Free Fiction: A Vee Christmas (Part 3 – Final!)

Check out the final part of A Vee Christmas, and see the excerpt below…

Vee nudges me awake. The weak winter sun is streaming into her room, but even its feeble light makes my eyes hurt. I groan.

“C’mon Alex, it’s Christmas!” Vee nudges me again.

“Not without water or aspirin,” I mutter, wishing I’d not had that last glass of wine. But the evening had been so much fun, and I’d enjoyed myself.

Vee lifts a glass from the night stand. “I thought of that,” she says. “Take your aspirin and then let’s go. Rob’s probably already down there.”

“What time is it?” I ask, sitting up in bed and taking the glass from her. She hands me two aspirin, and I knock them back.

“Seven thirty.”

“That’s too early.”

“Not at my house,” Vee replies. She’s dressed in her blue polka-dot footie pyjamas and her hair is sticking out at all angles. My pyjamas are much more sensible, a warm, modest plaid flannel. “Let’s go.”

New Free Fiction! A Vee Christmas (Part 1)

Here’s a taste, and check out the rest at A Vee Christmas (Part 1):

Vee’s sitting by the fire in my favorite leather chair as I come out from the bedroom. She’s stretched her feet out, getting as close to the heat as she can. After the snow the other day, she’s been miserable, complaining about soaking her feet in the slush on her way to and from work, about the crush of Christmas shoppers, and having to mop the floor every hour. Now she’s quiet, holding a cup of coffee, her eyelids drooping. I almost hate to disturb her, but I’ve had this idea in my head all day.

“Let’s go out, Vee,” I say softly, coming to run my fingers through her red and green streaked hair. She did it for the holiday, but also to piss off her boss, who always fussed about her ‘abnormal and disgusting’ hair colors. I think it’s cute, and it’s the most holiday spirit Vee’s shown all month.

 Part 2 is coming soon!

New release! VEE (Vol. 1) on Kindle!

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????“Sylvia, my brightest star, my desire. My lust, my soul.

“She was Lia to her co-workers at the bookstore, Sylvia to her mother, who clicked her tongue disapprovingly at her bright blue and hair and her Monroe stud. But to me, she was simply Vee.”

In Alex’s notebooks, the story of Vee unfolds, from their first kiss, their first date, and the moments in between. It’s a May-December romance between a former punk girl gone conservative, and a gamine young woman in combat boots and fishnets. They find each other on the streets of New York City and it’s love at first sight.

These are short collections of stories. Along with the free reads from this site, there are new, unreleased stories, and occasionally short fiction that was first available in various anthologies. (And for those of you who read MOONLIGHT & LOVE SONGS and need a little more of Daniel and Benoit…there is more!)

Volume 1:
Vee (from FELT TIPS)
Heart of Glass
Birdland (I)
Birdland (II)
Vee’s Notebook (from ANYTHING SHE WANTS)

Release Date: October 1, 2013
ISBN-13 (Kindle): 978-0-9920065-5-6

Buy it on AMAZON.

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Movie: Shame

I knew it would be cold. Dreary, even. The trailer showed as much: Brandon sitting on the subway, eyeing a woman across the aisle, his face expressionless. The dark New York streets, the plain and dull walls of his apartment, of his workplace. It’s a New York that seems nearly lifeless.

Brandon’s life is rote, routine. He wakes, jerks off in the shower, goes to work, looks at porn, goes home, looks at more porn. If he goes out, he picks up a girl. Maybe a prostitute. He gets off. (Even for me as a viewer, it was dull.) Living alone, his desires are hidden from others, and it’s not until his sister Sissy arrives that his world is shaken up. She’s in his apartment, even having sex in his bed on one occasion, and he can’t indulge in his usual practices. He’s pushed from his privacy, and he and his sister clash, their ideas about life at odds. They’re both messed up, from something that happened in childhood that is only vaguely alluded to by Sissy.

He does try to do it the ‘usual way’, going on a date with a woman he works with. They go to a hotel room, but he can’t get it up. It’s not enough for him; it doesn’t push the envelope. The downward spiral has already begun.

Shame is a film equivalent of literary fiction. I’m not sure how much Brandon learns, or if he’d ever manage to take any sense of joy from the world. It’s the kind of film that I’m glad I saw, but I’m not sure that I’d be able to manage it a second time. Maybe I will, after several years distance.

Both Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan were incredible in their roles. Fassbender’s performance was especially compelling. If I had a choice at the Academy Awards, I’d give him the Best Actor statuette. However, films like Shame don’t usually make it to a big name awards ceremony… the content just isn’t friendly enough.

RWA 2011, Part 2: NYC

First the conference, now, New York City.

Though I could have spent my time entirely closeted in the hotel, overdosing on workshops and networking, I had to get out and see a bit of the city. My usual destinations when I travel: museums, churches, food, and music.

St Patrick's Cathedral

Churches included St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Malachy’s (the Actors church) in the Theatre District, and a quick pop into St Mary’s episcopal church (the parish church of midtown). I’d been to St. Patrick’s on my previous visit and I knew I had to go back. Located near the busy Rockefeller Centre and Saks, it’s nearly always crawling with tourists. Fortunately, the tourists are generally quiet and respectful. Stepping into the cool, incense and candle-wax scented air is a welcome break from the noise of people and traffic just outside the doors.

St. Malachy’s is much smaller. In the middle of the block, it’s the sort of church that you might just stroll by, mistaking its front for yet another theatre in the Theatre District. I popped in on my way back from a run to the grocery store for breakfast items, and it was one of the loveliest churches I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. If I lived in NYC, I could see myself going there regularly just to enjoy the peace and quiet. I have no idea of its history, but it is billed as the ‘Actors Church’. Given its location, I imagine that it is more likely to be attended by actors.

The Birdland.

I didn’t visit a lot of restaurants on this trip. However, there’s one that is now one of my favourite restaurants ever. Zen Palate. Located on 9th Avenue at 46 Street, it’s a vegetarian restaurant with primarily Asian cuisine. There was so much on the menu that I had a hard time deciding, but I finally settled on a Portobello mushroom burger with yam fries. (No, that doesn’t sound especially Asian, but most of the rest of the menu was.) I wish we’d been able to stay and sample more dishes, but we were running late, having to get back to the hotel to get ready for the RITAs.

My favourite evening out was on Wednesday, when I had the evening to myself. A bit of googling found the Birdland jazz club on W 44 Street just past 8th Avenue. They have early shows on Wednesdays and I got there just in time to catch the performance of the Louis Armstrong Centennial band. They played a selection of tunes, all classic jazz, from Armstrong to Duke Ellington, and more. After the crush of people during the first day of the conference, I couldn’t have asked for anywhere better to sit and unwind.

The interior of the Birdland.

It’s difficult for me to explain exactly what it is that music does to me. Sitting on that bar stool, sipping my drink and listening to the jazz, I felt the stress drain away. The music takes over.

A flute of kir royale (with a twist of lemon) led to another, and then a full meal, including a very delicious mushroom risotto. If I could have stayed there all night, I would have. The interior of the club is dark, with a red glow from the stage-lights, and the gleam of the neon that encircles the top of the bar. Framed photos of jazz legends adorn the walls and half the club is taken up with tables, spread with linen, in front of the stage. The other half, on the far side of the bar, is bar stools along the window, and several small high tables. The bar seats come with a cheaper cover charge, so I sat there. The bartender (whose name I never got, and should have) was friendly, and the service was excellent.

Art at the Museum of Sex.

I managed to visit one museum on this trip, taking in the Museum of Sex with some of the other RWA attendees, Daisy Harris, Tiffany Reisz, Monica Kaye and Andrew Shaffer. There were three floors and a gift shop. The first floor highlighted sex in film, from the early silent era, through the Hayes code, and into modern pornography. The second floor dealt with sex in comics, vintage photos, and featured an entire wall of Disney characters engaged in sexual behaviour. (I’d love to know why Disney hasn’t come down on them, but I’m glad they haven’t.) The third floor was an exhibit on sexual behaviour in animals, sometimes with video footage. We’re really not all that different from the bonobo monkeys, apparently…

The only thing that disappointed me about the museum was its very tight focus. I would have liked to see a display of sex toys throughout the ages (ancient dildos, etc.), and just some overall greater depth. However, it was worth the visit.

Most of my other wandering was around the Times Square area, during breaks between events, so I didn’t stray too far from the hotel. Popped into the huge Toys R Us, the Hershey chocolate store, a music store, and a few other places. On my last morning there, I had a chocolate croissant (pain chocolat, to the French) and a glass of juice at the Blue Fin (normally a sushi bar, but it had a breakfast menu) before I went to the airport. On my next trip to NYC, I plan to take in more museums.

RWA 2011, Part 1: The Conference

The idea of dropping $2K+ on a one-week writers conference for the Romance Writers of America had me feeling queasy, but as I’d decided back in January, I certainly wasn’t going back. I landed at Newark on Monday, June 27th, and the whirlwind began.

The view from the 39th floor.

The hotel was smack-dab in the middle of Times Square, which made for a slightly crazy experience. I’m one of those people who likes to go out to get away from the crush, but to go out meant stepping into the chaos that is Times Square (except in the middle of the night, which I didn’t do during this trip.) Handy to most everything, but sometimes I wished for closer proximity to Central Park, or at least a site in the more northerly end of Manhattan.

The conference itself was spread over 3-4 floors, connected by escalators illuminated with golden bulbs, and a computerised elevator system where you’d input your floor and be given a letter (which corresponded to a particular elevator) to attend. That took a bit of getting used to, and on Friday evening, the demand for elevators (and the slowness of getting one) made me wonder if we were going to be late for the RITAs.

View from the Rooftop Patio & Lounge during the Nelson Literary Agency party.

My goals for the conference were simple: meet up with Twitter/online friends, pitch to an agent, and take in some workshops. I did all three. My favourite was the Nelson Literary Agency party on Tuesday night. Hosted at the Rooftop Patio & Lounge on 5th Avenue and 27 Street, I was finally able to meet the very excellent Sara Megibow, Sarah Skilton, Miranda Kenneally, Roni Loren, Steve Vera, Kristin Nelson, Anita Mumm, and Lindsay Mergens, and RT’s Andrew Shaffer. A better bunch of people I could never hope to meet. (And if you’re wondering, I didn’t list Tiffany Reisz because we were roomies at the hotel, and I’d met her already.)

The scheduled luncheons and the opening session were enjoyable. The opening session had a panel of writers: Steve Berry, Diana Gabaldon, and Tess Gerritsen. I’d read most of Diana’s work but none by the other two, so I now have 2 books in my TBR stack. Luncheon #1 had Madeline Hunter as the keynote, and luncheon #2 was Sherrilyn Kenyon. Both were great to listen to. You’ll have to forgive my lack of detail, but all were dynamic and fascinating.

I didn’t get in nearly as many workshops as I’d optimistically plotted out on my RWA agenda. The constant barrage of people and broken sleeping patterns had me hitting the snooze button in the morning or retreating to my room after a luncheon to regain my equilibrium. Still, I managed to take in a few.

My favourite (and most useful) workshop was the Pitch Witch session by Carrie Lofty (author of ‘Portrait of Seduction’, which I reviewed.) She had four points for making the pitch that had me rewriting the entirety of my pitch. It came in handy for my Friday morning appointment, though I was caught off guard by some of the other questions the agent had for me. However, it was my first pitch ever, so I think I did well. My goal there was to do the pitch and get the experience.

I also learned that THE PARIS GAME (my current manuscript) does not have enough romance or erotica in it to be classified as either. Though I don’t tend to take genre specifications very seriously, being at the conference and hearing a publishing perspective made me realise that this book should really be classified as straight-out noir. And thus, not in the least suited to any of the romance sub-genres. What does this mean? Just that I’ll be more precise in my future pitching and querying (and I shall be starting querying agents this month). I’ll be looking for those who rep a broader variety of work, where I can expand my imagination and do noir one book, erotica or romance the next, and so forth.

So, where does this leave me? Recovering from the travel and pondering my next moves. It was definitely worthwhile to attend and hopefully I’ll be able to do it again.