Valentine’s Day Gift: That’s the Ticket!

I wrote a bit of short fiction for you today. Enjoy!


That’s the Ticket

Five years ago on Valentine’s Day, I met the man who would make all my dreams come true.

It had been raining all day, and the only color on main street were the pink and red splashes that lined most of the shop windows along the way. I felt as gray as the weather, walking alone in a dress I couldn’t afford and now, given its bedraggled state, couldn’t return. He stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb in our small town, rushing down the sidewalk with a pointless newspaper held over his head in that expensive suit soaking up moisture as fast as it fell from the sky.

I’ve never played football, but when he rammed into me shoulder-first, sending me flying a few feet back and right up against the thick trunk of a sturdy tree, I was pretty sure I knew what it was like to be tackled by a line-backer.

He did stop to make sure I was okay, though he was obviously perturbed at the delay. I was perturbed at being thrown into a tree, and received a very polite apology before he took off again.

I think about him every year on this day. I go stand on that corner, snap a selfie under that tree, and I wonder where he is and how he’s doing. My friends and I toss back a shot in his honor, knowing that he doesn’t know my name and probably has no memory of me or that brief encounter that changed my life forever.

I’m guessing he doesn’t remember the lottery ticket I lifted from his suit jacket, either.

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The Fright Night Train to NaNoWriMo

Happy Halloween! As you read this (if you read it Tuesday the 31st), I’ll be frantically scurrying around finishing up the prep for our Halloween yard haunt. Or handing out glowing bags of toxic waste (okay, candy, but the bags will be glowing) in our bright yellow hazmat suits (thank goodness they don’t breathe – it’ll be chilly out there this year). We’re doing a Radioactive theme, so UV lights and glowing slime are the main attractions. Just the thing to make our zombie baby crew happy. I’m not sure the skeletons are all that impressed, but the campers and banjo players seem content enough.

Fingers crossed the slime turns out. As I write this, it’s still not made, and I only have internet recipes and a bunch of ingredients waiting for that sweet, sweet chemical reaction. We shall see. I really should have bought more blacklights. And tonic water. Hmm.

I’m planning to create a scrapbook layout in my journal to commemorate the event with photos, so I’ll post a pic of that online once I have it done. This coming weekend, probably.

Next Stop: The Land of Writing Madness
Wednesday is the first day of November, which is also the first day of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or “NaNo” for short). If you’ve been reading here long, you’ve heard of it – I’ve participated on and off since 2004 – and I used to win (write 50,000 words in a month) regularly when I first started, though not so much the last few times I participated. Tempest and Desert Heat were both NaNo novels, as were several that were never published.

This year, I’m getting back to the keyboard with a fictional memoir/story prequel to the book I’m currently working on, in order to establish the backstory I need for my current novel draft already in progress (I know that might sound a bit convoluted, but it makes sense to me). If it turns out to be a decent draft, I’ll clean it up and publish it. If not, I’ll still end up with the backstory I need, and hopefully a much better daily writing habit than I currently have (and much faster than the 250 words a day I’m doing now).

Do I know what’s in the story yet? Um, no. That’s the whole point – Madeline Hunter needs to tell me her story, so I can tell her great, great granddaughter what she went through, so that Lauren and her daughter Maddie (named for Madeline) can make it through their own story. While I know some of the highlights (and low-lights) of Madeline’s story, I need all the juicy details that one can only get directly from the character as she’s moving through life while I watch and type.

I’ll be posting excerpts every Friday of my writing for that week throughout the month, so check back then (or watch your email/social media) for those posts if you’re interested in following along.

Will you be discovering someone’s story this month?

Head over to the NaNoWriMo site at, and check it out! Even if you’re not normally a writer, you can be in November! My husband participates in NaNo whenever I do, and just deletes his drafts after…I don’t even get to see them. So, don’t be afraid, jump in and give it a try!

Already signed up for NaNo? My username is “outofwords” on the site (I don’t know if that profile link will work or not, but you can try it, if you’d like). Look me up – let’s connect!

That’s it for this week! If you have a favorite thing to share, or want to recommend a book, TV show, video or podcast, comment below, email me at, or catch up with me on Facebook or Instagram.

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Bibliophile or Bookworm?

When I was younger, I never really made a distinction between being a reader and being a book collector/bibliophile. I thought it was all the same thing. I loved reading, and I also loved books as objects, so it never occurred to me that there might be readers who didn’t also love books.

I’m not really sure how I missed that, considering that my mom is one such person. She reads (and has always read) constantly…she was even a school librarian for many years, but somehow, she never needed more than one bookshelf for herself. And even that wasn’t ever full.

Chalk it up to the self-centeredness of youth, but I actually never realized she didn’t keep books after reading them until I’d moved out, and started buying them as gifts for her here and there. She would read them, and pass them on, and I was a little put off by that for a great while. I couldn’t understand why she’d give such a gift away, even after professing to having “loved” it.

Of course she was constantly asking if I wanted this or that book she’d just read, and some I’d take, and others not, depending on if they interested me or not. Of course those books are all still on my shelves, because unlike her, I can’t bear to part with books, unless I absolutely hate them (and even then, I tend to keep them around because…

Well, I’m not sure, exactly.

My book hoarding/collecting tenancies started when I was young. We didn’t have much money (or any, a lot of the time), so we checked a lot of books out from the bookmobile, which parked by our apartment complex once a week. On occasion, we rode the bus downtown to the library, which was like a giant candy-store to me, and checked out large stacks of books to take home and read before they had to be given back.

So when I was gifted a book on my birthday or Christmas, often inscribed with a short message from the giver just inside the front cover, that was special. I treasured those books and couldn’t imagine ever giving them up. My personal library grew slowly but surely over the years, and when I finally got a job, I paid for my own clothes, gas, insurance, fast food, and bought books every chance I got.

I kept fiction and non-fiction alike, and I drooled for weeks over a beautiful leather-bound, decorative version of Gone With the Wind seen in our local used bookstore when I was in college. I wanted it, so badly, but it was $200, and I did not have the money. I still think about that book, over twenty years later, lamenting that I never was able to add it to my collection.

When I finally bought my first house, moving my books was the first thing I thought of, and four years later when I got married and moved into our current house with my husband, there was never any doubt in my mind that I’d be moving a bunch of books. Although…I’d say that’s definitely the thing I dread most about moving – carrying boxes of books.

I have a Kindle, and a Nook (somewhere), and the Kindle app on my phone. I do read ebooks occasionally, as they’re easy to access when I’m not home. But it’s not the same for me. They feel…ethereal, and when people complain that ebooks shouldn’t cost as much as a print book, I kind of agree with them, because there’s a large part of the experience that’s missing for me when reading an ebook. Yes, the story’s there, and theoretically, it’s no different than turning real pages, and it’s far, far easier to make the text bigger when necessary, but with an ebook, I don’t have the actual object to keep, to look at, to take down off the shelf and thumb through the pages, getting caught up in a random page of text that suddenly makes me want to read the whole thing again.

Though obviously, that’s why attics and basements are notoriously difficult to clean out.

This isn’t a “are ebooks or print books better” post (I am all for stories existing in every form possible), but a recent conversation with a friend about the “problem” of collecting physical books and not wanting to get rid of them has me thinking about books and what they are to different people. I think it’s interesting to note that while some of us readers are also book collectors, others are not, and the two perspectives can make for a rather wide abyss.

Will I ever get to the point where I can let go of my physical books and be content with only the “content” in digital form? Perhaps, I suppose, but I dare say only when I’m unable to move with and enjoy the physical collection any longer. And probably never for some things, like recipe books and “how tos”. Because it’s comforting to me that if someday all the electronics get fried by an electromagnetic pulse, and Google ceases to exist (along with ebooks), the information on how to survive and prosper will still exist somewhere in a physical book, for people to find and decipher.

This thinking of books as collectable objects has given me renewed motivation to get my own books back into print…or the ones that have been languishing waiting for me to finish the updates, anyways. What better books to keep in my collection than those I’ve written myself, eh?

What about you? Are you a bibliophile, a bookworm, or both?

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Fiction Friday: In the Snowstorm

For this first Fiction Friday (Fiction Friday continued? Whatevs…), I thought I’d share a quick bite I wrote for the writing class I took in December. Partly because it’s about snow, and we’ve had virtually none this year. I miss snow. *sigh*
, and Happy Friday!

Nick tucked his chin and nose down into the thick woolen scarf his grandmother had knit years ago, and fought to steal a full breath against the cruel wishes of the icy sideways snow that pelted his skin with microscopic needles. Tiny pellets tapped at his rough canvas coat, and stung his legs through not-thick-enough acid-washed jeans. He hadn’t wanted to bother with heavy boots and thick socks for the drive into town, a decision he regretted as he dragged one tennis shoe after the other through two-foot high drifts, his feet already numb and clumsy.

The old Toyota had gone on strike in front of the Meadowlark County Courthouse, an imposing, three-story square stone building to the north only just visible through the fierce flurry biting and whistling at Nick’s ears. A single illuminated globe hanging from a small stone awning cast a wide, reflected glow over the stately stairs and double wooden doors that led inside. It was the tallest building in Juniper Falls, and also one of the least likely to be populated on a Sunday.

Small town Montana had seemed like a good idea last spring. He leaned into the storm and trudged forward to forge a path where he thought the sidewalk went, wishing the cell service didn’t suck.

Southern California was probably nice right about now. Hawaii, too. No storms howling like a wolf through the night, just waiting for its prey to nod off before making a final attack.

Tilting his head to the south just slightly, Nick peered through the ice flakes on his eyelashes across the road at the shadowy outlines of buildings almost completely hidden behind the gauzy static. One church-shaped with a prominent steeple, another flat and squat like an oversized shipping box. Both dark, without even a curl of smoke to wish on. Closed for the winter.

The cold wind-wolf snapped at his head and he stumbled, falling sideways into a deep, soft bank that cradled his body as he sunk deep and rolled to his back. It was quieter inside, the cold not so sharp, the smell of fresh ice reminiscent of snowcones. He stuck out his tongue, tasted the snow-slush, not so cold as he’d been just seconds before.

He should get up, keep moving. Someone would be at the bar.

There was always someone at the bar.

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