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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Desperate Porn-Writing Housewives

Okay-- I don't write porn, you all know I don't, but it's so much fun to get everyone's attention that way! And, well, it does make the story better.

So I had to give up my work out this morning because the phone repair guy was coming, right? (And if I was a MILF instead of, you know, me, that WOULD be the intro to a porn flick. Also, if my teenaged son wasn't hanging around the house being bored and useful between classes, because the MILF flicks tend to just blow off the whole "must have children" part of that acronym.) Anyway, it was okay, because I was JUST at the end of my Christmas story (due tomorrow) and I got into a real groove, and, well, was writing my ass off!

And it's a short story. And I was at the, erm, climax of the story. And leading to the climax of the climax, mostly, if you know what I mean.

And then the phone guy arrived. At first, the only big deal was my humiliation in letting a complete stranger into THE dirtiest house of all time. Yeah--it's a mess. I'm having cleaning delusions, and I may even get to some of them before we take off on Friday, but in the meantime, I've got the stranger, my house crapgasm, and my complete embarrassment.

Oh yeah. And the dog. The dog was okay with the guy, right up until we hid her when he went into the back yard and then she SAW him walk from the side of the house without seeing how he got there. She almost had a heart attack, and then, as she bayed in the guy's face, she almost shared with him.

We dragged her to the garage, and the poor man then said, "Oh, hey, can I see your modem?"

My son had to show him where our modem was. I had no idea what that piece of equipment on the top of the bookshelf was--and then the nice repairman (ginger hair, freckles, average build, COMPLETELY bomb proof expression) had to root around between the kids' bed and the bookshelf in order to unplug the the damned thing. Oh the dust! Oh the beany babies! Oh the nameless, sticky substances! *shudder*

I couldn't watch. I came in to the kitchen with the crumbs on the tablecloth and sat down to finish my, erm, climactic part of the story. I had to turn the internet off--the DSL was unplugged, remember? And this made the next part that much worse.

There I was, one hero undressing the other, breath was coming in pants and pants were coming off and things were sticking out and things were getting stroked and... uhm...

"I'm sorry, can I use your laptop?"

I looked over my shoulder, and there was my bombproof repairman, looking serenely at my two heroes, about ready to do the two-backed mammal.

"Uhm, yeah! Here! Lemme pull up... oh shit... internet! Yeah! Internet! Lemme pull it (oh crap oh crap!) INTERNET!" Now, while I was saying this, I was holding my hand up in front of my screen and looking greenly over my shoulder at the repairman who didn't know me from any other large woman in a tent-sized Big Dog T-shirt.

He gazed serenely back, and then, oh thank the Goddess, the damned internet came up.

I couldn't look. I wandered restively around the living room, wondering if I should bother picking shit up. I figured no, because I didn't on any OTHER given day, and the fact is, we'd had the DSL for eight years and they're only supposed to last three, so odds were good I wouldn't be seeing this guy again.

He pulled up the internet and had a question for Mate about "firmware" (and given my now pinpoint obsession about what I was writing about, the word made me giggle like you wouldn't BELIEVE) and then gave me back the phone.

"Well, I'm done," he said, and my relief was... well....


The guy held his fist up for me gamely, and smiled with bemusement when I did the firework-flameout thing with my hand when I was done.

I'm sure he left nodding his head at the weirdness of folks, and me?

I figured that those people who come up with those movie scenarios must live VERY different kinds of lives.

Oh, and for the closing moment of an odd day? We were driving to soccer practice when Squish said, "Oh look! I saw rabbits! They were in somebody's yard, and now I believe in BUNNIES!"

That's a fairly safe thing to believe in, actually--I'm 98% sure they exist.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Poetry, History, and Philosophy

Poetry is more important than history or philosophy.


This is Andrew and Ariel-- they went to Book Expo of America for my publisher, Dreamspinner, this year, back in May. While they were there, a friend of mine from the Paranormal Romance Guild, another writer, Marianne Morea, saw my name, and said, "I know Amy!" and Andrew and Ariel said, "So do we!" and this picture was taken.

They're holding my titles.

This picture means a lot to me.

Besides the obvious--and most important--thing of finding friends in an industry that is, by nature, isolated, there's that whole "holding my titles" thing.

When I taught high school, I had quotes ALL over my room, including the one by Aristotle, up by the clock. It's got some interesting ramifications.

Back in the day--you know, when Aristotle roamed the earth and everything looked like the Houses of the Holy album cover by Led Zeppelin--poetry didn't strictly refer to the short lyric poem that everyone thinks of today, and it didn't just refer to the big, scary epic poems of Homer or Virgil or even Ovid, either. Back in the day, poetry also referred to the plays, both comic and tragic that were the core of the Greek Theatre (upon which the Renaissance theatre was based, and therefore, much of what we know about theatre now!)

One of Aristotle's crowning achievements was his "manual for writing and understanding fiction", Poetics. Some of his stuff, we take it upon ourselves to ignore--his insistence that a play only cover the span of twenty-four hours, for example, we feel free to wreak havoc with--but that doesn't mean it's not still with us. Some people think that the reason Romeo and Juliet meet, get married, get it on, and get dead, all in the span of a week was that Willy-boy was trying to follow the rules. He ended up breaking the in a big way with a lot of his other works, but remember, R&J was one of his early creations, and he hadn't quite found a way to tell Aristotle to piss off, he had his own voice, by then. The rules of Epic Poetry and the rules of a Tragic Hero and the Satiric Hero (I capitalize these concepts because I love them, and they are my friends) were Aristotle's, so we can all concede, boyfriend knew his shit. And boyfriend's shit was related to poetry. Today, when we're not talking about lyric poetry (which, granted, we hear more in music today, although there are some perfectly magnificent actual poets out there) we're talking epic or historical poems (fiction books) or plays (movies or theatre).

So, while that quote seems to apply just to hearts and flowers and Cavalier poets talking out their peen, what it really is talking about, is fiction.

I had the hardest time getting this idea across to my students.

See, here's the thing. How many of us watch the news and memorize parts of it? Hands up? Anyone? There's just too much to know, isn't there? How many of us have lived through actual warfare? Some of us, I know--there are veterans out there, to whom I am grateful every day--but in actual numbers, compared to the everyday citizen? Not so much.

Now how many of us remember who was the leader of the Department of Defense when the war in Iraq began? How about the Speaker of the House? Which countries are we occupying right now? Who are the leaders there? Do the populations in those countries support us or not? What is our personal philosophy regarding these occupations--do we have it sorted out for each political cause and are we sure we know which political cause is which in the Middle East? (Someone reading this probably has their shit sorted and their deets documented for this one--and I salute you. Hell, I kiss the ground at your bloody feet for it--because every time I try, I get the same mental block that I get when I try to remember which of the cube-like buildings in the Intel complex my husband works in. I don't care if it's the only two story one--they all look the same and my eyes glaze over and I end up driving to the wrong one on principle!)

Now how many of us watched The Green Zone, or The Hurt Locker, or The Messenger and cried, raged, tore our hair out or bit our nails in response to what the characters went through and the basic injustices

That is the difference between History, Philosophy, and Poetry.

History can inform, Philosophy can debate, but Poetry, and Poetry only, can create human beings out of information and opinion and give them life and make us feel for them and make us root for them and make us take their history and philosophy and internalize it and make it ours.

Poetry is the humanizing force behind the other two--and perhaps the most difficult to achieve. The Historian documents, and the Philosopher argues--Poetry does both. Poetry incorporates the time, the place, the pressures, the pain, and using characters, gives the cause voice. It's one thing to hear news reports about "casualties resulting in the fruitless search for weapons of mass destruction"--but unless you were there, you don't see the crushing frustration, anger, confusion, and sheer, stinking rage that come with the blurb on the news, do you? Well, not unless someone turns that situation into poetry.

Pilgrim's Progress, the allegory my daughter was subjected to when she attended parochial school, is all about the Christians turning their histories and philosophies into literature. My daughter may not remember her Bible verses, but you can bet your ass she remembers Pilgrim's Progress--because that is the power of poetry.

I remember, back in the early eighties, I bought a lot of the Harlequin Presents romances, and the Silhouette ones as well. They were short, they were sweet, and I read some of them ad infinitum, even though the heroine was always virginal, the hero was always older, and the girl's virginity seemed to be of paramount importance to the entire transaction of falling in love. In the early nineties, I told Mate that the romances took a shift, and those same once-virginal girls were now divorcing the controlling bastards they'd fallen for when they were nineteen and marrying a guy who wouldn't mind changing diapers once in a while. The times had changed, and so had the romances. By the late nineties, the girls were not just not guarding their virginity like it was plutonium (thank Goddess!) they were also kicking ass, being spies, being Slayers, being tough, being smart, being whatever the fuck they wanted, including stay-at-home mommies if they were so inclined.

That poetry right there--and I know a fuckton of men who would laugh their balls off at the thought--changed the fucking world, and it changed it for the better.

Now, there are writers like me, who write about "non-traditional" families. It's not just the straight men and women getting laid who get to have the happily ever after. Now, the gay men and women get to have theirs too.

Still. Fucking. Poetry. Still important. Still the unstoppable combination of history, philosophy, and humanity to change the goddamned world.

So I'm bringing this up why?

I mean, my actual 'history' this weekend was pretty intense-- we had soccer opening day yesterday, got to watch my daughter officiate her first (three!) games, and watch her father give her "whistle blowing lessons" at the end of the first one because she needed to blow that thing with POWER, right? Got to watch Squish run around in a knot with a bunch of other kids, and got to watch Zoomboy get his pants beat off by ten year olds when he's only seven. Got to come home and be exhausted and knit and stare blankly at the screen and try to write. And that was just yesterday! Today there was Sun Splash, a water park with waterslides, where I went with my family. I wasn't planning to go, because I've got a deadline and the kids were tired, and we were going to chill, but at the last fucking gasp I changed direction and took the little kids with me and my husband and my friend and the big kids, and go we did.

I went to Sun Splash because this morning, I had one of those painful family conversations where you try to tell your parents something and they don't listen, and they tell you that you're wasting your life and your talents and you don't know what the real world is all about. After that conversation I didn't want to sit home and sulk when i should have been writing because I've got a deadline coming and I need to get my ass in gear.

My parents were telling me that writing fiction was not important. I needed to do something "important" with my life, and it would be one thing if I was writing "important" stuff, but what I'm doing isn't "important."

You can't bring Aristotle and Shakespeare and Homer and Virgil and The Hurt Locker and The Green Zone and old Harlequin Romances and Buffy the Vampire Slayer into an argument with your mother. You just can't. She'll accuse you of changing the subject.

She just doesn't get that those things ARE the subject, and that they ARE important, and they ARE changing the world.

Because those things are Poetry. And Poetry is more important than History or Philosophy.

And Poetry (of the modern, fictionalized sort!) is what I write--and what my friends write (waves at Ariel and Andrew)--and it is iron in my blood because I think it drives the world.

And what we do is important.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


School: day four

*crosses eyes* Okay-- have I mentioned that whole "no such thing as a non-working mother" thing? YIKES! I mean... seriously. YIKES! Last three days have been a NIGHTMARE of run errands--and I'm declaring today a day off of aqua aerobics just so I can get some work done. And in the meantime, there has been children at school... and a curious sense of deja vu.

When Zoomboy started school, his older brother and sister were VERY interested in what he was doing. "How was school, Zoomboy? What are you learning? Do you like school?"

About the twelfth time someone asked him that he burst out with an anguished, "I wish you people would quit asking me that!"

Apparently school was best internalized before he decided to share the deets.

He's good with the deets NOW--can't share enough of them. But it took a long while of him just sort of putting on his potato face (all eyes) and experiencing his world.

So we were a little curious as to what Squish's reaction was going to be.

"Mom! Mom, I didn't say ANYTHING! I let the teacher talk the WHOLE TIME!" *whew* Many thanks for small mercies.

"Mom, I don't have a friend yet. I'm still looking." Well, I give her until she starts talking for THAT to change.

"Mom, we lay down and rest. I like that part." God, so do I!

"Mom, it's hot in the room. There's no cool in there." She's in a room with 30 other Kindergartners and no air conditioning. My rage is palpable, and it's all aimed at NCLB, and the fuckheads who distract the government from their real business by trying to legislate people's love lives and religious beliefs. Did ANYBODY in government attend public school? It should be mandatory that if THEY didn't, they have to send their children there for at least two years. 31 kids, a tiny room, no air conditioning. Un. Fucking. Forgivable.

And then, my absolute favorite to date:

"Mom, why don't we give teacher's apples? Like in the movies?"

"I don't know. Do you want to give your teacher an apple?"

"Yes. She's nice. She deserves a present."

Goddess love my little Squish. She's gonna be just fine.

And in other news...

Chris at Stumbling Over Chaos is having TWO contests. One for A Solid Core of Alpha and one for Clear Water. Stop in and say hi-- Chris is clever, she's got a line on EVERY funny link on the planet (her Friday posts are all about The Linkety) and her two cats rule the world. No, no... I'm serious--she named them Chaos and Mayhem for a reason. And you could win a free e-book, and NOT just mine:-)

And Zoomboy is now back on the lbp. Glory Hallelujia-- and it's funny. I never realized how big a difference it was making, until we tried to get him to TAKE IT. Dude--fifteen minutes of ordering his morning routine around swallowing one little brown pill, and you'll want to give your local pharmaceutical company a big hug, hu-normous co-pay or not!

And Big T needs to either clean my kitchen or get a job. I'm opting for cleaning my kitchen right now, but that never lasts long enough--I'll be opting for getting a job about five minutes after that.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Forgive the blurry photos-- my camera phone does NOT do well indoors.

Yesterday, Mate took three out of four kids to Six Flags (and me of course) as sort of a last hurrah to summer. It was fun-- we didn't stay too long, mom rode the water ride, the weather was fanTASTic, and Zoomboy was allowed to win (buy) a giant squid hat. Since he's been saying all summer long that he's a tanned squid, the whole family pronounced the hat "SQUIDTASTIC!"

And so he is. This is Zoomboy and my baby, Squish, who has asked that I call her Dollbaby in front of her friends, all dressed up for school. They were so happy--I can only hope Squish has fun-- I don't want her to be sad, I don't want her to have Chicken's self-esteem problems during middle school, but I am aware that her mother is a handicap, and there's not too much I can do about that.

But today they were happy, and I took a picture or two... God, I'm proud and sad at once.

And to mark the proud, sad theme, Big T was in the living room at 9:00, waiting for me to take him to his job, mowing my parents' lawn. "Yeah," he said, "it's weird. No school today for me. There was no school bus waiting."

For the first fall in fifteen years, there is no school bus waiting for him. Or me. Happy and sad indeed.

But look at my children--and remember the happy. They really ARE squidtastic!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

This Week Was...

Busy enough to make me feel envy for Steve the Cat. (I don't know why she stays in there--but she does. For HOURS. The kids put a blanket over the bucket, fill it with soft toys, and go, "Shhh... Steve is sleeping." Seriously. I really fuckin' wanna be the damned cat!)

Too busy to let me blather some more about Vancouver. (But I'll show you the picture of the building lying on top of the building--that's what the etchings across the windows of the lower floor say. Fascinating.)

* In fact, it was busy enough to make me feel like Big T's Shoe.

It started well enough-- last Saturday, Mate had a reunion. Including the handsome man and his lumpy spouse pictured here, we knew two other people.

And then it got busy.

Chicken had two doctor's appointments to get ready for school (thankfully not pictured) and Squish had TWO bouts of Kindergarten orientation--one regarding testing, and one regarding how to get through the lunch line without darting around like startled tadpoles. You think I'm kidding, don't you? Look! I've got proof!

Everyone had soccer. Twice. Squish had her first game. She did fine:-)

And then there was the shopping! Shopping for school supplies! Shopping for clothes! Shopping for this hat, that fit Zoomboy like a glove and that we HAD to buy for him! It was a moral imperative. That, and he looked like he was gonna get wiseguy on my ass if I didn't!

On top of that, I was working on the galleys, because they moved Clear Waters to September 2nd!!!

All things considered, it made me long for the days when I could lounge in the sun, like a lizard. Ah well, the kids are starting school... maybe next week!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Alien Moons

My heart beats to tides pulled by alien moons,
Sailing an acid yellow sea beaten by boiling martian winds.
The vessel has patched sides, a thin hull,
Threadbare sails made of time. Rips punch through,
rending ragged fabric edges, with infinite space
through the gap.

For so long I clung to the mast, screaming
until my throat bled: THE UNIVERSE IS PEACE,
IN YOURSELVES! While my ship mates
Only laughed at me, a fat woman who had
No place among the brutal-muscled
Fraternity of those who sailed
A sea they could not fathom.

And I'd be clutching that mast still,
Splinters beneath my nails, the skin of my chest shredded
By shattered wooden dreams.
But the ship heaved ignorance and I tumbled
through a tattered ghost fabric to the great beyond.

I found the universe was vast
And echoed with peace.

I floated untethered, found a berth in a burst of brilliance
And I sit and hum my message
Surrounded by busy stars
I strive to serve.

Sometimes when I close my eyes
I can feel the heave of that acid storm
Beneath my feet
And see distorted rainbows of polluted skies
Behind my lids.
I can hear the echo of the unfathomed
Bitter sea
And wonder that the ship
Would not founder without me.

I keep my eyes closed
For fear of my grief
When I no longer see
My alien moon.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Where to start, where to start where to start...

Okay-- Canada was one helluva week--and I'm sure I couldn't even remember everything I wanted to tell you even if I tried. Seriously--between the time I got off the plane home and now we've had:
A. Picking up the kids
B. An emergency edit--I shit you not!
C. A visit to Mate's relatives and a visit to mine
D. Squish's Kindergarden placement tests
E. Soccer practice
F. Various moments of sleep

So I need to tell the story now, but oi! Just so much to tell!

So I'm going to take a stab at it, one picture at a time style...

I e-mailed a bunch of pictures in random order--and you know what they say about pictures and thousand words, blah blah blah... so I'm going to call up the pictures and tell the story and see if that is slightly more organized that the linear trivia dump that kept threatening to erupt on the keyboard when I tried earlier, okay?

Let's see...

Alrighty then... the's start with this. It's a library. It's in the shape of the coliseum in Rome, because they had a contest and voted to see what Vancouverites wanted the building to be, and they have pretty good taste.

Okay... this is a little harder. Mate was actually WORKING during this trip--he was at siggraph, which is a conference of engineers and artists, built around how graphics programs can better work to entertain the hell out of us. I went on Tuesday (more about that later) but on Wednesday, I didn't want to mooch around the hotel room anymore, (because one day was bliss, but two days would have been boring) and so I caught a tour bus to Grouse Mountain. One of the stops up the mountain was here--it was sort of a walkabout attraction. You could go on the suspension bridge, the cliff walk, the treetop walk or just generally ramble. This is the suspension bridge, and it's sort of cool. It wasn't that far up (for me, anyway--I'm used to going over the Forresthill Bridge, which is around 800 feet up--this one was 250 feet up) but that didn't keep me from cold sweating and freaking out as I crossed it. Both ways. But still-- wasn't going to take the tour to say I wussied out at the last minute, was I?

This here was also on the Grouse Mountain tour--this was one of the many views from the sky tram that took us up the mountain. The most spectacular view was of the city itself, but it was sort of hazy that day, and the pictures turned out for shit, but this didn't. It's the cliff face itself as the tram is going up. There's apparently a hiking trail called "The Grouse Grind" that takes you up the mountain at a 45% angle. I passed. The tram was just fine, thank you!

This was also on the Grouse Mountain tour--this was part of the lumberjack show. The men (boys) in the show were amazing--their schtick was as drinking, brawling yokels, but the truth was, they were world champions in their events--axe throwing, log chopping, log rolling, and, yes, scaling the pole. In this picture, the guy on the left is a little behind--but that's because he gave the guy on the right a five second head start. He still won--there are benefits to falling with style, which is what the guy on the left was REALLY good at. Still scared the hell out of me. Which was, I guess, the point.

Okay- this is our first skyline. We actually spent our time in two hotels--the first one for one night only. That hotel had some construction going on, so we got a room upgrade. When we went to bed, we went, "Oooh... purty lights." When we woke up we went, "Oh holy crap! That's a STUNNING view!" And then we went, "You know, if we'd been in our original room, we probably would have woken up to a concrete wall or something." So, yanno, serendipity. Has it's moments, oh yes it does.

And this is a morning view of the city we spent the rest of the week in. Welcome to Vancouver, everyone--it's as lovely inside as it was on the out.

This was back on the Grouse Mountain tour--this was the cliff walk. So far, this picture has just tripped people out--especially because I was obviously on the walk when I took it, and it looks really scary, and I'm not known for my stability on heights. What can I say? I was up to my armpits in hurricane fence on a very securely bolted catwalk. It didn't trigger a single anxiety attack--I even looked down from the walk to the cliff face and the ground. Felt completely safe--but the picture's pretty damned cool, isn't it?

You already met the damned bird. He was cool--but he was hella vain. You ever seen an eagle preen? It's a little disturbing--like watching a war hero check his hair and makeup.

This here is Stanley Park--it's actually bigger than central park. Mate and I took a 90 minute bus tour, just to get a view of the place on the large, and Stanley Park was a big attraction. We took the tour on Sunday, our first day there, and it was sooo purty outside. It was sort of overwhelming--there wasn't a soul in Vancouver who wanted to hide in their lofts that day-- they were all at Stanley Park, and we couldn't blame them. It was twice as pretty as it looks in that picture--and the city must have been calling their names!

And this is an example of Vancouver's architecture. Just amazing--truly amazing. It was a city of chrome and glass, and every building attempted to be unique at the same time it fit in, and they all worked. Walking on the streets was designed to be pleasant, the the residents kept their city very clean. (Hell, even the street people were organized and assertive--I tried to give one my last Canadian dollar, and he tried to specify that he wanted American, in smaller denominations. I told him he'd get my last Canadian two-buck, and like it, and he managed a very thin thanks.) Anyway, this is just an example. I could bore you all day with random buildings we snapped, because each building seemed to be organic and perfect where it sat.

And that's all for tonight. I may find a couple more shots next post, or even chat about some of those other things that happened since we got home. In the meantime, I'm going to leave you with the following Squish-ism:

We were driving down a section of freeway that had been roughed out for repaving, and the car was jiggling up and down and Squish started giggling. "Mom! The road is massaging me!" Dude--I'm serious--for that child, even the freeway is kissing her ass!

Night night!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Whew! I'm glad to be home, but I sort of stepped off the bus and into the grind. They're trying to move up the release date for Clear Water, and Alpha is out which needs some promo and, well, I actually have a new release today!

Tomorrow or Monday I'll put together my vacation post (because I'm desperate to chat about it!) and SQuishy fans will get a fix at the bottom of the page (it's cute, too!) but today I sort of need to get pumped for Changing!

is the fourth book in the Jack & Teague novella series--and the place where the series REALLY sort of picks up in intensity. Reaching was almost light hearted--Teague got upset, Cory calmed him down, Happy Thanksgiving, all is well hurray! Changing has action, adventure, and a lot more angst--and we see how TRULY tight Teague's emotional wire is wound, and it's sort of dangerously tight, and we feel for the guy. (When I released these online, I used to wait for Katy's exclamation whenever she read one-- "Oh Amy!" let me know I'd done it right, and this one got that in spades!)

Anyway, I love these guys--and knowing this one was coming out prompted me to write on Quickening in Canada. (The @#$%$@@ computer promptly LOST 5K of work, which I'm trying to find, dammit! but I was enjoying working on it!)

So let me introduce Changing--I hope the Jack & Teague fans enjoy. (And if you AREN'T a Jack & Teague fan, by all means, start at Yearning and work your way down!)

It's available at ARe (which has the .prc format for Kindle) and Torquere Presswhich, I believe, also has all e-book formats as well.

And for those of you doubting I will get to the vacation stories, I'll show you what the kids were up to while I was gone.

The lizard has a name, btw--I think that one was Right-Tail, and he and his brothers (Billy Bob and Shortie) were released into the wild shortly after this picture was taken yesterday. But in the meantime, the lizards got to play with my adoring children, and the children got to watch them eat giant moths in a terrarium. Can I just say that grandmas house has never rocked this hard?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I'm not dead...

I'm just in Canada.

Actually, I love it here--but I've been having a helluva time coping with a limited internet connection, and walking EVERYWHERE.

I've got pictures--no worries, they will come--and some stories--lotsa stories, trust me! But right now, I'm a little tired, and a lot grateful--Alpha came out, and so far, so decent. People seem to like it--or at least think about it--and that's really all I really want.

The kids barely miss me (I'm sure they'll change their story when they see me) and in the meantime, my mom seems to be having the kind of time with the super-shorties that she wanted to with the older-shorties, but couldn't, because T wasn't that great at being left and Chicken was an entirely delicate creature altogether.


All is well. I'm enjoying the hell out of myself--but on Friday, I will be glad to be home:-)

(Edited to add: Okay--I AM home-- and I'll be posting tomorrow, I swear! I wrote this post up in a hotel room in Vancouver, and then pressed "Post" and it didn't! But I'm home, and I can send you a picture of Rocko, an American Eagle in Canada, and promise that probably around Monday, I'll have a lovely post about Vancouver for you. Saturday, I'll have a lovely post pimping Changing, the next Jack & Teague novella, and tonight? I've got a lovely sleep in my own bed planned--sorry, that one's all for me!)

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Solid Core of Alpha

Okay, so I'm going on vacation with Mate. We're leaving tomorrow, and we'll be back on Thursday, and I may manage a post or two between now and then, but in the meantime, I've got a little thing like a book opening going on without me.

And it's kind of an interesting sort of book.

You may have noticed I put out a fuck-ton of work in the last couple of months. Part of this is due to my hyperactive brain, and part of this is due to a mindset that has been particularly driven. (Some of that's lightening up, which is good, since I was about to become a raging workaholic.) Anyway, I've already posted about the really odd mindset of someone who is constantly driven, and whose inner life threatens to become more real than the actual real life that everyone talks about.

In a way, that's the root and kernel of A Solid Core of Alpha.

It starts when Anderson Rawn's world is ripped apart (and anyone who loves sci-fi is going to recognize at least ONE of the names I threw on my characters. It was an homage, and I'd hope the authors would think that as well.) Anderson is thrown on board an escape shuttle by his older sister, and remote launched from his mining colony as it is being destroyed. What follows is ten and a half years of isolation in space. Anderson is almost thirteen when the shuttle launches. When he arrives at his destination--a space station surrounded by three fertile planets--he is nearly twenty-three, and he is not alone. Utilizing the ship's basic holographic programing, he has created a family--and his family, in turn, has created a companion for Anderson.

And his companion is beating the shit out of him.

I hesitated to add that last part--but remember my post about warnings? This one is not for the faint of heart. I know some people have triggers--people who have undergone trauma of abuse, sexual or otherwise, do NOT like those elements in their fiction. I'm warning right now, there is that element in this VERY fictional work. The people on the holodeck are real to Anderson--and whether they are real or not to the world around them, I leave to the reader to decide. Real people do hideous things to each other, and sometimes for reasons that do not start out as monstrous in the least. This story looks into that, and it looks into the nature of mental illness, and the nature of what's real and what's not, and whether or not the monsters our subconscious makes for us are any less horrible than the monsters who wait behind dark alleys or hide behind a family member's eyes.

This is some very dark stuff.

My beta readers asked me two things as I was sending this to them a chapter at a time:

A. This IS going to end happily, right?

The answer to that one is Yes. I'll say that right now, for those who, for some strange reason, *cough* *Adrian* *cough* doubt my ability to do that!

B. What medication regimen are you on? You seem to know mental illness so very well. You cut to the heart of what's wrong with the family member/friend I have the hardest time talking about, and you make his/her suffering so very very personal. How do you know this?

The answer to that one is the same way anyone else who has dealt with mental illness in a family knows this. My bio mom, the one I need to go pick up during holidays and family gatherings, has suffered with mental illness since she was very young. I'm not going to go into that too much now--mostly, I just want people to know that there's nothing exploitive in Anderson's suffering, or C.J.'s response to it. Their problems are something I've seen/felt first hand. Of course that's going to come out in my writing. Where else is it going to go?

And that should be the end to question B--it was hard to answer, laid a little bit of myself bare, shouldn't that suffice? Except that alone is not completely honest.

The other reason I understand what's going on with Anderson and his torsion between reality that you touch and reality that you have going on in your head is almost the simplest one of all.

I'm a writer. When I write a scene--painful, joyous, funny, sexy--I AM all those people on the page. I laugh, cry, celebrate, get turned on--all those things, as I'm writing. Those people in my head are VERY VERY REAL TO ME--and a part of my life force really is devoted to giving them life. And sometimes, they really do win out over the people in my house. That's the nature of mental illness, and that's the nature of writing, and there's a reason so many of our best and brightest writers self-medicate and self destruct. The lines between what's real and what's not blur, and sometimes what's not real isn't even a good place--but it seems to be where we're stuck, and the people in those dark places are the people we can't escape.

It's funny--I spent eighteen years teaching, and the attitude toward science fiction/fantasy/ucf was so disdainful, so dismissive. A modern author couldn't be taken seriously if he/she was writing sci-fi. "It's not REAL. How can you address the human condition if it's not REAL." Forget that half of our curriculum was science fiction/fantasy--George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Ayn Rand, Mary Shelley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Beowulf Poet, The Gawain Poet, Homer, Mark Twain, WILLIAM FUCKING SHAKESPEARE (Hello? The Tempest? Midsummer's Night's Dream? )--yes, all sci-fi/fantasy. Yup. We teach it! And the reason we teach it in our schools is that A. It's often an excellent vehicle for satire, because satire needs a naive or ignorant hero to filter the bizarreness of human behavior through his understanding, and B. WATCHING HUMANITY DESTRUCT UNDER IT'S OWN FLAWS HURTS LESS IN A BRAVE NEW WORLD.

Anyone knows that Star Trek knows that it featured the first interracial kiss and made some of the first media generated political statements about race relations, ecology, gender issues, xenophobia, post traumatic stress syndrome and about a thousand other things PERIOD knows this. Kirk and Uhura COULD kiss on television, because HEY, it was SCI-FI, it couldn't possibly be construed as REAL. And by putting up that barrier there, that show was allowed to say all sorts of politically incorrect truths that people who had achieved abstract brain function could understand, but the politicians (who, for the most part, have the abstract operant functions of a sixth grader) could not. If we want students to be able to understand satire, predictive thinking, irony, symbolism, imagery, politics, self-actualization, THINKING FOR THEMSELVES etc. etc. etc. we need to teach them science fiction and fantasy.

And that's why it ends up in curriculum. But the people teaching it don't always get that just because it's not on the class roster doesn't mean it doesn't do the same things that stuff does.

What I'm trying to say is that yes, this is a romance. Yes. The two leads are male. Yes, there is sex. But, just like a lot of my other writing, it is not frivolous and it's not always easy. And yes, it is REALLY frickin' dark.

But, just like Anderson, it's got some redeeming features as well.

I really hope people enjoy it. I hope it makes them think. I hope they don't throw it across the room because it disgusts them.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I was just thinking about dreams.

We all have them--things we'd do in a perfect world.

Of course, by adulthood, we know that the world is not perfect, and even if we got what we think we wanted, we'd find that we wanted something else all along. This is not always true--sometimes, it's EXACTLY what we thought we wanted, we just thought we'd be better people when we got it. As a fellow writer said to me, "Hey--if we're worried about writing and editing deadlines, that means we're successful. We're working!"

I said, "I thought success came with a smaller waistline and a better car--geez, SOMEBODY has good press, because that is SO not the case!"

We both laughed our asses of, but that does bring about the idea that once you've achieved one dream, you're going to dream about making it better, and then you're going to get other dreams, and you will ALWAYS HAVE something to dream about--or at least you will if you're going to embark on any sort of creative endeavor whatsoever.

So, thinking about this, and about "In a perfect world with a fat bank account, what *I* want to do is..."

And I came up with this--and I love it. I may never achieve it, but that's what makes it such a perfect dream.

Besides the whole NYT Best Seller list (don't hold your breath--not in MY genre!) thing, there's the fact that I want to meet people.

In my last post, Roxie said, "Hey--if you're going to be in Washington, VISIT ME!" Unfortunately, I'm going to be in CANADA, but that doesn't mean that Mate and I haven't been entertaining half-baked notions of how to visit Roxie and Knit Tech and Julie and LittleWitch and Galad and Donna Lee-- every time we propose a trip, I think of someone I could say hi to as I passed. I'd load up my vehicle with the full tub of fabric JUST FOR ROXIE, and a whole lot of yarn for Knit Tech and even more sock yarn for Donna Lee, and a variety of things for Galad and books for LittleWitch and Bonnie and... and on and on and on.. and I'd just visit you and squeee, and jump up and down and leave big honkin' gifts on your doorstep and drive away to visit someone else and wish I could come back.

The really cool thing about writing full time now, is that I keep thinking, "Hey! THAT came true, right?" Of course, not the way I'd envisioned it, but it came true nonetheless, and I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe, that other thing can come true too. And after that happens, I'm fully confident that there will be other dreams in wait.

And of course, there will by my children's dreams to come true as well.

I've already pointed out that some of the drawbacks of what I do is a REALLY hyperactively busy brain, but that's also one of the perks. It means that when I'm dreaming, I'm not just drooling on the couch with my eyes glazed. (Actually, when I do that, fetch me a soda, because there really is NO EEG activity going on there, NONE, and I need caffeine STAT!) It means that when I'm dreaming I'm CREATING, and often when someone is CREATING, there is not just the ozone stink of unaccustomed brain activity being generated, there is some sort of tangible RESULT. Dreaming begets DOING, and DOING begets ACCOMPLISHING, and that is a very fine dream indeed.

So alas, I'm not going to show up on Roxie's doorstep on Sunday with flowers and a huge-assed container of fabric--not yet.

But someday, sweetheart, you can betcyersweetass I will. And everyone else? Stock up on the diet coke (or, yanno, turn off the lights and hide behind the couch!) because it'll happen. I have faith:-)

Oooh-- and funnies! Kewyn has been telling monster jokes--we have the following:

"What did one vampire say to the other vampire? You can enter this room over my dead body!"

"What did the ghost say when it was drinking a glass of water? This is going to go right through me!" (Okay-- this last one is moderately funny, but when accompanied by Zoomboy's following explanation, it's fucking hilarious! "See? If a ghost drinks water, it will go LITERALLY right through them, as opposed to when I drink water, and then it goes FIGURATIVELY right through me, because then I have to pee!" *nods head* And now you're laughing so hard, so do you!)

And finally, mom's addition to the list, because ZB was having trouble with Zombies:

"Why did the boss fire the zombie? He started out okay but then things really started falling off."

Ta-Da! Funnies:-)

(Friday, I'm posting about Alpha, and it's gonna be up for a little while so beware, 'kay? Then it's all me, loose on Vancouver streets, mostly by myself. Be afraid British Columbia--be very very very afraid!)