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Just another pathetic sheep following the herd

 For the last couple of years, I’ve been participating in Nightmare Fuel, an annual daily horror writing project run by Bliss Morgan on Google+ (  I’m a bit late getting on board this year, due to moving youngest to his first job, but here I am, starting on day 4 with a little ode to evil-eyed sheep: 


“It’s just sheep.” Marie puts her hands to her throat as if to hold in hysterical laughter, but tears glisten on her cheeks.

I can’t blame her. I’m pretty close to the edge myself. And I’ve just wasted five seconds of precious battery to illuminate the field so we can see that the noises that have been stalking us ever since we got lost are just sheep.

We’ve only been hiking in the dark for an hour or so. Until then we thought we were just a little behind where we should have been. The trail looked familiar. We could see well enough in the twilight. But where the trail should have flattened out into the valley and a mile through winding woods to the car, we found ourselves in something like a pasture, with a stream running down the middle.

By then it was getting too dark to see our path. We figured hell, it’s been years since we hiked this trail, maybe somebody cut down the trees and converted it to pasture. It didn’t look right, but when we went to check our GPS for the thousandth time, it couldn’t connect to its satellites.

No cellphone reception, either, but that’s not unusual in the mountains. Marie keeps trying, but I turned mine off to save the battery. That’s why I could turn on the flashlight app for just long enough to see the floppy ears and intent expression of the sheep leading the herd.

“Damn scary sheep if you ask me.”

“Oh, Carl, you’re such a city boy.”

“Their eyes were glowing,” I point out.

“They’re animals,” she replies, sighing loudly. “Of course their eyes glow when light’s shining in them.”

“They’re animals,” I repeat.

“What do you think they’re going to  do, eat you?”

“Worse than that.”

“What’s worse than being eaten by sheep? Check the GPS again. Maybe we have service now that we’re farther down the valley.”

“Why bother? We only have one way to go. Look how steep those ridges are.” Were they that steep when we started to walk this direction?

No. And they weren’t that visible, either. The moon has conveniently come out to light up the impossibility of going up the sides. It illuminates the sheep, grazing peacefully while lambs nuzzle at their mothers’ sides, seeking nutrition or comfort.

There’s no reason the sight should make my blood run cold. I tell myself to calm down and think, but I don’t seem to be listening. Only one thing seems clear: we have to get the hell out of here.

“This way,” I say, turning back the way we came.

The barely-a-mountain we came down earlier seems as tall and jagged as Mt. Everest.

“Back? We can’t do that. It’s too far. We’ll be stuck on the mountain all night.”

I wonder why I never noticed before that when she’s nervous, she bleats like a sheep.

“Even if we find the road at the bottom of this valley, which I doubt, we’ll be miles from the car. If we can even figure out which direction to walk.”

She starts to giggle. Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba. “Your ears. They’re all floppy.”

I turn to run up the steep path. Her laughter is like a whip into my flanks.

The moon peeps out again, momentarily illuminating a patch of green grass beside a shallow pool in the stream. I stop. The rippling water fascinates me.

I drink deeply. I have been walking too long without stopping for water.

Marie has gone up to the leader of the sheep. They’re touching noses, cautiously.

I wander over to the grassy patch and start grazing. Damn, the grass tastes good in this high meadow.


Home for a while, finally

After spending most of the last month on the road, it’s good to finally be home. 

We spent time in Rocklin CA (near Sacramento) visiting middle son and his fiancee — saw Point Reyes, visited vineyards in Napa and Nevada City, took time to drive over to Lake Tahoe for some hiking, some paddling, and dinner with friends, and ate crab on on the waterfront in San Francisco. 

From there, we went to Montana to visit my family. Lots of good times and a day trip through Yellowstone Park with my mother. The highlight was the biggest damn grizzly I have ever seen, only a few hundred feet from the highway. He was across a river from us, so it was safe enough, but close enough to be scary. They are such impressive animals. 

We came home for a couple of days, just long enough to go to our first art class, and then it was off to Pittsburgh to pick up youngest son and help him move to Madison, WI where he’ll be starting a new job on Monday. Flew home yesterday, in time for art class again. 

Free Crochet Patterns – Vintage Doilies

For those of you who crochet, here’s a list of patterns for lovely old-fashioned doilies.

Free Crochet Patterns – Vintage Doilies.

Congratulations to Erin M. Hartshorn!

Congratulations are in order for my friend and fellow writer Erin M. Hartshorn, who was a semifinalist in this quarter’s Writers of the Future contest. Congratulations Erin!

Guest blog at

I’m the guest blogger today at Erin asked me to explain the difference between flower fairies and garden fairies, so I did. Drop by and ask away!

Bad Fairies available on Amazon!


Bad Fairies is available

Bad Fairies is available

Bad Fairies is available from Torrid Books! 

Bad Fairies scheduled for release July 1

I just finished proofing the Bad Fairies.  It will be released from Torrid Press on July 1.

Will post more info and pointers when it’s available.

Bad Fairies has been accepted at Torrid Press

Alice is very pleased to announce that Bad Fairies has been accepted at Torrid Press. No details yet.

the best-laid plans

The questions of business cards and registration names for Boskone became moot when I slipped on the ice and broke my shoulder. I transferred my membership to another writer. We had to cancel our planned cruise :p and several other events. 

On the plus side, it’s healing normally and didn’t require surgery. I’ve been able to go out to dinner and attend art class and musical events. This week I was even able to lift a golf club –swinging it will come later — and drive the car. 

I’ve had to punt on most activities involving typing. Word count goals? That interactive class about marketing techniques? All toast. But that’s finally looking up, too, and hopefully I can make some real progress on Whatever’s in the River and the rest of the Troy and Sal novels, as well as all those novellas and short stories waiting to be finished.