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

Monday, October 19, 2020

What Time is It Again?

 It's weird. After nearly 28 years of motherhood, I've developed a sort of litany, chapter and verse, to the problems of the other denizens of my household. 

"Have you slept? Do you need a nap? Have you eaten? When was the last time you drank water? Did you poop? How long ago? Consistency? Were there cramps with that? Is your period coming on? How's your homework? Are you being bullied at school? Online? Is something wrong at work? How's your bedding, has it been cleaned? Did you take a Tums? An Advil? A CBD gummi? Do you have a dentist appointment coming soon? Wait--did you watch a scary movie when you know they give you nightmares?"

"But Mom! I stubbed my toe!"

"Right--Advil. Sorry--forgot to ask. Did you put a bandaid on it."

"No."

"Then do that, don't forget the Advil, and maybe don't put shoes on for a bit. We good? Did I make it better?"

"Yes!"

"Good. Now give me a hug. Because I need one, that's why. I'm traumatized now."

And so on.

So, about last night.

I was up late writing... witness the time stamp here.

And there I was, up late, alone, the only sound the steady breathing of the small dogs at my feet and the clacking of my keyboard. Just me and my characters, alone... alone...

Except for the adolescent angsting coming from Squish's room!

"Squish? Are you okay?"

*sobs* "I'm fine! Go away!"

"If you're sure..."

"I'm FINE Mom!"

"Yeah, okay..."

And I resume my clacking. 

My characters are a riot, and I'm so excited to be working on Spencer's book, and I am sucked down, down, down--

"OHMYGODI'MDYING!"

This is from Mate's room--and before anyone panics, truly, this happens every other night. When I'm asleep next to him, I've gotten very adept at just throwing an arm out to pin him to the bed, otherwise he goes lurching about our overfilled room in an attempt to maim himself on the furniture.

But I'm not in bed, I'm at my desk, so I get up and hurry to the bedroom and sure enough, he's sprawled across the bed, face down, going, "I can't breathe!"

I drape myself across him--because usually this works--and he shouts, "GET OFF OF ME AND GO AWAY!"

Well, fine. It's not like I wasn't doing anything in the first place, right?

So, I'm at my computer again, and ten minutes later, he pads in, sheepish and apologetic. "I'm sorry."

"I know."

"I was in the middle of a bad dream."

"I know."

"I thought I couldn't breathe."

"I know."

He hugs me, and there is come canoodling. And then he looks at the time. "It's almost two!"

"Yeah. I won't be long."

More canoodling, and then he goes back to bed.

And ten minutes later, ZoomBoy comes out. "I'm going to throw up. And I"m anxious. And it's freaking me out."

"Okay." And before I can run through my litany, he goes, "I just want some air. I think that will help.'

Sure. He slides open the door, sits down on the porch and goes, "Can you come comfort me?"

"Of course."

And me and ZoomBoy do the dance for the next hour. I repeat the litany, and he's answering all the questions--including the water one and the did you poop one--with familiarity, and then, about an hour in, he gets dodgy. 

"Well," I say. "Did you take Tums?"

"No?"

"Here, let's go take them."

"Mom... the red ones taste awful."

"Well that's only the new ones. I bought some of the old chalky ones because you all seem to like those better."

He perks up. "I could do that."

And ten minutes later he goes to bed, feeling better.

Which means the time I'm sliding into bed is... well, nearly four a.m.

And I'm wound like a clock by now, so it takes me an hour to get to sleep.

Sometime in there, Nebula slinks in and insists he needs to be fed wet food now or he shall waste away and DAEEEEEEEE, and I feed him about eight, and go back to bed until nine-thirty, when I drag myself out of bed with the fuzzy conviction that if I don't get out of bed, go walking, do my regular daytime routine, and take my nap at two like I usually do, I shall destroy my sleep patterns for the next two months.

Sure.

The result is, I am smucking fuseless for the rest of the day.

I literally become one with the couch--and I had plans, things like laundry and answering e-mail and other things like that--but Mate turns on SNL and I am toast. (btw, Issa Rae is luminous. Needed to be said.) But at 2:30 pm I call uncle and head to the bathroom before taking my nap.

On my way out of the bathroom, I stub my toe, hard.

"Are you okay?" ZoomBoy asks.

"No," I tell him shortly.

I limp into the kitchen, toe ACHING, and ask Mate if there's any bandaids. "Only the big ones," he replies.

Still half-asleep, I take out a pair of scissors, split a bandaid in half lengthwise while still in the wrapper, and present my toe and the bandaid to Mate.

"I can't look," I tell him.

"Ulll..."

"Great."

"Your nail is loose."

"Fantastic. Can you wrap it?"

"Yeah, are you ok--"

"I'm gonna take some Advil," I tell him. "And go to bed."

"Sure."

"I'm going to drink lots of water."

"Of course."

"And eat lunch when I wake up."

"Good idea."

It is not, of course, a good idea--I'm ravenous when I wake up two hours later, but you know what? It doesn't matter.

Because it turns out, I can Mom myself just as competently as I can Mom everybody else. And I guess my defects in that department will always come to roost back on my own damned head.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

An Odd Anniversary

 Many of you know this story.

Ten years ago I was teaching high school and I was also helping to lead the Gay/Straight alliance during lunches. I'd put out a couple of books by this time--a lot of them self-pubbed but some through Dreamspinner Press, and I'd gotten some notice. Truth in the Dark was one of the books, and so was Litha's Constant Whim.

For those of you who remember, kids were throwing themselves off bridges in Michigan (I think--ugh--ten years, and politics fades!) around this time because Michelle something-better-forgotten and her husband-who-had-prayed-the-gay-away were in politics and Michelle Bachman (THAT'S her name!) had literally made it illegal for teachers to stop bullying based on sexual orientation. Teachers were watching kids get bullied to death, and they were afraid to say something because of their jobs.

National Coming Out Day was new then--maybe it was the first one? Maybe it was the second? But I told my students that in honor of National Coming Out Day I was giving my proceeds for sales on that day for the two books I had that dealt (tangentially) with self-harm-- Truth in the Dark and Litha's Constant Whim. 

The kids were super excited and one of them--17 YO at the time--wanted to read the books.

I'd been giving my books to kids to read for years. From Vulnerable on, really. I hadn't started out that way--but I'd told them that I'd written books because hey! Teachers got a lot of the "Those who can't do, teach!" bullshit, and I wanted to prove to them that I was constantly trying to improve my skills in my craft. The kids loved it--even if they didn't want to read the books. A couple of kids found out my pen name and bought their own copies and the books made the rounds and I'd figured the world hadn't come to an end so I kept a little lending library of my own books on my desk.

For the record? My colleagues wouldn't accept MY books for book reports because really, how good could they be? Also for the record? I loved the guys, really I did, but it's possible to love the guys you work with like pain in the ass brothers while simultaneously admitting that they are also misogynistic pricks. And they were.

Anyway--on this day, a kid asked to read my books. I said "Let me think about it," because this kid wasn't in my class. I asked his friend--who was on the straight side of the alliance, but who had a reputation as somewhat of a player--or at least someone who was not shocked, not in the least, about the sexual content found in romance books--if his friend would be up to reading books that, while not super erotic, also didn't fade to black and end scene. 

His response (curiously enough, it echoed my own thought in these matters) was, "Geez--the girls get romance books from the library that are so much more explicit than your books. I don't see the problem." He was right, by the way. Does anybody remember Ellora's Cave and Samhain publishing houses? I do. I probably couldn't make it into Ellora's Cave, not even now. Just not enough raw penis in my writing, I'm telling you. Anyway, the librarians at the time had taken one look at the books and thought, "Oh, romance, like Harlequin," so I was getting book reports on Ellora's Cave, which was awesome, and my books couldn't get reported on because why? Nevermind. I'm not that bitter about it now.

But just in case, we agreed that he should print out the stories and take the sex out, giving his friend the abridged version.

Sadly, the sex, just the sex, and ONLY THE SEX was what his parents found in the printer, and when he told them, "It's cool, my teacher gave it to me," well, you can see how I ended up talking my administration with my union rep for company.

The head of HR at the time had the last name of Embree, and I only remember this because his brother worked at our school and they both had the same last name, and they were both Mormon, and this guy had an anti-gay agenda that radiated out his pores. 

He read a prepared statement that promised to bring the wrath of the police down on my head, and I said, "What?"

"There is a folder  on my desk about two inches thick with what I can only call pornography on my desk!"

To which I replied, "Jesus, Mister, whose books did you read?"

I called my union lawyer and he called another lawyer (my credential lawyer) and while both lawyers loved me and wanted to do their best for me...

I was done.

I was so hurt. 

I had actually helped to build that school. Their creative writing curriculum had been written BY ME, but the department head didn't want to give me the class because, well, I was a girl. The one place they were doing decent in testing was in vocabulary--particularly the juniors. Why? Because I'd written a vocabulary curriculum that could be used through all the grades, so in the mad scramble for classes that happened in the first six weeks, the kids could have one goddamned consistent thing. The men refused to use it. The reason it was working for the junior classes? Because the three teachers were women and we basically told the men to fuck off. Senior project, a program I created that basically saved our fucking bacon during the certification? Yes, I designed it, I put it forward and made it stick, and when the fucking cowardly administration didn't want to pay me to do all the work it entailed, I told the rest of the school they needed to help me ON THE ADMINISTRATION'S SAY SO and I had to face the consequences. And then, just when it started to work, two men pulled me off of it, because I was a girl and I couldn't possibly be doing it right.

I had helped build this school, and time and time again, it had crapped all over me.

The year before, during graduation, I was standing at the gate, trying to keep parents from going back to their cars and getting too high (I'm not kidding here) and we realized that the stadium was too packed. Someone had gotten the bright idea to forge the tickets we gave to students that they could give to their family--it was dangerously crowded. 

Security closed the gate, and left me on the side with all the screaming parents. 

Who were all high and drunk and screaming at me.

They opened it just a tad to let me get on the other side, but it was an ugly and terrifying ten minutes, and it told me exactly how much I was valued by my school system.

And now, in October of 2010, they were letting me know all over again.

I told my lawyers all I wanted was a settlement. They said, "We can get your job back!" They had both read the stories and had gotten to the end and asked me where exactly the porn started. I was like, "THAT'S what I wanted to know!" 

A settlement wasn't good enough for the school school. They hired a big time lawyer and paid her probably three times what my settlement was at the end (I was part time after all--I had four kids, one of them still in pre-school, and I was needed for transportation if nothing else!) to try to fire me instead. 

She went through my blogs and tried to find a place where I'd confessed to doing something worth firing me for--because giving a kid a book that wasn't porn was obviously not enough.

No dice. A year and some months after I'd gotten pulled out of my classroom, I got to go back and collect my things.

My colleagues had raped my bookshelves for books that had been given to me. That was nice. Patrick Crean, if you're out there? Fuck off. 

And the pictures and notes I'd kept from kids who'd graduated had to be rescued from under a pile of pencil shavings. The room I'd been so proud of--had decorated every year with a different theme--had been turned into a warehouse for old desks.

I remember playing Linkin' Park and Foo Fighters and Beastie Boys at top volume while I went through my stuff. I'd brought a friend with me who wanted me to try to milk everything in the room for it's monetary value and she didn't understand when I told her that this wasn't why we were there.

And then I filled my car with stuff--some of which is still in the garage--and walked away.

I miss it. I miss teaching. I've done a bit of it in the last couple weeks and I want to get to a point where I teach a class a week. That would be lovely. There is a joy and an energy I get from sharing what I know and love with others--it's part of why I write, but teaching is so much more animated. 

But I'm still glad I walked away. 

Ten days after I'd gotten pulled from my classroom, I got to meet my publisher for the first time. I was a mess--I was a breath away from tears in any sentence, jumpy--ADHD at its finest, 24/7. I was practically psychotic for lack of sleep and generally a complete mess. She sat me down and held my hand and said, "What do we have to do to make it so you never have to go back there and teach again."

And then she did her best to make it so. 

That moment of having someone believe in me when I was almost hysterical with self-doubt has never left me. I hope I've given back what I received in that moment, but I don't think its possible. I'll keep giving, because it's a debt of love I can never repay.

And I've learned so much since then--so much about the difference between what people say about you and who you really are. So much about perception on the internet and reality with actual people you talk to and care about. So much about the slanderous vagaries of popular opinion and the things that really matter. 

Some of my children have come out, in one way or another, since that day ten years ago. I don't mention it a lot on the internet because it's personal to me--but also because I don't trust the internet community the way I used to--and boy, those were some hard lessons to learn.

But the things that started me on this path--the immersing myself in different worlds, in the lives of different people, in my craft and in my genre and subgenre-- these things remain as magical to me as the day I first opened up a spiral notebook in high school and wrote a 24 page epic poem in my shitty handwriting.

Writing is still my lodestar and my true north. Creating imaginary playmates is still a thing I believe is important, because even when the world and social media is a cesspool, imaginary playmates are still so pure.

So, here's to an odd anniversary. One that changed my life. Ten years ago, I thought it was ending my life--I'll be honest. I couldn't drop the kids off at school without crying as soon as they got out of the car.  I used to lose my keys constantly and forget I had shoes and sometimes even forget where I was going when I was taking kids to school or home because I was so preoccupied with the complete change of everything I'd expected my life to be.

And now that the world is a completely different place, it's hard to look back on that anniversary see myself so defeated. 

If we only know that we can survive, the pain and uncertainty seems bearable. It's the not knowing that may kill us.

It's the hope that sees us through. 

Monday, October 5, 2020

Kermit Flail--WOOHOO! October!

 

YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYA!!!!

*whew*

Gotta say--enthusiasm is a little rough these days, but totally worth it. We have a modest but fantastic selection on Kermit Flail, starting with Fierce & Proud, an anthology set in Ireland, written by Irish LGBT authors. I am delighted to know it's out there--and proud to recommend it to you!

Then, Tara Lain, the queen of the squishy, the sweet, the funny and delicious, graces us with both a new release and a rerelease. The new release looks to be a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, with a few sweet twists, and the re-release is her highly popular Knight of Ocean Avenue--so good things all around there!

Next, we've got Parker Williams, our self-proclaimed King of angst, giving us Waiting On Life. Parker has a deft touch at twisting the knife in your heart, so those of you who love angst? This book should make you very happy.

And finally we've got All the Rules of Heaven, which, technically, is coming out in Kindle format on November 3rd, but it's the scariest, creepiest, Halloweeniest thing I've ever written. This one will be released in Mass Market in February, and... guys. I love this book so much--but I sat on it for nearly four years. 

It just didn't fit in with contemporary romance, and I was working on the Familiar series, and angels and ghosts don't sell. I hear that all the time.

But I loved this story so hard. 

*sigh* I'm pretty sure it will be like my other prettiest children--shoved in a corner and forgotten by all but a very few, but oh! It shouldn't be. For one thing, I want to write the sequel. A LOT. For another, Tucker and Angel are an interesting paranormal investigative team and their dynamic is... well, interesting. I'm not sure you've seen anything like it. 

Which makes ME very happy.

So there you go--the great, the fantastic, the delicious and the "interesting"--but we made it til October, so WOOHOO!!!



Fierce & Proud

By Various Authors

Cupán Fae is the caffeine-filled home away from home for writers in Ireland.In Fierce & Proud, eight writers tell tales of LGBT lives and loves, telling quare queer stories in a way unique to the Irish, crossing genres and exploring the world through many lenses.












Holding Hans


By Tara Lain

 


 

How much evil can you cook up in one small town?

When your father gets wonky, marries a weird woman, and runs off to Europe, leaving you and your twin holding the bag for the bills, what else can you do but –


Sleep a night in the forest,


Follow a trail of pebbles to a strange mansion,


And succumb to the attraction of cinnamon rolls, the world’s most beautiful piano, and Madame, the strange woman who gives you your dreams for next to nothing.


But fairy tales teach one lesson –--when things are too good to be true – run!


Hans Meyer finds that out the hard way, when he wakes up tied to a bed in the dark. Even Rune, the cute guy who buys him root beer floats, isn’t who he seems.

Can piano power, twin power, and a healthy dose of love power overcome the darkness and finally make Hans happy in Ever After?

HOLDING HANS is a coming-of-age, hidden identity, dysfunctional family, fairy-tale-retelling, contemporary fantasy romance – with really good food.


BUY HERE




October is Fall in Love in Laguna Again Month—

 

Knight of Ocean Avenue

 

Re-Releases October 8th. Preorder now. The book is unchanged from the original except for the cover.

 

 

What if I’m always kidding myself?

Billy Ballew wants to be married, but he’s been engaged to three women and can’t get to the altar.

He wants to be a contractor, but he’s so dyslexic he has to force himself to read and fears the contractor’s license test more than death.

He wants to please his mother, but all she wants is for him to give her grandchildren.

What Billy doesn’t want is to find out he’s gay.

But then he meets Shaz, the one guy so flamboyant Billy can’t even be seen with him without losing all his friends – and his family. One more thing Billy wants and can’t have.

Maybe he should just stay home with his cats.

KNIGHT OF OCEAN AVENUE is a gay awakening, total opposites attract, trying to please your mother, religious confrontation, learning who you are romance.


BUY HERE 




Waiting on Life


by Parker Williams




Big, bald, tattooed, and more than a little possessive, Toby Tomlinson wasn’t what you’d call a “lady’s man.” In fact, he usually got too serious before they were ready. One day, upon returning home from work, Toby finds a young woman kneeling to pick up mail she’d dropped. Taken with her red hair and slender body, he says hello as he grabs his own mail. The woman jumps and bangs her head against the open door, then lets loose with a string of expletives. She turns around, and Toby discovers the person he’s been ogling isn’t a woman at all… but a man.

Kyle Roga’s heard it all before. High school was filled with taunting by classmates who could tell Kyle was far too fabulous to be straight. And now, here he was, being pawed at by a man who stole Kyle’s breath away. He ticked every box Kyle had, and a few he didn’t even know he wanted ticked. The problem? Kyle’s been burned before by straight men who think you’re good enough for sex, but not for a relationship. He’s been bitten way more than once, and he doesn’t want to go down that path again.

Two men, each with a different way of looking at love, find themselves having to reexamine what they always believed about who they are. Will it be enough to bring them together? Will each discover what they’ve been doing isn’t living, but waiting on life?



Now Available:


Safe Heart

by Amy Lane

Search and Rescue: Book Three

Five months ago boy-band lead singer Cash Harper left Glen Echo in a hospital in Jalisco… and broke his heart.


Glen’s heart is the only home Cash has ever known. He’s spent the past five months trying to find his friend Brielle and make sense of his own instincts. Now he’s ready to be a real partner and lover to Glen—but first they have to finish their original mission.


Glen is ready for Cash to walk through his door needing help, but he is absolutely determined not to let him back into his heart. Men don’t run. Cash did. End of story.


Rescuing Brielle will take the full talents of Glen’s search and rescue company, and that means Cash needs to re-earn the team’s trust. Between Bond-villain traps, snakes that shouldn’t be there, and bad guys with guns, they all have plenty to negotiate. If Cash can prove he can stay the course and that he deserves Glen’s faith, they might survive this op whole and ready to love.


Buy Here 


COMING SOON...



All the Rules of Heaven


by Amy Lane


When Tucker Henderson inherits Daisy Place, he’s pretty sure it’s not a windfall—everything in his life has come with strings attached. He’s prepared to do his bit to satisfy the supernatural forces in the old house, but he refuses to be all sweetness and light about it. 


Angel was sort of hoping for sweetness and light. 


Trapped at Daisy Place for over fifty years, Angel hasn’t always been kind to the humans who have helped him in his duty of guiding spirits to the beyond. When Tucker shows up, Angel vows to be more accommodating, but Tucker’s layers of cynicism and apparent selfishness don’t make it easy. Can Tucker work with a gender-bending, shape-shifting irritant, and can Angel retain his divine intentions when his heart proves all too human?


Buy Here 

Friday, October 2, 2020

Wish You Were Here

 For the longest time, Birthday Week was a raucous, exhausting celebration.

Chicken, my older daughter, had her birthday on September 24th. My Aunt Teresa had hers on September 23. Mine was on September 30th, and Mate's and my bio-mom's were both October 1st.

For a while there, we had one big party at my grandmother's. She passed away, and of course my daughter is grown now, and it's become quiet meals and cards for the most part. 

My bio-mom, we usually met and took her out for food. She lives in an adult care home--it's sort of a mental institution with outpatient privileges. For those who know my work, think the kind of place Ethan's friend ended up in, or Reg's sister, Vee, from Bobby Green. 

Anyway, Alexa--my bio-mom--doesn't like the food. We try to take her to a fun place for the world's most awkward family meals. My kids are great toward her. They don't get upset when she forgets who they are. That includes the time she was looking at pictures on my phone and she wanted to know who that "dude" was in a lot of the photos. "Mom, that's Big T--he's sitting right behind you in the car."

"No it's not--that's an adult!" And she was very, very serious. We laughed about it, because what else do you do? But we did that in private, because you don't make a mentally ill person feel bad about things they can't control.

So the letters over the COVID quarantine have been especially hard. They're shut in the facility. No outpatient visiting. No walking to the store or to yard sales. We know she haunts these places because she's given my children some very bizarre gifts over the years. My kids have learned to accept headless Barbie dolls and coloring books that smell like cat pee with very genuine, "Thank you, Grandma!" because they know she was doing her best and thinking about them, and sometimes the thought really is the thing that counts.

But now she gets no visits from family, either, which apparently kept her grounded.

Because her letters have gotten increasingly batshit over the last seven months.

Apparently, she blames the whole COVID mess on my stepmom, which is a REAL shame because my stepmom is perhaps THE NICEST person on the planet. Bar. None. She and my dad have participated actively in every charity from soup kitchens to Santa to Project Ride to Big Brother/Big Sisters. They give an amazing amount of their lives to improving their world and she's the one behind that. So, when Alexa writes me that she "can't wait for that old lady to kick off so we can see each other again," I want to bang my head against my desk.

On the one hand, it's just insane--schizophrenia and dementia, perhaps?

But on the other, it's unfair. Brutally, brutally unfair, and my heart hurts. 

But today was her birthday, and Mate and I had planned a shopping trip for ourselves--new bedding, new towels, new silverware--we're not sure where all the decent spoons have gone, but we blame the kids. So I had made her a shawl and bought her a card, and we stopped at Mr. Pickles for a sandwich, and we drove down to East Sac near Med Center (yes, Jackson's Med Center) and kept going, watching as a depressed neighborhood that had worked hard to pull itself from its bootstraps sank down into ash-coated dust once more.

We got to her care home, and I'd girded myself for telling her no hugs, and I could only stay for a moment, and I knew she probably didn't have a mask and...

See, in the past, when I'd gone to visit, anybody could just walk in or out. But not now. Now they have an attendant at the gate, making sure they don't get out, because quarantine must be rough for the mentally ill, and they probably have to be meticulous. If one person gets it, that's it. The entire care center is toast, because nobody there has any sense of boundaries and there is no quarantine if everyone has a roommate. 

So I met the attendant at the gate and gave him the sandwich and the gift and told him to tell my mother I love her.

And left. 

When my grandfather was on his second brain tumor, he used to call for my mother. She was slipping into Alex had been their lost child even when she'd sat right there in front of them. 

My children are anxious right now. And sad. And school, which they'd loved, has been ripped away from them. I've said it many times before--ZoomBoy was only hanging in there for the performance classes and now we have to hear him sing to his choir teacher over Zoom and my heart breaks a little. Squish has had her own difficulties, and I keep them out of the blog, but they've been stressful and worrisome, and everyone who read Crocus knows that Chicken has also had her struggles. 

T is doing okay though--although I worry about his asthma almost constantly in the shitty air quality. He carries his inhaler all the time, and he walks to and from the bus stop to work. He makes an effort to see us once every two weeks and I'm always so proud of him when he does.

I don't know why I dreamed that he was lost to me this afternoon. But I know I woke up screaming and calling his name.

Maybe because the younger two live with me, and I'm sick with worry. And their sister texts me every day, and the worry mounts. Maybe because I want them all together and here, and he's the one who isn't the most often. Maybe because I'm so used to worrying about him and I just don't want him to feel left out.

But I know I can't imagine being locked inside my mother's care home, where only crazy people talk to crazy people, and your daughter's weekly letters featuring random animal pictures and bad pictures of grandchildren who look like strangers are the only real things from the outside. 

I've been calling my mother's name in my dreams since I was a very small child. Maybe I called my son's now because I cannot stand how lost she must be and I know he, at least, is found.