Renewal: An anthology of flash fiction

QSF Renewal-Print

I am pleased to be included in this new anthology from Mischief Corner Books.  My flash fiction story, The Shaman, received an honorable mention in the contest.  The book is full of excellent short fiction, all with LGBT themes. QSF has a new book out, the latest in our series of flash fiction anthologies: (noun)

1) Resuming an activity after an interruption, or
2) Extending a contract, subscription or license, or
3) Replacing or repairing something that is worn out, run-down, or broken, or
4) Rebirth after death.

Four definitions to spark inspiration, a limitless number of stories to be conceived. Only 110 made the cut.

Thrilling to hopeful, Renewal features 300-word speculative fiction ficlets about sexual and gender minorities to entice readers.

Welcome to Renewal.

Mischief Corner Books (info only) | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

Gaywyck, a Gay Gothic Novel


I read Gaywyck, by Vincent Virga, because of a mention in  an article where it was described as the granddaddy of gay gothic fiction. First published in 1980, it has been out of print, but is now available both in paperback and Kindle versions. I was curious enough to order it, and once begun, found the book hard to down.  The writing is dated, but lush and beautiful.  I love tales told in the first person and the author manages it masterfully.

Robert Whyte is our guide through the troubled world of Gaywyck, a turn of the century mansion on Long Island, the ancestral home of Donough Gaylord, who hires seventeen-year-old Robert as the librarian for his vast literary holdings. Robert is a brilliant, sensitive youth, with an unforgiving father and a mother confined to a home for the mentally ill. When he refuses to attend college, his father tells him he must leave his house. Shortly after, a letter arrives offering him the position of librarian at Gaywyck.

At the huge mansion overlooking the sea, Robert is enthralled by the luxury, the art, the books, and the presence of melancholy but kindly Donough.  His father, the elder Gaylord, and Donough’s twin brother, Cormack, were killed in a fire thirteen years before. Now Donough runs the family business, but it seems the tragedy robbed him of the ability to enjoy his life or open himself to love. When he meets the beautiful and impressionable young Robert, everything changes.

Gaywyck is a coming of age story as Robert matures from a naïve student who sees the world through a rose-colored romantic haze into a man who comes to understand the contradictions of the human heart. It is a romance as the friendship between Robert and Donough moves through infatuation into an adult relationship.  It is a mystery as Robert slowly unravels the multi layered history of Donough’s early life at Gaywyck, uncovering horror after horror.  The twists and turns of the plot are more complex than the labyrinth that imprisoned the Minotaur, and although the novel proceeds in a leisurely fashion,  providing the reader with an education on art, literature and philosophy along the way, it picks up speed rapidly as the conclusion draws near.

This book is populated by many extremely odd people, most of whom I would not care to encounter, but the two protagonists, the trusting Robert and the moody Donough, both won my heart. Robert’s initial naiveté was endearing and as he slowly realized the extent of the evil he had stepped into, his struggle to maintain his integrity while integrating the truth of Donough’s past was very real.  Donough slowly comes out of his self-imposed isolation so he can engage with Robert and face his past, forsaking the safety that his wealth and position provide for him.

The novel is overwrought, yes, as are the characters, but the writing is excellent and the journey worth the trip.


Color Yourself Creative!

Color Yourself Creative!

The word is out!

Creativity goes up when stress goes down!

It also turns out that subjective feelings of happiness depend less on what we have and more on what we do.

Who doesn’t want to feel excited at the start of every day? Satisfied with the result of the day’s effort? In harmony with the impulses that spring from within?

So how can we increase our satisfaction with our lives?

Many people bemoan their lack of inspiration. I’m not creative, they say, all the while wishing they could be.

Others are sure they don’t have time. It’s true that we’re all busy. I meet people who say, wistfully, after the kids grow up, after I start making more money, after I retire, THEN I’ll do my creative work.

But what if your inner muse grows weary of waiting? What if your ideas fade to dust because you haven’t put the energy into making them real?

Creativity is like a garden. It you don’t water it, it dries up.  It doesn’t take a lot of water. A regular sprinkle is better than the occasional downpour.

The good news is, you can be creative now. Without quitting your job. Without getting another degree. Without committing to writing a breakout novel or painting the next modern masterpiece.

All you have to do is give yourself the time and space to relax. To let your creative impulses come forth. Creative work comes from play. From downtime. From daydreaming. From noodling with ideas, words, pictures. From giving yourself a gift that only you can give. Permission to be who you are. 

We all have creative gifts. For some, that means serious writing, painting, music, design. For others, it means craftwork. Or nurturing a beautiful environment. Or growing healthy vegetables and beautiful plants. Doesn’t matter where your talents and impulses take you. What matters is that you follow them.

Easy to say, you might sneer, and you’re right. It is easy to say. BUT, it’s also easy to do.

Start small. Allot a short period of time on a regular basis when your creative self can roam free. Turn off the phone, the computer, shut the door and be with yourself.

You could meditate. Read inspirational material. Draw. Write in your journal. Or sit and listen to yourself breathe. Or you could evoke your inner creative self with color!

Color Your Way to Your Creative Self

A great way to relax in your creative time and get those juices flowing is to get an adult coloring book, some crayons or colored pencils and have at it! It’s amazing how relaxing it is to color beautiful designs that an artist has produced. The proliferation of these books speaks to how effective they are, both in reducing stress and promoting creativity.

Books with almost any theme that interests you are available on Amazon. I’ve listed a few below, and there are many others.

Have you tried coloring as part of your creative process?  I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Adult Coloring Book for Stress Relief

Adult Coloring Book Stress Relieving Animal Designs

The Secret Garden Coloring Book

Color Me Calm