Articles for the Month of March 2016

Teaser Thursday- Love Like Vampires

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By the time they went back inside, Shane was breathing easily and the tightness in his chest had let up. None of the arguments among the band had become too serious, at least not with their current lineup, but he was always afraid they might, and then everything would fall apart. He and Thaniel had been through it with five different guys already, guys who wanted to write songs that didn’t match the band’s style, or who were pissy because Thaniel let Shane have too much say in how the band ran.

Thaniel had always had his back, even when their first drummer had called Shane a “fucking faggot” the day Shane came out. Shane had had to hold Thaniel back from beating the shit out of the guy.

Good times. Shane hadn’t exactly enjoyed being treated crappy merely because he’d finally had the guts to admit something most people had figured out years earlier. Having Thaniel not only accept it but defend him had helped.

Right now, the band had it pretty good. Their current lineup gelled, and everyone agreed on musical style and where they wanted the band to go. Bryan and Jace were too laid back, and Todd was too busy, to care who ran things, as long as they didn’t have to. They all had about the same level of skills, and none of them gave a damn about each other’s sexuality.

But something was broken. Shane couldn’t put his finger on it and didn’t really want to. He only knew the band wasn’t as connected as they had been, and that might mean Love Like Vampires would fall apart.

He took another breath as he and Todd followed Thaniel to the area they’d been assigned to hang out in during Jareth’s part of the show. The argument had ended. Everything was cool.

Bryan and Jace were already in the designated spot, sipping bottles of water and talking to one of Jareth’s musicians. Both of them stood mostly still, mellow expressions on their faces. At least Jace wouldn’t get on anyone’s nerves for a while.

“Ready for this?” Bryan asked as they took their seats. “This is where we’re heading in a year or two if we keep it up.”

“I sure as fuck hope so.” Thaniel slid down in his seat and grabbed a bottle from the cooler between his chair and Bryan’s. “Two albums and a ton of frigging shows, and we still aren’t hitting what we should be.”

“We’ll get there.” Shane took the seat on the other side of Thaniel and mentally prepared the usual pep talk. Every single time they played a show, Thaniel ended up griping about what they should have been doing. From the second the guy had said, “Hey, we should start a band,” he’d had plans. The plans hadn’t worked out yet, and it irked the hell out of Thaniel.

Compatibility

Sometimes when you meet a new person, you feel an instant “click.” This is someone you want to get to know better. Someone you can see being part of your life in one way or another. Someone you believe you’re compatible with.

That someone might be the person you spend the rest of your life with, if you are actually as compatible as you believe the first time you meet. Or even if you don’t feel it at that first meeting. Compatibility doesn’t have to be instant. Sometimes it grows over time, and you end up with a person you might consider your soul mate.

But sometimes it decreases over time. Whether you feel that click the first time you meet or it develops more gradually, as more time passes, you might realize that you and that person aren’t as compatible as you believed. Maybe not at all, or maybe just not in some ways. Those can be some pretty big ways, though, like finding out one of you wants to get married and have kids, while the other is happy just living together.

When compatibility fades into incompatibility, it might mean the end of the relationship if there’s no way to compromise. Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to compromise is for one person to completely change who they are or what they want, and that isn’t really fair. (In my opinion it also isn’t really a compromise; compromise means meeting partway, not one person doing all the work while the other stays where they are.)

When you find someone you’re compatible with, it might lead into a lifelong relationship…or it might not. But if you feel that click with someone, it’s worth taking the chance.

Teaser Thursday- With Every Touch

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Sheila nibbled at the bits of lobster in her sandwich and willed back her tears as lightning flashed outside the window beside her. She had left her hometown as soon as she had graduated university, twelve years earlier, and she hadn’t looked back since. She didn’t need to think about it now, and she definitely didn’t need to think about Jack, no matter how difficult it was to put him out of her mind.

After moving to the city, she’d gotten help to deal with the emotional scars Jack had left. She hadn’t been able to do anything about the physical ones.

It was in the past now, and she wanted to focus on her present. She wasn’t even sure why she had brought it up to Erich. Part of her was surprised he hadn’t walked away. Most guys didn’t want to deal with a woman who’d been damaged the way she had.

Most guys didn’t even earn enough of her trust to hear about her life before Portland, but Erich’s calm demeanor encouraged her to trust him.

“These lobster rolls are excellent,” Erich said.

“Yeah.” Sheila glanced at him. No judgment, no discomfort. He took a bite of his sandwich and smiled as he chewed.

He might be a guy worth knowing better. Maybe having around more.

She dismissed the thought immediately. Neither of them wanted a relationship, and she hoped to move to Boston soon. If she repeated that to herself enough times, it might get through. She couldn’t have Erich around her more than a friend would be. There was no point in even thinking about it.

She wouldn’t have wanted him to be with her constantly anyway. She didn’t have time or patience for it.

“I want to say something to make you smile,” Erich said. “I’m not having much luck thinking of anything.”

“It isn’t your job to entertain me.” She ate another fry. It tasted like cardboard around the lump that had risen through her throat.

“Something hit a nerve.” He held out his hand. Although Sheila wanted the physical contact, she didn’t take it. It would only have given her comfort, which would have been a bad thing when she was so close to losing her cool and bursting into tears.

Erich hesitated a moment before resting his hand on the table. “I don’t know if it was something I said or something you said. Either way, it happened while we were talking, and I want to help.”

“I don’t want to spill my sordid past.” She twisted her mouth in something that felt close enough to a smile and took a sip of her soda. “No issue. Memories are crap sometimes, but the good thing is they’re in the past. I want to think about now.”

“Well, right now there’s a hell of a thunderstorm going on outside.” A crash of thunder punctuated his words. “You’re not looking at the lightning. It’s pretty spectacular.”

Sheila turned to the window just as a bolt of forked lightning shot from the clouds to the surface of the water. It was beautiful and exciting, and she couldn’t help smiling. “God, I love that! I wish I was out there.”

“You might get struck,” Erich pointed out.

“Stop being reasonable.” She stuck out her tongue at him, and he laughed. So did she. Something about thunderstorms—the power, the electricity in the air, and the beauty of the lightning had always lifted her mood. Now she was able to dismiss the tears and memories. They couldn’t stand up to the crashing thunder and waves.

She wanted to be outside. It was pouring hard enough that the water looked like sheets running down the window, and judging from how closely thunder followed on the heels of each lightning bolt, the storm was close to overhead. It didn’t matter. She needed to be outside.

Pushing Too Far

In my opinion, trying new things is good. Making changes that benefit you and improve your life is good. Pushing your comfort zones is good.

But there is such a thing as pushing too far, or trying to go too fast, and that can cause problems. Change, even when it’s positive, can be scary and painful, and sometimes if you try to change too much at once, it can backfire on you. Especially if you’re making any of those changes because someone else told you to, and not because you actually see a need to. It’s usually easier to do something of our own volition than because someone else says we have to.

Life is not a stationary thing. From the moment we’re born, we’re learning, growing, and changing. And a lot of us have times in our lives when there are a number of things that all seem to need to change at once. That can be overwhelming, and sometimes it makes us shut down or withdraw from people we care about.

When you have something in your life that’s changing, whether it’s something you’ve chosen to learn, or something about yourself that you want to alter, or something that isn’t entirely within your control but you have to get used to (like a breakup, losing a job, having a child, etc.), if you can take your time, do so. Go as slowly as you’re able to give yourself time to adjust. Be kind to yourself if it takes longer than you’d like. Ask for support from people you trust, even if all they can give you for support is “You can do it.”

Change is difficult, no matter how positive it ultimately turns out to be, and it’s important not to push yourself too far too fast. You can do it, even if it takes longer than you’d like.

Teaser Thursday- Dawn Over Dayfield

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Weston didn’t say another word until they were inside the historical society room. He took off his denim jacket and draped it over a chair, then cracked his knuckles. “My dad has a lot of friends in town, and they keep him informed of what’s going on. Including the fact that a Chaffee is poking around. Why are you going into the diner? Didn’t you learn anything yesterday?”

“I learned they have good food.” Andy shook his head. “Why do I feel like I’m in a horror novel or something? Stay away from the town, or they’ll possess you and eat you alive.”

“That’s how some small towns are,” Weston muttered. “You had a run-in this morning.”

“A couple of guys in the diner weren’t thrilled with me being there, but Rich shut them up.” Andy paused. “After I told him to get over himself.”

Weston’s frown deepened. “I heard about that too. Maybe you should take the books back to Boston and mail them to me when you’re finished.”

Andy stared at him. “Kicking me out of town? I wouldn’t have figured you’d agree with the general public.”

“I don’t, but Dad said Ernie implied you’d better get out of here sooner than later.”

Andy had no clue which of the men in the diner was Ernie. Nor did he care. He wasn’t about to leave because of a dickwad blustering over the phone. “I’ll get out of here when I’m finished what I came here for. Matt over in the photo shop doesn’t seem to hate me, at least.”

“Matt’s a little different. He’s a townie, but he tries to keep an open mind most of the time.” Weston nodded toward the bag Andy was still holding. “You bought a photo?”

“He gave it to me. It’s the factory.” Andy hesitated. “I haven’t seen the factory yet.”

“Do you want to?” Weston sounded surprised.

“It’s part of the family history, right?” Andy wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to visit the place, but since he was in town, it wouldn’t hurt.

“In a way, I guess. Not a pleasant part.” Weston walked over to one of the bookcases and ran his finger over the spines on one shelf. “I have a book about the factory here somewhere. When it started, when the Chaffees took over, all of that. Maybe you should read it first.”

“Sure.” Andy didn’t see why he needed to read a book before visiting the factory, but he appreciated Weston’s willingness to help.

“So are you planning to hang out here again today?” Weston asked. “You took all those books yesterday. I figured you’d spend the day reading at the motel.”

Andy hesitated. They were barely at the friendly acquaintance stage, and he wasn’t the kind to admit an attraction to someone after knowing them such a short time. He’d learned to be cautious.

But Weston was worth taking the chance. Worst case, Andy would avoid the library for the rest of his time in the area, except to return the books he’d borrowed.

He smiled. “I wanted the company.”

Weston glanced over his shoulder. “You did, huh?”

“Yeah.”

“Cool. I don’t mind the company either.” Weston turned back to the books. “Here it is.”

“Okay.” That’s it? We say we like being around each other and then go back to talking about books?

Then again, he didn’t know what else he’d expected

Being Overwhelmed

Sometimes it seems like there are just too many things to do and not enough time to do all of them. Or any of them, once in a while.

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of times like that. I had two books release within less than a week, one under each of my two pen names, and that led to trying to scramble to promote both of them. I’ve been trying to help my 17-year-old with college applications and the dreaded financial aid applications, as well as trying to give her moral support about her classwork. I have a couple of writing projects I’m working on, and was just given another by a friend.

And then there’s housework. And appointments. And errands. And… auuughhh!

Fortunately, I have a group of really good friends who’ve had their own “auuughhh!” moments from time to time, and who understand having too much to do. Over the weekend, I reached out to them and asked for whatever help, support, and encouragement they could give. And all of them agreed to help in one way or another, whether it’s helping me break down some large tasks into smaller bits (which is always difficult for me), or being a “brainstorm buddy” for the stories I’m working on, or just reminding me I’m capable of getting these things done and telling me to stop procrastinating.

It isn’t always easy to reach out and ask for help, especially knowing that you aren’t the only one who gets overwhelmed and has a lot to do. But it’s always good to have support, and the people in your life don’t know you need support if you don’t ask.

Teaser Thursday- Dawn Over Dayfield

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This room smelled even more of old things and dust, and Andy stifled a cough. Around him, papers were crammed between books or piled in unsteady stacks. Andy saw no one else in the room.

He cleared his throat. “Hello?”

“Oh. Hang on.”

Andy waited, rocking slightly back and forth on his feet. A slim man who barely reached Andy’s shoulder walked out from between two shelving units. His brown hair was tousled, and a small gold hoop adorned each ear and one eyebrow. He had a sparse mustache and goatee, and his brown eyes gleamed even in the dim light.

He seemed as out of place in Dayfield as the elderly librarian would have been in downtown Boston.

Andy cleared his throat again and tried to moisten his dry lips. “Hi. I’m Andy Forrest. She, um, the librarian said she told you I’d be here today?”

“Yeah.” The man’s face crinkled into something resembling a smile. He held out his hand. “Weston Thibeault. Historian, such as it is.”

Andy shook hands with him. “Nice to meet you.”

“Likewise, though I wish it was in a nicer place.” Weston grimaced. “Sorry. I tend to be a bit cynical about this town. No reason for it to spill over on you. You won’t be here long, I take it.”

“How long I stay depends on how easy it is to find the information I need.” Andy glanced around.

Weston chuckled. “Yeah, it’s kind of a mess, isn’t it? People keep dropping off stuff they figure I can shoehorn in. Which I sort of can, but it isn’t a matter of simply shoving things onto shelves. There is, believe it or not, a system, and I haven’t had much time lately to put things away.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

“You’re going to have to. I’m the only one who knows where things are around here.” Weston gestured at the nearest shelves. “This is what a degree in history gets you. So Mildred said you want to find out about a family from Dayfield?”

“Yeah.” Andy hadn’t given the librarian the whole story when he’d called. There were some things he wasn’t comfortable saying over the phone. And after the way the woman—Mildred, he guessed—had greeted him, Andy doubted he would ever be comfortable enough to tell her anything. “My birth father’s from here.”

Weston raised his pierced eyebrow. “You’re adopted?”

“Yeah.” Andy braced himself for the myriad questions he generally got when people found out he’d been “given away.” Questions which, for the most part, he couldn’t answer.

“What about your birth mother?” Weston asked.

“I think she lives on the North Shore. At least, that’s where she was living when I was born, as far as I know.”

“She might have moved since.” Weston paused. “What are their names? If one or maybe both of them are here in town, you could bypass all the paperwork and talk to them.”

“I don’t want to meet them,” Andy blurted. “I’d rather leave it at finding out more about my father and the family. History, you know?”

“Sure.” Weston wrinkled his forehead. “Okay, well, if you have their names, I’m sure we’ll have something about them here. At least about your father. We have info about pretty much everyone who’s lived here, at least in the past century and a half or so.”

“That’s what I’m hoping.” Andy glanced around again. There was no guarantee the shelves and piles contained anything about his biological father, and even if they did, he hadn’t decided how much he actually wanted to learn. The biggest question he had was one old books and papers probably couldn’t answer: Why had his birth parents given him up?

“The names?” Weston prompted.

Andy took a deep breath. “My mother is Elise Cummings. My father is Vardon Chaffee.”

He expected some sign of recognition from Weston. In a town as small as Dayfield, it was unlikely Weston wouldn’t have heard the name. But Andy didn’t expect the disgusted twist of Weston’s mouth or the narrowing of his eyes.

“Chaffee?” Weston spoke the name as if he were spitting out a mouthful of shit. “You’re a Chaffee?”

“No. I’m a Forrest.” Andy folded his arms and squared his feet. He had no clue why “Chaffee” was a bad thing, but he damn sure wasn’t about to let Weston insult him because of a guy Andy had never met. “My birth father was a Chaffee. And I’m guessing you aren’t too happy about it?”

Weston pressed his lips together and looked away for a moment. When he faced Andy again, his expression was blank. “Sorry. Yeah, that name tends to leave a bad taste in most mouths around here. You don’t know anything about the family?”

“Not really.” Andy’s adoptive father had tried to give him what little information he had beyond the names of Andy’s birth parents and their hometowns, but Andy had refused to listen. He only wanted to learn enough to relieve his dad’s fear that Andy might carry some unknown health condition, like the heart problem that had killed Andy’s mom.

“Wow. Okay.” Weston ran his hand through his hair. “So not only am I going to have to find you information about the family, but I’ll have to educate you so you don’t say that name in too many places around here.”