Monthly Archives: December 2014



It was a game they played every year. I watched them play it as an eager child, not understanding the rules, and tried to join in, the amusement of some and the disapproval of others skillfully communicating that the game wasn’t for me, that I should know better, that my place was in neither camp. I watched them play it as a disdainful teenager, despising them for being old and stupid, stuck in their ways, perpetuating the wrongs of yesterday,  and was smugly satisfied that my place was in neither camp. I forgot the game, and them, as a scurrying adult, snared in the tyranny of the urgent, too stupid to understand that urgent and important were often distinct, at times antithetical. Now, when the road behind me stretches far longer than the road ahead, I look back, looking for the sense that must be hidden in the game, the meaning that I can accept today. I suspect there is none.

It was a simple game for two players, played, some would have said, out of affection of sorts. A recognition of the relationship between them, others would have said. There was only one spoken rule. It was the unspoken rules, the background music of a fading culture, that made it no game for a little girl who had no idea how to listen to the music, how to read the rules in the gnarled knuckles and wrinkled flesh.

It was played on one day of the year, the longest in the calendar of children, Christmas Eve. There might be a bit of leeway to play it on Christmas Day, if circumstances warranted, but only if those two had not played the previous day. It was, in the parlance of today, a once-and-done. The spoken rule was this: upon seeing one other for the first time that day, whoever said before anything else, “Christmas Eve gift” was entitled to receive a gift from the other.

The unspoken rules? A snare for the unwary, they dealt with status, class, and above all, race. Perhaps the white folks spoke the words to one another, but there was no expectation of a gift changing hands, though a token might be given. The real gifts would come later. Perhaps the black folks spoke the words to one another also. I never knew. My world was the white world, the privileged white world. The words were spoken between the races, across the chasm that divided us, humans all, into tidy little categories and nailed our flesh to the wall of proscribed roles. “We”—and oh, how I hated being part of that pronoun—never spoke it to “them”. It wasn’t the done thing, whispered in my uncomprehending ear. “Don’t embarrass them, child. They can’t give you anything.” “Why not, Uncle Wright?” “They don’t have the money.” “Why not, Gran?” “They just don’t. Stop asking questions and sit still.” “Oh.”

The years I was wise, or perhaps simply pinched under the table, I stopped asking and sat still. The years I grew wiser, or perhaps simply more experienced, I watched and thought, pondered and reckoned. The years I found a voice of my own, I lectured and cajoled wearing out not only my welcome but my family’s as well, and demanded that it be made right immediately, for I had seen that the reason “they” didn’t have the money was because “we” didn’t pay them adequately. What are fair wages for cooking and cleaning, for washing and waxing, for polishing and scrubbing, for wiping small bottoms and elderly wrinkles? What are fair wages for being at someone’s beck and call, for tolerating the supercilious, for the nod and yes ma’am, yes sir, the self-deprecating chuckle when “we” said ‘no-count’ and ‘stupid’ and ‘just like children’ in front of them? What are fair wages for being black in the white Deep South?

And yet, there was affection there, of sorts. My great-uncles looked with fondness on those who saw to it that their lives didn’t have to include understanding how to operate the stove or when bacon is done. There was genuine feeling there. Fondness, gratitude, and a blind understanding of the lives of ‘them’ as long as they were within the front rooms of the big house where the white folks lived. The great-uncles had no clue how life was conducted in the back rooms. Neither did I. I tried sitting in the kitchen a time or two, and rather than the soft laughter I’d heard from the hall, there was the polite scraping of chairs along the floor as the table was vacated and “What can I do for you, Miss Susan?” bounced off the hollow walls.

Is it nostalgia brought on by that ever-shortening path ahead of me that causes me to smile when I hear the old words, “Christmas Eve gift, Miss Joyner. Christmas Eve gift, Miss Susan,” I wonder? I have no desire to return to that time. I fought to change those ways, that culture. And yet, my memory brings the soft sounds, the shy triumph grinning beneath respectfully-lowered eyes, the doffed cap as the uncles approach the walk to the front door,  the fisted apron in the kitchen, the hands reaching, for a shining fragile moment, across the chasm.

I remember, and stand watch. For you, Sug. For you, Lowell. Christmas Eve gift.


Beautiful Sunrise in the Mountains


Sun-dyed clouds caress the peaks,
Holy vapored hands stretch close
And pull— fearful and unworthy— back,
With beauty dazzled, they return.
Coy shadow plays tides with light
Ebb and flow of circling time
Held fast against my trembling heart.
Stars ballet across night’s deeps
While silent lakes keep step
And breath, once taken quite away,
Is thrown willingly on high.
Stretched barrens rolling to the edge
Where arias of silent snows are sung.
Acrobats of cloud cavort where lupines roam
And thigh-rubbed thunder shouts for joy
Strobed with searing purple heat.
For skittering chattering us
A flood of sliced and captured time.
For Her, Earth, mother of us all,
The slow and measured beat of molten heart.
Carve me thin, beauty undeserved, my own heart laid bare
To seek and see the naked glorious wonder,
Soul embracing hiraeth for home I never had.

[September 2, 2014. Wyoming, the home my heart longs for]

Beta Readers?

Anyone interested in doing beta reading for me? What’s beta reading? Well, a beta reader is someone who gets an early draft of a forthcoming book, reads it, and provides feedback and when the book is published, an honest review. It’s a quid pro quo. I give you a free book, you give me your opinion and that honest review. I’m not looking for copy editing (you can ignore formatting, punctuation, and minor grammar errors—my editor loves to toast my cookies over those things, and who am I to deny her her fun?), just comments on the content, what worked, what didn’t work, if it’s too long, too short, which passages (if any) were confusing, etc. I write mostly M/M erotica/romance in the dark urban fantasy/paranormal genres, so 18+ only please, and if you’re familiar with the genre itself, that helps. If you’re interested, please comment below. I’m gathering names and contact info at the moment, and will put together a group, either email or Facebook, when I have enough folks. Turn around time will generally be about 2 weeks, though longer around the holidays, like now.

Copies will be PDF and will be watermarked. They’re not to be shared or discussed outside the group of beta readers. Let me hear from you!

Book 2 is out!





Today’s release day for Stygian Moon, book 2 in the Fallow Moon series! Dark urban fantasy, paranormal, M/M erotica/romance.  Book 1, Bittermoon, is scheduled to go on sale today, to make it easy to catch up. Bittermoon begins the story of Vampyr Kesan Glendubh, the human he falls in love with, Leo Ruggeri, and the interference of Leo’s ex who’s now a vampire-hunting priest. Eternity, like love, may not be so eternal after all.

Stygian Moon picks up where Bittermoon left off. Even vampires grieve, and newly made vampire Leo Ruggeri has a lot to grieve over. His maker, Kesan Glendubh, should be providing help and guidance as he copes with his new life, but a vampire hunter’s crossbow has made that impossible. Kesan was more than Leo’s maker. He was Leo’s one-and-only, the man he would love for eternity. With him gone, his vampire family steps up to shepherd Leo until he knows enough not to alert the humans that those who walk the night are among them.

Jamie Tasso wants to do more than guide him through the pitfalls, though, and Leo finds solace in his bed. When Leo’s world is turned upside down again, what began as solace morphs into love.

Jamie and Leo are summoned to Kolozsvár, to the High Court, where an alliance between Vampyr and Varulv—werewolves—is being hammered out. Politics is never clean and simple when alliances and love affairs are shattered much more easily than they are forged.

Sometimes you have to go through Hell to get to Heaven.