The Road Ahead

I am not a political person. I don’t get involved in political groups or activities. I just barely know the basics of the American political landscape. Politics bore me.

This presidential election was different. The outcome of this campaign was so fundamental to the very survival of so many Americans, that even the most uninterested person had to pay attention.

I was interested.

And when it was all over, I was devastated. I watched as the results started coming in and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I kept asking, “How is this happening?”

What that really meant was, how could so many people in this country vote for a sexist, racist, homophobic, tax-evading, hatemongering, vulgar, inappropriate, inexperienced, spoiled brat who sexually assaulted women and bragged about it?

I just can’t wrap my brain around that.

Regardless of how you feel about Hillary Clinton, by electing Trump, we’ve basically told the entire world that you can say and do anything you want and behave any way you want and you can still be president.healing-takes-courage-and-we-all-have-courage-even-if-we-have-to-dig-a-little-to-find-it-tori-amos

The implications of that are horrifying to think about.

I don’t want to go into a whole analysis of what just happened—there’s a lot of that already going on. I just wanted to express my grief, my anger, my shock and dismay, my fear, and the sense of oppression that I haven’t felt since my teen years.

We’re about to embark on a very dangerous road. There are many dark corners up ahead, and many bad people lurking in them, ready to jump out and hurt you.

Be careful out there, my friends. Check the dark corners, and look out for each other. We need to stick together more than ever.


Halloween is my favorite season, and paranormal is my favorite genre to write. I wrote here last week that I’ve been told that paranormal doesn’t sell in the lesfic universe, and that really bummed me out.

But I decided that even if I write other genres, I can’t give up my paranormal. Like a ghostly voice, it calls to me, and I must answer. And I realized that a good chunk of my body of work is paranormal. If you’re looking for something to read this weekend, while you’re setting up the bowls of candy and waiting for the little ones (and some not-so-little ones) to ring your bell, maybe you’d like to give some of my stuff a try. Each one is a little different, so maybe you’ll find something that suits your tastes.

Twice Bitten

Have a Bite

“Strega” in Tales of the Grimoire

“Love Bites” in When the Clock Strikes Thirteen

Happy reading and…


The Scenic Route

After a long, busy summer, I finally have been able to catch up on a little leisure TV watching. I finally got to watch Orange Is the New Black and Luke Cage, and today I started watching the 5th season of American Horror Story, Hotel. Yeah, it’s been that long since I’ve been able to just sit and watch anything. american-horror-story-hotel-title

So, I’m watching AHS, and the character played by Sarah Paulson, Sally, is a junkie. In one scene, she’s sitting at the bar with Detective John Lowe sort of explaining her addiction. She said it was “like how you imagine heaven, pure light” and that she kept trying to climb higher. To get closer to that light. Then she compares that feeling to “an endless ladder where all you do is get further and further away.”

That’s kind of how I’ve been feeling lately. Like I’m on a ladder trying to find something. Not necessarily ecstasy or a light of some sort, or even enlightenment. Just…something. And the more I climb, the higher the top seems. Is that what it’s like for people climbing really high mountains, like Mt. Everest or the Himalayas? After a while, it must get really exhausting and scary, doesn’t it?ahshotel-hplg

The example I usually use is that I feel like a gerbil on a wheel—I just keep running and running and I don’t get anywhere.

But there are people who say that the destination is not the important thing—it’s the journey. And I fully agree with that. There’s no point on going on a road trip if you don’t stop at a few road stands to sample the local tomatoes, or take the scenic route once in a while to take in the splendor of the countryside, or shoreline, or winding mountain roads.


But no one has only one destination in life, right? There are many trips we take in our lifetimes. Not all of them will be of the same caliber. Some will be fun, some won’t. Some will be of our own choosing, some will be out of necessity. Whatever the destinations of those trips, the journey will be the part that holds the most memories.

So, whatever your destination, enjoy the view and stop for a taste of the tomatoes. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll consult Guy Fieri’s list of stops from Diners, Drive-ins and Dives to find just the right spot for that plate of fish and chips or bowl of chili.

Happy driving.



All About the Paranormal

October! I get really excited when I flip the calendar from September to October. There’s just so much to love about this autumn month.

Have a Bite

Have a Bite

First, well, it’s autumn. Who doesn’t love autumn? I’ve heard people say they hate winter or summer, but I’ve never heard anyone say they hate autumn.

I love all thing Halloween-y: ghosts, witches, vampires, pumpkins, leaves…

And I guess it’s no surprise—especially if you follow my writing at all—that paranormal is my favorite genre. And so I was saddened to be told by more than one publisher that paranormal doesn’t sell. It really mystifies me because there’s so much of it out there—from movies to TV shows to books. Yet, in lesfic, paranormal is toward the bottom of the chain.

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To Sleep, Perchance…

I’ve been a very busy bee these past few weeks. So much so that my house is starting to show signs of neglect and my energy level is frustratingly low.

I flew to Washington (state, not D.C.) to attend the wedding party of Women and Words admin Jove Belle. That was a really fun trip that included a rainy day in Fallen Leaf Lake Park, a trip to Astoria, OR (where Goonies and other movies were made), a stroll through a street market, a tasting at a couple of distilleries (which resulted in a purchase of apple pie moonshine and a couple of drinking vinegars), a viewing of seals sunning themselves on a pier, a long drive through scenic, winding, forest-y roads, a climb up to the top of a tower (the view from which was amazing), an introduction of New York bagels and black and white cookies to a bunch of people who had no idea what they’ve been missing, and a very long flight home.

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Through the Smoke

Two years ago, my writers’ group, The Penheads, released their first anthology, called Hunger: Stories of Desire, Discovery, and Dissatisfaction. Now I’m happy to announce that we’ve released our second volume. This one is called Smoke: Tales Between Dark and Light.HUNGER COVER FINAL

When we conceived this theme, we wanted something that could cover a broad spectrum of emotions, story lines, and characters. The reason for this is quite simple: we are a group of five very different writers. We like to write about different things and in very different ways. Smoke seemed like the perfect idea because like people’s ideas, it is strong when present, but can be fleeting, and can mean so many different things.

I’d like to share with you here the introduction:

Dear Reader of Smoke: Tales Between Dark and Light

We’re glad you decided to check out our tenebrous world.

Here are the smoky stories we’ve written just for you:SMOKE COVER FINAL

  • A subtly frightening tale. In the sinister world of our first story—Carrie Vaccaro Nelkin’s The Bar at the End of the World—a grieving husband tries to cheat death, and finds that a horrifying price must be paid.
  • A mystery within a dream. In J. M. Levinton’s In the Smoke, a young man who is being tortured by a haunting receives help from entities usually perceived as evil.
  • An Olympic-class athlete finds love. Next we turn from the dark side to the snow-covered mountains of Colorado. In Making Tracks, by R.G. Emanuelle, Ronnie, a young woman who has come to Colorado to train for the World Skiing Championships, befriends dark-eyed, kind-hearted Dee, and quickly falls for her. Too bad Dee is straight….
  • Is this a date, or not? In our fourth offering, Anne E. Wagenbrenner’s Litmus Test, it’s Valentine’s Day, and two lesbians from Astoria, Queens, are on their first date. But when Lydia arrives at Catherine’s home, she does a sudden about-face, saying that they are only friends. Catherine, who is smitten with Lydia, is taken on an emotional roller coaster ride as Lydia reveals, little by little, how her own ghosts and demons—this time, the psychological kind—have scared her straight.
  • Was it enough? In our final story, Arielle Prose’s Still Secret Silence, we visit a couple at the beginning of their relationship, and then again after retirement. Hearing their separate thoughts, we find, in this story, a picture of marriage: its dissatisfaction, its anger, and its comfort.

We hope you enjoy our tales of horror, as well as our tales of love. In both, our characters seek to find the thing that will bring them peace or joy, often as ephemeral and elusive as a cloud of smoke—and just as difficult to grasp.

With such a diverse collection of stories, there’s bound to be something everyone likes. And who knows, maybe you’ll like all five of them. I hope you’ll join us on our journey through the haze with Smoke.

Happy reading!






Today I Did Nothing

Yes, that’s right. Today I did nothing. Why is this noteworthy? Because I NEVER do nothing. I can’t remember a day when I did nothing, unless I was away. When I’m home, there’s always too much to do, so when I have a day off from work, it’s always packed with “things to be done.”

Before today, I would have felt the need to make use of the extra time and run some errands or do some chores that I’d been putting off. I did feel that pang of guilt this morning, truth be told. I debated going out to do some things: I needed to go to the bank, the store, and Staples. But in the end, I said nope. No can do. Today I want…no, need…to relax.


Here’s what I did: Had coffee. Had breakfast. Took a shower. Took a nap. Ate lunch. Watched a movie. Had a snack. Hung a plant. Unloaded the dishwasher. Ate dinner. Did a Skype call. Had a snack. Watched TV. Played on Facebook.

This is unheard of for me. I’ve been so driven my entire adult life to “accomplish” stuff, that I’ve neglected my own health, mental and physical. I’m finally, at the ripe age of 23…yeah, that’s right…learning how to slow down and rest.

That initial guilt I felt at the beginning of the day gave way to acceptance and acknowledgment that it was okay to rest, to spend some time recharging and regenerating.1-74

I’m sharing this because I wish I’d learned this lesson years ago. The lesson is that life goes by quickly and you should stop to enjoy it now and then. The world will keep rotating on its axis, and when you’ve regenerated, your “stuff” will still be there waiting for you.

As writers, we need to experience life in order to write about it, and part of that experience is the quiet moments, when we’re just sitting reading a book, or lying with our eyes closed listening to the sounds outside. From there we can understand so much.

Slow down, and taste life.