One Sticky Note at a Time

So, compiling and editing a textbook soaks up a lot of time (#dayjob). So does finishing the middle novel in a trilogy (#Solynsbody). So does assembling one’s tenure binder (#keepingonesdayjob).

As some of you know, I teach English at a community college, and this year, I am “up” for tenure, meaning that I have to present my institution with evidence of my involvement over the last five years. This evidence takes the form of a four inch binder of certificates of attendance, copies of agendas, tons of emails, and lots of letters. Because I work in a community college, I am able to use my fiction writing as a contribution to the profession (something I wouldn’t be able to do at a research university–only my literary works would count there). This means that I’ve spent the last few months gathering up all of the fiction I’ve written since 2013.

And it’s a lot. Like,  really a lot.

I mean, I’m no Emily Dickinson with hundreds of poems or F. Scott Fitzgerald who whipped out a short story in a drunken afternoon, but I’ve been pretty busy for someone with a full-time job, a child, a husband, and many other constraints on my time. I try not to let it happen, but often writing falls to the bottom of the pile of Things To Be Done in a given day. I know what Stephen King says of course–writers write–but he also had lots of drugs to help him out in between double shifts at the laundry and teaching all day while he finished Carrie.

But that’s just excuses–and I’m not here to justify my lack of magnitude. I could have done more, sure, but I’m happy with what I did.

Well, what have I done? It doesn’t seem like much when in the thick of it–a story here, a story there, but taken all at once…it’s solid. I didn’t realize it until I starting working on my binder. To organize my information, I made little sticky notes for each story and put them on the sleeves I would fill with the copies of title pages. As I copied each page and put the evidence of my professional contribution in the proper sleeve, I removed the sticky note. When I was done, it was an impressive little stack of stickies sitting on my desk. Each sticky represented a story, an idea, a thought that I had turned into something concrete, something tangible, and finished, and available online for people to read.

So, to celebrate both my application for tenure and my accomplishments over the last five years, here it is–a list of my works all in one place:

“Sending Sally Home.” Into the Abyss. Witching Hour Publishing, 2013.

“Incompetence.” “True Love.” The Death of Jimmy. Witching Hour Publishing, 2014.

“Emergency Exit.” Behind the Veil. Witching Hour Publishing, 2014.

“Blood Journal.” On the Verge. Witching Hour Publishing, 2014.

Klauden’s Ring. Witching Hour Publishing, 2015.

“The River.” Bent Horizons. Witching Hour Publishing, 2015.

“Memory Game.” Serenity Rising. Witching Hour Publishing, 2016.

“Sunny Nights.” The Purge of Jimmy. Witching Hour Publishing, 2017.

“Of Goats and Witches,” “Marks,” The Red Glow,” “The Short Story,” and “Parachute Pants.” Stories My Friends Started. Witching Hour Publishing, 2017.

“Keepin’ it Cool.” Super Useless. Witching Hour Publishing, 2017.

“Old Friends and New Business.” Veiled Affection. Witching Hour Publishing, 2017.

Solyn’s Body. Witching Hour Publishing, 2017.

So while it may not seem like you’re getting anywhere when you’re in the moment, take a step back every now and again to see the Big Picture. Ferris Bueller was onto something there.

As Anne Lamott said, “Bird by bird.” Writing happens word by word. Sentence by sentence. Paragraph by paragraph. It all adds up.

(read a review of Lamott’s book here).

Happy Holidays!





Book Two is ready for Pre-order!

I know, I know. It took a little while.

But it’s ready now.

And you get to find out what happens after the happily ever after.

A Body torn between two Souls…
the fight for Mind, Body, and Love

A new beginning
When her oldest companion placed her soul in a mortal body, Hannah Tallerin thought her problems were over. No longer a vampire, she is free to live her life with her beloved elf, free from the commitments of her old existence, free to build a new future with her husband in a small town at the edge of the world.

An unexpected arrival
Then the original owner of the body wakes up, so Hannah turns to her oldest friend for answers. As the voice in her head gets more insistent, her once-betrothed offers his help, though Hannah knows that any aid from him comes at a price.

A final battle
The battle for her soul has begun, but when the real enemies arrive, Hannah realizes she will have to fight for her body as well.


“I wasn’t using it…


Still writing…

Middle novels take forever!

And so, another snippet from the Inkslinger Meeting Exercises.

The chosen words were cramp, unconditionally, and flickering.


        “But…but this is my moment!” Cheri mumbled, words too low for anyone to hear, not that they could over the roaring of the crowd, the pounding of the sneakers on the pavement, the rush as Bethany Singleton rounded the first turn a full step ahead of her. She tried to ignore the cramp threatening to paralyze her leg, the agony creeping up her leg and back. Only another ¾ of the track and she could win this thing! But her muscles were fading, her moment of greatness flickering in the flash of Bethany’s fabulous ass as the younger girl managed to get two entire paces ahead.

        What were they feeding them these days?! Cheri wondered, pushing against the pain, telling her body in no uncertain terms that she was going to win this thing, that damn Bethany Singleton wasn’t going to beat her by an embarrassing three paces.

        Her strength was fading though, distracted by the cramp, and Cheri knew it was useless.

        I’ll do anything, she thought suddenly. Anything to win. I will train every day for the rest of my life. I will wash the corners of public restrooms. I will sell my soul to Satan unconditionally…

        “Unconditionally, you say?” a voice whispered in her ear. Bethany froze, shocked to hear someone speaking to her while she was in the death throes of the race for Olympic Gold.

        “Hello?” she whispered, breath coming out in hard jagged gasps as she lumbered forward.

        “Let’s talk about that soul of yours…”

A Murder of Crows

Image result for crows cartoon

And another small snippet to keep things going, this time with my favorite charmer, Seth. This exercise is from December of 2015.

The words chosen were:

sink wish murder

Shelly peered at the list in her hand, then looked back up at her lover. “You’re absolutely sure this what she said we needed to do?”

Seth nodded at her, blonde hair curling under his chin in that way she loved so much. She started to reach out to touch it, her hand leaving the list, and then she stopped herself, knowing where that would lead. Focus, she ordered herself. There are important things happening.

“Really?” she asked again, eyes scanning the words on the page. She appreciated Seth’s simple block letters, the no-nonsense way he maneuvered a quill and ink. No blots, no smudges. Her man took pride in his work.

“Yes, dear,” he repeated. “Every word.” His hair was still doing that curling thing, and while she hadn’t reached out to him, he reached out to her, strong hands rubbing her neck and shoulders in the best ways.

“But this is so random!” she blurted, trying to stay focused on the task at hand, but really loving his fingers on her skin.

“Of course it is,” he assured her. “That’s what witches give you. Random prophecies that can’t be followed. I told you this quest was ridiculous from the start.”

“She really said: ‘Wish on the kitchen sink after you see the murder’?”

Seth made a soothing noise, hands moving insistently down her back to other more interesting areas.

“I wonder if maybe she means a group of crows or something,” Shelly mused. “You think?”

“Of course. You know, I am pretty sure I saw some crows in the bedroom earlier today. Shall we go look?”


The Philosophy of Peppermint

I’m still in the midst of the headlong charge to the end of book, so to sate your appetite with a little tidbit, I give you a snippet of an exercise from May 2015. This one was fun!

The three words chosen were ember, tragic, and peppermint. (At the Inkslinger’s Guild meetings, we randomly choose words and write a story using them in five minutes.)

Here goes:

“Well, since we lost our last professor in a tragic peppermint accident…”

Beth cut him off, a hand gently resting on his upper arm. “I’m sorry?” she asked.

Scott turned to look at her, surprised by her hand but glad that she felt comfortable enough to touch him. Either that, or his last words had disturbed her enough that she had forgotten for a moment what he was.

“Hmm?” he asked, knowing what she wanted to know, but wanting her to say it. And to leave her hand on his arm while she asked again.

“Did you just say a peppermint accident?” Beth asked, her other hand shoving her glasses back on her nose. A lock of black hair had fallen across her face, and she pushed it behind an ear, face intent on his response.

Scott nodded. “It was a tragic incident,” he explained. “He was fond of peppermints, and he was also fond of lecturing, and one day, he tried to answer a student question while sucking on a peppermint and choked on it. The students tried to help him, but there was nothing they could do.”

“Didn’t someone know the Heimlich maneuver? How does that even happen?” Her hand moved from his arm to her own throat as she swallowed reflexively. His skin still burned, warm like the embers of a low fire, where she had touched him.

“Well,” he said, trying to ignore the way her skin flushed slightly where her fingers touched her skin, her throat moving as she swallowed and breathed. “I guess they would have if he’d been in the science building. Unfortunately, it was Philosophy.”



Fun with Science Fiction

Image result for red shirt star trek

I was going through some old writing exercises, and I found this short little romp into science fiction. The words listed are the words chosen for the exercise, so I had five minutes to write something that used all three words (this is two separate exercises that ended up being a continuation).

Mercurial current drop

“Sir, with the current orbit, are you sure she can withstand the drop?” First Class Sergeant Miller looked expectantly at his Commander, waiting for the telltale glint in the eye that would reassure him that yes, they would indeed survive even this dire situation, escaping the promise of certain death with a last minute brilliant plan to divert the subatomic particles in Engine B to the Forward Thrusters and usher them to safety just a split second before they crashed into the planet’s fiery surface.

He’d witnessed it before. Many times. He had stood on the flight deck, missiles careening towards them, explosions rocking the ship back and forth, but always had the Commander stood firm, always that glint in his eyes, that mercurial sense of humor, the dedication to his crew, his ship, and their mission.

They would survive, First Class Sergeant Miller knew. They would. He glanced down at his red shirt, then at the dire predictions flooding the monitors before him.

“Sir?” he asked, waiting for the response he knew was coming.

But there was something different in the Commander’s eyes as he stared coolly out the front display window at the planet rushing towards them.

“Sir!” He shouted it this time, trying to be heard over the roaring whine of the strained engines, the distant screams of crew members fearing the worst.

The Commander looked at him, eyes calm and sad. “Not this time,” he said quietly. “She can’t handle the drop.”

“But this is the part where you always have the brilliant plan!” First Class Sergeant Miller shrieked.

“I know,” the Commander said. He scanned the control room, aware of all eyes on him.


Firelight sliver window

First Class Sergeant Miller was hurled to the floor, hands grasping at the controls as he succumbed to the force of the huge ship slowing to a stop. Alarms cut off mid-blare, and the sudden silence was broken by some coughing and shuffling as baffled crew members found their footing. Miller pulled himself upright, fingers pressed deep into the metal frame of his display, and peered out the window. The blazing forge that was the planet had faded to a wisp of firelight.  

“Sir,” he began in a voice that was way more calm than he felt, “we seem to have stopped above the surface of the planet.”

“It appears so,” the Commander observed. He gave the flight deck a once over, then resumed his normal commanding presence. “Report,” he ordered.

First Class Sergeant Miller wasn’t going to be put off that easily. “But…what happened?” he asked. “How did we stop? You…” he let the words trail off. “You didn’t do anything to save us!” He let the words hang in the air, then added lamely, “Sir.”

The Commander’s expression didn’t change as he considered Miller’s accusation, the man’s steely gaze unflinching. He said nothing.

Miller continued, trying to fill the void, “But sir…you always…always save us! You always have that last sliver of hope we need to save us!”

“We have been saved,” the Commander said. “Isn’t that enough?”