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

Friday, December 31, 2010

Should old acquaintance be forgot...

Naw. Not a chance.

Mate did something HUGE last night and cleaned the garage--and now it's cleaner than anywhere else in the house, which is pretty damned cool. He had help--Big T mostly, with some help from Chicken, and I ran errands, taking donated stuff (like crap yarn to the retirement home and clothes to goodwill) to it's intended destination, and I finished up by going to buy 42 lb. of cat litter so Mate could change the boxes in the crap-weasel quarter of the garage and have some to spare, and that's when I picked up one of those cat-scratching things that are supposed to solve all your 'dammit, get-away-from-that' problems!

Uhm, mostly what it did was get my cats stoned.



"Come get your cat."

"What's he doing?"

"Making sweet lurv to this piece of paper on top of the table."


"It's making me uncomfortable."

"Mom! Do you know what you write?"

"Hey--my vampires are having sex in a ROOM!"

The cats are all currently drooling on things they don't normally sleep on, but that seemed especially soft and comfy in the afterglow of last night!

And Squish has made an observation regarding the changing of the seasons. We were driving to pick her sister up from her friend's house, and we stopped at an intersection that we've been through about a thousand times before in this year.



"What HAPPENED to this place?"

"What do you mean?"

"Something bad happened here! What happened?"

"Nothing bad happened here--what are you talking about?"

"What HAPPENED here?"

(Now, remember, I write about the supernatural all the time, so I'm starting to think maybe my kid is that chick from Medium, and wouldn't THAT suck because I've WATCHED that show, and those people do NOT have easy lives!

"Honey, what makes you think that something bad happened here?"

"Mama, all the trees are naked!"

And, sure enough, fall may have been late in arriving this year, but the latest series of storms have stripped the trees, and it's now officially winter. The corner, which is usually shaded and green, was now starkly surrounded by tree skeletons, and something, indeed, had 'happened'. Observant little Squish, ain't she? (She's also been irritating as hell lately... fortunately, she spent some time away from her brother yesterday, and maybe they can stop making us bugnuts for an hour.)

And it's the time for top ten lists this year--I've been surprised to find myself on a few. This one was an honor, these were a very flattering surprise and this review was so gorgeously written, I could only hope the story lives up to it. All in all, very very nice.

Now I know it's the New Year, and I'm supposed to come up with some intensely deep, long-winded thing to say about wrapping up the old year and saying hello to good things to come--but I can't. Too much of my life is behind the curtain right now, too much of it is in flux.

I can tell you this: I am content. If the year has taught me very little else, it is that sometimes bad crap is very random but the good shit? That has to be earned. My husband, my children, my writing--I have worked very hard to see that those relationships are solid, that those things in my life will pay off. I am happy with all of them, and I am proud of all of them, and I will not take for granted that they will continue to be okay through the new year--you don't slack off on the shit that's important, New Year or no. I chose the picture above because that story is so rife with hope for the future--but the future for the boys in the picture required hard work, and heartbreak, and it's an important reminder that I try to write what's real, even if I'm dealing with shapechanging bears and magic cottages. May you have a good year full of hard work and just rewards.

Happy New Year to all of you--we will be watching old movies until mom falls asleep over her knitting. May you all spend your New Year's Eve in the way that makes you happiest as well:-)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Not too much to report

It is very possibly the perfect balance of Christmas vacation--there's not really TOO much to do, so everyone is enjoying the peace. Chicken stayed at a friends last night, and Big T got to watch an 'art movie. (The Serious Man-- uhm, it was an incredibly darkly comic bit, about a man with the most incredibly shitacular life, who kept asking his rabbis what he should do. To a one, they all said, "These bad things happening to you are probably your fault" and NOBODY told him to stand up for himself. It was funny, and the ending made you want to slap someone, hard and with prejudice. Only recommended if you're good at sitting on your hands and waiting for tornadoes.) Mom got to watch a lot of episodes of a show that only she likes (Bluebloods) and, of course, when I was done with all ten episodes, Mate was right there with me, going, "Donny Wahlberg IS going to tell his wife about hot club babe hitting on him, isn't he?" (The answer? Yes. And then the hot club babe asked him, "What does your wife got that I ain't got?" and Wahlberg said, "Me!" and I thought, "Yanno... we totally underestimate the appeal of middle aged balding men with potato shaped heads... he's looking sexier by the nanosecond.")

And, of course, the diet has gone to shit. I was doing good too! I need everyone to clear out of the house so I can clean it regularly and I don't think about eating. As recent weeks have proven, I'm pretty good at forgetting to shove every damned thing in my mouth if there is A. No crap in the house, and B. No one to tell me that food is good and just sitting at my computer is bad. That's when I'm REALLY good about not eating crap. (Hell, that's when I'm good about forgetting to eat, period.) Either way, I notice my consumption goes down when I've had enough sleep to make an informed decision. (Go figure!) I know that for certain I'll miss THAT if my situation changes!

Anyway-- if you're a member of the m/m forum,- you can go here and vote for moi- it's a list of the best m/m novels of the year, and a couple of my titles are on it. I know it's not an official thing but I have to say, I'm sort of honored. I was also surprised and honored to find myself on this list, although I have to roll my eyes slightly at the category. Why is it that m/m romance is automatically in the 'erotic' category? It's sort of irritating, because the sex scenes in Truth in the Dark are fairly restrained for het--you can find a Harlequin Temptation Blaze in a grocery store or a Wal-Mart with more brazen sexuality than Naef or Aerie-Smith, but you make it two pepper shakers instead of one of each? Suddenly, you're Lora Leigh without all the rather blunt terminology for the female anatomy. (Well, no cooters in sight, no cooters to have to describe, explain, and make function, right?) But that's okay, because another list you can find in is this one, this one, or this one, and again, the honor is there.

Today is boys day/girls day. The boys are going to go get haircuts--Mate's beard has grown in, and I know he's thinking of shaving it for the New Year, but he's afraid of what the kids will do. When Chicken was five (almost what Squish is now) he shaved his beard completely off. Chicken rounded the corner, looked up into daddy's beloved face, saw that the beard (then it was just a goatee, too) was gone, and hauled ass in the other direction, screaming and crying hysterically.

Chicken has forgotten the incident. Mate is scarred for life. He wants the beard gone--even just so he can remember the shape of his face without it (he's got the cutest little cleft in his chin--it's really pronounced, looks like a baby's ass. I'm a fan, and I do sort of miss it, yanno?) but he doesn't want to make Squish cry. I think, honestly, the Squish is made of more doughty stuff than Chicken was at this age. Squish is sort of unshakable, and Chicken was, for quite some time, a walking open nerve. I think Squish will be all right. I think Zoomboy will be oblivious to what the big deal was about, until suddenly he'll stop the entire world to say, "Wait! We saw Tangled BEFORE Dad shaved his beard, and we'll see some other movie AFTER he shaved his beard!" or, even better, "Shaved and shaved! Multiple meanings! You can shave ice, and you can shave a beard! Like Dad!" (He probably won't say that, because it's inaccurate, and he's really good with that whole 'multiple meanings' concept--but you guys get the picture.) Either way, I think the little people will be fine, the big people will be scarred for life, and I'll get to fondle that little baby's bottom of a chin cleft...

And then he'll grow it all back. *sigh*

I also want Big T's hair out of his eyes, and Zoomboy? Well, Zoomboy is almost frighteningly beautiful for a little boy--I want his hair cut so the world can see that.

So the boys are getting their hair cut, and the girls are going to the yarn store and to buy a Christmas present for Squish's friend--because so far, she's been planning to give the little girl a pipe-cleaner wrapped in a circle, and calling it a bracelet. Charming? Yes. But the little girl is eight years old, and I think we can do better.

Oh-- and the Christmas picture? We call that 'our little Christmas miracle'. We were in line to get the short people a picture. The big kids were going Christmas shopping with the short people in tow afterwards, and Big T took off to find something. He caught back up with us when we were in line and said, "Hey--Chicken and I are going to be in the picture too?" It hadn't been the plan, but there he was in the hat and the scarf and I look at Chicken in maniacal glee and Chicken looks back in horror and screams, "NO!" at the exact same time I scream "YES!" and guess who won?

Chicken even smiled.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Human Vegetation Day

Was officially yesterday.

It's sort of a tradition with us. The day after Christmas is Human Vegetation Day-- and I sort of loves it. The photo above, while not a true depiction of Human Vegetation Day (because once we clean the house this morning all evidence will have been removed, and we like to keep it that way) is more of a symbolic gesture to the whole thing (that, and Mate is having a hell of a time importing Christmas photos from his iPhone.)

Yesterday, we did nothing.

Well, I read. I got (*squeeeee*) a wholly unexpected gift. I was not asking for gifts this year, I had no list of things I wanted, no secret longings--my big priority was getting the kids stuff that they REALLY wanted, and doing it within budget. (Well, sort of on that last part, but since Mate and I worked together a lot on it, I think we did okay.) If I could only give my kids a good Christmas, after all the other crap going on, then THAT would be my Christmas gift.

Mate, uhm, gave me a blouse he saw me admiring when we were shopping for Chicken (it's very pretty and very feminine, and I have no idea where I'll wear it. I don't care. I loves it.) and he gave me a Kindle.

Yup. An e-reader. I'm about delirious with electronic joy. Seriously-- the first thing I did was fill it with all of the books that were on my computer but that I didn't want to read because, well, sitting at my computer and reading them felt too much like work, and loading them onto my phone to read was killing my eyes, and I READ ONE! But even before that, I downloaded a friend's book (one she wrote) that I'd been promising to order, but I hadn't yet, because I wanted it in a form I could take with me and re-read (because she's really good) and I didn't want to make any purchases before we'd bought for the kids and I READ THAT! (Trusted Bond by Mary Calmes-- she's very good;-) And then I bought my friend Kat's book. And then I downloaded as many free classics as I could find.

And I loves it. I loves it in a way I didn't think I could love any electronic device besides my laptop... it's... it's like... TRUE love. Like "every time is like the first time" love. LIke... just LOOKING at it gives me the little post-coital shivers of ecstasy kind of love. THAT kind of love. Did I mention it sits nicely on my lap while I'm knitting, so I can knit and read easily without worrying about the book falling off my lap? *nods head* That could have something to do with it, oh yes it could.

Anyway-- let's just say this handy little device made human vegetation day that much sweeter. I was the happiest of eggplant, the most contented of broccoli, and the cats curled up at my feet. (Cat. The cat curled up at my feet. We don't know why she does that, because it's actually really annoying. Besides stepping on her accidentally, it also means that every now and then she decides our wiggling pink toes are fair game. That'll fuck up your knitting right fast, let me tell you!)

And Christmas? Let's just say the children were content. They got the toys they asked for, (mostly-- there are few corporate CEO's as greedy as small children at Christmastime) and forgot about the ones they didn't get. The older kids were happy (eventually... Big T does this thing where he sleeps for about an hour on Christmas Eve, and then, by the time he opens his gifts, he would LITERALLY have to get the complete electronic and movie department of the nearest Best Buy to not be a tearful mess from sheer sleeplessness and stress. Once he took a nap and realized that his i-Pod was actually an orgasmically awesome Christmas gift, he forgave Santa for not bringing the movie he really wanted. Then, he started to count his gift money from his birthday and Christmas, and realized he could AFFORD the movie he really wanted, whereas, he could not have afforded the iPod touch, and, let's just say, he had a merry Christmas.)

And I got to see family (both sets) and that's both exhausting and wonderful. Let's just say that after everyone fell fast asleep on the night of the 25th, Human Vegetation Day was inevitable.

Which is why we treasure it:-)

And now, I'm going to run away and clean house--because Human Vegetation Day is over, and it's time to get back to the happy business of being animal matter once again! (This includes crocheting two more coat hangars together with kitchen cotten, as a gift that I'll be giving in a couple of hours. If anyone has ever tried this, it sucks huge quantities of industrial strength gravel, but it's the only thing my MIL wanted, and, well, she has sublime moments of awesome, so she's worth it.)

Friday, December 24, 2010


Chris from gave me this term-- it stands for generic winter festival gifts with food (or something close) and she pronounces it gwif-gwif. I like the term (even though she snagged it from someone else, she's the one who gave it to me, so, well, that's what I'm remembering.

Anyway--Happy gwif-gwif.

This week I have been the recipient of many, many gifts--people I adore, whose friendship has come to mean the world to me, have sent me gifts--everything from rumballs, to yarn, to nuts, to gift cards, to knitting doo-dads, to music--it has arrived on my doorstep and I have been amazed. I am not a gracious 'receiver' when I have not given in return. I'm not. I'm too full of that deeply ingrained guilt of gift-giving obligation, but the last few months have been... difficult. Difficult and painful, and I have discovered who my friends are and where my priorities belong, and so I am going to bow to karma. I am going to simply say thank you, and bow deeply, and accept that people love me, and they know my heart and they know I love them back. And this gwf-gwf, I am going to be truly, amazingly, gloriously thankful. My children ARE nestled all snug in their beds. My husband DOES love me through thick and through thin. And my friends ARE here in my heart, and I mean as much to them as they do to me.

OUr toilet sprung a leak tonight, and the mortgage isn't getting any smaller, and we're going to be living on leftovers and top ramen for the next week, but all that is incidental in the grand scheme of things. It's something I've always known, something I've always written about, and tonight, something I'm feeling to the depths of my toenails. (Of course, this might change if the toilet falls through the rotted floor, but even then, you can bet the subsequent blog wouldn't be boring, right?)

From the depths of my heart, a hopeful Christmas and a brave New Year...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shhhh... we're all sleeping...

Actually, gonna be baking some more, but not yet. Chicken baked yesterday, and, true to form, we ate most of the cookies. We're gonna need some more cookies to give away on Saturday--just no two ways about it.

I was doing really well with the Christmas excesses until yesterday, when I made up for it all with, well, Chicken's snickerdoodles. Uhm... I think I'll just go with absolute denial today. That and some food shopping.

And really, that's all I've got. The whole world has gone deliciously calm. I sat down and knit and watched a movie last night...not exciting, I know, but my family watched it with me, and I was, well, happy. It was all Merry AND Bright, and I liked it.

Anyway, I'm sure it won't last, and I'll have some more to chat about--I'm currently working on Marcus and Phillip, and liking them. Worried about how it will sell because it incorporates so very much backstory, but mostly, just, liking them. They're sort of raw, and Phillip is so deliciously submissive in bed, when he's such an asshole out of it... me likey. But... poor Marcus. You'll love him, I hope.

And I will leave you (yes--this post IS that short!) with the following snippet of holiday weirdness:

Squish (fondling a square, squishy package): Zoomboy! Did you get me a pillow pet?

Zoomboy: How did you guess!!

Squish: It's the same thing we got you!!!

And then there was:

Me: Zoomboy, why aren't you decorating the gingerbread house? For the last week, that's all you talked about was making the gingerbread house, shouldn't you be helping your brother with it?

Zoomboy: My arms were tired.

Me: Uhm...

Zoomboy: And I like this show.

Me: Uhm...

Zoomboy: I'll have some cookies when they're done.

Me: Okay then!

And there was also:

Zoomboy: Is today the twenty-second?

Me: Yep.

Zoomboy: Then it's the second day of winter!

Me: Yep!

Zoomboy: And tomorrow will be the twenty-third!

Me: Yep!

Zoomboy: That's good. Twenty-three is a good number.

Me: Uhm...okay. (Apparently the twenty-fourth and the twenty-fifth are not as good as the twenty-third. Given that it's December, I'm a little nonplused.)

And, well, there is cuteness. And, right now? Supernatural reruns for me... and sleeping.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Not Dead, just Christmasing!

Okay--it's not a word. It should be. "Christmasing" should encompass everything from baking to visiting people you usually call and calling people you usually e-mail, and shopping and wrapping and getting all dewey-eyed with your spouse, and having the folks take the kids so you can shop AND wrap AND get all dewey-eyed AND plan all at the same time.

Cause that's what I've been doing. I've been Christmassing. (One 's' or two? If you're going to make up a word, that's a consideration, isn't it? I guess if we're talking about inevitable weight gain, we'll make it ChristMASSing from now on, right?)

Anyway, my parents took the kids for 24 hours. Mate and I went shopping, came home and wrapped, went shopping, came home and wrapped, and then cleaned up and looked innocent when the kids arrived. I thought we'd pulled it off pretty well, until we were watching television last night. There we were, second taped episode of Leverage, and there's *gasp* Goran Visjnic, who, bad guy or not is one of those people I'll drool over for free. And then, in Chicken's words, "You fell asleep like someone hit you on the head with a hammer."

*sigh* I begged them not to erase the episode. I REALLY like Goran Visjnic.

Anyway, good news? We've got most of our shopping done. Bad news? We're going to the mall today. Early. First of all, the little kids have to see Santa. It's tradition. (A nerve-wracking, exhausting tradition I wish I'd never started, but hell, we've got the two year picture of Zoomboy screaming on Santa's lap like it's an alien abduction, who's to argue with great moments in history?) Then there's the "give them money and hope they don't fuck up" tradition. This year, girls are buying for boys and boys are buying for girls. So, Zoomboy and Big T are going to buy for their sisters and me, and their sisters will buy for the boys and their dad. If you think it's not nerve wracking to give a teenager their younger sibling, a fistful of dollars, and send them into a crowd with a "Don't let go if that hand, and don't get mugged!" well, you've never watched the news.

And of course, we have to mail the Christmas cards. (This year, it's before Christmas. We're on a ROLL this year!) Mate was impressed--between me, Chicken, T and Zoomboy, we had those babies bagged, tagged, labeled in no time at all. And Squish even helped with the stamps! (Note to self--check stamps while Zoomboy is putting the envelopes in the slots. Zoomboy REALLY wants to send those cards--he was SO excited about it last night!)

And some Christmas knitting. I've got 1/2 a fingerless mitt to go, and I think I'm going to try for another pair before the big day itself (all the better to keep a pair for myself, cause I keep loosing mine!) and I'll be good to go! (I'm using a very simple pattern I sort of unvented (as EZ would say) but I like it. Sometimes simple knitting really is the best!

And as for writing? Okay... I'm gonna need sanctuary folks... Littlewitch is after me with a torch, a pitchfork, and a cattle prod (I think she shot a pointed tail out the top of her ass, all the better to hold the goddamned cattle prod!) because the Marcus/Phillip thing is longer than I thought it would be, and she wants me to get back to Living Promises, so I can finish that and start my one-day-a-week work on Quickening. So, uhm, if I come knocking on your door looking a little pale and carrying my laptop under my arm, could you maybe hide me in your garage for a week so I can finish Marcus and Phillip while she goes into Deacon withdrawals with weapons and an attitude? She's already a little cranky, dammit, and it's hard to type while you're running away!

And that's about it, folks. Wish us luck--because even if we survive the mall mauling, we'll have to come home and wrap, and trust me, with the damned cat running around, thinking everything is a big Steve playground, that's not as easy as it sounds either. *fume* Fucking cat. After yesterday's frantic wrapping, and a lot of beating the cat away with the much abused wrapping tubes, I was having visions of a damned fine fur hat. (Apparently, my big Christmas present to the cat is that she gets to live!)

Anyway--*whew* May your Christmassing be bright. And quick. And followed by good television and some hot chocolate and a good foot massage, eh?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Other People's Efforts.

Okay, a couple of long posts, and, well, I'm gonna coast-- but in a good way.

First thing-- the cover. Yeah-- let's talk about that.

This is the cover of an anthology written for fellow writer, Patric Michael. Patric had cancer, and although he seems to be in recovery, for a while there, it was looking pretty goddamned dire, and, well, he's a pretty special person. Everyone who knows him--and many of us are online friends and not 'IRL' friends-- wrote him something. I sent Patric my story, written just for him and his situation, and he told me it was awesome--and that I should submit it, and so I did, but I wasn't the only one. Voila, this anthology was born. It is the product of two publishing houses--MLR and Dreamspinner, which is why Kris Jacen (the editor in chief of MLR) is the name on the cover, but I'm pretty sure it's a DSP production. (I could be wrong--I need to get a better look at the cover, but I know that Elizabeth, eic of DSP did a lot of work on this one too. Bless them both--they're both busy women and I worship at their feet.)

Anyway, I've been reading my galley copy, and I have to say, it is AMAZING. The collection of talent, of warmth, of bittersweet kindness--it will rip you up and lift you up, both at the same time, no two ways about it. And, interspersed with the stories, essays, and poems of his friends are Patric's own essays about his rather epic battle with the big C (and some rather naughty bits about sex that I never would have thought to ask. Very, erm, educational.) Like I said, it's sort of frickin' amazing--and damned laden with serendipity if you ask me.

An example of this? The title. It's called "Wishing on a Blue Star" because of a dream Patric had about his twin brother--who died in the womb with Patric. I didn't know this story, and stars figure rather big in my own story, called "Dreams of a Terrible Brightness". It felt like the story itself was meant to be, even if Patric's end (or at least the one we all dreaded) is not to be. And if you look at that cover?

Yeah... well, we actually all own the rights to our stories--they're not exclusive to the anthology, so if you'd like to read "Dreams of Terrible Brightness" and know why that cover sort of sent chills down my spine, all you need to do is take a look at the story, which is on my website. Now, it's on in its submitted form--which basically means that all my dumbass typos are intact. I swear, if you buy the anthology, it's better edited than that-- Kris and Elizabeth both know what they're doing, and they don't let you get away with that shit nohow.

So, I present to you, Dreams of Terrible Brightness, now at, under Amy's Writings, in place of The Jack & Teague stories. And if you ever want a good cry and a little bit of inspiration? Buy the anthology when it comes out (January 24th, I think)--the collection of talent and genuine kindness present in that little volume is truly spectacular.

Oh-- and this was a happy! I'd sort of thought people forgot about that little story-- it was good to see it reviewed, and reviewed well!

And for those of you who think I've given up knitting altogether?

Totally not true. Yeah, I'm sticking with hats and socks and some scarves--little stuff, mostly, but I knit a little every day. Not as much as the people responsible for the next link, though. Trust me.
This is Very Cool.

You will like it. Click it now and marvel at human imagination and ingenuity.

And I found two new Christmas favorites that I thought I'd share:

And these have been getting me in the spirit that I thought was beyond me this year. And, of course, when they fail, there's always Bruce:-)

May your hearts be in it. I know mine's had some stutters and starts, some pity parties and some internal rages against the fates--but when it all comes down to it, there's no other place for my heart to be. Zoomboy has been pulling out his paper projects for the last three days. Tonight, I pulled on my good mommy pants and put them up on the wall, and made a bag full of candy bags and helped Chicken bake and, in general?

My heart is now officially in it.

Let's hold hands and brave the yuletide, my friends. It's usually a hell of a ride.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Big T

OKay. Let's go back a while.

The last time Mate and I were organized--TRULY organized--was on December 10th, 1992.

We sat down on the couch and without computer or fanfare, we filled out and addressed two sets of cards, by hand. One was our Christmas card, and the other was a birth announcement. We knew the sex of the baby but not the weight, we had a name all picked out, but the only thing we knew about the birth date was that he was due in December, and if we went much past the eleventh, I was gonna fuckin' kill somethin'. The plan (faithfully executed) was for Mate to come home and fill out those last details after the Grand Event.

Big T was born at 1:10 a.m., December 12th, 1992.

He did not breathe when he was born.

Now I've probably said this before--the part about the not breathing--but I cannot communicate fully, eighteen years later, the enormity of that fact at the time. There was the baby, and he was the shade of a ripe eggplant, and he wasn't making a sound or making a twitch or a gurgle or a coo. He just was--and for a moment, the fear that he was NOT was about the worst, most terrifying silence in our heads.

And then there was some baby massage and the nurse saying "Breathe, baby, breathe!" and Mate and I saying, "Uhm, yeah, baby, FUCKING BREATHE YOU LITTLE SHIT!" and then there was...

Big T.

Now in the picture above, he is shown holding his much younger sister, but I think it's appropriate to show him with her, because of all the things noted of Big T--his good humor, his persistence, his unflagging willingness to do EVERYTHING the way it should be done, in spite of the Communication Handicap (spawned, we're fairly convinced, by those first purple minutes outside of the womb, and all the minutes before inside of it)-- the thing that most all of us marvel at, is his gentleness.

You can see it in that picture there, can't you?

I have a crystal clear memory of this summer, when I'd brought poor ol' Dennis Quaid home after that final trip to the vet's. T was the one who took the cat's body out of the box and laid it in the ground, and instead of holding him like "dead kitty", he held him like "gently sleeping kitty"--it was the final straw for me, the final thing that allowed me to mourn my faithful friend, and it was all in the way my son saw him.

But, of course, he's always had a sense of humor.

He's always TRIED to have a sense of humor, and sometimes, that's hard. The jokes his little brother have been coming home with every week from school were beyond him when he was age appropriate. Most humor is word play, and when your whole brain is hardwired for words to be meaningless and emotions to be fragile, that makes humor a tough goddamned concept. I have a clear memory of him wanting to make a "comedy tape"--and then making me listen to it.

I did.

Most of it was him, reading jokes from a fifth grade joke book, into the microphone Then, halfway through, he started cracking up, and I realized what had happened.

He actually got the joke.

Much of his life, he's been struggling to get the joke--and just the fact that he keeps trying, keeps working on processing the world around him in a positive way--God, that inspires me.

But sometimes--the best times--it's not a struggle at all. Most of the funniest things he's done or said, he did or said while not trying. That's not to mean he was unintentionally funny--not that way, not the mean way. But when he was coming in with a load of laundry the other day, Steve the cat tried to get out, and T just scooped her up into his laundry basket and came in carrying her, looking puzzled and surprised.

I laughed all morning.

Big T has been on the honor roll for every semester he's been in high school. He did this on a double block system, which is often difficult for students in special education to deal with, and he did this without once having me intervene on his behalf to argue for his rights or his disability. He would have died of mortification had I ever once tried.

One of the upshots of this attitude is that in eight grade, when he was accidentally put in regular PE instead of Adaptive PE, we talked it over, and he decided to stay there, and be challenged, and maybe take the C from regular instead of the A from Adaptive-- and we were so proud of that!

He earned his black belt in karate--it took him twice as long as the other kids, but dammit... he just kept going. My God--tenacity, perseverance? He's got it. Sometimes, that's not such a fun thing. The one-hundredth time he's asking for me to clarify a literary concept like satire, well, I curse tenacity and perseverance. Trying to explain that he's wrong about something but we're not angry about it? Once again--tenacity and perseverance? Damn it to purgatory, every last ounce.

But that's from my end--from his end, he's making that shit work for him.

The proof is in the tall, svelte young man you see before you.

T used to be a champion eater. Once, when I was pregnant with Zoomboy, I got home from work and fell asleep in my chair. I struggled awake to make myself cook dinner, and found Big T, sitting down with a plate of food. You know those frozen chicken patties? There were four sandwiches on his plate, each one had three pieces of bread and two patties, with two slices of kraft cheese. The kid looked up at me and said, "I'm just eating a little snack."

A little snack my ass--my big fat squishy white ass, actually. But not his. Not his anymore.

It's taken him a couple of years of working hard on his diet and of taking the toughest PE classes, but look at him.

A kid without any of the eating problems I managed to graduate high school with. All those years of teaching good choices and telling him why it was a good thing to make those choices (even if I couldn't) and he's proof that it works.

Have I mentioned I'm proud of him? Have I mentioned I love him?

On that day, eighteen years and two days ago, when he was breathing and pinkening up nicely, and screaming with some serious intent into the world, I looked at him and said, "Oh God. It's going to be a quick eighteen years."

Truer words were never spoken.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holly Ridge

On Tuesday, I shall do a post for Big T, because he is eighteen today, and, well... I'm overwhelmed, and don't have my thoughts in order, so I'm going to do something a little less maudlin (cause you know where that's going) and a little less sappy, and I"m going to entertain you with...

Going looking for a Christmas tree.

Now T's idea of what he wanted to do for today was very modest. Yesterday, we cleaned the house within an inch of its life and this morning, we left to go up to Forresthill (you know, Green's Hill country) to go find a Christmas tree.

We had the perfect place in mind. It's in the Tahoe National Forrest and is called Snowy Ridge Christmas Tree Farm. You go, you cut your tree down, you hike all over creation-- it's fun!

Well, as we were driving up there (it takes about 45 minutes from my folks' house) we couldn't help but notice that the snow was a little thicker than we were used to.

Usually, it's about a foot of slush, this time in December. In January or February, it can become impassible, but not before Christmas. This year, it was apparently deep enough to close down the farm!

We arrived, looked at the closed sign on the gate, and discussed the trees, peeping out of the big blanket of snow in the face of the sun like a bunch of herbivorous Whack-a-moles, and my mom said, "Hey-- I know I saw some signs for some smaller places as we came up. Let's go try one of those."

Which is how we ended up at Holly Ridge.

Holly Ridge was precipitated by a big, hand-Sharpied sign in the pine foliage that said, 8ft and under, $30, and then other, similar signs pointing us down a one-lane private road. Then, a couple of other big pieces of poster paper that pretty much said the following:

4 Wheel Drive Only.

Owner appears every hour (or so) to ferry you down the driveway. (And back.)

I am not kidding about the (and back) part on the sign.

Well, we took one look at it, and thought, "Uhm, the family crapmobile is NOT up to this road!" and my parents said, "Our big diesel thing is NOT up to this road!" and then the owner appeared.

Meet Burke. Burke is an incredibly sweet man, who peers through life with a wonderful, brandy-fumed equanimity, and the thickest glasses I have ever seen. Burke and his wife own Holly Ridge, they took it over about seven years ago, learned the ins and outs of the business, and is right spiffy piloting a 4x4 truck down a road with the consistency of jello in a blender.

*shudder* I got the front seat view, both ways. (No seat belt.) My family--mom, dad, their dog, Max, my husband, three of the four kids (Chicken chose to sleep in the back of the crapmobile--we picked her up from a slumber party to go get the tree) were in the back. Yup, there they were... getting jounced up and down like popcorn in a hot iron skillet. We got to our destination--a mile of the sloppiest dirt road I have *ever* seen, and my parents popped out, smiling, the kids jumped out going "Whee!" and my mom asked, "Did we have to pay extra for the E-ticket ride?"

I was not so cheerful. I actually SAW the gushy hills and gulleys that the truck had to pull through, and I actually FELT the damned thing fishtailing all over the place, and I actually KNEW that he was speeding up in order to get through some transportational horror that you couldn't take a horse through, and you SHOULDN'T take a motor vehicle through. My eyes were big, and my face was a little pale, and I thought, "We have to go back on that road!"

Not right away though. First we hunted down a Christmas tree (we let Big T pick--it's a little short, but still a very pretty tree!) and then we sat at the bonfire, made some powdered cider and some cocoa, and roasted some marshmallows. Then Burke took another shot of brandy, threw my folks and my oldest son in the back of the truck with the trees, and disappeared for half-an-hour.

When he got back, he had some more intrepid customers (does EVERYONE ON THE PLANET have four wheel drive?) and he needed to deal (pleasantly and sweetly--always) with them. Some of them were friends from work, everybody was family, and even though my small people were going compulsively ape-shit with the boredom of waiting without anything shiny to occupy them, I could not help but admire his unfailing generosity. No lie--the guy even had treats for the folks who brought their dogs. (He seemed a little hurt that Max eschewed his dog treat, but apparently Max is that rarity among golden labs--the dog that doesn't like treats and is content with his aesthetically healthy mix of kibble and canned.)

This guy seemed to be everyone's friend, and he looked forward to Christmas tree season because people came from all over the state to get their trees from this place and visit him (and apparently his wife) like long lost family. Damn--seriously--what a cool job!

Anyway, he got some coffee, another shot of brandy (and for those of you freaking out over the guy driving, all I can tell you is that if I had to drive that road eight, ten, twelve times a day, I'd need a snort of brandy too--the cajones you need to look a red-mud-Jello-hill in the eye and gas the goddamned truck just do not always come naturally, you know?) Anyway, away we jounced. On the ride home with Mate, he said the most surreal thing of the entire ride was that sometimes, right before it got REALLY hairy, he could swear he heard someone calling, "Hang on!"

"Oh yeah," I told Mate. "That was him. He did it about three times each way. You don't want to know what the road looked like before he did that."

Mate shuddered. Then I told him that we were lucky we escaped Deborah's curve--apparently, Burke's wife grew up in North Dakota, but even she needed to be dug out once in a while. My mind boggles. Just simply boggles. But as Burke pulled away (after my mom paid him the right amount of money because he didn't charge them enough, and he did a very charming "exact change" dance in the driveway) I thought that this guy wouldn't be doing anything else with his time.

Good--that much general niceness should be rewarded by a gently happy life.

We stopped at "The Ore Cart" on the way home for hamburgers. Uhm...

Dayum. For those of you who don't know, Forresthill, California is "gold country"--one of the places that was built up as scads of idiots unhappy with their 1849 dayjobs came herding into country with dangers they were TOTALLY unprepared for in order to maybe make a little bit of gold dust with backbreaking labor--you know, sort of like 19th century day-trading with more chance of death and a much slimmer chance at hygiene.

Anyway, "The Ore Cart" is so named, because the barbecue is made out of AN HONEST TO CHRIST ORE CART from 1852. No shit nor shinola. There was a little "History" of the building on the menu (a very basic menu--most of us ordered the hamburger the size of our heads, the little kids got grilled cheese, and Chicken got pastrami. Wise Chicken--the hamburger may have been the size of my head, but it was twice as big as my stomach. Even though T ate a quarter of it, half of it was still too much!) Part of the history told us that the building--triple layered brick with a layer of sod on the roof-- was the only structure to survive the gold rush, after the entire town burnt down THREE TIMES. The booth backs and seats used to be the shelves--which were made so well, they didn't need a nail. And there were three tunnels to the building.

See, it used to be a stop on the Wells Fargo route, and the guy who ran it was very aware of the total lawlessness of the area. One of the tunnels led from his house to the the building, to stay safe from thieves. One of the tunnels ran from the front of the building to the mine belonging to the guy who built it. And one of the tunnels ran from the front of the building to the brothel across the street. *smirk* No shit, no shinola. I LOVE stories like this!

Anyway--at last, at last, we got home with our tree, everyone took a food-coma, and then we woke up and decorated. Tomorrow, I'll show you some pictures of that, although, given Steve's proclivities, it's bound to all look JUST LIKE THIS

And now? Off to write some more Marcus/Phillip fic... but I gotta tell you, it really is shaping up to novella length!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Stuff in the Floating Pool Cleaning Net

Okay, first things first.

Anybody remember those Sunday morning paper activities, where you had to look at two different pictures and find the seven things different? Well, I'm not gonna make you do that, but it's sort of what I had to do when I helped pick the cover we went with.

The basic image was the same (in this case, Talker coming completely unglued), but the background details, the ones that foreshadowed plot points, were different. Also, since this is the FINISHED picture (everybody give a hearty thanks to Reese Dante, the artist, who not only did an awesome, kick-ass job, but who read my last post and sent me a picture so I didn't have to feel like a total stupidhead) you'll see that the tattoo details are more finished, especially on his arm and wrist, and that he's wearing the half-glove. The half-glove is important, trust me--and not the easiest thing to do, (apparently airbrushing clothes is a real bitch-kitty of a job--yikes!) so everyone give it up to Reese for being buckets of awesome! (If nothing else, seeing the mock-up and the final together should give you an idea of how much work goes into a 'simple' photo cover, right?)

Anyway--Woot! It's purty and I likes it!

Which is good, because I spent the last two days in editing hell. Oi!

Seriously-- two stories on my plate at the same time. First there was Yearning, the Jack & Teague adventure that Torquere is putting out, and my realization that yes, I did write that like, two, three years ago, and omg--I've gotten better since then. My editing, my ability to keep focused on one point of view--all of it! It was nice to see I'd gotten better, but it was sort of embarrassing too. I wanted to call my editor on the phone and say, "Honest to Christ, I'm better than that now!" But he seemed to like the story anyway, so, well, maybe some editing will fix the flaws.

Then there was Talker's Redemption, and can I just say, if poor Talker can survive that story, he can probably survive anything life throws at him? Ouch. I don't know what twisted, angry, perverse little monster in my heart makes me do that shit to perfectly nice characters, but I think he's been fed on good beef and wormwood, because that fucker is STRONG and EVIL.

Anyway, beyond that, I've finished a VERY SHORT (3K) Little Goddess short for a promotional thing I'm doing on Goodreads will release it on Dec. 24th, and I'll give you a link then. It's not too long, and it's for the m/m forum and was written to a prompt (in this case a picture) but I managed to frame the main story with some Green and pregnant Cory, and I think LG fans will be pleased. (I just hope the m/m folks are... they get really weird about girl cooties... I mean... rabid weird. But I asked the lady who put out the prompt if it was okay if I set the story in the LG world. She said yes--I hope she likes her little ficlet:-)

And I have one more Christmas fiction promise to keep. You may remember, a couple of months ago I ran a contest, where I asked you guys to pick a couple you wanted me to write about? I don't remember WHO the winner was, (so, uhm, e-mail me if you see this, darling, otherwise I'll go back into the archives and find the post) but I remember that the couple was Marcus and Phillip, and I think their story is going to be a novella that I'll submit, because I've got too much good stuff going into it not to. But that doesn't mean I won't print it out and sign it and send it to the brilliant reader whom I adore but whose name escapes me, when I'm done!

And other than that? Squish went to day care for a day and the world rejoiced! (Or at least *I* rejoiced--I wouldn't have been able to get all that editing done otherwise!) Squish also rejoiced. It's hard being lonely and bored, and she wasn't, and I felt less like a deadbeat mom. And today is the FINAL, CANYAGIMMEHALLELUJIAAMEN last vestige of soccer season. It's Zoomboy's soccer banquet, and he's going to go roller skating and I'm bringing Chicken and Squish to go skating too. And then Squish has a post-season slumber party, and then, well, if we had any alcohol in the house whatsoever, I'd break out the mojitos and toast to next season--a reassuring seven months away.

(oh yes-- Kerre-- if you're out there! THANK YOU for the lovely art cards--I was so very pleased! What a lovely gift!--Amy!)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Okay-- first of all, this ISN'T the photo for Talker's Redemptionthat they eventually elected to use. There's a cute little trick that people use to download the photo from the website and then get it onto a blog--I don't know what it is, but I'm jealous. Anyway, this was one of the rejected photos, but for some reason, it was downloaded, and, well, I LIKED the rat. I didn't think anyone else would like it, but I liked it. Anyway, if you follow the link, you can see the blurb and the actual picture and everything... get ready to suffer. This one's not for the faint of heart! (It's also not out for another month, so I'm not getting too ramped up about it. The prayer will come:-)

In the meantime, I'm gonna be a little bit psyched. Granted, no blog reviews yet, but the buzz on both Hammer & Air and Christmas with Danny Fit seems to be... well, flattering. People seem to get that Hammer & Air is about the one big word, (Nope--not sex, not porn--the real one. The one that's important.) And the response to Danny Fit... I'm so pleased. People love my sweetheart couple in a way that really stuns me. They get Kit's hidden strength, Jesse's terrible vulnerability, and the way two damaged souls can really complete each other. That, and they all want to beat Kit's mother to death with a shoe--and I'm like, "Well, that's an appropriate response! I have done my job!"

(Hey-- just saw Sean Bean in an HBO movie coming down the pike called "Game of Thrones". Uhm, one word. Me-OW!)

And good news in the sanity department. I've found some affordable pre-school/day-care for Squish on a temporary basis. It's only two days a week, but I think it will make us both happier people, and I can get some work done without feeling guilty about letting the poor muffin veg by herself in the house. I'm happy--it starts tomorrow, twice a week for as long as I need it, and, well, yay. It's also next door--let's hear it for the zero in carbon emissions, yes?

Anyway, my friend Wendy came by today-- huzzah! Seriously-- haven't seen her, but she's on the odds with her boyfriend, and that usually means more face time--it was good to see her, and that's the truth. One of the funny things, though, was that she was watching Squish while I went and got the two kids who need rides home. While she was here, she answered a piteous mewling at our door, and discovered none other than... Steve, the rambunctious girl kitty, who had managed to escape as we were letting the dog out for her two-thousandth pee. Steve, suitably chastened, ran into Chicken's room to fitfully lick the mud away. Score? Wicked evil mom & Dad, who let kitty out only when it's pissing rain? Three. Overly curious cat who wants to go outside? Zero!

And I'm nodding off... (Well, I get up at five a.m.-- what can I say?) Anyway, I'll chat with you later!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Ding dong, the season's dead...

Soccer season, that is!

Yup, folks, there you see the triumphant Wild Things, who won three of their last five games, even though they were one or two men down for most of their last, four game tourney. (You may notice Chicken is the least mud-spattered of them all. "It was easy, mom-- all the muddy girls said, "Do you want a hug?" and I said, "Sure!" The hug was a lot less muddy than being thrown in the mud!") The girls played with joy and verve and enthusiasm-- it was fun to watch. Right up until the other team called it quits--they were on their second yellow card, and seemed to feel it was unfair. Our coach kept turning to us and saying, "Keep it upbeat! If you guys get negative, I get yellow carded, and I'm the only coach you've got!" So our team parents were very careful to cheer our girls on and not to scream, "What in the fuck is that kid doing! Make her get her shoe off my kid's thigh!" Eventually, it worked."

So that was it-- the final knell of what felt like the world's LONGEST soccer season ever. The girls got a little sniffly. The parents all wished we could go out and buy each other mojitos or something, because... I mean... Dayum. Since August, y'all!

Anyway, Mate took today off to do a little Christmas shopping with me, and it was... well, it was one of those moments that help make or break a marriage, actually.

I put a big ticket item in the basket for Squish, and Mate looked pained, and I said, "What? This is well within the limit--we have lots of other things we can get her with this!"

"Well yeah! But then you're going to want to buy other stuff on your own!" he said, sounding like this hurt him. Well, I almost DID hurt him after that.

"No, dammit! Remember? We're doing this together so we can both agree on their presents and we don't spend too much money on shit they really don't need? THAT'S THE WHOLE REASON YOU TOOK THE DAY OFF!"

(A little sheepishly) "Oh. Yeah. You're right. Sorry."

So, well... it was a start. Like the guy said as he was ringing up the tiny pile we managed to buy. "Your video game's in the bag next to the comfy pants." And thereya go. One thing for Chicken, and one for Zoomboy--same bag. A shitload more shopping to do!

Oh-- Big T asked this one today, feeling a little sorry for himself, I could tell. "Mom, do you talk to me differently than you do the other kids?"

I was out of patience. "Have you heard me to tell you to brush your teeth if you want to be a princess?"


"How about 'No, dammit, we're not going to McDonalds for one more goddamned toy!'"


"Have I started dishing on hot men lately? Have we had any scintillating conversations about Alex O'Laughlin or Jensen Ackles?"

"Oh HELL no!"

"Well then, yes. I DO talk to you differently than I talk to the other kids."

"And I'm grateful."

"You should be."

On the writing front, I am thrilled to announce my homework's done! I have officially completed one edit of Talker's Redemption and my publicity homework for Jack & Teague's first story, Yearning. (Those of you who love Jack & Teague, I have to tell you, I was tickled to realize that their release date, February 11th, was also the day of their wedding ceremony that starts out Rampant. I don't think it was on purpose, but it sure was awesome!)

And that's about all-- we spent our weekend freezing our asses off in the rain, and doing it joyously, and now Chicken is back in the world of writing a paper for Grape's of Wrath. (Poor baby--all I've ever read are book reports for that beast... she has my sympathy.)

Anyway-- I shall leave you with this:

On his way to bed tonight, Zoomboy put his arms out from his sides and started to hop up and down.

"Lookit me! I'm a jackhammer!"

Chicken and I couldn't stop laughing:-)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Nanowrimo and a Surprisingly Full Plate

Okay-- the whole thing about nanowrimo sounds ludicrous, doesn't it? It's all about writing a novel in a month, and, really? Who does that?

Well, the goal they set you is 50,000 words, which his about the size of one of those Harlequin Temptation books-- the kind with the wonderfully lurid red covers and the super-slick storylines inside, and, yes--something that long, really CAN be pumped out in about a month.

Because I'm me, my novel was longer than that.

It came to about 84,200 words.

I think that the final number in the nanonwrimo calculation engine (which was, oddly enough, about 600 words behind the one on my MS Word program-- don't ask me to explain, but it did piss me off) was 79,600 roughly--but the final verdict (on December 2nd) was 84K. I'm oddly proud of that. Don't ask me why.

Maybe it was because the story was dragon ridden--and yet, I was mostly sane for this dragon ride, and I feel like the story was well crafted. Maybe it was because I sent it off to my beta readers on a chapter by chapter basis, and was met with a lot of satisfying, "No! You can't leave it there!" and "Auuuughhh! How could you do that to them!" and "Poor Xander! What's he going to do?" or "Poor Chris--he's so unexpectedly fragile!" sort of responses. (By the way, if you've never written a book chapter-by-chapter for beta readers, it's a little bit like eating one crack-laced cookie at a time. Man, you will climb mountains for that next feedback fix--writing another chapter ain't no big thing!)

Anyway, it's finished. It's more than finished. It's revised, proofread, and sent in to my editor, who scoffed lightly when I suggested that she would need tissues, but no vodka and probably no cookies either. (She seemed to be having cookie issues--I'm thinking she almost wanted it to be cookie worthy. Maybe next one.)

The weird thing was, I couldn't explain why that deadline seemed so important to me--just couldn't. No idea. These days, I got nothin' but time, yanno? (Last soccer tourney of the season this weekend... can you hear the people sing?)

But sure enough... on December 1st, as I was pushing hard for the end, there dropped on my plate the revisions for Talker's Redemption, and some publishing homework for Jack & Teague.

And I've got two Christmas freebies to write!

And yes... writing, and writing alone, can leave you with an unexpectedly full plate!

In Kid news?

This morning, we are taking our reluctant first born to the SAT's. He's come up with six-thousand excuses why he shouldn't take them, but we finally convinced him that it's an American right of passage that must be experienced and endured in order for him to become a man. The fact is, he didn't come up with any of his really GOOD arguments until after he was already registered, and, dammit, if we're gonna pay the $35, he's gonna have to put out a little bit of blood, sweat, and #2 pencil lead!

We are also attending Chicken's soccer tournament in the rain--because we're hardcore stupid like that. It's okay--Squish has been bored silly this week--she can use a little bit of cold and wet. It'll liven up her day!

And Zoomboy's teacher's conference... uhm... can we say learning disability testing? Yeah. Yeah yeah yeah... I figured we could. Except, because Zoomboy's school age, we actually have to call doctors (with T, we called the education department when he was two, and THEY provided the doctors!) and now we're involved with Kaiser and their nefarious "Classes on how to fill out paperwork." Blargh. And Mate is NOT on board with the teacher's suggestion we do this. I tried to explain that Zoomboy was just a little bit... off, in his social skills, and it was hindering his learning processes, and the teacher wanted the gate opened to move him to an alternative classroom environment if the social thing got too painful.

"But he's just shy!"

And this is probably the God's honest truth, yanno? But our family has learned first hand that in today's school environment, being different--even a little bit different--can lead to crucifixion, evisceration, flogging, filleting, and excruciating pain. Whatever we can do to save my Zoomboy from all that? I am the fuck on board.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas With Danny Fit

Have you ever had something you felt you "had" to do, turn into something you "loved" to do, and then turn into something you positively adored?

See, last year, I wrote If I Must (and I can not figure out where my image capture went for that adorable kitten!) and I was REALLY surprised at how well it did. It was light, frou-frou, and totally against my grain and well-earned reputation as someone who likes to just grab heart-strings and yank like I was trying to land a red, beating fish.

I mean, it featured a cat called "Manky Bastard" for sweet Goddess' sake--how adorable is that?

But people seemed to like it--even when they gave it three stars on goodreads, they were like, "It's cute! It's a comfort read! I loved it!" And I was like, "Hey-- here's a whole new way to look at writing! It doesn't have to rip your heart out!" And I indulged in that once or twice-- "Phonebook", "Gambling Men", "Bella's Brother"-- these were all FUN to write, and I've enjoyed the hell out of them.

So when the chance to write something for Dreamspinner's next Advent Calendar came around, i was like, "Okay. Fun! Christmas! I've got the perfect idea!"

I told you guys that last year, Mate and I started a workout regime. It didn't last long, but watching the energetic, charismatic fitness gurus take me through my paces, ("How'd you do on the ab-video, Mate?" "I rolled around a lot." "Me too." "And that dark-haired chick didn't even break her smile. Bitch.") sort of made me wonder: Were there any other fat people out there who wanted to just, you know, look good and do well for the guy on the dvd?

Enter Kit, my chubby virgin. Kit is the classic browbeaten child who grows into a shy, awkward adult. Enter Jesse. Jesse is cute as a button, as much of a sci-fi geek as Kit, and... damaged. It's every day damage, but Kit has been dreaming about Danny Fit, and the dichotomy between what Kit has been dreaming about, and what a real relationship is like... well, that was the fun of the story.

This story had surprising heart for me. I was expecting happy and light, and I got poignant and sweet, and when I was going through edits, I found myself continuously going, "Awwwwwwwwwww..."

And that makes me smile.

So, folks, let me introduce Christmas with Danny Fit.

I hope you guys love this story-- like I said, it surprised me, and Mary Calmes (who just e-mailed me about it) said that it surprised her too, but in the good way where you're expecting one thing, and what you get is totally out of formula, but it really works. This makes me smile too. I love it when stories surprise me like that--it is, as always, one of the ways in which literature shows me the divine.

Oh yeah-- and let us not forget the prayer! (I almost forgot it with Hammer & Air... sales have only now barely recovered!) Holy Goddess, Merciful God, let it not suck! Canyagimmehallelujia? Amen!

And in other wonderful news? For those of you who have gone to the website to check out "Dreams of Terrible Brightness", you will know that the story was inspired by a fellow writer, Patric Michael, who had cancer.

Emphasis on had.

Those of you who've been privy to my own private roller coaster, know that this news was a high point, and I actually got to scream with joy.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Shit I Will Never Understand

(Forgive the promotional picture for Christmas With Danny Fit-- it comes out on Wednesday, and I'll chat it up then, because it features a chubby virgin, and I really adore it, and I haven't talked a lot about it, so I thought I'd just get everyone thinking about it first:-)


Back to shit I will never understand...

* How Squish can sleep through the apocalypse, but she can't seem to GO to sleep without flights of angels singer her cherubic little eyes closed.

*. Why Steve can't understand that she is not, was never meant to be, and never shall be an outside cat.

* How the washer works.

* Why it sometimes chooses not to.

* How a reasonably (for us) clean house can self-destruct in the time it takes me to bend down and pick up a scrunchy from the floor.

* How Chicken could have left a book called "Island of the Sequined Love Nun" on the floor of a movie theatre, and nobody there claims to have seen it. (We're on a Christopher Moore kick-- I'm a little disappointed to lose the book, to say the least.)

* Human viciousness. (In the news, in person, in specific and in general, it boggles me. Just does.)

* Human kindness. (When it's aimed at me, and it comes unsolicited, I am always grateful.)

* How people can call a perfectly good ending in which two lovers live together until the end of their days, "bittersweet." (But it pleases me that they do--even if the end of Hammer & Air DID make people cry.

* How soccer season is STILL going on.

* How grammar schools can just cut their days in half for an ENTIRE WEEK and not expect parents to be just SCRAMBLING for day care. (Of course, it's on the week when the EDJ resumes again, so Mate's up for child care. He's not pleased.)

* How I could have nearly two hundred unopened messages on my e-mail. What in the hell am I saving them for? Later? TWO YEARS later? (This does explain why my uncle put a sign up for my grandma over the paper shredder, though. The sign reads: For stuff that you think you'll look at later.)

* Why I keep putting off looking at those messages.

* Why the dog's digestive system started setting it's phasers on 'kill'.

* Why none of my kids can EVER top talking. (Okay... I may have a teeny-tiny little bit of a clue with this one...)

* Why I felt compelled to watch Dead Poet's Society this last week. Twice.

* Why my son loves it as much as I do. (He watched it three times.)

* Why the sweet older man who sent me the most adoring fan letter was forced to wait until his fifties to acknowledge that he was in love with another man. (They spent 28 years together, and his husband passed away in 2008 at the age of 95. One of the most romantic things I've ever read--all truth.)

* How I could cry at the end of Tangled. Am I really that much of a sap? (Don't answer that. And yes--the movie was awewewewesome!)

* Where my rainbow lanyard wandered off to, dammit! I LOVE that thing!

* Why even my knit socks disappear in the drier. (Goddammit, they're the ONLY SOCKS IN THE HOUSE THAT AREN'T WHITE!)

* Why one ply malabrigo hasn't been declared fattening, addictive, or illegal. (Everything else that feels that good has been.)

* Why I love my rattiest sweatshirts with the white-hot passion of a thousand suns.

* Why knitting a sock makes me feel like an uber-genius.

* How sitting on the couch with Squish in my lap can be one of the greatest accomplishments of my day.

* How writing 73K for nanowrimo can be considered winning it when I didn't actually finish the frickin' manuscript! (But I will--it's really close.)

* How to download the frickin' badge so I can brag about it anyway!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day After

My big kids don't like to do anything on the DAY AFTER. Seriously-- they make BIG plans to sit, play video games, eat leftovers, read, watch whateverthehelltheywant on television, whatever. Unfortunately, the little kids have made no such plans. Is it 48 degrees F. outside? Yeah-- they want to go to the park! Yippee! The park!

Mama said no.

I've had this bizarre...(shakes hands, shrugs, makes weird gestures to unruly lower extremity) THING going on with my leg. See, the thing is, I had that plantar's thing, the facsaeitis (Okay-- YOU spell it!) for the early part of the week. I had no patience with it, right? I walked on it. It got BRUTAL. So I decided to rest it, and I spent, I dunno, all Tuesday, just letting that thing rest, knitting, whatever. You know... being a good little girl and resting with my afflicted foot up in the air.

And then a weird thing happened. We're talking the world's biggest fucking charlie horse, and it WON'T GO AWAY! Now before everyone gets upset about a DVT, my stepmom freaked out about it already, gave me the checklist, and the thing is, the back of my leg is CONSTANTLY stressed and bruised, and it doesn't come and go like a DVT. I broke out the magic vibrating wand (get your mind out of the gutter--it's supposed to work on your BACK--I SWEAR it's not as dirty as it sounds!) and worked on my muscles, and it helped, but... it still just... just aches. I stand and stretch it and sit and put it down and stand and stretch it and NOTHING is comfortable--nothing except laying flat in bed, and, seriously, since that happens around ten o'clock at night, that doesn't lend itself to doing ANYTHING productive.

I've never felt more like a multi-ton banana slug in my life.

But it did give me a chance to join a 'chat' which is fun-- pretty much every writer in my genre on the planet showed up online and chatted to each other and left excerpts and stuff, and one of the things I learned via the chat is that Truth in the Dark is going to come out in audio book, and there's just something so... so... so... ROCK-FUCKING-AWESOME about that. I can't wait to hear someone read Naef and be all prickly and sarcastic, and grouchy. I've got a soft spot for that kind of character, and, well, someday you'll know why this story means so much to me. But until then, just be happy for me--it's totally cool, and this story is going to go on to move a whole bunch of people who would not have known it otherwise, and that makes me VERY happy.

And in the meantime? In the meantime I'm gonna go haul my multi-ton banana slug ass out into the 40 degree night and stretch my muscles in the cold cold air and try to pretend I'm not fat, flat-footed, and over forty. (Pretend with me, yes? Make me 25, lithe, and allergic to fatty foods... it'll be fun!)


And I didn't write a Thanksgiving post.

Don't get me wrong--I've got a LOT to be Thankful for. I do. But you know them all by name, you've seen my birthday cards to them, you've heard their bizarre little stories and their quirks and their idiosyncrasies. Yesterday, I spent my time with my family, and in spite of a plethora of funky bullshit that I shan't bother you with, I was deeply, warmly, eternally thankful. But I was also quietly thankful, and although my heart was overflowing, it was overflowing in peace. For a person who uses words with such joy, even I know that sometimes quietly thankful is the way to be.

Anyway-- some book goodies here that I'm not so quiet about. Enjoy!

Michele'n'Jeff and Whipped Cream both liked Guarding the Vampire's Ghost.

And Elisaliked Making Promisestoo.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Blog Post That Wasn't

Okay-- I had a beautiful post--I did. I still do. It was an in depth reflection about when we go out and fight battles and when we stay back and protect the home, and it had a crapload of classical references and movie references and some rock-awesome prose, but, for a lot of reasons, it didn't get put out. Anyone who wants to read it is welcome to send me a PM and I'll send it to you individually, but for now, we're going to settle for a really awful joke about effluvia, and a picture of a sleeping animal.

The awful joke about effluvia was really a realization that Zoomboy had about synonyms:

"Mom, mom! I thought of two more synonyms, want to hear them?"

"Sure!" (I said in all innocence.)

"Two synonyms for 'barf' and 'vomit' are 'throw-up' and 'puke'!"

"Your teacher must be so proud." And so am I. Mostly.

And other than that? Tomorrow I'm going to be up to my eyeballs in pies and other cooking shit--and then it's the split family juggle on Thursday. I'm sort of looking forward to the cooking shit--the family is getting a little stir crazy with all this vacation!

A real blog post next time--swear. Sometimes, it's just that discretion really is the better part of valor.

Reflections on To Kill a Mockingbird

Okay--I love this book and this movie. Doesn't everybody? It does (as most of the pundits say) give you faith in community, and karma, and eventual justice.

But watching it tonight, with my children, I was compelled to take a look at the darker side of the movie. I'm not sure why--maybe it was age, maybe it was circumstance, or maybe it was just the early dark of November and being stuck in front of the television with my foot up, (fascaeitis again) and feeling particularly helpless about stupid things like cooking dinner or playing with the short people or going to the bathroom--either way, two cold, hard truths smacked me in the face like big bear steaks as I watched it tonight.

The first was that Atticus lost.

Yup, you heard me. Atticus lost. We've all raged against the injustice, and we've all felt for Atticus the hero, devastated by that loss, but what about Tom Robinson? Yup. The falsely accused, the victim of the prejudice, he ended up dead--dead for (as the movie points out) no reason. For something as small as wanting to help someone, wanting to make his community a better place, the guy ended up having a warning shot fired into his head--nineteen times. *shudder*

The second was that Atticus' children almost paid the price for Atticus' stand against injustice.

And Atticus kept believing in the best of the world, and yes, Atticus' faith was eventually rewarded but Goddess... it was a near thing. It was a near thing, and the forerunners of the next generation, the people who would carry the word that all people WERE people, would have been dead at his feet, and the tragedy would have been downright Greek, wouldn't it?

I can't tell you all why this hit so hard tonight, except to say that the UN just told us that gay people weren't people in terms of genocide, and I was challenged to reflect on young girls in developing countries and the things they needed in order to have life choices, and I still can't bear to read "Reading Lolita in Tehran" because the odds of THAT ending well are just not good, and... and... the list goes on.

And people like Atticus Finch (or Harper Lee's actual lawyer father) fought injustice every day, and very often lost. And the world hasn't changed that much, and, in the words of Victor Hugo, innocence is still the worst crime of all.

I remember the end of Bitter Moon II. Some of you (and Goddess bless you!) told me that Yarri had to live at the end, even the projected end, thirty years after the bulk of the action, because to find out that she was dead at the beginning of the book was just too hard--it threw into shadow all of the other blood sacrifices made in the name of freedom. We just needed hope at the beginning, that eventually it would end well, and, well, Yarri was that hope.

I think it was that moment when I realized that I could be okay with writing romances, where the potential to pull the trigger on my lead characters were minimized by the genre's need for a Happy Ever After. (Yes, that is in capital letters... trust me. Always.)

And there are times I want to pull out the flaming verbal sword of justice and just annihilate all of the horrible hypocrisy, and the blindness, and, yes, the injustice that crosses my path. I yearn to be Atticus Finch--oh, Goddess, I do. But then I remember Atticus' Finch's children, and how they almost paid the price of his dedication, and I falter. Oh yes--I falter. I fear.Okay--I love this book and this movie. Doesn't everybody? It does (as most of the pundits say) give you faith in community, and karma, and eventual justice.

But watching it tonight, with my children, I was compelled to take a look at the darker side of the movie. I'm not sure why--maybe it was age, maybe it was circumstance, or maybe it was just the early dark of November and being stuck in front of the television with my foot up, (fascaeitis again) and feeling particularly helpless about stupid things like cooking dinner or playing with the short people or going to the bathroom--either way, two cold, hard truths smacked me in the face like big bear steaks as I watched it tonight.

The first was that Atticus lost.

Yup, you heard me. Atticus lost. We've all raged against the injustice, and we've all felt for Atticus the hero, devastated by that loss, but what about Tom Robinson? Yup. The falsely accused, the victim of the prejudice, he ended up dead--dead for (as the movie points out) no reason. For something as small as wanting to help someone, wanting to make his community a better place, the guy ended up having a warning shot fired into his head--nineteen times. *shudder*

The second was that Atticus' children almost paid the price for Atticus' stand against injustice.

And Atticus kept believing in the best of the world, and yes, Atticus' faith was eventually rewarded but Goddess... it was a near thing. It was a near thing, and the forerunners of the next generation, the people who would carry the word that all people WERE people, would have been dead at his feet, and the tragedy would have been downright Greek, wouldn't it?

I can't tell you all why this hit so hard tonight, except to say that the UN just told us that gay people weren't people in terms of genocide, and I was challenged to reflect on young girls in developing countries and the things they needed in order to have life choices, and I still can't bear to read "Reading Lolita in Tehran" because the odds of THAT ending well are just not good, and... and... the list goes on.

And people like Atticus Finch (or Harper Lee's actual lawyer father) fought injustice every day, and very often lost. And the world hasn't changed that much, and, in the words of Victor Hugo, innocence is still the worst crime of all.

I remember the end of Bitter Moon II. Some of you (and Goddess bless you!) told me that Yarri had to live at the end, even the projected end, thirty years after the bulk of the action, because to find out that she was dead at the beginning of the book was just too hard--it threw into shadow all of the other blood sacrifices made in the name of freedom. We just needed hope at the beginning, that eventually it would end well, and, well, Yarri was that hope.

I think it was that moment when I realized that I could be okay with writing romances, where the potential to pull the trigger on my lead characters were minimized by the genre's need for a Happy Ever After. (Yes, that is in capital letters... trust me. Always.)

And there are times I want to pull out the flaming verbal sword of justice and just annihilate all of the horrible hypocrisy, and the blindness, and, yes, the injustice that I see on the planet. I yearn to be Atticus Finch--oh, Goddess, I do. But then I remember Atticus' Finch's children, and how they almost paid the price of his dedication, and I falter. Oh yes--I falter. I fear. I am not the man of my family-- I can not go out like John Proctor and expect Elizabeth Proctor to take care of my children and tell them my story. As rock-frickin'-awesome as Mate is, one of the things that Elizabeth Proctor did as she was being hauled away in chains was to make sure the bread would be baked and the children would be made unafraid, and that is my job as a mother, and I have just enough of a control freak in me to fear that I am the only one who could do that right, and as long as I'm on the planet, it's my real duty to make sure that I'M the one who gets to do it.

There is a scene in The Two Towers (the second Lord of the Rings movie) in which all of the men are preparing for the battle of Helm's Deep. I hate this scene. Old men are buckling armor on twelve year olds and women are in the back of the cave, preparing to defend the children to the death should the lines of defense break down. When I first saw this scene, Big T was ten,(but the size of a twelve year old) and I thought, "No way! I'll go out and fight that battle, and my children can be safe in the back of the cave.

The next LotR movie, I saw while nursing a VERY quiet Zoomboy when he was two weeks old. (He ate and slept the whole time--last time in his entire life he was that still.) I watched the movie and that scene stuck with me. I realized that Big T would HAVE to go out and fight with his father, and I would have to huddle in the back with the women and children, and I was rather affronted. I was going to have to be a woman with children. *I* was going to have to be a woman with children-- I was going to have to put people I loved on the front line and cower in the back. Well, Jesus, didn't THAT suck rocks, right?

But, I reasoned, I would not be in child recovery forever. But now I'm getting older, and my older children are getting to the age where I can no longer justify going out to die for them when I have younger children who will need me as well.

And that's when the imaginary role playing merges with the reality of my role as parent once again. I have raised my older children to the point where they want to go out and change the world, and, Goddess forbid that I don't let them. I need to let them. I need to rein in my flaming verbal sword of justice and keep my home a sanctuary where the next couple of warriors who will go out and change the world continue to flourish.

I need to remember that Bethen and Lane Moon stayed home and kept their home safe, as all of their children ventured out into the wide world, and there comes a time when that is a valid part of changing the world too.

I've never claimed to be an elf--I've always claimed to be a hobbit. Every time I've tried to venture out and be an elf has ended in disaster. But the hobbits kept the Shire home, and sometimes, it's that hope of the Shire that's needed for the warriors to go out and do their job. Sometimes the Atticus Finches of the world have to tell the public lie in order for justice to be served. Sometimes, the flaming sword of justice has to be sheathed, so our children can draw it when it's needed.

But that doesn't mean I don't watch that thing, as it flickers in the sheathe in my heart, throwing the darkness of my doubts into stark relief on the wall, and yearn to blind the world.