Friday, September 30, 2011

Flash Fiction Fridays: The Free-for-All Draws to a Close

It has been a great six weeks, hasn't it? My thanks to all of the Free-for-All contributors for their fantastic stories.

Loosening up the word count requirement has been so successful, I am making it permanent. From now on, Flash Fiction Fridays stories can be 1,000 words or less, which I think will encourage more writers to participate.

The Free-for-All might be ending, but don't forget to come back next week for Nightmare month in October.

And now, a wonderful piece by Cleveland W. Gibson.


Remembering Blue Eyes
By Cleveland W. Gibson

I feel sick with excitement as I gun my trusty white steed into a frantic canter.

A curse to all Roman emperors comes to my lips when I hear the villagers to the left and right of me chant, "JARGE! JARGE!"

The sword, in my hand, is ready for use. I wave it above my head. What an act, especially when I'm petrified, not a real hero.

A black rock looms up ahead. It is menacing. I see a fair-haired maiden in a white flimsy robe tied to the rock. She screams in terror as she strains at her bonds. I follow her terrified gaze, dwell on the raw fear in those beautiful blue eyes.

There is the awesome dot in the sky with flames and smoke trailing behind it. I watch it. The dot rapidly drops down to the black rock to confront me. It is the dragon.

I fear nobody, but sweat sprouts on my face and hands when it rushes in to make contact. My horse panics, but I urge it on. I spank it with my sword. Nay, goad it. On! On! Nothing is going to stop me. Nothing can! Nothing can!

My sword greets the beast across the throat. I stab again, halting it in its tracks. How I love the thrust, the edge of a sharp sword in my hand!

Now I experience the cloying envelope of blood spilling down my arm. Dragon’s blood is always so different, heavy. Hot, even as it is dying it shoots flames towards me, but I have already released the fair maiden and set her up in front on my horse. Naturally, I become stunned by her inexplicable beauty, her rich golden hair full of glittering lights and those fantastic, fabulous blue eyes.

Oh, such blue such sea-deep tender blue eyes enough to surely melt this soldier’s heart.

**********************************************************************************

Today follows yesterday; today finds this old, retired mercenary suffering from dementia, living those last few days in a retirement home for ex- military campaigners.

I daydream a lot; I know the truth of how the mind can make me forget but with a savage vengeance, too many wonderful memories. The clang of service medals on my frail chest mean so little to me. Though I wonder about them a lot of the time. I ponder...

But my experience against the dragon is the absolute treasure I have captured in detail by writing it down in my diary each year.

Surprisingly enough I don’t remember being decorated for any brave action against the beast. And by rights it deserves a double entry in my diary. But the burning question remains: I don’t know where the medals came from. Perhaps, I muse. Perhaps, I agonize.

**********************************************************************************

I copy the words from one diary into the next. Then read the entry over and over again. So many times. I do this every year, to me it a lifeline to hope.

I try to stir up something in the magazine box I label my memory, but I fear real damage there. I know because of the tears slipping slowly down my face, finding the hollows in my cheeks. I’m also crying on the inside. Yet nobody sees.

In the mirror I look, at the old face my hair shot with grey and those spider lines around tired blue eyes. Those eyes, the key to my soul in tantalizing blue color, fascinates me. Such a haunting color.

My diary; it holds a key to the past. Yeah and my future sanity. But internally, I feel a struggle as fierce as any encounter with the enemy. Still the conflict goes on. Mentally and physically I am exhausted, yet I must try to cope with life.

My main regret is when I close the book I forget much of what I have told you. It's closed now...Help! Help me!

Why does everything seem to dim? Why? Oh, why? It's as if it were not very important. But my heart sings, "It is. It is, so very important."

**********************************************************************************

"Grampy George!" The children cry. "We've come to see you! Happy Christmas." All around I accept the greetings from the faces, young faces of my cherished grandchildren. "We love you!"

I talk to them. I am desperate to remember all their names.

It is so difficult when there's Mark, June, Tracy, Stephen and Alice. Such a lot of names, but I try. I really make an effort to identify each little person. Love what I see.

Suddenly as I look, I see they all have sea-blue eyes. It triggers off a distant memory but what? My diary holds a clue but what? It is closed, on the table away from me. I look at it. I, the old soldier, shiver expressively. I dread the thought of opening it one day to find nothing inside. Have I lost the plot? My reason?

I think very hard making lines crease my forehead and face. Did I fight the Dragon?

Perhaps. Did I rescue the girl and marry her? Perhaps.

Dementia, maybe, but I guess I'm always going to be remembering blue eyes.



Cleveland W. Gibson is the author of Silver Wolf and Only the Best, both available for Kindle e-readers. He was born in colonial India in an atmosphere of colour, mystery and intrigue. In the UK, he worked in the government, trained as a life guard and was a road race director for over ten years. Since taking up writing, he has published over 200 short stories, poems and articles in more than eighty-five countries. His current project is a fantasy novel, House of the Skull Drum.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Editing for Grammarphobes: Drop the 'S,' Keep the 'D'


It seems to me many people write how they speak. However, they fail to realize that even if one is writing dialogue, the audience is still reading the work, not hearing it. Here are a few examples of words and phrases that are mispronounced or misused more often than not.


Supposed to

The “d” is supposed to be there. The word is not “suppose.”

Used to

Same holds for this phrase. It is not “use to.”

Toward

One moves toward something. There is no such word as “towards.”

Anyway

It is not “anyways.” I hear this all of the time. There is no “s” in anyway.



Coming Next

Please join us as we wrap up the Flash Fiction Fridays Free-for-All with a wonderful piece by Cleveland W. Gibson.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Morning Business


Greetings to you on this Monday morning. I don't know what the weather is by you, but it is a downpour outside my office window. Dark and dreary, it puts me in the mood for work, which I guess is a good thing.


Nightmare Flash Fiction


First order of business is a reminder that Nightmare Flash Fiction is due Monday, October 3. I am not holding too tough on the 500 words or less, though. I think 1,000 words or less still makes a good, quick read, as I come to believe from the September Free-for-All, so I am open for anything from 1,000 words or less. 

There are some creepy stories lined up, which I am sure will get you in the Halloween spirit. A few spots are still open, so if you are interested, please send your stories to me at karen(at)karenberner(dot)com. 


Amazon Gift Card Winner



Congratulations to Leah Griffith who will be receiving a $25 amazon gift card in celebration of Flash Fiction Fridays' First Anniversary. Leah writes a great blog, Eating Life Raw. Her first novel, Cosette’s Tribe, won the Laine Cunningham 2011 New Novel Award hosted by Blotter Literary Magazine.






And Now, a Public Service Announcement







Friday, September 23, 2011

Flash Fiction Fridays Anniversary Contest: Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card

Bibliophilic Blather's first anniversary celebration continues today with a chance for readers to win a $25 amazon gift card. Just comment at the end of this post and sign up to follow the blog. It's that easy. You will automatically be entered in the contest.

Bibliophilic Blather is proud to host Flash Fiction Fridays, which features microfiction from authors of all genres. Instead of weekly writing prompts, each writer presents his or her interpretation of a monthly theme in 500 words or less. A big thank you goes out to all of this year's Flash Fiction Fridays contributors for sharing their work with us.

And now, here is an appropriately titled piece to continue our September Free-For-All. No themes. No word count. Open prompt. Enjoy.



Anniversary
By Eileen Granfors

When they dropped off Max and Cheryl, Gordon drove to their favorite lovers’ lane in the upper lot of the high school. Though they had been together so long, they had done nothing but some deep kissing. Pippi thought about leading his hands to her breasts, letting him know that now, on their six-month anniversary, more of her would be available to him, until fall.

They kissed. She cuddled into Gordon between kisses. She loved his solid shoulders and the way he smelled of Zest soap and the fresh laundry scent of his shirt. He looked into her brown eyes, making a serious study of her face. Was he picturing their children someday, after college, with his swarthy skin and black hair, her fair blondness?

Her heart beat hard and fast as if she had run up a steep hill. She touched his ring, turning it on his finger.

Gordon gazed out the car window, steamy from their breath. He pulled a calendar from his wallet. They would go over their months together, from that first shouted hi when she was painting ‘Welcome Back to School” posters to their first dance to their holding hands and the all the crazy moments of falling in love. She would never smell poster paint again without thinking, “Gordon.”

Gordon said, “I have to be honest with you.”

“You always are.”

“I joined the Marines.”

“What do you mean?”

“After graduation, I’ll have basic training. I leave the day after graduation.”

“But the summer?”

“You’ll keep busy.”

“Like how?”

“Shopping, your job, your other friends.”

“But you’re the only one who matters, Gordon.”

“I am?”

She kissed him. “Yes.” She kissed him again and blinked her eyes in that fetching way she had learned from Natalie Wood films. “Vietnam scares me.”

“Good. I need to serve. There is no peace without war.”

“Who told you that?”

“My dad.” Then, instead of slipping off his senior ring, he took a small, velvet box out of his pocket. “Here’s your ring. Open it.”

Pippi’s heart squeezed with panic. She only wanted to go steady and only until fall. Why would he think they should get married?  “Gordon,” she started to say.

“Just say you’ll marry me so I’ll have you to come home to.”

She hesitated. With the box on her lap, she pressed his hand to her cheek. “What about college, all those other things out there waiting for us? Can I think about it?”

He rolled down the window in jerky turns. “You need to think about it?” Gordon grabbed the ring box and threw it into the night. “What a joke.”

They drove to her house in silence. Pippi cried quietly into his shoulder. He turned off the ignition and opened his door without leaning in for a kiss

“Gordon,” she said, “I have my dress for prom. You’ll still take me, won’t you?”




“Anniversary” appears in the author’s flash fiction anthology, Flash Warden and Other Stories.


Eileen Granfors lives in Santa Clarita, California. A former army brat who was born in New Orleans and lived in Germany, she and her family settled in Imperial Beach, California, where her mother’s love of body surfing turned her into an avid surfer girl. Eileen is a proud UCLA alumna. In July, she published her second novel, set in Imperial Beach, Stairs of Sand. Her first novel, Some Rivers End on the Day of the Dead, is a coming-of-age multicultural look at the Hispanic tradition of the Day of the Dead. She is working on its sequel, So You, Solimar, and a volume of historical fiction, a prequel to Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's Bibliophilic Blather's Anniversary!

One year ago this week, it was time to make something of this space. Sporadic posts would not cut it. So, I tried to find my niche.

After spending ten years editing and writing for magazines, I knew the importance of proper grammar and how it could make or break a piece. Writers needed to know the rules, but who had the time to take a refresher English class?

During its first year, Editing for Grammarphobes has covered everything from misplaced modifiers to last week's post on football words. I hope it has made the somewhat droll topic of grammar more palatable.

Okay, so that covered Mondays and Wednesdays, but what about Friday? Then I discovered flash fiction.

From its very first story by best-selling author Karen Cantwell, Flash Fiction Fridays has featured talented writers from all around the globe, each lending their unique voices to our ongoing sharing of work, making the best day of the week even better.

The blog could not be called Bibliophilic Blather if we did not talk about books, right? Throughout the year, new authors have been discovered and proper homage was paid to the classics (insert Jane Austen here).

We have built a lovely little community, you and I. Through this blog, I have met so many talented writers whose words, viewpoints and careers continue to inspire me.

We are a lucky lot, we bibliophiles, for we can climb the highest mountain one day, shed a tear with a friend the next, gasp in horror the following, then laugh uproariously, forgetting ourselves in the middle of a crowded room.

Thank you for sharing this past year with me. I am so grateful for all of your comments and feedback.

Please come back in two days for Flash Fiction Fridays and the chance to win a $25 amazon gift card.

Let's raise a virtual toast to another year of more great flash fiction stories, grammar tips and exciting new novels to discuss.

Cheers!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Attention Fellow Janeites: This Book is for You


I was tired. Over last couple of days, I had been writing some particularly rough scenes for my WIP, tentatively titled How Long ‘Til My Soul Gets It Right?, which probably is too long for a title, but I will deal with that later.

This one is about another member of the Classics Book Club, Catherine, who played Audrey the Country Wench in As You Like It, the Bibliophiles’ field trip at the end of A Whisper to a Scream. And she can be exhausting. Fascinating, but exhausting.

Sunday morning, I was maxed out. It was a dark, rainy morning, the perfect time to make some tea and enjoy a book. I have many on my to-read list, but was in the mood for some complete escapism. I had downloaded Definitely Not Mr. Darcy the previous day, having no desire to wait patiently for its arrival. That’s the great thing about e-books, don’t you think? One click and bam! It’s on your Nook, Kindle or, in my case, iPad. Very fulfilling, really.

My family was occupied, so after breakfast, I sat with a cup of Prince of Wales tea and read, still in my pajamas, cozied up with a light blanket to guard against the morning’s chill. I did not get up from my seat until after one o’clock. I could not. It would have broken the spell, jolting me back into reality.




Definitely Not Mr. Darcy is a delightful romp. Most of you readers know how much I love Jane Austen, and I am weary of blatant rip-offs of her excellent work. Author Karen Doornebos has created an intriguing premise, incorporating Miss Austen without bastardizing her novels.

Here is a synopsis.

Chloe Parker was born two centuries too late. A thirty-nine-year-old divorced mother, she runs her own antique letterpress business, is a lifelong member of the Jane Austen Society, and gushes over everything Regency. But her business is failing, threatening her daughter's future.

So she auditions for a Jane Austen-inspired TV show set in England, of course.

What Chloe thinks is a documentary turns out to be a reality dating show set in 1812. Eight women are competing to snare Mr. Wrightman, the heir to a gorgeous estate, along with a $100,000 prize.

Chloe tosses her bonnet into the ring, hoping to transform from stressed-out Midwest mom to genteel American heiress and win the money. With no cell phones, indoor plumbing, or deodorant to be found, she must tighten her corset and flash some ankle to beat out women younger, more cutthroat, and less clumsy than herself.

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy is just pure fun. It is available online at amazon and Barnes and Noble and at your local bookstores.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Flash Fiction Fridays

No themes. No word count. Open prompt. The Flash Fiction Fridays Free-for-All is running through September. Today, we have a wonderful piece by Jennifer Orozco. Enjoy.


Exigencies
By Jennifer Orozco


He will be home soon.

She is standing at the sink, washing the dishes. The bubbled, hot water is a shock. Her hands are red and stinging, but she scrubs the inside of the glass anyway, making a circle within. She’s always wished for a kitchen window, but their townhome looks out to an alleyway overgrown with honeysuckle and scattered with dead, wet leaves. It is fall, but nothing hinders the thick, brown vines from proudly announcing their presence.

She wonders if he will see it in her face. He has always been able to read her when her eyes flit away from his, or when she overcompensates by searching his face, meeting his stare steadily. It is disconcerting what he can see when he is looking.

She has made king ranch casserole and the aroma of the bell peppers, onion, tomato and cream of mushroom meld together and mingle in her nostrils. Cornbread bakes in the oven. She has also cooked a green-bean casserole and wonders if he will read anything into it.

It smells like someone’s home. It smells like one would imagine a happy home to be.

She hopes this is enough.

She wonders when her heart turned into a clenched fist. She feels it pounding within, resolute and proud, not ready to cede an inch. She will take what she can get. Where she can get it. And since she can’t get it from him, there will be others. There will be days like today again. She will learn how to lie, to survive. She will excel at the recipes and fa├žade of docility.

She looks down at her hands now. Covered in suds, she can’t decide whether it feels like they are burning or freezing. She towels them off and checks the time. The cornbread is ready.

She sighs and looks at the clock. It is half past six.

Her eyes travel over the wall, the horrendous paint job she initiated six weeks earlier.

She wanted a marigold color, and he brought her a lemon yellow. The walls looked like a sickly, sweet confection that unsettled and vaguely nauseated her. She’s since repainted the walls again, but the white paint she’d chosen was bluish and it jarred against the white cream of the ceiling.

She’d never had an eye for detail.

“Daddy! Daddy!” she hears the girls shriek excitedly. Daddy coming home was the equivalent to a rock star gracing them with his presence. He was a loving, affectionate father, holding them tightly and then swinging them into the air, their eyes shining with something that looked like too much gaiety. As if even they were trying to play a role they couldn’t quite pull off.

She snapped her fingers and said it was time to eat.

“It smells good in here! What’s for dinner?”

“Daddy! Mommy made your favorite!”

“Oh yeah?” he said….”She must want something…” he said swatting their two year old on the behind.

“Everyone wash your hands, and I’ll serve you. Just gimme a sec.” She feigned careless spontaneity.

She walked to the bathroom and closed the door. She flipped the toilet seat down and cradled her face in her open palms. Slivers of this afternoon came back to her. The unfamiliar face. The blue eyes. His wedding ring on the nightstand. His carefully folded clothes on the hotel’s armchair, because he would have to back to work after they were finished. The long not quite passionate kiss they shared, “in case I never see you again.” he said.

And she wouldn’t see him again.

There would be another in the future, she knew.

She inhaled sharply, stood up, wiped her hands down her jeans and walked out into the hall.

“Dinnertime!”





Jennifer Orozco is an avid reader and reluctant writer at Lit Endeavors: Notes of a Bibliomaniac and Scribbler. She is working on her first novel, Anatomy of a Marriage, because she's now 32, and if not now--when? Her mother's not-so-well-hidden disappointment also ignites the fire under her ass that is jolting her from pervasive complacence. Besides reading and writing, Jennifer enjoys lecturing her not-so-feminist daughters on why they should never define themselves by the opinion of a man. Many an eye roll takes place during these soliloquies.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Editing for Grammarphobes: Are You Ready for Some Football?


Come the second weekend in September, I put down Pride and Prejudice and my tea for a few hours to yell “Hit somebody!” from gridiron sidelines. My neighbors have been known to hear me utter the phrase, “He faked him out of his jock strap!” through open windows on more than one occasion during Chicago Bear games.

I love football.

Now that the NFL is in full swing, I thought it would be fun to focus on some of the words that are frequently used when writing about the old pigskin.




Please note that this post refers to American football. My condolences to our European readers for the United States ripping off the name of your sport, which also is lots of fun to watch. I very much enjoy Manchester United. Rooney is a god.

Anyhow, back to the National Football League, per The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law.

It is ball carrier (two words), but ballclub (one word).

Blitz is both a noun and a verb.

Goal line, is two words, as in Matt Forte powered over the goal line. The phrase goal-line stance, used to describe a type of defense when the opposing offense is within a yard or two of the end zone, should be hyphenated because it is a compound modifier.

Kick off is a verb, but kickoff is an adjective.

Some position titles are one word, such as linebacker, lineman, quarterback and tailback, while others are two, including running back, wide receiver, tight end and split end.

Touchdown is one word, as is touchback.

Halftime is a noun.

Go Bears!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Gift of Validity


Writers often feel like they are in a vacuum, isolated, solitary creatures who release their work and have no idea whether or not anyone will buy it, yet alone like it.

One side of my brain is a firm believer in the English Romantic’s view of art for arts’ sake. Writers must stay true to their work and write the stories we are driven to create. Writing done for purely commercial consumption usually lacks soul or depth of spirit, don’t you think?

However, my brain’s other half recognizes writing is still a business and all of us hopes our work will sell.

Every once in awhile, we get lucky.

On Friday, a well-timed advertisement on Ereader News Today brought me sales the likes of which I have never seen before. At one time Friday night, and then again on Saturday, A Whisper to a Scream was #92 and #99 on the Kindle Indie Best Seller List on amazon.com. There it was on the same page as behemoth John Locke and the brilliant Helen Smith!

Every time I checked my sales, the number increased exponentially. For the first time, I was sitting on a proper chair at the dining room table for Christmas dinner, not stuck at the card table with the kids. It was all very exciting.

I was happy so many people were interested enough in A Whisper to a Scream to purchase it. It gave me something I had yet to feel as a fiction writer — validation.

The magazine world, where I spent a good portion of my career, is more conducive to this. We produced an issue every month and with that came a sense of accomplishment and closure, as well as an eagerness to move onto the next one.

Whisper, on the other hand, has been a ten-year journey, which has tested my writer fortitude and stamina.

My sales rank is falling as I write, for, as all of you know, the lists are updated hourly and can be fleeting. But, this crazy weekend has given me the motivation to move forward and finish my WIP with a verve I have not had for awhile.

And that is a gift for which I am very grateful.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Flash Fiction Fridays


No themes. No word count. Open prompt. The Flash Fiction Fridays Free-for-All is running through September. Today, we feature a great piece from Wesley Jacques.





Felinicide
By Wesley Jacques



While sitting here watching my cat watch me, a golden cat that leaves stray gold hairs on every thing he touches, I contemplate murder, felinicide. Not because he's a troublesome cat in any way. More the contrary. He's loyal and loving. I watch him watch me with kind eyes and he reacts affectionately to my petting his fur (some attaches to my hand.) I consider killing him now simply because there's a knife in my hand from lunch. I cut bits of cheese and ate it with grapes. My furry friend had a turkey feast from a can. We enjoyed each other's company.


But now that lunch is over and the knife remains, I wonder how difficult it'd be to kill an idle animal with a soft white belly. I imagine it wouldn't be difficult at all. He sits there and closes his eyes and smiles when I rub underneath his chin, stroke his ears. He curls up and lies down when I begin to type on my laptop or read. He just wants to be near me. I don't imagine that I'd have to chase him or trap him or fight him too much. A knife would give me an undeniable advantage I believe. If I needed one. I'm near ten times his size. Smart as a whip too! as a teacher once told me. He's stupid. He chases furry faux-mice.




But then, the thought strikes me with a vengeance: What if he thinks about this too? What if he mulls over the prospect of murdering me in his little cat brain? This is why he remains so close. His ears perk up when the thought tantalizes him so. He may sleep on it, roll around and lick himself with the image of my death in his mind. Surely it'd be easy for him as well. He's often awake when I am asleep. He has claws and can jump up to those highest nooks in the apartment. He surprises me sometimes when he jumps down. I tripped over one of those stupid fake mice once. He's a wild animal! Now his eyes appear more sinister. When he yawns does that mean he's bored with me? If he's bored with me, am I done for?


But ha! I realize then that I open the cans that contain the hearty gourmet turkey feasts that fill his belly. He can't kill me. I think he knows that by the way he circles before he sits sometimes. We'll make a pact not to murder one another for now. I pat his head and he purrs in agreement. But just a moment later he rubs his body against my foot. What does that mean? I clench my knife.





Wesley Jacques has been writing short fiction for twenty years, not to be discredited by the fact that he is twenty-three. Born in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York, to Haitian immigrant parents, he was raised with in the web of group homes, foster homes and other non-homes. He has a master of arts degree in English literature.






Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Read Any Good Books Lately?

I hope all of my American readers had a good Labor Day weekend. I took a few days off, hung out with family and friends, and had a marvelous time.



I also had the pleasure of reading a fantastic book, Alice I Have Been, by Melanie Benjamin, a historical fiction piece based on the life of Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It is the compelling story of Liddell and Wonderland creator, Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll), their relationship, a misunderstanding and its ramification upon both of their lives. Beautifully written, I could not put this down.



Another wonderful novel I read recently was Alison Wonderland by Helen Smith, which has no correlation to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland whatsoever, except the obvious pun in the title. When Alison Temple’s husband leaves her for another woman, Alison impulsively gets a job with the private investigation firm she had hired to track her husband. This leads her on an adventure of her own with a delightful cast of characters. Helen Smith draws readers into Alison’s world and takes them on a wild and wacky ride. It is a witty and hilarious read. I loved it.

How about you? What novels have you read recently and what did you think?











Friday, September 2, 2011

Flash Fiction Fridays: The Free-for-All Continues



No themes. No word count. Open prompt. The Flash Fiction Fridays Free-for-All is running through September. Hope you enjoy this great piece from Beverly Diehl.


Getting Wet with the Suicidal Bees
By Beverly Diehl



Usually she only had to share the pool with the Suicidal Bees.

Janey dubbed them that, because there were always several struggling in the water. She’d find a leaf and carefully scoop the creatures out of the water, onto the cement... where they’d promptly crawl back into the water.

She decided Suicidal Bees would be a great name for a rock band.

“Hi,” the guy said. She said hi back, checking him out, pretending her attention was elsewhere.

Cute. Probably played in a band, like the kids in the apartment currently getting the full blast of the hot August sun straight in their windows. Janey noticed them loading and unloading at odd hours: huge boxy equipment on rolling wheels; black guitar-shaped bags; milk crates with mysterious wires and cords protruding. The faces all looked the same - earnest, tormented, hopeful, but the tattoos and piercings seem to turn over regularly.


This guy had to be in his forties. Good age to be, she admitted. Little bit of a pot belly. Which Janey had always found oddly attractive, having a bit of one herself. No obvious tats. So, no rocker. And he was at the pool.

This part of SoCal was littered with apartment buildings just like this one, a dozen units with a courtyard pool and a couple of overgrown palm trees. Maybe a scraggly bird of paradise.

Nobody actually went in the pool, though, even on a day like today when it was 100 degrees. Not even the peeps up on Mulholland Drive in their zillion dollar houses.They thought about it, talked about it, like the fabulous books they intended to sit down and write one day. Then they stayed inside, cranked up the A/C and bitched about the heat.

Janey watched him fussing to put down his towel and sunglasses on one of the ancient, barely-functional chaise lounges. “You’re not from around here, are you?”

“How could you tell?”

You’re at the pool. “Just a guess.”

“I’m impressed. You guessed right. So, if you’re a native, can I touch you? Haven’t met one yet.” Midwest accent, Janey decided. Illinois? Possibly Missouri.

“I’m not from around here either,” she laughed. “You getting in the water?”

In answer, he walked to the edge of the deep end, bare feet barely missing the bee victims she’d rescued earlier, and dove in.

He surfaced near where Janey was treading water by the edge of the pool, “Whew! Water’s great.” Close up, she saw his eyes were set just a little too close together, his nose a bit too big, but his mouth, oh, that mouth! Could give a woman endless delight - or trouble.

But she was old enough to have learned, “You don’t piss where you eat.” Work romances, neighbor romances could turn just as sour as any other - and there the ex was, right in your face.

You only needed to have your nose rubbed in that mistake once.

He stuck out a hand, “Fred Hanson. Springfield, Illinois.”

Bingo! Janey accepted the shake. Very nice; not overcompensating, not dying fish. “Janey Brown. Most lately from the San Ferrnando Valley.”

“Ooh, mysterious.”

“Neighbors get to find out way too much about each other, so I’ll stay mysterious for now.”

His laugh was a big, hearty chuckle that beckoned one in. “We’re not neighbors. I’m here housesitting for my college roommate’s kid and his spoiled parrot.”

A bee floated nearby, its wings frantically beating. “Don’t worry, little guy,” Fred said. He put his hand under the bee, letting the creature crawl directly on his fingers, not worrying about getting stung, then gently lowered it to the pavement. “Go on now, fly home to your hive.”

Janey smiled. “Maybe I’ll let you touch me after all.”




Beverly Diehl discarded most early efforts because they weren't good enough. “I thought the words were supposed to drip from my pen as perfect golden pearls," she says. "Then I discovered rewriting." In addition to erotica, Beverly writes short stories, newsletters and, of course, a blog (or two). Born in Wisconsin her teenage years were split between small-town Pennsylvania and Southern California. Beverly now lives in Los Angeles with numerous UFOs (UnFinished craft and writing Objects) and beloved fat cat, Metaphor (aka Stinky). To learn more about Beverly and her work, visit her website.