What is your Favorite Christmas Song?

Yes, yes, I am soooo late! I should have had this up two or three days ago! Forgive me; it is the after Christmas head-mush of someone trying to get themselves back into gear.

And before you ask, head-mush is a severe medical condition caused by too much sugar, a bit of alcohol, a marvelous feast, and several days of laying around while reading books, playing video games, and watching the snow fall. Or wishing you were watching the snow fall as the rain laughs at you.

And the final contestansts are:

Parody of the Night Before Christmas by Lauren Stone
T’was the night before Christmas and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring, except Aunt Doreen, snorting coke off her dealer Mouse.
Uncle Thomas was sleeping, passed out in a haze,
while empty beer bottles flew about with malaise.
Cousin Jimmy was crying, his father was cruel,
before going to bed he smeared him with stool.
The feces and liquor permeating the air,
gave tidings of reindeer too weak to repair.
Our fathers were hunters and republicans too.
They shot that poor Rudolf, cause he was a Jew.
“Commie bastard,” they wailed into the night,
“Come here, and I’ll teach you the real meaning of fright.”
So I lie on the floor in my sack made of nylon
and pray for the morning and its sun to shine on.
My dysfunctional family all round the tree,
opening presents while grandma screams, “God dammit, I have to pee.”

Parody of Ding Dong Merrily On High by S.M. Carrière
Ding, dong merrily we're high
In our heads bells are ringing.
Ding, dong eating a whole pie
While praises we are singing.
Gloria, Marijuana in excess!

E'en so into bong we blow
Let stoner's talk be stumblin'
And "io, io, io!"
By priests and people sungen.
Gloria, Marijuana in excess!

Pray you dutifully inhale
Your morning puff, ye smokers.
May you beautifully exhale
Your evening bud, ye tokers.
Gloria, Marijuana in excess!

Parody of Deck the Halls by Andy Love
Deck the halls with bits of body,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Paint the floors with blood from Holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Don we now our can of petrol,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Throw the ancient fuel on Carol,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

See the blazing fool before us,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Strike her head don‘t make a fuss.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Follow me looking for treasure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
When I kill it’s such a pleasure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Fast away the old car passes,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Hail the cops, ye lads and lasses,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Sing we Phychos, all together,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
We love dead in any weather,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Parody of Joy to the World by Wendy's Children
Joy to the world,
Barney is dead
We barbecued his head!
Don't worry about the body,
we flushed it down the poddy,
And round and round it goes...
shoved it in with just our toes..
and Ro-Ound and round and round it goes!

Another Parody of Twas the Night Before Christmas by The Brit
Twas the night before Christmas when the temperature dropped, to thirty below,
and then the water stopped.

As the pipes burst below, there arose such a clatter, then the furnace blew up! Now what was the matter?

He tried to light the fireplace, but the flue had rusted in, so he banged and pounded until it swung in, raining dozens of birds nests... and an empty bottle of Gallo Cafe Zin.

In the midst of this trial the circuits arced out, just as the water heater screamed like a tea kettle spout.

Up to the roof, he shot with all speed, to confront that old fart about his joke.

Indeed, he intended to confront the old hoke, when two steps from the top, the ladder rungs broke.

He fell into his pool as the water disappeared, through a crack in the earth... could it get any more weird?

Then from down on the street he heard the laughter of the Kringle.

As his house burned to the ground, the sleigh bells did jingle.

When his brand-new ferrari drove out of sight, his iPhone beeped, and to our delight...

The text message said; You're fired you schmuck.
Your insurance's been cancelled and you're now out'a luck.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Reminder of the Rules:

  1. Vote for anybody, even yourself, if you truly feel that one is the best.

  2. You can only vote once so make sure it counts.

  3. If there is a tie for 1st place, both contestants will receive the prize.

  4. Talking smack is allowed.

  5. Have fun. If you don't, you're disqualified.

Voting will last one week, closing at midnight on Thursday, January 7th, 2009.

What Was Under the Tree for Me...

The Christmas Eve Intruder

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

A beautiful story if a bit unrealistic. In our house, the kids zipped about, chasing each other up and down the stairs, hollering and singing and dancing. They get it from their father. I blame it all on him.

It was late before I finally got them to sleep. Because I told them Santa wasn't real, I can't use the line, "Go to bed or Santa won't come." There's no manipulating them into early bedtimes.

And before you scold me for ruining the Christmas spirit, these three little girls with their vivid imaginations create the magic of Christmas all on their own.

OK, the truth is I'm not any good at lying. Since my own parents thought that Santa was against their religious beliefs, I never believed in him (never went trick-or-treating either). So I never got the whole Santa thing. I don't understand why people make such a big deal about him.

Finally curled up in bed, snuggled up warm and tight to TJ, I dreamt of something like sugarplums in my head, but a thud clattering down stairs woke me. I poked TJ. "Someone broke in," I said.

"Grahgrahgrahgrum," he answered and rolled over.

I grabbed my robe and snuck down the stairs. The last thing it could be was Santa. After all, I just said how he didn't exist. Careful not to kick a toy, step on the cat, squeak a floor board, I crept closer, one step at a time, and peeked over the railing. A man wearing combat boots and red Santa hat was sifting under the tree, picking up boxes, shaking them, and tossing them back over his shoulder. In the light from the window, I could only make out some dark hair, a scowl, and a ring glistening on his finger.

Who was this guy?

He wasn't CJ. At least, he didn't seem to have CJ's catlike grace. He wasn't invisible, so he couldn't have been Rico Suave.

Then—oh crap—it dawned on me. GergisKhan!

What was he doing in my living room? Going through our presents? He must have thought there was something hidden here—something that obviously didn't exist. I mean, come on! Why would I hide a dangerous package in my house, under my Christmas tree?

I snuck back up to my room and grabbed my camera. Hey, I may be brave, but I'm also smart enough to know when I'm outmatched! If I could just get the pictures into the right hands (ahem, the Sandbox Investigations Director Paul Mitton)…

Coming back down the stairs, I tripped, tumbling down, and tackled the poor, innocent cat. My mysterious intruder looked up, surprised, giving me a good look at his dark eyes. Then he turned and ran.

I jumped to my feet and raced after him, snapping pictures as fast as I could…

through the school room,
into the kitchen,
past the dining room table,
around the rocking chair,
down the hall,
out the front door…

Then he jumped into a silver car and sped away. License plate started with the characters "7DRA."

Disappointed, I went back inside to check the pictures. I had snapped 10 or so and only one of them came out—

—a picture of his hand with the ring as he swung around the rocking chair.

Now let me just say that my digital camera is not the best. I got it on sale for $80 a few years back. I was proud to have it—my first digital camera—but there is this 2-second delay between when I click the camera and the picture is actually taken. In that time, any moving target is gone.

Hey, if you have a problem with that, I'll email you my address, and you can ship me a new one. I mean, geez, I risked life and limb to bring you this story!

If anyone has any information about this ring or why GergisKhan was searching the Christmas presents under my tree, please let me know.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Disclaimer: This is a fictional story, written by reader input. Thanks to Carlos, Gwen, Renee, Joe, and Henry for their cooperation. You all have made this a joy to write.

This story is dedicated to the online Goodreads group On Fiction Writing and the authors of the Ménage à 20.


S.M. Carrière and Paige Ray both tagged me on their blogs. It's sort of a game. I'm to answer the same 26 questions and then tag 3 more authors.

So here goes:

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?
Other than blog entries, the last thing I wrote was Writer's Dream, a submission for Ménage à 20, which was accepted and then published in December 2009.

The first thing I ever wrote that I still have is a humorous description of how to navigate my childhood home, entering through my bedroom window and moving from one end of the house to the next. My mother read every word as though it was a treasure. From that day forward, I believed I was a writer. In reality, I had a long way to go.

2. Write poetry?
I write a silly line of poetry--here or there, mostly in emails--when the mood strikes. I especially like haikus. How's this for a silly haiku?

My orange is round
I named him Sam for I feel
Happy and Silly

My professor liked it but didn't know what it meant. He might not've liked it so much if he knew it didn't mean anything at all.

3. Angsty poetry?
Nah. I'm too much of a cup-is-half-full kind of girl.

4. Favourite genre of writing?
Science Fiction.

5. Most annoying character you've ever created?
Jaak from my story Scrolls was quite annoying before I edited. He had an ego problem, insisted he should be in charge, and was as wishy-washy as laundry. I had planned that he would be an honor bound warrior. Instead, he turned out to be just whiny and easily manipulated by T&A and a pretty smile.

6. Best plot you've ever created?
Secrets was my best plot, but maybe I'm biased by the fact that the POV was one of my favorite characters. I am in the process of editing this story now and will re-release it in a few weeks.

7. Coolest plot twist you've ever created?
For plot twists, Peering in the Window was the coolest, at least certainly the most fun to write. The story is about a lonely girl who doesn't fit in. When a man in her office takes interest in her, she's lost. To read more, check out the story in the Ménage à 20.

8. How often do you get writer's block?
I get "Writer's Distraction" more than writer's block. I have a tendency to check my mail or catch up on Goodreads during my writing time. Goodreads is so addictive.

9. Write fan fiction?
No, I'd rather work on something original.

10.Do you type or write by hand?
My hands would cramp too much if I wrote by hand.

11. Do you save everything you write?
I have a great deal that I have written over the years, but not all.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?
I have never abandoned an idea, but I did put aside my novel to work on shorter works. This year, I wanted to practice new ideas, styles, and techniques in order to grow as a writer. I saw my novel as being the only story for me, as if I was married to it, and taking a break in order to date--er, write--new stories made me realize that I'm not hemmed in.

13. What's your favourite thing you've ever written?
My novelette Dreams was by far my favorite story. Writing from a boy's perspective really pushed me.

14. What's everyone else's favourite story you've written?
The story Writer's Dream is the one that most people have responded to favorably. One friend didn't believe I'd written it because it was too good, he said. * sigh *

After much weeping, pouting, yelling, and stomping my feet, I have finally forgiven him. No, it didn't really take long. I laughed at him instead of having a temper tantrum.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen?
I have added romance to my stories, and I've had angsty teens--and angsty adults--here or there. But I've never written a story that was only romance or only angsty teen. I guess I write the story that needs to be told. The only labels I could put on my writing is Science Fiction or Fantasy (or both).

16. What's your favourite setting for your characters?
A spaceship.

17. How many writing projects are you working on now?
Seven. Four to be edited, two to be written, and one on hold.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?
There's always tomorrow.

19. What are your five favourite words?
I don't know if I have favorite words, but I do know some words I use a lot: There. Tada. and That's a good idea.

How do I know I say those words a lot? Because my kids say them to me a lot.

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?
They all are, to some extent. But most like me? Maybe Jadon. Maybe Barra. I'm not sure.

Maybe Lelea when I'm gluten free.

21. Where do you get your ideas for your characters?
Books, movies, and life. I'm a people watcher. In high school, I knew more about my classmates than their own friends did because I watched the expressions on their faces. Because I know myself, I can understand other people, put myself in their shoes.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Sometimes, I have some cool dreams, great adventures, but only once did I ever write from a dream. The story was Writer's Dream, in which Jason pursues a new career as a writer. But he's a man who is haunted by his own grief at the loss of his newborn son, hiding in anger and drowning himself in his whiskey bottle.

23. Do you favour happy endings?
I prefer to have an ending where the story continues without me, that when I close the book, I know the hero and heroine are still adventuring in the world that I just left. It's very hard to create such an ending.

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
To some extent, yes. I edit as I go, correcting typing errors, spelling and grammar, and sentence structure, but I also know that I will come back and edit several more times before I even let anyone see it. opposed to my early days of writing, where I tortured everybody as soon as I was done with the first draft.

25. Does music help you write?
Absolutely. With music, I fall into another dimension in which the story pores out. Once the CD ends, I lose my momentum even if I haven't actually noticed that the music is no longer playing.

26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops in your head.

From Scrolls:

When they reached the base of the tree, Lelea grinned down at them. She held a red ball in her hand, and she took a big bite from it. Inside, the red ball was white, and the juice dribbled down her chin. She grinned at them. "It's an apple," she declared happily. "Have one." She tossed one to Chester, who tried to catch but missed. The strange red apple fell to her feet.

Chester picked it up and eyed it suspiciously. Lelea tossed more apples down to the ground and then slid down to stand beside them. "You hold it like this," Lelea took Chester's hand and positioned the apple inside. Then she gently brought the apple to Chester's lips. "It's sweet," Lelea promised.

"What's 'sweet?'" Chester said, looking at the apple carefully.

"Sweet is a flavor." Lelea laughed. "Just try it. It didn't hurt me."

Jaak's stomach growled. What he wouldn't give for his ration bar or the occasional rat or roach that crept too close. But this apple—likely it would kill him in an hour.

Chester looked at Lelea as though inspecting her for deceit. "I guess," she said hesitantly. She took a bite, and her face broke into a smile. "How come we don't have any of these at home?"

The smile on Lelea's face died away, and tears spilled from her eyes. "The death of spring, the end of all," she said mysteriously. She held up a half-eaten apple and let it fall away from her hand. A dull thud echoed in their ears.

"She's mad," Ahern said.

One of the reasons that I liked this passage is because I had to teach my children how to hold an apple to eat it whole. They were used to getting apples already sliced, so when I handed them a big, red apple, they tried to eat it at the stem. Like Lelea did for Chester, I situated the apple in their hand, their thumb at the stem, their fingers at the bottom, and then I moved it to their mouths to show them where to eat. If you had never eaten an apple before, what kind of experience would it be?

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

So we now bestow this gift of tagging upon our fellow writers and friends:

Wendy Swore
Kate Quinn
Henry Lara

Makani Caught with a Book at 1 a.m.

At 7-years-old, Makani is an avid explorer. If there is anything to learn, a book to read, a frog to catch, a puzzle to solve, she will stop at nothing until she has mastered it. Somedays, we can't keep up with her voracious appetite for knowledge.

So, to catch her asleep with a book in hand surprised us. Not beacuse she had the book, but rather that she had fallen asleep before she had finished it, even if it was her third time to read it.

Querying Agents

Jump through a hoop, dance on one leg, wiggle your toes, walk while balancing a bowl of water on your head--and don't spill or you are out of the game--run naked through the streets of Nome in January. It would be easier to do any of those things than to get published, I think.

I just read the Jaquelyn Wheeler blog's description of finding an agent, a highly amusing and informative read.

Like her, I chose self-publishing for this very reason, but I have since learned that it takes a team to be successful--to proofread, edit, create cover art, build websites, market a book. No one lives or dies or succeeds alone. Going the traditional route gives you an experienced team to make your dreams come true.

And sometimes experience just means stodgy.

CJ Exposed

The room was dark with just enough light to keep me from bumping into anything.

A noise in the corner, like a shoe scuffing on the tile floor, and my heart leapt into my throat. I could barely breathe.

I stood still, hoping whoever it was didn't know I was there. My ears searched the room for the tiniest sound. Nothing. All was quiet.

I took another step and tripped over a chair in a loud clamor of clanging metal, cursing, and "ow, ow, my toe." It was too late to be quiet anyway.

Then with a knife to my back, I clamped my mouth shut. The pain in my toe was gone, forgotten.

"CJ, isn't it?" I whispered.

"Yes." His voice was husky. Maybe if I didn't have a knife to my back, I might even say sexy.

"You going to kill me?"


Maybe it was the training, years of drills with the Sandbox, but I couldn't help digging for more information...

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Rita: Who are you really?
CJ: I could answer 'a dreamer' but I would be playing with words. I'm a young man with old eyes.

Rita: Are you handsome or dark and brooding with anxious eyes?
CJ: Probably both. The great majority of the men and women I know have described me as a fascinating, if a little scary individual; cultured tramp, refined bum, sophisticate hobo; the man of such wit and devilish charisma that women want to mother and men to punch in the face. But the few people who know me, usually leave it at a man with the soul of a poet, the hands of a lover and the eyes of an artist.

Rita: If dark and brooding, can you be saved?
CJ: Since I don't believe in salvation or damnation the question is academic.

Rita: Who is currently in charge of the cult? You, Rico Suave, or GergisKhan?
CJ: Gengis Khan thinks he's running the show, but Rico Suave pulls the strings, as usual.

Rita: Do you peel your banana from the top or the bottom?
CJ: From the bottom, naturally. Tops are overated, I'll take bottoms anytime.

Rita: What will your next steps be? Revenge, take over the world, secure the harem?
CJ: Since the world is a huge harem, I might as well take it over.

Rita: What is your favorite type of donut?
CJ: The one sampled in small bites, in that delicious twilight between sleep and wakefulness to the contented purr, next to my ear, of a two-legged feline.

Rita: How do you take your coffee? No, we're not asking because we're going to poison it.
CJ: Shared, creamy, and preferably to dunking the aforementioned donut.

Rita: Who was the mysterious man that died when taken into custody after the police mistook him for you?
CJ: Balthazar Ho, a Sino-Jordanian professor of subliminal callisthenics at Upper Volta University, was an extraordinary man. Slight of body, with piercing eyes and a clown smile, he would stroll under the stands of acacias flanking the campus, listening to the rustle of leaves and the clicks of insects. Throughout his life, he searched for a woman, a unique woman with whom to share meaningful silences, and welcome dawns holding hands as the stars fade before blushing clouds. Someone had beaten him to her, so he searched in vain. Disheartened from his hopeless quest, he considered monastic life. I convinced him that the slammer was more fun and he jumped at the opportunity.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

I was out of questions, and the knife pressed closer. I could tell that this would be one of those days that I'd regret not wearing that methril coat for special occasions.

Just then the curtains blurred as if blowing in the wind, and then they detached from the wall, coming at me like a ghost. CJ spun about and ran from the room, the blur chasing after him.

I reached for my back. There was a hole in my shirt, but my skin was intact. I breathed a sigh of relief. Once again, I had eluded death.

Disclaimer: This is a fictional story, written by reader input. Thanks to Carlos, Gwen, Renee, Joe, and Henry for their cooperation. You all have made this a joy to write.

This story is dedicated to the online Goodreads group On Fiction Writing and the authors of the Ménage à 20.

Review of The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks

The intense introduction of this book did not disappoint me. Brent Weeks fulfiled his promise of an amazing adventure in this assassin's tale.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the characters. Azoth is very complex. As a wetboy's apprentice, he knows how to fight, to poison, to leave no witnesses, to become the shadow of the night. But there is one thing he cannot do--the one thing that he swore to his master he would do--and that is to stop loving Doll Girl.

I've written and rewritten this review in hopes of being able to summarize this story adequately. My words just don't seem to do it justice. So I decided to let the author tell the story himself by sharing some of my favorite quotes:

A wetboy was like an assassin--in the way a tiger is like a kitten.
--The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks, page 4

"Life is empty. When we take a life, we aren't taking anything of value. Wetboys are killers. That's all we do. That's all we are. There are no poets in the bitter business," Blint said. "You aren't making art, you're making corpses. Dead is dead ... Don't play with your kills. Don't go for the one-thrust beautiful finish. Cut someone twenty times and let them collapse from blood loss--then finish them. You aren't making art, you're making corpses."
--The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks, page 92

"You're not shit unless I say so!" the king said. He strode forward, coming down his double flight of seven steps to stand in front of Durzo. Tactically, a poor move. He was now blocking at least three of the archer's shots. "You're . . . you're shit! You shitting, shitting shit!"

"Your Majesty," Durzo said gravely. "A man of your stature's cursing vocabulary ought to extend beyond a tedious reiteration of the excreta that fills the void between his ears."

The king looked momentarily confused.
--The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks, page 368

10 things I don't want for xmas

1. Smelly Candles that TJ won't let me even burn

2. Stinky Lotions that make me sneeze

3. Silly Knickknacks that I have no use for

4. a Hippopotamus because I'd have no place to put it

5. my Two Front Teeth because I already have them

6. Christmas Cookies that I can't eat because they are made with wheat

7. another Warm Coat as somebody gets me one almost every year. There's only so many coats a girl can wear at one time. Though I could always use gloves. I've always wanted some of those colorful ones.

8. a Brand New Car because I think those get-him-or-her-a-Lexus-for-Christmas commercials are silly. What will you do next year when you are still paying for this year?

9. CD of Christmas classics because I can't stand Xmas music

10. a Sweater because no one seems to know my colors like I do. If I say I like green, they get neon.

So what do I want? A cup of hot cocoa, warm fuzzy slippers, and the chance to curl up in front of a warm fire, cuddled up to TJ. I'm a simple girl who loves simple pleasures.

The Chase Is On

Paul Mitton, the Sandbox Investigation Director, announced yesterday in a publicly released statement that the stolen corpse was not the body of the cultist/terrorist CJ. The DNA sample still available in the morgue revealed that the man was John Doe, a cult member whose face had been altered with plastic surgery.

On December 2, 2009, police caught John Doe when he attempted to elude authorities. Doe died after swallowing a red earring that contained poison. The body was stolen after Doe's funeral on December 9th.

Currently, authorities search for CJ across continents. Sightings of the elusive CJ have been reported throughout the world. It is believed that many of these reports are erroneous. "There is no way that CJ could possibly be in Moscow and in Washington DC on the same day," reported Mitton.

Some rumors have been circulating that an unknown entity cloned CJ, but this cannot be confirmed or denied. Scientists are currently investigating a medical facility in the South Pacific.

In other news, Rico Suave was last seen in Boston, MA, where he shortly disappeared. No further sign of him has been discovered at this time.

If you have seen either CJ or Rico Suave or know their whereabouts, please do not confront them. I repeat, do not approach these very dangerous individuals. Please contact your local authorities or leave a message here. All information that you give will be compiled and given to the FBI/CIA for further investigation.

Disclaimer: This is a fictional story, written by reader input. Thanks to Gwen, Renee, Joe, and Henry for their cooperation. Thank you to Carlos for his sense of humor. At least, I hope he has a sense of humor.

This story is dedicated to the online Goodreads group On Fiction Writing and the authors of the Ménage à 20.

Plain Donuts by Diane Condon-boutier

Once a week, I go to a bakery. Lined up in rows are cupcakes, shortbreads, pumpkin bars, lemon cheescakes. Every week, I get the joy of picking out one special treat, my only treat for the week, and I always choose something different. Last night, it was a brownie with a chocolate fudge raspberry icing. With Irish cream coffee, of course.

So Diane's story Plain Donuts made quite an impact on me. My husband said, "Yes, that could have been you." Except, after all that studying and dreaming, I never would have picked plain. No, I would have gone for something special, perhaps one with nuts or cream filling or chocolate.

Of all the stories in the Ménage à 20 anthology, I think Plain Donuts stands out the most in my mind, not necessarily as my favorite, but as the one that haunts me. There is a hidden tale that speaks to me, reminds me of the gift life is, and calls me to enjoy the experience before me. There's wisdom in that small gesture, in appreciating, savoring, the good things we've been given.

I contacted Diane and asked her for an interview. She wrote back with some comments about what inspired the story and her own take on breakfast.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Well, I do love to go to donut shops when I'm visiting home in the States, and I've always wondered who ordered the plain ones. Why would anyone do that? There's such an orgy of colors, flavors and unique combinations of jams and chocolat, that plain just seems inconceivable. Until one day I realized that sometimes it's not what you eat, but where you eat it, and who you're with.

You mentioned breakfast. A bowl of cereal scarfed down standing in front of the sink followed by a mug of coffee while driving to work is feeding your body: necessary but devoid of much pleasure. The same mug of coffee and bowl of rice krispies can be savored outside on the patio furniture on a sunny day with somebody you like to talk to. While all of our days aren't sunny, it sure makes you like the ones that are. And your rice krispies taste a whole lot better if you put a banana in them and smile at the person you love who's sitting next to you, talking about the day to come, or what your plans for the weekend are.

So, you can imagine all the fun you could have with exotic donuts....right? However, some people simply like the plain ones, shared with somebody special. That special person can be yourself, if you take the time to chew slowly and enjoy the flavor. Life rushes by so quickly that sometimes you forget to chew it. I know people who have indigestion of life because of that very thoughtless consumption of it. As you mentioned before, wisdom can come from enjoying your breakfast.....

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

If only she were at our house, she could enjoy her breakfast with 3 children who dance about the table after every bite.

You can download this story for free by going to the Ménage à 20 site. If you would like to discuss the story with the author or with other readers, please check out the author groups on Facebook and Goodreads.

5 Tips on Writing Blurby Blurbs

1. Don't write a summary.
Summaries are boring. Summaries don't catch your eye. Summaries don't make you take the book to the check out counter.

2. Imagine you are a news reporter.
What would your reporter see as news worthy? Murder, heroes, monsters. How would the ten o'clock news talk about such events.

3. Think about the headlines.
The headlines have to be eye catching. Pay attention to the blog titles, the magazine articles, the newspaper posts you read. Why did that headline catch your eye? What in your story deserves such a headline?

4. Practice writing headlines about mundane matters in your life.
Write a blurb, consisting of strung together headlines, about your new car, your kids, your spouse, your friends, your job, your grocery list. Hey, they make headlines for the supermarket ads!

5. Practice writing blurby reviews about the books you read.
Sometimes it is easier to see the headlines about somebody's else's work. So when you write a book review for your blog or for Goodreads, practice these blurby techniques.

Where in the World is CJ?

In the news article Police Caught Cultist Responsible for Idaho Terrorist Act, an anonymous message was left indicating that CJ may yet be alive.

Anonymous Said...
How dare you? You though a bunch of puny SWAT jokers could get rid of me?

My döppelganger fooled you all with his capsule-in-a-ring routine--rest in peace.

The itches will start soon from the mites and bedbugs infestation I've sent your way... about now. And this is only the beginning.

My revenge will be terrible.


If anyone has spotted or knows the whereabouts of this villain, please leave a comment. The Webb Times reporters are currently trying to track down this criminal.

Rico Suave

Messages left after Renee's interview indicated that CJ's acolyte Rico Suave had taken over the cult:

Information has come to light indicating that he was training an acolyte to assume his mantle after his demise.

We have npo [sic] conclusive proof of the inheritor's identity yet, but know that he sometimes answers to the name of Rico Suave

--Anonymous Poster

After much research, Webb Times reporters found an email address for Rico Suave and sent the new cult leader some questions.

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Rita: What was it like as an acolyte under CJ?

Rico Suave: Unnerving, exhilarating, impelling and I would dare to say, alluring.

Rita: How did you get involved in this cult group?

Rico Suave: I do not know. I know only that once I was a man, with a mind of my own. I had a job, and a cozy apartment I called home. Day after day I toiled in one of the towers at the heart of my city, making the numbers balance for one of those pointless endeavors men called "business".

One day I dreamed of being a writer. It was then that CJ came. From where I do not know, although a vague memory tells me of a time when I heard of a "Perfect Circle" and "The Prisoner" destined to be free.

"This is good," I thought. And it was indeed good.

Then the world changed, and it got quiet, and CJ sent us out. We walked and we laughed and we thought our actions were our own, but they were not. We would gather in places without knowing how it was that we knew where to go; my days became haunted by images of events, terrible events involving fire, and animals, and other...things. They were like dreams, only that deep in the crevices of my mind I knew they were not. I would look at people I didn't know, but know nonetheless. We would share a knowing glance, for we knew what the other thought.

CJ. He has come. It was he that lead us on, an army numbering in the millions, guarding his harems, doing his bidding. All of us mindless, voiceless, a whole whose soul was CJ.

Wait what was the question?

Rita: As the new cult leader, what can the public expect?

Rico Suave: Mwahahahahaha!

Rita: What kind of donuts do you like?

Rico Suave: Boston Cream!!! Anything with coconut comes a close second.

Rita: If you could be a fruit, what would it be and why?

Rico Suave: Banana.


Rita: Well, there you have it folks. The Banana known as Rico Suave is ready to take over the world.

Disclaimer: This is a fictional story and in no way represents real events.

Written in honor of the members of the On Fiction Writing group. Thank you to Renee, Carlos, Wendy, Paul, Joe, and Henry for their cooperation.

Please check out the Ménage à 20 for more great stories by Twenty Goodreads Authors, some of which have contributed to or have been referenced in this story.

Sandbox Interrogation of the Mysterious GergisKhan

The body of cultist CJ was stolen by a mysterious character known only as GergisKhan, according to comments left in response to an interview with the Sandbox member Renee.

GergisKhan said...
Silently, stealthily, the figure moved towards the goal. To the casual observer, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Just another tech wheeling just another body to a non-descript room in a no-name mortuary in some podunk town.

Yet, what is ordinary, in death? Is death not that ultimate voyage from which no one has returned, at least in recent history, to tell us the tale of what lies beyond?

And so, in a most un-ordinary fashion, what seemed like the standard preparations for a viewing turned into something far more sinister. The casual observer saw a mortuary technician wheeling a body, draped with a sheet, from one room to another. Few people suspected, let alone knew, that it would be the last time either were seen. And it only took five hours for anything wrong to be noticed.

Going deep undercover, reporter for the Webb Times intercepted the following conversation:

The Sandbox: State your real name, rank, and serial number.

GergisKhan: Pavel Andreievich Chekov. Rank - Admiral. Serial number 656-5827B

The Sandbox: Are you a threat to the security of The Sandbox?

GergisKhan: What is secure? How do you define 'secure'?

The Sandbox: Don't be smart with me, Mr. Khan. Answer the question: Are you or are you not in contact with Rico Suave?

GergisKhan: I am not familiar with the man formerly known as Gerardo.

The Sandbox: What is your stake in this situation? Why did you steal the body?

GergisKhan: Steal what body? Body? I ain't seen no body!

The Sandbox: Where were you on the night of January 22, 2006?

GergisKhan: Hmmmm. I actually know the answer to this one. I was on my couch, I believe. I was recovering from a back injury.

The Sandbox: If you could be any animal what would you be and why?

GergisKhan: I already AM an animal. Animalia Chordata Mammalia Primate Hominidae Homo Sapien. And I have no choice but to be one in the matter.

The Sandbox: Smartass. What type of donut do you like with your coffee?

GergisKhan: Crullers are nice.

The Sandbox: Good thing you didn't pick plain; we'd have had to kill you instantly. Do you like shark soup?

GergisKhan: A more appropriate question is whether sharks like Khan Soup.

The Sandbox: You imagine yourself to be a dangerous man, Mr. Khan. I don't recommend that you play games with us. Answer our final question or die: what island in the Caribbean would you prefer to live?

GergisKhan: 25N 71W

The Sandbox: Clever. Thank you, Mr. Khan, that is all we need for now. Please, don't travel too far for a while. We'll be watching. In the meantime, please read your copy of the Ménage à 20; perhaps all could be forgiven.

A Night of Music

Last night, my husband waited for me in the parking lot of my work place, ready to whisk me away for a night on the town. I knew this would happen, but where we were going, I had no clue. After dinner at a steakhouse--mmm, rack of lamb--we went to downtown Cincinnati to an orchestral performance of Star Wars.

There is something about live music, kerfluffing me all the way down to my toes, as though it envelops me in a soft warm blanket, soothing, warming, satisfying, spreading through me like a fine wine.

The music wakened something inside me, the internal core of who I am which I had lost in the hours focused on my writing. A person can only take so many hours of work a week. Today was a day for living--a walk in the park, a bubble bath, cuddles with kids, time for games with friends. What a beautiful day!


You have reached Rita's blog, but she is not here right now. She has been kidnapped for the evening and will return in the morning. If you need to contact her, please leave a message after the beep.

* Beep *

Special Report: The Body of Cultist CJ is Missing

Funeral Picture by Luis Cano,
Back Cover Picture of the Ménage à 20 anthology

After the funeral for cult terrorist CJ, held yesterday, December 9th, 2009, the body has disappeared, reports the funeral director, name withheld. "I went to cremate him after the funeral," the director said, "but the casket was empty."

The CIA and the FBI still refuse to answer questions. It is unknown whether authorities believe CJ to be alive or dead at this time.

In the meantime, please check out the Ménage à 20 web site for your free download or purchase your paperback or hardback copy.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

This series of short stories is dedicated to Renee, Carlos, Paul, and Wendy. You can read more here:

Terrorist Attack in Pocatello, ID
Police Caught Cultist Responsible for Terrorist Attack
Exclusive Interview of Renee, Sandbox Member

Exclusive Interview with Renee, Sandbox Member

Authorities are still at a loss to explain the recent events that led to the mysterious suicide of the cult terrorist CJ. Renee Miller-Johnston, a member of the secret society The Sandbox, a human-interest group, reluctantly agreed to an interview with Webb Times. Perhaps she can shed some light on the Pocatello attack that occurred in the summer of 2009.

Rita: The question of the decade: Who is the mysterious CJ? Everyone wants to know.

Renee: I'm afraid we must keep CJ's identity a secret, for his identity could expose the Sandbox. I will say, he is a very talented and respected author. He has a way with the ladies; I'm not sure I've ever seen one come away unscathed, or quite the same after an encounter with him. This is why it was imperative that he be stopped. Can you imagine the power he would hold should he manage to seduce a larger portion of the female population? Terrifying.

Rita: How did the Sandbox get involved in solving this crime?

Renee: Several members of the Sandbox happened to be watching a friend's farm while she was away. Little did they know the madness that would ensue next door. CJ went nuts, drunk on his own power, painting barns, plucking chickens, burning piles of manure. His followers would do whatever he asked; it was escalating out of control. I can't imagine what would have happened if we hadn't been there. I'm sure the pigs would have been next. We wanted to take him alive, to examine him and figure out just what it is he has that these women want and how much he really knows about the Sandbox. Now, we'll never know.

Rita: You mention the Sandbox a lot. They seem to have eyes and ears everywhere. Who are these secret people in this secret society known as the Sandbox?

Renee: The Sandbox is a secret society of writers. Of course, we do much more than write, but our other activities must remain secret. I'm sorry, but I'm sure you understand. Should I reveal what we do I could vanish without a trace. I don't want to do that. I'm not at liberty to reveal the other members' identities. Some of them are in deep cover, so to name them would ruin their current operations. Perhaps some day we'll be able to come out more fully into the open. I don't do undercover work, so my identity isn't secret. I'm far too public to do undercover. People always find me out.

Rita: Now that CJ is dead, what will the Sandbox do next? After the funeral, of course.

Renee: As for what we'll do now--we're waiting until after the funeral to decide. There are several members of CJ's harem waiting in the wings, hoping to get even. Then there's the matter of the body. Until we see a body, we will not have confirmation that CJ is in fact dead. He is a slippery individual. Those women would do anything for him. I wouldn't put it past them to stage his death using some other poor fool in his place. The plan is to confirm that he is dead, and then move on to other lesser threats. Maybe we'll write something. It's been a while since we've had time to do that. CJ has kept us very busy.

Written in dedication to Renee, Paul, Wendy, and Carlos. Thanks for your sense of humor.

Also dedicated to OFW and the authors of the Ménage à 20.

Out of Focus

I have returned to the real world and have found that in my absence my body was not well taken-care-of. Three days, lost in a place where assassins lurk, where the good guys are only slightly better than the bad, shere the enemies are poised to invade, and where, in the end, the city is blown to smithereens, I find that I did not get much sleep.

I am looking at my computer and can only see it if I squint. I can't seem to focus, and my mind is as bleary as tea. Is tea bleary? I'm not sure.

The short of it is that this teleporting in and out of strange worlds is not good for the health. Maybe I should take a few days off, stay home, prop up my feet, and sleep rather than picking up the next book in the series.

Intense Intros

I just started this book The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks. Within the 1st chapter, a mere 6 pages, there are no less than 7 highly stressful situations, each worse than the last.

Mr. Weeks starts off with suppressed action: "Azoth squatted in the alley, cold mud squishing through his bare toes." This is a very unassuming sentence, simple, almost bland. Nothing is happening. No dialog. No danger. No stress. But there are two very important things that happens in this first sentence: squatting and squishing.

To squat requires tense muscles, as if one was about to spring into action. This gives the reader the sensation that something interesting is about to happen, much more than, say, standing. Standing in an alley seems very ordinary. No tense muscles for that.

And cold mud squishing through your toes gives a very real sensation to the reader. Cold. Mud. Squishing. Bare. Toes. Each word has a sensual reaction within me. I can feel my toes, squishing in the mud.

First Problem
The next paragraphs show the kid climbing into a small crawlspace under a tavern to find coppers that had slipped through the building's bamboo floor by drunken. In this crawlspace are spiders, cockroaches, rats, and a wild tom-cat, but that isn't his primary concern. Patrons, stepping overhead, could press the bamboo into his back, pinning him. He must maneuver carefully. Or he would get stuck like he did last time.

Second Problem
He must collect 4 coppers to give to Rat for his guild dues, or Rat will beat, possibly to death like he did Little last week.

Third Problem
His shirt catches on a piece of splintered wood, and he can't get loose.

Fourth Problem
The room above is occupied by arguing assassins. Azoth is likely witnessing something that could get him murdered.

Fifth Problem
The first problem became reality when one of the assassins steps on his back and slams his face under a muddy puddle. In his surprise, he almost breathed in the water, which would have revealed his presence to the assassins.

Sixth Problem
As the fight occurs over his head, he realizes that something is crawling up his leg. Too small to be a cockroach. It had to be a white wolf spider. If it bit him, not even a healer could save his leg. He must not squirm or it'll bite. Furthermore, he must move his waist band to let the spider out.

Seventh Problem
The spider crawls onto his thumb, and he looks at it. It is the white wolf spider he thought it would be, and he flings it away. Then he reaches for the splintered branch to break it off, to set himself free. The sound echoes in the eerie silence after the fight between the assassins. Who is left? Did they hear him?

Eighth Problem
As he crawls out, 6 coppers in hand, a sword is struck through the floor and into the mud, barring his escape.

So there are four basic problems throughout the chapter: the space he had to work with, the possibility of being pinned by the bamboo floor, the poisonous spiders, and the assassins over his head.

One thing I liked about how the author handled the scene is that each possible danger took its swipe at the kid, some at the same time.

Yes, this book holds much promise. I must go now. I have something I must read.

*big grin*

Writer's Dream cloud

Here's the cloud for Writer's Dream, one of my short stories that will be published in the Ménage-à-20 anthology.

Okay, I'm having way too much fun with this thing. Go make your own at, post it on your own web site, and leave a link here for others to check yours out.

Police Caught Cultist Responsible for Idaho Terrorist Act

A member of the human-interest group The Sandbox reported vital information last week to authorities that led to the whereabouts of the famous cultist that was allegedly responsible for the terrorist attack of a farm outside Pocatello, Idaho.

"He was lurking in some online chatroom," Mark Anderson, sheriff of Pocatello, said in an exclusive interview with Webb Times Newspaper. "We lured him out, but he caught onto us and slipped away."

After leading police on a high speed chase through the Idaho country roads, the cultist known only as CJ died shortly after being taken into custody. The coroner's report revealed poison.

"A secret compartment in his ring held a red capsule," Anderson said. "There was nothing that we could have done."

The police are still baffled as to who the mysterious cultist, code name CJ, is. The trail led to Barcelona, Spain, and then died. "It is as though he never existed prior to the week before the attack," Anderson said. Local authorities are currently talking to the FBI and CIA, which have refused to answer questions.

Funeral arrangements for CJ have been arranged by The Sandbox and will be held December 9th. Speaking with Webb Times anonymously, one Sandbox member said, "No one, not even a terrorist, should be buried without a proper service."

Written in dedication to Renee, Paul, Wendy, and Carlos. Thanks for your sense of humor.

Also dedicated to OFW and the authors of the Ménage-à-20.


Pretty, isn't it? It's composed of the words from my blog, my own personal cloud.

Just go to and you can create your own cloud by copying/pasting text or by entering a web address.

You can use it to make T-shirts, to check your most used words within a story, to decorate your blog, or maybe even make a book cover...

What would you use it for?