Sunday Small Talk

January turned out to be a better month than I could have hoped for. I’ve written over 12K between three projects. Last year that would have represented about three months worth of work. So what’s different? Part of it is I’m doing a little better depression wise. Not great, but better.

But before I get into how I’ve been handling 2018 so far let me share the best news which is Dreamspinner Publications has picked up Blood Red Roulette, my vampires in Vegas novel. I may have squealed a little. Might have done the happy hippo from Fantastia dance around the room. My friends know how much this story meant to me and how hard I worked to revamp it, no pun intended. It’s been years in the making and I don’t want to get into too much detail now (saving that for the blog tours to come). Just know that Arrigo and Luc are very near and dear to my heart and I’m so happy they’re seeing publication. Oh, I’m sure I’ll be whining later when the edits come for this beast but in the end it’ll be worth it.

Now back to how I’ve been tackling this month. I’ve given myself some accountability. I’m sticking with the ‘write every day’ challenge a little better than before and joined Inking It Out on dreamwidth, a weekly accountability group. I don’t care that I go to them with 100 words for the week, at least it’s 100 words more than the week before.

Also setting some deadlines has helped. I set my own deadlines for finishing These Haunted Hills and Nine Star Press’s deadline for the Lost anthology is helping with my Sacred Kin story (which is SO desperately in need of a title I can’t begin to express it). And I’ve been chatting and sprinting with Lex Chase several times a week and believe me having someone there to talk to helps. That’s how I work best and my usual partner for this over the last decade as a radically different work schedule than I do these days and we can’t sync up like we used to.

Finding a place in some social media groups has helped too. Some groups are very helpful. Others, of course, are not. All of them have their little (or not so little) dramas but I’m getting better at navigating those waters. I’ve been part of both Queer SciFi and Rainbow Snippets for a couple of years now. They’ve been a haven and a source of encouragement and a fountain of inspiration. We all need that and I’m thankful I’ve found them. Lately Nine Star Press’s author FB page has been all of that too and I’m still so glad they picked up my steampunk Christmas story.

Speaking of them, the expansion (yeah I know I said I wouldn’t do this again but we all knew I lied) of Modified and Sacred (see, definitely needs a better title!) into a novella for their lost open call is going better than I thought it would. I’m up to 22K and it’s looking like I could potentially pull this off. These Haunted Hills is going slower but it doesn’t have the firm deadline that the Lost story does so I’m fine with that. And somehow, somewhere I started a lesbian paranormal for another of Nine Star’s ongoing calls. We’ll see what happens with that.

Here’s hoping February goes as well as January.

Rainbow Snippets

What am I working on this weekend? Putting back half my apartment now that the plumbers are done but not the computer room because it has a 3X1 foot hole carved into the wall letting the winter wind come up the pipes. That and still floating around the house because my Vampires in Vegas novel was accepted for publication.

Oh and writing more of These Haunted Hills, a SF novella for the Lost open call with Nine Star Press and writing anatomy exams (insert wicked witch laugh here).

Last time Brendan and Josh were just about to go into the abandoned murder hotel when Brendan asked how much trouble would he be in and Josh said it depended on how mad he still was that Brendan killed off his favorite character in Brendan’s popular YA series.

Brendan face palmed. “You’re one of them.”

“Your entire fan base is one of them, Brendan. You killed off a popular character. I cried all night long when I read it. You best hope I don’t leave you inside with the ghosts.” Joshua delivered his threat with the same smiling eyes.

“I’m so screwed,” Brendan laughed.

If you’d like to play along, Rainbow Snippets is a Facebook community where we post up 6 sentences of one of our LGBT stories every Saturday. It’s been fun and you can find it here. Be sure to check out all the offers! It’s been a great supportive group!

Rainbow Snippets

An upfront warning: I’ll probably be slow commenting this week. My new landlord decided to replumb the whole apartment complex which I knew and spent the last week moving things from the kitchen and bathroom cabinets and the contents of the 2 utilities closets into the computer room. Last night they called me and said oh by the way we need in the bedroom (i.e. the computer room) to bust through the wall into the bathroom to make a utility panel) and we’ll be there 8 am monday. So now I have a weekend to move everything including furniture so I can’t go to either the winter hike/frozen festival or the woman’s march. I’m most unpleased.

But on to the snippet. I’m continuing with These Haunted Hills (one day this WIP will get a blurb). Josh (ghost hunter) and Brendan (popular author) have driven up to the haunted hotel in the last couple of snippets. I skipped over the description of the hotel. All we need to know here is that it was built in the 1900’s (maybe 1910) and was a couple stories high and is now very much falling down. Josh is telling Brendan the history of the hotel.

Anyhow she had this built with secret rooms and trap doors and others were outfitted like gas chambers. How she convinced her husband of the need, no one knows. It might be possible he shared in her desire to kill. At first it was mostly maids and handymen who went missing, most of them orphans or runaways from the city who were grateful for the job and had no one to come looking for them once they disappeared.

Brendan got out of the truck and studied the hotel again, even more unsure about it now than he was a few moments before. “How much trouble am I going to get into with this venture?”

Joshua turned to him, his bright blue eyes dancing. “I guess that boils down to how mad I still am about you killing off John’s best friend.”

If you’d like to play along, Rainbow Snippets is a Facebook community where we post up 6 sentences of one of our LGBT stories every Saturday. It’s been fun and you can find it here. Be sure to check out all the offers! It’s been a great supportive group!

Rainbow Snippets

I’m ice and snowed in for the three-day weekend so here’s hoping I get some writing done!

I’m continuing with These Haunted Hills. Last time, on the way to the haunted hotel, Brendan asked Josh if he’d ever been attacked by a ghost given the history.”

“It happens. Usually you get hit, shoved or scratched. I expect it to happen at the hotel.” Joshua shrugged.

Brendan swallowed down those pesky second thoughts. “Really?”

“How much research did you put into this hotel?”

“I’ve just started. I’ve been doing more character creation exercises for my protagonists. Researching the hotel is up next. I know there were murders taking place there.”

If you’d like to play along, Rainbow Snippets is a Facebook community where we post up 6 sentences of one of our LGBT stories every Saturday. It’s been fun and you can find it here. Be sure to check out all the offers! It’s been a great supportive group!

A Winter’s Day Off

hocking hills winter

A Winter’s Day Off
By Jana Denardo
Author’s Note – This was written for the 12 days of ficmas challenge and for the word of the month challenge (the word being hat and the supernatural beings being a werewolf, a vampire and a druid-magic user).

“I’m going to say it again, it’s our day off. We never get days off. We should be home, in front of the fire doing stuff to make Aphrodite happy,” Jason grumbled, stomping along the snow-covered ‘Granny’ pathway winding along Ash Cave’s lower rim. Faolan preferred actual woodland paths but at this time of year, he couldn’t quibble about taking the paved path. The fact he had actually cajoled Jason out into the woods for a late afternoon hike was a miracle in and of itself, and he’d probably have to do a lot of things to ‘make Aphrodite happy’ to make it up to the vampire.

“It’s a beautiful day out,” Faolan said, even though it was a lie. It was so grey and sunless Jason didn’t even need sunblock and an umbrella to be outside without a problem.

“You lie worth shit,” Jason replied, rubbing his arms. Faolan doubted he could possibly be that cold. He had on his ‘big coat,’ snow boots, snowmobiling, negative degrees rated gloves that he’d gotten Goddess knew where, a Steelers hat pulled down to his sunglasses – not that he needed them- and the Doctor Who scarf Faolan had given him wrapped all the way up to his nose.

“Vampires, do they ever stop bitching?” Derrek asked, happily striding along next to them. Faolan wasn’t sure the werewolf was any happier being out in the cold park until he saw how miserable it was making the hot-blooded Jason. Faolan swore they lived to torment each other. He also swore he was the only sane one in this threesome.

“Shut up, furball.”

“Bite me, if you can get your fangs past all those layers of scarf,” Derrek replied, putting a hand out to against a hemlock’s trunk for balance as his boot skidded.

Faolan tugged down his tousle cap in Star Trek blue, complete with Spock ears, that his grandmother had crocheted for him. Maybe if he got it down over his ears far enough, it would muffle their bickering. Doubtful. He’d probably hear them even if someone cast a deafness spell on him. He fingered his ever-present magic wand riding in his coat pocket. Maybe he should cast one on himself. No, then he’d miss the subtle sounds of winter birds and animals as they strolled on toward Ash Cave. Maybe he could cast a mute spell on them.

“Besides, you know how druids are better than me,” Derrek continued. “You’ve been with him way longer. You knew Faolan was coming out here with or without us.”

Jason huffed, saying nothing because he knew it was true. Faolan was glad they came for all their bickering. He wanted to share this part of his life with them. He loved nature. What Druid didn’t? He knew they might never see the cycle of the seasons in the way he did, but of the two, Derrek would come closer. Werewolves were all about their senses. Derrek was more aware of the squirrels, chipmunks and foxes that might be scampering about than Faolan was. Jason was more the ‘this winter shit needs a glass of wine while I read by the fire’ type, when he wasn’t doing Aphrodite things by said fire.

“I did want to see the frozen waterfall. You have to admit, that’s going to be something to behold,” Faolan said.

“Want to know what else is frozen? Jason jabbed a finger toward his belt line. “I’m expected it to be warmed up properly.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll cant a heating vent that,” Faolan replied, smirking. Derrek brayed with laughter, startling something that crashed through the underbrush.

“No respect, that’s all I get.” Jason seemed to sink even deeper into his coat as they rounded the bend, and the horseshoe shaped shell of the recess cave came into view.

Faolan paused for a moment, taking in the distant view. Snow clung to the sandstone hollow and dusted the staircase leading up to the higher rim. Normally, he’d take that path back but it probably wasn’t safe. It did have something of a drop down halfway back to the parking lot. He could hear the trickle of water from the creek above.

Even Jason and Derrek stopped their bickering when they spotted the vista. Faolan snapped several photos of the cave and creek from this distance and one of his lovers framed by the snowy cliff-side. Together they walked down to the small beach that thrust its way into Ash Cave. From the lip of the cliff, long daggers of ice dangled like the sword of Damocles. One was more pillar than dagger. Another pillar thrust up from the ground like some giant candle complete with melted wax appearance. Between the two pillars some of the water fell, still liquid.

“Okay, so it is worth seeing,” Jason said, slipping an arm around Faolan’s waist.

“It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?” Faolan murmured, entranced as he always was when he visited here in winter.

“Yeah,” Derrek said, edging closer to the ice stalagmite.

Faolan peeled off his gloves and touched the pillar of ice then cupped them upwards, letting the frigid water trickle through his fingers as he said a little prayer. He dried his hands on his wool pea coat, pulled the gloves back on before wielding his camera again. He knew he couldn’t capture the true beauty of it but he’d try. After capturing the panoramic views, he went to macro views and slowly realized he was working in silence.

Glancing around he spotted Jason and Derrek deeper into the cave recess kissing against the stone wall. That was about the only time they were ever quiet. He caught several photos of that before they realized what he was up to and drew him into their embrace and their fiery kisses. All were in agreement it was too damn cold for more than kisses. Faolan reluctantly said goodbye to Ash Cave and her wintery veil of ice and snow.

Derrek suddenly sat on a large flat rock, kicking off his boots. Jason eyed him then snorted. “Wolves, none of them are right.”

“Shut up.” Derrek hurriedly stripped, his jewels acting like any human’s – retreating up for warmth. “Carry my stuff!”

With that he began to shift. Faolan distributed the discarded clothing between him and Jason. He had to say Derrek’s fur looked too luxurious to not stroke so he gave his lover a pet. Derrek barked then raced for the creek. He skidded out onto the frozen section, ran around like he was on the dog track then started loping down the path. Dropping Derrek’s clothing, Jason stooped and made a half-hearted snowball before whipping it at Derrek. The werewolf leaped up, catching it in his mouth, making happy dog sounds.

Jason snorted and scooped up the clothing again, wagging his head. “Wolves, they just are so weird.”

“You’re just jealous you don’t have a nice warm coat of fur.” Faolan grinned, a little jealous himself.

“Keep telling yourself that.” Jason reached out and took Faolan’s hand. He tugged Faolan in for a kiss, and then walked back toward the car, still holding hands.

Derrek trotted along with them with occasional forays into the underbrush after gods knew what. Faolan didn’t mind. He knew Derrek wouldn’t bring them back a squirrel as a ‘gift.’ He couldn’t deny Derrek time to play as a wolf. Werewolves needed their fur time.

“So, I have ideas for how you can thank me for freezing my balls to death out here.” Jason grinned, giving Faolan’s hand a squeeze.

“Tell me all about them.”

Faolan couldn’t wait to hear them. When it came to bedroom games, Jason always had the best ideas. It was hardly a punishment for making Jason freeze. Time to commune with nature and time to be loved on by Jason and Derrek, what better way could there be to spend a day off?