Green's Hill-Amy Lane's Home - News

Thursday, May 23, 2019

A Very Important Award

So, kids are... inefficient communicators.

ZoomBoy got a note that said he should be at the awards ceremony tonight. "Oh, you're getting an award?"

"I don't know."

"What in?"

"I don't know."

Mate and I had eyeball conversations. "He's getting an award?"

"I don't know."

"What in?"

"I don't know."

But we went, right?

We're thinking, "Well, his grades weren't great, but he's good in English? No. Hm. He did that thing in drama...  But he didn't get a medal. God, whatever. He's getting an award. Yay, ZoomBoy!"

So I told my stepmom. I said, "Yes, you should see him dance, too. He loves being on stage so much--he looks so grown up. It's freaky how disciplined he is with his body when he dances."

"That's impressive... he's, uh... you know..."

"Made of elbows?"

"Right?"

So, anyway. Mate, me, Squish (because she had a feeling there would be food afterwards and she didn't want takeout), and ZoomBoy. And we're looking at the screen which tells us which kids should walk up in small groups for which awards.

And there's his name.

Sophomore. PE.

Mate and I look at each other. "Really? He's made of elbows! Our kid? I mean... OUR kid?"

But apparently he had a GREAT attitude and worked hard to do what the teacher told him to and only lost two points in March because he was cracking too many jokes.

He was the only 10th grader NOT to piss off his PE teacher, and we couldn't be prouder.

"You like that medal?" we asked.

"Yeah."

"You want to earn another one?"

"Yeah."

"So... about that 2.8 GPA.  Got ANY IDEAS HOW TO FIX THAT?"

"mmmm...aybe...."

Well, it's a start.

It was, after all, a very important award.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Well, We Made it Home!

Of course coming home is always the best part of the trip for me--but seriously, that was some trip.

Chicken and I got there Monday night, found some food, did some chill and fell asleep. Tuesday we were all about the French Quarter, including the ghost tour which was SO worth the money-- our guide was Toast, and he was pretty rocking'.

Wednesday we started out with the Feminist Swearing tour of the quarter, which my friend Kayla gave, and that was spectacular--I want her to write it down-- her stories--and the inimitable craftsmanship that went into telling them, could be a whole cottage industry for her. She's amazing.

So, Wednesday evening, the BookLovers convention started, and Chicken was there as my PA, but that didn't stop us from having loads of fun. While she passed out swag to folks in line and made sure the things got to the place, and oh Glory Hallelujah organized our luggage, the two of us knocked around the French Quarter several times, and we drank coffee and watched movies at night when we were too tired to think and too strung out to fall asleep.

It was wonderful to have a companion.

Anyway--

Book Lovers Convention was very very much fun. The consensus was that the reader events were much more in depth--and a wonderful reader experience. I hope I get invited back next year, but even if I don't, I really do treasure my time there.

If you look through the pictures you'll see some awesome pictures--Bru Baker, Annabeth Albert, Rayna Vause, Damon Suede, Tere Michaels, and Kate McMurray all make featured appearances, as well as the gods of the signing, and a few of yours truly.

Our flight got delayed last night, so we spent about six hours at a hotel and got home this morning around ten--and in spite of a long nap the rest of my day has been sort of a daze. So I may get back to you all with con stories later (maybe not--it's funny how those stories are GREAT to talk about AT the con, but at home they leave people who weren't there with glazed eyes and an intense need to sleep) but I will leave you with a couple of pictures.

The last picture is super dark--it looks like I totally blew off a great chance to take a spooky picture of a haunted cemetery after dark.

Then you realize that some of those bright spots have no light source, and there's a shadow in the middle that keeps changing shape.

Yeah.

The ghost tour was everything and more.




Friday, May 10, 2019

The Eternal Box

Squish had a parent/teacher meeting today--or rather a "Student Led Conference" wherein she showed me all of her work in her classes and what she was most proud of.

She's very clever, and I, of course, am very proud.

But on the way home, Squish said, "Mom, why do you have to call me Squish still."

I said, "Mostly because I still call you that on social media. Because I want to protect you and your brother until you're old enough to be on your own social media."

She nodded. "That's fair. I can deal with Squish."

Her brother said, "And I can deal with being the Eternal Box."

My brain froze.

About three weeks ago, a teacher gave him a big cardboard box for reasons he keeps trying to explain but I am not getting.  It was a prize of some sort. Go figure.

Anyway, ZoomBoy wrote, "The Eternal Box" on the front, and then walked around school wearing the box and saying--in a sepulchral tone that gave him gravity, I suppose--"I am the Eternal Box. Ask me your questions and I will answer."

And people asked him questions.

Now the part of me that still remembers being in high school thinks this is hysterical and awesome and sort of amazing. It's like he's crafted his own sci-fi character out of cardboard and cheek.

The part of me who had that damned box in my car for two weeks as he begged to wear it to soccer games and family gathering wishes we'd left the fireplace intact because I have a suggestion for how to make the damned box not so eternal.

And then ZoomBoy got an idea. (Right? We've seen this movie. It doesn't end well.) He wants the Eternal Box to be his senior prank. (Yes, this is in two years, why do you ask?)  He's like, "I"ll put on my box and stand up and preach the word of the box and the entire senior class will put on THEIR boxes and say 'All hail the box!'"

And again, my inner high school student thinks this is GENIUS. I've told other high school students about it and they smirk and nod and say, "Damn, I wish I'd thought of that--that's GENIUS!"

Mate keeps asking him if he hit his head while he was wandering around blind in the box, and he's like, "No, no, I'm fine. I'm the ETERNAL box, right?"

So anyway, ZoomBoy wants to be The Eternal Box in social media and I'm like, "When you can type that yourself--right now ZoomBoy is long and complicated enough."

He's like, "That's fair. But did you tell everybody about The Eternal Box?"

I sigh. "Sure, hon. I'll do that tonight."

We didn't get a picture--but we can get one tomorrow. Because the damned Eternal Box is sure as shit not going anywhere.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

A Cure for the Derpies

Today, I was listening to an audiobook as we were waiting for ZoomBoy, and I was engrossed--like, totally engrossed. ZoomBoy jumped in to the car and suddenly sputtered.

"God, Mom, can I throw this out? This tastes awful!"

"Sure, honey-- wait! No-- that's the dog water! Wait--"

"You couldn't have told me before I drank it!"he complained.

"Well I didn't expect you to drink it! Here! Drink this!" I handed him the ice water I bring with me when I pick the kids up--they're always thirsty and so am I.

"Oh no!" he cried. Then, he held his hands to his throat and said in a cartoon voice, "Help me! I want to lick your face! I need to jump up! Who are all these people! I need to bark at them! Why am I not sitting on your lap! No! No! No! Help me! I have the--"

"Derpies!" I laughed, because he was doing a spot on impression of Geoffie if Geoffie could talk.

"I have the Derpies!" he said. "There is no cure!"

"Are you sure?" I asked. "Maybe if I stop and get you a slushy, that would cure the Derpies?"

He perked up and dropped the Geoffie impression. "Sure. Could you also get me some chicken tenders, because I also forgot my meds and I'm starving."

"How about you, Squish--you want a slushy?"

"No, I'd rather have an ice cream instead. Wait--can we get a McFlurry?"

"Yeah, sure. One cure for the Derpies coming up. I had no idea McDonalds was into modern medicine."

So now you know the cure for the Derpies. Also, don't let your kids drink the dog water. It's gross.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Most Dangerous Part of My Body

So I almost broke the house with my ass this morning.

I was really having a sort of weird day. I was having my morning "meeting"--which I am used to having in long, blissfully uninterrupted private.

I got interrupted three times. Once by a phone call, twice by the pest control guy. The thing with the pest control guy was that he couldn't get close enough to use his organic pet friendly spray on my house--there was a miserable amount of road construction going on outside.

As in, there's a six-foot deep, four-foot-wide trench in front of my driveway, and for the last two days we've had to ask guys to lay down a big iron panel so we can drive out.

Also, they get there at 7:30 which makes them all bastards. ALL. All bastards. Now you know.

So, no pest control today, and my morning meeting was meetus-interuptus and I had to go ask the guys ripping up our road if, uh, I was going to be able to take the dogs to the park.

They said, "Yeah, sure!" and I was like, "Okay then. I'll go in and try to find a bra."

But when I got to the door I realized that I'd closed the locked door behind me. So, yes. I locked myself out of the house.

Anyway, this normally wouldn't be a problem-- the back door slides open and we don't lock it when the animals are going in and out--especially because it's been nice outside. Even with the pet door, we still leave it open a little for some fresh air.

But, uh, remember that pet door?

Well, it's made the entry into the house... smaller.

As in, the KIDS have trouble getting in and out of the back door kind of smaller.

And I had no choice but to squeeze my fat ass into the house via the sliding door. Which I almost took off the rails. I got in--much the same way I managed to use the shower in that Air BnB I stayed in when Andrew, Amelia and I got stranded in Virginia, and let's just say it took some human origami and leave it at that.

But it's true. My ass almost broke the back door. MY ASS ALMOST BROKE MY HOUSE.

I got back inside, and managed to get my act together to take the dogs walking, but my luck was still a little wonky when I got back--I had to park a block away which just sort of wrecked my timeline for making it to aqua zumba.

I guess on the plus side? There's such a thing as aqua zumba, and it was FABULOUS.

However, I don't think it made my ass even a teeny bit smaller.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

We're so damned classy, I can't believe it...

So, Mate took the kids to a special dance practice today so they can perform at the Rivercats stadium this Friday. (For the record, that's the trifecta of things to do this weekend when I'm supposed to be packing. RiverCats Friday, Soccer Saturday, Mother's Day Sunday, pack Sunday night. I thought I'd mention that.)

Anyway--I stayed home and worked, with the door open ever so slightly to let in the fresh air, and the dog parked right in front of the door, polluting said fresh air.

It was horrible. The stench would hit me, I'd look down at the dog, and she'd be looking soulfully back as though *I* was the one who had tried to gas us both.

I complained about it on FB, and as though she could sense me complaining about her, she got up and ran away before I could take a pic of her "look of shame" but I have proof. The family got home about forty-five minutes later and Mate took two steps into the door and said, "Oh my God, who farted?"

IT WAS THAT BAD.

Anyway, bless
Mate, he brought food--Adalberto's carne asada burritos are the best, but they're pretty big, and they're all meat. I cut mine in half to save part for tomorrow, and went to microwave some brussels sprouts to offset all that meat. Of course, we started talking about the dog and her stench-o-rama and as we did so, ZoomBoy laid on the couch and pet her and she clambered all over his body and then made herself comfy in the "gas chamber"-- that spot that forms right under your ass and behind your knees.

"Careful," ZoomBoy warned her. "That's a dangerous place to sit."  And then--because he's a 15 YO boy and can fart on command--ripped one. And another. And a third.

Dog didn't move. Dad laughed. "Are you kidding? She sleeps there next to mom every night--you think you've got game!"

"Yeah," I told him. "I'm afraid you're weak shit--"

He burst out laughing--and breaking more wind--and the dog ran for safety.

And at that moment, Mate says, "Would you stop it? The whole house is starting to smell!"

And at that moment, my brussels sprouts dinged, and ZoomBoy says, "Nope--that's not me. That's mom's chicken farts."  Because I'm the only one who appreciates brussels sprouts apparently, and yes, that is what the family calls them.

"Yeah, that smell is chicken farts," Mate said, judging the air. "You need to get those, before they kill the dogs."

*sigh*

You do realize this is dinner conversation. And the only reason Squish wasn't there to participate was that she got home and fell into bed, right?

Anyway, for the record? The dogs are still trying to kill us, ZoomBoy's gas is worse than mine, and the buttered chicken farts were delicious.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Some Promotions are Good For the Soul

So, I've discovered as I progress that I'm actually not an island. I am, in fact, part of a NUMBER of writing organizations--and I've been blessed.

So two of my groups have promotions going on and I thought I'd talk about them.

The PRG--

The Paranormal Romance Guild is having a membership drive in May--and they're a WONDERFUL organization that supports independent and self-published authors. They review your work, promote it, and generally help the newbie author feel not so alone. And they've been WONDERFULLY supportive of the LGBTQ community--I've watched this group blossom from a few lost souls on amazon.com going, "Wait-- there's got to be another way to promote ourselves besides being on the forums!" to this amazing organization.

So come check out the PARANORMAL ROMANCE GUILD--not just Paranormal, but definitely a group of folks intent on furthering their craft!



The next thing I'd like to promote is the annual Keith Milano Foundation that promotes mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Denise Milano Sprung is an avid reader--and a grieving sister. She has promoted an event for the last several years in which authors give a portion of their proceeds for a specific book to the Keith Milano Foundation for suicide prevention and I've been a part of this every year. This year I'm promoting Bobby Green, because Reg's sister suffers from untreated schizophrenia. For those close to me, you know that V's story comes from my own experiences with family members--right down to some of the most outrageous moments. So Bobby Green is close to my heart--I've ripped open a vein here, and I'd love to have it do some good.






If you'd rather just donate to the source, by all means--VISIT THIS LINK HERE-- and see all of the places that your money goes when you donate. Denise and her husband are good people, and they've worked very hard to combine Denise's passion for romance reading and her desire to see that no other young man has to lose his life to mental illness. They're a force for good, and I'm proud to promote my work to help them.



So there you go!  Two promotions going down this month, one of which can help new writers, and the other of which readers and writers can help!  I'm always surprised when I realize how many people I know--and how many people I"ve cheered on and have been cheered on by in return.

Happy May, everybody!



Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Ass Deep In Alligators--a riff

Okay, so the number of things I'm working on is outnumbered only by the number of things I SHOULD be working on but can't get to.

A. Editing Fish 4

B. Finishing Fall Games

C. Writing the class for Fiction Haiku

D. Answering an e-mail that's two weeks overdue

E. (laughs hysterically) Newsletter that's six months overdue? Holy Goddess is it SIX MONTHS OVERDUE?

F. *lapses into weeping* Update my website? *chokes on a laugh/sob*

G. *hysterical laugh cycle starts again* I LEAVE FOR NOLA WHEN?????

H. oh dear god. I HAVE ANOTHER BOOK DUE ON JUNE 15TH!!!

I. *waves hand* *speaks through full mouth* Don' min' me...mmmmm jus eeemin sum oo'ies... *wipes crumbs*

J. *stares into space* Wait, don't I have to come up with a worksheet too?

K. I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH SWAG!!!!

L. Oh my God, my workspace is a mess. Isn't it a mess? Who thinks I should clean my workspace RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.

M. Yeah... I'm just going to lay here and play a phone game and pretend that other stuff doesn't exist.

N. Oh shit. Like, shit. As I was composing this I remembered I have a blog tour when I get back from NOLA.

O. Amy can't take your call right now. Please leave a message and she'll get back to you when sanity returns.

We call this condition "ass deep in alligators" or "neck deep in nematodes" or "eyeball deep in iguanas" or "pit deep in piranhas" or "cock deep in crocodiles" or "brain deep in barnacles" or please... somebody... help me...

Just don't send the zoo.

Methinks I'm already there.


Monday, April 29, 2019

Kermit Flail-- April/May HURRAY!

YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!

I'm so excited to be back with Kermit Flail!

I'll admit-- this spring has just WHEEEEEEEE!!!! Gotten away from me, and at the beginning of April, I hadn't sent out any notices and everybody else was just as busy as I was so we all just sort of spaced Kermit Flail altogether.

But I was ready for this month--so ready it's out a week early, but given I'm getting ready for Book Lover's Con and am up to my ass in alligators again, I'm calling it a win!

For one thing, I'll be honest. String Boys is coming out. Yeah, sure, it's the end of May, but I'll be signing String Boys at Book Lovers, and it's a story so close to my heart. For once, I'm looking forward to the promotion behind this book--it came about in an interesting way.

But String Boys isn't the only book on the list! Let's look at some of the exciting new offerings we have!



R.J. Scott is a romance world LEGEND. Most years I participate in her blog hop for autism in April (this year was an exception and I missed being a part of it!) She writes heart wrenching romance with lovable characters, and she reached out to me to promote a really good deal! Her Harrisburg Railers are on sale at Amazon--and only available for ninety days. Changing Lines is the first of the series, it's available at a bargain, and it looks like exactly my kind of catnip--by all means come check it out!


Changing Lines--and the entire Harrisburg Railers series--on sale from Amazon exclusively!

Can hockey phenom Tennant show coach Jared that age is just a number, and that love is all that matters in this May/December love story? Read book #1, for only 99c, in the bestselling Railers MM hockey romance series which is filled with family, humor, team dynamics, hockey action, unforgettable characters, steamy bedplay, and a guaranteed happy ever after. The
complete six-book Railers series has today gone Amazon-exclusive (also available to read for free with your Kindle Unlimited subscription), but it’s only staying in there for 90 days, so catch it before it’s gone.

Changing Lines (book1), on sale at 99c - “… Hockey, age-gap, best friend's brother and strawberries! …”

Can Tennant show Jared that age is just a number, and that love is all that matters?

The Rowe Brothers are famous hockey hotshots, but as the youngest of the trio, Tennant has always had to play against his brothers’ reputations. To get out of their shadows, and against their advice, he accepts a trade to the Harrisburg Railers, where he runs into Jared Madsen. Mads is an old family friend and his brother’s one-time teammate. Mads is Tennant’s new coach. And Mads is the sexiest thing he’s ever laid eyes on.

Jared Madsen’s hockey career was cut short by a fault in his heart, but coaching keeps him close to the game. When Ten is traded to the team, his carefully organized world is thrown into chaos. Nine years his junior and his best friend’s brother, he knows Ten is strictly off-limits, but as soon as he sees Ten’s moves, on and off the ice, he knows that his heart could get him into trouble again.

BUY HERE


Pat Henshaw is one of the members of the QSAF-- the Sacramento based writer's group I attend. She's written articles for All About Romance and has generally mentored as many young writers as she can. Her newest, The Thaw, promises to be touch on her favorite motifs-- the good and the bad of finding romance in a rural setting, where being yourself isn't always as easy as it could be.




The Thaw

by Pat Henshaw

Thirty-three-year-old gay farmer, Vladimir Wozniak IV, lives for his crops and the hard work that makes them profitable every year. Five miles up the road, former rodeo bull rider and rancher, Thomas Sullivan, is just as committed to his corn-fed beef. Once best friends until VJ kissed Tommy during freshman year in college, they stopped speaking when Tommy rejected VJ.

Ten years later, after the country doctor who helped bring them into the world dies and his will names them as co-owners of property, they decide to check out their inheritance to see which one wants to buy out the other. As they travel down memory lane through the Doc’s correspondence and visit familiar sites on the land, they work their way back to friendship—and beyond.

BUY HERE 


Saffron Blu is an avid reader and a writer of her own romance fiction. She gave me a heads up for this charity anthology, Love is Love, which promises a delightful variety of short stories. Please check it out!


Love is Love

Anthology

Love is Love charity anthology.

A LGBT charity anthology, with a collection of 12 new never released before romance stories.

Each story is standalone and complete.

Also including two bonus stories previously released.

Support the LGBT community around the world.

This content is for mature audiences only.

•Being Me by J.A Melville
•Affirmation by T.L Wainwright
•Finding Zaide by Kim Deister
•Hardware by Lucy Felthouse
•Against the Odds by Kacey Hamford & Amy Davies
•L.O.L - Loving Only Leo by Kamisa Cole
•Take the Chance by C.H. Thomas
•Break Away by Saffron Blu
•Fight by T.a. McKay
•The CEO’s Secret by Callie Vegas
•Collateral Beauty by S.M Phillips
•Coming Out by J.F. Holland
•June by Skye Turner
•September by Skye Turner



Diana Waters is new to me--but she writes fantasy romance and that's one of my all-time favorite things! Please check out Kaidyn's Courage--it's a Romeo and Tybalt sort of story, which is always a delicious trope!


Kaidyn's Courage

by Diana Waters

Kaidyn is the son of the queen and a trainee officer in the kingdom of Sareen. He is also a Half-Blood—his father is from Iskandir, a neighboring kingdom which has been at war with Sareen for many years. Bitter and angry at the prejudice he faces, Kaidyn meets Sorin, a healer from one of Sareen’s most prominent noble families. As their relationship deepens, the war between Sareen and Iskandir grows worse. Not only will the pair inevitably become involved with the conflict one way or another, but Sorin is also hiding a secret, and time is running out for them both.


B.L. Maxwell is another Sacramento native, and whenever we see each other at conventions or through our writer's group, we talk about the vagaries of our little stretch of earth. This story looks particularly poignant to our area--I know my own father has a thing for motorcycles, and my stepmom rides them too so they can make it to shows and club functions together. The blurb for Ride gave me a little *ping* in my heart region--this one could definitely strike some chords!


Ride

by BL Maxwell

Kace Hallard leaves Sacramento, bound for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, something he and his fatherhad always planned to do together. When his father realizes he won’t be able to make the trip, he makes Kace promise to go on his own. 

He takes off, not sure he’s up to the challenge. When he has mechanical trouble a few hours away from home, he questions his choice even more. 

Striker Johnson is just out buying lunch for the guys at the shop when he notices the handsome stranger in the parking lot checking over his Harley and looking confused. He approaches him and offers his help. 

The next few hours fly by, and Kace asks Striker to join him. 

It’s the trip of a lifetime for them both, one man looking to ease his grief, the other riding toward emotions he has no hope of controlling. One way or another they’ll have to decide if they ride together or separately, when life throws them one more curve.


Tinnean is known for quirky humor and outrageous sci-fi and fantasy. Surviving the Apocalypse: Long Leggity Beasties appears to be no exception, and with a lovers reunited them going on in the middle of the beasties, it promises to be action adventure fun!


Long Leggity Beasties

by Tinnean

Dark deeds are being done, and Jenn Canaday, a special agent with the FBI, has been assigned to look into them. This takes her to New Mexico, where cattle are being rustled and people are going missing -- one of them the niece of the state’s governor.

Meg Parkinson is a sheriff’s deputy in the small town of Laurel Hill. She and Jenn had once spent a steamy week together, but then Jenn had sent her away, something Meg hasn’t gotten over, as reluctant as she is to admit it. 

When Meg notices that the homeless camp on the edge of her town has become deserted, Jenn is brought into her vicinity to aid in the investigation. Will the former lovers be able to work together? Can they rekindle the flame that had once burned so brightly? And will they learn what’s behind all the disappearances without disappearing themselves?


Kim Fielding is another inmate, I mean resident of Northern California. But Kim lives in nearby Turlock, which is seriously in the heart of the valley. All of her Bureau stories donate their proceeds to Doctors Without Borders, and this is a series that I've been dying to sink my teeth into. (I've bought the first couple, and they're on my towering TBR list!)  So, if you want to lick the cover-model's abs, you may have to buy the book instead--just remember, the money is going to a GREAT cause!



















Chained

by Kim Fielding


An agent for the Bureau of Trans-Species Affairs? That’s the best job in the world. And it’s enough for Terry Brandt, who doesn’t need personal relationships complicating his life. His newest assignment puts him undercover, investigating a Hollywood agent who may have some evil tricks up his sleeve.

Edge is not the man he appears to be. Although he’s a member of the Hollywood agent’s security staff, his true situation is darker and deeper than that. Ordered to seduce the new prospect, Edge finds himself caught in conflicting loyalties.

Haunted by their pasts and tied up in secrets, neither Terry nor Edge can afford to allow passion to interfere with duty. And with danger dogging them, it’s impossible to envision a future together.




And String Boys.  Two years ago (was it only that long?) Squish was in the choir and we were all assembled in a shitty auditorium with cracked floor tile and broken sound tiles on the ceiling and a stage full of splinters to hear her perform. Before the choir sang, however, we heard the band--and in addition to the band, there was a group of nine boys who had been grabbed by the collar coerced threatened convinced by their teachers to play one of nine donated violins. The boys called themselves "string boys" and as I sat there, listening to a not-bad rendition of "Three Blind Mice", I looked at the earnest faces of those boys and this story emerged, in its entirety, from behind my eyes. I knew who Seth and Kelly were before I left the auditorium, and I carved out two months from a packed schedule to write their story. I love this book. I wrote Seth and Kelly as diverse as the population in my children's school and I love them fiercely. I hope you all give this one a chance.


String Boys

by Amy Lane
Seth Arnold learned at an early age that two things in life could make his soul soar—his violin and Kelly Cruz. In Seth’s uncertain childhood, the kindness of the Cruz family, especially Kelly and his brother, Matty, gave Seth the stability to make his violin sing with the purest sound and opened a world of possibility beyond his home in Sacramento.


Kelly Cruz has loved Seth forever, but he knows Seth’s talents shouldn’t be hidden, not when the world is waiting. Encouraging Seth to follow his music might break Kelly’s heart, but he is determined to see the violin set Seth’s soul free. When their world is devastated by a violent sexual assault and Matty’s prejudices turn him from a brother to an enemy, Seth and Kelly’s future becomes uncertain.


Seth can’t come home and Kelly can’t leave, but they are held together by a love that they clutch with both hands.


Seth and Kelly are young and the world is wide—the only thing they know for certain is they’ll follow their heartstrings to each other’s arms whenever time and fate allow. And pray that one day they can follow that string to forever… before it slices their hearts in two.



Friday, April 26, 2019

The Bottom Five

Okay--

So I wasn't doing much today-- or rather I was busy but I didn't care who saw me.

Walk the dogs, go to the post office, pick up the kids, go grocery shopping, cook dinner-- that sort of thing.

Nevertheless, I did draw the line at that one wardrobe item...

I mean, battered T-shirts--yes.

Gym shorts that double as parachute pants? Why not.

There's always the three identical sets of capris that need to be pulled up from the middle of the waistband ala Kung Fu Panda, at least three times every five minutes. Sure. IDGAF.

But the backless white gym shirt that hugs my white-bread-and-sugar belly, shows off my Hawaiian flowered bra, and reads "Better Sore Than Sorry!"

THERE'S where I draw the line.

The thing is... it's brand new.

I've NEVER worn it.

But getting the urge--and then quickly losing it before even the dogs could see me--made me wonder.

Hey-- why did I decide to buy that anyway?

I mean, we ALL have wardrobe brainfarts, right? Who among us has not shelled out $60 for a dress only to have your husband wash it with something red so that we can never wear it again because dammit, the Tardis was not MEANT to be a gentle blue-tinged pink.

Okay-- that example may be a wee bit specific.

I'm just saying-- with great wardrobe freedom comes great opportunities to buy something we wish we'd not.

I mean, I have an entire era of shirts that have tacky jewelry sewn into the front bib because that was the thing then. I can't bear to give them away because they're barely worn, but I can't really wear them NOW because they make me feel like my grandmother. And, let's face it, that one tank top is my favorite and I'm never giving it up, ever, I adore it, you'll pry it out of my cold dead hands.

But you all know those clothes--the clothes we'll never wear but we're embarrassed/can't bear to part with?

The pants that keep falling down and no belt will tame them?

The white organza beach wear that will show every dimple in my ass as well as my purple flowered granny panties?

The adorable rustic overall dress that hugs my belly just a tad tightly when I sit down?

The what-was-I-thinking Goth Lace dress that doesn't work with a single bra I own?

C'mon, folks--I"m baring my closet to you here. It's your turn.

What are YOUR fashion regrets?

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

More adventures with boys and gas....

So Sacramento usually has one transition week between winter and summer--one real "spring" like week, where the weather is perfect 75 degrees, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the weather is A-OK.

Yeah-- that week happened when we were in San Diego--too bad, so sad, it's 93 or higher from now on, this is our life now.

Anyway-- that gives some context to our ride home.

I've got the air conditioner on because HOT and we're listening to an audiobook and the kids are like TAKE ME TO WATER but all silently.

And the audiobook is really good--it's romantic suspense, and the cops are after a teenager who didn't do it and...

And then there's this smell.

This TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE SMELL.

But the audiobook is on and is the kid going to get caught and suddenly Squish, ZoomBoy and I are rolling down our windows and letting the blast of hot air wipe us out.

And the smell goes on.

The voice on the speaker pauses, the chapter ends, and Squish goes, "ZoomBoy, if that was you, keep your window down or get the hell out of the car!"

"Hey! Don't blame me, blame the ham! It's getting hot back here!"

The audiobook starts again, and for a minute, we all think about rolling our windows up again.

And change our minds.

And anybody outside the car at that intersection got a healthy dose of murder mystery--but only if they survived the stench.

So when ZoomBoy comes out of his room tonight as I'm doing Avengers Swag Assemble and Squish is doing homework, it's only a little bit funny when he goes, "This is a test of the Emergency Flatulence system. This is only a test."  And then proceeds to do armpit farts.

Because if this was an actual Flatulence Emergency, it would have been followed by screaming, gagging, retching, and the whole lot of us attempting to flee from the living room by any means necessary.

But now you see why we needed the test.

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Truth About Steve

Ah, returning to normal is a pain in the ass. Why can't we just work out in the pool and read ALL DAY? I used to think that's what this job was all about, but now there's sending letters and making decisions and... *grumble*

Anyway--

So, this evening, ZoomBoy came and gave me a hug as I was working. He said, "So, did you notice Steve, trying to get us to open the screen door when the pet door is RIGHT THERE?"

And I said, "Okay, so, there's something you need to realize. I know when you look at her, you think of Steve as our beloved pussycat. You think, 'Oh, yeah, sure, she hides in the darkened bathroom only to dart across the hallway, claw your ankle, curse you out, and then disappear.' But that's nothing, right?"

"A personality quirk," he agrees. "Like stealing your money before spending it."

"Exactly. But the truth is much more sinister. The truth is, that underneath the ten pounds of severely allergenic cat hair--"

"That sticks to all my clothes."

"Yes, that. Underneath that, and the fleas that no amount of flea treatment can vanquish--"

"Is that where those bites are coming from?"

"We have some aloe and lidocaine on the counter. Anyway, aside from the head-butting you in the boobs at three a.m. if she doesn't have food--"

"Mom, that's only you."

"And the clawing in the arm in the middle of the night--"

"She got my nipples once. She wanted my pillow."

"Well, you're blessed. Anyway, aside from all of that, there's something else you should know about our beloved pussycat."

"Hit me with it."

"She will try to convince you that she is neglected. That nobody loves her. That she has been ignored and shunted aside for the entire day, only to be passed over in favor of the hated dogs."

"She's singing the song of her people even now."

"Well, you should know that our beloved pussycat is a LYING SACK OF FUR. I've been petting that shameless whore all fucking day."

"Understood."

"You may need to pet her too. She's still out for our ankles."

"Understood."

"Pass the word on to your sister."

"Definitely."

I work for a little while, and then I hear from the bedroom, "And you should know that Steve the cat is a LYING SACK OF FUR."

Because I'm a good mother and I warn about the shit that will happen.

Simply a lovely day...

I admit, one of the things that has changed over the years is my complete obsession with taking a thousand pictures. I am much happier in the moment than behind the camera--and the kids have grown big enough that they don't change from week to week. However now that Big T has a new girlfriend, who hasn't been obsessively recorded, I have an excuse to take bad pictures to share my joy, and she picked up Johnnie who apparently had found his soulmate and, well, it's a lovely picture.

I had to share.

I warned the kids--we were getting back late (around nine-thirty last night) and I was not going to be up to the full court press Easter. I promised a modest Easter basket--and that's all they wanted. The highlight was a Target gift card and chocolate bunnies and a few favorite sweets--but apparently, that made them happy.

This morning my parents invited us over for brunch, and that's when I got to see Big T and Alyssa--and she got to see the chickens and meet the horses, and I have to say her delight was mine too.

After that, we came home, everybody napped... well, okay. I napped. That was me. Sorry. Anyway, there was quiet time during which the ham cooked, and then when I woke up, Chicken was here to take chocolate for herself and the roommates--and, of course, to eat ham.

I also cooked brussels sprouts which will be forever known as "chicken farts" to my family, and they were DELICIOUS and I will continue to cook chicken farts in olive oil and romano cheese because YUM.

Next time I'm trying brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and bacon. Also yum.

Anyway--

It was a quiet day, but we managed Easter, and tomorrow is school and three weeks from now is NOLA and it's all good.


 Oh yes.

And there was yarn.

This made me so happy.

I can't even tell you.

Friday, April 19, 2019

A few notes on travel

 Wow.

It's funny-- we keep saying, "We're just going to go down there and relax," but, uh, we seem to be doing an awful lot.

Monday was a little scary-- ZoomBoy had a fever and as nice as the time share is, I was thinking, "Okay, gonna spend a whole lot of time here."

But Tuesday we drove up the coast and spent a bit of time at the beach and went out for pizza, which was pretty awesome.

Although, while at the beach, ZB chivalrously chased a group of seagulls and a squirrel named Rigby away from someone's picnic, and they got revenge.

Seagulls--Francis in Familiar Demon said it best: Garbage birds.

Anyway-- so Wednesday we went to Balboa Park which is lovely, but it is apparently even lovelier on a spring day. First I dragged the family through the Timkin gallery, which was apparently something outlawed by the Geneva convention and I was unaware.  Now I know. By the way, there is nothing--and I mean NOTHING--more embarrassing than having your coffee, erm, hit your digestive system while in the bathroom in a fine art gallery.

When people are knocking.


And you're left shouting, "I'll be out as soon as I can! The toilet paper isn't coming out as it should!"

Yeah. We classed the joint up, can you tell?

Anyway-- Balboa Park was all the things-- the Natural History museum, the arboretum, the rose garden, and the smaller fine art museum. (The larger one was closed on Wednesday--much to the fam's relief.) It was food trucks on a bright afternoon and music and an overpriced gift shop and the kids being awful and yet delightful at the same time.

Wednesday was a good day.

Today Mate took me to a yarn store.

A REALLY nice yarn store. ( www.yarningforyou.com if you are interested--their stock is sublime.) I bought a few things--including their mascot--Bruce and punk rock Bruce. Their store brand is called Bruce's revenge and I bought some STUNNING colors in that, and, well, a good day.

After that we went to a craft brewery restaurant (Stone Rippers, I think) for Mate, and he might have gotten away with just a taste flight of beer and called it a day, but there was a glitch with my meal, so they refired it (and took it off the bill) and offered Mate four more tasters and a 10 oz of something called Arrogant Bastard in a gesture of "good will".

We were feeling the good will, and I drove us back.

Which was fine.

Mate found a back way that had not a damned thing to do with 5 and we called it good.

And then we came back here and I kept working on "essentials bags".  Now, I have four of them made, and I was going to stop at five and one for Squish. What they are is a bag just big enough for a cell phone and a wallet and keys-- or a trade paperback, which is how I'm going to give them away at Cinema Craptastique. I sort of love the simplicity of these bags, and how three colors can be used in myriad ways for something unique and useful. I've left little slots in the straps to weave in earbuds--if audiobooks are your thing--and I'm pretty pleased.

Anyway--I'll write up the pattern for Yarn Magazine I think--I already have a story to go with them and their theme this quarter. Yay!

Now tomorrow is the beach again and maybe a baseball game. I'm sort of hoping now. I want to be good and rested up for the trip home on Saturday.

I really want to see my dogs again.











Monday, April 15, 2019

A wee bit busy...

Okay-- so social media a little thin on the ground in recent days.

Let me give you a rundown.

We left for San Diego yesterday around eleven o'clock.

Friday, I got the kids home and cleaned the house a little.

Saturday Squish had soccer and then we cleaned the house did laundry and Squish napped because she was sick and then we got dressed and went to my stepmom's surprise 70th birthday party, which was themed in the 70's so we all wore 70's themed clothes.

It was a lot of fun--as the picture in the bus proves, and Big T's picture with his girlfriend as well--but we got back at ten o'clock at night and THEN we had to pack.

We packed... and I use that term loosely because apparently I just threw stacks of folded clothes into a bag and hoped for the best.

Then we got up at 8, I took the dogs for a walk (babies! I hate leaving them home! Chicken is watching them and staying at the house but BABIES!) and then we packed the car and loaded it up and...

Left.

I... was not feeling great. The kids were... not feeling great. Squish in particular was hacking up a lung every two minutes.

But Mate got a time share in Solana Beach and we figured we weren't going to do more than hang out by the pool and read and maybe work. I mean, Mate did taxes today--and turned them in, which I am very impressed by.

But by this afternoon ZoomBoy had spiked a fever and is feeling shitty even with medication.

And I'm thinking that tomorrow--when we'd planned to go to Balboa Park to see a museum--may have to be put off until the day after.

And when I get back, I'm gonna be eyeballs deep in prep for BookLovers.

Anyway-- if it seems like I'm a little distant, it's because I'm a little far from home.

but I will say this.

I've been listening to Audio Books in the past week, and as crappy as I felt on the way down here, Jim Butcher's Grave Peril-- which is fun for the whole family and only a wee bit PG-13-- sure did help make that trip pass better.

I think I"m officially a fan.

I'll try to have pictures tomorrow!



Thursday, April 11, 2019

And... kids.

So, I made this sort of handy thing-- a pouch for my wallet and phone while I'm walking which has the earbuds stitched into it so I can stop losing them and they don't get tangled. Trust me, this is all a big deal for me, because I'm a dork.

Squish wants one.

Now, you need to picture my entire house is full of yarn.

FULL. OF YARN.

"Mommy! Can I pick the yarn for my phone pouch?"

"Yeah, sure. But it's coming last--I'm making a few for BLC."

"Okay-- what yarn can I pick?"

"Well, the stuff in that one bag is okay, and the stuff over in that box, or--"

"How about this?"

She pulls out one skein of four--four skeins for a completely planned sweater I have been thinking about for her sister.

My brain breaks.

"Uh... okay... I mean... anything else there--"

Picture the saddest most depressed face you've ever seen.

"No, no," I say. "That yarn is fine. Excellent choice. I'll do zig-zags."

She lights up. "Thank you Mom!"

And I'm calling that a parenting win.

And also...

Squish was working on a school project today during TV time. She kept asking us things like, "What's a synonym? What's an idiom? What's a metaphor?"

I'd paused TV to answer her and her brother said, "So... tell me about MacBeth."

Now, Macbeth is a sore point with me and ZoomBoy's school-- Chicken's teacher taught this play, and I'd taught it for something like eighteen years.

Chicken's teacher did a particularly shitty job of it.

I don't care how much hot shit you think you are as an AP teacher, you don't spend a week on Macbeth in high school. If you do, you're doing it wrong.

So, I start telling ZoomBoy about Macbeth, while Squish waits for the pauses to say things like, "Is dastardly deeds an idiom? Or is it alliteration? Can you give me a metaphor that will fit with a ladies finishing school for spies? I'm doing this as a report on Gail Carriger's series. What about an idiom?"

I pause in the middle of explaining how Birnam  Wood came to  Dunsinane to tell Squish, "If you want your daughter to triumph in a dog eat dog world, enroll her in our finishing school and she will bloom into the stoutest of roses, with thorns dipped in blood."

I finished Macbeth and both kids looked at me.

"How was the idiom and the metaphor?" I asked.

She gave me a smile and a thumbs up.

"It's like you're a writer," she said, batting her big blue eyes.

"Or taught English for twenty years," ZoomBoy added.

"You know, like storytelling is your jam."

I bowed.

When Chicken was in fourth grade she asked me, "What's chlorophyll? What's photosynthesis?" and I gave her the answers off the top of her head.

When I was done, she said, "How do you know that."

"I'm an English teacher," I said, because words, definitions, natch, right?

"But this is science, Mother!" and then she proceeded to check my answers against the back of the book which is where she should have been looking shit up in the first place.

I have to say, this evening did a lot to take away the sting of that moment. True story.


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

ZoomBoy ho!!!!

A short post tonight--I spent some awesome time chatting with a friend over Skype so awe could crochet-- believe it or not this was a big deal for me!

Anyway-- ZoomBoy.

Today Chicken and I went to Target today to buy chocolate.

Almost completely chocolate--for kids. For fun. And Easter. Because I won't have time the week before Easter to shop.

Anyway-- we hit there, and then we hit the grocery store. and then we got home and Chicken had a place to go afterwards, and I was DONE.

Anyway-- we walked in the house and I called for Squish and ZoomBoy to come help put away groceries. ZoomBoy--being the good kid he is-- came charging down the hallway, sounding like a herd of elephants.

So we heard that sound... followed by WHOOSH! THUMP! CRASH!

"Oh my God, ZoomBoy--are you okay?"

"ALL SOCKS ARE STUPID AND SHALL DIE!"

Followed by a wadded up sock, sailing across the living room.

He ran outside to empty the car, leaving Chicken and I blinking.

"Alrighty then," I said.

"All socks are stupid and shall die," she said. "I can buy that."

So, now you know.

All socks are stupid and shall die!

A little moment of being married...

So, Mate and I stayed up late tonight to watch the last two... who am I kidding. The last four episodes of Hanna. 

We loved it, you should see it, but then I loved the original with Billy Crudup (I think) as Erik Heller as well, and, well, Joel Kinnamen, be still my heart.  Also, Mirielles Enos was really interesting to watch as she see-sawed back and forth between redemption and commitment to hell. And Esme Creed-Miles was a pure delight.

So, we were looking up the actors in the end, and Mate was like, "Joel Kinnamen... what was that series we saw him in? The one with the detective that was really emotionally closed off? Wasn't that The Killing? She bothered me--she just didn't resonate as a mother... a lot like the character in Hanna, in fact--"

And we both said it at the same time. "It was the same girl!

And that was how we figured out that Joel Kinnamen and Mirielles Enos had been in two series we really enjoyed watching, as reluctant partners/antagonists.

Go us!

And then, after the movie, as I was coming back from the bathroom, I stepped in something.

Pretty sure one of the dogs threw up, but there I was, leaning up against the wall, begging my husband for a towel.

"Why?" he taunted. "They're your dogs!"

"Please! I don't want to track glop between here and the kitchen!"

"Fine."

He had to pass me in the hall, and I was pressing up against the wall and he was hip checking me and squashing me and I'm thinking, "I swear I"m not that big!"  and then he got past and as he was rooting through the closet (and I still had my face pressed against the wall because I was trying to keep my foot up and I needed the balance) he said, "You know, there was plenty of room."

"You suck," I said.

And he laughed for the next ten minutes as I cleaned that mess up.

Mate and me--it's not billionaires and heiresses and super-hot bathing suits--but it is uniquely us.


Monday, April 8, 2019

Birthday Parties





I have to admit--I'm mom-the-suck at birthday parties.

For Chicken, once, we invited half her class ice skating and only got family.

For Big T, we had all of family and friends here to break a piΓ±ata, and it turned out the piΓ±ata was his friend and seeing it broken sort of ripped his little heart into pieces.

For ZoomBoy--well, honestly, all we've ever had to do was invite one or two kids, and let him play Legos. SOCIALIZATION ACHIEVED. So bad example.

For Squish, it's been hit or miss. Honestly, in recent years the kids have been asking for things like, "Let's go to  Wongs with Grandma and Grandpa!" and Mate and I have been all YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!

Because Birthday Parties have an entire list of things to do that I am unequivocally bad at!

Like, two years ago, we had to pack the car for a tournament AND ZoomBoy's birthday party at a race car place.

You may remember this one--not for the party, but because it's when Mate dropped his phone down in the sewer with the Clown from It--and then brought in a ladder to fetch it out. (We had video of that too--mostly of my big fat ass in the way as we were waiting for Mate to get out of the sewer. Turning twelve or thirteen or fourteen or whatever did not make ZoomBoy a fantastic cinematographer.)

Anyway-- if it hadn't been eclipsed by, well, the phone in the sewer, my incompetence would have been star of the show. I forgot everything. Napkins, drinks, a cake knife, plates. Mate's friends all showed up and we were eating cake off napkins with our fingers.

Classy.

Everything from who to invite to how many to what are we going to feed these people to dear God let it  not happen in my house of crap, not now, not when I've been under deadline for an ENTIRE FUCKING YEAR.

So anyway.

Back to Saturday.

Birthday party in the park.

First, let us count the things that went wrong.

*  It was windy and shit was blowing off the tables.

* Chicken was sick--and she was supposed to bring her brother, two of Squish's friends, and herself. Mate and I had to fill in the blankets--and bring her Gatorade because she was REALLY FUCKIN' SICK.

*  Family friends bailed leaving us with way too much food.

* Her friend's little brother accidentally wiped out an entire tray of sandwiches, which I guess was okay since we were down five people, but, well, they were the premium sandwiches and there went dinner. (One of the things I'm proudest of is the way NOBODY yelled at him. Not a soul. Not my parents, not me, not Mate, not any of the girls waiting to be fed. The kid was seven and it was an accident and he felt stupid and bad and you could read it on his face. We told him it was okay, shit happened, and there was an entire other tray and cake. I mean, poor kid. He doesn't eat much, himself--but he knew we were looking forward to leftovers and that must have sucked.)

*Two of the party people bailed, but that left us with five adolescent girls who apparently thought a picnic in the park followed by walking to Starbucks was the bomb.

* Apparently it's okay for people just to abandon their children in the park for hours on end, because in spite of the fact that the party was supposed to end around three, maybe four-ish, we were still there at a quarter til six, waiting for that last parent to come get their kid. Frankly it was getting cold, we were all sunburned, and the dogs were frickin' done.

Oh! Speaking of the dogs...

I'm not sure if that video is going to work on this platform, but you can check my Instagram or my FB if you like-I need to tell you how that happened.

So, I got there around one, and Mate and Squish had picked up the two kids and were decorating. They also brought the dogs, whom Mate had tied to the wagon--and it seemed to be working.

But when they saw me, they all went, "MOMMEEEEEE!!!!"  And started to pull at the wagon--and it broke free!! We all laughed, because it was unexpected, and later, after everything was set up, I had to  go to the bathroom.

And the dogs wanted to follow me. Squish was holding the wagon so they wouldn't go anywhere and I said to Mate as I was walking away, "You know, we should capture that on film."

Because it's three Chihuahuas towing a wagon like the Chiwhowhat Iditerod--and how is that not HILARIOUS!

So we did.

But anyway--

I digress.

Finally that last kid went home.

And Squish felt like it was a party well done, and I'm so relieved.

Because I felt like it was potential parental disaster from inception to execution, and holy rockets, Batman, I can't believe we pulled it off.

You know what?

I'm thinking maybe we'll make going to Wong's a RULE rather than an OPTION from here on out.

But Squish had a good birthday. Excuse me while I go have a controlled swoon now!




Friday, April 5, 2019

A Break? Anyone? Anyone?

So, I am frequently in awe of the universe giving to you exactly what you need whether you ask for it or not.

I do a lot of long-term planning--and believe it or not, for all my SQUIRREL! tendencies, it was a thing I was pretty good at even in my teaching days--as long as it was work related.

Financial planning? πŸ˜‚  No.

Home improvement?  πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ As. If.

Family planning? πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚  Stop it, you're killing me, no, no, no more, please, I'm gonna pee.

But planning a unit six weeks out so the kids would end up giving their paper/projects before the final?

You betcha.

Organizing the unit so the students simultaneously learned a new essay technique in conjunction with the literature they were reading?

Aces, man, I was the QUEEN.

And looking at my writing queue and my deadlines and knowing what's going to make me late and how fast I have to write and all of the shit in the way personally between now and when my next book is due?

I passed up a King's game last night in honor of a deadline two months away.

But... some of that drive comes at a price.

So, for instance, Moon/Fish, which was part of Fish Out of Water 4 and needed to be included in the manuscript? Well, that put me a little over.

And I was stressing. So stressing.

Because I'm starting book three of Winter Ball--this one is Dane and Carpenter's story, and people have been asking me for it for a long time. And it needs to be done... uh... well... very very soon.

But I couldn't... focus.

Couldn't start.

Was sort of wandering around in prose. So many books I want to read... so much I want to knit... so much I want to do around the house... and I couldn't... couldn't quite... couldn't quite start this fucking book.

So today, my drive meter just sort of... broke. Lots of pressing the gas, spinning my wheels, no going.

Instead, almost compulsively, I read my own damned books. Back to back. Winter Ball and Summer Lessons. And you know what?

Those books are really sweet.

Funny, but they both have that oomph! moment to the solar plexus when you realize that this might not be high stakes emotional poker from the outside, but the guys IN the story have literally bet their hearts.

They reminded me of something I needed to be reminded of--funny stuff can be meaningful.

I mean, you have to understand. I just wrote, in a row, String Boys, Paint it Black, Warm Heart, Fiction Haiku and Fish on a Bicycle. That's starting in August of last year.

So in six months I wrote over 450,000 words, and three of those books were long, complex, and put me through the emotional wringer--and one of them was like nothing I'd ever written before, and one of the hardest things I've done with my brain and my writing, period.

And suddenly I had to dive back into this light, snarky, funny, sweet world of everyday average guys.

It was the weirdest thing. I wanted to read... well I've got a TBR list a mile long. I wanted to be reading ANYBODY'S BOOK but my own.

But I read both those books, woke up from a second nap, and wrote 1000 words of Dane and Carpenter.

Words I liked.

Color me stunned.

It's funny how sometimes, when you don't schedule a break for your brain, your brain schedules a break for you.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Squish is 13

Squish was maybe two months old when I started blogging. I changed blog names when she was a year, but I remember that I wasn't working and I was writing and I had nobody to tell about my day. I was FUNNY, dammit. I had OBSERVATIONS. And I needed to blog.

And blogging became all sorts of things--advertisement, random fiction, whining about my job (at the time), whining/bragging about my kids.

And behind all of the things it was, there was also the ticking of the clock. Squish was only a little older than the blog...

So Squish is thirteen on the third.

THIRTEEN.

And she's a LADY. She's also a snarky teenaged pain in the ass who rolls her eyes at the drop of the hat. But she's also kind. And she had an eclectic batch of friends, and she's different and funny and oh so clever.

I've called her my dessert baby for thirteen years and she's still... dessert. She still makes me happy. Squish, Chicken, and I can banter for hours. I mean, I'm sure there will be mother daughter things to come, but right now, Squish still likes me and I am baffled and pleased.

She's beautiful.

She's at the King's Game with her father-- he upgraded his tickets so they're near the arena and he had her name up on the marquis.

He belatedly asked me if I wanted to come with ZoomBoy in the regular seats, but I had work to do. Besides--she has a birthday party on Saturday (when it will HOPEFULLY not rain on us, because we're at the park) and you can bet I won't miss that. (I will miss her play for BLC, but she's been feeding me guilt in small doses since she was cast so I think I might be mostly immune by then.)

But I still think of my career in terms of Squish. I was working on my third book when I was in labor with her. She was four when I was pulled out of my teaching job and started writing full time. She was five when I took my first business trip and got on a plane all by myself.

She was nine when Bells finaled in the RITA awards--one of the first three LGBTQ books to do so-- and she and her sister stayed up late to send me Leonardo DiCaprio GIFS when Bells didn't win. (As a friend said, "DiaBOLical!" )

She was eleven when her big brother came out as bi, and we hauled the entire family cross country and she grinned in every picture.

She was twelve when she had her ass-length red hair bobbed to her shoulders, and we all realized she'd grown up.

And she's thirteen today, and she looks so much like a young lady it makes my heart ache.

She's still my Squish. She'll always be my Squish. But I can't call her Squish on the soccer field or at school anymore, because I'm trying to be a good mother.

And the last thirteen years have gone by so fast--so very fast. And as surprised as I am to look in the mirror to see that I've grown older, I am more surprised to look at my children to realize that they are growing up.

My baby isn't my baby anymore.

She's a young woman, and she wants earrings and high heels and she needs to know how to shave her legs.

It's not fair. I actually had time when this set of kids was growing up. I volunteered in their classrooms. I've worked backstage in their theater productions. And it still went so fast.

Happy Birthday sweetheart. You are the family's bright moment, a bit of serene loveliness among a bunch of screwballs who often let their own snarkiness run away with them. You are the grounded steady happy child who has always pulled us back.

We love you more than words can say.

You're a teenager now. People have been waiting for you to take over the world since you were born.

Goddess help us--you're more than ready.

Monday, April 1, 2019

MoonFish--Surprise Visit--Part 8--FINALE



*pant pant pant*


So this is it. It was supposed to be a "ficlet" but in reality, it's about 15K--so a full out novella. Now honestly, I don't think this is publishable because too much relies on things from other books, so it's still going on the back of Fish on a Bicycle.

But one of the fun things about following me on social media is you get to see it now.

Enjoy!

Surprise Visit!--Part 8

Jackson couldn’t keep his eyes off monstrosity dangling over his head.

“Really?” he asked nobody in particular.

“I was about to say the same thing,” Ellery muttered, staring in the same direction. “I mean, apart from being hideous—”

“It’s gonna fall on our heads and kill us all?”

The hideous thing in question was a large plywood rainbow arch, painted in neon colors—badly—and suspended about thirty feet off the ground using nylon cord in the branches of trees, and a cherry picker. Besides looking garish and unhealthy, it also looked… precarious. Damned precarious.

Jackson looked at Ellery, and they both looked at his mother, who was lingering over a table of admittedly lovely blown glass baubles that had caught her eye.

“We need to get her away from this thing,” Ellery said, and Jackson nodded in return, his blood running just the tiniest bit cold. This had been the longest four days of his life—but he was damned if it would end with Lucy Satan’s blood on his hands.

He gave the sign, which read, “Crafty, Free, LGBQT!” another dubious look and caught a flash of something shiny from a gap in the cherry picker.

Fucking aces.

With a shake of his head he turned towards Ellery’s mother, who was charmingly terrorizing the poor blue-haired waif behind the counter.

“So, these were blown by your wife? That’s wonderful. Is that her there?”

“Yes ma’am.” She nodded at a tanned, wiry woman waiting on another customer. “She’s been learning the craft from her uncle since she was in high school.”

“Well this must be her calling. And did you make the felted bags they go into? Because they complement the artwork so very well.”

Blue-haired waif smiled weakly and looked toward her wife, who was not in rescuing position. “Thank you,” she squeaked. “We, uh, like color.”

They did indeed. The glass globes were done in a variety of techniques, from color diffused throughout the glass, to the kind that looked like flowers in the center, to the kind with abstract shapes drawn throughout the sphere, the colors undulating and receding with the angle.

Jackson smiled and winked at the poor woman, not talking because he sort of got that wasn’t her thing. Instead he peered at the artwork, as fascinated by the colors as Ellery’s mother seemed to be.

“Which one do you like?” Lucy Satan asked, and for once he didn’t get defensive or snark at her. For one thing, the girl watching them was fragile, and she might not get that with them, being bitchy was a bit of a dance.

“Mm…” Jackson ran his finger down one that was a cluster of white and ebony flowers, with hints of green. “That one’s very Ellery, except it’s a little girly. But pretty.” He smiled at the waif again. She smiled back gratefully. “This one…” He had to reach out and touch it. The colors were rich brown and bright magenta, and they reminded him of his sister’s hair. Back before it had been a thing, Jade had found a way to put a strip of that bright puplish pink in her rich brown hair. She’d done it as tightly kinked curls, she’d done it as waves. Even when they’d been in high school and she hadn’t had the money to get her hair “done”, she’d bought a box of something totally inappropriate for her hair and combed it through her tight mahogany-bronze ringlets. The dye had lasted until her next wash, of course, and she’d needed to cut the ends off because it had fried them completely, but she’d loved that color.

His sister of the heart—he’d put her and her boyfriend through a lot this past year. And she hadn’t wavered, not once. It had been her idea to break off the on-again-off-again thing between them—which was good, because they’d both fallen in love with other people. But she was a lesson—a true good lesson—in how love, real love, wasn’t something you could just fuck away.

“This,” he said thoughtfully. “Reminds me of Jade.”

“It does indeed,” she said.

Jackson risked a look at her, and she was regarding him thoughtfully.

“Did you and Ellery decide on the office?” she asked, catching him by surprise.

“The one on F street.” He sighed. “The parking is going to suck, but you know, he really loves the inside.”

“And you’d do anything for him, wouldn’t you?”

Jackson nodded. “Well, yeah.”


She patted his hand. “I appreciate the two of you, doing what I asked this week. Not asking questions.” She let out a little sigh, and he wondered if she was as tired as he was. “I think I was asked to come here because you and Ellery could handle this situation, and Ellery’s father…”

“Is too sweet for words.”

She gave a throaty little laugh. “IT’s really so very much easier for us to be in danger, isn’t it? Than to let our loved ones be?”

Jackson nodded, and out of instinct, he looked up at the cherry picker.

Burton was standing up and sighting somebody in the cherry picker!

Jackson grabbed Ellery’s mother and wrapped his shoulders around her, hating that she was six inches shorter than he was, even in her pumps. With a quick look around he saw Ellery, standing under the sign, head cocked like he couldn’t’ figure out what in the hell Jackson was doing.

And beyond him, he saw a motorcycle, veering toward them, ready to go up and over the sidewalk and into the crowd like it was out of control.

From far away, he heard Burton shouting “Rivers, get down!” at the same time he said, “Ellery move!”

And then…

Burton had never almost frozen in his entire life.

He’d had them all in his sights. The happy little family, looking at doo-dads, Ellery standing a few paces off, apparently entranced by his mother and Rivers making nice. Wasn’t that fucking adorable, right?


Then Jason had spoken up in his earbud. “I got Charley One, repeat, got Charley One. Charley Two is inbound motorcycle, heading east down K street. He has no options, repeat zero options.”

Uh oh. Bad guys with zero options often got desperate. Burton disregarded invisibility and stood to spot the motorcycle when he saw two things.

One was Jackson, wrapping his body around Ellery Cramer’s mother, and the other was Cramer, standing right in the way of the motorcycle straight toward him.

And then the third thing. The big assed nylon cord, the granddaddy of sailor’s knots that held the entire hideosity of a sign up from this side.

He screamed, “Rivers, get down!” at the same time Jackson screamed, “Ellery move!” and then he prayed for timing and pulled the cord.

Ellery didn’t give a shit what everybody was yelling. Jackson was protecting his mother bodily and Ellery had to go help him. He lunged for the two of them, knocking them both to the ground just as the giant piece of plywood swung down and knocked off some poor asshole on a runaway motorcycle that was heading for the craft fair.

The cycle went sideways and slid across the concrete, coming to a stop about a foot away from Ellery’s backside as he lay on the ground, feeling foolish. The rider—wearing black leathers with a yellow helmet—got unsteadily to his feet and was reaching around behind him for something when suddenly he fell to his knees, and then on his face.

Ellery’s eyes went wide as a thin trickle of blood came out of his helmet and a gun went skittering across the sidewalk.

And out of nowhere, an ambulance pulled up.

Jackson and Ellery’s mother were still climbing creakily to their feet as the ambulance guys—no medics Jackson or Ellery had ever met, and they knew this beat pretty well—gathered the cyclist up and put him on a gurney without even taking off his helmet. Given the lack of movement as a whole, Ellery suspected the helmet was probably holding all the cyclist’s brains in, after the bullet had liberated them from the rider’s skull.

As they clambered to their feet and checked for bruises, Ellery caught Jackson looking over their heads and nodding, before going back to making sure Ellery’s mother and Ellery didn’t have any scrapes.

Jackson, of course, had bloodied his elbow going down, because Jesus Christ, that man.

As the crowd started muttering to itself and stopped looking for police—who didn’t appear to be coming—and nobody noticed that the motorcycle had just seemed to pick itself up and drive away—Ellery looked a question at Jackson.

“So….?”

Jackson shrugged and smiled wearily—and then jumped and checked his pocket. “Uh, so, Lucy? We can go the fuck home now.”

For a moment Ellery’s mother sagged, looking a little older, and a little fragile, and a little like she’d actually needed that protection after all.

Then she stood upright and gave Jackson a level look. “Of course, dear boy. But if you will excuse me, I have a purchase to make, and I’d really love to see the rest of the booths here, don’t you think?”

Jackson let out a little laugh. “Of course, Lucy Satan. Of course.”

They stood back and let Ellery’s mother make her purchases, and Ellery put his hand solidly on the small of Jackson’s back.

“So, is it over?”

Jackson pulled out his phone. One bad guy dead, one in custody. Will text you tonight with the all clear. Nice reflexes, by the way.

As Ellery watched, Jackson texted, Thanks for the apple fritters.

And that was all. “Wow,” Ellery muttered. “So, do we still have to go to the game tonight?”

Jackson just looked at him. “After we’ve invited Jade and Mike? Do you really think your mom is going to cancel now?”

Ellery groaned.

No. No she would not. But they would get to go home and have dinner there and spend some time on the couch. And since his mother couldn’t get another flight out until the day after next, they had an actual day to sit quietly and visit, while Jackson swam laps in the pool and tried really really hard to forget the last five days had ever happened.

Good luck with that, though.

Before she left, Ellery’s mother gave them a charming hosts’ gift.

A hand blown paperweight, with the unlikely color combo of bronze and magenta mingling in the center. Jackson had smiled as he’d unwrapped, and set it down on it’s felt coaster with surprisingly respectful fingers.

Ellery had just cocked his head.

“You don’t like it?” his mother inquired.

“Mm… not my colors,” he said diplomatically.

“Well then, think of it more as Jackson’s gift.”

And Ellery did. But that was okay. He gave his mother a genteel kiss on the cheek. “Something that makes him happy is a gift for me,” he said, feeling sappy.

But his mother just smiled and patted his cheek, and it was time to take her to the airport.

They got back and collapsed on the couch in complete relief.

“Please tell me you won’t miss her,” Jackson begged.

Ellery looked at him, wearing the waterproof bandage on his elbow like a badge of honor. “Jackson?”

“Yeah?”

“If I stripped naked and bent over the couch, would you to get the lube from the bedroom? I’d really like to celebrate being alone.”

Jackson’s chuckle, ripe and filthy, was enough to get him to stand up and start toeing off his shoes.

Epilogue

Jason Constance had learned to sleep on a helicopter a long time ago—but he couldn’t. Not today.

“You dropped a sign on his head,” he said in disbelief.

Burton opened one eye, because he had been sleeping. “You taught us to use the weapon at hand,” he replied, voice mild.

“I don’t even believe how that went down.”

Burton snorted. “I don’t believe you subdued your guy without killing him. It took an awful lot of fun with knives to get that guy to talk.”

Constance shrugged. Like Burton, the physical things—the running, jumping, shooting people while you did it—that part had been the easy part.

It had been holding on to the tiny fragments of his soul that was hard.

“But a sign!”

Burton blew out a breath. “If I tell you a secret, will you shut up about the fucking sign?”

“Sure.”

“Ernie texted me the day after we left. There was ‘Rivers get down’, and there was ‘Pull that thing!’. Guess how it played out.”

Constance started to giggle. “Really?”

“Really.”

The giggles died abruptly. “Let me know if he texts you anything about me, okay?”

Burton just stared at him, and Constance got an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach.

“What? What’d he say?”

“He said that in the end, when it’s all over, you’re gonna be okay.”

And for the life of him, Jason Constance, who’d had a plan all his life, couldn’t think of another thing to say.