Category Archives: Fiction

Susan’s Book Talk: A New Story!

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A long time ago, in what feels like a second lifetime, I wrote a bunch of short stories. Like, a ton. And I saved them on my hard drive.

Last summer, after I had to unpublish Mannequin, the girl rehomed that little short story of mine onto Wattpad. And then she took a stroll through my hard drive and my archives. She handed me a bunch of stories to edit and polish up, chose a few to publish immediately, and then… got involved in her own Wattpad activities. (No, you can’t have her names.)

Yesterday, she decided it was time to take one of the stories and get it up on Wattpad. And so New Management is now alive for your reading pleasure.

It’s a story of the Trevolution, and you long-time fans will recognize the characters. Maybe even the situation, although if you need a prompt, here are the two stories this builds on: Twirling and Game On. Neither are in a Demo Tapes collection yet… they’d be in #5, which if you’d like, you should speak up!

So here it is. New Management.

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Lines of Distinction: Broken by Susan Helene Gottfried

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Broken_One

Peace… now that’s a better shiny than actual shiny things. At least from where I stand. But then, I’m standing in a place that’s all my own.

I love this short story of mine. It’s rough. It’s edgy. It’s not for the faint of heart or family friendly.

But it is rock and roll and it is gritty and it is something I’m proud of and stand behind.

Pick up your copy today:
Smashwords
B&N
Amazon

Also available on:
Kobo
iBooks
Page Foundry
txtr
Overdrive
Oyster
Flipkart
Scribd

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#Rocktober Cover Reveal: Broken by Susan Helene Gottfried

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The good news is that the editing is keeping me busy. The bad news is that means my writing is taking a hit. And given that a lot of my clients come to me because I am an author and I have my fingers in publishing, I suppose I gotta put up.

This one, I’m glad to put up. It’s my new short story, called Broken. Broken_One

 

My very longtime (I started to say old, but I don’t want either of us to be old) Metallica friend, Carol, did the cover. Go visit her. Tell her I sent you.  You deserve a cover by someone like Carol.

It’s a short story, as the cover makes pretty darn clear, and it’ll be for sale for 99c once it’s up and able to be preordered or out-and-out for sale. (Yes, I’m writing this in advance.)

Ready for the description? Too bad. Here it is.

For T and the rest of Ice Cubes in Hell, it’s a routine night backstage after their set, opening for the notorious Vanessa Kontempt. The party’s in full swing when T walks in, but she’s not in the mood. Not tonight. When she finds groupies raiding her stage clothes and one breaks the heel off one of her favorite boots, things spiral downward. As T confronts the band’s tour manager about the destruction, secrets are revealed. Secrets that might tear the band apart … or bring them closer.

I’m crazy proud of this story. Took me a long time to get right, and I had to run it past my editor, too, for help pulling it all together.

Buy links will be arriving as soon as I’ve got ’em. Pick up your copy and help me keep my fingers in the publishing pie.

 

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Friday Fiction: The Graveyard

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“Halloween’s still three months away,” Lauren said. She took a step back and looked at the decorations Grant had put up. “By the time it gets here, that’ll have long rotted.”

“That’s the idea,” he said. “By the time it gets here, this’ll look like a real graveyard. Full of ghosts and overgrown and scary.”

“Like that one we had to clean up for our community service,” Lauren said and shuddered. “That place was haunted.”

“Ghastly,” Grant agreed and flashed her a smile. He’d loved it, that unkempt graveyard. Sure, Lauren had been intrigued by the headstones—well, the ones she could read, anyway. It had been a Civil War graveyard, but whoever had buried the dead had been kind. They’d taken the time to put names on the stones. How, Lauren didn’t know. It couldn’t have been easy. There had been so many of them.

She remembered the atmosphere of that place. Quiet, like all graveyards were. But there was something else. Being there had made her hurt. Ache. And not just because, like most of her friends, she didn’t believe in war. War was stupid and pointless.

Being in that cemetery had driven that point home. And the fact that war is cruel, too. Lauren had come out of there feeling unsettled, awkward with herself. She’d felt like they were supposed to have been changed by a day cleaning up weeds and helping to stand marker stones up again, letting the world know who had been there before them and why they’d died.

She’d felt like the dead people were trying to talk to her.

She shuddered.

Grant noticed. “You still creeped out by that place?”

“Yes.” She nodded at his pseudo-graveyard, the one he wanted to let rot until Halloween. “And I feel like this… it’s making a joke out of it. A cruel joke. People died there, Grant. And then people forgot. They walked away. They stopped caring. And it took us, doing a day’s community service, to go clean it up, and for what? So someone can forget again?”

“If you’re telling me to give this up and go drive five hours again so we can maintain that graveyard, forget it. It’s not my job. Or yours.”

“How do you know? What if those are your relatives buried there?”

“Lauren, my grandparents came here long after the war was over.”

“Yeah, but how do you know you didn’t have family here, and they left?”

He shook his head and started to walk away.

Lauren let him go, staring at the small patch of ground with the painted styrofoam and the newly planted kudzu. He’d regret the kudzu, that was for sure. Kudzu buried things, made it impossible to see them. And what you couldn’t see, you could forget.

Part of her would always see that graveyard, the one they’d cleaned. She wouldn’t forget. Maybe one day, she’d go back and take care of it again.

A cold, creepy feeling ran across the top of her scalp. Historic or not, it had been scary.

Maybe Grant was right. Maybe some ghosts needed to be left undisturbed.

This was a Three Word Wednesday post.

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Byline: Chelle LaFleur: Callin’ out Tommy Goldman

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Now, all you boys and girls who been readin’ Chelle’s pieces at this here Trumpet knows that Chelle ain’t no big fan of Terry Fantillo. That man’s been through seven wives, and I heard tell from more than one person that he was workin’ on number five while still married to three, and still got four on the side, too.

That ain’t nobody Chelle can stand behind.

But sometimes, someone goes and does somethin’ that makes even Chelle say a cheer over. Today, that someone’s Terry Fantillo, mister man of a million wives.

You heard that teenybopper Tommy Goldman’s been headin’ down that path o’ darkness, right? The gettin’ thrown outta the casino he wasn’t old enough to be in, the breakup with Sherry Case smack dab in the middle of his show. That made her newest record, which ain’t one Chelle’s called up on Spotify or nothin’, sell another three million copies in the States alone in two hours. And then there’s the fight Tommy had with the photographer who waited for him to get off-a his tour bus and actually caught sight of one-a Tommy’s hairs outta place.

Tommy’s got a new trick, one he learned from that redheaded hothead: he been takin’ the stage an hour late.

Now, our hothead, he don’t care and he don’t apologize. But Tommy? He been makin’ these Tweets that sound lamer than a racehorse that got put down three days ago. Chelle here just wanna know whose equipment is failin’ there, Tommy boy? And which piece is it really?

The music world’s been buzzin’ about that, sho’ nuff. And then Terry Fantillo steps smack in the middle-a it and calls him out. Tells him to get his act together and then goes on and calls him somethin’ that can’t be printed in this here family newspaper. Not that you all ain’t seen it before. I just can’t be askin’ my bosses to print that word, and I can’t be payin’ those fines if they do, neither.

But you know what Chelle here is doin’? A fat girl happy dance. Almost went through the floor, jumpin’ up and down the way I did when I saw what Terry Fantillo up and done.

Maybe it takes one-a them unprintable words to know another when he sees it, but Terry Fantillo sure came through. He may not do it for all them wives he’s had over the years, but he did it on behalf of all us music lovers who think the show oughta start on time.

You heard it first, and you heard it here: Maybe there’s somethin’ redeemable about Terry Fantillo yet. But probably not Tommy Goldman. The only redemption he’s gonna be doin’ is gonna be redeemin’ his stocks and bonds to pay for his rehab.

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Friday Fiction: Just Plain Stupid

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The only downer to what I do is that sometimes, I write something and the people who need to see it, the people who inspired me, will never know it’s here.

I been a member of that fancy gym for five, six years now. It’s a big chunk out of my salary, but the doctor says if I don’t keep up with the exercise, I’ll have to have a handicapped plate and walk with a cane.

Problem is, since I’m right on the edge of needing a cane and all, I can’t walk real far at one time. So if I can’t park close to the front door of a place, I have to turn and go home.

I showed up at my usual time this morning, about a quarter to nine. Usually, this time of day is perfect. Folk haven’t started showing up for the 9:15 classes yet, so for now, there’s lots of parking. It’s Friday, so in another fifteen minutes, this parking lot will be packed full. Most days when I get here ’round now, I can get right up front, right near those handicapped spots.

This morning, though, I showed up and the first thing I saw as I rounded the bend was a whole slew of red trucks from that alarm company. I seen ’em here before, but never this many. I don’t know if anyone’s ever said anything to them, but they park in the member’s area.

Now, I know there’s a section of the lot that’s supposed to be saved for non-members. I drive past that little sign saying “the area back here’s for members only, so park on this side of this sign” – or something to that effect. It’s far. I don’t blame them for parking on the other side of the sign.

But there were so many of them, and they’d parked in all the good spots as well as the bad spots and of course, not a single one of them is on the non-member side of the sign.

We’re havin’ a cold snap, and my knee’s been acting up. I really wanted to walk on a treadmill for a little bit, and then go sit in the sauna. That helps, when I can do that.

But I can only do that when I can get to the front door, and then inside. Oh, sure, there’re them benches inside so I can sit and take a breather if I need to, but on days like today, I know if I sit, I won’t be getting up again. And I’ll have to sit there and watch all those moms and their little kids and smile at them and pretend it’s not so bad getting old and having a bum knee like I do.

Sometimes, those moms give me those looks, like they think I’m sittin’ there ’cause I’m checking their kids out. Gonna kidnap them or something.

I get the hysteria these moms feel, what with that big pedophile arrested not that long ago, but I want to promise them, I’m only sittin’ on this bench ’cause I can’t go no further. That’s it. That’s my workout. I got in the car and drove fifteen minutes just so I can sit on a bench inside the doors and feel like an utter fool.

Today, I didn’t even try. I couldn’t find a parking spot, the one my membership’s supposed to help me get while them alarm people park so’s they don’t fill in those closer spots. Them people ain’t even payin’ the gym anything. They’re here for some meeting upstairs in the restaurant. And most of ’em ain’t got the problems that limit my working and exercising.

I decided I’d be better to save myself the humiliation, go home, take some Advil, and go back to bed. Once the Advil kicks in, I’ll get up and get my work done for the day. Good thing we live in this Internet age and I can work from home.

I just may need to figure out how to exercise here at home. Save myself that chunk of my salary and all. ‘Cause paying just so I can’t get past the door’s just plain stupid.

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Priscilla Fiction: The Marriage Bed

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Some new characters I’ve been playing with… tell me what you think of them. Yes, they are part of the Trevolution!

Priscilla felt lame. That was the only word for it. Lame. As in: uncool. Tragic. Loser. It took her right back to life with Gregg, when he’d managed to convince her she wasn’t good for anything—but, at the same time, she had to maintain the image of the perfect housewife. Wear the high-end designer suits, have lunch with the ladies, have manicures, pedicures, facials. Use a personal shopper. And on and on.

It had been all about maintaining his image.

All that was so far behind her, she wasn’t sure why she was standing here on the edge of Zephyr’s studio, feeling inadequate as she looked over his latest creation: a new bedframe.
He came to stand beside her, crossing his arms over his chest.

“It’s beautiful,” she breathed.

“Yes,” he said.

She tried not to let his usual terseness bother her. That was who he was; Zephyr wasn’t a man of many words. Cassandra said it was the way he’d been brought up: measure what you say. Make sure it’s worth saying. She’d said the only time he forgot that instruction was in bed, that he lost control of his mouth and his words wouldn’t cooperate with the austere life he’d been taught to lead.

“What are you going to do with it?”

“Cassandra will call the family who commissioned it. She’ll handle it.”

“I want one like it.”

He looked at her, uncrossing one arm from over his chest. “You do.”

She nodded. “I do.” She licked her lips—and realized this was what was causing the lame feelings. She wanted a bed by Zephyr. She wanted a bed for Zephyr, and a bed with Zephyr.

But first, she had to be able to afford a bed by Zephyr, and they both knew she wasn’t there yet.

“I’ll let you know when,” she said. “You are not to make me one as a token of our love or anything.”

“A man should make his wife a marriage bed,” he said. “That way, it’s sacred to them both.”

She paused, not sure how to take that. Was he hinting at something? Insinuating that the people who’d commissioned this had been wrong to? Was he passing judgement on how and why people cheat?

“And what should a wife do? That’s a big gesture, to make a bed. What’s her contribution?”

“The quilt,” he said. “The sheets. The pillows. Each brings something vital that makes the experience complete.”

Priscilla nodded. Life with Gregg hadn’t been like that. Not really. He had brought money and image. She had brought his image to life. She hadn’t been allowed to contribute. Not the way Zephyr meant.

She turned her head and looked out the wide door of his workshop. “So Cassandra will handle it all from here? Getting it wrapped up and shipped out of here?”

He nodded once.

“The payment?”

He nodded again.

Priscilla tried not to sigh. Why was she expecting Zephyr to share his financial arrangement with Cassandra? Sure, she needed to know so she didn’t make any mistakes with her own business, but this was Zephyr. He only spoke when he had something of value to offer. He’d made it clear more than once that his business wasn’t of value to Priscilla.

He believed in hard work, and once upon a time, Priscilla hadn’t been afraid of it, either. But then had come Gregg.

Zephyr moved away from Priscilla and started examining pieces of wood. He’d lost interest in her brooding, not that she blamed him. And he had more work to do, another project to get started. Another marriage bed, or a book case, or one of his famed dining room sets. Priscilla didn’t know.

She left his studio and went back to the cottage. He wasn’t the only one with work to do.

That resolution let her feel a lot less lame.

This has been a Three Word Wednesday post. Be sure to see what others are up to. And don’t neglect the #FridayFlash crowd, either!

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Trevolution Fiction: Wonton

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Most of you haven’t met Vanessa Kontempt yet. You still won’t; a train wreck like her is going to be hard to write. But here’s a member of her entourage, someone new on these pages.

The room looked like someone had gone on a rampage. In fact, someone had. Three someones, to be specific.

Fuelled by too much alcohol, too many groupies, a heaping mound of cocaine, and a morbid desire to be the next to die at age 27, Vanessa Kontempt had been the one who’d started it.

As usual.

Freddy and Lurch had joined in, as usual, and now here was Adrian, left to pick up the pieces, smooth the ruffled feathers, and fix everything. As usual.

“I thought it was the tour manager they called the asshole,” he muttered as he took in the damage. He held his breath, waiting for a light bulb to fall out of its socket or something, but it seemed it was all over. Damage done. Vanessa, Freddy, and Lurch had been rolled out to the bus and Stiffy was holding court to make sure they wouldn’t get off the bus and wreck something else.

They’d warned him before he took the tour. It wasn’t going to be easy, and it wasn’t going to be pretty, and that’s why they were offering the extra hazard pay. That hazard pay… it wasn’t enough. Not really. Not for having someone like Vanessa in his life on a daily basis.

Adrian ran a hand over his bald head, loving the smoothness. He should have known when he’d shaved that morning that this would happen. Vanessa always had to wreck his good moods. He swore it was some special talent she had. Like she’d come poke around, realize he was in a good mood, and get to work on how to ruin it.

“You the one I gotta dick with?” the in-house guy asked. He was maybe thirty, but he was wider than he was tall. His breath rasped even when he wasn’t talking, and every word was a wheeze. Adrian had spent the day making everyone else deal with this guy.

Yet more karma biting him on the ass.

Karma, Adrian decided, wasn’t just a motherfucker. It was a sisterfucker, a daughterfucker, a sonfucker, and a fatherfucker. All rolled into one.

“Yes,” he sighed and stared the guy down. Truth be told, he looked like a wonton.

Adrian decided karma was even worse than he’d imagined. Until that moment, he used to jones for Chinese food.

“Let’s not make this so bad,” the wonton wheezed. “Your divas wrecked a table, the couch, and five chairs. We gotta wash down the walls and clean the carpets.”

“Show me the receipt from the last time the carpets were washed,” Adrian said, his hand rasping against his stubble. Bald head, stubbly cheeks. It spoke for him.

The wonton shifted, a cumbersome prospect at best. “Now, I don’t think we need to be that particular.”

Adrian crossed his arms over his chest and cocked his head. He’d picked up that move from the movies, but it hadn’t failed him yet. “I do. Cough it up.”

The wonton held out his hand, trying to stall the tour manager. “Now, now, I thought we weren’t gonna make it so bad.”

“You show me proof that the carpet was cleaned in the past month, and I’ll add it to the bill.” Adrian didn’t change his position.

The wonton licked his lips. “Well, now, we got us a problem. Your divas went and poured a Red Bull across the floor in the hopes of turnin’ it into a ant parade.”

“Red Bull?” Adrian raised an eyebrow. “Where’d that come from? There aren’t any energy drinks anywhere in our rider.”

“Maybe it was a Coke.”

“Maybe you’re blowing air up my ass in the hopes I’ll cave and let you pull one over on us. But Vanessa’s management’s paying me so that won’t happen, and since they’re the ones paying my salary, you can take your Red Bull and shove it where the sun don’t shine. If you can get your fat arms that far around your own body.”

The wonton’s wheeze got louder and his doughy face turned red. “There’s no need to get personal.”

Adrian leaned closer, getting down to the wonton’s eye level. “I haven’t even started to get personal yet.” He grinned. “Want me to?”

That did it. The wonton licked his lips again. The red drained out of his face, leaving it whiter than the cocaine had been.

“The table, the couch, and five chairs,” Adrian said. “By my count, we’re talking seven hundred.” He took a step closer to the wonton and held his breath. Someone had forgotten to stick the leftovers in the refrigerator, and it was ripe.

“Nine,” the wonton wheezed.

“Seven.”

“Eight fifty.”

“Seven.”

“Eight twenty-five.”

“Ever feel like a broken record? Seven.”

“Eight?”

Adrian hardened his face.

“Seven fifty?”

He ran a hand over his stubble again, making it rasp.

“Seven,” the wonton said with a wheeze that might have been a sigh. “But you have to leave Dodge within half an hour.”

“We’ll be gone as soon as I set foot on the bus.”

The wonton counted out the cash. The full amount, and then he very deliberately counted seven hundred back. “You won’t even miss it,” he wheeze-grumbled.

Adrian grinned at him, his special grin. The one he saved for when he was proving that tour managers were assholes. “The only thing you’ll miss is having to pay the poor schlub who’s gotta drag the next beat-up couch out of the storage closet. The red one’ll look great in here.”

The wonton’s wheeze was more of a gasp and for a second there, the guy looked more like a fish two minutes out of water than a wonton. “What–? How–?”

“I been around, dumbshit.”

Adrian folded the cash and tucked the wad into his bag. Shaking his head, he turned and left the production office for the bus.

“Adrian,” Vanessa said when he got on. “Think we can find some Chinese food before we hit the highway? I’ve got a craving for some…” She bit her lower lip, her eyes darting back and forth. For a second there, she looked cute. Vulnerable.

“Wonton soup?” he asked tiredly.

“Hot and sour,” she said thoughtfully.

“Hot and sour, it is.”

This was a Three Word Wednesday post. Be sure to stop in and see what else is happening in this cool community.

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Kerri’s Diary: Overstock

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Thanks to everyone who turned out and picked up copies of King Trevor yesterday, on its release day! Here’s more from Kerri’s diary, a loose-tie in. If you haven’t joined the Trevolution yet, now’s the time!

Mitchell and Daniel took off together for lunch. Mitchell said I could come, even though they’d be talking business. I had nothing better to do, so I tagged along.

It was fascinating stuff.

The jist is that they’d ordered two different new t-shirt designs to debut on this leg of the tour. One was my first drawing of Cool Dude. Trevor’s gotten some comments from people about it, and it was featured in that guitar gods interview they did with me and Trev. Mitchell had to bully JR into letting us put that shirt out. JR had been convinced that despite the magazine, no one would want a cartoon. It went against the ShapeShifter image, he’d said.

To me, that’s why Cool Dude is cool.

Still, I kept my mouth shut while they talked about this. The whole band had thought they were onto something. They fought JR and finally Mitchell threatened to fire him if JR didn’t make those t-shirts available. “It’s not like we fucking have to pay the artist a royalty!” he’d screamed.

I’d asked him why not, but he’d given me one of those looks, and I let it drop. You’d think that after doing the design for Behold Me, I’d have known better this time around. Guess not.

Needless to say, the band was right. The Cool Dude t-shirt has been selling like mad. In fact, Daniel and Mitchell looked at each other, then at me, then at each other again. I get what pregnant silence means now.

“Maybe,” I said. “But you’ll have to pay more.”

Mitchell snorted, then growled.

“Stick it,” I said. “Maybe I’ll use the royalties to fund a scholarship at Riverview Art.”

I think that idea satisfied him. I mean, the band’s doing well enough that so are we.

The other t-shirt, though… that’s the problem. It was supposed to be one of those basic wardrobe staples that no one can live without. The ShapeShifter logo at the top, and the most recent promo shot underneath. It was JR’s pet. He was convinced it’d be the band’s newest top-seller.

Can you say overstock?

Yeah. Me, too.

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Kerri’s Diary: The Sneeze

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With less than a week to go until the debut of King Trevor, here’s another snippet from Kerri’s Diary. This project is a side piece to the current books in print that are part of the Trevolution. This post, inspired in part by real life, incorporates this week’s Three Word Wednesday prompt words.

You know those romantic images of the woman who always sleeps in her lover’s arms? Mitchell and I sleep like that. I’ll admit it. Scary thing is that it’s hard to get to sleep if I’m not using him as a pillow.

Don’t buy the hype about how it’s nothing but great. Neither of us moves much when we sleep, so sometimes, we’ll wake up and find we’ve gone stiff during the night – especially Mitchell, especially the night after a show. These early shows have been the hardest on him. Sometimes, one or the other of us will have an arm or a leg – or shoulder, or whatever – go numb.

The worst happened this morning. I can’t even tell you how it started because I was asleep, but I guess I sneezed.

And, of course, when you’re using a man’s body for your pillow and you sneeze while you’re asleep…

Well, his growls were what woke me. Even then, I was groggy. I’m not trying to justify it, so bear with me. I wasn’t sure what had happened, and I wasn’t even entirely certain I had sneezed in real life even though I’d sneezed in the dream I’d been having.

I moved my hand over his chest and … it was all wet. Not the sweaty kid of wet, either. This was… different.

“What happened?” I asked him.

“You sneezed,” he said. It came out mostly as a growl.

I couldn’t help it. I started to laugh. “You mean I sneezed on you?”

He got out of bed. It was obvious this was funnier to me than it was to him.

I rolled onto my back and laughed some more. He stayed in the bathroom until I stopped giggling, but as soon as he came out and I saw him, I started again. I couldn’t help it. In a way, this was worse than any of those other random body functions that happen while making love.

“Payback’s a bitch, Ker,” he finally said and got back into bed. He made it clear I wasn’t allowed back on his shoulder, and when I rolled onto my side, he fit himself against me.

And that’s when I realized: I had my back to him. And his face.

And paybacks are, indeed, bitches.

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Kerri’s Diary: Warmer Clothes

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Okay, so it’s March, not July, when I’m posting this, but the weather here makes this a fitting piece. Less than two weeks until the release of King Trevor — are you ready??

Mitchell called last night and asked me to bring some warmer clothes for him when I come back out on the road. He said he’s already stolen a sweatshirt from his own merch, but it’s not enough. He needs a coat or something.

I don’t get it. It’s the summer, for crying out loud. July. And the band is in the States, where it doesn’t exactly get cold enough to be coat weather. At least, it usually doesn’t do that in July.

You don’t argue with Mitchell when he gets in these moods, though. You shut up and dig through the coat closet and find something that’s not as heavy as his ShapeShifter jacket, but is still warmer than the denim he’s got with him. Maybe even warmer than the warm-up jacket I was eyeing, but then my choices are this horrid stadium jacket that had to have been one of those prank presents from Amy or Beth, or this even worse barn jacket.

That’s what makes me think that Mitchell doesn’t need a coat right now. That he’s looking ahead and knowing he’ll need one soon, and that if he whines about being cold in the middle of July, I’ll take pity on him and buy him something nicer than either of these two. Yet why he thinks I won’t come up with something worse is beyond me.

Unless he’s planning that if I do, he’ll just make me wear it. Me, who wants nothing more than a heavy leather ShapeShifter jacket like the one in the closet. The one I’m half-tempted to take out and sleep with. I mean, it reeks of him. I may be home for only a week but damn, I miss him.

Maybe I’ll wait on the whole coat thing and drag him out shopping on a day off once I’ve gotten back out there. That way, any ugly thing he winds up with will be his own doing.

But I’ll pack him an extra pair of sweatpants, just in case he really is cold. Maybe another sweatshirt, too. A heavier one. Just in case…

Be sure to check out the other FridayFlash folk and see what they are creating… It’s always fun to sample the depth of experience on the Net…

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Kerri’s Diary: First Show

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This week’s Three Word Wednesday and #FridayFlash combines with my new Kerri’s Diary series. This piece, obviously, is set during Trevor’s Song. As we get closer to the release of King Trevor, the newest book in the Trevolution, you’ll be reading more snippets from Kerri’s Diary. Hope you’ll join me for the ride — and pick up the books, while you’re at it.

After all these months, it finally happened.

I got to see ShapeShifter play live. A real, live concert. Not a practice, not a warm-up show in a mostly-empty arena. A concert.

Mitchell was right. I didn’t get it until I experienced it.

Amateur that I was, Eric told me I had to go down into the crowd and watch that way. Right down there, at the barrier, he said. He found a member of the local security team to put me in place and stay with me, to make sure I wouldn’t get trampled. I laughed, but it turns out, Eric was right. I needed the guard’s diligent ways; ShapeShifter fans are rough. It’s not that they mosh so much as they almost have this need to get up in the band’s face and touch them and be close to them, especially Mitchell. He’s more than just the guy in front, as he calls himself. He’s electric up there, magnetic. He’s calling people to him, and I doubt he even realizes what he’s doing.

I watched big, beefy guys get hauled over the barrier, red-faced and gasping for breath. Girls who looked like they were about to pass out, who’d immediately burst into tears at where they found themselves. So close to the band and yet being shown the way to someplace that’d only move them farther from their heroes. They’d get yanked free, and there’d be six more people cramming into that space they’d just come out of.

The crush was incredible. And there were only eighteen thousand total fans in the arena. The security guy said he’s been on the road with bands who’ve played in front of fifty or sixty thousand. This, he said, was nothing. When you get numbers like that, the floor’s packed. People can—and sometimes do—get trampled.

I believe him. And … I don’t. It’s just too hard to get your brain around. I’ll admit it here since I can’t admit it anywhere else, but at times, I was scared.

I spent the rest of the night drawing, and yet I couldn’t draw anything. I was too busy watching, taking it all in. This was my first experience with the whole spectacle: the hurry-up-and-wait once you get to the venue, the interviews, the pre-show, the after-show, the fans, the media types, the label people. And the groupies. Oh, yeah. Don’t forget the groupies. They hate me already and half of them don’t even realize the woman standing in the band’s shadows is the wife. They hate the very concept of me. I’ve taken Mitchell from them.

Eric said the thing to do is get to know a few. I’ll know which ones, he promised. Nurture a friendship with them, he said. Let their influence pave the way. I’m betting he’s right.

Mitchell said that after tonight, I can go down into the pit, the area between the stage and the barrier, and watch from there. He said Eric was right: my first time had to be done right.

Then he winked, the horny bastard.

One final plug: if you like serial fiction, be sure to stop in at Alice Audrey’s spot on the Net for us Serialists. Read a few, add your own… it’s all good.

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Kerri’s Diary: Snow in Detroit

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With the release of King Trevor, the follow-up to Trevor’s Song, coming out in less than a month, I decided it was time to share this project I’ve worked on, off and on, over the years. As always, this is tie-in material and has no spoilers to what awaits you in King Trevor.

There’s snow here and even though we’ve seen snow already, there’s something about the snow here that made me stop and think. It doesn’t snow in Riverview, so this is the first time I’ve seen snow since I left Pittsburgh.

I didn’t think I’d missed it, but there’s something about it that looks so right, I can’t get over it.

I wanted to take a short walk in it. Hear it crunch under my feet and feel the cold seep up my body. Remember the stillness, the quiet of a snowfall. I wish there was a way to paint those sensations, but I don’t think you can get it unless you experience it.

Mitchell came with me. It was four in the morning and all I wanted to do was walk across the lawn of the hotel. Who’d have thought a downtown hotel would have grass, but if it’s not grass under the snow, it’s an unshoveled patio and who really cares? The idea is to just be in the snow.

He got cold before we walked long, and we’re both tired. It doesn’t matter; it was enough.

I don’t know if I’m glad it doesn’t snow in Riverview, but I’m glad I live there now. Like Mitchell, I’m not leaving so fast.

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Trinity Fiction: Cancel My Labor

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This was another Three Word Wednesday post that just screamed at me. I listened.

“Cancel my labor,” Trinity said.

“Trin,” Springer said. “It don’t work that way. The baby got in. It’s got to come out.”

She closed her eyes and threw her head back. “I know, but… why can’t there be a magic wand or something?” As if in agreement, her belly heaved as the baby kicked. Trinity put her hand on the lump and caressed it.

Springer sighed. He didn’t know what to say. He was out of his element on this one, and he knew it. He needed to escape from Trinity and Grandma and their crazy babies-on-the-brain, but at the same time, he couldn’t stay away. Trinity and Grandma had started telling him that since Trinity was going to keep the baby, Springer was the closest thing around to a father. They hinted that he’d have to step it up.

He wasn’t sure how he felt about that. Not because it wasn’t his baby; he hadn’t even gotten his hand on Trinity’s tits before she’d gotten herself knocked up.

It was that he was seventeen and still had a year to go before graduating high school. He worked part-time as a nighttime stockboy at the local Huge-Mart. Those weren’t particularly fatherly traits. Not if he wanted the kid to look up to him.

“And do it now,” Trinity was saying. She ran a finger under the elastic waistband of her maternity jeans. “I am sick of these ugly clothes. I want my own back.”

“Nine months up, nine months down,” Springer said, parroting Grandma.

Trinity made an exasperated noise and lumbered to her feet before tottering off.

Truth was, Springer couldn’t wait until she was her old self again, either. Before this had happened, he’d wanted to get to know Trinity better. She’d been so wild and free – before the baby. Now, she was tired and scared. She wasn’t the same girl.

Funny thing, though, was that Springer thought she might be hotter than ever like this. He liked that she looked to him for advice and guidance, even though he didn’t know anything and all he could do was keep on repeating what Grandma said.

She shuffled back into the room he was in, puffing a bit. “Really,” she gasped and held a hand behind her, canting her hips up toward the ceiling and almost doing a backbend as she tried to seat herself. She fell into the couch with a plop. “I’ve had enough. Magic wand time!”

“Trin, there’s no magic wand.”

Her breath caught. Springer peered at her; tears were filling up that spot at the top of her bottom lids, where tears gathered right before they spilled over. “You’ve been in class with me,” she said. “ You’ve seen what goes on. I don’t think I can do it.”

“It’s not like you have a choice anymore,” Springer said. He didn’t know why he was suddenly so angry; it wasn’t a place he went to often.

Trinity’s tears spilled over. Springer softened. “You’ll be fine,” he said, sliding to his knees in front of her. He put his hands on her knees. Like the rest of her, they’d grown soft, swollen with motherhood. That change, he wasn’t so keen on. He’d liked Trinity as she’d been before: angular, spiky. Maybe even a little bit hard.

She was shaking her head. “I can’t do it, Springer.”

“Yes, you can,” he said. “Women been doing this for years.” He was parroting Grandma down to her own language. As if anyone cared.

Trinity bit her lower lip and squeezed her eyes shut. A tear squeezed through.

Springer stood up so he could bend over and wrap her in a hug. A pang shot through him as she buried her head on his chest; he’d wanted so much more than this between them.

He sighed. Always second-best.

Be sure to check in at Three Word Wednesday (link’s above) and Friday Flash for some other reading fun.

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Roadie Poet: Peach Guts

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No clue where this came from. Or why. Or even how. The Three Word Wednesday words this week were pretty dark — control, flesh, razor — but this… isn’t.

You have to have
control

to slip the blade between the skin and the
flesh.

Like this.
Slow.

Don’t breathe.

Much.

Or talk.

Don’t do that either.

But

Do

Wash the
peach guts
off the
Razor

before you use it

to open

that box

of t-shirts.

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Trinity’s Decision

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It’s been a long time since I’ve visited with Trinity, Springer’s sort-of girlfriend. This week’s Three Word Wednesday prompt demanded I revisit her, since I’d left her in a pretty bad position the last time we saw her…

Lust hit with a jolt, surged through the body. It didn’t matter what he looked like, or who he was. Not usually. What mattered was how she felt at the moment, how available he was, and if he’d let her be the one who put the rubber on.

No wonder she’d gotten herself into this mess, she figured. Knocked up, living with Springer’s grandmother, trying to figure out if she should keep it or what. She had another week before abortion wouldn’t be an option.

“Detach yourself from it,” Springer’s grandmother said, patting her on the hand. The lady was smart and kind, if a bit demanding. Springer said at her age, she’d earned it.

Trinity hoped she wouldn’t be around long enough to find out what that meant. She didn’t want to grow attached to these people. They deserved better than her.

“If this was your friend, not you,” Springer’s grandmother said, “what would you tell her to do?”

Trinity shrugged, a slow raising of her shoulders that Springer’s grandmother was supposed to know wasn’t a brush-off. It was supposed to let her know that truly, she had no idea what she’d say. Abortions were big. They were loaded.

Trinity wasn’t sure she could live with that sort of pressure. She thought she’d spend the rest of her life wondering what the baby would have been like. Was it a boy or a girl? What would it grow up to be like?

“I think you know,” Springer’s grandmother said.

“No abortion,” Trinity said, pulling her knees up to her chest and hugging them. “I should. I know I should.” She squeezed her eyes shut. “Grandma, I don’t know if I can live with this. No matter what I do, it’s the wrong thing.” She raised her face to the ceiling, felt the tears on her cheeks. “I wish this had never happened.”

Grandma patted her knee. “I know, Trinity.” Her hand stayed there for a second too long, and Trinity knew. She tilted her head so she could look Grandma in the eye.

Grandma had known the same pulls. The lust, the searing need to be filled and completed. The blessed release when you came.

And what happened when the rubber slipped. Or broke. Or did whatever it had done.

“What did you do?” she whispered.

“I didn’t let it defeat me,” Grandma whispered back.

I’ve also cross-posted this as my #FridayFlash. If you’d like the backstory, here are the links you need:
Springer and Trinity meet
Trinity gets in trouble
Springer tries to help
Be sure you leave comments if you stop in; I love comments! It’s how I know you visited.

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Fiction: The Ugly Truth

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The Three Word Wednesday prompt this week seemed dark: brutal, sullen, trust. Or maybe despite the fact that things feel like they’re in an upswing (may it last!), there’s still a lot of darkness I’m facing.

Regardless, this piece bothers me because it’s teetering on the edge of cliche and I’m not quite sure how to pull it back. While I think, read and leave me a comment. I love comments, and there’s no telling what you may say that’ll show me what I’m seeking.

It was scenes like this, brutal, ugly, and oh-so-honest, that tore me apart. The ones where we bared our souls to each other and somehow, despite everything, came out okay, our trust intact, our relationship more solid than ever.

But, oh, how it hurt while we were doing it. We cried, our hands occasionally touching as we would pull tissue after tissue out of the box. Our noses honked, we sniffed like there wasn’t going to be a tomorrow, and the tissues made a rose garden of sorts on the bed around us. Who needed rose petals when there was white, unscented goodness all crumpled up and mixed so perfectly with our snot?

Yes, we’d make love after the tears stopped, the sullen looks started to be replaced by cautious smiles, and those glancing touches turned into a fresh exploration of each other’s bodies, fingertips buzzing with excitement at the feel of each other’s flesh.

It was an ideal. I don’t know if he knew it, but I sure did. It couldn’t last, no matter how hard I hoped that it would. I even prayed, but I guess my prayers fell on deaf ears. Don’t they always?

“I’ve heard this a million times already,” he said. Even that phrase was a million-times uttered.

“If you’d listen,” I said as quietly and calmly as I could, “not just hear, we’d be able to get past it.”

You’d think I’d slapped him. His jaw went slack, his eyes flung open, and he turned red in the face.

And then he did what he’d never done. He turned away, turned his back on me. He bowed his head and stayed silent for a long time. Too long; while he was like that, I sat, a tissue crumpled in my fist, my eyes fixed on the piece of white that stuck out the back of my fist like it was a paper towel in one of those dispensers that throttles the paper towel and you have to yank it to one side to get it free, and then you have to, while your hands leave wet spots all over it, unwrap it. All before you can use it.

“Yeah,” he said and I let the rest of my breath out. I’d been holding as much of it as I could without passing out or turning purple, neither of which would let me see what was about to happen. “But hearing you makes me ache for you.”

“I ache, too,” I said, still quiet, still staring at my tissue. “I wish it would stop.”

He smiled, a rueful one. “I can understand that. How…” He took a deep breath. “How do we make that happen?”

I shook my head and opened my fist. The tissue, wet with my sweat, stuck to my skin. I peeled the tissue away, then rubbed at the stubborn stuff.

He took my hand and, with his thumb, gently rubbed the dredges of tissue away. I watched his thumb go up and down, back and forth over my palm. “Casey,” he said, “we can do this. Get through this. Whatever it is.”

“You know what it is,” I said.

“I think I know what it is,” he said. “But if we get too close to it, it might change and turn into something else.”

I swallowed hard, hearing the truth. I hadn’t wanted to go here, hadn’t wanted any of this to come out. In all our time together, I’d only held this one thing back from him, afraid it was too big, too ugly. What we had was too special for me to let this in. Once it was there, it would ruin us, ruin these nights when we could talk it out and trust each other ever deeper.

It was the beginning of the end. “Are you sure?” I asked him. “What if it’s something horrible. Like… I had a baby before we met, who died. Or I’m not who you think I am.”

“No one’s who we think they are,” he said with a medium-sized smile. “That’s why you and I have these talks. To learn who each other is.”

I wanted to point out we’d been together eight years. Two people who tried could get to know each other pretty well in eight years. But I was afraid that if I said anything about how long we’d been together, he would accuse me – rightly! – of having held back for eight years. Of giving this monster time to grow until it was what it had become, poised and ready to destroy what we had.

I shook my head.

He put his index finger under my chin and lifted. I tried not to meet his eyes, but he moved his head around, his smile getting bigger with each of my dodges. “There you are,” he said when I let my gaze meet his at last. His confidence tore me apart. “I don’t care if you murdered that little girl,” he said. “We’ve come this far. We’ll get the rest of the way.”

“What if the rest of the way comes to an end tomorrow?”

“Then we did it together.”

I knew. Right then, I knew. I’d have to tell him. I’d have to find a doctor, a therapist, who would listen and get it. And then I’d have to bring him in and, while the doctor watched and kept me from chickening out, I’d have to tell him.

It would kill him.

But it might also salvage what we had.

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Roadie Poet: New Year’s Eve

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New Year’s Eve.

I’m off tour.
More’s still out.
So’s Hambone.

Mom’s with Antonio.
They’re going strong.

That means
tonight
It’s just me.
Alone.

For New Year’s Eve.

Used to be,
I thought
only losers
were alone
on
New Year’s Eve.

I’m no loser.
If anything,
I’m a nomad.
A nomad
With friends
On tour.
And a mom
with
a love life.

I’ve heard it said
that
what you do on
New Year’s Eve
is
What you’ll do
All
Year
Long.

Hope that doesn’t mean
I’ll be
Alone.

All.

Year.

Long.

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Kermit Ladd Fiction: The Wall of Sound

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Once again, I’m combining this week’s Three Word Wednesday post with real life. This is a stand-alone piece, but you old-timers will recognize and remember Kermit Ladd.

Kermit Ladd, intrepid journalist, was sent to the gorgeous suburb of Maison Villa to meet with legendary guitarist Terry Fantillo. With his seventh wife by his side, he proceeded to show all present his scaled-down models of the stack of amplifiers he intends to build.

“It’ll be the second man-made object visible from space,” he brags. One almost expects him to pound on his puffed-up cheset, but all present are spared that spectacle.

“I thought about making it a touring exhibit,” he goes on to say, “but my engineers told me it would be better to make it immoble. Otherwise, my stack,” he ads with one of those nods that tells you the speaker is about to divulge a huge secret for your ears only, “would confuse the astronauts in the International Space Station. They wouldn’t ever know what city they were looking at, or what part of the world was showing. I think it’d be great, but NASA wasn’t so into the idea. The astronauts have enough to deal with and focus on up there, I guess.”

When asked if he would ever turn on this wall of amplification, Fantillo laughs. “Wouldn’t that be the ultimate retribution for the asshole neighbor who keeps letting his dog shit in your yard?”

His laughter goes on even when he’s the only one laughing. If the atmosphere becomes strained, Fantillo doesn’t notice.

“Yeah, we’ll turn it on once or twice,” he says once his guffaws have smoothed out into something approaching a state of sobriety. For Fantillo, widely rumored to have an unacknowledged drinking problem, that is quite the claim. “The engineers tell me anyone in close proximity will be sorry, but we’ll do it. Maybe when we have friends over for the Super Bowl or New Year’s Eve.”

Wife Number Seven nods.

Fantillo smiles at her as if she has greatly pleased him. “It’s enough to have such a thing,” he says. “My wall of amplification. Maybe someone will put it in a museum, or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s going to be one-of-a-kind. No one will ever duplicate what I’m doing.”

The question, dear readers, is why anyone would ever want to.

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ShapeShifter Fiction: Irony?

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Three Word Wednesday and the awesome dudes at Metal Sucks teamed up for this flash featuring ShapeShifter. But… where’s Trevor?

“We’re working with who on this one?” Mitchell asked. He scratched the top of his head, his elbow sticking out at an odd angle. Kerri had to duck under it.

“Jason McNair,” Daniel said, looking over the fax he’d just picked up at the hotel lobby. “He’ll meet us here in the lobby in …” He glanced at his wrist, but Kerri wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t like he ever wore a watch.

Kerri smiled as Daniel looked around the ornate lobby for a clock. A red digital display — terribly out of place with the gold filigree and plush upholstery everywhere else — hung over the front desk. Daniel blinked at it, then checked the fax again. “Ten minutes,” the drummer said.

“Why?” Mitchell asked, sounding pained. “What’s wrong with Adam?”

Daniel shrugged. “JR wanted some new blood. Apparently, this Jason dude has a concept he wants to sell us.” He consulted the fax again as Eric arrived. “We have to behave, JR says,” Daniel continued, acknowledging Eric’s arrival with a shallow nod.

Mitchell began coughing, sounding for all the world like he was choking on something. Kerri understood; telling ShapeShifter to behave was sort of like telling the sun to stop shining. It was also an invitation to create a mob scene.

In short: that sort of instruction never went over well.

Daniel held up the second page of the fax, turning it so Mitchell, Kerri, and Eric could see it. “He’s the one who did this,” he said.
Mitchell’s face turned purple. Kerri, laughing herself, pounded him on the shoulder. Eric frowned and took the picture from Daniel. “We can’t jettison the guy? Get out of here, like, now?”

“Doubt it,” Daniel said. With two fingers, he plucked the page out of Eric’s hands and spent a long minute studying it. Kerri leaned over his shoulder, alternately appalled and amused by it.

The band, who she’d never heard of, was made up of five guys. They stood in a Flying V, the four outside of the vortex looking as typical metal as possible: aloof, disillusioned, angry, ready to kick some ass. All at once.

There was serious irony in the shot, Kerri thought. The straw hat on the dude on the left. The only baldie and the only long-hair standing together.

But that final dude… the one at the back of the V. The one with his back to the camera and his hands held out wide, like they were ready to grab the gun out of the holster on his hip and start shooting, only to reach for the one under his knee when all six shots were gone…

Kerri hoped it was irony the picture was supposed to be conveying.

And God help this Jason guy if he tried to make anyone in ShapeShifter pose like that.

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