Sunday, September 30, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

Welcome to my SSS! For the month of September, I'm highlighting sentences from a short story that released two years ago, a contemporary gay erotica piece called Yesterday's Names. Jonathan has traveled to Italy to visit Nettuno, where his hook-up from the night before has surprised him by showing up to keep him company for what he knows will be a long, hard day. I'm skipping slightly ahead to that evening, after Jonathan has returned to Rome, his purpose for coming to Italy fulfilled.

...The images that filled my head weren’t the ones from the club, though I doubted I would ever forget the taste of his mouth on mine. No, I remembered him in the sunlight, the slight pressure of his hand on my back, the lyrical cadences of his voice as we talked more about our families. I had learned he had three siblings he hadn’t seen since he’d come out, and nieces and nephews he’d never seen at all. He’d told me about moving to Rome, and his first boyfriend, while I talked about how excited I’d been the first time I’d been able to kiss a guy without worrying Pastor Grant was going to catch me and renounce me for a sinner.

I didn’t want to spend the night with a stranger. I wanted Davide.


To check out all the other six sentence contributions, head over to the official website.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Dean on Dean

I discovered James Dean my sophomore year of college. I was working at a video store and plowing through my obsessive list on Oscar-nominated movies, when I decided to give East of Eden a go. I'd loved the book when I read it in high school, which had been prompted by my earlier love for the miniseries with Jane Seymour (does anybody remember that? Man, I feel old). I knew the movie version would be different, but I didn't know by how much.

I fell in love.

Okay. I fell in obsession.

Do you know how hard it is to be obsessed with a dead actor from the 50s who only did three movies in a day and age before the Internet was widespread? I had to rely on finding books to fill in the gaps of my knowledge. In Michigan. Before Amazon. I did, of course, because I was just that determined.  At one point, I had such a huge Dean archive, I had to hide it from my then-boyfriend for fear of looking crazy. And it's weird, but neither of his other two movies got to me the way East of Eden did. For whatever reason, that one hit a chord at just the right time.

My love for Dean waned over the years. I broke up my Dean library before moving to the UK to get married (because there's nothing like evaluating your pack rat tendencies like paying for overseas shipping on your belongings), and my obsession became just a happy memory.

But I still smiled like a schoolgirl when I saw this gallery of Dean pictures from Life magazine. Some of them are cultural icons. A couple I'd never even seen before. All of them made me nostalgic, for my more carefree college years, for the young man whose life was cut too short, for simpler times gone by.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Getting involved


I always start writing a book hoping readers will fall in love with my characters. That they'll feel for them. Cry with them. Smile with them.

Then I read someone else's book that I have those feelings for, only to get the rug yanked out from under me because of a plot twist that feels like betrayal, and I think, "Why on earth would I inflict this on anybody else?"

I was asked when I finished the book this afternoon and was ranting about it if I was going to bother continuing with the series. My response: "Oh, hell, yes. I did not come this far not to find out how it ends."

And you know what? I keep thinking, The author better fix what she broke.

But that means she did her job, doesn't it? Over the course of this series, she's made me come to believe/love/trust in the characters and world she's built. So much so, that it felt like I got my heart ripped out as I devoured the last fifty pages of the book.

I guess I have to respect her for that. And continue to wish that my readers might feel a fraction of it for my stories.

But...

...she still better fix it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Bad Lip Reading

Generally speaking, I don't read YA. It's just not a genre that interests me enough to add to my TBR repertoire. However, like everything else in life, there are exceptions. The biggest is The Hunger Games trilogy.

I only read the first book because my  twelve-year-old daughter begged me to do so before I took her to see the movie last March. Only...I didn't do it before we went. I enjoyed the movie enough, though, to pick it up that week. I then devoured the next two. They're not perfect--the choice to use 1st person narrative forces information dumps in the last two chapters of each book in order to get all the information out that Katniss isn't privy to, which is extremely annoying--but each one gave me an emotional wallop when I finished it. I just love the characters, and the world, and its rawness, and...well, I loved them enough to see the movie six more times over the next four months.

All that being said, when I saw this video on YouTube yesterday, I giggled like a ten-year-old. The humor in it is childish and a little stupid, but, well, yeah, I still laughed at it. Maybe you will, too.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Unbranded

The most consistent piece of marketing advice given to authors is, "Brand yourself."

Guess what I refuse to do, lol?

I understand the reasoning behind it. It makes perfect sense. Write the same genre/type of story, with a consistent voice, and build a readership who just might follow you into other genres when you're ready. However, for me, there's a problem with that.

If I had to write the same genre or type of story over and over again, I'd go nuts.

The only brand I can give myself is romance writer. I just can't--and frankly, refuse--to limit the romances I write to a particular sexuality. Yes, it's been primarily m/m recently, but that's because I've been satisfying my het needs in stories I'll never sell. That'll change soon, I know. I'm starting to reach my m/m limit. But the thing is, I'm not interested in the specific body parts. I fall in love with the people behind the facades. Those are the love stories I want to do. How can I ignore entire segments of the population, just because of their orientation?

Barring limiting myself by sexuality, I know I could always brand myself in a specific genre, but here, too, I run into the same problem. I get bored. I finish one kind of story, and the last thing I want to do is write another one like it. I can't even read in a single genre. My TBR books are separated out into eight different categories, each equally interesting and entertaining for me, and I never read the same genre consecutively (except when I'm stuck in a series, but that's another issue entirely).

Don't get me wrong. I admire those authors who excel at this. I also recognize everybody is different, their writing needs are different, their goals are different. My one and only goal has ever been to create imaginary worlds. I spent years in theatre and film, performing, shooting, editing. I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't living in imaginary places.

These stories are my havens. Each one has to be unique, because each serves to satisfy some need of mine. When I'm feeling buoyant, I'll write bantery contemporary. When I'm contemplative, I tend to do historicals. I write a lot of paranormals because I get tired of having to restrain myself to the physics of the real world. The list goes on.

So no matter how much I know I should, I just can't brand myself. I'm not an m/m writer. I'm not a paranormal writer. Sometimes, I even wonder if I'm necessarily a romance writer.

If I'm anything, it's a storyteller.

Now that brand sounds right.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Folsom Street Fair

I'm currently losing a battle with what I suspect is a sinus infection, so my coherency is minimal today.

With that in mind, I'm just going to direct people to the San Francisco Chronicle, and their article about the Folsom Street Fair this past weekend. There's a slide show of what I know are some of the tamer possibilities that abounded at the fair, too. Events like this, the fact that they even exist, are just one more reason why I love living in the Bay Area.

Life should be about embracing differences, not condemning them.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

Welcome to my SSS! For the month of September, I'm highlighting sentences from a short story that released two years ago, a contemporary gay erotica piece called Yesterday's Names. Last week, the distraction Jonathan was searching for culminated in a hook-up with Davide and a sweet good-bye. Now, he's off to Nettuno for the purpose of his visit to Italy, where he is surprised by Davide showing up, to be there since he believes Jonathan needs a friend.

Within two minutes, we were back in the sunshine, a map of the cemetery with the grave I wanted clearly marked in hand.

Not all of the crosses bore names. I tried not to look at them too closely as we walked by, but when we passed the third one with the same inscription, I pulled my glasses off to scrub at my eyes.

Davide immediately stopped. He waited patiently for me to pull myself together, silent and present, the only two things I needed right now.

If I was losing it over, “Here rests in honored glory, a Comrade in Arms, known but to God,” how did I ever think I was going to make it with a grave I actually recognized?


To check out all the other six sentence contributions, head over to the official website.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah


I don't even know where to start.

I just finished this. I'm a little late to the game--it came out in 2007 to quite a bit of critical fanfare--but if you saw my TBR pile, you'd understand why it took me so long. It's the true story of Ishmael Beah, a young man from Sierra Leone, who, at age 12, saw his country torn apart by war. Rebels destroyed his home when he happened to be gone, so he and those friends he was with at the time, began their long journey in an attempt to stay alive. They eventually have no choice but to join up with the government army, and the peaceful Beah is turned into a killer.

The story doesn't stop there. Beah is chosen for rehabilitation, at which point he's forced to overcome the addictions the government fostered as well as all the violence he's wreaked. But see, the thing of it is, the tone of this book is straightforward and unapologetic. Beah just tells things like they were, without asking for pity and forgiveness. His is the story of a boy who did what he needed to survive.

It's all the more harrowing for that honesty.

Don't think that it lingers on his time as a soldier. It takes a good half of the book to get to that point. We meet the boy first. We go with him as he runs and runs and runs and starves and watches his friends die, so that by the time he joins the army, we're as desperate as he is. We can understand the need for order that he finds. But just as we're reaching the point of overload for his soldier life, he's rescued from it, at which point we follow along his rehabilitation journey.

It's as uplifting as it is discouraging, the latter because it seems so unfathomable for those of us outside of these war-torn countries to truly appreciate the desperation they face, the former because Beah is proof there is always hope.

If you haven't read it, and if you can tolerate graphic imagery, I can't recommend this enough.

And if I can't convince you, maybe watching Ishmael talk to Jon Stewart can.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Doing it DIY-style

I have a DIY project this weekend. Or maybe next weekend, since this one seems to be getting busy fast.

See, two days ago, I saw this on Craigslist:


I've been looking for a corner unit to fill a space, and though I wasn't 100% sure this was going to fill the bill, I bought it anyway. I had to. It's solid wood with dovetail joints, and she wanted $40 for it.

By the way, I'm still not sure it fits where I want it. But we'll see.

Anyway, it's old. And nicked. And is in desperate need of a good cleaning/sanding. So my plan is to strip this baby down, then polish her back up again. I mean, look at her! She's got great bones. With the right attention, she could be gorgeous. A new stain, maybe new hardware.

What would you do with it?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The state of my writing world

It dawned on me that I haven't actually talked about my writing since I started blogging again. I should probably rectify that.

There's an upcoming pax for Amber Allure featuring noir stories, of which I'm a part. I had a great idea for a scifi noir and threw myself into it. The only trouble is, last week when I hit 20k on it, I realized it was going to be too long--way too long--for the pax collection. Back to the drawing board for me.

It only took me a day or two to come up with something new, so I started that on Saturday. The way that's going, I might even have it done before GRL. It's called "The Low Between," and it's set in 1952 New York City, with an ex-cop, a wannabe actor, and a dead body they can't explain. I'm loving it.

I've also been editing an m/m historical that I finished a few months ago. This one's been a toughie for me, mostly because it was written during a time of such great stress in my life. I wanted to get some distance to make sure that I could look at it clearly. It's also tough to categorize. It's got magical elements, but I'm very reluctant to label it paranormal even though that's probably technically what it is. It's more like magical realism of a sort, though again, not really. Set in the rural Midwest in 1934, it's about a young man and his dreams when a traveling carnival arrives for the Fourth. As for a title...I'll probably be struggling to come up with one when I'm done with the edits.

My goal is to get both of these done and submitted by the time I leave for GRL. Then, when I get back, I'll throw myself into the m/m steampunk novella I'm doing for Amber Allure. My editing project then will be one of the het stories I've had rights return to me over the past few years. I had a shapeshifter novel that really should've been a menage that I've been meaning to redo, and I just got back the rights on one in an anthology that is dying to be expanded. We'll see which one catches my fancy.

Did I mention I want to write an m/m/f short story for a Total-e-Bound call, too? And that it's due November 1 if I try? Maybe that'll be my writing project while I'm in Albuquerque.

It's good to back in the writing saddle again. :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

GayRomLit

This past weekend, a number of authors met up in the UK for a writing conference celebrating LGBT. I would've loved to go, but clearly I'm on the wrong side of the ocean now so I just got to hear about it all afterward. The nice thing is, however, I'm in the right country--even just a couple states away--for another get-together next month.

I'm talking about GayRomLit in Albuquerque.

GayRomLit isn't the usual convention or conference. The organizers like to call it a retreat, basically a long weekend (starting on Thursday, the 18th) for readers and authors to interact. There are a whole bunch of parties and customized author events, as well as Q&As, readings, and a booksigning. I didn't go last year, but considering its success and its location for 2012, decided to give it a go. I'm not sure how much partying I'll really do. Those kind of gatherings aren't really my style (though the cabaret-style evening for Saturday sounds right up my alley), but I'm rather keen to sit and talk with people in a more intimate setting. I'm hoping for a lot of that, actually.

On top of that, I've signed up for a Q&A, and I'm bringing books, both mine and some as Jamie Craig, for the booksigning. My swag arrived today, too, which makes it all that more real.

If you're going, let me know so I can look out for you!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A little bit of Leverage

I can't help it, it's another TV post. That's because yesterday morning, I got to watch one of Sunday night's episodes of Leverage. Does anybody watch this show? I've watched it from the start, mostly because I was a fan of both Timothy Hutton and Christian Kane. I stuck with it because, while it might be formulaic, it was fun formula. The banter was great, the plots energetic and fun, and the performances interesting enough to engage me.

This summer season has shifted my feelings for it a little bit, specifically The Rundown Job, the first of the episodes that aired Sunday night. It centered on Eliot, Parker, and Hardison handling a terrorist threat in Washington, DC, with Adam Baldwin having a guest role. Over the seasons, these three have become my favorites, for different reasons. Hardison is the geek I understand. Parker is the lonely girl, unaccustomed to making personal attachments, that I know. And Eliot...well, Eliot is the ultimate badboy hero, now isn't he? He's got a major chip on his shoulder, he's a loner by nature, and he growls half the time at the people he loves. When these three get together in scenes, it's often funny, sometimes emotional, always entertaining.

Yesterday, I went from liking the show, to loving the show. Mostly because of Eliot.

While I like the direction the show has taken by having Hardison and Parker date, I would have honestly preferred if it had been Parker and Eliot. Don't get me wrong. Hardison is exactly what Parker needs. He brings out the best in her. But the chemistry between Parker and Eliot has been off the hook since the show started. These two get each other. And that moment in the climax of Sunday's episode where they just looked at each other and knew what they were going to do without ever uttering a word, leaving Hardison in the dark and safe? Sealed it for me.

Because I think Eliot and Parker could work, albeit in a different way. They're very similar, and it would take a hell of a lot longer because of their mutual trust issues, but they would combust where Parker and Hardison simmer sweetly.

Except...Eliot will never go there now. He has too much respect for Hardison to ever put Parker in that place again. Which means he's doing the honorable thing and being alone, and when that combines with all his yummy badass-ness? Pretty much my catnip.

Man, I love this show.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A second chance for AI

I thought I was done with American Idol. I really did. It's been so lackluster the past few years, my love for Steven Tyler notwithstanding. And even though I kind of adore Philip Philips, it wasn't "ohmigod, I have to see AI before I get spoiled on Twitter!" (Trust me, sometimes it really sucks living on the west coast. As a spoilerphobe, I've learned that if I really care about a show, I have to stay away from Twitter, which annoys me to no end because it's my favorite form of social media. /rant)

When they announced Mariah Carey, I really thought I was done. I. Am. Not. A. Fan. Even though my husband is. Don't get me started on his diva fixation. I even have the photo proof of Toni Braxton sitting on his lap in Vegas to show it.

But...they've announced the other two judges now. Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban. And I'm all kinds of curious how on earth they're going to gel together. Or work together. Or, you know, support an aging franchise like AI when they're not actually aging themselves.

Frankly, I would've thought Nicki would diss AI as the lamest thing on the planet. That whole too cool for school thing. But it would seem they've taken a page from the judges over on The Voice. I mean, it's not like judging a televised talent show has hurt Adam, Cee Lo, Blake, or Christina's careers. Their chemistry is off the charts. AI would seem to be hoping to copy it.

Will it work? I have absolutely no idea. Frankly, the biggest problem with AI isn't the judges at all. It's the fact that it's become so bloated in the past few years, with two-hour long performance shows that are mostly filler and product placement, and results shows that suffer even more. Getting new faces at the judging table isn't going to solve that problem.

But...yeah, I'm probably going to give it another year to see for myself. In all likelihood, the usual will happen. My favorite won't win, I'll roll my eyes at the overrated singers and lack of real critique, and I'll question whether or not I'll watch again when it's all over.

But I'm going to take the chance and hope that I'm wrong.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

Welcome to my SSS! For the month of September, I'm highlighting sentences from a short story that released two years ago, a contemporary gay erotica piece called Yesterday's Names. Last week, Jonathan Lynch, a teacher who goes to Italy for a very special purpose, met a guy at a club named Davide. After some private time in a dark corner, Davide is walking Jonathan to the taxi stand, holding him close to his side like they are boyfriends. This closeness is what Jonathan is referring to at the very beginning of my six.

...The glow left from my orgasm remained a lot longer than it might otherwise, because of that. The fantasy of having someone like this all the time was almost more delicious than the sex had been. I live a life of closed doors and whispered secrets, where denying who I am is as natural as breathing, where having someone walk next to me only means one of my students is having problems and is trailing beside me in hopes of help. Men didn’t walk me home, or slide their hand into my back pocket as a show of ownership. So I was going to enjoy this as long as it lasted, even if none of it was real. Because for tonight, I was going to pretend it was.


To check out all the other six sentence contributions, head over to the official website.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Thinking outside the box

My husband, who's a science geek to the core, always tells me I'm the creative one in this relationship. But creativity isn't limited to fantasy worlds artists create, whether it's with words, music, or paint.

It's about thinking outside the box. The ability to imagine something that isn't there. Frankly, I marvel at scientists. The lengths they go to, the research they undertake to try and make this world a better place, so many things that all of us take for granted.

For instance, I was reading today about some recent research done at Harvard. A group of people from various disciplines - mechanics, tissue engineering, and materials science - have been working on creating a new substance, a hybrid hydrogel with phenomenal strength and elasticity. Though it's still in developmental stages, the preliminary results are incredibly encouraging in a number of fields, including many potential applications in medicine. It's being posited that it could become an artificial cartilage, replacing broken or destroyed cartilage in humans, a process that is currently impossible.

How amazing would that be? Osteoarthritis plagues millions of people, with joint replacement on the rise. There is no cure for it, just treatment, but if ten or fifteen years down the line, the scientific community finds a way to utilize this hydrogel safely within human biochemistry, a common affliction could become much less so. Those aches and pains that so many have to live with could be a thing of the past.

And that's not even taking into consideration other possible uses for it. The article mentions both robotics and optics, as well as artificial muscles, but I'll bet that's just the tip of the iceberg. It always is, isn't it? We're only limited by our imaginations.

Lucky for us, scientists have some of the best ones.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Mercy Thompson

I love urban fantasy, but I have a confession to make. I'm incredibly picky about which series I follow. There are some popular series out there that I wasn't able to finish the first book with, others where I read it and went, "Meh," and some that just don't appeal to me at all.

Mercy Thompson never fell into any of those.

I discovered them late, when five books were already out. I read the first four quickly, but when I got to five, things kind of stalled. I don't know why. I read the first two chapters, but I just wasn't losing myself in it so I set it aside, hoping it was my mood.

That was about a year ago. I finally finished Silver Borne two days ago.

I don't know what went wrong. I still love Mercy, and Adam, and all the secondary characters, but this one just couldn't grab me. In hindsight, I think a good part of it was that it was trying to fix too much. There were all these threads in Mercy's life, conflicts that had grown out of control, and it felt like the author realized that if she didn't do something about all of them now, she'd never be able to fix them and sew the narrative into a whole tapestry again.

So the story ended up skipping all over the place, with the most interesting aspect of the novel - that of Samuel's issues - getting resolved in the last third by such a case of deus ex machina that I couldn't believe it. I felt cheated. Disappointed.

But more than that? Kind of relieved I'd finished the book so I could move on to the next one.

Not right away. I'm too invested in these characters to give up now. But I think I need a little distance. Book 7 comes out in March, 2013, and I'm probably going to wait to closer to that date so I can read six and seven together. Mainlining series fiction is more fun like that anyway.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Flexibility is important

My husband and daughter have been suffering with a cold the past week or so, but I'd been doing pretty good about resisting it.

Until Monday night.

I have officially lost that battle.

Considering how much international flying I did this year, it's a minor miracle this is my first real cold of 2012. The problem is, however, I don't want to exercise because I can't breathe right, and I could give two figs about eating right since my body is rebelling on me anyway.

So I've given myself permission to be a little lax until I improve.

On health stuff, anyway. Not on writing. I'm sticking with my daily quotas, no matter what.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Much Ado About Whedon

I wish I lived in Toronto.

Or could have traveled to Toronto this past week.

It's not just because their international film festival is going on right now.

Well, okay, it is just because of that, but it's because of a very specific film that premiered there.

Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing.

I'm a Joss fan. A big one. That doesn't mean I love everything he's ever done (Firefly still kind of escapes me), but he hits my buttons pretty darn consistently. Plus, he created one of my favorite shows ever (Buffy).

So when I learned earlier this year that he'd done this black-and-white, shot in 12 days, cast with many of my favorite Whedon actors version of my favorite Shakespeare comedy, I about wet my pants in anticipation of seeing it. I mean, come on. Alexis Denisof as Benedick? He has the theater chops to handle the verse and impeccable comedic timing. Amy Acker? She proved as Illyria that she was more than a pretty face. Nathan Fillion? Clark Gregg? Joss at the helm? How could I not be excited?

Except the thing is...now I have to wait again. I've had the opportunity to hear several of my Canadian friends go on and on about how great it was. Some even shared pictures of the cast (lucky bitcas). The reviews from the professionals have been just as glowing, which is great for the odds of a wider release, but also serves to drive me crazy with the wanting to see it.

Waiting sucks.

At this point, however, I have no other choice.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The perfect hero?

Yesterday, my family and I went and saw Raiders of the Lost Ark at our local IMAX. Neither my husband nor my kids had ever seen it on the big screen before, while I saw it the first time at a drive-in at a young age. We wanted to be able to experience it anew, and mostly, see how it's withheld the test of time.

The answer to that? Very well, thank you.

But while I've always loved Indy, it wasn't until watching it this time that I realized he just might be the most perfect hero ever. I mean, think about it. He's the ideal combination of academic and athlete, using his physical prowess in the name of archaeology and when that fails him, resorting to smarts. Better than that, he's not infallible. The fight with the huge German outside the plane doesn't bode well for Indy, because let's face it, he doesn't have the same muscle the other guy does. He gives a dirty hit when he get one in because really, it's the only shot he's got.

But what tips him over the edge in my book?

Marian.

She's not your typical ingenue. She's ballsy, can drink men under the table, and isn't afraid of throwing a punch. On top of that, she's got girl-next-door looks, so while she's certainly attractive, it's not intimidating in the slightest.

And Indy adores her. In all her annoying attitude. By halfway through the movie, his only mission is to save her.

How can you not love a guy like that?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

I am back to doing SSS! When I had to go on hiatus, I'd been highlighting sentences from a short story that released two years ago, a contemporary gay erotica piece called Yesterday's Names, so I've decided I'm going to stick with that for the month of September. It's the story of Jonathan Lynch, a teacher who goes to Italy for a very special purpose. It's not as easy to face as he hoped, though, and he's gone out to a local club in hopes of some distraction.

He regarded me with a half-smile, wide-set brown eyes friendly and inquisitive. Soft hazel flecks in them caught the evening sun. His dark, shoulder-length hair was combed off his face, tucked behind his ears like it annoyed him rather than as a fashion statement, and the shadows of the beard making itself known for the night barely masked the adorable cleft in his square chin.

“Hello,” he said, his soft voice carrying through the dance music.

Somehow, I managed a croaked, “Hi.” Mr. Personality, that’s me.


To check out all the other six sentence contributions, head over to the official website.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

New Friends

While my writing has definitely slowed down this year, a result of both the real life stuff that I needed to focus on as well as leaving my collaboration as Jamie Craig behind, I've still had my toe in the publishing world.

See, last year, I met this guy through a friend I'd made online. He dabbled in writing, but was curious about publishers he might submit to. I compiled a list for him, and then nothing really happened for a couple months.

Then Riptide, the number one publisher I'd put on the list for him (mostly because it seemed like an excellent match in regards to what he was interested in, they hadn't had any track record at that point for me to base my judgment on except for my respect for Aleksandr Voinov as a writer), put out their collection calls for 2012. He decided to write a short in answer to one of them, I worked with him a little on editing it, and less than two weeks after he'd submitted, he had a contract offer.

That's when Elyan Smith was born. And that short story, Portside, became his very first release, a wonderfully atmospheric (not to mention hot) piece about a boy named Iwan.

I promised Elyan I wouldn't be effusive about him in this, and I won't. Read the reviews at Riptide and see for yourself what others are saying about his work.

Elyan doesn't write romance. His style is far more literary in tone, his emphasis on creating characters that could pass you on the street rather than plot. That sense of realism combines with his fresh voice to make something you're not likely to read anywhere else. Do I think he's for everybody? Absolutely not. Nobody is. But he's one of a handful of writers whose work pushes me to do better. When he's on, he's absolutely magical.

That's not being effusive. That's just how I see it.

Since his debut, he's contracted two other works, a story in the charity anthology, Lashings of Sauce, and a Christmas story in an upcoming collection at Riptide, edited by Sarah Frantz. Trust me. This won't be the last you see of him.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Unpopular opinions

On Thursday, Dear Author posted an article about a high school girl's basketball coach who'd written a how-to guide for women on how to make a man love you. In it, he makes claims that have infuriated a lot of women. Many readers have weighed in on their opinion of this, and most tend to agree that he should be fired. That his misogynistic attitude is too creepy to be allowed near high school girls because he wrote the book as non-fiction, claimed workplace experience with women, and used his real name.

I have to admit, I don't agree with the popular opinion on this one. While I intensely dislike his attitude, as well as the admission of so-called real world experience (though he never cites the students specifically, that's an inference everyone is making, and honestly, how do we know he's not referring to all the female teachers he's worked with over the years), unless he's in some way inappropriate with the kids, I don't think there's fair basis to force him out of his job. To me, it wouldn't be any different than firing a female teacher who wrote erotic romance. A judgment is being made about him that may or may not be correct, and frankly, firing someone just because they're an asshole isn't right. Any one of us has worked with people we thought were awful, women who were catty bitches, men who were chauvinistic pigs. That doesn't give us the right to take away their job, just because we don't like or agree with them.

I understand that he works in a profession that demands higher standards regarding his personal life than others. Odds are good that he'll be held accountable for it. But you know, I can't agree with it if this is the sole reason used for his firing. It would make me a hypocrite since I would get equally outraged at a woman getting fired for writing erotic romance. Would I like his coaching my daughter? No. But unless his attitude is bleeding into his job performance - and nobody can say it is at this point - all I can do is make sure that I've done my role as a parent and taught her to recognize acceptable behavior and mores.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Exercise wins

I talked about losing weight before my hiatus, but I've attacked the entire process with new vigor ever since returning from the UK. I'm back to counting calories with LoseIt, but exercising presented a different problem.

See, it gets hot here in the summertime. Triple digits in August and September isn't unheard of. And our elliptical machine sits in the garage, which, in the throes of that kind of heat, turns into an oven.

So using the machine to burn calories? Probably not in my best interest right now.

With that in mind, I started up my membership at the gym again. It's a fifteen minute walk from my house so on top of whatever I do there, I can very easily add in a half hour of walking, too. I have plans to try yoga out - they offer a beginner's/gentle yoga course - but first on the schedule is water aerobics. It's actually pretty ideal for me. I have wonky joints, and specifically arthritis in my hip and foot (and how much do I hate that I have osteoarthritis before I'm 45, blech), so being in the water helps take the pressure of them, making it easier to stick it out for the full fifty minutes.

But I won't pretend to like it. Exercising is not my idea of a good time.

On the other hand, neither are health problems.

So...exercise wins.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Long, Sad Summer

So.

I haven't posted since May.

I haven't done much writing, either. There's a reason for that.

See, in May, I received some rather distressing news about my mother-in-law. A few years ago, Mary was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and ended up developing pulmonary fibrosis as a result. She was doing all right, though, even managing to fly from the UK to see us in California twice a year.

She got sick in February and ended up in hospital as a result. Something kicked her pulmonary fibrosis into overdrive, and by April, she was on oxygen.

A month later, the hospital sent her home. There was nothing more they could do. My father-in-law became her full-time caretaker. Her prognosis wasn't good, because there is no way to cure or reverse pulmonary fibrosis at this time.

As soon as the kids were done with school, we flew to the UK and stayed for five weeks, knowing when we left it would likely be the last time we ever saw her.

She passed away on August 4. My life will never be the same.

It's taken us a while to get our groove back. My husband stayed in the UK to help his father and didn't get home until a week ago today. But as much as I still miss her, and as hard as it has been to get life on track, I know she would be pissed as hell at me for putting my writing on the back burner for much longer. She was one of my staunchest supporters, and I would be dishonoring her memory by giving up on something that has always brought me so much joy.

So here I am, not giving up.

The thing of it is, though, I am looking at life in new ways now. I've never lost anyone this important to me before. I've never been thrust into this position of questioning my own mortality before, or fearing the loss of everything that makes my life pretty darn amazing. While I'll be resuming writing posts like Six Sentence Sunday (starting this weekend, woo hoo!), my blog will likely be a lot more than that from now on. I've turned hugely gung ho about getting as healthy as possible, so there will be healthy eating posts and whinges about exercise.

And you know, posts about the things that make my life interesting. Fun. Sometimes infuriating.

My life. For better or worse.

For Mary.