Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Strange days - the colors of 2020

September 9, 2020

The year 2020 has brought a lot of changes to everyone. Some changes are ones I never thought to see, but see them I did. I know now that I really don't know what my grandparents endured during the Great Depression, that their stories were actually warnings to me and my cousins, ones we understand and heed so much better now.

One thing I never expected to have happened was for a facemask to become a fashion item, but here I am. I had some bandannas in a variety of colors and I made masks out of them. These days, when I have to leave home, I grab my cell phone and then select what color mask I want to wear with my outfit. Strange days, indeed. 

And the vacillating between do/don't cloth masks work is enough to make a person want to scream. Who's getting close enough to me for it to be an issue? Right. No one. Trust me on this. 

No, my bandana masks have now become a statement. This country girl will show her colors because maybe she's a bandit at heart. I come from a long line of hard-working blue-collar men and women. The colors of 2020 are one way to show my pride in that heritage. 

KC Kendricks

Thursday, September 3, 2020

A small harvest

As I edge closer to retirement, my focus is more and more about what do to fill the hours I used to work outside the home. Writing will certainly be a big part of that, but my writing hat doesn't settle on my head for endless hour after hour after hour at a stretch. I find I can sit at the computer for perhaps an hour, and then I need to move around. I'm sure the fact my muscles stiffen up when I linger in the same spot for a long time is a sign of getting older. I don't like it much, but there it is. 

The "experts" agree that moving more is good for the body. So what is something else I'll do to move around for a few hours a day once I retire from the day job? The quick answer is container gardening. We enjoy fresh produce and growing some of our own will be a worthwhile hobby. Preserving some of it will enable us to eat cleaner, and growing in containers will help us keep the whitetail deer from eating all our hard work. 

This year we tried out a set of 5-gallon grow bags made of a heavy fabric that allows the bags to drain well - almost too well. Keeping the dirt moist enough was an issue during the hottest stretch of the summer. But all-in-all, the bags worked well. We were overrun with cucumbers, and the cherry tomatoes produced at a good pace for fresh eating. The bell peppers were doing great until a young doe got brave and munched the top out of the plants. She didn't get down to the peppers, but she ate off the flowers so those plants were finished. We're working on a better plan to thwart the deer next season.  

Growing up in the country, and watching my mother and grandmother preserve the bounty from the garden taught and prepared me to do this. I don't see it as work, but a connection to those who went before me. I've worked all my life with this as a goal - to one day, very soon now, to truly become the lady of the manor. 

My task for this coming winter is to select a canner for next year and purchase canning jars. Why can instead of freeze? Freezers are dependant on electricity, for one thing. The other is that I feel the freezer is better utilized for meat, baked goods, and prepared meals. 

I'm really looking forward to next summer. "Retirement" no longer means sitting at home drawing a pension, at least not to me. I think an early morning walk with Deuce, a turn at the computer, tending the garden before noon, another stretch at the computer during the heat of the day, evenings on the patio, a final time at the computer after dark will make for many perfect days. It's just the sort of schedule to feed this writer's soul.

KC Kendricks

Monday, August 31, 2020


August 31, 2020

Summer’s end approaches, the poplars are first to know
sending yellow leaves drifting to the green carpet below.
Straight and tall they stand in their silent glory
catching not the ordinary ear or eye
demanding not the saw or splie.

Brittle in every insistent breeze, they do not yield
taking the majestic oak and rustling maple as shields.
Only time forces them to come to ground
by branch and limb, one by one, until weary
they stand, devoid of youth’s greenery.

Autumn’s quick coming is not to be met foolishly,  
this she knows in the unplumbed depths of many sleepless nights. 
The poplar knows not how to bend but she does,  
learning forced upon her in summer and spring,  
lessons taught by those unwary of her flight.

Equal to the stately oak, the poplar stands with grace,         
asked and received, yet hidden from those who cannot see. 
Autumn comes clothed in brilliant shades of joy,     
standing firm, unrelenting in her convictions,           
awake, unafraid, acknowledging winter will come.

KC Kendricks

Saturday, August 22, 2020

It's certainly not linear

August 22, 2020

Our time is linear. No one argues that. What we do with our time seldom is.

For some reason, the origin of which I know not, I always thought writing would be more of a linear process. You get the idea, you plot the story, you write the story, BOOM! Finished book.

Oh, how wrong...

As I put the finishing touches on The Quest, I had an inspiration for an older story I took off the market some time ago. The story is about true shapeshifters, those being the kind that can take on any form they choose, but something didn't resonate. I always thought it was the cover. And in the deep dark of a restless night, it popped into my conscious mind what to do about the cover. 

I wasn't even thinking about that book. I was pondering the ending of The Quest, but later that same day I was revamping a cover. No, it wasn't very linear. 

Nor is it linear that I have words to type for The Quest and I'm blogging instead. Procrastinating? Not really. Living in 2020 means coloring my hair myself. I can type a blog with goop on my hair and call it a good use of twenty minutes. If I tried to write viable prose in that time frame, it wouldn't work. 

No, writing isn't linear. It has smooth curves and sharp turns as it treks through valleys and over mountains. Writing is a reflection of life in all its nonlinear glory. I don't think I've taken enough time to enjoy it in this year of uncertainty, but it's never too late to begin, no matter where nonlinear takes me.

KC Kendricks

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Summer musings - baby, it's hot outside!

July 28, 2020

The stretch of days between the first of July and the middle of August used to be called the "dog days of summer." I suspect the younger crowd has forgotten all about that just as they've conveniently forgotten so many other things that don't fit their climate change narrative. 

The dog days of summer also mark the rising of the dog star, Sirius, in Hellenistic astrology. Hellenistic being what historians usually classify the era from about the first or second century BC to the sixth or seventh century AD. It helps to read books. 

I hear the "news" reporters crying about how it's never been this hot. Really? Temperatures in the low to mid-nineties in July is new? I don't think so, kids. It's the dog days of summer, remember. It's supposed to be hot. And, in case you don't know, locally our hottest day in July happened in 1954 where the mercury reached 105F. 

What? You don't get the mercury reference? Again, read a book. 

This is the time of year when the garden harvest begins. We've been eating a lot of cucumbers this year. I've made a couple of batches of refrigerator pickles and next year plan to can bread and butter pickles. "Old-fashioned" food without chemical preservatives appeals to me. 
I've room for a good-sized garden here on the manor, but there are precautions to be made. We have a lot of deer, rabbit, raccoon, squirrel, and birds around. They can decimate a garden so one must prepare and then be constantly on watch. My solution will be an electrified fence. 

I'm looking forward to growing more of my own veggies. The notion takes me back to my girlhood days and my grandfather's garden. It will keep me connected to him, and that is a good thing. 

I want to keep honeybees, too, but the spousal unit has dug his heels in about that. The battle is not yet truly begun. 

KC Kendricks

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

When the writer needs a talkin' to

July 15, 2020

I'm not sure who uttered the phrase, "the hurrier I go, the behinder I get," but I certainly understand the sentiment. It's what happens when one has "too many irons in the fire."

But enough with old cliches. Writing, being a writer, is filled with time-sucking minutia. Many writers bang out the first draft without ever going back to do any editing or continuity checks. I'm not one of that school. If the story takes a turn on me, I have to go back to the beginning and re-read and double-check everything. To me, it's a good thing. I know the characters and their relationship better, and so can flesh out their encounters. It takes time. 

It also takes time when you suddenly realize the ending you'd envisioned just doesn't work. When that happens, you have to develop a new ending which means another pass or two through the manuscript for continuity. Time, time, time.  Recently I've been thinking back to those years when I could write six books a year. It was easy to do when didn't have to do covers, editing, and promo. Life marches on and change is inevitable. 

I'm impatient. I want to finish The Quest but reworking parts to fit a better ending is a time drain. I only work four days a week now and yet I have less writing time. How is that possible? Oh, yeah... I had an idea for another series of promo cards. I had some outside work to do. I snagged a book and then had to read the entire series. 

What the hell happened to the discipline I used to possess?? It's like the Bad Co. song. It's gone, gone, gone...  

I'm very, very annoyed with myself. I'm not sure how some writers slap themselves back into line, but I need to find something that works on me - fast! 

KC Kendricks

Friday, July 10, 2020

Fledgling red-tailed hawks, three fawns, and cicadas

July 10, 2020
holly tree speckled by young red-tailed hawks

I consider living in rural America to be a blessing. I've always felt that way but the COVID-19 pandemic has brought it home just how huge a blessing living off the beaten path really is. I'm grateful every day to have a beautiful refuge to call "home."

It's summer. More specifically, it is now the dog days of summer, that stretch between July 4 and the middle of August that are historically the hottest days of the year. And it is hot here in western Maryland. We've had a string of days where the mercury has hit 90F. Even in this heat, my little manor is full of life. 

We have three fawns this year! We have a single, and a set of twins. The young doe with the single is a bold creature. She comes right up to the house to much at the hostas planted around the patio. Her trust of humans will no doubt be her downfall. The doe with the twins seems to be more experienced. Her path is a cautious one, sticking quietly to the shadows in the woods, delicately picking her way along the stone fence one wary footfall at a time. 

Then there are the hawks. For the first time since 1981, when I built my house, there is a nesting pair of red-tailed hawks in one of the big maples. I knew they were up there, having seen them coming and going. Not to mention the evidence they left all over one of the holly trees. I thought the holly must have a disease that caused white splotches. Then I looked closer and realized what was really on the leaves came from fifty feet above. I do hope the rain washes all that off. 

There are four young hawks, and they are fledging this week. I've watched them every day as they hop, and flap, from treetop to treetop screeching all the way. Over the course of the week, they've gotten much bolder and I'm sure they'll be gone at any moment.

The season of the lightning bug is almost over, and the season of the cicada is about to begin. This isn't a big year for the cicada but I'm sure we'll have enough to make a joyful noise. Next year is the year for Brood 10, and the sound will be deafening. 

Will we still be dealing with COVID-19 next summer? I fear we may, and if that is the case, I will continue to count my rural blessings. 

KC Kendricks

Saturday, July 4, 2020

July 4, 2020

July 4, 2020

In this oh, so political era, I think we've forgotten how to enjoy the simple things in life. Forget the Dems and Rhinos and concentrate on getting the picture to shift just a wee bit...

What? You can't get it to work, either? I've been trying for years!

At least I'm consistent in what I like. 

Friday, June 5, 2020

Shine A Light revisited

June 5, 2020

Every once in awhile, I go back and re-read one of my early works. Last night, having been brought out of a sound sleep by thunder and lightning, I started to read Shine A Light. The story has held up beautifully, and I'd actually forgotten a few minor details. It was like a visit with an old friend and I'm delighted I took the opportunity to get reacquainted. 

Here's a bit about Shine A Light.


Go ahead and Shine a Light on this sensual and satisfying page turner.  Well written, intriguing characters are the focus.  Van is picking up the pieces, stumbling, in shock from a betrayal he never saw coming and Shane, tender and strong, is the perfect match for Van.  Well-paced, with solid secondary characters and the setting is nicely detailed as well.  Shine a Light has steamy moments – hot enough to fog your glasses - and characters you will care about.  Seriously entertaining and totally engaging. – Joyfully Reviewed


After being viciously outed by his spiteful ex-lover, Van MacKenzie, fallen Hollywood and Broadway star, lands on stage in a small-town community theatre - and in the arms of set designer Shane Hollister. Van knows his attraction to the talented young man could seal the fate of his career, but he can’t resist having a ‘summer thing’ while performing at The Globe. When an act of violence catches them unaware, Van recognizes the message was really meant for him. Walking away from Shane might be the smart thing to do to keep him safe.

Shane Hollister had established himself as a Broadway set designer before his father’s accident forced him to move home to St. Charles. Needing work, Shane accepts a job at The Globe. To his surprise, the small operation equals any big city production. When Donovan “Van” MacKenzie signs on for the new show, Shane grabs the chance to have a summer fling with his big-screen idol, refusing to allow Van’s past to intrude.  

Shane knows he has only one chance to catch a fallen star and keep him for his own. 


Boots in hand, I perched on the edge of the bed to pull them on. A soft tap-tap-tap sounded on the door. My pulse quickened with hope. Who knew I was in this room? Only four people. I knew my agent wouldn’t be out of bed yet, and I doubted Phil or Bob would pay me a private visit. I opened the door. Shane held up two steaming Styrofoam cups. In the morning light, his blue eyes contained symmetrical lines and flecks of a darker gray.


I stepped back and motioned for him to come inside, accepting the cup he held out to me. “Lord, yes. Thank you.” I sniffed the pungent aroma. He’d brought the good stuff.

Shane eased his sexy frame down in the only chair, his gaze taking in the rumpled sheet, complete with a damp spot. His nostrils twitched, and I knew he detected the lingering scent of ejaculate. His gaze flicked to mine. I grinned at him as I reclaimed my spot on the bed. At least he didn’t warn me about ruining my eyesight.

Shane fished a few packets of sugar out of his jacket pocket. I shook my head.

“I like it black.” I peeled the lid off the container and risked a sip. It was still too hot, so I set it on the nightstand and watched him watch me over the rim of his cup.

“I brought coffee, but I’d like to take you to breakfast at the ski lodge, Van. On the expense account, of course.”

“Okay. I do want to check out the place and see if it’s my definition of ‘rustic’ or worse.” I pulled on my right boot and reached for the left. “It might be good if I drop off the signed contract on the way.”

“Phil will be ecstatic. He’s got all your movies on disc. I bet he whined for a week when you moved to live theater.”

I set my left foot down, stomping on the boot heel to settle the fit. “Hollywood doesn’t always appreciate the middle-aged. The writing was on the wall that forty was fatal for my career. At least I saw it coming and made a few plans. Luckily, Broadway thrives on experience.”

My hope that Shane would take the opening to tell me how he landed the Heartland job as a virtual unknown faded as he stood.

“We can drink our coffee in Dad’s truck. Lord knows another spill won’t make any difference on those seats.” He lifted my jacket off the back of the chair and held it for me.

I rolled to my feet and slipped my hands into the sleeves. Shane slid the coat up to my shoulders and let it fall into place. I turned and reached for him, and his arms slid around my waist.

Shane cocked his head and glanced at the bed. “I’m not in any hurry this morning.”

That made me laugh again, which brought another grin to his face. God, I loved the easy way he smiled. I slid my hands up under his jacket, over the warmth of his torso, and asked him the question that had kept me awake long after he left last night.

“So, are we gonna have a summer thing, Shane Hollister?”

Those smoky eyes said yes, and, for the first time in my life, I understood how the moth feels when confronted with a flame.

“We’ll see, just as soon as you get back here to start work.”

I had to return to the city and wrap up a few things. It was going to be a long month, but the get-reacquainted sex would be mind-blowing. I ran my thumb across his lips.

“When I get back, then.”




Barnes and Noble/Nook


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

So Blogger has a new interface

May 27, 2020

I am NOT impressed. 

Underwhelmed, even.

I started Between the Keys in 2008, and a lot of my life is here. 

I guess I'm fucking stuck with it. 

I am NOT impressed. 

Monday, May 11, 2020

Oh, happy day! The Quest

coming soon
May 11, 2020

It's been a rough road to get to today. Today (actually last night) I opened the file on The Quest and began to write. It was as easy as I remember it should be, and the words flowed onto the page.

This past Wednesday, May 6, I sold my mother's house and we went to settlement. The sale was necessary to provide funds for her care. She has Alzheimer's Disease. I will tell you now, most earnestly, take steps NOW to protect your assets. If you don't, a nursing home can strip you bare. My mother will one day be left with nothing and will become dependant on the State of Maryland for her care. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? A will is not enough. But I digress, and that is not what I wanted to blog about right now.

A giant weight has been lifted from me. I've been tending to two houses for the past fifty-one weeks and it has not been easy. Dealing with a realtor - not easy. Strangers walking through the house and leaving a mess I had to clean - not easy. And I've not had help. My partner's health is not robust. 

Some people say there is no excuse for not writing every day. What bullshit. Writing is not a one size fits all endeavor.

Anyway... I'm back to work on the manuscript for The Quest. I had a different plan for this story but could never see the ending. I shelved it over ten years ago and then one day in 2019, my fickle muse played one of her little tricks on me and gave me a new title. I quickly realized my subconscious had resurrected the old story in a new way. I like the new way a lot better. 

I'm going to try to reflect on the last year as a writing sabbatical. I learned a lot about myself and what I want to achieve in the time left to me. I've cared for family and family business, and that is never wasted time. My husband and I have strengthened our bond as we walked through hardship. No, my time away from writing was not wasted. It was simply a different season in my life. 

The Quest is at about half complete. If I remain intentional, if all goes well, it will be only a few weeks until I type The End. We shall see. Life does like to throw curveballs at people.

Stay tuned!

KC Kendricks

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Emotional writer's block, the impact of grief

May 2, 2020

These are strange times we're in which we live. We've temporarily ceded our constitutional rights and civil liberties for the greater good of mankind. 

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has not as yet impacted life on the mountain. My people may not always be conservative voters, but we are conservative thinkers in ways that have nothing to do with politics. We're country people, rural dwellers with close ties to the land. We've conserved our resources and we're having an easier time of it than our city-dwelling neighbors. But that's not what is on my mind this morning. 

Writer's block. It's time to admit I have a case of emotional writer's block, the cause of which I lay at the feet of stress and grief. The last years have not been easy ones. My mother was institutionalized with Alzheimer's Disease, my stepfather died, my partner had two major surgeries, my best friend moved a thousand miles away, my writing partner died, a new CEO where I work caused a lot of upheavals, the uncertainties about retiring, tending to my mother's affairs including selling her home, and now living in a virtual house arrest. I've been trying to sort this all out in my head and it's not going well. 

Do I think my "problems" are unique in this world? No. Of course not. They just happen to be my "problems." Just as with any problem, identifying them sheds light into some murky corners. I believe the underlying reaction to all of this is grief. I grieve. 

I grieve the loss of who my mother was and what, unbeknownst to her, I must do in her name to provide care for her. I grieve the loss of a woman I've known since we were in the third grade together who is busy in a new life that has no place for old friends. I grieve the author friend who spoke the writer's language with me as no one else can. I grieve the loss of a co-worker that I was totally in sync with. I grieve the loss of a future imagined with my partner who through no fault of his own is progressively more disabled. 

Grief weighs me down to the point I have difficulty remembering how joyous it is to create a story. Creating a story is creating a virtual reality in which the writer joins with new friends to give them a world to live in and a voice to speak in that world. The writer becomes part of this creation, at least for a little while. I miss it. 

I'm sure Chris Grover would tell me to channel the grief into a character. Take him down to the depths of hell and then work him back to the surface. To be melodramatic, I'm not sure I want to take myself farther down into the pit. I'm too cowardly to go back there. You see, time does heal many things without the need to resort to substances that alter brain chemistry. I'm healing. 

I'm healing and now I worry I've become too lazy to write. Writing takes discipline and lots of it. Have the last several years stripped me of discipline? Have I become too comfortable living in the worlds others create? I've been supporting a lot of other writers these past months, reading two or even three books a week. 

It's time to redefine my path and rediscover the author part of my soul. It's time to settle the grief, to tuck it away and allow it to unwind and wither. Brave words, to be sure. I hope I can make them my truth because I want to walk in the sunshine again. And if I'm walking alone, I'll just have to create a couple of characters to walk with me. That's what a writer would do. 

KC Kendricks

Friday, April 24, 2020

Just the Rain

April 24, 2020

Just the Rain

Softly it pounds on the roof, just the rain
No discernable pattern to its drumbeat
It’s dark in my room, silent thoughts, only breath
Only wonder that such a thing as rain is real

Spring has come, on its journey to birth summer
Clinging to winter in odd ways, with white flakes
That melt even as they fall into newly green grass
And gives way to the relentless rain outside my window

The world is wet, drinking deep of heaven’s gift
The purple lilac teams with the rain, strange bedfellows
It bends but never breaks, reminding me
Sometimes even a blessing can be a heavy thing to bear

KC Kendricks

Monday, April 13, 2020

That happened a lot faster than I thought it would - Open Roads cover

April 13, 2020

There is a time to procrastinate, and apparently, a time to get the job done. Just yesterday I expressed my dissatisfaction with a new version of the Open Roads cover. Well, it wouldn't let me rest or be productive in other areas. I sat down and revamped it yet again. 

I'm not sure this is a keeper, either. I'm not supposed to say that, you know. Back in the days when I was "coming up" in the various publishing houses, we were told to go promote the hell out of each and every cover. We should gush! 

The problem with that is I'm not a "gusher" unless puppies are involved. 

This cover is better because the words are not up at his face. I've learned another lesson - no more white shirts. It doesn't bother me a bit to acknowledge my Photoshop skills will always be a work in progress. The joy is in the learning and achieving as much as the finished product. 

And that is quite alright with me. 

KC Kendricks

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Open Roads - new cover

April 12, 2020

It's taken a while, but I'm finally settling in to work on doing a few things that have been on my To Do List forever. It's of little importance if I complete the list. Experience has taught me that when one thing gets scratched off, two take its place. It's not a winning proposition. 

I've never been happy with the covers for Open Roads. Even when it was first out through Amber Quill Press I wasn't happy with it. Open Roads was part of a collection from that pub and every single book in the collection had, with the exception of title and author, the exact same cover. I didn't like that. Too many readers saw the cover and ended up buying the wrong book because they didn't read the title. Go figure. 

Yesterday, I played around with Photoshop to create a new cover for Open Roads. I'm still not sold on it. I'm annoyed with myself that I can't seem to get this one "right." If my buddy author Chris Grover was still living, she'd have some good input for me. 

Open Roads is a great story - one of my favorites if the author is allowed to admit she has favorites. I think that's why I'm not happy with the cover. It doesn't capture my connection to the story. 

Being that I do my own covers, I'll keep trying. Maybe not today, though. I've moved in the direction I want to go with it, but I need to study it for a few days. That is one of the perks of being forced by Amazon to go indie. Changing cover and content doesn't require ten emails begging someone else to make changes to the work. I can just do the updates. 

There may be some who would argue I shouldn't change out book covers. I've heard the logic but I don't espouse to it. Just as writer's wisdom says we should write the story we want to read, I think we should have a cover that we want to feel good about. 

It's all a work in progress, much like the author herself. 

KC Kendricks


Tyler Phillips enjoys his small-town life. He’ll never get rich working the family business, but he knows there’s more to a man than the size of his bank account. Easing into mid-life, Tyler’s restless for something he can’t find in the little borough of Easton – male companionship. 

Noel Springs got caught up in the economic downturn. His job gone, and retirement a lot of years in the future, Noel decides to take a long drive and see some of the country before dedicating himself to finding new employment. The open road is just what he needs right now.  

When his car overheats outside the little town of Easton, Noel discovers the local mechanic is hotter than his radiator, and just as eager to blow off some steam.

Available at Amazon, iTunes, B&N/Nook, and Kobo



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