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Monday, September 6, 2021

A Modest September Flail


 I admit it--between the new dog and the Fabulous Follow event last week, I did forget to send out the all-call for Kermit Flail last week--but that's just fine, because I've got a couple of great guests anyway!

The first is the ever quirky, always adorable E.J. Russell--and I'm super excited now because she's writing paranormal suspense, which is one of my FAVORITE SUBGENRES!!! Also--can you see the title? IT'S ADORABLE!!! So yes-- E.J. Russell releasing Five Dead Herrings is cause for celebration!  

In addition to E.J. we have Andrew Grey writing cowboys, and this could be the sub-genre he does best!  This month he's got the second in his newest cowboy series, Nowhere to Hide, and trust me, with Andrew, we don't want our guys hiding a thing!

And finally, we've got lil-ol-me, with Spencer, and Hidden Heart. I... well, I love this book. I mean, I love all of them, but writing during the pandemic was hard, and this book--this book reminded me of how much fun it could be. Balls-out action-packed fun. With romance built in. I had a blast writing it and I like to think it shows. 

So there you go--three great releases for a busy September! Let's pray for cooler weather, lots of rain on the west coast, and some reading time, yeah?


Five Dead Herrings

Quest Investigations, Book One

by E.J. Russell


Something’s definitely fishy about this case…

On my last stakeout for Quest Investigations, I nearly got clotheslined by a grove of angry dryads. I expected my bosses to reprimand me, but instead they handed me my first solo assignment. Me! Matt Steinitz, the only human on the Quest roster!

Okay, so the mission isn’t exactly demanding. Obviously, the bosses wanted to give me something they think I can’t screw up. I’m determined to show them what I can do, however, so I dive right in with no complaints.

At first glance, it looks as simple as baiting a hook: A selkie’s almost-ex-husband is vandalizing his boat with unwanted deliveries of deceased sea life. All I have to do is document the scene, tell the ex to cease and desist, and present the bill for property damages. Boom. Mission accomplished, another Quest success, and as a bonus, I get to keep my job.

But then things get…complicated. Suspicious undercurrents muddy up my oh-so-easy case. Nothing is as clear as it should be. And the biggest complication? My inappropriate attraction to the client, who may not be as blameless as he claims.

Turns out those dead herrings aren’t the only things that stink about this situation.


Five Dead Herrings is the first in the Quest Investigations M/M paranormal mystery series, a spinoff of E.J. Russell’s Mythmatched paranormal rom-com story world. It contains no on-page sex or violence, and although there is a romantic subplot, it is not a romance.


Grab it at Amazon/Kindle Unlimited

Nowhere to Hide

by Andrew Grey

Stylish Sinclair Llewelling has little contact with his family, but he loves his cousin Lilly very much, and agrees to help her plan the elegant country wedding of her dreams. There’s just one problem: the foreman of the ranch where the wedding is to take place.

Former rodeo cowboy Dawson West takes his job very seriously, and he doesn’t appreciate anyone who gets in the way. Ranching is in his blood, and the people he works for are like family to him, so when Sinclair and his plans add to his work, he isn’t quiet about making his displeasure known.

Sinclair and Dawson have more in common than they realize, including a strong work ethic, horses, and spines of steel. Their fighting shifts to mutual respect, and heat flares as they see past each other’s walls to the men beneath. Just as Sinclair is getting a taste for ranch life, problems at his late father’s business pull him away from the cowboy who has lassoed him in. They’ll need to team back up to balance jobs, ranch, wedding, and what their hearts want.

Buy Here 

Hidden Heart

by Amy Lane

Search-and-rescue worker Spencer Helmsley has everything he needs: a job he loves, a flight partner he’d die for, and an amazing dog.

Then he flings himself out of a helicopter to rescue Theo Wainscott.

Stuck on a raft in the middle of a flood with the most stubborn, argumentative man in the world, Spencer soon finds himself asking not how they’ll survive but what’ll kill them first—the water, each other… or the sexual tension.

While Theo and Spencer are trying to beat the odds, Theo is also trying to beat some sense into his rescuer. Spencer seems to have no regard for his own safety, and that’s a problem for Theo. Maybe he’s never seen another gay man in the wild, but it doesn’t take him long to recognize that he’d like to get to know this one better.

If they make it out alive, Theo will have his work cut out for him convincing Spencer to risk his heart instead of his life….

Buy Here 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

What was I doing again?


Yesterday, ZoomBoy and I were on our way out of the house to go pick up Squish and we think that's when it happened. Because when we got back to the house, New Dog--a.k.a. Ginger, was missing.


I went into action. Posters, OUT. Canvassing the neighborhood, DONE! Posting on appropriate websites, CHECK! 

Me falling exhaustedly into bed for a very short and belated nap before fixing dinner-- GAH. Too. Tired. For words.

And later that night there was a knock on our door. Somebody (they'd posted on the websites but by then I was napping or fixing dinner) returned our New Dog to us, just in time for her vet's appointment to be scanned for a microchip.


That was today. Brought the dog in to have her scanned and checked out--and to get a pedicure. There was a microchip. As God is my witness, nobody at the vet's office knew what to do with that. Took me 45 minutes to find out. (It's currently posted at all the local shelters--someone looking there will be given our contact information.) Anyway, ACK! Forever. Finally, left the dog there, went home and got the OTHER two dogs and took them for a walk.

It was a lovely day. I thought, "Okay, getting errands done, time to go to Oilstop for a 30 minute oil change and to get the tire pressure checked." Yes, there were gauges going off--I don't do this out of the blue.

Anyway, 30 minutes--with the dogs, mind you--turned into TWO HOURS. My blood sugar dropped. I had to pee. And I was trapped in the car. (Thank God it was a nice day with a breeze.) I had water for the dogs, and they'd just peed. Mostly, they slept and I read (no knitting!) But two hours!

Finally--FINALLY--we get out of there and I HAVE to go get food because I can feel the loopy/crying blood pressure thing going on. And then it's time to get New Dog back from the vets. So the fourof us are going through Bannfield to get a new halter (since she's wearing the cat's, at present) and I pause to see if I have everything I need, and the dogs...well, they weave the Gordian Knot between my knees with their leashes. It was incredible. I've never SEEN such dedicated entanglement. And there I was, unweaving three leashes and paraphernalia from around my ankles and under my feet, when a Little Old White Lady shows up with an opinion.

"Your dog stepped on her leash," says LOWL. 

"I see that," I say, barely managing to stay upright.

"It's under her feet," she says, pointing at new dog, who is, at most, 10 inches tall, including her ears, and on four feet--only one of those feet, btw, is over the leash, which is on the ground. 

"Yeah, I know." At this point I am untying a three-way knot involving poop-bag dispensers, hand sanitizer, and a portable water dish.

"I'm just telling you." She's getting defensive.

"I know, okay!" And so am I.

"I don't want her to fall on her face!" she says.

"Sure, lady, the dog's the one we have to worry about," I say, going in, under, around and through, like a Hippopotamus doing the laser beam scene from Entrapment.

Anyway, she huffs off for some reason, I have no idea why.

So, by the time I get home... well, I'm done. I'm exhausted, I haven't showered yet, my blood sugar's doing a roller coaster, and I haven't done a lick of work in two days. Mate makes sure I shower before assuring me he can pick Squish up from their friend's house after school, and I slink off to bed wondering if I overreacted.

Ginger didn't seem to think so. She cuddled up under my chin as though she was never in danger of tripping and falling that dreadful 8 inches to the tile. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Her Name is another story...

 So I know you'd think it would be the other way around, but I'm pretty sure the impetus for getting new pets in our house is 60% Mate and 40% me.

I know it was Mate's idea to get Chiquita, even if the dog came with another cat. (Ah, Emmett, I miss you too!) It was my idea to get Johnnie, but Mate was totally on board. When our friend's dog had a litter of absolute adorability, I asked Mate if he wanted a puppy, and he was SO into that. 

And of course (OF COURSE!) the teenagers each needed their own cat.

So this afternoon, Mate went to a soccer board member's house to drop off some paperwork. When he came home he said, "So, she's got a rescue dog--so thin. It looks a little like a Chihuahua, but it's lets are super long, and it's really thin, but she is SO SWEET. My friend does rescue dogs all the time, but she's got Labradoodles, and this dog is so much smaller, she's afraid to let her in."

I looked at him sideways. "So, are we going to get a new dog?" You could hear the suppressed excitement in my voice.

"I told her I'd ask my wife."


When we went to fetch her, she hadn't eaten at all. She was curled up on a blanket, under a tool bench in the garage, looking sad and woebegone, but oh, she got so happy when Mate bent down to get her. Mate was her FRIEND. And then I took her (gently!) and I was her FRIEND! And then--

Well, we had a mishap on the way home--Mate hit a curb just right and we popped a tire on a busy road and as we were trying to find a place in the dark to pull off, Chicken called. "What are you doing?"

"Oddly enough..."

"Oh! Can I help?"

"Uhm, do you want to take the new dog to her new home?"

"Sure! I'll bring Carl the 5 lb. Chihuahua."

And she did. 

Mate fixed the tire, we pulled into a gas station to air up the spare, and he said, "Can anything else go wrong tonight," and I HIT him because that is just ASKING for it, and then when he was getting back into the car he said, "Wait. Where's my phone?"

So we had to go back to where he changed the tire and it was still on the ground but UNCRUSHED, which, you know, WITCHCRAFT!

Anyway--we got home, and the kids had fed the dog some soft food, and she was ensconced on a blanket on the couch, and she looked so happy. The kids and Mate and I took turns holding her (while the other dogs jumped from empty lap to empty lap, should we forget that THEY were here first!) and generally?

She seems content. 

I need to take her to the vet and get her some flea meds. Her feet were walked on until they were bloody--and she needs to eat a lot of soft food until she fills out a little. 

But she didn't mind the other dogs, or the kids, or the cats. She just sat in the middle of all the noise and the hubbub and accepted love. At one point in time, Squish got up to go find her a dog sweater (because she was  shaking--she's so thin)  and the dog followed them into the other room. As I type, the dog is in their room, curled up on an old blanket because apparently Squish is this dog's human.

And I"m boggled--so easy--SO EASY to show this dog some love. All my fears when Chicken brought her home--will she be aggressive, will she be frightened, will she eat too much and throw up, is this a bad idea--and she was just so happy to be in the front room. She knew this place--maybe not this EXACT place, but someone's place. She knew people, she knew other dogs--the soccer board member had put up signs, posted in Next Door and the other local apps and gotten no response.

This dog's feet are bloody from wandering and she's still young. 

The soccer board member said, "People abandon dogs all the time around here--we're between two schools and I think they hope somebody will take the animals."

Chicken said, "People in apartments often abandon animals because their next apartment won't take them, and it costs too much to put them in a shelter."

And I know this happens, and still. I'm heartbroken at the idea of this absolutely sweet animal sitting so happily in my living room, like she belongs there because she has BEEN in a living room and she KNOWS she belongs in one, because THIS is where she is happy.

And somebody just left her behind.

She still has some hoops to jump through. A trip to the vets, a nail trim, a flea bath, some good nutrition. She wouldn't touch dry food--sometimes that's what happens when dogs get so hungry they try to eat rocks. We may be buying a lot more wet food, and not the pricey stuff they get now. 

But she looks healthy besides the emaciation. And she sure does seem to want to stay. 

It would feel good to know that as imperfect as my house is, it managed to be the perfect place to take this furry little person in. I now she certainly doesn't deserve to be left behind.

Thursday, August 12, 2021


Yes, we went back to Monterey.

It's funny--fifteen years ago a trip to Monterey was one of the first things I'd posted. There was a picture of Squish, replete with hand knit pink baby hat, and ZoomBoy, then the Cave Troll, casting many a fit. Chicken and Big T were still in middle school, and my entire noisy, unruly brood was almost too much to blog about. Everyone was talking--everyone had a story, and I was hard pressed to keep up with it.

Things were a little quieter this time--but like all good vacations, this one did remind us why we were a family.

The kids still torment each other--but now they do it with their own row of seats separating them. When they were younger, we actually had a whole adventure when Mate pulled off the road in Lodi to buy them an entertainment unit because their bickering was so bad we weren't going to make it to San Diego (where we were going at the time.) Fun fact? Our credit card was canceled because who drives from Citrus Heights to Lodi to buy an entertainment unit for their minivan? *sigh* Fun times. But while quieter, the quality of torment has gone way, way up from those early days.


*  While driving through Salinas to drop the dogs off at a pet sitter, ZoomBoy leaned over to Squish and whispered, "Do you see the rabbits, Lenny? Do you see them?" Given that I nursed them both through Of Mice and Men, this was sadistic fuckery at its finest.

* There was much bitching and moaning about having to share the hotel bed because, oh my God, ZoomBoy COULD YOU NOT FART? Squish would not let him rest--to the point where I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and found him huddled on the bare floor in the foyer. I put a blanket on him and went back to bed. I was done at that point. He returned to bed shortly after that, thank God. I have no idea what prompted the move in the first place--if nothing else, there was a perfectly serviceable chair and ottoman next to the bed that would have been more comfortable.

* The next day, Squish was like, "Look at him, Mom! He's ON MY SIDE OF THE BED! See? There's a line down the middle of the headboard!"  And about now, we all realized that the line down the middle of the headboard was NOT in fact the middle of the bed, and Squish had been giving ZB shit  when he was, in fact, taking up very little space. 

Squish was unamused, unimpressed, and unapologetic.

That's okay-- in retaliation, when we took the kids out for dessert one night, ZoomBoy intentionally got ice cream, because the farting thing is real, and he knew it would make Squish's life miserable in the hotel room. 

Dear Goddess. It's almost like they're, *gasp* TEENAGERS!

So there was that--both mildly irritating and mildly amusing--and there was a trip to the aquarium (which was why we took the dogs to the pet sitters). The trip to the aquarium was, as always, enchanting. There were LOTS of people--and that took some getting used to. Mask rules were enforced, so that helped. As I was wandering around, thinking, "Oh, hey, the California eel is actually sort of a handsome guy compared to his cousin the Moray," it occurred to me that one of the really great things about the aquarium is that it highlights the non-spotlight animals. I mean, you go in thinking, "Oh, otters! I love the otters! And the giant squid! He's great! I adore him!" which is great-- they're very squee-worthy. But the sorcery performed at Monterey Bay is to get you to see the magic in ALL the creatures--even the ones that look like penises like the Innkeepers Worm, or the weird corals that look completely vaginal. It's like you go in thinking, "The otters are the BEST! The giant squid is the BEST!" and you walk out thinking, "Did you see the Chill Fish? He was the BEST fish, because ALL fish should be CHILL!"

And of course we went to the beach.

I'll be honest--the beach gave me a reality check. I love it--I always love it. And I've been SO proud of my progress in terms of steps and walking and working at being a slightly more fit large woman. But there was a dune of loose sand we had to walk down to get to the beach and getting up was... embarrassing. It was a step at a time progress. I really thought I was going to have to lay down in the sand and have the kids roll me up. I was so disappointed--I really thought I'd gotten past that, but apparently, I'm still a large woman, although marginally more fit than I was last year. *sigh* Well, I'll keep working on it, but I was NOT  a chill fish, I'll admit it.

But generally it was a good vacation--and one of the most fun things was unexpected. For a previous car ride, I got Mate absolutely addicted to the Jim Butcher Harry Dresden audiobooks. We'd already finished the Craig Johnson Longmire books together, and listening to him really enjoy the Dresden books has been a treat. Just see him wandering the house with his earbuds on muttering, "God, Harry, you're such an asshole!" is worth its weight in gold. Anyway, I wanted to find a good alternative for him because he's nearing the end of that series, and I found that Darynda Jones has a new series out--contemporary cozy, the first book is A Bad Day for Sunshine. I started that story and Mate and I were enthralled. It was so much fun. And I assumed that the listening was for me and him alone--the kids had their own entertainment, right?

But when we arrived home, he killed the motor with reluctance and we discussed how we'd finish the end of the book, and when I got in the house, Squish said, "Man, I hope you listen to that the next time we go somewhere. I want to find out what happens!"

I had no idea she was even listening. That was a win all around!

And so was the vacation--my family, once again, proved that we are loud, unruly, obnoxious, and my favorite place to be.

Monday, August 2, 2021

A Very Short Flail


So, I forgot to Flail in July...

It's funny how something you do consistently for so long can just slip your mind, right? 

But the first Monday in July came and went, and it didn't even hit me that I'd forgotten Kermit Flail until about two weeks in. 

This month, Mr. Andrew Grey asked me if I was still doing Kermit Flail and I thought, "Yes! Yes I am!" because I DO love flailing my friends, but because I sort of spaced this last month, it's going to be a very short--and yet oddly exciting flail!

First, Andrew and I both have new releases--two of them, in fact--and that's always exciting, but next? Andrew Grey, Kim Fielding and I are planning a VERY exciting event. We're doing it on my FB Page, Choose Your Lane to Love, and it's a "Fabulous Follow" day, where you get a chance to follow some of your very favorite authors to get their newsletters or join their FB groups or follow them on BookBub--and get prizes for doing something we hope you wanna do anyway!  Hopefully we can line up some VERY special authors for you--I mean, Andrew and Kim have a lot of friends, so we should be able to do something amazing. Now I know when you hit the link, the FB page will look very naked--but that's sort of why we chose it. IT'S NAKED. We can have an event there and that will be pretty much the only thing there--but don't forget to like the page now so you can follow what's going to happen then, right?

So hopefully a lot of people will be sending out the link and talking the event up--and in any case... watch this space!

And now, for the flail!

Andrew has two contemporary books coming out, and heartwarming contemporary is sort of Andrew's BEST THING (well, also exciting romantic suspense, but that's under his other name!) So having a double dose of Andrew this month? WOOHOO! GO AUGUST!

And as for me? Well, we've been waiting a lONG TIME for The Muscle, and folks seem to really be enjoying Hunter and Grace, but on top of that, we have the fourth book in the Search and Rescue series, Spencer's book, Hidden Heart. I'm, uhm, sort of proud of this book. I like friends to lovers books, or longtime crush/first time kiss books, mostly because relationships do tend to evolve. But sometimes, that instant attraction book that builds into something bigger is SO much fun, and Spencer and Theo are instant antagonists who have to work together, and wow. That kind of bicker/banter can be SO hot. And Spencer is one of a select few characters who barged into someone else's book and demanded their own damned romance. I kid you not--there I was, writing Silent Heart, and suddenly here comes this asshole to help with the business while Glen is laid up, and in the meantime, he's like, "Hey! I'm an asshole! But I'm REALLY HOT so write me!"  I had to do it. Turns out, Spencer's hidden heart was just waiting for a chance to show itself. I was so surprised.

So we've got some good stuff here! Even if it's a modest flail, it's hopefully an excellent way to close out your summer!


Balancing Act 

by Andrew Grey

Freelance computer genius Trent Marcus took a web development job he wishes he hadn’t, and now he’s in a world of hurt. With his safety threatened, he needs someone who can protect him from his client, who responds to “no” with threats and intimidation.

Personal trainer and silver fox Collin Fitzpatrick gave part of his leg for his country, and now his ex is selling his home, so he needs a place to live quickly. He hears from mutual friends that Trent has a room he can rent and needs Collin’s help.

Neither Trent nor Collin is looking for a relationship, but attraction ignites for Trent, and it’s returned, to Trent’s surprise.

The last thing Collin expects is for his protective instincts to blossom into something much more. Trent’s care and genuineness combine to heal the heart his ex left shattered. As the task of keeping Trent safe becomes more paramount, so does the realization that failing could cost both of them everything.

Buy Here:


Rescue Me

by Andrew Grey

Veterinarian Mitchell Brannigan gets off to a rocky start with his new neighbor when someone calls the town to complain about the noise. Mitchell runs a shelter for rescue dogs, and dogs bark. But when he goes to make peace, he meets Beau Pfister and his fussy baby daughter, Jessica… and starts to fall in love.

Beau moved out to the country to get away from his abusive ex-husband, but raising an infant alone, with no support network, is lonely and exhausting. The last thing he expects is a helping hand from the neighbor whose dogs he complained about.

Mitchell understands what it’s like to live in fear of your ex, and he’s determined to help Beau move on. But when an unseen menace threatens the shelter and Beau, it becomes apparent that he hasn’t dealt with his own demons.

With each other and a protective Chihuahua for support, Mitchell, Beau, and Jessica could make a perfect family. Mitchell won’t let anything happen to them.

But who’s going to rescue him?


Barnes and Noble

DreamSpinner Press

The Muscle

by Amy Lane

A true protector will guard your heart before his own.

Hunter Rutledge saw one too many people die in his life as mercenary muscle to go back to the job, so he was conveniently at loose ends when Josh Salinger offered him a place in his altruistic den of thieves.

Hunter is almost content having found a home with a group of people who want justice badly enough to steal it. If only one of them didn’t keep stealing his attention from the task at hand….

Superlative dancer and transcendent thief Dylan “Grace” Li lives in the moment. But when mobsters blackmail the people who gave him dance—and the means to save his own soul—Grace turns to Josh for help.

Unfortunately, working with Josh’s crew means working with Hunter Rutledge, and for Grace, that’s more dangerous than any heist.

Grace’s childhood left him thinking he was too difficult to love—so he’s better off not risking his love on anyone else. Avoiding commitment keeps him safe. But somehow Hunter’s solid, grounding presence makes him feel safer. Can Grace trust that letting down his guard to a former mercenary doesn’t mean he’ll get shot in the heart?

Hidden Heart

by Amy Lane

Search-and-rescue worker Spencer Helmsley has everything he needs: a job he loves, a flight partner he’d die for, and an amazing dog.

Then he flings himself out of a helicopter to rescue Theo Wainscott.

Stuck on a raft in the middle of a flood with the most stubborn, argumentative man in the world, Spencer soon finds himself asking not how they’ll survive but what’ll kill them first—the water, each other… or the sexual tension.

While Theo and Spencer are trying to beat the odds, Theo is also trying to beat some sense into his rescuer. Spencer seems to have no regard for his own safety, and that’s a problem for Theo. Maybe he’s never seen another gay man in the wild, but it doesn’t take him long to recognize that he’d like to get to know this one better.

If they make it out alive, Theo will have his work cut out for him convincing Spencer to risk his heart instead of his life….

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Long Con: The Muscle


A true protector will guard your heart before his own.

Hunter Rutledge saw one too many people die in his life as mercenary muscle to go back to the job, so he was conveniently at loose ends when Josh Salinger offered him a place in his altruistic den of thieves.

Hunter is almost content having found a home with a group of people who want justice badly enough to steal it. If only one of them didn’t keep stealing his attention from the task at hand….

Superlative dancer and transcendent thief Dylan “Grace” Li lives in the moment. But when mobsters blackmail the people who gave him dance—and the means to save his own soul—Grace turns to Josh for help.

Unfortunately, working with Josh’s crew means working with Hunter Rutledge, and for Grace, that’s more dangerous than any heist.

Grace’s childhood left him thinking he was too difficult to love—so he’s better off not risking his love on anyone else. Avoiding commitment keeps him safe. But somehow Hunter’s solid, grounding presence makes him feel safer. Can Grace trust that letting down his guard to a former mercenary doesn’t mean he’ll get shot in the heart.

Buy Here

So, I've made no secret of taking a lot of inspiration from the heist genre movies that I love so much. I'm gonna tell y'all right now--Hunter is an homage to Elliot from Leverage. 

No, not everything is the same. For one thing, I don't think Hunter had nearly the need for redemption that Elliot had when Leverage started, and for another, Hunter doesn't mind guns--and he doesn't cook. And Elliot doesn't have Hunter's magic Kevlar lined leather coat that so fascinates Grace, either!

But I wanted a tough guy who treated his body like a weapon--and who understand that human nature is more than just a predictive tool to find a mark. Someone who could have patience with Dylan Li and work to understand this highly unpredictable creature, someone whose emotional reactions are specific and unique, and whose attachment to Josh Salinger, while platonic, is every bit as important as his attachment to a lover.

Elliot gave me that feeling--and part of that is, of course, because of the actor, Christian Kane, and part of that is Dean Devlin (the producer of the show) and his ability to give us archetypes we cling to with our needy, greedy little hearts. So Hunter is an homage to that archetype, the mercenary with the heart of gold, the gentle soldier, the scary guy who takes the wild card under his wing and protects him with all his skill. 

And as for Grace?

As Goddess is my witness, my inspiration for Grace is my daughter's wayward cat, Nebula.

Nebula, who can leave a bird head in the middle of Squish's room and lick his paws in a litter of feathers, asking us why we seem so excited. Nebula who purr-attacks faces in the morning, finishing up with love bites and drool. Sometimes into our mouths. Nebula, who has stalked every animal in the house and pounced on it, then sat back and tried to make friends.

Nebula, fearless, graceful, adept at stealing, be it yarn, small objects from Squish's room, or (sadly) baby birds from their nests. 

And Nebula--kind, affectionate, playful, and beautiful, who deserves to be worshipped and adored, but will only ever have one true human who can do that in full force.

That's Nebula--and that's Grace. Except for the bird heads and the drooling into the mouth--but there are equivocal behaviors in Grace, I think you can spot them.

I'm on the fourth book of this series (Carl, the suit, and Carmichael Carmody--Michael--whom you will meet in the next book.) I have listened to podcasts, watched and rewatched heist movies and series, and fallen in love with the genre all over again, and I think I've nailed down what appeals to me.

We see--again and again and again--people in power who abuse the little guy. They are usually greedy and humorless and insist that everybody obeys the rules but them. To see people who don't want fame or even money use their own unique skills to bring those people down--that's satisfying. To see them do it with humor, kindness, a sense of play and all those things that those of us on the bottom of the food chain use to make our lives comfortable, bearable even--that feeds our souls. Somehow, we are getting the better of things. The angry assholes at the top of the food chain will never know that as awful as they are--and as much harm as they do--they're being laughed at. Those of us who enjoy our everyday lives with snark and banter and whimsy--we don't get them at all. We can win without making the rest of humanity miserable. I think that's what heist stories--modern trickster tales-- do for us. They give us equality in an unequal universe.

Danny tells Stirling that in the first book of the series. I hope I can make that idea play through until the end.

Monday, July 26, 2021

A whole other place...


I feel bad.

The package arrived a week ago, right after we got back from the ocean, and I was SO excited, but there were other things to do.

I don't blog like I used to, and before I knew it, a week had gone by and I hadn't yet celebrated what was an extraordinary compliment--for me, and accomplishment--for the artist. 

I feel like I need to do that now. 

For those of you who have read my Little Goddess series, you should recognize this. It is, after all, replicated down to the tiniest detail. 

I wish I was better at pictures--behind the bench with Adrian's face on it (and the magical color-changing cushions!) is a wall with tiny stones, and flowers. There are ladybugs in unexpected places, and eyes as well. Remember--anything might be sentient on Green's Hill. The tiny basket of knitting is really knitted. The roses have no thorns. And the words to the song our heroes sang to bind the hill and the spell to their love are written along the edge of the sculpture. 

Tiny blue flowers dot the landscape, and snapdragons abound.

It's glorious.

I have been presented with some beautiful fan art--and it always brings me to tears.

The book with my logo etched in the pages. *holds hands to heart*  

The yarn felted dragon, when that was--briefly--my logo. *eyes grow bright and shiny*

Yarn, specially spun or dyed for me. Tiny bags meant for knitting socks. A scarf, handed to me spontaneously from a friend.

All of these gifts--and there are so many more I'm not giving justice to. 

And this one--this one brought me to my knees.

My children--Squish in particular--lost their minds. I was explaining what each detail meant, and Squish looked at me and said, "You thought of this?"

"Well, yes! But Devony created it."

"But you thought of it!"

I did. A very long time ago. And to know it still lives makes me cry all over again.

Thank you, to everyone who has written me a letter or sent me a card or given me a gift because I've moved you.

You let me know that my words will live a while yet.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

You Might Be a Noir Character If...

 Okay-- so it's been a while since I blogged. I keep wondering, "Should I keep the blog?" and then, a thought hits me, or a week I want to talk about, and yes, I'm back on the blog again.

Well, it IS a fifteen year old habit, and that's hard to break.

Anyway--I've been RIPPING through audiobooks, and I tend to go in binges by author. At the moment, my binge of choice is the acrid, smog-soaked, nicotine stained literary legacy of Harry Bosch.  I admit--I was lured here the same way I was lured into Longmire--but a shot-gun worthy TV show, but, unlike Longmire, in which the books were FAR superior to the show, the books are are... well, they're hitting their stride. 

I think the author had to have the same realization that the Cure had fifteen years into their career. Only a very small percentage of their audience had ever fulfilled the dark promise of their songs, so they should probably lighten up a little and give people hope.

It's easy to see this happen in increments in Connelly's work--in the first Bosch book, for instance, Harry doesn't eat. I think Connelly figured that it really is impossible for a guy in his late 30's to live on cigarettes, coffee, and beer, so by the next book, he had dinner once in a while. I, for one, was greatly relieved--I was worried about his digestion, no joke.

Nevertheless, I have a friend's audiobook held in reserve just in case the unrelenting LA noir of Connelly starts dogging all my steps like a black mist and I find myself buying a trench coat in the middle of a Sacramento July. As I told my friend, "I get romantic suspense, but this is so dark it makes Batman's terminal depression look like fuzzy humping bunnies in the park."

And since I like to dissect my genres and sub-genres, I decided that, looking at Lisa Gardner and Michael Connelly, of course, I'd do a little bit of analysis on what makes a good noir hero.

And it turned into this:

You might be a NOIR HERO if...

You dine on coffee, cigarettes and beer, and feel as though the beer made you bloated.

You hear the sound of children laughing, and it makes you sad.

An FBI profiler says you're one step away from crossing the line, and you look him dead in the eye and tell him to draw another line.

If you actually have a win, it's going to cost you the only friend who understand you.

It never surprises you that your hookups turn out to be the bad guy. Ever.

If you dare to be a dick, you'll get someone killed and carry that weight for the rest of your life.

You're always one step away from lighting that next cigarette.

You get a little thrill when you land a new case, because now you have something to do on a Saturday night.

You're always right, but who needs credit. Politicians, that's who, and you're not a fucking politician.

You have exquisite taste in artwork--as long as it depicts lonely people and those being tortured in hell.

You like obscure jazz on vinyl. All other music need not apply.

You've stared into the abyss so long, it's stared back, fell asleep listening to jazz, and you've blown it away.

And oh, there's more...

But at this point, I feel like I need to write a list like that for characters in all other sub-genres, and, well, that would be a another shitty craft book...

Excuse me... I've got an idea...

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Night Visitors

 So yes--we went on a short trip to San Francisco--and had a blast.

Mate and I went down Friday, had dinner at a place called Max's in Burlingame, and generally enjoyed being adults, alone together. We had the television all to ourselves--it was a stunning indulgence. The next day we met friends--Andrew Grey and Karen Rose. Andrew and his husband Dom had been staying with Karen and her husband by the ocean, and Karen was returning them to the airport. Since Mate and I don't live too far away, we made a day of it. A trip around the Bay on a tour cruise, a nice meal--and fantastic company. The next day we had brunch with another friend and his SO--and then, reluctantly, we returned home.

One of the first things I discovered when we got home was that the kids had ordered pizza instead of eating all the food I'd cooked before we left. *sigh* I mean, it was the weekend--pizza was to be expected. But still.

Anyway--that said, everybody has been the better for the time away and the breather--but appreciating my kids means appreciating their quirks. 

Such as...

Typing at night, absolutely dedicated to my project, only to sense a presence... not malign, just... a presence... behind me... just out of my line of sight. A hand reaches to my side, where I keep my water, and I gasp!

"Mom--just getting water. Love you, goodnight!" Squish (and I have permission to use that nickname again!) has made their nightly visit, and I can write in peace again.

Or can I?

Squish moves on delicate loaf-shaped feet, absorbing all sound. They're a ghostly presence, a sort of living specter, haunting the space behind my desk chair. 

Not so, ZoomBoy. 

In the depths of night, ZoomBoy emerges. The creak of his door opening is eclipsed by the flap-flap-flap of his hideous troll feet as they pound the floorboards... they're coming! They're coming! They're in the kitchen!  There is the rustle of paper, the creak of cellophane, the opening of chip bags and cookie cartons and then, a snorffling, a crunching, some great gulps, and a sigh of appreciation. 

I don't even want to look at the kitchen to see the carnage within. 

Instead, I stay focused on my keyboard, getting, if possible, even more motivated to keep writing. 

Behind me, the troll feet resume their punishment of the hardwood, and a muffled, "Gnigh'molm" is heard, followed by the dropping of crumbs as ZoomBoy retires to his lair, captures cookie boxes and chip bags in his clutches.

And I am left alone in silence, wondering if there is anything left of the trip to the grocery store I made before, and stalwartly concentrating on my word count for the night.

My night visitors are gone, and I can retreat into fiction once more.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Car Drama in Three Acts

 So I'll be honest--our lives got a little busy in the last week and I haven't blogged in a bit. Of course, in the last week, we've had a couple of fun things. An old friend from high school came to visit, and I found the perfect chicken and waffles venue--after a lot of hard searching, believe me. (It's a chain--Country Waffles--and I'm now a fan.) 

And the visit with the old friend was lovely. What was funny was that when I was leaving the house to take her to her sister's house, Mate said, "I'll come with you." He'd been working and was a little stressed about it, so I was surprised. But after we dropped her off (and I was so happy for the opportunity to visit!) he said, "Thanks for letting me come along. We just haven't talked in forever!" Which was nice--and true. I just love that when you're older, a car date is a chance to be alone with someone so you can have a one on one conversation--now THAT'S sexy! Anyway--after that, he said, "So, what do you want to do about tomorrow?"

To which I answered, "What's tomorrow?"

And he said, "Now see, that's where I was at about four hours ago."

And I said, "Wait, what's tomorrow?"

"Now that's where I was at an two hours ago."

"What is tomorrow? Is tomorrow something?"

"We're getting closer..."

"Oh my God!" I cried, feeling stupid. "It's our anniversary!"

"And that's what hit me about an hour ago. Should we do anything?"

"I went to Target to get Father's Day cards for you, and I forgot about our anniversary."

"Well, I haven't been to Target, and I'll be honest--I don't see it happening."

I sighed. "I'll be honest--the trip to San Francisco we're taking on the 26th--I've been conflating that with our anniversary. Is it okay if we just kiss each other and be glad we're together tomorrow, and save our money for the trip?"

"And now we're on the same page."

Which reminds me--we're leaving tomorrow mid-morning, with an adult child at home with the teenagers, and I'm soooo looking forward to it.

And now for Car Drama in 3 acts. Father's Day.

Act I, S1, in which my stepmom calls us up and asks if we can bring Big T and ZoomBoy to her house on Father's Day because she and my dad are moving furniture because unlike us, their house is being kept nice and they're redecorating.

Act I, S2, We ask Chicken to pick her brother up, because HIS car drama is well documented here, and she agrees. Oh, thank God, we say to ourselves. That is one leg of the Citrus Heights to Sacramento to Loomis triangle that we do NOT have to participate in. *fakes laughter* Oh, if we only knew.

Act I, S3, in which Chicken calls us up and says, "I'm at my brother's, but my car is acting up. Can you come get us?"  Oh. Well. Shit. 

Act I, S3, in which Mate says, "If it's still running, Chicken and I will drive it back to Chicken's apartment, while you two follow us to make sure we get there."  And the tension is building.

Act II

Act II, S1--Meanwhile, in Chicken's vehicle, just as they're getting off the freeway at Auburn Blvd. 
Mate: Wow--that knocking noise is getting worse. I'd say it was overheating, but your temperature gauge appears to be pretty cold. Wait... *remembers it's 104 outside*
Chicken: Yeah, that's broken.
Mate: Oh shit--
Car: Starts pouring out steam from blown radiator.

Act II, S2--Meanwhile, in my car, just as we're getting off the freeway at Auburn Blvd.
Me: Oh shit, traffic's really bad here. What's blocking the corner of the intersection?
Big T: Looks like a car's broken down. Ugh, I hate to be that person in the broken down car.
Me: So does your sister.  
Big T: Oh no...

Act II, S3--In which we leave Chicken to deal with the tow truck to her apartment and take her dog with us, because we figure we'll be picking her up there after the tow truck arrives.


Act III, S1. In which Chicken calls us up and tearfully begs out of Father's Day festivities in Loomis, and then asks if we can bring her dog back.

Act III, S2. In which three out of four kids--and three out of four dogs--load up in the back of the Honda Odyssey so we can go backwards, drop off the dog, and then go to Loomis, with a stunning 100 miles under the Odyssey's belt just dealing with car drama. Mate and I make tentative plans to devote my July paycheck to Chicken's car, since June's has gone toward Big T's.

Act III, S3--The ironic twist: The kids sweat like iced tea pitchers at a summer picnic the entire way to Loomis because--you guessed it--the A/C in the back of the car isn't working, and we have to wait for the cycled air to cool down. It seems we've been paying for the kids' cars so much that our own is not necessarily in prime condition.

And... Finis.