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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Wild Kingdom

And in the backyard whence all things are possible…

"Look- look, Mom!  Gordie has a dead bird!  And he's trying to get into the house!" (This from both kids, screaming and waving arms in excitement.)


"Aw, mom-- look!  He's playing with it.  He's so proud!"  (This from Zoomboy.)

"Oh!  Mom!  The little bird's legs were so skinny!" (This from Squish.)

"Like Mordecai from The Regular Show right?"

"Uhm, yeah."

"Wait-- there goes Jonnie!  There goes Gordie!  There lieth the dead bird!"

(Kids) "Aw.  He's just gonna leave it?"

And that's it.  Excitement over.  Ded bird iz ded, spazzy cat iz spazzy, and the dog hath defended his yard!

Except I text Chicken about the whole event--her response?

"No! My cat runs from no dog!"

Well, even the most eeeebil feline might have a moment of flight-or-fight when a furry little bullet comes flying for him.

And as for the furry bullet?  Oh yeah- he's napping in my shirt, because he had a big morning, didn't he?

*whew*  Wild Kingdom gets exhausting around here!

And as for Steve the Girl Cat?

Well, her big showing this morning was (you guessed it) in the bathroom.  I went to let her out, and Mate was like, "Really?  She wants out?"  See, usually, she's in the bathroom with me so long she leaves big puncture wounds in whatever nightgown or shirt I was wearing when I went in there.  The other day, Squish just stood at my shoulder and walked her fingers over the tiny little holes, trying to figure out what they were. When I told her, she held her hand to her mouth and gasped, blue eyes big in classic Scottish Kibuki Theatre pose.

Yes.  The cat pokes that many holes in my clothes.  Sometimes she pokes those holes when I'm asleep, and I have (oh SHAME!) forgotten to fill her food bowl before the interminable period of no consciousness whereby she might starve.

But not today.

"There's so much" *cough* *gasp* "hair floating around in here" *cough* *gasp* "that I can't breathe!"  *snort* *choke* *expires on potty after petting fluffy cat before summer*

To which Mate said, "Well keep the door shut!  If there's a whole other cat of hair in there, it doesn't need to come out!"

Apparently he was not worried about my potential survival.  Well, he's an optimist.

Anyway, that's the animal function in our house (and pause here to admire the series of pictures I took of the cat and the dog IGNORING THE HOLY SHIT OUT OF EACH OTHER) but I should mention that while I was away, Mate managed to establish ABSOLUTE DOMINANCE over the dog.  Jonnie will be licking my face and bothering me when I'm trying to yarn in front of the television.  All Mate has to do is yell at him once and he goes straight to his (get this!) dog bed, and retreats in wounded silence.

Mate is brilliant.

In fact, Mate is so brilliant, I elected to go watch his team play softball on Tuesday.  Now, he's been on this team on and off, for around twelve years.  What's interesting is watching the guys play.  They're not the youngest, or the the most athletically brilliant, but what they are is practiced.  I told Mate that the term that came to mind was the "ease of long familiarity".  They were competent and they knew where to throw the ball when.  (Which is something I never mastered.)  They enjoyed to play, because they knew these things-- being competent and working smoothly made it fun.  It gave them chances to be brilliant, and that's one of the things they don't tell you about growing older.

It does give one hope.


And the picture of Zoomboy, with the hat and the Lego-built-flashy-thing?

Remember all those old movies they played on Monday?

One of them was Men in Black.

And oH!  I admit it--I've gone back to my old hooking ways.  For this one project, at least.  Seriously-- this is a shawl I'm crocheting out of Noro sock yarn.  It's going to be stout and practically windproof, and, well, rainbow striped.  I'm trying to decide if I should give it away or keep it, but right now, I just sort of love it, and we'll leave it at that.

And that's the end!  Oh-- two bits of book business to insert here.

One-- don't forget that on Monday I do *kermit flail* Monday! where I post new releases from friends who e-mail me with new releases to post!  But if you've got a new release, hit me up with the blurb, the buy link, and the cover art, and I'll put it out there.  I've got a couple already for Monday, which is great because last Monday I didn't have ANY.


I'm pimping the radio interview Kim Fielding and I are doing on Capitol Public Radio Monday, June 9th.  We'll be on Insight with Beth Ruyak, at 9 a.m., and the station streams online, and also is saved in cache in case you miss it.  I have to confess, my biggest fear is forgetting that this is not a podcast (wherein anything goes) and just blurting out the F-bomb.  I've spent the last two weeks practicing saying "Holy flipping WOW!" whenever necessary.  I, uhm, need more practice.

And to that end, I bid you adieu!  And should the cats catch anymore birds, well then, Holy flipping WOW!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

I'll be honest, my family isn't particularly sentimental about patriotism.  We've see far too many politicians use it--as Mark Twain insisted-- as the last refuge of the nincompoop.  If someone doesn't like your version of how to fix the world, well, they scream "UNPATRIOTIC" in your face, and you run away, for fear of being blackballed or having your family taken away or being put in a room for months and sweated for a confession.  And that was even before 911 and the Bush years, and the last wearying eight years of having a thinking man in the white house and a whole bunch of extremists everywhere else, including surrounding us in our general area.

It is enough to make a flaming liberal a little wary, at the very least.

On the other hand, well…

Mate and I are respectful children, and we've been taught to respect our elders, and, well, yeah.

My grandparents were heroes in the war.

Did I mention this?

That my grandparents were heroes in the war?

I know I have.  I know if you look through my blog archives you'll see my memorials of the two of them, and the mention that I listened to their stories, I watched my grandfather's interview for the office of living history, I was there when my grandmother's role in the OSS was finally declassified, just a few months before her death.

I'm not going to rehash everything they said-- and in a general sort of way, I am aware that grandmother was famous for embellishing story, and she may possibly(!) have spread a little bit of misinformation when she told me what she did, just because I was hanging on her every word.  But how could I not?

My grandparents were HEROES!  

And I'm just a storyteller.  How do you not put those things together and get me, hungering for their stories, wanting more of them, and more?

How do you not get me…

Writing my own story, with bits and pieces of their story inside.

Well, see, when this book comes out (The Bells of Times Square)-- and I'm thinking sometime in what?  November?  I'll probably put a forward at the beginning of it, talking about what my grandparents' contributed to this book that I wrote years after their death.

I'll talk about what I know about what they did in the OSS and what they said they did, and how I twined it all up in the story like it was real, because sometimes the stories you tell your children and grandchildren about what you did are the things you wish were real about people in general.

I'll talk about what they said they did and what I found out in the course of my research when the book gets a little bit closer to release, but for now, I want to concentrate on the pictures I chose.

One of them is of grandma, a few months before she passed away.  In a way, it's sort of an unfair picture to share-- she's vulnerable.  Old, infirm, content to wield the remote control and deal with her discomfort and will the confusion of the world to go away.  (I was looking for a picture of grandpa, and I know there's one in my phone, but I don't know how to make folders and it's just so chaotically organized-- hottie, hottie, hottie, drawn hottie, meme, hottie, thinly disguised peen, grandpa in a wheelchair, hottie, hottie, meme… I figured I'd stick to grandma, since she was easier to find.)

Anyway, the other picture is of DC heroines, easily found on the net, I chose the picture that's a little bit old school, not quite so sexually exploitive as some, and full of optimism-- women in their prime, kicking ass.

And how these two pictures are the extreme ends of what I believe heroism is, and why I tried to write The Bells of Times Square to reflect this, and why in spite of a deep and abiding cynicism and distrust of my government and a dislike of how they treat their veterans in general, I still like to take a moment to remember my family's sacrifices on this shamelessly exploitively patriotic day.  (Don't get me started on the Fourth of July.  We try to spend that day at the movies.)

The fact is, we are not, we will never be, the fearless heroines in the poster.  Even the heroines were not the heroines in the poster.  The best superhero stories are the ones about how the people overcome their generally flawed humanity and rise to the occasion of being a hero.  That's the entire archetype of the hero.  That's why man started writing stories, to explore the difference between what man was and what we all wanted him to be.  

And we find (as we have always found) that the genuine hero is somewhere between the two extremes.  Somewhere between the elderly woman sprawled inelegantly on the couch and the cut, determined women on the comic book cover was the woman who worked for the OSS after a job modeling, cooked up "dirty tricks" for the POW's to play on the Germans, and was proud of serving her country.  Somewhere between Captain America and Bucky Barnes lies my grandpa, whose job it was to take pictures from airplanes, and who either went down over Greece and joined the resistance, or was dropped over Greece, while using a completely different name.  And somewhere in the middle of all of that was the elderly man in the wheelchair, who gave his grandchildren high fives and wanted to know if I was going to name my last child Moonbeam, since all my others were named some sort of wierdo name that he had no familiarity with at all.

And that's why Memorial Day.  That's why a moment of silence.  That's why some appreciation of the heroic war movies on television today.  That's why some honoring of those who have gone before.

That's why The Bells of Times Square.

Because yes, patriotism is the last refuge of the nincompoop and you're not going to convince me otherwise.  (Even Captain America wasn't buying the party line by the end of the last movie.)  And yes, our government is flawed, cracked, rubble and lies. But not even those beliefs can taint what real heroism is.  That in the heart of the departed, in the soul of the elderly grandparents, still sharp even as they declined, in the core of so many of the people I admire, is the part of humanity that wants to make the world better.

That thinks it's their job to help make this come true.

That is willing to risk terrible odds to see it happen.

We need to remember them.  We need a remembrance of them.  We especially need to remember that the core of heroism in them was seated in the same flawed flesh that couches our own optimism, our own view of the world.

We need to see that heroism in ourselves.

Friday, May 23, 2014

You can't cook the children!

Well, I tried to cook the children, but they're still not well done.

I took them to the pool and let them swim until Squish's little cheeks got really red, and her shoulder too.  And then we came home and I napped.

Which is sort of what I've been doing all week.  What, Amy, you napped?

Oh hell yes.  I can't lay down on my own bed without pointing and curling my toes like a cat.  If I could, I'd bend my knee and lick the bottom of my feet, because I'm just so relaxed and happy to be home.

Anyway-- so I've been cooking along on John's book, and you know what?  When you take a guy who sells his best friend into a porn scene for the money he owes his dealer, and then get him out of rehab to an ex-lover's suicide, do you know what happens?

A lot of fucking soul searching.  Jesus, I'm wishing for a bomb or something.  People will be begging me for a murder mystery after this.  This book is going to be a cure for insomnia, I am not shitting around.  Every cat in the world is going to sleep on the corpse of this book-- it's going to be their holy place-- the place where all sleeps come from.  A hundred e-readers are going to disappear under the giant fatty-fuzzy tummies of a hundred house cats thinking, "I still can't read, but I know what sends out sleep vibes, and honey, this thing's got it going on."  Where's a good old fashioned explosion when you need one?

*pant pant pant*

Okay, that rant's over.  (And don't we all love Amy's marketing technique?  That should be my next T-shirt: This book sucks.  By all means don't buy it.  I'll sell tens of books doing that, right?)

Okay.  Rant really over, I think.


I do have a funny story to tell.

See, we went to the children's Open House the other night.  Now, see, when Mom was in New Orleans, she got to hear Squish wax rhapsodic about meal worms.  I said, "Oh, was the meal worm gross?"

"No mom!  Meal worms aren't gross-- they're our friends!  But I killed mine and the teacher had to pick it up with a spoon."

"Awesome, hon.  I'll look forward to seeing that."

Well, I did get to see the meal worms, and the milk weed bugs and the other accoutrements of second grad science, God love all second grade teachers everywhere.  Of course, because she's Squish, she wanted to show me the meal worm up close and personal-- she even dumped it out of it's vial and onto the special piece of paper they use to poke the meal worms to make them more active.  (I shit you not.  It's part of their day.)  Anyway, she did that, and then couldn't get the meal worm back in it's vial and then…

Oh God.  I had to pick it up.  I did.  Because she was afraid of squashing it and it almost fell on the ground and it would have broken her heart…

And you know what?

It was every bit as gross as I thought it would be.  Oh my God.  I don't pet slugs either.  Can we think of anything less appetizing?

Anyway, as we were leaving that classroom of hopeful happy learners and squeamish parents, her teacher stopped and told us something.  She said that Squish's class has read 2 Million words this semester.  We were suitably impressed.  Then she said that Squish had read 300,000, and I was hella frickin' jealous.  *I* don't get that much time to read!  Oi!  That kid needs to do some chores for me so I can catch up with her reading word count, I am saying.  (Honestly, we were both just really proud.  That's sort of insane-- gees, she's good!)

Zoomboy's classroom was a surprise too.  For one thing, Zoomboy had actually done work.  Now, his state report got a 32/50, but you know what?  It was the most homework that kid had done in the 5th grade.  We were all about the celebration, I'm telling you.  It's frustrating in a way.  He's up on all of his concepts, gets the good grades on all of his tests, but that whole idea of having an aid come help him organize his shit seems to fall on deaf ears.  I know if I'd had someone do that for me every so often, I'd probably be much better off-- next year, I shall insist, but for now, we have a scant nine days of school left, and I'm doing the happy dance too.  We shall swim as often as possible, and remember sunblock next time.

And besides that?

Okay, coconut water-- does anybody know the point?  Now, Berry Jello (a friend I know both IRL and on the web) says that coconut oil supplements make us not crave carbs, which sounds like a really good idea, but is that the same idea for coconut water?  Because honestly?

Gag me.

Maybe it was the metal can, but the Thai place we ordered from tonight gave us a can gratis, and it was gnarly ick.  I am not seeing the point of that.

But ooh! Ooh oh oh!!!

I'd forgotten!

Author Kim Fielding and I are going to do an interview on the radio.  I blame Kim (who is adorable and talented and deserves to get credit!) because she was listening to an author get interviewed on Insight, a local radio program on KXJZ featuring Beth Ruyak (who has been an Olympic commentator and an Emmy award winning host) and said, "Hey!  Amy lives in Sacramento and I live in Turlock, and I bet we could be way more interesting than this guy!"

So she e-mailed them, and now here we go!

The interview will be on Monday, 9:00 a.m., June 9th, and that LINK I provided will get the program streaming, but I think it will also record the program if you want to hear it sometime not 9:00 a.m. in the morning, right?  Also, if you follow the link, it will give you the locations on the dial, so, you know, Radio Free America, it exists.

Now as I was freaking out quietly to Mate, (I sent her Racing for the Sun to read?  WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING!!!)  Mate said, "You know you can't swear on the radio."

So yeah.  Among other things, I've been practicing how to say "Holy Frickin' Wow!" and make it sound authentic.  Wish me luck there too!

And that's about it.  I have to admit, searching all these pictures of sleeping kittehs has sent me running for my default operation the last four years.

Ah, sleep. Seriously.  How could I have lived without you?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Airports, Flames, and Tazers

Hello, DSP peeps!
So, uhm, yesterday was a travel day.

I usually don't have too much to report about those, yeah?  I get on the plane, I happily occupy myself with books and knitting and music-- things I don't have enough time to do off the plane-- and then I land and cab, or kiss my husband who is waiting for me.  (That second part is the best part.)

But yesterday…

It might have been exhaustion.  I'm heading for a nap shortly, and that's how I spend most of the day after any trip, and there's a reason for that.  But it might have just been…

I dunno… Monday?
L.A. Witt

My plane left NOLA at around 5:30.  After attending breakfast with Dreamspinner & Co. (wherein we realized we wouldn't see each other for months, and were all really frickin' sad!) I set up shop intending to work, but in reality what this did was give me lots of time to talk to Zam and Belinda McBride and L.A. Witt and. EM Lynley.  (Talking to L.A. Witt right before I catch my cab is becoming a habit-- I think I should always do this, because she's funny as hell, savage, kind, and likes stupid spam on her phone.  What's not to love?)  Then Zam and Belinda and I all shared a cab and checked in and got a chance to talk some more-- awesome, no?

The weirdness started when I got on the plane.

The guy in front of me was cute.  He was also drunker than any man I have ever seen in public.  When the passengers stood up at the end of the flight, the woman in front of us had really amazing earrings, right?  And this guy almost reached up and grabbed one, like a baby.  He wasn't doing it for attention, he was just that beery. The guy next to me-- who washed down two Dramamine with Jack & Coke-- was like, "Dayum, that guy's wasted."  (He also was darned cute-- but I watched him drool on himself a lot, and the only time that's adorable is when it's your own mate.)  So, well, that was odd.

And then we got to LAX.  So, if you arrive in LAX in T5 or T6, and you need to go from one to the other, they send you on a sherpa hike through a long existential tunnel, replete with murals of places that neither T5 NOR T6 generally go to.  Seriously.  Paris is pretty and all, but the majority of these flights are domestic, and given that you're trekking down a mostly featureless hallway with no air conditioning?  Screw Paris, I want some fucking air!  Oy!  And then, when you get to T5 (in my case) and attempt to use the ladies room, you find a three-seater.  Yes.  10 gates and a three-seater.  With a lot of pissed off women, sweating because, again, no air.  I've been in campground bathrooms that were bigger and less irritating.

But after that, I plunked my ass down at a charging terminal and, omg, finally got around to texting my family.  Chicken, of course, was using me as a way to stay up during her 9:30 class, but Mate actually shared stories.  In particular, this one:

Mate:  So, the stove caught fire.

Me:  o.0

Mate:  It hadn't been cleaned in a while.  Remember the toaster oven?

Me:  But I just CLEANED the oven.  Is there no justice?

Mate:  This was a burner.  It's all right though.  The flames freaked the little kids out, but I had it under control.

Me:  Mom guilt.  IT BURNS!!!

Seriously-- that's all the little kids could talk about this morning.  (After opening their presents of course.  New Orleans masks do a lot to ease the pain of parting.  Saying.)  Dad made them go outside while he tried not to burn the house down.  *headdesk*  If I wasn't exhausted, I'd probably clean.

And while I was texting that, some weird shit was going on next to me.  Somebody left their cell phone and computer charging… and then, just, uhm, left, while Security freaked the fuck out.  So, I dragged all my shit to a restaurant to go eat, and came back and they had apparently moved the stuff.  After some mindless sitting and starting Anne Tenino's Frat Boy and Toppy (which was hot and awesome!) we got moved to another gate (LAX-- I'm frickin' telling ya… it's like on some sort of weird warp of space, time, and logic!)  And we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  So the flight was delayed almost an hour and a half, and as we were all getting in line to board, security apparently caught up with the drunken 60 something guy who had left his cell phone and computer charging.

He was demanding them back.

Loudly, and aggressively.  From the nice man with the weapons.

"You can't do this to me!  I want to talk to the FBI!  I want to talk to your supervisor!  I want to talk to a real cop!  Give me back my fucking phone!  I'm within my rights!  What are you going to do about it, asshole?  Huh?  You gonna shoot me?"

And he got up in the security officer's face, and we all got to see the red light blinking on his shirt.

And then we got to see him still yelling, "You're not gonna taze me!" while the nice man with the taser said in his loud official voice, "TURN AROUND AND ALLOW ME TO CUFF YOU OR YOU WILL BE TAZED!"

The guy turned around, again asking bitterly for other law enforcement agencies which, I am sure, didn't want a fucking thing to do with this goatfuck, and allowed himself to be cuffed.  And then he pulled a 2 year old maneuver-- he let his knees collapse and when the officer grabbed at his shoulder to hoist him to his feet, cried, "My shoulder!  My shoulder!  I just had surgery!"

And that's when we all got on the plane, looking anxiously over our shoulders.  We really didn't care about the guy (I know that sounds cold, but live by the asshole code and be abandoned like a cold asshole) but we were just worried that the officer was going to have to actually taze him, and then the section of the airport would be shut down, and the flight that was leaving boarding nearly an hour and a half after schedule would be delayed yet again.  

It wasn't, but by then, I was so exhausted I actually drank a soda on the way home (when normally I stick to water, for not peeing in the tiny bathroom reasons).  And because the flight was delayed (he must have literally flown like the wind, because we only arrived an hour late, as opposed to an hour and a half late) when we got to Sac Metro, all of the roomy, modern, clean and cool bathrooms were closed up to be cleaned.


But on the plus side there was Mate, who was happy to see me!  And the kids, who gave me lots of hugs.  Squish needed her hair braided, Zoomboy wanted to try on his mask and the dog wanted to sleep in my shirt and everybody wanted to talk about the fire and…

Yeah.  Good to be home.  So very, very good to be home.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

RT2014: NOLA

  So, right before I left for NOLA, Caroline Hanson asked me if I was going to have any time to play.  I responded, "Oh hell no!" immediately.  After three years of doing this whole travel thing, I've gotten used to the idea that, very often, the most I'll see of a particular city is the hotel and any restaurant a block away unless I play hooky. 
Not so in New Orleans.    Part of it, I think, is that so much of the city is close, and in the French Quarter, it's far easier to walk on the broken pavement than it is to find a cab.  Part of it is that the hotel, while accommodating, has also been loud, just in general acoustical levels, so the temptation to linger and chat has been minimized.  It's been far more private to go out into the noisy city and wander than it has been to find a corner of the hotel and chat.

At any rate, I can now say I've wandered the French Quarter and strolled through the garden district.  I've dined like a queen and heard the river boats playing the creepy death marionette song while I was napping (which explain the really intense and creepy dream I had then, I might add.)  You can probably see from the picture that the river is right there-- vast and rolling and twice as wide as Folsom Lake near my home, so the riverboat song really IS close enough to pervade my dreams.  I have not seen any of the places hit by Katrina particularly hard--but I have talked to locals who were forced to relocate during cleanup, and it is clear that their heart is here.  It's easy to see why.

So, I have, in random order, some con pictures interspersed with some NOLA pictures, and I'm sort of out of it-- it's been something of a week and the end something of a month and a half.  On Wednesday, I broke down and started to laugh/sob hysterically, giggling, "A month ago, I was in San Diego!" much to Mary's chagrin-- she wasn't sure how she was going to get me to stop!  Anyway, stringing two thoughts much less two sentences together is something of a miracle for me-- forgive the lack of cogency, I swear I'll try to recover my brain cells by the next time I blog!

The first two NOLA pictures are taken from my hotel room-- I just panned to the right and then to the left.  I think one of the first things that hit me is how compressed the city is.  The good and the bad just right on top of each other, layered like an paints on an impressionist painting.  The second two are balconies at night.  Yeah, I know-- not hardly original--but the old quarter, man, you just don't see buildings that old in California.  And whether the balconies are apartment buildings or hotels, they're haunting and beautiful, and there is something seductive about the thought of tourists wandering the quarter, drunk on decadence and carry-away daiquiris, under the jaded eye of locals who have seen it all.         
If you look down this narrow street at nine o'clock at night, you'll see that the locals get an eyeful. 

So, sandwiched between wanderings into the Quarter for food, was actual wanderings of the Canal Street Marriott for work. This picture here, with all of the lovely people in it, is from the DSP Fantastic Day Party.  Now, the party itself was pretty chaotic-- authors were coming and going and the place was mobbed with people looking for free books and signatures from their favorite authors.  For the record, including the signing, it was the second time I was in a room with Lee Childs as a professional-- and yet, I have no signature.  *sigh*  It was the one thing I wanted for my husband, and I'm sort of sorry I failed.  But the people I was working with?  The stunning Amanda Carlson, the hugely talented Tere Michaels, Anastasia (Ariel's delightful and helpful intern), lyric apted, our bubbly, kind, helpful publicist, THE amazing, talented and OH SO FRICKIN' GENEROUS WITH HIS TIME Damon Suede, the beautiful and SO perky, talented, beautiful, and inexhaustible Ariel Tachna, the solid, AMAZING Anne Reagan, the inimitable Connie Bailey, the talented, brave J.P. Barnaby, the talented, organized Kate McMurray, Elizabeth-my-darling-boss-whom-I-love-and-revere, her long-suffering (and delightful) son P.J., and, of course, front and to the left, Mary-my-Mary and nobody else shall have her-- all of these amazing, talented, wonderful, fantastic, creative, hard-working spectacular people made this event a success.


Also happening at RT2014...

In the picture to the right (I hope-- something tells me blogger is going to completely reorg all my spacing for this post) you will see a picture of some really awesome giants in the LGBTQ industry-- yeah, I know, I've got no business there, but it was nice to be invited.  From left to right is Ruth Sternglantz, editor of Bold Strokes books; Christopher Rice, NYT bestselling author of delicious horror and murder mystery; Heather Osborne, admittedly brilliant editor of Samhain Publishers; some m/m author that nobody cares about; the brilliant and brilliantly opinionated Jay from Joyfully Jay Review Blog; and the beautiful and talented Kellie Jamison who writes menage where the boy parts touch.  The lovely and poised Sarah Frantz was our moderator, and we got a lot of great feedback from that panel.  I was really proud to be a part of it.  Also, Christopher Rice hugged me in the middle of a crowded bar when he was dressed all nice and I looked like ass, so, not only is he talented (I've read him-- I don't rec lightly) but he's also kind enough not to gaze at me in horror and turn the other way.  

This particular picture is of the signing, and I got to sit next to the stunning, sprightly, beautiful, talented, happy Tara Lain, and I love her, and love that she still enjoys the two of us being Lain and Lane, in spite of the fact that we were facing the horrors of the E.L. James line, and were forced to pimp swag.  (I had a lot of people who took my card when I offered them with a refrigerator magnet with my logo-- "Angst dragon?  Angst dragon anyone?"  the Angst dragon was hugely popular, much to my surprise.)

And in this gem of a picture, we have Z.A. Maxfield, Josephine Myles, Anne Tenino, and Mary Calmes-- and we're all in an interview about writing M/M fiction.  Pat Henshaw gave the interview, and she writes for a number of publications, including Publisher's Weekly, All About Romance, and The Romance Review-- she was doing a piece on the lot of us, and we brought our serious faces and serious answers to this one.  I look forward to seeing what she does!

Okay-- this picture above me, I blew it up not so much because I'm trying to brag THIS BIG but because for some reason I ended up in the program, and I was tickled as hell.  I mean, you probably can't read the names, but there's Lee Childs and Charlaine Harris in the top left, Debbie Macomber, Tess Geritsen and Sylvia Day in the top right, and, yeah.  You might recognize yours truly, hanging out with the big kids, trying not to look weird.  I failed-- FRICKIN' MISERABLY-- but dude.  It's not every day you wake up and see you're keeping that company, even on paper.  (In reality, as I said, I couldn't get Lee Child's autograph.  Nobody, NOBODY, buy the fiction that I am any bigger than any other soccer mom out there, because it's a sad, sad lie.)  

And, to prove that last part, we have here the house of a real giant in literary fiction.  Yes, quite inadvertently (I swear-- we skipped the tour!) Mary, her husband Juneau and I managed to wander by Anne Rice's house.  We were, of course, suitably impressed.  I mean… look at it.  These were the houses in the garden district, and they were by turns glorious, damned, beautiful, ramshackle, and, almost universally, haunted, whether by the past or by the ghosts who couldn't leave because the oppressive humidity created a magnetic field that would have stopped a horse.  

I also took some pictures of other houses that caught our eye.  The blue and red one was simply charming and colorful (although not quite as vast as some of the others) and the one with the lovely driveway apparently belonged to the tire king of New Orleans.  (Don't look at me-- we sat there to catch a cab, and that's what the tour guide told us!)  To the right, we have, well, a lizard.  What can I say.  He was cute, he had a little frill along his back, and he was willing to pose.  I liked this lizard.  I wanted to make him famous.  He eats bugs like the giant cockroach we saw dead on it's back as we crossed Canal street this morning.  (It was hideous-- Mary almost got us hit by oncoming traffic because she was crossing the street freaking out.  "Juneau, did you see that bug????"  I didn't blame her.  We want this lizard to grow big and strong so he can eat other cockroaches before they get as big as a woman's fist.)

So it was a lovely wander, but, when we returned to the hotel, after a cool drink (non alcoholic) I went up to my hotel room (Mary has since moved out because A. I snore, and B. her husband is here and she wants to spend time with him, which is part of our code.  Mates before sisters-- it's just the way it goes) and she went shopping for her son. But I needed to blog, and really needed to write.  Man, I just needed some quiet to be in my own head.  

And to remember why I do this.  

Last night, Mate put me on the phone with Squish, and she didn't really want to talk to me, so much as talk with me in the room.  She and her brother told meal worm stories (thank you second grade science) and I just lay there, on the bed, watching her talk, and missing being in that room with all my heart.  So here's the picture from Wendy's wedding, that my mom took, because how soon were we all going to be dressed up in the same place again? and that's going to have to do me until I get home.  I don't quite recall being this homesick in my entire life-- I'm afraid it's colored the goings on here somewhat, and I've tried to spare you that.  There's nothing sadder than hearing a grown woman whine.

Besides.  Some of it has been delightful.  This picture of Elizabeth, taken when we were playing hooky in the Quarter on Thursday, is something I'm going to treasure.  There were good times to be had here, and once I'm home, and my family is around me, I'm sure I'll be more open to how awesome RT2014 really was.  (And maybe not burst into tears when someone mentions RT2015, which is what will happen for the next week or so, just to warn folks.)

So the next time I blog, I'll be home.  

I can't wait.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

New Orleans

In 1814 we took a little trip…

Good morning, America How Are you?  Don't you know me, I'm your native son…

There's a moon over Bourbon Street...

There is a house in New Orleans…

So, this the place where all the music comes from.

I like it.

The streets that I've seen are narrow, with broken sidewalks and crooked drains, and the buildings are squeezed together, like sisters in a church pew.  I have yet to see the river, but the the humidity is lessened by the wind off of it, and there is the smell of things happening, and of spices and cooking shrimp.

No corner is the same.

Even the Marriott-- and I've been to a few versions of this hotel-- is different, with two different towers, joined by a bridge of the lobby.

All food is good food.

I'm sure this place has its dark corners like everywhere else, and I understand that in the morning, they have to hose the vomit off of Bourbon Street, but in the meantime, it is full of nooks and crannies, and I have gotten big smiles from nearly everyone I've dealt with.

And the accents are soft on the ear, rolling like honey, and kind.

So New Orleans is a good place, and the convention is going well-- I presented two panels today, and that was thrilling.  (Exhausting, too, but thrilling-- I love doing the presentations, but I do hope people reign me in if I start getting too Amy.)  I've met a lot of the awesome people that I look forward to seeing whenever I go to these things, not least among them Mary-my-Mary and Elizabeth who is the best boss and loveliest friend I could ever wish to have.   I got to see Suzanne Brockman in a panel led by the dynamic Sarah Frantz and although I had to run away at the end and couldn't stay to meet her, I at least got to see one of my idols and a writer I've always really admired.

And tomorrow I have the morning open.  I am going to wander New Orleans in company, and if life is good, find yarn before my interview-- or at least, some souvenirs for Squish and Zoomboy and company.

At the moment though, I'm a little bit sleepy.  Mary is mocking me while she labors industriously on her novella, and I flounder through my blog post-- usually, I get more work done than this, but tonight, I may have to concede that, as lovely as New Orleans is, it's not home, and I have had something of a month.

Even so-- I would like to get to know this city better.  It truly is darkly charming.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Mother's Day Post


I always regard Mother's Day with such mixed emotions.

On the one hand, it's great to have a reason to do pretty much nothing while my family makes a big deal out of me.

On the other  hand, especially when our grandmothers were alive, between grandmothers, stepmothers, and moms in general, we pretty much subsidized Hallmark.

On the one hand, it's great to have a reason to get together with family.

On the other hand, I sort of want to spend the day loafing, and, especially when we used to try to hit everybody, loafing was not in the cards.

In recent times, especially as I've gotten older, and a little more selfish, I've been a little more assertive about saying, "Yanno… this is my day.  Mine.  Imma go out to dinner with my family and make a bunch of phone calls."

This time, we actually asked my stepmom out to lunch, and my dad decided he wanted to do one better, and make us lunch.

My stepmom, exhausted from planning Wendy's wedding, was like, "Whatever.  I really just want an excuse to do nothing.  I would really like to sit."

I've got my own fish to fry-- and bringing my family to said wedding was part of that, and getting ready for RT was another part, and a reluctant chance to rest after Oregon was another.  So, yeah. Sitting?  Doing not much?  I'm all for it.

But I feel a little guilty.  I'm leaving my husband home again on Tuesday, with the kids and the house and the animals, and although he does a wonderful job… I'm leaving him.  It's like, "How do I get mother's day when he's doing both our jobs?"

But he insists.

I vote that for Father's Day he gets to do anything he wants to do on the planet.  Anything.  Hell-- I'll go off planet.  Golfing on Venus?  A Martian brothel?  It's his.  I seriously learn how to be a better mother from my children's father-- he's kind, he's responsible, he's funny.

And he's giving me my own day.

I hope I deserve it.

Happy mother's day to everybody-- mothers of children or friends or fur babies or ficus-es .  May you have a friend, a helper, a mate of some sort (even a sister or a mother of your own) to assist you in your endeavor.  May your babies (of all sorts) be grateful and kind, and may your helpmates give you solace when things get too hard.  May you be remembered for your good points and forgiven for the rest, and may your failures make your spawn laugh, and may you be able to laugh at them too.  May you spend this day how you wish-- asleep, awake, in company or alone--and may cleaning the kitchen or not cleaning the kitchen be irrelevant to your happiness as it stands.

May you know joy.

(Speaking of joy, Chicken sent me this video after I published, so I edited to put this in.  I adore it fiercely.  Best handmade card ever.)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Did I tell you I got to be a douchebag?

Okay-- can I just say this isn't a meme, it's really what she said, and this picture and quote alone is like one of my favorite rants of all times?  And that's saying something-- a fan who read Blackbird went off on a rant about health care during the review, and I almost broke protocol to say amen-- when it's the truth, it really is their words to Goddess's ears.

Anyway, that being said…


So, yes.  Getting ready for RT -- leaving at ass-crack-dawn, Tuesday, and sort of excited about it.  Going to Avocado Wendy's wedding on Saturday-- getting the entire family ready, which is busier than it sounds.  (Or maybe not.  I remember my grandparents nagging my father to get a haircut.  I have now become my grandmother, and Big T is very, very afraid.)  The chaos that's resulted from simulplanning the two events at the same time is…


So you guys get random today, because that's been the sort of week I've been having!

*  I packed SIX flat-rate boxes, the biggest ones, to send to NOLA today.  The post office crew watched me as I was working, and no, I don't think it's a coincidence that only one guy was there when it was my time to be waited on.  NObody wanted in on that action.

*  I was so proud of myself too-- I got them all ready, carried them all to the first counter, then the second.  And then the guy behind the counter said, "That's not a real place.  Check the zip code again."  So I had to change the zip code.  On all six boxes.

*  I finished this blanket mostly in the car to and from San Diego and to and from Portland.  The young recipient won't even know it's late.

*  The cat got stoned off the blanket fumes.  What you can't see in this picture is that he's currently trying to snort Mate's hair.

*  Took the kids shopping for suits and dresses last night.  Squish is wearing a grown-ups dress that looks adorable and needs just a tiny stitch to close up the chest, as she as of yet has no cleavage.  It fits. It's adorable on her.  I'm a little afraid-- she's chubby, but she's also very tall.   Zoomboy had to choose between a one suit with a tie and another with a hat.  He picked the hat with Perry the Platypus on it, because he's inherited his mother's sense of style.

*  We all went shoe shopping today.  Now I'd actually ordered an orthotic pair of shoes for this wedding specifically, but I don't think they're going to make it in time.  Imagine my surprise when I found size gazunga in Payless Shoe Source.  And heel cups.  Not ideal, no, but it does mean if I can't get my toes done tomorrow, I don't have to worry.  I can make my feet cute on Monday, and wear the Payless flats tomorrow.  And just the fact that I'm writing this down scares me, because I didn't used to think cute feet were a thing.  Now I'm adding them to advice I give younger writers.

*  We took Mate's mom out last weekend, as a pre-emptive mother's day move, and she and Mate were so cute sitting together I had to take a picture.  She's really a lovely woman-- Mate is as good to her as he is to me, which makes him an even better Mate.  I'm saying.

*  And speaking of good Mate, I got back today from taking the post office and shopping and trying to write and running around in circles, and there was a box of Shari's berries on the porch.  Happy mother's day to me, from Mate.  I was so stressed, and it was such a sweet gesture, I cried.  We ate them all tonight (because they're usually sent RIGHT when they're ripe-- they go bad sometimes if you wait until the next day) and they were YUMMY.

*  BTW-- I know it's late, but happy Star Wars days, people-- I hope May the Fourth was with you and you survived Revenge of the Sixth.  Zoomboy is such a fan of puns, we heard those about six zillion times.  But that's okay.  Tonight, the guy on @midnight told a joke about seeing the dentist at Tooth-hurty in the afternoon, and Mate laughed pretty much until he went to bed.  I think we can forgive ZB his little obsession.  In fact, I encouraged it-- I saved this from Twitter, just for him, and he was tickled.

* Oh-- and did I mention that fate gave me a chance to be a douchebag?  I mean, in grand style too-- the kind of douchebag we all want to be!  So there I was, last week, sitting with Julianne and waiting for Mate to come pick me up after our road trip back from Oregon.  Now, if you all read that post, you know we were both pretty toasted by the time we got back-- exhausted, edgy, not quite sane-- and then to make things even merrier, there I was when I saw the guys.

You know.

The guys.  From the school I worked at.  Eating at the same place we were on their lunch break.  The guys who made my staff room a dream.  *choke*  The guys who often made me feel like I was incompetent and hysterical, because I didn't agree with them.  The guy who did an impression of my vibrator in the staff room, and yelled at me in the middle of the quad for feminine hygiene disasters.

Those guys.

And a funny thing happened.  I wanted to talk to them.  I wanted to find out if they were okay.  I wanted to tell them that I was okay.  Because as miserable as they made me-- and as misogynistic as that staff room was-- they had still been my colleagues.

But, well, I also wanted to rub their noses in the fact that I didn't have to work there anymore.  One of my favorite poems has always been The Ruin'd Maid, and I wanted to go be the ruined maid.  Yes, it was petty, but, well, I admit to pettiness sometimes.  Sue me.

So I went to talk to them and I found out that one had twins and was cancer free (and I rejoiced-- I had been worried about him) and the other had, against all odds given his behavior towards women in general, gotten married.

I was genuinely happy for them.  But when the guy who'd gotten married talked about moving to another school district, I looked him in the eyes and told him that when he left, he'd be surprised at how very small the staff room really was.

I went back to sit with Julianne for a bit, but as they were leaving, I ran to tell them to make sure to tell the third leg in their little tripod hello.  He hadn't gone out, and I'd missed him most of all.  While we were standing there, an old student came up, ignored them, and said, "Hey, Ms. Lane-- so nice to see you.  I understand that they screwed you over but that you're a big writer now."

I shit you not.

It was glorious.

I grinned.

I said, "Well, uhm, yes."

And she looked at my former colleagues, singing my praises, and said…

"Yeah, we loved her.  She let us watch Sponge Bob."

"SpongeBob?  I did not!"

Ah, good moment over.

Douchebag moment repaid in full.

But it was sweet while it lasted-- I swear.

And I'm glad I know the guys are okay.  I mean, I don't forget what I learned about standing up for myself-- and that I should have--but it's that curse of seeing the whole person, too.  Yeah.  Those guys made me cry a lot.  But they also fought the good fight, and that's admirable, and I respected them for what they did for the kids, if not the women in their own department.  So it was closure, and I"m glad.

And my next blogging day is Mother's Day.  If the fates are kind, I'll have some time then to blog, if only to say "Happy Mother's Day everybody."  I k now that two days after that I'm on a plane for NOLA, and my agenda is a little insane.  I"m blanking out just thinking about it.  Don't say anything, I'm spazzing.

And on that note, I'm going to write for an hour!  Peace out!