How Many Sausages Can I Cram into This?

During one of the scenes in A Woman Trapped, Lizzie has an Instacart misfire.

This incident was kinda based on one of my own ordering mishaps. Way back in another lifetime, early April 2020, I downloaded the Instacart app since my regular grocery delivery didn’t have any available slots for weeks.

If you receive my regular newsletter updates, you’ve probably read about my issues ordering things online. It’s never pretty.

The pandemic didn’t cure me of that.

Just like Lizzie, I was quite pleased when I completed the order, and I received the text that it had been received. Within seconds of getting the message, I realized I forgot to order tortilla chips, but I’d gotten an insane amount of salsa. What was I going to do with all the salsa? I needed chips.

There was only one way to fix this problem. Amend my order. So, I did.

The problem was, when I amended the order, I somehow duplicated it. I’m still not entirely sure why this happened, and I haven’t investigated how to prevent it. Now, when I place an order, I don’t amend it at all.

Unlike Lizzie, I don’t live in a house with an extra refrigerator in the basement. When all my food arrived, I had to get quite creative about where to cram everything in the freezer. The dry goods were easier to manage since I have a walk-in pantry, but it still filled up.

Fortunately, I only duplicated one order.

For the rest of the spring and summer, I didn’t have to worry about food at all. And, I got a funny scene for a Lizzie book. As the Better Half just said this morning, every day there’s a possibility for a major mishap you can chuck into a Lizzie story.

I’d like to think I have more finesse than chucking in something, but I couldn’t argue with her point.


Lizzie Petrie doesn’t know how to handle life in the best of times.

When COVID-19 strikes, flipping her entire world upside down, she deals with it in true disastrous Lizzie fashion.

Unbeknownst to Lizzie, her wife invites family to move into their home for the lockdown, making it difficult for Lizzie to find breathing room and to give her brain space to put the pandemic into terms she can understand.

Unfortunately, COVID isn’t the only life-altering situation Lizzie is grappling with.

As she begins to question everything about her life, Lizzie tries to keep her feelings bottled up.

Will being trapped with her family and thoughts break her, or is this the start of a new adventure?

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Are Mohawks Back In Style?

I have terrible hair. It’s super thin and dull brown, although gray is quickly overtaking the brown strands.

I’ve never been able to style my hair the way I want it. Even professionals have tossed their hands up in defeat. Hair model has never been in the cards, and sadly, the older I get, the less likely I’ll have a good hair day ever.

A lot of the time, I don’t even look in the mirror to see what my hair is doing. On many occasions, the Better Half has kindly suggested I put on a hat, knowing whatever disaster is happening on my crown is unfixable.

Sometimes the disasters provide comedy, such as this do:

I mean, how can you not laugh at that?

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The Long Stare

One of the things I love about cats is their attitude.

No one can throw shade as well as a cat. I mean the Better Half does a decent job when she notices another gnome (to understand this, click here to learn about my new hobby), but she needs a lot more practice to master the feline death stare.

If there was a hands-down winner in shade throwing, it’d be Lady Grey, my recently adopted cat.

It’s hard to capture her disdain in a photo, but trust me; when she gives me a certain look, I know she’s saying: I want to speak to your manager on the off chance she doesn’t already know you’re the biggest moron (please don’t tell Lady Grey I spelled this wrong 3 times before spellcheck was able to figure it out) on the planet.

Let’s just say we have an agreement. I do what she wants, and she lets me live, but there are moments I think she’s trying to figure out what spices she’ll use to marinate my body. Will she even wait until my body is cold, or will that ruin the flavor?

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I’ve Picked Up an Odd Hobby During COVID

So, I have a confession. 2020 has done it’s best to stamp out any hint of happiness in my life, and it’s almost been successful.

But I’ve been doing my best to fight the darkness by shrouding myself in silly cartoon shirts and watching a ridiculous amount of Disney movies, considering I’m a middle-aged woman, not a child.

However, I’ve found an odd source of even more happiness.


I should say I know nothing about gnomes. I mean, they could be mythical creatures set out to destroy the earth. That would fit into the whole 2020 theme, and I could be unwittingly contributing to that factor.

Putting this thought aside, I can honestly say, gnomes make me smile. It started with me purchasing one and putting it on the windowsill in my front room, right next to where I sit each night to read and watch telly.

Then I got another one, because I hate for anything to be lonely.

Soon enough, I had a collection.

Then Miranda MacLeod told me she’d gone to Tower Hill, a botanical garden in Central Mass, because they had 300 gnomes hidden in the garden.


As soon as she told me, I knew I would have to go, so I brought it up to the Better Half, who it should be noted has been tolerating my new collection with the same restraint she’s tolerated all my other whimsy during our time together. “Oh, there’s a new gnome on the windowsill.” That’s the extent of her excitement. Or possibly it’s a reprimand. I’m not good at listening to things I don’t want to hear.

However, we’ve been cooped up a lot this year, so she didn’t put up too much of a battle when I said I wanted to go gnome hunting. And, when I wore my Hangin with my Gnomies Xmas sweater, she only gave me an eye roll.

While I didn’t find all 300, because I can’t count higher than twenty, it still was a great day out. Below, you’ll find some photos.

I have no idea what 2021 will bring, but the gnomes in my home are here to stay. They’re gnome-tastic!

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Her Name is What, and How is it Spelled?

There are two facts you should know about me:

  • I have atrocious spelling skills. (This sequence of words took a few attempts before spellcheck could figure out what I was trying to write.)
  • I’m really bad with names.

These two qualities caused me nothing but problems with Dagny, one of the leading characters in my latest, Kismet.

You might be wondering why?

When I was a kid, I loved Scooby-Doo. Hands down the best show. Inspector Gadget is a close second, but Scooby-Doo rocks.

When I was coming up with names for the characters in Kismet, I kept thinking of one of the characters: Daphne.

But I wasn’t entirely sure of her name, and for many years I convinced myself it was Dagny. I have no idea why. Basically, Dagny should really be called Daphne, but by the time I figured out it was wrong, it was way too late in the writing game to alter it without it becoming a bloody nightmare.

You might be wondering how I finally figured this out. I was Skyping with Miranda MacLeod when I hit a difficult plot point. As I was explaining where I was stuck, we got onto Dagny’s name, and I tossed out, “What can I say? I’m that much of a Scooby-Doo fan.”

Now, Miranda is used to my idiocy, but even this stumped her, and I explained, “You know. Not the smart chick but the other one in the show.”

That’s when the lightbulb went off over Miranda’s head, and she said, “You mean Daphne.”

In my defense, I got two of the letters right, which is pretty good for me. Hold on a second… I think I got three of the letters right. Let me compare: Dagny and Daphne. Yep, three letters.

Okay, so that explains the first part of why I struggled with Dagny, but what about the other problem?

I don’t really get names that have a Y, especially when it’s at the end. I love to add an E before the Y. Such as: Dagney. I think I drove my editor bonkers with this particular tick.

It would have been better if I started off with Daphne. No Y at all.

To prove it’s not just this particular name with a Y, here’s another story. I once dated a woman named Kelly. If you’re wondering if I ever misspelled her name, yes, I did. Many times. Oddly, she didn’t find my tick all that cute and laugh it off. Meaning she wasn’t the woman for me. If you can’t find my weirdness funny, then honestly, it’s best for both of us to go our separate ways because there’s no fixing how my brain processes things. Many have tried, but my noggin keeps persevering.

Luckily, not all women have a name that ends with a Y, but remind me sometime to tell you the trouble I have with the name: Lynn. I don’t get it. Not at all. Why the Y instead of an I? My brain just can’t handle it.

What do you do when love strikes at the worst possible moment?

Dagny is convinced she’s about to get engaged while on holiday in England. What she doesn’t expect is getting dumped. To make matters worse, it happens on Christmas Eve.

Allison receives an assignment from her boss that will make Allison’s journalistic career. The investigation will call for one thing: her complete dedication to the story and nothing else.

The two meet on Christmas Eve night, and while Allison is brimming with joy, Dagny wants nothing to do with anyone. However, what’s worse? Being alone on a holiday or spending it with a stranger neither will probably ever see again?

There’s one major problem. They just might be perfect for each other despite the terrible timing.

Is it kismet or a curse?

Best-selling lesbian fiction author TB Markinson has written a heart-warming romance about letting fate take its course to live life to the fullest. Read it today!

Please note: This story started as a 20K novella that was originally published in a limited-time lesfic box set back in the winter of 2018. Some of the elements of the original idea have remained the same, but the project has expanded to over 65K, making it a full-length novel.

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Who do you believe?

I have few needs in life.

I love silly cartoon T-shirts (usually Disney or Peanuts and the occasional funny history quote).

Hot showers every night before bed.

And, to be fed every few hours.

During the summer, I volunteered to help Miranda MacLeod do some research for her latest release, Accidental Honeymoon.

Also, on one of the days we went to a vineyard, we started off at a Shaker village. I know nothing about the Shakers (and I still don’t because no tours were available), but I was lured on the trip because of two things: outdoor time and a picnic lunch.

Miranda agreed to my terms, which I believe were perfectly reasonable.

We arrived at the grounds of the village and wandered around for over an hour, after a drive that lasted well over two hours. Please refer to my third need: to be fed every few hours.

It was a beautiful, albeit warm day. I had water in my backpack, and I assumed Miranda had a snack of some sort in her bag. Alas, when I politely asked for something to eat, she said all the food was in the car.


Now, this is where we remember things differently. I remember saying, in a perfectly calm voice, “Okay, then. Let’s head back to the car and have lunch.”

I mean, who would freak out over something so easily solved. Definitely not me. The only ridiculous thing about me is my fondness for cartoon T-shirts.

So, imagine my surprise when I was beta reading Accidental Honeymoon, and I arrived at a particular scene when Ray has a meltdown because she’s hungry and Miranda had put a note in the margin saying she based it on me.

I did not have a meltdown.

I’m so confident I didn’t that I’m going to hand this over to Miranda to give her side.

Take it away, Miranda.

Have you ever seen a grown woman sit down in the middle of a deserted walking trail and refuse to go on unless she is given an emergency granola bar or beef jerky, stat? If no, please, read on…

The drive from Boston to the Shaker village in New Hampshire is just over an hour (that’s one hour, not two), and like TB, I have certain needs in life, one of which is stopping at Dunkin at the start of a road trip for a fresh cup of dark roast and some Munchkins (donut holes for those who don’t know). Usually, I order 5 of them for 99c. I offered to split them, 3 for TB and 2 for me. Her counter offer was “Buy the box of 50.” So, I did. (TB here to correct the record. I asked for the box of 50, but Miranda refused and would only get 25 of the yummy treats. I’m still angry about that, and she’s absolutely convinced it was the 50-count box, but I would remember that as the best day of my life, so who are you going to believe?)

It should be noted I’m one of those people who forgets to eat when I get busy. If I’m procrastinating and bored, I will raid every cupboard in the house for treats, but if I’m out and about, I can go all day before I realize I missed lunch and it’s time for dinner.

As TB sat on the ground (TB again. I just want to add that I sat on a fallen tree on the ground. I don’t do dirt or grass. I walk on both when out in nature, but I most definitely do not sit on the ground.), claiming she might be on the verge of death, I reminded her of the extra-large party box of Munchkins. I also reminded her the car was only a five-minute walk, and a fully loaded picnic basket was waiting inside. She told me she wasn’t ready to get up because she wasn’t finished being dramatic yet. I may have responded with something like, “Yes, your Highness.”

On the drive back, we stopped at a winery with the intention of getting a flight of wines to taste and something small like a cheese platter or dessert to go with it, seeing as how we’d just had a massive lunch an hour before and really didn’t need much except to do some research.

When we sat down under the huge outdoor tent, TB looked at the menu and listed off an appetizer, a main course, and two desserts with the obvious intention of consuming them all on the spot. I did not argue. I had learned.

To be fair, compared to what happened on the 9-hour drive we made returning from GCLS in Pittsburgh last summer, TB is right. This was not a meltdown. But that’s a story for another day.

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There’s What in New Hampshire?

Those who know me best are aware of two undeniable facts. I can’t do math or find anything on a map.

So, way back in early summer (which feels like decades ago), when Miranda MacLeod asked me to accompany her to a vineyard in New Hampshire, I thought she’d lost her mind. To me, New Hampshire and vineyards don’t exist on the same plane.

During the entire car ride, I was convinced the destination would simply be a wineshop, not an actual place where grapes are grown, picked, and then magically turned into delicious vino.

Utterly convinced.

When we pulled into the parking lot, Miranda pointed to a small fence with scraggly grapevines.

They weren’t convincing. How could anyone get a bottle of wine out of those?

I continued to gloat but did try being a good sport.

At no time did I say, “I told you so, sucker!”

But then Miranda told me to turn around. Low and behold, there were more grapevines. Rows and rows of them. I skirted around a building, and guess what. There were even more.


Instead of apologizing (something I’m loathe to do, even if the need arises more than I’d like), I opted to buy us two flights of wine samples. What else is one supposed to do on a vineyard?

As it turned out, there was a tour of the operation, but the only available time slots were after we polished off the samples, and since I wasn’t the driver, I had a lot more than Miranda.

By the time the tour started, I was tipsy, and instead of concentrating on what the woman said, I kept trying to get a photo of a cute bunny. I never quite managed but not for lack of trying.

Luckily, this research trip was for Accidental Honeymoon, Miranda’s latest release, and I didn’t need to remember any of the details. Sadly, the bunny doesn’t make an appearance in the story. Miranda doesn’t actually remember the critter since she was taking notes like a true professional, not trying to bribe a rabbit with a grape to get one decent photo.

Also, it wasn’t the last vineyard we visited together, because Miranda never holds my idiocy against me.

Sidenote: My skills with wooing a rabbit are right on par with getting a woman’s attention. The bunny sat on its hind quarters, gave me what I’m convinced was the rabbit version of the middle finger, and then ran for the hills.

Back to Accidental Honeymoon, I have to admit Miranda’s book is damn good, and hopefully she’ll still invite me on more research trips. Fingers crossed her next story involves a gin distillery, because this year is driving me to drink.



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Trying to Hold onto a Semblance Normalcy

This has been a weird year, and the news seems to get even more depressing, making it hard to stay sane. Or even semi-sane. Some days, I end up binging on ice cream while watching Disney movies to avoid going over a dark cliff.

In an effort to fight the darkness, I’m trying my best to snag bits and pieces of normalcy where I can.

Lately, on my afternoon walks, I’ve been enjoying the explosion of autumnal colors.

Growing up in California, I really didn’t get to experience seasons. I think I was thirteen the first time I experienced snow. I’d seen movies depicting beautiful New England fall scenes, but it wasn’t really real for me. It was simply something in the movies.

Now I live in New England, and every season, I’m blown away by the transitions. Even winter scenes charm me.

I’ve witnessed a lot of fabulous colors this fall. And, my apologies to my neighbors for snapping photos of their flowers. So far, I haven’t been harassed, but I’ve observed a few quizzical stares, although it’s hard to decipher facial expressions when all I can see are eyes and furrowed brows from well over six feet.

Fingers crossed for an amazing winter, if we make it that long. Whoops, the darkness is back. Time for ice cream and another viewing of Beauty and the Beast.

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Will Ten Cents Land Me in Jail?

If you listen to the Lesbians Who Write podcast, you’ll know I’m truly awful when it comes to math. Side note, when I agreed to cohost with Clare Lydon, I didn’t factor in how many times I’d have to do calculations. I mean, I run an author business, but math…

Anyhoo, back to the story, which is about going to the bank.

I received refunds from my health and dental insurance, and instead of crediting my bank account, each sent me paper checks. They still exist!

Since I don’t receive them very much, I wasn’t sure the best way to deposit them into my account aside from going into the bank. So, after refreshing my memory of where to sign the back of the check and to tally the two numbers on a deposit slip (I used a calculator), I marched off the bank wearing a mask.

Can I just say how weird it is to walk into a bank wearing a mask? Effing weird.

I stated my purpose and slid the papers into the window bucket. (There has be to a better phrase for this.)

The woman looked at me, the checks, and the deposit slip. Then she did something that still blows my mind. She asked me if I’d written eighty-five cents or ninety-five. I admit, I have terrible handwriting, but shouldn’t a bank teller be able to add two amounts on the spot? I couldn’t, hence why I never applied to work at a bank.

Also, I was wearing one of my silly cartoon T-shirts, cargo shorts, and flip-flops. Nothing about my appearance exuded math skills or adult-like qualities. People simply don’t take me seriously, and I’m totally fine with that. I don’t like the pressure. Another reason why I never applied to work at a bank.

I said I think it’s ninety-five, but I wasn’t sure, because I couldn’t remember the total, and my handwriting is truly that bad.

I warned her she shouldn’t trust my math, but she ignored that part and entered the number into her computer.

I couldn’t believe it, and after leaving the bank, I went for my walk. One question kept rolling around in my head: Will there be a warrant for my arrest if I was off by ten cents?

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I’m No Longer in Control of My Life

For well over a year, many of my friends and the better half have encouraged me to adopt a cat. I’m a pet person. Always have been. However, when my cat died in 2018 (after losing my dog in 2016), I said never again.

It hurts saying goodbye, and it’s cruel that their lives are so much shorter than ours.

I got a phone call two weeks ago from a friend with cat news. There was a four-year-old beauty who had been surrendered by her family because of the pandemic and had been in a shelter for months. My friend had just adopted two cats, so she wasn’t an option for saving the cat, but I could.

At first, I said no, but my friend wasn’t easily put off.

Then I remembered when Atticus, a stray, had climbed into my car during a nasty snowstorm. I always felt that he’d chosen me.

And, I kept looking at the photo of the poor kitty in the shelter. I won’t lie; I felt a connection.

After giving it serious thought, I said yes.

So meet Lady Grey!

Lady Grey is a sweetheart, but it’ll take time to earn her complete trust. I don’t know what her life was like before the shelter, but there’s pain in her. I’ll do everything I can to make her happy and feel safe. I even put a fancy cat post together, and even though I rock cargo shorts, I’m not the DIY type. I should say I was supervised because, honestly, this isn’t the time to be rushed to a hospital.

At first her royal highness didn’t want anything to do with the post, but after 48 hours of sniffing it, and then marching off with her tail in the air, Lady Grey has decided it’s her favorite place in the apartment.

She also has a cat couch (which is still in the introductory phase, meaning she sniffs it and then climbs into her perch) because every princess should have her own throne.

I think it’s safe to say I’m smitten.


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