Happy Halloweenie Ghouls and Boils ( #TBT )

Hold out your eyes for a Halloween treat.

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Hold out your eyes and I’ll give you a little insight plus the beginning and the ending of Smoke Free.

Smoke Free is a weird little story conceived in the smoke of a brush pile. The photos below show the cover; the first photograph and the finished cover.

Smoke Free is probably the only book cover we have not changed at least a dozen times. The truth is I have never wanted to change it. I love this cover and the image of that little pumpkin smoking a cigar never fails to amuse me. (I have the husband to thank for that.)

I had never heard of Irwin Smutter before that day and he (like the cigar smoking pumpkin) still amuses me with his absolute weirdness; him and the bizarre world he resides in.

Okay, here you go.

In the beginning…

Irwin marched down the stark white hallway with the impudence of a man on a mission. At the end of corridor, a glass door awaited with the words FREE YOUR SELF painted in large gold letters. He raised a curled fist to knock but decided against it. Easing the door open he called out, “Yoo-hoo. Is anyone home?” when no one responded he grudgingly entered the room and scanned its contents.

The room appeared empty other than an oversized sofa. Irwin reposed himself against the frigid vinyl, crossed his feet and sighed. A lively timbered scene covered the wall opposite the door, designed in such a way it almost looked like a window. Beyond the dull sheen of the pretend window was a forest where rays of sunshine cut through a smoky haze. The remaining walls were un-textured, pale and bare. The room smelled of sandalwood and acetone, a bizarre sweetness that sickened and comforted him at the same time. Irwin shifted nervously on the stiff upholstery in search of a warm spot. There was none.

The faux leather, the lifeless walls, the fake window – it was all too unsettling. Nothing is real, he thought, stretching his arms until his hands met above his head. Fads! The world has been reduced to kooks, phonies, and fads. Reassured by his own summation, Irwin interlaced his fingers and stretched further. When the joints in his entwined hands refused to pop, he rested them at the base of his neck.

Smoking cessation. Yeah, right. It was not Irwin’s idea. Irwin enjoyed smoking. The pungent smell of a fresh-lit cigarette made bitter coffee sweet. Smoking was one of the few things he looked forward to each day.  A good smoke, a little booze, a lot of caffeine and Evie.

His wife, Evie was a non-smoker and she did not mind, she had never complained, but again, Evie never complained about anything. Evie was a saint.

So what am I doing here? Peer pressure. That was the only logical explanation. All of his friends had stopped smoking months ago. There is nothing more annoying than an ex-smoker. Irwin’s mind zigzagged trying to connect the dots, the trail of crumbs that had lead him here to this place where he was expected to free himself.

Evenings at the local tavern were not the same, instead of cheers and jokes the gang sat around bellyaching about a handful of smokers in the far corner. It wasn’t fun anymore. Irwin thought as he strained to recall the last time he had hung out with any of them, the last time he had stopped by the saloon on the way home. He could not remember. A few of his buddies had dropped by the house for a beer once or twice a week but then…

It occurred to Irwin he had been isolated for some time; cut off from society. Who needs them? Not me, I don’t have time for chewing the fat. He dug his heels into the armrest, tensed his abdominal muscles and forced a few halfhearted sit-ups. I’m healthy, a hell of a lot healthier than those slobs. Heck, Frank can’t see his ding-a-ling without a mirror. Irwin laughed aloud at the image of his friend groping for his penis. Poor bastard, he groaned, starring up at the flat alabaster ceiling, Frank’s a good guy. The kindest, most nonjudgmental man I have ever met… hey! Irwin bolted upright, Frank is my best friend.

When the sparkle abated from the realization, Irwin flopped back into a prone position and began a set of leg-lifts. Good ole Frank. Poor bastard. Dean and Will, now there is a couple of bonafide jerks!  Irwin scoffed to himself, holding his un-embellished feet at heart level, Health fanatics! You can smell Dean a mile away— wreaking of curry and cumin. And Will, with his dead man farts –methane poison. Both of them—with their stained yellow skin.

Irwin snickered at the memory of Frank again, the last memory of the saloon he could clearly recall. Dean and Will who were frequently referred to as Mutt and Jeff, and the sight of their jaundiced eyes–unwavering.  Long, lanky Dean slumped over his mug of warm Bud, squatty Will knocking back shots of cheap Vodka and the rank cloud of gas that always followed them.

“Dang! What are you two eating?” Frank had asked. When neither answered he pressed on, “It smells like you’re on the verge of shittin’ a dead man. What are you little tree huggers eatin’? Are y’all eatin’ people?” Irwin recalled Frank’s hearty laugh at his joke and smiled, until he remembered the response. Dean– shivering but never looking up.  Will with that cocky glare, wriggling his thin eyebrows and slamming his glass down on the table for effect, grinning through pink jagged teeth. “No one under the age of eighteen.”

“Screw it.” Irwin said aloud as he swung himself into a sitting position. He grabbed the package of Camels from his shirt pocket. Despite the shaking, he managed to free a cigarette without breaking it. He tapped the filter against his palm a few times and gently set it between his lips. His right hand habitually swept the pocket of his 501 jeans to retrieve the Zippo. Irwin studied the chrome lighter, rubbing his thumb across the engraving. “I loved your heart too Evie.” He whispered. Within the sound of two clicks, a beautiful orange flame emerged. Irwin closed his eyes and pulled the smoke deep into his lungs. The hissing crackle of dried tobacco had always eased his trembling. The feel of his Zippo, a gift from Evie, had always soothed his mind. I LOVE YOUR HEART was barely visible after years of stroking. He exhaled and imagined the writings of e.e. cummings. i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart). He fantasized about Evie, her soft white breasts against his back as she convinced him to be more accepting of lowercase letters and lower class people. Perfect breasts that now–

Just before The End…

Irwin and Evie spent their days and nights exploring endless trails. Time meant nothing to them now. Irwin was not sure how long he had been in this place, but it had been long enough to learn a few things. One: the sun never goes down. Two: there is no need for sleep and three: sometimes the boils come on slowly. He consoles himself with knowing Evie never minded his smoking.

Happy Halloween!

Available wherever e-books are sold.

Smoke Free narrated by Troy McElfresh

Behind Door Number Four (And Where the Heck is Donald Crowley?)

I would like to think Donald Crowley would be impressed with this new cover but he (for whatever reason)  is not returning my calls.

Encase you don’t know Don, here’s a little bit about him — or rather his past.

Donald S. Crowley was a CPA by day; a bean counter; a number cruncher and a certified bore. By night he was as stimulating as the hero in his latest read with all the social skills of a brick and to make matters worse he was in love with a door. Not just any door, number four was special. Her alluring smile had caught Donald’s eye when he was just a boy and she called him by name. Despite years of therapy and medications she still called to him. Now he would risk his life to see her again and to finally know what lay behind
Door Number IIII.

Available wherever e-books are sold.

Happy Halloweenie Ghouls and Boils (From Start to Finish – Tuesday’s Tell All)

Hold out your eyes for a Halloween treat.

Smoke Free is a weird little story conceived in the smoke of a brush pile. The photos below show the cover from start to finish. Hold out your eyes and I’ll give you a little insight plus the beginning and the ending of Smoke Free.

Smoke Free is probably the only book cover we have not changed at least a dozen times. The truth is I have never wanted to change it. I love this cover and the image of that little pumpkin smoking a cigar never fails to amuse me. (I have the husband to thank for that.)

I had never heard of Irwin Smutter before that day and he (like the cigar smoking pumpkin) still amuses me with his absolute weirdness; him and the bizarre world he resides in.

Shall I cue the witch’s laugh again?

No!

Okay, here you go.

In the beginning…

Irwin marched down the stark white hallway with the impudence of a man on a mission. At the end of corridor, a glass door awaited with the words FREE YOUR SELF painted in large gold letters. He raised a curled fist to knock but decided against it. Easing the door open he called out, “Yoo-hoo. Is anyone home?” when no one responded he grudgingly entered the room and scanned its contents.

The room appeared empty other than an oversized sofa. Irwin reposed himself against the frigid vinyl, crossed his feet and sighed. A lively timbered scene covered the wall opposite the door, designed in such a way it almost looked like a window. Beyond the dull sheen of the pretend window was a forest where rays of sunshine cut through a smoky haze. The remaining walls were un-textured, pale and bare. The room smelled of sandalwood and acetone, a bizarre sweetness that sickened and comforted him at the same time. Irwin shifted nervously on the stiff upholstery in search of a warm spot. There was none.

The faux leather, the lifeless walls, the fake window – it was all too unsettling. Nothing is real, he thought, stretching his arms until his hands met above his head. Fads! The world has been reduced to kooks, phonies, and fads. Reassured by his own summation, Irwin interlaced his fingers and stretched further. When the joints in his entwined hands refused to pop, he rested them at the base of his neck.

Smoking cessation. Yeah, right. It was not Irwin’s idea. Irwin enjoyed smoking. The pungent smell of a fresh-lit cigarette made bitter coffee sweet. Smoking was one of the few things he looked forward to each day.  A good smoke, a little booze, a lot of caffeine and Evie. His wife was a non-smoker and she did not mind, she had never complained, but again, Evie never complained about anything. Evie was a saint. So what am I doing here? Peer pressure. That was the only logical explanation. All of his friends had stopped smoking months ago. There is nothing more annoying than an ex-smoker. Irwin’s mind zigzagged trying to connect the dots, the trail of crumbs that had lead him here to this place where he was expected to free himself.

Evenings at the local tavern were not the same, instead of cheers and jokes the gang sat around bellyaching about a handful of smokers in the far corner. It wasn’t fun anymore. Irwin thought as he strained to recall the last time he had hung out with any of them, the last time he had stopped by the saloon on the way home. He could not remember. A few of his buddies had dropped by the house for a beer once or twice a week but then…

It occurred to Irwin he had been isolated for some time; cut off from society. Who needs them? Not me, I don’t have time for chewing the fat. He dug his heels into the armrest, tensed his abdominal muscles and forced a few halfhearted sit-ups. I’m healthy, a hell of a lot healthier than those slobs. Heck, Frank can’t see his ding-a-ling without a mirror. Irwin laughed aloud at the image of his friend groping for his penis. Poor bastard. He groaned, starring up at the flat alabaster ceiling, Frank’s a good guy. The kindest, most nonjudgmental man I have ever met… hey! Irwin bolted upright, Frank is my best friend.

When the sparkle abated from the realization, Irwin flopped back into a prone position and began a set of leg-lifts. Good ole Frank. Poor bastard. Dean and Will, now there is a couple of bonafide jerks!  Irwin scoffed to himself, holding his un-embellished feet at heart level, Health fanatics! You can smell Dean a mile away— wreaking of curry and cumin. And Will, with his dead man farts –methane poison. Both of them—with their stained yellow skin.

Irwin snickered at the memory of Frank again, the last memory of the saloon he could clearly recall. Dean and Will who were frequently referred to as Mutt and Jeff, and the sight of their jaundiced eyes–unwavering.  Long, lanky Dean slumped over his mug of warm Bud, squatty Will knocking back shots of cheap Vodka and the rank cloud of gas that always followed them. “Dang! What are you two eating?” Frank had asked. When neither answered he pressed on, “It smells like you’re on the verge of shittin’ a dead man. What are you little tree huggers eatin’? Are y’all eatin’ people?” Irwin recalled Frank’s hearty laugh at his own joke and smiled, until he remembered the response. Dean– shivering but never looking up.  Will with that cocky glare, wriggling his thin eyebrows and slamming his glass down on the table for effect, grinning through pink jagged teeth. “No one under the age of eighteen.”

“Screw it.” Irwin said aloud as he swung himself into a sitting position. He grabbed the package of Camels from his shirt pocket. Despite the shaking, he managed to free a cigarette without breaking it. He tapped the filter against his palm a few times and gently set it between his lips. His right hand habitually swept the pocket of his 501 jeans to retrieve the Zippo. Irwin studied the chrome lighter, rubbing his thumb across the engraving. “I loved your heart too Evie.” He whispered. Within the sound of two clicks, a beautiful orange flame emerged. Irwin closed his eyes and pulled the smoke deep into his lungs. The hissing crackle of dried tobacco had always eased his trembling. The feel of his Zippo, a gift from Evie, had always soothed his mind. I LOVE YOUR HEART was barely visible after years of stroking. He exhaled and imagined the writings of e.e. cummings. i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart). He fantasized about Evie, her soft white breasts against his back as she convinced him to be more accepting of lowercase letters and lower class people. Perfect breasts that now–

Just before The End…

Irwin and Evie spent their days and nights exploring endless trails. Time meant nothing to them now. Irwin was not sure how long he had been in this place, but it had been long enough to learn a few things. One, the sun never goes down. Two, there is no need for sleep and three; sometimes the boils come on slowly. He consoles himself with knowing Evie never minded his smoking.

Happy Halloween!

Available wherever e-books are sold.

Smoke Free narrated by Troy McElfresh

 

 

 

 

Tuesday’s Tell-All (My Life is a Bad Reality Show)

In May I introduced the newest member of our family, Pretty Kitty Puddin Jam.

In July I talked about Pretty Kitty Puddin Jam wanting to be a star and the attitude that ensued.

Now I have to tell you…

Hold on, this has been a hard thing for me to understand…

[sigh]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty Kitty is…

Pretty Kitty Puddin Jam (aka PKPJ) is….

Oh hell Jam is a Jim!

I know! I am so naïve… so unsophisticated!

I was also a bit distraught when I found out.

I tried to normalize the situation by calling him Jim but he refused to answer.  By this point I was so flustered I threatened to have him castrated… emasculated… de-dinglized.

He snubbed the threat and mewed, Pretty Kitty Puddin Jaaam.

“No!” I argued, “You are a tom – a Jim! Girls do not have tally-whackers!”

PKPJ then he purred two words that clarified everything –

Caitlyn. Jenner.

[Blubbering sigh]

I conceded to let him keep his male genitalia but no more news rags or television AND no more pretty bows!

 

 

Sometimes Truth Is Stranger than Fiction

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago I worked as a nurse. Nurses Janna & Jess.jpg

My daughter (on the left) is a nurse and many of my friends and family are still working in the field of nursing.

I could write forever about the combined experiences of a nursing career. As a matter of fact a few of those experiences fueled scenes in the fictional Clan Destiny series where the main characters (Clara, Linda and Maggie) are nurses. Mary Latrull (another fictional character) likes to pretend she is a nurse and would probably be a good one except –

Oops. I veered off track.

I mention the series now because this is National Nurses Week.

Happy Nurses week comrades, family and friends!

Oh poo, let me ramble off road for a minute and we’ll make this one of Tuesday’s Tell All.

Thinking on the series: when the books stood alone, before they were renamed the Clan Destiny series and before the reviews disappeared from Amazon I had a few comments that the stories were too “far-fetched” and unbelievable.  Yeah, nurses with paranormal abilities. Ha! I’m not sorry, that is why I called it fic-shun.

A handful of people (mostly “nurses”) suggested the medical terminology and/or procedures were incorrect. I know it was wrong but I had to call those to attention. Why? Because I kept “procedural” scenes to a minimum for lay reasons and if practice or terminology has changed that much in the last few years I honestly wanted to know. But nope…

The real thing ‘said nurses’ took issue with was the (occasional) disrespect and unprofessional behavior that I portrayed.  The strange thing is those scenes were all too real. Allow me to share.

Examples:

In book one Maggie curses a bit, insults a doctor and she and Clara have a confrontation, nearly coming to blows while on duty. One ‘said nurse’ says, “#1 no nurse would talk to a doctor like that and #2 Cursing and fighting on duty like hoodlums would never happen.” Truth? It happens. Been there, done that. Nursing is a stressful profession and nurses are human, sometimes we act stupid.

In book two Mary (as a patient) leaves the hospital against medical advice without signing the proper forms.  Another ‘said nurse’ says, “A patient would not be allowed to leave without signing the necessary documents.” I laughed myself silly. Truth? I have chased more than my share of irate, deranged and determined absconders while pleading with them “just sign this and you can go.” Hospitals, clinics and care centers are not prisons; you cannot hold someone against their will and you cannot make them sign a form to c.y.[own]a. (cover your [own] a**)

In book three Maggie, Linda and Clara laugh (in private) and refer to a patient, Mr. Stenchman, as Mean-as Stinky man or Mean-ass Stinky pants. An offended ‘said nurse’ says, “You should not depict nurses in such an unprofessional and unflattering way.” Truth? Sometimes we are unprofessional and ugly and sometimes the patient is a mean-ass stinky man.

I could rattle on about sordid affairs, fist fights, missing bodies/body parts, resurrections, insurance/benefit/patient abuse, medicare fraud and more but I won’t. Not today.

Yes, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

I may write a true tell-all one day but until then I’ll keep changing the names to protect the guilty, add a little ‘what if’  and focus on the fictitious person – not the true profession.

For all of you nurses [with or without imperfections] keep being the best that you can be. Thanks for shoving your own sh*t aside for 8 to 16 hours a day and caring even when it seems like you don’t.

 Happy Nurses Week!

nightingale pledge (1024x752).jpg

 

 

Life on the Farm (With Boudro the Fearless Boar)

While I was away, the husband renamed our dog. Buddy now wags his tail to Boudro.

The truth is, Buddy, ummm — I mean Boudro wags his tail to nearly everything. He is such a social creature. Life on the Farm (9) (1280x1085)

This morning I introduced him to my new pets.

Shhh, I know they may grow up to be BLT’s but let me have my moment, okay? Thank you.

Life on the Farm (5) (1280x931)

As I was saying, I introduced Boudro to Charlotte, Wilbur, Charles and Wilbur II. Now this crazy Chihuahua (who originally told me his name was Patrick) insists on being addressed as Boudro the Fearless BoarLife on the Farm (11) (1280x849)

Really?

Well… in this day and age, why not?!

The People of Puerto Vallarta

A couple of weeks ago (see Crazy Conversations) I mentioned going to Mexico with my daughter. I failed to mention my daughter’s friend was accompanying us, but I am so glad she did. She is a cute little thing and full of surprises. You should have seen the baggage handler’s face when she jumped out of the suitcase.

Priceless!
Sadly, she had to pay for the return flight.

Unrestricted buffet, endless alcoholic beverages and cup after cup [after cup] of elot’e made it impossible for her to fit back into the luggage. I am not even going to mention the ice-cream! I suppose all of those extra pounds calories put her over the edge.

That’s the only rationale I have to explain her picking a fight with a mild-mannered radio host at KISS FM, Big Al. It was a terrible sight! Her screaming and punching and cursing at him– she called him everything but Al!

All of that drama just because he sat down beside her. Brooke (800x552)

She is usually so sweet and passive.

As I said, she is full of surprises.
I could only watch in shock.

Thank goodness, the airline had not seated us together.

I glanced across the aisle at my daughter with one of those inquisitive mother looks. You mom’s know what I mean.

She responded by denying that she knew the poor girl and told the stranger sitting beside her, “she should be locked away.” When the polite stranger agreed, she went on to say,

“I had to have my mother put away.”

Of course, that piqued the stranger’s curiosity and she went on to ask why.

“She just lost her mind. Waking up at all hours of the night, clinking cups and banging doors, talking to herself… making up stories and laughing for no apparent reason… I couldn’t get a moments rest.”Jessica (800x532)

Hmm. See why I love this kid?!

Almost as much as I love the people of Puerto Vallarta.

Crazy Conversations (Genres)

Cotton, peas, your friends, your seat, your nose… There are a lot of things you can pick. Family isn’t one of them. Disclaimer: Life is crazy, people are crazier and my family… well they get the crazy award if there is one. This is a work of ‘true fiction’ inspired by family. The names have been changed to protect the guilty. CAUTION: They cuss.

I have had genre issues concerning one title in particular so a couple of weeks ago I (finally) asked my eldest sister for an opinion. Be careful what you ask for. And the category Is…

Sister: Hey, I just called to thank you for the book.

Me: Oh you’re quite welcome. So do you have an opinion on the genre?

Sister: Well I have to tell you it started off a little staggery. You know what I mean?

Me: As in slow and unsteady, I agree.  So what genre did you decide?

Sister: Clara seemed sort of dull at the beginning. I wasn’t sure what to make of her, you know?  She’s rather meek and reserved.

Me: True. But what category-

Sister: Thank goodness she shines further into the story. You need to show that in the first few pages. You might omit chapter one all together or incorporate one and two. I see what you were doing there and I’m all about character development but step it up a little.

Me: The book is already out. My current problem is the specific genre. What do you-

Sister: Well no need crying over spilled milk, right? Maggie is likable. I like Maggie, she’s spunky. No wonder Linda has issues. With a name like Mucalinda and a mother who runs a voodoo shop in New Orleans. Geez!

Me: Thanks. Other than fiction would you consider it –

Sister: I hated that Lafont character! Hate is a strong word I know but I absolutely hate him. He didn’t suffer near enough in my opinion but Levi isn’t the type to torture people. He just done what needed to be done. Taking care of business, I loved that about him. So is he really a-

Me: Speaking of business I need your opinion on the genre. Remember I asked for-

Sister: Oh it’s definitely romance. It almost verges on soft porn at times if you ask me. Your brother in law couldn’t believe you wrote that. He had a time with it. Were your ears burning?

Me: You let him read it?!The Rage Trilogy Cover for B&N

Sister: Sure. He agrees with me – it’s romance.

Me: No, I don’t think so.

Sister: Yes it is! I am a seasoned noveller, you asked for my opinion now don’t argue. With the relationships and intimacy throughout you have to know it’s a romance.

Me: I really didn’t think it was. I categorized it under paranormal fiction.

Sister: Maybe as a subcategory.  Now back to Levi, is he or is he not a-

Me: I’m not sure I should classify it as romance. One reader said-

Sister: I don’t give a damn what one reader said or one hundred for that matter. Do you know how many books I read a week? Sure you do that’s why you asked for my opinion. It’s a freaking romance.

Me: Okay. Don’t get your panties in a wad. So you want to know more about Levi but what about Vivian?

Sister: Vivian Cature? That wench has no redeeming qualities. I despise her.

Me: But she came from a troubled background. Aren’t you the least bit empathetic?

Sister: So what. That is an excuse! Everyone has junk in their past. No, she was looking out for number one and the way she treated her own daughter- not just the way she treated her friend but her own daughter! I don’t forgive her and I have no sympathy for her. Nope, I cannot abide such. She is a sociopath. She and that worthless man-whore deserved one another.

Me: You know they aren’t real people, right?

Sister: Well of course I know that but girl I cried twice. Oh, when Mr. O’Bromley was in the emergency room I had to get a tissue and blow my nose that just tore me up. — What are you laughing about?

Me: Nothing.

Sister: You wanted my opinion. You should be flattered that I liked it.

Me: I am. I totally am. But I really just needed help with the genre thing.

Sister: It is a blasted romance. Let’s not go over that again. Now tell me will Levi be showing up in the next book?

Me: I don’t think so.

Sister: He could. There is ample leeway for another story, maybe bring him in to the lead, I would like to see that and why on earth did you kill off-

Me: You’re positive on the genre?

Sister: Damn it girl do I have to spell it for you? Would you rather ask mother?

Me: No! Romance it is. Thank you.

Sister: Anytime. Can you at least try to expound on the Duffy character.  What exactly is he? And I don’t see why you couldn’t do more with Levi.

Me: I’ll work on it.

Sister: Do that and by the way you’re not getting the book back,

Me: That’s fine, consider it a gift.

Sister:  I did.

Book Quiz: Between the Rage and Grace

There will be no red markers or downward adjustments to your GPA I promise. There will be no raising of hands and no roll call, you shall remain carefree and nameless. This quiz is just for fun.

Of course if you score well feel free to brag 🙂

Here are ten questions from the first book in the series Between the Rage and Grace.

Clickers ready? Go!