Fictionista, Foodie, Feline-lover

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Paul Bishop Photograph--November Rain in Paris

Photo by Paul Bishop
Isn't this image by Paul Bishop (originally posted on Facebook) gorgeous. I am a sucker for Eiffel Tower images.

Time to weed out that TBR pile?

If you're in Los Angeles, you can donate books to Books For People, who will sell them and use the proceeds to fund charities serving homeless children. And they PICK UP your books. (They also accept DVDs, CDs, and records. Any books they can't sell, they donate to local libraries. Check them out.

Because not everyone is going to be home for the holidays

There are men and women serving on behalf of me and every other American in places that are inhospitable and downright hostile. Some of these soldiers are stationed far from a PX (post exchange) and some of them can't afford even little luxuries. Military Connections is a non-profit organization that sends care packages (more than 600 a month) to soldiers stationed overseas. They're now putting together Christmas stockings. They have a wish-list of items from unopened, unexpired OTC meds like Tums and Tylenol to packages of athletic socks and AT&T calling cards to extra Christmas cards they can send. You can also sponsor a soldier or marine's stocking for a $10 donation and include a note or a picture. Giving a little could mean a lot.
For more information, check out the Military Connections website here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cityscape: Richmond, Virginia

I lived in Richmond my last two years in high school and during the summers I went to college. It's a very scenic city and there are things about it I miss, like the James River. This is a view of downtown from the James. All those rocks were really enticing. I've sunbathed on them. And every year, some kid gets stranded and has to be rescued.  My parents' house was only two blocks from the river, we could always hear the helicopters flying back and forth. Some summers it was like the Fall of Saigon out there.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Another reason to embrace your inner Frenchwoman...

Seems the French village of Bugarach is going to survive the Mayan apocalypse. Who knew?

More about Christmas cards...

Greeting Card universe is having a blowout Cyber-Monday sale. Every card in their inventory is $1.49 each. They've got everything from a card with a snowman mooning to a lovely Joyeux Noel card for the francophiles. And speaking of things French, 123 Greetings has an animated French-language ecard that features the Eiffel Tower, Santa and fireworks along with its French holiday greeting. (It's actually kind of horrifying in a cross-cultural way, but it's so over-the-top that it's kitschy.) has Christmas cards divided up into 43 different categories (Pop Up, Patriotic, Disney, Nature, Spanish-language, Animal) and you can buy single cards or batches. They have cards with African-American angels, Madonnas and Santa. Oddly, they have only four Hanukkah cards available.
If you're looking for one of a kind humorous greeting cards for the season, Snafu Designs can hook you up. I'm partial to their "Fleas Navidad" card.  Tiny Prints cards are on sale all this week (Why have Cyber Monday when you can have Cyberweek?) Check them out for something different in personalized cards.
Fleas Navidad

Twinkie Lovers! The Daily Meal is looking out for you...

I get the Daily Meal newsletter every day and it's a must-read for me. (I get a lot of newsletters every day and sometimes find myself just deleting them unread from my In-box, but that fate never befalls The Daily Meal.) This morning they have a home-made Twinkie recipe for those who are worried about the demise of that iconic lunch-box treat. Check it out

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The best religious Christmas card ever

"Kissing the Face of God" by Morgan Weistling
Morgan Weistling is a California artist who mostly specializes in western-themed subjects. His work hangs in museums all over the country and his commissions are highly prized. His work is exquisite. (Seriously, if you click on his link, it'll take you to his website and you'll see a gallery of his work. If he were living in the Renaissance, someone named Borgia or Medici would be his patron.)
He painted "Kissing the Face of God" in 2001 and it's become one of his most popular images. The first time I saw it, I was struck by the sweetness and youth of his Mary.  (I'm not sure, but I think his daughter might have been the model.) At any rate, the painting has so much reality and love that it really humanizes the Christmas story.
My mother was an artist and I've seen a lot of Madonna and Child paintings in my day (I loved Fra Filippo Lippi's "Adoration of the Magi" when I was a child because I liked saying "Fra Filippo Lippi.) I think this painting stands up to the best of them.
"Adoration of the Magi"
You can buy "Kissing the Face of God" at any number of religious bookstores online. Here's one, where you  can buy 25 cards for $25.95.  You can buy cards with "Adoration of the Magi" on it from numerous sources.  has it in with a whole range of "Adoration of the Magi" cards. Shopwiki offers it along with a full range of "Adoration" cards by various artists.

The Kattomic Energy Christmas Card Buying Guide

Cardinal in snow, photo by Rob Tomlinson

In my parents' generation, sending out Christmas cards was a big deal and a husband/wife project. My parents never put together one of those awful Christmas letters (and in fact mocked their relatives and friends who did send them out) but the sending of the cards was a project that consumed at least one night in the pre-holiday run-up.

They'd divide up the writing chores although my father's handwriting was barely legible--I was the only one in the family who could read it--and my mother had art school handwriting that was as precise and readable as machine print. They had different signatures depending on who the card's recipient was, "Mickey and Tom" for their friends, "Mildred and Parrish" for his relatives, and so forth.

They always bought special Christmas stamps to use on their cards and they had two different kinds of cards--some kind of religious theme for the relatives, more general holiday cards for their Jewish friends and colleagues. They probably sent out a hundred cards a year and got at least as many in return. The cards were displayed over the mantle and on top of the bookcases and gave the house a really festive air.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fiction Friday: G. Wells Taylor's "Memory Lane:"

I'm a huge fan of Canadian horror writer G. Wells Taylor (whose vampire novel Bent Steeple is one of the best of the genre). He writes creepy, character-based stories that run the gamut from post-apocalyptic urban fantasy/noir (his Wildclown series) to his variant on the zombie apocalypse (The Variant Effect) to this tale of psychological horror featuring a couple of memorable human monsters. You can read my review on Amazon here, and while you're there, pick up a copy of the novella for $1.99.

How to shop for the holidays without losing your mind

The official Kattomic Energy gift guide will be published in the next few weeks but since today, Black Friday, is the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, here is a preview. 


The truth is, if you're over 21, you probably have all the mugs you need. You've got the one emblazoned with your college logo and the one you got from your bank when you opened a savings account. You have the mug you received as a premium when you donated money to your local NPR station. And if you work in a large company, you have  a mug with your company's brand and corporate slogan plastered all over it.

In the unlikely event you know someone who could use a few more mugs, there are a lot of cool mugs out there.

For people who love words, there are scrabble letter mugs. These are nice and simple, graphically pleasing mugs that cost $13 each. You can find them in a lot of catalogues or here. For a dollar less, you can get the officially sanctioned by Scrabble "Scrabble Tile Mug." Find it here.
For the activist/reader, there's the Banned Books Mugs ($12.95). Inscribed with the names of banned books (from To Kill a Mockingbird to Ulysses, they're perfect for serving coffee after a book club meeting. Buy them here at the Unemployed Philosopher's Guild where the motto is, "The unexamined gift is not worth giving."
Unemployed Philosopher's Guild also carries a 12-ounce mug featuring the opening lines of some of the great works of English/American literature. Buy it here.
Zazzle shops feature a variety of Shakespeare-themed mugs from simple black quotes on white mug to more decorate designs. My brother, a criminal lawyer, has a whole set of "First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers" mugs in his office. You can buy one of your own for $16 each here. To look at Zazzle's full range of Shakespeare quote mugs, start here.
Cafe Press has a large selection of mugs featuring images of writers and famous quotes. check them out here. They also have silly mugs like the one that says, "Are you crying? There's no crying. There's no crying in English class."  Which I think is funny but I'm not sure I'd want a mug with that on it.
And that's the thing about mugs with funny sayings or quotes with profanity (even of teh S*it Happens variety). What seems funny as you click on the "go to shopping cart"  or hand over actual money to an actual perso in a card store, may not be hilarious on Christmas morning. 
So beware of impulse buys based on whimsy. Don't be the one to give your dad the Duct Tape mug ($14.95), which comes twith a duct tape tie. (Yes, although the mug just looks like it's made of duct tape, the tie reallly is made of actual duct tape.) 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's Thanksgiving: Bring on the Corn Pudding

Photo by Patrick Hajzler
Southern cooking is full of puddings. Bread Pudding. Rice pudding. Sweet potato pudding. Corn pudding. Put a "pudding" on there and it's all good.  The only time I remember having this yummy side dish is at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The rest of the time we either ate frozen corn niblets or freshly picked Silver Queen corn from my great-uncle's kitchen garden. (The joke was that you didn't pick the corn until the water in the pot was boiling.)
I pretty much never met a corn dish I didn't love and I still have a fondness for corn somthered in melted cheddar cheese with red pepper flakes, a staple of my college diet.
If you'd like to add a little pizazz to your vegetable sides this holiday, why not try corn in its most quintessential southern form?


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2 cups cooked corn kernels
3 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 cup flour
4 tsp. granulated sugar
4 eggs
4 cups non-fat milk
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
dash salt

Prep a baking dish with non-stick spray.
Combine flour, salt, seasonings and sugar.
Add corn and melted gutter.
Add the eggs to the milk and stir.
Add the egg/milk mixture to the dry mixture and pour into the baking pan.

Bake for 40 minutes or until pudding is firm.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's Thanksgiving--let the celebration of carbs begin

Photo by Vangelis Thomaidin
At the Mullins-Tomlinson household Thanksgiving was all about the sides. Sure, the moistness of the turkey was important and the crispness of the stuffing (there was always two kinds--oyster stuffing because my father loved it and cornbread stuffing made with actual cornbread and none of this Mrs. Cubbinson's mix nonsense) but really, it was all about the starches and the side dishes.
Unlike 99 percent of southern households, we did not have green bean casserole at the holiday. My mother made green beans with bacon and dried red pepper the way God intended us to eat green beans. (I actually prefer crisp steamed green beans these days but when I'm at HomeTown Buffet, I almost always get some of their Southern-style string beans because they do them right.)
One of the dishes that was always on our Thanksgiving table was grated sweet potato pudding. (One of my aunts always brought the candied  yams with the orange juice and the crushed cornflakes and the marshmallows but she always took home most of the dish. The sweet potato pudding dish, though, would be scraped clean.)
Here's the recipe:


4 raw sweet potatoes, peeled and grated (do not use yams)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (you can use molasses)
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 Tbsp. dried orange peel (or rind of a fresh orange)
dash salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat eggs.
Combine all ingredients.
Pour into a baking dish prepped with non-stick spray.
Bake until firm (about 50 minutes).


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gratuitous Cat Cuteness

Because it's Sunday and I'm working and easily distracted by Orange Cat who is guarding the manuscript I'm reading. And besides, isn't the Internet all about cat pictures?

Holiday Themed Grammar Silliness

Savage Chickens by Dug Savage

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Coming Soon--the Kattomic Energy 2012 Gift Guide

Photo by Klaus Post
Yes, there will be suggestions for all the foodies, Francophiles, feminists, and fiction lovers on your list. (And many of the gifts will cross categories. Who wouldn't welcome a fridge poetry magnet set with French words? Or an Eiffel Tower cookie cutter? Or a subscription to Bitch magazine?) Sure you can always give an Amazon gift card (always the right size, always the right color) but isn't it fun to pick out the perfect gift yourself? And I promise, no gag gifts or totally useless items. (I once received an over=sized, silver-plated paper clip as a Christmas gift from a client. It cost $75--yes, I looked--I was horrified.)

Most Specific Cookie Cutter Design Ever!

I have a lot of cookie cutters. My collection goes way beyond angels and deer for Christmas. (I have cookie cutters in the shape of two kinds of sharks and a whole Jurassic Park of dinosaurs.) But I do not have THIS cookie cutter, which depicts the skyline of Omaha, Nebraska.
It's made of copper and costs $14.95.  And I just have to wonder--was this a custom order that just got added to the mix or is there a rage for cookie cityscapes I don't know about?  You can buy it here on a site called Kitchen Collectibles.  (Which is located in Omaha, so that would explain the cookie cutter.)

Kitchen Mixtape--You can never have too many food blogs

I spend way (WAY) too much time reading about food. Yes, I am familiar with the term "food porn," and this time of year, I cannot resist carrying home the fat issues of Food and Wine and Martha Stewart's Living and every holiday-themed issue of what I always think of as "my mother's magazines." (Family Circle, Woman's Day, Woman's World.) It's not that I think I'm going to find a new way to make cranberry sauce, but I enjoy reading how other people put together the traditional feasts.
I particularly like food blogs that have a theme, so when I ran across Kitchen Mixtape, I was intrigued. On the site, chefs talk about music and there are "record" reviews as well as restaurant reviews. The design is clean and a little "industrial." If you like food and you like music, check it out.

John McCain is an old fart

I've been head down in deadlines this week so I'm just now catching up on some of the news. And am just now processing the idea of Senator John McCain saying that he didn't think Susan Rice, our ambassador to the UN was "very bright."  It's way too easy to go, "John, really? Compared to who?" but honest to God, has he even seen her Wikipedia entry? This woman has been over-achieving since she was a kid and she's only 48 now, which in terms of a political career is just getting started. What on earth could have persuaded the man who picked Sarah Palin as his running mate to gratuitously slam a woman so accomplished? Is it sexism, racism, or just plain cluelessness?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hurricane Sandy victims still need your help.

I saw this badge on a site called That Skinny Chick Can Bake, where the afore-mentioned Skinny Chick is rallying support for victims of Hurricane Sandy. They still need help. Here's where you can go to find out what you can do.  Skinny Chick didn't want a link-back but I hope she doesn't mind a shout-out.

Friday Food Rant and a Recipe

I'm currently acting as a consultant on a cookbook for diabetics. The research has been fun and in going through my own files of recipes, I've been reminded of old favorites I haven't made in awhile. (Keema!  I love keema!) But what it's also brought home to me is just how many recipes still use highly processed ingredients. (Let's not even talk about my mother's cook books from the 60s, which were full of recipes that required "Accent" and were either filled with mayonnaise, which I despise, or bacon, which I adore but don't eat.)
Seriously, who eats "whipped topping" when they can have luscious real whipped cream? And yet, every other pie recipe I've run across requires a tub of Cool Whip.
And speaking of whipped cream--here's a recipe my mother called "Corsetiere's Despair." It could not be simpler or more decadent.

Mickey Tomlinson's Corsetiere's Despair

1 pound red and white striped peppermint candy (My mother used Brach's starlight mints)
1 quart unsweetened whipped cream 
1/2 tsp. salt
3 drops red food coloring

Pulverize the candy in a blender or food processor, leaving about half the pieces coarsely chopped and reducing the rest to powder.
Fold the powdered candy, the salt and about half the coarser pieces into the whipped cream.
Place the mixture in a serving bowl.
Drop the food coloring on top of the mixture and using a knife, slash through the whipped cream to create swirls of red.
Sprinkle the rest of the coarser pieces of peppermint over the mixture.
Cover and freeze until firm. 

My mother served this with dark chocolate wafers.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sample the National Book Award Winners and Nominees

The votes are in and the 2012 National Book Award winners have been announced.
Louise Erdrich has won for her novel The Round House; Katherine Boo has won for her book about the "undercity" of Mumbai. Poet David Ferry won for his collection, Bewilderment; and William Alexander won the Young People's Literature award for Goblin Secrets, published under the late, great Margaret K. McElderry's imprint.
You can read all the details here, where you'll also find links to everyone's work.

Is it too late to get a fake ID?

As I was reading a college comedy this a.m. that featured hijinks involving a fake ID, I had a pang of regret. I never had a fake ID. Never really needed one. I never developed a taste for beer (although Dos Equis' Buena Nocha seasonal brew is pretty damn tasty and unfortunately no longer imported to the US) and if I had a taste for the favorite cocktail of Duke undergrads (Southern Comfort and 7-Up) the ingredients were readily available in the dorm pantry. Even with a fake ID I'm not sure I could have carried "over 21" off. (The last time I was carded, I was out with my brother having Mexican food. I was 33.  It was a bright moment and now a faded memory.) I wish I'd gotten a fake ID now. It feels like a rite of passage I missed out on.  If I'd known I would end up writing dark fiction for fun and  profit, I would definitely have bought one.
Which reminds me.
My mother was one of the most strait-laced people I've ever known. She could be a little school-marmy about it, but she was raised to be a proper Southern woman and despite some strenuous efforts at achieving escape velocity from the remnants of her upbringing, she remained ladylike to her dying day. (She would have been horrified when I chased an orderly out of her room the night before she died, telling him if he came back I would kill him.  Seriously, it was two in the morning and he was there to take her vital signs, even though she was already in a coma and would die two hours later. I am not a polite Southern lady despite my mother's best efforts.)
But the point is... my mother probably never did a dishonest thing in her life, much less a criminal thing.
The last year I lived at home, my sister was in college and my brother was in his last year of law school. Our mother's best friend had been diagnosed with a really nasty, fast-moving kind of cancer. She was on heavy-duty pain meds and they weren't helping the nausea from the chemo.  My mother came up with the idea of buying marijuana and sending it to her but wondered aloud at the dinner table where she might find such a product. Without hesitation we all spoke up with suggestions about where marijuana could be bought and then stopped as she gave us the evil eye.
"So I've heard," I added, which was true. I've never smoked pot in my life.
"Mailing marijuana is a felony," my brother added, which I thought was a nice bit of deflection.
My sister got up to get more iced tea.
In the end, she didn't buy the weed.
And in the end--and this is true--her friend went into remission and was ultimately declared cancer free after joining a church run by a charismatic young preacher.
My mother died two years later of lung cancer; her friend is still alive.
Life is funny and unpredictable.
Next time I'll get the fake ID.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Nightfalls anthology

The Nightfalls anthology is in its final editing cycle and it's a terrific group of stories. The anthology will be priced at $3.99 (a bargain for 29 stories), with all proceeds going to Para Los Ninos, an organization that helps at-risk kids and their parents succeed in education and in life.
The cover design is by Joy Sillesen of Indie Author Services, who donated her work to the project, She will also be designing both the ebook and the print version.  The stories range from speculative fiction to horror to humor with side trips to science fiction and noir-flavored lit fic.

Everybody I asked to participate in this anthology said yes, and then they gave me wonderful stories (and one poem). It's been a pleasure to work with everyone and I hope to do it again soon. More details to come, but just to whet your appetite--here's the TOC:

            Thomas Pluck
Some Say the World Will End in Fire
            Sidney Anne Harrison
Forward is Where the Croissantwich Is
            Chris Rhatigan
Somebody Brave
            Kat Laurange
Our Lady
            Dale Phillips
Greene Day
            Nigel Bird
            Megan McCord
The Memory Keeper
            Sandra Seamans
Bon Appétit
            Barb Goffman
Déjà vu
            Christopher Grant
It's Not the End of the World
            Matthew C. Funk
A Sound as of Trumpets
            Berkeley Hunt
Supper Time
            Col Bury
            Dellani Oakes
The End of Everything
            AJ Hayes
Last Shift
            Steven Luna
Into the Night
            Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
            Richard Godwin
Amidst Encircling Gloom
            Scott J Laurange
            G. Wells Taylor
Princess Soda and the Bubblegum Knight
            R. C. Barnes
The Last Wave
            Kaye George
The Dogs on Main Street Howl
            Allen Leverone
Call the Folks
             Alex Keir
The Knitted Gaol Born Sow Monkey
            Peter Mark May 
            Christian Dabnor
The Tasting
            Jesse James Freeman
The Annas
            Patricia Abbott
Night Train to Mundo Fine
            Jimmy Callaway

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Children's Book Relief

If you're like me, you have a whole bookcase full of books you've read and will probably never read again.  Maybe you cull them every once in awhile, sending them to live at your local library, or donating them to your nearest thrift store, or just leaving them on buses and on benches like a friend of mine does. Maybe all you really need is a good reason for cleaning off those shelves.
Now you have one.
Urban Librarians Unite is hosting a fund drive to benefit children affected by Hurricane Sandy. They're looking for donations of used and new children's books and new activity books and coloring books (with crayons) for children.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Europe's Top Cop is ... a woman!

Mirielle Balestrazzi
It's been a good week for women here in the U.S. and now comes the news that Interpol has elected its first female president, Mirielle Balestrazzi. According to news reports, she's been a police commissioner in France since 1975 (when she would have been 31) and she's been the particular bane of organized crime in Bordeaux and Corsica.
I love that the number of "first" females is rapidly dwindling and believe that soon the whole notion of some jobs being beyond the reach of women will seem as quaint and old fashioned as sarsaparilla.

What's the story here?

Photo by Patrizio Martorana
Our brains are wired to make sense of the events we observe. When it cannot put together the puzzle pieces from our observations, our brains will simply fill in the blanks. That's the point behind those tests of how well we can read sentences that are missing vowels or have such a hard time spotting extra letters. Based on previous experience, our brain sees what it wants to see.
I think another way we're all wired is that we all share a need to turn our experiences into a narrative. If you've ever heard the phrase, "It is what it is" and disagreed, I think you're tapping into this impulse, or this imperative, or whatever it is that provides the perspective and the point of view to turn situations into story.
"Bad life, good anecdote," Carrie Fisher used to say, and I embraced that phrase as my mantra.
But it's not just writers who do this.
When I worked for Los Angeles Magazine, I car-pooled with two women who could not have been more different from each other and from me. One was an elegant ex-model whose husband was a handsome, successful executive. The other was a careworn mom whose life had been full of sorrows--an ex-husband who supported the family (or not) as a gambler, a first-born child who died from a reaction to the polio vaccine.
We were locked together in a small space for at least 90 minutes a day and sometimes longer and as women do when they're together, we talked.
Often the talk was trivial--about work, about movies, about people we knew. Sometimes the conversation was heavier, about an abortion one had had, about seemingly insurmountable in-law problems that were wreaking havoc in a marriage, about hopes and dreams and aspirations.
And one day we saw the piles of rubber bands at an intersection.
M saw them first and remarked upon them and J and I looked and thought, Huh. That's odd.
And that would probably have been it except that not long after, we saw another pile of the rubber bands--the skinny little ones--at another intersection.
Before long, we were seeing the piles of rubber bands all over the place, as if droppings from some big rubber dog that would pass by unnoticed, leaving its scat behind.
It almost drove us crazy trying to figure out the significance of those piles of little rubber bands.
and then one morning we came in to work very early, for reasons that escape me, and the mystery of the rubber bands was solved when we saw a paperboy on a corner putting them around his newspapers before loading up his bike.
The best advice my father ever gave me was, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story."
We were disappointed when we found out what was really going on.
Because we wanted there to be a "story" there.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Recipe for a fall afternoon--Pizza

Photo by Szazlajos

It is actually cool here in the Southland, which is kind of a relief. I like summer as much as the next person but when it gets to be the middle of November, I'm ready to put away my shorts.

Since it's cool, it's time for pizza and I am not talking about ordering up from Shakey's. I'm talking about making it yourself. It takes a little longer but trust me on this--it's worth it. When I make this for parties people follow me into the kitchen to get fresh pieces before they exit. 

Once you eat this pizza, you will never, ever be able to go back to store-bought pizza, which is why I post the recipe every year.  I got the recipe from my mother, who got it from her friend Eleanor Trigg (along with an odd lemon/currant dessert recipe that I don't remember her ever making and which has sat unloved in the back of my recipe notebook since I inherited it in 1986).

Eleanor Trigg’s Pizza as interpreted by Mickey Tomlinson as handed down to me…

2 pkgs of bulk pork sausage  (I use Jimmy Dean’s hot.  You can also use turkey sausage)
1 yellow onion, diced
½ cup (or more) dried Parmesan cheese (in the green canister, not fresh)
Garlic powder to taste (you won't need as much if you use "hot" sausage
Italian seasoning to taste
2 large cans tomato paste
Lick of olive oil

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Story for a Wednesday: The Temperature at which Love Freezes

Here in Los Angeles we're experiencing our sixth month of summer, but I remember winter... Here's a new story for a chilly day. Because somewhere it's chilly.

The Temperature at Which Love Freezes

By Katherine Tomlinson

Credit: Websurfer6
The front door shut with a soft but emphatic click as Jonathan slipped out of the house. Even though he knew Kaye wouldn’t have heard it—she slept like a hibernating bear—he still found himself looking over his shoulder to make sure she hadn’t wakened, that she wasn’t following him with her furious eyes.

But Kaye had merely grunted and turned over, burrowing deeper into the 600-thread count sheets and goose-down comforter.

There was only one person who would send Jonathan a text in the middle of the night; only one person whose text he’d read in the middle of the night.

Jonathan had grabbed the phone, fumbled for his glasses on the bedside table and read the message without turning on the light.

Come outside. I have a surprise for you. <3 span="span">

She’d attached his favorite picture of her, the one he’d taken after surprising her in the shower.

With barely a glance at his sleeping wife, Jonathan had slid out from beneath the covers, squeezed his bare feet into the fleece-lined slippers Kaye had ordered online without checking his size, and padded silently across the carpeted floor. 

He’d tied his plaid bath robe tightly before venturing out into the cold, well aware that all he had on underneath the flannel was a pair of thin cotton boxer shorts.

Outside, Jonathan breathed deeply. Purged of the vague day-time petroleum scent that always lingered in the wake of rush-hour commuters using his street as a short-cut to the freeway, the night smelled like pine needles

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's Here!

It's been a long strange trip to this Election Day.
It's all over but the voting.
I think we all deserve a breather. 
I found this joke on Man Walks Into a Joke, which bills itself as the "ultimate joke collection."

A man goes up to a politician at a party and says, "I’ve heard a lot about you.'' The politician replies, "But you can’t prove any of it."

Monday, November 5, 2012

Where do you get your ideas? The Noir Version

I am often asked, "Where do you get your ideas?" In some cases, that's code for, "Why don't you ever write "nice" stories?" (Those people should know by now that I don't do "nice" and they should  be glad. Writing dark fiction allows me to channel all the anger I feel toward stupid and cruel people and prevents me from being arrested for homicide, justifiable as it may be.) But I digress.
Like everyone else, I get the usual spam--for Canadian pharmacies, for penis extensions, for questionable legal transactions in Nigeria. These email missives go straight into my junk folder and are deleted en masse every morning.
But today I got an email that tickled that little spot on the back of my neck that tingles when the universe hands me an idea that might be a story if it percolates long enough.
It was from Marriedbutlonely.
The ads are aimed at guys, and promise that the women on offer are all "neglected housewives" looking for nothing more than a little fun.
Seriously, what could possibly go wrong?
There's a story here.
It's an old story for sure, but now with a technological twist.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Election Day Fiction: Participatory Democracy

The new issue of ThugLit is out and I'm delighted to say my short story "Participatory Democracy" is one of the stories therein. The issue is ONLY 99 cents, so fire up your reading device or kindle app and go get it. Special thanks to editor Todd Robinson for his excellent suggestions for making the story better.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Our fellow citizens need us... and the Red Cross is there

I grew up in hurricane country. When I was a kid, Hurricane Camille roared through Richmond. The James River rose out of its banks. The Army (from nearby Ft. Lee) flew in water but we got ours from a spring in a park that was walking distance. Snakes slithered up from the river. Our cat, Purry Mason, picked up a poisonous snake and dropped it in our kitchen. It was, "they" said, a "hundred year storm."  Three years later, Hurricane Agnes did even more damage. (At the time, it was the costliest hurricane in history.)
My brother joined a volunteer crew sandbagging downtown buildings against the hurricane-driven flood surge. The water peaked many feet above where they thought it would.
I have friends who were living in New Orleans when Katrina hit. They were lucky--the roof blew off a storage facility they used and they came back to mold in their house but both of them survived without losing a day of work--one is a web designer, the other teaches for Tulane's online classes.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime storm.
And now we have Hurricane Sandy. Someone on Facebook posted a comment that the storm should hve been called something dark and dire because "Sandy" sounds so chipper and cheerleader-y.
I like the way New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is looking at the disaster--tabling the divisive discussion of what is causing these super weather events and getting down to brass tacks--what can we do to protect and prevent such future disasters.
But in the meantime, it's a mess.
And we all need to pitch in and help.
Donating to the Red Cross makes it easy.  Here's where to go. Donate money. Donate blood. Every little bit helps.

It's been said before, many times, many ways...

Don't just stand!

Friday, November 2, 2012

New Fiction for November--Automaton

Credit: Oliver Brandt
My story "Automaton" is in the new issue (issue #3) of Inner Sins. I'm very pleased with how the story turned out and would like to give a shout-out to editors J. Scott Kunkle and Michael Martin for going the extra mile to help me shape the story and then accepting it.  Thanks guys.
You can read "Automaton" here.

Friday Film Recommendation

I read film scripts for a living and there aren't many that capture my imagination. Two movies I recommended my clients buy are coming out tomorrow. You should go see them.
When I read The Bay, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. It's a terrific found footage film about an ecological disaster.  Barry Levinson is the director. Michael Wallach wrote it. The distributor is positioning it as a horror movie, but I'd call it more of a disaster movie. If the movie is half as good as the script, it'll be worth your entertainment dollar.
From the trailer, it looks like the marketing campaign is really pushing a sort of Paranormal Activity vibe and that's not the way it was originally written. But I'll be in line.
I also read and loved A Late Quartet, which is a very different film and Oscar-bait for sure. It stars Catherine Keener, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken and Wallace Shawn.  It's so uncommercial it's not even funny but a movie filled with great performances. It's a story about the coming of age and tensions among friends and all in all, it's a movie for grownups. Check it out.