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

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

They're home!!!

Can you see them in the picture?  Clean and chilling in the rubble?  *happy sigh*  It's where they belong.

My children are home from their camping trip, and I'm glad!  I was about to raise the flag of surrender on all of that childless fun--I shit you not!

Anyway, I'm so glad to have them home-- although I'll be even happier to have them CLEAN-- and right now they're munching McDonalds (because my parents don't believe in fast food and my kids needed to visit our place of worship tuite suite!) and coming down from animation withdrawals in the living room.  We can't stop hugging each other when we pass, and Big T talked my ear off because he read Fahrenheit 451 during the camping trip and wanted some discussion on it that Grandma and Grandpa were just not up to.

Anyway,  I am now up three movies (Red 2, Pacific Rim, and, yes, finally, Wolverine, for those counting!) and down one edit of Ethan, and all I have from living without the structure of children for three days is a bunch of random observations and moments of dialog, both in person and textual, so here we go.

*  As Mate was leaving this morning, he said, "I fart in your general direction!" And then he did.

And then we both almost asphyxiated.  He walked out of the door saying "I love you! Run away run away!" over his shoulder.  I laughed for a very long time.

*  In the car, after I picked the kids up, Zoomboy said, "So, did you feed Greg?"

I said, "Uh..."

"Greg?  How's Greg?"



"Well, uhm, you know Beta fish, hon.  They can live for a week without food."

Big T looked at me sadly.  "No they don't.  I killed one off that way by accident."

Me-- in panic:  "Well it's only been four days... right?  RIGHT?"

As it turns out, Greg was okay, but dude, I was having visions of taking a dead fish to the vets and coming home with a live one...

*  Squishy had her hair in two tight Renaissance braids when I got her.  Apparently those lasted for three days.  Yes.  I practically TOSSED that child into the shower, why do you ask?

*  Apparently, my parents broke their dog.  They said they played with the dog so hard for three days straight that when he woke up this morning, he staggered around like he was sleepwalking, and then fell down sideways with his eyes rolled back in his head-- like people do when they're too tired to open their eyes, right?  I watched him when I picked the kids up.  He flopped down in the middle of the walkway and fell asleep within seconds.  Now Max is a fairly young dog-- only about five years old.  That takes an awful lot of playing, to break a dog like that.  Damn.

*  On the way home, Big T told me that I'd forgotten towels.

Me: Crap.

T: Grandpa has several things to say about it.

Me:  Awesome.  Thanks for telling me.

T:  Your 'thanks' has a sarcastic ring.

Me:  No, no, the 'thanks' is sincere.  The 'awesome' was sarcastic.

T:  Ah...

*  Apparently while I was gone to RWA, Jonny and my father had a run in.  The dog ran outside, saw my dad waiting for Mate, and spazzed the fuck out.  He jerked the leash out of Mate's hand, and by the time Mate cleared the house to see where the little fucker had gone, he was doing the two-pawed desperation run and was rounding the corner of the block.

As a result, my dad has upped his campaign to  prove to me that small dogs need to be treated like big dogs to be considered real people.  When I went to pick up the kids, I took Jonny with me.  My dad grabbed his leach and tried to make him recognize that both my dad, and Max his giant golden lab, were not going to eat him.

Jonny peed on Max's nose.  Then he peed on my dad.

The kids and I laughed our asses off.  I told my dad that if we'd wanted a big dog, we would have gotten a labrador retriever.

*  Mate and I decided that the Bruckheimer foundation is aware of when he's got a weekend off to watch movies, because it invariably follows that they play everything fromThe Rock to Con-Air in an effort to pander to Mate's guiltiest movie pleasures.  *sniff*  Notice how nobody panders to my need for comfort disaster flicks like Twister and The Day after Tomorrow, right?  BASTAGES!  *shakes widdo fist*

*  Okay-- I can't show you these because they're preliminary sketches, but DUDES.  Harmony Ink (the YA subsidiary of DSP) has accepted my Bitter Moon books to re-release in a total of four volumes instead of two.  They get new covers, and even the preliminary sketches are amazing.  I don't want to show you guys because A. I'm not authorized and B. I don't trust people with my rough drafts, I don't think an artist should have his just thrown out willy nilly, but dudes.  I'm so excited.  The covers are gorgeous, and this series will get a new chance at life.  Now, if you look it up, vendors are still allowed to sell copies they have in stock, but it's been taken off of Kindle and off of the iUniverse website.  I still have author copies of the old version as well, which I'm thinking of donating to our local LGBT outreach center in Sacramento, but it will be out this fall, one volume every two months, and I am jazzed.  One of the bennies of this sort of release is that YA librarians will be able to look the book up on lists and it will be submitted to their review publications and I would love it if it showed up in school libraries.  That, I think, would be a real milestone for me.  I know that if Talker were released at this point in time, it would be under the New Adult category of YA, and so, possibly, would Locker Room and (definitely) Litha's Constant Whim and Truth in the Dark.  Given what I've dealt with because people assume two male leads make porn instead of literature, I'm going to call this idea a win.


So that's news-- I've said it before, my virtual life may be chock-full-o-goodness, but my actual life is the stuff that naps are made of.  I do have to admit, though-- I'm finally catching up my sleep after RWA.  And I'm still waiting trepidatiously for footage of me and two llama puppets to emerge from the cybersphere.  If it doesn't, I'll be very relieved.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Meditation on Movies and Expectations

Okay-- so the kids are gone, right? Off in the wilds with my parents, where I will worry about them appropriately until they return, and fret about the fact that, seriously, we haven't done a whole lot with them this summer and I feel HELLA FRICKIN' GUILTY.

But in the meantime, gone they are, and it's time for mama cat and daddy cat to...

Well, for us, it's go to movies.

Now, today there was actually a choice, which is pretty frickin' awesome, because I'm telling you, pickings have been mighty slim this summer.  Anyway, we had Wolverine, we had Reds2, we had The Heat and we had RIPd.  (We also had Pacific Rim, but we forgot about that until we got to the movie theater, and we'll go see it tomorrow.)

Anyway-- it was an embarrassment of riches after months during which we're going back to see classic stuff on the screen because there's really nothing good.

And it forced us to choose, and that made me think about what people want from their entertainment.

Sometimes, we really do want our hearts ripped out.

Seriously-- that's what I go to Superhero movies for.  That's why I go to Star Trek (twice so far!).  Yeah, some people go to their family dramas for that, but honestly?  I get my feels much more thoroughly when they're pumped through my body with adrenaline and clenched-fist humor.  When I'm writing a contemporary story and my heroes are faced with an impossible choice, or an impossible way to retain their humanity, it's that sort of intensity I'm going for-- I adore me a good, painful, oh-the-fucking-humanity story about someone trying to be better than human-- who fails miserably.

But, that being said, we did not see Wolverine.  

Because the trailers look awesome.  And there are some movies that you know you'll sit down to, and it will be like a roller coaster.  There will be five horrible minutes of "what have I done!" followed by a breathless thrill ride that you're glad you've taken, but that you know has drained some time off of your final resting clock.

Yeah.  No.

I wanted something funny.  But not stupid funny.  There is a troupe of very talented, very rare and amazing actors-- Paul Rudd, Jason Segal, Will Farrell, Steve Corel, Zach Gallifiankis--  yeah.  I can't watch any of their stuff at the theatre.  Like I said-- they're brilliant-- but watching their movies makes me have to run out of the room to hide my head under the pillow and scream "La la la la la la la la!!!"  at the top of my lungs.  If I ever went to the movie theatre to actually see one of their movies, I'd spend a lot of time checking my e-mail in the bathroom, and that's not kosher in the least.

So I was looking for a smart comedy, but one not based on embarrassment, and one that didn't make me feel old, and one that didn't make me wish I was in my own house with a pillow nearby.

And it had to be good.

Now see, in this mood that I was in, if I'd seen any of those other movies, I would have hated them.

I would have flat out hated them.  I wouldn't have panned them because as I get older I'm better at recognizing when it's the stupid movie and when it's me being a mean bitch, but I know myself-- I would have hated it.  As Mate and I get older, we get more and more adept and reading between the lines of the trailers and figuring out whether or not the only funny parts really are on the trailer, so we don't make that mistake ever during our precious movie time, and we're also pretty good at differentiating.

For example?  The Others was really not like The Sixth Sense because in the end, there was no redeeming message about humanity so there!  So when we watched it and it scared the shit out of us, we knew enough to tell people what not to expect--and what to expect, and people were happy.

Because the audience-- of a movie or a book or a theatre piece or whatever-- really does bring it to the table when they allow themselves to be entertained.  If you tell someone that they're going to a Christmas concert and they end up at a Motley Crue cover band, they're going to be disappointed.  That disappointment is difficult to measure in terms of their own expectations-- they're going to take it out on the cover band when it might have actually been pretty decent.

And the older I get, and the more I talk to people who come out of a movie or a book or a television show complaining, the more i think that what they missed was (very often) overall quality of the product, but expectation.  Now some people are going to say, "Yeah!  I expected it to be good!" but that's not true at all.  We went to see Season of the Witch expecting it to suck, and yet to be entertained. And we were entertained--and the movie was campy as hell!  But we didn't leave the theatre angry or unsatisfied-- we left it in a good mood.  We'd known what to expect, and the movie fulfilled our expectations and in spite of the fact that it really was one of the shittiest movies ever, we deemed it good.

And I'm sure actors and producers and content creators everywhere live in fear of the product that really is very good overall, but that is given a bad rep by misleading expectations.  Because it's funny-- we the audience have no idea that this thing inside us--that very often we're unaware of--has such a powerful effect on what our perception of quality is.

It's a thing I've always found fascinating-- I mean, I have no "conclusion" here, because really, what am I going to exhort people to do?  "Don't go into that piece of literature with any expectations at all!"

Uhm, that will fly, right?

I guess I just wanted to ponder it a little--how the audience is the unquantified ingredient that can make or break the movie.  You can have the best actors, writers, producers, intentions and results, and still, because the job is out of your control, have a movie that flames out spectacularly.

It's daunting, isn't it?

It's like that plane I was boarding that was lifting off in Salt Lake City.  There was some confusion as to whether or not passengers from another, bumped flight, would be boarding on our flight-- and it came down to weather.  Salt Lake City is so high that if the plane had been loaded to capacity, and it got higher than 95 degrees, well, the plane might not take off so well.

And it was 93 degrees, and they were wondering if they should stuff the plane chock full of  victims, I mean virgins I mean passengers, right?  (I counted almost 30 Mormon Missionaries-- not great for dragons no, but a little easier on the conscience in airplane travel.)

So, we boarded the plane: me, the gentleman by the window, and the empty seat in the middle.

As the airplane filled up, we both looked at that seat between us, and came to understand the truth:  should that seat fill up, that meant the airline was going to try to risk it, and we were going to try to overload the plane.  Should that seat stay empty, our odds of living to Atlanta had just dramatically improved.

So, at the end of the boarding process, the door closed, and that seat was still between us.  I put my stuff there, and both of us looked at each other and said, "Yes!" quietly, with little arm-pumps of triumph.

We were going to live!

So, given that, when we hit turbulence and a violent thunderstorm over Atlanta, the gentleman opened his window, looked outside at the tumult of clouds and lightning, and said, "We didn't need to see that."

Then he shut the window.

And we both agreed at the end, it wasn't a bad flight at all.

See-- it's all about expectations, right?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Left on St. Truth-be-Well

-- or how a terrible experience makes for a fun story.

Okay-- so a couple of months ago, I wrote THIS POST.  In this post I talk about being sent to stay in a nameless hotel in a sleepy seaside town that we shall from here on out call St. Aubrey's.  Shannon, DSP's girl-Friday-genius was my escort, and we were following a GPS voice who kept saying, "Turn left on St. Truth-be-Well."

Uhm, St. Truth-be-Well?  We could see no such street.

Eventually we found this nameless hotel (which we shall NOT call it the actual name of the place, because, well, I WROTE about this hotel with another name, and I should like to not be sued) and in the meantime, we were tired and punch drunk and giggly about St. Truth-be-Well-- because, honestly, it sounded like a damned funny name for a book.

Anyway, when I wrote that post, I was down in, uhm, St. Aubrey's, for a con (which I thoroughly enjoyed, btw) and while we were there, we ate across the street at the FA Cafe.  (Stands for Fucking Awesome.  You can see something about it here and here.)  Our waiter there was really pretty.  So pretty that Elisabeth Staab, Damon Suede and I were all, well, writing him as we ate breakfast.  Who was he?  What kind of romantic life did he have?  Which guy would we pair him up with.

And then, in the course of one of our panels, our moderator dropped half of a cockamamie plot in my lap and said, "Okay, you need to include this hotel, the ocean, and a guy with a bloody bump on his head-- write!"

And since the guy we'd just been talking about over breakfast was fresh in my head, I spun a yarn about our waiter at the FA Cafe.  I called him Dale.  

Now, let's flash forward a couple of months.

We're in a hotel room in Chicago and Lynn West is there and so is Elizabeth North and so is Shannon, and we're talking about what my next project should be.  I was this close to finishing Christmas Kitsch, and I needed something for Elizabeth fast.  I remember this because Shannon was cuddled up against me, and she said, "What about St. Truth-be-Well!"

And there I was, in front of a new audience, and suddenly our tale of that weekend spilled out-- the terrifying hotel room, the cute waiter, the GPS that kept trying to tell us to go to a street that never appeared on the road when State Road 312 (say it out loud-- you'll see what happened) was right there.  It made for a great story, and I thought, "Yes!  This shall be my next story!  It practically writes itself."

But who was going to be my other hero?

Well, the next day we all went to a pub about a block away from the hotel, and we were greeted by the most adorable little leprechaun of a man.  We started talking about how he would be perfect for Dale, and we told him who we were and asked him if he wanted to be in my next story.  He said, "Yeah!  Absolutely!"  We said, "It's gay romance, is that okay?" and he said, "What's my name?  Can I be Carson?"

I said, "That's an awesome name!"

He said, "I used to love Johnny Carson when I was a kid!"

And I thought, "Aha!  Carson shall be a comedian in his spare time!"

And he said, "What's my last name going to be?"

And I said, "O'Shaughnessey!"

And he got very sober and said, "Really?  My father-- well, he passed away five years ago--but before that, he was dating a really awesome woman named O'Shaughnessey."

He was perfect.  And I was stunned.  This story-- it's almost the anti-Amy.  It's fun, it's quirky, and it was a joy to both live and write.

And it's proof that hello, sometimes the gods actually write your stories for you.  

I"m sort of excited, because this story has been reviewed and recced already--

Here at the USA Today blog

Here at The Tipsy Bibliophile (and the boys have their own cupcakes!!!!)

M/M Good Books

Here at The Armchair Reviewer (July 24th)

And tomorrow, it will be at the PRG.  

It is already available here at Dreamspinner, and tomorrow it will be available at Amazon, All Romance e-books, Barnes & Nobles, and all of the usual places.

So if you're interested, take a road trip with Carson and meet Dale-- after taking a Left at St. Truth-be-Well!

Blurb and excerpt:

Carson O’Shaughnessy has one task: track down his boss’s flighty nephew, Stassy, and return the kid to Chicago. Then Carson can go back to waiting tables and being productively bitter about his life. He didn’t count on finding a dead body in Stassy’s bed, and he certainly didn’t count on the guy in the flip-flops and cutoffs at the local café helping him get to the bottom of the crime. 

But Dale Arden is no ordinary surfing burnout—he’s actually a pretty sharp guy with a seductive voice and a bossy streak wider than the Florida panhandle. When he decides to boss Carson right into his bed, Carson realizes Stassy's not the only one who's been lost. Carson likes to think he’s got his life all figured out, that sex with guys is your basic broom-closet transaction; he may just have to revise his priorities, because nobody plans on taking a left at St. Truth-be-Well and finding love at the Bates Parrot Hotel.

The Bird Bates Hotel

WHO would do this? Who would drive from Chicago to Florida? What in the hell was wrong with him?

Carson Andrew O’Shaughnessy could not, for the life of him, figure that out.

He wasn’t even making this drive for love. Or for money. No. He was making this drive because his boss’s pip-weasel little fucktard of a nephew had completely dropped off the map. Please, Carson? I’ll give you two weeks’ pay! If you drive, I’ll give you three weeks’, so I don’t have to spring for the ticket! Carson waited tables, for sweet fuck’s sake! His salary was bupkes, but the fact that Carson being out of the picture would give the pretty blonde with the advantageous ta-tas all of Carson’s shifts?

For Ivan, that, apparently, was priceless.

Oh my God! He was such a doormat sometimes!

But the fact was, he sort of liked Stassy. Anastacio Malinowski, Ivan’s nephew, was blond with adorable dimples and a smile that could pretty much set the stars in their spheres. Unfortunately, Stassy tended to flash those dimples more at guys than girls. Seriously unfortunately, Stassy was, at present, not aware of this. Carson had never met a gay man more unaware of his own closet. Of course, Carson’s rather bold attempt to kiss Stassy might have been the reason he’d bolted in the first place.

Okay. So maybe Carson wasn’t just chasing Stassy down because Carson was a doormat. Maybe Carson was also chasing Stassy down because Carson felt maybe the teeniest bit guilty for taking Stassy’s flirting seriously. Carson had been with enough guys—and girls—to know whether someone’s signals were intentional. Stassy’s signals had seemed very, very straightforward. The innuendos, the raised eyebrows, the come-fuck-me eye-humping.

Then one night, after a rush in the restaurant, Stassy walked into a broom closet and Carson followed. Carson kissed the kid—adorable dimples and all—until Stassy ground up against his thigh, and for a whole forty-five seconds, Carson was pretty sure his long dry streak was over, and hey! He was gonna get laid!

And then Stassy put his hand over his mouth, and even in the dim light of the broom closet, Carson saw the glimmer of tears o’ angst. Stassy stammered, “I’m sorry. I’m so not ready for this!” and then ran out of the closet and off his shift and apparently?

To Bumfuck, Florida, population snowbirds and surfers, gayness optional.

Ivan had just said Stassy was on vacation, but as the weeks passed and Carson tried fruitlessly to get ahold of Stassy and apologize or claim complete ignorance or say something that would let Stassy off the hook of his sexual confusion, Carson came to believe the vacation thing was a total lie. He was pretty sure Stassy had just run the hell away.

When Ivan told Carson he’d been getting regular credit card bills from the Bates Parrot Hotel, Carson was a little relieved. That meant Stassy was okay, right? This place was in St. Aubrey’s, Florida—it was known for its surfing. How bad could the place be?

But Stassy had refused to come home, and when he went a day without returning Ivan’s calls, Carson allowed himself to be (easily) bullied to haul ass down in Ivan’s electric-blue Honda Element to retrieve Ivan’s wayward nephew.

Jesus. It had just been a kiss. And honestly, Stassy was pretty, but Carson usually liked his men a little more… well, a little more. Stassy was young and callow and not great with the conversation. All of those innuendos had been made with eyebrows alone.

But… well. Here he was. Wobbling through a bizarre mix of strip malls, suburbs, and backwoods neighborhood in the middle of the night, led on by his not-so-trusty GPS.

Right on Saint Owbrays,” the GPS sang in clipped, soothing tones. “Left on Saint Truth Be Well.”

“Left on Saint What-the-Fuck?” Because he could figure out that Saint Owbrays meant St. Aubrey’s Street, but he could not see St. Truth-be-Well. He hit Refresh.

Left on Saint Truth Be Well.”

“Oh fuck. I must have missed it.” He could see State Road 312 right there, but that other one—he seriously must have gone right on by.

It was okay. There was a McDonald’s and a Chevron, and he needed gas and coffee anyway. Time to stop and trade in his man card for some directions that came from a human being and a map.

He felt a slight chill in the air and a constant breeze as he walked from the car to the minimart, but compared to April in Chicago, it was damned near balmy. The Chevron was almost empty, and the bored girl behind the counter perked up when he walked in. He used the restroom first (and seriously? She couldn’t have used some of that sudoku time cleaning a little? Just for him?). When he came out to rent some more coffee, he asked for directions. “So, uhm,” he said, trying to remember he actually flirted for a living. “The Bates Parrot Hotel, where would it be?”

The girl wrinkled her nose, and Carson fought the impulse to go after the beauty of a whitehead on the tip of it. Unfortunate place for a blemish, really. “You’re going to stay there?”

Uh-oh. No one should ignore a warning from a local. “Not me in particular,” he hedged. “I’m looking for a friend.”

“Good,” she said with a nod. “Because the Super 8 across the street is really a much better bet. Not so close to the surf, right, but crossing the street ain’t no big deal. Anyway, you take this road, and go down ’til it dead-ends. Turn right. Ocean’s on your left. You’ll see the Bates Parrot place by the ocean. Sign’s sortova mess. But you’ll see the parrot. It’s all in green. And blue. And—”

“I hear you,” Carson interrupted with a hint of desperation. “I’ll see it. Blue and green parrot right next to the ocean. Don’t sleep there. Gotcha.”

The girl nodded, not bothered in the least by Carson’s internal and external twitching. “Good. You wanna refill on that coffee seeing as you finished it already? They’re free.”

Carson looked down at the thirty-two-ounce plastic travel mug in his shaking hands. God. Three days on the road. His stomach lining was probably translucent by now, and his eyeballs were starting to throb in time with his heartbeat.

“Sure,” he heard himself saying and jittered off to do just that.

STATE ROAD 312 was really dark, but she’d said turn right where it dead-ended, and that was no worries. In fact, for once the GPS and the local intel seemed to be jibing, which was a good thing. Streetlights? Apparently Florida didn’t need no stinking streetlights! In fact, the moon was down below the horizon, and Carson’s only hint of ocean was a certain matte blackness that was more foreboding than liberating. The ocean as devourer—didn’t that make the coffee shivers better!

And holy shit. There she was. The Bates Parrot Hotel. Carson suppressed another shudder. God, the locals had it right, didn’t they? This place did not look healthy. The lights, which were supposed to be strung around the fanciful fresco façade, were broken in a lot of places, and the parrot looked like a cross between a flower and a sailing ship. The hotel sat on the dunes themselves, and the damned sand had pretty much taken over the parking lot to the left.

That was okay. No one was trying to park there anyway.

Carson parked by the street, where, in better days, a fountain might have flourished. Now it was a car bay with oil stains on the pavement, and he eyed the hotel sourly as he killed the engine.

It was eleven thirty here. Didn’t that make it ten thirty back in Chi-town? Ivan would be up, wouldn’t he? Yeah.


“Did you make it there, you freaky little leprechaun?” Ivan had a broad Slavic face put together like square slabs of Spam. He did not appreciate Carson’s slight frame or his long oval of a pretty face, and he certainly did not appreciate Carson’s bright brown eyes and soul patch. In fact, Ivan had mostly made it known that nothing about Carson appealed to him except the regulars who kept coming in for Carson’s outstanding table-waiting schtick, and that’s why Carson still had a job.

“I, uhm. Hey, Ivan. You know, there’s a Super 8 across the street. I’ll bet it’s cheaper. How’s about I stay there tonight, and I can look for Stassy in the morning.”

Ivan grunted. “I made the reservation. I’ll lose my deposit. Don’t be a pussy.”

Carson suppressed a whine. “Ivan, just looking at this place gives me the crabs. C’mon, I’m doing you a solid. Don’t give me your solid waste.”

“Funny. You think you’re funny. Customers think you’re funny, you think you’re funny. You know who doesn’t think you’re funny? I’ll give you three guesses. You’ll only need one.”

Augh! Guilt. Son of a fucking bitch. Goddammit, Stassy, you couldn’t have had your crisis of sexuality at a Sheraton? “Fine. I’ll take my bag. I’ll go up. I’ll check in. If I see one bug, or a shred of wallpaper, or a vapor or a cold spot or zombie or—”

“What? What are you going to do?”

And here it was! The ace up Carson’s sleeve. “I’ll call Stassy’s parents and tell them you don’t know where he is. Yeah. I know the number. Stassy was staying there last month, and he called me from their phone. So there you go. If this place is half as bad as it looks from out here, you’re springing for the Super 8, and I can never know what the fuck a bedbug looks like.”

It wasn’t a grunt this time, it was a growl. “Okay. Fine. But you gotta give it a try first. I hate to lose that deposit. Especially since Stassy is staying there. It might be… what’s the word?Advantageous to have you be there in case he comes back. So you work on making things advantageous for me, you hear?”

“And if there’s bedbugs, zombies, or weird shit?”

Ivan’s sigh did not seem to indicate a disbelief in “weird shit,” so Carson thanked his lucky stars. Maybe there would be a raving full torso apparition in his room and he could go stay at the Super 8! It would be worth the years of therapy.

“Yeah. Weird shit and you can stay in the Super 8. Just find my freakin’ nephew before my sister finds out I lost him, okay?”

“Amen,” Carson said. He really did want to find Stassy.

THE inside of the hotel did not inspire confidence.

“Man, they weren’t kidding about Bates Parrot, were they?” He said it mostly to himself as he threaded his way through the gigantic birdcages and the loud squawking that filled the hotel lobby.

Well, that and the stench. Each brightly colored bird had his own pyramid-o-crap under his ass. Besides the big black beaks that could probably snap the fingers off a regular adult, that was another reason not to touch the cages. God knew what would happen if the pyramid-o-crap decided to crumble. Carson shuddered just thinking about it.

He got to the front counter and tried a bright smile at the colorless woman behind it. She had graying mouse-brown hair piled on top of her head, a round fleshy face, and shoulders that sloped inward to breasts that sloped down to her middle. Behind her blue eyes, though, there was sort of a sweet smile, and he played to that. Anyone who could smile in this zoo, that was someone he could charm, right?

“Heya there. I’m Carson O’Shaughnessy. My boss made my reservation?” He pulled his wallet out of the pocket of his jeans and started to pull out his driver’s license to prove he was who he said he was.

She blinked those faded eyes slowly, and behind him, one of the birds made a squawk that sounded like a car accident and a dying Cthulhu. Carson jumped, his wallet went flying, and he spent the next interminable ten seconds picking up scattered Jamba Juice club cards while a cacophony of twisted metal/tortured Cthulhu sounds erupted behind him. When he’d straightened, the woman—no nametag, which offended him greatly—was still looking at him mildly.

It was starting to give him the creeps.

“Uhm. Here.” He gave her his driver’s license. “Carson O’Shaughnessy. My boss is Ivan O’Leary. Uhm. Chicago.” Nada. “Reservations.”

With that she turned slowly to her computer and started pressing random buttons in an unhurried way. Behind him, the Cthulhu car wreck was bending metal at regular intervals, and he felt his palms break out in a sweat with every shriek. Goddammit, Stassy! It was a kiss in a broom closet! Nothing was worth this!

“Room 212,” she said between bird shrieks. “Round the corner, up the elevator, down the corridor, to the right. Overlooks the ocean.”

She handed him a computerized key card, and he took it numbly and tried to remember why he was there.

“Uhm, hey. Is that anywhere near room 113? Because my friend’s nephew was there for a while, and I was trying to find—”

“Right above it,” she said, and he looked at the numbers and felt like a dumbass. The hotel was in the shape of a big two-story L. It wasn’t that hard to figure out.

“Gotcha. Okay. Well. Uhm. Thank you. I’ll move my car to the parking lot—”

“Any available space,” she said, her voice uninflected.

“Good to know. Thank you. See you—” squawk “—around,” he finished weakly.

She reached under the counter and pulled out a little bowl of brown crumbly shit. Or something that looked like shit. “Do you want to feed the birds?” she asked, and he blinked.

“Not even if I knew they were gonna save my life someday,” he said truthfully and then turned around and fled toward his car.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I'm alive I'm alive!

RWA was-- well, it was a really big pond and I was a little tiny fish struggling desperately to grow, mostly.  It was lovely--and a little terrifying, and I'd even say it was humbling, except I went expecting to be humbled, and then was a little surprised to see how much I actually knew and had actually accomplished.

Mary and I both agree that I failed "Southern Dressing 101" in spite of a decent showing on the final.  On Thursday I wore jeans and a DSP T-shirt.  When I stood up to speak, people looked angry and pissed off, and it took me a while to figure out that it was because I didn't look the part of the serious writer.

The next day, I wore a very nice tank top and a pair of khaki capris.  Now in California, this would have been business casual-- hell, in California, this would have been overdressed business casual.

At RWA, I was slumming, and once again, when I spoke, yup, it was the cold shoulder.  (Of course, I was pretty tired by this time-- it could have been the cold shoulder because I sounded like an idiot--but I'm not necessarily sure that was it, because as far as I know, I always sound like an idiot, and this has been one of the few venues which has ever actually responded to me as though I were an idiot, so I'm going to keep thinking it was the clothes.)

On Friday night, the lovely Sarah Frantz told me that I had an interview the next day, on camera, for RT magazine, and, well...


 I was thrilled.  And a little worried.  And nervous and...

Well, I went out to dinner with Ariel and Nessa that night (do you see the pretty drink we had?  It was nummy too!) and apparently, I had finally managed to take dressing notes, because they told me the thing I wore for dinner would make a nice outfit for the interview, and hopefully I managed to make a not complete ass out of myself.

The interview was fun, actually-- Morgan Doremus from RT book reviews was lovely, funny, dynamic, and she put me right at ease.  I'm not sure how long the actual interview lasted, but I do know that between the pre-interview chat and the
 actual interview, I was on the hot seat for over an hour.

I got to talk about some nitty-gritty stuff-- my old job, my writing, why it's not erotica and what the difference between erotica and m/m romance really is.  I enjoyed myself immensely, and the opportunity was amazing-- seriously.  It will be out closer to December, because I also talk about my upcoming release, Christmas Kitsch which, of course, comes out in December.  I'm excited for it to come out--although I'm pretty sure I don't make great camera fodder, I'll get feedback from you all on whether or not my voice REALLY sounds like Minnie Mouse!

After that, we went out to dinner with T.A. Webb, J.p. Barnaby, Shae Connor, Nessa Warin, and Mary my Mary and no one else shall have her.  We went to Mary Macs, which was soul food and awesome, and we laughed and talked and went back to the hotel room and laughed and talked (and, uhm, J.p. took some incriminating video of me and llamas that I'm afraid to see on the internet someday) and in general (until Nessa strained her back :-/) we had a very good time.

This morning, Mary and I left for Kentucky-- and I probably bored her to tears but I loved every minute of the drive.  Including the moment between the first two landscape photos-- the ones of unrelenting green?  Where she said, "See?  You can tell the topography changed from Georgia to Tennessee."  At which point I said, "Uhm..."  Because to a girl from the unrelenting brown of Sacramento, it was all green to me.

Of course there was a scary moment when the heaven's opened up and the roadway became the gods' toilet, and we were just under it with our wipers on hoping to eventually see through the pissing rain, but when we were pretty sure we would live, it all got better after that.

We arrived in Kentucky, went out to dinner with the family (and dropped off Mary's rental car) and in general?  It was so worth the drive to spend more time with people I love dearly.

I can't wait to go home-- I can't.  I miss Mate and the kids, and I so want to be in my comfort zone again.  But it was an interesting trip--and I think an important one.  I'm not sure if I should go again-- if unlike RT where I felt like I had something to give--I'll have anything to offer RWA.  But for this year, it was definitely time well spent. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Everything's Peachy Here!

Hi all--

RWA is sort of amazing.  I sat in on a panel with Kristan Higgins, Jill Shalvis, and Robyn Carr today, and thought, "Uh-huh.  Yeah.  I asked them that question, oh yes I did!"

And then someone recognized me from standing up and asking that question, and she fangirled me.

I wanted to hug her, but I was just so gobsmacked-- like, DUDE!


It's humid here, there's thunderstorms, and this city seems older and more complex than I can fathom.  I don't want to move quickly in Atlanta-- I'm not sure why.

And I'm sort of networking like mad-- if you would have asked me a year ago, I would have told you I suck at networking.  Apparently I'm not as bad as I thought-- go figure.

And the Riptide people, led by the lovely Sarah Frantz and Stephanie Grober, along with L.B. Gregg, her friend Rosie, Lorelei James, and Lime Cello-- all had dinner at a place called White Oak, that was all about farm-to-table dining.  I think this is funny mostly because as a kid I was told to go out and pick squash for dinner and that didn't seem nearly as glamorous as eating at a place that serves things like fried pimento cheese and grouper.

Anyway-- so, busy.  But the people here have been nice.  I've got this thing-- I'm buying bags.  Like, you know.  The tacky bags you find in airport with the place's name splashed in graffiti letters across? That (and scarves) are going to be what I collect, so I know where I've been.

 The bags are black, market style, sturdy canvas-- in short, everything you need from a bag--and I have one from the Sacramento Kings, one from Chicago, and now one from Atlanta.  I figure that'll be my thing.

This makes me absurdly happy.

Anyway-- so, writing and it's late at night, and I've got to be up early-- but I thought I'd check in.  And btw?  Pandora.  I'm a fan.  It lets me not be alone in the hotel room.

So, mostly?  The only drawback is missing these guys (seen here with the latest shipment from their sister in a shameless attempt to buy their affection.  It's working.)

And, of course, the plane ride.

By the way?  Did you know that at high altitudes they don't load planes to capacity when it's hot?  Because the plane won't stay up in the air.  So, when I was in Salt Lake City, imagine my joy when A. A bunch of Mormon missionaries got on the plane (because although not a plus when there are dragons, twenty virgins do seem like they'd be lucky on an airplane) and B. there was a seat vacant between me and my row-mate.  We were BOTH excited, because that meant the plane wasn't filled to capacity, and that WE WERE GOING TO LIVE!

Just sayin'.  Every plane ride is an adventure.

I also sat next to a guy on the first leg of the flight who picked up a rattlesnake with his bare hands.  He stood 6'5" and had the sweetest smile.  He was fun to talk to-- which, you know.  The whole reason I come!

 (Oh yeah-- and we're in another habit trail-- although it looks like there's enough places here at the hotel that don't suck that I won't feel like I live in this one.)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sorry! Got too busy writing to write!

Things to do today:

*  Go get my eyes examined by Lenscrafters because they offer free eye exams with a pair of glasses and I can never remember to call Kaiser.

*  Put the iPod in the car because I ordered a fuckton of music (THANK you Pandora!) and I needed to upload it all before I got on the plane.

*  Look up a special hell for people like this guy, who took my friend's book, changed the name, and published it verbatim.

*  Go work out, because I MUST.

*  Get Squish out of the house.  She's forgetting how to speak and is becoming feral.

*  Take dog on at least three walks today.  He too is becoming feral.

*  Continue writing on short, sweet, and fluffy novella about college theatre people and the lovely solo dancer who loves the geeky guy at the light board.  (I'm not usually so trite, but I just really liked the idea of a subtle push/pull and the whole unseen class distinction and someone so beautiful he makes my teeth ache.)

*  Write down pattern for this hat, because this is the second one I've managed to successfully create, and that's pattern time is what it is.  I love this hat-- it's a one-skein wonder, and it involves this yummy yummy scrumptious yarn and BUTTONS.  You heard me.  BUTTONS.  *happy sigh*  Seriously.  What's not to like?

*  Do laundry because I'm leaving for Atlanta in 48 hours.  Oh my God.  Seriously-- for those of you who've been around for OMG, EIGHT YEARS, can you even believe this is my life now?  *sigh*  Me neither.  I hate leaving my family but I love going on adventures-- and it shouldn't surprise me that the feeling of leaving my kids to go teach was roughly the same.  (Of course, the going on adventures comes without the soul-crushing misogyny, conformity, and despair of the teaching, so I guess that's a definite plus.)

*  Cuddle some more with the kids.  I took sort of a day off yesterday, and yes, I wrote, but I also sat down and watched television for the family.  I don't do that as much as I used to and I missed it.  I plan to do more of it-- and knit too!

*  Appreciate husband.  He's been extremely sweet lately.

*  Un-enroll from this weird dating service I accidentally enrolled in via FB when I was checking to see if Vulnerable was REALLY on a list of classic fantasy.  It was.  I'm not sure how.  I was still tickled as hell.  But now I've got guys calling themselves "Tonguemaster 2000" showing up on my FB feed, and that shit has got to STOP.

*  Buy make-up and hair dye because I'm going to be pretending to be professional and I understand that's sort of a requirement.  (And seriously?  My old make-up is making my eyes goop-- some bullshit about changing it out more than once a year.  I don't know.  I think it's a scam.)

*  Okay, maybe I'll ask Mate to help me unenroll from the dating service because it's harder than I thought.  Seriously!

*  Plan the post where I explain to all of you about St. Truth-be-Well.

*  Lose, heinously, in four different games of Words With Friends, because Rhys Ford KICKS MY ASS in that game and I haven't learned yet.

*  Stay up until one talking to Mary about my new WIP cause she's nice about doing that with me.

*  Watch Teen Wolf, Major Crimes, Maxwell and King, and... oh hell.  Is Warehouse 13 on hiatus?  Jebus!  And next season's the last too.  *sighs*

* Maybe, somewhere in there, read Garfield with Squish and nap.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

General Tips Through Life

*  I woke up early with Mate the day he went back to work.  We watched part of a movie, he kissed me goodbye, I fell asleep on my new chair again.  When I woke up again, Zoomboy was standing over me-- he was wearing his underwear and his bright green squid hat.

He said, "Protect me from the mayonnaise!  Beware the mayonnaise!"

I have no idea what it means, but he seemed really impassioned, and he felt enough about it that he wore his squid hat around the neighborhood, so I thought I'd pass that tip on to all of you.  Beware of the mayo.  Apparently squids are our last defense!

*  We get this trail mix through Safeway called "Good Apple Morning".  My tip from me to you is to only open this trail mix when you are around five or more other people.  If you are alone, you will eat the entire bag by yourself.  I am not shitting around or playing here.  This bag-o-satan contains things like candied pecans and yoghurt raisins and it's insidious I tell you, insidious.  

*  Squish broke my heart today by asking why I wasn't the mom who chased them around and played freeze tag with them.  I remembered that I used to, before my feet sort of went bad, and then, by the time I'd figured out all the tricks that would let me walk better, they'd gotten to the point where they could outrun me.

That was depressing.  I think I'll go eat lots of veggies and lose twenty pounds to get over the pain!

*  Just as an observation?  Having an animal that is so happy to see you that he spontaneously wets himself is both richly rewarding and a constant pain in the water bill.  Sayin'.  The next time I buy a comforter set, I swear it won't be dog piss yellow.

*  My kids have discovered (wait for it!) Garfield.  Now, some of you may scoff, but remember 30 years ago when all the intellectuals were just over and done with that animal?  Well, sayin'-- that fuzzy orange nightmare still cracks me the hell up.

*  Have I mentioned Colour-Lovers?  It's this sort of amazing website where you get to go in and design palettes and color in designs or even create your own designs!  Anyway, when I get bored with my Twitter background, I go to Colour-Lovers  and fix up my background.  This time, I took Squish with me and had HER design the background-- she did a damned good job of it, too.  Seriously.  Kid has a good eye!

*  I finished Ethan Gold on Monday and signed my contract today-- WOOT!  DSP being the rock-awesome group of people that they are will try to help me have the story out by GRL so I'll have paperbacks to sign.  I love that!

*  I started Dance Moves which is sort of a random, cute and fluffy.  Ethan Gold was dragon ridden, don't doubt it, but cute and fluffy?  God, no.  Every conversation was a delicate choice to see how each character would react.  I wanted nothing trite--I pray that's how it looks on the outside too.  Anyway, Dance Moves is a trope-tastic delight, and I'm writing it to make the people I love smile.  Of course I'll submit it (I'm sort of a pro, right?) but seriously-- if someone picks it up after Ethan Gold, they'll be wondering who swapped out my brain.

*  Speaking of light and fluffy-- Left on St.-Truth-be-Well is out for pre-sale, and I'm excited about that. This one was also dragon ridden, but that dragon had plenty of inspiration.  Before this story comes out, I'm going to divulge the whole story of how these characters came to be, and how this story came to be written.  I love the story about the story almost as much as the story itself!  But in the meantime, by all means pre-buy-- it is NOT an angst fest, and Jessie Potts at the U.S.A. Today blog is liking it very much!

*  Oh... and did I mention I'm going to Atlanta on Wednesday?  I don't get in until late Wednesday night, and I'm not attending any signings.  In fact, I'm pretty much hanging out with the DSP and Harmony Ink people (and, for a delirious day or two with Mary my Mary and no one else shall have her!) and trying not to look too dorky-- and, of course, helping to network if I can.  But if you were going to RWA , by all means look me up!  I'll be happy to see a friendly face.

*  Oh yeah-- and this guy-- because sometimes, if you're lucky, you can be Batman!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Some Cinnamon, Some Sugar, Some Butter, Some Meat...

Okay-- random fun stuff from various places today--

*  The dog.  The frickin' dog.  I look at the dog on the couch,  leave the room, head for another room, pause in the hallway, and when I get to where I'm going?  Yeah-- the dog is there.  Waiting for me.  IT'S LIKE I HAVE TWO DOGS! Or a bunch of little dog clones, that are just hanging out in whatever room I'm heading for.  *shudder* Weird.

*  Zoomboy: "Mom!  Guess what?  The lizard that was running around the house is now a corpse in Squish's room because the cat gave her a present!"


Two hours later:  "You know mom, I think the lizard we lost was smaller. That was a whole other lizard."



*  The AHT at the vets: "Oh, isn't he sweet?  I just cuddle him and we can give him a shot without a problem."

Dog:  (((0.0)))

Me, at the movie theatre, with the kids who are dressed up for Grease, the singalong version: Oh holy Jebus-- I don't remember John Travolta saying "pussy wagon" and "girls will cream" quite so much when I saw this movie as a kid.

Mate, at the movie theatre, with the kids who are dressed up for Grease, the singalong version: I am the only man here.  Oh wait!  There's one!  He too is here with his wife wearing pegged jeans and a ponytail.  Excellent.  Thanks for this.  No.  I may do the hand-jive but I refuse to sing.

Squish, at the movie theatre, with pigtails and a fluffy skirt:  "Tell me more tell me more tell me more!"

Zoomboy, with the tank top and the jeans: I too will do the hand-jive but I refuse to sing.


*  Fourth of July-- Mom:  It is SO fucking hot, I would actually rather BAKE the ribs at night and eat them cold during the day.  Everybody down with that?

Mate, who ordinarily would have to cook said ribs over the grill in the 111 degree heat:  RIGHTEOUS IDEA!  WOOHOO!

*  Squish, after several days in the heat by the pool, when asked if she wanted to go outside and play: *fainting starfish*

*  Okay-- this is about my friend Becky, also known as Fibrobabe-- and she's trying to raise some knitwear for a good cause.  Her info is posted HERE  and if ANYONE wants some Red-Heart Super Saver to use to knit hats or gloves for homeless youth, send me your address via my website contact (above) and I'll send you a free skein of yarn.  No lie.  I'm never sure if I'll have the time to put up or shut up for donating knitwear-- but if you've got the time, I've got the yarn.

*  And for those of you who have indicated you missed Chicken's tumblr with the Angry Rat cartoons-- two things.

One, I've got a picture of her from a con in L.A., where she's the spitting image of Daria.  I think that's awesome.

Two, her tumblr is right here.  That phone convo she posted Monday night?  That was with me.  I'm so proud.

*  Oh yeah-- one more thing.  Ethan Gold is FINISHED, and that's exciting because it might make it out before GRL-- WOOT!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Writer's Prayer

Holy Goddess, Merciful God,
I've saved to the folder, and Google Docs
I've sent my buddy the last little bit
Please don't let the computer eat my shit.

I've burned incense, eaten chocolate too
And carefully swept my keyboard of goo
I've waved an old pen and a wand and a sword
Don't let technology eat my words.

I've watched the blue line travel across my doc
Don't let bytes attempt to block
That all important saving thing
Oh let it be saved, kazaam, kazing!

They're good words, deities, I swear to you both!
And even if not, I'm really loath
To spend precious time typing them again!
I'd go faster with paper and pen!

And who do I curse, when it goes awry?
What heavens do I rage at, curse and cry?
Whose dog do I kick?  On whose feet do I spit?
What do I beat up to get over it?

"Why!" I wail, "Oh gods, why!
I hit the right buttons, I really did try
Not to incur your technology wrath
And to stay on the straight and backed up path!

Why must you punish me by eating my words!
I typed them late at night-- they're a blur!
I want the same passage, down to the last letter!
(Nevermind that a rewrite might just be better...)"

But the computer ignores me, and continues to eat,
(While suspicious parts inside overheat)
And I'm stuck with a gap between what I wrote
And what the computer still has on my notes.

Oh fuck it-- I give--I acknowledge the worst.
The words are all gone, no matter how much I curse.
In a minute I'll get back to work and rewrite
But first let me whine on the net just for spite.

And now, finally, I"m back to my task.
It's like drinking vinegar-- don't even ask.
And you know the worst thing, that taints every letter?
Oh hell.
Oh gods.
Don't you just hate it, when the rewrite is better?

****This poem of rage is dedicated to the lost 1500 words of Ethan Gold.  RIP, words--we shall always wonder at the potential that was you.