Where do story ideas come from?

So very often right from your life. Case in point today something happened that I didn’t want to waste time with but couldn’t tear myself away from. I was supposed to be cleaning the house but all that got cleaned was the dishes, the window by the sink and the backdoor, i.e. all places that afforded me a good view.

It started with a picture I put up on FB of the abandoned house next door and this post I made at ten to four This abandoned house was nearly hidden from view until this summer. And it is my view from my kitchen and bedroom (so thanks). I hoped they’d knock it down. Well today someone is out there and I’m watching them as I wash dishes. I’m fairly sure they don’t know what they’re doing. A few weeks ago they made a half-assed attempt to remove the asbestos shingles (and then quit because most are still there). Now there’s one hillbilly in an excavator using the bucket to knock on the walls while perched on a hill. There’s literally no one else around. I’m not sure if he’s just trying to bust up the porch or bring it all down (He knocked out the bay window while I watched). So how long before he’s buried in old house and I’m calling 911? I closed the curtain and went into the back room.

The House 20190901_124106

And my friend MKF said ‘this is story fodder, you should be video taping it.’ I was too busy and it was too hot for that but since it happened I found myself unable to look away. What follows is a series of FB posts.

4:45 OMG now he has the excavator halfway IN the house while demolishing the bottom (with the second floor still intact) What could possibly go wrong? (no lie he was literally bashing around the bottom without bringing the top down first)

6:15 Well,the house just crashed into the middle of it. Don’t see the dude. Hmmm

6:30 Good news, he’s still alive and slamming the dying house. Just noticed he has NO safety gear on as he wrecks this asbestos ridden deathtrap, no respirator, no googles, not even a hard hat. Go redneck go.

7:00 Dies. Now he has the excavator bucket stuck in a tree near the house he didn’t remove first (seriously hysterical as he’s thrashing the bucket trying to get it out)

7:50 And as night falls, the house is 98% down and our intrepid hillbilly heads off into the sunset

8:40 I was WRONG! They didn’t ride off into the sun set. They were somewhere getting fuel to set the rubble ON FIRE. I couldn’t figure out who was knocking on my door at 830 pm but it was a neighbor My entire apartment feels like it’s ready to ignite on the side facing the blaze and I had to call the fire dept. Apparently we ALL did. OMG this place. (Oh by the way there really aren’t hydrants here)

9:30 So five fire trucks, two police cars and lots of other rednecks all showed up. The fire is still burning but it’s manageable now. Not sure if anyone went to jail. I doubt it. I’m pretty sure I still see him out there with his shovel (because yes that’s what he brought to help with the conflagration) but I’m betting someone got fined out the butt for this. Best part is, that’ll be burning outside my bedroom on a night that I NEED to get to bed early because I need to be up at the crack of dawn to get to a doctor’s appt before work.

I don’t feel like I can share my friends’ responses but trust me they were funny too. I am dying laughing at the stupid. Yes this needs to be in a story somewhere but no one will believe anyone is this dumb.

And that’s where ideas come from.

Rainbow Snippets

My plans for this fall weekend were scuttled by the fact it’s freaking 90 degrees out there and I’m not up to another day of slogging around in the heat in cosplay.

Still continuing with the world’s slowest burn and These Haunted Hills Brendan is still exploring Josh’s house (with Cassia in tow)

The spacious kitchen had those very tall cabinets up to thirteen foot ceilings. Brendan never could figure out how women in the eighteen hundreds used those top cabinets. Josh had a nice collection of cast iron skillets on the wall right next to an R2D2 that had handles on it. On closer inspection it was a series of measuring cups.

“Does Josh cook?”

“He enjoys it and he’s not bad. Don’t tell him I told you but he haunts Yummly online. Don’t be surprised if he invites you for dinner.” Cassia yanked open the fridge and fished out three beers. She handed one to him. “Want a glass or is the bottle good for you? The church key is in the drawer next to the skin.”

“Bottle is fine.” Brendan opened the utensil drawer. Why was he not surprised that the bottle opener was another Millennium Falcon. He took it with him into the living room.

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!

New Release! – Complex Dimensions by Brenda Murphy

Title: Complex Dimensions

Series: A Rowan House Novel

Author: Brenda Murphy

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: September 23, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 65100

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, Contemporary, BDSM, lesbian, interracial, ex-convict, chauffeur, D/s, butch, sex toys

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Sick of living in her parent’s basement and encountering her ex-girlfriend on a regular basis, former graduate student Veronica Fletcher signs on to manage the stable for Rowan House, Skye’s most exclusive resort for women. After arriving at Rowan house Veronica’s vow to remain celibate is tested when she meets Millie Reid.

Sexy, sweet, and funny, Millie is the woman of Veronica’s dreams. Or is she? When Millie’s past threatens their future together, Veronica is faced with a choice she doesn’t want to make. The butterfly effect has never been more personal.


Complex Dimensions
Brenda Murphy © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Veronica followed her mom through the grocery, navigating the phalanx of Saturday afternoon shoppers. Her thoughts wandered as she trailed behind her mother as she maneuvered their overloaded cart around people staring at the overcrowded shelves, children straying from their parents, and the occasional mobility scooter.

“Ronnie, would you go back and pick up another can of tomato paste? I need two for my sauce. I’m so out of step since they rearranged the store. I don’t understand why…”

Not ready to listen to her mom go on about the changes in the store layout for what must be the hundredth time since she had been released, Veronica interrupted her. “Relax, Mom, I got it.”

She turned and jogged back two aisles and caught sight of a familiar face. Dee stood at the far end of the aisle, her arm draped around the shoulders of Veronica’s ex-friend, Paige. A toddler, her round face and dark brown eyes so much like Dee’s she could have been a clone, sat in the basket of the cart in front of them. Paige pressed a kiss to Dee’s cheek.

Say hello. Don’t act invisible. Get over yourself. So, she’s here with Paige and their baby. Should be me. Should have been us. She looked away and gathered herself. Say something. Be a grown-up. Congratulate them. She looks happy.

Veronica walked down the aisle toward the women, working hard to keep a smile plastered on her face. She lifted her hand in greeting. Dee glanced up and made brief eye contact before a frown crossed her face. She turned her head away from Veronica. Paige looked past Dee and shot Veronica a challenging glare before she pushed their shopping cart briskly away. Fuck. No mistaking the message. She’s moved on. Let it go. She stopped and shoved her hands in her pockets to keep from balling them into fists. She turned away, walked to the main aisle, and followed the overhead labels until she reached the canned vegetable aisle.

She stood in the center of the aisle and groaned inwardly as she studied the shelves. Why do they need twelve different kinds of paste? Damn it. Where the hell is the Bella tomato paste? Mom will flip if it’s not the right brand.

A short woman dressed in a bright red T-shirt and jeans stepped up on the bottom shelf of the section. She extended her arm, her fingers straining shy of the can of tomato sauce she was trying to reach.

Veronica stepped closer. “Hey, let me…” The shelf rocked and teetered. The sharp sound of metal scraping made the hairs on Veronica’s arm stand up as the shelf tilted toward the woman.

“Watch out!” Veronica grabbed the woman around the waist and tugged her out of the way as the entire section of heavy metal shelving crashed to the floor. Cans of vegetables slid off the shelves and filled the aisle. A dented can of stewed tomatoes rolled past her shoe as cans continued to randomly slide from the twisted metal shelves.

“Are you okay?” Veronica let go of the woman’s waist. Other shoppers crowded around them, drawn by the noise.

A store employee arrived. Red faced and wheezing, he pointed to the avalanche of cans. “Is anyone under there?”

“No. I don’t think so.” Veronica leaned away from the stale smell of cigarettes and sweat wafting from the employee.

The woman stared at Veronica, her eyes wide. “You…I would have been under there. I would have…” Her cheeks grew pink. “Thank you.” She ducked her head, pushed through the crowd, and fled.

More store employees showed up and blocked the aisle with warning signs and yellow tape. The crowd filtered away. Veronica stepped back from the chaos.

The dull edge of the can she was still holding dug into her palm. What if my mom hadn’t needed another can of tomato paste? What if Dee had wanted to chat? What if I hadn’t noticed the shelf shift? We both would’ve been under there. A minute. A second. So much can change in a moment. Butterfly effect. Chaos Theory on display.

“Ronnie?” Her mother’s hand squeezed her arm. She turned and stared down the aisle, her lips pressed together in a thin line. “Good Lord, look at that. You’d have been crushed.”

Veronica held up the can in her hand and grinned at her mom. “Got the tomato paste.”

Her mother quirked her mouth, “All right, joker, let’s get the rest of the groceries before anything else falls down.”


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Meet the Author

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows, and yes, those are her monkeys. When she is not swilling gallons of hot tea and writing, she wrangles two kids, two dogs, and one unrepentant parrot. She writes about life, books, and writing on her blog Writing While Distracted.

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Rainbow Snippets

This past week was a blur of grading. I know I owe a bunch of comments. Will get there, promise. Today was great fun. I spent the early afternoon being the tifin in a tea duel with my steampunk airship and then on to the Mothman festival. I caught a really good talk by Dana and Greg Newkirk, curators of the Traveling Occult museum. It occurred to me Josh and Brendan would love this stuff.

Speaking of which, here we go, more of These Haunted Hills Brendan is getting his first look at Josh’s house.

On the book shelves he saw the Starship Enterprise, Spike and Angel from Buffy, a small Millennium Falcon, a Harry Potter wand and on the couch was Kevin’s wand from his own series, the one that was a universal channel changer. He couldn’t imagine a more perfect space for Josh. He picked up Kevin’s wand.

Wide eyed Josh snatched it from his hand and tucked it into his pocket, blushing. “Sorry for the mess.”

“I was thinking, this is how I pictured your place. Okay maybe not the blue farm house part but the inside, definitely. It was a good idea to come here. I feel better now.”

“How so?”

“I was going to say you and Cassia know everything about me but that’s not exactly true. You do know a lot and I know very little about you. It’s nice seeing a little more about what makes you tick.”

“You already know the important stuff. I like foxes. I ghost hunt. I’m a huge geek who has an enormous stash of comic books in one of those spare bedrooms I mentioned.” Josh smiled.

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!

New Release! No Good Men by Thea McAlistair

Title: No Good Men

Series: The Caro Mysteries, Book One

Author: Thea McAlistair

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: September 16, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 65100

Genre: Historical, LGBT, 1930s, Age gap, Historical, Gay, Dark, Mystery, Anxiety

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In 1934, almost everyone struggles to pay the rent, and Alex Dawson is no exception. To support his writing habit, he moonlights with his mentor Donnie as a bodyguard for the mayor. It’s dull work, until the night a handsome, golden-eyed stranger catches his eye–and both his boss and his mentor are killed when his back is turned.

Jobless and emotionally adrift, Alex vows to find the murderer before the corrupt police can pin the blame on him. But he soon discovers he’s in over his head. The golden-eyed stranger turns out to be a mob boss’s cousin, and a suspicious stack of money in Donnie’s dresser leads Alex to discover that his mentor and the mayor were involved in something more crooked than fundraising dinners and campaign speeches. As the death count rises amid corruption, mob politics, and anarchist plots, Alex realizes that the murders aren’t political or even business. This is the work of a spree killer, and Alex and his new boyfriend are the only ones who can stop them.


No Good Men
Thea McAlistair © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Mob money could buy a lot, but apparently it couldn’t buy taste. Every single architectural detail of the Ostia struck me as garish: from the chandeliers dripping crystals to the thick wooden accent panels to the gold-painted cherubs carved into the tops of the columns. But my opinion didn’t matter; I was just hired muscle.

The club had opened the previous December—about two seconds after booze turned legal again—and attracted all sorts of upper-class clientele, including my boss, Mayor Roy Carlisle. They called him the White Knight of Westwick, and he ran on the rather ironic platform of driving various ne’er-do-wells out of the city. But again, not my business. My job was to hover just behind him in case something terrible happened. Nothing ever happened though, no crazed attackers or falling pianos. The worst crisis I’d run into in the ten or so months I’d been working for him was a freak rainstorm at a garden party, and I had to hold my jacket over his wife Emma’s head to protect her hair.

Still, it was a dollar a night to stand around, and that was more than other people were getting. The Depression had wiped everyone out, including me. If I hadn’t taken up bodyguarding, I would’ve been thrown out of my room in the boardinghouse faster than I could say eviction. Writing pulp stories wasn’t a lucrative day job, and even less so at the beginning of a career.

Which was why, despite my thoughts on the decor, I was pleased to be at the Ostia. Everyone said they had the best acts in town, and I couldn’t disagree. That night they opened with a pretty, button-nosed redhead. She was French, or at least she had a good enough grip of the language to sing in it. I didn’t know what she was singing about, but it sounded sultry enough as she made eyes at our table.

Carlisle lapped it up, ignorant or indifferent to Emma turning bright pink beside him. She didn’t say anything though. Maybe she’d taken a lesson from other political wives and learned to swallow her pride or risk becoming divorced and destitute. Not that she didn’t deserve to be proud. She was still pretty at thirty-five—ten years Carlisle’s junior—blonde and delicate with huge blue eyes.

She must have gotten her looks from her mother, because her father had the smashed face of a bulldog and towered over even my own six feet. Seated to his daughter’s left that night, Marc Logan also stewed in silence, his hand alternately crumpling the napkins and patting Emma reassuringly on the knee. His own blue eyes, the haunting color of old ice, bored a hole into the side of Carlisle’s head.

Their dinner guest for the evening, Mrs. Green, likewise noticed his glare and apparently decided the best course of action was distraction. “Emma dear, did you see what Miss Kepler was wearing the other night at the Peterson soiree?” she tittered as she coiled the chain for her hanging glasses around a finger.

“Hmm?” Emma turned her head just enough to keep her husband in her peripheral vision. “I’m sorry; what were you saying about the Kepler girl?”

“Her dress!” exclaimed Mrs. Green. “It was scandalous! So low-cut. Anyone would have thought she was selling herself. Her father should never have let her out of the house like that. Don’t you agree, Mr. Logan?”

Logan blinked slowly, no doubt trying to come to terms with the dullness of a conversation centered on someone else’s clothing. “While I have to agree that she was… improperly dressed for the occasion, it is quite difficult for a man to say no to his daughter once she’s gotten her mind wrapped around something.” He glanced at Emma, who smiled weakly.

Mrs. Green continued along the thread of scandalous attire, but I let my attention slip back to Carlisle. Oblivious to the rest of his table, he continued to stare at the French singer. While such behavior wasn’t unusual for him, that night it was so obvious that even I was becoming uncomfortable. I glanced at my watch and suppressed a groan. It was only half-past ten. Donnie wouldn’t be around for another hour and a half.

“Are you feeling all right, Mr. Dawson?”

My attention snapped to Emma. “Yes, ma’am,” I answered, hoping she hadn’t noticed my boredom.

Her mouth quirked like she was in on some joke I didn’t know the punchline to, but she said nothing else. Instead she turned to her father, placed a hand on his shoulder, and whispered something in his ear. He grunted in response. Carlisle didn’t notice the exchange, or maybe didn’t care. Mrs. Green kept nattering away.

The song stopped, and the French girl took a bow. We all clapped, Carlisle too enthusiastically, and Emma barely at all. The girl swept off the stage to a table off the wing for a break, and she was replaced by a dark-haired woman with too much makeup. The new woman sang with a rough alto voice, occasionally throwing appraising looks at Carlisle, though he didn’t return them. Once the French girl left, his attention had returned to the food. The rest of the table did the same.

With my charges occupied, I took the chance to look over the room again. Nothing out of the ordinary. Diners, waiters, a glossy bar at the back. The maître-de waving through a man who had just entered… I realized I knew the man weaving his way between tables. Donnie was terribly noticeable with a thick, out-of-fashion beard and pocket-watch chain draped across his waistcoat. I looked at my own watch again. It was only eleven.


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Meet the Author

Thea McAlistair is the pseudonym of an otherwise terribly boring office worker from New Jersey. She studied archaeology, anthropology, history, architecture, and public policy, but none of those panned out, so she decided to go back to an early love – writing. She can often be found muttering to herself about her latest draft at completely inappropriate times.

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