The Picture – A Free Valentine’s Day Story from Jamie D. Greening

A picture holds a thousand words. But with today’s Free Valentine’s Day fiction, a picture might as well hold millions. Jamie Greening brings us another perspective on the paths love can take across a lifetime with his story: The Picture:

If you fell in love with this one, why not give some of the other authors a chance as well. Check out the sites for ALL of the Fondue Writers: Joseph CourtemancheJamie D. GreeningKathy KexelDerek Alan ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul Bennet. If you like what you see, why not pick up a few copies of their books? It covers the cost of everything, and it gives us hope in those long, dark nights when we’re dreaming up new stories, that Christmas miracles really do come true.

You might also consider our first collection of short stories, The Covid Quarantine Catina, written during the first months of the Covid-19 lockdowns. It’s available in Kindle, Paperback, and Audio formats.

Dr Paul Bennet will be back tomorrow with another Valentine’s Day short story. Until then, find someone you love, hug them tight, and remind them not to break anything.

Capital L

On Thanksgiving, our six year old son was nearly crushed by a 200lb, metal, lighted Santa Claus decoration. 

We went to the North Georgia mountains for the holiday to do some hiking and waterfall searching amongst the quiet of the pines, away from the hustle and bustle of destination resort town like our hometown of Orlando. 

It was great. At first. 

Then Santa slipped his tension wires just as our son was playing off-path in a park in Helen, GA. We told him repeatedly to come back, but he didn’t listen. The road less traveled was too tempting for him, and he paid the price. Let that be a lesson to all you would-be commencement speakers who quote Robert Grost. As a result, we spent Thanksgiving night in a remote Georgia ER, hoping for the bleeding to stop, and that our son had no brain abnormalities beyond those our genetics gifted him at birth.  

He was fine. No worries.  He DOES have a healthy distrust of Santa Claus now, though. Which is probably a good thing. 

In December, one of the stitches from my cornea transplant (from wayback in 2012) made its way loose. I had it removed, but apparently the place where said stitch used to be is now infected, which is a bad thing for transplants. The doctor says I’m 50/50 on whether I’ll lose the eye. 

“We’ll have to wait and see,” he said. Then, he added: “No pun intended.”

I’ve been here a few times over the years. Cornea transplants can reject easily, especially for those who are prone to rub their eyes with dirt-encrusted hands after wrestling with kids in the backyard. I’m hopeful things pull through. They always have up till now. It just means a few harrowing days of partial blindness and another doctor’s visit next Wednesday. Then, it’s either a few steroid drops and my eye becomes Arnold Schwarzenegger, or a I undergo surgery which will turn me into a white Nick Fury

Whatever happens, I’m living in the tension of waiting for things to return to normal, which is a tension I think we’re all familiar with lately. 

It would be easy to say that I can’t wait for Christmas break to end, for the kids to go back to school and me back to work. There IS a part of me that goes there, just like there’s a part of me that lamented being so far away from home when Santa assaulted my progeny. 

We yearn for normalcy, for predictability. But life isn’t normal. It rarely conforns to the best laid plans of mice and men.

When you focus on being normal, you miss capital-L life right in front of you. Like families laughing at each other when someone forgets to unmute themselves on the now-annual Holiday Zoom get-together. There is joy in the trenches and sadness in the peaks, because Life exists in both places. To focus on returning to Normal LIfe is to miss Life entirely. 

I’m spending the day after Christmas with the kids, watching Miyazaki films and eating popcorn (the same popcorn I got qs a gift from Captech as a gift for  Christmas. Thanks, CT!). Tomorrow, we’ll toss baseball in the backyard. On Wednesday, we’ll find out which path I take with my eyesight and go from there. Nothing I can do about it now, so there’s no point missing out on popcorn, movies, and baseball while we wait, right?

I feel good about this decision. 

An Other Christmas – Kathy Kexel

Aliens and Manger Scenes, Batman!

That’s the first thing that popped into my head when I ventured into today’s Fondue Writer’s Christmas story from Kathy Kexel. But that’s only because my brain is weird and operates in mysterious ways.

Today, Kathy Kexel blends Amish culture with science fiction with political intrigue and the Greatest Story Ever Told to come up with a wonderful tale of foreigners seeking refuge in unknown lands and finding a new place to call home.

There are also cows.

Check out An Other Christmas by Kathy Kexel.

Germany, place unknown | 2011 04 | Dairy cow on the “Kattendorfer Hof”.

If you have the time, please check out the sites for ALL of the Fondue Writers: Joseph CourtemancheJamie D. GreeningKathy KexelDerek Alan ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul Bennet. If you like what you see, why not pick up a few copies of their books? It covers the cost of everything, and it gives us hope in those long, dark nights when we’re dreaming up new stories, that Christmas miracles really do come true.

If you’d like what you see, you might also check out our first collection of short stories, The Covid Quarantine Catina, written during the first months of the Covid-19 lockdowns. It’s available in Kindle, Paperback, and Audio formats.

Jamie D Greening will be back with us on Wednesday. Until then, be kind to your neighbors, celebrate the miracle of Christmas with those you love, and, as always … don’t break anything.

The Patch – By Jamie Greening

It’s a skilled writer who can, with a mere head fake, encourage you to believe a story is going one way, while deftly sliding the knife between your ribs and into your lungs. There were some mixed metaphors there, but you get the idea.

And, when it comes to today’s Fondue author, Jamie Greening, I would not be surprised if he attempted a linguistic head fake and actually attempted to shiv me. He’s just that good.

See if you can’t get yourself equally thrown for a loop when you check out Jamie’s Halloween story, The Patch.

If you have the time, please check out the sites for ALL of the Fondue Writers: Joseph CourtemancheJamie D. GreeningKathy KexelDerek Alan ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul Bennet. If you like what you see, why not pick up a few copies of their books? It covers the cost of everything, and it gives us hope in those long, dark nights when we’re dreaming up new stories, wondering if the monsters in our heads matter only to us, or if one day they might come out of the dark to terrify you as well.

If you’d like what you see, you might also check out our first collection of short stories, The Covid Quarantine Catina, written during the first months of the Covid-19 lockdowns. It’s available in Kindle, Paperback, and Audio formats.

Paul Bennett will be back on Friday with another Halloween story. Until then, mind your Ps and Qs, always listen to your elders, and, as always, don’t break anything.

Dark Transit – By Michael DiMercurio

One of the great things about pursuing interests outside your “day job,” is that, beyond just building alt income streams, you get to meet all sorts of interesting people. Because I’ve been writing with the Fondue Writers for the last few years, and because Jamie Greening, Joseph Courtemanche, and I have been working on a few other projects, I got to meet Michael DiMercurio.

I’m going to say this wrong, because I never served, but DiMercurio is a graduate of the US Naval Academy and M.I.T. He served aboard nuclear submarines, saving the world from Communism and doing all sorts of things he can never speak about because of national security issues. He was an instructor at Annapolis and has, since the early ’90s, been a celebrated author of submarine fiction.

“Like Tom Clancy?” you might ask.

Yes, but good and factually accurate.

DiMercurio has written another book: his first in fifteen years. It’s called “Dark Transit,” and I had the pleasure to both read an early copy and listen to the audio narration from fellow Fondue writer, Joseph Courtemanche.

If you like military fiction, if you’re a fan of page-turners, I highly suggest checking out Dark Transit, which is available for pre-order in Kindle, paperback, and audiobook right now. DiMercurio is an amazing author. And this is just part 1 in his Anthony “Patch” Pacino series. I can’t wait to read the rest.

https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Transit-Anthony-Patch-Pacino/dp/B09G3MVF6F/

An Acre of Peace Part 1 – by Paul Bennett

A brand new story from Dr Paul Bennett. This one’s about reclaiming something that was lost, and bringing peace to a chaotic situation. Click on the pines to read the story.

If you’re not caught up with all of the Covid Chronicles, worry not! Scroll on down the page for the latest and greatest from all our Quarantined-and-slowly-going-more-insane-than-they-already-were. While you’re at it, check out pages for Joseph CourtemancheJamie GreeningKathy KexelDerek ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul J Bennett . There is a strong, non-zero chance you will come away happy.

Side Effects – an ABSOLUTELY FREE story from Kathy Kexel

Happy Friday, everyone. Happy GOOD Friday.

Kathy Kexel comes today with a brand new, table turning story about COVID-19 and those most vulnerable. It’s called “Side Effects” and it’s a great read. Give it a shot by clicking on ZZ TOP’s beards below.

That’s three weeks of #CovidCaptivity stories in the books. How’re y’all liking it?

Our original plan was for fantabulous author, Rob Cely, to join the crew tomorrow. However, since Saturdays are difficult for readership (and since it’s the day between Good Friday and Easter … and Rob is a pastor), we decided to slot him to Monday.

#JoPrime (aka Joe Courtemanche) will jump in with a story on Sunday, then Rob on Monday, Jamie Greening on Tuesday, Derek Elkins Wednesday, YoursTruly (aka #OtherJoe) on Thursday, and Kathy Kexel batting cleanup again (as she does so well) next Friday.

That’s the Name of the Game by Joseph Courtemanche

Laddies and Gentlepersons!

You may remember how I mentioned, previously, that a few good writers (and also: Me) planned to share some free content over the next weeks of CovidPalooza.

Well, Here we go again.

If you’ve got no place to go. If you’re feeling down. If you’d like to take a chance on us, here’s the first of those stories from Mr Joe Courtemanche (whose titles in publication will be listed in the comments). A little ditty about sickness in mind, body, and spirit in these trying times.

It’s called “That’s The Name of the Game.”

Give it a whirl and, if you change your mind on Joe’s stuff, Padre Jamie Greening will be here either later in the week with a new story, and Yours Truly will scrape the bottom of the barrel on Friday.

Merry Christmas

Twas two days before Christmas, and in the back room
I sat with my laptop In my Fruit of the Looms
Reports I did author, and published with care
In the hopes that my Inbox soon would be bare.


The children were screaming, my wife lost her head.
Because at 4:30, they’d all left their beds.
Now, at 10:30, I tilted my cap.
And leaned my chair back for a late morning nap.


When out on the lawn, there arose a big SPLAT.
I fell out of my chair, and screamed, “What was that?”
Away to the back porch I ran in a hurry.
Tripped over one child, watched the rest of them scurry.


The sun hit the gleam of the new fallen dew.
Made the yard and its contents seem shiny and new.
I thought to myself, “I’m glad we moved here.’
Then my wife said, “Come in, please. You’re half-naked, Dear.”


I looked to my left and squinted my eyes
Then stumbled straight back, with quite a surprise.
What then did my wondering gaze soon achieve?
Halfway up our tree was my drunk neighbor Steve.


He pushed on the branches, and the boughs starting swinging
Sung carols so loudly, my ears started ringing.
He rolled and he fell to the ground nice and quick.
I knew then for certain: I hated that prick.


He danced and he shook and he caused quite a scene.
Then Steve turned vomited, all chunky and green.
He rose to his feet and toward me did run.
I thought to myself, “This won’t be much fun.”


“I’m DASHING! I’m DANCING! I’m PRANCING and FIXIN’
Steve said as his hair and the vomit were mixing.
“To Spread Christmas Cheer with your family, my friend!”
I said, “You dumb shit. This thing’s at an end.”


He walked up the steps, put his hand on both walls.
My foot kicked him squarely, straight in the balls.
He fell to his knees, his eyes they rolled back.
HE said, “That was hard. I felt them BOTH crack.”


AS day turned to night and his drunkness wore off
Steve reached for some Bourbon. I started to scoff.
A wink of his eye and a turn of his head
Soon gave me to know there was still much to dread


He sprang from the room and let out a whistle
Then flew from his house like the dawn of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!