A Little Strangeness Keeps Life Interesting

payphoneYesterday I was jogging on the peninsula, which is not unusual for me. If you aren’t familiar with Erie, Pennsylvania the Presque Isle peninsula is beautiful. The running trail starts out along the bay and goes around the peninsula onto the lake Erie side. I’m not quite up to jogging the entire trail. (It’s a little over 13 miles…hahahaha…Nope.) At around 2.3 miles the ranger’s station is nestled into the trees near a pond. The station, a squat brown building that the trail loops around, also houses public restrooms. On the front of the building is one of the last remaining pay phones known to man. It should be roped off as an antique. Viewing it is a window into a mysterious past where people actually carried around pocket change.

On this day, while I’m dragging my body around the peninsula with promises of a doughnut if I can just make myself keep going another mile, I hear an odd ringing. An old fashioned ringing.

The pay phone was ringing.

It was like a scene out of The Matrix or a bad horror movie.

I stopped and spun a circle, the feeling of being watched overtaking me. (I may have an overactive imagination. I prefer that to “paranoia”.)

I almost didn’t stop, but my curiosity got the better of me. I approached the phone slowly, sweating, exhausted from my run, the ringing surreal. I stretched out my hand half expecting to have someone jump out and laugh.

Holding my breath I picked up the receiver. Who will be there? Will someone say, “Hello, Brightly.”

I pick up. No voice greets me. “Hello?” I whisper, breathless, heart pounding.

Silence.

My pulse skyrockets. Then, “Hello. This is the $$$$$$ Collections Agency. I’m looking for Enrico *last name totally slaughtered*.”

I laugh fairly obnoxiously. “This is a payphone in the middle of Presque Isle State Park.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“We’ll try again later.” (Clearly not believing me.) The person hangs up.

Points for persistence, I have to say that.

I continued on with my run, but I almost wish I hadn’t answered the phone so I could have pretended that I was in the middle of an espionage movie, starring (Insert Your Favorite Action Star HERE.)

I hope you all have a little weird in your day today, just a little something to keep things interesting.

Happy reading!

Ki

kibrightly


Check out my newest book Trust Trade!

trusttradefs_v1Life hasn’t been good to Jeb Birchman. When he attempted to escape his abusive, zealot father, he found himself on the streets, making a living the only way he knew how, the victim of more violent men—one of whom orchestrates a series of vicious attacks that leave Jeb deaf. Now that he’s aged beyond his latest client’s interest, Jeb knows he needs to escape his risky lifestyle before it’s too late. Seeing one last chance for himself, he earns a GED and enrolls in college.

Freddy Williams enjoys a life that couldn’t be more different from what Jeb has survived. He loves sports, being a personal trainer, and hanging out with friends. The son of deaf parents, Freddy is an outspoken advocate of the Deaf community and works as an interpreter at his college. When he meets Jeb at the bookstore, he’s struck by how attractive he is, and as they get to know each other, he finds Jeb’s good heart just as appealing. By the time he learns of Jeb’s past, it’s only a few steps behind them, and Freddy must make a choice between school and his familiar routine and protecting the man he’s falling in love with.

See a sample of Trust Trade here.

Purchase Links

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

Thanksgiving: Spiced Applesauce

apples

 

 

 

It’s the first day of real snow here, which is always one of my favorite times of the year. I’m that crazy person who actually enjoys getting snowed in, not that five inches of lake effect snow actually stops anyone in Erie, Pennsylvania from getting where they’re going. With the neighbor’s houses all spouting steam or smoke from their chimney’s my little apartment seems extra snug and cozy as I watch the snow stack up on my neighbor’s shingles.

I really have nothing I must be doing today, which is rare.

So, what better time to start in on the Thanksgiving feast preparations? I decided this morning to make my special, spiced apple sauce (it tastes a lot like mulled wine) so it would be ready in plenty of time for Thursday without taking up room on the stove the day of the big event.

I don’t have a set recipe, applesauce is very forgiving by it’s nature, but here’s what I did this year:

Spiced Applesauce by Ki Brightly

Ingredients:

*About 9 big apples–I used a combo of Honey crisp and Northern Spy, but your favorites are fine, so long as they aren’t all tart

*Cinnamon–I used about two tablespoons, but I really like cinnamon. I suggest starting with one tablespoon and then taste testing halfway through. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out.

*Nutmeg–A dash will do you. I used two teaspoons, but as with the cinnamon, you can add one and then taste test halfway through.

*Vanilla–Three tablespoons. I have to say, vanilla is not the place to scrimp. I would use less if you don’t have a real vanilla extract. I usually buy the organics for my extracts simply because they have a cleaner flavor.

*Dried Cranberries–Use your judgment.  I used a handful, but if your family really likes them you could drop in more.

*Raisins–Again, I used a handful. If you like more toss in more, or you can leave them out.

*Cranberry Juice–I used about a cup of Cranberry juice that isn’t a blend, but is straight cranberry juice. I tossed this in because I had it in my fridge, but you could easily make it without, or add in some wine or mead if you have either of those hanging out in your fridge, though I’m not sure how a dry wine would turn out, and as always, don’t cook with a wine you don’t like to drink.

Preparation:

Dice the apples (peel if you like, but you don’t have to), and drop them in the pot. Add enough water into the apples that it almost covers them and the rest of your ingredients. Bring everything to a boil, stirring the entire time, then reduce to a simmer, stirring every fifteen to twenty minutes, and let the applesauce cook until it’s the consistency you like. Some people like it a little chunkier, my family likes it to be really smooth. You may need to add some more water while you’re cooking, so keep an eye on it. If it gets too thick before it’s cooked down to the point you want it to be and you don’t add more water it could start to stick. Mine took about an hour and forty five minutes to cook down. You could probably cook it on a higher temperature and stir it consistently, but I like to putter and do other things while it cooks.

Serving  Suggestions:

This works simply as a side next to the mashed potatoes and turkey, but with the hint of cranberry it can replace the cranberry jelly in the houses where that idea isn’t sacrilege. If you warm the applesauce up it can go on a turkey sandwich as a spread for your day after turkey sandwich splurge. My favorite idea is to warm it up and serve it over vanilla ice cream with a small snifter of apple brandy. Also for the day after Thanksgiving, this applesauce is sweet enough to mix in with some plain yogurt and eat with breakfast for a Thanksgiving inspired yogurt parfait.

Happy Thanksgiving!


 

Check out my book The Shape of Honey!

ShapeofHoney[The]

Available on Amazon , Dreamspinner Press, and other retailers.

Yulian Volkov is an entrepreneur and lone werewolf who hates the city. At a pack meeting, he learns the only member he’s attracted to is being expelled for crimes unspecified. Yulian strikes a deal with the pack leader to allow Rolly Witten to live on his farm and work in his Meadery. Although enjoying handsome Rolly’s company, Yulian must tread carefully, since Rolly doesn’t trust him and the pack doesn’t acknowledge homosexuality exists. Meanwhile, Yulian stealthily courts Rolly by teaching him the value of his wolf side.

Rolly, who’s known he was gay since he was a teen, has accepted a life of solitude—and a life of crime. He has no desire to relocate. Yet Yulian’s trust in his ability to do honest work builds his confidence. As life is settling well for them, Rolly learns a friend from his old pack had a crush on him, and he’s torn between returning his friend’s feelings or pursuing the budding relationship with Yulian. But that’s not their worst problem. Assassins are trying to take out both wolves, and they need to figure out who wants them dead or all the trust and happiness they’re building together won’t matter.

 

 

The World of Candy: Maple Creams

antiquechocolateforblog

I love candy. It’s been a lifelong obsession. I used to work in an ice cream shop in high school and my Grandmother lovingly slaved over cookies and candies every year from October through December so she could inundate the family and all of her friends (and beyond) with holiday delights. She would make gobs, chocolate chips, Hershey kiss cookies, peanut butter cup cookies, gems, ginger snaps, fluff cookies, and easily a hundred others, all rotating each year on her whim. I, of course, was her helper. I helped her make wedding cakes as well.

I think one of my favorite things out of everything she ever made were buckeye balls, which aren’t hard to make and maple creams. I found maple creams, which I think would be a close approximation to Grandma’s, though I would definately take the time to coat them in dark chocolate.

A good maple cream should be an overwhelming, full body experience. You should bite into it and it should almost be too sweet. Your stomach should clench just a little and the cream should melt onto your tongue. You should get a zing from the plume of maple sugars, and then after the sugary punch fades you should get the rich, deep almost floral wave of maple in your palette. In this case if there is chocolate, it should be as dark and unsweetened as possible. Really, the chocolate tempers the harsh sweetness of the cream. With the recipe I’ve selected, I would definitely take the time to melt down some dark chocolate and coat them.

Candy always makes me think about childhood and Grandma.

Flash Fiction! Bugs and Hisses with Dreamspinner Press

Check out a brand new flash fiction over at the Dreamspinner Press Blog. It’s a sweet little Halloween outtake from The Shape of Honey Universe.

Coffee Boys, Cops, and Werewolves, Oh My!\


TheShapeofHoneycoverart

The Shape of Honey is Available for Pre-Order at Dreamspinner Press and Amazon.

Yulian Volkov is an entrepreneur and lone werewolf who hates the city. At a pack meeting, he learns the only member he’s attracted to is being expelled for crimes unspecified. Yulian strikes a deal with the pack leader to allow Rolly Witten to live on his farm and work in his Meadery. Although enjoying handsome Rolly’s company, Yulian must tread carefully, since Rolly doesn’t trust him and the pack doesn’t acknowledge homosexuality exists. Meanwhile, Yulian stealthily courts Rolly by teaching him the value of his wolf side.

Rolly, who’s known he was gay since he was a teen, has accepted a life of solitude—and a life of crime. He has no desire to relocate. Yet Yulian’s trust in his ability to do honest work builds his confidence. As life is settling well for them, Rolly learns a friend from his old pack had a crush on him, and he’s torn between returning his friend’s feelings or pursuing the budding relationship with Yulian. But that’s not their worst problem. Assassins are trying to take out both wolves, and they need to figure out who wants them dead or all the trust and happiness they’re building together won’t matter.

Flash Fiction: Sand Art

flashficsandart

Hello! I have a flash fiction piece over at Lex Chase’s blog today. Check it out.

http://lexchase.com/blog/2015/10/02/flash-fiction-friday-ki-brightly-presents-sand-art/

Flash Fiction Friday–Skipping Stars

Lex Chase was kind enough to invite me back for another Flash Fiction Friday!

http://lexchase.com/blog/2015/07/24/flash-fiction-friday-ki-brightly-with-skipping-stars/

A Kind of Hero-Flash Fiction Piece on Lex Chase’s Blog

Check out my flash fiction piece on Lex Chase’s Blog! The artwork that Lex made to go with my story is beautiful. There’s a lot of talent there.

http://lexchase.com/blog/2015/05/15/flash-fiction-friday-ki-brightly-with-a-kind-of-hero/

Rumi’s Love is Brave

I picked up Rumi’s Little Book of Life. I’ve been finding a lot of poetry in my path lately, and figured it was best not to fight the universe. Rumi was a 13th Century Sufi Mystic, according to the book jacket and Wikipedia, who were happily in agreement. Until today, the most acquaintance I had with his work was the occasional meme on facebook. You know the type I’m talking about: there’s some sort of inspiring natural background-a fly over of the Grand Canyon at sunrise perhaps, and then a poem or pronunciation about life that makes you feel smugly superior for having read it, or maybe completely insignificant. Like this:

rumimemeocean

I was in Barnes and Noble, banished there by my better half to “buy a few books”, which was exceptionally brave of him, when the book beckoned to me from the Eastern Religion section. (As an aside, I browsed the heartbreakingly small LGBT section in the store today as well. There was nothing I hadn’t already read or that caught my eye if I hadn’t. I had to ask someone where it was and snickered when I was directed to it because for years it had been snugged up against the Christian Life section of the store. I’d always thought that was either karmic justice or someone’s idea of a bad joke, and I’m not sure who it was supposed to be on. Either way, someone had finally moved the section.) When I picked it up the very first poem I read talked all about the nature of love, and I knew I would be taking it home with me. As a romance writer, love is my sauce. I get drunk on it, the idea of it, and all the permutations of it. I can’t wait to delve into each poem. I’m also a bit of a history geek, so it turns my crank that this was written in the 1200’s by a Persian. Persia is a rich, exotic place in my mind, though I think Hollywood probably has something to do with that more than my actual history education.

Here’s the poem that convinced me to buy the book:

In love, ask for madness

give up reasoning, give up life

look for dangerous adventures

in deserts filled with blood and fire!

 

That really speaks to love right there. Real, true love should be something you’re willing to break yourself apart and put yourself back together just a little differently for. Love should be something you’re willing to be brave for, put your best foot forward for. Love should make you a better person.

Love should make you brave.

I can’t wait to read the rest of the poems. Maybe Rumi’s “ecstatic” poetry will give me some insight into love I haven’t thought of before.

There’s another poem that made me dance around and grab my significant other and make him read it too, and I know it’s religious poetry, sort of, but I had to share because I loved it so.

One day you will see me sprawled in the tavern

My turban pawned, my prayer rug stained with wine.

Intoxicated with the teasing kiss of my Beloved.

I see his curls dancing on the palm of my hand.

Rested, he is tempting me to stay awake

And feast with him till dawn.

How blessed I am that this charmer entices my spirit away from this world.

Okay. Rumi’s mystical Beloved is a dude. I’m probably going to be happy about that one for days and days, and every time I see one of those memes thereafter.


E-Copy of Threefold Love

Reading: Glitter in the Blood: A Poet’s Manifesto for Better, Braver Writing

“It is a central belief of mine that how you do anything is how you do everything. I think some yogi high on Topanga Canyon oxygen said that to me once. It stuck. It rearranged me.”

Nettifee, Mindy (2014-04-22). Glitter in the Blood: A Poet’s Manifesto for Better, Braver Writing (Kindle Locations 42-44).  . Kindle Edition.

glitterintheblood

Every other week or so I get a bug up my butt and start looking for books to improve my writing. Sometimes I find something I really want to read, and sometimes I don’t. I think this goes hand in hand with my thoughts that there’s always something a person can do better, and there’s absolutely no shame in that. I haven’t gotten too deeply into the book yet, but this quote in the Foreward leapt out at me and rang a gong in my head. Yes, there’s something to the tone of a day and a life. How you do laundry says something about how your entire life is organized, for example. (I throw my socks, unmatched, in a basket, and that’s how a lot of the little details of my day go. They’re just sort of randomly tossed in.) It’s actually something I’ve been meaning to take in hand for a while, but I’ve always lived in organized chaos, though it drives my partner nuts. I’m more functional that way. But am I? I don’t know.

I’ve been promising my partner to give organization a try, so maybe I’ll get some baskets for the junk mail or something. A shoe organizer? Actually go through my mountain of books? I’m thinking he wants something a little deeper though. I think he has his eye on a label maker. The horror.

I’m looking forward to reading this book because I would like to hone my ability to pain vivid pictures with words, and really make my books pop. That’s what my main goal is every day. I want everyone to be able to see in their head what is going on in mine when I’m telling a story.

I’m working on an action scene today, so I’m especially aware of what that means. Usually these sessions break down into stick figure art and graph paper maps.

Well, those are my goals this week: Organize and read this book. Oh, and also write. That’s always on the list too.

Threefold Love-Duncan’s Maple Mustard

I found something from Duncan when I was going through my files. What are some of your favorite recipes? (Click to see full view.)

Duncansmaplemustard

E-book: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6278

Paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6279

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