Advice to All Romance Novel Writers Everywhere…

For the love of lice, please—I beg you—stop having the hero run his fingers through his hair every time he ponders the perils of a new plot twist. Make him bald if you have to, or delete his fingers entirely early on in a freak sword juggling incident. Just please, Make. Him. Stop. Thank you. Lol


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Christmas Madness, Mayhem, and Mall Santas: Humorous Insights into the Holiday Season

The Procrastinator’s Countdown to Christmas



Think you’ve got all the time in the world to get your Christmas crap done?!? Think again…

First Weekend in November: You smirk at all the Christmas lunatics who have: (a) already started their shopping, and (b) started putting up their Christmas decorations. Don’t these seasonal sickos have lives? Sit back and relax – you know you’ve got plenty of time.
Second Weekend in November: Briefly you toy with the idea of getting started with your shopping—but why rush things—so you decide to stay home and watch TV, but every other channel has on a Christmas movie. Tossing your remote in disgust, you glance out the window and notice your neighbors are erecting what can only be described as a Christmas mini-golf course in their front yard. “Festive fools,” you mutter under your breath.
Third Weekend in November: You have every intention to start shopping, but unexpected guests drop by who stay the whole weekend. In great, giddy detail they gush about not only being done with their shopping, but that their halls are decked as well. You consider decking them, but force a gracious smile instead.
Fourth Weekend in November: Everyone in the house has come down with the flu.
First Weekend in December: You finally start Christmas shopping on Saturday, and plan to spend Sunday decorating. However, you spend the entire weekend looking for that toy your child’s been begging for, only to realize it’s no longer available anywhere. You’ve got zero shopping done, and accomplish zilch in the decorating department. Slight panic begins to set in.
Second Weekend in December: The biggest blizzard known to man or arctic beast blows into town. You decide it’s no big deal; you’ll just shop online for that elusive toy, and try to get in as much other shopping as possible while you’re at it. Yet as soon as you sit down at the computer the storm cuts the electricity. You move on to decorating, but it’s a bit difficult without any light to see what you’re doing.
Third Weekend in December: On Saturday your child has a Christmas play, a Christmas pageant, and a Christmas party to attend. On Sunday you get to go visit your in-laws.

Fourth Weekend in December: You have sixty-eight million things to do and only two days to do them in. You head to the mall to find everything pawed through, ripped open, and stampeded upon. You buy the least offensive stuff you can find, rush home, wrap it, and throw it under the tree. You notice the tree looks like someone put it up in the dark—oh wait, they did—but there’s no time to fix it now as you’re having a dinner party in three hours and haven’t even been to the store yet.

Later during the party, you confess to one of your guests that you haven’t found that toy your child wanted. She smugly looks down her seasonally satisfied nose at you and divulges that she bought it for her child back in early November, when it was available everywhere. You smile your best fake smile and make a mental note to never speak to her again. Just then the lights on the tree blow out. You explain to everyone that it’s because they were last year’s lights, as you didn’t have time to buy new ones this year. Under her breath, you hear that same rotten woman mutter “Unfestive fool…”
The Moral of the Story: If you’re going to be a fool at Christmastime, it’s far better to be a festive one than the alternative.

Payback Bites

Halloween Fun: When wedded bliss turns into a wedded abyss…


“Oh, tell me this isn’t happening…” Leonard said wearily, as his car came to a sputtering stop.
Rolling her eyes, his wife Eva let out an exasperated sigh, “Well, well, well…what can I say, Leonard? Maybe if you’d stopped for gas in that last town—like I suggested—then this wouldn’t be happening, would it?”
Leonard shot Eva a sideways glance that spoke volumes. “Yes dear, as usual, if only I had listened to you…”
“Don’t you get that tone with me, if you just would’ve….” An enormous crash of thunder cut her off as a large tree branch came careening down, barely missing their car.
“Leonard DO something!” She wailed.
“Do what exactly, Eva? You seem to be on top of things, so you tell me!” He glared at her and she glared back. The electrical charge of hatred in the car momentarily superseded the raging storm outside of it.
Eva gave him her infamous condescending sneer, “If you were any kind of a real man, you’d go for help. You can’t just expect me to sit here all night like this, the next branch that comes down could fall right on top of me and kill me!”
Leonard considered this for a brief moment. He knew exactly how he wanted to respond to this but bit his lip instead.
“Well? Aren’t you going to go get help, or gas, or something? What’s wrong with you anyway? Honestly Leonard!”
Leonard took a long, deep look into the cold, dead eyes of the vulture-like female he’d had the distinct displeasure of being married to for nearly thirty years, and wondered how much a man is supposed to put up with before he snapped.
“You know there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you, Eva dear,” he retorted.
“Don’t be sarcastic! And don’t take too long, and for heaven’s sake don’t be stupid and get hit by lightning because I don’t want to sit here all night! Are you listening to me Leonard? And if you find a place that sells gas, make sure you bring me back a nice cup of coffee. And don’t waste time, there’s nothing I hate more than cold coffee. Don’t just sit there staring at me with that dumb expression on your face, GET GOING!”
“Yes dear, of course dear…” Leonard muttered, knowing full well any other response wouldn’t do—especially the response he really wanted to give. He climbed out of the car and set off on his journey into the unknown depths of the stormy night, finding it far more pleasant to be out in the elements than sitting in the car next to Hurricane Eva.
Leonard was certain they’d passed a gas station a mile or so back. He remembered it from the sign he’d seen in the window advertising Eva’s favorite coffee. He recalled thinking that he’d rather stall out somewhere than cater to her demands for “Carribean Cappachino.” Already drenched by the heavy downpour, Leonard cursed under his breath as he quickly scurried up the road. He decided then and there that if he ended up at that gas station, under no circumstances was he getting his unbeloved a cup of her beloved coffee. This decision pleased him greatly and made the raging storm engulfing him far less bothersome.
Relieved, he arrived at the gas station much quicker than he’d anticipated. Must’ve miscalculated how far back it was, he thought to himself. Eva always took great delight in pointing out his miscalculations—he made a mental note not to mention this one to her.
The lights were out in the building, which seemed odd since it was only a little after 8 p.m. Maybe the storm knocked out the electricity, he thought. As he approached the door, he noticed it was ajar and saw movement inside. As lightning flashed through the night sky, for an instant Leonard could make out a figure.
He called out, “Hey, I need some gas!” There was no reply.
When the lightning flashed again the figure was visible once more. The man had deathly grey skin, incredibly wrong teeth—which looked like implants from a saber-toothed tiger, and what appeared to be a long, dark cloak. The man had the appearance of someone who’d just crawled out of a crypt. Leonard’s heart skipped a beat. Then he took a deep sigh of relief and laughed at himself for letting his imagination–and the atmosphere of the storm–get the better of him.
Of course, he thought, it’s Halloween night…he’s in costume! He smiled, opened the door the rest of the way, and walked in. Through yet another flash of lightning Leonard saw the man approaching him.
“Hey, great costume! Man, you really had me goin’ there,” Leonard chuckled, “I thought for a moment you were…”
Meanwhile back at the car, Eva cursed out loud. He was taking far too much time. “Stupid, insidious man,” she snarled, “I told him not to leave me sitting here so long. That idiot. He’s most certainly gonna hear about it from me when he gets back!”
Nearly an hour later the storm had cleared, but a heavy fog now enshrouded the car. Visibility was nearly impossible through the windshield, however, Eva thought she could just faintly make out Leonard’s form making his way up the roadside.
“Finally,” she sighed.
He seemed to be taking forever to get to the car, which angered her as she was looking forward to telling him off about being gone so long. She sighed once more, then took the opportunity to pull down the overhead mirror and apply lipstick and powder her nose. She heard the driver’s side door open, but kept primping.
“Honestly Leonard, what took you so long?” she said. “What did you do–stop for a drink somewhere along the way? I bet you did, didn’t you? Probably flirted with some stupid, tacky woman while you were at it. I swear, you are pathetic, Leonard. No woman alive would even want the gift of you. What I ever saw in you, I have no idea. I could’ve married anyone–but no–I had to go and waste my life on some incompetent…”
She looked toward the open door and stopped mid-sentence, eyes wide with fear. Staring back at her with steel cold eyes and ashen skin was her husband—only something seemed very, very wrong with him.
“L-L-Leonard?” she stammered. “Are y-y-you alright?” He remained silent as he slowly eased his way into the car, not taking his piercing gaze off of Eva for even an instance. He did not stop at the driver’s seat, however. He slowly and stealthily slid over to where his dear, sweet ball-and-chain of nearly thirty years was sitting. He kept coming, his menacing eyes never moving from hers.
Eva’s fear turned to utter terror. This was Leonard, but it wasn’t. “Leonard! W-w-what are you doing?” she shrieked as he put his hand on her shoulder, it was like ice. Immediately she grabbed the door handle, pulling at it, but his deathly cold hand grabbed her other arm tightly.
Horrified, Eva screamed and writhed but it was useless. She looked up one final time to see her husband’s mouth opening wide into a sardonic smile, elongated fangs protruding outward. Sheer panic engulfed her, she couldn’t get away. She then heard the last words she would ever hear:
“Payback bites, Eva.”

Tis the Season of Ghouls, Goblins, and Styrofoam Gravestones


The Halloween season will soon be in full swing. Lawns will be scattered with scary scarecrows, wandered upon on by wicked witches, and covered from corner to corner in creepy cobwebs. Some yards will set the stage for a happy haunting while others will look like Halloween threw up.  Excited children will try to decide what to “go as,” while perplexed parents craft costumes late into the night and acquire an overabundance of candy.

I find the ever-increasing amounts of Halloween decorations available to the general public to be both amazing and scary–scary in more ways than one. While many displays are brilliant, there are others that look like someone ransacked a dumpster out behind a Halloween store,  and flung the contents all over their yard just before a hurricane hit. Not only are these displays trip hazards for unsuspecting trick-or-treaters, but it wouldn’t surprise me to ride by these places and see prison inmates–complete with orange jumpsuits and shackles–performing state appointed clean-up duty. Who knows, maybe my perfectionist nature just isn’t allowing me to see the artistic beauty of it all.

However, the Halloween costumes of today are far better than the lame ones available when I was a kid. I remember wearing pathetic looking plastic masks that always had a cheap, cheesy, stretched out string across the back, meant to hold the mask in place but never actually did. The masks’ material didn’t breathe, and neither could I when I wore them. These days, the masks are form-fitted, breathable numbers that look like something out of a Wes Craven flick. Not only are they ridiculously realistic, but almost scary enough to make you pass out while you’re passing out candy. At our door we see everything from precious little girls in intricately detailed princess costumes–which I’m sure their moms slaved away on for weeks–to the late night teenage ninjas who show up on the doorstep, not in costumes, but in hoodies–with blank, vacant stares being the only things masking their faces–and say nothing while they hold out their grungy pillowcases waiting for you to add to their stash.

Most costumes are store bought, but there are many mothers who make their little monsters–I mean darlings–homemade costumes. There are two possible reasons for this: (a) they’re wonderfully creative women who can lovingly craft an award-winning costume that their children, and their children’s children, will rise up and call them wonderful for, or (b) their kid couldn’t make up his mind about what he wanted to “go as,” and when he finally did, the stores no longer had it. Any time I’ve ever made my child a costume, I’ve fallen into the latter category. But either way, moms will lose sleep, lose feeling in their fingers, and lose their minds as they sew, super glue, and staple their nights away leading up to All Hallows’ Eve. Hopefully, at some point during all of this, the moms will remember to head out and get some choice candy before the stores are all out of that too.

When all is said and done, no matter how messy your yard looks, how wrong your child’s costume went, or how stale that off-brand candy you bought tastes, Halloween is a magical time of year for our kids. So don’t wish it away, because as soon as it’s over you’re going to have to not only deal with decorating for Christmas, creating costumes for your little devils–I mean angels–Christmas pageant, and baking a whole heavenly host of holiday cookies, fudge, and fruitcake; but you’ll also have to shop till you drop, wrap till you weep, and feed  your family an endless supply of festively fattening feasts.

When Halloween and Christmas Collide


Nothing beats walking into your local mega-mart the first of October—on a day when it’s 87 degrees out—and being accosted by the results of Halloween and Christmas throwing up all over each other. Never mind Halloween’s almost a month away, but can’t they at least wait till children break in their back-to-school shoes before being forced into choosing their Christmas stockings?

This time of year, massively confused holiday sections display everything from fiber-optic reindeer, to choirs of motion activated angels, to moronically huge, inflatable snow globes parked directly in front of cheesy cardboard Halloween backdrops of haunted houses, dastardly pumpkins, and chainsaw wielding murderers on the lookout for their next unsuspecting victim.

Call me crazy, but seeing piles of Christmas stuff out this early, joining forces with a plethora of Halloween paraphernalia—when it still seriously feels like beach weather—is just wrong. It’s also bizarre to see folks shuffling by in their flip flops with eclectic combinations of candy corn, fake Christmas wreaths, and sunblock filling their shopping carts.

The stores also supply everyone’s eardrums with a wide variety of confusing holiday music. While children peruse the costume aisles, trying to decide what to go as for trick-or-treat, “Jingle Bells” rings out to one and all. When their mothers find themselves lured into the Christmas card aisle, “Monster Mash” is drilled into their brains. No wonder so many people just say “Happy Holidays” these days; no one’s quite sure what’s being celebrated when.

I’m not really one to talk, though. There was once a Halloween night several years ago that I still feel really bad about. First just let me say that Christmas decorating takes weeks at our house, and I was just trying to get a good head start—the day before Halloween. At the time I saw nothing wrong with it, but my son Cameron, who was five at the time, was far from impressed to see a three-foot tall Santa lurking in the living room next to a huge light-up ghost. Not to mention the animated nutcrackers looming over the jack-o-lanterns, while “Silent Night” played softly in the background. The poor kid’s still not fully over it and will probably need therapy till he’s twenty-three.

From that moment on Cameron put his foot down, and made me swear I’d never, ever again start decorating for Christmas until November. I reluctantly agreed. I do admit it was kind of weird to see Saint Nick and the Ghost of Trick-or-Treat Present making awkward small talk with each other. Maybe they could’ve found a way to bond if they’d only gone shopping together in their local mega-mart in the beginning of October.

“When Halloween and Christmas Collide” is an excerpt taken from my book, Christmas Madness, Mayhem, & Mall Santas: Humorous Insights into the Holiday Season, available through Amazon and all major bookstores online.