Tuesday, December 30, 2014


With only New Year’s left to contend with, I think I can safely mark the most frantic time of the year as finished. From Halloween until now, it’s been a season of go-go-go-go. Decorating, meals to plan and prepare, treats to concoct, presents to buy-wrap-mail, memories to make...good heavens, let me take a breath. 

Sure, there are a couple of things left to do. Like drink in a couple of days, because nothing says ‘fresh start’ like a massive headache on January 1. Actually, I plan to have those drinks to celebrate getting through another holiday season. Last will be the putting away of decorations and bringing the house back to its old comfortable, boring self. Then ... ah. 

I am tired. Celebrating takes some doing. Yes it was incredibly enjoyable, particularly Christmas this year. Making a gingerbread train with Kiddo, then minutes after its completion watching Kiddo dismantle and eat it.
He maketh...

...and he eateth.

Watching classic Christmas movies with the family. The movies lasted twice as long as usual, because Son of Mine likes to rewind his favorite parts and watch them over and over until he can’t giggle anymore.

 With cavities being filled recently, Jacob particularly enjoyed seeing someone else in Dental Hell.

Decorating. Jacob again took the lead, picking out our tree, picking which decorations he wanted to see on it, and piling them on the bottom half. Now if I could just figure out how to get him to hang the lights, we wouldn’t have such a ‘blue’ Christmas due to my language over half-burnt out strings.

 Not to mention all the knots those things tie themselves into.

And of course finding gifts under the tree and unwrapping them. Such joy over material things! But hey, you’re a kid only once...which is why Hubs and I continue to put off growing up to this day. Judge all you want; getting stuff is fun. So there were three of us counting up our loot and feeling like we won the lottery. Peace and goodwill, yeah, sure, yadda, yadda, yadda. Fire up the Xbox already. 

But seriously, under all the frantic activity there was some of the more heartfelt mushy stuff. I’ve taken two weeks off from work for Kiddo’s vacation from school just to spend this wonderful time of the year with him. I made it my priority to remind him that being a part of this family was the most important part of the season. We laughed. We hugged. We celebrated what really mattered. 

Hopefully, we can carry that into the next year and well beyond. I wish the same joy and love to you. Happy New Year, all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Blog Before Christmas

This is a repost. It's the holidays, for heaven's sake. I'm allowed a break.

Twas the blog before Christmas
And all through my head
Was the deadline approaching
For which I felt dread. 

All the subjects of note
Had fled from my brain
I stared at my screen
And sorted in vain 

Through ideas dim-witted
And certain to bore
Recycled and re-used
I’d writ it all before. 

Nothing to make you muse
Nor fit to make you laugh
Though I sweated and labored
And rejected many a draft. 

Coming up empty
I strove for distraction
But the blog to be written
Demanded quick action. 

So I sat at my desk
And faced that blank screen
Ready to write a blog
The best ever seen. 

Peering through the muddle
I felt kind of sick
I just couldn’t conceive
Of an idea that would stick. 

Against the desk surface
Pounding my head in vain
My family scattered
Convinced I’d gone insane. 

A topic!  A title!
Attend me now muse!
A subject!  A hint!
Just one little clue! 

Of something to share
Just one little drop
Of sweet inspiration
That won’t be a flop. 

The cursor, it blinked.
The page, how it mocked
It was no use
I was hopelessly blocked. 

I got out of my chair
And traversed the hall
Showed up in the kitchen
Heeding a primal call. 

There at last, the answer
To my mind so stuck
The Fountain of Good Writes
Awaited my cup. 

I approached with joy
Shouting with delight
The drought was over
Coffee would make it right. 

Caffeine imparted thought
I knew what to do
I ran back to my keyboard
And my fingers flew. 

The words came easily
All was again fine
Naught beats coffee notions.
(Except perhaps wine) 

With the answer at last
A blog was achieved
Caffeine-jittery now
But still quite relieved. 

I wish all my loved ones
Celebrating far and near
A very Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Alone at Last ... Now What Do I Do?

I am at a loss. Kiddo is in school. Musician hubby has a day gig out of town, which meant him leaving early this morning. I have the house to myself for most of the day. 

Let me repeat: I have the house to myself for most of the day. 

It’s quiet. The heater hums along because we have a taste of cold for a change here in Hell’s first circle, aka Georgia. My clock ticks. My fingers tap the keyboard. But otherwise, it is silent. No television. No one watching YouTube. No toys crashing. 

No one is asking for a snack or wanting to know what’s for lunch or sharing the latest bit that shows up on a Facebook newsfeed. There are no distractions. No responsibilities. Nothing but me. 

I don’t know what to do with myself. 

Myriad options pop into my befuddled brain. I could catch up on cleaning with no one underfoot to undo it within seconds. I could work with no interruptions. I could read a book. I could work on art. I could dance around for no reason at all. I could be productive or silly. The options are endless. 

Which is why I’m utterly frozen in place. I don’t do well with too many choices. What if I make the wrong one? What if I fritter away this amazing occurrence on something I thought would be a good use of my time only to discover I should have done this other thing? Here is an opportunity to indulge me, and I don’t know how to! 

Oh, the inhumanity of such a gift. Me time. Me, me, me. I can do anything I want, but I don’t know which anything to choose. I’m starting to panic because if I don’t pick I’ll end up losing hours to the internet or the television. No! This moment is golden! I must take advantage of it! 

I’m trying to remember if it was like this back when I was single and didn’t have to make anybody happy but me. Maybe since there was no seeming end to the days of selfishness, I dealt with it better. I could lose a day to stupidity and not care because tomorrow was there waiting in the wings. Glorious time to waste, time to be foolish, time to while away with nothing in particular. 

These days I am relentlessly productive. With fans begging for the next book, I churn away at my desk. With a husband, I must devote quality time to him. I am at Kiddo’s beck and call. I don’t have much time to stop and think about what I’d like to do. 

Whatever it is I choose to spend this block of hours on, I will do my best to treasure it. Heaven only knows when I’ll get to think about me and me alone again. Hopefully, my head won’t explode at the wonder of it all.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

'Tis the Season to be Sneezing

Two years ago, I achieved a new ability I hadn’t possessed before. It’s not something I sought. It’s not something I wanted. And yet, it was granted to me by some cosmic practical joke. Along with all the other curve balls my aging body has begun to pitch at me, this is the one I expected least of all. In my mid-forties, I gained seasonal allergies. 

As I sit here writing about this relatively new part of my life, my head is pounding, my sinuses are pouring, and my throat is scratchy. In short, I’m more miserable than is my usual state of Tamara-ness. While many of you are locked in a cold, dead world of winter where nothing pollen-like can assault you, I’m basking in the slow switch of seasons that will hold sway in southeast Georgia for at least another two weeks. It’s the time of year where I start my day by putting Kiddo on the bus in a coat and gloves, and then take him off the bus in shorts and a tank top. Leaves are still falling, and the air swirls with whatever it is that drives my body into allergy hell. 

Allergies are so new to me that an onset still makes me sure I’m coming down with a cold. I think ‘This sucks, but it will be over in a week. I’ll already be feeling human again within three days!’ But three days pass, then the week passes, and I’m still stuffy and running through a forest’s worth of tissues. My throat is so rough that I’m sure I could pass another forest through it and make you all nice, glass-smooth decks for Christmas. It feels like a portable sander in there. 

Ah yes, it just has to happen during this time of year. I watch Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life with tears streaming down my cheeks ... not from the saccharine sweetness of those movies, but because of allergies. Singing Christmas carols brings on a fit of coughing. If I time those bursts just right, I can follow along with the dog-barking version of ‘Jingle Bells’ pretty well. Considering how ear-melting my usual singing voice is, that’s probably a good thing. My head pounds in rhythm with the incessant chant of “I want, I want, I want...” that comprises the Gimme Lists of my two boys. Ugh. This is the gift that keeps on giving long after I scream, “Enough!” 

I hate cold weather. I hate snow. But I’m starting to weigh their inherent bleh-ishness against these twice a year visits from the Allergy Fairy. It may be that or moving to the desert.  

Just in case it comes down to that ... how does one put a star at the top of a cactus?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Facing Myself

I’m not young anymore. I haven’t acquired senior citizen status yet either. I’m kind of in that halfway place where my psyche feels like a kid, but my body feels like lying down and taking a nap. I am middle-aged. 

It’s not a bad place to be in the overall scheme of things. I’m in the best shape of my life. I have a successful career that I love. I have a pretty good family when I’m not tripping over all the crap they’ve left in the middle of the floor. It’s probably the best time I’ve known. 

Yet all is not well in the land of Happily-Ever-For-Now. For with every silver lining comes a little dark cloud. My particular blot on these sunny days appears in the mirror.  

Lines from movies appear in my memory much like the newly found lines on my reflection. Steel Magnolias: “Honey, time marches on and eventually you realize it’s marchin’ across your face.” Freaky Friday: “I look like the Crypt Keeper!” Ah yes, the roadmap of my life is there on my skin...literally. In relief. With gullies.


Next milestone in life: eating yogurt to help me poop.

It probably doesn’t help that it’s a magnifying mirror I’m staring in horror at. I try to comfort myself with the knowledge that of course every line and crease is going to appear when one’s face is bigger by 2 1/2 times. “So look in a normal mirror, idiot,” you might say. I would, but my eyes are as old as my face these days. I can’t see anything closer than a football field away anymore. I have to have the magnifying mirror which tells me things I don’t want to know. Like my face is beginning to resemble the moon Europa.

I hate it when my foundation settles in the cracks like that.

I do everything they say will help one’s aging appearance. I don’t smoke. My diet is healthy. I don’t drink much. For all my great love of wine, I indulge in only a glass a week. Instead, I drink tons of water, which they say is supposed to plump up the skin. I’m not seeing it. Instead, my toilet is on speed-run from all the water I drink. If anyone needs to find me, that’s probably where I am.

I slather on enough moisturizer to allow me to slide my head through a sewing needle. I try anti-aging serums. I pull my hair back in a tight ponytail in order to make the skin taut. I look like the Joker from Batman with my face tugged back so far. And yet those telltale signs of me not getting any younger remain.

With dewy youth behind me, I’m having to get used to that new visage in the mirror. I smile at the woman before me with sympathy, and then I wipe the smile off because of the crow’s feet that appear. And not just one crow, either. A whole flock stomped over me, apparently. Yet the lack of smile brings out the lines at the corners of my mouth. I can’t win.

It’s official: I have only two options now. I can either age or suffer the alternative. I could go on and on about mourning this, but there’s no point in it, is there? Besides, the water is kicking in again. I have to go.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday’s Serving – Willow in the Desert


Jon looked Arner over, amazed that the rough warrior would allow a ten-year old -- well, an almost eleven-year old -- to be his side man.  “How many Old Ones have you killed?” he had to ask.

Arner snorted.  “Hundreds.  Not nearly enough.”  He almost looked angry at himself for killing so few.  Jon didn’t think he knew anyone in Gander’s Gulch who had killed more than a dozen at the most.  His own father had killed only three.

Jon watched Arner stand absolutely motionless by the window.  The man didn’t so much as twitch a finger.  Only his eyes moved as he looked out over the middle of the town.  Jon didn’t think the sergeant would attract any attention, even if enemy eyes passed right over him. 

The boy made himself go totally still as he sat on the floor, to see if he could pull it off like Arner.  It wasn’t easy.  The instant he tried to be utterly motionless, stuff began to itch.

“I heard you Freetowners work with the ones who aren’t done transforming.  Becomings.  That they help you destroy the Pyramids.”  Jon tried saying this without moving his lips.

“We do.  While they’re still human enough to be safe.”

“What happens to them when they aren’t safe anymore?”

“We send them away.”

“They don’t come back?”

“No.  I make sure they don’t.”

Jon thought how awesome Arner was to be so feared that that Old Ones didn’t dare return to Freetown after they’d left.  He’d never met such a brave man before.

Arner’s voice was so low the boy had to strain to hear him.  “Quiet for a bit, Jon.  I see some mutants walking around, and we don’t know how well they hear.”

Jon clamped his mouth together.  He wouldn’t make a sound, not even if a rat came into the tower.  Not even if a rat bit him.  Because Arner wouldn’t let a rat bite faze him.  Heck, Jon almost wished a rat would come in and bite him, just so he could sit still and quiet and impress Arner.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Season’s Eatings


Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Here we are, smack dab in the middle of the Triad of Feasts. I’m trying to figure out if I’m in heaven or hell.

I love food. I love sweet, I love spicy, I love salty, I love sour. I love Italian, I love Chinese, I love Mexican ... I love international cuisine. I fell in love with my husband over a plate of sushi, for heaven’s sake.

Hotter than wasabi
Most of all, I love this time of year. Candy, particularly chocolate, on Halloween. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. Christmas morning cinnamon rolls for breakfast and ham, sweet potatoes, and pecan pie for dinner. Not to mention all the treats in between. And leftovers for days. It’s a food junkie’s dream. 

So why does the house ring with agonized groans? Because I can’t indulge as much as I’d like and fit into my pretty clothes. I must make the awful choice between happy food-induced coma or confidence in Armani. It’s down to sinful second helpings or Stella McCartney. Dessert or Dior. Gorging or Galliano. Devour or DVF.


My two obsessions clash head to head at this time of year: eating and designer wear (which I hunt like big game for pennies on the dollar). Which do I want more? Happy tummy gurgling contentedly around its cache of delicousness? Or attending the school holiday program in that absolutely to-die-for $800 Cavalli skirt that I found for $40? 

I’m an all-or-nothing kind of gal. Those who preach moderation would be horrified to witness me at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Just stand back and watch me re-create Everest on my tray...and then eat every last bite. I’d lick the plate if my parents’ well-remembered screams didn’t still echo in my head. I have no shame when it comes to food. 

But then there’s Versace. Grrr. 

All right, so it’s not just the clothes. I have a bigger reason for counting calories, even during this most edible time of the year. There were also all those months I invested in taking myself from a size 16 to a 4. Across the table sits the reminder of why I got into shape and why I keep myself there.


And his name is NOT Ralph Lauren

I used to be extremely unhealthy. I once ate all I wanted without a second’s pause. I bemoaned my weight, but I didn’t care enough to stop pigging out. Then one day I had an epiphany, right after I found out my blood pressure was going places it had never been before. I realized I want to be around to see the little guy turn into a big guy. Plus I have to be able to catch him before he runs into the street without looking for traffic, as he is wont to do. I can’t do that with my heart bursting or me stroking out because I let myself get out of control. 

So I will push away that double portion of stuffing. I will keep the pie slice down to a sliver with no scoop of ice cream. I will pretend to be content with that half-glass of egg nog. And I will try to not watch with envy as my metabolically blessed son eats everything I can’t and stays skinny. Lucky little beloved fiend.  

At least I get to suffer in style.



Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday’s Serving – The Willow and the Stone


“Your son is gravely ill from pneumonia,” Elijah said, rising from Jamie’s side. He tried to ignore Geraldine’s presence. How could she stand there with that hateful smirk when a child lay suffering only a few feet away? “He’s drowning in fluid. I might be able to save him by performing an emergency tracheotomy.”

“You ain’t gonna do nothin’ to Jamie.” The big man purpled in rage. He turned to his wife who sat crumpled and sobbing beside the gasping boy. “I told you not to bring this man in here!”

“This is my baby, my only child! I can’t stand by and do nothing!”

Elijah stared at him. “Dave, I don’t think you understand. Jamie is dying. I don’t think there’s anything I can do, but at least let me try.”

“No Satan worshipper is gonna use his poison to cure my boy,” Dave choked. “If God means to take him away, then it’s His will.”

“Not my boy! Don’t ... want him ... to die.” Sarah beseeched her husband through her harsh sobs.

Tears fell across Dave’s wide cheeks. He buried his face in his hands, unable to look at her.

“Let Dr. Webb save him, or God help me, I’ll never forgive you. If Jamie dies, you’re dead to me too!” Spittle flew from Sarah’s mouth as she went from begging to a mother’s desperate fury.

Geraldine’s shrewish voice cut into her wails. “Where’s your faith, woman? When God told Isaac to sacrifice his son to Him, did he cry and call on demons for help? Would you save your son’s life just to damn him and yourself to eternal Hell?”

Elijah looked from one person to another, incredulous. Had Geraldine actually brainwashed Dave into believing Jamie would be better off dead than to accept medical help? Surely they didn’t expect him to not try to save the child!

He laid a desperate hand on the other man’s shoulder. “Listen to me—”

“No, you listen.” Dave dropped his hands from his face. His skin blotched red. “Take this message to your demon friend Black Elk.”

Elijah saw him pull back, saw the big man’s hand clench, but didn’t believe he would actually hit him until the ham fist slammed into his jaw. Too surprised at first to feel the pain, he dropped to the ground.

Lying on the cold floor, his head ringing from the blow and darkness closing in, he gaped up at Dave. The despairing man bent toward him, his face twisted in a snarl. Elijah cringed as he reached for him.

Sarah’s lost scream stopped her husband. The last thing the doctor saw before blacking out was the wretched woman throwing herself across her son’s still, silent form.


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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In the Mind of a Writer

Okay, the title of this post should stipulate I’m not talking about just any writer. It’s about this writer. Me. Because I don’t know how anyone else’s, artistic or otherwise, works. I can only speak for myself. 

Folks, it’s a jungle in there.


And I never remember to bring a machete.

The biggest thing people who have to deal with me should understand is that I’m not all there. I don’t mean in a mental disorder fashion (although that almost certainly comes into play – no creative person has their feet firmly on the ground). What I mean is, I am not fully present in your company. I’m only half with you. Another part of my brain is writing, writing, ceaselessly writing. 

You and I might be sharing parenting angst, spousal angst, or any other kind of angst. (I’m angst-heavy, if you haven’t noticed.) I hear you. I’m in complete empathy. I’m truly devoted to what you’re saying. I care about how you feel. 

I’m also in the middle of watching people fight, make out, and pull devious tricks on each other. While you and I are deliberating over whether or not the world is coming to an end, I’m also memorizing the details of my latest hero’s finely chiseled body. This is why I’m often caught smiling at inappropriate times. My story heroes are always finely chiseled, a side effect of writing erotica under another name. I’ve got a never-ending parade of abs, biceps, and pecs marching by me. It’s a terrible, terrible burden. Poor me.


Can’t you just feel my pain right now?

I do try to give you my full attention. I really do. I work hard to be present in the moment. Yet my squirrely gray matter, bent on creating nonstop, will not shut down. It’s examining plot issues, creating dialogue, and brainstorming exciting action sequences with those muscular men that run amok in my head.  

It does not stop. 

I wake up thinking about my latest project. I eat meals wrapped in a writing-induced fog. I exercise while worrying over a story problem I’ve gotten myself into. I drift in a neverending sea of plot twists while coaching my son through homework. I do this while trying to live in the real world with its problems and responsibilities. I exist in two places at once.


I’ve done this since I was a child. My fantasy world has always been rich and beckons me with endless possibilities. It sings a siren song which draws me helplessly into its embrace. 

Welcome to my universe. It’s teeming with monsters and mayhem, tough heroines and dastardly villains. And chiseled men ... lots and lots of chiseled men. 

It’s tough being a writer.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday's Serving - Lilith's Return

Devon suddenly appeared, hurrying out of the back door to approach Lilith.  His downcast eyes darted nervously at the dozens of succubi who lounged on his patio.  Feminine trills rose around him, along with appreciative calls inviting him to enjoy his guests in a carnal fashion.  A fashion that Devon knew full well would get him killed in a hurry.  The fear in his eyes revealed he was all too aware of the danger his life was in.

As if a multitude of words would shield him from the destructive attentions of Lilith’s daughters, he began jabbering before he’d even rounded the corner of the pool.  “Security cameras have picked up several vehicles outside the property.  Two men are screwing around with the front gate.  I think they’re trying to disable the system to get in.”

At last.  Lilith stretched lazily, as if her foes were only a minor distraction, as if her heart wasn’t suddenly pounding in anticipation.  “Our enemies are here,” she announced. 

Devon reached her side.  With a solicitous if trembling hand, he helped her to her feet.  His flesh was sweaty on her skin.  “Should I call the police?  Have them arrested?”

She laughed.  “Not at all.  Let come in so I and my children can welcome them.”  Her army of succubi, though not as great as she’d hoped, still outnumbered the Segreto. 

Lilith’s confidence in her offspring came through in her next statement to her daughters, all of whom had risen and waited for the word to finish the ancient war once and for all.  “This world is ours.  We claim it now.”

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