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

Thursday, July 2, 2020

A Twitter Thread on World Building

Sorry about the formatting--I actually did this as a thread on Twitter, and then sort of liked it, so I put it here so I could look it up if I needed it. You're welcome to it.


I'm going to make an observation here about world building when you're writing urban fantasy. Not every detail about the world needs to be dropped immediately, no matter how much people may insist you do just that.

 Think about it like Indiana Jones and snakes. We know in thefirst ten minutes of the first film that Indiana Jones doesn't like snakes. We know it will come back to bite us in the ass--more than once. But it takes us two whole movies (even if none of us watch the super racist second one) before we realize WHY Indiana doesn't like snakes.

World building in an alternative universe NEEDS to be like that sometimes. It NEEDS to be a little mysterious. There NEED to be little nagging questions, because we are VISITORS TO ANOTHER WORLD.

 If aliens showed up on our doorstep they wouldn't know about coffee. They'd either A. Ask us questions the first time they saw us drink it or B. Focus on something else, like why law enforcement was beating up on other humans or why we hadn't taken steps to get rid of the life threatening virus in the air. Which one of these things is more important to the story? Coffee would get put on the back burner, and it could be used for comic effect, or a character moment or an illustration of the balance between self-preservation and self-destruction in humans--whatever. But coffee doesn't need to be explained RIGHT THE FUCK NOW. 

Good world building is layered into the story--if it's mentioned eventually it will be addressed eventually. If it's not, maybe there's a logical explanation layered in with the rules of the world. But it's not all dumped in at the beginning, and if explaining coffee at the start interrupts the narrative flow, then leave it.

 Sort of like Anne McCaffrey did with klah in the Dragonriders and Dragonsingers of Pern--eventually, she wrote a book that explained klah. Until then, we all figured out it was coffee. Because she knew readers were smart like that. So trust your world building. Trust your layering. Know that a question answered later is better than an infodump that loses attention RIGHT NOW. World building is a tricky business--if you don't have faith in your readers sense of wonder, you've destroyed your prose
before you've begun.

Or at least that's how I see it.
Finis.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Of an age...

So Mate and I, in our ever ongoing quest to find decent TV we haven't already watched--and our love of British Crime drama-- have stumbled over Scott and Bailey, and it is a gem!

It stars Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones--both big British actresses that the US has been sorely cheated out of--as two female police detectives, one young and new to the force, and one pushing fifty with a couple of teenaged girls at home.

We watched all five seasons (maybe twenty episodes total--it IS a British show, remember!) and we loved every episode. Some of the the high points--and I'll try not to give too many spoilers here, because there are some truly taut moments--come in the refreshing change of British expectations of police officers from American expectations. In a word frequently used in the BBC show, American police officers are "twats."  (There is a particularly criminal spin on this word--at least in this show. Criminals are "twats"-- cops who fuck up are just fuckups.)

Some examples:

*  After a horrific kidnapping a character is asked if she's okay. Her response? "NO I'M BLOODY WELL NOT OKAY!" This wouldn't have happened in an American show--not as a release of humor, not as a character trait--flawed or not. God, it was good to see a woman be able to vent her absolute horror without being thought less of.

* Rachel--the younger of the characters--makes so many HORRIFIC personal mistakes--and no. She is not often the victim of anything other than her self-destructive impulses. But the joy of the series is watching her grow from a complete train wreck in the first two seasons to a true leader in the end. 

* And let's talk character arc--both characters have them. Janet, the older woman, isn't immune to personal mistakes--but they both actually learn from each other, and that's sort of cool because it doesn't happen often in American TV. (Some seasons of Supernatural showed us character growth--that was nice.)

* And let's talk abortion. When one character comes up pregnant, it's the first option suggested. There's no shame in it, there's no "Oh, but that would be WRONG!" there is only, "You're single, your personal life is RIDICULOUS and you work a high pressure job with stupid hours." Won't tell you which way she went, but it did draw some stuff into focus.  God, Americans suck about this issue. 

*  At one point as Rachel and another character all talking about how hard it is to be a woman in Detective Constable Syndicate (think "squad") Janet was like, "Suck it up! Do you think those of us who are older had it any easier? And we're going to retire--you need to be here and keep up all the work we've done!"  Good point--and very well made--and not something often pointed out. 

* After getting in trouble for drinking on the job, a secondary character is being interviewed about whether she was subject to discipline or not. The response? "We should have looked out for you better--we have these resources and we did not make them available to you and you were in need."  And again--America sucks in this matter, because if you're in trouble in any way shape or form, you're on your fucking own.

* And while we're talking about a cop show--let's talk about A. the lack of ACTUAL VIOLENCE. There wasn't a chase in every episode. There wasn't a gun fight. There wasn't collateral damage. Most of the police work was A. ACTUAL DETECTING--not with special computer hacker skills, but with real nitpicking effort and a team approach, B. SKILLED INTERVIEWING. There was no "Good cop bad cop," and every detainee was given full rights. The interviewers were just trained to be mild, kind, and smart. This idea that Americans have that if only cops were allowed to beat the shit out of suspects all our problems would be over is SO NOT PRESENT. 

*whew*  

Anyway, it was a good show and we enjoyed it and we were both sorry it was over. 

And I'll leave you with this, from Squish:

"Mom, I need to read The Alchemist by Paulo Cuehlo-- is it good?"

"My students who read it on their own really loved it."

"Cool."

"So, uh, when does school start?"

She gives me this perfect arch of her eyebrow.  (She's been experimenting with makeup--her eyebrows are wickedly well prepared for arching.)  "Mom, really. The odds of us actually walking into a classroom anytime soon..."

"Not, uhm, likely?"

And she gives me a sympathetic shake of the head. 

And I have been put into my place by a condescending adolescent. Aint it always the way?

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Some high points of an inconsequential week...

It's funny how much we look forward to small stuff right now!

First off, on Father's Day, we took ice cream to my Dad. That was it. Three of us, two of them, out on the back porch, and Mate selected five pints of ice cream--we had a buffet. It was amazing, low risk, and it made us all super happy. 

Win!

Second off, Mate and I were in full morning political rant when we were driving up to the dog-walking park. I've mentioned before how really unpopulated this park is, and it has remained so over the last five months. Well, as we were driving up to the park we were pissed and unhappy (because politics!) and we saw a french bulldog, in full run, chasing a red ball that was three times bigger than he was. HE WAS SO HAPPY!!! 

I went, "Ohmigod!" and Mate went, "Heh," and it was like the atmosphere in the car lightened up three whole gravities. 

It was awesome. I recommend french bulldogs chasing dogs as the cure for all kinds of evils now.

Win!

Third off, we went to the lake!  

Social distance was not a problem-- there was a good twenty feet between us and the nearest group of lake people, and we could walk to the water and take off swimming without coming as much as twelve feet from our fellow humans. And it was sunshine and water and I got to swim! We packed PB&Js and sodas and... wow. It's amazing how much happier we were when we got back. It was like summer hadn't completely passed us by!

Win!

Fourth off, we're getting a new washing machine!

Okay, this isn't a win. There's no way I can spin (get it!) this into a win, but the damned thing just... died. Like, died! One minute it sounded like two robots humping and the next minute one of the robots came and then died. 

With smell. 

So, fortunately they're on sale right now, but Mate feels badly. The drier has broken down several times, and Mate was able to repair it with a couple of visits to the hardware store and some time on YouTube. But he did his research on YouTube this time and was like, "No--I got to the part where they were $300 in parts in, and realized that they were only halfway done."

But I'm spending tomorrow folding the clean clothes (the pile is... impressive) while Mate and the kids clean out the garage.

Not really a win, no, but I asked if we wanted to get a new drier, so they could match, and we both went, "Mm... no. That feels like a slap in the face to the poor old thing. It just keeps going and going and going...."  Because seriously--drier is 22 years old. We're on our second washer in that time.

If it's going to sound like robots humping, you think they'd spawn and leave a replacement, right?

So that's it! Not a bad week, really--aside from ZoomBoy scraping the topside of his foot on a rock at the lake, which was sort of a bummer. 

Hope you all have a happy one! 

Oh! I forgot Kermit Flail in June, but am definitely planning one the first Monday in July--That's the sixth! so lots to look forward to--yAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!

Sunday, June 21, 2020

A Brief Meditation on Good Dads...

So, true story...

My phone defaults to the first song on my iTunes when I hit the go button on my earbuds.

It's a new thing--new ear buds, new phone, but it's disconcerting, because I'll be in the middle of a romantic suspense story and I hit the go button and... 

Default song. 

But more on default song in a minute.

Went walking today--every day, actually, and Mate was in front of me, quintessential Dad bod on display, beard a little scraggly, own iPhone in hand. He was holding the leashes when he stepped aside to give another Dad-bod with a small dog on a leash pass with a good ten feet social distance.

And I had a thought. 

About how sexy it was to see guys walk small dogs that they were absolutely infatuated with.

Because it denotes something really important about a man. He doesn't need a big dog for his ego. Don't get me wrong-- I love me a big dog and a thirst pic featuring a well-muscled man and a happy pit bull. But any guy who really loves a dog can tell you that it's the trust and the caring and the knowing that this creature believes in you and that you take extra giant steps to make sure that faith is well founded. That kind of bond isn't dictated or limited by the dog's size. So seeing a guy with a small dog means that it's the nature of the love--he's willing to protect a smaller dog, doesn't care about whether the dog makes him look good or not, and he's not embarrassed to be kind to creatures that can't actually hurt him. This is a man who is willing to put more into a relationship than lip service--and not to measure what he gets back from the relationship in terms of quid pro quo. 

These are good qualities in a man. These are excellent qualities in a father. Fathers--good ones--always give more than they get, and consider themselves the luckiest of men to be able to give. 

I know not everybody gets this dad in their lives--but I wish they did. I wish the world gave us more men who could fall unashamedly in love with a small dog, and let it bring out the best in him. 

Because that man would be kind to his children, and become a better person so they would have someone to look up to, someone to trust, someone who would give them faith.

So Happy Father's Day to the good dads out there--there's not as many of you as their should be, and we count you as the good guys. 

And for those of you who wanted to know what song I heard, when I was looking at Mate walk our two dogs and thinking he was kind and handsome and sexy-- I'm pretty sure you could guess.

Monday, June 15, 2020

About COVID...

I'll be honest. There's shit I want to do.

I want to go swimming--oh my God, do I miss swimming. I miss the pool, I miss the solidarity of our aqua group, I miss the way it burned calories and the things it did for my body.

Two days before quarantine I got possibly my least favorite haircut of all-time, and it has been growing out over the last four months into... wait for it... my LEAST FAVORITE HAIRCUT OF ALLTIME! I would love to see someone whose to just married, pregnant, and all over the place who could cut my hair. I can dye it, mostly, but jeez, I need a better cut.

I want to go traveling with my Mate. Go to the ocean. Or the mountains. Or anywhere not here. Someplace with a swimming pool. Maybe someplace with friends. 

I want to see a movie in a theater.

I want to walk into the grocery store without a mask.

I want to sit in the middle of a Starbucks and drink coffee and read.

Or go out to a restaurant.

And the thing is, I know our state is letting more and more things happen, because... 

Uhm...

See, I'm not sure why.

Because people are still dying of Covid and will continue at staggering rates until we have a vaccine.

They're still getting the disease--and it's horrible. It's taking weeks and months to recover if you're lucky and recover.

Our medical staff is still burnt out. They're still exhausted. Still not getting the equipment they deserve.

I get the protests. The protests are necessary--and I saw an awful lot of footage of people out there with masks on, social distancing, and speaking their mind. I still do.

I imagine, when all is said and done, it won't be the protestors who spread the disease, unless they were forced into unsanitary jails. 

It will be the two-hundred people crammed inside a church.  The barbecue with fifty-to-one-hundred people because fuck Covid, that's why.

The grocery store, where you only see three people with masks and someone is coughing and crowding your back while you're waiting in line.

So the movie theaters may be open--but I don't think we'll go. And I can wait another three months, four months, six-months, twelve months, before I get rid of this shitty haircut. Mate's sort of addicted to curbside service--even for our anniversary, it'll be fine.

And I'll look longingly at the beaches until I know my family can go and it will be okay. 

Squish went to a friend's house this Friday-- they were so cute. Three girls--they put on makeup and their best outfits just to see each other and play at her house. Afterwards they were STOKED. They wanted to put together a small party, maybe ten kids, of course there were parents supervising. Boys and girls, it would be all about gaming and chatting and pizza and sleeping on the floor overnight. 

And then the parent supervisors got sick. 

"Is it...?"  Mate and I asked hesitantly.

"We don't know," Squish said. "But we'll have to wait a long time before we do that, I guess."

We didn't even have to tell her. She knew. 

The thing I keep thinking about is that yes, California is opening up the state based on hospital capacity. They can take so many more people now, their ERs won't get overwhelmed, they have so many more beds ready for whatever COVID might bring.

Well that's great. Swell. Wonderful.

It's just that I don't want to END UP IN THE HOSPITAL. 

I have (supposedly) two conventions later on this year, one in August, one in October. And even though everybody is pretending business is fine, Mate is asking me to seriously consider not going, if those events are still being offered when the time comes. 

I'm seriously considering not going. I mean, I've been almost floored by regular con crud. COVID would take me out--and probably my family with it.

And in the meantime, I'm not going into Lowe's when it's wall to wall people. And you definitely won't see me in any store without a mask.     

And I'm going to watch COVID stats obsessively, and watch the cases per day go up, and the death rate go up and I'm going to remember that our leader at the Federal level is full of shit. He's dusted his hands off and gone, "Corona Virus? We're done with that! I dealt with it! People are dying? Well isn't that a nasty thing to say."

And the governor of California is stuck-- he can't help out his people if he gets no federal aid. He has to open up the state to some extent, or his citizens are going to starve. Yes--other countries have shut down the country, shut down the virus, and instituted a new normal that has helped their citizens stay healthy. 

The United States isn't one of them because the leader at the federal level is an idiot sociopath who flat out doesn't give a shitstain if we live or die.

California--as much as we try--can't be our own country right now. We have to deal with that idiot sociopath, and there are only so many evils to choose from.

So... I"m going to feel like a weenie. My children, bless them, are going to chafe a little, even though they understand--and they watch statistics too. And we are going to remember that just because there's enough room for us all at the hospital, doesn't mean we want to spend our vacation there.

I hope you all stay healthy. Remember--masks help everybody, although I feel I am probably preaching to the choir there. Stay safe. Do your best.

Next year, maybe, we'll see happier times.






Tuesday, June 9, 2020

In totally random news...

I'll be honest-- this entire post hinged on photos, which my phone is refusing to send to my computer. *sigh* I'll post the info anyway, and maybe, eventually, I can get the photos online.

*  Squish turned in her books today and graduated from the 8th grade! She got to the school, handed off her book, was shoved through a door, the principle announced her name, and one teacher applauded while another one handed her a certificate and she was like, "Huh?"

Anyway, I took her to Starbucks and we called it a day.

She also made plans for a one-on-one visit with a friend today, since California is lightening up on restrictions a bit. I'm just so glad she's going to get to go somewhere.

* I finished a red shawl for a friend. Woot!  This is the same pattern as the purple and green one from my box of shawls--I like it so much in a crisp, plain yarn! And it was Cascade, so the hand might have been crisp but the feel was squishy soft!

* Snacks the bird (as you might remember) ended up at Wildlife Rescue, where he will hopefully be fed until he can be released. Bless his little heart... For people obsessed with what kind of baby bird he was, the people at Rescue said he was a house sparrow.

*  Yesterday we held a public shaming for Nebula the Destroyer--his second this week. The first was for the death of Snacks the Bird's mother--and the injury to poor Snacks himself--but this was for the destruction of a work in progress. I was, in fact, so frustrated with the destruction that I refused to restart the project itself and instead went with something a little simpler. Shame, Nebula the Destroyer, SHAME!

* ZoomBoy just came out humming Mr. Blue Sky-- he is apparently one assignment away from being done with school. Whether he's  passed everything or not is totally irrelevant. He's ALMOST. DONE. WITH. SCHOOL.

* Mate is making plans for a soccer season this year--which feels, by the way, BONKERS. He keeps waiting for the news or the Governor or someone to get loud with, OH FOR FUCKS SAKE WE DON'T HAVE THIS UNDER CONTROL YET... but so far, no. Tentatively, we hope.

* I have a small Black Lives Matter sign up on my house (I put it up over a week ago)--it can be read from the street if anyone sees it. I'm awaiting a larger sign that doesn't look homemade. I'm a liability in a protest--I can't run, I'm super slow, and I can't get down on my knees and up again with my hands over my head. But I'm reading the Neighborhood App, with all of the casual racists assuming that everybody feels the way they do. I figure this I can do. I can tell my neighborhood that their opinion isn't unanimous. That the neighborhood is only as racist as they make it. Between this--and donating money to the bail funds for the protestors across the country--I feel a little more involved in this super important thing that's happening across the world.

And a moment about that--my Patreon money clears on the second of the month. This month, I told Mate we'd have the money in the bank after he'd spent the entire day looking at the news.

"Good," he said, voice choked. "Donate as much as you can to the bail fund."

I couldn't donate all of it--I donate to the Keith Milano Fund for Suicide Prevention this time every year. But donating part of my Patreon to that cause was important to the family. It's strange, isn't it, how putting aside something you want--l mean, I've had my eye on a new swift and ball winder for a long time now. I WANTED it, like, so bad--for something more meaningful, can make you feel better about the world.

Kindness matters. All kindness matters. Strength in kindness matters. Peaceful protest matters. My friends and family matter. Justice and equality matter.

Black lives matter.


Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Snack in the Box

I've been reaching out to friends who might be especially hurt by national events at the moment--and by, of course, the asinine response from the shit encrusted festering pustule on the taint of the country that some people call the president. The general consensus is they're beyond exhausted, and beyond depressed.

Ditto. 

And while Mate and I are stumbling around the house, trying to function with the high level fear and anxiety about the world in flames around us, the following happened.

Squish runs into the living room, hysterical, in tears, screaming, "My cat is EATING A DEAD BIRD!"

Mate is watching television, and I'm like trying to calm her down. I get up and move in front of Mate and calm her down and get to her room and there's her cat, Nebula a.k.a. Nebula Lector, dining on the entrails of a bird doing the iron cross on her new floor.

She's sitting on her bed screaming at the cat for being a psycho and Mate suddenly goes, "Hey, what's going on?" (I swear, it was like a tornado happened and he was trying to figure out if we were talking about The Good Fight because that's what he was paying attention to and why wouldn't we be talking about the same thing in the middle of a frickin' TORNADO!) 

"Get a dog poop bag!" I order, just as Geoffie bootie bumps the cat out of the way because apparently they were having Dead Thing Buffet and nobody invited her. I shove her away and then shove the cat away because this bird is the BEST THING EVER to all the animals, and I make sure Squish is okay and we dispose of the sad little poop bag and *whew*. Glad THAT'S over with, right?

Except ten minutes later, we're sitting down again and I'm like, "Is that a bird? Is that a BABY bird?"

Yes folks, you guessed it, the dead bird was the MAMA bird and the cat had gone to get a BABY bird and there was a helpless, featherless, LIVE BABY BIRD on our floor. 

And then it was in a box filled with paper towels, sitting on a heating bad, being fed an internet approved concoction of dog food soaked in salt water mashed up with hard boiled egg.

Squish assumed ownership, bless her--maybe she was happy to make amends for the Dead Thing Buffet on her floor. We locked the cats--PLURAL, as in ALL THE CATS--in our room for an hour, because they were like, "Hey, I know that sound. That's a PREY sound, and there is PREY IN THIS HOUSE, and OMG, PEOPLE, it is ON!"

And so far the bird has lived for a whole hour and a half in a box filled with paper towels. If it lives until tomorrow, we'll call bird rescue and see if maybe someone there is up to feeding a baby bird every fifteen to twenty minutes for the rest of their lives, but in the meantime, we're it. 

ZoomBoy let the cats out of our room after Squish locked herself and the baby bird in her room, and as he held a wriggling--and totally unrepentant Nebula Lector, I glared that the troublemaker and told him no. 

"No! No! You cannot have the snack in the box!"

ZoomBoy put him down and he ran outside, probably to see if there were any more Dead Thing Buffets to be had. If I wake up with a dead bird on my pillow, I'm telling you, I'm checking out of my own head for 24 hours and living on Oreos and pinot grigio because I am done.

God. I know there are bigger, scarier, more unjust and more important things in the world to worry about--but that poor fucking baby bird just about yanked everybody's heart out. ZoomBoy was like, "Hey, at least he's a mighty hunter!" and Mate went, "No! It's not hunting when it's a next of defenseless creatures who have no way to defend themselves and had their parent taken away!"

And I got verklempt too.

Which is, all things considered, probably how we ended up with the snack in the box getting fed glop every fifteen minutes by our despondent offspring.

We can't wave a magic wand and make the world perfect, and we can't tell our friends whom we love, "It's all going to be okay," because we all know better.

But by Goddess, we can feed the snack in the box some glop. 

Stay healthy and safe, folks. Find the things that make you happy and feel in control of the world and do your best with them. 

And definitely show kindness whenever you can.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

I don't know what to say...

Many of you remember a couple of weeks ago when my son was attacked walking home from work. I mentioned in that blog post that his sister came to help him with the police--they assumed that a big kid who couldn't speak well was obviously high and asking for it.

He was being bullied, in tears, when his sister arrived on scene and told them all he had an auditory processing disorder and they needed to back off. He was bleeding and in tears and he couldn't put together the words he needed to explain what happened when six people were shouting at him.

They did back off but partly because the firemen arrived, and their priority is to actually help people and not to bully the helpless.

We should be angry--furious--about what happened to George Floyd. Philando Castille, Alton Stirling, Tamir Rice... yes, the list DOES go on! We should hate it because these are our fellow citizens, and whatever the reason for them being detained not one of them--NOT ONE OF THE UNARMED, PEACEFUL MEN ND CHILDREN--deserved to die.  (I'd say don't get me started about the systemic racism that caused them to be detained but oh my God if you don't understand about systemic racism, GET ME STARTED! Even if you hate ME, I have friends that have endured it and boy, do they have some serious shit to say!)

Nobody deserves to die at the hands of people who are supposed to protect us.

We should hate it for the act itself--bullying the powerless is a reprehensible thing. The people charged with these crimes are sadists with badges--and there are enough of them out there that we start to suspect all policemen are sadists with badges--which isn't fair to the good cops out there, many of them people of color.

But stupid (white) people don't get it. When they see that horrific video of George Floyd dying, they see someone else's child.

White people, we can't afford to think that way. NOBODY CAN AFFORD TO THINK THAT WAY. A system that encourages the systemic bullying of its citizens is broken. People of color being bullied are easy to spot--and thus easy to bully. But they're not the only targets. People with disabilities are targets. People with hearing difficulties have been shot for not responding. People with mental health problems are targets. White people, don't you understand? We should be angry because these citizens who are at risk DAILY are also our friends, our colleagues, our fellow humans. But if that isn't enough for you, (and oh my God WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU???) then that list of people who can get killed by the police with impunity is going to grow and grow and grow.

In a very short while it's going to include someone YOU care about.

A long time ago I was stopping by Wall-Mart on the way home from work and a friend was talking to the police, in tears. Her nephew--who had a developmental delay much like my son's, only much more far-reaching--had a meltdown in the middle of Wall-Mart, and the manager had called the police, and the police were shouting at this ten year old kid with severe Asperger's syndrome and the poor kid was losing his shit.

My friend was near tears, and asked if I could help--I was white, I was a teacher--maybe I could communicate where she was failing.

I stepped forward into the mess and tried to get an officer's attention. "He's got a disability," I said. "Please--just calm things down!"

The officer told me to get the fuck out of there, this didn't concern me. I looked at my friend and she wiped away tears and said I should go--she was worried I'd make things worse.

Her family was black, and the police were pointing guns at a ten year old boy, and I was helpless. There was nothing I could do--there was no whitesplaining to the bullies with guns, and it was her right to ask me to leave.

The whole thing resolved itself peacefully--I checked with her the next day. But God--it stuck with me. Because people with power--such as a gun--with no compassion and no training at dealing with their fellow humans are DANGEROUS to everybody involved.

If we the people ALL THE PEOPLE don't work to change the system--and that's voting work, people, and self-educating about the broken prison system, who our Attorney Generals are, who we're electing as Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and District Attorneys and school boards and OH FOR FUCKS SAKE PRESIDENTS! the system is going to stay broken, and then our society is going to stay broken, and then everybody's children are going to be in danger of dying of a knee to the throat by a sadist with a badge and a gun.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Worthy cookies

OMG--I'm so close I can taste it. I'm so close I'm leaving whole words out as I type. But Fish 5, tentatively titled School of Fish, is almost done, and I'm THRILLED. It's only taken 10 weeks.

I mean, I get it--one and a half of those weeks was consumed by an edit, and between keeping my Patreon up and a vicious case of COVID brain I'm not moving as fast as I usually do. That, and, including the extras that I always throw in, this book is going to run around 115K, and, well, that's a lot. And it took a while. And I feel guilty, but I really have picked up a lot in the past month. It just got hard to remember how to write when the entire family was HERE dammit.

Also, there were the shawls.

My cousin reported getting them--and trying them all on again and again to decide which one was hers and how she was going to disperse the others. I am kind of depressed about the social isolation thing--they live in New Jersey and New York, and there are people on that side of the country who haven't left their apartments for months, so I get it. I just always sort of enjoy throwing a box of knit goods in the middle of the room and letting the bodies hit the floor.

I'm evil that way.

Anyway-- besides watching old Star Trek TNG episodes to prepare the kids for Picard (which, by the way, is a fantastic journey-- God, I know the production values are dated, and the scripts go a little slower than we're used to now--but so good) we haven't done too much. I mean, you know it's a big deal day when you cook chicken and the kids go "Ooooooh.... chicken."

Some people are learning new languages during quarantine--I'm just trying to be able to fit out the door at the end of it. God, I miss swimming.

It also got hella hot here in the last two days. I have writing sprints in the morning with a friend, so in order to walk the dogs I had to be up at 8:15 so I could be showered and back by 10:15. At 12, I laid down for a nap and crashed, hard, then woke up at 2 thinking, "Uhm, I usually go down for my nap in an hour and now I'm so confused..."

Ah, circadian rhythms--riveting stuff, right?

Anyway-- Fish 5 is almost done, and tonight, Squish, who has pretty much had all the adolescent crises while locked up with mom and dad with no friends except on the phone, did a lovely thing for me. She went to get Oreos and stopped at my desk as I wrote, hand extended.

It seems like a small moment--but in spite of how miserable adolescence is, for me, it was like being handed a diamond tiara.

Of course I ate the cookie, whether it exceeded my calorie diary or not.

That was a really worthy cookie.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Shawls

 So--

Last summer when I was in New York I visited my cousins.

I adore my cousins--I see them rarely (as in once every ten years) and we suck at keeping in contact, but I am always so very excited to talk to them. Our fathers were sort of a trip, and it's wonderful to talk to people who understand.

Anyway, I came back from that trip determined to give them something--they'd given me hospitality and I wanted to return the favor.

What I ended up doing was--of course--yarn work. I wanted to make the women shawls.

Now, once every ten years isn't enough to really know people--so I figured I'd make a variety of shawls, and send them ALL.

Then they could sort them out.

There's a variety here--four games of yarn chicken, only one (the dark purple and green one) that I lost.

One crocheted (the rose/green infinity one) and five knitted.

Three of the knitted shawls are the Oaklet pattern--free on Ravelry, but one of them I striped (nOT in the pattern) and one of them, I took the lace pattern that was used on the edge and carried it throughout the pattern. (Harder than it sounds.  There was maths involved. Scary, scary maths.)

The dark green/purple one (the one where I lost yarn chicken on the I-Cord binding?) is done in Panda Pearl Silk Worsted. This yarn is SO discontinued that even yarns that were LIKE it were discontinued. I had to rifle the yarnchives to even find something close in COLOR.

 By the way, I'm making another version of that one--it's a Panda Pearl pattern, and I cut out the last four rows, which makes that loss in yarn chicken so much more bitter--so the new one is in a very basic mass produced super wash wool, in crimson. (Cascade 220. Ah, the classics.) Can I just say that every time I pick up the project I'm like, "Suck on THIS, yarn chicken!" because it doesn't matter how much more wool I use, there's SCADS of this and has been for at least fifteen years.

The two Oaklet shawls in the variegated color ways were done with yarn that was specialty made for the store in which I purchased it. I won yarn chicken by a matter of yards for those. (Dancing around your kitchen pumping your fists and going WOOHO! at two in the morning because you kicked the yarn chicken's ass is not something I can make my family understand.)


 The crocheted infinity shawl and the knitted hooded poncho are my own pattern.

Four out of the six projects were in fingering weight yarn.

*whew*

I think I had to list all of that because, well, I'm proud of it. My knitters and crocheters will understand what an undertaking it was--but very few others.

So, when I ask myself what I did over quarantine, I've got a book (I'm almost done with Fish 5) and this.

Shawls.






Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Hatesex and Baseball



Slow Pitch
by Amy Lane

Tenner Gibson has a job he enjoys, a prickly ex-wife, and an adorable daughter he wouldn’t trade for the world. With no romance, no sex life, and no other hobbies, a rec league softball team is as close as he gets to hedonism.

But life throws him a curveball when cocky Ross McTierney sets his sights on getting under Tenner’s skin.

One explosion of lust later, Tenner wonders what possessed him to have a quickie with Ross, and Ross wonders how to do it again.

Tenner has eight weeks to convince his tiny modern family that Ross is what’s best for him.  Ross has eight weeks to get used to the idea that complicated doesn’t always mean bad. Their sex life is moving at the speed of light, and everything in their relationship is coming at them too fast….

But together, they might make a connection and knock it out of the park.

Buy Here 

So I had this idea in my head, right? Two people from opposing teams giving each other shit and then nailing each other to the wall after the game?

It was so clear in my mind--when I started the book, I even called it Hatesex and Baseball--but my editors talked me out of it--and they were probably right to because that really does give the wrong impression of an Amy Lane book. But that instant spark, the instant fire, the instant connection--I REALLY wanted to capture that.

And then I wanted to capture the cockier of the two guys going, "Uhm... wait. I think I like you!"

And then to see what happens.

Because our first view of someone is often misleading, isn't it? We're like, "Oooh, pretty! Sexy! Want!" And then, in the course of interaction, we go, "Also human!" And then the deciding thought there is either, "Still want!" or, "Nevermind!"

I wanted guys who went, "Oh! Still want!"

So yes--in essence, it's a very simple story.

But it's also sooo easy to dive into.

It's snuggly. Its fluffy. There's a little hurt comfort in there--and I'd like to apologize for giving the two guys the plague because I wrote this in September and had no idea what was coming next. But I hope you like it.

The guys were... lovely. So lovely. Ross and Tenner were so much fun.

Enjoy.