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

Friday, January 31, 2020

Steve, Glorious Steve...


First of all, Mate is home, and there is much rejoicing! (yayayayayayayyayayay!)

It's funny how a Mate--any Mate--isn't missed so much in the big things--the grand dramatic gesture of bringing me yarn, for example, although that was much appreciated!--but in the little things.

 Touching hands as you pass through the house. Someone to watch television with. A hug in the kitchen?

I missed my Mate. It's taken me a day to assimilate to having him back again. *happy sigh* He's home.

In other news-- ZoomBoy was reviewed by an instagram influencer at his school, as @the_eternal_box. The interview should show up Tuesday, and, bless him, they asked him to wear his sweater and his scarf AND his tophat, AND his Infinity Mitten.

Apparently I have been preparing him for this moment for years.

Also, Steve seems to have claimed my yarn as her own. I, uh, think we shall have to discuss this. I mean, she couldn't possibly be that harsh a negotiator, you think?

And I am working on a plain DK weight sock. Which would probably be boring me shitless, if the color wasn't so damned purty.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Tiny Convos...

Short post tonight--my newsletter is up on Patreon for the public-- come look!  

It's been me and the kids this week, and some of it has been blargh but most of it has been us--and we've had a little bit of fun. Sometimes--whether it's at home or out and about, it's the tiny convos that keep us going throughout the day.

Little-old-lady-at-the-pool: Oh, I love vegetables--everything but Brussels sprouts.

Me: I LOVE Brussels sprouts!

LOLatP: Oh no! No no no!

Me: Well, with butter.

LOL: With BACON! 

* * *
Me, tonight, after I'd about finished my newsletter: (Posted on FB): Just realized my first five releases this year are Silent Heart, Shades of Henry, Slow Pitch, Shortbread and Shadows, and Safe Heart. So the year 2020 has been brought to Amy by the letter "S", the number "5", and the portmanteau "headdesk"

* * *

ZoomBoy *with full urgency*: Mom! Mom!
Me: What?
ZoomBoy: The domain "p*nis.c*m" is for sale for 2 million dollars!
Me: ...
ZoomBoy: We have to save up!
Me: ...
...
* * *


Me: Squish! You didn't wash the insta pot when you did the dishes!

Squish: You didn't ask me to.

Me: I did too! I said it specifically.

Squish: Did not. You're making that up.

Me: Just because you say it, doesn't mean that's true! I TOLD YOU!

Squish: Hearsay. Your word against mine. I was just sitting here, your honor, doing the dishes...

Me: ...  You can't testify at a murder trial where you're the victim.

Squish: Fine. Next time.

*  *  *

Mate (over Skype), looking at bank statements: So, I see you went to the yarn store...

Me: Well, uh, yeah. Sorry.

Mate: Well, I was going to get you some yarn from Vermont, but why would I get you yarn when you already have some?

Me: I'm sorry, what was that?

Mate: Why would I get you yarn when you already have some?

Me: I don't understand.

Mate: Why. Would. I. Get. You. Yarn--

Me: No, no, I understand you're saying the same words, I just don't get what they mean!

* * *

Mate  (over Skype again): Well I was going to get you yarn, but it turns out all the yarn stores in Vermont are closed on Tuesday.

Me: Seriously?

Mate: I'm serious! I don't know why Tuesday was their day off, but it was!

Me: That's a likely story. When do you have to be at the airport tomorrow?

Mate: 12:30.

Me: See? You have plenty of time!

Mate: I need to see my dad first! (Please remember, this was the entire reason for the trip--his dad is still not doing well, but there's neither improvement nor deterioration so Mate is coming home.)

Me: Well fine. If you're going to make THAT a priority.

Mate: I'll give him your love.

Me: Sure. YOu'll give everybody your love, but do I get any yarn?

* * *

And finit. But I do have to say-- no blog  tomorrow, because my baby's  coming home tomorrow night, and I can't wait to see him.

He's coming home <3 span="">

Monday, January 27, 2020

Letters from home...

A long time ago, when ZoomBoy and Squish were little, Mate's job took him on business trips a lot. Weird shit always managed to happen when he was gone. Raccoons in the backyard? Only once in 22 years--when he was gone. A terrible thump and a giant blood spot on the floor of the garage? A mystery never solved, even though I called the police for a drive-by. Because Mate was gone. You name the catastrophe--broken heater, little kids with the plague, big kids in crisis, animals needing emergency medical care--it all happened when Mate was gone.

I, uh, did not deal with any of that shit with grace and aplomb. I mean, for one thing I was working full time, and for another, two kids in diapers and two in middle school, and for another, I'm... you know. ME.

But I"m older now--there are only two kids and they're frighteningly self-sufficient. My only real function is taxi, and I do make dinner because otherwise they'd exist solely on Ritz crackers and oatmeal and call that nutrition.

So, much less hectic. So I was a little sad--and a little amused--when Mate and I were talking about his stay in Vermont to see to his father. (Right now the prognosis is... extended? He needs full time care but for how long? Nobody knows. I think our entire cadre of GOP senators should be put in hospitals as they're passing and told that if they don't croak within three months their family's finances will be gutted and they'll be in debt for the rest of their lives so could they hurry it up a little? Because THAT'S fucking humane.)

Anyway--Mate's trying to square things away with his stepmom and half-brother, and I'm here, guarding the fort. Yeah, I'm tired--I work until late and the kids have to be at school early--but seriously, I can deal. So I amused myself writing "letters to the front" to my brave husband far away, fighting the cold and the crud and the barbarianism of modern day health care. Please take this tongue in cheek-- that's certainly how I meant it. Twelve years ago I would have been a mess--but today, I think we're going to live.


Dear Mate--

It's hard living in this house without you. The smoke alarm went bonkers, and ZoomBoy and I had to deactivate it. It felt so final. I ordered new ones from Amazon but what if they're the wrong one?

The uncertainty is the hardest thing to bear. 

Your Amy


Dear Mate--

We spent most of yesterday shotgunning old television, because I was too tired to think of anything better to do. Taking over your chores is exhausting--how do you manage to wake up at seven in the morning? It's terrifying. There are monsters then! And cars! Fortunately we have a solution--I understand those profligate writers use it, those people who stay up until one in the morning and sometimes must function before coffee. 

It's called a nap, and after I took it, I could perform my household duties so much better. 

And I even ordered pizza.

Your Amy

Dear Mate--

The dogs miss you, beloved. Tonight they spent ten minutes running around the living room trying to find a place to sleep together because they could not share my lap. 

They ended up sleeping on my lap anyway. I'm afraid my knitting may be a bit delayed--no scarf for you.

Your Amy

Dear Mate--

Alas, we missed your call! Emboldened by the whole "nap" idea from yesterday, today I resolved to do something exciting and adventurous.

We settled for going to the movies but I had to sign up for Cinemark to do so--Can we even have two accounts in one house?

Anyway, the kids and I were enraptured by the violent poetic antics of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence--they are, indeed, the naughtiest of young men, and still watchable today. 

I'm running circles here in order to not watch any of the shows we watch together. If you're gone longer than a week, I may crack.

Forgive me for being weak, beloved--

Your Amy

Dear Mate--

It is beginning to dawn on me that on those mornings I thought we had acquired friendly dish-washing pixies, you were actually the one to wash the dishes. 

I miss you, my darling, but I rather wish it was pixies. So do the children. We'll do our best to make sure we have clean cutlery and plateware to welcome you home. 

Our poorly, sad, and pathetic best.

I do not deserve the tidiness that is you--

Sincerely,

Your Amy


Thursday, January 23, 2020

Finishing Projects

Okay... so, two nights ago, I finished Safe Heart, the third in the Search and Rescue series, and it took an extra long time because A.  Christmas, and B. Sick. So yesterday I did a Patreon story, and tonight, I... well, I finished another project.

Like Safe Heart, this one had a Christmas deadline--and I sort of missed it. In fact, both the projects you see here were for Christmas.

The sweater was for Chicken's bestie, Stevi, and I was super honored she asked me. She picked the colors (from my existing stash) and I loved crocheting it. I had Mate model it first, and he did his Jedi-Master pose, because the sort of lush hood makes it seem very Jedi-Masterish.

The scarf...

Oi.

So two years ago I finished ZoomBoy's sweater--and he's worn it to school frequently since. He asked for the colors, and picked the finishing touch--collar vs. hood, cardigan vs. pullover, etc--and I love that he loves this sweater.

Well, for Christmas, when we told the kids things were going to be a little thin, I asked him what he wanted. He'd JUST finished borrowing my Christmas scarf--made by a student, so it's been around a while--and he really wanted a scarf of his own.

"What colors?"

"I want it to match my sweater."

Oh my God. OH my God. My retina had hardly healed, I shit you not.

And, I have to admit, I was OVER crochet after finishing that sweater, so I knitted the scarf, double stranded and extra wide. I wanted it to be super lush.

When I got to the end, I remembered that the stripe pattern on the sweater was asymmetrical. The pattern on one side was purposefully different than the pattern on the other. Looked very avant-garde and, well, 80's, since we were going neon. I echoed that in the scarf--and it's more noticeable in the scarf because I threw the colors in relief. So today, in the spirit of finishing things, I took a little time off of the grind and shotgunned Leverage which is an AMAZING show, and finished the scarf. I've got a pair of socks to go, and then I can make my son's girlfriend a shawl, and my friend a VERY belated birthday present.

So there you go--I really DO knit and crochet and yarn still. Sometimes I forget that's still a thing, even though I do a little every day.

Oh! Speaking of knitting--Mate Skyped from Vermont tonight. He was wearing the sweater I made him, because... well, probably because I made it and he wanted me there. People ask me why I don't sell my yarn wear. For one thing, I"m super slow and my family would starve. But for another, finishing things is not really my strong point.

I think my family saves every sweater, hat, and (mostly) pair of fingerless mittens because they know I finished that object out of love.


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Packing for Siberia

Hey all--

First of all, I want to thank my community profusely. Just when I was sure the internet was full of spite and red dragons, everyone in my timeline rushed to me with comfort and kindness, and my faith in humanity is much restored.

I cannot thank you enough.

Today was a little better--Mate stayed home, partly to get better before his trip, and partly to pack. He went for my daily walk with me, and it occurred to us both--hey! He has no winter boots! He's going to frickin' Siberia, USA (Okay, fine, Vermont. Not Michigan or Minnesota but... fuckin' cold. That's all I'm saying) and he has no boots and no long underwear, because we live the part of Northern California that maybe sinks to the thirties in the middle of the night in January.

He spent this evening folding clothes and looking for boots at Wall-Mart online. He found some, and I bought him a decent coat when he was coaching in the rain a lot, but I was settling down to knit and watch TV when I thought, "Oh my God! Does he even have a hat?"

Now I've made him about a hundred, but they've all gone the way of my fingerless mitts. *waves distractedly* Somewhere in... you know. Our room.

Anyway--I asked him, and he goes, "Yeah. I have that one you made ZoomBoy."

"Which one I made ZoomBoy?"

"The ice cream colors. It fits perfectly."

"Uh..."

"No, here--I'll show it to you."

Okay-- during Thanksgiving, I made that hat for ME, and then Squish took it over--and then LOST it. And he was right. It fit him perfectly. Close about the head and ears, and folded over nicely for warmth.

And it was teal, brown, and purple.

I laughed a little (lot) but mostly I was reassured. He's going alone to a cold place to do a hard thing. I am really glad he's going to have something I made with him. I had seriously contemplated staying up all night and making him another hat, because I just didn't want him wearing something generic when he has me in his corner.

So, now we know what happened to  Squish's hat. My fingerless mitts, the ones that matched it? Not so much. But the hat is going to Siberia, USA, so Mate doesn't have to go completely without us.

That helps a little.

Happy week, everyone! OH! For those of you who follow me on Patreon--I've put all 10 of the Jai/George parts in order, and either tonight or tomorrow, I'm posting another episode.

Here's the Patreon, in case you're interested--enjoy!  https://www.patreon.com/AmyHEALane

Sunday, January 19, 2020

February

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDgOc3gMtFk

So, this song gets me every time--I may even have blogged about it before.

Two years ago Mate's mom passed away and we lived in February until May, when Mate realized he'd forgotten to give me a Christmas present. He made it up to me--and of course I understood. He was broken and sad inside, but this song has always had the power to chill me, because it speaks of two people who love each other and of the way the world has of freezing that love in motion.

I'm getting over the crud--thank heavens--but Mate has it now and he may have to get on an airplane soon because his father is dying, and we're not sure how we're going to buy the ticket.

This year we are worried, finances are what they are, my job which I've loved--partly because I've loved the people I've written for (everyone reading this, you're probably on that list)--is fractured and and frightening. The jungle of misinformation, speculation, and outright lies is thick and difficult to navigate, and I've gotten very specific about who I talk to about what's really in my heart. Too many snakes ready to poison, too many beasties, ready to bite.

I look every day for compassion and humor in the world--and most often I'm rewarded. I cling to every interaction hoping it will give me warmth so my heart doesn't freeze over. February is coming. My Mate is sick and he's sad, and his heart is about to break and I can do nothing for him. Material things which can offer a cushion and a distraction aren't going to be available for a while, and the places  I've gone to so I can charge my batteries and keep his heart warm are red and jagged and ready to slice open my nerve or my artery at a wrong word.

So I listen to this song and remember--February will end. For those of you who wonder where I get my ideas, there are a few lines about a crocus at the end of this song that gave me the idea for my book, Crocus.  They're about how you can't forget that signs of spring, signs of rebirth, signs of hope are out there in the world. You can't forget that love which may have frozen can come back to life.

 I may finish a book tonight--and you know what?

No matter how cold February is, no matter how anxious and frightened I am about finances and what is to come, finishing a book is still something I'm proud of. I know--you look at my roster and you think, "Uhm, old hat much?"

No.

So there you go. Crocuses in February.

Like the end of the book, I know it may happen.

That love which may have frozen can come back to life.






Friday, January 17, 2020

Poor Steve

So, the kids were going to put the cats in their crates this morning, while I stole another half-hour of sleep, but things didn't go as planned.

We were all thinking, "We've got two crates, one of them's big-- we can probably just put two cats in the big crate."

But the two cats were too big to room together in the big crate, so they tried to put one cat and then the other in the small crate, a crate that has crated all our cats for about twenty-five years.

Apparently not these cats anymore. These cats were far too large for this little crate, so I said, "Fuck it-- Steve's got a dental cleaning, it's a bigger appointment, I'll take her!"

Dewey, that little shit, got to flounce out, fluffing his ruff and tail as he went. "Little does he know!" I thought. "I am going to make another appointment for him AND Nebula today! That'll show him!" And I did.

So I took Steve and got a call that they were going to do her dental cleaning in an hour right before I went to pick up kids. I picked up kids, came home and napped, and when I woke up, there was a panic message on my phone.

Her temperature spiked, oh no, they couldn't put her under, and then her blood pressure and her blood glucose and omg she's never reacted to opioids like this before and--

And I called them back and they were like, "Uh... how about we do this tomorrow."

I was like, "Okay-- since we've got an appointment for Dewey tomorrow at nine, we'll just slide Steve into that spot, and I'll bring Nebula too."

They were like, "Okay-- that's convenient," and so we're planning to do that.

But Steve looks sick and sad and mad. And they don't want to charge me anything-- they're thinking they don't have to do a bunch of stuff over, so this will all go on the plan, but I'm like, "You know, if she's not up to it, maybe we just put it off for three months until she feels better. Cause I know what it's like to not be up to some fucking bullshit and I'd just rather not."

So tomorrow, Steve may be back at the vet's office. But I swear, if she's not happy tonight? Im just putting Dewey in the car carrier because he's due.


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Nature of Revolution

So I've been sick for almost a week, and I was feeling a little better today (let's see how long I can write tonight tho--I have the feeling too many nights of sleeping upright so I don't break a rib coughing are about to catch up with me) and the kids and I had...

Well, it sort of an awesome conversation.

It started out when Squish started talking about Frankenstein, and how the privileged white man made a mess and refused to take care of it and it consumed him.

Then ZoomBoy said, "Yeah, and we read A Modest Proposal today-- it was hilarious!"

I was so excited!  "It was, too! I mean, you got it, right? That Swift was saying that since the English aristocracy had pretty much devoured the parents with their taxes and inhumane treatment of the Irish that they might as well devour the children!"

ZoomBoy hadn't been prepped with that part of the history-- I told him about the sanctions against the Irish during the Age of Enlightenment and how Swift was a clergyman in a poor Irish slum--Presbyterian? Anglican? I forget-- but that he was so beloved the churches of Ireland rang their bells at his death, because he was kind and humanitarian to everybody, but the English didn't understand irony because (go figure) the men in power weren't that bright, and they didn't understand the power of irony, particularly when it was aimed at them.

We discussed the finer points of Modest Proposal some more and then Squish said, "Well, it's like the French Revolution, isn't it? Where civil unrest continues on and the people in power get killed and the next people in power get too power hungry and they get killed, because by then they're too mad to listen to reason!"

"Yes!" I said excitedly. "And then you get diabolism, where people are so angry they believe 'If you're not with me, you're evil and need to be slaughtered!' Did you know about Maximillian Robespierre who was so bloodthirsty that he managed to convince a tribunal to kill over 1,300 people?"

"Oh my God! That's terrible!"

"Yes--and because he was with the revolution, everyone assumed he was a good guy, but the truth was, he just liked to watch people who didn't agree with him bleed. You see a lot of those types on Twitter."

"Yeah," ZoomBoy said. "It's frustrating when they're progressive--they make people afraid of progressives because they're terrifying."

"Right?"

"So when did the revolution end?" Squish asked. "Did they just run out of people to kill?"

"No-- they ran out of government, because they'd nuked the existing government without a plan for one to take it's place. And they were sort of milling about going, 'But what do we do now' when Napoleon grabbed a flag and screamed, 'Follow me into war and bloodshed and let's take over the world!'"

"And what then?" Squish asked.

"And a hundred years later, Lenin grabbed a flag and said, 'Follow me into war and bloodshed and let's take over the world!'"

"And then twenty years later in Germany..." ZoomBoy said.

"...Adolph Hitler grabbed a flag and screamed, 'Follow me into war and bloodshed and let's take over the world!"

We all sighed. "And then Orwell wrote a book," I said, "about how language can be used against us, and Arthur Miller wrote a play about how not having complex adult thinking can lead to chaos."

"Mom, English is a really great subject," ZoomBoy said.

"Yeah--and Frankenstein was a dick," Squish added.

"You guys are gonna save us all," I said, and then we all went to do chores and homework and play video games.

Because you can only solve the world's problems some of the time. But y'all, it was a REALLY good time.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Well that sucked...

So, two days of being too sick to write--and believe me, I've got to be WAY OUT OF IT to be too sick to write-- and I have one thing to show for breathing on the planet.

I finished this sweater.

I promise we'll have a picture with Stevi, who asked me to make it for her because I've given her and Chicken matching sweaters for probably the last six years. I make sweaters for family, and she is family, and I was super proud that she asked.

But sweaters are maybe one of the hardest things for a knitter like me--who likes to flit from project to project-- to make. So this was a labor of love, because the sleeves seemed to take forever and the hood was a black hole that I could only accomplish when sick and sedated and too stupid to write but not exactly setting the world on fire in the housecleaning department.

I am really looking forward to giving it to her--I let her pick the colors, and, again, only family. (I get tired of colors--it's why I make lots of hand warmers in bright hand-dyed color ways.)

So that leaves two more things I promised for Christmas that I should finish up this month-- phew!

Anyway-- I'm feeling a little better now. If I'm super super lucky, I can sleep, but I'm not going to hold my breath. I'd probably just end up coughing anyway. But tomorrow--TOMORROW--as Dog is my witness, I will spend my day writing again.

By the way-- ignore the two missing buttons and the ends I hadn't sewn in yet. Mate actually spent a busy sunday and he WAS tired at bed time, and I wanted him to take the picture wearing it before he went to sleep. I've since taken care of the niceties, and if there's more wandering ends, I need Stevie to point them out to me.

This sweater pattern-- one of my own "let's wing it!" raglan yoke patterns, is a variation on Mate's own Jedi sweater, which was a pullover. I used one of the Plymouth self-striping yarns for the body and sleeves, and I do like this blend--25% wool, 75% polyester-- for a sturdy sweater that can be washed ad infinitum. And it's super colorfast. And as for the toggle buttons? I got 50 of them from Amazon, and they've been one of my favorite craft purchases ever. Those things go with pretty much everything--and they're super easy to use.

So let's hear it for some real sleep tonight and some writing tomorrow. No swimming, because not even I am dumb enough to swim when I'm just coming off a cold. (This is a lesson hard learned--for the of you who've read Winter Ball, Skip's horrible fever/cold was written while I spent three weeks fighting off what could have been a one week cold if I had just stayed out of the pool.)

I sure do miss writing when I'm too stupid to do it!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Blessings

Okay--I'm depressed and sad and my hot water heater is dying.

And I'm sick and have the crud.

But there are blessings. There are always blessings. I don't say "How can things get any worse," any more. We've watched that play out on the national stage--it can get worse. It's getting worse right now.

But the one thing the threat of imminent nuclear annihilation can give you is perspective on how you've lived your life.

Have I lived it on my terms? Have I injured as few people as possible and apologized when I could? Have I given joy to as many people as possible? Have I been true to my family, my friends, and my art?

Everyone has to answer those questions on their own, I guess. But right now, I'm counting my blessings.

Small dogs

Afternoon naps

Teenagers that tell you about their crushes

Teenagers that show you their memes

Husbands that hug

Cats that stake their claim

A crocheted project that has (finally!) entered the hood stage

Chicken soup

Doris Day and Rock Hudson

Jay Hernandez (and laugh lines in the corners or the eyes)

Friends that text

Friends that meme

Friends that ask to read that next chapter

Grown daughters that give you book reports

Grown sons that meet you at the movies with their girlfriends

Two excellent versions of Little Women

McDonald's Holiday Pies in January

And this: My daughters are a bit... sarcastic, in nature. They're not cruel--they show kindness in their everyday lives. But Mate was a little disturbed when they cackled evilly over the death of a redeemed villain in a recent, uh, movie franchise. "My hard-hearted daughters!" I told him it was just this fictional death, and most of the time, they're almost human.

But we saw Little Women on cheap-movie-Tuesday, and I'm pretty sure you all know there's a death in the middle. A sisterly death in the middle. In particular, the death of a younger, blue-eyed, red-headed sister. Mate and I were sniffling through, trying to not incur their scorn (it's happened more often than you can fathom. Les Miserable-- my kids, trying not to nod off, me, chorking big mouthfuls of air, tears, and snot as it ended.)  Suddenly, we heard twin big gulping sobs. Both of them. One would stop, they'd make eye contact, and the other would start. It was just beautiful. Cause, you know, sisters.

Ah, nothing like traumatizing your young at the movies.

Blessings. I've got 'em.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Now Available--Silent Heart

Silent Heart

Search and Rescue: Book Two
Dog wrangler Preston Echo has been in love with his brother’s best friend, copilot, and business partner since high school—and Damien Ward knew it. As Preston grew into a stunning, hard-willed man, Damien began to dream of Preston too. 

Then Damien almost died in a helicopter crash. While his physical wounds are slowly healing, the blows to his self-confidence and goodwill are almost worse. His body is broken and he’s afraid to fly—how can Preston love him now? 

When Preston’s brother goes on a search-and-rescue mission and disappears in an earthquake zone in Mexico, Preston and Damien are thrown together in an effort to find him and bring him back. Preston’s merciless honesty—and relentless passion—may leverage Damien into his bed, but can Damien overcome his fears to allow himself to stay there? 

Book LInks




I hope you all enjoy this story!  

It's funny how we tap into our past experiences when we least expect to. I know one of my first books was about a horse rancher, but the truth is, I'm not great with horses. I had a couple of bad experiences when I was young--one of them is very like the experience Preston had in this book. I know those injuries--they were mine!

So as a Libra, I vacillate-- on the one hand, horses are beautiful, intelligent animals who are majestic and lovely and should be treated like kings!

On the other, they're one-ton idiot dogs who have a big blind spot in their vision and can look at something a thousand times and then lose their shit on the thousand and first.

And, as a Libra, in this book, I wrote a character for each side--Damien adores horses, and even the super bitchy ones.

And Preston?

Preston thinks they're idiot dogs. (Just remember--Preston adores dogs. He just doesn't like to ride them.)




Idiot Dogs

By Amy Lane



Preston doesn’t like horses.

Dogs, he gets—he understands dogs for what they are: companions with some limitations.  He recognizes the circle of life in dogs—and that dogs are here for a shorter time than humans so we need to appreciate them while they are here. He recognizes that dogs need to be protected and catered to. Just like he needs his math games to keep his brain centered, his dogs need their treats so they know when it’s time to work. Everybody has their needs in order to do their job.

He’s very very copacetic with dogs.

Horses (to Preston) are big, dumb panicky animals that can hurt him if he’s not careful.

They’re like dogs—except they weigh a ton, and if a dog gets excited, he gets mud on your shirt, but if a horse gets excited, he kills you.

Damien on the other hand adores horses. They are to him, like airplanes and vehicles of any sort. If you treat a horse right, he will let you fly—and when Damien is whole and well, and has his hero on, flying is his very best thing.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately for us,) in the course of Silent Heart, both men need to deal with dogs andhorses, and the results are, well, unpredictable.

Preston gets thrown from a horse at one point—and his injuries when he landed are the same injuries I sustained as a middle schooler in an ill-advised attempt on my part to harness the power and the beauty of a magnificent animal.

As it turns out, I am not made for magnificent animals. I am more made for tiny mediocre animals with delusions of grandeur. 

But heroes like Damien are made for magnificent animals, and this is all the more frustrating for Preston. He is aware of his limitations. His dogs are specially trained, and there is a need for them and this fills him with pride—but it is hard for him to go outside his comfort zone, and while he can do it, he needs more time to center himself and arrange his very unique brain, and he needs his routine, or he loses all of the things he can do in the very concrete maze of the things he can’t. Preston wants to go all the places Damien can go—but horses are never going to be his thing, and flying by the seat of his pants will never be his thing, so Damien must be the one to change.

Fortunately for both of them, Damien—who will never stop loving horses—has also come to crave peace and quiet. The activity of Preston’s home, training and caring for the many dogs Preston and his crew care for, has the potential to give Damien peace he’s never had. 

So when Preston offers to get horses for Damien, horses Damien can ride on his property, while Preston is training his dogs, this is—for these two men—the equivalent of a marriage gift. This is Preston’s way of saying, “I will never love horses—but I love you. I will get horses for you, if you will come to my quiet home and love me.”

Damien has known Preston for nearly twenty years—he understands what horses mean.

The question is, will he take Preston up on his offer?

Well, it is a romance—the answer is, probably. Because sometimes the grand romantic gesture comes from the most unlikely of places.

In Preston’s case, it’s in the willingness to host idiot dogs on his property, because he knows they are, in reality, the magnificent animals his lover adores.

Monday, January 6, 2020

2020 Kermit Flail! Here's to a Bright and Shiny New Year!














WOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! (And YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYA
YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY
AYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!!!!!!)


Oh my word, 2019 could not end soon enough!

And with the New Year comes a new resolution to read more, and hey, do I have the solution to your problems right here!

Starting with Edie Montreaux, a dear friend of mine, and the friend of another dear friend, who sat me down at a Yaoi-Con one year and said, "How do you do what you do?" Folks, she took notes--and now here we have her second novel from MLM Press, and I am so excited for her!  It looks like fantasy at its finest, and it's got a "enemy of my enemy is my lover" kind of vibe, so definitely check it out!

Moving on we've got the very prolific--and of course, fantastic--Kim Fielding, who has another addition to her "Love is not..." Series. This one is for us angst whores out there, and I've read the first two in this series, and they were delicious and painful and ever so real. Kim is the mistress of making her characters hurt so good (emotionally), so if that's your kind of candy, I can't think of a better brand!

Next, we've got E.J. Russell, M/M's answer to Mary Janice Davison. She writes quirky, funny, delightful paranormal romance that makes you laugh and sigh at the same time. This time she's tackling werewolves, and it looks adorable--and sometimes we really need adorable, right?

And finally we've got the second book in my Search and Rescue series, Preston and Damien's book, Silent Heart. I'm currently writing Glen and Cash's book, and loving every minute of it--and I'm pretty sure Spencer (whom we meet at the end of Preston and Damie's book) is going to have his own story to tell.

Either way, I hope you all enjoy Preston and Damien--they had some seriously fantastic moments, and boy, do I love writing action/adventure romance!

So there you go-- four different flavors of romance for all you romance lovers out there. I hope your New Year is starting off right, and may an entire year of reading be yours to savor!





The King's Physician 

by Edie Montreaux 

Devlin was the King’s Physician until a blood mage siphoned Devlin’s magic and used it to wipe the kingdom’s memories. Sir Eldrich, his replacement, has protection against Filvane’s spells, but he only knows the whispered rumors: Devlin, the former King’s Physician, stole King Korgon’s crown on his coronation day.

Once Eldrich is appointed King’s Physician, Devlin notices a decline in King Korgon’s health and wonders if Eldrich is to blame. When Eldrich nearly bleeds to death on Devlin’s doorstep from grievous sword wounds, they’re thrown together in a race to keep King Korgon alive. They question the other’s allegiance to their king, but it will take their combined efforts and trust to stop Filvane from destroying Korgon and the entire realm of the living. In the end, these two physicians may have more in common than their titles. They may even fall in love.



Buy Here 




Love Has No Direction

By Kim Fielding


Yet another series of poor decisions lands Parker Levin back in his mother’s house, working at her coffee shop, and feeling like a failure. Then he learns his ex-boyfriend has died by suicide and things go from bad to worse. When he meets a handsome stranger, he doesn’t have much left to lose. 

Ten years ago Wesley Anker made a grave mistake. Since then he’s lived in near isolation, supporting himself by making custom furniture and only rarely connecting with other people. When he attempts to make amends, he encounters Parker, a beautiful and colorful young man, and he agrees to Parker’s impulsive request to join him.  

Together, Parker and Wes find quick friendship and fierce attraction. But Wes’s past demons haunt his footsteps, and Parker’s struggle to plan a future has him stumbling through life. Then they uncover evidence that suggests Parker’s ex’s death might not have been a straightforward suicide, and every path seems to lead to dead ends and destruction. Can Parker and Wes find their way to lasting love when the route is hidden?





Howling on Hold

By E.J. Russell

Sometimes it’s harder to teach a young dog new tricks.

That’s why werewolves embark on a Howling: a three-year rite of passage in which they’re sent to a group residence to wrestle with their wolfy instincts and assimilate into the Wider World. But Tanner Araya’s Howling is almost over, and he could be called back to his remote pack at any moment. His twenty-first birthday might be his last chance to act on his strongest instinct and finally kiss Chase Denney.

Chase is RA at the Howling residence affectionately dubbed “the Doghouse,” and he takes his job seriously. So seriously that when he realized he was developing feelings for a resident, he forced himself to keep Tanner at a distance. But now that Tanner’s twenty-one, he’s not Chase’s charge any longer. They could be friends or—if Chase is lucky—something more. At least until they both return to their home packs for good, as tradition demands.

It would take a miracle for them to get together—especially when the other Doghouse werewolves insist on “helping.”

Warning: Many Frisbees are harmed in this story, forgiveness is not always easier than permission, and the five-second rule does not apply.

Releasing January 13, 2020. Pre-order here:


Silent Heart

by Amy Lane

Search and Rescue: Book Two
Dog wrangler Preston Echo has been in love with his brother’s best friend, copilot, and business partner since high school—and Damien Ward knew it. As Preston grew into a stunning, hard-willed man, Damien began to dream of Preston too. 

Then Damien almost died in a helicopter crash. While his physical wounds are slowly healing, the blows to his self-confidence and goodwill are almost worse. His body is broken and he’s afraid to fly—how can Preston love him now? 

When Preston’s brother goes on a search-and-rescue mission and disappears in an earthquake zone in Mexico, Preston and Damien are thrown together in an effort to find him and bring him back. Preston’s merciless honesty—and relentless passion—may leverage Damien into his bed, but can Damien overcome his fears to allow himself to stay there? 



A real life bonfire and lying to dogs


So this is short--it's super late, and I've got a promo tour to write in a minute, and, well, tired.

But yesterday we had a delightful change of pace.

Mate's cousin is staying on Mate's grandmother's property (which is now ours) and generally fixing it up in lieu of rent. Folks, given how much work he's doing, I feel like we should still pay him for living there--it's really amazing. But one of the things he does is keep up the property itself--and there's some acreage there.  Keeping things clean is a big task, and there's a lot of underbrush, and in the foothills, that means burning stuff. You call up the weatherboard, ask if it's a burn day, and if so--woohoo--you can get rid of your organic waste.

In this case, Ira decided to make a thing out of it, and he invited friends and some family and Mate and I and the kids and, of course, the dogs.

It was fun.

Children ran around and played, adults talked politics (which is tricky as liberals in the foothills) and generally, engaged in peopling. The dogs took turns being puzzled and happy and tussling and scared and cold, and the kids got to make marshmallows, and, in ZoomBoy's case, he got to help with the fire. I didn't let him pour gasoline on it (yes, they did that to make it catch-- it's super wet in the foothills right now and the fog had dampened everything considerably) but he did run around and keep the perimeter shoveled and neat so nothing caught that shouldn't. He also helped put it out, by stirring the coals up while Ira wet them down, and generally, it was very butch and boyish and he enjoyed himself considerably.

And the dogs cuddled with us as we sat and looked at us reprovingly when we got up to move. 

I, of course, got cold. 

But that's okay--I warmed up eventually, all was well.

Anyway-- it was a fun time, and I wanted to remark on it, because I was away from the internet and my phone and I have zero--ZERO--regrets. Ah, real life. Ain't it... you know. Real?

Anyway--

Mentally abusing my dogs (as I'm sure they thought of the long journey and the unfamiliar surroundings as) made me remember another quote from The Crucible. 

*  It's hard to give a lie to dogs. -- John Proctor

Proctor has been imprisoned for several months by this time, and the elders of the town and the judges are starting to see that they have been... hasty. The girls have taken off, and if they are going to save face, they need this man--this stalwart opposition of the witch-hunting madness--to confess. If he confesses, then they have, indeed, found witches, but if he doesn't, well, they'll hang him, and the others with him, because they have their pride, but in the end, everyone will know they're frauds. (And, you may surmise, truly, truly horrible shitty people, but moving on...)

The judges ask Proctor's wife to talk him into confessing--she's been imprisoned as well, but she's pregnant, and she has, in the course of the play, realized that her husband truly loves her. She misses him and their sons, and while she is a good person, she's past the point of caring about their reputation. She wants her husband back. She asks him why he hasn't confessed until now, and he replies, "It's hard to give a lie to dogs."

What does this mean?

It means that people who would choose between hanging people and humiliating them to save their own pride aren't worth his false confession. They are snarling bitter pack of feral creatures with no souls--not the sweet and loyal domesticated creatures, these are the wild dogs that would rip apart children and cats for sport. They're too stupid to know good meat from bad meat--or truth from a lie--so why give them anything? Proctor is angry--he's had his life ripped away by idiots who don't understand that they were being played by a whore. He'd rather give them nothing than actually be forced to lie--a thing he was incapable of doing even when he was unfaithful to his wife--even if they're savaging his flesh. They. Are. Dogs. They're not intelligent enough or loyal or compassionate enough to even understand what they're eating. Why should he debase himself enough to play their game?

And in the end, while tempted by the promise of his wife and his sons back, the chance to live a quiet farmer's life, he cannot give these dogs the damned lie. He can't nail a lie to the door of the church and let the world believe he's everything the screaming adolescent harpies have accused him of. It is his name--it is all he has in the world and he'll never have another.

And they're dogs. They don't deserve his lie.

*whew*  

Okay-- so there you go. Bonfires and lying to dogs. 

And finally, finally, letting Christmas vacation march to a quiet, happy end.


Friday, January 3, 2020

Quotes from "The Crucible"

So, I gave sort of an overview of this play in a link of yesterday's blog, but, again, it's been haunting me.

I thought I'd go over some quotes that have resonated with me for over thirty years--

*  This society will not be a bag to swing around your head, Mr. Putnam-- John Proctor

At the beginning of the story, Mr. Putnam senses that the girls found dancing in the forest can be used to sow dissent--he can profit from this. He's jealous of John Proctor, he's jealous of his other neighbors--he thinks everybody in the town has it better than he does, and is he not a just and righteous man? When John Proctor tries to keep things calm and rational, Putnam starts leveling accusations before the first girl has even stopped pretending to be comatose. Proctor is telling him that the small gathering of people with the singular purpose of self-preservation is not his weapon to start bludgeoning his neighbors for more power.

* Oh, Elizabeth, your justice would freeze beer-- John Proctor

This is almost a humorous line--but in the end it's the gaping flaw in the entire Puritan philosophy. Proctor did a bad thing--a human thing, true, but a bad one. He confessed his sin to his wife, he tried to make up for it--he cast Abigail out of the house, but didn't sully her name, knowing he bore some responsibility for the affair. Divorce is unheard of, and Proctor is trying desperately to make amends. His wife is civil--but never warm. Of course, the reason for this comes at the end, when it is too late for their town and themselves, and it's a heartbreaking one, built on the lie of Elizabeth's plainness and "unworthiness" for Proctor, when Proctor has been desperately in need of her love. This line is at the beginning, when Proctor is bringing her flowers, shyly trying to restart a relationship with her, and she is cold and distant and says she's been fair. Sure. But "fairness" is cold comfort to flawed humans who want warmth and kindness instead.

*  A child's spirit is like a child, you can never catch it by running after it; you must stand still, and, for love, it will soon itself come back.--Rebecca Nurse

This is actually really sound advice in both the rearing of children and in dealing with childish people. The girls are freaking out because they've been caught dancing in the woods. One of them has been catatonic because she's so afraid of her family's wrath. Rebecca Nurse has born eleven children and now has twenty-six grandchildren. She says she's seen them through their "silly seasons"-- and you don't do it by playing the child's game. Children are illogical and they often make decisions based on mistaken information. Just stand still, take a deep breath, and wait for the child to wear itself out. If you aren't an ogre or a despot, the child will return out of love, and the gentle instruction and communication can begin to get the family back on track.

Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. And you know I can do it; I saw Indians smash my dear parents' heads on the pillow next to mine, and I have seen some reddish work done at night, and I can make you wish you had never seen the sun go down!--Abigail Williams

Abigail Williams is a girl with an agenda. She was the one who led the girls to go dancing in the woods, and her sole purpose was to cast a charm to get John Proctor back--and before you think, "Well, she was a girl in love with an older man!" let's not forget--she also wanted to kill his wife. She's canny, she's clever, and she knows the "adults" around her are easily manipulated--but before she can give herself over to her plan, she needs to make sure her cohorts--the girls she led into the woods--aren't going to break. This is a breathtaking threat. It speaks of violence and bullying and a very real determination to win at all cost. But it's not made in public. Anyone who so much as hints that Abigail has an ulterior motive is accused of "witchcraft"-- and there's a detailed explanation (I'll skip it cause I'm tired) about the fractured logic that makes it impossible to accept any proof but accusation for an "invisible crime." By confessing to the world and then claiming she knows who the witches are, Abigail has become the center of the maelstrom--and don't you dare cross her. Power is in perception--Abigail is perceived as being "clean as God's fingers"--but don't ever forget that her dedication to "accusing witches" is really a way to get back at anybody who ever slighted her or anybody she was jealous of to begin with. 

Perhaps because there are those who believe that authority is all of a piece and that to challenge it anywhere is to threaten it everywhere.--Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller wrote extensive essays in the stage directions of The Crucible, often in an attempt to explain how the phenomena of a group of people being controlled by the most awful and manipulative of its members can occur. How do otherwise rational people fall into the trap of listening to lies, slander, and hysterical ranting in order to convict other people of ridiculous crimes? He wrote it as an allegory for McCarthyism--but his canny assessment of the cracked reasoning of humans is just as valid for your average social media shitstorm. In his treatises against "Diabolism" as he called it, he tried to expose the lie of dichotomous thinking. It is perfectly logical that somebody could believe in witchcraft and despise the idea of selling your soul to Satan, but still not believe that the witchcraft being called out in their community is a valid thing. That is the complex thinking of an adult. But that's not what happens in phenomena like this. What happens is, "If you don't yes me, you hate me! If you hate me, you choose evil!" There is no room for adult thought patterns here--it's all black and white. Believing that all of authority must be obeyed and none of it can be threatened falls right into the trap of dichotomy--and it's what allows perfectly rational people to believe the worst of their fellow humans when, in fact, all that is true is that they are human. 

* You are pulling down heaven and raising up a whore! -- John Proctor

This one's self-explanatory. When Proctor realizes that the girls accusing pretty much everyone of witchcraft are not only believed, they're willing to destroy people who get in their way, he speaks out against it. Of course, the result is he gets accused, and eventually hanged, but in the meantime we have this very pretty quote in which he tries to make it clear that the word of a bunch of immature, frightened, and power-mad children is taking the place of the words of faith and guidance which he thought they all believed in.

Is the accuser always holy now? Were they born this morning as clean as God's fingers? I'll tell you what's walking Salem—vengeance is walking Salem. We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!--John Proctor

There's a lot to unpack here. I actually quote this one a lot--but usually in pieces. The first part says it all. The people screaming accusations aren't questioned. Besides being vengeful, petty children, they're also being guided by vengeful, petty adults. Dad wants some guy's land? Well, couldn't his little darling see it in herself to accuse his neighbor so he can have it all? Mom only had one child who lived? Well damn that old woman who had eleven! We need to get some payback! Nobody ever asked "Why that person?" They simply believed in the "invisible crime". The accusers in the center of a shitstorm like this are never without blame--but boy, doesn't shouting someone else's name and pointing a finger make them look spotless? Vengeance is walking Salem--the screaming children are getting theirs for every small slight, every spanking, every parent who didn't take them seriously, and the adults are letting them, with glee. The little crazy children are in power now, and common vengeance writes the law. 

I should hang ten thousand that dared to rise against the law, and an ocean of salt tears could not melt the resolution of the statutes--Danforth (or Hathorn?)

I'll be honest--I forget which constipated white man said this one but it's just such white-guy-in-a-suit reasoning. This goes hand in hand with the one above, in which Arthur Miller tries to explain that authority is "all of one piece" and to challenge one part of it is to challenge it all. The purpose of the laws is to keep people safe and to keep them from killing each other--but laws aren't all encompassing. There needs to be human compassion written into the language and the interpretation, or we end up with monsters like this saying sententiously--and feeling very justified about it too-- that it's better to hang ten-thousand people who question the law than to let one person off the hook in the name of simple basic human compassion.  White-man justice at its finest, right?

Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!--John Proctor

At the end of the play, Proctor is given a choice. Admit to witchcraft (which he didn't practice) and sign a paper that will hang on the church door where everybody can see it. He can live to see his unborn child be born, to have a second chance with his wife, to start all over again with a clean slate.

But the cost? The cost will be consigning all the people who won't sign the false confession to hang--when he knows they are innocent, possibly more innocent than he is, because he has lost his faith in God and what he believes is his goodness way back in Act 3. (Or was it 2--I always forget-- is this play 3 or 5 acts... well, it's been a while.)  Anyway, the point is, his name, his reputation, which is pretty much the only thing he has left after Abigail Williams has disappeared with the money (to die as a whore, we find out later--life goals for the center of the shitstorm, I guess) is something he isn't ready to part with yet. 

He is not a witch. He has done no wrong. His only crime was in telling the authorities that be that the girls screaming accusations weren't in the right. He can live knowing he was right and bailed, or he can die knowing he kept his good name. 

He picks his good name, and his wife's good opinion, and is hanged while reciting the Lord's Prayer--as a witch shouldn't have been able to do.

I really love this play--I mean, there are a thousand quotes and a thousand ideas in it that help explain the inexplicable--why do people who are supposedly a part of a singular community, one based on reason and compassion, turn on each other on a dime. 

For me, one of the saddest parts is something that happens at the end-- a minor character starts complaining about cows in the road. Half the town is imprisoned. There are cows who can't be contained, children going from door to door hoping to be fed, fields lying fallow without plowing. What was once a prosperous community with some flaws and some issues that needed hammering out is now a wasteland, and the screaming voices that started it are now long gone, and what's left are neighbors-- the neighbors who called people out, and the neighbors who were accused-- who are unable to meet each other's eyes. I mean, what did they do next? How do you meet your neighbor's eyes when you were in the courtroom screaming, "WITCH! WITCH! WITCH!" because someone you were a little jealous of gathered herbs you'd never seen? How does a community come back from that? I mean, they must have. Salem exists to this day.

But it must have been a cold and lonely road back for everyone involved.