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Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Momentary Rant about Knitting

So here's the thing about knitting...

Today, I neglected my house, my shopping, and even my job a little, to sit and watch television and knit. I was making a project for someone who had asked for it, and she had offered money.

I refused.

Because-- I make money at my job. When I take hours out of a day--that I had not ordinarily planned to take, mind you, because I block out a little bit of leisure time every day-- to knit instead of write, I'm doing a small amount of damage to my income--one that can't be replaced.

Ordinarily, I do it because I love it--and the person I'm knitting for.

If someone asks for something special, if I love them, I will knit the something special. Even if I just like them. Sometimes, even if I think they're dumber than diapers, but they have children who don't deserve my disdain, I will knit for their children. (Some of you may remember the neighbor who complained because a 14" baby hat was a little too large for her premature baby. Yes. That's who I'm talking about.)  But mostly, I do it out of love.

I don't calculate income loss because I'm doing it out of love, and I don't put a price on watching television or going to the movies with my children or visiting my parents either.

Knitting is my leisure time. It is my hobby. It is a thing I love to do, for people I love creating for. If I knit for someone, that means I have thought about them, cared for them with wool, and it means something to me. My children want me to knit for them-- and I'll knit almost anything they ask for. Mate doesn't ask me, because he doesn't want to see me stress about getting it just right--he'd rather me have the time to just chill.

So, if you have a knitter in your life, and you want a special something--perhaps ask way ahead and offer to buy the supplies. But if you're going to offer to pay them, you might as well look stuff up on ETSY--and by all means, DON'T balk at the price. Even the quickest, easiest thing on the ETSY roster takes at least two hours to make. How much would you charge for two hours of your time as a sales clerk? A paralegal? A vet tech? A substitute teacher?  Or something you trained for years to perfect? Now add a material fee to that--and remember, wool, the nice stuff, doesn't come cheap.

A friend of mine looked up an item comparable to something I had made her and was stunned at the price. I was not--and I wasn't sorry I wasn't. I'd made the thing out of love, and what mattered to me was that she felt loved. She did. The project was a success.  The mistakes (and I make them, lots of them, even on simple items. I'm decently competent, but squirrel brain isn't just a word!) were character and not mark-down flaws, and the colors--which I had chosen, were surprising and beautiful.

I would not have loved this project quite so much if it had been perfect, and I'm pretty sure she wouldn't have either.

So, yeah. I made a particular gift for someone I loved. But I'm still working off the hurt of, "Well, I'm sorry we don't have time to get together for  Christmas, but I'll pay you for this act of love."

The people I'm tight with have not yet offered to pay me. They know who they are. When I say I would knit for someone if I only had the time, that's a thought of love. When I mourn that one of my favorite people lives in San Diego and I have nothing to knit her? That's thwarted love right there.

And when I take an afternoon off to watch Haven and knit socks for someone who asked for a present for her boyfriend?  I'm hoping that's a bridge I'm mending. With bright red worsted, super wash merino wool.

Rant over.

*  *  *

Still a Christmas story. Still has nothing to do with wool. But there's soccer. And a cat.

Available at Amazon :-)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Lollipop

Out January 25th:

Lollipop
A Candy Man Book

by Amy Lane



Ezra Kellerman flew across country to see if he had another chance with the man he let slip through his fingers. He didn't. Rico has moved on, but he doesn’t just leave his ex high and dry. Instead, Rico entrusts his family and friends with Ezra’s care. Ezra, confused, hurt, and lost, clings to Rico’s cousin and his boyfriend as the lifelines they are—but their friend Miguel is another story.



Miguel Rodriguez had great plans and ambition—but a hearty dose of real life crushed those flat. When Miguel finds himself partially in charge of the befuddled, dreamy, healing Ezra, he’s pretty resentful at first. But Ezra’s placid nature and sincere wonder at the simple life Miguel has taken for granted begin to soften Miguel’s hardened shell. Miguel starts to notice that Ezra isn't just amazingly sweet—he’s achingly beautiful as well. Suddenly Miguel is fending off every single man on the planet to give Ezra room to get over Rico—while fighting a burning suspicion that the best thing to help Ezra get over his broken heart is Miguel.


Ta-da!

The new cover for Lollipop,  not even up on the DSP site yet! Are you excited about this one? I am! Ezra and Miguel threw me for a loop. So often, people say, "I want to see this character! And this one! And this one!" And I'm like, "Uh... didn't have a story for that one... I'll have to come up with one." And the one I come up with passes up my expectations by a mile. 

It's one of the joys of the job-- the discovering other people's stories, and realizing that, hey! Maybe Shane and Mikhail aren't as spectacular as Deacon and Crick, but some people think their story is the best!  Every sequel I've written has surprised me somehow with how much I like characters who were originally just "other people" in the world of the original couple, and Ezra and Miguel were just like that too. See the dog and the cat? That's because Ezra was a cat. In the other two stories-- Candy Man and Bitter Taffy, both the guys were dogs. Adam and Finn? That was old dog, new puppy. Derek and Rico? They were alpha dog and beta dog. 

But not Ezra. 

Ezra is finicky, dreamy, terrified, strong, amusing and deadly serious. He peers into the corners and sees amazing things--right before he falls off the couch.  Ezra is a cat.

Miguel, on the other hand, has assumed he's a beta dog his entire life. 

Miguel is an alpha dog. A dog so strong, he can cuddle that cat and not lose any big dog points. He had no idea he was that strong--until he had a cat to show him that was just the kind of dog he was.

I love this couple-- I love the way they fit. I love the fact that Ezra has no idea how cute he is. And I love that both of them have been unlucky in love. Until now.

*  *  *  
 
Also, don't forget Winter Ball is out! Next week, for Fanfic Friday or Saturday, I'm going to post a ficlet, just to, you know, show you what the guys have been up to since the book came out.

There will be spoilers.

And SMEX.

Just, you know, so you know ;-)

Now available on Amazon, ARe, and DSP!

Millertown

 So, my children, once upon a time, before Squish and Zoomboy, mommy lost her job because Big T cried so very much, and he and Daddy, Mommy and Chicken all ended up living on a stretch of property in the middle of nowhere.

It looks very picturesque I know, but--yes. It's cold in here. Yes, it was cold in here back then. In fact, see that propane stove in the center of the living room? Well, it used to be a wooden stove, and then suddenly it got changed out for gas. Except the outside tank didn't have a gauge on it because it was old, and we used four times as much gas as usual, and mommy didn't realize we needed more until she smelled the five percent reek! Yes, Chicken was a brand new tiny baby then, and Big T wasn't even two, and Mommy had to raise hell to get that thing filled. Ah, fun times.

Oh, yes-- the clothes line. Yes, children, the clothes line used to be a bone of contention, you see. Because Grandma and Great Grandma wanted Mommy to be more self sufficient. They thought Mommy should hang clothes on the clothesline instead of put them in the dryer, but the problem was, the wind swept down that big hill in the summer, and Daddy got foxtails in his underwear, and he was very sad. :-( So Daddy insisted that he'd work all the overtime in the world and Mommy didn't have to use the clothesline anymore, and they were both happy!
Do we see the nowhere out there? Yes. That was the same nowhere surrounding the house when Daddy worked and went to school and was gone six days a week. No, Mommy didn't have a car--she had to abandon the car at the gas station because it would no longer go.

Yes. It was lonely. Why do you ask?

Yeah, the cabinet is nice. No-- we weren't allowed to store stuff in it. Ever. And yes! They do have a phone that dials. It was the same phone they had twenty years ago before cell phones. That's special too.

The carpet is new, and hey! Do you see these walls? Yes, these walls in the porch? When Chicken was born, daddy was going to take down the ugly wallpaper in this porch, and he tried to rip it off the walls. That's when he discovered that the walls were made of six layers of ugly wallpaper and cheesecloth.

Can we say "learning to drywall", people? I knew we could!

OH! And these empty walls--yes, they had to run more electricity in the walls to keep the place from being a fire hazard. It's good that they are doing this, because Mommy had to plug her computer into the outside heavy equipment jack, because it was the only outlet that had three prongs!

Anyway, the walls. They used to have pictures on them!

No, honey, not pretty pictures. I used to call them the "dead relatives". Because they were all born over a hundred years before we came to live in the house, and they were all dead.

And they just sat on the walls, judging me.

Because I was a terrible mother. Because I didn't garden, I hated cleaning, and the fact that the house had no foundation and the floors tilted at odd angles and I kept losing baby bottles was driving me bugshit. Big T cried, and it was all my fault. Chicken had ear infections and it was all my fault. I'm still a terrible mother, but at least the dead relatives are gone-- that's a plus!

And isn't the kitchen special?

Yes. I think so too. I especially like the way the glass looks. It didn't used to look that way. It's been all replaced, because it used to be pre-industrialized glass, and every time Big T ran around with a wooden hammer, he'd shatter that shit all over the fucking floor.

It's hard to look at this place now, children. I remember what an abject failure I was. How I couldn't hold a job, I couldn't make my baby stop crying, I couldn't please my mother in law (who is, in fact, a lovely person) and her mother thought I was trash who ruined her grandson's life. (She loved me by the end, children-- patience really is rewarded.)

I'm reminded of all the things I"m bad at, and all the ways I felt helpless. I'm reminded that we needed a cash advance to get the hell out of there, and even though we eventually found our feet again, I resent the hell out of my own powerlessness, and how I couldn't live up to this old house and it's quaint charm and all it's challenges.

I would have made a shitty romance heroine, my children--I would have gone running back to the big city with my tail between my legs, and here I am, living in the suburbs and making a hash out of that too.

But I do have you, my darlings. You are beautiful, and not too damaged, I hope. I must not have been that horrible a mother, if you're who your father and I raised. And your grandmother is a wonderful person--I must have been young and callow if I pissed her off enough to kick us out.

But I can't stop the pain of that time from flooding me, children. Maybe this time, seeing it so changed (and changing more every month, as Mate's uncle comes to fix it up) I can let the pain wash up like tide, and recede, and the bitterness will be flushed away, and the self-recrimination too.

Because really, we spent a lovely hour there, and watching your reaction to every  memory, to every "quirk" of that 150 year old death trap, was worth it, in a way. Mommy survived a rough time. You know you can too.

* * *

Winter Ball, now on sale at Amazon, ARe, and Dreamspinner Press. 












Monday, December 28, 2015

A Last Wave at Santa

Hey, all--

Yes, we're all a little grumpy and the work madness starts tomorrow. Chicken and her father leave tomorrow, and Mate is flying back up on the 29th. It's sad to watch the holidays close, but it's been a lovely, peaceful time, and I'm grateful.

Anyway-- I thought I'd share this pic-- it's probably the last time Zoomboy and Squish sit on Santa's lap. As we were standing in line this year, Squish was looking around, saying, "Oh my God--I'm probably the tallest kid here!"  And while Zoomboy has been desperately clinging to the idea of Santa Claus, Squish has been asking me repeatedly if she has to keep up the facade.

Of course she does. Until they bring their own children into the house, there will always be Santa.

It's the rule.

So I'm going to cherish this last pic, even though poor little Santa is awfully small next to my gigantic children. They're still my babies. And they still make the good list, every year.

Also-- if you want to keep the Christmas happy going, don't forget-- Winter Ball came out on Christmas Day! 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Ink

A brief Mackey and Trav moment, for you all--and oh!  BTW-- next week? I'm going to write a Skip and Richie ficlet-- so if you haven't gotten your copy of Winter Ball, now is the time to do it!
* * *

The needle drew blood at Trav's hipbone and he gritted his teeth. The hum continued, and he stoically ignored the muscular woman with the dyed mohawk who was currently inking his body. He'd heard she was the very best.

The thought did not console him.

Jesus--eight years in the military. Eight years--and he hadn't let a tattoo needle touch his skin. Shrapnel, knives, the occasional bullet, yes. Ink?

Not necessary. 

Until now. 

Anything was worth it to pull Mackey out of his funk. 

Trav was aware that recovering drug addicts were always recovering, and that the triggers that sometimes set them off couldn't be predicted or avoided.  But nothing--nothing--had prepared them for seeing Katie, a grown-up three and a half, the week before Christmas.

She was just so very grown up, so very savvy about the world. She knew that when Heather Sanders picked her up from her mother's house, she was going to get to fly on the plane, and go to the place where she would be spoiled rotten. Heather--being the good mom she was--made sure that Katie came loaded with pictures she had drawn, and photos that Samantha had taken--less and less reluctantly over the last two years. A month in the summer, three weeks during the rest of the year--that little girl was theirs. Sometimes it was Disneyland, sometimes, it was sitting and playing with Kyrie, Kellogg and Briony's little girl. 

They all loved it when she came--and hated it when she left. 

Mackey hadn't come out of their room in two days. Hadn't showered, hadn't barely eaten. He'd sat at his desk and written, picking up the guitar occasionally, but mostly, staring. Staring into space.

Trav had tried everything. Christmas was in two days, and Mackey hadn't done any of the things his brothers had established as normal. Hadn't made paper chains with musical notes sketched on them, to put around the tree. Hadn't done his gift wrapping. Hadn't eaten breakfast with his mother, which was his routine when she was in the house. 

Two days, he'd sat and brooded over his notebooks, grabbing the occasional cracker and drinking water when it suited him.  

Trav had called his shrink, but the guy had told him to wait it out just a little longer--but not to leave Mackey alone. When Trav had left to get his tattoo, he'd put Blake in charge of Mackey--don't alert the others, but don't leave the room, either. Just... read a book or watch TV and be there for him.

Blake had promised he would be.

The tattoo needle hit another bump and Trav looked down at the ink and scowled. "How much longer?" he asked, not impatiently, just trying to guess how long his nerves had to last.

"An hour," Minerva said gruffly. "Got somewhere to go, chief?"

"Yeah. This is sort of a present."

*  *  *

Mackey's pen moved over the paper, making that faint scratching sound he'd come to think of as the mother of music. Words... a lot of them stupid, but some of them real, poured across the page. He loved and hated this part, where his body was screaming at him to let it go and his mind and heart wouldn't stop. 

Right now he hated it. 

God, he was so fucking done with sadness.  It's just...she'd looked so much like him.

Her nose was developing that bridge--almost completely straight. Her eyes were that light brown, almost gold. And when Mackey looked at her, it's not so much that he saw Grant, but that he saw all Grant didn't get to have--and it hurt.

He hated talking to Trav about it. Trav knew-- what good was it to rub that shit in? Trav fucking knew Mackey missed Grant, and he knew that it wasn't even as a lover but as the family member he'd had since he was little. What was the use of telling him that when it was only going to make Trav feel like hell? 

So Mackey tried to put it out in songs, but all the songs felt like he'd sung them before, because they were about Grant, and he didn't feel that way anymore.

He wanted to be high so goddamned bad.

But he sat at his desk and wrote, watched the pen scratch across the paper one more time.

So beautiful, my baby, so much like your Dad
And your every breath hurts me
Through no fault of your own.
I want to possess you, keep you close to my heart
But I'm not your own father, nor the best that you've known.

He tried to hum it, find a melody, and the one he found was foul. He ripped the page off the notebook and was preparing to toss it into the trash can when--

"No! Don't throw it away! That wasn't half bad!"

Mackey half-stood from his chair as he whirled around, and then the chair caught him in the thigh and he bumped his knee. "Fuck," he snarled, grabbing the chair and resting his foot on it, checking out the bruise on his knee. "Blake! Jesus fuck you scared me."

Blake half-laughed.  "You were a little out of it," he conceded. "Trav didn't want you to be alone."

"Trav?" Mackey frowned. "Where'd he go, anyway?"

"Didn't say."  Blake had filled out in the past two years, and he'd shaved his scruffy beard and kept the u-bar mustache, which Mackey had to admit, suited his thin face. When he smiled now, it didn't look like he was imagining a knife in your back. It looked like he was hoping one never made it there.  

"How long ago?" Mackey stood and stretched, hearing the bones in his spine crack. "God! How long have I been up here?"

"Two days," Blake said quietly. He jerked his head in the direction of the desk and Mackey realized there were two boxes of Chicken'N'Biscuit crackers there, one of them opened.  "You wouldn't eat. Hardly spoke. We've been trying to have Christmas without you, but it's sort of awful, tell the truth."

Mackey grimaced. "Hell."  His throat got thick and he turned away. "Sorry, man. I didn't mean to--"

"We all get it, you know," Blake said quietly. "Even me."

Mackey just kept staring out the window.  Didn't even look like winter in LA-- their new slutty neighbor was still out by the pool with her top off. "What'd you get?" he asked Ms. C-cup.

"Sadness. Sometimes you just can't shake it. And you don't want to share it."

"Yeah." Mackey let out a shaky breath. "I didn't mean to worry everyone."

"Well, you did."

Mackey looked up quickly, and Blake didn't look away. Well, Blake had become the truth teller of them, the one who could say what the others were too mired in years of dysfunction to say. 

"You did worry us. It would worry us less if you came downstairs and cried. We could cry too. Do you think we don't miss her? God--Kell and Briony were a fucking mess, and I"ve got the room next to theirs."

Mackey felt a smile wobble. "You miss her too?" It made sense. Blake was the world's best uncle--and now that Sheila was pregnant, he was getting into the act with that one too. He loved buying the kids those little anime toys--Naruto, Pokemon, Blake was right their with the thousand and one stuffed animals.

"I never knew kids before," Blake said, shrugging. "She's my first. And yeah, just like you, sometimes when I really want a hit, just for old times sake, that pissing in a cup thing is the reason I stay clean."

Mackey nodded vigorously. "I want a drink so bad," he confessed, voice shaking.

Blake stood and held out his arms, and Mackey knew he wasn't Trav, but he was Mackey's brother now, and Mackey took full advantage and leaned on him.  He was holding on so tight that he didn't even feel Trav enter the room until Blake pulled away and Trav stepped in his place.

Mackey let out a sob he hadn't known he'd been holding in.

And then another.

And then a whole slough of them, and Trav held on tight, and to his surprise, Blake didn't go away. After a half an hour or so, Heather called up the stairs that she'd fixed them dinner. 

Blake stepped away and wiped his face with his palm. "I"ll go down and tell them you're coming," he said, without waiting for a reply.  

"Are we?" Trav asked carefully, and Mackey looked into his warm brown eyes and nodded. 

"Yeah." He took a deep breath and wiped his face with his palm, just like Blake. "where'd you go?"

Trav smiled faintly. "To do something for you," he said. "I'll show you after dinner."

Mackey nodded, distracted. "Let me go wash up, okay? My hair feels rank."

"It is. YOu're disgusting. But you've got five minutes, Mackey. If you're not down in five, I'll be down for you." 

Mackey nodded, and the only thing that kept him from kissing TRav and making it longer was knowing his breath was probably as rank as his hair.

* * * 

Dinner went well, to Trav's surprise. Blake started out talking about Katy, and how much he enjoyed the babies in the household and how he was glad they were still hanging out together, raising them. Kell and Briony started wondering when they were having another one, and Jefferson and Stevie accused them of showing off. Shelia sat and looked smug and serene and sweetly round at about five months along, and Mackey smiled shyly at everybody, as though aware they were trying their best, and it was good enough.

That night they sat around and watched Elf and Love Actually and Die Hard, because it was two nights before Christmas and the next night was reserved for Christmas Story.  When the movies were done, they made their way up to bed, and Mackey rounded on Trav as soon as they got up there.

"Okay, spill," he snapped as soon as Trav had closed the door to their room.

"Spill what?"'

"You kept poking me when I laid on you--what's wrong? Are you constipated?"

Trav felt his eyes bulge. "Have I ever been--"

"Stomach flu? What?"

"Jesus, Mackey-- how about a fucking tattoo-- are you happy now?"  With that Trav unsnapped his jeans and lifted his shirt, and Mackey's eyes bulged. 

Underneath the saran wrap that Minerva had put there to cover the antibiotics, Mackey would see the same tattoo that he and the other guy's sported. Sort of. The monkey on Trav's hip was a full body shot, and he had his hands in the air and was screaming at a bigger monkey. Who was screaming back.

Mackey looked at it some more, and to Trav's vast relief, a deep, dirty laugh bubbled out of him.

"You did that for me?" he asked.

"Yes," Trav muttered, red faced. 

"That's you and me, screaming at each other like a couple of gorillas."

"Yes, Mackey, that's us. Screaming."

Mackey looked up at him with that rare incorruptible smile.  "You like it when we fight," he said with surety.

Trav's irritation softened, and he smiled back. "I like it when we make up," he said, biting his lip, feeling unusually shy.

Mackey took a few steps closer, and at first Trav was hoping for a kiss, but Mackey did him one or two better. He bent down and opened his mouth, suckling in the tender skin of Trav's stomach and laving it with his tongue.

Trav gasped, and Mackey moved up, to his ribs, and--as Trav tore off his shirt--to Trav's nipple, which he pulled into his mouth and sucked.  Trav slid both palms to the outside of Mackey's stringy, muscled arms and kneaded Mackey's biceps.  Mackey moved to his other nipple and Trav moaned.

"Mackey?"

"Mmm..."

"Baby... let me take off your shirt. We haven't been naked together in too damned long."

Mackey pulled away and lifted his arms and Trav grabbed the hem of his shirt and lifted it over his head. Oh, God, he loved this stringy, bantam little body. Mackey let the shirt clear and then started shoving off his own jeans and his moccasins, and Trav did the same until they were tumbling, naked, on the bed together, and Trav was touching all Mackey's skin as much as he could.

Mackey kept trying to touch, to tease, but he had an unerring knack for poking Trav's tattoo completely on accident, and Trav, out of patience, grabbed both Mackey's hands in his one and shoved them up over his head. 

"Stay," he growled, and the little shit laughed in his face.

"Really?"

"I'm not dicking around," Trav growled. "I want you fucking bad!"

Mackey kept his hands over his head and widened his feet, baring his asshole and his groin and his stomach and his chest, and making himself all sorts of vulnerable in front of Trav--an honor Trav never took for granted. 

"Take me," he dared. "Cause right now, you're all talk---ahhhhh...."

Trav took Mackey's cock down his throat in one thrust, and then, with a quick squirt of lube, shoved two blunt fingers up Mackey's backside as Mackey keened with the sudden, brutal arousal. 

"That all?" he gasped, as Trav deep-throated and fingerfucked him simultaneously. "You think that's gonna do it? A tattoo and a finger-bang and --ahhh..."  Trav added another finger and spread them, and Mackey's ass came off the bed. "You talk big, Trav, but--"

Trav's cock dripped pre-cum, and he surged up the bed and into Mackey's body without any more introduction. Mackey grunt-screamed and lifted his ass in welcome as Trav buried himself to the root. 

Mackey raised one leg--the one not on the tattoo side--and using his heel on Trav's ass pushed down.  

"Impatient," Trav gasped, fucking hard and fast. "You think that's enough? You think your foot on my ass is enough?"

"You told me to fucking stay!" Mackey protested, and Trav looked up and realized that he'd wrapped the sheets in his fists in an effort to do what he was told.  

"Well fuck that," Trav panted. "Fucking touch me, Mackey, touch me!"

Mackey's wicked little fingers went straight to Trav's nipples, and Trav saw red and cried out as he came.  He thrust in one last time and rutted, pumping into Mackey's ass and grinding against Mackey's trapped cock until Mackey gasped, low and dirty, and spilled a long, glorious mess of cum on them both. 

Trav groaned and collapsed against him. Yeah, the tattoo stung like a motherfucker, but who cared? Mackey was there, in Trav's arms, where he belonged.

Ages later, after a washcloth and boxer shorts and a drink of water, Mackey lay with his chin on Trav's stomach and looked at the new ink.

"Why?" he asked after a few moments. "You put it off this long--why now?"

Trav played with his hair, which was still long and layer cut, and possibly always would be. "Because you were sad," he said after a minute. "I would have gotten a hundred of them if I could just hear you laugh again."

"You left Blake in charge."

"I'm sorry."

Mackey's gray eyes searched Trav's in the dark. "Don't be. I think when you're sad, company is company and love is love, you know?"

Trav nodded and smoothed the hair from his face again. Mackey turned his head and kissed Trav's palm. 

"Is it okay if I talk about Grant tonight?" Mackey asked, voice throbbing with stuff he probably hadn't said in two years.

"Yeah," Trav whispered. "Tell me how much Katy looks like him."

"Oh God, does she."  Mackey's voice cracked, but he kept talking, long, long into the night.




Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Solstice/Merry Christmas/Winter Holiday Madness HUZZAH!

So Mate and Chicken arrived last night-- I greeted them with food and hugs and conversation-- and Mate fell promptly asleep at nine o'clock.

Now, Mate usually wraps the presents, but this year he fetched the Chicken, and so, as my own sort of present, I wanted to wrap all the presents FOR him.

It took me all night.

This morning, Chicken walked in on me at my computer at four in the morning.

"What in the fuck are you doing up?"

And like a guilty kid, I stood up and slammed my computer shut.

"Going to sleep."

"Seriously-- go to bed. This is insanity. Go!"

I'm sure she got her drink of water and wondered when I'd grown younger than her. (I remember that day clearly. She was ten.)

This morning, after five hours of sleep, Mate and I went shopping for a last minute gift and then for groceries. I could not seem to stop talking, and everything was fucking hilarious.

"Where are we going?" I asked, as he turned the corner to Beverly's.

"JoAnne's."

"This is Beverly's."

"Oh, crap. Which one is Michael's?"

"Does it matter? They're all middle-aged people with a fixation with hot glue and stickers!"

"You're totally losing it."

"I could open a store called Amy's, and everybody would know what was in it!"

"Yarn and porn."

"Right!"

So, you know, he was part of the madness. But I guess it topped out when we were in the grocery store.

"So I have to get customer service," he told me.

"Yeah, to get toothbrush heads."  I laughed. "That sounds dirty."

"Of course it does. I'll be back."

He got back, and his oscillating toothbrush heads cost $30.

"For three heads?" I asked. (Heh heh)

"Yeah-- that's sort of outrageous."

"I don't know--I charge you fifty and you only get one head."

"Stop."

So I stopped--that conversation abruptly and started a new one.

" I found a new show! It's called Haven, and it's great! The girl has this snarky sense of humor, and the guys are hot, and it's got Eric Balfour and he's sort of morally ambiguous and it's got this other guy who's got the same problem as the kid in Kick Ass and it's got this weird town and these two old geezers and there was this girl in the first one that I recognized but couldn't figure out where from and it's driving me crazy and--"

"Uh, Amy? How many episodes did you watch of this new show?"

"Five!"

"Oh dear lord... when we get home, you're taking another nap!"

"Okay--do you think I should?"

"I think you haven't paused for breath in an hour."

We got home, and one of the things on our errand list had been a pillow form for Chicken, who had bought a pillowcase with her friend's favorite band on it.

"Mom, uh, that's too big--"

"But it was the only one they had!"

"But it's huge!"

"But your pillow case will fit!"

"It's not folded in half--that's actual size."

"So, what do we do?"

Mate asks, "Do you still have the receipt? I tucked it in your pocket."

"No, I threw that away, it was annoying me."

"We have receipts in the car for coffee you bought a month ago and you threw that one away."

"That one was in my pocket, and it was annoying me."

Yeah. He was right. A nap was totally in order. He went to get the small pillow and I laid down and woke up almost sane.

Merry Christmas or solstice holiday everyone. May you have some hope and some joy. If you don't have a Mate or a crowd of people and fur-babies, may you have comfort and faith that your happiness will come.

I have faith for you.

*  *  *

And Winter Ball is now available at Amazon, DSP, and ARe.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Winter Ball

* Note-- I may not blog tomorrow night, or I may blog about Christmas, so this is my intro for Winter Ball, which is available Midnight, December 24th. Enjoy!

*  *  *
A couple of weeks ago, when the excerpt was posted for Winter Ball on ARe, someone complained (they even tagged it on ARe, if you click the link.)  It seemed that Richie calls the guy playing defender for the other team a "linebacker" because he's big and he throws his weight around like a football player instead of a soccer player. This reader assumed that because Richie used the term, that's what I thought a defender was actually called.

Not so much.

Those of you who have followed this blog have watched--for nearly ten years--as I gear up every season to be a soccer mom.

When Chicken was still in high school, we had three kids in outdoor recreational league soccer, and very often in indoor soccer during the off season as well. Now we only have two kids in soccer, but Mate is president of the local soccer club, and while not crazy about how much of my life the game has swallowed up, I am aware of the basic terminology.

And how, in the way all regions twist things a little, my area has twisted soccer.

The thing is, in my last year of teaching, my principal made a tremendous discovery. He realized that our high school was, in fact, a soccer high school. Our soccer players were our student athletes-- we very rarely had to pull a kid out of soccer because of poor grades, when we had the problem with football and basketball all the time.  Very often our soccer players came from soccer countries--I once made a scarf for a student in the colors of Portugal, his favorite FIFA team, and the kids who weren't thinking of flashing gang colors were very often the ones already wearing soccer jerseys from around the world.

Because soccer can be played at all levels. You need cleats and a ball, and you can get a bunch of guys--some of them athletes even-- and there will be soccer play. It needs a field and ready bodies and a willingness to fight for every point.

Tada-- a rec league soccer team.

But the guys playing aren't playing for FIFA-- or even for local league guidelines. Just like the kids my husband coaches, they're playing to play. Some of them will play for two leagues or for school and rec league, just for more time on the field. For the adults, that time on the pitch is me time--time to be competitive and fierce and to feel like the world is in that one strip of ground and you can have the thing you want if you fight hard enough.

Rec league is for sheer stinking joy.

Which is why small guys like Richie would end up trying to get the balls past giant Scotsman who could dropkick small guys like Richie into the opposite goal.

And why Richie wouldn't get booted off the field for calling him a linebacker as sort of an acknowledgment that the guy's heart may have been made for soccer, but his body was more made for football.

But that's okay-- because that's why rec league. Everybody gets to play. Even Skipper, who never thought of himself as an athlete. Even Carpenter, his buddy, who never thought he'd want to be an athlete. Even Richie who is too small or Jefferson or Thomas or Owens or Galvan or Singh or Menendez or anyone else on the team who may not be the perfect player.

Because I like imperfect people-- and that's why I wanted to set a story in a soccer team that wasn't perfect. What mattered was that the team played.

I hope you all enjoy Winter Ball. It's a love story, really, and not a soccer story, although the soccer is a fun part of it. Enjoy the regional differences-- the fact that our rec league teams play on swampy fields in the fall, when other teams play on perfect grass in the spring, and the fact that we say offsides instead of offside, and "the half" instead of halftime and a few other anomalies that have crept into my little corner of the world.

Mostly, enjoy Skip and Richie, who are my favorite kind of heroes-- the kind that makes it up as they go along, and work as much as they can from good and loyal hearts.

And who fuck like lemmings in order to love like human gods.






Winter Ball
by Amy Lane

Through a miserable adolescence and a lonely adulthood, Skipper Keith has dreamed of nothing but family. The closest he gets is the rec league soccer team he coaches after work—and his star player and best friend, Richie Scoggins. 

One brisk night in late October, a postpractice convo in Richie’s car turns into a sexual encounter neither of them expected—nor want to forget. Soon Skip and Richie are living for the weekends and their winter league soccer games—and the games they enjoy off the field. Through broken noses, holiday decorating, and the killer flu, they learn more about each other than they ever dreamed possible. Every new discovery takes them further beyond the boundaries of the soccer field and into the infinite possibilities of the best relationship of Skipper’s life. 

Skipper can’t dream of a better family than Richie—but Richie’s got real family entanglements he can’t shake off. Skipper needs to convince Richie to stay with him beyond winter ball so the relationship they started on the field might become their happy future in real life!

Available at Amazon
Available at ARe
Available at DSP

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

WHARGARBLE!

So, Mate and I got to bed at one in the morning, following Christmas prep, and then, BAM! 3:30 a.m., we were up again.  I dropped Mate off at the airport,  from which he'll fly to San Diego where Chicken is going to pick him up and promptly return him, so she can have some company home.

So when I got behind the wheel of the minivan, it was 4:30 in the morning, and I had 20 miles worth of gas. Anyone who had been near the Sacramento airport can tell you that it's at least ten miles from any useful gas station.

I found one in Natomas, and wearily, DYING for coffee, tried to pump gas.

No gas would go.

I tried again, staring stupidly at the pump like it would grow a mouth and explain why no gas would go.

The pump said nothing.

I went inside and asked the clerk, who said, "Let me ring it up here. How much do you need?"

"Uh... I dunno, how much is cheap gas?"

He gave me the number.

"So what's that times 19?"

We both regarded each other in horror. Holy fucking GOD, we had to do MATHS at FUCK-YOU IN THE MORNING?????

I rounded up one and carried the two and blurted out "$45!" and he made it so.

And I went back and NO GAS GO.

So I went back into the station, and the clerk smiled sheepishly. "Uh... I'm sorry. We just opened. I have a note here that says the truck will get here in an hour. We don't have any gas right now. Here's your refund."

"Ah."

"Yeah, uh, sorry."

"I'll take the bottled Starbucks iced coffee. Thanks. Have a better day."

I got gas about a block down and made my way home. Got to bed around six-thirty after doing some work at the computer and set my alarm for 10:30. My stepmom called at 9.

And laughed at me. "You're still in bed? Don't you have kids?"

"Whargarble! Planes and automobiles at fuck-you o'clock!"

"Oh... well how would you and Mate like a present of a train ride?"

"Sure."

There was more conversation, and I reset my alarm for 11.

It all seemed to make sense you see-- you can sleep on the train.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Dog's Hate Christmas

It's true. Dogs hate Christmas. I know my dogs are totally baffled. We went from walkies nearly every day to being ignored for most of the day. There is no sausage patty from McDonalds, strange shit has invaded our living room cage-match space, and at night, after the mandatory snuggling hour, there is this weird little ritual with wrapping paper and packages that has to wait until the kids go to sleep.

Seriously.

Dogs HATE Christmas.

And I don't blame them. Today I took the kids to the mall (the MALL!) to go shopping, and we have to go back tomorrow because the line for Santa went kersplodey pretty much the minute we walked in. Next time, we're getting there at nine, seeing Santa, and then going home. There may be walkies when we get home--we'll have to see if it's raining.

After the mall there was PetSmart, for new dog beds.  This wasn't just a Christmas affectation-- the old dog beds were pretty much flat to the ground from hard use (yes--the dogs slept HARD this year!)  and we also got a new cat box. (Are you thrilled with my day yet? Because there's a nap coming that'll keep you on the edge of your seat!)

Anyway-- home, nap, dinner, and then Mate and I dragged our sorry asses out of the house at seven at night to go grocery shopping for the candy making the next day.

It took us two hours, and when we got home we were cooked and done.

Or he was. I still had to finish the Christmas letter. And blog. And I've got 2K to finish tonight.

So, whew.

But, the good news is? Dog beds. Like I said. Not just a Christmas affectation. They adore their dog beds.

* * *

And hey! For those of you following the Little Goddess re-release--

Bound, Vol 2 is out today!

Which means that Quickening is one release closer to being out-- huzzah!

Since this is the second half of the third book, I'm not going to post the whole synopsis here--but I am going to put the link for Vulnerable, the first book. Because that's where it all began.

And also! Don't forget that Winter Ball will be out Christmas Day-- there's a pre-sale discount at amazon.com, but I think DSP is also having a sale too. Buy HERE for Amazon, and HERE FOR DSP. 

And enjoy your holidays-- crazy pants confused animals and all!


Sunday, December 20, 2015

D-Day minus five. Or six. Or five. Four? CRAP!

Mate and I finished shopping today while my car was in the shop, and at the moment, we're sort of wandering around, lost.

Did we...?

Yeah-- but have we...?

We were going to do that after, but don't we have to...?

We're not doing it this year, but I still have to....!

Oh, did you want me to...?

Please? But will you have time to...?

In short, we are as we have always been five days before Christmas. Ass-fucking lost.

So, to celebrate the ass-lostness, I'm going to post a few links and some youtube videos and go shred wrapping paper into a giant pile which I can sled down in a plastic box of ornaments.  (I'm lucky to have these things by the way, because the cat almost took out wrapping paper, ornament box, AND Christmas tree in one dopey, addlepated bound.  Mate's heart is still beating fast from that horrible moment of, "If I get up to get the cat she's going to DESTROY THE HOUSE!)

Anyway-- enjoy the random, and enjoy the holiday. I know I am!

This one is dedicated to a poor woman on my reader group, who is living under this as we speak.



This one is VERRA cool, because the kids had just gotten totally addicted to Bruce's version of Santa Clause is Coming to Town, and then tonight, Mate was watching the Christmas SNL and at the end? This came on, and they were like SQUUUEEEEEEEE!!!!



This one is for Big T, who wants nothing more than to watch Love Actually with us:



And this one is for me, because I listened to it about six times driving my newly serviced car home:



And this one is for you, because you can say you know a song by a band that has a lead flautist:



Tomorrow I take the kids to to the mall, with Santa-- so maybe a little more to report :-) Oh! And I'm making fudge for Mate while he does house moving around. It should be... instructional.

Oh! That reminds me--

Chicken sent me this, and I'm going to try it!

http://www.fifteenspatulas.com/no-bake-oreo-truffles/


Check Mate

Okay-- so, Mackey and Trav may yet be on the roster, say, next week? But right now, this is a gift for Mary my Mary, whom I love and adore--for her I'll write ficlets forever and more ;-)
*  *  *

Check Mate--a Gambling Men Ficlet


They walked, shoulder to shoulder, down the streets of San Francisco, both of them imposing and crisp enough that none of the myriad bodies on the sidewalk separated them--or even imposed on their conversation.

The wind off the bay blew fiercely, but they were both wearing thick wool coats, and their stride was so confident nobody would even dream of getting in their way.

Or, well, nobody would dream of getting in Jace's way. Quent was a little more flexible--more like a fox and less like a shark, right down to his still neatly kept goatee, which made his face triangular and vulpine. But Quent didn't mind not scaring people--he'd never felt the need to make people tremble as he passed.

Jace on the other hand relished it. Quent knew--in the past five years he'd caught his husband practicing his menacing look in the mirror more than once. 

When Jase was in a crappy, bear of a mood, Quent could take him back down from DefCon 1 to DefCon 5 by making his eyebrows do that quirking thing that Jace used to terrify people into submission. It was a mighty power, and Quent only used it for the greater good, because he knew if he did it too much, Jase would simply practice another look.

Like right now, when he was trying to intimidate Quent into telling him something he knew better to ask. 

"A video game," he said, voice laden with irritation. "Please tell me it's a video game console. That would be acceptable."

"I hate the things," Quent said before smiling gently at an elderly woman and dodging aside to let her pass. Yeah, doing the "captains of the city" thing felt good from a confidence standpoint, but she'd been using a walker and Quent wasn't that much of a bastard. Jace wasn't really either, but he was bad at paying attention to other people, and odds were good he just hadn't seen her.

"Really?" Jace wrinkled his nose. "How did I not know that?"

Quent let out a sharp laugh. "You hate the things, so you've never noticed we didn't have any."

"Hunh."  Jace brooded. "Is there anything else I've deprived you of?"

"Yes. Living in the closet, boredom, and terminal loneliness. Are we done with this conversation?"

Jace's hand rose up to his short, dark-blond hair, and stopped. Thirteen years together--seven as friends, five as lovers--and as far as Quent knew, it was his only tic. He used to keep his hair cut stubble-close, and he'd had the habit of rubbing his cupped hand over his scalp. He'd grown his hair back four years ago, after their first year together, but that habit of palming his scalp-trim still plagued him when he was thinking. Except if he did it now, he'd mess up his closely cut, blow-dried, product enhanced hair.

"No. I still don't know what the big package is!"  Oh, yes. Jason Spade, stock broker, prodigy, money-maker extraordinaire and scary man in the big dark coat had reached his breaking point and now sounded like a spoiled child. 

Quent cackled. "And that's why we wait until Christmas!" 

"It's in two days! I don't see the point!"  

Oh man. "You still don't know what to get me, do you?"

Jace's growl of outrage was pure frustration. "Every year! Every goddamned year! It drives me banana shit! How do you manage the perfect present, special ordered in fucking November, and I'm racking my brains and end up buying you slippers and robes and shit!"

Quent's laugh rang across the Embarcadero.  Yes!  He paused at a corner and leaned in to kiss Jace's cheek before they continued their stride to work. "Jase, once a year I have you off balance and wondering what's going to happen next. You have me like that all the time. Fair's fair, poker player, and you know it!"

He caught Jace's scowl as they both entered the lobby of their building, and returned it with his sweetest smile. Suck on that Mr. Captain of the City. Quent wasn't going to tell Jace what his Christmas present was and that was that.

* * *

Jace went shopping at lunch, which Quent suspected he might, but he came back looking... odd. He was smiling, but his smile was a tight rictus over his cheeks, and his gait was... off. Strange. Elsie noticed right away.

"It's a stick or a butt plug," she said wisely over strong coffee. She'd laid off the tanning booths in recent years, but she was still stick thin and gaudily outrageous, and her hair was still platinum blonde. She and her mister had managed to get all four of their sons through college, and Quentin didn't think she was enjoying life any less now that her husband was retired and she was heading that way too. He and Jace had provided an awesome retirement plan, so he was hoping they'd RV all over the country and send them postcards. 

But not of Jace with a stick up his ass.

"What in the hell?" Quent asked. "No, seriously-- maybe he's constipated."

She looked at him pityingly. "Quentin, darling. You've only been together for five years--you're too young to be this jaded."

Quent pursed his mouth dubiously. Jace's digestion was... finicky. Forget fruit for breakfast or change when he had his coffee, and they'd all be dealing with the grizzly bear boss until his intestines got sorted.  "But... at work?"

Elsie cackled. "Remember when you two had wild banging sex for half-an hour in the copy room?"

Quent felt heat wash up his throat. Their other employees had moved on or moved up since then, and they had a whole new rotation of stockbrokers and secretaries in the still growing firm. Elsie was the only one there who remembered that--but he had the feeling that she'd told everybody else.

And then he thought about it. "Yeah," he said. "That was... well..."

"A while ago. Quick--go bend over in there now. I could use something to tell the hubs!"

Quent glared at her, but... well, greeting his husband with a passionate kiss wasn't beyond the realm of possibility, was it?

"Tell your hubs nothing," Quent warned. "But I'm going to go see what's doing."

Originally, they'd both had separate offices, but three years ago they'd gotten a remodel, putting both their desks in the same room, just like they'd been at college when they could bounce idea off each other. Jace had joked that if they were any more in each other's pockets, they'd walk down the street with Jace behind Quent, his cock lodged solidly in Quent's ass.

Quent hadn't laughed, because A. The visual had bothered him-- he couldn't figure out if he'd have his pants down to his ankles or if he'd have to cut a hole in all of his slacks, and B. He liked how close they were. Even their poker buddies liked how close they were. Every year Mitch had the big Christmas party where he invited all the guys and their families, but Jace and Quent had the big New Years Eve poker game, where it was just the guys, and any money they had leftover from Christmas.

But, not once, had they ever abused the locking door of their office, not in the last three years.

Quent walked in and very deliberately locked the door behind him. When he turned around, Jace was typing furiously on something at his desk, that desperate tension still in his jaw. 

Quent walked behind his desk chair and cupped the back of his head and bent down, waiting until Jace turned to kiss him, hot, wet, and open mouthed. 

Jace lunged out of the chair and knocked Quent on his back, savaging his mouth with a snarl that left Quent breathless. Quent moaned and licked at the inside of Jace's mouth, shoving his hands under Jace's waistband to have access to his washboard stomach and taut chest, to bathe his skin un Jace's boiling heat.

Jace moaned, seemingly undone by a simple cares, and Quent chased his advantage, pinching his nipples tight and hard, just like Jace liked it. Jace buried his face in the hollow of Quent's shoulder and growled, and his hands went straight to Quent's pants.

Before Quent quite knew what happened, Jace had swung his body around and shoved Quent's pants around his ankles. Jace's hand was fished over Quent's cock and his mouth was working the head, hard and fast, while Quent's brain tried to process going from zero to a zillion in the space of a kiss.

 It didn't work. There was no processing that, so Quent just fumbled with Jace's belt and tried to strip him while working upside down. Jace was making screaming in frustration noises over Quent's cock by the time the pants were shoved down around Jace's shapely backside, and Quent had his mouth wrapped around the engorged, purple and dripping head of Jace's dick. 

Oh God... their arousal was furious and delicious, and Quent kneaded Jace's backside with his fingers, trying to pull that cock further down his throat. And further. And...

What was that?

Jace made one of those out of control muffled noises, and Quent almost came. 

There was a plug in Jason Spade's ass. 

"Oh God," he groaned, Jase's cock slapping him in the face as he spoke. "You want to--"

"Fuck me!" Jase moaned, flopping to the side in a needy pile. "God, Quent... I thought I could wait until we got home but--"

Quent scrambled to his knees and rolled Jace over, just looking at it. Big and pink, it stretched Jace wide--probably uncomfortably so.  

"Oh Lord," Quent breathed, tonguing the skin around it, tasting silicon and lubricant and Jace's sweat. "You bastard."  He pulled the plug halfway out and released it back in. "I said I liked you off balance once a year and--" He did it again.

Jace kicked his pants off, then pulled up to his hands and knees, ass in the air, and bit his hand, probably to stave off the scream. "Yesssss..."  He half-sobbed into the carpet. "I did, and it backfired because I need you so fucking bad!"

Quent had been known to top in their relationship--enjoyed it on occasion. But in five years, he could never remember Jace being quite so desperate. 

Bastard. 

Quent flicked the thing again to watch him squirm. 

"Please, Quent!" Jace begged. "I'm sorry! I'll never try to outdo you at Christmas again."

For a moment, Quent entertained dragging his pants up and forcing him to walk home like this, cock hard in his boxers, ass stretched beyond comfort. But he was begging, and Jason Spade never begged. And Quent was so hard his cock was purple.

Nope-- having Jason Spade begging, just once, to be dominated, and wriggling apology on the carpet-- that was pretty much Quent's Christmas present for the next ten years, because it was never going to happen again. 

With a firm tug--and no mercy at all, Quent pulled the plug out and dropped it carefully on Jace's underwear. 

And then nothing in the world could have kept him from plunging hard and fast into Jace's ass, which gripped him sweetly like the home his cock had never known. 

He snapped his hips forward just to hear Jace howl, and after that, the sex, the sensation, the skin-searing pleasure--that was a blur. He didn't thrust so much as batter, hammering into his lover without rhyme or rhythm, just desperate, desperate to feel Jace contract around him. 

"Quent," Jace pleaded. "My cock!"

Oh man--Quent had been so intent on Jace's body he hadn't actually understood the scene. "Touch it," he ordered, because that's where Jace had been going with this. The one thing that Quentin never got--domination-- was the thing that Jace was trying to give him.

Jace sucked at submission. 

"Stroke it!" Quent urged. "And come, dammit, come!"

On God-- they were shouting sex words at each other on the floor of their office. If Elsie wanted the entire crop of new employees to know they were banging each other, she got her wish, but it didn't matter. Quent needed Jace to come so Jace could go back to being the one in charge.

He cried out in climax, ass rippling around Quent's cock, and Quent's entire body convulsed in the relief of orgasm. Jace collapsed on the floor, sweating, with Quent on top of him.

For a few moments, the only sound in the office was the sound of both their phones ringing insistently. Neither of them answered. 

"God," Jason groaned after a moment. "That was a bad idea."

"No," Quent said, kissing his neck. "That was a great idea. That was just the worst timing ever."

Jace hid his head with his arms. "I... I don't usually... fuck."

Quent laughed, grateful that the days when this would have hurt Jason irreparably were gone. At the beginning, his heart had been so very guarded, but now, Quent was inside the fortress. He got to see this, because Jace let him in."Yes, Jace. We usually do fuck. Just not here."

"I don't usually--"

"Submit." Quent whispered it in his ear like a naughty word. "Yeah. I know. It was a rush." He groaned and pulled out, grabbing Kleenex from the top of Jace's desk to clean them both off. "But... you know..."  Suddenly he grimaced, missing Jace in charge. "Maybe once a year, right?"

"Yeah." Jace reached back behind him and gestured imperiously for the Kleenex. "Give me those. Let's get cleaned up and unlock the door."

"Yes boss," Quent said, smiling hopefully, but it was no good. Jace was still avoiding his eyes.

Oh well.

They cleaned up, five years of being lovers not easing the embarrassment as much as it should. Finally, Jace was put together down to the last cufflink and smooth of his tie, and the offending item was wrapped in tissue and buried in Quent's briefcase. 

They both sat at their desks and tried to catch up the messages that had hit when they'd been fucking each other silly on the carpet, and for an hour, they didn't have a chance to look up so m much as say anything to each other.

And then, finally, blessed silence.

Quent looked up and caught Jace's eye and winked hopefully. "Elsie didn't say anything."

"Thank God," Jace growled.

"Uh, everybody seems to be keeping it to themselves."

Jace didn't look at him. "I'm much relieved."

"Uh, it's a giant chess table with carved stone pieces."

That got Jace's attention. "What?"

"Your Christmas present. You know. I got..." Quest's face heated. "I sort of got mine early, so, I thought, you know, I'd tell you what yours was."

Jace's face went slack with affection. He only looked at Quent that way. "Chess? Really?"

Quent nodded. "Yeah. Well, we seem to have mastered the poker thing. I thought we'd move to something else. I mean, you know, just between us."

The corners of Jace's mouth quirked up. "So... what we just did?"

"I have no idea," Quent said, flailing for the metaphor. "Wait! Wait!" He grinned. "I just took my king. Check mate!"

Jace smiled at him, the warmth and ease back between them that Quent relied on to get him through each day, every day.  "Tonight, maybe a rematch."

"Deal." 

"Can't deal chess, Quent. I think you need to set up the board."

Quent's evil chuckle echoed through their office. "Or, you know... put the pieces in place."

Jace's grin was feral and wicked, all teeth. 

Quent's shark was ready for another bite.




Friday, December 18, 2015

Important

I promise, tomorrow will be Fanfic Saturday, and I swear I'll stick to happy things and Christmas and joy and lightness for the rest of the holiday season. I loathe political diatribes-- I even loathe writing them, although I find myself ranting more times than I'm comfortable with. I wanted to talk about the Force Awakens hat--which came out FANTASTIC, I might add--and pump up Winter Ball which is doing really well. I wanted to chat about the silly season, because I'm enjoying it, and it makes me happy as it always has, and I'm still optimistic about the world in spite of all the "fuckturds driving the world into a tree" (as I put out on Twitter the other night.) But tonight this felt important, and I am going to rant, and just like my other rants, I'm going to ask that this one sit in the void. A "Shalom, Peace," is welcome. "Namaste," or "Blessings" is also welcome. Any of the pronunciations of the word "peace" from THIS WEBSITE  also a good thing. But when I use the vague "politicians'-- I want to keep it vague. As I'm about to point out--everyone is guilty.

*  *  *

It's my fault--I train my kids to take their fiction seriously, and if they're watching something that scares them, I make them go into their rooms or I turn it off.

But we were watching The Hunger Games--and hey! Action, adventure, a love triangle, a really despicable set of villains-- what's not to enjoy, right?

I mean, I knew there were deeper themes at work, and I expected my kids to understand at some point--but my kids are smart, they're savvy--it would be okay.

It was not okay.

Remember the third installation of that series?

Where we see people in bomb shelters during what our politicians refer to as "carpet bombing"?

Where we see what happens to people not in shelters?

Where we see children bombed in hospitals?

Where we see our hero, the gentle Peeta, tortured in a military facility?

We see poison gas.

We see abuse of the media and propaganda.

We see PTSD, untreated and unpitied.

And children with weapons, told it's okay to kill.

And those children grown up, distorted almost past humanity.

We see genuine human emotion twisted by people who know how to manipulate, and we see it poisoned.

In fact, we see pretty much every thing my country, the country my children live in, whose politics are broadcast on television and over the internet, seems to think is okay.

My country is proposing carpet bombing. Is teaching its unsophisticated citizens to hate, via the media. Has bombed hospitals. Has given the okay to torture. Has justified and manufactured heinous, hideous weapons in the name of science. Has allowed its heroes to languish, untreated, suffering madness, disease, or worse.

My country is advocating to arm all its citizens.

Is okay with children growing up and spewing hate.

Abuses propaganda for the sake of the show, and ignores the politicians who are not running a circus.

And my children see this. They see the adults turning the news off when the daily mass shooting is reported. They see us turning to the comedy channels because we'd rather mock the monsters than actually contemplate the horrors they could visit on us if they're given power. They see us whisper, "We're liberals. We don't like war. We don't like racism. Islamaphobia is not okay. When Grandpa says give every kid a gun, that's bullshit and don't listen," because we know that if we speak louder, in our neighborhood that could be dangerous.

It's dangerous to speak what we see to be true--and even if it wasn't, the fact that it's dangerous to speak our opinion--well, that was in the movie too.

Squish got to the end of the movie and realized that Peeta might get better, but that he was never going to truly be okay.  And she knew that bomb shelters and destroying cities was real and had happened in her lifetime.

And she cried. Because even a nine year old can see that fiction can be real and painful and frightening, and that we should learn from the fiction so we don't have to live the nightmare in fact.

How come she can see it, but so much of the rest of the world is blind?

I did not blog tonight because...

A. Squish had a choir performance.  She was lovely--and I'm pretty sure she sang the loudest of anyone there.









B. I had a hat to finish. Which I did. It's really large and DAMN me for making gauge assumptions. I knit REALLY LOOSE to accommodate the way Fair Isle tends to schwack your knitting in together, and the result is a hat that can fit me (or would if I wasn't a large woman with a freakish amount of hair.) However, I am (oh please please please...) running it through a warm rinse cycle before blocking, and even though it's super wash wool, I'm hoping it will have the same effect as "whopping".  (I had never heard of this, but then I read an essay in which a guy's wife "whopped" his blocking sweater with a spoon, and apparently it helped the stitches magically align like stars.  Magic--I hope--without the spoon.)  Anyway-- with a teeny bit of luck, it will be mostly dry by tomorrow, and since drying wool doesn't lose any heat, ZB will be able to wear it. Or I'll lose my fucking senses and throw it into the dryer because I have NO PATIENCE especially when I want him to be able  to wear the one thing I made him in forever.

Anyway-- in case it falls apart to become really expensive time consuming lint, here are my pictures.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Things

Okay-- so it's getting close. I admit it. And not all my shopping is done, and I'm still thinking I'm going to make my January deadline and my kitchen table is terrifying.

That being said, there were a few Christmas things that caught my attention today.




#1-- Wayne Newton's approach to Christmas certainly has changed since I was a kid-- but it's nice that he can still get it up.

#2--The dogs seem to think that their morning ride is a punishment of some sort. MAYBE if we didn't lose our SWEATERS the cold wouldn't suck so much balls, yeah?

#3-- This lovely wreath was made by a family friend from withies she cut from her own backyard. It's simple and beautiful. And no-- I don't make stuff like this anymore, because I have yarn and there's really only one craft that sucks my attention enough for me to keep going. But it's lovely that I know people who can do this!


#4 Might be the reason you don't hear from me tomorrow. It's the "Force Awakens" hat, and I'm almost done, and I promised ZoomBoy it would be done in time for him to see the premiere this weekend. It's not easy, what I just did--I just thought I should mention that.  I promise that a picture of Zoomboy in the finished hat will be forthcoming.

#5 On the way home from dance, this song came up on our Christmas list. The kids and I listened to it twice, singing at the top of our lungs. (I put a live version up, since it's always great to see Bruce and the gang perform.)



#6 Mate and I planned fudge today. FUDGE! *purrr*  Okay. It's official. The holidays are coming--I can't stop them, so I'm going to enjoy them. Right next to the creepy Christmas songs that feature an omniscient Santa and words like "godhead" and "warrior" when talking about baby Jesus. Who says nobody believes in magic anymore?





Unnnnnnnnhhhhh...




*** When you realize your son still has three paragraphs of his paper before he gets to go to the King's game.

*** When you realize your kids' reading room with the great couches is named after Ben Carson, a horrible politician and a really awful human being, and your son thinks that's okay because he can separate conjoined twins.


*** When you realize Donald Turnip is STILL IN THE NEWS.

*** When you realize your oldest daughter is using you to whine to, and for no other reason.

*** When the dogs won't let the cat come in and you have to get up ten times to make it happen.

*** when you plan to go swimming tomorrow and realize it's going to be 48 degrees but your body demands it.


*** When you realize you're less than halfway through the hardest part of your son's Star War's hat and it needs to be done by THURSDAY.

*** When you realize you had planned your day around NOT going shopping but both kids need cookies and candy canes for the next day.

*** When you realize the kids haven't practiced dance and they have it tomorrow.

*** When you realize you have to go to bed anyway.

***When you buy a pie for the kids and eat it yourself.

***When the dog leaves a "present" for you next to the dirty laundry.

***When the cat leaves a "present" for you in the shower.

***When you come to the conclusion that there's just not enough time.

* * *

So, when do YOU Tina?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Catching Up

She's SNORING in my EAR. 
*whew*

Well, you guys really seemed to love the Dex and Kane short yesterday, and this makes me really happy. I think I'll do another one this Friday with another couple. I've done Jeremy and Aiden on Amber Kell's blog in November, so maybe not them, but, well, you know-- which couples would you like to see, if I'm going to write a ficlet on Friday?

Let me know!

Also today, I updated my website and added an Amy's Lane-- click HERE for the website update.  Winter Ball is up for presale EVERYWHERE, so feel free to indulge!

Anyway-- I was going to work out today, but I had to get the refrigerator people to come pick up the old refrigerator, and I thought they were coming today. So, I did laundry, updated my website, added my quotes to the Winter Ball page on Amazon, (It's up for presale) and generally spent one of those really productive days that often come at the sacrifice of exercise.

If I hadn't walked a mile, I'd feel REALLY bad about myself, but as it is?

I'm working on a kickass story called Fish out of Water, I signed my contract for The Virgin Manny (previously Tamale Boy and the Spoiled Brat) and Mate and I almost-- that's ALMOST--have Christmas taken care of.

We have the lights up and the tree, and Big T's bday went very nicely.  Dinner at Wong's, a cherry pie from Marie Calendar and Christmas decorating-- how can you lose?

Oh! And the Force Awakens hat is coming along nicely-- I'll show pictures when it's done and not before, because right now it's looking a little big for Zoomboy's little noggin. That's okay-- hopefully, he'll grow.

But if you look above, you'll see my usual working conditions.  I didn't capture the other dog in my shirt, but, well, this one's bad enough.

And she really is snoring in my ear.