Decide the Fate of the Ivy Russell Novellas

Ivy novellas

I’m struggling with indecision so I decided the best thing to do is to take my dilemma out of my brains and leave it to someone else’s, namely yours.

Here’s the situation: the covers for the last three Ivy Russell novellas are still not done. I don’t know when (or if) they’ll be done. The disruption in my planned publishing schedule has been a drag, but it has also caused me to question repeatedly the best course of action to handling this change of plans. Every choice you see in the poll below are choices that I’ve seriously considered (and reconsidered and then considered again).

So, I put it to you, gentlefolk. What the hell should I do?

The poll will be open for a week.

Are You a Good Fatty?

Fat girl bikiniThis is a mindset that I have struggled with and one I’m working very hard to correct. Why? Because the Good Fatty is bullshit, that’s why.

Here’s how it works.

People make generalizations about fat people. They’re lazy. They eat like garbage. They’re unhealthy. You know, the same song and dance folks have been performing since before Jane Fonda made jazzercise a thing.

Immediately, my reaction is, “Not all fatties! I’m not lazy. I exercise. I do yoga. I belly dance. I count my steps. I lift weights. And I eat healthy! I rarely eat fast food. I eat vegetarian meals several times a week. I don’t eat a lot of processed food. And my health has been more affected by not having regular access to affordable healthcare than by my weight.”

Now, all of those things are true and generalizations are garbage. But, the fact that I feel the urge to defend my honor and separate myself from those other, “bad” fatties is bullshit. I shouldn’t feel that way. I shouldn’t actually have to do that at all.


Because there are thin people whose only exercise is walking out to their car so they can drive to a fast food joint. There are thin people whose diets consist of not much more than Starbucks and cigarettes and cupcakes. No “good” thin person has ever felt the need to distance themselves from those “bad” thin people by saying, “I’m not like them! I run twenty miles a week and take a spin class and do hot yoga. I eat gluten-free vegan. I’ve never drank or smoked and I haven’t set foot inside a Starbucks in my life!”

No, no thin person, good or bad, feels the need to defend their life choices because they are, by default, “healthy” just because they’re thin. Regardless of their choices, they’re treated with basic human respect. They don’t have to worry about anyone judging their choice of fries over salad. They don’t feel the need to remind everyone that they walked their five miles yesterday and today is just an off day. They don’t feel the need to say, “But I’m not like them.” They know it doesn’t matter. They will still get that basic human respect.

That simple respect isn’t extended to all fatties, just the “good” ones and only if they prove that they really are “good”.

So, riddle me this, Batman, why is that?

Why is some lazy, Whopper-eating thin person treated with more respect than a fat person who does the same thing? Why is perceived health the basis for simple respect? Why does a fat person not deserve respect because they’re not “healthy”?

Who the fuck came up with that rule?

Here’s the real skinny, Minnie, until proven otherwise, we all are entitled to basic human respect. All of us. Even the “bad” fatties.

I’m not going to draw that line between me and the “bad” fatties anymore. I’m going to work really hard not to do it. If I don’t draw that line between me and the smokers and the drinkers and the “bad” thin people, then there’s no need for that line to exist between me and other fatties. Their health choices are theirs, such as mine are mine. End of.

The respect thing, though, that’s non-negotiable.

Regardless of my weight, regardless of what I eat, regardless of how much I move, I refuse to accept anything less than simple respect.

I insist upon that.

October Writing Projects

pumpkinsHonestly, I don’t have a lot going on this month. This is mostly due to NaNoWriMo looming. I don’t like to jam my schedule full the month before I’m going to be focused on writing 50,000 words as quickly as possible. It wears out my brain and renders me useless.

The only things I HAVE to do this month are finish the revisions on the novella-turned-novel, which hopefully include finally giving it a title, and finalize my outline for this year’s NaNo endeavor, The End of the (Werewolf) Curse.

Things that I could do if I feel the urge: revise Voice, revise “The Wind Chime Tree”, revise “Darling”. I don’t think I’ll start writing anything new unless something irresistible pops into my brain.

Most likely I’ll be saving that energy for November.

If you haven’t voted in the poll to decide the fate of the Ivy Russell novellas, please do so. The poll closes next week. Yes, I know it’s only been open a day. What can I say? This has been eating away at my brain for months now and I’d like to finally have a conclusion.

And, if the majority rules that I do anything other than nothing, then I’ll have something else to do this month.

Please, Won’t You Be My Patron?

Boob Job FundYou may have noticed that a Tip Jar link has been added to the blog. You may be wondering what that’s about.  Allow me to explain.

Patreon is a site in which a person can be a patron to creators of various kinds of art. Like what they did back in the day, according to my humanities teacher in community college. Rich people supported artists while they worked, sometimes on projects for said rich people, sometimes on their own stuff. Such is the way Patreon works, except it’s open to anyone to be a patron, not just rich people, and it’s open to anyone to be a creator, not just dead Italian artists.

In other words, I’m a creator and now you can be my patron.

Here’s how it works.

You pledge a specific amount of money, one or two dollars, per writing project, aka published novella, anthology, or novel. When I make a post on Patreon that says, “Hey! I’ve published this! Woo!”, that’s when your pledge takes effect. You get charged the first of the next month. You only pay when I finish a project and you can stop being my patron at any time. I may mentally hex you, but I’ll respect your right to spend your money as you see fit. But if you do become my patron, you’ll get some nifty stuff, depending on how much you donate and whether or not you want it.

What could I possibly mean by that?

Well, it’s one of the main reasons I’ve decided set up my tip jar, so to speak. There are people that buy my work and I am grateful for their support. However, I know of a few people that do want to support me in the monetary fashion, but don’t want to buy an ebook they’re not going to read. Horror isn’t for everyone, reading isn’t for everyone (though it should be). This gives those people an opportunity to help me out. It also gives the people already buying my self-published work an opportunity to give me more money. Because why would I turn down an opportunity for more money? I wouldn’t and I shouldn’t.

What will I be doing with this money? Considering I’m only asking for one or two dollars per project (I suppose you could give more than that, but I don’t know why you’d want to), I will not be using this money to vacation in Cabo or Paris. Most likely it will be hoarded away so I can pay the blog bill and if I’m lucky, renew my Microsoft Office license. If I’m really lucky, I’ll be able to do something more with print. I’m a jinx when it comes to that formatting and proofs aren’t free, my friends.

As always, though, spreading the word about my stuff is free. Be it by recommending my stories to someone or leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads, it is something I deeply appreciate. So if you want to help without involving your wallet (or in addition to your wallet), this is the way to do it. Word of mouth will always be priceless to me.

So, with all that said…

Please, won’t you please, be my patron?

Rerun Junkie–Gunsmoke

It’s the longest running western. It’s tied for the longest running prime-time drama (thanks, Law & Order). Twenty years is a long time on the air and 635 episodes is a lot of episodes.

Twenty years also means different opening credits.

Twenty years also means different opening credits.

Set in Dodge City, Kansas, Gunsmoke is the story of Marshall Matthew Dillon (James Arness) as he tries to bring justice to the Wild West. Assisted over the years by friends Doc (Milburn Stone), Chester (Dennis Weaver), and Quint Asper (Burt Reynolds), deputies Festus (Ken Curtis), Thad (Roger Ewing), and Newly (Buck Taylor), and the saloon owner Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake) and her bartender Sam (Glenn Strange), Matt faced off against a host of bad guys, troubles, injuries, moral quandries, and injustice.

And let me tell you, there was plenty of all of that. I haven’t seen every episode of this show. Probably haven’t even seen half of them (and it started out on the radio with William Conrad as the voice of Matt Dillon, so the saddle bag of history overflows). But I can tell you that they did not skimp on the drama, nor skirt some of the heavier issues. In addition to the usual robbery, revenge, and death you expect on a western, the show had episodes involving rape, white slavery, racism, bigotry, abuse of all kinds, greed of all kinds, murder of all kinds, and that’s just what I can remember off the top of my head. I think every one of the main cast was falsely accused at one point in time and a few even faced the rope, only to be saved at the last minute. I know Festus was nearly hung on several occasions, head in the noose and all before he was saved, and when he was saved NO ONE EVER APOLOGIZED. Really. Nobody ever bothered to be like, “Hey, sorry we nearly killed you. Our bad.” Nothing. I think if you nearly hang someone  and then find out he’s innocent just before you kick the horse out from under him, you should at least have the decency to say you’re sorry. But that’s just me.

This is the cast configuration I know best. See the smiles? The Wild West wasn't a total downer.

This is the cast configuration I know best. See the smiles? The Wild West wasn’t a total downer.

Not every episode was heavier than a blacksmith’s anvil. Many of them were light and quite funny. Typically, anytime Festus was heavily involved, especially if any member of his family showed up, it’s going to be a good time. Festus episodes tend to be my favorite. But no matter what the nature of the episode is, any conversation between Festus and Doc is going to be gold.

Gunsmoke is one of those shows that could have a post of it’s own on just the guest stars. That’s what happens when you’re on forever. Everyone ends up on your show. But here area  few I find worth mentioning: familiar names Nick Nolte, Gary Busey, Harrison Ford, Dennis Hopper, Richard Dreyfus, Jodie Foster, Diane Ladd, and Charles Bronson; Bruce Dern, Royal Dano, John Dehner, John Anderson, Lee Van Cleef, Jack Elam, Strother Martin, Harry Carey Jr, and Claude Akins, who were required by federal law at the time to appear in every western TV show; my favorites Ross Martin and Joyce Jameson; J. Pat O’Malley, Nehemiah Persoff, Virginia Gregg, and Vitto Scotti, who were required by federal law at the time to be in every TV show; Kurt Russell and his daddy Bing; Buck Taylor’s daddy Dub; Brock Peters, Cicely Tyson, Yaphet Kotto, and Keye Luke; Ron Howard and his brother Clint; John Saxon, Sid Haig, and Richard Jaeckel; and leading ladies Bette Davis, Vera Miles, Margaret Hamilton, and Gloria DeHaven.

This isn’t even the tip of the ice berg. It’s a mere clump of snow on an ice planet.

Like many of my reruns, I started watching Gunsmoke because there was nothing else on. Having seen episodes from the last eight or nine seasons multiple times now, I can see why this show was on the air for so long. There was always a problem to be solved, a danger to overcome, a gunslinger to tame, a thirst for revenge to quench. This show had it all, right down to the romantic tension between Marshall Dillon and Miss Kitty (how scandalous!).

Dodge City may have faced drought a time or two, the drama well never ran dry.

Bless Festus, his mule, and his abused hat.

Bless Festus, his mule, and his abused hat.

That’s Just the Self-Doubt Talking

esteemIn several areas of my life and in regards to several aspects of my existence, I am a confident person. In fact, I have been told that the confidence I carry from knowing who I am and how I relate to the world, from knowing my job and doing it well, from being smart and funny and tossing that 1-2 punch like I’m going for a knockout is really intimidating. From certain vantage points, it looks like I actually have my shit together and I know what I’m doing.

And then there’s the rest of the time.

While my self-doubt is always present in a few areas of my world, right now it is really rearing its unattractive head in terms of my unsuccessful writing career.

Here’s how it goes: I get the idea to do something. I think it’s a great idea. I think it could work. I think I could pull it off. I get gung-ho. I start to work towards bringing this idea to fruition.

And then I realize that it’ll never work. No one will go for this. I’m not popular enough/charismatic enough/smart enough/good enough to pull this off. It’s wasted time and effort because for this to work, people will have to participate/pay attention and nobody wants to do that. Nobody gives a shit what you do and they don’t want to play, Kiki, so stop wasting your time.

And then I get really bummed and start questioning what the hell I’m even bothering with all of this for.

It’s not just a vicious cycle, but it’s also very effective at ensuring that I don’t even try to do something because, hey, what’s the point? I’m just going to fail anyway and haven’t I landed directly on my face enough?

The latest aborted idea was the giveaway of one of my “wrecked” print copies. At first I thought, yeah, this will be fun. A few of my friends and family members will enter it. Nobody will get uptight if it doesn’t go completely smoothly because it’s my first one and I’m still learning the ropes and they’re my friends and family. It’s all cool. A practice giveaway! What fun!

It didn’t take long for the self-doubt to come strolling in like Blair Warner on a mission to out-snob somebody.

“Nobody wants one of your crappy wrecked copies. That’s a stupid idea. Nobody’s going to enter. They’ll just ignore you like always. You don’t even know how to run a giveaway. This is going to go tits up and you’re going to look like an idiot. Stop yourself.”

I don’t think I need to say that my friends and family don’t always ignore me. They don’t, of course. But my self-doubt is no dummy. It knows that I’ve been overlooked. It knows that I’ve been dismissed. It knows that I’ve been patted on the head and told “that’s nice” in order to be placated. It knows that people have shown absolutely no interest in anything I’m doing. It knows that I’ve been kicked aside in the rush for folks to surround someone else.

It knows.

It knows and it uses this to its advantage and I hate to say it, but I’m not completely up to the task of battling it every time it decides to make a grand entrance. My self-doubt gets a lot more encouragement than I do, unfortunately. Not always intentional, not always actual, but my self-doubt will bow to even an imagined applause.

And so I continue to struggle and I continue to fail through lack of action, but I keep coming up with the ideas and I keep trying to actually carry them out because one day, I might actually succeed.

But I doubt it.

Rerjun Junkie–The Last of My TV Boyfriends

Pete MalloyI have three TV boyfriends: Artemus Gordon, Dan Williams, and Pete Malloy. These three characters (from The Wild Wild West, Hawaii Five-O, and Adam-12, respectively) managed to capture a little piece of my rerun junkie heart that no other character could. Sure, there have been crushes. Like Jim Rockford, for example. But these three guys really make it for me. Don’t ask me to tell you why because I don’t know. You can’t explain love.

So my heart was understandably broken when I heard on Monday that Martin Milner had passed away. A wonderful man and a wonderful actor, there are a whole lot of people sad and rightfully so.

But I’m doing a fair bit of mourning, not unlike what I did when James MacArthur died back in 2010. Ross Martin passed away back in 1981, long before I identified as a rerun junkie and discovered him, but I imagine I would have mourned just as much for him then if I had.

My last TV boyfriend is gone.

There’s a very odd sort of emotional duel going on in my being right now because the actor died, but the character I love will live forever because that’s how reruns work. That’s not to say that I don’t adore Martin Milner, because I do. I love watching him in other stuff, too. He’s in one of my favorite episodes of Murder, She Wrote and I’ve seen him in Route 66 as well as in some of my other reruns. I’m delighted to see him in anything, just as I’m delighted to see James MacArthur or Ross Martin play different characters. It’s a trip to see James MacArthur, Danno for crying out loud, play a right jerk and do it well. And Ross Martin is probably one of my favorite actors of all time because the ease at which he could seem to play any character, from psychotic bastard to wounded, vulnerable human.

Those three people are gone, but their characters live on.

Pete Malloy will never die. He’ll never wither, he’ll never age. There’s no risk that he’ll get cancer or suffer a stroke. Any injuries he sustains, any illnesses he contracts, he’ll recover. I know he’ll recover. Because I’ve seen it all before. He’ll always exist in a sort of frozen bit of time, a safe place where my TV boyfriend will always be waiting.

But the man that brought Pete Malloy to life, that gave him the essence and personality and emotion and face that I love has passed away and I’m really bummed about that.

Safe travels across the horizon, Mr. Milner. Thanks for everything. I really appreciate it.

September Writing Projects

Yellow flowersThe busy month of August ended up being a little less busy thanks to some cancellations and an unscheduled week off, so I was able to get some little things done that I didn’t anticipate, including a rearrangement of my writing schedule for the rest of the year.

That was nice.

And this month I have a planned two week vacation at the end of this month/beginning of next month, so if I can work those weeks like I worked that unscheduled vacation week, I could very well exceed my productivity expectations.  But let’s not get ahead of myself here.

I’m still revising (Vampires) Made in America and I’ll spend this week wrapping that up. I thought I’d end up revising it down to a novella, but cutting out a whole POV and a bunch of redundant, pointless stuff didn’t even get it below 50,000 words. So, I’ve settled on it being a short novel. There’s nothing wrong with that. I did some preliminary, loose outlining on End of the (Werewolf) Curse, which will be the next Outskirts book and NaNo project, and I think it will follow suit as a short novel.

Once that’s done, I’m going to spend the bulk of the month revising the novella-turned-novel that still doesn’t have a title. I’ve itched to get back at it as soon as I figuratively typed “The End”. I’ve been thinking about it a lot and jotting some of the thoughts that come into my brain. We’ll see if any of them work out when I give it a read and get going on it.

If the timing permits, I may write a quick short story called “The Wind Chime Tree” in between novel revisions as a palette cleanser. I got the idea during one of my dog sitting stints (one was planned, one was an emergency) and I think it will make a nice, quick little ghost story for the ghost anthology I’ve been slowly working on. If the timing doesn’t work out, that’s cool. I can do it next month.

This month, though, should be much more relaxed.

Of Dreams and Revelations

ThinkingI’m one of those weirdos that thinks sometimes your dreams are messages from your subconscious.

Not all dreams, obviously. At least I certainly hope not since I have what I like to call the nightmare trait and tend to have a lot of bad dreams. I’m used to them now; rarely does a dream upset me enough to keep me awake. And many of them end up being great fodder for stories. There’s no waking trigger for them (like watching a horror movie, for example). That’s just how my brain works.

My poor youngest niece has the same thing. She is somewhat comforted by the fact that Aunt Kiki deals with the bad dreams, too, and that she’ll get used to them. In the meantime, I’ve told her of a few ways she can cope with them. So far, it’s seemed to help her, but we’ve both agreed that we don’t our dreams coming true. No one would want that. Trust us.


I think most dreams are probably just the brain’s way of entertaining itself while everything recharges. It takes whatever it finds lying around and uses it to put on a production, like some kids in a backyard on a summer afternoon or Roger Corman.

But sometimes, I really do think that the subconscious uses dreams to send a message to the conscious. I think the conscious brain continually asks the same question that the subconscious knows the answer to and the subconscious finally gets tired of the conscious being so damn stupid when the Answer. Is. Right. There. that it blasts the brain with the knowledge it seeks in the form of a dream.

Granted, sometimes it’s like trying to figure out interpretive dance.

And sometimes you don’t need to have a dream symbol book handy to understand the message that you’re receiving because your subconscious is so tired of you being an idiot that it basically stopped short of spelling everything out.

It, in fact, drew you a picture.

I had one of those dreams the other night about something that I’ve been thinking about off and on for the past several months. Sure, there were fantastical elements to the dream (a fashion show? why am I wearing a dress that looks like I stole it out of Blanche Devereaux’s closet? why is there a kiddie race track in the middle of this? night, day, night, day, winter, fall, pick one and stick with it!), but the overall message of the dream couldn’t be clearer. I woke up feeling like the biggest moron in world because the answer I had been seeking, had been ruminating over all summer trying to find, was in my brain all along, Toto. Should have clicked my heels so I could have found it quicker.

I feel like I need to send apology flowers to my subconscious.

What I See Ain’t What You Get

Did I mention the Ursula purse? Oh yeah. I took my Ursula purse.

Did I mention the Ursula purse? Oh yeah. I took my Ursula purse.

Last week I went to my cousin’s wedding. It was a simple, pretty affair in a ballroom that was decorated subtly, but effectively. The ceremony was very sweet and I had a great time visiting with family I don’t see very often.

Now this is the first wedding I’ve been to in years and I agonized about what to wear. I am one of those people that frets about dressing appropriately for the event. So, I was trying to come up with an outfit/dress that would be appropriate but also wouldn’t make me look like a frump. Because I’m one of those people that frets about looking like the frump that I’m not.

The first outfit I picked (coral shift, purple jewelry, white flats, ’60s style hair and make-up) got scrapped because the dress wouldn’t survive a 2 1/2 drive in 90 degree heat with no a/c. With my roommate Carrie’s help I ended up going with a black, flouncy skirt that I hiked up above my waist, a white cami tucked in (the effect made it look like a color blocked dress), a hot pink shrug, black flats, the purple jewelry and ’60s mod hair I was going to do before, and bright pink lipstick. I thought it was super cute and not at all old, fat. I could drive in it without worrying about wrinkles and I could dance in it without worrying about anything falling out. Total win.

In the few days after the wedding, family posted pictures they’d taken (I took like four because I’m lousy at acquiring photographic evidence of events I attend) and there I was in one of my cousin’s pictures, full on frump while boogying on the dance floor.

No, I'm not wearing tights. I'm just that pale.

No, I’m not wearing tights. I’m just that pale.


This happens a lot.

When I look in the mirror, I see a hot chick. Fat? Yes. Not classically pretty? Yes. But still, I rock the package I’ve got and I think I rock it pretty damn well.

Then I see a picture someone else has taken of me and I’m like, “Holy hell. That’s what everyone else sees.” It’s jarring because I don’t think I look like that at all. I think I’m looking super cute and in reality, I’m looking like an uncool fat girl trying too hard to look cool.

It’s like a magic trick.

And it’s not just pictures, either.

The mirror in my bathroom must be blessed because other mirrors aren’t so kind. For example, I look about thirty pounds heavier in the mirrors during floorset than I do at home. I also look about ten years older. And while the college girls I work with are pulling off the sloppy-cute look with their yoga pants and tank tops and hair messily arranged in an up-do, I look like an old, tired woman who lost the will to fashion even if I put my make-up on just before I left and I’m wearing a cute outfit of t-shirt and pedal pushers (I don’t wear my “good clothes” to dress mannequins) with my sneakers. It’s like something horrible happens on the twenty minute drive to work. Because I know I didn’t leave the house looking that way.

The point of this isn’t to fish for compliments. My ego probably shouldn’t be fed. I’m just acknowledging that there’s an obvious gap between what I see and what everyone else sees.

It’s a little disappointing to know that my hot looks are all in my head and no one else can see them.

You guys are being deprived.