rise. If Reverend Donald didn't marry them, I think they'd gone town to town until they found someone who would. I figured it was better if it was family."

The two women's eyes met and Caroline shook her head.

"Elspeth, were we ever that young?"

"I don't know about you Miss, but I still am. In here, where it counts," she said with a hand over her heart.

Caroline held out her hand for the saddlebag and welcomed the hug.

"Go find your daughter and make peace with her. Bad winds are blowing. We need to keep our loved ones close."

"Elspeth, can I ask you one thing? What is he like?"

"He's a good boy. Tall and strong, with smiles only for Emma. She looked so beautiful. I think this crazy scheme was her idea. He seems a much steadier sort, but I doubt he can deny her anything."

Caroline's eyes misted and she said, "Then Heaven help him, because he'll need it. Thank you."

To be continued . . .

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Random Act of Carnival

It's county fair time in Fort Scott, Kansas. Along with calf-roping tournaments and goat judging, a small carnival midway blossomed in the grassy area of the fairgrounds a half block from my house.

Never able to resist anything shiny, I grabbed my camera and wandered down to see what was going on.

The view from the end of my driveway.
My goal was to get as far under the Ferris wheel before I got yelled at. I was foiled my a skinny crowd barricade and the grinding noises coming from the machinery. But the beauty of the night made for good conditions.

No matter how shabby the show,
all Ferris wheels are magic at night. 

The Ferris wheel waits for its next load of passengers. 

The flying hearts ride was the most popular one at the carnival.
The operator in the center would randomly jump up and start
spinning the cars, making the kids squeal with delight. 

Nightmare fuel, just add cotton candy.

The lights are the best part of the carnival for me. 

In the center of the midway surrounded by barricades secured
with zip ties. What could possibly go wrong?

The merry-go-round and its chariots were dark tonight. 

Winner . . . winner . . . chicken dinner . . . a prize every time. 

Come and sit in my belly. It won't hurt a bit, I promise. 

Did I mention this carnival was on the old school side?

Step right up, you have nothing to lose.

The real reason to come to the carnival. #funnelcake

On the stroll home, I noticed the carnival reflected
in one of my neighbor's windows. 

#writerfuel - Tea with Lawrence of Arabia

After a long day of delivering newspapers for my nano-publishing empire and having my way with several thrift stores, it is time to relax with a hot cup of tea in a vintage Japanese lusterware cup hand-painted with a Lawrence of Arabia theme. Eggshell thin, some of the nicest I have had in my collection. #writerfuel

Thank you Vendor #6 at The Black Horse in Garnett, Kansas.

Superb hand-painted lusterware.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Not More Wattpad! Flash Fiction Compilation

Greetings. Getting Burning Kansas set up on Wattpad inspired me to gather up some of the flash fiction stories on my hard drive and publish them as a running compilation. I'll add 1 to 2 per week. All free to read. If you like them, votes and comments on Wattpad are HIGHLY appreciated. Every comment or upvote increases my visibility.

I've started with a couple of my favorites: Trophy Wife and White Roses. Both were previously published in flash anthologies.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Burning Kansas on Wattpad

I've been wanting to try Wattpad and what better way than with my serial Novel "Burning Kansas."  If you are a member, check it out, and let me know so I can link up to your work as well. "Burning Kansas" will also make its debut as an ebook probably in the spring, here is a sneak peak of the cover:

Come on over and visit - the water's fine:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Blogging Interlude

Real life intruded on my placid writer's existence last month. For those of you who don't know, I also run the family toy company, Circle X Ranch. Normally, it is a rather passive mail-order operation, requiring me to tend eBay listings and use my ninja super-powers of wrestling things into boxes. I can pretty much look at your package and tell you the postage across three time zones. I recently had to replenish my shipping label supply, the 10,000 I had scored at an auction finally ran out.

But that is a story for another day. Last month I had to prep and attend a trade show. Not a huge one, but since it has been a while, I'd forgotten what show prep was like. I smugly thought, "How long could it take to pack the Terri-mobile?"

Turns out the Terri-mobile is like a Tardis, much bigger on the inside.
A niblet of backstory. Last year a hail storm destroyed the roof of my warehouse. Mayhem ensued and moving was a necessity. So, I had to compact 4K sf into 800 sf. Boxes are piled to the rafters in my new shop. So, selecting stock for the show was like playing Tetris 3D in the life-size edition.

When you are getting ready for a show, your imagination gives you this picture:

Stacked White Boxes by Lynn Greyling
However, reality usually looks more like this:

Gowanus Brookyn, Photog Unknown
I finally made it to the show after two days of driving, some of it through biblical rainstorms, nearly killing a clerk at a motel worthy of a Stephen King novel, and discovering that combining really strong iced tea, B vitamin complex, and a muffin on a virtually empty stomach makes a worthy homemade meth substitute *twitch*

And luckily, the show was fairly successful, so the pack out was easier than the pack in . . .

Empty Cardboard Boxes by Vera Kratochvil
Until I saw the flat tire . . .

A long weekend just got a bit longer. [Public Domain print, circa 1915]
Luckily (again) I have the best friends ever and the temp donut was soon on my car and I had some choices for replace/repair. Less lucky, I got tourist-rolled at the tire place. It cost me a bit more than it should have, but my mechanic okayed the result when I got home, so I will replace the other tire in the pair with the same one before winter.

Bottom line, this is why I haven't blogged in the past few weeks. When I have a blogging break, it usually isn't because I am short of ideas, it is because I have so MANY ideas I can't contain them. Then my paranoid little mind wants to hoard them for the day when ideas don't come. Then I end up twitching in place like a robot who got a bad signal from its processors (or it could just be the iced tea - I swear, that was intense.) I'll go slow and get my groove back. Many good pics to come. I will be inflicting my thrift shopping, tea cups, strange signage, architecture oddities, and a few updates on my writing in the days and weeks to come. Thanks for hanging in with me.