Tag Archives: short stories

Kiss That Frog–I Dare You. No, I Double-Dare You! Review: Oil & Water by Goesta Struve-Dencher

Oil & Water

by Goesta Struve-Dencher
ebook, 74 pages, FREE
Published June 18th 2013 by M/M Romance Group @ goodreads

Oil and Water Cover

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This is the tale of a nerdy young man, Enzo, and a man who would make the Gods proud, Jericho. Enzo lusts after Jericho, who is a straight and mermaid conquering man as any other…straight and mermaid conquering man. They both have special powers which make them extremely special men. There is a description of the story on Goodreads which explains the situation much more succinctly than I can, given my tendency to go on and on and digress.

Commencement of Review-ish Observations and Comments

While I was confused in a few places as to whose mind I was in, I realized that in some ways it didn’t really matter–Enzo and Jericho were experiencing a sense of twinning of identities so they were literally melded together. Those are the places where it’s important to know that it’s Jericho’s mind that is the dominant mind.

The amusing part is that Enzo is presented as the “puppy dog”– a clumsy, get-in-your-way, adorable, ball of wriggling fur (without the fur–no shifters here) with melty chocolate eyes–innocent and adolescent in his fawning over Jericho. His lust for Jericho is obvious. Jericho is, after all, Neptune risen from the sea, strong, bold, and a conqueror of women. It’s that last bit that causes the problem for Enzo.

Just what does define sexuality? Preference of the sex of the object of your desire? Whom one is invariably attracted to? Women, men, both, neither, trans*? That’s vague, but just use however you define your own sexuality in reading that.

Jericho, while exuding masculinity, is a gentle soul with the power to heal through his touch (darn it, Platters, return from whence you came). He is indubitably (uh-oh, watch out, I used an adverb) straight, and finds it difficult to give Enzo his treatments knowing Enzo is very up for them and finds them quite relieving. Jericho is extremely patient with this.

I’m just giving a summary, this isn’t a review. Okay, to get the ball rolling again, Enzo is not quite the innocent he looks to be. Behind those puppy-dog melty browns are the calculating eyes of a Jack Russell Terror (okay, maybe terriers are known more for their tenaciousness than for their intelligence–that works too). Tenacious is actually more apt. In a blissed out moment, Enzo kisses Jericho, and sparks fly. Literally.

Jericho discovers he’s not quite as straight as he thought. At least, in this story, not with Enzo. In seeing Enzo’s true essence, his “Enzo-ness,” Jericho sees himself as well, his sexual identity, and realizes he loves Enzo as well; Jericho’s true essence that Jericho has been unable to see in himself despite his ability to see it in others.

The reference to the frog prince is very clever, reversed to suit the sexuality of the story–taking an old, familiar tale and turning it on its head. Ribbet, indeed.

A kiss still has power, the power to transform, the power to bring to the surface what is hidden. After all, how many fairy tales involve kissing? So go ahead. Next time you see one, kiss that frog.

Frog PrinceImage from: http://fairytalesbytempleton.blogspot.com

Peridot Dragon Garnet eye

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Have no Fear

Keep calm we're all mad I found this in an image search, and I believe it came from a very clever person on tumblr. I have a similar thing as a signature for my email, only it says “Keep Calm and Release the Kraken.” There was a nifty little site that you could make anything up and put your own saying in.

I realized I should really try to put up at least one post a week. Truly, I’m being downright neglectful. And when I came here this evening, I realized I’d never logged out from the last time I was here.

I have been busy writing a short story for the M/M Romance group on Goodreads. It’s roughly 12,800 words, so I did manage to keep it manageable. I’ve finished it, and I should really be editing it right now. I printed out a copy because I was going to be out and about and was going to work on it some then, and this made me think about the difference between editing solely on the computer, which is what I usually do, and actually having a hard copy in front of you. One reason I stopped printing out hard copies was that the manuscripts were so long, sometimes up to 800 pages. That’s a ream and a half of paper and a lot of toner (although my printer is lying to me right now–it keeps saying the toner is low and I just put it in. I’m going to have to take the cartridge out and shake it around some more). I used to buy paper by the case, and having the laser printer does make things faster. It does make me nervous, having lived in two houses built in the 50’s or earlier, where the wiring is a little squiggly, when I turn the printer on and the lights in the house dim for a few seconds. It also sounds like a Cesna getting ready for takeoff, and the clunks it makes are worrisome. I think the third cylinder might be misfiring. Oh, wait. That’s my car. The check engine light came on and sits there and stares at me, demanding to be taken to the garage to be read by the little computerized gizmo. Last time it was the 3rd cylinder misfiring. I don’t know how I remembered that when I can’t remember where I put important paperwork.

But back to the topic of editing. I thought I was doing a good job editing online, and I still think I do, but I think I see things better when they’re printed out, and this is even after reading on my Kindle for months. I’ve transferred the document to my Kindle, actually, and done some editing there through Dropbox. It’s possible when you turn the Kindle on its side so the keys are a little bigger. I’ve written reviews on it before. The story is only 37 pages, so I didn’t feel too badly about printing it out. Possibly the equivalent of our Charlie Brown Christmas tree we had one year. Seriously. We had a road kill tree when I was a teenager one year. It was sort of like a flattish, medium sized frond. My family always did such strange things we were just sort of “OK, this is the tree.” Possibly because when we lived in Costa Rica, there were no evergreens, and my dad built a Christmas tree, sort of fit slot A into slot B, and painted it green. In the shape of Christmas trees you color when you’re in elementary school (see, I didn’t precisely know this, since I was home schooled until 6th grade). Now it all seems very matter of fact that the little swoopy shape of Christmas trees is how they’re supposed to look, but I’ve worked in elementary schools now and seen the pictures on the wall.

Backing away from the subject of trees–actually, one more tree thing. In my last classroom, there was a little first grader who would head immediately into this huge fir that was easily 12′ around. The first time, I started to follow him, then realized that was ridiculous. He is much smaller than me and could just weave around those branches like a squirrel. I’ve had to develop a mom voice over the years, which was hard for me. It worked with varying degrees of success. I said, “[student’s name], you get out of that tree right now!” and he shot out like he’d been catapulted. I was amazed. He always came out when I asked him to. I think he remembered that I’d worked with him for a little while the year before when he was in Kindergarten and he was like a little piece of never ending popcorn–up and down in his seat, literally climbing shelves to get to toys he wanted, at recess throwing himself off the tallest playground toys he could find… He scared me to death (not literally, obviously) as a Kinder, but he was so much better in 1st grade, and all the playground equipment was so much shorter, I just let him drop off of anything but the tallest bars. He would listen when I asked him to be careful. I loved working with him even though he could be so frustrating. We’d be sitting at our desk working and he’d suddenly say, “I just can’t take this anymore!” One day I told him I couldn’t really, either, but we still needed to do the work.

This is a little rambling. I am in a transitioning space. I quit my job because my mental health (hence the above image) was suffering, All this time, while working with individuals with disabilities, moderate to severe, I hadn’t really considered the fact that I do have mental illness and it is considered a disability. That is still sort of sinking in. At work they were treating my symptoms as something they could treat with a “plan of assistance,” which wasn’t possible unless they intended to procure a new brain somewhere, and with my luck, they’d get Abby Normal’s. I was given an unfavorable observation report and the list of the teacher’s complaints, all having to do with my mental conditions, and I just kept thinking, “This is it, I quit.” And I did. That was a Thursday. That night a wrote a very fluffy letter of resignation attempting not to burn any bridges (although truthfully the place I worked for already has steady streams of smoke rising on its own), emailed it to everyone it concerned, and took a hard copy to my supervisor the next day (after my teacher let me leave early–she was surprised I had come in at all. ??). So I’m in the process of going through Vocational Rehabilitation, trying to find and/or get the skills to get a job that is more suited to me, more accommodating to my needs. I still want to work, I just legitimately need something where I’m not around a lot of people and stress, because that’s when the problem starts. I had no problem with the kids, I miss them so much. It was my co-workers, the teacher, and everyone else. They don’t know how to deal with mental illness. They can’t see it, touch it, so for all they know I’m just making it up. It’s a little funny that I was in a job working with students with disabilities, and then I ended up being discriminated against because of my own disability. I’m not going to whine about it. It just makes things different. I’ve been dealing with parts of this for nearly thirty years, it’s just gotten worse as I’ve gotten older (and I thought acting immature would keep it under control). <g> Knowing that I’m eligible for special services (most likely) because of it. It just feels weird. I had a meeting with the Voc Rehab counselor, and some jobs we identified that I could train for were as a proofreader, possibly a low on the rung editor, medical transcription (depending on my typing speed–left hand still a little wonky from elbow injury and those two fingers not working so well–still don’t use pinky to type, but I’ve sort of made up for it–I think I can use it for shift and a. I looked. I can) given that I need to take medical terminology again, or medical billing, and I’ll keep looking to see if I can find more real things, not the “I’ve made $10,000 in a week” sort of stuff. <g>

Anyway, hard copy vs. on a computer. I don’t like entering changes from a paper copy into the computer, which is another reason I like doing the editing directly on the computer. I don’t do the tracking stuff, I just save the previous edit and number the next one sequentially so I have a copy of what it was before the next changes are made. I need to learn the tracking, for Word and Scrivener.

I haven’t written a short story in a while, and I’m pretty happy with this one. I didn’t think I was capable of writing a short story. Frank reminded me that I am supposed to be editing now, not additing. So far all I’ve done is taken things out. That’s good. I hope. Except there are three snakes in it and it sort of wants me want to get a snake. I have issues with the feeding, which will probably be what keeps from from doing it. The species I chose to use was Boa constrictor imperator, and they’re beautiful. Supposed to be pretty friendly if they get the handling they need, which is why they’re popular, and stay fairly small, rarely over 4′ long and about 13 lbs. There’s a part of me that’s always wanted a snake, it was always the feeding thing that got in the way. I had to feed a friend’s snake when he died, while trying to find a new home for him, and that was traumatic on all counts.

Well, gee. I meant to talk more about editing. I did get a copy of The Copyeditor’s Handbook. My dictionary is telling me that Copyeditor’s is spelled wrong. I find that a little funny. The book’s right here. I checked, because I thought that would look really stupid if I made a mistake on the title. Tribbles. The dictionary doesn’t know that one either. Platypus. Ok, it knows platypus, so the world is safe. Of the three, which is the most (or is it more? I’m questioning myself on everything now) important: copyeditors, tribbles, or platypi. Is that the plural? It doesn’t like that. So you can only have one platypus. Some days that’s just the way it goes.

Demotivational Posters

Demotivational Posters

Trouble With Tribbles - Star Trek

Presents–Home Made vs. Manufactured

I’m sure I’m not the only one in this situation–things are a little squished financially. Presents are one of the reasons I start to get uptight about the holidays. I love getting things for people. I also love the lights, and fudge. The music I could do without, but sit me in a window where I could see lots of lights and fudge and I’d be a happy camper (which isn’t really a good term to apply to myself as I don’t like camping). In regards to the religious aspect of the holidays, I’m sort of a scattered agnostic. I was an atheist in high school, so I suppose that means I’ve gotten a little more optimistic. My family has always viewed it as a time to get together and see each other, and presents weren’t always the most important thing.

There’s always that impetus to get something for people, though. My mom and baby sister (I suppose I can’t really call her that any more–despite the fact she was born when I was 23, it’s been awhile. She’ll be able to legally drink next year.) are very craftsy people and make all kinds of things. I started thinking, “What can I do for people that I can do myself?” and came up with the possibly misguided idea of writing stories set in the world of my books. Is this a reasonable idea of a present? I’m only doing it for the people who are familiar with the book, although I will probably have to put brief explanations at the beginning because I’m jumping around in time with them. I had the idea of including the person I was writing it for as a character somehow, even if a minor one. The more I think about it, the stranger it seems.

I have been trying this, and I’m still working on the one for my SO, which has now been in progress for about two weeks, which is quite a while for me. I’m not used to writing short(er) works. It was up to 50 pages, and I finally realized what I was trying to do yesterday–write a chapter instead of a short story. Putting in too much extraneous detail and hints at future things that would take place, or things that took place in the past. Basically, just too much. I suppose this is actually good practice for me to be ruthless. Just stick to what the story needs.

One thing I noticed when posting the first chapter of Aithin, which, granted, is in different format (I’m still working in regular manuscript format on the story), but my chapters have gotten ridiculously longer. That first chapter is 10 pages. Somewhere in the second creature there is a chapter that is 137 pages long. What is the deal with that?

I suppose I should take a brief moment to explain about what happened to the second book. I was going to self-publish that one as well–nearly ready to do it, had the file all ready to go, and suddenly decided I didn’t like the way one of the characters handled a situation in the middle of the book. I thought it was out of character. So I wrote a new middle, and I haven’t been able to finish, over a million (seriously, I’ve been working on this for a year almost full time now) words and thousands of pages later. I’ve thrown out three possible directions it was going, but it took me about ten chapters into them until I decided that.

My conclusion was that there is more than one novel in there, and I just need to find the logical points to split it. Actually finishing it would be a lovely help.

But returning to the topic, I am being selective about who I’m doing this for–hopefully people who will be appreciative of it. I probably shouldn’t even say anything here because they may be some of the few actually reading this.

My question is, is this an adequate gift? I had thought I would be much further along in the process by now, but I’m not used to shorter works, and it’s really throwing me for a loop. Once I made the distinction between story vs. chapter, I think that helped. It just seemed like a neat thing to do at first because it was something I could do myself, but I’m having second thoughts now (possibly because I’ve only managed to edit 50 pages down to 49). I think I’m down to three or four people now to do it for, which means I need to get my act together and get cracking!

Today was one of those weird days where nothing really seems to get done, though. I had Physical Therapy this morning and then went to the library, didn’t get home until a quarter to 1:00, and the next thing I knew, it was almost 3:00, and I hadn’t done anything constructive at all. Hadn’t worked on the story, hadn’t done anything. There were a couple of odd things that happened after I got home, though, one of them being a call from my SO asking me if I could look for his wallet because he couldn’t find it anywhere. So I wandered around the house looking in all the places it might be, outside where his car had been parked, etc. He hadn’t been able to check his car. He works with young adults 18-21 with developmental disabilities, and they are out of the classroom a lot riding the city buses to get around, so he was afraid he’d lost it on one of the buses. He found it in his backpack. I have spelled the plural of bus busses and buses and neither looks right.

This is why when I am working and not pretending to be a writer, I work with elementary age children with disabilities, preferably K-2nd grade. Truthfully, there have been people who, when they find out I write, are very supportive.

I was actually going to attempt a review or two today, but that didn’t work out. I just finished Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare, Hourglass (author escaping me at the moment) and the second book in the Poison Diaries series. I am going to start Across the Great Barrier, the second in Patricia C. Wrede’s series (I’m not sure if I should ever say trilogy anymore), which comes after The Thirteenth Child. Maybe I will try to do that tomorrow before things start to leak out and are gone forever into the crevices of the grey matter in my brain.