Nervous wasn't the word for this new experience! I even got through a short reading from Once An Outlaw! I think I did all right. If you have comments, don't be shy in letting me know what you think.
Friends look at me like I'm nuts.
"What did you just say, girl? Did I hear you just say something is better than sex?"
"Oh, you poor thing! Why didn't you tell me you were this hard up? I have a cousin-"
Believe me, I'm not hard up. I just would rather do a few things than have sex- sometimes. Sure, sex is great. I mean, we read and write about that more than anything. We all know sex sells and it feels wonderful. Seems to me it's a bit over rated and other sweet things get pushed to the side with little or no recognition. Sometimes, it is refreshing to read a novel or watch a movie with little or no sex. Sometimes, a date goes better without sex. If a lover came up to me right now, and offered me a strawberry parfait or some loving, I'd take the parfait because I don't get a strawberry parfait that often. I can get my lover to lay it on me any ole time.Well, that's not really true. If the lover was Vin Diesel I'd take him of course because I don't believe he wait around for me to let him lay it on me at my convenience.
What's better than a strawberry parfait? Hmm, that's an easy one! A nice long nap in the middle of the afternoon! Heaven. Or holding a sweet little baby while she sleeps. Oh, and a foot massage!
Could I give up sex altogether? Yes! Just tell me I don't have to get in traffic to go to work ever again and magically my every bill is paid. Perfect trade, right there.
I know people will argue and tell me I just haven't had the right kind of sex. Please. I love sex. I also love the other blessings of life to be enjoyed with or without another person. I guess, the same can be said about sex now that I think about it. But anyway, my point is, sex isn't the ultimate pleasure in this world.
Years ago, on Phil Donahue or Opra( I can't remember which, I just know I was in college) A young man was on the panel, he claims he was born without reproductive organs and as a result he had no sexual desires and he was happy. Well, so many of the audience just couldn't believe him. Some got angry and accused him of lying. Though, I was young and virginal, I had normal desires but I was waiting for marriage and if I had to I was willing to remain chaste all my life if my prince never came and stood before me. As I said I was young then. I later learned some sense. However, it wasn't hard for me to believe the young man was happy being a non sexual person. And I still can. I mean, it makes sense after all. No sexy parts, no sexy desires.
I'm not knocking how anyone feels about sex. If it's number one to you, cool baby. Just don't look at me like I'm nuts if I'd sometimes rather take a walk down to the river at night with a date and watch the fireworks than spend all day in bed, or if I write something sweet and romantic, once in a while, instead of hot and steamy. For me, romance works with or without sex in real life as well as in novels.
by Sandra Hall
I don't have to do this, she told herself for the eleventh time since sun up. All I have to do is open that window, step through it, and climb down that big old tree. I can be down the road before anyone can say boo.
"You about ready yet?" It was her grandmother checking on her again. "Venita?"
"Give me a few minutes, all right?" She stared at herself in the full length mirror as she had been doing all morning.
"Girl, I know you're ready..."
"Granny, please. Just give me a break so I can get myself centered."
"Centered? What the hell is that? Look, you got five more minutes, then I'm getting Earl. You hear me? You know nobody ain't playing around here.
"Yeah, I know being sacrificed ain't no game," she said bitterly and let her first angry tear fall down her drawn face.
"Like I said, you got five minutes," Granny yelled through the door, then trudged off swearing to herself.
"Old bitch," Venita grumbled before turning back to her reflection in the tall oval mirror. "All right then, what's it going to be?" She had already packed a bag three weeks ago, just in case. But where could she run to that the family couldn't trace her? Other people had resisted and disappeared. Lancaster had promised to help, but she hadn't seen him in over a month. "I'm not marrying some extraterrestrial, that's for certain." She went to the window and looked down at the lawn. No one was about, except for Purvis. Whether he would bark was anybody's guess for he was as untrustworthy as his masters. If you could say such a dog had a master. "I know that hound will bark. Besides, I might fall and break my neck. Oh man, when did I become so cowardly? Why didn't I just refuse in the first place?"
"Because you were scared like any other seventeen year old girl."
"What... Who is in here?" Venita spun around scanning the room. She knew damn well she had locked the door and she should be alone. Hurriedly, she checked the bathroom. Finding the room empty, she checked the closets and looked under the bed. "I must be cracking up," she said as she sat on the edge of the bed. "Sounded just like somebody was talking to me. It's bad enough having to deal with those aliens without hearing ghost sounds."
"You aren't cracking up."
"Who- where-" Venita's eyes followed the sound of the voice to the mirror. "Oh hell no." She rubbed her eyes, not believing her reflection was still standing in the mirror frowning back at her. She ran to the window and opened it then began to climb out, reaching for the nearest tree limb.
"Get back in here before you kill yourself." She kept reaching out. "I'm not a ghost, just a hologram."
"A hologram from where? What do you want?"
"There isn't time for questions. Get over here if you want our help. I'm only doing this for Lancaster. He seemed to think you are worth the risk."
Seemed to? Did that mean he was dead? "What happened to him?" Venita pulled herself from the window and approached the hologram in her mirror. "I depended on him." He wouldn't turn her over to someone she didn't know she could trust.
"He's with the Elite Force doing battle against the Dukelons. He could be almost anywhere in space."
"Was it his idea to go?"
"He saw his duty, Venita. Do you see yours?"
She looked down at the wedding dress she wore. It once belonged to her mother and Granny before that. But they had chosen their own grooms and didn't have to honeymoon in space.
"If only we had listened when they warned us," she whispered mostly to herself. "But we all thought when they mended the ozone and healed the rain forest that they were a gift from God giving us another chance to do this planet right." Instead they had colonized and used humans to further their scientific research that was always harmful to humans. She looked up at the hologram and asked, "What do I have to do to get out of this mess?"
"Marry the Dukelon."
Marry an alien? Venita had seen what became of humans when they finished using their bodies. "I'm not giving birth to any experiments!" She backed up from the mirror. Was that person really from the Elite, Or just a ploy to lure her into the farce willingly? The Dukelons still wanted humans to believe they were here to help in return for a place to live.
"Do you think I am insane?" No, she wasn't here to help. Lancaster didn't send her such a person.
"If you married one of them they will have to take you to the mother ship."
"Not going to happen."
"So, all you really wanted was to get out of this mess your family bestowed
upon you. You don't care about prosperity, or the future of this planet."
"I do want to help, and I do care. But marrying one of them and going into space isn't helping me. Who is going to help me in space?"
"The Elite is out there. Human and alien. We need people on the inside, and the mother ship is as inside as we can get. A new young bride is the most unlikely to be suspect of anything."
"I don't get it." Venita shook her head. She wasn't a trained spy or soldier. "What the hell can I do?"
"Just get married and go with your husband - and wait."
"For whatever you are instructed to do. Most likely, we will be able to use their own technology against them."
"Yeah, but what about me? I don't want to be stuck out there."
"You won't be the only agent. Elite members are already aboard the mother ship posing as loyal Dukelons."
"And I'm supposed to trust one of them?"
"What choice do we have really, Venita? Unless we commit to all out interstellar war, we have no real hope. No one wants a war, and most humans don't even believe the Dukelons are malevolent. Those of us that are knowledgeable have a duty-"
"Don't say that! We aren't out of options."
"True," the hologram said. "You have no reason or obligation to help the cause. Lancaster simply wanted to rescue you. I on the other hand thought he knew what a brave woman was."
He thought she was brave? And saw her as a woman? All at once her heart felt like it was glowing inside her chest. He wanted to rescue her and meet her in space! I can do it, she thought. "How long will he be out there?"
"As long as he's needed, you know that."
"Do you expect him to return?"
"No, and neither does he. You have to decide what you are going to do. My time here is growing short.
"Venita! Unlock this door, or I'm gonna break it down." It was Uncle Earl as promised. "You hear me?"
"I hear you, you old bastard!"
"I better see you downstairs in two minutes," he threatened then stomped on down the hallway.
"What do they really look like?" Venita faced the mirror again.
"Somewhat humanoid, but from what I've learned you won't have to mate with it. It's done in the labs."
Was that supposed to ease her mind? "If I go, should I hope to return?"
"I wouldn't count on it," the hologram answered bluntly. "Nor would I count on running into Lancaster."
She wasn't counting on anything. Just hoping like hell. "Did he really send you?"
"Yes, he did." Then, "Are you accepting the mission?"
"Just tell me what to do. I'm ready," she said going to the door. If there was just the smallest chance to see him again, she had to take it.
"Just go through with the wedding for now. You'll be contacted aboard the ship. If you are successful the Elite Force will make every effort to rescue you before the ship is destroyed. Do you understand?"
"Yes." She knew he would come, if he could. "Thank you," she said unlocking her bedroom door. Now, there was hope for the world. And just maybe for the chance to see his face again. "Lancaster," she whispered and boldly stepped out into the hallway.
A Fast Pony
by Sandra Hall
It was an insane nightmare. This was not happening to her! She wasn’t lying on the dirt floor of a filthy shack with two chickens that kept pecking at her bloody knees. Soon she’d wake up and her torment would end.
“Oh God,” she cried and tried to pray but the sound of horse snorts and hooves made her body freeze and her heart race in her chest. They were back! She scrambled to her feet ignoring the pain in her knees and feet. They weren’t going to catch her totally dejected and humiliated. She eased down in one of the rickety wooden chairs near the big table, which was the only other piece of furniture.
“Hey,” one of the other girls hissed at her. “Get back on the floor like he said.”
She looked at her swollen bare feet. He’d taken her shoes and stomped them until she cried like a baby begging for mercy. “That maniac,” she mumbled from scabbed lips, and tears spilled down her cheeks.
“Get back down and pretend you are asleep. He won’t bother you if you don’t talk back so much.”
“No, he has to let us go! I’m not living on the floor with chickens.”
“You want to die, Veronica? You want us all to die because you got too much pride to lie on the floor?”
“We aren’t going to die.” She was bound to think of some way out of that sick man’s aberration.
“Look what he did to your legs and feet when you tried to run. He did that so he wouldn’t have to kill you. People who ain’t ready to kill you will do awful things to control you.”
“What?” What did she know about criminals, and what they might do? “You saying give in and do whatever they want?” I was inconceivable! All her life somebody was trying to control her, make her weak. And she’d never given in, at least not fully.
“Well, what you going to do with busted legs? And your feet! Veronica, get back on the floor with the rest of us and keep your mouth shut.”
“Judy-” She turned sharply toward the noise outside the door. Drunken laughter and heavy feet. “God,” she whispered and looked at her dirty and bloodied skirts. She was in no shape to take another beating. Closing her eyes, she slipped her body down to the soiled floor.
The door flung open and two men stumbled in, they both wore six shooters. One pulled Veronica up, lifting her by the waistband of her skirt. “Girl, who busted your mouth?”
“Deke’s been at it again,” the other one snickered.
“When will these girls learn not to piss that fella off?” He laughed then pulled Veronica up against him. “You the one that tried to get away. What’s the matter, you don’t like it here?”
“Get your hands off me,” she said even as her body began to tremble.
“You think you too good to be touched by the likes of me?”
“What?” He slapped her face hard. Veronica screamed and grabbed her inflamed cheek. “What you say to me?”
“Hey, Sam,” his partner cautioned a bit uneasily. “Calm down.”
“You heard what she said, Leroy. How is trash like her too good for me to touch?”
“Maybe you should stop asking girls questions you don’t want the answer to.” Leroy shuffled over to the chair vacated by Veronica and let out a loud breath, stretching out his short thick legs. “You got that bottle on you?”
“What’s that bulge in your coat pocket?” Leroy asked. “I paid for half-”
“Hey!” A strong hard voice boomed into the shack. Sam’s hold on Veronica’s middle tightened, and they both stood frozen as the wide shouldered man stomped inside. He wore chaps with rough work britches. Veronica noticed the spurs on his boots were covered with blood. His eyes went from Veronica to the other three girls sitting on the floor. Only Veronica held his hard gaze. “Well now,” he said. His voice was even. “What do you think you’re up to?”
“I’m not up to anything,” she answered. “They just came in and-”
“She was trying to get out, Dick.” Leroy said. As if he suddenly remembered she was right there, he pushed her roughly away from his body. “Ain’t that right, Sam?”
Sam smiled and didn’t say a word.
“He’s lying!” Veronica shouted. “They came in and he grabbed me and hit me!”
“What!” Dick cast hard eyes on Leroy. On his belt was a bowie knife. His hand moved close to it.
“Dick!” Leroy moved toward the door. “She’s the one grabbed hold of me! Tell him, Sam!”
“Sam, you gonna tell me something or not?” His eyes remained fixed on Leroy. Sam made a short snickering sound. “Girl, did you lie to me?”
“No.” Her blood ran cold in her veins. What would he do to her if he didn’t believe her? “How can I escape when Deke just about crippled me?”
“Of course, you’d try to escape. It’s only natural,” he said.
“But I wasn’t doing anything, I swear.”
“I’m talking about why he had hold of you.” Dick kept his mean gaze on Leroy.
“I was on the floor like you said when they burst in. He snatched me up and hit me.”
“Hit you?” Dick turned from Leroy to study on her. “Where he hit you? “Across my face.”
“Dick, you know me. I been with you for years! How you gonna listen to this slut? She was the one pressing up on me.” Sam began to laugh and got to his feet. “It’s the truth!” Leroy watched Dick’s hand move to the grip of the bowie knife. “Tell him, Sam!”
“You hit her.” Dick stated as if he accepted it as fact. He touched her face with gentle fingers. He acted like he didn’t notice the fear and repulsion rippling through her body. “Is that all he did?” he asked her. “Tell me.”
“Dick! You crazy old fool!” Leroy pulled his gun and fired. Dick drew the knife and advanced on him. Rather than shoot and miss again, Leroy ran toward the door. Dick caught him as he yanked the door open and put him in a belly to back cross face hold. “No! Dick, don’t! Plea-” Dick cut his throat from ear to ear and let him bleed to death on his chest.
“Oh my God,” Judy uttered before she fainted. Her head thumped hard on the floor. The other girls continued to lie still on the floor.
Sam began to laugh again.
Dick let the body fall to the floor and stood back to stare at it. After cursing and spitting on the floor, he dragged it outside. “Sam, get out here and bury this carcass.”
“Get it done now,” Dick said entering the shack again. He had the half bottle Leroy attempted to hide from his partner. He slammed the door shut and locked it after Sam strolled out to do as ordered. He sat at the table and guzzled down the whiskey. He burped then rose from the table. The eyes he cast on Veronica were bright and he was smiling. He walked slowly over to her and took her hand. “Veronica,” he said and dragged her reluctant, cold body to his.
“Oh God,” she choked and felt weak at her sore knees. He held her, supporting her in his arms. Veronica’s heart caught in her chest, and found it difficult to breath. It was just a nightmare, she told herself, and soon she’d wake up.
He’d made her light the first bundle of dynamite with his rifle. He threatened to cut her belly if she refused him again. He sent the rest of the gang to board the derailed train. He stayed back to make sure she appreciated his handy work.
She felt weak at the knees and collapsed. She wanted to puke as she tried to cover her nose against the awful smell of smoke.
“Get up.” He sounded angry. “Get up and watch.”
“No, Dick. I can’t.”
It wasn’t like rustling cattle, or robbing banks. Wrecking a train was too much destruction. There was no way someone wasn’t dead. And if they weren’t dead, Deke and the others were going to kill them for fun. He’d made her a killer. Didn’t matter that she prayed to God. He’d chosen to ignore her and let Dick triumph over her again. She was truly in hell. She sobbed pounding on the rocky hillside which was their vantage point, where she expertly fired his rifle to blow up the tracks. A sharp rock pushed painfully into her knee, somehow that stopped the flow of tears and her mind began to focus. The rest of her life wasn’t going to be dynamite and carnage. She turned her head to look at the old lunatic that was trying to take her life, the precious life her mother had given her.
“What are you crying about? Just a bunch of soldiers. You did good work, sweetheart. I knew you were the one when I first laid eyes on you. But you gotta stop all this weak stuff.”
“You’re the devil,” she told him rising to her feet. He laughed throwing his head back like he always did when she got angry enough to dare call him names. With a rock she clutched hidden in her fist, she hit him in the throat. “Devil!” she screamed bringing her knee up to his crotch. He went down groaning and started making gagging sounds. She went to take his gun but he managed to fight her for it and squeezed off one shot. It was sure to bring at least Deke or John back up the hill. She had to move fast. With her elbow she punched his windpipe, he dropped the gun. He still had the bowie knife and he went for it. She shot him in the chest then ran to the horses. She considered running them all off but thought it might take too long, instead she just rode off maniacally on her pony, her heart pounding in her ears.
She was fleeing for her life, her sanity. She was riding a fast pony right out of hell.
I'm on my third historical western, my fourth supernatural, and my third adult contemporary novel. These are my favorite type of stories so these are what I daydream about and end up putting on paper and eventually I will publish it.
Now, here's my thing right here; do readers have a problem with that? According to some Facebook readers/writers, I need to pick a genre and stick with it. Why? Because they say it is hard to support a self published writer who might only manage to get around to publishing a story in the genre they want to read once a year, if they are lucky. Really? Is it that serious? Do they expect the same of traditional authors? Are these readers really only reading one genre of fiction? Does it make sense to expect a writer to only produce one type of work?
Personally, I'd be bored out of my head reading only about witches and werewolves, because I sure would get tired of only writing about them. So I mix it up a bit for my own enjoyment and creativity. If I don't love it, I can't expect any reader to even like it.
Someone suggested I use a pen name for each genre I wish to dabble my hand. I think that is a bit out there. I love my name and the way it looks on a book cover and I want everyone to know it was Sandra Hall that wrote Fine Lines, and not some made up Ann Marie Banes, whom I'd have to make up a fake author's biography. It was hard enough deciding what to include in my real biography. Don't mention websites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter! I just don't have time for fake stuff. Power to those that do.
I know people hate waiting. I sure hated waiting ten years for Stephen King to finish the Dark Tower series, even though he was continually publishing other stuff that I ran out like a junkie to buy. I still wanted the next Dark Tower novel in my hot, little, shaking hands as soon as possible.
I wish I could please everyone, but before I can please one reader, I have to please myself first with the content I'm putting down on paper or laptop screen. I can't force it out on demand and enjoy the experience. Some writers can, I can't. For me writing is a craft of love and patience. Being self published gives me the freedom to be creative in the way it comes to me. If I'm thinking of demons fighting dragons, I'm going to write about demons fighting dragons.
So, if you prefer my westerns over my supernaturals the best way to get me to get another western out quickly is to let me know how much you like them. Don't threaten to desert me, or make me feel bad, if I don't. Just know I'm trying very hard to get this work done in a timely fashion, genre by genre, just for you, my dear beloved readers.
An independent novelist who lives and writes in her southeast Missouri hometown. She dabbles in historical westerns, paranormal, and adult contemporary love stories.