Tuesday, October 1, 2019

In sequence: 56789

October 1, 2019

I hit another milestone today, or rather my car did. My 2011 Charger, affectionally dubbed Redline, hit the milage mark of 56789. It's a once in the lifetime of an auto event. I pulled over and snapped a quick picture for posterity.

That led to a new problem. There's something weird going on with my cellphone's camera. The focus is going wonky. This is not a good thing. I like my phone. I don't want to spend several hundred dollars on a new one that in all probability I won't like nearly as much. I've had HTC phones for years and I'm not sure what's going on with that company. I'll charge up the old Kodak as long as only the camera feature of the phone is acting up. The spousal unit got a Samsung A10e and he does not like it. He had an HTC before, too. 

Speaking of the spousal unit, he did $3326.00 worth of damage to his pickup. He hit the truck with the tractor. I think he's grounded for a very looooooong time. 

And so it goes, for today.

KC Kendricks

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Chatting at the yard sale

September 8, 2019

Yesterday I joined a few of the cousins in having a yard sale. I didn't have a lot of items to sell, only enough for on one card table, but I set some glassware out and settled back to enjoy the day with family. I made a whopping big $35. Yea, me! We're already talking about doing it again next year. 

Better than the money was the time spent simply being in the presence of people who have shared my life. 

We held the yard sale on my uncle's carport, and we did that for a specific reason. Male cousins One and Two-ish had been tasked with getting a fresh coat of stain on the back deck. They worked while me and female cousins Three and Four-ish chatted. Then cousin Four-ish had to take Unks to a local cat rescue so he could bring home a new furry companion. It was family and it worked out splendidly. (I say cousin-ISH because they are spouses.)

There was talk about our dogs - we are a doggy family and we like it that way. (Unks is up in years so a puppy wasn't a feasible addition to his life.) We talked about cars a bit. We're all motorheads and we like it that way, too. And of course, we laughed about our times growing up together and what we wanted to do when we retired. Strangely enough, while I'm not the youngest, I'll be the last one to fully retire unless my plans change. It made me realize how successful we've all been in our lives and careers. 

And why shouldn't we be? Every one of us sitting on the carport shooting the breeze has been employed somewhere since high school. Each of us found part-time jobs when we were sixteen and we just kept going up. I'm sure it's a combination of the way we were raised and our own internal drives. Each of us blood cousins is an "only child" while our spouses are not. Did that make a difference? We pondered these things. 

It feels like I'm entering a new and exciting phase in my life. I have more time now, working a four-day week, to manage responsibilities and have hours and energy left to see more of my cousins. I can only hope I don't drive them crazy. I don't think I will. I think they're just as happy as I am that we still enjoy each other's company as much, if not more than we did fifty years ago. It just feels good.

KC Kendricks

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

I and I

August 27, 2019

A byproduct of settling my stepfather's estate on top of the spousal unit's two surgeries has yielded an unexpected bonus. I've done more reading for pleasure this year than in the last several years combined. It's tough being a writer and reading another author's work. One finds a lot of little "mistakes" one never would have noticed before. Mostly it's dropped words which means I'm in very, yes very, good company. It seems we ALL do it from time-to-time. 

Recently I read a boxed set of six stories all set in the same town. The series was patterned much like my Men of Marionville series with subsequent couples being friends or family of the original pairing. I'd name it and the author except for one thing I found difficult in the reading. The author wrote each chapter in the first-person (I'm a big fan of first-person) but she/he flipped-flopped on the point of view. I was constantly scrolling back to see who "I" was. In a six-book box set, there were twelve "I's" telling the story. 

The stories were good, though. I liked the characters, the "black moments" they overcame, and the happy endings. It was just difficult to keep the POV straight. 

Does this matter in the overall scheme of things? I'm not sure. I'm not going to ask for a refund. At a going price of $1.99, I know the author isn't getting much of a return. I'm more than willing to support her. I'll even buy more of her books. 

I suppose I'm putting this out into the universe as food for thought for any writers considering going the "I and I" route. When writing in this style, use enough proper names to keep the reader in the correct POV. Balance using he, him, or his with enough information to show us exactly who "he" is. 

Writing in the first-person isn't something I would ever discourage an author to avoid. As I said, I like first-person. I write in it about seventy-five percent of the time, especially since as KC Kendricks, my main characters are both males. 

So remember a lot of your readers are reading late at night. Some of us are at the age where we read in the middle of those sleepless nights. Do what you can to keep us from being confused. As a reader, I'll certainly appreciate it. 

As a fellow writer, it's a lesson learned. 

KC Kendricks

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Association of American Publishers sues Audible

August 24, 2019

I subscribe to a daily news brief called Publisher's Lunch. Every day I get a few industry tidbits to help stay engaged with parts of my profession. Yesterday, they emailed a "deluxe" edition with the news the Association of American Publishers has decided to sue Audible for plans to include TEXT in audiobooks. Audible is calling it "captions," but the end result is the same - they will show text. 

There's no doubt in my mind this would be a violation of MY copyright. I didn't jump on the Audible bandwagon and now I'm glad I didn't. There is enough of my intellectual property stolen every day. Why should I willingly give up more?

Taking any copyrighted material and repurposing it for the benefit of Audible or any other company - without the author's permission - is theft. According to Publisher's Lunch, it would create a derivative of the Work. I certainly agree. 

Audible's plan could potentially cut the publisher out of the business model, which would in effect cut off the author from additional royalties. For many, many, many authors, the publisher is still their financial lifeline. 

As always, it's the author who will be forced to accept and endure someone else making all the money on their hard work. 

Maybe it's not too surprising so many talented voices have gone silent. 

KC Kendricks

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Coffee at night

August 10, 2019

My project of the summer became clearing out my mother and late stepfather's house. Jack used to say he didn't know how I would ever manage to dispose of their worldly possessions. Knowing he had a propensity to never remove anything from his house hasn't made my job easier. It's taken months, but the end is in sight. Relatives of ours descended last evening and this morning, and large pieces of furniture were loaded onto pickups and driven away to new homes. 

It gets better. 

My sister-in-law showed up with her sister-in-law's cousin. He's looking for a house and, if the price is right, he's very interested in my mother's place. I've explained to him my Power of Attorney to handle my mother's affairs includes a fiduciary responsibility to her. I can't simply sell the house at a loss. The money from the sale will be used for her care. He understands this. I understand the house needs new shingles. I'm sure we can work a deal, especially if we don't have to pay realtor fees. My first call on Monday will be to an appraiser, something I need to do, anyway. 

Dismantling my mother's home is bittersweet. I have the memories of how happy she was living there while her memories of it are gone. Her dishes, clothes, knick-knacks - all that she loved is forgotten. But I remember. 

My mother loved swans and had quite the collection. She talked about growing up once, telling me how she never felt pretty as a girl. I have a photo of her in her wedding dress, when she was eighteen and about to marry my dad. She was beautiful. And somewhere in the course of her life, she felt an affinity to the swan, which starts life plain and matures into magnificence. Knowing this, it's very difficult to keep any of the swans. I've always thought my mom was lovely. It's painful to know she ever felt otherwise. 

Sitting in her empty house this afternoon, hoping I have a buyer, it occurred to me that very soon I may lose those rooms and another link to her. The woman who was my mother has been stolen from me. I visit the woman who remains and I miss my mother. 

Deuce and I sat outside on our little porch as evening turned to night. It's August now and the worst of the humidity is over for this year. I fixed a cup of coffee, something I almost never do in the evening, and my companion and I watched the deer creep into the front yard to graze. The few remaining lightning bugs twinkled here and there, and off in the distance, an owl asked the perennial question, "who?who?"

Who, indeed, will I be when this season is over? 

KC Kendricks

Thursday, August 1, 2019


August 1, 2019

If you follow along here at Between the Keys, you know I have a sort of love affair with the numbers on the odometer. On the way home last night, Redline, my car, hit the number 55555. You know I had to pull over and take a quick picture. 

And you know I just had to share!

What's next? 56789 if I can catch it.

And yes. My car has a name. 


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Another productive three-day

July 30, 2019

My third Monday off is history, and I'm pleasantly tired. I dropped back to a four-day workweek so I could have more time at home and do those many things I've neglected for years. My dream for all of my adult life has been to be The Lady of the Manor. 

It's not that working a full-time job has hurt me any. It's enriched my life with people and experiences. But in my soul, I belong happily ensconced on my three-acre "manor." 

There's always something to do at the manor. This weekend just past, we got quite a bit accomplished. (I'm grateful the spousal unit is doing well enough to participate. He's savvy with the knowledge of how to manipulate tools to do the work and get things done without the need to use brute strength. That's a good thing.) 
  • writing time
  • blogged
  • read a short story
  • a load of laundry
  • dinner on the patio
  • got the deck back on the Craftsman mower
  • cleaned up a small pile of sticks along the driveway
  • cut up and moved a fallen dead locust tree
  • burned the parts of that tree not suitable for the woodstove
  • cut down a damaged maple tree and burned parts not suitable for woodstove
  • Yellow Jacket nest removal
  • a trip to Lowe's
  • a trip through the grocery store
  • partial cleaning of the shed and trip to the landfill
  • mowed the lawn
  • watched the NASCAR race
  • installed new chair carrier on pickup
  • assembled new portable scooter

I'm sure there are a few more things that could go on the list but that's plenty. The point is I happily did or helped to do, all those things. They were the sort of things The Lady of the Manor would do to keep her small estate running smoothly. 

I should have started the three-day weekends much sooner.

KC Kendricks

Sunday, July 28, 2019

September Morning and Please Use the Door

July 28, 2019

There are ghosts, and then there are ghosts. Perhaps it's the times I grew up in, but few paranormal entities are as interesting as ghosts. 

I know, I know. Wolf shifters, the modern-day werewolf. I like 'em, too. They're a lot of fun. But a ghost is a lot more personal. Ghosts choose whom they wish to reveal themselves to. Depending on the spirit and its intent, it could be an honor. 

September Morning deals with the memory of a loved one. Michael is ever-present in JD's heart and thoughts until he meets Nate. JD has to grapple with his ghost in the form of those memories. Letting go of Micheal feels like betraying his memory. Finding love again is easier than embracing that love. 
Please Use the Door is a more straight-forward ghost story. Tanner buys his first house and guess what? It's already occupied - by its original inhabitant. Bodhi's tragic death at the house trapped his spirit there. He's friendly enough, and a bit of a voyeur. He wants to get "friendly" with Tanner, but Tanner is in love with his boss, Alex, and that relationship is just heating up. 

September Morning and Please Use the Door are the most recent of my published works that I've updated. My goal is to work my way through my entire catalog and add those things I wished I had but didn't. I'm sure every author finishes a story and somewhere down the road says, "Damn! I should have said that!" So I am. 

It's been fun revisiting the characters of JD, Nate, Tanner, Alex, and Bodhi. Two very different styles of ghost stories. As a result of recent updates, both books have a temporary price reduction at Amazon through September of 2019. I hope you'll give them a try.



Tanner Reddick learned the hard way a man needs his own place to call home – one that is legally his. The last guy set his belongings on the curb and Tanner vows it will never happen again. It’s time for him to be in charge. Embarking on the next phase of his life, Tanner buys a fixer-upper bungalow and gets to work. He’s looking forward to living on his own for a while. His interest in his boss, Alex Crewes, could change that.

It’s moving day and Tanner notices a few things about the house, things his friends disavow knowledge of. The porch is swept and the breakers on. Then Tanner smells a hint of Bay Rum cologne, which no one he knows uses. When unseen hands paint a few rooms in the house, he has to face the facts - he’s not really alone.

Bodhi introduces himself and welcomes the newest resident in the house he built a century ago. This one Bodhi likes, and he’s determined he and Tanner will coexist in harmony. Maybe they can even be friends. And if he’s lucky, maybe a little more – unless Tanner’s deepening relationship with Alex throws a wrench into his plans.  

Barnes & Noble: 



Jagger Davis, JD to his friends, is at a crossroads in his life. He takes a summer sabbatical at picturesque Sandbridge Beach in Virginia to enjoy sun, surf, and solitude while plotting a new direction for his life. Arriving at a rented cottage, JD finds sun and surf, but the cottage next-door houses six fun-loving guys determined to include him in their summer activities. It’s quickly evident JD won’t have time to feel lonely.

Nate Fischer is one of a group of friends who spend every summer at Sandbridge. An IT specialist, Nate’s taking a few weeks off before his next assignment sends him out to sea for months. He introduces himself to the new neighbor and invites JD to the first bonfire of the season.

JD fends off advances from Nate’s roommates as the two men become close. But JD harbors a secret in his past, one he worries Nate won’t accept. When Nate’s job abruptly calls him away, JD realizes his mistake. He hasn’t given his summer lover a fair chance. Now he has to convince Nate he’ll be waiting when Nate returns - if Nate still wants him. 

KC Kendricks

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Saturday, July 20, 2019

The first week success, Kentucky 98 Proof, and Hot August Comes

July 20, 2019

This past Monday marked the beginning of my sojourn into "retirement." Having a three-day weekend every week should be helpful to me on many levels. I won't be as bored at the day job and I'll have more time to tend to things at home. It's win-win except for the reduction in income, but it's an imperfect world. I've never spent up to my income so the only impact is going to be on the amount I put into savings. It's fine. Money can be replaced, but time can't. 

And while one item on the master to-do list was accomplished last Monday, it convinced me I need a better format for the aforementioned list. Having Cousin Dave cut down a dead tree was fine, but it wasn't a priority for a hot July day. He just happened to be out and about and willing, and I'd have been stupid to turn down free help. 

Having "extra" time led back to the Grammarly project. So
far this week I've worked through Hot August Comes and Kentucky 98 Proof, and got both of the updated books uploaded. I think that's a pretty good achievement for week one. 

Working through Highway Nights, Hot August Comes, and Kentucky 98 Proof has given me an itch to really dig in and get back to work. I also went to Amazon and reduced the price on all three to $.99. This will only be for a limited time, so watch for the price change to go live and get your copies before the price goes back to the regular $1.99. That's only at Amazon and only for a couple of weeks. 

I also loaded the restored cover for Hot August Comes. Sometimes playing with Photoshop gets me into trouble, and this cover has always been a struggle to get right. Second-guessing myself didn't help. 

All-in-all, good progress for the first week of my new schedule. 


Monday, July 15, 2019

Highway Nights and balancing life

July 15, 2019

Today celebrates the first day of my new schedule. I finally bit the bullet, so to speak, and approached my employer about dropping back to a four-day work week. It seems I'm the sort who needs to ease into retirement instead of going cold turkey. 

I'm very much looking forward to picking up the writing. Cleaning out my stepfather's house and preparing it to be sold has taken a lot of time but that's winding down. The spousal unit is seven weeks past the last surgery and just yesterday resumed driving. (Maybe today I can get him on the lawnmower!) Yes, it's time to ease back into writing. 

To that end, I set a goal to run Highway Nights through an online editor. Grammarly found over four-hundred items for me to review. Four hundred. And this is after two editors at a now-defunct publisher "edited" it. 

Most of the items found had to do with comma placement. Yes, the lowly comma can bring you down, but remember that sometimes it matters and sometimes it doesn't. Case in point - "Let eat Grandpa" as opposed to "Let's eat, Grandpa." Grammarly also likes the Oxford comma and I added a few of those. Beyond the comma, the software found six or seven missed words (a, it, to, do, the), and only two misspelled words. Most annoying word - it flagged "diner" every time and suggested "dinner." So all-in-all, it wasn't too very bad an exercise. Strangely enough, it's more educational than working with a person, at least for me. 

While uploading the updated manuscript, I discovered I'd never uploaded the new cover I made back in September. Have I mentioned I've been busy with caring for family??? Anyway, the newest cover and the book are now up, and I'm moving on to the next project as soon as I take a moment to enjoy my first Monday off to watch the sun come over the mountain from the vantage point of my newly screened-in patio. It's all about balance, isn't it? 



Contemporary gay romance/suspense

Garrett Webb has a five-point plan for starting his own business. To keep it on track, he takes a second job and settles into the evening delivery run between Owensville and Mt. Franklin. The solitude of being on the road clears his head and enables him to chart a better future for himself. When a foggy night sends him to the safety of The Downshift Diner and its owner, Oliver Sanderson, that future takes an unforeseen turn.

Oliver Sanderson enjoys a quiet life along the lonely stretch of highway that’s home to his diner. The road brings all manner of interesting souls to his door. When Garrett Webb steps out of the fog seeking shelter, his openness and honesty draw Oliver’s interest. He’s ready to take the next step but needs to be cautious. Trouble is coming to the diner, and Oliver wants Garrett clear of it.  

Good intentions can’t hold out against their budding attraction. Garrett makes the diner a regular stop during his nightly run, and the men get better acquainted. But Garrett’s past isn’t done with him. In a single heart-stopping moment, Garrett is forced to a decision that risks Oliver’s life – one that could forever end their highway nights.


Oliver grinned and stopped in front of him.

“Happy to see me?”

Garrett glanced down. “As happy as you appear to be. Can a guy get a soda to go in this joint?”

Oliver shook his head. “I’ve better at the house. Let me tell Shirl and Billy not to call me unless it’s an emergency.” He disappeared into the kitchen, and sauntered back out in less than thirty seconds. Oliver motioned at the front entrance. “Let’s go.”

Garrett turned and held the door open for Oliver. “What constitutes an emergency?”

“Someone is bleeding, choking, or keels over all the way to the floor.” He placed his hand on the small of Garrett’s back and guided him around the corner of the building.

Garrett leaned closer to the warmth of Oliver’s body. “Not fire?”

“That’s what the firemen are for. Call ‘em. Besides, I like firemen. Don’t you?”

“Sure. Big, burly men turn me on.” Garrett stroked Oliver’s well-formed bicep. Oliver laughed softly and backed Garrett against the rear wall of the diner, out of sight from the clientele and staff.

“To each, their own.”

Garrett grasped Oliver’s hips and yanked him against him. He held him there and soaked up the heat from Oliver’s body. The corner of his mouth quirked in a small smile.

“So, am I going to have to beg you to kiss me again?”

Oliver ran his thumb over Garrett’s lower lip. He swallowed, the muscles in his throat moving. “Garrett. Be sure you want this. Don’t lead me on then tell me to stop.”

“I came for this, Oliver.”

Something dark and unsettled sparked in Oliver’s eyes. “Don’t get too attached to me, either, boy.”

“I’m horny. I want to fuck you, not marry you.”

Oliver leaned in, his breath warm on Garrett’s moist lips. In the back of his mind, Garrett registered surprise at Oliver’s reticence but he’d ponder it later. He shifted forward and touched his lips to Oliver’s.

Need burst through him, a siren song in his blood that built as Oliver’s tongue licked into his in a bold stroke. The larger man pressed his body to the sun-warmed bricks, pinning him, his pelvis grinding against Garrett’s in a mock taking. Garrett thrust his tongue into the heat of Oliver’s mouth. Back and forth they tested, well matched, as the world spun behind his closed eyes. Suddenly breathless, Garrett tore his lips from Oliver’s. Oliver rested his forehead to his, breathing hard.

“You should go home, Garrett.”

“I don’t think so. Why are you afraid of me?” He ran his fingers through Oliver’s short hair.

Oliver brushed a kiss to his lips. “I’m too old for someone in his twenties, Garrett.”

“I’m going to surprise you. I’m thirty-two.” He laughed as the man’s eyebrows shot up. “Told you I was older than I look.”

Oliver’s eyes darkened. “I can’t tell you how relieved I am, but I still feel like a dirty old pervert chasing chickens.” He levered off the wall, grabbed Garrett’s hand, and pulled him along the flagstone path to the bungalow-style house.

Garrett fell into step beside him and slipped their linked hands behind Oliver’s back. There was one sure way he knew to find out Oliver’s age—give him a little dig.

“You can’t be that old. What are you? Fifty?”

“Fifty! No, smart-ass, I’m forty-four. Happy to know that?” Oliver eased his hand free as they climbed the steps to the wide veranda. He pulled keys out of his pocket and unlocked the front door. “I should spank you for that.”

Garrett stepped into the foyer and patted his butt. “A spanking might be fun sometime...”

Available at:

KC Kendricks
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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

A Hero's Bargain by Rayne Forrest

July 9, 2019

Google calendars are a handy tool. I check mine every day when I arrive at work. It's sort of a mess but at least my messy handwriting isn't a factor. Today a notation popped up that it's the anniversary of the first publication of Hero, now known as A Hero's Bargain. 

Hero was first released in 2006 at a little publisher by the name of Silk's Vault. It wasn't a good experience. The owner vanished owing a lot of writers a lot of money, and I was one of them. After that, I pubbed it through Whiskey Creek Press. WCP was a good place for a lot of years before they sold out. And so it came to pass that in 2016, I had the rights back to the story and I self-pubbed it with a slightly updated title, A Hero's Bargain.

A Hero's Bargain tells a bit more about the story. Ryder Vaughn crash lands his space ship on a planet being terrorized by a mysterious creature. The locals can't kill it but Ryder has a weapon that will do the job. Our heroine, Saba, strikes a bargain with him - her body for destroying the creature. The only problem is that Ryder is not a killer. Luck is with him, though. He knows the creature isn't a monster but another spacefarer, such as himself. It's old and sick, and Ryder makes a bargain with it, too. In the end, Ryder gets the girl and safety for her people. 

I've always thought A Hero's Bargain is a good, solid story. Chapter Two should be Chapter One and perhaps one day I'll fix that. It was penned early in my writing career, but the plot holds up. I'm technically better now, but a good plot beats out good comma placement every time. 

I've always loved the world building in good science fiction. I've always loved the romance genre. A Hero's Bargain was a good blending of the two. I keep saying I'm going to go back to sci-fi. In truth, it is my first love and has been since I read the great Andre Norton's book, Moon of Three Rings. I doubt I'll ever write again under the name of Rayne Forrest, but Kendricks/Forrest works for me. One shouldn't stray too far from one's literary roots. 

Maybe it's time to lean in that direction. I've had my fill of real life these last few months. Creating a new world with strange and wonderful men living in it has a lot of appeal. It just might cure what ails this writer. 



When a poker game turns ugly, erstwhile gambler Ryder Vaughan runs for his life. After crash landing his ship on an unknown world it looks like his life will be a short one - until the lovely healer, Saba Duer, finds him and saves him. Smitten, Saba has no qualms allowing Ryder to seduce her.

In Ryder, Saba sees the coming of a hero to save her people. The deadly errol that has terrorized the Ramalho Clan for so many years has been spotted on a course that will bring it to the village. Ryder has a weapon that could destroy the creature. She strikes a bargain with him to secure his help. Ryder’s not yet well and whole, but there is no choice. Saba has to let him go and face the truth – she’s sent him on a mission to die.
But Ryder has a plan - and dying isn’t a part of it.


Saba couldn’t lose her nerve now. It was their only hope. She dried the mug and set it up on the shelf then turned back to Ryder. “We need your weapons, and your help. If you agree to use your weapons to destroy the errol, we’ll pay you.”
His eyebrows shot up. His eyes darkened.
“Pay me, will you? With what? A ship so I can get back to my life? Tell me you have one. Lie to me, Saba.”
Ryder had every right to be bitter over his circumstances. She understood, but his acerbic tone shocked her. She hadn’t considered anger. Anger could make him dangerous in ways nothing else would. Nonetheless, her mind was made up. It was her decision, be it folly or not.
“No. The coin I would pay you with is my body.”
His mouth dropped open. “Excuse me?”
“I will come to your bed when you are well enough.”
He sat up, swinging his legs off the pallet and onto the floor. She jumped away from him, startled. Just as quickly her concern for her patient moved her back to his side.
“Do not! You should be still.”
Quick as lightning he grabbed her and pulled her to him. His chest was like a rock.
“Let me go!”
“I don’t think so, angel.” His arms tightened around her. His lips thinned into an angry line.
“So you’d come to my bed, would you? For what? What do you think I could do with you in my current condition, hmm? Pat you on the ass and tell you to sleep well?” His lips curled, snarling.
“Offer something better, Saba. Offer me my manhood back. Then come to my bed!” He released her so abruptly, she almost fell. She plopped down on the stool. He grimaced, his face tightening with pain.
“You will heal but it will take time,” she said, far more calmly than she felt.
He hissed, pressing his hands to his stomach. Alarmed, she jumped up. Quick as a snake, he had her again, one hand fisting in her hair, trapping her.
“Heal me, then.”
His mouth came down on hers with bruising force. She pushed against him but he was too strong. His tongue swept over her lips and suddenly, escaping him wasn’t important. Deep in her belly her womb contracted. Need, hot and sweet, throbbed with each beat of her racing heart.
His kiss gentled, coaxing her now with a soft plea to answer him. Her arms slid around his neck. Her lips opened. There was a low rumble in his chest as his arms tightened around her. Awareness of her surroundings faded. All she knew was his lips moving on hers and his warm hand slowly caressing her back. She was caught in the spell he wove, floating in some dark place where her body spoke to her of aching loneliness and whispered its hope of fulfillment.
Softly, ever so softly, the kiss ended. His lips left hers, lingering a hairsbreadth away. His hands slid to her hips, grasping them with strong fingers and pulling her to him. The hard ridge of his manhood greeted her. She looked into his eyes, gone black with desire.

“You’ll come to my bed first. Then I’ll talk to Tyree about my weapons.”




Friday, June 21, 2019

Author and friend Christiane France

June 21, 2019

"Buying men sounds a bit kinky, but sure. If that works for you, I'll buy the men and you do the rest." - Chris Grover,  April 25, 2016

My friend and fellow author, Chris Grover, died on June 19, 2019. She'd been ill since the fall of 2018, housebound for most of the winter. She kept saying once warm weather returned, she'd perk up. It wasn't to be. Diagnosed with lung cancer, she developed pneumonia and in the end, succumbed to it. 

Chris grew up in post World War II England and later immigrated to Canada. She liked her adopted home in Hamilton, and she and Roy enjoyed many years there. After Roy passed, she stayed in her apartment with her "boys," Toby and Dom. Chris was definitely a cat person. 

Chris was a gourmet cook. While Ron and I are happy to slap a few burgers on the grill, Chris made her meals an event. Well-traveled, she brought home recipes from every country she visited. Those locales, and food, often made their way into her stories. 

I first met Chris in the spring of 2008. Back in those days, Amber Quill only took in new authors once a year through a sort of lottery they called a contest. They accepted manuscripts for a month, sorted out the chaff, and then accepted only a few. I was one of only eight out of over two hundred authors offered a contract in 2008. Of course, once you were in, you had a permanent publishing home. Chris sent me an email to welcome me to AQP and we started to correspond. Until this past winter, rarely a day went by that we didn't chat. Fighting respiratory issues sapped her energy and she began to miss a day or two at a time. Then I got the call from her close friend in Hamilton that she was gone. 

During the days of our friendship, we co-wrote two series - The Escort and The Ghost at the B and B. Our writing styles were similar, and often we'd ask "did you write that section or did I?" When AQP closed its doors, we each took a series to indie publish. 

We also hatched an idea to write a story set in the same town from the perspective of two business partners. That became the Amethyst Cove books. She wrote the Greg Stewartson stories, and I wrote the Ian Coulter stories. We wondered how to get Greg and Ian into the same conversation but we never quite got around to doing it. 

After Amber Quill closed, we both tried a few of the remaining e-publishers, but it wasn't the same. AQP spoiled us for anywhere else. We went indie although Chris was never as comfortable with it as I am. Making my own covers was creative fun, so I offered to do hers, too, which elicited the above quote. She wanted to pay me but I told her to donate a few bucks to her local animal shelter. That was a good payment in my book.  

I'm going to miss Chris. Even though we came from very different backgrounds, we held similar views on right and wrong, good and evil. I will miss her emails and her recipes. 

Chris shared her vast knowledge of writing and publishing with me and I'm grateful to her for that. The writing community has lost a guiding light and a quiet leader. Her voice has been stilled, but never her influence on those who knew her. Rest well, my friend. 

KC Kendricks

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Writers just want to have fun

June 16, 2019

I found this drawing on Twitter this morning. Kudos to Grant Snider for a piece of wonderfully charming artwork. It's humorous but with a lot of truth. The more I study it, the funnier it becomes. 

Print Graveyard, Inspiration Overlook, Desperation Drop, Plot Labyrinth, Procrastination Patio. Oh, we've all been to those places. And out in the ocean what do we find? The white whale. Study your classics if you don't "get" that one. 

Actually, I've changed my mind. It's not just a charming work, it's fucking genius. 

These days, I think I'm living on the Procrastination Patio. I'd much rather be in the Cave of Reclusive Genius. It's not all my fault I'm on the patio. Settling my stepfather's estate has been time-consuming. I think I need to dedicate a page to tips on how to deal with some of the roadblocks that have been set up in my way to accomplishing that task. I've submitted the forms for his life insurance and you'd think I'm pulling all those funds out of the agent's personal pocket. It's not right what they make you do for money due you, or in this case due to my mother. 

I've fortified my writing muse by reading a lot. Reading has been a wonderful escape at the end of the day when I know I'm too tired to try to write. I was a reader first and I'll likely be a reader last when I've retired my keyboard. 

One day soon I'm going to move from the Procrastination Patio to the Author's Cloisters. I won't be the one escaping down the rope, either. I'm pretty well-organized with settling Jack's affairs and I'm working the plan. Now it's a matter of tying up loose ends. Being philosophical, I can visit the Reflecting Pool and admit time away from the keyboard will probably end up being a good thing. That part of me, the part that is the writer, has had a good long break. 

When the time comes to finish July Heat, I'm going to visit the Internet-Free Cafe, buckle down, and get back to work. After all, I've already been to Aspiration Tower and the Brainstorm Rotunda. I've tossed copy down to the Publisher's Roost. When it's all said and done, I think I'll paddle out to the Shrine to the Muse and be thankful the passion to write is still with me. 

Thank you, Grant Snider, for sharing your talent and wit with the world. 

KC Kendricks

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Twitter polls - and the answers I dare not provide

May 26, 2019

Ah, those Twitter polls. Writers have taken to them like ducks to water. And I do confess those polls have taken the enjoyment out of Twitter. Well, that and the fact the nude photos of men don't show up in my feed any longer. It's a shame about that. Twitter shouldn't be in the censorship business. But I digress...

First poll this morning was about world building. Question: what profession(s) end life? My answer that I dare not post is - You're world building, for God's sake. Name it and claim it! 

Second poll - how many hours do you write each day? My answer that I dare not post - When the fuck did this become a competition? 

Third poll - What makes a better book? Writing in third person or first person? My answer that I dare not post - Why are we still wasting time chewing that bone? Write your story the way it speaks to you!

Okay, so you get where I'm coming from on this. Maybe. 

I don't know if the people posing the questions are "new" writers or not. They're asking the same sort of questions that were asked almost twenty years ago when I got started, and it bugs the hell out of me. It seems those of us with experience haven't been good teachers. 

Perpetuating the myth that a writer MUST produce a certain word count every day is damaging. Insisting a particular style of prose is better than another is perhaps a worse harm. The fall of so many publishers proves that out. Publishers always called for "fresh" and "unique" and then rejected it. They were afraid it wouldn't sell as well as Author Cookie-Cutter, but...how would they know? They lacked the metaphorical balls to find out and the indie author, et al., brought them down. 

To the new writers out there who might one day read this - Write your story and write it your way. Don't waste time giving a flying fuck about what anyone else is doing. It's counter-productive. Learn the craft and embrace your voice. Not everyone will like it, but who cares? Enough people will enjoy your stories. 

But if the writing of the story isn't enough to feed your soul, then re-evaluate. A poll on Twitter won't solve that problem for you. 

KC Kendricks

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

A life well lived

May 14, 2019

And the number of his days were accomplished. 

My stepfather has left this world. He made my mother very happy, and that's the highest praise I could ever give him. 

Jack had a terrible childhood. Think Charles Dickens and you wouldn't be far off. His mother died in childbirth due to the refusal of his father to believe the doctors and get her to a hospital when she went into labor. Consequently, Jack was raised by the women in a small, tight-knit community. His father paid various ladies to house and feed him, but he became everyone's dinner guest - and farm hand. He worked hard as a boy. His father drank himself to death when Jack was about seventeen and from then until he married my mother, he looked after his step-mother, a woman he came to respect.

He graduated from high school and immediately did a six-year stint in the Navy. He sailed around the world and to Antarctica twice. He didn't talk about it much because he didn't like life on a big boat.  But the Navy taught him electronics and he eventually retired from one of the communications giants. 

Mom had been widowed for ten years when she married Jack. They promised each other twenty happy years and that's about what they had. Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Jack cared for her until we knew she needed a care facility. Caring for her took an enormous toll on him. 

He went downhill after Mom left the house. He was lonely and depression set in. When he tripped over a throw rug and broke his hip, his decline was rapid. 

I got the call this past Monday morning. The lady who cleaned his house found him beside the bed. It's not what I would have wished for him but we don't get to choose for ourselves much less anyone else. Passing on in his sleep would have been my preference. I wish that peace for everyone. 

And so the arrangements are made. My mother will live out her days not knowing what happened and this is okay. Alzheimer's Disease is a horrible affliction. When I speak to her of Jack, she asks me, "who's that?" To tell her he's passed may bring an emotional upset that lingers. She would know she's upset but not remember why and so become even more upset. In the early days of her affliction, she spoke of the white fog. It must be a terrible place in which to dwell. 

Now I come to the time to settle my stepfather's affairs. I agreed to it many years ago and I'm thankful it took so long to arrive. I'm more prepared than I was back in 1993. This too will be accomplished. 

For all the trials and tribulations that came his way, Jack felt he'd had a good life. When all is said and done, we can't ask for more than that.

KC Kendricks

Friday, May 10, 2019

The exhausted writer

May 10, 2019

The only way to write, really write, is to rip your chest open and bleed the words. Does that sound too dramatic? Sure it does. Bleeding words is problematic. It hurts. Pain is drama. Life can sometimes be painful. It all feeds into the ability to write. 

Being too tired to bleed write, I've been reading, devouring books at a rate of about one every other day. It's escapism, plain and simple. I'm hiding from the rigors of caregiving. If fortune smiles upon us, May 24 will see a reversal in my husband's decline. Another surgery is scheduled for that morning to relieve pressure on his spinal cord. I pray the last MRI doesn't find yet another spot where bone and calcium are building up. I need this long process to be complete. 

I need to finish July Heat. I don't simply WANT to, I NEED to. It's almost a visceral thing. My load would be lightened if I could just get that story finished. One of the problems is every time I sit back with a cup of coffee or tea to think about the plot, I come up with a new idea for a passage I could make better. I can't walk away from those ideas. They have merit. 

They have merit, but constantly tweaking the story is just as exhausting as caring for my partner during this pre-surgery time. Men are needy things. Mine used to be a lot more stoic. 

Writing is how I decompress from my life. It smoothes out the rough spots of the day.  I forget about the people I work with and their ill-advised decisions when I write. Hell, I even stop laughing at the political arena when I write and we all know there is a lot to laugh at these days. If I thought I would or could write coherent passages, I'd be working on the book now. Instead, I'm rambling. 

And that proves my point. Exhausted writers write exhausted prose, and we can't have that. 

KC Kendricks

Monday, April 22, 2019

Omegaverse romance

April 22, 2019

Easter is over for another year. It was quiet at my house - save for the sounds of coughing and nose blowing. Himself was felled first by pollen and then by some nasty sinus malady. He's on the mend so I'm hopeful life will get back to normal. 

Whatever the hell normal is for my life. I really don't know.

Caregiving is not something that comes naturally to me. Waiting hand and foot on an ailing man is not my idea of fun. To amuse myself, I loaded the Kindle with a few books to expand my horizons. A while back my partner-in-writing, Christiane France, mentioned she'd picked up an mpreg on the recommendation of a friend. I thought I'd check it out and get the scoop. My goodness. 

After a bit of shopping, I settled on Slow Heat by Leta Blake as my introduction to the land of the alpha and omega non-shifter. Good choice. The book was well-written and the story solid. I can see why mpreg has a following. It's...interesting. If you have a chance to purchase a copy of Slow Heat and its sequel Slow Burn, you should do so. The stories suspend reality with no apologies giving just enough information of how the omega/alpha came to be without insulting the reader on any level. Sorry, no spoilers, as I haven't asked for author permission to post any excerpts. 

I enjoyed taking a break from writing. Spending several evenings away from the computer was surprisingly restful, but it won't continue. I need to get back to the prose. I'm in the meaty part of the work-in-progress and the end is in sight. It's time to buckle down and get busy. 

But maybe I can read one more book before I start composing. Just one more. After all, reading is an important exercise for a writer.  

KC Kendricks

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Wisdom a mom again at 68

Akeakamai and his chick 
April 6, 2019

Wisdom, the Laysan albatross, and the world's oldest known banded bird, is a remarkable 68 years old. She and her mate, Akeakamai (which means "lover of wisdom") hatched another egg in February. You just know he has to be a younger fellow. 

I first discovered Wisdom in 2011. Her story is fascinating to many nature lovers. She was banded on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in 1956 by a guy named Robbins. She was already five or six years old at the time. Many years later, in 2002, Robbins went back to Midway Atoll and re-sighted her. Apparently, Wisdom had been missing for those many years in between. 

Her story gets even better. Wisdom and her consorts, of which there have been a few, have successfully raised at least 35 chicks. Wisdom and Akeakamai have produced an egg every year since 2006, another odd feat considering the Laysan albatross typically lays every other year. 

I know that someday I'm going to check in on Wisdom and find she's missing again. Considering her age, the next time may be for good. It'll be a sad day but nothing can erase the story of this singular life and the joy she brings to millions simply by being herself. 

Live long and prosper, Wisdom. 

KC Kendricks

Some Laysan albatrosses are dying as chicks after being fed small pieces of plastic. The plastic builds up in their stomachs until they can't eat and they starve to death. No one has to turn into a recycling fanatic to make a difference by being aware within their daily life. All of us doing what we can when we can does have a long-term impact. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Running the numbers

April 2, 2019

We Americans like numbers. Everything is all about the numbers, even the money. Big numbers are good, and small numbers are bad. Hmm. Not always. 

This morning I checked in with my retirement countdowns. Folks, it's getting scary. Having already passed the first number, that being December 31, 2018, I'm working on the second. That rolls up in sixty days. 

How did I choose the numbers/dates? The first one wasn't arbitrary. It was the earliest day I could financially afford to retire. The numbers dictated 12/31/18. The problem with that one was the size of my slush fund. As I contemplated depleting that fund of several thousand dollars over the course of five months, I started to wheeze. Seriously. Going from a saver to a spender might kill me.  

The picture is for age sixty-two. A lot of Americans retire at sixty-two. I could be one of them if I choose to be. After this one, the next number is for the twenty-year mark at my current job. That is another 456 days in the future. Age sixty-five? That's pushing twelve hundred days or over 3 years. That one seems a bit daunting. Or is it depressing? 

Maybe it's time to break a rule I've held fast and firm to since 2003. With very few exceptions I've not written prose while at the day job office. But things change. 

Now don't get excited. I work in a private 501(c)3. We do not get government money so I'm not wasting taxpayer dollars. But as this trend has developed, along with a few others, I question whether or not I need to be at the day job forty hours a week. Going to a four-day week would solve a lot of problems for me. It would also be more cost effective for my employer.

All these numbers staring me in the face are distracting. I can't shake them off. I can't ignore them. I'd like to make peace with them but so far I've failed that endeavor. Seeing the days click off, seeing the numbers shrink, brings up that natural fear of change. It's the complete opposite of what I expected. I expected to be gleeful and chomping at the bit to attain my freedom. 

I should have known. Nothing in my life has ever gone as planned. 

KC Kendricks

Saturday, March 30, 2019

A Hard Habit to Break - a new look

March 30, 2019

True spring has arrived! I arrived home from bowling last night to a chirpy serenade. It was lovely - truly music to my ears. The little peeper frogs, our heralds of spring, are awake and that means cold weather is past. 

I had a bit of a break at the day job this past week, so I opted to play with Photoshop once again. Updating covers is a fun endeavor. I like to use the original background, if possible, in a new way. It's also good to keep the original guy, again if possible. So the cover is new but it's not. 

It's a bit of a search to find stock photos that really appeal to me. It would be easier to snatch something free, but the resolution wouldn't be as good.

Back posts here at Between the Keys have been updated. Now I need to do that to the website and at the third-party vendors. 

A Hard Habit to Break. Friends who grew up together, lost each other, and finally found their way back to each other and happiness. 
_ _ _ _ _ 

As the reigning stud of the local gay club scene, every guy in the county knows Travis Templeton, and vies for his attention. Travis wears his crown lightly, careful not to break any hearts. He knows what it’s like to really love someone who doesn’t love you back-at least, not in the way you want.

Heath Kelley made the biggest mistake of his life the night before his best friend Travis left for college. One small action snowballed into years of silent misunderstanding and empty distance. When Heath accepts a transfer that sends him to his hometown, he doesn’t know Travis has moved back home, too. It doesn’t take long for the men to reconnect.

Admitting they never stopped thinking of each other as “best friends” is easy. Forgiveness of past sins is easy, but confessing their secrets comes harder. When Heath discovers the truth about Travis’ private life, the newly repaired bonds of friendship are stretched taut.

It’s time for Travis to choose – the love of his best friend, or a life of settling for second best.

A HARD HABIT TO BREAK is available at:

Available now at Amazon




KC Kendricks
website at: http://www.kckendricks.com

Friday, March 22, 2019

Spring Equinox 2019

March 21, 2019, at noon
March 22, 2019

Spring has sprung, so they say. As welcome as it is I will still complain and say it was a long time getting here. I've been waiting for months! 

My mother and I both grew up country girls through and through. Her father was born in 1910 and his mother in 1886. They were even more country, working the land to feed family and have income. My grandfather religiously purchased an Almanac every year and planted by the signs. Mom and I had outside employment and so we planted when we had time, but that's another tale. 

Mom and I didn't bother with astronomical signs but we did pay attention to the weather. Here in western Maryland, the vernal equinox brings rain. We watched and observed, and discussed the occurrence. Spring can be as early as March 19 or as late as March 21, but on one of those days, there will be precipitation. This year, the weatherman said the rain would begin around five p.m. on March 20. Coincidentally, the official start time for Spring was 5:58 DST, so maybe the weather folks were hedging their bets. The rain actually began at six a.m. on March 21 and lasted for about twenty-four hours. 

Being curious about many trivial matters, I went to wikipedia to find out why it is it always rains at the vernal equinox. 

I still don't know. Subsolar points? Time slippage? Sidereal time? Right ascension? Refraction of light rays? Equal amounts of day versus night? Whatever. 

All I know is the old adage passed down from a woman born in 1886 has once again proven true. It rained like hell at the vernal equinox. 

KC Kendricks

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Right Brew - updated new cover

March 19, 2019

Cross another item off the "someday list!" I made a new cover for The Right Brew (Book 9 in the Men of Marionville collection). I'm much happier with this one than the original. The original was made at a time when I was just learning how to create covers in Photoshop. I have a much better feel for it now. 

Will this be the last cover for The Right Brew? I don't know. Experience says it might not be. Let me get too bored at the day job and I start misbehaving (a.k.a. doing my own thing). But this one will certainly do for the next while.

Here's a bit about The Right Brew. Enjoy!

Hollis Milnor didn’t think twice about moving to Marionville. His ailing cousin needed his help running his nightclub, Frolic, and Hollis needed to put some space between himself and an ex-boyfriend determined to make his life miserable. Management skills he has. Experience running a nightclub, not so much, but he’s a quick learner.  

Caleb Brewer is a steady, hard-working man establishing a microbrewery. He’s got a great product and demand for it is growing. When a new manager takes over the hottest nightclub in Marionville, Caleb is determined to maintain his prior arrangements. 

What starts out as business quickly heats up the summer nights. Hollis hesitates, reluctant to step over the legal line. Caleb isn’t just a vendor. He works part-time at the nightclub. Becoming involved puts them both in murky waters, waters that become crystal clear when the past catches up with Hollis and puts everyone he loves in danger.    


“Caleb. Come in and sit down.” I motioned at a chair. “Something wrong?”

He eased down in the wing chair and stretched out his long denim-encased legs. “Did we sorta get off on the wrong foot here? I can’t afford to have that happen.”

I gave him points for directness. He didn’t aim to come off as being abrupt. He simply kept everything right out front. I liked that. 

“I know. It’s my fault, Caleb, and I’m sorry. I’m here to manage the nightclub, not get personally involved with any of the men working within the business end of things.”

He studied me for a moment, and then nodded. “Fair enough. I thought that might be it, but I wanted to be sure that’s all it was. Now I need to ask you this.” He took a deep breath. “Would you like to have dinner with me tonight? I’d like to talk about some business.”

He would, would he? I admit getting involved with the hired help wasn’t a good idea and he comes back with an invitation to dinner?

We could talk ideas and possibilities for our respective ventures right now. We didn’t need food, wine and the privacy of a crowded restaurant, but what better way to learn more about him? A wave of goosebumps fluttered over my back. 

“I guess I do need to eat sometime.”

His blue gaze locked on mine. “I think I like that you had to consider it. Too much impulse can lead a man astray.”

Oh, hell, yeah. “Is that where you’d like to go? Astray?”

A smile teased the corner of his mouth. His eyes sparkled with humor. “I’ve been there before so I know which road not to take.”

“Same here. Tell me something. How long have you been connected with Frolic?”

“Not long. Maybe a year. Why?”

I grinned at him. “You might have information useful to me.”

He rolled his eyes and lifted his gaze to the ceiling. “And that, Caleb Brewer, is why the man agreed to have dinner with you.”

 I chuckled. “Talk to yourself often, do you? I like to keep things above board, too. So, yeah, I’m going to ask you a bunch of questions, but I think I’ll really enjoy having dinner with you.”

“I get it, and it’s okay. So how about I meet you about seven o’clock? At The Wharf? It’s the best place in town.”

“I’ve heard about the place. Give me your phone number in case something happens and I can’t get away on time. I can at least let you know I’m running late and why.”

We exchanged cell numbers and he held his hand out as he stood to leave. I reached out and his fingers closed around mine. The shock of his warm palm against mine turned my arm to lead. He let go of me. 

“It’s not a date, Hollis. Not if you don’t want it to be.” 

He walked out of the office while I stood watching his retreating backside. It wasn’t until he’d disappeared I realized I rather wished it were.   

Available at iTunes/Apple

Available at Amazon

Available at Barnes and Noble/NOOK

Available at KOBO

KC Kendricks