Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Wharf Rat

It’s strange how things work out. I’ve always enjoyed driving around in the fog. It helps me clear my mind; add clarity when I’m troubled. And… I really needed that centering of my soul when I stormed out of the house in a fit of rage after arguing with Mom, the hairdresser, the know it all, retired.
   The problem is, the house is mine and I’m no longer that rebellious teenager of fifteen, but she doesn’t see it that way. I own a profitable software company and make informed decisions on a daily basis. Yet, she insists on treating me like a child, criticizing everything from my choice of men, or lack of, the way I dress, and my diet.
Mom moved in with me a year ago against my better judgment, but I gave in because she could no longer afford that ramshackle mausoleum I grew up in. Besides, in thirty years, I’ve never won an argument with her.
   Dad dumped the house, and me, on Mom fifteen years ago. She should have sold it right then. Instead, she waited until she was forced to file bankruptcy and lost everything.
Mom was never good with reality and still clings to a crazy notion he’ll come slinking back one day, fall on his knees and beg her forgiveness. Like he’s going to give up mistress #four, or #five, or whatever number he’s on, and return to a world of responsibility.
I rolled down the windows to allow the cold and dampness to seep in. There’s a strange, other worldliness of beauty about the misty fog rolling off the ocean. It’s laden with the smell of salt, fish, seaweed, and myriad other things unlike any I’ve ever known. If I stay away too long, I have cravings I can’t explain.
I drive down to the jetty whenever time allows. I wallow in the sights and smells I can’t get anywhere else. At times, I think I must have been a salty mariner in a past life. Either that or I’m a wharf rat at heart.
The condensation dripping from the deserted warehouses creates a staccato symphony that soothes away my stress after a long day at work. Mom would go into hysterics if she knew where I was. Just one more bone of contention between us.
This place was old before I was born. Time and the economy haven’t been kind, either. I’ve seen homeless people take up residence now and again, but they don’t last long. The bums and winos give it a wide birth. My mother claims it’s haunted… Little does she know what really goes on here.
I’ve been coming here for years, but I’ve never felt threatened even though it’s in a rundown part of town. Maybe that’s because of Eugene. I met him on my twentieth birthday after a big row with Mom. No matter how long I stay away, or how often I come back, he’s here for me.
Eugene died sometime between 1850 and 1870 from a gunshot wound in the back. He grows evasive when I try to pin him down. He occasionally talks about being a sailor during the Civil War, but claims he never took sides. I like to fantasize he was a rollicking buccaneer fleeing from the law.
Tonight, I’ve worn my sexiest, thigh high spiked boots, lacy underwear, and done my hair and makeup in a Goth style; lots of black makeup. I tried dressing like Scarlet O’Hara once, and he hated it. The more outlandish my attire, the more he likes it.
That’s what sparked the argument with Mom tonight. She says I look like one of her clients who claimed the best sex she ever had was in a cemetery on top of one of the graves. I told her that was nonsense. She knows cemeteries give me the creeps.
Here comes Eugene now. He’s dressed as a pirate, one of my favorite embodiments. That’s enough reflection for now. Eugene doesn’t like to be kept waiting.
Oh, Mom, what would you think if you could see me now?


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

It's all Relative


(A Study in Contradiction)

     I snaked down the highway late that early morning like a slug on slippery ice. I kept my eyes peeled for danger as they hung at half mast in a dog-tired stupor. My mother, who was healthy as a horse, called (again) to say she was cavorting on her deathbed. I was awake even though I’d been sound asleep when she rang, so I threw on the flowered muumuu that Mother had bestowed upon me some years ago.
In a hurry, I jogged around the park several times in order to go directly to my pukely green Studebaker that everyone either adores or abhors. It took me several attempts before I realized I was trying to insert the trunk key into the ignition. Correcting my error, I swiftly cranked the engine and slammed the car in gear. In a billowing cloud of acrid, sweet oily smoke, I roared away from the curb at a dangerous fifteen miles per hour. At the last moment, I thought to scan the empty street for cruising cops on the prowl for unsuspecting speedsters such as myself.
As I stared into the headlights of the retreating eighteen wheelers, I wondered what it would be this time. Mother has a way of over embellishing. I’m her only son, though she calls me her daughter, and she takes morbid pleasure in getting me agitated. Maybe that’s because she’s really my father and hasn’t figured it out yet.
     The last time she’d called in a panic had been when she nearly decapitated her huge miniature poodle, Trixi, with the electric hedge clippers. Well, at least that was her rendition of the not-quite catastrophic events that she left on my answering machine.
As always, I dropped everything, including the dozen eggs I was putting in the fridge to race to her side at the vet’s office. I should have known better. Mother had amputated Trixi’s tail, not her head. Messy, but not lethal.
     At the hospital, I drove around the lot five times before I found a place to sequester the Studebaker in the empty parking garage. Leave it to Mother to pick the most inconvenient time to stage one of her deathbed charades. Then the elevator jammed on the sixteenth floor and I had to walk all the way to her room on the first.
As I approached Mother’s room, the expensive aroma of her cheap perfume wafted down the hall toward me. I have no idea why she squanders her fortune for it at the most expensive department stores in town. The scent sparked nostalgic, bittersweet memories of brainless evenings spent at home with Mother. Needless to say, I was plenty riled when I stormed quietly through her door.
     “Mother, what is it now,” I demanded in a huff.
     Dressed in a chartreuse and magenta negligee, she had her back turned to me as I entered. Her radiant face slowly spun toward me to reveal a cigarette flopping from her ruby red, pink lips. An emaciated ribbon of smoke curled up through what should have been her eyelashes except she’d singed them off with that blasted Zippo torch (lighter) of hers. “Checkers, I knew you’d come,” she breathed in a roar.
“Checkers was your dog, Mother. You know? The one you ran over with the car. I’m Sebastian, your son. Or have you cured your brain with too much rancid cranberry juice? You called and said you were dying. So what has your overgrown pea brain concocted this time?”
“Jerusha, is that you? Come closer dear, my eyes fail me.” She beamed like a radioactive lighthouse on steroids.
“I’m Sebastian, Mother.”
“Martha, are you there?”
“Sebastian, Mother. Get it right, or I’m leaving this very minute.” I couldn’t help but notice that she’d also managed to burn off most of her eyebrows and black bangs. I guess that was all right since she’s a blond. “Mother, they don’t allow smoking in the hospital. Put out that cigarette immediately. Besides, I thought I took your Zippo away the last time I saw you.”
“You did, Gloria, but your father gave me a lifetime supply.” She flipped the top of the lighter open and shut, open and shut with a calculated, bovine look on her face.”
“You are my father,” I snapped. “And for the last time, my name is Sebastian.”
The lighter went swish, pop, swish, pop nearly driving me to a violently mild act of inhuman kindness. “Yes, I suppose you’re correct, Lyman. About your father that is. So, I suppose I gave myself a gift, but I simply can’t remember for sure.”
“Oh, what is it, Sebastian?” She gave me a shrewd gaze through her muzzy eyes. “You’re becoming a grade ‘A’, No.1 pain in the butt these days. Why don’t you toddle off home like a good girl, and I’ll call you again. Then, we can start this conversation all over.”
That blasted lighter went swish, pop, swish, pop without a moment’s pause. She knew how the sound irritated me and was just trying to get a rise out of me. I bit down hard on my right hand to keep from leaping wildly on her and burning off the remainder of her hair. “Give me that thing, Mother. You’re driving me insane!”
“Who’s insane, dear? Surely, you’re not calling me insane.” Her eyes widened to barely a slit, daring me to say more.
Suddenly, she looked at me like I was a complete stranger, “Why, Althea, what are you doing here? I have to tell you, the service is intolerable. And the food is absolutely barbaric. I should have checked in at the Ritz Carlton.”
And the lighter went, swish, pop, swish, pop. I serenely ran my fingers through the hair on my bald head in frustration. Count to ten, I told myself. She is your mother, after all. Be patient with her, she’s not in her right mind. Of course, she hasn’t been in her right mind for the past twenty years. Not since the sex change operation.
“Lila, can I light you a cigarette?” she asked with a morose little smirk and an impossible flourish of the Zippo. This time it went swish, rrrr as she rolled the little wheel against the flint and then…WHOOSH! Deliberately, she moved it closer to the privacy curtain surrounding her bed.
“Put that thing away before someone calls the fire department,” I screamed. “Mother, will you please tell me why it was necessary for me to risk life and limb to race down here just to watch you play with that flipping Zippo.”
“Now, Ethel…”
“Mildred, I...”
“That’s it mother, I’m leaving.” With a swish of my pink and orange flowered muumuu, I whirled smartly on my heel and ran smack dab into the door.
“Goodbye, Sebastian. What a lovely chat we’ve had. See you tomorrow?”


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

You Write Fantasy?

Stonehenge sanctuary -

That's a question I get from people quite often. Maybe it's the graying hair, or the sagging body and drooping eyelids, or just the fact than I'm a grandmother, but people have a hard time believing that I write fantasy. And I ask in return, "Why not?"

When you come to think about it, there's no research when you make up your own world. Rules of writing still apply, but forget the rules of physics. It's my world, and welcome to it. I can make my characters outrageous, heroic, evil or pitiful as the need arises. They can walk on their hands and breathe through their bums, if that's what I decide. It's called fantasy.

Obviously, my characters should be believable because I don't want to alienate my readers. But what fun would it be if everything followed the same old, same old? There are worlds out there we know nothing about.

I spent way too many years with my feet "planted firmly on the ground" to quote my father who thought having an imagination was a mortal sin. The man refused to even read fiction. How sad! Mankind would never have come down from the trees, discovered gravity, gone to the moon or invented smart phones without an imagination.

I raised two kids by myself, worked full time, kept the house and did the yard work, and kept my feet firmly planted on the ground for most of my life, I forgot there was any other way to act. I forgot how to dance. so now it's time to kick up my heels and boogie. Writing fantasy is my new dance.

Join me in world of The Light of Ishram if you dare.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Never Discount A Story Idea

See this funny little kid? That's my son Jason at the ripe old age of 9. It's all because of him that The Light of Ishram came about. His fourth grade teacher gave his class an assignment to write a short story with the help of a parent (me). You guessed it. That was just the beginning of a long journey. Twenty-two years later the first book in the series is complete, and we are celebrating Jason's 31st birthday this Wednesday.

I am currently working on a sequel, The Tower of Babel. Grig Dothrie,  Theron Raurk and company are back to battle the evil Cathari Bishop, Bodark.

So...never overlook an idea that might lead to a story-line. Even if nothing comes to mind immediately, file it away for later. If it's right, it'll always be there.

Here's a link in case anyone would like to pre-order The Light of Ishram.   It will have a "Buy Now" button which will take people to the shopping cart/PayPal. Retail is 14.97.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


I was struggling with my hair the other day, and happened to think about the same problem when I was in high school. I've always had silky, baby-fine, board straight fluff instead of real hair, but now it seems that it's getting even finer and straighter. Or, as my hairdresser says it's loosing girth. My hair is loosing weight which seems to be moving to my butt. Go figure!

What does this have to do with high school? Well... In the mid-sixties we never thought about having "big" hair, but the style was to rat the devil out of our golden locks, smooth it down, and spray like crazy with Aqua Net. (Although the surfers parted their hair down the middle and looped it behind the ear.) Today, we say "back comb" to achieve the effect of abundant hair sufficient to make up for that skinny hair. And a 59 cent can of Aqua Net has turned into a $15, or more, can of freeze hold spritz. Something that is strong, but allows your hair to move naturally. At least that's what the ad claims.

If you believe that, I have this bridge for sale...

I've left the house everyday for years with a helmet of hairspray and that doesn't appear to be changing in the near future. Just don't get close to me with a match.

Friday, September 20, 2013


What started out as a love for reading in third grade has turned into a passion. So many times I thought how did this person get published? Or, I could do better than this. Have I written a better book? I think so, but I can only hope that other people will agree.

It's hard to believe that my first book will be published this year. I've done all the edits, gotten an author's picture taken, coerced a couple of friends to endorse it, written my biography, a dedication, and a teaser for the back cover. Later today, after I make sure everything is in order, I send it back to the publisher.

The Light of Ishram has been a long time in the making. The original story line was born when my son had a fourth grade writing assignment to do with a parent. Obviously, the story has grown, taken a few unexpected turns, and morphed into a different entity.

To say I'm excited is a gross understatement. I'm still pinching myself to make sure I'm not dreaming.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Sequel Writing

When you write a sequel, the question is whether to make it completely independent, or dependent on the first book. I'm facing that dilemma now. I don't want to rehash everything, but there has to be references to make the story coherent. I do draw the line when it comes to flashbacks.

I keep asking myself is it enough, or too much? Will people understand without reading the first novel? Thank God for my critique group. They keep me from going off the deep end. I can't afford to pull out what little hair I have left.

Around and around I go. Somebody make it stop!

I'd invite anyone with an opinion to leave a comment.