Changes Among Other Things #changes #growingup

Now that I’ve achieved the milestone age of 62, I’m going to make some changes around here. I’ve been reading and pondering, writing and revising. I’m close to retiring from my day job, but not quite ready for the big plunge into full-time writing. That doesn’t keep me from planning, however.

I’m not much of a planner, though. I often set goals only to lose sight of them for bright shiny objects–ooh, look, an albino squirrel!

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Albino squirrel.

In other words, I get distracted easily. That might change when I’ve left my position and will have fewer demands for my attention. But I haven’t left … yet.

In the meantime, I’m taking some baby steps. One of the first things I did was join Medium’s Partner Program, and I’ve been spending some time publishing essays through Medium. My latest essay–What’s in a Name?–broaches a change I’m making incrementally. It’s not a huge change; basically, just going from my full middle name to my middle initial without the period. Marie A Bailey is my legal name and I’ve decided to embrace it. That means that eventually I won’t be showing up as “1WriteWay” in comments anymore. I’m keeping that domain name for now, but I need to transition away from it.

Another thing I’m doing is revising my novel Clemency. My friend Katie Sullivan lit the fire under me to join CampNaNoWri. [By the way, I am so excited that Katie is working on the third book in her Changelings trilogy!]

So far Camp been a success in helping me face the horrors of revisiting and revising. Really, having to read the same crap words I’ve read so many times before is boring at best but I’m slogging through. I hope to end with 85,000 words, up from the roughly 71,000 words from my last draft. Then I’ll have to send it off for another beta read or, ideally, an edit … or two … or …. sigh.

I’ve also been researching ways to make my blog look more professional so agents and publishers and readers will see me for the blockbuster writer I am. Allison K. Williams offers some good advice in her essay on Brevity.com, www.you.com: The Author Website.

Rose Mary Griffin also offers great tips in her post on working with WordPress: 15 Things Not to do in WordPress. I’m on the fence about which WordPress plan I should upgrade to. I hate the ads they include with my posts (do people really click on those?), so I’ll get the Personal Plan at a minimum. So my blog might change soon and radically. I want to make visiting my website/blog a pleasurable experience for my visitors and readers regardless of what hell I have to go through to get there.

If anyone reading this has a paid plan with WordPress, please feel free to share your experience (worth the $$, waste of $$) in the comments below. I’ll make up my own mind (in other words, no finger pointing if I make a decision I later regret), but I love to consider all possible options.

Life is short but that’s no reason not to grow and change. So says Davie Bowie.

 

 

 

 

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Living in the Moment: Sea Creatures and Beaches #MondayBlogs #marinelife #saltlife

On Saturday, after years and years of waiting, I finally turned 62 years old. To some of you, I probably seem ancient; to a few others, I’m just a young pup. To the rest, I’m in good company.

Over the years I’ve become indifferent to having a birthday. Yes, the alternative would be worse, but I’m just too much of an introvert to want a big deal made of it. Small gestures are the best: goodies from Australia; Facebook messages with birthday emojis; a shower of Tweets; thoughtful cards from friends and coworkers. The small gestures make me feel loved but not overwhelmed.

I took Friday off work with the vague idea of going to a beach. All I knew is I wanted to wade and experience that bit of Florida that I don’t often make time for, the salty side of Florida.

We headed out and did what we do best–make up our plans as we go. First stop was The Edward Ball Dining Room at the Lodge in Wakulla Springs.

My husband showing his preferred side at the entrance to the Lodge in Wakulla Springs.

It’s an “old-timey” kind of dining room, spacious with tall windows, tables covered with heavy white tablecloths, low black leather swivel chairs. The Lodge’s website will give you the best feel of the place: https://thelodgeatwakullasprings.com/. It tends to be dark inside so I decided against trying to take pictures.

We had a wonderful lunch. The last time we had eaten at the Lodge was in March 2001, a few days before I was to have major surgery. The menu then was good but definitely heavy on Southern cuisine. It’s improved since with more salad options and vegetarians entrees. The Lodge also includes a soda fountain so, yeah, ice cream for dessert.

Back in the car with full bellies. It’s already late afternoon but we’re on our way again. My desired goal is to go to Mashes Sands Beach, a semi-secluded beach that we’d only been to a couple of times before, the last time almost two years ago, another “Living in the Moment” experience: https://1writeway.com/2016/07/05/living-in-the-moment-mashes-sands-and-more-fiddler-crabs-nature-fiddler-crabs/ .

We made another but slight detour, this time to the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory Aquarium. Another place we had not been to in years. As we toured the tanks, a young docent attached herself to me, making sure I got to meet and greet each urchin, starfish, and whelk they had. What’s a whelk, you ask? It’s a gastropod, or mollusk. Some, like the crown conch, are herbivores, but the whelks can be downright cannibalistic. Here are some scenes from the Marine Lab.

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The Lab was great fun, especially for the little kids. We also saw nurse sharks and manta rays being fed. The aquarium part of the Lab is not huge; it’s rather modest and comparatively low-tech, but it’s purpose is more to educate than entertain.

From the Lab, we headed to Mashes Sands where we waded, Greg taking photographs of insects and me looking for signs of marine life. Thanks to our visit at the Lab, I had the added benefit of being able to name what I saw.

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I’m not a swimmer, although I know how to swim, and I’m a bit afraid of deep water because I know I’m likely to not be alone (especially in Florida where the bays teem with sharks, and rivers and lakes teem with alligators and snakes). But I love being near water. In these moments, I feel like I could forget and just exist in peace.

 

My photographs of Mashes Sands pale compare to those of David Moynahan. Here’s some real eye candy: https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/1/mashes-sands

To bring the day to a perfect close, on our way back home, we spied this:

Albino squirrel.

That white speck is an albino squirrel. First one I ever saw in my life.

This was by far the best day I had in a long time, spent with the love of my life, cavorting with Nature. I hope you enjoyed it too.

Thanks for coming by to visit!

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Musical Monday: Glen Campbell channeling the spirit of Roy Orbison #MondayBlogs #GlenCampbell #RoyOrbison

When I was a teenager I enjoyed watching the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour with my neighbor. I wasn’t a fan of Campbell, but I had a crush on John Hartford, the quiet banjo picker who wrote Campbell’s signature song, Gentle on My Mind. Campbell was quite popular in those days; I never felt I could escape him. When a brother-in-law gave me guitar lessons, I plucked away at the Witchita Lineman or By the Time I Get to Phoenix. I had no ear for music, didn’t know how to tune a guitar and then my sister and brother-in-law divorced. For me, a face-saving end to an unpromising musical career.

I occasionally heard of Campbell after his career seemed to stall amid some troubles: a tabloid-esque affair with Tanya Tucker, cocaine, DUIs. I resented how he had presented himself as such a good old boy when he was no better than the rest. And then, in 2011, I heard he had Alzheimer’s and all I could think was, “Oh, no, not him.”

I had grown up with Glen Campbell. My complicated feelings toward him, I realized, were so much like the complicated feelings I have toward anyone I’ve grown up with. He was like that much older brother that you regularly get pissed off with, but can’t quite turn your back on.

Sometime after his death, I had an opportunity to watch a documentary about Campbell, I’ll Be Me. I watched the first thirty minutes and then turned it off. That’s not how I want to remember him.

Recently I came across this video. Roy Orbison is another favorite of mine, and I love Campbell’s rendition. More than that, I love watching Campbell’s joy in singing and playing. That’s how I’ll remember him.

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Is It Too Much to Ask #VirginiaBeachShooting

Is it too much to ask

That when I washed my face at the sink in my gym

I did not see the CNN news-crawl crawling with the words “another mass shooting.”

Is it too much to ask

That I don’t bear this knowledge alone

That I can tell my husband as soon as I get home, to share the pain, the horror

Is it too much to ask

That I don’t keep silent during dinner

That I don’t refrain from sharing the pain because he doesn’t know yet

I don’t want to be the one to break his heart

Is it too much to ask

That I wake up in the morning not feeling anxious and afraid

And when I do wake up feeling anxious and afraid

It’s only because I had too much wine last night, or had a bad dream that I don’t remember

Is it too much to ask

That I don’t get used to this

this murder-suicide that my country seems so intent on committing

Is it too much to ask

That I don’t feel a need to write these words instead of working on my novel or my essays or my short stories or anything but my grief over another mass shooting

That my grief doesn’t grow with every shooting, every time one person is injured, one person is killed

Is it too much to ask

To not talk about how mass shootings could be prevented if only:

if only that shooter hadn’t been bullied by his fellow students

if only that shooter hadn’t lost his job

if only that shooter had met a “decent” woman who would have sex with him

if only the Tree of Life Synagogue had had better security

if only houses of God were not perceived as sanctuaries

if only the Hot Yoga Tallahassee studio had had metal detectors at the entrance

if only the yogis hadn’t been in child pose and at peace

if only the worshipers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church hadn’t welcomed the shooter to pray with them

if only they hadn’t had so much faith

if only everyone carried a gun

if only we all lived in constant fear would we be free

Is it too much to ask

to live in a society that values the freedom to go about our daily lives unmolested and unafraid, not worrying about whether today is the day you die because you went

to your yoga practice

to your place of worship

to the movie theater

to a concert

to work

Is it too much to ask

To live without fear

To live without being in a constant state of grief

 

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Theodore Albers, WW II Veteran #MondayBlogs #MemorialDay2019

I wasn’t born yet when my family moved in next to you.

My older sister got your heart first. You still had dark hair. You often told me how pleased you were when my family moved in. You never had children of your own. You never married. My family came ready-made for you.

Did your heart sing when I was born? Perhaps more than my mother’s heart?

Anyone looking would see how you took possession of me like a blood relative, like a grandfather aching for a child to caress and teach and spoil.

Your hair is now gray at the sides. I don’t remember this photo (I was only a year old) but it doesn’t surprise me to see myself as full in the moment, on your lap, feeling loved.

You wouldn’t miss my birthdays. Somehow it seemed that you enjoyed them more than anyone else, maybe more than me. I felt like everything I did interested you, entertained you. Even simply opening a gift, my self-consciousness starting to show, the one-year-old’s glee giving way to the four-year-old’s apprehension.

You let me be wild and plastic where my own family wanted me quiet and still. I didn’t have to be still around you. I could, as I often did, suspend myself between your refrigerator and chair. I wore dresses but acted like a tomboy, flashing my cotton underwear. I was too young for anyone to think twice.

You let me play-act. I’m a famous movie actress enjoying a drink by your pool. I spent more time in your house, your backyard than in my own.

It seems sometimes I hung on to you for dear life.

And we might have both liked cats … at least I did.

You served your country. You were inducted into the Army on March 9, 1942, a few months before you would have been considered too old to serve. Earlier they had rejected you because of your varicose veins, but then they changed their minds, as the bodies came home or soldiers went missing.

You told me how the other men called you “Pop” because of your age, how you wrote letters for the ones who could not write, protected the vulnerable from the bullies in the camps. You cooked, something you enjoyed anyway, until August 1944, when you were attached to General Patch’s Seventh Army. You never told me how you saw your friend shot in the middle of the forehead while you were both fighting from a foxhole. You never told me how you went into shock, had to be hospitalized, and then was sent back to the Front.

You did tell me you were captured by the Germans.

From a local newspaper: George Albers has been notified by the War Department that his brother, Corp. Theodore Albers has been reported missing since December 23, 1944 in Belgium. The last his family heard from him was December 15, 1944.

You remained missing until Germany surrendered and you were found in a POW camp. You were quiet about your experience, only saying that often you subsisted on only black bread and water and that you had to be deloused before leaving Germany.

As you saw the end of your life growing near, you talked more.

They would only feed us every three or four days. And we had to work in a steel factory. One day I said, “I won’t work if I can’t eat.” Well, that was the wrong thing to say. They wore these long, thick leather gloves and the guard hit me across the face, knocked my glasses off. Then he kicked me where I shouldn’t be kicked and beat me so bad I was in the hospital for, oh … five or six months. I don’t remember where they took me. Just I was gone for five or six months.

You got smaller over the years, and I got taller. The last time I saw you, the last time we hugged, your head rested on my chest.

You died on April 5, 1994, but you still live in my heart.

RIP Theodore Albers, World War II veteran, former Prisoner of War. Thank you for your service, but more than that, thank you for being the best part of my life.

 

 

 

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More of the Same Publishing News #writingcommunity #ampublished

I don’t think anything warms a writer’s heart as much as seeing her story in print. Two stories, double the warmth. You could triple or even quadruple my warmth by clicking the links provided below and ordering a copy or two which will net me a small commission.

Okay, I’m done marketing.

First up in my double-header: America’s Emerging Literary Fiction Writers!

See here, about halfway down the page, is my story title and my name:

It’s enough to make me dance in my chair.

The short story in in this volume is “Love Me Tender,” about one morning in the life of Irene Newkirk, a middle-aged woman coming to grips with her husband’s mental illness and the weight of caring for her teen-aged daughter as well as keeping up appearances.

I wrote my first draft of this story in 1992, in a fiction workshop with the late Jerome Stern at Florida State University. I remember being surprised at how well it was received and, in particular, Stern’s enthusiasm over how well I could “do cold.” Well, yeah, I can definitely “do cold” after surviving twenty-one New York winters in a two-story house with only a first-floor furnace for heat. They say heat rises, but when you’re on the second floor and it’s double-digits below zero, heat don’t rise high enough.

My second story is in this anthology, America’s Emerging Suspense Writers. The Deep South:

And again, my name and story in print. Swoon.

Even though I do not consider myself a Southerner, even though some don’t even consider Florida as part of the Deep South given its history and demographics, and even though my story takes place in upstate New York, I think it’s kind of cool being in an anthology that marks me as an emerging writer in the Deep South. Well, it’s kind of cool being in any anthology.

“Together Forever,” is a horror story, one involving a different middle-aged woman. Vicky Brooks is a real estate agent in an economically depressed part of New York. She yearns to escape the cold dreariness of her hometown and her husband. She hopes to get that chance with Miss Smith, a potential buyer for a broken-down mansion, except there is something rather odd about Miss Smith.

If either of these stories interests you, then I hope you’ll take a chance on my writing and help me fully emerge. Here again are the links:

America’s Emerging Literary Fiction Writers

America’s Emerging Suspense Writers. The Deep South

Finally, here’s a correction for those of you who still have “Hello Julia” on a loop from last Monday’s post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Promotion, Fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Musical Monday: Kristen Wiig and James Corben #MondayBlogs #humor

Because sometimes we need to laugh …

Posted in Music | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Orchids and Publishing News Redux #writingcommunity #ampublished

I have it: America’s Emerging Literary Fiction Writers! It is beyond my vocabulary to describe how I feel at seeing my name in a list of published writers. (And how grateful I am that my last name begins with “B.”) By the way, if you use the link above to purchase or any other volume by Z Publishing, I get a small commission.

The short story in in this volume is “Love Me Tender.” It’s the story of one morning in the life of Irene Newkirk, a middle-aged woman coming to grips with her husband’s mental illness and the weight of caring for her teen-aged daughter as well as keeping up appearances.

If you have no clue what I’m talking writing about, visit my post here: Orchids, Butterflies, and Publishing News #MondayBlogs #amwriting

And just because so many of you enjoyed the orchids from my last post, here they are again. Enjoy!

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Orchids, Butterflies, and Publishing News #MondayBlogs #amwriting

No excuses. Life is busy, and if some of my absence from social media is because I’m living in the moment, well, won’t you join me? In spite of the news (which I only see when I dare to look, which is less often these days), there’s joy to be found.

First up: orchids. About a week ago my husband and I went to Gainesville, Florida, to visit a couple of friends. One of the many fun things we did was go to the Florida Museum of Natural History (https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/). The best part of the museum is the Butterfly Rainforest, a live exhibit of free-flying butterflies and birds, non-flying turtles and fish. And orchids … oh, the orchids.

 

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The butterflies were very active. One became rather attached to the back of my hand. I was able to transfer him to my husband’s hand. Later we learned that he was likely “drinking” up the minerals in our sweat.

IMG_0867 (1)The museum has its own live web cam giving you a bird’s eye view of the rainforest canopy: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/exhibits/butterfly-rainforest/canopy-cam/.

Or you can view my modest attempt at filming the very active butterflies here on YouTube: Butterfly Rainforest

Well, I hope you all enjoy the photos … what, wait! Oh, I almost forgot … heh, heh.

Z Publishing House has accepted TWO of my short stories for their 2019 Emerging Writers Series. Each story will be published in a different anthology in the series. You might recall that I had a short short story published in their 2018 Florida’s Emerging Writers Series (that post is here). I know, when do I stop emerging? A friend suggested I should adopt a pen name like Chris Alys (as in Chrysalis). All I can say is, I’m happy to keep emerging as long as Z Publishing House is happy to publish my stories.

I guess I should tell you a bit about the stories.

“Love Me Tender” is literary fiction, a story of one morning in the life of Irene Newkirk, a middle-aged woman coming to grips with her husband’s mental illness and the weight of caring for her teen-aged daughter as well as keeping up appearances. Stay tuned for the link to the anthology in which this story will be included.

“Together Forever,” is a horror story, one involving a different middle-aged woman. Vicky Brooks is a real estate agent in an economically depressed part of New York. She yearns to escape the cold dreariness of her hometown and her husband. She hopes to get that chance with Miss Smith, a potential buyer for a broken-down mansion, except there is something rather odd about Miss Smith. If you use this link — America’s Emerging Suspense Writers — to purchase this anthology, I’ll get a small commission. If you prefer to use Amazon, you can pick up a copy here: Amazon link

I should also mention that the first draft of “Love Me Tender” was written in 1992 for a fiction workshop. The first draft of “Together Forever” was written in 2006 for an online writing course.

Never let go of your stories, and never ever give up.

Many heartfelt thanks to all of you have supported me over the years. And a big THANK YOU to Kevin Brennan, author and editor at Indie-Scribable Editorial Services for editing my stories and giving me the bump I needed to get published. MWAH!

 

 

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A Different Kind of Book Review: 52 Stories in 52 Weeks by Phillip McCollum #bookreview #Mondayblogs

The following is a work of fiction, but the sentiments about Phillip McCollum’s collection of short stories, 52 Stories in 52 Weeks, are factually based. You can skip this different kind of book review and go directly to Fantastic Shorts for more information on how to get your own copy of this collection of great short stories. Or proceed and then you know, you’ll want your own copy. I promise you.

***

Kate was having a good morning. After two years of living with Michael’s half-sister Misty, they finally had their small condo to themselves. Last night, the three of them christened Misty’s new apartment with a champagne-sized bottle of sparkling apple cider. Kate was proud of Misty. She had been on the fast track to becoming a juvenile alcoholic. Her stint in prison cut that short, but since being released Misty not had taken a sip of anything alcoholic. Instead, she veered to the other extreme and banned alcohol from her apartment. She would not relent even to celebrate her new home. Kate and Michael respected her rules, knowing that a chilled bottle of Chardonnay waited for them in their own home.

This morning, Kate was puttering around, filling in the gaps that Misty had left behind. First she wanted to tidy up her and Michael’s bedroom. She smiled as she smoothed down the comforter and inched around the corner to Michael’s side of the bed.

“Ow!” As usual, Kate was running around barefoot, enjoying the feel of cool tiles on a day that promised to be hot and humid. Her right big toe had just made violent contact with something that felt like a brick. Kate looked down at the offender. It was a book. A big book.

“Are you okay?” Michael had been enjoying his coffee on their little balcony and was by Kate’s side in a matter of seconds.

“Uh, yeah, I just stubbed my toe on this … geeze … it’s the size of those Norton anthologies I had to read in college.” Using both her hands, Kate lifted the book and looked accusingly at Michael. “Must you leave this on the floor?”

“Must you not look where you’re going? It’s right next to the bed stand, Kate, which you’ll notice is already stacked with books, some of which are yours.”

Kate sighed. Michael had put himself on a fast track to get a dual bachelor’s degree in literature and history. Most of the books piled next to the bed were hers but from when she was a college student. Now that she was an adjunct at the community college, she had little time for leisure reading. She gazed longingly at the stack of novels. Then she looked back at the book she was holding. “Is this assigned reading?”

The tome was titled 52 Stories in 52 Weeks. She didn’t recognized the author Phillip McCollum, but the subtitle definitely intrigued her: One writer’s journey in tackling, shackling, and shooting his inner critic.

“No, I wanted to have a break now and then from my assignments. God, I love to read, but sometimes I just want to read and not be analyzing. This is a collection of short stories and the cool thing is I don’t need to analyze anything. I can just enjoy the stories and the author follows each one with a brief explanation of how he wrote the story.”

Kate started flipping through the pages, being careful not to move the bookmark out of its place. “Wow, there’s mind maps in here.”

“Yeah, isn’t that cool–”

“And statistics? What kind of writer is McCollum?”

“Oh, he’s very versatile. I think he has a background in technology which would explain how he put this book together. You know, including statistics such as his word count and a synopsis and then his process summary after the story. Sort of reminds me of how I organized and wrote computer programs when I was in the military. Anyway, I know he has a version of his stories without all this extra information, but I jumped at the chance to get the whole kit and kaboodle.”

Kate gave Michael a sideways glance. He was so adorable when he said things like “kit and kaboodle.” Michael was tall and quite well-built. He had allowed his black hair to grow out so he was no longer seen as a Jarhead, but his physical presence could be intimidating to strangers.

“You haven’t finished it.”

“It’s fifty-two stories, Kate.”

“Are they all in the same genre?”

“Oh, no, and that’s another thing I love about this collection! Look.” Michael took the book from her. “The first story is a “weird western” as he calls it. “And then there’s science fiction, horror, some where fantasy is mixed in with sci fi or horror. You could say there’s something for everyone. He mashes up some genres like with “Lights Out: An MC Ruff and DJ Tumble Adventure.” That’s sci fi, mystery and humor.”

Kate tilted her head and appraised Michael as if seeing him for the first time.

“I didn’t figure you for a guy who would like stories like that. I had you pegged as a classic literature or literary fiction kind of guy.”

Michael smiled and leaned in to kiss Kate. “We’ve been together long enough for you to know that I believe in reading widely and often.”

He looked back down at the book. “To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would like some of these stories but McCollum is such a good writer, he got me hooked with each one. “Lights Out” was a real eye-opener for me. I felt sure I wouldn’t be that interested in rappers in outer space but, well, you remember the series Firefly?” Kate nodded. “The story reminds me of that series plus he makes it so believable. It is laugh out loud funny too. I’m only a quarter of the way through his collection, but I’ve enjoyed each of his stories that I’ve read so far. I am partial to his westerns, but that’s just my own interest in history. He really brings to life these old western towns, the hard lives people lived back then, the desperate choices they had to make.”

“Do I have to wait until you’ve finished reading all his stories?” Kate leaned against Michael. She wondered if she could coax him into reading one of the stories out loud to her.

“No, just use a different bookmark. Or you can skip around. He gives the word count for each story so you know how much time it might to take read. Of course, you’re a slow reader so any of them might take you awhile–”

Kate slipped her hand under Michael’s t-shirt and scratched at his naked flesh, causing him to recoil.

“Stop!” He managed to protest in-between giggles.

“Be careful. I know all your soft spots. I’ll stop if you promise to read me a story.”

“Okay!” Kate pulled away and gave Michael a minute to compose himself. For a former Marine, he was pretty easy to incapacitate.

“Let’s start at the top, with “Seven Hundred and Seventy-Six.” It has a Twilight Zone quality to it. I know you’ll love it.”

“Sounds good to me!” Kate plumped and stacked the pillows and positioned herself so she was reclined, her legs resting across Michael’s thighs. What an even better morning this was turning out to be.

***

Just a reminder: You can get more information on ordering 52 Stories in 52 Weeks here. This collection is a true treasure trove of damn good writing.

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments