Something for Halloween

In the mid 1980’s, I was a year out of high school and learning the equine trade as a working student on a Pennsylvania horse farm. One of the chores on our lowly student list involved checking the barns’ inhabitants, doling out extra groceries to the hard keepers, topping off water buckets, and generally making sure that all were bright eyed and healthy. It wasn’t a job any of us enjoyed, but we took turns and always went with a partner to cut down on the time sacrificed from our evenings.


One cold winter night, another student and I finished checking the first barn without incident and were walking down hill to the next–home to most of the young stock– when we noticed a dark colored horse standing stark against the moonlit snow in a paddock where we knew no horse should be. Noting the broad white star on its forehead, we tentatively identified her as an older mare named Seance, who was certainly a black horse with a white star, lived in the farthest pasture with the lesson horse herd, and was known as something of an escape artist… although she seldom ventured this far from her friends.

As we watched, the escapee mare paced the fence line restlessly and neighed her displeasure. Ellie, one of the yearling fillies kept in the barn we were about to check, neighed back. This, to our unamused surprise, kicked off a non-stop conversation between the two loud enough to wake the dead. (Or at least, the farm’s owners who lived in a house nearby.)

Deciding that we couldn’t leave Seance where she was–since she was obviously agitated and egging Ellie on–we ducked into the barn and fetched the usual loose-horse paraphernalia: halters, lead ropes, and buckets of grain with which to bribe compliance. Then it was back out of the barn, a slog through knee-deep snow, and a struggle to open two mostly unused gates through the drifts before we reached the paddock.

The now empty paddock.

The now empty paddock which wasn’t just devoid of a fence-line pacing horse, but was equally lacking any indication of hoof prints in the pristine expanse of new snow.

We looked at the snow. Looked at each other. Looked back at the barn where Ellie had finally ceased her whinnying.

And made what I would like to think of as a strategic retreat.

The next morning, we presented a highly sanitized version to the farm’s owner. Thought we saw a loose horse. Must have been mistaken, but Ellie was acting up in the barn, so she thought she saw it too. Ha ha.

The owner listened with a half smile and said, “Black mare? White star? Middle paddock?”


“That was Edeltraum. We lost her to a lightning strike last summer in that same paddock. We buried her there. Ellie was her last foal, not yet weaned when we lost her mother.” She reached behind her, pulled a photo album off a bookshelf, and casually flipped through several pages before pushing it across her desk for us to see.

And there she was.

The exact same horse.

There were more sightings after that, but they stopped after Ellie was sold and left the farm the next year.

True story.

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I ain’t dead…

Rumors to the contrary can be dismissed, as yours truly was spotted in public at two awesome events: a multi-author book signing at the library in Wautoma, WI, followed by a reading and presentation with my great friend (and award winning author) Julie Eger at the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, WI on August 2nd.

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Why I Can’t Write A Sex Scene. Yet.

Yesterday evening, it occurred to me that I have a short novel (based on my 2013 National Novel ImageWriting Month’s literary blathering) which is practically finished, except for one small issue. I haven’t written in the sex scenes yet. Okay, I know that most novels don’t need to portray nookie in any of its many forms. And, I know that when nookie is required within my own work, I have a tendency to get my characters only so far and then I politely shut the bedroom door for the main event. Maybe I’m becoming a prude, or maybe I’m just totally disenchanted with stock phrases like “the throbbing steel of his manhood.” (What, did someone smack it with a hammer?)

But this story is different. Why? Because while the plot is more or less romantic as it is, my intention was to write it as –ahem- erotica. Why? Well, the fact is that I’ve shied away from writing such things for several years. This is an indication to me that maybe I should. It’s good for a writer to leave the comfort zone occasionally. It’s good to set a challenge for oneself.

For instance, when I wrote THE BLUFF, I named only one—yes, one—character. That character was not even the protagonist. It was intentional for many reasons, but believe me when I say it was also really hard to do. In SERVANT TO THE WOLF, the challenge was to write about a slave who actually liked being a slave, and to do it in such a way that it made sense while in no way promoting what was (and is) a vile institution. I’d like to believe I accomplished that.

I thought this challenge would be easier.

I mean, I really have written Insert Tab A into Slot B scenes before. Years ago, as I said. And while my love/sex life is currently about as exciting as three week old roadkill, in the distant past I was married and even managed to procreate twice. So yes, I do have a hazy recollection of the fundamentals, and I have a vivid imagination, and I’m not dead. I can even read erotica, and if it’s very well written erotica (which is to say not Fifty Shades Of Ridiculous) I occasionally enjoy it.

So, anyway, last night I determined that as soon as I woke up today, I would toddle to the computer and launch right into writing raw unbridled full-on passionate explicit f-dash-dash-dash-ing. By my count, I need to write four orgasmathons and a quickie.

Right on schedule, I woke up and toddled to the computer. Checked the news quickly, because if the world is ending, even good erotica is probably not going to have much of a market. It’s good to be prudent. Oh, and I had to get some schmucks to harvest my wheat on FarmTown, and since I’m on FarmTown, I’m also on Facebook, better check statuses. Sometimes that’s the only way I know my children are still alive. Anyway, I did drag myself away from that in less than an hour. Time to write.

Except that I need coffee. It’s a writer thing. No coffee = no productivity.

And, as I set up the coffeepot, I decide logically that I should have some breakfast too. It’s the most important meal of the day. I have bananas, but…no. Not bananas.

So, bacon. Bacon is good. But I nuke bacon in the microwave usually, and to do that, I need paper towels, and the roll in the kitchen is down to the cardboard. This is not a problem since I store ample back-stock of paper towels in the basement.

But if I’m going into the basement, I should probably take the laundry basket with me. It’s full and it’s my day off, so laundry should happen. I go back into my bedroom and grab the laundry basket.

And think to myself that if I’m doing laundry, I should probably wash my jammies. Which I’m still wearing. Okay, that makes sense, and besides, the house is a little cold so putting on more clothes will ultimately keep me from becoming distracted while my characters are taking off theirs.

As I change, my junior cat, “Neuroti-Kitty” jumps onto my bed and prances across the comforter, apparently delighted to realize that Food-Dispenser hasn’t gone to work. As she prances, I can hear one of her claws catching at each step with a dainty little ripping sound that does not bode well for the bedding. Neuroti-Kitty’s talons grow somewhat unevenly.

So I catch her unawares and trim the talons, much to her squawling dismay. Senior cat Bartholomew (who likes a good spectacle) has jumped onto the bed to watch the martyrdom, and since I have the clippers and he’s in range and laughing at me, I trim his claws too. He is more gladiator that martyr. I bleed, but only a little. It only takes a minute or two to clean the wound and apply a band-aid.

I take the laundry basket into the basement. While I’m loading the washing machine, I automatically check all the pockets. I’m usually pretty good about emptying them before they hit the basket, but to my surprise, I do find an ancient lottery ticket in a pair of jeans. I can’t remember if I’ve checked it. I can’t actually remember when I bought it. So, after I start the washer, I bound upstairs and hop back onto the internet. If I’m a millionaire, I might take the day off from writing after all.

I’m not a millionaire.

And I forgot the paper towels.

Back into the basement I go.

I cook the bacon. It is good. While  eating, I think that this morning’s activities, culminating in the lack of my characters’ activities, could be a nifty little blog entry, so I type away at the computer and chug coffee.


Of course, now the blog entry is done, and the bacon is done, and the coffee is done, so I can definitely start writing what I promised myself I’d write…

…except that it’s time to put the laundry into the dryer.

It’s okay though. I’m sure I’ll get to those scenes.


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Dear Bunnies…


Dear Bunnies,

We need to talk. I understand that we are in the middle of a terrible drought. In deference to that, and because I love little woodland creatures…at least those who don’t try to sting, bite, or maim me…I have conscientiously provided you with clean, fresh water every day. And I rejoice with you that my trees provide enough shade to keep at least some of the lawn green and snackable for you. I have watched you with interest and, in the way silly humans do, I’ve even given you dopey cute names. Yes, Stripey, Brindle and Scamper, I am talking to you.

But we have a problem. You know those three tomato plants I have by the garage? The ones that I also conscientiously provide with water? And check twice a day? And treat with love and affection because let’s be honest, tomato plants are among the very few plants in the universe that I don’t kill just by looking at them? Well, I couldn’t help but notice that the two tomatoes that were just starting to ripen broke out in a rash overnight. It was a funny rash that almost looked like bunny teeth had raked through them over and over and over again. Not that I’m making accusations or anything. It was merely a coincidence, I’m sure.

plus tomatoes…

Here’s the deal. This afternoon I spent thirty bucks and a solid hour under the blazing sun purchasing and putting up chicken wire and posts and landscape timbers and various oddments around those tomato plants; not to offend you, but to set up sort of a…a tomato ICU. To keep the rash away. And also to discourage any strange bunnies—not you three, of course, because you know better—that might wander in and try to steal a nibble or two.

Anyway I just wanted to let you know what I was doing, and no hard feelings or anything. As a neighborly gesture, I hope you’ll keep an eye on things and make sure that the more ignorant of your brethren know not to try and dig under the fence or touch the tomatoes. Because out of all the snackable plants in the yard, the tomatoes, and only the tomatoes, are mine.

Oh, one last little thing. If the fence receives any abuse, or if the rash comes back, you can expect landmines, claymores, and possibly a machine gun nest. It will get very…tactical. This may be Wisconsin, but I’m from Philly and I know people. People who don’t like little bunnies. People who have connections with other people who don’t like little bunnies. People who demand respect, cause if you ain’t got respect, you ain’t got nothin’. Capische?

Do you understand now?

I’m glad we had this little talk. Have a great evening.

The Landlady

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Click To Buy From Smashwords!

 One chance meeting. A pact made. Two lives irrevocably changed.

And they didn’t even know each others’ names.

Sometimes a passing encounter with a stranger sticks in the mind forever. But what happens when, long after they’ve gone their separate ways, the actions of one completely disrupts the life of the other?

Cassidy Creek Bridge. April in Wisconsin.


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