Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween!!

Here is a little short story I wrote for MuseitUp Pub's blogsite:

Heather Haven

Cliff adjusted the eye-patch and scrutinized the perfect but expensive pirate’s reflection in the full length mirror. From black leather boots to golden earring, he looked real enough to sail the seven seas. And just as lusty. Women liked that.
“You’re one handsome son of a bitch, Cliffy Boy, if I do say so myself.” He let out a raucous laugh. “Especially now that you’re a widower.”
The doorbell rang. He grumbled about early trick-or-treaters as he went to the door. He wanted to leave momentarily for the Halloween party, hoping to score big with that hot Jocelyn, from the life insurance company. It was so nice when employees from the very company paying off for your wife’s demise also put out. Two short months of her being dead and he’d never seen so much action. All those babes just waiting to comfort him.
“Ahoy there, matie!’ He flung open the door, posed then looked up and down the hallway. There was no one. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a small creature scurry across the threshold and into his apartment.
“Damn it to hell,” he bellowed and turned around to see his dead wife’s black cat run through the living room and out onto the terrace, the terrace from where he’d helped his wife to her untimely but necessary death. After all, she’d been cramping his style.
That day he would have tossed the beast over the railing, too, if he could have caught it. But right after the ‘accident,’ it ran out into the hallway meowing at the front door of their nosy neighbor, who’d scooped it up and took it inside. Ever since then, anytime he would step into the hallway to go to work or out on a date, the cat would be there, staring at him from the other side of the neighbor’s transom.
Now the cat leaped onto the ledge of the terrace railing and turned around. It crouched, tail lashing back and forth, black fur rippling in the wind off the Hudson River. Sharp green eyes glared at Cliff in an accusatory way.
“Damn it to hell,” Cliff repeated, crossing over and onto the terrace. He closed the sliding glass door, trapping him and the cat outside. The Manhattan skyline was darkening and the feline’s ebony-colored fur blended in with the on-coming night. But its emerald eyes glittered more intensely than any light in the city’s panoramic view behind.
“So you want to play, do you? Well, you’re dead meat, cat. I’m sick of dealing with you.”
The cat growled and hunkered down atop the cement railing of the barrier separating the terrace and the earth 42-floors below.
Cliff moved forward, unsheathing the large plastic sword from his belt. “I don’t have to come near you,” he yelled, raising his arm and preparing to strike. “Just a couple of swipes with this –“
“Now, Cliff,” a feminine voice chastised. “That’s hardly fair.”
“Who said that?” Cliff dropped the play sword and staggered back, banging into the closed glass door. He felt his heart thud in his chest. “Who’s out here? Show yourself! Who are you?” But he recognized the voice.
“You know who I am.” The tone was melodious yet firm, dripping with venom. “It’s one thing for you to do away with me, but an innocent little animal? That’s too much, Cliff, even for you.”
He looked in the direction of the voice and saw a small shimmering cloud, hardly more than a vapor, forming into the features of a face, his wife’s face.
Cliff let out a short shriek, turned and scratched at the handle of the sliding glass door. It slid open and he fell back into the room. He wheeled around to see his apartment, nothing more. Sounds of his heavy breathing filled the empty room.
It must have been the curry he had for lunch or the spicy lamb shish kabob! Well, never again, he vowed, with a shaky laugh. Time for that party, he thought, and stepped forward. An icy wind raged on his face, so cold his eyes began to tear.
“Where do you think you’re going, Cliff?”
The countenance was now in front of him, drawing closer, more solid, emerald green eyes flashing. Pushed back by the vision, Cliff found himself outside again, panicky steps taking him along the perimeter of the elegant, plant-laden terrace.
He neared the cat still on the handrail. It reached out, swiped at his hand, and drew blood. Thrown off balance, Cliff tripped over one of the potted plants his wife so dearly loved. He heard the cat screech, felt talons and fangs strike, and saw two sets of flickering green eyes, as he fell backward. He surrendered to the toppling over and the drop 42 stories to the pavement below.
On the way down and in between his screams, he thought of something odd. He’d never noticed before how his late wife’s eyes and those of the cat looked one and the same.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ellie, My Black Cat, Is Depressed

Elphaba Queen of da Nile, better known as Ellie, is devastated. She'd applied for a job as a witch's assistant but didn't get the job. Now true, she isn't authentically a black cat, being in reality a Black Ash i.e. black hair at the tip, pale grey at the root, but still. Being rejected hurts.
When the witch - who shall be nameless - sent back Ellie's application, she wrote Ellie didn't have the right attitude. As her mommy, I should have read what Ellie wrote on the application before she sent it out. This is my fault.
I'm sure what killed the deal was the answer to the question, 'how do you feel about being my familiar?' Ellie replied she didn't want to get familiar with the witch, as she would be merely working for her and not her friend or family. In addition Ellie added, she didn't want to get dirty, so there would be no riding brooms or climbing down chimneys. She would be willing to continue lounging on a cushion - color of the witch's choice as long as it was silk - for eight-hours a day, with two fifteen minute breaks and ninety-minutes for lunch.
The witch -- and I believe that's spelled with a capital "B" -- said Ellie sounded a little too California for her. It's all my little sweetie can do not to raid the catnip collection and drown her sorrows. I am off to buy her a few new toys and a new chapeau for Halloween. Hope you like last year's hat! But, darlings, soooo passe!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nothing Like a Writers Retreat to Get You Back On Track

Being able to do nothing but write - and being forced to write -- is heaven on earth. Even if you don't have kids under foot, the day-to-day stuff gets in the way, especially if there is a spouse or loved one in the vicinity. I also have two demanding cats, who think they are neurotic French Poodles i.e. love me, want me, hold me, feed me. Wait, that's my husband, too!
Then the phone rings, the handyman drops by, the dishes need to be done and what's that dust bunny doing over in the corner like that? There are days when I will make ANY excuse not to write, including cleaning out the laundry room or answering every email I've gotten for the past several months.
But when you've paid good money to be somewhere to write, driven hours to get there, joined other writing buddies to create something, making excuses is not going to cut it.
All I had to do was make my bed. End of story. Three meals a day were provided - fabulous food, I might add - and I could write, write, write. So I wrote, wrote, wrote. It was great. I also got several ideas for my new mystery series, which is a bonus. That's what happens when you get to think about nothing but you and your work.
I remember reading once Mark Twain had a secreted place on his summer estate, a small, one-room building, where he would go off by himself. I think Ernest Hemingway used his home in Key West in much the same way when he was there. You ever been to Key West in the summer? Believe me, there's nothing to do but sit and pant. You may as well jot down some words while you're at it.
Everybody needs a place that says "Here's where you work." So, my writing buddies and I decided to try getting away and do nothing but write together once every quarter.
Now I'm home and I still feel productive. I feel invigorated. I feel...wait a minute. Ellie, my youngest cat says she needs to be brushed. I'll be back with you in a sec.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My This and That Has Been Awesome Lately!

Some fabulous things have been happening for me lately! The 2nd book in the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, A Wedding to Die For, is one of the three finalist in EPIC's mystery book of the year. This is so exciting. then I was asked to do a reading at Litquake last week with such mystery heavy weights as Cara Black and Jacqueline Winspear! I mean, really! They are so incredible. The wonderful Meg Waite Clayton was there, as well, do a reading from her book, The Four Ms. Bradwells. Meg is a fine, fine writer, as was everyone else at the Murder, Mayhem, and Moxie readings. Tomorrow I'm off to a writing retreat in Healdsberg. Hubby Norman will be taking care of the cats and holding down the homestead. What a guy! Then November 3rd, I'm off to the MuseItUp Conference in Montreal where I will finally meet my publisher, Lea Shizaz, and our marketing expert, Litsa, and many other fellow Muse authors in person. Life is good, friends, life is good!