Teaser Thursday- Last Chance Tattoo


Dorsey still hadn’t gotten Rad’s number, and he wanted to kick himself for it. The last time he’d heard anything from Rad was Friday when they’d gone their separate ways after lunch. Now, on Sunday afternoon, Dorsey was faced with a day off and no one to spend it with.

It was no different from all the other days off he’d had, but at the same time, everything was different. He had a friend now. Or something more. Whatever he and Rad were to each other, the one thing Dorsey knew for certain was he hoped for more time with Rad.

And he hadn’t asked for Rad’s number, which meant he had no way to invite Rad to get together. The tattoo shop wasn’t open on Sundays, so if Rad went there to find Dorsey, he would be disappointed.

Then again, Dorsey was only assuming Rad wanted to see him again. They had parted on Friday with an agreement to continue seeing each other, whatever that meant. Unfortunately, with no way to contact each other aside from Rad going to the shop, chances didn’t look good.

By midmorning, Dorsey’s thoughts had spiraled into a dark mass of things he didn’t want to deal with. Part of him still felt as if he’d been disloyal to Chester by messing around with Rad. Part of him wanted to go further with Rad. He’d even gone to one of the department stores outside the city limits the day before to stock up on condoms and lube so next time Rad visited, they would be prepared.

If that ever happened.

He couldn’t stand any more time alone in his apartment, so he dressed in the same clothes he’d worn the day before—the only clothes he had that were clean enough to wear until he went to the Laundromat—and headed to the coffee shop.

As he walked, it occurred to him that Kelly knew exactly how to get in touch with Rad. After all, he’d put his contact information on the application. If Dorsey could figure out how to ask for it without sounding like a creep, he might be able to talk to Rad. That alone made the walk through a light, cold drizzle worth it.

At that time on a Sunday morning, the coffee shop wasn’t very busy, since most people were at church or sleeping in. Dorsey went straight to the counter, where Kelly was arranging a tray of muffins.

She smiled at him. “Long time no see.”

“Sure.” He hesitated. “The usual coffee, please.”

“Why do I have the feeling that isn’t what you were going to say?” She set two more muffins on the tray and slid it into the display case, then turned to get Dorsey’s coffee.

Dorsey looked out the window. Because of the weather, few people were out and about. April wasn’t being particularly springlike so far.

He wondered what Rad was doing. Going to church with his grandmother, possibly, though Rad didn’t strike Dorsey as the church-going type. More likely either job hunting or spending the day out of the rain.

“Here you go.” Kelly set a cup on the counter. “On the house this morning because you look like you need it.”

“Thanks.” Again Dorsey hesitated. “You have Rad’s number, right?”

“Yeah. I kind of have to if I’m going to hire him.” She looked confused. “You don’t have his number?”

“No. You’re going to hire him?” That would be great news for Rad. And for Dorsey, since he would be able to see Rad simply by going around the corner.

Wow, you really have gone too long without a friend. And without sex. Get over it.

“I am, but don’t tell him.” Kelly grinned. “I’d pretty much already decided to, even before I interviewed him. But half the town knows I used to date his brother, so I can’t let it seem like I’m playing favorites.”

“Yeah. I understand.” Dorsey wondered whether Kelly knew what her brother had done to Rad and decided it would be better not to ask. It wasn’t his place to talk about it.

He drank some of his coffee and glanced out the window again. Rad was walking down the sidewalk on the other side of the street, heading toward the lake.

Without thinking, Dorsey hurried out of the shop. Rad had already passed. Behind him, Kelly called a question, but he didn’t pay attention. He crossed the fortunately empty street. “Rad!”

Rad jumped and whirled around, then relaxed. “Hey.”

Dorsey closed the few yards between them. The drizzle was turning into full-on rain, but he didn’t care. If Rad could stand it, so could he. “Hey. How’s it going?”

Rad shrugged. “Been better, been worse. I was going down to the lighthouse, except I’m not sure walking out there is a good idea in the rain.”

“Maybe, maybe not.” The lighthouse stood at the end of a half-mile or so causeway accessible only by foot. In three years, Dorsey had never taken the walk. The lighthouse was nice to look at from the shore. He saw no reason to go all the way out to it.

“Probably not.” Rad sighed. “When I was a kid, I used to go out there all the time. Even in the summer, it was a quiet place. I could think. Not to mention get away from my brothers and everyone. Even though I wasn’t far away, I could pretend I was alone in the middle of the lake. I liked it.”

Dorsey’s heart went out to the guy. From everything Rad had told him, his childhood had been pretty damn lonely. No one should have to be alone, especially with family around, but it sounded as if Rad truly had been.

That was one of the things Dorsey wanted to make better. Both of them had been alone too long.

Musings About Writing

I started writing stories when I was five. Writing became my escape, and sometimes my salvation. At times during junior high and high school, writing was the only thing that kept me going; if I hadn’t been able to create worlds where I didn’t have to deal with bullying and a difficult family life, I might not be around today. The same was true when I was married to my ex-husband. During all that time, nearly everything I wrote was for kids or teens. I wrote one novel for adults, which I don’t even have anymore and wasn’t all that good, and that was a completely G-rated thing.

When my friend in 2006 challenged me to write something erotic to help me overcome my belief that sex was a pretty crappy thing in general and especially in my life, everything started to change. A guy I dated a year later challenged me to write more, and to post on Literotica. And I kept writing, and kept posting.

And then I got published.

Being published isn’t a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong. But unfortunately, it added stress and pressure to something that up to that point had been relaxing and soothing. I wasn’t able anymore to just create things and abandon them at will, or write something no one would ever want to see without caring whether anyone saw it. I had to please editors, publishers, and readers.

Apparently I didn’t do such a great job at that. A number of my books barely sold, and if I remember right, two or three didn’t sell a single copy. Even though I was backed by publishers who were, in theory, pushing the books right along with me. That added to the stress and pressure. I had to write more and better so I would earn money and not piss off my publishers.

Then September 20, 2014 happened. I won’t go into details about it, though I think I have done elsewhere. Suffice it to say someone I trusted and was in a relationship with did something unforgivable that both triggered and added to my PTSD…and suddenly I was almost back to where I was in 2006 before that friend challenged me to write that first erotic story. And I’ve been there ever since. My two attempts after that at writing a new erotic romance resulted in panic attacks, worsened depression, and a decision that I had to step back whether I wanted to or not, for the sake of my mental health.

One piece of wisdom about writing and publishing is that in order to have consistent sales, you have to have consistent releases. I haven’t. My last release under this pen name was in March of this year, though it was written two years earlier, and that, judging from my royalty statements, has barely sold a double-digit number of copies. Meanwhile, nearly half the books that I’d had published in the past have been taken out of publication over the past year, either by me or by the publisher, all due to lack of sales.

I’m not posting this to whine or look for sympathy. My books are good, or so I’m told. Some of them have interesting plots and characters. They simply aren’t being bought and read for whatever reason. It’s discouraging. Seriously discouraging. I wish I understood what magical ingredients I’m missing that have brought me to this point, but I don’t, and no one I’ve discussed it with seems able to enlighten me.

As I announced recently, over the next two years I’ll be self-publishing some of those reverted titles, and I have a novel releasing from DSP Publications in March 2016. Last week, I finished writing my first erotica story in over a year, so apparently I can still write it… but I’m feeling so down about how things have been going that I’m not sure there’s much point. And most of the publishers that have accepted my books in the past either wouldn’t be willing to work with me now, or I wouldn’t be willing to work with them, or both, so even if I wrote something I wouldn’t have anywhere to send it.

Every career has its ups and downs. I think creative careers hit harder on the downs because we put so much of ourselves into the work. I know that’s been true for me with writing.

Teaser Thursday- I Should Tell You

I Should Tell You_200

Upstairs, he discovered to his relief that he’d been right about his roommate. The place was completely dark and silent, exactly as Hunter liked it. He turned on the dim light over the kitchen stove, then proceeded to the living room at the other end of the apartment where he only had to open the curtains to let in enough light to see—thanks to Logan Airport, across a narrow strip of harbor on the other side of the train tracks.

As he watched, a plane took off. The noise had seemed ridiculous when Hunter first moved in, but within a few weeks he’d become accustomed to the planes and trains. The building had double-paned windows paid for by the agency that ran the airport, and though they did little to block the noise, they at least dulled it.

And Hunter enjoyed watching the planes, especially at night. The lights that rose into the sky reminded him of possibilities. Right now, he was stuck living in this dump with the son of the building’s owners, who expected life to be handed to him and who spent most of his money partying. Right now, Hunter worked at an office with a tyrant boss, doing menial paperwork that almost put him to sleep. But his life would change someday. Someday he would take his money and buy a ticket on one of those planes. It wouldn’t even matter where he ended up. He could go anywhere.

The possibility was the only thing keeping him sober some days. Things would change. He would make it happen.

He heard a sound behind him and tensed. It was the smallest noise. He barely noticed it over the roar of the plane’s engine, but it was there. His heart pounded. He was in his home, and the only other person who could be there was Jack, unless the guy had brought someone in to spend the night. He was safe.

Reminding himself of that did little to take down the fear.

“Don’t sneak up on me.” His voice came out as a croak, and he cleared his throat. “I mean it, Jack. Remember what happened last time.”

“Not sneaking. Fucking thirsty.”

Hunter let out a long breath and sagged against the frame of the glass door that led onto their tiny balcony. Of course it was only Jack. No one else could have entered the apartment. Even if someone had, it was unlikely they would try anything on Hunter. They might rob the place blind, but they wouldn’t be able to touch him. If they tried, he would fight them off. He’d taken three years of Krav Maga before he’d stopped because one of his classmates had become a little too interested in physical contact.

“You okay?” Jack’s slightly slurred voice sounded closer. He must have come through the kitchen instead of just getting a drink and going back to his room. “Didn’t mean to startle you.”

“No problem. I’m a bit on edge tonight. I’ll be going to bed in a few.” Hunter wasn’t sure he’d be able to sleep, but he had to at least make the attempt.

“Sorry,” Jack said. “Just got up for a drink. See you.” He shuffled back to the kitchen, and water ran a moment later.

Hunter stayed where he was, staring out at the runway lights and the harbor on both sides of the airport, though he could barely see it.

Relationship Teamwork

When you’re in a relationship and a problem comes up, sometimes it seems difficult to work together to solve it. Struggles with finances, with personal space or time together or apart, disagreements about kids…there are a number of issues that can arise in a committed relationship, and if the people involved have different opinions or feel overwhelmed, they might argue or stop discussing the problem altogether. Which, of course, doesn’t solve anything.

My husband likes to say that since we’re married, we’re a team. Even when things are complicated, or when we’re angry with each other about an issue or a difference in the way we choose to handle something, we’re still together, and that means we work together. I will admit there have been times when I’ve felt like we’re on opposing teams. Some issues are far more difficult than others. But so far, we’ve always managed to get back on the same side and solve the problem.

It isn’t always easy to function as a team with your partner(s). When conflicts arise, the last thing you might want to do is sit down and have a calm, civilized discussion with the person who you see as contributing to–or ignoring–the situation. But it’s important to remember that you chose to be on the same team, and to work together to keep things running smoothly.

Teaser Thursday- With Every Touch


Erich couldn’t shake the feeling that Sheila shouldn’t have left. He should have kept her with him. She belonged with him.

It was a completely stupid idea that he tried to ignore completely. They were friends. She had opened up to him in the restaurant, and doing so had hurt her. He wished he’d tried to persuade her to tell him more, while at the same time knowing it would have been the worst thing he could do.

He didn’t watch out the window as she went to her car and backed out of his driveway. He wouldn’t do something like that. It would have been creepy and stalkerish.

It would have meant he had stronger feelings for her than he had any right to have.

After the sound of her car’s engine faded, he locked the door. With her towel, he mopped up the puddle where she’d stood. He should have invited her into the house instead of making her stand by the door.

I did invite her in. I said she could go into the bathroom to change out of her dress, I think. And I told her she could shower here.

A flash of lightning brightened the room for a second, and Erich turned off the light. He didn’t need to leave it on. He knew his house, and he would probably just go to bed. Sleep would be the easiest way to shut off his brain.

Someone had hurt Sheila in the past. Badly, judging from how she had acted when she’d hinted about it. She’d been close to tears. Her ex had controlled and stalked her, and had probably done worse.

If it hadn’t been so far in the past, Erich would have wanted to kill the guy. She had trusted Erich enough to share her past. He doubted she did so with just anyone. He wasn’t sure how he had earned her trust, but he was honored by it.

He wished he had asked her to stay longer. Their fucking on the beach in the rain had been hotter than anything he’d ever done, but that wasn’t the only thing Erich wanted from Sheila. He had promised her they would only be friends. He wasn’t ready for a relationship. Neither was she.

But after their quiet conversation in the restaurant and the rough, fast fuck outside, and taking care of her at home, he knew there was no way in hell he would be able to keep his feelings for her purely at a level of friendship. He was starting to fall for her. He might never let her know, but he couldn’t prevent himself from feeling it.

“Just what I need,” he muttered. “Another woman who’s going to move on the second she has the chance.”

Bittersweet Reversion

Last week, I received an email with an attachment. A reversion letter, returning rights to me for my books Their Home Port, Reflected Love, You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This, Dancing Away, and With My Heart. The books were returned due to lack of sales, which I fully understand. Unfortunately, the best efforts of me and the publisher weren’t enough to get readers to buy those books.

It’s bittersweet because the publisher in question, Jupiter Gardens Press, is the one I credit with giving me the boost I needed as a published romance author back in 2009. My two titles published before JGP took me on were short erotica stories, with a publisher that operated more as a co-op. JGP was the first publisher to take a chance on longer stories from me, and they were also the ones who gave me my start as a published young adult fiction author under my Jo Ramsey pen name.

I hadn’t sent anything new to JGP since 2013. I’d already gotten rights reverted on a few other titles that weren’t selling, including that first 2009 book of mine that they published. Although I’ve continued promoting the remaining books, it unfortunately isn’t surprising that things have turned out this way. I’ve never been great at promoting, though I do my best, and with no new Karenna Colcroft books from that publisher in the past two years (and no new books from Karenna at all since March of this year), the backlist faded away.

I sincerely thank JGP for giving me that first real break six years ago, and for all the hard work, mentoring, and advising–and faith–they invested in me. I wish the company nothing but the best.

As for the reverted titles, I plan to re-release Their Home Port at some point in the future. The rest…well, they’re now at rest.

Teaser Thursday- Deep Down

This novella was originally published in 2010 and has been out of print since January of this year.

Her search occupied her so much that she didn’t notice the wiry man heading through the crowd toward her, until he shoved her toward the floor.

With a gasp, Courtney put her hands out to break her fall. Her purse slipped from her shoulder. The man grabbed it and yanked. As adrenaline rushed through her, she screamed wordlessly, praying that someone would help her.

No one did.

Desperately she clutched her purse strap, straining to hold onto it though the skinny man was much stronger. She yelled until her throat hurt, but still none of the others on the platform seemed to notice.

“Shut the fuck up, bitch!” the man ordered. “Give me the fucking thing!”

He raised his hand, and Courtney cringed. Still, she held onto her purse. It contained everything important in her life.

Someone grabbed the guy’s arm. “Let her go.”

A tall man, with dark brown hair pulled back in a ponytail and no expression on his face, stood beside her. The mugger looked up, fury in his eyes. “Stay out of it, man,” he snarled.

“Let go,” the tall man repeated calmly, his voice little more than monotone. “The cops are right over there.”

The mugger turned to look, and the tall guy caught him in the jaw with his fist. Two other men, in the uniforms of MBTA police, hurried over. One grabbed the criminal. The other, the tall man. “He helped me,” Courtney protested.

“He just slugged that guy,” the cop argued.

“Yeah, because he was trying to steal her purse.” The tall man should have been angry, Courtney thought, but his tone of voice didn’t change at all. “If you guys had been doing your job, I wouldn’t have had to step in.”

The Holiday Season

For those who observe certain holidays, we’re heading into that season. The US Thanksgiving holiday is toward the end of this month, and Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa, among others, occur in December.

Some of us grew up celebrating one or more of these holidays, and for some, it wasn’t always a pleasant experience. Family conflicts often become worse and/or more frequent around this time of year, partly because of the stress of large gatherings and large expenses, and, in the northern hemisphere, partly because daylight hours are shorter and the darkness can affect moods.

In some places, people are expected to be all about family and celebrations at this time of year, but for some of us, that isn’t always possible or beneficial. Personally, I deal each year with Seasonal Affective Disorder, a depression caused by the lack of daylight, along with my usual mental health issues. In addition, when I was a child and teen, as well as during my first marriage, the holidays were a very stressful time of year in my home. It’s difficult for me to feel joyful about the holidays, though for the past several years my kids have helped by taking over the decorating and sharing their excitement.

If you have a tough time with holidays, be gentle with yourself. Try to minimize your responsibilities as far as shopping and hosting. Lean on friends and family, or if possible and necessary seek professional help. Everyone needs a boost sometimes, and this time of year can definitely require a boost.

Teaser Thursday- Tempeh for Two


“Tobias,” Kyle said softly. “I can hear your mind racing. Please tell me what’s going on.”

I took another breath and decided I might as well blurt it out. “I killed someone.”

Kyle gasped and tensed. For a second I was afraid he would pull away from me, but he didn’t. “Now?” he asked.

“Yeah.” I wished I’d kept my mouth shut, but it was too late now. “Someone was here. I don’t know exactly what woke me, but as soon as I was awake, I knew someone was in the house.”

“You kept me asleep.” His tone was perfectly bland, but it still sounded like an accusation.

It put me even more on the defensive. “Yeah, I did. I couldn’t risk anything happening to you. I didn’t know who was here or why, and if you’d woken up, you would have wanted to go with me.”

“Duh. I don’t want anything to happen to you, either.” He cuffed my shoulder. “Go on. I’m listening, and I promise I won’t interrupt again.”

“You didn’t interrupt this time.” I’d stopped talking because I couldn’t quite bring myself to admit what had really happened. “I went downstairs and sensed that whoever was here had gone outside. So I went out.”

I paused again. This time, Kyle didn’t speak.

“There was a wolf in the woods near the back door,” I said. “I don’t know who he was. No one I’ve met. He didn’t smell like any of the region’s packs.” I shuddered, and Kyle tightened his arm on me, still not speaking. I took a deep breath. “He smelled like sickness and death, and he had a compulsion on him I couldn’t break.”

“The Anax.” Kyle spoke the title like a curse. “He sent this wolf after you.”

“I think so. I can’t prove it.” I wouldn’t be able to prove anything. The Anax was more careful than that. “I tried to compel him to shift back to human, but I couldn’t break whatever had already been set on him. He attacked while I was still in human form, and I shifted. He wasn’t strong enough to kill me once I was wolf.”

“You wouldn’t have killed him if you could have helped it,” Kyle said. “You hate what you did. I feel it. But the only other thing you could have done was let him kill you.”

“He was sick,” I said. “I don’t know what he had. He can’t have been changed very long ago, or he would have fought off whatever the illness was. But it had gone too far, and he was dying and in pain.”

“If he’d been changed willingly, it might have killed off the disease,” Kyle said.

“Even if he hadn’t been willing, with enough time, his system probably would have fought it off,” I said. “But he was sent here almost immediately after his change. I don’t know how long he was unconscious, but it wasn’t long enough.”

“It takes time to recover from the first shift, but if the Anax was controlling him, he might have forced this guy to wake up before he was ready.” Kyle snuggled against me, and the full-body contact helped bring me down from the darkness spiraling inside me, even though he was still tense. “You did what you had to do, Tobias. No one blames you, except you.”

“I’m not blaming myself.” I was to an extent, and Kyle knew it. He wouldn’t have been able to miss the guilt.

More than myself, I blamed the Anax. I couldn’t know for certain that he’d been the one to send this wolf, but no one else would have gone to such lengths to try to kill me. And no one else had the power, as far as I knew, to lay a compulsion so strong I wouldn’t be able to break it.


On Friday, I briefly met up with a friend whom I hadn’t seen in a couple of months. He had something of mine that I’d asked to get back, and he couldn’t stay to talk because he was in the middle of a time-sensitive project at work. I appreciated that he was willing to even take the time to meet me at all, though it might have been nice to have a bit of conversation with him since we haven’t talked since the last time we saw each other.

He looked different from the last time I saw him, though. It’s hard to explain. He was always a fairly happy, high-energy kind of guy, but Friday he appeared weary. Not just physically tired, but completely “I need a break and I’m never going to get one” weary. Even when he smiled at me, it was a tired smile.

Even though he and I don’t interact much anymore, he’s still my friend and still matters to me. And, partly because friends are important to me and likely partly because I have anxiety disorder, I worry about the people who matter to me. All I can do right now is hope that he’s okay, and that if he isn’t, he’ll reach out to me for support as he’s done in the past. Meanwhile, I’m just going to keep him in my thoughts and hope that if things aren’t okay for him right now, they will be.