A Winter That Never Was

Occasionally I work with textures and artistic backgrounds. I don’t do it as much as I used to, but I’ve created what I think are some spectacular photos. This one, for instance. The iguana looks fierce!

Or this one. I like the OOB effect (out of bounds) with the stalks and the touch of purple in the background.

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Halloween Wibble

I plopped down on the couch beside him and pulled a pillow into my lap. “I don’t want to do Halloween this year.”

“Why not?”

“I’m in a funk.”

“So you think punishing yourself is the way to go? Because everyone, especially me, knows how much you love that holiday.”

I propped my heels on the edge of the cushion, drew up my legs, and bent over my knees, making myself small. “I hate my job, which is good because I’ll probably be fired for that shipping mishap that happened when I was distracted by the phone call mishap. My car’s making funny noises that will end up in me taking it to the shop, where I know they’ll overcharge me because I’m gay and they think that makes me stupid about engines. But if I don’t take it in, I’ll end up stranded somewhere gruesome with a dead cellphone, probably at midnight, and when I work up enough courage to ask someone for assistance, I’ll be mugged or sex trafficked to some hot as hell Middle East country—”

“What kind of funny noises?”

“There’s a weird clicking noise under the front hood. I know fuck-all about cars, so the mechanic isn’t wrong about me, and it’s my own fault he tacks on a few hundred to the bill, because I could have taken shop class and didn’t. I preferred Home Ec.” I buried my face in the pillow and screamed just loud enough for him to hear. I’m not above posturing for sympathy.

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I Miss Fall

There is a bit of cold in Florida in January and February. Usually (but not always). More so in the northern part of the state than elsewhere. But there is rarely snow, almost never ice, and fall is less than impressive.

I’ve lined in Minnesota and Wisconsin most of my life. When I moved to Florida the first time, in August of 2001, the first thing I missed was fall. And the first thing I did after nailing down a job was drive all the way back to River Falls, WI, to see friends and enjoy the changing colors. It had been only two months, but I missed them! I couldn’t have chosen a better week if I’d tried. The trees were in full fall foliage, the sun was warm and golden, and I enjoyed every minute of it the four days I was there.

This is what fall is like in central Florida.

A few red and yellow leaves drift to the ground one or two at a time. Temps fall into the high 60s at night. You don’t need a long-sleeved shirt or jeans yet. This doesn’t have the same impact as fall up north. There is still plenty of green and will be through winter–not that I’m complaining about that. It’s one of the reasons I moved here.

I’ve lived in Florida eight years this second time here, and I still miss fall. Other than my friends, and the bluffs along the Mississippi, it’s pretty much the only thing I miss. Winter? Hell, no. After about fifty years of driving in white-outs, knuckles white on the steering wheel, slipping and sliding on ice and hoping I didn’t break anything when I fell, and shoveling tons of snow until my back was killing me and my toes and fingers were numb, nope! Do not and never will miss. Spring in the north is muddy and cold. Summer isn’t much better, and insects–mostly mosquitos and deer flies–make it worse.

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Escape into Books

I’ve been reading this past week, pretty much to the exclusion of all other things. A new book in a favorite series is being released shortly, and I thought a reread was in order. There are currently six books available, and I just started #5.

The series is called Hidden Wolves, and it’s written by Kaje Harper. I stumbled on it by accident when someone posted on FB about the first book being free, but I hesitated when I saw it was about wolf shifters.

For years I avoided shifter books, because they were so dumb, what with “fated mates” and other silly BS. The only reason I came across this genre at all was because I used to edit for Dreamspinner Press.

I even bought a few, and they were written so poorly, I wrote one of my own, just to see if I could do better. It’s called Wolf Bound, and it’s available on Amazon. Someone told me it was the best shifter book they’d ever read, which made me feel all glowy inside. Although I originally intended to write a trilogy, it never happened, but I’m still fond of this book.

Back to Ms. Harper’s free book (and yes, it’s still free!). I read the first few pages at Amazon, liked it, and got the book. I happened to have a few days off at the time, and after finishing it, I picked up the next one in the series. After devouring that, I bought all the rest and immersed myself in the world she’d created. It was good stuff. It probably helped that it was set in Minnesota, my home state, but what really sold it were the characters and a compelling story. The words “fated mates” never appeared once.

The story unfolds book to book in a wonderful and impressive way. I didn’t even mind the sex scenes (and y’all know I generally can’t stand them, because 99 percent of them are gawd-awful and downright tedious, they’re written so badly). I actually read them instead of skimming, the writing was that good.

Because I edit books, writing matters to me. If I have to stop and mentally correct the shit an editor should have removed or fixed, I get frustrated and eventually stop reading. I didn’t have to do that with this series. I stumbled across a couple things, but they were minor, and I just kept going, delighted by the character and story development, and excellent pacing.

It’s too bad George R. R. Martin didn’t have Ms Harper’s skill or editor, because I barely made it through Game of Thrones, given the zillion times the phrase “began to” showed up. By the time I finally reached the end, I was gritting my teeth and cringing every time I saw those two words. I will probably never read the rest of the books in his Ice and Fire series because of that.

If you’re looking for a new series to read, and you love M/M, get this one. You won’t be sorry.

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Am I Haunted?

I’ve lived in my new place since June of this year. It’s nice. I like it. I’m not fond of the dickhead neighbor who moved in a couple months ago, but that’s another story, and I’m waiting for a happy ending before I tell it to you.

I noticed right away there were weird noises in the walls and ceiling, but only in the rooms added to the original structure. Some of them were really LOUD and startling. I’m talking immense POPs that hurt my ears.

At first I thought it was a problem with the central air. Anytime you add that to a place that used to travel but is now stationary, you’re going to have problems. Google informed me it could be trapped air bubbles or moisture getting into the ductwork. It was intermittent, so I figured I’d live with it.

But then other noises happened. Like the sound of someone quietly knocking… on an inner wall and all along its length. Creaks in places there shouldn’t have been any. Birds chirping in the shower.

That last one is probably real. Heh. Some enterprising mama bird found a space between the house and the shed and built a nest. A few days later, the chirps were gone.

But how to explain the rest?

My first thought: It’s natural, caused by something real (a settling foundation, expanding or contracting pipes, etc.), because such noises always are. There is no ghost.

But I’ve never lived in such a noisy place, and one night I’d had enough and said aloud at around 2:00 a.m., “Knock it the fuck off! I don’t want to hear this crap anymore. Silence!”

And all the noises stopped for at least two days. So you tell me: is my place haunted?

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