Bon Voyage

Paris flight

I’ll be out of the country for the rest of September. And this photo is reminiscent of the state of technology to which I will be reverting. That’s right – no posting, tweeting, Facebooking, and I will not be checking my email. I am officially going Off.The.Grid.

I know – I can hear it now: “But what will you do without technology, Lee?”

What, indeed? I’m thinking this:

Feast on fabulous local cuisine. Drink gallons of amazing wine.  Walk miles and miles in the city and countryside. Soak up as much history and culture as can be packed into each day. Live every single experience in the moment, and not through the lens of a cell phone camera.

I’ll also be seriously considering the direction I want my writing to take. The past two years at A Taste for Murder have been tumultuous, at best. I’ve written thousands of words, hundreds of note cards, several outlines, and most all of it leaves me cold. I’m not finding my niche.

Perhaps I’ll hear some echoes of advice from the muses lurking in the book shelves at Shakespeare and Company. Or floating through Monet’s gardens at Giverny. Or from the prehistoric drawings on the walls of the Dordogne Caves.

Whatever I hear, see, taste, or feel will be noted with old-fashioned pen and paper. And when I get back, I hope to be refreshed with a brand new focus. See you in October.

Au revoir! [and this is why I’m always practicing my French]

Posted in Enjoying the Journey, Technology is My Nemesis | Leave a comment

September IWSG Blog Hop

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge
Insecure Writers Support Group

This month’s $64,000 question:

How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

Like most people who work a day job to keep the lights on, I struggle to carve out bits of time to write whenever I can. Right now, it is lunch hours and Sunday afternoons. Most days I carry my lunch in, close the door, and spend the hour doing something related to my writing project. Lately I have been working on HTTS. Sunday is the only weekend day I can claim time regularly, and I usually get 2-3 hours of time in between switching identities as the Laundry Fairy.

I have experimented with early mornings. But there are two problems with doing “morning pages.” First, the vampire side of me has no interest in getting out of bed to write at a time when she would rather be getting into bed. Second, I have reached an age when I need to be serious about my health, so I do drag my Lilith self out early mornings for workouts that I am too tired to do after work. Roll your eyes all you want, your time will come, too. If you’re lucky.

I have also had spurts of writing after work, mostly when taking writing classes that included assignments with actual deadlines. This hasn’t been particularly successful, because the day job hours are often long or work needs doing in the evening. And frankly, after a day of dealing with people sucking the very soul out of me, all I want to do is drink blood wine.

But all is not lost. I’m fortunate enough that I have a drop-dead date in the not-to-distant future for leaving the day job permanently to write full time, so I don’t stress out about this too much. I intend to enjoy my career as a writer and not bring the angst and drama that occupies so much of my day now. Other bonuses will include vampire hours and no people.

And I will live among the creatures of the night. [thank you Laura Branigan]


Many thanks to the awesome co-hosts for this edition of the IWSG blog hop:

C. Lee McKenzie
Rachel Pattison
Elizabeth Seckman
Stephanie Faris
Lori L MacLaughlin
Elsie Amata!

Posted in Partners in Crime, Write What You Know | 18 Comments

It’s None of Your Damn Business if I’m a Robot

One of the many irritations in trying to comment on other people’s site, besides comments just disappearing into cyberspace to land god-alone-knows where, is the demand to Prove I’m Not a Robot. There are several little “captcha” screens to test one’s not-robotness, including one that gives you a scenario and requires you to correctly identify which of nine photographs matches the scenario. To wit:

prove your not cat_captcha-598x1024

Seems easy enough, right? Well, rest assured, you are NEVER going to get this screen with kittens, puppies, and marijuana, which any idiot can readily identify and differentiate. The questions I get appear to be ripped from an LSAT exam.

prove your not with grass

First, these damn pictures are smaller than a postage stamp, so how I am supposed to figure out which ones have grass? Does the grass under the snow in the far right corner count? Is that grass just off the bottom corner of the middle picture at the bottom? WTF is even in that picture in the second row, middle picture?

You might get the screen that asks you to choose all the “store fronts.” This is a collection of buildings, some with signs in foreign writing. Is the little hut with a sign featuring a leaf selling tobacco? How the hell am I supposed to know if it’s a “store front” or a hashish stand. Is it legal to sell hashish in this place? Does it count as a “store front” even if it’s illegal?

There’s another one that demands that you identify the pictures in which “snow” appears. Several pictures have mountains, which may or may not have “snow” on them, and even 20/20 vision and a magnifying glass doesn’t make it clear. At least this batch doesn’t include photos of someone snorting cocaine, thereby further complicating the issue of what constitutes “snow.”

This is way more stress than I want in my life. I clearly need a Robot to VERIFY that I am Not a Robot. I am pretty sure the nefarious Robots out there trying to comment are getting waaaaay better scores on these tests than I am. And seriously, can it be far off that Robots will unionize and demand equal rights to commenting? I think not.

Frankly, there are days when I wonder if the reason I have so much trouble with these things is because . . . I, [am] Robot.

If Robots drink Pinot Noir, my days of commenting may be numbered.


Posted in I'm Not Sure What is Going On Here, Technology is My Nemesis | 4 Comments

My First Official Rejection – They Wanted Less Imagination

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Insecure Writers Support Group

This is my second go-around with this blog hop business (not counting the story time hop) and I think I am catching on. The question for August is:

What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

I have been writing stories for as long as I can remember. I don’t recall my exact first piece of writing, but I do remember the first piece I submitted for submission. It was sometime during my incarceration in public school during the first grade.

I had penned and illustrated a wonderfully entertaining (so I was told) story titled The Adventures of Helen and Troy. The inspiration for the character names came from overhearing my father, who devoured all things history, talking about Helen of Troy, of ancient Greece fame.

I was not particularly captivated with the history, per se, but the idea of a beautiful woman and a wooden horse bringing down an empire set fire to my imagination. Thus was born the story of Helen and her flying wooden horse, Troy. And I had not even heard of Anne McCaffrey yet!

The delightful (so I was told) illustration featured Helen and Troy recapping an afternoon of crushing the world, while munching on sticky buns and sipping egg creams from tulip-shaped glasses. I was very particular about the shape of those glasses, because the local ice cream parlor served egg creams in them, but we did not have the financial resources to enjoy those kinds of treats.

My story, suitably printed in block letters on fat ruled paper, along with the illustration done in my beloved colored pencils, were submitted to Highlights Magazine. If you are not familiar with Highlights, it featured stories and activities for children and was famous for its Goofus and Gallant, a bad boy/good boy cartoon (guess which is which). It also invited submissions for the “Your Own Pages” feature, for drawings, poems, and stories by readers.

In the era of snail mail, it was several weeks before I heard anything. But finally, an envelope arrived, with the cute little Highlights logo in the corner. Since this is not America’s Got Talent, I will cut right to the chase. After thanking me for my submission, the neatly typed note informed me that the content of my submission was not “quite right” for Highlights Magazine [sound familiar?]. They were, I was further informed, looking for stories and illustrations that featured more “realistic” subjects.

Realistic? Right. Because we don’t want children putting any of their imagination into the stuff they submit for “Your Own Pages.” Irony, anybody?

I was, of course, crushed. But my father scoffed and opined that Highlights editors obviously knew nothing about history or they would have immediately recognized the connection between my story and Greek mythology. And my mother pointed out that Gallant was really just an Eddy Haskell, so magazine editors’ judgment was suspect in many ways. And not that I hold a grudge, or anything, but I never bought that insipid magazine for my daughter. And she still has an amazing imagination!

Now that I have retrieved this idea from the dark recesses of my mind, I think it might be a really great idea for a children’s book. Children with imagination, that is.



Many thanks to the awesome co-hosts for this edition of the IWSG blog hop: Tamara Narayan, Tonja Drecker, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Lauren @ Pensuasion, Stephen Tremp, and Julie Flanders!

I raise my glass of Pinot Noir to them, and thank the universe that someone has the technological skills to pull this off.

Posted in I Am Not Making This Up, I'm Just Making This Up, Write What You Know | 22 Comments

July StoryTime Blog Hop


I’ve no idea how long I’d lain unconscious. I struggled to sit up – damned hard to do with my hands cuffed behind my back. The rumbling and swaying in darkness left me disoriented. A squalid stench assailed my nostrils, causing my stomach to roil precariously.

The last thing I remembered was being strapped onto a gurney and the irony of the acrid whiff of alcohol before getting a needle stick to “take the edge off.” Twenty years of appeals had run dry. But instead of getting my brains fried, I’d been spirited away for a train ride. Now I just needed to find a way to escape.

I gravitated toward a sliver of grimy yellow light visible through a half-open door. I stumbled over a uniform-clad body with its face smashed to smithereens. I don’t think I did the deed, but given my blackout, I can’t be absolutely certain.

I did, in fact, kill a prison guard in just this manner, three years ago. That little dust-up added another life sentence to the other four I’d already acquired, in addition to the death penalty. So one more body wouldn’t much matter in my afterlife.

What mattered was this stiff had the keys to the handcuffs. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally worked the cuffs free.

The train raced along a black abyss, making any attempt to jump off too dangerous. I needed to get the conductor to slow the train down. I made my way toward the engine cab, trying to ignore the stink of rotting flesh permeating the air.

Lounging on the soiled cloth seats around me in various states of decay was a cadre of bodies I thought I’d buried in the recesses of my mind. They all grinned at me. Some I knew by name – the crazy neighbor, Mrs. Faraday, my ex-girlfriend, Suzie, my best friend Joel, ex-best friend after I caught him and Suzie doing the nasty.

Others I only remembered by circumstance – the Shell gas station attendant, the 7-11 clerk, the homeless guy with the new sneakers. And that chick with the smashed jaw? An underage hooker who’d been looking for a fix. I’d forgotten about her. Others relegated to my hazy sub-consciousness also appeared. I remained calm, positive I was hallucinating and probably still lying on the gurney back at Statesville.

As I opened the door to the engine cab, the conductor tooted an earsplitting whistle, causing me to wince in pain.

“Welcome aboard sonnyboy- we’re all here,” she cackled.

I wasn’t surprised that the conductor was another putrid corpse. But the voice, her voice. She’d been the first. Chills went down my spine. I felt afraid as I began to understand. I realized I’d wet myself. She noticed and laughed.

“Your ticket’s been punched, sonnyboy. You’ve reached your final destination.”

I’m not sure if the exploding pain in my head was from the train whistle, blown again and again by my mother, or from the roar of my own screaming.
Other great Blog Hop stories here:

Elizabeth McCleary – OverWhelmed
Viola Fury – The Day The Cat Got Out
Karen Lynn – Dragon Smoke and Wind
Katharina Gerlach – Lobster One
S.R. Olson – Malakai’s Gift
Wendy Smyer Yu – Into The Light
Emily Plesner – Time Stops When I’m With You
Barbara Lund – Separate Space
Shana Blueming – A Melting Heart
Juneta Key – Don’t Drink The Water
Angela Wooldridge – Midwinter

Posted in Criminal Intent, Killer Reads, Write What You Know | 14 Comments