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Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Motivation of Murderers



I remember MacBeth. In fact, I'm still pissed Chicken's senior teacher sucked balls, because I'd built this play up to be glorious and that twit spent a week on it and made the kids "explore it in groups". Chicken had to come home and get the mom-notes version.

Dear God. What assholes these mortals be.

Speaking of...

This passage from MacBeth has been on my mind today. After killing Duncan, these are the two guys MacBeth seduces to do his dirty work, and while MacBeth does all the talking--the better to show us what a sociopath he could be--these guys go on to do heinous shit, and are a mastery in thumbnail characterization. I used to tell my kids that these two guys were any hoodlums who've knocked over a 7-11, or any asshole on the internet trying to stir shit for spite.

Let's take a look, shall we?

This first guy--ironically enough the Second Murderer--

Second Murderer:
I am one, my liege,
Whom the vile blows and buffets of the world
Have so incensed that I am reckless what
I do to spite the world.

This poor man has seen some shit. He's had some blows and buffets--he's been knocked around and has no sense of power. He's insecure and he blames the world for fucking with him. He's angry--"incensed" and he gives zero fucks and fewer shits --"am reckless" about what happens next. He doesn't give a fuck what he sets in motion to "spite the world."

He feels kicked around, he blames his boss, his friends, his family, whoever, and he wants to watch the world burn.

He's excited about it. He's "reckless what I do".

He has, in short, absolved all personal responsibility for his current state and wants to kick puppies and scream obscenities and shoot some poor 7-11 clerk to get some fucking justice. 

He's not particularly rational. I mean, we get it--he's been shit on. HIs grievances may even be real. But he doesn't give a shit who his victims are--and that makes him easily manipulated, which MacBeth does. I mean, if you read the entire play, they don't just kill Banquo, they kill innocent women and children too. So yeah--he's gotten some kicks, but boy, does he get some licks in himself.

Nice guy. I'm sure we all know a few like him.

Now let's take a look at his friend.

First Murderer:


And I another
So weary with disasters, tugg'd with fortune,
That I would set my lie on any chance,
To mend it, or be rid on't.


This guy isn't quite as violent. He's not the hothead, rushing in to libel friends and bankrupt strangers-- he's tired. He too has gotten a raw deal, but unlike his buddy, he knows that makes him susceptible to manipulation.

Still, he feels helpless. He wants to do something about it. He would "set his lie on any chance"-- he would listen to anyone who thinks they have an answer, "To mend it, or be rid on't." To fix it or fuck it. He'll take a risk, any risk, just so he doesn't have to feel helpless anymore. But he's willing to follow a liar into the breech, so he knows some innocent people may be hurt. He just doesn't care anymore--not today. He's done.

Poor little sausage. He really has had a rough time of it. But, again, he's absolved his own culpability here. I mean, now, at this moment, as MacBeth is leading them down the primrose path into murderdom, we can feel a little bit of sympathy. But don't forget--never forget--Shakespeare shows us what this sort of depression over the world can lead to.

We see Banquo set upon and killed, screaming at his son to flee to be safe.

We see MacDuff's charming family--"All my pretty ones, all?" Mother, children--"Wife? Babes? All?" Surprised and "savagely slaughtered."

We can see these murderers for human beings. We can see them as scared, and insecure and beset by one disaster after another--but we must never forget what they do. Instead of rising to become the best of themselves, they fall to become the worst. They set out to burn the world, to stake their lives on a corrupt leader, to carry through orders that are meant only to hurt and not to help, heal, or mend.

They become the villains, and in doing so, they allow the powers that be to continue to abuse them, and their only agency is in bloodshed and destruction.

I know people like this. We all do.

The true shame is that they do not know themselves.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Some moments from travel...

Okay-- I'm going to add the big post from FB at the end so it's in the blog because it's funny.

After a brief stop in Detroit for reasons known only to Delta airlines (see my last entry) I spent this weekend in Orlando, at the Dreamspinner Press conference, and it was really lovely. One of my favorite parts of this event is that I get to meet my editors and the staff from behind the house--and oh my God. You guys-- they're so good. So good. Every attempt to produce the cleanest, clearest, most quality manuscript is made--it really does make me proud of the work I've done with them. And beyond that, here are some highlights--

Jason T. Gaffney and his husband were there, along with his father, Ed Gaffney and mother Suzanne, to give a showing of Analysis Paralysis, Jason's independent movie. I'd already seen the movie--it's DELIGHTFUL but hearing Jason et al break down the things that helped change a story idea into a makable movie with a limited budget was really interesting.

Talking to our IPG rep was awesome too. So many different ways to promote books in places other than amazon.com-- she has access to so many good things and great ideas. That was fantabulous and informative as well!

Kilby Blades, the program of the Berkeley RWA chapter asked me to come teach my conflict class, and I was literally jumping up and down and squealing! It was so awesome of her to keep me in mind! Apparently people who saw me teach at RWA were impressed and I'm thrilled!

A conference with Sue Brown-Moore-- my Dreamspun Desires editor--was so helpful in mapping out the rest of the Search & Rescue series, as well as in planning my upcoming Hedge Witches Lonely Hearts Club series. I love writing these categories-- they're so much fun!

I got to meet with the Desi who's been my editor of other projects since the beginning of this year--she's wonderful. She's apparently in the middle of editing Shades of Henry and she actually stopped me to make sure Henry would be in future Fish books as well as Fish on a Bicycle and his own romance. The idea that I've created another character that can travel through different books makes me so very happy and her interest was just the most awesome thing in the world.

And of course I got to talk to my beloved CEO and EIC--and hearing them reassure us on the nature of the company and the finances and the way things are in motion to fix what's broken and go forward was really really necessary--and really really well done.

And there are always my friends and fellow writers, and the kind of talk that comes from trusting people with your back and your heart, and knowing we all have a deep love of narrative to unite us.

Once more, I'm proud of where I work, and ready to throw myself into that work again!

And the kids were happy to see me when I got home. God, I miss my family more each time out. It makes leaving harder--especially as they get older. They won't be here to come home to for much longer.

And as for travel stories? Well, besides Detroit (oi!) I had a couple of fun moments--

*  A friend of mine who travels A LOT texted me when I was in Detroit-- "Oh my God--I travel 120 days out of the year and you can't leave the fucking house without having a layover in an airport hotel!"

I was going to argue but then I realized it was 3 out of a potential six trips this year. He's right. It's a fucking curse.

*  There was a Service Cat on the flight from Utah. It was a long-haired Siamese, wearing a dress. When we landed, there was a 20 minute delay in getting off the plane, and into the grumbling silence we could hear babies crying and the cat going, "Meow! Meow! Meow!" which I assume meant, "Let me off, assholes, I"m done here!"

* When in the TSA line for Orlando, I was right next to a couple from the UK--and they must have been from the area James Corden is  from, because their accents were very close. We were talking about their little girl's wooby-- a rather battered piece of crocheted blanket that will probably disintegrate in its next washing.

"Well yeah," said the ginormous (6'6") young father with shoulders like a school bus. "She left it in the cab on the way to the airport, and we almost had ourselves a right proper torcher until we bot it back, didn't we?"

And omg, I was charmed to my toes.

*  And now-- this happened to me last night, and I posted it to FB from my phone. Because it was hilarious and I thought everybody needed to see it to share in the hilarity as it were--enjoy!


So, in tonight's episode of "Amy leaves the house and hilarity ensues" we have "Rednecks on a plane."
Coming back from the DSP convention in Orlando via Salt Lake City, I get seated next to two rednecks who are ... well cheery would be the word. They are coming back from Milwaukie after seeing a football game and had a VERY good time.

At the end of the flight, after a twenty minute delay at the gate, we are all appalled to find our luggage overhead is jammed shut. The two rednecks and I can't get our stuff.


Redneck 1 who hates flying and wants desperately to be standing on ground takes a turn at it. He almost tearfully bangs the damn thing until the flight attendant steps in, but he can't open it either.

Then redneck 2 steps up and goes “Look— here's a lever, let's see what it does!” And POOF! The compartment opens.

“How did you know that was there?” Asked the awed flight attendant.

"Well I've been drunk for four days straight—I"m seeing all sorts of things I've never seen before!"


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Me and Layovers

So, I have learned.

There is toothpaste, a toothbrush, and a change of underwear this time around.

There's even deodorant.

I have yarn and my laptop.

I made it to a hotel.

There's been food. Good food, in fact--but I forgot dessert and the need for chocolate is gonna haunt me, can't lie.

It wasn't my fault.

The plane left late, encountered weather at the end, and I ended up running forty gates only to be told the connecting flight had left my ass in the dust.

It's a Wyndham hotel-- not bad. The rain is raining everywhere, it lands on fields and trees...

I've seen SEVERAL giant cracks of lightning from the shuttle and the hotel. (Sort of cool, because we don't get that sort of thing in California a lot.)

I can hear every plane taking off from Detroit International.

Every. Plane.

I've heard people in three different rooms having SUPER NOISY SEX. I didn't think that was a thing in a Wyndham. Is it a thing in Detroit?

I'm getting up at 5:30 to catch the shuttle the airport. I should be slightly more coherent--and less stinky-- than I was when it took 30 hours to get to Newark.

I shall savor the difference.


The Cat is Upset

Me: I'm almost done packing, hooray!

Cat: *Climbs on top of the suitcase, spreads all four feet out, and extends claws*  You'll never take me alive, copper!

Me: Get off my suitcase you furry freak! I'm trying to get ready to leave!

Cat: Fuck you! Nobody leaves me! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Me: *pets* You gonna miss me?

Cat: Fuck off!

Me: *pets more* You say that, but you're clutching that suitcase pretty hard there, sweetie.

Cat: Hate you.

Me: *pets even moar* I love y--ouch! Bitch!

Cat: That'll show you!

Me: Get off my suitcase!

Cat: No!

Me: Fine, I'll come back later!

Cat: *runs after me and slashes my calf*  THE HELL YOU WILL!

Me: *shows owie to Mate* Am I bleeding?

Mate: Copiously. The hell?

Me: The cat is upset that I'm leaving.

Mate: Maybe you're just trying to get out alive!

Me: Yeah, well, sleep with one eye open--that bitch takes no prisoners.

Mate: Tell her a good kiss will do.

Me: Yeah honey-- that's what I want. Her tongue in my mouth.

Mate: Good point. Tell her she'll make a nice purse.

Me: THAT might make an impression.

And seriously. Seriously. I"m bleeding and my bag is covered in cat hair.

Fucking cat.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Boobington: The Musical

So, I forgot my bra in my gym bag. Not earth shattering, I know, especially since I don't necessarily have to get out of the car after I leave the gym. (Still, the longest walk to the parking lot, ever.) Anyway, unable to just gently sag in peace, I came back to the car and texted Mate the following two things-- try to rap it badly to Hamilton, if you will:

I forgot my bra today
My boobs are facing gravity
They're sagging more than
Dictated by Sanity
Are these the boobs with which I am to be cure?
I scream in the face of these massy mutinies!

And then I texted it to a friend, with the caveat, "From Boobington, the Musical!"

She said there NEEDED to be a Boobington: the Musical, and I sort of riffed a little more on text, and, well, here you go. Ad copy for Boobington: the Musical--

From the people who brought you Men: In Briefs and In Corset You Missed it comes our next smash hit, Boobington: the Musical! 

Featuring an all-star Bra-way cast, Boobington, the Musical tells the story of Patty and Selma, two asymmetrical sisters whose adventures trying to find support for their individual natures will uplift you, make you sweat in your small places, and warm that space in your chest behind your pectorals. 

Join Mae Playtex and Crossanda Yourheart as they perform such smash hits as 

--I'll Stop the World and Boob with You
--Don't Let the Headlights Go Down On Me
--Defying Gravity
--Sagging Hopes and Empty Cups
--Do Your Boobs Hang Low
and many more!

Meet Lacey Frontclasp as the irrepressible Perky Becup, the young ingenue who is repeatedly fooled into believing the weakly structured Victor Satin can give her the support she deserves. Can the sisters save Perky from a loveless, itchy, sweaty marriage with Victor? Will Perky be happy with the sporty Lycra Smash who provides stability and structure? Will Patty and Selma ever find a home with enough stretch to give them the freedom they need, enough support to keep them from ending up down in the dumps, and enough padding to disguise Selma's tendency to droop?

Come to the DD-Street theater and get your ticket to the smash hit, Boobington: the Musical! But you better hurry folks, because those tickets are hotter than boobsweat in Florida in July!

*

So there you go. Boobington: the Musical.  If it's not a thing, it should be. I'll be taking suggestions for song titles all week!

So, it all started because...

... the drier broke. It needs a new thermostat, and we may or may not get laundry done before I have to leave on a plane on Wednesday. Anyone who sees me Thursday, if I look like the bottom of the laundry basket, now you know.

But the drier broke, and the last thing we put in the drier were sheets from our bed.

Which are not dry yet.

Now, once, a long time ago I asked for a clothes line, but Mate still has bad memories of when we had a clothesline outside on a drought-ridden hillside and foxtails used to blow through his underwear. He's always maintained that the drier was for clothes and clotheslines were for serial killers ever since.

So no clothesline.

And we needed sheets to sleep on.

Which means we had to venture into the Linen Closet.

Now some people's linen closet has shelves that face forward and those people can stack stuff on those shelves and then retrieve it.

But OUR linen closet has shelves in the recesses of the closet on either side and then a big space in the middle that we have stacked stuff in.

And stacked it. And stacked it. And stacked it.

It now reaches the ceiling.

It's sort of an archive of sheets, blankets, pillowcases, quilts and shampoo. (The shampoo goes on the side shelves--you must never forget the shampoo.)

Anyway-- in order to get sheets for the bed, I had to put on a helmet, break out a flashlight, and grab a  pickaxe from the garage. The pickaxe was useful but the light was helmet was really important because the shampoo--afraid that its habitat was being invaded and used to roaming the closet at will--was leaping from the higher shelves trying to bash in the head of any interlopers.

So, I mined the archives and emerged successful, with a handful of pillowcases spanning twenty years of random linen purchases and sporting everything from stripes to flowers to Hello Kitty. I put these on the bed, declared myself done with the business and asked Mate if he could put the sheets on.

He came back five minutes later, giggling.

"See this sheet?" he asked. "How big is this sheet?"

And Squish went, "Wait-- that's MY flowered sheet from Grandma! I"ll go put that on my bed."  And then she scurried off.

"Shit," I said. "We have to mine the archives again."

This time I went diving through the strata and he fended off the wild shampoo and by the time I grabbed a sheet and tugged, we were both laughing our asses off.

And then I farted so loud it woke the dogs and they went howling at the door to eat the fartmonster and Mate and I were jelly in the hallway holding a Kingsized sheet and comforter and wondering how this became our lives.

Just remember.

It all started because the drier broke.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Oaklet V1

So, I met my cousins when I was back east, and I always forget--and I shouldn't--how very much I love them.

Anyway--I walked away willing us to be more in touch.

I sent them books--although I don't blame them if they don't read them-- and I decided I wanted to make them something.

I'm making shawls at the moment.

Shawls it was to be.

So this is the first--I've started three others. It's the Oaklet shawl and the designer was nice enough to offer it as a free download on Ravelry. If you're looking for a way to ease into lace, this is a good one. It's worked from the top down so you really just have to master the YO first, and then, when you're good and comfortable, there's a very basic lace pattern that repeats for about eight rows, and then a slightly more complicated one that it finishes off with. Seriously-- it's like it was written as a training project, and it's pretty awesome.

Anyway-- the stripes were my idea because I got that far with just the ecru and went, "Hello, this is driving me batshit insane."  Oddly enough, switching colors every two rows helped keep that down.

And it came out just so damned pretty.

So, I'm starting a book and I finished a hard edit and I'm into knitting that doesn't stress me out. Could go worse than the Oaklet.

Oh, and don't mind Mate. This is his life now. He's used to it.

Pamplemousse!

Okay--I'll be honest. I was really excited to try pamplemousse flavored LaCroix because oh my God, what's a pamplemousse?

Turns out it's a grapefruit-- which, while I will probably still try it because I lIKE grapefruit, makes me even happier that I decided to buy the Buble, which was on sale, instead.

And other than that?

Hmmm...

Squish has opted out of pre-pointe class, which is a shame because I shall miss her looking lovely quite so often in recital, but as it is, she goes in, does mixed class--tap, jazz, and ballet--and then sits and does her homework. Given that last year doing her homework on Wednesday night left her exhausted and in tears, it really is the more mature path. *sigh*  I mean she'll still have one ballet number, right?

Also...

ZoomBoy's junior year is very very busy.

Back to school night was a revelation and I'm glad I went. For one thing, I can see that he's not joking when he talks about going from Q4 to E2--omg, what a nightmare. Yes, there is a way to make a longer trip during the five minute passing period, but I think it would require them to give my kid a scooter and a helmet so he can make it. Also, his English teacher DOES remind me of Nick Offerman, he was right. And his physics teacher has a super romantic attachment to the physics book the kids use. It brought a tear to my eye, it really did.

Oh!

And I had a brief convo with my stepmom today after she butt-dialed me. Funniest thing about it? She was like, "Amy, I hate to interrupt, but I have to tell you--there's a long, narrow cloud following me as I hitch my horse trailer. It's raining on my head."

I, uh, couldn't stop laughing.

Funny how some of the busiest days are like that!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Kermit Flail and a Celebration of "Henry

First of all--YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!!

I've got three great books for Kermit Flail, and considering I just remembered Kermit Flail like, Saturday afternoon that's more than I deserve!

I actually spent my weekend both very productively and very frustratingly. Productively because I ditched out on two public appearances, one Friday night and one Sunday afternoon, so I could finish this book. And I did! I finished Shades of Henry, the first Flophouse novel, and it's a crossover between Johnnies and Fish, and I loves it mightily.

In fact, one of the Kermit Flail books is Fish on a Bicycle, and that introduces Henry Worrall, but Shades of Henry tells his love story, and for those of you who love my Fish, you know the love story and the suspense story are two different things.

So that was it--I finished the book! Yay! But I was also supposed to finish an edit, and that didn't happen, because I was writing a book which meant nobody was going to take my kids out to do fun stuff with them which meant my entire family was in the house all weekend shotgunning the Office. 

You heard me. the Office. 

I've got the theme music going on in my head. Progress was excruciating. I can't even... *flails* Tomorrow I'll have a couple of hours during the day in my own head and I'm profoundly grateful.

*whew*

But that said, I do have books from the insanely talented and adventuresome Kim Fielding and the exquisitely lovely and kind Rowan Mcallister to flail--and they're both so awesome, I am truly honored.



Drawing the Prince

by Kim Fielding


(Available October 1st) 

Painting themselves a life together will be a royal ordeal.

Small-town boy Cal Walters doesn’t know whether he owes his phenomenal success as an artist to talent or to his connections to famous people. Doubt leaves him secluded—until a lost bet lands him on yet another blind date. But this one is different.

To Teofilo Vabriga-Kastav, playboy prince of the tiny nation of Porvunia and passionate art lover, Cal’s paintings are as intriguing as Cal himself. When Teo invites Cal to his country for an art competition, a whirlwind romance sweeps them up. But it can’t last—loyalties and obligations bind them to lives that are worlds apart.

Cal and Teo might’ve found their perfect complements in each other, but to hold on to their happiness, they’ll have to get creative.





The Priest

by Rowan McAllister 

(Available September 10th)

Brother Tasnerek, one of the infamous Thirty-Six stone bearers, is facing a dangerous crisis of faith after uncovering a secret that could shake the foundations of the Brotherhood of Harot. When Tas is sent to protect a tiny village on the edge of Rassa’s borders from Riftspawn, he struggles to resume his duties, risking his life and the lives of those around him.

Girik has always been an outsider, but to help his sick mother, he agrees to be the village’s offering in a painful ritual deemed necessary by the Brotherhood. But when the priest has a crisis of conscience, Girik offers his help to untangle a web of lies—even if it means getting closer than he ever imagined and committing sacrilege in the process.

With a monster lurking in the forest, a wandering mage mysteriously appearing, and more secrets awakening to unravel the truths of their world, Tas and Girik must make grave decisions. A life without danger seems a far-off hope, but love just might be theirs… if they survive.




Fish on a Bicycle
by Amy Lane
Fish Out of Water: Book Five
Jackson Rivers has always bucked the rules—and bucking the rules of recovery is no exception. Now that he and Ellery are starting their own law firm, there’s no reason he can’t rush into trouble and take the same risks as always, right?

Maybe not. Their first case is a doozy, involving porn stars, drug empires, and daddy issues, and their client, Henry Worrall, wants to be an active participant in his own defense. As Henry and Jackson fight the bad guys and each other to find out who dumped the porn star in the trash can, Jackson must reexamine his assumptions that four months of rest and a few good conversations have made him all better inside. 

Jackson keeps crashing his bicycle of self-care and a successful relationship, and Ellery wonders what’s going to give out first—Jackson’s health or Ellery’s patience. Jackson’s body hasn’t forgiven him for past crimes. Can Ellery forgive him for his current sins? And can they keep Henry from going to jail for sleeping with the wrong guy at the wrong time?

Being a fish out of water is tough—but if you give a fish a bicycle, how’s he going to swim?

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Tuesday--I promise.

Okay-- so usually there is Kermit Flail on the first Monday of the month. I have problems though, when it's a Monday holiday--I'll be honest.

I hope it's okay if I make it Tuesday. I should make that a regular rule, right? But anyway-- Tuesday it shall be--mostly because I'm pretty sure I can finish this book and finish the edit I've been putting off by Tuesday, so working late Monday Night will be a VACATION, and not interrupting the last 5K of what is looking to be a sprint to the deadly finish.

I'm not kidding--I've put off two public appearances to get this done--mostly because I've got ANOTHER deadline RIGHT on its heels, and it's a hard deadline and I sort of have to make it. So, I'm locked in deadline hell, and, well, Kermit Flail will get put off until Tuesday, like housework and that diet I've been meaning to start for ten years.

Anyway...

This happened today, and I put it on FaceBook but I sort of want it on the blog because that often lasts longer. There's an addendum to it, because every story has an ending, right?

I am finishing a book today. That is established. But Mate surprised me with some plans to clean out what should be Squish's room, so she can have her own bed etc. As I related this to Big T, I got pretty ambitious.
"So, like, today you can help Dad clean out Squish's room, and then we can clean out ZB's and we can get rid of all their stuff and we can get them regular beds instead of bunk beds and they can paint the walls and have drawers like human beings and we can rip out the carpeting and get them area rugs and it will be a whole home renovation theme for Christmas. Right?"
Mate *stunned* Oh my God.
Me: Yeah, that came out a little more involved than you proposed.
Mate: You just kept going. And going.
Me: Fist bump?
Mate: NO!
Me: No fist bump?
Mate: Who's going to do all that work?
Me: You. And the kids maybe.
Mate: No fist bump. No. No fist bump.
Me: That's totally fair.

So, the addendum is that I came home, put in headphones, and wrote 2K, then went down for a nap. When I woke up, Mate and the kids had cleaned furniture out of Squish's room, and now she's all excited about cleaning it up and donating stuff to goodwill and making a space for herself.

They all deserve so much more than a fist bump.

But first, I need to finish this GDB! (Thanks, Karen Rose, for the acronym. Goddamned book will remain in my vocabulary until the end of time.)



Thursday, August 29, 2019

Back to School Night

So, if you have four children, each going to public school for thirteen years a piece, that's a grand total of... *does math in head* FIFTY-TWO back to school nights that you and your spouse are bound to attend, plus or minus a few for the time one of the kids attended a block schedule school which meant he had two a year, and that quick flurry of years during which there were three kids in school and somebody had to be missed because there were only two adults.

Anyway--let's go with fifty-two, and don't count Open House because then things get REALLY confused, and say that, after tonight for Squish, with ZoomBoy's next week, we only have six to go.

Six.

Damn.

That's sort of a sad little leftover of parenting right there.

It's a little depressing, really.

But still-- being on the final slope of four kids gives you the right to, say, cut PE.

For those who are unfamiliar with back to school night at the middle and high school ages, parents usually go to school and spend about ten minutes in each of their kids' classrooms, while the teacher tells them what's important, contact information, textbook, etc. In this case, I had to walk from a classroom, across the campus to the MP room, and back to the classroom next to the one I'd just left.

And I decided no. I'm 51 goddamned years old and I could cut gym.

So I sat down in the pleasant evening, knitted a little, waited for the next class, and then continued on my way. Until fifth period where I heard three people discussing how this was their sixth and final year doing back to school night at the middle school.

"Oh my God, and why is gym always on the other side of the campus from the next class my kid has!"

I looked at them surprise. "Gym? I cut gym. This is my fourth kid--I'm pretty sure gym hasn't changed appreciably since *I* was in school."

They looked at me in awe. "Wow. You're right. That's so smart. I wish *I* had cut gym!"

So there you go, folks. It took thirty-nine years, but finally, FINALLY, I am too goddamned cool for middle-school.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Paperbacks

So when I had Big T, my mother-in-law and I had not quite reached the understanding we had in those last years. But still, she showed up with books for me to read as I recuperated. Amanda Quick, Julie Garwood, Bertrice Small-- I hadn't read romance since college (admittedly not THAT far in my rearview when T was born) but oh wow.

Did I ever love those books.

I must have read Ravished six to eight thousand times. I can still hear Harriet stomping her foot and snapping, "I was NOT ravished!"

It delighted me to no end.

I still have those books--they started me back down the path into the joys of romance.

For a while, we had a book store near us that would take used paperbacks in trade.

I sucked at that store. The POINT is that you bring all of the paperbacks that you finished reading in, and they give you credit so you can get an entire other bag of them.  But every paperback I read was SPECIAL. It was a TREASURE. How could I give it back if I might reread it again?

I loved every word of them.

Right before my MIL passed, she had gone on a giant "simplify my life" kick. Part of it was her new interest in religion, but part of it was that she just didn't like clutter. She liked things simple and everything she needed should have been at her fingertips.

When we were going through her stuff, her shelves were all about genealogy and taxes and property investment--except for one. There was this one shelf dedicated to Grace Burroughs and Bertrice Small.

Seeing that shelf was a hard moment. I mean, I'm a hoarder by nature--but this woman had made simplifying her existence to a one room apartment into an art form, and she still couldn't get rid of those books. They'd all been read until the ink on the spines was flaking, and you could barely make out the titles.

When I first started writing, no matter who was publishing me or what format seemed to be big, I insisted on paperback.  Yes, sure, e-books were coming. But a paperback you could hold in your hand. I probably read e-books more now, but I still buy my favorites in paperback. I don't even read them that way, I just stroke their spines and dream.

They remind me that getting lost in a book is exactly the same as getting lost in a forest. It's perilous and you're not always sure you can battle your way out and when you do emerge, you are changed somehow, usually for the better.

I dislike this idea that e-books are disposable, eatable like potato chips, with no nutritional value for the brain. I abhor the notion that writers just pump books out like a queen ant plopping pupa and those ants scurry about, appreciable in their volume but not in their character. It's not the format that makes that so--it's a perception I'd love to kill.

I work damned hard to put a little bit of poetry, a little bit of music, in every story I write. There's a moment in every book that is something that has happened to me, or someone I loved. A moment that I want to point to and holler, "IT ME! BE RESPECTFUL! IT ME!"

When I get my copies of books in paperback--particularly mass market paperback--I am reminded once again that the ideas in books are permanent. That books are true and real things. That when someone falls down a rabbit hole and reads a book until dawn, they have had an EXPERIENCE. Of course they can have that experience on Kindle or the Nook--but contrary to what people online believe 90% of discovery still happens in your local book store or library. Having that book there for someone to pick up, browse through, fall into, is like providing a gateway to your heart that only the worthy may pass through.

My bio on amazon (though terribly outdated in SO many ways) always ends with "She'll tell you that any sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write."

That's because being read and savored and being put on the keeper shelf is like sharing your soul with someone--and having them find it good.

Paperbacks may eventually go the way of the dodo--and if we can find a way to recycle e-waste, that'll be fine. But until that day, until everybody reads on their tablet or their phone, until electronics are available to EVERYBODY, ink on paper is a format that has worked for literally thousands of years.

Just touching a paperback gives me a link to all the ideas that have gone on before.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

...and family...

After a long day of rest yesterday, the family was back in full swing today... sort of.

We're all still a little punch drunk and a little tired from the weekend, and, gotta admit it, I'm so far under I had the following conversation w/my editor:

"So, about this project--is it still on your radar?"

"Radar, yes. Sonar, no. I'm that far under water."

So far, actually, that I had to bail on some QSAC commitments, and that depresses me. I REALLY look forward to those, but omg.

Did I mention the under water and the back-to-school-night and the fact that BOTH the kids need new dance shoes and we haven't folded clothes in ages and...

You get the picture.

The day was not without its fun moments though--as evidenced by the picture of Reginald, who was waiting for me when I went back to the bedroom tonight.

Ah, Reginald--always there for you when I need you, unless it's your time to pop.

Mate is playing the new WOW update, which reminds me of when he was a hardcore WOW player. Very clearly I remember a quiet house, as I watched TV and knitted a blanket for Squish, who was waiting to be born. Everything was peaceful. All the kids--truly kids at this time-- were quiet. Can you hear the opening from William Tell here?

And into this idyllic domestic bliss, my husband yells "FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK!"

And I drop a stitch, ZoomBoy wakes up in his crib and the big kids come running into the living room going, "What? What? What?"

Ah, WOW. So excited to see it back in my life.

But the kids are getting excited about The Office--which is really cute, even though I'm working through it because otherwise I'd be having butt-cheek races to see who could get down the hallway fast enough as we squirm out of our seats and away from the TV.

Also, did I mention deadlines?

Anyway-- I have peace, I have quiet, I have the dogs, I have Reginald--time for me to jump back in the fray!


Monday, August 26, 2019

One dance at a time

So, most of you know about my kids' yearly dance recital. This year, it was a little different--usually it's in June, but this year, the facility was having problems and the recital got put back to the last week of August, and oi! The last two weeks have been rough. Squish has started fall soccer, both of them are in school, and there's been no such thing as a break around here until today.

But yesterday, we got to see our babies shine--and you guys. They were so good. Chicken was back stage, and every now and then we'd get a glimpse of her holding the curtain up and gesturing imperiously for the tiny kids to leave the stage--but mostly her job was invisible and only seen by how well the rest of it was run. And it was run well.
And I know ZoomBoy has his fan club--both the parents of the other kids who've seen him grow and online, but  Squish--well, she's improved so much this year. She went from the kid who was a little uncertain and who watched all the other kids on stage to this totally confident young woman who walked onto the stage with her arms absolutely in correct position and owned what she was doing next.

We were so impressed.

And because Mate had soccer this year--his team had a seeding tournament in the morning--we both ended up not having to volunteer.

Oh my God--it was our first chance to really watch the kids perform--from the front, in dress, with smiles on their faces--probably since they were six and four years old.

I really loved getting to be the mother who saw that.

But a couple of funny moments happened--still--

*  Squish was supposed to have attended a seeding tournament as well, but we told her coach she couldn't make it, because getting up and playing two of the four games and then going to the recital AFTER being at rehearsal to almost eleven at night seemed just a little bit of overkill. The morning of the recital she woke up around ten and said "Mom, what time would you have gotten me up if I was going to play soccer?"

"Around six-thirty," I told her.

"And I would have rolled over in bed and LAUGHED."

"As you should have."

The other thing that happened was that an hour before I'd planned to leave the house to drop the kids off to get ready, Squish turned into a girl.

Now, there's nothing wrong with being a girl--I'm a girl sometimes myself. I try on three different kinds of lipstick and fiddlefuck around with my hair and screw up my mascara and generally work with a skill I rarely practice in order to make myself look more attractive.

But Squish decided to do this right when she should have been showering and putting on her first costume and generally being ready to go.

I have never had this problem with Squish before. Time management has always been her THING. When I was dropping her off at school, by the time I stumbled out of the bedroom and put my shoes on, she'd be composed, having eaten breakfast, brushed her hair, and gathered her homework. That's Squish.

But now, apparently there's the girl thing, and omigod were we late. And the thing was, I had to stop at the grocery store, because the parents provide intermission. (Or, some of the parents provide intermission and OTHER parents leave their shit all over the floor of the auditorium for the rest of us to pick up. Yes, Mate and I spent an hour cleaning the theater at the end, because no, we couldn't just manage to not volunteer at ALL, could we?)  But Squish and I were standing in line with a shitton of cookies and the PERFECT lipstick, and we got caught behind the lady with three-hundred dollars worth of groceries and coupons.

And the a/c of the minivan had conked out and ZoomBoy was LOSING HIS SHIT because we were late and Mate called me and got an insane woman screaming "Get the fuck out of the car you idiots, and take your cookies with you!"

It's a good thing that man loves me.

Anyway, the kids were fine, they were a little late but had plenty of time to change, and all was forgiven when they were done.

I was so proud of them.

And I should add something.

For those of you who loved Behind the Curtain, you're probably aware that my kids' dance teacher is where I got the idea for Jared's classes for the disabled students. She told a story on stage this year about how she once got an award for offering classes to students with everything from autism to Down's Syndrome, and she was a little crushed to realize that she didn't get that award because she was the best teacher of the disabled in the area, but because she was the only one.

I think that needs to change. I mean, I don't dance, I never will, but gees, dance therapy for cognitively disabled kids can do such amazing things.

Our dance teacher is in her sixties now, and still tough--but she's been through two bouts of cancer now, and we're watching her former students become the teachers that hold her place together, and I keep thinking, "This is not my gig, but I so want to see someone rise up and do this."

She sure could use a break.

I just really want her to hold out until my k ids graduate. ZoomBoy has wanted to dance his senior dance on her stage for the longest time, and the year after next is it.

God, they've grown up fast.

Once dance at a time.







Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Baseball Socks

So, when I was in the eighth grade, I tried out for every sport our school had. Volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball--I was the third string in every team. No, in case you're asking. The school wasn't that big. We had a basketball team of nine girls--six in the first string, two in the second, and me. I was the third string.

I even got the best sportsmanship trophy at the end of the year. Go me.

My stepmom was in school this year, getting her nursing degree, and my dad worked as a respiratory therapist--he wouldn't get his nursing degree until I was in junior college. Together they managed to buy a house in what was about to be prime real estate--but they could barely afford it. They were smart though--do-it-yourself-ers, hard workers, resourceful, in ways I could never be and have forever envied.

They didn't really get the peer pressure thing, though--and that sort of sucked.

Because my grade school was in the town part of the area, so most of my peers had money.

So baseball season rolled around, and the school provided uniforms, but the team wanted to spend two dollars on stirrup socks--bright yellow. Two dollars doesn't sound like much, but it bought me lunch for a week back then, and my parents couldn't understand the expense for something that, to them, sounded like following the crowd.

My teachers recognized the problem though--I was awkward and ADHD and super smart but not great at homework and generally a big social pimple anyway. The reason for all the sports was that I was trying to find a peer group, right? My best friend had died in the seventh grade, and nobody else seemed to get the awkwardness that was me. Later, in high school, I'd discover band and drama and the things that really made me tick, but for that moment, third string with no stirrup socks was really the best I could hope for.

So game day came, and I was wearing little cotton ball socks--remember those? I picked out the yellow ones, since I couldn't do the stirrup ones the rest of the team had. And my coach pulled me aside and presented me with a pair of stirrup socks, saying with a wink that I couldn't tell anybody where they came from.

So when the girls got pissed off because my cotton-ball socks looked dumb with the bright yellow stirrups, and how could I be so stupid, and God couldn't I get something right for once, I told them--neck hot, sweat oozing out from my body in waves--that I'd forgotten. That's it. I was flaky, we all knew it--I'd forgotten. So they bitched at me for ruining their team photo and God how could I be so stupid and Jesus could the awkwardness just stop for sweet hell's sake and whatever.

And I fought tears and kept my mouth shut because you know what?

Because it was nobody's fucking business why I couldn't afford the fucking socks in the first place, and it was nobody's fucking business how I happened to get them when I was sure I couldn't afford them, and it was nobody's fucking business, period, and they could all go to hell.

The thing with bullies is, they want something from you that they have no right to ask for, and you definitely have the right not to give. And if I told them I couldn't afford the goddamned stirrup socks, they would have dished it out because we were poor. And if I told them the teacher had given me the stirrup socks, I would have betrayed a confidence--and they STILL would have dished it out because we were poor. And if I told them to go to hell, I wouldn't have gotten to play softball, and you know what? Whether I liked the spoiled little vipers on the fucking team or not, I had as much right to be on that fucking team as they did.

And the fact that my family couldn't afford the socks at that moment was nobody's business but mine.

I've been thinking about that a lot lately. About how bullies work, about how information is blood to them, about how any defense you want to make of yourself just chums up the waters some more.

Bullies haven't changed any since the 1980's. They still want something they have no right to ask for, blood currency of one sort or another.

I've changed though. My neck is no longer hot, I'm no longer sweating. I'm pretty okay with the ethical choices I've made in my life. Integrity means a lot to me--it's a currency I don't feel like trading away.

It's something I'm not sure bullies will ever understand.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Fall Through Spring...

So, Fall Through Spring is up for presale, and it has occurred to me that I was pretty tightlipped about this project when I was working on it, and that you all might want a teeny little nip...

Also, you might want to say goodbye to the old covers, because as soon as we get a cover reveal for the NEW ones, you won't even remember these were there...

You can buy Fall Through Spring HERE. 

Dane listened in fascination as his brother welcomed the two newcomers to play with them instead of the group they’d left in the dust, and didn’t make a single accidental double-entendre. Skipper Keith seemedunassuming enough, but instead of listening to Mason Hayes as he made an ass out of himself, he thanked Mason for sending him Theraflu and a sweater when he was sick at work.
As Skipper and Mason were making conversation, Dane turned to the scruffy guy who gave great voice and said, “How long have you two been together?”
Clay Carpenter snorted. “I’m not the one he’s dating, but thank you. Skip would be a catch.”
Dane’s heart gave a double-flutter. “So you’re single?” God. Did he sound too predatory? He probably sounded too predatory. He’d gotten a lot of sex by being unapologetically slutty, but he really didn’t want to come on too strong. And these guys didn’t seem like the fast-and-loose crowd he’d run with as an undergrad or at the restaurant.
“Single, but not gay,” Carpenter said with a shrug, and until Dane heard the world crashing around his ears, he hadn’t realized how invested he was in the answer. He was so occupied with the sound of his heart’s destruction that he almost missed what Carpenter said next.
“But then, Skipper didn’t know he was gay until a couple of weeks ago, so, you know, anything could happen.”
It was said mostly in jest, Dane knew that. How could he not know? He wasn’t stupid. But it was said with the confidence of a man who wouldn’t mind if it was true.
Which meant… oh God, it just might… it must might….
“How could he not know he was gay?” Dane asked, fastening on something, anything to talk about so he could hear more of that rusty, self-deprecating voice.
Carpenter paused for a moment, and they both watched Skip swing the club in a perfect arc, and the ball bounce almost to the hole.
Carpenter sent Dane a droll look. “You see that?”
“God, I suck,” Dane said in dazed response.
“So do I.”
“But not in the same way,” Dane said dispiritedly.
“Sure, brag about that now. But my point is, Skipper’s never played golf before.”
Dane watched his brother take his turn, and stared. Mason had the grace of a giant redwood tree doing the cha-cha. The ball went up too high, fell too soon, and curved to the left in what was probably going to be a six-over-par shot. As far as Dane knew, his brother came out once a month, at the very least.
“First time?” Dane asked, feeling a little adrift. “How does that happen?”
Carpenter shrugged. “I don’t know. Skip and Richie have been best friends for six years. Then suddenly, they’re banging like beavers. Sometimes you watch and plan and think about what you really want to do; then you score a hole in one.”
Carpenter took his turn at the tee, and in spite of a few extra pounds, he moved with a no-bullshit, muscular athleticism that Dane had to admire.
Skipper almost scored a hole in one, but Carpenter was probably going to make a birdie at the very least.
Dane waited until Skip and Mason finished congratulating Carpenter before he stepped up and swung.
Yup. Almost as bad as Mason.
He waited for the fake congratulations from the newcomers, for the pained expressions of pity and condescension.
Carpenter looked at Skipper and shrugged. “Well, he did say he sucked.”
All of them burst out laughing, and they trotted joyfully down to the green to finish the hole.
And Carpenter grew no less delightful. His banter with Skip spoke of long familiarity and affection… and loyalty.
“So, Skipper, you gonna add golf to your unholy regime of exercise?” Carpenter asked.
“Nope,” Skip said. He was looking for a putting club like a beekeeper looking through spiders. “But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drag me out here the next time you get the urge.” Skip pointed at a club wholly unsuitable for the terrain, and Carpenter shook his head and pointed to the one next to it. Skipper nodded and went with the suggestion.
“I get the urge to do lots of stuff, Skipper. I just don’t always drag other people along with me.”
Skipper snorted and faced the ball. “Well, you can go to the bathroom on your own, but I wouldn’t mind holding your hand up here on the green.” He adjusted his stance one more time. Dane wanted to tell him he was doing it wrong, because according to every lesson he and Mason had had as kids, he was. But so far, Skip had the best score.
And sure enough, he hit the ball into the cup, when the rest of them still had at least five shots to clear the hole. Mason high-fived Skip and stepped up, and Dane turned to his new friend and said, “What’s his regimen like?”
“He’s got this sort of church of holy soccer,” Carpenter said in an undertone. “I managed to resist for two years, but he’s been making me eat chicken sandwiches and walk during lunch at work. Not like parents, mind you, but like, ‘Hey, there’s this great place to eat about four blocks away. Let’s be late getting back!’ I mean, he’s a fuckin’ Boy Scout, right, and he’s using being late back as a carrot. Anyway, I lost a little weight, got a little overconfident, and now I’m a part of the church… I mean, team. Go figure.”
“Where’d you meet?” Dane asked, impressed in spite of himself. He might as well stare at the blond god too, because apparently everybody worshipped at the altar of Schipperke.
“Same place Skipper and Mason met. Work. But me and Skipper are in the IT department, so we met sort of accidentally.”
Dane had to swallow against an unwelcome shaft of snobbery. Mason was VP of mergers and acquisitions. Dane knew the score. IT did not talk to VP—it was like some sort of rules of the royal court thing.
But then, Mason wasn’t great at rules, and Skipper appeared to be great at people, so maybe Dane could forget his whole…. Oh, who was he kidding.
“What the hell are you doing in the IT department?” he asked, appalled.
Carpenter rolled his eyes. “Not firing people, not being a douchebag, and not hating my coworkers. Fucking sue me. What is it you do again?”
They’d already covered the fact that Dane was a student, so Dane conveniently disregarded that.
“My brother is not a douchebag,” he said staunchly.
Carpenter just looked at Dane steadily, and Dane remembered that Carpenter had been there when Skipper should have called HR on Mason.
“I mean, he says dumb shit when he’s nervous, but that doesn’t make him a douche!”
Carpenter arched one eyebrow. “He asked Skipper if he’d like to come watch porn in his office.”
Yikes.“Really?”
“Really.”
“But apparently there was the thing with the Theraflu and the making sure he got home when he was sick,” Dane pointed out hopefully.
“Porn.”
“Often,” Dane amended with a sigh. “He’s not a douchebag often.
Carpenter grinned at him. “Well, Skipper’s giving him a do-over, so I can give him a do-over. Reboot, new lives, let’s go kill some bad guys.”
Reboot?Dane blinked. “What do you play?” he asked. Oh God, something besides golf.
“PS4,” Carpenter said. “RPG, FPS mostly, what’s your poison?”
“Anything,” Dane said dreamily. He’d lost most of his gaming buddies when he quit the restaurant—they’d been casual acquaintances, really, not friends. “You want to play tonight?”
Carpenter shrugged. “Yeah, why not. Skip’s got yard work after this, and I’ve got to clean my apartment. Log on about eight?”
That easy.
Finding a new friend was that easy.
A new friend with a sexy voice and an adorable scruff and a sense of humor.

I Wonder if I could market this class...

So, Mate and I went to a party the other night--most of the guys who got mentioned in HomeBird were there, and one of the things I really love about these guys and their significant others is that they're so much fun about what I write. They get it. Romance with gay male leads. Not their thing, but they're fans of mine, and they love that they're in the book.

I love them so.

Primarily because they are very often atypical of a lot of the conversations I have when out in the wild.

Writers out there will know what I mean--tell me if this sounds familiar.


Stranger at Party: Oh, so you're a writer!

Me: Yes.

SaP: You should write a book about my life!

Me: I'm not that kind of writer.

SaP: I always thought my life would be a fascinating story.

Me: I'm really not that kind of writer.

SaP: What kind of writer are you?

Me: Romance.  

SaP: Oooh, naughty naughty--bodice rippers, eh?

Me: That's actually sort of a derogatory term.

SaP: But it's like porn, right?

Me: No, actually porn is sex for sex's sake--romance has sex for the sake of emotional connection.

SaP: So, chick lit?

Me: Also a derogatory term.

SaP: But it's all about the sex, isn't it? 

Me: No, it's really about emotional bonding and making a happy life for the individual.

SaP: You sound so smart! Why don't you write something with substance!

Me: All writing has substance--romance is one of the most political genres of them all. It addresses the four basic human relationships, including the two that are completely by individual choice and it involves the radical idea that two humans can choose their own destiny in a world that is prone to putting obstacles--frequently political ones--in their way. 

SaP: But seriously, you should write a book about my life.

Me: You could always write a book about your life.

SaP: Sure--but where should I start?

Me: Well, you should decide who your audience is.

SaP: All the young girls out there who want to grow up like me.

Me: ... Uh, maybe something a little less focused on you. It should be some lessons you've learned.

SaP: Like letting yourself go and learning to be your true self. Being true to your heart.

Me: ... Sure. But you want to decide if you want it to be a collection of anecdotes, or a complete memoire, or a self-help book or--

SaP: Yes! All of those!

Me: Have you ever read any autobiographical works?

SaP: Like what?

Me: James Thurber? Virginia Woolf? Michelle Obama? John Steinbeck? James Baldwin? Joan Didion? Anything?

SaP: Well, I don't really have time to read. What are they about?

Me: ... The lives of great people who know how to tell stories about their lives.

SaP: But I want to write in my own voice.

Me: Your voice only gets stronger if you read other people.

SaP: But I really don't want to contaminate my ideas with other people's words. Where should I start writing?

Me: You should read blogs on the internet. If you'll excuse me, I think my husband was getting me a drink. Mate...Ma--ate..MATE!!!!


So anyway, I was looking at local community college adult classes, trying to put together a seminar or two to teach, and I thought, "You know what would be a good class to teach? It should be a class that teaches people who want to write all of those things that I talk about with strangers at parties. Except maybe, if they pay me money to teach the class, they'll listen..."

What do you guys think--will it work?


Friday, August 16, 2019

Queue

So, I got to queue with my editor today--that was fun.

It was also, fyi, the only really interesting thing I did. It was literally too hot to take the dogs for a walk and it threw into sharp relief how behind shit I am. I spent a lot of my day actually writing--go figure!

But one of the things that came up in the queue was where I'm putting my time.

Dreamspun Desires and Dreamspun beyond--50-60K stories that pack a full emotional wallop into a small space--figured prominently.

Fish will continue--as well as Johnnies Flophouse books, which have a lot of Fish tie-ins.

Under the Stars (Jai/George) will continue to be a blog thing, unless suddenly I have most of a novel there. Given how fast I progress, it may be the short piece at the end of the next Fish book, tentatively titled Fish on a Leash. 

For those of you who wondered, I had written Fish Dicks in the queue but it was solidly vetoed. *sigh*

I also have an idea for a new series (yes, another one) based on one of my favorite tropes, starting next year. Leverage? Oceans 11? The Italian Job? Yeah. *happy sigh* Oh yeah.

I made a list of things I called "luxury sequels". These were projects I've planned and that someday I will write--but not today. *sigh* A lot of things I wanted to have done already got put on luxury sequels--but then I have to remind myself--like my publisher, I keep my promises, even if it takes time.

Some things that will be coming out--

Fish on a Bicycle-- and I'm really looking forward to you guys reading that! It will be out in October.

Fall Through Spring-- this is the third and final book in the rec league soccer trilogy that started with Winter Ball. It features Clay Carpenter and Dane Hayes and will be out December 3rd. (complete)

Silent Heart-- This is the sequel to Warm Heart and should be out in January. (complete)

Shades of Henry--Flophouse Book 1-- This is a spinoff of both Johnnies and Fish, and it ties into both. It features the "flophouse"-- a dinky little apartment with a lot of gay porn models running around in their underwear. Because it seemed like a good idea? (in progress)

Easy Out--This is a standalone that I will hopefully have done by November that involves hate-sex, two rivals in softball, and a precocious non-baseball playing offspring. (planned)

Shortbread and Shadows- this is a Dreamspun Beyond I've been dying to write, about a group of hedge witches who get things spectacularly wrong. (planned)

Fish on a Leash--more details about that later. (planned)

Safe Heart-- Due out this summer, this is Glen and Cash's story, and after reading Damien and Preston's you're REALLY going to want to see what's next. (planned)

And that's where I'm going to stop--because seriously, the queue goes out a couple of years.

But I know you're going to look at this and think, "But wait...where's..."

Well, that sequel of your dreams will probably be written in May/June, because that's usually when my whim comes into play in what's an increasingly restrictive schedule. Do I want to see Larx and Aaron married? Of course. Do I want to see Cameron and Jaime together? Hell yeah. Do I need Francis and Beltane's story--you betcha.

They'll be written.

Just not, you know, tomorrow.



Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Namaste



Little Old Ladies in the Pool--Redux

There are a few of us who are diehard liberals--we know each other and we float in packs like a wrinkled raft.

One of my diehard liberals was beating the water in a frenzy today. She was furious. She'd spent the weekend with in-laws who were staunch supporters of the pustule in the White House, and she'd given herself sciatica working out too hard to vent her rage.

I raged a little with her. "My one consolation--ONE consolation," I told her, "Is that he appears to be rotting from the inside out. I hope it's syphilis."

She gave a harsh bark of laughter. 

I asked her, "Do you know how people die of syphilis? Shit literally rots off their body, like their noses and tongues and cheeks fall off, and they're in agonizing pain. And since he refuses to get a real doctor to look him over, and since we all know he's a horrible abomination of a human being who treats women like trash, he could very possibly have syphilis."

And this lovely woman--this beautiful grandmother, this staunch advocate for civil rights, this kind person who worries about the welfare of everybody in the pool--lights up. Completely. As though a flame had been ignited within.

"Really?" she asked, so very hopefully.

"Yeah. It's totally possible."

She gave me a serene smile. "That's the best thing I've heard in three years. Seriously. Namaste."

Namaste, y'all. Poetic justice lives.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Now Available: Paint it Black

The seeds to this book were in the original--but they were buried deep.

For those of you who read the extras from Beneath the Stain (THEY CAN BE FOUND HERE) you may have seen the signs.

The day Mackey's mother got the letter that Mackey wrote in rehab, she was with a potential suitor--whom she kicked out of the house the minute he said something shitty about Mackey's situation. Her son, Cheever, was friends with his son--and Cheever followed up that moment by acting like a real punk.

Why would he do that?

Blake confessed to Mackey that he'd worked as a prostitute in the early days when he didn't always have food money--what kind of scars would that leave? Then, in his POV section in the extra content, we see that he's got a low-level case of the unrequiteds for Kell, his best friend--but that he loves Kell enough to be happy for him when Kell hooks up with Briony, who is the love of his life.

Blake's got hidden depths--when does he get his happy ending?

When I was asked to write a sequel to Beneath the Stain, my first instinct was to say no--Mackey and Trav were an epic love story. How do you follow that up?

But underneath that, I knew that somewhere in the back of my mind, Blake and Cheever had something really profound in common.

They were both the forgotten ones, the ones laboring in Mackey's shadow, trying to find the light. Now that Mackey is secure enough to try to spread that sunshine around, is their enough love in the world to fix these two broken souls?

Short answer--yes!

Long answer--you're going to have to read it to see!

But as I was writing this, I would send it to my beta reader and ask what had bothered me about writing a sequel to BtS all along-- Is it worthy?

"Yes," she said. "It's perfect."

Of course, that could be because she loves me. A lot.

But the point is, I worried. I labored. I really wanted to make this one worthy of its predecessor.

I do hope I succeeded.









A Beneath the Stain Novel
Everybody thinks Mackey Sanders’s Outbreak Monkey is the last coming of Rock ’n’ Roll Jesus, but Cheever Sanders can’t wait to make a name for himself where nobody expects him to fill his famous brothers’ shoes. He’s tired of living in their shadow.

Blake Manning has been one of Outbreak Monkey’s lead guitarists for ten years. He got this gig on luck and love, not talent. So hearing that Cheever is blowing through Outbreak Monkey’s hard-earned money in an epic stretch of partying pisses him off.

Blake shows up at Cheever’s nonstop orgy to enforce some rules, but instead of a jaded punk, he finds a lost boy as talented at painting as Mackey is at song-making, and terrified to let anybody see the real him. Childhood abuse and a suicide attempt left Cheever on the edge of survival—a place Blake knows all too well.

Both men have to make peace with being second banana in the public eye. Can they find the magic of coming absolute first with each other?