Ghost of a Chance


Following the heroic shenanigans chronicled in “Zombie Invaders from Mars…” (you did check that one out in Bruce and Roxanne from Start to Finnish, right?) the grateful town elders offer Bruce a 99-year lease on an old mansion outside of town. Bruce, being Bruce, took them up on it and now…things are about to get lively.

Deciding it will be perfect for a bar-b-que restaurant called “The Stuck Pig,” Bruce and Roxanne move into the mansion, prepared to make it so. But the ghostly residents are not about to make it easy.

Enter the flamboyant fortune-teller Madame Rose to save the day. Or so she claims. Bear in mind, Rose is a stereotype…because it fits the profile of the over-the-top stories.

This story was originally written for a Book in a Week challenge where I decided to write a story a day instead. It introduces several new characters to the canon, and explains why the mansion is officially The Rogers-Vincent Home for Wayward Spirits as well as The Stuck Pig–it even sells T-shirts!

Here is one of my favorite bar-b-que recipes as a bonus. 🙂 (Of course, my husband is vegetarian, so I don’t get to use it much…)


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Love at First Site

Funny overweight cupid aiming with the arrow of love with copy space

While “Love at First Site” is the first story in Bruce and Roxanne from Start to Finnish, it was definitely not the first story written, and it ret-conns things a bit, but that can be dismissed by the time frame of the story in relation to the others if you think about it.

Twelve-year-old Roxanne is checking out The Hobbit at the library when the door blows open with a gust of wind and rain and deposits her arch-nemesis, Bruce Vincent, into the lobby.

Charming the librarian into letting them wait out the rain, Bruce proceeds to get under Roxanne’s skin until something else blows into the room…and then things get interesting.

I don’t want to give it all away, so hopefully, your interest is piqued. 🙂

Sorry to be so short and so late today, but I was busy most of the day getting a Rogue into my party…


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I Promised You Something New This Week

From Start to Finnish

Today we are going to begin an in-depth look at the adventures of two of my favorite characters, “Bruce Vincent and Roxanne Rogers, a restauranteur and his waitress who save the world from supernatural creatures every other week.”

That’s been my elevator pitch for these stories right from the start. Bruce and Roxanne were a warm-up for Jo and Alistair, I think.

Originally, the first story “Zombies from Mars…or Someplace Like That” was written for the Scavenger’s Newsletter Killer Frog Contest, an annual event that unfortunately has ceased to be. The premise was to write an outrageously over-the-top horror story, and this story was the result. It didn’t win, but it did get an Honorable Mention.

Later, when Echelon Press was looking for Dollar Downloads, they were the first to publish this story, along with two more from the set.

When they phased out the line, I talked to Selina Rosen at Yard Dog Press, and we put out a chapbook called Tales from the Home for Wayward Spirits and Bar-B-Que Grill.

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This contained the original three stories published by Echelon, and a brand-new story written for the chapbook.

It proved popular enough that the second chapbook of three longer stories called Bruce and Roxanne Save the World…Again!


Selina decided to take a chance and combine both of the chapbooks into a perfect-bound paperback with two stories originally published online-only, and one original story written for the collection. So, all told, there are ten stories in the book, as well as some bonus material. The covers were done by the amazingly talented Sherri Dean.

A little bit more about “Zombie Invaders From Mars…or Someplace Like That.” This story was a lot of fun to write. I got Bruce Vincent’s name from two of my favorite horror actors and asked my friend Roxanne if I could use her name for my super-practical waitress. There’s only one blindspot in Roxanne’s competency…Bruce Vincent. She is head-over-heels in love from him almost from the day they meet, and Bruce is clueless…or is he? Although it is no longer the first story in the book, I consider it first, so I am going to talk about it today, and go back to “Love at First Site” tomorrow.

Bruce and Roxanne are working a typical night shift at the Beat ‘Em and Eat ‘Em self-serve omelet shop when an accident leads to…unforeseen consequences.

It takes Roxanne’s brains and Bruce’s supernatural luck to come up with a solution to their problem with the zombies from down the hill.

If you would like to know more about Bruce and Roxanne, watch this place for insights about each of the stories. Or, you can get the paperback here from Yard Dog or the Kindle version on Amazon.

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Write What You Know

close up of human hand

Photo by Pixabay on

So, here we are at the final story in RieTales. As you might be able to guess from the title, it was written at a time when I was getting a little frustrated by that perennial advice.

In this little horror story, an aspiring author gets one too many rejection notices and decides to put the advice into practice the only way he can think of. It leads to fame and fortune…but at what cost?

This was before I realized the secret behind the advice. I know I’ve touched on this somewhere before, but I can’t find where.

Write what you know doesn’t mean you have to have experienced everything that you write about. For example, Isaac Asimov did a lot of things, but he wasn’t actually a roboticist. Robert A. Heinlein never traveled to another planet. Anne McCaffery never rode a dragon. But they researched, extrapolated, and considered what they wished to write about and put it down on paper. In other words, if you don’t know what you want to write, learn about it. There are books on almost every subject imaginable. And if you can’t find a book, do field research if you can. If nothing else, learn about related subjects that are close to your idea and think about ways to extrapolate what you know to cover what you have in mind.

And then, of course, there are the things that are entirely imaginary. Vampires, demons, unicorns…no one says you can’t write about them, but ground them in research and reality. Vampires have similarities with bats (it’s in the lore ;). ) What would make a unicorn different in its movements and actions than a horse? By asking yourself these questions, you can bring strength and authenticity to your writing.

I think we should change the advice to “Write What You WANT to Know” — or else the consequences may turn out like those in the story…

What consequences were those? Find out in RieTales from Mocha Memoirs Press!

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mosquito biting on skin

Photo by Jimmy Chan on


I love “Whine.” It was fun to write…and almost impossible to find a home for. I must have shopped it around for two or three years originally. My mother liked it, but no one else seemed to.

I finally found it a home on a website that has long since disappeared. I felt vindicated. 🙂

Then it was in the original RieVisions, and now it is in the current RieTales. My friend Steve Cook has an audio version of it if you want to listen to it.

This is an odd little story. Is it a cautionary tale about mosquitoes, or a tale of madness? Perhaps it is both. Read (or listen) to it for yourself to see. 🙂 Check out RieTales from Mocha Memoirs Press.



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We Must Have Cream for Sunday

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Long before I finally got to visit Ireland last August, I wanted desperately to go. This desire found its way into several stories, including today’s RieTales story, “We Must Have Cream for Sunday.” That explains the setting, but not the content.

I love mining little bits of trivia for ideas. I wrote a song based on something I saw on the internet about Queen Elizabeth I and the bards of Ireland.  (This isn’t the exact thing I saw, but it is interesting and much more detailed.) Soul of a Harper is still my favorite song I’ve written.

A few years later, I had a calendar with a bit of trivia every day. One of the pages had an Irish legend I’d never heard before. I wish I had kept the exact piece of paper, but I didn’t. I wrote a story about it instead. 🙂 Again, I can’t find the precise legend online, but it is related to this one. Instead of butter, it was cream that was made in this highly unusual fashion…

If you want to read the story, get your copy of RieTales from Mocha Memoirs today!

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Stormy Weather — This Story Might Make Some People Uncomfortable…


This RieTales story probably should have a trigger warning, but when I first wrote it, there were no trigger warnings. I’m letting you know now though because the world is different than it once was.

Despite a rather idyllic beginning, the story has a dark core. A young woman sits at home in her apartment watching a storm brewing over the city. As the rain begins to fall,  a pounding on the door brings in a stranger who proves a destructive force in more ways than one.

One of the bits of advice one always hears is “Write what you know,” but sometimes, a writer feels exploring a topic is important, even if they have no personal experience with it. We won’t always get it right. Many readers may feel that I have no business in writing this story and that I have belittled or downplayed the results of her experiences, but what I am trying to show is that not everyone reacts to pain and suffering the same way. For some, there has been so much suffering that it is routine. Commonplace. Just more stormy weather. And that is the horror of it.

If anyone wants to have a discussion about either the story or the advice, feel free to leave a comment below–but let’s keep it civil. Remember, to read it, get your own copy of RieTales from Mocha Memoirs.

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Today is a Twofer…

…because these stories inexorably go together. They can’t be separated. At least since the second one has been written.

You may or may not have noticed that the stories in RieTales are in alphabetical order. Except when it comes to these two. The first one, “Nothing Left to Lose,” is in the right place, but the second, “Everything to Gain,” was placed out-of-order on purpose.

When I was just starting out on the path to publication, I joined Writers’ Village University. It was a great way to get into the discipline of writing after taking some time off. There was a contest to write a short story, and I decided to explore how two of the minor characters in The Blood That Binds (later to become The Luckless Prince) came to be traveling together. The story has outlived the novel until I can decide what to do with my orphans, but I am glad it is still available. It actually won the contest that session.

The story, “Nothing Left to Lose,” tells of a young girl in a slave encampment who meets a strange young man with healing powers and begs him to save her dying mother. Unfortunately, he fails, leaving her an orphan. He asks her to travel with him as a companion and apprentice. And thus, was the partnership of Eeonathor Ravenwing and Daerci born.

“Everything to Gain” continues the exploration of this unusual duo as he begins her training to be a lockpick and sleight-of-hand artist–in other words, a thief. She has to rescue her mentor from a fate not quite worse than death.

The descriptions above make the two sound like irredeemable rascals, but in the tradition of high fantasy, the rogue and the mage have roles to play. The two of them are integral to the plot of both versions of the novel. But the stories are fun to read by themselves.

Find out for yourself in RieTales from Mocha Memoirs Press!


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It’s the Same Old Story…

Today’s story is another reimagining, though not of a fairy tale. I don’t want to give away the twist, because I like to give people a chance to figure out who the characters are. I will say, that it is an updating of one of Shakespeare’s plays.

Ever since I was reading Tales from Shakespeare as a child, I have been a huge fan of his work.

One of the highlights of our trip to the United Kingdom last summer was a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon which had always been a dream of mine. It was a lovely little town, mixing the old and new. We didn’t get to see everything I would have liked to, (like a play at the Royal Shakespeare) but we did get to tour Shakespeare’s Birthplace. It was a big thrill for me. I am so grateful to Newell for taking me on the trip last year, because who knows when the attractions will be open again.

Here are a few pictures so you can see them vicariously at least:

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Shakespeare is everywhere. 🙂

The birthplace is a real eye-opener. Think about trying to live in these cramped quarters.


Even Newell seemed to be enjoying himself.

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The Theater was also amazing, but I didn’t take all that many pictures inside it. However, there was this one banner that I have to share…

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I fangirled hard. 😉

Here a couple more from the theater.

I really hope to go back to Stratford someday. It was almost surreal to be walking those same streets that Shakespeare once walked.

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Home By Sunset


“Home By Sunset” is the next RieTales story. It is a science fantasy story about a young girl with a mechanical horse living in a colony with a strict curfew. The title refers to trying to rush home to meet this deadline. A fight with her father about her beloved mechanical sends her out into the night on a mad ride.

I seem to have a thing for mechanicals…they feature in The Conn-Mann Chronicles too.

It’s hard not to say too much about the plot, but suffice it to say that things aren’t always as they seem… Check out RieTales from Mocha Memoirs Press!

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