Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Retail therapy

We had a hard winter, especially in its latter half. We got flu, dealt with more snowstorms than we could count, tried to entertain two very bored little boys. Despite my best intentions – I’d started Lent wanting to watch what I ate, finish my novella, and figure out whether I could freelance full-time – I pigged out, quit fiction, and struggled to stay afloat with my freelance assignments.

Turnabout came in March with a halfway decent tax refund and my discovery of the TLC show “What Not to Wear.” I have never cared about fashion, but the combination of women (often mothers) like me and the witty repartee of hosts Stacy London and Clinton Kelly hooked me. As I watched them tell these women that they deserved to look good because they deserved to feel good, I realized that I, too, needed a makeover.

Gah! Did I just write that?? Seriously?? Yes, I did. And yet I couldn’t figure out how to obtain one. I wasn’t about to try to get on the show (having no time to do so, and not sure all three of my boys could survive several days without me). In desperation, feeling frumpy and style-less in my sweats, I turned to the Internet. I researched skin tone and body types, learning what colors and styles would look good on me and why. (The latter bit of information is reinforced on WNTW: maximize the womanly assets!) Armed with this information, I hit the stores. Newport News has always been a favorite of mine, and I found some new spring-summer things at JC Penney and even on eBay.

I got my new clothes last week, and I must say: Damn, I look good. Even without the makeup piece (I’m hoping for a free makeover from RaisingMaine.com, but am considering going to a Macy’s counter), I’m really excited by the amount of color in my wardrobe and the ways I’ve learned to add life to old favorites. And there’s been another benefit: I’m back writing.

See, looking good does indeed have me feeling good. I feel like I’m developing my own style, which I’ve never really had before (having relied on others to buy clothes for me, which were often hit or miss in terms of flattery, and largely dependent on sales). And that amazing boost of confidence has made me believe more in myself as a writer. That I am capable of finding color and fit and style, and that I can translate it into words on the page.

Even though I made a potentially confidence-busting decision this past week – to shelve the novel I’d been marketing to agents, and start over with a different project – indulging my inner girly girl has overshadowed whatever crisis I may have felt, and I’m moving forward with the horror novella I started in February. It’s a different genre with a different theme, and I think it might actually go somewhere.

We’ll see. Meanwhile, the weather is warming up, and I’ve got girly clothes to wear.

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Yes, it’s a day late. Give me a break, OK? Our house lost power yesterday. But Patti and Aldo are very forgiving, and said I should reprint this story from Flashing in the Gutters. Enjoy:

Beautiful Trouble

Denny loved Leann best when she went looking for trouble. She’d fling her honey-brown hair back off her shoulders, narrow her storm-gray eyes. She got a swagger, too, not like a guy’s but like a woman who knew the knife in her back pocket gave her her pick of guy. Denny wished she’d realize she didn’t need the knife. At the same time, he knew she did.

She had that look walking into tonight’s party. Denny knew they’d crashed it, if not for the fact that she only crashed parties to make trouble, then by the way everyone stared when they walked in the door.

Still, as always, it was a thrill to see the expressions change on people’s faces. They went from anticipating to unrecognizing to annoyed… and finally interested, once they saw Leann. “Why do these assholes look at me like that?” she asked once, not long after they started dating.

“Because you’re beautiful,” he answered.

“Bullshit.” But she tossed her hair in that way of hers. He knew she liked hearing it, needed to hear it. That was why he told her so often.

They made their way out to the deck, “where the booze is,” as Leann put it. Someone whistled; Leann raised her head, looked for the source. She always reminded Denny of a wolf when she did that.

It didn’t take her long to find him. It never did, mostly because they were all the same: big dumb guys like cattle, made dumber by the sheer amount of alcohol they’d consumed. He stood near the bar, leaning against the deck rail, leering at her. She made her way to him. Denny checked her ass, couldn’t see the knife outline even though her jeans looked painted on. Nice.

“What’s all the fuss about?” he heard her say.

“No fuss.” The slime reached for her. For a moment Denny was afraid he’d feel up the knife. Instead he curled an arm around Leann’s waist. “My name’s Mark.”


Trisha Yearwood. She always picked the name of a different country star. Denny always wondered, just for a second, if Leann was her real name. It had become part of the routine.

Mark leaned down, started to talk into her ear. She smiled, laughed, flirted back. It only took twenty minutes and three more drinks for her to get him to leave with her. She’d say it was the booze. Denny knew it was her whole package.

He tailed them to the Lovers’ Lane she’d picked for one of their first jobs. She’d been reminiscing about it lately; Denny knew she’d come back. He hid the car in the same spot as before, waited for her.

It was 1 a.m. before she appeared, the swagger more pronounced than ever, the eyes flashing like a bull’s. “Do you know what he said to me?” she fumed as she got in the car. She put on a phony baritone with a Texas accent. “‘It’s probably just the beer talkin’, but you must be the prettiest cunt this side of the Mississippi.'” She dropped the accent, grinned like she was recalling her first amusement park. “So I started with his tongue.”

Denny drank her in: her raw power, sexuality, bloodlust. He wanted to touch her, make love to her. He reached for her hair. It was always his favorite.

“Denny, what the fuck?” Leann shied away like his hand was on fire. “My hair’s run through with blood, I’m a mess. You always do this. What the hell’s the matter with you?”

“Why can’t you ever see how beautiful you are?” Denny didn’t wait for an answer. He never did. He just pulled her to him and let her overcome him.

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