Thursday, December 31, 2009

300 Kids

by Ashley Lister

I’m writing this with a baby asleep in the pram in my office. This sleeping fellow is baby Paxton. There’s no need to be quiet. You won’t wake him.

Paxton came into this world on Christmas day and is probably the three hundredth baby my wife has created. Yes. You read that correctly. 300. She’s a very productive lady. I’m very proud of her determined approach to creating babies.
Below is a picture of me holding Fester: the baby I made in September.

Before anyone starts to get confused, I should point out that the babies Tracy makes are actually dolls. Reborn dolls, to give them their correct titles: lifeless lumps of plastic fashioned, styled, weighted and painted to produce surprisingly realistic creations. Tracy paints them. Tracy adds hair to their scalp – rooting each strand individually. And Tracy also sells them. This is her website: if you don’t believe me.

I’m not sure if the photographs above convey how realistic these dolls are. To illustrate how lifelike they are, we were recently driving to a doll show with a car stacked full of ‘babies’ in clear plastic boxes. We stopped at a motorway service station and took a break from the drive. A woman walked past the car and did a genuine double-take when she noticed our stock of two dozen ‘babies’ in plastic boxes.

“They’re dolls,” I explained quickly.

The woman looked again and sighed with relief. I could understand her consternation. If the dolls had been real babies it would be troubling to think that someone was ferrying twenty-four youngsters across the country with all of them wobbling about in sealed, airtight boxes.

“I’m so glad you told me,” the woman said. “I was going to report you to the police.”

Which means I live in a house that’s invariably filled with kids, often upwards of a dozen, and all of them blissfully silent.

Does this interfere with my writing? Damned right it does.

When Tracy is ‘making a baby’ it’s not uncommon for arms, legs and heads to be strewn around the house like the remnants from a slasher-movie slaughter. I’ve been for a pee in the middle of the night and come face to face with a decapitated, eyeless head staring blindly at me from atop the cistern.

This is not conducive to writerly thoughts, unless you happen to be writing a book about murder, mutilation or decapitated eyeless heads staring at you in the midnight hour. Which, at the moment, I’m not.

In lots of ways it’s like having real kids in the house. Sometimes they’re a distraction: sometimes you forget that they’re there; and sometimes you can just put them into a plastic box whilst you get on with doing important stuff like writing – because that’s what caring parents do. (NB – please note I’m not seriously advocating stuffing children into plastic boxes. Cardboard boxes are more environmentally friendly).

Admittedly, on the kid front, I’m also fortunate enough to have Ash JR living at home. He’s 20 now (and will be 21 later this year) which means he’s no longer a child.

Does he know what I write? He always has done.

Do I protect him from my fiction? Most weekends we watch horror movies, trying to out-gross each other with selections picked for their über-scary special effects or chillingly-awful acting. Considering he’s so good at picking films I think I’m the one who needs protection of some sort.

Does he ever make writing problematic? Yes and no. His Playstation is addictive – especially those two-player games in which we can compete head-to-head. His tastes in movies and quality dramas are compelling. And he knows how to distract his father from a work in progress by simply arguing approaches to Shakespeare or discussing music. Single-handedly he’s far more of a distraction to my writing than the other 300 ‘babies who’ve been through the house in the past few years. But it’s never a problem to spend quality time with your son so that’s not really a problem. And, if it ever did become problematic, I could always try to put him in a box with one of the other ‘babies’ in the house. Because that’s what caring parents do.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Man of Taste

Coming out of the Master’s theater I look around at my wife and kid and a little town I have lived in for almost five years. On nights like this, it seems like such a pale place to have arrived after the road years. But a lion may find peace in a quiet cage. Your Children will never ask where you’ve been. They never ask about your adventures or if ever you’ve had any. They only know you as you are now, just as I only knew my father at that time in his life and not before, and hardly since. Sometimes on nights like this, I want to tell my kid "There's more to me than what you know. I've seen stuff."

The Masters Theater is this small cineplex where the roof leaks and they charge $2 for a movie. These are recent movies which have newly arrived in that odd after life between first run and DVD. This is a very liberating place to have in your town. There are very few movies I want to see so badly I would pay ten dollars a head plus popcorn for my bunch to see them. But for $2 I can take my chances on anything that sounds even a little interesting. This evening the movie is “Paranormal Activity”, a reputedly scary movie, highly regarded by the critics. I’ve assured my family this is a 4 star movie and is supposed to be a real thrill fest and a half.

For a man, a hot date or a family outing even to a cheap movie is a kind of religious offering. You hope it will be accepted, as Cain and Abel in the book of Genesis hoped their offerings would be accepted by God. Abel's was accepted. Cain’s was not. Cain killed Abel in his rage and shame. When a man takes his best girl or his family on an outing to a movie or a restaurant and the result is good, he feels like Abel, he feels right with God and generous towards all his kind. About twenty minutes into a movie, with few exceptions, my wife knows if she likes it or not. About ten minutes into this one I feel the radiation leak silently poisoning me on my right side that says it is unlikely that later tonight we will be celebrating our carnal passion. On my left side my kid has slouched down in his seat with his chin in his hand. The movie is failing. My offering has been rejected. When the movie stinks – and this one does – I feel like Cain, though so far without the desire to murder anyone. From this time I begin to put away the Daddy hat and the Hopeful Lover hat and put on the Apprentice Writer’s hat. I ask myself – why doesn’t it work?

The apprentice writer must learn from everything and everyone. The literary Gods such as Tolstoy and Shakespeare it turns out aren’t very useful to learn craft from. They’re too high over my head, Olympian and unattainable. They represent the random touch of the divine. Lesser mortals like me learn the most from the hard working writers who are on my own meager level or better. But the failures, both mine and others, are an essential teacher. If you swing for the fences the way you should, you have to fail and not be afraid of it. When the Beatles were just a spunky little bar band playing eight hour long sets in bucket-of-blood strip joints in Hamburg Germany, their audience threw wooden chairs at them. That's how you train up to be the Beatles. That's part of the deal going in. You'd better learn to get 'em up and make 'em dance - or else they'll come after you. When you have an opportunity to observe and study from the failure of another artist, hell, that's a freebie. And as an old road dog knows, nothing tastes better than free.

As we walk across the parking lot, the sneers and snickers of the people in the audience, mostly college age kids, somehow sting in my ears as if that had been a story of my own that had fallen flat, and God knows I've written some stinkers. I have to keep reminding my nerves that I didn’t write the movie, I just went to see it. So I ask my kid “Did you like it?’

“It was stupid.”

"Fair enough. Why?"

Now this is a kid who is experimenting with drama class at school. He’s getting a feel for this stuff. He’s had some bit roles in plays, and his drama club placed second in a contest. He hasn't got it all figured out yet, but he knows what he likes. He knows when the machine is working right. He knows when it isn’t.

In the novel “Hannibal” by Thomas Harris, someone asks Dr. Hannibal Lechter how to go about developing “taste” in quality as regards food and art and music and so on. Whatever his lurid faults, Hannibal the Cannibal is an urbane man of sophisticated taste. He answers that the most important thing, the starting point, is to trust your preferences first. Develop your own opinions of quality based on what you like and most important, try to understand why you like them. My kid is starting to get a sense of what he likes and why. He’s on the way to being a man of taste.

"I wasn't scared. I was bored."

“Okay, so why? Why didn’t it work?”

He knows I write stuff I don’t want him to read. When I ask "Why doesn't it work?" we're addressing each other as seasoned technicians of story craft. As we wander around in the cars looking for my white van he thinks it over and speaks with emotion. “It was redundant. It was the same scenes over and over. The girl stands by the bed shaking and the clock runs. Or people scream. Or nothing happens. Over and over, the same stuff.”

“Okay. What about the characters?”

“There wasn't any villain, just this entity. But you never get to know the entity. You don’t get to know the people. They just scream and talk about the same things over and over. They don't change. You don’t even know how they got in that house. You never get to like them.”

“So liking them is important?’

“Yeah – like Toy Story.”

He’s in high school and “Toy Story” was a long time ago, but that’s my boy, he knows a good story when he sees one. “Toy Story” is good story telling. Mighty good. It’s not kid stuff to him. He hasn’t rejected the good things of childhood just to satisfy the status quo of what other people have told him he's supposed to like. He respects the stories he loved as a little kid and he’s not ashamed of them. That’s a very good sign. I just love that. The boy has taste already. Dr. Lechter would like this kid.

I agree with him about the characters too. Right on the beat. I didn’t care much about them either and that means something's not working. He inspires me, because he already knows so much more about this stuff at his age than I did.

Now here is the great mystery that still makes me crazy: Get this -

The folks in the audience didn’t like this movie. My wife and kid didn’t like this movie. I understood what the director was trying to do and admired him for his risk talking, but it didn’t work for me either. But. But-but-but Roger Ebert, my favorite movie critic, whose prose I study, whose opinions I revere, greatly admired this movie. The other critics greatly admired it as well. My bringing my family to this movie and having my offering blown off the altar by gales of laughter instead of screams was an honest mistake because the lights and voices whose taste I trust assured me this was one hell of a movie. What happened? Anyone who goes into a creative field such as a writing, music or art will sooner or later come up against the big question of taste. Which is - are you any good? You will never ever know for sure. That's what you will have to learn to live with. As Hannibal the Cannibal asserts, in the end you have to trust what you love and go with it and hope that other people will get it. If they don't, well, shucks. "Sorry if you didn't like my story this time around folks. But the sad fact is it's just what I've got." You want to touch your audience, that's partly why you're here, but in the end its a lonely deal.

So what lesson does the apprentice writer take from his conversation with his kid? How do you make it work next time?

One the things I discovered early on about writing and reading horror stories is that you must care about the people. This is true for any form of popular fiction, including romance and erotica. Horror stories depend a great deal on plot, but without caring about the people involved when The Very Bad Thing is about to happen there is no fear. Plot alone won't carry it. When you stop
caring, the story dies. That's why some of the most ferocious horror movies ever made like "The Exorcist", "Martyrs", "Poltergeist", "Orphan" and others have children front and center of their stories.

Let's talk about story. When Hitchcock’s “Psycho” came out in 1960, it took this basic idea of a main character you care about and just turned that inside out. That made it genuinely terrifying. We see the woman Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) steal a bundle from a business client and run off with the money. She checks into the Bates Motel where she meets the twitchy but likable Norman Bates. Marion has a cheese sandwich and a heart to heart with Norman on the subject of being trapped, because Norman has a serious Mother From Hell problem. Marion sees the error of what she has done and decides to bring the money back and start over rather than being trapped into this life as a fugitive. We like her. We cheer for her redemption.

An hour into the movie – halfway into the movie – Marion is taking a shower. In an age when nudity was restricted to 8mm films at bachelor parties, seeing her blurred nude silhouette against the plastic motel shower curtain creates a great focus of erotic intensity. Cinematic time slows down to the second. We know something important is going to happen because everything is happening so slowly, in real time. What does happen is outrageous. She is killed. Really. Not just wounded. Not just scared silly. Not one of those sonuvabitching “dream scenes” I absolutely loathe, those cowardly narrative "Gotcha" cop-outs where the heroine wakes up screaming – but oh! It was just a dream! Not this time, buddy. “Most sincerely dead” as the munchkins say.

But wasn’t she the main character?

What the hell?

Can they do that??

We’ve cared about her. We've liked her and wished she would get her life straightened out. We’ve seen her sitting around the motel bed sulking in her underwear and she’s really got a pair too, poor thing. Now she’s what? She’s fucking dead Jim, and she ain’t comin’ back no more. Now that is a great story teller pulling you right out of your damn popcorn, yanking the rug right out from under you. In the hands of a more timorous writer, Marion would have been rescued two or three times by the erstwhile Norman and at the end Norman would have died a dramatic hero’s death and been forced, alas, to kill his nasty mother. Ah, poor Norman. But this shit? You have an hour to go and you’re cut loose without a clue now that the pretty girl with the nice tits is at the bottom of a skuzzy swamp wrapped up in a cheap shower curtain. Now you’re lost. Now you are thinking exactly what you should be thinking, which is -”Wow! And THEN what happened??"

Now that, oh Friends of the Inner Sanctum, is one of the greatest gifts a story teller can give to his audience.

My kid likes the right things. He likes characters that deserve the best or the worst they get. He likes movie people that talk the clever way they do in Tarantino movies ("I'm gonna get medieval on yo' ass!") and he likes it when the story is going somewhere unexpected. I think these are good story values.

The same rules that define "Psycho" as first rate story telling define erotica as well. Erotica generally falls into two camps, "He Fucked Her Ass Good" erotica versus making love erotica. The first kind is easy to sell, but forgettable. At some point as a writer you have to ask yourself what you want. To sell a lot and be forgotten, or go for what's difficult knowing that most of the time you are doomed to fail to touch the stars and will probably still be forgotten anyway. In the real world sex is easy, but love is hard. The mark of a good love story is that it gives love a bad name. It’s easy to write sex. It's difficult to write about the human heart and the ridiculous ways we twist ourselves up looking for love however we define it.

C. Sanchez-Garcia

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

We don't talk about what Mommy writes ...

(I'm on vacation, so this post was pre-written and scheduled in blogger to post. I will respond to your comments on the 8th of Jan, when I get back in town.)

And this little piggy went "weeee, oh yeah baby, do me harder ... um ... I mean wee, wee, wee all the way home".

Yeah. So, my daughter knows that I write. She has no clue however just what I write. She often asks to read my stories, generally after she has me read hers. I just hope that when she is old enough to read my stories, she can look me in the eyes afterwards.


I love writing erotica and erotic romance. I really truly do, and I can't imagine writing anything else. But it is hell on conversations. My daughter is so proud that I am published that she wants to tell everyone, but she can't, and she knows she can't, just not why. (Hubby has the same problem, but he knows why)

It's hard for me too, especially since I want to tell people that I write, but it's a hard subject to approach. I know some would worry about the influence I am having on my child. Some would feel that I am not a good parent.

What's worse, I am going to be a teacher. So instead of just my child, I could be influencing the minds of hundreds of children to my filthy ways! Yeah ... what I write is practically a state's secret, with an inner sanctum in the know and everyone else shut out.

It's hard to to get that quiet time to write. My family has been very supportive of my writing, but at the same time, it's isn't something I really feel comfortable doing while my daughter is hanging over my should, which she likes to do when I am at the computer. Generally because she wants to borrow my comuter to play her games online, or because she hangs over my hubby's shoulder to watch him play his games and trys to do the same with me during my computer time.

She is also interested in writing, so I walk a very fine line between encouraging her and having to shut her out of my own world, because of what I write.

It's also hard to talk to my crit partner on the phone when my daughter is at home. Working out some scenes is just not conductive to having pre-teen ears in the room.

So I find that I tailor my day, and my writing, around my daughter's day. I tend to write in the evenings when she is settling in for the night, when she is outside playing, or between my college classes while she is in school. I go into my bedroom with a notepad and pen and call my crit partner. And, yes, I have even flat out told her I have a story idea and I need her to go away for a while. She generally cooperates. As I said, my family has been very supportive.

I write more in the winter because I just feel more comfortable. I can't stand doing much of anything creative when I get too hot, so most of summer is a lost cause even with air conditioning. Winter however, is when she is stuck inside more often. So there has to be a balance achieved of "me" writing time, and "her" family time.

I admit, it would certainly be easier if I didn't have my daughter, then I could write whenever I wanted, without worry. I could crow about my publications, and not worry about how it will affect her if it gets out. Despite that, I wouldn't wish my life any other way. She's part of the reason I get my ass out of bed in the morning. She's part of why I am struggling to get through college, instead of just settling for an easy job with flexible hours that will let me have more time to write.

All in all, I wouldn't give up either my munchkin, or my writing, but damn, I wish it was easier to blend both parts of my life. Certainly, I wish society would take a frickin chill about erotic romance and erotica, and understand the difference between writing it as a passtime and sharing it with all the neighborhood kids. I hate having to keep what I do in the shadows, because I love writing, and I am proud of my accomlishments. But at the same time, I don't want to have my daughter have a hard time finding kids to play with, and I don't want to catch crap when I am teaching.

And if it came down to it, could I give up writing? I really don't know. I might hold off on publishing anything for a while, let her turn 18 and then say to hell with the close-minded of the world. But would I ever give it up completely? I really don't think that I could.

Probably not quite what was targeted for this week, but hey, I wrote this up on Christmas Eve. LOL


Monday, December 28, 2009

Interview With a Vampire-Loving Six Year Old

By Devon Rhodes (with help from Sarah and Elizabeth)

ME:  Do you want to come upstairs so I can interview you?

S: What's an interview?

Me:  That's where I ask you questions, and you answer them, and I type the answers into the computer.

S: Sure! Besides, I have this (movie) on tape! So you're writing a story about me?

Me: Not exactly.  It's for work.

S: (dejectedly) Okay. (Then whimpers, pretending she can't reach the ground until I hand her some ladybug markers)

Me: Okay, so how long has Mama been writing?

S: A year? (pretty close, good girl!)

Me: What do you think Mama writes?

S: Love stories? And Mommy, if I don't remember, can I say "pass" to the next question?

Me: Of course! What do you think about Mommy writing?

S: Pass!

Me: Has Mommy ever written anything for you?

S: (disgustedly) No! You promised me you were going to write a vampire story for Halloween for me but you never did. I want my vampire story! (dramatic sigh) I guess I'll wait until next Halloween.

E: (panting and whimpering, then sitting up and begging)

Me: Do you want a Scooby snack?

E: (smiling and panting)

I hand-feed her a piece of my bagel then pat her on the head and say "Good doggy."  (Don't ask.)

S: Can I have some of your bagel too? (taking the entire remaining half)

Me: (sigh) Go ahead. What kind of stories do you like?

S: Pass.

Me: Okay, what's your favorite book so far that you've read?

S: Harry Potter 2.

Me: Is that the Chamber Of Secrets?

S: Yep. Do you want to ask my favorite ice cream?

Me: Uh, sure.

S: Cookie Dough! Can we make omelets now?

Me: No, Mommy's working, maybe in a few minutes.

S: (wrinkles nose at me) I'm hungry!

Me: Go cut yourself some orange cheese, or peel one of those little oranges. Are you done being interviewed?

S: Can I tell them about my boyfriend?

Me: You're only six; He's not really your boyfriend.

S: (stamps her foot) Yes, he is! Duh! He's been my boyfriend for three years now. And I'll be seven in a couple weeks! (Rolls her eyes like a pro and stomps off.)

E: (reappears in her pumpkin costume) Ta-da!

Me: Are you a pumpkin?

E: No! I a Merry Christmas, Sarah!

Me: I'm not Sarah, I'm Mommy!

E: (switches topics since I have her beat) I hungry!

Me: Here's a cracker.

E: NO! I want orange cheese! (must've seen her sister get some cheddar)

Me: (calling out) Sarah! Cut your sister some orange cheese. (To E) Your sissy will cut you some.

Overheard after Elizabeth returns downstairs:

S: How about a bagel?

E: No, orange cheese!

S: Here's a baaaagel!

E: NO!  Orange cheese, silly!



This goes on most of the day, and can get even more convoluted and distracting when my hub's around to chime in.  Which is why I do most of my writing in the late evening and nighttime when all three are in bed. I find my insomnia a blessing now, and last night (not untypically) I was up writing until after 3am.

There are a few home truths which even the three year old has learned in the past year or so:

1. Mommy is not a problem solver until she has coffee.
2. (Directed at hub) Do not steal Mommy's laptop unless you want to be subjected to heavy sighs and dramatic eye rolls accompanied by slamming objects around until she gets it back. (I'm passive-aggressive that way) And I'm buying my own damn laptop on January 2nd.
3. When the laptop is open, Mommy has left the building.

I like to think I'm a good mom, and I also have to say that since I don't work outside the home, I'm constantly around for the kids.  Even when I get involved in what I'm doing, I CAN be interrupted for important reasons (like someone's hungry, hurt, or wandering around when they should be in bed). And they had my undivided attention up until last spring, so that (partially) alleviates the guilt I feel when they have to ask me something ten times before a question registers, or I come downstairs to find all the red peppers in the fridge with big bites taken out of them (the three year old is a forager).

I unwrap the string cheese that my three year old brings me without delay.

I still manage to get most of the laundry and dinner done on time.

I've only gotten Sarah to dance class late once because I was wrapped up in a story.

I can carry off the automatic observation of "That's nice!" in response to whatever is shown me (except for a boom, ie a boo-boo, although occasionally I trot it out by mistake, prompting an affronted display worthy of a Broadway show). And I catch the muttered words "in the black hole", which is how my hub refers to me being on the laptop, often enough that I think my passive-aggressiveness is wearing off on him.

My new career is not without family conflicts, and here's where I'll gloss over the details. But I like to think that I'm giving my kids my whole, "real" self now that I'm doing what I love, and hopefully someday they will understand why.

Why I do what I do.

Why I sometimes put something intangible "first".

And why, when you boil it down, every single thing I do is still for them.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Write On, Baby

By Lisabet Sarai

I like to think that I can write on any topic. This week's subject, however, has me stymied. I'm completely unqualified to offer my opinions on "Writing and Parenting".

I'm in my fifties and have been married for more than twenty five years, but, by choice, I have no children. It's not that I don't like kids--I do. I get along really well with children, mostly because I have vivid memories of what childhood was like. I can still summon the excitement of a snow day, school being canceled, an unanticipated gift. I remember the games I used to play in the woods with my brother and the stories that I made up for my dolls. As I recall, though, my favorite dolls were teenagers or adults, not babies. My fantasies involved living in a "studio apartment" (whatever that was--it sounded exciting!) and having a job as a famous scientist, not feeding bottles and changing diapers.

Anyway, I don't regret being childless, although I sometimes think that it's a waste of excellent genetic material. My husband never wanted kids, and I had very little inclination in that direction either. We were rarely in a stable financial situation--we had boom years and bust years-- and I knew that to bring up a child, you need money that you can count on, for eighteen years at least. Both of us worked full time, and there was no way that we could afford day care or a nanny.

Still, lots of parents face financial obstacles but that doesn't dampen their desire for children. Sometimes I think I'm just lacking a maternal gene. Actually, neither of my siblings have children, either. Perhaps being childless runs in my family.

When I reflect on the question, I suspect that I would not have been a good mother. Overprotected myself, I've no doubt I would have treated my children the same way. Children have always seemed such fragile creatures. I worry so much about my husband and our cats (both of whom are more competent than the average two year old) -- I'm sure I would have driven my kids, and myself, crazy.

I know that I'm a rarity, in the romance world, at least. Practically every author I can think of is married with kids. All the other members of the Grip have at least one child, ranging from toddlers to teenagers. I don't know how they do it. I'm hugely impressed. No, awed.

Your kids have to come first. So how can you pursue a writing career with one or more little creatures demanding your attention? If your kids are older, how do you explain that you write stories that some people consider immoral or evil?

I suspect that I'll get the answers to these questions over the course of the week. As for me, I have the luxury of writing without sticky hands grabbing my skirt or rap music blaring from a teen's room over my head.

The only thing I have to worry about is cat fur on the keyboard.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Three sides to every story

by P S Haven

First off, Happy Holidays to everyone! And thank you to Ashley for so kindly giving me the honor and opportunity to guest blog on Oh Get a Grip. Thanks, Ashley!

There’s an old saying, there are three sides to every story: yours, mine and the truth. And as a writer I sometimes view my target audience in a similar three-way fashion: me, you, and everyone else.

In a recent interview I did with Ashley over at, I confessed that a lot of the stories I’ve written over the years were intended to serve as a sort of propaganda. I told Ashley, “I started writing as a way to put into words the dirty things I wanted to do with my partner. Things I maybe didn’t have the balls to say out loud. I could present them as the desires of fictional characters, and then gauge the reaction from my significant other. If I wanted to try anal sex, for example, then I’d write a story where the characters try it and it was the greatest experience of their lives.” I’ve been thinking a lot about that idea since the interview and I’ve come to realize that when I write, it’s almost always for one of three distinct audiences: me, you, and everyone else.

I first started writing dirty stories when I was around 14-years old, give or take. My clichéd origin story is that I found a tattered paperback among my aunt’s old books in the attic at my grandmother’s house. I wish I could remember the title, but it’s gone from my memory. But I remember the story. (I would later channel this first experience with erotica into my story “Rock of Ages”.) It was about a young woman who inherited her recently-deceased aunt’s condo in Miami. Our heroine promptly relocates to the Sunshine State, where she discovers a stash of videotapes in the condo, all featuring her aunt and a varying cast of supporting players engaged in acts so lewd and obscene they could barely believed by the protagonist, as well as this young reader. On those brittle, yellowed, dog-earred pages, my sex education began in earnest. I read about things I had never even heard the older kids talking about in the back of the school bus. See, when I was in middle school (7th and 8th grades), we had to ride the bus with a bunch of high school kids whose campus was right across the street from ours. So by the time I was in my early teens I had heard stories about “sucking dick” and “eating pussy” and “ass-fucking”, all inflated with adolescent redneck bravado and overcompensation. But in my aunt’s trashy novel, there was so much more. I read about threesomes and bondage and swallowing and double-penetrations. If the 10th graders on the bus had been my unwitting Ben Kenobi, ushering my first steps into a larger world, then that paperback was my smutty Yoda, showing me the true ways of the Force. I read and reread that book until it literally fell apart, circling my favorite parts with a ballpoint pen, masturbating furiously as our heroine, inspired by her late aunt, began to create a video library of her own.

It didn’t take long before I began to re-imagine the scenes in my head, tailoring the story to better suit my masturbatory needs. If I wanted the jock to get blown a little longer before coming, then I would read the description of the blowjob twice, or three times, before allowing myself to move on. Eventually I began to rewrite the scenes for myself, copying the story by hand onto sheets of notebook paper and then adding an extra simile here, a dirtier adjective there. Instead of the money shot being succinctly handled with one sentence, in my version the guys would come for entire paragraphs, pumping out quarts of semen with Atlas-like endurance, nearly drowning our poor heroine. (Some would say that is a trait that persists in my writing to this day…)

Evolving from my early plagiarisms, I eventually began to craft scenes from whole cloth, using ideas lifted from the book, or from the stories I’d heard on the school bus, or from the porno movies I would sneak and watch on American XXXtacy on the satellite. Whatever turned me on the most, whatever got me off the quickest, was what I would write about. We’ve all heard the expression “one-handed reading”, well this was one-handed writing. More often than not I couldn’t make it through a scene in one go. And since I was writing strictly for my own entertainment, I was allowed to let my teenaged male mind run rampant. The overwhelming majority of those stories featured harems of beautiful, servile women who were starved for semen, liked it rough and loved anal sex at the drop of a hat (sometimes literally). They were there only for the pleasure of the narrator/main character/author. I’m sure if I could read those stories now I would be appalled, not only at the total lack of skill but at the mortifying immaturity, sexual and otherwise. But the point remains, I was writing for an audience of one. Myself. There was no other concern at the time. If it got me off, then it was a good story. The idea of writing for someone else never entered my mind. And the idea of writing for lots of people was inconceivable.

It wasn’t until a few years later, when I got a real live girlfriend, that the concept of someone else reading my stories came to mind. I had never stopped writing the occasional story for my own enjoyment, so it was only a matter of time before I got the idea to write a story for my girlfriend. And before I ever set pen to paper (this was way back before Word…) I was keenly aware of the vastly different approach I would need to take for this new audience. Quick stories about cum-guzzling whores probably wouldn’t go over to well, I figured. Not initially anyhow. There needed to be an emotional element now. Not romance, necessarily. But something other than simple fucking. The characters needed to have a reason to fuck, at the very least. No longer would being in the same place at the same time with anatomically opposing equipment suffice.

So now, for the first time, I was writing for someone other than me. And my first few attempts at it dealt strictly with one woman and one man, who were in love, and who had very steamy, very explicit, but very normal sex. Sometimes they did it in the backseat of the guy’s car, sometimes they’d sneak and do it after the girl’s parents had fallen asleep, both recurring themes in my real life at the time. The feedback I got from my girlfriend was positive, both on style and subject matter, which gave me the confidence to write more. Initially, my goal was simply to get in her pants, I won’t lie. I would write a sexy story and she would read it, and the next thing you know we were scouting darkened dead-ends and cul-de-sacs in which to reenact what I’d written for her. And it became quickly apparent that I was able to not only arouse my girlfriend with my stories, but that I also could influence the type of sex we had. For example, if I gave her a story in which the characters had a sixty-nine, there was a pretty good chance we were going to have a sixty-nine later that night. It usually went something like this:

“I really liked that story.”

“Yeah? What was your favorite part?”

Then there would be the requisite demureness before finally, “I liked it when they did that one thing.”

“Which thing? Say it.”

“The sixty-nine.” And the rest would be history. It didn’t take me long to realize I held some sway over my girlfriend’s dirty thoughts. Likewise, I quickly picked up on the fact that she seemed particularly fascinated by the idea of sex in public places. So, of course, my characters were soon getting it on in glass elevators and hotel swimming pools, all of which aroused my girlfriend even further. Instantly she began to fantasize about doing the things my adventuresome characters did. While we never found just the right elevator, we were certainly emboldened to try other daylight, out-in-the-open spots. Just beyond the breakers in the ocean; parking decks, the parking lot of school, in the bed of a friend’s truck. And the power of my stores to inspire and influence others hit me like a ton of bricks. If my stories could incite my girlfriend to fuck me in the back of pick-up truck while my buddy drove us down the highway, what else could they do?

Soon I was back to writing stories like the ones I’d read in that trashy paperback. Stories of threesomes, stories of bondage and spanking, stories of perfect strangers succumbing to base instincts, powerless to resist their urges. Now granted, the vast majority of these stories would never get acted out in our real life, and I knew they wouldn’t. What they did do, though, was to open up our minds to the world of fantasy. Those stories provided us with a venue to voice our deepest secrets with the safety net of “make believe”. I was free to tell her, through fiction, how badly I wanted to have anal sex with her. With my fictional voice, I could show her just how naughty and kinky and amazing it would be. She could tell me how much she loved the story where the girl sucked off two guys at the same time. I could explain to her the importance and symbolism of swallowing without having it sound like a lecture. My characters did it for me. And did it much more eloquently than I ever could. They provided examples and how-to’s and what-if’s. And more often than not, it worked.

Our favorite fantasy was a MMF threesome, and in more than one story, I explored how a couple would go about making such a thing come true. Would it be by chance? Would it be planned out in advance? Would it be with a spur-of-the-moment stranger or with a close friend and confidant? And most importantly, what would the emotional toll of such a thing be? My characters acted it all out for me. Sometimes it strengthened their relationship. Sometimes it was the most exhilarating sexual experience they’d ever had and they couldn’t wait to do it again. But other times, it tore them apart in fits of jealousy and doubt and paranoia. And in this way, my stories became trial runs for our fantasies. Would this be something we would really want to try for real one day? Could we handle it? Would it be worth the risk? Let’s see how it plays out on the page first.

Eventually, through the reinforcement and encouragement of my two audiences (me and her), I became conscious of the idea that maybe, possibly, I could put these stories out there for other people to read. Now I had no idea whatsoever how to do that. No clue. But I knew that there were people who wrote stories I liked, and there were publishers that compiled them. I even knew there were mainstream bookstores that sold those compilations. On many occasions I had stood, eyes nervously darting all around, flipping through the latest anthology from Susie Bright or Alison Tyler, scanning for the types of stories that got me off, wondering what it would take to one day be in those pages myself. And as it had before when I expanded my target audience from one to two, I slowly became aware of the requirements of writing to someone you didn’t know intimately.

I didn’t want to compromise or sell out. I knew that much. But I also knew that if I wanted a shot at getting published I would need to hone what meager skills I had. The stories in those books were written by real authors. I could tell. They weren’t simple porn, like so much of my work was. If my stories were typically the written equivalent of the pizza delivery guy showing up with a large sausage special, these tales were more like prose versions of Michael Ninn films. Still hot as hell, still utterly explicit and erotic, but of decidedly high literary quality. These people could write. Not just write sex, but write anything. I however, could not. And I would need to learn how. And I would probably also need to not scribble my stories down in ball-point pen in cheap journals.

So I practiced. I practiced writing about things other than Tab A and Slot B. I tried to get in my character’s heads to discover how they felt about things other than the sex they were having or wanted to have. I tried to tap into the things that excited me beyond anatomy. (I’m still trying. With varying levels of success.) I quickly, and sometimes painfully, became cognizant of things like word count, something I had never needed to concern myself with. I became keenly aware of what certain editors liked, or more often, what they did not. I found out there were rules. Some could be broken, some could not. Not if you wanted to get published anyhow. And while I hope I stayed true to my inner voice, I realized that if I wanted to ever see my name in one of those books, I needed to play the game to a certain extent. This new third audience was much harder to please than my previous audience of me and her. Much more focused in what they wanted. Much less forgiving. But yet, in way I didn’t expect, even more rewarding.

Still, through it all, my favorite audience to write for is that first one I discovered. Me. Because if I’m not pleasing that crucial audience first and foremost, I don’t stand a chance of pleasing anyone else. If there’s one thing I’ve learned (the hard way), it’s that your heart (or other body part) has to be in it. Mark Twain said, “Write what you know.” Which I agree with 100%. But I think an equally suitable variation for us smut-peddlers would be, “Write what makes you hard and/or wet.” If you’re doing that, then you’re on the track to finding the truth, whether it be yours, mine or someone else’s entirely.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Just Checking...

Who do I write for? ME. But this being Christmas, I suppose I could be nice enough to share. Don't say I never gave you anything...

Just Checking

by Helen E. H. Madden

(originally aired on the Heat Flash Erotica Podcast, December 2007)

"Elf patrol! Open up!"

George stumbled into the living room, fumbling with his robe. Elf patrol? What the hell kind of joke was that to play on Christmas Eve? He flung open his front door, ready to chew out the pranksters, but stopped cold when he saw who was standing there.

"Are you George Greer?"

"Uuuuuuuuh..." George gawked. A midget, an Amazon, and a reindeer stood on his porch.

"I'll take that as a yes," the midget chirped. "Mr. Greer, I'm Fred Finklestein of the Holiday Elf List Patrol. That's H-E-L-P. This is Reggie, the Brown-nosed Reindeer, and uh, my partner, Mable."

"Sable Mable," the Amazon said, with a toss of her glossy black hair. She sauntered into the house, brushing up against George as she passed. She and Fred wore matching red and green outfits, but hers was leather and very low cut.

"Mr. Greer," Fred prattled on. "We're just here to double check the list--"

"List?" George croaked as Mable hitched up her skirt and draped herself across the couch.

"You know," she purred. "The one that decides who gets presents and who gets a lump of coal?"

"Oh! The list!"

"Exactly," Fred chimed in. "Before we can authorize any gift deliveries to this house, we need to ask you just one question. Answer correctly and you'll get your heart's desire. Answer wrong, and well, there will be consequences."

George blinked. "Um, okay. Shoot."

"Mr. Greer, are you now, or have you been, at any point during the past calendar year, to include federal holidays and weekends, with allowances made for standard and daylight savings time, annoying, bawdy, contrary, disobedient, disorderly, evil, exasperating, fiendish, fractious, froward, headstrong, ill-behaved, impish, indecorous, insubordinate, intractable, lewd, mischievous, obscene, off-color, perverse, playful, rascally, raunchy, recalcitrant, refractory, ribald, risque, roguish, rough, rowdy, sinful, teasing, ungovernable, unmanageable, unruly, wanton, wayward, wicked, willful, worthless, or just plain bad?"


"In English, Floyd," Mable drawled.

"That's Fred!"

"Whatever. Mr. Greer, what Shortie here wants to know is, have you been naughty, or nice?"

Mable got up from the couch and stalked toward George, hips swaying with every step. She pressed up against him, backing him into the artificial tree until the angel on top threatened to fall.

"It's an important question," Mable said, chest heaving with every word. "So think carefully. Have you been a good boy, someone who goes to bed early, never drinks, never fights, never swears - you just stay home every Friday night, safe and snug in bed? Or is there something you've done this past year that you shouldn't have? Something you're ashamed of? Something you wouldn't want Mommy to find out about?"

"Mommy?" George squeaked.

"Mm-hmm," Mabel replied. She leaned closer to whisper in his ear. "Tell me, Georgie, which is it? Naughty or nice?"

George closed his eyes and whimpered. Mabel towered over him, a dark, sultry presence that threatened to eat him alive. Her breath blew hot against his cheek as she waited, like a predator, for his answer.

"Well?" she prompted.

"Um, naughty?"

Mabel stepped back and smiled. "Shortie, you and the reindeer take a hike. Georgie boy is all mine."

As the door slammed shut behind them, Fred threw down his clipboard.

"God dammit! That's the twelfth guy in a row. I don't get it, Reggie. He's got no priors, not even a parking ticket. So why does he fuck it up at the last second by lying about being naughty, huh? Can you explain this to me?"

Reggie peeked through the front window in time to see Mable yank down George's pajama bottoms and draw him over her knee. The man yelped as her gloved hand came down hard across his bare buttocks.

"Well duh!" Reggie said.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Call me Ishmael

Call me Ishmael. Scratch that. Call me Stupid. It’s a better fitting name and it’s one I’m more used to hearing.

As you may or may not know, my name is Ashley. I picked this week’s theme which is an amalgamation of the seasonal ‘Christmas presents’ and the writerly question ‘who do we write for?’ It seemed like a good idea back in October. When I read PS Haven’s take on the theme (which will be up here this weekend) I thought it was a sensational idea. But now, moments away from posting this blog, I’m beginning to think I’ve had better ideas.

Hence the reason why you can call me stupid.

So far this week my fellow authors have delivered Christmas presents in the form of enchanting and exciting stories. Lisabet, Devon, Michelle and Garce are all wonderful storytellers and they’ve proved themselves this week with typical aplomb. I’m looking forward to Helen’s take on this topic tomorrow because she always produces wonderful copy. However, if you’re expecting a short story from me this week, I’m going to disappoint you.

That said, if you’ve read my blogs before, you’ll be used to being disappointed.

The reason why I thought this was a good idea for a theme (aside from the Christmassy connection) was because, when seriously appraising any piece of fiction, I always look at the structure, form, content and audience.

The first two of those items are the bare bones of writerly practice. Content is self-explanatory. But audience is always something of a puzzle.

There have been some good answers to the question so far this week. Who do we write for? Do we have an ideal reader? Is our writing the product of a social construct, crafted to suit an audience of peers? Or do we simply write to fulfil the need of an arbitrary call for submissions?

I’d love to be able to say I write just to please myself but that’s only ever half of the story. I get pleasure from writing, certainly. But do I only write for that pleasure? I’m not so sure. Do I have an ideal reader in mind when I start tapping out staccato rhythms on my ergonomic keyboard? Not really.

I was out Christmas shopping last week. I saw a lady of surprisingly senior years dressed like a teenager. Immediately, I nudged my son and pointed the woman out. In a whisper, I said to him, ‘Nana Montana.’

Junior went red with a fit of barely suppressed giggles.

I smiled, smugly pleased with myself for making my son laugh.

Admittedly it was cruel humour. Freud suggested that all humour is either innocent or tendentious and this was viciously tendentious. It was sexist, ageist, judgemental and not particularly pleasant. However, it made my son laugh, it made me smile, and, in our defence, I should say that neither of us was callous enough to share our twisted mirth with the woman who was the brunt of our joke.

And that’s why I write. I don’t write for a particular audience. I write solely to entertain. Whether that entertainment falls under the category of humour, erotica, horror, poetry or something else, whenever my fingers start smacking against the keys I’m ultimately writing with the purpose of satisfying a reader’s need. Entertaining them for the duration of the words on the page.

So, if you’ve smiled once whilst reading this: it was written expressly for you. If any of the above words have made you muse thoughtfully: they were written just for you. And, if you’re here at the bottom of the page thinking ‘What the hell was Stupid writing about this week?’ then I have to apologise and say this was written for someone else.

Merry Christmas everyone. And, whether you enjoyed this or not, thank you for reading.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Watch The Birdie

(I'm a little embarrassed, I checked the calender a while back and I thought the topic said "Merry Christmas" but it seems to have changed to "who do you write for". Oops. I dunno, Friends of the Inner Sanctum, this thing here is all I've got. Make the best of it. Sorry.)

I love to watch him dance. I love to see him happy. There he goes again.

That must be some kind of universal dance going back thousands of years, a dance that doesn’t have any steps or any name, just something you do without having to think. I've seen that dance in different forms in different countries and cultures, where you do this thing with your feet, and this other Zorba The Greek sort of thing with your hands waving in the air and snapping your fingers while you spin around. The goofy little paper hat, shaped like an ice cream cone keeps trying to slip off, and he's always reaching over to adjust it. He looks happy. I'm so glad to see him happy. That's all I need. Soon they'll be bringing out the roast venison - provided by me. I came across it recently while attending to other business. I'll bet he's never had roast deer meat before. They didn’t have deer in his country.

I glance at my watch. Soon. Very soon. I will go outside and visit my prisoner very soon, when its time.

An exploding star, a pulse of gravity through space-time bumping up against a gigantic ice ball in a cloud of ice balls as old as the universe, suspended like Christmas ornaments between stars. A nudge. A slow fall tugged by the faint wave of gravity's rainbow. A rubbery dip in space-time and it rolls downhill in a long, long cosmic fall.

The planets are gathered like wayward children around the young star, reincarnated from a star which exploded a billion years before. They have been around for awhile now, and the third one, the blue one has produced clear skies for the first time. The ice giant passes close, close enough to kill and shatter like a wayward highwayman. It swings indifferently past the sun, around and back into the depths. As it passes, it bullies a large iron stone, shouldering it out of its way. The stone begins its first of many endless whipping plunges towards the sun. The ice giant moves on.

He gave us presents, all of us. Sat down and talked to us, the best present. It caught me by surprise, so I didn’t have any questions or requests of him. The funny thing is, when you’re in the room with him you don’t think of anything like that. The old angers and the big questions seem to go away. You just like him. You just feel glad he's there. He's scary at first. His eyes can be scary. He has those fierce desert eyes, the eyes of the ascetic. He won’t tell you, but the wrinkles at the corners of his eyes, the way he looks away sometimes when the music stops tell you. He knows the taste of doubt, rage, hope, despair. He is not God, no. But he's the next best thing - he's one of us. This is a fearsome man. This is a man who has wrestled with God, lost and won. He has wrestled with himself. It’s written in his face in the desolate runes of solitude. It must be hard for the TV evangelists when they meet him after death. They don't recognize him. They feel an impulse to test him. They think they can impress him. But those eyes, the eyes of the bluesman. Those eyes can shut you down with a glance.

The iron rock swings past the blue planet, where at that moment a fish is crawling onto sterile sand for the first time, posed on thick legs with fins, gills flexing painfully in the dry air. Unblinking it waits for the big fish that was chasing it to turn away toward the open sea, afraid of the air. Defeated. In the night sky over head the iron rock moves and moves. It will return every dozens of millions of years after the children of this fish have moved onto the dry land.

He likes Rolling Stones music, who would have guessed? And he likes Little Richard. The man has taste. I'll give that a ten Mr. Clark, it has a beat and you can dance to it. A beautiful girl dressed in white with close cropped hair has his hands and they're doing an awkward waltz or something. He acts like he doesn't know how. He steps on her toes and makes her laugh. He's letting her think she's teaching him. Now he brings her close and they slow dance together, one of his many brides, now at the birthday party of her bridegroom at last. Will they leave together? Will there be a wedding night also? I wish I could stay to see if he takes her home and then what, but it’s none of my damned business anyway. My prisoner is waiting. Maybe I will bring him a piece of cake and some ice cream. Maybe not.

As if sensing my thoughts, he looks up at me from over her swaying shoulder and his eyes speak. He knows very well from the past when someone is about to run out on a dinner party to do something nasty.

My eyes answer back - No. Hell no. Sorry, but not this time.

But I'll bring him some cake. I'll do that much.

In the corner my dad is sitting with a big burly man with a beard. The big man is good company anywhere, a good natured traveling companion. Dad is showing him how to cast with the beautiful split bamboo fly rod he brought for the birthday boy. The big man likes it and gives the tip a delicate flick. With his expressive hands he describes to dad how to net fish off a boat in the Galilee and Dad laughs at his fish stories, two old fishermen bullshitting each other. I can see these guys together pulling in the big ones out in a row boat at dawn on Eagle Lake in Minnesota. He'd love that, I'll bet. I don’t know if this big guy would be a good fly fisherman though, I don't know if he'd have the patience. But I can see them standing together in a mountain stream, the way dad used to when I was a little kid.

I glance at my watch. Time to go. Yes, I'll bring him some cake at least. I cut a piece and put it in a paper plate. I go over to wish the dancing man a happy birthday. He steps away a little from the woman and puts his hand on my shoulder. "Don’t be angry," he says. "Do you hear? It’s better to forgive. Let it go."

I touch his hand gratefully and I feel a wave of shame, because he's right of course, but he knows I won't. "I'll get there," I say. "Give me time." I look at his girl, The Bride of Christ, one of thousands. There have been so many over the ages. The man who died without a wife has more brides than Solomon.

"Damn you’re lucky, girl." I say to her as she smiles and looks down. "You’re so damn lucky to have this guy, you’re so damn lucky I want you to pick me some lottery numbers next time I see you."

The man gives me a little punch on the shoulder. "Come back later." he says. "I've got something for you."

The iron rock, fifty feet wide after having struck other rocks in its time is reaching its journey's end. Ahead of it, the blue planet is twirling to meet it like a lover. They dance. Everybody dances.

I cut a piece of cake and go out to meet my prisoner. I don't take any ice cream because it would be slush before I get there. It’s a good five miles where I’ve got him staked out. It must be pretty hot wearing that fur lined red overcoat in the desert sun.

When I get there, he twists his head to look up and that stupid little red hat with the stupid fur ball falls off into the dirt. Should have brought him a coke with some ice. I guess. I'll bet he doesn’t even drink that stuff anyway, just hustles it. Each arm, each leg is stretched tight and hand cuffed to stakes. The stakes are pounded into a huge bull’s eye target I painted in the sand before I brought him here. My little joke. I had this stuff all figured out ahead of time. I did the math. I'm a serious person. When I make a plan, believe, I make a plan.

"I'd have brought you a bigger plate with some real food maybe, but I don’t think you'll be around that long. Thought you'd want some cake."

"You sir - you are being very, very naughty!"

"Oh hell, no." I sit on the sand next to him. "Give me a couple minutes more. You don't even know what naughty looks like just yet."

"You Grinch! You fiend!" His wire granny glasses have slipped askew on his nose. I straighten them for him. "What have you done with my Rudolf?"

"Rudolf's doing fine. He's at a birthday party right now. He’ll be out any minute along with some nice red wine. Jesus likes red wine, he thinks white wine is for pansies. I don’t know. I'm a beer guy, myself. Everybody likes what they grow up with I guess. What do you think? Red wine? I think you’re supposed to have red wine with meat and white with chicken, isn’t that how it works?"

The old man's eyes water up. For about almost one second I feel sorry for him. Jesus is right. I know that. I just can’t.

"You can give me another speech about the real meaning of Christmas if it makes you feel better. You want to offer me an old fashioned bottle of Coca Cola or some other nostalgic horseshit rip off stuff you shill for every damn year at this time? Either way little buddy, your ass ain't talking your way out of this. Uh-unh."

"Let me up. What would you like for Christmas? Tell me."

"What've you got?" I fork off a piece of cake and shove it in his mouth. Now he's got icing on his beard. I forgot to bring a napkin. I forget little things like that. Consideration. Consideration. I lack consideration. Drives people crazy.

"Just tell me what you want."

"Oh let’s see. A cure for prostate cancer? I know somebody who needs that. World peace? Universal health care? An ugly sweater? Seventy two dark eyed virgins maybe? Some good lovin' and a six pack? What've you got that I want?"

"Would you like a BMW?"

"A beemer? A beemer? You’re just pissing me off now."

"You’re being very, very naughty!"

"Oh now I'm so afraid I'll get a lump of coal in my stocking? Let me tell you gramps, the biggest fucking lump of coal in the whole world is headed for your ass right now. Look up."

He looks up. We both do. In the clear blue sky a bright spot, brighter than the sun has appeared. The air vibrates as the pressure wave begins to reach us. My ears pop and a rumble makes the pebbles dance. I point up at the spot of intense light which is getting brighter as it races towards us at cosmic speed. The air in the high atmosphere is beginning to plasmate.

"Merry Christmas old buddy. Now - watch the birdie."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's mine! All mine!!!

I'd like to say that when I start a story, I have my hundreds, if not thousands, of fans forefront in my mind. I skim their daily emails and letters to me, looking for small tidbits of what they are desiring of seeing next. I slave over each word, hoping I get it perfect, pleasing the largest amount of people as I can.

As I said, I'd like to say that.

In all honesty though, I write for myself. Yep, that's right. I am a very selfish writer, thinking only of myself and the characters that constantly plague me, demanding that I tell their side of things. LOL
Writing for me, provides a stress relief and a focus that at times I am sadly lacking. It allows me to push away my worries about this or that, and lose myself in a word where I control all.

There have been times that I have crafted stories as gifts, sometimes forcing the direction more than others, but the vast majority of my writings I tend to go freeform with, often without more than a character name or sometimes a title, and see what results.

I have some stories that will never see the light of day, because I really don't feel there is a good enough audience for them to attempt to do anything with them. See it's after I have poured everything that I have into my works that I sit back and ask, 'who the heck would want to read this?'

For my Christmas gift for you today though, I would like to share a flash fiction piece (100 words or less) that I wrote a while back.

Nicely Naughty

by Michelle Houston

Whistling a Christmas tune softly, she reached above her head and attached the mistletoe to the doorframe.

Firm hands clasped her waist, pulling her back against soft velvet. Soft lips began to nibble her neck.

“Why Santa,” she drawled, her eyes dancing with merriment, “is that my present I feel?”

“Have you been a good girl this year?”

“Mmmm, I have been naughty and nice.”

“In that case my naughty sweet, I have the perfect gift.” Flipping her red velvet skirt up, he caressed her bared skin. “Now be a good girl and come sit on Santa’s lap.”
As for why I chose the cartoon I did to start things off, I wish to make clear that Bah Humbug IS in fact a Christmas spirit. It's just not THE Christmas spirit most people are looking for. LOL I'm not a grinch thought (I just work retail while putting myself through college - nuff said). But this year, I am with Santa ... get me to a beach!
Whatever your faith, whenever your holy day(s) is/are, may they be blessed. And if you follow no system of faith/beliefs, then may your purse be heavy and your heart be light all the days of your life.
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I would like to ask for a holiday gift from all of you. : ) As my munchkin gets older, hubby and I are looking to change some of the traditions we do for the holidays, focusing less on material stuff and more on family. So I am interested in what others do for the holidays. I invite you to share some of your favorite holiday traditions. I have posted about this topic on my blog, and invite you to share your comments there.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Christmas Wish

By Devon Rhodes

This short story came to me when I saw this photo.  For all my fans out there and my fellow authors who have become friends...Happy Holidays!  This one's for you!

"Oh, this is just great," Garrett muttered under his breath, although there was no one there to hear him.

That was the problem. He was alone.

Alone at Christmas, what a cliche. So sappy.  Even he wouldn't write such tripe.

He gave the whirling, falling snow outside one last glare, then reluctantly gave up his vigil at the front window, conceding defeat. Mother Nature was apparently not on board with Garrett's plan to fill his home-du-jour with Christmas cheer and brotherhood. He flicked off the porch light, and the snow appeared to stop falling.  He wished.

When he first accepted this house-sitting gig over the two-week holiday period, he had gone into full planning mode. A huge Victorian inn up in the mountains over the holidays?  All "his"?  E-mails had flown as he invited all and sundry up for some playtime in the winter wonderland.

Oh, when the weather broke, he might still get a few takers. But it was late on Christmas Eve, and even though Garrett knew it was just another night, the prospect of rattling around all by himself in this monstrosity of a retreat on Christmas Day just took his knees out from under him.

Garrett sighed and began closing down the house for the night, the unfamiliar routine of this new house momentarily distracting him from his melancholy. Steeling himself to keep from going to gaze hopefully out the window again, watching for headlights he knew wouldn't appear, he ascended the staircase, letting his hand trail along the smooth wood banister.

Lying in bed, the random dancing of firelight teasing at his eyelids, Garrett could almost hear the voice of his grandma, reminding him to make his Christmas wish. What I really want, Santa can't bring, Mimi. Burying his head under the pillow, he wished anyway, then promptly cursed himself for a fool.

Normally Garrett slept like the dead, a trait that helped him immensely in his "career" as a professional house-sitter where he seldom slept in the same bed for more than a couple weeks. That night had been no different, so the abrupt awakening confused him at first as he tried to get his bearings.

The light behind the windowshades was hard to read, and he leaned up to take a look at his old-fashioned travel alarm. After eight. Merry Christmas to me.

The house had cooled considerably overnight, and there weren't even any coals left glowing in the fireplace of his bedroom. The baseboard heater creaked and clicked at him, so he knew it had kicked on at some point, but it sure wasn't helping. Quickly dressing, he hit the stairs, lured by the thought of the woodstove in the kitchen, that real heat which seemed to penetrate more than anything man had come up with.

He thought cynically of his Christmas wish the night before and pressed his lips together, taking a deep breath. Just another day, let's just think of it that way.

Two things penetrated at roughly the same instant: the haphazard pile of discarded outerwear and bags in the foyer and the smell

Garrett's pace quickened and he slammed the swinging doors into the kitchen open, almost getting smacked by the rebound as he stopped short at the sight of his three best friends in the world. They looked up as one from their places sipping coffee around the table, wood stove crackling in the corner, and to a man gave him the biggest, smuggest grins he could ever hope to see.

An answering grin spread unchecked across his face even as he shook his head in wonder.

My Christmas wish came true.