“Neither man knew it, but it was the only goodbye they would be allowed that day.” (page 142)

Day Ten of the Cock Fight Dailies crests the hill with the sound of a thousand thundering hoof beats… or am I lost in a delusion of grandeur again?

Well, either way, welcome!

Goodbyes. They are many things to a writer.

They are often the lynchpin to a hardy, robust romance.

They are a surefire fix to any dragging storyline.

And they’re usually guaranteed to up a scraggly word count by at least twenty-five percent.

Goodbyes are an author’s finest weapon. The threat of them alone casts an uncertain pallor to every romance, be it historic, contemporary or paranormal. I’ve heard them described once as a guillotine writers force their readers to walk through for the privilege of joining the party.

The blade could fall at any time… and on anyone.

In the best suspenseful yarns of romance, it’s like sitting in the room with a ticking bomb. There’s no nifty timer, however, to tell you when or if it’s ever going to blow. The constant tick-tick-tick may fade into the background behind sexual “Oh!”s and “More!”s, but the tick-tick-tick is still ticking away in the afterglow.

Is it a power trip? Do we feel like the Greek gods of old javelining thunderbolts at our mortal characters at our every whim?

Well, no.

At least, I don’t. Once I’ve spent the time, energy, emotion and imagination to create a character the very last thing I want to do is kill them.

Does that mean I won’t?

Of course I will. The storyline must come first.

But does it mean I won’t miss him or her?

Of course I’ll miss them. I’ll mourn them right alongside my readers. Perhaps, even more since I will know sides to them that the audience has never seen… and now, thanks to me, will never have a hope of seeing.

If the guillotine falls, it always falls for a purpose.

Bottom line to all of today’s rambling?

I much prefer hellos to goodbyes.

Until tomorrow…

Chloe Stowe

 
 
“The anxious yearning for approval in his eyes reminded Mitchell of a cat who’d just dumped a headless squirrel at its master’s feet. Mitchell didn’t know whether to offer Carr a warm bowl of cream or to swat him silly with a broom.” (page 126)

In lieu of a decapitated rodent, I offer you my warm welcome to Day Nine of the -Cock Fight- Dailies. Hello.

Approval. We all want it. Whether it’s from our parents, our peers, our friends or our readers, we all strive for that pat on the head that says “Well done, lass.” (Um, doesn’t everyone’s approving voice in their head sound like an old Scottish grandfather in a kilt with a set of bagpipes on his shoulders… or is it just me?)

Moving on…

Approval is a hard thing to come by. It’s rare. It’s usually precious. And you’d pay a fortune for it on the black market if you ever came across a worthy scrap of it for sale.

But what is it worth really?

A town’s approval of you rarely means nothing unless you’re running for political office or your staring down a lynch mob split fifty-fifty over whether to hang you or not (and in that instance I suggest not standing around waiting for the vote, either.)

A parent’s approval you’ve most likely already got, even if it does take you half a lifetime to realize it.

The approval of friends is often as fickle as the spring wind. Right when you’ve gotten it all figured out which way it’s coming from for you to catch it, it turns on its head and scampers away right out of your reach. You’re not only left empty-handed, you’re left out of breath and usually feeling like a fool. (If you’ve gotten the feeling that we’ve drifted into bitter waters, you just might be right. Let’s say we all move to higher ground, shall we?)

Approval is something we’ve got to earn from ourselves before we can rightfully expect it from anybody else, or so says the wise man.

Me? I’ll offer you a fair trade. I’ll give you mine, if you all give me yours.

And see? Not a squirrel lost his head in the deal.

Until tomorrow…

Chloe Stowe

 
 
“Finally, the honey fell from Mitchell’s thigh, dripping slowly down to the inner curve of Carr’s hip.” (page 121)

Day Eight of the -Cock Fight- Dailies comes bearing honey.

Sweet and sticky with a seductive blond gleam, it slides across skin with a lazy swagger that’s all about sex and all about hunger. What other food stokes the carnal fires as well as the ambrosia brought to fruition by the love of a honeybee?

(Yeah, um, going to get my poetic license pulled for that one, huh?)

To be wordy or to be brief? That is the dilemma.

I hope to God someone has the answer.

I waver. I straddle the fence. One minute I’ll go all Faulkner on you and the next I’m Hemingway-ing you to death.

Which does the wayward reader prefer?

For example, let’s take the classic nursery rhyme about Jack and his girl Jill.

First up, we’ve got the short and sweet tact…

“Jack and Jill went up the hill.”

Mr. Hemingway couldn’t have put it any better than dear old Mother Goose. It’s direct, impactful, allows you, the reader, to fill in the details the way you see it and, most importantly, it tells you what you want to know without having to dig through any frou-frou. A drill sergeant could do no better for his recruits. Yes, sir!

Or…

“Lacing his fingers within hers, Jack with a nervous smile upon his face and a trembling flutter to his heart took Jill up the hill.”

Yes, well, it does seem that sex is indeed “up the hill.” The intent of the characters is laid out plainly in the author’s choice of words. There’s no wishy-washy-ness about it. The reader’s got nothing to do but to grab a condom for Jack on the way up that hill.

Which does the reader prefer?

I write a bunch of different kind of stuff. I’ve had published tons of romance (gen, m/m, paranormal), a spattering of horror and a morsel of literary. My writing style seems to not only follow the genre I’m working in but also the time restraints I’m given.

Surprisingly, I write fastest when I write wordy. Throw a bunch of pretty words at a scene, toss in a little punctuation and stir with a critical eye and you’ve got yourself a paragraph you can work with. With time, you become one of those proverbial grandmothers who stand over the stove, tossing this and that and what-the-hell-ever into the pot without a measuring cup in sight. In the end, however, if the grandmother’s very, very good, the reader can dip his spoon anywhere in her stew and get a taste of something magnificent.

The hardest way to write for me is Hemingway-esque. Short, powerful sentences where the words that aren’t on the page are just as important as the words that are. It’s a chess game where you’ve been given the first move. It’s all on you if you screw it up. Pressure, plain and simple. At least 10 mg of my meds can be blamed on this choice of writing style.

So, what have we learned from this exercise?

Jack and Jill went up a hill.

That’s it. At least until tomorrow…

Chloe Stowe

 
 
“With a slow turn of the knob, Darian peeked out of the slit of an opening. He frowned. “Did they send you to tell me that he was dead, Mr. Christianson?” (page 99)

Welcome one and all to Day Seven of the -Cock Fight- Dailies. We are over halfway there, folks. I hope you’re enjoying this 13 day blog event as much as I am.

Darian, Isadora (whom you have already met in Blog Three), Tahlia, Aldo, Stephanie and Victor… These characters are the supporting cast for my 11th novel Cock Fight.  Not to give too much away, in no particular order in this group of players we have got: a lawyer (with too big of a head), an art dealer (who plays for both sides), a scumbucket (with no style), a mommy (who leaves too soon), another scumbucket (with style out the ying-yang) and a daddy (who may have stayed too long). A pretty colorful cast of characters, huh?

Odd little characters such as these populate all my books. I love crafting all their weird angles, their warts and their beauty marks, their skewed though insightful views.

In a way they are my glass menagerie.

In the Tennessee Williams play (and subsequent movie), Laura is a girl who is crippled a little in both mind and spirit. As her mother longs for a “gentleman caller” to come knocking on their door to sweep her daughter away in love, Laura spends the bulk of her time playing with her collection of tiny glass animals.

While I can thankfully say that I am in a considerably better situation than Laura, I do have a giggle as I think of the odd little men and women that have sprung out of some odd little place in my brain sitting on my bookshelf staring back at me…

And if this whole conversation hasn’t freaked you out at least a little, you are a better soul than me. My meds are calling and I, dear ones, am answering.

Until tomorrow (when I promise not to get as creepy or as oddly literary),

Chloe Stowe

 
 
“Pacing back and forth in front of a spectacularly naked man was another new experience for him. Hell, he was popping cherries all over the damned place.” (page 94)

Welcome to Day Six of the –Cock Fight- Dailies and to the one chapter title I’m just not happy with. There’s no pizzazz to “Morning Delights.” It’s almost mundane. *sighs*

To compensate, how about I throw some kindling on the fire and heat this blog up a couple hundred degrees?

Alright, ladies and gents, let’s put on the potholders and dive into… Chloe Stowe’s Naked Man Facts!

1.) A naked man making me pancakes in the middle of the night can turn me on faster than anything labeled XXX and running on batteries ever could. Even if he’s a lousy cook, cleaning off the batter splattered on his body with my tongue is well worth having to choke down a couple of rubbery hot cakes. Besides, you’ve got to admire a man who puts his “manhood” so close to an open flame just for his woman (or man, whatever the flavor the day may be).

2.) A naked man holding a screwdriver is, for some reason, catastrophically hot. Yes, we’re talking “BOOM!”, folks. A thousand little bits of aroused Chloe is all the poor guy would be left with. (Note to self: Is there such a thing as a hardware fetish? And what is the marketability of such a kink in the publishing world?)

3.) A man who sleeps in the nude will always get a big gold star on his dick from me. Just saying.

4.) A man sunbathing in the nude is just asking to be eaten. He better bring a stack of napkins with him. Things could get messy.

And finally a Chloe Stowe Naked Man Fantasy… Playing the Dukes of Hazzard with my matchbox cars on his ass. Yeehaw!

Ok, silliness is now over. Everybody can return to their normal lives. *grins*

Until tomorrow…

Chloe Stowe

 
 
“All he wanted to do was to make this man, this beautiful soul, crest in uncontrolled ecstasy.” (page 80)

Yes, you read that right. “Arrhichion of Phigalia” is the title of Chapter Four of the upcoming Cock Fight. I bet you’ve never read a blog entitled that before? Either you’re intrigued or you’re reliving school nightmares…

School nightmares.

They are the bane of my existence, the thorn in my every side, and my constant companion for the last sixteen years. I kid you not. Every freaking night they crawl up onto my pillow and bore themselves right into my head.

“Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the school nightmares… err, bed bugs bite.”

I should embroider me a pillow.

I’ve always dreamed. I’ve always remembered my dreams. Before being cold-cocked by my panic disorder, however, I only viewed them as a usually pleasant distraction from the dark. Kind of like television with a really screwy cable plan.

Now, it’s different.

Now, it’s real… or it was real. I get confused sometimes.

There was a lot of crap I went through at school when mental illness first took its hungry little nibbles out of my brain. I had no idea what was going on.

It was like waking up underwater. It’s a whole new reality you’re met with, a reality where there is no obvious up. And breathing like you’ve done your whole life doesn’t work anymore. It just makes you drown faster.

Yeah, it sucked.

But, really, does it have to suck again in 3D and surround sound every single night?

Apparently it does.

I know there must be a reason behind these dreams, a reason God makes me relive my greatest failure again and again.

There has to be.

But I’ll be the first to admit that my faith takes a heck of a beating with this one.

Until tomorrow…

Chloe Stowe

 
 
“He wasn’t Rocky, no matter how many times Aldo played that damned “Eye of the Tiger” song.” (page 54)


Cue the orchestra, Day Four of the -Cock Fight- Dailies is about to begin!

Music.

A theme song.

An original score.

I wonder if we all have one? A unique tune or singular symphony that follows each of us around wherever we go? Maybe it plays on a frequency we haven’t learned to hear yet? What if a strum of a guitar string, the note of a flute or the crash of a cymbal are our auditory fingerprints?

What if that was true?

What would the score to your life be?

Would it be something jazzy, something with a swing to it? Would people walk away from you tapping their toes?

Maybe it would have a twang? A J.D. Sumner singing bass? Or a Jenny Lind singing Soprano?

Is your violin plucked pizzicato, or is it stroked like a lover by its bow?

Is there an oboe?

A chorus?

Is it something long and complicated like Eliot’s “Wasteland” put to song?

Or is it simply a psalm sung by a shepherd a thousand years ago?

What is your score?

What is mine?

Mine would be the song of the tree frogs, the clicks and chirps that promise the storm is over and sanity has returned to the heavens…

Until tomorrow…

Chloe Stowe

 
 
“Back and forth he kicked his loafer clad feet under the table, looking all the world like a boy who’d just gotten out of his cereal box a new riddle to solve.” (page 37)

Day Three of the -Cock Fight- Dailies has arrived on your virtual doorstep. Your day may officially begin now.

After yesterday’s blue crab fiasco which ended with my adopting a crustacean into the Chloe Stowe household, I can confidently guarantee you that little such nonsense will be had today. Whether that’s sighs of regret or thunderous applause that I hear echoing out there in the darkness, I do hope you will allow me this one serious moment.

Isadora.

In Cock Fight, Isadora is a character that we barely get to know. Time on the page, just as it is with time on this earth, however, rarely defines the importance of a person on this world. It is Isadora’s presence as much as it is her absence that fuels this love story.

Isadora is based on a friend of the family who lost her struggle with ALS just this last week. The disease, once it struck, took less than two years to take this bright light to heaven. While none of us probably knew her as well as she deserved, her memory will keep us company for many years to come.

Celebrate the time and the health that you have.

Dance in whatever light you can find.

Touch as many lives as you can.

Make the memory people are left of you a grand one.

The number of pages don’t matter; it is what you write on them that does. Write boldly.

Until tomorrow…

Chloe Stowe

 
 
Leverage.” Mitchell didn’t bother sugarcoating it. “That’s what runs my world. You have got to grab it whenever you’re given the chance.” (page 17)

Welcome to Day Two of the -Cock Fight- Dailies, a hopefully enjoyable way for me to introduce you all to my 11th novel, the love story of an underground cage fighter and the man hired to save him.

The excerpt above is from Chapter One, a jaunty little piece called “Blue Crab and Cold Beer.” Every day of this 13 day event you can expect an excerpt and a chapter title. One or both will then be tied into the accompanying blog.

Now, isn’t that a tidy little morsel of fun for you to enjoy every day?...

Ok, here we go…

(hours pass as I stare blankly at the computer)

Or not…

I’m stuck. Leverage, cold beer or blue crab? What am I supposed to do with that?

In theory, the idea of using the chapter titles and excerpt as a “jumping off point” for the blog is a good idea. But come on! A crustacean? A blue one at that? If I detail my drinking a cold beer while I watch Timothy Hutton steal stuff on TNT can I leave off the funny colored sea creature and call this blog done?

I didn’t think so.

Alright. I’ve got to pick one… And as usual, I will pick the hardest and go for the blue crab.

After an in depth study of the ultimate blue crab website (bluecrab.info… yes, there really is such a place and a fine place it is), I have come up with the perfect way to tie in our little sea critter to today’s blog.

Please see below.   

I proudly introduce to one and all Brewster the Big, Bad Blue Crab, the new mascot to the Words and Madness of Chloe Stowe Blog… (silence)… Come on! Every blog’s got to have a cute little creature to lure the wayward readers its way… (crickets chirp)… It is not a cop out! I can defend myself and Brewster and I will…

First, blue is my favorite color… ok, now that one is a cop out.

Second, since I lost my mind twenty years ago, I no longer eat crab. Seafood is just asking for trouble when you’re convinced even drinking the wrong tap water will surely do you in… yeah, don’t expect me to explain that one. Just consider it an endearing quirk and we’ll all move on, ok?

Third, just like blue crab I am an acquired taste… See? Can’t argue with that one, can you?

So, join me in welcoming Brewster the Big, Bad Blue Crab to our little family! And while Brewster might bite, there will be no biting or chewing or swallowing with contented sighs of him.

Until tomorrow, when I better be getting better key words or we’re scrapping this whole crab tamale…

Chloe Stowe… and Brewster

 
 
“The air was thick with sweat and beer.” (page 1)

Welcome to the -Cock Fight- Dailies, a 13 day blogging event to celebrate the release of my 11th novel, Cock Fight!

For you old hands at this, you’ll notice that I’m trying something a little different this go around. The title of each day’s blog will be one of the chapter titles from the novel. Immediately following is an excerpt from that chapter, a tease as to what you can expect when you pick up Cock Fight. The accompanying blog will somehow incorporate either the excerpt or the title into its daily theme.

I’d love to hear feedback, so please don’t hesitate to comment. I will gladly respond to each one, hopefully honing my response skills to razor sharpness (a skill, I’m sure, will come in handy in case of petulance, plague or other Biblical-sized disasters that might come calling).

Now, let’s get this party started!

Cages have always interested me. I think they interest us all in some manner. I, however, will not attempt to speak for everyone. This is all me, a woman heavily medicated for chronic panic attacks the last 20 years, a woman crazy in love with life in spite of being stuck in the quicksand of mental illness. So, please feel free to color your opinion of me and my thoughts in this light. I don’t mind.

The concept of cages is intriguing. They are meant to keep a person from moving from a spot but not to stop them from moving. Struggle and crawl and claw all you like. There’s no way in hell you’re making it to that door you can see across the room that means freedom. It’s a particular kind of cruel.

I’m sure a lot of my “regulars” know where I’m going with this. Mental illness is a cage. It’s bars of steel around your brain. Worse yet, they’re invisible bars; no one can see them and only you can feel them. Unfortunately, half the time people won’t believe in what they can’t see. Imagine half of the world standing outside your jail cell constantly taunting you to come on outside and play. Some even throw little trinkets of affection at you, promising you more if you’d just slip between those bars.

Yeah, color me bitter. But color me so lightly.

There are so many other crayons, brighter more beautiful crayons coloring my life. Look behind the bars and you’ll see them. Periwinkle, cornflower, copper, magenta, meadow, marigold… they’re all there. Sometimes, you just have to look deep within the cage’s shadows to find them.

I will leave you here for today wishing you cornflower blue skies out your window or between your bars, whichever the case may be.

Until tomorrow…

Chloe Stowe