Reginald Swinebottom Presents: “The Tale of the Cowardly Author” (In One Act)

Hello, and welcome to the first edition of “Reginald Swinebottom Presents.” I’m your narrator, Mr. Swinebottom himself. Please no drinks, candies, popcorn, gum or anything else that fills you with empty calories and cavities. Flash photography and cell phones are not permitted during the stage performance. If used, your device will be confiscated and destroyed, along with your arms and legs. Now, please enjoy the show.”


(The red curtain parts. The scene opens to a house, filled with many rooms. The stage lights focus on a simply furnished bedroom on the second floor. A lump underneath the blankets is snoring deeply in rhythm. A black dog wakes and stretches in the corner beside a quaint doggy bed.)

“Once upon a time an author woke up early on a Saturday morning. A certain Labrador Retriever needed to use the great grassy beyond and began vocalizing her needs. The Labrador also desired num nums. Good num nums. Delicious num nums. It was time to put on the slippers and start the day.

“The author found the leash and collar and tiptoed out the front door in her purple slippers, the canine companion trotting closely behind. Anyone passing by would see the author’s darling new owl pajama bottoms and her worn-but-cozy hoodie. A pee and a poo later, the Labrador sprung sprightly back inside the house, ready for her meal. Breakfast was served for both.

“The author, now fed and warm, curled up in her chair. Quiet ebbed and flowed; blood cells danced and swirled inside her veins in bliss. It was peaceful and silent, save for a squeak or two from a dog toy. Maybe she would write. The day was open and hers to explore. All was well.

“And then the doorbell rang.”

Continue reading “Reginald Swinebottom Presents: “The Tale of the Cowardly Author” (In One Act)”

Author Interviews Herself on New Book: Memory Bound (Humor)

Interviewer: “Good afternoon, Arcians! We are excited to have with us today, up and coming indie author A.R. Clayton. Peregrine Arc is her platform and Memory Bound is her first pending publication. Welcome!”

Author: “Thank you. I don’t know what an Arcian is but thank you for having me.”

Interviewer: “It’s something I came up with back stage. Your followers need a name, right?”

Author: “Do they?”

Interviewer: “…Yes. Yes they do. Moving on. First question from our fans. What inspired you to be a writer?”

Author: “I’m still stuck on the Arcian thing. Followers should already have names, unless the hospital forgot to write them in on their birth certificate. Or their parents couldn’t make up their minds. Or maybe they were switched at birth, and their actual name is something horrible, like Swinebottom. Imagine finding that out when you’re twenty. That would be dreadful…”

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Author Talks with her Protagonist: Persistence & Humor

I’m having a hard time wrapping up my final edits on my horror novel, M.B. Finishing a book, I’m finding, is like letting go of a friend. Anne is the name of my protagonist and she’s modeled a bit after me (but not entirely). We’re both intelligent women, both love old houses and each of us have our quirks. And our stubbornness.

I’ve been visiting Anne at her house, dragging my feet around her hallways while she pecks away at her laptop busily. Anne works as a freelance programmer inbetween renovating her house in her semi-retirement. I tend to mope and throw myself across her couch, counters, floors and rugs. I hide behind her long curtains and look out onto her front yard and the tree I placed at the edge, just outside the front row of bushes. Anne ignores my antics politely and reminds me to wipe up my smudge marks I leave on her windows.

Anne’s blunt and direct, like me, but slightly more patient. One of our latest conversations went a bit like this…

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Poison Ivy & Procrastination: Writing Snares

There’s a saying in North America for poison ivy: “Leaves of three, leave it be.” Poison ivy, as the picture shows, has the infamous three leaves on a stem. Many people (but not everyone) are allergic to the oils the leaves produce. Unlucky wayfarers come across the ivy usually in forests, overlooked fence corners or in neglected flower beds.  Rub against the plant’s leaves and the oils will give you a rash, blisters and itchy skin.

Gardeners must cut the ivy carefully, bag it and throw it away. You never burn the ivy–the smoke carries the oils and if you breathe it in, a reaction can happen internally. Clothing and skin must be washed immediately. Then bring on the pink Calamine lotion and prepare for a couple of weeks of healing while dodging inquiring stares. Avoid questions of people asking why exactly you look like a pimply young piglet and smile at the ignorant treating you like a contagious leper.

Crack on.

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Book Update & Thoughts on Bugs Bunny

On this side of the screen, I received my manuscript for M.B. back from my editor. I’m going through it slowly, combing through the suggestions. I’m plastering over plot holes, sanding down sentences, squirting oil into squeaky words and listening to see when the engine hums. M.B. is a horror novel with a sprinkle of mystery. It’s partially a reflection on the world and how vulnerable people tend to be treated (not too great).  M.B. has lots of layers of meaning, some tucked behind dark places. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it.

I’m aiming for an early to mid Fall publication date. It will start as an ebook and then will become available in print later. More on M.B. to come as publication approaches. Continue reading “Book Update & Thoughts on Bugs Bunny”

Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part VI, Conclusion)

It was Dewday, the day before the bee’s extended hibernation. All the year’s filings were done, all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted with beetle ink. Susie’s staff and fellow bees were lining up with quilts and scarves, preparing to help warm the queen through the coming winter months. The grand harvest party was beginning and would end with hibernation. The hive was warm and glowing with hundreds of wax candles. The Bee’s Knees Dance would start later after the parade.

“Susie, aren’t you coming?” a fellow worker bee called out. Her name was Petunia. Petunia was only three weeks old and had a grin the size of a rose on her face.

“I need to finish my reports. You go on ahead,” Susie called from her typewriter, waving an antennae in greeting. “Have fun!”

Susie waited until the hive quieted, the workers all gone from their units. The band started down the hall and a pleasant buzzing began, punctuated with congratulatory speeches from their queen. It had been a good harvest.

Susie rested her head on her arms, waving her antennae in time to the music. She felt peace.

Continue reading “Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part VI, Conclusion)”

Me, The Hose Bin & Writing: The Battle Continues

I have a hose bin. It’s a quaint, pretty thing. It was a requested birthday gift, three years ago, something to help the Saint and I maintain our yard. Think of a beige plastic box with a feeder reel, a rod, a lid and a hand crank lever. You hook up the hose to the back, hook that up to your water spigot, and bam–you have a stored hose. Roll, unroll and off you go.

I used to think these watering hose bins were classy things. Instead of having hoses laying in driveways baking in the sun, or shaded underneath awnings like an idly waiting Boa Constrictor, hoses could be contained and camouflaged in garden beds. No more tripping, more more lugging, no more unsightliness. No longer do I entertain such foolish notions. This summer, as I stood shaded by my Japanese Elm tree, I went to war with the hose bin yet again. And I wondered exactly, just exactly, how many times a hose can get stuck and refuse to come out!

When the Saint came home from work, I merely pointed to the hose bin. By this time it was knocked over, dragged across the landscaping rocks and pinned between the front porch corner and an unlucky Holly bush. In my hands, I grasped about four feet of green rubber hose–a hard sought victory, a well earned prize.

My patience had disappeared.
Continue reading “Me, The Hose Bin & Writing: The Battle Continues”

Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part V)

Susie walked morosely behind the queen, expecting a lecture or two at any moment. Once in awhile, the queen would make an impatient noise and Susie would fly ahead to catch up. After awhile, Susie could no longer stand the silence.

“Are you going to tell me not to work too hard anymore?” Susie guessed, feeling thirsty. “That bees need to work together? That the life of the colony is worth more than the individual? Or that when life gives you lemons, make honey?”

“Heavens, child, what have you been reading? I hate those frou frou sayings,”  the Queen Bee declared, flicking her antennae disdainfully. “They’re anything but helpful. My grandmother had them embroidered on all her pillows. Made me sick. Come along now, you keep dragging behind. We’re nearly there.”

Continue reading “Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part V)”

Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part IV)

Luckily for Susie, honeybees have sturdy, waxy exoskeletons. The golf ball simply went “ping” against Susie’s forehead and bounced harmlessly away, rolling up to an unlucky ant hole. The ants spilled out of the hill, all chattering in a concerned rumble. They lined up and spelled out phrases like “Go away!” and “Scoot!” with organized fervor. Susie rubbed her forehead, feeling a slight pain but nothing serious. She rolled the white ball away from the ant village and continued home. Hopefully the golfer would find the ball later.

Susie continued her amble home, passing a Pollen Run (similar to the human Color Run), and became coated with a thin layer of yellow dust. After awhile, Susie flew up to her honeycomb window, buzzed in and collapsed next to her sleeping aphid.

“Oh, woe is me. I must have a disease unbeknownst to all bees,” Susie moaned, draping an antennae dramatically across her forehead. She sponged herself down with a clover and some dew. “To bee or not to bee, that is the question…”

Continue reading “Fatigue: A Story of Susie Bee (Part IV)”