Today at BlackBeary Condo – No Such Thing as Excess

It’s early, early morning, and BlackBeary is hungry, but her human won’t wake up, not even after a lot of nudging and singing. In her head, BlackBeary hears the opening lines from her version of the Golden Earring song, Twilight Zone:

Somewhere in a condo’s dark hallway,
There’s a cat starting to realize
That eternal fate has turn its back on her

It’s two A.M.

“It’s two A.M. and the food is gone,” BlackBeary sings. “I’m sitting here waitin’ the plate’s still warm. Maybe my human’s is tired of takin’ orders. Rawr, there’s a hunger on the loose, a growlin’ in my core.”

She purrs the words, the middle lines she can never remember, and then continues…

“Mrroww, I’m sneaking into the twilight zone. Should be a cat house, but doesn’t feel like home. My food’s disappeared, nowhere under moon and star. So what am I to do now that I’ve pushed too hard?”

Weak from the lack of Fancy Feast, BlackBeary curls up behind the stinky-new-smelling sofa, and ponders whether Edna Ferber was right. Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little.

The silliness, the absurdity of having too much cat food clears her hunger haze for a moment, and her sanity returns. No, she thinks. She’s a cat. Excess is good. Especially an excess of Fancy Feast.

She pulls herself up, her hungry muscles screaming, and saunters down the dark hallway. It’s two A.M., time to wake up her human.

BlackBeary sings, “The human’ll come to know. When the claws hit her nose. Merrrrow, merrow, when the claws hit her nose.”


Today at BlackBeary Condo – Not the Medicine

IMG_20140918_192757.xIt’s that time of night again when BlackBeary’s human stands at the kitchen sink, her old, under-exercised body jiggling vigorously as she shakes the ugly brown bottle. Of medicine. If she’s feeling kind, BlackBeary admits that at least her human doesn’t try to be sneaky, doesn’t try to trick her about it. But that’s where her human is not so smart.

As soon as her human starts brandishing the bottle, BlackBeary leaps from wherever she happens to be so beautifully perched and runs toward the safety of the under-mattress. But halfway down the hall, she stops, turns, and waits to make sure her human is watching. Unable to resist taunting her human, BlackBeary gives her the scary eyes, and says, “You’ll never take me alive, bitch.” For a long moment, she holds her pose of defiance and then sprints into the bedroom and under the bed.

Obviously knowing she’s been bested, BlackBeary imagines her human slinking back to the stinky-new-smelling chair and reading until it’s time for bed.

But by the time her human’s ready for bed, BlackBeary has napped and has long since forgotten about the nasty little syringe of liquid medicine.

So, feeling in need of a good chin scratch, BlackBeary leaps up onto the bed and settles down just within arm’s reach of her human. She doesn’t like to make it too easy for her human, even when it means getting petted. She doesn’t want her human to think that BlackBeary needs her or wants to be around her. It’s just convenient to allow her human to pet her on the bed.

And just as BlackBeary is drifting off toward her seventeenth nap of the day, her human grabs her by the scruff of the neck.

“Not the medicine,” BlackBeary says, struggling to get away. “Please. Not the medicine.” She gives her human the sad round eyes, but it apparently isn’t effective enough.

“I don’t like this any more than you do.”

“Not the medicine, Momma.”

Despite her pleas, her human grabs the syringe and quickly squishes the nasty concoction into BlackBeary’s mouth.

The awful junk coats the inside of BlackBeary’s mouth making her want to gag. “Blakkkkkk.” And she does gag, drooling all over the quilt. That’ll teach her human to squish vile stuff into her mouth. “Ick. Ick. Ick.”

“I’m sorry, baby,” her human says. “I know you don’t like it.”

Her human takes BlackBeary into her arms and gives her a loving scratch behind the ears and a kiss on the head as if that will grant forgiveness.  She then gently sets BlackBeary on the bed and for a good long time, scratches her all over, knowing all the right spots. Especially the belly spots.

For the night, all is forgiven. But as BlackBeary once again drifts toward that seventeenth nap of the day, she sighs. “Sneaky bitch.”

Today at BlackBeary Condo – Stones Concert

IMG_20140214_100544It’s 3am at BlackBeary Condo, the perfect time for BlackBeary to sing the songs of her people. The quiet hallway allows her perfect pitch to resonate all through the condo, thus providing maximum appreciative value to anyone who can hear her.

“I don’t get all the naps that I want. I don’t get all the treats that I want.”


“But if I sing all night,”


“My human might”

“Oh geeze, not again.”

“Finally do what I want.”

“BlackBeary! Please stop that.”

“I don’t get all the naps that I want. I don’t get all the treats that I want. But if I sing all night….”

When BlackBeary hears her human sigh and rustle the covers, probably pulling her pillow over her head, as she is wont to do, BlackBeary decides to nap for a few moments. To rest her voice. There’s still time. The next round will start in about a hour, as soon as her human has drifted off to sleep again.




Today at BlackBeary Condo – All the Gravy is Gone

BlackBeary’s human is standing in the kitchen, just gazing into that weird box that puffs out cold air when she opens it. What she doesn’t seem to be aware of, is totally oblivious about is that BlackBeary’s food dish is empty. For heaven’s sake, all the good bits are gone, especially the gravy. All the gravy is gone. The only stuff left is the icky-not-worth-eating junk.

“Hungry.” BlackBeary nudges her human.

“It’s only four o’clock,” her human says, not even bothering to look at the effectively empty plate. “I fed you at eleven.”


BlackBeary’s human pulls the peanut butter from the cold box and something green that has to be yucky. Most of the stuff in the cold box is yucky. And green stuff is especially yucky.


“You’ve got a full bowl of dry food.”

“And? Fancy Feast?”

The human proceeds to slather peanut butter on some long green disgusting vegetable looking thing, and then–and then, oh my god, she puts it in her mouth. Ick. So nasty. It crunches as she chews sending waves of repulsion through BlackBeary, making her want to run away. The sound of crunching vegetable is repugnant.


“There’s still food left from this morning.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Wha?” Obviously the crunchy vegetable thing has made BlackBeary’s human delusional. “Are you serious?”

“You didn’t eat what I gave you this morning.”

“I ate the edible stuff.”

BlackBeary’s human looks at the cabinet where the Fancy Feast is stored, as if pondering.

“Hungry. Hungry. Hungry.”

“Okay. Geeze, you’re demanding.”

“Sooooooooooooooo hungry.”

“Okay. Okay. Just stop that. Please.”

Still crunching the awful vegetable, the human puts the leftover Fancy Feast plate in the sink, pulls a clean plate from one cabinet and a beautiful can of Fancy Feast from another cabinet. The snick of the can opening eases BlackBeary’s worried mind. Starvation has been averted once again.

“There you go.” Her human places the plate on the floor.

“Love you, Mom.”

10 Books that Have Never Left You – What are Your Ten?

IMG_20140906_140406A while back a friend–I think it was Kathleen–pinged me on FB to list ten books that have stayed with me over the years.   I know the challenge is to just list them without really thinking about it, but that’s not who I am. I over think everything. No, really. I know I do.

I’m challenging you to do the same. Whether it’s here as a comment or on FB.  I ended up with a dozen, because I can never follow the rules, well, not exactly.

But you only have to do ten.  Unless you want to do more.

~ o ~

This challenge provided me the perfect opportunity to think about two of my favorite things: books and me.

So the real question is what does it mean that a book, its story has stayed with me. I can remember many–I’ll even go as far as to say most–of the books I’ve read. That doesn’t imply that I can remember the title, because I have been known to buy books that are either already sitting on my shelf or that I’ve already read. [I love that Amazon tells me, umm, yeah, we see that you already own that book. With an implied: dumbass.]

Anyway, instead of pondering why books stay with me, I’m just going to list the books that have most influenced me, in my life and my writing.  And a short bit about why. Most of these I have read multiple times. That I’d go back and re-read a book, several of them many times, when there are so many good books available, says more than any theory I can provide as to why they stayed with me.

(1) Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

000download (2)I read this in high school and was enthralled with Mr. Vonnegut’s writing. But it was the idea behind the book that kept evolving in my head that made me love this book. The story is funny and sad at the same time. It gave me perspective, if that is possible in a sixteen year old, on man’s stupidity, man’s willingness to destroy everything around him in the eternal search for more/better/happiness. And it helped developed my style of handling authority. I will never forget the ending, the image of Man’s final act of giving the finger to You Know Who.

(2) Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

This is another one I read in high school, only this time I was scrunched down under the covers in a spooky, supposedly haunted house. Haunted, interestingly enough, by Mr. King, or so said Nettie, our housekeeper. But back to the novel… I had always loved scary movies, so this was a natural progression. Back then kids didn’t have TVs in their bedrooms. And in the living room, we only had three channels. We read books. But what impressed me about this book was how well, how easily Stephen King could get into my head. And scare the crap out of me. If you’ve read his better books (and there are some I sincerely do not like), you’ll understand what I mean. Since reading Salem’s Lot I have been an ardent fan of Stephen King.

(3) Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

You’ll see references to Practical Magic in my own novel, An Untold Want.  My story is nothing like the one told in Practical Magic, but it is the story that nudged me to write my novel. I love Alice Hoffman’s way of telling stories.

(4) The Odyssey by Homer

You’re thinking, finally something classical and meaningful. Yes, this book was so meaningful to me, so powerful that I ended up with a degree [one of three] in Classical Culture and the ability [sadly, a skill that has faded into oblivion] to read ancient Greek. How amazing is it that someone living 2500 years ago, without the use of a laptop, without even writing it down, created something so brilliant, so beautiful as the story of Odysseus and his efforts to return home? This book has everything. Action, intrigue, romance, betrayal, murder, magic. Everything.

(5) The Mystery of the Gingerbread House by Wylly Folk St. John

000downloadThis book would be considered pre-teen now; back then it was just a kid’s book.  I read it when I was nine, maybe ten. And it started my love of mysteries. The book blurb: “An abandoned baby. A locked trunk. A man called Finch. A stolen car ring. And a missing grandmother. Ronny and Greg Jameson didn’t realize that one girl could be so full of mystery. But that was before they met Evie Hollis.”  What inquisitive kid wouldn’t want to read it?

This book is so old, when in a nostalgic moment I looked for it on-line, it was out of print, but I did find a copy recently on eBay or some such site. Amazon now has some re-prints, though third-party vendors.

Wylly Folk St. John wrote the Southern version of Nancy Drew. And when I go back and read these books, it makes me realize that there is some of Ms. St. John’s style in my writing.  She even wrote one called The Secret of the Seven Crows.  If you’d like to read more about her, there’s a nice post here on WordPress:  Wylly Folk St. John -A Life In Words

(6) Shingebiss — unknown

This is not a novel, not even a full book, but I remember it so well from my childhood, from my mother reading it to me from a big book of fairy tales, that I went and found it in print.

Shingebiss is the story of perseverance and self-confidence, or at least that’s how I remember it. If you know anything of my history, you’ll know that it’s an interesting concept that my mother often read this to me.

The book blurb [a re-print]: “… this ancient Ojibwe story captures all the power of winter and all the courage of a small being who refuses to see winter as his enemy. This sacred story shows that those who follow the ways of Shingebiss will always have plenty to eat, no matter how hard the great wind of Winter Maker blows.”

(7) Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

How can you not love social statements encapsulated in humor? The main character is Brother Brutha.  If you haven’t read this book, you should. ‘Nuff said.

(8) The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

To be honest, I don’t even remember what the story is about, but I loved that it is a story within a story within a story. I loved the writing. I need to go back and read it again, for the third time.

(9) Light in August by William Faulkner

061281b0c8a0fdff169c9110.LAnother perseverance book, by one of my all time favorite authors. I love long complex sentences. Faulkner gives me something to chew on and has affected my writing style significantly.

“Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders.”

— William Faulkner, Light in August,”Chapter Six

(10) Throat by Peter Straub

A dark, intellectual thriller, it is the last in the Blue Rose trilogy. I read this one first, and then read the other two books, then re-read this one, several times. Like Stephen King, Peter Straub understands and expertly uses the mechanics of writing a dark story that gets in your head and burrows into the soft brain matter, taking root. That’s what makes it disturbing. Not that it’s a dark story. It’s disturbing because it makes you wonder, long after you’ve put it down.

(11) American Gods by Neil Gaiman

This is one of the books that I’ve read many times. I will say that if you aren’t versed in mythology it may not make any sense, or at best be difficult to understand. I love this book because of the layers and layers of complexity. I read it the first time because of the mythology. Read it again for depth of the story. It’s like one of those movies where every time you watch it you see something different.

(12) Imagica by Clive Barker

000567704Last listed, but certainly not least, is Imagica. Take the complexity and depth of Straub’s and Gaiman’s books, the in your head style of Stephen King, and add a lot of grizzly, disturbing horror to it, and you’ve got Clive Barker. Imagica is 900 pages of earth-based, dark, violent fantasy which questions everything we know about the universe. About “themes such as God, sex, love, gender and death.”

~ o ~

I could go on for days talking about books that have stayed with me, but this has become a long post, and I’m tired after a long week at my soul-sucking job. If you want more info on books I’ve read, you can check my Goodreads author page.

Or you can pick your own.

Today at BlackBeary Condo

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACarrying a bowl of yummy-yogurt and yucky-peaches, on clumsy feet the human pads to the stinky-new-smelling recliner and sits, pushing at it to get it to recline. BlackBeary knows her human thinks it’s nicer than a regular recliner because, sure, it looks like one of those fancy wing back chairs that one sees in old mansions, but it just smells bad, too new. Humans can be so dense.

“Mine,” BlackBeary says, wanting the yogurt. The peaches can go hang.

“Well, get up here.” The human pats the seat beside her. Fortunately she is one of those humans thin enough to share. But no self-respecting cat wants to share a seat on a fake-antique-ish, wrong-smelling chair.


“Well, get up here.”


“Well, get up here.”

This goes on far too long. Over and over again. And over again. So BlackBeary pulls out the heavy artillery. “Mine,” BlackBeary says giving her human the round, sad kitty eyes. So hungry. For yogurt. Greek honey-vanilla yogurt.

“Come on. I know you can jump that high.” Her human pats the chair seat beside her again.

“Mine.” More sad kitty eyes.

“Well, get up here.”

Letting her eyes narrow, BlackBeary walks away. “Fuck you.”

Long, painful minutes later, the human puts the now mostly empty bowl on the floor, leaving BlackBeary the dregs of the yogurt. Thankfully all the peaches are gone. Ick.

With much disdain, BlackBeary saunters over and inspects the bowl, takes a few licks.  “Bitch.” It tastes like peaches.


10 Reasons I Want to be an Author

I recently saw one of those fun posts on Facebook, you know, the type with a funny picture and a quote, or something like that.  This one was Why I Love Being an Author. It made me think about why I want to be an author. Well, let me restate that, I want to be an author making enough to support my style of living which does not imply that I would need to be the next Stephen King.

These are my ten reasons why I want to be an author. If you disagree, you can create your own list.

(1) I get paid for exercising a creative outlet.

Let’s face it, I’m bored with my Corporate America job.  I’ve been doing it for 25 plus years now, and it hasn’t fulfilled a single dream, other than it has provided me the funds to fulfill some short-term dreams. I started writing because I needed a creative outlet. Now I’d like to make what was once just a creative outlet my full-time job.

(2) I can work from home, in my jammies, with bed-head if I want. Or anywhere.

I live less than twenty miles from work, and most days my commute is an hour each way, and that does not include the time to get ready for work.

And when I get to work, I sit in a cubicle. I started out my career in Corporate America in an office, but Corporate America has deluded itself into believing that cubicle farms are the way to engender productivity. Or at least that’s the take away from the rah-rah “what’s good for the company” speeches, from the “this is a good problem to have” lectures. I haven’t found this to be true. Most days I feel like I work in one of those chicken coops, you know, the corporate farms’ coops with tiny cages stacked ten deep in which the chickens at the bottom are literally smothering in the poop from above.

Plus, I can live anywhere and still be an author. I could move out of the city or move into the inner city. I could have a small house in the woods or on the beach. The options are limitless when you aren’t tied to an office.

(3) I can work in the middle of the night. Or take a nap, whenever.


I am not a day person. Ask my co-workers how lovely it is to work with me in the morning, especially after only a few hours of sleep, which happens more often than most understand.

Like Ms. BlackBeary, my cat, I could take a nap any time of the day, maybe two.

(4) No need for a psychotherapists. (Most days.)

Writing is a great release, a great way to address issues without having to confront people.

I’ve had a lot of unnecessary trauma in my life. Most writers have had f’ed up lives. I think that’s what makes their writing compelling. Because of my particular dosage of f’ed-up-ness, I try to dodge confrontation if at all possible, which makes it seem, if you don’t look too closely, that I’m an easy target. Not true. At least, not for long. I have a limit, and if you cross the line I’ve drawn in the sand, then I got nothing for you. But some people can’t let it go–whatever it is–and have tried to back me in a corner or use me. If I ask you to leave me alone, I mean it. If you cross that line, not only will I fight back in real life, I’m sure a character a lot like you will end up tortured, maimed, or even killed in one of my stories.

(5) I can kill people. And get paid for it.

No, I’m not a hit man. But I am known for having my characters die in strange and sometimes frightening ways. I’m pretty sure that I scared some of the people in my writing classes.

For me this is a type of internal release valve. It keeps me from acting on my fantasies of revenge. It keeps me from harming those who have caused me serious injuries. Just like with (4) I can use my imagination mingled with my memories to heal my wounds, sometimes by inflicting imaginary wounds on others.

Have I scared you yet?

(6) I get paid to lie.

I get to make up stories for a living. When I was a kid, way down in South Georgia, accusing someone of telling a story was a nice way of calling them a liar. But now, that’s what I do. I tell stories. Although now, some of my stories are closer to the truth than I’d like. As Stephen King said, “Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”

(7) I get to create my own worlds.
–direct corollary to (6)

Don’t like Seattle, Atlanta, or New York? Doesn’t fit the story? Well then, I can invent my own world/place/city. If it needs to be so different that it won’t even fit on this planet, then I can write science fiction or fantasy. I get to use my creativity to make a world for my use only.

(8) Likewise, I get to create people.
–another direct corollary to (6)

I named this blog Literary.Schizophrenia because I invent people, people who become real in my head after a time. When I first start on a story, I come up with the idea of a character and then I put them in bizarre situations. At that point, I just follow them around to see what they’re going to do. Some are interesting, some not. The interesting ones get to hang around.

(9) Reading novels is considered research.

Good advice from one of my favorite authors:  “Read everything–trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out.” –William Faulkner

(10) Authors are glamorous.

Well, sort of. Authors are interesting and smart and …

Authors can move around easily, much more easily than someone in a soul-sucking, cubicle-squatting, 9-5 job.  And so, authors often tend to end up as the protagonist in novels or movies. Which makes it seem somewhat glamorous to be an author.

Just think of all the movies that feature an author as main character: Wonder Boys, Barton Fink, Misery, The Dark Half, Secret Window, Midnight in Paris, Deconstructing Harry, Finding Forrester, Capote, The Hours, Naked Lunch, Evidence of Blood and a bunch of others. Don’t believe me? Check out Films about Writers at Wikipedia

And apparently authors have all the skills required to be detectives. Jessica Fletcher made Cabot Cove, Maine the murder capital of the world. I still think she was committing all the murders and was smart enough to blame it on someone else.

To say the least, authors are one special group.

And I want to be a member of that group.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Today, I received notice from VikToryArch that I was nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award for my 3 Biggest Reasons It’s Good to be Indie post.




First let me say thank you, VikToryArch.

But with the nomination comes the duty to display the award and pay it forward to fifteen other bloggers whom I admire. I choose not to enforce the chaining part of the requirements on those I nominate. It’s their decision whether to continue the chain. Or not. I’m perfectly happy either way.

This is just my way to say thank you for entertaining me and inspiring me.

So here we go.

These links will take you to sites by friends and authors who inspire me.

Old friends

Lisa Poisso

(my editor and friend)

Scott Wyatt

Martin Hengst

including his latest post:

5 Tips for Success as an Indie Writer

S.A.Molteni’s And So It Begins…

Gisela’s Straightforward Blog

Melissa Bowersock’s Wordlovers

Indies Unlimited

which hosts a ton of authors and great information


Master Koda

And some new friends

Bob Mayer’s Write on the River

JRBarker 101

Books are Delicious!


Often Clueless, Always Shoeless

(stole her idea for character interviews)

Daily (w)rite

Elodie Under Glass 

(not about writing, but great place for writing ideas)

and #16 — yes, I’m cheating — VikToryArch (back’atcha)

Flash.Fiction: Time and Tide

Yes, it’s another Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction contest entry.  It’s unusual for me to do two so close together, but when I looked at the picture, I couldn’t resist.  I’m planning a vacation to an island in the San Juan’s and the picture made me think of what might be while I’m on vacation.

I read through the other entries, and I think I have put a unique spin on the story.

This week’s prompt is:

Photo Copyright K. S. Brooks

That kid in the picture is my little brother, Andy. In 1987, he got carried away by an undertow at this very beach. The authorities never recovered his body.

I took this picture of him yesterday, when he walked up out of the water as if nothing had happened.

And this is my story based on the prompt:

For just a moment I’m sure I’ve lost my mind. The boy, it’s Andy, my twin, but it can’t be Andy. Andy died. When we were kids, Andy died. The undertow took him from us, never to be found again.

I draw near, wary that a grownup approaching a young boy might look suspicious. But I can’t stay away. I have to see this boy. This ghost I’ve just captured on film.

As I suspected, a woman rushes up, grabs the boy’s hand, and asks me what I’m doing. The boy pulls away and runs further up the beach.

“It’s just… He looks like my brother, Andy. When we were kids.”

Never taking her eyes off the boy, the woman must sense my sadness.

“That’s funny.” She smiles, nodding toward the boy. “His name’s Andrew. But we call him Andy. For some reason, his father was adamant he be called Andy, wouldn’t consider anything else.”

“Daddy, Daddy,” the boy shouts holding up a starfish. “Look what I found.”

The father looks up from where he sits on the beach and waves at the boy.

There’s something about the father. I move closer.

The man stands, picks up the boy, and my heart skips a beat. Can it be? My brother, Andy, fully grown, my twin, stands before me. I walk up to him.

Hugging the boy safe, he extends his hand. “Name’s George. Can I help you?”

My mouth drops open. “Were you adopted?”

He frowns. “How’d you know?”